Archive for September, 2015

A little less than two weeks ago, 2 of my absolutely favorite Canadian bands got back in the saddle for a reunion show…together, on the same stage. Those bands were, The Age Of Electric and Zuckerbaby. In my mind I thought, no question, I’ll be there, I’m hopping a plane…it’s that simple. Turns out, it wasn’t. I had previous obligations to my own band back home and it just wasn’t in my budget. I literally thought about the show all night as it was unfolding in another part of the world, Calgary, Alberta Canada. Man, that’s far away from NY. The next morning I was lucky enough to see some awesome video clips and photos throughout other people’s Facebook updates. Its times like this I do love social media. I was lucky enough to discover both bands back in the late 90’s when America had the Much Music channel; basically Canada’s answer to MTV, but in my eyes was much better at the time. I would watch Much for countless hours while I did homework. I discovered so many amazing bands/artists. AOE and Zuckerbaby being 2 of them. As I got a bit older I would take treks back and forth to Toronto and some surrounding cities to take in the culture and music and even play a few solo shows. It’s Heaven on Earth in my eyes. Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. Back to social media, and one of the pluses, is that…well; everyone is on one of them. Reed Shimozawa, Zuckerbaby guitarist being one of them. I think about a year ago, maybe, I introduced myself to Reed via Facebook and we connected. No major conversations, just me romanticizing Zuckerbaby to him every once and a while and trying to convince him to give me the “lost” third record, hahaha…Anyways, after said infamous show I wrote to Reed again to see if I could do a piece on him and the band for MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE. And to make my day, he graciously obliged. And what you are about to read below is our short, semi-personal time in cyber social media land. Reed, you rocked this and I can’t thank you enough. So here ya go friends, please enjoy the below correspondence between myself and Mr. Shimozawa. Awesome stuff.

Reed Live @ the Zuckerbaby Reunion 08-29-15 @ Marquee Beer Market & Stage

Reed Live @ the Zuckerbaby Reunion 08-29-15 @ Marquee Beer Market & Stage

MSG – Hey Reed! I’m absolutely honored to be doing this little interview with you so, thanks so much for this. Let’s start at the present and work our way back. Just last Saturday, August 29th, Zuckerbaby did a reunion show in your Hometown of Calgary Alberta, Canada. Opening for an also freshly reunited Canadian favorite, The Age Of Electric, a band you share a lot of history with. Tell us a bit about that experience, what was it like…how did it come to fruition?

RS – There has been talk, on and off, of an AOE reunion for a while now, but the guys have all been very busy with their respective projects- Todd with Slash, Ryan with Mounties and Limblifter, and until recently, Kurt with The New Pornographers. When this offer came in the timing was as good as it could be. Everyone was available and willing. It’s really as simple as that I think. I have a lot of history with AOE, our friendship dates back to the late 80’s and among other things, Zuckerbaby did an extensive Canadian tour opening for them back in ’97 or ’98. The package works well together, both musically and on a social level so when Todd suggested we open the show it was really a no-brainer. Zuckerbaby had played a couple of low profile shows locally around ’07 to coincide with some music that Andy and I were working on, but other than that we hadn’t done a show since 2000. I’m not gonna lie, it felt great to be playing those songs again, especially in such a great environment. That place was packed with people who actually gave a shit.

MSG – Zuckerbaby and The Age Of Electric both, were big news in the mid/late 90’s in your homeland of Canada. Can you tell us a bit about the early days of Zuckerbaby? Even before that you shared a band with frontman, Andy Eichhorn called Calliope. How did Zuckerbaby get its start?

RS – In the early 90’s, I was searching for something new to do musically as were a lot of people. I strolled into a bar in Calgary to see some friends playing in a cover band. They had this young guy from Saskatchewan singing and his voice really caught my ear. We talked, and long story short I stole him away from my friends’ band (Yes they’re still my friends, more on that later). I was really into funk and blues at the time but I’ve always had a love of pop music so we did our best to mash those together and that was Calliope. That particular fusion of musical styles didn’t have a giant following here in Cowtown and we soon found ourselves drifting more to the pop side of our songwriting… because no one was really begging for that either haha. As soon as we started playing as Zuckerbaby, however, we knew we were on to something. People just started showing up…

MSG – Your Eponymous debut album made you somewhat the faces of Canada’s Pop Rock circuit, having heavy rotation on Much Music with lead Single “Shampoo” and the whimsical and gorgeous “Andromeda”. What was it like to have that kind of success being a band out of Calgary which is known for its cowpokecentric roots if you will.

Zuckerbaby Self-Titled Album Cover

Zuckerbaby Self-Titled Album Cover

RS – Well, it was weird, but really Calgary is not as rednecked as you would think from a casual glance. Especially at that time, there was a thriving community of bands and it was pretty great in retrospect. Outcome aside, I don’t know if there would have been a better place to get our legs. We certainly didn’t feel any pressure to fit into any genre because we were just a part of a scene that embraced a whole bunch of different sounds and creative ventures.

MSG – Being obviously influenced by Pop Rock icons, Jellyfish, you guys were able to secure Jack Joseph Puig who had a big hand in their masterpiece, Spilt Milk to mix the first record. How did you score that? How was that experience?

RS – ZB originally signed to an indie label out of San Francisco. Unfortunately they lost their distribution before we could release anything with them but in the meantime we made some great connections through that relationship. At one of our first meetings they asked us if we had management. We didn’t. They knew that Andy and I were massive Jellyfish fans and suggested Chris Coyle and Victor Ratto who were previously Jellyfish’s managers. We met, liked us and a deal was struck. After signing with Mercury in Canada, our A&R guy asked me, “If you could have anyone mix your record, who would it be?” Without hesitation I said “Jack Joseph Puig”. In addition to his JF pedigree, JJP was involved with at least 2 other albums that still move me today, “Amorica” by the Black Crowes and “Pinkerton” by Weezer. We had a connection through our management obviously and my dream came to fruition. Ironically, I don’t love his Zuckerbaby mixes. I didn’t agree with some of his sonic decisions and was too intimidated and starstruck to say so. Live and learn. He’s still a genius though.

MSG – After the bubblegum pop vibe presented on said record, you guys came back with the very sophisticated and polished Platinum Again some 3 years later. This album too featured new bassist, Ed Tiegs. Can you give some insight on the direction of songwriting for that record?

Zuckerbaby Platinum Again Album Cover

Zuckerbaby Platinum Again Album Cover

RS – Well, when Zuckerbaby signed with Mercury in ’96, we were given carte blanche to do what we wanted. The material was there, we self-produced, were given relatively big budgets for recording and marketing. In short, I really do believe that the label and the people involved at that time believed in our band. Things turned sour pretty quick though. When the album didn’t live up to expectations sales-wise, we quickly learned that we weren’t the pretty girl at the party anymore. The music business is a numbers game just like any other business, and we had turned out to be a bad investment. Sometime around then, Universal bought Polygram, which of course included Mercury. That’s when the shit really hit the fan. Most of the people who we considered “our camp” were either let go or left voluntarily and we were left like dirty little orphans. There was also internal strife in the band, partially brought about by our frustrations with the “failure” of our first album as well as personal issues. Brian Doss, our original bass player was let go, and during the course of recording “Platinum Again” we parted ways with Wayne Stadler our drummer. In general, that record is much more serious and dark, and that’s indicative of where we were at the time. I don’t hate it, there are some things on there that I’m really proud of, but that time was not a bright spot in my existence.

MSG – Having a vast history with The Age Of Electric boys who even sang some back-up vocals on Platinum Again and you having worked on Todd Kerns’ first solo record Go Time!, have you always been in touch with them through the many years in which both bands had not been operational. How did this recent reconnection come about?

RS – We are friends, and thus no reconnection was necessary. Todd and I are very close we talk all the time and see each other whenever possible. We’ve done a few little gigs over the years as well, and even made an album together which may yet see the light of day. Actually, we were just talking about how I’m one of very few friends that all the AOE guys have in common haha. Ryan and Kurt are really good friends of mine too, it’s the kind of friendship that doesn’t require a lot of attention or maintenance, we can all just call each other up and pick up the conversation even if the last one was a while ago. Last year I did a couple of shows with Ryan’s band Mounties, just playing some acoustic guitar as needed, and when Kurt was with The New Pornographers I would always see them whenever I could because I’m a huge fan. I’m disappointed that he’s not with them anymore, he was more important to that band than they realize and his playing made those songs even better. Gear is always a favorite topic with all of us, it may be what we talk about the most haha.

MSG – Speaking of reconnections, elusive Zucker frontman, Andy Eichhorn has been pretty much a specter over the years. What was it like to be on stage with him again? Was it difficult to reconnect with him?

RS – Andy and I use to joke about getting matching trucker hats that say “old fart” and “old fart’s wife”. We just couldn’t agree on who would wear what hat. We have occasionally gone for long periods of time without seeing or talking to each other but there is always a connection between us, both on a musical level and as friends. We have a deep understanding of each other, and I’m sure that will never change.

MSG – Aside from Zuckerbaby and your contributions to other musical offerings. What do you do nowadays? You’re known for being a pretty mean guitarist. Is your focus still planted in music?

RS – Other than my family and holding down a job, music is still the main thing I do. I play a lot of guitar, recording, songwriting… I’m just not as focused on who hears it anymore. At the end of Zuckerbaby’s original run, I had a realization: the best part was creating the music. All that other shit was great too, the shows, videos, fans, etc. but it never got any better than the feeling of writing a song like “Andromeda”.

MSG – Is there any kind of future for Zuckerbaby? Some years back you had about 4 new songs featured on your MySpace player. Was there to be a third record? Will we ever be able to hear that record and get those songs? (I drool at the prospect!)

RS – There is a complete Zuckerbaby album sitting on my hard drive. It’s good too, I just listened to it yesterday for the first time in a couple years. It was recorded between ’05 and ’08 I think, just pieced together with no intent but to make some music. I have a modest studio in my house and I started building songs on my own. The logical person to sing was of course Andy and it just slowly morphed into a ZB project. Ed Tiegs played some bass and drums on it, and Ian Grant is on a couple of songs too. It’s all over the map genre-wise, some of the songs are very Brit influenced. I hear some Oasis, Kasabian, The Verve, The Charlatans now when I listen to it. Then there’s some more rootsy stuff, a ballad that’s almost country, some rock songs. Toward the end we recorded a few more band generated things and they are a little more like what you would expect from us. It’s probably a challenging listen for today’s ear, people are so specific with their tastes now. I don’t give a fuck, many of the best records were genre buckers. We are talking about making it available, I suppose that now’s as good a time as any with all this interest being generated by the AOE show.

Zuckerbaby Live @ the Zuckerbaby Reunion 08-29-15 @ Marquee Beer Market & Stage

Zuckerbaby Live @ the Zuckerbaby Reunion 08-29-15 @ Marquee Beer Market & Stage

MSG – And finally, for the many that could not make it to your reunion show, can you give us a rundown of what the setlist looked like? And please give us some info about the rhythm section you chose to back you and Andy on this historical show.

RS – Setlist is attached. We never got to play the Cheap Trick songs because we ran out of time. Too bad, Cheap Trick is one place where Ian, Andy and I all love to go! One day we will do a show where we play “Live at Budokan” in it’s entirety. Ian Grant was our drummer for the Platinum Again tour, he’s amazing and proved it again last Saturday. He was also the drummer for the TKO project that Todd Kerns and I did. Jamie Warren played bass, he is one of my best friends and was in the band that I stole Andy from all those years ago, so in a way this was a reunion on several fronts. We had a great time, and IF there are any more shows, this lineup would be our first choice. Great musicians, great people.  Thanks Soda!

ZB SETLIST AUG29 2015

THANK YOU REED!

Advertisements

Nope, I did not forget!

Posted: September 2, 2015 in Blog, Music, Top 100
Tags: , , , , ,

The title above…is in relation to a post I dropped back on April 1st of this year entitled “Favorite Recordings”. It was to be a bit of a pet project for me (and still is mind you) in which I would put together a list of my favorite records. I figured a top 50 list would suffice but, as I ran over my vast collection of music I soon realized that I was at over 100 albums that I’d scribbled down onto some paper. Even 100 would prove to be difficult as I love so many albums, truly. I was able to put the list into a spread sheet and have been mowing over it to really whittle it down to this infamous 100. (As seen here, an ominous glowing screen boasting some 100 plus of my fave records, oooooo… <place scary ghost sound here>).

The list...in progress

The list…in progress

Of recent I have finally been able to get back to this project, it’s definitely been on my mind. However, since I posted that back in April I have Toured the Country, started working on a new record, been in an art show…all as my band continues to conquer the Tri-State area. So, I have been busy with really great stuff to say the least. I also absolutely love this Blog here and feel like I have a really great collection of awesome content so far in which I will continue to build on as time allows. With that said I’m going to try to have this final list on here soon with a short special write up for each record in my top 5. Anyway, that’s it for this go round. Just wanted to check in and give the MUSIC-SURVIVAL-GUIDE some love! Rock on!