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Tapes 'n Tapes

I just posted a groovy little interview with one of my favorite indie bands, Tapes ‘n Tapes. They were on tour last spring in a kickin’ tour bus (a rare and special thing for bands of their ilk), and were kind enough to invite me and my camera person, Ellie Lee in for an interview.

I love when my favorite bands turn out to be really nice people. These guys couldn’t have been sweeter or more generous with their time, especially considering they really needed to be inside doing sound check (in fact, their drummer was checking drums inside during the interview). I want to thank them and their manager, Keri Weise, for being such awesome guests.

And you can bet I’ll be adding beer and honey to my next batch of chili (thanks Erik!)

My Favorite Chili Recipe

The upcoming Tapes 'n Tapes interview (and the cold January weather) has me thinking about chili. Erik, the bass player for Tapes 'n Tapes likes to make food in mass quantities and his favorite dish for a crowd is chili. His secret ingredients are beer and honey.

The interview will be posted soon, but in the meantime, you should try out my own favorite chili recipe that I've been perfecting over nearly two decades, including a few unexpected extras that make it more complex and interesting.

See Jen's Favorite Chili Recipe

CWRS on Pitchfork Media

I got a tip today from Jeremy Bruch (What Made Milwaukee Famous) that the Britt Daniel episode of Cooking With Rockstars got a little write-up on Pitchfork, in the Forkcast section.

I've been a Pitchfork fan for years and highly recommend it as a music research tool and addictive time-killer. How very exciting!

Please Kill Me.... again!

Please Kill Me, The Uncensored Oral History of PUNK
by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

I’ve just started reading Please Kill Me for the second time, and it remains one of my most highly recommended books of all time. It paints a picture, full of intimate details and sprinkled with photos, of the punk scene, laying down a foundation with The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, The MC5, and The Stooges, and continues through The Ramones and Sex Pistols, with many other notable bands woven into the timeline. I’ve learned so much from this book about how my favorite bands, as well as other names that were just kind of familiar, were related and influenced by one another.

But what makes this book such a fascinating read is that it is an oral history, stringing together snippets of first-hand accounts of what went down back in the day. And the thing is, the stories often conflict. Take these excerpts from which the book gets its title:

BOB GRUEN: The first time I saw Richard Hell, he walked into CBGB’s wearing a white T-shirt with a bull’s-eye painted on it, and the words Please Kill Me written on it. That was one of the most shocking things I had ever seen. ...

RICHARD HELL: I don’t even remember wearing the Please Kill Me T-shirt, though I do remember forcing Richard Lloyd to wear it. I was too much of a coward.

or this:

DEE DEE RAMONE: ... Then Iggy just looked at everybody and said, “You people make me sick!” Then he threw up.

IGGY POP: It was very professional. I don’t think I hit anyone.

RUSSELL WOLENSKY: I was up front… Iggy got me on the shoulder.

The authors make no effort to find out what really happened, because that what history is: imperfect memories and individual perspectives.

The other thing that stands out in this book is the level of depravity and self-destruction that was prevalent in the early punk scene, summed up for me by the story of Sid Vicious filling his syringe from a toilet full of every substance the human body has to offer.

It boggles the mind, and leads to a pretty fascinating read… twice!

Spoon interview... Take 2!

The interview with Britt Daniel of Spoon featured this week is actually the second interview I did with him. The first was back in 2003 in Providence, RI, and it turned out to be an utter disaster.

First, we waited until after his set to chat, so Britt was pretty wiped out. There was also an impressive blizzard brewing outside, which added a sense of urgency (particularly since I didn’t know how I’d get home that night).

But the real problem was that I didn’t have any lavalier mics, and all the camera mic picked up was the sound of tables being dragged across the club floor as they were closing down for the night. The result was total cacophony with Britt’s lips moving and no discernable sound coming out.

I had considered posting the interview anyway with subtitles… or even more tempting, with subtitles that weren’t actually what Britt was saying. For example, while Britt was talking about heating up beans, I could write “First, I sear the fois gras while preparing the balsamic reduction” (you get the idea). In the end, I decided just to shelve it and hope that I’d get a second chance.

My second chance came when I ran into Britt at the Austin Convention Center during the 2007 SXSW festival. He remembered me and agreed to do another interview the next time he was in New England. I managed to nab him in New Haven, CT before his show at Mr. Toad’s.

In the time between interviews, Spoon’s popularity continued to rocket with the release of two critically acclaimed albums (Gimme Fiction, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) and appearances on Letterman and, recently, Saturday Night Live. By the time I get around to my third interview, they’ll no doubt be rock superstars! And in my opinion, deservedly so.