EPISODE 39: Interview with Damien Jurado / Hospitality - Trouble

EPISODE 39: Interview with Damien Jurado / Hospitality - Trouble

This week Andre and Kevin hang around Maraqopa a little longer to sit down with Damien Jurado before his show in DC to talk about the cosmic themes of his new album Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son, Wim Wenders, sax solos and so much more. PLUS! Kevin and Paul review the new and excellent album from HOSPITALITY!

INTERVIEW: Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak

INTERVIEW: Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak

Widowspeak dove deep into a murky landscape and emerged with six hauntingly beautiful songs that comprise their forthcoming EP, The Swamps. The new release serves as the bridge between Almanac, the band's second record, and their "to be recorded" third album.  

We spoke with Widowspeak guitarist Robert Earl Thomas as the band drove through the southwest for a tour stop in Phoenix, AZ. Rob gave us the full scoop on The Swamps, discussed its role in Widowspeak's discography, and detailed the songwriting process between with frontwoman Molly Hamilton.

INTERVIEW: Christian Mazzalai of Phoenix

INTERVIEW: Christian Mazzalai of Phoenix

By now, Phoenix are practically a household name. With the release of their fourth studio album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix in 2009, the French indie rockers' popularity exploded. The band's success continued to skyrocket as they toured in support of the critically-acclaimed release, earning coveted festival slots, late-night talk show appearances, commercial media placements, and a huge, dedicated fanbase. Fast-foward to 2013 and Phoenix are just as astronomical, headlining festivals worldwide and topping international music charts with their newest album Bankrupt!

We chatted with Phoenix guitarist Christian Mazzalai earlier this month while the band was en route from Denver to San Francisco for Outside Lands. Mazzalai opened up about Phoenix's progression to superstardom, the evolution of their live show, sharing the stage with R. Kelly, and more. _____________________________________________________________________________________

Christian Mazzalai at Sweetlife 2013. Photo by Joy Asico.

ChunkyGlasses: You guys have played multiple big-scale festivals in the past few years, with Outside Lands on the schedule for this weekend. Do you have a favorite festival?

Christian Mazzalai: Yeah, we have many favorites. We love Summer Sonic in Japan, we love Chicago[‘s] Lollapalooza. Coachella, Outside Lands. There are many French ones we love. Yeah, there are many festivals we love. 

CG: What makes a festival special to you? What makes it memorable?

CM: We love a festival when it’s the center of the city – that’s a fact that we love. We love that because you’re in the heart of the culture of the city. You can feel it, you know? That’s a good feeling. 

CGI read that when making an album, you guys prefer to use the first take of a song. Does that anyhow translate to when you play live? Does it take pressure off playing live, knowing that your best work tends to come from the first take? 

CM: To play live is the opposite of recording an album. When you record an album, it’s in your brain and you’re composing it yourself, and it’s hard to surprise yourself. It’s fantastic and it’s very hard at the same time. When we play live, it’s more of a reward, you know? You’re more physically tired, but it’s all about pleasure and you share. It’s totally different [but] we love both situations. 

CG: Can you walk us through the progression of Phoenix starting off as a garage band to being a mega pop and rock band selling out huge amphitheaters

CM: It was very slowly. That’s what makes it very great. It’s very important for us that we did [progress slowly]. The danger when you are a success is that you don’t control anymore what you want to do. Especially for us, it always would be like that – always has been like that - to do our own music the way we want. Not to try to please anybody, just the four of us. So our music could be pure and without any compromises, you know? So we played very first when we were in Versailles, when we were teenagers, and we played just for us because there were no venues there. So we just played in our garage where we were starting our album. But progressively we played small and little theaters, and then big theater, and then bigger, bigger, and bigger. But very slowly we could see the progression and we could enjoy every little step during the last ten years – well, more than ten years now. 

INTERVIEW: Roadkill Ghost Choir

Deland, Florida's Roadkill Ghost Choir released their excellent debut EP Quiet Light EP a couple of weeks ago and are now taking the show on the road, thrilling fans of alt-country and indie rock alike wherever they go. Last Sunday the band stopped in Charlottesville for a two night stand, and we made the trip down to check out the show and chat with them for a bit about their past, their future, and all the wormholes along the way. 

You can, and SHOULD see Roadkill Ghost Choir play TONIGHT (10/12) at the Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge in Annapolis, MD, but if you don't want to take our word for it, read on below and be convinced!

AS: Andrew Shepard (Vocals, guitar); ZS: Zach Shepard (Bass); MS: Maxx Shepard (Drums); KM: Kiffy Myers (Pedal steel, banjo); SG: Stephen Garza (Guitar, space whale rider); JD: Joey Davoli (keys, trumpet); CG: Chunkyglasses

CG: When I first heard your band name, Roadkill Ghost Choir, it sounded like a great name for a sweet comic book supergroup. So, if you were to write a graphic novel about your band, what do each of you bring to the table in terms of the band?

JD: (laughs) I like that there’s the three brothers, Andrew, Zach, and Maxx in the core of the group, because how can you have a tighter connection musically, and then we kind of fill in stuff around the outsides.

CG: The group kind of started with the three brothers? Can you give a little backstory?

AS: I think it was towards the end of 2010 I started writing a lot of music, and I got a show offer on New Years Eve to play an acoustic set by myself and just the thought of me doing that, it was a terrifying one, but I also thought it would be really boring for people watching it. So I was like I don't want to do this by myself because I've got people around me that can play with me for this one show at least and see how things go. Around that same time we met Kiffy, and found out he plays petal steel, which was crazy because as I was writing the music I had a lot of pedal steel in mind in the songs, so when we met him and found out he played pedal steel it was crazy because it was all in that same period of time. So, I asked him if he wanted to play and he said yes and then I got Maxx and Zach to jump on as well and that was kind of the start of it where they learned the songs and then it branched out from there.

CG: So, it kind of started with a gig and then you needed to assemble a crew to do it?

AS: Ya, and then it just kept going from there

JD: That Christmas Present demo you did was like one of the first things you did.

CG: You had recorded a demo by yourself at that point?

AS: Ya, just acoustic stuff, it was a Christmas present for my dad because he knew the songs I was playing but they weren't available on a cd that he could pop in the car or something and that was all he really wanted so I did that for him and so that was kind of where it all started, those songs on the demo were the starting points.

CG: So the songs that were then developed for the first full band EP Quiet Light, what was the process for writing those?

AS: I started the songs just on acoustic guitar usually, and wrote out a rough arrangement and then we will all came together and from there it gets arranged even more, because I have a tendency to make songs really long, like add too many parts and it gets too bloated...

CG: ...and then all of a sudden you are a Yes cover band.

AS: (laughs) exactly, so we all come together and trim stuff down and they all add their parts so it is a pretty free process of collaboration.

CG: Were there any songs that took a really different direction when you brought them to the group than what you might have originally expected?

JD: Well, I think our overall sound is like that which is cool, in terms of what we all play and bring too it from these different backgrounds and the way it all melds together.

AS: Like the song “Drifter”, I wrote that song around when we were in the studio, and so that was built pretty much in the studio, I didn't really know where that song was going, I had a rough idea, but that one came alive in that situation where I didn't know what was going to happen with this song, and at the end it is probably one of my favorite songs we've done so far, it was kind of spur of the moment, like hey lets try this and this.

KM: And the guy who produced it, Dave Planken, he had a lot of cool ideas about how to make things a bit more different than how I would have played on stuff, which helped make it sound better overall.