Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Wands - The Dawn (2014) review


The Wands "The Dawn" (Fuzz Club/Get Your Ass To Mars/Smack Face Records, 2014)

Holy crap, The Wands (Interview here) are back at it again!  After their sold-out debut 10”, Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic for Fuzz Club last year I hadn’t been looking forward to a debut full-length like this in a looong time!  While I knew that the 10” was going to be a hard act to follow, I had great faith that the psychedelic juggernauts known simply as The Wands would be more than up to the task.  I was not wrong…  Picking up from the ridiculously tasty fuzzed out sounds that reverberated throughout 2013’s Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic, retro-fitting the San Francisco sound to fit their own twisted desires, melding and combining it with the brooding, heady insanity of BJM and adding their own unique take on the psychedelic landscapes presented on their debut album The Dawn, The Wands offer up one of the most anticipated and also one of the best albums of the year for psych devotees without a doubt!  Don’t be surprised when you start seeing The Dawn popping up on Top Ten lists all over the internet here in a little while, it’s not hype, and it’s not BS, this is just an awesome album.  Opening with the slowly building “Sound Of The Machine”, The Wands quickly recall the sounds of their debut offering, for about the two-minutes.  The last minute or so of “Sound Of The Machine” establishes that The Wands have added a trick or two to their already impressive repertoire of classic psych wizardry and The Dawn is just like a playground for them to experiment with them all and unleash them on an unsuspecting world!  The blistering, snarling dual lead lines that fade into the same keyboard drone that began the song, and runs like an undercurrent beneath it through out, give way to an ingenious refrain that brings “Sound Of The Machine” to a shuddering end that gives way to “And Full Of Colours”.  Starting with a stony riff, carrying on the driving energy of the albums opener, while beginning to expand the pallet of sound, “And Full Of Colours” is simply a great classic psych-rock song.  It builds up to this frenzied, bellowing crescendo for about two-minutes and then just blasts the listener out of their seats with fifteen or twenty seconds of ridiculously sinister and foreboding explosions of guitar feedback and insanely gnarly solos that fade into “Totem Part II”.  “Totem Part II” recalls a lot more of the lysergic, hypnotic droning aesthetic of I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic.  I would even go so far as to say it could have been from the same sessions and left off of the first album, and I mean that as a compliment of the highest regard.  There aren’t a lot of bands that are able to write something a year down the line that can recall the spirit, energy, and in The Wands’ case, the majesty of previous recordings like Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic.  The swirling ethereal energy of “Totem Part II” is almost perfect though.  The guitars jangle and twang, feedback and distortion melting like butter into the soft hum of the bass and flutter of the keys, which peak their head through the smoky haze from time to time, teasing and cavorting with the listener’s ear.  At five minutes long it would be really easy to over-do, or even under-do, a song like “Totem Part II” and get boring, but with such verdant and luscious solos, breaks, peaks, valleys, pitfalls and all out surrealism like this going on, you’re locked in and engaged for the full-duration.  The next track “She’s Electric”, personifies exactly what I’m digging the most about The Dawn from the moment the song gets rolling; howling, distorted, and above all, fuzzy reverb drenched walls of guitar join forces with a keyboard that’s much more forceful and center-stage than in previous recordings.  “She’s Electric” might as well be a reference to the song itself in fact.  It’s a much more straight-up rock and roll song, with not so subtle tinges of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Gion/Hollywood Brian Jonestown Massacre bleeding from every pore.  The best thing about the song, though, is that The Wands are not only able to push their sound in a new direction like this, but they’re also still able to harness the essence of that emphatic, dronish, almost plodding melodiousness they’ve become so well known for.  “Get It Out Of Your System (Don’t You Wanna Feel Alright)” not only evokes their previous album because of the band’s penchant for ridiculously long song-titles, but it has that same kind of finely tuned, refined and tightened San Francisco sound as I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic did.  The keyboards are more upfront this time around, the drums almost glowing – is that flanging on the cymbals I hear?  Good lord that sounds sweet…  The singular lead guitar splits through the even calm of “Get It Out Of Your System (Don’t You Wanna Feel Alright)” and you begin to fade into an unconscious hypnotic state as the music grows stiller and quieter, then builds and bubbles, pulling you from your lethargy into complete attentiveness, only to be back lulled back into submission and berated into consciousness conscious again and again!  The bst lyrics on The Dawn are definitely on “War”.  It actually says, “Let your freak flag fly” “we’re in open war”.  It should be the bands motto and if this is a glimpse into their wisdom they should definitely take their own advice more often!  There’s an unhinged melody to “War” that sounds like it might fall apart at any moment, very intentionally.  It’s a clever way to underscore the uneasy feelings and paranoia that they’re talking about; ingenious almost, actually.  Following “War” the title-track “The Dawn” kicks in like acid, creeping up your spine and seeping into every nook and cranny of your ever expanding mind.  There’s something timeless about Christian Skibdal’s guitar.  It’s that certain kind of indescribable, almost indiscernible genius, which in my opinion, will ensure that people will still be listening to The Wands thirty-years from now, gleaning the kind of knowledge people of my generation have been extracting from Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Jesus and Mary Chain for years now.  They’re part of a musical legacy passed down from generation to generation and it’s nice to hear people still bother to write real lyrics as well.  With lines like “I will show you my greatest illusion, if you tell me your greatest fear, I will take away your confusion, ‘cause I need you to be right here”, the honest brutality and rudimentary beauty of the wording is instantly apparent, and this is from a dude whose first language isn’t even English!  I’m sayin’, timeless.  As the album begins to come to a close, we arrive at “Circles”.  It’s another one of those songs that encompasses everything that The Wands have stood for since day one, but it also brings all those new and interesting ideas and experiences that they’ve been through in the past year to the table as well.  The highs and lows of “Circles” are extreme to say the least.  The Wands don’t leave you anytime to “catch your breath” and from the lyrics, I’d say it’s totally intentional.  Like a roller-coaster ride coming back into the station “Circles” glides into the mellow keyboard drone that opens “Spell My Name” and we join The Wands once again traversing the line between mellow, laid-back psychedelia and blistering, tempestuous, out-and-out rock ‘n’ roll, swaying between dissonant bridges, lumbering riffage and haunting keys.  “The Name Of The Mountain” closes out The Dawn and it does one hell of a job!  I couldn’t think of another song more fitting to close such a vast album.  It has the heaviest, gnarliest riff I’ve yet to hear The Wands conjure forth from their dimension of altered states and realities.  While “The Name Of The Mountain” clocks in at over seven and a half minutes, it’s actually really kind of hard to tell.  Somehow, it doesn’t feel much longer than the three minute tunes on the album, other than the fact that it does have the chance to linger on the solos and lead guitar a little longer, not to mention bring them in and out of the fray a few more times.  Just short of four minutes into the track things really start cooking.  I’ve always wanted to hear Skibdal really get a chance to let loose on the guitars, some major room for him to move around and “The Name Of The Mountain” provides a perfect opportunity for just that.  Now it’s hard to live up to your imagined expectations of something, but the cosmic space droning in the background of the song, stuttering and crashing in and out of reality, teamed with a killer three and a half minute long solo did the trick just fine for me!  When the song finally did fade out I couldn’t help but want another three minutes, ha-ha.  The Dawn isn’t just an incredible debut full-length, it also proves that The Wands aren’t just interested in doing one thing, they’ve been busy locked away like mad-scientists brewing up new ideas and ways to approach things.  I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from The Wands sometime soon, but until then make sure you score a copy of The Dawn now as Fuzz Club stuff never seems to stick around for too long and if you’re into psychedelia you’re not gonna wanna miss out on this platter o’awesome!

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

AS SEEN THROUGH THE SHADES OF QUESTION MARK of ? and the Mysterians

Chapter 3 Sex Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll :
                                                                 Left in Limbo

Wow what a year 1966 was for ? and the Mysterians!   We never even planned to make a record, let alone to be in New York City to record an ALBUM!  AND getting ready the week of January 24, 1967 to record our 2nd album AND three more singles! 

Can you imagine?  We are on the road  we are  doing concerts with every group imaginable – no, actually they are doing concerts with US because ? And the Mysterians HAVE ARRIVED!

AND along the way I told Neil Bogart, the sales manager of Cameo Parkway Records at that time,  about all these groups in Michigan .  He thought we were from Detroit.  I told him no, we are from the Tri-Cities that’s up north : Saginaw, Bay City and Midland and also ones from around the outskirts of Flint and he says “Oh, you mean the BOONDOCKS” 

I said No man,  there's rock 'n' roll groups come here to play like Sam the Sham--you name it,  they all come around here to play    And we had  bands like Bob Seger and the Last Herd, the Rationals, and Terry Knight and the Pack so I gave him all these names  and  Cameo Parkway  picked them all up.  Lots of things were happening with Cameo Parkway because we had their first big #1 million seller since Chubby Checker did “The Twist”


It looked like 1967 was going be very promising for the music scene, Cameo- Parkway and ? and the Mysterians   I mean, if you thought something was happening in the music industry in 1966, just wait til 1967!

The week of Jan 24th    ? and the Mysterians were on our way to NYC.  There was a lot of snow and ice and it was probably going to take us about 14 hours to make the trip instead of 11 but we headed forth with great songs to do for the next record.

So,  we're back in the Big Apple ready to record our 2nd album Its really cool – so we head on up to the  Allegro Recording Studio and I open the door and there's Neil Bogart right there, so I blurt out  “Hey Neil, we're here to record our 2nd album!”  and he turns around,  without a smile—the first time I ever saw him without a smile-- and he looks at me and says “We aren't going to record you guys” and I looked right back at him and said “Oh yes you are. I have a good enough contract and this is what it says”  – I'm bluffing my way through because I had never gotten a copy of my contract.

So I get on the phone and I call our manager, Lilly Gonzalez, but she says she doesn't have the recording contract.  

So we are there—we can either turn around and go another 14 hours back to Michigan  and figure out whats next for ? and the Mysterians,  or just record at the mercy of Neil Bogart and see what he's going to hit us with.

Bogart  took my bluff and we're getting set  to record,  but the first thing he slaps us with is that he is going to pick the A sides for the 45s and our songs would only be used for the B sides.  Now according to what we were told was in my contract, it was all supposed to be our material regardless,  on both sides of the 45s.  Remember, our first album only had ONE non-original on it and that was because Bobby REALLY wanted to do Stormy Monday. 

We were expecting to do another album of our original music,  but because we know we might not record at all if we don't do what Bogart says, so instead of heading home we decide to see what happens. 

He brings in a guy to play a song on the piano that they've decided is going to be our “A” side—a song called “I Can't Get Enough of You Baby” and Neil  tells us he wants us to start it out with the same intro we had used on 96 Tears.  I said “96 Tears??”  Why do you want to do that?  People will think we can't come up with something else and are just riding our million seller!

But like I said we had no choice—we can turn around and do nothing and scout for someone else who MIGHT want to pick us up or we can stay and record.  Then Little Frank and  Eddie decided they didn't want to record  so I told Neil and he said “well we'll just replace them with studio musicians”.  I don't cuss  but I kept repeating this colorful expletive under my breath because Little Frank is just 14 years old and his parents aren't there to act on his behalf.  We're in a bind because he isn't legally able to negotiate this.  So I went back and told them Neil said he'd just replace them and they decided it was better if they recorded than to have something go out that didn't have the whole band on it.

We recorded “Can't Get Enough of You Baby” which they released in March of 1967, but other than a Billboard ad, they did not promote at all.  It still managed to get to #56 on the Billboard top 100.  It was all a blur.....


Then I came back and did Girl (You Captivate Me) which was once again another song they chose for us, with one of our originals on the flip side- they also did not promote it,  but it hit the top 100 (98) before it quickly faded under fire that I sang a “nasty word” in the song.  I promoted it solo.
The final Cameo-Parkway single was“Do Something to Me” .  All three songs received great reviews from Billboard but our own record company wouldn't capitalize on them and push the songs.


So we recorded the singles and were recording the album and things were not happening for us any more –we got ripped off for a bunch of money but we still had an album to finish.  I decided I wanted to do “Shout”  because we were already doing it on the road.  And so I recorded that.

Maybe nothing was happening with us as far as not getting anything and them not promoting us, but I'm still an entertainer and a singer and I’m still a songwriter and we'd been doing Shout on the road and everybody liked it so why not record it?   

That’s what I'm saying-Things weren't working out but if you know who you are and you've got the opportunity to still do an album, why pout?  I'm gonna do shout and I know people are digging it and we may never have the opportunity again to record the song so I'm going to take advantage of it.

And that's how you've got to look at things.  Just cuz somebody is doing you wrong and something isn't working out the way it should be working out, you still have the opportunity to do something you believe in and do what you're doing, include that in- there's no use in pouting and no use in getting mad, just finish the album the best you can and see what happens to it.

But at the time “Do Something to Me” was our last single on Cameo Parkway so I decided I didn't want that in the album, I wanted to make a 45 out of that and that’s what happened   “Do Something to Me” was just a single –a 45 – it was number 1 around our local area radio stations the week of September 9, 1967  and everywhere else we played it was top five-  in Hawaii it was number 1, the album and the single –I did a gig for Richard – Dick Clark- on his Caravan of Stars and the Strawberry Alarm Clock had the #1 song at the time “Incense and Peppermints” and our song was #5 in a lot of places down south and the song was doing very well but we only got up to 110 on Billboard because  Cameo-Parkway didn't do very much to promote us.  It was years before we found out why.

So people who wanted to know what happened to ? And the Mysterians, that's what happened.

Its not that we couldn't record or write good songs any more-- if you had no promotion by a major label you weren't going to go anywhere.  If they just recorded you because you had a contract but they did nothing to promote or distribute the records, without any push every record was going to chart lower and lower.     Remember, I chose the label   I was looking at a brighter future for ? And the Mysterians the bigger future, our writing our performances and being one of the greatest groups ever- which we are- but we just haven't been in the limelight like the other groups but we are still here.  Cameo had a different plan.

Looking back to 1966 when our song was a million seller, Neil Bogart had told us our first royalty installment was coming on April 30, 1967 and each of us would be receiving $50,000 – I mean after all, it was for a #1 hit selling over a million copies.

I made down payments on two Rivieras – one for my dad and one for me.  We were making good money on the road with Mamas and Papas, Beach Boys Sonny and Cher and others like McCoys, Outsiders, Left Banke, the Dick Clark Caravan shows.. We also played on soul shows with Percy Sledge—other bands couldn't bounce back and forth like that between genres.  Our music had a beat to dance to  
Everything was happening the way it should happen then so we all bought things.  Little Frank was 14 so his dad signed for a Cadillac—I think it was a gold one.  Bobby bought a new house for his parents-made a down payment on it.   He told me I should buy one and I told him I was going to wait until the money came in April.  

 In January of 67 after arriving at the studio, we knew Cameo-Parkway was done pushing our recordings but we were still owed for “96 Tears”  so we're going along because we still have money from shows coming in and we thought we still had those checks coming in April 67 and just doing our  things.

So April 30th rolls around and everyone is calling me saying  their checks didn't come in the mail   Mine will come later on  so then the mail came and there was no check   I called Neil Bogart and told him the checks didn't come in the mail.  He bluntly replied  “you guys aren't getting anything—you signed all your rights over to us.” 

We never signed ANYTHING—we didn't even sign a real recording contract.  But apparently our manager, Lilly Gonzalez, did.  She had sold us to Neil  Bogart and we didn't even know it – we didn't find out what had really happened until 1999.

I never even talked back,  no matter how many rejections there were from the beginning back at Mt Holly and Bob Dell at the Big 600 radio station -he said it was “not top 40” and “nothing but trash” and  threw our record in the garbage can.   Later he claimed he discovered us.  But what good would it have done to say something or get nasty, for then we would never get ahead...so when Neil Bogart said we had signed our rights over and we weren't getting anything all I could say was “well, we're done”.  

 I said to myself, when they make a movie, this is what's going to be in it.  “You guys can have have all the money, all the fame, everything that comes with it but there's one thing you guys can never have  --and that’s my ability to write songs, to sing and to entertain.  That belongs to me and money can't buy that.”


Cameo-Parkway released “Do Something To Me” in September of 1967 and it was #7 in our local market but did little on the national charts without the push of the label.   We were with Premier Talent, the next biggest to William Morris—they handled a lot of the 60s band and we were still being booked .     We were still doing concerts and stuff but then word got out  that Cameo Parkway was  was in trouble.  When Cameo was closed, the bookings almost immediately stopped and we were back to playing clubs and teen centers again.

In 1968 Merlin Publishing got  hold of the Cameo-Parkway publishing catalog and that was Alan Klein and they took over the whole Cameo-Parkway roster and then ABKCO owned “96 Tears” and everyone's big hits.  They still do. 

Because of the money situation,  Bobby went and got a regular job to keep the house he'd bought  I don't know if Little Frank's dad kept his car--he had a good job and a nice house in a new subdivision.  Our Riviera's had to go back--the money wasn't there to pay for them any more.  


Were we going to plunge to our death or gracefully float and land on our feet ?

And with that, ?  and the Mysterians were left in limbo.

Please join me at Question Mark's Official ? And the Mysterians Fan Club Page on Facebook.

Article made by Question Mark & Susie Martin/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Courtyard Music Group interview


A few days ago I was talking with my friend about how many recordings still need to be found. Late '60s and especially '70s managed to produce a large number of musicians releasing their LP only as a demo or in a very small run. Most of this LP's were private pressed, which means that band members were financing production on their own (mostly). Out of Scotland came a group of folk musicians, which made an unique piece of art in 1974. Album cover artwork was handmade and also a really small run of pressing was made for their Just our Way of Saying Hello LP, as they titled it in the summer of 1974. Not much more is known, with exception of this artifact being known as an extremely rare collectors item. Band decided to get back together to do a joint project of reissuing their album professionally, but more about that in the following conversation with members of Courtyard Music Group. Lovers of acid/psychedelic folk here's a nice present for you!
Listen while you read: The Magician

In 1974 Courtyard Music Group recorded a one-of-a-kind, handmade LP called “Just our Way of Saying Hello”.
In 2015 the Courtyard Music Group is partnering with PledgeMusic to reissue the LP, and is inviting fans to pledge for a copy of the limited pressing of the vinyl, alongside a remastered digital CD, and a 48 page “making of” booklet comprising extensive liner notes, unique photos and drawings, never previously seen, which recounts the fascinating story of how this "Rarest of the rare of Acid Folk" records was made.


What can you tell us about the beginning of your music path, by that I mean what influenced you as a child to pick up an instrument and start playing.

Frank Swales: Wow! That’s going back a bit…….Actually, I think it was the influence of 3 uncles from my family in Scotland. I seem to remember my uncle Sam being a drummer in a brass band and at some point he gave me some drum sticks to mess about with. I didn’t have a drum to play as we were pretty poor in those days but I do remember knocking out some kind of rhythm on the window sill – much to my mum’s annoyance! Shortly after that I was given a chromatic mouth organ (harmonica) from another uncle and I took to that very quickly, picking up and playing all the old Scottish folk favourites by ear. During this time I was at a school in Glasgow and that was the first time I put my hands on a piano, and I took to that very quickly too. It was the keyboard and the way it was set out that I liked – very basic and easy to understand. I didn’t “learn” anything, as far as I can remember – playing the piano, for me, was always improvised. I just made it up as I went on, teaching myself the difference between notes, making up chords and enjoying the sounds I was coming up with. Shortly after that I changed schools and found myself at Kilquhanity, and I found myself playing the school piano every chance I could get. It was in those early days that one of the kids, Iain Hastie, brought in his accordion and I was amazed at what he could do with it! He gave me a go and before long I was knocking out traditional songs left, right and centre! When my family found out about this, the news “did the rounds” and yet another uncle gave me his accordion as a gift (it was small, a 12-bass, I think – and he was upgrading to a bigger model)! I brought the accordion to school at the beginning of a term and I think it was around that time when one of the teachers, Richard Jones, asked me if I’d like to join a musical group he was putting together. That, I think, was the true beginning of my “musical Apprenticeship”.

Richard Jones: I grew, up in the musical household and went to a school where music was important. In the 1960s I fell in love with a sound of the electric guitar and made my first instrument, which I then went on to learn to play, with much help from the rhythm guitar player in our local pop band. 

How did members of the band get together and what are some profound memories from first gatherings?

Frank Swales: Well, as far as I remember it was Richard who wanted to put a school music group together – initially to jam and then see what transpires from the jams. I think there were already interested parties, or the band/group had already started to form, when Richard asked me if I wanted to join. I remember it being quite exciting to be playing music with other people, but it was also the exclusivity. I felt I belonged to something special – like an exclusive club. And I really felt I was doing what I truly wanted to do, and being allowed, and encouraged, to do it!

Richard Jones: Kilquhanity School brought us all together. I was a teacher there, Of woodwork not music, From 1969 two 1997. I think the very beginning was when the drama teacher asked me to provide some music for a play and I got a couple of other pupils to work on a musical project then. There were many similar gatherings, With more kids involved. Because it was a boarding school there were many hours in evenings and at weekends when we could play together just for the fun of it, But often preparing for a School entertainment performance. It was always a thrill to me when others shared my delight in group music making.

What were you listening to before you started CMG (Courtyard Music Group). What would you say about groups like Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention or were you maybe familiar with less known bands like Comus, Spirogyra and similar?

Frank Swales: In the early days – when we did the first album: “Killy Country” – I was into the standard pop bands of the time – The Beatles, The Monkees, Edison Lighthouse, etc. and anything outside of that bubble was alien to me simply because I never wanted particularly to “stray” from my chosen genre. However, being at Kilquhanity opened up a whole new perspective and I was soon getting into all sorts of different sounds and genres. Certainly, Richard encouraged us to listen to other genres and he introduced me to Steeleye Span, Gryphon, The Albion Country Band and Fairport Convention, amongst others…..And, of course, the musical influences of many of the other pupils, and some staff, rubbed off on me too as time went by.

Richard Jones: After moving to Scotland in 1969 my musical taste changed very much away from the ‘Urban' styles I had grown up with towards a softer more ‘folky' music. James Taylor; Joni Mitchell; Richard Thompson; Sandy Denny; Paul Simon etc.   Ashley Hutchings ( Steeleye Span, Albion Band etc. )  was an enormous influence with his love of both the English folk traditions and Renaissance music.

Were you or any other members in bands before this? Maybe even recording something before CMG?

Frank Swales: No. I’d never played with anyone up to this point.

Richard Jones: When I finished my teacher training in 1967 I did not want to be a teacher! I spent the next two years playing bass guitar. I couldn't call it making a living but it certainly formed part of my income. I did quite a lot of recordings  during those years but as far as I know only one ever saw the light of day - playing bass guitar on a session with ska singer Millie...

How did you decide to name your band 'Countryard Music Group'?

Richard Jones: I blame/credit Frank!

Frank Swales: Richard’s room, where we all practiced and jammed, was in the school’s Courtyard, so it seemed fitting (and somewhat obvious) that we’d call the band the Courtyard Music Group (Shortened to CMG after some of us – including me, probably – thought the shortened version sounded more professional for the time).

When exactly did you came together and where did you rehearse? Were you performing before releasing your album?

Frank Swales: We came together in 1973, I think. After we’d rehearsed – and possibly played in front of the rest of the school – enough material (mostly traditional, I think, with one or two new ideas) we decided to make our own private album which we called “Killy Country”. I don’t think anybody really thought about a second album at that time – I certainly didn’t – but a year later and after a couple of personnel changes later we did end up doing a second, and better, album – this time with a lot more of our own material. We had performed in front of the school a couple of times, and we entered into a local music talent contest (in which we lost!), but there really wasn’t much more performing than that – not that I can remember, anyway.

Richard Jones: Although we had all been playing together, in various combinations,. for several years,, as I remember it it wasn't until the week of the recording and all of us met up and rehearsed. This gave it an element of danger and certainly an element of freshness.

What places did you play and with whom did you share stages?

Richard Jones: I think our life 'on the road' was exciting as anything I ever did previously! Most of our performances were as part of entertainments in The Stable at Kilquhanity. This was a wonderful multipurpose space which served as dance hall, theatre, skateboard park & disco. It would seat to 50 or 60 but that would be quite a squash. A great atmosphere.   We did venture away from school a couple of times I think.  Claire, from the song of the same name, had a younger sister. She had her birthday party in birch woods next to the caravan they lived in. They fixed up the generator for our 240 V supply and we went up and played for them to dance to. Later that year we took part in a talent competition in Kirkcudbright. We came third! Howard, I remember was particularly upset because he thought we were by far the most talented group there. It may be the local group was  elected to win for political reasons!

So let's get more in-depth regarding your album making. If I understand correctly you started working on your LP in 1974 and by the end of the summer the LP was out.

Frank Swales: We'd already done one LP record (Killy Country) which seemed to go down pretty well, so I guess for some of us it was kind of "Hey, maybe we could do another?". I'm not sure that we conciously set about the task of making another record but the success of the first one certainly provided the impetus to at least keep playing music together and the decision to indeed make another seemed just natural.



Richard Jones: Not quite! The recording was done over a couple of weeks in July 1974 and the tapes were edited and spliced by the end of term. As far as I was concerned the whole project had a potential educational value so the kids were involved at every stage not just musicians, but tape editing and sleeve design and production as well. It was not until March 1975 that we had mastered all the printing processes necessary to Screenprint our own cover and liner notes.

What can you tell us about the material featured on the album. Did anyone bring their own songs or was it all collaborative work, where all the songs were specifically made for this album?

Frank Swales: The album wasn't planned in the way that contemporary (signed) artists might plan an album - at least in terms of a concept or a message or anything - so the songs weren't specifically made for the album: it was more a collaborative decision that any song ideas, apart from the traditional songs we were experimenting with at the time, that we were playing with might appear on an album should we wish to make another. Of course, when the decision to actually go ahead and make another album was made, there was, I seem to remember, a bit of a rush to write more. "2074" is an example of this, I think. I do remember feeling that I was writing that particular song for the album that we'd decided to do.


Richard Jones: During the year leading up to the recording, as well as meeting as a group playing together, small ‘subgroups’ would meet up for composing/writing/Improvising together. The material these sessions generated would then be brought to whole  rehearsals and we would work out  an arrangement together. It was more the point that the album was specifically made because we had the material rather than the other way round

Would you suggest, that the album content has concept of its own?

Frank Swales: I think what the album represents, simply, is a bunch of people getting together in an ideal country setting and allowing that vibe to permeate through the music they created. Despite the fact that we're about to do it again, 40 years on, there will never be that special Magic that was captured during that very special time in all our lives. But, who knows?! What I do know is that we are all very excited about reforming for next year's Reunion Gig! But, to put it simply and in a nutshell, I'd say that the album, and the songs on it, had lives of their own, and we were simply the mediums through which the whole thing expressed itself! (Howzat for "Deep"?!).

Richard Jones: It’s just our way of saying Hello

I would appreciate if you can comment all the songs from the LP.

Richard Jones: I think' The Magician’ is probably the signature track, And it's the one I have enjoyed listening to again the most. It has a wonderful musical arc, from the first swirling textures through to a statement of the rhythm with a strong pulse, Then floating into the song. In the middle is an opportunity for free improvisation, never the same on any two performances and this performance has some delightful moments. As if relieved that we got there, there is a positive and confident sound in the final chorus and then to the fade.  It was about playing together, daring to do something a bit different each time but always within the framework.


Is there any unreleased material?

Frank Swales: As far as I know, there is no unreleased material - except perhaps some random out-takes that MAY appear on the re-release (!!).....

Richard Jones: There may be other snippets of things on tape, But everything we recorded for the record is on the record.

What can you tell us about the releasing process. You made cover artwork on your own. Where did you press the album and how many copies were made?

Frank Swales: I think I'll pass you over to Richard Jones, who is FAR more qualified to answer that question!


Richard Jones: Once the tapes were edited and spliced, which I worked on with another pupil who was very keen to be involved with this process, I drove them down on the back of my motor scooter to a studio in Carnforth, Lancashire. I played a bit to the engineer ,  he made a few notes and I went back to school after the holidays to work on the preparation of sleeve. I remember sitting with Howard working out how many copies we think we should make (we had done 60 the previous year for the Killy Country Record and had sold them all) It looked to us as if, at a pinch, We could sell 100 copies so that's what we ordered and those are all there are . Deroy Studios, who pressed record agreed to provide discs, without labels, in  paper inner sleeves and plain card outer sleeves. The printing of these took us through till March 1975, by which time we had orders for all 100 copies. These would be members of the school; parents; friends of the school. It was never advertised to the general public.


CMG Deroy Pressing Invoice 1098 - 16 August 1974

Was there some kind of distribution when the album came out or did you sell those albums only at shows or how?

Frank Swales: It was a totally private endeavour. Copies went to parents, family, kids, staff and a few other friends.


What happened after the album was released? When did you disbanded?

Frank Swales: I left the school at the end of 1974. The album was "officially" realeased, I think, in 1975.

Richard Jones: I think some of us met again the following year for a reunion. Those who remained at the school as pupils, of course carried on music-making.

Were you part of anything else later on?

Frank Swales: I went on to do lots of weird and not-so-wonderful things, but I didn't make a re-entry into music until the mid 1980s when I joined a few bands. I was first a keyboard player for a funk-rock band for a while, during which time I had also lent my keyboarding skills to a heavier rock band. This led to me having to make a choice between the bands as neither of 'em liked the idea that I was in two bands at the same time! I then joined a folk-rock outfit called "Malcolm's Interview" (later to be known as "God's Little Monkeys") which I really enjoyed. What had initially attracted me to them was that their music at the time was very similar to Fairport Convention and other similar bands. Unfortunately, when I joined they seemed to be going through a musical transition and were sounding more and more like "The Smiths". I lasted about a year or so with them, during which time we did a few recording sessions and released a vinyl EP (or 12 -nch single). After that I started to get into my own thing musically and I guess that's where I've been ever since. It's been a long time since I played live or with another band and frankly the prospect of re-forming with CMG and playing the "old songs" again scares the crap out of me!

Richard Jones: Six years after making the record Howard and I met up again, and formed a band, The Oliver Sudden Band. who had a lively year.In 1985 I formed another group, not with school pupils this time, to perform 16th century music all instruments it would have originally been heard on. Viols recorders crumhorns shawms and sackbuts etc. This was as a direct result of Ashley Hutchings influence. My group,The Galloway Consort, still performs throughout Scotland.  I didn't, however totally sever myself from electric music! A couple of years ago I worked with a flautist, and guitarist, with whom I had worked in the 1960s, writing and performing music to accompany poetry events.

You are still active as musicians and you started very interesting project of reissuing your album. We found your approach of carefully restoring every bit of your music very thrilling. I would suggest if you can explain our readers what exactly are you doing.

Frank Swales: Not sure exactly how it came about, but it was suggested that we do a re-issue of the album as there seemed at the time to be great interest in the original LP - a copy having sold on ebay or amazon for over a thousand pounds! Steve Bateman contacted me and said it mighnt be a good idea to do the re-issue and things went from there. I wanted (and had wanted for quite some time) to do some kind of re-vamp/cleaning job on the album, and perhaps "Stereoise" it and just stick it on youtube, but things got a little more serious about an "Official" relaunch and I find myself putting together a tidied-up, digitised version for CD. In order to do that I had to collect the 40 year old master tapes from Scotland and get them "Baked" and cleaned so they could be used again. I took them to a company in Bristol who told me that the tapes certainly needed cleaning (over a 5 day period in a special room) but that they had been looked after so well that they didn't need "baking". It was after that, I think, that the decision to do a VINYL re-release as well as a CD was made. A vinyl release, that is, with all analogue gear used. I'm a bit ropey on the details here as everything seemed to be happening very fast! Best check with Richard or Steve to make sure I'm accurate.

Richard Jones:   I think all of us have been amazed that our 1974 venture has such an international following. At the moment Frank is working meticulously on doing the kind of editing job that would've been so easy if we had had a multitrack studio at our disposal in 1974. I wonder if we would have had as much fun Recording it if it'd been so easy to get sound. Long live Thomas Edison!

(SERENISSIMA  New recording by the Rose Consort of Viols using instruments made by Richard Jones  http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Delphian/DCD34149)


© CMG (artwork, facsimiles and scans)

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rog & Pip - Our Revolution ('70s/2014) review


Rog & Pip "Our Revolution" (Rise Above Records, 2014)

At one time both Rog and Pip played guitar in Coventry-based 60s beat troupe The Sorrows - Pip Whitcher in the original line-up and Roger Lomas joining the later post- 'Take A Heart' version of the group that toured heavily in Europe during 1966-67 before temporarily shifting their home-base to Italy where they became a firm live attraction, and issued a few sought-after heavy guitar sides. France's Eva label would issue a "Sorrows In Italy" LP of that material during the mid-80s.
The tracks under consideration here, however, were all taped a few years later, mostly at George Martin's Air Studios in London throughout the early-to-mid 70s. Somewhat incredulously, seven of the twelve supercharged selections on offer have remained unreleased until now!
Some of the best, such as the thumpingly brilliant heavy rocker ‘War Lord’, were released as singles in Britain, Germany and also elsewhere issued under the guise of Renegade, the Zips, and also one or two as by Rog & Pip. Nigel Lomas, the brother of Rog, also current and long-term drummer with the Sorrows, sits in for most of the action too. Although not included here, it's also worth pointing out that the Lomas brothers were also heavily involved with The Eggy, the group which was responsible for the mighty fine psych-glam primer 'You're Still Mine' cut as an A side for the Spark label in '69.
"Our Revolution" though is a downright revelation, thrillingly wild and magnificent in almost every way. 'From A Window', 'A Little Rock'n'Roll', 'My Revolution' and the incessant thundering crunch of opener 'Why Won't You Do What I Want' constitute some of the most serious glam-a-rama action you’re likely to hear anytime soon and all hosting a plethora of bounteous riffs and infectiously stomping choruses. Due to their creators' impeccable tongue and groove musical carpentry too these have also been expertly shaped and lovingly molded into a series of blazing pop diamonds. You could just imagine them on Top of the Pops back in '73 or so blasting out with the likes of 'Doin' Alright Tonight'. Lomas has just finished recording a brand new killer version of this amazing cut by the new-look Sorrows, still with Don Fardon at the helm, which Rise Above have also just put out as the group's first single in decades!


"Our Revolution" also reveals extraordinary perspective and depth, especially during such as 'Gold' and 'It's A Lonely World', two of the most incredibly striking tracks you're likely to hear anytime soon, and significantly different from anything else on the album; more psychedelic in nature, that will doubtless leave you wanting to experience them again and again!
They may not have been given the due attention and high praise they rightly deserved first time out but, this time around, mark my words, this blisteringly cool outta time and outta sight collection will go down as a seriously high watermark in vintage rock'n'roll excavation!

Review made by Lenny Helsing/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Me Jane interview with Katie Gallegos, Marites Velazquez, Kyla Denham, and Sarah Braunstein


Me Jane are climbing their way out of the bustling Chicago scene to take their place among some of the most unique and interesting bands going on right now.  Their unique take on the post-punk sound is literally like a breath of fresh air!  Me Jane are at once extremely forceful, drawing from a primal energy that propels their music, and yet, they’re also perfectly restrained at the same time.  They don’t resort to blistering freak-outs of noise or walls of distortion.  Instead, they’ve created a tightly woven web of intricate vocal patterns and melodies, harmonies that float like spectral ghosts behind the sound of the instruments themselves, passing through the instrumentation and melody like spirits through walls.  If it weren’t for the digitally released d3mo, it would be almost impossible to image them without the limitless sounds of a synthesizer beneath them.  Sarah Braunstein’s subdued drums intermingle and flirt with Marites Velazquez ridiculously infectious bass, while Kyla Denham is brewing a stew of imperceptible synthesized electronic noise just beneath the surface that ripples and bubbles to the surface erupting in noise from time to time.  But it’s all led by Katie Gallegos’ perfectly sparse and jangling guitar, dosed and drenched in reverberation.  I constantly find myself tapping my toe and bobbing my head while listening to Me Jane’s debut album ISON, there’s something about the album that I just can’t shake, and I don’t really wanna, to be honest…  It’s nice to have something to put on that isn’t easy listening but won’t blow my speakers apart either, and there’s a million other reasons why you should be listening to ISON as well, but the vocals are probably reason enough to me though.  It’s been a long time since I heard something where I could just tell from the instant it started the band had spent as long working on the absolutely ridiculously vocal melodies, harmonies and back-up/background singing as they had on the meticulous instrumentation.  Not only does that fact drip from every pore of the album, but it really serves to accentuate the vocals as the “lead instrument” in the band, something you don’t hear a lot outside of the acoustic and singer/songwriter arenas.  Beautiful and haunting, infectious and intricate, carefree and absolutely enthralling, Me Jane have offered up an unbelievable debut album in the form of their ISON 12” and I’m really excited to be able to share their story with our lucky readers here.  There’s a link below to some music, make sure to stream it while you read so you don’t miss out and don’t worry – you can thank me later…
Listen while you read:  http://mejane.bandcamp.com/

© Jeremy Farmer

Now what’s the lineup in Me Jane at this point?  I’ve done some reading and it seems like the core of the band’s really built around a friendship between several of you all.  Have there been any changes in the lineup since you all formed or is this the one and only lineup?

Katie:  The current lineup is Sarah Braunstein (drums), Kyla Denham (synth), Katie Gallegos (guitar) and Marites Velazquez (bass).  Kyla joined the band roughly a year and a half ago.  We all met each other through mutual friends and the band started organically.

Are any of you in any other bands at this point, or do you have any side projects going on?

Katie:  For each of us this is currently our only project.

Marites:  This is my main project right now, but I sometimes write and record solo stuff on my own.

Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  I love playing musical connect the dots, but finding time can be a bit difficult, especially when I can get answers directly from the source!

Marites:  I’ve been in bands since high school, so there are probably lots of random recordings out there.  Nothing signed, mostly released locally/independently.  The most notable would be Love Pentagon’s Bang! EP from 2007, I played synth, Action Cat’s 7-inch The Glasgow Sailor in 2008 where I played piano on one song and drums on the other, Tremulants’ Bink! from 2010, I played bass...  Ha, weird, just noticed that name coincidence with Bang!  I’m sure you can still find some of this stuff on MySpace.  Good tunes.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Katie:  I’m thirty and originally from Michigan, but moved around a lot growing up.  I’ve been in the Midwest the longest, however.

Sarah:  I’m twenty nine, soon to be thirty, don’t remind me.  Also from Michigan, metro Detroit; Farmington Hills, to be exact.

Kyla:  I’m twenty nine, for fourteen more days eeek!  I’m from Joplin, Missouri.  Country girl.

Marites:  I’m also twenty nine, soon to be thirty.  Born and raised in Las Vegas.  Total city girl.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows or get very involved in that scene?  Do you feel like it’s played a large or important role in forming your musical tastes or shaping the way you perform at this point?

Katie:  I was in Ann Arbor for high school and college, but wasn’t very immersed in the local music scene.  I don’t recall it being particularly thriving, at least from what I remember.  Apart from the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, most of the shows I saw were in Detroit; the Magic Stick, St. Andrew’s Hall, Masonic Temple, etcetera.  I mostly saw bigger touring bands, Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo, Luna, Interpol, etcetera.

Sarah:  My high school band played some local spots, mostly school events, fundraisers, and some venues that did all-ages shows.  Our friends were in a couple of bands, so we all supported each other.  Outside of local acts, my friends and I went to shows all over southeastern Michigan once we were able to drive.  We were huge fans of some Detroit acts like The Paybacks, Dirtbombs, and Hentchmen so we’d seek out all of their shows at all ages venues - shout out to the no-longer-with-us Tower Records in Birmingham!

Marites:  The local music scene in Las Vegas when I was in high school and college had a huge impact on me.  I was super involved, because I was in a band and there wasn’t much else to do, but it was the time of my life.  It was pretty tight knit when we were younger because, as you can imagine, Vegas does not cater to the under-21 crowd, with virtually no all-ages music venues existing for more than a year at a time; unless you got lucky enough to play a huge venue like the House of Blues.  At that time, the Huntridge, this awesome historic local theater, had just closed and the period of those notorious desert shows had passed; as in, people would take generators out into the middle of the desert and throw these huge shows with hundreds of people.  We had to band together to forge our own DIY music scene.  We played in smoothie shops, parking lots, bowling alleys, and cafes.  Inevitably we played more bars when we got older, but they definitely weren’t built to be music venues to begin with.  I met a lot of my best friends that I’m still close with today at the time through the music scene.  And there were soooo many good local bands.  I think Vegas gets underrated because of the city’s image in the public mind and the Killers became so huge, plus they played up that glitz and glam image of what people think Vegas is.  But there was so much more local music there that had a lot of depth and a lot of talent; still is.  The problem is, the city exists in its own bubble and eventually you get sick of each other, break up and move on.  So, by the time you hear about a band, they’ve probably already broken up and started three other ones.

Kyla:  Well, since I grew up in a small town, the music scene was pretty nonexistent.  Lots of Christian and country bands since it was the ‘buckle’ of the Bible Belt.  I was only allowed to go to shows at my church…  So I guess you could say I was a late bloomer as far as show-going goes.  When I went away to college I dove in head first and became very involved in the music scene in Springfield, Missouri.  There was a weekly event called Black Box Revue that I went to every weekend.  It showcased dancier synth heavy bands.  We really worked hard to build up the scene in that town.  And because we got so many people to come out to the shows, we were able to eventually attract some great bands to the event.  Because I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to see good bands on a regular basis growing up I’m constantly blown away by the amount of good bands coming through Chicago.  I could really see a band I like almost every night; crazy.

What about your home when you were a child?  Was there a lot of music around?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested or involved in music?

Katie:  The music I heard via my siblings definitely influenced my musical tastes.  I’m the youngest of five and there’s over a twelve year age gap between me and the oldest, so I heard a lot of stuff from the late 70s and 80s growing up, mostly new wave and post-punk stuff; Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Cure.  I acquired a lot of these bands’ cassette tapes in middle school after my older siblings had left the house.  My oldest brother, Shawn, played in bands and they’d practice in the bonus room at the end of our house.  I think seeing him play and practice around the house inspired me, in part, to pick up the guitar in the fifth grade. 

Sarah:  My parents made me take piano lessons starting at a very young age.  At the time, I felt like I was being forced to play the piano, but I’m so grateful for that experience and wish I had invested more energy into it.  They also made my sisters and I each pick up an instrument in elementary school.  The sisters went with woodwinds so obviously I chose the drums!  I stuck with it through high school and did the whole shebang: drumline and marching band, percussion ensemble, orchestra, steel drum band.  Neither of my parents have played instruments since I’ve been alive, but they both did it in school and found it valuable enough to force it on their kids!  

Marites:  My mom and grandmother played the piano, but that was it.  My family emigrated from the Philippines in the 70s, but they weren’t huge on American rock ‘n roll.  Whenever they had the radio on, it was whatever the easy listening channel was, and of course as a kid I thought that was so boring and completely turned off to artists like Bing Crobsy, [Frank] Sinatra, [Luther] Vandross, and Barbara.  I had to find rock music on my own, mostly through friends and eventually the Internet.  I came into playing music on my own, too.  It was something I was always interested in.  Whenever my parents brought an instrument into the house for my brother or I, I would just take it into my room and tinker with it for hours.  At least my family was supportive of my interest in playing music since my mom took piano lessons as a kid.  I joined the school orchestra and eventually started taking piano and violin lessons, bought my first bass, and then I took off from there.

Kyla:  There were only two records in my house growing up: The Beatles Help! and the soundtrack to Xanadu.  I used to listen to them over and over again.  I knew every word of every song.  It really started off my love for music.  My mother played violin and piano, my sister played flute.  Sometimes we would all play together; awful renditions of Little Mermaid songs.

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Katie:  If we’re talking cassettes, CDs, etcetera, then technically my first real exposure was Erasure’s POP! - 20 Hits on cassette tape.  My sister gave it to me as a present in the forth grade.  I memorized all the lyrics and would sing the songs to myself during recess.  “I Love to Hate You” was a favorite.  To this day if I hear Erasure it sends me into a frenzy of singing and dancing.  My first real exposure concert-wise was Moby at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, when I was in the sixth grade.  It’s not the safest place for a twelve-year old but my mom dropped my brother, Danny, who’s just a year older, and I off for the concert and picked us up after.  We were definitively the freshest faces there.

Marites:  There would be a record or a tape here or there around the house when I was a kid, where I’d find a song and play it over and over again because I liked dancing to it.  I remember doing that to Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” and the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited”.  But my first favorite artist was Paula Abdul.  No joke.  I had this Barbie Dance Club VHS (which ifyou can manage to find on YouTube today, do it, because it’s still amazing) and the guest star was Paul Abdul teaching the kids how to do this dance she made up.  I was a fan of hers for a long time.  I had all of her albums on cassette!  Everyone else had Janet or Madonna, I had Paula.  And then I turned ten and started watching MTV or something; went through this weird ska-punk phase.

Kyla:  The Xanadu soundtrack is my first memory of music.  Good ole ELO.

Sarah:  Oldies 104.3 WOMC.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music or was that just sort of an outgrowth of being given an outlet to create something and expires yourself?

Katie:  As far as Me Jane goes, we decided to play for friends at a house show in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood after noodling for about seven or eight months.  It was a birthday show for Sarah and me, whose birthdays are a day apart.  Beyond celebrating, we wanted to test the waters and see how our music went over in front of a crowd.  I think we had reached the point where we figured that if we were going to keep practicing on a semi-regular basis like this, we might as well share our music with a public.  Also, the more we played out the better we sounded as a band.  Since then, we’ve played more and more shows, in part to promote and move our debut album available on vinyl.  However, being that we all have demanding careers and travel periodically, it makes playing out challenging and exhausting to pull off sometimes, especially during a work week.

Marites:  I totally remember this moment: I was fourteen.  I had just gotten into writing poetry.  I was a weird, angsty teen that wrote in notebooks all the time.  Then, I started thinking it would be fun to try singing the words I was writing and put a melody to them.  I also remember walking through my middle school around the end of the year and these boys in a band were playing in the middle of campus.  They were terrible.  I thought, “I could do that way better”.  One day I told my dad I wanted to be in a band, but he discouraged it because he thought bands “do drugs all the time”.  I didn’t care and I didn’t think that was necessarily true.  Then, I went to a performing arts high school to play violin.  After school one day, my friend who was in orchestra came up to me and asked if I knew how to play bass.  She wanted to put a band together to submit a song to some random songwriting contest in a magazine.  I knew this was my chance to play in a band, even though I had never touched a bass guitar in my life.  So, I lied and said that I did.  We played in a band together for the next six or seven years after that.

If you were to pick a moment, a moment that seemed to change everything for you and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities that music can present, what would it be?

Marites:  I think of music as an inherent part of who I am and it always has been.  There wasn’t a singular moment.  I just knew from early on that was I always going to play music.

Sarah:  Ditto, what she said.

Kyla:  When I played my Grandparents’ Casio; it had so many different sounds, so many different beats.  It opened up so many more possibilities than what I had on the piano.  As a kid, I was just blown away by it.  I found out I could record on the Casio and then layer another part live.  I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Katie:  My first instrument was an Ibanez electric in fifth grade, which my older brother graciously shipped up to me from Atlanta.  Once my parents saw I was serious and committed to learning guitar, they bought me my first Spanish classical a year later.  After learning some rock riffs on electric, I switched to classical, because, I both loved the sound and wanted to be technically proficient.  I was exposed to a fair amount of Spanish classical and Flamenco guitar growing up via my parents and found it inspiring.  Guitar-wise, classical is really my background more than rock, jazz, blues, or any other genre.  I love the feel of a classical; the wide neck, the nylon strings, the woody smell of it.  Me Jane is my first musical collaboration of any sort, which didn’t start for me until my late twenties.  Prior to that, music making was a solitary pursuit for me.  Picking up the electric later in life, developing a guitar style and learning how to play and write with others was kind of a hurtle at first, but with time, I found my groove.

Kyla:  My first instrument was violin.  I hated it and would cry every time I had to play it!  I was like six years old.  I begged my mother to stop making me play the violin.  It was torture.  Then I tried flute and finally settled on piano, which I loved.  Most of my childhood was spent playing on cheapo Casios and Yamahas.  I still love cheasy synth sounds.

Sarah:  Piano.  My mom made the executive decision to bring a baby grand Kawai into the house.  I started lessons when I was around seven.

Marites:  My first instrument was an electric keyboard my parents got for me for Christmas one year.  It was awesome because it had a CD player in it.  I learned to play because they bought a bunch of music books that came with CD accompaniments.  So, I sat in my room and learned all these songs with a huge sounding orchestra playing with me.

How and when did the members of Me Jane originally meet?  I read something about a chance meeting at a park or something like that?

Marites:  Ha-ha.  Yes, a park.  I was holding a sign that said "band mates wanted" in Humboldt Park one day and then Sarah, Katie and Kyla happened to walk by…  Actually I was introduced to Sarah and Katie by mutual friends at two different parties at Palmer Square Park.

Katie:  Ha-ha!  And I met Kyla at a neighbor’s barbecue, invited her to jam with us and the rest is history.

Kyla:  I was covered in barbecue sauce.

What led to the formation of Me Jane and when would that have been?

Marites:  When I moved to Chicago in 2010, one of the things I did right away was look for musicians to jam with.

Sarah:  I also moved to town in October 2010.  I think I met Katie and Marites, or K1 and M, which is how they are referred to in shorthand, in November of 2010.  We probably started to get together a month or two later, but it was with a fourth person, we’ll refer to her as “A”, who did vocals and messed around on her vocoder.  “A” wanted to slow-jam a Ke$ha song.  We practiced briefly in her basement and then she got kicked out of her house by her roommates.  So, we went to grab all of our stuff, and her house was completely unlocked and no one was home.  It was a very strange time for all of us.  After that, we started playing as a three-piece.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Sarah:  Work hard and pour yourself a drink!  Does that work?

Marites:  We can’t say that because Katie works with young’ins.  We’d have to say, “Work hard and pour yourself some water!”

Tell me a little bit about the name.  Me Jane instantly lodged itself in my brain, and I feel like it may be a play on the famous Tarzan quote, but I don’t like to make assumptions when it comes to that kind of thing as I tend to read into them a bit, ha-ha!  What does Me Jane mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?  Were there any close seconds that you can remember at this point?

Sarah:  We had been playing around with names for awhile.  I came up with LUNCH and that seemed to have some staying power.  “Everyone loves lunch!” and we just liked the crunchy sound of it.  But now that everything is search-able, we were able to see that there was a past band named Lunch, so we didn’t feel right naming ourselves that.  I came up with Me Jane in the middle of 2012.  I have no idea where it came from and it doesn’t really mean anything, but it definitely references or conjures up some images.  Obviously, there’s the Tarzan thing, and I think that gives the name its hook.  It’s a little bit cheeky and I guess it alludes to the fact that we’re all women without being too cheesy or obvious.  It’s also a PJ Harvey song, which gets a lot of points in my book.  Most importantly, it wasn’t taken yet.

Marites:  The list of names we brainstormed before Me Jane is hilarious.  Power Lunch?  Carpet?  Who thought of Carpet?!?

Sarah:  I love Power Lunch.  I already have a name in mind for another project, but I can’t tell anyone about it.  It’s so good, it’d definitely get stolen.

Where’s the band located at this point?  How would you describe the local music scene there?

Katie:  We’re a Chicago-based band.  The music scene is huge and there’s lots to choose from genre-wise; countless acts and plenty of live music at venues throughout the city.  On any night you can usually see a talented band or musician perform.

Kyla:  So many great bands here! It is hard to keep up!

Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene where you’re at?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything like that?

Katie:  We book our own shows and join lineups when other bands invite us to play their bills.  We’ve never had a company do booking for us.  It’s easy enough booking on our own.  We all frequent shows in the city to varying degrees.  Some of my favorite venues to see bands are Empty Bottle, Hideout and the Metro.

Marites:  Compared to Vegas, the music scene in Chicago is a beast.  It’s so huge.  I love it, though.  I try to catch local bands when I can.  I recently started working with CHIRP Radio in order to be more involved in the local scene, so hopefully that’ll open up my network.

Sarah:  We’re working on building up our roster of band friends.  In an ideal world, we’d go bowling with every band we meet or play a show with.  We want to go on more “band dates.”

Kyla:  We’re also wanting to branch out and go to some more DIY shows.  Recently, we played a show at a local record shop with about twelve other local bands.  We definitely want to become more involved in the local community.


Has the local scene played an integral role in the sound, history, or formation of Me Jane, or do you feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound basically like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?

Katie:  I think our sound is pretty independent of us being in Chicago.  It’s more of our own influences and musical backgrounds that shape our sound, as well as how we gel when we come together.  Plus, I can’t think of any Chicago band that sounds quite like us.

You all have a really sweet sound that’s a sort of amalgamation of different stuff.  I’m curious who would you cite as some of your major musical influences?

Katie:  We don’t necessarily sound like these bands and don’t try to consciously emulate them, but bands that have been really influential for me are The Wipers, Wire, Joy Division, Guided by Voices, and of late, Pylon and The Stranglers; mostly post-punk, guitar-driven stuff.

Marites:  We get some references to Gang of Four.  The funny thing is, I had never listened to them in my life until a few months ago.  I listened to Entertainment! for the first time in my life and it blew my mind.  I ran into practice one day raving, “You guyyyyys, you have to listen to this!” and they were like, “Yeah, we already know.”  I like a lot of bands that were probably influenced by Gang of Four.  I think what I listen to a lot of at any point changes and evolves throughout my life.  When Me Jane first formed was probably around the same time I became obsessed with Electrelane’s No Shouts, No Calls.

What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Katie:  Not sure what our whole group influences are, like specific bands.  Thoughts?

Marites:  We each have strong individual influences, but I think the majority of us can say we like the band Electrelane.

Kyla:  Yes!  Electrelane is one band we can all agree on!

Sarah:  I actually don’t know if Katie cares about Electrelane. 

Katie:  Yeah, I don’t really listen to them. 

Sarah:  I actually can’t think of a band, past or present, that all four of us would be super excited to see as a group.  We all respect each other’s tastes, and there’s usually some overlap across two or three of us, but we’re not into the same stuff.

How would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before in your own words?  Whenever I have to describe how a band sounds I feel like I’m putting way too many of my own thoughts and perceptions into there!

Marites:  Guitar, bass, drums, synth.  Loud.  Fun.  Nuanced.

Katie:  Unique and compelling.  Often driving and edgy, but we also have some more subdued numbers.

Can you tell us a little bit about what the songwriting process is like for Me Jane?  Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff, or maybe a more finished idea for a song, to share with the rest of you and work out as a group?  Or, do you all just get together and kick ideas back and forth until you hit on something that you’re interested in working on and refining together as a band?

Katie:  I do a lot of songwriting and revising when practicing or noodling at home.  I usually come to the band with an idea, often verses and some lyrics, and if it's sounding good, we'll work with it and the song takes shape.  Everyone writes their own parts and we come up with a lot of vocal harmonies together.  Some of the songs take longer to finish, particularly the more nuanced ones, like “Silencer”.  I have a tendency to "hang upside down," as the band says, and rewrite things.  “Evasive”, for example, I revised again and again.  I'm prone to taking a revisionist approach to composition, maybe because of my classical background, but I’m secretly envious of those that are adept at improvisation and whipping up compelling stuff.  I think there's value to going back to the drawing board and perfecting songs, because in the end ideally you have a stronger song.  At the same time though, I recognize that some of the easiest songs to write are some of our most catchy and crowd-pleasing ones, like “Warm Body”.  “Warm Body” we spontaneously came up with one day at practice.  Within a couple practices we nailed the song and it was a done deal.  

Marites:  Katie brings the most complete ideas to the band, so a lot of our songs have been very guitar driven, which explains why our music has that sound.  In general, most of our songs start with a riff someone brings to the group and we build from there.  I think what makes playing in Me Jane really fun is that everyone has a really good ear for arrangement.  We do a good job of giving each other feedback and coming up with ideas for what direction a song could go or what parts could fit where.  Sometimes, we can be perfectionists with the parts we play.  While writing, we tend to play a section of a song over and over until we feel satisfied with what we’ve come up with.

Katie:  Yeah, sometimes we’ll drill vocal harmonies till we’ve found the right blend.  Poor Kyla sits there and bears it.  We’ve got to get that girl a mic. 

What about recording?  Do you all like to take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle the technical aspects of things mostly on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else, or do you all like to head into a studio and let someone else handle that side of things so that you can just concentrate on the music and getting the best possible performances out of yourselves?

Katie:  Because we lack the gear, time, money, and technical know-how when it comes to recording, we’ve only ever had someone handle it for us in the studio.  We focus on giving our best performance and having fun with the process.  We’re also present at the mixing sessions to give input and ensure the end product is an accurate reflection of our sound.  We don’t like it to sound too doctored up.  We want it to reflect how we sound live, in our natural state.

Marites:  Although, it would be cool to learn how to do that on our own.  If I ever get enough money, I’d be into buying some basic gear so we can at least do some tracking on our own, maybe as part of the songwriting process to better hear how things are coming together.

Katie:  Yeah, no doubt we would grow immensely if we were to self-record.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into meticulously working out every aspect of a song’s arrangement and composition before you record?  Or, do you approach recording with a good skeletal idea of what something’s going to sound like, while allowing for some change and evolution where needed during the recording process?

Katie:  Overall, we work on the meticulous side.  While we may tweak small things in the studio after hearing everything more clearly, we know what we want to accomplish and work out the kinks before going in.  Every day counts when you’re paying for studio time so you want to go in prepared and maximize the number of songs you can record.

Kyla:  Working in the studio definitely helped some songs evolve.  It was fun to experiment in the studio and see what worked and what didn’t.

Do hallucinogenic or psychoactive drugs play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Me Jane?  I think a lot of people seem to take this question wrong, and take it as some sort of persona affront or accusation.  People have been tapping into the altered mind states that drugs produce for the means of creating art for thousands of years and I’m simply always curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and consume.

Katie:  No, it doesn’t influence our songwriting.

I know that back in 2012 you all recorded a three song demo which is still available on your Bandcamp page, d3mo.  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first material?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it and what kind of equipment was used?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all, or more of a nerve wracking and difficult proposition at the time?  Was that ever physically released or was that a digital only thing?  If it was released at all, can you tell us about who put that out and what it was released on?

Sarah:  We recorded that in the summer of 2012 with Jamie Carter at Carter Co Recording.  I don’t know the exact equipment, but it was a pretty simple setup.  We tracked all of the music at once in a single room, followed by vocals.  It was definitely a fun and exciting experience for us.  We were still a three-piece, pre-Kyla so no synths are on that demo.  We had been working and re-working the three songs on d3mo for so long that I think we just wanted to have something we could start sharing.  We knew we’d have to have some music to send venues in order to start booking shows, as well.  d3mo was a digital-only release, we just threw it up on Bandcamp when we were done.


Earlier this year (2014), you followed up the d3mo demo with your first full-length album ISON.    If I understand correctly you all self-released the album through crowdsourcing?  Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about and the recording of that album?  Who recorded it and when would that have been?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?  Now there’s a one song overlap between d3mo and ISON, the song “Ghost”.  Are those the same recording or mix of that song?

Sarah:  Actually, all three songs from d3mo are on ISON as well.  “Ghost” is the one that remained mostly unchanged from when we recorded d3mo to when we recorded ISON.  We’d reworked both “Back Row Watching” and “Evasive” pretty significantly by the time we recorded ISON and of course we added synth to all of the songs when Kyla joined.  We recorded ISON at the end of 2013/early 2014, so about one and a half years after d3mo, and the mixing and mastering of the album was finished in the spring.  We recorded at MINBAL studios in Chicago with Benjamin Balcom.  Benjamin did all of the recording and engineering, along with the mixing.  He was an amazing partner to work with and really helped us fine tune some things while we were in the studio.  It’s pretty crazy to go from only ever hearing your music when you’re actively playing it at practice, to sitting in the booth and listening to a crystal clear version played back at you.  We’d never really heard our songs before, even though we’d played them each hundreds of times!  I don’t know the first thing about equipment, but we took some photos of MINBAL you can see here.  The console table that Benjamin works on is massive and beautiful.  Once he mixed each song, he put each of the songs on tape which I think adds some warmth and helped us achieve more of the sound we were going for.  As for the crowdsourcing; we basically decided that if we’re going to release an album, we might as well do it on vinyl.  I mean, who doesn’t want a record with your own music on it?!?  It’s also more exciting than going the digital-only route.  And people buy records.  Since self-releasing your music on vinyl is expensive if you’re not on a label, we decided to ask the people who support Me Jane to help us put the record out.  The Kickstarter functioned mostly as a way to pre-order the album, plus some other fun prizes, like a potluck dinner party catered by Me Jane.  We funded the actual recording and mixing ourselves, and the Kickstarter covered mastering for vinyl and the actual vinyl pressing and printing the sleeves.  Overall, crowdsourcing helped us accomplish something we would’ve never been able to do on our own.


Does Me Jane have any music that we haven’t talked about, maybe a single, song on a compilation or another demo that I don’t know about?

Katie:  Nope!  We’re still writing stuff and once we have another ten or so new songs, hopefully, we can record again.

With the release of ISON earlier this year (2014), are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for Me Jane at this point?

Katie:  I think it will be at least another year or more before a new release.  Our jobs keep us so busy, making it hard to continuously crank out new material.  Financing the release is also key, since we’re self-releasing we need to make sure we have resources in place.

Now, where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?  What about our international and overseas readers to score some Me Jane music?

Katie:  The vinyl, along with other essentials like Me Jane tees, bottle openers, koozies and stickers, can be purchased on our website at mejaneyoulisten.com.  Digital download’s are available on our Bandcamp page.  The vinyl is also available at select record shops in Chicago, Permanent Records, Bric-a-Brac, Logan Hardware, etcetera, and we’re also on Spotify.

And where would the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from Me Jane, like upcoming shows, tours and album releases at?

Katie:  All updates are posted at facebook.com/mejanemusic and mejaneyoulisten.com.

Marites:  We also have a really fun Instagram account (mejaneband).  We often go to shows, so we take a lot of concert photos of other bands we like.

Are there any major plans or goals that Me Jane is looking to accomplish in the last of 2014 or in 2015?

Kyla:  Overall, just to become more involved in the Chicago music scene; there’s so much going on here and so many great bands.

Sarah:  Sell more records!

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes right now?

Katie:  We did our first tour last summer through the Midwest for eight days.  We haven’t planned any upcoming extended tour, but we’d like to play some cities nearby for the occasional weekend show.  We’re thinking Madison, Milwaukee, Bloomington, Champaign, etcetera.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  Do you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on tour for Me Jane?

Katie:  Our first and only tour thus far was last summer.  We played eight shows in eight nights, touring Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Champaign, Bloomington, St. Louis, Nashville, Louisville, and ending in Chicago.  We rented a fifteen passenger Econo-line van through Bandago, all black with tinted windows and best of all, a video game console.  Pretty sweet, though none of us are gamers.  We did, however, use the console to watch quality films like Josie and the Pussycats; lots of funny stories along the way. 

Kyla:  We saw lots of nice roadside attractions: The World’s Largest Rocking Chair, The World’s Largest Golf Tee.  Time well spent.

Katie:  It should be noted that the World’s Largest Rocking Chair is only ten-percent complete at best.  Only the two curved bands at the base of the chair are there. No frame, no seat, such a trap; but a worthwhile trap.  We took a hilarious photo of us all riding the rocker.

Do you remember what the first song that Me Jane ever played live was?  When and where would that have been at?

Katie:  Was it “Evasive”?  Yeah, that was probably it.  That was the first song we ever wrote.  We played it before a crowd of friends at a house party in Logan Square.

Marites:  Our first show was also a joint birthday house party for Katie and Sarah.  Their birthdays are one day apart at the end of January.  Now their birthdays are an anniversary of sorts for our band’s first show.  Last year was when we did a double golden birthday party show and had rainbow cake!

Katie:  And we all dressed in gold!

Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with so far?

Katie:  My tops would have to be with Strange Relations in Minneapolis and with Bing Bong in Madison.  Also, our “Double Golden Birthday Show” when Sarah turned twenty nine on January 29th and I turned thirty on January 30th was a blast.  We played with Pamphleteers and Innkeepers, both solid bands.  Flesh Panthers (Interview here) are also a ton of fun.

Sarah:  Strange Relations from Minneapolis, and Ribbonhead, and Impulsive Hearts from Chicago.  We also recently played Cassette Store Day at Bric-A-Brac and I was wow-ed by Negative Scanner; such a cool band.

Kyla:  Flesh Panthers (Interview here): Our wonderful practice space neighbors.

Marites:  Ditto to all of the above.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Marites:  Sleater-Kinney.  Not so far fetched since they’re touring next spring!  I’ve been tweeting hints at Carrie Brownstein since they announced their new album.  Carrie: call us any time, girl.

Sarah:  Sleater-Kinney, Spiritualized, Courtney Barnett, or Cate Le Bon.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Marites:  Nothing too crazy during the shows, but oh boy, do we have some tales from crazy adventures after the shows...


Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, album covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re attempting to convey or get across with the visual aspects of the band?

Sarah:  The main rule of thumb is that we all have to approve the designs.  We spent a lot of time working with Timothy Breen on our logo design and album artwork.  We basically started at zero, with no idea of what kind of look we were going for, but once we saw some of his ideas we were able to give feedback and start to move toward a shared vision.  The flyers and things like that happen faster.  It’s more about reappropriating images or artwork and making something quickly that’s eye-catching.  Visually, I don’t think we have a strong point of view yet, we just go with stuff that we like.

Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to the visual side of things for the band?

Sarah:  Timothy Breen did the artwork for ISON along with our logo, which is the best lookin’ logo around.  Ian Dingman is a friend of the band and he did our t-shirt design along with some of our flyers.

Katie:  For visuals on stage, we joke that Marites is our pop-up salon, though really it’s no joke.  On tour she gave us all fabulous, wild bouffant hair and dramatic, smoky eyes.  I try to do that stuff myself and I look like a rabid raccoon.  It’s just not the same.  I don’t have that magic touch.


With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why artist choose and prefer the mediums of release that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?

Marites:  Our goal is to reach as many people as possible and cater to whatever medium they prefer.  Most people today are online or on their smart phones, so it makes sense to make sure everything is at least released digitally to reach more people.  It’s cool how platforms like Spotify or iTunes have made music more accessible to people and we’ve gotten album orders from people as far away as Sweden!  Having some sort of physical product, like vinyl, cassettes or CDs, is a must because people still enjoy listening to music that way, or they just like the novelty of having it.  Personally, I like to listen to music on my mobile device and buy vinyl records at shows to support the band.

I grew up around my dad’s collection of music and I was always allowed to listen to anything that I wanted to, but it was him taking me around to the local shops when I was a kid and picking up random stuff that really left a lasting impact on me.  I developed this whole ritual for listening to the music, I would rush home, snag a set of headphones, read the liner notes over and over, stare at the cover artwork and just let the whole thing transport me off on this trip!  Having something physical to hold in my hands, something concretely connected to the music, always makes for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Sarah:  Personally, I’m a sucker for packaging and holding a physical product.  Recent major record acquisitions are the new Sleater Kinney and Breeders box sets.  We play a lot of records at home on the weekends, but during the week, most of what I listen to is streamed (bad quality, I know) or stored on one of my devices.  But I only listen with nice Shure earbuds.  Life’s too short for shitty headphones.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us just a little bit about that?

Sarah:  Yeah, it’s boxes and boxes full of Me Jane’s ISON!  Just kidding.  My music collection’s mainly gigs and gigs of digital files.  My boyfriend and I have a growing collection of vinyl, I think we’re up to six of those Ikea cube-shelves worth of records.  It’s an eclectic mix of old and new stuff.  We recently picked up a couple of albums from Numero Group that we’re enjoying, i.e. Downriver Revival.


Marites:  I still have a billion CDs from my college years.  There was a local record store that my friends worked at I went to almost every day.  Lots of indie rock, punk, and new wave.  I need to digitalize them all and put the files somewhere because my closet is a snow globe of CDs.  I also have a pretty large vinyl collection that I started in college as well.

Like it or not, digital music is here in a big way at this point.  I really think it depends on how you look at, and how you take things, as there are ups and downs to everything.  On one hand, people are being exposed to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by.  It’s also allowed for an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fans which has in turn basically eliminated geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands even just a few years ago.  On the other hand, it is definitely harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there with everyone being given a somewhat equal voice and while I don’ think independent artists were ever getting “rich” off of selling their music, illegal piracy has torn out the bottom end for a lot of sections of the industry.  I mean, while people are being exposed to all this crazy new music, they’re not necessarily very interested in paying for it right now.  As I said, I don’t think that there’s any black and white answer here, but as an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Marites:  Hear, hear.  I think I addressed this question earlier.  If you want to be heard, you have to go where people are at.  We’re a little band from Chicago where it’s already hard to get noticed because of the huge talent pool here.  I think digital music gives us more opportunities.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can, but with all the crazy cool stuff out there right now it’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Marites:  Divino Nino, She Speaks In Tongues, and NE-HI released excellent albums this past year you should check out.  They’re all from Chicago.  Our friends Strange Relations in Minneapolis shared with us their upcoming album they just recorded, but haven’t released yet, and it’s so good.  Definitely look out for them.

What about nationally and internationally?

Marites:  I’m going to throw a Vegas band out here; Kid Meets Cougar.  It’s been a couple of years since their last record, and they still play on and off, but I think only locally.  They’re good friends of mine but two of the most talented musicians I know.  Look up their two releases and then look up any other band they’ve been a part of.  I think all their music projects basically make up a good portion of the retrospective of Las Vegas local music in the last ten years.

Katie:  Not a current band, they’ve long since dissolved, but I discovered this awesome new-wave sounding band from Madrid called Ataque de Caspa (Dandruff Attack) that released one album back in the 80s which, oddly enough, can be found on Spotify.  La Pesca and Nigeria are my favorites.  Really worth checking out if you like new wave, post-punk stuff. 

Thank you all so much for taking the time to talk to me so in-depth about the band, it was awesome getting to learn so much about you all and get a glimpse into Me Jane’s creative process here!  As you were so generous and kind with your time, while I don’t have any more questions for you at this point, I’d like to open the floor to you for a moment.  Is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you may just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about at this point?

Marites:  Support local music.  There’s a lot of talent in your own backyard.  Also, don’t call the cops on house shows.  They’re good kids trying to make art.

© Jeremy Farmer

DISCOGRAPHY
(2012)  Me Jane – d3mo – Digital – Self-Released
(2014)  Me Jane – ISON – Digital, 12” – Self-Released, pressed at Gotta Groove Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015