My buddy Alex De Mora alerted me to a fun new blog the other day called THEM THANGS. It's pretty minimal, in the sense that it is just page after page of images, photographs and illustrations that the creator, Justin Blyth, is big into without one scrap of explanation of why. In other words, the person who set this site up has extremely good taste and doesn't need to justify why miscreants such as you and me should look at these images, just simply that they are there if you want to take a gander and, if not, then you know where the "back" button is. I picked out some of the ones from the first page that I particular liked, but there are tonnes more. His choices are pretty macabre, but all are really interesting, and besides - macabre or not - they are only pictures, they can't hurt you, grow up. I'm still making my way through them...
Another especially cool band recommendation from the man like Three Cheers. Sex Beet are super loud, brash and I think I can hear some psychobilly influence in amongst the distortion...always a good sign.
...is pretty boring for the most part...the polar ice caps, carbon emissions, Al Gore, Blah blah blah...ok it's a pretty important subject and I'm not the kind of guy who insists on revving his Hummer in the middle of the city, but the subject brings very little new to the table nowadays...
Jette Gejl Kristensen, Hyperkinetic Kayak
That is other than being a source of inspiration for creative types the world over. This latest exhibition, which will tie into the United Nations Climate Change Conference, is going to tackle the subject in a more interesting way than the latest news of Leonardo Di Caprio's Smart car is taking place in Copenhagen later this month. RETHINK is being used as a way of providing politicians attending the meeting, as well as the general public, with new perspectives on some of the complex human issues stemming from global climate change. Taking a look at some of the pieces and installations makes me think that it could actually be very beneficial, in the sense that they stir up more interest and emotion than your average colourful spider diagram...
After I was alerted that that chopper West had made even more of a disgrace of himself, I searched the internet high and low for this video...OK not exactly high and low but you know, a couple of websites which didn't have it. What a tit...
Ok, I realised recently that this blog is becoming very much a run down of what music I'm into, but I couldn't resist popping this video on. Dominant Legs are getting quite a bit of exposure at the moment, which is so good as they're actually a band that deserve it and I think could even earn a bit of money in the process as the songs they put together have a quite rounded appeal, I think anyway. Their sound is just the catalyst for nostalgia. You know those songs that make you go a little romantic inside, even though they weren't played at any point during the past you are reminded of...basically I'm talking a lot of rubbish now, but I think this music video is one that couldn't be more perfectly suited to the song in question, even though I'm pretty sure the kid hopping over the skipping rope was humming it to his slam dunking buddy at the time...
I went to go see the pioneers of fuzz last night in King's Cross. It was incredible. They are one of those bands that you can't fully appreciate until you seen them live, I don't think, because they are a totally ethereal experience, filled with this intense energy and fun. Anyway, enough from me, this is my favourite video of them playing The Smell's 10th Anniversary - I promise the crowd last night was not so placid!
A friend of mine has a really interesting design blog, which basically consists of fun things to do with design that he has heard about and so insists that you must pay attention too. I do get quite annoyed that the newsletters that he has signed up too are far more interesting than the repetitive nonsense that floods into my inbox like a glitch in the matrix, but it does afford me the luxury of allowing him to salvage the best bits!
Anyway, another friend of mine (yes I have two) got me into lazer cut word designs recently, as he is pretty good at rendering his own personal statements in cardboard...so, when I came across these pieces I was set to enjoy them already. Monsieur Cabinet the floor is yours...
Pure Ecstasy are the blissed out pop project of Texan Nate Grace. Basically, the least pretentious way I could possibly describe his sound is that if a blurred photograph of a forgotten memory made music, this would be it. Combining the shoegazey elements of Further and the heavily distorted vocals of Desolation Wilderness into a snug wrap of thickly stacked sound, Pure Ecstasy are at once a delicate reminder of what getting high used to mean to you and how important Jesus and the Mary Chain continue to be too modern music. I would usually attempt to cut this piece into easy to manageable snippets, but I think the distracted nature of the conversation kinda suits the music in discussion. So here is a chat I had with Nate Grace about road trips, new bands, a sea of blankness and the songs that haunt our minds…
Nate grace: Yo dude
Hey man, you good to chat?
Nate Grace: Yeah
What did you have for lunch?
Nate Grace: I had breakfast at this place by my house, Bouldin creek. You ever been to Austin?
Nah, I wish. One of the ones I need to check off my American city list
Nate Grace: Eh, I dunno if you need a list. NYC, LA…
Been to NYC. what about Portland, San Fran, Reno??
Nate Grace: haha. Yeah, those too and St Paul, that place is awesome
Nate Grace: Minnesota. St Paul/Minneapolis
I'll put that one on there too
Nate Grace: twin cities. Yeah. Totally chill. Good record stores.
Yeah, I'm looking forward doing all the record stores over when I come to the US next year. My friends and I are planning the great American road trip.
Nate Grace: Shit yeah
Cadillac + tape deck = fun
Nate Grace: Hahaha. Cadillac for real?
Haha that’s the dream.
Nate Grace: Damn. That's the way to go in style
We'll probably end up with a FORD MONDEO!
Nate Grace: Hahaha or a Dodge Stealth
THAT would be badass
Nate Grace: HA, until you broke down in nowheresville
With only a squirrel for company
Nate Grace: Shit. A squirrel and about 300 hicks. Do English dudes use that word? "hick"?
The full dream is that we're all getting vintage ray bans, tie dye shirts, biker jackets, cadillac and prestine vans. Its gonna be heavy.
Nate Grace: hahaha
Not really man, we don't use hick but I've seen enough films to know the meaning
Nate Grace: Oh ok, what do you say then?
We tend to call them pikeys or inbreds or Norfolk folk
Nate Grace: HAHAHA - why Norfolk folk?
Because people in Norfolk are fucking backward!
Nate Grace: hmmm, I dunno where that is. I have been to London.
It’s in south east England
Nate Grace: but nowhere else in England. Oh ok
Not so far from London. When did you come to London?
Nate Grace: A few years back. Me and some friends did the euro trip like the american one you want to do. Cruised. Drank. Smashed cash.
It's the only way to do it man.
Nate Grace: yeah
You can't cheap out on a road trip!
Nate Grace: For real. It's hard to anyways.
Right dude, so getting into this - How did Pure Ecstasy form?
Nate Grace: Well, I had songs, and got my friends Jace and Austin to play a show with me, and it worked well. So, then we were a band nothing too exciting.
Oh right, so the song writing is mostly down to you then?
Nate Grace: Yeah, it started as a solo thing. We did a west coast tour in July under my name…well, my name + like 20 diff names.
Why did you use 20 different names?
Nate Grace: Just cuz, we were trying to find a name, but i was booking the tour at the same time. So, I just would try out different names. We were booked under like Nate Grace and Puke Scene, Nate Grace and Zolo Blood, Nate Grace and Whatever The Fuck.
I like the last one best
Nate Grace: Hahaha
This actually ties in quite nicely to my next question. I hate asking bands "How did you come up with your name?", so I thought I would ask you if your name was something that you came up with after you'd made your music, as it is something that I would say completely describes your sound - "Pure ecstasy"
Nate Grace: Yeah. Totally after. Jace and Austin came up with it, actually, while they were on tour with their band. They called me up all late one night and were like "dude we got it."
The epiphany of ecstasy?
Nate Grace: Hahaha. Hey quick question, how does this work exactly? Are you gonna take excerpts from this?
I guess so, I always just see how well the chat goes - I'm not what you would call a "professional"
Nate Grace: professional sucks.
Nate Grace: Just put in the good shit…whatever that ends up being.
So, what would you say are the main influences behind Pure Ecstasy?
Nate Grace: Ha! I knew this one was coming.
Haha, sorry its a fucking cliché, but I like that question sometimes
Nate Grace: Hmmm it's hard for me to say really because we listen to such a wide range of shit. I'd say Darklands by Jesus and Mary Chain, and Fela Kuti, and Townes Van Zandt, and new bands too…my friends bands, Silver Pines, Survive…
I haven't listened to them yet I will have to check them out after we are done
Nate Grace: Yeah, they're rad. Zoned out.
As all good music should be
Nate Grace: Hahaha. Man, see now I feel like I left out like 100 bands
Go on then name 5 more
Nate Grace: Haha…Black Flag…Alton ellis…Jimmy Cliff…Toots…Clash and all new bands
All of them?!
Nate Grace: Haha! Alot of em
Hmmmm, I think there's a lot of tripe though!
Nate Grace: Tripe. I like that. Yeah. A lot of tripe, but i'm not gonna hate. I like the way things are now. I think shit is in a good place, generally.
I do tend to agree - I think that we're in a fairly good place music wise. I think that people are realising the power of pop again - not just shit chart pop - but the ability to write a good pop song and still maintain a certain standard of music.
Nate Grace: Hmmm, I guess it depends on what you consider pop
Do you consider yourself to be pop?
Nate Grace: Yes. My friends seem to think no, but I think yes. I guess i'd say that we are pop but through a filter of all the shit we're into like pop but like ...
Nate Grace: Haha like a popsicle that fell in the dirt…and then some fine girl picks it up…but she's got a herpe's blister
Hahahahaha, that's incredible.
Nate Grace: But she chomps that shit anyways
I think that is going to be the headline of the article
Nate Grace: HAHA. Ok, I'll see if I can give you a couple more.
Nate Grace: i think that alex read a review of our seven daze tape on cassette gods and then he emailed me about doin a tape we had just recorded FUTURE NOSTALGIA and I was planning out putting it out on 7in. Alex said he'd do the tape version. So that was that.
Cool, but you've decided to put Easy out on Light Lodge right?
Nate Grace: Yeah, Light Lodge is a new label. A friend of ours has just started up. Real good dudes. They're going to be putting out our crew of friends mostly…right now anyways.
Amazing, Light Lodge is sort if the perfect label to put your sound out on as well!
Nate Grace: Ha! Yeah I think so too. Their records are gonna look clean too
What with like sharp graphics you mean?
Nate Grace: Yeah. Artwork. Packaging. All that.
I'm just listening to Easy, what is that song about?
Nate Grace: ha! What do you think it's about?
Hmmm I wouldn't like to say
Nate Grace: me either.
Haha best answer…How many gigs have you played with this definite name in place now?
Nate Grace: Shit. Not many, maybe 6? 8?
How does the live thing work now, because you mentioned that you play with your two friends, but then on your myspace it says "+Friends" - is it quite a transitional line up at the moment?
Nate Grace: well i say + friends because I want to tour, but Jace and Austin are in a band already, and our schedules conflict sometimes. Like on that west coast tour my friend Christa played bass, but the recording line up will always be me, Jace and Austin.
What are your favourite sort of shows to play?
Nate Grace: House shows. I don't like venues really. If I could I would never play a venue.
Nate Grace: Because it's hard to get good vibes going. I feel like I'm fighting against like a sea blankness…not a sea, but it's just hard to get things going for real. I'm into music being played like a picture is being painted…like everyone is involved. I can't really get into it unless i feel like people are receptive to it
Yeah, that makes sense.
Nate Grace: i don't think I'm saying really what I'm trying to get at but, basically, house venues are chiller. I like chillness.
I think your music perfectly reflects that. So anyway what records are you getting into at the moment? Or are you about the older stuff currently?
Nate Grace: I like Julian Lynch's record. I want to get the new best coast 7in. I REALLY like this band DROPOUT! That no one has heard of…Oh, I like IRON AGE's new record.
I haven't either...Best Coast are one of the best bands of this year though!
Nate Grace: Yeah dude. She's got her shit on lock.
Right shit question time - What song goes round in your head more than any other/what tune do you find yourself humming throughout your life? You tell me yours, and I'll tell you mine…
Nate Grace: haha! Probably smokey robinson "Way Over There"
See that's a cool one. Mine is, and no I'm not into broadway musicals, Frank Sinatra "New York, New York", but not even the song just the fucking tune over and over and over.
Nate Grace: yeah!
It's my cross to bare dude
Nate Grace: I could get that one stuck
Right man, lastly, what are your plans for the coming year/next few months?
Nate Grace: Shit…write a trillion songs…QUIT MY JOB…tour the earth
When I was 15/16 I had really bad acne. I remember my dad use to tell me it wasn't too bad, and empathise by saying that his was far worse when he was my age...he later told me that my acne was really bad, and that they had just told me those things to help me through the pizza years. I swear I spent half my life looking at my red speckled chin in the mirror willing away my puss-filled friends and pushing and prodding them around gradually making things much worse. I found, though, if you forgot about the fact that you were probably etching scars into the face that you would have to wear for the rest of your days, that the whole thing became quite satisfying and when you did find a spot that yielded you a particularly large load, it kind of made the pain of digging your nails into your skin a worthwhile experience.
However, even with all those years of enjoying watching the yellow mucus fly, I did not enjoy this little film one bit. I'm not a particularly squimish person, but I found myself swallowing down the urge to spew all over my keyboard for almost the entirety of the four and half minutes...though still strangely compelled to keep watching. This is disgusting.
Roaming around Rough Trade East is one of my new most famous things to do. I am always skint, so just holding records and looking around at the excited faces of those who can afford to be in there is about as much as I can get out of the experience, but it feels like so much more. Perhaps I'm just pretending to be hip... Anyway, I came across a thin newspaper of photographs and erotic stories called XI a while ago, and I stupidly forgot to write anything about it, even though it was one of the most beautiful (and sexy) things I've ever seen...
Excerpt from the text:
"XI was the sadist to my masochism. We had g-chatted all day at work, but I had misunderstood his invitation to fuck in the office toilets, and missed my chance. By 6pm, I was all tingly and force-invited myself to his flat, despite his protests about him having band practice. I told him I just needed 45 minutes, to which he replied “only?”. I smiled as we boarded the 55."
It was made and published by a girl called Rasha Kahil, who happens to be a bit of a dab hand with a camera. Her photos remind me a little of people like Ryan McGinley, but more natural and personal (well in my mind anyway, and on here that's all that matters). Her blog is awesome as well. I'm always so jealous of people who are more proactive with their cameras and take them everywhere, as that's when you get the best snaps - when you least expect it. Below are a selection of her photographs that I most enjoyed, but I have to say that there really aren't any bad ones.
There’s a plethora of bedroom projects cropping up nowadays. Kids certainly seem to be putting their private spaces to much better use than I ever did, turning their back on the N64 and turning off the idiot box. One such chap is Tim Perry, whose musical alias Weed Diamond is churning out a enough tormented pop and doo wop to separate him from the Garage Band copy cats who claim they’ve always listened to Barbara Alston and that Phil Spector has always been their idol. The sincerity of the vocals on Weed Diamond’s records penetrates the fuzz that makes them all but inaudible, making the high pitched sound of Tim’s voice, as with all great pop songs, just another layer of sound in the music. Stand out track, “Nothing To Write Home About”, from his free demo sounds like Woods singing at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance and fills every inch of the 3 minutes 41 seconds (the longest track on the demo by far) it’s given to grow with pained harmonies and slow strummed guitars. I got to have a chat with Tim the other day to get a run down on how the project developed and which is his favourite Raekwon record…
So, Weed Diamond is a solo project right? How did you go about making those first songs?
Weed Diamond: Yeah, weed diamond is just me right now. I'm looking for a few other people to help out with shows and stuff though. I don't really know what those songs came out of. i wrote and recorded them over the course of a few days a couple months ago and let them sit for a while and finally i showed them to one of my friends and he told me i should put it out there. It was just one of those weird creative bursts.
How long have you been playing music? Is this your first musical venture?
I've been playing guitar since I was 13 (I'm 21 now) so I've been doing music for a while. i grew up in a really musical family and for a while i hated the idea of making music, but as I've gotten older its become a larger part of me. no this isn't me first music project or anything. I've been in a few bands over the last few years but all of them have either gone by the wayside or things just fell through.
Cool, and what spurred you on to make music as Weed Diamond?
I think it was mainly me getting back to the basics, musically. things were getting too cluttered in my arrangements. too much going on and no direction. i wasn't having fun with music anymore. i took a break on writing for a while and when i finally sat down to play guitar i ended up writing "mr. vacant stare" and a few days later I had 6 songs recorded.
What was your main thinking behind that song?
I wrote that about this "summer romance" i had last year and about how it ended badly, blah blah blah. i think a lot of people think its just about being high but in reality its a totally different subject.
Your name does tend to portray you in a certain way!
Yeah haha. that never really even occurred to me until I started getting feedback from people.
What is the reason behind the name?
I don't really think there is a specific reason. i liked how it sounded and i think it can mean different things to people or evoke certain imagery. i like names like that. I also didn't want to put a lot of meaning behind the name because i don't want my band name to be attached to a fleeting memory, you know?
Yeah sure, I guess that focusing on something abstract means that no meaning of it is lost as time goes by I guess - that what you were getting at?
What are the main influences would you say on Weed Diamond?
I'd say Denver is a big influence. Just everything about my experience here. Musically, I don't really know. I actually haven't been listening to much music lately besides Raekwon and The Who haha.
Which Raekwon album have you been listening too?!
I've been listening to "only built..." a lot lately. that's the only album i have from him, but it's a classic.
That album is my favourite hip hop album of all time! I wrote a blog on it a while ago, as the office that I was working in started playing it everyday and rekindled my love - so sick.
I know, verbal intercourse is like the best song i've heard in my entire life.
All about incarcerated Scarfaces my friend! And guillotine swords
Its like a beatles album. every songs a classic.
Too true. I'm just listening to your demo now and I've noticed that the songs are really short and sharp hits. Do you think that your sound is pop? How would you describe it?
I think I would describe it as pop. When people ask me what type of music I make I just say "rock n roll." I think its the easiest way to describe it before you get into all those sub genres and stuff.
cool, it's weird because as the demo tape plays through you can hear so many types of music on it I find - like the last track "Stevie Wonder is Tooo High" almost feels quite proggy, like a solo in the middle of a cloud of reverb…but then I guess it finishes a lot more quickly than most prog songs!
Yeah, that song I actually used a keyboard and it has a really simple repetitive beat. I battled for a while about whether or not to include that song on the demo but I think its a good closer to the whole thing. It does have a proggy feel though.
So, you've got a 7" coming out on Transparent, right? How did that come about?
Yeah! They were the first people to contact me after I made the myspace for weed diamond. They really liked "let's burn one down" and a few days later or something they asked if I would want to put out a single this coming winter.
Have you played many live shows yet?
I actually haven't played any with Weed Diamond yet. I'm trying to set something up for the end of the month with my friend's band "Last Eyes." probably a wacky house show or something.
How would your recorded work translate to live, do you think? Would you get other people to play the different parts of the song?
Yeah, I'm hoping I can get a few buddies together and we can practice like 5 or 6 songs and try to work out a coherent set.
What do you tend to make your recordings on?
I usually use Logic to record all the instruments, but I did a cover of the bee gee's "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man" with a 4 track recorder. I'm pretty inexperienced with recording software so I'm still in the learning process.
With the whole LO-FI revivalist movement happening in seemingly every big town - lots of people seem to be jumping on the band wagon and recording with GarageBand - what are your views on GB?
I think garage band is great. I've never really used it but almost all of my friends use that because it’s easy, and free. But since anyone can use it, that definitely opens up the possibilities of their being a lot of half assed, processed music there.
I ask only because some people have expressed their hatred with the thing. It just seems like Wavves started a bit of a revolution with it, leading to loads of copy cats…What bands that around at the moment do you enjoy listening too?
I've been listening to Cameron Wisch's "Flower wars" a lot. Railcars new "Cathedral With No Eyes" is fucking phenomenal. Came out of no where for me. I've actually been pretty keen on a lot of some local kids around here, too.
Last Eyes is really great. Like heartbreaking noisy guitar stuff. One big Denver guy is Pictureplane and his new album is really awesome. Pina Chulada is incredible. Their song "What You Mean" is in my head every time I wake up. This kid Colin has this project called alphabets and its fucking prolific. He's only 19 and he's made like 900 songs.
Yeah, he's a prodigy.
What do you want to do next with this project?
I'm concentrating more on the mix of the recordings with my first release that I'm putting out. I don't want all the instruments to get lost in it and have it just turn out to sound like some fuzzy mush, and I'm in the planning stages of setting up shows and maybe do a mini tour.