Record Maker, Mountain Climber
Garrett dutton, probably better known as his stage name g. Love, may have professed on his lastest record that he's fixin' to die, but we couldn't have found anything farther from the truth when we caught up with him for a quick chat on monday.
"You just have to live life," says dutton when we asked him about his plans to not only surmount the task of writing yet another successful record, but a mountian –literally– as well.
Though he's wrapped up most of his touring schedule for the year, with one of his final shows being at ford arts, beats & eats this friday, dutton isn't going to be taking it easy until 2013. In fact, he's probably got a more tightly-packed schedule than most artists for the fall.
"In october i'm going into the studio to record my next album," he says. "Since my last record, fixin' to die, was really blues-rock-oriented and my albums before that were with special sauce, i have about five years worth of songs i've written that could go on this record."
But these days dutton says making records isn't as easy as just writing a ton of tunes and picking the best of the bunch.
"People just aren't buying records anymore," he says. "It makes everything, from the artist's perspective, more poignant."
That poignancy, for dutton, is a transition from making an album that's just a mash-up of good songs to something with a bigger picture.
"When i make a record, it's a snapshot of what my life was like the year i was making it. But now, every record has to be a statement. As a songwriter, that gets a little hard," he says.
Though he says he's not sure if this newest venture will include special sauce, he does know that working together with a small creative team has really helped him pin down not only who he is as an artist, but what songs will most convey that to his audience.
"We're really taking time to go through each tune. Because i'm not a new artist, and because people have 20 years of my recordings to compare my new music to, now there's always something to live up to."
And he's right. About both the music industry and fans' constant need for something new as well as a desire to connect with their favorite musical artist.
"This record is going to be all about emotion and capturing that. It's going to be about connecting with the audience. I want people to take this record into their homes and enjoy it there," says dutton.
If he can heighten the experience of his live shows –like that's even possible – along the way, dutton says that's another objective for this record as well.
"I want to record songs that are going to be good live, i want them all to perform really well," he says.
Though creating a new album is a feat on its own, spending a few weeks in the studio will probably feel like cake to dutton, considering the undertaking he's got planned for the last two months of this year.
"Me and brett dennen are climbing mt. Everest in november and december to support the love hope strength foundation," says dutton.
The two artists will be scaling the mountain during the coldest months of the year in order to bring cancer-related medical equipment and staff to countries that can't afford either.
"The great thing about this foundation is that they're helping people right away. The charities that raise money for cancer research, we need those too, but love hope strength is helping people right now, says dutton."
Hoping to raise $250,000, dutton says there's also a good chance he'll also find a ton of inspiration for yet another new album along the way as well. | Rdw
The Hounds Below
The Dog Days... Have Just Begun
You might recognize the lead singer from The Hounds Below. He's done some pretty big things in the past. The front man from The Von Bondies, the singer/songwriter has won awards for his previous outfit's hit single "C'mon C'mon" and has already known national airplay. What you might not know about Jason Stollsteimer is that he's been fronting a different band for the past few years and with a forthcoming album, his new group is finally moving to the forefront of the Detroit rock scene.
The Hounds Below started as a solo project, according to Stollsteimer, but the one-man show didn't last long before he was asking other musicians to join.
"They kind of just fell into place," he says of his fellow band mates inductions into the group. "They were just friends of friends."
Though the line-up went through a few changes during the group's formation, Stollsteimer seems pretty satisfied with the current roster, citing their seamless ability to create music as an indication that the band won't be the rotating cast of musicians it's been in the past.
"I'm the main writer in the band, but a lot of times I'll just write the beginning of a song and they'll immediately start following along," he says.
For those who might already have some cursory knowledge of Stollsteimer and his Hounds, the sound you might have thought they were known for, isn't exactly what you should expect on their new record. In fact, it's almost completely different (save, of course, those Presley-esque vocals Stollsteimer couldn't shake even if he tried.)
According to Stollsteimer, the group's scrapped all of their previous work, and since January, they've written and recorded an entire album (that's due in October) with a much different sound.
"I actually wanted to change the name of the band because if people search us online, they're going to get a different idea of what we are," he says.
It was due to a different mix of personas that he says the sound took a different turn.
"Sometimes it's the people in the band, it's the personalities that make the sound," he says.
Showcased at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats, that sound's set to take center stage. The Hounds are scheduled for an hour-long set that Stollsteimer says will include some new stuff off their forthcoming record as well as some surprises.
"I think we're playing about seven new songs. We change it up every show, so it's not set it stone yet. It's funny because they want us to play for an hour, but the album is only about 30 minutes. There might be a Pixies cover in there too, we really don't know for sure yet," he says.
One thing he does know for sure is that his newest venture is one he's in for the long haul.
"My heart is totally in this. I love this," he says. "It's been pretty exciting, kind of like my first band all over again. There are definitely higher expectations because we've all toured nationally. The rest of the guys don't really want to do basement shows, but I love them. Things get so crazy and everything ends up broken."
It doesn't seem like there will be a ton of small gigs in their future, however, not only with the star power the band is packing, but with the ability to change up their sound on a whim as well. Which leads us to believe they'll not only be entertaining as a group of great musicians, but as those who'll always keep us guessing.
"I'm way to scatter-brained to write the same kind music all the time," says Stollsteimer. "I've written every kind of music."
Sounds like we can expect great things.
Keeping it Killer
"We believe that the most important thing that we do is to entertain. People come to the bar to have a good time and we try to provide the soundtrack to it," says Todd Best, the longtime guitar player for Killer Flamingos. "It's also kind of like the line from without the creeper overtones. 'The people in the bar, they stay the same age.' The majority of the crowd have always been twenty somethings, so you have to keep in mind what they want to dance and party to. So our set lists keep getting updated to reflect the current climate of party music."
If you've never seen the Flamingos, but the name sounds familiar – you're not quite sure where you know that name from, but you feel like you've seen or heard it everywhere – well, that's because you have seen and heard it everywhere. They play so many gigs in so many bars, entertaining such volumes of partygoers every year, that you'd be shocked to know that they're not only one of the most in-demand acts locally, but they've been doing it for well over a decade.
"There are four lead vocalists, each with different strengths and styles, so we can cover many styles," says Best. "We have a dynamic and energetic live show and always deliver a high quality sound/mix. The band is very consistent and rarely has an 'off night'. We often get compliments like, 'I usually hate live bands, but you guys are awesome' or 'You sound better live than the recorded version'."
That's right, one of metro Detroit's most successful and recognizable bands over the past decade is a cover band – and they're fantastic. C'mon, not everyone wants to dance to a bunch of songs they've never heard before. Some folks just want to let loose to the hits. "We subscribe to the 'give people what they want' philosophy," Best says. "The iTunes charts are where we start. We found that if people aren't familiar with a song, they really could care less about a band covering it. It used to be different when we first started, when we could play more obscure songs, B-sides and whatnot. We still do some '80s songs, some alternate rock stuff and songs that we have reworked into our own thing. We also know what kind of songs we sound good doing and which ones we should stay clear of. But you obviously can't please all the people all the time..."
Their last album of original material was released in 2002, and they intend to keep it that way. Most of the band, individually, writes and records their own music, but they have no plans in the foreseeable future to release anything collectively as the Killer Flamingos. And that's just fine by them. If you think it's a cakewalk to add your own twist and reinterpret someone else's music, you're fooling yourself. "We try to add our own influence to the songs we play," says Best. "Most current popular songs are mostly sampled music and drum loops, so having a drummer recreate these sample and loops on a acoustic drum set gives the songs a whole different attitude. Most songs that we cover nowadays don't have guitar parts, so by adding a distorted Les Paul into the mix you get a grittier rock edge."
So, if you haven't ventured out to check out the Flamingos in their trademarked party climate, you'll have your first opportunity to take in their talents in a prime timeslot at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats – Friday night sets aren't easy to come by at this popular festival, and their 9:30 p.m. set is as prime as it gets.
Theory of A Deadman
The Truth Is...
"Cause I'm a lowlife, and I'm loving it. I've got the whole damn world in the palm of my hand. I'm a lowlife, so fucking deal with it. No, you can't change something that you don't understand."
These lyrics might have you wondering what the hell a rock star could possibly consider to be a "lowlife". It's definitely not something that's cut and dry – until you hear the perspective of Theory of a Deadman's lead singer, Tyler Connolly, and his thoughts on the band's latest album, The Truth Is...
"Where I grew up, it was in a certain part of town. There were some pretty comical people there... it's hard to describe. Basically, this song is about being a loser and enjoying it," Connolly explains, laughing. He describes being a lowlife differently than how one would normally interpret the phrase. It's a liberating feeling. It's cool, it's fun and – most importantly – it's when people just don't give a shit. And that, folks, is the true essence of rock n' roll.
"It's like hanging out of a truck in the wind while driving down a freeway, no cares in the world," says Connolly. Although we're still not necessarily seeing how this correlates to being a lowlife, it definitely sounds liberating.
But the rest of the album, The Truth Is..., is called that for a very specific reason – it's the truth, and nothing less. It's raw, raunchy and holds absolutely nothing back. Forget the sugarcoating – this is the real deal.
"This is the most truthful I've ever been on an album. I was blatantly obvious with what I wanted to say," says Connolly. And let loose he did – especially with one of the album's biggest hits.
"Bitch Came Back" chronicles some nasty experiences with a certain ex-girlfriend (as if the inspiration for the fire-fueled lyrics to this song weren't obvious – along with songs on previous albums, such as "Bad Girlfriend" on 2008's Scars & Souvenirs). We'd hate to be the girl who really pissed off Connolly, especially when thousands of fans are singing along to lyrics such as, "She says I must be cheating 'cause I turned off my phone, but that's the only frickin' way she'll leave me alone!"
As a self-described traveler (obviously, considering his band is a pretty big deal), his current goal is to tour in countries such as Japan, Australia and Russia. The band constantly tours in the States, but their goal is to get overseas more. With fans across the ocean that have never heard Theory of a Deadman live, Connolly wants to be able to put on a show for them.
Discussions of their fans and the music industry takes the conversation in yet another turn – particularly when it comes down to the subject of musical inspirations. To say Connolly's list was a little surprising might be an understatement. U2 is one thing, but it's '90s grunge that's the big shocker. Since Theory of a Deadman has such a different sound from that era of music, it's peculiar to ponder how those inspirations played into the band's style. "I lived two-and-a-half hours from Seattle, so I basically grew up on the grunge stuff. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden – those four really inspired me," he says.
Another big inspiration to Connolly is our great home state of Michigan – especially Detroit Rock City. It was one of the first places the band toured, and they were constantly playing Detroit – particularly at Harpo's. It was easy to access, due to its close proximity to the Canadian border (directly across the river). They started touring in 2002, and he describes Michigan fans as "supporters from the beginning."