Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Poptone: Members of Bauhaus Reunite at The Rio

by Annie Zaleski

For fans of ’80s post-punk and goth, Poptone is a godsend. The new band features guitarist/vocalist Daniel Ash and drummer Kevin Haskins performing songs released by their beloved groups Bauhaus, Love And Rockets and Tones On Tail.

Until Poptone’s formation, Ash never thought he would tour again. It took an inadvertent nudge from Motörhead’s late leader, Lemmy Kilmister, to change his mind. Several months ago, Ash fell asleep while listening to ambient music on YouTube via headphones—then woke up at 4 a.m. with Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” blaring in his ears.

“Waking up and hearing that, the pennies sort of dropped,” Ash says. “It was obvious that I should go back on the road after all these years of not wanting to do it.”

Ash gave the idea a day or two to marinate, then reached out to Haskins—who, coincidentally, had been considering revisiting the same material.
“We were talking about doing a DJ tour, and then I suggested, ‘Why don’t we do a live band tour?’” Haskins chimes in. “And I didn’t hear anything for a couple of days. I didn’t know that Daniel had this whole epiphany. I suddenly got this text saying, ‘Well, who’s going to play bass?’ I was like, ‘You want to do it?’ I was kind of shocked and then really excited.”

Haskins’ daughter, Diva Dompe, nabbed the bass gig by nailing the line to Tones On Tail’s most recognizable track, “Go!” (Ash says he bought Dompe her first bass guitar years ago, for her 13th birthday.)

Tones On Tail songs actually comprise 70 percent of Poptone’s setlist.
Ash says he’s “delighted” by that proportion, since he wants that band—which released just one full-length and performed sporadically during its brief time together in the early ’80s—to find a wider audience.

“I think out of the three bands, it was my favorite,” he says. “I still think that music stands up really well. [But the band] was very, very underground when it came out. I’m excited about the idea of a whole new generation of people checking it out, that band’s music.”

Poptone’s gig at The Rio in Santa Cruz on May 30th captured the roaring, abrasive darkness that made the original bands so alluring, with a setlist featuring Tones On Tail’s “Christian Says” and “There’s Only One,” along with Love And Rockets’ “Mirror People” and “Sweet F.A.,” Bauhaus’ “Slice of Life,” David Bowie, Adam Ant and Elvis Presley covers.
“We’re just playing the songs that are our favorites, and what we presume the public’s favorites to be,” Ash says. “This is definitely not a tour of playing obscure stuff that nobody’s ever heard and being arty-farty about it. We’re definitely doing something that we hope is commercially viable, something that from start to finish works.”

Intertwining cuts from these 3 bands’ discographies, plus Daniel Ash’s latest solo single, Poptone easily conquered the crowd. Favorites such as “Go”, “No Big Deal”,  “An American Dream” and “Mirror People” were certainly highlights.

Poptone recently announced a live album via PledgeMusic, and the group already has tour dates scheduled through July.
It’s a testament to how well things are going for the band, and how much “synchronicity” Ash sees with Poptone’s launch—from easily finding open rehearsal space to amassing modern gear with the proper vintage sound and feel.

Heartbreak Hotel
OK, This Is the Pops
Mirror People
Movement of Fear
No Big Deal
Love Me
An American Dream
Christian Says
There's Only One
Cracked Actor

Physical (You're So)
Flame On

Encore 2:
Slice of Life
Sweet F.A.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Jesus And Mary Chain: Live Review

Written by John Robb

The Jesus And Mary Chain played a tight set at the Fox Theater, Oakland on May 22nd.
Starting off with their new single "Amputation" the band rocked and buzzed through many of their singles like "April Skies."

The modern Mary Chain, who still make a glorious pop/noise, have something of the style and wisdom about their music as they tour their new album "Damage & Joy" where the new songs sit perfectly at ease in the set with their noisier standards.

Jim Reid stands stock still, intoning the perfect melodies and those deceptively simple, yet complex slash slogan lyrics of self loathing and love over the impenetrable wall of sound. The Mary Chain are still honing down that artful dislocation between beauty and violence that has always been the core to their enveloping spectral sound.

It’s this artful tension that creates the molten core to their music that exists beyond time and sounds as perfect now as when they emerged in 1985.

Their glacial and powerful set tonight projects something beautiful and spectral. Time has enhanced these songs – as the years roll by they are sugarcoated with the classic and if the modern Mary Chain play for well over an hour, then that’s a good thing. This is a pop music that is both classic but still full of the noise and fury of their inception but can switch to the honey dripping glistening beauty of "Just Like Honey" like a switchblade.

They still make everything feel so effortless, those glorious chord changes, those dark emotions, that inner turmoil, that claustrophobia and frustration contrasted with the sheer romance and beauty of three chord rock 'n roll or the heart break ballad strewn with tantalising noise and an avalanche of guitars like on the still astonishing "You Trip Me Up."

Jim still has a gorgeous voice – velvet and maybe Velvets smooth that slips around the melodies whilst William with his shock of silver curls like a sonic wizard cooking up layers of great sounding guitar. For a band that deal in the deceptively simple there is so much going on here. The guitars sound crystalline perfect – post Cramps fuzz with William combining Poison Ivy’s genius of simplicity and the late Bryan Gregory’s one fingered perfect feedback drones. There is surf violence, chiming post rock melancholia, spectral atmosphere or filthy sex. The Mary Chain still sound guitar-urgent and still find new places to take the six string.

The set list slips from classic to modern, the new album gets an outing as they open with "Amputation," a track that may have been around for a few years but has been vamped up for the album with producer Youth’s mystical magic touch. "Head On" still leers danger whilst "Blues From A Gun" is still a huge grinding anthem – a track that should have been huge and perhaps one the greatest goth anthems it feels even more fitting with its dark lustre being played.

Tonight the Mary Chain still feel urgent and powerful. Their live sound is quite astonishing. They sound far from tired and jaded – someone has kept their fire burning and their new album proves that they are still on a creative high. Their songs are still full of cascading melody and the band still sounds Pistols heavy. There is noise, beauty and confusion and there is the thrill of danger on the set ending Reverence with its ‘I wanna die like…’ refrain. It’s like being planted into the middle of Metal Box or the last Pistols gig in San Francisco but through the suffocating Glasgow outlying towns of the late seventies when the Reids grew up and when they briefly went to school with Ian Astbury.

April Skies
Head On
Far Gone and Out
Between Planets
Blues From a Gun
Always Sad
Mood Rider
Teenage Lust
Cherry Came Too
The Hardest Walk
All Things Pass
Some Candy Talking
Halfway to Crazy
Nine Million Rainy Days

Just Like Honey
You Trip Me Up
The Living End
War on Peace

Encore 2:
Taste of Cindy
I Hate Rock 'n' Roll

Saturday, May 20, 2017

POPTONE: Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins

POPTONE: Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, with Kevin's daughter Diva on bass, play the music of Tones On Tail, Love And Rockets and Bauhaus.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Daniel Ash: Playing His 'Greatest Hits' for Poptone

by Tom Reardon

We’ve been rehearsing for about six weeks in Burbank, in a studio there. It’s all sort of falling into place, touch wood. Hopefully we’re going to have a lot of fun this year. We’re doing this through October. Then after that, who knows?

Are you still based in Los Angeles?
I live near Ventura. I live in a little sleepy town near Ventura. I’ve lived here since 2000. I got out of LA about 17 years ago.

How did Poptone come about?
I woke up about 4 a.m. one night with my headphones around my neck and I had this revelation that, “Oh my god, I need to go out on the road.” It is a complete contradiction and turnaround from what I’ve been saying for years. I never thought I would play live again. I was sort of over it and suddenly, nine [now 12] weeks ago I had a complete change of mind.
I can’t explain. I had no desire [to play live], and I now I have a complete … a real desire to do it.

It was just this voice in my head saying, “Go out on the road. This is what you’re supposed to do.” It was like there was no contradiction in myself at all. I left it for a couple of days thinking, is this feeling going to pass, and it was still strong. The obvious choice was to contact Kevin [Haskins]. It just came together.

Kevin’s daughter, Diva, plays bass. Long story short, she got the job, and we’ve been rehearsing. We haven’t stopped for the last six weeks. First official gig of the tour is with you guys on May 11. We’ve got it planned out so we don’t do the whole thing in one go. We have breaks in between. That’s the civilized way to do it. I think we’re allowed to do it that way now.

Yes, I think you're right. How long has it been since you have played live?
It’s been seven or eight years since our last tour. [Love And Rockets played Coachella in 2008.] There was a lot of dust on my foot pedals.

Are you a gear guy? I've always been curious how you got such great sounds.
Oh, god no. I’m the antithesis of a gear guy. I have no interest in it all. Having said that, I’ve caught myself recently looking at gear magazines and all the new effects pedals. But, I have stuck to my old boss pedals. That’s all I really need, and a wah-wah pedal. I’m definitely not a gear head, no.

How has it been to revisit some of these songs?
Some of these songs I was sort of dreading because I thought it was going to be so hard to recreate live. Songs like “Twist” from Tones On Tail. The ones that I thought would be difficult are ending up being my favorites to play. I love “Twist.” It’s such a quirky song. Of bands I’ve been in, I would say my favorite is Tones On Tail. Always has been. It sounds like it’s from another planet, but it’s very commercially accessible.

I have to say, Daniel, that I love Tones On Tail. I love turning people on to the music so much.
I think … it stood the test of time really well. That Tones stuff could have been recorded last week and it would still sound fresh. Things like “Twist” is really fun to play live. Things like “Movement of Fear” which is very dark. Very spacious. It’s just a bass line and a vocal. Talk about minimal. It doesn’t get much more minimal than “Movement of Fear.” That Tones stuff is a lot of fun in the rehearsals. All of it, really. We haven’t chosen one song that we don’t like [playing].

Your discography is pretty huge, how did you come up with what to play?
Between Kevin and myself and Diva, we’re basically choosing the favorite tracks. It’s like, you know, the greatest hits although they weren’t exactly hits because we were always in "alternative" bands. They’re all sort of favorite songs. We’re doing Adam Ant’s “Physical” because it is just a blast to play it.

Are you doing anything from your solo work?
We're doing “Flame On” which is very Iggy and the Stooges. The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks was a work of art as well. That’s brilliant. It’s actually really well recorded. It’s not got that thin punk sound. Steve Jones’ guitar sound can’t be beat. It’s sort of the opposite of my sound. I try and get the guitar sounding like a razor blade. He’s got all that bottom end.

Here we go again talking about gear. I think it’s because you told me you are a musician at the beginning of the conversation. It’s hard not to talk about bits and bobs. Wobble boxes, as I call’em. The thing is not to keep talking about it. Just keep it to yourself that way nobody can steal your sound. There are certain little tricks and chords you don’t want to tell anyone about. You have to have your own thing.

We never had a T-shirt deal, for example. There is no Tones On Tail T-shirts out there. We had a deal for Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, but we never had one for Tones. We’re going to bring some on tour. People don’t know who Tones are. They’re going to find out on this tour.

I assume Diva understands she has some pretty big shoes to fill ...
I was really nervous at first. It’s in her DNA. She got it. She’s playing those bass lines really favorably. The big test for any bass player who is going to play on this stuff is to play “Go.” That’s the tough one. The sound, the inflections, the whole thing … she nailed it. We went through so many fuzzboxes to get that sound on the “Go” bass line.

You’ll never guess what got that damn sound. It was an orange boss pedal. We’ve been rehearsing six weeks solid to get it right.