INTERVIEW

Tyler Trotter talks the Formation of Watter, Beer, and Hoverboards! Read more

INTERVIEW

Louisa Solomon of The Shondes on Reclaiming Pejoratives, Public Image, and Being Thrown Into the Sun! Read more

LISTEN

Tropical Trash Stream First Single "UFO Rot" from Upcoming Full-Length Record Read more

Saturday, March 28, 2015

INTERVIEW: Louisa Solomon of The Shondes on Reclaiming Pejoratives, Public Image, and Being Thrown Into the Sun!

Pictured above: The Shondes drink fancy booze in a fancy way.
There is a kind of manic energy in the music of NYC rockers The Shondes, like that flush of punk fury and activism that surrounded so much of the music I came up with in the mid-90's like Fugazi, Bikini Kill, or Sleater-Kinney. The Shondes create modern anthems for a generation inundated with information and always looking for something new, curators of both style and politic. You can catch them make my dream of a brunch show mostly a reality (there would need to be La Z Boy seating a a breakfast buffet replete w/mimosas for my vision to be truly complete) this Sunday for a special matinee show at The New Vintage with Julie of the Wolves, for what I believe is their first show in a while, and Hailey Wojcik with doors at noon. We sat down and sent words about the band, their thoughts on the world, and immortality to singer/guitarist Louisa Solomon and she was kind enough to respond.

Never Nervous: How did The Shondes start?

Louisa Solomon: Back in the day I was in a punk band and convinced my new friend Eli, who was a violinist, to join us at practice one day. It was news to him that violin could be a punk instrument. When that band dissolved, he and I realized music was what we wanted to do seriously with our lives, and we started The Shondes. It has taken a few lineup rotations, a few record deals, and a few albums to actually feel great about the project -- but hey, we're finally there!​

NN: How do you all write? Does everyone bring something in, or is it entirely collaborative?

LS: ​We have always been a collaboratively-oriented band, though almost every song starts with one person's solo writing. I'll write the lyrics and the chord structure, and bring the skeleton of the song to rehearsal, or to one other collaborator (usually Eli, sometimes the guitarist) for a development phase. Eventually everyone makes their mark on each song.​ It's important to have vision, and to be willing to let it evolve with other people's ideas.

NN: Do lyrics or lyrical ideas come first, or does the music? What drives each song?

LS: Songs can start either way - words or music -- or most often, with both at once. A hook, a refrain, something. The driver can be any of these pieces and I think the "magic" in the creative process is basically about not being over-prescriptive about the order things should happen in, and following a little idea wherever it takes you.​

NN: What does the name of the band mean? Is there an objective truth in your music, or is that for the audience to decide? Is it possible for a member of the audience to be wrong about an interpretation of your work?

LS: The Shondes means "the disgraces" in Yiddish. We liked the idea of reclaiming a pejorative word in a language we love. People should freely interpret our work! I don't generally think "right" and "wrong" is the way to think about interpretation, though on occasion someone asserts the definitive "meaning" of a song, and they're wrong, and we tell them so. We read these interpretations aloud in the van to entertain ourselves on long drives.​

"The Shondes means "the disgraces" in Yiddish. We liked the idea of reclaiming a pejorative word in a language we love. People should freely interpret our work! I don't generally think "right" and "wrong" is the way to think about interpretation, though on occasion someone asserts the definitive "meaning" of a song, and they're wrong, and we tell them so. We read these interpretations aloud in the van to entertain ourselves on long drives.​"

NN: Relative to that, what, if anything, is the relationship between band and audience like? Does public response in any way dictate the band's actions?

LS: I think we have been quite close to our audience all along. Early on, our friends, friends of friends, and broader community were most of our listening audience, and even though that has changed, we still approach audience more like community than like "fan base." ​

NN: What does it mean to be a feminist in 2015?

LS: There's no singular answer to that. Being a feminist in 2015 for ME means the same thing it did in 1995 -- recognizing structural oppression, opposing patriarchy, thinking critically about the intersections of identities, and how people are privileged on the basis of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. and people are to varying degrees, dehumanized and denied basic freedoms​…. Being a feminist means being committed to ending domination of all forms. It means I think people should all be able to have fulfilling lives and be treated with respect. I could go on.

"Being a feminist means being committed to ending domination of all forms. It means I think people should all be able to have fulfilling lives and be treated with respect."

NN: In the film "Instrument" about Fugazi, there is a scene where they discuss how their fanbase mythologizes them into something absurd, supposing that the band is monk-like or that they eschew fun because of the intensity of their political discourse. Has The Shondes ever been mis-characterized as something other than how you live your daily life? For that matter, what's a day in the life like on or off tour?

LS: ​For the most part Shondes fans have embraced our music and our politics. And I think our fans know that we are human beings who are both very serious and totally dorky and goofy. We have a lot of fun on stage and that shows, so any fan who has seen us live knows that. On the other hand, as an individual in the world​ I feel i've often been mischaracterized as overly-intense or overly-serious. The band is a place I feel protected from accusations like that! People come to the Shondes for heartfelt intensity and also a good time. At least that's what they tell me. So in a way I feel more "seen" and "whole" (less mythologized) on stage than I ever have in community.

"On the other hand, as an individual in the world​ I feel i've often been mischaracterized as overly-intense or overly-serious. The band is a place I feel protected from accusations like that! People come to the Shondes for heartfelt intensity and also a good time. At least that's what they tell me. So in a way I feel more "seen" and "whole" (less mythologized) on stage than I ever have in community."

NN: How effective is activism by way of music? What kind of power is there in that platform –music- over another?

LS: Music is special -- it pulls you in and if you're moved by the sound, it really takes you through an emotional experience.​ I don't think of it as activism "by way of" music though, I just think some songs help move people politically-emotionally, or compel people to try to be better, or to commit to things.

NN: Is there ever a time where the business or music has to take precedence over activism or vice versa?

LS: No. A music career includes navigating capitalism and trying to participate in justice struggles​, just like the rest of life! I don't see it as precedence of one thing over another, just a constant effort to do the best you can in a sometimes-awful world.

NN: What constitutes a good show and why? What about a bad one?

LS: ​We consider a "good show" to be one where we can really see that the audience is moved, excited, happy afterwards. It could be 10 people or 500 people, but if they're moved by our performance, I'm happy.

NN: Would you live forever at your current age? Would that answer change if your life was suspended in perpetuity at a different age?

LS: I believe in change! Don't get me stuck anywhere. If I could maintain my physical wellbeing, yes, I'd probably want some of that, but aging is amazing. It's a definitive part of living life! Give it to me.​

NN: If you could throw one person into the sun, who would it be and why?

LS: Being thrown into the sun sounds amazing. Or do you mean, being burned alive? We were just talking the other day -- I have this intense justice orientation, which means I sometimes have revenge fantasies, but they're all about making someone UNDERSTAND how they've hurt people and suffering as a result of the realization. I don't tend to wish violence on people. Maybe a sucker punch to a really bad person -- but not a fiery death. What kind of justice would that be?

"Being thrown into the sun sounds amazing. Or do you mean, being burned alive? We were just talking the other day -- I have this intense justice orientation, which means I sometimes have revenge fantasies, but they're all about making someone UNDERSTAND how they've hurt people and suffering as a result of the realization. I don't tend to wish violence on people. Maybe a sucker punch to a really bad person -- but not a fiery death. What kind of justice would that be?"

But in a totally unrealistic, cartoony way, I'd like to spend some time in the sun. It sounds warm and bright. I like napping on hot sand and rocks. Would it be like that?​

NN: What non-musical thing have you interested lately? Read, watched, eaten, or drank anything that has you riled up recently?

LS: We ate some excellent food on our way down the West coast and then across the southwest…. green chile always gets me riled up. ​

NN: Last but never least, what is your top five desert island album picks and why?

LS:  Bruce Springsteen's The River and Nebraska
Otis Redding's Blue
Bill Withers' Best of (sorry is that a cop-out?)
Hole's Live Through This

Let's hope this doesn't happen though!

Friday, March 27, 2015

LISTEN: State Champion has a New Record Called "Fantasy Error" on the way and a New Single to Go With It!


State Champion has announced that a brand new full-length record called Fantasy Error will be released May 26th via Sophomore Lounge. This will serve as the band's third album, and will be their first since their excellent 2011 effort Deep Shit. If heartfelt rock and roll with a slight twang is your thing, there's no doubt you'll fall head over heals for State Champion. Stream the first single (which happens to be the title track) from Fantasy Error below.


Now that you know what you're getting yourself into, get your soul hyped for Fantasy Error by watching the promo video below. It certainly worked for us!


WORTH MENTIONING: Coincidentally, singer/guitarist Ryan Davis has another record with another band coming out the same day as Tropical Trash will be releasing their first full-length record UFO Rot. Read more about that here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

WATCH: My Morning Jacket Made a Hype Video for their Upcoming Record called "Under The Waterfall"


The new My Morning Jacket album isn’t here yet, however we can rejoice that one is on the way. It’s called The Waterfall and it will hit the streets May 4th; to get you jacked the band made a hype video entitled "Under The Waterfall."


Do you like seeing your favorite band walking around aimlessly in beautiful scenery? Do you want to see split second shots of the recording studio? Do you want to hear pieces of stories that aren’t really explained?

Maybe. Or you’re just like me and are just dying to hear what the new album is going to be like. Well good news is hear! The new MMJ album sounds like it’s back to some of the rock roots that we heard on Z. It appears that we can all look forward to a badass performance at Forecastle now.

Let’s be honest though, do we need a teaser to know this album is going to be good? No. So just watch it and be excited that you are alive and experiencing this sonic imagery.


INTERVIEW: Tyler Trotter talks the Formation of Watter, Beer, and Hoverboards!

Pictured above: Riles (left) and Trotter (right) at the haunted speaker museum. 
For the last fifteen years or so, Tyler Trotter has been at the forefront of some of the most interesting music in the city. When I met him, Trotter was in the criminally underrated Strike City, which was a fusion of prog, indie, and minimalist composition; take the finesse and craftsmanship of Peter Gabriel era-Genesis, the tonality and musculature of The Shipping News, and the compositional wherewithal of Steve Reich and there you have it. From there, Trotter went on as a member of dub-indie band The Children, and later as a member of Phantom Family Halo. Along the way, Trotter somehow found time to help open and run The Louisville Beer Store on E. Market St., and Holy Grale and the Gralehaus in the Highlands, all of which feature some of the absolute brews in the city and a charming atmosphere. In the last few years, Trotter has been working with Grails guitarist Zak Riles and Slint drummer Britt Walford in the band Watter who are set to re-release their debut album This World on tape via auralgamiSOUNDS replete with a previously unreleased track. You can catch Watter at their release show this Saturday, March 28th with Steve Gunn, Ryley Walker, and Nathan Salsburg at The New Vintage. We caught up with Trotter to talk about the bands pedigree, beer, and hoverboards.

Never Nervous: I know you were working with Zak Riles prior to the formation of Watter. How did you come to incorporate Britt Walford? How did the music evolve once he was on board?

Tyler Trotter: When Zak and I first started playing we kind of thought of our initial approach to be a recording project with as many different guests as we could get. I asked Britt if he would like to come join us sometime, and he said yes. From that point on it became more clear that it was going to become an actual band (not just a project). I would say that adding Britt to the mix really helped us create more of a direction for what we were about to record.

NN: Since the formal conception of the band, there have been a few collaborators brought on board, including Rachel Grimes of Rachel's, Todd Cook of The Shipping News, Slint, The For Carnation, et al., and Tony Levin of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel. As two of the three are bassists, why not just bring one in permanently to play? Is that an aesthetic or logistical decision?

TT: We wanted Todd Cook to be a permanent member early on, but Todd is a very active musician and this was just something we were having fun doing in our spare time. We didn't know that we would actually release a record and we certainly didn't know that we would eventually become an active band.

NN: Relative to that, how did you get either on board? What was it like working with Todd Cook or Tony Levin?

TT: Todd came over for one session. We jammed out what would later become, "Seawater." The goal was to get a drum and bass track that was solid enough to create something with. In my mind, it's one of the stronger songs on the record. Britt and Todd locked in on a groove almost immediately. As for Tony, that was a last minute decision that worked out as far as timing goes. Just a couple of email exchanges and several days later we had some bass tracks in our Dropbox. Zak is the editing and mix guru. He is responsible for taking so many parts and turning them into the songs that are on the record.

NN: Does the pedigree of the lineup ever serve as a distraction from the music? That a lot of the writing I've seen (and created) has made certain to reference the ex-members of list, seems to be ultimately irrelevant to the final product, which is the band's music. Or is it important to contextualize things in a way that people can readily assimilate?

TT: It has never been a distraction to us. I'm sure some people listen to it expecting to hear more of a Slint or Grails influence. When the record was first announced it was shortly after the Slint box-set was released. None of the music was out there at first, just the buzz that there was a new band with "members of Slint, Grails and King Crimson" and "Britt Walford's first role in an active band in nearly twenty years." Of course these are all things that sound intriguing and from a publicity standpoint I totally get it. Without those mentions we would not have sold as many records or played as many shows. I agree that it's ultimately irrelevant to the music, but I do think it helped create an initial interest in the band.

NN: I've seen the words "experimental music" or "avante garde" used to describe your music. Do you think either expression is an accurate representation of what the band is trying to do, or redundant in a 2015 musical landscape that has plenty of likeminded individuals?

TT: As much as I would like to say "Instrumental Music," that really just isn't enough to explain what it sounds like. On the album there are several songs that sound completely different from each other. Really each song could be classified under totally different genres. I definitely don't think that either "Experimental Music" or "Avante Garde" is an accurate description of our music. Maybe "Experimental Production" would be a little more fitting.

"As much as I would like to say "Instrumental Music," that really just isn't enough to explain what it sounds like. On the album there are several songs that sound completely different from each other. Really each song could be classified under totally different genres. I definitely don't think that either "Experimental Music" or "Avante Garde" is an accurate description of our music. Maybe "Experimental Production" would be a little more fitting."

NN: How did you come to work with JC Denison and Matt Dodds at auralgamiSOUNDS? Why release the album on tape? What's interesting or vital about that format?

TT: JC and Matt are old buddies and I love what they are doing with auralgamiSOUNDS. Releasing the album on cassette is something we are all really excited about. I still listen to cassettes and I think it's a unique way of hearing an album. I prefer listening to vinyl and cassettes more than CDs or MP3s.

NN: What can you tell us about the previously unreleased track to be included on this release? Why was it unreleased before?

TT: "Digital Camo" was released originally as a digital bonus track. We needed to cut a song to make the album fit on a single 12" record. We decided to cut "Digital Camo" because it didn't flow quite as well with the rest of the songs on the record. There is more space on a cassette so we decided to add it. It is from the same recording sessions and it was actually the very first beat Britt recorded with us. It's much more "upbeat" than the other songs which has made it a lot of fun to perform live.

NN: It flew under my radar, but I just found out a few months ago that The Children released a retrospective full length in October 2014. Can we expect the same for Strike City?

TT: I would love to say yes, but I'm afraid the honest answer is no. Maybe we'll manage to get something up on Bandcamp at some point... Who knows?

NN: For that matter, why did Strike City stop? Has there ever been any hope for a reunion or reconstitution of the project?

TT: There was a time when there might have been hope for reforming Strike City, but it really was more of a fantasy. Being in a band should be something you do for fun. The second it isn't fun anymore is a good time to call it quits. I'm really happy that it happened and I wish more people could have heard the music, but I suppose it is what it is.

"Being in a band should be something you do for fun. The second it isn't fun anymore is a good time to call it quits. I'm really happy that it happened and I wish more people could have heard the music, but I suppose it is what it is."

NN: How do you balance operating several successful businesses, the responsibilities of a band, and the day-to-day grind of everything else?

TT: I have an amazing partner, Lori Beck, who runs the businesses. She has allowed me to take a step back and be able to focus more on music. Without her the businesses wouldn't be successful and I would've never had the free time to make any music.

NN: Considering those responsibilities, how do you manage the time to tour? How was that last tour, by the way?

TT: The three of us are very busy in our daily lives. We really don't have the time to tour so we need to pick the shows and tours that we do play very wisely. We did five shows last April on the West Coast and then ten shows on the East Coast last October. Both tours were supporting the record and opening for Om. In February we did sixteen shows in Europe co-headlining with, Lilacs & Champagne. Three weeks in Europe was kind of a stretch for us. Normally we wouldn't be able to do more than two weeks. Also any touring we do needs to be fairly well spaced apart. It's definitely not easy for us to just go on tour when we feel like it. Unfortunately those days are long gone. The shows have been really great though. I know we all feel very fortunate to be able to play this music as often as we have.

NN: What constitutes a good show and why?

TT: Energy. If we are tired, you'll know. If our energy level is high, we will perform better and everyone in attendance will mutually feel that.

NN: Would you rather own a hoverboard, a jet pack, or a lightsaber? Why?

TT: Hoverboard. I hope to still be alive when these actually are a reality. I would only hurt myself with a jet pack, and the only thing I would do with a lightsaber is sell it to some obsessed Star Wars fan.

NN: What is the worst song you've ever heard and why?

TT: That is a tough question. There are so many bad songs that I am exposed to way too often. In general, popular music is just depressing these days.

"In general, popular music is just depressing these days."

NN: What non-musical things have you excited lately?

TT: Spring weather. This Winter was brutal and I'm excited to see everything come in to bloom and be able to enjoy being outside more frequently.

NN: Care to recommend any good beers?

TT: The Kernel "Biere de Saison." I love this beer! Unfortunately we don't get their beer's in the US. Something we do get that I can recommend is Oskar Blues "Pinner." It's a session IPA in a can that is going to help make this Summer that much better.

NN: Read or watched anything intriguing lately?

TT: I have not read much lately, but I have enjoyed watching "Better Call Saul." I also watched "St. Vincent" on a plane recently and really liked that too.

NN: Suggest any good food?

TT: Chef Joshua Lehman at Holy Grale is running a special that is a local, thick cut pork chop that was inspired by a meal we had while in Köln, Germany. It's pretty much the tastiest thing I've had in awhile. I also can't stop eating the burger at Gralehaus... I don't even like burgers, but this one is addictive.

NN: Last but never least, what have you been listening to lately and why should we?

TT: Bing & Ruth "Tomorrow Was the Golden Age" has been the soundtrack to my life for the past three or so months. I'm excited to see them this Sunday at the Big Ears Festival. It's pretty much the only thing I've been listening to as of late. I also just bought an original vinyl pressing of Ashra "Blackouts" while I was in Paris. Having only heard this album in a digital format, listening to the vinyl is almost like hearing it again for the first time. I'm so happy I found a copy of it! It hasn't left my turntable since I've been home. I strongly recommend both of these records to any fans of instrumental music.

LISTEN: Tropical Trash Stream First Single "UFO Rot" from Upcoming Full-Length Record


Over the last five years or so, Tropical Trash have continued to make outstanding loud, abrasive indie rock. They've taken that classic post-hardcore recipe that 90's Louisville bands like Rodan brought to center stage, but tweaked it into their own unique aggressive brand. After releasing a pair of awesome 7inch records and a few appearances on cassette, Tropical Trash are finally ready to release their debut full-length LP UFO Rot on May 26th via Load Records. After its release, the band plans to tour both the United States and the UK. Preview the record by listening to the first single which happens to be the title track below. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LISTEN: Alcohol Party Releases "Complete Recordings" as a Flash Drive

Photo of Alcohol Party by Bryan Volz
Noisy indie rock band Alcohol Party decided to call it quits a year or so ago, but that doesn't mean they're music is any less awesome in 2015. To celebrate their short lived existence, they have released a 16 song album which includes what I understand to be everything the band has ever recorded, which I'd guess is the reason they're calling it Complete Recordings. These songs are physically available for you to purchase on individual flash drives. Check out the packaging:


Is this a thing? If so, I had no idea and am (again) behind the times. Pick up a tangible copy of Complete Recordings at Astro Black, Guestroom or Modern Cult. However, if flashdrives ain't your thang, you can still buy this excellent collection of music digitally at the Alcohol Party bandcamp page.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LISTEN: Lydia Burrell - "Safe"


HOLY SHIT: Stop what you're doing and check out the newest from Lydia Burrell, which is one of the best indie-pop records I've heard in a while! I'm not a fan of superlatives here, we here at Never Nervous aren't about contests or trying to be better than any other artist, but goddamn, Alex Smith knows what he's doing. This is a remarkably delightful listen with the sort of soaring highs and melancholic lows part and parcel to the Louisville indie dynamic, but with a pop flair that easily puts this on a national stage, if not more. Lydia Burrell has often been one of Louisville's best kept secrets, at least so far as I'm concerned, and "Safe" only further cements that. Not that I want this to remain a secret, or, you know, I wouldn't announce how righteous it is on a public forum. So here's to hoping that David Geffen or Rick Rubin are reading this right now, and gets Smith and company the national accolades that they so very much deserve.

While I love, love, love our city and it's rich musical and artistic history, I still find it dubious to emphasize a musicians setting as if that is there only qualifying factor. You can be from Louisville and not have a local sound, so to speak (White Reaper, Houndmouth), or you can have a definitively Louisville quality, identified here as sort of brooding intensity and less as any particular stylistic approach, which is part of your broad appeal (Watter, Old Baby, Anwar Sadat). In each case though -hell, in every case ever- your sound is linked inextricably to your setting, be that in terms of your attraction to create like your peers, or desire to do something completely foreign in comparison. Lydia Burrell has the best of both worlds, making something that is both incredibly rooted in hometown tradition, but so much more at the same time. Just check out the lyrics to album closer I Like Where I Live, and tell me this anthemic ending shouldn't be on a Kentucky travel video:

On the top of the world
where the light in the summer lasts forever
There's a spot on the globe where the whole Earth
is glued together
I might go there some time
see what it's like
but it's more than likely I'll never
I'll be here in my house
with the blinds all drawn down
trying not to spend all of my time counting down
All the places I'll never go
all the cities I'll never see
how fast time is leaping away
how much money that I would need
Out west there's a spot off the coast
where the sun goes to sleep
but no one has ever succeeded
in catching it beneath the sea
I may try that sometime
see if I can
but if I never capture that dream
you should know I was lucky
to be born in Kentucky
with the people who made me me
And I like where I live
If in fact this road only ends in defeat
and all we lose are wasted expectations and greed
and if it takes a shallow soul to succeed
and we all have to wall in our loved ones
or displace refugees
Then I'll still have a place under the ground
somewhere between the Ohio and Bardstown
in a city of mixed blessings
a poet boxer, and scenic gambling 
But I like where I live

Listen to the album below and buy it at the link above. And tell us what you think in the comments here or wherever you read it. We want to know. Dive in:


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