High on Fire Interview
Matt Pike, Jeff Matz, Des Kensel (High on Fire) with Monty Wiradilaga and Brian Kracyla
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo
MT: We are sitting here back stage at Bonnaroo with High on Fire. What’s going on guys?
M: Not a whole lot, just got done playing, just checking out the fest’. I am Matt Pike. I sing and play guitar in High On Fire.
J: Jeff Matz, I play bass.
D: I’m Des Kenzel, I play drums.
MT: That was one hell of a set guys. That was just brutal, back to back metal sets on the same stage. What were the promoters asking for, total destruction or what?!
M: It seemed like a big jam band thing before that and then Dillinger, then us, then Shadows Fall. That’s kinda brutal, someone booked it kinda cool, definitely surprising. The energy comes up a little bit.
D: Yeah, I thought it was cool that it was the “metal stage” for today. Going on after Dillinger, not an easy thing to do. We thought we played pretty good and then we were like ‘Yeah, good luck Shadows Fall.’ (laughs) But I’m sure they’re gonna hold their own.
M: They were playing good. It definitely lights a fire when you after go on after them. And all of us have been touring buddies for a while and shit. It’s kinda funny to have to go on after each other. All the metal bands nowadays are really super tight and really super good and you have to play after your buddy live or something. You’re like, ‘Whoa, step it up a bit!’
D: It definitely keeps us in check as musicians. We’re like, ‘Man, we gotta go play after that?! You fuckers.’
J: We’ve been doing our homework, that’s for sure.
MT: I interviewed Dillinger Escape Plan earlier and I said that it was basically, ‘Wake the fuck up Bonnaroo! It’s the last day. Here’s some metal ya.’
D: It’s your last chance!
MT: So what did you guys think about the crowd? Did you expect anything? Did you expect just hippies or what did you expect a mix of?
D: We weren’t really sure what to expect…
M: I was kinda of surprised at it! Cuz I expected a bunch of hackey-sackers looking at us all weird and shit. Like, “Hey, man, you must be the devil!”
D: But I think something like this, 4 days, even though it’s the last day and we were figuring that some of the people might be tired, everybody still wants to let loose.
J: That was a good enthusiastic response from the crowd.
MT: There were a couple of moments during your set that I had to laugh a little bit because, for one, the girl standing right in front of me hit you with her bra!
J: No, it was her underwear.
M: It was her underwear and…
D: It was a pair of panties and it had skid marks on it! We all saw it!
MT: It did not! It had skid marks?!
D: She probably been wearing whose panties for like 4 days in the tent man!
M: Don’t say it out loud but I saved them for my tour manager.
D: Oh yeah, we’re gonna have fun with those later on, stashing them in someone’s pants or their jacket pocket or something! (all laugh)
MT: I thought that stuff was just reserved for guys like Frank Sinatra.
D: Vince Neal or something… Nah, the panties Vince Neal got, they didn’t have skid marks.
J: Are fans are for real!
M: I only got one pair, that dude got hundreds.
D: The panties Vince Neal got thrown up on stage had front butt skid marks.
M: Damn bro, why you dissin on Vince?!
D: No, I’m not hating! You want front butt or back butt?
MT: (to Matt) Could you possibly the first metal pimp?
D: The first metal pimp! Man, come on, don’t pump his ego! As if we didn’t already have a road case for his ego.
MT: But I saw him. I saw you looking over there, working your magic. I saw you giving her the eye.
M: Well, you’ve got to give them the eye, especially if they throw you their soiled panties.
J: Give them the eye among other things…
M: It could even be the stink eye.
D: She gave you the brown eye!
MT: Give her the shocker after your set.
D: I actually got hit in the head with something during the set. I saw a few lemons get tossed up on stage and then some piece of plastic something hit me in the head.
M: Ha, lemons are awesome, dude.
D: Lemons mean you rock!!
M: Well maybe I’m not fucking Jerry Garcia. Oh well.
J: Bitter pills to swallow.
MT: There was something refreshing about your set. I haven’t seen too much metal with a smile. You had a smile on your face for the whole set. Maybe I’ve seen it with the lead singer of like Dragonforce..
M: I’ve done it for the last thirteen years because it’s totally ridiculous. It’s the funniest thing that I’ve ever done in my life. Just playing and doing metal and trying to take yourself too serious, you can’t help it after awhile and you have to laugh. If you have any sort of comedic value or if you knew anything about our band, we laugh a lot. We take ourselves very serious when we play but when you take yourself too serious with your fans and they know that you have personality, you can’t help but to smile or laugh. It’s for everyone. We have a rapport with our crowd and it’s like; yes, we’re goofballs and we play very seriously and very somber sometimes’ but it’s all about emotion and it’s all about a rollercoaster that we all go through. High On Fire is basically about life. Every lyric, everything we have is about us being alive and us having some rapport with our fans. If you can’t smile, you can’t cry, or you take yourself too serious, you have corpus paint on. And I’m with a bunch of goofy ass dudes that are all fucking hilarious. That’s all we do is laugh all day. Then we’re supposed to get all serious about playing?
MT: And you drink Pennsylvania beer, well done by the way. Congratulations on the Yuenglings.
M: It’s not bad shit.
MT: You guys have a new album coming out. Let’s talk about it.
D: Well, we’re still in the writing process. We’re hoping it’s gonna come out this year. Just typical High On Fire fashion we’ve had some setbacks…
M: It’s not that it’s not fuckin good. We have a lot of everything. We had a fallback, my drummer had a little bit of surgery. We…
D: “Your” drummer?!
M: Our guitars haven’t been in tune lately. So, we’ve been recording on a…
MT: Part-time basis?
M: We all kinda suck. Eventually we’ll get around to it. Too many bong hits, too many beers.
D: Hopefully our label wont here that last comment. Sorry guys, too many bong hits.
M: That was a fucking joke.
MT: For the past couple of years, metal has gone through a transformation from a point where it was just straight shred, see how fast you play, to a more technical style. I guess in your old band you played a little faster, faster riffs, now you have got more, I don’t want to say regimented, but more calculated riffs.
D: I feel personally that now “metal” nowadays is a big mix; whether it’s old school thrash or punk rock or hardcore. Long haired dudes and guys with cropped hair can get along.
M: It’s a weird meld because the progressive kind of met the style of punk rock a little bit, the nitty gritty and the total rush style, like Getty Lee and that kind of stuff. It’s kind of like we all crossed over, we’ve evolved. Every band that we’ve been on tour with has kinda been like that. Everybody plays perfectly or has some kind of study behind them and is really kind of better than our forefathers. But there’s still something you get from our forefathers because it’s a different thing when you’re sitting there in a studio recording and when you’re on an open stage and you know how that’s going to transfer to people sitting there watching you. Everybody’s trying to find this feel about it. It has to do with feel and it also has to do with being technical. It’s being zen about how you play. Lots of bands are picking up on the fact that there has to be a little rough about it and it has to be a little more choppy, the chops have to be a little better.
J: And the groove of course has to be there. Its very groove oriented too.
M: The forefathers have handed all of this down. It’s a lot of study of Prague records and classic rock records and AC/DC and Circle Jerks and Black Flag.
D: Yeah, I’m sure a lot of these metal bands nowadays had Shout At The Devil but they also had Black Flag Damaged or the Circle Jerks Golden Shower of Hits. Mix it all together.
MT: So you guys have a big punk background as well?
D: Oh yeah, totally.
MT: Like who?
D: Like I said Black Flag, Circle Jerks…
J: Poison Idea, the Germs…
D: Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Nuerosis…
M: Christ On Parade…
M: Bad Brains!
J: Oh yeah.
D: Bad Brains for sure.
MT: You putting horns in your music then?
D: Oh yeah, we’re gonna have a little reggae breakdown!
M: I don’t know if we’re that crazy about it but…
D: I don’t know if we’re the crack smoking Rasta type.
M: I haven’t smoked enough crack to add trombones and trumpets. I’m just kidding, dude.
MT: Last thing. Do you guys have anything to say to your fans? There were a lot out there representing today, tearing it up.
M: I’d like to say thank you. We’ll continue to keep doing what we’re doing and, fuck, we love you all very much.
D: Yeah, thanks for keeping us out here. Just be patient, the next record will come out and we’ll be back out touring soon.
J: It’ll be worth the wait.
M: We will not let you down. It’s in the works, man. We’re just taking time to do it right, that’s all.
80,000+ people have descended upon Manchester, TN and the music mecca known as Bonnaroo. Are you still at home, wishing that you were at Bonnaroo? Yeah, we are too… But we’re hooking stuff up for later this summer that will be epic!
Anyway, the good people at Bonnaroo are streaming the festival LIVE here on the BonnarooMusicFest YouTube channel! So far, the videos that I’ve seen have looked pretty good (some much better than others), and the audio has sounded spot on. No, it certainly doesn’t replace the truly awesome feeling of roughing it for an extended weekend, or living like a homeless person in a Shantytown. Nor does it attack your senses like a sea of hippies that have taken a patchouli bath… But it’s pretty damn good.
Go make yourself a drink, or enjoy your favorite party delight and take in the greatness of Bonnaroo from your own home or mobile device!
Bonnaroo tickets went on sale this past week to a HUGE public response… However, the ticketing system just couldn’t keep up with the massive flood of ticket requests, and the system “blew up.” Due to an overwhelming demand, Bonnaroo has halted ticket sales while they figure out the logistics of correcting the problem.
Hey, if you have tens of thousands of people bombarding a website for tickets, it’s bound to have a meltdown. Although, honestly… You’d think that they’d have all the details worked out for this. I’m sure that they’ll take the proper steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the future.
Here’s what Bonnaroo posted on Bonnaroo.com:
Minus the Bear Interview
Jake Snider (MTB), Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
Moe (MTTracks): All right, we are sitting back here in some alley at Bonnaroo with Jake Snider, lead singer, guitar, from Minus the Bear…
Jake Snider (Minus the Bear): Howdy. Hello there.
Moe: Thanks for being here.
Jake: You bet. Thanks for having me.
M: Hell of a performance today man.
J: Thanks man, I appreciate it.
M: How’s the vibe of Bonnaroo compare to the other festivals you’ve played?
J: It’s definitely laid back. Everything runs pretty much perfectly, so its seems like seems like everyone’s just got it down. It’s just super easy, the crowd it just awesome, one of the best crowds I think of any festival that we’ve played.
M: Why do you think it’s one of the best vibes?
J: I don’t know. Maybe it’s the location, or maybe it’s just the history of the festival, the vibe that people expect from it. You know, kind of a more free-form situation probably.
M: You played a good bit of tracks from Planet Ice…
M: I think that an album’s true test is how it translates live…
J: Yeah, that’s definitely a good record. Live is usually better, hopefully. That’s the idea at least.
M: With listening to your music, I get sort of a sense that you incorporate a bit of jamminess into it. It feels like you’re translating that live performance into your albums and vice versa. You’ve changed your writing style lately haven’t you?
J: The last record, Planet of Ice, is a little more broader sounding I think. A little bit more ambient. It’s just not a tight as the other ones. Yeah, I don’t know, there are songs that are really fun to play live. And I think that that’s what our goal was, to write a record full of songs that we really enjoy playing live…and don’t get sick of.
M: Well, before didn’t you have more regimented songs. Didn’t you cut it short because you thought it would go on too long, and with this record didn’t you change your writing process to let certain parts just flow? Let um go where they had to go…
J: Yeah, totally. We kinda just laid back on that stuff. We used to be really concise, and it is really a lot more fun live and especially to be able to explore things a little bit more.
M: So, do you like this process a little bit more than what you were doing before?
J: Yeah. It’s a lot more fun.
M: What made you go in this direction?
J: I don’t know. It just started coming out that way, I guess. We’ve been playing together for years and years and years, and a lot of the same songs. At that point in time we felt like we needed to try some new shit, you know, basically.
M: It seems to me that you live a bit vicariously through your music…
M: First of all, I’m not gonna go into your funny song titles and all… (Laughs)
J: Okay, cool.
M: I know that you’re probably sick to death of hearing about it.
J: Yeah, totally.
M: What are the main topics that you think in your head that you like to live vicariously through?
J: A lot of the songs are about sex, and a lot of those are kind of fictionalized. So, I do kind of live vicariously through some of those songs. Mostly those songs. I guess most of the songs are about sex on some kind of level, or getting wasted. But all that stuff is just another way to imagine life I suppose.
M: I’ve heard you say that after every show there’s a disco. What are some of the craziest moments you’ve had being out on the road, being on tour, whatever?
J: Well, usually Florida’s pretty brutal for us. We have had some run-ins with the law in Orlando. One of us got a little too drunk one night and ended up getting arrested.
M: Oh yeah, what happened?
J: Oh, nothing. He went to jail for the night. We got him out. And then hauled ass to the next show. He had to pay a fine, or whatever.
M: A little rowdy?
J: Yeah, just a little rowdy.
M: Did you really have a site called Friction USA?
M: What was the deal with it? Was it a Suicide Girls…
J: Yeah, it was similar to that. It started almost exactly the same time as Suicide Girls. Just did it for a couple of years. My wife, it was her idea basically.
M: And it just never materialized or what?
J: It was good, the music thing just started taking over. Once I got into the band, there was just no time.
M: Well, you’re from Seattle, how’s the Seattle scene THESE DAYS?
J: It’s always good. It’s an amazing town for music.
M: What are some of the big things going on in Seattle THESE DAYS?
J: These Worms Are Snakes is a great band. I can’t even think about it right now, I don’t know why, sorry.
M: Question, have you done any sleep walking through walls lately?
J: Nope, only when I was a kid.
M: What happened?!
J: Yeah, my parents were building a cabin, and the walls weren’t sheet-rock yet. My bedroom was right on the hallway for the stairs, so basically, you would walk through the wall and fall right down the stairs, into the bottom of the stairs…
M: Holy shit.
J: Like a full story. So I slept walked through the studs and fell.
M: What happened?
J: Got a concussion and broke my arm.
M: Jesus Christ, that’s a pretty big fall.
J: Pretty brutal, yeah.
M: You’re band has a pretty distinctive sound. A lot of it comes from Dave’s guitar taping techniques. What do you think sets your band apart from the others?
J: I don’t know. We are always trying to find parts that we find interesting and try not to right the same stuff over and over again. I don’t know, that’s a tough question. The combination of personalities, it’s pretty hard to come up with something different. I think it’s just kinda crazy.
M: You guy are definitely always evolving with changing the lineup. How’s the new cohesive unit working?
J: Better than ever.
M: So, what’s next for Minus the Bear?
J: Um, next is a summer where we’re gonna play a few shows. We just re-released our They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP on Suicide Squeeze. That’s also out on vinyl for the first time now. And we’re writing a record…
M: How’s that going?
J: Starting it off, just getting it started, you know…
M: With the new album are you evolving to a new level, or is it something with the same equation that you’re doing now?
J: I have no idea yet.
M: It just comes together.
M: Awesome. Thanks a lot for staying with us.
J: Yeah, I appreciate it man.
Prior to a friendly batting-cage showdown, MTT’s Moe and KinG B (Team Excelsior) interview Raul, Trey, Jiro, and Asdru of Ozomatli.
Interview with Ozomatli (Moe Train’s Tracks)
Tre, Raul, Asdru, Jiro (Ozomatli), Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
M: We’re sitting backstage with Ozomatli…
R: I’m Raul. I play guitar and sing some songs.
J: My name’s Jiro. I play percussion.
A: Hi, I’m Asdru. I sing some songs and play trumpet and play piano.
J: Yeah, you’re at Bonnaroo!
M: Main stage at Bonnaroo, what were you thoughts, looking out?
R: Yeah, man, it was nice. The last time we played here we were the first band on the main stage and people were barely awake. It was a lot nicer. It’s a great festival.
M: What do you think about playing with all these amazing bands the whole weekend?
R: These festivals are always good for that. You run into, it’s funny, you may know a lot of musicians actually over the years but you never really see each other, except for at spots like this. Now you actually get to see each other, maybe have a moment to check each other’s music out. And I always like to come here and see what’s happening and what’s new that I haven’t seen.
M: Do you guys bounce around to the different shows?
R: No, we haven’t had a chance all day. We’ve been running around.
B: Yeah, sorry we’re making you guys miss B. B. King right now.
R; Yeah, thanks a lot dude.
M: Hey, we can all go over there and just watch it right now if ya want to. Don’t Mess With The Dragon been out for a little while now, how the reception been for the album?
R: I think it’s been cool. The interesting thing about us is that none of our records have been like top of the charts or anything like that but it’s always pushed us into different into different audiences, it’s always helped us grow. So that’s what we do. We’re barely starting to get some new songs together for more recordings and hopefully that’ll start happening soon, ‘cause I’m definitely ready to start doing that.
M: What do you think about album sales versus being culturally-relevant?
A: Album sales is kind of a weird thing nowadays. It’s almost a thing of the past.
R: We don’t really look at it that way because I can name a few bands that don’t need that and they survive just fine without it. We’re a traveling band. We’re a live show.
A: I think what would probably fit us more is having a Vegas show with dancers.
J: Well, selling records is not necessarily longevity. You can be at the top of the charts, be here today and gone tomorrow, you know, and that’s one thing about our band is that we have a live show and so, whether we sell one record or not, we still make a living from that.
M: And have a good time doing it too.
J: Yeah, and having a good time to. We here at Bonnaroo!
M: There’s a lot of shitty bands that sell a hell of a lot of records but are done next year. You’re like, “Who in the fuck was that?!”
J: But don’t get me wrong, we like to sell records! (Laughter) We just don’t.
M: You’re guys show encapsulates a lot of different genres; Reggaeton, Banda, Duranguense. Think about your influences over all those genres…
R: When we first got together it was a bunch of individuals who showed up and we just kinda like, well, what do you know, what do you know? And if you didn’t really know, you just kinda figured it out. As people and as musicians we were just open to different things. I don’t think we’re purists in the sense where we have to play styles exactly traditionally. I think that we respect music enough to learn a little bit about it but we’re open. Wherever we go, wherever we travel, we’re always looking for new music. We’ve taken a lot of trips this year. We’ve been all over from India to Nepal, parts of South America to the Middle East, and we ask the locals what they like, what they listen to. There’s a music called Murga, it’s this African music in South America that I’ve really been into lately. We just get into it. That’s kinda the way it works for us.
M: What’s it sound like?
R: It’s definitely like this Africa carnivale music, but it’s slower. It almost sounds kinda drunk. It’s kinda like…(emulates the sounds of the music). It’s really cool.
M: You guys are into the political movement, your guys music opening doors. You guys were one of the first bands to go into countries and play in Nepal, or play in Timbuktu, or wherever it was…
M: Katmandu, yeah, that’s right! How was it going into those countries and being one of the first?
J: It was great. This past year we have gotten to a lot of cool places that a lot of bands don’t get to travel to, like; Tunisia, Egypt…
M: Indonesia too?
J: Yeah, Indonesia.
M: That’s my background.
J: Oh, cool. Yeah, we were just in Indonesia. We got a chance to play with bands like Slank, who we had never heard of before, and they’re huge there. We got to make a song with them. That’s part of the beauty of traveling the way we do is that we get to meet musicians like that, local musicians, and get to interact like that and get to meet people from all around the world.
M: What was it like to see those hot Indonesian chicks singing your song?
R: It was a song called Can’t Stop and it was a radio contest. The girls who won showed up in these little nursing outfits…
J: It looked like something out of Speed Racer, it was a trip.
A: It was really cool man. It was an honor for them to learn the song and actually sing it.
M: I was pretty impressed. I was heard the song and I was like, wow, they’re singing this really well. Then I sent him (gesturing to B) the video of it and was like, see, there’s hot Indonesian chicks.
B: Wait, I never said that there wasn’t hot Indonesian chicks, don’t pigeonhole me like that! (Laughter)
M: Your writing process, it’s gotta be pretty crazy. You guys have had so many members of your band, all those influences like you say, you’re drawn from so many different angles, how in the hell do you guys finish a song?
R: It is a long process for us because I think people need to feel connected to it. When you bring in music it has to inspire everybody else. That’s kinda that songs that get picked to record, the ones where everybody looks at each other and says. “Oh, yeah yeah, I get it.” The ones that half of the people say, “Ah, I don’t like it” and half of the people say they do, it’s just not worth the battle. So we say, okay let’s pick something else.
B: So, you’re approaching thirteen years now, are you guys sick of each other yet?
R: We love each other. It’s like we’re family. You know, there’s ups and downs all the time but we are totally committed.
A: Well, it’s nice that some of us live really so away from each other. So we don’t have to visit each other or ride in a cab together.
B: Oh, you guys don’t picnic together every Sunday when you’re not touring?
A: No, we all have our own lives. The three of us are dads here. You see us, it’s kinda crazy.
R: You see the person you work with more than you see your lady at home, that gets weird.
B: Yeah, the wifey’s not too happy with me being down here with him (gesturing to Moe) all the time either but…
R: But you do what you gotta do!
M: I’m single. I get to go places, he’s (makes whip sound). Nah, it’s not bad.
B: Alright, rather than asking you guys questions about yourselves, I want to get your guys opinions of each other. Asdru, why don’t you tell me a little bit about Jiro.
A: Jiro is probably one of the sexiest guys in the band. I think that, if I went that way, I wouldn’t mind.
B: (to Jiro) How do you feel about that? You guys have to share a bus together.
J: Hey man…
B: Jiro, tell me a little bit about Raul.
J: Raul is hurting right now. He’s burning up, but he’s a trooper because he’s out there doing it no matter what. That’s a little inside… see he went running the other day, running right through a patch… see he was on a roll, he was like, “I’m running as far as I can today!”, and we were at a festival in Kansas and he went through the woods and I think he was taking a leak or a crap or something, came back with a little rash. (all laugh) That’s what he tells us at least. It looks like it’s true.
B: If it has three leaves, don’t squat near it!
R: Dude, the truth is, I am hurting. And I am a trooper!
M: Yeah, I saw you walking over pretty gingerly. I was like, what’s a matter, did he fall off the stage or something.
B: I think it was you (gesturing to Asdru) that I heard doing a little acapella when I was walking by earlier. Do you guys do anything like that in the back, any specific acapellas or something like that, that you guys do to warm-up?
A: We should! All these years, you’d think that we’d learn that that we be a good thing to do. But no, we don’t. Maybe as individuals we do, but not as a group.
J: Check us out next week, we’ll see what happens.
R: Yeah, we’re a regular barbershop quartet before we go on stage!
A: I prefer warming up voice then warming up my trumpet, even though I should be on my horn a little more. It works out somehow. If everyone else worked out enough of their stuff then we would sound great. I think we could sound better, we always could.
M: Saw you guys playing on Dancing With The Stars.
A: That was hot, that was dope. I learned two things. Number one, I’m not in shape. I mean these people were like amazing. And number two, I don’t know how to dance. Nobody in the band can dance compared to these people. I got to give it up, there was this one couple that came in who were guests and they were these champions, and I saw this dude, he started from the floor, she was lying on top of him, and with one arm he got up on one knee and with a fluid motion stood all the way up and stretched her out into the sky.
J: I can do that.
A: No, the way that he did it, nobody can do that shit. I can throw somebody but I don’t think I could do it as graceful as this cat did.
M: Was it weird being in that situation where you guys were on TV with people dancing?
R: It turned out way better than I thought. At first I was like, that’s corny, but then we were there and everyone was really nice. The other half of the band said there’s twenty million people who watch it. I said, okay then, I guess we’re gonna do this. It was cool. It was totally like the magic of TV. The stage set itself, it doesn’t look really nice, there’s kinda these bleachers, but on TV, you see it on the camera, it looks awesome! And the great thing is all these musicians, there’s all these bad-ass musicians from L.A. who are on so many records. It was kinda cool to be hanging with them all day.
M: I wanna know how in the hell you guys kept your concentration with all those hot girls shaking their asses right there in front of you?
A: The twenty million people watching was kind of a big motivator.
R: Yeah, if you fuck up, these twenty million people are gonna be like, “What did you do?!”
B: It’s definitely not like you guys weren’t having fun up there. You stand up, you’re doing kicks back and forth, you’re just partying. It really comes through that you guys really like what you’re doing up there. I’d have to say that you guys had the most fun, more than any other band I’ve seen so far (at Bonnaroo).
R: We always do. We play this stage, we play the small stage afterwards. We’re just having a good time. We’re playing music, it’s not brain surgery, we’re not digging ditches, and there’s people here to enjoy themselves. We’re very happy that we get to do this for our lives.
B: I must be the only guy, probably on this farm, who didn’t know who Beetle Bob was…
J: And now you do.
B: That was awesome that you guys gave him a shout and had him come out.
J: He’s funny.
B: He said he’s seen like 50,000 shows!
J: He’s from St. Louis and he’s… I don’t know if anomaly is the right word… he’s kind of a thing all to himself.
M: He’s an amorphous being.
J: He’s just a lover of music. He comes out to all our shows, so we give him props.
M: Asdru, you say, facial hair and a beard is a key to success! (Laughter) First of all, how stoned were you when you made that video?
A: Oh, you saw that. It’s funny, I wasn’t stoned, I was actually…
M: Tired, delirious?
A: No, I actually was really depressed at that point there, I was in Jakarta (Indonesia) and I had too much time to kill. So I started listening to all the classics and I came across Michael McDonald. Then I started watching this old podcast, I guess they got a cease and desist order at some point, and it was just a whole spoof on how smooth music came around. They all had this facial thing going! Like Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, they had that really cool facial hair, the Bee-Gees.
M: So you tried to grow a big massive one or what?
A: Well, I tried but then I started looking kinda funky and my wife said, “You gotta cut that shit.”
M: How am I doing?
A: You’re doing great. See, that’s Kenny Loggins right there! But that was the thing, because I realized that all these cats, like the Beach Boys, the Beatles…
M: So how’s got the best beard at this festival? Willie Nelson, probably.
M: Anybody else?
A: B. B. King. I like his, it’s classic.
J: Yeah, he’s got facial hair, but it’s on his back! (Laughter)
A: It comes in a V-neck.
M: Raul, I was gonna bring my German Shepherd to the interview but…
R: Ha. Yeah, he’s (Moe) watched all the videos. Yeah, I got bit when I was a kid by a big ass German Shepherd and ever since then I’ve always been freaked out by dogs. I’ve had to learn how to really chill out around them. I’m learning.
B: You guys are, right now, in your longest tenure with a label. How’s that relationship?
How does it compare to Interscope?
J: Oh, it’s much better. What happened with Interscope is that we kind of fell into them. Our first label was Almo Sounds. Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert kind of got out of the business and in doing so we kinda got folded into Interscope. With them we were kind of a round peg in a square hole. We didn’t really fit into that machine really, along with September 11th and a bunch of other excuses, so we got dropped by them and got picked up by Concord. Concord is music lovers, they just bought Vanguard, Stax, all these classic catalogs. They give us space and let us make our music. They give us suggestions and stuff but they’re not like, “Where’s the hit?!” They’re not like that. They say, “We love this record and we’re gonna put it out.”
M: I know you guys recorded for the Dodgers…
J: We took a song of ours that they actually liked, they came to us, they were like, “We like the song but can you change it into more of a Dodger theme?” So we changed the song Magnolia Soul into Go Dodgers Go! (Laughter)
M: But you’re wearing a Yankees shirt!
J: Oh, this isn’t the baseball team, this represents being American more.
R: A yankee go home kinda thing. (Laughter)
M: Hey, we’re yankees.
J: They asked us to put it out there and they’re playing it this season.
M: Awesome. I don’t know if Brian told you guys about our plans but we’re gonna take you guys over to the batting cages and we’re gonna challenge you guys, Ozomatli versus the Excelsior crew, to a hitting contest.
J: Aw shit!
R: A hitting of what, baseball?
M: It depends! Either way, we can go a couple of rounds! Let’s do it.
At the batting cage:
R: I used to play when I was a kid. My father was a coach. I played all the way up into high school. But I never really practice or anything. I was good, but I haven’t really played since then. I haven’t really swung a bat since last time I was here probably, which was like two years ago.
B: Trey, let me talk to ya for a sec dude.
T: Alright, cool, let’s do this.
B: You need to get some mic time. Gimme a prediction about how Asdru’s gonna do (in the batting cage). He’s taking it pretty seriously!
T: I know, he really focused!
B: He’s dialed in.
T: This is crazy. I’ve never seen him this focused about sports!
B: So, Trey, how did you get involved with Ozomatli?
T: I was actually hanging out with G. Love, of G. Love and the Special Sauce, and he was like, “Yo, Trey, why don’t you come and jump on stage with me.” So I went and I got up on stage with him and Ozo was there and they were like, “Yo, man, why don’t you jump up with us.” I was like, alright, cool. So, I jumped up on stage with them.
B: So what did you do, did you freestyle? Did you have a couple of things in your pocket?
T: I had some rhymes to share so I said I’d do it. So we did that and then the next day they were like, “Yo, why don’t you come with us to Santa Barbara?” I was like, fuck, alright, cool. On that day they were like, “Well, hey, what are you doing? Cuz we might need a MC to travel.” I was like, I’m not doing too much of anything, so if you want me to travel, yeah no problem, now’s a good time. So that’s how it turned out. It’s pretty awesome.
Couldn’t make it to Bonnaroo this year? (We didn’t either…) Tune in to VEVO online or on your iPhone to check out a pretty damn good lineup streaming from Manchester, TN and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival! If you’ve been to Roo in the past, you’ve seen the big screens on the What Stage. You’ll be seeing the same thing if you tune in to VEVO during Bonnaroo weekend.
I can’t help but to feel guilty about having a front row seat on VEVO while eating Ben & Jerry’s Bonnaroo Buzz Ice Cream in the air condition while laying clean on my couch and drinking top shelf vodka. MTT is usually up in the front pit area, sweat and dirt covered, with beverage in hand, and mic/cameras in tow. Next year… NEXT YEAR.
Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the weekend:
Saturday June 11
11:30am – 1:00pm ET Del Mcoury & Preservation Hall Jazz Band
1:00pm – 2:30pm ET Primus
2:30pm – 4:00pm ET Ray LaMontagne
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET Alison Krauss & Union Station
5:30pm – 5:50pm ET Kylesa
5:50pm – 7:00pm ET Wiz Khalifa
7:00pm – 8:00pm ET Big Boi
8:00pm – 9:30pm ET Mumford & Sons
9:30pm – 11:00pm ET The Arcade Fire
Sunday June 12
12:30pm – 1:30pm ET Smith Westerns
1:30pm – 2:30pm ET Mavis Staples
2:30pm – 3:00pm ET Neon Trees
3:00pm – 3:30pm ET Bootsy Collins
3:30pm – 4:15pm ET Chiddy Bang
4:15pm – 5:00pm ET Galactic
5:00pm – 6:15pm ET Cold War Kids
6:15pm – 6:45pm ET Warren Haynes Band
6:45pm – 8:15pm ET The Strokes
8:15pm – 8:45pm ET Explosions in the Sky
8:45pm – 11:15pm ET Widespread Panic
Music festival fans are like flowers. For the majority, they are in full bloom during the summer, and enter a semi-dormant stage during the winter months (except those fortunate enough to have summer weather all year round). However, when the new year rolls around, and the speculation starts on who will be performing at the coming year’s summer festivals, the bears start to come out of hibernation, and the summer music love awakens. (Ok. That was a totally different analogy, but you get the idea.)
The Tracks’ staff is always geared up for when the scorching heat hits and the music blares through the loudspeakers. Whether the tunes are coming from the What Stage at Bonnaroo with 80,000 people pulsating to the beat, or a basement jam session with a few of your buddies, music comes alive in the summer.
Yo! After some serious internet issues, we’re back up and running! Thursday and Friday… Bonnaroo mania is running wild on the farm. People came to the fest with guns blazin’ and have been going balls to the wall since many had arrived on Wednesday night. The party started at the Manchester Walmart, then spilled out to the traffic line (yeah, a ton of people party in their cars), then continues through setting up their and throughout the weekend.
The first night at Roo seemed fairly tame in comparison to years in the past. The early Thursday lineup seemed weak, until Neon Indian at 8:30. The crowds seemed very excited to be at any set on Thursday night, as their Bonnaroo dreams finally have been realized.
We checked out The Dodos at 9, and they had a great vibe going. They give off a sense of being European, but they’re a “domestic product” of the good ol’ US of A. The crowd was packed, and the side stage area was mobbed. (I think the press and musicians had a bit of Bonnaroo Fever as well!)
The Dodos made us thirsty. No, it wasn’t the steamy weather of Tennessee, but it made us want to pour some heavy libations. So we did. Quite a few. As Excelsior chilled at our front row spot (again!) in front of the Bonnaroo Arch, we met and hung out with our neighbors and locals of Manchester. Apparently, they have been camping next to us for the past few years, and one of the fine gentlemen offered us a few drinks of this fine “shine.” We had a great conversation about the different types of “shine,” and how much it still paralleled the early days of prohibition. From what I hear, we’ll be having another sampling this weekend!
So quite a few Moe-jitos later, we head off to The xx‘s set. MTT was slated to interview The xx, but unfortunately they had to cancel. If you haven’t heard their album yet, I highly suggest that you get it immediately. It’s a bit more chill than the tunes I usually listen to, but the album is top notch. It’s a very stripped down and simplified sound, but the intimacy of the set was astounding. They have replicated the sound of their album perfectly, and in the live setting, the sentiment of their music is magnified tenfold. They are a must see if they swing through your area.
B and I finished up the night with Wale‘s hip hop fiesta. I just got into his music, and that guy can seriously throw down. Great crowd command and high energy ran through his crew onstage. His set was proof that you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with someone’s music to thoroughly enjoy their set. I’ll definitely be adding Wale to my playlist when I get home.
By the end of the night’s music and mayhem, it was time to crash back at our tent. The vodka induced slumber was poor, but at least we were getting a bit of rest. If there’s one thing for certain, Bonnaroo is not for the weary or faint of heart.
Bonnaroo is a true test of will and strength. Plain and simple, if you’re not a fan of the heat, roughing it, or mud, you shouldn’t be here. It’s been steamy hot since we arrived, and mud is everywhere. On Wednesday night, a monsoon hit Manchester, so we’re dealing with pretty harsh conditions. I’m not complaining, but since there are a ton of first timer here this year, I’m just informing people to make the appropriate decisions when choosing festivals.
Damn it, it is great to be back on the farm! We finally made it down to Manchester, TN after a long ass drive from Philly. Although I despise driving in cars for a long time, King B and I made the best of the trip. The weather was a bit gloomy, but it was nice and cool out… Therefore highly raising our comfort levels.
We figured that we’d “fly” to Manchester, and find a bar to watch game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Our boys, the Orange Crush aka the Philadelphia Flyers, were playing in game six. Well, we underestimated our arrival time, and ended up streaming the game on my iPhone. (No, I wasn’t watching the game while I was driving… Just listening) The Flyers ended up losing on a shitty goal, which ended in one of the most sloppy ends to a season ever. (Shit happens. We’re Philly after all)
Finally, we got to our yearly destination of the Manchester Walmart, and it was MOBBED. Beyond mobbed. I haven’t seen the parking lot that packed in the four consecutive years that we’ve been here. Usually, we’d crack open a few beverages and join in on the festivities, but we decided to skip that part, and just go shopping for our supplies then pass out for a few hours by the Bonnaroo Radio Station (Fantasy 101).
Mobs of people were already in line at 6am for Will Call and to pick up their credential. Again, there was a much larger amount of people in line than I’d ever seen. Was this a portent of things to come? Did Dave Matthews and Kings of Leon triple the attendance for Bonnaroo 2010? We’ll see very soon.
After we headed out on the road towards the farm, we were excited to see that traffic was flowing very quickly. Maybe the Manchester Police finally had their shit together so the line of people would flow much more smoothly. As soon as we got to the point where we’d start filing into the farm, we were directed down I-24 and away from the farm.
‘Maybe we’re just going to a different entrance this year.’
We could feel ourselves getting inside of the Bonnaroo gates in record time. Looking around, there was an enormous line to the left of us. ‘Maybe there’s an alternate entrance on our side of the road. There’s no way that we could be part of that line.’ Finally, we arrived at the back of the line. An hour later, we moved maybe a mile. ‘Oh shit. We’re low on gas!’ Eventually, we decided to get out of line so we wouldn’t be stranded. Flying down the road, we were amazed to see that the line kept going, and going, and going, and going… FOR EIGHTEEN MILES! Yes. 18. On the wrong side of the road.
Was the Manchester Police sending people totally away from the festival? After all, the one officer told us that they had such traffic problems that they were forced to start a different pattern. Finally, we fueled up and hit Subway for key eats. There were several Bonnaroonians there who looked pissed off and confused. They told us that the line on our side of the road was doing a huge loop around to the other side. ‘What the fuck is going on??’ If we didn’t get out of line when we did, we definitely would have ran out of gas. As a matter of fact, we saw at least 3 cars being pushed in line. I wonder where those people are now!
Making a long story a bit shorter… We got back on the road doing 80 and flew towards the gates. Team Excelsior doesn’t fucking lose, so we got in. Quite quickly. Honestly, I’d be very surprised if the people in the back of line (where we started) had made it into the grounds by 3am. It was THAT long.
Once we got into the traffic checkpoint on the grounds, everything went very fast and smoothly. Honestly, it was even better than years past. At least Bonnaroo had their shit together!
So to everyone that sat in line for hours and hours and hours… Our hearts truly go out to you. Next year, the Manchester Police has to have a much better plan, or else Bonnaroo is going to suffer. I wouldn’t be surprised if Roo loses a few thousand people next year because of this debacle. You can’t blame Bonnaroo for this major organizational mishap, but heads have to roll somewhere. The festival dumps tons of money into the local task forces and communities, so they need to treat all aspects of the festival like gold..
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments on the site. We’re looking forward to reading them!
Next: On to better things… Thursday AT Bonnaroo!
It’s that time of year again, and Moe Train’s Tracks is headed to Manchester, TN for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival! King B and The Train will be bringing you a totally new Tracks experience with this year’s coverage. We’ll be blogging on the site as all of the action unfolds over the weekend, as well as getting great interviews with the fest’s top musicians, concert photos and more!
We embark on our trip from Philadelphia and will be arriving in Manchester, TN about 12 (ugh!) hours later. Who knows what the road will hold for us, besides a ridiculously long time on Route 81 (that road SUCKS!), and pure Excelsior insanity! Keep connected to the Tracks by following on Twitter (@MoeTrainsTracks), and watching the site for lots of great updates…
We’ll be camped out by the front of the Bonnaroo arch, so if you see us, come say hi! If we’re not there, we’ll be bouncing around the grounds doing our artist interviews, taking in a ton of shows, and interviewing people in the crowds. We plan on checking out as much of the festival as possible, and we hope to meet as many of you as possible! If you have any great tips about what’s going on at the festival, or just want us to come stop by and hang out.. Message us on Twitter, and we’ll try to stop by!
Bonnaroo has always been one of our favorite festivals to cover and we’re especially looking forward to spreading our Global Domination Tour to Manchester, Tennessee and Bonnaroo!
WE’LL SEE YOU ON THE FARM!!! BONNNNARRRROOOOOOOOOOOO!
- Bonnaroo Live Webcasts (jambase.com)
- Why They Call It… Bonnaroo (spin.com)
- FREE ALBUM! SPIN’s Picks for Bonnaroo 2010 (spin.com)