10Qs with Sasha Alcott of When Particles Collide

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When Particles Collide, a duo consisting of husband and wife Sasha Alcott and Chris Viner, is releasing an EP entitled This Town on May 26th.  This is the sixth independent release from the pair and it’s available for pre-order through Pledge Music.  They’ll play two record release shows: Friday, May 29th at The Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge Mass and Saturday, May 30th at The Asylum in Portland.

Sashastudio1-e1417534758261Where were you born?
Bangor, Maine

How long did you live in Maine?
I lived in Maine from birth to age 14 then from age 32 until 40.

What was your most memorable non-musical job?
I’m in my 16th year of teaching high school chemistry. The memory never phase.

What was your most memorable gig?
Oh man, there are so many. Highlights: During our most recent tour we played a show in Lexington Kentucky with our good friends Mad Anthony and The Shanks. The room was packed, into all of the music, and we had an amazing, sweaty fun time with old friends and new. Oh, and people were singing along. And we sold a bunch of merch. And we had a hilarious van ride back to Cincinnati where we were all staying. There was peeing in a bottle, hilarious outbursts and people falling asleep mid sentence. We then got home and stayed up until 6 in the morning. It was glorious. Of course playing at The State Theater in Portland ME for this year’s State of the State was an amazing experience in a totally different but equally awesome way.

 

What was your worst gig?
There are many. But really they are all the same in nature. We’re in a new place, or maybe Brooklyn, and barely anyone is there, the other bands only show up for their set, they play like crap, and the sound is god awful horrible and we wind up going on two hours past our set time.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
I’m not really sure. I consciously do not make music to sound like some genre or artist in particular. I grew up listening to classic rock and Motown, but I’m not sure the exact ways that this music influenced me as a musician. I also purposefully try not to learn lots of other people’s songs so that I don’t fall into the habit of playing like the people I admire most.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Work hard at getting better, all the time. Practice, practice practice, get out of your hometown, and don’t fall into the habit of playing mostly covers if you want to be an originals band.

WPCStudio2-e1416580853520What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about much these days.

What was the first album/recording you owned?
Michael Jackson, Thriller, on vinyl. I got it for Christmas.

What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to my friends’ bands: Album from Rogers Ohio, Mad Anthony from Cincinnati, The Shanks from Toronto ON, and Theodore Treehouse from Portland ME have all been on the listening devices recently.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
Helmet in Rochester NY circa 1994

What’s the origin behind your band name?
I’ve been thinking about how particles must physically collide for most physical and chemical phenomena to occur. And of course, the collision of air particles is how sound travels. And we’re all about sound!

 

10Qs with Zak Taillon of Superorder

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Photo by Joel Desmond

Could you tell me about any current projects, performances, or recordings?
As far as projects go, I am working on training a new bassist for my band, Superorder. Once he is ready, we will be planning a CD/DVD release show for our visual album, Ten Cities, which is currently only available in digital format. In the meantime, I am composing our next album and practicing synthesizer for an embarrassing Clash of the Titans performance on March 18th*.

Where were you born?
Born in Methuen, Massachusetts. Raised in the Seacoast Region, New Hampshire.

How long have you lived in Maine?
Nine and a half years. I moved to Portland, Maine in 2005 for college and have lived here since, except for a year I lived in Portland, Oregon in 2010.

What was your most memorable non-musical job?
All things considered I’d say that I’m currently working at what will one day be my most memorable non-musical job: bartending and serving at Boda. Really bizarre things happen there like clockwork. Example: just last week I caught a guy eating cat treats at the bar on his birthday.

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Photo by Ben McCanna

What was your most memorable gig?
Every opportunity I’ve have to perform music over the last seven years is memorable and special to me, though there are probably two gigs tied for first place: one was my first show playing guitar for Picnic Casket in February 2008 at Dos Amigos Burritos in Dover, New Hampshire. We opened for Transistor Transistor’s 7’’ release party during a massive snowstorm but surprisingly the turnout was so good that they had to turn people away at the door because there was like 60 people stuffed into this tiny burrito shop. The other gig was a couple years ago with my band, Superorder, at Waranimal’s Winter Beach Ball at Space Gallery. After playing a 40 minute set of all instrumental prog-rock/electronic music, Kyle Scofield and I performed a very faithful cover of Christopher Cross’s “Sailing” to a sold out crowd of thrash metal kids who were mostly wearing bathing suits.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
It’s impossible for me to chose any one above all others, since being a musician, for me at least, is being a cumulative byproduct of all the influential albums and soundtracks and weird little noises that have made their way into my life at pinnacle moments. That being said, some albums definitely worth mentioning are The Second Stage Turbine Blade by Coheed and Cambria, Before the Dawn Heals Us by M83, Focus by Cynic, Surface to Air by Zombi, Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution, Thriller by Michael Jackson, and Ride the Lightning by Metallica. The common denominator between these albums is genre-hopping and inconsistent display of moods. Each of these albums played a part in helping me discover how to transform my fears and pains of life into something sonically epic and conceptually plot driven.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
An Apple computer with Logic 9 installed. I compose 90% of the music I write with virtual synthesizers in midi draw mode with just a mouse and keyboard. But if I was more concerned with this answer not being super nerdy, I would say my 2001 Ibanez UV777.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Listen critically. Draw as much inspiration as you can from many diverse sources. Get out of your comfort zone. Practice meditation. Adapt meditation into your music practice. Experiment. Try harder.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
R. Kelly. Especially Trapped in the Closet.

What was the first album/recording you owned?
Weird Al’s Bad Hair Day.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Currently listening to Prince’s Art Official Age as I answer these questions, but recently I’ve been listening to Falls of Rauros, Blut Aus Nord, Nothing, Oneohtrix Point Never, Majeure, An Autumn for Crippled Children, The Fucking Champs, and Steve Hauschildt.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
Yet again, I cannot name just one. It’s a close tie between seeing Goblin and Zombi performing together at the Sinclair in 2013 or My Bloody Valentine at House of Blues in Boston last November. I dig on all three of those acts so much and I still can’t believe I got to see them all perform within six months of each other. Also, seeing the Star Wars Symphony Orchestra is up there.

*We’re not sure if he’ll be performing as Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus

The State of Maine Music

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The state of how music is reported and discussed in Maine has been morphing as of late.

Sam Pfeifle, who wrote about local music for The Portland Phoenix from 2001 to 2014, is no longer with the long-running weekly publication.  The Phoenix was purchased by the owners of The Portland Daily Sun, while team members from The Phoenix and the owners of Boston’s Dig started a new publication, Dig Portland. That publication was promptly shut down by the new owners of The Phoenix.  Sam’s thirteen-year backlog of reviews are no longer on The Phoenix’s site but, thankfully, Sam has launched Portland’s Best Albums to slowly re-release many of those reviews.

Newz by the Nunz has called several sites its home, but it’s most recently landed at Knack Factory.  The column, written by local musician Holly Nunan, typically features a list of music-related events happening around town.  Newz by the Nunz started out as a regular feature in Dispatch Magazine and moved to MaineToday.com (archive) before finding its current home.  Holly is also a regular on WCSH6’s Morning Report covering much of the same territory and the current host of local music radio show Music from 207 (itself an offshoot of a show started by Charlie Gaylord, who now hosts Greetings From Area Code 207 on WBLM).

Speaking of Dispatch Magazine, the once music-focused publication has morphed into something of a lifestyle magazine, though they still feature album reviews.  For a about a year, Dispatch and their parent company, kNow Media, ran Maine.fm, a streaming radio station featuring all Maine music.  The station’s site was hacked in 2011 and seemed to never really make a comeback.  The magazine took a step away from the music scene shortly thereafter.  Dispatch and kNow were founded by “SuperFrank” Copsidas, former manager of James Brown.  A music publishing company, Intrigue Music, is yet another venture started by Copsidas, who has a background in the radio business.

The blog Hilly Town slowed publication when its creator, Bryan Bruchman, relocated back to Brooklyn.  There’s talk of the site coming back, but we’re not 100% sure in what form.  Will it contain show listings, concert photos, show reviews, and late-night grub recommendations like it did once before?  The site relaunched in 2015 with show listings and reviews, presumably with the help of new contributors.

A few others of note: 

  • Emily Burnham’s Culture Shock (Bangor Daily News) and Aimsel Ponti’s Face the Music (Maine Today) are two other music columns.  Both cover a mix of local and established artists, area events, and the occasional album review.
  • The Bollard has a long running series of album and live show reviews.
  • For coverage of the heavier side of music in Portland, there’s Post Mortem.
  • While not technically a news site, The Portland Music Foundation became part of Creative Portland late in 2014 and have yet to announce how that collaboration will manifest itself.

Did we forget any other sources for local music news?  Let us know in the comments.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

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When I started Factory Portland in 2010, it was a way for me to package various services I was already offering – helping musicians with social media, photography, setting up websites, and CD design. At the time I was working a day job and able to pursue outside projects. I eventually moved on from that job and found myself jumping feet first into freelance work as a career. With only a small lull, I quickly amassed a number of both music and non-music-focused clients (mostly thanks to Alex Steed and Knack Factory).

Around the same time I met Sam Hotchkiss and began working on a number of video and content production projects through him, eventually becoming an official employee of Hotchkiss Consulting. In April 2013, Sam created BruteProtect, a WordPress plugin that, put simply, protects WordPress-based sites from being hacked. Fast forward to August 2014 – BruteProtect was acquired by Automattic (the company that runs WordPress.com, among other things), bringing along all of the employees. I could not be happier saying that I’m now an Automattician. It’s a dream job and one that I never could have anticipated becoming a reality.

In addition to my job change, my wife Megan and I welcomed our first child in July of last year. These recent developments have left little time for the site. But fear not! Moving forward, Factory Portland will no longer be offering the services it previously did, and will officially change its focus to a music blog. We’ll be continuing our 10Qs series with a new batch of performers. You may also see the occasional guest writer, maybe covering shows or other local happenings. My portfolio of music-related work will move to stephenquirk.com (which has been dormant even longer than this site). I’ll close out the art project/collaboration with my friend José Ayerve/A Severe Joy’s singles (8 down, 2 to go!), and all web clients have found new homes.

I’m really looking forward to what the future brings and I’d love to hear your feedback.  What’s missing from this site?  What have you loved and what have you hated?

10Qs with Nick Noonan of Karmin

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Musician Nick Noonan is a Maine native and, along with fellow Berklee College of Music alumnus, musical partner, and fiancée, Amy Heidemann, one half of the pop duo Karmin.  For the uninitiated, Karmin made a name for themselves by posting a number of covers and original songs on YouTube.  One of the videos has been viewed almost 90 million times, while others include guest drummer Questlove of The Roots.  The two released the single ‘Brokenhearted‘ in 2012, which peaked at #16 on the Billboard US Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard US Hot Dance Club Songs and was included on their EP, Hello.  Their debut studio album, Pulses, was released on March 25th and they recently kicked off the second leg of the accompanying tour.

You can learn more about Karmin by visiting karminmusic.com.

Where were you born?
Old Town, Maine.

How long did you live in Maine?
Until I was 18 years old.

What was your most memorable non-musical job?
Either working at a boxing gym in Boston after college, or working at Old Town Canoe Factory for a summer after freshman year.

What was your most memorable gig?
Probably either Saturday Night Live, or New Year’s Eve last year (Paul McCartney was in the audience and I got to talk to him backstage).

What was your worst gig?
Haha God – there have been a few.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Probably the Beatles the most – they’re just at the top of the list. Period.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My mini MIDI keyboard.  I use it to produce when we’re on the road.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Yes! Find your musical lane, and take it over. Work work work.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
Carmen in Latin means song, so we took that and combined it with Karma to get our ‘Karmin’.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Haha good question  – it varies. Probably Les Misérables the musical.

Bonus questions:

What was the first album/recording you owned?
Bonified by Bill Watrous.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Pharrell, Kanye, Beyonce, and Coldplay.

10Qs with Erin ‘dilly dilly’ Davidson

dilly dilly, photo by John A. Macy

Erin Davidson has been making music for over twenty years, most notably as a member or Cerebus Shoal and Sage Francis’ backing band, and as a solo artist under the name dilly dilly.  She frequently tours throughout the U.S. and Europe and can often be seen playing guitar, ukelele, the saw, and a handful of others.  In addition, she’s collaborated with fellow Maine musicians Sontiago, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, A Severe Joy, and many more.

You can learn more by visiting SoundcloudFacebookYouTube, and her website dillydillymusic.com.

dilly dilly, photo by John A. Macy
dilly dilly, photo by John A. Macy

Where were you born?
I was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. I lived on a farm for the first 4 years of my life. (no I wasn’t born in a barn STOP ASKING! i keed i keed)

What brought you to Portland?
Well, i’ve lived around the Portland area practically my whole life. Went to high school in Westbrook, which is when I started playing music with my friends.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I have a few *sniffle*. I tend bar at Port City Music Hall, State Theater and Black Tie catering company. Occasionally I work in the office and an an attendant in the cafe on the Amtrak Downeaster.

What was your most memorable gig?
My most memorable gig would probably be the first time we (Cerberus Shoal, the band I was in at the time) opened up for Sun City Girls in Seattle. We did a split EP with Alan Bishop in 2002 but this show was the first time we would officially meet them and I idolized their music growing up, so I was all kinds of excited. Alan, Charles, and Richard were all stand-up folks and the show was breathtaking. You don’t get a chance to play with and for your musical influences very often in your life and that show couldn’t have gone any better for me. To say I felt euphoric doesn’t even come close to the emotions my body and I felt, but it’ll have to do.

What was your worst gig?
Ohhh boy, I don’t like to shit talk so I’m gonna preface this by saying that I think Space Gallery is one of the greatest venues to play in Portland. That being said, I was asked to play Icing for New Years Eve one year and, without really thinking about what it was, said yes. long story short, there’s nothing like (and by “like” I mean “worse than”) playing ukulele in front of 300 people who are getting drunk and their main objective is to network. Even with my ukulele plugged into the PA and monitors, I couldn’t hear a note of what I was playing above the roar of the audience and felt more defeated than I ever have on stage. My five song set turned into a four song set and the most redeeming part of the evening was that my set ended early enough for me to go down to Port City and promptly stuff as much alcohol into my stomach as humanly possible before midnight to try and start the new year off on a better note than that one was ending.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Hip Hop

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I’d say my hands. Yeah, My hands are the most important piece of musical equipment. Definitely, hands down, hands. My pops and mom gave me these hands. Such strong hands. They gave me the best gift any parent can give their children. I’m a lucky bird, when it all comes down to it. They allow me to try new instruments and ideas. I was born with great hands.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
I’ll give the best advice I ever got. Don’t listen to that little hater inside your head and, remember, you might be playing the same chords and singing the same notes that someone else has before you… but no one will ever play or sing in your voice. You’ve been given the gift of being unique. A snowflake in the world of sound, vision and creativity. It would be a shame to let that go to waste. The universe is relying on you.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
“dilly dilly” came from the first song I ever remember listening to in my life. My preschool teacher used to play Burl Ives’ version of Lavender Blue, and it stuck with me. I thought it an appropriate moniker for my musical endeavors.

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYrdEBLecZg

 

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
HOT 104.7… I love singing Justin Timberlake (et al.) at the top of my voice when I’m driving around. “IT’S LIKE YOU’RE MY MIRROR. oh oh. MY MIRROR STARING BACK AT ME. oh oh…..”

Bonus questions:

What was the first album/recording you owned?
The first one I remember owning is the Kenny Loggins Footloose 7″. When we were kids, my brother and I used to play it on one of those little plastic suitcase players at 78rpms and pretend we were chipmunks.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Honestly, I’ve been listening to the 24/7 comedy station on iheart radio like it’s going out of business. So much so, that I even fall asleep to it. I LOVE stand up comedy. Musically i’ve been wearing a hole in the album Wild Go by Dark Dark Dark and Rufus Wainwright’s self titled LP.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM… I’d have to say Jimmy Buffet when I was nine. It’s the show that started the gears in my head rolling to play and perform music. BOOM!

10Qs with Aly Spaltro of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

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Lady Lamb the Beekeeper // Photos by Shervin Lainez
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper // Photo by Shervin Lainez

Aly Spaltro, better known as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, spent her youth bouncing around the globe before settling in Maine.  She would go on to make a name playing shows in the state, eventually relocating to Brooklyn.  She’s played throughout the U.S., Europe, and Canada, toured with Kaki King, Neko Case, and Beirut, and has been featured in Pitchfork, NPR, and even Buzzfeed.  She released her debut studio album, Ripely Pine, earlier this year.  She’ll play to a sold out crowd at SPACE on November 30th, and The State Theater on December 6th with The Fogcutters for the Big Band Syndrome series.

Where were you born?
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

What brought you to Portland?
I moved to Brunswick with my family in 2003, and moved to Portland in 2008 to perform and be part of the music scene there.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
No, just music full time.

What was your most memorable gig?
Playing The State Theatre in 2010. Also in May I played a full band show in Chicago with a really bad cold and had to keep turning away from the mic to cough, but the audience picked up the lyrics for me and sang the songs loudly.

What was your worst gig?
Last fall I played my very first northwest show in Seattle with a serious fever.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
A mix of Neutral Milk Hotel, Mama Cass, Fiery Furnaces, Kate Bush, & Stevie Nicks to name a few.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
my fender Jazzmaster or Strat.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Don’t compromise your work or vision for anything or anyone.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
I wrote it in the middle of the night in my sleep in a notebook beside my bed.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Selena Gomez ‘Come & Get It’ and Sheryl Crow “If It Makes You Happy.’

Bonus Questions

What was the first album/recording you owned?
The Beatles White Album on cassette.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Son Lux, Janelle Monae, Kurt Vile, Xenia Rubinos.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
Neko Case at Radio City Music Hall.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper // Photo by Shervin Lainez
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper // Photo by Shervin Lainez

10Qs with José Ayerve of A Severe Joy and Spouse

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October is LGBT month and Factory Portland will be highlighting Maine-connected LGBTQ artists for the week of October 28th.

José Ayerve has been performing and recording in Maine since the mid 90s.  His first band in the state, Spouse, has been on hiatus since 2011 (with one benefit performance in Northampton earlier this year) and for appearances in bands like Bullyclub, among others.  For the past couple of years, Ayerve has been performing as A Severe Joy, a solo project that was born out of multiple band-member relocations.  As A Severe Joy, he’s released an eponymous album, five plexi singles, and a compilation of those singles entitled ‘Cinematesque.’  A second set of five singles are planned over the course of the next year.

Spouse at Port City Music Hall, photo by Stephen Quirk // Factory Portland

Where were you born?
Bogotá, Colombia

What brought you to Portland?
After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1996, I became involved in a local theater troupe based in Portland. I moved to town in 1997, then moved away in 1998, returned in 2000, left again in 2003, and have been residing here once more since 2009.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I do. I work as a Spanish language translator for a public school system based in Massachusetts.

What was your most memorable gig?
I’ve had quite a few memorable gigs. With Spouse, it was definitely in February of 2011 at Port City Music Hall. It was a perfect set and at the end of it, I was overcome with emotion (because I knew that I was going to put the band on indefinite hiatus, but hadn’t told my bandmates) and I smashed my guitar on stage. It was the most incredible feeling ever. Kevin O’Rourke of Lo Fine (and occasionally, Spouse) rebuilt it for me. It sounds better now than it did before the smash. With ASJ, I think my most memorable gig was the Free Range Music Festival in Belfast in April of 2012. It was a beautiful night, totally packed, and I had the lovely dancers from Haus of Paradigm performing with me.

What was your worst gig?
I played a show at the Free Street Taverna in 1998 on a Sunday night. My bandmates had bailed on me for the show and I tried to perform drunk. It was a disaster.

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A Severe Joy, photo by Stephen Quirk // Factory Portland

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Album: “Long Live the New Flesh” by Flesh For Lulu. It changed my life.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My phone, because it houses all of my backing tracks and the drum machine ap that I use for ASJ.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Do it because you love it. Learn to take care of your gear, be good at math (and accounting), follow-through, and for chrissakes, be a good example for other musicians. I believe musicians struggle as much as we do because people in general have a negative impression of us unless we become nationally or internationally recognized for our work. Also, value your art and if you’re not enjoying it, switch it up.

What was the origin behind your band name?
Spouse is short for “Cheating on Spouses Can Be a Messy Management Affair” – the title of an article that I had to read for Psychology class in college.

A Severe Joy is an anagram of my real name, José Ayerve

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilt about liking any particular artist. I’ve always been a fan of Huey Lewis & The News. I really like the new Cher album, and Justin Timberlake is fucking awesome. That said, my favorite album is “The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin”.

Bonus Questions

What was the first album/recording you owned?
“Free to Be You and Me” – Marlo Thomas and Friends

What are you listening to at the moment?
“Destruye Hogares” by Fobia

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
The Pixies at the State Theatre in 2011 was my favorite, not sure it was the best, but I really enjoyed it.

You can learn more about A Severe Joy at Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, and SoundCloud and Spouse from Bandcamp and Facebook.

10Qs with Natalie Oldham of Rotundo Sealeg

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October is LGBT month and Factory Portland will be highlighting Maine-connected LGBTQ artists for the week of October 28th.

Natalie Oldham plays drum machine and keyboard in Rotundo Sealeg, a synth-punk band based out of Portland and Camden. She formed the band in 2006 and is joined by Jason Unterreiner (Wood Burning Cat) on guitar, second vocals, and somebody-to-high-five-with. Rotundo Sealeg will be completing their new album ‘The Moon And The Stars’ in November and will be promoting the record by early 2014!

Natalie Oldham

Where were you born?
I was born in Rockport, Maine. It was Friday the 13th!

What keeps you in Maine?
It’s a beautiful place and I know nothing else. A lot of my friends and family live in Maine, too.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I work with middle school and high school kids at an after-school youth center. I get to set up music and art programs, play video games, and make sure nobody is getting teased or bullied!

What was your most memorable gig?
This one is a really magical story for me. Jason and I were driving to Mexico, Maine to play at this DIY performance/living space called The Castle. It was like this unfinished apartment building that somebody’s parents owned, and it kept changing all around every time we played there, like Hogwarts staircases. On this particular occasion, we got a text on the way there from Anthony Bitetti (Good Kids Sprouting Horns, Great Western Plain) who was playing drums in the band at that time, saying that he couldn’t make it. We had no drum machine with us, and hooked up a tiny little Casio PT-1 to a huge bass amp for our rhythm section, thinking it was going to be the worst show ever. Instead, it was like this amazing unifying thing between us and the crowd! We were making due with what we had and having a really fuck-all good time, just like they were with their performance space in this middle-of-nowhere town! There was so much clapping along, singing along, and laughing. It made us feel great to be musicians, doing what we do. It made me feel great to be alive.

What was your worst gig?
This was probably the Christmas show we played at Slainte a few years ago. We had done like this mini tour of Christmas shows with lights and decorations and soynog and cookies – just this all-out holiday explosion kind of thing. We put so much into promoting and just like the production of the show to make it really special, and then just like four people showed up. It just felt like, what is the point, if people don’t care about what you’re doing? I remember telling Jonathan Merrifield (from Strawberry Allstars, The 500s, The Scrapes) that I wanted to quit music when we were packing up. He said, “Never give up!” like were in an afterschool special, because he is resilient and amazing. I felt depressed about this for a long time, but obviously I didn’t actually give up. I’m actually finding out that a lot of musicians have this same kind of experience, where they blame themselves all of the time for people not showing up. In reality, there are a lot of other factors involved, even if it is disappointing. We have a lot of songs about being disappointed, and then what you can do from there.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
They Might Be Giants’ second album, ‘Lincoln’, was their first tape I ever bought, after an older friend recommended I check out TMBG. After that, I just completely lived with that album! It really changed things for me. I was in like fifth grade, and really only liked pop country and the Beach Boys up until that point. I remember listening to Ana Ng on my walkman and being like, “Whoa. This is different.” They Might Be Giants has been one of my favorite bands ever since. Their smart phrasing and word choice, combined with their unique musical style, just really connects for me.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My Casio CZ-1! It’s the top Casio’s short-lived professional synthesizer line from the 80s, and it is a powerful and beautiful machine! Jason saw it for sale at Buckdancers, second hand, and called me right up because I had been playing a lower-ranked CZ and loving it for years. I called the store and it turned out that it had belonged to Depeche Mode!! What better band to own a synth from, right? I knew then that it was meant to be! I use it for all of our recording and live shows now.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Don’t let all of the shit bog you down. Keep doing what you do, because even when it’s hard, it’s important for both your own sanity and the future experiences of others that you share your special shine.

What was the origin behind your band name?
I misheard a talk radio program. I thought they had said, “Rotundo… sea-leg.” I liked how those words went together, but it knew it wasn’t actually what they had said. I still thought it sounded like Rotundo Sealeg ought to be something. So I decided to make it something! A band.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I have a genuine enjoyment of the Spin Doctors’ ‘Pocket Full Of Kryptonite’ that always makes me say, “yessss!” under my breath when I hear one of those songs come on in the grocery store or something.

Bonus Questions

What was the first album/recording you owned?
I think it was a cassingle of Kokomo, by the Beach Boys. I remember listening to that when I was on vacation in Florida with my parents and feeling SO COOL.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Bomb The Music Industry!’s ‘Vacation’. Definitely one of my top ten favorite albums! You can download it for free or a donation at www.bombthemusicindustry.com along with any or all of their other material. It’s intense, synthy punk with this emotional content grabs ahold of your panicky heart and won’t let go. Or at least, it does that with my panicky heart.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve ever attended?
That would probably be the all-acoustic show that Fishboy did at 131 Washington when they were touring for Classic Creeps. I felt so lucky to be at that show – and we even got to open for them that night. Such amazing energy!!

You can find out more about Rotundo Sealeg by visiting Facebook.

10Qs with Cidny Bullens

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October is LGBT month and Factory Portland will be highlighting Maine-connected LGBTQ artists for the week of October 28th.

This two-time Grammy nominee’s 38 year career has taken Cidny from singing back-up with Elton John and singing lead vocals on the “Grease” movie soundtrack– to having eight critically acclaimed solo albums, including the award winning “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth”, “Neverland”, “dream #29” and most recently “Howling Trains and Barking Dogs”. Guests on the albums include friends Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Bryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, Delbert McClinton, and Sir Elton. In the 1990’s, Cidny co-wrote songs in Nashville producing several charting singles. Cid also wrote the musical “Islands” honoring the island of North Haven, Maine, which was performed on Broadway in NYC and in Portland at the Merrill Auditorium in the fall of 2001. Cidny continues a solo career, is one-third of super-group The Refugees with Wendy Waldman and Deborah Holland, and is now writing a one person show.

Cidny Bullens
photos by Joanne Berman

Where were you born?
Boston, MA

What brought you to Portland?
Been coming to Maine my whole life. My grandmother grew up in Portland and they had a house in Kennebunkport where we spent our summers. We also had relatives on Chebeague Island and would go there a lot too. So I always wanted to live here one day. But it was summer of 1990 on North Haven when we decided to move from Connecticut to Portland. We bought a house right then and only went back to Connecticut to pack up! As a side note: My ex Dan Crewe then called our good friend Bob Ludwig, who wanted to partner with Dan in a new mastering studio. Bob was living in NYC at the time. Dan was afraid that our move to Maine would end their plans, but Bob’s mother lived Down East so Bob was thrilled about coming up here. And that’s how Gateway Mastering got started.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I moved to Los Angeles in mid-1974 and luckily had some incredible breaks within the first year of arriving there. I met legendary songwriter/producer Bob Crewe (discovered the Four Seasons, Mitch Ryder, and more. Think “Jersey Boys”) and became his gofer/protege, spending every waking minute in the studio and watching him write songs (I was there when he wrote “Lady Marmalade”). I also used to hang out at Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, getting coffee for and hobnobbing with clients like Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, and Dr. John. I ended up singing backup on Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” album, Gene Clark’s (The Byrds) “No Other” and others. My biggest break was crashing a Rocket Record’s press party, at Cherokee, for Neil Sedaka. Elton John started Rocket Records and was there. I met him that night and got hired on the spot to sing backup on his tour. Two days later, I was in his band and on the road. I sang with Elton on three tours and on the “Blue Moves” album. I also sang the back up vocals on “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart”. My next big break was getting asked to sing on the “Grease” movie soundtrack in 1977. I was just hired (thanks to Bob Crewe) to sing background vocals. But once I got into the studio, they asked me to sing lead on three songs, “Freddy My Love”, “Raining on Prom Night” and “Mooning”. I still get people bringing their “Grease” LPs to gigs for me to sign. I made my first solo album in 1978 “Desire Wire” and was nominated for a Grammy for my single “Survivor”. That’s the crux of the early part of my career. I got married in 1979, decided to step out of the business and have kids. It would be ten years till my next album “Cindy Bullens” (1989), then ten years after that (1999) before “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth” which was written and recorded after the death of my 11 year old daughter Jessie. I did spend the early ’90s commuting to Nashville on a regular basis to co-write songs with some incredible writers. That experience was invaluable and led to several charting Country songs for me, and basically re-generated my career as an artist. Not to mention making me a much better songwriter and musician! I still consider Nashville my second home. With “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth” I started touring again and making records. CDs “Neverland”, “dream #29″, “Howling Trains and Barking Dogs” followed. In 2007, I started a trio with Wendy Waldman and Deborah Holland, The Refugees. We recorded two albums and toured until the middle of this year. I’m now writing some new songs and will hopefully record some time in 2014. I am also working on (slowly) a one person show.

What was your most memorable gig?
There have been a few! But when someone asks, I think the first one that comes to mind is playing Dodger Stadium with Elton John in 1975. Magical! The second one: Elton John, Shaeffer Stadium (Foxboro) on July 4, 1976-the Bicentennial (flying over in a helicoptor looking down at 80,000 people before playing then being introduced to a hometown crowd by Elton). Of my own solo career–ah, so many! Early career? Paradise Boston 1979 or Palladium in Hollywood, CA opening for the Ramones in 1979. Later, maybe Charlotte, NC in 2002. Very special! The last time my father saw me perform. Then there’s always Australia, Germany, Holland, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, and many shows for bereaved parents around the country. So many incredible experiences!

What was your worst gig?
Well, two. Worst audience: Wheeling, WV 1979 opening for Styx. Worst mishape: 1989 opening for Joe Cocker in Hollywood, FL- my pants disintegrating as I do a jump-split!

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Too many to count.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My guitars.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Honestly? Hope for the best (meaning: work your butt off practicing, learning, preparing, and creating your own opportunities) and expect the worst (meaning: You better have fun because anything can happen but chances are slim!)

What are you listening to at the moment?
My friend Deborah Holland’s new album “Vancouver”. Also, Steve Earle’s new one, Avett Brothers, Civil Wars, Lumineers, Sirius Outlaw Country.

What was the best concert/musical performance you’ve attended?
You’re kidding, right? I’ve been ON stage with so many of my idols from Elton to Bonnie Raitt! It’s hard to get better than that vantage point. But I guess the FIRST concert I ever attended. The Rolling Stones VERY FIRST American apprearance in Lynn, MA in 1965. (And there’s a whole other story to that too!)

You can find out more about Cidny at cidnybullens.com, on Twitter, and Facebook.

10Qs with Nick Poulin of Tall Horse

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Tall Horse is a project fronted by Portland’s Nick Poulin.  Poulin was already known to Portland’s music fans and musicians for [dog] and [pony], a video production team with a focus on music videos.  He’ll be recording his first full length album with band members Dominic Grosso , Dustin Saucier, Kris Rodgers, and others.  The band will be appearing at Slainte on Wednesday, September 25th for a limited edition EP release event, and again on October 18th with Caro Khan.   Tall Horse can be found on Soundcloud and Facebook.

Nick PoukinWhere were you born?
Portland, Maine

What brought you to Portland?
I had just finished school in Boston, MA and Los Angeles, CA for film. I moved back to Maine to be close to the family (and I absolutely hated LA. At the time it was a no-brainer) and moved to Portland after getting a job at Channel 13 as an editor.  Portland’s music scene, food, amazing beaches, and creative people keep me here. Portland is home.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I have a little one man business taking pictures of cars for dealerships. I work around my own schedule, so my main focus is music.

What was your most memorable gig?
The first time I ever played in front of people, at Slainte in May. I was playing with Ashley Brewer and Ryan Havey after rehearsing for over four months. I was so nervous my hands were trembling and sweating uncontrollably for hours. The funny thing is we were only scheduled to play three songs. Just three. I don’t know what was going on with the sound that night, but I couldn’t even hear my guitar over the crowd. Luckily, I had been playing those songs for over a year, so I just went from muscle memory. We played a song that I wrote called “Mud”, and about halfway through Ashley and I looked at each other because the whole crowd had gone quiet. I honestly thought something was wrong, but I guess they liked it.

What was your worst gig?
Ha ha, this set was at Slainte too. Everyone was huddled around the bar watching the Red Sox game. I was feeling pretty good about my set that night, but most of the people interested in listening to the music had left after a few musicians sang “Fuck The Taliban”, a parody of “Rock the Casbah” (I still have the lyric sheet if you’d like to take a look). After my first song, when only two or three people clapped, I got on the mic and said “Thank you, all two of you” and played the rest of my set without stopping. I admit I was cranky, and sick, and it was pouring outside, but I ended up playing a set I was really happy with anyway.

After the set, a guy came up to me and told me I have a great voice. And that made up for all the frustration.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
“It’s a Wonderful Life” by Sparklehorse and “Huggable Dust” by Okay. Both of these albums are pop albums turned on their head. It’s what I’m working toward as a musician. I’m not there yet, but I’m having fun trying to get there.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My guitar. If I go on a weekend trip I have to bring it with me. I can’t go a day without playing.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
I should be seeking advice, not giving it, because I’m still a rookie. But, I can definitely say that if you’re that person writing songs every single day, keep doing it. Just keep writing, and playing, and singing. I played and recorded my own material for three years before I had the guts to share it with anybody. Play, record, share. Ride the wave. It’s fun. People need to hear your perspective.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
A girl once told me to get off my high horse. It was one of those moments where you’re so frustrated and emotions are getting the best of you and you wish that you could rewind about fifteen minutes back to when everything was fine. That was a big moment for me. I had just lost my job and my girlfriend, so the shit was really hitting the fan. It’s the moment I decided to take charge of my own life and push forward as a mostly solo musician. There already is a band called High Horse, so I changed it to Tall Horse.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
It is and always will be Prince.

10Qs with Chad Walls of An Overnight Low

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Chad Walls is a member of An Overnight Low and formerly of the disbanded The Frotus Caper.   An Overnight Low plan to release a series of records starting in January 2014, each of which will be named after a UK train station. “Euston” will be released in January, “Piccadilly” in June, and “Waverley” in December.  The material for the album was inspired by Walls’ time spent living and traveling in the UK, Ireland, and Europe while studying at the University of Manchester.  To record the series, Walls enlisted the help of a number of Maine musicians and engineers (Mac Coldwell, Jonathan Wyman, Mark Rohman, Ryan Dolan, Chris White, Holly Nunan, Joe Boucher, John Nunan, and Steve Hodgkin).  The band will play The Thirsty Pig on September 29th, 2013.

Chad Liverpool
Chad in Liverpool

Where were you born?
Biddeford, Maine

What brought you to Portland?
I was founder and sole member of the Biddeford music scene.  It was time to move on.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m an instructor at Southern Maine Community College.

What was your most memorable gig?
The Frotus Caper played a lot of shows.  A lack of moderation eventually burned us out.  I remember at one particular gig we decided to play our original music in one continuous three-hour set.  I don’t know what point we were trying to make by doing this, because I’m sure no one noticed and we all got really sick from working up a sweat on stage and loading out in the dead of winter.  But man, you should have heard us.  Playing one song that night was worth a year of rehearsing.

What was your worst gig?
I caught this horrible cold once from playing a continuous three-hour set in the dead of winter.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  The band broke up soon after.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
I have a terrible singing voice so it’s inevitable that whenever I write a song, it will go through a number of interpretations before it’s committed to tape.  I often bring lyrics and chord changes to a project and encourage my band mates to participate in the writing process.  I’m pleased when folks say they can hear that camaraderie in our music.  I hear that on R.E.M. records, especially Life’s Rich Pageant and New Adventures in Hi-Fi.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My plastic ukulele.  I write and demo songs with it.  It sounds cheap and never stays in tune so I’m seldom hopeful or excited about the noise it makes. My ukulele and I don’t sing very well, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever be bullied by the sound of a song in its initial stage.

 Any advice for a musician starting out?
Write and demo one song a week.  Write a song about your commute to work.  Write a song about holiday shopping.  Write a song about a childhood memory.  Sing and accompany these into a digital recorder.  Compile, review, erase and revise.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
An Overnight Low is based on an experience I had when I was delayed at Heathrow airport for nine hours and was facing another six on my overnight flight home for Christmas. I pulled out the pictures, videos, interviews I collected over the past year while studying at The University of Manchester.  Over several cups of Costa coffee, I organized these scattered items in folders on my laptop while waiting for my flight.  The year of distance provided an objectivity allowing me to stitch together unrelated moments into common themes.  The collected events spoke with a new voice creating new stories. That’s what our first record Euston is all about.

 What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I’ve got to come clean about something.  I’ve always been jealous of my friends who spent their formative years listing to the right bands/artists:  The Beatles, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, T. Rex, Joe Jackson, Neil Young, etc.  I did own a copy of Magical Mystery Tour, but I was more inclined to listen to Double Platinum by KISS after a hard day in the 4th grade.   So this is essentially a revised answer to Q6.

10Qs with John Nunan of Muckie Mittens and Serious Rooms

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John NunanChances are that if you’ve paid any attention to Maine music in the last 15 or so years, you’ve seen John Nunan on drums.  From Bullyclub to Strause & Company, he’s a constant around town.  He’s currently involved in two newer projects, Muckie Mittens and Serious Rooms, and both have new releases.  Muckie Mittens’ debut is being released by Lorem Ipsum Recordings on 8/20 and Serious Rooms’ release will be celebrated with an event at USM’s Southworth Planetarium on 8/24.

Where were you born?

I was born in London during the height of the swinging 60s, although I can’t say I participated in the summer of  love that much. We lived in large house in Cricklewood, with an outdoor toilet and a bathroom we shared with 2 other families. My parents, my brother and I all slept together in the same bedroom till I was about eight. To say it was cozy is an understatement, but I remember it fondly.

What brought you to Portland?

I came to work in America in the early 90s. I worked at an arts camp in Maine, first as a counselor and then eventually as a camp director living there year round. The summers were exciting and fun, but after a few years the winter experience was a little like The Shining. I came to Portland in 97 looking for a little culture and I found it in spades. I answered my first ad and joined a group within a month of being here and pretty much haven’t looked back since.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?

I work as the marketing & communications director for a large disability non-profit. I work with a diverse group of co-workers and consumers who have a wide range of disabilities. It makes for a really healthy, interesting work environment. It’s nice to be able to go home at night with a clear conscience about what I do.

What was your most memorable gig?

I played an open air festival show with one of my bands in England in the 80s. There were thousands of people there and a few big name artists on the bill ( UB40, Hawkwind, Ian Gillan etc.). We got to hob nob with the names backstage for the day and generally be treated like stars. Not too shabby.

What was your worst gig?

When I was in bullyclub, we played a Superbowl party in Northampton MA. We drove 3.5hrs to get there and were told to set up right in front of the TV. We were instructed to play during the half time and every time there was a commercial. We probably didn’t play more than an hour all told and never made eye contact with our audience once. I can’t remember how much, or if we got paid, but I do remember we drove through a blizzard to get home which doubled our travel time. Oh the glamorous world of rock & roll!

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?

This is a difficult one to answer as we obviously take different things from everything we listen to. I have to say, that the 3rd album by Peter Gabriel (“Melt” in the US) had a massive impact on me. The sense of experimentation was huge. He took massive risks in terms of song construction that I still admire to this day. There are no cymbals on the album, and for someone who is a drummer, that is a brave restriction to make that forces you into new direction and creative solutions to compensate for their absence. He chose to build most of the songs from the ground up around rhythm rather than chords and that is something that I still do in my production work today.

nunan1What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?

While I could be flip and say my drum key, I think the thing I use most is my computer. Nowadays it is central to almost every project I am working on, whether is it to hum a melody idea, record a demo, create album art or just communicate with bandmates. I remember what it was like before, but I don’t want to imagine what it would be like moving forward without it.

Any advice for a musician starting out?

Keep an open mind, and always remember to take time to listen to the people you are playing with. It’s a lost skill, but it is much more important what you are doing together than what you are doing individually.

What’s the origin behind your band name?

Band names are a necessary evil. People place too much emphasis on them when the truth of the matter is you ultimately will be remembered for the music you create. The Beatles, The Jam, The Who – none of these are great names in themselves, but we forget that because the bands themselves were great. Muckie mittens was a phrase that came up that made us all smile. If it does the same for someone else, and they remember the songs – it has done its job.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

Other people seem to take issue with my love of 1970’s prog, Rush, Peter Gabriel era Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson etc. Me, I’m guilt free…well at least in terms of music!

10Qs with Sam Anderson of Serious Rooms

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Sam Anderson is a Portland-based singer/songwriter/guitarist who has been playing in local bands since the early 1980s. He’s currently a member of Serious Rooms, along with Chris Plumstead, Mark McDonough, and John Nunan. Their debut CD, “Random Universe,” will be released on August 20th on Cornmeal Records.

Where were you born?
I was born in Mercy Hospital in Portland, ME on a Friday the 13th, 1959. Because of this, I’ve always considered Friday the 13th to be a lucky day. I hope that my parents feel the same way.

What keeps you in Portland?
I love Portland. The city has a thriving music and arts scene, great restaurants, and a colorful history. It offers the benefits of city living, without the traffic jams. And when city life becomes a bit tedious, one is within easy driving distance of the ocean, various lakes, and several mountains. I have absolutely no desire to move elsewhere.

Of course, if you were to ask me again in February, I’d probably give you a different answer.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I have worked for Headlight Audio Visual in Portland for over 28 years. It’s scary to contemplate that I’ve been employed there for most of my life. I have coworkers who were not yet born when I was first hired.

What was your most memorable gig?
When I was in the 6th grade, my younger brother and I, along with some friends, played an acoustic concert for our entire elementary school. It was my first experience playing on a proper stage. The gig had been arranged by a couple of supportive teachers who had witnessed our musical skills first-hand. You see, my brother and I would occasionally bring our guitars to school, so we could play a few tunes during our lunch period. These impromptu performances led to a Friday afternoon assembly in the gym. As I recall, we received an impressive ovation from the students and faculty. Afterward, we shamelessly stood near the exit door so we could collect compliments from everyone as they left.

What was your worst gig?
A couple of years ago, my band and I played a gig on a weekday morning; it was a local corporate event. Far from being a featured act, we were hired to be, essentially, “window dressing”. Our five-piece band was crowded onto a 10’ x 10’ stairwell landing overlooking a cavernous registration area. From our cramped perch, we played our set to the busy, oblivious crowd below.

We didn’t get paid, either.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Although it sounds completely cliché, I’m forced to say that The Beatles have undoubtedly been my biggest influence. It was The Beatles who inspired me to start writing songs, and who first made me consider forming a band, all before the age of 12. Although, I’ve had other major influences along the way, including James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, Tom Petty, and Pete Townshend, The Beatles have always served as the ultimate yardstick. Hearing the White Album for the first time was a life-altering experience.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
That would have to be my Fender Telecaster, which I’ve nicknamed “Growler”. I purchased it used back in 2006. Originally made in Mexico, it has been upgraded over time to my chosen specifications. With its jumbo frets, Texas Special Pickups, and brass six-saddle bridge, it has a unique sound and plays like a dream.

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Any advice for a musician starting out?
Play because you love to do so. There is no better reason.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
“Serious Rooms” was derived from a passage in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I was re-reading the book about a year and a half ago, and I came upon the following passage in the first chapter, describing Dean Moriarty’s wife, Marylou:

“…She was in an evil gray New York pad that she’d heard about back West, and waiting like a longbodied emaciated Modigliani surrealist woman in a serious room.”

I was instantly taken by the expression, “serious room”. To me, it evoked visions of a dull, static environment, the last place where one would expect to hear music. I felt that it would make a wonderfully ironic band name.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I’m a big fan of The Monkees. I know more about that band than any self-respecting person should. Their recording of Pleasant Valley Sunday is one of my all-time favorite records. If I’m driving, and a Monkees song comes on the radio, I feel compelled to sing along. Loudly.

10Qs with Galen Richmond of Computer at Sea

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Galen Richmond is the man behind the one-person, circuit-bending, and synth outfit known as Computer at Sea.  He, along with fellow synthesizer enthusiasts Mr. NEET and Rotundo Sealeg, play Mayo Street Arts this Friday, May 31.

In June, Richmond will participate in a restaurant band competition, Food Fight.  The band, tentatively known as Legimate Tigers, will also feature Zak Taillon from superorder and Leon Samson from Dirty White Hats.

 

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Where were you born?
I was born in Strong, Maine. There used to be a birthing house in town where hippies would have their kids.

Why did you stay in Portland?
I came to Portland sort of accidentally in the summer of 1998 and hadn’t meant to stay for a decade and a half, but there it is. Everybody says this all the time, but there’s such an amazing crop of artists, musicians, and other involved passionate people here. Just the bands alone is reason to get excited. Every three years there’s a completely new batch of fantastic bands making surprising music.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
Right now I’m tending bar at Boda, which has turned out to be a lovely situation. During the school year I study electrical engineering.

What was your most memorable gig?
The show that I think back most fondly on was the first time I played the Bent Festival in New York, which is a now defunct electronics festival focusing on circuit bent instruments and hacked technology. Ian Paige played with me on that one, because I was nervous about producing a live sound comparable to the demo that I submitted. It was a heavy scene; three or four of the guys who are absolute titans in the field were standing, arms folded scrutinizing my table and the instruments I built. The set went absolutely great, and it turned out those guys were actually really nice.

What was your worst gig?
Hands down the worst show I ever played was two winters ago at Geno’s, through no fault of the venue. I had accidentally got rather loaded before the show (Bookers- you know about this whiskey? horrifying) and nothing on my table was working. Some stuff legitimately broke, and there was a crucial power supply that I had left at my studio. If I were a bit more on the straight and narrow I probably could have powered through, but things being as they were, I had to pull the plug after maybe ten minutes. The next day I brought the worst hangover of my life to my grandmother’s funeral. Horrible.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
It’s hard to pin down one artist that’s been the most influential. Depending on the day, I’d say either Brian Eno or Eric Bachman from Archers of Loaf. As it’s rainy today, I’d say Brian Eno. “Another Green World” is just a perplexing and wonderful piece of music. I envy how still he can be.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
The only piece of equipment that I really couldn’t replace is my modified Casio Sk-1. It’s the first really big circuit bending project I completed and I use it for everything. Since I built it early on, the layout is really idiosyncratic but I’ve spent so much time with it that it feels natural to me. Computer at Sea would close up shop immediately if I lost that thing.

Any advice for a musician starting out? 
For folks just starting out, I think it’s important to not sweat it about getting your stuff out to a huge market. Make something you want to hear and have fun doing it.

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
The name Computer At Sea was actually pulled of an old stereo. I’ve never seen this setting since, but the particular stereo had a button next to the EQ settings that said computer at sea. I was initially saving the name for an album title for this band, The Enchantments, that I was playing with at the time but we sort of quietly dissolved, as bands will do.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Number one guilty pleasure: Jesus Christ Superstar. For what ever reason, I know every word to every song.

10Qs with Dan Capaldi of Sea Level

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Dan Capaldi is best known in Portland’s music scene as a drummer, having worked with Dean Ford, Shashasha, Joe Gallant, and others.  In addition to his drumming, he can be seen playing a number of instruments for Spencer Albee, and working as producer for artists like Lady Zen, among others.  His solo project, Sea Level, ranges from an sound to electronic/triphop and was featured in Big Band Syndrome Vol. 2.

DC_02Where were you born?
Springfield, Massachusetts, but grew up in Falmouth, Maine.

What keeps you in Portland?
Portland is not the easiest place to find steady employment when you’re a music composer. As an artist, most of Portland’s value comes down to it’s extensive network of musicians and artists most of which are unwilling to compromise their art for money. Most everyone plays nicely together and associates with each other because they want to be a part of something they believe in. Portland artists sacrifice so much in the name of genuine passion… What more could I ask for?

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
All music, baby.

What was your most memorable gig?
Unfortunately my goldfish-esque memory doesn’t allow me to dig too deeply into the past… but I’d have to say the sold out London show on the most recent tour with my UK band Soft Bullets last November was pretty awesome.

What was your worst gig?
Okay, all pickup bar gigs aside… it would have to be the first time I ever performed as Sea Level. In preparation for my actual first show at Atomic Trash’s “America the boobiful” 4th of July burlesque show, I was added to an event where performers were projected out of an apartment window into the streets of Portland. Apparently the crew didn’t get the memo that I was coming. Not only was I treated like a nuisance, no one bothered to put my guitar in the mix… Needless to say my debut was a cappella.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
So many to credit. Most obvious would be film composer Danny Elfman. Not to sound cliché, but possibly the biggest turning point in my life was when I first saw The Nightmare Before Christmas (when I was 21 or so). From that point, I developed an extreme drive to become a film composer as well as an intentionally theatrical stage persona. A beautiful sound has so much more potential to leave a lasting impression on the mind when connected to a beautiful visual (film, dance. album art…) or vice versa.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
Easily my Gretsch G6118t Anniversary Jr. guitar. I love it to a somewhat unhealthy extreme.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Okay… first of all, understand there are an infinite number of reasons why people make music, and that is a beautiful thing. Some gain pleasure and sense of accomplishment from the sheer craft of learning an instrument. Others experience emotion when performing for a crowd they don’t get a chance to experience anywhere else in their life. Some people can only identify true happiness as it results from digging something out of them they never knew was there. Some dudes want chicks. Some chicks want dudes. Some dudes want dudes… you get the point. DO NOT fall victim to pressure. DO NOT compromise your intentions, your morals or your values. DO NOT try to be something you’re not. Only you can do what you do. Even if you’re playing a cover song… if you’re genuine, it is YOUR SONG. Not to mention it’s probably no less original than most of the statistically influenced bull*#@$ coming out these days… Oh, and always bring a sleeping bag.

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
Sea Level has always had an aesthetic appeal. I was looking for something that was a nice mix of navy blue and lime green but could become a bit darker if necessary. I picture it existing within a fictional time of day that’s a perfect mix of noon and midnight. My original idea was “January Sunshine” which despite a similar color scheme was just a bit too bright for my liking. Sea Level spirals downward which I like, but also in a literal sense suggests a point separating two very different worlds. Most of my stories revolve around this concept.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Dean Ford.

10Qs with Peter Squires of Farthest Forests and The Landladys

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PeterSquires-photoThis month, Peter Squires released his sophomore solo album “Where the Bunny Meets the Bear.”  Whereas his solo debut, 2009’s “Woe is Me,” was acoustic, “Where the Bunny Meets the Bear” goes back to his electric roots.  Both are available from Bandcamp, AmazoniTunes, and many Bull Moose locations.  When he’s not performing solo material, he can also be found as a member of The Farthest Forests and The Landladys (of Burst & Bloom Records).

Where were you born?
I was born in Manhattan, grew up on Long Island, and spent my early adulthood in Brooklyn. I moved to Maine when I was 29.

What brought you to Portland?
I actually live about 45 minutes South of Portland in Eliot (near the New Hampshire border). After spending a year on tour around the country in support of my first solo album (‘Woe is Me’, 2009), I landed for the Summer out on Star Island (off the coast of Portsmouth). When the Summer ended I didn’t want to go back to New York, but didn’t really have anywhere else to go…so I just stayed in Maine. I’m glad I did – I really like it here.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
Yes, I work in the Development Office at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH. It allows me to have a “grown-up” job while keeping close contact with the arts…and I get to see lots of great shows for free!

What was your most memorable gig?
My most memorable gig was in Jackson, Mississippi. I was on that national tour, and had a gap in my schedule between Austin, TX and Atlanta, GA. Just looking for a place to stay, I turned to the website couchsurfing.org. I got through to a couch surfing host named Lizzie Wright, who not only agreed to put me up for the night, but also booked a last minute show in her house. Lizzie herself is a great musician, who I ended up doing another short tour with a few months later. Probably 40 or 50 people ended up coming to her house for that show, and they were the most supportive, excited crowd I could have ever asked for. It wasn’t the most prestigious or best-paying show I’ve ever played, but the circumstances of the show and the way it turned out definitely made it the most memorable.

What was your worst gig?
My worst gig ever was in Philadelphia. There actually was no gig, because literally zero people came. I didn’t know that was mathematically possible, but it happened.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
In my formative years, my favorite bands were Nirvana, the Pixies, and Weezer, and later Neutral Milk Hotel definitely got added to that list. You can definitely hear those influences in my music now – but as I came to identify more as a singer-songwriter (as opposed to just a band member) I came to identify a lot with Billy Bragg. I just think he’s the coolest. I share a lot of his political beliefs, but I don’t sing about them like he does. Still, I like his style – a punk rock troubador who can play loud or soft and is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. I also really love Willie Nelson and think there are a lot of similarities between him and me, but on the surface we’re pretty different (in terms of genre and aesthetics).

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I guess it’s cliche to say my acoustic guitar, but that’s definitely it. It’s just the most versatile. You can play it by yourself or with others, and take it anywhere. That said, lately I’ve been really leaning on my ZVEX “Box of Rock” distortion pedal and my Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail reverb pedal.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
I guess it’s strange advice coming from me, because it’s not advice I’ve really heeded well myself – but my advice is to be great live. Putting on a well-rehearsed, perfectly executed, and fun to watch live show is the #1 thing that will get people to buy your CD, tell their friends about you, and feel like a fan. A great album is important, but the odds are slim that the people you want to hear it will get it in their hands. A great live show is the doorway to anyone’s heart.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
It’s my name. This project is me.   The album title is a reference to the lyrics in my song Two Bunnies, in which two bunnies carry Mama Bear’s soul away. There are lots of references to Heaven in the album, but I’m not religious. It’s more about thinking about where you’ve been and where you’re going, with the belief that there are brighter days ahead.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
“I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. It’s the ace up my sleeve at all sing-alongs, and ocassionally even at shows. When I play it, I think people assume I’m being ironic. I’m not – I truly love that song.

10Qs with Lady Zen

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Photo by Magdalena Niziol

Learn more about Lady Zen on her website or Facebook page.

Where were you born?
In a small village close to Porto Velho in Rhondonia, Brazil, South America. My genetics come from generations of the Amazonian Indians. My ancestors have roamed the land, for centuries, that is currently being deforested. My father was half African from Salvador, Bahia. Due to misfortune and poverty I was placed in an orphanage at 11 months old for a while before I was adopted by an American family in the 1970s. I grew up in Northwest Arkansas.

What brought you to Portland?
I had been dating an Osteopathic OBGYN for nearly a decade who was placed here in Portland for an internship with Maine Med. We came here with the intention of only being here for one year. I stayed. She did not.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
When I moved here initially I worked as a catering chef. Then I became a field organizer with Equality Maine for a few months on first Marriage Equality campaign that was overturned. One of my favorite and most long lasting jobs here in Portland was with OTTO pizza. I love those guys! And I am still addicted to that damn pizza! I am currently a full time grad student at USM Stonecoast MFA program and a marketing intern for the Portland’s Downtown District. Currently, I am composing and writing high end commissions and only making special private performances before I will be leaving for Amsterdam in August.

What was your most memorable gig?
This is a hard one… I guess it would have had to have been when I did my first ‘big’ gig here in Portland, a Clash, covering Aretha Franklin. But honestly; working and performing with the level of talent in this town, there has never been a gig I have regretted. Especially, because when it comes to being greeted by such loyal live music supporters–every show the best and keeps me coming back to the open arms of the stages here in Portland. I remember every gig fondly and every minute has been the most exciting and the most memorable. I do however really wish that ONE of the TWO times I have had opportunity to sing for President Obama would have worked out. Oh well, THREE is the charm, right?

What was your worst gig?
Oh gosh, dare I say. Sigh… ok, I suppose I could say this without mentioning names directly, as this could open a whole can of crap I don’t want open again. I have had only ONE unbelievably difficulty show in this town with a particular well-seasoned, ‘new’ venue owner, who embarrassed me beyond any resolve and continues to be a thorn in my paw. Unfortunately, I allowed it to happen twice, after swearing I would never work with this person again; I chose to give it another go after a warm invitation from the venue owner. But I found it worse than the time previous. Throughout the planning stages, the owner sent harassing emails and was verbally abusive while holding some personal information emotional hostage at the whim of their outbursts. The gig was micro-managed and details of the show were used to pit me against others involved with the show—that we managed to untangle easily because the musicians in this town know who to communicate with one another in professional manner. The owner actually grabbed my arm before heading I headed into the venue, just before getting on stage, and told me to get keep it together and not to tell anyone about what was happening behind the scenes or they would ruin me. I did the gig with a smile, with all pose and charm to the upmost professional behavior of Lady Zen. But inside I felt horrible deep to the core and unsafe. I was never compensated for my work, however I did received an email thanking me for my participation and that the owner said they were going to send some form of compensation to me for my co-operation. I have to date never received any such thing and I probably never will. But a Lady never tells, right? But this was absolutely worst gig I have ever had in this town. And it was the last.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Billie Holiday, Pablo Neruda, William Carlos Williams, Chaka Khan, Donnie Hathaway, Lavern Baker, Dakota Stanton, Aristotle, Picasso, The Coen Brothers. Gil Scott –Heron…oh, my, there are so many brilliant talents in this world that bringing me such wonder and spark my imagination and creativity. Some have no formal titles or recognition but none the less have influenced my work.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
One piece….hmm. Well I guess that would have to be my instrument. My Voice.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Oh honey, haters will hate. Stand your ground. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you are gonna go for it—go for it with all your might. All those who we creative are incredibly sensitive so remember we all act out at our most vulnerable. It will break your heart when things go wrong and things will go wrong, but be willing to have your heart broken. You are a resilient and beautiful being. You will find your audience. Everyone does if they work hard enough. NO one will ever be able to direct your art but you can surround yourself with other people who appreciate it and are genuine and gentle with constructive criticism. None of us ever really feel like we belong. Sometimes it is hard to stick with it. But you were born to do this…accept that you are a creative type.

What’s the origin behind your name?
Lady Zen? It is the middle part of my name: Al- ZEN-ira. I took this as an abbreviation of that name when I began DJ-in with years ago. I was DJ Miszen, cause I was what was ‘missing’ from the scene. Then someone said to me, “You are a Lady, you ain’t no Miss” and it stuck. Lady Zen has been around a lot longer than ‘Lady’ Gaga though! No mistaking that!

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Hahaha, ok well, I listen to just about every genera of music there is but occasionally I will binge on new wave 80s Electropop.

10Qs with Spencer Albee

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Spencer Albee is a former member of The Rustic Overtones and leader of the bands As Fast As, Rocktopus, Space Versus Speed, and Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia.  Though he previously helmed a solo project under the monicker The Popsicko, he’ll be releasing a solo project using his own name later this year.  Spencer is releasing previews of tracks via his Pledge Music page, where the project was successfully crowd-funded in the fall of last year.

Spencer Albee, photo by Martha Bunker
Spencer Albee, photo by Martha Bunker

Where were you born?
Wentworth Douglas Hospital, Dover, NH. I grew up in York, ME.

What keeps you in Portland?
I’ve always been a sucker for a hard luck case. I’ve been fortunate to have seen the majority of America and to have visited many of it’s finest cities. I even lived in the other Portland for a time before returning to Portland, ME. There’s something about the Maine sensibility that keeps me here. I think it’s Mainer’s unwillingness to suffer fools gladly and our lackluster reaction to grandstanding that makes us special. I also think Mainers have a lot of heart. I think it’s the constant state of potential that, as frustrating as it can be, keeps me interested in Portland. Plus there is nothing more beautiful than summer in Maine.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I promote events like my own original shows, Annual Beatles Night and Clash of the Titans. I also tend bar part time at Sonny’s.

What was your most memorable gig?
A few years ago, my former band AS FAST AS played their last “real” gig together opening for John Fogerty (of Creedence Clearwater Revival) on the Maine State Pier. Not only was the crowd incredibly gracious and kind, but after the show the local crew wouldn’t allow us to touch our gear. They carried all of our equipment off stage and packed it all up for us. It was the highest form of respect you could get from some of the hardest working people in the business. It really moved me.

What was your worst gig?
Same band. We were on a much deserved break after endless cross country touring. I was in my boxer shorts making a fish chowder (and trying to maintain a relationship back home) when I got the call that I would be flying out of Portland, OR the next morning to meet the fellas (having been torn from the pool side and driving from LA) in Albequerque, NM. We continued on towards Amarillo, TX where we were to “showcase” for Anderson Distributors who supplied music to the nation’s Wal Marts. As fate would have it, we hit black ice at 85 mph at 3:00 in the morning and went off the road. After being hassled by Texas’ finest, we waited in terror for AAA for 3 hours on the side of the road while tractor-trailers and cars whipped by on the now ice covered roads. Finally they arrived and towed us to our hotel where we quickly showered and headed to a business park somewhere in Amarillo. It’s now 8:00 in the morning, we have been traveling since 5:00 the previous day without sleep. We loaded in to a conference room and played our brand of indie pop acoustically for a 5 person panel of disinterested looking executives all of whom could easily have worked for a refrigerator parts company. Defeated, we were taken to a pancake house, fed, and then dropped off at our hotel to begin the process of repairing our van that had flown off the road. It was one of those moments where I said to myself, “this is not what I signed up for.” The only redeeming part of the trip was when we got to hang out with the local mechanics that got us back on the road. If you’re ever broken down in Amarillo, got see Sugar Bear’s. They’ll set you straight.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
It’s almost redundant for me to say Paul McCartney and The Beatles. With that out of the way I can list Jeff Lynne, The Kinks, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Beck, Tom Petty, David Bowie and Philip Glass and huge influences. To cite specific (non Beatle related) records I would choose “The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society”, “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, “Who’s Next”, “Modern Guilt”, “Full Moon Fever”, “OK Computer” and “Glassworks” as my favorites.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My 1976 Gibson J45/50 acoustic guitar. Even though I’m a keyboard player, that guitar and I have a great relationship.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Start back, unless you’re ready to struggle with poverty, frustration and multiple brushes with addiction and death. This line of work is not for the feint of heart. Also, please learn how to sing and play your instruments. The world is overrun by people who claim to be musicians and hide behind their lack of craftsmanship and discipline under the guise of being “AMAZING”. Barf. As Phil Hartman once said while impersonating Frank Sinatra “I’ve got chunks of guys like you in my stool.”

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
My parents chose it for me when I was born.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t have any musical guilty pleasures. I am a nerd and like what I like without guilt, shame, irony or apology. Movies however are a different story. Shitty Action/Adventure/Sci Fi movies. I know I should be watching Kubrick or Hitchcock, but sometimes “Deep Impact” or “The Day After Tomorrow” is just what the doctor ordered. It’s absolutely shameful, but I figure that otherwise I have a steady diet of great music and film, I just need some junk food once in a while.

10Qs with Spose

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Spose is a 26-year-old, Wells-based rapper whose single, “I’m Awesome,” went Gold, peaking at 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and 36 on the US Mainstream Top 40. Later this year he’ll release two new projects for free – the album “Peter Sparker,” and “Dankonia,” a mixtape set to Outkast instrumentals.  Both projects will be funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $28,000. Continue reading

10Qs with Ron Harrity of An Anderson, Honey Clouds, Peapod Recordings, and more!

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Ron Harrity is the owner/operator of the record label Peapod Recordings, and the recording studio Forest City.  He was also a member of the defunct bands Harpswell Sound, and Honey Clouds.  Harrity’s current band, An Anderson, opens for Phantom Buffalo’s CD release at SPACE Gallery on Friday, March 8, along  with Video Nasties.
Ron Harrity and Yeti
Ron Harrity and Yeti

 

Where were you born?
On an army base outside of Seoul, Korea.

What brought you to Portland/Maine?
My friends Nathan Halverson and Kate Adams were living in Lewiston because Kate was teaching at Bates. I was living in Oakland, missed the east coast but didn’t want to go back to Baltimore. They thought I’d like Portland, and couldn’t have been more right.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
Yes, art director at Kemp Goldberg Partners. I’ve always balanced visual and audio work.

What was your most memorable gig?
This is a hard question, Stephen. The Honey Clouds “Cover The Forest” CD release at Space was probably my favorite show with those guys. We covered .38 Special’s “Hold On Loosely” and I remember being pretty happy with the guitar solo afterwards.More recently An Anderson played The Waldo’s final (?) show at Poland St, which was also super fun mostly because they’re one of my favorite local bands and the few people who were there had braved a blizzard for it.

What was your worst gig?
They’re all kind of weird to me in their own way. I used to have terrible stage fright, so the days before would be sort of preoccupying, usually culminating with some kind of physical sickness right before the show. I like to think I’ve relaxed into the process a bit.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Although I don’t make music that sounds anything like his stuff, Dean Wareham and Galaxie 500 were a huge influence for me. Despite being sort of quiet and pretty, their records to me always felt kind of urgent to me. I walked past security backstage after a Luna set at the old 9:30 Club to have him sign his first solo 45. Both he and the band were gracious and unfazed at my fanboy stalking.

Other bands/musicians whose records I never (truly never) get tired of and can listen to every day include: The Verlaines, Bert Jansch, Anne Briggs, Big Star, US Maple, The Kinks, Bill Evans, Elmo Hope, Atlas Sound/Deerhunter, The Nation of Ulysses, etc..

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
Gear is gear I think. You can be as tweaky as you want or are allowed to be (and I’m certainly guilty) but when it comes down to it you can make great music using whatever. That said I love my Echoplex EP3, an old tape delay. I got it because of the crazy sounds on Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson Sessions. Also I like Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickups for most any guitar.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Be nice. I’m sure there are those that would argue this point, but I believe in the adage that you see the same people on the way up as on the way down. Or from side to side as the case may be. Also, relax and enjoy the process. Don’t let it become too much like work. Be open, playing with other musicians is always a compromise but you’ll come out of it with something you’d never be able to create on your own.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
An Anderson were invited to play at the Bunker/Tandem Christmas party but we didn’t have a name. We had a pretty big list going, and almost chose “Pants Mountain” but then Evan Parker said it sounded like a boner so we just used the name of the street we were playing on.

I named Peapod after the boat.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I truly listen to everything, completely guilt-free. If you mean categorically “Embarrassing” music I might enjoy, I’m on board with the yacht rock genre (especially Gerry Rafferty and the Michael McDonald related stuff). I also listen to 99.9 The Wolf a fair amount. And everyone knows about my love for Jazz 105.1. They call it our community jazz station, but I know it as my eternal quiet storm. Anita Baker, Sade, Gregory Abbott, Billy Ocean. The best car listening. Join the facebook fan page I setup.

10Qs with Leif Sherman Curtis/48 Hour Music Festival

Leif Sherman Curtis

Leif Sherman Curtis has been a member of Portland’s AoK Suicide Forest, The Coalsack in Crux, Moneycastasia, Olas, and more.  Leif is also the creator and organizer of Portland’s 48 Hour Music Festival.  For the event, local musicians from different bands and genres gather, toss their names into a proverbial hat, and five or six new bands are created.  After the bands are formed, the musicians write and rehearse all of the material to be performed at the festival and select a name.  Oh, and all of this happens over a 48 hour period!  Many acts choose to record their songs, which are released later in the year on the 48HMF Bandcamp page.  This year’s event happens on Saturday 2/23 at SPACE Gallery and features members of Endless Jags, Mouth Washington, Contrpossto, Sunset Hearts, ex-Whip Hands, Rural Ghosts, Forget Forget, and more.

Leif Sherman Curtis
Leif Sherman Curtis

10Qs

Where were you born?
Portland Maine!

What keeps you in Portland?
What can I say, I’m fond of purgatory.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m a bartender.

What was your most memorable gig?
Conifer live at Sacred and Profane, Peaks Island 2011. We played in a field next to one of the retired war forts: Battery Steele. The drums reflected perfectly off the outside cement walls creating the effect of another drummer playing with us. The sun was setting, and a giant bonfire was lit. A couple hundred people gathered around us to feel the wall of noise. The bushes behind us were swaying wildly in the wind. Sparrows would suddenly burst out of them and fill the twilight sky along with the floating cinders from the fire. It was like a spell was cast, and we were part of it… ask anyone that was there.

What was your worst gig?
Red Lion, Eureka California, AoK Suicide Forest tour 2010. I was egged by some redneck driving by in his pick up truck before the gig. I washed yolk out of my hair in the dirty bathroom sink and then jumped onstage to perform music to the bartender. Empty room.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Three Mile Pilot: Chief Assassin to the Sinister

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
1976 Fender Pro Reverb.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Listen to everything. Write your own music.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
‘The Coalsack in Crux’ is a dark nebula visible inside the Crux constellation.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Lee Hazlewood with Nancy Sinatra

48 Hour Music Festival 5 Poster by Kris Johnsen
48 Hour Music Festival 5 Poster by Kris Johnsen

Bonus Questions

How did you come up with this idea?
It started as a conversation with my friend Dave Camlin. It was one of those ‘what if’ hypothetical sort of conversations that I decided to actually bring to life. Dave, who is a professional filmmaker, ended up filming a full length documentary movie about the first festival.

What’s your favorite part of the festival?
Hearing that people continue to collaborate with one another after the festival is over.

What’s been the biggest surprise?
Tom Mahoney

How long do you anticipate this project continuing?
As long as people are interested in writing new songs and making new friends.

Any bands that are personal favorites from over the years?
Opera Jones (featuring Lady Zen, Sam James, and more), Sister Rita (Caleb Coulthard, Gary Meres, Casey McCurry), Ways of Man (Jesse Hautala, Chriss Sutherland, Zack Howard)… but there have really been so many amazing acts over the last four years. Listen for yourself: 48hourmusicfestival.bandcamp.com

10Qs with Tyler Jackson of Endless Jags & Foam Castles

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Tyler Jackson at Picnic, photo by Stephen Quirk
Tyler Jackson at Picnic, photo by Stephen Quirk

Tyler Jackson, has many things in common with Oscar Romero, most notably they’re both members of Foam Castles and Endless Jags.  Tyler leads Foam Castles, who are currently working on a new album, “Through That Door,” which is hoped to be released at the end of the summer.  The band is working with Chris Cambra of Teenarena Records to record and mix the album  who will also be releasing a vinyl version of Foam Castle’s “Bonanza” (Teenarena also will also have releases from Metal Feathers and Brenda and recently released a Daniel Johnston 10″).  Endless Jags is busy writing a full length followup their recent EP, which is slated to be recoded in Boston this March.

Where were you born?
Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine

What keeps you in Portland?
Portland is a good place to live. It looks great and feels great 75% of the time. Sort of a microcosm of a big big music city. If it’s a thing in the world, someone’s probably doing it here. Lots of really good and cool stuff, some pretty frustrating shit too. It can be a real bummer one day and super inspirational and exciting the next. Most everyone’s pretty nice, too, even if you’re into completely different stuff. Lots of artists and restaurants and all that good shit.”

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m a cashier at a grocery store at the moment.

What was your most memorable gig?
The Endless Jags CD release show a few weeks ago was probably the most successful show I’ve been a part of, attendance and fun-wise. The boat shows were great. Some really fun house parties. Some really bad ones too!

What was your worst gig?
At a house in Brunswick. Sorry everyone.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
It changes with time, but John Cale has influenced me the most over the past four years or so. Everything he does makes sense to me. Robert Pollard, Dan Bejar, Eno, Bowie, Dylan, Scott Walker.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
Guitar! It’s how I write songs and play rock music. I want a new one. Considering trading my Telecaster for a Stratocaster.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Recording matters more than anything. Write shit loads of songs and work on them all the time. I can’t really top Oscar’s advice.

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
“Just words we thought sounded good together. Ritu and I came up with it when the project started back in 2007. I think we were on a bus. Later I heard that masses of foam floating down a river are sometimes referred to as foam castles. Google alerts also informed me that a piece of an electronic drum set, the little block that connects the trigger to the head (I think), sometimes they’re called foam castles, or Devo hats. Coincidental, but kind of funny.  Endless Jags, same deal, words that sounded good together to us. Choosing a name with 5 other people is a difficult thing to do, it’s a miracle we have one at all.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t get embarrassed about taste. Nobody should care! You like what you like. Even if it sucks, you still might like it. Mostly I’ll just surprise myself. Been into the Eagles a little bit lately after hating them passionately my entire life. Cells regenerating or something, doesn’t matter.

Ch ch ch changes

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We’ve revamped Factory Portland a bit, the biggest of which is our new look!  We wanted the 10Qs series and information about projects to be a highlighted a bit more.  Our musician database and video directories will also be getting a bit of an overhaul and moving to their own site. We’re also looking into what other tools might be useful to area musicians. We hope to have back those items back online soon, so stay tuned.

A Severe Joy/Factory Portland Collaboration

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Starting in January 2012, A Severe Joy released his first in a series of ten mono singles.  The sleeves were designed by our very own Stephen Quirk.  The format for the singles is a bit unique… each 10″ disc is made from plexi-glass and lathe cut by Various Artists Records in Kittery, Maine.  The project presented a challenge since the singles would be released once every one to two months and then compiled into two 10-track CDs with stereo versions of the songs.  As of this entry, five singles have been released,  as has the first of the two albums (Cinematesque Part I).  The process started by coming up with an initial design and then altering it slightly over time using images inspired by the images from the songs.  The result is akin to wallpaper or wrapping paper with machines, helicopters, hand grenades, summertime imagery, and UFOs.  Keep an eye out for the next five singles, which will be released over throughout 2013.

Local Music Karaoke at Portland Music Foundation Event

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Do you like Maine music AND karaoke? Factory Portland will be offering Maine Music Karaoke as part of The Portland Music Foundation’s Strike A Chord: A Music Discovery Funhouse.  Other booths will feature an instrument petting zoo, design your own screen-printed poster, a local music listening station, and a photobooth.  The event is free event and runs 12 to 6pm on Saturday, January 26th.

Sontiago, Spouse, A Severe Joy, Foam Castles, and Sunset Hearts have graciously donated instrumental versions of some of their tracks for karaoke.  A Severe Joy has even provided a couple covers of classic karaoke songs.  Check back soon, we may have a couple more tracks to announce!

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10Qs with Jeff Badger, writer of a Christmas classic!

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Jeff Badger, photo by Nathan Eldridge
Jeff Badger, photo by Nathan Eldridge

Jeff Badger is a musician and visual artist whose musical projects can be found under the banner of Flounder Productions. Before relocating to Maine, he was a member of New York’s Custardpaws & Mr. Freezy. In addition to performing under his own name, he also led the Maine band The Hot Dogs, later known as Transmission Drop. In 2004, The Hot Dogs released an EP containing the holiday song “Holy Shit, It’s Christmas!” (and yes, there’s a clean version, too).

 

 

Where were you born?
Miami, Florida. You can probably tell by the strong Latin influence in my music. Seriously though, my family left Miami when I was a baby and we moved to The Netherlands. After that we moved around a few more times and landed in Connecticut and I have mostly stayed in the Northeast since then. At this point I’ve actually lived in Maine longer than I’ve lived anywhere.

What brought you to Portland/Maine?
My wife Lydia and I moved here from New York City in 2000, just for the hell of it.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I am a visual artist and art professor.

What was your most memorable gig?
I’ve got two:

In 1999 I played a record release party at CBGB’s with my band Custardpaws & Mr. Freezy. So many of the bands I love came through the CBGB’s scene in the 70s, so playing there was the fulfillment of a dream. I was glad I was able to play the club before it closed. It really was a shithole.

In 2006 The Hot Dogs got to open for The Figgs and Mike Viola at The Big Easy. When Adam Bean, Tom Abercrombie, and I started The Hot Dogs we were inspired by a Figgs show we had recently seen at The Skinny, so that was a great night.

What was your worst gig?
Probably a sparsely-attended show that ended with an argument outside the club that almost resulted in a drunken fistfight between my band and the club booking agent. But that is all water under the bridge and seems pretty ridiculous now.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
I really do love all kinds of music, but my biggest influences for songwriting are probably The Kinks, Pavement, Talking Heads, Tom Waits, and 60s/70s ska and reggae. Two exciting contemporary bands I’ve been listening too are Local Natives and Off!. That said, I think one of the best ways to get inspiration is to cross genres — visual art inspired by music, music inspired by books, movies about musicians — many of my songs have been inspired by books or movies.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I’m not a gear-head. I just play whatever I have around. If had to choose just one thing, I’d keep my piano.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
My first piano teacher taught me solfège and ear training, and I think that is what allowed me to teach myself guitar and to pick out songs by ear. It makes more sense to me than notation or tablature, which seems more like math. Playing by ear made learning music intuitive and fun — and if it is not fun, then you’ll probably quit. Beyond that, just be sincere and ambitious.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
All I can say about this topic is that naming a band is one of the most miserable parts of being in a band. I hate every band name I’ve ever had and I regret them all.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures — I’m not into the idea of enjoying art ironically. If you find yourself enjoying something that is out-of-fashion, over-produced, super-poppy, or somehow antithetical to what you think your tastes are or ought to be, than you should acknowledge that there is something in that piece of music that you genuinely like. If you can figure out what the hidden element is, than you can expand your musical vocabulary and your songs will benefit from it.

10Qs with Doug Cowan of Welterweight

Bullyclub
cowan
Doug Cowan performing during the Factory Portland launch event with Bullyclub at Space in 2010 // photo by Stephen Quirk

Doug Cowan is a mainstay of New England’s music scene.  Since the early 90s, he’s served as the leader of Pluck Theatre and Bullyclub, and as a member of The Townies and Between Dreams.  His current project is Welterweight, which switches between a solo and group effort.  He performs at Blue on Friday, December 21, 2012 and is preparing to release a Bullyclub compilation with remixes and live tracks.

Where were you born?
This is a problem. I was delivered in some hospital in New London, CT and moved soon after to Maine. However, I consider myself, and have been referred to as, a Mainer. So I will say this… cord wasn’t cut ‘til Kittery.

What brought you to Portland?
I started my first “out of the garage” band, Pluck Theatre, in Orono after college. We soon grew out of the Ram’s Horn and the Oronoka, and wanted to go big time, so that’s Portland, right?  We played Boston a lot, and thought about moving there, but we couldn’t get past the loving aura of the sound guys in the city.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
A coordinator of clinical counseling services at USM. Yup, I’m that old…

What was your most memorable gig?
It was a tough one. Bullyclub was booked to do a show at The Paradise in Boston for a benefit to help with some medical costs for our friend Steve Loignon, who has since passed. As the date approached, a chest cold turned into bronchitis turned into pneumonia, but I was determined to do the show (it was the freakin’ Paradise…they have 3 guys to do the lights alone, and bottled beer in the green room…and a green room! And we loved Steve). I drove straight up from Maine Med, set up for sound check, went to the mic to say the touching words “check one two,” and nothing. Well, maybe a whisper. Panic…first time I had lost my voice before a set. The sound guy (a nice one) cranked the vocal mic ‘til feedback, and we finished so they could open the doors. Then it was a blur. Encouraging words from Johnny Nunan (drummer), and here comes José Ayerve (guitar) throwing whiskey down my gullet like some wild west remedy. When it came our set time, we played. I whisper-sang some songs. José valiantly mumbled another. My friend Dave Shorey came up and sang the song Harrydean… it wasn’t on the setlist, but he knew it. We said “thank you,” got off stage, and drank more whiskey and beer from bottles. People said nice job, and I slept in the car all the way home with my friend Deb Valenti at the wheel.

What was your worst gig?
The ones where I worried about who wasn’t there…

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Raymond Carver. Whoa, that got heavy…

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
My 60’s Gibson B-15 student acoustic guitar, “loaned” to me by my brother who took it as payment for a bar tab from his establishment in Seattle, Murphy’s Pub. This thing is made from questionable tone-woods, has nearly-frozen machine head tuners, and a neck as thin as a chopstick. My fat fingers can’t form a proper, unadulterated chord on it, and the projection is that of a stifled yawn. In my infinite wisdom, I drilled a hole in this antique to put in a cheap pickup, bringing its street value to that of a three shot latte, and tying us at the hip ‘til one of us needs a neck reset. It does sound like wood, though…

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Pay attention…to your preparation and practice, so that you can enjoy your time on stage, and you won’t suck. I have formulas…you’ll only play as well as your third best practice, so raise your bar, and every gig is worth 5 practices, so gig accordingly. At least one member of your band will miss practice, so hum their parts so as to make up for their absence.

Pay attention to your bandmates…there’s a good chance that they’re leaving behind an angry partner or a good TV program to make it to rehearsal. You’re a gang. You’ll fight…and that friction will produce energy that can drive you, and your music, even though you think you hate it.

Pay attention to your audience. This doesn’t mean Kowtow, or giving them what they always want and expect (unless you have a hit…then play it third and last in your set). It means that you expect a lot from them. Write good songs. If lyrics aren’t your thing, then write interesting, hooky music, while using Husker Du’s “New Day Rising” lyrical approach…”New day rising/ New day rising/ New day rising” ad infinitum. If you’re musically bereft (like me), pick a chord, any chord, and write words that are interesting to you. ‘Cause no one listens to the words anyway.

Pay attention to moments. Trust me, you’ll never play a set, song, or even chorus perfectly. So listen for that quick moment, the one you might be anticipating or that’s brand new, the one that makes you smile/cry. I’ve been in practices where I’ve teared up, even way after the fart joke or chipping a tooth on the mic.

Please note… I have neglected to pay attention many times.

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
Welterweight? Just not quite heavy enough…

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
You can’t roller-skate in a buffalo herd,” okay?

10Qs with Rebecca Minnick of The Barn Swallows and An Evening With

rebecca minnick
rebecca minnick
Rebecca Minnick at a fundraiser she organized for Kentucky Tornado victims in 2012.  Photo by Stephen Quirk of Factory Portland

Rebecca Minnick has been performing in Portland for about ten years. She helped found the Barn Swallows, a bluegrass band in which she plays guitar and sings, in early 2011, as a recording project for the RPM challenge. Since then the Barn Swallows have been performing all over Greater Portland at clubs, festivals, and private events. Rebecca also plays guitar, keys, and backing vocals in An Evening With, who are currently recording an album. The Barn Swallows are playing at Blue on Jan. 10, kicking off a monthly event featuring a set of their music, followed by a bluegrass jam (2nd Thursdays, 7 PM).

The Barn Swallows on Facebook
An Evening With on Facebook

Where were you born?
Louisville, Kentucky

What brought you to Portland/Maine?
I came here many years ago for a seasonal job. I fell in love with the coast, and kept coming back. Eventually I stayed.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I teach PE and direct an afterschool program.

What was your most memorable gig?
Certainly the gigs with the big, wonderful crowds stand out, and the Derby Day parties, but for me, the most memorable things are the moments of connection, when the music moves someone. I’ve sung at weddings and funerals. It’s beautiful that my music is bringing comfort to people in times of great sadness, and yet, it’s pretty intense. I once was told, after someone heard me on the radio, that he heard me singing and knew everything was going to be all right. And there was the time I was busking at the Farmer’s Market and a homeless man put a dollar in my guitar case. He said our music brightened his week.

What was your worst gig?
I don’t want to call out specific venues, but definitely the one where the sound guy didn’t show up so they had the door guy run the sound board. The sound was horrific and my mic was falling over and he was too busy on his iPhone (presumably Googling how to run a sound board) to notice. I was almost on my knees singing into the mic by the end of the song. I also had a pizza peel fall on me while I was playing once. Glamorous! Music is so glamorous!

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
The musicians who have most shaped what I am doing are Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Her songwriting, her voice, the harmonies, Dave’s picking, everything is so simple and organic, and yet spot on perfect when put all together. Her songs sound like they were written 60 years ago, and her imagery–I just get so frustrated that I didn’t write it. I remember the first time I heard her on NHPR and thought, “This is the music I have been looking for.” I’ve always been very drawn to Peter Buck’s jangly guitar sound of early R.E.M..

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
Without a doubt my acoustic guitar. I got it a little over a year ago, it’s a beautiful D-18 style made by local luthier Scott Conley. I’ve known Scott for 15 years, and I’ve wanted one of his guitars for just as long. It fits my body so perfectly that I really don’t ever want to play anything else. It has such lovely tone.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
You just gotta do it. I don’t really love playing solo, and for years was trying to find a band. I just finally started playing in coffee shops by myself, and it was a little lonesome, but I guess it had to happen. Surround yourself with musicians. And don’t listen to anyone, ever, who tells you that you shouldn’t or can’t.

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
Much of the music I write and the songs I am moved by are about leaving and missing Kentucky (I mean, that’s like half of bluegrass). Birds obviously symbolize migration and returning home, but I had been reading that many cultures use swallows in particular to symbolize this. Well, I’m a nature nerd, and barn swallows are among my favorite birds. Plus, I thought it had a nice ring. As far as An Evening With, I am the greenest member of that band, so you’d have to ask Jeremy.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Air Supply. I got rid of the greatest hits CD once in an attempt to seem cool for a dude, and man do I regret it. I shoulda kept the CD.

10Qs with Will Claflin of Dear Leader

dearleader2
Dear Leader
From Left: Paul Buckley, John Sulkow, Aaron Perrino and Will Claflin (Not Pictured Brian Charles) // Photo Credit: Aaron Perrino.

Will Claflin, a Maine resident, is guitarist for Boston’s Dear Leader.  The band is the brainchild of former The Sheila Divine frontman Aaron Perrino.  They’ll be performing at Empire Dine & Dance in Portland on Thursday December 6th, 2012 with The Chums.  [Buy Tix]

Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp
Website

Where were you born?
Boston MA, but I actually grew up summers in Biddeford Pool, Maine.

What brought you to Maine?
My Grandfather. My sisters and I own our family house in Biddeford Pool. The way of life, the food in Portland, and the Maine seas [have kept me here].

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
Jon (the bassist) has a company called PROD4 EVER, a web company in Boston. We make sites for Paul McCartney, The Beastie Boys, Bob Dylan, Alicia Keys, Wilco etc.. I’m the project manager and run video production and audio editing.

What was your most memorable gig?
A few years back we were signed to a Belgian record label. We opened for Iggy pop at an amazing outdoor festival and played in front of 10,000 cheering Belgians. The night before, they had lost our luggage and we played with borrowed gear in a coffee shop – we were exhausted and drunk and we destroyed the place just playing on fumes. Those two gigs back-to-back count as one gig in my mind as they felt like they were hours and worlds apart.

What was your worst gig?
Probably a gig in Northampton… I had the flu and it was the only gig where I could remember there being a very few people there. We were also doing a few new tunes and it just kind of fell flat. I hope the gig this Thursday at Empire doesn’t parallel that one!

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant. So much of my picking style is ripped off directly from Peter Buck. It just hit me at a very influential time when I was 14 and playing guitar non-stop.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I have a pink delay pedal that Paul Kolderie (Pixies, Hole, Radiohead, Bosstones) introduced me to. It’s an Ibanez AD9. LOVE this thing.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Don’t do it. Play constantly, and if it isn’t working out by 25, get a day job.

What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
It’s what North Koreans call the recently departed Kim Jong Ill, you would have to ask Aaron the meaning behind the rest. I always assumed there were political undertones to it.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
It certainly isn’t Coldplay. I’ve been trying to get into the super pop stuff. I feel so out of touch with it that I started listening to Kiss 108FM in the car. i honestly still couldn’t pick Nicki Minaj out of a police line up but… give me a few weeks.

 

10Qs with Oscar Romero of Endless Jags, Foam Castles, brenda, & Gully (and Astronautalis, too!)

oscar2c
Oscar Romero in 2009, performing with Gully at Space Gallery in Portland.

Oscar Romero gets around.  He plays bass in Foam Castles and sings/plays guitar in Endless Jags and brenda.  Previously he lead the band Gully and was part of the 2009 48 Hour Music Festival.  He’s currently providing backing vocals and guitar for Astronautalis on his tour throughout the U.S., Canada, and Russia (see video below). You can download Endless Jags‘ latest EP for free from Bandcamp.

Where were you born?
Elizabeth NJ! In a hospital which was torn down in the 90s.

What brought you to Portland?
My mother moved here for a guy.  I ran into him at the liquor store on Commercial Street.  If he’s reading, Mark Fairbanks: thank you for teaching me to put tuna and miracle whip together, and I’m sorry i stole your cool t shirts.  I was 13.  Sorry brah.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m a direct support professional for people with developmental disabilities when I’m not touring with Astronautalis.  They are incredible and inspiring.

What was your most memorable gig?
Tough one.  Gully pretty much broke up on stage at Geno’s once, I fell into the drum set.  There have been many triumphs on tour and playing with all the projects I’ve been a part of, but the time Gully induced a seizure on someone at empire might take the cake.

What was your worst gig?
Most Gully performances at Geno’s Rock Club… which is nobody’s fault but ours.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Rod Stewart inspires me to sing.  I grew up on NYC FM classic rock, punk, hip hop, and dumb hardcore.  Wilco was the jam for a few years, but I don’t really think there is one artist or album in particular.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
A guitar.  I’ve gone through many so I’m not a gear head anymore.  My dream guitar is an Ibanez 7 string being played through a Peavey Bandit 112 amp.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Practice a lot, record all of it, acknowledge your peers and attempt to be better than them, don’t get butt-hurt that nobody went to your cd release show.  If you live in Portland, make sure you don’t put too much effort in being some sort of local star because all this town REALLY wants is cover bands.  Sorry kids, maybe my music just blows but I’ve seen more people at Rush vs. Death Cab or whatever at Empire.  That’s where the money is, though… in fact, get in that scene, cus at least you’ll have a paycheck here and there.  Make the art you want, have fun, travel, do drugs.  I mean that – not even trying to sound cool.

What’s the origin behind the name Endless Jags?
I liked the word jags, reminds me of a gang, or when someone has an emotional jag, like a “crying jag” for instance, and i think Tyler (Jackson) said endless, ripping off some other local thing he heard or read… together: Endless Jags. It’s very pretty to me.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Q97.9 ? 99.9 The Wolf?

 

Here’s Oscar playing guitar with Astronautilus on Russia TV earlier this month:

*Please note, Factory Portland does not necessarily condone all parts of this interview.  For example, only some Rod Stewart is acceptable and Wilco is still our jam.  Please use your own judgement on the rest. 

10Qs with Sontiago

Santiago performing in 2010 at Hog Farm Annex (now known as The Oak + The Ax) in Biddeford, ME
Sontiago performing in 2010 at Hog Farm Annex (now known as The Oak + The Ax) in Biddeford, ME // Photo by Stephen Quirk of Factory Portland

Sontiago (aka Sonya Tomlinson) has been performing in Maine since 2001, after relocating to the state in 1999.  Her debut album “Abuse My Adoration” was released in 2004 and her sophomore release “Steel Yourself” would lead to a number six spot on the CMJ hip-hop charts, URB’s Next 100 list, and on the pages of Bust Magazine.  The video for her new single ‘Muscle Car’, which was directed by David Meiklejohn of Portland’s Budget Fabulous Films, features a cast of Portland regulars.

Santiago on Facebook
Endemik (label) on Bandcamp 

Where were you born? 
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

What brought you to Portland? 
My big sister.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I am the Grants and Outreach Manager at the Maine Women’s Fund and I am on the event staff at Space Gallery.

What was your most memorable gig?
Playing in the chapel at Long Creek Detention Center for incarcerated youth or opening for Atmosphere in 2001 at the Skinny.

What was your worst gig?
The one in my dream the other night where I played a show at Buckdancer’s Choice that I forgot I committed to and showed up unprepared and unrehearsed for and forgot all my words. It woke me up with anxiety.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
Not their recent stuff as much, but I would have to say overall, Atmosphere. At the time I got into Atmosphere I was really heavy into making music and Slug’s content and delivery and Ant’s production were ideal.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
Boss digital 8-track and a microphone.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Commit.

What’s the origin behind your name?
I was in a group in North Carolina and my bandmate Anthony came up with it. It’s a hybrid of an abbreviation of my first name and first initial of my last name.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I have the hots for Adam Levine of Maroon 5- does that count?

10Qs with Casey McCurry of Sunset Hearts

Casey McCurry of Sunset Hearts at KahBang 2012.  Photo by Stephen Quirk/Factory Portland
Photo of Casey McCurry
Casey McCurry of Sunset Hearts at KahBang 2012. Photo by Stephen Quirk/Factory Portland

Sunset Hearts formed after performing as Talking Heads at a Clash of the Titans event and features a number of former members of Portland’s Satellite Lot. “Haunted Clouds,” their debut album, was released in the fall of 2011 and the EP “Deco Tech” in the summer of 2012.  A new EP is in the works and slated to be released this fall.  The band will also be performing throughout the remainder of 2012 and are working on several music videos.

Sunset Hearts Online:

Questions:

Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born here in elegant, sunlit Portland.

Q: Why did you stay in Portland/Maine?
A: My attention and daydreams have often strayed from Portland, but this is where my body has remained. I like it here! It’s a tiny village with sea breezes, and after a thirty-minute walk you abruptly find yourself in Twin Peaks.

Q: Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
No, I’m a student right now. Which pleasantly fills my time. And it helps me temper my ruinous flailings in the music world. It’s about to end, though… I’ll go back to pouring espresso and writing lyrics on the clock.

Q: What was your most memorable gig?
A: I suppose it’s a tie between the recent Hot August Night on a Boat show and one of our first shows, at the defunct DIY venue Apohadion. At the boat show we were able to play just as the sun was setting… the colors were beautiful, and strange. Though the sound wasn’t that great, and the motion of the boat really hurt some of our attempts at maintaining solid rhythm, it was pretty magical! The other show I mentioned was just a great stars-aligning kind of moment. I have a strong revulsion for astrology, but something kind of bewildering happened that night. It was, I believe, our second show ever, and tons and tons of people showed up to this little DIY art space. The PA system was rudimentary, but the shape of the room, and how it was filled with people, somehow soaked up all the bad sound and left only the sweet spots. Now that I think of it, all of our favorite shows have been at DIY spaces that are packed with people. It’s a trend.

Q: What was your worst gig?
A: Hmm, I’ve got to choose my words carefully I guess. I guess I can say that the worst gig we played was a benefit last year that kind of spiraled out of control. But that doesn’t count, I suppose, because we never ended up actually performing. I’ll let that one sit. It’s a strange thing to be asked about because you find yourself within the tempest of dramatic booking scenarios if you openly criticize a venue or their staff. There a couple that stand out, but really I should slink away from this question.

Q: What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
A: Can I say it’s a four-way stalemate? “Songs of Love and Hate” by Leonard Cohen for lyrics, “Blade Runner” by Vangelis for texture, “Rhythm of the Saints” by Paul Simon for melody and “Daydream Nation” by Sonic Youth for energy. Is that a cop out? Hmm.  And if you make me pin the ribbon on just one artist, the winner would be Morrissey. He makes all the others look drab.

Q: What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
A: Max Heinz (drummer for Sunset Hearts)? Hmm. I’m a closet gear guy, I don’t like to talk about it that much. For live shows, I have a really over-the-top-expensive vocal processor that I use for reverb and delay. It’s so expensive that if I told you how much it cost it would be majorly embarrassing. Maybe I can say my mid-90’s Japanese-issued Fender Jaguar. It’s better than any American Jaguar, indestructible, built of the heaviest materials… and I don’t like the sound of any other guitar. I’ve had it since I was sixteen and it’s been on every recording I’ve ever made. Things I’ve recently picked up that are inspiring me most right now are a Roland Juno 60 and a Nord Wave synth.

Q: Any advice for a musician starting out?
Am I qualified to dispense advice? Don’t play a show just because your parents told you that the Beatles played in Hamburg every night of the week and “that’s how they got good.” That’s not necessarily true, and it doesn’t have to be true for you. Only play shows that are curated properly, with lineups that your fledgling audience will actually want to see. Start creating relationships and try to con venues into letting you make every show an event. If they don’t bite, don’t take the show. Make every show a lofty ambition. Don’t troll bands you’re friends with by leaving the venue with all your friends after your set. You just ruined their night. Next time you play with them they will blow you off the stage and split. Don’t troll your audience by making them vote for you in an online poll (which are essentially elaborate click-jacking schemes and matter little to whatever extant remains of an industry endure in 2012).

Maybe this is all bad advice. I’m horrible about this stuff. Your art is a brand, whether you’re a country band making inroads on the corporate luncheon circuit or you’re a hip hop collective that met at an Occupy rally… Before every band decision you make, ask yourself, “does this threaten the brand?” No one is too cool to do this I think. You can bet your ass this is how all aesthetically successful bands operate. It’s serious. If you play a show at an airport, your meager empire could crumble. But music is all a con. Just have fun and try to write good lyrics, right?

Q: What’s the origin behind your name/band name?
A: I wanted a name that kind of conjured the feeling of last chances. Being away from the process of writing albums for awhile made me realize that I would be happy to give it one more shot, and so the band decided that having a sappy sounding name like Sunset Hearts could be appropriate. I ended up not liking the name much because the music is a lot more experimental and aggressive than I would have initially guessed… so it doesn’t seem to fit as much. But I’m overjoyed that we found something symmetrical. Makes designing posters so much easier, you know.

Q: What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
A: Darkthrone’s “A Blaze in the Northern Sky.” “Grafitti Bridge.” “Failure,” by Swans, because I feel guilty as fuck every time I put it on. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” the greatest pop single ever released. “The Winner Takes it All,” by ABBA. I don’t know. “Still Pimpin’ (on a Bitch),” by David Banner. John Denver’s “The Eagle and the Hawk.” The new Beach House and Frank Ocean records… because every time I throw them on, whomever I’m with is probably thinking to themselves, “AGAIN?” And that makes me feel guilty.

10Qs with BRZOWSKI

Brozowski
Brozowski
Brozowski

 

A New England fixture and polarizing national figure of underground hiphop, BRZOWSKI is in post-production for his third compilation of rare/out-of-print tracks entitled Blooddrive Vol. 3, due out on Milled Pavement Records this October. June saw the US release of his hyper-political collaboration w/ Monsieur Sai -” Songs For Marty”. Milled Pavement Records celebrates their 50th release at Space Gallery in Portland, ME on Aug. 17, after which BRZOWSKI will take to the road (again) supporting erstwhile Mainer Sole for a brief east coast jaunt. In addition to rapping and performing,  BRZOWSKI has been promoting, spreading, and supporting Maine music since 2001. You can check him out at:

Questions:

Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Providence, RI.

Q: What brought you to Portland?
A: I initially came to Portland as a student to finish out a degree in Painting/Art History in 2001, and have only left (Portland) to tour and travel since.

Q: Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
A: I have several hustles going at all times to make ends meet. I work at 2 major cultural institutions in Portland, both of which I love, and I’ll leave it at that. My musician persona, my visual artist identity, and my “normal-guy-paying-bills” are all separate entities, and I vastly prefer it that way. I seldom speak of one in the context/surroundings of another.

Q: What’s the origin behind your name?
A: My grandmother was a professional wrestler many years ago, and her stage name was “Bobo Brzozowski” in homage to her future husband. She was always vastly supportive of my involvement in the arts, and a few years after she passed, i took the handle of my own, subtracting a couple letters to make my name more easily pronounced for non-Polish folks. It has still been screwed up, misprinted, mispronounced, and mangled in every way imaginable over the past 13 years. BRZOWSKI: “Brzzzz-owww-skeee”.

Q: What was your most memorable gig and why?
A: Easy. The most memorable gig was in December of 2009 on my first European tour with Moshe. We played in a stone barn in the south of France in what was a squatter/punk-rocker occupied functional farm. A few hundred people showed up and essentially raged out… and the dozen or so dogs that lived on the farm kept running across the makeshift stage. Old folks, little kids strapped to their parents paramilitary jackets, ancient plumbing, amazing organic food. Rowdy crowd. Dirty, and beautiful.

Q: What was your worst gig and why?
A: I remember H.W., Jesse Dangerously and I took some heavy hits on one particular Canadian tour in 2010. Never underestimated the size of Canadian provinces…yikes. HW was the only dude with a license, so he drove for 40 hours straight (with a 3 hour nap in a gravel pit off a 2-lane highway), only to arrive at a show in Alberta where it was apparently underpromoted and sparsely attended. This also happened to be a sparsely attended, under-promoted show that had only offered to pay us a door-deal percentage. One of the openers then proceeded to say over the PA that if his friends present had better things to do they should leave, and that he was going to do so after his set. It was all Jesse could do to keep HW and I from having a talk with this lil tadpole in the parking lot. After that much uncomfortable travel and stress, I was at breaking point. There are a million similar war-stories, that one just happened to rise to memory.

Q: What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician? 

A: Type O Negative’s 1993 album Bloody Kisses changed everything for me. I first heard it in 1994 or 1995, and it really appealed to my varied tastes. Big, doomy guitar and bass, saccharine acoustic passages, dramatic and melodic vocals, melancholic lyrics with a healthy dose of subtle humor and self-deprecation. I was intrigued that a nine minute song about sex and death could hold my rapt attention after hundreds of spins. It set the blueprint for the kind of “hiphop” music I wanted to make, as there was (and truthfully IS) no real equivalent extant in sample+lyric-based music.

Q: What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
A: Guilty pleasures..hmm. I’m not really into “guilt”, per se. I like a lot of odd things. I really like alot of the Pop-Rap radio stations in California, and listen to them whenever I’m out there. And I listen to outlaw country almost exclusively when in my domestic enclosure.

Q: What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
A: A good live mic. My baby is a SHURE SM 57 with a 58’s globe on top… had it for years… and you can record demos of vocals or guitar in a pinch with it as well.

Q: Any advice for a musician starting out?
A: Do everything yourself, until you can afford not to. The music business is a long, slow burn over the course of a career, especially if you are presenting something radically different or complex to digest. Don’t rush, unless you want to be a pop sensation… in that case you had better make a splash before age 25, or the mainstream industry won’t want you. Know your audience, and always please them second.

Congrats to the Dirty Heads/Matisyahu ticket winner!

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We’ve selected the winners of the Dirty Heads + Matisyahu at The State Theatre giveaway…

1st Prize Winner of two tickets to see Dirty Heads and Matisyahu and an autographed copy of Dirty Heads Cabin by the Sea:

“My wife runs a daycare out of our house with 12 screaming kids and both of us working 2 jobs we need to escape!”

–Seth A., Turner, ME

2nd Prize winner of an autographed copy of Dirty Heads Cabin by the Sea:

“My 17 year old son flies in from Southern California on Tuesday, please make me the coolest dad on the planet by surprising him with our first show together!”

–Paul B., Portland, ME

Tickets are still available online and in person at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Dirty Heads + Matisyahu Ticket Giveaway

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Factory Portland is giving away tickets to see Moon Taxi, Dirty Heads + Matisyahu at the State Theatre on Wednesday, July 25th.  First prize winners will receive two tickets to the show and an autographed copy of Dirty Heads’ new album, Cabin by the Sea.  Second prize winners will receive an autographed copy of the album.

To enter:

1) “Like” Factory Portland on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

2) Email contests@factoryportland.com and tell us in one sentence why YOU should win the tickets to attend the show!  Along with your answer, please include your name, telephone number, and mailing address.* Entries must be received by Sunday, July 22nd at midnight.

The two winning answers will be published on factoryportland.com on July 23rd by 5pm, along with your first name and last initial, and the winners will be contacted directly by email.  Winners must contact Factory Portland by Tuesday, July 24th at 6pm to claim their prize, or another winner will be selected.  Must have valid ID to claim tickets.

*We will only use this contact information to contact you if you’ve won and for mailing the CD.

2011 Recap + Looking ahead

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2011 was a year filled with projects and collaborations with several Maine artists…

Earlier this year, we added the Maine music video page to the website.  There are currently 114 videos spotlighting the amazing talent of Maine’s music scene.

We created a “Music from the State of Maine” group on Soundcloud, which is open for any Maine artist to submit their work.

We designed the packaging layout for The Cool, a cover band comprised of adults with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges from Momentum.  The cover artwork was designed by one of the band members, recorded, mixed and mastered by Shaun Curran at Napoleon Complex of  Somerville, MA and organized by Oscar Romero (Gully, Foam Castles, Endless Jags).  You can learn more on their Bandcamp page.

We have worked extensively with José Ayerve (Spouse, Bullyclub) on his latest project, A Severe Joy.  This new material moves away from his normal guitar-driven, 80s influenced rock and focuses on something closer to indie electronic pop.  Along with this new sound, he wanted a new look, which includes masks and lights in his live shows. To accentuate this idea, we tried to be a bit experimental with the packaging for the debut album.  We used vellum letter envelopes, a single folded sheet of paper and writing done in his own hand. We also collaborated with [dog]+[pony] on a video for his song ‘Catapult.’

As for 2012…

A Severe Joy plexi-disc No. 1
A Severe Joy plexi-disc No. 1

We have begun work on a series of 10 limited edition A Severe Joy plexi-disc releases.  The project presented some unique challenges, including a short turnaround time to complete the concept and design, a unique 8.5 inch size and setting the look and tone for the other nine releases.  The first one is available for pre-order from Bandcamp.

A full aseverejoy.com website is nearly complets, and will be going live soon.

Etheria Sparrow’s debut “Journey to Etheria” will be released later this year and features another Factory Portland designed album cover.

Stephen served on the nomination committee for the New England Music Awards, listening to the music of 150+ area musicians over a couple of weeks and submitting ranked choices.  The awards will be presented March 9, 2012 at Hard Rock Café Boston and feature performances from Ron Noyes Band, Jen Kearney, Frank Viele and The Manhatten Project, Mission Hill, and Twin Berlin.

Lastly, our merch shop launched at the beginning of  2012 and features items from A Severe Joy, Spouse, Bullyclub, and Factory Portland.  We’ll announce any deals or new items on Facebook and Twitter.  Send us your thoughts on additional items you’d like to see added to the store.

Thanks for following our progress as we continue to assist artists with their contributions to the Maine music scene. We’re looking forward to an exciting 2012!

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper on BreakThru Radio

Photo: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (2009)

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, who is playing Brooklyn Vegan’s SXSW show this evening, also has a new video from a performance on BreakThru Radio.

Best of luck to Aly with her perfomance – we know you’ll bowl them over.

Portland’s Marie Stella also paid a visit to BreakThru Radio.  Not only did they play some music, they had a little chat as well…

This is a bit serendipitous as I first saw both bands at the same dimly-lit Dooryard show in December 2008.

 

You can find the Lady Lamb video, and many, many more over on our video page.  Thanks to BreakThru Radio for bringing the video to our attention!

NEW FEATURE: Maine Music videos on Factory Portland

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video2Factory Portland is pleased to announce the addition of a new resource on factoryportland.com.  Last month, Portland Music Foundation held a training session entitled “Making Music Videos on a Budget” (excellent job on the new website, btw).  The panel included Krister Rollins and Nick Poulin from [dog] and [pony], Adam Flaherty and Spose.  As videos were presented on YouTube and Vimeo, I realized there was no single place to view all of the excellent videos from Maine.  I spent the days following the PMF lecture trying to find just the right tool to display the videos.

The next task was more time consuming – finding the videos.  Some were easy, some I’d seen, many I had not.  After the search, I’d gathered 102 conceptual and performance, high quality videos.  That being said, there are already more to add!  A great feature of the tool being used is that they’re still hosted on YouTube and Vimeo, meaning the musician still gets a hit for every view and all videos retain their copyright.  We’re considering this an extension of our already existing musician and business databases.

We hope that you’ll take a look and enjoy what you see and hear in the Maine Music Video gallery.  Please use our contact form if you have any additions to list or feedback.  We’ll take a look and make sure they meet our standards.

‘The Filmspotting Connection’, or ‘Two degrees of Ira Glass’

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Recently it was posed to me: “okay, but i don’t understand… why would a film review podcast be talking about music in Maine?”

So this is how it happened… when podcasts were introduced to iTunes in 2005, I discovered Filmspotting (then called Cinecast).  What started out as a hobby by two guys in Chicago, has turned in to a show that’s landed guests like Ed Burns, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rian Johnson, Diablo Cody, Ellen Page, and Shia Labeouf (the bonus content reveals one of the strangest interview outtakes to ever be recorded).  They eventually landed the show on WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio, home of This American Life and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!.

I had a chance to meet one of the hosts, Adam Kempenaar, at a Boston Filmspotting Meet-up.  In addition to interviews, the show also features short musical interludes to move from segment to segment.  A short time after the creation of Factory Portland, it occurred to me… “Filmspotting has music every week, Portland has great music”.  I hope to continue sending great music to the show, but for now, here’s a list of Portland bands that have made it on air…

Spouse: Episode #316: The American / Top 5 Hitman Movies

Gully: Episode #323: Hereafter / Top 5 Double Features

Brenda: Episode #328: I Love You Phillip Morris / Top 5 DVDs of 2010

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper: Episode #337: Army of Shadows / Top 5 Revolution Movies

Bonus: “Superman” by Spouse as the closing song on This American Life, Episode #178, 2/23/2001: Superpowers

Spouse on Film(spotting)

Spouse // Confidence

1864925We recently got a copy of  ‘Confidence’ by Portland’s Spouse in the hands of the hosts of Filmspotting, along with a couple of other releases by local artists.  They were kind enough to feature two tracks from the album on a recent show.  For the uninitiated, Filmpotting is a Chicago-based, film review podcast that also airs on WBEZ radio (home of  This American Life and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!).  In the past, the show has featured music by artists like Animal Collective, Neko Case, The Sea and Cake, Arcade Fire, Iron and Wine, Wilco, and many more.

Listen to Filmspotting Episode (#316) to hear ‘Vampire Love Song’ and ‘What You’re Feeling’.  You can download those tracks, and more, at Spouse’s Bandcamp Site.

Launch event recap

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Bullyclub

Thanks to both those who attended and to the musicians who played the Factory Portland launch event.  Don’t forget to check out the photos from the evening.

If you’d like more infomation on the bands who played, you can find more below.  Many of the artists have music available for sale online, so please support them if you can…

Greyshield (website)
Jose Ayerve (of Spouse)
The No. 9
TJ Metcalfe (of Dead Man’s ClothesCosades)
Bullyclub
The Red F (Tim Burns of Phantom Buffalo)
Wesley Hartley and The Traveling Trees

Spouse on Bandcamp

Spouse at Port City Music Hall, photo by Stephen Quirk/Factory Portland
Spouse // Confidence
Spouse // Confidence

Head over to Spouse’s new Bandcamp profile to download some of their previous releases as well as some newly released demos, covers and rarities.

Their new album, Confidence, is also available for purchase at their site (newly redesigned by Factory Portland).  The album has received some glowing reviews, including one from The Bollard, where you can download a track from Confidence.

Don’t forget to catch José Ayerve of Spouse at the Factory Portland Launch Event at Space Gallery on July 23rd!

Factory Portland Launch Event

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Bullyclub

At Space Gallery, Friday 07.23.2010, Doors at 8:00 PM, Starts at 8:30 PM, $6, 18+

A new asset to our city’s virtual scene, Factory Portland assists local musicians and artists with social networking and production efforts. Additionally, Factory Portland’s site features a database of close to 400 past and present local acts, including area favorites and one-time collaborations. To celebrate the launch, Factory Portland has invited an ecclectic selection of Portland bands and musicians to play: newer acts like The No. 9 and Greyshield; side/spinoff projects The Red F (Tim Burns of Phantom Buffalo) and Wesley Hartley and The Traveling Trees; solo appearances from Jose Ayerve (Spouse, Nuclear Waste Management Club), and TJ Metcalfe (Dead Man’s Clothes, Cosades, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper); and the surprise reunion of Bullyclub!

Buy tickets here or at any Bull Moose Music location

‘Gregory’ by Gully

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// ‘Gregory’ by Gully

‘Gregory’, an EP by Portland’s Gully, was released in May of this year.  I worked alongside Oscar Romero, leader of the band, to interpret his designs.  I stayed true to his vision, while also adding some elements to clean it up a bit.  The album has (so far) only been released at a couple of their shows, but will be available online and at local stores in the near future.  Stay tuned here for more information as it develops.

Gully is on a bit of a hiatus, but you can catch Oscar in his other band, Lapsed Axis or guitarist Stu Gurley in The No. 9.

Read a review and hear a sample over at The Bollard.

Welcome to Factory Portland

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Welcome to Factory Portland, a new service to Portland, Maine’s music scene.  Factory Potland combines a couple of concepts that have been pet projects of its creator, Stephen Quirk.

In 1997, Stephen began photographing and assisting Bullyclub (then known as Bully Pulpit), eventually providing imagery for their albums, ‘Tenure’ and ‘likesongs’.  Over the next thirteen years, Stephen would work with New England musicians Elli Gray, Spouse/José Ayerve, Strause & Company, The No. 9, Gully and Bilvox.  Eventually, Stephen’s collaborations would grow to include help with websites, social networks and album release.

The other portion of Factory Portland is the searchable database of area musicians and music related businesses.  Though there are some finishing touches (a last name here, an address there), there are 378 bands, past and present.  These tools could be used for booking a band, finding the latest project of a favorite musician or finding the right person to work on your band’s next album.  There are bound to be bands that have been forgotten and names misspelled, so please use our additions + corrections page as you see fit.

We hope that you’ll find this site a useful addition to Portland’s creative community and welcome any feedback you may have.