LIVE: JOEY BADA$$ @ EATON HILLS

Brooklyn’s Joey Bada$$ enters the hall loading up his day one shit, Pro Era verses and his latest album into his set. Amped-up, the bar for tonight’s delivery is set early, the capacity crowd at Brisbane’s northside live locale Eaton Hills Hotel absorbing his heat and finishing his bars like true Pro Era brethren.

JOEY BADA$$ Live @ Eaton Hills Hotel, BNE – Saturday 13th January, 2018
Supports: Nyck Caution

Words by Rip Nicholson
Images by Vincent Shaw

For Street Press Australia [HERE]

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Bada$$ releases the hammer with All-Amerikkkan Bada$$‘s Rockabye Baby, spilling his verses like hot coffee into a loaded crowd before cutting ScHoolboy Q’s verse short and unpacking his back catalogue in quick punches. The dead-air pauses between tracks see a shirtless Bada$$ collecting himself only to reinstall the sweat and effort he puts into tonight’s performance. Big Dusty and No 99 get a raucous reception as the Pro Era collective’s founder attempts to get a moshpit up front swirling fervently for the triumphant 95 Till Infinity, which he sends out to all his day one fans.

Survival Tactics finds Bada$$ holding a vigil for the passing of his dear accomplice Capital Steez and lighters are raised in the air. He then treats us to a new joint Pull Up, which is punctuated with smoke explosions from four cannons front of stage. As the smoke clears, he draws down on his bottom-line, the 100 million-plus Spotify played success of Devastated. He has some mic issues during this track and lets the backing track play out while he bounds around the stage. Before signing off, Bada$$’ encore has early-nighters falling back into position for one more hook from his most successful hit.

For over an hour, 22-year-old Bada$$ punches the clock and goes to work, serving us his infinity bound career thus far.

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Sometimes The Funkin’s Hard On You, Sometimes You’re Hard On The Funk

George Clinton’s career is an open book, one he insists has yet to reach its final chapter. The architect of P-Funk returns to tell Rip Nicholson his story.

“I needed to tell my story. So in order to do that, I had to get famous again,” insists George Clinton of releasing his new album Medicaid Fraud Dog. “This is to let the people know that Atomic Dog and Mothership Connection are not the end of the story. So when you see Medicaid Fraud Dog, you’ll see Sir Nose is still out here fuckin’ up and Dr Funkenstein is out here inoculating people with the funk.”

Breaking out of Motown’s stable of songwriters, the funkadelic relic’s first release came in 1967 with the song (I Wanna) Testify. Fifty years on, his latest Parliament album features Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and the great Sly Stone and follows on from First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate, a 2014 reunion of Funkadelic, his other funk incarnate band.

“We didn’t feel like putting anything commercial out until I got that court stuff with all the copyrights,” he confides of the album, the first completely new Funkadelic release in more than 30 years. Indeed, Clinton’s longstanding court battles with labels, most notably Bridgeport Music, for monies owed him from mammoth sample royalties are well-documented in Clinton’s memoir Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?

The funk is my viagra. That’s why I’ll be hard when I get through.

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While the man himself has been clean for the past decade, Clinton’s drug use, and its part in the creation of a lifetime catalogue of hits, has also been covered at length. One story, however, stands out from the pack. Backstage at a 1996 gig with Parliament, Clinton met the daughter of then US President Bill Clinton, Chelsea, with a lit crack pipe palmed behind his back.

“I was gettin’ ready to light up. It was red-hot, burning the shit out of my hand, and I look at the picture they took ’cause they had it in People magazine I [can] feel the pain in my hand as I look at the picture.”

These past indiscretions are not something that Clinton is afraid to reflect on, nor is leaving them behind. “Getting off of drugs is a high too. It works both ways. Really. I’ve made doing drugs look hip and I made gettin’ off them look hip, too. And, I tell you, gettin’ off drugs is a better high. I got sick probably one time and that was enough. I took that as my warning and I was glad that I took it.

“I have fun performing so it’s not a job. I feel like I’m on drugs even though I’m not on drugs anymore. The funk is my viagra. That’s why I’ll be hard when I get through.”

Medicaid Fraud Dog is about just that journey, says Clinton; “People on meds all over the place, whether it’s legal or illegal,” something reflected in the title of the lead single that dropped back in August. “I’m Gon Make You Sick (Antidote),” shares Clinton. “Then I’mma give you the antidote.”

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How are you today and what has been happening in the world of George Clinton and P-Funk?

Fine. We’re on tour right now in Cleveland, Ohio. And just left Minneapolis, Minnesota and we’re on tour around the world. We live on tour.

I grew up on your music, and the hip-hop that surrounded itself in your music. So, to have you on the phone now is truly an honour.

Thank you. The hip-hop is some of my best friends.

I grew up on your music as mostly used through hip-hop sampling. You must get that a lot?

Oh yes. When Digital Underground and Ice Cube were young I knew them. Tupac and Dre, I knew all of them. Then on the East coast: Rakim and through most of the Bronx. I knew most of them as they first got started. I made it my business to stay in touch with the rappers because funk was the DNA this was the way they were keeping funk alive. They helped me reinstate myself over and over again.

How do you stay relevant at over 70 years’ old?

Paying attention to all those young ones coming out that sound silly as hell and then before you know it they’re the new ones. You can tell the ones that are gonna be the new shit because they get on your nerves. As soon as they get on your nerves that’s the new shit. So I pay attention real early, because they wouldn’t be something if you didn’t notice them. They wouldn’t get on your nerves as much. But if they’re nagging on you they’re probably going to be the next shit. And I’ve always written and worked with them and they want to work with me because I’ve been their idol and I respect them. Working with Kendrick Lamar – you know, he’s out of Compton’s third generation of artists

That track you worked with Kendrick on last year, Funkadelic track ‘Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?’ was fantastic.

Speaking of new artists – there is also Thundercat, Dam-Funk doing great things right now outside of just hip-hop. Who, in your opinion, is carrying the torch for funkadelic music now, and who would you like to bare the legacy that you built up?

Well it’s going to be Thundercat and Flying Lotus and there are a lot brewing in the scene that kendrick Lamar introduced me to and they just happen to be third generation hip-hoppers out of Compton and around L.A. He said they’re gonna be the ones herd next and Thundercat – he’s got a lot of stuff on him, he reminds me of Bootsy when he first came out. But, my grandkids, wait till you see them when we come to Australia. They’re part of Parliament Funkadelic. My grandkids, my daughter and then Black Byrd and the regular musicians so it’s like a branch of Funkadelic with a fresh sound and a new look.

On last year’s Funkadelic track ‘Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?’ you said “I was hard when I started and I’ll be hard when I’m through” – where do you muster the energy to keep reinventing funk the way you do and consistently delivering the funkiest shit out?!

Funk will give you that inspiration, especially when you’re really open to receiving it you can transfer it to the people and they transfer it to the people and they give it back to you. It will give you the inspiration once it get started. You feed off each other. The audience feeds off the band and the band feed off the audience. And if you take it to the studio you feed off each other. I didn’t need as much energy as you’d think. That’s all I did. I have fun doing that so it’s not a job. I feel like I’m on drugs even though I’m not on drugs anymore. The funk is that drug.

The funk viagra?

The funk is my viagra. That’s why I’ll be hard when I get through.

In 1982 you released the album Computer Games – at a time when computers were not taken seriously. Did you foresee a future ruled by computers?

Oh yeah. I watched Star Trek. I watched them talk to the computer and the computer answer giving them all the data and I could see that happening. That was when computing was advancing real quick. Then the minute they brought out the personal computer I knew it was going to become a reality. At the time I was into the video games: Galaga and Galaxian. And from that you could see where it was going. From pinball machines to computer games. You could see that that was the beginning of the toy like Pacman. But it took a lot of money and animation to make all that stuff. I knew it was going to be the shit. I didn’t know what it was going to be but I knew there was going to be a lot done with computers.  

Was ‘Atomic Dog’ recorded with computers?

It basically was an accident. We put down a drum track, a beat and we turned it over, flipped it backwards and then they added percussion and a groove to it and when I came on it it didn’t have a note or a key on it where I could sing to it that’s why I started talking on it, ‘this is the story of a famous dog’ and I just added the adlib on that and a couple minutes on that I just added ‘why must i feel like that, why must I chase the cat?’ in very A tone and it just took off from there. People were looking at me in the studio and laughing like I was doing something. So after we added ‘do the dogcatcher’ it started coming together I just ad libbed it straight like that and Garry [Garry “Diaperman” Shider] came racing in and put it in a specific key and he left it like that and made it so it harmonised to the tone of singing I was doing. Then we came back to it and put another drummer on it going forward, turned the thing back over and had it going backwards. The backwards drums was a brand new sound and made it sound hip-hop because we made it sound like we sampled something but we actually played it. But it was geared to sound like it was sampled. And, true enough as soon as it came out everybody started sampling immediately.

Please tell me that you will be playing that when you come to Australia?

Oh yeah we definitely going to play that but not only will we play that we’re going to play some new stuff and drop the new single ‘I’m Gon Make You Sick’ and I’m going to make you sick of me. It’s going to do the same thing that ‘Atomic Dog’ did and that’s that P-Funk – it’s gonna make you sick, sick of me. We’re gettin’ ready to put it out right now.

Medicaid Fraud Dog?

It’s gonna be on the Medicaid Fraud Dog album. It’s called  ‘I’m Gon Make You Sick (Antidote)’. Then I’mma give you the antidote.

That’s the new Parliament album. How is that coming along?

We’ve got the single comin’ in a few weeks then the album at the end of the year so we’re trying to get it out.

You’ve got Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and the great Sly Stone featuring on the album?

Yes.

Who else is expected, and what dimension does this album take you to?

This is like a new dimension. Scarface is on the ‘I’m Gonna Make You Sick of Me’ song

In 2014, Funkadelic dropped the 33-track First Ya Gotta Shake the Gate, the group’s first official release in 33 years. What brought you all together?

We were touring all the time, you know? And we didn’t feel like putting anything commercial out until I got that court stuff with all the copyrights. I’m doing a documentary on that so that freed me up from having to breaking up for court because of the book. And the book Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? – the title of the book and that’s the title of the lead song off that album. So it took me that time to get rid of my old drug habits and get reinspired and get me through my court dates and into doing the documentary and doing the book. I needed to tell that story, so in order to do that I had to get famous again. Not only did I have to get famous I had to get my family down with me. So this is to let the people know that ‘Atomic Dog’ and ‘Mothership Connection’ is not the end of the story. We’ve still got a story to tell so when you see the group now in Medicaid Fraud Dog, you’ll see a Sir Nose is still out here fuckin’ up and Dr. Funkenstein is out here inoculating people with the funk.

You said earlier that you about coming clean off of drugs in the last decade or so. Drugs makes great music across the board. Good drugs will make good music.

And you know what, getting off of them is a high too. It works both ways. Really. I’ve made doing drugs look hip and I made gettin’ off them look hip too. I tell you, gettin’ off drugs is a better high. I only get high now off the weed. That’s the best high you gon’ get. I mean all the rest you can’t get high but one time and you never get it again. You be chasin’ that high. So, it makes good music. Gettin’ drunk and gettin’ high probably kills everything that alters your state of mind but if you can’t appreciate the music without it’s probably not worth it. When I got off the drugs I never thought about it, never did. It got in the way more than it did anything else. It probably was tellin’ me that I just off it in time but I never got to the point where it got like that. I got sick probably one time and that was enough. I don’t get get sick often, so when I did get sick I took that as my warning and I was glad that I took it.

You’re a very open book, Mr. Clinton. I read something a while ago about your chance encounter with Chelsea Clinton who had come to meet you backstage at a show.

That was back when they had the Olympics in Atlanta, around that time and we were gettin’ ready to go on and she came into the dressing room and wanted to show off to her friends in school and said that they would be so proud that she had the opportunity to come in and meet us. And, as she did I was into my act and as she did I had to ball my hand up ‘cause I had the pipe in my hand, you know. I was gettin’ ready to light up. It was red-hot burning the shit out of my hand and I look at the picture they took ‘cause they had it in People magazine I could feel the pain in my hand as I look at the picture.

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That remains one helluva story for you.

She probably never knew until she read the book. Her and Holyfield walked me to the stage and it was my birthday. We had a cake they were gettin’ ready to take to the stage and present it to me and she wanted to start a cake fight. And I was like ‘you’ll can’t do that around this girl she’s got security all over the place’. So I said, ‘hell no, don’t do no cake fight’. Then they presented me with the cake onstage.

Last night you posted a Tweet ‘The Nosy smell of S.E.A.I.C.’ can you elaborate on what that means?

Socially Engineered Anarchy Induced Chaos. That’s my theory on what they’re doing – his whole cabinet and people. They’re intentionally playing people off each other to the point of anarchy and martial law and all of that.

Do you think this could be the demise of the U.S.?

It could be the demise of a lot of places. But yes, the U.S. especially. But a lot of places because of their connection with Russia, on behalf of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he defect. Resign him because it’s gonna get so bad ain’t nobody gonna wanna speak to him, at all. But yes, they was intentionally doing things to piss people off. Shit that don’t even make sense. First, you can think of how he undid everything Obama did. He was into that before he became President. He was always tryna’ start some shit with someone. Their theory, like [Steve] Bannon, their theory is causing panic but this time I think it’s to intentionally put the police, the army to put them all against the people. If they turn to martial law and their purpose is to keep the peace then they don’t have to be concerned with being right or wrong at that point. But, I think we should pay attention to that so that it don’t ever get to that point because i really do believe Socially Engineered Anarchy Induced Chaos is the concept.

That’s why Medicaid fraud Dog is about medicine. People on meds all over the place whether it’s legal or illegal it’s all the same. People don’t know how to react to each other. You can call it drugs or you can call it meds. You can get shot by the police if you on your meds. You go from one state to another you can’t get your prescriptions, not only marijuana but a lot of meds you can’t get. A lot of drugs are hard to get now with the controlled substances act. Then you got a lot of people selling pills like they’re candy pop. It’s about money now. Obamacare is about drugs. It’s about people’s meds. So I call it one nation under sedation. They all gettin’ harder to get so we gotta learn to dance some more.

Everybody needs a break from reality and you bring it the best way there is.

I’m gon’ make you sick then I’mma give you the antidote.

You’re a devout performer, 250-some shows a year… What do you like to do when you’re not writing, recording or performing? When you’re home on time off?

I go fishing. And they have some great fishing there I wanna go again. I wanna go there again because I heard they have some good Marlin fishing in Australia. I didn’t get a chance to do that last time I was there. So I would love to.  

I would never imagine you to be someone who would like fishing but I guess it’s good to get into an environment that is the exact opposite to your bright and colourful music career. You’re a very flamboyant performer. So fishing is the relaxing calm away from all that.

Yes and I live on the farm. Actually my real personality is, I’m a lazy ass. On the water though it’s tranquil as hell. You don’t have to even catch fish it’s just nice to be there.

What can we expect from a George Clinton live show?

A lot of booty-shaking, a lot of jumping up and down. A lot of hard partying. You know, it’s a circus but it’s a fun circus you know. So, tell everybody to bring two booties with ‘em. One booty ain’t enough.

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LIVE: BODY COUNT @ THE TIVOLI

Opening to a campaign of ‘fuck the police’ in tonight’s proceedings, AB Original bound out to Total Eclipse spinning KRS-One’s “whoop whoop, that’s the sound of the police” at 9.30pm and dare to check the call-and-response stimuli to an audience of black on black jeans and rock-tour tees. If anyone in hip hop can sway a hardcore metal crowd it’s the 2 Black 2 Strong workings of Trials and Briggs. Despite AB Original’s battering onslaught and the presence of reality rap’s unquestioned originator over 30-plus years ago, this is not a hip hop gig. Zipper bags deployed.

BODY COUNT Live @ The Tivoli, BNE – Thursday 1st June, 2017
Supports: A.B. Original (Briggs and Trials) & DJ Eclipse

Words by Rip Nicholson
Images by Markus Ravik

For Street Press Australia [HERE]

Slayer’s Reign In Blood pulls open the curtain for Body Count, setting the thrashing pace with Ill Will behind the kit with guitarist Juan “Juan of the Dead” Garcia, bassist Vincent Price and OG members Sean E Sean on the buttons and high school faithful Ernie C on lead. The man himself, uniformed in South Central LA-issue black Dickies, Chuck Taylors and a Dodgers cap, takes us back into that war zone with Body Count‘s In The House and Necessary Evil then to more recent Manslaughter. Meanwhile, conspicuous to anyone stage right, the eyeball of wife Coco with Ice-T’s little girl quite au fait with an up close rock concert, dancing along on Mum’s lap, is a marvel on its own. Truly Ice-T’s own.

“I’ve been a cop on TV for as long as you’ve been alive,” Ice-T tells a front row fan who’s not yet 20. For tonight is truly a homage to the iconic 27-year career of Body Count and ironic given Ice-T’s tongue-in-cheek Law & Order: SVU job versus Cop Killer infamy.

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Ernie C goes to work, guns out, hair out, blood-curdling the chords with an insatiable lust for Body Count’s 25-year-old classic There Goes The Neighborhood, leading to a whirl of a sweat-bucket carnage stirring in the pit. Leaving Ill Will to unfurl a thunderous drum solo, Body Count are in full murderous swing. Ice-T returns after a backstage pause to discuss his philosophy on the Black Lives Matter movement, citing it pointless in the face of anybody who dares to meddle in the affairs of governments and big money. When it comes to the green, No Lives Matter he decries in Body Count’s latest big-hitter, after which a masked Trump makes an appearance and gets stomped on stage. Cop Killer springs out of the pig pen with no preamble, despite its notoriety. Nevertheless it’s received in great throes of antiestablishmentarianism and disdain.

Ice-T kicks it with the youngest along the front row, a 19-year-old, and gives him a word of advice on entering adulthood and dealing with arseholes… it went along the lines of 2014’s Talk Shit, Get Shot. Body Count is over 25, Ice-T is 59-years-old — too old for a bullshit encore. He orders the lights down for what he calls a virtual encore. They return for Born Dead and roll out in respect to those fallen from street violence on This Is Why We Ride. What a fucking show! Body Count, motherfucker!

 

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Ho99o9 Say Their Brand Of Hip Hop/PunK Isn’t ‘A Pose’ Or ‘A Trend’

Death cult hip hop act Ho99o9 are rattling out their brand of mutated punk-rap with their new album, Jean and Eaddy refer to as being about “more than two people howling into the night”. They break it down to Rip Nicholson.

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HO99O9 interviewed May 23, 2017
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]

“It’s more than a band. It’s more than music. It’s an understanding. It’s a message. It’s art. It’s the world. It’s you, it’s me, it’s us,” furthers Eaddy. “It’s more than what you see. You have to take it in brighter horizons and you know, open your mind and look at it with your third eye.”

The LA-based pairing — who were heavily influenced by hip hop’s boom bap era going back to the early inceptions within rap collective Jersey Klan — have released a slew of mixtapes coloured across all palettes outside of traditional rap lines. But as to whether they ever felt removed from the state of hip hop, they remain adamant as to their position staying true to the fundamentals.

“Essentially, some of of the sounds are different to what people in hip hop are used to but we’re still hip hop,” claims Jean. “To me, hip hop is always something that pushed boundaries and that’s what we’re about — pushing boundaries and not sticking to the same sound as boom bap. You can add whatever you like, rap is rap and I can relate to this shit.”

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“It’s not a pose, it’s not a trend, it’s what we make so we’re bringin’ it back for you motherfuckers.”

A mind’s eye view to their debut album United States Of Horror sees them mutating their soundscape into the deeper elements of punk and death metal distortion. “We’re both of them shits, man,” declares Eaddy. “We like that heavy-ass rap and the attitude of real rock’n’roll, like the attitude of that is what’s so fresh.

When asked if Ho99o9 is connecting punk and hip hop back together 30 years later, Eaddy stamped their ambition all over it. “Absolutely! We are. There’s a lot of posers out there. A lot of people fakin’ the funk. That’s what we are born to get into. It’s all real for us. It’s not a pose, it’s not a trend, it’s what we make so we’re bringin’ it back for you motherfuckers.”

Through sentiment found on the anti-police Hated in Amerika and off the new LP War Is Hell, the weight of the message delivered will leave you “Slippin’ in your Jesus slippers” as their lyrics suggest. Despite saying they’re not a political act, they still sharpen their weapon on what’s happening now in society and, according to Eaddy, this is important.

“When we first came out we were rappin’ about gory-type shit, and now there’s real horrors in the world and in our community. Now it’s important for us to stand up for our community,” stresses Eaddy. “There’s so much violence and racism out there and sometimes we get caught up in the party life and we wanna steer clear of flash cars and big gold chains. And I could be rapping about that shit but I don’t really got none of that stuff so we’re out to talk about what we know.”

The energy felt on the new album is undeniable. Live, their reputation precedes them. Just how they summon up such fervour into their album, Eaddy was not short on explaining. “The main energy comes from my balls. You’ve gotta have big elephant, titanium, big fuckin’ balls.”

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Skunkhour Are Making Our Lives Better For One Night Only

Skunkhour‘s bassist Dean Sutherland drops in to reminisce their second album and rap about what’s brought them together for their one-night-only set. By Rip Nicholson.

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SKUNKHOUR interviewed May 18, 2017
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]

After breaking up in 2001, due to their heaving churn-out of albums and touring, Australia’s most missed funk mongrels are returning to Metro Theatre to play, for the first time ever, their Gold-selling second album Feed in full.

“It feels exciting and a lot more relaxed,” reflects Sutherland. “There’s not so much responsibility on us now. When you are a fully functioning band touring all over the countryside you think, ‘Are we doing enough radio play, are we getting promotion?’ This time it’s more — do the gig, get up to the Metro. It’s a lot of fun.”

“We haven’t aged terribly, but I can say one thing, we are playing better than we ever have.”

Within two years of the Sydney outfit forming, they had released their self-titled LP on Beast Records. However, after signing with Sony/Epic the pace changed somewhat going into their second album Feed (1995). “It wasn’t as clear cut as the first album, which we had mixed in about eleven days. We had a vision of what we wanted so we didn’t really have any time to mess around. But in the second album, some of the studios we were working in weren’t in particularly good working order so we went from one studio to another. So there was quite a lengthy process to getting that one out to be quite honest,” he recalls. “We were very busy, especially with Acid Jazz [Records]. They allowed us to tour Europe.”

Skunkhour supported UK outfit Galliano on a local tour in ’93 and signed with their UK label. They proceeded to take their ska-funk and rock-rap routine to new frontiers of the northern hemisphere. Coming home, the album caused an upsurge in the band popularity. Co-producing the seminal album was Paul “Woody” Annison (who has just put his touches on the latest Living End LP), with David Hemming overseeing the process. “Yeah, that’s [Hemming’s] style. A bit regimental, very polished. We had a few other producers like Kalju Tonuma and Dorian West producing, and Greg Henderson mixing. So it was quite a few,” he laughs as he rattles off the credits. “Good people, and we were quite happy with the end result, really.”

The band’s name (originally, Skunk) came from their love of merging both ska and funk,which, mixed with roc and rap, them billed with a diverse range of bands. They played with everyone from Aussie rock giants INXS and Midnight Oil to hip hop heavyweights like Ice Cube, Cypress Hill and Beastie Boys. “It’s an amalgamation of styles all running underneath the Skunkhour banner, you know? That has allowed us to tour and play with bands from rock music straight up to hardcore hip hop.”

Their return to the stage shows promise for a rewind to ’95 when Feed barnstormed the nation’s festival stages. “We’ll give them what they can recall from the last time they saw us in the ’90s. It’s always high energy, it’s a lot of fun. It’s very funky. Old school fun, man. We haven’t aged terribly, but I can say one thing, we are playing better than we ever have.”

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SLIGHTLY STOOPID – They May Be Dads, But They Still Know How To Party

Slightly Stoopid have matured from punk rock surfers into domesticated markers of culture, lead singer Miles Doughty tells Rip Nicholson.

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SLIGHTLY STOOPID interviewed February 8, 2017
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]

Gone are the days when the So-Cal boys of Slightly Stoopid toiled in the sand and skated their days away. Off-tour, the guys tend to go their separate ways these days, home to family.

Co-founded by instrumentalists Kyle McDonald and Miles Doughty in 1994, the folk-rock and reggae-tinged funk seven-piece have amassed a catalogue of eight studio and four live albums and played the world over. The journey has matured the band, and Doughty, somewhat, “From being a 25-year-old maniac running around the bars and having that F-the-world attitude. You gain more perspective of life, which comes out in the music,” admits Doughty, phoning from home and awaiting his kids’ arrival from school. “I’m domesticated when I’m off the road, man. I’m house-broken.

If we have days off we’re gonna try to surf and chill and probably hit up a couple of clubs.”

“That’s not to say we don’t still get crazy, don’t get me wrong,” he laughs, revealing plans for the sunny Californians during downtime while touring Australia. If we have days off we’re gonna try to surf and chill and probably hit up a couple of clubs.”

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Representing a lifestyle of boards and breaks, Slightly Stoopid have always had a broad cultural significance, showing up in just as many surf and skate mags as they have music interviews. Doughty, however, places Sublime at the head of the surf rock trend. “We have that allure of Southern California surf rock culture — growing up on the beach surfing and we all shared that element of skating,” considers Doughty. “Sublime really launched that kind of culture, changing the sound from grunge to that Southern California vibe. God, it’s been over 20 years really and I think that says a lot of how that culture has reached across the world… and it all started from Sublime bridging that gap.”

On their last studio album Meanwhile…Back At The Lab (2015) they bridged another gap with the heavy alt-rock standout Fuck You. Though features on the LP were minimal, Mickey Avalon’s running mate Beardo (aka Jeramy Gritter) strapped up for the track. “We wanted to put something heavy on the record and we knew that he would be perfect on it,” says Doughty. “It was great to have that moment of punk rock and have Beardo on there. He’s a phenomenal guitar player. He’s a cool artist, he has some crazy lyrics.”

With a long history playing huge sets, Doughty divulges the touring band’s love for reviving their recordings at live gigs before taking over Bluesfest 2017. “Everything in the studio is so perfect, where live sound you can leave open to breathe and do different things, from solos to different parts,” he explains. “That’s what I love about the live show is that it’s always open for a different interpretation,” he says. “A lot of times you can take an old song and just rework it a little bit and give it new life in the real world.”

Slightly Stoopid [Mar 17]

GALLANT – His Decision To Subvert The Mould Was Influenced By Seal

Gallant has been leaving himself little messages, and learning to exist outside of classification, he tells Rip Nicholson.

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GALLANT interviewed November 1, 2016
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]

Christopher Gallant’s penchant for using music as therapy has been well-documented since his rise to prominence, not least on his debut album Ology. “If you have an issue you’re trying to work through or you’re trying to understand why you react a certain way to certain things it helps to leave yourself a message,” advises Gallant. “This whole album is me leaving myself a message… It’s cathartic because it just helps me. Like, some people go do yoga, some people go to the gym, that’s what I do.”

It’s been part of how he has approached music since before his 2014 debut EP Zebra, and the Los Angeles-based artist “hasn’t yet strayed from that initial spark”. Gallant’s search for comprehension isn’t something turned solely within, however, the young singer-songwriter understanding that self-awareness requires a deep wealth of outer context.

“[While studying music at New York University] I was constantly surrounded by the energy of peers who were really focused on the aesthetic of being an artist or whatever they call themselves,” Gallant reflects. “They weren’t really focused on the why or the process and it carried over into a lot of professors, too. Outside of the class when I was trying to be in the industry, so to speak, I was messing around with different business people left and right and it all just had that vibe, that kind of feeling of nothing really real. Just very hollow.”

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“It’s cathartic because it just helps me. Like, some people go do yoga, some people go to the gym, that’s what I do.”

After moving to Sherman Oaks, tucked into LA’s San Fernando Valley, Gallant soon fell into a more like-minded crowd within the music industry. “It took me back to a place not contrived, because at that point whatever I did didn’t matter because I still thought you had to fit into some kind of box to make it work and I wasn’t interested in making it work,” he explains. “To get back to where I was when I first started making music in that diary-type way, that move solidified my decision to stick to that instead of slowly trying to morph into something that was of everyone else’s kind of expectation of me.”

Thankfully, Gallant found an inspiration for not being chiselled down to shape early on in British-born singer Seal, with whom he shared a session on the second episode of his collaborative video series, In The Room. An apparent mutual respect between the two was galvanised when Seal showed up for an electrifying walk-on performance his 1991 classic Crazy at Gallant’s set at this year’s Coachella.

Gallant has spoken highly of Seal’s influence several times, expressing admiration in equal measure for both the Brit’s music and his refusal to kowtow to any one label. “I got to see him completely disregard any kind of category. He just didn’t exist in that world, and he defined himself as an individual person with some of the most poetic lyrics that I’d ever heard at that point. Obviously him being a black male, I just didn’t know you could do that – which is really sad. So at a very early age, thankfully, it made me feel that you can exist outside of a set of categories or genres. That really solidified my love for making music because I knew how real I can be.”

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Gallant, how are you?

Hey, I’m chillin’.

What are you up to today and whereabouts are you?

I am in LA where I’ve been living for the past three years. And I’ve just finished the North American portion of my headlining tour so I have a little bit of time to stay in one place and do a little bit of work then I head over to Korea then the rest of Europe.

Korea? I imagine that’s going to be a very interesting show. That’s a return trip?

Yeah, I was there a month and a half ago at a festival but this is going to be my first headline show in Asia.

They must have loved you at the festival enough to book you for your own show?

(Laughs) well I mean they’ve been great out there. So it’s going to be great to go back out and perform for those guys again.

Halloween is upon us. Do you have or did you have anything planned for it?

I think I got all Halloween’d out, this weekend, I went to a party and I don’t remember what I did for the rest of the weekend which is usually a good sign that I had a good time. So, right now I’m back in work mode I’ve got some stuff later this week so I’m trying to get back into focus mode.

I see on Twitter you questioned someone’s M&M costume. Do you believe a Halloween costume should be something scary?

No, and you know, I’m not the most qualified person to answer that, I rarely wear costumes but I just think it should be something creative and have some kind of theme and I think the M&M costume is just a bit played.

So it’s a question of creativity, right.

Yeah, if you’re gonna go for it you may as well go all the way.

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It’s been documented that you began recording songs in middle school to parse your teen emotions, referring to is as being “a cathartic thing – the same way that you would write something in your diary”.

Yeah, I mean it’s very, I’m writing to myself for myself so it’s kind of like if you have an issue you’re trying to work through or you’re trying to understand why you react a certain way to certain things it helps to leave yourself a message and this whole album is me leaving myself a message. It’s a habit that started when I first started writing music which wasn’t at all with the intention of trying to impress anyone or trying to make anything that’s fashionable what-soever, but it’s purely just for me. It’s like when you’re in school and you make up your own language and you just write to yourself in your stupid little language that you made up. It’s cathartic because it just helps me, like some people go do yoga, some people go to the gym. That’s what I do. I was very surprised when people reacted to it all in a lot of positive ways. As of now I haven’t strayed from that initial spark.

You have laid out some of your most personal and rawest emotions (things like regret, guilt, loneliness) on standout tracks such as Manhattan, Jupiter Grayscale and Sienna – which are really the EP’s strongest hits. Then you made Blue Bucket of Gold with Sufjan Stevens – an old fable. Less personal. So, my question is, what’s the difference in how you approach a Gallant song without any personal attachment?

Well, it’s weird because with Blue Bucket of Gold I was on tour with Sufjan Stevens and that arrangement of his is like one of his most things that he’s ever done. When I heard that for the first time when he was on tour it was something I hadn’t heard before and I read into the back story and getting into the conversations I had with him after every show it became very internalised for. Especially during that time I was really ill. I think we did that December/January and right after that tour I got very, very sick and I couldn’t do anything for months and so I kind of had to creep out from under my covers to go and do that. So that really meant something special. It is different in the sense that when I write the words are so, I dunno, like I’m not thinking about how people would perceive them at all. It’s just very idiosyncratic but when you feel something as intensely as Blue Bucket of Gold, you’re applying the same kind of rawness and you’re not thinking there’s someone looking over your shoulder just to deliver it. That’s the same kind of thing that happened to me with the Janet Jackson song which is like my childhood, nostalgic type song. There’s a lot of stuff I think I’ve done that borrows from that same world. And if you stare in my eyes I’m probably a million miles away. So I would say it’s definitely a different approach but it’s the same sentiment, you’re completely in your own world, you’re not worried about anything else that’s going on outside of the bubble. And, once you’re in it, you’re in it.

Outside of your bubble, you had mentioned previously that your earlier work (Zebra) was a sonic diary of your time in New York. When you moved to Los Angeles what sonic difference did that make to your soundscape?

If anything, I think, moving away from New York symbolised, I went to school in New York, I went to NYU and I was just constantly surrounded by energy of peers who were really focused on the aesthetic of being an artist or whatever they call themselves. And they weren’t really focused on the why or the process and it carried over into a lot of professors, too. Outside of the class when I was trying to be in the industry, so to speak, I was messing around with different business people left and right and it all just had that vibe, that kind of feeling of nothing really real. Just very hollow. So moving away was me moving away from all of that. So it was me consciously moving away from that type-a music industry-type vibe. And, it wasn’t until much later after I moved to LA that I started to meet people in the industry that were really genuine that didn’t come that place. I think that if anything, the biggest effect that had on my sound was it took me back to a place of not contrived and at that point whatever i did didn’t matter because, at that time I still thought you had to fit into some kind of box to make it work and I wasn’t interested in making it work. So, to kind of get back to where I was when I first started making music in that diary-type way that we’re talking about, that move solidified my decision to stick to that instead of slowly trying to morph into something that was of everyone else’s kind of expectation of me.

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Can you appreciate the battles you’ve fought to get to where you are today?

Yeah, I think it does, for sure. I don’t feel like I’ve strayed from any values so far so that’s definitely worth it.

In The Room series, you’ve mixed it up with Sufjan Stevens, Seal and Jack Garratt. What brought on this selection, was it a label promotion or something more holistic?

No. The label thing would have made it a lot easier, for sure. But, I had always talked about how much I admired Seal because when I was growing up I got to see him completely disregard any kind of box. It helps that he isn’t American but that’s the American system that forces people into. He just didn’t exist in that world and he defined himself as an individual person with some of the most poetic lyrics that I’ve ever heard at that point. Obviously him being a black male, it just wasn’t something, I just didn’t know you could do that – which is really sad. So at a very early age, thankfully, it made me feel that you can exist outside of a set of categories or genres. That really solidified my love for making music because I knew how real I can be.

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ROY AYERS – Got “Big Money” From Quentin Tarantino

From the chills of New York emerged the man whose name is rinsed and repeated through the ages of music. After a week tracking him down, the first words from Roy Ayers are “I’m still cooking!” By Rip Nicholson.

American jazz-funk composer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers holds a unique sphere of influence on a new generation of musicians as perhaps the most sampled artist in music. So much so that a documentary (The Roy Ayers Project) is in development featuring a swag of hip hop artists who regularly dig through crates for the all-time legend’s work.

With such an insane back catalogue (upwards of 70 albums if you include his collaborative works), there’s plenty of material to work with, and when asked just how he feels about the continued prominence of his recordings in today’s sonic landscape, the enormity of the journey is not lost on the Godfather of acid jazz. “It’s been a long ride. You have no idea how really…” Ayers pauses, somewhat lost for the words to express his gratitude. “It’s such a wonderful feeling when people are sampling your music, it makes me feel so good.”

His signature hit, 1976’s Everybody Loves The Sunshine, from the album of the same name, was recorded at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios. Since, the single has been so popular in the hip hop community that Whosampled.com counts it as being reused by artists in a whopping 117 songs. These include: Wake Up (Reprise In The Sunshine) by Brand Nubian, Common’s Book Of Life, Funkdoobiest’s Dedicated, and My Life by Dr Dre, not to mention Mos Def, Naughty By Nature, PM Dawn, Masta Ace and homegrown heroes Hilltop Hoods on Leaving Sideways.

But of the lot, it was R&B giant Mary J Blige’s take on My Life (1994) that would reverberate most with Ayers. “…When a record comes on like Mary J Blige. When she took on that sample, which is probably her biggest, it was wonderful. It really makes me feel great.”

Another of Ayers’ tracks left an indelible mark on hip hop came when six emerging rappers wed The Boogie Back to the hook of a record straight outta the very same stomping grounds he once cut his own teeth — South Central Los Angeles (then called South Park). Produced by South LA native Dr Dre — that track was NWA’s Fuck Tha Police, which would forever change the course of rap and the standing of hip hop today.

“That’s right, that was a great sample!” Ayers cries out. “I’m so glad that they did it.

5339039283_8cc60f014a_b“I think it had a massive effect on the crowd out in the Watts area and across the greater Los Angeles area. It was very well put together. I think NWA and Dr Dre took it to the max. He was incredible.”

Ayers’ journey hasn’t just been carried on through samples, however. Over the years Ayers has collaborated with an array of celebrated artists, such as Rick James (bitch!), afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, Chaka Khan, and later on with Guru (Gang Starr) and Erykah Badu. Two years ago the most unlikely of bedfellows were made when Ayers jumped in on Tyler, The Creator’s album Cherry Bomb (on Find Your Wings).

Ayers’ career also detoured through film when he was asked to soundtrack the blaxploitation classic Coffy (1973), which he produced, composed and arranged. This resulted in one of the sub-genre’s most evocative scores – filled with an array of Ayers’ rich, textured grooves. “I think the experience that I had scoring of films was unforgettable with the Coffy soundtrack.”

One highlight of scoring Coffy was the chance to meet blaxploitation superstar Pam Grier. “This was my first film work. The president of Polydor sent me to California where I met Pam Grier,” he recalls fondly. “She was beautiful! The essence of Pam Grier in that film and another film she did, Jackie Brown, was very nice.”

On Jackie Brown, Ayers recalls he had no idea that music from Coffy (Aragon and Brawling Broads) would be used on the Tarantino film. “I told my wife, this is my music. I had no idea that they had sold the music to [Tarantino]. I said we got big money! he laughs.

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RoyAyers [Apr 17]

PARIS COMBO – France Is Part Of Paris Combo, As Much As Its Players

Ahead of their Australian return, multi-instrumentalist David Lewis explains Paris Combo‘s delicate balance and Rip Nicholson discovers what octopus traps and heartbreaks have to do with each other.

PARIS COMBO interviewed February 3, 2017
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]

Paris Combo derives a deep richness and texture through its eclectic core members; chanteuse Belle du Berry’s post-punk vocals, the mononymous Potzi’s Django Reinhardt-inspired Romani guitar and banjo, and drummer Jean-Francois Jeannin’s diverse grooves. Drawing on a spectrum arching from American to gypsy jazz, chanson, cabaret and Middle Eastern rhythms, this Paris-based outfit is the sum of its parts in the truest sense.

So when Australian-born trumpeter and pianist David Lewis joined the band in the mid-’90s, he felt its direction shift. “Because I was coming from a more general jazz and classical background, it was big,” recalls Lewis. “It was also when we started working on original material, which was a watershed.”

Something else that has shifted Paris Combo’s direction over the years is their revolving line-up of bassists. They’ve seen four come and go in their two decades, with each bringing a unique personal influence to the recordings and live output of the group. The latest is double bass virtuoso Benoit Dunoyer De Segonzac who “has had a really interesting experience playing with The Jacques Loussier Trio,” says Lewis, commending his bandmate. “He’s a very interesting freelance bass player.”

“I don’t think we’ve made a concerted effort to make it sound French.”

As they close in on their 20th anniversary, the quintet continues to excel at a distinctly cosmopolitan brand of world music yet, despite their locale, Lewis explains they never set out to make ‘French music’ per se. “I don’t think we’ve made a concerted effort to make it sound French. That’s part and parcel of who we are and the band members are based in France and of course with Belle singing in French, which is very important in that mix.”

During the ’00s Paris Combo took a four-year hiatus, finally reuniting in 2010. They spent a year writing, rehearsing and rediscovering their je ne sais quoi. This therapeutic pause resulted in their fifth album, 2013’s acclaimed 5, and a rekindling of the band’s union. It’s a bit like a couple breaking up and getting back together again, instead of just plugging along and getting to a stage where you can’t ever work again. We’d done ten years from when I came into the band until we had a break. That’s fuelled the fact that we’re able to get back together again and resume the career, which was obviously a result of having that time off.”

After extensive touring in years since, Paris Combo have dropped their sixth album Takotsubo. The title comes from a case of cardiomyopathy (that’s heart disease), named after Japanese octopus traps, which is brought on by emotional stress and known colloquially as Broken-Heart Syndrome. The medical condition correlates directly to the concept of their latest work: “The idea of the lyrics on the album is how the body reacts organically to stress and emotional states,” explains Lewis.

Only landing in February, the album preempts Paris Combo’s latest return to Australian shores, their Sydney kick off at City Recital Hall marking their fifth trip Down Under. “We have an ongoing story with Australia. We released our first album in Australia quite early on and there were some good tours right from the start. It’s great we are able to come back.”

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LOYLE CARNER – Immortalising His Parents Through Song

On his new album UK rapper Loyle Carner (aka Ben Coyle-Larner) has immortalised his parents. He explains to Rip Nicholson that he just wants to talk about what’s relevant.

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LOYLE CARNER interviewed January 19, 2017
For Street Press Australia [VIEW HERE]

As a point of difference to the usual US rap culture pervading our mainstream, Ben Coyle-Larner (artist name: Loyle Carner) makes music that peruses diary entries or family albums and presents the persona of a young man entering adulthood. For the 22-year-old South Londoner, this provides space for his innermost thoughts and feelings or, as he puts it, real talk.

“That’s how it has to be. I’ve got no illusions that when I start making an album, I’m speaking for now. So if I make an album when I’m 30, it will be about being 30. I never really thought much of a message but I guess now that it’s cool to open up and it’s cool not to be cool. Instead of worrying about having loads of cash or whatnot, just talk about what’s relevant to you and fingers crossed people listen to it.”

“You might be making a little bit more money and riding a tour bus as opposed to the train … but you can still lose people, you can still be brokenhearted.”

The video for his Ain’t Nothing Changed single, from his Yesterday’s Gone LP, released at the end of January, finds Coyle-Larner playing an older version of himself. When asked if he believes he’ll still be in the rap game in 20 years, he replies. “Yeah, I think so, man.

“Everyone keeps talking about, ‘You’re playing shows now that are a little bit bigger, are you worried the music’s going to change?'” he shares, before clarifying, “Okay, yeah, you might be making a little bit more money and riding a tour bus as opposed to the train, but there’s all the same stuff still happening. You can still lose people, you can still be brokenhearted, you can still be disillusioned by the weight of the world and how it’s turning out and I think that’s what’s important to keep writing about as opposed to writing about changes and currency.”

For now, Yesterday’s Gone (named in honour of his late stepfather’s unreleased album featuring a track of the same name) shows how close Coyle-Larner is with his family as shown in his final track, Sun Of Jean, which features both of his parents.

“Before my father passed away he made an album that we didn’t know about,” he divulges, explaining he kept tracks tucked away and unheard on his laptop until he “finally plucked up the courage to listen to it”. His father’s piano playing on Yesterday’s Gone became the heavily sampled album closer, over which his mother describes her son as “that scribble of a boy”. “It’s almost like it immortalises them for a lifetime, it’s crazy,” he admits.

It’s his brand of real talk on this LP that Coyle-Larner finds overwhelming to elaborate on, but this is also what lends gravitas. “For me, on this album I’ve said everything I’ve wanted to say, and I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do, and it’s a very truthful snapshot of what it’s like to be me right now. And that’s all I can do. In my eyes it’s truly me and if that doesn’t go down well then that’s just how it is.”

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