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2014 playlist

Three weeks into the new year and people are still wishing each other a happy one. This is starting to really annoy me, I just want to forget about christmas and new years and get on with my life. But here I am, sharing my 2014 playlist one month late. This is simply a collection of songs from 2014 that I really love. Last year I spent most of my commute reading, which together with some really bad months, has kept me away from music. Hell, I didn’t even go to many concerts apart from Obits, Primavera Sound and the Great Cynics/Joyce Manor/Cheap Girls show in Trier. This playlist, although hurriedly made during the last week of the year, really takes me away from the bad months and fills me with positivity, so I plan on making it the soundtrack to the beginning of 2015.



The Beatles in Spain

A few weeks ago Mary-Lou and yours truly made a real effort to wake up on a Sunday morning to do cultural things rather than spend the day in bed wondering if that last beer was really necessary. We went to see an exhibition called The Beatles in Spain, and let me tell you, it was worth waking up for. 
Mary-Lou, some Spanish gentlemen and the Beatles 
Unlike every Beatles exhibition I’ve ever seen, this one doesn’t feature some toilet paper Ringo used when he was 15 or George Harrison’s first condom. Instead, it focuses on the cultural impact that the band had in 1960s Spain, a country that was ideologically and culturally about a century behind the rest of Europe.

cracking design

Apart from Spanish editions of Beatles records, there were also records by Spanish bands who, taking advantage of The Beatles’ success, used their image, name and/or songs in order to sell more copies. Some of these were hilarious and I can’t wait to listen to them.

Christian World: The Beatles, a fatal symbol for our youth?

The representation of The Beatles in the Spanish press is also pretty funny. There is an abundance of magazine covers featuring the fab four, as well as newspaper and magazine comics (all of them making a reference to their hair and how wild they are) and teenage press.

It’s pretty fascinating how their hair alone could be such a symbol of rebellion and modernity, especially when you consider that a similar haircut is now favoured by members of the Spanish conservative party. Ah, the irony of history.
“official” merchandising with spelling mistakes
Another thing that I find amazing is how song titles were often translated into Spanish, sometimes with really funny results. In fact, my mother owns Beatles sheet music from the 70s with all the lyrics in Spanish. I think this might be the root of Spain’s general inability to speak English. 
The exhibition takes place in Zaragoza’s Centro de Historia until the beginning of August. 

May 2011 – a playlist

It has been ages since I last posted a playlist, hasn’t it? It doesn’t mean I haven’t made any since my Valentine’s day playlist for tortured souls, I just haven’t been in the right mood to post them, but here is one. Somebody (who puts out great records that you should buy) made me an awesome playlist not long ago. I have been listening to it a lot and found about some great bands thanks to it, so I was reminded of the power of the mixtape and thought I’d share my latest with you. I know it’s already May and I’m supposed to be making summer mixes, but I felt like something calm and slightly melancholic, so I’m defying the norm. I’m sure a pop-punk summer playlist will follow soon.
The download includes a .pdf file with the cover that you can just print, fold and insert into a plastic sleeve. I’ve also added it to 8tracks for those who want to listen first. As usual, if you like the artists buy the records, go to their shows and buy them Jägermeister shots, they’re all rad.

01. P.S. Eliot – Sore Subject
02. The Love of Everything – Unsizeable
03. Lucero – Can’t Feel a Thing
04. Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud
05. Laura Stevenson and the Cans – Nervous Rex
06. Mountain Goats – If You See Light
07. Nana Grizol – For Things That Haven’t Come Yet
08. Nick Drake – Things Behind the Sun
09. Pavement – Heaven is a Truck
10. Pixies – I bleed
11. Silkworm – The Lure of Beauty

Lennon Wall (Prague)

When I planned my trip to Prague last February I was quite shocked to find there was a monument called Lennon Wall. Was there a connection between the Beatles and Prague that my 20 years as a Beatles fan missed? No, not really, but there was indeed a connection between Lennon’s message and the political climate in Eastern Europe at the time.
The Communist regime considered the figure of John Lennon to be a subversive one. Not only was he a hugely influential figure from the West, which automatically made him an enemy, but his messages of peace and freedom were considered to be threatening to the government’s ideals. His music was forbidden and some people were even sent to prison for playing it.
Of course this prohibition worked to make John Lennon even more of a hero to young liberals at the time, and his death further elevated him to the status of a spiritual guide of sorts. You know how it is with young ones, you just have to ban something to make it even more appealing. Upon his death exactly 30 years ago today, somebody dared to challenge the authorities by drawing John Lennon’s face on this wall, and others followed adding Beatles lyrics and other Lennon-related images. Despite the placement of a guard and surveillance cameras, and attempts to repaint the wall, the Lennon wall has continued to be covered in graffiti and has come to represent a monument to anti-communist sentiments and freedom of speech.
The wall is constantly changing as Lennon fans and assholes alike add their own interpretations to the wall, from amazing drawings to Limp Bizkit graffitis. It’s a shame that there is always some asshole to ruin a nice memorial (see my annoyance at Oscar Wilde’s tomb). A quick google image search reveals that the wall has indeed seen better times, but it still has its charm. I think it’s great that these things are kept as a reminder of our recent history.

The Sound of Summer 2010

This is my summer mix. You can listen to it on the player below, but keep in mind that it will only respect the tracklist the first time you listen, so if you like it I recommend you download it. As usual, if you like any of the bands please support them, buy their records, go to their shows and send them love messages on myspace.
01. Intro
02. Off With Their Heads – Die Today
03. Fake Problems – Heck Yeah Summer!
04. Snowing – Pump Fake
05. Latterman – Rebellion vs The Alarm Clock
06. Silver Scooter – Brain & Heart
07. Above Them – Keep Smiling
08. Descendents – In Love This Way
09. Avast! – Ahab
10. Defiance, Ohio – Chad’s Favourite Song
11. Peter & Craig – Let’s Go Surfing
12. The Promise Ring – The Deep South
13. Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind Of Cadwallader
14. Surfer Blood – Twin Peaks
15. Apologies, I have none – 100 Club
16. Calvinball – A Toast to Those Who Drink the Most
17. Dillinger Four – Doublewhiskeycokenice
18. The Ergs! – Honolulu Hornrims
19. American Football – The One with the Tambourine
20. Pirouette – Yellow Car I Called It
21. Teenage Cool Kids – Speaking in Tongues
22. Dauntless Elite – Energy Kids Rule Forever
23. Pennines – Does Not Want
24. Chuck Ragan – Done and Done
25. Tigers Jaw – I Saw Water
26. Iron Chic – Steel Wall Method
27. Delay – Name That Feeling
28. Grown Ups – Surprise Party
29. Stapleton – Shoulder Length Summer

8tracks mix #1 – Music to write essays to

Tracklist (on first listen)
01. The Moirai – Dear Alison, I am not a cynic
02. Damien Rice – Coconut Skins
03. Eluvium – Perfect Neglect in a Field of Statues
04. Aloha – You’ve escaped
05. Bob Dylan – Fourth Time Around
06. Pygmy Lush – Frozen Man
07. Elliott Smith – Waltz #2
08. Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) – Year of the Rabbit
09. God is an Astrounaut – Fireflies and Empty Skies
10. Iron & Wine – Love and Some Verses
11. American Football – But the Regrets Are Killing Me
12. Neil on Impression – Ode to Bigriver
13. Jason Anderson – You Already Have
14. The Appleseed Cast – Mare Mortis
15. Wilco – Please Be Patient with Me
16. Do Make Say Think – Executioner Blues

My friend Alex introduced me to 8tracks yesterday. It’s one of those websites where you can upload playlists. There are some rules like the playlist needs to be over 8 songs and when the same person listens to your mix for the second time the song order changes. Still, I think it’s pretty cool. You can embed mixes, lastfm scrobbles the stuff you listen to on the website (!!!) and there is an option to update your twitter automatically whenever you post a new mix. I’ve been browsing it a bit and this website needs more awesome, so I encourage all of you to join and make brilliant mixes for me to listen to. Above you can see my first one, it’s a mix I made to listen to while writing essays on a Saturday night while my friends are at a festival seeing awesome bands. Here’s a link to my profile on 8tracks. Also, check out the mixes Alex made. They’re brilliant.

Happy May16. Old Lagwagon interview

I know May16 was yesterday, but I didn’t have the time to post this. Well, that’s a lie. I just didn’t want to miss Eurovision. Anyway, I was going to make a lazy post pointing out the fact that May16 is an amazing song and May16 should be declared an international holiday. Instead, I spent ages translating an old interview with Joey Cape. I believe this was made in January 2006.

Hello Joey. What are you up to?

Not much really. I just woke up and I’m drinking coffee and spending some time with my wife and daughter. You know, the usual. We have breakfast together every morning and I spend some time watching my daughter play.

A real family man! Shall we start with the interview?

Yeah, go on.

Right, so the first question is really obvious. Are you happy with Live in a Dive?

I am! Live records sometimes don’t sound too good and I am happy with ours because I didn’t expect too much from it. I expected it to be disappointing. A live album only represents one or, in our case, two nights out of all the shows you’ve ever played. And you put it on record and it stays there forever. That’s why I think it’s a bit dangerous, but both shows were pretty good and I’m happy with the result.

What was it like to play a show knowing beforehand that it was going to become an album? Did you feel pressured?

We were really nervous. It was the first time we had been nervous before going on stage for years! We did feel the pressure. Quite a lot actually. Eventually we just had a couple of drinks each and everything was alright.

How did you choose the setlist? According to what you felt like playing or what people wanted to hear?

The album was recorded in two different nights, so the setlist was completely different each day so that we would have a bigger number of songs to choose from. Overall we recorded about 50 songs. I think that the actual reason why we chose the songs that ended up on the record is because they’re the ones we were playing at the time. We’d been on tour for about six weeks, so things were quite clear and we knew which songs work live and which don’t. So I think that the songs that ended up on the record are not really the ones we wanted to put on it, but the ones that sounded better. Do you know what I mean? To be honest, some of the songs were not good enough. It’s annoying because there are a couple of them that I really wanted to include in the live album, but we didn’t have a version that was good enough.

Are there any songs that you play just because people like them even though you’re sick of them?

Oh yes! The rest of the band absolutely hates playing Brown Eyed Girl.

Really? I read some reviews complaining that it’s not on the live album.

Well, we recorded it and it turned out perfect. It’s really easy to play. The thing is that the rest of the band…we all decided that if it was included on the life record it would just perpetuate…people would listen to it more and we would be forced to play it even more than we already do. We usually only play it in festivals and try not to play it on tour. We play it at festivals because many people don’t know our band and then at least they know one song. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it. I just sing and I’m not sick of it yet. I can’t believe I can’t think of any others right now, because there are quite a lot I don’t like playing. I’m sure I’ll think of more before this conversation’s over.

Right, so next question. Even though Live in a Dive is not out until next week, it’s been online for quite a while. How does this affect a band like Lagwagon?

Well, you know, it’s the way things work now. I try not to worry too much about these things. Before releasing a record you know it’s going to be online and anybody who doesn’t want to pay for it will be able to get it for free. It’s useless to worry about it. Besides, I think it’s kind of cool because, you know what? It’s music, it’s a form of art. You can’t make people pay for something that’s art and to me music is art, so it shouldn’t cost any money. Bands have to get used to technology and adapt themselves to them. By the way, I didn’t know the album had already leaked.

Yeah, it’s been around for some weeks.

Oh, I know why! It’s because in Japan it was released before, so it’s natural that it’s already online. We’ve tried to avoid our past 2 albums leaking before the release date, but it was inevitable with this one.I think if you’re in a band and people can’t wait to hear your new record you should feel lucky. It’s quite a big thing.

Now that we’re talking about the internet…I’ve heard a few Lagwagon bootlegs. How do you feel about people recording your shows and posting them online?

I think it’s great! The only thing I don’t like about it is that sometimes the sound quality is not very good because they haven’t been recorded properly, but the energy of the live show is kept intact, which is something that is sometimes lost when you record a live show professionally. Sometimes they are manipulated so that they will sound more like a studio album, and that doesn’t always turn out right, you lose that atmosphere you get when you record it from a little microphone in the middle of the crowd. Besides, the band is not aware that they’re being recorded, so they act without the pressure that involves knowing that everybody is going to hear that show. We actually talked a lot about this before recording the live album. We didn’t want it to sound like a studio record, we wanted to capture what a live show is actually like. I think we’ve found some kind of middle ground. It doesn’t sound as polished as most of Fat’s live albums, some of them sound too good. I think ours is a little bit like that too, but at the same time we made sure that there were enough microphones for the crowd and that the volume was loud enough. You know what? I think a live record will never be as cool as a bootleg. They have something special, they’re natural. That’s why I think it’s great that people record us. The only problem is that sometimes you might sound terrible and then everybody will hear it.

Changing the subject, have you got any plans with Bad Astronaut?

Yeah, we’re recording an album! We’ll finish in a couple of weeks. Bad Astronaut is a really strange band because we really don’t have any money at all. Don’t laugh at me! It’s true! The label doesn’t give us much money. We don’t sell a lot of albums, so they can’t afford to give us more. Most of the money to record the last album came out of my own pocket. We also spent a lot of time on it, it took ages. I made the sacrifice because it is something I really wanted to do, I just did it for pleasure. For the next album we’re only going to use the money the label gave us, so it’s not going to be very good.

You can’t say that before it’s out!

Well, you know…it’s okay! It’s just going to be different. At least that’s the way I see it. I’m quite happy with the songs and like I said before it’s just something I do for pleasure. I’m not sure many people get the band, I think people generally don’t understand us.

Yeah, I was going to ask how you think Lagwagon fans have reacted with your “softer” side.

The Acoustic album got a better response because after all most songs were No Use For A Name and Lagwagon songs, so that was much easier. But I think Bad Astronaut suffers a lot from the association with Lagwagon. People listen to it and think it’s just the whiny version of Lagwagon, especially those who think we’re punks and listen to Bad Astronaut expecting to find something aggressive. They just think “what the fuck is this?”. Maybe Bad Astrounaut would be more successful if it wasn’t associated with Lagwagon, but then again nobody would have listened to them. I am happy with what I have. I think if you make music and people like it enough to listen to it and even pay for it you have to consider yourself a lucky person. My life is actually great.

When you write a song, how do you decide if it’ll be a Lagwagon song or a Bad Astronaut one?

I think in a way those decisions make themselves. Usually when I write something I play it to the rest of the band and sometimes they just don’t work. The first Bad Astronaut album is just a collection of songs that, for some reason, didn’t work with Lagwagon. The leftovers. It’s just songs that have been written for years and had never been used. The thing is that now I don’t have anything that hasn’t been recorded, so I have to write new songs. What I’ve done with this album is just to record all the new songs, so everything I write after this will be for Lagwagon. But one day things will change and I don’t know what will happen then. It won’t be easy. It was definitely a lot easier when I had all those unreleased songs, that was great.

You’re gonna have to work more!

Haha, yeah, it’s gonna be like a real job. But I don’t know…I was going to say that some of the songs I write don’t sound very well if they’re played aggressively, and what we do with Lagwagon is aggressive, so if a song work that way I save it for Bad Astronaut.

I see. I was going to mention that I really like what you did in the acoustic split with Tony Sly. It’s pretty different from all the acoustic versions of this type of music.

Thanks! That actually makes me really happy. It’s very strange, because doing that was really hard. I tried with every single Lagwagon song. All of them! I tried everything and it was just really strange. It was difficult.

And how did you decided which ones to use?

A lot of songs just didn’t work in that format. Many others did, but I chose those with which I could do something different and, in a way, more interesting. So it was just really hard. I recorded a lot of songs.

Did you? Will they ever see the light?

I don’t know. I don’t even know where they are right now. There’s one I’d like to release. The guy who plays the harmonica in Bad Astronaut helped me. I think it was great, but Fat Mike didn’t like it, so we didn’t include it. It’s a shame.

Do you think these experiments will influence the next Lagwagon release?

No, I don’t think so. The only influence is that now that I had the time and the opportunity to do these things I will be able to devote myself to the new Lagwagon songs. I’m not sure that Lagwagon…well, I never know what we’re going to do next, but I doubt we’ll change a lot. Something really funny happened to us. We went to Japan and every single night there was an acoustic guitar for me. The worst of it is that they really thought I was going to play an acoustic show!

Is that why you make a joke about an acoustic show at the beginning of Live in a Dive?

No. That was actually recorded before we went to Japan. I just thought it was funny, especially because I never see myself as the Dashboard Confessional guy. It’s just not what I want to do. It’s funny because I felt pretty bad when I had to tell them the show wouldn’t be acoustic.

Now that you mention it, I think an acoustic tour with Tony Sly would be amazing.

I actually wanted to go on tour with Tony so we could both play the other’s songs. That would have been great. I think it would be fun, although we would have to simplify my songs a little bit because they have too many instruments. The only thing is that we’re both very busy with our bands, so I don’t think we’ll be able to find the right time. Tony would love the idea, he’s really brave and he’s already played this kind of show before. I’ve never done it before. I’m actually really scared. I think you need to be really confident to play an acoustic show and that’s not part of my ego yet. It’s never been one of my priorities, but if it was with Tony I could do it.

Well, I hope it happens one day. We’ve mentioned the next Lagwagon release. What’s happening with that?

Yeah, but we’ve just started working on the new songs. Right now I’m working more on Bad Astronaut’s album, but as soon as that’s finished we’ll start doing some serious work. I hope it doesn’t take us four years to release something again, but with Lagwagon I can’t promise anything. It took us ages to write ‘Blaze’. I think we just want to be really sure that the record will be good. That’s one of the things we will always do, even if the delay makes us lose popularity. We’d never release a record if we weren’t sure it’s good.

That’s cool. Too many bands hurry and then release albums with just a couple of decent songs.

Exactly. What’s the point in getting excited about one of your favourite bands releasing an album and buying it only to realise there are only two acceptable songs? I don’t know. We’re getting old and we might not be as creative as we were, that’s one of the things that happen with age. It’s harder to make a record now than it was a few years ago. I think now I appreciate music in a deeper and more complex way, which makes it hard for me to be satisfied with something I have created. Do you know what I mean? I’m not gonna write a silly song with a couple of chords and get excited about it. Most of the time I am my worst critic. That’s why we should be careful. If you overanalyse everything you might destroying the process and discarding things that are actually good. With Lagwagon we don’t have that kind of problem anyway, we work in a pretty democratic way. Sorry about that, I got a bit carried away.

That’s okay. You talked about losing popularity. The last time I saw you live was in London a couple of years ago and I was truly shocked that you’re playing smaller venues there than in Spain, especially considering it is a bigger city and with a more active scene.

Yeah, there was a time when playing London was awesome, but lately we’re not as popular in the UK anymore. I think it’s a bit like in America, people depend more on fashion and are not as passionate about music as people from Germany and most other countries. Their tastes change really easily. I think what happens in the US and the UK is that people tend to listen to one thing a lot, then it’s not new anymore, they get tired and stop listening to it. It’s what happened with Californian punk rock. It’s really weird because we’re not played on the radio or anything, we’re not a part of that world of major labels and MTV, but that kind of thing still happens once in a while. It really doesn’t affect us too much because we’re still making records and we go on. But you’re right, the last two shows we played in London were really sad. Especially the last time. That was a disaster. We played in a really big venue and the sound was terrible, but apart from that it was the worst audience we’ve had in ten years. I swear, I remember we were playing and I kept on thinking that I never wanted to play in London again. It just made me really sad. They didn’t like us at all! I couldn’t stop wondering what the fuck we were doing there. There shouldn’t be shows in that venue, it’s one of the worst in the world. People in Spain are very loyal regarding music. It’s strange, because I don’t think it’s that easy to get tired of Lagwagon. We’re not on TV or on the radio. I understand people getting tired of songs that are everywhere, but we’re not part of that, so I don’t understand why someone would turn their backs on us completely. But anyway, it’s not the end of the world.

They might be loyal, but the last time you were here you were hit on the head with a lighter.

You’re right! That was the day after Johnny Cash died, I remember it. In spite of the incident it was still a fantastic show, I had a great time. I’ve been hit on the head by so many things that one more doesn’t really matter! I’ve never had to be taken to the hospital or anything. The worst thing is when people throw something light at you, like a t-shirt or something like that, because you see it coming and think it’s going to be heavy and try to avoid it looking really scared and you just end up looking like an idiot, it’s embarrassing.

Last question. How do you feel when people talk about how most Fat Wreck bands are already past their best moment?

I think they’re right. I’ve talked to Fat Mike about this and we both agree that unless you reinvent yourself you’ll never make a record that’s better than the best record you’ve already made. The problem with most musicians is that they think they can keep on making the same record a million times and one of them an amazing record will come out. That’s exactly what you cannot do. What I like about Lagwagon is that we change a lot, and that allows us to make decent albums instead of clones. But I think our best record has already been made. I don’t know if it’s ‘Thrashed’ or ‘Hoss’, but what I do know is that we’ll never make anything better than them. And you know what? I don’t really mind, it’s just the way things work. There’s a moment in the life of every band that’s just unbeatable, a moment in which all the aspects of that band work perfectly and they release their best records. I don’t think those two records are masterpieces, but I don’t think we’ll ever make something better because at the time the band’s potential was at its highest. The fact that your best moment is gone doesn’t mean you should give up music, just that you have to reinvent yourself at least a little bit, try to change and make something different.

It’s also a suitable date to show this to the world.

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