Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Listen Up: Spaceface

Posted By on Tue, Dec 26, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Matthew Strong, Eric Martin, Jake Ingalls and Daniel Quinlan of Spaceface - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Matthew Strong, Eric Martin, Jake Ingalls and Daniel Quinlan of Spaceface
Peter Armstrong and Miles Young of Spaceface. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Peter Armstrong and Miles Young of Spaceface.

What was the idea behind Spaceface when it formed six years ago?

“I think back then, we just wanted to make a psychedelic party happen,” said Jake Ingalls, frontman/vocalist and guitarist in the band that includes guitarist/vocalist Eric Martin, bass player Matthew Strong, keyboard player Daniel “Big Red” Quinlan, backup vocalist/keyboard player Peter Armstrong and drummer Miles Young.

“We were all probably on Adderall in college and stuff like that, so everything that we were writing was a little bit more fast paced and kind of manic,” Martin said. “We wanted to have this sort of freak-out sound. In your face. Super loud. Which is not something that we’ve gone away from, but I think that we’ve sort of made parts a little more emotional as opposed to rock and roll. There’s no element that’s missing with that, but less garage punk, more concert hall psychedelic.”

Spaceface will hold its New Year’s Eve Celebration at Young Avenue Deli. They’ve added two half-rotating disco balls, more lasers, a balloon drop, more confetti and a photo booth that will text the photos and GIF to the subject right away. “We’re trying to make it a fantastical New Year’s event,” Ingalls said.

The first 100 people to show up will get a free pair of chromadepth glasses. “They’re basically 3d glasses except they’re a little bit sharper. Instead of having a blue lense and red lense, t there are these little microfilaments that highlight the whole spectrum of what you can see. Rather then just reds and blues, there’s pinks and yellows and greens. It will make the overall night super trippy. They’re meant to highlight the 3d feature of the show that I’ve designed.”

Spaceface has come a long way since its first show at Lamplighter Lounge. “We paid Andy Mueller in beer to stand up on the pool table and hold a laser on us,” Ingalls said.

In six years, Spaceface has bought “just an embarrassing amount” of equipment, Ingalls said. “I’d say it started off drums, bass, guitar and keys. And then six different Christmas (lights) nets. Add the blue Christmas net and then added floor lights. And then we added the color-changing LED strands. First there were two or three, then there were eight and then there were four floor lights. And then there were eight floor lights.

“At the pinnacle of the Christmas light show last New Year’s Eve it was one laser, three different monoliths with four nets on each. They all had alternating colors. Eight strands of color-changing LEDs.”

They upgraded their light show this year. “Now it’s five sound reactive LED panels that all have videos and sound triggers. It’s all this crazy stuff. Each song is a different scene, so it’s a little more dynamic. Eric has the same guitar, but we all have different amps and cords and pedals and stuff. I think the one thing that hasn’t changed is the fot machine.”
They bought the fog machine for $300 for their second show.

“I think all of us, we grew up seeing people with a lot of pageantry - The (Flaming) Lips, Of Montreal or even ACDC,” Ingalls said. “They have all this crazy stuff that just elevates the experience. I think we just kind of knew that’s what we wanted to do. And on whatever scale that was possible.”

“It didn’t matter what we sounded like,” Martin said. “We just got to look cool.”

The band has stayed together so long because they’ve “just got a good crew of people,” Ingalls said. “I feel like everybody’s got their own little part they can do to help out. I always forget that we’re all old friends. And dorks.”

“Sadly, we have a lot of dear friends of ours in bands that have failed or re-named themselves and just basically started shit over at square one,” Martin said.

“You’ll go and see other bands and their drummer will have previously stolen some of their gear and be all smacked out on heroin or something,” Ingalls said. “You’re like, ‘Good God, man. Sort yourself out!’ I couldn’t imagine. I think we’ve all known each other long enough that we’re not going to let anybody be too sketchy.”

Spaceface released its first full-length album, “Sun Kids,” last April. “We’ve had a string of singles and features and EPs, but this was the first full-length,” Ingalls said. “Eleven songs.”

They just felt it was time to do a full-length album.. “We had enough songs. It was time.”

Ingalls and Jarod Evans at Blackwatch Studios in Norman, Oklahoma co-produced the album, which was recorded buy Calvin Lauber at Ardent and The Grove in Cordova.

The album includes a range of subject matter, Ingalls said. “Matt wrote some of the lyrics about a couple of friends of ours that have taken their own lives. Some of them are about totally realizing that what you’re doing at the time isn’t what you want to do at all and taking a different path. One of them is about just having an excellent day with your buds.”

The album is supposed to be a day at home with Spaceface. “The first track starts out with some background noise and birds chirping and stuff like that,” Quinlan said. “It doesn’t necessarily sound like waking up, but it sounds like walking out of your porch door, getting in the car, putting the windows down.”

The album ends with “Anything at All,” a song Ingalls wrote when he was 16. The song conjures up a starry night with crickets chirping.

“Eric and I spoke extensively beforehand about trying to get away from the super sci-fi sounds that were dominating the psych scene at the time and trying to make something earthy,” Ingalls said. “I spent the next year sort of collecting found sounds from just everyday life. There are birds from when we were hanging out at Overton Park. That ‘Anything at All’ track has water slapping from the docks by Eric’s boat.

“There just seemed to be this sort of heavy synth, heavy phasers and effects-y stuff. We had talked about trying to sound more natural. It didn’t seem like there was anybody in the psych scene making something that sounded like ‘Ventura Highway,’ which we really dig.”

Where did the name “Sun Kids” come from? “I would say we’re Sun Kids,” Ingalls said. “It’s just if you like to walk around barefoot or go hang out in the park.”

“I think we were going to call the record ‘Children of the Sun’ or something like that,” Quinlan said. “That’s a little more foreboding or ominous sounding. We’re dorks and goofy, so ‘Sun Kids’ was just easy.”

“Earth and Awe” was another idea. “It was too epic for the feel good nature of the record,” Ingalls said.

Young is the newest Spaceface member. “He’s less like, ‘Look at all these things that I can do,’” Strong said. “He’s way more like, ‘Man, I’m just having fun playing drums with these guys.’”

Spaceface broke its record last year, playing more than 60 shows. “I’ve gained 25 pounds and easily lost hundreds of hours of sleep,” Ingalls said.

Ingalls and Strong have been on the road 90 percent of the year working with The Flaming Lips. Ingalls performs and records and Strong is a technician and performed on one occasion. “We don’t get to jam around and be goofy as often as we used to,” Ingalls said.

“Writing stuff is kind of like recording here and there an idea Eric had, an idea Jake and I worked on and sending it in group emails so everyone can see it and listen to it,” Quinlan said.

As for future plans, Ingalls said, “Over the course of this past year, we had a lot of friends and artists do remixes of different songs from ‘Sun Kids.’ This next year, we’ll be releasing one remix each month paired with the instrumental master of the song and all of the individual track files so people can download them and make their own Spaceface remixes. There will be a page on our website for folks to submit their remixes. At the end of the year we’ll pick our favorites and press them on a record with the original remixes we released. We’ll probably throw in some extra soundscape tunes and maybe some stray singles along the way.”

And, he said, “We’ve got a guy in Columbus, Ohio, Robonus Records, who wants to get one of these singles and put it in a seven inch that has an actual meteorite ground up on the inside of it.”

More stage effects are on tap. “Right now we’re writing lights to our music,” Martin said. “Eventually, we can start writing music for the lights or vice versa.”

“I’ve already bought stuff that isn’t being used yet,” Ingalls said. “I have two half rotating disco balls that I want to do something with. There’s two Guitar Heros with two blue lasers. I want to get people in suits kind of duking it out and then alternately shooting each other. And the mirror balls - if you shoot at that, it’ll just be crazy.

“We always joke that if we wanted to make any money, then we’d start being a production company instead of a band.”

"Carnivore" from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Rock Against Racism Rises Again

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 5:01 PM

The Subteens
  • The Subteens
For those who came of age in the first blush of punk rock, before it was codified into a “sound,” the movement known as “Rock Against Racism” was a clarion call of the new aesthetic. Even as it coalesced into a series of concerts in London's East End, it sprang from a broader social movement that challenged and inspired bands to inject more political awareness into their sound. Nonetheless, it certainly was triggered by a musical event: Eric Clapton, during a 1976 show in Birmingham, launched into an anti-immigrant rant and endorsed U.K. ultra-nationalist Enoch Powell. It was the death knell, in a way, for any claim that classic rock had on the music's original rebellious spirit. Taking up the mantle, and filled with disgust at the entitlement that Clapton expressed, was a new guard of punks and activists.

In my teenage years, as all this was going down, Rock Against Racism was more abstract, but I knew it fomented some great compilation albums, featuring the likes of the Mekons, Elvis Costello, X-Ray Spex, the Specials, or, maybe my favorite at the time, the Stiff Little Fingers. It grew into a conceptual concert series that spanned multiple years and multiple genres, as the first wave of rebellion splintered into a thousand different styles.

For many years afterward, RAR seemed an artifact of its time, as politically subversive music ebbed away and the splintering of genres continued apace into the new century. But with the current climate of rabid nationalism and bigotry, epitomized by the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and other American “alt right” groups, emboldened by a bullying loudmouth who fulfills their most garish fantasies of authoritarianism, Rock Against Racism is relevant again.

Cue the indie Memphis rock scene, who will gather at the Hi Tone this Saturday to bring Rock Against Racism into the 21st Century. Making use of both stages at the venue, the gathering will bring together The Subteens, Pezz, The Gloryholes, Negro Terror, Arizona Akin & The Hoodrat Hyenas, who will donate all door proceeds to Bridges USA
Negro Terror at Our Scene United - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Negro Terror at Our Scene United

The nonprofit's mission states: “In greater Memphis, young people’s day-to-day interactions and relationships are racially, ethnically, socially, economically and/or religiously segregated. These are huge divides that block collaboration, trust-building, mutual understanding and empathy. Our intensive training teaches not only respect for diversity and inclusion, but it also builds skills for the 21st Century like creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, effective citizenship and social responsibility.”

Such a radically inclusive vision is sorely needed today, according to co-organizer and Subteen member Mark Akin. “I work about a block from immigration court and have for the last seven years," he says. And all of a sudden, in the last three or four months, every day there are families of brown people, all dressed up and looking slightly anxious, making their way to immigration court, mostly Hispanic and Middle Eastern. The Subteens has never been a political band, ever. It's just never really been our thing. But it seems like now, you almost have to pick a side. Anybody that disagrees with what the current administration is doing has to stand up and say 'I disagree.' The luxury days are over now. The luxury of keeping your mouth shut and your head down doesn't exist anymore. Those of us with a conscience have a responsibility to do something. And this is something we can do. To donate the money to Bridges is a very useful endeavor.”

Pezz has long been on the more political side of the local hardcore scene. Negro Terror packs a political punch simply by virtue of being one of the few African American hardcore bands on the scene. Others, like the Subteens, simply want to rock and roll. But all are committing themselves to a larger vision of justice and inclusiveness. The original activists behind Rock Against Racism would surely approve, though Eric Clapton might still take some convincing.

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