Our Interview with The Vaccines

There is a noisy party going on in Freddie Cowan from The Vaccines room. “I am having a party on my own!” he yells above the racket. “I’ve got the Thrills on now, a blast from the past…”

Recently Freddie held a party in his hotel room in Mexico that went on for two days, “but I don’t want to talk about it,” he says, not entirely convincingly, before adding, “We weren’t playing The Thrills that day. There were members of the Maccabees, some of Florence’s band, but not Florence! Just good people doing good things,” he laughs, “ in a nice, safe environment.”

So where are you right now and what are you doing?
I’m in Stockholm. It’s a beautiful day and we’re not playing until tomorrow, so I’m going for a haircut, then I’ll be sending some stuff to friends in New York for Halloween. I want to go and explore Stockholm now. It’s beautiful and the people are pretty.

What music was playing in the house as you grew up?
A lot of blues music – my dad played blues guitar; John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, T-Bone Walker. There was also a lot of British classic rock, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. He grew up in Stockton and would see bands like that playing in the local theatre or cinema. And my mum liked a lot of Motown, so it was pretty good education!

What was the first record you fell in love with?
That was probably The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. I mean, I loved the Pokemon record when I was ten, but the one I first committed to was Rubber Soul. It was all about that painful first break up! Michelle and Girl were the songs I’d listen to as I’d sit and doodle on my desk and feel crushed. Actually, as a much younger child I loved James Brown, particularly Cold Sweat. That was the one for me.

What was the first record you bought?
The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, but it was a mistake! I went to HMV to get something else, but all the Pixies albums were only £3 and there was a half-naked girl on the cover so I got that instead. I liked Bone Machine, but it took me a few years to really appreciate the rest of it, I was probably only 11! I also used to skateboard a lot, so we would try and find records by the punk bands we heard on skateboard videos. That’s how we found The Strokes. We were looking for The Stitches and found The Strokes EP that came out a while before they were hot. That’s how found The Doves, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Craig Mack and a lot of other punk stuff like the Ramones, The Damned, The Undertones and my favourite, The Buzzcocks as well as hardcore like Minor Threat.

Did you ever go straight edge?
I didn’t, no! But Justin (Young, singer) did go straight edge for about four or five years, but it made him ill in the end. Now he can’t stop eating cheeseburgers.

What record made you think, ‘I actually could be in a band…’?
The Velvet Underground’s first record demystified rock and roll for a lot of people. It seems simple, but it isn’t really. We loved Pale Blue Eyes from their third album too, but being in a band never seemed impossible. I loved the attitude of The Clash, they were very important too.

What five records couldn’t The Vaccines exist without?
Milo Goes To College by The Descendents, Velvet Underground’s first album, Glenn Branca’s Lesson No. 1, the Best of Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps and Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.

Does the perfect song exist?
It exists everywhere. If you’re honest, if it’s a personal commitment, then who’s to say that’s not perfect. Dolly Parton has written some perfect songs. Neil Young’s Harvest Moon is a perfect song and so is Heart Of Gold. So is God Only Knows. But they exist everywhere. Suzanne by Leonard Cohen is perfect. Perfection is about commitment – if an artist really means it there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be perfect. It’s nature, and everything’s perfect in nature.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
I was out with the guys from Trentemøller last night. The have a track called Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!! which is just brilliant, oh and Jan Hammer’s Don’t You Know is amazing. Dr John has just made a record with the Black Keys and there’s a track on it called Ice Age which is fantastic.

What records would you fight your way to the decks to put on?
None! I don’t want to push my taste on people. If I was DJing that would be different, then I’d go with Train In Vain by The Clash, Rock and Roll Pt 2 by Gary Glitter – sorry – Why Should I Love You by R. Stevie Moore, Don’t You Know by Jan Hammer and Silver Machine by Hawkwind.

That is, literally, a great party.
Oh yeah. I’d throw A Half Full Glass of Wine by Tame Impala in there too.

What would you recover to the next day?
Well, you’d have to be careful not to get too bummed out. I like Emitt Rhodes, he’s fantastic. I’d put on Transformer to get me in the mood again. Too chilled and you’d get depressed. I’d listen to Exile On Main Street, something that was cool that justified my bad behaviour. My reasoning would be, these people behaved just as badly as I have and most of them are still alive so how bad can it be?

Finally, what’s your favourite noise?
Running Water. I’d like to be by a river. A heavy river, not a stream. A big, fuck off river! When I die I want to be cremated, get thrown into a river and be washed downstream.

The Replacements

What happens when a famous band replaces the person who was the group’s voice?

Genesis

Original Lead Singer: Peter Gabriel

What Happened? Creative differences within the band and personal issues in Gabriel’s life (notably family troubles) came to the fore during the creation of the band’s 1974 prog-rock magnum opus, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, prompting Gabriel to quit.

Replacement: Phil Collins, who was already in the band as the drummer. His ascension came after the band auditioned a number of famous singers, including Jeff Lynne (ELO), Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy), and teen heartthrob David Cassidy (yes, really).

Did It Work Out? Did it ever. The band’s 1976 album, A Trick of the Tail, outsold all the other Genesis albums combined and got the band started on its move away from its progressive-rock roots and toward radio-friendly arena rock, where they’d find great success in the 1980s.

Bonus Round: Phil Collins left Genesis in 1996 to focus on solo work, and Genesis’s two remaining members, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, recruited Ray Wilson (formerly of the little-known band Stiltskin) and released 1997’s Calling All Stations. It flopped, and Wilson was fired from the band. Collins reunited with Genesis for a world tour in 2007.

Journey

Original Lead Singer: Steve Perry. (He wasn’t actually the group’s original lead singer; others before him included keyboardist Gregg Rolie, guitarist Neal Schon, and singer Robert Fleischman. But Perry was the singer during the band’s most popular era, from 1977 through 1987.)

What Happened? After a decade-long hiatus following the band’s 1986 Raised on Radio album, Journey reunited for 1996’s Trial by Fire. But their tour plans were delayed when a hiking accident required Perry to undergo hip replacement surgery, which he was reluctant to do. Annoyed by their lead singer’s indecision—he couldn’t continue touring without the surgery—the band decided to go on without him.

Replacement Lead Singer: Steve Augeri, former lead singer of the band Tall Stories, which had not had notable success. Augeri was working as a manager of a Gap store in New York City when he was tapped as Perry’s replacement.

Did It Work Out? Sort of. Augeri’s vocal delivery was reminiscent of Perry’s, and the band had a minor hit, “All the Way,” in 2000. But the album, Arrival, didn’t chart well (it topped out at #56, far below the #3 debut of Trial by Fire), and fans were ambivalent about the substitution of Augeri for the popular Perry. Nevertheless, Journey remained a big concert draw, especially when touring with other 1980s bands such as Def Leppard.

Bonus Round: In July 2006, Steve Augeri developed voice problems and was temporarily replaced on tour by Jeff Scott Soto. Soto was officially named the band’s lead singer in December 2006…and then was tossed out in June 2007. A few months later, the band hired 40-year-old Arnel Pineda, a singer from the Philippines, after guitarist Neal Schon saw videos of him singing Journey songs…on YouTube.

The Cars

Original Lead Singers: Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr

What Happened? The band rode high in the early 1980s with a series of hit singles and albums, but after 1987’s critically and commercially disappointing Door to Door, the Cars ran out of gas and disbanded. In 2000 Orr—the bassist and singer on “Drive,” the band’s most successful single—died of pancreatic cancer. Ocasek, the better-known former front man, continued with a solo career and as producer for other bands and musicians, including Weezer, No Doubt, and the Killers.

Replacement Lead Singer: Todd Rundgren, who had a notable career in the 1970s as a solo artist (“Hello It’s Me”) and as a record producer (Hall and Oates, XTC, Meat Loaf, Cheap Trick, and others).

Did It Work Out? Not especially well. The group Rundgren joined in 2005 called itself the New Cars and had only two original members: guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes. (It also included former members of Utopia and the Tubes.) The group released a single (“Not Tonight”) that went nowhere. There was no bad blood between Ocasek and the New Cars—Ocasek gave his blessing to the endeavor, although he perpetrated a fake feud between himself and Rundgren on the comedy show The Colbert Report in 2006. (The “feud” was conveniently timed with the New Cars’ “Roadrage” tour.)

Alice in Chains

Original Lead Singer: Layne Staley

What Happened? He died. As the band rose to fame with hits like “Man in a Box” and the No Excuses album, Staley was struggling with a heroin addiction that took an increasing toll on him—as well as on the band. During performances, guitarist Jerry Cantrell, whose voice sounded a lot like Staley’s, was often called on to pick up the verses when Staley wandered offstage. Staley sang with the band for the last time when they opened for KISS on July 3, 1996, and he worked in music only fitfully after that. On April 19, 2002, family members found his remains in his Seattle condo; he had died an estimated two weeks earlier. The cause of death was an overdose from a “speedball”—a mixture of heroin and cocaine. Staley was 34.

Replacement Lead Singer: William DuVall, also the lead singer and guitarist for the Atlanta-based group Comes the Fall.

Did It Work Out? So far, so good. Alice in Chains went on a promotional tour for a greatest hits album in 2006, playing club dates with DuVall as the front man. The fan reaction was positive, and DuVall joined the band again on tour in 2007, this time as Alice in Chains opened up for Velvet Revolver (a supergroup of musicians from Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots). DuVall has since been given the title of the band’s lead singer, and Alice in Chains’ Web site reports that the group is working on a new album.

Originally published in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into Music”. Translated from original text in English. Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader books are currently printed in English only.

Our Interview with Alt-J

Spotify definitely helps keep us all sane on the tour bus…”, Alt-J

Seemingly from nowhere, Alt-J have arrived, fully-formed and near perfect, with a string of great singles, a deliriously happy fan base and an astonishingly good debut album. Formed five years ago in Cambridge, the four-piece played in front of hundreds of thousands of people across last summer’s biggest and best festivals. More recently they recorded a session for Spotify, but they had to pile into a car and head off straight after, so we wrote a few questions in an email and sent them to drummer, Thom Green. He was kind enough to answer them all – even the ridiculous ones – and send them straight back. Thanks Thom!

Hello Thom. Where are you and what are you doing?
Right now we’re at the BBC in London filming for Later with Jools Holland. We’re on a break so I’m listening to music.

Tell me, what music was playing in the house when you were growing up?
My Dad used to play a lot of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Its a nice memory, very soothing music.

What were the first records you personally fell in love with?
Nirvana’s Bleach, Beastie Boys’ The Sound of Science, Deftones’ White Pony and Chemical Brothers’ Surrender.

What bands made you want to make your own music?
Chemical Brothers really wanted me to play the drums. I also had the Space Jam soundtrack which had some amazing beats on it. I don’t think there was a particular band or artist that actually made me want to be a drummer though, I kind of found it myself.

We like this line from your biog: “Joe played Gwil a handful of his own songs inspired by his guitar-playing dad and hallucinogens…” What were those songs like? Do you still play any of them?
They were great, very basic but very well written. You could hear how unique a voice Joe had very early on. We don’t play any of them anymore.

And, importantly, just how good a guitarist is Joe’s dad?
Exceptionally Good.

What five records couldn’t alt-J exist without?
We all have different tastes in music, so it’s hard to say as we never really listen to the same albums, but there were a few I remember the others listening to like, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Metronomy’s The English Riviera, Laura Marling’s Alas I Cannot Swim and Portico Quartet’s Knee Deep In The North Sea.

Do you think such a thing as the perfect song exists?
No, I don’t think so. People have different opinions on what they like. Thom Yorke said that after recording Pyramid Song he thought it was the best track Radiohead had ever recorded. They are one of the best bands in the world, so that could be the best track. I’d be happy with that. Either that or Missing You by John Talabot.

Are Alt-J Spotify users?
Joe, Gus and I are.

Have you discovered any new music through Spotify?
Every day, I love Spotify. I’m really into John Talabot at the moment his latest album Fin is beautiful. I like the radio feature on iPhone, i’ve discovered a lot through that. It definitely helps keep us all sane on tour, in the bus. I use it a lot on my Tumblr which has a lot of followers.

What new bands are you all listening to at the moment?
Princess Chelsea, Hundred Waters, Stealing Sheep and Romare.

Were you surprised by the Mercury nomination?
We weren’t too surprised, just very relieved. We’d been tipped to win before we’d even been nominated so the pressure was on. We’re very pleased.

Could you express, in a percentage, exactly how likely you think you are to win?
8.3%. If we win we’ll get extremely drunk at an after party with our friends and family.

Who would Alt-J give an Album of the Year prize to?
Hot Chip for In Our Heads.

What new element do you think Mumford and Sons brought to their version of Tessellate?
I think they gave the track a lot of space, it sounded great. It was odd at first hearing his very recognisable voice singing our lyrics that i’m so familiar with.

What five records would you literally fight you way to the decks to put on at a drunken Christmas party?
Simon and Garfunkel’s, The Sound Of Silence, Jose Gonzales’ Veneer, Laura Marling’s Alas I Cannot Swim, Princess Chelsea’s L’il Golden Book and John Talabot’s Fin.

And what records would you lie on the sofa and recover to the following day?
Radiohead’s In Rainbows and Monstar’s Harder / Bastard

Finally, what’s your favourite noise?
Fingers down a chalkboard.

A very Quietus sort of week

Our friends at the Quietus listen to a fantastic amount of new music every week and now they’re going to share what they think about it all with us. This then is the Spotify playlist they built for pretty much everything they covered last week; look out for Depeche Mode, Jimmy Scott, DJ Shadow, Kylie Minogue, Bat For Lashes, Public Enemy and many more.

There’s information on all the tracks here and there’ll be more from The Quietus later this week.

#MusicMonday playlist brought to you by @MonaFims

Our friend @MonaFims has this #MusicMonday’s recommendations.

First song in our playlist this week is by a five-piece indie rock/pop band from Brisbane, Australia. Hear “Ball Park Music” and their latest single “Surrender”. We continue with yet another Australian favorite: “Jinja Safari” and their catchy song “10 Year Plan”.

And then time for a nice dose of Swedish indie-pop! We start with a band from Gothenburg called “Happy Hands Club” and their dreamy song “I´m Not An Antidote”. We follow up with “The Royal Concept” from Stockholm. I love their song “Goldrushed”.

“Work Drugs” is an American dream pop duo from Philadelphia. Hear “Rad Racer” from their first studio albums (Summer Blood) released back in 2011.

Last song in out playlist this week is Melbourne’s Mark Pearl also known as “Texture Like Sun”, singing his beautiful song “Bottle”.

If you have song suggestions for next week’s playlist, be sure to drop them in Mona’s Spotify Inbox.

Subscribe to the playlist and you will get a mix of twenty new Feel-Good tracks every Monday.

Urban Cone let you decide when their debut album “Our Youth” will be released.

Urban Cone are set to release their debut album ”Our Youth” on 31st October. However, the band has put it in the hands of their fans to make four tracks of the album available before that. Here’s how.

Urban Cone means somebody living in the city. For this reason the band have sent out a small number of golden cones to major cities around the world. The fans can pick up these rare pieces in Copenhagen, Paris, Oslo, London and Stockholm. Not only that. The fan that posts a photo of their golden cone on Instagram with the hashtag #UrbanConeTracks will cause a track from the album to be released on Spotify in their country.

The hunt for the golden Urban Cones can be followed at: www.urbanconemusic.com

If you live in the UK, you can from today listen to the track Winter’s Calling!

New Look Soundrop app!

Today our friends at Soundrop unveiled a brand new version of its app featuring a refreshed design and exciting array of new features to make the service even more addictive and fun.

Friend notifications, new-look rooms, a lobby that makes it easy to discover rooms, an advanced chat board, top fans and songs for each room, profiles, and a whole lot more! Check out some screens of the awesomeness:

A simple restart of Spotify will update you to the new version automatically. And if you don’t have Soundrop enabled, get the app here!

Win tickets to The Expressions Sessions

We have teamed up with Philips Male Grooming to put on the first of The Expressions Sessions at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London on 30th October.

There will be DJ sets from MistaJam and Annie Mac, and headliners Rudimental will perform in a totally new style!

Click here to add the song that best expresses you to the Expression Sessions playlist in order to win tickets.

Check out new music from LL Cool J, Swedish House Mafia, Peter Broderick and Madness

We’ve got some fantastic new music for you this week!

The legendary LL COOL J is an entertainment icon who has found great success crossing into multiple mediums. Mr. Cool James, real name James Todd Smith, has been focusing on his film career with hit shows like NCIS: Los Angeles and movies like Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea and S.W.A.T, but now has found the time to get back behind the mic to release his new single ‘Rachet’.

We’ve all heard the news. Our favorite progressive house super group, Swedish House Mafia, announced their split earlier on this year and is now touring around the world for a farewell tour. Their latest album, Until Now, is an array of intensifying beats and rising acid synths that is designed for working a sweat on the dance floor. The first single ‘Don’t You Worry Child (Feat. John Martin)’ has enjoyed great chart success over the last couple weeks and we’re proud to share with you Spotify’s very own exclusive remix. Enjoy!

On 19th October 2012, Peter Broderick releases his brand new studio album on Erased Tapes, entitled These Walls of Mine. He became a popular session musician for the likes of M. Ward in Portland and has performed as a live member of the Danish band Efterklang since 2007.These Walls of Mine is his first real solo album, exploring from gospel and soul to spoken word, beat boxing and rap.

‘Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da’ is the 10th studio album from Madness. The album of all brand new material will be released on October 29th. The band team up with a number of new producers, the first time in their illustrious career they have decided to do so, to create an album of incredible pop songs.

You can now have a taste of what is to come from the album with an exclusive 5-track sampler available to stream exclusively on Spotify:

Enjoy!