Interview: A Weather

A Weather

Portland-based A Weather released a new album called Everyday Balloons earlier this March. The latest record is a hushed-voiced gem, but I’ll leave my in-depth thoughts for an upcoming album review. Until then, satiate your A Weather appetite with the following interview. Frontman Aaron Gerber was kind enough to field my highly disjointed questions about the latest record, understated moments, and stuffed animals.

IndieMuse: How do you think the overall sound of Everyday Balloons builds on the sound of your previous record Cove?

Aaron Gerber: I’d say that Everyday Balloons pushes the dynamics a bit more than Cove does. The focus is more on the electric guitars whereas with Cove the acoustic played a more dominant role. There are more cacophonous elements to Everyday Balloons (our guitar player, Aaron Krenkel, uses the word “raucous” which I think is fitting). There is also maybe more playfulness with the arrangements and overall more layering of overdubs. But paradoxically I feel like Everyday Balloons also has a more direct live sound to it. We wanted to use as much of the natural room tone as we could when recording.

IM: A Weather lyrics take the time to appreciate the understated moments of day-to-day life, like in “Third of Life” when you say “Take a breath and brush it off / Brush your teeth and sort your socks.” I’m wondering if your lyrical attention to small but beautiful everyday moments explains the album’s title, Everyday Balloons i.e. admiring the little moments that often go by unnoticed but are kind of remarkable for all their quietness.

AG: It’s important for me to ground my writing in the concrete world. I’m trying to give the listeners those little moments you mention as means of getting their bearings, little recognizable elements one can grasp among the weirder or more abstract stuff. I don’t want to create a narrative or a confessional, but I do like the sense that there is something real going on, even if you can’t be certain exactly what it is. For me the title Everyday Balloons has multiple meanings (the more I sit with it the more it continues to change), and the interpretation you describe so nicely can definitely be one of those meanings. I would never want to create one way of orienting the listener towards our music or my lyrics, or say that there is one over-arching theme to the record.

IM: What are some of your favourite everyday, understated moments?

Hmm. I take walks to the grocery store. I enjoy petting cats that I meet around my neighborhood. Sarah [female vocalist in A Weather] and I love going to Sauvie’s Island (a bit of farmland on the outskirts of Portland) during the fall. Cooking is a big hobby of mine.

Interview continued after the jump…


Cove (2008):

(mp3) A Weather – Shirley Road Shirley

MySpace | Website | Purchase

Interview continued after the jump…

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Amber Rubarth Interview


Amber Rubarth, a singer/songwriter whose beautiful music is getting worldwide attention, just got back from a US tour with Joshua Radin and Gary Jules. We got a chance to catch up with her and learn about the tour, her life as a independent artist, and what inspired her to pick up a guitar for the first time at the age of 20 and pursue a career in music.

IM: Hey Amber, welcome back from the tour! How was it?

AR: The tour was AMAZING!!!!  Truly fantastic.  I was familiar with Gary Jules & Josh Radin’s recorded music but hadn’t seen them much live… so first and foremost it was wonderful to see their shows every night and fall in love (over and over again) with their music.  Second, it was my first time on a tour bus (!!) and my first time to Canada!  Loved both. In fact, I’m missing it still.

IM: Do you have any memorable experiences you can share?

AR: Tons and tons of memorable experiences, but some of my favorites were (1) bike riding through new towns with Joshua ~ he found a pawn shop in Toronto where all the bikes were $80 so we took ours on the bus with us…. and (2) my birthday 9/21 where all the boys surprised me with a big cake in Ohio.  And (3) singing on stage with Josh and Gary the last night, that was a ton of fun.  I love those guys, the whole band, the whole crew…. everyone was truly wonderful.

IM: That’s awesome. Who invited you onto the tour?

AR: I’ve heard two different things of how I was asked… I found out through someone I know at MySpace who said they submitted me as a “good idea” as an opener, Josh said he heard of me from Brett Dennen a while ago (who I opened for in CA, he’s amazing!!) and told his management he wanted me to open.  I had met both Josh and Gary once at the Hotel Cafe where we all were on the same night for a benefit they were having, but hadn’t really talked more than a few minutes to either before the tour.  Now I count them both as close friends and it looks like we might be touring again.  Everything was so perfect, I was smiling every day of the tour.

read more of the interview after the jump.

Good Mystery (2009):

Amber Rubarth – Pilot

Site | Myspace| or buy Good Mystery at MF, where artists earn all the money (a new project I’ve been working on!)


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I Met The Walrus

One day in 1969, a 14-year-old from Toronto skipped school on a rumor that John Lennon was in town. With a tape recorder and unassailable determination, Jerry Levitan snuck into Lennon’s hotel room and conducted an intimate audio-interview that has been animated into what was the 2008 Academy Award winner for “Best Short Film.”

Levitan’s interview dealt with PEACE and how human beings can foster healthier environments for such an important concept to flourish. Lennon, a man of sincere wit and ambition, does not disappoint with his insights in the least. With the addition of surreal pen-animation, this interview is transformed into a work of art. It combines the spontaneous, excited energy of a revolution with the precise, scrupulous perfection of visual art in animation. Inspirational and humbling all at once, I Met The Walrus is not to be missed. Check it out:


For more info on this short, visit the I Met The Walrus Official Site.

Jim James (My Morning Jacket) shares his favorite books


It was a nice surprise to see that this weeks edition of the great magazine The Week featured a list of Jim James’ favorite books. James is the frontman of My Morning Jacket, has a side project ‘Yim Yames’ under which he made a tribute album for George Harrison, and is one of the members of the power-group, Monsters of Folk (with Conor Oberst, M.Ward, and Mike Mogis). Here is the list if you are looking for some book recommendations. I’m actually way behind on reading and could use a recommendation from his recommendation list if you can help out.  (And I apologize if you thought the above photo was Seth Rogen. It’s not. Besides, I don’t think Rogen reads anything besides comic books.)

Monsters of Folk – Temazcal

My Morning Jacket – I’m Amazed

My Morning Jacket – Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (Velvet Underground) @ Bonnaroo 08

Jim James favorite books (via The Week) :

Be Here Now by Ram Dass (Three Rivers, $15).

I was given this book at a point in my life when I needed it most. I digested its meditations on consciousness and spiritual identity, and knew I had met a lifelong friend. “Be here now.” What else needs to be said?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Picador, $16).

The mini-universe created within these pages, lost in time but forever timely and relevant, never fails to move. The human experience, the heights of emotion, the depths of sorrow, love, war, loss, and comic books are all vividly portrayed in Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel.

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

(Harper Perennial, $15). Monkey wrenchin’. Stickin’ it to the man. For his 1975 comic novel about a band of eco-saboteurs, Abbey invented some of the most memorable characters ever set into motion. High adventure in the great American West. Pure mental cinema. Great escape with a great message to boot.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

(Vintage, $15). One of my favorite voices. What creativity and depth Eggers poured into every aspect of his personal story about his family’s tragedy. What a good force for this planet Eggers has since become! All the proceeds from the sale of his recent novel What Is the What go to benefit the Sudanese in America and Sudan.

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf; drawings by Robert Lawson (Grosset & Dunlap, $4).

“All the other little bulls he lived with would run and jump and butt their heads together, but not Ferdinand.” This simple story about finding peace and contentment within oneself remains relevant more than 50 years after its publication.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Vintage, $16).

This was the first of Murakami’s books to grace my mind’s eye. I liked it so much I read all his books back to back and found myself lost in one giant blended story of surrealism so normal and strange. music blog (free)

I know it’s a website, but what can I say?!?! Love at first site. Best. Music. Blog. Ever.

Okay, maybe the last one isn’t real, but we can pretend, right?

Roundup: Wilco

(Photo Credit: Doug Mason)

(Photo Credit: Doug Mason)

After this year’s Bonnaroo I can safely say that YES, Wilco is a touring band at its prime. The recently released Ashes of American Flags tour DVD gave me new insight into the workings of a group that, in my opinion, has overcome considerable struggle and years of obscurity to finally be standing strong at the peak of their art. After previewing the stream, Wilco (The Album) felt empty without Tweedy’s anxiety and experimental energy–it’s what defined masterpieces like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. Nonetheless, there are new, beautiful aspects of the band that shine bright this time around–in addition, the new album is also considerably different from Sky Blue Sky. In my obsession of what I consider to currently be “The Great American Band,” I’ve stumbled on a few blog-gems that I will share with you, leading up to the release of Wilco (The Album). First, here’s a few minutes of Wilco (at Bonnaroo ’09) courtesy of Billboard Music.


Recently, The LAist published an extremely insightful interview with Wilco guitarist (and “Guitar God”) Nels Cline. In the article, Nels is approached about the new Wilco album, due out in a week or so. He answers questions about Wilco’s songwriting process as well as thoughts on his own project, The Nels Cline Trio–an avant-garde jazz group. If for no other reason than to learn about a true artist and a dying breed, check out the article. There’s also a fantastic video of Nels’ part on “Handshake Drugs” as well as a link to Nels Cline’s list of his Top 200 Guitarists.

OneThirtyBPM wrote a post a month or so ago that covers all you’ll need to prepare for new Wilco, complete with track lyrics and live versions of many of the songs on Wilco (The Album). After listening to their new songs live, it is fantastic to see how they are adapted for the stage and it’s even more interesting to see how they’ve already improved on songs that haven’t even been released yet. It’s definitely a more time-consuming post, but it’s worth it. ZIP file included.

Finally, just a quick note on the June 30th release of Wilco (The Album), if you order from Wilco World before the album comes out you get a full 256kbs download on release in addition to the physical media. Also, if you pre-order, you can download the track “You Never Know” right away. This track, incedentally, is also going to 7″ for a limited time in honor of Vinyl Saturday (from the creators of Record Store Day). The 7″ will include “You Never Know” as well as “Unlikely Japan,” an unreleased Sky Blue Sky track–a precursor to “Impossible Germany.” Since we all love nerding out on b-sides and rarities… this is welcome. More info on that at Nonesuch Records.

Home | MySpace | NoneSuch Records | Hype Machine | AllMusic | Wiki

Pre-Order Wilco (The Album) NOW: The Wilco Store | NoneSuch Records | Amazon | iTunes | InSound

Don’t Worry, I’ll be posting Wilco’s show from Bonnaroo 2009 soon!

To end, I leave you with a Glenn Kotche interview by Nashville’s Lightning 100 fm. Kinda hard to hear, but it’s funny… just not ha ha funny.


Interview: Sarah Moody of Hardly Art

(pictured above, Sarah Moody spilling a bowl of cereal all over her lap)

Sarah Moody is the General Manager of Hardly Art, a fledgling label founded by Sub Pop early last year. Already they have a roster of six national bands, and boast international distribution extending to the U.K. and New Zealand. Sarah co-manages the label with General Employee Nick Heliotis, who, with a little help from neighbors Sub Pop, run the day-to-day operations. And although Hardly Art do share some resources with Sub Pop, as Sarah mentions below, they are two entirely different labels.

I first spoke with Sarah sometime over the summer when I did a profile on Pretty & Nice, and have since kept in touch with her for various reasons, all of which regarded my obsession with Get Young. (And you know, maybe sometimes I was just looking for a little conversation). So after a while, I figured, why not do an interview! She does cool things! And with music, no less!So here we have an interview with the (soon-to-be) illustrious Sarah Moody, dispelling myths about the relationship between Sub Pop and Hardly Art, illuminating the label’s origin, and generally talking about what it takes to be a wicked sweet record label.

To start things off, how did you get involved with Sub Pop, and how did that lead to your job at Hardly Art?

I interned at Sub Pop in ’04 with Steve Manning in the publicity department – I was a junior in college at the time, so the idea of being somehow involved (albeit unpaid) with one of my favorite labels was a dream come true. I moved to Seattle for the summer, and went in pretty much every day… it was basic stuff for the most part – helping out with mailings, putting together press kits, updating the press database, etc. – but I got to meet some great people and go to a ton of shows, so it seemed like a good deal to me. In the fall I had to go back to Minnesota to finish school, and the following spring I sent Steve an email asking if he’d need help again that summer (this is while attempting to decide whether to move to Chicago or Seattle) – he wrote back almost immediately, so I decided to head west. Shortly after, he offered me a part-time job as his assistant, which eventually led to me being hired full-time in Sub Pop’s publicity department. I was there for about a year and a half, until I was offered the chance to be involved with Hardly Art, and switched over to that job. It’s a classic case of good timing, for the most part.

What are you trying to do differently as president (is that your official title?) and what do you see in the future of Hardly Art?

My official title is General Manager, and Nick (Heliotis) is the General Employee. In terms of how Hardly Art is different as a label, we run on a net profit split system – which tends to be friendlier towards the artist – and our contracts are very fair and basic. We try to make that process as straightforward as possible. Given that there are only two of us in the office here, I like to think that we have a stronger bond with our artists than many larger labels would – we’re here to promote each project and help our bands figure out the game of putting out what tends to be their first record. It’s a pretty supportive system.

How does Hardly Art find their talent? Do you use scouts? How reliant are you on MySpace?

We’re generally on the lookout for bands, which can include anything from finding small web articles, to getting tipped off by a friend or another band, to catching smaller bands at shows… it’s all pretty random. There are a few people at Sub Pop involved in the A&R for Hardly Art, which definitely helps. I personally don’t rely on MySpace much, but I know others use it, or are able to find some crazy band circles/associations just based on filtering through top friends and such. We also receive a decent amount of demo submissions, though I’ve yet to be blown away by any of those.

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Interview: Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin are new to the scene, signing to Witchita (which handles Conor Oberst, Broken Social Scene and Bloc Party, among others) earlier this year. I first met them in New York when our bands shared a bill at Pianos. It was their first time in New York and they had officially signed to Wichita a week prior. Almost immediately following the signing, they flew to New York for two shows and a video shoot.

Classifying them as brit-rock would be easy. It’s all there; jangly guitars, groovy, nearly danceable back beats and, um, their being a bunch Brits playing rock n’ roll. But then they dip into some Pavement-inspired dissonance, throw some delicate vocals over abrasive, ever-evolving guitar lines and use the bass and drums beat the hell out of the middle ground. And it all sounds so pretty. They’re the type of songs that make a walk to work an epic journey, or an ordinary dusk a romanticized cityscape. Listen to Sky Larkin and weave in and out of people on the sidewalk. It is a lot of fun.

They just returned from a three week European tour with Conor Oberst, and are embarking on another lengthy tour with friends Los Campesinos. In between all that craziness, lead singer/head-songwriter Katie Harkin found time to answer a few questions, via e-mail, about getting signed to Witchita, recording their album and getting fed by Conor Oberst’s crew. And below, way below, find some mp3s and the video for “Fossil, I,” shot in Brooklyn.

So, typical background questions: How long have you been a band/how did you meet?

We’ve been a fully fledged band for about 18 months. I started writing songs that would end up becoming Sky Larkin when I went to London to study but it was only when we all moved back to Leeds that things really got going.

You told me a little about recording your new album, somewhere in Seattle – how did you get hooked up with the studio? Was your label involved? Was there any pressure to record a certain type of album?

Wichita asked us what we wanted to do, and we wanted to work with John Goodmanson because we loved the sound of some of the music he had produced (Death Cab, Sleater Kinney, Blood Brothers, Bikini Kill). We had no pressure to record a certain type of anything! Wichita are a very artist-friendly label and they were interested to see what kind of noise we’d make together.

How did you become involved with Witchita? From what you told me, it sounded like a fairy tale story – is your experience at all typical for European bands? Is the label system there as fucked as it is here?

Well we only have our experience to reference, but out of the labels we spoke to, it seemed like no-one does it quite like Wichita! There are amazing labels out there so don’t lose heart!

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