The Extreme IRL Experience - SXSW 2013


Three weeks ago today, my friends and I rented a van and drove 20 hours from Columbus, OH to Austin, TX for SXSW.  While I just recently physically recovered (minus the numbness in my toe from 10 miles of walking in impractical shoes everyday), my experiences from those four whirlwind days replay through my mind on a constant loop, 24/7.  So many IRL moments, many I failed to capture with my iPhone.

More of my SXSW experiences to come!




Jack in the Pocket’s TOP 10 ALBUMS of 2011

Let me break it down for you guys… I normally avoid making “Top” lists. First, because I suck at describing why one album is musically superior to another.  I’m the type of person who listens to something and I either love it or hate it.  I don’t enjoy analyzing their qualities. Music is so tightly wound with my identity, I find it almost impossible to be objective. Secondly, I tend to feel bad for all of the other albums I have enjoyed throughout the year.  Yes, I have tendencies to project feelings upon inanimate objects…

I find it is similar to the emotional struggles of my stuffed animals when I was a child.  I had two favorite toys, a bear and a bunny (creatively named “Bear” and “Bunny”).  I cuddled with them every night, until, one evening, I noticed the other stuffed animals sadly staring at me from their perch on top of my radiator. My nightlight reflected off of their glassy eyes, creating the illusion of tears of sad, neglected children. For months after that, I kept a rotating schedule of which stuffed animal I slept with for the night. But, that was when I was 4 or 5 years old.  Now that I’m 26, I have to call it like it is.

So, without further ado, here follows the list of my top 10 albums of the year accompanied by a personal note on each.


#10 - Radiohead - The King of Limbs

As with many of the latest releases by Radiohead, you either loved or hated The King of Limbs.  Thom York and company continually push themselves and this short but amazing album is no exception. I can attest to this album’s golden road trip qualities.  Especially during night drives, The King of Limbs lingers in dark corners, and oozes sticky trails.  Keep an eye on the road, that may be a deer in the middle of the highway or it may be a Radiohead induced hallucination.

Watch: Lotus Flower by Radiohead.


#9 - Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo

I had a moment with this album during my first ever solo drive over 8 hours to Memphis to visit my best friend.  I have been a Kurt Vile fan since YVYNYL included Overnight Religion on his Floating out to Sea Mixtape back in September of 2009.  However, Kurt never caused me to cry, or stir up physical signs of emotion until (as cheesy as it sounds) Baby’s Arms came over my stereo system.  Dawn was just breaking, I was driving through the Kentucky hills, the red and orange leaves were peaking through the mist. My mind immediately went to my boyfriend, who was at home, sleeping soundly in Columbus.  I suddenly felt homesick, and wished he could share this beautiful moment on the road with me.

Watch: Baby’s Arms by Kurt Vile.


#8 - Twin Sister - In Heaven

I love everything about Twin Sister. They are, hands down, some of the nicest, sweetest, quirkiest human beings on earth.  Their music reflects the same.  This 10 track album is woven equally with threads of innocence and darkness, humor and honesty. I constantly add Bad Street to my playlists because I can’t get enough of its silliness. The 1/4th Japanese side of me also applauds their reference to Japanese horror films in their music video for Kimmi in a Rice Field.

P.S. Readers, these guys are awesome house guests, so if you are able to open your home to them while they are on the road, do so.  They have my hostess stamp of approval.

Read Twin Sister’s Jack in the Pocket Interview

Listen to Bad Street by Twin Sister.


#7 - M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

The 22 tracks on this album are all pretty great.  The only problem is, I can’t pick out but two or three favorite tracks because they all sound much better if played consecutively.  That factor is what pushed me add Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming to my top 10.  One of the signs of a truly talented artist is the ability to craft an album that stays cohesive from beginning to end.

Plus, this formula is like the first time they put chocolate and peanut butter together.

Listen to Intro by M83.


#6 - Gauntlet Hair - Gauntlet Hair

Everyone knows, I’m a sucker for music with heavy percussion and glitched out guitars.  I can’t resist flailing like a wild banshee whenever I put this album on (which can be quite dangerous while listening in heavy traffic).

You can watch the special last minute interview SpoonfeedColumbus.com and I got with Gauntlet Hair just a few weeks ago here.


Listen to Top Bunk by Gauntlet Hair.


#5 - The Kills - Blood Pressures

I. love. Alison. Mosshart.

Need I say more?  Well, I guess I should elaborate.  I’ve been closely following The Kills since my freshman year of college (2004).  I had the pleasure of seeing them perform at a small 300 cap venue that year as well, and since that night, I’ve had a major crush on Alison. Jamie Hince ain’t so bad himself, but I think even the thought of entertaining a double crush would blow my mind. Besides, he’s married to Kate Moss, so there go my chances. Blood Pressures is an amazing follow-up to Midnight Boom. It’s filled to the brim with The Kills sexy angst… mmm. 

I saw the pair perform in Detroit in May, and even managed to squeak out a mousy, “Hello..” to Alison when we ran into her at the restaurant next to the venue. 

Listen to Nail in My Coffin by The Kills.


#4 - St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Dear Annie Clark,

How do you manage to be so lovely, with your curly hair, elegant style, and cherry red lips?  How do you manage to be so badass? From the way you wail on that guitar, to the way you craft a song, you make for one sultry songstress.  All the men want you, all the women wish they could be you.  Strange Mercy should be added to a list of “Rock Albums Every Woman Should Own.”  Keep singing, my dear. Keep rocking. I adore you. Adopt me?

Listen to Cruel by St. Vincent.


#3 - Washed Out - Within and Without

Ernest Greene has come a long way from his days of being a Myspace “chill-wave” mystery.  Thank goodness for that.

Within and Without was without a doubt one of sexiest releases of the year.  I mean, just look at the album art! You’re obviously supposed to have the bump-and-grind on yo’ mind when you let these tracks tickle your ear drums. It’s also an awesome album to blast in your car during the warm summer months. For those of you who live in warmer climates, roll down your windows, and let your arm ride the wave of wind, and let the music take you away.  For those of us stuck in weather below 40 degrees, you may want to don a thick coat, mittens, and blast your heat before you try it out.  Or, you could wait until summer, but who wants to do that?!

Read Washed Out’s Jack in the Pocket Interview.

Listen to You & I by Washed Out.


#2 - Neon Indian - Era Extraña

As to be expected, Era Extraña made it into my top 2 albums of the year.  I mean, goodness gracious everyone… it better have!  I saw Neon Indian live 3 times just this year, 6 times total.  I can’t help it. I’ve been a musical admirer of Alan Palomo since Psychic Chasms' kaleidoscopic sounds clobbered my ears that night that changed how I listen to music forever. (If you read the interview linked below, you'll quickly figure out why it sounded so different.)

Era Extraña is a album chock full of songs that take you through the stages of crush, longing, and inevitable heartbreak. I have to claim Suns Irrupt as my favorite track.  It undulates with the same swagger of confidence as Palomo does when he’s performing.

Read Neon Indian’s Jack in the Pocket Interview.

Listen to Polish Girl by Neon Indian.


#1 - Panda Bear -Tomboy

I can’t even begin adequately explain how excited I was for Tomboy to drop. 

That fateful night in September of 2010 at Ottobar in Baltimore, MD in the company of Jimmy from Headunderwater.com and the boys from Everybody Yay turned me into a super-stellar-intergallactic-crazed fan of Panda Bear.  No other artist has ever made a room disappear around me, created sounds that seeped into every pore, and left me feeling simultaneously confounded and elated. My eyes fluttered opened when Afterburner faded out, and I looked around me, grabbed Jimmy’s shoulder and said, “What just happened?!” I had only consumed 3 drinks over the course of 2 hours… what was this audible magic?!

When I listen to Tomboy in the proper environment (lights out, headphones on, bass pumped, laying in bed) I can recreate that moment.  I can’t help but imagine myself as a white feather riding on expanding and contracting waves of sound, through a dark and peaceful forest every time I listen to  Scheherazade. I have no doubt in my mind Noah Lennox will go down as one of the greatest masters of electronic music in history.

Listen to Afterburner by Panda Bear.





Washed Out | September 29, 2010 | The Newport | Columbus, OH

Photos by John Danner

Washed Out was in town.  WASHED OUT.  The countless hours I had spent in my apartment relaxing to his mysteriously mellow reverb laced tunes, pondering what this man was like in real life… well, I was about to find out.  I had worked out the interview after scouring the internet for his press contacts and ended up corresponding with his wife, who set everything up for me.  I met up with Jacob Corbin of Collective Crowd Records before the show; he had driven down from Akron, OH.  Ever faithful photographer, John Danner, was by my side once again, this time with a photo pass for The Newport, which gave him access to the space in-front of the stage to take some amazing photos during the live set.  I found Ernest’s wife, Blair, a beautiful, petite woman with sweet southern charm, working the merch table.  I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes.

I was surprised when Ernest walked out on stage with a full band behind him, and also impressed by how tall he was.  I didn’t get a sense of his stature at Pitchfork Music Festival a few months earlier.  

After the set, I met Ernest and his wife out front by the merch table.  I was immediately charmed by his Southern drawl and ease. He and Blair make such a cute couple.  We all chatted for a minute, and then John and I followed Ernest backstage.  We shimmied behind the heavy black curtain behind the crazy looking honeycombs that were set up for the Yeasayer show, using my phone as a makeshift flashlight.  Then, it was up a winding metal staircase held together by balls of electrical and duct tape.  Ah yes, this was the same greenroom where I interviewed Bear in Heaven.  Curved black walls, one light, one worn in couch, parts of it also held together by duct tape.  As we set everything up I learned that all of the new band members of Washed Out had just met each other the Friday before this show.  This was only their second time playing live together.  Pretty impressive, if you ask me.  Their set was tight, and sounded energetic and fuller than Ernest’s solo set in Chicago.

KPSo you’re from Perry, GA.  How did you create Washed Out?

Ernest Greene: Yes, I grew up in Perry.  When I created Washed Out, I was living in Columbia SC; I had graduated college and moved there.  I had been working on music for a couple years in my bedroom, and never really had any intentions of playing in a band or putting music out.  It was more of just a hobby.  The stuff I was working on at that time was really different than it is now but it has kind of progressed into the Washed Out Sound.  So I guess, early last year (2009) was when I kind of started really working on the style.  It was just time, right situation… I met Chaz Budnik of Toro Y Moi and we had similar interest, and started playing music together.   It was kind of his success that kind of led to me breaking out.  He got signed to Carpark records and got blog buzz and through that… He had me as one of his top friends on Myspace, so people just randomly stumbled across my page. I only had one or two songs up…

[door opens…]

EG:  This is Ray!

KPHi!

Ray:  Hola! 

EG:  And so anyway, a couple blogs emailed me about posting stuff.

KPWho were some of the first blogs, do you remember?

EG:  No Pain in Pop was the first one, yeah. So I was just, so psyched that someone was interested.  They are based in London and that was even more fantastic to me.  So as soon as it got posted the ball started rolling and the songs were passed around pretty quickly.  To the point where I was getting emailed from blogs asking for more songs.  I didn’t have any more songs at that time!  So for three days, all I did was record, the majority of which is on my EP.

KPFrom the blogging, it seemed like everything took off really fast.

EG: Super fast!

KPAnd from my understanding

[door opens…]

EG:  This is Phil!

KP: Hello!

EGPhil has a really cool project called Dog Bite.

[At this point my hearing abilities decide to get up and walk out the door so I asked Ernest about 5 times, “What’s it called? What?”  To a point where I got embarrassed just listening to myself during transcription.]

EG:  I heard his music online and was really into the fact that he’s from Atlanta because I spend a lot of time there, so I emailed him and that’s how we got in touch.  So he’s part of the band now.  I want to produce his stuff, because it’s really cool.

KPI’ll definitely have to check it out.

EG:  Yeah, it’s great!

KPLet’s talk about the first show you played as Washed Out, in New York.  It was sold out…

EG:  Yes, yes.  It was at Santo’s Party House… it was really bad. I had done a show, two or three days before in Atlanta.  I had no idea what I was doing.  It was generally a pretty positive experience; it was my first taste of what was to come.  I flew in on Sunday the show was the next night. It was the first time I met most of the guys from Mexican Summer.  They’re the record label that put out the EP. That was mostly done via email; I had talked to them on the phone a couple times.  So that first night, we got absolutely wasted. And the next day, they had scheduled press stuff from 10 in the morning until 6 in the afternoon; the show was shortly after that.  I was really hung-over and really late and it was just the worst experience, I was so tired.  

[Door opens…]

EG:  Oh! One by one!  This is Cameron.

Cameron:  Hi!

KPHiya!  We were watching you on stage, well, me and my friend Jacob who [Ernest] met downstairs. We were saying you look like John from Bear in Heaven.

EG:  It’s the mustache!

Cameron:  I get that a lot!  That and Steve from Prefontaine, Tom Selleck.

[Laughter]

EG:  Cameron grew up with Chaz.  They played together in a band together growing up.

KPHe’s a nice guy.  I interviewed him at the Grog Shop when he was on tour with Caribou.

EG:  So it’s kind of a weird, close connection to those guys.

KPAlso Small Black!

EG:  They played as my backing band for a while.

KPJust posted that interview yesterday.

EG:  Cool!  I’ll check it out! They’re pretty good on Twitter about posting interviews and stuff. 

[Yeasayer starts blasting in the background from the show downstairs]

KP:  It’s about to get really loud.

EG:  It only gets louder too!  They’re super pro.  Really good playing with them.

KPThis is your second show playing with them?

EG:  Yeah, yeah.  We’re playing with them for about two weeks. Going to Miami, then New Orleans.  Then they’re playing Austin City Limits.

KP:  When you play big shows like this with bands like Yeasayer, do you have a certain goal for the show or… how do you approach your live show?

EG:  At this point it’s more like, not fucking up and just getting through the songs.  Luckily these guys are really good musicians.  I mean, I know the songs backwards and forwards because, you know, I did all the songs myself. I’m not that experienced playing with other people and being the person who is in charge.  So that’s like… that’s been a little tough.  I think it takes playing a couple shows before you’re really comfortable playing together.  So I could definitely feel that tonight.  I guess my main thing is, once they’re all comfortable and I’m comfortable together, I can be more open to being entertaining and speaking with the audience.  Last night was weird, because we were all just standing there doing our thing and didn’t say anything.  I can tell from here on out it’s only going to get better.

KP: What would you say is the biggest challenge playing solo vs. playing with a full band?

EG:  That’s tough.  I enjoy playing by myself.

KPIt seemed like you had a lot of fun at Pitchfork!

EG:  It’s kind of a weird thing, especially at PF.  It’s an outdoor show… At festivals the stages are so close together, if you’re doing more mellow material, you’ll have sound bleeding in from whoever is at the opposite stage.  When I play shows by myself its more ambient, I extend songs, really get in the zone of zoning out which is really cool.  Most of the stuff is completely improv with the vocals and everything which is super fun.  But I can tell, with the large crowd and it being outdoors in the middle of the day, people just want to have fun and have an upbeat set.  That’s kind of the tradeoff, like, with the band it’s much easier to go to that place and have it be more of a party vibe.  The entertaining factor is a little bit harder.

KPHow did you end up touring with Small Black?  

EG:  The relationship started with email and instant messaging, the same way it did with Phil and a lot of things have happened.   They emailed me to say they were into my stuff and asked if I would be into doing a remix for them. I heard the song probably a couple weeks before and was really into it and I’m not THAT into remixing at all unless it’s something that just works like, in my world.  Most of the stuff I’ve done, I’ll just cover the song and just kind of do it in my style.  Their song just worked perfectly, verse, chorus, verse, chorus.  So I did that for them, and then it was their idea to do the tour and it worked perfectly.  I’m really not good a planning things and at the time, I wasn’t planning on touring at all. I hadn’t done it before, and then I realized there were huge crowds that were going to be interested I thought it would be really bad. The little push I got from them was, “We already have this planned, you can ride with us, we’ll rehearse the songs before and it will be really easy.”  So I flew up to NY and we rehearsed for three days straight.  As soon as we started playing it was instant good vibes all around. We’ve probably done, 60 shows together now.  It’s kind of sad, we did a tour in Europe together in June and they were just wrapping up a record, which is about to come out on Jagjaguar. I guess we both realized… you know this is the end of the road because they have the record coming out and they kinda wanted to do their own thing.  But yeah, they’re definitely some of my best friends now.  They’re a little more experienced upfront than I was, but it was all still really new for both of us.  So it was a really special experience for the both of us. 

KP:  They are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

EG: They’re so funny!  So fun!  You met my wife, Blair.  She’s always the only girl on the road. I feel like I’ve been pretty lucky.  I mean, the guys I play with now are so cool with her.  It was such a fun tour with Small Black.  They have a really good mindset going on the road.  They totally embrace randomly crashing at people’s houses which always leads to totally unpredictable situations. (Interviewer’s note: Is the foreshadowing I hear? See concluding paragraph.) I’m kind of a shy guy. I’m not really comfortable just going around talking to people. But they’re so into that. Within five minutes they would have found a crazy party to go to.  Some couch to sleep on, it was that easy.

KPWe took them out for pizza with one of my friends who is friends with Travis of Pictureplane, and they ended up staying a t her house.

EG:  Ah yeah! Travis!  You know him?  Travis is THE MAN.  Talking about the right attitude on tour.  He is the most intriguing person I’ve ever met.  You should friend him on Facebook. He in his life is just, I mean, he could have a reality show about his life and just totally kill. He’s really good about posting about stuff he’s doing.  It’s really cool.  He is amazing and I feel like you have to experience his set at some really shitty club. That’s where he and his stuff really comes out.  The tour I did with him was really small clubs which was perfect.  I know he’s working on new material too.  Could be a new direction for Pictureplane.

KPMy last question for you was what was your high school experience like?

EG:  I went to a small private school, so it was pretty positive.  I would say at least half of the people I graduated with, I grew up with.  It was such a small school, I played sports, I sang in the chorus.  Just pretty positive.  I went to a pretty big college, University of Georgia.  About 40,000/50,000 students and high school was a little bubble.  Going off to Georgia was pretty weird experience.  I was definitely the weird kid [in High School] listening to all the weird shit.  I was really into jazz music which was not the norm for a kid. 

KPWhat sports did you play?

EG:  I played football and basketball.  I still play basketball all the time. 

Joel:  A stand out in all sports!

[Conversation turns to Yeasayer and their insane light show with honeycombs]

After the show, I had one of the absolute best, and worst nights of my life.  Everyone from Yeasayer and Washed Out and I went to a small hipster dive bar on the East side of Columbus, Carabar.  Many games of Pirate Madness were played, to the point where we achieved the high score.  To the best of my knowledge that high score still stands to this day. I offered Blair, Ernest and their crew a place to crash that night, so I left a little early to drop my friends off at their house just north of downtown.  I didn’t think much of the RIIIIIIIIPPPPP CRUUUNCH that sounded as I pulled my car out of the unpaved lot across the street from the bar.  Then my oil light turned on… then, one block away from my house, my car sputtered out and died.  Turns out, my oil pan had been ripped open and the oil gushed out of my car, which scorched and seized my engine.  I had to get towed back to my house (at 4 a.m.) But the night… er, should I say morning, turned out pretty great.  Washed Out and crew were great guests, and awesome to talk to. (I wasn’t geeking out at all… (lies)) Most traumatic/laid back night.

Washed Out's new album Within and Without dropped via Sub Pop last month. He’ll be returning to Ohio in September at Midpoint Music Festivalin Cincinnati.  




WASHED OUT | September 29, 2010 | The Newport Music Hall | Columbus, OH
Interview with Ernest Greene and company coming on Monday, August 8th with photos by John Danner.

WASHED OUT | September 29, 2010 | The Newport Music Hall | Columbus, OH

Interview with Ernest Greene and company coming on Monday, August 8th with photos by John Danner.




Small Black | July 12, 2010 | The Summit | Columbus, OH

Photos by John Danner

I couldn’t believe how hot it was.  Even with the fresh rain, I felt as if I was inhaling steam and exhaling a rainforest. I could feel my hair growing bigger with the increasing humidity. I cringed at the thought of stepping inside the greenroom at The Summit.  It had been a bit ripe back there for the last interview.

A few moments after being sweetly greeted by Josh Kolenik and Ryan Heyner of Small Black, we stepped into the greenroom, freshly painted black.  The dark walls couldn’t distract from the wretched stench of (what I assume was) a dead animal or mold or maybe both.  The Summit is in a transitional phase, and Small Black even commented on how “raw” the venue seemed to keep things.  We joked around for a bit before I was introduced to band members Juan Pieczanski and Jeff Curtin as they entered the room. The boys had chosen to watch D2: The Mighty Ducks before I arrived, and it provided a silly soundtrack to our interview….

KP: Do you guys wanna talk about Mighty Ducks in the interview?

Ryan: We should.

Josh: I never have seen Mighty Ducks, I’m gonna be honest.  There’s all this nostalgia for D1 and D2, I don’t think I’ve seen them.  I know about Goldberg.

Juan: D1 is sick.

Josh: I once did a keg stand with Joshua Jackson.  Yeah, at a party in Chelsea.

Juan: That’s a good story, you should open with that.

KP:  So yeah, tell me about how you did a keg stand with Joshua Jackson.

Josh: I was walking around Chelsea, in New York, and I saw this big party.  There was some crazy rockabilly band, and I had just gotten off work so I just crashed the party by myself.  I was feeling kinda weird cause I didn’t know anyone.  I was eating a bunch of bar-b-que and drinking beers.  I went to get a beer and Joshua Jackson is like, “Bro, can you help me?”  [laughter] So I held his leg while he did a keg stand.  I felt like, you can’t pass up a chance—

Juan: Did he hold your leg?

Josh: Yeah, yeah.

Juan: Wow, you got to touch him. That’s pretty awesome.

Josh: Yeah he was very handsome.

[laughter]

Jeff (enters): You guys talking Ducks?

Josh: Talking Joshua Jackson.

Josh: Which is like talking Ducks.

ALL:  Quack, quack quack.

KP:  So you guys are based in Brooklyn right?

Josh: Yep.

KP:  Did you grow up in the city or did you end up moving there from somewhere else?

Josh: I grew up on Long Island, which is the suburbs.

Ryan: Juan and Jeff are from DC, and they went to school in New York.   

KP:  Where’d you guys go to school at?

Juan: Columbia.  Me and Jeff did.

Josh: I went upstate.

KP:  Where at in upstate?

Josh: Colgate University.

KP:  In your opinion, what’s the best thing about being a band in Brooklyn?  Or the worst thing, whichever you prefer.

Josh: I think it’s pretty amazing to be a band in Brooklyn.  There’s so many places to play.  There’s so many other cool bands to play with, and you meet and kind of be inspired by.  I don’t know, you can’t beat it.  It’s not competitive at all, it’s really positive.

KP:  I've kind of heard it can be competitive.  Well I've heard from different people, I guess it's how you take it, isn't it?

Josh: Yeah.

Juan: Yeah, it doesn’t feel competitive at all.  We’re just friends with all the bands. 

Josh: I don’t feel any sort of competition.

KP:  That’s good.  So, what was your creative process like for the EP that just came out?

Josh: Ryan and I, we did most of it at my uncle’s house on Long Island, just in an attic.  We spent a lot of last winter there.  Juan and Jeff joined the band and we’ve been working on stuff with them.

KP:  Is this the Uncle Matt that’s infamous?

Josh: Yeah, that’s him.

photo via Small Black’s Myspace

KP:  So speaking of Uncle Matt, what’s your favorite Uncle Matt story?  Isn’t he in the video for Despicable Dogs?

Josh: Yeah it’s just all him.  My favorite story about him?  I could get really deep right now… 

KP:  He looks like an interesting character.  Like he looks pretty rad.

Josh: Yeah he’s kind of a legend on Long Island.  Like when you go to- the story I’ll tell is kind of in regards to that Long Beach is kind of like his turf where he hangs out.  Whenever I go with him to the beach everybody’s like, “What’s up Matt?”  We went for the video, and he ran into four or five people he knew in the winter on the boardwalk.

Ryan: Yeah he’s kind of like a celeb.  Yeah, in Long Beach.

Josh: So, many years ago, he’s like this very gentle, nice guy on top of that.  There are a couple senior citizens homes on the boardwalk down there and my uncle just randomly helped this old woman with something, I forget exactly what it was.  She said to him, she was like, “You’re so nice.  I’ve watched you on this boardwalk for 20 years.”  Cause he’s been there his whole life.  She’s like, “And I always thought you were this very nice guy and everybody knew you and I’m very excited to meet you.”  And she told him she remembered the car he had exactly when he was like 25.

KP:  Wow.

Josh: Yeah, it’s amazing when someone’s been in a place for so long and been that deeply engrained into the culture there.

Ryan: Or just sort of the impression that he made on her, having not even talked to her.  That’s something.  He has that effect on people.

Juan: I think a good story too is when we were shooting the video and that surfer—

Josh: Oh, that was amazing.

Juan: We were just shooting on the beach and this guy—

Josh: You’ll see there’s a guy in the video surfing and he comes out and shakes my uncle’s hand.

Juan: And he was just like, “I made that board.”

Josh: Yeah and so the board he was surfing was a board that my uncle made.  We went there and shot for like a half hour.

Juan: He makes really awesome surf boards.  He designs them.

KP:   Yeah I saw those in the video.  So he’s in New York?

Josh: Yeah, yeah.

KP:  I don’t connect surfers with New York that much.

Ryan: Long Island is like huge surf community. Yeah it’s like the whole southern part of Long Island is all beaches.  Rockaway Beach. And they’re beautiful beaches.

Josh: There’s like a total surfer culture at Rockaway Beach. There’s a new taco stand there that’s really really good.

Ryan: Oh really?  Like on the side of the road?

Josh: Oh, it’s the best.  It makes you really want to go to that beach.

KP:  For the tacos?

Josh: Yeah, and they’re within walking distance, so you just sit down and when you get hungry you walk and go back to the beach.

Ryan: What’s the best place to eat out here?

KP:  Hounddog’s Pizza, that’s what I recommend everybody.

Ryan: Really?

KP:  Yeah..

Ryan: So good pizza?

KP:  This is a common theme in all my interviews.  Everybody asks about the food and I always end up talking about Hounddog’s. But you have to get it with the smokin’ joe’s crust cause they pour garlic butter all around the crust.

Juan: We had some garlic butter today.  Have you heard of Papa John’s?

KP: Yeah.

Juan: Yeah we had some of his garlic butter today.

Josh: (laughs) Yeah have you of, uh, Papa John’s?  We had some of his garlic butter today.  Very, very fancy.

KP:  Well I must say, Hounddog’s garlic butter is leagues above.

Ryan: Okay.

KP:  How supportive have your families been about your creative endeavors?

Josh: 100%.

KP:  That’s good.  I’ve heard different stories from different bands.

Ryan: Really?

KP:  Parents don’t believe in them until they get in some medium that they’re familiar with, like New York Times or something like that.

Juan: Yeah I think all our families are real supportive.  They’re super stoked. My mom came to our show in DC and she was standing on a chair in the back going, “Yeaaahh!!”  We were playing with Washed Out.

Josh: I definitely did a shoutout to your mom.

Juan: Yeah, she was flipping out.

KP:  Weren’t you guys the backing band for Washed Out for awhile?

Juan: Yeah.  We toured with him.  So we would play, and then he would go on and do some songs by himself, and then we would join him.

KP:  That’s cool.

Juan: Backing band, we don’t know how we feel about that term.

KP:  Well, that’s how I read it online.

Josh: We were helping a friend out and it was good for both bands.

Ryan: It was fun, and his tour was really amazing.

[D2 gets loud in the background]

Juan: Sorry, we didn’t turn down Mighty Ducks 2. 

KP:  It’s getting pretty rowdy. Tell me about your South by Southwest experience.

Ryan: It was hell.

Josh: It was pretty rough.

KP:  Really?

Josh: We played fourteen shows in four days.  I was really sick the entire time.  By the last night I was just a total wreck.

KP:  And the weather was pretty bad for the last day right?

Ryan: It was freezing. It was the coldest day they had seen in like ever. It was also shitty because of the fact that our van died on our way into Austin so we were without a van the entire time.

Josh: We were just a burden to every person.

Juan: We had to get Uhauls and stuff.

Josh: We had to arrange 14 separate shows in four days without having a car to do it.

Ryan: Yeah it was bad.  But it was a lot of fun.

KP:  It was fun but, brutal?

Juan: Beach Fossils beat us on the shows.

Josh: I think they played 16 times.

Ryan: Yeah we thought we’d played the most shows of any of our friends but I guess Beach Fossils played more.

KP:  And how many days is SXSW?

Josh: Four. Wednesday through Saturday.

KP:  That’s a lot.  As a band I don’t know if I could do that.  As a person I could definitely do that.

Josh: It was pretty fun.  If I didn’t get sick I think I wouldn’t have thought it was so brutal.

KP:  How much impact has press from Pitchfork, Spinner, and other prominent music outlets had you guys?

Josh: I mean we’re here ya know?  We got signed to a record label and it’s all just very lucky.

KP:  When did you sign?

Josh: February or March.

Ryan: Beginning of the year.

Josh: Then they re-released our original EP and we’ll put a full length out within the fall.

KP:  Do you know the release date for that yet?

Josh: Kind of, but it could change.

KP:  What was it like integrating the two new band members?  How did you guys meet these guys?

Jeff: We met a few years before.

Josh: Yeah we played in another band.  Jeff used to record with our friend Shane, produced our Old Man stuff, and we met him through that.  Then he played on one of our records.  Juan and Jeff were playing projects for years.

Juan: We’ve all been working on a lot of music together, and this project started doing really well so we thought, let’s focus on this.  Which is how I think a lot of stuff happens these days.  Like with all the internet stuff, it’s so quick, everyone’s friends and playing and something just starts to take off. 

Josh: Yeah like the Real Estate guys.

Juan: Yeah, exactly, they’re all in other bands.  And everyone has heard all their other stuff too.

KP:  What are you guys listening to now?  Bands that you guys are excited about.

Josh: The Dream.

Juan: OneOhTrix Point Never.

KP:  Where are they from?

Josh: He’s in New York now.  It’s like drone electronic music.

Juan: Some people call it “O-ne-Oh Trix Point Never,” it’s all spelled out.  You should check it out.

KP:  Yeah, definitely.

Josh: I’m really into the new Plies single.  (laughs)  You know that guy?  He’s a rapper.  It’s really absurd.  It’s called “Hey Bra.”

KP:  Hey Brad?

Ryan: Hey Bra. (laughs)  Is it “bra” or is it “bro?”

Josh: Bra.  Yeah it’s kind of the most annoying and also most amazing song.

Juan: You should embed the youtube video right into the interview.

(I would have embedded a video, but I couldn’t find one for Hey Bra)

KP:  Maybe I should.  But I also heard you guys like the Miley Cirus “Party in the USA.”

Ryan: Oh yeah, that’s a classic.

Josh: I DJ that every time I play.  I didn’t put it on my playlist but you reminded me.

KP:  I heard Wild Nothing on there.

Josh: Yeah that record’s really good.

KP:  I saw them open up for Neon Indian and it was really amazing.

Josh: Nice.  They did that tour in New York too.

KP:  Touring in a band you get pretty familiar with each other pretty quickly.

Juan: Oh yeah.

KP:  So what’s your favorite band van activity?

[laughter]

Juan: Oh wow.  We can’t reveal that stuff.

Josh: Basically we just make really offensive jokes the entire time.

Ryan: For hours, it’s pretty bad.

Josh: We all try to be Eddie Murphy.

Juan: Not specifically offensive in any particular way, more generally offensive.  We kind of tackle everything.

Jeff: We just like pretending that we were on the set of all the movies that we’ve ever seen and just talking about how great all the people were to work with.

Juan: Oh yeah that’s another great one. We have a lot of bits. Just how great of a work experience it’s been being on set with these people. 

[laughter]

Jeff: We spend a fair amount of time doing this. Like, just the level of commitment these guys have to the roles.

KP:  Well what’s your favorite movie that you like to do bits for?

Josh: The Room.  

Ryan: Oh, The Room!

Josh: It’s a fantastic film.  It’s kind of universally regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, but it’s hysterical.

Juan: It’s so entertaining, though, and lively, that you just-  I’ve seen it like 10 times, he bought it.

Josh: I got it on my computer. In the first 20 minutes there’s just like three completely extraneous sex scenes with the same characters and it’s always this really bad Boyz II Men rip off behind it.

Juan: And the director is the star.  The director funded it, directed it, produced it, made the whole movie, and he’s in all these sex scenes where he’s like—

Josh: There’s one scene of his butt thrusting that’ll scar you.

Juan: He’s super ripped too.  It’s really very creepy.

KP:  Maybe I should find a YouTube clip of that too.

Josh: You should put in the famous roof sequence.

KP:  The roof sequence?

Josh: Yeah.  When he says hello to his friend Mark.

KP:  I’m gonna have to watch this movie to fully understand what you guys are talking about.

Ryan: It’s hard to explain but it’s just, if you like to watch bad movies just for them being bad this is in the top three.

Juan: “Oh, hi Mark.” (impersonating the film)

Ryan: It’s really really really awful.

Juanan: “I did not hit her, I didn’t hit her.  I did not hit her.”  (again)

(laughs)

(See youtube video of The Room here)

Josh: I wish you could convey that in text how funny that is.

KP:  Maybe I’ll sound clip that for you.

Juan: Oh no, please don’t.  (laughs)

Ryan: Do it, do it.

KP:  I got Bear in Heaven talking about, it was actually in relation to Hounddog’s pizza, and their tour manager had apparently been “offered felatio” in exchange for a slice of his pizza. [laughter] So, John from Bear in Heaven was like, “What’s felatio?”  And then that ended up turning into falsetto, and that went up into them going, “Felatiooo,” singing it.

Ryan: Wow.

KP:  Yeah it was pretty great.  So that might have to be a sound clip for the interview.

Jeff: Taken out of context, bassist Juan Pieczanski says, “I did not hit her, I didn’t hit her.” 

KP:  Well, I’ll put the clip from YouTube in there to justify it.

Juan: Oh, you’re killin’ me, please don’t put it in. I didn’t sign anything.

(laughs)

KP:  If you have time to kill in a city, what do you like to do?  If you’re wandering around.

Josh: We just like to go to thrift stores.

Jeff: Record stores.

Juan: Craft stores, yeah.

Josh: Hang out on the corner.  See what happens.  Go race some hot rods.

Juan: We break into pools.

Ryan: We did that in Bloomington, that was fun.

Juan: That’s always a good one.

KP:  Breaking into pools is always a great time.

Josh: One time there was a hot tub at the pool and it felt like the Exxon Valdez had spilled in it.  It was super slimy.

Katie: Ewwww!

Juan: The coating in it would stay on you for awhile.

Ryan: It stung your skin.

KP:  Like body oil.  Probably some bodily fluids in there as well.

Josh: It’s actually a hippie pool and it’s all patchouli.

Ryan: It’s a pure patchouli pool. .

KP:  A patchouli pool?  I actually spent a weekend at a hippie fest last weekend and it was just like patchouli everywhere.

Juan: How’d that go?

KP:  It wasn’t bad cause I was with a good group of friends and we had a campsite way in the back of the woods away from everybody.

Ryan: Which festival?

KP:  Blue Heron Festival in Sherman, New York and Rusted Root was the headliner.

Josh: We were just talking about them today.

Juan: Did Disco Biscuits play?

[laughter]

KP:  No.

Juan: Have you been to Camp Bisco?

[laughter]

KP:  Should you explain?

Juan: Oh Camp Bisco is this like yearly festival that’s kind of organized around Disco Biscuits.  It’s just a gathering of Bisco-heads. The gathering of the Bisco-heads.  Bisco-heads you know, jam-heads, jam band.

KP:  Yeah that’s pretty much what it was.  There was a drum circle.  They had two main stages, they have a main stage and then they have a dance stage and then they have the drum circle and I remember the first night that I was there completely off my mind, we’re walking back through all the campsites and we just come upon this drum circle and people are like beating the drums like banshees, and this huge bonfire and it looked like some kind of sacrificial ceremony.

Juan: That’s some Burning Man shit right there.

KP:  Yeah it was crazy, and I was out of my mind too.  I was just like, “Let’s just go back to the campsite.”

Juan: I can definitely see Travis at Burning Man.

KP:  Travis?

Josh: Travis from Pictureplane.

KP:  Oh!  I thought you meant like, Travis the band.

Juan: Oh no, although we can talk about them also.  I admit I really like some of their stuff, and I got made fun of for a while. I like it.

KP:  They got some good tunes.  Do you guys have any crazy stories from this tour at all?  Other than breaking into pools and getting covered in film.

Juan: That night was one of the craziest nights.  We hung out with our label people who were really fun and stayed up really late.

Jeff: Mainly we’ve just been listening to the Grateful Dead in the car a lot.

Josh: That’s really all we do in the car. We have Sirius radio and we just listen to the Grateful Dead.

KP:  They have a pure Grateful Dead station?

Ryan: Yeah, 24 hours.

Josh: I never listened to it until our last tour.

Juan: So you haven’t listened to the Grateful Dead?

KP:  Not, I mean just singles—

Juan: You haven’t gotten like, 10 hour sessions.

KP:  I’m thinking I should.  Probably just get weirder.

Josh (about D2 where the kids are dancing in hockey masks): This scene is just outrageous right now.

Jeff: You know what I just realized?  Danny from the Sandlot is in this movie. I had no idea.  I did not remember that.

Juan: They’re having a really good time.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean Emilio was just so good with those kids.  He was really great on the ice too.

[laughter]

Josh: I think what’s crazy is that there’s a real hockey team called Mighty Ducks.

Juan: That came out of this.

Josh: It emerged from the D2 movement.

Juan: Where they good at all though?  You know about sports.  

Josh: I think they were good.


Small Black are embarking on a national tour this October.  Their first full length, New Chain, is being released on October 26th through Jagjaguwar.  Want a hint of the new stuff? Take a listen to "Photojournalist"  here.

10-22 Baltimore, MD - Golden West
10-23 Washington, DC - DC9
10-24 Raleigh, NC - Kings Barricade
10-26 Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
10-27 Tallahassee, FL - Club Downunder
10-28 New Orleans, LA - The Saint
10-29 Austin, TX - Emo’s Jr.
10-30 Dallas, TX - The Cavern
11-01 El Paso, TX - TBA
11-02 Phoenix, AZ - Trunk Space
11-03 San Diego, CA - Casbah #
11-05 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo #
11-06 San Francisco, CA - The Independent #
11-08 Portland, OR - Holocene #!
11-09 Seattle, WA - Vera Project #
11-10 Vancouver, British Columbia - Media Club #
11-12 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
11-13 Denver, CO - Rhinoceropolis
11-15 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
11-16 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
11-17 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
11-18 Toronto, Ontario - Mod Club ~%
11-19 Montreal, Quebec - Le Belmont ~%
11-21 Boston, MA - Great Scott

# with Young Prisms
 ! with Matthew Dear
~ with Delorean
% with Lemonade