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by Deirdre Kaye 10.18.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Music Video at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Q&A with Abigail Washburn

Clawhammer banjo player and singer joins Bela Fleck for Miami University Middletown concert Saturday

At the heart of even the darkest of music, it’s love that made it possible. Love of singing or escapism. Love of an instrument or a sound. A flourishing love or a dissipating love. That love is especially present in absolutely everything Abigail Washburn does. It’s a love for the banjo, a love for China and a love of people, especially her husband, Bela Fleck, and (most recently) their adorable new son, Juno.  

Washburn is currently on tour (playing Miami University Middletown Saturday; click here for tickets and more info) and she’s bringing all the things she loves with her, including her husband and baby Juno. Though Washburn and her banjo rarely tour alone, it’s a little different now that she’s touring with Juno.

“Touring is different with the little buddy. Different in a good way,” Washburn says. “In general I'd say life is richer with him in it. When we arrive at a venue, the first thing I do is grab our blanket and go looking for a big tree to lay under and stare up at the leaves and when we walk around the venue for the first time he has such strong and wondrous reactions to the smallest things. Juno helps me stop and appreciate every little detail of the way the world works. He makes it all seem new and magical.”

As adorable as the mother and son relationship seems, when Washburn references her time with Fleck, even more of that love seeps through. They have a relationship with each other and with their music that seems downright precious and magical in comparison to so many other relationships in the music business.

“We met when he was playing at a square dance and I was dancing,” Washburn says. “But I think it's our sense of place in the world and our passion to contribute to music and humanity that really sealed our deal. We love talking and supporting one another and encouraging one another to reach further and further. This is the cornerstone of our connection and the fact that we push each other to explore is what keeps us together.”


There’s still one more kind of love that fuels Washburn, though. Washburn is also whole-heartedly in love with China, too. It’s a passion that roars to life when she performs, especially.

For fans of Bela Fleck or the banjo who have somehow missed the beautiful stylings of Abigail Washburn, that love of China may seem a little odd. The banjo came from Africa and from there became mostly associated with the musical sounds of Appalachia. So … China?

It started when Washburn left the states after college, heading to China and intent on a law degree. Along the way, she picked up Mandarin and found a cool new way to play her banjo. While her future husband was tracing the banjo’s roots in Africa for Throw Down Your Heart, Washburn was bringing the East to Appalachia … or maybe she was bringing Appalachia to the East.

The connection of romanticism and adventure associated with a foreign land never faded for Washburn, even after numerous trips back to China. That passion has only grown with each new adventure in her other motherland. She’s even documented that love in a play she wrote and performed in New York called Post-American Girl.

“I think it is fair to say that it's like a love triangle between 'us' three … The US and China corners of the triangle are symbolically represented by my U.S. and Chinese mothers in the play,” she says. “A strong theme of going far away to find one's self and discover one's path in life is a big part of the struggle and the ultimate bond connecting all sides.”

Post-American Girl had a limited run in New York. However, with the help of the New York Public Theater, Washburn is hoping to develop the performance further. The hope is that eventually, it might actually tour the U.S.

Washburn still loves China and especially loves watching as others experience the country for the first time. In 2011, she set out on the Silk Road Tour with a few musician friends. Together they played music and experienced even more of China together. (You can see recaps of the tour here.)

While you can experience plenty of Washburn’s Chinese influence when listening to her music and seeing her in person, this current tour is powered almost exclusively on the love of her family and the music they can create together.

“I think both Bela and I are really enjoying playing music together,” she says about their family tour. “There's so much potential and uncovered territory in focusing on the soundscapes that can be made with the claw hammer and three-finger banjo styles. The two timbres and rolls together can sound like rippling flowing water or a swinging old ragtime bounce or driving mountain sounds and so on and on. The musical exploration together is exciting for both of us. And then on a personal level it's downright mystical to get to be together all the time and navigate the road and performing as a family.”

For even more awesome music, check out the music Washburn says “floats little Juno’s boat” like Dervish, Phil Cunningham, Paul Brady, Afel Bolcum, Oumou Sangare and Sam Amidon. She says he also likes a little bit of Bon Iver and Bonnie Raitt, too.

But, Washburn says, “So far I think banjo is his favorite!”


 
 
by Mike Breen 10.17.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Music Tonight: The Spits, Red Bull Thre3Style U and More

• Originating in Michigan and now based in the Pacific Northwest, Punk Rock trio The Spits pattern "their own new-millennial take on Punk after heroes like NOFX and The Ramones, but also tapping into the ‘70s Synth Wave dissonance that distinguished bands like Wire and Spizzenergi and presenting a theatrical component as engaging as Devo in their prime," according to CityBeat's Brian Baker. Read Brian's preview here then head to Mayday in Northside tonight for the 9 p.m. show. Admission is $10 and Useless Eaters and Subsets open.

Here's the band rocking San Francisco this spring.



• The annual Bosom Ball presented by local Pop radio station Q102 returns to Covington's Madison Theater tonight. The event, a benefit for the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, this year features ZZ Ward, Labrinth, American Authors, Serena Ryder and Walk Off the Earth. Doors open at 6 p.m. (there is also an all-ages "Sound Check Party" with American Authors that runs 4-5 p.m.; the Bosom Ball is open to ages 21 and up only). Admission is $30. Click here for more info and check out a few of the performers below.

 





• The Jubilee Peace Fest celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, returning to the Grailville Retreat and Organic Farm in Loveland, Ohio, starting today and going through Sunday. The fest — which runs 6 a.m.-10 p.m. each day — features “yoga workshops, meditation practices, cooking classes, health and fitness seminars, spiritual activism … kirtan and more, with national (and) internationally known teachers, musicians, authors, artists and chefs unfolding the path to world peace,” according to the official event page on Facebook. The festival is organized in conjunction with the non-profit World Peace Earth, whose mission is “educating, encouraging, researching and promoting a loving lifestyle to create a virtuous, kind, gentle, respectful and spiritual relationship between all beings and the earth, contributing to world peace.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking the musical lineup is all soft New Age music but, while that is represented, the Peace Fest boasts a surprisingly eclectic collection of performers, playing everything from Hip Hop and Rock to Experimental and World music. Sticman of one of best contemporary Hip Hop groups around, Dead Prez, is one of the big names performing, joining acts like Canadian “Neo-Folk World Rock ‘Country & Eastern’ Fusion” troupe HuDost, Rock band ThePeace, popular Hip Hop collaborator (and organic gardening proponent) DJ Cavem and Cincinnati native Amy Ferguson. Visit jubileepeacefest.com for a full rundown of the fest’s offerings and here for ticketing info.

DJ Cavem's Healthy Hop:


• The international Red Bull Thre3Style DJ competition returns to the area this week with a slight twist. Tonight at downtown nightclub Play, five DJs from area colleges will compete as part of the Thre3Style U competition, which is open to only full-time college student DJs. The competing turntablists are University of Cincinnati’s DJ HD and DJ EFEX, Northern Kentucky University’s DJ Underground, University of Dayton’s DJ Web and Miami University’s DJ Gabe C. Former Red Bull Thre3Style victor Apryl Reign and Kiss 107 FM’s DJ Sab are among the judges. The event is free and kicks off at 10 p.m. (Note: Play has some pretty strict dress restrictions.)



Bogart's in Corryville presents a night of Electronic Dance music, headed up by Boulder, Colorado's Big Gigantic, the duo of Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken, who've built a huge following with their unique "Livetronica" stylings. New Zealand native (now based in Australia) and funky DJ up-and-comer Opiuo opens the show at 9 p.m.

 
 
by Mike Breen 10.10.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, Music News at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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IsWhat?! Curates Night of Art, Music, Poetry and Film

Friday at The Greenwich, adventurous, globe-trotting group offers eclectic "show and tell"

Great Cincinnati-based experimental Jazz/Hip Hop group IsWhat?! is gearing up for another one of its frequent European touring jaunts, but before the group leaves, the members will be presenting a night of film, art, poetry and, of course, music, this Friday at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills, all curated by and/or affiliated with IsWhat?! in some way.

The animated short film Billie’s Blues, created by French artist Louis Jean Gorry and scored by IsWhat?! frontman Napoleon Maddox, will get its U.S. premiere at the event. Here's the trailer:

BILLIE'S BLUES trailer/bande annonce from louis jean Gorry / LouGore on Vimeo.

The show will also include the screening of Since I Saw You Last, a low-budget but entertaining visual tour diary/short film chronicling Maddox's life on the road during a recent European road stint. Check it out here.

IsWhat?!’s longtime saxophonist Jack Walker will have some of his artwork displayed and music will be provided by the local DJ squad Selectas Choice and Maddox, while Brian Greer (aka Boogie Bang) will be delivering some spoken word poetry.

Showtime for the special “IsWhat?! Presents …” event tomorrow is 9 p.m.

Here's IsWhat!?'s music video for "Hands Up Quick" (featuring a guest verse from Boogie Bang) off of the group's most recent release, Things That Go Bump in the Dark.


 
 
by Mike Breen 10.04.2013
 
 
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CincyPunk Fest Starts Tonight

Annual eclectic music festival hits the Southgate House Revial for installment No. 12

The CincyPunk Fest got its start in 2003, organized as an offshoot of Adam Rosing’s CincyPunk website. Since then, Rosing and the festival have raised tens of thousands of dollars for area charities and presented an increasingly eclectic lineup for its increasingly large audience. 

The festival returns tonight and tomorrow, utilizing the three stages at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Ky., and featuring 35 performers, many from the Greater Cincinnati area, but also some top-notch national acts, like Diarrhea Planet and Pissed Jeans.

After a decade, it probably doesn’t need to be repeated, but just to reiterate – Cincy Punk Fest is not a Punk Rock festival. The lineup includes everything from Indie Rock to Americana/Folk to Soul to straight-up Rock & Roll, with a handful of acts you could legitimately label as Punk. It reminds me of the CBGB's "Punk" movement of the ’70s, when bands like Television, The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie were all lumped together under the genre tag, though they really couldn't have been more different, sonically. Like fest performers Frontier Folk Nebraska (who are neither Folk nor from Nebraska), CincyPunk Festival (which also isn’t in Cincy) has established itself and doesn't appear to be in any hurry to change its name to reflect the increasingly diverse lineups. Which is kinda Punk, so it all works out. 

Tickets to CincyPunk Fest XII are $15 per night; advanced tickets are available here and here. The proceeds this year are being donated to the Save Our Shelter Dogs Rescue in Northern Kentucky. Music starts at 8 p.m. both nights. The event is open to fans 18 and up.

Below are Friday and Saturday's lineups:

And here are a few clips that give a good sense of the variety that can be found at the festival.



Keep tabs on the latest CPF news at cincypunkfest.com, on Twitter (here) or on Facebook (here).

 
 
by Mike Breen 09.18.2013
 
 
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The Ridges Return to MidPoint

Indie Orchestral Folk troupe from Athens to showcase twice during next week's MPMF

Athens, Ohio's Orchestral Folk Rock ensemble The Ridges has become a Cincinnati favorite thanks to frequent visits, including during several past MidPoint Music Festivals. The band is returning to MPMF this year for a pair of showcases. Since last year's MPMF appearance, the group has toured extensively (hitting the South, Midwest and East Coast hard), played seven (!) showcases at Austin, Texas' South By Southwest and, most recently, opened for Indie stars Ra Ra Riot.

The Ridges will play MidPoint again this year, on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Mr. Pitiful's on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine. The band made a promotional video for its official MPMF showcase, featuring a clip of an unreleased song called "Shadows."



In addition to the official showcase, The Ridges have curated the musical lineup for FotoFocus Presents: The MidPoint Sessions, an afternoon "day party" to celebrate the concert photography exhibit Reverberation: Capturing the Live Music Experience at the Art Academy of Cincinnati's Childlaw Gallery (1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, just off the MidPoint Midway).

Though not officially affiliated with MidPoint, the showcase and exhibit are great examples of some of the cool auxiliary events that are scheduled around official MPMF events. The exhibit will be open longer during MidPoint; fans
can check out the show until 9 p.m. on Sept. 26 and 10 p.m. on Sept. 27-28. The exhibit closes Sept. 29.

For The MidPoint Sessions, The Ridges have invited some of their fellow Ohio musician pals (and fellow MPMF 2013 showcasers) to join in on Saturday, Sept. 28's event at the Art Academy. Cincinnati's The Happy Maladies and Molly Sullivan, as well as Columbus, Ohio's great Indigo Wild are also slated to play. The performances are being filmed by The Queen City Project; look for video of the artists' Sessions after MidPoint.
 
 
by Mike Breen 08.30.2013
 
 
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WATCH: DAAP Girls' "Molly" Music Video

Cincinnati rockers host a video release party tonight at Japp's

The winners of the "Best New Artist" trophy at the most recent Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, DAAP Girls, will celebrate the debut of their new music video tonight at Japp's Annex on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.

The spooky, visually arresting clip is for "Molly," one of the many great tracks off of the band's debut album, Tape Songs (every song has a girl's name). Shot at the Kenneweg Compound in Alexandria, Ky., "Molly" was directed by local visual artist Philip LaVelle, alongside graphic designer Josh Jacob and videographer Sean Steininger. The video is mesmerizing and matches up with the lurching, dreamy swagger of the song perfectly. It's fairly low-budget, but doesn't look it, with it's creatively captivating effects and overall vibe.

DAAP Girls guitarist/singer Stuart MacKenzie provided this synopsis of the video:

"The video tells a story of five young people on the cusp of adulthood enjoying a last weekend together. (Unbeknown) to them, they are being viewed by the ghosts of their future's past. The video incorporates aspects of romance, nostalgia and magical realism to tell an alternate, complimentary story to the song."

Tonight's new video celebration at Japp's kicks off at 9 p.m. with a DAAP Girls performance, followed by the screening of the clip at 10 p.m. The band will perform after the screening as well.

Here's a sneak peek of "Molly," followed by the video's creative credits:



Directed by Philip LaVelle
Filmed by Sean Steinger and Josh Jacob
Edited by Sean Steinger, Josh Jacob and Philip LaVelle
Special effects by Josh Jacob
Casting by Erica Turer
Catering by Joe Diedenhofer
Filmmed on location at Kenneweg Compound, Alexandria, KY
Special thanks to Josh and Stephanie Kenneweg

Cast: Cody Reinhard Amir Gamble, Zachary Müller, Sarah Davenport, Rosie Carpenter, Emma Roberts, and Allison Gathof

DAAP Girls is: Jay Duckworth, Stuart MacKenzie, Daniel Peterson, Alex Duckworth, Michael Felger, Collin Thompson, Brian Gilronan.

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.29.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Local Music, Music Video, Music News at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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WATCH: Skeleton Hands' "Oxygen" Music Video

Cincinnati Darkwave duo releases creeping new clip for latest single

In February of this year, Cincinnati area Electronic/Darkwave/Post Punk twosome Skeleton Hands released its stellar full-length album, Gone (read CityBeat's review here). One of the standouts on the LP is the track "Oxygen," which encapsulates everything compelling about the duo's sound — it's dark, danceable and moody, with synth atmospherics, creeping melodies and vocals, electro-bass wobble and shimmery guitar waterfalls. 

Those retro/modern/futuristic urban-gothic sonics are perfectly reflected in the brand new video clip for "Oxygen." The ominous video — written by Thomas Stemrich (Director) and Josh Chiara (Director of Photography) of local band Holy Beast — was shot over three days in Northside and Over-the-Rhine. 

The nutshell synopsis of the video:

"In New Berlin, in the basements of post-industrial mansions, lost youths pray to shrines for nothing and participate in rituals that don’t matter. But tonight, one of New Berlin’s daughters is through with the minutia, ready to dive beneath the insincerity of cult posturing, and finally awaken the beacon of change that swells beneath the city streets. Will this be another lost night in Neverland or will she finally meet the beast of her dreams?"

Stemrich and Chiara have made other music videos, including "Night Drive" for the local act Polar Sky (Polar Sky and Skeleton Hands both record for locally based Racecar Productions). Sharfe says "Night Drive," and now "Oxygen," are unofficially akin to part of a "series," with the Polar Sky clip setting the "New Berlin" tone initially, and the Skeleton Hands' video taking it further.

"In the New Berlin videos, we see Cincinnati through a dystopic lens," Sharfe says. "Prostitutes, cults, deities, people with holes in their torsos. Strange stuff."

Skeleton Hands are currently taking pre-orders for copies of Gone on vinyl. Click here to get in on the action. "Oxygen" will be available as a single this fall through Racecar. The single release will feature remixes, including ones by Kontravoid and the aforementioned Polar Sky.

The duo also returns to the MidPoint Music Festival this year, coming up towards the end of September in various venues around Over-the-Rhine and Downtown. Skeleton Hands is slated to perform at 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, at MPMF venue Below Zero Lounge (on Walnut Street, next to Emery Theatre). Click here for MPMF tickets (or visit Fountain Square Friday night between 8-11 p.m., where you can buy tickets in person — one night only — for $10-$20 off).

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.27.2013
 
 
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Seeds Keep Growing

Members of The Seedy Seeds get busy after band announces "break"

On June 4, one of the more beloved bands in Cincinnati (and, increasingly, the rest of the country), Indie Pop greats The Seedy Seeds, announced that they were going on "break" on their Facebook page. The post was worded to suggest this is an "indefinite hiatus" — the words "break up" were not used, but there's no sign of activity from the band on the horizon (fans are also leaving "R.I.P." messages on their Facebook page).

In the "break" announcement that sounds like a "goodbye" one, the trio writes, "While we each have new projects to which we must now turn our energies, it's very hard to imagine how to live any moments from this point on as anything but Seedy Seeds."

Some of those new projects have been making themselves known recently. Seed Margaret Darling has been performing her solo material regularly on the local club front and, yesterday, it was announced she has some touring in her immediate future.

The band Distant Correspondent, described as Indie Dream Pop and featuring members located in different cities around the world, announced that Darling will be joining them on their upcoming fall tour. The supergroup made itself known to the public earlier this year and received a lot of press right off the bat. The band features David Obuchowski from Brooklyn's Goes Cube, the U.K.'s Emily Gray (from British Post Rock crew and John Peel faves Meanwhile, Back in Communist Russia), multi-instrumentalist Michael Lengel on drums (whom Obuchowski met when he moved to Colorado) and Seattle bassist Tyler Wilcox, as well as fantastic Indie singer/songwriter Edith Frost (who is not touring with the band this fall).

Here's what Obuchowski had to say about bringing Darling into the fold:

Being in a band with members in different cities and even countries is pretty liberating. Sure, it's not always the easiest thing in the world from a practical standpoint. But the flip-side is that it affords us the opportunity work with musicians we love, even if they don't live close.

With that in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we'll be bringing along Cincinnati-based solo artist, MARGARET DARLING as our featured vocalist for our upcoming record release tour. We're big fans of Margaret's solo work, and her work in the now-defunct Cincinnati indie-pop powerhouse THE SEEDY SEEDS. In fact, when it came time to put together a show in Cincinnati for our record release tour, we asked Margaret Darling to share the bill with us before we tapped any other artist. Margaret's music (as a solo artist and with her former band, The Seedy Seeds) has been described as "dizzying, perplexing and wonderfully fun" (NPR), and "no less than impressive - intimate and addictive" (CincyMusic.com).

Darling is joining the tour as "guest vocalist," beginning on the opening date in Denver on Oct. 23, the day after the band's self-titled album is released through Hot Congress/Old Flame Records. Click here to check out the music video for the Distant Correspondent track "Summit."

Meanwhile, Darling's Seedy Seeds co-founder Mike Ingram has been busy as a road sound technician, but he has found time to work with a new collaborator, great local singer/songwriter/guitarist Jasmine Poole, who works under the name Wonky Tonk.

Ingram (who harmonizes and plays guitar) and Poole have been working on new Wonky Tonk material and, given their hectic schedules, they even created a cyber-concert for fans to check out while they wait for it.
 

Wonky Tonk Live Aug 2013 from Wonky Tonk on Vimeo.

As luck would have it, both musicians are currently in town and tonight will be performing at the Nothside Tavern. The free show (in the club's "front room") features Wonky Tonk, Mr. Pointy and Kyrst and starts at 9 p.m.

Also in Seedy Seedsland, the group's drummer, Joe Frankl, has poured all of his focus back into his great Pop Rock trio of the past 10 years, The Frankl Project, alongside bandmates Jake Trippey and Paul Schroder. The band has been doing regular tour dates in support of its excellent new album, Standards. The band is hosting the album's local release party this Saturday at the Northside Tavern. The show is free and features special guests The Pinstripes, The Happy Maladies and 46 Long.

Here's a teaser The Frankl Project posted on YouTube. Click here for more on Frankl Project.

 
 
by Mike Breen 08.21.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Music News, Music Video at 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Crown Jewels of Jazz Festival Begins Today

Multi-act, multi-venue Jazz fest brings in big names, showcases local talent

The ambitious Crown Jewels of Jazz Heritage Festival kicks off today with a special concert in Washington Park featuring Philly Jazz/Funk/R&B squad PIeces of a Dream and local faves Marc Fields and Airwave. The expanded festival and new format this year is the work of Kathy Wade and friends, who run the Learning Through Art non-profit.

The Jazz Heritage Fest isn't a one-stop event. Besides Washington Park, numerous retailers, bars and restaurants in Over-the-Rhine and Mount Adams (across seven street blocks) will be a part of the fest's "Global Village." These venues will feature live Jazz each night of the fest and offer 20% discounts on their goods and services. It's a great way to get people to explore the thriving neighborhoods.

•    Another Part of The Forest
•    Below Zero Lounge
•    Iris
•    Urban Eden
•    Japp’s
•    Mayberry
•    Mr.Pitiful’s
•    Neons
•    Pet Wants
•    Switch
•    Segway
•    Symphony Hotel
•    Taste of Belgium
•    Zula
•    Art Beyond Boundaries
•    Couture Couture Boutique
•    Park and Vine
•    Little Mahatma
•    Venice On Vine
•    Clay Street Press
•    Street Pops
•    Atomic Number 10
•    Ensemble Theater
•    The Know Theater
•    Elementz
•    Mt. Adams Bar and Grill
•    The Blind Lemon
•    The Grotto
•    Longworth’s

Tomorrow (Thursday), Crown Jewels joins forces with the It's Commonly Jazz series in Eden Park's Seasongood Pavilion. Great vocalist Gregory Porter will perform at 6 p.m.

On Friday in Washington Park, Phil DeGreg's Samba Connection will be joined by singer Mandy Gaines and The Cincy Brass are also set to perform.

Saturday, the fest wraps up with headliner Diane Schuur, as well as Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra and Kathy Wade.

Single-day wristbands are available for $15 or you can purchase one good for all four days for just $40. There are also limited edition VIP wristbands which will get you into four "Meet the Artists Receptions" after each of the big four concerts. Proceeds benefit Learning Through Arts' Books Alive! For Kids, a performing arts/literacy program.

Wristbands for Books Alive! are available at the Aronoff Center Box Office and online at learningthroughart.com here.

 
 
by Amy Harris 08.16.2013
Posted In: Live Music, Interview, Music Video at 01:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Q&A with Eric Bass of Shinedown

Shinedown's Carnival of Madness tour hits PNC Pavilion Saturday night

Shinedown has been touring on its most recent album, Amaryllis, for the last two years and has just started its Carnival of Madness tour to complete touring on the record. It is the band's biggest, brightest and loudest tour yet. With each album, Shinedown's rocking sound shows bigger energy and different sides, as well as different looks. 

CityBeat was able to catch up with bass player Eric Bass to discuss life on tour and the close bond the band members have, even after all these years. Shinedown will be tearing up the PNC Pavilion at Riverbend on Saturday night on its Carnival of Madness tour stop with Papa Roach, In This Moment and Skillet. (The concert is sold out.)

CityBeat: You guys have really been successful with the last couple albums. You have been on the Billboard charts for over two consecutive years. Did you ever expect that would happen?

Eric Bass: Did I ever expect it? I always hoped it would happen, I guess. You work really hard. We have this thing we say: "Keep your head down, stay humble and move forward." We are blown away by the success. To be honest with you, if you had told the 17-year-old me this was what was going to be happening, he’d be ecstatic. I can’t say that I expected it to happen. We wanted it to happen. We worked really hard for it. We are not surprised, I guess you could say, because of the hard work. It is a true blessing to be able to do what we do and have the success we have had.

CB: The band has been touring constantly. How do you make time to write new songs on the road?

EB: We actually don’t write on the road. We like to separate the two. We go home when we are done with this tour. We will lock ourselves away for a year and write as many songs as we can. Then, when we are done with that, we will go out and tour again and complete the process. We wrote “Diamond Eyes” on tour because it was for a movie soundtrack. That was the first experience we had with that. It worked out and everything went well with it. We work really hard when we are on tour. We are a go-go-go all day long band with interviews, meet and greets and that sort of thing. So there is really not a lot of time to get in and be creative like that. We prefer to separate the two and that creates the situation where each record is pretty different from the others because they are different times and you are not overlapping time periods. You are separating into blocks. It makes the records really interesting. 

CB: I have photographed you on your last couple tours. Your shows have grown larger and larger with more pyro and turned into huge Rock shows. How did you guys prepare for Carnival of Madness?

EB: Well we started talking about it two or three months ago and we said, “It’s not going to be small.” That was the whole thing. We were going to make it as big as we could possibly make it. We are bringing our whole sound system with us. We are bringing our own lights. We are bringing our own pyro. We basically have carnival performers that are out with us. It is just a conscious, concerted effort to, every time, step your game up. We have sort of become known for that when we do these big headlining runs. We don’t want to disappoint anybody. People paid good money and want to see a great Rock show and that’s what they are going to get.

CB: You actually have carnival performers on stage with you?

EB: We actually do, yes. It’s going to be fun. I think everybody is going to really enjoy the show.

CB: The first show was this past weekend. How is it going so far?

EB: We are one down. We have the second one tonight. The first one was great. Internally, we found a couple things we could do differently, do a little bit better. We are definitely going to do that. The first show was great. The crowd was very receptive. It was awesome. I think tonight is going to be even better. Then the Cincinnati show, by that time, we will be well-oiled machines and veterans.

CB: Shinedown has a huge social media presence. Why is it important for you guys to stay connected to your fans in that way?

EB: Because the fans are the reason we get to do what we do. We never forget that. The fans are the boss, the most important thing. The fans buy the tickets, they buy the records. I have to say, and it’s going to sound cliché but it’s not meant to be, we have the best fans. Our fans are ridiculously loyal. We like to keep up with them. We actually know … you would be surprised how many fans we know. I’ll see fans at meet and greets that I will know from Twitter. We keep up with them and we know what’s going on. We like to hear what they have to say. They are going to let us know if something is not right. They will let us know if they don’t like something, if they like something. It’s a great tool to utilize as well. You get instant feedback on what you are doing.

CB: What are your hobbies outside of playing music all the time?

EB: It’s kind of funny. I say all my hobbies become my jobs. I produce records. I do a lot of songwriting. I engineer, mix records. A lot of my hobbies have become my job. 

I am a golfer. I enjoy golf a lot. More recently, I have started building model airplanes. I needed a quiet hobby I can sit in my house and do. It is something I have found solace in. It may be a little geeky, a little nerdy, but it is fun.

CB: You actually co-wrote “I’ll Follow You” correct?

EB: Yep

CB: I love that song. I know it is the new single and it is out, but what is the story behind the song?

EB: The story of the song is pretty interesting. The piano part I had for a couple years. I had been playing it in sound checks. We don’t write on the road, but if it’s something someone in the band hears, “Hey remember that. Record that.” We are pretty in tune with that sort of stuff. 

We were out on our acoustic tour that we did on the end of our last record cycle with Will Hoge, a great singer-songwriter from Nashville. Nobody had really said anything about the piano thing I had, so I thought maybe it will be good for Will. 

So I hit him up and said, 'On the next day off, I want to show you this piano piece I have got and we can write a song.' He gave me his number and said to give him a call. I gave him a call the day of, I called him like three times, never went to voicemail, never picked up. 

The next day, I was like, “I called you three times.” He said, “It never came through. I don’t know what happened.” That day at soundcheck, Brent was like, “What’s that thing you are playing?” I was like, “Man, I have been playing it for three years.” He finally woke up to it. We actually had the recording that day at sound check kind of going through the song. Some of the lyrics are actually in there from that first time we ever played it through, he and I. 

If you fast forward six months when we finally wrote it, finally sat down and wrote the song, it happened seamlessly. We wrote it in like two hours, the whole thing was done. Lyrically, it is about the person in your life who is your best friend, your spouse or your girlfriend, your boyfriend or someone really close to you, that person you will always be there for and they will always be there for you.

CB: The band took a different turn on the latest album, playing with the full orchestra. How did that concept come about?

EB: We talked about how Madness had a lot of string-sections stuff. We just talked while we were writing the record about how to make this record a little bigger and a little more grand. That was the first thing that came up, we need to do something with horns and full orchestra, rather than just string sections. 

It was fun. It was a blast to be in there to watch that stuff be recorded, watching your vision come to life was amazing. There is very little that we do that is not a conscious decision. We kind of see what we want to do next. We were talking about our next record the other day on the bus. We will probably start working on that next year. We already kind of got an idea for it of what we want it to be. It is pretty phenomenal to have this type and level of instruments on something you have worked on. You pinch yourself every once in a while because it’s so cool.

CB: You guys have been together for some time. Are you all still friends? Do you still hang out?

EB: It’s pretty funny, we love each other so much. We all still ride the same bus even though we don’t have to. We, all four of us, camp out in the same place. We work out together every day. We eat together every day. We really are brothers. We have our moments of getting agitated with each other and angry with each other. There is something different that I don’t see in a lot of bands we travel with. There are some, but they are few and far between. You get a group of people that genuinely like each other and genuinely get along. 

I can count on one hand the times I have been up in someone’s face in my band, that I have been that angry with someone. We just don’t get like that. We talk things out. If there is a problem, we sit down and we are very honest with each other. We don’t harbor any animosity toward each other for anything. 

“I’ll Follow You” is out right now and is a song Brent and I wrote. Everybody in the band is happy as hell about that because it is doing well. “Bully” is a song Brent and Zach wrote, and I was happy as hell that was doing well. A lot of people get caught up in the unimportant stuff, like who makes more money or what’s going on with this or who’s more popular in the band. We don’t care about that stuff. It’s about the band, the entire group. We all really care about each other. We hang out when we aren’t on tour. It is really a blessing.

CB: It is amazing you guys spend so much time together and it is still like that. There aren’t many people I could spend 24 hours a day with?

EB: We see each other more than we see our wives and girlfriends and our families. We are married. We have to get along. There is no way around it. You can tell on stage. We smile at each other on stage. We joke around. We throw picks at each other. It’s genuine. It’s not an act. You can tell bands on stage that don’t like each other, and you can definitely tell bands on stage that do, and we are one of those bands that really like each other. 

Click here for a full photo set by Amy Harris of the Carnival of Madness tour stop in Cleveland this past Tuesday.

 
 

 

 

 
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