Do you know what day it is? I’ve been waiting for this day all year. It’s March 18, 2012 – one quarter of the way through the year – and the night I experienced the first show I’d write about in 2o12.
It’s not that I haven’t experienced a lot of wonderful shows this year; I have. I see live music nearly every night, and I don’t go out with the intention of seeing a shitty show. So, I have experienced some truly amazing concerts in 2012. I wish I had written about some of them. But I haven’t.
Why Puscifer? Because there’s nothing “standard” about it. I’ve seen this show previously, during an earlier leg of the tour. Yet, it feels different every time. I think about that often – musicians who tour around the world on the same, 10-song, “hit” album for 2. . . or 20 years – wondering if they get bored; experiencing, via their shows, that many of them do. Maynard James Keenan and the brilliant musicians who make up Puscifer have no time for boredom. They’re busy setting the stage – literally, metaphorically, physically, and intellectually – for the show to come. The show-to-come follows the hysterical, thought-provoking (sometimes thought-revoking) pre-show, which comes after Carina Round’s opening show, before she joins Puscifer.
Escondido? It makes sense. Maynard James Keenan invites you to go places you’ve never been. Bring your sense of humor or you’ll miss some of the best parts.
It’s not about politics. Puscifer carries with it conversations about ideas. That’s where the fun and creative solutions originate: conversations about ideas, rather than arguments about politics. Puscifer is not about pushing an agenda. It’s not the “I’m a musician and you’re going to pay me a lot of money to use this time as my platform to push something on you” approach. Instead, Puscifer offers you the platform to create new ideas. Puscifer doesn’t insult the intelligence of the audience. You made it to the show – you know what’s up. Or, you don’t know what’s up, but you’re open to exploring ideas.
Puscifer provides a premium sound experience. I don’t know whether there’s any scientific evidence of this, but I’m of the belief that you should never have to wear earplugs at a concert. If the sound is properly mixed and amplified, it consumes you, not your eardrums. I’ve never needed earplugs during any Maynard James Keenan incarnation: TOOL, A Perfect Circle, nor Puscifer. The sound envelops you, rather than hurt your ears. So, as opposed to hearing muffled music through a set of silicon ear plugs or cringing with every drum beat, you feel elevated. You’re able to have a full experience of the show, as intended by its creator. The sound is so consistently exceptional, regardless of venue, that you’re aware of, and grateful for, the intention and effort put forth to make it so.
Yeah. . . I bought a Puscifer hoodie. I’m considering adding an English sub-title on the back of it: “Yes, I paid $65 for this hoodie and it feels like a steal.” We’ve got to support art. We don’t have to agree on which art we appreciate, but it is our responsibility to support the art we do appreciate.
Maynard James Keenan weeds out the cattle. Tonight’s show took place in Escondido. If you’re of the belief – or holding onto hope – that aliens may some day come for you, Escondido is the type of place they may touch-down first. Only those people with a great deal of faith in the process, the adventure, and the outcome, would actually commute to Escondido. It’s just far enough outside the comfort zone of the people who go to a Miike Snow show – not the people who actually like Miike Snow – the far larger population: people who go to a show just because it’s “the place to be” and they have to look cool on Facebook. Puscifer is not for them.
It’s Sunday night. A rock concert and a 2-hr drive, on a ‘school night’?! Puscifer reminds everyone: music doesn’t stop because you have somewhere to be in the future. Your presence is rewarded.
I’m not going to tell you how the show goes, what Maynard wears, nor regurgitate the set list. Puscifer is an experience one should have for themselves. I will tell you this though: he fucks you with his music. Take that any way you like. It’s Puscifer.
” Life is too short NOT to create something with every breath we draw” – Puscifer
Doors: 8:00pm DJ Kevin Bronson (Buzz Bands LA): 8:00pm Little Red Lung: 9:00pm Wires In The Walls: 10:00pm Telstar: 11:00pm
The Mint: 6010 WEST PICO BLVD. LOS ANGELES, CA 90035
The Inspiration: I was on a conference call while driving to a show in downtown Los Angeles, during an unseasonably cold December night. The show was taking place at a venue that was new to me, so I enlisted the help of my vehicle’s GPS to navigate. “Turn left onto South Boyle” the GPS instructed. “Left onto Whittier Blvd” the digital voice continued. “Guys – I’ve gotta go!” I interrupted our conference call and hung up abruptly. My GPS routed me directly through Los Angeles’s Skid Row, one of the largest populations of homeless people in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 4,000 people sleep on the streets of LA’s Skid Row every night.
I didn’t hang up the phone out of fear. I’ve walked through the area at night previously. I hung up the phone out of respect. The content of the phone call was business. It was important. Yet, my mind could not handle the juxtaposition of what I was seeing on the streets with the discussions about business ringing in my ears. There was a van in front of me, driving exceptionally slow. I watched people set up their tents. They have a system. People seem to be well aware of their individual role in the community. During my drive, I witnessed how LA’s homeless population works together as a means to survive. The slow-moving van in my path forced me to take it all in. “Look at what’s happening here. . . This happens every night. . . You need to do something,” thoughts raced through my head. By the time I made my way through the area, I had witnessed a small city being built before my eyes.
Skid Row map
“What can I do, beyond what I’m already doing?” I pondered as I continued to make my way toward the venue. I felt so blessed. . . and so responsible. My life is exceptional. Everything and everyone I’m grateful for sparked in my mind, rapid-fire. I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. “I just turned up the heat in my car, on my way to a show, to have drinks with friends, and enjoy an amazing night of live music. I need to do something. . . ” So I called upon some of the friends who popped into my mind as I was giving thanks for all that I have and the people who contribute so greatly to my life. “What do you think about doing a benefit concert, in support of LA’s homeless?” I asked. One-by-one, and without hesitation, they agreed.
Also among those I gave thanks for that night is YOU. We’ve shared live music experiences, anecdotes, and #overheard humor here, on Twitter, and YouTube. Many of us have met in person and cultivated friendships that extend well beyond a “like” button. I would love to share this evening with you, my community, as we lend much-needed support to LA’s homeless community. Details about the artists, charity, and venue are below. Tickets are available here: http://www.themintla.com/show/detail/56568 Please share with your friends, invite them to join us. Thank you!
Kevin Bronson of Buzz Bands LA: Kevin and I initially met several years ago at a Buffalo Tom show at The Troubadour. At the time, Kevin was an editor/writer at Los Angeles Times. He knew more about the music scene in Los Angeles than most people I had encountered up to that point. We hung out long after the show ended, talking about music and bands including Mercury Rev, The Shins, and Beachwood Sparks. We’ve been friends ever since. Currently, Kevin heads up BUZZBANDS.LA, an independent website focused on music made and played in and around L.A., offering news, reviews, interviews and song downloads. Buzz Bands has become the go-to source for fans seeking what’s new and who’s cool. Kevin also hosts a weekly radio program on KCSN, Sundays 7pm – 8pm (Pacific Time). If you want to know what’s happening in music before it happens, this is your guy. It’s an honor to have Kevin DJ this event.
LA-based quintet Wires in the Walls explores a textured space between Americana, anthemic indie rock, austere post-punk, and pop. Since the band’s formation in 2009, they have played many of LA’s top venues and toured the east and west coasts, with their well-received 2010 EP “Call Signs” receiving local and national college radio play. Wires in the Walls takes a hands-on DIY attitude to their promotion, including the screen printing of all of their own merchandise. The band spent 2011 writing and recording their debut full-length album New Symmetry, released October 25, 2011. Wires in the Walls is: Warren Sroka (vocals/guitar – NYC), Nick Tracz (bass/vocals – upstate NY), Bryan King (drums/horns – Virginia), Dave Irelan (guitar/vocals – Oregon), & Dave Sicher (everything – Illinois).
“We’re really excited to be a part of this show for a such a good cause. Los Angeles as a whole has been super supportive of us and our music throughout our brief life as a band, and so it’s great to be able to give back in some small way to the larger community. Plus the lineup is fantastic, so it’s like a double-whammy of awesomeness.” Bryan King said when asked about Wires In The Walls’ participation in this event.
They are among my favorite people in the world. Chris Unck, Eva Gardner, and Stew Heyduk (“Telstar”) have “official bios” and credits that include P!nk, Feist, Mars Volta, Butch Walker, and Veruca Salt. Why do I love Chris, Eva, and Stew? They are amazing, kind, supportive, brilliant artists, not constrained by convention. They have a way of simultaneously existing in the past, present, and future, like a living time machine. The energy and spirit of their live shows has been the highlight of nights full of highlights. They’re playful, funny, and experts in creating, as well as participating in, the party. Chris and Eva are also talented visual artists and will be displaying some of their work during the event.
I’ve written quite a bit about their music and live shows, some of which lends insight into the people they are, but none of which can substitute for you experiencing Telstar yourself.
It was during a show at The Mint in 1999 or 2000 that I decided I wanted to work “in music”. There were only 8 or 9 of us at the venue. As I watched an unknown musician play in a nearly empty room, I had a strong feeling he would go on to be quite successful. “If I could get paid to do this. . . to experience music, help support it, and tell people about it. . . ” I resigned from my movie studio job the following week. As soon as the musician finished his set, I approached the man who booked the venue at the time. “Who was that? You need to book him here again,” I said. “I would love to keep booking him, but he doesn’t draw (an audience),” the man responded. “What’s his name?” I pressed. “Jack Johnson,” he replied.
Needless to say, I have a long history with The Mint. It’s a wonderful venue, with a great team of people behind it. You can enjoy a clear line of sight to the stage from nearly any point in the venue. The bar is perfectly situated for optimal efficiency. They have great food. I’ve seen artists including Frank Black, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Joan Osborne, and Tom Morello play The Mint.
What I love most about The Mint is the people who work there and their ongoing commitment to the community as a whole. There’s a sense of Southern hospitality at The Mint. If you’re there, you’re family. As an organization, The Mint is dedicated to giving back to the community. They’ve hosted numerous fundraisers and are generously opening their doors to us on Thursday, February 23rd as we come together to lend support to the homeless.
PATH (People Assisting The Homeless): During the last six months of 2011, PATH helped 544 people in need move into permanent housing. PATH’s mission is “To break the cycle of homelessness by empowering people with the tools for self-sufficiency.” They do this by helping homeless individuals and families find work, save money, secure housing, and empower their lives. PATH provides numerous essential services to the homeless including counseling, legal advocacy, housing services, employment and outreach services. All proceeds from the door during our event will be donated to PATH. For more info about PATH, you may check out their fact sheet here: http://www.pathpartners.org/factsheet/files/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20PATH.pdf
[Updated: February 17, 2012]
We are pleased to announce an addition to our line up: Little Red Lung. “Why such high praise? Well, perhaps because vocalist/keyboardist Zoe-Ruth Erwin has seemingly been summoned from the collective wombs of Tori Amos, Amanda Palmer, and Florence Welch with as much artistic depth of her own to gain the type of devoted following each of those women have. Yet there’s something a bit more sinister about the musical magic this band conjures up, a seductive witchery of waltzes that would incite even the most devout crossbearer to do the devil dance. They’re brilliant. The band is releasing free tracks up until the release of their new album through Bandcamp. You need to download them all.”
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow Fitz and The Tantrums on Twitter, tweet about the contest, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on the morning of January 21, 2012. Winner will have 12 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Regency Ballroom on the evening of the show. Photo ID will be required to pick up tickets
This is an all-ages event
Transportation and accommodations not included
About Fitz and The Tantrums:
In just a year or so, soulsters Fitz & the Tantrums went from the living room to the main stage. The recipe for meteoric success? Six killer musicians, five dapper suits, irresistible songs, some serendipity and one vintage organ.
Since their first show at Hollywood’s Hotel Café in December 2008, Fitz and co. have toured with Maroon 5, played to thousands at Colorado’s world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, shared the stage New Year’s Eve with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and performed on KCRW’s esteemed show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, all this on the strength of their stellar five-song EP, Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1.
For some bands, it takes a lifetime to build this success, but few performers deliver an unrestrained blast of soul-clapping, get-down-on-the-floor, moneymaker shakers like Fitz and the Tantrums. Now post-release of their debut full length, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, which has since earned them a 3 ½ star album review in ROLLING STONE, the troupe is poised to get down in dancehalls across the universe.
It all began when… [cue flashback sounds]
“I got a call from my ex-girlfriend,” Fitz explains, “And she said, ‘My neighbor is moving out in a hurry and has to sell everything. And, he has this organ…”
Fitz, the Svengali frontman of the crew, describes the find like the discovery of a compass, or that treasure map in Goonies, which undoubtedly leads to adventure. Not one to say no, Fitz called some piano movers, cashed in some favors, and seven hours later, the organ went from the curb to his living room. That night, Fitz stationed himself in front of that vintage instrument and wrote a blue-eyed soul anthem, “Breaking the Chains of Love.”
“Sometimes, the Music Gods just give it to you,” Fitz says.
The overflow of inspiration startled Fitz. He’d spent years in L.A.’s music industry, writing music and working in a studio with Beck producer, Mickey Petralia. But at those 88 keys, just seven hours after that organ dropped into his life, Fitz had finally found his voice.
“I’ve always been a singer,” Fitz says, “but with so much music, I felt that I was trying to push a square peg through a round hole. I was being not true to myself, and it never felt right until I wrote that song, and I sang like that. I thought, this feels so real, so natural.”
Fitz shared his vision with long-time friend and saxophonist, James King, who immediately connected with the sound. While the electric guitar drives rock, the saxophone takes center stage in soul, and that’s the way Fitz likes it. “We wanted to find a new vocabulary for the genre, I wanted to make a record without any guitars. Could we make a huge sound with out any guitars?”
A huge sound takes a huge studio–Motown had Studio A in Detroit, Philadelphia International had Sigma Studios, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound was created in Hollywood’s legendary Gold Star Studios– but when it came time to capture the feeling and the soul of soul, Fitz knew of the perfect studio: his home.
There in the living room, he recorded Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1, a burst of effervescent swingers and floor-stompers, infused with the energy of long forgotten songs. The infectious, rolling rhythms of “Breaking the Chains of Love,” immediately turns your head and actually get cemented in your brain, like a good pop song should.
The sound is familiar, but distinct. That’s what grabbed the attention of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Levine was getting a tattoo in New York when the tattoo artist told him he had to hear this new band he had discovered. After that one encounter, Levine personally invited Fitz and the Tantrums to join their tour.
Like the EP, Fitz recorded the full-length debut back at home, to bottle the lightning that struck in those first jam sessions. He now delves into more acerbic lyrical territory, going on the offensive against gold diggers on the exceptionally funky “MoneyGrabber,” and even gets political on the piano-banging, handclap-driven call to action, “Dear Mr. President.” “L.O.V.” is a jaunt through pop music history embarking with a groovy organ intro, meandering through juicy big band breakdowns and Fitz’s svelte croons, then carrying us away with flute outro. It’s a funk-filled plea to give love a chance. These powerful songs take the band’s energy up a notch, but like their energized performances, they never loose control.
Those blistering performances are now well-chronicled for adequate ubiquity, Last Call With Carson Daly nailing the money shot for “MoneyGrabber” at the band’s sold out show in November at LA’s El Rey Theatre featuring a sea of a thousand pogoing fans and a handful of F.A.T.T. gems rocked along with blue-eyed soul vet, Daryl Hall on the band’s spot on Live From Daryl’s House. Lest we forget, an omnipresent T-Mobile HTC ad that actually namechecks the band that, for the past several months, is impossible not to see if you’re watching even an hour’s worth of television. Oh, and there are the hot spots on Criminal Minds, Desperate Housewives and a great many more, not to mention a ton of success at radio for the aforementioned runaway “MoneyGrabber,” all with the promise of more to come.
In their sound and on the stage, Fitz and the Tantrums are nothing but professionals, and never less than classy. Enter the Tantrums, Fitz’s airtight ensemble keeping it real like it’s 1969. Funky drummer John Wicks is a Motown B-side aficionado and prolific session player, Jeremy Ruzumna manned the keyboards and was musical director for Macy Gray. James King backed De La Soul and bassist Joseph Karnes is a well sought after session player. Then there’s Noelle Scaggs, the powerful voice behind Fitz’s croons. Make no mistake, Scaggs is not just there for “doo-wops” and handclaps. She shimmies and flirts, she stokes the crowd and simmers them down, and she has no qualms about keeping Fitz in check. “She is not just a backup singer,” Fitz says, “We have repartee. Onstage, we’re Ike and Tina.”
There, on the stage, Fitz and the Tantrums are not just a band, they’re an explosion. Scaggs high steps it to the tight-as-hell rhythm section, while Fitz, cooler than cobalt, croons like the aforementioned Mr. Hall for a new generation. It’s obvious that this is no tryst for the band, this is a full-blown, head-over-heels love affair.
I’m really excited about this show and here’s why: I missed all four of Vanaprasta‘s residency shows at The Satellite in November. Missing the shows due to scheduling conflicts (on my side, of course) was a disappointment. I hate to miss a show – especially an outstanding show – and I certainly don’t want to miss FOUR shows. While missing Vanaprasta every Monday night was hard, it wasn’t nearly as devastating as waking up four Tuesdays in a row to Tweets, text messages, and reviews from some of my most-trusted music sources saying how amazing these shows were.
Thankfully, I have another chance to experience Vanaprasta and so do you:
One Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend reader will win a pair of tickets to see Vanaprasta at Central SAPC in Santa Monica on Friday, December 16, 2011.
Here’s what you need to know to enter:
The contest begins now and ends at 12:01 am EST December 16, 2011
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow Vanaprasta on Twitter, tweet about the contest, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on the morning of December 16, 2011. Winner will have 5 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at Central SAPC on the evening of the show. Photo ID will be required to pick up tickets
You must be 21+ to attend this event
Transportation and accommodations not included
Vanaprasta knows where rock music has been, and the Los Angeles quintet knows where it wants to take it. “Someplace mystical,” singer Steven Wilkin says, “where there’s arena-sized sound.”
In less than three years, Wilkin, bassist Taylor Brown, drummer Ben Smiley and guitarists Collin Desha and Cameron Dmytryk have circumnavigated the nebulous L.A. indie-rock universe, releasing an EP, teasing with a couple of singles and turning in enough neck-snapping live performances to give Angelenos whiplash from Silver Lake to the Sunset Strip.
Finally, after three forays into the studio, Vanaprasta unveils Healthy Geometry (out Nov. 1, 2011), a forward-thinking, galactic-sounding debut that draws from the indie, experimental, psychedelic and R&B worlds to shape music that is at once visceral and visionary. Critics have name-checked the Killers (LA Weekly), Kings of Leon (Consequence of Sound) and Mew (Buzz Bands LA), but Healthy Geometry‟s broad dynamic also finds antecedents in the work of Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Muse, Modest Mouse and Black Sabbath.
“For a while, we called our sound ‘guitarwave,’ and the guys joke around that it should be ‘Indie Rock Guitar Hero’ or ‘Epic Karaoke,’” Wilkin says with a smile. “But whatever it is, I‟m glad we had the patience to find the best way to capture it, and to cultivate who we are as a band.”
And who is Vanaprasta? It is five technicians from divergent backgrounds (with equally broad tastes) who comingled in L.A.’s musical melting pot in 2008. From their first jam session, the mixing of molecules in the room generated an energy that was palpable, and end result of that night was, Vanaprasta.
The key ingredients in the quintet’s stew are the colliding guitars of Dmytryk, a former punk-rock kid from Oregon, and Desha, a native Hawaiian with a foundation in slack key guitar, which wrestle atop powerful, shape-shifting rhythms from Brown and Smiley. Wilkin’s balletic tenor (he was a child opera singer in Utah) holds the mold together.
The band’s stadium sound illuminates themes ranging from the highly emotional to the dauntingly intellectual. Vanaprasta (whose name derives
from the Sanskrit word for a forest-dweller who has given up much of his worldly possessions) is fascinated with numerology, geometry and patterns, and what any or all them might mean in a world seemingly ruled by inefficacy and chaos.
Healthy Geometry was produced and mixed by Dave Schiffman, who recorded the band using mostly live takes with minimal overdubbing. It was mastered by Howie Weinberg, who kudoed the band on what he heard. “Working with Dave was super smooth,” Wilkin says. “He came out and saw us live, and basically we let him run with his interpretation of our live show.
Healthy Geometry, which can‟t be categorized into any particular genre but stands on its own as a complete body of work, encapsulates all the different moving parts and ingredients that make up Vanaprasta.
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow Tori Amos, tweet about the contest daily, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on the morning of December 15, 2011. Winner will have 5 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Orpheum on the evening of the show. Photo ID will be required to pick up tickets
Transportation and accommodations not included
About Tori Amos:
At this stage, I’m assuming you know who Tori Amos is. So what’s new? Tori’s latest album, Night of Hunters, was released in September.
Here’s how Tori describes the new record:
“It’s a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years. I have used the structure of a song cycle to tell an ongoing, modern story. The protagonist is a woman who finds herself in the dying embers of a relationship. In the course of one night she goes through an initiation of sorts that leads her to reinvent herself allowing the listener to follow her on a journey to explore complex musical and emotional subject matter. One of the main themes explored on this album is the hunter and the hunted and how both exist within us.”
Tori is currently on tour to support the album, including 2 sold out dates at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles: Tori Amos Tour Dates
About The Orpheum:
In addition to being among the first places the Thom Yorke band played (before they became “Atoms For Peace”), The Orpheum Theatre is one of L.A.’s most venerable landmarks. From a young Judy Garland’s 1933 vaudeville performance to a recent filming of the hit TV show “American Idol”, this renowned venue has hosted an array of theatrical productions, concerts, film festivals, private parties, variety shows, awards shows, movie shoots, music video shoots, television show and commercial shoots and much more.
The two most frequently asked questions I receive are “Will you review my album?” and “Do you sleep?” The answer to both is most often the same: “No”.
The reasons I don’t review recorded music are many. I’m aware that, no matter how I feel about a specific selection of music, the people involved in making it worked really hard on it. They put everything into it, thought about it (possibly too much), lived it, became it, created it, and then got the balls to put it out there. That’s not something I want to filter through my own subjective perception and re-articulate, in written language, to others who will then interpret my words through their subjective filters and in any way, shape, or form “define” or categorize the art of music.
Depending on how any person feels at any given moment, their relationship to a song or album can evolve. We listen to a song incessantly, it reminds us of the greatest relationship we’ve ever had. We break up, we put the song away, it’s too painful. A couple years later, we hear the song again, less painful, we still like it. We hadn’t put that song “in the cloud” yet, but we do now because we feel what we connected to in the first place: the emotion. That didn’t go away when our relationship dissolved. Music can endure and evolve, as we connect with it individually and collectively, over time. I appreciate the freedom that provides – a song or album’s meaning to each person can be drastically different, dynamic throughout time.
Sometimes we select a song because we “need a pick-me up” or we want to create a mood in a room. I may not connect with an album on first listen and years later may discover something I missed or have an experience that allows me to connect with and appreciate it differently.
This isn’t “right” or “wrong” or the way it “should” or “shouldn’t” be. It’s just how I feel. I can write about live music because it’s overtly contextualized in a unique moment – “This is what it feels like right now.” At that moment, what we’re experiencing intersects with the music being created in front of us at that same exact time and it won’t ever happen exactly like that again. Even if it is the same set list, touring on the same album, with the same visuals and sets, the show is not the same. I can go to an artist’s residency and write a vastly different review each of the 4 weeks they play.
So that’s one reason I don’t typically write about recorded music. There are many. Yet, as I was driving to a show last night, listening to Telstar‘s album, Hot Knives I had the first bit of anxiety I’ve felt in years. . . about anything. I had “Are You Hungry” on repeat, listening to all the various attributes and elements that make that song “work” so well; discovering and appreciating something new on each listen.
I was smiling as I experienced the way all the sounds “get along.” I could write 10 paragraphs about one 28-second portion of “Are You Hungry” and another 10 about what it feels like the next time that 28-second bit of music comes in. Then, it would only be fair to express how that piece of music “sits” with the other pieces of the song. Is it the portion that elevates the rest? Or do the 57 seconds that directly precede it create the perfect moment for that piece to come in, and the foundation for it to stand on? I can’t separate it. I love the way it all works together and that my appreciation for it grows deeper each time I hear it.
The background vocals kick in at all the “right” moments and they’re additive to the feeling of the song, not just placed there because that’s “what you do”. At the same time, with every element of the song, in perfect dynamic relationship with the others – none of it feels contrived. It’s organic. It’s precise, but it almost feels like an accident. 3 friends got together in a room, decided to have some fun and remembered to hit “record”. Yet another reason I don’t typically write about recorded music – I’m not sure I want to be so “academic” about art. I’m in love with a song. I like how it sounds and how it makes me feel. That’s what it comes down to.
The “anxiety” I mentioned? Much like that relationship that’s going so well – you finally found your “soulmate,” it gets better every day, you appreciate every second of it. . . what if something gets in the way of it? There are a lot of things that can “get in the way” of music – it’s not easy to create it, get the right mix of people working on it, put it out, get it out, make sure people know it’s out. I don’t worry about those things with Telstar though. As long as they’re doing whatever it is they’re doing to create what they’re creating – live and recorded – having as much fun as they do, while also simply being genuinely kind people. . . I don’t foresee any of the “usual” things “getting in their way”.
So, what could get in the way of Telstar? The best possible thing: the fact that the individual musicians who make up Telstar, Chris Unck, Eva Gardner, and Stew Heyduk, are the musicians everyone else wants in their band. At any moment, any one of them could be offered a substantial tour as they have been previously. . . and then what?
After their show at Three Clubs last week, I asked Eva, “Is this what you’re doing now? Are you going ‘out’ as Telstar?” No words were exchanged. The rest of that conversation was communicated in looks. Eva’s look: “Well, yes. . . you’re here, aren’t you? Didn’t you just see ‘Telstar’? You have our music. You’ve been to our website. We are doing it. We’ve been doing it. This is happening. Yes.”
My look: “Yes, I see. I know. It’s happening. . . and I love it.” And perhaps, even my real question was communicated: “But are you going to let anything get in your way?” Which is why no words are necessary. It doesn’t matter what happens. Like a great relationship, like music, like the best things about life: it’s all an ever-evolving adventure. If you don’t get too attached to one thing or one idea of something, then you allow the freedom to experience a potential that continues to be created and evolve throughout time.
Ultimately – especially if you have the opportunity to connect with Telstar as I have – you’ll want for them whatever they want for themselves, as that evolves throughout time. Telstar has a way – whether through song, performance, or an unspoken conversation – of reminding you to enjoy this very moment, right now. The next spoken conversation between Eva and I was about the high winds wreaking havoc in LA that night – power outages, downed trees, street closures, and all the things that remind us: you can have a plan. . . and then there’s the adventure.
Part of what makes Telstar Telstar is that they are just doing what they do. They’re great musicians, who enjoy each other and playing music. They like to see people have a good time, they enjoy providing the space and creating the atmosphere for that to happen. Chris’s eyes were wide with enthusiasm as he described how Telstar would be spending the next few months. “Playing shows” sounds like something as fun and exciting as winning The Olympics. “Writing new songs and recording” sounds like hanging out with your best friends in the desert, opening a bottle of whiskey, laughing, reminiscing about old-times while dreaming about the future. None of it sounds like “work”.
Conversations with many musicians sound and feel vastly different from conversations, like those described above, with the members of Telstar. “Playing shows” sounds exhausting. Hanging out after the show is something they “have to do”. “Writing and recording” requires seclusion; adopting a raw, vegan regimen or some other short-term support system; and being laser-focused. It’s work. It’s serious. It’s hard. That’s all valid, true, and real. But that’s not the feeling I get from Telstar during their shows, casually speaking after the show, nor through their music.
In fact, part of the reason Telstar inspires me so much is because they represent something I feel very strongly about in life: do what brings you the most joy. Have as much fun as possible. That is my definition of “success” and I’ve witnessed it translate into others’ definition of “success” because people are attracted to it.
Musically, Telstar creates something unique that is experienced on multiple levels. I think it’s fair to say a lot of bands have tried to recreate the sound of The British Invasion. It may even be fair to say some have reasonably accomplished that. Telstar creates the feeling of The British Invasion through their sound. There’s a big difference.
And now, we’re full-circle back to the reasons I don’t like to write specifically about music. Should you choose to, I’d like you to have your own relationship with Telstar. Maybe you know the historical significance of their name and that gets you to listen to them for the first time. Maybe you read something about them, you go see them live, then you investigate further and get into details such as their name and the ever-present influence of Eva’s father. As with all great things in life, and all enduring music, there are an infinite number of elements and layers to be discovered. Discovering Telstar continues to be an adventure for me and I’d like you to have your own experience, your own adventure.
Another reason I typically don’t like to write about recorded music is because I don’t like reading about it either. There’s a tendency toward negativity surrounding music, maybe more so now than previously. People are complaining about the music they’re exposed to. I hear you. I understand where you’re coming from. But then – stop listening to what everyone else says you should listen to. Stop listening to what you think you “should” listen to. Don’t let this age of everything-at-our-fingertips-for-free get in the way of the joy of discovering music. Rediscover what moves you.
I don’t care if you don’t like Telstar; if it’s not your “thing”. That’s OK. I’m not going to tell you what you should be listening to. But do yourself a favor and discover music that inspires you to do something different. Telstar has done that for me twice already, in the first week of our “relationship.”