Wednesday, April 27, 2011

q/a : ‘murder the mountains’ with red fang’s aaron beam

If you haven’t heard of Red Fang yet, you must be living under a rock… rather than, you know, listening to your rock. Portland’s favorite metalheads have long been preparing for the release of second album, Murder The Mountains, which came out on April 12th via Relapse Records. Produced by The Decemberists’ Chris Funk and mixed by the Grammy-winning Vance Powell (The Raconteurs, The White Stripes, Kings of Leon), Red Fang brings some fresh depth to their plug-in-and-shred metal, adding Queens of the Stone Age grooves alongside raw, headbang-worthy instrumentation.

The stoner metal foursome has been playing together since the fall of 2005, rocking their first gig on December 31st, 2005. Since then, Bryan Giles (guitar, vocals), Aaron Beam (bass, vocals), David Sullivan (guitar), and John Sherman (drums) have made a home for themselves at Dante’s over the years, yet lately, it seems like they’re out growing those digs. Paying their dues over the years and getting on as many tours as possible, Red Fang most recently shared the Roseland stage with Helmet and five others for the inaugural Metalliance Tour, and they’ll spend this summer touring extensively in Europe as well as rocking Hellfest in France and cities across the US on the Mayhem Fest tour.

But first, there’s a headlining gig of their own, to celebrate the release of Murder The Mountains on Saturday, April 30th at Branx with fellow Portland rockers Mongoloid Village, Lord Dying, and Drunk Ladies.

And while we’re still waiting for the band to reveal the first music video (a Whitey McConnaughy-directed–the man behind “Prehistoric Dog”– and Brian Posehn cameoed joint) from the new record for “Wires,” which you can listen to below, the band has been dropping hints of what’s to come.

OMN caught up with bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam a few weeks ago to discuss the new album, label, video, and upcoming plans, like playing in the sky.

These days you guys seem to be constantly in motion. And you’ve got more dates booked for this summer in the US and Europe with some legendary metal and hard rock names. How has this success happened? It it new label support?

Aaron Beam: It starts of course with hard work on our part. Having played music forever, we’ve made a lot of friends over the years, and we try not to be assholes; we try to be a good band. This most recent kind of success, or whatever you wanna call it, I think is pretty strongly related the manager that we just started working with, Laurel Stearns. A combination of her and having the label support because Relapse has been really great. So I think it’s just being on a higher profile label and having a manager who’s really working hard for us is naturally the turning point. And we’ve got a great booking agent too, and I think having all three things together is what’s really making the difference.

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, April 22, 2011

three nights, three venues for starfucker

Since OMN last checked in with Starfucker before their biggest hometown gig ever, there has been an album release, an arrest at SXSW, and lots of touring in between. Yet, there has not been a proper Portland release gig for the long-awaited second Starfucker album, Reptilians, which came out in March on Polyvinyl. But rather than simply play one show to celebrate the release, Starfucker will play back-to-back-to-back nights at three PDX venues, completing more than a month on the road–their most expansive tour yet, which covered the entire US plus a recent stop in Vancouver, Canada.

Like any band on tour, Starfucker’s current 30+ show jaunt was not without its own adventures and adversity, and the guys documented it well on their active Facebook, Twitter (where you can play 20 questions), and pet-friendly Tumblr accounts.

There was Ryan Biornstad’s “B.S.” arrest for something akin to “jaywalking” at SXSW, for which the charges were dropped on April 15th, and the subsequent sale of fly, new “FREE RYAN” tees because although “Ryan does not have to go back to jail, he still has to pay a lawyer,” the band Tweeted. “We’re selling special shirts on tour to raise money for him.” All proceeds from the sales of this shirt will go to pay his legal fees, which you can help pay here.

Then, immediately following the SXSW debacle, the tour van broke down and the band arrived in Houston via tow truck. Thanks AAA!

But, on the plus side, there have been tatted fans and three broken keyboards… so far. See here.

“Fuck, had to by another keyboard. That’s 3 this tour.. Hate Guitar Center, love their return policy though!! #returnitaftertour.”

The hijinks never end when Portland’s most lovable electro-miscreants take to the road; they even managed to fit in the filming of a hooded, cloaked and caped video for ”Julius” somewhere along the way.

As of Monday, the band had sold out nineteen gigs, and now they’re well into the twenties as they’ve already sold out all three Portland gigs; although, if you’re lucky, you might be able to snag a ticket at the door as these venues often hold onto a handful. And in case you can’t remember where you’re seeing Starfucker, and on which night, or have no clue who’s opening (unfortunately Unknown Mortal Orchestra has been called off to open for the Smith Westerns instead of opening the Holocene gig), get your important info here:

Thursday, April 28th (RSVP) at Holocene with Guidance Counselor and DJ Brkfst Sndwch; doors and show 9:30pm, 21+
Friday, April 29th (RSVP) at the Doug Fir with Blouse; doors 8pm, show 9pm, 21+
Saturday, April 30th (RSVP) at Mississippi Studios with Champagne Champagne and Arohan; doors 8:30pm, show 9pm, all ages

The above venues will satisfy Starfucker’s desire to play smaller, sweatier gigs, and you can expect a set heavy with crisp Reptilians cuts, an album written...

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, April 15, 2011

q/a : blue skies for black hearts star in 'embracing the modern age'

Portland's chameleon indie rockers Blue Skies For Black Hearts are poised to unleash their fifth long player on Tuesday, April 19th followed by a celebration at the Mission Theater on Saturday, April 23rd. But Embracing the Modern Age is more than just a poppy collection of classic-sounding and modern indie rock cuts, it's also a film starring the band (directed by Jon Griffith) and a multimedia experience (although hesitates billing it as such).

"It's not going to be a normal rock and roll show that's for sure," remarks lead singer/songwriter Pat Kearns. "We have a lot of strange things planned. It's going to run like a cabaret or theater show, so please be on time. We're using the movie screen a lot during the show... and it interacts with the audience. Maybe kind of like seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Pink Flamingos. And all that happens before we even show the film. It's going to be a happening."

The album itself features a menagerie of styles from the de-funkified yet obviously Stones' "Emotional Rescue"-influenced title track to BRMC-inspired grit ("Damn Those Girls") and bouncing, harmonized pop ("Deck of Cards," "Sitting on the Edge") and wonderfully jangly, sing along bop, like on the first single "Majoring in the Arts":

The above track "revolves around a food cart romance--a uniquely Portland experience," says Kearns. Adding that the album explores "the gray areas that I encounter in my day to day life as a Portlander. Food carts, relationships, luck, the balance of work and play, keeping up with technology. Progress isn’t all good or bad. But it’s here and it’s changed us. Now I have anxiety if I leave home without my phone. Having the phone is great. The anxiety isn’t.”

The album may have "got a slow start for lots of reasons," according to Kearns, but "we were working on the songs for a long time," with most of the recording done in the first half of 2010. Since then Blue Skies For Black Hearts has created a film and multimedia live show as well as broke wishbones with vonHummer.

Read the rest on OMN.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

q/a : rusko brosteps back to portland

To be fair, UK’s Rusko doesn’t really like the term “brostep.” But, also to be fair, it’s a beast that he helped create.

And Rusko is the prime proliferator of hyper-energetic dubstep in a field of electronic music that is as vast as rock–for a whole different brand of dubstep check the soulfully rising James Blake or local purveyors, LoDubs.

The point is, Rusko has caught fire here in the States with his wonky wobble wobble, bringing some Euro club stamina to American dance floors and parties. But we wouldn’t be Americans if we didn’t make some demands of the music itself (or the music maker in this case). Crowds have confirmed that they like their dubstep faster, grittier, and heavier than ever peddled before, and whether he like it or not, Rusko has been just the man to deliver. So far.

Last time OMN spoke with Rusko, he said, “I don’t associate myself with being a dubstep producer, I am a musician full stop.”

So while he continues to take dubstep to the next level, there may be change in the future. But for time foreseeable, Rusko is enjoying his status as the master of ceremonies.

Upping the multimedia and light show since the last time he hit the Roseland Theater, Rusko still looks to melt faces with his dynamic electronica on Friday, April 15th at the Roseland as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival.

OMN recently caught up with Rusko for a quick chat.

Rusko is hotter than ever… more HARD parties, more touring… how’s it all feel?


The multitude of descriptors for your style must make you smile. I personally have an affinity for “brostep.” What’s your favorite description of your style?

Hmm, I am actually not too into the term “brostep” but I guess it’s sort of my fault really. My favorite description is anything that includes BASS.

How much new music are you pumping out? I swear last time I saw you every other track was a brand new Rusko exclusive.

A lot! Working with a slew of artists and also have a special project coming out later on this year…

How do your tracks change in the live setting?

I always take new original tracks and test them out in the live setting. If they don’t hit hard enough, I go back to the lab!

Read the rest on OMN.

Friday, April 8, 2011

holy ghost! + das racist at branx

Releasing their debut album on Tuesday, Brooklyn's Holy Ghost! took the #1 spot on the iTunes Electronic charts with the duo of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser proclaiming they feel "amazing!"Amazing relief and excitement that their self-titled, first album is finally out, via the famous NYC dance label DFA Records, available to the world after years of touring as DJs and, more recently, high-profile opening slots for some of dance's biggest names. OMN spoke with the guys back May 2010 before they ever hit Portland stages opening for both LCD Soundsystem and Chromeo on consecutive tours that swept through PDX and across the nation.

With cred like that, it's not surprise they went straight to #1. Plus the music ain't bad either.

Holy Ghost! makes synthesized, electronic-based pop music--extended dance cuts mixed with the songwriting and pop sensibilities of their DFA mentors: James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) and Tim Goldsworthy. Although it's plenty radio-friendly, Holy Ghost!'s bread and butter is the complexly intensifying dance groove that takes six minutes to develop, thus resurrecting a modern-day disco and tropical club jams on dance floors across the world, much like their experienced Aussie counterparts Cut Copy, for whom they are currently opening (except in Portland sadly).

Instead, they'll play Portland as part of the Soul'd Out Music Festival on Wednesday, April 13th at Branx with Portland's Reporter and the ridiculous hip-hop purveyors Das Racist--a Brooklyn trio of color where the "Das" is not a German article but rather a slurred "That's" and who aim to combate racism by casting the first stone, by being racist themselves.

Das Racist is hype man Ashok Kondabolu (aka Dap) and rapper Himanshu Suri (aka Heems), who both grew up in Queens, NY to Indian-born parents, and rapper Victor Vazquez (aka Kool A.D.), from San Francisco and of Afro-Cuban and Italian heritage. With beats that pull from 8-bit video games and have the same minimal complexity as The Cool Kids' Chuck Inglish, Das Racist spouts the "brown skin" political agenda of Dead Prez or Public Enemy but with a but with a novelty, MC Paul Barman twist. Rappers that are also jokesters can be a difficult act to stomach (as the quality of the music often suffers for the sake of comedy), but Das Racist has managed to outlive their internet buzz, even with their questionable initial (s)hit "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell."

Read the rest on OMN.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ice cube : another og on cable tv

As the wide world of West Coast gangsta rap diminishes–Nate Dogg passed away on March 15th, Snoop Dogg subsequently released an underwhelming eleventh studio album, and Dr. Dre is taking forever to release his third and “final” album–with each passing decade, one is left to ponder, where’s Ice Cube?

…in the rap game at least.

Still a family name (and we mean family more than ever before), the “Fuck Tha Police” thug has gone the way of Ice-T: acting on television. Whether you’re from predominantly white Portland suburbs (or Portland in general) or South Central, we all grow out of our gangsta rap phase–plus some money (and a few years) goes more than a little way to change those youthful predispositions. No exception to the rule, Ice Cube has focused most of the last decade on a successful acting career that has put his softer, comedic side on the big screen–now with several Friday sequels under his belt and humorous roles in two BarberShop films and a Showtime series plus many feature film writer, director and producer credits to his name.

Now an executive director and cast member of the TBS family sitcom Are We There Yet?, a show loosely based on the 2005 feature film of the same name (which was set in Portland but mainly filmed in Vancouver, BC and other NW locations), Cube appears to be spending more and more time away from music. In August 2010, Are We There Yet?, which also stars retired NFL d-end and linebacker Terry Crews, was renewed for an additional 90 episodes, some five or six more seasons.

Since the world may never again experience a live arsenal of West Coast rap like the 2000 Up In Smoke Tour, Ice Cube is currently on his own 29-day trek across the States and Canada, which was interrupted last month “due to a filming commitment,” causing Ice Cube to reschedule his original Oregon gigs at the end of March–just another sign that film comes first these days. But lucky us, the tour is back on and Ice Cube now hits Bend’s Midtown Music Hall on Wednesday, April 6th and Portland on Friday, April 8th at the Roseland as part of the Soul’d Out Music Festival.

On the music end, The Voice of Cube blog has been silent since September 28th, 2010–the release date of his ninth and most recent album, I Am The West–but Cube has definitely not forgotten his Jheri curled days of Straight Outta Compton and Boyz n the Hood. On record, Ice Cube still carries himself as a savage gangsta with his distinct, gruff delivery and harsh, commanding lyrics. Stepping on stage, there’s still a glimmer of feisty protest left the 41-year-old, Don Mega gangsta who promises to perform “all of the classics and all of the new hits.”

With this in mind, know that Ice Cube still keeps it gangsta–in persona at least.

Keeping it gangsta while sporting some vintage Mariners’ gear, probably just because he liked the 1994 teal, in an OG rap music video that spares no expense when it comes to video production:

Watch more classiKKK Cube on OMN.