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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.

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by Aimee Myers

Noise Polluter featured folk artist and harpist Risa Rubin back in January, and now the saga continues:

Angeleno chanteuse Risa Rubin’s latest video for her song “Not My Family” features clips of dancers performing everywhere from alleyways in New York City to a garden in Laos. Although these locations may seem exotic to most viewers, there’s a sense of familiarity evident in the video’s hazy, almost dream-like visuals, similar to that of an old home movie. Rubin transports her audience to a field in Santa Cruz, the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and even a snowy parking lot in Maine, but still remembers to make the occasional visit to the viewer as she sings to the camera with a knowing look in her green eyes, harnessing the aforementioned intimacy.

The video can be seen above, and Rubin’s debut cassette, SHEMA, which features “Not My Family,” is available on Lolipop Records.

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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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RisaRubin

by Aimee Myers

Thirteen years ago, Risa Rubin was in the first grade, living with her Jewish-Republican parents, a comedy writer and a clothing designer, in their Laurel Canyon home. It was here, just blocks away from Joni Mitchell’s ‘Ladies of the Canyon’ house, that Rubin began singing and writing her own music, following in the footsteps of her idols Patsy Cline and Martina McBride. She began taking singing lessons, but her twin brother’s rage disorder halted her musical development. Fast forward ten years and she’d been accepted to UCLA as a photography major, had moved out of her parents’ house, and was taking vocal lessons, singing only soul and jazz standards. She was enamored with Nico. She spent class time writing songs, singing them in her head until she had the chance jot them down and take them to the studio where she’d been recording for six months. At this studio, she completed three soul songs, but ended up hating them so much that she swore off both soul music and UCLA, deciding to dedicate both her time and energy to finding her true sound.

After couch surfing around New York for several months, Rubin found herself at the Ché Café in San Diego, playing an album that she had recorded while living in Buffalo with her family. After the show, one of her friends suggested that she ditch the piano for a synthesizer and explore the realm of doom folk. With this idea in mind, she wound up in Berkeley where she decided to take up harp after listening to Joanna Newsom. Perhaps by fate, she met a harp teacher at a BART station in Berkeley, and finally she had everything she needed to begin writing and recording her debut cassette, ‘SHEMA.’ While splitting her residential time between two farms near Santa Cruz, she made several unfruitful attempts at submitting her cassette to labels around the area, but it wasn’t until she met Wyatt Blair of Lolipop Records through mutual friends that the LA-based label decided to release her music.

The album art for ‘SHEMA’ features a photo of a singing young Rubin, surrounded by lines of glitter glue and a collage of old photos, perhaps a nod to the artistic inclinations of her childhood. ‘SHEMA’ is comprised of eight songs, four of which come close to five minutes in length. Each song is created with a simple formula: a combination of Rubin’s whimsical voice, a harp, or a synthesizer (or both), but produces an entirely unique and otherworldly sound. As the newest member of LA’s underground scene, Rubin provides an incredibly refreshing break from the usual punk-psychedelic-garage rock combination that has sonically dominated the scene for the past decade. Regardless of your string instrument of choice, ‘SHEMA’ demands attention, beckoning the listener into a world of charming lyrics such as “High above/I didn’t know what love was/so I could not pretend to fear it any longer” accompanied by a marriage of sounds so seemingly foreign and tranquil compared to most LA bands that the listener wonders what to make of it all, but understands as the final notes of “Folk Song” fade out that Rubin is unequivocally one of the brightest stars to frame the LA skyline.

Listen to ‘SHEMA’ on Bandcamp and keep up to date with Risa Rubin’s future performances and releases on Lolipop Records’ Facebook page. ‘SHEMA’ can be purchased on cassette from the label’s website as well as from their shop in Echo Park, CA.

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by Aimee Myers

Where there is anger, there will be punk music, and where there is punk music, there will be girls. Yelling girls, thrashing girls, shredding girls, and, most importantly, girls with something to say. Take these girls, put them in pretty clothes, hand them candy-colored instruments, and you have LA-via-Oakland punks Deadpanzies. We asked these three lovely ladies a few questions, and this is what they had to say:

AIMEE MYERS FOR NOISE POLLUTER: How did you guys meet and decide to become a band?

KT FLANAGAN (bass): I met Emily high school and we’ve been best friends ever since. We moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in May and met Erika at Brite Spot [a café in Echo Park] our first night in town.

EMILY SANDO-BROWN (drums): But we didn’t really get to know each other until the day we were part of the Corners music video for “Love Letters.”

ERIKA LAWSON (mandola & electric violin): They asked me to jam noise guitar with them a couple days before Burger-A-Go-Go, and it’s been rad ever since.

 

NP: Who or what do you consider to be your greatest lyrical influence?

KF: Flipper. Anything bleak and dark. Sonic Youth is so good because of their dark metaphors and surrealism. Kim Gordon is a bad ass bitch.

ESB: Lydia Lunch. Her No Wave-y style and spoken word always inspired me. She pushed boundaries with her feminist lyrics and lifestyle. Also especially early Velvet Underground. Mo Tucker is a sick minimalistic drummer. And yeah, Joan Jett.

EL: For Deadpanzies I just write songs about people and things I hate. Do not fear anger or the demons inside of you. I also love Laurie Anderson. She’s a genius.

ESB: Embrace the hate.

 

NP: What’s your songwriting process like?

ESB: Like making a sandwich or a cheese filled crepe. Maybe just a sandwich. But I still really like crepes.

KF: When I write songs they come in random spurts of feeling, and then I fuck around on the bass.

ESB: It happens when we’re in the same room together. Just jamming a lot.

KF: Yeah. We have real chemistry.

ESB: I write songs when I feel too much love and I wanna be hateful.

EL: I came in later on most of the songs, so I’m just lucky they’re cool and let me vomit on everything.

 

NP: Have you found that living and working in a city as chaotic as LA helps or hinders your creative process?

ESB: It’s definitely given us more people to hate.

KF: I like my music to sound chaotic so it’s working for me.

EL: I love that there are so many shows going on all the time. I get really excited when a band totally kills it live. Yay chaos.

 

NP: What made you want to start playing music?

KF: A friend of mine that I hardly knew asked Emily and I totally randomly to be in his band and handed me drumsticks. Back then I was really into noise music, so not knowing how to play very well was okay.

ESB: Yeah. Super weird. Yacob, a queer feminist noise punk boy, kinda just picked us out of a crowd.

EL: My parents are classical musicians so they just made me start playing the violin when I was five years old. I hated it. It was boring. And now I play electric mandola behind my head…

 

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

EL: Outfits!

ESB: Sequins!

KF: It’s an obligated time to hang out with people I appreciate musically. Also, sequins.

EL: Playing shows is a special, intense kind of fun.

ESB: Putting my feminist ideals in your face and hopefully inspiring some young girl to do something, too.

 

NP: What’s the best show you’ve ever played?

ESB: Definitely a tie between Burger A-Go-Go and the Tête residency show at the Echo because of the sick all-girl mosh pit.

KF: Agreed. I also liked our CoolWorld show because I was covered in blood and everyone was dressed in drag.

EL: Yeah. All cool.

 

NP: If you could tour with any band, dead or alive, who would it be?

EL: – Corners/Billy Changer. I wanna kiss my fiancé [Robert Cifuentes of both bands] ALL THE TIME. And conflicting tour schedules suck.

KF: The Birthday Party because we love Nick Cave. He inspired “Boneyard.”

ESB: I want to time travel back to like 1979 and play with all the No Wave bands in New York. And Blondie. The Runaways. And Kathleen Hanna!

 

NP: Who are your favorite LA bands right now?

DEADPANZIES: Corners (obviously). Sex Stains. LA Witch. Gateway Drugs. Wand. Cherry Glazerr…It’s hard to answer this because so many of our friends are in great bands!

 

NP: What’s next for Deadpanzies?

DEADPANZIES: We’re excited to record our full-length album at Lolipop Records with Robert [Cifuentes of Corners and Billy Changer] next week.

 

If you’re in Los Angeles this month, you can catch Deadpanzies with Meat Market and No Parents at the Orphanage in Historic Filipinotown on October 18th (Emily’s birthday!) and with Guantanamo Baywatch, No Parents, and Bombon on October 26th at Harold’s Place in San Pedro. In the meantime, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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