Marmalakesare one of the many talented artists thatwill be playing at this year’s Mr. Fest! This folk-pop trio hails from Austin, Texas and has thus far released two EPs and one 7-inch split. The first of the EPs was released in July of 2010 and is entitled “Wonder Winds”. The second is entitled, “Even Clothed” and was released in February of this year! They are very passionate developing musicians. Marmalakes have put a lot of focus into their enthusiastic and positive lyrics which makes listening to their music like being told a story.
This draws you in even more and when you see them live you feel a strong connection with the artists’ emotions. It becomes more of an experience with the band and the audience rather than just viewing a performance. Max Colonna (bass and vocals), Josh Halpern (drums and vocals), and Chase Welnacht (guitar and vocals) have been playing together for 4 years now and have a very bright future ahead of them. They have 2 upcoming live shows, on the Shearwater tour, at Antones in Austin and at the Fitzgerald’s in Houston. Come out and see them at Mr. Fest 2012 in the square April 26-28!! Get the Marmalakes Experience!
Those Nights, based out of San Marcos, was created June of 2010, by Evan Styles and Chris Balcom, former band mates of the Earle Brown Band, and Lindsay James former band mate of Olive Street. The title, “Those Nights,” was based off a line in a song Chris Balcom wrote, “we liked the idea of it being based off a memory, a feeling,” said Styles. Eager to have their music heard, this trio put themselves in the middle of one of the biggest festivals in Austin.“Our first moment as ‘Those Nights’ was on a street at South by Southwest last year in Austin,” said Styles. Little did they know their trio was about to expand.
“I just got done playing a gig and was walking by Those Nights with my trombone, and tagged along to see if this science project would work, and it never stopped,” said Pete Martin, who later joined the band in September of 2011. Pete relocated to Texas three years ago and was familiar with Those Nights, “I was a big fan for almost a year. I sometimes opened for them.” For Pete, having the opportunity to play for Those Nights was due to a twist of fate, “It was really crazy how I met Lindsay, my keyboardist from Pennsylvania used to room with a good friend of Lindsay, so he was a direct line to the band. When you get odds like that you play the lottery.” Later, the band acquired their final band mate, Ephraim Wickline, a cellist, and a student at Texas State. Together this band delivers catchy hooks that resonate in your ears, vocals that captivates you, and sounds that get your feet tapping.
Proof that this band is talented they recently won the ‘Expose The Arts’ at Tantra Coffeehouse. The prize was 5 free songs to go towards a recording album. In April, Those Nights will be working on their first new full length album set to release this summer of 2012. Their album is being recorded at Greyskull Productions. Needless to say, Those Nights is heading in the right direction, UP!
“We might not get that stadium tomorrow, we may never get that stadium, but our music is out there.”~ Pete
After playing in various bands throughout his life, Jesse Beaman began looping the guitar, piano, and drums to form the one-man band, My Empty Phantom.Before 2005, the Austin, Texas based artists played in a band with two of his friends until they quit. “I named the project and just kind of went with it,” he said. My Empty Phantom combines the sounds of a classically influenced piano, rock and roll sounding drums and an ambient guitar. Since he began touring solo in 2008, My Empty Phantom has played with several other prestigious acts such as Cocorosie and the MR Fest headliner, White Denim. After releasing his self-titled full-length album, Beaman kicked off his current tour on January 28 where he is touring throughout much of the west coast. My Empty Phantom will return to Texas to play two South by Southwest showcases before venturing to Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium.
Beaman moved to Austin, Texas at the age of 18 with no intention of playing music. Young and lost, he was working at the Alamo Draft house and painting constantly before he fell into the Austin music scene. “Now I feel very comfortable of something for a while,” he said about his current project. The name My Empty Phantom was presented to Beaman when he first moved to Austin and was in a dark state of mind. “I felt a little distant from everything and somewhat empty,” he said. “I don’t consider it so much a band name, but more of a title to my music.” Though his music doesn’t contain lyrics, it expresses much of what he is feeling and experiencing. “I don’t really have anything catchy or witty, it’s just me expressing myself from things I’ve heard or seen,” Beaman said. My Empty Phantom is partially influenced by Beaman’s every day life, people he’s met on tour, and the band Sigur Ros.
Photo by Sarah Welch
As far as future plans for the one-act project, Beaman said he plans to add other musicians to his music. “I’m ready to start playing shows with a band sometimes, and then switch it up and play alone,” he said. He is also reaching out to play shows around the world. If there is anything Beaman wants to go through people’s minds when they see My Empty Phantom live, it’s that he wants everyone to get along. “I don’t like conflict or people going out of their way to make problems,” he said. With the combination of sounds in his looping process, Beaman intends to reach out to people of all music tastes. “I’m just up there making music, so people can choose to watch me or not,” he said. “I love playing shows and making music and the feeling that happens when I’m making it. It’s like a spiritual journey.”
When avant-garde artist Morgan Sorne sought an ultra-conducive location to nurture his varied mediums of creativity, he gravitated toward Texas. Now Austin based since 2007, the Tallahassee transplant is locally recognized for his indigenous panache regarding visual art, music, poetry, and performance. In tandem with establishing himself in a new city, grew an existing ardor for creating music. Consequently, Sorne the band materialized with the help of Kevin Naquin and Dean Cote. In the realm of comparisons, critics deem the band similar to acts like TV on the Radio (whom they opened for in 2011), Bjork, and Nine Inch Nails among countless others. The heart of the band is rooted within a folklore-esque narrative conceived by the artist years ago. The story chronicles the lives of five siblings after their father’s death in what seems like a post-apocalyptic scenario. House of Stone, Sorne’s debut release, is essentially a 13-track synopsis linking each character’s story to another’s.
The album is an ambitious effort, littered with mystical chants, harmonious vocals, and endless tribal elements. Sorne uses resourceful devices as only an artist would to create the band’s haunting style. The inventive instruments include pots, pans, a stretched canvas, and a kazoo to name a few. Forthcoming installments, each epitomizing a respective sibling, are purportedly in the making. Insular listeners could be turned off by the sometimes monotonous structure of a few tracks, save for more dynamic songs like “Second Sun” and “Omnipotent”, but that’s because House of Stone is aproduction that must be experienced live. I think Thursday night’s crowd attending the SATX showcase at Boneshakers in San Antonio would concur.
Before the show, mastermind Sorne sat at the back of the venue in what he called “a disguise” – a trucker cap and glasses. Mild mannered and unassuming, I couldn’t have predicted the captivating performance to come. Five life-size figures of children dressed in ethnic garb, created by Sorne, were set in front of the stage: Black Sister, Little Brother, First Born, Second Son, and Blue Sister. They transformed the casual environment of the venue into a spiritual aura that felt like we had stepped into the artist’s own, intimate meditation. Using only samples and percussion, their live sound far surpasses the album. Sorne’s flawless vocals are almost beyond belief, with a pure quality to them rarely encountered with local musicians. His voice ranges from the depths of Antony Hegarty to the ethereal timbre of CocoRosie right in front of your eyes, attesting to his mother’s background of opera singing. Watching them was reminiscent of Bjork’s album Volta (in which she collaborated with Hegarty) with DIY garments adorned in a tribal fashion and their own form of ritualistic dancing. Before performing the song “Omnipotent”, Sorne divided concert-goers into two teams facing each other instead of the stage, assigning each with a part of the chorus. The plan went without a hitch, as each side was eager to outshine the other.
There is something that is charmingly humble about Sorne despite his unconventional approach to anything he touches. Maybe it’s the way he claps for the audience after each song, perhaps it’s the way he beams at the sight of a fan singing along, or how he genuinely wants to include the audience. He is uninhibited on stage, with raw emotion seeping through his pores. Even if you’re not a fan of his experimental aesthetics, Sorne puts his all into everything he does and how can you not respect that? If you are one of the multitudes of music fans attending SXSW this year, you be the judge. Rumor has it that the band will be premiering the film adaptation of House of Stone at the event, along with musical performances to look out for in the following days.
Music has played an immense role in the life of Roger Sellers from the time he was a small child. “The exact thing that sparked it was watching Eric Clapton Unplugged when I was two years old. I just became obsessed with it. I would watch it all day, when I was really little. Since then, it just exploded,” Sellers recalls, “I used to set up paint cans and pretend that I was playing the drums.” He’s attended music programs at a couple of schools in the past but is almost entirely self taught and insists on writing, recording, mixing and mastering everything he releases. Well versed in many instruments, his live shows vary from electronic sets to solo acoustic sets and even a full band when everyone he plays with has the time to come together.
Photo by Jake Marx
Last year, Sellers released his second album titled Moments which just last month made Chase Hoffberger’s top ten list of 2011 in The Austin Chronicle. Almost immediately after the time consuming difficulty of mastering the entire album himself, Sellers received an extremely rewarding phone call. Moments will be released on clear white vinyl in a few short weeks by Pau Wau Records. “I was very lucky to be able to do that. That’s seriously a small dream come true for me. I’ve always wanted to have a vinyl, but it’s so expensive to produce, it’s insane,” Sellers explains, “It feels so good. You can see the grooves and that’s your music in that groove. Really, it’s a good feeling.” He’s hoping to have the record ready in time for SXSW. His discography also includes two albums from 2010, Roger Sellers and I Lost my Job Today.
Photo by Jake Marx
Sellers also toured twice last year and is already setting up dates for the coming months. The Chicago show last summer was a particularly memorable experience for him, “It was a good show. People were attentive and quiet. We were on the top of this building in Chicago and it was nuts.” Though playing on the road in general is something he learned he enjoys. “After about a week, home just starts becoming an illusion and you just want to sleep anywhere you possibly can. You’re around a bunch of stinky guys and everything’s all gross but there’s something incredibly fulfilling about it. Even if you have a horrible show one night, you leave and you’ve got a whole new city the next night. Fresh ears… it feels really good, there’s no doubt about that,” Sellers says. Touring and selling his record are going to be his main focus for the remainder of 2012.
Photo by Steven Wright
Scoring film is also an avenue Sellers has recently gone down and would like to continue. In 2010 Jack Daniel Stanley wrote and directed the film Depth of Phil which features original music by Sellers. It made appearances at Alamo Drafthouse and the SXSW and Sundance Film Festivals. “It’s tedious hard, hard work but it pays off in the heart, when you get to see it,” Sellers expresses, “I’ve always wanted to make film and I just don’t have that talent. I love film.” The dedicated musician has also done scores for a few smaller projects and thoroughly enjoys the process, “It’s a beautiful thing collaborating with somebody,” Sellers says smiling.
Exploding out of the Austin, Texas music scene is indie-rock band, Little Radar. Since the release of their 3 track EP, Kill A Buffalo, Little Radar has received an immense amount of recognition, and have been performing packed out shows all across Austin music venues. “They’ve got such a solid set and such an impressive live show that chances are, they’ll be in higher demand in no time. Bet on it,” says Sara, local fan and friend of the band.
Little Radar came together a little over a year ago with members Sean Hale (vocals), Trevor Hale (guitar), Grant Himmler (bass), and Derek Woodruff (drums). Music journalist, Caitlin Wittlif says, “Grant Himmler is an incredibly exciting bassist, with fingers flying and head bopping consistently through the band’s performance.”
Kill A Buffalo displays the artistic musical talent of each member of Little Radar, and is a fitting debut showcasing the diversity of the band’s sound. An excerpt from the Austin Cut states, “Show, after show, after show, Little Radar (Austin) demonstrate why they’re solely responsible for turning the Austin indie scene into the bonfire of sexuality it has become.” Little Radar’s response was, “If that ain’t a compliment, I don’t know what is.”
This EPexhibits Little Radar’s progressing creativity, and introduces the band’s penchant for dramatic effect. Kill A Buffalo, having been recorded in a living room, adds an interesting and organic quality to the work. This quartet has serious potential, KUT recently named “Birds” song of the day, and writer Paul Carrubba states, “sooner or later Little Radar probably won’t be so little anymore.”
You can experience Little Radar’s exciting live performance at MR. FEST April 26-28.
Booth is a singer-songwriter born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 21-year-old is a senior at Texas State University, majoring in communication studies with a double minor in mass communication and music. Booth performs both as a folk-pop soloist and in a pop-rock band. Booth consists of Levi Hanusch, Jacob Riddle, Austin Morrow, and Josh Heinlein. Booth plays acoustic and electric guitar, Morrow plays bass and backup vocals, Hanusch plays drums, Riddle plays electric guitar and Heinlein plays keys, synth, loop, electric guitar and back-up vocals. Booth grew up listening to John Mayor, Dave Mathews, Cartel, All American Rejects, and Eric Clapton. He has been performing as a worship leader in church since he was 16, and has been pushing his own music for a year and a half. He won the Texas State University Talent show, which is how he was discovered for MR Fest, and has played at several music festivals.
Booth, his first EP, was released on 11/11/11, which includes songs “Waiting on You”, “Plans”, “What Lies Ahead”, “The Chase” and “To Whom it May Concern”. Four days after its release, iTunes featured the album as New and Noteworthy under the Singer/Songwriter section. Booth wrote the music on his EP as he overcame many obstacles in his life. “I was dating a girl for awhile, and I realized that if I was going to marry her I would have to give up my career at some point,” Booth said. “So I broke up with her, and she started dating someone else. Then my niece was diagnosed with cancer. So naturally, I went into a pit of depression.” His talent was discovered just as he was contemplating on moving out of the country. “I thought that I should move off to England and finish school there,” Booth said. “Then Gray Gregson, over at Texas Music Theater, heard me play at a random open mic that he was driving by. He decided to stop and he heard me and told me that I have a lot of potential and talent. He told me he wanted to work with me and develop me.”
Shortly after he was discovered, he began producing his music. “Two days later, I met my producer, Matt Noveskey, bass player of Blue October, and he wanted to work with me,” Booth said. “I initially couldn’t do it with him because I couldn’t afford to pay him right away. He called me back and told me he’d move the deadline because he really wanted to work with me.” Booth is working on getting lined up with C3 Productions and working on getting a tour together. He will also be going to Africa for one month in the summer. His goal as a musician is to play Stubbs Outdoor in Austin, have 2,000 people in his audience, get his music on the radio, television, and a movie, and open up for a major artist.
Live fast, die radder. For some of the members of the Austin-based rock n’ roll band Neon Cobra this motto is a permanent way of life, literally. After much debate, Neon Cobra guitarist Jason “Bad News” Plummer talked his roommate drummer Nick “Tickles” Payne into getting matching tattoos that read, ‘Live fast, die radder.’ “(Payne) said he was gonna get ‘Live rad, die fast,’ and I was like, ‘Well, that’s cool, but if you’re gonna do that, why don’t we just live rad and die radder?,’” Plummer said. Plummer said the motto stemmed from his belief that people should want to die “radder” than they live, such as drive a flaming car off an overpass. He said Neon Cobra lead vocalist Jason “Thunder” Walters and bassist Andy “Hammerpants” Hogan were recently inducted into the “Live rad, die radder” club and as soon as they have enough money will get matching tattoos.
Plummer’s six snakes and an affinity for fluorescence inspired the band’s name. Which, Walters said is fitting because the band is “larger-than-life in every respect.” The chain-smoking band members of Neon Cobra joined forces in a similar vein to the characters of the hit television series Power Rangers. That is, if the Power Rangers had Facebook. Walters replied to a Facebook status update posted by Payne that read: “We need a singer. Tell me if you want to sing and I’ll send you the songs.” He admitted that his response was “really cocky” because of his inexperience as a lead vocalist. Since former frontman of Skid Row Sebastian Bach and lead vocalist for Guns N’ Roses Axl Rose were not available, Plummer said Walters got the gig. However, if Sebastian or Axl does decide to call Plummer back, Walters will be replaced. After playing in numerous bands, one in particular with Walters, who he knew as a high school student in Wisconsin, Hogan replaced Neon Cobra’s previous bassist after the band’s first live performance at the Red Eyed Fly in Austin. “I knew all the words and I wasn’t even in the band,” Hogan said. The members of Neon Cobra agree that the band’s sound has since improved with the addition of Hogan.
A performance the band remembered fondly occurred one year after that fateful first gig at the Red Eyed Fly. Plummer was excited to report that Walters wore yellow underwear during the band’s performance on Halloween last year. He said if people do not believe him they can find proof on Walters’s Facebook. Walters’s wrestler persona began after he dropped out of college to pursue the sport professionally. He said he trained for a year and wrestled professionally for three years throughout Wisconsin. “When I say wrestler, I mean, like, spandex and pretending to beat guys up kind of wrestler,” he said. After crying a few times and sweating and vomiting a lot, Walters’s stint as a professional wrestler ended after he joined a band. He said he chose the band over wrestling because it hurt less and he made more money. He later joined Neon Cobra and has translated his experience as a professional wrestler in the ring to the stage. “You play a character on stage,” Walters said. “You take your own personality and amplify it; it’s an extension of yourself, although, I don’t punch people on stage.” Punching aside, Walters said audience goers have either been in awe or are speechless after a Neon Cobra performance because of the members’ outlandish antics. Plummer and Walters have even swapped a bloody kiss on stage; after Walters hit his head on Payne’s drum set cymbals.
The band’s performance at Triple Crown with San Marcos-based band Buzz N’ Bangs got them noticed by a KTSW representative, who asked if they would like to perform at this year’s MR Fest. Walters said he immediately agreed, even though he had not previously heard of the festival and did not consult the other band members about his decision. However, when they later found out about the performance, they were equally as excited. “We’re just happy to be there,” Plummer said. Walters’s roommate will also be performing at this year’s KTSW MR Fest with the Austin-based band Oh Look Out. He said he hopes Neon Cobra will be playing in a venue nearby his roommate’s band so they can watch each other perform. Neon Cobra will also be performing at several shows during this year’s SXSW and is working on new music.
“If they have 45 minutes of time during the (KTSW MR Fest) festivities, they owe it to themselves to come see NC because it’s gonna be really fun,” Walters said. “We’re going to have some tricks up our sleeves. And after this interview we’re gonna figure out what those tricks are.”