An Interview with Heavy Jack

heavy jack

The following is an interview with Heavy Jack, one of my favorite bands on T61.

On July 15th, 2008, I met Heavy Jack. From the moment I heard their music I was seriously blown away. Not long after posting a comment on their wall I was even more amazed that thee seasoned musicians were so young yet performed with a solidity of an established band.

I have never seen 20 wall posts on a band's 'wall' for just the first upload. The enthusiasm these guys generate through their hard driving music and grateful acknowledgment of listener appreciation is contagious.

Here's the story of a band of brothers in their own words. I asked the questions and here are their unedited responses.

myktoronto: How did you come up with the name Heavy Jack?

Ben Falk: Heavy was always going to be part of the name in regards to the Heavy rhythm section that Adam and Jon laid down. Initially I thought of Heavy Cherry and envisioned this massive cherry. However after closer consideration a massive cherry wasn't a moniker any of us wanted to wear.

Adam Falk: Both me & Jon agreed that it needed to be Heavy something and I suggested Heavy Jack - Jack being the name of Ben's guitar whom he had named in memory of our Grandfather, Jack, a proud Canadian soldier. If you want to meet Jack you can find him relaxing inside the J of the Heavy Jack sign on the main entrance page of our website

myktoronto: So, about your first gig... how did it go? Anything embarrassing, funny or incredible happen?

Ben: There are two gigs that come to mind, but the one that meets the true definition of "first gig" would be at "Manhattan's," a local pub in Cowtown, so not quite New York. I was outside the Mac's convenient store with some buddies when I heard music coming from Manhattans. I was underage at the time but I strolled in and talked to the owner Mark. He was really supportive of local indie music and was just a really nice guy. We had a great time and great night that show. Shortly there after we headed west and moved to the Okanagan Valley on B.C. Canada to look after our other Grandfather Jake (not Jack) where events would come together that would eventually lead to the gig that solidified our commitment to Rock & Roll.

Jon: When we arrived in the Okanagan we had a chance encounter with a resident nurse Bernie, who was looking after our Grandfather in the extended care hospital. He heard our sound and suggested when we were out in Vancouver we go see his brother-in-law.

Adam: His brother-in-law was John McLaughlin, an Entertainment Columnist for The Province Newspaper in Vancouver. We showed him the demo CD we had recorded at the time & he said he knew some people @ the Yale and he would pass it on to them.

Ben: We lined up the show and had three weeks to come up with three hours of material so we headed back to the Okanagan and made that home. A local Penticton Pub, Cousin Larry's, gave us the ability to road test our sets for the upcoming gig at the Yale. Our show was on a Thursday night the 20th of September, nine days after 9/11. We didn't know what type of atmosphere we would be walking into. Turned out that there was an ample crowd but not a full house for a Thursday night. We were still underage at the time and when we showed up we heard the usual remarks like, "great, what are we in for tonight?" and ," What is this the Hanson brothers???" We set-up and fired off a quick rendition of Gate Mouth Brown's ,"Better Off With the Blues," for sooooouuuuund check. Which quickly grabbed peoples attention and quashed the earlier comments.

Jon: The show didn't start till nine so we decided to take stroll up Granville street to help with the nerves, leaving all our gear unattended on the stage.

Ben: We get back and are informed that "This is the big city boys and leaving your gear unattended is not a very wise move." We then began our three hour tour of the Yale stage, dropping originals and covers alike in front of an enthusiastic crowd. At the end of it of it all we felt pretty damn proud of our selves and were certain that this was the road for us.

myktorontoIs there one of you that does the majority of songwriting and where do your themes come from?

Ben: As the guitarist I do most of the writing however anything I bring to the table is then re-evaluated as a band. The approach to song writing I choose is kind of a different process in my view.

When I first started out on the guitar I took lessons from a local guitar instructor Brian Griffiths. An incredible player who has a great story himself (read some on our website He taught me how to listen more than read and how to feel more than play. This was done using Blues as the vehicle for inspiration.

My buddy at the time, Dan, handed me a cassette tape with a few Hendrix songs on it. The one that spoke to me was "Red House" from there I became enthralled with Blues artists like John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. When I got back into the Rock guys. I heard a definite thread that connected them to the blues. In reading about both musical scene's, the blues scene and the rock (mid 60's mid 70's) in guitar magazines and other resources, I became puzzled in the conclusion these publications were making. That conclusion being that there would never be another time period in music like that again.

I thought of course there can't be another time like that, but maybe one could get similar results applying some of the same methods. In the beginning of my guitar lessons I tried to place myself in the times of, for example, a youthful Beck or Page, listening to the music that they grew up listening to as well as the music they would eventually create. I was also being influenced by the music my peers were listening to, music from the 80's 90's and on. Because of technology (DVD, You Tube and Mp3) coupled with the access to a massive back catalogue of music and with the guidance of Brian, I was able to recreate my own community which I was then able to apply in real time with Adam and Jon.

As our band began to take shape and work cohesively as a unit we imagined that Heavy Jack had come out as a peer to the groups of the great Rock & Roll movement during the late 60's and early 70's. This helped in the inspiration and the crafting of our own original material. Another crucial element was in not learning any songs by our favorite artists note for note. Instead we would take their songs and rearrange them so there was a familiarity of the original but also an original approach from our end. Now through the feedback from sites such as and along with reviews coming in on our music, it looks like we are achieving our aim of creating a new sound based on familiar themes.

As for the theme of Multiply the songs were written with current events and universal themes in mind. In doing so, I was able to create a sort of character foil for the more personal themes that the songs are about. Lending a familiar ambiguity to them with out having to wear my heart on my sleeve.

myktoronto: Once a song is written what's the process that brings it all together?

Ben: I have never written anything down, if it's good then it will stay with me. So the process is coming up with many good pieces and constructing a finished product that is refined and tempered through a constant process of jamming. Music usually comes first then words follow. However "Peace Soldier" and "Bandits In the Night" are the exception.

Adam: I approach the bass as a supportive role, so I tend to write parts that help push what Ben has already laid down. In a live situation I have more freedom to play both rhythm guitar parts & bass parts @ the same time because of the trio format. It is easy play rhythm parts on a bass guitar using power & diatonic chords in the mid-to-high registers - allowing Ben some room for strict lead playing when needed.

Jon: As a drummer I have a very different approach than most. I guess it is due to applying my fills and beats around the guitar more than the bass in our early years of playing. Now I have married the two styles and try to incorporate ideas on the drums that revolve around both the guitar and bass at the same time. For me it's all about feel - Ben or Ad come up with a riff or idea and I feel out the best beat to fit that riff or idea.

myktoronto: Would you say, or how has your music evolved since your early tunes?

Ben: The tunes on Multiply are some of the first songs that we wrote, Bandits In the Night being the first. These songs were not written with much musical theory in mind. They were more like a musical jungle gym for us in the beginning that allowed the freedom of exploring music and sound without boundaries. The studio allowed us to solidify the arrangements of these 8 songs. In terms of writing and playing there is a continuous evolution.

myktoronto: Did you experience any obstacles or challenges along the way outside of an obvious artistic challenge to do better?

Ben: Yes we have encountered challenges and obstacles along the way but hardship and struggle are the two main ingredients that go into being a successful Rock & Roll band.

myktoronto:Are either of your parents musical or from families with musical backgrounds?

Adam: Both of our parents have always had an appreciation for music, but are not musically knowledgeable. Outside our immediate family we haven't had much contact with the extended family for many years, I think some of them did have some ability - who knows we could have an entire brass section lined up and not even know it.

myktoronto: Have your parents always been supportive of the band and the fact that even though you were underage you performed in clubs?

Ben: Our parents always support us in anything we do. In the beginning they had to be present as we were underage and required a guardian to play jams or gigs in the bars. Initially we even had to get permission from the government to play the bar stage. Now that we are all of age the humour of having to get government permission to Rock & Roll has never really escaped us.

myktoronto: Can each one of you list the brand or brands on instruments you use and the ones that are fav's and why they are special?

Ben: I have two electric guitars and an acoustic. My electrics are both Strats. I find them to be the most versatile guitars suitable for anything I demand of them. I use a Fender "Evil" Twin amp for both clean and distorted sounds. As well as delay and wah wah pedals for colour. I like to keep it simple so I rely on my fingers more than my gear. For the album I mainly recorded the guitar parts through an old Matrix MA20X - a 20 watt amp with an 8 inch speaker.

Jon: I have been fortunate to have drummed on many different kits in my time but I have only ever owned 2 sets. The first being my Duke Dixon drum kit and the second being my Pearl expert series. My true favorite kit, and the one that was used primarily on the album, is a Yamaha stage custom which we borrowed from Bully's Rehearsal Studio. I like to use SD1 Generals for my sticks because they are short and heavy which really gives me a bombastic sound behind the kit. Sabian and Zildjian our my cymbals of choice and I prefer to use a single bass drum pedal made by Gibraltar, it gives a really bouncy feel for my bass drum.

Adam: I own a Fender P-Bass deluxe, as well as an Ibanez TR-50. Both which I use for different purposes. On the album I mainly recorded through direct input, though the bass-line to Bushfire was recorded live through my vintage 70's Ampeg V-6B amp head. I also have an Epiphone El Capitan Acoustic bass which I recently had modified by Barry Ewert of Ewert Guitars in Vancouver - who added a thumb-rest to the sound hole - it's pretty bitchin'.

myktoronto: What three artists or album or songs are each one of you currently listening to the most.

Ben: For me music has to have had a 20 year shelf life and be nearing its expiration date before I listen to it. Lately I've been listening to a lot of old R&B stuff, big horn arrangements and tight pockets, artists like Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and Joe Cocker. This is because of the desire to write something that could stand along side those artists. Listening on an enjoyment level is a revolving door for my ears, the two constants being Jimi Hendrix and the Stones.

Adam: Lately I've been listening to English Settlement by XTC quite a bit - but the last two albums I listened to on my mp3 player were AoxomoxoA (the '69 original mix) by The Grateful Dead & Remain In Light by Talking Heads. The groups/artists that have had the biggest effect on me are The Doors, The Band, Frank Zappa, & Oingo Boingo.

Jon: I usually am pretty open to all sorts of music. I like to take into consideration a lot of varieties because it's just more musical taste that I can throw into my instrument. The bands and artists that my brothers listed above often have my ears attention but I also like good old classic rock & roll like Led Zeppelin, The Who, Supertramp etc. I also dig Canadian artists like the Tragically Hip, Neil Young, the Band and so on. To obtain a greater library of bands that we might not have heard of otherwise we started our own collection of vinyl to satisfy our massive musical appetite. I know that this is not three artists, but what can you expect from a musician.

myktoronto: How often do you rehearse and where?

Jon: As a band we try to get in as much time as possible behind the rig if you will. Our time is somewhat constrained as we live in an apartment and are considerate of our neighbours. We play on a broken down set-up, Ben and Ad with two small combo amps and myself playing with brushes using a drum throne as my snare and a old box as my bass drum. We still manage to throw down a pretty good sound on it though.

Ben: To satisfy the need to play on the big rig we go to our local rehearsal space, "Bully's Rehearsal Studios," located in New Westminster here in the Lower Mainland. They have a variety of rooms and gear so it's easy to just go in, setup, and unwind for a few hours and we also like to show up for local open mic jams around town when we can fit it in.

I can still think of a ton of questions I'd like to ask these guys. It's not hard to predict a great and well deserved musical future for the Falk brothers. Certainly Jon could go far as a band promoter as well. He's everywhere, introducing himself, returning tboxes, answering and posting on listener walls and keeping in touch with the Heavy Jack listener base by dispensing a steady diet of Radio Bumps.

Kudos HJ! and thanks for your great words and thoughts both musical and written

Visit Heavy Jack at: MySpace:, YouTube, Official Heavy Jack Web Site

Heavy Jack & CDBaby

Coeur de Pirate

As soon as I heard these tracks, I immediately posted them onto my little tumblr. Now I'm officially 'maxbumping' it over here too.

Coeur de Pirate - C'etait Salement Romantique

Coeur de Pirate - Comme des Enfants

From (translated bio from myspace):
Coeur de Pirate is 18 year old Béatrice Martin who has played the piano from the age of three. After five years of music education, she started composing her own songs in March 2007. Members of Bonjour Brumaire noticed her and asked her to join their group as singer and keyboardist. This spring Béatrice left the group to concentrate on Coeur de Pirate, her solo project. Her first self-titled album Coeur de Pirate was released September 16 on Grosse Boite records.

MaxBumps Mix II

I'll keep this briefly posted at the top of the page because I don't want to interfere with SumKid's video contest. Anyway, here's the second mix I created. Again, some new tracks, some old. A tad bit more folksy this time around, and I included a few artists that can be found on t61.

MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes

1. The Paper Cranes - I'll Love You Until My Veins Explode
2. Koufax - Roll the Dice
3. Pomegranates - In The Kitchen
4. Halou - The Professional
5. Emiliana Torrini - Heard It All Before
6. Katie Herzig - I Will Follow
7. Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez - Mostly A Friend
8. Margot & The Nuclear So And So's - As Tall As Cliffs
9. Wild Light - New Years Eve
10. Chad VanGaalen - Willow Tree
11. Pete Samples - Bobby Raindrop
12. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Our Hell

The Nobody Hole Video Contest Launches!

the nobody holeHip hop artist Sumkid and I have been feverishly working on a video contest to promote his incredible hip hop opera, The Nobody Hole. The theme is perfect for the Halloween season! Get out your video tools and be prepared for some awesome music and the possibility of winning some fantastic prizes. The grand prize is worth $2,800, including prizes by Noise Industries, Digieffects, Red Giant, CHV Plug-ins, Professional Video Templates, Toolfarm, plus some music and magazines. We've never done a contest like this before but tell all of your friends!

Press Release - For Immediate Release

Dunn Deal Artist Sumkid Launches Video Contest for Pioneering Hip-Hop Opera, THE NOBODY HOLE

The Nobody Hole Video Contest Winner Receives Thousands of Dollars in video software, applications, music, magazine subscriptions and more!

Los Angeles, CA –Over three years ago in Brooklyn, NY, rising MC and songsmith SUMKID architected an album that was so wildly ambitious it spilled over into film, visual art and theater. This album, a Halloween hip-hop opera called The Nobody Hole, is what LA-based and Southern-bred Sum describes as "a crazy adventure of epic proportions and a tribute to the influences on my imagination; from The Wizard of Oz, and John Carpenter's Halloween to R.A. Salvatore's The Dark Elf Trilogy and Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street." For the past three years, Sumkid has been gathering a cult following for the project, due largely to his Rocky Horror Pictureshow-esque Halloween event, The Nobody Ball, which combines live performance and visual art, a screening of The Nobody Hole's "moving storyboard", DJ sets, gift giveaways and food. However, Sum's biggest dream has been to one day breathe life into The Nobody Hole via motion graphics or animation…..

Now, in collaboration with The Good Look, Toolfarm and, Sum is announcing a video contest that will challenge the world of designers and animators to give life to one vast imagination and help push the bounds of what hip-hop culture can achieve. The mission is easy: pick one of three song choices from the album, and make the best animated video you can (the choices are all under 2 min long). The grand prize winner will win thousands of dollars worth of prizes, including a mega-bundle of top-notch effects and post-production applications for the video nuts out there, music prizes courtesy of Dunn Deal and Sumkid, and magazine subscriptions courtesy of culture impresarios Swindle and Frank151.

"I like to think that The Nobody Hole is a brand that's going to be as huge as Star Wars, The Matrix or The Lord of The Rings one day…and I'm looking forward to finding hungry and talented artists out there that can see that and be part of history with this contest. And hell, even if it doesn't get that big, we'll still have a damn revolutionary project on our hands," says Sumkid, creator and writer of The Nobody Hole.

Sum, The Good Look and Toolfarm want to see what these graphics designers are made of. The Web site is loaded with details and a full version of the album for fans to listen to. It houses all of The Nobody Hole Video Contest official rules, prize information, and instructions on submitting and viewing videos. The contest begins today and submissions will be received until October 24th, 2008.

No purchase is necessary to participate and the contest is void where prohibited.

Through October 24th, all videos submitted during the 4-week promotion will be reviewed by Sum and The Good Look, who will choose the Grand Prize Winner. Viewers and fans will be allowed to vote and choose the 1st and 2nd runners up.

For more information about The Nobody Hole Video Contest, visit, or shoot an email to

A Conversation with Raven Parque

raven parque

mathmanmrt: On your MySpace page you list Neuss, Germany, as your location. Is that where you are originally from?

Raven Parque: Yes, born and raised in Neuss, a place very close to Düsseldorf, which was my main playground, because Düsseldorf is the much better location for musical activities. In the late 80's I've also spent some time making music in Berlin.

mathmanmrt: Neuss is fairly close to Belgium and The Netherlands. What's your sense of the music scene in that part of Europe right now?

Raven Parque: There's no real music scene in Belgium or Netherlands I would be interested in. In the 90's some Techno - especially Hardcore Stuff (Gabba) came out of there. But I don't know any Rock or Pop band from these countries which I think I would like.

mathmanmrt: What kind of musical experiences did you have when you were growing up?

Raven Parque: None, because I started making music very late at the age of 22. Before that I was very interested in listening to music and I have a big archive of vinyl stuff, but I didn't play any instrument until the day a friend of mine was looking for a bass player for his punk band. I thought it couldn't be so difficult to play an instrument with 4 strings. And I found out that I had to play just 1 string as a bass player in a punk band. Easy... After this first experience I never stopped making music, and in the following years I've tried to play some more strings on the bass and the guitar. I tried to learn to play keyboards, singing, composing, writing lyrics and producing. I'm still trying... and I will keep on trying.

mathmanmrt: I notice that your first EP, "Thru the Desert," came out in 1995. Are any of your songs on the 61 from that EP? If not, what is the earliest song of yours that is up on the 61?

Raven Parque: No, there's no song from the Raven Parque EP on T61. But in the same year 95 I produced my first CD album "Break Away" from which I took "Vision Thing" and "You Could Be The One" to T61. Though in a different version from the original mixes on "Break Away", which were both uptempo rock style. In 2004, I rearranged and remixed it into today's style and uploaded these versions. But these two songs are the earliest I wrote from all of the Raven Parque tunes that are up on T61 until now.

mathmanmrt: How has your style developed since the first EP?

Raven Parque: I've changed a lot of things through the years from 1993 - 2008. I guess the songs have become more organic. At first because of the different instrumentation. On the last albums I've been using much less electronic keyboard sounds and samples. I pay much more attention to guitars. I'm still using keyboard sounds and samples but mainly natural sounds like piano, strings or original drum samples. I think that the main atmosphere of Raven Parque became more positive and the lyrics have a more autobiographic character. A lot of the older songs had a very melancholy feeling.

mathmanmrt: How do you go about writing your songs and developing your arrangements for the final mix?

Raven Parque: It's almost always going the same way. Playing chords on the acoustic guitar or piano and hoping the right melody will get into my mind. If it works, I go to the studio to record, arrange and develop the new track, starting with drums, bass and guitars to build a pilot playback for writing the final lyrics and rehearsing the vocal parts. After that, I look for missing pieces in the arrangement and sometimes I add female backings or instruments I can't play like violin or accordion for example, played by friends or studio musicians for the mix. Finally, after mixing and mastering, I upload the song to T61 ;-)

mathmanmrt: Three of the songs you have up are covers. I've come across several comments on your wall and in tuneboxes I've received remarking on how good they are, some going so far as to say they're better than the originals. How do you decide what songs you're going to cover?

Raven Parque: Yes, it's a great pleasure for me to see this kind of comments on the wall. I'm really proud to read that it's better than the original. But I don't think so... my cover versions are different from the original songs. And I mean it's the right way to do covers. They should be different, that's the point of covering. The original "No.1" from Goldfrapp is pure electronic with a female voice. So it was easy to be different... And it was also easy to be different from the original playing "Hey Little Girl" in a Latino style. (Sorry, Iva ;-)) But if I feel that a song shouldn't be covered because the original way is the one and only way to do this song, I wouldn't try to record it the Raven Parque way. The decision to remake a song always comes straight from the heart. I have to love the original.

mathmanmrt: I've noticed that two of the songs you have up aren't part of any of the albums you've created on the 61 &emdash; "Don't Like the Sunshine" and "I'll Be There." Are those songs part of an upcoming album or are they part of either your earlier vinyl EP or the first cd?

Raven Parque: Sorry, my fault. After uploading the songs I forgot to link it with the album title. But I fixed it in the meantime. "Don't Like Sunshine" is part of "Rough" and "I'll Be There" is part of the still unfinished album "Evermore".

mathmanmrt: You've said that, for the most part, your songs are a "one man show." Do you ever perform live?

Raven Parque: In the 80's and 90's I performed live with different bands and projects. In 1995, after finishing the first album "Break Away", I found some studio musicians for live performances with Raven Parque. We did a couple of shows successfully, but at this time the music business in Germany was already sick and without the right support from the record company it was much too lavish and expensive to stay on the road. Though recently I'm thinking about performing live again. But not the usual way as a complete band, just as an acoustic duo with two guitars and special parts with guest musicians playing cello or something like that.

mathmanmrt: Ever been to or plan to come to the U.S. to perform?

Raven Parque: I've never performed in the States, but as the producer of Behind The Scenes, which did some shows in the U.S. in Spring 2008 and which will go back to the States next year, I talked with Michael, the singer, about the possibility to do some shows together, even though RP and BTS are different music styles.

mathmanmrt: How did you run across the 61?

Raven Parque: Michael (BTS) told me about T61. So I went to this community and I'm very glad I did it.

mathmanmrt: What expectations, if any, did you have when you first uploaded "She"?

Raven Parque: There was no great expectation when I joined in and when I uploaded "She". But I was totally surprised about the positive reaction of the listeners to my music. I was really surprised but also glad about all the comments, bumps and support.

mathmanmrt: Do you feel like the 61 has met your expectations?

Raven Parque: Yes, T61 has exceeded all of my expectations, much more than I ever imagined. I suppose it works great. I like it much more than MySpace because of this listener/artist system. I love to get feedback so fast after uploading a song. All the listeners on T61 are music lovers and so interested in our songs. And that's the best an artist can get.

mathmanmrt: You have a really great marketing concept by offering to make songs freely downloadable if the current song hits 800 bumps. Do you feel like that offer has helped your songs out? Do I recall correctly that a listener called dwyndal first suggested that idea?

Raven Parque: Yes, you are totally right. The concept of dealing with bumps and free downloads was the idea of Dwyndal. That was a great help for me, because as an amateur at T61 you need some time to understand how the system works and it's very useful to get some advice of a professional T61-member. He told me the T61 listeners are like kids which want to get some candy (free downloads) and they are prepared to do something for it. So, it worked to earn a lot of bumps and points. But not only Dwyndal, there's a lot more kind listeners who gave me a helping hand, good advice and big support. I would like to say thank you very much to all of them.

mathmanmrt: So what are your plans for the future?

Raven Parque: At first to finish the new album "Evermore". 8 songs are mixed and mastered and 2 others are already recorded on my brain-tape ;-) I guess it will be about 12 or 13 songs at least on the finished CD. Secondly is what I already said about creating a live acoustic set. But it takes time and at the moment I'm very busy and involved in other jobs to earn some money... And that's the bridge to your next question...

mathmanmrt: Are you still producing other artists? If so, would you tell us about that?

Raven Parque: Right now I'm working mainly as a composer and producer for TV commercial spots and as a music and audio creator for DVD and web design. In the past I have produced different artists, but the music business in Germany is really getting worse and so there's no great sense in producing unknown artists anymore. But I'm still producing Behind The Scenes because I love their stuff and Michael is a friend of mine.

mathmanmrt: Do you work as an artist on other people's music? Could you name some albums you've appeared on if you do work as an A&R man sometimes?

Raven Parque: I never worked as an A&R for record companies but I did for 'Groovetown Music', when I had to decide which artist should be produced. So I have worked as an artist on other people's music. On every production I played some instruments or did some backing vox, except for Behind The Scenes, which you know from T61. It was only with German artists who had never released any albums outside of Germany.

mathmanmrt: What would you say is the most important question I forgot to ask? And the answer to it, please.

Raven Parque: No, there's no important question left that you forgot to ask. I would like to thank you so much mathman for interviewing me. I appreciate the possibility to talk about Raven Parque and giving the readers of and the listeners of T61 some information about me and my music.

And again a big thanx to all of them, including you as a listener of RP, for bumping, commenting and listening.

Vegetal noise music for vegetal lovers

Word is out that Brussels, Belgium based organic rock formation Thot is recording a new album at this very moment. That is good news for all vegetal noise loving Listeners out there, who already heard their Year Of The Thistle EP at The Sixtyone or any of the other platforms that the band is publishing on.

Year Of The Thistle consists of three very high tensed tracks which - if you are sensitive to it - can easily get you in a real adrenaline rush. For the ultimate thrill ride I suggest you sit back near your media player, turn up the volume of your sound system or headphones and take off with Blue And Green (Are Melting Down In A New Seed). This 5:05 lasting song slowly pulls you up to the top of a musical rollercoaster.

At first you feel comfortable, listening to the slightly distorted synth pad, synth drums and the apparantly tranquil singing of Grègoire Fray. It feels like if you're just enjoying your view from above the park. But after a few moments you realise that you're heading to a very high top of a track that you've never been on before. While climbing further and further a piano counts down the final distance to the beginning of the end.

Moved Hills starts at a point where every movement and every sound stops for a brief moment. You know what's coming up next and there's no turning back (as if you would ever want that). The song opens with what sounds like an Islamic Adhan (call to prayer), but is actually an Mongolian song. Further in the song a Saz Guitar, played by Cumali Bulduk continues the exotic atmosphere. But what fascinates the most is the both heavy and fast rhythm of drums and guitars against the sultry singing, that is constantly alternating between introvert reflection and extrovert expression. In 3:30 minutes you speed up from zero to infinite. Audible g-forces emotionally bends and shapes your mind and you love every second of it. But you still have to go through all the curves and loops.

You soon find that the most exciting part of your 13 minutes of controlled danger are in the last song. Take A Bow And Run has an ingenious construction with some exciting rhythm changes that can make your heart skip a beat or two. Halfway the song you find yourself catapulted into a long and weightless loop, long enough to wonder what on mother earth you got yourself into. But before you've figured that out, the song accelerates to full speed again and then stops very abrupt. It stops so all over sudden, that your soul slings out of your body and then right back in.
When you've come to your senses, the first thing you probably want to do, is cue up for another ride. Or else eagerly wait for the full album that's on its way.

Vegetal Noise

Thot's front man, the fore mentioned Frenchman Grègoire Fray, calls Thot's music Vegetal Noise to emphasize on the organic nature of his music. The natural environment is an important source of inspiration to him, especially the natural world of his childhood: "As I grew up in the country, I was surrounded by fields, hills, trees, and silence. It was my playground, my world and changing seasons gave the rhythm. It is what inspires me for the music I am doing with Thot. The smell of the rain, the colors of the wind and the sound of summer’s heat…. This is echoing in me."
Although Grègoire is a very engaged person (he actively supports Avaaz - an International organization that tries to give voice to people in global political debates - and is also a Red Cross volunteer), Thots' music is not just about the environment. It's an ode to every aspect of the natural world, including the hideous, the violence and the deterioration: "These aspects of the natural world are mirrors of our own moods."


Besides songwriter Grègoire, who sings, plays guitar and designs soundscapes and loops, the band also consists of drummer Gil de Chevigné, keyboard player Hugues Peeters and video artist Arielle Moens. They all are exceptional performers in their own discipline. Arrielle performs also with Belgian indie electro-pop soloist Nicola Testa and participates in Montreal based international cinematographic association KINO. Hugues is also a band member to Belgian two basses rock band Mom's Belly and Gil also plays drums in Belgian hard rock band Amadeus.
Thot's lyrics are in English and not in French as you may have expected. Grègoire gives three reasons for that: "First reason is because it’s very difficult to write good lyrics in French. French is a very poetic language but so hard to tame. Second reason is, most of my first influences were from American rock music. I also wanted to be understood by everyone, even if my English accent is not perfect."
Grègoire feels most inspired when visiting his family in France: "First feelings, first ideas, first words are always coming when I go back to my family’s country. I dive into silence, into memories and I take time to analyze what happened in my life recently: moods, relationships, world’s actuality - everything will reflect in my universe. The contrasts between the place where I live (a big town as Brussels) and my small village are also fertile compost for ideas."

The Hills Mover and The Feather Juggler

Grègoire extends his artistic exploration beyond Thot through his solo acoustic songs, which he performs under the name The Hills Mover. Last June he went on a Virtual Summer Tour. For that he visited different public locations, mainly in Brussels, and let himself and his audience videotape, while singing and playing guitar: "The Hills Mover is not a ‘side project’. It is more like the acoustic side of Thot’s musical universe, and this is now the name I use when I play acoustic songs. But these songs are inspired by the same things as Thot".
A binding element between Thot and The Hills Mover might be the mysterious figure The Feather Juggler: "She’s one of the main characters of the story hidden in Thot’s next album. And one of The Hills Mover’ song is also called “The Feather Juggler”. On stage, we have video projections and she appears in it, trying to separate the sky from the earth for example. I create the Feather Juggler as an allegory of Mother Nature and her feather is something she must not to let fall, or …"
Grégoire uses different Internet platforms for Thot, The Hills Mover and even The Feather Juggler. He also created several identities for himself, depending on the media he uses. When on you might know him as Eolienn, but when on Youtube he calls himself WhiteIris. This is not whiteout reason: "I want to make people going further than the music and find some hidden keys".

When Thot finishes its new album, Grègoire will try to find labels, concert promoters and the likes: "I hope to plant electrical thistle everywhere. And I am eager to."

This story is also available at

The Supergrover/For Squirrels Tribute!

for supergrover
The community at The Sixty One is one like I've never experienced.

Aldark, 61'er and supergrover's brother explains, "In early May, Supergrover and I sat outside a log cabin in Tennessee with our oldest kids playing in the driveway and discussed a little that his pains may be cancer. I had thought it, but really didn't want to think about it; only Supergrover really knew what he felt. A couple of week later, which seems an eternity ago we had the first visit with the oncologist after some level of confirmation of cancer."

supergrover posted some very sad news right after that to his 'About Me' section of his profile. "Well, it appears I have cancer, so the doctor tells me yesterday. Spot on my liver and a spot on my lower left 'omentum'. I have no clue what the future holds, but I'm pissed and heartbroken for my 2 1/2 year old son and 7 month old daughter."

Soon after, fuzzy blue-faced supergrover avatars were adopted all over the site by listeners and artists posted well wishes, crazy pictures, including photos of cookies, and jokes on his wall on a daily basis. Aldark told me. "Those that have followed his status on thesixtyone have seen some of Supergrover's progress via his "About Me" on the profile page. I take lunch to SuperG or have met him for lunch prior to each chemotherapy session he has."

Aldark talks about supergrover's treatment. "Honestly, I'm surprised they let me back in. We have a good time during such a dreary time and you would have thought we offended someone by now. Supergrover, from my viewpoint, has taken this in stride. We sit during sessions and talk about the teenage girl, the young newly wed, and even the pregnant woman all going through treatment and Supergrover wonders how he can be pissed at having cancer. Well, he can be, but he's handling it fantastically."

supergrover posted to his wall, "You guys... you got me choked up... I'm looking at some avatars and realized there are some that have snuck bits of me in there. You guys are too much. It is so appreciated that a little turd like me can be worthy of your encouragement. I don't know what to say."

Meanwhile, Glenn Case, was taking requests for cover songs, as a way of saying thank you to people that had been bumping his songs a lot. Supergrover left on Glenn's wall on June 3rd, 2008.

"If you know any For Squirrels tune, it would most certainly be this one (Mighty K.C.). You can hear some similarity in your 'rough' voice and that of Jack Vigliatura. They were involved in a terrible van crash that killed the vocalist (Jack V) and the bass player (Bill White). So, listen to how tragically ironic the lyrics are to this tune. (Actually, many tunes)."

For example, here is a sampling of the Mighty K.C. lyrics.

And by the grace of God go I
Into the great unknown
Things are gonna change in our favor
And if we gather, if we fall
Over the great unknown
Things are gonna change in our favor

So, Glenn listened to the material and he liked it a lot. After much consideration, he decided to cover Mighty K.C. "SuperG was right too. I COULD hear a similiarity between Jack's voice and my own. Friends have noticed it too," said Glenn.

baypath roadplymouthFor Squirrels put out two albums before two founding members of the band and their tour manager died in a car accident on September 8th, 1995, 13 years ago today. Their ages? 23, 23 and 21. "That's when it hit me: something like this could happen to ANYONE," said Glenn. I started thinking about the life I've been able to live, and the songs I've had a chance to write since I was 21. The material I was writing at that age wasn't NEARLY as good as what this band was already creating. I can't even imagine how great they COULD have been with time."

for squirrels
For Squirrels, ASCAP Christmas Party, 1994. Photo by R. Capak
Glenn was inspired to launch a double tribute... A tribute to Supergrover and to For Squirrels, a band that didn't really get much of a chance because key band members died at such a young age. "What REALLY made things hit home for me was when I realized that Jack would have only been a few months older than me if he would have survived the crash," said Glenn. "It didn't seem fair that more people hadn't heard of them. My thought was 'Let's see if we can change that a little.'"

The surviving members from the original line-up of For Squirrels are guitarist Travis Tooke and drummer Jack Griego. Glenn contacted Travis in July. Travis gave his approval on the project. "You have my blessing and I'm touched by your passion for your friend and our F.S. music. I'll stay in touch as best I can, and would love to play a small part in your tribute project."

Glenn says, "Supergrover is a great guy that has been given some news that is not so great. I thought it would be neat to do something nice for him. Through supergrover's treatment, he has managed to keep a sense of humor. ("Another visit, another three hours hooked to a pole. Hmm, shoulda been a stripper! I could have been getting paid for this!") To me, SuperG has always come across as a person with a magnificent sense of humor, both before and after his diagnosis was known." Glenn ads, "It really sucks when bad things happen to good people. Unfortunately, it does happen from time to time, and I figured the LEAST we could do as musicians was to try to brighten Supergrover's day a little. I hope we are doing just that by covering songs from his 'favorite band that no one has heard of', and maybe we can get a few more people to hear about them too!"

The two albums For Squirrels albums are 'Baypath Road' and 'Example'. There are 10 songs on each album, and the idea was to get artists from The Sixty One to cover every song from both albums Tracks for the For Supergrover tribute will be uploaded Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Several very popular and talented bands are involved in the 20 tracks that will be uploaded in the next two months.

"I'm really looking forward to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next seven weeks or so," said Glenn. "It has been hard for me to keep this a secret with the quality covers I've been hearing, but I think it's going to be worth it."

Glenn added, "I'd like to extend a special thank you to Batface89, and all of the musicians that have stepped up to be a part of this. This would not be a reality if it wasn't for all of your involvement. Thank you so much for banding together to make this happen. You guys rule!"

Who are these musicians who are have recorded songs for the project? We're keeping it a secret until the song is uploaded to add to the fun. Once all 20 songs are up, there has been discussion of creating a purchasable version of the songs with all proceeds going towards cancer research.

And how about supergrover? Aldark says "Discussions about surgery are coming in a few weeks and where to go from there will follow. I've seen the progression of what appears to be successful treatment when Supergrover is rolling around on the ground with our oldest kids. This is something that hasn't happened a lot since early in 2008 when the pain was too much that a foot kick to the gut would hurt for ever."

"Good signs, good signs.", Aldark adds.

Keep an eye out for the music and tunebox all of your friends and subscribers!

AnnieB's Detour: Lemon Sun

If you like the upbeat, soulful type of indie rock, this might be for you. I meant to feature this song by these guys on my next mixwit mixtape, but since little is written about these guys, the one and only link available no longer, thank you, imeem. Found them through the shuddered and despised myspace (they are "friends" of Voxhaul Broadcast).

Anyway, they released an EP in Dec 2006 and they participated in 2007's SXSW, so some of you may have it caught it then. Apparently they played on campus during my last year of college over a year ago, and I missed it. Based on the clip below, sounds like they would've been fun to see live. Btw, props to them for having a female guitarist in the band too.

(note: same song, but titled differently)

Lemon Sun's website
Lemon Sun's myspace

A Conversation with Adam Faucett

adam faucett

A brief aside from mathmanmrt -- This interview took place in an exchange of e-mails and I have left Adam's responses in the state of punctuation and capitalization in which they were sent because I think they convey the flavor of his style much better than if I had edited them. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

mathmanmrt: Your myspace page says you're from Arkansas.Is that where you grew up? If not, where did you grow up?

Adam Faucett: yep. Arkansas born and raised. I've lived all over the state but mostly in the small towns of Benton, {where sling blade was filmed} and Russellville. It was in Russellville where I started the band Taught The Rabbits with an old friend from Benton high in 2001 while working on my BFA.

mathmanmrt: When did you first get interested in music and performing? Was there a friend, relative, or artist who inspired you interest? Talk about that if you would.

Adam Faucett: i have been telling stories, and writing songs my whole life. before i could play the guitar i would sit at the old up right piano in our benton home and peck out soundtracks to movies i have yet to make and pretend to put on operas for my cat cosmo.

mathmanmrt: You were previously in a band called Taught the Rabbits. In what way or ways do you feel like that experience helped you grow as a musician?

Adam Faucett: That band was my child, and all my efforts outside of art school were poured into the four piece. I wrote all the songs, 98% of the instrumentation, lyrics, the whole damn shark. It drove me fucking bats, and that band had a couple of casts. one guitar man, my best friend at the time, freaked out on all us dark ones and dumped our sonic venture into college space and time travel for the lord jesus christ. im still very good friends with him but he won't let his kids call me uncle.

mathmanmrt: Speaking of Taught the Rabbits, have any of the members of that band helped out with any of your current recordings?

Adam Faucett: thats where ryan robinett steps into the taught the rabbits thing. we together with drummer kid edwards recorded ttr's only LP "mallet and watch" the band broke up when i decided to move to chicago. kid came with me but was put out with me for not wanting anything to do with our old songs or old ways of playing loud loud spacey rock. he literally took the money and ran. i still hang out with ryan. he helps with album art and moral support, bourbon if you will. we have spoke about him joining my current band a fair bit, but i now hide in little rock about 90 miles south of russellville and tour often. i haven't played with the rabbits guys in over two years. it was my time with them that made the shift in me from bedroom songwriter to frontporch harpie. the band im in now "adam faucett and the tall grass" is the best one yet. we keep it simple. hell they will even tour. HOLY SHIT! they are on my last LP "the great basking shark" and are very present on the new one "show me magic show me out" due out in october.

mathmanmrt: What is the songwriting process like for you?

Adam Faucett: there is no process to writing that i can tell. its my life, no matter how full of shit that sounds, its the truth. i give everything away for it. its the only straight and narrow i can imagine. sometimes i feel as though i'm so far down that rabbit hole with silliness and melodies that my loved ones have a hard time seeing that there is a reason behind all of this. there is a thin thin screen of inescapable truth for us all, but the point is to take that gift and from the inside out transform it into everything it deserves to be. the processes that concern me most are ones like stopping at red lights and staying unmarried.

mathmanmrt: The first song of yours I heard on the 61 was an upload of California as part of the Blue Tint Records uploads. What made you decide to create your own account there?

Adam Faucett: mike at blue tint records set it up for me. i spend little time on the internet and when i do i'm often confused or begging folks for a show.

mathmanmrt: What expectations, if any, did you have about the 61? Have they been met?

Adam Faucett: as far as the 61 goes, i suppose it works great. this is my first interview after all. i'm not too sure where or what i'm expecting out of music. i'm not the star type or a 'business man'. i just want to write a few tunes that make people feel free from trend or an evaporating youth. i know in this age it is pretty uncool to be this silly or specific. i look horrible with a hairdo, can't fit into tight jeans and a straight face always curls up my cheek turning this hipster into a mid twenties santa claus always trying to convince the cops that i have a ride waiting for me else where. sorry for the ramble. i just have little to say about the 61. i'm really thankful for mike and everyone who helps with any promotion. also i hope i'm not coming off as an ass, it's much more light-hearted on our stoop.

mathmanmrt: Talk about how your music does or does not fit into the American folk and roots music traditions.

Adam Faucett:i'm not too sure if i'm folk or americana or what to be honest. i just want people to like it for a more simple reason like loving a car just because its yours. thats a pretty american outlook i think... so americana, sign me up twice. i started my public love of music as a dude and a finger picked guitar or banjo, the band always comes later.

mathmanmrt: Many of your songs seem to be located in a west of metaphor, California and New Mexico and points west seeming to stand for both rootlessness and an ultimate destination. How deliberate is that or am I misinterpreting things?

Adam Faucett: i think maybe the love of the west comes from a simple place. It isn't arkansas, texas, for sure not chicago. montana is my place. butte montana. stuck in a time that is too cool for cool. god bless butte montana. my lyrics on the subject are almost always from the same idea, anywhere but here.

At different places on the web you've listed comics, musicians, and murderers as influences. Have you ever thought about yourself as a jester or minstrel whose stock in trade is melancholy and dislocation? Or is that too pretentious?

Adam Faucett: most of my heroes are stand up comics. i like the truth with a smile please. my hero as far as a songwriter is erik satie but he was kinda a comic of sorts for his day and venue. and as far as the murderers, well.... i want my friends to be real people and my monsters the same.

mathmanmrt: What would you describe as your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a musician?

Adam Faucett: my greatest strength as a musician is that i'm tied to nothing and have only this to lose. that would probably be the weakness as well.

thank you for interviewing me. once again i hope i answered the majority of you questions well enough to write about. sorry for mumbling.

Doomtree's false hopes ring true

I don't know why I hadn't heard of Doomtree before, but I am glad they joined T61. One listen and I was hooked. A few repeat listens and I was a believer. Now, two days later, I have been telling everyone I know about them, and am anticipating getting a handful of their discs in the mail.

Released just over a month ago, Doomtree's crew album is rife with tracks that will have your head nodding and your finger reaching to hit repeat. The writeup on T61 and their own site is comprehensive enough, but to summarize, Doomtree is a hip hop collective based out of Minneapolis, and they are all very good, and even better together.

There is currently one track from the crew album available to listen to on T61, while the samples on their official website are all selections from previous releases. Savvy and with a sense of humour, Doomtree also has a YouTube channel which includes clips of the crew "working hard", which is mainly them goofing around. The track for the following music video is also on the crew album. It gives props to fixie bike culture while featuring emcees Cecil Otter, Mictlan, Dessa, P.O.S. and Sims over a sick beat by producer Lazerbeak.

The collective's members got to know each other as teenagers, and most were involved in music already: some were in punk bands, others were rapping. Producer MK Larada said that "we [Doomtree crew] just started putting on shitty little shows and putting out shitty little CDs and then it just got less and less shitty." Now, half of the crew lives together in one house, constantly pushing each other on their separate work, but also collaborating in the true sense of a hip hop crew.

Doomtree members are always performing shows, but every year they get together for the annual Blowout, where the entire crew is together on one stage. In "MPLS", "DTR" has a large enough following that they also held a Blowout Jr. ONLY for people under 20, as the larger show is generally 18+.

Reinforcing their ethos of striving to better their music, Doomtree Records have four CDs all entitled "False Hopes". These EPs feature songs they felt were good, but not the best that they could offer. They claim to have saved the truly great ones for the self-titled crew album released July 29th. Emcees P.O.S., Sims, and Cecil Otter all have full albums available at the Doomtree store, while you can expect a Mictlan disc to drop at the end of this month and Dessa's solo album to be out in late October.

In any case, it's not my place to decide what you think about Doomtree. Take a listen to Dots & Dashes, check the Drumsticks video, and finally the samples on their official site. You might just agree with me that this is some of the most infectious, smart and well produced hip hop you've heard in ages.

As DTR say of their crew album:

"Hate on it. Love on it. We certainly do both, and couldn't be more excited for you to feel feelings with and all over us. Yikes."

Some impressive numbers from their news page:

3 weeks at #1 on the CMJ hip hop charts.
#23 peak on the iTunes rap charts
#7 on Billboard's regional Heatseekers chart
Top 100 peak on Youtube music
Top 100 peak on CMJ, all genres
Top 100 peak Mediaguide's AAA Album charts

Official site:
DTR YouTube channel:

Are you a sad robot?

"Ten thousand drunken kids in a field can't be wrong / The song must be beautiful, or they wouldn't sing along / And sometimes the kids all seem a little sad / it's because they're saying goodbye / to the youth they think they had"
Stars - 14 Forever

In a seemingly stealth move by my favourite homegrown talent, Stars (from Toronto, now living in Montreal) have released a new digital EP entitled Sad Robot. There are five tracks available to purchase at, with a live version of Going, Going, Gone up for grabs for free.

The site itself is beautifully designed, and the front splash page has a wonderfully melancholy loop that is somewhat typical of the band's music, save for the quiet robotic voice that echoes in the background. There is not much more to the microsite, save for a page where you can listen to short samples of each track off the EP, as well as links to purchase them.

There is also a list of tour dates on that page. They will be touring a bit through the US--ostensibly including these tracks in their setlist--and there are some Eastern Canada dates in October. The only physical copies of the EP (for now?) are being sold at their shows. I have an uncitable source stating that they have an "all new live show based on the Sad Robots aesthetic", but even without the window dressing, Stars are guaranteed to put on a good show.

Sad Robot picks up where their previous album--In Our Bedroom After the War--left off. Sultry, shimmering melodies are wrapped around the clean and ever nostalgic-sounding vocals of Torquil and Amy, but there are some more electronic elements, befitting of the title. The sound of this EP is clearly the continued evolution of Stars' sound, and while it has shades of all of their previous albums, it still manages to sound fresh and captivate listeners with their unique recipe for beautifully crafted indie pop.

Sad Robots EP:

01 Maintenance Hall, 4am
02 A Thread Cut With a Carving Knife
03 Undertow
04 Going, Going, Gone (live)
05 14 Forever
06 Sad Robot

Official website:

* Apologies that the image looks like an ad... I unfortunately do not work for Arts & Crafts, but that was the only pic I could find, and I didn't feel like cropping it. Will you forgive me?

** Apparently this EP was recorded at Studio Plateau... eight minutes from my apartment! Any other T61 members from Montreal? Send me a note on my T61 wall.