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Cracker

Cracker

by John Noyd
August 2009

Formed in 1991 after David Lowery left cult icons Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker’s core consists of David and ace guitarist Johnny Hickman. The band’s relentless touring and sparkling wit have forged a guitar-driven style that incorporates blues and country with punk and rock -  most recently documented in the smart and invigorating, “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey.” Playing the Wisconsin State Fair August 14th, Johnny was kind enough to answer a few queries via email.
 
MI: Sharp writing and solid guitar work have always been stock in trade for Cracker who are your six string idols and literary heroes?

JH:  Thank you. Being a songwriter as well, I have to say that I can’t stand most guitar players. Most seem more concerned with showing off than with what works for the song. The most enduring guitar riffs have 3 or 4 notes. I like guitarists who sound a little disturbed like Joey Santiago from The Pixies or Jeff Beck. As far as literary heroes go, I’m attracted to a little madness there as well. Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy. David is fond of Thomas Pynchon and McCarthy.


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Tom Fuller Band live at the Triple M studio in Madison - photo by John McCally

Tom Fuller Band

by John Noyd
July 2009

To see Tom Fuller today one would never guess that little over ten years ago he was a solid cog in corporate America and had never written a song all the way through. From the streaked mod haircut to the purple granny glasses and matching sneakers Tom Fuller emanates rock and roll. Tamed danger prowling, the glam-punk poise echoing the bigger than life sound of his band a tight group both young and experienced, sharp and dedicated.

Ironically, after talking with Tom for over a half an hour the conversation was less about music than destiny and life’s spiritual journey. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that while Tom is the leader and songwriter for the Tom Fuller Band he is entirely self-taught beyond a few guitar lessons when he was nine. In fact, Tom says he’s a “song-crafter more than a writer.” “I write what I feel; my lyrics are always emotion-based.” His gut instinct guides him and serendipity has brought him an entourage of good fortune. “I know in the first twenty seconds if I’m going to like a song.” Immediate, intuitive and insistent, Tom also knows personalities and opportunities and has learned how to play them both with rock and roll nonchalance.


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I Fight Dragons

I Fight Dragons

by John Noyd
May 2009

Bratfest 2009, Saturday May 23rd - stage two, early afternoon; the six-headed monster that is I Fight Dragons grab their joysticks and commence to rock with old school video game samples, digitally modified vocals and fanboy fantasies of conquering worlds and getting all the girls. Smarmy and cynical, IFD’s boyish charms and killer riffs pick a part hearts and kick out the jams. “I just tried to keep the guiding principle that it had to be fun, joyous, and smart,” says lead vocalist Brian Mazzaferri. A glib, gleeful stew of polished geek-pop anthems, old school video gamer gambits and rockin’ smartass scholarship, IFD take their Super Mario soundbites, new wave power-ballad cravings and studio noodling to a whole other level.


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Birmingham, Alabama's Maria Taylor - photo by Autumn De Wilde

Maria Taylor

by John Noyd
April 2009

MARIA TAYLOR has had a full life. A multi-instrumentalist singer-song-writer born into a musical family Maria has been in bands and on the road for over half her life. Her third solo effort, “LadyLuck,” overflows with moving narratives and self-reflective stories. Performing April 21st at Madison’s High Noon Saloon, Maria was kind enough to answer some questions via email.


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Madison's classic 70's 10 Piece Disco Band VO5

VO5

by John Noyd
March 2009

To call VO5 a band may be slightly misleading; born four years ago, the nine-member collective is comprised of playwrights, engineers, film-makers, a firefighter and a doctor with musical resumes from Cherry Pop Burlesque to Swim Team and the Merkins. More than dance floor sequins and day-glo flares, VO5’s nostalgia is dipped in twenty-first century irony, their cheesy chic a release valve from reality. Strong with the power of the boogie, amateur ornithologist and band guitarist John Feith says, the band “simply aims to make people dance.”  Vocalist Kelly Murphy says, “Come down to a show and see for yourself.”

MAXIMUM INK: How did the band name come about?
Kelly : We are called VO5 because the world wasn’t quite ready for Nanopussy. 
John: We do still own www.nanopussy.us (try it, type it in…) if anybody is interested in renting that name for a high fee, along with www.boobatron.com
Kelly: The name also serves to call attention to our full, lustrous heads of hair.


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4099 ViewsPermalinkVO5 WebsiteVO5 MySpace

Bellydance Superstars - Petite Jamilla

by John Noyd
March 2009

Petite Jamilla has been belly dancing her entire life, bridging the generation gap between traditional folkloric style and modern belly dance fusion. Studying for over ten years, Jamilla toured the Southeast U.S. at fifteen, a seasoned instructor by seventeen, with two instructional DVDs before she turned twenty. A member of the BELLYDANCE SUPERSTARS for the past three years, Petite Jamilla was kind enough to answer a few questions in anticipation of her troupe’s arrival at Madison’s Union Theater on March 26th.

MAXIMUM INK: What are the biggest misconceptions about belly dance?

PETITE JAMILLA: Due to Hollywoods’ early depictions of ‘belly dancers’ I think the biggest misconception is that belly dance is done for exploitive and seductive reasons, but it really has become a self-exploratory and self-improvement tool for dancers in the U.S.


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Duncan Sheik

Duncan Sheik

by John Noyd
February 2009

MAXIMUM INK recently caught up with singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik hoping to break away from the panel discussions at the Sundance Film Festival to take in some snowboarding. Eleven years earlier Sheik found himself navigating an entirely different slippery slope. The single, “Barely Breathing,” from his self-titled debut stayed a record-setting fifty-five weeks on the charts and made him a Grammy-nominated pop star. A role, he admits, he was ill-suited to play.  “Call me lazy,” Sheik says, “but at the end of the day I prefer to be sitting in the audience than performing on stage.” Not satisfied continuing with the personal love songs of his debut, Sheik moved to narrative songs packed with elusive introspection, subtle themes and smart literary devices. At the same time he was feeling he was having less and less of an effect on his audience. Being in the spotlight was just not a natural setting for Sheik and yet his desire to create remained strong.


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Czech Republic's Plastic People of the Universe to play the Madison World Music festival

Madison World Music Festival 2008

by John Noyd
September 2008

Spread over two consecutive weekends in mid-September, Madison’s global gathering touches every point on the compass across Madison in every creative fashion imaginable. Syrian singer GAIDA, Indian guitarist PRASANNA and the psychedelic dub of Turkey’s BABA ZULA perform, dance, lead workshops and colorfully flavor UW’s campus, the Annex and the Willy Street Fair.


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English band Spiritualized

Spiritualized

by John Noyd
August 2008

As spokesman and songwriter for Spiritualized, Jason Pierce a.k.a. J. Spaceman, has no answers – which makes for a difficult subject to interview but a great artist to follow. Hard to pin down but happy to chat, a half hour on the phone with him brings a renewed enthusiasm for music’s power. He said, “You need to drag the music you love kicking and screaming into your life.” Believing simple is best and talent may well get in the way of good music, Pierce also claims there is no bag of tricks or formula to what he does. Relying on what he calls, “the meter in my head,” Pierce likes to see where things go in his attempts to write music that, “his band can’t hide behind.”


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Wisconsin bluesman Paul Filipowicz

Paul Filipowicz

by John Noyd
February 2008

Legendary Wisconsin Bluesman Paul Filipowicz talks about influences, Mongolia and his new album Chickenwire


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2970 ViewsPermalinkPaul Filipowicz Website
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