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Keep it simple: an interview with CUSSES

Help the band fund its second album

Help the band fund its second album

CUSSES is a three-piece indie rock band from Savannah, Georgia. In this edition of our weekly interview, Angel Bond discusses the band’s lack of a bassist, keeping entertained in the tour van, and why you should contribute to the band’s Kickstarter campaign.

Describe CUSSES for someone who has never heard the band.

A modern throw back to yesteryear rock n roll!

Why does CUSSES not have a bassist?

We like to overcome challenges for a unique sound and keep it simple.

What’s your favorite way to entertain yourselves in the tour van?

Listening to our merch girl’s OK Cupid messages and comedians on satellite radio.

Why should I donate to your Kickstarter campaign?

You should donate to our Kickstarter campaign because we’ve only just begun. You will be supporting a DIY band and a handful of great local artists that are involved in this project! We have a lot of music on hold that we are dying to share with you! Support CUSSES, and support the creative community that is here to keep us all inspired!

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

We would be in nut house! But seriously we would always find a way to play even if it was in our attic by ourselves. We would be building houses, sets for film, taking pictures, anything in the art world.

Steeping in punk rock: an interview with Don Juan y Los Blancos

Don Juan y Los Blancos: an R&B/garage/rock n' roll monster

Don Juan y Los Blancos: an R&B/garage/rock n’ roll monster

Before I get to this interview, let me explain how I encountered Becky Blanca. I had posted my interview with Rachel Nagy of Detroit Cobras on Examiner and I received a message from Nicole of Zero Zero and The Love Me Nots that my next interview should be with Becky Blanca. Well, when I get a recommendation from someone whose music I dig, I take that recommendation to heart. After exchanging some messages with Blanca, I came to find out that she too is a Lebowski achiever and is well-versed in taking it easy. Now that you know the story of how I came to know her, Becky is a vocalist for Los Angeles band Don Juan y Los Blancos. She discussed the band’s sound, performing on Good Day L.A., and what album she’d like to perform live.

Describe Don Juan y Los Blancos for someone who has never heard the band.

I always have a hard time describing it, but if I had to I’d say it’s an R&B/garage/rock n’ roll monster that has been steeping in punk rock for an eternity.

What was your reaction when you heard you would be on Good Day LA? Describe your experience on the show.

We were way excited! Mar Yvette is a real cool lady with her ear to the ground. I was super nervous and tried drinking whiskey at 9 am, but it didn’t really work out. Steve Edwards won my heart that day.

With what band would you most like to be a guest vocalist? Why?

I would love to be a guest vocalist for any of my friends. I don’t think most of my music pals realize how much I listen to and adore their music. That should be my next party, have all my favorite friends’ bands play, except for their singers. Or harmonize with their singers, whatever.

If you were going to perform any album other than your own at a show, what album would it be? Why?

Blank Generation by Richard Hell & The Voidoids. Man, that album has everything. “Liars Beware”, “Betrayal Takes Two”….yeah. Oooh! Or Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs. I’d have to change all the keys, though.

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

Eh, I work a steady 9-5 at a sandwich shop. That’s probably what I’d be doing.

Like a shaman on acid: an interview with Lightnin’ Woodcock

This is the part where I’m supposed to introduce Lightnin’ Woodcock. But you know something? This guy doesn’t really need an introduction. Besides, the man himself breaks it down a lot better than I ever could. Enjoy.

$atan's Work is Never Done (vol. 1) is available now

$atan’s Work is Never Done (vol. 1) is available now

How do you describe your music for someone who has never heard it?

It’s not the same old white bullshit. It’s bluesy, but it’s heavy, filthy rock’n’roll leaning toward metal and punk rock. It’s honest, personal and sexually explicit. Lightnin’ is like a fuckin’ shaman on acid when I play the goddamn geetar; sometimes I use my mouth on it like licking a creamy box. Unlike most motherfuckers I see out there, Lightnin’ is committed to giving an energetic performance each time I get onstage. I can even play Jimi Hendrix songs with an oven mitt on my hand, as per the agreement Lightnin’ made with dark forces at the crossroads.

Compare your new album to previous recordings you’ve done.

$atan’s Work is Never Done (Vol I) is a better representation of how Lightnin’ Woodcock & the Bad Muthafukkaz sound live. The range of musical styles on this album has broadened from the last two records, from the acid-rock-a-billy sound of “Help Me Jesus” to the boogie rock styling of “Voodoo Queen” and “Brains & Personality”. We went heavier with the stoner-psychedelic metal love song “Masterpiece” and got a little softer on songs like “Bad Man” and “(I’m Your) Smoochie Coochie Man”. I think the overall sound and production improved on this LP and the performances from all the players sound better.

If you were going to perform any album other than your own at a show, what album would you choose? Why?

Either Standing on the Verge of Getting It On or maybe Let’s Take it to the Stage by Funkadelic. Every song on those albums is a masterpiece, some of the best rock music Lightnin’ has ever heard, and it would be very satisfying to play that shit live with a skilled band. Otherwise, Lightnin’ would perform the first 5 Black Sabbath records all in a row; it would be an endurance test, like the devil’s Passion Play.

Who would be on your musical Mt. Rushmore? Why?

Lightnin’ would honor these musical forefathers as revolutionary bluesmen: Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, George Clinton, Captain Beefheart and Angus Young. They all propelled the blues into the future and created genius shit that nobody can touch, still to this day. If the mountain had enough room, I’d include Sabbath, DEVO and ZZ Top…but that’s like a dozen more faces to chisel.

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

Probably suffering a fate worse than death, like working an office job or wearing a name tag, working for the man somewhere. Higher education sounds appealing to Lightnin’. If they made me stop playing music, I’d become a full-time scholar, but hopefully not while behind bars. Also, if I wasn’t making music, Lightnin’ would be getting much more rest than I get. Satan’s work is truly never done.

Make friends with everyone: an interview with Gang of Thieves

New funky rock n roll coming your way soon

New funky rock n roll coming your way soon

Describe Gang of Thieves for someone who has never heard the band.

Well, we are five young dudes, a dog, and a roadie rampaging around the country together. We’re friendly, we laugh often, love to adventure, and we do dishes in exchange for a couch or floor more often than not.

We like to call ourselves a funky rock and roll band, but we draw influence from a lot of different musical backgrounds, from Rachmaninoff to Rage against the Machine. Our sound is a blast of rock and roll from the 70s and 90s, mixed with funky breakdowns, some reggae grooves, and plenty of guitar solos.

You’re currently working on an album. How is this experience different than other recordings you’ve done?

All of our previous recordings have been produced ourselves, excepting one day of production for Dinosaur Sandwich Party. For the new album, we’ve been in constant contact with our producer Michael Rosen since we first got the confirmation in December. We’ve been Skyping with him from rehearsals, sending him rough mixes of new songs, and just generally getting to know the guy. He’s a pretty awesome dude.
This is also the longest we’re going to have ever spent in the studio recording. Our first two albums we recorded in just a few days, and the same with our EP and the other demos we’ve put out. We’re planning on staying in the studio for two weeks this time, so who knows what kind of crazy sounds we’re going to be making in there!

One more HUGE part of this project is the Kickstarter we have launched to help make this album actually happen! We’ve received an amazing amount of support from our friends and fans and we are still pushing hard to reach our goal to cover the album costs and get it released in a reasonable amount of time. Check out our kickstarter for more info about the new album.

You’ve been known to be on the road nine months out of the year. What’s the best advice you can give about touring?

Make friends with everyone you meet! This is probably the most important thing about touring as an independent band. You never know who’s going to be at your next show; maybe that loud guy at the bar is your next big break! Also, you just might find a place to stay for the night (sometimes they will even make you breakfast in the morning!). We’ve made some of the best friends we have in the world just because we hung out and chatted up a few drunk people after a show. We meet so many wonderful people who open their homes to us when we’re on the road. Without them we’d be sleeping in the van, or wasting money on hotels, so always remember to be respectful to your fans, and hook your buddies up with a CD or T-Shirt!

If you could only have three albums in the tour van, what would you choose? Why?

There no conceivable way we could all agree on only three albums to keep in the van, so we each gave an answer.


The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper
Steel Pulse – Earth Crisis
Pink Floyd – Animals


I would choose AC/DC’s Back in Black, Van Halen’s Greatest Hits, and Queen’s Greatest Hits. Why? Because NOTHING beats good old fashioned rock n’ roll.


Allman Bros Band- Live at the Fillmore East
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the 36 Chambers
Because: guitar solos, the devil, and fresh beats.


Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool
Rage Against the Machine – Renegades
State Radio – Us Against the Crown
I chose these albums because they are my perfect mix of driving music. Rage gets me riled up and excited before a show, State Radio keeps me going after a long day of driving, and Miles is the perfect way to end a night, or mellow into an evening.
And…I love the songs on those three albums so much; I could listen to them forever and never get bored. I feel like I hear something new almost every time I listen to any of them.


AC/DC - Back in Black
Sublime – Sublime
Rage Against the Machine - Evil Empire

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

We’re not sure what you mean. Honestly, none of us has any idea what we would be doing if we weren’t making music.

A funk band first and foremost: an interview with The SideTones

Proof that France has more to offer than wine and cheese

Proof that France has more to offer than wine and cheese

The SideTones is a funk band from Lyon, France. Bassist Jim Taylor discusses the origins of the band, the five albums he would replace first if his music collection were wiped out, and who he’d like to jam with.

You meet someone who finds out you’re in a band. How do you describe The SideTones to that person?

Well, we’re a funk band first and foremost. That said, our style of funk is influenced by everything from hip-hop, psychedelic rock and good pop music in general. We aim to keep that raw analogue sound and groove you find in classic deep funk cuts, but not be too generic or slavish to it either. So yes, soulful pop with a dusty funk drive to it.

What drew you to playing funk?

Well like all musicians we’ve all played in different bands and styles over the years, blues, rock, jazz and reggae especially. This project came out of DJing at parties and switching between contemporary beats and hip-hop to raw and gritty 60s and 70s funk – which always rocks a dance floor. We wanted to try and capture something of that with a twist to it.

If your music collection gets wiped out, what are the first five albums you’d replace? Why?

The Daktaris Soul Explosion – Love the sound and production plus it bridges that gap between old and new.

King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown – Just to take away the pain of loosing all our other albums we’d listen to this and drift away to a happier place.

Quasimoto The Adventures of Lord Quas – We’d have to have some hip hop in there. This album bursts with invention, humor and soulful samples. A hip-hop concept album that never tires.

Sly and the Family Stone There’s a Riot Going On – We’d all differ about which classic funk album to keep but this one gets me every time. A stone cold classic.

Marc Moulin Placebo Years - We’d need a bit of jazz in there. This compilation of Moulin’s work in the late 60s early 70s is years ahead of its time. Its a great combination of haunting melody lines underscored with killer breaks and synth-bass moments.

If you could jam with any artist or band, who would it be? Why?

Well that’s a tough one. As a bass player I’d love to have jammed with Jaco Pastorious before he was in Weather Report and was just playing funk and rock in small Florida bars. I heard a tape of his band jamming covers in some bar and it was insanely funky. Those guys could play like demons so I’d probably just sit back and watch in awe, (or tentatively play the tambourine or something).

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

If we weren’t making it we’d still be listening to it, buying it and playing it out as DJs.

Play like there’s 5,000 people: an interview with Matt Groopie

Check out King Beez and Matt Groopie and The Bandits

Check out King Beez and Matt Groopie and The Bandits

Matt Groopie is a Canadian artist in both King Beez and Matt Groopie and The Bandits. He discusses both bands (click the picture to visit Matt’s site), some tips for touring, and the six albums he would replace first if his music collection were ever wiped out.

You’re in King Beez and Matt Groopie and The Bandits. Tell us about each band.
King Beez is a metal-influenced, mostly instrumental surf-punk band. We have made a self titled full length album as well as an EP entitled Deathproof Vol. 1 which came out last October and is available on iTunes.  We have a new EP coming out at the end of May as well as Deathproof Vol. 2 in September. We have been a band since 2007. We have taken a bit of a break but have the Tour to Conquer Cancer April 19, 20 and 21 in support of our bassists Ride to Conquer cancer. We have lots of dates in June and over the summer all around Ontario and Quebec including festivals in Toronto, Ottawa and Newmarket with more large scale gigs being added daily in support of our upcoming EP. We will hit the road again in October in support of our Deathproof 2 album.
The Bandits are an acoustic country-influenced folk act. Originally we were a full electric band and released an EP and even had a top 20 hit “Wrapped around your finger” in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We are currently working on a new album with the new sound and lineup. We have been playing lots of shows and they’ve been going great and we’ve been getting a fantastic response. We also won a battle of the bands in Newmarket, Ontario a few weeks back. We have some big festival gigs coming up in Schomberg and Richmond Hill as well as club dates all around Canada throughout 2013.
You’ve played more than 2000 shows across Canada. What is the best advice you can give about touring?
The best advice I can give about touring is strategically planning things is important. Also, always make sure your vehicle is working properly before you leave. Another thing to keep in mind is saving money. Bring a cooler and buy groceries as opposed to eating fast food. Another way to save money is having places to stay as opposed to renting a motel. Also, if your gig is more than three hours away, it pays to do more than one gig. Maybe do one on the way, and the way home. Always have backup cash. You never know what’s going to happen out there on the road. Always have someone watching the gear. ALWAYS. Also, touring is tiring so working out a bit plus water and vitamins are important. Most important, always play good and be positive and professional, even if there’s 5 people. Those five people paid to see you. Play like there’s 5000 people. One fan at a time.
What’s your ritual before going on stage?
Before I go on stage I like to get some air and drink a glass of water. Clear my mind and focus 100 percent on my performance and role in the band.
If your music collection gets wiped out, what are the first five albums you replace? Why?
1. Ramones - (self-titled)
They are the best band. Ever. And I learned how to play the guitar playing to this record every day. The Ramones were so pure and exciting. Great riffs and amazing lyrics. Simple, fun and real.
2. Roky Erickson – The Evil One

This album contains some of the greatest guitar riffs ever, as well as some strange lyrics and themes. It’s interesting and entertaining as well as down right scary. A definite nugget worth finding.

3. Flying Burrito Brothers – Anthology

The Burrito Brothers wrote some of the greatest country rock music in history. Featuring some of the greatest harmonies ever recorded, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman came together to create a band that were totally ahead of their time. I also love the pedal steel played by Sneaky Pete. I am a big fan of Gram Parsons, who also shares a birthday with me. Chris Hillman is also an extremely impressive and versatile musician. He was also great in the Byrds.
4. The Clash – London Calling
Joe Strummer’s finest moment. I love Joe. Great drumming from Topper Headon who proves you can play punk and still have good chops. Jonsey and Simo added lots of layers artistically. It’s really just a perfect album. Great lyrics and variety of styles. No fear.
5. The Doors – (self-titled)
The greatest debut record from a band. They were totally ahead of their time and extremely dark for the times. Ray’s organ is very interesting and menacing but at the same time beautiful. Robby Krieger is also awesome. Lots of surf and foreign influences. John Densmore was an underrated and innovative drummer as well. Not a crappy song on the album.
6. BONUS ALBUM (because I said so)
Frank Zappa – Overnight Sensation
Why? Because Frank Zappa was the MAN! A true genius and extremely smart and entertaining.

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

I’m really interested in film and am actually in pre-production for a documentary I’m doing about the Toronto Surf Scene. I run a podcast on indieroundtable.com which is also fun and rewarding as I get to hear lots of great music. I am deeply into environmental and human rights issues and I have a twitter for that at @TomorrowTodayCa . I do a lot of charity events and lately have been working with the Lupus foundation. Also, I always wanted to manage the Toronto Blue Jays.

Follow Matt on Twitter (@mattgroopie)

Shaping the new Celtic rock: an interview with Brian Tracey of The Mickey Finns

"We'll do our best to continue to make music."

“We’ll do our best to continue to make music.”

This interview was originally scheduled for our St. Patrick’s Day issue. Due to the death of singer Ray Kelly, the interview was postponed. Now we are taking a brief hiatus from publishing new issues, and I frankly didn’t want to wait until later this year to publish it because it’s such a good interview. Without any further ado, I give you the interview with Brian Tracey by our our very own Carin Merritt (send or address all kudos to her for this fine interview).

Describe The Mickey Finns in a nutshell.

In a nutshell…well, I guess right now we’re a band that’s missing our friend, singer, and guitarist. We lost Ray Kelly just a couple of months ago and the pain has not really begun to heal yet. It’s gonna take a long time, but we’re happy with the great music and great memories that he left to us. Now before Ray passed away, we were a band that was looking forward to the future. We’ve had a bunch of great reviews for our newest album Prayers and Idle Chatter and were itching to get out on the road to play our songs throughout the country. And while we’re not ready just yet, we still plan on doing that.

What does it mean to you when someone calls you “one of the best Celtic rock bands in the world”?

It’s really a great honor. We grew up listening to what we considered the best Irish music – The Dubliners, The Pogues, The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, The Wolfe Tones. The list could go on for ages. We were lucky to have met and played with most of them at some point and now we’re happy that we’ve had a part in shaping some of the sound of the new Celtic rock. We’re always striving to be the best we can be and hopefully people will like what we’re doing. So far, that’s been the case and we’ve been blessed with that honor.

What are your goals as a group for the year 2013?

Well, the goals for 2013 have changed since the beginning of the year. I guess right now are goals are to continue forward with the band and with the music and to honor Ray Kelly. It’s been tough to bounce back from our loss, but we will do our best to continue to make music. It’s just what we do. We’re planning on having a benefit for Ray’s children soon, so we’re gonna be be concentrating on that. And we’ll have to eventually look for a new singer, which will be very tough. But like I said, making music is what we do best and we need to continue to do it…as hard as it may be sometimes.

Where does the inspiration for your sound and lyrics come from?

Our influences are wide and varied. We have a fair bit of traditional music on our records and in our live shows and that mostly comes from our fiddler, Matt Mancuso, one of the absolute BEST traditional fiddlers on the scene. The rest of the sound is all of us thrown together. We all love Irish ballads and old school outlaw country. I think our sound is a bit of The Pogues, Steve Earle, Kila, Solas, The Dubliners, and Hayes Carll all thrown together.
The lyrics…well, I guess it differs from song to song. It’s a bit of our experiences on the road, in life, and a bit of theft as well! But only a small bit…and only the good parts. And whiskey…a lot of inspiration comes from whiskey!

You are allowed to perform only at one bar in New York for the rest of your career, where will it be and why?

It’s gotta be Paddy Reilly’s. It’s been our home base for years…from our early days in The Prodigals through our whole career as The Mickey Finns. It’s the best place to hear live Irish music and has been for years. Steve Duggan has been a tireless promoter of Irish music and it’s still the best place to play. Plus they serve a mean pint of Guinness!

What is everyone’s drink of choice:

five minutes before going on stage? Shot of whiskey.
to cure a hangover? bloody Mary
to celebrate? Shots and pints all across the board!
to make that cross-eyed, toothless girl that’s been eyeing you all night appear pretty enough to take home? whiskey…and lots of it!
Can you tell we love our whiskey? Half our songs are about it as well!

Tell us one of your favorite stories about Ray.

I’d say this would be the hardest question. Ray has always been a talented carpenter when not making music. Some years back he made a chest for our speaker cables and mics. It was dubbed “the box of death” because it weighed a ton and had sharp little corners that would always cut you. We were playing with The Prodigals at the time and Harrison Ford, yes, THE Harrison Ford, was at our show. And he gave Ray a hand carrying the box of death into the pub. And the two of them had a nice chat about being carpenters (Mr. Ford used to be a carpenter, too). It is such a Ray thing…he could literally talk to anyone about anything. He was the the best frontman in the world, but had zero frontman ego. And it wouldn’t have mattered if it was Harrison Ford or some guy off the street…he treated everyone with respect. But he was pretty chuffed to be hanging out with Harrison Ford! And there are a TON of stories like that.

What is your favorite quote that represents The Mickey Finns?

A quote about us? I have no idea! But a quote that I like…”I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me” from Winston Churchill. Not that we condone drinking…

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

Me personally? I’ve had so many different jobs over the years, but never enjoyed a single one besides being a musician. I did study to be a teacher, so maybe that. Or maybe I’d just be an itinerant. That always seemed like a pretty good way to go about your day! For now, I’m gonna stick with the music.

Incognito pick of the week: LoCura


LoCura is a band from the San Francisco area whose music is heavily influenced by flamenco and Cuban music. The new album Semilla Caminante is available on Tuesday 17 April. If you are looking for something that is way different than most of the stuff you encounter, pick up the new album from LoCura. Also, check out this interview with lead singer Katalina Miletich.