Shilpa Ray at Smiling Skull This Saturday: An Aquabear Interview

Shilpa Ray
Shilpa Ray plays The Smiling Skull this Saturday, March 21 with Blam Blams and Dana

Our good friends over at Blackout our presenting a great show this Saturday, March 21st when Shilpa Ray comes to her “second home” of Athens, Ohio for a night of rock and roll. (attend on the facebook here) Shilpa is no stranger to Athens have played here many times over the years in various incarnations and she is heading back from a SXSW tour in promotion of a new EP (stream it here) and an upcoming full length, both put out by the fine folks at Northern Spy Records. In addition to singing backup vocals for Nick Cave and putting on some great records (including one on Cave’s own label) she has made time for new material including an EP of Lou Reed and Dinah Washington covers. We had a chance to talk with Shilpa while she was out on the road and thought we would share. Go this show.

Tickets are on sale in advance by clicking here! Blam Blams (athens) and Dana (columbus) will open the show.

AQUABEAR: You’ve been a staple in Athens music scene since the days of Beat the Devil and now for years as a solo artist and with the Happy Hookers, what makes Athens special for you?

SHILPA RAY: I’ve always loved the music scene there. It heavy on Rock n Roll and you down get that in Brooklyn much. I’ve also been adopted by various people in Athens so it really is like my second home.

AB: What’s your favorite Athens show memory? Or Ohio memory overall?
SR: There’s a few. Some are painful so I’ll stick the fun shallow ones instead. Let’s see… When Dirty Johnny of the Makebelieves dressed up as Curious George for Halloween and started rolling around stage with someone dressed as Snow White. That was visually stunning. Getting trapped in a snow storm. When our van broke down and we played as a CCR cover band to pay for the repairs. The after parties. ALWAYS the after parties

AB: Favorite Ohio band from over the years?
SR: The Makebelieves, Dropdead Sons, We March

AB:Tell us about the new LP, Last Year’s Savage.
SR: I wrote and recorded it through years of severe depression. It’s pretty raw and heavy.

AB: With the Make Up EP, what made you decide to release a cover EP? How did you select the songs?
SR: This is my story and I’m sticking to it: Make Up – I had an epiphany about this song when I was in Palermo around Christmas time after the Bad Seeds tour. Lou had died late October. I found out 10 minutes before I had to play solo before a sold out crowd at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. Needless to say his passing had a massive effect on me. He was my childhood hero. Europe was hard to grasp for me in a lot of ways. The culture, language barriers,the overload of dairy and ghettos of freshly placed refugees from countries, some I had never heard of before. I was exhausted and getting drunk outside a bar where you can get Marsala for a Euro, basically all I could afford. There were tons of kids dancing in the streets getting high and happy, when this stray yellow lab comes up to me and starts swaying back and forth. The song Make Up came on and I started swaying with the dog. It was one of those rare moments I felt alright.

What A Difference A Day Makes – We had decided to go to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame during a tour stop in Cleveland. I was pretty cynical about the whole thing and tour hadn’t been smooth. I had to send a dude home for being a brat in Kansas City among other places and was feeling pretty exposed as the bad guy. It was a stressful situation and trying to justify my actions in the passive aggressive world of music where no one’s making any money felt daunting. I separated myself from the group, the costumes, the Katy Perry and the Beyonce and hung out in the listening booth for hours. Dinah Washington came on and put every wannabe singer, myself included, to shame. What a voice! She draws her breath so long and never loses the listener. I had to challenge myself with this one. I hope I can sing like her someday.

AB: You are out on tour right now, are you debuting new material? If so what is it like to play those songs in front of audience after working on the album?
SR: Yes! It’s kind of freaky cause it’s never as tight as the rest of the set. It can be a mind fuck at times, to sing, play, remember and get judged all at the same time.

AB: What are you listening to right now?
SR: This very second? Chris Bell – I Am The Cosmos (editors note: hell yeah)

Make Up is available via Northern Spy Records!

Tour Dates:
3/17-3/19 Austin, TX —SXSW
3/20 Hot Springs, AK — VOV Festival
3/21 Athens, OH — Smiling Skull Saloon

INTERVIEW: Times New Viking

Times New Viking is one busy little band. Last week, they released their latest record entitled Dancer Equired on Merge Records. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s the band’s strongest work to date—a logical evolution of the vociferous rock and roll the group has been pounding into our eardrums since their inception. A few weeks back, just ahead of their European tour, Adam, Beth and Jared snuck down to Athens to headline a night of Blackoutfest at the Union. The Aquabear couldn’t miss out on a chance to sit down with these Ohio-bred noisemakers, so we cornered them in an alley and politely asked them to partake in an interview. They kindly obliged.

Aquabear: You folks have been jumping around labels quite a bit lately, your latest release will be coming out on Merge Records. What was the reasoning behind the move to this new label?

Jared: No one else wanted to do it. I don’t think…

Adam: That’s not true. (laughs) It’s just a matter of contracts, I guess. We had the chance to be on a different label so we just went for it.

Jared: We liked Merge’s logo a little better.

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Phantods on the Rise

In the mere months since the release of their sophomore effort Creature, Phantods have solidified themselves as a Columbus-based band to watch. From their record’s inclusion on local year-end lists to an upcoming opening spot with Fitz and the Tantrums, Phantods momentous rise shows no signs of stopping. Fronted by the powerful vocals of Gretchen King, the group’s new-found anthemic pop-rock sound has found an immense local following.

In anticipation of their show at the Union on Friday, January 14 with Athens’ favorites She Bears and Blithe Field, Aquabear recently chatted with Phantods guitarist Dan Hagquist about the group’s latest release.

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A Few Words with Brian Harnetty

Brian Harnetty at Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago, IL

Ohio musician and friend of Aquabear Legion Brian Harnetty has been keeping himself pretty busy as of late. This past Friday, he opened a sound installation entitled The Star-Faced One in the Audible Gallery at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. The 60-minute piece features material from the Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection as well as contributions from Fred Lonberg-Holm, Jeff Kimmel, Aaron Butler and Jeremy Woodruff. The installation runs every weekend and by appointment during the week through December 19. We recently sat down with Brian for a few words about his current work and future plans.

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INTERVIEW: Adam Torres and Brian Wiebe (from Aquabear Reader #1)

Breakneck Jane's Fifteen Minute Escape Poster

In 2007, Adam Torres released his hauntingly perfect album Nostra Nova. Adam performed solo as Nostra Nova and with others (including members of Southeast Engine and Five Deadly Venoms) while continuing to play in Southeast Engine as well. Athens Musician Network called Nostra Nova “the best locally produced record in a decade” adding “this record should be part of every Athenian’s collection.”

Filmmaker and good friend of the Aquabear Brian Wiebe made a video for the song “Breakneck Jane’s Fifteen Minute Escape” from Nostra Nova. Aquabear had a chance to talk to both Adam and Brian about the video and a lot more, you can find the full interview and  after the break.

This was originally published in Aquabear Reader #1 in Spring 2008.

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INTERVIEW: She Bears

She Bears are releasing their new record, I Found Myself Asleep tonight at Casa Cantina. Aquabear had a chance to talk to Stephen Pence about the band, their new album, boats, getting drunk, record contracts, and a lot more.

It should be noted that an original idea for the interview was for me to send Stephen questions and then he would get really, really drunk and leave me voicemails answering them late at night. I thought it was a great idea, but the logistics fell apart  a bit after 13 voice mails and a lack of a good transcribing system. I am including some of the voicemail ramblings, which include contributions from: Stephen, Shea Stanley (a local hobo witch doctor who as of press time is not in the band), and Ryan  (who is in the band). Other folks left some messages too sorry if you were left out, also not all of those messages are transcribed here..

Interview after the break….
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