December 2, 2009
Grammy Museum, Los Angeles
Soon, we were all laughing
I definitely feel blessed every day; some days more than others. Yesterday was one of the more-blessed days. In fact, spending the afternoon with Ringo Starr goes down as one of the highlights of my life so far.
We met Starr at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles for an interview as part of a larger campaign LP33.tv is doing to support the release of his new album, Y Not. As soon as the video interview piece is edited, I’ll post it here.
I wasn’t nervous to meet Starr at all. . . until he arrived. I’ve spent time with some of the biggest musicians in the world. I’ve been to recording sessions in their home studios and have had dinner with them in their second homes, but it doesn’t get bigger than The Beatles, period. And while I have seen Paul McCartney perform live on several occasions, I’d yet to meet one of The Beatles. That fact didn’t really hit me until Ringo walked through the door.
Starr sitting down with LP33.tv
He’s exceptionally charming, clever, and funny. He has that dry, intelligent sense of humor that could cause you to miss the joke if you’re not paying close attention. That’s my kind of humor. In fact, the most challenging part of the video shoot was to not-laugh out loud while we were recording. At one point, Starr said something so funny that we couldn’t hold it in any longer, and we all burst into laughter.
An animated conversation
We talked about his forthcoming album, new collaborations, The Beatles Rock Band, and something he wishes he’d never said. That’s all I can tell you about what happened. . . for now. The rest will be revealed by LP33.tv soon.
That said, I can tell you what didn’t happen. I didn’t tell Starr that The Beatles is the only band I listened to during my adolescence that didn’t give my parents a headache. I didn’t tell Starr that, instead of those cheesy baby tunes albums most parents play for their kids, my aunt and uncle solely played The Beatles for my three cousins when they were growing up. I didn’t mention that, due to this early Beatles immersion, my little cousin named her first dog (a large German Shepherd) Ringo. I didn’t challenge him to a game of The Beatles Rock Band although I would have liked to.
Although our time together was brief, a lot more happened than didn’t happen. You can watch a little teaser from LP33.tv here.
Last night I posted a review of One eskimO’s live performance at The Hotel Cafe. I thought they were great and really wanted to share some video with you so you could see for yourself. Instead, I adhered to The Hotel Cafe’s no-filming policy and simply sat back happily and enjoyed the music. You can read the review and see a few pictures here.
Luckily, the guys who make up One eskimO – Kristian Leontiou, Pete Rinaldi, Adam Falukner and Jamie Sefton – came to LP33.tv today for an interview and acoustic performance.
Here’s some video of One eskimO playing “Amazing”. Keep in mind, this is B-roll, shot by me (amateur), while staying out of the way of the real crew and dodging equipment. Once the final LP33.tv cut of this video is done, I’ll post it here as well.
“Amazing” Live Acoustic Take 1:
“Amazing” Live Acoustic Take 2:
Kristian and Pete tell LP33.tv about One eskimO
After One eskimO amazed the LP33.tv staff and crew with their performance, we moved outside for an interview. Pete and Kristian talked about their animated movie, touring, writing songs, and some plans for the future. When the interview video piece is edited, I’ll post it here as well. As soon as the interview was over each of the guys made a point of going around to everybody they worked with on the LP33.tv team and thanking them.
It's all about the sound
I spoke with Kristian and Pete for a bit after the interview, specifically about how good their sound was during the Hotel Cafe show last night. They told me they found their current sound guy approximately 6 months ago. They laughed as Pete explained, “You know, usually people will come up to you and say, ‘I love your music. I love your band.’ They’re always talking about the band. But after we play a live show everybody comes up and says, ‘Man! The sound was amazing!’ and everybody’s talking about our sound guy. He’s really become the 5th member of the band. We love him.”
Then, they began joking(ish) that they’re a challenging band to tour manage. They did show up on time, were extremely professional and sincere. . . “You seem like you’d be easy enough to work with,” I offered.
“Yes, it looks that way,” Kristian began, “but we have a tendency to just wander off, without our phones, and not tell anybody where we’re going. Our tour manager is always hoping we turn up before we need to be somewhere. And we do. . . every time.”
I was immediately reminded of when The Strokes first toured the U.S. before Is This It was released. They played a show at The Troubadour which I attended. After the show, I was sitting upstairs, having a drink and talking to a pretty good-looking guy for a while. The Strokes were runnin’ around, doin’ their thing, “relaxing” after the show. Suddenly, the entire band came over and dog-piled us. It turns out the guy I was talking to went to prep school with the band and was one of their closest friends.
“C’mon, let’s go back to the hotel and have another party,” Albert exclaimed.
“Bring her!” Fabrizio said, pointing at me.
All the guys introduced themselves and then Albert inquired, “Hey – do you have a car here?” I told him I did and he asked if we could take my car back to the hotel and if he could drive it. “I love driving and I’ve been stuck on a tour bus for months.”
So, I walk out of The Troubadour with my friend Brigitte, the pretty good-looking guy, and 3 of The Strokes. As we make our way down Santa Monica boulevard to my car, we pass by the alley where the band’s tour bus was parked. From deep in the alley I hear their poor tour manager yell, “HEY! Wait! Where are you guys going??? The bus is over here!!!”
“It’s cool!” Albert replied as he pointed at me, “We’re going with her!”
“Yeah, don’t worry about us. We know where we’re going!” Fabrizio added.
“WHERE are you going?” the tour manager pleaded for information.
“See you later” all the guys replied in unison.
As we walked away I heard the tour manager’s voice in the distance, “Wait! Where’s Julian. . .?”
When Kristian told me that they too wander off, I immediately recalled that moment with The Strokes. I didn’t share that story with Kristian, but he must have sensed what was going through my head because he quickly added, “I mean. . . we don’t get into any kind of trouble or anything. . . we just disappear. . .”
And with that, the band disappeared.
But if they make their way to your town, be sure to check them out (and tell them how good the sound is).
Live at The Hotel Cafe
September 23, 2009
One eskimO at The Hotel Cafe
There are many things I love about going to The Hotel Cafe, one of them being its close proximity to Amoeba Music. So after getting my quick vinyl fix and marveling at the irony that they seem to have more trouble selling CDs than keeping records on the shelf, I continued on to The Hotel Cafe to see about a new band from the U.K., One eskimO (no, that’s not a typO).
I knew little about this band prior to going to the show, but trusted the recommendation of a friend who said I should check them out. As it turns out, he was right – One eskimO is definitely worth checking out. Their songs are melodic and the audience was captivated. Their music is accessible enough for the mainstream, while the band manages to maintain their indie cred. That’s easier to do now of course than when they really take off (i.e. the current perception of Kings of Leon held by many).
And I’m willing to bet that once word gets out about these guys, they will take off. Or, if Alexandra Patsavas finds out about them, you’ll be hearing them on an episode of a hit series on ABC. Is Zach Braff working on a new movie?? He might want to secure this band for his next soundtrack. But what they (and you) should do is see them live. What you hear online might peak your interest, but their live performance will lock it in.
Another thing I love about going to The Hotel Cafe is that their sound system is really good (and often underutilized). Many of the musicians who play there play soft, quiet, songs. But when you get a real rock band in there (like Billy Corgan & Spirits In The Sky) or a musician who plays multi-layered soundtrack-esque music (like Imogen Heap or One eskimO), the room fills perfectly with sound and you get lost in it.
Bassist Jamie Sefton and singer Kristian Leontiou
One eskimO sounded great. I ran into the lead singer, Kristian Leontiou, on his way up to the stage and I never would have suspected that voice came from him. In fact, several times during the show, I closed my eyes and pictured who was singing those notes. And not once did the guy I pictured look like the guy who was actually singing. One eskimO are refreshing like that. There’s a familiarity about them so you feel like you may even know the songs, yet there’s an originality to their sound and certainly to their live performance that keeps you engaged.
This is one instance when I wish I could have captured some video of the show. Unfortunately, Hotel Cafe has a strict no-recording policy which I respect and abide by (especially since I often spend more hours there than at my own house). The good news is, I hear One eskimO is stopping by LP33.tv tomorrow – they’re bound to get some great video.
Speaking of videos, apparently One eskimO is releasing a full-length animated film in conjunction with the album. You can read more about it on their website. Although, like some of the best movies, I often enjoy going in with little prior knowledge and no preconceived notions or expectations.
When the band finished their set, the crowd demanded an encore. And here’s where things could become disastrous. . . I recognized it within the first 3 notes. . . They were playing one of my favorite Neil Halstead (remember Mojave 3?) songs, “Hi-Lo and Inbetween”.
There’s nothin’ worse than a new band covering a song that was done perfectly in the first place (by the original artist). . . unless they get it right.
Tuesday kicked off with an interview and live acoustic performance from Meiko at LP33.tv. After exchanging information about some of the restaurants we frequent in LA, Meiko, one of my favorite musicians from The Hotel Cafe family, chatted with LP33.tv about overcoming stage fright, her musical inspirations and writing process, and getting ready to record her next album. She then performed “Boys with Girlfriends” and her rendition of “Super Freak.” After Meiko sang “Boys With Girlfriends,” one member of the LP33.tv team was overheard saying, “that gave me chills!” A little close to home, eh?
Black Francis performing at The Mint LA
Later that night, I headed to The Mint to see Black Francis (aka Frank Black) perform. That was cool for several reasons. For one, he’s Frank Black. It was a nice surprise (for me anyway) to hear him chat between songs. I’ve seen The Pixies and Frank Black perform previously and I don’t remember him being quite so chatty… or perhaps I wasn’t paying close enough attention before. Anyway, he talked between songs and he was funny, which is important because otherwise I would have wished he didn’t talk between songs. (Remember when Flaming Lips played Coachella and rambled on about politics through 3/4 of their set?! All I can recall is that Wayne Coyne came out in that bubble, played 2-3 songs and then talked for an hour. Such a disappointment. And yet, I’m still going to see them at The Greek Monday night).
Frank Black... on and off stage (one of the look-a-likes)
Anyway, back to Black Francis. He played a nice mix of some old Pixies favorites along with his solo stuff. It’s a good thing I was sober-ish or it could have been a very confusing show – there were at least 3 Frank Black look-a-likes in the audience.
Meiko performing “Boys With Girlfriends” at LP33.tv. Just a teaser, the Meiko feature is being edited: