For a few years, there was an amazing record store called Sound & Fury on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. They also hosted numerous live performances (some collected on a VHS tape that someone really should digitize one of these days). It was there that I saw a political hardcore band by the name of Yaphet Kotto, shortly after the release of their first album, The Killer Was in the Government Blankets.
It was a good time for political hardcore, and the bracing, tautly played songs that this four-piece played were among the best out there. This piece at Punknews makes the case that Yaphet Kotto was”the best band many of you have never heard of.” This interview was conducted at Sound & Fury with singer-guitarists Casey Watson and Mag Delena, bassist Scott Batiste, and Pat Crowley.
More albums would follow The Killer Was in the Government Blankets; there is also a Wikipedia page for the group, albeit only in French. This interview originally appeared in Eventide‘s fifth issue.
This interview with Bluetip singer/guitarist Jason Farrell was the second time we spoke for Eventide. The first had been an interview with Sweetbelly Freakdown. While the two groups shared some members, each had their own idiosyncrasies, and their own obsessions. Bluetip took a guitar-driven post-punk sound and added a pervasive air of paranoia to it. One of Farrell’s lyrics in particular — “stamps make shitty band-aids” — is about as grittily evocative as you can get. The moods created by this band are still inside my head, fifteen years later; if that isn’t a testament to what they got right, musically speaking, I don’t know what is.
These days, Farrell is currently making music as one of the members of Red Hare. This interview appeared in the fifth issue of Eventide. And if you’d like to see what the original pages look like, Dischord’s Tumblr has you covered.
I did a lot of interviews for Eventide, but only one was conducted through an exchange of letters. That was with Jason Molina, whose early work as Songs:Ohia had already caught my ear, and whose albums made after this — particularly the utterly stunning Didn’t It Rain — have rarely left my stereo. I’d been struck by Impala, Songs:Ohia’s second album — though describing exactly why I find these albums so powerful is hard to do. The best advice I can give is to listen and let the songs sink in; Molina’s songwriting has a powerfully atmospheric effect, and at its best — which it often was — it was hypnotic.
At the time that this interview was conducted, Molina was on the verge of releasing Axxess & Ace, Songs:Ohia’s third album. Molina would go on to release numerous fantastic albums through numerous projects — including Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. — before his death in early 2013.
This interview was conducted through the mail, and appeared in issue 5.