Saturday, August 26, 2006

Devil and Daniel Johnston & the History of Stress Records

Daniel Johnston, holding his tape hot off
the press! Back in the day...

by: Rich Tupica

'The Devil and Daniel Johnston' was released on DVD September 19th, 2006. If you haven't heard of this documentary it's all about the troubled times of the talented songwriter. The cover art for the album "Hi How Are You" was sported on a t-shirt by Kurt Cobain back in the 90's, but if that's all you know about Daniel Johnston, you may want to take a closer look, after all Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons compares him to Bob Dylan!
Mr. Stress himself, Jeff Tartakov, owner of the Austin, Texas based Stress Records is responsible for releasing all of the early lo-fi home made cassettes of Johnston. For years Tartakov, worked very close with Johnston and recently he was nice enough to answer a few questions I had, take a peek if you'd like.

So, Jeff,how old are you now & what's your hometown?
"I was Born in Houston, but I have lived in Austin for most of my life, I am now 49 years old."

How long have you known Daniel for & where did you meet him?
"I first met Daniel on my front porch in 1985. My housemate at the time was Bill Anderson who played in the band Poison
13 and currently plays in a great band called The Meat Purveyors and he was good friends with Daniel. One day I heard a racket out on the front porch and it was Daniel and Bill. He had already made quite a name for himself locally so it was exciting to finally meet him."

How did Stress Records get started?
"Stress Records started in 1981. The first release was a 7" single by another housemate's band called The Reactors. At the time there were very few local or even regional labels putting out stuff by new bands so Stress Records was born out of necessity. I put out a couple of singles by The Reactors and Mike Runnels then a cassette by The Kamikaze Refrigerators in the early 80s."

What Daniel album is your favorite and why?
"That's hard to say, I love them all. If I HAD to pick just one it would be "More Songs of Pain" although that changes from time to time. More Songs is my current favorite because I recently saw the Infernal Bridegroom production of Speeding Motorcycle in Houston and was blown away by it. It's a rock opera based on Daniel's songs about a guy who goes crazy after falling in love with a woman who married an undertaker."

How would you describe your relationship with Daniel currently?
"Daniel is a good friend and I always enjoy hearing from him. I consider it a privilege to have been able to work with an artist of that magnitude and the troubles between us that are portrayed in the film are ancient history."

Does the new documentary show an accurate portrayal of Daniel?
"The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a very accurate portrayal of both Daniel and everyone around him. Jeff Feuerzeig (the director) and Henry Rosenthal (the producer) spent over four years making sure every detail was just right and I think they did an amazing job."

Any last words?
"Daniel is one of the greatest and most influential artists of his generation and it's good to see him getting his due. I hope everyone enjoys the movie."

Jeff Tartakov (left), his girlfriend Jaimi McAllister
and Daniel Johnston, posing for a recent


Reigning Sound's Carol Schumacher Interview

Carol Schumacher at WMBR radio session

By:Rich Tupica
June 19th, 2006

You may have first seen Carol playing bass in the garage-ish Ohio based band The Tough & Lovely. Recently, in between gigging with Detroit's Gore Gore Girls, Carol has teamed up with underground legend Greg "Oblivian" Cartwright and Asheville, North Carolina's own drumming sensation Lance Wille, completing the offical roster for the Reigning Sound.
With Carol in Ohio and the guys a few states away to the south, I was curious to know how they manage to get together, so I figured I'd ask her.

Carol, Where are you from originally?
"Cleveland, Ohio. But I've been living in Columbus for about four and a half years now."

How long have you been an offical member of the Reigning Sound?
"I've been in Reigning Sound since August of 2005."

How do you guys have band practice with you living in Ohio and Lance & Greg down in Asheville?
"I visited Asheville a couple of times before our tour with The Detroit Cobras last fall, and we had a few days of rehearsal, then we played a couple of shows in town. Mostly I learn the songs on my own, then later I'll meet up with Lance and Greg to go over them before a show."

How is touring the United States with the Reigning Sound?
"Touring the U.S. with the Reigning Sound was a blast. I had never gotten to do any extended touring in previous bands, so I was really excited to drive through the west and the south and see the scenery. The guys are very easy to get along with, and they run a mean crossword puzzle."

Carol at the Mary Weiss Sessions
By:Theresa Kereakes

Do you have a day job, if so, doing what?

"My day job is delivering a variety of weekly papers a few days a week here in Columbus. It's contract work, so I can subcontract it out when I need to leave town and I don't normally have to work weekends."

How long have you been playing bass for?
"I've been playing bass in bands for about 10 years. I've tried other instruments, but it's always remained my favorite."

How would you describe the material Reigning Sound is working on for the next album?
"Lately, Greg's been working on writing a bunch of songs for a record we're doing in late July with Mary Weiss, the lead singer of the Shangri-Las. They're definitely written with her voice and delivery in mind, but with Greg's take on love and heartbreak, it's great stuff!

What has been the best and/or worst part of joining the Reigning Sound?
"The best part of joining the Reigning Sound is getting to work with Greg and Lance. They're so talented and it's a real joy to play with them. The worst part is probably that despite doing a ton of New York Times crossword puzzles on tour, my skills at doing the puzzle haven't really improved."

Who are some bands that you are digging right now?"
"As far as new bands, I sometimes feel like I'm only aware of stuff that my friends or my friend's friends are doing, or stuff that I happen to see live when I'm out seeing a friend of a friend's band. So, some new bands I like alot are The Dropdead Sons, I also just got a new record from The Rainy Day Saints from Cleveland, that I'm digging alot, and a 7" from Jack Oblivian & The Tennessee Tearjerkers with a great cover of Chills and Fever."

Reigning Sound: Greg, Carol & Lance By: Theresa Kerakes

Here are a few Carol approved links!
Reigning Sound
Theresa Kereakes - Best Punk Pics Ever!
The Dropdead Sons
Rainy Day Saints
Brown Sound Records (Tennessee Tearjerkers 7")
Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las
Gore Gore Girls

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Friday, August 25, 2006

IN THE RED RECORDS, Larry Hardy Interview

In the Red owner, Larry Hardy, closing the deal with Sparks

By: Rich Tupica
June 9th, 2006

Los Angeles' own In the Red has delivered some of thee best rock-n-roll albums of the past decade. With releases from The Reigning Sound, The Black Lips, The Ponys, The Dirtbombs and way too many others to mention, there dosen't seem to be any end in sight for the most known un-know indie label out there today.
Larry Hardy is the founder and master mind behind In The Red, he was nice enough to fill me in on what we can be expecting from his label.

So Larry,What is your favorite album In the Red has ever released and why?
"I can't really name a favorite, there's too many that I'm really crazy about. With that said, I have a real fondness for the Cheater Slicks "Don't Like You" album. I love that album and it was done at a kind of special time in my life."

How old are you now & when did you start In the red Records?
"I started the label 15 years-ago, though initially it was more or less a hobby rather than a full time thing. I'm 42 years-old now. Damn, I'm old!"

Is there a band you haven't worked with, that you'd like to?
"I've been really lucky that most contemporary bands I like are willing to do a single or something, so I can work with them in some small capacity. Right now, the band I haven't worked with that I'd most like to is The A-Frames. I've been talking to them and it looks like I'll get to do a single at some point."

Do you feel that any of "your" bands have the potential to become a pop-radio band, living it up on MTV Cribs?
"Usually I don't like popular radio or MTV bands, music on that level is usually fairly generic and tame. So, no, I don't think any of the bands I work with have the potential to become bland. That said, I've always thought The Ponys could perhaps cross over into the mainstream. They're pretty poppy, though still probably too good to be on the radio. In a perfect world a band like The Black Lips would be on MTV and the radio, but, obviously, this isn't a perfect world."

What do you think of the new Demons Claws album that is going to be realeased soon?
"They're actually here in town working on it right now. From what I've heard so far this album is going to be amazing. Definitely the best stuff they've done so far."

Beyond the Demons Claws, what is in In the Red's near future?
"Besides Demons Claws, I'm also now working on new albums with the King Khan & BBQ Show and The Tyrades. Those are the new bands on the roster. Apart from that, I've got a lot of stuff going with bands I've been working with already.
The Reigning Sound, The Hunches, Miss Alex White and The Lamps are all getting ready to record new albums. We're also putting together a compilation of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion stuff that's going to be really great."

Do you feel the new Sparks album fits in with the rest of your roster?
"I actually do think they fit, though they don't sound like anything else on the label. Hell, they don't sound like anything else, period. I've always, more than anything, seen In the Red as a label that does eccentric rock- n-roll music. Sparks are certainly eccentric and original."

How is it working with so many cool bands on a daily basis?
"Mostly all the bands I work with are made up of really cool people that I end up being friends with. Every band has it's own dynamics and they're all different. I've been fortunate to have never worked with any assholes."

Some Links for that azz...

to LISTEN to the latest IN THE RED bands visit:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Harlan T. Bobo Interview...What's Next For Mr.Bobo?

Harlan T. Bobo photo: Don Perry

By: Rich Tupica
August 17th, 2006

Memphis based Goner Records may be known for releasing garage-punk albums by The Oblivians and The King Khan & BBQ Show, but Harlan T. Bobo is the exception to the Eric Oblivian rule.
With a history in the rock-n-roll band Viva La American Death Ray Music, not many were expecting his emotional curve ball of a solo album called "Too Much Love." From start to finish this LP is the story of his marriage going to hell and listening makes you feel as if you're his best friend watching it happen.
Too Much Love
received much critical praise, now Harlan has part two of his sad-saga waiting for us underneath his bed.

How old are you and where are you from Harlan T.Bobo?
"Too old to be livin' the way I do. Dayton, Ohio was my place of birth, but I move around."

How did it feel to release your solo album 'Too Much Love'? Did it seem more important to you than some of your previous releases?
"Frightening, it sat under my bed for almost a year."

Some, well most of the lyrics on 'Too Much Love' were quite personal and honest, did you ever have any doubts about releasing such an intimate album?
"It never crossed my mind that it could be a problem. Now, two years later if I want to sing those songs, well, I have to relive that relationship ... It keeps me from playing a lot of shows."

What's the deal with the 'Merry Christmas Spaceman' album? I haven't heard this yet, but I want to, when was this stuff recorded and why?

"The Christmas lp rocks! ... Well, it doesn't rock, but I like it. It's all instrumental cartoony stuff that I made them as Christmas gifts for several years. My brother put them all on a cd, now Goner Records has them."

Is there going to be another solo Harlan album,and who will be involved with it, also is there a release date?
"The new Harlan record is sitting under my bed. Everybody was involved, whoever was around at the time. Too be released once I'm not so close to it."

What does the newer solo stuff sound like? Is it going to be another concept or theme type of album?
"It's the aftermath album... Watch Harlan lose his little mind. It sounds loopy, someone said it sounds like a closeted Brian Wilson, does that mean it sounds gay?"

What do you feel is more of a priority these days, solo, or Death Ray Music?
"So far there has been no need to prioritize."

How was it working with Cat Power on her new album?
"I heard a lot of stories about Cat Power, but she was fine. She spoke very quietly, but had very definite ideas of what she wanted ... I now have a crush. "

What are some newer bands or artist that you are currently listening to?
"Honestly, I can't afford to buy new music, its gotten way too expensive. I get all my records from the $2 bin. I listen to a lot of Kris Kristopherson and Jackie Gleason."

Do you want to add anything about current projects you are working on?
"Presently, I have a job scoring music for a reality T.V. show called "Sexual Healing" on Showtime. It's not exactly porn, but it'll have to do. The Limes, I can't say enough good things about the 'Tarantula' record."

Harlan T.Bobo Links:

Harlan on Myspace
Goner Records on Myspace
Offical Goner Website
BUY Harlan T. Bobo!

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