When El-P and Killer Mike combine there is very little than they can do wrong. The eponymous ‘Run The Jewels‘ album was released for free online and seemed like the total antithesis to the previous year’s big Kanye/Jay-Z‘s ‘Watch The Throne‘ collab proving that if you had any hip-hop aspirations you should have probably sat 2013 out. Case in hand the video for their ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle‘.
“In a year that saw high profile releases from Kanye, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Drake, Earl, & Tyler & more, it’s El-P & Killer Mike who outclassed them. 10 Tracks of straight bangers, each one as lively as the last, filled with tough-talk, brash call outs of the status quo, and beats that make me have to give hip hop producer of the year honors to El-P for the second straight year“. - Daniel Benny
Cougar Microbes caught up with Little Tybee‘s vocalist Brock Scott to discuss the “nuclear” family, viral hysteria, bringing back the mullet and LA rich little white girls. Here is how it went:
Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?
Little Tybee: I woke up at 8 this morning. I’m usually the early riser. a.m.is usually between 12- 3 pm for the rest of the band (we all live together).
Nirvana and I went to go see a nuclear power plant outside of Cartersville, GA this morning so we were up earlier than usual today. There is a small Edward Scissorhands neighborhood directly outside the gates of the power plant. Kids are playing in the streets, wives are pruning their questionable perennials and an overwhelming Niagara of ignorance floods the whole scene.
CM: How do you kill time on the road, hobbies?
LT: Josh is often our entertainment on long drives. He usually reaches that state of delirium hours before the rest of us… Throw a smart phone with Internet access in the mix and you’ve got enough viral hysteria to last from New York to Dallas.
CM: What has been your favorite venues on your latest tour? Any Venues you hated?
LT: We played a house show in Marion, VA on our way up to NYC. We have an old friend who lives there on a beautiful farm in the mountains. She has a baby grand in her living room that faces a breathtaking view. She invites a bunch of people to hear us play and then cooks the most delicious food for everyone. Paradise is a word that is flawed in its description of this place… I wouldn’t say we “hated” any venues on this last tour. Some were more fun than others but it was a pretty solid tour overall.
CM: Any plans to visit the UK any time soon?
LT: We would leave on the next flight out if travel weren’t so dang expensive… We are hoping to be over the pond by years end. You can donate to our travel fund at paypal (account). We are well past the point of subtle fundraising. heh
CM: Are you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?
LT: Our touring experience is much different than that of bands with higher budgets and buses. Our first two tours were done with 5 people in one Subaru Forester, without a trailer, driving for 7 hours a day.
When all you are thinking about is how uncomfortable and hungry you are; songwriting is one of the farthest things from your mind.
CM: Favourite track off the album and why?
LT: We each have different songs on the album that appeal to us for different reasons. My favorite bounces between “Passion Seekers” and “Revolutionary”. I really enjoyed singing with Adron on ‘Passion Seekers‘. I think our voices flow together nicely.
Usually the rule of thumb for me is that our newest song is going to be my favorite.
CM: If you could record any cover what would it be?
LT: We are working on a cover of the Family Matters theme song and also Paul Simon’s ‘St. Judy’s Comet‘.
CM: Do your songs go through many revisions via demo recordings?
LT: We do most of the recording at our house in Atlanta. Since we aren’t restricted to a studio clock of any kind, we are a lot more open to trial and error with our compositions. If we find we don’t like something in a song a couple of months down the line, we just go back and re-record it. Our songs change so much the more and more we play them.
We look at our recordings as almost a time capsule of the song. Buried in shallow shallow soil; They are ever evolving in intricacy. We do make demos of the songs but they are never heard by anyone except for the band and are used mainly as a writing tool.
Its always interesting going back and listening to those early demos after the song has been fully recorded. It’s like looking back at a picture of your 80’s hairstyle. We are bringing back the mullet!
CM: What is more important, the lyrics or the melody?
LT: I approach each song differently. Some songs almost write themselves lyrically. These songs more often then not have a narrative progression that tends to follow a more repetitive chord structure. For the songs that are more musically complex; I will usually wait to see what the rest of the guys come up with and then figure out how and where to throw vocals into the mix. I think lyrics and melody are both very important in songwriting but I wouldn’t put one over the other as every song we write has a different voice and story to tell.
CM: What are your views on auto tune?
LT: I find the dehumanizing qualities of auto-tune intriguing as a commentary on the accessibility of simulated talent. However, in our pursuit for the bionic man, there are still those who can see the marvel in our natural abilities. Charles Spearin is a multi-instrumentalist who is most known as a member of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think. A few years back he released an album that featured conversations he had with his neighbors on the subject of happiness.
Spearin then took the recordings and, based on the cadences and inflections of the conversation, composed arrangements around the musical qualities of the human voice. In his case, the conversations paved the route for the melody of each song (see here). I wanted to note Spearin’s process because he works in the opposite direction of auto tune. Instead of approaching the voice as a flawed attempt at perfection, he uses his talents to glorify the inherent beauty every voice possesses.
On our last stint in NYC we became friends with The Gregory Brothers. They have made a name for themselves for “auto tuning” the news. Unlike Spearin, they use auto tune as a tool in which to almost violently force melody and pitch upon random lines of speech. They usually have a comedic approach and are obviously not trying to fool anyone. It really works for them and I would consider The Gregory Brothers as artists utilizing technology.
Auto tune is a tool like a pen to paper. Some still prefer to use quill and ink and their craft is revered for it, but I’m not one to shun the progression of tools in the arts. As auto tune technology becomes more and more refined I’m sure we will see a sort of Vonnegut-esque vocal utopian society where we all have processed voices that allow every father to read bedtime stories to his son wielding the voice of Patrick Stewart.
CM: Any other band/bands from your local scene we really should know about?
LT: I couldn’t begin to name all of the bands worth checking our in Atlanta because there are so many amazing musicians filling the woodwork here. A few of my favorites: Adron (Which has 4 of the members of Little Tybee in it), Book of Colors, Noot d’Noot, REPTAR, Cousin Dan, Sealions, Venice is Sinking, Jeffrey Butzer, Oryx and Crake, Tealights, Hello Ocho, etc…
CM: Most flattering thing you’ve read about yourselves?
LT: It’s seems like I only remember the insults we get about our music…heh. Our Youtube channel gets some pretty awesome zingers. Here are a few gems: “they do a really good job of sounding like a Dave Matthews cover band” and “The motherfucker on the 8-string has more talent in his fingers than the rest of the band” We are accepting more insightful reviews on our facebook.
CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?
LT: I have a pretty random and late blooming music history. I listened to a lot of classical music growing up as my parents were avid NPR listeners. When my brother finally drew me into rock music the first CD I remember buying was Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik‘. I loved their sound was so new to me and I would dream about what it would be like to be in a band like that.
CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
LT: That “Friday” song by Rebecca Black. God bless LA and rich little white girls.
CM: What was the last show you paid and queued up for?
LT: I remember growing up in Savannah, GA and not really have much of a music scene. So whenever a good musical act came through town I was sure not to miss it. But in Atlanta, there is great music every night of the week and after a while you start to get numb to it. I try to keep the feeling in me.
We go to a bunch of local shows throughout the week but those shows seem almost like visiting the family after a while (Love you Grandma). I’ve got Paul Simon and Fleet Foxes coming up in May. I’m Excited for those.
CM: If you had to bring an artist back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down, which artists would it be and why??
LT: I’d really love to see Ray Charles play live and living. Georgia has the most beautiful state song because of him. Django Reinhardt and Wesley Willis would be cool as well. Maybe they could all form a super group! I’d pay for that.
I don’t know if I could send anyone to the afterlife in exchange though… Life is to short as it is…
I have already argued that there must be something in the water in Georgia and Little Tybee are further proof of the area’s musical riches.
Frontman Brock Scott crafts beautiful introspective melodies that are embellished by his five cohort, including full time violinist Nirvana Kelly, whose presence adds something fragile yet incredibly contagious to the mix.
Having released their album ‘Humorous To Bees‘ earlier this month the band are notching up performances in key venues with across North America.
As a bonus check out the band playing the track ‘Strong Ears‘ for My Side Of The Mountain in a cafe in North Carolina. I secretly hope the little girl joins the band full time.
As a blogger I am obliged to occasionally deal in strenous links; and having featured two bands from Georgia earlier in the week I thought Band Of Horses‘ take on Cee-Lo Green‘s ‘Georgia‘ was a good track to post.
There is clearly something in the water in Athens, Georgia. Whilst R.E.M., for whom I have always had a big crush, are the city’s biggest attraction (at least in terms of sales) the place has continued to produce a phenomenal list of artists over the years.Elf Power just serve to reaffirm this belief.
Having amassed a load of releases under their belt over the past 16 years they’ve recently brought out their ‘self-titled‘ in honour of their friend Vic Chesnutt, with whom the band had collaborated numerous times. Aquarium Drunkard has a fantastic piece by Elves guitarist/vocalist Andrew Rieger discussing Vic’s music and their relationship.
Great Lakes are a bit of an institution having been around in various guises since 1996. Ben Crum is the heart of the band since his partners in crime Dan Donahue and JameyHuggins (of Of Montreal fame) focussed their talenta on other projects over the years.
For the latest release under the Great Lakes guise, and the first to feature Crum as the principle songwrriter, he assembled musicians from the likes of Mice Parade, Beirut, Ladybug Transistor, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Ryan Adams to deliver his folk and country influenced vision.
‘Ways Of Escape‘ is pretty distant from the sound that has become associated with the bands but in no way less elegant. Clearly benefitting from the all star cast of of musicians lending their help Crum has delivered an enchanting record boasting soulful organs, steel pedal guitars and considerate drumming.
‘Ways Of Escape’ is out now on Orange Twin Records
Big Boi‘s ‘Shutterbug’ has been one of the biggest hits of the past few months showcasing the rapper in impressive form. its is therefore no surprise that producers and djs worldwide are flocking to fiddle with it.
The legendary The Hood Internet give it a laid back vibe by mixing it with Foals’ Miami single to great effect.
Having just featured The White Panda taking on Duck Sauce last week it is awesome how prolific these guys are. This time they mixed Big Boi with Discovery achieving a similarly laid back feel though perhaps hinting more at the electro roots of the original.
Elsewhere Brooklyn‘s Sub Swara give it a much more eerie feel in their remix. This is a taster before the duo release their second album in November and is sure to get people talking.
Which treatment is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section