you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

30 March 2012

Interview: Brandon Capps of Half String.

When The Sun Hits Interviews
Brandon Capps of Half String
Interview by: Amber Crain

How and when was Half String formed?


It was Summer 1991 in Tempe, Arizona. My friend Tim and I had seen Ride and Lush co-headline the Roxy in Los Angeles earlier that year. I was totally blown away by how gorgeously textured music could be played in the same traditional rock format I had always loathed—plus it was even better played fucking loud! For years, I had been making dark/pretty ethereal instrumentals with guitars/drum machine/4-track, and thought it was time to bust out of the bedroom to see what was possible with a band. Tim had just started playing bass; we shared similar musical tastes, mostly in the realm of 4AD, Factory, and Creation. We knew Kimber from shopping at her record store (Stinkweeds) since we were teenagers. Somehow it came up that her Dad was a jazz drummer, so Tim and I got fixated on the idea of getting her to play with us. She finally agreed. We borrowed a drum kit, cleared the living room, and never looked back. A couple years later, Matt joined on second guitar. In 1994, Tim left the band, and Dave Rogers joined.


Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc)?

Captured Tracks took us by surprise this past October, approaching us to do a reissue for their Shoegaze Archives. Though the band split in 1997, this record has inspired us to reunite in June for a mini-West Coast tour. It’ll be capped off in Los Angeles with an all day festival that I’m helping Part Time Punks organize. The focus will be shoegaze + newgaze + synthgaze. It’s the first festival of its kind (at least for Los Angeles), so I’m really excited to be part of it. Everyone in Half String is psyched to hang out and make some noise again—it’s been 15 years since our last show. Captured Tracks has talked about reissuing A Fascination with Heights later this year—there are some great outtakes from that session that need to see the light of day.


Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?

We’re still waiting to receive our official Membership Cards from the International Governing Body of Shoegazers. Seriously, I think it’s only natural for anyone who listens to/collects music to categorize and assess similarities between bands and their sound. Humans want to keep things organized; it creates a common language to communicate with fellow music lovers (or haters). But it drives musicians and bands fucking nuts, because most artists want to be original and blaze their own trail. However, I can appreciate the romantic notion of someone wanting there to be some kind of utopia for bands that make blissed-out ethereal records. I, myself, would get excited when reading about “The Scene That Celebrates Itself” in Melody Maker and NME. If anything, I guess we would identify with “Beautiful Noise”, the regional underground scene in Arizona back then. It was really just a handful groups (Alison’s Halo, lovesliescrushing, Scenic, Lycia, Firecracker, Dogshow, Six String Malfunction, Soul Whirling Somewhere and Half String) who bonded over our frustration with how dismal and repressed the local music scene was in Phoenix. There was no venue or built in audience for what any of us were doing, so we started from scratch and organized our own festivals. It ended up bringing together all sorts of misfits into a new music community, and eventually sparked curiosity from those outside of Arizona.

What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?

Sometimes, it feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket of nostalgia. I dig it—as long as there is a great song or melody at the heart of it. I mean, anyone can cop a sound from the past, but creating a vibe in a song that leaves an impression takes something special. I’ve come to appreciate many new bands and their take on the past. Favorite new-ish bands of late are Pink Playground, Be Forest, Horrid Red, Terry Malts, Toy, Real Estate, Violens, Connan Mockasin, Hoop Dreams, Death and Vanilla, Holograms, and The New Lines.

What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?


Kimber. She isn’t a piece of gear, but she was a crucial element of our sound. She had a really great approach to the drums; strong and steady, but with lots of swing and smart flourishes. As far as guitars and effects, I played a ’91 American Fender Telecaster through a combination of two rack processors (a Roland GP16 and Alesis Quadraverb) and a Marshall JCM900. Matt played an Allan Holdsworth signature Ibanez through a Quadraverb and Fender Twin. He also had an awesome black t-shirt with a howling wolf (he was way ahead of Bret from Flight of The Conchords)—I’m sure it influenced his sound, too. My favorite pedal is a circa-1980 Ibanez analogue delay pedal (AD-80) that Kimber gave me. At one point it was modified so an expression pedal could control the delay time while playing.


What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?


Well, it was the 90’s, so recording technology was totally different compared to now. We recorded most of our rehearsals on a Yamaha MT100 cassette 4-track. Our friend Dan Nelson had a Tascam 488 cassette 8-track that we recorded the Eclipse and Oval singles with. Tripped Up Breathing was recorded in a “proper” L.A. studio to ½” analogue then transferred to an Alesis ADAT and mixed in Phoenix. A Fascination With Heights was recorded to ½” analogue in our living room, then transferred digitally and mixed in a home studio with an early version of ProTools. In the 90’s we would have to save up funds from gigs, or borrow money to pay for studio time or an engineer with gear. I envy bands today, who can record on the cheap with the laptop and some decent mics and preamps.

How do you feel about the state of the music industry today? There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?

I think many painful, but necessary changes have come about in an industry destined to have its playing field leveled. There are usually too many hands involved with putting a record out—many of those involved have no regard for artistry or innovation, and end up tainting the creative process for a band. This isn’t always the case, but more often then not, the label (especially the majors) fuck up a good thing. At least today, the power has transitioned into the hands of the artist and listeners. It’s amazing how many resources there are to get your music out, and means for people to hear it. It’s been inspiring to see a number of independent record stores and indie labels survive and thrive during the transition. I like to think its due to the fact they had integrity and an authentic love for music all along.

When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?


If you have the energy and faculties to put something out and promote it on your own, I think
that’s great. Go for it. And, if it’s truly special, it will find its way to appreciative ears. Though, it makes sense for some bands to partner with a label that is dedicated to supporting their vision and nurturing a career.


Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?


I have always loved the physical experience of listening to records. But, I probably listen to MP3s mostly, for convenience sake. I really like having a song magically pop in my head, then have it only be a swipe of the finger and click away from actually hearing it. I also love the random nature of shuffle on the iTunes library—I’ve incidentally enjoyed so many songs/bands that I probably wouldn’t have chose to listen to for years, if ever again. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Left Banke have experienced an unexpected resurgence recently in my household thanks to Shuffle.

What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?


So many. Zinedine Zidane, Muhammad Ali, Diane Arbus, Haruki Murakami, J.D. Salinger, Ari Neufeld, Robert Smith, Vini Reilly, Robin Gutherie, Ivo Watts-Russell, Bruce Licher, Harold Budd, Phillip Glass, Erik Satie…I could go on for a while.

Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc)?

Whoa. Don’t get me started. My friend Peter makes great analogue collages at www.relicatessen.tumblr.com/

If you had to choose one Half String track that was the ultimate
definition of your sound, which would it be and why?

Hmmm. That’s impossible to answer. Every song speaks for a certain time and mood. I’d hate to orphan all the other songs by choosing just one. Though, the recordings that intrigue me most, are these boom box tapes of our final rehearsals in 1996. We were starting to discover some new territory through improvising these super moody and melodic odysseys. It’s a shame we never got in the studio to capture that material properly.

Can you tell us a little about the your song writing process?


Half String would rehearse 3 afternoons a week, and we spent most of our time improvising to develop ideas for new songs. I would end up singing gibberish for the vocal melodies and work out lyrics after the fact—I was comfortable with this method thanks to hours of singing falsetto along with Liz Fraser when no one was around. Most sessions were documented with 4-track cassette, and there are some interesting recordings of us giving birth to songs like Hue and Brief As Photographs. There are a load of songs that never made it beyond those rehearsal tapes. I recently digitized some favorite moments and will hopefully be making them available soon.

What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?


Listening to Primal Scream’s “Higher Than The Sun” usually helps put things right when life gets out of hand.


29 March 2012

New Release Alert: Drowner Releases LP on Saint Marie Records.

Drowner Releases Debut Self-Titled
Full Length Album

The wait is over! When The Sun Hits faves Drowner have finally released their debut self-titled LP! We are stoked. And yes, yes it is as amazing as we thought it would be. Isn't it awesome when that happens? Check out the links below to learn more and buy the LP.

Release Date: 3.13.2012
Record Label: Saint Marie Records
Drowner Bandcamp
Purchase Here: Saint Marie Records Store




Set List for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio, Aired March 28th, 2012.

band name. track title.
daniel land & the modern painters. eyes wide shut (SPC ECO remix).
SPC ECO. give you nothing.
drowner. never gonna go away (nikki gunz remix).
silver swans. secret.
glass vaults. forget me not.
glowbug. gagging order (radiohead cover).
sleep party people. our falling snow (electric fitness remix).
dead mellotron. nothing i ever imagined.
music for headphones. k.
blue sky black death. swords from driftwood.
jaguar shark. in case of fire.
tearjerker. rare.
dead horse one. undone.

GazeTube Track of the Day: Glass Vaults. Forget Me Not.

Played this track on WTSH last night. Lovely.


Video: Glowbug. Gagging Order (Radiohead Cover).

News: Airiel Officially Announces Release Date for Upcoming EP, Kid Games.


HOLY CRAP, GAZERS, IT'S HAPPENED! Rejoice, and be glad! After like a BAZILLION years, Airiel has revealed the release date of their hotly anticipated upcoming EP, Kid Games.

IT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED
that Airiel's next four song EP, entitled Kid Games,
will be released May 1st , 2012.

Airiel announces the release of Kid Games, a 4-song EP available on Shelflife, available on vonyl and digital download. Pre-orders will receive a coupon for a free digital download for the album. A limited edition cyan vinyl will be available until sold out. Tee digital download for those that pre-order will be available May 1st, 2012.

Airiel will perform with The Telescopes, Lightfoils and Chatham Rise on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012, at Subterranean to celebrate the release of Kid Games. For more information and to purchase tickets, follow this link to Ticket Web.




28 March 2012

Tonight! When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. Hosted by DJ Amber Crain.

Come join me this evening for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. When The Sun Hits is one full hour of distilled shoegazey goodness, so black out the windows, grab your headphones, and go down the rabbit hole tonight on Strangeways Radio.

Don't forget to log in to the Strangeways chatroom during the show to hang out with me and many other awesome people while we talk about the music that is airing in real time and god knows what else...

Tune in live every Wednesday, 10pm-11pm (EST), for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. Join us in the Strangeways chat room for additional entertainment!

26 March 2012

Set List for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio, Aired March 21st, 2012.

band name. track title.
woolfy. looking glass.
magical mistakes. i feel it.
curve. my brain cuckoo remix.
hazy mountains. all gone away.
funeral home. here below.
moonbell. the golden hour.
primal scream. shoot speed/kill light.
phantom caste. atlas.
modern myths. standing in line.
desert stars. boys i like.
sea oleena. island cottage.
nadja. northern lights.

Strangeways Radio Blog: Shoegaze Spotlight - A Weekly Gaze. This Week: Nadja.

When The Sun Hits and Strangeways Radio are uniting on yet another level - activate the weekly Shoegaze Spotlight! Every week WTSH will present a shoegaze/dream pop band on Strangeways' blog, highlighting how very awesome the band is and how you should be listening to them and buying their music and supporting them because they deserve it.


This week's focus is on WTSH faves Nadja. We at WTSH adore Nadja and after reading this, so will you.

21 March 2012

Tonight! When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. Hosted by DJ Amber Crain.

Come join me this evening for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. When The Sun Hits is one full hour of distilled shoegazey goodness, so black out the windows, grab your headphones, and go down the rabbit hole tonight on Strangeways Radio.

Don't forget to log in to the Strangeways chatroom during the show to hang out with me and many other awesome people while we talk about the music that is airing in real time and god knows what else...

Tune in live every Wednesday, 10pm-11pm (EST), for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. Join us in the Strangeways chat room for additional entertainment!

Stream it here: http://www.strangewaysradio.com/

20 March 2012

Set List for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio, Aired March 14th, 2012.


band name/track title
the tie dye laces. dead love letter.
wolfsheim. for you i'm bleeding.
brian eno. slow ice, old moon.
cold cave. pacing around the church at night.
lovesliescrushing. orphan comet tail.
mechanism for people. never reach for the stars.
ulrich schnauss. a strangely isolated place.
beach house. heart of chambers.
wild nothing. cloudbusting.
the naked souls. white rabbit.
marsen jules. once in a moment.

Set List for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio, Aired March 7th, 2012.

band name/track title
the nova saints. indian summer.
elika. stay beside me.
mirror mirror. edge of heaven.
the sunshine factory. down.
adorable. glorious.
the pains of being pure at heart. the body.
ludwyg. scream.
i, noiseferatu. in the city.
spotlight kid. all is real.
slowdive. 40 days.
highspire. i believe.
jesper lundager. i could fall in love again.
dodecahedron. blue.

Strangeways Radio Blog: The Shoegaze Spotlight. Last 2 Weeks' Gaze: deardarkhead & Elika.

As you likely know by now, When The Sun Hits and Strangeways Radio have joined forces once again with their new weekly Shoegaze Spotlight feature. Every week WTSH hand picks and presents a shoegaze/dream pop band on Strangeways' blog, highlighting how very awesome the band is and how you should be listening to them and buying their music and supporting them because they deserve it.


Since I was in Vegas for about a week recently, I have been unable to share the past TWO week's Spotlights, so this post will take you to the two most recent Shoegaze Spotlights on the Strangeways Blog: deardarkhead and Elika. We at WTSH adore both deardarkhead and Elika - after reading this, so will you.

09 March 2012

200,000 Gazes Volume Two is Officially Released! Like, right now. Download it for FREE!


When The Sun Hits Releases Long Awaited
Volume Two
of the 200,000 Gazes Compilation.


IT. HAS. ARRIVED. 200,000 Gazes Volume Two has been officially released! FINALLY! You can download it for FREE on bandcamp by CLICKING HERE.

A few things: firstly, if you thought you'd see your band on Volume One or Volume Two but you don't, never fear. We have an entire album of tracks that will make up Volume 3, the final Volume in what is apparently our 200,000 Gazes Trilogy. THERE IS NO SPECIFIC ORDER TO THE TRACKS, NOR DOES THE VOLUME YOU APPEAR ON HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HOW GOOD YOU ARE. There is no hierarchy. Volume Three comes out Summer 2012 (I'm thinking May) and it is RAD!

Also, let's talk about track 5 on Volume Two. Bloody hell is that a great track. BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHO THE BAND IS, HELP PLEASE! I sifted through all the emails, right clicked all up and down that file looking for a band name - nothing. So if "BlackWoodElsa" is your masterpiece, let us know so we can credit you!

Furthermore, if you see any mistakes - spelling, track title, whatever - let us know! Sometimes these things slip through the cracks.


200,000 Gazes: Volume Two.

1. Sway. Mary Blair Murals.
2. Endian. Fuckin.
3. Dodecahadron. Blue.,m
4. Jesper Lundager. I Could Fall in Love Again...
5. unknown. BlackWoodElsa.
6. Elemental Gaze. God Knows Why This Should be Kept for All Time.
7. The Phantom Light. Echoes of Ghosts.
8. thisquietarmy. Gone to the Unseen (Radio Edit).
9. Starblood. Red Hills Gate.
10. Of Silence and Sound. Alone.
11. Mirror Mirror. Edge of Heaven.
12. Stellarium. Down.
13. I, Noiseferatu. In the City.
14. Ludwyg. Scream.
15. The Underground Youth. Strangle Up My Mind.
16. Brideburger. Victims and Relatives in Japan.
17. Quiet Lights. Ablaze.
18. Starfire Connective Sound. Drive the Breeze.
19. HCMJ. Wanderer.
20. Music for Headphones. K.
21. The Microdance. We Are Made of Evil Things.
22. Transmission. Orange.
23. Depth and Current. Lost.


Download 200,000 Gazes Volume One for free on bandcamp to hear the comp that started it all.


Volume Three: To Be Released Summer 2012!

07 March 2012

News: 200,000 Gazes Volume Two to be Released FRIDAY! And there's more...

Better late than never - 200,000 Gazes Volume Two will be released THIS Friday, March 9th as a free download on bandcamp. There's a reason (okay, there are MANY reasons, but this is one of them) why Volume Two is so late - choosing the tracks was insanely difficult! I can't believe how many genuinely excellent tracks we received from bands out there. There are so many, in fact, that a 200,000 Gazes Volume 3 will be released in Summer 2012! Yes, we're serious. We even already have a fancy cover for it and everything (see below). Look how fancy that is! So be ready this Friday for the long awaited second volume of the 200,000 Gazes compilation to be unleashed upon the world. It's fucking rad, seriously. And look forward to the final volume, Volume Three, this summer. Aw. We released a trilogy. That's cute.

Click HERE to download 200,000 Gazes Volume One for free on bandcamp.

**********

Oh, hi. I'm the cover art for Volume Three. Right below this text. Yep, right there. That's me. Volume Three. I also rhyme. See you this summer, gazers!!

Tonight! When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. Hosted by DJ Amber Crain.

Come join me this evening for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. When The Sun Hits is one full hour of distilled shoegazey goodness, so black out the windows, grab your headphones, and go down the rabbit hole tonight on Strangeways Radio.

Don't forget to log in to the Strangeways chatroom during the show to hang out with me and many other awesome people while we talk about the music that is airing in real time and god knows what else...

Tune in live every Wednesday, 10pm-11pm (EST), for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio. Join us in the Strangeways chat room for additional entertainment!

Stream it here: http://www.strangewaysradio.com/

04 March 2012

Live Photos: Bloody Knives at Notsuoh. Houston, Texas. March 2, 2012.

Bloody Knives live at Notsuoh
March 2nd, 2012. Houston, Texas
photos by: Amber Crain

My camera only has one setting: the shoegaze-on-acid setting. Okay, not really, my camera is actually pretty nice and has at least 25 different settings, but the shoegaze-on-acid setting is the only one I'll actually use. Especially when I'm going to see a live band play. And even more especially when that live band is Bloody Knives. Great performance, as usual, from the Knives. Those guys are fucking awesome. Enjoy the psychedelic pictures!




















Set List for When The Sun Hits on Strangeways Radio, Aired February 29th, 2012.

band name. track title.
the cure. snow in summer.
principe valiente. dance like there's no tomorrow.
between the cities are stars. jimi.
be forest. hanged man.
bloody knives. problem.
keith canisius. where did you go all these years.
the megaphonic thrift. tune your mind (deep cut insanity mix).
assemblage 23. cocoon.
the soft moon. alive.
cranes. lilies (flood mix).
flying saucer attack. she is the daylight.
love spirals downwards. dead language.
ulrich schnauss and mark peters. ekaterina.

Stream When The Sun Hits live on Strangeways Radio every Wednesday night, 10pm EST (9pm CST)!