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Exclusive Q and A: Converge Talk Creativity, Lunar Cycles, And Hanging With Hydra Head

Hardcore heroes Converge should have the right to rest on their laurels. After putting in years developing their sound in the ’90s and then releasing a string of albums during the last decade that culminated in a shower of critical praise, one might think that the band would rest and take stock of their achievements. Lucky for us, Converge are still hungry. Early this October, they released their latest album, All We Love We Leave Behind, another ferocious burst of the band’s unique blend of punk, metal, and hardcore. We recently caught up with vocalist Jacob Bannon to talk about the economics of creativity, the passage of time, and his surprising fondness for Tina Turner.

OS: The cycles of the moon appear on the album art for All We Love We Leave Behind, and the moon is also the first thing that appears in the “Aimless Arrow” video. What is the importance of that image for the band?

Jacob Bannon: When Max Moore (director of the video) started work on the piece, I sent him a variety of visuals intended for use in the album, along with the storyline of the song itself. He did a fantastic job at capturing the energy of my work and his interpretation of the lyrical content through his own eyes. The use of the moon in the beginning of the piece is a great example of that. The cycles of the moon represent a passing of time, age, wisdom, but at the same time, an unknowingness of the future and a cloudiness of the past.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Converge Talk Creativity, Lunar Cycles, And Hanging With Hydra Head’

Metal Monday: Pig Destroyer Q&A

Five years after the release of Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer are about to make a whole bunch of grindcore fans really happy with their new album Book Burner. Just as ferocious and unforgiving as ever, this album is going to receive a lot of attention in year end lists, as it should. Of course, the second we heard about the new album we had questions, and Blake Harrison (electronics) came to the rescue with some answers.

OS: In the five years it’s been since Phantom Limb, Pig Destroyer has seen a lot of change surrounding the band, including a new drummer—what of these things do you think had the most pronounced effect on the material on Book Burner?

BH: Well, I think the most pronounced influence on Book Burner was the time, we felt like we wanted the record to be lean, stripped down, fierce. Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Pig Destroyer Q&A’

Exclusive Q and A: Easton Corbin Comes Back with ‘All Over the Road’

Easton Corbin’s recently released sophomore album All Over The Road proves that the “A Little More Country Than That” artist is poised to release even more hits.

Consider his new singles “Lovin’ You Is Fun,” written by Nashville songwriters Bob DiPiro and Jim Beavers, that is quickly climbing the charts. It’s just more evidence that Corbin still has plenty of fun-filled music to bring to his fans.

“‘All Over the Road’ is a fun title,” said Easton of choosing the title of the new album. “but it’s also actually what we’re doing out there. We’re all over the road trying to get music out to everybody, so I just thought it made sense.”

But don’t think that Easton’s music is country pop. Indeed, the music from the Gilchrist County, Fla. native, who’s self-titled 2010 debut album spawned back-to-back No. 1 hits, has been compared to that of such country legends as George Jones, Keith Whitley, and Merle Haggard. In fact, Corbin’s “A Little More Country Than That,” and “Roll With It,” made him the first male country artist in 17 years to have two consecutive singles hit the top spot.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Corbin also snagged all of the Breakthrough Artist awards at the inaugural American Country Awards in 2010—Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist, Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist, and Music Video: Breakthrough Artist for “A Little More Country Than That.” Little wonder his new album is already gaining critical and popular acclaim.

Corbin took time out just after finishing Brad Paisley’s Virtual Reality Tour to talk to OurStage about his music, his music, fans, and just where he’s going from here. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Easton Corbin Comes Back with ‘All Over the Road’’

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Justin Rice Jumps Between Bishop Allen and The Last Names

First you hear the hazy, languid tones of a young woman whose voice falls somewhere in the ethereal zone between Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Cat Power. At times, a male vocal partner’s warm pipes waft into the mix. Soon you’re sucked into a mood that’s somewhere between the last, evanescent rays of summer sunshine softly receding from view and an evocative, autumnal flickering of gossamer guitars and diaphanous keyboard lines. You’re listening to Wilderness, the debut album by The Last Names, a married couple who became a band by accident. Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Justin Rice Jumps Between Bishop Allen and The Last Names’

Exclusive Q and A: Freelance Whales Talk Floods, Cities, And Outer Space

Sure, there are hundreds of bands in New York, but how many of them do full-group live busking performances on subway platforms? Since their string of live street performances in New York, Freelance Whales have climbed their way to the top of the indie rock heap. Songs from their acclaimed first album Weathervanes have appeared in ads for Chevy and Twitter as well as on shows like One Tree Hill and Skins. As the band geared up to drop their follow-up record, Diluvia, which hits stores today, we chatted with Chuck Criss about recording in a rural space, the band’s pre-order pocket planetarium, and the end of the world.

OS: You guys supposedly rented a house in upstate New York to write material for Diluvia. What was it like to work in that environment?

CC: It was amazing. The city has so many distractions, both good and bad.  It was nice to go somewhere isolated with no Internet or cell service. We would just buy groceries for the week, wake up in the morning and write music. The only breaks we would take were to cook food.  I think it really helped us focus. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Freelance Whales Talk Floods, Cities, And Outer Space’

Exclusive Q and A: Brantley Gilbert Talks CMAs, Eric Church and Lessons from the Road

Brantley Gilbert is the opposite of a divo (that’s a male diva, in case you didn’t know).

That’s why it’s gratifying to see him grab so much success this early in his career. Last year, the now 27 year-old singer/songwriter was a bit bummed that many music journalists didn’t seem to want to talk with him. This year, he hardly has time to talk to anyone.

With a nomination for the 2012 Country Music Association (CMA) New Artist of the Year Award, Gilbert is launching the “Hell on Wheels Tour.” It’s the first headlining tour for Gilbert, whose sophomore album Halfway to Heavy debuted at #2 on the Billboard Country charts and who has written a host of #1 singles including “Country Must Be Country Wide,” “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,” along with Jason Aldean‘s songs “My Kinda Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem.” He’s also won plenty of fans during his recent tours, including supporting spots on Eric Church‘s “Blood, Sweat & Beers Tour” and Toby Keith‘s “Live in Overdrive Tour.”

Although he’s got some heavy competition for the CMA Award — Love and Theft, Lee Brice, Hunter Hayes, and Thompson Square are the other nominees — Gilbert seems to be taking all the excitement in stride. Although he was battling bronchitis on one of his recent days home, he took time out to chat a bit about his reaction to the nomination, his songwriting, and just what he’s learned on all the tours he has played.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Brantley Gilbert Talks CMAs, Eric Church and Lessons from the Road’

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Jann Klose Shadowboxes the Ghosts of Tim & Jeff Buckley

“There’s Al Pacino on my left and [former Captain Beefheart guitarist] Gary Lucas on my right. I was just like, ‘This is so surreal.’ I’m hearing myself sing and I’m going, ‘How did I get here?’” Such are the strange circumstances in which singer/songwriter Jann Klose has been finding himself lately. It all started when guitar legend Lucas curated an event at New York’s Knitting Factory in tribute to the late Jeff Buckley, with whom the guitarist was a key collaborator. That’s where Lucas and Buckley admirer Klose first met. Continue reading ‘Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Jann Klose Shadowboxes the Ghosts of Tim & Jeff Buckley’

Exclusive Q and A: Chris Carrabba Talks ‘Penny Black,’ Reuniting With Further Seems Forever

It’s been more than a decade since Further Seems Forever recorded new material with their original vocalist, Chris Carrabba. After Carrabba left the band in 2000 to pursue his solo project, Dashboard Confessional, his shoes were competently filled by subsequent vocalists Jason Gleason and Jon Bunch. Still, hardcore fans held out hope that someday the original FSF lineup would reunite and maybe even release new songs. To the elation of all of those who have waited a long decade, Carrabba and Further Seems Forever have finally joined forces once again and are set to release Penny Black, the band’s fourth album, this October. We caught up with Carrabba to talk about the band’s older material, the meaning behind the album title, and the enduring artists that he aspires to emulate.

OS: What influenced the band’s decision to release Penny Black on Rise Records?

Chris Carrabba: We had heard such great things about how the label was run and the people who run the label.  There are a lot of bands on the label that I like a lot and some of them are my friends and they all raved about their experience being on Rise.

OS: The Penny Black was an early British postage stamp from the 1840s. What connection does that idea have to the lyrical subject matter of the album?

CC: I was reading a book that was set in the mid 1800’s and a major theme in it was the tendency of those in power to be driven only by the desire to amass more power.  The stamp wasn’t mentioned in it but I connected them for some reason.  The stamp was a paradigm shift in communication.  It made the world smaller, like the Internet has done in our era, but it also gave those in power to spread that power wider and wider

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Chris Carrabba Talks ‘Penny Black,’ Reuniting With Further Seems Forever’

Exclusive Q and A: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Mine The Past, But Look Forward

The primal bellow of the The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is unmistakable.  For over 20 years, the band has blazed a path uniquely and entirely their own, pioneering an inimitable, cacophonous, and burly blend of punk and blues. Though the band decided to take a break after 2004′s Damage, it wasn’t long before lead singer/guitarist Jon Spencer, drummer Russell Simins, and guitarist Judah Bauer were back together writing and recording again. The result of the last few years is Meat and Bone, a classic return to form for the New York three–piece. We recently caught up with Spencer to talk about the changing face of rock ‘n’ roll promotion, social media, and why the passage of time plays a big thematic role on the new record.

OS: After your recent hiatus, what spurred you, Judah, and Russell to start writing together again?

JS: Playing concerts again. That’s what did it. In 2007, the label In The Red put out a compilation of a bunch of singles that we had done for them over the years. So, after that there was something of a renewed interest in The Blues Explosion, and in summer 2008 me and Judah and Russell figured, “Well why not take a few shows?” We went over to Europe and played a few festivals and enjoyed doing it, so we kept playing and took more concerts. About a year and a half ago we began writing songs and thinking about making an album. That followed along naturally, quite organically, out of the return to playing live and touring.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Mine The Past, But Look Forward’

Delta Rae Dish On Influences, Videos, And OurStage Success

OurStage band Delta Rae have come a long way since opening for Hanson as the winners of the “Shout It Out with HANSON” Competition in 2010. Not that Delta Rae were unskilled amateurs back then – Isaac Hanson said that his band should have been opening for them insteadbut since nabbing that gig, Delta Rae signed a major label deal with Sire Records, were booked to play at this year’s Democratic National Convention, and were featured in the Rolling Stone “Women Who Rock” Competition. Not bad for just two years. We recently caught up with the band to talk about their recent activity, their inventive music videos, and how opening up for Hanson boosted their burgeoning career.


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