Interview with Gillian McGhee of Turnspit
Phil Collins - February 13, 2018
Chicago punks Turnspit release their debut full-length album, Desire Paths, this Friday. You can stream the whole album now over at New Noise Magazine. I pointed this out earlier this year as one of the albums to look forward to in 2018. It is full of catchy, emo-tinged pop punk songs that are as high on meaning as they are on hooks. Look for a full review here later this week. Desire Paths was recorded right here in Chicago at Atlas Studios. Preorder the album through Dodgeball Records. Catch Turnspit live at their album release show this Saturday at the GMan Tavern with Retirement Party, Blood People and Third Twin Sister. More info on that show here. I chatted with guitarist and vocalist Gillian McGhee about the new album, live shows and making a hot sauce.
Phil Collins: How does it feel to have it coming out where people are going to hear the full album and kind of having it released to the world in a few days here?
Gillian McGhee: Right now I just feel like there is so much to do before that actually happens but I think we're all just ready ... We started recording it in December of 2016. It's just, you know, we've had these songs for a long time and we're so proud of it and we've been sitting on it for a long time ... We're just super stoked to have people finally hear what our sound is now as a band. We've matured a lot since those (2015 and 2016) EPs.
PC: I'm sure kind of announcing the record and then putting out a song and then putting out another song, that's a good lead up and it gets people excited about it but having recorded everything I'm sure you must be ready for people to just hear the whole thing already.
GM: Yeah, definitely.
PC: You said you have kind of a lot of stuff to do between now and it coming out, is it mostly promo stuff and getting ready for the release show or what does that look like?
GM: Yeah, totally. Just even like scheduling an interview like with you, doing a couple podcast things ... promoting the record release show. Just a lot of things getting tied up leading up to the release.
PC: The sequencing of the songs on the album comes off very deliberate to me. It makes a lot of sense switching off who's on lead vocals if you're listening track to track and the tones of the songs. How much did you guys bounce that around?
GM: That was really important and I have to credit Jason with the bulk of that. Because sequencing is something that personally for me, I had a general idea of like oh this song should be at the beginning and this song should be toward the end, whatever. Jason really took over and really analyzed the sequencing and I will say, almost every interview that we've done or friend that we've sent it to, one of the first things that they mention is how smart the sequencing is. That's something that as a songwriter, you don't always think about because your songs are like the meat and potatoes, right. But the sequencing is really important and is something that I never really had to think about too much because I just put out solo EPs with three or four of my songs. This was a different beast with different songwriters and I think the fact that people are noticing that is really really awesome. That was a lot of Jason's doing but we all obviously agreed as a band on the final order of everything.
PC: As a full album listener, in the music industry at large, that's kind of been going off the wayside for the last several, many years. Since the whole Napster thing, it seems like people are just pushing more singles and stuff. So when that is apparent on an album, I definitely appreciate it because that's still how I consume music.
GM: We want to create an experience for people, whether that's our live show or our record. We spend time talking about our setlist as well. I think that just goes to show the amount of detail that goes into what we do, how we do it. It's not just like we get up there willy nilly and figure out what we want to play at that moment in time. Everything has a lot of forethought and planning. That's kind of how we operate as a band and I'm glad that that comes through on Desire Paths.
Read more here
Interview with Alex Reilly of Wood Chickens
Phil Collins - January 31, 2018
Madison cowpunk band Wood Chickens released their debut full-length LP, Countrycide, last summer. Jangly guitars race thumping bass on these country-laced punk tracks. Alex Reilly of Wood Chickens talked with me via email about the scene in Madison, touring and a couple new Wood Chickens releases coming soon. Last month, Alex shared his favorite records of 2017 with us. Read that here. Wood Chickens play two shows in Chicago on February 1. The first is an early show with So Pretty at Bric-A-Brac Records. Later that night they play at Cafe Mustache with Wet Wallet and Tijuana Hercules. Check their full run of February tour dates on their Facebook page.
Photo by Maggie Denman
Phil Collins: You included a couple bands (Fire Heads, The Hussy) from Wood Chickens' hometown of Madison on your top releases of 2017 list. Can you tell us a little about the music scene in Madison?
Alex Reilly: The music scene in Madison is stupendous! There are tons of bands and a lot going on for the size of the city. A significant chunk of the scene is focused on punk / garage rock / powerpop, but Madison's a diverse mixed bag of artists who are always collaborating and forming new bands. Wood Chickens have only been involved in the scene here for a few years but many folks are saying that it's at a peak and the best that it's been for quite some time.
PC: What kinds of venues are prominent for punk shows? Are they mostly in bars or DIY spaces?
AR: There are always DIY spots coming and going - basements, warehouse spaces, etc. - but Mickey's is a great bar venue that's been around for decades and they throw some of the best shows in town.
PC: You played at Subterranean for Ian's Party recently, how was that show? Did you get to do any venue hopping?
AR: Ian's Party was a helluva good time! There were tons of talented acts and the energy in the room during our set was incredible. We stuck around Subterranean to see our buds Nobunny headline that night.
Read more here
Interview with Deanna Belos of Sincere Engineer
Phil Collins - January 24, 2018
Sincere Engineer's debut album, Rhombithian, knocked us over last year. So much so that it won Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket. Deanna Belos is the singer and songwriter behind these songs. She talked to me via email about the response to the album, playing shows with Brendan Kelly and puking. See Sincere Engineer this Saturday night at Subterranean (downstairs) with Blood People, the Reaganomics and How It Got Burned. More info on that show here. Read Deanna's list of her favorite albums of 2017 here and read my review of Rhombithian here.
Photo by Randy Korwin Photography
Phil Collins: First off, congrats on winning our 2017 best albums of the year bracket. It is no easy feat as the bracket kind of takes on a life of its own with four people voting. Has the overall response to the album surprised you?
Deanna Belos: Thanks so much! :) The response has definitely surprised me. We’ve been very fortunate with the amount of press and attention it has gotten. I try not to “read the comments” too much, but it seems like a lot people are diggin’ it, which is exciting!
PC: Has your perspective on any of the songs changed now that you have a little distance from the recording process and have played a few shows with the full band setup?
DB: I think so. I hear a lot of people say that they like the song Overbite best, which I find interesting because it’s not one of my favorites. That song in particular is weird for me because I stopped playing it at solo shows...the guitar part is very repetitive and the lack of dynamic makes it seem (to me) like a drag to listen to (and play) at a live show. That being said, it’s one of my favorites to play with the full band.
PC: Overbite is actually my favorite song on the record. I think it’s great lyrically. I am a fan of that song structure that lets the verses ride for a while and then is more chorus heavy in the second half. What makes that song more fun to play with the full band?
DB: Thank you! I think it just hits so much harder with the band. And thanks to Matt Jordan’s producing talent, it turned into a fun listen. The lead guitar parts in particular are my favorite, and I think the lyrics come off more raw and honest when I’m yelling them over loud instrumentation versus the slow acoustic strumming I used to do, I guess. Also, I used to dread playing it by myself because of the (previously mentioned) guitar repetition, on top of the fact that it’s pretty long...one of the longest songs on the record, at a whopping 3 minutes (lol).
Read more here
Interview with Celia C. Pérez, author of The First Rule of Punk
Phil Collins - August 16, 2017
Chicago librarian Celia C. Pérez releases her first book, The First Rule of Punk, August 22 on Viking Books for Young Readers. The story follows middle school student Malú as she struggles to find herself in a new school. From afar, her father advises her to abide by the first rule of punk: be yourself. Malú finds joy in punk music, zines and skateboarding. Zine pages are included in the book as part of the story. Being a Chicago librarian with a dedicated space to talk about punk, I wanted to ask the author a few questions and chat about the punk librarian life. We talked through email about getting published, punk as part of one's identity, zine collecting, and more.
Women & Children First Bookstore in Andersonville hosts the book launch party for The First Rule of Punk on August 24 at 7:30 p.m. More information on that here.
Phil Collins: First off I want to say congratulations on the book. When did you start writing it and about how long did it take to get to the final product?
Celia C. Pérez:Thank you! I started writing a version of this character's story around 2012. At that time the protagonist, Malú, was a little bit younger than she is in the final book. I scrapped that and decided to rewrite her a little bit older. But it wasn't until late summer 2014 that I settled on the character as a twelve-year-old and wrote what became The First Rule of Punk. I signed with my literary agent in the summer of 2015, and the book sold to Viking last summer. In between summer 2014 and May 2017 there was a lot of revision and editing happening. So, in all, it took about three years from when I began writing this specific story to its publication date of August 2017.
PC: Were you working at your current library throughout the writing process? Was it hard to find time to write while having a day job?
CCP: Yes, I work full time as a librarian. I'm fortunate that I work at an institution where librarians are faculty. We have the same nine-month schedule as other faculty which leaves me with summers off, as well as student breaks like spring break and winter break. A lot of work got done during those breaks. It was still tough to write and work full time, especially once my manuscript was acquired and I was working with deadlines. A lot of work was done in the evenings after my son had gone to bed, especially zine work because unlike a manuscript that I can carry around and work on whenever I have a free moment, zine making for me requires space to spread out and a bunch of supplies all over the place.
Read more here
Interview with Jahshie P of MoonRunners Music Festival
Phil Collins - April 17, 2017
MoonRunners Music Festival brings together country, roots and punk for the fifth year running, May 5-6 at Reggies. This year's lineup includes country and roots mainstays Shooter Jennings, Scott H. Biram, Pearls Mahone, Jesse Dayton, The Hooten Hallers and punk bands Escape From the Zoo, Evil Empire, Still Alive, Won't Stay Dead and more. I talked with Jahshie P, founder of the festival, recently on Skype. He also plays in the local punk bands Last False Hope and The Decayed, both of which play this year's fest. We talked about the origins of the fest, MoonRunner's fifth year and how roots/country fans respond to punk and hardcore.
Phil Collins: Congrats on year five of MoonRunners Music Fest.
Jahshie P: Thank you.
PC: Yeah, absolutely. How, can you just take us through how this whole thing got started and have you been at Reggies all five years?
JP: Yeah, it’s been at Reggies all five years. It actually started, me and my friend Shooter Jennings had a website called moonrunnerscountry.com. It was a news website, reviews, show reviews, just random posts, stuff like that. That ended up going under, it got hacked by somebody, something went wrong and the site crashed. I started a music festival right around that same year so I decided to take the name from the website and move it along to the festival so there’s still the MoonRunners name going on.
Read more here
Don't Panic Records Interview with John Olivier of Ghost Bath
Danny Brawlins - March 8, 2017
After releasing their critically acclaimed second album, Moonlover, Ghost Bath has been nothing but busy. In 2016 alone, the band signed with Nuclear Blast, started touring, and recorded a new album. 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for the band as well. Just last week they released “Thrones,” the first single from their upcoming album, Starmourner, which the band will be touring on in the coming months. I managed to track down guitarist, John Olivier, for a brief email interview ahead of their DeKalb show at the House Café this Friday because 1) we love the House Café and 2) Moonlover came in third place on Don’t Panic Records & Distro’s list of top ten Black Metal albums of 2015.
How has touring been? What do you like most about it, what do you like least? Any towns stand out as your favorites so far?
This tour has been incredible so far. We all just really enjoy being on the road, away from the normal "comforts" of life at home. Some of the drives on this run have been pretty long, but all in all this tour has been nothing but good things. It’s hard to pick a favorite city, every place is so different, but I think my favorite venue so far was in Madison, WI.
Have you developed any tour rituals over the past few months? I for one like to find a good dive bar and record store in every city I visit.
We all typically do our own thing, but me personally, I like to drink some whiskey and smoke weed before we play. Not a copious amount by any means, just enough to clear my mind.
Read more here
Interview with Christina Michelle of Gouge Away
Phil Collins - February 6, 2017
Florida hardcore punk band Gouge Away was the surprise winner of Change the Rotation's 2016 best albums of the year bracket. , Dies is their debut album and admittedly, we don't know a whole lot about them aside from the fact that we all held that record in high esteem last year. If at the beginning of 2016 you looked at what albums on the horizon would probably do pretty well on our end of the year bracket, surely you would think of the Falcon, Against Me! and PEARS. Well, Gouge Away took down all those bands on their way to the championship. Now that the dust has settled, we thought it would be a good idea to see if we could find out a little bit more about this band and their future plans. Lead vocalist Christina Michelle talked with me via email to fill us in on what is happening in the world of Gouge Away. If you haven't heard , Dies yet, stream it at the end of the interview. You can also read Steve O's original review of the album here.
Phil Collins: I remember when we first announced the 32 records on our best albums of the year bracket a month or two ago, you commented that you didn't really understand what that meant. Now you've won the whole thing. Do you get it?
Christina Michelle: Yes it makes more sense now.
PC: Did you get hooked on any albums in 2016?
CM: Yea! 2016 was the year for music. There were a lot of awesome releases but the ones that stuck for me are Lemonade by Beyonce, Stage Four by Touché Amoré, Peach by Culture Abuse, and I'm lucky that A Seat at the Table by Solange snuck in there last minute.
Read more here
Interview with Joe Vickers of audio/rocketry
Steve O - November 1, 2016
Edmonton’s audio/rocketry are releasing their first record in five years this week, and are following it up with a tour across Canada, with a stop down here in the States too. To celebrate the occasion, I talked to frontman Joe Vickers about the new record, the Midwest, music, travel, hockey, and dinosaurs. And more hockey. You know, normal stuff for any conversation I have.
Steve O: Hey, Joe. How’s it going in Edmonton?
Joe Vickers: Hey, it’s overcast and foggy. I farm with my dad; in the spring and summer we’re grain farmers. I grew up on this farm, and for the last 10 years I’ve been farming, that’s my main source of income. And this year, we’re still harvesting, which is wild. We’ve never been this late in the season ever before, but we had snow like two weeks ago and that set us back. I’m kinda stressed with the tour that’s happening next week and I don’t even know if we’re going to be done.
SO: Yeah, especially with you being that far north, this is really late into the fall.
JV: Yeah, normally we’re always combining end of August, September for sure, so when it stretched into October, that was kind of bizarre, but now it’s the 28th.
Read more here
Interview with Jack Terricloth of The World/Inferno Friendship Society
Phil Collins - July 10, 2016
Cabaret punks The World/Inferno Friendship Society embarked on a coast-to-coast tour last week. The band last released This Packed Funeral, which made the final four in Change the Rotation’s best of the year bracket in 2014. World/Inferno play Chop Shop in Wicker Park on Tuesday with Culture Shock and locals Voice of Addiction. More information on that show here. Lead singer Jack Terricloth sat down with us over Skype before World/Inferno’s show in Philadelphia on Friday. Jeff Young, violin player for World/Inferno, transcribed this interview. Jack talked with myself and Danny of Don’t Panic Records & Distro about life in the van, what’s coming up for the band and some Chicago memories.
Jack: Hey, how are you, my name is Jack Terricloth from that World/Inferno band.
Phil: Hey, doing pretty good, I’m Phil from Change the Rotation.
Danny: I’m Danny.
Jack: Danny, Phil, nice to meet you, what’s the good word?
Phil: Oh, doing pretty good, thanks for joining us, it’s a pleasure to interview you for the blog here, and we’re excited to have you coming to Chicago in a couple days.
Jack: Always love to be in Chicago. As you know, or maybe you don’t know, our baritone player is from Chicago, or lives in Chicago anyway. He was in that Deal’s Gone Bad band. Who were very good. I always thought it was a bad idea to have the word “bad” in your band name, but they did pretty well.
Phil: Well, here in Chicago we’re familiar with deals going bad, so it’s all right. So today’s day three of your tour, how’s it going?
Jack: Day three and no one’s punched each other yet. It’s all been a good time, I haven’t lost my voice yet, no, everyone’s fine, I would still like more sleep - you know, the first week of any tour, you’re still partying, and your body hasn’t realized that you should stop doing that, so as I just said to our friends in Culture Shock, by Seattle, we’re going to be great. The whole tour will be great, that’s just for me personally, I WILL be great in Seattle, but yes, everything’s cool.
Phil: Great. So Culture Shock, I’ve just become familiar with them myself, but we actually caught Subhumans a few weeks ago at the Double Door, fantastic show, have you guys toured with the Subhumans crew at all before this?
Jack: We certainly have, and I just have to mention that one of the members of Culture Shock is sitting across the room, so, anything I say about them will be sugarcoated- [whispering] terrible, god they can barely, they tuned - [all laughing] …Uh yeah, we’ve toured with Subhumans, god, for the last twelve years, an awful lot, and we toured with Citizen Fish once as well, so yes, old friends, old punk rockers, if they haven’t gotten along by now, they never will, but luckily, we have. Good guys.
Read more here
Change the Rotation chats with Fed Up Fest
Phil Collins - July 21, 2015
I had the chance to chat with Fed Up Fest tonight on Twitter. This is Fed Up Fest's second year featuring queer and transgender talent through music and workshops. The fest will be held in Bridgeport at the Co-Prosperity Sphere on Friday and Saturday, and at Benton House on Sunday. Check out the full line-up on their Facebook event page. Read the full chat for more information about the festival and what it stands for in the punk scene.
Dave Anians - November 15, 2014
Hoo boy! So it’s been awhile since one of these has happened. Green Dot Sessions has also been around for over a year. This is #7, and it’s with a real cool dude.
Stephen DeFalco is the singer of Chicago punk rock band Turbo Vamps and the main brain behind Friskie Morris and Friends, the awesome band/podcast. With the podcast, he interviews Chicago punk bands and labels/distros. It’s always a lot of fun to listen to and the bands are always badass.
I had been aware of and seen Turbo Vamps for quite a while, but I only met Stephen recently. We both have similar histories of the whole suburban white kid finding punk rock at a young age thing, but there are some cool differences as well. I had a lot of fun picking his brain and you’ll have a lot of fun reading about it.
Turbo Vamps: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Turbo-Vamps/91085749394
Friskie Morris: https://www.facebook.com/FriskieMorrisFriends
Friskie Morris Sessions (podcast): https://soundcloud.com/friskie-morris-sessions
Dave Anians 11/3, 12:10pm
hey dude! we'll get started now if that's cool. if you need to ask any questions or interrupt at any point, that's fine. ill edit it out. other than that, this is super laid back. take as much time as you need for answers, there's no deadline or anything
that being said, please fill in the banks:
Hey! My name is __________________________ and I _________________.
Stephen DeFalco 11/3, 12:50pm
Hey! My name is Stephen DeFalco (Friskie Morris) and I am D, all of the above.
Dave 11/3, 1:20pm
Rad! what's your favorite thing about music?
Stephen 11/3, 1:42pm
Aw man the answer is kind of two fold for me. The therapeutic effects it can have and the ability to bring people together. With the therapeutic effects I mean if you look at most Friskie Morris/Turbovamps songs there are no ex-girlfriends being written about or love songs...they are all personal stuff that's got a darker side to that I wouldn't really open up and talk to someone about so I use music. There is something about screaming all the shit at the top of my lungs that is exhilarating. It's that music as therapy idea that has kept me sane these last 10 years lol. The second being the ability to bring people together directly puts me at a soccer match; I played since I was 4 all through school and a little in college. Even simple musical chants just brings chills up and down my spine. I'll never forget walking into the Fulham Futbol stadium in England and just feeling the ground shake because everyone was singing together the same tune and it just took my breath away. Only music can bring people together like that.
Read more here
Dave Anians - May 24, 2014
Billy Mack travels around the country and plays songs for all kinds of people in all kinds of places. He sings about his life with a small six string ukulele that allows him to travel on megabus for most of his touring. He plays fun/weird/driving/excellent songs about excellent things. Somehow I’ve known him for less than a year and have already played with him like 4 or 5 times. That’s pretty cool. He’s cool. We talked about interesting stuff because he’s an interesting person. So come read about it! Please…
His newest album is out now! It’s really good: http://billymackcollector.bandcamp.com/album/its-okay-to-carrot
Here’s a vid of him playing a song with a bunch of Folk-O-Rama friends in DeKalb:
Read the full interview here
Dave Anians - May 9, 2014
Gina, from Constantine (Travis and Ian) are two super cool dudes who play fun/catchy/inspiring folk punk. Even though we’ve only known each other for over a year or so now, they’re quickly becoming one of the bands I’ve played the most shows with. We have a lot of similar ideals when it comes to music and we’re now part of a quickly forming group of Chicago area folk-punk bands (a scene, if you will, oh my).
They have a new album in the works and (as I’m writing this (5/4/14)) tomorrow we’re playing with one of our favorite bands Ghost Mice. Things are really cool.
I talked to Travis about the usual stuff and it was fun and now please read it, thanks!
Read the full interview here
Dave Anians - February 17, 2014
Hey, here’s a new edition of Green Dot Sessions! It’s been a bit, but this is a good one.
Henry Brawlins (Kevin Sawa) is a songwriter/poet/drummer/singer/photographer. He writes and plays for The Stockyards and Sleeping is my 9 to 5. He’s got a lot of passion and a lot of things to say. His work is very real and really good.
We talked about art and music and punk and drumming and you can just read it.
Sleeping is My 9 to 5:
Read the full interview here
Dave Anians - December 8, 2013
Chris Dertz is up next! Chris’s current music project is called Bedroom Sons and it is an awesome mixture of acoustic/rock/indie/punk/whatever/it’scool. He hails from west Illinois but currently lives in Chicago playing shows and hangin out. I’ve known Chris since the open mic era of my college experience and have done a split with him and even played bass for a few Bedroom Sons shows.
He’s a cool dude, so I asked him some of the same questions as the previous Green Dots and some new questions and all that so check it out.
B Sons has a new album out as well, and it’s really good, and you can find it here.
Read the interview here.
Dave Anians - November 13, 2013
Our next Green Dot Sessions is with Paul Aluculesei, a Chicago area guitarist and studio manager and freelance engineer at IV Lab Studios. I’ve known Paul since high school and he has always been a solid dude and an excellent musician. In the past three or so years, he has recorded, mixed, and mastered a solid chunk of my music. It has been a very fulfilling experience as I learned how to not sound like total crap and he learned how to make sure I didn’t, culminating to our last big project at IV Lab, my concept album WAITT (woo self plug!): http://daveydynamite.bandcamp.com/album/waitt
He’s a guitarist in two bands currently: Fathoms and more recently, Warforged.
Check out a badass video of Fathoms that I show people when I drink too much here (my favorite part starts around 2:40).
As a metal/progressive guitarist and a professional audio man, Paul has a lot of experience in things that I have very limited knowledge and understanding of, so this was fun! Hopefully you’ll think so tooooo. Read the interview here.
Dave Anians - October 7, 2013
Welcome to the new Green Dot Sessions! These are interviews done over facebook messaging, which allows both parties to take time to formulate responses and chat in a less formal way. I’m super new to the whole interviewing business, but I think this will be a fun way to get to know musicians from all around and the way they write and feel about their role in the music world.
Also, I’m probably not gonna stay in the background of these interviews. Many of the people I’ll be talking with are good friends, so including my own stories and relationships with these people will make it easier for me and hopefully give a fuller picture of what I’m trying to show from these interviews.
So yeah! Thanks!
Check out our first Green Dot Session, featuring Jake Joyce of Seasonal Men's Wear: