Graham Elwood [Interview]

 

We’ve got a legend in our midst today, my dear readers! Today we are talking with the legendary comedian, filmmaker, creator of the L.A. Podfest, and all around brilliant human being known as Graham Elwood. I will be perfectly blunt and state that I first became aware of Graham’s work through his brilliant guest spots on the wildly popular podcast Doug Loves Movies (which we will discuss further), but I have since learned that this man is a talented comedic monster in his own right, and I was actually enjoying his work long before I knew the man by name.

Besides being a hilarious comedian, Graham has given us two amazing documentaries: Laffghanistan, about comedians performing for the troops that is as hilarious as it is heartwarming. And Ear Buds: The Podcasting Documentary. Both films are fantastic, and the latter is an absolute must watch for anyone who obsessively listens to podcasts (such as myself). And one of those podcasts that hits by queue constantly is Graham’s own podcast, Comedy Film Nerds, that is an absolute delight for fans of comedy, films, comedy films, anything! I simply can not say enough nice things about the great Graham Elwood. Therefore, I shall let him tell us a bit more about himself. So please enjoy some great words with the legend himself, Mr. Graham Elwood!

What made you decide to join the world of stand up comedy, especially at a very young age? What were some of your inspirations to join a world like  stand up comedy?

I grew up watching and listening to comics like Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and others. I knew at a young age that I couldn’t hold a real job so telling dick jokes to drunks seemed more realistic.

There have obviously been some pretty major changes in the world of stand up since you started 30 years ago. But, I am interested to know what you believe is still the same. Are there elements about stand up that existed in the late 80’s that still hold true today?

Well, the art of writing and telling jokes is still very similar but it’s the technology or delivery to public that has changed. When I started you only had Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show. Now you can have, Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

Continuing with that theme….what have been some topics that have always seemed to work for you throughout your career? What are the fail safes basically?

I like talking about people and things I’ve seen in all my travels. Telling a true story about a crazy event will always work for me. Lenny Bruce said all good comes have a built in bullshit detector.


You have had a down right captivating movie based podcast in Comedy Film Nerds. Just so good. For our readers who may not be aware of it, can you give us a bit of insight about CFN? How did it manage to come about? And what is it that you personally believe sets your movie podcast apart from

all of the others?

CFN started as a website with movie reviews written by stand-up comics. It then grew to a podcast that has become the focus or our entire business. I think that we stand apart because Chris Mancini and I are both filmmakers and comedians. We went to film school and got heckled at dive bars. So we feel this gives us a unique insight as to what makes a good film and what is an excuse for doing honest work.

You have also been the driving force behind the finest Podcast Festival the world has ever known, the L.A. Pod Fest. What should attendees be looking forward to in 2017? Is it already shaping up to be a pretty amazing event yet again?

This year the LA Podfest have moved to the historic Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. It’s our 6th year and now we have an iconic venue with a lot of showbiz history. Also getting some big name first timers, like Bill Burr, Bobby Lee, Laurie Kilmartin and Bert Kreischer is nice.

And just to add to your amazing versatility, you have created two amazing documentaries about equally amazing experiences with Laffghanistan and Ear Buds. What drove you to enter the world of filmmaking?

My parents took me to the movies as a child and that impacted me. I always wanted to make films and talk about them. The two docs I’ve directed were just being in a unique place at the right time and wanting to tell a larger audience.


As the person I am currently dubbing ‘The Godfather of Podcasting”, I feel like you are the most appropriate person to ask this: What is something you believe to be absolutely crucial to have when starting a podcast that the common person may not know is essential to the process?

Passion and good equipment helps. Also, now you’ve forced me to put a horse’s head in Chris Hardwicks bed.

I have to confess that I became aware of your work because of a podcast that was not yours, but featured you and had me laughing hysterically. It was Doug Loves Movies. You are always a delight to hear on that show. Frankly I become disappointed when I DON’T see your name on the bill. It sounds like you have a lot of fun doing it. So is it fun? What is it that you enjoy about doing the show, and what keeps you coming back besides the advertisement side of things?

DLM is like a cocktail party with a bunch of funny friends where you play movie trivia just to make each other laugh. I’ve had so much fun on that show over the years. I’ve also met some great comics, actors and filmmakers from DLM. It’s a great place to get guests for CFN.


So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Since the election I’ve been more involved with what’s going on in the world. I started a YouTube show, “The Political Vigilante.” I’m a progressive who is done with the two parties and corporate media.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The Thor: Ragnarok trailer.

Find everything you need to know about Graham and how to watch his films and how to listen/see him at the Comedy Film Nerds website.

 

For a quick example of what Comedy Film Nerds has to offer, check out this video of our heroes talking about one of our favorite things in the world, screenwriting!:

Todd Pipes [Interview]

Regular readers here at TWS will definitely notice that we have a HUGE soft spot for “90’s music”. I don’t really believe that this needs to be a genre or labeled as such. But, we just happen to be huge fans of some amazing pop and alternative (another weird name for a “genre”) artists who hit it big in the last decade of the 20th century, and are still going at it hard today. And today is no exception! Todd Pipes will be best known as one of the co-founders of the sensation group we know and love as Deep Blue Something. DBS became a world wide sensation in 1995 with the release of their hit single “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, a song that is a god damn staple for it’s time, and 22 years later, still hits us so damn hard with one of the most catchy choruses you will ever hear.

After a bit of a hiatus, Deep Blue Something came back to us in 2014! But, Todd Pipes has never slowed down, releasing a couple of solo records, producing other artists, and just constantly creating magic each and every time he picks up a guitar and puts his brain to paper, and makes our ears feel the magic. He is also a very delightful human being! So delightful in fact, he took some time out of his busy schedule to share a few words with us! Aren’t you guys just the luckiest god damn readers in the world? So let’s get to it! Ladies and Gentlemen, Todd Pipes!

When did you know that you wanted to be a musician for a living? When do you remember realizing this was to be your calling?

That’s easy: second grade. Three of us on the school bus had discovered KISS by way of some older kids talking. . . It was instantaneous. My mission was actually to somehow join KISS. It’s bizarre to think back on that; there being no transitional period of just liking music as a listener. I was immediately attracted to the bass as well. I realized pretty quickly that they’d be too old to be in a band with, so I was okay with moving ahead on my own. At this point, I started picking out the bass lines to Jeff Lorber’s Fusion album on a toy guitar I had. I remember my dad coming into my room as I was playing along to “Wizard Island” and asking me how I’d learned it. I also remember the look of concern on his face when he exited. Dave Brubeck’s Take Five album was big with me then too. . . Second grade was a big year.

The 90’s were a peculiar time for music, and left us with some of the best work to date, in my opinion. And Deep Blue Something was definitely a major player in the scene. In your personal opinion, what do you believe it is that set you guys apart from the numerous “alternative” acts that came about during this magical period?

I think that, for being so jangly, we had a particular melancholy aspect that made us different. Maybe it came from the overarching influence of the Smiths or the Jesus and Mary Chain; I’m not sure. Our use of the acoustic guitar came straight from Love and Rockets’ Earth, Sun, Moon album (a vibe Ash had already started in Bauhaus). It creates lots of sonic space where Toby could do his echoey lead guitar stuff. We were also definitely a lot less ‘bro-ish’ than the more grungey bands of the time, which was always funny to me—all the physical posturing of these dudes wearing camo-jorts and combat boots, and singing all ‘grrrrr and yerrrrrrllll,’ then you meet them. . .hilarious. . . and you feel like a giant. . .

When you finally had “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” wrapped up in what would be it’s final cut, did you instantly realize that you had a hit single on your hands? And what was it like to find yourself suddenly on top of the charts?

It was actually the first time we played it live. I’d written it one morning (we had a show that night), and we did our typical, “let’s run through the set before we load the gear” thing that we still do, and I asked if we could try a new one to see how it sounded. They agreed, and afterward someone suggested that we just go ahead and play it that night. We assumed there’d be the usual exodus to the bar that immediately follows when a band announces, “here’s a new one we just wrote,” but there wasn’t. We had a solid following by this time, and they connected with it right away. Everyone instinctively knew to jump up and down during the chorus, and I thought, “hmmm, this is interesting.”

As far as “suddenly finding ourselves on the charts,” it definitely wasn’t that way for us. It was a station by station, town by town, state by state, country by country STRUGGLE. Every program director told us that it didn’t fit their format. We played acoustic in so many conference rooms and office lobbies just to try to get them to spin it just one time. If we could get that one play, we’d top the requests and get full rotation on the station. It didn’t even matter where else the song was working . . . Ultimately, we’d literally conquered the world and the geniuses at the UK branch (of our own record company!!) told us, “the British charts are currently dominated by British bands, and you’re so American-sounding that we’re not going to release it—congratulations on your success elsewhere. . .” They were only forced to release it because everyone was buying German imports after they’d heard it on foreign radio which drifted across the English Channel. When we went number one, these same morons showed up backstage at Top of the Pops with a fruit-basket saying “funny ‘ow fings go, innit?” I had to be physically restrained.

Deep Blue Something has recently regrouped, and released the wonderful Locust House EP on Kirtland Records. What was it like getting back into the saddle with the crew after a hiatus? Is it like old times again?

It has been exactly like old times. These are people I spent every waking moment with for years. It’s all of the in-jokes and codified language that you miss. And talking about gear—I’d forgotten how much we talk about gear. Kirk sent us a text a few days ago with a picture of this ultra-rare distortion pedal that he’d just acquired, and we were all, “ahhhhhh.” So much discussion of signal direction flow in cables, and pickup impedances, ohms and tubes. . . sometimes we even get around to writing songs and recording them. . .


In your personal opinion, what is the main difference between DBS’s work today as opposed to say, 20 years ago. What has time and experience granted you all as far as growth?

As with many things, when you can return to the starting point—the source, all of the unspoken reasons for starting all of this become clear. We’re all the way back to just doing it because we enjoy the processes involved in the creation of music. With the passing of all of those years, I’d also had simply forgotten what amazing musicians everyone is. At the time, I always thought of us as a single unit—a band. For some reason while doing the Locust House sessions, the focus was on everyone individually and the whole time I just kept thinking, “it was never this easy when I was producing other bands. . .”

How did Bass Propulsion Laboratories come about? And what are some projects you have had come out of it?

Simply put, one day my wife finally ventured upstairs (where all of the recording equipment that Toby and I had amassed over the years), and we’d taken over the whole place—mics and cables everywhere—drums in one room, guitar amps in other rooms, a control room—and she said, “this is our house! We live here. . .can’t y’all rent a space somewhere?!?!?!” I thought, “yes indeed.” It was named Bass Propulsion Laboratories because we lived near NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratories when I was young. We ran it for years but closed it down a while back—we had everyone from Drowning Pool to DJ Shadow to Maren Morris in there . . . when she first started making records at BPL, she couldn’t even drive. Great times. I ended up building a small studio on our property, where I continue to do mastering projects. As I mentioned earlier, I love gear, and it’s all got to go somewhere. . . My son and his band are making a record in there now.

As you have watched the music world shift dramatically with the digital advancements that have taken place, what are your opinions on its state? What are some positives, as well as downsides, to the way the business has shifted since we moved into a streaming and digital download environment?

The idea that anyone can release a record to the world certainly seems positive, but the reality is that artists find difficulty in anyone ever hearing it. More than ever, artists are in competition for attention–to the point that they’re giving the music away. Everyone is now used to getting their music for free (through gifting, streaming, or stealing), so they don’t value it. I cherished the records I bought as a youth BECAUSE they cost me something. I had to do chores, save birthday money, etc just to be able to buy one, and then ride my bike miles and miles to the record store and back just to hear it. Every band was a personal investment, and because of that I stuck with the bands and their music. Music has now been relegated to commercials and background noise for video games. And yet things do manage to poke through somehow, and band comes along like Ghost. Somehow their music found its way to us from Sweden, and my whole family loves them.

So, what is next for you? You always seem to be gearing up for or in the middle of something cool, what can our readers look forward to in the near future?

DBS is currently writing and recording new stuff; I’ve got projects to mix and/or master. I may finally finish my PhD. . . I’d like to get a tour going.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Yesterday, my son mentioned something he was doing for a girl he’s started dating, and how it would earn him ‘brownie points’ with her. When he left the room, my daughter called me over to ask what exactly ‘brownie points’ were—suspecting there was some sort of merit-based ranking system involved with high-school dating of which she was unaware. I love innocence.

Check out the official video for Deep Blue Something’s 2015 single “Make Believe Off”:

Carry Illinois: Garage Sale [Album]

In my attempts to simply create some background noise during the sometimes bore of editing a website, I wasn’t looking to be moved. I wasn’t looking to feel compelled to stop dead in my digital tracks, and start anew. But, I will be god damned if that didn’t happen when I threw on Garage Sale from the amazing Austin based group Cary Illinois. After only two tracks, just under 8 minutes, I was hooked. What was this gorgeous singer/songwriter led frontier-ship that my ears did hear? I was instantly hooked.

There is something absurdly whimsical about the 8 tracks that make up Garage Sale. It’s sad, but it’s uplifting. It’s catchy yet powerful at the same time. These are qualities that I am constantly searching for in music, but sadly just don’t hear enough of these days. But thankfully, a group like Carry Illinois can come along and make us all believe in the power of music once again. Reading up on the band, I learned that tragedy struck the band hard when their original bassists John Winsor took his own life in March 2016. And this is when I started to understand what was so brilliant with what I was hearing. It was one certain song transition that left me feeling something unexplainable. The beautiful ode to something truly dark entitled “Goodnight”, I would learn was a beautiful bit of poetry dedicated to Winsor’s memory, which made sense. But, then there is this amazing transition from this saddening tale into the uplifting perfectly choreographed track “Electric Charm”. And that is where it hit me. This is a rebirth of self. Garage Sale is a means of continuing on when the storm has passed. It is starting over. It is a proverbial garage sale of all the old memories that have been stewing and causing grief and hopelessness. By slapping a hypothetical price tag on this sadness, and presenting it to the world, front woman Lizzy Lehman and company are able to move on with their lives, yet never forgetting a man who obviously touched their lives so much.

It would behoove me to say that this is one of the greatest track lists I have heard this year. It becomes abundantly clear just how personal these songs are to Lehman, and how fortunate enough we are that she has continued on through her pain to share with us a bit of light even if it may have been extremely hard to do when you are “getting older, seeing darkness you don’t want to see”, to quote the woman herself. And while Lizzy’s brilliant vocals and songwriting are an obvious highlight, it must be pointed out that Darwin Smith shreds perfectly, and keyboardist Derek Morris shines brighter than the sun in his contributions, and is somebody I am definitely going to be keeping tabs on.

I seriously can not recommend Garage Sale enough. This album is 8 tracks of pain-soaked songs that somehow become uplifting in their brutal honesty and perfectly choreographed fortitude. If you’re looking for a bight of light in your darkest days, Carry Illinois is a force you should definitely turn to. I simply cannot say enough great things about this wonderful band that should rightfully be a mainstay in every true music lover’s heart and mind.

Carry Illinois will be officially releasing Garage Sale on May 12th at The Mohawk in Austin, Texas along with acts Star Parks and Lex Land. For more information and tour dates, check out the band’s website for all the details you need to know and love Carry Illinois.

And check out this amazingly produced music video for their track “Alabaster”, performed live at The Ball Farm in Dale Texas:

Christopher Thorn [Interview]


Hey there Everyone! Remember when we used to talk about music a lot? I know that TWS has sort of become the MTV of the blog world, as we have shifted away from the plethora of album and artist reviews we used to do. But, we are so excited about these amazing interview opportunities that have been bestowed upon us. So, how about we combine the two. How about we showcase two of the best guitarists of our generation in one week? And tell you about some new shit you need to hear? Would you like that? Well, that’s what you’re going to get!

Christopher Thorn is the real deal in the modern world of music. For almost 30 years, Thorn has been thrilling audiences and listeners alike as the man behind the guitar for some of the finest acts of the 90’s and through to the present. In fact, he was the driving force behind one of the bands that was posed to be one of the greatest of all time, had tragedy not struck them so hard. I am talking about the legendary 90’s act Blind Melon. With just two albums released, the band was hit hard with the death of their truly unique and talented lead singer Shannon Hoon, that is now widely known. It is honestly hard to tell just what sort of magic Blind Melon might have been able to create had they been able to continue on. But, life doesn’t always work that way. So, we are left with two amazing albums that we can never be taken away from us.

Thorn’s later work has always been on our radar, as he has definitely refrained from diving out of the spotlight. He has continued to work with other amazing acts, as well as releasing his own wonderful projects. But, we will let Chris tell you about them himself! Ladies and gentlemen, Christopher Thorn!

As you were growing up, when did you first decide that you wanted/needed to join the world of music? Do you have any specific memories that still stick out to this day?

By the age of 12 or 13 I knew I wanted to play music and make records for the rest of my life. Once I made that commitment I had a focus and dedication that I never knew I had. I would wake up an hour early before school every day and practice. I had an amazing music teacher at school named Jeff Snyder who would let me practice in the music room during my study halls. I practiced before, during, and after school. I was obsessed and it felt great to find my passion .

As our old friend Marc Maron might ask, Who were your guys? What bands influenced you the most when you were coming up?

My influences are all the obvious ones. Jimmy Page and Keith Richards made me want to play guitar. Once I heard Bob Dylan and Neil Young, my focus changed more so to song writing and the craft of making a song that can drop you to your knees! The Beatles were also a huge influence as far as songs and production.

Would you be able and/or willing to give a brief synopsis of the formation of your first major group, Blind Melon? What were the early days like? And could you even fathom the amount of success you guys would have in such a seemingly short period of time?

I placed an ad in the LA local music mag in 1989 looking for a bass player. I met Brad Smith through that add and about a year later he and Rogers met Shannon. Brad called and said I found an incredible singer and we are looking for another guitar player. I went over and Shannon played me a new song he wrote called ” Change ” – When I met Shannon for the first time I thought this guy is exactly like all the legendary front men I have always read about. I had never met anyone with that much charisma, charm, and talent. He fucking blew my mind from day one. The rest is history as they say.

I don’t think anyone could really fathom that sort of success. I was a country boy from a tiny town in PA and I ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone. To this day when I even hear myself say that it sounds like I’m making it up. It still feel unreal.


Blind Melon struck a chord with the audiences of its time, and for great reasons. During this time of the sort of alternative renaissance as I have heard it called, what do you believe it was that made you guys stick out of the crowd? I know why it is special to me, but what was special for you?

I think we stuck out because we were not grunge. We were lumped in with that scene but we were on our own path. I also think Shannon’s personality and stage presence was a big part of that too .

Can you tell us a bit about Unified Theory that you started with bandmate Brad Smith and fellow rock geniuses Dave Krusen and Chris Shirin?

Unified Theory was a great time. We all got along really well. Brad and I produced the record in our own studios in Seattle and it was the first time we had control over every detail when it comes to the recordings. We toured our asses off and had a blast. I am very proud of the two records we made .

I have also become aware that you spent some time as a member of another group that I consider to be one of the finest rock acts of all time, the band Live. When was your period with this band? And how was this experience unique to you?

I was asked to join the band Live in 1998. I did a short tour including the Tibetan Freedom Concert and made The Distance To Here record with them. Around that same time I met Chris Shinn and I decided I wanted to form my own band. I asked Brad Smith and Dave Krusen to join and we were off and running. My time in Live was amazing . They had sold 20 million records by then and were riding high bu,t my time with them made me realize that starting over and forming my own band was more important than taking the easy road being a side man in Live .

And lets make more with the present, and ask about Sonny Boy Thorn. What can you tell us about this project, and what can the fans of modern times expect to hear, or have been hearing for a while?

In 2012 I toured the world with Awolnation as lead guitar player. I had a blast and it was a privilege to ride the wave of another hit song that I was a part of. The song “Sail” went on to sell 10 million copies but once again, I knew that starting over… ( again) and making my own music was something I had to do. I met Davie Dennis (Singer for SBT) around that time and we started writing songs . We brought in all our friends to help record. Glen Graham from Blind Melon, Matt Flynn from Maroon 5, Hayden Scott from Awolnation, Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters and Jim Keltner ( John Lennon , George Harrison, Joe Cocker and a million more ). It was an incredible experience. We have 20 songs complete and are just trying to figure out the best way to release the music . I truly feel like its the best record I have made since the Soup record .


Besides your own stuff, what are you listening to these days? Do you manage to keep up with the new trends in music?

I listen to a lot of new music . My new favorite band is Mondo Cosmo from LA . I love the Arc’s record as well . Queens of The Stone Age is also a modern fav . When it comes to Hip Hop I’m really digging Post Malone who recorded at my studio last month. He is the real deal and it might sound odd but his charm and charisma reminded me so much of Shannon.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug here?

I have some really big plans for the future that I have been working on. Art projects is all I can say at this point. I think the Melon fans will be very excited when I reveal what I have been working on. I am also excited about the Danny Clinch/Shannon Hoon documentary . It is one of the most unique and intimate films I have ever seen . Shannon shot all of the footage . Its like looking at some ones private journals .

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was Nico Hoon and her mom came out to Joshua Tree to spend time with my family and we all pretty much laughed our asses off for the entire week!

Check out this amazing video for Sonny Boy Thorn’s single “Wild and Free”:

Brandon Crowson [Interview]


I have been wanting to do this one for quite some time folks, and I am so happy to finally get it done. Today’s interview is with filmmaker Brandon Crowson, a man who has delved into a world that we are far too familiar with here at Trainwreck’d Society. Crowson’s debut documentary, The World Has No Eyedea, is a stunning look at the tragically short life of musician and poet Michael “Eyedea” Larsen. Avid readers of the site will know exactly how he fits in to the TWS world. For those of you just joining us (first of all, Welcome!), Michael Larsen has been a figure around here for a very long time. Or dear friend Alexander “Bodi” Hallet (former TWS Person of the Year!) wrote a very touching tale of Michael’s influence on him in what you may call the “prequel” to Trainwreck’d Society, our book Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From the World of Independent Music, and was also a dedicatee in the book. And since then, we have featured his work, and that of his friends for the last 6 years now. He’s a legend, and is sorrily missed.

So, it is quite the honor to have Brandon talk with us today. Brandon is a brilliant young mind with a future that is as bright as the sun. Years ago, Crowson linked up with the late Eyedea’s mother and a friendship was built that has become his amazing documentary, The World Has No Eyedea. Through years of hard working, crowd funding, etc., the film is now out in the world and is currently touring the country side with Brandon at the helm, and uniquely acting as a real solid live show usually featuring Eyedea’s former music partner DJ Abilities. For those of us who have not been able to attend the live shows, we are simply waiting impatiently for the physical release, that simply can’t come soon enough!

We wanted to talk to Brandon basically to see what makes him tick. How does a midwest boy from Minnesota decide he wants to make movies to earn a living. And he was gracious enough to share some very kind stories with us here today! So please enjoy some words with filmmaker Brandon Crowson!

What made you decide to become a filmmaker, working in almost every form of filmmaking? What drew you to this form of artistic expression?

I’ve just always loved storytelling. It fulfills me in a way that nothing else does. I’ve been writing stories as a hobby since I was 6. I didn’t really grow up in a background where the arts was encouraged, so after years of doing construction related jobs I got sick of paying my rent with backaches and went to college for screenwriting. I learned quickly that trying to be a screenwriter living in MN is a dead end, so I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about all aspects of production and started doing freelance video production while I was still in school for screenwriting. No one was giving me the opportunity to get paid to tell stories so I became largely a one man production crew and started making opportunities for myself.

And since you decided to make the commitment to be a full-time creative person, what keeps you inspired to be in the world? What keeps you’re head up when times are tough, and what makes you excited to see happen when they go well?

Honestly, I just love what I do. I’m kind of obsessed with it. I’ve had any number of good and bad jobs over the years, and I would fantasize about doing what I do now at every single one of them. As far as tough times and good times, life is all peaks and valleys. My motivation is always the same, I have to survive capitalism and provide for my kids. Only difference is now I literally never have days where I hate going to work. I have stressful days sure, but it’s different. There’s a certain pride of ownership that comes with working for yourself. And nothing touches the feeling of sitting in a packed theater and watching a room full of people look at your work and laugh when you wanted them to laugh and cry when you wanted them to cry.


You’ve been screening your documentary debut,The World Has No Eyedea, to audiences across the globe over the last year and some change alongside performances by DJ Abilities and more. What has the reaction with audiences been like? What has the feedback been like for the film and these events as a whole?

Overwhelming in all the best ways. Laughter, tears, cheering, more tears. No one’s called it boring yet. We’ve literally been selling out theaters everywhere, won awards, and sold out in countries Eyedea’s never been to, so I feel like I didn’t screw it up.

Is there any word on when fans will be able to check out the film from their homes? Are there VOD or physical releases set to happen in the future?

Hopefully May. That’s all I can say right now. We’re trying to release it online and on DVD at the same time, so obviously that involves working with bigger companies and waiting on their timelines.


Being from the area and knowing the scene quite well, what do you believe it is about the Minneapolis that has made it a hotbed for alternative hip hop? And does the city still have flare it had 15-20 years ago as its popularity has risen?

We’re definitely a city that has a lot more diversity than most midwest cities. So you get all these different perspectives and skills living in the same city. Add to that the fact that everyone has to lock themselves in their homes for the most part in the winter. The winter creates a lot of opportunities to get your skills up and create as you have to do something to stave off the madness that comes with sub zero temperatures and lack of sunlight.

Plus, obviously, Rhymesayers. That whole crew built something truly amazing over the last 20 years and created a lot of opportunities, as well as provided a lot of inspiration for Minneapolis artists, hip hop or otherwise.

You have been known to tackle just about every aspect of the filmmaking process, much like a Robert Rodriguez of sorts, which I can only imagine brings on a bit of stress. So I’m curious, what would you say is your favorite aspect of filmmaking? What part of it do you enjoy the most?

If you’d asked me this question a few years ago I would’ve said screenwriting. My 3 favorite parts now are writing, directing, and editing. In a perfect world, that’s all I’d do is write, direct, and edit one movie a year, every year until I die as an old man by tripping over one of my Oscars and breaking my neck.

What is next for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

Who wants to see Slug throw fire at people? My next movie is titled The Different. It’s a sci-fi/action piece that’s heavy in social commentary. I wrote it myself. I have Slug attached to play a character, which as a huge Atmosphere fan still feels weird to say out loud. There’s a couple larger production companies that are considering funding it right now, but I’m not counting on that. So we’re making a mini web series set in the world of The Different that will be used as part of the crowd funding campaign to get us the budget to make the film. We’re almost done with post production on webisode 1. I’m excited about it. I think it looks really good.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son Griffin. He’s a toddler. 7/10 times that kids the reason I’m smiling on any given day.

Sadistik: Altars [Album]

It is absolutely insane to stop and think about what time can do to us all. It has almost been 6 full years since I first wrote a few words on this very site about the “underground” sensation that was/is Sadistik. “The bourbon in the espresso” I called him. And I will still stand by that one. So 6 years and  3 albums later, I can still only find great words to say about the legendary moody rapper that is Sadistik. He is a man who is constantly perfecting his craft, and always getting better at it as you can all hear right now on his latest album, Altars.

Altars is an album that brings us back a bit. It is a brilliant collection of poetry that is reminiscent of Flowers For My Fathers, in only that it reminds me personally of what it was that made me fall in love with this guy’s work. I’ve constantly referred to this man as “your favorite indie rocker’s favorite rapper”, and with Altars he only proves my point further. Just listen to “Roaches” and try to soak in all of the elements that went into telling this very dark story. You will soon realize that Sadistik is so much more than just a dude spitting bars over a some sounds with a heavy bass line. But, that is if you are a new listener, of course. Die hard listeners of Sadistik will definitely not be too surprised by some of the insane content he provides on Altars, but I guarantee they will be pleased! This dude has branded himself very nicely as the dark horse in the rap game, and his latest album proves just why he is the king of moody and gothic oriented hip hop.

With a solid track list, and some very nice cameos from old favorites like Kristoff Kane and P.O.S., Altars is an album that is destined to go down in history as one of his finest collections of poetry to date. Because in the long sighted view of his career, that is what Sadistik truly is: A fucking poet. And Altars is a brilliant addition to his catalogue that you absolutely must hear.

While we are sadly a bit behind in getting our words out to you, there is still time to catch Sadistik on tour with wonderful support from the great Nacho Picasso and the stellar Rafael Vigilantics, especially those of you out there in the cold midwest. And if you weren’t able to catch him on this round, you can definitely rest assure that Sadistik is far from being done with you. The demons in this man’s mind have to freed, and he will sure release them upon you for many years to come.

To check out Altars in it’s beautiful entirety, just go HERE.

 

 

Check out this amazingly produced video for the single “Free Spirits”:

Cas One Vs. Figure: So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us [Album]

By the time you are reading this, Cas One and Figure will be wrapping up their nation wide tour in support of this album (I believe they are in Portland Maine tonight!), and the explosion of So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us should have already exploited your ear holes and hearts and sad minds by now. So, just consider this a fan note if you will. And if you haven’t quite gotten around to hearing this incredible album, stop what you are doing, and either go listen to the album right now, or just park your running car in a garage and sit there, because I don’t want to know you. It’s that serious, People! I am going to straight up say it here and now…So Our Egos Don’t Kills Us is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. A bold statement, I know, but arguable to the death. It’s just that damn good!

Long time readers will know that we have proverbially been on Jacob “Cas One” Snider’s nuts for quite sometime. We’ve even covered SOEDKU‘s debut single “Murder Media”, which is still a gem from the album, but just one of 15 now that we are hearing it all. I’ve personally talked about how his opening bars on the track “Savior Self”, released by another old friend Sadistik, are some of the most pivotal words ever put to record. And his long time connection with another dear friend of ours, Alexander “Bodi” Hallet, has come up from time to time. And I’m only bringing that last part up because Bodi produced another one of the finest hip hop albums, of all time, The Fall of Atlas, just a few years ago, and I want it to be on record when I say that So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us is the best hip hop album since Atlas. It is truly fascinating how amazing this album is, and I can’t express enough just how infatuated I am with it. There is a power in this duo that I simply was not expecting to hear, and am so happy with how surprised I am by its power. I knew I was going to love this record, but I didn’t realize just how fucking amazed I was going to be by it. And that is always a treat.

I will admit, I was not aware with the work of the 50% of this record, the widely successful in the electronic genre, Figure. I had honestly only heard his name brought up by Cas One himself. Upon further investigation, I realized that this was a big fucking deal. Figure has been one of the leading DJ’s in the industry for quite sometime. But, not being a part of that world, I was still clueless as to what Figure would bring to the table. And then I heard it. Holy shit, did I hear it. It is suffice to say that I can guarantee that I would not be as obsessed with this album if it were not for the beats that Figure provided and garnered strength for each track on this album. Snider is one of the greatest wordsmiths in the world of hip hop right now, and I will definitely get into that, but I have to say….with the production that Figure added to this album, this album could have been just Cas One reading the phone book in his best Mickey Mouse impression, and it would have surely still have been pretty dope. What I grab most from the music of Figure on this album, is the space. Through whatever spiritual algorithm that goes through this guys head, he knows how to fill the space in a track, with a perfectly delicate yet rash precision. He doesn’t over do it with extravagance, but he still manages to hold NOTHING back. It’s down right fucking brilliant how this man can fill the space perfectly on each and every track on this album. It flows together so beautiful that Cas One’s lyrics become just another piece of the the masterful jigsaw puzzle that is So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us. So simplify it all, it is fucking perfect!

And to make it all spin right back around, this album is a prime example of lyrical excellence! Though Cas One could have phoned it in on top of the beautiful production, we knew that just wasn’t what he is about. I honestly don’t believe it is possible. Jacob is known to cut deep. I honestly wasn’t sure how he could top his work on his last solo album, The Monster and the Wishing Well, but the motherfucker did it once again proving that his talent is almost unparalleled in the rap game. Whether he is making a political statement, or he is exposing is most inner demons for your god damned entertainment, he is telling a haunting tale that everyone should take heed form. There is a subtle difference on So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us from his previous work that has to be addressed as well….it’s not ALL sad shit! Jacob actually tends to lighten up a bit on some tracks (i.e. “Razor Blade Mark” and is 50 ft vape cloud), and proves that he doesn’t have to be brooding to tell an amazing story. His stories on this album will surely answer the questions that fellow followers of him in the social media world have surely been asking themselves, “How is the guy who writes all of these sad ass songs, so damn funny!”. Well, one quick listen through this album will give you all the answers. The album is not without darkness, of course, but beyond that darkness is a light that is undeniable and starts to shine through in a huge way. Cas One provides a perfect emotional balance within Figure’s perfectly filled musical space.

I won’t attempt to try and analyze each track on this album, as it would take a novel length set of  descriptors to truly do so, but I do have to point out that Cas One has some amazing company on this record to go along with his brooding yet light-hearted at times lyrics. There are some legendary names on this record even. Being that the album is a Strange Famous release, it was excellent to hear Sage Francis appear on “Time Bomb”, who will ALWAYS deliver. And of course, Del the Funky Homosapien and Carnage the Executioner fucking KILL on a track that is heavy on the old school vibe, “Lone Wolves”. And P.O.S. is on there murdering as well. These are golden names here, people. It should be no surprise that they brought an additional amazing element to this record. But, if I have to choose a favorite addition to the record, it would be difficult to choose one, so I have to make it a two way tie between Sean Little’s hilarious antidotes on the battle rap themed “I Should Just Warn You” and the return of Bitter Stephens on “Madness”. Stephens appeared twice on Monster and the Wishing Well, and was always a highlight to me. But, this is without a doubt one of the best verses I have heard from this cat to date. He absolutely slays in his role on this seminal album.

Look, I just have to say it one more time for you all….This is one of the finest hip hop albums I have ever heard! I come at this from a fan of lyrically based, or “alternative” as it may be called in some circles, hip hop music, and not just as another desperate for views Blogger with low self esteem and anxiety issues. I am absolutely in awe of So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us, if I haven’t quite made that abundantly clear. This is a brilliant collection of tracks that will forever be engrained into my mind as a reminder of why I love hip hop music so much. Very few artists today manage to bring this emotion out in me. Barely a handful actually, and the majority of them have actually already been mentioned in these words! The greatest take away from this pivotal album would have been that with the musical stylings of Figure and the lyrical madness that Cas One creates, Cas One Vs. Figure is a project that proves once again that hip hop IS an art form, and should be respected as such. If more artists would treat it with the respect that these cats have, the lack of respect would not exist. So, I implore each and every single one of you…..don’t just listen to So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us, experience it! I honestly don’t know how you could treat this album as anything short of a full on experience that will torture and delight your heart and mind. Again, it is that damn good!

Pick up a copy of So Our Egos Don’t Kills us directly from the Strange Famous website, available on vinyl, CD, cassette, and MP3.

Also you can catch a back end of their tour with DJ Abilities and B. Dolan. East coast get on it!

As a bonus for you fine folks, please check out this amazing music video for “Staying Gold”: