Lifestyle

Interview with Health

Guardian: What did you guys try to do on Get Color to branch out from the first record? In what ways have you succeeded? John Famiglietti: More repetition, making everything more “song-based” and more grooves. I think we mostly succeeded in evolving and progressing our sound, but we’d like to go much farther. G: Do you see the band moving toward a more dance-oriented sound on the next release? Where are your heads at right now in your vision of HEALTH for this year? JF: Well, yes actually, because our next release is DISCO2, the sequel to our remix album, which is naturally dancey. But for future HEALTH projects, yes with an ‘and,’ and if with a ‘but,’ not gonna make an album of dance beats, but definitely want to keep streamlining the “groove” aspect and produce things in a way that is more electronic bassy. G: How do you engage the audience in spaces that might not be as conducive to your frantic live show? The Loft is a fairly upscale bar and lounge, for example. What’s your mentality when getting ready to play at a space like that? JF: We just do it. We’ve really conditioned ourselves from years of playing; We can do it anywhere. Also for college shows, it’s par for the course. G: What band is inspiring you guys most right now in what you’re doing with your own music, and why? Any new bands from LA you want to shout out? JF: No one really, and I’m not being a dick. We do keep taking influence from other music, but it’s mostly just song concepts or musical tricks. At the moment we’re listening to Top-40 radio … really dying for a good new record to listen to at the moment. There’s a new band in LA called TEARIST, which I think is pretty cool. Also, I’d love to shout out Pictureplane from Denver — his 2009 album Dark Rift is amazing. G: After the SD show, you guys are going to quickly tour Canada and then it’s off to New Zealand and Australia. What was it like getting that tour booked? JF: Well, there’s never really much of an adventure of getting a tour booked, its just some e-mails, and you cross your fingers. G: Do you have any vacation plans while you’re there, aside from playing music? JF: Totally. We’ve never been, so we’re taking days off to hang (which we rarely do on most tours). Hoping to hit up the black sand beaches and see some countryside. G: What’s HEALTH’s dream collaboration? If you could do a song with any artist working now, who would you pick and why? JF: We’ve always wanted to do a song with Johnny Jewel of Glass Candy. G: P.S. My funny HEALTH fact: Way back when, there was a post on Craigslist wanting a vocalist for a band based in LA, listing influences like Liars and the Locust … it was you dudes. My hometown is Thousand Oaks, a suburb about 45 minutes north of Los Angeles, but I answered the post because I was looking to join a new band and I loved all the influences you had put down. At the time, it bummed me out that I couldn’t join (I think I was still in high school). Just thought I’d share that, take it easy guys. JF (laughing): I forgot about that. We never used anyone from the ad by the way. ...

A Track A Day Will Prep You for Health's Difficult Bliss

Do you enjoy blasts of white noise? How about harnessed feedback anarchy, when instruments turn incoherent? At first, HEALTH might not seem like your sonic bag. The LA foursome culls power-tronics and abrasive beats from bashing experimentalists like Liars and manage to cram in post-punk, hardcore and techno sheen. But get this: no screaming. Just Jake Duzsik’s ghost-in-the-machine monotone syllables, a lulling counterpoint to the madness behind him. Not as immediately tasty as last week’s Vampire Weekend expose, but you need bands like HEALTH to yank your mind in disparate directions with guitar stabs and tempo shifts. Dip your toes into the great, murky pool that is HEALTH’s alienation with new single “Die Slow,” and watch the morphing chords and ’90s rap-speed beat grab you. Intrigued? Wade further with “We Are Water,” a hardcore drill sergeant wrapped in dance gauze, to keep the head nodding and tease at something more visceral. Finally, to prepare your body for the show this Saturday, try “Triceratops” off their self-titled debut. A feedback swirl and crash cymbals lead into a robo-strobe beat, riding in like a freak train, barely waiting for you to hop on before devolving into A.D.D. squalor. The last third of the track reaches ambient tremolo bliss as BJ Miller slams the shit out of his toms until they fade to paced drums. HEALTH proves rock can still shock — it hasn’t all been done before. Weirdo-poppers Tape Deck Mountain open for HEALTH. ...

Couch Classics

[caption id="attachment_14648" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Kevin Wu/Guardian"][/caption] For the next six weeks, Landmark Ken Cinema on Adam’s Ave. is showing $7.25 classics every Saturday at midnight. That’s right: one big steaming pile of nostalgia for the price of a decent hamburger. Though the Ken may be a couple miles more distant than our local La Jolla Village Cinemas, the newly made-over “Midnight Madness” series is well worth the trek — and what its film selection has lost in subversive overtones, it’s gained in cult cred. Jan. 23 Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ The anthem of volatile youth, Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ dark, violent novel is equally offbeat and haunting. Set in futuristic London, the film centers on Alex (Malcolm McDowell), A psychopathic gang leader who settles down for a nice glass of milk and some Beethoven after ripping open young girls’ throats. When Alex is arrested for rape and murder, he undergoes behavior therapy to purge his violent tendencies — only the therapy itself is brutal and sadistic. It can be quite a sobering surprise if you go in unaware, but “Orange” remains a horrific favorite for its exhilarating pace, perversity and harsh honesty. So if you and the droogs can’t make up your rassoodocks about what do to for the evening, head to Kensington for the bets kind of violence. Jan.30 The Coen Brothers’ ‘The Big Lebowski’ Jeff Bridges is the Dude — a bathrobe wearing, White Russian-drinking bowler who keeps to himself. That is, until two porn-industry gangsters invade his home in a case of mistaken identity, and soil one very important rug that really tied his living room together. Seeking retribution for his prized carpet, el Duderino locates the perpetrator: Lebowski. During their meeting, Lebowski commissions the Dude to rescue his kidnapped trophy wife. Throw in ultra-feminist daughter Maude, a Vietnam vet with anger issues, a handful of nihilists and a very wet ferret, and you’ve got “The Big Lebowski” — it never disappoints. The Dude always draws a large slippered crowd, mostly belligerent, so grab a Russian, pour it in a discrete thermos and get there early. Feb.6 John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ With the tagline “Man is the warmest place to hide,” how could this film go wrong? “The Thing” details the story of a research team in the Antarctic that discovers a parasitic alien presence. Aside from being the biggest sausage fest in the known universe (even the dog is male), “Thing” is an excellent horror movie that exploits the classic thriller theme of mysterious rabid disease. Though you might have seen it done since in “The Invasion” and “The Faculty,” the idea originated from this fresh take on claustrophobic paranoia. It’s an enjoyably tense ride on which no one and nowhere is safe. Feb. 13 Steven Spielberg’s ‘E.T.’ Though most of us can’t remember the 1982 release of this cutesy alien flick, only the unborn have never heard E.T’s heartwrenching request to “phone home.” What childhood would be complete without the story of Elliot (Henry Thomas) and Gertie (Drew Barrymore), two siblings who discover a pint-sized alien in their backyard? They teach their wrinkly visitor everything about Earth culture, from basic language to Halloween dressup. In return, E.T. eats all of their candy and establishes a psychic connection with Elliot that makes everyone think he’s psychotic. Before Spielberg developed a bad habit of throwing money into terrible Shia Labeouf films, he invented the warm, fuzzy feeling with golden-age “E.T.” Feb.20 Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ This classic made QT’s last name a verb (Tarantino: to upset a film’s time sequence so severely that all heads in the audience cock to one side in confusion and awe). If you’re unfamiliar with Tarantino’s particular blend of blood and verbal lyricism, this is the perfect introduction. In 1994, he had just enough popularity to garner a decent budget, but not so much that it clouded his judgment (see “Kill Bill, Part Douche”). Three seemingly unrelated stories cross each other unexpectedly in this masterly woven tale of a mob boss and his heroin-addicted wife, the boxer he paid to throw a match and two very Travolta and Jackson hitmen. Feb. 27 Jim Henson’s ‘The Labyrinth’ What happens when Jim Henson abandons his Muppet family to team up with David Bowie for an ’80s fantasy film about a Goblin King? Pure magic. In a style characteristic of the time (think “Gremlins,” “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Legend”), a caterpillar-eyebrowed Jennifer Connelly has to traverse a magical labyrinth to retrieve her baby brother from the clutches of Jareth the Goblin King — complete with fairy dust and an embarrassingly large codpiece. You’ll love this film (if you don’t already) for its unabashed camp and knee-slapping puppetry. After all, Henson isn’t happy unless his hand is up the skirt of one character or another. [caption id="attachment_14650" align="alignleft" width="614" caption="Ronnie Steinitz"][/caption] ...

Warning: ‘Lost’ Spoil to Follow

Just a little less than two weeks until the premiere of “Lost”’s final season, and I’m getting antsy. Think about all the questions we need answered: Is John Locke really dead, and is that mysterious Man in Black possessing him? What caused the statue of Tawaret to be destroyed, leaving only a foot behind? What happened when the hydrogen bomb exploded and everything went white — did Oceanic 815 land in Los Angeles? Judging by the newly confirmed title of season six’s first episode, “LA X,” it’s still up for debate. The “X” in the acronym is deliberately separated from “LA” by a space, conjuring up images of Los Angeles International but also hinting that “X” is a variable. As Faraday clearly explains in season five’s “The Variable”: “Whatever happened, happened. All right? But then I finally realized … I had been spending so much time focused on the constants, I forgot about the variables. Do you know what the variables in these equations are, Jack?” In essence, Faraday is saying that Jack, Kate and company have the power to mess with time and the universe if they use big enough tools — the hydrogen bomb being the boulder in the proverbial river. So it’s clear they can change the course of history, but that doesn’t answer anything. We’re left waiting for the last episodes like crack connoisseurs who’ve invested lots of time, money and energy in their crack hobby — which is why I’ve decided to provide my own all-encompassing theory that explains every single answer to LOST …wait for it: lizards. Seven-foot-tall, bloodthirsty, shape-shifting lizards. In truth, these past few weeks I’ve been reading conspiracy theories on the Interwebs — you know, the Bilderberg Group, the 9/11 Conspiracy, mind control, etc.— and I stumbled on the Godfather of them all: David Icke. His dense New Age book “The Biggest Secret” spends over 500 pages weaving translated ancient texts and secondhand accounts of lizard man sightings all to conclude that the world’s elite are really a disguised alien race called the Annunaki planning global domination. So in honor of Mr. Icke, I’m going to transpose his fairly insane yet compelling theories onto the world of “Lost” speculation. Here we go: Jacob and the Man in Black are both highly evolved reptilians; one embraces humans and leads them to the island’s secrets, and the other has no faith in humanity. They have existed on Earth since ancient times, at least dating back to the Egyptians, but have never reached out openly to humans until the fateful day that Jacob calls the Black Rock (a 19th century slave ship) to the Island. One of the passengers on this ship is the mysterious Richard Alpert, still unfamiliar with the Island’s magic, but Jacob takes him under his wing and teaches him about eternal life. Richard becomes Jacob’s primary messenger and assistant for the human world, taking leadership of the others (the rest of the people on the ship) and overseeing them as they adapt to the island. More than a century later, Jack, Locke, Kate and all the rest of the important players receive a special visit by Jacob, who pushes them in the direction of the island, ensuring their fate on the Oceanic flight. It’s unclear what Jacob intends for these humans — perhaps they have more potential than the rest of humanity, or maybe they’re part lizard and they don’t even realize it — but he guides them to the event-chain plane crash that begins “Lost.” Going with the lizard motif, what if Jack and John’s fathers were also part of this reptilian bloodline, hiding out as civilians in human disguises and having children with human females? It would explain a lot about the fathers’ self-destructive, manipulative behavior and why both Christian Shephard and Anthony Cooper (Locke’s dad) can never seem to relate to their children (heck, Anthony even does malicious things like steal Locke’s kidney and push him out of a window). It would also answer why Christian and Anthony both appear on the island as if out of thin air, and why Christian guides Locke to push the underground wheel that stops all the wacky time travel. Ultimately, the “Lost” writers have an absurd undertaking here. Trying to wrap up all these loose ends and plot holes, they just might need an ancient lizard conspiracy. Yes, it sounds so crazy that I’m not sure I even believe it. But come May, I might be having the last laugh. ...

Under Flashy Producer, Bubblegum Pop Deflates

It seemed like the Minneapolis boys of Motion City Soundtrack were finally on the verge of some serious radio play: They moved to a fancy label, snagged a veteran power-chord virtuoso Mark Hoppus as co-producer and cranked their Moog synthesizer to a nearly unbearable blast. Motion City Soundtrack My Dinosaur Life Sony Unfortunately, the bubblegum pop on My Dinosaur Life is little more than an overproduced rehash of the band’s limited repertoire: fast-paced, hyper-lyrical storytelling, climaxing in butter-smooth cries of self-loathing and forced irony. With a hotshot producer on board, you’d think they’d ease up on the high-school poetry (“There’s a buzz/ There’s a buzz/ There’s a buzzing of bugs”) and indulge in the kind of melodic simplicity that made their first efforts — “Feels Like Rain,” “The Future Freaks Me Out” — so freewheeling. Instead, we get a haggard Justin Pierre bitching about pharmaceutical evils, something about a tourniquet, dinosaurs and dreams. Notable exceptions to their nonsensical babbling are “Skin and Bones,” which employs jumpy repetition to rival Fall Out Boy, and “Stand Too Close,” paring down every song’s obnoxious synth layers and cutting to recall a bit of their original simplicity. By far the stupidest track is “@!#[email protected]!” (Did I get that right? Am I missing an octothorpe?), which is apparently what Pierre was thinking of when he described the album as “edgy”: “You all need to go away, you motherfuckers/ You all need to leave me and my homeboys alone.” Really. And the rest is so forgettable that it’s better left as background music to the next episode of “Gossip Girl.” ...

Midlife Crisis Drowns in Superficial Sentiment

Ringo Starr Y Not Hip-O Ringo Starr is too damn busy to write you an autograph. He’s got too much on his plate — peace and love, folks. He’s busy singing indie-soft over a collection of wannabe chart-toppers. Stuffed with disco synths and sweet, meaningless nothings, it’s hard to tell whether Y Not is a revitalizing sound for the 70-year-old former Beatle or a delayed midlife crisis. Take duet “Walk With You.” It’s an airy love song with fellow Beatle Paul shoved ignominiously into the background, muddling through predictable rhymes and gimme-an-Emmy sentimentality. After that, we’re in for a barrage of tracks like “Everyone Wins” — peacenick anthems, bizarrely set to Alanis Morissette melodies. If you can stomach that sugary stupidity, though, Ringo comes through with ZZ Top blues like “The Other Side of Liverpool.” This streetwise track is vintage blues-rock, matching down-on-your-luck lyrics with a wobbly guitar with a wailing organ. It’s a refreshing change, and you can hear Ringo’s smile as he lays down some catchy blues. The ridiculously named “Who’s Your Daddy” is a tongue-in-cheek throwback to “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.,” with soul singer Joss Stone guest-starring as the had-enough liberated woman kicking a deadbeat Starr to the curb. There are only four blues numbers, though, and Y Not sinks with Ringo’s attempt at the fame game. The clock’s ticking for the septuagenarian, and unless he cranks out more like “The Other Side,” he’d have been better off sticking with Thomas the Tank Engine. ...

The Remnants of a UK Synth-periment Go Awry

Editors In This Light and On This Evening Kitchenware Records The newest album from Brit-rockers Editors should serve as a poster child for the grim side of taking a risk, when ambition goes awry and experiments turn ugly. Perhaps seeking to deviate from their formulaic yet wildly successful UK chart-topping imitation of similarly dark alt-rock groups like Interpol and U2, In This Light and On This Evening jettisons glitzy guitar riffs for monotonous synthesizers scrubbed of the edgy pizzazz that characterized their earlier work. Lead singer Tom Smith’s lyrics, delivered in a crystal-clear drone that only heightens its banality, achieves torturous levels of incoherence on nearly all nine interminable tracks. Long stretches of bland synth-bass noodles underline both the poor editing and conspicuous underuse of guitars that made Editors’ previous two albums a pleasurable, if rather predictable, listen. The soaring emotional power present in bygone Editors classics like “Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors” and “Munich” is lacking in wannabe anthems like “You Don’t Know Love” — a static and mechanical cut that personifies everything subpar about Evening. There are a handful of bright spots, like “Papillon” — Smith’s stand-and-deliver hook paired with slickly up-tempo drums and synthesizers to make it a standout track — but these flashes of brilliance are obscured under the rest of the album’s sludge. Editors tried to change the game with Evening, but all they come up with is 45 minutes of depressing gunk. ...

Surfers Stumble out the Karaoke Bar

Surfer Blood Astro Coast Kanine Records This Florida band’s name might sound like a late-night B-movie, but the debut album from Surfer Blood is just as velvet-soft and vox-dominated as anything by the Shins or the Smiths. These indie-rockers are so new, they don’t even have a Wikipedia page (I admit it, I looked), but they’re already knee-deep in dust — covered in such a film that five minutes after you turn off your iPod, you’ve forgotten everything but a five-second lick. Linchpin of their sudden popularity “Swim” starts off with a catchy hook and Benatar-esque power chords, but the riffs start rambling halfway through, and the track drowns in distortion. The vocals echo so long, it’s like bad karaoke: The chorus is the only time we can make out the words. Astro Coast does serve up a few clean cuts, especially “Neighbour Riffs,” an instrumental with ringing guitars much like Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover.” Other than that, though, the only bright sides are “Take It Easy” and closer “Catholic Pagans.” We can hear the lyrics, but they still don’t make much sense: “Please don’t padlock/ Your parents’ bomb shelter/” It’s ridiculous, but “Easy”’s tropical toe-tapping groove mesmerizes us into not caring about even the most terrible lyrics. “Easy” and “Pagans” might get the fuzz-meter right, but they can’t save Coast. Surfer Blood did record the album in a dorm room, so a little professional mixing might make all the difference. For now, if we want to spend almost an hour wondering what’s going on, we’d be better off in the last row of o-chem. ...