Posts Tagged ‘rock and roll’

Come for the popcorn, stay for the awkward.

And the sweet reunion

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Like Randy Newman, I love L.A. Or at least a few of its musicians. Today I am pleased to present Brady Harris, currently of Brady Harris Band. In the interest of full disclosure he did send me a koozie, but that was after I sent off the questions. ūüôā

You just released NoHo Confidential. Give me a little background on this project. What lead to it? What does NoHo Confidential mean to you?

Photo by  Joyce Elsroad

Photo by Joyce Elsroad

Brady Harris: Well, the band is from North Hollywood (NoHo) and title comes from a distant memory I had of a Jerry Lee Lewis song called “High School Confidential” which was apparently from a movie of the same title. I’d never heard the song before, let alone seen the movie, but reading that title somewhere, it intrigued me and (obviously) stuck with me. Of course, as soon as I start telling people the title of our record, they’re like “Ha, cool. Like ‘LA Confidential’, but North Hollywood instead!”. I don’t even bother to try to explain. It does makes sense if I would’ve gotten it from the latter movie. But it’s from Jerry Lee…

As for where the project came from, after the band had several months of gigging under our belts it kind of naturally came up in discussion. Also, one of the benefactors who has funded my recordings said I should consider recording my next project with the band, thus the record was conceived.

As for what it means to me, I’d say we’re happily plying our trade, gigging, recording, etc far under the radar here in North Hollywood.

Who (or what) is the song “You I Know” about?

BH: I think it’s just about a close personal connection or some spiritual intimacy you might have with someone or some thing (inner self, “god”, nature, belief, what have you) that transcends locale or situation. It’s there, everywhere with you and you connect with it and you draw strength, resolve and acceptance from it. Geez, this is sounding a bit new agey for me! ha…

There’s a lot of cuteness, and empty cleverness that passes for good songwriting sometimes, but I’m not buying it.

 Talking about it in those terms, do you find that sometimes the song writing process is more about conveying a concept than an actual story?

BH: Yeah, I definitely think the songwriting process (lyrically) is sometimes more about conveying a concept than an actual story.¬† For me, it’s often about trying to capture a mood, paint a scene or document some moment in time.¬† There may be no beginning, middle or end, you’re just catching a glimpse.¬† Like eavesdropping while the noise, the din dips.

Photo by Joyce Elsroad

Photo by Joyce Elsroad

What is your song writing process like for your solo work and for BHB?

BH: The songwriting process for me is the same for most.¬† There’s no set formula.¬† Lyrics first. Music second. Lyrics second. Melody first. Sometimes I sit down to write. Other times I’m randomly inspired by something non-musical.¬† Other times I’m not trying to write, but stumble upon some progression on the piano or guitar that intrigues me.¬† I think writing good songs in the traditional sense is tough task.¬† It’s not something everyone can do.¬† Writing songs, however, is pretty easy.¬† I’m never impressed by how many songs someone has written, only by how many good ones they have written.¬† There’s a lot of cuteness, and empty cleverness that passes for good songwriting sometimes, but I’m not buying it.

Including an instrumental on a more pop oriented album seems risky. What lead to the creation and inclusion of Night at La Carafe?

BH:¬†“La Carafe” is an amazing, ancient bar in Houston, the city I grew up in. I believe it’s the oldest in the city limits. Needless to say, I had some good times there. It’s dark, candle-lit and the first place I ever heard Billie Holiday (“Strange Fruit” on a scratchy 45, I’ll never forget the moment). Hearing her transfixed me. She was also my first experience with the power of understated singing, an art that can sometimes seem rare these days.

As for why to include it on a Pop album, I’d just say that my records generally jump around genre-wise. Also, I have a tendency to close them all with an instrumental. I like the idea of instrumentals when it’s a vocal band. Also, I figure after listening to a whole album of me singing and prattling on about this and that, song after song, the good listener deserves a break. Right?

What does pop mean to you? For a current younger crowd it may mean Justin Bieber, but the Beatles were a pop band though people look more at their classic rock or experimental side now.

BH: Pop and Rock – the uneasy classification!
Although “Pop” stands for “popular”, to me it’s loosely defined as the more melodic, light of touch side of songwriting. Rock would be the edgier, grittier bits. But labels are mostly meaningless, I suppose. It’s interesting how labels stay the same, but what they represent keep changing. Like “Country Music” for one. Willie Nelson wouldn’t even get played on a “Country Music” station.

Photo by Joyce Elsroad

Photo by Joyce Elsroad

Who or what inspires you most?

BH:¬†The Beatles, for so many reasons. But so many other artists and songs other than just them. But the Beatles story paints the classic picture of against-all-odds, and not only succeeding, but changing the rules along the way, like few others could. As for other sources of inspiration, photographs of rock & roll can be very inspirational, just like film clips, videos, etc. Sometimes you get the feeling that Rock & Roll is a self-fulfilling, self feeding beast. It feeds on its young! I like how Ronnie Wood once said, “That’s the great thing about Rock & Roll, it’s always dying, yet no one can ever kill it off”. Or words to that effect.

Have you actually sailed away to Ensenada Bay? (re: the song Mexico) 

BH: Never!

You were primarily a solo artist recently. What made you switch from Brady Harris to Brady Harris band?

BH:¬†I still do solo gigs, duo gigs, etc. but the BHB just fell together out of seemingly thin air, thanks in part to my friend (and fellow musician) Scott Woeckel, after an invitation to do a “band” gig.

How did this band get put together for the album and who will be playing with you live?

The BHB band is the same as the recording band. My esteemed colleagues and co-conspirators are:
John Adair: Lead Guitar, Vocals, and lots of other stuff
Marc Bernal: Bass Guitar, Vocals and baked goods.
Steve Markowitz: Drums, Vocals and transit authority

What’s on the Horizon for Brady Harris band?

BH:¬†We’re invading the Central Coast wine country.

Cotton candy or saltwater taffy?

BH: Sorry, was never into candy-sweet treats. Only dark chocolate for me. 72% is good!

Purchase NoHo Confidential and Brady’s previous albums at¬†http://bradyharris.bandcamp.com/

And be sure to check out his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bradyharrismusic


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This is pretty cool. Found it via BoingBoing.
“He decided to call Decca, to try reason with them, and he secretly taped his conversation. They refused to give him the rights to his own song, but he went ahead and violated his contract”

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Originally released in 2003¬†Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures is a movie about the ups and downs of the band Betty Blowtorch. Anthony Scarpa spent two years filming the band and got some great footage. We get to see video shoots and record deals go south and Vanilla Ice doing a bong hit, but at it’s heart this is the story of the life of Bianca Butthole (n√©e Bianca Halstead).

The movie opens with one of many Betty Boop clips that are unfortunately peppered throughout the movie. I understand what director Anthony Scarpa was doing, but I would have preferred they were kept out entirely.¬†After that we see the band filming a video and this scene sets up the whole movie by showing you what Betty Blowtorch is all about right away. Off camera the video directors calls for “play back” and Bianca responds “No thank you. Sound” indicating they are not completely comfortable with the set up. They want to rock not pretend. A little bit into the shoot Bianca is on the receiving end of too much glitter confetti and has to take a moment to stop lip syncing. The filming continues until she can shake the glitter confetti attack. I love this scene because it highlights the ridiculousness and artifice of the music industry and the fact that Betty Blowtorch doesn’t quite fit in.

We then get to see the creation and disbanding of Butt Trumpet, the pre-Betty Blowtorch band. There are some great interviews with Thom Bone whose goal was to start “the last punk rock band.” His altruistic ideas and desire to sell $8 not $20 band shirts causes a rift within the band and leads to his leaving, or getting thrown out depending on who is being interviewed. The movie then shows us how Betty Blowtorch came to be in the post Butt Trumpet fall out. We get interviews with Duff McKagan, and get to see Rob Van Winkle, AKA Vanilla Ice, do a bong hit (did I already mention that?). And when the ending that I knew had to come does in fact come I was actually taken by surprise.

Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures has a few problems. The main problem being, for me, the length of the film and the editing choices. The Vanilla Ice segment could have been shortened (he does a bong hit btw) and there is a road story involving flinging pies and poo between vans that I would have liked to have seen put in the end credits instead of in the middle of the movie. Also there is a point where the band members have a falling out and we are given vague answers as to what started it; normal band tension on the road, managers mishandling communications. Scarpa could have delved a little more into this and gotten the band to open up so we could really know what was going on.

While Scarpa does find a narrative he needed to tighten this up a little more and tell a more concise story. I believe he could have cut some from this film and still honored Bianca’s memory. Though it is slow at times and could have been presented in a more compelling manner Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures is a great find and is for anyone who is a fan of rock music and loves an underdog (or wants to see Vanilla Ice do a bong hit-oh, and also rap about how big his manhood is).

This film is not rated, but is definitely for the “R” crowd.

Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures: directed by Anthony Scarpa; director of photography, Anthony Scarpa; edited by Anthony Scarpa; produced by Scott Milano, Jade Robledo, Anthony Scarpa, Kelly Spencer; With: Betty Blowtorch, Bianca Butthole, Blare N. Bitch, Sharon Needles, Judy Molish

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