After taking a few weeks off to play some Drivin’ N Cryin’ shows in real life Kevn Kinney is back on the internet—back in the attic—this Tuesday, June 22, to perform a round of solo acoustic numbers, tell some stories, and maybe play a cover or two, maybe some new songs. Maybe some guests. … There are no rules here.
It’s free to watch, donations are accepted. Music starts at 8 p.m. Eastern and goes till about 10 p.m. Tune in via Drivin’ N ‘Cryin’s Facebook page and leave a whole bunch of ❤️ 👍 😂 ❤️ 👍 🤑 ❤️ in the comments.
If the virtual experience leaves you wanting more, and your up for a day trip, Kevn has some solo shows coming up in July.
MESSENGERS FROM AFAR: Frank Schultz (left) and Scott Burland of Duet For Theremin and Lap Steel.
It’s ironic that 2020, a number that universally signifies clarity of vision, brought to a head one of the most clouded years of recent history. Now, as a global pandemic winds down and the dust settles from a chapter of full-throttle socio-political tumult in America, it’s no surprise that the news media and one of Harvard’s brightest astronomers (Avi Loeb) are pointing to the skies with claims of seeing visitors, messengers from afar?
With their latest album, titled ‘Oumuamua, Duet for Theremin and Lap Steel has crafted an album that communes with the vast and mysterious space where human consciousness and the cosmos collide. Scott Burland’s swirling theremin wails and Frank Schultz’s lap steel textures and movements in songs with titles such as “Ceres,” “Vesta,” and “Enceladus,” are intuitively tailored to resonate with the imagination just as humankind seems fixated on asking bigger questions about the universe in which we live.
Burland and Schultz took a few minutes to talk about ‘Oumuamua, which arrived recently via Stickfigure Records.
How did the concept behind ʻOumuamua come about? Was it something you had in mind going into the recording or did it come about in the editing process, after the music was recorded?
FrankSchultz: After the music was recorded and mixed. Since Halocline was about water related phenomena, we thought we would tackle space. We looked at atmospheric phenomena and those names did not really ring true, then went down the whole “we are space dust” path and landed on the vehicles that would have brought those elements/materials to earth (asteroids and comets).
ScottBurland: We came across ‘Oumuamua after the music was recorded and agreed that there would be some sort of space theme as the music is “spacier” than most of what we’d done before.
Were you aware of ʻOumuamua as it was passing through our solar system, and the dialogue that it caused as it sped up while leaving our solar system?
Schultz: Was aware of it when passing through, but not so much the speed up on exit and the controversy surrounding it.
Burland: I had never heard of ‘Oumuamua until we came across it during our research. But once we came across it, it was like wow! A Hawaiian word for “a messenger from afar, arriving first.” Exciting!
It is rich fodder for the imagination. In academic circles it seems to have removed a bit of the stigma surrounding sincere discussions and speculation about the possibilities of extraterrestrial intelligence, while not being too committed to one answer. It also seems like a nice metaphor for the realm of music in which DfTaLS exists (IE. I often think about this group as coming from the context of Eyedrum and the improv nights that went on there for so long. The music was sophisticated and appealed to something of an academic mindset, but it was also irreverent).
Amid the media’s recent obsession with UFOs and UAPs, ʻOumuamua feels timely, like it reflects a lot of people’s headspace and curiosity. Is that a happy accident, or do you find yourself pondering questions about the cosmos more often these days?
Schultz: Happy Accident. But pondering the cosmos is always a good thing.
Burland: It was a happy accident. It could be argued that our music is space music, or “spacey,” though when we rehearse or perform, we’re not necessarily thinking about that. We try to clear our minds and have no agenda. What comes out comes out. But perhaps UFOs and UAPs have a subtle influence over us in an unconscious way. Space is the place!
How did you approach this music differently from your more recent releases, like Halocline and 10?
Schultz: Much less editing. We took pieces as a whole, no overdubs, no other instrumentation. Compared to Halocline and 10, it is stripped down to the core.
Burland: I don’t think our approach was any different. We often record rehearsals and pore over the recordings and decide if it’s release-worthy. For example, all of the music on CD1 was recorded on Christmas Day 2020. Frank texted a day or so later and said, meh, not so great. But a day or two later he texted and said he was able to work some magic and it was interesting for me to listen. I was able to recognize the basic framework of what we’d done, but it had transformed into something I found much more listenable.
Do you think of this as being more refined from what you delivered with Halocline?
Schultz: No, but I generally don’t analyse or compare our music. I leave that to the pros.
Burland: It’s quite different from Halocline, I think. I’m not sure I would say more refined, but I think the music explores the space that it created. It’s as if we happened upon a nice moment and rather than try to change it or evolve it, we stayed a while and explored that moment.
What was the first piece of music that you recorded for this album? Was that the catalyst from which the rest of the ideas here were born?
Schultz: “Ison,” “Sliding Spring,” and” Enceladus” were all recorded on October 8, which would have been the earliest date. The first CD was all recorded on December 25 and the rest of the songs were recorded on Dec. 2. We did not sit down to record for an album (which we did do for 10), but upon listening back to the various recordings we decided that they should be released. So, there is not a song or series of songs that intentionally influenced the other recordings.
Burland: I agree with Frank here, and will add that we didn’t start out thinking about releasing a double CD, but it seemed appropriate after having listened to the music. There seemed to be a common (though unconscious) thread.
One of the most compelling aspects of DfTaLS’ music has always been the strong emotional reaction the music draws out; and it is an enthralling experience that demands your attention. Just a few minutes ago I left the room while the song called “Enceladus” was playing. I had to take care of some fairly important business. I was in an entirely different room of the house, and the music was still affecting me so severely that I had to come back into my office and pause it in order to concentrate on the task at hand. Have other people described having similar reactions to the music?
Schultz: Well thanks for saying that. I have a friend who ran out of a show because it was freaking her out. 🙂 Hi Katie!
Burland: That is high praise indeed, thank you! I’m always humbled when people talk about the experience of listening to our music, whether it’s a live performance or recorded. We’re just a couple of guys who’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’m always pleased to hear when someone says that they felt something while listening. It’s what keeps me going, keeps me involved. The simple fact that people come out to hear us perform and buy our music and are compelled to write about it or play it on their radio program, I dunno, I am so grateful for that.
DfTaLS’ Scott Burland (left) and Frank Schultz. Photo by Chad Radford.
What is your headspace like when you’re creating this music? Do you feel like you’re in control, or is the music in control of you?
Schultz: Typically our best work comes from being guided by the music and getting completely lost in it.
Burland: The bar is always set to be controlled by the music. There are moments when I get goosebumps, though they are fleeting. Forever chasing the dragon.
GRIZZNESS CASUAL: Ben Trickey. Photo by Chad Radford.
Ben Trickey and I recently made our way to El Myr in Little Five Points to talk about his latest album, We Are Not Lucky We Are Blessed, while knocking back a couple of Grizzes. What’s a Grizz, you ask? It’s a pony-sized bottle of Corona with a shot of well Tequila dropped in, and a lime placed atop so you don’t spill too much on the way back to your table … And to enhance the flavor, of course.
Chad Radford: We met years ago, when you were involved with the noise scene. Whenever we’ve done interviews I’ve brought that up: “How has working with noise music influenced your songwriting?” You always have a good answer, but I’ve been thinking, “Ben’s gonna get sick of me asking him about noise.”
Then I read on Facebook that most people ask you about country music. … I wouldn’t think to go there.
Ben Trickey: I wouldn’t either, but most people who don’t know country music naturally go there. Even the trumpet player on the record tweeted something recently that said it’s a record by this great country guy. People hear Southern and they hear acoustic guitar and think country.
… Whereas I look for the noise in your songwriting, and most people think I’m crazy.
But the noise influence is a big part of it. To me, it’s about intensity, buildup, and structure. Noise is like putting together a house or something. I see it as elements of building a structure.
People get away with a lot of bullshit in the name of noise. But a well-composed piece of noise music can be life-changing? It changed the way I engage with music.
Yes, and I was lucky that I went to art school when I did. Then going through grad school at Alfred University in western New York, about five or six hours away from the city. I got to attend a lot of noise and improv sessions with New York artists like Pauline Oliveros, Peer Bode, and Andrew Deutsch.
Is Alfred University known for having a badass music program?
It has a badass art program. It’s mainly a pottery school—ceramics and new ceramic engineering. They have an electronic integrated art program. That’s where a lot of New York video and sound artists went. I met them through Sara Hornbacher at the Atlanta College of Art, who used to hang out at The Kitchen in New York City.
I was sort of her apprentice when I went to Atlanta College of Art. She connected me with that scene.
Tell me about the sign on the cover of your record?
My parents live in the middle of nowhere Alabama, on Smith Lake. It’s about an hour-and-a-half north of Birmingham—between Huntsville and Birmingham on 65. Near Cullman.
My dad and mom built a small cabin there in the ’70s, and I grew up hanging out around there. It was like our lake house. Later, they built another house there, and they still live there. Both of my sisters live there with my nieces and nephews. I have one brother in Chicago.
It’s a fun, pretty place, and I like going there—just don’t spend too much time talking to some of the people around there, especially in the Trump era.
One day I was in the car with my dad, slightly before the pandemic. People were just starting to talk about it.
We drove by this deserted gas station that had been turned into a youth ministry in Trimble, Alabama. I saw that sign in front: “We are not lucky we are blessed.” I’m like, “Oh my gosh!” I had my dad pull over. He was like, “What are you doing? This is ridiculous!” It wasn’t a big deal to him, but I thought it was hilarious. It felt so cocky to say we are the blessed people, which, first of all, assumes there are people who aren’t blessed. So I took that picture with my phone.
When I was working on the record I started thinking about the multiple meanings of it, especially in the South. Saying, “We’re not lucky …” I am not lucky, and this record is about being not lucky. And in a Southern context, saying someone’s blessed, like “bless your heart” is usually a way of talking down to someone, or saying something’s wrong with them … They’re blessed. So I liked the duality of it for the title of a record that’s about an exhausted apocalyptic feeling.
When you’re working with language like this, and you put it out into the world, people will find meanings that you never intended.
I cannot control how my music exists in the world. So, like I commented on that Facebook post, I’m sitting back, eating boiled peanuts or whatever. I used to get frustrated about it. I’m okay with it, though. Once you listen to the record you can figure out what it’s about … Or not.
I was listening to the lyrics of “Glendalough or Chantilly,” and wondered if it’s autobiographical, or how much is thinly-veiled real life vs. fiction.
It’s a mix. There is an autobiographical element to it, but it’s a longing for escape, and feeling tired.
When I was practicing the song with Tiffany [Leigh Clark], she said, “This is about our phones.” I was like, “Really?”
I mention the phone in the beginning of the song: “We’re all children falling to pieces, blinded by light.” She says yeah, it’s the light of our phones. And I’m like, “Wow, what is that?”
I talk about burying the phone because I had a rough few years. I was thinking about escape. I had been to Glendalough in Ireland and to Chantilly in France. Both of them felt like fairytale worlds. So I’m asking: Give me blue skies, or a night on the town. Give me something, because I’m tired of feeling so exhausted. It’s asking for deliverance.
When I listen to it, I think about the pandemic.
Something happened … Most of this album was written before the pandemic. Then the pandemic happened while I was recording these songs, and somehow I fit all of that into the album. It made me realize that I’ve always written apocalyptic anxiety songs. It meant way more because a lot of what everyone was feeling fit perfectly with what was going on. Everyone was hanging out in their backyards. All they had was the news on their phone, and it was driving everyone crazy.
It all affected the album. Even though it was written before the pandemic, it was recorded and produced during the pandemic. It was all emailed, or I went to people’s houses and sat up socially distanced. That affected the sound. With all of my records I reach a point where I let noise take over. With this one, I wasn’t doing that. I wanted it to be structured, song oriented. There are still touches of noise here and there, but I didn’t scream. With some of the older records I get kind of loud with my redneck bark. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to sing sing, and make an easy going record about hard things. I didn’t want it to intensely attack you. With a lot of my older records I really wanted to punch you in the chest.
I can’t help but look for the confrontational elements of your music, but that’s what I bring to your music.
There’s also just a part of my personality where even if I try, I can’t not do that, because it’s just how I write. So even if I’m pulling back it’s still gonna be there. Like with the song “Burn It All” — where I’m like, “If you think I won’t do it, I will.” That’s confrontational. Maybe I tried to fight it with the organ to keep it a little more smooth.
Don’t undersell your redneck bark! In your voice, there is a naturally sad quality, or a naturally scared quality. So there are moments in songs where you say that you’re scared, and the sound of your voice pushes the words beyond what a lot of vocalists are capable of doing.
That is something that I am aware of, and I’ve played with that over the years. To me, that’s fragility, and by showing fragility the music and the message become stronger—by showing the weaknesses and exposing the cracks, you make it stronger. That’s the basis for a lot of my music.
On the drive here, I was thinking about how to phrase that: “Is there strength in showing vulnerability?
That’s been the conceit of most of my records. Hopefully I’m right [laughs]. A friend of mine recently played it for a woman he’s seeing. She said, “It’s alright, but this guy needs balls.”
I feel like I have them, they’re just deep thinking balls.
… My music is never going to sell a lot. Someone on that Facebook post said something like, “My friend was in a punk band and was into the Clash. He was trying to figure out how to do it. He realized that when he played country music more people came out. He started doing that and now he’s in Sugarland making millions of dollars …”
I’m never going to do that.
I’m less of a career musician than I am a poet, if I can be that pretentious. I don’t consider myself a musician because I’m not that good. So it’s more about poetry. And I can just see the sounds as words.
You do it for you, not for other people.
I came to that realization about music journalism as well. Over the years, different editors have said that I need to write about music that more people care about, more “big Atlanta.” Aside from the fact that I have always felt repulsed by mainstream culture, the music that I am genuinely drawn to doesn’t have many dedicated writers any more, or anyone else paying attention in any critical capacity.
And it would be disingenuous for you to fake it.
Yes, but in the era of social media, a shallow disingenuous voice is often rewarded and repeated way more often than an honest exploration of music.
Do you know what synesthesia is?
Yes. I think I have it to an extent, but It’s never the same for me. Sounds feel like chunks and they feel like colors and pictures. But they change depending on my mood, so it’s never consistent. I almost always visualize it like I want the music to sound like breaking wood. It’s definitely a visual thing in my head. This makes me think of Richard Buckner. Most of his stuff, especially the first few records always sound to me like cracking wood.
What is the first song that you wrote on the new record?
Probably the first song, “Big Empty.”
I had the beginning of the song a long time ago, and I could never finish it. Originally it had a different ending that went into these cliches about mankind, money, and bullshit. I didn’t like it, but I liked the chords. So I rewrote it and rewrote it. The first song that I played out besides that was “Petrified.”
Do you think of “Petrified” as being like a thesis for the album?
Originally, yes, but not any more. That’s a hard question because now that I’ve had time away from it. that song is just an intense little mediator. It is the catalyst where all of the other songs came from. That event or those feelings are what led to everything else being written. But I don’t know if it’s the thesis.
Ben Trickey plays the We Are Not Lucky We Are Blessed LP release party at the Earl on Saturday, September 25, with Evan Stepp.
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On June 12, as the Record Store Day shopping frenzy winds down in Little Five Points, head over to the the parking lot behind the Star Bar (437 Moreland Ave NE), where Neon Christ, GG King, and Upchuck are playing a free show from 6-8 p.m.
Atlanta’s hardcore luminaries Neon Christ were founded by Alice in Chains singer William DuVall in 1984. Back then DuVall played guitar alongside vocalist Randy DuTeau, bass player Danny Lankford, and drummer Jimmy Demer. “Our first practices were in Little Five Points, just steps from where we’ll play June 12,” DuVall says. “We played festivals here in ’84 and ’85. My record collection as a teenager came almost entirely from Wax N Facts. We didn’t even consider playing anywhere else.”
DuVall also did a brief stint playing in Santa Cruz, California’s seminal hardcore group Bl’ast! between 1986 and ’87.
Neon Christ’s members are reuniting to play live for the first time since February 8, 2008, when they took the stage together at The Treehouse in Lawrenceville. The show is also a victory lap on the heels of releasing the 1984 discography LP as a Record Store Day exclusive via Southern Lord and DuVall’s DVL imprint.
For this show, NX will tear through its earliest thrash and hardcore songs such as “Parental Suppression,” “Bad Influence,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and more. This is the material from their original two 7-inch releases, culled together and remastered for 1984—much of which the band stopped playing that same year. Before splitting up in 1986, NX’s had evolved and channeled its energy into longer, heavier, and slower songs. On June 12, though, the group is going full-on high-energy.
Press play on the new video for the group’s theme song, “Neon Christ.”
Before the show, NX will be at Criminal Records from 5-6 p.m. for a meet-and-greet, and to sign copies of 1984. “We wanted to do a quick in-store appearance for Record Store Day, but Covid restrictions would keep us from doing a proper punk rock show,” says Demer. “So we decided to make it outdoors, and all ages, and free. And instead of doing a couple of songs, we’ll play a full set.”
Music behind the Star Bar starts promptly at 6 p.m. Each band is playing a tight 30-minute set with an even tighter changeover between sets. “If all goes as planned, Neon Christ will play at 7:30 p.m. and end 26 minutes later,” Demer says. “Don’t blink, you’ll miss it.”
Don’t dick around and miss this one. After the Treehouse show in 2008 the group said it was the last time NX would play live. So 13 years later, this is a rare treat, and it could be your last chance to see them on stage. “We’ve only played two or three times since we broke up in 1986,” Demer says. “This one feels like a homecoming. It’s full circle, back to Little Five Points.”
This show also marks the first time that GG King has played live since the crushing new LP Remain Intact arrived in March via Total Punk. Press play below.
And check out Upchuck’s self-titled EP from January 2020, too. It’s a scorcher.
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DfTaLS’ latest release, titled ‘Oumuamua is a 2xCD recorded during the fall/winter of 2020, released by Stickfigure Recordings. The music takes a deep dive into the imagery and the mystery surrounding the interstellar traveler after whom the album takes its name. Check out the first single, “Vesta,” posted above.
W8ing4UFOs will close out the evening with a set of songs from their 2020 release, Don’t Let The Asshats Burn You (Striped Light). Press play below.
The show will take place in Railroad Earth’s backyard performance space. Bring a lawn chair. DfTaLS will kick things off around 8:30-ish p.m. Donations support RRE and W8ING4UFOs.
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Here’s a blast from the past to keep to your PMA going strong. The members of Neon Christ, Atlanta’s staple hardcore outfit circa 1984 through ‘86—vocalist Randy DuTeau, guitar player William DuVall, bass player Danny Lankford, and drummer Jimmy Demer—tapped their kids to play the younger versions of themselves in a new video for the group’s classic theme song.
As Demer explains, “I had this idea that we should make a video for the song ‘Parental Suppression,’ and have our kids play us. I brought it to the rest of the guys, and everyone was into the idea, but then nothing happened. Later, William came to me and said ‘hey, let’s do this, but for ‘Neon Christ’ instead.”
The song “Neon Christ” originally appeared on the group’s 10-song Parental Suppression 7-inch EP. And, after all, it is one of the catchiest songs on the record.
When Neon Christ was a functioning band, DuVall performed using his childhood nickname Kip. Since 2006, DuVall has sung and played guitar with the band Alice in Chains. In 2019, he released an album of solo acoustic songs, titled One Alone via his DVL Records imprint.
On the audio side, DuVall took Neon Christ’s original tapes to Nashville-based studio Welcome to 1979 to be remastered for an upcoming DVL/Southern Lord discography LP, titled 1984. The record compiles all of the material from Neon Christ’s Parental Suppression EP and the A Seven Inch Two Times double 7-inch originally released in 1990, and is set to arrive June 12—Record Store Day 2021.
In the meantime, check out the video for “Neon Christ,” directed by Atlanta-based filmmaker Nick Rosendorf.
Stay tuned for more Neon Christ news coming soon!
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There’s a jungle inside the mind of singer and guitar player Andy Browne, and it’s teeming with life. The five songs that make up Lynx Deluxe’s Jungleland EP take shape as an enigmatic reckoning of the self, the spirit, and Southern identity. Heavy rhythms, subtle brass filigree, and percolating keys are pushed forward by arty rock leanings powered by enough muscle and confidence to uphold the group’s ambitions.
Opening number “Jane Goodall” puts a face on part of the music’s veiled metaphors, beginning with the sounds of a screaming chimpanzee in an ecstatic state. The closing song, “Steppin’ On Gold,” brings an even deeper allegory—steeped in the imagery of The Wizard Of Oz—to an intriguing point. Along the way, the musical journey from inner chaos to contentment reveals itself to be an exercise in catharsis, driven by evocative lyrical imagery and compositions that are as thick as English Ivy.
“Jane Goodall,” “The Struggle,” and “Mercy” are bound by a barreling spaciousness and momentum that falls into place with musical unity. Browne’s strained yet soaring and impressionistic voice is accentuated by the ambiance created by bass player Lucy Theodora, drummer Brad Mattson, keyboard player Billy Fields, and guitarist Greg Di Gesu weaving an intense musical web that matches the power of lyrics such as “It’s a struggle to break the chains / It’s a struggle to take the blame / It’s a struggle to let it go / To sit like Buddha in a perfect flow” in “The Struggle.”
Browne’s songwriting resonates with a deeply buried and universally shared note that rings out in all of our minds. In “Saints” and “Steppin’ On Gold,” that note shifts to bolster the uplifting and undeniably catchy essence of each number as they rise out of some vast and mysterious part of the imagination, giving rise to a sense of calmness that’s achieved equally through Browne’s words and the group’s long, interweaving instrumental chemistry. This alone makes Jungleland an engaging chapter for Browne, whose songwriting first left a mark in the mid ‘80s while he fronted Atlanta’s Southern post-punk rockers the Nightporters, a band that also featured bass player Tim Nielsen and drummer Paul Lenz of Drivin N Cryin. In more recent years, his songs fronting the Andy Browne Troupe have revealed themselves to be stepping stones leading to the baroque and Southern alternative rock and pop that Lynx Deluxe brings to life. Jungleland is a true band effort without allegiance to the past, present, or the future. The songs are open-hearted, complete, and flourishing with redemptive fodder for the imagination that’s mysteriously timeless.