The 35th annual CMJ Music Marathon – aka everyone’s best chance to burn through their remaining sick days by year’s end – took place last week and as always, the FREEwilliamsburg team was on hand taking in the sights and, more importantly, the sounds of the five day festival. Here’s what we took away from it all, aside from raging head colds.
I stopped by Pianos the night before last to interview and catch Black Light Dinner Party’s set. After the interview I went to the stage area to catch Night Shining’s set. I’ve never heard of them before so I had no clue what to expect. I usually only film the band/bands that I initially came for. If I actually go through the effort to turn my camera on you know something dope must have went down. See for yourself. Enjoy!
From Bushwick’s grey industrial streets, rose Spanish Prisoners’ strangely uplifting sound — a perfect blend of cloudy density and pop-y guitar riffs that brings to mind The Beach Boys on the verge of a heroin overdose. But don’t be fooled by the analogy, surf rock is nowhere to be found here — rather, a heap of perfectly listless waves crash over emotionally charged yet stoic lyrics.
Spanish Prisoners “Know No Violence” off of the band’s newest release, Gold Fools, carefully careens between dreamy layered vocals and lucid instrumental precision, a habit the band luckily doesn’t kick through the entirety of the album. We got to chat with songwriter Leo Maymind and singing drummer Mike DiSanto about finding the perfect amount of reverb, the influence of drunk douchebags and New Order on the album, and how, apparently, Nas’ Illmatic is totally timeless.
Oh and did I mention we have a pair of tickets to check out Spanish Prisoners tomorrow night at Pianos with Ski Lodge, Wolff and more!? So check out the rest of the interview after the jump and leave a comment below for your chance to win and be sure to grab Gold Fools for the current price of whatever you want to pay for it.
First and foremost, where does the name Spanish Prisoners come from?
Leo Maymind: The name came from the David Mamet film “the Spanish Prisoner,” which I think is a classic con-artist movie. Mamet kind of has a cult following. I’m not even sure the rest of the band has seen it.
Mike DiSanto: I haven’t seen it and people always seem vaguely disappointed in me when I tell them that.
Leo Maymind: We’ve been talking about setting up a movie night and all watching it, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Tell me a little about the writing process of Gold Fools. How does it differ from the band’s previous releases?
M: The writing process was very much the same as the recording and mixing process. It was all kind of happening at the same time as Leo and I would pass tracks back and forth with a pile of USB keys. I bought a new keyboard at the time and every time Leo gave me a song he was working on I would delete some of his tracks and recreate them with the keyboard, which was maybe a little annoying but I regret nothing.
L: Mike would also incrementally decrease the level of reverb without telling me. And then I would just increase it even more the next time around, hoping he wouldn’t notice. So it was mostly this long process of just sending things back and forth and sort of carving out something that was pleasing to the two of us and our other two bandmates. Suffice to say it took a pretty long time to arrive where we are now.
M: That’s true, at least 40% of our discussions on the album involved reverb.
L: It was more like 70-80%. We would start talking about reverb and end up talking about New Order for an hour.
You don’t need to be a rock pianist or classically trained musician to tickle the ivories in public this summer.
For the second year running Sing for Hope is setting up “pop-up” pianos around the five boroughs for your playing delight. Beginning this Saturday the pianos will be placed in various locations around the city, with over 20 stationed in and around Brooklyn, from Williamsburg to Coney Island. As part of this interactive art installation, each piano will be decked out by everyone from designer Issac Mizrahi to crochet artist Olek.
The instruments are free for public use from June 18–July 2, so get ready to hear numerous amateur renditions of Chopsticks. Maybe some Heart & Soul if you’re lucky.
Oh, and if anyone is taking requests, some Regina Spektor would be nice:
Tonight will be host to the final night of Zambri’s April residency at Pianos and we expect you all there to party with us!
Check out the FREEwilly curated lineup below and start dreaming about those frozen margaritas because there’s no better way to celebrate this muggy weather than with a frozen cocktail and the musical styling of some hot ladies!
8 PM Rarechild
9 PM Beige
10 PM Zambri
11 PM millionyoung
Bear in Heaven DJ set
And if you’re feeling extra lucky, comment below for your chance to win a pair of tickets to tonight’s show… or, just buy the $8 tix here. And grab a free download of Zambri’s EP, On Call — artwork seen left, right over here.
Starting in February, Todd Goldstein’s ARMS will be taking up residence at Piano’s. Every Wednesday, they will be joined by different guests (including someone super secret on February 23!). Check out all dates and lineups below.