Hey you awesome people out there, reading this, probably getting stoked for Northside next weekend... We'd love to see you at our showcase, AND we know you'd love to see pow wow!, one of the most fun live shows this side of anywhere. pow wow! is a local five-piece, consisting of Eddie (guitar/vox), Jeff (keys/vox), John-Paul (bass/vox), Amanda (guitar/vox, from Crazy Pills), and Sal (drums, from Quiet Loudly). Between you and me, they are the band I'm looking most forward to seeing. I sat down via Gchat with Eddie the other day. Here's what he had to say:
Hearts Bleed Radio: So how did pow wow! get started?
Eddie: pow wow! got started way back in the fall of 2005 between myself and long time friends from high school Blake Zarsky & Chris Connell. We had been jamming together as several bedroom type bands post high-school and pow wow! was the first project where we actually focused and aimed to released material and play shows. The problem was, we needed a full band to really be able to play out, as our formula of two guitars and a drummer, wasn't exactly working out for our live set. After a few jams, Jeff was invited to join the band to play keys in 2006 when he turned 17, along with our first bass player, Corey Mcnaught who I had met during my short stay at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I forgot to add it was formed in New Jersey (IMPORTANT!)
HBR: Totally important. How do you feel about Maxwell's closing?
Eddie: Maxwell's closing is truly a bummer, especially for us Jersey blooded folks. Before really hanging out in New York, the early 2000's was spent in Hoboken. We saw a bunch of shows at Maxwell's and were lucky enough to even play one back in 2009. They were such a hospitable establishment. I can't think of another venue that fed us an entire meal on the house before we played! Maxwell's has and always will hold a soft spot in my heart. Between the cigarettes we smoked in that front lounge, to all the times I stood in front of their jukebox trying to decide which Replacements song my friends would most enjoy a drunken sing-a-long to... their closing is truly quite a loss for Jersey and the Northeast in general. It will be missed immensely.
HBR: It's silly how we live in NYC, and we know NOT to be sentimental, because things change so constantly... but there are always changes that come as shocks.
|Yup, this is exactly what they look like.|
Eddie: It's true, but it's unavoidable. New Yorkers are just as sentimental as anyone else, especially when it comes to any long standing local haunts...
HBR: Let's talk about "Don't Stop to Look". It's a really strong recording, polished enough, and catchy enough songs, to be accessible to the average fan, but it retains some lo-fi grit that gives it a mountain of character. What was the recording process like?
Eddie: Thanks for the kind words about the record, Stephen. The recording of "Don't Stop to Look" took about a year to finish. It began in July of 2011 at the Buddy Project in Astoria, Queens. We recorded about half of the basic tracks there before moving the operation to Sabella Studios in Roslyn, New York. That's where Public Enemy recorded "It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back" by the way.
Eddie: Basic tracking for the record was simple enough but we really decided to deconstruct the songs in the studio. We didn't adhere to what we had been doing live at all. There are probably at least 20 takes or more of each song that exist...
HBR: That'll be a bonus disc in the box set one day...
Eddie: Haha, maybe. Except we didn't do too many overdubs on those alternate versions. Mixing was the most time consuming for the project. Every time we tried to dedicate a session to mix songs, it turned into another tracking session thanks to new ideas constantly popping into our heads. Sabella Studios was a real playground for us to nerd out in. Their cache of vintage instruments and handbuilt amps and analog recording gear was insane! I believe we had changed hands behind the drums three times during the recording of the project as well. So that also added to the amount of time it took overall. Our resident Multi-instrumentalist, Jeff is a real workhorse and good sport of taking on the role in the absence of a "real" drummer.
HBR: The title track is a really strong single. It probably draws comparisons to The Strokes, especially for the overdriven vocals. I think the first Strokes album was great, but they seemed to be like, too narrow of a band to really have depth past that recording... In pow wow!, I hear a lot more diverse musical background coming through, country-esque beats, canonical indie guitar playing, 70's-80's Elvis Costello-Replacements type song writing... Where does your pop sensibility come from?
Eddie: My youth was spent in New Jersey going to punk shows from a very very young age. I'm not gonna lie, while I'm nostalgic about it to an extent, a lot of it was pretty horrible music. But it always had attitude and great energy, and definitely what inspired me to begin playing music in the first place. That has been one thing that hasn't changed since I first picked up the electric bass back in 1997. I wasn't a cool kid off the bat though, Stephen. I mean cool for 1998 and '99 where I came from meant you were WAY into The Get Up Kids...and we all know what that genre of music gave spawn to. I wasn't fortunate enough to know Pavement or the Velvet Underground when I was 9 y'know? But we had grown up on Michael Jackson, The Beatles and believe it or not, New Order (because my Uncles were all DJ's...so Bizarre Love Triangle was on constant replay). So I guess our pop sensibility was deeply rooted from a very young age. Mind you, I was terrified of the wolf howl that opens Thriller when I was 4 years old. I would run out of the room crying.
HBR: Not all of us are born cool, I understand. But I can see Get Up Kids in pow wow! I mean, that band was good at writing compact lively pop rock, nothing wrong with that. MJ and The Beatles are gonna set a young kid down the pop path though, that's for sure.
Eddie: Haha. I'll try to take that a compliment! Maybe we'll have to cover something off of Four Minute Mile in the near future. I know more than a handful of folks at our shows will probably be like "OH SHIT!" and get excited (although very very quietly).
HBR: Haha, it's not bad music, like, if you could just go back in time and turn down the "sappy suburban teenager" knob on their amps (or whatever), it would be very decent.
Eddie: I literally LOL'ed at that. But yeah, I don't want to just say our music is inspired by any one genre. I always come back to The Velvets, The Stones, Pavement, The Clash, Girl Groups and Motown as my main inspirations. but everyone in the band has their own heroes and flavors that they bring to the table that adds to our "eccentricity" if you will.
|The gang gets down at Glasslands.|
Eddie: I honestly can't remember why it is that I like that word so much. I don't mean to ever use it as a pejorative at all. And it's not meant to imply incest. I don't even have a sister. But in the song "Sister" the lyrics were inspired by a personal relationship with a girl that I had forged a close friendship with and it's about kind of the awkwardness when that type of relationship crosses the line so to speak.
HBR: I do that too, like there are words that always seem to fit the meter, and sound OK texturally...
Eddie: I used to moonlight as a visual artist, and in my art I always used recurring themes and images whether or not I was working on a series. It was part of my visual vocabulary. "Sister" is kind of like that for me with music. There's also a certain Lou Reed-ish or Dylan-esque quality about the word. A coolness in the way the word can be delivered. In a lot of ways, I'm literally using it the same way people use "brother" for men. So, sorry Marta that it wasn't more scandalous!
HBR: We're really lucky to have you guys on the HBR showcase on 6/14. What other shows do you have coming up?
Eddie: We're really happy to be part of the HBR Northside showcase, and again, thank you for being kind enough to invite us on to such a fun bill of talented local acts, most of which we have shared a stage with at one point or another. As far as upcoming shows, we have a couple more lined up for the Summer but one that we're definitely excited for is the Hillstock Festival 2013.
HBR: Where and when is that?
Eddie:That show is Saturday, June 22nd and we play at 5:30PM. It's going to be an all day show and block party starting at 12pm at 106 Emerson Place, Brooklyn, NY
HBR: So before you go, let me ask you this, if pow wow! were famous, and going on a worldwide stadium/arena tour, who would you want to open for you?
Eddie: Oh Jesus. Open for us? or we open for them?
HBR: No, open for you. Haha, cause you don't want to pick a band that's better (more famous) than you.
Eddie: Well undoubtedly, I would probably ask Quiet Loudly (or if I'm allowed to) Crazy Pills (even though I'm in that band). Both bands write awesomely catchy music, that would fit with us on any bill, and are people I would definitely want to take on the road!
HBR: That's smart, cause you double up on paychecks too.
Eddie: Haha, true.
HBR: Like when I played at gutter in two bands and got FOUR drink tickets.
Eddie: I didn't even think about that...
HBR: Lou Barlow actually opened for Sebadoh on a tour.
Eddie: That's awesome, but it's a little different I feel since I'm not the main driving force behind CPs. It's more like Spiral Stairs opening for Pavement than Stephen Malkmus, even though I don't think I'm even Spiral Stairs level in CPs. I'm just the bassist, haha.
HBR: No, I mean, I love Spiral Stairs, but there are a couple of CPs songs where the bass really makes it. "Just a bassist"... I have a feeling that Marta D. from Brooklyn, NY is gonna take issue with that...
Eddie: Hahaha, well she's more than just a bassist. She's also songstress and a hottie.
HBR: Yes she is!
Eddie: And the pipes on that Sister, EH!?
HBR: Haha, OK, interview has drifted, I think it's over. Anything else you want to add?
Eddie: Yeah, I think we've come full circle. Nothing much other than we're working on a follow up to "Don't Stop To Look." No date in sight, but hopefully beginning of 2014. It may be a collection of singles (like our version of Louder than bombs), if we can get our shit together enough.
There you have it, from the man with the plan himself... Here's to hoping they get their shit together enough to make that album. We know it's gonna be incredible.
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