Explosions in the Sky // Live in Chicago

_MG_6722.jpg

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY // LIVE AT EMPTY BOTTLE

PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Randal Hicks

Flogging Molly // Live in Indianapolis

Flogging Molly-1 (1 of 1).jpg

FLOGGING MOLLY + RADKEY + JON SNODGRASS // LIVE AT THE VOGUE THEATRE

PHOTOS + WORDS COURTESY OF: Emily May

Flogging Molly, who are in the midst of their Life Is Good tour, made a stop recently to The Vogue Theatre in Indianapolis.  Performing to a sold out crowd of passionate fans, the band played a great mix of older and newer songs, performing several from their newest album Life Is Good.  The Vogue Theatre is a small venue, lending an intimate vibe to the evening. The fans were in high spirits, singing and dancing along to every song, with a few crowd surfers making an appearance towards the end of the set.  Flogging Molly love their fans and always give their fans a fun and energetic show.  It was a great evening of music and dancing!  Jon Snodgreass and Radkey opened the show.

Dru Cutler // VZN Exclusive Interview

photo credit Vlad Weinstein

photo credit Vlad Weinstein

Brooklyn musician Dru Cutler is a unique and innovative musician.  As the co-founder of Unit J, an event space in Bushwick, Brooklyn where he an a few fellow artists also live, Cutler is making his own way in the industry and making connections in the community he loves.   Originally from Tampa Florida, he has been playing music for most of his life.  He embraces the concept of working together as musicians, having built a community of musicians that he plays with and helps to promote since moving to Bushwick.  Besides helping to run Unit J, Cutler has a successful solo career, as well.  Having just released two new singles recently, Hometown and Infinite Moon, he has drawn comparisons to Ben Folds, Leonard Cohen and King Crimson.  He is currently in the midst of recording his new album to be released early next year.  I interviewed him recently, in which he answered a few questions about his inspirations, his latest singles, the recording process for the new album and what's next for him.  You can keep up with all of the latest news and updates at http://www.drucutler.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DruCutlerMusic.

You've been playing music since you were 14! What motivates and inspires you to keep going in an ever-changing musical landscape? 
It’s amazing to me that music affects people. It’s just a series of organized vibrations, yet music has the power to change someone’s day, recall a specific memory or even inspire change.
What draws you to writing songs that are influenced by nostalgia?

I'm fascinated by memory. The life that we live in our memories is the best version of our life that exists. It strips the mundane parts of existence, leaving broad brush strokes of emotion. The feeling of a day at the park or a weekend with a lover or the final year with a family member. As a writer, it’s an infinite well.

Congratulations on your new single "Hometown", which you premiered at SXSW and Florida Music Festival! How has the reception been? I saw that "Hometown" was named Best New Alternative by Apple Music which must be a great feeling! 

Thanks! It’s been rewarding to be mentioned in so many music blogs. It’s wise to know who your fans are, so you can write music specifically for them.

You will releasing a new album next year. What has the recording process been like and what was it like to work with Andy Taub?

Making art with other people is all about trust. The more you trust someone, the more vulnerable you are and the more honest you can be with your art. On the flip-side, you can also be more deeply hurt, since art lives so close to the soul.

It’s a tricky balance.

This was my first time working with a Producer (Kahan James), so that was a learning experience. Once trust was established, I just let go. It was great to have fresh ears on my songs. I’ve heard those things hundreds of times, so I was jaded. Who gives a shit how it sounds, I want someone to tell me how it feels.

Working with mixing engineer (Andy Taub) was exciting because he’s mixed everybody from Kieth Richards to Ani DeFranco. He’s an eccentric dude, but in the right kind of way. We spent fourteen hours getting the vibe right on a song called “Oceanside”. In short, he cares.

 

Have you experienced any specific challenges or highlights while recording the album?

One song called “Text Message from My Father” was a key moment.

My father had a tough life. He suffers from Bi-Polar disorder and depression. He sent me a long series of texts last year, detailing how he wanted to end his life. I decided to set one to music.

I didn’t tell anyone I was going to track that song and I didn’t tell the band the chords either. We just set up the mics and hit record. I wanted it to sound fragile, vulnerable. I didn’t want it to feel rehearsed. We did three takes, and that was it.

I walked outside into the parking lot and just burst into tears. I was letting a lot of childhood pain go. I couldn’t really help him anymore.

 

I read that a lot of your upcoming album was cut "live" in the studio in one big room. What led to that decision or was that always the plan?



Most new music is built slowly, in layers. It’s almost “avant guard” to have everyone in the same room: amps, piano, bass, drums and all. But that how a lot of great records were made.

I was listening to Weezer’s "Blue Album" a lot and thinking “this just sounds like some folks in a room, kicking ass.” I wanted to do that. Put all the weight on the songs and the musicians, not studio tricks or post-production hacks.



How do you approach the recording process and prepare to record a new album?
 

I hate making demos. It ruins the fun of making the song and it can really spoil any "happy accidents" that occur in the studio. This time around, the songs were just on paper or rough voice memos with an acoustic guitar.
 



How often do you write songs? What is that process like for you and how has it evolved over the years?
 

Writing is a muscle that has to be exercised. I write almost every day. Sometimes only 20min, but I still sit down to see what’s in the air. I’ve created a life for myself that allows me to write from just about anywhere, even when I’m on the road.



How has being a part of Unit J influenced you, whether it's in the way you approach songwriting, performing and/or recording? Imagine being surrounded by so many amazing musicians all of time can be very inspiring!

Unit J has taught me so much about collaboration, determination and good old fashioned hard work.

When we put on our Halloween show recently I organized the bands, created the flyers, hired a PR team, sold tickets through Eventbrite and Facebook, hired a sound engineer, set up the stage, played the gig and cleaned up the loft for hours after it was all done. There’s not a single piece of the event that I didn’t touch.

Long story short: I know how much work it takes to put on a show in another city or at another venue. I know what success looks like, and I know what slacking looks like. I surround myself with he hardest working folks I know.



What are you most excited about with this album?

 

This is the most personal record I’ve recorded. I’m both satisfied and terrified.



What can people expect from the album? What are your plans after the recording of the album is complete?

I’ll be releasing the record in early 2018, along with a tour to Austin, TX to perform at SXSW, then the Florida Music Festival. I’ll keep up the hard work. Ya’ll just keep listening.