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10 Years of Filter: Issue #17 Cover Story: Franz Ferdinand

By Staff on June 29, 2012


10 Years of Filter: Issue #17 Cover Story: Franz Ferdinand

2012 marks FILTER Magazine’s tenth year in print. To celebrate, we are looking back at some of our favorite magazine features, from July 2002’s Issue #1 all the way up to this coming November’s Issue #50.

Below you will find Issue #17’s cover story, in full, where we dissected the mostly-Scottish lads of Franz Ferdinand, from their outrageous childhood memories to their outsider-dom to what they’re doing differently in their sophomore album.

Who Shot Franz Ferdinand? (Issue 17, Fall 2005)
By Mikel Jollett
Direction from Franz Ferdinand
Photography by Steven Dewall and Franz Ferdinand 

What’s wrong with a little destruction?

“How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada.” 
- Hugo Ball, Dada Manifesto, Zurich, 1916 

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW WE GET INTO SUCH THINGS. Where were we and exactly what was the idea again? Oh yeah, the thin man on the couch, the one in the striped red shirt, bouncing up and down, speaking so fast, as if caught amidst a foot-race between his mind and his mouth, each struggling to out-pace the other. His name is Alex Kapranos. He has an idea.

“What if the entire article is a series of Venn diagrams? I don’t think there are enough Venn diagrams in the world. I remember learning them in math class and I quite enjoyed them.” He laughs. Paul, Nick, and Bob laugh too. I wonder briefly if it was such a good idea that we allow Franz Ferdinand to come up with the concept of their own article. It smacks of laziness.

But then they’re good at this sort of thing and anyway, how many times can you read that they played their first gigs at an abandoned mansion during art expositions? That Alex Kapranos once volunteered to search for landmines in Kosovo? That the idea behind their first record was to make “music for girls to dance to?” That Paul switched from guitar to drums on the condition that the drum kit not block the audience from seeing his face? That they’re Scottish (but not exclusively), stylish (but not pretentious), smart (but not elitist)… ad infinitum.

Next door, an engineer is mixing synth sounds for the new record (You Could Have It So Much Better… with Franz Ferdinand) so our chat is punctuated by an electric pulse, a sound which approximates a door opening on a spaceship.

There’s Bob Hardy (the cherubic bass player) reclining on the couch with his arms crossed over his chest. There’s Nick McCarthy (polite, guitarist) sitting on the chair with a hangover. There’s Paul Thomson (springy, jocular, drums) leaning forward on his feet, crouched in the chair next to Nick.

A sense of mischief hangs in the air (a permanent one, I think, for these guys) as eyes move from face to face wondering if the concept can work.

“You can do so much with Venn diagrams,” Alex offers.


FILTER 48: Getting to Know: Of Monsters and Men

By Mike Hilleary; photo by David Gallardo on June 28, 2012


FILTER 48: Getting to Know: Of Monsters and Men

On the roof of the Williamsburg Music Hall in Brooklyn, Of Monsters and Men bandleaders Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” þórhallsson are experiencing a brief and much deserved respite from the madness going on in the venue below.

Tonight the band is playing the first of two shows slated to take place in New York City. While tomorrow’s gig at Webster Hall boasts a larger in-house attendance, this evening’s more intimate setting is being made entirely less so by a team of audiovisual professionals who are prepping elaborate lights, scaffolding and HD cameras to film and live-stream the performance on YouTube.

Wearing bright pink Doc Martens knock-offs, leggings and a favored jumper, Hilmarsdóttir already looks fit for the looming broadcast, parting her long, dark hair so that it falls to one side and an Annie Hall–sized hat on her head. þórhallsson, meanwhile, dressed in a simple plaid shirt and jeans, is a charming and welcome reminder that the industry doesn’t have to be dominated by rail-thin frontmen.

With 30 minutes to spare before soundcheck, Hilmarsdóttir and þórhallsson confess the speed of recent events has offered little in the way of genuine reflection. For the past two-and-a-half weeks, Hilmarsdóttir, þórhallsson and the rest of their Icelandic six-piece band have been engaged in a sleep-deprived schedule, playing sold-out performances of their anthem-raising folk-rock since arriving in Austin for SXSW. A remarkable feat for any burgeoning musical act, the achievement becomes all the more impressive when you realize the group has never previously toured North America and are just days into the release of their debut album, My Head Is an Animal.

“Musicians we know in Iceland have told us that the first time they went to America to play, there was no one there to see them,” says þórhallsson. “It’d be three guys: the bar drunk and two others that the artist or band just gave tickets to on their own.”

Before they began bucking the trend that beset so many of their musically inclined countrymen, Hilmarsdóttir and þórhallsson met four years ago in the Iceland capital of Reykjavík when Hilmarsdóttir began dating þórhallsson’s best friend (the two are still together). Already playing acoustic singer-songwriter-style songs under the moniker Songbird with guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, Hilmarsdóttir began working on much bigger sounding material with órhallsson, who had brought along his own group of friends, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, piano/accordion player Árni Gujónsson and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson. “It’s much more fun to share the stage with someone,” says Hilmarsdóttir, poking fun at her own instinctual shyness. “It’s pretty hard to stand up there alone. I wanted to share my pain with someone.”

Two weeks after making the assembled line-up an official musical undertaking, Of Monsters and Men entered the 2010 Músíktilraunir, a nationwide Icelandic battle-of-the-bands competition. Not just making an impression but winning the contest outright, the band was awarded studio time to cut the first version of “Little Talks,” a trumpet blasting piece of pop that has become the group’s biggest hit.

As the song jumped from Iceland’s airwaves to U.S. stations such as WRFF Philadelphia and Seattle’s KEXP, Hilmarsdóttir, þórhallsson and the rest of the band blitzed through a three-day-long stint of studio time last March to record the foundation of their full-length debut. Fine-tuning instrumentation and vocals in later late-night sessions when they were able, the album saw release in Iceland in September of last year.


10 Years of FILTER: Issue #17 Revisited, Getting To Know, Wolf Parade + More (Fall 2005)

By Staff on June 27, 2012


10 Years of FILTER: Issue #17 Revisited, Getting To Know, Wolf Parade + More (Fall 2005)

2012 marks FILTER Magazine's tenth year in print. To celebrate, we are looking back at some of our favorite magazine features, from July 2002’s Issue #1 all the way up to this coming November’s Issue #50.

Getting To Know is a section in the magazine that serves as a good gauge for our predictions of greatness. In FILTER ISSUE #17, released Fall 2005, we introduced Wolf Parade, Dungen, Sons and Daughters, Rob Dickinson, and The Magic Numbers. Here is a brief look at those artists, then and now.

Stay tuned for Issue #17's complete "Who Shot Franz Ferdinand" cover story to be posted later this week.

Getting To Know Recap

ISSUE 17: Fall 2005

Photo By Shane Ward

Band: Wolf Parade

Where They Were Then: Wolf Parade was experiencing the buzz and hype from bloggers and writers before they even released their debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary. Already considered infamous onstage, Wolf Parade wanted to set the record straight about their hubris and antics.

Where They Are Now: The Canadian five-piece proved that they had the talent to live up to the hype with the release of Apologies, At Mount Zoomer (2008) and lastly Expo ’86 (2010). After an extensive tour for their third full length album, Wolf Parade announced that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus to allow their members to work on other musical projects (including Sunset Rubdown and the recently defunct Handsome Furs).

FILTER Said: With buzzing keyboards, charging guitar riffs and the cacophonous chants of two spirited singers, Wolf Parade achieves a remarkable balance between sheer revelry and eerie gloom.

They Said: “That would be the one thing I want people to know: if there is hype, we’re not trying to generate it. We’re really, really self-critical and we’ve never thought—nor do we think now—that we’re so great, or the record we’ve made is so amazing. I think we’ve got enough potential to do really neat things, but I don’t know if we’ve done it quite yet.”


Photo By Tom Sheehan

Band: The Magic Numbers

Where They Were Then: The Magic Numbers were generating lots of buzz in the US and UK thanks to their self-titled debut album.

Where They Are Now: After the overwhelming response to their first album, The Magic Numbers released two more albums including their most recent, 2010’s The Runaway. After the album release and a supporting tour, The Magic Numbers have been laying low.

FILTER Said: That sense of fun made it onto the album, a collection of 13 magical numbers that blend cry-in-your-beer country and left coast pop with glistening blue-eyed soul, all gussied up in the formal wear of three-part harmony.

They Said: “We’re kind of surprised by the whole thing. At the same time, you know, we’ve worked really hard and imagined it for many a year.”


FILTER 48: Strangers in the Night: The Ghost Stories of Poliça

By Lauren Harris; photos by Marc Lemoine on June 21, 2012


FILTER 48: Strangers in the Night: The Ghost Stories of Poliça

It started with a series of beats, of clicks and stops and spaces that four people were to know by heart and build upon. In their cars and in their rooms, the members of Poliça—before they even knew they were the members of Poliça—were given the scaffolding, and without ever discussing it, created their gorgeously sullen, R&B-flecked debut Give You the Ghost.

Orbiting each other through their Minneapolis days, Poliça—comprised of lead singer Channy Leaneagh, drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson and bassist Chris Bierden—was initially less a band than an all-star team, each drafted by producer Ryan Olson, who had created the beats these songs were carved out of, some up to 15 years ago. Olson knew all the members through various Minneapolis musical mainstays Roma di Luna, Vampire Hands, GAYNGS and Bon Iver and, over time, brought each one in to the band by first introducing them to these 11 tracks. In each member, Olson recognized something intrinsic and necessary to the sound Poliça would come to have. While Poliça’s formation may appear to have more in common with a boy band than an artistic endeavor, Leaneagh is quick to point out just how far that is from the case. “It sounds like we were manufactured, put together, but we just wanted to make songs together. It happened pretty organically.

“We knew these beats,” explains Leaneagh of the unorthodox process that created Ghost. “We were all connected to it. We were all reacting to this one thing.” It wasn’t until after the record had been completed, at the band’s first practice, that its members would all inhabit the same space at the same time. Nerves gave way to the crackle of potential once they started to play. “As soon as we started playing and I saw the way [Channy] zoned out and started to dance, I knew it was going to be interesting,” says Christopherson.

While the process of making music in a vacuum might sound challenging, it was a welcome reprieve for Leaneagh, who for years had been one-half of the husband-wife duo behind Roma di Luna with her former spouse Alexei Caselle. The dissolution of that band, and of greater magnitude, her marriage, left Leaneagh in an emotionally depleted space; to conceive of a new way to collaborate was highly appealing. “We don’t have the basis or the history of friendship,” she says. “In a way, it’s a work environment where we want to get along with each other because we work together.” Free of certain interpersonal dynamics that can make life in a band so challenging, the effect is a greater clarity of purpose. “There’s a sense that there’s a mission that we were put together to do.”

In both its construction and the emotions it traffics in, Poliça (pronounced po-lisa, and translating to “policy” in numerous eastern European languages) is getting at something more primitive than the cerebrality that has come to characterize much of independent music. In moments, Leaneagh is a spine-winding seductress; at other times a gorgeous fury, calling up some deep well of emotion that is almost unrecognizable when speaking with the exceedingly polite, pixieish Minnesotan. The decision to drench Leaneagh’s voice in Auto-Tune on virtually every song adds to the bracing chill of Ghost, and places distance between the recorded Leaneagh and the one met in conversation.

The divide is not unintentional, says Leaneagh. “I recorded a lot of the record sitting on my couch smoking cigarettes at 2 a.m.,” she says, alluding to the emotional state she was in last spring while writing the lyrics for this record. “I was in a different mind state, like an alter ego or something.” While Leaneagh is clear about not wishing to return to that place and time, there is a sense of loss communicated over the fact that she could not even if she wanted, a nostalgia for the space she inhabited, and its simplicity. “A lot of the songs are about me being in a relationship, and not being able to give yourself to the relationship anymore, but you can give the ghost of yourself to it.”

Though the band members were essentially strangers when they began playing together, there is a strong current of intimacy between them, and a reverence from the emotional space these songs came out of. “It’s a time capsule,” says Christopherson. “It’s a record of a place in your life that you can’t get back to.”

The band is acutely aware of the conditions under which Ghost was created, and what that might mean for the next Poliça album. There is an inherent inability to once again create in those same circumstances, but the band is unconcerned—there is an excitement to work together, to create from the sum of their parts rather than in isolation. “I am very moved by these beats, and these two drummers and this bass player,” Leaneagh says. “We’ve gotten to know the setup a little better, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do as a band.”   F

10 Years of FILTER: Issue #16 Cover Story: Coldplay

By Staff on June 21, 2012


10 Years of FILTER: Issue #16 Cover Story: Coldplay

2012 marks FILTER Magazine’s tenth year in print. To celebrate, we are looking back at some of our favorite magazine features, from July 2002’s Issue #1 all the way up to this coming November’s Issue #50.

Below you will find Issue #16’s cover story, in full, where we documented the journey into the world of Coldplay and how they got to be the biggest band in the world.

Planet Coldplay (Issue 16, Summer 2005)
By Mikel Jollett
Photos by Steven Dewall

Where Are We?

THE ELEVENTH FLOOR of the Peninsula Hotel in downtown Chicago is a labyrinth of hushed whispers, electric doors and elegant curtains. Room 1109, to be precise, is currently being outfitted with microphones and a small mixing board, manned by two radio professional from Atlanta. Jonny, Guy, Will and Chris of Coldplay are each sequestered in their rooms, awaiting the day’s activities. Publicists and agents walk quietly to and fro adjusting schedules, typing on miniature Palm Pilots, talking on cell phones, hand over mouth, planning the itinerary for the Biggest/Best/Worst/Most Copied/Most Derivative/Most Loved/Most Loathed Band in the World. There is everywhere the quiet hum of subdued industry, the idea one finds in any modern posh locale, that matters of human necessity—food, air temperature, the sound of plumbing, the delivery of ice—must be done with the utmost discretion, as if the very thing that separates man from machine is simply a matter of vulgar needs. The sound of muffled vacuuming abounds. One struggles not to belch.

Eleven stories down and four el-stops to the north, two young men are standing at the front of a line outside of a small Chicago club called the Metro. Their names are Christopher and Nick. They are 23 years old. They’ve been waiting in that line for seven hours. A man in black pants and a red t-shirt has recently approached them and offered sixteen hundred dollars for their two tickets to the Coldplay show this evening. They have declined. Everyone is impressed. The two young men are giddy, though there is a slight accusation in the air that they did it for the story. Still, the scene is festive: a crowd has gathered, a camera crew assembled, Cubs fans file into Wrigley Field across the street. Everyone is, for the moment, sober. This is an event, a precipice, A Place to Be, a happening.

Chris Martin has no idea this is happening. He has come to Chicago with his band to play one of a series of small shows in preparation for a very big tour. At approximately 11:39 a.m. he pounces into room 1109 of the Peninsula Hotel in downtown Chicago. He is wearing black cargo pants, a green army belt and a black windbreaker. He moves swiftly across the room, a ball of frenetic energy, looking for all the world like a big cat. “Check this out,” he says, his attention captured by the panel of buttons on the wall. He pushes one. The curtains part with a minor buzz, revealing a warm metropolis summer day beneath us, Chicagoans scuttling about fountains and civic monuments a hundred feet down. “These things are electric.” His childlike, crystal-blue eyes widen, overwhelming his otherwise scuffish face. You know this look. You’ve seen pictures.

He pounces on the fridge to raid the contents. He opens a bottle of seltzer water. He toys with the radio doo-dad. He offers his hand. “So this is Filter? Does that mean I can use big words?” He laughs. He sits, pressing his fingertips together as if in prayer. His is a disarming smile. Not so much friendly as devious, a smile that includes a wink and says something like: let’s you and me steal the soap later and drop it off the roof. “I remember doing that cover for you a while back,” he says scratching the back of his head in an ape-like gesture. “I think I was jump kicking.”


FILTER 48: Getting to Know: Michael Kiwanuka

By Loren Auda Poin on June 19, 2012


FILTER 48: Getting to Know: Michael Kiwanuka

In a perfect world, Michael Kiwanuka’s debut album would be available only on vinyl. That way, when you wanted to listen to the record—comfortingly titled Home Again—you’d be forced to drop the needle down onto the disc and hear a nice, healthy crackle preceding a voice strong and clear as running water, backed by a band of grooving studio rats worthy of Van Morrison, Otis Redding or any other soulful maven of yore.

Vinyl or no, the rawness and sincerity of Kiwanuka’s voice readily provides the effect of reverse time transit, and that’s exactly what he’s going for. Not that the throwback qualities of Kiwanuka’s music should be overemphasized at the cost of the verve and power of his songs (which, for the record, were written well after the new millennium)—far from it. Rather, his goal is to tap into the timeless torrent of imagination that has inspired his heroes. That’s a motley crew, ranging the classics from Beatles and Stones to James Brown, Shuggie Otis, Sly Stone and Neil Young, with some jazz greats and possibly a little Blur thrown in for good English measure.

Born to Ugandan parents in a middle-class North London neighborhood, Kiwanuka delved into the gleaming stacks of rock, soul and folk to be excavated in the record shops of that grand city. At the impressionable age of 15, he discovered those previously mentioned classic artists and immediately recognized something familiar yet startlingly different from the guitar-based pop bands with which he’d been obsessed. At the same time, the aspiring guitarist found that being well rounded and having both feet on the ground was a good thing, although that stance is sometimes eschewed by many a hard-charging hedonist musician. In fact, he is nothing if not even-keeled, a trait indicated by his long steep in the great and time-tested musical giants of decades past. “All those artists really opened my eyes to how far and wide music could go, which made me take it a lot more seriously,” Kiwanuka says, in an exceedingly polite, gentlemanly tone.

So seriously that, through dint of hard work and an unflagging, almost religiously positive attitude, he was able to land a job as a session guitarist, a job he enjoyed...well, as much as one can enjoy any job. Kiwanuka explains: “That’s when I started to take playing really far and take being a musician really seriously. Just how it felt, how it made me feel and maybe being able to do that every day, that was really appealing. I mean, I was getting paid to play guitar. It was a lot nicer than any other way to make a living. And when I say ‘making a living,’ I mean earning a very small amount of money, but it was enough not to have to get a proper job and for my parents to be happy.”

In the evenings, after bringing the musical dreams of others to life, he focused on his own, teasing out ideas for songs and testing the limits of his steady, powerful voice. Soon, he couldn’t stop. “I just really like expressing myself in song,” he says. “That’s something I really enjoy. Without trying to sound dramatic, I really like doing it and that helps me get over the nervousness of going out on my own and being on stage and things like that. It’s extremely nerve-wracking; it feels like there’s a lot more to lose because you’re so invested in the music, but at the same time you’ve got more to gain, I guess—a lot more.”

Having just made his first record, Kiwanuka is just now finding out how much more gratifying creative freedom can be. Recorded on the Isle of Wight at the house of producer Paul Butler, Home Again features a cast of friendly folks Butler gathered together from the island’s ranks of professional musicians, and the casual vibe mirrors the highly skilled yet loose sound achieved by many of the great pop records of the ’60s and ’70s.


This article is from FILTER Issue 48

10 Years of FILTER: Issue #16 Revisited, Getting to Know, Sufjan Stevens + More (Summer 2005)

By Staff on June 19, 2012


10 Years of FILTER: Issue #16 Revisited, Getting to Know, Sufjan Stevens + More (Summer 2005)

2012 marks FILTER Magazine's tenth year in print. To celebrate, we are looking back at some of our favorite magazine features, from July 2002’s Issue #1 all the way up to this coming November’s Issue #50.

Getting To Know is a section in the magazine that serves as a good gauge for our predictions of greatness. In FILTER ISSUE #16, released Summer 2005, we introduced The Redwalls, Sufjan Stevens, Lemon Jelly, Stars, The Sun and Youth Group. Here is a brief look at those artists, then and now.

Stay tuned for Issue #16's complete "Planet Coldplay" cover story to be posted later this week.

Getting To Know Recap

ISSUE 16: Summer 2005

Photo By Denny Renshaw

Band: Sufjan Stevens

Where They Were Then: Stevens was right in the midst of his seemingly forgotten “50 states project,” having just released Come On Feel the Illinoise. Illinoise shot Sufjan Stevens into the top of the charts and was widely considered the best reviewed album of 2005.

Where They Are Now: Since his breakthrough success with Illinoise, Stevens has released four full length albums and one EP, most recently in 2010. His music has been featured in several films (Little Miss Sunshine) and has contributed to many tribute albums putting his whimsical flourish onto classics such as “Ring Them Bells” and “What Goes On.” Stevens is currently touring Europe with Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly in a musical “song-cycle loosely based on the planets.”

FILTER Said: What happened to just playing guitar? Look at Sufjan Stevens, for instance. Dude studied the oboe. And from there he sat in his Michigan college dorm room and taught himself a whole gaggle of nerdy instruments. Like, what normal 18-year-old learns the banjo for fun? What happened to marijuana?

They Said: “It’s sort of making fun of itself in a way. And part of that is because I think sometimes I take myself too seriously, and I’m worried that my listeners and fans take themselves too seriously, so I’m trying to infuse a bit of humor and relief.”

Band: The Redwalls

Where They Were Then: The ’60s-loving, four-man ensemble from Illinois was at the height of their fame and creativity in the summer of 2005. After hearing the demos from their first album Universal Blues, Noel Gallagher chose them to open for Oasis on their upcoming tour. The Redwalls were also about to release their sophomore album De Nova on Capitol Records.

Where They Are Now: One by one the members of The Redwalls began to leave the band in order to pursue other musical endeavors. All that remains of the original band are Justin and Logan Baren, the retro-loving brothers who started it all. Their last album released was 2007’s The Redwalls

FILTER Said: It’s one thing to have an eye on the past (seems to be the prevailing theme these days) and quite another to want to take the future and paint it red.

They Said: “Most kids weren’t into it for the same reasons—they either wanted to know you’re going to make it big or they want to go to college.”

Band: Lemon Jelly

Where They Were Then: The London based duo of Nick Franglen and Fred Deakin were just about to release their third album on XL: ’64-‘95. Lemon Jelly was known for their incredible sample work and unusual live shows.

Where They Are Now: Lemon Jelly is on an indefinite hiatus. Their website says “Not dead, but sleeping.”

FILTER Said: Lemon Jelly’s music is a great mess of borrowed bites and self-sampled bits, arranged and rearranged into a gloriously smooth and shiny ball that bounces along at the precise beat of a summer-stroll headbob.

They Said: “We like to do things and make them as special and exciting and interesting as possible because we’re very aware, now, that things come and go. None of this can be around forever and it’s really up to us to make most of each opportunity.”

Band: The Sun

Where They Were Then: Ohio natives The Sun were just about to release their first full length album Blame It On the Youth, which was not a regular CD; it was the first and only DVD album with music videos for each track.

Where They Are Now: While their website is defunct and their MySpace never seems to be updated, it seems that The Sun is still kicking! In 2009 they released Don’t Let Your Baby Have All the Fun, which can be found on their MySpace, but there isn’t much more from the boys yet.

FILTER Said: It’s like those Atomic Fireball candies we ate as kids. The closer you got to the middle, the sweeter it got. Those with weaker taste buds would get only half way through before spitting it out, but those that accepted the dare puckered their lips and enjoyed the ride.

They Said: “We hope that people pick up that record and realize they’ve got something that doesn’t sound like anything else.”

Photo by Benjamin Hoste

Band: Youth Group

Where They Were Then: The Aussie quartet had just had their first full length release in the US. Skeleton Jar brought focus to the band (which featured The Vines’ Patrick Matthews) as well as a name in the States.

Where They Are Now: After two releases following Skeleton Jar (Casino Twilight Dogs and The Night is Ours), Youth Group announced that they were on an indefinite hiatus since 2009. Each of the members of Youth Group have spawned their own side projects in the meantime.

FILTER Said: Consider Youth Group, a lush, melancholic rock band being touted as the next big thing from Down Under, yet Martin spends his days toiling under fluorescent lights.

They Said: “This record definitely felt like a really big step for us. It feels very different—it’s really us finding out who we are.”

10 Years of FILTER: Issue # 15 Cover Story: Queens Of The Stone Age & The Mars Volta

By Staff, Photos by Steven Dewall on June 15, 2012


10 Years of FILTER: Issue # 15 Cover Story: Queens Of The Stone Age & The Mars Volta

2012 marks FILTER Magazine’s tenth year in print. To celebrate, we are looking back at some of our favorite magazine features, from July 2002’s Issue #1 all the way up to this coming November’s Issue #50.

Below you will find Issue #15’s cover story, in full, where we sat down with The Mars Volta and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age to discuss the false allure of musical perfection.

The Immaculate Resurrection of Art Rock (Issue 15, Spring 2005)
By Gree LaGambina
Photography by Steven Dewall

Coming Down The Mountain. The Impossible Arrival of The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age

THE DESERT MADE HIM. He's restless as a tumbleweed, self-contained like a cactus, he's all the desert metaphors you can throw at him, he's 6'5 and solid and the singer, songwriter, guitarists and mind behind Queens of the Stone Age. His name is Josh Homme (pronounced like "commie"), he's about to release Lullabies to Paralyze, his fourth full-length under the QOTSA moniker. He's twice a legend--while the current Queens one builds, he still has legions who swoon over the music he made Kyuss, the Palm Desert pioneers of what was unfortunately (if not accurately) deemed "stoner rock," who collapsed and scattered after three records, not before inspiring legions of lesser bands who perhaps thought the primary ingredient to make such fault-line quivering, beneath-the-ground sounds was indeed, weed, not chops.

He's come a long way from those meandering baritone epics and finds himself brandishing sharper and shorter methods today, less atonal and without his childhood friend and former Kyuss collaborator (bassist Nick Oliveri, "dismissed" over apparent chemical shenanigans and behavior during the endless touring in support of QOTSA's third, Songs for the Deaf), making music not that bounds as high as his falsetto and as low as Mark Lanegan's backing vocals, all skipping along with some of his catchiest melodies ever. Nitpickers and naysayers have charged that Homme's songs can drone too much, but with Lullabies, if anything he may not even be in a metal band anymore, but a machine of melody chuffing along with every sludgy down-pick. He's still mining in similar caverns but never has he hit such sing-a-long peaks as the darkly playful "Little Sister" or "In My Head," Never has been so thoughtful as on "LongSlow Goodbye." And here he is now, hovering, taking slow slips from a Stella Artois, smoking a Camel, making the Mars Volta laugh.

"You're so little! I just want to grab your butts and lift you into the air!"

Cedric and Omar guffaw with force and at length, they both barely clear the 5-foot mark, by my estimation. And probably wear women's jeans. Tiny people, huge music, the Mars Volta.


FILTER 48: En Pointe: The Brutal, Beautiful Art of Grimes

By Kendah El-Ali; photos by Marc Lemoine; art by Grimes on June 13, 2012


FILTER 48: En Pointe: The Brutal, Beautiful Art of Grimes

It comes as no surprise that Claire Boucher has the four symbols from the stones in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element tattooed on her fingers. As visually striking as a carrot-topped Milla Jovovich running around in that Jean Paul Gaultier bandage outfit—and certainly no less alien than the blue diva—Boucher is equally an embodiment of the pure love and positive energy the symbols represent. Though this heroine’s hair may be lime green, depending on the day, and the ring on her finger a plastic re-creation of her friend’s vagina, one thing is for certain: she’s in it for the love of creation. Thing is, she’s a real person. Nobody made Grimes up, except Boucher herself.

Grimes is both an artist and a musician. On what appears to be a meteoric path upwards, the 24-year-old is at once completely out in left field as she is a surprisingly shrewd visionary. She produces her own music (including her third album, Visions, released on 4AD this spring) while carrying off an unlikely pop diva aesthetic at the same time. She makes insanely intricate, deeply creepy drawings that are both frightening and riveting. She shoots unsettling art videos with her friends. She flanks herself on stage with a topless, all-boy backup band. She pulls off singing with a lisp, and her music will make you dance like a maniac. She cites Jenna Jameson as a source of wisdom and inspiration. She’s the high priestess in a surrealist cult that’s centered around bureaucracy (nothing can happen in the cult, because there’s too much paperwork to be done). She considers the hyena to be her spirit animal. Her lucky number is eight. She’s modern-day, off-the-wall girl power, fueled by an uncanny grasp on the reality of the world for someone her age. A little unsure of herself, she’s also candid, warm and hilarious in person, and utterly adorable as a result.

Boucher grew up in Vancouver in a house of mostly boys, fed on a creative diet of ballet and comic books. Her mother is a politician, and her grandparents taught her how to shoot guns—“in case of an unforeseeable world disaster,” Boucher says. Though she went off to college like many normal girls do, she found herself kicked out of Montreal’s McGill University not too long thereafter. The creation of Grimes was the culprit. Her inner goblin had to get out and make itself apparent, and luckily for the rest of us, Boucher heeded its call. Today’s artistic landscape would be a much less colorful place without her.

FILTER caught up with Boucher in New York’s Bowery Hotel. Fresh off a photo shoot and with a sparkling bindi over her third eye, she chatted about her art, being a pothead and, in her words, how she’s attempting to combat “the certain banality of pop music today.” Sorry, Leeloo; you’ve been upstaged. Grimes really is the future.


10 Years of FILTER: Issue #15 Revisited, Getting To Know Tim Burgess, Mando Diao + More(Spring 2005)

By Staff on June 13, 2012


10 Years of FILTER: Issue #15 Revisited, Getting To Know Tim Burgess, Mando Diao + More(Spring 2005)

Getting To Know is a section in the magazine that serves as a good gauge for our predictions of greatness. In FILTER ISSUE #15, released Spring 2005, we introduced Tim Burgess, Mando Diao, Embrace, Amusement Parks On Fire and Kasabian. Here is a brief look at those artists, then and now.

Stay tuned for Issue #15's complete "Coming Down The Mountain: The Impossible Arrival of The Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Ages" cover story to be posted later this week.

Getting To Know Recap

ISSUE 15: Spring 2005

Photo by Dean Chalkley

Band: Kasabian

Where They Were Then: The lads from Leicester were riding the hype and newfound popularity of their 2004 debut album, Kasabian, while working on their sophomore full-length Empire, which was released in 2006.

Where They Are Now: The band have been massively popular in the UK and Europe as well as the US for all four of their major releases (including last years Velociraptor!) resulting in countless headlining tours and music awards, as well as appearances at major music festivals including last month’s Coachella. Kasabian released a 10” vinyl of their most recent single Man of Simple Pleasures on May 7, just before embarking on a massive European tour.

FILTER Said: And regardless of the nefarious origins of their name, the misunderstood manifesto or all of the hype, there is a powerful, intoxicating mystique at work here—one which reminds us that there are those folks (whether they be clever musicians or self-proclaimed Wizards) who can somehow convince us that they’re capable of doing just about anything.

They Said: “You do silly things like stay up until it’s seven in the morning—do lots of bugle and drink loads of red wine. And I know it sounds fucking stupid, but I think that’s why the music’s got the balls, because we’re the people who get into trouble and have fun.”

Photo by Jimmy James

Band: Tim Burgess

Where They Were Then: The lead singer of The Charlatans UK had just moved to Los Angeles, spurring fears of a band breakup. Burgess was just on the verge of releasing his first solo album entitled I Believe.

Where They Are Now: I Believe was Burgess’ only solo effort, but The Charlatans UK continue to go strong, having released Who We Touch in 2010 and are currently working in the studio on a new full length album. This June, The Charlatans UK will be performing 1997’s Tellin’ Stories in its entirety London HMV Hammersmith Apollo and Glasgow Barrowland.

FILTER Said: If only I Believe came with a few brightly colored drinks adorned with paper umbrellas and an endless stretch of white sand; then life would be truly perfect.

They Said: “I’m sure a lot of it was to prove a point to myself that I could do it and also prove to the rest of the band that they’re ignoring the best songwriter we’ve got.”


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