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Tag: Q&A (61-70 of 102)

Drake tourmate Francis Farewell Starlite: A Music Mix Q&A

FATL-tour-photoFrancis Farewell Starlite’s hairstyle—a James Dean-esque pompadour—and chic style scream “Star!” His vocals are vintage, like a raspy-smooth Joe Cocker, and onstage, his moves are grand, seemingly pulled and remixed from James Brown’s good-foot arsenal. As leader of his indie pop band, Francis and the Lights, he’s a fascinating eccentric. Don’t tell Starlite any of this, though. The 28-year-old isn’t a fan of comparisons.

In the few interviews Francis has given, writers inevitably wind up describing him as an elusive, coy character. He’s reserved. His words are brief, guarded even. “Let me think about how I want to answer that,” he’ll respond to a few questions during our interview. He doesn’t mind letting several moments pass before he gets out exactly what he wants to say. It’s refreshing in an era where most artists blurt out outrageous quotes and eventually cry foul after reading and eating their words.

The group has two stellar, five-song EPs, 2007’s Striking and 2008’s A Modern Promise. The introspective sets with bouncing, spacey beats have earned him a dedicated cult following. This summer the band’s set to release their third effort, It’ll Be Better.

Currently on tour with hip-hop’s young stud, Drake, Francis called in from his West Virginia-bound tour bus to introduce himself. Among other topics below, he opens up about why he’s curt, who or what “the Lights” are, his legal name, and how he found his life’s purpose on a train.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you enjoying the tour experience so far?
It’s been wonderful. I’m very thankful. It’s a very exciting tour. It’s an experience.

Drake fans are expecting a hip-hop show. How has the crowd been reacting to your performances?

It’s hard to say. In general, it’s been positive. We haven’t felt any negativity.  I think there have been a couple of shows recently, once we’ve gotten our bearings straight, that have gone over very well. At least it felt that way, where we were able to bring people into our world. But it is a challenge, no question about it. I feel like every night we do a show, I have to just go out there and go to work. READ FULL STORY

Jack Ingram Q&A: 'The rest of my career, however it plays out, I guarantee it will be my voice.'

Jack-IngramImage Credit: David McClisterOne of the best performances on Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards was Jack Ingram‘s “Barbie Doll,” a raucous throwdown with pal Dierks Bentley that ended with two dozen girls mobbing the men on stage and rubbing up against them in all sorts of inappropriate ways.

“Barbie Doll” first appeared on Ingram’s 1999 Hey You, a terrific album from the days when Ingram was a superstar in Texas and nowhere else; it was repurposed on last year’s Big Dreams & High Hopes, Ingram’s first record after winning Top “New” Artist at the 2008 ACMs, 13 years into his 15-year career. For old-school Ingram fans, his transition from Texas to Nashville has been more than a little awkward to watch, like a perfect junkyard dog after a trip to the groomers: it’s not that we don’t want him to be clean, we just fell in love with him dirty. I took him to task for Big Dreams & High Hopes, but thankfully, Ingram’s still speaking to me, and we caught up backstage after his ACM rehearsal for an honest conversation about why he’s currently touring smaller venues, what he hopes the “Barbie Doll” performance will accomplish, and why up until now, his mainstream country career has just been “small talk.”

How do you feel about where you are in your career, and how things are going? I know you’re out playing bars and small clubs, and it’s a return to where you started. Where are you hoping that leads?
It’s kinda just coming back around. Making a run through and hopefully coming back out the other side again. There’s a certain intimacy that you get in a bar show that  you can’t get opening for people in front of thousands. And I’ve got so many fans in the last five or six years that haven’t been in that scene with me, so I feel like they maybe missed out on a certain energy that might create separation between me and other artists that are doing as well as I am. It’s still a business on some level. I’m not selling as many records as I want to, and I’m not headlining yet. So I still need to figure out how to make that big move that I came here for. And I think part of that is making a deeper connection with my existing fans, and letting them know why — I mean, in music we try to pretend that it’s not competitive or whatever. But there needs to be some separation, me saying why I’m important to you in a different way that Artist #17 is. READ FULL STORY

Broadway star Laura Bell Bundy kicks off her 'crazy' country career: A Music Mix Q&A

Laura-Bell-BundyImage Credit: Michael ElinsLaura Bell Bundy made her name starring on Guiding Light and in Broadway musicals like Legally Blonde, Wicked, and Hairspray, but the 29 year old Kentucky-born songwriter always had her eye on a country music career. So let’s take a moment to congratulate this smart, no-nonsense chick on having it all: Her split-personality debut, Achin’ and Shakin’, drops tomorrow (it’s one-half achin’ songs, one-half shakin’ songs), and she’ll perform its campy, catchy first single “Giddy On Up” on this Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards telecast. There will unquestionably be quite the production number.

Ms. Bundy hit Los Angeles this month for a couple warm-up gigs at local gay clubs — gotta show the fanbase some love — and we sat down for a chat about her unconventional album concept, attraction to “dirty, unshaven” men, and something called “Cooter County.”

Entertainment Weekly: You flirted with a lot of labels before settling on Mercury Nashville.
Laura Bell Bundy: Yeah. It’s like dating. I didn’t put out until I hooked up with Mercury. I was a total c—tease for a while.

Were you shopping your self-released album, Longing for a Place Already Gone, as a demo?
I guess so. That was kind of the proof that I was a singer-songwriter. My showcase was Legally Blonde.

I don’t know how many legit musical theater people sound like they could have mainstream recording careers.
That’s what people were nervous about at first at the label. We had guys, like, “This is a Broadway singer! What makes you think she can do a record?” But I already put out a country record that they could listen to and go, “It sounds like a country record.”

Then why did you need the Broadway show as a showcase?
It’s different when you hear someone sing out of a CD player, and then you see what they’re capable of doing live. They go see a Broadway show, and they go, “Okay, actually, she can sing.” And Legally Blonde was not, like, Oklahoma. It was musical theater pop. READ FULL STORY

Cherie Currie talks about fronting the Runaways, watching Dakota Fanning play her in the movie

Cherie-Currie-RunawaysImage Credit: Janet Mayer/PR Photos

When the Runaways formed in 1975, they were the only all-girl teenage hard rock band on the planet, and the world wasn’t quite ready for them. Decades later, the Runaways are finally getting some of the attention they deserve with the band biopic The Runaways, which stars Dakota Fanning as the 15-year-old lead singer Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as a very young Joan Jett. The film—which goes into wide release April 9—is based on the recently released book Neon Angel: A Memoir of A Runaway by lead singer Currie and details the band’s short, messy history and the struggle with addiction that nearly claimed her life. Currie sat down with us to talk about  growing up in a rock band, conquering addiction, and the talk generated by the scene in the film where she and Joan Jett kiss.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much of the movie is taken from your book Neon Angel? Is it mostly your story?
: Well, it’s Joan and my story, of course. They took a lot of poetic license with the movie. If you read the book, you’ll see things were a little bit different from the movie, but I don’t want to give anything anyway.

And Joan Jett is attached as an executive producer. Are there any Runaways memories you disagree on?
No. She was very supportive of the original book. The new book is a lot more intense, there were a lot of stories I couldn’t tell in a young adults book.

So this book originally came out in 1989 in much different form, as a young-adult book. Why did you decide to go back to it?
That happened in 2000. A friend of mine read it and turned around and said, “Have you ever thought what people are going to think of you when they read this book?” And it shocked me that he would say that…he’s no longer a friend. But I re-read the book and I cried for three days. And then all of a sudden, instead of shutting away from it I decided to add to it. So I started writing. It took me three or four months, and then Kenny Laguna [Joan Jett’s manager] read the book and he thought it was worthy of republication, because you couldn’t find it anywhere. And he started shopping it to publishers and some people became interested in making it into a film, so that’s what happened. READ FULL STORY

Craig Finn of the Hold Steady talks new album, 'Heaven is Whenever,' at SXSW

Craig-FInn-Hold-SteadyImage Credit: Whitney Pastorek/EW.comCraig Finn of the Hold Steady has to be one of the most gregarious guys in rock, a characteristic that’s always more than apparent in their fist-pumping, fast-clapping live shows. Now he’s getting to put his genuinely friendly nature to a different use, interviewing bands and serving as a sort of in-studio anchor for IFC’s Crossroads House, an outpost for web-streamed live performances here in Austin. We caught up with the always-positive bandleader on Thursday for a chat about surviving South-By as an adult, and the band’s fifth album, Heaven is Whenever, due out March 4 (with a limited-edition vinyl preview on Record Store Day, April 17, available only at your local non-box-store music retailer). He also had some kind words for the words of the late Alex Chilton; read those here, and check out for their live webcasts of his work throughout the weekend…

Entertainment Weekly: You guys are finishing a new album, and not playing SXSW this year. Why are you here? Can you just not keep yourself away?
Craig Finn: It just seemed fun. I love music. It was a reason to be down here and check out things and see a lot of people but not have the hassles. We did four shows last year — the shows are actually the easy part. Getting between the shows is the hard part. I’m talking to all these bands — I think Dawes said they’re doing 10 shows and I’m like, Oh my god. There’s a million bands, you can’t park anywhere. There’s so much stress about all that, and it’s hard to make it about the music. And it’s funny, I’ve been asking a lot of people how they get into the headspace to play their shows, and everyone has their answer which is, “No, you just do it!” But it is kinda hard. So, we’ve been working on this record a lot, and this is kind of a little vacation for me.

How are you as an interviewer?
Um. Getting better. My second one was with Lemmy [from Motörhead], so that was — I’ve been trying to talk to people as a peer, you know? As a musician. Lemmy’s not really my peer. Nor is he anyone alive’s peer, really. So that one was intimidating. I’m not even sure they got anything they could use. He kind of mumbles, and he’s drunk, and there’s not much connection there. The other ones are pretty cool, and a lot of them are my friends — you know, the [Drive-By] Truckers were here, and Jakob [Dylan] and Neko [Case]. Comfort level helps a lot. READ FULL STORY

Network sitcom rejects Graham Parker theme song, inspiring his new concept album: A Music Mix Q&A

graham-parkerImage Credit: Jeff FasanoLegendary British rocker Graham Parker — 1979’s Squeezing Out Sparks should really be in your collection — has come up with the year’s most creative concept album by far: Inspired by his adventures unsuccessfully attempting to write title songs for real television shows, Imaginary Television (on sale today) is comprised of title songs for 10 imaginary TV shows. In place of lyrics, Parker wrote up short summaries of their plots, and then threw in “blurbs” from equally fake but eerily realistic reviews. (The album also includes one Johnny Nash cover, “More Questions Than Answers,” of which Parker writes, “Presumably he has his own TV show treatment to go with it.”) We got the self-confessed “hedonist” on the phone from his upstate New York home for a conversation in which he explains his process, his taste in real television, and which high-powered Hollywood producer he’d love to sell on one of these ideas.

This is quite the concept album. Can you explain the story behind it?
A publishing company signed me about a year ago, and their whole job is to find placements for artists on shows, to “up the value of the catalog,” as they might say in their parlance. They actually got a couple of my songs on a TV show within pretty short notice. But then one of their reps sent me some kind of email blast from a television music supervisor who needed a main title for a sitcom. And they had a few parameters, which were completely ridiculous. You know, “It’s gotta be like this, it’s gotta be like that, but we don’t want it too much like that. It has to be so catchy that people will be singing it in their car driving in 10 year’s time. The lyrics should be like this, but go with your gut. Hint hint, nudge nudge.” Everything was contradictory. They wanted something totally perfect. But they kept saying, “Go with your gut!” I’m not going to say what the shows were, by the way.

That’s a smart idea, albeit a boring one.
It is pretty boring, yeah. I’m being extremely dull. It’s kind of the first time in my career where I’ve latched on to some sort of a self-preservation technique. READ FULL STORY

Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson talks about their first album without Steven Page; plus, watch new video 'You Run Away'

barenaked-ladies_320.jpg Image Credit: James Minchin Barenaked Ladies — everyone’s favorite band of macaroni-dodging, occasionally-rapping, old-apartment-visiting Canadians — haven’t had the most cheerful time of it lately. The string of misfortune began with original co-frontman Steven Page’s arrest on drug charges in 2008, which were later dismissed. That same year, other co-frontman Ed Robertson crashed his single-engine plane with his wife on board; luckily, everyone walked away. In December of 2008, Robertson’s mother passed away. And in February of 2009, Page officially left the band “by mutual agreement,” and has since gone solo.

With four men now left standing on their pirate ship, the Barenaked Ladies are sailing on, releasing their 11th studio album, All In Good Time, on March 30th in the U.S. (Canada, you get yours a week earlier.) They’ve just debuted the video for first single, “You Run Away,” which you Mixers can watch embedded right here after this Q&A with Robertson, in which we discuss everything from Page’s departure and the challenges it presents to his country’s much-maligned-in-these-parts Juno Awards, with a special shout-out to Nickelback. He was, quite honestly, one of the most pleasant conversationalists we’ve encountered via phone in a long while. Enjoy.

Entertainment Weekly: We are here to talk about this new album, and the horribly traumatic times that led up to it. Would that be a mischaracterization, or was it really as bad as it all reads?
Ed Robertson: You know, the last year has been amazing. But the year previous to that kinda sucked.

The more you talk about it, are you realizing, Oh man, this sucked worse than I thought when I was in it? Or were you aware the whole time it was sucking?
Oh, I was fully inside of it at the time. I was noticing all of the suck.

In what order did these three major events occur, with Steve leaving the band, and your mom passing away, and your plane crash?
Well. I would include Steve’s arrest in the events. So it went arrest, plane crash, mom passing away, and then parting ways with Steve.

First of all, I’m really sorry. But was there a point in there where you thought about just chucking the whole thing?
For 20 minutes, yeah, kind of right around the new year of 2009. It just seemed like there was a lot of negativity swirling around. But it was about kinda taking stock and going, Man, we’ve done a lot of really great things with this band. We’ve gotta find a way to do it and enjoy it again. READ FULL STORY

Widespread Panic's John Bell on their new album, covering the late Vic Chesnutt, and why he's 'not too fond' of the 'jam-band' label

widespread-panicImage Credit: Jay Blakesberg/RetnaGeorgia  rockers Widespread Panic are approaching their 25th anniversary, and set to release their 11th album, Dirty Side Down, on May 25th. The new record includes one especially poignant track: a cover of “This Cruel Thing,” an unreleased song from friend fellow Athens musical legend Vic Chesnutt, who passed away on Christmas Day 2009. We got lead singer John Bell on the phone to chat about Chesnutt’s legacy, the difference between improvisation and “stumbling,” and the general state of the Widespread Panic union.

Entertainment Weekly: After 10 albums, how do you keep finding ways to push your music forward?
John Bell: I think you just keep a few holes in the dam so stuff will keep leaking through. We’re looking for new territory just to keep it fun and interesting for us.

Do you think there’s something inherent in the “jam band” aesthetic that allows you to stumble more easily across new sounds?
Hmm. Well, I’m not too fond of the phrase “jam band.” It does tend to refer more to stumbling than actual improvisation.

Can you explain the difference between those two things in your mind? Obviously one implies more conscious thought rather than just tripping over something, but expand on that.
We hope it’s more musically soul-searching. The term “jam band” — in the beginning, there was just the notion of bands that were more willing to improvise and get off the script of a song. But hopefully, you improvise with a purpose. With some focus. And with open ears to what other people are doing on stage. It’s easy as a player to just kind of stand around until you find something. A listener applying themselves to “jam band” music might not be listening with focus, either… I’m trying not to offend anybody.

Are they not listening with focus because of all the drugs?
[laughs] Oh, no! I just think there’s a difference when you’re experimenting with a sense of musical conversation going on. The performance can rise up to much heavier level levels than it would if you were just following a script. READ FULL STORY

Joanna Newsom talks about her excellent new triple album, the 'toxic' world of fashion, and 'passing' in the New York scene

Joanna-NewsomJoanna Newsom—the harp-plucking, polarizing critics’ darling—has been trying to shake off her shyness lately, dabbling in New York fashion and dating Andy Samberg (which she prefers not to discuss, thank you very much). She spoke with us about Have One On Me, her triple-disc album that comes out today, and how it was shaped by her increasingly high-profile lifestyle.

EW: The album has a lot of references to drinking and debauchery—is that autobiographical or just fiction?

JN: I think there is some of both, indirectly. A lot of the themes on the album have to do with traveling and being ungrounded in many ways, being sort of cast out and away from home, whatever that means. It kind of oversimplifies it in a way to talk about it. I’m trying to make a lyrical case rather than make the kind of case you would want to talk about at length in an interview. But I think that that’s part of the character of the record. For me I was thinking of it in terms of a 1920s expatriot version of decadence, that was the model of the kind of hedonism I wanted to write about.

EW: So this is your longest record. Did you intend for that, or did it just happen?

JN: It just kind of happened. Two thirds of the way through I already had enough material for a double album, but I weirdly felt it wasn’t done—I felt like I needed to get a better sense of what the themes were and I wanted to be able to tie them up. To introduce them, develop them and resolve them and I felt like I wasn’t there yet. So I tried to sequence it in a way that helped to locate that thread. Because I think there is a linear quality to the way that a lot of the ideas develop and revolve. It took me like three weeks to sequence it and I tried so many different permutations of songs. When it finally was sequenced I realized, to me at least, it made perfect sense as a triple album, and that’s what I decided to commit to.

EW: You used to live in Nevada City, Calif., but you seem to be in New York a lot. Are you living here now?

JN: I’m not. I do spend a fair amount of time there, but I’m still in Northern California. Not in Nevada City, but near where I grew up.

EW: You’ve been doing a fair amount of New York fashion stuff, like that shoot for W magazine. Has that affected how you approach music?

JN: I think in some ways. I did notice myself on this album either directly or indirectly writing about the city, sort of frantic dispatches from the city and trying to find a place there and figure out how to be creative and grounded in that world, which I still haven’t figured out, really. Yeah, I think it’s in there.

EW: I’ve read you wanted to play the harp and make music since you were a kid. Did you aspire to the fashion and fame thing as well, or is that more recent?

JN: Well, fashion is obviously a minefield of potentially toxic and horrible influences or forces at work, but fashion at its most simple, dreamy and pure form was something that interested me a lot. Like many people, I’m sure, I did the whole thing where you design clothes, hundreds and hundreds of pages of ideas that I wanted to make someday. And I really have always loved beautiful clothing, so there’s a side of that that’s exciting. I did sort of initially go through this phase of going to a lot of fashion-y things with that excitement, you know, being like, “Oooooo, this world! Fashion!” And then kind of getting deflated a little bit and realizing that in some cases—maybe I’m just not approaching it the right way—but in a lot of cases it just doesn’t seem to have much of a relationship with the actual parts of fashion or the actual parts of design that are exciting to me.

EW: There’s a line in your record that goes, “Sure I can pass/particularly when I start to tip my glass.” Is that a somewhat autobiographical reference to doing the New York scene and the fashion thing? READ FULL STORY

Raekwon on 'Wu-Massacre,' the future of the Wu-Tang Clan, his label dreams, and more: The Music Mix Q&A

Last fall’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Part II was a milestone for Raekwon. The long-promised sequel to the Wu-Tang Clan member’s 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx drew stronger reviews than he’d seen in many years and hit the Billboard 200’s top five the week of its release. Considering the six-year pause that preceded Cuban Linx II, you might expect Rae to be resting on his laurels right about now.

Hardly. He returns March 30 with Wu-Massacre (pictured), a full-length collaboration with his Wu brothers Method Man and Ghostface Killah; after that, it’s back to work on Rae’s next solo album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. To take a breather from recording might risk losing momentum, which he’s simply unwilling to do. “Right now, I’m tired as hell,” Raekwon admits, sitting at a conference table at EMI Records’ NYC office with a red-and-blue New York Giants hoodie pulled low over his forehead. “But it’s a job.”

On top of all that, Raekwon is also trying to establish himself as an music-biz mogul. Cuban Linx II was the first product of his Ice H2O label, released in partnership with EMI. Next up is Capone-N-Noreaga’s The War Report II, another sequel to a beloved ’90s New York rap album. Rae is interested in diversifying to other genres, too: “If I could come with another Avril Lavigne or Lady Gaga…” he thinks out loud. “We’re just ready to keep it moving. No more five years away Rae s—. I’m trying to make Ice H2O the next Def Jam. In my eyes, I’m the Berry Gordy.”

Read on for Raekwon’s thoughts on Cuban Linx Part II, Wu-Massacre, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, and the possibility of another album from all eight members of the Wu-Tang Clan left after Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s 2004 passing — plus Rae’s reaction after seeing for the first time the crazy/awesome “RZA crosses the Potomac” painting that lit up the Internet last month.


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