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written by Aimee Myers

San Francisco’s non-techie population is in dire need of a little sonic redemption as they sift through the cultural debris, trying to make rent on time, if at all. Fortunately, Mike Donovan has graced our beloved city with yet another band post-Sic Alps: Peacers. With former Oh Sees member Mike Shoun on drums and Ty Segall manning the soundboard, Peacers’ debut record is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of restoring San Francisco to its former psych rock glory. Having just completed a U.S. tour alongside Elisa Ambrogio, Donovan and I discussed by email (seemingly the modern equivalent of a handwritten letter in the realm of Twitter, Google, and whatever app your neighbor just developed) the current state of the Bay’s scene, the birth of Peacers, and reviving history.

 

AIMEE MYERS FOR NOISE POLLUTER: Over the past few years, there seems to have been a mass exodus of talent from the Bay Area, most notably by John Dwyer and Ty Segall. What kept you in San Francisco?

MIKE DONOVAN (VOX/GUITAR): I really didn’t really want to leave, though this city has become unbelievably corny. I often feel like I’m in a boring and lazily written Saturday Night Live skit. Everybody is obsessed with convenience and how to make a lot of money off it. Mental-moral pygmies are running the show. The main reason I stay here is because I have a place which is nice and cheap enough, though sometimes I’m worried I might run out of vomit.

 

NP: San Francisco’s music scene certainly isn’t what it was in the early 2000s, but is it possible to still find inspiration here in 2016?

MD: Sad that fun times are gone, but on the other hand I think sometimes the most interesting times creatively for a city are often before and after the scene – the payoff isn’t in the spotlight but there’s always a chance some odd band will cut some unthought-of path.

 

NP:The disbandment of Sic Alps in 2013 seemed to signal the beginning of the end for the Bay Area’s modern garage-psych scene. Are you concerned at all that fans, out of nostalgia, may view Peacers as a sort of Sic Alps reincarnation rather than an entirely separate entity?

MD: If anyone is being nostalgic about Sic Alps that is cool with me. I don’t expect that will ever change.

 

NP: When you began writing the record, did you enter the creative process knowing that you were going to start Peacers, or was it initially another solo record?

MD: It was gonna be something new from the start, a new project. The name came later.

 

NP:Wendy Farina was Peacers’ original drummer, but Mike Shoun took over the position this past July. What caused this change?

MD: She wanted to take time to concentrate on not being my girlfriend.

 

NP: Ty Segall produced the record, and many of the songs on it are reminiscent of his style. Did he have any influence on the songwriting process, or was he strictly on the technical side of it all?

MD: Ty plays drums and bass on most of the songs on the record, so his playing has a lot to do with the vibe of the record of course – but he was also in Sic Alps in 2009 and we’ve recorded and played together over the years, so the style thing is really just a little history coming back.

 

NP: From Sic Alps to a solo record and now Peacers, do you think it’s important to constantly reinvent oneself creatively through different projects?

MD: Change is life’s characteristic.

 

NP: Tell us about what’s next for Peacers. Will there be another record or a full tour?

MD: We’ve started recording the next record (this time at the home studio) and we’ve just finished a U.S. tour, which was a barrel of laughs.

 

Peacers’ self-titled debut record is available now through Drag City.

 

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by Aimee Myers

From the city that brought you deep-dish pizza, Kanye, and the Cubs comes the nation’s newest fan favorite: Modern Vices. Barely into their twenties and with a critically acclaimed debut album under their belts, these boys already have hips shaking across the country to their “dirty doo-wop.” Bassist Miles Kalchik let us in on what’s behind their self-proclaimed romantic revolution.

 

AIMEE MYERS FOR NOISE POLLUTER: How did you all meet, and when did Modern Vices officially transpire?

MILES KALCHIK (BASS): We all met and became friends in high school while playing in different bands together. Modern Vices began early fall of our freshmen/sophomore years when four of us were going to school in the city (Chicago) and we started writing together.

 

NP: Your music definitely has a doo-wop sound to it, but remains just punk enough to place you in the same category as other garage-revivalists. Did this 1950s sound come naturally to you, or did you feel the need to differentiate yourselves from the slew of garage-punk-psych hybrids constantly popping up around the country as of late?

MK: All of us have a wide range of influences and music we listen to, including 1950s doo-wop such as the Ronettes and the Supremes. Though we definitely wouldn’t categorize our music as doo-wop, we very naturally connect with and are influenced by the tone and emotion behind much of the music from then.

 

NP: It seems like Chicago is home to a tight-knit group of musicians, particularly rock bands. Did this stem from a need for a “scene” like LA’s or New York’s, or simply a mutual appreciation of each other’s work?

MK: Chicago’s super tight knit “scene” naturally stemmed from the city having a great community of very talented but also very motivated people of all art forms. It’s amazing because not only is there a mutual appreciation of each other’s work, but everyone is also super close from hanging out all the time at shows or parties.

 

NP: The music business tends to group you guys together with fellow Chicagoans Twin Peaks and the Orwells. Do you view these acts as influences or collaborators at all?

MK: We’ve all been obsessed with Twin Peaks since we heard ‘Sunken’ almost three years ago, so we’re super grateful to be tight with those dudes.

 

NP: Do other local acts tend to come off as competition, or supporters?

MK: Other local acts for sure come off as supporters, just about every band we love in the city feels the same way.

 

NP: Chicago natives, especially local bands, seem to have a lot of pride in their Windy City. Have their been any stops on your tours that have felt like a second home, or will Chi Town remain your one and only?

MK: Chicago is without a doubt our one and only, though we’re also in love with New York and now LA and Austin after being back multiple times.

 

NP: How out of control has your tour with Twin Peaks been?

MK: Our tour with Twin Peaks was actually on a super relaxed schedule with a bunch of off days. Those were the days that were actually out of control. We had four days of yada yada yada at Sasquatch and then some more of that in and near LA.

 

NP: What’s next for Modern Vices?

MK: Next for MV is locking ourselves in a studio to finish recording and writing an excess amount of new material through the summer. We’re looking to put out a couple of EPs in the near future.

 

Modern Vices‘ self-titled debut album is now available on Autumn Tone Records.

xx

 

 

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Looking for music that will weird out your parents, make you bop your head, and inspire you to write poetry?

Let me introduce you to The Chewers.

The Chewers are the experimental band I’ve been looking for since forever. They have an addictive style: smart, darkly humorous narrative layered over off-kilter yet toe-tapping loops. The duo plays upon swirling the morbid with the comical, creating the musical representation of a caricature: warped and exaggerated reality. And it’s fantastic.

The band, consisting of Travis Caffrey and Michael Sadler, is releasing their album ‘Dead Dads’ on June 13th. The title seems bitter or satirical until the truth of its namesake is revealed: both Chewers’ fathers died while they were recording the album. Either despite or because of the tragic nature of the record, it’s absolutely incredible. I mean it when I say you should check these guys out.

The Chewers were kind enough to share some thoughts about the new album, growing up, and more.

 

NOISE POLLUTER: I wanted to wish you condolences about your fathers. In your email you said that “their deaths deeply affected the birthing process [of ‘Dead Dads’]”- how so?

TRAVIS CAFFREY: I was extremely close with my dad, who I called Bill. Michael was close with him too, actually. I remember when we got started with The Chewers, and we were making up these songs one at a time, we would always send them to Bill first. He was a creative presence in my life as well. He appears on the album (posthumously) as his character Flem Rattler on the song “It Must Be Fresh”. We made an album with him, which we’ll probably put out at some point. We did the music, and he did character-based spoken word. The band was called “The Dubious Thinkers”.

MICHAEL SADLER: My dad was an asshole. But assholes can influence you too. My dad taught me a lot about hate and lying. He also taught me about redneck ingenuity and work ethic. The Chewers wouldn’t exist without a little of each of those.

 

NP: Many of your songs are narrative in style, telling the stories of outside characters. Are these characters inspired by real people, or do they exist to represent more abstract thoughts?

TC: Occasionally they’re based on real people, although the end results of the lyrics tend to be mostly fictional even then. They tend to be representative of ideas or feelings or frustrations more than actual people. Sometimes, though, they’re just stories that have some kind of thematic through-line that fits in with the tone of The Chewers (like the hapless, doomed protagonist of “Jimmy Does the Shimmy”).

 

NP: How did you two meet?

TC: We met in college. We were both there for acting in the theater department. We became fast friends, and were roommates for a time. Michael moved to Nashville and kept in touch with me (I’m not so good at doing that). I lived at home, hermit-like, for a time after school, and eventually travelled to Nashville. I’d been teaching myself guitar, he’d been teaching himself the drums. We started making songs, and haven’t stopped.

MS: I always had the feeling that Travis and I would work on something creatively. I had no idea that it would be music. We both love music and he turned me on to a ton of great shit that would’ve taken me years to discover otherwise.

 

NP: One of my favorites tracks on ‘Dead Dads’ is “Curtains”- it makes me feel like I’m watching a live band at some sort of dimly lit and smoke-filled room while also in a different dimension. I’m really interested to know what the story behind this song is.

TC:  Lyrically, it’s about being obsessed with inevitable death, but presented with sort of cartoony imagery (falling pianos, buzzards in aprons) so it walks the line between humorous and morose (which is fairly typical of our style). That one was written after the dad deaths. Music-wise it can be hard to articulate these things in words, but it was meant to be constantly breaking down and then starting over again (I should also note that the music is often created without any specific lyrics in mind).

 

NP: How has the area of your upbringing- West Virginia, I understand- contributed to your musical style and/or taste?

TC: I don’t think it had much impact on me musically, at least in terms of what I may have heard there. West Virginia is a kind of tucked away, isolated place. I think that aspect of the place, on top of me being a real outsider there, affected the sensibility of the music, and especially the lyrics and characters.

MS: Growing up in extremely rural WV things were predominately country based. As I got older things were divided more. You either liked pop-country or rap. It makes total sense to me that pop-country has sort of gone down the rap rabbit hole. I can’t say it really contributed to my style or taste. There is probably some sub-conscious residue. The isolation of WV creates these real peculiar characters and I think that had more of an impact on me.

 

NP: I understand that you’re based in Nashville now. Who are some of your favorite local musicians?

TC: We run a basement venue out of our house called The Mouthhole, where we’ll be doing a CD release show in a few weeks (6/12). We’ve recruited some of the bands we like to play the bill with us: Heinous Orca, Cuntalopes, and The Strumms.

MS: Nashville likes its genres a whole lot. That being said, there are some unique things that pop up. I love Heinous Orca. They are a lot of fun and have a lot of style.

 

NP: What are your favorite songs to play live? What are your live shows like?

TC:  Since it’s just the two of us, and we layer so many instrumental parts on our songs, we have to kind of cover our own stuff live. We’re currently in the process of translating some of the songs from “Dead Dads”. My favorites right now are the song “Dead Dads”, as well as “Techno-Slaves” and “Swamp Drag” from our previous albums. None of our live songs sound much like our recorded stuff, other than some of the loops we use, and kind of a conceptual basis.

Our live show tends to be a little more amped up than our recorded stuff, because we’re both more interested in playing our instruments, and putting on a show, than accurately recreating something. There’s a certain level of chaos that hopefully is entertaining, and at least is slightly different each time, even though we’re doing the same songs. Each show tends to be somewhat affected by the atmosphere of the night, so sometimes we’ll go through the songs quickly, sometimes we’ll jam them out, and sometimes one or both of us will feel like fucking around and experimenting in the moment.

MS: The loops give us ground to slide around on. They were more of a hindrance at first, but we have gotten the better of them.

 

NP: Finally: describe your music in three words.

TC: Funny Paranoid Deathness.

MS: Dark Jangly Funk.

 

VISIT THE CHEWERS ONLINE HERE

 

xx

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Melted_CarlPocket

 by Aimee Myers

 On Facebook, MELTED list their influences as follows: “Miguel’s Jr Garbage Burritos, Dr. Pepper, Puppies and Kittens, Mars Attacks.” Clearly Corona’s punks are here for a good time, and with the release of ‘Ziptripper,’ their debut record, they’re making it happen and taking us along for the wild ride. Get to know garage rock’s latest sensation as they take over southern California one riff at a time:

Aimee Myers for Noise Polluter: Tell us a little about yourselves. How did you all meet?

Justin Eckley (guitar & vocals): We started making music together after I started dating Sam’s sister. Leo and Sam had a band together before called Teenage Babies, and I really wanted to make music again after a year (of) not doing anything and asked them to jam.

NP: At what moment did you realize that you wanted to start making music?

JE: Sam has played in a ton of bands over the years, I’ve been writing music for a long time, and Leo is an incredible guitar player. We all had experience and thought we could make something noteworthy.

NP: What excites you most about being in a band?

JE: I think generally for MELTED, the most exciting thing is seeing people stoked to see or hear us. The idea that someone is stoked like we were stoked to see our favorite bands is a really humbling feeling.

NP: When it comes to the slew of garage bands constantly coming up out of LA and Orange County, do you view them as competition or as inspirations?

JE: These bands are our family. We support them, and they support us. Every band we’ve played with has been really welcoming and we try to always be just as welcoming.

NP: Sam, I know you’ve photographed local shows for a while now, so did working with and around other bands in a musical setting inspire you at all to help start Melted?

Sam Perez (drums): Being around the scene and seeing all these rad bands made me realize I was missing out on one of the best parts of the scene, which is playing music for people rather than just photographing it and attending shows. So yes, it did.

NP: Were any of you involved in bands prior to Melted?

JE: Like I said before, we’ve all been playing music for a long time in multiple bands. Sam has played in a lot of hardcore and metal bands. I’ve played in a bunch of different types and Leo has been jamming music with people for years.

NP: Many sonic elements of your EP ‘Ziptripper’ bring several fellow southern Californian bands, such as the Audacity, FIDLAR, and Together Pangea, to mind. Do you feel as though you would have developed a different sound if you weren’t constantly in the midst of this scene?

JE: We are constantly asked if we are influenced by these bands and the answer is an obvious yes. But we take so much influence from so many other bands and people. We write songs we think are cool and don’t really try to emulate someone else’s style in our process. We are always influenced by our friends on how to be as musicians and as humans.

NP: You’ve recently been added to the first day of Burgerama Four! Which bands are you most excited to see?

JE: The better question is who aren’t we excited for, because this year’s lineup is so stacked.

SP: Definitely No Parents, Lovely Bad Things, Audacity and King Khan!

Leo Arroyo (bass): Bone Thugs.

NP: What’s next for Melted?

Justin: When we get back from tour, we have a bunch of shows and then we hit the studio with Jonny Bell. Maybe another tour soon?

NP: Any last words for the readers?

Justin: If you are reading this, we love you.

Melteds debut record, Ziptripper, is available for download and stream on Bandcamp, and can be purchased on cassette from Burger Records and Lolipop Records. Be sure to catch Melted later this month at Burgerama Four, and keep up to date with future shows and releases through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Photo credit Carl Pocket.

 

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Take The Kinks, The Zombies, and a splash of The Hives, shake them gently, add some leather jackets, and you’ll get New York rock band Jeremy and The Harlequins. The five-piece is as rock’n’roll as it gets with their nostalgic, timeless sound (and sick guitar solos.)

Riding on the wave of their album ‘American Dreamer,’ I was able to speak with frontman Jeremy Fury about the Illuminati, the importance of shaving facial hair, and more.

NOISE POLLUTER: A harlequin is similar to a jester, correct? Why did you choose this name?

JEREMY FURY: There is this book series of esoteric sci-fi fiction called the 4th Realm Trilogy by an author named John Twelve Hawks. In it there are these special human beings called ‘travelers’ who can go through different spiritual dimensions. An illuminati-ish group tries to kill the ‘travelers,’ and the ‘harlequins’ are the heroic group dedicated to protecting the ‘travelers.’

NP: Your music undoubtedly has a sort of “retro,” classic rock and roll sound to it. Do you think of your style as more of a revival or a renewal?

JF: To me it’s just rock ‘n’ roll. To me it never left. Our goal isn’t necessarily to bring back the sound, which is what I think the term ‘revival’ refers to. It’s just to play music that we think is fun and exciting. It just so happens that right now what we’re doing isn’t what most other bands are doing right now.

I’m reminded of a few years ago when folk became popular again; everything from Edward Sharp, Iron & Wine, Mumford and Joanna Newsom. At the time it sounded out of left field and refreshing, but now five years later, it feels modern and mainstream. Relating that to what we are doing, hypothetically, if in five years there were to be a massive wave of bands inspired by early rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop, and rockabilly, the movement wouldn’t sound like an intended ‘revival’ or ‘renewal.’ People would just think of it as the modern sound of pop music.

NP: How do you distinguish yourself from all the other rock bands in New York City?

JF: We shave.

NP: What are the best and worst parts about being a band in such a dense city?

JF: The best thing is you’re in the best city in the world surrounded by amazing people to work with, amazing studios to record at, and amazing venues to play at. The downside is that because there are so many amazing people doing great things, it’s hard to get noticed. It’s also expensive and time is a valuable commodity.

I feel though that because it’s so difficult, it helps an artist raise the bar. A few years ago I was in a band based out of Ohio. While fun, we kind of had that big fish in a small pond thing. We had no room to grow, not because we didn’t want to, but because we didn’t know how to.

NP: What are some of your most memorable moments playing shows?

JF: When it feels right, it feels right. The most memorable moments are when I look at the crowd and know that they have nowhere else they’d rather be.

NP: What have you been listening to lately?

JF: Edith Piaf, Johnny Thunders, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Shannon and The Clams, and Sam Cooke.

NP: Describe your sound in three words.

JF: Shake, rattle, and roll!

 

Visit Jeremy and the Harlequins’ website HERE. ‘American Dreamer’ is now available on Spotify and iTunes.

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Erica Promo (1K)

Erica Glyn has done it all.

She’s a musical artist, a producer, and an engineer. She’s created a catalog of captivating solo albums, composed film scores, and collaborated with musicians from all across the spectrum. Her latest release, the EP ‘Dollars for Thieves,’ is a stunning display of her signature rocktronica with melodic, experimental nuances.

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk to Glyn about the release.

NOISE POLLUTER: ‘Dollars for Thieves’ is a very diverse EP. Would you say it has an overall theme?

ERICA GLYN: Yes, I guess it is pretty diverse. But there is an overall theme that perhaps has many different faces to it, so to speak. Dollars For Thieves deals with 21st Century challenges and frustrations, and the desire to be a better person within those limitations.

NP: What’s your favorite thing about being a solo artist?

EG: I would say my favorite thing is, not having to compromise my vision as a musician or an artist.

NP: Your EP includes an Echo and the Bunnymen cover- why did you choose this song?

EG: Good question! Actually, my boyfriend suggested that I cover the song. He thought that it was up my alley and that I would be able to pay homage to the band while simultaneously making it sound like an Erica Glyn track.

NP: I saw that you had written an article about DIY recording last month- did you record your EP yourself?

EG: Yes I did! I produce and engineer all of my music. And now I have recently started producing other artists.

NP: Besides being an artist, you’ve also worked as an audio engineer for people from Hillary Clinton to Dr. Oz- are there any experiences from this that stick out to you?

EG: The Secret Service that accompanies Hillary Clinton was pretty memorable!

NP: Describe your music in three words.

EG: Passionate. Honest. Sexy.

Stay up to date with Erica Glyn on her Facebook page.

xx

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