BY NATE ‘IGOR’ SMITH
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2015
Ben Nichols brought his long-running Memphis-based act, Lucero, to Webster Hall on Thursday, October 8, 2015. The alt-country act is touring in support of it’s eleventh LP, the more “nuanced” All A Man Should Do, on which Nichols played exclusively on acoustic guitar. Nichols told the Voice’s Luke McCormick, “When you’re playing loud and fast, it’s a little easier to pull through anything because you can get drunk and turn it up. I don’t get too nervous before a tour anymore, but I’m feeling anxiety with this one. It feels a bit like going back to where we started from musically, which is scary but also exciting.”
“We’re still a little bit punk,” says drummer of futuristic trio
By Hank Shteamer October 27, 2015
Cutting-edge instrumental trio Battles is having a big year. The group has been in flux ever since vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton departed in 2010, but the recent La Di Da Di finds the current lineup — keyboardist-guitarist Ian Williams, bassist Dave Konopka and drummer John Stanier — displaying a newfound cohesion. We recently caught up with the band at a headlining gig at NYC’s Webster Hall.
Our exclusive video features footage from the show, showcasing Battles’ trademark blend of robotic rhythms and primal rock energy, as well as intimate interview footage. “We’re still a little bit punk, in the sense that mistakes aren’t the end of the world,” says Stanier of the group’s live shows. “We work with our mistakes — to our advantage, sometimes.” Williams builds on the sentiment, adding, “You could have an uninspired ‘perfect’ performance.”
Battles begin a European tour on October 28th. They hit Asia starting November 19th and move on to Singapore, New Zealand and Australia in early 2016.
Those most likely to inspire clothing removal, start a teenage cult, O.D. on twee, and other superlatives
SPIN Staff // October 19, 2015
Wisest Beyond Her Years: Kaya Stewart (Neon Gold, Webster Hall)
The daughter of Eurthymics founder Dave Stewart, Kaya’s a 15-year-old electro-pop pixie with a gritty rasp years ahead of where it should be at such a young age. Ripping through a short set of her own singles (this summer’s “In Love With a Boy” was a notable, impassioned standout), Stewart also threw in a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me,” which was originally recorded 20 years before her birth, a song that nevertheless gained new, sprightly legs when the singer puffed it through with airy, lilting harmonies and a worn-down chorus. Expect big things. — BRENNAN CARLEY
Best Belgian Band Selling Out European Stadiums: Oscar & the Wolf (Neon Gold, Webster Hall)
One glance at lead singer Max Colombie’s Instagram shows scenes of the glitzy dream-pop band selling out massive venues overseas, which is why seeing Oscar & the Wolf in Webster Hall’s tiny Marlin Room felt electric with the possibility that, when they’ve graduated to similarly-sized U.S. venues, this would be an intimate show to remember during the fledgling stages of their career. Though their songs only flirted with the cusp of actual drops, the chilly tension Colombie’s voice achieved kept the entire affair shrouded in the ramped-up tension of an endless build. With a shimmering cape draped loosely around his shoulders, Colombie barely made eye contact throughout the band’s set but still managed to grip a roomful of rapt attendees. — B.C.
Best R. Kelly/Miguel Cover: Phoebe Ryan (Neon Gold, Webster Hall)
Having worked with SPIN faves the Knocks before, Ryan’s already got a pretty firm grasp on what makes for a show-stopping number, a reality she demonstrated with a floor-to-ceiling singalong of her 2015 take on a mashup between R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” and Miguel’s “Do You…” Something so obvious just shouldn’t work so well, but Ryan’s aerated, candy-shelled singing brought out an unironically slick sweetness from the mix. — B.C.
Leon Bridges’s soul and gospel sound at Webster Hall, plus Powerhouse 2015 in Pop Scene
By ANDY BETA
Oct. 20, 2015 5:49 p.m. ET
125 E. 11th St.; (212) 353-1600
Less than two years ago, Leon Bridges worked as a dishwasher, his music only heard at open-mic nights around Fort Worth, Texas—until his powerful pipes caught the attention of Columbia Records and crowds at SXSW. Now 26 years old, Mr. Bridges’s sound is steeped in a gospel and soul that predates his generation by nearly three decades. Listening to his debut album, “Coming Home,” the first name that comes to mind on is Sam Cooke, but there are notes of Otis Redding, Aloe Blacc and John Legend as well.
Posted October 5 2015 — 5:44 PM EDT
Back in August, mid-Aughts R&B songstress JoJo dropped a “tringle” — her creatively-titled trio of new songs. Now the 24-year-old singer has announced a North American tour to drum up excitement for her upcoming third studio album, her first since 2006’s The High Road.
Consisting of 23 dates, the “I Am JoJo” tour kicks off Nov. 2 in Minneapolis and wraps Dec. 20 in New Orleans. Despite performing a smattering of tour dates and releasing two mixtapes and an EP since The High Road, a label dispute hindered JoJo’s music career for years. “Say Love,” “Save My Soul,” and “When Love Hurts” — the tringle trifecta — are expected to appear on her Atlantic Records debut, which is due sometime in 2016.
“This is the next chapter of my career that I’ve been waiting for, you know, just to be able to put out music,” JoJo recently told EW. “I’m also 24, so I feel like I’m just starting.”
Check out “When Love Hurts” and tour dates below.
JoJo plays the Marlin Room at Webster Hall November 3rd – click here for tickets
16. The Marlin Room at Webster Hall — New York, NY
Any given night, Webster Hall’s walls are booming with some of the best live acts in the nation. National touring acts play the Grand Ballroom, but for a sweaty, intimate vibe, thrash about in the Studio, and, for a bit more elbow room, head upstairs to the Marlin Room.
BY KATHERINE TURMANTUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015
Steve ‘N’ Seagulls
Photo by Jaakko Manninen
So, a Finnish bluegrass hillbilly band walks into a bar….No, it’s not the beginning of a joke, it’s the start of an evening on Steve ‘N’ Seagulls’ first-ever U.S. tour. If there’s a punchline, it’s that they play metal songs like Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” but with the twangy tones of mandolin and banjo subbing in for the hard stuff. Oh, and they’re serious about it.
Yet the quintet are also as much fun as their band name indicates. On Facebook, they list their current location as perunamaa, a potato patch, but they’re actually driving across the United States in the RV “tour bus.” They’re en route to West Virginia, touring in support of their Spinal Tap–ishly named debut album, Farm Machine. Today it’s singer/guitarist Irwin Remmell calling for a chat — he’s hanging with banjo player Hermann de German while the rest of the band (Pukki Kaalinen, the mononymous Puikkonen, and Wild Till Hiltunen) drive or nap.
Steve ‘N’ Seagulls are a part of a metal subsect inspired by heavy greats and inventive instrumentation. There’s another Finnish, Metallica-inspired, cello-wielding outfit, Apocalyptica; there’s Steel Panther, a glam-metal parody band. Then there’s Hayseed Dixie, an American group (their moniker a linguistic play on AC/DC) who have been purveying “rock grass” since 2001.
But Steve ‘N’ Seagulls are none of the above. “We’re not a novelty, not a joke,” begins Remmell, in accented but otherwise excellent English. “The point is, we want to have fun, and [we want] our audience to have fun. On the other hand, as musicians, we really want to push ourselves to do all the music, the recordings, the arrangements best we can. That’s what we mean about no ‘humor.’ We don’t make [music] as a joke, we make the songs as good as we can. We aim more and more to find our own thing, and make something unique with this mixture of a rock band [and] a bluegrass lineup, playing like a mixture of rock and metal and country,” he explains. “Also, as I said, we want to have fun.”
So far they are doing just that on this tour, which began on the West Coast and now barrels eastward, leaving no time to visit such American icons as the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine (Cawker City, Kansas) or the World’s Biggest Beagle (Cottonwood, Idaho). Steve ‘N’ Seagulls have bigger reindeer to fry. (“I suppose some people who do not live in Scandinavia are sort of terrified of eating Santa Claus’s reindeer,” Remmell acknowledges.)
The American landscape currently unfurling on the other side of the RV window is not especially reminiscent of the Finnish town where the band members first met more than a decade ago. “We all ended up in a town three and a half hours north of Helsinki, in Jyväskylä. Two came to university, three to study music,” the singer says. “It’s a small town, so everybody who plays an instrument there eventually gets to meet each other.” The members were in various original bands — Remmell and two other current SNS members in a “grunge/garage” outfit — but SNS’s current style was birthed in 2011, before Remmell joined. The players were “asked to do something special for a theme party that had a western or country theme,” explains Remmell, “and they arranged a few songs for that, and the idea came from there. It started to live its own life as a side project. Then…they asked me [to join], and since then  we’ve been doing it this way. It was a little bit by an accident.”
It takes talent to rework a metal song in a winning hillbilly style, and the band has found that not every tune is suitable. “There are quite many different bands and songs that we’ve had to put aside, because we haven’t found the way to redo or rearrange them. It requires a solid riff and something in the song that you can rearrange.” So far, “we tried something from Kiss, something from Van Halen. We might still work on them, but we didn’t get them done for the first album; maybe for the second one. “
The first record features covers from AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses, and Pantera, and to date, SNS haven’t heard from any of the bands they’ve tackled. “But we hope they are happy; it’s us honoring their classics.“ They haven’t heard from Steven Seagal, either, the inspiration for their band name and the actor who also calls himself a “film producer, screenwriter, film director, martial artist, musician, reserve deputy sheriff, and entrepreneur.” That said, “We would really love to meet him, because we like his movies.” And, yes, Remmell has a favorite, but he is unable to give the title in English. “We translate the movie names, which are usually totally nothing to do with the original name,” he explains. His favorite has Seagal as an ex-CIA agent on a train that gets attacked. (Under Siege? Above the Law?) Phonetically, it sounds like “Kipr Us Ray Dayla.”
Though Remmell was an exchange student in Minnesota in the late Nineties, he’s never visited the Big Apple, and has two thoughts about the city, which he’s aware of via movies and some of his favorite concert films, like Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden. “We’re just excited to see the way that people live; is it actually so busy as it seems?” he wonders.
While Steve ‘N’ Seagulls are thrilled with their first American tour and the reception they’ve gotten thus far, they’re also looking to 2016 and hope to begin a second album in February. Yes, it will still be heavy covers: “We all grew up listening to metal music and playing metal, because it’s big thing in Finland. I like all the bands that we cover on the first album. I really like Rammstein, and we wanted to do something a little off mainstream, which is why we wanted to do a song in German [“Ich Will”]. Ha, a bluegrass band playing a heavy metal song in German.”
And let’s not forget the farm theme that permeates much of Farm Machine: It’s not shtick. “Most of the videos have been shot at our accordion player’s home farm, and the pictures on the album cover are taken there,” the frontman says. “We have gone there to work on songs and do some BBQ and have a few beers.” And the adorable shaggy miniature horse in many of these scenarios? That’s Benjamin. No, he’s not on tour with the band. And despite the appearance of at least partial insanity thanks to the band’s persona, songs, and videos, Remmell isn’t expecting too much for the end-of-tour NYC after-party. Certainly not the hookers ‘n’ blow of previous generations of touring metal bands. So what shenanigans might occur? Remmell laughs a bit shamefacedly. “Sitting down, having a few beers, and laughing our asses off. I’m a bit boring; no strippers for me.”
Steve ‘N’ Seagulls play the Studio at Webster Hall on September 28. For ticket information, click here.