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Tomatrax

An independent online music magazine

Interview with Slow Fades

Slow Fades are a new project with an impeccable Australian indie pedigree. Led by songwriter Ben Birchall (Klinger, The Corrections, Duke Batavia) and multi-instrumentalist Dave Rogers (D.Rogers, Ben Lee)Slow Fades is the widescreen sound of four musicians who know each other inside and out, but are still searching for something just over the canyon.

Tomatrax caught up with the band to ask a few questions.

How did the band form?

Dave Rogers: Ben had a batch of new songs that he was planning to play at a solo show, supporting some friends of ours. He wanted to try a couple of the songs with an extra guitar but that quickly turned into thinking about the songs as band arrangements. We had a rehearsal with Daz and Glenn who were also in Klinger and it felt right. We looked around at each other and  said “We might have ourselves a band”

Where did the name Slow Fades come from?

Dave: We’ve all been playing music for a long time and we wanted a name that reflected that. Yeah, we’re fading but we’re doing it as slowly as we can.

Ben: Dave originally came up with ‘The Fades’ and I thought we might be around longer if we slowed it down a little.

You’re about to put out your debut EP, hoes does it feel to have it finished and ready to go?

Dave: Feels good, man! We haven’t made music together in a long time so to create something new with people you have long histories with is one of the best things. We didn’t have strong expectations of what we wanted it to sound like and let the EP find it’s own path.

Where did the name Canyon Songs come from?

Ben: The first two songs I wrote for Slow Fades were a bit of a song cycle set in Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles in 1970. The first one, Eucalyptus, is about the hot, dry summer after the Manson Family murders, from the perspective of a young screenwriter trying to make it in LA amidst bushfires and vapid people. The second, Leave The Canyon, was about somebody’s misguided attempt at saving somebody from what he sees as a bad situation. But you can never save anyone. When it came to naming the EP, it felt like there was a theme running through the songs – falling down and getting back up again. Sometimes that can feel like a canyon.

What was the inspiration behind the EP’s cover?

Ben: Our drummer Darren is a really talented graphic designer who works with a lot of bands and our brief was basically to make something feel old and new at the same time, and to take inspiration from architecture as much as art. He came back with that cover and it felt like ‘windows’ into the world of the songs. Which we dug.

You recorded the album in bursts over the past 12 months, what made you take on this approach?

Dave: There was nothing deliberate about this approach and ideally, we would’ve knocked it off much faster but everyone in the band is involved in a lot of projects and time to get everyone together was hard to find. In a way though, being able to take our time made this recording stronger. We were able to let ideas sit and mature and push ourselves outside what we’re normally comfortable with

Was it hard to maintain the EP’s musical continuity when recording in this manner?

Dave: Not at all. The songs have a strong thread that ties them together and I don’t think there’s anything we could have done production wise to take that away.

Each of you have been involved in numerous projects over the years, did this make you feel any pressure when working on your latest work?

Dave: The opposite was true for this EP I reckon. We put no pressure on ourselves to make the music sound like anything we’ve done before or for us to be anything we’re not. That’s why I think there’s a ring of honesty about these recordings. There are rough edges and rock ‘n’ roll moments that we deliberately didn’t flatten out in mixing. There are scratch guitars  and one-take vocals all over this thing.

You previously played with Klinger, how does your latest project compare with Klinger?

Dave: Klinger was very good to us but that was a long time ago and it’s been great to make music with the same people and not have to sound like we’re 20 years old. It’s nice to hear how we’ve grown as musicians and to hear the confidence we have around the decisions we make. It’s grown-up music which I wouldn’t have wanted to say in the past but now I don’t give a fuck.

Klinger appeared in TISM’s video for ‘Thunderbirds Are Coming Out’, how did that come about?

Dave: I don’t know but Ben probably knows the story. They needed 80 Melbourne indie bands for the video and we were one of them. All I remember is having to get to the location at 6am and waiting for  about 6 hours for them to start shooting.

Ben: We were on the same label as TISM at time, Shock Records. And Shock basically strong-armed all of their bands into showing up at 6am to an abandoned wharf at Docklands. This is before it was Docklands, when it was just…docks. It’s funny, people really react to that video, and there is a family of musicians who can say ‘we were there’. Nick O’Mara, who plays in Raised By Eagles and Amarillo (who are supporting us at our launch on November 25 at the Thornbury Theatre) was in it too! So we’re family.

You’ve been making music for around two decades now, is it hard to keep coming up with new material?

Dave: Yes and no. The coming up with material is less of a challenge as making time to come up with new material. Ben and I can write and work fast when the conditions are right but we’re still listening to new records so we’re never short on inspiration.

Ben: Constantly reinventing and playing with new themes helps. Even jumping around instruments can help. This is the most direct, indie-rock stuff we’ve made in a decade or so, but we needed to take some time off to get back to it.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

Dave: I produced the record so I feel like I’ve listened to these songs a million times but after a few months break, I’ll go back and listen with fresh ears.

Ben: Sure. Not all of it, but some of it. I’m really proud of the music we’ve made and like to check back in from time to time to remind myself that we made it.

What other music do you listen to?

Dave: Ben been obsessed with Brian Eno recently and that informed some of the decisions on this EP. I think the new Robyn record is killer.

Ben: It’s true, I’ve been in an Eno hole for the last few months. Years maybe. But I also love good honest direct guitar music like East Brunswick All Girl Choir or Courtney Barnett (any of the Milk Records stuff really). Also new stuff that reminds me of old stuff, like Father John Misty or Foxygen.

What do you have planned once the EP is launched?

Dave: We’re already writing the next release so we’ll get our calendars out and find some time to record in the new year. I want to hire a house in the country and set up for a week and make the record that way.

Ben: Yeah half way through writing the next release, and being more collaborative with Dave for the next one on the songwriting front. We’re working some of his songs into the live set and getting him on lead vocals for a few. So the next release will feel even more like a band record.

 

Check out Slow Fades’ website to find out more!

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Beauty in Chaos presents ‘Look Up’ ft. Tish Ciravolo & Grammy nominee Michael Rozon (Ministry)

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Los Angeles-based Beauty in Chaos have announced their impending vinyl release of their debut album ‘Finding Beauty in Chaos’. Slated for November 30, 33.3 Music Collective will be offering almost 80 minutes of music, curated by guitarist Michael Ciravolo on deluxe CD and limited-edition heavy weight, colored vinyl. Ahead of that, they present their new single ‘Look Up’ feat.Tish Ciravolo. The accompanying video was produced by Industrialism Films and directed by Vicente Cordero.

Earlier the band previewed the singles ‘Man of Faith’ feat. Wayne Hussey of The Mission and Simon Gallup of The Cure, as well as ‘Storm’ feat. Ashton Nyte (The AwakeningMGT).

 

Born of frustration and creativity, this project an audio assemblage curated by LA-based guitarist Michael Ciravolo and produced by Ministry’s Grammy-nominated producer Michael Rozon at Ciravolo’s own SAINTinLA Studio.

“Once I set up my turntable, I immediately listened to a bunch of vinyl from the late ‘80s 4AD period and shoegaze. Cocteau Twins, Lush, Slowdive and, of course, My Bloody Valentine.  Inspired, I picked up my guitar and run it through an excessive amount of delay and reverb.  Once I hit on that main riff, I knew it would be a perfect song for my wife to sing.  I thought she delivered a melodic and lyric homerun,” says Michael Ciravolo.

Originally from New Orleans and now based in Los Angeles, Michael Ciravolo has played guitar in Human Drama for the past 30 years, most recently on ‘Broken Songs for Broken People’ (2017). Perhaps best known as President of Schecter Guitar Research, he has also played live and recorded with Michael Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel since 1998. In 2015, he was joined by wife Tish Ciravolo, founder of Daisy Rock Guitars.

“When you randomly meet someone and instantly know that you want to create a history with them, that is what I call magic. Everyone’s family history is different but I wanted to change what I had grown up in and create a loving home life including dogs, cats and kids,” says Tish Ciravolo.

“My fear is now, with the advent of cell phones, that people are so busy looking down at their phones they are missing life.  See the moon outside my window?  See the stars up in the sky?  There is magic in the air – don’t miss that magic, that chance in life to randomly meet someone that you want to create a history with and LOOK UP.”

Hopping from band to band and inching ever-closer but never getting to that elusive record deal, Tish Ciravolo became the quintessential L.A. rock queen, having played in numerous bands including Rag Dolls, The Velvets, They Eat Their Own, StunGun and eventually her own band Shiksa and the Sluts.

Combining a lifelong passion for making music with a desire to “level the playing field” for dedicated female guitarists and bassists of all ages, Tish Ciravolo founded Daisy Rock Girl Guitars in 2000. Ciravolo’s dream that “every girl who wants to play guitar is welcomed and inspired to do so.. This was my chance—my duty—to change the culture and provide her and all girls with a better, more inviting experience.”

Ciravolo’s focus on female empowerment and females in music has been immortalized by her induction into the Museum of Making Music, the world’s premier museum showcasing the history of the music products industry. In 2009, Tish participated in NAMM’s Oral History project and received Guitar Goddess Magazine’s “Trailblazer Award.” In 2010, Daisy Rock was inducted into The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ, and Tish received the Searchlight Scholar award from the Women’s Executive Leadership Summit at the University of Wisconsin School of Business. At the 2012 NAMM Show, Tish Ciravolo was honored with the “She Rocks Award.” Ciravolo has spoken at Ted Talks, the Musicians Institute and NAMM and has been featured in national and international media outlets such as USA Today, People, Time, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, FOX, VH1, the Premier Radio Network, BBC Radio, and the Associated Press.

 

The debut album ‘Finding Beauty in Chaos’ features a beautiful collection of music luminaries, including Wayne Hussey (The Mission), Simon Gallup (The Cure), Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Al Jourgensen(Ministry), Pete Parada (The Offspring), dUg Pinnick (Kings X), ICE-T(Body Count), Michael Aston (Gene Loves Jezebel), Michael Anthony (Van Halen), Dirk Doucette (Gene Loves Jezebel), Ashton Nyte (The Awakening), Pando (A Flock of Seagulls), Evi Vine (Evi Vine), Betsy Martin (Caterwaul / Purr Machine), Marc Danzeisen (The Riverdogs), Kevin Kipnis (Purr Machine / Kommunity FK), Rudy Matchinga (Red Scare) and Johnny Indovina (Human Drama).

 

Check out the Beauty in Chaos websiteto find out more!

THE TWILIGHT SAD SHARE NEW SINGLE ‘VTr’

 

Today, Glasgow’s The Twilight Sad return with the latest single from their fifth full-length – and their first for their new label Rock Action Records – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time, which arrives on 18th January 2019. This time around it’s the driving, motorik ‘VTr’ getting an airing, a propulsive number that the band describe as being one of the album’s “most important” moments.

 


Speaking of the track, frontman James Alexander Graham says: Andy [MacFarlane, guitarist] called the song VTr at the demo stage of writing and we decided to stick with that when it came time to decide on track titles. After the album had been finished and all the songs had been named, as I was walking my wife into the hospital as she was going into labour with our son, I looked down at the pavement and spray painted there was “VTR”.” I think the line “there’s no love to small” is one of the most hopeful I’ve ever written – seeing that song title on the ground as I was entering the hospital to have the most life-affirming moment in my life blew my mind. That line came into my head one dark day as all I could see was bad news all around me and all I needed was a bit of good news or compassion to get me through the day no matter how small. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it so the lines “I won’t be surprised if it kills us all” came soon after.”

MacFarlane delves deeper into the song’s origins, offering, “Scott [Hutchison] had asked if we could work together on a song and when I was trying to find a starting point he had been talking about how he “could listen to Brian Eno talk shite all day”. So, I took ‘The Big Ship’ from Another Green World, put sections of it in a sampler and made up some loops so I could play along to it on the guitar, and developed the melodies and chords from there. I had been saving from a previous demo that by chance seemed to fit over the chords without doing much to them, so it was kind of a happy accident how that came together.” 

While the 11 tracks that comprise IWBLTATT largely began to take form during the band’s lengthy recent tours with The Cure, it wasn’t until returning to the UK and the isolation of his London home, that MacFarlane distilled the band’s collective aspirations – to find immediacy in their writing, to bring a new hugeness to the often dark matter of their songs – into demos for their fifth LP. Following six months of pre-production, his vision was made flesh during a productive residency in a remote rehearsal space on Loch Fyne last November. Eager to keep momentum, the band subsequently tracked their efforts at Devon’s Middle Farm Studios with long serving live engineer Andy Bush in January of this year.


For this record, Graham and MacFarlane officially brought long-time touring members Brendan Smith (The Blue Nile, The Unwinding Hours) and Johnny Docherty (Take a Worm For a Walk Week, RUNGS) in from the wings to help push The Twilight Sad to the next level. The results speak for themselves: an exhilarating listen, by turns cinematic and claustrophobic in its scope, the band dug deep to produce It Won’t Be Like This All the Time, and it’s perhaps their most raw and dynamic record to date.

“It’s a dark record but I think there are some uplifting moments to be had too,” Graham offers. “There are so many extremes here – there are moments that are harsh, then others that are quite melodic and others that are stripped right down. This album definitely comes with the extremes of every side of the band, I think. There’s a certain direct openness and candour now but at the same time I want to keep some mystery. We don’t like to throw things in people’s faces and spell it out for them.”  

Check out The Twilight Sad’s website to find out more!

 

Interview with Parabola West

Parabola West is back with her new single ‘Calling Your Name’. The artist persona of New Zealand-based American singer and songwriter Amy Tucker West. Tomatrax caught up with Ms West to talk about her music.

You’re about to release your latest single, how does it feel to have it finished and ready to go?

It feels great! It’s such a relief, because holding on to a finished song is so difficult for me.

Are there plans for an LP or EP release to follow?

The next couple of releases will also be singles, but a full debut album is indeed brewing. I think the main ingredient lacking right now is funding, but one way or another it will happen.

You were previously in the band Dreamfield, how does performing solo compare to being in a band?

Performing solo was a bit terrifying at first, and it felt like I was starting all over from the beginning because it had been so long since the Dreamfield days.  But now I absolutely love it, and I feel the emotions in the room and it’s like a conversation unfolding with the audience. Eventually I’d love to perform with a band again, but for now I’m keeping the setup really basic and self-contained.

You relocated from the USA to New Zealand, how does making music in New Zealand compare with the USA?

Here in New Zealand it’s much easier to access people who are at the top of their field because the country is so small by comparison. But at the same time, the size of the USA brings far more opportunities to perform and be heard.  The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the way that audiences behave. For example, Kiwis are quite reserved during a show whereas the Americans are much more likely to hoot and cheer if they like something. I’ve learned to appreciate the differences.

You’re also a “self confessed math and science” nerd, do your interests in math and science ever influence your music?

Absolutely! Music is inherently mathematical with its vibrating frequencies and structured number patterns. Math can be so beautiful when it’s expressed through art. I like to experiment with tuning frequencies, for example ‘Calling Your Name’ is recorded in 432Hz instead of the standard 440Hz. My thoughts on math and science are interlinked with my awe at the universe and my sense of spirituality, and I do think those themes come out in my songwriting.

Where did the name Parabola  come from?

I was working on an at-home science project to build a parabolic solar heater, and during that project I became a bit obsessed with parabolas. A parabolic curve can receive light from any direction, for example, and focus it onto a fixed point. I realised that music acts like a parabola for me because it allows me to take all the chaos of my emotions and focus them into a song. It’s weird, I know, but that’s how it happened.

What made you decide to use a (sort of) stage name rather than your actual name?

When I left my corporate career to focus on music full-time, I really wanted a fresh rebranding. A stage name felt like it came with permission to fully explore the creative and whimsical within. And also, I wanted something that would perform well with search engines and be easy to find.

Do you ever listen to your own music?

After the recording process I usually need a long break from whatever I’ve been working on, but every now and again I totally listen to my own music!

What other music do you listen to?

I’ve been discovering a lot of Scandinavian synthpop bands lately and really enjoying that, and I spend many evenings listening to world music with intense instrumentation.

What do you have planned once your single is released?

I’ll continue doing my online shows as well as traditional gigs over the summer, and then once fundraising is complete my goal is to be back into the studio doing it all again!

Check out Parabola West’s webpage to find out more!

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