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Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012
Experimental post-hardcore act Pierce the Veil has gone from a band on the verge to main stage scene-kings on the Vans Warped Tour. The band sits down with PopMatters to make sense of the wild ride.

While Warped Tour serves as a platform for showcasing some of the best and biggest acts in the post-punk scene, it has long been recognized as the proving grounds for young bands looking to make a name for themselves.  Spending the summer traveling by van, in close quarters, with little food or access to showers and basic hygiene tends to be a good way to find out what your band is made of.  In 2008, San Diego act Pierce the Veil headed out on Warped Tour in support of its debut album A Flair for the Dramatic and has been making notable strides ever since.  Its 2010 follow-up Selfish Machines saw a huge improvement in overall quality from the post-hardcore act and was followed by the group’s second full run on the tour.

This summer, the band celebrated the release of its accomplished new album Collide With the Sky by rocking the main stage on it summer-long stint, and in the process has become a shining example of hard work paying off.  With a continually growing fan base and persistent knack for expanding its experimental sonic boundaries, Pierce the Veil is on a trajectory that could soon land it as one of the top billed acts in the scene.

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Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012
by Warren A. Miller IV
Often written off as a one-hit wonder, Nada Surf proves to be a band with depth, tenacity, and an enviable work ethic.

Nada Surf was thrust into the spotlight of a booming alternative music scene back in 1996, when the band’s quirky debut single, “Popular”, became, well, popular. Two years later, when the Brooklyn-based trio turned in its sophomore album, The Proximity Effect to record label executives at Elektra, the executives were none too pleased. The album lacked a “Popular”, they said; it had no catchy single that would spur interest in the record and generate sales. When the band rejected the label’s request to alter the album, Elektra refused to release it in the United States, and Nada Surf and the label decided to part ways.

Although they had long been dismissed as a novelty one-hit wonder, Nada Surf soldiered on. They acquired the rights to The Proximity Effect from Elektra and released the record on their own label, MarDev, in the United States in 2000, touring extensively throughout the country to support its release. Without the backing of a major label behind them, however, both record sales and show attendance were generally disappointing.

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Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
Brendan Benson is a musician a lot of history behind him and was more than willing to speak to PopMatters about his roots and his early influences, and how they progressed:

Brendan Benson has had a fascinating career, moving from relative unknown, to local legend, to renowned songwriter, to co-frontman alongside Jack White in a supergroup called the Raconteurs. All the while he’s grown in popularity and learned enough to become a more-than-seasoned veteran songwriter. To put it mildly, he’s a musician with a lot of history behind him and was more than willing to speak about his roots and his early influences, and how they progressed: “I think I was about 14 or 15 and started getting into punk rock, specifically DC hardcore.  I realized that the bands were my age and it kind of gave me the courage to try it myself.  I got interested in songwriting so I ventured out and studied Wings and the Zombies and Todd Rundgren.  I guess it just kind of continued to evolve and still does to this day.”

Recently Benson launched Readymade Records, which has gotten off to a quick start and features a promising talent in the form of emerging artist Young Hines. When asked about the decision to launch the label and why Hines was the first artist he signed, Benson responded, “I produced six albums in a year, including my own; so it just made sense to release them under the same family.  Especially since we were playing all over each other tracks as well, it’s fun and makes sense.  Young [Hines] was first, actually, as I know my manager was really blown away with his music and that kind of lit the fire on what has evolved into what will be five full-length releases and an EP with Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes for this year.” Then he added simply, “Fun stuff.”

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Thursday, May 24, 2012
Upon the release of Hell in a Handbasket, the classic rock icon opens up about fame, faith, and his fears about the world.

Meat Loaf named his most recent album Hell in a Handbasket because that’s where the ‘70s rock icon—who now prefers to be known simply as “Meat”—feels the world is headed. 

“I keep hearing these stories about selfishness and ‘me, me, me, me, what I believe and all of you can just go to Hell’”, he said in a recent PopMatters interview. He heard a student sued a high school to remove a prayer that was on a wall. “It cost the school money and I’m saying to myself, ‘The money could have been better used in the school district by teaching students, helping students, supporting art programs’,” he said. “‘Go down and volunteer at the homeless shelter. Go to the Ronald McDonald House. Go to the kids’ hospital. Volunteer to help the homeless. Go do anything. Don’t just make it about me, me, me, me, me and this is my belief and I believe that I am right.’” 

For Meat, Hell in a Handbasket is about humanity, compassion, dignity, and being truthful. Meat says this is his most personal record ever:  “I want everyone to know who I am”, he says, projecting a straightforward, confessional honesty. In the first song, “All of Me”, Meat sings: “I caught a glimpse of myself today / It wasn’t a pretty picture /  I must say / This is my anger /  This is my shame. / These are my insecurities that I can’t explain”.

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Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012
When not visiting the Church of Bob Pollard, Unicycle Loves You's Jim Carroll takes pleasure in rewriting the garage-pop rulebook, conquering SXSW, and releasing his band's best album to date. Now, he tells PopMatters all about it.

Unicycle Loves You remains a bit of a pop-rock enigma.

For starters, the band started out as a project of just one person alone: singer/songwriter Jim Carroll. Ever since moving to Chicago in 2005 (a transplant from Poughkeepsie, NY), Carroll has been slowly carving out his niche as one of the foremost garage-pop songwriters of his day. Raised on a steady diet of Sebadoh and Superchunk (with good healthy portions of Guided by Voices to be served up as a main course), Carroll doesn’t as much revive the glorious days of ‘90s indie rock as he does synthesize it into his own gloriously warped vision of what guitar-pop was always meant to sound like. Now, with the assistance of drummer J.T. Baker and bassist Nicole Vitale, it seems that Carroll has found the perfect people to help his vision come into being.

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