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21 thoughts on 21 years of the Afghan Whigs' masterpiece 'Gentlemen'

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When I first started this job back in April 2011, I was subjected to an EW tradition: I was sent a list of questions whose answers made up an office-wide introduction to my cultural obsessions. When it came time to express an all-time favorite from the music world, I settled on the one name I always shout out whenever anybody asks me what songwriter I defend above all others: Greg Dulli.

Dulli has made excellent work I have absolutely adored in several different guises, including the Twilight Singers, the Gutter Twins, and the Backbeat Band. But he got started with the Afghan Whigs, a mercurial indie rock/R&B hybrid from Cincinnati who first appeared on the scene with the haunting Big Top Halloween in 1988 and wrapped up their original run with 1998’s 1965. (They recently reconstituted for an ongoing series of shows and the brand new album Do To The Beast, which came out earlier this year.) Their masterpiece is, undoubtedly, their 1993 major-label debut Gentlemen, which is getting the deluxe reissue treatment today in the form of Gentlemen at 21. The new version contains a remastered version of the original record, plus a second disc of demos, B-sides, and live tracks that further flesh out the strange and wonderful universe the band helped create more than two decades ago.

Gentlemen has been a cornerstone album for the better part of its existence (and, subsequently, mine), so in honor of this definitive work now being able to legally order a boilermaker, here are 21 thoughts about Gentlemen. READ FULL STORY

Hear the Afghan Whigs demo of 'Debonair,' an exclusive premiere from 'Gentlemen at 21'

The Afghan Whigs’ Gentlemen, originally released in 1993, not only represents the band’s major-label debut, but it’s also the platonic ideal of the group’s sound. Over the course of 11 tracks, the Whigs melded the sultry slink of R&B with the jagged crunch of indie rock, all fueled by frontman Greg Dulli’s sly, savage take on relationships.

On October 27, Rhino will release Gentlemen at 21, a deluxe reissue of the album celebrating the fact that it has finally reached drinking age. In addition to the original remastered album, there are 17 bonus tracks that include a bunch of b-sides, live performances, and the original Gentlemen demos.  READ FULL STORY

Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli on reuniting the band, getting outplayed by Bob Odenkirk, and more

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When cultishly adored indie heroes Afghan Whigs first got back together in 2012, it was only going to be for a handful of shows. But then a few shows turned into a few more, and then more legs of an international tour.

Now Afghan Whigs are simply a band again — and they’re celebrating it with a new album, Do To The Beast, out April 15. This morning, they unveiled the album’s first single, “Algiers,” and premiered the video (both are below).

Frontman Greg Dulli spoke exclusively to EW about how Usher inspired the album, the inspiration for their new video, and how Breaking Bad‘s Bob Odenkirk scooped everybody on the album’s existence.

EW: So when did the idea of doing a record set in?
Greg Dulli: It was after we played the gig with Usher at South by Southwest in March. [Bassist] John [Curley] and I had dinner and talked about making a record. We decided that we should. We started in May, and I finished it on December 30, and there you have it.

Was there anything different about being in the studio this time, compared to the last time you guys recorded together?
I don’t think anything has changed for me studio-wise since I was a teenager. You go in with an idea, and you work it out until it becomes something you enjoy. Recording has always been very simple and therapeutic for me. No matter when and how I’ve done it, it’s always a very consistent experience. Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want to, and there’s certainly successes and failures in anything, but I have a very zen approach to recording, honestly. It serves me well. READ FULL STORY

SXSW: Usher performs with the Afghan Whigs, gives shout out to Lil Wayne -- VIDEO

It should’ve been obvious from the start. The lineup at the Fader Fort Presented by Converse yesterday listed the ’90s alternative favorites the Afghan Whigs as the headliner, even though they hadn’t put out an album in 15 years.

Beyond that, the Fader Fort typically closes out their events with rap and R&B acts like French Montana and Rick Ross — not aging Cincinnati rockers.

Don’t get us wrong — we love the Afghan Whigs, and their solo set (following performances from Atlanta rappers T.I. and Future) was pretty great. But when they began playing the beginning of Usher’s recent single “Climax,” we knew the jig was up.

And just like that, Usher came out on stage and played his first-ever SXSW, with the Afghan Whigs. After he and the band finished up a particularly rousing performance of “Climax” (Greg Dulli handled the vocals until Usher came out in time for the second verse), they launched into the Whigs’ “Somethin’ Hot.”

Whigs fans were happy, and it even kept the Usher-only sect of the audience happy — though, really, Usher could’ve sang the alphabet backwards and they would’ve been just as delirious.

READ FULL STORY

On the scene at New York's 'I'll Be Your Mirror' Festival Day 1: Frank Ocean, Philip Glass, and more

Image Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

My editor warned me that All Tomorrow’s Parties – I’ll Be Your Mirror, the revered itinerant indie festival taking place in New York this weekend, would be a little unusual.

“There will be some women there,” she said, “but not many.”

And glancing over the lineup, she had a point. Curated in this edition by Greg Dulli of ’90s garage-rock heroes the Afghan Whigs — past curators include Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, My Bloody Valentine, Modest Mouse, and even Simpsons creator Matt Groening —  the festival looked heavy on, well, obscure mid-‘90s garage rock.

Scrawl, Lightning Bolt, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – not surprisingly, I expected an audience of bearded men drinking microbrews. I was not disappointed.

It had the makings of a memorable (or insufferable) weekend: a young, eager music writer (I’m 23) watching many bands he’d never heard of, surrounded by old dudes who knew way, way more than me.

Held at Pier 36, a new entertainment complex on the Lower East Side right on the East River, the setup featured two stages: one inside the mammoth, carpeted auditorium, and the other in the parking lot, directly beneath the FDR highway. Friday’s comedians were quick to take note of the location. READ FULL STORY

On the scene at Lollapalooza Friday: The Black Keys and Black Sabbath deal in different kinds of darkness

By Kyle Anderson & Nolan Feeney

On the opening day of Lollapalooza 2012 in Chicago, people could only talk about two things: The oppressive heat (which isn’t really news for anyone who has ever spent three days repeatedly crossing Grant Park in August), and whether or not Black Sabbath was going to make everybody sad.

Obviously, the idea of the legendary metal band playing a nearly two-hour set of heavy classics was titillating, and frontman Ozzy Osbourne remains one of the most unpredictable characters in rock. But health problems for both Osbourne and Tony Iommi have called into question whether or not this particular Sabbath reunion was a good idea, and suggested that the band might be better served staying at home (which is exactly what drummer Bill Ward ended up doing anyway).

By the time they left the stage on Friday night, they delivered no definitive answers. The set list was unimpeachable —  hitting on everything you could possibly want to hear from them, including “Iron Man,” “War Pigs,” “Sweet Leaf,” “N.I.B.,” and “Paranoid” (which they wisely saved for the encore). Ozzy still has the will of a manic frontman, but neither his body nor his voice seem to be able to match his intent, and he seemed vaguely off for the better part of the evening.

Iommi’s steady riffing carried the night, though the set ground to an unfortunate halt during an overlong drum solo (though honestly, there’s no such thing as an “appropriate length drum solo”) that saw a lot of people trying to beat the traffic home.

Still, for those who stuck around, the rest provided by the rhythmic interlude might have been just what the other members of the band needed, as the band’s finishing run (which included the awesome and deeply underrated Technical Ecstasy gem “Dirty Women”) was as strong as any modern metal act. Were they good? Sure. Should they keep going? The jury is still out.

On the other end of the park, the Black Keys were offering up no such existential quandaries. READ FULL STORY

Lollapalooza: Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli has one festival goal: See Frank Ocean

The recently reconstituted Afghan Whigs have always known their way around a cover, and their most recent one might be their most winning yet.

The band has been playing Frank Ocean’s “Love Crimes,” a signature track from his critically-acclaimed 2011 mixtape nostalgiaULTRA, as part of their set since getting back together earlier this year. The band just recorded the track and gave it away on their website.

Frontman Greg Dulli’s appreciation for the alt R&B star runs deep: “I really want to see Frank Ocean Saturday night,” Dulli told EW in the Afghan Whigs’ dressing room just a few minutes before taking the stage for his own show. “He has such great words. He’s a great songwriter, and his words are really deep. The opening lines of the song, ‘Talk to me without hearing, touching me without feeling,’ I thought that was really intensely beautiful. He really has something. I saw him play in L.A. a couple of weeks ago, and it was a really phenomenal show.”

The Afghan Whigs had a pretty exceptional set themselves, making even their darkest tunes (especially the raucous “What Jail Is Like”) fly over the crowd in Chicago’s Grant Park –like the flock of geese who seemed particularly enthralled by Dulli’s vocalizations.

Oddly, the song that got the biggest reaction from the crowd was the group’s cover of Marie Queenie Lyons’ soul classic “See and Don’t See,” a quiet little burner that captured the attention of even the most shirtless-bro members of the masses.

Read More on EW.com:
Complete Music Festival Coverage at EW.com
Lollapalooza playlist: From Passion Pit to The Shins and more — LISTEN
Lollapalooza 2012: Five questions going into the weekend

Afghan Whigs live in New York City -- still dark and dangerous at their first show in 13 years

When I first joined Entertainment Weekly a little over a year ago, the deputy managing editor asked me who my favorite songwriter was. I answered unequivocally: Greg Dulli, the seedy mastermind behind great 21st-century soul-scuzz combos Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins. While Dulli has rarely put out anything I didn’t like, my adoration for him begins with the Afghan Whigs, the Cincinnati-bred combo who released a half dozen albums’ worth of cocksure R&B for the alt-rock era.

The band parted ways in 1999, but last night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom, they returned. (The Whigs were supposed to make their grand reunion at the Dulli-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in New Jersey this September, but considering the band’s last show was at the now-defunct New York club Hush, Dulli wanted to start the band right where they left off over a decade ago.) READ FULL STORY

Greg Dulli on curating All Tomorrow's Parties, getting the Afghan Whigs back together, and why Louis C.K. is like a pretty girl

Greg Dulli has spent the first decade and a half of the 21st century as the mastermind behind the Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins, dressing up after-hours reveries in blues riffage, goth leanings, and tales of love gone awry. But that footprint began back in the ’90s with the Afghan Whigs, his cultishly-adored group of funk-loving, soul-stealing rockers from Cincinnati.

That band called it quits nearly 15 years ago, and now Dulli has reconstituted the group, which will make its grand return at this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey—an event that Dulli also happens to be curating.

In addition to the Whigs, his eclectic lineup includes the Roots, stand-up comic Louis C.K., Sharon Van Etten, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and frequent collaborator Mark Lanegan. We spoke with Dulli about the reunion, the festival, and the haze of the ’90s.

EW: Which came first: The reunion or the call to curate All Tomorrow’s Parties?
Dulli: The best way I can describe it is that it was sort of a perfect storm of events. I did an acoustic tour a year and a half ago and John Curley, my dear friend and bass player in the Whigs, joined me for the show in Cincinnati, which we’ve done before when I pass through there. But then, I asked him, “Do you want to come up to Chicago and play?” He came up to Chicago and people freaked out. I finished up that tour on the west coast and I called him and I was like, “Hey man, do you want to do the west coast with me?” And he said yes. That was a great time. At that point, we began to play a few more Whigs songs in the show and I really enjoyed it. I rediscovered some songs that I had forgotten about and how much I enjoyed playing them. Then, when the Twilights tour last spring, we played Minneapolis where [Afghan Whigs guitarist] Rick [McCollum] lives. I had lunch with Rick. I hadn’t seen Rick in three or four years. We didn’t even talk about playing together but we had a really nice time at lunch. Then, he came to the gig and hung out. We were never at odds anyway so we didn’t have to get over any animosity. There were no hatchets to be buried. So when [All Tomorrow's Parties founder] Barry Hogan came around this last time was like, “Hey, do you want to?” I’m like, “Maybe.” My stance had just softened on the hardline and it seemed like if we were ever going to do it, this seemed like the right time to do it.

This can’t be the first time somebody has floated that idea. READ FULL STORY

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