J Mascis Would Always Rather Play Loud

Categories: Interview
Photo by Justin LaPriore

Indie-rock guitar god J Mascis has a load of side projects, including a solo joint under his own name. Yes, the Dinosaur Jr. frontman still shreds on Tied to a Star, and his wry sense of humor is on display in the cult-themed video for the lead single, "Every Morning," starring Fred Armisen.

Ahead of Thursday's performance at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Gimme Noise lucked into an interview with Mascis. It had been postponed due to him having a sick child -- never a good sign, especially when dealing with a tight-lipped subject.

"I think he's faking it," Mascis dead-panned when we eventually touched base. What followed was a very subdued chat about playing loud, First Avenue, and Grateful Dead covers.

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Merchandise: "The Nature of the Beast Is Just So Intense"

Categories: Interview
Photo by Timothy Saccenti
Merchandise | Triple Rock Social Club | Thursday, October 9
Tampa Bay band Merchandise are isolated from their indie rock cohorts by a vast reservoir of influence stemming from deep underground-leaning roots. This isolation isn't a bad thing. It's a reminder to the band that they're making music for themselves. As evidenced by their massive-sounding new record After the End, they continue to succeed in this realm. Ahead of their show at the Triple Rock tonight, Gimme Noise spoke with the band's contemplative front man Carson Cox about their knockout new album and working with a bigger label.
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How Steve Aoki Created EDM's Bright, Neon Future

Categories: Interview
Courtesy of the Artist

Seven years ago, Avril Lavigne had the best-selling album globally. Electronic music was just starting to wobble its way into the mainstream, still fueled primarily by DIY start-up record companies like Los Angeles' Dim Mak, which was notorious for throwing great parties and releasing a seemingly endless repertoire of club music. Its creator and main man, Aoki, was busy with a weekly event at Cinespace and still learning to cope with the demands of his growing popularity. Not many of us knew what "dubstep" was.

At the Justice-led Coachella that year, this future Gimme Noise writer played sober cab for Aoki. At 4 a.m. in the Indio desert, our SUV was stopped at the side of a deserted highway. Aoki had to pee. Fueled by adrenaline and drunken enthusiasm, he ran off into the dark that loomed beside us. "Steve!" we screamed, not willing to face the consequences of losing a celebrity DJ in the middle of the desert. It was a weird night, needless to say.

Seven years after we delivered Aoki to a house party gig that early morning, many things have transpired. On September 30, he released Neon Future Part I, the first of two full-length albums chock-full of collaborations with artists like Will.I.Am, Afrojack, and Waka Flocka Flame. And this weekend, Aoki will be in Minneapolis co-headlining the Zombie Pub Crawl along with Juicy J. Catching up with Aoki can be like catching up with a freight train.

See also:
Zombie Pub Crawl announces 2014 music lineup

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The Kids Are All Right: Stereo Confession

Photo By Izzy Commers

Stereo Confession | 7th St. Entry | Sunday, October 12
Burgeoning Minneapolis garage-rock band Stereo Confession caught our attention with their infectiously catchy single "Video Games." The group has since signed to local label Susstones, and is set to throw a stacked record release party for their full-length debut, No Coast, at the Entry this Sunday.

Gimme Noise chatted with vocalist/guitarist Max Timander and drummer/vocalist Jordan Blevins about how the band's sound and lineup have evolved, how they are ready to move beyond being a "high school band," and the frustrations associated with being an underage band without many all-ages venues in the area.

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How Greg Dulli's Beatboxing Shaped the Afghan Whigs' New Album

Categories: Interview
Photo by Piper Ferguson
Greg Dulli is second from the right.

The Afghan Whigs | First Avenue | Saturday, October 11
Since slithering onto the scene with 1988's Big Top Halloween, the Afghan Whigs have made a science of dredging the darker sides of the human psyche. Frontman Greg Dulli has entertained devotion and derision from his shadowy and often disturbing narratives -- any number of which could be construed as autobiographical in nature.

With a new release, Do to the Beast, in the bins and a U.S. tour hitting stride, one would think that Dulli's plate was plenty full. However, he also found time to contribute photographs to the soon to be released I Apologize in Advance for the Awful Things I'm Gonna Do, a music lover's dream, which also features haiku from Danny Bland (Dwarves, Best Kissers in the World), calligraphy by Exene Cervenka (X), all designed by Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven). Plus, the group will release a deluxe 21st anniversary version of Gentlemen later this month.  In advance of the band's First Avenue appearance on Saturday, the dark prince of deviance was good enough to chat about the unintended consequences of beatboxing, and stealing from Phil Spector.

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Banks: "Being a Goddess Is Being Both Fragile and Strong"

Categories: Interview
Photo by Williams Hirakawa

Banks | First Avenue | Wednesday, October 8
In just a year, singer-songwriter Banks has gone from relative unknown, producing music behind closed doors, to underground favorite and rising star.

Her first live performances ever were opening a national tour with the Weeknd. Now she has hit the road for her first headlining tour, in support of debut album, Goddess.

We caught up with the soft-spoken artist to learn more about her ever-evolving sense of self and how goddesses are sometimes vulnerable even when they are strong.

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The Ericksons craft the album of their career on Bring Me Home

Categories: Interview
Publicity photo
The Ericksons: Jenny Kapernick (left) and Bethany Valentini

The Ericksons | Cedar Cultural Center | Friday, October 3
"How beautiful do you want this song to be?"

Jenny Kapernick -- one half of the folk-rock duo the Ericksons, along with her sister Bethany Valentini -- is reflecting on the recording process for Bring Me Home, their electronics-tinged fourth album.

"The whole electro-pop thing was just super fun. Bringing in these new elements was a lot of fun for us," says Kapernick over early-evening drinks at Icehouse after an in-studio session at the Current. "We are so influenced by folk music, but I'm not listening to folk music right now. The stuff that we listen to and things we respond to are way more ambient, electronic, and beat-driven."

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Lykke Li: Every Door That's Closed Opens Another Door

Categories: Interview
Photo By Josh Olins

Lykke Li | First Avenue | Sunday, September 28
Throughout three visceral albums and the course of six years, Stockholm singer Lykke Li has consistently revealed intimate parts of herself through her songs. Since her 2008 debut, Youth Novels, she's used her music to display undiluted details tracking her own (very personal) victories, failures, actualizations and frustrations. Although her confessional interpretation of pop music has gained her an international following, at the root of it all, Lykke Li's music is first and foremost a tool for herself.

This spring's heartbreaking new album, I Never Learn, utterly bared her most pained soul. But through the anguished beauty of the songs, Lykke Li has found both perspective and the means to keep moving. Ahead of her stop in Minneapolis on Sunday with fellow Stockholm artist Mapei, Gimme Noise chatted with Lykke Li about life after heartbreak and the freedom of letting go.

See Also: Lykke Li and First Aid Kit at First Avenue, 11/13/2011

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Twin Peaks Expand Their Musical Reach

Categories: Interview

Tyler Brooks

Twin Peaks | 7th Street Entry | Thursday, September 25
The Midwest, and Chicago in particular, has been cranking out a slew of precocious young talent around the intersection of garage, power pop and punk in the past few years. The City of Broad Shoulders gave birth to groups like The Orwells and Twin Peaks, who all share a good-natured, class-clown camaraderie and a knack for releasing fully-realized albums before any of their members have reached the legal drinking age. Twin Peaks just dropped their new LP, Wild Onion, last month, and the record's bound to keep your summer good times rolling long after Minnesota goes all tundra on us. We caught up with guitarist Clay Frankel to talk about debilitating tour injuries and their ties to the Midwest.

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Creepoid: "We Haven't Killed Each Other Yet"

Categories: Interview
Courtesy of the Artist

Creepoid | The Garage | Wednesday, September 24
The noisy, psychedelic squall of Creepoid is unmistakable. Digging into '90s shoegaze and alternative rock, the four-piece from Philadelphia encapsulate angst, melancholy, and a ton of raw expression. Earlier this year, they released a self-titled album and the Wet EP, and both are loaded with roaring guitars and Sean Miller's vocal frustrations.

"People can use their imaginations, and not compartmentalize and instantly envision, okay, Nirvana, or grunge, or My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, whatever, shoegaze," he says. "We, for the most part, consider ourselves to play rock music, experimental rock music, psychedelic a little bit. The best way to summarize that without falling into the cubby hole thing is saying 'noisy rock.'"

Here's a bit more of Gimme Noise's conversation with Miller via phone from their tour van. The rest of the band, road-weary from many nights in many cities on different stages across the country, occasionally are heard chiming in, in the background along with the cell-phone static of the long distance phone call. They arrive in Minnesota Wednesday to perform with Seahaven at the Garage in Burnsville.

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