Monday, September 23, 2013

Royal Forest Interview with Cody Ground

   When I experience a particularly stressful day, one of my favorite things to do is throw myself into an online music wormhole. Clicking from band to band, jumping from genre to genre until a new sound catches my attention. When a productive wormhole experience occurs, not only do I feel less stressed, I look forward to the upcoming days and weeks as I champion around my latest mix tape hero.     
   The guys in Royal Forest have become favorites of mine, with their oddly beautiful soundscapes. The first song I heard of theirs, was "John Denver," a song that I found to be very catchy in a unique way. Mainly because when i was listening to the song, I felt as if I was in a plane that was quickly ascending and my ears were on the verge of popping. To my surprise, I looked up a description of the song and found out that the version I was listening to was recorded in a prop plane. Amazing. These guys not only write beautiful songs, but try to present them in original ways by capturing specific soundscapes.   
   For the latest info on Royal Forest, and to purchase their latest album Spillway,please check out
  Hope you enjoy my short interview with front man, Cody Ground.

Cliche one, could you briefly explain what brought you guys together?

Ground: Erik and I met in Waco and played in some bands together. Then, we met Justin through a "drummer wanted" ad (he showed up with a pedal steel). Justin was recording one of our friend's projects at his studio when we met Blake. 
From talking with other Austin-based bands, I've gathered that it is a fantastic place to develop music. What has your experience been?

G: Austin is a great cityThere are a lot of good bands and venues and a real camaraderie in the music world.  It's also pretty isolated, tour wise, which makes it a challenge to try and get the word out about your music.

How long had you guys been working on "Spillway?" How far do some of the songs date back to?

G: We worked on Spillway off and on for around 2 years. The oldest song on the record is "On the Sun" and the newest song is "Everyone Who Knows You."
How does the writing process normally pan out for your guys?

G: We write songs as a band. It changes depending on the song. Sometimes it starts as a beat, riff, or sound and we build it from there. Then later, we'll deconstruct that piece and try to leave only the essential elements.

Who did you work with, when recording this record? What did they bring to the table?

G: Justin (our guitar player) recorded and engineered everything on the record. Justin is really good at getting the best performances out of the band. He's also able to create unique soundscapes and figure out how everything fits together by stripping deconstructing layers of sound we record.
I would love to hear the stories behind "John Denver" and "Black Hills," if you don't mind.

G: John Denver is written about a guy I grew up with.

Black Hills was inspired by a scene I saw out of my dad's truck window while we were driving on some backwoods roads on a family vacation. 
Who are some guys you have looked up to in terms of live performance?

G: A lot bands put on a great live show - I just saw Yo La Tengo recently and they performed two completely different sets that were great. The Flaming Lips are the best at putting on an unforgettable live show that really engages the crowd. I think we're also inspired by art and trying to figure out a way to make our live shows interesting and original. Recently, we've been doing some live tape looping that involves the audience. 

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?

G: Lately, I've been listening a lot to "Tragic Songs of Life" by The Louvin Brothers. We also have sort of a pre show tour tradition of listening to Jaco Pastorius "Come on, Come Over" ( when we're driving up to the venue.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SISU Interview with Sandy Vu

Today marks the release of "Blood Tears," the debut full-length release from SISU, the brainchild of Sandra Vu(Dum Dum Girls Drummer).
Vu wrote, played, and produced "Blood Tears" with bandmates Ryan Wood (co-producer), Nathanael Keefer (drums), and Lars Stalfors (Chelsea Wolfe, The Soft Pack, The Mars Volta) mixed the album. Julianna Medeiros (Dum Dum Girls) joins SISU live on synth and backup vocals.

For the latest info on SISU, check out their official website :

How long do some of the SISU song's date back?
Vu: I believe the earliest songs date back to a few years, some having been re-worked or remixed from demos from any time in that period. 

How  does the writing process for this project differ from other projects that you have been involved in?

This is pretty much my solo project, but I collaborate with my band mate Ryan Wood on the technical side of things. I call him the band "engineer". We would evolve the songs by passing mixes back and forth, which is different from any other band I've been in, where we would sit in a rehearsal space with seeds of songs that we would then develop together. After having written both ways, I would say I prefer to work on my own, or with one other writing partner. Your ideas don't get compromised by band mates who are maybe not on the same page. Some great collaborations happen that way, but overall it's just very inefficient for me and I don't enjoy it as much. I play a lot of instruments, so it's more effective for me to speak to others about ideas, instead of getting really particular about the parts or instrumentation of a song.

How would you say your new full length, "Blood Tears," builds on you April release "Light Eyes" EP?

On the whole, there is much less reverb, and things are more clear. It's more immediate and direct. It's technically recorded better, with better gear, and mixed by long-time SISU supporter, Lars Stalfors, whose recently worked with Chelsea Wolfe and Matt & Kim. Thematically they are related, but the LP is just harder hitting in my opinion. There is a bit more leaning on minimalism on the LP, and direct song structure.

Is there a song that you are most proud of on "Blood Tears," with how it came together from start to finish?

Blood Tears, the title track was the last song that came together for the record. It's quite basic in format, but it's definitely the most dramatic piece on the record. A lot of the songs came about with not much force or struggle. This song in particular started with the synth sounds. They instantly had a mood and feeling and I built it up from there. 

While listening to the album, I noticed that you seamlessly seem to blend the soft with the loud, creating such an original sound. How do you think you arrived on that type of sound?

I love drama and dynamics. With SISU, I just want people to feel something. To achieve the highs and lows, you have to have extreme contrasts. Since I have this sort of voice, I want to create grandness around it. I've just always been attracted to this dramatic quality, shock, and surprise. I'm just sick of irony and indifference. I'm a quiet person by nature, but when I perform I want to be loud. Maybe SISU is the manifestation of that--the pull between quiet and loud.

What would you like listeners to take away from this  album, after first listen?
Hopefully it leaves you feeling inspired in some way--to move on, to create, to break free. But maybe after first listen, they will just be stuck in your head. 

You have a number of shows coming up, what can people expect when they come to see you live?

We sound quite different live, I think harder. The band on tour right now consists of old friends. I grew up with bassist Dave South and guitarist Tito Echevarria, with whom I played in my first band together. We were 14-16 years old and we played growly, grind core punk. So fast forward to now, we've mellowed out a bit. Drummer Nat Keefer also has a background in hardcore, but we are rounded out by Julianna Medeiros who plays synth and sings lovely backups (also of Dum Dum Girls). 

Normally, you are sitting behind a drum kit when you perform(Dum Dum Girls, The Ravonettes, Boredoms and Dirty Beaches), with this project you are front and center. Has it taken some time to adjust? Do you enjoy it more?

Yes, it's taken some time to adjust. The audience looks very different from the two positions. In SISU I'm thrust forward and forced to look square into the audience. It can be intimidating but it's one of those things that's all purely in your head. Playing a lot I've learned how to deal with it. There are some things you can never control though, which can put you back to square one. They're both enjoyable in different ways, but I've got more at stake in SISU.

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I'm writing more for my next record right now, but I'm always interested in other types of projects, if only I have the time!

Perfect day, driving in your car with the windows down, what are you listening to?
For today, let's go with Original Colors by High Places. It really depends on the day though, doesn't it?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Matt Pond - "Love To Get Used" *Mousertime Exclusive Acoustic Performance*

Shortly before a show at The Masquerade in Atlanta, Matt Pond invites us backstage to perform "Love To Get Used," off of his record The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand .

For the latest on Matt Pond, including tour dates and music, please visit

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good Old War - "Amazing Eyes" *Mousertime Exclusive Acoustic Performance*

These guys have quickly become one of my favorite bands, with their latest release. Enjoy this acoustic rendition of a fan favorite, and let us know what you think!

Shortly before a show at The Vinyl in Atlanta, Good Old War invites us backstage to perform "Amazing Eyes," off of their record Sargent House release Come Back as Rain.

For the latest on Good Old War, including tour dates and music, please visit

Ethos Interview (Part 2)

Forming in 2009, Rome based band Ethos consists of Austen Earp (lead vocals, piano, guitar, synthesizer), Matthew Palopoli (lead guitar), Nick Riggs (bass, vocals), and Tribb Robison (drums, percussion). Their latest release, The Evergreen EP, features stripped-down acoustic versions of songs from their 2012 debut release, Vessels, along with a brand new song, the title track "Evergreen." The EP showcase the band's strong songwriting, breathing new life into some of their best songs and ultimately proving how diverse the band can be. 

For the latest on Ethos, check out 

How did you become involved in this crazy world of music?

Earp: I read an interview recently with Tom Morello of ‘Rage Against the Machine’ and when asked a similar question he said that he didn’t really choose music, music chose him. I know it sounds pretty cliché, but when I read that I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ The four of us share a love for music; listening to it, analyzing it, and creating it. Matt and I began writing music together in 2009, putting a demo together with the hopes of recruiting two more members. After about a year we asked Nick and Tribb to take a listen and they came out to jam. The funny thing is, Matt and I used to joke about how far fetched it was to have them join the band because of how talented they were. We learned we had a lot in common with each other musically, spiritually and personally, and they picked the sound we were going for right up. Not only that, they added something to the music that was missing, and when we began creating brand new music together, something truly incredible started happening. Anyway, I knew at that point that I wouldn’t find another dynamic like the one the four of us had together because Matt and I had spent the last year and a half dreaming about a group in which each member was irreplaceable and essential. I had a lot of faith in the future of this group so I withdrew from the University that I was enrolled at and Matt did too. For me it was all or nothing. If you’ve got a back up plan, you’ll always use it, so for me it was about taking an irreversible step toward the thing I was most passionate about. 

Who are your inspirations and what was the inspiration behind the album?

Earp: I find innovative music really inspirational. Goethe said “we are shaped and fashioned by what we love,” and I think that’s exactly right. I think artists have to be really careful to be inspired by something and not to impersonate it. Personally, I find a lot of inspiration in classical music. Why? Because it’s innovative. It’s timeless. Again, I love anything original, colorful, something that makes me think. I like a lot of rock music that toys with being impressive while maintaining a sense of musical impression. In other words, they don’t take it too far. Everything fits well together without being obnoxious.
The inspiration behind the album itself grew as time went on. We knew that we wanted to write music that had an empathetic relationship with the words, more so than what you would typically hear. We were inspired by this idea that music could create an atmosphere in the listeners’ mind that they can experience vividly. It was really cool too, as the artist, to take part in that experience as well. I listened to the music and wrote the words that it spoke to me. The music itself seemed to draw up personal experiences and emotions within me and that’s what I wrote about. I think that’s really special because it’s also what I hope it does for every other listener. I’m really obsessed, in a way, with creating something that people can get lost in.

Could you tell our readers about the band and what makes you different from other artists? 
Palopoli: Any musician will tell you they’re different from everyone else but have trouble describing why. I think that’s because genres are for listeners; artists just create.
Our sound, like many other bands, is a compilation of the stuff that we all four like to hear in our own stereos, though I think it's safe to say that we all like music that is original and passionate in any sense of the word. Not to sound weird, but we believe that because music is a creation, it comes from the soul--it's a piece of you, which is a piece of something greater, therefore it's special and absolutely has the power to affect another's soul in the same manner it was created. We just want to share who we are and what it’s like to create, and we want it to affect others. In terms of the sound, we have a lot of progressive rock, classical, electronica, hard rock, and metal roots, but we'd like to say our music has a special ‘color’ to it. It's a tight, solid sound, but at the same time it’s earthy and organic.

Tell me about the album?
Riggs: The music itself is a roller coaster ride of extremes, it’s definitely progressive. We created a sound that we thought could change the way people looked at music. The word ethos, after all, means to affect someone through music, so we tried to reflect different moods and ideas that people would identify with. Not that we tried to manufacture something, but it just happened that we were inspired that way. 
The title Vessels coincides thematically with the tone and lyrics of the album. The lyrics sort of revolve around the human condition and the idea that we are hosts for or embody something more powerful than we think. Love, hope, addictions, thoughts, are all powerful things that we become ‘vessels’ for. 

Where was it recorded, who produced it, and how long did the process take?
Riggs: We spent the greater part of 2011-2012 writing and recording this record; about fourteen months. We tracked and mixed it ourselves in our home studio at Austen and Matt’s place, which is a feat that none of us have ever taken on before. It started as a five track EP, and quickly became a nine track LP. We felt compelled to begin recording a full-length only after playing a handful of shows together. It was an idea that was contrary to what most bands do, but we did it that way because we wanted to share something worthwhile and to share passion. We took our time in the studio not only to perfect the parts we were recording (we wrote half of the material in the studio), but to grow closer as a band.

What's in store for the future?
Robison: We can't predict what's in store for us, but for now we’re enjoying the whole journey and looking forward to where it takes us. Writing and playing music is fun for us, so we just want to stay true to ourselves and write music we love. If other people like it, that's even better. We’ve been in the studio for the past month recording an acoustic EP and we’re right in the middle of writing our second full length in the midst of playing some live shows, so we're staying pretty busy. I think each one of us has a few rock n' roll fantasies and big dreams, but most important to us is expression; making music we like and letting that lead us down whatever path we're meant for.