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He Kind of Sounds Like If Bryan Ferry Crawled Out of a Tar Pit - The Buttertones Play Beat Kitchen

Yesterday I ventured out into the suddenly chilly night, early in the is Fall of 2018 that saw the moon high and nearly full so the clouds around it lit like nightly fog. I went to see the Buttertones, from LA, when they rolled through Chicago in support of their 2018 album Midnight in a Moonless Dream. In years past, the band's output has typically been surfy leaning indie rock with a punk edge and romantic lyrics, but this last record saw them incorporating a bit of a darker tinge - a bit more howling at the moon, which hung nearly full over Chicago last night. 

The back room at Beat Kitchen was pretty full - of kids mostly, dressed in their own eclectic punk rock fantasy outfits, which is sometimes refreshing and relieving to see at a rock show today. So you know an extra layer of enthusiasm made the energy more fun and special, complete with dancing that wasn't so much a mosh pit as it was posession by the slightly derranged rock 'n' roll. It got a little hot and one thing I noticed within the enthused fans was a security guard, I guess you could call him, bald, looking like Rob Halford in 2005, hovering over these kids and watching, kicking a couple out - this I did not like.

WIld Wing was on first and played a set of twisted and twangy garage rock, country-fried punk, lyrics delivered with a manic texan drawl behind a swirl of dusty distortion and a fantastically picked bass. Pretty cool, I'd say. Cool enough that I bought their record Doomed II Repeat from them at the merch table. It's not too bad (I'm listening to it right now).

The Buttertones were next. They weaved through the packed in audience towards the stagw around 10:30, tuned and checked real quick, and started rolling. Allow me to describe their look first. Two guitarists (Dakota Böttcher and Richard Araiza, who also sings lead), a bass player (Sean Redman), drummer (Modeste Cobián, sax/keys (London Guzmån) to finish it up. All dressed in short sleeved, tucked in shirts buttoned all the way to the top, hair slicked back like GI Joes on leave - classic, but coupled with the music the Buttertones play, added was a layer of intensity that bordered the sexual, but ultimately remained fun.

Dominant in the set were tracks from the latest album - "Baby C4," "Midnoght in a Moonless Dream," and my favorite from the record "Brickhead." They played thier modenr classics, "Orpheus Under the Influence" and "Matador" but not their certainly even more modern classic "Darling, I Need More Time" off of the new album, despite it being shouted a couple times from the crowd. Oh well. Their musicianship is top notch - Böttcher's (who sang lead for a couple songs too) and Araiza's guitars chimed and sparkled, or skipped and gnarled along with Redman's pummeling bass that was more like a chugging motorcycle than a stringed instrument. What gives the Buttertones that extra slice of drama is the saxophone in almost every song, played last night like a melancholy screech that was oh so satisfying. Araiza's voice is another distinguishing secret weapon of the band. It's heavu with vibrato, it's emotive - he sounds like if Bryan Ferry crawled out of the tar pits in an Alabamian swamp, joined a garage band to croon at the moon, and he knows how to charm.

Sometimes a show is interesting enough to temporarily take the audience somewhere else. Last night, under the spooky moon and the pink string lights in Beat Kitchen's back room, we were no longer in 50 degree Chicago, we were in a truck stop, a bar, a basement in the South's goth rock and roll territory, just for a little bit. It was fun.

   <--- Midnight in a Moonless Dream is out on Innovative Leisure.

   <--- Doomed II Repeat is out on Mock Records.

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WLUW chats with Jacob of Major Murphy

Do you ever wish you were on the beach? But it's the dead of winter and 10 degrees outside? A simple fix to those winter time blues is Major Murphy's music! The sunny and beachy trio hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan and played at Audiotree Music Festival this past weekend. They were a delight to watch and even more of a delight to chat with. WLUW sat down with Jacob, the vocalist and guitarist, from Major Murphy to hear what the groups been up to, where they're headed, and what inspires those easy summery tunes of theirs. 

Is this your first time at Audiotree? How does it feel to be performing?

Yes. I attended the first year, but this is my first time performing. It’s good, we’ve kind of like, taken the last month off, so I felt a little rusty but, and nervous just because it’s so exciting.

You’re a group hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Did you all grow up there? How did you meet?

We all met in Grand Rapids, but Bud is from California, Jackie is from the Chicago area and I grew up in Traverse City, Michigan. Grand Rapids is where we came together just kind of through playing music.

Bud and I had been playing in quite a few bands in Grand Rapids together for like a couple years and Jackie was in another band in Grand Rapids that was super great. So, it was just kind of something we wanted to do for our own benefit almost or like a type of music that we wanted to try just for like, ourselves. To try something new for the sake of like, we’ve just never done this before, let’s give it a shot.

One of my favorite songs from the album No.1 is “Who Will I Be,” can you explain the inspiration behind that? Who writes the songs?

I am the songwriter of the group. So, it’s usually just me with like an acoustic guitar or like a Casio keyboard or something just kind of like working it out. I try to keep it as simple and as bare as possible so that by the time Jackie and Bud hear it, that they like, oh I can hear my own little part, not be like, oh, it’s already all figured out.

That song, that was probably written, was definitely after Trump was elected, so that was part of it. There’s a political energy to it, in my own mind, I don’t know if that comes through the song or not.

What have you been listening to music wise lately?

I love Steely Dan, I’m embarrassed to bring that up, but it’s just true. We freaking love, freaking Ariana Grande just came out with an album that’s amazing, Sweetener.

Do things other than music help inform what you write?

I think so. It’s hard to say necessarily. Music is like a, there are moods involved, so you might get a mood from like a visual piece. The mood would lead you to think about things, like if it’s a melancholy mood, it can lead you down roads.

There are some modern 70’s rock notes in Major Murphy’s sound- do you consciously do that, add in tones of the 70’s to your music?

It’s a style thing, but like with styles, you do do it consciously and unconsciously. It’s like you’re looking up to an older sibling or something, like aw, they’ve done this thing that I want to do and this is how they did so maybe I’ll try it.

It’s conscious, but you understand that those people weren’t doing a gimmick so you hope not to just do, you try not to get stuck on just one thing.

How was Major Murphy’s summer/what have they been doing leading up to Audiotree?

We play like a whole bunch locally, throughout the summer. That was nice. We played this show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, that was really cool. It felt like a nod like, from the people of Grand Rapids, ‘Hey we see you, you’re a band.’

Traverse City, where you grew up, is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I can only imagine that Michigan, the lake, things like that, have inspired some of your music.

I only have a suspicion, but...Bud is from Southern California. I feel like part of our connection as friends is understanding our relationship with like these huge bodies of water. You know, in the summertime, it’s like warm, it’s like Southern California. I feel like maybe because of that, we’re into surf rock because we kind of know what it’s like to surf.

Are there any future plans for Major Murphy?

We’ve got a bunch of songs, I’ve been writing a lot of music. We’ve been working on demo’s, so that’s exciting. We have an EP of demo’s, from the super early days. We started the band like three years ago so, you’ll recognize the songs but it’s like a different version, more or less. That’ll be out, probably in the spring, so I’m pretty excited about that. Kind of like a nostalgic piece, which is funny, like, can you be nostalgic after three years? It’s gonna be sick, we’re gonna do a vinyl for it and everything.

 

It was such a pleasure getting to talk with Jacob. Looking forward to Major Murphy’s upcoming EP!

 

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WLUW Reminisces over Summer with Miranda Winters at Audiotree 2018

WLUW’s Olivia, Scott, and Elise sat down for a chat with Miranda Winters at Audiotree 2018, and what an honor it was! After the release of her album Xobeci, What Grows Here?, as well as opening for Foo Fighters and The Breeders as the voice of Melkbelly, Winters has had an absolutely jam packed summer. Listen below as we debrief with Winters on what she’s been up to:

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WLUW Talks with Chicago Band Slow Mass at Audiotree 2018

The highlight of my Audiotree Sunday was undoubtedly the performance of Chicago’s Slow Mass at the WIDR FM stage. And then to top it all off, I got to sit down with these lovely people to discuss their work. Listen below as I chat with Mercedes, Dave, Josh and David about their involvement within Chicago’s music scene, their Far Out Audiotree Session, and what’s up next for the band.

Check out some highlights from the interview down below:

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Could you tell our listeners about your Far Out session with Audiotree? You looked very cold. 

Dave Collis: It was about 30 degrees. It was at the Garfield Park Playhouse. The first song we recorded was “Dark Dark Energy” and it was so cold that we would do a take and then go inside and warm up and then walk back outside and do another take. And then we didn’t really that we were chasing worse weather, so “Suburban Yellow,” we did one take and it started snowing while we were doing it. It didn’t pick up on the camera as much but it was condensing on our pedals and equipment.

Josh Parks: You can see some water splash off the cymbals a couple times. 

DC: Yeah, we went immediately into a second take because we weren’t sure how much worse it was going to get. It was stressful but it was fun because everyone was in it together.

Mercedes Webb: I thought it was going to look epic.

It did look epic!

MW: Well, I understand why they use milk as rain in movies now.

????

MW: Yeah! They don’t just use water, I heard that they use milk. Because it shows up better on camera.

David Maruzzella: What if they’re lactose intolerant?

MW: Just don’t open your mouth.

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Do you find any influence for your writing from people in the Chicago music scene that you interact with? 

DC: Aesthetic and work ethic, I would say, I’m inspired by the bands in Chicago that I see that in. I love a lot of bands in the city, but I would never want to see a contemporary and say “I want to do what they’re doing,” because what they’re doing is wonderful and they’ve carved out their own space for it.

MW: I think it does help to know that Viv (Vivian McConnell of V.V. Lightbody) has so many different skill sets with different instruments. So in making the record, we definitely keep that in mind. We have in mind, when we write a song, that “oh it would be so sick if this friend played this instrument on this.” So I guess there is an influence in the writing process.

DM: It’s all sort of like parallel tracks. We all love Nnamdi (Ogbonnaya)’s album, but we don’t sound like Nnamdi. Or try to do that, but we listen to his album all the time. The first show I played (with Slow Mass), we played with Monobody, which is basically a jazz fusion band, which we sound nothing like. But still, we like to play shows with friends in bands, even if they don’t have anything in common with what we sound like. Everyone has their own little area, but it’s cool if we all get to do it together.

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Slow Mass will be playing Beat Kitchen November 15th with Rozwell Kid and Bow & Spear. More info for the show can be found here.

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Diet Cig Sits Down with WLUW

 

WLUW was lucky enough to sit down with the boisterous and friendly Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman, the duo that make up Diet Cig. A few hours before their lively and empowering performance, we discussed the truth of Diet Cig’s origin story, some of their favorite songs to perform live, and what’s in store for the band’s future.

How did you two meet? There are stories online about Alex interrupting Noah’s previous band’s set to ask for a lighter.

Alex: Well, I didn’t interrupt the set, it was between songs.

Noah: That’s something that everyone exaggerates.

Alex: Everyone’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so great.’ It was like someone else in the band was tuning and I was gonna go out with my friend to have a smoke and Noah was right there and I was like, ‘Hey, do you have a lighter?

Noah: And it was like, we were at a house show. It wasn’t like she ran onstage at a festival.

Alex: I hate that narrative that I interrupted the set though. Because as a musician, I’d be so pissed if someone interrupted my set to ask me a dumba** question. It was in between songs, I chose an appropriate time.

One of your most popular songs is “Harvard,” from the album Over Easy. One of the lyrics is, ‘F*** your Ivy League sweater.’ Can you explain the lyrics behind that?

Alex: I was dating a guy and we broke up, I broke up with him. And he started dating this girl who went to Harvard apparently and was kind of going around being like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ just like trying to be like ‘I’m so cool’ now that my girlfriend is so cool now. I was like, ‘F*** you, nobody cares.’ She’s probably really cool but that doesn't mean you are.

Do you each have a favorite song that you like to perform live?

Noah: I feel like we’re kinda on the same boat. I really like playing ‘Link In Bio,’ it’s just a fun song and just like, we pretty much wrote that song in the studio which was kind of a fun thing about it. Now that we do it live, we’re like, ‘Oh cool, it actually worked.’

Alex: I like ‘Link In Bio’ and I also like ‘Made of the Mist’ a lot especially because on this tour, and some tours earlier in the year, we have our friend Carly playing keys and doing harmonies and backing vocals and those two songs really shine when it’s all three of us playing live.

“Made of the Mist,” is my favorite song from the album Swear I’m Good At This. Can you describe what inspired that or what were you thinking of when you wrote that song?

Alex: I was just thinking about, I don’t know, navigating relationships with people and like beginnings of relationships and kind of like, you know, trying to find people that respect consent and stuff and just thinking about how yeah, I am for sure bigger than my body, like I am more than just like this f***ing shell of a human but also like don’t f*** with it, you know. Respect my consent, because my body is mine and even though I feel like I’m so much more than it, it’s so crucial and important to respect it.

Do each of you have a favorite musician right now?

Noah: That’s hard to pick just one. You go first.

Alex: I’m obsessed with Sylvan Esso. They’re like the only artist that I would pay like hundreds of dollars to go see live if it came down to it. I love them so much. I just started listening to Perfume Genius and they’re really amazing. Also, I’ve been obsessively listening to the illuminati hotties record that came out this year. We’re actually touring with them right now and it’s been so fun to listen to them play it live every night.

Noah: I have some overlap on that too. But I guess a lot of stuff that I’ve always loved was Algernon Cadwallader, there guitar player is now with Hop Along and Hop Along is also just like so sick. Like, if Algernon ever did a reunion tour I would probably go to every single show, kind of thing. There’s just too many to pick. I’m just trying to think of everyone we tour with because everyone we tour with is just so great. Ratboys is great, we were just listening to them in the car.”

Alex: We’re so lucky to like- we’re at this point where we can just like, pick bands that we want to tour with in a way and we get to play with our favorite bands and it’s just like so cool, that’s like the best part of touring, like getting to tour with a cool band and get to listen to them every night.”

What is next for you? Do you have any plans for Diet Cig?

Alex: Right now we’re on tour with illuminati hotties, and later, from October to November we’re doing another tour with a band called Rubblebucket. They’re super awesome. We’re going to the East coast, West coast, a little bit of Texas. Then we’re just trying to work on new music, we’ve been moving moving moving so non-stop that we’re finally just like, oh sh**, we can like take a breather and re-group. We’re just like putting the pieces together for a new album. I feel like we’re gonna hunker down for a sec and just like figure that out.

 

Luckily for us, Diet Cig is touring now and for the next couple of months. For more info about tickets and dates, visit here

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