This week we have the pleasure of featuring a wonderful group of Danes known as Alcoholic Faith Mission. Over the years the Scandinavian six-piece has booked Sonicgigs like CMJ, SXSW, and Canadian Music Fest. When I found out that they would be playing in Boston as part of their North American tour to promote their newest record Ask Me This, I had to reach out and invite them over for the afternoon.
After recruiting Sonicbids colleague and sound engineer Andy to help me out, we headed over to our friend's Somerville apartment to prepare for what we had dubbed a “porch session.” What resulted was an inspiring performance from the band on two new tracks– “Running With Insanity” and “We Need Fear.” Each time I listen to the recordings I get goosebumps, maybe because it was my first foray into recording live sessions, or most likely because AFM’s songwriting will do that to you.
Take a look at both videos below and read on for an interview that we did AFM members Thorben Seierø Jensen (lead vocals, guitar), Kristine Permild (vocals, percussion) and Morten Hyldahl (drums) after their performance on the porch.
Sonicbids: What is it like taking the new songs from Ask Me This on to the stage? Have you found them to be evolving or changing over the course of the tour?
Kristine Permild: There is a huge difference between the recorded versions and the live versions because I think already when we had to transform our album Let This Be The Last Night We Care we knew that we weren’t able to translate the same sound. Our recorded songs are very layered, tons and tons of layers on top of each other, and we decided that we’re not able to produce the same sound on stage.
Thorben Seierø Jensen: We work on how to create a cool live ambience and atmosphere within the songs. Like Kristine said, we have tons of layers on the recordings, but we try to peel it down and weed out the stuff that is needed for the audio experience, but not necessarily the visual experience.
SB: What do you find is the biggest difficulty when you’re trying to figure out how to take each song and turn it into something that can be performed live?
KP: I think that the toughest thing is that sometimes in a song there’s something, like in “Got Love? Got Shellfish!”, where it’s so driven and it was really difficult to reproduce that song. You’ve got to kill your darlings and explore new good things in the songs, because sometimes the things that you really love about a song are impossible to reproduce live.
SB: What is your favorite song from the new record to play live?
TSJ: My favorite is “I’m Not Evil,” I love to play that song live.
KP: I like “Alaska” and I like “We Need Fear,” that’s a fun song to play.
Morten Hyldahl: We don’t play it that often, but “Throw Us To The Wolves,” I love playing that one a lot.
SB: One of our favorite things about Alcoholic Faith Mission is the music videos that you have made for a lot of your songs. Could you tell us a little bit about the process behind creating all of those videos over the years?
TSJ: We work with a guy named Matthew Thompson, as well as a German director named Bryn Chainey and then we work with a Danish director named Kristian Foldager. They have an idea for one of the songs, they have the imagery in their head and want to follow up on that idea. We give them carte blanche to do whatever they want because we’d like to focus on doing the music and not be all over the place. We like to let other people do what they do best and hopefully we can do what we do best.
KP: We’ve been very lucky, the people that have contacted us have actually made videos that are very picturesque and with beautiful cinematography. I hope this is because our music speaks to the images, because that is why we like making music videos.
When I first saw Rubblebucket at a summer concert series in my tiny hometown, I got hooked on the band’s danceable grooves and flair for putting on an entertaining and interactive show. It took two years and a handful of shows in between to finally catch up with the band at our SXSW party at Maggie Mae’s last week and with plenty of live energy and even a couple of robots (see our own Kate taking on the machine in the clip of “Came Out of a Lady” below) it was easy to see that the Brooklyn via Vermont group stole the show. The band played a variety of songs from their catalog and even showed off a brand new song called “Deeper Rage” (see video below).
I asked them about their trip to Austin, their highlights from SXSW and what goes in to creating their impressive live shows. Read on below to see what Kalmia, Adam, Ian and David had to say.
Sonicbids: What was it like travelling to Austin with seven people and two robots?
Rubblebucket: It was better than it usually is, we usually have nine people and four robots. The robots all pack down though into a little travelling case that has all the amenities that robots love.
Sonicbids: You guys have always had creative ideas to bring a new flavor to your live shows, whose idea was it to get the robots involved?
Rubblebucket: We toured with this band Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt! and their whole deal is that type of stuff times a million. Their whole stage is covered with insanity. We were really inspired by them and we were like, do you have any ideas for us to bring more of a spectacle to our show? They came up with a bunch of ideas and we liked the robot one the best.
Sonicbids: What has been the highlight of your week so far here at SXSW?
Rubblebucket: We caught Lee Fields who put on an incredible show and Reptar too, they were amazing. They have exceptionally fun dance music. Unfortunately the sound was awful at their set, but they just trooped through it and made it work. Gardens and Villa were great as well. We played with them at a showcase so we got to see those guys twice; they’re real nasty.
Oh and the bbq, we went to this place called Ruby’s last night and they have all of this grass fed organic beef, the most tender brisket we have ever had.
Sonicbids: Could you talk to us a little bit about the new live DVD that you guys have coming out?
Rubblebucket: There’s this group called Audiotree that is a production company in Chicago and they came to shoot the show at The Double Door. We didn’t really have anything in mind for the video, but it came out amazing so we knew we had to use it. The Double Door is an incredible venue, they have this really awesome lighting setup, the space is great and of course it helped that the crowd was into it. The whole video came out very nicely so we thought, why not share it?
Sonicbids: Obviously your live shows are very interactive, what goes into planning out your set during rehearsals?
Rubblebucket: What rehearsals? We tour a lot so we have built up the show mostly on experience from a bunch of years of playing together. We don’t rehearse nearly as much as most bands do. In the last three years we’ve done maybe 15 rehearsals and 10 of those have probably been in the last year. All of the songs get refined mostly on the road and since we play a lot of shows we get used to them quickly.
You can catch Rubblebucket next in a city near you by checking out their tour page and let us tell you, you definitely don’t want to miss it.
Last Friday was certainly a busy day for the Sonicbids crew down at SXSW. Our official showcase featured 12 bands playing alternating 30 minute sets on the upstairs and downstairs stages on Maggie Mae’s. This led to a non-stop stream of rock n roll from 11:30am until 6pm, but we still made some time to catch up with our opening act and JanSport Battle of the Bands winner Hotfox.
So how did 5 college kids from Bloomington, Indiana end up playing at SXSW? Lead singer Oliver Hopkins explained, “We knew buddies of ours from Bloomington called The Broderick had won the JanSport contest through Sonicbids a couple years ago so when that opportunity came up again this year and we got the email, we went ahead and submitted our song ‘Mountain Tiger.’”
Drummer Michael Preuschl continued, “Once we got into the top 50 we had a grassroots campaign and put the information on our social media sites and told our friends and our families to help get people to vote for us.” When the band hit the rarified air of the top 5 vote getters, bassist Marcus Tedesco said that they all had a collective moment of, “Woah, we could actually win this.”
Luckily for the band, Marcus’ Spiderman-esque intuition proved to be true. But what were the tactics that helped the band to separate themselves from the rest of the pack when it came to collecting votes? Preuschl immediately credited the band’s loyal fans, “We have some pretty awesome fans, both in Bloomington and Indianapolis and it was the support of our loyal fans that ultimately got us here."
Mobilizing fans to vote during the JanSport battle was certainly an important part of the band’s journey to SXSW, but percussionist Colin Van Wye told us that the key may have been, “Not calling my parents for money for the first time. When I was calling them it was like ‘no no no I don’t need money, I just need your vote.’”
There’s a lesson to be learned here for all of you bands aspiring to play SXSW next year—appreciate your fans and stop asking your parents for money.
This fall Sonicbids teamed up with the City Arts Fest in Seattle to help one luckySonicbids artist perform at the festival. After reviewing almost 300 submissions City Arts selected The Nameless of Portland, Oregon to perform on the opening night of the festival. Sonicbids helped The Nameless get to Seattle with a $500 travel stipend and after the festival was over I had a chance to catch up with multi-instrumentalist Stephen Pancerev to chat about the band, their trip to Seattle and their experience at the festival.
The seeds for The Nameless were planted when Stephen and vocalist Kelly Grohs met while working at the “infamous” Le Bistro Montage in Portland. “Kelly and I were co-workers for years and had rambled through a few bands together, but then I moved to Providence for 5 years and it wasn’t until I came back that I decided I wanted to A) pursue my passion in playing guitar and piano and B) do that with Kelly in some context.”
Stephen calls Kelly’s voice “inspiring” and once they began writing tunes together, the rest of the lineup fell together naturally with friends and fellow musicians Galen Clark on keys, Bill Athens on bass and Dan Duval on guitar. After honing their craft around Portland, the band felt confident going into their big gig at City Arts. “We all traveled separate because we all have our own little lives going on, but Kelly and I went up together. It’s a quick drive, if you speed, which we did, so the ride itself was uneventful. Once we got up there the owner of the venue introduced herself, and made us feel very comfortable.”
The venue was Rendezvous, a converted movie theatre where critics used to gather to preview films. “It was a place where film industry people would have a meal or a drink and then move into the film room and preview films of the day. It was this tiny, little, beautiful, intimate room that was really great to play in, because it completely made the audience and us, the performers, feel completely focused. It’s a dark environment with no distractions, and it is literally just a room to observe. Everything in the room was just focused on the music, which made it a great place to perform. When we started playing it ended up being a full audience and we got a very favorable response. Kelly and I and the boys certainly enjoyed playing, we had a grand ole time.”
And what was the best moment of the trip?
“The feeling of the band gathering in the Rendezvous before the show and all of us just feeling the energy of the room and the people there. Knowing that we were all there in that moment and at that time and at the place gives you great comfort. Life can be fleeting and those types of moments are almost miracles, when you can be together at the same place and do something that has some semblance of what it is you see yourself accomplishing in life. When we all made it up there and it all came to fruition, it really hit me and that moment made me realize the fact that we were invited by someone we didn’t know and that it all happened through Sonicbids, it had a transformative power to it.”
After their trip to Seattle The Nameless are back at work, playing as many shows as possible in and around Portland and have plans to make a new record within the next two years. Make sure to check the Sonicbids blog regularly for opportunities to get your band’s travel paid for by Sonicbids!
As we all know, music brings people together. Here’s another incredible story where music has crossed cultural and geographical boundaries and brought together two Sonicbids artists who live nearly 5000 miles apart.
After Brooklyn’s Nello Luchi saw Sao Paulo’s Nana Rizinni featured on the Soncibids homepage she took a listen to the music and liked it so much that she reached out to Nana. After 6 months of connecting over social networks, the two have now co-wrote a song together, shot an incredible video, and created a lifelong friendship. “Sao Brooklyn” is the fusion of two artists who came from completely different backgrounds and musical styles, but the finished product is an undeniably cohesive effort. Check out the video for “Sao Brooklyn” below as well as an interview with Nana and Nello along with some behind the scenes footage of how the video was made.
Sonicbids: How did this whole project come about?
Nana Rizinni: It was around June this year. Nello and I both are on Sonicbids, and Nello wrote me an e-mail through the Sonicbids website saying she liked my music, and sent me the link to her EPK. When I heard the music, and saw some videos of hers, I thought “Wow. This girl is for real, she’s got the attitude, she knows what she’s saying, and she is just so real.” That is what gets me going in music, so we started chatting once in a while on the net and became virtual friends.
Nello Luchi: It was pretty interesting to me you know, I never really listened to anyone’s music from Brazil. I don’t know too much about the Portuguese language, but it just so happened that Nana speaks English and I thought oh cool, so I hit her up and she actually liked my music and the rest is history.
Sonicbids: After you guys had begun talking, who had the idea to record a song together and what was that process like living in separate continents?
Nana Rizinni: I asked Nello if she would be down in doing a song with me, and she liked the idea, so we started talking about what would be cool to write about. I had a friend from Sao Paulo, Andre Henrique, who wrote the song with me. The parts that I sing, I wrote and Nello’s parts, she wrote. Since my style is more electro pop rock, and hers is hip-hop, I wanted to find the right producer for the song. Felipe Vassao was the guy. He produced the top Brazilian hip-hop artist Emicida, and also a few rock bands. We didn’t know each other, but I found him, and explained our idea to him. He dug it so we made it happen.
After that the process itself was pretty simple-- I had the instrumental part ready, I sent it to Nello (via Dropbox), and with my vocal parts as a guide, she recorded her vocals. Then she sent us the file with her voice and Felipe finished it here. Sonicbids: And the concept for the lyrical content of the song, how did that come about?
Nana Rizinni: Nello and I would chat on the net, and talk about life, and what it is like to be an artist here in Brazil and in NYC, and so we decided to talk about that in the song. It was pretty natural, since it was actually what we were talking about as a conversation. Since I was going to NYC to film the video, we thought it would be nice to get Nello to show me around her neighborhood, her life... The video starts with me getting in a train in Sao Paulo and then ending up in Brooklyn (how amazing if that were possible!), and experiencing a little bit of Nello’s life. Even though we are from different countries, with different cultures and tons of other differences, there are so many similarities, and one of them is the struggle to make it as an artist.
Sonicbids: What was the most enjoyable part of creating the song and video together?
Nello Luchi: We are on different sides of the world so as Nana mentioned, she recorded her part in Brazil and I recorded my part in NYC and we actually heard the full finalized track maybe about three days before the video shoot. The most enjoyable moment of the video was that I introduced Nana to my world, my city, my borough and it was fun. We had a great time, we hung out with the kids at the park, did a brownstone scene, did a rooftop scene and just hanging out with everyone from Brazil was a great experience.
Nana Rizinni: It was fun from the beginning... The idea of doing a song with someone you have never met, and then going to her hometown and shooting a video! Sounds crazy, and it was! It was pretty wild, but everyone put their heart into this project, so it couldn’t go wrong. We didn’t have much money for a big production, but when you have friends, you have everything. It was amazing, one of the best trips of my life!
Check out the making of "Sao Brooklyn" right here: