Last Saturday I was able to experience my first ever Windy City Soul Club. I planned ahead and got there early enough to forego any sort of line in the god-forsaken cold and planted myself firmly at the bar. I watched quietly as more and more people rolled in beaming from ear to ear. “Haven’t they been outside” I thought to myself, “What the hell’s wrong with these people?” I sat at the bar a while longer before finally venturing out onto the dance floor. Don’t get me wrong, usually I’m first in line to get down, but somehow being at Windy City alone felt like the most depressing situation on the planet. “Why is everyone so happy?” I grumpily wondered until, that is, I finally made it to the dance floor.
It was like I stepped through some invisible wall and transcended into a new room just bursting with good vibes. Everyone around me was pulling out all the best moves with no intention of stopping insight. I couldn’t help but start to smile and get down, even if I was alone. “Windy City Soul, where have you been my whole life?” was the new thought racing through my head.
Aside from all the joyous dancing and people watching, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the men behind the turntables. You know, the ones beaming down at you as they watch you experience some of their most loved hits for the first time. Read on and discover the birth of Windy City Soul, where to find the best hits (yeah, right), and the most important part of Windy City Soul (*spoiler alert*: it’s all of you).
Having freshly dropped out of college just as Crocodiles’ debut album was released, I listened to Summer of Hate on repeat for days. Their fuzzy, pop sound and macabre lyrics fueled my angsty soul. Now, three albums later, with Crimes of Passion out on French Kiss Records, Crocodiles are still going strong, honing in on their own individual take on rock & roll. I got to sit and chat with Brandon Welchez, one of the men behind the Ray Ban’s, and discuss reflections of past lives, recording in the Mojave Desert, and the pros to living 3,500 miles away from your band mate.
This year I celebrated Halloween the right way with three out-of-this-world sets from The Hussy, Outer Minds, and Seattles Night Beats, each of which sent chills down my spine. I got to spend some extra spooky (is there a better word than that?) time with The Hussy and the Night Beats and discuss pyro-technics, the best part of psych fest, and their favorite abnormal creatures…
NIGHT BEATS INTERVIEW
If I had to describe THE SPITS in one phrase it’d be “short, sweet, and to the point.” A philosophy that transcends both their music, and their daily lives, THE SPITS aren’t ones to fuck around. Read on as I carve some jack-o-lanterns with the kings of all things gruesome and discuss what really happens when you crowd surf with a broken leg, the making of their not-so-wholesome merch, and what “Punk for the People” means to them…
ASHLEIGH DYE: So your newest album, Nature Noir, (out on Sacred Bones) just came out, where did the concept for this album originate? Was there a specific writing process that you had?
JB TOWNSEND: The songs came about the way they have for a while, it was just practices and jams, working them out. In terms of the concept of the album that was lyrically, the noir thing. Noir is anything man made so it’s just the idea that “nature noir” doesn’t really make that much sense. However, in a sense, we are affecting nature and that sort of back and forth dynamic is the concept of the record.
AD: So that sort of juxtaposition really fueled the album. How does writing with five people go? Way back when it was just you two, then you grew to this five piece. Do you guys have a certain process you try and stick to?
BRAD HARGETT: I don’t know, the thing is, back then, I would mainly play the guitar, and then the arrangement of the song after but, the drums and the bass were pretty simple. It was not generic but exactly the bass line you’d expect for the song. Now we have other people, and they get it, they get the band so they can just play whatever they want. We trust them to play what’s good and fits. It naturally works together.
JBT: It’s both easier and harder. I feel like a lot of things come easier because everyone is in charge of writing a part so you don’t have to deal with that, but there’s also five opinions and when we used to play we’d just play for 15 minutes or whatever but now everyone’s like ‘wait’, ‘no, wait’ ‘wait’, so it’s both better and harder.
AD: I really like the video for “Star Crawl”; I think it’s a great embodiment of the concept for the album. So how did the filming and planning for that go?
BH: Well we started out with a very simple idea that I kind of had, then our friend Dan got in touch with me and said he really, really wanted to do a video. So we met up and talked about it and then made a plan to do it. They went upstate, I didn’t go, I had to work, and it was a complete disaster.
So, there I am, standing around, drinking a Tecate, waiting for the tunes to start, when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see a blonde bob behind a pink sparkly mask. I know instantly who it is, the words she’s saying to me are lost as I excitedly think to myself “that’s Miss Pussycat. Its Miss Pussycat!” Without absorbing any of what she was saying I blurt out “You’re Miss Pussycat!” Before I know it I starting hearing words like “big fan”, “idol”, and “favorite role model” spewing out. I stand there cringing at my own ‘fan-girl’ outburst. Before I can do anymore damage I calmly stop myself and say “can’t wait to see ya play,” as I walk away.
Considering I’ve had about a million solo dance parties while listening to some of Quintron and Miss P’s albums, I had pretty high expectations for the set ahead. I’d been pining to see them in the flesh for years and now it was happening, there was Quintron’s infamous Hammond-Fender Rhodes-car hybrid, there was the puppet theater Miss P would perform in and I had a spot front and center, I felt like a child on Christmas morning.
True free spirits are gems that are few and far between. You know who I’m talking about, those rare birds that are unabashedly themselves, who do what makes them happy, who don’t associate success with happiness. The Cosmic Psychos are those rare birds. Trade in those Tevas for some work boots and your Kombucha for a PBR: The Psychos are a new breed of free spirit – a group of men who aren’t driven by profit and who represent a sense of songwriting as honest as Daniel Johnston. I had the pleasure of sitting with the Psychos to discuss that damn kangaroo problem, why the Psychos never made it rich, the price you play for playing in America, and what makes it all worth it…
There are few things in this world that improve with time: a fine wine, scotch, Daniel Radcliff and now, No Age. Almost a decade into playing together and the LA based punk duo is still going strong.
Now, sitting across from me, bathed in sunlight, and full of smiles, No Age fills us in on the making of ‘An Object’ (out this past August on Sub Pop), the importance of transitions, and meeting Prince… First, check out some pictures of their early show @ the Empty Bottle on Saturday, September 14th.
ASHLEIGH DYE: I ’m really impressed at your guys’ commitment to hand package and create 5,000 LP sleeves and 5,000 CD sleeves. You decided to do this before the album was finished – how did this affect the writing for this album?
DEAN SPUNT: It gave me a big motivation to write for the record. Before that we had tried and I think it felt like we were going down the same path as we’d been to before – get together, make a record, do a tour – and I think that wasn’t very inspiring to me and I think that this idea helped me work through it. It gave me a goal besides just making a record.
AD: I’m sure it made it a lot more personal, since you’d physically be making what the record was put in.
DS: Yeah, it kind of helped give the record some context instead of just making music for the sake of making music, which is not bad but for me it needed something to help it along.
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After a long, slow drive from St. Louis, Bare Mutants finally arrive at the Bottle for their official album release show for The Affliction, out last month on In the Red. The album takes you deep into the smooth dreamland of leader Jered Gummere with the help of fellow Chicago scene staples, Jeanine O’Toole (vocals) of the 1900s and Seth Bohn (bass) from Mannequin Men, along with talented friends Leslie Deckard (keys) and Matt Holland (drums). The Affliction is perfect for those chilly, overcast days where you dedicate yourself to doing nothing but staring into space and pondering your life.
Sitting across from me, clad in all white, chain smoking cigarettes and guzzling iced coffees, we discuss: how cool is white on white, life as a new father, and who they’d want to play dodge ball against.
JERED GUMMERE: What do you think of these white outfits? I guess it’s too late to change…
ASHLEIGH DYE: I’m into it. With the white backdrops; you guys are doing a white out. I’m into monochromatic things… So first of all – I have to say that band names and the naming of things fascinate me – so why Bare Mutants?
JG: [laughing] Well, because I went to a name generator on the Internet and that was the first one that came up that I was like, not too bad!
I was running late to the first installment of this new interview series, mostly on account of the always-dangerous wine and porch combination.
Rushing to the Bottle, I walked in to see a beaming, full-mouthed smile from one of the most well manicured man I’ve seen to date. It belonged to none other than Mr. TAV FALCO, this past Saturday’s headliner. His band seemed newly-assembled and a tad unfocused during their set – not to mention there were no guitars being chainsawed like back in the old days – but Tav & his Panther Burns still brought the heat, leaving us with some deliciously fried ears and brains. Though often credited as the man who “invented psycho-billy” to those who have never heard of HASIL ADKINS, there’s no denying Tav’s charm and hip-shaking moves are still damn contagious. After the set was finished and the fans had filtered out, I had the pleasure of chatting with Tav about the gems you can uncover while thrifting in Memphis and our shared love of leopard print details. A lovely gentleman, that Tav.
The rising star of the night, however, was young Daniel Fromberg. “BOOK HIM AGAIN” was the note I read from Bottle staff after the show and he got a nice write-up in his hometown paper (Oak Park) following the show. Curious at the young star’s abilities I immediately went to his Bandcamp site. Daniel’s tracks are dripping in shoegaze with some industrial undertones; this kid knows what’s up. I mean really, where was this kid when I was 13? It’s like if Kevin Shields had Trent Reznor’s bastard child and raised him alone – hopefully we’ll hear more from Daniel in the near future.
Photos & Words by ASHLEIGH DYE