Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grant's Tomb: Intronaut's Habitual Levitations (...)

In 2010 I had the awesome pleasure of witnessing one of my favorite local bands in Des Moines, The Maw, open up for Century Media recording artist Intronaut. The show was on a Monday night (the day before their 2010 release “Valley of Smoke” came out actually). There were maybe 11 people in attendance without including any of the bands. As sad as that seems, it didn’t phase the Intronaut guys, they absolutely slayed as if they were playing in front of an audience of 500 or more. After the show they along with The Maw dudes and several other friends all headed back over to my practice space across the street to hang out. They were some super down to earth guys, people you could actually have an honest conversation with, none of that “rock star” bullshit. It left an immediate impression on me. You could say I became a huge fan of theirs, immediately picking up all of their music that I could get my hands on.

Fast forward a couple years. In late 2012 an update went out on their Facebook page stating that they had entered the studio to record their next follow up. I immediately began salivating at the aural possibilities. 2007’s “Prehistorcisms” was a monster of a record, combining the best in down-tuned sludge and post rock with just enough death metal and jazz fusion elements to keep your head bobbing to the wee hours of the morning. The song writing was complex, but not overbearing and there were discernible hooks. “Valley of Smoke” was no different, although it featured tighter song writing and more clean vocals versus the death growls. Needless to say, I was stoked for the new album.

So what did we get? “Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones)” was released in the middle of March this year. Our first taste was a digital/7” single titled “Milk Leg” and the second it was made available, it found its way onto my phone for further dissection. Needless to say, it was a ho-hum affair. There was not a single aggressive guitar part or tone (no pun intended) to be found, but then again, this was just one song, surely the rest of the album would sound nothing like this, right? Wrong, “Habitual Levitations” and its extremely ridiculous parentheses’ title is essentially one long space out session. I honestly found it difficult to sit through the entire album more than once. From the pretentiously long opening track “Killing Birds with Stones” to the very last drones and out of place synth at the end of “The Way Down,” the album drags and essentially goes nowhere…at the slowest pace possible.

Danny Walker and Joe Lester at House of Bricks in 2010
(Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
Truth be told, there are indeed some interesting choices for guitar tones. “The Welding” features what might be the most reminiscent of their early work with its jazzy bass lines and Afro-beat drum work (easily the high points of this album and all the more credit to bassist Joe Lester and drummer Danny Walker), but again, just when you think the song is about to pick up and snap your neck, the band pulls a fast one and goes for the pseudo-prog metal that’s become all so popular in the wake of bands aping Meshuggah.

Guitarists/vocalists Sascha Dunable and Dave Timnick do their best to not enunciate anything they are saying and without the lyric book in front of you, you’ll have a hard time figuring out what it is they are bellowing over the din of fuzzed out guitars. “Steps” features a siren like intro that could have very well been lifted from “Australopithecus” from “Prehistoricisms” before taking a complete nose dive into a riff that sounds like a cut out riff from “The Literal Black Cloud” (from the same album). The chanting vocals add an even more unbearable drone to the already claustrophobic sound. Maybe this is what is wrong with my head, but I just kept getting images of Jim Carrey's The Riddler from that terrible Batman movie, where he is cutting out all the words from newspapers: this must have been what he was listening too!

“Sore Sight for Eyes” is easily the best track off the album, it has all the trademark Intronaut sound while still maintaining the duel clean vocals. The lead guitar work here is just plain epic and not once does the song suffer from the shoegazey self-indulgence midway through. Also, the interplay between bassist Joe Lester and drummer Danny Walker immediately stands out here as well. “Harmonomicon” returns to the snoozefest and that’s all I really care to say about it. “Eventual” starts off with the off-time guitar and drum interplay that is going to make you bang your head for sure but suffers due to the call and response type of vocal delivery and the now repetitious “we’re half way through the song, we better slow it down and go into an extended jam” syndrome.

I feel like I can’t stress this enough, the dudes in Intronaut (that’s really fun to say aloud) are awesome musicians. Far better than I could ever hope to be, but because of their awesomeness (?) and their glorious back catalogue, this was a true let down. If you’re looking for other artists to get your post metal fix on, I would highly encourage you to look elsewhere (See “Wavering Radiant” by Isis or “What We All Come to Need” by Pelican), however, if you do get the chance,  Intronaut should be experienced live.

Grant’s Tomb is currently working on a road journal, documenting his weekend on tour with Dead Horse Trauma 

"Blue" Lou Marini: The Bigfoot Diaries Interview

As a member of the Saturday Night Live Band in the '70s and a founding member of the Blues Brothers, Lou Marini hardly needs an introduction, although he is most deserving of it. Dubbed "Blue" Lou by Dan Aykroyd, Marini has enjoyed a career most musicians only dream about.

At the University of Texas he played in the famous One O'Clock Lab Band. After graduation he gigged as a professional musician and eventually became a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Later, he became a member of the Saturday Night Live house band during it's hey-day from 1975 to 1983. He subsequently became a member of the Blues Brothers, and appeared in the original Blues Brothers movie. In 1998 he also appeared in the movie's sequel, Blues Brothers 2000. 

He can be heard on Frank Zappa's 1977 album Zappa in New York, and has worked with a diverse range of artists including Steely Dan, Peter Tosh, the J. Geils Band, James Taylor, Eddie King, Carly Simon, BB King, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, the Buddy Rich Band and the Woody Herman Orchestra.

In 2010, a made a recording titled The Blue Lou and Misha Project - Highly Classified, a collaboration with Israeli pianist and composer Misha Segal. His latest release, Starmaker contains 8 original recordings and features Jeff Mironov, George Wadenius, Gil Goldstein, Leon Pendarvis, Alan Rubin, Danny Gottlieb, Chris Parker, Manolo Bandrena, Sammy Figueroa, Bob Cranshaw, Tom Barney, Birch Johnson, Lawrence Feldman, Tommy McDonnell and others.  

(Thank you Lou, for taking the time to speak to us about your amazing career.) 


Tell me about growing up in Navarre, Ohio and the music you listened to while growing up.

Actually it was an even smaller town than Navarre, it was a town called Beach City and it was maybe 300 people tops. It was rolling farmlands and it was an innocent childhood. Maybe the last of them you know. My generation growing up in a little town.  I've gone back a few times actually, and a few years ago they made me a distinguished alumni and my father too, because my father had been the high school band director in that area and he created a really fine instrumental band program there. Actually he wrote the Alma Mater for our school. We probably have the only hip Alma Mater in the whole United States.

What makes it so hip? 

It's just a you know, nice chord changes and a more modern thing than a traditional Alma Mater. It's sort of fresh... And you know, the music I was listening to was, well my dad was always listening to jazz and once I started to get interested, he started me on clarinet when I was 10 and then I started studying with one of his friends when he saw that I was interested and was going to stay with it. It was a great guy named Frank Corbi. In fact we played together up until Frank's 80s. He had retired down there in Raleigh and whenever I would go down there to see my parents, because my mom was from North Carolina, my parents retired down there, I'd stop and see Frank and some times sit in and play with him and so it was something that I sort of maintained through my life. I listened to the Big Bands at first, and I remember listening to Stan Getz, and then gradually started to be exposed to - I remember one record that had west coast alto players like Benny Carter, and Charlie Mariano, and Bud Shank and Herb Geller, and then I started listening to that. Then I remember Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain when I was about 16  blew my mind and then another album, Michel Legrand Jazz which was also early '60s. You know I heard Miles and Coleman Hawkins and a lot of different players on that CD. Still a great CD actually. Beautiful. It's like the hippest Michel Le Grand ever was actually. Pretty cool. And from there on, I sort of went backwards because I heard the Big Bands first, then like Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, and then Basie and then Duke Ellington. So that was sort of the progression.

Awesome. Very cool. We're going to move ahead a little bit... Tell me about the process for auditioning for the Saturday Night Live Band.

It wasn't much of a process. I went in and played, and got the gig. That was it. Didn't last very long. They made up their mind pretty quick when I played, so I must have been having a good day.

How did you hear about the opportunity?

Well by that time, when I came to New York, I had been playing with Blood Sweat and Tears. I'd been playing with Doc Severinsen's band, and then I joined Blood Sweat and Tears and then I met Lew Soloff, and Dave Bargeron. Tom Malone was on the band and he and I had gone to school together at North Texas. Actually I had heard Tom play in Mississippi at a college jazz festival and I told him he should come to North Texas to go to school and so we were friends for a long time. So he also recommended me, and Alan Rubin who was a good friend of Lew Soloff's also, recommended me so I had a few recommendations going in. And, I think one of the older saxophone players in New York, George Young who also auditioned for the gig and is still to my mind just a virtuoso saxophone player, the dean of us all, also recommended me so I had multiple recommendations. And I knocked it out, so I got the gig. It turned out to be a great gig, you know it's like I remember that Alan Rubin used to say right before the opening theme which was you know the first phrase belted out with me by myself, he used to say, "Where's the hippest place on Earth to be right now?" Those early years of the Saturday Night Live shows were something else.

So tell me about backstage during Saturday Night Live. 

Well you know basically we would do prerecords which were always very relaxed  and a lot of fun because the band - it was a very close-knit band and very good friends, all of us. So because of that it was always something you looked forward to, it was fun. And then usually if there was a bit we had to be involved in, we would come in again on Friday and rehearse with the cast. In those early years with the cast the interaction with the band and the cast.. it was real intimate. We were real friends. We were friends with Jane and Lorraine, and Gilda... Everybody loved Gilda and  then Chevy was always hanging around the band trying to noodle and sit there and play stuff. Belushi and Aykroyd, they were already musical and they were hanging out with us, so there was tons of interaction. Actually, truth be told it was probably those first eight years were probably the craziest band in the history of television.

In the Blues Bros. movie: Blue Lou, Matt Murphy and Alan Rubin
during Cab Calloway's performance of "Minnie the Moocher."
Yeah, I would imagine. So how did the concept of the Blues brothers come about?

Well Belushi and Aykroyd used to sit in with us sometimes for warm up to the audiences. I'm not sure if it was more Belushi or more Aykroyd, but Belushi got way into the blues, coming on the success of Animal House, he got this idea of a blues band and these characters with the suits and the sort of run-down guys. And when we got called for it, I think there was a shortage of acceptable comedy stuff for Loren Michaels and he asked Danny and John to do one of the tunes they did with us as part of the show and it got a tremendous reaction. In the following shows they did a more arranged and together version. And then about a month later at the end of the season, we got this phone call, they were having rehearsals for a gig, as an opening act for Steve Martin at the LA Amplitheater in LA you know and there was like a week of rehearsal in New York and then three or four dates in Los Angeles, then ten nights in LA opening for Steve Martin and it paid real good money and we really thought it was going to be a nice gig. Nobody, well maybe Belushi or Aykroyd did, but none of us thought that it would turn out to be. One thing that was evident though was when we started rehearsing , Belushi and Aykroyd were so popular then so it was showbiz central at our rehearsal studio. All kinds of people... Mick Jagger... All kinds of people coming by to hear the band and it was immediately evident that there was something special about it. We had quite a mix of players really, we had Duck and Steve from  Memphis Sound, and Matt Murphy, a lifelong Blues player, and Alan Rubin,  a Julliard graduate groomed to be the replacement for William Vacchiano with the New York Philharmonic, Tom Malone from North Texas, Jazz, and played with Frank Zappa and played with Blood Sweat and Tears so you know there were a lot of different directions covered in that band and somehow there was a real spark. Steve Jordan was a brilliant drummer. Once we got to LA I remember... I told this story many times... I remember looking out into the audience because I was always the closest horn to the audience and I looked out and sitting right in front of me was Jack Nicholson right up close upstage, and he looked at me, lifted up his sunglasses and went, "Wow!"... You know like that. I think we were playing "B Movie Boxcar Blues." Pretty cool. And you know backstage in L.A. was like Robert DeNiro, Bette Midler, and everybody you can think of. Meryl Streep I remember seeing, so it was crazy. 

Wow! So cool. Tell me about the very last show played at the Winterland Auditorium (San Francisco) , which the Blues Brothers played at.

Oh... That was sort of a blur to tell you the truth because of the flights and everybody was a little wired up and we had wait a long time to go onstage, it was one of those things were you were back stage forever. When we finally did get on, I remember that it was a blistering set. I mean we killed. But other than that I really can't recall much about it. It was a thrill to be there.

The Blues Brothers played
San Fransisco's Winterland
Ballroom on it's final night. 
Were you able to hear the Grateful Dead's set? 

I didn't hear them but I ended up playing a tour with Levon Helm's band the Rco All-Stars in which we opened for the Grateful Dead and I think we actually sat in and played a couple of tunes with them. So I did hear them subsequently. 

How was playing with the Blue Brothers different than say, playing with Frank Zappa? 

Well I played with Frank Zappa. I'm on one of is most famous albums, his Live in New York album, and with Zappa there was so much highly technical stuff, you just had to really really get it together. It was cooking though... It wasn't like it wasn't burning. So it was just a different vibe, you know. Just the tunes themselves, everything was much more challenging. And with Blues Brothers it was basically kick ass rock and roll and R&B. Super high energy, you know it still is. We finish the opening medley and my stomach hurts from playing so hard.

When is the last time you played a gig with Dan Aykroyd? 

It's been three or four years I think. It was some kind of benefit, so I really haven't played with Dan in awhile. I saw him a few years ago at some kind of special event but we didn't play together. He goes down and plays with what he calls the Blues Brothers Band, an L.A. band with Jim Belushi and him. Apparently he tends to do more of it, but he hasn't played with us, the real band in quite some time.

Tell me about Highly Classified and your collaboration with Misha Segal. 

Well Misha and I met, he was translating for Blood Sweat and Tears for a TV show and at some point he wanted us to know that he was a musician also. He sat down at the piano, I remember it was around midnight, and I heard him. We started talking and hanging out and we became friends. And then he moved to New York, and then moved to Los Angeles and we always stayed in touch and I was out visiting him, I was playing with James Taylor, and I went over to hang, and have supper and he said I wanted play me some music and I went down into his studio and he played me his stuff and he asked me what I thought and I said well it sounds good, but there is something missing. He said, what's that? and I said it needs some fucking saxophone solos. So we started and actually and "The DJ Lied" is a first take, and it might be the only take. So some of the stuff from the CD was from that initial time, And we would do it back and forth, my friend John Tropea and I would work on the tracks in New York. Misha would send us the the side tracks and as we began doing that, we would say, the synthesized bass doesn't really sound that good, let's get a real bass, and get Anthony Jackson or Will Lee and then that would make the drums suck, and so we'd use a real drummer, Clint DeGannon and so that's the way it sort of worked and built from the ground up, but a real collaboration though. It was something that was a lot of fun. I'm proud of it actually, I think it;s a great combination of easy... Well it's not easy listening. It's some funky stuff. It's not like a real jazz album, it's not great big long solos but there's great jazz on it, on the part of everybody. So I like it. I'm proud of it.

What is the last album you purchased?

Um... Stockhausen. A recording of a famous piece called Gruppen by Karlheinze Stockhausen. And The Band, Greatest Hits of The Band. Wide variety. I listen to a lot of classical music.

Have you ever been to Des Moines? 


Do you have any memories?

Many years ago man. It was in the '60s when Woody Herman had me.. 1968. I may have been back since then, but I definitely remember being in Des Moines with Woody's band. It's changed a little but since then, I imagine.

Yeah, we actually have a hip little scene here now.

You know, that reminds me. It was a guy who was doing promotion for the Judy Belushi and Dan Aykroyd... They have a band that goes around and does an imitation Blues Brothers thing with guys who dress up like Belushi and Aykroyd and imitate them. I played a concert in order to get to see that movie last year and the young guy who was one of the promoters had moved to Des Moines. I don't know whether he lived there before or not but he told me the same thing, that there was a really hip scene there now. Some good restaurants, some music and some galleries, so that's cool I need to make back it to Des Moines.


Blue Lou Marini Official Website

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 3/25/13

Monday, March 25

Findlay Family Fun Fest at the Greenwood 7:00

Tuesday, March 26

Luke Fox at El Bait 9:00

Dan Jones at Greenwood 8:00

Wednesday, March 27

High Roller Express at Hull Avenue Tavern 6:00

Chris and Brenden Acoustic Duo at Fire Creek, WDM 6:30
Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band at Zimm's 7:00
Ron Burchett at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
Air Dubai w/ LoLove and the Paranoid Social Club at Gas Lamp 8:00
David Zollo at El Bait 8:00
The High Crest at Greenwood 9:00

Singer/Songwriter night at House of Bricks

Thursday, March 28

Ira Grace and the Bible Belt Prophets at Coda Lounge, Savery Hotel 6:00

Mary McAdams at Confluence Brewing Co. 7:30
Singer/Songwriter Night: Dirk Newton, Heather Miller, Luke Dickens, Alan Morphew at House of Bricks 8:00
Max Wellman Trio at Gramercy Tap 8:30
Open Jam featuring Fat Tuesday and the Greasefire Keys at Gas Lamp 9:00
Soul Searchers at Greenwood 9:00

Friday, March 29

Work Reease party w/ Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band at Gas Lamp 4:30

Brother Trucker at The Grapevine, Clive 7:00 Sold Out!
One2Punch at Fire Creek, WDM 7:00
4onthefloor, North of Grand, Zachary Harper at Wooly's 8:00
Roxi Copeland at Peace Tree Brewery, Knoxville 8:00
Sutherland, Ankum and Thompson at Star Bar 9:00
Kris Lager band w/ Deadnote at DG's Tap House, Ames 9:00
Fancy Pants at Greenwood 9:00
Late Night Lucky at Underground 9:00
Lil Iffy and Andy D at Gas Lamp 9:00
Obsidian's Dream and TBA at House of Bricks 9:30

Oreo Meatwagon plays Raccoon River Brewery Saturday night.

Saturday, March 30

Briar Rabbit at the Grapevine, Clive 5:30

Bill Matykowski at Smokey Row Coffeehouse 7:00
Kris Lager Band at Gas Lamp 9:00
Corn Meal w/ Mooseknuckle at Wooly's 9:00
Oreo Meatwagon at Raccoon River Brewery 9:00
Crooked Mile at Longest Yard, WDM 9:00
Homegrown at Greenwood 9:00
The $nack$ at the Underground 9:00

Sunday, March 31

Harper at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00

Chrash feat. Golden Bloom at Gas Lamp 8:00
TBA at El Bait 8:00

Thanks to Bryan Farland for compiling this weekly list! (Additions/corrections always appreciated.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Summer Music Festival Preview: Camp Euforia

The weekend of July 12-13 will mark the 10th anniversary of eastern Iowa's most enduring music festival, Camp Euforia. Camp will once again be in full swing on Jerry Hotz's farm in Lone Tree, bringing with it the diverse culture, the fun, the flippancy, and the music that makes it one of Iowa's premier summer weekend getaways.

Camp Euforia takes place the weekend of July 12
in Lone Tree, Iowa. (Click to enlarge)
This years' lineup will showcase many of the talented acts that call Iowa home, as well as several national acts who will be making their first appearance at the euphoric campground. Of course the party's host band, Euforquestra will play both nights on the main stage, as they have in the past.

"It's hard to believe that we are coming up on our 10 year anniversary as a band, and for our festival, said Mike Tallman, guitarist for Euforquestra during an email exchange. "It's been a crazy ride, full of lots of ups and downs, but it's been a learning experience the whole way and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Eric Quiner, of Cornfed Productions, organizer of the festival agrees. “Ten years is an incredible milestone. Maintaining great relationships with our community is the key to our success.  The constant collaboration of ideas and input from the community inspired the culture of Camp Euforia’s music and made it into what it is today.”

Eufprquestra at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins last year
Photo by Tobin Voggesser of NoCoast TV.
(Click to enlarge)
Camp Euforia will offer a little something for everyone from a Saturday morning yoga session to late night campfire singalongs. Tent and RV camping is available. A carnival-like atmosphere will greet music lovers as they enjoy the (hopefully) beautiful Iowa weather and bask in the glow of one of the most diverse festival lineups anywhere. The weekend promises to be a kaleidoscope of Psychedelia, Funk, Bluegrass, Rock, Dub, Jazz, Afrobeat and Reggae.

Mike Tallman adds, "Camp Euforia was born as "Euforquestra's Fan Appreciation Party" but grew in to full-blown music festival before our eyes. Over the years we have built an amazing crew and family that help make it all possible. At this point it's a well-oiled machine and we couldn't pull it off without the help of our director, stage and production crews, volunteer coordinators, volunteers, ticketing agency, vendor coordinators, and of course, Jerry Hotz." 

Bands from Michigan, New York, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Colorado, New Orleans and Chicago will be featured along with several representations from Iowa's own unique music scene.

Pimps of Joytime
One band that will be featured is The Pimps of Joytime, from Brooklyn. This will be the Pimps second time playing in Iowa as they headlined a show in Iowa City once before. Brian J., the front man of the band says that they are anticipating coming back to Iowa for the good people and the good times that they had enjoyed previously. "You know, there wasn't a lot of people there," he said of the Iowa City gig. "But the people who were there were very enthusiastic, and we were invited to an after-party and it was a fun night all around." 

The Pimps are looking forward to another Iowa party, as their sound is perfect for the Camp Euforia setting. Brian J. describes the band's sound as, "... a combo of Funk, with elements of Soul, there's elements of Pop, there's some Rock and Roll, Blues thrown in, and then this kind of Afro-beat, Latin vibe here and there." 

It should be the perfect soundtrack to a blazing hot summer in the midwest.  

"Camp Euforia gets better every year, and 2013 will be no exception." Tallman explains. "We've put together our best lineup yet and Euforquestra will have lots of great music in store to celebrate our last decade. We can't say "thank you" enough to those that have supported us along the way. We love our family, friends and fans and we can't wait to sweat it out in the Iowa cornfields with you this Summer!"


Tickets are available at Please visit for more information. For volunteer information, please email

You can check out Euforquestra and Camp Euforia on Twitter and Facebook also. See the links below. 

Pertinent Links:

Euforquestra on Facebook

Camp Euforia on Facebook

Pimps of Joytime on Facebook

Euforquestra on Twitter

Camp Euforia on Twitter 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 Questions With... Cartoonist Tony Carrillo

When Gary Larson's The Far Side was "retired" as a concurrent feature on the comics page in 1995, what remained was a giant sinkhole of cartoon emptiness. The comics page had lost it's general so to say. We still had Charles M. Schulz for another five years and Bill Keane up until 2011, but as far as modernism goes, The Far Side pretty much reigned as the comic supreme.

Larson's style was uniquely his own when he started out in 1980. The skewed view of the world through his eyes was a hit -largely because it was written from a perspective not yet tapped into in the mainstream comic world - a wonderful mixture of reality's flaws and overlooked absurdities that reminded us that there was plenty out there that we weren't paying attention to. His single panel cartoons exposed society for what it is - a large spinning ball of contradictions and frivolous mayhem in which we often take ourselves far too seriously.

His style opened the door for many contemporaries. Bizarro, drawn by Dan Piraro and Non Sequitur  by Wiley Miller are direct descendants of The Far Side, as is Max Cannon's Red Meat, if only in a minimalistic sense. 

Another comic that is drawn in the same vein is F Minus. Drawn by Tony Carrillo since 2002, it also tackles the inconsistencies and obvious pitfalls of mankind and exposes preposterous realities in a comedic light. In my opinion, F Minus is the closest there is to establishing the kind of humor that we grew accustomed to with the Far Side, and in many cases, it's even more brilliant. Life is funny... But it usually takes a funny person to expose it's humor. We  get that with Tony Carrillo and F Minus.

Tony Carrillo

From the official F Minus website:

In December of 2004, F Minus was named the winner of the 2004MTVu Strips Contest, chosen by judges Scott Adams of Dilbert and David Rees of Get Your War On, as well as more than 200,000 online voters. Creator Tony Carrillo received a development deal with United Feature Syndicate. On April 17th, 2006, F Minus began worldwide syndication, and is currently in over 150 newspapers. In the first year of syndication, F Minus was nominated for a National Cartoonist Society division award: Best Newspaper Panel, and nominated again in 2009. Two F Minus books have been released, the first titled F Minus and the second, F Minus: This Can't Be Legal.

Thanks to Mr. Carrillo for taking the time to answer Five Questions. 


Click to Enlarge
Your cartoons are very funny... Where do your ideas come from?

Most of the time, the ideas come from filling a sketchbook with nonsense until I come up with something I can use, but some of the comics are loosely based on real life experiences. Everyone I know at some point claims one of my comics is about them, which is never the case. Almost never.

Obviously drawing comics is like any other job whereas it has it's pitfalls. Is the occasional "writer's block" ever an issue, and if so how do you deal with it?

I get writer's block all the time. Getting stuck in a routine is usually the cause. My best method for breaking it is getting out around people. Working from home, it's easy to become a crazy hermit, so I'll go to a coffee shop or mall and get ideas by listening to conversations around me. The general public is pretty nuts.

Click to Enlarge

Is F Minus the only project that you are connected with?

F Minus is my main focus, but I always have other projects I'm working on. I do a lot of writing. For about a year and a half I wrote a monthly humor column for a local publication, which I'm planning on publishing as a collection. I will also occasionally show artwork at locations around town. Unfortunately I am incapable of multitasking, so sitting and thinking about what an elephant might say takes up most of my time.

F Minus's Facebook page seems to be keep pretty busy based from activity from your fans... Do you have any crazy fan stories?

F Minus fans are awesome. I've received really kind letters from people all over the world. It always amazes me that people would take the time to do that. I've heard from soldiers in Iraq, and kids getting in trouble for drawing F Minus comics in class. I rarely get recognized, but one time a guy waved me down at a stop light just to tell me he liked the comic. Bonus: It really impressed my date.

Of your own comics, do you have a personal favorite?

I don't have a personal favorite, but I'm happy whenever a particular element of a comic makes the gag work, whether it be a character's expression or the wording of the dialogue, etc. I think the key to this comic is the look of anger and incredulity on the dog's face.

Click to Enlarge

Bonus Question: What's the last concert you attended?

The last concert I attended was the Stone Temple Pilots.


Pertinent Links:

F MInus Official (You can view many more of Tony Carrillo's cartoons here)

F Minus on Facebook

F Minus on Twitter

Tony Carrillo on Twitter 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bryan's List of Musical Happenings 3/18/13

Monday, March 18

Findlay Family Fun Fest at Greenwood 7:00
We Are Voices at Gas Lamp 8:00

Andy Fleming will be playing at El Bait on Tuesday night
and again on Saturday at the Val Air Ballroom

Tuesday, March 19

Ryan Bingham w/ Honey Honey at Wooly's 8:00
Andy Fleming at El Bait 9:00
Acousti-Beast at Greenwood 9:00

Wednesday, March 20

High Roller Express at Hull Ave Tavern 6:00 ($1.00 Beers Too!)
Bob Pace Band at Zimm's 7:00
Jason Walsmith at Raccoon River's Songwriter Night 7:30
Ben Wantland at Greenwood 7:30
No Standard at El Bait 8:00
G. Love and the Special Sauce w/ John Fulbright at Wooly's 8:30
Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies at Gas Lamp 9:00

Thursday, March 21

Rainbow Penley at Coda Lounge, Savery Hotel 6:00
Max Wellman Trio at Gramercy Tap 7:00
Daphne Willis at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Tony Bohemcamp at Confluence Brewing Co. 7:30
Open Jam feat. Fat Tuesday and the Greasefire Keys at Gas Lamp 9:00
Soul Searchers at Greenwood 9:00
Soul Asylum w/ Trapper Schoepp and the Shades, Fatal Addiction At Wooly's 9:00
Dirty Bourbon River Show w/ the Spicy Pickles Jazz Band at Vaudeville Mews 9:30

Friday, March 22

Work Release party w/ Bob Pace at Gas Lamp 4:30
Daphne Willis at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Women Writers in the Round at Ritual Cafe 7:00
Crowder, Stetson and Cia at Wooly's 7:30
Ruckus at House of Bricks 8:00
Moday Mourners at the Garage, Indianola 8:00
Thankful Dirt at Star Bar 9:00
Harper and the Midwest Kind at Gas Lamp 9:00
ACME Sound Company at Greenwood 9:00
Aries Rising CD Release Party at Underground 9:00
Mike Zito and the Wheel at Gas Lamp 9:00 

Saturday, March 23

Julie Jurgens at Ritual Cafe 5:00
Rubber Boot Bash: Brother Trucker, Matt Woods, SP3 at Val Air 5:00
Wendy Freund at Ritual Cafe 7:00
Steve Parry at The Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Bill Matykowski at Smokey Row Coffeehouse 7:00
Antique Fog Cafe at Vaudeville Mews 8:00
Latin Night at House of Bricks 8:00
Critical Mass: Rage Against the Machine Tribute at Wooly's 8:00
Can o' Worms at Greenwood 9:00
Brian Holtz Band at Star Bar 9:00
Rob Lumbard at 1st Ave. Speakeasy, Newton 9:00
High Roller Express at La Paris cafe 9:00
What Made Milwaukee Famous, Why Make Clocks, H.D. Harmsen at Vaudeville Mews 9:30

Sunday, March 24

Kelly Ritchey at Byron's, Pomeroy 5:00
Chad Elliott at Grapevine, Clive 5:30
Bigfoot Diaries Live Webcast (on this website) feat. Jacob County  7:00 
Claude Butch Morgan at the Grapevine, Clive 7:00
Chad Elliott at El Bait 8:00 
Dharmonic Deluxe: Why Make Clocks, Vaj of Courage, Spacecamp at Gas Lamp 8:00

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lost Interview dept. - Paul Grace Smith of Dumbell

From the forgotten archives comes this interview I did a couple of years ago with Paul Grace Smith of the punk band, Dumbell. For whatever reason, the transcription got filed away, and essentially forgotten about until today when I rediscovered it. 

Dumbell was formed in 1996 by Smith after he departed from Sonny Vincent's Shotgun Rationale where he played with the likes of Cheetah Chrome (The Dead Boys), Greg Norton (Husker Du), Richard Hell (Television), Mo Tucker (Velvet Underground), and Bob Stinson (The Replacements). Dumbell was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, modeled after The MC5, The Stooges, and the Velvet Underground. 

A constant on the tour circuit, Dumbell has built a huge fanbase in Europe, and is currently on tour in the United States. They end up in Smith's native Ohio on April 16, then it's off to Europe for yet another extended tour.

Dumbell: Coming to D-Town this Friday

The following interview was conducted after Dumbell's tour across Europe during the summer of 2011. Joining Smith on tour was Jamy Holliday on guitar and vox (who remains in Dumbell), Ilias Vassiliadis on drums, Magnus Sellergren (The Plastiques, Svarta Maria, The Norliss Tapes, and Call Me Greenhorn) on bass and vox. 

Tell me about the evolution of the band from the first night on tour to the final show?

It pretty much ripped from day one. The guys really did their homework, and made sure that the stuff was kicking right outta the gate.

Is there one moment that comes to mind that would define this particular tour?

Stinky sneakers? NO! It was defined for me by the fact that a bunch of guys that never met each other, and who were so fundamentally different could pull themselves together and get along.

How was the fan reception at your shows? Were there any awkward moments on stage or at venues where things got a little "weird"?

The reception was really great! We only had a few strange moments, for example the last show in Aachen Germany, there was no stage, and it definitely wasn't the kind of place where slam dancing would work. some kid knocked over a PA stack and it smashed my guitar. A nice side note is that he kid sent me 40 bucks a month to pay the repair! Sweet guy!

Paul Smith

What was the biggest moment of surprise while on this tour?

The great reception in some towns that were elusive to us over the years. Bochum, Germany, we haven't played there in a decade, and the show was a smash!

Fans can get a little crazy at times... Was there one or more fans that stick out as more memorable who attended your shows? Did you have fans following you on the entire tour or at certain legs of it?

Crazy fans, the above mentioned POGO kid, who I would say is now my pal. And we had some of my friends showing up at random shows like Bochum, Aachen, Koln, and Paris of all places. My sister and her best friend Rene joined us for a few days in France as well, and that was a real hoot!

How would you describe the typical European fan?

Just like the typical punk fan anywhere. Enthusiastic and informed about music and the history of punk.

Tell me about the other bands you played with on this tour...

The homebreakers from Italy were pretty swell, and furious people in Spain (We will do a split with them in the future.)

How would you describe most of the venues that you played in?

They ran the gamut, from squat house to upscale venue. We make it work no matter where we are!

Paul Smith and Magnus Sellergren in Orihuela, Spain in 2011
How did the set list differ from show to show... Or did it stay pretty much the same?

It stayed pretty much the same, I would omit a song here or there if i was feeling like a whimp.

What's next for Dumbell?

New album, new tours in Europe and the USA and South America!

What is the future of Dumbell and this particular line-up?...

This is sadly the only run for this lineup. Jamy stays on board, but Ilias has work related issues that limit his ability to tour. Magnus has his other projects to tend to.

Any plans for a tour in the United States?

At the time of this writing, we did a short stint in the USA, more on that later!

My apologies to Paul for holding on to this interview for so long. Maybe he will allow for a newer updated version after Europe 2013. Currently the band is Smith, Holliday, Craig Nichols, and Derek Gullet. 

Current Tour dates 2013:

  • 03.17.2013: USA-San Antonio,Texas, Nightrocker
  • 03.22.2013: USA-Detroit, Michigan, Corktown Tavern
  • 03.23.2013: USA-Lima,Ohio, Avalon Bar
  • 04.16.2013: USA-Cincinnati,Ohio, Motr Pub
  • 04.18.2013: D-Düsseldorf, The Tube
  • 04.19.2013: B-Gerouville, The Paradise
  • 04.20.2013: D-Freiburg, Rängtengteng
  • 04.21.2013: CH-Solothurn, Kofmehl
  • 04.22.2013: F-St.Etienne, T-Bird Lounge
  • 04.23..2013: F-Lyon, Trokson
  • 04.24.2013: F-Bordeaux, Saint Ex
  • 04.26.2013: F-Montpellier, Le Mojomatic
  • 04.28.2013: I-Tortona, KM0
  • 04.29.2013: I-Bucine (Arezzo), Specter Club
  • 04.30.2013: I-Florence, Tender Club
  • 05.01.2013: I-Loreto (AN), My May Festival
  • 05.02.2013: I-Marina di Montemarciano, Chalet Beach
  • 05.03.2013: SI-Ilirska Bistrica, MKNZ
  • 05.04.2013: SI-Maribor, MC Pekarna
  • 05.05.2013: HU-Székesfehérvár, Pucok Undergr. Club
  • 05.06.2013: A-Vienna, Arenabeisl
  • 05.08.2013: D-Töging, Silo 1
  • 05.09.2013: D-Tübingen, Epplehaus
  • 05.10.2013: D-Kassel


Pertinent Links:

Dumbell Official

Dumbell on Facebook

Dumbell on Twitter

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Item 9 and the Mad Hatters: The Chronic Illness

The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked (Earthtones Studios) 

Not since Blood Sugar Sex Magic have I heard a funk album with this much attitude.

Item 9 and the Mad Hatter's latest CD, The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked is a heavy exhalation compared to their previous release, Old Style. In the time in between the two recordings, the band had obviously spent more time playing together because with this latest release they are much tighter musically, a bit more daring vocally, and overall a helluva lot more funky.

Don't get me wrong, Old Style was a good record. But The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked is Old Style and  say... three or four shots of purple Mad Dog. Plus about two rips from the Graffix.

Press photo from their website
(Click to enlarge.)
Iowa City has a rich tradition of producing prominent funk bands, from Funk Farm and Captain Barney from the '80s, to Dagobah in the '90s to modern bands like Zeta June and Dead Larry. Item 9 falls right in place with these guys, and have become a prominent part of the funk evolution that has occurred in eastern Iowa.

The album starts off with "The Queens," a rapid fire mental intrusion that seems to fire a warning shot that this indeed is a step above Old Style. Adam Maxwell's vocals almost take you by surprise with his Danny Joe Brown-esque throatal assault. The guitars are solid, the drums are better than average, and the bass is ridiculous. The foundation to any good funk album is a ridiculous bass player, and these cats have that with Amo Montgomery. I am always amazed at the fluency at which the great bass players play their instruments, and Montgomery meets that protocol. He's all over the place, in a way that is expected within the funk genre. Along with Rob Abrams' precise drum playing, Montgomery delivers a snappy backbone to the band's attitude-driven sound.

The attitude is evident in the music, but mostly in Maxwell's vocal delivery. The lyrics are delivered with an intensity that causes the listener to take a break from breathing, as if  he or she is waiting for a chance to exhale. His rapid fire delivery is impressive enough, the fact that he lays down the rhymes without stumbling  is mind bending.

The guitar work on the album is sharp and clean, dirty and mean. Pete Lower and Matt Bryks trade barbs back and forth, reading off of each other like a crispy audio reflection. Funk is especially good when it's greasy AND sticky, a combination that seemingly contradicts itself, but is somehow pulled off by these two young axe slingers.

Item 9 and the Mad Hatters live recently at the Hull Avenue Tap
(Photo by Bigfoot Diaries, click to enlarge.)
The entire album works this way, from the opening track to the final one, all of which make a freewheeling statement about the band's passive attitude when it comes to social interaction, enjoying fine drink, and passing the glow stick. The Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked is about good times and enjoying life only as one can while they are still young enough to do so, before all the heavy shit comes down later in life. 

As a man who is already old enough to be dealing with the heavy shit, I can certainly get behind that. 

I caught these guys live at the Hull Avenue Tavern in Des Moines about a  month ago. Simply put, these guys are a must see live band if they come to your area. I'm not going to say that they are one of those bands that one must see live to appreciate, because the Chronic Illness: Freshly Baked clearly stands on it's own. But  I will say that when they do play live the energy that they create is fantastic, and much like their record, their stage performance is all about the party. I've rarely seen an audience having so much fun at a gig.


Pertinent Links:

Item 9 and the Mad Hatters Official

Item 9 and the Mad Hatters Facebook