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Interview with The Contortionist’s Jonathan Carpenter

Every now and then, a band comes along that just blows everyone out of the water with each musical piece that they write. Right now, that band is The Contortionist. I recently got a chance to sit down (or rather, stand up) with their lead singer, Jonathan Carpenter, to talk about their newest release, Intrinsic.

Bröötalisk: Alright, let’s cut to the chase. Intrinsic is, to say the least, a powerful record. Can you give me your though process behind the transition from Exoplanet to Intrinsic? What did you want to accomplish with this record?

Jonathan Carpenter: When we did Exoplanet, we went with the space vibe and that was something that I think, even before I was in the band, was a goal for the end result to be a sci fi type of story. With this album, we had to make a choice of where to go. It’s kind of like a novel style of music. I think we just kept the elements that makes us different and stand out and what we’re good at and finally carved out all the shit we just didn’t want to do anymore. Kinda made a new sound that represents what we enjoy playing live and what we can play live well. We wanted to push ourselves further and know that we’re getting better at writing music and performing it. We tried to get our wide range of sound in the new album and diversified it. Keyboards are definitely more pronounced this record, but they also don’t take over the album. I think overall we’re really pleased with how production and our concepts turned out.

Bröötalisk: Where Exoplanet was about the destruction of our homeworld and our search for a new one, Intrinsic is more about the human mind and how we interpret reality. What inspired you to write such a complex album? Are these kinds of thought provoking themes something you plan to do with later records?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdnIMto1WNU

Jonathan Carpenter: There a bunch of books that I’ve read, mostly science, not necessarily science fiction, that talk about topics that are still being discovered, like neuroanatomy and different biotechnologies that are discussed on the album as far as story goes. Reading books like that inspired me to talk about things that could happen in the future. Things that could really change our daily lives and experiences of reality.

Bröötalisk: Misha Mansoor of Periphery mentioned that Intrinsic is more of a “grower album”. That is, you have to listen to it multiple times before you really understand and appreciate the record. Is that something you were going for with Intrinsic?

Jonathan Carpenter: No, I don’t think that necessarily motivated us. But we didn’t really have a goal to make music that could easily be understood either. We would ask ourselves, “Do we feel like these songs are any more commercial or simplified that represents pop music or anything that’s not thought provoking?” We still feel like the sounds and everything are very interesting and that they break expectations.

Bröötalisk: Speaking of Misha, he always speaks very highly of your band. Is it safe to say that The Contortionist and Periphery and are BFFs?

Jonathan Carpenter: Haha yeah, that’s a good term to describe it. Whenever we’ve toured with them, things were amazing. We got along really well. Buddying up with everybody in the tour. That was an amazing tour in general, but Periphery was definitely great to us. It was a lot of fun.

Bröötalisk: Is that when you first met the band?

Jonathan Carpenter: We had played one show with them before that, and it was just a one off day where two tours got combined randomly. It wasn’t expected. We were the first band to play out of 10 bands, so we played in front of like 15 people. They were one of the coheadliners. So yeah, we met them there, and a year later we toured together.

Bröötalisk: Many people have been speculating that Periphery and you guys might tour together some time soon. Is there any info you can give out on this?

Jonathan Carpenter: We don’t have anything solidified right now, but there have been talks between their manager and ours. Summer Slaughter was definitely something we tried to be in the running for, and unfortunately it didn’t work out this year. But who knows, maybe next year we’ll get that.

Bröötalisk:A little more off topic, I’m what you might call a vinyl enthusiast, so when I saw that Intrinsic wasn’t being pressed on vinyl, I was disappointed. Are there any future plans to release the album on vinyl?

Jonathan Carpenter: I’d imagine that’s very likely that will happen. The reason we just released a CD is because we wanted to focus on just getting it out there and then maybe later on do some secondary things and spice things up.

We just couldn’t keep our hands off of each other.

Bröötalisk: So, every time I mention that I listen to The Contortionist, almost every one seems to think I’m talking about something Cirque de Soleil. This made me wonder, where did you get the name “The Contortionist” from?

Jonathan Carpenter: I’m pretty sure that that originated from Joey, our drummer. I don’t know all the reasons for it. I think it’s kind of a mixture between sounding fucking awesome and the fact that we change our sound a lot. But I’m not really sure, it wasn’t me. I would say that it’s basically those two things. You know how it is when you have to pick out a name.

Bröötalisk: What are some of your favorite bands out there right now?

Jonathan Carpenter: There’s a lot of lighter stuff that have nothing to do with metal that I like to listen to, Deerhunter, Minus the Bear. I really like Wild Beasts a lot. As far as metal goes, the newest Textures album is still really sick, I like to jam that out. I also like Last Chance to Reason, busting out Level 2 never gets old. The new Periphery was also really awesome, I liked that. Other than that, I haven’t really been listening to music because I’ve been so busy finishing up recording. But now that that’s over, I’m starting to get back into the cycle again.

 

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Outside Lands Fest

It’s easy to forget how good we have it here in Santa Cruz. There’s the obvious: beaches, redwoods, meadows, radio (duh)… but there’s also our prime location. Santa Cruz is exactly 73.4 miles from San Francisco, home to the 2012 Outside Lands Music Festival.

This weekend, August 10-12, Golden Gate Park will undoubtedly experience an explosion of amazing artists, and I don’t just mean the legendary musicians who will be occupying the stages. Once again, OSL will be collaborating with Juxtapoz Magazine to provide attendees with free (!!!!) mags, live artist performances and even installations which will be built throughout the weekend.

I’m especially stoked to see work by the quirky, adorable Australian duo Dabs MylaAnother pair-up will occur on Sunday: Marcus LaFarga, an artist with a clean, contemporary aesthetic and a knack for reinventing classic typographic images, will execute a live painting with Brett Armory, whose haunting portraits (like the one seen below) capture the isolation of individuals in misty, smudged creations.

Artists will also include graffiti writers Curve (seen below) and Pastime, tattoo artists from Golden West Tattoo, illustrator N8 Van Dyke, and many more.

 

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Aesop Rock’s New One

Any Aesop Rock fans will be happy to hear that he has recently dropped a new album, Skelethon. This is the San Francisco-based rapper and producer’s sixth studio album and first self-produced project. Skelethon contains a multitude of playful and dark horror film-like beats that are accompanied by classic Aesop lyrics. Although the entire album is fantastic, there are a few dope tracks that stand out from the rest: Zero Dark Thirty, Tetra, Racing Stripes and don’t forget ZZZ Top. Random Fun Fact: Aesop Rock is also really into his cats. Grrrreat!

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Jovanotti’s “Italia 1988-2012″: A 24-Year Retrospective

Through ATO Records, Italian singer-songwriter and rapper Lorenzo Cherubini, better known as Jovanotti, has finally issued his first U.S. release after over two decades of being in the business. This compilation album that includes the greatest hits of his career so far, aptly titled “Italia 1988-2012″. Initial tracks like “Con La Luce Negli Occhi” and “Sulla Frontiera” are very energetic and contribute to the album’s generally light-hearted feel. Meanwhile, other tracks like “Mi Fido Di Te” and “La Porta É Aperta” take it down a notch and show Jovanotti’s softer side, complete with acoustic guitars and even some backing vocals. With Jovanotti’s own nonchalant and distinct style of rapping in just about every track, this quasi-greatest-hits-collection is not to be missed.

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Loud Rock Charts: 8/6

Can you believe its August already? I can’t. I still feel like it’s June. Pretty soon, us UCSC students have to go back to the grind that is school. I am not looking forward to upper division math homework. It’s gonna be bröötal.

On a happier note, did anyone catch Usain Bolt’s insane run? Didn’t quite beat the world record this time, but he did get the olympic record (again). Oh and the gold. That man is crazy.

ADDS

1 FORESHADOWING Second World Metal Blade
2 ROB ZOMBIE Mondo Sex Head UME-Geffen
3 DUST BOLT Violent Demolition Napalm
4 DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT  “Lucky Animals” [Single] InsideOut

5 FORSAKEN Beyond Redemption Massacre

CHARTS

1 PERIPHERY  Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal Sumerian
2 CONTORTIONIST Intrinsic eOne
3 GOJIRA L’Enfant Sauvage Roadrunner
4 HELLYEAH Band Of Brothers Eleven Seven
5 BARONESS Yellow And Green Relapse
6 BONDED BY BLOOD Aftermath Earache
7 KING OF ASGARD …To North Metal Blade
8 HONG KONG BLOOD OPERA Not For The Faint Of Heart Full Effect
9 WHITECHAPEL Whitechapel Metal Blade
10 SERJ TANKIAN Harakiri Reprise

 

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A “Vacationer” Vacation In < 3 Minutes…

I’m making my way via automobile up to Oregon for a mini-vacation. Nothing too lavish—I’ll be gone less than a week and still be in a separate hemisphere than the Bahamas. But it’s just enough time to get away from that plague of the everyday here in Surf City, where others come to get away. If you haven’t had time to squeeze in any summer merriment yet this season, I have good news.   Vacationer, a Philadelphia-based dream pop band just dropped their new music video. The goods in question? A catchy little ditty called “Trip” is the bands first single. Vacationer partnered with self-proclaimed international community  Lomography, passionately dedicated to antique photography. The video was shot on Lomokino 35mm film. All you Instagrammers out there take heed: this gritty and fun (and grainy, saturated and gorgeous) old-school video makes you want to lay out in the sunshine with a retro bathing suit.