Malcolm Holcombe on the BBC in Belfast tonight with host Ralph McLean 8pm - 10pm.
The follow up to last year’s Gamblin’ House, if anything the North Carolina native’s fifth album finds his rusty voice even more gravelly and gummier than before, making Tom Waits sound like Aled Jones. The music, though, remains unchanged, a mix of homegrown stomping mountain blues and bluegrass, dry dust Americana and (on Doncha Miss That Water featuring Mary Gauthier on harmonies) Prine-like folk country. Mandolin, banjo, dobro, djembe, lapsteel and even bouzouki come courtesy of musicians that include Tim O’Brien, Jared Tyler and producer Ray Kennedy, with numbers that range from the swampy stomps of Bigtime Blues and Leonard’s Pigpen through the throaty swaggering You Have It All and a foot stamping good time swing Short Street Blues to the bluegrass title track and talking coal-dusted - and pow wow rhythm - blues of Hannah’s Tradin’ Post.
Although Holcombe is clearly no slouch at shaking the floorboards, it’s the slower, broodier numbers that stand tallest, most strikingly the slurred, fiddle accompanied Another One Gone (which seems to be about a child’s death), Someone Left Behind (death and broken relationships) and, backed by just bass and fiddle, the plain speaking prayer that is Straight And Tall. Mission accomplished.
Mike Davies October 2009
There Is No Cold Solace, Just Cold And…
Oct 2, 2009
tell your friends…
Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Some people, you'd like to be. You would, at least temporarily, love to remove yourself from your life, slip out of your clothing and skin and become someone else because of the enjoyment that you think you'd get out of the swap. These people are normally celebrities and those worth more money, owning more things than anyone really has any business owning. It's the fantasy existence, the allure of it, that makes such an impossible trade relatively desirable. The excitement would just overwhelm you and perhaps you'd not want to go back after having been totally transformed - soul and problems and all into this other mystery person - or it would be just the opposite. The time spent being someone else would have been just enough before the need to get back into your own suit of organs and to have all of the wires and telegrams of your own head getting relayed to all of those old parts would take over. And there are so many people out there to emulate, to envy - not in a deadly sins sort of way, but in a way that's mostly about curiosity and discovery - that it may even feel like this impulse is ever-present. But then there are men like Malcolm Holcombe, whom you can admire and be awed by, but you'd never once want to trade places with him. The kinds of demons and pains that one would be inheriting in doing such an ill-advised trade would be staggering. He's got full kingdoms of goons and lucifers stalking through his heavy heart, his hardened hands and his darkened head. They're grim and they're persistent, reminding him over and over again about what he will have to take with him wherever he goes. No light and no love could ever replace what he's known, seen and felt in his many decades of tragic life. Holcombe's life story is one full of great sadness and despair. It's wickedly defined by soul-breaking deaths and mind-whirring, serrated depression that is nothing if it's not justified. He's had so many parts of his cheer and his spirit brutally destroyed that it's a wonder how he's gotten through it all. His close friends in the Asheville, N.C., area where he lives, believe that the songs he writes - over-flowing with his tales of vices, pain, and a hopelessness that's almost become something akin to strength shaken out of him by a deep and whiskeyed voice - are therapy, ways to cut those devils off at the knees even if they can grow new legs by the morning. Holcombe gives grief so much personality. He lets it get its exercise, but he only gets consumed by it to a point. He's been consumed by it before and some of his songs are still just the ironing out those times, when it all was broken, drab and full of time that just needed to be remembered in a different way. He sings about loneliness in such a way that we're attracted to it - to that very beastly feeling of heartbreak and empty, empty space. "You Don't Come See Me Anymore," is a breathtaking song where Holcombe, in his quavering way, with a patience for burns, the scars and black smoke, sings about people leaving and giving up on other people, just leaving them standing there shiftless and lost. He sings, "My hands fill up my pockets, keepin' time," just grabbing onto the jangling keys in his pockets for some cold solace that doesn't ever really come.
It’s a biased statement but I love the Americana genre largely because it resonates with honesty. While there are certainly those within the genre who have latched onto the music and the sound as a career move, much the way Hootie and Jessica Simpson are now “country” singers, the majority within that which is known as “Americana music” seem to ooze authenticity. This is a brand of music that is no holds barred honest and that relies on that honesty to carry the burden of the whole. This has never been more true than on North Carolinapicker Malcolm Holcombe’s latest, For The Mission Baby.For The Mission Baby is as honest and gritty as it gets. The messages herein come from a place deep within Holcombe and oozes out through his gritty vocals and bluesy musical approach. Joined by heavyweights like David Roe (upright bass), Lynn Williams (drums), and the multifaceted Tim O’Brien and you’re standing on firm ground. Add in the harmony vocals of fellow artists Siobhan Maher and one of my favorites, Mary Gauthier, and you can’t lose.And Holcombe doesn’t. Bursting out of the gate with the plodding “Bigtime Blues,” the artist bites off his lyrics with gusto, charging them with energy and down home passion. You can almost hear the booze being poured. An Appalachian tale is told through the story of “Hannah’s Tradin’ Post” while “Leonard’s Pigpen” bring a compelling blues/folk jam to bear with some great dobro work by Jared Tyler.“You Have It All” is one of the album’s highlights, offering up the image of one who’s always struggling with the idea that “I ain’t got what I want it’s never enough,” ultimately coming to the conclusion, “There’s a taste in my mouth bitter as gold/ I cant swallow the blues and keep my eyes closed/ Well the cat ate the bird he’s grinnin’ for sure/ Buzzards flyin’ low bringin’ a cure.”Holcombe wisely follows that track up with the levity of “Short Street Blues” which segues nicely back into more introspective themes with the faith questions of “A Bigger Plan” and the heartbreak of the title track, strangely contrasted with a jaunty backdrop. “Another One Gone” slows the tempo again and showcases some nice fiddle work from O’Brien while “Doncha Miss That Water” keeps the pace steady.“Straight and Tall” is another album highlight, finding Holcombe seemingly channel a bit of Dylan for this understated near prayer. Holcombe sings: “A warm shirt for the cold/ A lil’ food to fill the void/ So kindly make your plans/ Use my back and arms/ Make me straight and tall.” “Whenever I Pray” is a lovely ode to small-town country life that would make Wendell Berry proud and album closer, “Someone Left Behind,” offers up a snippet of hope without offering easy answers. It simply makes you wishing there was more.Malcolm Holcombe is a guy that has lived the life, has been down and out, and has seen his way to some sense of light. The songs contained on For The Mission Baby and keen snapshots and reflections on those times and experiences and are well worth experiencing yourself. If you’re looking for honest music, look no further. Holcombe’s your guy.
Last week Kasey wrote a piece about Tom Russell and I wanted to put this up the very next day. It failed to happen because I am exceptionally lazy and terribly behind. I wanted to put those posts back to back because I think there are a lot of parallels between their careers. Both have been around, seemingly, forever and despite that longevity neither have ever managed to really break into the mainstreams conscience. Hell, it could be argued that they’ve barely even cracked the conscience of the folks that follow this genre(s) of music.At one point, Malcolm got pretty close. Even managing to sign a recording contract with Geffen Records before finding shelter in drugs and booze. He spent years building a reputation as being unhinged, unpredictable and all around undesirable on the Nashville scene so Malcolm retreated back to his North Carolina roots where he ultimately sobered up and got back to music. A couple of DIY albums later Malcolm found himself back in the critics graces with 2008’s release, Gamblin’ House. While Gamblin’ House was widely fawned upon by critics it went generally unnoticed by the Americana music purchasing community. Now, in 2009, much like Tom Russell, Malcolm has quite possibly released the best album of his career with For The Mission Baby.Now, there are two comparisons I hate in music writing. I hate when bands get compared to The Replacements and I hate when singes get compared to Tom Waits. Why? Well, it basically comes down to a case of familiarity meets pretentiousness. The Replacements more so than Waits, but I think they’re sexy names to drop cause fringe music fans know the names but not really the music. Thus I view both as the high fructose corn syrup version of critical credibility. Is that fair? Probably not, but I venture to guess that 99% of all people 25 and under couldn’t pick a Replacements song out of a Beyonce’ lineup. Have I used said comparisons in my own writing? You bet your ass I have and I’m about to do it again…Whenever I try to describe Malcolm’s voice to others I describe it as “the homeless southern more tone rich cousin of Tom Waits“. There is a lyric in the Drive-By Truckers song, Outfit, that goes, “a southern man tells better jokes“. There is a subtlety to that line that can be found in a rich southern drawl and that’s the subtlety I’m referring to.Now, Kasey said, “Until further notice, this is the best record of the year” when he opened his piece about Tom’s record so let me officially declare this article, further notice.
For all of you that did not pre order Malcolm Holcombe's For the Mission Baby... shame on you, but! today is the official release date so go out to your local record store or our website's store and purchase, what people are calling, Malcolm's best work yet!
Pre order Malcolm's new album For The Mission Baby, release date Sept. 29, and get a free download with purchase. Go to our online store to get your copy.
...If not, check it out! All the low down on roots, folk, americana, etc. Also, a great way to network and listen to new music. They also were kind enough to feature For The Mission Baby on there website.
check it out, Sept. 1, 2009:
That's our Tyler!
Malcolm Holcombe- For the Mission Baby
Malcolm Holcombe growls in a characteristic rasp that has defined Bob Dylan’s latter career, but there is an intensity there that makes the listener sit up and take notice. “For the Mission Baby”, to be released on Echo Mountain Records, follows a string of critically acclaimed Holcombe records, mostly recorded in North Carolina after Holcombe’s expulsion from Nashville. Holcombe had been signed by Geffen records in the mid-90’s, but problems with drugs and alcohol derailed his career (Steve Earle once called him “the best singer songwriter I ever threw out of my studio”). Sobering up and moving back to his home state of North Carolina lead Holcombe to reacquire his muse and “For the Mission Baby” maybe his best work to date. Holcombe again works with the usual suspects from his critical break through Gamblin’ House. Ray Kennedy returns as the producer. Familiar faces like picker Tim O’Brien, bassist Jared Tyler and drummer Kenny Malone back Holcombe up with a seamless blend of Appalachian folk and traditional blues. The record rambles along at a confident pace. While Holcombe’s raspy voice may be closer to Dylan’s, the edge in his voice is closer to a razor sharp Kris Kristofferson or Tom Waits. Like those legendary songwriters, Holcombe’s songs manage to sound timeless and original, not an easy feat. Holcombe is an artist just under the radar; the kind of artist that takes a listen or two to appreciate, but worth the effort.
Ethereal Creation Through The Wall Method
Aug 22, 2009
tell your friends…
Words by Sean Moeller // Illustration by Johnnie Cluney // Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Arizona lead singer Ben Wigler was here back in February and it was frozen piss cold outside, just a few days prior to Valentine's Day. It was not a pretty sight around here, the ground layered with dusty snow and everything that hardness is in the middle of a winter. Wigler came into the studio looking like one of the Lawn Wranglers from the Wes Anderson film "Bottle Rocket," decked out in an all-mint-green jumpsuit, the likes of which were the best sellers in 1970s janitorial warehouse and supply catalogs, the hot new looks from Sears Roebuck department stores in the early 1920s, targeted toward retirees with an interest in botany. It was the mint green of hospital scrubs, of surgery and bad news, but on the diminutive Wigler, they were appropriately fitting, the clothing that he was seemingly suited and measured for at birth. It allowed for distraction and as a kind of spectacular allure, the set up for a joke that doesn't exist at all. Wigler is a serious songwriter and with his chums in the Asheville, N.C., band that goes by the name of a hot state or a naval battleship, depending upon your preference, he's given himself three other walls and contributors to bounce ideas off of and to ultimately settle on a creation that they all added DNA to. They throw the spaghetti and meatballs against the papered walls and watch as it walks down, studying its movements and getting inspired by the initial slap and all that transpires afterward. There's a video on the band's site that is meant to be a snapshot of the creative process as the band uses and works with. It's not alarmingly different from what most bands probably are used to, but it does show Arizona to be as whimsically attentive and daffy as the music on their long-players might suggest. They're off in the woods, at a secluded lodge and Wigler has a near-disastrous tumble amongst the trees. He recounts a traffic accident that he'd recently had in which he was sliding into the side of an 18-wheeler and he said that he was overjoyed in those moments before impact because it dawned on him - in pristine clarity - that he already knew that he wasn't going to die, that he wouldn't be hurt at all by this. How he could know such a thing, or believe that he knew such a thing seems to, in a weird way, help us hear the band's quirky and well put together songs - all of which spiral off into beautiful places of unheralded escape and mystery. Arizona music is full of these loose-flowing drafts of languishing concerns and pleasing ribbons of ethereal majesty that all tumbles with sugar cubes and rose bushes, while still going to the gentlest corridors of psychedelia. The band lets its boundaries be pushed until they're purple and it never shies away from seeing that purple get red before letting up and traveling back into the terrains that feel like those tumbles that don't hurt you, just leave you to stand back up with crud in your hair and dirt stains happily ground into your knees and elbows - unhurt and smiling once again.
Any immediate projects on the horizon we should look out for?
JD: Man, I don’t know. I wish I did. The best thing—I can’t say it’s new because he’s made five or six records, but the best new thing to me is Malcolm Holcomb. Have you heard of him?
I have not.
JD: Check him out on the website—it’s crazy I’ll put it that way, but it’s not savant. There’s a craft to it. It’s the best new thing I’ve heard since Johnny Dowd, which that’s been a long time ago. I just don’t hear anything new that I like that much.
For more of this interview go to: http://swampland.com/articles
There are very few artists that I love enough to check websites/myspace/twitter, hoping for any insight about upcoming releases. Ironically, one of the few people I cyber stalk, is a man that probably could care less about the internet or keeping his fans current. Malcolm Holcombe has been making music for 30+ years with a gravelly voice as worn as the tires on an old rusted out pickup truck.
Honestly, probably nothing about his americana song writing will ever reach out to a wide audience, but I think he's ok with that. Throw in the fact he’s on a label – Echo Mountain – that truly seems to care more about getting great music out to the public than flooding publications with PR hype hoping to rake in big bags of dollars from sales and commercial placements, and it's easy to see why this talent is so under appreciated. We have little pull when it comes to making artists famous, but maybe if we take the time to talk about him, you will take the time to listen and discover a truly fantastic artist.
When we last heard from Malcolm (Gamblin’ House - review), I was blown away by how easily he spun spun tales and still kept your toes tapping. With deft picking an old soul and a broken heart, you felt like Holcombe saddled up to the stool beside you at the local pub and just started talking. Not much about Malcolm has changed with the release of For the Mission Baby. If pressed, I’d guess he mutter something about old dogs and new tricks but thanks to the help of Ray Kennedy’s production, every note on the new record sounds the way Holcombe intended.
Starting with the stomp a hole in the floor beat of Bigtime Blues, Holcombe gives his fans another trip back in time to the mountains of North Carolina, but he and his band also offer up new textures and a bigger sound. Tim O’Brien’s mandolin, Jared Tyler’s dobro, a nice rhythm section and some terrific backing vocals, For the Mission Baby just seems like a fuller effort. As you embrace the groove they find on A Bigger Plan, the humor and swing of Soul Street Blues or the tenderness he fuses into the gentle picks of Another One Gone (the strings are great) and the Waits-y Straight and Tall, it becomes obvious For the Mission Baby is the record Holcombe was meant to put out.
To be fair, Malcolm is an artist I’d listen to and rave about, even if I wasn’t a blogger, but he’s blown me away with this record. I could listen to the summery title track or the simple strums and keep time beat of Doncha Miss That Water for hours, driving out of the city just to watch the odometer turn, but every song on the record showcases a new depth of sound and emotion. If you are a fan of mountain blues, dark country and americana, I there's no artist I could recommend more.
AZ video blog: http://vimeo.com/groups/33/videos/5326718
Keeps your eyes and ears open this Fall for Malcolm's new album For The Mission Baby! Trust us, it's worth your purchase. Tough economic times limiting your music purchases? Don't worry, there's time to save and we'll remind you when we have a release date. In the mean time, check out this awesome review from Houston, TX:
Houston Community Newspapers Online
Well after a short intermission Malcolm Holcombe took
the stage. Now if
you’ve never seen Malcolm think of a hillbilly Tom Waits.
No doubt about it he
is one strange character, however, there is also no doubt
from the hills of North Carolina is one gifted songwriter
and finger picking
guitarist. If you get through all the antics you realize
you have a cross
between Tom Waits and Guy Clark. Strange as he may appear
at your first
encounter with Mr. Holcombe anyone from Nashville will tell
you he is revered by
his peers in Music City. He can walk into the legendary
songwriters’ venue, the
Blue Bird Café and hold his own with Guy Clark, Steve
Earle and any of his old
buddies. While watching Malcolm think about his major label
debut and his being
sent out on the road in hamster skinned cowboy boots, tight
jeans, big buckled
western belt, sequined shirt and cowboy hat. He fits that
model like the
Clampetts fit the Beverly Hills scene.
After a short period he gave it up
to concentrate on songwriting. It’s like he told me,
“Jay, I ain’t no monkey.”
The crowd loved Malcolm and they loved Jubal Lee Young.
latest CD “Gamblin’ House” is in my opinion a really
good piece of work and his
best release ever. Malcolm Holcombe plays the Corner Pub
about twice a year and
I’m confident he’ll be back at Dosey Does so check him
out next time he is in
The country-fried Holcombe's one of those songwriters you always get your money's worth with, one way or another. A commanding stage presence, he also has the songs to back it up, and a quick wit to quiet the drunks. He plays a sort of Southern gothic version of the diner blues these days, and the result is no less authentic
than his early, twangier work.
Malcolm Holcombe Newcastle Press
Malcolm Holcombe Jumpin’ Hot Club @ Live Theatre, Newcastle
10:28am Thursday 19th February 2009
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HAILING from rural North Carolina, Americana singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe
brought his unique, hard-driven acoustic style of fare to Live Theatre.
Holcombe may not feature in any glossy magazine, but he knows how to deliver
music to strike a chord in the heart of young and old alike.
London-based, Shieldsborn and raised Blues man Gordon Smith was on first,
showing fine dexterity on guitar.
Then Holcombe, wearing numerous layers of clothes, shuffled on stage and took us
through material from some of the old Blues masters.
Seemingly unable to hold a train of thought in his head for too long (or that is
what he likes you to believe), he held the audience in awe as he shifted from
telling anecdotes to the songs.
Rugged, and sometimes down and dirty, he hit the spot with such standouts as
Sparrows And Sparrows, Goin’ Downtown and, with a fine-flowing melody, his
token country song, Back To Hell In A Greyhound.
Those who braved the weather on one of the worst days of winter clearly hold the
eccentric-looking, but artistically-sound Holcombe in high esteem.
With tales of old train yards, gambling houses and fast food restaurants, he
left the audience with many great memories. Not least the image of him rocking
to and fro sitting on a chair to play his acoustic guitar.
MALCOLM HOLCOMBE + Gordon Smith @ JHot Club -Live Theatre. 12.02.09
North Carolina singer-songwriter guitarist, Malcolm Holcombeon making a return
visit to the Jumpin’ Hot club, was as previously, very impressive. His prowess
as a musician coupled with his unique talent as an entertainer / story- teller
help make Holcombe unique in a very special kind of way.
He looks unexceptional until he picks up a guitar. Then something special
happens, and with no eye on the clock or for commercial gain, every show he does
is different. If, like this one at the ‘Live’ there is every chance they
will all be exceptional too. The songs, and his playing as he rocked back and
forth, were delivered with an intensity and power few others of his trade come
near matching. Rarely still for long, Malcolm was forever sharing anecdotes with
the audience, some, he never got to finish and others were cut short due to him
slipping straight into a song — and .........what great songs. A whole bunch
came from my favourite album to date, ‘Gamblin’ House’ (Echo Mountain
Records), and with him totally lost in the music, his head every now and again
tossed from side to side and his fingers hammering out a rhythm & the
unrelenting groove on ‘My Ol’ Radio’, ‘Goodtimes’ and ‘Goin’
Downtown’ come out of the chute in
Never still for very long, Holcombe had the audience hooked line and sinker .He
spoke of America’s Greyhound Bus, old train freight yards and how he once
worked for a fast food restaurant. When he spoke of moments alone at home with
his wife, he joked about how she would pass on ideas about a song —and
requested him to write a love song (‘Baby Likes A Love Song’). Taking time
to reminisce about some of his older songs, he spoke of how Irish songbird,
Maura O’Connell covered ‘Crossing My Heart To The Homeland’ and gave first
class versions of ‘Sparrows And Sparrows’ and ‘Not Forgotten’.
With his rough edged tones wrapped ‘round the lyrics —he was reluctant to
leave the stage, and as if his own material wasn’t enough Malcolm even had
time to work up a Rudyard Kipling piece once covered by the late Jim Croce.He
may gave the impression that he isn’t tuned into the same radio station as you
and I, but very little slips past the shrewd and keen observations as underlined
in the lyrics of his songs and when he is on such good form as this, there are
few I would rather listen to !
London-based, but South Shields raised, blues guitarist Gordon Smith was first
up and, though by his own admission, he felt a few butterflies, his guitar
playing was both sweet and warm. The kind of which folk, country and blues
guitar grows upon you. His selection of music was both knowledgeable and
perfectly suited for him, as the work of such blues legends as Robert Johnson,
Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Blake, Furry Lewis (an instrumental)
and Fred McDowell rolled & tumbled forth. You had Smith, alternating acoustic
guitars and also a couple were played on a vintage electric with some very smart
riffs. His superb solo on Johnson’s ‘Too Late To Cry’ & a splendid
performance of ‘Twelve Gates To The City’ showed him to be well worth his
corn and, is someone who is rooted in the blues.
Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration - Roger McGuinn sings Turn Turn Turn
Arizona's New Video Blog on Blender.com
Arizona's Relix Write-up
Arizona // Asheville, NC
Unexpected Musical Marriages
Indie rockers Arizona formed in 2005 when bassist Alex Hornbake and guitarist Nick Campbell traveled from Atlanta, where they'd been attending school, in Long Island, New York, where Hornbake and guitarist Benjamin Wigler had been playing prog rock together since junior high. They'd planned to record some of Wigler's tunes, but ended up laying down their first EP The Sun and The Room from scratch in about a week. After recording its debut full-length, Welcome Back Dear Children, and Fameseeker and the Mono EP with studio guru Danny Kadar, Arizona relocated to Asheville, where Kadar had recently taken over as head engineer at Echo Mountain Studios. "We were literally recording through gear that Led Zeppelin and The Beatles would have used," says Campbell. Or did use, considering that pieces of the former Abby Road Studio reside at the North Carolina recording mecca. On its recent album The Glowing Bird, the band refines and focuses its lush sound into a layer of cake of indie-psych that echoes the best of early '90s shoe-gaze, '60s harmonic pop and contemporary alt-country. Asked about its musical influences, the band cites some unexpected sources: Smashing Pumpkins, Helmet, Metallica, the soundtrack to the film Gattaca, and video game music. Trying to nail down his musical roots, Wiggler says, "I listen to more Dream Theatre than Beach Boys" and nothing that "analyzing guitar harmonies on [Metallica's]...And Justice for All is pretty much the only music theory I have."
The Idaho Statesman
Fig and Mint
Thanks Stereo Subversion! This is awesome!
Check out the, never-before-heard, song "Sunset" and live footage of Arizona... and the very nice things The Printed Blog had to say about the band.
Congrats Tyler! Tyler's "Worried" has been chosen for ABC's Private Practice. The song will be aired on the February 12 episode. For more information on the show go to:
As I have already written here, I discovered a fine new band [new to me anyway] when I attended Pop Asheville a few weeks ago as the Keynote speaker. Arizona is that band and I am looking forward to seeing them perform here in Portland on Tuesday, Feb 3rd at the Wonder Ballroom. They are currently on the road heading up from California and today they sent me an exclusive video and MP3 of a new, unreleased song.
All too often, when I attend conferences and seminars, I hear bands and artists complaining about how difficult it is to break out these days. I certainly have a sympathetic ear for this P.O.V. but then I get a nagging feeling that the real honest response to that complaint is to respond by saying - don’t give up the day job. If you’re not up to the travails of making it as a musician then it’s time to stop.
Now, I’m not certain what it is that makes Arizona stand apart from the herd or what drives them to hit the road in a van, but I think many bands like them would do well to notice and learn how they are building on a chance meeting with me and turning it into a great opportunity. And it’s real simple:
I interviewed lead singer Ben on video for the Moose blog. After I posted the video I said I’d soon be posting part 2 and then I got a call from Ben from the road [in this video he is actually talking to me on the phone]. He said thanks etc but also said that he and the band wanted to send me an exclusive video and MP3. They have a new unreleased song, Where Is Wallace, and they decided that during a sound check they’d film and record the song and send it to me for posting. Smart boys. They got my attention and some prime time on the Moose, I get an exclusive video and MP3. A win/win if you ask me.
The band has made it clear to me that you can happily embed the video on your blog, FBook or MySpace and the MP3 is for download too.
The Arizona Daily Star:
N.C. BAND NAMED AFTER OUR STATE
Arizona, meet Arizona
By Kevin W. Smith
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.22.2009
Maybe you want to know how a North Carolina-based band settled on Arizona as its name.
A friend threw it out while the four members were going through the all-important naming process around 2005, even though no one in the psych-rock group had been to the Grand Canyon State.
Arizona had so many imaginative things going for it: mystique, desert, mountains and interesting plants and wildlife, guitarist Nick Campbell said from Asheville, N.C.
"It had this colorful, blank-slate aspect in our minds," Campbell said.
Arizona makes varied, lush, progressive rock that changes its sound like a mood ring shifts tones.
On its second album, 2008's "Glowing Bird," you'll hear hints of Clinic ("Heath"), the Shins ("Don't Have the Body") and a little sludgy Alice in Chains guitar work that'll break into sunny acoustic plucking ("Otto the Eel.")
Primary vocalist Ben Wigler has vented his frustrations on the band's blog about what genres people ascribe to Arizona, such as folk-pop.
He describes the sound as "Belle and Sebastian meets Dimebag Darrell," but Arizona doesn't really fit conventions.
After being lured by producer Danny Kadar (My Morning Jacket, Iggy Pop) to Asheville from New York City in 2006, the band found a new home in the eccentric Southern town.
"You'll move anywhere for something that you really fall in love with, and we fell in love with this place," Wigler said.
To make it big, most bands these days would move from an obscure Southern town to New York, but this is also a group that tried to channel actor Heath Ledger after his death for a song.
Wigler said the pretty tune "Heath," which opens "Glowing Bird," was conceived shortly after he was told of Ledger's death. Wigler came up with the chorus on a drive from New York to Asheville, and when he got to the recording studio, he went into the corner of a room and tried to channel the actor.
"So I know this is almost a little slightly perverse, Heath Ledger," he recalled himself saying. "But I imagine that you may be a spirit now. It's a possibility. And if it's possible, maybe you could help us write a song."
Wigler said the band then sat in a circle, and the tune came out very quickly. "Heath" is a bouncy number, trying to imagine the the final moments of the actor's life.
When Arizona finally got the chance to visit our state, the musicians stopped at the first gas station they saw after leaving New Mexico. Wigler said he ran up to the gas station attendant and told him he was the first person from Arizona, in Arizona, that the band Arizona had ever met.
The old gas station clerk responded: "Well, welcome. I guess there's a little bit of something for everybody in Arizona."
Wigler said that was an apt response.
Echo Mountain: The record label
So far, Echo Mountain Records represents three artists—and it may keep that number for a while, says Steve Wilmans.
Last May, the label signed iconic local singer/songwriter Malcolm Holcombe, and later added the four-piece Brooklyn-cum-Asheville band Arizona and guitarist/vocalist Tyler Ramsey.
Wilmans wants to stick with three.
“There are so many details that go into managing record labels. We’ve gotten a crash course in tour logistics,” says Jessica Tomasin, studio and label manager.
Wilmans adds, “We’re trying to keep our overhead as low as possible.” Most of Arizona’s album, Glowing Bird, was recorded at Wilmans’ home in Fairview because Echo Mountain’s studio was booked.
“Plus it’s too expensive for us,” Wilmans says, laughing.
Holcombe currently is touring in Europe for a couple of months. Tomasin wants to send Arizona to Europe as well, although they’re currently touring the United States, both individually and as the opening act for former Indigo Girl Amy Ray’s solo tour. Ramsey’s taking a break after a busy fall, when he both opened for and played as a guitarist for indie faves Band of Horses.
“Steve and all the folks there run a top-notch studio with great analog gear and a great space. They’ve got good hearts, and they give me creative license,” Holcombe says.
Check out the rest of the article and pictures about Echo Mountain studios and brewery: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2007/012109building_
Many thanks to Dave Allen, of Gang Of Four, who was here this weekend in Asheville for the Pop Asheville music festival. Dave had the pleasure of seeing Arizona play and, like many others before him, was blown away. Check out the interview Dave posted on his blog, Pampelmoose, of Arizona's lead singer, Ben Wigler, and the mention of Pop Asheville.
Dave you're the best! Much love and appreciation from Echo Mountain!
"You may have noticed a dearth of new posts from me since last Thursday but I have a good excuse - Pop Asheville. Pop Asheville is an annual music festival and conference that takes place in Asheville, North Carolina and I believe this was their third year. This small but vibrant town in the NW of the state has a music festival that reminds me of the early days of SXSW. Anyway I was invited to give the keynote speech this year. I spent an hour reminding the musicians in attendance that they are no longer in the music business, they are in the T-shirt business and they all seemed to agree. The music industry is not hurting, it’s the cd business that is in decline.
Anyway I’ll be writing later about the festival after I have gathered my thoughts. What I do want to say today is that I discovered a wonderful band while I was there. Arizona. There were many great bands performing over the weekend but Arizona stood head and shoulders above the crowded field. Perhaps it was just my own sense of the decline of standards in rock music that always leaves me pessimistic but I was shocked at how good these guys were playing live. The next day I had the honor of interviewing their lead singer Benjamin. It turned out to be a lengthy video so I will offer it up in parts. Part 2 will follow real soon.
Benjamin Morris Wigler, the self-described ‘Keith Richard Dreyfuss’ of rock, has much to say. And he says it very well and wittily too. Worth a watch. Listen as Ben talks about his four year old tub of urine that he collected from his stoned friends to load into super soakers to be used to hose down a local child molester. Listen to him sing a beautiful song a cappella and then talk about Dream Theater, Tool and Radiohead."
Check out the interview with Ben and Dave here:
Thanks all you AZ supporters out there! Check out Arizona's new website and then check out all the excellent coverage of Glowing Bird: http://arizonatheband.com/
Glorious Noise included the band in their "Top Shelf of 2008" list:
(AZ has a website up now)
Glowing Bird by Arizona has been named as one of the top albums of the year by Assistant Music Editor Beth Walker of Performing Songwriter : "As far as debuts go, Arizona definitely brought their A-game. From infectious, well-orchestrated pop songs to creepy ballads about ghosts, Glowing Bird is a sonic adventure."