Neighborhood Jams: Motion City Soundtrack

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you took those sweaters, Uggs, and earmuffs out of storage because it officially feels like fall these days. On this week’s neighborhood jams I am featuring a band that recently performed in San Diego on their tour last Saturday. Motion City Soundtrack stopped by along with The Wonder Years, You Blew It!, and State Champs. They played at Soma in Point Loma – a venue that is famous for their intimate atmosphere yet always filled with punk rock youths.

Motion City Soundtrack consists of five members each bringing so much to the table. MCS was originally founded by Joshua Cain (guitar) and Justin Pierre (vocals and guitar) in 1997 in Minnesota.  Soon after Jesse Johnson (keyboardist and moog synthesist), and Matthew Taylor (backing vocals and bass) joined along with former drummer Tony Thaxton. In 2013 Thaxton left the band and Claudio Rivera joined the group.  Together the band has released six studio albums including their latest Panic Stations released in June, 2015. Now as a long-time, die-hard, fan I must say that I love this latest album. Pierre is known for sharing all of his feelings in his raw lyrics that soon become their hits – and this album does not disappoint. One of my favorite songs from Panic Stations is Lose Control. At the concert this song really got the people jumping and going, even surrounded by heartfelt melodies the audience was singing along every word. Check out the music video below:

Now being the big fan that I am (I have seen these guys every year at least once or twice a year for the past ten years…) I want to go on a tangent of one of my favorite MCS songs from the album Commit This To Memory, and it is called L.G. FUAD. If you know what that stands for then consider this a virtual high-five from me to you. Yeah! I love this song, and every time MCS plays a concert they play this song. I feel like it is a real go getter for the guys, and the audience always replies back beautifully by singing along perfectly and with complementary clapping. Hearing this song live is also a treat because Johnson will go crazy on his keyboards, dancing around, and cheering on the audience. I’ve even seen him do a handstand or two ON TOP of the keyboard. It’s pretty crazy stuff. Regarding Johnson, he was not at Saturday’s concert because his wife was in labor with their first child – how exciting! I hope everyone is happy and healthy! It amazes me that these five guys are getting married, having kids, yet still rocking out as hard as they were their first tour. You can really see the dedication each member has for MCS, and it is so admiring. With everything on their individual plates they are not just limiting themselves to music. A pretty cool thing they did with the release of their latest album was partner up with a local coffee shop called Five Watt Coffee. Here Pierre, Johnson, and Taylor tasted and comprised their own coffee blend to make Panic Stations: The Coffee. Very cool.

I wish Motion City Soundtrack much luck on the remainder of their tour. You can check out where they are going next here. Be sure to give their Facebook a like or two. And I strongly urge you to light a candle and listen to their acoustic versions of their own songs – it’s truly beautiful.

Neighborhood Jams: Paper Days

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you are all having a good week – I know I am and I think it’s mainly because I have been jamming out to this week’s neighborhood jams which I am featuring Paper Days! This California, dreamy-style, poppy rock band is from Carlsbad, and their tunes are hypnotic and can dance around in your head all day.

Paper Days consists of Niko Sitars, Jordan Graham, Nate Blake, and Xander Sitars. These guys know how to rock out by singing sweet melodies along with their happy-go-lucky guitar riffs complementing their style so well. I would describe them as a combination of Young the Giant and Best Coast because of their love of the California lifestyle. Now the moment I fell in love with their happy sounds was when I watched their official music video for the song Kind Guidance. The guitar melody in the beginning is like an invitation to a cheerful story, and the melody is infectious throughout the entire song – I couldn’t help but dance around! And let’s talk about Niko Sitars’ voice and ranging pitches – it’s mesmerizing to say the least. Lastly, about their Kind Guidance official music video, the locations are shot all around San Diego like the busy streets of the Gaslamp District. It’s great to see local bands promoting their own city! They have played at venues all over their hometown such as Soma, San Diego Music Thing, Carlsbad Music Festival, and at the legendary Ché Café Collective.

Creature and Golden are also in the running as my new favorite song. These two songs feel a little lower and slower, but the lyrics really bring it together – and the drums are a constant reminder that dancing is encouraged. On their Soundcloud you can listen to their EP titled Playground Dreams EP.

I could only imagine their concerts are full of love and happy respect for everyone around. The moment I heard those infectious heavy rhythms and sweet lyrics, I knew I was in. You guys should give them a like on their Facebook and let’s get them to a 1,000 likes – they’re so close! And check out their songs on Soundcloud below. Good luck, Paper Days, and I can’t wait to see you live!

Photo Credit: Katie Johnson

The Sounds of State-Scott Granlund and Jared Kleber

Just yesterday, I met up with Scott Granlund and Jared Kleber at their apartment to record my final interview of the semester. Scott is a coworker of mine at KPBS and mentioned to me early this year that he was starting a radio show, I’m glad I was able to squeeze he and his cohost on at the very end. I hope you can tell as you read but this was a very fun interview, one of the best I’ve had in my opinion. Scott and Jared have great chemistry and made it a fun conversation. Scott talks almost as fast as he thinks while Jared’s more measured pace somehow fit neatly together. It made transcription pretty hard but I really wanted to capture the spirit of the conversation for my last interview.

A reminder one last time: I try to transcribe the conversation as it happened, to capture the cadence and structure of our speech I put grammar in a secondary role. So without further ado, here is the final interview of the semester:

Cameron Satterlee: Alright, I am with Scott and Jared, welcome guys, thank you for being on.

Jared Kleber: Thank you.

Scott Grandlund: Thank you, sir.

CS: So, what is your radio spot?

SG: Our show is called the Family Garage, we play garage rock, psychedelia, proto-punk, new stuff, old stuff, the time is ten pm on Sundays and it’s an hour long show. And we talk about random stuff too.

CS: Alright. You’re getting ahead of me, man.

SG: I’m sorry.

CS: No it’s cool. It’s a good answer. So how long have you guys been with KCR?

JK: This will be the end of our first semester.

SG: Yeah this is the first semester we’ve had this show. And we weren’t there before.

CS: How did you guys partner up?

SG: Well we live together, and we’d been talking about doing a show together for I want to say a year, we wanted to do it sophomore year and then we never really got our act together. And then finally we were just like (claps hands) apply online let’s just do the thing, and we kinda sat there like “what should we play?” It was literally one night, cause we knew we wanted to do a show together just to do something different and do something new. We were literally just sitting on the couch saying “what should we play?” And we just kinda workshopped it then and thought of this idea of playing garage rock; kinda a blanket genre where we could do a little bit of everything. And we thought we’d talk about stuff in between songs and we tend to talk about a lot of weird stuff.

CS: Alright well that sounds pretty interesting. You said you kinda just pulled out garage rock sorta randomly, how come you decided on that specifically?

JK: I think we were originally—I think we had talked about it—we were at a record store and we were listening to garage rock and I was like “we should just do that” because it’s kinda a blanket genre. A lot of things can classify themselves as garage rock. You can play stuff from the 60’s and onward and it wouldn’t really matter if it’s not particularly garage, it could be a little punk, it could be a little psychedelic. It’s kinda a nice blanket genre for rock music which I don’t think gets a lot of play anymore, so it’s pretty nice.

SG: Yeah that’s right. I think the record store thing especially. What we were just hearing while we were in Off the Record, in our apartment, at Thrift Trader and stuff just is nice, “I wanna do that.”

JK: Yeah we wanted to play music that you don’t really hear anymore.

SG: Yeah.

JK: You would only hear it if you went and found it yourself or you go into a record store and you’re talking to some old guy at a record store and he’s like “you should listen to this.”

CS: Well maybe it’s fitting that you guys are on Sunday with the alumni shows cause they play a lot of stuff kinda like that too.

SG: Keeps with the theme I guess.

CS: Uh huh. So I guess you sorta answered this already, but I wanna know a bit more in depth I suppose what made you want to do the radio and be rock DJ’s?

JK: Well we are both film students and I think we understand media quite a bit.

SG: Yeah.

JK: And I think that radio is just another form of media and I think that it’s interesting and not as big as it used to be and it’s kinda something that’s still interesting to me. I know we both are people who listen to a lot of podcasts. And I think that a lot of people assume that podcasts are the thing that’s gonna kill radio or something like that. But it’s different, and the idea of a medium where you don’t have to see something and you can just learn new things and hear new things is always interesting to me.

SG: Yeah I would agree. I think that we were just kinda interesting in another form of broadcast really. Especially with the kind of music that we ended up playing, it worked out really nicely. It’s an old kind of medium that we can showcase this music that is old and classic too. Just the idea of the radio show, that there’s two people who are controlling what you’re listening to and you hear their comments about it and what their takes on the world are. In that respect, for the podcasts especially, you’re just hearing what people think about stuff. We just thought why not put our opinions out there.

CS: Cool, yeah that’s great answers you guys. So you guys mentioned it earlier but you play this garage rock because it allows you to play different kinds of music from a long period of time. Is there anything recent that you play?

SG: Mac DeMarco.

JK: Mac DeMarco.

SG: We play some Mac DeMarco, we play some Walter TV.

JK: Black Lips. The Garden. Death Valley Girls. I feel like it’s weird, smaller stuff.

SG: FIDLAR, once. So it’s just smaller, more punk-y bands. We played a bunch of Alabama Shakes a lot on our show too cause they have a new album out. So I mean, it’s more of that blanket theme where “yeah, this is some kind of rock, alternative thing” so let’s play it. So it’s really stuff we like too.

JK: It’s all stuff that’s really small. You wouldn’t hear most of the bands we named on the radio. Those people survive online or on college radio.

CS: You guys are doing your part then!

SG: It’s just our civil duty.

CS: (laughs) Yeah broadcast it out. So you guys are roommates and have known each other for a while now, would you say you have good chemistry on the air?

Both: Yeah.

SG: We met in orientation actually, before college actually started. He was one of the first people I met and we talked for a while, we made our schedules right next to each other, and we ended up having the exact same schedule freshman year. We had every class together and we ended up living in the same dorm hall three door down from each other. So we’ve been friends for a long time now, and then we moved here to our current apartment and we’ve been living here for two years, and we’re living together next year too. So there’s good chemistry. A little good back and forth every once in a while, we sync up and say the same word at the same time and it’s kinda funny. I dunno, it works, works for us.

CS: Hey cool, I know exactly what you mean cause I met my cohost at orientation too.

SG: Really?

CS: Yeah, fun story. So, last question, I always like to ask this, how would your perfect show go? Just an ideal, perfect hour. How would that be?

SG: Well we’ll do a music news, coming down the pipe section, and then we’ll do a random this is what’s going on in our lives talk, and then we’ll do a random here’s a thing that’s happening in the world usually. So the craziest thing in the world, if there’s a lot of great music news to talk about, some funny weird stuff happened, and some weird stuff that happened in our lives that are funny to talk about and then all that. And then every other week we actually have “bi-weekly double shot,” we made a sound bite for it, we play two of the same artist back to back. So I guess if we have a really good playlist for the night and just things that flow well and then it could also tie in well with some of the music news. I dunno, every once in a while we hit our stride and we’re kinda funny at the same time we hit it. We’ve had some good shows.

JK: I think an ideal show would also have guests, we’ve had guests on to also talk about sports for ten minutes.

SG: For no reason.

JK: Because we don’t know sports as much, so it’s kinda funnier. Because you can do a sports show, but it’s kinda funny if you do a sports show and you don’t know sports, you don’t do sports very much. You just kinda have your weird own views on it so I think that’s kinda interesting. We always talk about hip hop news on our show.

SG: Yeah that keeps happening.

JK: We don’t even do a hip hop show but we do hip hop news. And I feel like our listeners probably don’t like that but there’s not a lot of garage rock news. There’s more hip hop news.

SG: We actually addressed that on our first show. I’m sorry, this answer has gone kinda long.

CS: It’s fine.

SG: But we kinda addressed that on our first show. We said we can talk about garage rock news but all it would be like would be “these guys got a new EP out, they’re touring 16 places you’ve never heard of, it’ll cost no money and ten people will go to the show. Yeah they’re not gonna do anything too weird.” Meanwhile literally we had three shows in a row where we had news about the rap group Migos because they kept getting into a whole lot of trouble. That was like our Migos news segment.

JK: Like stabbing people.

SG: Either stabbing nine people at an Albany concert.

JK: They got arrested for guns.

SG: Arrested for guns at the University of Georgia. They’re just doing weird stuff.

JK: They’re crazy so every week we check up on Migos basically to see what they’re up to because they’re insane.

SG: So it’s more fun to talk about them and then we’ve got some funny things that happened last minute like Mark’s mom’s show was funny.

JK: Yeah we found that one of the cohosts of the show the hour before us, his mom always listens.

SG: To our show.

JK: And she was picking him up one time and she was like “I like your show. Much better music than my son plays.” And we were like “shouts out to Mark’s mom.”

SG: We were just talking about her on air, it was really cool. Even if it’s ten people that listen, it’s great to hear that we have the one Mark’s mom. Mark’s mom likes our show!

JK: Yeah some mom somewhere likes our show, it’s pretty cool.

SG: Yeah, so we do it for Mark’s mom.

CS: (laughing) Alright.

SG: That wasn’t really an answer to your question much, I guess it kinda was.

JK: Our ideal show would have five minutes devoted to Mark’s mom.

SG: (laughs) A guest, maybe two.

JK: A guest of some kind.

SG: The Migos literally just blew up the state of Idaho.

JK: A Migos section.

SG: I dunno how much we could squeeze in. I guess the funny part of our show is that what we talk about never matches the music.

JK: No.

SG: We’ll talk about the music but our conversation has nothing to do with it.

JK: We’ll be like “hey did you hear about this thing?”

SG: “Anyway, FIDLAR coming up next!” Yeah. So there you go.

CS: Oh man, well that—

SG: You can take whatever you want of that, please don’t feel like you don’t have to translate all of that.

CS: No that’s cool. That was actually really awesome. Thanks guys.

SG: You’re welcome.

So there you have it, Scott Granlund and Jared Kleber. Again, I thought it was a great interview. Scott and Jared are clearly taking full advantage of what KCR has to offer as a way to express a unique vision on the radio. You only have one more opportunity to tune into their show this semester: Sunday at 10 pm. But I’m betting they’ll make a triumphant return to the online airwaves next semester.

This was not only my final interview of the semester but I believe it will also be my final interview for the Sounds of State. I may return next semester to the KCR blog, but I am retiring from this project. Thank you all for reading, it has been a pleasure.

-Cameron Satterlee

The Sounds of State-Clint Beachwood

Two weeks ago it was my birthday and before I went off to celebrate with friends and family I had to take a test and go to work. But much more fun and interesting to me was the interview I conducted preceding those two events. Clint Beachwood contacted me way back last semester wanting to do an interview for The Sounds of State. My docket was already full so he had to roll over to this year, but he more than made up for the delay imposed upon him. We met up at the KCR studio and went upstairs to an abandoned room shoved into the corner of Hepner Hall. Clint is the second KCR alum I have interviewed after Joe Shrin, and like Joe he was one of the most engaging and interesting interviewees I’ve ever had on this blog. I like to let the DJ’s talk for themselves so without further ado let’s get right to it. As always, I edit for grammar in a sense that does not detract from the flow of the conversation as it actually happened, we are radio DJ’s after all.

Cameron Satterlee: Hello everybody! I am sitting here with Clint Beachwood, and thanks for joining me. So let’s just kick it off with the regular stuff, what is your radio slot?

Clint Beachwood: I’m on Thursday from 3 to 5 pm, and I’ve had the Thursday slot probably since 2001 except for about a year’s hiatus there about two or three years ago.

CS: So I guess like you mentioned you’ve been here for a while so it goes without saying that you’re a distinguished KCR alum. It’s great to have another one to interview. So you’re a music show yeah?

CB: I am a music show.

CS: So what kind of music do you play?

CB: I strictly play instrumental surf music. Well that’s not true, my show from 2001 up until a year ago was strictly surf instrumental music. This is not The Beach Boys cause The Beach Boys obviously sing. All the music I play doesn’t have any words, it’s all instrumental. And then to sort of expound on that instrumental approach about a year or two ago I changed the name of the show from A Day at the Beach, which it was all along, to Instrumentals Only. The first hour I just play an eclectic mix of instrumentals from all different genres and the second hour is strictly surf instrumentals. So I’ve changed it up just a little bit in the past couple of years.

CS: But you’re still keeping your surf roots.

CB: It definitely has a surfy feel to it and there are still no lyrics to sing along with.

CS: That’s a real cool idea for a show man, I mean that’s pretty out there. That’s kinda what we like here at college radio stations, just for people to do their own thing.

CB: It’s been a nice niche. You don’t see this style obviously on commercial radio and hardly anywhere. It’s usually all about the lead singer and about how egotistical they are and how they like to take over the band and my show is basically all about the music that the bands produce.

CS: And so why did you settle on surf rock?

CB: Interesting. So I grew up, I’m a little on the older side, I turned 60 just a little while ago, and I remember growing up in the early 60’s how the sport of surfing was quite popular and along with this new surfing craze there were surf movies and everything else and it included music. There was a surf style of music that went with the sport of surfing which was a real wet, drippy sound, Dick Dale was very good at that and he used a lot of reverb in his music and that sort of stuck with the sport of surfing. I grew up during that era and I recall that time as being very happy times in my life and I associate a lot of friends and fun things, even though I was just 10-12 years old, but still a lot of good times growing up in the LA area to this surfing craze and this great music. Which included The Beach Boys back at the time so it was very fun music and we were all very into it. And I always, for whatever reason, enjoyed the instrumental aspect of songs, I really like the guitar solo in the middle of songs and just the background type instrumentals more than I did with vocals. I don’t know why that is, just a glitch in my thinking or whatever. Not that I don’t like vocal songs, I do, but I really took a liking to instrumentals and it has just carried off into my adulthood.

CS: And so now that you’ve expanded your show into an ‘instrumental other’ category as opposed to a surf instrumental, is there anything in particular you play in this other category?

CB: I play a lot of Memphis soul like Booker T. and the MG’s and some other groups like that, I really enjoy that sound, but for the most part no it’s just all over the board. A lot of—like Alan Parsons does a lot of instrumentals—so a little bit of a progressive rock kind of feel. The roots really go back to surf music.

CS: Alright so this has been a great story so far, because you obviously didn’t graduate into KCR and become an alumni that way, how did you come back to us?

CB: Let me back up with the surf music thing, because it all starts back with my love of surf music. When The Beatles came along and the British Invasion came along, surf music basically died out. Everything was about The Beatles and then it got into the psychedelic thing. And so you heard very little, all these surf bands just sort of folded up cause they weren’t making any money and they weren’t popular anymore. The Beatles were popular. But sometime around the late 80’s, there were a few surf bands that kinda started up in this resurgent genre of surf music. But then it really kinda kicked off in the 90’s with the movie Pulp Fiction. Tarantino put several surf songs in the soundtrack and it really started another big interest in surf music. Around that same time, I was sorta enlightened to surf music again. It was part of my childhood, I never forgot it cause I always liked that music, but it really took off again in the mid-90’s. And I discovered these surf bands were playing, modern surf bands, were playing at the Del Mar fair. I heard a surf band playing surf music and I was blown away, and I go “this is great!” And the more I researched it, started looking on the internet, well we didn’t have the internet back then, but went into the used record stores and things like that and I saw all these old surf bands and I collected more and more surf music. My love of surf music was sort of reborn back in the mid-90’s. So at that point, I had been associated with Joe Shrin, I had listened to Joe’s show in the early 80’s. My wife and I just got married, we moved to Poway, we could pull up KCR through our color television connection to our stereo. I think it was 98.6 or something like that. And every Saturday morning I would turn on his show because he played some great oldies, a lot of instrumentals and he had no commercials and that’s really what I liked about it was the fact that you could listen to an entire four hours of oldies without any commercials. Except for his goofy commercials that he plays. And so anyway I became friends with him over the years, I would call, make requests, I would call, talk about the music, and I started going to school here and I would go to the studio. So we became good friends and I was sitting in the studio one time and I was looking at the student schedule, the DJ schedule on the board, and it was half filled. There were holes everywhere, and I asked him, cause I had started to accumulate quite a collection of surf music, probably 50 to 100 cd’s of surf music, and I ask him “what would it take to get a slot here? I graduated from San Diego State a few years back, I’m an alumni, what would it take?” And so we looked into it and long story short I got a gig and I’ve been here ever since.

CS: Wow that’s awesome.

CB: That’s my story.

CS: It seems like Joe’s had quite an impact. Yeah I interviewed him a couple of months ago and he was full of interesting information.

CB: Yeah I read that. Joe, he loves this station and it really shows with his show, and his dedication.

CS: And so, you said you’ve been here since 2001, KCR as you said before was a lot more of an open space where you could do whatever you want. But it’s developed over the years, especially recently. How have you seen the changes that have gone on?

CB: Right, it was fun because back in the summertime it was pretty much Joe and I were the only ones doing a show. Being an alum and living in San Diego, we would come in every week regardless of whether school was in session or not. At the time since we didn’t have preprogrammed music to put on after our show if no DJ replaced us, like in the summertime for example. When I would leave the studio I would put on old recordings of Joe’s show and let it play until he came in on Saturday mornings and when he got done he would put on my shows and would play over and over until Thursday when I came in. So it was kind of funny that people heard a lot of Joe and Clint in those days. But now it’s nice to have this whole mix of music, and much better programed music I think with the way things are set up now. The station is run right now the best I’ve ever seen it in my 14 years that I’ve been here. It’s impressive what the student managers have done with the station in the last few years.

CS: Yeah we’ve undergone quite a change. I’ve only been here for three years and you can tell that we’re moving towards great content all the time instead of having great DJ’s like you but once a week. Which is fun for you guys, but we gotta fill out the 24 hours 7 days a week, man. So you play older records almost exclusively but is there anything that’s been grabbing your attention recently? It could be old songs that you just haven’t heard of before or newer stuff.

CB: Surf music is as popular now worldwide than it has ever been. There are bands literally from around the world that play surf music. One of the nice things about it is that since they’re all instrumentals you don’t have a language barrier. So there are bands in Japan and Europe and South America and even Russia. All over the world there are instrumental surf bands, and I will get cd’s from them constantly. I’ve gotten a few from Spain just recently and I wish I could remember the name of this on band that I just heard this week, for the first time and it just blew me away how good they are. It’s something that has continued to keep my interest. A lot of people who have listened to surf music without a real trained ear, without really getting into the genre, think it all sounds the same because it’s mainly drums and guitar and bass. Sometimes an organ will be thrown in, some bands will throw in a few horns. But a lot of people think it all sounds the same, but to me, and I know the difference between a lot of these bands, I can hear stuff that is really, really good. And those are modern surf bands that are just coming out, playing live right now.

CS: It’d be nice to hear some of them so if you send me the links I’d be happy to throw them up on the blog. So final question, I always like to end with this one, and I think you’ll have a very interesting answer since you’ve been here for so long, you’ve had a lot of time to hone your craft, but what would be a perfect show to your high standards? What would make you go from the studio and just say “man I just nailed that one!”?

CB: Well it’s funny because when we were in the other studio over where the associated student building is, back in the old Aztec Center it was a bigger studio and I could have live bands play and I did have a lot of band come in from around the world. I had a band from Japan, I’ve had a band from Spain, Belgium, a lot from the United States. I probably had about 20 band play live at one point or another. And having a live band play during the show is probably my favorite because it’s spontaneous, it’s live music happening right now going over the internet and it’s all generating from this little studio in KCR at San Diego State. Other than that a normal show now consists of me playing songs and trying to pronounce the names of the bands correctly especially if they’re in Spanish or something like that because my foreign language skills are atrocious. I strive to do a good show, I strive to cut the mistakes down to a minimum but I’m not a perfectionist say like Joe Shrin, who really, really strives for a good show every week. I realize that my listeners are fairly loyal, they’re those who like surf music as a nice little niche. Since you don’t get surf music everywhere, there are few stations who will play it consistently, I try to be there every week, I try to start on time and have everything ready to go and just a clean, smooth, and mistake free as possible show.

CS: Alright well sounds great. Thanks for sitting, or I guess we’re standing and doing this interview, it’s been great. Very informative, thanks.

CB: Well thank you Cameron, it’s been a pleasure.

After we were done, Clint and I walked together talking more about surf music, KCR, and his fascinating side projects that spawned from his visibility as one of the lone highly dedicated surf rock DJ’s out there. We had to part ways there as I headed to work.

A few days later Clint sent me a link of that one Spanish band he mentioned in the interview. Check them out here.

Remember to tune in to Clint’s show Instrumentals Only from 3-5 pm on KCR College Radio, the Sound of State.