Category Archives: Interviews

The All-Ages Genius of Rockabye Baby (via the Washington Post)

I ain’t sorry.

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Washington Post — Pro tip for aspiring PR executives: If you’re ever announcing a Beyoncé-themed baby product, try to do so just days before she Instagrams her pregnancy.

Such was the most recent stroke of good news in the potent, enduring tale of the Rockabye Baby series, which for 11 years and 78 albums has tried to alleviate one of the worst parts of being a parent — the music — with lullabied instrumental covers of songs from, you know, real bands. The Beyoncé version is the latest in a list that includes Prince, the Beatles, Springsteen, the Pixies, David Bowie, Eminem, the Cure, Guns N’ Roses, Rush, Kanye West, Radiohead, Adele, Cyndi Lauper, Tool and Iron Maiden. (If you think you had a weird day at work, imagine trying to coax “The Number of the Beast” out of a harp and glockenspiel.)

A look inside the world of the planet’s dominant Kanye West lullaby-making machine.

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How the Lumineers Took Over Folk-Rock with Two Sounds and a Snappy Pair of Suspenders (via Indy Star)

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Indy Star — Rarely have clomping feet and two onomatopoeias made a bigger splash than they did in “Ho Hey,” the evocatively old-timey and globally ubiquitous single from the self-titled debut by the Lumineers — you may remember it if you turned on a music machine in 2012. In not even three minutes, the world’s leading melancholy folky foot-stomping breakup anthem both threw more coal on the folk-Americana fire and vaulted the Lumineers from the Denver coffeeshop circuit to arenas, other continents and festivals full of people who like to clap and stomp together. Jeremiah Fraites — the one without suspenders — spoke by phone from an early tour stop in Chicago about “Ophelia,” opening for U2’s “Joshua Tree” tour and how to make a hockey arena feel like a Colorado coffeeshop.

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The Head and the Heart on “Signs of Light,” ’90s Videos and Bob Knight (via Indy Star)

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Indy Star — Tyler Williams, drummer for the Seattle-based folk-rock outfit The Head and the Heart, can remember every single show his band has played in Indiana. He’s got good reason: His parents hail from Columbus, his mom is an IU graduate and his dad’s decorating tastes are heavy on the Hoosiers. “(My mom) was there for (former coach Bob) Knight’s undefeated season in ’76,” Williams said. “And my dad still has a shrine to Knight in the basement.”

The Head and the Heart has been enjoying plenty of acclaim of their own since the release of their 2011 self-titled debut, which quickly settled into a prime spot in the post-Mumford artisan folk-rock scene and became the best-selling debut for Sub Pop records in years. That album produced “Lost in my Mind” and “Down in the Valley,” which continue to appear on your Pandora stations, as well as a studio version of the band’s stirring, gospel-kissed “Rivers and Roads,” which had served as their walk-off song for years. The 2013 follow-up “Let’s Be Still” was maybe a little more intimate and refined than its predecessor, but it enjoyed a warm reception and kept the band plenty busy on the road. The full interview at the Indy Star.

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Henry Rollins on His Favorite Indiana Bands, This Stupid Election and Why He Writes Like He’s Running Out of Time (via the Indianapolis Star)

Works more than you do.

Works more than you do.

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Indianapolis Star — Spoken-word artist, actor, former Black Flag frontman, activist, authoritative-opinion owner and self-described “vinyl cat lady” Henry Rollins is a guy who — to steal a line from a musical about another American overachiever — writes like he’s running out of time.

Rollins, 55, and his endless-bordering-on-insane work ethic has positioned him not just as the “aging alternative icon” he jokingly called himself in the past, but as a harder, steelier critic on a culture that offers no shortage of material. His current spoken-word tour, featuring shows that routinely hit the three-hour mark, visits Indianapolis shortly after Election Day, so there should be no shortage of material.

Rollins checked in via email in September from a tour stop in Australia, weighing in on his approach to the election and what his audience means to him now:

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Question: Obvious yet sincere opener: Who are your favorite musicians/bands from Indiana? 

Answer: The Ink Spots. I got introduced to their music in the late 1980s.

Q: You’ll be here shortly after Election Day/Recount Week/The Fall of the Republic. What’s your mood been about the election?

A: Indifferent. I will vote and live with whatever the result is. President Obama tried to make things better. Congress and the USA were not interested. To be overly concerned with a country that obviously isn’t motivated to confront global climate change, renewable energy, health care or education is a fool’s errand. Marriage equality, something easily covered by the First, Fourth and 14th amendments of the Constitution, had to go to the Supreme Court. USA lost me. I just pay my taxes and obey the law. Past that, I hope I don’t get shot.

The full interview at the Indy Star.

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Chris Cornell Has an Absurd Number of Songs (via Indy Star)

chris cornell

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Indy Star — Great Caesar’s ghost, Chris Cornell has a lot of songs. Technically his current solo acoustic tour supports “Higher Truth,” his sterling fifth solo record and one that’s powered not by the thunderstorm roar of Soundgarden and/or Audioslave but an acoustic guitar — though, happily, his valkyrie four-octave voice hasn’t gone anywhere. (If you haven’t, check out “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” a near-perfect single and a fine on-ramp into where he’s going with this.)

But Cornell’s show, which visits the cozy environs of the Murat on July 9, also draws from a galaxy of work that includes — deep breaths — grunge pioneers Soundgarden, the rhythmic and raging Audioslave, the Seattle supergroup Temple of the Dog and his previous four solo records (including that one with Timbaland). Throw in a James Bond theme, his contribution to “12 Years a Slave,” a cut from the “Singles” soundtrack, a track from a second Seattle supergroup Mad Season and a Donald Trump spoof called “Make America Great Again” and we’re dealing with a pretty huge grab bag.

But more than shining a light on his catalog, this tour serves to reinforce just how powerful Cornell’s voice remains. At 51, he’s applying it to reframed versions of “Black Hole Sun,” “Blow Up the Outside World” and “Doesn’t Remind Me.” But he’s also throwing in material from his recent round of killer viral covers, including a room-flattening “Nothing Compares 2 U,” a rewrite of “The Times They Are a’Changin’,” (in Cornell’s version, they aren’t) “Thank You” (something that probably happens after three solid decades of Plant comparisons) and a live mashup of Metallica’s “One” vs. U2’s “One,” which sounds like it has no right to work and then totally does.

Here’s how he makes his picks, via the Indy Star.

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Luke Bryan Is About to Play to an Awful Lot of People in Indiana (via Indy Star)

636028018097583505-PR-shot-A-Jim-WrightIndy Star — If you’re a fan of beach-country megalith Luke Bryan, you are in the right state. This weekend, Bryan plays back-to-back nights at the Klipsch Music Center, the only act pulling a double-shot there this summer. In October, he’ll bring his eighth annual Farm Tour back to picturesque Spangler Farms near Fort Wayne. All told, in the next three months, Bryan will play to something like 65,000 people in Indiana, after having done basically the same thing last year. (If you’re counting, he also performed in Evansville in February.)

Of all the seat-fillers (and shakers) in country, Bryan is one of the most astonishingly reliable; he and Kenny Chesney could easily spend an evening comparing stadium-show statistics. But for all his success singing of the party life, there are hints of change: Bryan retired his series of annual beer-splashed Spring Break concerts and EPs last year, which was both cause for sadness among his Coppertone-and-bikini-topped fans and probably a solid idea, as — let’s be honest — he’s knocking on 40, married to his high-school sweetheart and raising three kids.

More from one of country’s most reliable draws at the Indy Star.

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Darius Rucker on NASCAR, ‘Purple Rain’ and How He Ended Up Playing Jesus in a Back Seat with Billy Ray Cyrus (via Indy Star)

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Indy Star — Darius Rucker’s Saturday night show should be a little less stressful than his last appearance in Indy, when he had to sing to 350,000 people and time his performance to fighter planes.

“I get a phone call from my manager and he says, ‘They want you to sing the anthem at the Indy 500,’ Rucker says, “I was like, ‘There are so many singers in the world — they want me to do it?”

There are, and he did, and it was an honor — just one that required timing the big finish to the roaring appearance of two F/A-18 Hornets and two E/A-18G Growlers. “You have to sing it at the right time, the planes might be late, the planes might be early,” Rucker laughs. “There’s a guy on the radio with the pilots telling me ‘Stretch it out, stretch it out.’ I was like, ‘Man I’m stretching as much as I can! What do you want me to do, scat in the middle?”

More at the Indy Star.

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In Which the Great Frightened Rabbit Briefly Sorta Ruins My 4-Year-Old

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Indy Star — Frightened Rabbit’s music is grand and dreamy and often sad as heartbreak, which is why I don’t often play it in front of my 4-year-old. But to prep for a chat with singer/core Scott Hutchison, we sampled the band’s sterling new “Paintings of a Panic Attack,” which opens with a lovely, pulsing track called “Death Dream.” You can probably guess what it’s about. The band’s grandeur swirls around behind Hutchison’s rich, syrupy voice, a Scottish brogue that he lets crack at just the right times. Like the best Frightened Rabbit tracks — which is a lot of them — it’s melancholy enough to fit inside a cathedral. And midway through, my 4-year-old son wanders in, having heard the song from the living room, and he’s sobbing. Just sobbing. “Daddy,” he’s wailing, “Can you change the song?”

The full story (and the much happier ending) here.

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He’s the DJ: Jazzy Jeff on the Fresh Prince Reunion Tour, the NWA Movie and His Old Name (via Indy Star)

He's the DJ.

He’s the DJ.

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Indy Star — In case you’re wondering if famous people ever do this sort of thing, yes, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will occasionally find themselves staring at each other like, “Can you believe this?”

“It’s like you’re in this taxi on this amazing ride, and you don’t know when it’ll be over so you just learn to sit back and enjoy the view,” says DJ Jazzy Jeff. “I never got used to this. I’ll never be used to this.”

By day, Jazzy Jeff is the the exceedingly humble 51-year-old Jeff Townes of Philadelphia, who talks like a guy who’s sold about 5 million fewer albums than he has. But he spent the beginning of his 30-year career as half of one of hip-hop’s most recognizable mainstream duos and the rest evolving into a godfather among DJs and a turntablist who continues to drop jaws. “(Music) has taken me around the world 50 times over. I’ve gone to places I couldn’t pronounce when I started,” he says. “And I can’t help but go back to the idea that it’s two turntables, a mixer and some records that put me here.”

More at the Indy Star.

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Kenny Chesney: How the Fittest Man in Country Stays That Way (via GQ)

(Photo / Allister Ann)

(Photo / Allister Ann)

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GQ — Kenny Chesney’s songs may be about whiling away his days in sun-baked margaritavilles, but his own summers are frenetic. That’s because, in 2016, the list of male pop stars who can routinely sell out stadiums pretty much begins and ends with him. Last summer he played to 55,000 at the Rose Bowl (in its first-ever country show), 58,000 at MetLife Stadium and 54,000 at Mile High Stadium; he sold out his 12th and 13th nights at Gillette Stadium and broke his own records at Heinz Field, Lambeau, Lincoln Financial Field in Philly, and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. And these aren’t ballad-heavy evenings; they’re two-plus hours of relentlessly carbonated pop-country, punctuated by sprinting and jumping and hat-flipping.

Chesney may sing about boats, beaches and Barbados, but his health ethic is dead serious—especially for a guy who grew up in Tennessee, a place not particularly noted for its judicious approach to portion sizes. Today, at 47, it’s still paying dividends.

Check it out here.

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