Musical Rooms

November 29, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 94: Wounded Knees

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 6:32 pm
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“I have a room for music, for writing. It took me a while to get comfortable with the room I now use. It’s basically a spare room beside my daughter’s bedroom; it’s small but looks over the Grand Canal, which at night can be inspiring. Night time is the only time I open the shutters, if I’m in there during the day, I keep the shutters closed and light it with one little lamp. There’s always a point at which a new space becomes christened, when it starts to feel like the right place; it happens with a tune. Once that tune comes, you’re at home.

I keep things pretty simple; I have no real interest in the sampler or keyboards I have there (apart from the Casio which I share with the girls) that gets a hook down just fine. I record onto a Roland 880EX, through a dbx channel strip for mic pre-amp. I monitor through Genelec active monitors. I only use my Guild D35 acoustic these days. It’s the Wounded Knees sound. I use an SM57 to record vocals.

For me it’s important, at the end of a session, to leave things as they are. The litter of stuff is a physical recording of the things that have happened in the room since I was last there. It’s important to have nothing in the room that can break the spell, so everything in there is related in some way to the music I make. I leave books randomly open on the floor. I’ve got a smiling Neil Young on the wall; when I catch Neil’s smiling eye, it’s like he’s saying, “….ya got something there kid”. The Ramones are everywhere, passes from gigs, drum sticks that have delivered at a recording session, a few pictures of the beach boys, George Harrison (I’ve always related heavily to George). There’s no conscious plan to make the room a certain way, it just becomes what it becomes. It’s random. If it feels good it stays. I like having the hard evidence of good things that have happened. One treasure is Patti Smith’s own personal copy of The Coral Sea with her notes all over it. She gave it to me after a show.

Between my work with thirtythreetrees and the kids, it’s impossible to schedule time for music, so it happens when it happens. If I’m getting ready for something like ATP, then I know what I’m doing with all my free time. I’m in there, mainly putting down new tunes for the band to listen to before we get together to rehearse. For me isolation is really important. You have to believe that what you’re doing, at that moment, in that room, could potentially change your life. You have to dream when you’re writing. Songs are very delicate when they’re born, it would be easy for someone outside of you to crush them with apathy. For me I treat them all as potential saviors. It’s one of the ways I feel connected.

Typically I start things with a chord sequence or a riff that just seems to come from nowhere, it’s rare if I remember when I first started strumming a song, but the ones that stay present an urge in me to find a progression, to make it a song. Then I usually get a bit ripped and play the thing over and over until the melody is just there. I tend to listen to the harmonics of the chords really closely while I’m playing until I hear a melody. I’ve leant to stick with that melody; it’s always the best one. And as I play I always hear the whole band in my head, especially the drumming, I’m a drummer first forever. I always play guitar as if I’m playing with a drummer.

The recording usually happens with a sudden urge to listen back to what I’m playing and hearing in my head, that’s why I keep the set up very simple, I don’t want to have to think when I’m putting stuff down for the first time. For me it’s important to get it down sounding pretty good straight away, I need to hear the power of it and the harmonics to get the urge to finish a vocal for it. I like to do things quickly, first take.

I scan notebooks for lyrics that fit the track. I tend to write words separately; it’s the John Lennon way. I like the surprises you get in the phrasing when you do it that way. Like most musicians, once I have an idea down, I have “a loosener” and listen to it about 100 times. That’s always the best moment. Pure dreams.

I use a Roland 880ex, a dbx tube channel strip, Genelec monitors, a Guild d35 1970 acoustic (I bought it in Amherst Mass; J Mascis and Kevin helped me find it), SM57’s for mic-ing the acoustic and for vocals, a Fender Champ, an FMR compressor (really nice) and some distortion pedals (dDistortion and compression are really the only effects I’m into these days). That’s the basic set up. For me, it’s a sound I stick to cause I like it; from there the songs that change the sound. Rhythm and melody.

What I like most about the space is the fact that it’s mine. It’s my soul cell; there aren’t many “real life” distractions in there. I can leave it as I please. I like how it looks after a good session. The girls know which things they can touch and which things they can’t. You can touch the guitar but don’t touch the faders!”

Musical Rooms was in conversation with Jimi Shields of Wounded Knees
Wounded Knees is a band made up of Jimi Shields (ex-Rollerskate Skinny and Lotus Crown), ex-Mercury Rev flautist Suzanne Thorpe, and Phil Williams (ex-Hopewell). The Wounded Knees released an EP, All Rise on Specific Recordings in 2008. All Rise was mixed by Kevin Shields and the band played tour dates supporting the newly-reformed My Bloody Valentine. This month, Wounded Knees will also play at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival A Nightmare Before Christmas, curated by My Bloody Valentine. Their play Whelan’s (Upstairs) on Wednesday, December 2nd. Doors are 8pm and the show includes an installation by the creatives at South Studios. Wounded Knees will perform as part of this, from the floor as opposed to the stage. Tickets are €10 from Wav Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078). For more information, visit

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November 15, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 93: Mike Scott

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 9:44 pm
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“I used to write and play anywhere – bedroom, living room, kitchen, street – until I set up my first music room in 1988, when I was 29. It was in a house on a hill overlooking Galway Bay. The view was incredible but once I started singing and playing I’d forget all about it; the only landscape that mattered was the one in my head. I finished writing The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues album in that room and since then I’ve set up a music room in every place I’ve lived: twelve of them in all, including Baile an tSleibhe, Waterloo Rd, Hudson St., Kilmashogue Lane, Marine Cottage, Lansdowne Road, No. 69, No. 72, Primrose Hill, Broombank, Raglan Lane – of which the current one is the best.

It’s an extension of a mews house in south Dublin city. My wife and I have a home in Scotland but we’re in Dublin for a year while I develop my Appointment With Mr Yeats project, a show The Waterboys are doing at the Abbey Theatre in March 2010, for which I’ve turned around 20 of WB Yeats’ poems into songs. The music room is at the rear of the house, reached by a glass hallway, and feels quite separate from the rest of the building, giving it a removed atmosphere.

The command posts are my electric piano, which is plugged into to a Fender guitar amp and a large desk on which my computer sits. I do all my home recording here using Apple’s Garageband system, which I prefer to Pro-tools (less mental energy is involved running the system, freeing up my mind for music). I have guitars, a bouzouki, a mandolin, various drums, tambourines and sleighbells, two speaker systems (KRKs and Yamaha NS10s) and a couple of huge boxes of Venetian masks that got worn on the last Waterboys tour.

There are a couple of cupboards; one’s full of books, sound effects CDs and tapes; the other contains effects pedals. I love Electro Harmonix pedals: the Pog, the Hog, the Stain, the Wiggler. They sound as great as their names and I spend many psychedelic hours sticking keyboards and guitars through them.

The floor is wood but I’ve covered it with eastern carpets purchased in that famous and most exotic bazaar, Dunne’s Stores in the Stephens Green shopping centre. The room is well-lit, with about a dozen bright ceiling lights. The family who rented us the house used this space as their office, and the bright lights suit me – I’ve no patience with working in shadowy, dingy places where I can’t see what I’m doing. I like atmospheric lights on stage, not in my music room.

The Waterboys sometimes rehearse here if we’re preparing for an acoustic show, though we could squeeze a drummer in too, I guess. And Steve Wickham and I are doing the string arranging for the Yeats’ show here, the two of us sitting together at the desk sorting the manuscripts on our computers. He’s a trained reader who went to music college, and works beautifully fast. I taught myself to read and write music only a few years ago, and though I compose quickly, it takes me a day to write out a page of manuscript.

I don’t work specific times; I just get in here whenever I have a ‘go’ feeling, which is most days. I used to stay up working all night but now I prefer to work only when I’m fresh and at my peak. I make less mistakes, keep my perspective, and it’s easier to stay “on” all the time. In common with all my music rooms just the fact of the room itself enhances the creativity. I only have to walk in to feel stuff start happening. That’s the beauty of it: a dedicated space where alchemy happens.”

Mike Scott is the founder of The Waterboys, a band who have released hugely successful albums like A Pagan Place (1984), This Is the Sea (1985) and Room to Roam (1990). They are probably best known for their 1988 album, Fisherman’s Blues. Scott has also released two solo records to date and his next project is An Appointment with Mr Yeats, a show fusing the poetry of W.B. Yeats and the music of The Waterboys. The WB Yeats show runs for five nights from Monday March 15th, 2010 to Friday March 19th, 2010 on Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. Scott also plays a solo gig on Saturday, November 28th at the Clyde Auditorium, (part of Scotland’s SECC complex) in Glasgow. For more information, visit

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October 29, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 92: Midori Hirano

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:20 pm
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“My favourite space to create music is in my apartment which is still in transit since I moved here about a half year ago. I’ve been living in Berlin for a year so far, and I moved from another apartment to the other by sub-renting until I found a current space in the center of the town. Meanwhile, I toured a lot in Europe, so I couldn’t get settled in this new, tiny, cosy space to really feel like I could work on new tracks for a while (even though now I’m just about to leave for the UK and Ireland to play shows there). I’ve recorded my last two albums in Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan in 2006 and 2008. So now I’m excited as to how my future will work out after such big move from Japan to Berlin.

My musical space is a part of my bedroom. So this means really tiny (but it’s bigger than the one I had in Japanese apartment). It’s on the fourth floor on a corner where you can easily see the TV tower of a “symbol” (now regarded as a tourist one though) of former East Berlin. You can then look down at the tram on the streeet. There’s also one nice cafe/bar where a friend of mine sometimes works. The inside of the space is quite white and bright. In the summertime it’s too bright though, but now it’s getting to have appropriate brightness to be able to bear Berlin’s gray days of winter. I love spending time in the quietness of midnight here. It’s so meditative.

Right now I have a Macbook Pro to run Logic on, which have been my main equipment/software for creating music for these years. And there is a MIDI keyboard, and Korg synthesizer MS2000 which I sent from Japan by ship. Also I have a pair of speakers, headphones and the M-Audio’s firewire solo for an audio interface. Other things like BOSS Loopstation RC-50 are only for performance use, as it is very useful for improvisation on the stage.

Recently I bought a Melodica by made Hohner. I really like its sound. And what else? I have a few of ethnic-made shakers I got in Kyoto, which I played on some tracks from my second album. There still is one other piece of equipment which I left in Japan – my AKAI sampler S6000. It’s so heavy and big but I really love it. I’m not sure if I really need it later again though since the technology is always in progress to make all of those things smaller and lighter.

The most important things for me to have in this space is just simplicity and quietness. It was a bit hard to have the atmosphere in the summer because of the noise people made outside till late. But now it’s time to enjoy the “deadness” of this town in winter. I spend most of my time here except when I go to meetings or am having dinner or coffee with my friends, or DJing or touring. And I often get inspiration for some ideas for new music when I’m going out. Then I take time to shape all my ideas into sounds when I get back to home.

I work alone usually, since I’ve been doing this solo project for a long time. That’s why I need quietness to make myself feel like I’m in an isolated place. On the other hand, when I get stuck, I’d rather like to go for a walk or meet some people to change my mood. It also helps my creativity. In terms of the creative process, at first I try to record little phrases on Logic freely using by keyboard using the ideas that came to mind at that time, and then layer them up. But it always messes up at the first step, so I leave them for a couple of hours or days, and then go back to them again to see if I can make an outline more carefully, just to improve them. I keep doing this until I’m satisfied with the story and sounds contained in the track.

What I like most about this space is the fact that I can go to the kitchen immediately any time I want to make some food. There’s a big window where I can look down at the big tree in the courtyard which shows me the changes of the seasons.”

Hailing from Kyoto and now based in Berlin Midori Hirano dances the divide between electronic and acoustic sound, creating lush, layered chamber music out of piano, strings, digital samples and vocals. After graduating from university with a major in classic piano, Midori Hirano started creating music with the help of her computer. Her participation in compilations by overseas labels and EP releases led to the release of her first album LushRush from Nobel Records in September 2006. February 2008 saw Midori Hirano became the only Japanese to be invited in the composer category of the “Berlinale Talent Campus”, a program for aspiring young film makers hosted by the Berlin International Film Festival. Her latest album, klo:yuri, was released on Noble in 2008. Midori Hirano plays Whelan’s Upstairs on Friday October 30th with support from At Last An Atlas and Richie Keenan. Tickets are €12 from Ticketmaster. For more information, visit

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October 13, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 91: Mark Morriss (The Bluetones)

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 8:47 pm
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“Since moving home two summers ago, it took me a while longer than expected to re-adjust to writing in a completely new environment. I had lived in my last home for nearly 12 years and during that time written four albums worth of material as well as various b-sides and the bulk of the songs for my solo album. I had unconciously become rather attached to the ‘vibes’ there. I didn’t realise quite what a seismic effect moving home would have on my ability to feel comfortable in my writing space.

Add to this the fact that my partner gave birth to our son in the summer of 2008 there really were quite a lot of changes to get used to. I think these factors all played a part in the length of time there has been between the forthcoming Bluetones record and our last release in 2006.

It’s only been in the last few months that I have started to really feel the juices flowing again and this I put down to the fact that I finally realised what was holding me up and addressed it directly. I cleared out the old shed in the garden and turned that into a makeshift writing room, also somewhere I can go for a crafty cigarette. Whilst writing I do like to have a fag on the go and since the arrival of my son smoking is not something I wish to do around the house. It’s a drafty, dusty and slightly damp old shed, but with my wonky little desk and ashtray I feel very much at home out there these days.

I’ve never really been a big believer in utilising too much technology at the early stages of songwriting and prefer to simply hum my ideas into my mobile phone. If I can ‘hear’ the song taking shape within these limited means then I tend to think I’m onto something. I use an old nylon strung acoustic guitar to bash out my ideas and again, feel that the limitations of this are an aid to identifying a good idea from an average/unusable one.

It’s only when the song is fully formed, do I attempt to demo it properly. The band share an old Akai 12 track recorder to record demos and this is shared between the four of us depending on who is feeling inspired at any one time. When writing lyrics to music written by the other members of the band, I tend to pop these onto my iPod and disappear for a bit of a long drive, listening to their ideas on repeat until some kind of structure starts to take shape in my mind. Then, as before, get home and finish them off in the shed. With a bottle of vino and a packet of Silk Cut.

I’ve always shunned the idea of trying to make the demos sound too polished, believing that this can be quite restrictive when playing ideas back to the other band members and perhaps hinder their own creative instincts. It’s preferable to me to just create a beginning/middle/end to each song and then colour them properly within the band’s rehearsal studio.

Right, there you go. I have divulged all my secrets to you. Basically my philosophy is that if you have a good idea for a song you should be able to identify it no matter how poor the quality of the recording. Well… that’s my EXCUSE anyway.”

Mark Morriss is probably best known as the singer in UK band The Bluetones, whose song ‘Slight Return’ is one of the biggest indie hits of the 1990s. He released his debut solo album, Memory Muscle was released in 2008. He plays two shows (7pm and 9.30pm) at Whelan’s Upstairs on Friday 16th October. Tickets are €16.45 from Ticketmaster. For more information, visit

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October 6, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 90: King Khan & The Shrines

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 7:41 pm


“My favourite place to make music is at home in Berlin at my fabulous Moon Studios. It’s spacious and the instruments are all tiny and the sound is huge. I make music in the tradition of Sun Studios, which is keep it simple. I never use more than four microphones for anything. I have two rooms; one on Sonnen Allee, which is closer to the East and this is where I make loud noises. The other room is in my Living room where I do vocals, organ and all the other less noisy stuff.

I have lots of cheapo 60’s guitars, a nice tape machine and the smallest amps I can find. There are revolving walls, a few custom made mics and one condenser mic made out of an altoids box, which sounds awesome (it was a gift from Greg from the Gris Gris); a beautiful Philacorda organ exactly like the ones that old monks used to have!

The most important things for me to have around me is probably my wife and my two daughters. Everything else is replaceable. In terms of a schedule, chaos is my creative breeding ground. I love spontinaeity and I only record people I love. The same applies to my tarot readings…. only the chosen ones… like James Brown said on his Christmas album “Non-Believers shall suffer”.

Sometimes isolation when working is important, but then isolation is like masturbation – too much will make you sore and grumpy. I need the input of my friends and family to find the way, especially because I love REVERB and tend to overdo the reverb. People need to make an intervention in order for me to keep it down. Check out the movie ALTERED STATES from 1980 and then you will understand the importance and dangers of isolation…

The creative process is very simple – you cook, eat, and shit… you listen, hear and write… you injest, vomit and get high…

I use everything from from frying pans to Hofners to make music. I love my tascam and have some supro stuff. I love cigarette amps and Vox

What I like most about my space is that it’s mine.”

King Khan and the Shrines are a Berlin-based garage rock and psychedelic soul band. Spawned from the ashes of Canadian garage act, The Spaceshits, their stage performances have become the stuff of legends. Singer Khan’s other project is called The King Khan & BBQ Show, featureing ex-fellow Spaceshit member Mark Sultan. Khan and the Shrines play Whelan’s Upstairs on Wednesday 7th October, with a line-up that will include Ron Streeter (who has played percussion for Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder), Simon Wojan (of Kranky Records), German jazz musician Ben Ra and rockabilly saxophonist Big Fred Rollercoaster. Tickets are €14 plus booking fee from WAV. For more information, visit

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September 23, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 89: Teengirl Fantasy

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 12:44 pm
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“As of late we are always on the move, so we don’t really have one specific room where we play music. Any floor, basement, attic, etc. where we can set up our equipment will work. This is a picture of the most recent room we’ve been playing in, which is also our living room in our new apartment in Amsterdam. We have such a beautiful view of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station right outside of our bay window. So lucky! It’s fun to watch all of the people going down the bike path in between songs.

Our set-up (SP-404, Electribe mk2, MPC1000, MicroKorg, and Juno 6 and this amazing Echolution delay pedal that Nick just picked up), is fairly portable and allows us to set up pretty much anywhere. We don’t have any real amps so in the past we’ve monitored our mix using anything from headphones to blown out battery powered baby practice amps. Right now we are using the television speakers, which works pretty well. Maybe when we are older and have the stability and ability to use a real studio space we will, but this set-up works just fine for us now.

When we are writing songs each of us brings our own ideas (a loop, collection of samples, or drum pattern) that we’ve been working on individually, which we then jam on with the each other and add even more ideas to (layers, structures, forms). Often we’ll write songs in short spurts then develop them more by playing them out live at shows. Thus most of our writing process usually occurs live, but there have been times when we are recording an already performed song where we we will get another idea for a part, which will in turn effect how we play the song live again. Other times we will improvise and jam for hours from scratch and may or may not use any of it. After a long time of playing all of the bass and midrange sounds make us fall asleep and we end up forgetting songs if we never hit record.”

Teengirl Fantasy is Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss, two friends at Oberlin College in Ohio (although they are currently enjoying a semester abroad in Amsterdam). It’s tough to classify their music within one genre -both Harmonia and Cece Peniston serve as equal reference points. Their love of drone, 4/4, and warm gating synths force new classifications of electronic music. Since forming less than a year ago, they have toured the US coasts opening for acts such as Dan Deacon, Telepathe and THE GZA. Their debut release was the ‘Portofino’ 7″ on Merok Records and on September 5th they released a limited edition 12″ of 113 copies (each with unique artwork) on Dick Move Records. Their debut album is forthcoming on True Panther Sounds. They play The Thomas House, Dublin on Saturday, September 26th. Doors are 8pm and admission is €10. Support is from Angkorwat. For more information, visit

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September 22, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 88: HEALTH

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 10:06 am
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“My favourite space to create music in is not exactly “my favourite”, but it’s the only one. It’s a room in a former textile factory, which is now a practice spaces for bands. It’s owned by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. The room has very tall ceilings and concrete walls. It has a carpet floor, lots of bad smells and gets incredibly hot. But the sound is amazing.
In here, we have piles of all of our guitars, drum kits and various bits of recording paraphenalia. There are stacks of acoustic guitars that are never touched as well as shelves of unused guitar pedals and a vintage Tascam mixer connected to a 2005 iMac.

The most important things to have in here are all of our equipment and a mini fridge for the beer. This place is a 24-hour lockout, so it’s always available at any time. We usually set a time and meet there. Rarely are we there alone. For me, working with a group is most important. My solo time is devoted to finding new sounds with my equipment. We usually start with an idea or concept written and then fleshed out on paper. To record ideas, we use an iMac and an ancient mixer. To play, we use everything that we use live. I don’t want to give away any trade secrets, but my bass is a Rickenbacker.

What I like most about this place is the sound. It’s a great place to record.”

Musical Rooms was talking to John Famiglietti of HEALTH.
LA noise rockers health started out in LA’s art space The Smell making and their huge wall of sound includes a homemade guitar pedal/microphone called a Zoothorn. The four-piece are fronted by Jacob Duzsik and released their debut album, HEALTH, in 2007. They have also toured with Crystal Castles who they had previously collaborated on a 7″ with. Earlier this month, they released their second album Get Color, on City Slang. They play The Village on Thursday October 1st. Doors are 8pm and tickets are €14 including booking fee from WAV Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078), City Discs, and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more information, visit

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September 16, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 87: William E. Whitmore

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 12:38 pm


“The space where I create music is my cabin in Lee county Iowa, on the family farm. It’s in the middle of nowhere in the woods. The cabin itself was built by me over the course of the last few years inbetween tours. I made it out of recycled barn-wood that I found myself. It’s very rustic and well worn and it’s special to my heart. A lot of the materials were gathered with the help of my father before he passed away, so it’s like a tribute to him and his spirit. I have a collection of stringed instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, banjos, lap steels, a dobro, a violin and several home-made cigar-box guitars. I’ve got a few amplifiers and a mess of noise making devices such as shakers, drums, and wood blocks. The most important things for me are the banjos, guitars, a snare drum and my song notebook. I also have piles of books and records for inspiration.

When I’m not on tour I spend all my time here as it is also my living space. The line between inspiration and life is non-existent. My south window looks over the horse pasture and the hills and woods just beyond. These are the elements of song. Isolation is important although I do gather ideas from others at times and I find the creative process is a living, breathing thing that wakes up with me and follows me to bed at night. It grows in the same way that trees grow and with nourishment it can flourish and take root. Just like a tree, it can die without proper care.

My equipment is simple; pen, paper, instruments and a pot of strong coffee. Around about sundown the coffee turns to whiskey, just like magic. The muse and I tangle back and forth until an agreement is reached. What I like most about my creative environment is that it exists where I grew up and feel most at ease. The space itself is like an instrument to be played.”

Hailing from a horse farm along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, William Elliott Whitmore has developed an intense love and spiritual understanding of the land, which he flawlessly conveys through all of his records. genuity. Born, raised and still residing on a farm in Lee County, Iowa, Whitmore literally cultivates his song cycles from earth. He released Song of the Blackbird (2006), Ashes to Dust (2005), Hymn for the Hopeless (2003) and Calendar Club of Danger and Fun (2002) while working his land. He plays Whelan’s this Sunday, September 20th. Doors are 8pm and tickets are €13 plus booking fee from WAV Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078), City Discs, and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more information, visit

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September 9, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 86: The Tallest Man on Earth

Filed under: Interviews,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 8:59 am
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“I guess I create music and write songs pretty much all over the place. It can happen in good-sounding rooms where I happen to be, or outside walking the dog. I rent a house on the edge of a small country-town in Sweden, with a living room where most of the songs are finished and then maybe recorded. It has great acoustics, and a door leading out to a big patio facing the woods. pretty much all I need. When I see the dog getting bored from tip-toeing around; when she knows it will only take even more time if she ruins the take, I go out on the patio, trick her to look the other way and throw a frisbee out in the woods as far as I can. She will search until she finds it, usually it takes about four minutes, pefect amount of time to do a take. When she returns, her smile from success inspires me back. I throw it again and get the work done.

I have a computer with all the usual stuff, a bunch of Tandberg quarter-inch reel-to-reel recorders, a Studer B67 and a purple tube compressor. Microphones spread from some really modern-sounding ones to a 1960’s ribbon. All this is spread out in the room together with a bunch of guitars, a nice piano a couple of cents flat, a mellophone and a banjo. When I need to record I’ll just mix and match, and find the best spot in the room for the song.”

Sweden’s Kristian Matsson is The Tallest Man on Earth and has been described as “a finger picking virtuoso who plays inspired Dylan-esque folk songs”. Matsson has been recording since early 2000 and released his self-titled debut EP on Sweden’s Gravitation Records in 2006, followed by a single ‘Pistol Dreams’ in 2007 and a full-length album, Shallow Grave, in 2008. He plays Whelan’s this Friday, September 11th. Doors are 7.30pm and tickets are €13.50 plus booking fee from WAV Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078), City Discs, and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Support is from Valerie Francis. For more information, visit

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September 2, 2009

Musical Rooms Part 85: Future Islands

Filed under: Interviews,Music,Musical Rooms Series — by Sinéad Gleeson @ 7:53 am
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William Cashion: “We create music either in Gerrit’s bedroom in Baltimore, or our living room. I prefer any room that we can smoke cigarettes in. Gerrit generally comes up with a bunch of ideas on his own – most of my ideas come from riffing/jamming with Gerrit. Personally, the most important things for me to have in here are my bass guitar and amp. After that, probably computers and keyboards. Until very recently, we were writing every day for about five to seven hours a day working on material for the new album. We often get together in spurts of inspiration, usually after a big tour, recollecting our thoughts and ideas regarding new material. Usually Gerrit will have a drum loop he made and a chord progression or riff and I’ll come in and figure out my bass parts to move along top of/under it. Other times I may have a chord progression or idea that I show to Gerrit and he works with me to figure out his parts. Sam usually hangs out and writes lyrics out while we jam. Sometimes we’ll play the same riff for half an hour and Sam will keep reworking his melody or words (or both). Sam’s words often decide the form the song will take, like when the chorus will start, and if there is a bridge before or after the chorus, things like that. I have a Yamaha bass guitar that I’m pretty sure is a metal guitar (not made of metal, but made for metal music) run through an echo pedal and a Rat distortion pedal. I guess my favorite part of this room is the tape machine (or mini disc recorder), where we capture ideas, the rough sketches of songs that never get officially released.”

Gerrit Welmers: “It’s small and packed full of things, which is nicely balanced. In here, I have midi controllers, computers, and keyboards. There are a couple guitars and small instruments. I also use an Akai Midi Keyboard that controls Reason. There is an audio interface, a mixer, four-track, tape player, overly gigantic speakers that make everything sound like three six mafia and that’s about it. The most important thing for me to have here is my collection of everything that has existed since I was born. I probably spend too much time here. I seem to be writing or playing music all of the time. I tend to work alone a lot. It’s easier for me to figure things out. We, as a group, will then compile the song later. What I tend to like most about this space is that it’s mine.”

Musical Rooms was talking to William Cashion and Gerrit Welmers of Future Islands.

Future Islands are a new-wave dance band from North Carolina, who now live in Baltimore. Gerrit Welmers, Sam Herring and William Cashion play terse, passionate music built around Welmers’ cart-wheeling synthesizer melodies and Cashion’s post-punk bass pulse. They have been writing songs together since 2003 in the guise of absurdist party project Art Lord & The Self Portraits and their sound has become exponentially faster and surprisingly powerful. They wrote and recorded an EP, ‘Little Advances’, in time for their first tour in 2006. This was followed by their debut album Wave Like Home in 2008, with the help of Dan Deacon’s producer Chester Endersby Gwazda (Dan Deacon). They released Feathers & Hallways, a 7″ EP earlier this year and play upstairs at Whelan’s on September 9th with support from Ear Pwr (Carpark Recordings/Baltimore) and We Cut Corners. Doors are 8pm, admission is €12 plus booking fee from WAV Box-Office (Lo-Call 1890 200 078), City Discs, Sound Cellar, and Ticketmaster. For more information visit

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