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Devil To Drag Vs. Eddie Ate Dynamite

Madcity Nights - March 2015

Show previews in Madison, Wisconsin for March 2015
by Max Ink
March 2015

Previews of shows all over the Madcity throughout March and early April


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Dead Rider

Dead Rider

An interview with Todd Rittmann
by Dan Vierck
March 2015

Dead Rider Will Take You Where They Want to Go.

When I asked guitarist and vocalist of Dead Rider, Todd Rittmann, if there was a slogan or marketing pitch for their next release, a 7” single on Drag City records, he said ‘No.’

2014’s Chills on Glass (Drag City) is a dark behemoth. It’s an album that leads you somewhere you’re not sure you want to go. The music beckons and roils. Each song has an echo of familiarity, but they all tumble from beginning to end inside a horror movie fun house kaleidoscope. Rittmann’s voice is dry but with a bite; a little bitter with pronounced hops if you’re a beer person. When a song or the album is over, if nothing else, you’ll have a great story to tell your grandchildren.

The quartet assembled around 2009, and released two albums on Tizona Records previous to Chills on Glass. Rittmann is the lynchpin member, joined by Andrea Faught on keys and trumpet, Thymme Jones on keys, and Matt Espy on percussion. They are an incredibly tight unit, capable of the tightest grooves and the most intense, purposeful slash and burn noise barrages. Dead Rider’s music is not the soundtrack to William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, but they might be a band born of that world. Intellectual by design, they retain primitive but carefully considered inconsistencies in their execution. If David Byrne were possessed by the ghost of Kurt Cobain, Dead Rider would be the best case scenario for any music that came from that. If the devil himself were sauntering up to you, playing good cop, swinging hand cuffs of fire around his long ashy finger, Dead Rider would be the soundtrack to that scene in your biopic. Rittmann seems to have rationalized his tumult and harnessed but not broken his neurosis. The heat of the music is pure, but it is also incredibly focused.

Rittmann was kind enough to talk with me about the history and momentum behind the band, as well as what he hopes an audience gets from a performance.

Maximum Ink: You said in another interview that you want to drive the audience crazy. Where does that come from?
Todd Rittmann: People need to be woken up and driven crazy. There’re too many things in this world that massage your expectations, and we’re not into fulfilling your expectations.

MI: Are there things you won’t do in Dead Rider? And is it because you don’t want to, or because you don’t think the audience would appreciate it?
TR: We don’t do a lot of thinking about what the audience – in quotes – might prefer to hear. I think that’s an artistic trap, and it’s not even our motivation for doing this in the first place. We just want to blow our own minds. Generally we’ll steer away from things we’re already familiar with and super-comfortable with. We’re trying to take everyone in a ride out of their comfort zone – including ourselves. But I don’t want to paint the picture like we’re creating completely abstract noise. We like to keep one foot in that traditional rock form, and that helps provide some contrast and a jumping off point for some of the other ideas.


Madison's Dogs of War on the cover of Maximum Ink for March 2015

Dogs of War

by Teri Barr
March 2015

Imagine a band, and all five of its members bringing different skills, styles, and goals to the project. It would sound like a fusion of hip-hop, rap, metal, rock, and blues. And its name would be—Dogs of War. This Madison-based group is a year in the making, but the individuals have been part of the scene with various well-known acts. Yet, Dogs of War is the one already being called cool, unique, bridging divides, and destined for something bigger. One of its founders, Dexter “Tefman” Patterson, took time to answer a few of my questions, including why it can be good to flaunt your differences, and how the band’s efforts can’t be defined.

Maximum Ink: This new project brings together some broad talents. Can you tell us more about Dogs of War?
Dexter “Tefman” Patterson:
Well, w’s so great about the Dogs of War is the diversity in our musical backgrounds.Vincent “Samhain Bane” Spruill and I are the two emcees for the band. We are also the co-founders of the award-winning veteran hip-hop group The L.O.S.T S.O.U.L.S. There’s also Anthony Salas on Guitar/Lead Vocals, David Payne on drums, and Dustin “D” Harmon on bass. They are incredibly skilled and bring rock, punk, heavy metal, and more as their influences.


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Ben Chasny

Six Organs of Admittance

Ben Chasny discusses his new album and musical strategy
by John Noyd
March 2015

It is helpful to have an open mind when encountering Six Organs of Admittance’s driving force, guitar-strategist Ben Chasny. Through a career that is as prolific as it is eclectic, Chasny’s teen-age folk roots carried him through a labyrinth of styles, from hyperbolic-baroque to psychedelic wrecking-balls gnarled in cosmic jazz. From Brit-folk dream-weaver Nick Drake to free-jazz action-guitarist Rudolph Grey his influences tend towards the daring and his ability to synthesize these experimental elements into intriguing treats is the cornerstone of his revered standing among the adventurous. A restless spirit through and through Chasny has written for underground films and audiobooks, banded together with like-minded players from sonic noise-makers Comets on Fire to the recent jangle-folk poets The New Bums and forged a fondness for left-hand turns and abstract catastrophes into a solid body of trail-blazing amplified six-string bewilderment.

When reviewing his musical wanderlust in a phone conversation, a modest Chasny admitted to MAXIMUM INK he feels super-lucky to have been granted a life that nurtures his curiosity as well as provide him with so many talented friends. Although he also admitted his latest experiment became a Six Organs project somewhat by default when some of his friends declined to answer the emails he sent discussing his musical theories regarding computation science, game theory and paradigm shifts. Others of course were intrigued. Setting a deadline to transform his Hexadic pre-compositions into recorded songs, proactive procrastinator Chasny tackled this challenge enlisting drummer Noel Von Harmononson as what he called the signal-giver, and bassists Rob Fisk and Charlie Saufley. A behemoth work, the resulting whale-swallowing album will not surprise long-time fans who appreciate Chasny’s meta tendencies, but still manages to open up new abstract territories.

Citing the Surrealist parlor games of unmediated chance from the twenties as inspiration, Chasny invented a means to randomly assign tonal fields and intervals using an ordinary deck of playing cards to outline what notes were fair game and in what time span they could be played. As the cards were dealt into six sections he called it the Hexadic System and assembled thirty or so song ideas over several years. Chasny refers to the system as a contemplative exercise that blossoms under scrutiny and takes on different lives depending on the individual player. When asked whether the System helped break writer’s block he said he’s never really had a problem creating new music, but was looking to shake things up and discover combinations a conscious approach would never have unveiled.

Whereas the system’s guiding rules still allowed for major interpretation, the Hexadic album employs the initial event as a compositional launch-pad that could be ridden in any number of directions. While his original demos were acoustic in nature Chasny was interested in swinging these sounds into rawer, more electric realms. Chasny clarifies, “this recording was as much about pushing things out of their comfort zone as writing charts based on a game.”  The resulting effort is a spiraling ride through amorphous textures, deep-sixing roaring distortion inside intergalactic atmospheres; unpredictable and challenging, but oddly alluring and endless fascinating.

Touring the country to bring, “Hexadic,” on stage, Chasny plans to deliver a live version of the studio recording along with songs from, “Ascent,” but isn’t interested in bringing out the playing cards for live demonstrations. The finished product, he emphasizes, came from concerted interpretations of his acoustic demos. Crediting each player for their contributions Chasny is very happy with the results and is eager to work the material live. Never one to rest on their laurels, the barrier-breaking Six Organs of Admittance play Madison’s The Frequency April 22nd.


Livewire in Concert


An interview with Madison rockers, Livewire
by Mike Huberty
March 2015

Hair metal never made the magnificent comeback that some of us were hoping for (Even Disco got a full revival, how is that fair?), but as long as cocaine and hair extensions exist, the spirit of the Sunset Strip can never truly die and Madison’s Livewire is keeping that blues-based classic hard rock alive on campus. Going to college in the 90s, it felt like Alternative inherited the Earth from the dinosaurs of Glam, so seeing UW students coming together to pay homage is a rock n’ roll Jurassic Park . Justin Blair sings and plays guitar, while Ryan Pease is on drums and is also a Nuclear Engineer (Yeah, I know, I couldn’t wrap my head around it either.) Emma Meinholz lays down the bass and Charles Lease plays rhythm guitars and backup vox. They just released a new video, “She’s A Storm”, and I had a chance to talk to the band to preview the release.


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Mary Zimmer and Chela Harper of White Empress - photo by Ferris B Photography

Madcity Nights - April 2015

by Rökker
April 2015

Madison’s music scene offers something for everyone no matter where in the city they live!  TiP: Check out the “TiP” after each listing to more fully enjoy your nights out in Madcity!


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