ATN's Music News of the World: Pet Sounds
Filter's Liesegang Quits As Debut Goes PlatinumAddicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : Citing creative differences, Brian Liesegang, one-half of the Cleveland industrial outfit Filter, has unexpectedly quit the band just as the group was receiving wide recognition for its platinum debut and newest single "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do."Saying that he and studio collaborator Richard Patrick have been heading in different directions for some time, Liesegang explained Friday (Aug. 29) that Patrick's general indifference to his work, particularly his electronics influence, convinced him that he could no longer work with him."Rich (Patrick) wasn't taking a very active role in what I was doing," programmer and guitarist Liesegang said by phone from St. Louis on Friday (Aug. 29), two weeks after making the announcement. "It was my perception that he wanted to continue to try and rewrite 'Hey Man I Shot Her,' or whatever it was. I guess I've been making my own records for the last year, and so I called up two weeks ago and said, 'I quit. I leave.'"Liesegang said he explained his decision to the band's management by phone, and also left a message with Patrick, with whom he collaborated on the band's hit "Hey Man Nice Shot" off their first album, 1995's Short Bus, which recently went platinum (1 million sold). Patrick oddly made no mention of Liesegang's departure during an interview with ATN Thursday (Aug. 28). He did, however, talk about the next album to be credited to Filter, tentatively titled Abyssinian Son."The album is not as stripped as the first one (1995's Short Bus). This record I want to be a little bit more hills and valley. The harder songs are gonna be hard, the softer songs are gonna be soft," Patrick said.Jim Baltutis, a spokesman for Filter's label Reprise, said that Patrick was with his family on Friday and could not be reached for comment. A statement from the label is expected after the Labor Day weekend. Baltutis said the label was caught unaware of the development, calling it a "bombshell." While he knew there was tension between Patrick and Liesegang, the spokesman said "I didn't think there was at all a definite decision."Liesegang's departure comes just as Filter is beginning to receive wide exposure for its single, "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do," recorded with Crystal Method for the Spawn soundtrack and receiving heavy rotation on MTV. Filter also recently received a platinum record award for Short Bus. Patrick was at the Reprise Records offices on Thursday to pick up his platinum disc; Liesegang chose not to attend the ceremony.Liesegang said he felt he made his contributions to Short Bus with "one hand tied behind my back," because the band toned down its electronic leanings for fear of being perceived as a Nine Inch Nails clone. "My forte has always been electronics," said the musician. "I've always viewed the studio as my instrument, in more of an Eno-esque fashion."The newly ex-Filter member said he has recorded 15 songs for his own next album. Liesegang added that he has already done some work with Filter's former concert drummer, Matt Walker, who now plays for alt-rockers Smashing Pumpkins. He hopes the two will collaborate further, and said, "There's a lot of musicians who are going to be making guest collaborative appearances." It was unclear whether Patrick or Liesegang would keep the Filter name.Although he would like to stay with Filter's current label, Reprise, Liesegang said that securing a label for his first solo work is not yet of paramount importance. "A lot of material I've written I've got to reinterpret a little bit, because some of it was written with the intention of participation from Richie, which never quite occurred. It could happen really quickly or really slowly. I've got a vision of what I want to do, and it's just a matter of seeing it through."Ken Scott, one half of the electronic duo Crystal Method, who worked with Filter on the Spawn soundtrack, was not so surprised at the news of Liesegang's leaving. "When it's just two people in a band, they sometimes have problems. But I thought they were working together fine."And I thought the proof of them working together fine was in 'Trip Like I Do.' But we didn't get to see how they acted when they're by themselves. It's a shame if they're splitting up."____________________________Modern Rockers Tune Into Pet Sounds Box SetAddicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : When the four-CD box set re-release of the Beach Boys' classic and highly influential Pet Sounds finally hits stores in November, pop songwriter Matthew Sweet will undoubtedly be among those anxious to flip through the tracks.Afterall, the alternative rocker owes at least some of his harmony-heavy and melodic rock sound to Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson and his knack for penning the perfect pop tune. In fact, Sweet counts Pet Sounds and Wilson among the finest gifts the pop world has to offer."On pure melody, he was the best. The music is really moving even without any words. The instrumentals on the record killed me. And I think the combination of the innocence and openness of his lyrics, the childlike thing. It maybe hurts them in the realm of being really cool, but at the same time it's a really important element of what makes it all great."When the 1997 year-end retrospectives are compiled, likely to sit high atop many "Best Of" lists is the four-CD box set re-release of the Beach Boys' influential Pet Sounds album (Nov. 4), which has experienced a series of delays in production.Release of the collection -- featuring the album's original mono mix, the first-ever true stereo mix, outtakes, and vocal- and instrumental-only mixes -- has been postponed on several occasions. It was last slated for release in the summer of '96 before being bumped yet again due to missed deadlines from both the band and Capitol Records, as well as fear, according to label sources, of overcrowding stores already saturated with the Beatles Anthology series.Among the Beach Boys fans most eager to get their hands on the set are many notable musicians themselves."I just really loved... "In My Room" and "Caroline, No" and Pet Sounds. I love that shit. I'm a sucker for it," Everclear leader Art Alexakis said. "I liked it when I was a kid. That's what I liked about the Ramones. They had a lot of that Beach Boys thing. WIth the power pop going and the harmonies. I dug that shit and I dig it now."And it's no wonder.Although Pet Sounds was considered a relative disappointment for the band when it was initially released in 1966, it was hailed by musical peers such as the Beatles' songwriter Paul McCartney as Beach Boy Brian Wilson's magnum opus. In fact, McCartney, whose reflections on Pet Sounds are included in the box set's 120 page liner notes book, cited the album as a key influence at the time for the Fab Four's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, widely considered one of the best rock albums ever made.Now anticipation is running high among a new generation of influential musicians for the Pet Sounds box.Sweet (Girlfriend, 100% Fun), for one, said he was particularly disappointed when the collection was shelved. A Los Angeles resident whose latest LP Blue Sky On Mars clearly demonstrates Wilson's influence on Sweet's sense of harmony and melody, said he had been asked to do a few alternative radio broadcasts with the Beach Boys' leader, on which the pair would team up on one of the Pet Sounds tunes."It got to the point where it was like, 'You're going to Brian's Monday and rehearsing,'" Sweet recalled. "And then the next thing I knew it was indefinitely postponed and I never knew if it would really see the light of day or not."Lush popster Eric Matthews is another fan ready for the Pet Sounds box to bow.He and McCartney were two of the musicians originally tapped for advertising comments when the box was being prepared last year. Matthews (It's Heavy In Here) is one of the countless fans who marveled while comparing Pet Sounds to such important work as the Beatles' Revolver or Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."They were achieving many of the same things, but Brian's work was a little more special, a little more important. Because he was really doing it all on his own, and the Beatles had so much help. They supplied great songs, but it was George Martin that put them in the Pet Sounds category."Matthews said that to this day, he continues to turn back to Pet Sounds more than any other album. "There are elements of mystery and imagination in Brian's work when he's great. I don't listen to Beatles records anymore, but for some reason I do need the constant nourishment of Brian's work."And while he's looking forwad to hearing the box set, Alexakis has his reservations. "I'm kinda depressed by a lot of the stuff that happened after that record. I don't know about the outtakes, but have you heard the Smiley Smile stuff," he asked, referring to Wilson's follow-up Smile sessions, "where he's singing about vegetable sand stuff? It's sad. He lost his mind. The guy lost his mind."_______________________________Everclear Leader Steers Band In New DirectionAddicted To Noise Senior Writer Gil Kaufman reports : Everclear recorded 19 songs last winter. But after recording what he thought was the group's next album, leader Art Alexakis gave the completed album a good hard listen, and decided it just didn't cut it.So, he did some serious musical soul searching. There, amid all the voices he has loved in the past, he found it, he said."I'm 35 years old. I listened to the Beatles and Elvis Costello," Alexakis said about the wide range of influences he revisited before completing the band's upcoming album, So Much for the Afterglow due out Oct. 7.He scrapped about half of the initial tracks for the album -- the follow-up to their breakthrough effort, Sparkle and Fade -- at the beginning of '97 and took some time off to re-think the direction of the band, and listen to old records. "I took a couple of weeks off in Hawaii with my wife and wrote down ideas," he said. "I came back with 40 pages of ideas and implemented most of them. I wanted big guitars, more acoustic guitar, banjo, strings, horns. But a couple of the songs had to be balls-out. I love that shit. That's what I grew up with."Although their sound has never been what most people would consider punk, Alexakis said he assumes some of the "younger kids" might be disappointed at the less-aggressive nature of the new effort. "It's not a punk-rock record for sure," he said.The roiling track "Amphetamine" may not fit a definition of punk, but it certainly borrows from that genre's unblinking, in-your-face honesty. "I was trying to get the music to get to a high, and then come down," said Alexakis about the track, whose lyrics and music literally feel like a rush before the crash. "Subconsciously, I wanted something really hard and then take it into something ultra-soft with no percussion, just voice and strings." To achieve the effect, Alexakis recruited Paul Cantelon of the Wild Colonials to play violin and a friend of Cantelon's, Gerri Sutyak, to add some atmospheric cello over Alexakis' murmured lines, "I tell myself the same damn thing/ Everyday/ Ooh everything will be alright."That departure is preceded by a more jarring shift, the instrumental mayhem of "El Distorto De Melodica." The funky, distorted jam is a loud, cacophonous blast of over-amped guitar and caterwauling vocals that Alexakis said "just happened" while the band was fooling around in the studio experimenting and jamming. The group chose the best parts from that and created loops of their own percussion to add to it, Alexakis said. "It basically turned into this huge, moving mass with me behind a distorted mike caterwauling." Alexakis is so proud of the results, which are much funkier than any previous Everclear songs, that he said he'd even consider doing a dance remix of the track if there were any takers. "I grew up with all kinds of funky stuff, but I've always been contentious of white funk bands."Part of finding his inner funk included a conscious decision to sing instead of scream on the album's 12 vocal tracks. The singer, who also produced the album, even penned a homage to one of his heroes, "Otis Redding," that didn't make the album, but which he said captures what he was trying to accomplish vocally this time. "I really worked on my vocals and I'm happy with how they came out," he said. "I wish I could sing like Otis Redding and I think I pushed myself to put more of what is in my soul into my voice this time. I pushed the limits and I did more than I ever thought I could."Another oddball experiment is the loopy short bit "Ataraxia (Media Intro)," for which Alexakis recruited Lars Fox, formerly of Grotus, to help set-up computer and sequencing equipment. "I wanted some weird propaganda thing from the '50s about drugs, specifically about anti-depressants," Alexakis said about the found tape track. "Lars found this thing at a video store where they're basically talking about the treatment of emotional problems with drugs, which back in the '50s was a new thing. So they made this propaganda film about the 'relaxed wife.' "The song leads into the song "Normal Like You," in which Alexakis explores his 10-year experience with anti-depressant medication. "It's not a judgment about anti-depressants or Prozac," he said. "I meet people every day who are on it and I just think it's weird. I think 'Ataraxia' just fit real well with that song."The results, while certainly different, are not as jarring as they sound, but they do show a willingness to change. "If I made music just for money," Alexakis said, "people would see right through it."Laughing, he added, "I'm not good enough to do the Celine Dion pop thing."__________________________________Trash Rocker Neko Case Goes A Little Bit CountryAddicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : When Mint Records co-owner Grant Lawrence learned that Neko Case, the drummer for Mint trash rockers Maow, yearned to make a traditional country record, he eyed the notion with more than a little skepticism.Afterall, this is one hard-bangin', skin slammin' rocker we're talking about."She came to us and said, 'I'm from Virginia originally, and my parents are country music singers. I've got all these songs, and I'd love the chance to record them,'" Lawrence recalled. "And we were like, 'Uh, no, thanks.'"Case eventually prevailed against Lawrence's better business sense when she showed him a line up of indie rock musicians (Zumpano, the Softies, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet) and bluegrass players (John Reischman, Peter Willson) willing to lend her a hand with the album."They didn't hear any of my songs before they told me it was OK to make the record," Case said. "They did it purely based on trust, which rarely happens in the music industry, I'm sure. But that made me work all the more hard."In the end, no one was as surprised as Lawrence by The Virginian, the recently released album that grew from Case's persistence. "It turns out she's got this incredible, soaring voice that we did not know about," Lawrence said.Credited to Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, The Virginian features a dozen songs split between Case originals and covers from traditional country stars such as Ernest Tubbs ("Thanks A Lot"), Loretta Lynn ("Somebody Led Me Away") and Scott Walker ("Duchess"). While Case's voice is a genuine highlight of the album, The Virginian also succeeds by avoiding the kitsch that mars many indie rock forays into country.Although the 26-year-old drummer and singer was born in Virginia, she lived in Massachusetts, Vermont, Florida, Oregon and Washington before finally moving to Vancouver, British Columbia. Case credits her blue collar, rural environment as well as her family with influencing this turn in her music. The singer's grandmother, to whom The Virginian is dedicated, in particular inspired her to listen to country talents such as George Jones and Patsy Cline. Her parents, on the other hand, schooled her in Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles and Queen, whose "Misfire" is also covered with sincere hillbilly twang on the album.Case reserves her greatest admiration, however, for the Everly Brothers. Lawrence calls her version of the Everlys' "Bowling Green" "true pop bliss.""I worship the Everly Brothers," Case said, citing the pair's famous harmonies as particularly inspiring. "I think the finest moment in television history was the Everly Brothers performing 'Bowling Green' on the Ed Sullivan Show in the early '70s, late '60s. That's why we did 'Bowling Green.' The original version done on LP is quite a bit more uptight, but the version they did on Ed Sullivan is the arrangement we chose. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous arrangement."Case said that so far fans of Maow's trash-rock aesthetic have taken kindly to the country vibe of The Virginian, and she hopes that traditional C&W fans will do the same. "We're playing a total country show at an Army base in Quebec, which I'm looking forward to. There will be people two-stepping." Off-The-(ATN)-Wire: Former Twisted Sister frontman and Parental Music Resource Center foe Dee Snider will star in "Rune," an indie thriller about a crazed serial-killing Internet surfer who goes after little girls by talking to them on-line... The soundtrack to the indie dark comedy "Gravesend" (Sept. 5) is currently in stores and features new tracks from Lordz Of Brooklyn, former House Of Pain frontman Everlast, Cake and Call O' Da Wild featuring Cypress Hill. In addition to the film's score and dialogue snippets, the soundtrack also contains Local H's haunting version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"... The music you know and love from years of watching driver's-ed films, science filmstrips and 50s sitcoms is now available on CD courtesy of Scamp Records. Music For TV Dinners is a greatest hits collection of feel-good background music that should have Esquivel aficionados running for the nearest record store.