Saturday, February 27, 2010

Interview: Wilco's John Stirratt talks melody

Wilco bass player and founding member John Stirratt has an affinity for good melodies, so it makes sense Paul McCartney is one of his musical icons.

"I'm always just absolutely in awe of his playing," Stirratt said, chatting from his hometown of Chicago, Ill. "You can always find new things in the Beatles catalog that are just beautifully expressive and rocking. He was able to do some wonderful harmonic touches with that band."

Stirratt's other bass playing idols?

"I also like these soul-bass guys from the '60s," he said. "Tommy Cogbill, who played in Memphis, was a fantastic player and super funky. In that same era, Joe Osborne was a southern guy who went to Los Angeles and played on a million tunes. He was a big session guy. And the Motown scene was great, especially James Jamerson."

Judging by that list, it's easy to see why Wilco brings so many diverse musical influences into their sound. The Grammy Award-winning band is on a 2010 world tour that takes the band through the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Wilco's music is characterized by subtle, tuneful embellishments, and Stirratt says the biggest challenge of playing is knowing when to hold back on bass.

"With where Wilco is right now, there's so much melodic information going on and, and there's so much atmosphere with Nels (Cline, guitarist) and Patrick (Sansone, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist) doing really fantastic melodic stuff on top, so there are so many options," he said.

"I think that's the main challenge: Trying to find spaces in the music. Luckily, we don't have to talk about it very much. It just kind of happens."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Interview: Shinedown vocalist Brent Smith

Singer Brent Smith knows how to make a solid rock hit. After all, his band Shinedown has scored nearly a dozen chart-toppers since 2003: "Second Chance," "Fly from the Inside," "Devour," "Save Me," and "The Sound of Madness," to name a few.

Shinedown's latest, "If You Only Knew," sits No. 3 on the active rock chart (at press).

The band, who has appeared at Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing twice, headlines the Fillmore in Detroit on Friday (sold out) and Saturday, with Puddle of Mudd and Skillet.

Shinedown got together in the early '00s in Jacksonville, Fl. Post-grunge was exploding, and Shinedown's sound fit well: chunky guitars, melodic vocal lines and Alice In Chains-style layered harmonies.

Smith always knew he wanted to be a singer.

"When I was 14 years old, my father gave me a tape that changed my life: Otis Redding," he said. "Lots of people are surprised when they learn that my biggest influences are Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald.

"After I started listening to that, I got more into rock, like The Doors, Metallica, Soundgarden. Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) is a huge influence."

Like many musicians, Smith writes from a very personal place. Take, for instance, the track, "Save Me."

"'Save Me' is a song about how people will take on everyone else's problems and issues," he said. "When they put that much pressure on themselves, they're going to hit a wall eventually. A person in my life saw me go through the darkest times in life. They picked me up. Eventually they had that dark time and I had to pick them up."

When Smith think about his journey with Shinedown, what really stands out is meeting the hardcore fans.

"They've been with us from day one," he said. "Us and Them [the band's 2006 CD] was written about our fans. The title was a 'thank you' to all of them, because when you're on the road for years, you meet a lot of people with inspiring stories."

~Anne Erickson, Gannett LSJ/NOISE

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine's Day Mix: Love Songs, Breakup Ditties

In celebration of Valentine's Day, here are some songs of love and loathing. If you have a favorite love song or breakup ditty, please post it below!

In Love ♥

•Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody"
•A Perfect Circle, "The Nurse Who Loved Me"
•The Foo Fighters, "Times Like These"
•Saving Abel, "Addicted"
•BeyoncĂ© feat. Jay-Z, "Crazy in Love"

Out of Love ♥

•Alanis Morissette, "You Oughta Know"
•The Ramones, "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow"
•No Doubt, "Ex-Girlfriend"
•Green Day, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"
•Kanye West, "Heartless"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Killswitch Engage frontman leaves tour

No waaay! - Killswitch Engage frontman Howard Jones has left the band’s current US headlining tour due to "unforeseen circumstances." All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte will temporarily take his place. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Music News: Rock on the Range '10

Rock on the Range is an annual, two-day hard rock, alternative and metal fest held in Columbus, Ohio. It's road trip-worthy, if you dig that kind of music.

The 2010 line-up was announced today and includes the Deftones (yay!), Rise Against, Seether, Slash, Papa Roach, Theory of a Deadman, Anberlin, Janus, Taddy Porter, Cold and...Limp Bizkit?? Yes, Limp Bizkit.

Click here for ticket information.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Spring/summer concert announcements...

  • Paramore has announced a handful of spring tour dates, and it includes a show at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids on May 4.
  • Slayer, Megadeth and Testament have rescheduled the American Carnage North American Tour. The line-up reaches the Joe Lous Areana in Detroit on August 19.
  • The Dave Matthews Band, one of the highest-grossing touring acts in the world, has announced a summer tour. It hits DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston on June 23.
  • The 2010 Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival features Korn, Five Finger Death Punch, Chimera, Hatebreed and other heavy players. The tour reaches DTE on Aug. 6. Please click here for the official website.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kings Of Leon, Green Day, Phoneix take home 2010 Grammys

The 2010 Grammy Awards, in a nutshell: Beyonce becomes the first female artist to win six Grammys. Taylor Swift takes home four. But Kings of Leon also have reason to smile, with a sleeper win for Record of the Year for their single, "Use Somebody." Leon also won Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a duo or group. Green Day picked up Best Rock Album for their album, "21st Century Breakdown." Alt-rock group Phoenix won Best Alternative Album.

Read the full list of Grammy winners here.