together PANGEA do rock ‘n’ roll as it was meant to be – raw, unpredictable, and probably dangerous, but also blazing with intelligence, emotion, and edgy experimentation. The Los Angeles-based trio made their bones as purveyors of post-millennial punk, but with their third full-length release – and Harvest Records debut – BADILLAC, they pay their debt to the supersonic 90s rock that first inspired them. The band has not sacrificed a spurt of precious energy, instead integrating nuance and dynamic momentum to songs like “No Way Out” and the undeniably badass title track. The volcanic riffs and massive melodies are matched by an equally provocative lyrical stance, with songs like “Sick Shit” and the album-closing “Where The Night Ends” casting an acerbic eye over the wreckage of the party they helped start – it’s 3am and the drunken fun has given way to sexual panic, anxiety and self-doubt. Slightly stoned but by no means slack, BADILLAC reveals together PANGEA to be both confident and surprisingly committed, their audacious ambition already impossible to contain.
“It might be confusing for people, assuming we’re like this garage punk band and then hearing this record,” says singer/songwriter/guitarist William Keegan. “But we really don’t want to get trapped at all.”
Keegan first started writing and recording in his Santa Clarita bedroom, his teenage tapes eventually coming to full flower with the aid of bassist Danny Bengston and drummer Erik Jimenez. Known then simply as Pangea, the band played countless beer blasts in and around CalArts, their boozy mayhem and breakneck pop hooks quickly earning them frenzied crowds throughout the Southern California DIY scene and beyond. A string of seven-inches, cassettes, and LPs – including 2011’s ace second album, LIVING DUMMY, released by Burger Records and The Smell’s Olfactory label – followed, as did gigs alongside a veritable who’s-who of like-minded rockers, including Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Wavves, and The Black Lips (not to mention 2013’s epic “Burgerama Caravan of Stars” US tour).
BADILLAC was recorded with their longtime producer/engineer Andrew Schubert over three intensive sessions at his Tarzana studio, their roster augmented by second guitarist Cory Hanson (of the electronic pop outfit, W-H-I-T-E). While many bands in their position would have simply continued banging out the party punk, together PANGEA decided to throw a curveball at themselves and their fervent fanbase.
“We wrote like 30 plus songs for this record,” Bengston says, “half of which have the same punky bubblegum vibe of our last record. Then we had this other batch of songs, a little more melancholy, a little heavier, a little darker. I think in the end we just decided to try to not make the same record twice.”
“When I write, there are certain songs that I feel fit the band,” Keegan says, “and then there are songs where it doesn’t feel like they fit. At some point, I was like, maybe we should try some of the songs that don’t necessarily fit. Because I realized that they do fit – they’re just different.”
Though Keegan cites such unexpected heroes as Pete Seeger and 21st Century K Records artists like Little Wings and the Microphones, he fully fesses up to BADILLAC’s most primal inspirations. Indeed, songs like “Why” and the cello-laced “No Way Out” fuse classic post punk ambivalence with fist-pumping stadium rock, their neurotic hooks, throat-rending vocals, and fat, distorted riffs hearkening back to the glory days of the alternative nation.
“To me, the album is so obviously influenced by the shit that I was listening to when I was 16,” Keegan says. “Growing up in the 90s, all that stuff – Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer. It wasn’t conscious, the album just sounds like that. It feels like that music is etched in deeper that music I’ve listened to as an adult. For whatever reason, the music you listened to when you’re confused and young gets in deeper than anything you might listen to later.”
BADILLAC also sees together PANGEA stepping away from their association with a much-hyped scene they believe too often revels in its own idiocy, Keegan’s wry lyrics pushing both their music and subject matter towards unsettling themes of impotence, fear, ennui, and detachment.
“We think less and less about how we fit into this garage punk scene that we never even technically felt a part of,” Keegan says. “We just kinda get lumped into that. I’m not really stoked on what a lot of those bands are saying, there’s a lot of misogyny and stuff I’m not into.”
Like any angst-ridden tunesmith worth his salt, Keegan also directs his gaze inwards, coming to turns with his own cynical view of relationships on songs like the mordant “Offer,” their cracked melodies and jaundiced skepticism fueled by his recent romantic struggles.
“I went through a really difficult relationship where we were breaking up every three months for four years,” he says. “At the end of it, I was just like, “This is never gonna work.’ It was pretty intense and I think that informs a lot of the songs on the album.
“It’s kinda funny,” he adds. “As soon as we finished this record, we broke up for good.”
BADILLAC will drive together PANGEA through 2014, their imminent plans essentially consisting of touring until they drop. Nevertheless, the band finds themselves in the unprecedented position of having to ponder the future.
“We’ve been discussing where the next record is gonna go,” Bengston says, “we still haven’t put our finger on it yet.”
“It’s weird,” Keegan says, “because we never had to have those formal discussions, like, ‘What should the next record sound like?’ It’s always been pretty natural. Hopefully that’s what’ll end up happening again”.
As a child, lead singer Melle Dielesen (23) spent countless hours in front of the television watching and rewinding the animated movie Prince of Egypt. It tells the ancient tale of Mozes. In which God as one of his Ten Plagues in order to harass the tyrannical Pharaoh, commands all the firstborn in the land of Egypt dead. A rather macabre plot, which along with the rest of the movie made a deep impression on the young Melle.
Several years later Melle found himself living in London writing songs. When he was in need of a name for this novel musical project, his childhood fascination soared back to him. Mozes and the Firstborn, so was decided, was to be the name of his new still-to-be-formed band. In 2010 he returned to his hometown of Eindhoven, the Netherlands to look for potential band members. Through a mutual acquaintance he met drummer Raven Aartsen (18) and the two young guns decided to work together to chase their dream of becoming full-time musicians. It was not before long when high-school friend and bassist Corto Blommaert (23) was recruited to join the duo. Their first EP I Got Skills was released shortly after this. Ultimately, a year and a half later guitarist Ernst-Jan van Doorn (28) was added as the fourth member and consequently the band reached its final and definite state.
Rather soon the four-piece started building up a reputation in the Dutch music scene on grounds of their energetic live shows. As everyone who has experienced one can tell: you don’t just go to a Mozes show, you live one. Imagine an all-round rock n’ roll spectacle in which standing still nears the impossible. From Melle’s vocals and frantic demeanor, to Corto and Ernst’s gnarly dance moves, to the powerhouse which is Raven Aartsen: when Mozes is on the stage, you feel something is happening. Although each member has its own unique style and way of moving, they manage to struck the spectator as a solid whole. And this is where the band’s power lies.
Because although started as an initiative mostly by Melle and Raven, Mozes and the Firstborn grew to be a democratic institution in which every band member was able to pour his own creative hunches. Most of the time Melle lays the groundwork for the songs, and subsequently the band jointly sets out to make these blueprints into actual constructions; to which every member can add his own specific qualities.
What more binds the four members is their love for downright rock n’ roll. It shows from the music they make in which they combine the bravado and stamina of the young Rolling Stones, with the ramshackle sleaziness of the Black Lips and the Strange Boys, with the strong songwriting by the likes of Guided by Voices and Ty Segall. All these ingredients culminate into the genre they themselves define as ‘garagepop’.
All in all, Mozes and the Firstborn is a talented young band bursting with ambition. A sympathetic pack of young dogs, ready to export their product far across the borders of their beloved home country. But maybe most of all Mozes and the Firstborn is a group of friends. A group of friends who in the summer of 2012 decided to take their music career more seriously, and direct all their efforts towards this end. Talent abundant, energy by the bagful and the skills to make it through your doorway: Mozes and the Firstborn is a party. And everyone is invited.
Love Is The Law, the second installment to the saga of The Memories, is a stoned tale of sex, drugs, and romance in modern America, released July 23, 2013 on Burger Records. It’s sweet weed, late nights, chill days, sweat, beer, tears, whiskey, women, and wine. And just for good measure, it’s also female anatomy, cuddling, employment, unemployment, Star Trek, sex dreams, cell phones, heartbreak, penis size, cunnilingus, after parties, and past lovers. But most importantly, it’s honest. There’s not a lie to be found in these songs. These songs are The Memories.
“All the songs came naturally,” says Rikky Gage (vocals, rhythm guitar). “Kyle [Handley] would write the music and I’d write the words. All the lyrics are about things that we know or do,” he says. “All the songs are written from the stuff I got laying around in my memories, fresh and old,” explains Gage. Band name mystery solved! An album transient in its recording and composition, Love Is The Law was written and tracked from 2010 to 2012 in different bedrooms, apartments, houses, and hallways; on drugs and in love with life. Some of the songs date back to sessions from their debut LP, while some are new. But one of the more notable differences between albums is the addition of bassist Izak Arida. While the band members split their time in other bands – Gage and Handley in White Fang, Arida in BOOM! – it’s the band they’re in together that’s right here, right now, and looking towards the future. “It’s about having a lust for everything and believing that love is never far away,” says Gage of the new album. “We want people to hear these songs and remember their exes. We want people to remember things and smile. To remember and to savor the flavor.”
So far, AJ Davila has been known by many as the creative leader and producer of Davila 666, a band that in 2004 he left Puerto Rico with all the force typically reserved for atmospheric phenomena during the summer months usually attack the island Caribbean. A whirlwind of magical energy on stage, the Davilas alternated between melodic rock’n’roll sweetness and rage, sometimes within the same song. The creative tension that favored the magic of the band, as usual, also caused its implosion in mid-2011. But is it not life? Everything also kill us strengthens us. All that attracts us also repels us. Everything we love also frightens us. And rock n ‘roll is no exception.
Which alternative, then, was before AJ Davila before the fall of the tiny empire for years worked tirelessly to raise? Health, and particularly the nervous system of a human being are not put at risk without this part of a larger, greater mission that deserves a greater reward. There was therefore no alternative but to return to the studio and you make a plan for the next phase of his musical mission on earth.
Between October 2012 and April 2013, AJ wrote and recorded about 25 entirely new songs, which represent the next step in a long musical journey that began in the mid-nineties, in a small, warm room in through the San Juan metropolis. Those feelings of loss, frustration and infatuation was born “TERROR / LOVE,” the first solo of this unique Puerto Rican composer. However, AJ has never liked to be 100% alone, so it takes advantage of the creative freedom it gave the breakup of his previous project to develop collaborations with some friends with great talents.
Among the many contributors to AJ included in “TERROR / LOVE” is the incomparable John Cirerol (“You Be), Mercedes Oller, lead singer of The Robertas (” 23/33 “), the talented Alex Anwandter (” What We Do not It will be “), the Spanish Calamity Jane (” Spine “), the Fabulous Cadillac Sergio Rotman (” Hey “and” 23/33 “), Puerto Rican José Luís” Fofé “Abreu (” Do you freak out “) and the vortex Mexican sensuality and decadence, beautiful and unique vocalist and guitarist Oxor Selma (“Hard As Stone” and “Yeah Yeah Yeah”). Although he was enormously pleased with the outcome of each and every one of those collaborations, AJ was delighted with the creativity of the latter, adding a new dimension to the material he was offered. From discussions resulting from this collaboration, AJ invited Selma Oxor part of his new band, which share its name with the new album. Accepted this proposal, remained then recruit other conspirators with Selma and AJ, now would jeopardize their nervous systems and mental health provided disseminate this new music for the world.
With the recruitment of Johnny Otis Davila (Davila 666 ex-guitar lead), Cole Kinnear (ex Cheap Time-bass), Daniel Henry (aka “Overlord”-keyboards, guitar), Lola Pistola (vocals) and Nelvin Lara (drums) “TERROR / LOVE” is now a rock’n’roll machine of flesh and blood, capable of inducing in the listener as many extreme emotional affair. If you’ve ever feared you love (and if you did not you did not really loved), this band and this album is for you.
‘ll see you on the road …
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