Show Preview: Cold War Kids, Everyone Is Dirty, Andrew St. James (San Francisco)
Hey San Fran what are your plans tonight? If you are lucky you already have tickets to the sold out Cold War Kids show at the Mezzanine. The bill also includes opening support from up and coming artists Everyone Is Dirty, Andrew St. James and Aaron Axelsen. The ages 21 and up show starts at 8 p.m. and we hope to see you there! Discover more about the performers below.
Cold War Kids
(Cold War Kids) For Fans Of: Portugal.The Man, Ra Ra Riot, Local Natives, Tokyo Police Club, HAIM, TV On The Radio
The Orange County/Long Beach five piece dropped their fifth studio album Hold My Home via Downtown/Sony RED in October. This is the follow-up to 2013′s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts.
Ten years have come and gone since Cold War Kids first took to the stage in their homegrown Southern California scene. Time is typically unkind to indie rock bands. So how is that Cold War Kids are still here in 2015, selling out tours and releasing their fifth album in a decade amidst these 40 seasons of torrential fate winds, while so many of their peers have vanished?
“We worked really fucking hard, that’s the answer,” says Nathan Willett. “We worked really hard and we were successful, which is freakishly impossible, and we should embrace it. That’s our story.”
From his post at the front, Willett—along with the band’s bassist and visual director Matt Maust—has led Cold War Kids through the tricky 21st century rock and roll landscape, soaring over the peaks and facing the valleys head-on while carving out a place of the band’s own. Reaping sky-high praise from a mid-2000s blogosphere then growing wings as a live show juggernaut, they stand now with their fifth studio album Hold My Home as both a different animal and an unaltered beast all at once.
The album, which was produced by guitarist Dann Gallucci and Lars Stalfors and recorded at the band’s studio in San Pedro, CA, is a 10-song dispatch that further cements Cold War Kids’ status as one of the very best American rock bands.
The band wrote and recorded the album in their own San Pedro studio, with guitarist Dann Gallucci and Dear Miss Lonelyhearts collaborator Lars Stalfors at the production helm. It is at the same time a more pure and also more bombastic album than anything they have ever made, utilizing their environment, experience, energy and cohesion while still driving home the familiar Cold War Kids sound that has been honed and perfected over this past decade. “This record is a testament to some of my strengths—loving words and stories—but also getting out the other side and creating a fun song that is in the spirit of the band,” says Willett. “This fifth record is probably the most simple, in a way, since the first one.”
Cold War Kids began as a four-piece of college friends but has undergone a couple of lineup changes in the past few years, from the fulltime addition of guitarist/producer Gallucci (Modest Mouse, Murder City Devils) to the departure of two original members, including most recently drummer Matt Aveiro. Replacing Aveiro on the album and on tour is seasoned veteran Joe Plummer (The Shins, Modest Mouse, Mister Heavenly), and also on board is touring keyboardist/vocalist Matthew Schwartz. Willett admits the alterations, while not easy, have been for the best. “For a band getting past that several-year hump, everyone figures out their role or contributions and are either content or not. The idea of what we’re doing evolved. It was the right kind of work for Maust and for me. We’re on the same tip that way; we want to live this artistic life.”
By now, it’s clear that Cold War Kids starts and ends with Willett, Maust and Gallucci, the creative yin and yang and three-chambered heart of the band. Willett stars as reluctant leader, like Moses in the wilderness, the cerebral center and refined song-crafter, shouldering responsibility; Maust is the spontaneous punk rock locomotive, constantly pushing the group forward as the conducting engine of their artistic spirit; Gallucci, who worked for Cold War Kids doing live sound for three years before officially joining, has the wide experience, taste and encyclopedic knowledge of music to make it all click. (“No one knows the sound of this band better than Dann,” says Willett. “He’s opened many doors for us.”) Together, they are the perfect complement; to wit, when Willett and Maust formed the side-project French Style Furs last year, that experiment only brought more energy and ideas to Cold War Kids.
“French Style Furs showed us how fun it needs to be making a record,” says Willett. “And that sometimes you have to tear something off to create a new energy.” Learn more about that new band and their debut record here.
The rounding out of their main project’s lineup has created a dream team of sorts, hitting on all cylinders. As Willett says, “We have everything we need: hunger, energy, guys that come from bigger bands who know how things should work… There’s a lot of space for these guys as musicians to be creative, but we have our musical common ground in that we’re serving the song. As Maust understands about art, you elevate it to a place where it’s bigger than you and you serve it.
The one-two elevated punch that launches Hold My Home is undoubtedly the band’s strongest lead off since Robbers & Cowards. “All This Could Be Yours,” the first single, packs influences from Patti Smith and Them with its chugging piano chords and sing-along refrain, while the second song, “First,” is perhaps their biggest sound yet. One of the final songs to be completed and originally intended as a B-side, Willett calls “First” a “morning-after song with the usual Cold War Kids self-doubt: ‘Who am I, what am I doing, who are these people, do they love me, do I love myself?’ The songs that strike a nerve emotionally are the vulnerable ones. But it got an immediate reaction. I want to still learn what roads I can go down that are working.”
“Hotel Anywhere” is an escape from expectations and responsibility, a song inspired by an energetic experience listening to Oasis in the van after a gig. “There was this sense of abandon,” says Willett, “and I realized that’s what we feed off of as a band, that kind of energy that’s not cerebral. I feed off of Leonard Cohen but I feed off a good rocker, too. ‘Hotel Anywhere’ has a space and time and it’s poetic, but it has some Oasis drunken pub fun.”
“Harold Bloom” is an introspective number named after one of literature’s foremost critics and inspired in part by a confrontational moment in a John Lennon documentary. A torch song of sorts, it toes the line of the artist’s obligation to let go, regardless of who may be watching closely, while cautioning to not “lift your heroes up so high/that you can’t touch.” “You cannot let the potential for criticism come before your own creative release,” says Willett. “You have to make mistakes, and run forward knowing you may trip. Powerful art often happens accidentally and I have to work to make myself that way. I understand the dynamic of needing criticism or self-awareness but I am reminding myself to be childlike about it.”
In that sense, Willett and Cold War Kids have circled back to the beginning, as self-sufficient artists creating for the sheer love and joy of creation, surviving and thriving as they go, running off of the same steam they started on. Picking up some essentials along the way, they remain, ultimately, themselves—exemplified by the title track. “It’s about battening down the hatches when trouble comes and seeking control in a chaotic world,” says Willett. “To ‘hold my home/where the seasons never change.’
“We come from that time of bands that either don’t exist anymore or do in some smaller form. We’re somewhere in this middle ground, which is really great because we still get to do exactly what we want. In that way it does come back to Maust and me. We’ve existed 10 years and five records, we’re still making art that is very vulnerable and singular but we are ambitious and honest with ourselves, knowing that we want success and to reach people and have them understand our art. There’s something great that comes from having to knock on doors, and some of that hunger is back in this record. That’s where depth comes from, when you can tap into that place that has you digging deep and trying to find something true. I think Hold My Home is about all those things.”
When asked for a quote to summarize Hold My Home, Nathan Willett quickly shot back his lyrics to the album’s title track, “You’ve moved every year or two since you were 18. Home is no longer an actual place you return to. It’s ephemeral; it’s where you go in your memory to recall friends, your identity, your version of family. You can’t touch or hold on to it, but you can feel home anywhere. But where are your roots now? Sometimes I wish that I could stop time and hold my home where the seasons never change.”
Everyone Is Dirty
(Everyone Is Dirty) For Fans Of: Landlady, Future Islands, GRMLN,Speedy Ortiz, Mac DeMarco, Painted Palms
Formed in early 2013, the San Francisco group Everyone Is Dirty has been steadily rising on the strength of their hard-hitting home recordings described as “bedroom-tapes on bath-salts” and their explosive live show. Backed by Christopher Daddio on guitar, Tony Sales on drums and Tyler English on bass, Sivan has been called a “walking art-project”. Her stage presence- with its impossible-to-turn-away-from, on the brink of insanity performance-art vibe is mesmerizing, and the way she shreds on violin is an entirely new animal. The four piece walks a fine line between catchy ear-worm rock tunes and a Greenwich Village avant-garde college thesis project.
Coming off the high of playing Live 105’s BFD Festival, Everyone Is Dirty spent July touring the Southwest. Chosen by LIVE 105 & KQED as one of the top 10 bands of the Bay, their singles “Mama, No!!!”, “Devastate” and “Isn’t It Great When Things Fall Apart” have been enjoying radio play by SF’s 105.3 LIVE 105, UC Berkeley’s KALX and UC Davis’ KDVS and Stanford’s KZSU.
Their debut LP Dying Is Fun came out on Tricycle Records on September 2nd.
After their debut full-length album release last Fall, Everyone Is Dirty did an Autumn East Coast tour, released a music video and are now planning to record a second album.
“Setting aside the darkly ear-wormy melodies, haunting vocals, and refreshingly crisp grunge-pop that goes into Everyone Is Dirty’s sound, it’s singer Sivan Lioncub’s violin slicing sweetly above the chaos of a final chorus, adding a heightened sense of gothic romance to a bridge that sets the Oakland art-rock quartet apart from the current fuzzy, grungy masses.” –San Francisco Bay Guardian
“Combining the grit of 90’s era Sonic Youth with the pop sensibilities of Jenny Lewis and Rilo Kiley, the Oakland’s Everyone is Dirty have established themselves as one of the East Bay’s most exciting emerging acts. Lead singer Sivan Gur-Arieh’s darkly seductive vocals and electric violin are the highlight of the group’s transfixing live performances.” –The Deli Magazine
“Oakland’s Everyone Is Dirty is a dreamy pop band that can smoothly cut to heavy, noisy guitars and back to the sweet vocals of Sivan Gur-Arieh. Musically there’s a lot of influence from bands like the Pixies, but with Gur-Arieh as the front woman, the band has created a whole new animal.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“There are seemingly two different bands within Oakland’s quickly rising indie-quartet, Everyone is Dirty. One is the core rhythm section, who play steady blasts of catchy, heavy alt-rock riffs much like the Pixies, Superchunk and Dinosaur Jr. The other is singer/violinist Sivan Gur-Arieh, who is a walking art project. Her voice ranges from a cool Kim Deal to a highly-expressive PJ Harvey. Her violin, which is attached to a range of effects pedals, adds a tense layer of sonic texture to the crisp ’90s alternative guitar riffs. And her stage presence-with its impossible-to-turn-away-from, almost interpretive dancing-style-is mesmerizing. The band walks a fine line between catchy ear-worm rock tunes and a Greenwich Village avant-garde college thesis project.” – SF Station
“Everyone Is Dirty has been releasing a steady stream of new material since we first told you about them a little over a year ago, including this brand new video for “Dirtbag Side Effect”. One of Everyone Is Dirty’s strengths is the quirky weirdness of lead singer-violinist Sivan, and the video does a great job showcasing the energy she brings to their live performances. It also shows her wailing on her electric violin, which truly is a joy to watch in person.” – The Bay Bridged
“Everyone is Dirty turned the energy up with their own distinctive blend of punk-tinged art rock. Led by powerhouse front woman Sivan Gur-Arieh, who shreds an electric violin like a rock and roll sorceress, the band exuded an authentic strangeness that was both refreshing and jarring.” – Impose
Andrew St. James
(Andrew St. James) For Fans Of: Arum Rae, Highs, Roadkill Ghost Choir, Streets Of Laredo, Cults, The Wild Feathers
Andrew St. James is a singer, songwriter, and poet, out of San Francisco.
Andrew St. James outlook may seem contrary to his generations unwavering optimism and the idea that the best is yet to come…that what we have done before is only setting the stage. His music is complex and introspective and sometimes dark. Like the over 50 million young people of his generation, he grew up with images of the Twin Towers falling; Occupy Wall Street; wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and inner-city violence being replayed daily on the nightly news…and it shows in his writing. As a voyeur of modern life’s travails, his lyrics echo with complex questions and commentary.
Described as a Dylanesque voice of the millennial generation, his new album, Shakes will both surprise us and indulge our need for a new but familiar voice. As part of that super generation aged 18-29 called Millennials, St. James exhibits all of the narcissism of his age, bringing the perspectives of his generation to an old genre of rock music with a new connectivity we have not seen before.
On his debut album, Doldrums, St James teams up with veteran Bay Area producer Jim Greer (a platinum record recipient for his work with Foster the People) to produce a work of deep themes and magical lyrics.
His recent “Live in NYC” can be downloaded at NoiseTrade.com
His new release Shakes is now available at Amazon Music, iTunes and Spotify.