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by Evan Sawdey

1 Apr 2011


30 Seconds to Mars has literally pulled off the impossible: its has transcended the dreaded status of being known as “an actor band”.

While the band was initially seen as nothing more than an alt-rock outlet for Requiem for a Dream actor Jared Leto, the group slowly began to amass fans, initially on the strength of its 2006 single “The Kill” (from its sophomore album A Beautiful lie), and very much solidifying its mainstream acceptance with 2009’s “Kings and Queens” (a song which bares a very heavy U2 influence), the accompanying music video for which was nominated for Video of the Year at the following year’s MTV VMAs.  Now, the band is capping off a successful year of touring behind This Is War by being one of the headliners at this year’s Bamboozle Festival, going on from April 29th—May 1st in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Before that takes place, however, 30 Seconds to Mars’ guitarist Tomo Milicevic sat down to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions via e-mail (Milicevic, born in Serajevo, has been playing with the band since A Beautiful Lie).  Here, he reveals Leto’s advice about push-ups, forgets to answer a few questions, and lets us know that one his hidden talents is astral projection . . .

by Evan Sawdey

29 Mar 2011


Ben + Vesper are unlike most married couples that you meet.

First off, this New Jersey duo are in their own two-piece band that is simply called, well, Ben + Vesper.  Sure, they make music together—and often sing in perfect harmony—but few couples could have amassed as diverse a musical background as they have, as their indie-pop songs tend to shift between styles often on the drop of a dime, incorporating backwoods banjo-picking, oboe-fueled interludes, or full-on girl-group backing vocals all without breaking a sweat.  These elements are never forced: they happen naturally, and although these deviations are often unexpected, they are surprising in the best way possible.

No wonder the band is signed to the eclectic folk label Sounds Familyre, worked with likes of Sufjan Stevens, and as of this past January, released its second full-length album, Honors.  Taking a break from touring, the band sat down to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions, with Ben revealing that Xanadu made him cry, that Vesper was a midwife apprentice at one point, and how one of the members is currently working on “a robot that gives you quarters when you’re sad” . . .

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 . . .

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