Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 16 Apr 07 09:22
How to describe The Love X Nowhere? Let's let the critics speak: "The term 'Indie' doesn't do justice to the Love X Nowhere's lush blend of pretty and trippy." -- Bill Picture, SF Chronicle "The Love X Nowhere is a trippy, headphone-friendly experience that combines glimmering indie-pop a la Cocteau Twins with the cinematic elements of classic Pink Floyd." -- Jimmy Leslie, Oakland Tribune
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 16 Apr 07 09:26
Our next guests, Gabriel Leis, Adam Perry, and Brett Chulada, are members of the popular San Francisco-based band The Love X Nowhere. Our moderator for this conversation is Steve Silberman. We usually ask our guests to supply us with some personal background from which we glean details for an introduction. In this case, their backgrounds are so rich it's hard to know where to begin. Therefore we're going to ask our guests to start out by introducing themselves. Welcome, Gabriel, Adam, Brett, Steve. Glad to have you here! Can we please start with you taking turns to tell us a bit about yourselves.
Gabriel Leis (gummyazul) Mon 16 Apr 07 09:55
Born in New Delhi, India to a beatnik father and an itinerant mother. Grew up in 2 countries, 8 states, and about 64 towns until high school age, when I moved to Marin to live with my father. His friendship with Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead produced the gift of my first guitar, a beautiful Alvarez Yairi which is now on loan to my writing partner and bandmate Brett Chulada. Heavily influenced by the musical history of San Francisco and Northern California, as well as the natural spirituality that is running thick in the air of the shadows of Mt. Tamalpais. Undyingly devoted to the urban experience, and firmly ensconced within San Franciscos Mission district. Blessed by the heavens with True Love, in the form of Mendonecian Summer Makovkin, daughter of Sasha and Sue, dancer, artist, illustrator, and print-maker. My sword of fate may be broken, but it most certainly is drawn.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 16 Apr 07 10:49
That's beautiful, Gabriel! Welcome. I love the music you guys have recorded, and was lucky enough to see you play at the Independent a while ago. I am really excited to talk to you all. Here's my boilerplate intro-du-jour: Steve Silberman is a senior writer for Wired magazine, covering brain science, culture, how technology is changing society, music, biology, and other Big Picture issues. As a young writer, he studied with Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and others at Naropa University, where he became Ginsberg's teaching assistant. In the early '90s, he authored "Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads" with David Shenk, and he has co-produced and contributed essays for numerous CDs, box sets and DVDs by the Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and other groups, including the Dead's "So Many Roads (1965-1995)." He lives in San Francisco, and is a long-time conference host on the Well.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Mon 16 Apr 07 12:10
It's rather hard to follow Gabriel's mystic Beatnik world-traveler, true-love story, but here I go: Born in Pittsburgh, PA to a Xerox technician and a secretary (aka "working mother"). Grew up in Pittsburgh, worked as a music journalist, played drums and sometimes bass in Pittsburgh punk bands as a teenager and studied poetry (under the far-away, loving, critical eyes of mentors Steve Silberman and Charles Potts) at the University of Pittsburgh ("Pitt") until suddenly moving to San Francisco at age 21, where I became a preschool teacher, touring rock drummer, and the first member of my family ever to live outside Pittsburgh. Like Gabriel and most of TLXN, I am "Undyingly devoted to the urban experience, and firmly ensconced within San Franciscos Mission district." Blessed by the heavens with a love for baseball (and hockey and football) that sees me simultaneously overjoyed at the beginning of this year's MLB season and on the edge of my seat for the first round of the NHL playoffs.
Brett Chulada (adamice9) Mon 16 Apr 07 14:01
Born in Eugene, Oregon to loving parents, who moved shortly after to Salt Lake City (one of a few non-mormon families, my folks raised us as Unitarians). Father played guitar and sang, not professionally but he has a beautiful voice. Went to high school in Davis, CA. Been singing since the sixth grade when an influential teacher noticed an enthusiastic voice coming out of his weekly class sing-a-longs. With this initial push i stuck with singing in school choirs and in high school participated in award winning choirs under the guidance of Richard Brunell. We performed in New Orleans, Disneyland(!), retirement homes etc. Hundreds of performances. I was also involved with the Acme Theatre Company under the guidence of David Burmester, an english teacher at my high school. The Music and Theatre departments at my school were no joke. Where most high schools focus on sports, we had just as much, if not more, attention on music and theatre. This is all really boring stuff... So, at 15 I tried acid and my experience brought a deep need to express myself. I learned how to play guitar and began writing songs. I was always more interested in coming up with my own ideas rather than learning other artists' work. Rock music posessed my soul. After graduating I went to Sonoma State University and immediatly began playing and forming bands. This was my only interest in school, leading me to drop out after a few semesters. I stayed in Sonoma County for the next 5 years playing with my band "Immersed". After that fell apart I moved around a bit, landing in San Francisco and forming "Sad Sad Fun" and eventually joining The Love X Nowhere (TLXN)...which brings us up to date.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Mon 16 Apr 07 16:49
That's our singer/guitarist Brett above, by the way. He and his brother (Michael, who is also in TLXN and plays keyboards) are borderline allergic to computers, but he managed to sign into my account today and write that intro.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 16 Apr 07 16:53
Welcome, Brett! It's great to see you guys here. TLXN is such an ambitious band -- you guys are not afraid to play big, go for the heroic magnitude and oceanic emotions, and you're all so musically gifted. Seeing Adam play drums reminds me of watching Art Blakey or Stewart Copeland -- guys who were obviously born to play their instrument, most at ease and most articulate in that swinging groove with so much *power*. The vocals and lyrics and guitars and vision of what music can be are all aligned in TLXN. Good work. I'm very psyched about the upcoming Well party -- http://www.well.com/conf/party/ -- and anyone reading this can get hear your music at http://www.myspace.com/thelovexnowheresf or the Apple Music Store. So, I'm curious guys -- what inspired you each to play music? What were the first things you heard that sounded like "you" and encouraged you to develop your skills to this level?
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 16 Apr 07 17:08
Adam asked me to clarify that I have not seen TXLN live yet. I was describing a performance of his that I saw with his previous band, Sunfire Pleasure. But I do enjoy the TLXN recordings I've heard so far, and hope to see you guys in the future. Carry on.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Mon 16 Apr 07 18:51
Personally, my introduction to music starts with my father, but it's a double-edged sword because he actually tried to keep me from pursuing music as a career. On one hand, he has played guitar (usually the same beautiful, mint-condition Gibson SG he's had since 1968) for five decades and spent his teens, 20's and 30's playing and singing in dance bands, wedding bands, etc. but never played or wrote original songs or played outside Pittsburgh. It was always covers. And he never owned many albums, let alone many hip albums, but when I was just 4 or 5 years old I remember finding his copy of Led Zeppelin's fist album and spinning "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" over and over and over and finding out that their drummer had died "in a pool of his own vomit," which seemed somehow terribly sad and cool at the same time. Anyway, listening to Zeppelin and Van Halen and AC/DC on Pittsburgh classic rock radio (better known as Pittsburgh radio) as a grade-schooler was when I knew I wanted to be a drummer in a rock band when I grew up. I started playing the drums at age 9, and immediately both of my parents warned me never to take playing in a rock band seriously. They said it would interfere with homework, they said it would get me in the wrong crowd, they said it would get me involved with drugs, they said it would prevent me from doing well in school and ever graduating college, they said it would interfere with ever taking anything else seriously enough that I'd consider it more important than playing music. And they were totally correct on all accounts. I started my first band -- Mind Riot -- as a 12 year old and performed at parties and school assemblies, all punk covers, never originals. My big hero was Stewart Copeland and realistically (although I played in the school jazz band) I learned to play the drums by putting on headphones and playing along to the entire Police boxed set ("Message in a Box") that my brother bought me for Christmas in the sixth grade. Later I'd join a punk band in high school as the bassist by playing along to Paul Simonon's bass parts on all the Clash albums. At 16 I recorded an album for the first time and started to play in punk clubs around Pittsburgh like Club Laga, The Next Decade, Millvale Theater -- all of which are now sadly gone. Just before I moved to San Francisco I got pretty into Miles and Coltrane and the Grateful Dead and Zappa and played in an instrumental indie-jazz band called Whitford (http://listen.to/whitford) that recorded a self-titled album I'm pretty proud of still. After ending up in San Francisco a few years ago at age 21 I started playing in jambands, jamming with jazz groups in North Beach, and starting to tour the West Coast for the first time with a group called Sunfire Pleasure. In 2005 I got a few chances to play with some of my heroes -- members of Phil Lesh's band and Bob Weir's band Ratdog -- and did a really rewarding tour with Rob Barraco, David Gans, Barry Sless, Klyph Black and David Nelson under the name Guilty Pleasures. I even got to jam with David Nelson of the New Riders and Martin Fierro, who played sax on some of my favorite Grateful Dead albums. That was just before I joined The Love X Nowhere, which has been rewarding not just musically but also personally. At it's best TLXN is definitely a mixture of all the music I like: it's rock, but it's also equal parts lush, dark, intense, precise, jammy, washy, unpredictable, spiritual, dangerous, dreamy, hopeful and menacing. Plus I got to dress up in a full bear costume at an Indian wedding. How cool is that? Recently we did 13 shows up and down the coast in 13 days, and boy that was a trip. We've only been together about a year and a half, but just getting to play most of the premier clubs in San Francisco -- Independent, Dunord, Bottom of the Hill, Slim's, 12 Galaxies, Rickshaw, Hemlock, etc. -- has been exciting. But to answer Steve's other questions: "What were the first things you heard that sounded like "you" and encouraged you to develop your skills to this level?" Stewart Copeland was the first drummer I heard that made me think: that's how I want to sound, that's the kind of feel I have for music, and that's the style I want to play. I want to be precise and write great parts, but I also want to have the natural, swinging improvisational feel of a jazz drummer (Tony Williams and Elvin Jones in particular) and be able to treat each song like a set of paints I can use differently each time I play them, conveying something different on the canvas each time. "The Bed's Too Big Without You," "Driven To Tears," and "Message in a Bottle" definitely gave me that feeling. And of course "Spanish Key" from Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" album, maybe even moreso...but that's a feeling created by virtually complete improvisation by a group of players. So yeah, I'll give it a rest now. ;-)
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 16 Apr 07 19:13
What a wonderful answer! Thank you so much, Adam. And I can totally hear Copeland in your playing. I saw him with Oysterhead and it was like hearing a Norse God manifest himself in sound. > played in an instrumental indie-jazz band called Whitford (http://listen.to/whitford) that recorded a self-titled album I'm pretty proud of still. Yeah, I remember hearing it. You guys were good. > my first band -- Mind Riot -- as a 12 year old That's so great. > Recently we did 13 shows up and down the coast in 13 days, and boy that was a trip. Adam, Gabriel, and Brett: What do you like/hate most about life on the road?
Gabriel Leis (gummyazul) Tue 17 Apr 07 10:56
Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan. That was my greatest inspiration and the idea of a folk hero was my version of rock star. Around the time I was learning I was very in to sixties rock music as well; Rolling Stones, Greatful Dead, Pink Floyd, Traffic, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane (Jorma Kaukonen was my guitar hero, Embryonic Journey anyone?), Quicksilver, and all the rest. I also had teachers that were friends, and friends that were teachers that greatly influenced my development as a guitarist. As a songwriter I found my own way, because from the day I started playing, I also started writing. After an initial period of guitar basics, I pretty much refused to learn other people's songs, and focused on writing my own. The up side was that I was developing a good songwriting and lyrical sense, the down side was the my guitar playing remained kinda rudimentary without the influx of ideas you get from figuring out how other people do it. Anyways, that was 16 years old and I have come through and learned from many other musical influences and phases since then. I think that I wrote some pretty good songs early on, and that gave me confidence to continue and the belief that I had something to offer as an artist. For me this was tempered by a lot of insecurities about my skills as a guitarist and a singer. I didn't really develop my own style and learn how to use either of these instruments properly until well in my 20's. Touring.... Sadly San Francisco has no standing rock scene, each band has to create their own. Hence the clubs will only allow you to play about once every 4 to 6 weeks, because realistically that is all the scene will support. So the best part of touring is performing every night, and really mastering the performance part of it, not just the music. The worst part of touring is the food, and the sad realization that the corporations have won. There is a (town) called Patterson just south of the I5 interchange when you are heading down to LA from the Bay Area. You see the exact same town a thousand times on the road, and it's depressing. It's also hard to be away from my wife who is my best friend, and my dog because I'm hers.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Tue 17 Apr 07 12:41
Yeah...on the road we come up with many, many Mothers of Invention-esque in-jokes...but the best is probably the running gag (aka sad reality) that every small town (aka strip mall) we stopped in along the coast was called Patterson. They all consist of Starbucks, McDonald's, Subway, etc. and the architecture is nearly identical. You could be in small town New Jersey, Texas, Idaho, Maine, or California and it's all Patterson. So every time we needed to stop for food, gas, urination, etc. someone would say "is there a Patterson around here?" But loves/hates on the road? Hate: The bad food. Not getting to sleep in your own bed (or sometimes any bed at all). The lack of exercise (sitting in one uncomfortable position for hours). Making real connections with people and then having to get back on the road and perhaps never see them again. But hey, sometimes you meet a beautiful country girl who works in a diner in Tacoma and she gives you a great smile and you forget how much you miss home. Or am I quoting a Neil Young song? Love: getting to play music every night and become a better, tighter band. meeting new people and experiencing places you've never been to.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Tue 17 Apr 07 12:51
As an aside, I just learned from Gabriel's post that he's a huge Bob Dylan fan. The only hint of that I'd caught before this was on the recent tour when I quoted a line from "Visions of Johanna" under my breath ("jeez, I can't find my knees") and he recited the next line immediately. Dylan was not only my introduction to songwriting (yes, I have been writing crappy folk songs on guitar since I was about 18) but also my introduction to the Beat generation (I heard that Ginsberg had been Dylan's manager for a time and then I wrote a thesis on Ginsberg in the 11th grade), which was my introduction to <digaman>, who inspired me to move to San Francisco, which eventually led me to The Love X Nowhere. It's all about Dylan in the end, although I rarely listen to the early Dylan anymore. "Time Out of Mind" has virtually been the soundtrack to my life since I first heard it about six years ago. Then again, I got into *Dylan* via David Bowie's "Song For Bob Dylan" when I was 14, but that's a whole 'nother file drawer.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Tue 17 Apr 07 19:22
I'm anxious to learn what was the first thing Brett heard that sounded like what his vision might be.
Gabriel Leis (gummyazul) Wed 18 Apr 07 01:03
sound and vision? looks like you just opened that file drawer...
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 18 Apr 07 08:08
That's great, guys. I figured there must be some Dylan connection to the name "Love X Nowhere." Do you want to talk more about the name a bit? > Jorma Kaukonen was my guitar hero, Embryonic Journey anyone? Indeed. "Water Song," too, and a million others. Still making albums too, God bless 'im, though I haven't picked one up in a while. > After an initial period of guitar basics, I pretty much refused to learn other people's songs, and focused on writing my own. Hmm. I'm not sure what I think about this. It obviously worked out well for you, but quite often young writers will say to me, "I don't read anybody else's poetry/novels. I don't want to be influenced." And that always strikes me as a very bad sign, because then the kid ends up thinking that what he or she is doing is very innovative, when actually it's more derivative than it would be if the kid was conscious of the influence. But maybe it doesn't work that way with songwriters, and you certainly do seem conscious that you have influences. > Sadly San Francisco has no standing rock scene, each band has to create their own. Hence the clubs will only allow you to play about once every 4 to 6 weeks, because realistically that is all the scene will support. I was going to ask you guys about this. Why do you think this is? Is there simply not enough density of regular show-goers (possibly caused by ticker prices, general malaise, etc.) to support a rock scene? How do you think SF compares to other cities in this regard, say, Portland or Eugene or Boulder or....? > So every time we needed to stop for food, gas, urination, etc. someone would say "is there a Patterson around here?" That's hilarious and sad. I've noticed that too when I travel. Even in my lifetime the regional flavor of places like Cape Cod and south Florida has been drastically homogenized into the mall culture. I think about that a lot; how will kids have a special feeling about a place when all the businesses are the same everywhere and the trees are gone? > But hey, sometimes you meet a beautiful country girl who works in a diner in Tacoma and she gives you a great smile and you forget how much you miss home. Or am I quoting a Neil Young song? I think you're quoting hundreds of years of the ballad tradition. Hm, Ginsberg was Dylan's manager for a while? I don't remember that. I'll look into it. > Then again, I got into *Dylan* via David Bowie's "Song For Bob Dylan" when I was 14, but that's a whole 'nother file drawer. And a very interesting file drawer. One of the things I think is interesting about TLXN's music is that I pick up disparate influences in it, though I may be imagining them; for instance, I hear some Pink Floyd in some of the Odyssey songs, and some Miles Davis plus the Dead's "Eyes of the World" in the wonderful epic track "Spill the Ink" on "Into the Fire." I like how you guys seem musically omnivorous -- prog-rock, jazz, Dylan, it all goes into the mix.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 18 Apr 07 08:10
> ticker prices That was some kind of economic Freudian slip. "Ticket" of course!
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 18 Apr 07 08:48
Breaking news... Dean Ween's snack tips: http://www.chocodog.com/chocodog/ween/ween_new/waste.html I love Ween. And that's a whole 'NOTHER file drawer, located under the bong, busted pinatas, and coconut brassieres.
Michael Zentner (mz) Wed 18 Apr 07 09:11
Great topic! Stewart Copeland and Jorma! Hey, these are guys playing TONIGHT at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley! I notice there's an opening act. What time do you guys think you'll be on? (I need to watch the Warrior's game).
Berliner (captward) Wed 18 Apr 07 09:56
To the best of my knowledge Ginsberg never managed Dylan, who's always had someone at *least* as competent as Albert Grossman on his case. As for the eating-while-touring goes, the towns which got missed by the freeways are often a good bet, although you have to build the time to get there and back into the equation. There used to be a series of books called The Interstate Gourmet which dealt with this, arranged by states, because a friend of mine did New Mexico/Arizona. There was a whole panel about this at SXSW a few years back; it's a real problem.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 18 Apr 07 10:01
"Incompetent" isn't quite the disqualifying word -- Ginsberg arguably "managed" Kerouac and Burroughs until they all got famous -- but I can't imagine Ginsberg subsuming his own ego and agenda by the point in his career that Dylan would have needed managing.
Berliner (captward) Wed 18 Apr 07 10:04
By "competent," I meant versed in contract law and confrontation with publishers, record companies, and concert promoters. I can't quite see him doing that.
Gary Lambert (almanac) Wed 18 Apr 07 10:06
Ginsberg tagged along on most of the first Rolling Thunder tour as a sort of freelance eminence grise presence, but I seriously doubt that he had any official business responsibilities. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if Dylan had jokingly introduced Allen to someone as his "manager" and was taken seriously.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 18 Apr 07 10:17
> Ginsberg tagged along on most of the first Rolling Thunder tour as a sort of freelance eminence grise presence Good point. He also contributed a few items to the tour newspaper: ' "Nobody saves America by sniffing cocaine Jiggling yr knees blankeyed in the rain When it snows in yr nose you catch cold in yr brain"
Gabriel Leis (gummyazul) Wed 18 Apr 07 10:21
SWEETWATER TONIGHT!!! TLXN ON AT 10PM It is a real problem, because of course the food you eat affects how you feel and think, how you get along with each other, and how you create and perform. No joke, the highway food can bring a band down. I sincerely hope we reach a point of success where touring can also mean travelling a bit, not just getting from place to place, and hence we can find some off the interstate, unadulteralted america. I know it's out there, but no one would argue there is less and less. I think there are two main factors to why SF is the way it is. The first is the fractured nature of the current music scene, and the fact that SF is a world leader in dance music. I'd say 80% of the people out for music on any given night are going to a dj or dance club, so all bands are vying for a smaller pool of possible listeners. The other is a two edged sword. Every touring band in the world comes through here. If they are only playing 4 dates in the US, SF is one of them. So almost every night you are competing against the best music the United States and world has to offer. I'm a concert going freak, so I love it, but it does have an effect on the local music scene.
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