Tuesday, June 30, 2015

First/Last-Dot Dash

"Dot Dash travelled 300 miles south to Fidelitorium Studios just outside Winston-Salem, North Carolina where, with the legendary Mitch Easter producing, the 10-track Earthquakes & Tidal Waves was recorded. Although perhaps best known for his production work on R.E.M.’s first three records, Chronic Town, Murmur, and Reckoning, plus the band’s original indie 7”, Easter — who added a guitar lead to Earthquakes & Tidal Waves’ album-opening “The Winter of Discontent” and played piano on album closer “Sleep, Sleep” — has been a pivotal figure in melodic, left-of-center, guitar-based music for nearly 35 years, both with his own band, Let’s Active, and as a producer of bands such as The dB’s, Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, Pavement, and Ride, to name just a few."

Dot Dash is a melodic post-punk pop outfit hailing from Washington D.C. The band's latest effort is their Mitch Easter produced "Earthquakes & Tidal Waves" album via The Beautiful Music Records. I want to thank Terry Banks (Guitar/Vocals), Steve Hansgen (Guitar), Hunter Bennett (Bass), and Danny Ingram (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Terry Banks: Cheap Trick, “Live at Budokan”.
Steve Hansgen: The Beatles, “Hey Jude”.
Hunter Bennett:  The Doors, “Greatest Hits”.
Danny Ingram: The Beatles, “Beatles '65”.

Your last album bought?
Terry: Alex Chilton, “Ocean Club '77”.
Steve: Harry Nilsson, “Pandemonium Shadow Show” (mono).
Hunter: “Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats” country compilation.
Danny: Swervedriver, “I Wasn't Born to Lose You”.

Favorite album of all time?
Terry: Haven't listened to it in a long time, but it's Aztec Camera, “High Land, Hard Rain”.
Steve: The Beatles, “Rubber Soul” (UK mono version).
Hunter: Love, “Forever Changes”.
Danny: Today it’s Punishment of Luxury, “Laughing Academy”.

First concert attended?
Terry: AC/DC, with the Pat Travers Band opening, Towson State University, Fall 1979.
Steve: Wings -"Wings Over America" tour. at The Capitol Center, Largo MD, May 1976.
Hunter: Circle Jerks and Better Living at Love Hall in Philadelphia, November 1983.
Danny: Jackson 5, Washington D.C. 1971.

Last concert?
Terry: Dot Dash recently opened for Chris Stamey, so that was the last show I saw. Last one as a pure attendee was I think The Damned at The Black Cat, Washington D.C.
Steve: Lieutenant at Black Cat D.C.
Hunter: The Replacements at Echostage in D.C., May 2015.
Danny: Pixies, Washington D.C.

Favorite concert ever?
Terry: The Go-Betweens, Town & Country Club, London, Summer 1989.
Steve:  Faith's last show, Space II Arcade, D.C., August 1983.
Hunter: The Mekons (acoustic) at Iota in Arlington, VA, 2012.
Danny: The Jam, the Chords, Stiff Little Fingers and Punilux at Loch Lomond, Scotland, 1979.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Terry: I collected beer cans as a kid (it was a big thing in 70s suburbia, at least where I lived.) Iron City Beer had these 16 oz. cans with the Steelers on them -- Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Joe Greene, those guys. I had a few in my collection -- prized possessions at the time...  What else... I think of The Deer Hunter... And Andy Warhol was from Pittsburgh, so there's that.
Steve: My maternal grandfather and his entire Serbian family were from Pittsburgh and I have many happy memories of spending time there. And of course it's also home to the Barbed Wire Dolls!
Hunter: My sister's ex-husband managed the Pittsburgh Pirates a few years ago. That's all I got.
Danny: The last time I played in Pittsburgh was in the early 80s opening for Killing Joke. I had a great time, but their guitarist Geordie had his wardrobe stolen from the dressing room and I seem to recall some fighting with the promoter. Oh... and let's go Caps!

Thanks, fellas. You all have some real cool Pittsburgh connections. Come play a show here sometime.

Monday, June 29, 2015

First/Last-Royal Haunts

"We started out meeting over reading that text
And you had that full-length mirror at the foot of your bed
So every time I lifted your shirt over your head
you said,"Oh, are you watching my back?"

Royal Haunts is the moniker for Pittsburgh indie songwriter Anthony Resch who is offering up his latest synthpop single "Full-Length Mirror" as a free download. Expect some cool things from Tony in the near future as I thank him for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
First one I spent my own real money on was “Millennium” by Backstreet Boys. I must have been six or seven. It was absolutely the cassette. My family stopped at a huge record store on a road trip from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Spun that shit for twenty hours straight in my mom’s Saturn.

Your last album bought?
Isaac Hayes, “For The Sake of Love”. I snagged this one at Dave’s in the South Side for like 4 bucks. He does this super weird spoken word thing with the lyrics as he sings them real softly in the background. It’s odd. But the arrangements are so tight. He had a part in the photography on the cover too, which is sweet because it’s great.

Favorite album of all time?
I’d be lying if I said “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” or “The Suburbs” or “Transference” by Spoon haven’t constantly been in my car since the tenth grade and changed my life in all the best ways, but there’s one that’s just so much more essential then them. When I was 12, my dad was playing a 4th of July gig all the way out in Latrobe, which is like a 40 minute drive from the city. So making that long drive back home with him I was craving some of the “Spiderman 2 Soundtrack”. But as soon as I pop it in, he pops it straight back out. “Not this shit again!” He says. So he sticks his hand in the glove box and pulls out this old scratched up, gray CD. It was David Gray’s “A Century Ends”. We listened to the whole thing on the way home. I had him leave the keys in the car when we pulled into the driveway, and I just sat in the passenger’s seat and listened for hours. I’d never heard someone sing so passionately or lyrics that really touched me like that. That night I picked up the guitar and haven’t set it down since. Seriously, it’s a great record.

“Here watching the night open like a flower
The days start to rust
Time pound a silent hammer on this empire of dust
And I’m thinking about the TV screen
The in the clenched fist
And if we’re searching for peace
How come we still believe in hatred as the catalyst”

That’s my favorite Lyric on the whole damn thing.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I typically don’t not like albums. There’s usually something redeeming in anything. I will tell you though, I was bummed when Kings of Leon’s new one turned out lame. They’re a great band, forever in like the deepest part of my heart, but “Mechanical Bull” is weak as all hell.

First concert attended?
My dad has been a serious reggae guitar player and songwriter his whole live. He toured nationally through the 80’s and 90’s and opened for people like The Clash and the Wailers. I know for a fact that I attended crazy Reggae shows in utero. Probably before I even had ears.

Last concert?
I saw Tame Impala earlier this month. I was not sober. It was nuts.

Favorite concert ever?
I was living in New York my freshman year, and my friend Jess and I were on our way home from a Frightened Rabbit show at like 2 in the morning. There’s not service in the Subway, obviously, so I was just flicking a stale Facebook feed out of boredom. But it was stuck on a post by Phoenix that said they were playing a secret show in Brooklyn the next night. They were going to announce the location at 7am and give 100 tickets out at said location at 10am. Naturally I told Jess and we proceed to flip shit. We didn’t sleep, we just sat up in her room until 6 and hauled ass down to Brooklyn with time to spare. We got tickets and saw Phoenix with 100 people in this tiny club. We met them after. The guitar players and I talked parts for like 20 minutes. It might have been the best day of my life.

Least favorite concert?
I saw Lynyrd Skynyrd at Starlake with my friend and his dad. This was in like 2010. Brett Michaels opened. It sucked.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I’ve lived here most of my life. I grew up in North Side by the Observatory, so the amazing experiences I’ve had here are pretty limitless. I will say though that Pittsburgh is a cultural, academic, rugged, artistic, traditional, innovative city and growing up my parents made sure I saw it all. (Hint: They’re good) So I might not be able to pin one experience down, but if I could go back in time I’d be 4 and looking at the Dinosaurs in the Carnegie with my mom on a Friday afternoon.

Thanks, Tony. That's an awesome Pheonix 'secret show' story. Something you never forget.

Friday, June 26, 2015

First/Last-Andy Van Lewis

"Hailing from the north suburbs of Pittsburgh, Andy Van Luis is a folk singer and guitarist. Accompanied by guitarist Ryan Mincey and bassist Kevin Dilts. Influenced by the greats like Lightnin Hopkins and Leadbelly, as well as modern folk and indie- Andy provides a true American folk experience."

Andy Van Lewis is a folk singer from Pittsburgh who recently released a debut self-titled EP. There is also a brand new live video to accompany one of the tracks on the release called 'Down Far'. I want to thank Andrew Aluise (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first album I ever bought was “Exodus”, Bob Marley & The Wailers. I loved when I heard anything Marley when I was a kid, when I saw this album had ‘Jamming’ on it I made the purchase.

Your last album bought?
Most recently I bought “Monterey”, Milk Carton Kids. Kenneth and Joey guitars and vocals blend extremely well. A truly beautiful album.

Favorite album of all time?
My favorite album would be “Delta Momma Blues”, Townes Van Zandt, he's one of my favorite songwriters, and I think this has the most depth in Townes work. It means a lot to me.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I'd have to say “Amongst the Star”, by Johnny Cash. He wasn't living when it was released, maybe he didn't want it released. I just felt like I was hearing something I shouldn't, it didn't feel like a Cash album.

First concert attended?
The first concert that I bought tickets for and wasn't dragged to was SOJA the reggae band out of D.C. It was a great show at the Altar Bar in Pittsburgh.

Last concert?
Lately I've only gotten to see local bands playing, which I'm fine with. T.S. Steel put on some great show in the Pittsburgh area this winter.

Favorite concert ever?
I saw a John Prine in Pittsburgh last year, I was happy as I could be that night.

Least favorite concert?
I saw a hard rock band (Red) in Amish country and it really sucked.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I think Pittsburgh is going to be a hot spot in the music scene in the very near future. It's a cool city, and there is a good generation of people on the rise in the city that have a love for art/ music, ect.

Thanks, Andy. A rock band in Amish country sounds kinda cool but I'll take your word for it that it wasn't.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

First/Last-Big Quiet

"As with a lot of great bands, when you really listen to Big Quiet, you understand the depth of its attendant members’ music fanship. These three know their source material, whether it’s Athens, GA, in 1982, Scotland in 1988, or New York right now. The Brooklyn trio's knowledge of indie rock and post-punk history is real, and they’ll talk your ear off about it if you ever ask. But what Big Quiet plays isn’t just some kind of stoic record-collector rock. In a live setting, you’re struck by their sheer viscerality and volume. Marisa Cerio’s Rickenbacker can scorch faces, dousing her rapid-fire strumming in treble and reverb. She belts out a song so emphatically, you’d think she’s trying to sing to the next room over. Chris Matheson’s steady, propulsive bass erupts in a gnarl at just the right moments. Stephen Perry’s drum beats are all manic bounce. You don’t take bathroom breaks during Big Quiet’s set. They’ll be onto the next song and the next idea before you get back."

Big Quiet is a classic jangle-pop band out of Brooklyn, NY. Self described as early R.E.M. meets Slant 6, the band recently released their amazing Mitch Easter produced self-titled debut which you can even purchase on a limited edition cassette. You can also pre-order their 'Maura & Dana' 7" on vinyl. I want to thank Marisa Cerio (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I think I bought R.E.M.'s “Out of Time” and Nirvana's “Nevermind” the same day, in 1991. In fact, I think I also bought “Ramones Mania” that day as well. That was a pretty important day at the mall!

Your last album bought?
“Forever Breathes the Lonely Word” by Felt on vinyl-total eBay score! I'm always on the lookout for Felt records on the internet or at record stores/fairs. I worked at a record store in the late 90s/early aughts, and those records were floating around the whole time. I am TOTALLY kicking myself for not picking them up at the time, because they're either super expensive now, or just not around.

Favorite album of all time?
Hmmmm this is really tough. I think it would be impossible to list just one, but in an attempt to only list *a few*-R.E.M.'s “Reckoning”, The Smiths “Meat is Murder”, The Fall “Hex Enduction Hour”, Pylon “Gyrate”, Close Lobsters “Foxheads Stalk This Land”, Miracle Legion “Surprise Surprise Surprise”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
“Monster” by R.E.M. It's not like I think it's the worst album in the world; I actually like some songs on it. But the shock of hearing them emulating the sound of the time, instead of rebelling against, or shaping it was a huge disappointment. There were some songs after that period that were definitely good, but that's sort of the line of demarcation for me-the band I loved/the band that I used to love.

First concert attended?
R.E.M. (BIG SHOCK EH?!) I'm sure I saw other local shows and things before this, but that was the first like big concert I had ever been to.  I remember those tickets sold out immediately, and I was so upset that my mom & dad tracked down tickets for some ungodly amount from some scalper so I could go. They hadn't toured since “Green”, so there was a huge amount of pent up energy tied to  that show. I made it though!

Last concert?
Dead Moon! That was a seriously awesome show. J. Mascis opened up with a solo set of amazing, endless shredding (which I'd normally hate, but when it's J. Mascis, it's a different story). Dead Moon were really great. Toody Cole has this incredible voice that just feels absolutely natural-zero affectation. She is just the most badass person ever. If i am even a tenth as cool as she is when I'm nearing 70, I will be set.

Favorite concert ever?
Hmmm, this is also gonna be a tough one. I recently saw Primal Scream, and that was amazing-mostly because of my very close proximity to Bobby Gillespie the entire time. My first R.E.M. concert was obviously special (even though my dream concert of theirs would have been at The Pier in NC, 1982… but I was only two years old). I saw Cat Power years ago in a tiny basement venue with only a few people there, and she played piano and guitar intermittently to score a silent film about Joan of Arc. That was really beautiful. I also saw Robyn Hitchcock at one point when Peter Buck was playing guitar for him. Like a total freak, I got there early and staked out a spot right in front of where he would be standing, and spent the duration of the show starring up at him like some kind of scary maniac. I did get to meet him that night though (even if it did mean practically shoving Robyn Hitchcock out of my way to get to him).

Least favorite concert?
I recently saw Suicide. I knew that it was probably going to be a dicey show, but said screw it, I don't know how many more opportunities I'll have to see them again, so let's DO this! It was fun to watch Martin Rev bash his hands against a synth every once in a while, but overall, it was mostly just depressing to see Alan Vega sitting in a chair, barely squeaking out a few words here and there. I knew it wasn't going to be the type of show where everyone is singing along to some perfectly performed rendition of an old classic, but I could have done with some reference to… something?

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Well, I've never been to Pittsburgh, but I have a few friends from there. I can tell from all of their collective awesomeness that it seems like a real, true rock city-and maybe one that doesn't take itself too seriously. I might just be saying that based solely on the awe-inspiring goofiness of The Gotobeds though.  Hopefully I'll get to play there sometime soon so that I can confirm that suspicion for myself!

Thanks, Marisa. I totally feel your love for all things early R.E.M. I first saw them on their 'Pageantry Tour' in '86 and have been obsessed ever since!