Welcome back to JamBase's baker's dozen to the bright lights of the music world. Last time we heard from Cody Dickinson of Hill Country Revue.
Modernity is a mercurial thing to capture in music. While almost any band wants to be relevant, capturing the zeitgeist of an age is easier said than done. Better still is when a band is able to encapsulate the surface tensions of an age and then lay them over more timeless musculature. San Francisco's The New Up do just this, building a new monster with parts borrowed from Radiohead, Interpol, Patti Smith Group, Metric, Bauhaus, the artier end of Duran Duran and other forward arching predecessors. But unlike many contemporaries, The New Up sheds the all-too-common black clad gloominess, excavating something shinier, a chunk of dark earth flecked with light – the musical equivalent of Jung's Modern Man In Search of a Soul. While far from "sunshine and lollipops," The New Up is both boldly honest and guardedly hopeful, a sound that holds out a sliver of faith for humanity despite the overwhelming evidence of our dumbness, smallness and intractable self-interest.
| The New Up by Dave Vann|
Gold (released September 28) is their startlingly appealing new full-length and the happy fruition of a sound that's been evolving over the past few years, glimpsed in drabs on a series of fine EPs and even more so on live stages, where the band further differentiates itself from many other young acts by absolutely killing it in concert time & again. Rarely has spelunking the modern psyche been more seductive than Gold, which shimmies through emotional minefields, arms outstretched to anyone brave enough to love with the full force inside them. That notion – no half measures – is central to The New Up, who always seems to be reaching just a bit further in all regards. Gold - akin to antecedents like Faith No More's Angel Dust, Tricky's Maxinquaye and Cold War Kids' Loyalty To Loyalty - asks that we look around and assess how we are with one another today. It's an uncomfortable question but their clarity and rough-edged determination to find big truths and real comfort makes the inquiry well worth one's time, particularly when the guitars echo with metallic depth and the groove lubricates one's limbs delightfully. It also doesn't hurt that they've got one of the finest lead singers in modern rock and a sonic curiosity that seems positively endless. (Dennis Cook)
The New Up performs at a special concert next Wednesday, December 1st, at San Francisco's The Independent. The Silver Ball features some of the most smoking hot talent in the Bay Area right now, with the Up being joined by Bernadette, Crackerjack Highway and M80 Mailbox (Sean Leahy, Tea Leaf's Josh Clark and ALO's Dave Brogan). Get out your finest silver finery and pick up tickets here.
Here's what ES Pitcher (lead vocals, guitar) and Noah Reid (lead guitar, vocals) had to say our inquiries.
| The New Up by Josh Miller|
Nicknames: Emily (ha), Emmers Man, Lady Emmers, the band calls me Chef A.D.D. (I burn stuff) and Narco (short for narcoleptic).
Instrument(s) of choice: The first instrument ever - the voice - then guitar. Would love to play bass but singing and playing bass does not come easy for me. I've read interviews with Sting and Kim Deal and they don't see what the big whoop is. Have you heard Meshell Ndegeocello? I just found out that she is a bass player. I think you're more or less born with that combination.
Nicknames: Loofa Chops, Big Spoon
Instrument(s) of choice: Guitar
1. Great music rarely happens without…
Noah: A great melody. Even a great hook can get on your nerves if you hear it too often, but a great melody will inspire time and time again. Think "All I Need" from Radiohead's In Rainbows versus The Knack's "My Sharona."
Emily: Feeling. Whether it is despair, joy, or anger, it has to come from the heart in order to really touch others.
Space. The music needs to breathe the way we do. When you become more conscious of your breath it truly helps to bring you to the present moment-music is at it's best when it's present in the moment. The beauty can often be found in the space between the notes.
Listening to each other (if you aren't a solo artist). When performing as a group or ensemble, it's imperative to connect and listen to each other in order to reach and connect with the audience.
2. The first album I bought was…
Noah: I never had enough money to buy music when I was growing up, so I always got it second hand, which makes it kinda hard to remember the first album I actually bought, but I think it was Off the Wall by Michael Jackson.
Emily: The Doors' 13. I bought it for my sister for Christmas but then I just listened to it all the time (that was part of my strategy). I think I was in 3rd grade. I have four older sisters and the one closest to me in age is five years older, so I was fortunate to be exposed to music that I still listen to today. I would listen to their albums (even though it pissed them off). They all had such great collections and being a crappy kid in grade school without any money, this came in pretty handy.
3. The last song or album to really flip my wig was…
Noah: Broken Bells, but my wig is flipped so often that this changes day to day. Others that have recently flipped my skirt up are The Gorillaz new album, Crystal Skulls newest album (new to me), the newest Phoenix album and My Dick by Mickey Avalon.
Emily: "Strangers" by The Kinks. I had to choose "song" because I have recently fallen in love with this amazing piece of work. When I read the lyrics online while listening to it for the umpteenth time, my eyes filled with tears. What a beautiful song in every way.
4. When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
Noah: An astronomer. I kind of still have that deep inside me somewhere, but there's too much math involved.
Emily: A dancer, a Broadway musical star, a person that helped the homeless. I really liked the speech teacher in kindergarten that came into our classroom every few weeks. At the time, two guys that worked for my parent's phone business taught piano and drumming in the back of the store. I clearly remember in kindergarten saying that I wanted to be a speech teacher AND a drummer.
5. My favorite sort of gig is…
Noah: A party, no question. There's a much looser vibe and people are there because they want to have a good time first and listen to music second. There's something sort of boring about playing a regular show where you stand there and watch the band. I want people to be incessantly partying while we're performing as much as possible. I guess it makes me feel more of a kinship with the crowd. Festivals are great cause that's basically what they are - one big party.
Emily: The one that is an "event" where the line between the audience and performers are blurred. I feel it transcends into more of a magical night when the audience feels just as much a part of it all, just as much of a contributor to the energy and creative spirit of the show.
6. One thing I wish people knew about me is…
Noah: I don't fit into any category and I probably never will. I'm part artist, part business person, part freak, part workaholic and a wild range of other things.
Emily: That I live for a sense of humor and cannot stand pretentiousness, especially in any creative vein…I work really, really hard…I believe you can be successful in the music industry without being an asshole-in fact you can be an exceptional, giving person and an artist…I put a lot of energy toward collaboration between artists - there could always be more of that…Nature and the universe blow me away.
7. I love the sound of…
| The New Up by Dave Vann|
Noah: The ocean or a river flowing. There's something soothing about that. I like the sounds of millions of bugs in the middle of nowhere, too. It reminds you of how much is going on out there that is not related to what you're doing, and it brings a nostalgia for the sense of freedom and expansiveness associated with places that usually have that sound. I'm pretty fond of the sound of a can of beer or soda opening as well. It sounds so refreshing.
Emily: A babbling brook and ocean waves, really any form of water in motion. It feels as though my eardrums are getting a massage.
8. One day I hope to make an album as fantastic as…
Noah: Yoshimi by The Flaming Lips. I'm not even really the biggest Lips fan, but there's a futuristic quality to that album that adds to the fact that it's just a great album from cover to cover, and I'd love to make something that has all the right hooks and melodies but also sounds ahead of its time.
Emily: OK Computer by Radiohead, Abbey Road by The Beatles, Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, Mutations by Beck, Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder.
9. The best meal I ever had on tour was at…
Noah: There's this restaurant in the heart of San Diego State University, I forget what it was called, but it was right at University and 30th (I think) and they had the most amazing vegetarian food. They used some kind of mushroom as a meat substitute and it was unbelievably good. They had a million vegetarian choices on the menu, they stayed open until 4 am and the service had tons of character and our server was truly one of a kind.
Emily: The park in Bend, Oregon. It was a perfectly crisp fall day and we were next to this river with a palette of changing leaves all around us. We cooked in the park and had this amazing meal with chard, sautéed onions and peppers, white beans and tofu. It was so fresh and warm at the same time, which is hard to get on the road. We try to cook as much as possible - it just feels better.
10. I always find the coolest audiences in…
Noah: The Midwest. People are mad about music there. I think it's because they're landlocked or just that it's so cold, or maybe that they all drink too much, but they love their live music there.
Emily: San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, and Knoxville.
11. The worst habit I've picked up being on the road all the time is…
Noah: Smoking. It's horrible, but smoking and being on the road are like peanut butter and jelly or butter and mashed potatoes. Make no mistake, though, there are more than enough habits to be picked up from being on the road all the time.
Emily: Not taking care of myself. You are eating out more and this country has a lot of crappy food. I'm also a vegetarian, so this is considered alien-like in certain parts of the U.S. It's difficult to exercise because you are in the van a lot of the time getting to the next gig. I do move around a great deal when performing and try to leave everything on stage. I'm always drenched in sweat after every show, but it's not as detoxifying as you might think because I definitely drink more beer when on the road.
12. The Beatles or the Stones? Por qué?
Noah: The Beatles. I've had this debate several times. I think the songwriting of The Beatles is a little more diverse and cerebral, not to mention, they all had good voices and they were all good writers. Great harmonies compared to the Stones, too. Don't get me wrong, though, I'm a huge Stones fan as well.
Emily: This is a really tough one for me because I am obsessed with both bands. I always say that The Beatles were playing when I came out of the womb. Their evolution as a band and their musicianship in general is unbelievable. Their earlier stuff (pre-drug years) was a bit more derivative. The "drug years" definitely became a genre within itself. The Beatles created their own sound and their roots grew into something that was completely their own.
13. The craziest thing I ever saw was…
Noah: Africa. The whole thing. It's beyond crazy and indescribable. People live in ways that you can't imagine and they are inextricably tied to the fate of the land. It's like seeing what life was like 10,000 years ago.
Emily: Seeing a person right after he was shot. I lived in Chicago (my hometown) and I was coming home on the "L" (Chicago's public trans) from a dance rehearsal. I was seeing this liquid from the platform all the way down the stairs when I got off the train. When I reached the sidewalk, I saw the man with only the outer edges of his shirt still white, the rest was drenched in blood. I realized then that the liquid was his blood. There was complete chaos surrounding him and for one second we made eye contact. I'll never forget the look in his eyes - they looked like the eyes of a child. The police were rushing people out of the way, and my gut feeling is that he didn't make it. I used to hear gunshots regularly when I lived in Chicago but that was the worst I actually saw. It's a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a place that's hasn't been in a war for years on end.
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