Archive for April, 2008

A lil’ somethin’ about KingHellBastard

April 30, 2008

One of the hardest-working, under-press-covered Hip-Hop acts in Milwaukee is the Hunter S. Thompson-monikered
KingHellBastard. Live and on record, they’ll end any debate over what is and isn’t Hiphop by setting the example for you. And they’re taking their four-star road show all over the country in a week or two. Hence this little Q & A session. What follows is the most thorough, eloquent, and humorous set of answers to my questions, courtesy of KHB MC DNA. (Damn, that’s a lot of letters.) That’s what happens when you interview someone who’s real nice with words.

Fan-belt Milan: Give me the origin story of KingHellBastard (KHB). The line-up, too. For the kids that just don’t know.

DNA: KHB is DNA (me), Dana Coppafeel, Clark Beez, LMNtlyst, Animas, Reakt20, A-Biz and Dj One L for those that don’t know. A lot of people figure it’s just me, Dana and Shemp because that’s what they see around town all the time, but at times it has been much bigger. Six dudes on stage all at once is a clusterfuck though.

It came about fairly haphazardly through a bunch of us all hanging out in West Allis for a Summer and drinking/recording (in that order) over at Animas’ old place. Everybody already had previous crew affiliations or projects under their belt, but nobody seemed to be doing much at the moment– this is a little under three years ago– so I kinda hatched this idea of a flag we could all rally around and everybody really got behind it as their former groups kinda disintegrated. Animas and I were a group called The Royal We, Shemp was in The Pizdamen with Bobby Brewski & Aaron Wade, A-Biz and Reakt had been doing their thing for a while in Milwaukee and Madison respectively, and Dana Coppa had been part of The Rusty Ps, Intel Agents, Break Bread and everything else you can think of. He’s probably a member of The Wu-Tang Clan and I just dont know it.

The name KingHellBastard is a phrase from various Hunter S. Thompson books that I’ve read over the years and it just stuck in my head. He’d use it when he really liked something passionately, like “you should check out ‘Lie Down In Darkness’ by William Styron. It’s a king hell bastard of a novel.” That and it didn’t sound like a hip-hop group at all. Everyone else hated it at first, but I am a stubborn fucking person.

FBM: Now give me the low-down on the Rappetite For Destruction (best name ever) tour.

Yeah, I like that name too. It’s one of those funny/dumb/funny again sorta’ things that sticks with you.

We’re hitting the road for the month of May and the tour features KHB, Kid Millions, and the Dope Sandwich crew out of Savannah, GA. So far it’s looking like 18-19 shows in 23 days, and we’re hitting up a bunch of new cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte, Columbus, Dayton and others. The tour ends with our official album release at Mad Planet on May 31st… if we make it back.

FBM: Did previous road experience change the way you planned this tour out?

DNA: Yeah, last year was an eye opener for sure. We put together a tour with the Dope Sandwich guys last year, featuring J-Sands from Lone Catalysts. It was a blast, but it was thrown together in a couple weeks before we left. AND, at the last minute, Dana ended up breaking his leg so we had to figure out how to do our set without him. He did all the legwork last year and made the connects, so we basically owed it to him to go out there and make it happen.

People seemed to dig it, so this year we reconnected with the down-South guys to do a better-planned and bigger version without a headliner to account for. That’s no offense to J-Sands, because my man is a trooper and a great guy, but Underground Hip-Hop is a skin-of-your-teeth type of affair.

The planning of this tour wasn’t too different from last year. The major difference is that we have a history with more people, and a larger amount of people know who we are. We also seem to be one of the main crews that out-of-towners hit up for shows in Milwaukee, and those people go out of their way to help us out when we’re on the road. My rule has always been that the out-of-town crew gets paid first, so I guess all those nights people spent on my couches is paying off.

FBM: So what’s up with Cups & Bottles?

DNA: Cups & Bottles is a KHB side project, featuring me and Dana Coppafeel as “Cups Buckingham” and “Bottles Bagsworth”. We set out to make an album in the vein of Raekwon and Ghostface, or maybe Smif ‘N Wessun– basically a dynamic duo type project, since me and Dana always seem to be together. The sound is intentionally stripped-down and the vocals were recorded in three sessions because we just wanted it to be as honest as possible. It’s Hip-Hop, not Theoretical Physics, so we tried to trust our initial instincts as much as possible.

The album is called Marlo after the young gun on HBO’s The Wire, and it was recorded with our friend Dima the White Russian and features all his beats. Oh, it also has our boy Clark Beez as “Holden Cannes”, which is much funnier in print than when spoken. Anyways, we just released it in conjunction with a start-up label here in town called Uni-Fi Records, and it’s available at Hot Pop in the Third Ward, Lotus Land Records in Riverwest, as well as and iTunes in the near future. Or out of my hand whenever you see me.

To hear more KHB, plus tracks from Cups & Bottle’s forthcoming Marlo, click here. And to see them when they come BACK from their tour:

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April 30, 2008

No, not those adorable little gremlins from Press Your Luck. These WAMIs are WAMIs you want. And over the weekend, some of the “wanters” became “gotters.” (Eat your heart out, Merriam-Webster.)

The 28th annual Wisconsin Area Music Industry awards ceremony happened over the weekend, and a whole lot of people walked home with prizes in tow. Among them? Shepherd Express (who posted the complete list of winners here) for “Print Media”; 88.9 Radio Milwaukee for “Best Radio Station”; and a whole slew of great bands, including Fever Marlene and .357 String Band (one of Fan-Belt writer Milan Zori’s personal favorites).

2. SUMMER SOULSTICE LINEUP, sporting a handsome new sans-serif typeface, posted the complete line-up for the East Side Summer Soulstice. Rather than ape the content, we give you the link.

Though Tuesday nights are usually WMSE’s live performance night, they always up the ante during a Membership Drive. And, being as this is their annual Spring Membership Drive, the swollen live-performance lineup is no exception. To see video of the sets you missed so far, click here. And to see who’s playing this week, click here and scroll down beneath the “Local Live” banner.

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Show Tonight: Pigs On Ice

April 29, 2008

“The name actually comes from the Tom Waits song ‘Cemetery Polka'”, says Brian Whitney of Milwaukee band Pigs on Ice, “…though in that song, it’s ‘hog on ice’…we liked ‘pig’ better. No one really thought about the potential police reference until we saw the web site…one of the most hilarious coincidences I’ve ever been involved in.”

Self-proclaimed Tom Waits fans, this local band started out last summer as a game of chance when Whitney (who’s originally from New Jersey), decided to ditch out on his hometown and call Milwaukee home for the time being to give the fledgling band a shot by playing guitar. Along with Kevin Heim on drums and keyboards, Jason Jolly on bass and vox and Joe Peterson (vox), the band came to be through Whitney’s past experiences with other local bands. “I put on a couple of shows two summers ago for two Milwaukee bands — Jacakalope (which had Jason and Kevin) and Catacombs of Rome (which has Joe), made really good friends with the guys and had a blast. Then the drummer from my old band moved to Israel, and I was faced with the decision to either go back to school and become an accountant or give the band thing another shot. I chose the more glamorous option and moved here last August, and so we began.”

After settling in, the band wasted no time in writing a solid set of songs, despite a little backtracking at first. “The band was originally just me, Jason and Kevin, with Jason and I trading vocal duties. We wrote a bunch of songs that way and played one show. It was okay, but I think we all felt like it was missing something. Joe and I had a drunk, rambling conversation about The Fall one night, that led to trying him out as a singer. After one song, it was pretty clear that he was in. We threw out all the old material and started fresh. We made our first two-song demo last December — it was basially a microphone in the practice room. For National Savage we recorded at our friend Casey’s house in Tustin, which is a nice, isolated, rural town about two hours north of here. He has a great studio setup and we basically recorded live in one day.”

The band has plans for mastering later this spring, putting their record out, solo or otherwise, and playing mostly local shows. “We’re probably going on an East Coast tour in July, and playing something called the Off Festival in Quebec City. The idea is to basically play as much as possible, as not too many people know who we are yet,” says Whitney.

It shouldn’t take too long for fans of Drive Like Jehu, Jesus Lizard and June of 44 to pick up on Pigs On Ice. Their frenzied sound is derivative of these bands, but also influenced by many others, not necessarily what one would think. Whitney says, “Bigger picture: The Fall, The Birthday Party, Neu!, Public Image Ltd. are parallels sound-wise…dub reggae (in particular Big Youth and King Tubby) is a pretty big influence in the way we write if not necessarily the sound. Probably Kraftwerk, too, in that regard. Local bands we like: Kickin’ It Poolside, Catacombs of Rome, Freight, The Mechanics of Romance, Dear Astronaut, Holy Shit!, The Frustrations (a really good band from Detroit; they’re worth looking into)…I’m still finding out about new bands in this area”…

Their intense sound is projected through Peterson’s vocals, which range from hardcore growls to tenor-toned yelps, the band steadily and crunchily backing him up. The band’s sounds are like a coil being wound and set to spring. Which direction they go, is anyone’s guess. Whichever it is, it’ll be with 110% energy. Whitney can attest. “We probably have the shortest practices of any band I’ve ever been in, but they’re a pretty effective workout. I’ve noticed a marked increase in my stamina and hardiness since we began. We should probably make an exercise tape of some sort, we could be the next Pilates.”

Pigs On Ice plays tonight at Y Not III (1854 E. Kenilworth) at 10 p.m. Also playing are: The Pharmacy, Finest Dearest and Wilmot Proviso.

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SHOW REVIEW: Marashino @ Rooters, 4.25.08

April 28, 2008

Photos by Jemitu
Words by Andy Zupke

Amidst the din and smoke, the band took the stage– hometown heroes who treat every show like their last, and every fan like their best. Friday night at Rooters was no different. Their stage presence is perfectly honed, their image conveying nothing less than pure Rock Star. No introductions were necessary. The crowd knew what was coming, and they waited anxiously. The banner on the stage said MARASHINO.

In the struggling hard rock scene of Milwaukee, few bands have the power to stand out. Marashino is surely one of them. The boys in this band have been touring almost non-stop for the past year, spreading the word the way it should be done. They’ve sacrificed a life of comfort and paying jobs for a life on the road: five sweaty men crammed in a van; several days since their last shower; quick, cheap food in their bellies; and a hope that each show will be better than the one before it.

It’s this kind of drive and endurance that makes a band, and puts to shame all those who sit and wait to be discovered in their hometown. Marashino knows what it takes to get noticed in the music business. They’ve worked hard for their success, and deserve every bit that they get.

Last night I finally had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them. My band, Spiral Trance, opened for Marashino, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever had. Watching Marashino is truly inspiring. The audience hangs on every word and every note, and they know that the guys in the band know every one of them by name.

Highlights of the night? Two birthday girls were brought on stage so the entire audience could sing “Happy Birthday” to them, and one lucky fan was brought up to sing a song with the band. But the last two songs– “Decisions” and “Left Behind” (both huge fan favorites)– stole the show. (Both of which can be heard on Marashino’s MySpace page.)

To hear more songs and see their show schedule, visit them online here, and make sure to check them out at Waukesha’s “A Taste of Summer” festival June 7th.

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Echo Base SHOWLESS Until Further Notice

April 28, 2008

Amy Elliott, who plans on writing for us any minute now, emailed me to let me know Echo Base Collective will no longer be having live shows. Why? In the MySpace Bulletin he posted over the weekend, he explains. Here’s the guts of said bulletin, courtesy of said Miss Elliott:

“Please remove all our shows from your MySpace, and warn other house venues to do the same. We were raided last night by about 15 police officers. It’s a long story, but they said they used MySpace to get us.

Just put the warning out there that the popo are out to shut everyone down. They sent in an undercover (and I read it, but I didnt want to discriminate, the guy just looked like a douche) and I was outside when he called them all in.

They are out to shut down all “illegal rave” parties.

Please put a bulletin out that asks people to help volunteer time, work, and knowledge to make this place legit to prevent this from happening and allow us to do shows again. We need to get the building up to code and get permits and talk to the alderman/police etc., etc.

Everyday after 4pm you can stop by, help out, clean up, work on bikes to help us make $ and write letters. ALSO ALL DAY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY ARE WORKDAYS. COME AND VISIT.



So, until further notice, all shows here are postponed.

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