Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 17 - Corin Raymond Brings Music Back Home Again

If John Prine's debut holds a special place in your heart, you may fall head over heels in love with Corin Raymond's "There Will Always Be A Small Time". There's the self-deprecating sense of humor, wordplay that seems so simple until you try it and aw-shucks phrasing that tugs at the heart and burrows into the soul. The Toronto-based songwriter writes simple, direct songs that make a pure, straight connection from artist to listener.

"There Will Always Be A Small Time" celebrates shared moments in small rooms, a million stars of varying brightness shining "when the nine-to-fivers go to bed". Raymond sees a rising star ("Nearly everywhere I go I hear you on the radio") and while sending well wishes, also leaves out the welcome mat for a return "now and then". He's ready for his big break (should it come), but if it doesn't come he can still play the local every Thursday night. It's a woe-is-me tale without the woe, just the belief that the song will always endure, no matter when and where it is sung.

"Music's come back home again
Nowadays we're playing in the parlors
Like the way they used to do
Oh the big times they are a-changing fast
The only thing that's gonna last
Is that folks like us sing songs for folks like you"

Hat tip and thanks to the wonderful songs:illinois blog for the illumination.

Corin Raymond - Blue Mermaid Dress
Corin Raymond's cd seems to be only available at cdbaby as far as I can tell.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 16 - The Baseball Project - 30 Doc

Teenage Kicks salutes Roy Halladay, who last night threw the 20th perfect in major league history. Even goofy mascot Billy the Marlin is excited (check out the video at 0:19), and his team just lost 1-0.

Teenage Kicks also wishes the Phillies a speedy recovery from their monstrous hitting malaise.

The Baseball Project - 30 Doc

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 15 - Miles Nielsen's "Gravity Girl"

Sometimes the inbox brings a totally unexpected, left-field treat. Today it's Miles Nielsen's "Gravity Girl", that stakes its claim to the melody-drenched americana the Bodeans perfected on their still-classic debut. Miles Nielsen also happens to be the son of Rick Nielsen, grand poobah of the still-great power pop masters Cheap Trick. I like Nielsen's own description of his music, which he calls " Beatle-esque Cosmic Americana". In an alternate universe, this would be the feel good hit of the summer, a stunner of a pop song.

"Gravity Girl" is taken from Miles Nielsen's debut cd, Miles, available at CD Baby, itunes and

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 14 - Six Degrees of Black Sabbath

Ever wanted to find the connection from Yanni to Slayer (11 steps), from Michael Jackson to Joe Jackson (4 steps), Black Sabbath to Black Crowes (6 steps), Abba to Frank Zappa (12 steps) of from Bruce Springsteen to The Hold Steady (16 steps!)?
Or how about grizzled roots rockers Bodeans to indie hipsters Broken Bells (12 steps, including Noodle)?

Check out this new parlor game, Six Degrees of Black Sabbath, that should be reason # 2 that we are all thankful for the internet.
Broken Bells - Vaporize
Bodeans - Say Goodbye
Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 13 - "Thirteen"

This one knocked me out today on the ipod today - Beth Orton and Sam Amidon pay heartfelt, off-the-cuff tribute to Alex Chilton with this gorgeous cover.

I found this at the Radio Free Song Club - a writers' workshop (on deadline!) for new, original songs from Freedy Johnston, Peter Holsapple, Freakwater, Laura Cantrell, Dave Schramm and a handful of others. There are some gems... and the price is right.

And god bless Alex Chilton.

Beth Orton & Sam Amidon - "Thirteen"
Big Star - "Thirteen"
Elliott Smith - "Thirteen"
Wilco - "Thirteen"
Evan Dando - "Thirteen"
Mary Lou Lord - "Thirteen"
The Resentments - "Thirteen"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 12 - Two New Arcade Fire Songs

Pitchfork reported earlier today that two new Arcade Fire songs had leaked, and now it already seems like old news. The first song "Suburbs" has a Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues vibe with a Bowie-ish falsetto chorus. After two listens, I think I like it.

The second song ("Month May") gets your pulse racing in a whoosh of feedback, a curt 1-2-3-4 into a fuzzed rush of punk energy. After two listens, I'm sure I love it. But some of the lyrics make me think this may be relegated to a b-side.

"Gonna make a record in the month of May,
In the month of May, in the month of May
Gonna make a record in the month of May
When the violent wind blows the wires away"

"Teenage Kicks was asked to remove the links to the two new Arcade Fire songs, which we have done on 6/11/10."

This One Hurts: De-Face The Music

Say it ain't so...


I'm ok with Matlock on bass - since it can't be Ronnie Lane, does it really matter who's playing bass? But despite his abysmal track record over the last 30 years, it's got to be Rod if you're going to call it The Faces.

The Faces with Rod Stewart were maybe the rock-and-roll-iest of all rock bands, and Rod Stewart belongs near the top of any list of rock's greatest front men. Mick Hucknall would be a little further down that list.

Thanks Woody, Kenney and Mac - you've done the heretofore unthinkable - you've made Rod Stewart look like the sensible one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 11 - Titus Andronicus A More Perfect Union

Titus Andronicus' new album The Monitor proves once again that rock and roll will always be a young man's game. It's audacious, it's spastic, it's raw, it's jam packed with vein-busting emotion, it's pissed and it takes the piss, and to top it off they're from New Jersey and recall the detached brilliance of Pavement and the casual cacophony of The Replacements when they mattered most.

Titus Andronicus are also a pop culture historian's wet dream, as they drop references to Abraham Lincoln, Paul Simon, New York to Boston public transportation, the civil war, minor and major league baseball, Billy Bragg, Bruce Springsteen (natch), The Heartbreakers, The Hold Steady, New Jersey, slavery, a couple of nods to Somerville (MA), the Confederate president Jefferson Davis, old folk song "John Brown's Body" whose melody was later used in the also referenced "Battle Hymn of The Republic", reckless New Jersey driving and the pro-Union Civil War rally monkey "Battle Cry of Freedom" (adapted over 100 years later by the same Billy Bragg in "There is Power In A Union"). And that's just the first song, the absolutely mesmerizing "A More Perfect Union" which moves from a punk rock spleen venting to a Gaelic reel before ending with an no-holds-barred quote from William Lloyd Garrison, a staunch, outspoken abolitionist, whose daring anti-slavery speech has been co-opted by many politicians over the years.

Take a listen as they rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Titus Andronicus - "A More Perfect Union"

Titus Andronicus - "Titus Andronicus Forever"

Titus Andronicus - "Titus Andronicus"

Pete Seeger - "John Brown's Body"

Judy Garland - "The Battle Hymn of The Republic"

The Harvesters - "Battle Cry of Freedom"

Billy Bragg - "There is Power in A Union"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day Ten - Maybe Every Record Should Include A Song Called "I Want You Back"

Hot on the heels of Michael's declaration that "Love Is" is the finest two-word phrase to begin a song title outside of any that begins with the first-person singular, I submit that no song title in rock and roll has been better served that "I Want You Back". With the recent release of the four song EP Let It Slip (and imminent release of debut full length Loveless Unbeliever) from Welsh heartbreakers The School, "I Want You Back" claims its fourth different great song by that title.

There is the Jackson Five's sizzling "I Want You Back", one of the greatest 5 singles of all-time (you can argue over the other four), the Plimsouls' "I Want You Back", their garage rock stomp nugget from their debut, the Hoodoo Gurus jangle pop classic "I Want You Back" from Stoneage Romeos and now the School's fluttery sunshine pop soon-to-be-classic "I Want You Back".

For those that find a combination of the Shirelles, Belle & Sebastian, the Go-Gos, and Camera Obscura irresistible (I'm looking at you Mark X and Mezz), I guarantee you will love Loveless Unbeliever.

The School - I Want You Back
Jackson Five - I Want You Back
Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back
The Plimsouls - I Want You Back

Love Is All Around

Recently, for reasons too mundane to recount here, I set iTunes to play songs in alphabetical order, and in the “Love” section I determined that “Love Is” is the finest two-word phrase to begin a song title outside of any that begins with the first-person singular. “Love Is” songs kept coming in waves. Consider this sampling:

“Love Is a Long Road,” Tom Petty
“Love Is a Losing Game,” Amy Winehouse
“Love Is All I Am,” Dawes
“Love Is Alright Tonite,” Rick Springfield
“Love Is For Lovers,” The dB’s
“Love Is Here to Stay,” Ella Fitzgerald
“(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave,” Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
“Love Is Like Oxygen,” Sweet
“Love Is Strong,” The Rolling Stones
“Love Is the Answer,” Utopia
“Love Is the Drug,” Roxy Music
“(Love Is) The Tender Trap,” Frank Sinatra

In addition to pondering the many contradictory things that Love Is, it led me, while searching for comparably fertile two-word phrases, to discover that in rock and roll the only thing that trumps love is narcissism. Because if you want to find the top competition for “Love Is,” you must find I. As in “I’m A” (Believer, Boy, Man, Lady, Loser, Lover, Rocker), “I Can’t” (Get No Satisfaction, Get Next to You, Stand Up for Falling Down, Turn You Lose, Take It, Stand It, Explain, Help Myself, Live Without My Radio, Quit You Baby), “I Wanna” (Be Adored, Be Ignored, Be Loved, Be Sedated, Be Your Boyfriend, Be Your Dog, Be Your Lover, Destroy You, Make Love To You, Marry You, Roo You), and it’s close cousin “I Want” (You, You to Want Me, You Back, A Hippopotamus For Christmas, Candy, A Little Sugar in My Bowl, To Be an Anglepoise Lamp, To Hold Your Hand, To See the Bright Lights Tonight, To Take You Higher, To Tell You).

As a thought experiment, for the next week I plan to listen only to “Love Is,” “I’m A,” “I Can’t,” “I Wanna” and “I Want” songs and see whether I miss the rest. I’ll report back.

Tom Petty gets his Zep on

I have heard two tunes from the forthcoming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album Mojo, and both are snarling guitar manifestos propelled by the extraordinary Mike Campbell. This one is called "I Should Have Known It." And it is awesome.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day Nine - Kingsley Flood's Righteous Racket

There is a romantic sweep to Dust Windows, the 11 track debut from Boston-based Kingsley Flood, that skips on the rural references that color most americana releases. The disc is splashed with rousing fiddle, muted horns and galloping, ghostly guitar, but this is city music played with passion, mixing the un-harried lilt that recalls prime Jayhawks with the fist pumping charge of The Alarm. There is no pretense as Kingsley Flood whips up a righteous racket, taking on moral complacency ("Cul de Sac"), nature versus nature and original win ("Roll of The Dice") and especially on the hymn-like plea "Cathedral Walls" that recalls that stately grace of The Band circa Big Pink.

Kingsley Flood - Cul-de-Sac
Kingsley Flood - Cathedral Walls

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day Eight - Phosphorescent is Dead to Me

Would it be heresy to suggest that Here's To Taking It Easy. the new Phosphorescent album, reminds me of the Grateful Dead? Not the Dead of endless 37 minute jams, not disco Dead, and certainly not "Space" Dead, but the Dead that created the dual americana landmarks Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. The thin, reedy but effective vocals, the reigned in playing, the gentle gallop that powers the songs - it's all 1970 Dead.

So check out Phosphorescent - are they Dead to you?

Phosphorescent - It's Hard to Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)

Phosphorescent - Heaven, Sittin' Down

Short concert note - I saw Phosphorescent a couple weeks ago and lead singer and major domo Matthew Houck had a real insouciant, swaggering stage presence that really helped put across these new songs. Plus he couldn't have been kinder to the beyond drunk college beard who stood right in front of his face and kept shouting stuff at him between songs. Houck must have given that kid 25 high fives, each one a high wire act of diplomacy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day Seven - Alejandro Escovedo Has Gotta Have Faith

Talk about truth in advertising -the new Alejandro Escovedo album, Street Songs of Love, drops June 29 on Concord Records. It seems the touchstones for Escovedo's muse these days are the thousand band march of garage rock 1967, the pun rock fury of 1977 and the neo-traditionalist country revival movement of 1987.
Check out the scorching "Faith", where Alejandro is able to coax duet partner Bruce Springsteen's rock and roll voice to rise from the ashes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day Six - Butch Walker's All Night Party

How is Butch Walker not a huge star? He makes inventive albums that straddle genres, he's witty and a little snarky, he wears his heart on his sleeve, he apparently gorged at the all you can eat melody buffet and he's got the elegantly wasted good looks that drive the young girls crazy. And five albums into a slow-building solo career, he's still getting better.

Walker and his band, The Black Widows, played an exuberant set last night to crowd made up mostly of freshly scrubbed tattooed girls who knew (and sang along with) every word to every song. Walker's made his mark mostly as a producer and songwriter for others (Avril Lavigne, Pink, Pete Yorn, Fall Out Boy, Weezer and the All-American Rejects), so his pop instincts are impeccable. Opening solo at the piano, Walker launched into a dramatic reading of an obscure Marvelous 3 song "Cigarette Lighter Love Song", and the faithful were already rewarded.

The night was heavily weighted to songs of despair and unrequited love, though there were certainly a couple of requited love songs too. Drawing heavily on the brand new I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart and 2008's Sycamore Meadows, Walker exhibited an endearing awkwardness (admitting to one too many pre-show shots) and a willingness to play all night (he was apparently steamed that tonight's New York show had to end by 10:30 to make room for roller disco). He seamlessly segued a snippet of James' lusty "Laid" into his equally carnal "Taste of Red".

The night ended with a banjo-fied "Rich Girl" (Walker was happy to be able to play it in Hall & Oates hometown) and a roof-raising, arena-rocking "Hot Girls in Good Moods", which accurately took the temperature of the room. Walker has star quality, and as always, the little girls understand.

Butch Walker - Trash Day

Butch Walker - Pretty Melody

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day Five - JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound Cover Wilco

I've given Wilco the short shrift since Summerteeth. I believe that had Yankee Hotel Foxtrot come out as originally planned on Reprise, it would have been perceived as a failed experiment. Getting dropped by Reprise was the best thing that ever happened to Wilco. Instead of an indulgent, erratic attempt to merge classic rock and art rock, the band became a cause celebre and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot an indie touchstone, Pitchfork's emperor's new clothes.

I bring this up only because I believe it's time to re-evaluate "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart", which opens YHF as a sprawling mess but recently has been turned upside down into a soul stomp classic by Chicago RnB band, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. It's really quite a wonderful song, given the proper treatment. Check it out and see.

JC Brooks And The Uptown Sound - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"

Wilco - "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day Four - Dave Woodcock And The Dead Comedians

Dave Woodcock and The Dead Comedians are a bunch of pasty-faced Sheffield bar hounds that slither out at night, burrowing up from the gates of heartbreak hell (just look at those somber mugs!). But instead of a po-faced dour plod, the Dead Comedians attack songs of booze, regret and wanderlust with a freewheeling, growling cockiness that recalls the timeless americana of the Low Anthem with a little Waits-ian phlegmatic noir without the carny sounds.

But make no mistake - this is rock and roll band that takes its cues from outlaw country and spits out liberating, working class music that finds Woodcock's bruised and battered lyrics ("Oh well I think I just need someone/ to come and cheer me up / Oh well that someone, it could be you / Yeah I think I need someone for to come and cheer me up / Oh well that someone might as well be you") ably matched with a world weary delivery that alternately wallows and uplifts. Imagine The National with a little less angst, a little more dirt under their fingernails, a little less of a stick up their arse.

One piece of advice - ditch the name.

Dave Woodcock and The Dead Comedians - "That Won't Bring You Back"
Dave Woodcock and The Dead Comedians - "City Lights"

Take a look at Dawes

We take pause here from Trip's 56-day run to consider Dawes, whose album North Hills has resided firmly atop my personal playlist for several weeks now. No record I've heard in recent years better approximates the feel of The Band's Northern Lights, Southern Cross, one of the finest, warmest, deepest, widest expressions of Americana ever put to tape, and the comparison is apt right down to the Manuel/Danko vocals that permeate the disc. Dawes has just released a video for "When My Time Comes," which (to date) is the album's best-known song, and perhaps my least favorite (though it's still pretty damn good). Enjoy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day Three - Free Energy's Bang Pop

Free Energy "Bang Pop" Music Video

FREE ENERGY MySpace Music Videos

Free Energy's video for "Bang Pop" was released via MySpace today and it's two-bit homage to Rock 'N' Roll High School, every John Hughes movie ever made and cheesy, late night soft-core porn (so I've heard). In other words, it's the greatest video ever made.

Free Energy's just released debut packs a mountain of sugary hooks with obvious nods to T. Rex ("Dream City"') and the entire Poptopia series. But "Bang Pop's" fuzzy guitar intro seems to draw divine inspiration from 70's Bay City Rollers' spin-off Pilot and their majestic one hit "Magic". Check it out and see for yourself.

Free Energy - "Bang Pop"

Free Energy - "Free Energy"

Pilot - "Magic"

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day Two - Mumford And Sons Banjo Soul

They've been described as "hillbilly Coldplay", "Coldplay with banjos" and weakly savaged by Pitchfork, but Mumford and Sons is surprisingly selling out club shows across America (including tonight's TLA show on South St.) without the benefit of the usual trappings of success, like airplay, signifiicant sales and widespread critical acclaim.

But look past the quaint name, the hobo getups and the galloping banjo (two banjo bands in a row!), and listen to the performances. Mumford and Sons have fashioned a nu-folk classic that finds the middle ground between Fairport Convention and David Gray. The new sheen production washes over old school playing, delving into spiritual matters of the heart and soul. Lead singer Marcus Mumford emotes as much as he sings, but the real power is when all four voices blend into a flannel choir.

Let's say an Anglo Fleet Foxes with more angst, less reverb... and way more banjo.

Mumford And Sons - Awake My Soul

Mumford And Sons - Dance, Dance, Dance (Neil Young cover)

Mumford And Sons - Cousins (Vampire Weekend cover)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day One - Horse Feathers' Sad Songs

Beginning with a soft, tinkling piano, then gently supplemented by cello, the title track to Horse Feathers' latest album Thistled Spring, lays down beside you like a sleepy friend on a warm, breeze-less summer day. Justin Ringle's vocals sound like someone caught between deep contemplation and reverie. The song swirls and delicately builds until you could swear it's the coda to the saddest musical ever written, but it's done so beautifully you won't be able to pull yourself away, especially after these opening lines:

"An old love of mine to wed the worst man she finds
A blossom that's bloomed, in a house that's a tomb
trapped in the rhododendron fumes"

The entire album works as a piece to be heard together, by yourself, with no sharp objects in close proximity. It's elegant chamber folk scored by a small-scale appalachian orchestra. Riveting stuff.

Also included as a day one bonus is their stunning take on Gillian Welch's "Orphan Girl".

Horse Feathers - "Thistled Spring"

Horse Feathers - "Orphan Girl"

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm Going After DiMaggio

69 years ago tomorrow, Joe Di Maggio unknowingly started what would become one of the most beloved, unassailable achievements in modern sports. He collected a base hit in 56 straight baseball games. It's a testament to skill and perseverance that remains an iconic feat today, even as bigger, faster players who manipulate their bodies in any way imaginable to gain a competitive edge fail to come close to matching this feat.

I am taking on DiMaggio. I am taking a run at that hallowed streak. I will attempt to clip the Yankee Clipper, to jolt Joltin' Joe. My pursuit will not be a testament to skill and perseverance, but to simple-mindedness. My goal - post at least one song per day for at least 56 days. Furthermore, each song will be one I heard for the first time in 2010. That could mean mostly tunes by hirsute amerciana sad bastards or low-minute mileage (power) pop tunes, but that doesn't mean I won't try to sneak a Joe South fastball or a Charlie Rich cutter by you.

I will also valiantly try to match DiMaggio's . 408 average during the streak (for non-math majors, only 4 out of every 10 songs needs to be a hit). And if is correct (and seriously, how could they not be?), I only need to hit 15 home runs during this onslaught.

Play ball!

Les Brown & His Orchestra (featuring Betty Bonney) - Joltin' Joe DiMaggio

Tommy Keene - My Mother Looked Like Marilyn Monroe

Simon & Garfunkel - Mrs. Robinson

Bruce Springstone - Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ike Reilly Interview... & In Town Saturday!!!

Preparing to hit the road for a short tour to support his excellent new album, we caught up with Ike Reilly to discuss Hard Luck Stories, songwriting, Shooter Jennings and American Idol.

The Ike Reilly Assassination will be appearing this Saturday, May 8, at The Khyber. If you only see one show this year, this is the one to see. Seriously, this is the hands-down club show of the year. If you show, the Ike Reilly Assassination will kill you and I'll buy you a beer (unless your name is Allen, Kurt, Feeney, Scott or Eric - you fuckers can get your own).

Ike will also run you ragged on the basketball court.

Q: The new album is different than Staggering Evening - there's not quite as much guitar but yet it rocks just as hard. Was that a conscious decision to dial back on the guitar?

A: I think, because I was working on it alone a lot, and I'm such a shitty guitar player, that it probably came out that way.

Q: The album seems to start off with a couple of lost love songs..

A: The first song ("Morning Glory") is just a groove. I really like that one. The second song ("7 Come 11") is my old chip on the shoulder doorman song. I worked as a doorman at the Hyatt for years and I found some lyrics on the front seat of a car from this guy that was an actual musician and I read them and I thought they had a real us against them thing. And I thought "those are some shitty lyrics". It's essentially about being judged for being poor and knowing you got more talent than anyone. And it's silly too. I say "sad life in airplanes don't mean that much to me". "Sad Life in Airplanes" was the name of that guy's song. "If I was writing poems they'd be for you" and "if you had pain to take away, I'd lay up on the train tracks and let the wheels cut me to ribbons". And then I say "You'd have to tie the ribbons of my body in your hair and carry me around". Kinda weird.

Q: "Lights Out" seems pretty autobiographical.

A: Absolutely... in a funny kind of way. I was singing that song to my brother, the opening lines (sings "It won't be long till the money's all gone and the trucks roll in and shut the power down") and he was laughing. It's about a guy who loses his family, his kid becomes a hip-hop star, and he shoots him.

Q: I hope that's not totally autobiographical.

A: That's what happens in the song.

Q: "The War on The Terror and The Drugs" doesn't sound like the title reads. It seems to promise something altogether different than what gets delivered. How did you hook up with Shooter Jennings?

A: I was on tour with Tom Morello a couple of years ago and me and Shooter became good friends and I wrote a couple of songs for him - one which I think is going to be a single on his next record. And then I wrote this and thought it would be a great duet for us and he did too. And it is - it's one of my favorite recordings I've ever done.

Q: Who's taking on the terror and who's taking on the drugs?

A: The whole war on terror and drugs is nebulous. It's a joke. These guys and their sloganeering. The song's just about girls and a mythical place and feeling guilty and thinking about your kids and partying. There's a poignant section in there when the girl I'm with asks me to tell her the last dream I had and I dream about my family. On one of the podcasts, I tell a story about playing that song for Shooter. You know he's married to Drea de Matteo, and she was videotaping us and when I sung that verse, she started to cry and it was pretty cool, cause I did too. She was holding their baby and videotaping us as we were rehearsing the song out on their patio. I wanted to do a duet kinda like Louis Armstrong did with Bing Crosby and Waylon and Willie did. And to do it with Shooter - I just love the guy - we are really good friends. I think the friendship comes across on there.

Q: In your writing, you seem to balance the personal and political, the sacred and the profane. Political songwriting is usually deathly boring. You seem to have a real empathy for these characters. Guys like the returning vet in "Girls in the Back Room"

A: I don't think that's political, I think that's just humanistic. I'm not saying stop the war, or fight the war or anything. I agree with you - general political music is fucking boring and grandstanding and it doesn't interest me. [My songwriting] is more of an empathy towards people. I can write a song that has an effective chorus that sounds like it's about girls, but it's really about that one character. That's what that song's about - how he's viewed by the girls in the back room. I guess whether I was a songwriter or not, I would still feel for that person if I saw him.

Q: Is he the same guy from "Broken Parakeet Blues"?

A: Absolutely.

Q: The drug dealer getting busted (in "The Ballad of Jack and Haley") is heartbreaking...

A: It is and yet it was supposed to be funny. It is heartbreaking, I guess. The point of the song - you do what you gotta do. He makes a huge mistake and sacrifice. As a parent, you're trying to make a decision all the time - whether it's selling drugs or going to make money out on tour. While I'm gone, my kid's gonna get wrapped up in shit 'cause I was gone? It's about compromise. What do you do? Do you provide? Do you sacrifice your own success or your own security to be around? It could be anything.

Q: My entry into your music was lyrically but you seem to have an endless supply of inventive melodies. Where does the inspiration come from? Is it a thrill writing a great verse, finding the perfect melody or watching the two come together in the studio? Or is it knocking a crowd on its ass?

A: Not to disappoint you, none of it's that thrilling. It's cathartic and I do it and I like it, but the real thrill for me is getting out there with my friends. It's not on the forefront of my mind all the time, almost never, except when I have to do it. But my favorite thing about it is that I get to travel around with my friends and play and hang out. We talk about touring all the time and we never, ever talk about shows. Never. Never talk about music.

Q: What a lot of folk consider the grind, the time in between shows, is a big thrill for you?

A: Absolutely. We like playing and it's cool but once I write a song and record it, I've pretty much had it with it. I don't have an emotional attachment to any art that I've produced.

Q: That's interesting because much of your writing is emotional, so there must have been some emotional attachment initially?

A: I think that's true. There are times when I'm performing when I will revisit that emotion and I'd say I'm better at that now, but I compartmentalize it. If somebody took my music and destroyed it and I couldn't remember it again, I wouldn't be heartbroken.

Q: That's a different philosophy than most musicians.

A: I'm like that with possessions as well. The only things I really give a fuck about are people, friends and family. I'm not sentimental in that way.

Q: Your debut (Salesmen And Racists) starts off with the line "Last time I couldn't make you cum" and that's a unique view from a rock and roller.

A: That song wasn't even going to be on the record and the label heard it, put it on the record and made it the first single and it never got played and then I got dropped. That was my experience with a record label. I wouldn't even have put that song on a record. There are times when I like to play it but I don't play it much. I didn't know much about marketing and when the guy says "this is the song", I never expected that to be single and I said "Wow... that's going to be on the radio?" We had songs like "Commie Drives A Nova", "Put A little Love in It" and "Hail Hail" and they're gonna put that song on the radio?

Q: So then it was on to Rock Ridge for Sparkle in The Finish?

A: Sparkle in the Finish was the first record that Rock Ridge put out. Rock Ridge was started by an executive who left Universal right after I did and said he'd put out anything I did. His name's Tom Derr. Now they've had about 100 releases out, they're distributed through Warner Brothers. They're not a label that's bound by any one artistic style, but they're a successful label and they're doing a nice job.

Q: What can you tell me about the Spook Brady Sessions?

A: Those were the demos for Salesmen and Racists. Some of those recordings were the same recordings that wound up on Salesmen And Racists. We should have just put that out as it was, it was really cool.

Q: Any interest in writing a novel? Your songs seem to lend themselves to that kind of treatment? Is that something you've thought about?

A: Yeah, kind of. I don't know about a novel, but I'm more interested in film really than books. I think with songs, although this writer dude [Steve Almond] told me this is not true, it's easier to put so much information in such a short amount of time and words. I told him that songs are the easiest, they're the quickest things to write and that I could never write a book. I'd lose interest in a second. For my attention span, songs are good. To answer your question, I write scenes and dialogue a lot. I could probably write a longer piece about every song I ever wrote. I am very interested in film in every capacity, from being a director to being an actor, to writing them. I love film, I love stories.

Q: What movie should have had an Ike Reilly soundtrack?

A: I don't know. I've had plenty of songs in movies but I haven't written any specifically for movies. I would like to do that too.

Q: Joe Strummer leaves an answering machine message that leads into "Hip Hop thighs # 16" on Poison The Hit Parade. Was he a friend of yours? An influence?

A: I love The Clash. They're my favorite band of all time. And I like Joe. I shouldn't say I was good friends with him. I got to play with him and I hung out with him way before I was a musician when he was in Chicago. I was impressed by him and I was jealous that my friend Tom Morello got to induct The Clash into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Q: Any plans yet to follow-up this record?

A: I'm not planning one yet, but I'm sure I'll have one. I got a lot of shit ready to go. If I walked in the studio right now, I'd start a record.

Q: Do you have a home studio?

A: It's not like a home studio, it's a real studio. I live in an old hunting lodge, and so I moved the studio here from the city about six years ago. It's in the part of my house that used to be a bar for the hunters.

Q: You got rid of the bar?

A: No, the bar's still... we didn't get rid of the bar, but we put the recording equipment around it. People make records here. Brendan O'Shea's an Irish singer living in New York - he just recorded here.

Q: Isn't he name dropped in "When Irish Eyes Are Burning"?

A: Yeah, he's a good friend of mine from Ireland and me and him were in this band called The Drovers years ago.

Q: Is he one of the guys pictured in the Staggering Evening booklet?

A: No, that's one of my rugby teams. Did you see (Chris) Farley next to me? There's another guy next to him named Matt Foley who's a priest now. Matt Foley is the character Farley did on Saturday Night Live. Matt Foley is from Libertyville and he and I grew up together and Farley and I met in college and then we played rugby together. When I first started playing music, he would emcee. We had a funny fucking group of dudes, man.

Q: Now "Irish Eyes are Burning"... now there's a movie.

A: A lot of that shit is true. I did get in a fight. I was with my wife, she wasn't my wife then, and I was just about to get the shit kicked out of me and then all these guys came up to the next movie in our hometown and bailed me out.

Q: At the Violent Femmes show?

A: No, that's a different story. Each verse is a different story. This was actually going to the movie theater in Libertyville.

Q: As a veteran musician, what do you think about American Idol?

A: I feel like I'm from another planet when I see it. I can't even really comment because I look at it and have so little interest in it, and it kinda makes me sick. For many different reasons - it exploits all these people that shouldn't be exploited. You get what you want - it celebrates fame instead of talent.

Q: Did you have certain commercial expectations when you made this record?

A: My expectations are all gone now. I expect to make great records and I consider what I do original and I think my band is one of the best bands in the world, in rock and roll, but I have no expectations. I turn on the TV and I see Dancing With the Stars and American Idol and I realize that it is what it is. I mean, I know that I'm going to affect people. I don't know how many. Would I love us to be more successful? Would I like people to have better taste? Fuck yeah. I have expectations. I'm working harder - I'm more involved on this record than I ever have. I've been doing podcasts, radio shows, and getting more feedback from doing them than I ever have.

Ike Reilly (with Shooter Jennings) - The War On the Terror and The Drugs

Ike Reilly Assassination - Hip Hop Thighs # 17