Helen Chambers recently played an intimate show in Leeds with, our buddy, Austin Lucas. The York-based songstress had been recommended to us many times before and with good reason: She’s awesome! Before the show we had a drink and chatted about working with Chuck Ragan, getting her work out there and what happens when you google her name.
Everyone knows that Under The Bridge is “the podcast Chris Farren hates most”, so it was quite a surprise when he agreed to come back on the show. Of his own free will, no less. Moon & Back Music’s, Cara Moore joined our Floridian friend to complete this week’s line up. Though we did get Kieran Kelly (of Moving North and Throwing Stuff) on the phone to talk about the upcoming Crazy Arm/Cory Branan/Sam Russo tour. There was also a rap battle…
Go on, have a listen…
Music – William Shatner
- Common People
- Has Been
- The Real Slim Shady
- I Can’t Get Behind That (Feat. Henry Rollins)
- Against Me! and Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo to support Frank Turner
- Hot Water Music sign to Rise Records
- Horrible Crowes preview new track
- Morrissey talks label troubles
- Brendan Kelly is making a new record
- Muppet movie soundtrack to contain: Alkaline Trio, Atreyu, Ok Go and Weezer
- Jim Ward to compile EP’s for a new full-length
- Crazy Arm new single coming August 1st. Touring with Sam Russo and Cory Branan.
Where Can We Find You On The Internet?
- Facebook – Harmonica Frank
Moon & Back
I had a four hour drive from the St. Louis area to Louisville, Kentucky for Krazyfest 2011. I can say, confidently, that I would have driven much, much farther. I got Louisville early Friday morning and was able to explore the downtown area some. The Louisville slugger museum (StL representing the top of the Central division was posted resulting in ‘St. Louis!’ calls and disapproving looks) and some resale shop ran by an eccentric veteran and his dog were the highlight of that.
So, as a result of being in Louisville entirely too early, I was able to see the very first band play at Krazy Fest 2011. There were, roughly, 30 other people who shared this pleasure, excluding the merch table people and the crew. Lions, Lions were the opener. I think it would be terrible to be the opening band, and they were a pretty average harder band. They were really happy to be there though and high energy, so good for them. Next was Reading Group, who I enjoyed. They were new to me and were pretty unique. The singer has a nice melodic voice but the music is fast and has plenty of edge. I explored the merch booths and venue after that while other bands that didn’t grab much of my attention played. Krazy Fest was held at Expo Five. It is a flea market/airport hanger/big ass parking lot area. There were three stages, two outside and one in the hanger. To someone driving by it looks like a carnival, kind of, the singer/guitarist of Lemuria even expressed her displeasure at the lack of sweets and cotton candy being sold. Pretty cool. I, too, love me some funnel cake. I suppose that wasn’t the point though, back to the set up. There was a cluster of tents set up in the middle of the two outside stages as well as around the fencing leading to the parking lot. Most of the booths had exclusive interviews, signings, merch, and various other goodies and freebies to promote. There were a couple tents that were devoted to drinks and food outside and a full bar inside with the inner stage.
The rest of my Friday was spent meeting new people (I Hate Punk Rock Records) who, ironically, live 20 minutes from myself and provided a place to stay for the evening, and picked back up watching the shows with Kevin Seconds. He is a nice acoustic act with a pretty surprisingly falsetto voice. Next was Bane, HUGE change from Kevin Seconds. There were circle pits and hardcore fans going crazy. And rightfully so. Tigers Jaw was next up and those boys can put on a show. I just recently started listening to them and their show was loud and the singer was so humble. He was having some guitar issues apparently but if he hadn’t said so I wouldn’t have really notice. Really enjoyable. Then I listened to Chamberlain. Those guys sound so incredibly good live, but they are admittedly hard to watch, kind of a boring show. I caught some of Small Brown Bike and wished I could have seen more but had to retreat to get some food, we were given wrist bands and allowed to go back and forth from our vehicles. The last bands of the evening were By the Grace of God, not really by style but a lot of people really dug them, and Against Me! Strike Anywhere had some traveling issues and didn’t make it. Against Me! was easily Friday’s main attraction. They were so high energy the crowd responded from their first chord. Tom was doing a little dancing on stage and the crowd fed into it. He was grinning the whole time and played lots of favorites. The set ended with Thrash Unreal and the crowd begged for an encore but due to ‘curfew issues’ we were left without. I went and drank lots of wine and got a lot of inside jokes from the hotel room after the show. Oh yea, and I slept some but not much of that is done at these things.
Day 2, Saturday, easily the BIGGEST and my favorite day of the festival. Pre-show I went and ate in an Irish pub complete with genuine accents and memorabilia. I also happened across a little antique collectors’ place. I saw place because he was very outwardly NOT selling anything. He did give lots of information about his collection and its history and his history with it. I walked away with a horseshoe off of a filly that had run in the derby complete with dirt and rust. Always a good story and now hangs, u-up, in my room. The distraction led me to miss Hostage Calm, Native and Pianos Have Teeth all who I wanted to see. I got there just in time for Former Thieves though and they were really good. Fireworks were next, I had never seen them but at a recommendation I checked them out and I am so glad that I did. They were excellent, high energy and easy to bounce around to. Defeater opened with an acoustic song, one of, if not, my absolute favorites from them. Defeater sounds really good live, I was certainly impressed. They were on the smaller outside stage and the crowd resembled and overstuffed chair spilling out onto the sides. It’s kind of hard to write about any elaboration of their sound because it’s exactly like how they sound in recording. Lemuria sounded really good live too, this was another new one for me. Female lead of a three piece band. She absolutely shreds the guitar, she is pretty tiny and it makes for the way she plays to look awkward to me. It certainly did not affect the sound though. Make Do and Mend played inside the hanger and they were pretty mind numbing and amazing. There were a lot of new fans that walked away from that set. Anti-Flag were the last band to play outside due to the storm that was presumably the Rapture falling short. I think it’s safe to say that they are the most punk rock band that played. They played their classic, and the first song of its style I ever remember hearing, Die for your Government. Staying true to their roots, they covered The Clash and I lost my shit. It was awesome. Another mold breaking moment happened when they brought their drum set down into the crowd and played amongst everyone. I got a sweaty high-five as he walked away and passed the sweat on by high-fiving someone else. Pretty monumental for me. I saw a small part of La Dispute before moving to the next stage in an attempt to secure a barricade spot for Hot Water Music. La Dispute looked too young to be sounding as good as they did. Then I got drenched waiting by the barricade as Chuck Ragan tried to convince us all to go inside and wait, that we would get our spots back. That man is such a dear person. Eventually everyone did go inside because the rain/lightening/God-smiting was relentless and the stage was a wreck. So the line-up changed and Touché Amore played next. They, I don’t even know what to type next they were so good. Jeremy, the singer, was all over the place. He expressed his gratitude at not having to follow Hot Water Music and proceeded to blow faces off. He got in the crowd and passed his mic on to the crowd and adoring fans. He ended the set by climbing one of the side speakers while the mic was elsewhere. He’s crazy. In an absolutely-only-ok-in-punk-rock way. Which I adore. Next was Title Fight. Their baby faces had me confused and fooled. They rocked hard. The label switch had me curious and had other people suspicious, I overheard. Regardless, they delivered. I almost mistyped and wrote lastly just now because the next band was Hot Water Music. Having held a spot at the barricade through Touché Amore and Title Fight, I was ecstatic. Those men act like they are unaffected by age and I suspect they truly may be. Every single member is an outstanding musician. They were joined on stage by members of the Bouncing Souls, at one point being outnumbered by them. Phe-fucking-nomenal. Their last song was Trusty Chords, naturally, and I really could have died happily. 7 Seconds, who received a shout-out as being a founding inspiration to the Bouncing Souls later on, were up next and they don’t look how they sound, to say the least. Truly a don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover situation. A group of larger older men who covered 69 Sham’s 99 Red Balloons, ok by me! The (actual) last band Saturday was Cave In. I could probably just leave it at they sold a boat load of records that night. Disembodied had some traveling issues and could not play.
Following Saturdays shows at Expo Five there were multiple after party shows. Bane (Dane according to the strip club, supposedly all the ‘Bs’ had all been used to spell out various body parts to attract customers) played with some others at a strip club that was so packed it was rumored that not even the Bouncing Souls were allowed in. That show ended with cars being towed to make people leave. I went to a smaller show, in the pool room with max depth of 4.5 ft, at the Ramada Inn. Mikey Erg and Mixtapes played. It was really awesome to see them play in that setting, I felt like, and it became, a private showing amongst friends. There were covers and requests and sing-alongs and USA chants (ok, I really just threw that in there because I started it and it was hilarious). Turns out a case of the cheapest beer makes you a lot of friends. There was also a Mixtapes exclusive alley show with more covers and drunken dances. We sang Teenage Dirtbag, the defining song of my youth. Glorious. On a scale of 1-10, it was not bad. Followed by another small amount of sleep and really cool hang outs with new friends.
Ahhh, now we arrive at Sunday. Daytrader were the first band I saw. They sounded pretty excellent live. Next was A Great Big Pile of Leaves. Really odd name in my opinion but they were the kind of chill sound that I needed to nurse me into the scene. Then I ventured inside to get my spot to see Dave Hause. Little did I know that One Line Drawing was actually Jonah Matranga. Lucky me! He plays, self-proclaimed, whiny covers. I thought it was excellent. That man’s voice makes me wonder why he is even using a mic. So much passion and such a truly humble, approachable person. At one point he was joined by Tucker on the drum set. That was pretty cool. Next, Dave Hause. I cannot get enough of this man. Absolutely wonderful. He broke two strings during his set, quickly blamed jamming with Chuck Ragan previously and told some stories while he changed them. I could go total fangirl on Dave Hause’s music but I’ll contain myself. He played a healthy mix of Loved Ones tracks and those off of his new album, Resolutions. He ended with my personal favorite off of Resolutions, if I had to pick, C’mon Kid. Whew. That is all, just whew. Hot Rod Circuits’ reunion was up next. I am endlessly impressed by musicians’ ability to be able to play older songs many years later and still sound wonderfully the same. I popped in to catch Frontier(s) last song and was a little disappointed that I hadn’t caught more. Coalesce played next to almost a cult of fans. I initially was turned off by their set but by the end they had won me over. I missed Ensign to get a good spot for the Bouncing Souls. It was an amazing set. Lots more gushing required here that I cannot express. They called out for rare requests and played them. Dave Hause joined them on stage and I went nuts, it resulted in a lot of worthless pictures as I tried to get a decent one. I had never had the pleasure of seeing them before and my middle school years were finally satisfied. They were really amazing. Greg isn’t much of a mover on stage but his voice remains and I did enough moving for him. Samiam was next inside and I hadn’t listened to them much before and I have no idea why. They were excellent. The final band was Lucero. Seriously, and I hate when people say that because it automatically makes it not serious but it needs to be stressed somehow, the most perfect closer. Their full band was present and my Sambas were instant dancing shoes. Saxophone, trumpet, piano, guitar, really good blues rock tunes were had. By the end of the set I couldn’t tell if I had lost weight from ridiculous amounts of sun exposure and dancing or gained from alcohol consumption. And I was completely satisfied either way. Lucero were ridiculously good. Absolutely perfect ending and they got to play the only encore! For whatever reason the cover of Gin and Juice was blasted over the speakers as we retreated to our vehicles and I saw Chuck H. jump-hug Scott Heisel. I’m not sure how but it was a fitting ending. I made so many long term and distance friends and have a new collection of terrible pictures and good music to listen to. In closing, roughly 3 pages for 3 days is probably too much anyway, Krazy Fest 2011 had a wonderful comeback and certainly delivered. It’s been tagged the best fest of the Midwest. Riot Fest has The Descendents coming and other to be announced still so we will see. I’ll be attending Krazy Fest, regardless, next year fur sure.
Before they headed off to Belgium for the madness of Groezrock, Thursday dropped in on the UK to play three dates in support of, their new album, No Devolucion…kinda. Before the show at Manchester’s Academy 3, we chatted to, frontman, Geoff Rickly about working with Epitaph, the state of New Jersey, Chuck Ragan’s many talents and we even brought him some socks to help ease the perils of tour.
Ahead of his final UK show with, Moon & Back ‘Album Of The Year’ winners, The Gaslight Anthem I had a chat with Chuck Ragan. Now, before we get to the interview, I’ve got to let you know that Chuck is one of the nicest, most humble people I’ve ever met. He’s such a good guy and I can’t wait for him to be back in October on The Revival Tour. We talked about upcoming solo projects, the stuff he and the rest of Hot Water Music had planned for the future and I even managed to get his opinion on kites (thanks to Jon Snodgrass).
Ian was on holiday in Spain when all this went down, but I had to call him up so he could deliver the results of our ‘signature question’. Despite flying solo for this one, there is a Critchley cameo.
Anthony Barlow: How’s it going Chuck?
Chuck Ragan: Good, man.
AB: We spoke in March last, how’ve you been since then?
CR: It’s been incredible. We’ve been working really hard. A lot of travel. I’ve been writing a lot lately though; I feel like I’ve been writing more this past year than I have my whole life. It’s been inspiring, I guess. It’s definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things. Writing songs to me has always been more of a necessity than something that I feel like I want to do. If that makes any sense? I mean, the only thing I can compare it to is, if anybody were to keep a journal or like a diary. Sometimes you don’t even know why you’re writing, you just have to do it. That’s kind of how song writing is for me. I think, in the event of getting songs out and actually putting them down, it helps me realise things about myself or determine what my direction is, what my intentions are, and it just simply clarifies my life, and my family, and my friends, and everything. A lot of it, even though I’ve been enjoying it and I’ve been writing new songs, there’s been a lot of awakenings, if that makes any sense?
AB: Yeah, definitely. Is this writing for a new solo record, or a new Hot Water Music record, or both?
CR: That and then some, really *laughs*. I’ve been writing a new record, and I’ve got loads of material, I plan on recording in January and February. We’re getting ready to do a tour with Social Distortion in the States, on the West Coast, and we’ll be recording before that tour and a little after. So we’re kinda shooting to have a new record out by next May, a new solo record. Hot Water’s been writing stuff as well. We’re getting ready, right after this tour, I don’t even go home ’til December 12th. I fly to Louisiana and meet up with my wife and we’re there for five days visiting my grandparents for thanksgiving. She brings my electric guitars, I give her my acoustic guitars, and then I fly straight to New Zealand to go on tour with Hot Water Music and The Bouncing Souls for a couple of weeks. So we’re moving quite a bit. Brian Fallon, from Gaslight, and I have been working on some songs and one really cool thing, I’m really excited about, is he just confirmed to do The Revival Tour over here, in the UK and Europe, in October.
AB: I was just going to ask what your plans were for bringing The Revival Tour over here. Is there anyone else you can confirm for that yet?
CR: Not just yet *laughs*. We’re going to try to get as many people as we can involved. Right now, it’s just Brian and I. It’s still a good ways away, so we’ll see what comes together. I can, pretty much, guarantee you’re not going to be disappointed.
AB: Are you going to try and keep with the usual US lineup or are you going to try and get a lot of UK acts in as well?
CR: I would like to get a lot of local acts, because there’s so much great music over here. Livers & Lungs, Sam Russo, Helen Chambers, Jimmy Islip. I’ve got a lot of good friends over here. Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface. A lot of people who are doing acoustic stuff. There’s a lot of other acts too, that I’ve always wanted to get. It might be a stretch, but I would love to see if Billy Bragg wants anything to do with it or Laura Marling. There’s so much.
AB: It sounds like it’s shaping up to be a really cool tour. This tour with Gaslight has been a pretty mad one, hasn’t it? You played in the UK for a bit, then went over to mainland Europe and now you’re back over here. What’s it been like for you?
CR: This tour has been so special, man. It’s been incredible. I’ve known a lot of these guys for a while, but this is the first time that we’ve ever actually got to sit down and get to know eachother, to spent time with eachother. John Gaunt is with me on this tour, we’re just playing as a two-piece: just acoustic guitar, singing and his fiddle. They [Gaslight] were gracious enough to let us ride with them on the bus. So we’re living with The Gaslight Anthem, and you never really know someone unless you’ve toured with them in that environment. There’s not much personal space, so you really have to get along with people for it to work. We knew it was gonna be cool, but you’re always a little bit apprehensive when you’ve never toured with someone and you’re just going, especially with it being such a long tour. I can honestly say, they’re just a big group of lovely, lovely people. There’s not a negative bone in the bunch. Everyone is extremely positive, they know what they’re doing, they’re happy to be here, they don’t take any of it for granted and they’ve earned all of this, they’ve truly earned it. To me, I’ve toured for a lot of years, and I’ve seen all kinds. They’re doing it for the right reasons, and I have all the respect in the world for that.
AB: You’ve said previously that you wanted a tour with Gaslight to come together so you and Brian [Fallon] could try out material from your new collaboration. Are we going to hear any of that tonight? I know you like to play with the other acts on a tour so…
CR: Yeah, we may. We might throw one out. Why not, y’know? We’re all here together. The Sharks have been a lot of fun on this tour. They’re a great, young band. I had a birthday on this tour and they said: “make sure you come out and watch us tonight, we have a present for you”. They went up and they started playing this song, and I didn’t even think anything of it. It was one of their songs, but they had enough thought to completely change all the lyrics into a Hot Water Music song. It was a Sharks song – ‘Glove In Hand’ – but they changed all the words to ‘Rooftops’. They’ve been playing that every once in a while and I’ll go out and sing it with them. They’re a bunch of special kids as well, they’re doing great.
AB: I expect there’s a lot of people coming here tonight to see you, as well as Gaslight…
CR: I don’t know about that man *laughs*
AB: Well, working on that assumption *laughs*, how have the crowds taken to your stuff?
CR: I’ve been, honestly, pretty amazed at the responses. It’s always tough to get out and do a support tour. For one it’s tough anyway, for any band supporting a headlining act, because no ones there to see you anyway. What we’re doing is, John and I are getting up and playing an acoustic guitar and a fiddle and we’re getting infront of a band who’s getting ready to blow the roof of the joint. So it’s rather intimidating. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been absolutely amazed at the response, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Gaslight has really expanded their age groups over the past couple of years. There’s a lot of older folks at the shows, and I feel like they pick up on what we’re doing. They get it. I mean, younger kids too. I’ve been completely overwhelmed. I’m amazed by it.
AB: We talked a little about Hot Water Music before and the UK tour, what was it like being on the road with those guys again?
CR: It’s great. Nowadays we don’t tour that much as it is, and when we do tour it’s just kinda been short runs. When we come back together it’s kind of like a little family reunion. We’re not stuck in the machine like we used to be. Like Gaslight, or Against Me!, or some of these bands. You get into a cycle where you record a record, then you go on tour and you do a whole circuit. That’s Australia, Europe, UK, US, a couple of support tours, Festival gigs and usually a touring cycle can be a year and a half to two years long. Then you take a month off, you start writing and you record another record, and you start all over again. It’s great, it’s a wonderful thing, but it can definitely weigh heavy on you. For us, Hot Water toured so much as it was that it weighed us down quite a bit. Nowadays, now that we have all this time between these tours, it’s more relaxed. It’s not killing us, and it’s nice like that. We don’t have a record label right now, we don’t have any managers, we don’t have anybody telling us what to do. That’s why we’ve been enjoying writing again so much: There’s no stress, there’s no pressure, we just want to make new songs and do it when it feels right.
AB: Was it a shame that George [Rebelo] wasn’t on tour with you?
CR: Yeah, of course. We had Dave Raun with us, and we wouldn’t have done it without George’s blessing anyway. Dave’s been a good friend of all of us for years, and he’s an animal behind the drum set. It just made sense, y’know? We wanted to go and play these shows, and we even asked George, “what should we do?”, and he said get somebody else, man. We called Dave and we did it *laughs*. Yeah sure, we miss him. He’s gonna be on this Bouncing Souls tour – in Australia – that we’re doing. We’ll be back together soon.
AB: You’ve been playing a lot of charity shows recently too. How have those panned out?
CR: The one we did for the refugee children turned out fantastic. We didn’t really know what to expect and there wasn’t as much communication as we thought there was gonna be between us and them, and there were some language barriers. We just thought ‘well, we’ll just try and get the word out’. And the whole point was to benefit, not only the children themselves and the actual organization that schools, feeds and houses them, but to try and benefit their music and art program. So what we did is we invited people to come and play the show and we just said, beside the kids and the workers that are gonna be there we have room for fifty or sixty people, so you’re more than welcome to come to the show, but please either bring money to donate or bring an intstrument to donate. I can’t even tell you how many instruments showed up. We had a table, like this massive table, and it was just full of guitars and drums and amps and percussion stuff and everything. We raised a load of money for the organization as well, and it was a beautiful thing. All the kids were anywhere from three years old, up to fifteen years old, and we just passed out all the instruments and we played and we let them play along. It was just utter chaos *laughs*. They were banging on guitars and tambourines, and just loving every minute of it. It was a beautiful thing, and we’re definitely gonna be doing a lot more of that. I think it’s important, man. For any artist in the positions that we’re in to do something more than just show up, play a show, get paid and go to the next. There’s a lot to be done out there. We’re definitely going to be driving to do more of that down the road.
We did the interview in a pub, and a fan of Chuck’s comes over to talk to him…
AB: Do you get that a lot?
CR: No always, no.
AB: Do you like it?
CR: It’s overwhelming sometimes. To be so far away from home.
AB: You seemed to get good reception in here when you walked in.
CR: Good people, man. We were talking about the benefits…I just think, especially in Europe, it kinda clicked with me where we play a lot of these youth rec centers, and at night it turns into this big club. They’ve got shows and a bar and the adults come, and the people drink and whatever. We show up sometimes at twelve, one in the afternoon and they have a kindergarten and families there it’s like a proper youth rec center. Then they turn it over and it turns into the club. So I thought ‘we’re here, why not come during the day and play some shows for the kids’. Get the fans involved, get the families involved and try and benefit these local communities, and then play a show for the big kids in the evening *laughs*.
AB: It’s a nice idea, where did it originally come from?
CR: Man, I don’t know. I don’t know. Ever since we were all kids just growing up in the punk scene we would always do benefit shows, or food drives, or do something to give back to a local community. Over the years we’ve been invited into so many cool communities, it feels right to do something wherever we can to give back to all these communities that have been supporting us over the years. Because if it wasn’t for you folks, we wouldn’t be here to begin with.
AB: Yeah, definitely. We’re about done, but I do have a couple of reader questions. The first one comes from an anonymous email, it says: “You’ve worked with a lot of people on both your solo records and with Hot Water Music – guys like Matt Skiba and Austin Lucas – is there anyone you’d really like to work with again on new records?” I know Austin did a lot of backing vocals on Gold Country, didn’t he?
CR: Yeah, yeah. He came in. He passed by. He was just passing through town and I said “come on in”. There’s so many good friends and amazing artists out there that I highly respect and love that, not only am I a fan of, but I love them as people and as friends. I’m always up for [collaborating]. One of the the coolest things about music to me, is sharing it with the people around you.
AB: I noticed that. You’re records have got that kind of community, ‘everyone’s welcome’ kind of feel about them.
CR: That’s cool. Good.
AB: Jon Snodgrass wanted me to ask: “Do you like kites?” I assume this is some kind of ‘in’ joke.
CR: Kites? I love kites *laughs*. That’s not an in joke.
AB: Awesome. I hope Jon’s happy with himself, making me look like an idiot *laughs* . I don’t know if you remember, but last time we spoke, I had Ian with me. Unfortunately he’s in Spain and he’s gutted he couldn’t make it today. So I’m going to give him a call, if that’s ok? He just wants to ask you something.
CR: Spain’s not a bad place. Is he on holiday there?
CR: Well I’m sure he’ll be fine!
Ian Critchley: Hello
AB: You’re on with me and Chuck Ragan, how’s it going?
IC: Hi, how’s it going?
CR: Hey Ian, how’s Spain?
IC: It’s alright. It’s raining.
CR: Well you better keep your pants on, you don’t wanna get cold ***
IC: *laughs* I had a hangover, so I walked up a mountian
IC: I thought it’d help me sweat the alcohol out, but now I’m just hungover and I smell
AB: Ian, you’ve got some results to deliver to Chuck, have you not?
IC: Yeah, a while ago we started a tally – it was just after we interviewed you last time – we had a few beers and started thinking about who would win in a fight, you or Henry Rollins. After that we added a shark in as well, for fun, and we’ve been asking every band we’ve interviewed: ‘Who would win in a fight: You, Henry Rollins or a shark?”.
CR: *laughs* Wow.
AB: You won by a landslide. Everyone seemed to think you’d take them both *laughs*.
IC: The thing is, I asked George [Rebelo] and Jason [Black] and they both said Henry Rollins. So you might want to have words with them.
CR: *laughs* Yeah, I’ll have words with them. Maybe Henry Rollins and I will gang up on both of them, and the shark too.
IC: *laughs* Now that’s something I’d want to watch.
CR: I’ve lost a lot of fights to sharks though.
AB: We got some pretty good reasons from people about why they’d chosen you. A lot of people said about you being a good fisherman stuff like that. All of this factored in. We’ve retired that question now.
IC: Yeah, we’ll have to think of another one now, involving you, and we’ll give you the results next time.
CR: Well, for the record I have no bones to pick with Henry Rollins.
AB: That’s good. I’m glad there’s been no Hot Water Music/Rollins Band gang fights. I’m using Naomi’s phone, so I’m gonna have to let you go man.
IC: Alright. Have a good gig Chuck!
CR: Thanks man, and enjoy your holiday. We’ll see you soon!
AB: That’s about all I’ve got for you Chuck. Thanks for doing this and have a good show tonight.
*** This is a reference to Ian sending Chuck a message on Facebook earlier in the year. In his profile photo, Ian was pantsless and showing his arse to the camera.
After a few tech issues (there’s always something, isn’t there) Under The Bridge is back. Episode #12: I Saw Chris Wollard In Ken’s Kebabs – a subtitle inspired by an El Morgan Facebook status update from six months ago – is not the only offering we’ll be delivering unto you this festive season. As per usual it’s a show full of debauchery and everything should be taken in good humor and with a pinch of salt. This week we discussed how Rihanna hypnotizes her listeners, the awesomeness of the new Crazy Arm single and we took at look at our nominations for Album of the year.
Go on, have a listen:
Under The Bridge #12: I Saw Chris Wollard In Ken’s Kebabs (right click/ctrl + click to download or Subscribe for free on iTunes)
- Sonisphere Lineup News
- Biffy Clyro Talk X-Factor
- Frank Turner Playing Intimate London Show
- Earache Records Merch Shop Now Open
- Coldplay Making Concept Album
- Get Free Angels & Airwaves DVD With Macbeth Shoes Purchase
- Sharks Signed By Rise Records
- Gorillaz Bassist Hasn’t Had A Stroke
- Pre-Order New Against Me! 7″
- Ja Rule Arrested
- Yo Gotti and OG Boo Dirty Involved In Brawl, Shooting
- Album Of The Year
Jason Black – a man of very few words.
Just before the gig at the lovely Leeds Irish Centre, situated in the middle of fucking no-where, we got to have a wicked cool chin-wag with How Water Music bass player Jason Black. We asked him about touring, Against Me! and, Ian’s new best friend, George Rebelo.
Ian Critchley: First of all, how’s it going?
Jason Black: Good, well.
IC: Is the tour going good so far?
IC: Is it good to be back in the U.K?
JB: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a long time. So we’re happy we could over here, we’ve been trying the last couple of times we came over to the mainland, but it just didn’t happen so it’s nice we could fit it in. For sure.
IC: Is there anything happening with the Draft?
IC: So that’s all done and dusted?
IC: We spoke to George on the Against Me! tour, and he told us to say hi to you.
IC: Are you totally pissed off that he sold you guys out for AM?
JB: No, because we’ve all been doing other stuff for longer than he has, so it’s kinda like, you know.
IC: That’s actually one of our other questions, what are you doing at the moment, other than HWM?
JB: Oh, I play in this other band called Senses Fail.
IC: Oh! Do you play is Senses Fail?
IC: Aww, no way, I never knew that! I read an article saying that you and George came up with the original style for HWM?
JB: Err, not really, I think it’s different for every song. It’s a pretty organic process, it just kinda depends on the song really. It could start anywhere or end up end where, it just depends on a whole number of things really. Kinda whoever has a good idea, we just take it and run with it.
Anthony Barlow: Speaking of song writing, how do you write the lyrics? Is it collectively?
JB: Nah, Chris and Chuck just handle that. I mean, they work together on stuff to make sure that it makes sense for both of them but I kinda leave that to them.
AB: Do you consider this a full HWM reunion or are you focussing on other projects more?
JB: Both ya know? I think everyone’s gonna keep doing as much other stuff as possible, but we’re gonna keep doing this too, so as much as we can. It’s complicated to get everyone’s schedules worked out but the more we’re doing, it’s starting to get a bit easier. I think we’re making a little bit of headway in figuring out how to do a few more things in the future hopefully.
IC: Are we going to have a new HWM record soon?
JB: Yeah for sure.
IC: Is there any material so far?
JB: There’s a little bit. Nothing that’s very far a long.
IC: So there’s nothing being played tonight?
JB: Oh no, no, no, no. No way. No way. We just really, in the past couple of months, decided we were going to make that happen and now were just in the stages of trying to figure out how to schedule that with everyone too.
AB: You’re playing the Irish Centre, but you were originally playing a different venue in Leeds, why was the venue changed?
JB: I think for size. We needed a bigger place I guess.
IC: How come there isn’t a Manchester date?
JB: We only had time for, originally three shows, then we added the Portsmouth gig on at the end because we were going back down into Europe.
IC: We spoke to Chuck last time, when he was on the tour with Frank Turner, and he said about a collaboration album with Brain Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, how come you guys didn’t tour together, seeing as your tour schedules are pretty similar?
JB: We just kinda wanted to do our own shows, because we haven’t been over here yet. I think going out with other bands is something we’ll do more off when we get a new record out. Because right now, we’re not promoting anything new, we just kind of playing shows for the people who want songs.
AB: It just came out of the fact that, Chuck said he wanted to do a tour with Brian to promote their thing and then, when we found out you two were touring.
JB: We saw a couple of guys at the show in London, we’ve run into them a bunch of times so far.
AB: Frank was at the show last night wasn’t he?
AB: Thought so.
IC: Has George officially left?
JB: No, no. He’s still 100% in the band.
IC: Is it the drummer out of Lagwagon whose playing with you?
JB: Yeah. Dave’s playing with us, he has been doing as far as we have it planned now, because Lagwagon doesn’t tour a whole awful lot.
IC: I think the last time they did a U.K tour was about four years ago.
JB: Yeah. I know they’re coming back over in July, but I don’t know if they’re coming up here or not. So he’s in a bunch of bands that don’t tour a ton, so it works out. So far it’s worked out well to where he’ll be able to do what George can’t do for the time.
IC: Is he better than George on drums?
JB: They’re both good. They’re both awesome and they’re both different so it’s been cool to play with a different drummer and I mean he’s definitely doing an awesome job and killing it. Everyone whose seen the show has said it’s totally awesome, no ones said that’s been weird or feels different.
IC: Leatherface (though I actually said Leatherhead like a fucking moron) are kinda like a major influence, is that the main influence for Hot Water Music?
JB: No, I think, we came into even a few years after we started the band. I mean, everyone listens to drastically different stuff. I think the whole kind of deal with our sound is that everyone’s coming from pretty different worlds, as far as our “go to” stuff is to listen to.
AB: A lot of bands say that Hot Water Music are an influence, how does that feel?
JB: It’s cool!
IC: There’s a band from near us that must be about 10, 20 years older than you but are totally influence by you. They’re called the Great St. Louis. Does it now feel weird influencing people older than you?
JB: Yeah, that’s a first I think!
AB: A lot of people say that your version of Radio is better than the Alkaline Trio version?
JB: I don’t know about that. I think their version is pretty good.
IC: Why was Till The Wheels Fall Off released on No idea and not Epitaph?
JB: We’re out of contract with Epitaph and we’d put most of that stuff out on No Idea over the course of the years so it was easier to kinda throw it together.
IC: Who does the artwork for Hot Water Music?
JB: Our friend Scott Sinclairs done all of them.
IC: Even on The New What Next because that’s kind of a different style
JB: Yeah, it’s the same guy though.
IC: Is he a just a friend of yours, is that how it came about?
JB: Yeah, we’ve known him for for a long time and he’s a super killer artist so it’s works out really well.
IC: Finally, we’ve got kind of like, a joke question.
IC: We ask everyone.
AB: It kind of ties in with what’s going on actually.
IC: If Chuck Ragan, Henry Rollins and shark had a fight, who would win?
JB: I think I’m gonna have to go with Rollins on that one.
JB: He’s straight edge! He’s definitely got the edge on everyone else.
AB: Is this some kind of Hot Water Music backlash on Chuck? You and George both said Rollins!
IC: This is mutiny!
JB: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s be a nasty fight, but I’m gonna to go with Rollins on that.
AB: You all secretly hate Chuck is what it is.
IC: We’ve got two readers questions as well and then we’re done, a guy called Ralph said, what do you feel about Georges drumming on the new Against Me! record? Do you like it?
JB: I think it works really well with the songs. If he played that for us, I’d kill him! Like dude, spice it up a little bit! But I think that’s the nature of their band. It sounds great and it works really well with the songs and I know he worked really hard on it. I think they made a really good record and I’m stoked for him!
IC: A guy called Dan asks, are you playing any covers tonight?
JB: I don’t know. I haven’t seen the setlist yet, we do a little bit different every night.
IC: Well thank you very much!
JB: Yeah yeah! No problem!
Here’s one, of time passed…
We thought it would never happen, after break ups and semi-make ups, Hot Water Music have finally touched U.K shores and are blasting the hell out of some, or what seems like, some old mans social club in the middle of fuck knows where known only as, the Irish Centre. Okay, I’ll do a little run down first, because it’s me writing this and it’s never a straight forward day is it?
We started the day, met in Manchester, got the train to Leeds. My heart was broke at one point when a 5 or 6 year old girl on the train turns to her mother and says, “Mummy, I love you.” I’m such a sucker.
In Leeds, we meet up with the fourth member of our usually 2 strong team, Mr Joe Brownridge. So far we have Anthony Barlow, Danny Rayner, Mr. Joe and myself. Being the ultimate arsehole I am, I decide it’ll be a good idea to walk to the Irish Centre, with not an ounce of knowledge of where it is, after an hour or so of walking through Leeds council estates (big fun) we decide to rely on the bullshit technology that is the iPhone.
So we get to the Centre, eventually get an interview with the lovely Jason Black and as we return to the venue Milloy are part way through their set. They play with such intensity I have to take a moment to think back to when I saw a support band play so well, can’t think of any right now. Next up is the Magnificent, who supported the Lawrence Arms on their Leeds venture, the crowd do not seem interested in the bands songs or on stage banter, but I do not think they played bad. At the end of their set, Chuck Ragan joins them for a full band cover of Alkaline Trio’s “Bleeder” which frankly, was the perfect start to what everyone had been waiting for…
Hot Water Music take to the stage and the crowd, frankly, go ape shit. A brief introduction and we’re straight in there. They open with ‘A Flight And A Crash’ (check the title duh!) and the place explodes. Before anyone can take a breath we’re followed by ‘Remedy’, a fan favourite and the last single (to my knowledge) to be released by the boys. The set continues with other well known songs such as ‘Wayfarer’, ‘Giver’ and the song that gave the album ‘Caution’ it’s title ‘I Was On A Mountain’ (such a tune).
The intensity of the band cannot, or has not been matched by any band I have ever seen. Chuck Ragan’s hard rocking antics, Chris Wollard’s borderline cocky crowd smiles and the deep concentration of the face of one of punk rocks best bassists, Jason Black. I’d say it is unfortunate, and I guess it is, but due to joining Against Me! George Rebelo is not on the drum kit tonight, luckily, Lagwagon drummer Dave Raun, who does exceedingly well (Oh Mr. Kipling!), playing songs that he didn’t write.
The set is a brilliant blend of new and old, featuring old classics such as ‘Free Radio Gainesville’, ‘Just Don’t Say You Lost It’ and ‘Alachua’. After and intense non stop perpetual boner of a setlist, the band retire, leaving the crowd anxious and almost riot bent on just a few more songs, and like fuck they’re not gonna give them to us! The band return to stage, and give a shout out to their good friends, a band called “The Bouncing Souls,” they tear into a rendition of “True Believers” (much to Sarah Hadfields regret as she was not there) which rivals the original in a way that I’m sure shocked a few BS fans.
A couple more songs, Kerrang! favorite, ‘Choked And Seperated’ and finally ‘Turnstyles’ and the best night of my life comes to a close. Well kind of….
We ring a taxi under the pseudonym Sebastian DeBlanc, and head towards Santiago’s, the best pub in the world. A lot of Against Me!, Nofx and Black Flag and then a lovely train ride home. Fuck yeah!
Seriously, this interview doesn’t deserve to be on a music website. We’re off to work for Woodsmith Magazine!
He might be best known for being a part of Hot Water Music, but Chuck Ragan is a man of many talents. He’s bringing his brand of Floridian country music to the UK in support of Frank Turner and, some might say, he’s outdoing the Winchestrian troubadour…just a little.
Ian Critchley: Because of Hot Water Music, I got into a lot of stuff. Charles Bukowski and Mark Twain just to name two. Is there anything, be it music literature or film that you’d like to recommend to the readers?
Chuck Ragan: Well, you named off a lot of categories there *laughs*. Theroux, he’s a brilliant author. That would definitely be a top choice. What else did you ask for? Music? What have I been listening to lately? There’s an incredible band called The Low Anthem, that’s fantastic. They’re from Rhode Island in the States. There’s another band I’ve just been starting to get into that’s pretty brilliant as well. The Devil Makes Three. Man honestly, since my wife and I have been doing the Revival Tour, I feel like the influx of music around our house has just quadrupled, because not only are we getting a lot of submissions from people who want to play it, but it’s kind of just the way the networking has come together it’s been so much easier to just find incredible music out there. It’s just constant around our house, but yeah those two are fantastic for sure.
IC: There’s this tour, then there’s the Hot Water Music tour is there ever gonna be a Rumbleseat tour or is that as the album implies?
CR: Is Dead. Yeah, but right now I’m writing a record with Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem and we’re planning. He may, most likely, do the Revival Tour in the States early in 2011 and our goal is to bring it over here to Europe and to the UK. I hope he could be on it. We’d love to play shows for the record and tour on the record as far as I know, but I don’t know how much or the extend of it all. Gaslight is putting out a new record in June, so they’re gonna be pretty busy.
IC: How did it come about, this new project?
CR: I just called him up and said “Hey, you wanna write some tunes?” *laughs*.
IC: What kind of stuff is it gonna be?
CR: Well, mostly it’s gonna be all acoustic and maybe along the lines of Gold Country, the last record. We’re recording it in the same studio and producing it ourselves. The songs are really relaxed and just a lot of fun. We’ve been sending them back and forth to each other for a little bit. We have ideas for some real good friends, and really talented artists, that we want to bring in and see what kinda sounds we get. Who knows, man? I just couldn’t be more excited about it.
Anthony Barlow: Just to go back for a second, you’re taking the Revival Tour to Australia this year aren’t you?
CR: Yeah, we are. In April. We’re gonna have Frank Turner on that one, Tim Barry from Avail and Ben Nichols from Lucero.
IC: It’s great. I really hope it does come over to the UK, because it’s basically like all my favorite artists in one place.
CR: You wouldn’t believe it too, the show’s so different from probably any show you’ve seen. It’s just non-stop music. It goes for three, three and a half hours, sometimes four hours long. It actually stays interesting all the way through, so it’s a good time.
AB: You’ve been doing a lot of charity work too?
CR: Not enough man, never enough. At the end of this tour I’m doing a Haiti relief benefit
IC: Is that the one with Jonah Matranga?
CR: Yeah, yeah. In Los Angeles, but we’re kind of in the works of trying to do a lot more with the Revival Tour. On the past two Revival Tour’s we’ve done little things like we bought a guitar and had a guitar raffle and all the proceeds went to an organization called Musicares. Years ago, I cut my hand really badly.
IC: Yeah, was it on a wine glass? I remember reading about that somewhere.
CR: Yeah, it was a broken glass. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to use my hand again, but Musicares was an organization who we found. Man, they just really stepped up to the plate for us and helped out, along with my mother-in-law, with helping make the ends meet whilst I wasn’t able to work. I do two things to make a living, I play music or I do carpentry work and both I need my hands.
IC: That was actually one of our questions, we weren’t actually sure that you were a carpenter. I’d read it before, but I wasn’t sure. I’ve got a quote from you down here. I’m not quite sure whether I just made it up, or dreamt it, but there was something you said that went along the lines of: ‘There’s something amazing about writing a great song and playing it to a crowd, but there’s also something great about crafting a great piece of pine”. Words to that effect.
CR: *laughs* Yeah, I’m definitely not the best carpenter out there at all. I started working with wood when I was a young kid, building skateboard ramps with my brother and over the years, being in a band, it was always tough to hold down any secure job with any company. I’ve always been some kind of independent worker. We’re musicians, we do all kinds of stuff. Working from restaurants, to garbage, all different kinds of construction and I got into construction at a young age and just really kind of got interested in building and carpentry work from there. Once a family took me in when I was going through a tough time. He was just a brilliant, fine wood worker. I lived above their cabinet shop and I helped him build his home. At that point I’d only built a couple of homes before, but helped him build his home. We worked on it for about three years and did it the old school way. Most of the wood we milled ourselves. It was mostly, in those days, a lot of hand drives rather than using pneumatic tools. It’s just a once in a lifetime experience. People don’t build homes like that anymore, because it’s not cost efficient unless you want that look.
IC: It’s a lot more personal isn’t it
CR: Oh yeah, but after meeting him and building that home I got really into just, simple, fine wood working. Doors, windows. Like making custom doors and custom windows and that’s kinda how I made most of my living, doing carpentry work. Wood floors whatever, crown molding…
IC: Surely there’s a big contrast between your carpentry work and playing on stage?
CR: Yeah, but in all honesty, I’ve always had just as much passion and that’s probably what I was getting at with that…whatever I said *laughs*. I’ve always had just as much passion working with wood as I have writing a song, because to me they’re kinda one and the same. Whether I’m building for myself or I’ve been hired on to do a contracted job or whatnot. When you look at a space or whatever and you have to design something. That’s what I love about that kind of work, is doing design build stuff. When I sit down with someone, it’s like “ok, what do you want? How do you want to use it? What kind of material?” and you basically create this idea and then you source materials and then you materialize that idea and then you utilize that idea. To me, that’s the same as sitting down as sitting down with an inspiration for a song and writing a story, kind of mapping it out, coming up with parts and then writing that song, putting it together, going into a studio, putting it on tape, having that record materialized and then holding that and utilizing that, playing it.
IC: Is that why you self-produced Gold Country?
CR: Yeah, a little more fulfilling, but a lot of reason is for years all the sessions I’ve done have had a very strict time frame, budget, everything and it was like ‘go, go, go, go’. There was a lot of stress. It was just kinda chaotic and sometimes that’s good, because it kinda puts a fire under you and you just go right at it and whatever happens, happens. That’s great, but I just wanted to do a record that was more raw, stripped down and just kind of relax more doing it. Having control of the budget and the time frame, I was kind of able to space it out and go into the studio and just truly want to be there every time I was there working on it.
IC: How do you feel the response has been towards it?
CR: Oh, it’s been brilliant. I could never ask for more. Everything I’ve ever done, I feel like I’m just completely blessed to even be sitting here talking with you guys.
AB & IC: *laughs*
IC: That’s a bit…
CR: I mean, I’m just being honest with you. I mean, to have these opportunities. I never dreamed this as a young kid at all. I had no idea. Y’know, I just wanted to learn how to play some chords. Man, to me, I fulfilled everything that I’d ever dreamed a long, long time ago and I just feel like everything that has happened and everything that’s happening is just another blessing along the way and I don’t take it for granted.
IC: Do you feel playing solo is a more personal thing then and the full band thing is more, not fun, but more rowdy, if you know what I mean? A ‘guys in a band’ kind of thing?
CR: Yeah, yeah definitely. I mean, I’ve been bringing along some great musicians with me, doing my solo stuff and, definitely, a lot of the songs a lot more personal. A lot of that just comes from the writing. Not that they weren’t personal in Hot Water Music, it was just the fact that we wrote more all together. We would write individually, but we were also a collective. One person would bring a song in and we would just rip it apart and put it back together, where four of us would agree. There’s a lot of great things about that and then, at the same time, there’s pro’s and cons to both. Playing wise, I love it both. Even the acoustic stuff, it’s high energy, but my acoustic guitars are a lot lighter than old Les Paul’s, easier on the back.
IC: You’ve had your own custom guitar made haven’t you?
CR: Yeah, yeah.
IC: Was that exciting for you?
CR: Yeah *laughs*
IC: Does it make you feel like a true rock star?
CR: *laughs* I don’t know how it made me feel. I opened it up and I was pretty, like, “do I deserve this?”. It made me want to take more guitar lessons, to be honest. Yeah, that was a huge honor, a huge honor. Eastman has been very kind to us and have been very supportive of the Revival Tour. We had them donate the guitars that we raffled off for Musicares and also the Society Of Singers. Yeah, that was pretty insane. The first time I opened that up and saw it, wow.
IC: Well, we’re pretty much out of questions. Thank you
AB: Yeah, thanks a lot.
CR: Thanks so much for making it out.
Thanks a lot to Chuck and everyone who helped make this happen. However, I think there was one obvious question, what with all that carpentry talk, that we think was missing – “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”. Then again, Chuck’s a big guy, we wouldn’t want to piss him off, would we.