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OS @ Warped Series: I Fight Dragons

With summer right around the corner, we can’t help but be totally stoked for Warped Tour. In case you haven’t heard, we’ll be sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing twenty-three artists out to perform on it. Twenty-two acts will snag a performance at their local tour stop, and one lucky artist will get to perform on every date (tour bus included). In addition, there are a handful of other OurStage artists already booked to play various dates of the tour. We decided to catch up with them to get the scoop on their summer plans.

Chicago natives I Fight Dragons are favorites in the modern pop rock scene and will be playing every single date of Warped Tour 2012. With fun and fresh songwriting chops, dedicated fans and a kickass live show, we think it’s safe to say that this band is poised to be the next big breakout act. We caught up with IFD frontman Brian Mazzaferri to talk about video games, rock shows and why he’s looking forward to a very Warped summer.

OS: You describe your sound as “Chiptune-Pop-Rock.” Can you explain what that is and how you incorporate chiptune elements into your music?

BM: Sure, well Chiptune is basically this:  new music created using “obsolete” video game soundcards.  It ends up sounding like it was made on an old Nintendo or Game Boy, because it often was.  In our band, we integrate those sounds with a more traditional four-piece rock band (drums, bass, guitar, vocals)…to create an unholy beast of sonic majesty.

OS: You’re from the local scene in Chicago, which is represented in modern rock by bands like Fall Out Boy and The Academy Is… .Were there any local acts that you guys really looked up to growing up?

BM: I’d say Wilco is the favored hometown hero amongst our bandmates.  I really enjoy Fall Out Boy as well actually, but I went to high school with Patrick Stump so it’s hard to say I looked up to him growing up, I definitely love his songwriting though.

Continue reading ‘OS @ Warped Series: I Fight Dragons’

Two for the Road

Gerald Edward

Gerald Edward doesn’t need much—just a guitar, his voice and a community. The singer-songwriter shuffles between the Jersey Shore and Brooklyn, sharing the stage with a rotating cast of musicians or performing solo. If you have any doubt that the man is a troubadour, take into account the fact that he named his band Inland Traveler. When it came time to record an album, Edward split the record between his full band and just himself. The result is a collection of indie folk dazzlers with a country tilt. Stripped down, clarified melodies like the folksy “Promise” and the mesmerizing, elegiac “Put The Breaks On” prove that Edward can deliver with just the bare essentials. But he can also kick up some dust and does so with his band on the stomp-n-thump of “Sweet Revenge” and the driving rhythm of “Sweet Revenge.” Pulling double duty works for him—let’s hope he can keep up the grind.

Milk and Honey

Yael Meyer

Yael Meyer had an idyllic childhood growing up in Santiago de Chile, a region of the earth where waterfalls, glaciers, deserts, and mountains coexist. This might explain the quixotic slant of her music, which to date has been aired on shows like Private Practice, and Drop Dead Diva. The LA-based singer-songwriter pens indie folk pop gems full of sweetness and light. “I Wonder How” starts with the stomp and twinkle of keys and tambourine, leading you into a softer sort of celebration that feels a bit like Feist. With its simple vocal lines, acoustic guitar and shaken percussion, “Everything Will Be Alright” is light and effervescent—the treacle for a gloomy day. And if that doesn’t do it for you, then skip to “Heartbeat” for a summery, piano-led romp steeped in nostalgia. Here comes the sun, little darlings.

Field of Dreams

Ryan Hill

You don’t often find jocks onstage singing opera, but Ryan Hill isn’t your average guy. A baseball scholarship led Hill to Ottawa University, where he honed his swing on the field and his voice in the university choir. Guitar and piano practice and classical vocal training began to eclipse baseball as Hill developed his sound and evolved into a prodigious singer-songwriter. “Believe” introduces you to Hill’s most powerful instrument: a malleable voice that ripples up and down the scales. The guy can emote, and does so with just a simple acoustic guitar for much of the song. It isn’t until the three-minute mark that Hill unleashes the rest of his arsenal. Tracks like “One More Time” and “What Do I Know” are codas to the emotional turbulence of “Believe.” The latter is a dark and dusty waltz where Hill proclaims, “I’ve done all I can do. I’m only a man.” But man, is he good at what he does.

OS @ Warped Series: Lost In Society

With summer right around the corner, we can’t help but be totally stoked for Warped Tour. In case you haven’t heard, we’ll be sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing twenty-three artists out to perform on it. Twenty-two acts will snag a performance at their local tour stop, and one lucky artist will get to perform on every date (tour bus included). In addition, there are a handful of other OurStage artists already booked to play various dates of the tour. We decided to catch up with them to get the scoop on their summer plans.

New Jersey’s Lost In Society are exactly what comes to mind when you think of  Warped Tour; loud guitars, fast drums and raspy vocals make them the perfect fit for the summer festival. Led by frontman Zack Moyle, this band has taken a truly punk rock DIY approach to their career, and their hard work has landed them on fourteen dates of Warped Tour this year. We caught up with Zack to talk about the band’s beginnings, what they love about Warped and what we can expect from them next.

OS:  Lost In Society started playing together in 2004. Tell us about how the band formed and how you decided on a name.

ZM: Nick [Ruroede, bassist] and I were in the same homeroom and we wanted to do a talent show in eighth grade, so we decided we were going to do a Green Day medley. We found a drummer, who was with us for about four years before Hector [Bonora, current drummer] joined. We started practicing together, and then eventually I started writing my own songs and we played that instead. I got the name when I was about ten or twelve, even before I could really play an instrument. I just knew I wanted to start a band, and I liked that name, so I just kind of chose it!

OS:  You guys are based in Asbury Park, New Jersey, which is known for its strong rock history. How did your local scene contribute to LIS’s career?

ZM: It definitely contributed, I always grew up around a lot of music, so that definitely influenced me to want to start a band and be a part of what’s going on here.

Continue reading ‘OS @ Warped Series: Lost In Society’

Mystery Girl

Noe'l Williams

Try to dig up some dirt on Noe’l Williams and you won’t get far. The Orlando singer-songwriter has a Twitter account, sure, but only eleven Tweets total, the last dating back to May. She’s got a profile on YouTube with a couple playlists, and, of course, an OurStage profile. After that, the trail runs cold. So let’s be happy with what we do have—two tracks that showcase this gamine’s sensitive, upbeat indie folk. “Brown Bag” begins with the tinny rustle of tambourine, acoustic strums and Williams’s warm warble. With lyrics steeped in seasonal imagery, Williams takes the listener through the cycle of a relationship. On “Song With No Name,” the singer ups the reverb for a more layered, rousing melody. Together, these songs give you just a whiff of William’s songwriting talent—but it’s enough to leave you wanting more.

OS @ Warped Series: Sick Of Sarah

With summer right around the corner, we can’t help but be totally stoked for Warped Tour. In case you haven’t heard, we’ll be sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing twenty-three artists out to perform on it. Twenty-two acts will snag a performance at their local tour stop, and one lucky artist will get to perform on every date (tour bus included). In addition, there are a handful of other OurStage artists already booked to play various dates of the tour. We decided to catch up with them to get the scoop on their summer plans.

First up is Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Sick of Sarah. With indie rock chops that are both punky and polished, this band of female musicians are not to be overlooked. We chatted with lead vocalist Abisha Uhl and drummer/vocalist Jessica Forsythe about what it’s like to be in an all-female band, their local scene and why they can’t wait for Warped.

OS: Tell us about how the band formed and how you decided on a name.

AU: The band started off as four guitar players…and then realized that’s not going to work! We started in 2005. The name Sick of Sarah comes from my old roommate; her name was Sarah. One night, she was kind of drunk and she was like, “I hate my name. I’m sick of Sarah.” And I was like, hey, I like that. It was kind of random, but SOS has a nice ring to it.

OS: For those who haven’t heard your music yet, how would you describe your sound? Who are your biggest influences?

AU: Our sound is kind of rock/pop/indie style.

JF: Yeah, I’d say rock music.

AU: Yeah. We get inspired by a lot of musicians. In the earlier years, Jessica and I both really were into Blink 182, Weezer, Radiohead, Depeche Mode. And now, we love Metric, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Alkaline Trio.

JF: Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Death Cab…I really like a lot of the indie rock that’s going on. A lot of the ’90s alternative rock was what I was listening to growing up. I also love hip hop, I love Jay-Z, Eminem… [laughs]

AU: We love a lot of different music.

OS: Were any of you in bands before this? Were they all-girl bands too?

JF: Three of us have been in other bands. Jessie was in a couple other bands…

AU: She toured with Babes in Toyland in their last European tour, I think it was 2000 or 2001, and that was an all-girl band. When the band started, I had never been in a band before, I had only played solo stuff.

JF: Jamie and I were both stolen from other bands. I was in a band with two guys and a girl, and I know Jamie was in a band with her brother and a couple of other guys. I think she was the only female in her band.

OS: Do you think people underestimate you, being an all-girl band?

Both: Oh yeah.

JF: Usually when we first hit the stage, everyone’s wondering what these girls are going to sound like. Usually, once we’re done with our set, we get a lot of high fives from dudes who are like, “You guys are actually pretty good!” [laughs] I think we get that stigma a lot.

OS: It seems like there’s a lot more female musicians emerging in this scene, though, especially on Warped Tour.

JF: I think I heard there were five female-fronted bands on the tour this year? So that will be really cool.

OS: You guys are based in Minneapolis…what is the local scene there like? Do you feel as though you guys fit in well?

AU: The scene here is really good. The music scene is amazing. We definitely are welcomed in our hometown as far as our music goes, they’re very accepting. It’s such an honor to come from a music scene like this and make it.

JF: We’re really trying to play a lot more in Minneapolis but we’ve been touring for two or three years all around the country. We started touring in Europe and stuff, so we really miss Minneapolis. We recently played three Minneapolis shows and they’ve been really awesome. We’ve been really feeling the love and support from Minneapolis to try to hook up with other Minneapolis-based bands.

OS: You’re playing a bunch of dates of Warped Tour this year….how did you get that opportunity?

AU: There’s a girl Sarah who works at Warped Tour, and she’s really into our music. She works side-by-side with [Warped Tour founder] Kevin Lyman. She helped us out a lot, getting us on there. When we were on Warped Tour last year, we sat down with Kevin Lyman and we were like, “Hey, we’d love to be a part of this in the future.”

OS: What was your experience like last year?

AU: It was an amazing experience. It was so much fun and such a privilege to be surrounded by all these artists.

OS: Speaking of being surrounded by awesome artists, who are you most looking forward to seeing perform at Warped Tour this year?

JF: I’m excited to see Dead Sara and New Found Glory…

AU: The Used!

JF: Yeah, The Used!

OS: Anything else you’d like to say to your fans on OurStage?

AU: We’d just like to say thank you for all the support and we hope to come out to Warped Tour every year and put on a show for all of our fans. We appreciate them and we love them.

 

Opposites Attract

The Dandelion War

Like Led Zeppelin and Iron Butterfly, The Dandelion War should immediately give you a hint about its music by name alone. The tension between contrasts—low and high, heavy and light, gentle and violent—has long provided creative fodder for artists. The Dandelion War deftly weaves those contrasts together for diaphanous songscapes that range from story to placid. “Jail Bird” adds layers of glacial guitars, synths and drums to create the soundtrack to a dream. But the subconscious can be a fitful place, too, and on “Spectacle” the five-piece band creates a gyre of piano, drums, guitar and bass that falls somewhere between Sigur Rós and My Morning Jacket. “The Petals of Lipaceli” is equally mesmerizing—a long instrumental intro contains pianos echoed by chimes, reverb-drenched guitars, chants and rhythms that become more insistent as they build to crescendo. Sweet dreams are made of these.

SK8R BOI

Billa Camp

Like Lupe Fiasco, Billa Camp hails from Chi-Town, loves skateboard culture and is an exemplar of alternative hip hop. And here’s another similarity—both appeared in the video for Fiasco’s song “Kick, Push.” Still, Camp’s got his own thing going on, like an encyclopedic knowledge of rock, for starters. On “Grateful Dread,” the rapper name checks dozens of artists, starting with Sublime, Radiohead and Nirvana before moving onto Talking Heads, MC5 and Flaming Lips. Even Phish gets a shout-out on the hypnotic track, which combines lashes of cymbals and droning textures that sound like a deviant version of Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker.” Stylistically, Camp’s music runs the gamut—from surf guitars on “California” to a crackling samples of the 1950s hit “Why Don’t You Believe Me” on “Show Time” to the banging “Beat Street” with its hefty dose of “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa. You don’t know where you’re going when you put on a Billa Camp track, but you can be sure you’re gonna have a good time.

 

Wedded Bliss

Cedar Avenue

Husbands and wives tend to make pretty good music together. See: Sony and Cher, Wings, Sonic Youth, Mates of State, Arcade Fire and about a million other acts, including Cedar Avenue. The Twin Cities band is led by Jessie and Derrin Mathews who, along with their bandmates, craft plaintive and ethereal indie pop. “7 Years” unfurls with a tambourine rattle, lapping acoustic guitars and the charming back and forth of boy-girl harmonies. Electric guitars, pounding tambourines and pummeled drums ratchet up the urgency on “Up North,” while a scattershot beat picks up the pace on “Tuesday.” The diaphanous “After All” acts as a panacea to those hot flashes, smoothing over ruffled emotions with sailing falsettos, ebbing guitars and the treacle of a glockenspiel. Once you’ve heard the dreamy and dynamic melodies of Cedar Avenue, you’ll be a fan till death do you part.

 

 


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