Big ups to Adam Taylor for taking out some time to sit down with MWL for an Interview about the Napa wine country, the addition of Micah Brown, and his crucial advise to new bands looking to tour.
Big ups to Adam Taylor for taking out some time to sit down with MWL for an Interview about the Napa wine country, the addition of Micah Brown, and his crucial advise to new bands looking to tour.
“We’ll live forever, we’ll come together.”
Florida alt rock band Anberlin has seen more success in the past 12 years than most artists ever get to see in a lifetime. Within their first year as a band, they signed to Tooth and Nail Records, have claimed top spots on the Billboard charts, and have toured around the world to perform for thousands of fans they’ve accumulated along the way. Stephen Christian (vocals), Joseph Mulligan (guitar), Christian McAlhaney (guitar), Deon Rexroat (bass), and Nathan Young (drums) are currently on their farewell tour, bringing their successful career to close.
The last leg of the band’s farewell tour has only just begun, with San Diego being on ly the 2nd stop of a line of shows that will ultimately end with the band’s career. Before the show, I got to sit down with guitarist and songwriter Joseph Mulligan to discuss the band’s 12 successful years. Check out the interview here.
The band’s last show in San Diego stretched out for almost 2 hours, fitting in more than 20 songs from the bands entire history. (Except for Lowdown, which remained absent) Stephen leads the charge, for the first third of the show, he is never confined to a spot on the stage for more than a few seconds. For a bit, he finally stands center stage and sings through fan favorites such as the Unwinding Cable Car and Art of War with the grandest of gestures. His voice is strong and emotive, a unique standout among many of today’s artists. Mulligan is a true artist with a guitar, perfectly playing through solo’s while simultaneously remaining a showman. The rest of the band moves around the stage, keeping a strong connection with the audience and maintaining a high energy throughout the show.
The night was filled with screams from the audience, fans who were physically overcome with emotion, and crowd surfers who would get the opportunity to give Stephen a high five if they managed to make it to the front. The main set ended with Feel Good Drag, the single from Cities that propelled them into success. Anberlin returned for the encore in what could have been the best choice to finish their time in San Diego. Fin, from their Cities album, is not only my personal favorite tune from the band, but one of the most beautiful songs these ears have ever heard. Near the end of the song, which on the record involves a beautiful choir singing, (big shoes that the crowd stepped into), Stephen holds his hand up, fingers crossed, belting out the chorus of “Harbinger,” the last song of their last record.
“We’ll live forever, we’ll come together.”
Their tour lasts until November where they’ll perform their last show in Orlando. This is the LAST chance to see them, so make sure you catch their show.
I got the opportunity to sit down with Anberlin guitarist, Joseph Mulligan, before their very last show in San Diego to discuss their 12 year career and their final tour and album.
Your Farewell Tour has taken recently taken you from Brazil and Australia, to Singapore and the Philippines. And now youre on your way through here. Is everything sinking in?
Joey: Not yet. The closer we get to the end I think its gonna really start getting clear whats happening. But right now, we’re just getting started on this leg of the tour so its not something different in anyway.
It still feels like a normal tour?
How have the people in the countries been taking it?
Great. <pause> Well I mean “great” in that they’ve been great. But you know, when we did our farewell shows in England and Scotland, people were crying in the front rows. Same with Brazil, same with Australia. People are making these crazy signs. So many people bringing us gifts and we get to hear some crazy stories. Its been really cool. The appreciation that’s everyone has been showing.
Are you approaching these shows like it’s the farewell tour or are you just coming into it like another Anberlin show?
We want to listen to fans and get everyone’s opinion on what they want to hear and trying to cover all the bases with the set. But its impossible to cover 7 albums into a 2 hour set. Everyone’s going to want something different or more but we try our best.
Was there any reason why you released your album on Tooth and Nail?
We originally decided that we were going to release it on our own. We were just going to put it on our website and have fans come and do what they would. But the only reason we went with Tooth and Nail is because of Brandon (Ebel), the President there, and the relationship we’ve had with them over the years. If it wasn’t Tooth and Nail, we wouldn’t have put it out on a record label because theyre more like family than anything. It was really exciting going into it. Brandon was really excited about it which made us really excited about it. It was easy.
With writing the album, did you guys go into it and approach it like a swan song or was it similar to the approach of the other 6 albums.
No, it was different for sure. We looked at it as it was going to be the last thing that people hear of us recorded. More so than any other record as well, it was a conglomerate of everyone’s ideas thrown in. Where in the past it would usually lean one way or the other, or it was typically me and Christian writing the music and Nate contributed a bit to Vital and even more so to his record so it was a different approach completely. Everyone throwing around ideas and everyone adding and subtracting. With the 10 songs that we did, those were going to be the only 10 songs. We weren’t going to do any extra stuff or bonus material or whatever. It’s 10 songs and that’s it.
Was there a track that stood out as most sincere or just something that felt closest to you?
We were pretty pumped on “Harbinger” being the last song. Lyrically it just felt right. Mood wise, it was a cool approach. It could have gone 1 of 2 ways. We could have done some big epic long thing that we normally do but it just felt better doing something more natural than something more deliberate. The track listing didn’t really come together. We didn’t know what went where but we just kind of felt it out.
You probably get this a lot, but 7 albums, 12 years, why now?
Its been 13 or 14 years for Nate, 8 years for Christian, but for me Dion and Stephen, its been 18 years playing together and 12 obviously as Anberlin. Its more like we accomplished everything we ever set out to do and got every opportunity we could ever wish for. We’ve done everything we wanted and why let it go on until people aren’t happy and are resenting each other and dragging the band into the dirt when we can go our separate ways and do all these other plans that we all have and still loving each other and still be happy being in a band and not mess it up. The timing just felt right for us.
So y’all still like each other.
Yeah we love each other. You would never assume that there was anything like that going on if you were to just walk on the bus. We’re all joking with each other, hanging out all the time, talking with each other on the phone at home, texting each other constantly. You would never think that there was any issue or anything.
For future artists, or bands that are just starting up, what advice would give to them to stay a band? There are marriages that don’t last that long and that’s 2 people. How do you make it work for 5?
It’s a pretty delicate balance. We’ve all known each other since high school so it was more like family than anything. If you can get into that dynamic where you know what buttons to push, what buttons not to push, how to handle each other like family as opposed to just dudes in a band, I think your longevity will be better for it. But I think the main thing that I’ve seen with younger bands is that the first big issue that pops up in their career, and they’re just “alright, we’re done.” If we had done that, we would have been around a couple years and then been done. We powered through everything with talking to each other, working stuff out and any obstacle that came in front of us we knew we would have to go around it, go over it, or go through it, whatever we need to do. It would be us doing it so it would be fine.
When I’ve talk to people, and the topic of influential artists whose music has affected their personal lives, Anberlin tends to pop up a bit more than others. Many people I know, in fact, have said that your music has changed them, gotten through hard times… I couldn’t imagine producing something that influences so many strangers around the world. How does that make you feel knowing that you have?
It’s humbling. You for sure don’t have that in mind when making a record or writing a song or anything. It’s the greatest thing in the world hearing something like that from someone. And like I said, its very humbling. It makes you feel like, “man I guess we did that right.” If one person in the entire world connects with what we’re doing then we did what we were supposed to do. But we’ve heard a lot of stories, and a lot of bands who have said things like that and it blows my mind every time. I still don’t know how to respond to it without being awkward. Its like… “Cool…. I don’t… Thank you? Thank you.” I mean it means the world but I don’t know how to communicate that because I don’t know this person.
This last tour, last album, you’re trying to get your fans involved as much as possible. Can you explain what you’ve been doing?
We’ve definitely tailored that show to that area. Individualized posters, individualized shirts, hanging out after the show and trying to speak with everyone that’s still there and really not taking any second of it for granted…
(At this point singer Stephen Christian gallops in the room) Sorry SORRY! Didn’t mean to interrupt!
<laughs>…And we try to stay in that moment of ‘this is happening, I need to take it in.’ We’re trying to get a feel for what people are saying online and what people thought about shows. Its makes a big difference to listen to people and individual crowds.
And I can’t get away from asking this, but whats next?
Oh man, youre going to get a lot of different answers. I know Stephen is continuing song writing with Anchor and Braille. Im going to be producing and recording bands full time which I’ve been doing recently. Nathan and his brother in law are starting their own company. A coffee company. I’m sure he is going to remain in music in some shape or form. And I think Christian and Deon are going to have a new band that they are going to be playing together in.
Anything you’d like to add?
Once we’re gone, don’t stop listening.
The music gets a little bit louder in our fair city as the 7th Annual San Diego Music Thing takes place this Friday and Saturday.
People from all around, from students to professionals, will converge onto the Town and Country Resort Hotel for 2 days of workshops, interviews, panels and discussions, on everything related to the music industry. Confirmed speakers include T.S.O.L. frontman Jack Grisham and songwriter/producer Swamp Dogg along with this year’s featured speaker, Moby, whose worldwide influence in dance music helped bring it to mainstream in the UK and US.
Throughout the city, select venues will also be participating with performances from local to international artists. Previous artists have included Unwritten Law, The Album Leaf, The Stone Foxes, and The Silent Comedy. This year evening shows will include performances by acclaimed artists Barcelona, Liars, Meg Myers and more! Check out the full list of artists here.
Can it get any better? Of course it can!
All of the proceeds of the two day event will go straight to the San Diego Music Foundation, a non profit that aims to develop music programs throughout San Diego County. Originally known as “Guitars for Schools,” the program has, over the years, teamed up with Taylor Guitars to offset the loss of art programs from budget cuts and bring music to over 45,000 K-12 students.
Considered by MTV as one of the “most critically overlooked bands,” Night Riots are making their ways onto many people’s radar. I got to chat with vocalist Travis Hawley and guitarist Nick Fotinakes about touring, their latest music video and what the future holds for the Central California boys.
Night Riots have had an incredibly busy year, and their hard work is paying off. With a set on SXSW, a show opening for Saosin at the Fox Theatre, and a new music video on MTV, it seems the guys are picking up fans with every move they make. However, anyone who has glanced at their Facebook page could tell that they seem to always be on the move, stopping only briefly at their home town of Templeton, before they hit the road again. While it could be emotionally and physically draining for many, the guys seem to feel differently.
“For me at least when we go home its always a bit more awkward, cuz we have to reintegrate into home life,” Hawley explains. Fontinakes adds, “Alot of us are like that. We tend to prefer to be on the road.”
As their tours go on, Night Riots is getting the opportunity to play bigger shows at bigger venues, and even taking residency at LA’s Hemingways for the month of August. I asked if the band catered their shows differently to these larger events as opposed to the smaller venues. Fotinakes explains, “Sometimes. Not really in the sense that we’ll play completely different stuff. In a case like that (Saosin show) where they may not know us as well, we have a bit more room to be creative. You know if you’re playing to people that you know, you kind of have to play some songs that they would recognize or fan favorites but with that we have the freedom to play newer stuff and experiment with songs that we haven’t really played that much. Its fun to throw that into shows.”
Night Riots’ newest music video for “Back to Your Love,” was released recently and has even gotten attention by MTV. Set in San Bernadino’s Carosel Mall, the video features Hawley roaming through the empty halls and dancing a Mia Wallace mannequin that eventualy springs to life. Fun, and beautifully shot, Hawley describes it as a “snapshot of a time and a place.” He adds, “For us when it comes to making videos, we would rather have it be no beginning and no end. No resolution.”
Night Riots’ summer tour brought them for the first time to the main stage of the House of Blues as the supporting band for Wild Cub. It was great to finally see the band on a stage more their size, as the guys weren’t too crowded and Travis had room to move around. While a good majority of the people in attendance there to see Wild Cub (who would later be bobbing their heads to the music), there were still a good number of people I saw sporting their shirts and making the way to the front as soon as the band opened. With only a quick 7 or 8 song set, the band opened the night with “Remedy,” off of their Young Lore EP. Throughout the set, the band went back to their days as PK, much to the appeal of their long time fans. Near the end of the set, the band played a stripped down version of “Spiders” and ended with PK single and fan favorite, “Berelain.”
The boys continue to tour up and down the west coast, but that doesn’t mean no new music. In fact, Hawley mentioned that Night Riots are close to finishing another EP which they are hoping to release by October. Between playing shows, the boys make their way to LA for some recording and have to juggle their time accordingly to fit all the demands. If you havent had a listen to their EP, Young Lore, check it out now and catch Night Riots on their never ending tour.
And for those on the east coast, the boys haven’t forgot about you. When it comes to a tour, Fotinakes mentions that “Everything’s up in the air but hopefully we’ll get to the east coast too. Wed love to if we can make it happen.”
Walking into Bonnaroo for the first time is not easily compared to anything else. There’s nothing quite like the sights, sounds, and smells experienced at one of the largest music festivals in the world, hosted in Manchester, TN, just an hour southeast of Nashville. 2014 marks the 13th year for the festival and another very successful one at that. If you’re there for the weekend, it’s a long weekend, but many would agree not long enough. Four days of camping can feel like one endless day or two weeks depending on your schedule and how you choose to survive. Even spending just one day at planet Roo can feel timeless, as mine did on Saturday. It’s almost impossible to see all the artists you want to, but with some careful planning and a good watch, you can pack in a pretty good lineup for yourself. Here was a summary of my day after arriving just before 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
3:30pm – Silent Disco: Grab a pair of over-the-head bluetooth headphones as you walk into the Silent Disco tent and you’re in for a unique and hilarious experience. When the headphones are on, you’re part of the party. When you take them off, it’s pretty funny watching people dancing and hearing random shouts or out of tune singing.
4:00pm – Cake: Most of us have heard the more popular Cake songs; “The Distance,” “Never There,” and “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.” Cake had a late afternoon set as one of the first major acts of the day, and the Which Stage was packed with tens of thousands of Roo fans just getting started. Frontman John McCrea had a fairly intellectual stage presence, bantering, ”This is just entertainment — it’ll get bleak when we go home.” However, he easily won over the crowd when he dedicated “Mustache Man (Wasted)” to “anyone here who has a mustache, and not an ironic mustache or a nostalgic mustache.” He pointed out a guy in the crowd with a “full-on, balls-out mustache,” and the crowd quickly approved with cheers after seeing him on the giant video screen.
5:45pm – Cage the Elephant: With a giant crowd in place from Cake, it seemed to grow for Cage the Elephant. With songs like ”Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” and “Shake Me Down,” the band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their first trip to Bonnaroo, when they brought acoustic guitars to the campgrounds and won over a few early fans. Lead singer Matt Shultz ditched a shiny gold jacket soon after the first couple songs and joined the audience by crowd surfing over the barricades, his stage presence akin to the likes of Mick Jagger.
8:45pm – James Blake: It’s important to maintain a good energy level at Bonnaroo, so after dinner and another Red Bull, we were ready for the set I had been most anticipating. We secured an amazing spot between center stage and front of house, for the full stereo experience. Blake’s set was one the best-sounding shows I’ve ever heard. From dirty synths, to groove played live, it felt very natural for a set consisting of mostly artificial sounds. It was awesome to hear the lack of tracks and see that James and his band played most if not all of the parts live. He came across as very sincere and appreciative of the support from the festival and the audience. When asked about collaborators for the next record in an interview with Billboard, Blake hinted that he would continue writing with Bon Iver and “sparatically Kanye [West] if/when he’s around.”
9:15pm – Zedd: Anton Zaslavski has quickly risen as one of the most in-demand electronic producers and DJs of the decade. His set at Broo mirrored what he’s done as a producer and solo artist up until this point in his career. Let’s just say it was BIG.
10:45pm – Jack White: If you’ve seen Jack White perform on late night TV, it’s not even one tenth of what you get on the Main (What) Stage at Bonnaroo. It was loud, and Jack easily won over the primetime audience on Saturday night. We only stayed for a couple songs in order to catch the Supergroup at midnight.
12am – Supergroup: Skrillex and friends featuring Big Gigantic with special guests Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Robby Krieger (of The Doors), Zedd, Mickey Hart, Janelle Monae, Joel Cummins, Warpaint, Chance the Rapper, High & Mighty Horns, Thundercat, Craig Robinson, and more. The supergroup was an interesting mix of artists, and I couldn’t even keep track of them all. It was madness. For instance, who ever thought they’d see Robby Krieger, Skrillex, and Craig Robinson on the same stage? I’ll give you a second to process that because I’m struggling.
2:45am Kaskade: Ryan Raddon has risen as a top DJ and producer in the progressive house scene over the last decade. It’s wild to see how quickly EDM has grown to headline artist slots at many if not all of the major festivals. It shows how Bonnaroo has grown, but also music fans in general. I think people in our current digital age are relating more to a digital sound than they ever have. Kaskade has had a significant influence in the electronic world and certainly proved it while closing out Saturday night.
Back to Nashville, sleep.
By Steve Harpine | Digital Content Manager | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
One of the best things about San Diego, is that we have a wide array of music and talent that calls the city home. Not set on a single genre, San Diego plays home to many musicians. Some make it, some don’t. Some will tour, and others will stay close. One of the many musical acts is an award winning folk duo, The Lovebirds, made up of real life (ex)lovebirds Veronica May and Lindsay White, who have shared the stage with some of the biggest names in music today.
Their third album, Breakup Shmakeup, is set to debut tomorrow at their album release party at Swedenborg Hall. The name, based on the album’s chronicling of the duo’s breakup in order to maintain making music, shows a bit of humor and maturity in what could be a devastating moment in one’s life. However, they felt it best to do whatever it took to continue making music, the reason they fell in love in the first place. “Since we broke up last year, we’ve been able to focus completely on the music (which was always the best part about our relationship) without the pressure of having to fulfill normal relationship needs for each other. In many ways, we are closer now because we can just hone in on the things we like about each other without all that pressure.”
Their music is “fun folk,” rich in a variety of instruments and even heavier in vocal harmonies. Both of them capable of playing a wide range of instruments, they are able to explore different sounds from a soft lullaby to a more upbeat folk sound. They explain that “…we’re not tied down to any style and can always rely on our harmonies to be the common denominator for our music.”
White describes the album as more of a ‘concept’ album than any of their previous records, stating that “This album was different because we wrote the majority of songs separately. However, since we were both processing the same experience, there is still a cohesion throughout the album…” Yet their musical style has developed over many years of growing up with a deep love for music as a whole. “The Lovebirds’s sound is definitely a blend of each of our personal musical influences, past and present. I always reference Bob Dylan and Shel Silverstein for shaping my early love for writing, words, and cadence. Veronica grew up admiring great singers like Karen Carpenter and Natalie Cole. Then, of course there were the 90’s, where we were influenced by everything from hip-hop and R&B to a new generation of female folk singer-songwriters like Jewel, Ani Difranco, Patty Griffin, etc. Now, we love bands like First Aid Kit, Milk Carton Kids, and Haim. As you can see, we cast a pretty wide net, which is very reflective of our generation. The result for our band is a sound that fluctuates pretty naturally from genre to genre. “
The Lovebirds are prepping to tour for the summer after the release of their album. Though for them touring is an “exciting experience,” they stay grounded with the support of their fans in San Diego. “We love our San Diego fans because they are truly our friends.” White states. “There is so much love and support here. The music community here (musicians and fans) is so tight – everyone wants to see everyone else succeed.”
Check out The Lovebirds and their newest album, Breakup Shmakeup. Their album release party will be held at the Swedenborg Hall in San Diego Friday, May 2.