Rock Interviews

A Delete Bin Exclusive: The Classic Rock Interview

Rock ‘n’ roll stories, are just like other tales of questing heroes. They follow a pattern. It’s  just like Joseph Campbell said.

This starts from young enthusiasm, to paying one’s dues in squalor, to rising fame, to the pinnacle of that fame, and moves ever onward around the cycle. And by onward around the cycle, we mean going down through the underworld of rock excess – the women, the drugs, the concept albums – and upward again, after the blaze of glory has long been extinguished for many a grizzled rock ‘n’ roll hero.

Then, comes the classic comeback. Some cynics out there might say the classic re-sell. Writer, music fan, and rock ‘n’ roll sceptic Geoff Moore is such a cynic …

Interview With Ron Sexsmith Post Love Shines

Over the last few weeks here at the Delete Bin, some of you have read a couple of pieces about Ron Sexsmith, and about the movie Love Shines, which is in part about his latest record Long Player Late Bloomer.

I wrote a review of the film Love Shines.

I even ran a Ron Sexsmith Love Shines contest that sent two of my commenters for drinks and a chat with Ron, and Love Shines director Douglas Arrowsmith.

Today is the third installment in the Long Player Late Bloomer/Love Shines Ron Sexsmith trilogy here on the Delete Bin, and a great honour it is to present it to you here: the Ron Sexsmith interview.

I asked him about the movie, and what he thought of its central character. I asked him about mainstream success, and about some of his heroes who have also been at the center of recent films  contemporary to this one. And of course, I asked him about fan support, and how he sees the future unfolding for himself as a songwriter and performer, post-biopic.

It’s a big thrill for me to have had the chance to do it, given that Ron is nothing short of one of my favourite songwriters of all time. And Ron himself was very generous with his time and his responses, given that (at the time of this writing) he’s on tour, and about to play the Rio Theatre here in Vancouver.

Here is that interview, conducted via email a few days before the show.

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Interview with Hushdrops, Who Play ‘Divine’

Listen to this track by Midwestern psyche-pop masters Hushdrops, made up of John San Juan, Joe Camarillo, and Jim Shapiro. It’s “Divine” a sumptuous Brian Wilsonesque tune featured on the group’s 2003 album, Volume 1. The song reveals the band’s love for the Beatles and the Beach Boys,  along with heavy dollops of late ’60s chamber pop, so much so that the Webb Brothers (sons of Jimmy) covered one of the songs (“Summer People”).

When it comes to “Divine”, this is one of those songs that you don’t so much hear, as be enfolded by, taken up to some sonic high place via strings and ah-ah backing vocals, along with drummer and co-writer Joe Camarillo’s plaintive lead vocal.

Joe Camarillo and John San Juan of Hushdrops

Yet, this isn’t the whole picture with the band, who regularly played shows that demonstrated their live rock chops. As such, the group seems to live quite comfortably in the ‘slash’ in pop/rock.

Well, I talked to the song’s co-writers, multi-instrumentalist John San Juan and with drummer and singer Joe Camarillo, via email about this song, about the record, about that slash between pop and rock, and about ‘making the listener feel loved’

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Interview With Common Grackle Performing ‘The Great Depression’

Here’s a clip of indie singer-songwriter/hip-hop outfit Common Grackle, with the singer-songwriter aspect covered nicely by indie-pop proponent Gregory Pepper and the hip-hop textures as laid down by producer Factor. Yet, is the stylistic split as easy as that? Probably not. What the collaboration signifies most is the seamlessness between styles. As such, this is a true 21st Century concern where genres mean very little, and with this song being the title track to the full-length The Great Depression.

Another aspect of all of this is how the record was made, involving less garage space, and more Internet bandwidth. The two artists built the record together, with musical ideas added by way of file sharing. With the meeting of pop melody and crackling beats together with psychedelic sonic swirls that evoke pop tributaries spanning the decades, one can only conclude that it’s its own thing, offering some of the features of what’s been laid down before, but ultimately unbound by any one genre. And we haven’t even got around to talking about the lyrics, heavy with irony and dark comic timing.

After the record was popped in the post for me, and after a spin or two, I talked to the guys via email about musical divisions of labour, undercutting listener expectations (aka “fucking with people”), beer accessibility quotients from city to city, and about their live shows. (more…)

Interview with Sand River, Performing “A Letter (To The Lovers of Emma)”

Listen to this track from guitar/drums duo from Durham, England Sand River, made up up of guitarist/lyricist/singer Simon Robinson, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Guy Siviour. It’s the final track on their 6 track EP, the cleverly titled  Sand River EP currently for sale on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Sure, these guys eschew a bass player, and have some blues influences on some tracks.  But don’t stripe these guys white or make with the black keystrokes just yet.

Sand River liberally use folk picking, jazz-inflected drumming, and hypnotic time signature experiments that go far beyond what you might think of as viable for an indie two-piece. Guitar and drums are used less as blunt instruments and more like sonic paintbrushes, with Robinson’s vocals way up front. The lyrical content is also expansive, perfectly suited to music that takes its time, rather than taking no prisoners.

I spoke to the guys about the perils and pleasures of a minimalist instrumental set-up, how less really can be more, and more details about who this Emma might be.


Interview With Carmen Townsend At The Railway Club, Vancouver

Listen to this track by unabashed rock singer-songwriter from Sydney, Nova Scotia, Carmen Townsend. It’s a key track off of her upcoming record Waitin’ and Seein’ released January 25, “Without My Love”.  It’s one of many tunes she offered to an adoring crowd on January 11 at Vancouver’s Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir Street) to ramp up the release.

I was invited along to the event to see the show and to get a chance to meet Carmen. After the show, I got to ask her about how the record came together, about how she felt free to share her songs to begin with, about how Loretta Lynn figures into her music, and about her next exciting step as a performer; going on tour with a couple of her heroes. Here are my impressions of the show, and that brief interview on video too.


Interview With Bill Majoros of The Foreign Films

Listen to this track by Hamilton Ontario psych-pop outfit with post-punk overtones the Foreign Films, a vehicle for the songwriting of former Flux A.D member Bill Majoros. It’s “Fire From Spark” as taken from the Foreign Films EP, a herald to the upcoming full length album currently in production as of this writing.

If one can pin a key musical arc onto the best of music from the Twenty-first century so far, it would be that the divisions between genres and eras of pop music have become very, very fuzzy indeed. This is perfectly illustrated by the Foreign Films, a concern that shares a family tree with acts who are pushing the pop envelope including Feist, Great Lake Swimmers, and Holy Fuck.

Putting new meaning to the word ‘pop gems’, the facets which you get on multiple listens to the EP reveals the influences of post-punk, ’60s girl group sounds, and pop-psychedelic excursions, just to start with.

I spoke with Bill Majoros, the central figure to the Foreign Films in all of the band’s incarnations on record and on stage. We talked via email about connections with pop music past, about crafting a sound as personal soundtrack to one’s experience, and about what the seemingly disparate worlds of classic soul music and modern indie music have in common.


Wildlife Perform “Move To the City”

Listen to this track by epic Toronto art-rock-via-power-pop concern, collectively known as Wildlife. It’s ‘Move To the City’ a track taken off of their full-length release Strike Hard, Young Diamond released November 16. The release is an expanded version of an EP released earlier in the year under the same name, and positively reviewed across the board by local Toronto press.

The theme of ambition and self-awareness seems to shine through in this tune. This is a tale of listlessness and the pesky feeling that all that is promised by our culture about the rewards associated with getting a job and growing up may not be all they’re cracked up to be.

The record is described by the band themselves as “an understanding of what it is to be naive and full of spark: it embraces our failures, nurtures our successes; and most importantly, it celebrates them“.

I spoke to Wildlife member Dean Povinsky on behalf of the band about anthems, maintaining balance within a band, about  the goal of being on stage and being in the audience at the same time, and about the vital importance of continuity in following where artistic impulse lead . Here’s that interview.

Just Duggy & the Insurgents Perform “A Man Walks Into A Bar”

Listen to this track from British indie singer-songwriter, and Sunderland son Just Duggy and his band, the Insurgents. It’s “A Man Walks Into A Bar”, a tale of excess, empty promises, and a woman wearing nothing much more than a belt.  The track is taken from Duggy’s debut record, There and Back Again, which you can download for FREE!

The record was recorded guerilla-style, “after everyone had gone home”, leaving Duggy and his three compatriots to run wonderfully amok in the studio. The result is a rough-hewn blend of rockabilly, jangle-pop, and folk punk, covering topics ranging from the shallow nature of so-called reality T.V,  the dubious honour of serving in wars, and even religon sold as a product to be sold door-to-door.

I spoke with Duggy via email and asked him about self-promotion, topical songwriting, great lyricists of the North, and the art of nabbing studio time on the fly.

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Charge of the Light Brigade Plays ‘Young Love’

Here’s a clip by post-punk-progressive-pop Torontonian collective Charge of the Light Brigade, led by singer-songwriter Luke Sneyd and producer Marc Koetcher, further enabled by bassist Jason Eagen and Zack Mykula behind the kit.  It’s “Young Love”, the lead track off of the band’s current EP We Haven’t Been Properly Introduced, the harbinger for the upcoming full-length The Defiant Ones, to be released later this year.

In this 21st century, with a legacy of pop music of various strains behind him, Luke Sneyd’s songwriting has plenty of wells from which to draw, first starting a guitarist, then as a solo act, and with a band or two besides along the way.

With his latest project, Charge of the Light Brigade, Luke has created a BIG rock band, pulling from punk, progressive rock, Pixies-inspired hard rock, and power pop.  The mix is unified with an Anglicized flavour for anthemic 80s British post punk that touches on the Psychedelic Furs, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Icicle Works, just to name a few.

I spoke to Luke about major labels, the role of the producer, and out and out heroism in putting music across in the increasingly competitive field of rock music … (more…)