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by Evan Sawdey

24 Mar 2011


It is not often that you find Grammy Award winners that also have their own line of pasta sauce.  It’s an even rarer occurrence to find out that said person is also the drummer for the Ramones.

Yet it is this very eccentric list of accomplishments that has made Marky Ramone who he is today.  Filling in as drummer after Tommy Ramone quit the band in 1978, Marky has occupied the trap set from that year’s Road to Ruin onward, playing on such notable tracks as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” and “She’s a Sensation”.  When not playing with the Ramones, however, Marky has been able to keep himself occupied with his bands the Intruders and the Speedkings, as well as having laid down tracks with Dee Dee and Joey Ramone’s solo efforts.  And, when not working on his book about the punk scene, you can of course order yourself a case of Marky Ramone’s Brooklyn’s Own Pasta Sauce.

At the end of April, however, Marky will be joining New Found Glory on stage for this year’s Bamboozle Festival in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and to mark the occasion, he sat down to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions, here revealing that he uses drumming for stress management, which Fantastic Four character he most resembles, and how it’d be great if a certain world leader tried a certain brand of pasta sauce . . .

by Evan Sawdey

22 Feb 2011


Photo: Hama Sanders

Alex Ebert has had a hell of a career, and he should know: he’s actually had two of them.

Ebert’s first career was in the early 2000s, when his electro-rock group Ima Robot released its eponymous debut album to decent success.  Lead by the snappy single “Dynomite” (which had a delightfully outrageous video to go along with it), the group picked up a decent following, touring with the likes of Hot Hot Heat while getting promotional support from the likes of MTV2’s underground-exposure program Subterranean.  The band’s 2006 follow-up album Monument to the Masses, however, received a much chillier reception than expected, and single “Creeps Me Out” stalled, with Ebert eventually releasing the gender-bending (and amazingly well done) promo clip for album-highlight “Lovers in Captivity” on his own, much to the chagrin of his label.  Needless to say, things got cool between artist and label at that point, and Ebert disappeared.

by Evan Sawdey

17 Feb 2011


Photo: Jenny Jimenez

It’s time to say hello to Eric Elbogen—despite the fact that he’s been here for awhile.

Ever since he initially moved to New York to form his band Say Hi in 2002—which is mostly a solo project for all intents and purposes—Elbogen has managed to put out six well-regarded solo albums, his stature growing with each and every release.  His 2009 album Oohs & Ahhs, for example, managed to get songs featured in everything from Cadillac ads to Showtime television programs.  Now, with his seventh disc, Um, Uh Oh, Elbogen’s alter ego is poised to break wide open, and the single “Devil” has already been featured in the TV show Gossip Girl, exposing Say Hi to a much larger audience.

Elbogen’s unique home-spun sound feels right at home on Barsuk, and his expressive, perfectly imperfect voice might invite more than a few welcome comparisons to that of Arcade Fire’s Win Butler.  His songwriting abilities are as sharp as ever, and people merely need to hear Um, Uh Oh‘s album opener “Dots on Maps” to understand what the fuss is all about.  Taking time from his busy schedule, Elbogen managed to sit down with PopMatters to answer our famed 20 Questions, revealing how he’s still trying to be a badass drummer, why you don’t mess with the Stones, and how he wants to be remembered for his terrible jokes . . .

by Evan Sawdey

18 Jan 2011


Common Grackle is about as uncommon a group as you’re likely to find. A collaboration between indie songwriter Gregory Pepper and the hip-producer Factor (who are both Canadian), Common Grackle’s debut album The Great Depression is a spry little rap disc that is dominated by acoustic guitars, acidic and cynical lyrics, and a Kool Keith cameo that’s as fun as it is totally unexpected.  When it is not lyrically dissecting all the hipster kids on tracks like “At the Grindcore Show”, the band find a dark heart beating at the center of the album’s title track, which features a morbid, snarky narrator facing uncertainty about taking his own life.  The band is unabashedly quirky, but unashamedly fearless, crafting an album that’s as funny and gut-wrenching as it is wholly unique, which is why The Great Depression remains one of 2010’s hidden musical gems.

Yet those who enjoy intelligent, wry pop music have gradually come around to Common Grackle, and just as its career is starting up, the band managed to take some time to respond to PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here discussing the “bored housewife” method of relaxation, why Bruce McCulloch was a brilliant actor, and how the works of Erik Satie has deeply affected Pepper himself . . .

by Evan Sawdey

14 Dec 2010


Tom Zé is one of the most underappreciated geniuses in all of pop music history. He is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the Tropicalia movement, which helped redefine how the world felt about Brazilian music culture from the 1960s onward.  Although people like Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes all came from the same collective mindset, it wasn’t until the mid-‘80s when Zé broke through, having caught the eye of David Byrne, getting signed to his Luaka Bop record label, and soon experiencing a remarkable career renaissance . . .

Back in October of this year, Zé became recipient of some unique reissues, ranging from a fantastic multi-LP vinyl box set called Explaining Things So I Can Confuse You, along with a single-disc greatest hits retrospective CD called Estudando a Bossa. To help commemorate these releases, Zé sat down to do a brief 20 Questions feature with us here at PopMatters, revealing how he wished he discovered the diatonic scale, why he looks so good in a fig leaf, and how psychoanalysis is his stress management . . .

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