9:30 VIDEO: Tame Impala
Kevin and Dom of Tame Impala were nice enough to answer our questions, and your fan questions, backstage before their sold out show at 9:30 Club! Check it out!
9:30 VIDEO: Tame Impala
Kevin and Dom of Tame Impala were nice enough to answer our questions, and your fan questions, backstage before their sold out show at 9:30 Club! Check it out!
9:30 INTERVIEW: The Vaccines
Over the weekend we caught up with Vaccines drummer Pete Robertson and talked about Pop, Satisfaction, and living out boyhood dreams. Check it out and catch Pete and the boys at the Club on February 1st.
[9:30 Club] So what’s going on with you guys right now? I know your first US date is the 29th up in Boston. Are you stateside yet?
[Pete] No we’re not, we’re flying in on Sunday, so were actually just having a few days at home to sort of recover and regroup after the first tour of the year; which was three weeks in Australia and throughout Southeast Asia and Japan so now we’re just recuperating and getting pumped for round two which I’m really excited about.
[9:30 Club] Of course, how did round one go?
[Pete] It was good! It was nice to get out of the cold and down to Australia which was beautiful and full of sunshine from start to finish, and they have their festivals this time of year so it kind of felt like a holiday. To get to have festival season in the middle of what’s been a pretty bleak winter was really fun, and we got to play in a couple of brand new countries in Malaysia, Bangkok, and Thailand where we had a massive show, way bigger than what we were expecting. It was brilliant.
[9:30 Club] Congratulations, That’s great!
[Pete] Thank you very much
[9:30 Club] Going onto your new record now, “Come of Age” seemed to be a really appropriate title for the project as it just seemed to be, musically, a much more complex album than “What Did You Expect…” which was full of very direct, to the point songs that allowed everyone to classify The Vaccines as a post-punk Ramones style of band.
[Pete] I would definitely agree. In many ways it happened out of just succumbing more to our instincts. The first album, whilst we are incredibly proud of it musically and everything it did for us, was way more than what we had bargained for. I think we were almost a little bit afraid of letting ourselves go too much, you know? I think we were consciously underplaying. Obviously brevity was very important we wanted to do short sharp songs, and basically trim the fat wherever we could. The second time around though we kind of wanted to just let people into our world a little bit more, and that was reflected with the decision to use Ethan Johns as the producer; his records very much have a sense of putting you in the room with the band, which we love. The writing process was also a lot more personal and kind of reflected the overall feel of the band. All four of us come from quite different places musically, socially, and economically, and even geographically as well, and I think we wanted to make the music reflect that so everything was a lot more collaborative and we ended up with a collection of songs that are a lot more diverse than the first record. We’re very proud of it.
[9:30 Club] I totally agree with that. This record does seem much more open and fluid. You mentioned that this record was much more collaborative than the previous one. How did the songwriting process change between albums?
[Pete] The process was completely different. Justin is definitely our principal songwriter, and our most talented one, and during the first album he would come in every day with fully formed songs and then off we would go just figuring out how to dress them up. This time around we would start with a shell of an idea that could come from a drumbeat, a guitar lick, a lyric, a melody, and we would put them together between the four of us so it was a completely different way of working.
[9:30 Club] That’s impressive to be able to do that kind of work together. I wonder though, you guys have had a relatively rapid rise with two albums in just over two years. Your first single, “If You Wanna” came out in 2010 and is seems like since then you guys have been non- stop. Has it hit you yet that all of this is happening?
[Pete] (laughs) You get moments along the way where you feel like ‘this is for real’ and all those things you wanted to do with your life when you were a kid… its like all that is happening now. It happens every so often but honestly the reality is just looking ahead to what’s next, looking to push ourselves as a band trying to write better songs, put on better shows. And that’s kind of the annoying thing about being in the creative process, and not even for just musicians; it probably happens to you as a writer just constantly looking for what’s next, a new corner to turn. I’m glad it happens but it does mean that you can’t actually sit back on your laurels.
[9:30 Club] So is it safe to say that achieving satisfaction in your line of work is pretty much impossible?
[Pete] I think it depends on what you want. There are moments where it all kind of comes together and you can see where you’re from, where you’re going and where you are, and it all sort of comes together in one sort of brilliant incredible moment of satisfaction, but most of the time it’s a little more difficult than that.
[9:30 Club] So at what point did you think to yourself I could do this for a living?
[Pete] Ummm I don’t know man! I’ve been really lucky, I had been playing drums professionally two or three years before The Vaccines happened but I was sort of a hired gun for studio stuff and going on tour, and that was awesome and I felt like that was it, I was fulfilled. I was playing drums and people were giving me actual money and it’s like what the hell is that about! [Laughs]. But there was a moment early on with The Vaccines when I had quit my job because I wasn’t happy about not having any ownership over the music I was making and suddenly people started listening to The Vaccines on Radio One over here and they called it “The hottest record in the world” and Zane Low, who is a big dj over here, called it that and it was just our demo, and it was like oh shit this is kind of happening now!
[9:30 Club] That was initially got me into you guys as well!
[Pete] Ha! Thanks man
[9:30 Club] Of course man. Now, the term ‘pop music’ has almost become a dirty word in indie music. You guys seem to have embraced it, certainly Justin can write one hell of a chorus and you guys seem to build off of that. Are you guys afraid of being classified in that area? And why do you think other people might be nervous about that label?
[Pete] We’re not afraid of that at all. What we listen to is not genre specific at all, and I would kind of go as far as to say Pop isn’t a genre at all it’s more of an aesthetic. I think in the indie rock guitar band world over here we’re still reeling from the explosion of the early 2000’s with bands like The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand and then major labels giving guitar bands pop songs to play which went against how the alternative scene saw their guitar bands and then they’re saying “this shouldn’t happen to our music”. I totally understand that and I suppose that’s kind of lead to some slight mistrust unfortunately and it’s bled its way into how some people approach our music, which is a real shame. All of this I think has lead to alternative bands shying away from writing big pop songs because they are worried about the stigma. We have always sort of worn it on our sleeves though, it’s one of our strengths; if people sort of struggle with that or find it hard to position under an umbrella or a genre then that’s kind of their problem not ours.
[9:30 Club] I like that.
[Pete] Yeah it’s funny and Justin said it quite succinctly the other day in an interview when he said “At the moment we’re probably too pop for the alternative sphere and probably too alternative for the pop sphere.” People may struggle with where to position us, but I’d say just listen to the tunes and enjoy it.
[9:30 Club] That’s all anybody has to do to realize what you guys are all about.
9:30 Video: Rayland Baxter
After a stellar opening set (and a surprise appearance with Grace Potter for ‘Like A Prayer’ + glittering robe) Rayland Baxter was kind enough to follow us into our alley to answer a few of our questions. This is all a lot less scary than it sounds, just watch.
9:30 Interview: Matisyahu
The reggae artist took some time to answer our questions about his charitable giving to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, travel, and of course - the return of the disco dreidel! Check it out below.
[9:30]: Thank you so much for agreeing to do this phone interview, we really appreciate it. So, if you don’t mind I’m just going to ask you a few questions. Feel free to talk about anything you want to talk about as well. First of all, I noticed that the last time you were at the 9:30 Club, was also one of the first nights of Hanukkah. We’re so excited to have you again during the holidays. A lot of people think of holidays as a time for rest, and not work, but you’re on tour. What makes these live tour dates so special to you? Do you like touring over the holidays?
Matisyahu: Yeah, I like it, especially Hanukkah. I’ve always felt a connection with that, being of my name. The connection with my name, Matisyahu, and Hanukkah.
[9:30]: I heard last time you brought a disco dreidel that was very popular, do you think you’ll be bringing that again?
M: Yes, we’re bringing the dreidel.
[9:30]: Awesome, love it! I know that proceeds from your newest single, “Happy Hanukkah,” are going to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. How did the hurricane impact you personally and what made you feel connected to want to donate proceeds towards the relief?
M: Most of my family lives in New York and I’ve lived most of my life in New York. I actually spent some time at my parent’s house, after the hurricane, when they had no power. So, I just felt like it would be a good thing to do.
[9:30]: Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions that you do before you perform?
M: Well, sometimes I listen to music before a show to try to get myself in the mood.
[9:30]: Any specific music?
M: Just kind of hype music, like reggae. Sometimes I listen to some dub or the artist that I used to use to like. Sizzla, is an artist that I used to listen to a lot. Sizzla, S-I-Z-Z-L-A, or some conscious reggae music or some hip-hop.
[9:30]: Of everything that you’ve accomplished so far, do you have a moment in your mind that kind of sticks out as your proudest accomplishment?
M: I take it day by day. Today what I’m proud of is a song that I’m working on for Michelle Obama. [The First Lady] has a campaign to try [to] inspire children in America to eat more healthy. So, today I was in the studio with some good friends and Kojack, the producer of the record, and we were writing a song about eating vegetables and I’m very, very proud of that.
[9:30]: I know that you’re video for “Sunshine” was filmed in Israel, is that correct?
M: That is correct.
[9:30]: So how often do you travel there and what’s your favorite part when you go there?
M: When I go there it depends, but I’ve been there many, many times. The last time was to make the video and the time before that was to record music. That was a very unique experience for me, because I’ve played a lot of shows there and I’ve spent a lot of down time there, but I haven’t recorded music there. That was a unique experience and a lot of fun. I got to not only make music and meet a lot of great musicians, but also I got to bring friends there with me that I was close with who had never been.
[9:30]: Do you have any big plans, other than touring, for Hanukkah?
M: I’m going to be releasing a live acoustic EP of songs from Spark Seeker and going on an acoustic tour. That’s coming up at the end of January through February.
[9:30]: Thank you so much. We really appreciate it and we are excited for your show!
9:30 VIDEO: DJ Marmon
Hopefully, you have taken notice of the fact that our friends and partners, U Street Music Hall have been booking fresh DJ talent into our Backbar to make everyone’s Friday & Saturday nights at 9:30 Club complete with THAT much more rump shakin’.
One of our favorites, and three time Backbar party DJ, Dave Marmon (DJ Marmon) was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about EDM, personal influences, and his craziest gig. Check the video above!
PREVIEW & INTERVIEW: Joe Pug
We are more than a little excited for our show with Joe Pug on Saturday, and you should be too. In our eyes, he’s pretty perfect. Although in his twenties, the maturity of his voice has garnered some lofty comparisons to past legends, including Bob Dylan. Joe Pug has managed to master a balance of folk, alt. country, and beautiful acoustics. Not to mention, his lyrics are honest and relatable.
On Saturday, expect to hear a beautiful sampling of tracks from Pug’s most recent album, The Great Despiser. We also hope he’ll sprinkle in a few older favorites from his first EP, Nation of Heat (hint hint - ‘Hymn 101’ and ‘I Do My Father’s Drugs’). Even better? David Wax Museum and Vandaveer will be joining us as well! This is sure to be an amazing night at the club, full of killer voices and a chill energy you certainly won’t want to miss out on.
(9:30) Listening to your music, a lot of your influences are pretty immediately recognizable, not in like a negative sense, but a great storytelling singer-songwriter sense, like Dylan or Earle or Zevon. What are some of the influences on your music that you think aren’t as recognizable or some people you would like to know had an impact on your songwriting or music.
(JP) I think more of the lesser named would be like John Haitt, I really love his music, and the ones a little bit less noticeable, I mean I grew up listening to Nirvana and all the older bands who came back to the Northwest. That’s how I first decided I wanted to play music.
(9:30) Speaking of Steve Earle, you found both a touring mate and a friend in him, and you’ve said before that he’s had a pretty big impact on your music. As someone whose spent time with him here and overseas on tour, what is probably the greatest advice or wisdom that he’s passed along to you as a younger musician?
(JP) Well, you know, he never really sat down and gave me advice, you could call it; like getting to be around him on the road, you just pick up so many different things from the way that he carries himself, the way that he treats the people that he works with, the way that he treats himself when he’s on the road. I don’t think you can remain on the road for decades and do it any other way.
(9:30) So you kind of use that to carry yourself through your own headlining tours?
(JP) Yeah, I’d say so. Doing a headlining tour is much different than an opening tour. Opening gigs can be really hard sometimes because the people didn’t come to see you usually and you’ve got to win them over but it makes you work a little bit harder and sometimes you put all the [—-] when you’re the opening band.
(9:30) Absolutely. You’re currently on the road with David Wax Museum, who we’ve had at the club before, and it seems like a really great fit alongside of your music. How did that come about?
(JP) We met on the road in uh, we played a festival in Ottawa last year together and I heard a lot about their music, particularly about their live show, and so we went to go check out the show and it was amazing. When we put out a few words to them about doing this tour together they were excited about it. You know, we haven’t even been on the road together for a week yet but it’s been, it’s been really great. I think the music matches really well and man, they’re a hard act to follow, I tell you what, keeping us on our toes for sure.
(9:30) How is sharing the stage with a younger act maybe compared to sharing the stage with some of the more established acts you’ve toured with like Steve Earle or Josh Ritter?
(JP) When you’re on the road with, like you said, a younger band they’re just, they’re so hungry and so on top of their game, you know? And they’re going on before you, you gotta make sure you got all your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted. You really gotta, you got to bring it but that’s who you want to be out with, you know? You want to be out on the road with people who challenge you in a wonderful way.
(9:30) Tell us a little bit about The Great Despiser. Do you feel there is an overlying theme to the whole album? What sort of place were you in when you were putting those songs together?
(JP)I think I was in a much happier place than maybe the title has led people to believe [laughs]. I think it’s overall one of the most positive albums I’ve written and recorded and I think it’s about that song [‘The Great Despiser’] and maybe the album as a whole is about someone coming to terms with some things in their life in a positive way. When you hear that word ‘despise,’ there’s a lot of connotations to it but I think once folks listen to the album and listen to that song specifically, they’ll see that it’s maybe not exactly as dark as maybe the title connotes.
(9:30) Do you have a song on it that is your favorite to play live or that you are particularly proud of?
(JP) The song from that album…you know, it’s always strange to go on the road with material that fans haven’t had a chance to live with yet, but the song that really seems to be connecting immediately is the title song, “The Great Despiser.”
(9:30) Being somewhat of a politically outspoken artist about to play D.C. as the elections are heating up and there’s a lot of turmoil, I guess, in a political sense, is there a particular message from your music that you hope resonates here as you perform? Or is that something you kind of just leave to the audience?
(JP)I mean, yeah, I think especially coming into this election, I think no matter what stripe of politics you subscribe to I think we can all agree that the money that’s gonna be funneled into this election cycle is not helping us. Whether you’re conservative or liberal, like, we can all agree that a citizens united opposition is going to very heavily influence who’s chosen this election cycle. I think that corporations are putting so much money into influencing politics; maybe a contrast that can be drawn is our music focuses a lot and talks a lot about humanity and corporations are just kind of the opposite. They do a lot of things well sometimes and efficiently but they’re not a human thing and I think we need to use them when it makes sense but we need to remember that people come first. A corporation is a tool we’re supposed to use to make our lives better not worse.
(9:30) On a lighter note to finish things off, it seems that you have a really strong connection to your fans, like your grassroots distribution in the beginning of your career, and we’ve heard you say before that you invite your friends to meet you after the show and share a drink. So that said, can we give them a heads up to Joe Pug’s drink of choice post-show?
Joe Pug: [laughs] Bourbon neat.