Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Hate Led Zeppelin

Confession Time. I hate Led Zeppelin. That's not true. I don't hate them, I just never bought into all the hype.

I tried. Especially in high school. I even drew the ZoSo symbols from their fourth album on the white rubber part of my black Chuck Taylors in 9th grade. I chalk it up to peer pressure.
Robert Plant has a cool voice; Agreed. Jimmy Page is a solid guitar player; No argument here. John Bonham kicked ass on the drums; No doubt. Individually they are brilliant. But put them all together and you've got a decent band, but not the defining moment in rock.
What most Zeppelin fans won't ever admit (regardless of how often these deep dark thoughts creep into their sweatly little heads) is that the idea of Led Zeppelin, the legend behind the band - everything from the wild groupie sex stories to the rumors of Satan worship - is far, far greater than the band's actually musical contribution.
I know I'm going to get challenged on this one. Name a song that you can't possible live without. Stairway to Heaven? Whole Lotta Love? Rock and Roll? I'll take a Replacement's song any day of the week.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Great Site for Live Shows

I realize I may be the last person in the world to discover this site, but have been listening to it all afternoon.

(Thanks for the heads up, Phil).

FabChannel, out of Amsterdam, is the best site I have run across so far for live concerts. The play list in incredibly diverse and the quality is amazing. Ready for the RIAA cease and desist order in ...3,2,1.

In their words:

"With a team of dedicated, music loving directors, editors, programmers and promoters Fabchannel has built one of the biggest online concert archives in the world. 700 full-length concerts, festivals, performances, debates and lectures can be freely experienced in the Fabchannel video on demand archive. Live from the famous Paradiso and Melkweg Amsterdam."

I have already listened to shows by Motion City Soundtrack, Nada Surf and De La Soul. Excited to see they also have Pennywise and The Street Dogs.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Another Band You Should Know About

All too often, I'm asked to write about bands that are completely unworthy of the buckets of ink that have been wasted to promote them. But bands with big names sell magazines, so I'm asked to churn out more celebratory dribble for a group that just happened to have a sound generic enough, and a look marketable enough to please folks at a record label that, ironically, doesn't know a damn thing about decent music. (In fact, I'm convinced most folks who run major record labels actually hate music. How else do you explain Daughtry?)

But, I'm lucky enough to have some pretty decent editors who do actually like music. A few months ago, Lisa at AMP and Loud Fast Rules sent me a link to the Teenage Frames MySpace page. She saw them at a club show in LA and asked if I was interested in writing something up on them. They play fantastic pop songs in the vein of Material Issue and Cheap Trick.

Below is the result of an hour-plus long conversation with their front man Frankie Delmane.

Teenage Frames
Every now and then you come across a truly brilliant band that you can’t help but wonder why the rest of the world has not caught on to yet. The Teenage Frames are one of those bands.
Ten years in the making, the LA-group (by way of Chicago, and Portland before that), plays straight ahead rock and roll that would make Robin Zander proud. Crammed with three chord-guitars, sing along choruses and two-and-a-half-minute time limits, the Teenage Frames play music that’s reminiscent of everyone from Cheap Trick to Material Issue.

They record songs not to channel long-suffering self-esteem problems or to play into some pretentious concept album, but to simply get people to sing along.

Along with fronting a truly amazing band, Teenage Frames singer Frankie Delmane is also the man behind Trash, a zine that looks at long-forgotten albums and gives band mates a chance to gush about their influences, like a recent MASH note to The Romantics.

Delmane, co-founder of the Teenage Frames, spoke to Loud Fast Rules recently about the band’s formation over a night of drinking, their love/hate relationship for their adopted city of LA and their master plan to win over fans, one city at a time.

LFR: How did you guys first get together?

Frankie: Originally me and the drummer (Jim Holiday) lived in Portland and we knew each other from high school bands and stuff from the early 90’s. At that time, the whole grunge thing was going on and I just didn’t go along with the other kids my age; I just didn’t get it. I just got into rock and roll music. Jim and I decided that Portland was sort of in the grips of this northwest metal blow job fest and we just didn’t feel comfortable with it, so we said “Let’s go to Chicago.” In Chicago you had Urge Overkill and Material Issue and Cheap Trick. That’s where we met Eric (Vegas, guitar). I think what convinced us was an all night drinking fest that a lot of people go through when they form bands and we were watching videos all night, drinking until the sun came up and talking about all these bands that we love like the Beach Boys, Cheap Trick and the New York Dolls and at that point it was a no-brainer and we were off and running as a band.

LFR: So that was 1995, how did you get Aaron (Money, bass) involved?

Frankie: Aaron was someone we met when we came out to LA. When we lived in Chicago we had two different bass players… When we moved out here we had to find a new bass player.

LFR: What was the Chicago scene like at the time you guys first formed there?

Frankie: It was all sort of indie rock, Touch & Go sort of stuff. Bands like Pavement were really big, post-rock stuff like Tortoise. But it definably wasn’t geared toward rock and roll. What me and Jim started doing in Portland we thought was an anomaly. We went to Chicago and it was even more so. And it’s not like we are dealing with something that is revolutionary, but it was almost seen that way, because it was so different than the other stuff people were playing with. We were playing these tiny dive bars and there were maybe one or two other bands that had the same sensibilities, but it was really dry. You’d think there would be bands coming out of the wood work to just string together two chords and play snazzy, snarling rock because it’s so much fun. It gets people moving.

LFR: Is that why you decided to move to Los Angeles?

Frankie: Yes and no. Being in Chicago we toured a lot and every time we came to LA we liked it. We had some friends that had moved out here and it was just enjoyable. The weather is obviously fantastic and the Chicago winters were starting to get to us. I think it also just goes in line with who we are as people, me and Aaron and Jim. We just have this obsession with forward movement. So we have this idea that if we just live in every city and play there for a few years, we would have established something in every town. (Laughs.) We have all talked about New York as a step in the future. I think we want to do some more touring before we approach something like that. We do it because it’s fun; it’s an adventure.

LFR: I’m sure the scene in LA is completely different than what you faced in Portland and Chicago.
Frankie: Oh yeah. LA definitely has its own language. I feel like it’s like an island. It’s a place that’s so removed from every place else and there’s positives to that and negatives to that. There’s an enormous cross section of people who are all here for very different reasons, but most of them happen to be here for some sort of industry. It’s a strange place, because it changes all the time. There’s no permanence to it. Every nine months there’s a turn over of a new trend that kids are going through. It’s amazing to sort of watch it unfold if you’ve been here for awhile. When I first got here, in 2001/2002, the whole things was still revolving around indie rock and then it sort of moved into a rock and roll phase for awhile in 2003, but then people grew weary of that really fast and got into folk music and that’s been swirling around for the past couple of years. Then there was the whole post-punk thing that happened.

LFR: Does any of that affect your music at all? Have you found yourselves changing your music a little based on what you’re hearing?

Frankie: I would say it really hasn’t affected us at all. To me it’s really more a process of the industry and marketing then it is natural thought. People get into things, especially in Los Angeles where you see the fashions change and the music change, and you realize that these are really just lifestyle accessories for a lot of people. Everybody’s trying to get laid; they’re trying to get a better job; they’re trying to be popular. I think if you allow yourself to be hampered by that it will just ruin you. I don’t think you’ll ever really do anything of quality because you’re always chasing something you’re never ever really fully comprehending or grasping because you’re always going to be on to the next thing.

LFR: In terms of musical influence, have your tastes changed at all in the 10 years or so the band has been together?

Frankie: I would say individually they have, but as far as the band is concerned, we sort of started it on the premise of a very… I think all of us agree that we love the art form of rock and roll, very simple and to the point and economic and give yourself a two and a half to three minute time limit. But you can do an amazing amount of things in that time. We like to keep the structure the same because I really do think there’s a real art behind that. If you listen to a really well-written song by any classic rock band, Cheap Trick or Thin Lizzy or the Dead Boys, it’s almost like they’re the more modern version of folk music to me, because they created these songs with wonderful structures for us to bounce our own ideas off of. It’s something that every body can do. That’s what folk music is, two chords to entertain your friends.
LFR: Besides your music, you are also known for your zine Trash. How did that come about?

Frankie: I’ve been doing that since about the early 90’s. When I started from about 91 to 92 on up to about 2000, I would do these issues and they would be about once every year and at that time they were just 8.5 by 14, three pages put together. Then in 2000, Jim was like “you need to make this a real thing.” I took all of the issues that I had done up to that point and I condensed them into one sort of anthology and then I started doing regular sizes from that point. What I would like to do is about four a year.

LFR: Do you put together all of the content.

Frankie: Yeah. I literally write everything… except Eric contributed an article about The Romantics because he’s a big fan of them. I always ask people to solicit things because I just love to hear about great records that people really care about. I love all the forgotten records that came out in 1989 and not many people bought it.

After a number of full length records, you’ve been churning out a few EPs lately. What’s the reason behind that?

Frankie: We had this idea that we wanted to do four EPs. Each band member would get to design an EP, pick the songs, etc., etc. We got to do that and we are on the third one right now, which is Glamourish Trash and it’s been great. We put these out ourselves because we didn’t really think anyone would put out four CDs that have four to six songs. It’s just not cost effective for a label. That was a project that we just fell in love with and wanted to do… We’ve already started writing songs for our next full length.