4 questions for Will Johnson of Centro-Matic

Posted by gregor on Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

in between looking at “cute” outfits that my wife cant afford and making sure my son was not going to do a header off of his high chair, i sat down to think about questions for my interview with will johnson. will is, in my opinion, the most underrated songwriter of our time.

prolific is not a term i like to use, usually it drums up thoughts at least in certain circles, of the hit or miss output of everyone’s favorite beer chuggin and high leg kickin uncle, bob pollard. will johnson is different kind of prolific, if thats possible. let me say this, if will was a workhorse, i would ride him all day. throughout his career, and various projects – which there have been a few, the quality of work is absolutely stellar. frankly, it puts 99% of songwriters to shame.

centro-matic’s new record, fort recovery, is without a doubt their finest hour. it prompted patterson hood of the drive by truckers to declare, “Centro-matic’s Fort Recovery is a masterpiece, and I don’t use that word often.”

captains dead: I know that you are a fairly big baseball fan, and I was wondering if you were to be featured on a baseball card what would you be doing? Would you want it to be an in action photo, a cheesy pose, or would you pull a Glenn Hubbard and pose with a python?

will johnson: i’d show up socks-high with a bake mcbride afro and a rollie fingers ‘stache, all while doing an ozzie smith take-the-field backflip.

cd: Being the music dork/failed musician that I am, I often find myself wishing, or better yet dreaming, that I had recorded this record or that record. Have you ever felt that way about a certain record, and if so is there one in the past 5 years that you wish you had?

wj: only one, really. we lost some of the four-track masters for static vs. the strings volume 2 on a west coast run about four years ago (we were mixing it on the road). or maybe they were stolen. we never found out for sure, but i’ve always been a little bummed that those are gone forever. that set us back some. we still haven’t finished vol. 2, though it seems like we’ll finally get to that within the next little while.

cd: I know it was your birthday recently, happy belated one by the way, and one thing I have noticed about growing a little older is that I cantstomach any carnival ride that spins. Is there anything that you seem to not be able to do as well or tolerate with your advancing age?

wj: i’m less tolerant of really late set times as i get older. a band starting at 12:30am on a tuesday morning just seems ridiculous to me. then there’s beer bongs, wine coolers, and A-Team re-runs. i just don’t dig that shit like i used to. i can still shoot some hoops, though, so i at least try to keep those skills goin’.

cd: Last and final question. I know after I listen to any of your recordings (in your various incarnations), I always feel a sense of hope that maybe all is right with the world. What do you want people to walk away with after they hear a Will Johnson composition?

wj: i’ll sometimes cite serious flaws in people or things in my songs, then throw in some feeling of hope that they’re gonna overcome whatever crappy situation they’ve gotten themselves into. i can onlyhope that these characters connect with the listener. sports and war metaphors often accomodate that, though i’ve done that a lot and could probably stand to back off on those. maybe political and religious figures are in the crosshairs next. who knows.

triggers and trash heaps

calling thermatico

to purchase centro-matic/will johnson/south san gabriel records visit misra records or centro-matic dot com. (302)

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j tillman and the paper chase scares me

Posted by gregor on Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

thanks to gorilla vs bear for bringing this young man, j tillman, to my attention – he scratches me right where i itch. apparently, even that crazy magician, Jesus, is a fan. lets keep this between you and me, but there is a new site where you can make friends with others pretending to be someone else. be his friend over there, wont you?
my waking days

seven states across

now, a band recently came to my attention that me thinks there is a power working within them that even lou diamond phillips couldn’t break. the paper chase sound like a soundtrack to a pedophile’s life, or at very least being swallowed into the bowels of hell. death metal or even any kind of metal, they are not. they remind me of a person that you would meet, and you think they are cool and stuff. then after a night of drinking you go back to their place and then they kill you. fans of tool would probably dig these guys, cause i surely dont. they have a new album coming out on kill rock stars on 06.06.06, clever huh?
said the spider to the fly

ever since the turn

listening to the acoustic tracks provided, sound nothing like my description – in fact they are quite listenable.? check out the other tracks provided on the site. (151)

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my 100th dream of swervedriver

Posted by gregor on Tuesday, April 18th, 2006


i remember waking up in moline, il at augstana back in like 94 with some girl i had met while attending western illinois university. we had gone and seen the gin blossoms, who were pretty good mind you; but opening up i got my first taste of tommy keene. back to waking up in moline, and the point of this post. the sweet, sweet sounds the swervedriver’s mezcal head filled the keystone light smelling room, as i awoke from my unfulfilled slumber. i had never really ventured into the whole british shoegazing scene, outside of my bloody valentine and to this point, never really have.

finding out about swervedriver was the second best thing to come out of that weekend, cause as it turns out my little lady friend was “waiting for marriage.” unfortunately, for swervedriver, they pretty much got over looked outside of the UK, and have since disbanded. although the lead singer, adam franklin, has started a newer band toshack highway, for which i am not too fond of, sadly.? the entire catalogue is quite intoxicating, particulary mezcal head and 99th dream.

a few fine folks have emassed an entire discography worth of live material on swervedriver’s website.

99th dream

wrong treats

sci flyer

duel (133)

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mary lou lord and being a lemming

Posted by gregor on Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

i know i do a lot of stuff on artists that may not be the “flavor o’ the month” but that sure as hell doesnt mean that they aint relevant in today’s music landscape. as we consume music at an alarming rate, i often wonder how many of these artists have actual staying power to last more than two records, which in the ever wandering mind of the every day music junkie its a fuckin lifetime. i am guilty as anyone of not giving would be fantastic records, cause i off to the next best thing. always looking for that instant gratification, instead of letting the music sink into my psyche and marinate for awhile. it absolutely lessens any artists chance to make an impression on any of us.

off my horse now, and i give you a lady thats been around for some time. mary lou lord has the voice of an angel and it appears now to have the body of a chick from fear factor. back in the day, cobain’s old lady had some kind of beef with mary lou because me thinks she used to get it on with kurdt. she used to, and maybe still, busk in the boston city subways and even offered up a recording, live city sounds, of her doing so. in the words of ferris bueller, the recording is quite “choice.” she had a brief stint on a major, but is currently unsigned it saddens me to report. while she does not write much of her own material, one of her main supporters is the always fabulous and fabulously groomed, nick soloman of bevis frond fame. an artist to could do a lot worse than having him write your songs.
i figured you out

farming it out

vincent black lightning (live)

in keeping with a running theme around the internets, i am throwing my hat into the ring and offering up a cover song of cher’s song believe performed by bedhead. while this may have been blasted on the web a few years ago, its still pretty damn funny and quite unusual.

believe (201)

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making friends with riviera

Posted by gregor on Tuesday, April 18th, 2006


one of america’s best kept secrets and chicago’s own, riviera, has a new tune posted up on their myspace page, making friends. their at the end of the american century was one of my favorite records from last year, and contains one of the best singles that unfortunately, i fear, no one heard, ashes on the moon. i think they only play within a 60 mile circumfrence of zip code, 60657, so if you can figure out how far that stretches, you my good people are in luck. fans of wilco, tupelo, jayhawks, dylan, george harrison, etc take note these guys are, hopefully, headed to the big time, like star jones big.

ashes on the moon – live at the hideout, chicago

if you head on over to there website, like good little people, they have a gang of stuff available for download.


(263)

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baseball talk

Posted by gregor on Monday, April 17th, 2006

so, how long can this kid keep up this torrid pace? pujols just hit his 9th today too. albert, in my opinion, is the best player in baseball, and if he stays healthy i think he can break bonds’ record. shelton, on the other hand, will end up with less than 35 HRs. (135)

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that little jesus geek needs a good ass clockin'

Posted by gregor on Monday, April 17th, 2006

if there were any man to scare religion into me, david eugene edwards is that man. mr edwards was the front man for 16 horsepower, and now in woven hand. passionate, err.. is a bit of understatement, when describing david’s on stage demeanor. he’s part bible thumper, part carnival barker, part showman, part the guy who looks like the night slasher in cobra – i dont know who the real david eugene edwards is. i am assuming he likes it that way.

originally based out of denver, 16HP, has called Belguim home for quite some time and i cant recall the last time they played a show on US soil, although they broke up last year or the year before, i cant remember. the first 16HP record i heard was sackcloth n’ ashes, and it was immediately sold back, i wasnt ready for that sort of record back in 1996. later i would grow to love the entire 16HP catalogue and you have to get past a little grandoise kitsch and someone preachin to ya from a stump, cause David Eugene Edwards is a man to believe in.
wayfaring stranger

black soul choir

haw (186)

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happy birthday, liz! my first rock n roll wet dream

Posted by gregor on Monday, April 17th, 2006

i dont hide, nor am i ashamed, of my love torrid love affair with liz phair. although, the affair is trapped in the mind of some weird hormonal teen circa 1993, that has since turned 31, quickly approaching 32! nope, this love affair for will ever be trapped in 1993, which is fine with me. i dont really feel like getting into the importance of exile in guyville on my life and the hundreds of foul mouth temptresses it helped spawn. you should, if you haven’t already, find out for yourself.

although, to this day i kinda feel like Peter, from family guy, when he is reading lindsay lohan the riot act during his brief tv segment, “you know what really grinds my gears?” so, read the attached diatribe, but instead of lohan insert phair and when he talks about outfits and such, just insert phair’s lyrical content:

“You know what really grinds my gears? This Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay Lohan with all those little outfits, jumping around there on stage, half-naked with your little outfits. Ya know? You’re a… You’re out there jumping around and I’m just sitting here with my beer. So, what am I supposed to do? What you want? You know, are we gonna go out? Is that what you’re trying to – why why are you leaping around there, throwing those things all up in my, over there in my face? What do you want, Lindsay? Tell me what you want? Well, I’ll tell you what you want, you want nothing. You want nothing. All right? Because we all know that no woman anywhere wants to have sex with anyone, and to titillate us with any thoughts otherwise is – is just bogus.”

you get the picture. while our love affair may never, ever come to fruition i think i am ok being stuck in 1993, every once in a while.

these tracks are from the girly sound tapes

flower

whip-smart

stratford on guy (278)

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we vs death

Posted by gregor on Sunday, April 16th, 2006

as of late i have really been getting into instrumental stuff, a few years ago i would have told you to shove that instrumental shit up your hiney, but i have since softened my stance. being from chicago, it was in the rule book that you must like tortoise and their various side projects, but in all honesty everything after Millions Living i found kinda boring. there was one band that helped me break out of my shell in regards of digging musical of the lacking vocals variety, and they were dianogah and their record as see from above. above all though, is explosions in the sky, the way in which they build tension and emotion puts them on a plane above most bands with lyrics.

which brings me to we vs death, a band that requested to be my friend on of all places, myspace. i really didnt pay them much mind at first, but with the insane amount of free time i have, i decided to give em a listen. probably the best band discovery via myspace yet, i must contend. they are an instrumental 6 piece that brings the intensity of explosions in the sky but incorporates an acoustic/more organic feel that is hard to explain. in their myspace bio they say their sound is dusy reminiscent of a big city in the summer. cant say i disagree considering that most of my fondest memories are summers in chicago, for which i lived 29 years. they are currently supporting great lake swimmers on their european tour. their new record we are too concerned is set to be released on may 14.
dianogah indie rock spock ears

we vs death pictures from stellenbosch

we vs death workers (400)

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patterson hood does the stones

Posted by gregor on Sunday, April 16th, 2006

a month or so ago, a whole bunch of musicians got together at the 40 watt in athens for a beneft, and in doing so the night’s theme was all stones covers. that benefit, aptly billed as Gimme Shelter and was a vehicle to raise money for the homeless in athens. well, needless to say i couldnt go cause my baby’s momma, my wife, had to work. from the sound of this recording, it sounds like a killer party. the quality is about C+ but the vibe is definitely an A.

setlist and recording information

1. loving cup

2. silver train

3. star, star

4. before they make me run

5. moonlight mile

6. shattered

thanks to the fine people at nine bullets, a fantastic truckers fansite, for reminding me that this happened. also, more patterson/truckers show and just about every other worthy artist’s shows are up at archive dot org. (418)

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