Interview with The People Brothers Band [Podcast]

Positivity. Good vibes. Great people. Fun music. These are just a few things that immediately come to mind when I think of The People Brothers Band—a Madison-based “rhythm & soul” group known for their uplifting live shows. We had the pleasure of having two PBB members, Teresa and Greg, in the Murfie office recently. They had a lot of great things to say about the Midwest scene, and People Fest, which is happening this weekend in Hillsboro, Wisconsin!

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

People Brothers Band Middle of the In BetweenWho: Teresa Marie and Greg Schmitt; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Monday, July 20th, 2015
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

K: I’m here at the Murfie office with Greg and Teresa from The People Brothers Band, so big welcome.

G: Hello!

T: Hello hello, thank you for having us!

K: Yes. I’m glad you guys dig Murfie, and the concept.

G: Absolutely.

T: This is super cool. Blows my mind a little bit. More people need to know about Murfie.

K: Yes, and it’s local…slash national. But yeah, it’s a lot of fun to be part of it. And we were also just mentioning the MAMAs—Madison Area Music Awards—which were a ton of fun. You guys won top Pop/R&B Album of the Year, Middle of the in Between. So what do you guys think about the MAMA award system and everything?

T: I think every year they’re increasingly doing way cooler things, and this year they definitely put on a show. And I really encourage the musicians in Madison to get out and know more about it, because I think that’s what it lacks, is us being more involved in it. But it’s a really cool way to get recognition and to be appreciated.

G: I think it’s a really cool thing because every time, every year you get to see all these cool new bands. We all run in different circles, and it’s finally cool to see all these people come together. It’s fun for me because when I get to go in and vote, all of a sudden you get to listen to these bands that, you see their names in The Isthmus but you don’t always get to go out to the shows, because you’re playing on the weekends. So it’s fun, because it kind of like gives you a good reason to check out all these great bands. And then it’s fun because it kind of gets everybody in one place, you get to see all these different people that you didn’t know about.

K: I would agree with that 100%. And its enough rotation every year to keep it interesting. Some people are repeat winners but it’s good to see it cycle through like that. During your speech Teresa you had a message to musicians, telling them they had the opportunity to spread positivity through doing this. I thought that was great, can you elaborate on that a little bit?

T: Absolutely, that’s really cool that you even…that means a lot! I guess at the end of the day, I think most people are doing music for the love of it, and the way that you feel when you’re playing music, when you’re doing music, when the people are watching you the way they’re receiving it—if you could just spread that feeling throughout the community for other things. And I think that we can, I think that when you feel that kind of passion and that kind of love coming from people, you can’t help but want to do good things with it. That’s what we do at People Fest, I know that.

K: Yes, tell me about People Fest!

T: August 6th, 7th and 8th. And I will say more than once that it’s not just some of the most fun you’re gonna have this summer, it’s some of the best memories you can make in your life. And that’s a true story. There’s so much love flowing through those driftless hills, it doesn’t make any sense.

481065_556687791009906_323876588_nK: Love it. What town is it in?

G: Hillsboro, Wisconsin. It’s over by Wildcat Mountain. It’s an awesome drive out there, it’s on 300 acres of amazing land out there. We’ve got horses running around…

T: Alpacas…

G: We’ve got a couple llamas and a miniature donkey. And it’s all family friendly. We’ve got 53 bands playing.

T: Three stages, camping, family camping.

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Album Review: “Currents” by Tame Impala

Released: July 17th, 2015
Reviewed by Thomas Johnstone
Rating: 4/5

“I heard about a whirlwind that’s coming ’round / It’s gonna carry off all that isn’t bound,” Kevin Parker announces on “Let It Happen,” opening track of Australian act Tame Impala‘s new record Currents. The lyric forecasts the album’s theme of personal change, from its distant rumblings to its disaffecting aftermath, and given the apocalyptic imagery, we’d hardly expect the changes to be slight.

Fittingly Currents delivers by departing from the act’s previous work in big, surprising ways, given the expectations we might have following two acclaimed albums which comfortably wear the label “psychedelic rock.” Despite possessing a keen sense of melody and lyrical maturity, Kevin Parker—the sole recording and producing musician of Tame Impala (he mixes this time around, as well)—has always seemed less of a songwriter than a clever studio craftsman. A typical track obscured his Lennon-like vocals behind snaking bass lines and 70’s guitar riffs, forming mantra-like jams awash in bombastic drums and reverb. The closing track of 2012’s Lonerism, “Sun’s Coming Up,” seemed to lay the Tame Impala formula bare. A sad carnival waltz for voice and piano, shockingly bare and traditional given everything it follows, eventually turns to full-blown noise collage à la “Revolution 9.” With this self-deconstruction Parker seemed to be both copping to his Beatles influence in the most blatant way, and acknowledging his art’s competing elements: the traditional song, and the abstract, chaotic sound world of an expanded mind.

With Currents, the song finally gets its day in the sun. This is largely an album of pop songs, and Tame Impala’s familiar elliptical jams are kept to a minimum. The main exception is “Let It Happen,” which tries several styles on for size over the course of its nearly eight minute fantasia: dance pop with vocoder, gnarly guitar riffs and even a diversion into synth-orchestra territory that recalls Mercury Rev. It’s like Parker preempted the DJs by remixing the track himself.

As the album progresses it’s clear such meandering is the exception rather than the rule, perhaps by design, as this opening track eases the transition to more traditional territory. Traditional, at least, in the abundance of well-structured songs like “The Moment.” It’s a testament to Parker’s songwriting chops (a few clunky rhymes aside, it feels like he’s been doing this all along) that a listener is more likely to fixate on the newly electronic texture. Keyboards dominate, with guitars mostly relegated to short, funky riffs as on “The Less I Know the Better,” a smirking love song which could easily fit on Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories. Drums are more danceable and reigned-in (you won’t even hear a crash cymbal until track 5) and vocals no longer feel like an afterthought; Parker’s sweet tenor sits front and center, his double-tracked Lennon pretensions of the past nowhere in sight. Not that he’s entirely abandoned psychedelia, evidenced by a dramatic vocal delay in “Reality In Motion” or the blurry pads of studio scrap “Nangs,” but the effects enhance as much as they obscure. Parker balances the rhythms and textures of his electronic soundscape with surprising ease, resembling Caribou much more than the Beatles. In fact, he slips so comfortably into his new skin it feels like splitting hairs to complain that the album feels merely expert, rather than groundbreaking.

Assured as Parker’s technical skills may be, the heart of the album is a narrative arc shining a light on individual growth. “The Moment” confronts a now-or-never fork in the road, while “Yes I’m Changing” reconciles the choice to move ahead with the pain of what’s left behind. Closing track “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” contemplates change as illusory and temporary, skeptically suggesting Currents‘ arc is not a timeline, but a closed loop: skip back to “Let It Happen” and repeat, ad infinitum.

Currents answers Tame Impala’s rising profile with a daring change of direction, and that move has already earned comparisons to Kid A and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Excellent as the record is, the comparison is a bit generous—Currents doesn’t reach the heights of those seminal albums, and Parker’s boldness is of a safer variety. Whereas Radiohead and Wilco showed a willingness to lean into abstraction that bordered on perverse, Tame Impala does the opposite by embracing pop songwriting, and comes out all the more listenable for it.

“They say people never change, but that’s bullshit,” Parker confides on “Yes I’m Changing,” and Currents gives every reason to agree. Parker embraces change so successfully, we might assume he isn’t finished—Currents may be a mere pit stop on the way to Tame Impala‘s yet-to-come masterpiece, but it’s a trip well worth enjoying on its own.


Interview with Ha Ha Tonka [Podcast]

Ha Ha Tonka is a rock band from Missouri with a sound influenced by life in the Ozarks. We recently had guitarist and vocalist Brian Roberts on the phone for an interview, because we wanted to find out his thoughts on Bloodshot Records, the value of buying music, and getting through a personal run-in with cancer and the American healthcare system.

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

438958-largeWho: Brian Roberts; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
When: Thursday July 16th, 2015
How: via phone

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

K:  So Brian, how do you like being part of Bloodshot Records and that family over there?

B: Well I’m glad you used the word family. That’s basically what it is. I mean really we’ve been with Bloodshot since we started doing this professionally, since 2007. So yeah, we love all those guys. They’re the smartest people in the industry and just a great label to be a part of. We’ve been really fortunate to grow our band with them as our main supporters.

K: Are there any other bands on their client list that you’re following pretty closely?

B: Yeah, the Banditos are really having a great year. They’ve had such great acts in the past, like you know some of our favorite records, and I think can speak collectively for the band too. Ryan AdamsHeartbreaker came out on Bloodshot, and I wore that album out listening to it so many times. Justin Townes Earle was on the label recently and put out a couple great records. Of course the Old 97’s earlier on. They’ve had so many good acts, I could just talk about them all day. Bobby Bare, Jr. There’s some phenomenal acts on Bloodshot.

K: Cool. Well you’re in good company. You know the music business is an interesting thing, it’s always changing. I was wondering what your thoughts are on some of the recent trends in the music business, including the infinite access to music that people have.

B: Well you know I don’t…obviously it would be great if people still bought records the way they did in the 90’s or anytime prior to that. I don’t hold out any hope that that will come back. So I am thankful that we are a touring band, and the touring side of things hasn’t changed. We generate most of our income from the touring side of what we do. When it comes to the debate over streaming services or digital downloads, or any of the Napster or post-Napster stuff that’s gone on, really that’s just technology. And I don’t know if the music industry was ready for the onslaught like some of the other digital industries were, whether that be gaming or movies or the film industry. I don’t know. I don’t really know how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole. I love that people can go online and check out a band—check out our band—and not have to pay for it right away. But the problem I think comes into the fact that people then never pay for your music. Or rarely do. Or there’s probably a whole generation that doesn’t think that music costs anything. And I think Bloodshot’s tried to educate people, Nan Warshaw has spoke on it several times about how not buying a record from a band like the Banditos or the 97’s 25 years or 20 years ago would have meant they got less money for next time they want to make a record. Less tour support. They get less of everything.

K: Yeah I agree with some of the things you pointed out, especially I believe that maybe the next generation of music consumers doesn’t even expect to pay for music.

B: Right, what does that mean?

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Murfie Staff Picks: August 2015 Edition

August is right around the corner. Are you listening to something new, or recycling some favorite albums from long ago? Our staff is doing a mix of both, and we have some music picks you should hear. For more staff picks, check out our Staff Picks Cool Collection, which we update often!


Steely Dan

“A genre-busing masterpiece.”

80280-largeDying to Say This to You
The Sounds

“New Wave inspired Swedish band with a lead singer who sets a new bar for ‘bad ass’ with her stage presence.” —Steve


“Merrill Garbus is the master of weirdly-catchy & just-plain-weird pop songs, and Nikki Nack is her best work yet.” —John

Jamaican Queens

“I recently saw these guys live at the Frequency and they were awesome. They are a unique electronic, pop/rock band from MI and they kill it!” —Nate

82739-largeOne Time for All Time

“One Time for All Time is full of top-notch math rock instrumentals and unique beats, check out all of 65daysofstatic!” —Kael

51527-largeMarcus Garvey
Burning Spear

“Powerful. A must-have in your roots reggae collection.” —Kayla


Interview with Red Wanting Blue [Podcast]

Red Wanting Blue is a rock n’ roll band from Columbus, Ohio. They’ve been making waves since 1996 with a steady output of albums and tours. Their frontman Scott Terry called in to the Murfie office recently to chat about the band’s experiences, including signing with a record label, and avoiding a near-fatal car crash that inspired their new album. We cover topics in the music industry of course, like transparency in the streaming business, and the paradox of choice that comes with infinite access. Scott is definitely a fan of music ownership and collecting physical music, and in fact, he points out how physical music can be an extension of your personality. He also embraces the amazing influence computers can have in creating music and reaching fans.

Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Who: Scott Terry; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
When: Tuesday July 7th, 2015
How: via phone

K: I’ve got Scott Terry on the phone from the band Red Wanting Blue. And Scott, you just started your tour called the Our Little America Tour, how’s that going so far?

S: It’s going great, it’s going great. Actually right now we are in Columbus, Ohio, and we’re just now getting ready to make a trip up to Edmonton Alberta Canada. So we’ve got kind of a long way to go and a short time to get there.

K: Well this definitely isn’t the first time you’ve gone on a tour, and it’s going through the end of August, so I was wondering if you have any tips for going on tour, for a musician who hasn’t gone before. What do you do to get through?

S: You know what, it’s funny you say that because I have literally thought of writing a book, or like a short guide, for survival tips when you’re on the road with a rock n’ roll band. I don’t want to give away too much of my book. But I would say, if I had to give some tips to some young bands: try to avoid gas station restrooms. Usually there is a hotel off that same exit. They’re in the hospitality business, so they’re not gonna question you if you’re a guest at the hotel. You can just walk in and go straight to the lobby. That’s a Scott Terry survival tip, although we haven’t had to use that one in a little while. We’re fortunate, we’ve got a bathroom on our bus now. More important tips on the road would be: try to stay active. One of the things that we do is we try to avoid fast food, because I think it makes you feel bad. Even if it tastes good going down, you usually regret it a little bit later. Or a lot, depending. We also try to stay fit while we’re on the road. You’ve got a lot of downtime sometimes between load-in and sound check, and performing. So we’ll try to go for jogs and keep ourselves in shape, and so that’s a good thing to do. Again, I don’t want to dig too much into my stash of secrets.

K: We’ll have to keep a lookout for that book. You need to have your own hashtag, #ScottTerryTourTips. Well those are definitely helpful, staying active and eating right.

S: Yeah and it sounds lame to say it like that, but the truth is that—I don’t want to sound preachy—but we run across bands who live up to the illusion and the idea that a band that’s traveling, you know—rock n’ roll band, partying every night. At this point in my career, I think that’s a difficult thing to sustain, it’s hard to maintain that lifestyle and live like that. It’s good to cut loose every now and then, but I think ultimately, you’re going to be going from town to down, driving from cold weather conditions to hot weather conditions. You’re putting your body through a lot of sleepless nights and the schedule can be rigorous and brutal, and the best thing you can be doing for yourself in order to make it through the shows so that you’re not apologizing to your fans like “Sorry I have a sore throat, sorry I got sick,” is to—because the road will run you down, I mean it is longer than you, it will definitely run you down if you open yourself up to that—so the thing you have to try to keep in mind, is: pace yourself, and always try to stay on top of your health. That’s my fatherly tip to the young bands out there.

Red Wanting blue Little AmericaK: Right, coming from experience. I mean that’s great to hear. and you guys have experience touring, you have experience putting out a lot of albums, so I was wondering if you look back at everything you’ve done so far—I  know you have a new album out, but—considering everything, is there a certain album you’ve put out that you personally feel most connected to?

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