Interpol @ Open Air Theater

People thought rock was dead; Interpol showed us otherwise.

Legendary post-punk band Interpol came to shred underneath the disco ball at the CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theater, just one of many stops on their North American tour promoting their sixth studio album, Marauder. Completing the night’s bill were indie-rock trio Sunflower Bean and punk duo The Kills – a lineup which had several of my friends drooling with envy when I told them I’d be in attendance. Which, if I’m being honest, left me more than a little confused. Who listens to rock anymore? Punk hasn’t been cool since the Arctic Monkeys abandoned ship and indie-rock is teetering on the edge of irrelevance post-Mac Demarco. Although these claims may border on outrageous, it cannot be denied that the rock genre has been eclipsed in recent years by pop, EDM, and hip-hop.

Clearly none of the groups on stage got that memo.

Kicking off the night in outfits that would make any art hoe scream “yassss queen,” Sunflower Bean came to rock n roll. Straying from the Fleetwood Mac-influenced sound of their studio recordings, the trio amped up the energy with ripping solos from guitarist Nick Kivlen and raw, throaty vocals from singer/bassist Julia Cumming. With their blonde heads a-banging and trousers a-sparkling, Sunflower Bean’s entire existence pays homage to the genre which birthed them. Unfortunately, the band did suffer from the Indifferent Crowd Syndrome (ICS) that commonly plagues opening acts. Despite seemingly fazing the band, they still left the stage with this bold statement: “We’re Sunflower Bean and don’t you forget it!” Don’t worry, girl, I won’t.

Tunes to scope out: I Was Home, Twentytwo, I Was a Fool

Up next came the skinny-jean clad duo The Kills. The most notable aspect of their performance was the “the strut;” considering it’s been 15 years since their first LP, singer Allison Mosshart’s ability to own whatever stage her leather boots find themselves is downright impressive. Limbs rolling, long blond hair flowing, her control and ease over the environment is almost enough to compensate for the incomplete sound produced by the two guitars and drum kit. With moody, analog interludes, experimental guitar synths, the Kills are looking to take the genre somewhere. Where exactly, they have no definitive answer.

Tunes to scope out: Doing It to Death, Baby Says

At this point in the show, I was still inclined to believe that rock n roll is dead. Sunflower Bean and the Kills were both great bands, but neither seem to have the potential to revive the ailing genre. But as I furiously typed notes into my phone, I heard it. Life. The audience roars and rises to their feet as Interpol arrived to save us all.

Photo credited to the San Diego Union Tribune

Let me paint the scene for ya. A dark stage. Simple white spotlights cast light from behind the band, creating an eerie shadow of a band already dressed black. Then a single white light behind center stage rises to meet the disco ball, splaying light out to the crowd. It’s a simple set-up, but effective; Interpol’s music can speak for itself. You get the feeling they are at the service of the music. The band has mastered a suave rock sound that seduces you with every melancholy lyric singer Paul Banks wails with his haunting twang, and I am hit by a wall of sound, filled with textures and colors I’ve seen before, but perhaps not in this combination. Every song “bangs” and I can’t help but move my body to the beat, swaying my head back and forth so that I could hear every note. You can listen to Interpol’s entire set with your eyes closed, the music is a show in and of itself. And then it’s over, and I feel as if I’ve been abruptly woken from a sweet dream. The band humbly exits, it’s duty to the music completed: “We are Interpol, and that’s what we got.”

So, much to my chagrin, rock does live! It has bands like Interpol to keep its heart beating, and an audience desperate to consume it. The problem is that we’ve heard all these sounds before. Interpol’s music is superb, but the band has done little experimenting in their long career. I guess it’s true, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, but sticking with a sound that just works isn’t enough to compete with pop and hip-hop artists who cater to fans with an incessant appetite for new content. Interpol’s Marauder is enough to keep rock alive, if only just alive.

Tunes to scope out: If You Really Love Nothing, Evil, Pioneer to the Falls

Review by: Michaela Alejandra

The Sounds of State-KC Stanfield

Two weeks ago, only a couple of hours after I interviewed Camelle Sison for my post last week, I sat down with KC Stanfield for this week’s version. I could tell that he really loved music thanks to the massive headphones around his neck, and he was about to prove it to me in our interview. Let’s get right to it:

Cameron Satterlee: Hi KC, thanks for joining me here.

KC Stanfield: Oh no problem, thanks for having me.

CS: Yeah alright, well let’s get to it. What’s your radio slot?

KC: My radio slot is the lovely time of Saturday at ten pm to eleven pm.

CS: Wow.

KC: I know, it’s late.

CS: I’ve had a few Saturday morning people because that’s the alumni shows, but I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed someone who has a weekend night.

KC: It’s pretty horrible, I mean cause usually you put your weekend on pause. Especially at the night cause everyone goes out and does stuff.

CS: Oh yeah.

KC: My friends will be like “Hey KC wanna go to a bar?” And I’m like “after my radio show I will.”

CS: Oh man. I think I might know the answer to this but how long have you been with KCR?

KC: Well actually I blogged for them last semester, about the music that I actually play now. I don’t have any time to blog anymore. It’s quicker to have a one hour radio show, prepare for that, and then do everything else I need to do. So I still want to be with KCR and talk and or play music that I like, it’s just different.

CS: But so this semester is your first semester on air?

KC: Yeah it is.

CS: Yeah I think the newbies get the weekend nights for the most part.

KC: Oh yeah they do.

CS: But you blogged before so that’s cool. What was your blog by the way?

KC: I just covered some concerts that I went to, predominately, sometimes I covered underground hardcore bands or metal bands that not many people know. On top of it being metal and no one knows it to begin with. So that’s what I did. I covered some hardcore concerts and wrote about some albums. Basically I was a metal blogger.

CS: Alright well you sort of answered my question but what kind of music do you play?

KC: Metal.

CS: Metal.

KC: Yep.

CS: Saturday night metal alright.

KC: I know right? It’ll keep you awake.

CS: Get the blood flowing.

KC: Ruin a party too, if you play KCR as your background music.

CS: Yeah. Yeah I thought the scheduling blocks were supposed to put the EDM DJ’s like on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

KC: They’re after me.

CS: Alright, but you got your metal show. Clashes a bit, probably. But maybe next semester you’ll get a slot more in tune with metal.

KC: Maybe. Well actually probably not since I’m graduating.

CS: Oh, alright well never mind. I’m glad I got this interview to document this.

KS: Right?

CS: So, why metal? Why is that your scene?

KC: I dunno, I kinda got into it at an early age. I was, it’s probably not the best comparison, metal is really like drugs. You start off with some of the easier stuff, I started off with some Avenged Sevenfold, some Metallica, Disturbed. Some light hearted metal.

CS: (Laughing) my mom wouldn’t call Metallica lighthearted.

KC: And then in high school I slowly got more into metalcore stuff, post-hardcore stuff like A Day to Remember, the Devil Wears Prada, Parkway Drive. And then now, I still listen to all of that old stuff, but what I can withstand or enjoy, is a lot heavier than what I did four years ago.

CS: Oh that’s such a metal thing to say, the music you listen to is the stuff you can withstand. That’s so amusing.

KC: I know right? That’s how everyone else is, I’ll play some Whitechapel and people will just stare and me and say “you listen to this?” Because I don’t have long hair or are covered in tattoos, I don’t look really like the general metalhead so it kinda throws people off at the beginning. And a lot of them are like “oh my god this stuff uhhh ahhh” but it does grow on you. Especially my roommate, he’s gotten used to it.

CS: Alright, yeah. I know you probably wouldn’t play anything else on your show cause that wouldn’t flow together, but do you listen to any other genres of music, or mostly metal? Or different kinds of metal I guess.

KC: Yes to both. I listen to stuff you’d expect like rock, because it’s an offshoot of metal. I also listen to more indie and alternative stuff like Interpol or Modest Mouse. I listen to rap too, like Nas. I like the political stuff more, Hopsin’s pretty cool. So I listen to a little bit of everything, I listen to techno. Not so much country, can’t stand that stuff, don’t know why.

CS: You and every other DJ I’ve ever interviewed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any metal fan have the gall to say that rock is an offshoot of metal.

KC: Well technically metal is an offshoot of rock.

CS: Yeah they’re related, but rock came first.

KC: But if you compare—I’m trying to think of a rock band—Nirvana.

CS: Yeah they were influenced by metal.

KC: If you compare them to—any metal band, I’m trying to think—Parkway Drive, it sounds nothing alike. Anything that screams, it just doesn’t sound like rock anymore, it just sounds like metal.

CS: Oh yeah they’re totally related but not close.

KC: They’re oceans apart now. It’s like the continental drift of music. That is the nerdiest thing I could have said, too.

CS: Hey whatever, that’s fine. So I guess you sorta explained it, but I kinda wanted to go a bit deeper. You grew up listening to metal, but I know people who did that and sorta phased out of it, but it seems like you went deeper into it. So I assume the music is pretty important to you, why it that?

KC: Well I do like quicker tempo music to begin with, and that’s metal right there. It’s always fast. And the thing I love about metal is that there’s usually just a ton of passion into it. I mean these people are screaming their voices out, they’re breaking their vocals essentially because they love the genre. They’re not getting paid much, it’s metal, they’re not making—well some of them are—but most of them aren’t making millions and millions of dollars. They’re doing it because they love the music. What more can you ask when it comes to music because they’re artists who are passionate about the music and just about the music.

CS: Yeah, that’s a great response. So is there any new metal band out there that you’ve been listening to lately? Or an old one that you just discovered?

KC: Yeah, I mentioned this on my last week’s show but the band is called Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza. Deathcore. I know that is the most ridiculous name for a metal band in the world and I love it so much just because it’s so ridiculous and out there.

CS: I think I’ve actually heard about them once or twice in high school. Just cause of the name probably.

KC: And I’m waiting for new stuff from a band, probably not many people know them, they’re called My Heart to Fear. They’re really metalcore if you want to define them exactly but they sorta have their own unique sound. They scream to be heard rather than to be loud. So you can understand them a bit better and the lyrics are really well written.

CS: Alright, so I always like to end on this one, what would be your ideal show? The perfect show for you.

KC: I don’t know that would have to be an all day festival of just bands that I love just back to back to back. Because there’s so many bands that I’d love to see live.

CS: Oh no I mean your radio show, your one hour block, like if you could do it really well how would that go? My bad I didn’t word it well.

KC: I do it when my iPod didn’t have technical difficulties. I have a lot of music on this, I have over 8,000 songs on the now discontinued 160 gig iPod. So it froze on me one show!

CS: Oh no!

KC: Oh my god. So I was just trying to ramble and restart it and come up with a story because I totally didn’t expect this since I’m new and didn’t have a set story like “oh technical difficulties, here’s a little bit about me.” Because no one wants to listen to that, when I listen to the radio I always hate when the DJ talks too much. So they’ll explain a little bit about the band or an upcoming concert or a new album and then go straight into the music. I hate when they just talk and talk and talk.

CS: Yeah.

KC: I don’t listen to radio for AM like programming.

Cs: Yeah when your iPod fails you that’s something you don’t plan on.

KC: Oh it was fun, it was a fun day.

CS: So I usually end on the last question, but I want to know, Black Sabbath, are they metal?

KC: They’re like the founders of metal.

CS: Alright but they’re not fast though and you said that was a core component of metal.

KC: True, but I am of the mind that if it was metal it still is, for the most part unless it’s a new album then it’s more rock. But they basically founded it, because Led Zeppelin was kinda like the transitioning period. I think Black Sabbath was the definitive “these guys: metal, yes” band. And I still think that is because think of some of the 80’s music, a lot of it was metal but now it’s classic rock. So our standards of genres have changed and that somehow changed what they were but I still consider them, what they were originally meant to be. That’s just me.

CS: Well thank for sitting down with me, it was a great interview.

KC: No problem.

After the interview, we chatted for a few more minutes, but unfortunately my small metal knowledge was rapidly running dry. I had to get to work so we parted ways soon after. Be sure to check out KC’s show every Saturday from 10-11 pm, only on KCR College Radio, the Sound of State.