One of the things I really enjoy about this topic is getting to share bands/artists that you wouldn’t normally expect. A few weeks ago I was at a show and I saw someone that was quite intriguing. It was more than just seeing a band. There was a theatrical aspect to the show without being over the top and campy. An element of surprise and mystique made this performance all the more interesting. With this in mind let me introduce you to EM The Master. Her music is a mix of alternative rock, pop, classical and a tinge of dance. On her debut EP, What I Want To Say To You, it tells the story of her feelings of being a rape survivor. The full length follow up REBORN, chronicled her healing. EM’s ability to channel that experience into songs that give power, hope and strength to other survivors shows her brutally honest approach to her music. The performance aspect of what accompanies the songs makes it all come to life. That’s when you need to go see this all come together. The way EM works the room accentuating certain lyrics and at those moments in the song is pretty damn awesome to watch happen. EM The Master currently holds residencies at historic Harvelles Blues Club in LA, speakeasy The Red Door of Toluca Lake, and The End of South Bay as well as other venues across Los Angeles (FRIDAY APRIL 1 at The Federal in North Hollywood).
Oh boy!!! This is exciting!! A few years back I heard about the band Godmother in an interview with Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan. Basically he was raving about them and how they were the next in line. Fast forward a few months later, I finally got to see Godmother live when they made a stop in LA with Cult Leader at The Satellite/Spaceland (R.I.P.). What a show it was. They were amazing live and it was honestly one of the most fun I had at a show in a long time. There was even an impromptu limbo contest mid set on the floor of the venue. Anyways, Godmother are badass and heavy as all hell. I’ve been waiting a hell of a long time for some new jams from them and today that happened in the form of the song “Teething” from their upcoming EP, Obeveklig (Out May 6)! This track is a blistering minute and a half of heavy! ENJOY!
Ever since the news broke that Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters died I’ve gone back through their catalog and marveled at some of the songs that Taylor played on. He was an absolute beast on the drums. There are certain songs I heard during this delve that hit me in different ways. One song that really got me (and is actually a top 5 favorite Foo’s song) is “Come Back” the last song on their great album, One By One. This track is epic, heavy, melodic, dynamic in all the right places and the one thing that really sells it is the drum performance by Taylor. He really nailed this one. If I had to pick a Foo’s song that shows off his dynamic range as a player and power I’d go for this one instantly. It’s so damn good I can’t get enough of listening to it. Interestingly this song was only ever played live once in 2002. Taylor Hawkins you will be missed greatly. The couple times I met him he was a super nice guy and took time to chat for a few minutes.
Very recently The Smashing Pumpkins song “Disarm” celebrated 28 years since its release as a single. To this day, that song still gives me goosebumps. It’s such a poignant song and one of those that will absolutely stand the test of time. This performance of “Disarm” is quite different than the one you find on the masterpiece that is Siamese Dream. Just watch and listen!!
The Smashing Pumpkins- Disarm (Live at the 1994 MTV VMA’s):
The other day I was watching an interview with 3/4 of White Zombie as they were talking about the 30th anniversary of the album, La Sexorcisto Devil Music Vol 1. It’s quite a good interview with really good stories about the making of the album and the early years of the band before their eventual breakup. The moment the interview was over, I put on La Sexorcisto and it took me back to when I first heard it when I was a kid. The songs are still kick ass, the production on it is crisp and punchy and the album still holds up great! Of course everyone knows the song “Thunder Kiss 65” but the real gems on this album are the deep cuts. My favorite of those deep cuts happens to be the last song on the album “Warp Asylum.” I love this song. It’s got all the right groove and is the perfect ending to this great album! Now how about a damn White Zombie Reunion Already!!!
This week has had a good amount of new tunes/videos for you to all enjoy. I’ve got new music from Crosses (2 new songs!!!), Exodus, Onelinedrawing (first new music in 20 years), Decapitated, The Armed (LIVE), Cycotic Youth, Jerry Cantrell, Alphamega, and the mighty Cave In!!!
Today is the incomparable William Patrick Corgan’s birthday. I thought that I’d share an alternate version of one of my favorite SP songs from a very underrated album. The song is “Being Beige” from the wonderful album, Monuments To An Elegy. If you haven’t listened to this record, I highly suggest you do. It’s truly one of those albums in a catalog that gets looked over but shouldn’t. It’s got some very classic sounding Pumpkins songs on it and then some. Tommy Lee also played the drums on the whole album and absolutely knocked it out of the park! This song just resonates with me so well. If you know me and know what the past couple years have been like, you know this song fits!
A couple weeks back I got an email about an artist that really peaked my interest. His music wasn’t my usual that I gravitate to. Instead this was more classical piano based and it intrigued me enough to want to know more. So, I put together some questions and here we go. Allow me to introduce you to Grant Webb aka Oligarchy Withers.
1. What was the first band or song that your heard that made you a music fan? Fur Elise, by Beethoven. I was around 7 years old or so and when I heard it on my old Casio keyboard I didn’t stop listening until I could play it. Which ties into question #2…
2. What was it about piano and Fur Elise that compelled you to learn it?
In a theory sense; it was the discordant Eb resolving into that beautiful A harmonic minor that pulled me into the song. On a more human level I relate more to the melancholy songs much more than any others, and most of the music I think I was exposed to at the time sounded far too “happy” to me. So this was one of the first tastes of minor tonality for me. I think I was naturally inclined towards piano because of the natural beauty of the instrument. And the fact that you can accompany yourself makes it a very good canvas for songwriting or pushing your own limits.
3. What was the it that drove you toward guitar?
While piano was the eclectic and sophisticated side of my musicality, the guitar allowed me to express myself in different ways. Especially when combined with the right people in a rock band, there were times I’d feel elevated to levels I didn’t know existed during a great show. Being able to move around and swing the guitar gives you more freedom, and being able to bend notes and choose where you want to play certain ones gives you more options.
4. What was the music scene like in Idaho?
Well…my first two shows were at a rented out Senior Citizens Center and a rented out American Legion. That might give you some perspective as to the level of professionalism my bands and I were dealing with. As I got more experienced I did get to open for some established acts like Motionless In White. Of Machines, and Burden of a Day, which was always surprising being a state with less than a million people total.
5. What was your first band and that experience?
I think my first band was called Shiver Me Timbers and was some sort of terrible attempt at All That Remains-esque metalcore. Also, I still had short hair so my band abilities were still in their infancy.
6. What did you study at MI? Why did you choose there to go?
At MI I studied guitar, and was exposed to some truly amazing players. Both the staff and some of my peers were probably some of the best in the world. Combined with me being 19 years old, fresh from a rural town, and thrown headfirst into Hollywood, I had quite the culture shock. And it was also the first place that really felt like I belonged. My choice to go there was simple; it was how I would get to the next level of bands.
7. What was your first impressions of LA?
L.A. remains my favorite place I’ve ever been. Though I moved to Portland a couple years back I miss it dearly and would love to go back. I felt like the city changed a lot in the 10 years I spent in Hollywood but when I first arrived it was a musician’s paradise. All of the sudden clothes people in Idaho thought I was weird to wear became cool, people would ask me about my tattoos on a daily basis, and everyone wanted to be my friend.
8. What was the first show you went to out here and where?
I don’t think I went to a show in L.A. before I was actually playing them. But the first I recall seeing was probably Animals As Leaders doing a live performance at MI. I don’t typically enjoy going to shows that I am not performing at, always feels like I’m scoping out the competition or too in my own head to really enjoy the music. I’m definitely the sullen looking dude in the back with the arms crossed looking brooding. Of course if I’m a huge fan of the band or they are friends then usually it’s easier to have a good time.
9. Where was the first gig you played in LA?
My first gig in LaLa land was at Club Moscow, the same place they host Bar Sinister around Hollywood and Cahuenga. I was in this electro-pop rock band and learned how to play more reserved and with less distortion when necessary.
10. How did you get the stitched up heart gig? What was the best part of that experience? What made you want to go out in your own?
One of the drummers I had in a previous band; Decker, knew I was hungry for something at a higher level. I think I had just quit one of our bands and he was a hired gun so he wasn’t really invested in that project, but he was about to start playing for Stitched and knew they needed a guitarist. He asked me if I’d be interested and I was. Anything to get back to shredding and playing bigger shows. I remember meeting Mixi the day I auditioned at a bar on the boulevard around 2 or 3pm. I picked her up and we drove down to El Segundo, stopping for beer and McDonald’s and then playing well into the night. Afterwards me and her went to the beach and looked for UFO’s for a while. Definitely a memorable audition. I think they offered me the gig either that night or within a couple days.
To this day I consider those cats, brothers & sisters. We went through hell together through 30 states doing it completely ourselves. Even with a booking agent we would be on the phone calling venues while driving from city to city getting the damn gigs ourselves, and sleeping primarily with whatever good samaritans we found at the show at a given night. Doing that for months at a time, for several years, out on the road probably 30% of the time, in a van really bonds you to people in a crazy way. And it also gets really hard. There are many factors that went into my decision to leave, but the main one is that I wasn’t feeling artistically fulfilled anymore. At the end of the day if I am not feeling inspired then I am going to eventually leave and try to figure out where that inspiration is. A trait that causes me a lot of hardship sometimes, but I think it will lead me where I need to be.
11. Why this style of music to debut as your solo material? What is it about this style that drives you?
Hard question. I’d say it’s primarily rock with some ambience and pop sensibilities. But honestly, everyone will interpret that statement their own way so I always say just go listen to it and decide yourself.
12. What do you want listeners to get from these songs?
I always think the main purpose of art is to help people. It’s a way to express emotion and soul in a tangible way and I’d like to help as many people as possible on as big of a scale as I can.
13. What does the future look like for Grant Webb?
I wish I knew the answer to that one sometimes. But then I guess it wouldn’t be much of an adventure if I did. One thing is for sure I’ll always be playing music and pushing the envelope of what I can do with my art.
The 1980’s punk scene was explosive. During this time you had bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies and many more raging harder than their predecessors. At the time, Los Angeles was known more for the likes of Motley Crue and Ratt than the punk bands. It was this very thing that two brothers from the Venice area began to really take note of the scene and created their own band. Cycotic Youth was formed and, joined the Venice/Dogtown/Santa Monica legion of groups like Suicidal Tendencies, Excel, and No Mercy. The young outfit released demos in 1985, 1986, and 1987, bringing forth a sound that showcased elements of hardcore, raw punk, and thrash metal. In 1988, Cycotic Youth broke up but, not before sharing the stage with the likes of King Diamond, Cryptic Slaughter, and Death Angel along the way. 2011 saw the release of a self-titled compilation that collected the band’s demos. And now in 2022, Cycotic Youth is back with a new single and album on the way. “Cycofied” the new single is a rip roaring heavy track. Singer Jason Brown had this to say about the song “The song is about growing up in Dogtown and ‘Cycofied’ means just you know going hard whether it’s skateboarding BMX motocross surfing it’s a R word that we used to say back in the days. We’re really excited to put out our single because it’s about our boy, [Z-Boy legend] Jay Adams, passed away a few years ago and he was a big driving force behind surfing and skateboarding in our area.”
Joy Division are one of those bands with such a short history but with a legacy and impact that has truly become legendary. Each time I go and listen to this band, I’m always pulled in and find myself becoming more and more intrigued by little nuances and other parts of songs. This captivation has led to countless conversations with others about all sorts of subjects on the band. One of the things I love to discuss with people is the first songs on Unknown Pleasures and Closer and which one is more impactful. To me it has to be “Disorder.” The lyrics of this track are quite introspective and poetic. The music sets a tone for the darkness and yet at moments shines a light in opportune moments throughout.