thenewno2's Dhani Harrison Answers Questions Before Performing at Amoeba

Posted by Billy Gil, July 31, 2012 02:23pm | Post a Comment
The first time I heard thenewno2 was in my car, listening to KCRW. Their song “Make It Home” was on, and I was immediately taken with its unusual, insistent melody. It was enough to get me Shazamming the song immediately and discovering who this band was. This method of discovery is appropriate enough, given the band's fusion of electronic experimentation, programmed sounds and rock hooks. I was surprised to find out the band’s singer is Dhani Harrison, son of my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. But not only does he look like his father, his voice bears a pretty strong resemblance as well. The now Los Angeles-based (formed in London) band, which includes Grammy-winning sound engineer Paul Hicks, as well as Jonathan Sadoff, Jeremy Faccone, Nick Fyffe and Frank Zummo, will perform at Amoeba Hollywood today at 6 p.m. and sign copies sold at the store of their second album (which is out today), thefearofmissionout. Harrison even mentioned the performance on Conan — sweet! I caught up with Harrison a bit before their performance.

PST: What did you try to do differently on this time around compared to the last album?

Harrison: Write better songs. Work with more people. Get more a group vibe going, more of a collective, different heads in the game, more creative, more players on the pitch. Mash it up a bit more. The last one was being like a lonely astronaut. This record kind of like a big gang.

PST: Who were some of the influences this time around?

Harrison: I went back to listening to a lot of blues, so, like Howlin’ Wolf. Obviously, Thom Yorke has been a big inspiration to me. I love Bjork. Paul’s really into Burial. We like Amon Tobin, Squarepusher.

thefearofmissingoutPST: Can you talk a bit about the concept behind thefearofmissingout?

Harrison: Everyone suffers from some degree of FOMO and it can affect your life, detrimentally. I think I’ve tried to therapize myself from the different stages of FOMO with this record … and it’s helped to a certain extent, and it created new forms of FOMO in a way as well, but change is like the opposite of FOMO. So change can be used as an agent to help you deal with your FOMO. If you’re experiencing change and you’re going with it, then you shouldn’t be too connected to the things that you’re afraid of missing out on.

PST: How did RZA become involved for “The Wait Around”?

Harrison: We did that song four years ago in my bedroom, and it’s been waiting around … hence the name. He’s always been a big influence as a team leader, specifically … the way he put the Wu-Tang together and the way he produces and just the way he’s an all-around inspiring, genius kind of guy. I see a lot of RZA in thenewno2, in the way that it’s structured, so to get him involved seemed like a natural fit from the beginning and that’s why he was into it … because it was.

PST: Was there always the plan to feature rapping on a track?

Harrison: Yeah. I’ve always loved Wu-Tang and this is experimental music. We’re trying to see where things cross over. Blues and rap and hip-hop and guitars … where does it all meet up? There’s a place somewhere where it does, and some might think it works and some might think it doesn’t. I happen to think it works. Experiencing different stuff, that’s what it’s about.

PST: Songs like “I Won’t Go” and “Make It Home” are catchy enough to stand alongside bands like Muse on rock radio but they’ve also got really interesting sounds and ideas fitted into the radio-ready melodies. Is that a goal with thenewno2, to create something that is widely appealing but has an experimental quality as well?

Harrison: It’s always good if your music is widely appealing, especially if it’s experimental music. Bands like Pink Floyd achieved that with experimental, deeply experimental music … and The Beatles too, experimented with studio records that became highly popular and part of society. So, ideally, all music that you make you want it to be readily consumed by everyone. I don’t mind making pop music and occasionally you accidentally make something catchy.

PST: I’ve read the unusual nature of the band name was in part to have the band stand on its own apart from your background. Was it important, too, to have the band not sound “Beatlesesque” for lack of a better term? Or does that worry not come up?

Harrison: What is Beatlesesque? They went through so many different styles of music. I’m sure at some point every band can sound Beatlesesque, other than, you know … Magnetic Man.

PST: The band name and album name and way they’ve been presented also make me think they are commentary on modern language and technology, sort of the condensing of words and dropping of space and punctuation you see on social networks. It also seems to fit the band’s music and presentation as this sort of post-modern idea of rock music. Did that enter into the conceptualization of the band?

Harrison: Yes. The whole thing was started as a collective. Eventually we’ll have to write everything with no punctuation, spelling, spaces … everything now is hashtagged. I gave the band this name back in 2001, so I think that, ironically, you’re starting to realize it now. I just happened to see the way that it was going and I chose a long view.

PST: Is Fistful of Mercy (Harrison's band with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur) still active?

Harrison: If and when the opportunity presents itself to do another record, I would. But right now we are all deep into our own projects so it’s not happening for awhile.

PST: What are the long-term plans for thenewno2?

Harrison: Lots more collaborations. Lots more records. A lot of festivals. We’d like to play a lot of festivals this year and get the music to the people that actually will appreciate it. We just recorded an acoustic EP which is going to come out, so just continuing to show the varying different styles of thenewno2. Building on top of what we’ve done, working with lots more great artists. We look forward to working with Shephard Fairey again, and Ben Eine, and look forward to working with new people that we haven’t even discovered yet.

Albums Out Today: Reissues From Blur, Yaz, At the Drive-In, Plus New Albums and Preorders

Posted by Billy Gil, July 31, 2012 01:11pm | Post a Comment
This week sees a huge set of reissues from Blur, among others ...

at the drive-inAt the Drive-InIn/Casino/Out
Though At the Drive-In’s third and final full-length, Relationship of Command, gets more attention for being the post-hardcore band’s breakthrough, At the Drive-In’s second album, In/Casino/Out, is the best representation of the band at the height of its powers. The album was recorded live to capture the band in its native environment, as the band had begun to make their name on explosive live shows that would lead to word-of-mouth expansion of their fanbase, and true to form listening to In/Casino/Out now feels like travelling back in time to when the band was playing basement shows, before Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López’s The Mars Volta would play to massive crowds in the following decade. You see the beginnings of that band in how Bixler-Zavala crams verbiage into “Alpha Centauri” and the band makes the 3:13 song feel like an epic, but the live recording makes it feel manageable, most of the lyrics spat out quickly and its movements more memorable than the Volta’s proggy opuses. It’s also easy to forget how catchy the band could be, and a run of mid-album cuts proves this, including “Pickpocket,” with its instantly memorable, if incomprehensible screamed chorus. The band would also slow down to great effect on “For Now…We Toast,” which clips the distance between the band’s more melodic and aggressive leanings. But the album stands together as a whole, as well, with song after song coming at you with a warm assault of visceral guitar attacks and complex wordplay.
blur 21Blur Reissues

Blur releases a mass of reissues on LP today, as well as its Blur 21 box set, celebrating 21 years of the Britpop band. To these ears, the incredibly solid Parklife and relentlessly experimental 13 have always been the essential Blur albums, but I also have a newfound appreciation of Leisure, their first album. Before they were kings of Britpop, Blur were a fresh-faced band of whelps wielding shoegaze guitars and madchester beats into a neat package, no better than on the funk-inspired “There’s No Other Way” or throbbing “Bang.” Yes, Leisure is sort of Blur’s Pablo Honey, where the band was still finding its footing, but Leisure also stands on its own, thanks to the fact that Damon Albarn and co. had more personality than most of their countrymen in 1991. You saw the beginnings of Albarn’s experimentalism in the percussive elements underpinning the slow-burning alt-rock of “Repetition” and accordion riff looping under the dream-pop guitar squalls of “Bad Day.” Even at its most derivative, such as the “Only Shallow” aping riff of “Slow Down,” Leisure is still a an early ’90s time capsule of a record with plenty of pleasure to spare, and one that hinted at the heights Blur and Albarn would achieve later on. Maybe I just like it now because every song sounds kind of like My Bloody Valentine's "Soon." Regardless, all of the albums are worth checking out, including Blur, Modern Life is Rubbish, The Great Escape and Think Tank.
yaz upstairs at eric'sYaz Upstairs at Eric’s
In these days of excellent darkwave revivalists like Light Asylum, Yaz and its best album, Upstairs at Eric’s, seem more prescient than ever. The albums big hits all have a certain desperation that often underpins some of the best pop songs. “Don’t Go,” despite its memorable synth hook, boasts lyrics like “I turned around when I heard the sound of footsteps on the floor/Said, ‘He was a killer,’ now I know it's true/I'm dead when you walk out the door.” Vince Clarke, who penned early Depeche Mode classics like “Just Can’t Get Enough” before splitting for Yaz (and later Erasure), offers spare backdrop that favors tiny, interlocking synth riffs rather than big blankets of chords for Moyet to pour herself over. Moyet’s deep vocals hit hard throughout, especially on “Midnight” and the classic “Only You,” slow, sad new wave ballads that would be nowhere without Moyet offering some much-needed soul to a genre often saddled with wispy male vocals. Upstairs at Eric’s is a lot of fun, too, even with its more emotional tunes — Clarke’s synths mimic ’50s rock tropes and disco shimmer to great effect on “Bad Connection” and “Goodbye Seventies,” respectively, while Moyet’s exuberant kiss-offs and creepy laugh make “Situation” one of the best feel-good breakup songs around.

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Coachella 2009 30/30 Initiative: thenewno2

Posted by Amoebite, March 30, 2009 06:12pm | Post a Comment
127 Bands, 5 Stages, 3 Days and 1 Mean Sunburn.

"Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - April 17-19th, 2009 or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Find 30 Reasons To Love a Weekend in the Desert."

- By Scott Butterworth

Coachella Lineupthenewno2

Day #14 - Artist #14 - thenewno2 (pronounced "the new number two"):


Paul McCartney is not going to be the only one with Beatle blood on stage at this year's Coachella. On Saturday April 18, 2009, thenewno2 are prepared to grab the baton from where the "quiet one" unfortunately handed it off much too early. Dhani Harrison, son of the late great George Harrison, along with longtime friend and musical partner Oliver Hecks, comprise the creative mind of thenewno2. The result is the accomplished debut album, You Are Here, released tomorrow, March 31st, that sounds like what one would expect if post-Beatles George joined Radiohead. Dhani never gives the impression that he's trying to be a Beatle, but he definitely hasn't forgotten that he is the son of one.