To get you ready for tonight’s DSCVR Thursdays show at the Foundation Room in Anaheim’s House of Blues, we talked with the genre-defying group Gus McArthur. Frontman Gordon Allen, a.k.a. “The Hater,” gives us insight on thier latest work and plans for 2018
How do you like to describe Gus McArthur’s sound/themes/ideas for the uninitiated?
Allen: Our sound is something we consistently change, depending on the song or content of the EP. We try to stay heavy, but nothing is off limits. Our new EP Chapter 2: Fanatics features 3 new songs, each radically different from the next. Ranging from a song that starts like “Bohemian Rhapsody” to thrash that sounds like it came straight out of the 80’s. We really like it this way. It forces us to stay creative and challenge each other.
What new track comes to mind as really breaking some new ground?
Allen: “Darker Than Black” off our new EP definitely touches a lot of different genres and pulls influences from my brother & I’s favorite artists. The song was designed more like a play, with different acts & scenes being portrayed by the narrator, or in this case narrators. We wanted to create a dark fairytale, essentially the polar opposite of the typical prince & princess happy ending, but all the characters are present.
As a song it was beastly! Almost 8 minutes long, with layers of different live instruments, we used more than the SSL board could handle & had to start making mastered groupings. It was probably the most fun to mix & master, at least for me. I know our engineer Daniel Bourget loved it!
You also rap at a few points over the course of the EP, over genres one wouldn’t normally expect that delivery to work with. What do you find that element adds to the stories you’re telling?
Allen: The hip-hop & spoken word elements create half of the brain of Gus McArthur. Each song holds different perspectives as well as characters. Being able to infuse styles & genres allows us to continually expand our ideas and creations for each song. It lets us dance around the metaphorical box.
As both an artist & part of the OCML team, you’ve worked on both sides of the live music coin. What’s something you’ve learned about operating in this scene thanks to that perspective?
Allen: This is not just music, it’s the music business. And the sooner you treat it like that, the more successful you will be. Know how long your sets are, actively promote, schedule, time yourself loading gear, email promoters back. Essential things that seem simple are often overlooked. Treat your music with respect & realize you’re creating a brand, not just a song.
What do we have to look forward to from Gus McArthur in 2018?
Allen: You can definitely expect some new music, possibly even some really old stuff redone. We are very proud to announce we have been selected to battle for Wacken in the first ever west coast edition. It’s one of the largest metal festivals on the planet, so make sure to come check out the battle March 30th at Brick by Brick in San Diego, tickets will sell out fast!
Jon has been taking 2018 by the horns! Appearing on PBS/NPR this past week and playing shows non stop pushing his two previous singles. If you haven’t had the chance to see this dude live and hear his angelic voice. No worries, we got you! Check out his acoustic session that he took part. Keep in mind though, its twice as better seeing him perform live so make sure to check out his social media profiles and see where he will be performing next!
Establishing and maintaining a Strong sense of Community with Brandon Croom
We are three weeks into 2018 and RIVALS is about to take part of two major tours (Jan 28th- Feb 10th) with Hail Sagan/The Scars Heal in Time and from (March 28th – April 15th) with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Aside from that, Rivals has been busy releasing music videos and with their latest music video for “Over It’ they again set the bar a little higher for the rest of the local music scene.
Inland Empire’s Post Hardcore band CVLTVRE released a new music video for their song “Birthday Song” which is taken from the bands upcoming album “All Life is // Act.1 An Act of Letting Go” which is scheduled to be released on February 16, 2018 through Standby Records.
This extended play is part of a four-part series dealing with self-purpose and identity. “Drown” is the first single off the EP, and it specifically deals with control over situations you have none in, and learning to accept it.
(UPDATE 1/18/18: Of Ennui has unfortunately had to cancel their set at Friday’s show due to a health issue within the band. OCML sincerely wishes them all the best as we move forward with Hawk Auburn, The Slashes & a TBD replacement.)
To build up hype for this Friday’s no-cover showcase at Chula Vista’s Manhattan Bar (courtesy of our sister company, the San Diego Music League), we’ve talked to a couple of the bands on the bill. Following yesterday’s conversation with The Slashes, we chatted with Chula Vista’s own Of Ennui. Lead vocalist/guitarist Brian Strauss gives fascinating takes on his hometown’s unique place in the SD music world, how each member adds to the band’s dynamically heavy sound, and the artistic joys of writing lyrics from a character’s point of view.
This interview was edited down slightly for clarity. No major points or context were changed.
How do you like to describe Of Ennui’s overall sound/themes/ideas for the uninitiated?
Strauss: Of Ennui is dynamic, ethereal music. We play some really heavy music, but it’s punctuated by bursts of really beautiful playing as well as cathartic, melancholic lyricism. We bounce between some really sternum-crushing doom & long dream-like musical tangents.
That dynamic comes through strongly in one of your newest songs, “Doom in Bloom,” really piling on the crescendos & general intensity as it moves along. Can you talk about how that track came together?
Strauss: That track was the last song written before Angus [Garcia] joined us on bass. At that point, our songs were initiated by a guitar riff from Christian [Cate] or myself. In this case, I started the song, and Christian compensated for the lack of bass by playing primarily low tone guitar parts. Christian has an amazing ability to compliment whatever melodies I come up with, and I think our musical chemistry largely stems from the intensity of our friendship over the last 13 years. When you add a musical prodigy like [drummer] Indigo [Machado] to the mix, it takes the song to another level. Angus joined shortly after, and his bass parts proved a monumental force behind the power our songs wield.
I wrote the lyrics as a direct response to [Jack] Kerouac’s claim that he would die an old man with a book shelf filled with works all bearing his name. And I suppose it grapples with the mortality he must have faced coming to terms with the fact that that dream would not come to fruition, and I applied those sentiments to a fictional character.
When you’re writing from the perspective of other people, real or fictional, what would you say you get out of that creatively?
Strauss: I think it’s more challenging, which is where most of the creative satisfaction is derived from. If I just write about my own life, well that’s not very interesting, is it? Anyone can write about their own life, but it takes imagination to write about concepts that don’t directly apply to you. You have to sort of graft these sentiments that you might feel in real-life situations & apply them to how you imagine these fictional scenarios would go. It’s less about the characters & more about the sentiment behind them.
And it’s really silly when you realize how often people will automatically assume you’re writing about yourself when they hear your songs. Take for instance the assumption that because I’m a man, all my songs are written in the character of a man, but really who’s to say my songs aren’t based in a woman’s perspective? Or from a different socio-economic perspective? Sexuality? Race? All of these things are traits we make assumptions of based on how we perceive an author, which is fair to a degree, but it’s also really limiting to the audience and the writer. And that’s how you end up with some dullard collection of songs that are all bland hetero-normative “love” songs pretending to be depressed.
The show you’re playing is in Chula Vista. As a band from that area, what can you speak to about its music scene?
Strauss: Chula Vista is an intense city. There’s a vibrant DIY scene & even more prevalent is the trans-border community. It’s amazing to see it flowering the way it is, and how interconnected all of those individuals have become. We’re going to be at the Manhattan on Friday, which is a little dive bar not too far from where most of us in the band grew up. As a kid I always used to make the walk to Broadway & G to the thrift store across the street, so it’s funny to me that we’re older and still doing so much of the same.
I think the big thing lacking in Chula Vista right now is a stable set of venues. Most shows in Chula Vista are house shows, which is great for the all-ages scene, but it also means there’s a big bridge to cross between all-ages & 21+ scenes because it’s all so geographically compartmentalized. In that way Chula Vista is a bit cut off from the rest of the music community, but damn near everyone in it fights tooth & nail to be heard, to be seen, and to be able to build opportunities if we aren’t finding them from traditional outlets. There’s just a crazy amount of diversity, and I think people are really starting to see Chula Vista as a place that’s fostering all these bored suburban kids who grow up to start these fantastic projects.
Following that show, what do we have to look forward to from Of Ennui in 2018?
Strauss: February will see the release of our second EP, Tone Poems, a sprawling collage of sounds that represents everything we’ve done in the last year. New merch, new music videos, and as always, a ton of live shows. We haven’t done a music video since before Indigo & Angus joined, so that will be especially exciting to premiere. I always tell my bandmates that I want us to be one of the hardest working bands in town, so you can expect us to stay true to that.
To build up hype for this Friday’s no-cover showcase at Chula Vista’s Manhattan Bar (courtesy of our sister company, the San Diego Music League), we’ve talked to a couple of the bands on the bill. First, we chatted with The Slashes’ lead singer/guitarist Esteban Rene about their vintage post-punk style, their position as outsiders of the scene, and how his time as a bay captain inspired a song off their last album.
How do you like to describe The Slashes’ overall sound/themes/ideas for the uninitiated?
We are best described as post-punk, like we walked the wet London streets circa 79/80’s. So there’s a bit of the Britpop vibe as well. Lyrically like Edgar Alan Poe meets Iggy Pop. A 3-piece band from SD. All members are of Mexican decent. We all wear black, and song themes include love lost, disaffection, nautical life.
Nautical life stands out as a pretty interesting topic. What song comes to mind first as exploring that, and where did you draw the inspiration from?
I’m a licensed captain. The song is called “Compass Rose.” It’s on our debut self-titled record. I wrote it while on a cruise around the San Diego bay. The story is about 2 people trying to escape this city, specifically San Diego. She is stuck, and he’s coming to rescue her and take her away via ship- it’s that simple really. However, she disappears…
Definitely feeling the post-punk influence in the guitar tones & vocal style. Now like you alluded to, most of the songs you have out are from your 2015 album. What about your style has changed between that & the material you’re working on now?
We’ve simplified. Songs are shorter, faster, a little more aggressive & punchier. [We’re] working on a new EP. We have one [song] ready for listening [on our website] called “NuNu’s.” It’s about a once-popular bar, our hangout. It’s about living it up & enjoying a night out.
Speaking of bars actually, you’re kicking the new year for the band off next Friday at Chula Vista’s Manhattan Bar. What can you say about how that area’s local scene has helped/treated you guys?
Well we haven’t played Manhattan Bar before, [but we] have heard good things about it! There’s a lot of bands that play in the SD scene. Not a lot of bands like us, but that’s cool.
It’s been challenging getting decent gigs. We are by far not the darlings of the scene… if you’re not kissing the right arses, well, you know how cliques work. We have had [91X Loudspeaker host] Tim Pyles & [Casbah owner] Tim Mays help along the way. We just haven’t gotten a major push by the gatekeepers, if you will. We are the outsiders.
And following that show, what do we have to look forward to from The Slashes in 2018?
Currently booking a west coast tour, still in the making. Some possible gigs in NYC. We have new material recorded; just trying to find the right price to mix & master! [We’ll] keep you posted!
Catch The Slashes this Friday, January 19th at Manhattan Bar!
Planning your Album Release from Beginning to End
with Tommy Prevost
At some point every musician is ready to release their latest music either online or in physical form. Tommy Prevost gives us an insight on what he has experienced as a musician. He explains his songwriting process, how he chooses what studio to work with. What he went through to choose the right artwork. The differences he experienced when he was recording the first album and his latest one.
You will learn about:
- The difference between recording at home and a rehearsal studio.
- Researching and Choosing your recording studio.
- Planning and preparing is the name of the game.
Thank you for stopping by and listening to the OCML Podcast! We are a group of promoters, artists, and fans that enjoy local music! Our main focus is to introduce you the listener into our world of the local music scene. You will gain a perspective and knowledge from us the promoters, fellow artists and fans that host this show. It will also help you get a better idea of the local music scene and how it works. If you like what you hear, subscribe using the links down below.
Song of the week
The Sly Digs – Patchouli
When coming up as a rock band, it’s one thing to come from a different scene. It’s another to come from a different country. Fortunately, The Revies have made great strides over the years to integrate themselves at a few musical hot spots along the southern U.S. border. Their next stop: opening at this Saturday’s no-cover showcase at the Rush Bar in Lake Forest. So ahead of the event, we talked with lead singer/guitarist Etienne Rosas about the history of the band, how their cultural identity affects their music, and the new material this prolific trio is prepping for 2018.
How do you like to describe The Revies’ sound/themes/ideas for the uninitiated?
Rosas: The Revies formed in Monterrey, Mexico in around 2007, so you can be sure that the band’s sound has undergone several phases and taken from varied influences. Generally, we have a classic garage rock feel with some “alternative blues” mixed into it, along the vein of Jack White and Audioslave, but borrowing heavily from old greats like The Beatles and [Led] Zeppelin. The band’s underlying Mexican-American-ness shines through a lot in our musical ideas, not just through Spanish lyrics, but through the themes of dual identity the band itself has grappled with over the years. Ultimately though, these themes have given us a compelling reason to develop a unique sound that captures who we are.
What’s a recent case where you especially felt that identity shine through as an inspiration?
Rosas: Our most recent EP was titled Heartwoken, and despite that being the name of 1 of the songs on the EP, we thought it was a really apt and all-encompassing name for our first EP in Los Angeles. The idea of Heartwoken is about hope in the face of defeat: the notion that apparent failure or disappointment lights a bright fire for reinvention, and in many ways, sets you free. This EP came out right after the 2016 election, and during an emotional time of our music career with our first steps in LA. Despite how bleak the environment could seem, I suppose this was our way of pushing forward and keeping faith in ourselves.
What was your experience like finding your way in the rock world in SoCal?
Rosas: We had actually played quite a bit in the US before (especially Austin) and always got a great response from American audiences, but SoCal and LA in particular were pretty different than what we expected. Initially, it was hard to land gigs that were not pay-to-play, and the gigs we did land were often not the kind that had built-in crowds. It was tough going from a comfortable and compact scene in Monterrey, where we had built a decent following, to a pretty spread-out and competitive city like LA where we essentially started from scratch.
That being said, we found some encouraging solidarity with other great bands and little by little played our way up to better stages, and that ball seems to be rolling a lot smoother now. It’s definitely a tough cookie to crack, but as big and daunting as it is, it also provides a ton of opportunities if you know where to look.
Coming off that recent EP, what do we have to look forward to from The Revies in 2018?
Rosas: We’re actually working on a new set of tracks that we plan to put out around March, and we’re really excited to play new material live. So short answer would be a lot more kickass shows. Our plan is to have a West Coast tour in the summer to present that EP, and in the meantime expand our stomping grounds to areas outside of LA. We don’t really know where any of that might lead in the bigger picture, but we really enjoy the ride. So we’ll keep it going as long as we can.
Catch The Revies this Saturday, January 13th at the Rush Bar!
Heartwoken is available at “Name Your Price” on Bandcamp.