ABGB July 23rd @ 8:30pm
Red 7, Aug 22nd @10:00pm
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Quite to the contrary, 80,000+ people made it the only place they wanted to be the weekend of June 12th-15th. The 13th installment of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was one for the books, with amazing performances, great food, and The Dunwells! Playing what many deemed as an insane amount of shows, The Dunwells rocked out with Bonnaroovians three times throughout their Saturday visit to The Farm. The Dunwells started off the day by playing a turned down acoustic set at the Ford Garage with all of their wonderful tunes coming from a car stereo! For their second show, the band headed over to the Sonic Stage, bringing fans that they had made at the Ford Garage with them, to play a full electric, rock n’roll show! The Dunwells lit up the stage, having some say it was the best show they had seen all day.
Towards the end of the show the band did a quick on stage interview before finishing out the set with their hit song, “I Could Be A King.” Last, but certainly not least, The Dunwells trekked over to the New Music On Tap Lounge presented by Miller Lite for their final set of the day. The band, carrying on the momentum from the previous two shows, put on a dazzling performance running through previous hits and brand new tracks alike. On the other side of the barriers, the crowd was going crazy with tons of dancing, clapping, and even a few crowd surfers! Although the boys were working hard, Bonnaroo wasn’t all business. The band had some down time, and had the chance to catch up with their friends Bronze Radio Return and Lake Street Dive! Overall, Bonnaroo was a huge success for The Dunwells, playing three awesome sets, garnering even more fans, and getting to catch up with old friends! Hopefully we will get to see the band there next year!
AMAZON or ITUNES
Somewhere around the time you drag a cursor over the little orange Microsoft "P" for the first time, bullet points become equivalent to what's deemed important. A bullet point acts as a "check-this-out " tactic in a sixth grade PowerPoint slideshow. And in a band's EPK-slung at booking agents, talent managers and anyone with C3 on their LinkedIn profile. But it's everything a bullet point lacks that humanizes a subject. This is the band Speak. Their bullet points are listed above. And this is their humanness.
"My mom signed her record deal on her [pregnant] belly. " It's the eve of Thanksgiving Eve and Troupe's thin frame is seated in a wooden chair at the very well-lit, very noisy Riverside bar that masquerades as a coffee shop. His eyeballs are the size of the Geico lizard and peer straight ahead. Troupe's mom is Christine Albert, a local Austin singer-songwriter. Albert played Austin City Limits in 1994, back when it used to be on UT's campus, in the I-look-bigger on-TV Studio 6A. Troupe, 25, is the frontman (vocals/keys) for the band known as Speak. He and his band have played ACL, too, but it was the ACL with the words "Music Festival " tacked behind it. The one where 200,000 wristbands gather each year in Zilker Park. "I went to the first five ACL 's," Joey, 28, beams proudly as his brown eyes blink behind his thick, dark-brown glasses. The Speak bass player wears a grey sweatshirt with the words "Punk Newman" stamped across the chest. "Yeah, they interviewed me on the news." Anchorman voice. "'The guy who 's gone five years in a row!' " Both Troupe and Joey are always-lived-in-512-area-code folk. As are Jake Stewart, 25 (drums), and Nick Hurt, 25 (guitar/vocals), the other two Speak members. Nick's visiting LA, and Jake's in Europe at the moment, and thus can't be here for the late night, pre-Turkey Day rendezvous. And while Joey is very much present, pulling up David Foster Wallace quotes about fish and how they feel about water when it's all they've known, his bullet point and all that comes along with it isn't until later in the slideshow. So it's just Troupe and his black dot for now.
Like all the good boys who grow up in Austin, Troupe spent his early years banging drums and pulling on guitar threads. Both his parents were/are musicians by trade, so Troupe naturally grew up hanging around artists. One became his best friend. And the best friend happened to make video games. "So," Troupe's face is looming and large. "We started making games together when I was eleven." Troupe scored the video games, and electronic music soon became his medium. He landed a couple of game-related internships in high school. Got his first paid, video-game-composing gig at sixteen. By the time he was trekking off to the University of Southern California in 2006, Troupe's declared major was wrapped up in film composing, but it was the short, pinging, somehow addicting gaming noises that his ears had learned to crave; like Mario to his Princess Peach. But Troupe also had rock n' roll-the Austin, eyes-glazed-over-at-Antone's kind-branded on those eardrums. So Troupe pummeled his drums in jazz band. And he dabbled at his electric six-string in his high school rock band. And he kept his soft-glow gaming world separate from his Stevie-Ray-reigning world. Until he didn't. "I wanted to do more of what I was doing with my electronic music..." he starts. "I want[ed] to incorporate that into the band, rather than just being like, we play Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and that's what the band music is..." And somewhere around the time his synth and his electric guitar were in the let's-get-to-know-each-other phase, Troupe decided to write some words to go along with his beats. Then he picked up a mic. Was it hard to start singing? "It's still hard," Troupe lets his eyes shift a bit. His voice stays at the same intense level that continuously seems to spout from him, but the tone drops just a notch. "My parents were both great singers, and so I was intimidated by that." Troupe does this thing where he wears a button-up shirt and every single button, right to the very top one, is buttoned. Everyone knows you don't button the top button of a button-up shirt. Makes you look like you're getting choked by your own shirt. But Troupe doesn't give a fuck. His top button is buttoned. And you can also tell it is hard for Troupe, the video game composer, to wrap his mind around the fact that the title "singer" also belongs to him. But the thing is, Troupe's vocals are good. Really. Damn. Good. Troupe's chords can hit the drag-your-ribcage-through-the-dirt lows of The National's frontman Matt Berniger. Troupe's voice can also slide over to spew the high sirens streaming from the tortured mouth of Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos. Maybe there's something to Troupe's top button.
Jake's pointed elbows are leaning into the wooden table on Troupe's patio. Jake has on a neutral shirt and a guarded expression. Joey and his thick glasses sit to one side, while Troupe and Nick surround the other half of the oval. Tall, dark-brown bamboo fencing surrounds the group on three sides, giving the feel of a cardboard box with one side ripped off. "Fifth grade, sixth grade Christmas...My brother got a keyboard, my sister got a guitar, and I got a snare drum," Jake states slowly as the list rolls out of his mouth. Following Jake's little-drummer-boy Christmas gift, he took some drum lessons and joined a band. Which he was "promptly kicked out of." "I was plotting with the other members to replace our singer. Turns out that I was also replaced," Jake scoffs. "I was so burned by that experience," Jake's voice hovers for a minute in Austin's 65-degree December air. "I didn't go back to the rock band for awhile, until Speak-Jupiter-4 at the time." The rejected drummer did, however, join his school's jazz band (not to be confused with marching band or orchestra band-"Dear God. Not regular band"), and beat out his frustrations to tunes allied with bow ties and brass instruments. Around the same time in another residence in the Live Music Capitol, Nick was dutifully taking piano lessons. And logging in guitar lesson hours. And by the ripe-old age of eleven, joined a rock-and-roll band. Nick didn't get kicked out of his band. The four-piece "From surf instrumentals to Nirvana!" kids known as Misspent Youth, spent their nights on stage venues that normally housed band members twice their age. Antone's, Stubb's, La Zona Rosa, and Gruene Hall soon became regular recurring ink marks in their music venue passports. Between the years of 2003 and 2005, the quartet also nabbed three "Best Kid Band" wins from the Austin Chronicle's "Best of Austin" edition. "But then," Nick's voice flexes down a notch. His dark round glasses are a stark contrast to his fair skin. His pupils gaze from behind the frames in a Yoko-Ono-poker-face sort of way. He continues. "I just kind of got tired of it-we played a lot of covers..." "I met Nick in the rock camp, or whatever, on the way to high school," Troupe interjects, his white hands grasping his skinny jean knees. Nick turns to Troupe. "I remember you came up and said, ' Hey, I've got this synth.'...You pretty much just said, 'Let's start a band, just do a different vibe'." Nodding. And so it was: the child rock-star guitarist, the video gamer with his synthesizer and newly-found pipes, and the scorned jazz band drummer friend, lured back to the world of garage practices with battered heads and amp blitzing. Jupiter-4 was born.
The three gentlemen of Jupiter-4-named for one of the first crafted synths-jammed and gigged together throughout high school and into their college years. Troupe left for USC in 2006, but came back before the school year was out-the City of Angels' halo didn't quite sit right with him. The ring of Jupiter-4, however, fit quite nicely. The group played many a late-night college house party. They also recorded nearly an album-eight songs-that talked about San Francisco and dancing and reading someone's past by watching their feet. Their music resembled echoes of the band Train mixed with a heavy three liter of pop. And there was plenty of fizz in the boys' pop. "I remember being a freshman in college," Jake stretches his neck forward. "And we were talking to some Canadian label, and it's like, 'We're going on tour this summer, and we're going to be mega famous in the fall.'" Slight pause and a smirk. "First in a series of incorrect forecasts of our future." "Weatherman Jake!" Troupe exclaims from his seat, amused grin across his bush baby eyes. While the Canadian label deal never did come through, someone else did. Music man Kevin Wommack-whose resume is crammed with bullet points, most notably, managing the "How far is heeaaven" Los Lonely Boys-caught wind of a late 2007 Jupiter-4 set at the legendary (and now defunct) Austin venue Momo's. The sound from the dreamy-synthy-Radiohead worshipers struck a chord with Kevin.
The traffic in Austin is crawling on Oltorf as I head to the cafe off South First that doesn't serve meat.It's June and 2014. Over six months since I first began interviewing the band called Speak, who I know now as the charismatic individuals Troupe, Nick, Jake and Joey.Up the walkway. Through the wooden door. Into the back dining room.Three out of the four white chairs are filled with neutral-colored shirts.Smiles.Hello's.Is..."Joey's at work."I sit down at the square table and glance at the faces.The guard's gone from Jake's eyes. Troupe's arms hang at his side. No poker in Nick's face.Gluten-free pasta and Pearl Snaps are ordered.We talk Tom Hanks sightings in LA ("Guys! That was Tom Hanks! They're like, 'Yeah. He walked by awhile ago.'")And we talk CD collections left in the backseats of cars by siblings ("...all her CD's...all her Beatles albums.")And we talk moments where something makes sense.Pedals (released through Wommack's label Playing In Traffic Records) will be out June 24. Pedals single "Gates" is already out. And already making a dent in the digital world while racking up some impressive bullet points: The poppy/techno/Raconteurs drum-heavy little-single-that-could has over 300,000 plays on SoundCloud. It's got a thumbs-up blurb in the popular, you-wanna-be-reviewed-here music blog Pigeons and Planes. And Ellie Goulding-yep, that Ellie Goulding-recently slapped the song on her Instagram feed with the words "This is a good song". Her three million followers are now aware. "[We've] been writing that song ["Gates"] for five years," Troupe says nonchalantly, head tilted. "Pretty actively, too." Wait. What? Why did it take five years? Troupe pauses before he starts. "I have a little thing of thoughts that I come up with when I go jogging..." He fumbles. "Basically songs are like archeological digs. In archeology, you only do as much as you can excavate without damaging the rest of the site. Because you anticipate that tools will evolve throughout time." He's gathered his thoughts now. "In the same way with this song...As soon as we came up with the chord progression, it was like 'This is going to be special', so we had to come back when we had the tools to truly excavate the whole song." Makes sense. Tabs are paid. Everyone stands to their feet. They're meeting up with Joey. He's off work now. And they're got work to do on a new cover song the band's learning-top secret. And who knows. Maybe they'll start tonight on the words of another song that'll be the beginnings of a new archeological dig. It is after all, as good of a time as any to SPEAK
- See more at: http://ovrld.com/cover/speak-bullet-points/#sthash.TxafykiG.dpuf]]>
Keeping some of the new shine they flashed with "Be Reasonable, Diane", "Gates" is restrained by comparison to some of the past songs, but in not being as busy, it successfully draws focus to the rhythm and some of the best lyrical work we’ve heard from them. The song is several years in the works, and though it clocks in at just under four minutes, the ending comes at a bit of a surprise. It certainly makes me ready for this new album!
“Gates” is currently available for preorder.]]>
We're on our way to our first show with Tegan and Sara, September of 2012. 2,200 miles from Austin to Vancouver to play the biggest show we've played at this point — obviously we're all excited and nervous beyond imagining. Considering this is a 36 hour drive we stocked up on new music pretty heavily, and before we left I grabbed Grizzly Bear's Shields which had just come out. We're in the desert somewhere, nondescript but stark and beautiful, and the album finally earns its spot on the rotation. Our van has no aux-in and radio is spotty, so full albums rule the soundsystem. Initial impressions of this one are positive and we're all attentive since no one is exhausted from the rigors of touring yet. This is really good in fact… we're all into it and opinions on Grizzly Bear have been historically divided. But by God they're flexing more and writing stronger songs than they ever have before. No one seems to be offended by the notion that these guys are the next Beatles when it's brought up. Then the final track, Sun In Your Eyes, comes on and we get to 1:22, a moment, a chord progression so ostentatious it beggars belief. It's probably the most transcendent experience I've had listening to music and I think the feeling is shared in the van. These guys are DEFINITELY the next Beatles. And I don't think we've driven more than a few hundred miles without listening to this song since.
My friend Jasper recommended I listen to the latest Knife record. It's hard for me to remember a time before I knew Jasper: I don't think it was that long ago but the nature of touring and recording can really warp your perception of chronology and it seems like we've been friends for ages. Damn, I guess the first time we met was actually in Vancouver — he was playing bass with Tegan and Sara — but that was only 8 or so months ago? Well, ol' Jaz hasn't lead me astray with his music recommendations yet, so I'm excited to get into this album. We're on our way back from playing a couple shows with Ra Ra Riot and feeling incredibly inspired — things are really looking up on the touring front lately! We've channeled some of that energy into an all-night drive back home but my shift is over… it's probably 10:00am or 11:00am and I'm extremely caffeinated but trying to get to sleep on the floor between the middle row of seats in the van. This Knife record is pretty insane but I'm digging it so far. Actually, I think I may have dozed off because I feel like I heard a lengthy period of silence. The album must have ended and started over. It's pretty heavy stuff, I mean… it's kind of crazed. If it hasn't started over it's insanely long — how many hours has it been… two? Three? Six? I can't really tell what just happened honestly but I'm definitely awake now and I want to listen to "Ready to Lose" again, and again, and again….
We're somewhere dark… a Motel 6 maybe. Actually that was a few nights ago, tonight we're crashing on the floor of our friend's house in Seattle. AH right no, we're on the Eastern seaboard and we've just played a killer show but I'm exhausted and I'm trying to catch an extra hour of sleep as we drive to a relative's place outside of town. I had the late-night driving duty the previous day and we didn't get to the motel until after 3am, so I've got a moment of respite tonight and I'd better not squander it. I'm in the back of the van listening to my sleeping soundtrack, A Strangely Isolated Place by Ulrich Schnauss. "In All the Wrong Places" comes on. I know the music but the not the title. Insomnia and touring don't mix, and I always hate it when I'm awake by the time I get to this song… it means I've been failing to fall asleep for 44 minutes. I may as well be throwing our guarantee from the previous nights' show out the window of the van as we cruise down the highway — sleep is as precious as gold on the road. I'm frustrated, but damn if I don't love this song. I always forget to look up what it's called but it's beautiful… and you know… there's actually something great about not knowing… if I listened during the day it might… ruin it… and this really is a great album… and…. song…. and it's definitely making me…. drowsy….. and…..
…And then five minutes later, we usually arrive.
Second, this is actually the last post I’m writing in this process and I’m realizing that “the studio” is the most boring place in which we exist as a band. I mean, I think the most interesting product came out of it, but when I saw the opportunity to write three posts, I thought “hey, there are three metaphysical places that occupy equal importance in our lives, I’ll divvy this up equally!” Well… bad idea. The studio may be the most important of all three in the grand scheme of things, but the vast majority of the time it’s a dark and brooding place filled with waveforms, wall-punching, and logarithmic math. So I’ll take this opportunity to talk about music and production in a more general (and more specific) sense, and leave the gripping narratives to the latter posts.
Accompanying each post I’ve assembled a 10-song Spotify playlist. All the songs are important, but the later posts include songs I don’t specifically address in the accompanying write-up and the music itself is mostly there for context. So to keep some of this takeover about music itself, here’s a thorough analysis of all 10 songs on the “Studio” playlist.
Milk & Honey by Beck
For my money, this is probably the best-produced song of all time. Simultaneously retro and futuristic, digital and analog, organic and artificial… punk, rock, funk, folk, electronic. The final 2 or so minutes are almost insulting in their seemingly off-handed brilliance — who comes up with a chord progression like that and doesn’t even bother to base a whole song about it?
99 Problems by Jay-Z
The opposite of “Milk & Honey”, this song does one thing and it DOES IT WELL. If you think the drums on our song “Gates” are too loud you can blame this record entirely (one mix of Gates had the suffix “nigelmixspoonjayz”). A masterclass on how minimalism can create an enormous sense of scale, a lesson I hope we can properly put into practice on the next album.
Of Moons, Birds & Monsters by MGMT
Dave Fridmann was a huge influence on my mixing approach, and I think this song exemplifies his fearlessness when it comes to bizarre EQ and stereo placement. It hasn’t earned him a great reputation on Gearslutz or other circles concerned with doing things the “right” way, but it has certainly resulted in one of the most glorious and mysterious musical journeys this side of The Beatles.
Do You… by Miguel
We had the privilege as a band to collaborate once with the production team who worked on this song, including mix engineer Serge Tsai. I think I love this song so much because I can imagine him sitting down at the mixing desk at 3:30am, the rest of the team murmuring behind him about how they might have a hit on their hands. After 10 or 15 minutes he turns up the studio monitors to outrageous volumes and blasts the track. Everyone in the studio goes absolutely NUTS when they hear how hard the drums and bass slam — now they’re positive the track will be a hit, and they’re correct. Also, for something so truly soulful, this song is hilarious.
Gene by Gene by Blur
I got heavily into Blur about halfway through the process of recording our album, and while their early songwriting is killer, they didn’t come into their own as exciting producers until the tail end of their career. Their final album Think Tank in particular is a wonky and unstable thing, full of missing frequencies and gaping sonic holes. This song is possibly the wonkiest of them all, but when the backing vocals enter at 1:20 you know it’s glued together with potent musicality.
Nuclear Seasons by Charli XCX
One of the best pop songs of the modern era (so good I was compelled to pay tribute on my a cappella cover EP). The melody and lyric are flawless, the sound is a look into an alternate dimension where even pure gold can grow tarnished and rusted. Between Charli and Kimbra pop music has an incredible and prismatic future ahead.
Always Something by Cage the Elephant
As far as Cage the Elephant songs go this one is harmonically dark for my tastes, but somehow I find myself enjoying it immensely. This song kicks off their second album, and given the drum loops and industrial atmospherics you wouldn’t be remiss for thinking they’d gone full Kid A… until the bridge rip-roars into existence and reminds you that this is the quintessential rock band of the past decade. If “99 Problems” is a masterclass on minimalism, “Always Something” is a study in contrast.
Crack Music by Kanye West
Once again, not my favorite song by the artist. This one doesn’t even rank in my top 50 Kanye songs probably. But the mix… my GOD the mix. Perfectly balanced low and high end, crisp drums and pristine group vocals, yet somehow the song is aggressive beyond reckoning. The horns are warped, the drums drop in and out, samples are bitcrushed and pitched. Good mixing communicates a song’s message clearly… great mixing communicates its own message, and no mix has expressed rage and frustration so poignantly as this one.
Giving Up The Gun by Vampire Weekend
I tend to stay away from mix references that are too similar to our own work — I find it’s a lot more interesting to appropriate elements of wildly different genres than to merely lift best practices from indie rock. But wow this is a hell of an indie rock mix. The way the outro guitar line is foreshadowed by the copy-pasted snippets in the verse, the bizarre vocal reverb effects darting in and out like the first tinglings of a migraine — this is the work of master craftsmen.
Believe E.S.P. by Deerhoof
Listening to great music usually fills me with inspiration and ambition, and I don’t consider myself a jealous person, but I am just straight up PISSED OFF that this album was recorded in a bedroom and mixed on a laptop on the road. Even now when I listen to our album after this one I’m simply embarrassed. I don’t care how highly rated Deerhoof is: they’re the most underrated band of all time. Perfect in every way.