Monday, June 15, 2009

No Doubt, Paramore, & The Sounds 6/14/09

No Doubt, Paramore, & The Sounds at Nissan Pavilion 6/14/09

I was SO excited for this show. It’s been years since I’ve seen Paramore, and I had never seen No Doubt before. Sad, considering how much I love both these bands.

I got to the venue a little after 7 PM and got the nice surprise of seeing the end of The Sounds’ set – I had no idea they were playing this date. Unfortunately I only saw about a song and a half. Maja Ivarsson sounded a little screechy, but I have to commend her for being able to sprint around the stage in heels.

Paramore were their usual energetic selves, with Hayley Williams dashing around and the rest of the guys jumping and flipping all over the place. I felt that they left a few key songs out of their setlist, "Emergency" being the most notable one. They did play a couple of new songs off their upcoming record, and both were pretty fast, hard songs. Their setlist was:

Misery Business
For A Pessimist, I’m Pretty Optimistic
Ignorance [new]
Decoy [new]
When It Rains
Where The Lines Overlap
That’s What You Get
Let The Flames Begin

I thought "Decode" was kind of a weak way to end the set, but probably a strategic choice due to the Twilight soundtrack. I was pleased with how long their set was – I was expecting much less.

No Doubt got on stage around 9:30 PM, and there was just so much excitement in the air. They began with their shadows projected on a white sheet, waving at the audience. It looked like absolutely everyone in the audience was taking photos of it. When the sheet dropped, they had an all white, futuristic looking setup with the band members on ramps and stands – it kind of looked like a spaceship. Even the stage floor had been covered in white material, and all of the band was dressed in black and white. There was also a big screen behind the band, showing shapes, colors, and videos in sync with the songs. Gwen Stefani sounded a little rocky for the first minute or so, but then she warmed up and sounded fantastic. She has such a powerful voice and knows how to project it.

As for their outfits, No Doubt was definitely harkening back to their early days. Stefani’s hair was tied up in knots, and she was wearing a cut off tank top and cargo-like pants. The rest of the band looked the ska/punk part too.

The set list went something like this:

Hella Good
Underneath It All
Excuse Me Mr.
End It On This
Simple Life
Happy Now?
[new song]
Guns of Navarone
Hey Baby
Different People
Don’t Speak
It’s My Life
Just A Girl

Rock Steady
Stand And Deliver
Sunday Morning

No Doubt is one of those bands where you think it just can’t get any better, but they keep pulling out one huge song after another. They played all their big hits, plus some older stuff – fan favorites and such. Their setup was so slick and well-produced, and the whole band seemed to be having a great time. Stefani was swaggering all over the stage, and everyone kept running up and down the ramps and jumping around.

What really struck me was how Stefani kept talking to the audience in the pit. Most bands will address the crowd generally, but Stefani kept expressing gratitude and talking to individuals who were near her. She took a few presents from the crowd, and asked people about their signs they were holding. One man had a sign asking for a hug, so she told him, "Well, come and get it." She hugged him up on stage, talked to him for a minute, and let him take a picture with her. It’s really great to see such a huge band be that kind and welcoming to their fans.

I was also blown away by the sheer number of people there. Nissan Pavilion holds up to 19,000 people. I don’t know if the show sold out, but it looked pretty close. It was just people dancing for as far as you could see.

Stefani had two costume changes – once into a sparkly silver and black minidress with black tights and boots, and the second time into a sparkly black polo shirt with bleached out jeans. The only other band member to change clothes with drummer Adrian Young, who put on a rainbow colored tutu near the end.

For "Stand And Deliver," a bunch of freestanding drums were brought on stage, and all the members of Paramore and The Sounds came out to play, with all three women singing the song. Stefani also dropped and did ten or fifteen pushups during the intro to "Just A Girl." There was a lot of call and response singing as well. If any of the band members are tired of playing these songs, you would never know it.

Overall, I was very happy with this show. It was so great to hear all those songs I love, and to see the band having a good time. It was also nice that I got to see the leg of the tour where all three bands were female-fronted – that is something that very rarely happens, especially at this level. I envy one girl in the crowd that Stefani talked to – the girl had seen 11 stops on this tour and was planning on seeing 10 more. I’d definitely love to be able to do that!

Interview - Mark Capicotto

Glamour Kills Clothing is probably one of the most recognizable brands in the music scene - everyone knows and loves those bright colors and bold designs. Most people, however, don't know much about the company's creator, Mark Capicotto. I asked him a few questions about what it's like to be one of the leading clothing designers out there right now.

PPJ: First, tell us who you are and what you do.

Mark Capicotto: I am Mark Capicotto and I am the owner and Head Designer here at Glamour Kills Clothing.

PPJ: What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How did you get involved in the current scene?

Mark: I grew up listening to punk rock in all its forms: NOFX, Bigwig, Osker, blink-182 to name a few. All of those bands had a huge influence on me. A lot of my friends were in bands and locally we had a great music scene with a lot of shows. It was a weekly tradition to go see as many bands as I could.

PPJ: How did you come up with the idea to start designing clothes and creating your own lines?

Mark:I did a lot of designs for my friends in bands growing up and started working freelance for some bigger acts. Everyone seemed to love my artwork so I questioned, "Why don’t I do this myself?" and Glamour Kills was born.

PPJ: What does the name Glamour Kills mean?

Mark: It really has no significance, haha! I had the idea, concept and tee designs down but didn’t have a name. It sounded cool so it stuck.

PPJ: What are your inspirations as a designer? Do you have any favorite designers?

Mark: I draw a lot of inspiration from everyday things; music and pop culture in general fascinates me. If I had to pick a designer it would be Rob Dobi. I grew up loving his work - he is Godly!

PPJ: How do you choose which bands Glamour Kills will sponsor?

Mark: Well first off, we have to dig the band musically. They also have be genuine hard working good people.

PPJ: What do you look for in employees? How do you keep a team following the same design aesthetics?

Mark: It’s difficult, but as the company grew I started hiring a lot of my friends who share the same interests and visions as I do. You get a few bad eggs along the way but the team we have now is amazing and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

PPJ: What sort of trends do you look for to stay ahead of the thousands of other clothing companies out there?

Mark: I wouldn’t say trends, but we try to stay ahead of everyone and think what we would like to see - create the trends so to speak. There are a lot of other companies out there big and small that like our stuff so much they make it their own, haha.

PPJ: How have social networking sites helped Glamour Kills?

Mark: Amazingly. When I was starting out I had little to no money, and with social networking I was able to reach thousands of customers without spending anything in advertising. If you use it right social networking can be a very powerful tool.

PPJ: Are you planning on opening any more physical locations?

Mark: Yes, we have plans for moving to NYC and California in 2010 and across the pond in 2011.

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

Mark: The Dangerous Summer, The Dangerous Summer, The Dangerous Summer.

Thanks again to Mark for answering my questions, and to Jay Taylor at Quite Great Communications/Decade PR for arranging it. Be sure to check out GK and all their great clothes!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Interview - Dance Gavin Dance

You might think Dance Gavin Dance are just another generic band with a weird name. I think you should take a second look and see what these guys are all about - genuine music, a love for what they do, and yes, a funny name.

PPJ: First, tell us your name and what you do in the band.

Zachary Garren: Zachary Garren, I play guitar and yell random things when I can.

PPJ: How did Dance Gavin Dance get started? What drew you to this style of music?

Zachary: The band started like most every other band, people who liked music playing music. A handful of member changes have happened over time for the better. We don't really know what "this style of music" is because we're trying to just play things other people aren't playing, but bands like At The Drive-In influenced us in the beginning, and then we just kept going from there. We listen to as much music as we can and try to throw that all into a blender. We recently tackled weird hip-hop on our new CD, hopefully we can throw in some dub next?

PPJ: You've had quite a few member changes. How did you manage to keep going and to keep the band going in the same direction?

Zachary: We've been lucky to always find really talented people to replace those who have to leave. It's basically just survival of the fittest. Right now our line up is pretty solid, I don't see anything happening any time soon.

PPJ: How did you get hooked up with Rise Records?
Zachary: I think Craig was looking for some new bands and Eric Rushing from Artery Foundation told him to check us out and that's as complicated as it gets. Maybe?

PPJ: What do you say to people who complain about how unoriginal music with screaming in it is these days?

Zachary: I'd probably agree. The state of screaming music has become a huge joke. This scene used to be about intelligence and being different than the mainstream, but now it's just as bad as the mainstream. Musically, it's kind of like when you copy a VHS tape multiple times and the quality gets worse each time... bands copy other bands that copied other bands that copied other bands and it just keeps getting dumbed down and worse. Bands rely more on their looks and fleeting musical trends rather than actual creativity, talent, and experimentation. I guess I can't be mad at the bands, it's the listeners' fault for supporting them.

PPJ: Tell us about recording "Happiness." How do you think you've grown as a band and as people since your previous albums?

Zachary: There wasn't really anything different about the writing process, we just get together and jam. The only difference is that we've become better musicians and have grown in our musical tastes.

PPJ: How did you react to your album leaking so early?

Zachary: We were just stoked that we weren't the ones that leaked it. It happens, I guess we're just happy to be in the position to where people care enough to do that. We figure if the music is good enough, people will buy it anyways. We're just glad people get to hear it and enjoy it.

PPJ: Are you excited to play on Warped Tour this summer?

Zachary: Very, aside from the heat. I don't know about the other guys, but I grew up going to Warped Tour so it's exciting to play it finally. Plus, one of the bands that made me want to start playing music 8 years ago, Thrice, is playing for about a week.

PPJ: What do you think are the pros and cons of playing festival shows versus club shows?

Zachary: We enjoy both. I like playing outside, I feel more free. The sound can be bad, but that happens in clubs, too. I guess this would be a better question to ask us after Warped Tour since we've only played a few festivals.

PPJ: Do you have any plans for after Warped Tour?

Zachary: We're doing a tour with a certain old singer's new band, I don't know if we're supposed to say?

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

Zachary: Tubelord. They are from England and they've been blowing my mind lately. Foals. They are also from England and they are also mindblowing. Mystery Jets. They, three, are from England and they also participate in the blowing of the mind. Americans, take some notes from England... Thanks for the interview, sorry if anything doesn't make sense, that tends to happen when you're typing all your thoughts out at once and don't proof-read!

Thanks again to Zachary for answering my questions, and to Mike Cubillos at Earshot Media for setting it up. Be sure to check out Happiness, and to go see Dance Gavin Dance on Warped Tour.