segunda-feira, 4 de janeiro de 2016

Scream The Sound with The Emerald Down - An Interview

Começando o ano aqui no TBTCI e para brindar este esperançoso 2016, um presente mais do que especial para os amigos do The Blog That Celebrates Itself.

Uma pequena história primeiro para situar tudo, voltando no longínquo ano de 1996 era lançado o primeiro EP dos queridos e amados The Emerald Down. Obviamente que para os iniciados a história é deveras conhecida, o TED começou na segunda metade dos 90´s envolto a aura da sonoridade clássica da 4AD aliada ao frieza e a magia sonora do shoegaze, mas o TED só em 2001 chegou ao seu primeiro álbum cheio o magnifico Scream The Sound, 2002 trouxe Red Shift e o EP Aquarium foi o trabalho derradeiro também de 2002. 

De lá pra cá foram mais de 20 anos de um hiato que ao que tudo indicava não teria fim, mas o mundo realmente é muito mais especial do que imaginamos e no final de 2015 através da predileta Saint Marie Records, a notícia, o TED estaria presente na já cultuada compilação de fim de ano Static Waves, já em seu quarto volume, Turn Away é a beleza sonora que o TED nos brindou. Sabendo disso o TBTCI foi conversar com uma das fundadoras do TEd, a querida Rebecca Basye, que muito mais do que uma cantora e guitarrista maravilhosa é uma das pessoas mais doces e gentis que o TBTCI já teve o prazer de conversar.

Dentre outras coisas a alegria de ter Scream The Sun e Aquarium reeditados agora em 2016 pela SMR e com material inédito.

Resumindo tudo, 2016 já começa de forma magistral.

Feliz Ano Novo!!!

***** Interview with The Emerald Down *****

Q. When did The Emerald Down start? Tell us about the history.
TED is a sum of the magical people who have contributed their skills and energies to it over the last 20 years. I feel like a talent scout as much as the only original member left trying to hold the fort.

The Emerald Down began as a three piece in a basement in Olympia, WA in 1995. The first real incarnation was composed of myself (Rebecca Basye) on guitar, Jessica Marshall on bass, and Joel Schumacher on drums. All three of us did vocals of some sort. I tried to get four prior bands going of similar ilk in Olympia, but The Emerald Down was the first one to really hold because we clicked together and the other bands had members with other interests and involved in other projects. Maybe too because it took me awhile to figure out how to play my guitar! We had a blast though and played some amazing bills with bands you would not expect. TED owes its momentum in no small part to the warm, supportive music-making environment that was Olympia, WA in the 1990s. Jessica, Joel and I recorded a self titled EP in 1996 with the super Scott Swayze at Moon Studios in Olympia. We only ever distributed it on a few cassettes locally. The material from this first 1996 EP has recently been rescued from an old DAT tape and will hopefully see a ‘real’ release for the first time next year after some surgery and I am really excited about that!

The first TED incarnation gave way to a new one after then-Olympian Jason Markin joined the band on drums and we moved to the fabulous Columbus, OH, where we added Columbus natives Jim Rock and Chad Williamson. We forthwith experienced a kind of rebirth and evolution spawning our second release Scream the Sound (2001) with Andy Bosnak and Laurent Bichara at Engine studios in Chicago. Shortly after, Erik Kang and Bryan Ford replaced Chad on guitar and Jim on bass respectively. Erik assumed vocal duties with me as well. Together we made our third release Aquarium (2002) at both Diamond mine and the Recoding Workshop. We were almost a five piece, as Chad loaned his skills to two of the tracks on the first issue of Aquarium, but separated from the band at the recording session. We were sad about that, but he had other responsibilities he needed to address. As it stands in 2015, TED is now a three piece again spanning two continents.

Sadly, both Scream the Sound and Aquarium’s original releases just simply melted into ether: wrong sound, wrong time, and often the wrong places receiving them. The 1996 self titled EP was a ‘never was but should have been’. The mid 1990s and early 2000s in the US were an unfriendly time for bands with our sound, as some of my Saint Marie Records label mates might agree with me. TED was effectively crushed and buried. At one point, a member of our little community even told me to “get your own sound”. I’m not one to hide my thoughts. That was really painful, and, to be honest, being TEDs spokesperson who took the brunt of it, between that and being trashed by certain media I raised my hands in the air in 2002 and said OK that’s enough. To put it plainly, some were absolutely brutal. I’m sure TED was not alone in such experiences. What I couldn’t figure out is why by the mid 2000s, other bands that sounded similar to us were getting cudos from the same sources while we had been trashed just a few year earlier. Ah, the scene is fickle and sometimes arbitrary. If it were not for those like Tom Lugo of Stellarscope and the folks in Skywave, Highspire, Alcian Blue and some good reviews in Losing Today, The Morning News, Diskant and the like, I don’t think anyone would even know who we are today. But who cares now, we’re back, and, thanks to Wyatt, we are reborn.

Q: Who are your influences?
Can we say everything? I do love bands in ours and related genres that you might expect I would love, but it goes way beyond that. I am influenced by everything from baroque, to punk, to 1970s prog rock and balladeers, to carnatic ragas, swing, etc. I can’t possibility list it all. I think I can safely say the same for the other members, who also have wide-ranging taste in music. Every bit of these influences the way we perceive and create music. I might be thinking of a Carly Simon song, Bad Brains or my friends Unwound, whose co-presence did indeed have an effect on my early playing as evidenced by our first 1996 EP, as much as Ride or the Cocteau Twins, who really began my genre-specific interest when I heard Treasure. I still remember the day, when my friend came barreling into my room in 1985 with a copy of Treasure in hand saying “You’ve got to here this. I really think you’ll love it”. Indeed I did and soon much more like JMC and Stone Roses with a dash of things like On-U Sound label goodness for good measure. I began raving on and the rest was history. I also drew inspiration from the music of those like Consolidated, Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, Asian Dub Foundation, etc. Like I said, there’s too much to list. Finally, I played guitar in the Mukilteo Fairies, who put out a thing or two on KRS and Outpunk back in the day, so underneath my swirly compositions lies a punk rock heart that tries to assert itself now and again. I brought that energy, overdrive, grind and fortitude straight from the Fairies right into The Emerald Down both literally and figuratively.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Oh the dreaded question. I am going to skip some of the ones you might think I would list and give you a few unexpected ones. A list of five forces me to cut out too much. Don’t laugh! In no particular order, some whole albums Rebecca would say are 100% end-to-end goodness:

Led Zepplin IV - Led Zepplin
Pet Sounds - the Beach Boys
Going Blank Again - Ride
Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Heaven or Las Vegas - Cocteau Twins

There’s some taste maker somewhere right now thinking, god what an idiot!

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Love it, and miss it a great deal. That is really what it was all about for me and us, and it’s been 13 years for me since I’ve played a gig. TED was very much a gig-oriented band. Our songs were also written at full volume with all effects on. I love the feeling of playing and watching people enjoy our music. The only thing that was tough was working with crappy PA systems at smaller clubs and the occasional sound person who would butcher us. Our elected sound guy was Mr. John Beard.

We played many great gigs with a diverse set of bands from KARP to Skywave in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and East Coast. Just before our break I was talking with Club AC30 in London and Scotland about coming over here (at the time we were in Columbus), but that never got realized.

I liked playing outside our safety zone, but maybe that’s because I am conditioned to after dwelling in isolation so long as a band. A bit of dumb useless trivia: I can only play guitar with my shoes off so I can feel the pedal knobs, and Jason once played an entire show on drums with a broken hand. The funniest part is he played ultra fast! Erik has had much more practice than Jason and I as of late, since he has spent the last few years touring as a member of Margo and The Nuclear So and Sos. I am glad to steal him back.

Q. How do you describe how The Emerald Down sounds?
I try not to :-) In fact, I can’t.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs ?
From what I remember, recording with TED was always a very quick, whirlwind kind of process. We strive to be a one take kind of band. I always liked leaving in all the mistakes. I didn’t believe in fixing things. We often came to the conclusion that these things add to the charm of a recording. Now I kind of wish I could, and there are some things that will be fixed this time around that should have been before. Thirteen years of listening will do that. For me all of our albums have some glaring flaws that gnaw at me day and night. Part of the problem is that we recorded too soon after writing some of the songs, some were written just a week or two before recording, and some were even written in the recording studio on the spot with 2 inch tape rolling! Heavier Than Ether, Lighter Than Air as well as the title track from STS Scream the Sound are such songs. Completely spontaneous, written on the spot live to fill tape! Craziness, but sort of how TED was and is. We usually recorded live together, with only a vocal overdub and the occasional percussive instrument. What you hear on the recording is pretty much our live sound.

As for each session, it’s such a blur but I am slowly remembering all of this as I chat with people. Recording the first EP in 1996 was easy. We recorded at Olympia’s Moon Studios. That was Steve Wold’s studio (now Seasick Steve). I remember being in and out of Moon Studios in a matter of hours. Scott Swayze worked his magic, and I think I remember him using a vintage echoplex on my vocals. Moon had many really cool vintage tools and a righteous mixing board that now lives in Norway. We mixed that down onto DAT.

Recording Scream the Sound was a bit more of a challenge. We has to contend with some internal discord between two of the members, but managed to hold it together and kick it out in two days, one for recording and one for mix down. Then we returned for a little remixing later. Working at Engine was really fun, and Andy Bosnak and Laurent Bichara were fabulous. Laurent is the one who delivers the awesome French monologue accompanying me on the title track. Jim had written some lyrics and asked Laurent to do it rather than singing with me as he usually did. It worked out really nice. Sadly, the original 2 inch reel for Scream the Sound was lost in a fire at Engine in Chicago some time in the aughts.

Aquarium was altogether different. The original release featured tracks recorded at two separate facilities. The upcoming re-release of Aquarium will feature extra songs from that and yet a third recording session with John Bobo. Erik, myself, Jason and Ford recorded some tracks at Diamond Mine, and Chad Williamson joined us at the Recording Workshop for three songs.

Finally I have been doing some TED post-production, vocals and remixes here in Germany (where I have lived for the past eight years) with Jalal of the radio show Popscene with Jalal and the Gazing video show, which has been extremely fun and will be featured on the upcoming re-releases. So it’s kind of new and old material.

Q. Tell us about the re releases that will be made by Saint Marie Records next year...
Yes! We are so happy to be re-releasing both Scream the Sound and Aquarium on Saint Marie Records. Each will be on CD and vinyl. Each will have new and previously unreleased material and remixes, as well as some new edits and mastering of the old. And, hopefully, we will be releasing the virtually unheard 1996 self titled EP as well. Howdy Wyatt! All will have brand new artwork. We are really excited and thankful to SMR for the opportunity to re-out ourselves on such a great label.

Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
I really went into hiding over the last 13 years. I’ll be honest, I lost touch. It has only been very recently that I’ve had the privilege of learning about all these great new projects and bands. I am truly blown away and so happy to come out of my cancerian crab shell at a time like this. You know, I cannot possibly list all the great new stuff I’ve heard, but some I’ve listened to recently that immediately come to mind are Presents For Sally, Strata Florida, Static Daydream, 93 Million Miles From The Sun, Seasurfer, The Churchhill Garden, Bloody Knives, Ummm…I’m probably forgetting many important ones! I can’t possibly list them all. And, I’m just going to say it one more time, Dave Adkins of Looperstar rocked my socks with Soul Destroyer. Holy hell, I want to make a movie just to go with that song. I am also excited to hear what the supergroup Minor Victories is working on. Supergroups are awesome. I am still working my way through the Saint Marie roster, let alone all the fabulous music out there. That being said I would recommend anything on SMR. I feel so inspired. I’ll get there. I’m open and ready to receive, no Animalhouse pun intended.

Q: Which band would you love to have made a cover version of?
We once covered Blur’s “She’s so High”. It is the one and only time we did a cover. Jason prompted it. Ha! Don’t laugh, but I have always had a serious secret yearning to cover Nobody Does it Better by Carly Simon my way, and I think I just might do it if I can just figure out how to make that possible legally. You know, the theme song from the Spy Who loved Me. Don’t all girls like that song?

Q: What are your plans for the future?
I am going to live. But, if I’m not I want to spend my last days playing the music of my heart. I spent part of 2014 and 2015 undergoing treatment for cancer, and, let me tell you, I don’t ever want to be in that place again. Forgive the pop culture reference, but my experience this year working on our music throughout cancer treatment has been a bit like that scene from the Matrix when the Oracle gives the cookie to Keanu and says eat this, and, I promise, by the time you are done, you won't remember all this shit (or something like that). Except Wyatt Parkins is the oracle, I'm Neo, and the cookie is our music, which is now leading me out of a very dark place into the light. I am ready to resume writing, recording and playing. Working on our unreleased material and doing new remixes for Saint Marie Records has truly reawakened the TED, me especially, and once I have completed all tasks related to our up-coming releases I will be working on new material from Germany with the current members of TED and perhaps a few others here on this side of the pond as well. I’m really excited about all these possibilities. Bring on the collaborations and supergroups. I have built up an enormous catalog of ideas in the last 13 years, and I know the others are eager as well. We begin this journey with our first new song in 13 years “Turn Away” on SMR’s fabulous Static Waves 4 compilation. There will be new videos coming as well.

Q: Any parting words?
Yes, let it be known that we’ve never played covers at the Holiday Inn. That gig was just in some asshat’s imagined universe. So, thank you Renato and The Blog That Celebrates Itself for this opportunity to finally speak and share! And thank you to those who have enjoyed TED. I have been shocked and surprised in the last few weeks to learn we actually have long-time listeners. You are wonderful! I hope our new music makes you happy too.