Posts Tagged ‘Floater’

One thing you can honestly say about attending a Floater show – it is never dull!  And don’t make the mistake of equating “acoustic” with “quiet” or “dull.”  I don’t think it would be possible for these guys to be any of that.  As Floater’s soundman, Dan, says, “Even their acoustic shows become rock shows!”  As well, the fans attending exude their own raw, uncontained energy as they bounce, dance, and sing along with every song.  This Eugene-born band has a dedicated fanbase here that transcends the boundaries of age and style:  babies were held in the arms of the communal family alongside older folks, who followed their own unique groove to the music.  Every time I see this band it is fresh and new!

Of course, having the chance to catch them for a live video interview after the show was unforgettable (video of “Capturing The Afterglow” – Floater Live Interview, July 22, 2011 is in post-production and should be published soon).  While the entire interview was way too much fun (which included pop-in appearances by Robert Meade who opened for them tonight, as well as various folks performing after-show tasks), I especially enjoyed hearing Rob’s story about how they decided on the name “Floater” for the band, and his description of some of the weirdest things fans have tossed onto the stage during a live performance (which included underwear – I did not ask them what condition those items were in!  and various forms of drugs).  They finally agreed that the 14-page anonymous essay of one fan’s interpretations of the meanings of certain song lyrics topped their list as downright creepy!

I always notice how folks who attend these shows seem to know how to organize the floor:  the front half closest to the stage will always be packed with folks getting up close and personal with the band, while the back half of the floor is filled with people dancing with joy and abandon.

They played two sets (the last being a very extended set, ending well after midnight).  For the first set, Rob made his entrance from the green room with bass guitar in hand, strumming his way through the crowd as they gawked and pointed and cheered.  Peter and Dave wove their own separate paths through the audience to where they all met on the stage.  It was a singular beginning to a unique show.

Pete’s drums in this acoustic set, utilizing a mix of standard kit with tribal accent percussion, created an intricate web for the guitars to play with as they dipped in and out like swallows swooping over the water.  Rob’s vocals when he sings a low melody line are so haunting that, when the guitars break out into hard rock riffs it almost catches you by surprise… almost!  I’ve also always admired their time signature and tempo changes through the songs, which were superbly executed.  They have such an amazing rapport with the audience – if you have never been to see these guys live, I can’t describe it well enough to give it justice.  If you have seen them live, either acoustic or electric, I don’t need to try to describe it, do I?

And having a floating wood floor for a Floater live concert only adds to the experience!

Another one of my favorite things about their music (yes, I have a lot of favorite things about this band!) is Rob’s lyrics – they could easily stand alone as poetry.  The music simply adds its own beautiful artistry.

Their vocal harmonies (all three of them sing on many of the songs) are perfectly performed, and Dave’s dancing melody lines on lead guitar are more exquisite every time I see them play.  And their instrumental jams are spectacular – each of them stunning.

Of special note for me were the covers they did (only three of them – they have no need for filler as they have more original material than they could possibly put into even a three-set show!).  Each was chosen either because it worked especially well in an acoustic venue, or just because they have so much fun sharing them with their audience.  Rob’s drumstick-tapping opening (joining with Dave on drums) for their cover of the Beatles’ “Magic Bus” was perfect, and of course this cover became Floater’s own funk version as only they could do it:  reggae-popping, the audience bopping along with the guys on stage.  It was awesome!  They segued from there to their original “Hollywood” with a flawless transition.

Setlist – First Set:  Come See Everything, On The Table, Golden Age, Time Marches, Diamond, Magic Bus (cover), Hollywood, Strychnine, Exiled.

Peter opened the second set doing a solo mini-set on acoustic guitar.  An accomplished vocalist and guitarist in his own right, you probably want to look for some solo album work by him – it would be well worth your time.

An acoustic set venue gives them a chance to put a new spin on some old favorites – Rob’s acoustic guitar work sounded almost like a Spanish guitar on many of the pieces.  The second set included their cover of the Police’s “Walking On The Moon” which they put a full reggae spin on (and it so fits that song!) segueing into yet another original, “Bound For Glory.”  And of course they did Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” which is obviously an audience favorite as well as their own – Rob’s intro included mention of just how much fun they have playing it, with his hope that the audience would love it as much.  I don’t want to try to judge that competition – we’ll call it a draw, I think it was a mutual party!  Everyone was on the floor dancing and singing for that one except for yours truly, being the dutiful writer/reviewer that I am.  Don’t worry tho, I am an expert chair dancer while taking notes!

I’ve mentioned before in previous reviews how much I also enjoy how they build layers.  While these are more distinct in a non-acoustic live performance, the layers are definitely still there when they play this type of venue.  Their energy is certainly never less – it is just more contained and concentrated.  I think Rob puts it best when he calls it “focused.”

I thought for sure they were going to close the second set with “Let It Go” and I suspect they considered that as well based on the set list copies they gave me (thanks Rob and Pete!), but you can’t close the party down in full swing (regardless of the time) – right?  They went on to play two additional songs, and finally brought the show to a climactic close.

Setlist – Second Set:  Weary Head, Endless I, Accepted, Walking On The Moon (cover), Bound For Glory, Personal Jesus (cover), Black Sheep, Alone, Let It Go, Seconds, Weightless.

They were gracious and amusing, loving and astounding.  Again, an awesome performance by Eugene’s own Floater – find their webpage here for additional info on bio, discography, tour dates, and more: http://www.floater.com.  And remember to mark your calendars for their next Eugene appearance!

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Cage The Elephant (Photo Credit: Sandy Kim)

Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant performs at Vic Theatre on March 4, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Lyle A. Waisman/Getty Images)

NRQ’s 97 Days of Summer 2011 Concert Series kicks off with Cage The Elephant headlining at the McDonald Theatre on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, with Manchester Orchestra opening the show.  Guitarist Brad Schultz (co-founder and brother of front man Matt Schultz) took some time prior to their June 3 show at the Santa Barbara Amphitheatre to chat with me (by phone) to talk about the current tour (promoting their sophomore album, “Thank You, Happy Birthday”), how they got started, and to share some personal stories.

Brad:    hello?

TCC:    Brad, hey, how’s it goin?

Brad:    Good, how are you?

TCC:    I’m excellent, it’s actually sunny here in Eugene for the first time in a month!

Brad:    [laughs] You’ve got the UK weather?

TCC:    Yeah, just more so – think Seattle, but without all the fun stuff going on… you guys will be the highlight of the month when you come in on the 7th.

Brad:    Well, thank you so much!

TCC:    We’re really looking forward to it, and I want to tell you thank you, very much, for doing the phone interview, and I am recording…

Brad:    Well good, thank you so much for doing it with me.

TCC:    Not a problem! I don’t often get to talk to the rhythm guitarists, you guys just end up fading into the background somewhere…

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    This actually will be kind of nice, we get a unique perspective, because usually, your bro Matt (lead singer/front man Matt Shultz) is, you know, the guy that gets to answer all the fun questions, right?

Brad:    Yeah, but you know, I usually just take care of all the important stuff.

TCC:    ahh, ok, well see?

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    No, I knew that, I knew that…

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    So, I just have a couple of questions, I’m hoping that I’ll have some questions for you that maybe nobody’s asked before, and I’ll ask you towards the end if there’s anything that I’ve missed.

Brad:    Alright…

TCC:    How old were you when you first started playing music?

Brad:    Hmm, well me and Matt, basically, always played from the time we were children, basically twelve and up.  I bought a guitar from a friend in my neighborhood for like $25…

TCC:    ahhh, fun…

Brad:    Yeah, it was like an old junkie classical guitar…

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    and funny enough, we actually grew up really poor, we were in kind of a larger-scale kind of government housing neighborhood.  And for some reason, we liked to dumpster-dive when we were kids…

TCC:    [laughs] go figure, right?

Brad:    And so we pulled a drum set out of the trash one time…

TCC:    oh my God…

Brad:    like an old beat up drum set…

TCC:    Right…

Brad:    Matt actually started out as, you know, we set the drum sets up in, you know, some janky way or whatever…

TCC:    [chuckles]

Brad:    and Matt was actually the drummer, I played guitar…

TCC:    oh my God, that must have been real interesting to hear you guys, those first little sessions, hmmm?

Brad:    oh God… probably unlistenable…

TCC:    [laughs]  Well, I guess it depends on that unique perspective, right?

Brad:    hmmm, well, yeah, I guess you could do the whole anti-art thing, where any object can be art…

TCC:    exactly…

Brad:    so I guess, if you look at it that way… our horrible music, in some perspective, might have been art…

TCC:    [laughs]  well, I’m trying to allow for the possibility that, in somebody’s view, it would have been amazing, so…

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    You guys thought you were amazing, right?

Brad:    hmmm, I don’t know, we were just having fun, you know…

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    we were just basically beating the crap out of my guitar and the drums…

TCC:    that sounds like fun, yes…

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    I think that’s what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re twelve anyways?

Brad:    yeah…

TCC:    Yeah!

Brad:    Our mom was sitting in the living room with a bullet and a gun…

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    and she was… [laughs] nah…

TCC:    You’re kidding, you’re kidding, I know.

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    So you basically always wanted to play music.  What, if you weren’t a musician, what kind of work would you be doing?

Brad:    hmmm, who knows?  I bounced around to so many jobs… hmmm, our band has done everything from telemarketing… to plumbing, to… we worked at pizza places, whole bunch of pizza places…

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    yeah, we’ve ahhh, we definitely went through… so I’m not sure exactly what kind of, probably some other dead-end job…

TCC:    [laughs] besides being a musician, right? No…

Brad:    [laughs] yeah yeah, exactly…

TCC:    I saw you guys when you went through Eugene in 2009, when you were opening, with Manchester (Orchestra), for Silversun Pickups…

Brad:    uh huh…

TCC:    So this will be your second time around, through Eugene, at the McDonald Theatre…

Brad:    It’s the third time, actually…

TCC:    Is it really?

Brad:    Yeah, because we played, hmmm, we played the place that we’re playing right now, with Silversun, and then there was one other time that we did a PETA event, like raising money for animals and stuff…

TCC:    Right…

Brad:    and it was like an outdoor thing, so it was our… So we came through twice, but hmm…

TCC:    Well, at the McDonald, at the McDonald Theatre…

Brad:    but it’s so cool because every thing feels so local…

TCC:    yep, yeah

Brad:    I think that’s a lot, you know, a lot of cities get lost in, you know, just big corporations and stuff.  So Eugene seems like its been able to harness something pretty unique and pretty neat.

TCC:    Well, we have, its a university town, so you’re gonna have that kinda energy going anyways, but then you’ve got a whole, you know, professional section so… you, I know you guys have seen all sorts of people in the audiences, when you go to shows… you’ll see, you’ll remember Eugene…

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    It’s a real mixed crowd… [laughs]

Brad:    yeah…

TCC:    [laughs] What is different about being the headlining band, as opposed to being one of the opening bands?

Brad:    hmm, I mean, I think, it’s just good because the crowds are there to actually see you.  You know, being an opener, you always have that, you have that sense that you almost have to win people over?

TCC:    Right…

Brad:    um, so I think it’s just more, for the band, its more of a relaxed environment as far as just, you know, going on stage and playing a show and not having to worry about anything or being self-conscious about anything…

TCC:    Yep, that sounds…

Brad:    You know, and usually the crowd kicks off, you know, a lot faster, so… We tend to feed off the energy of the crowd so, you know, I don’t know if there’s a huge difference but… the big thing about this tour is that we’re doing, headlining, with Manchester, and so, you know, both of our bands, honestly, going into it we were both like, “oh crap..”

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    …maybe the crowd doesn’t, whatever… it’s been, you know, we just can’t stop talking about how much, you know, how great the response has been on both sides.  So…

TCC:    oh yeah…

Brad:    It’s been amazing to be able to do this, this headlining tour with some of our great friends…

TCC:    Yep, yep…  If you could share the stage with anybody, alive or dead, who would it be?

Brad:    oh God… can I put together a band, and I’ll be the guitar player?

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    hmm, Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix) on drums… Andy Gill, from Gang Of Four, on guitar… I’ll do the other guitar of course…

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    and then probably, probably Paul McCartney on bass…  and, we gotta put, we’ll put John Paul Jones on keys…

TCC:    oh, nice!

Brad:    you know, and then, the singer would have to be Lou Reed…

TCC:    oh, wow, okay!

Brad:    [laughs] That would be a f**ked up band…

TCC:    [laughs] it would be… [laughs] But it would definitely be one of the most unique-sounds that anybody’s ever heard…

Brad:    [laughs]

TCC:    Something like Cage, right?

Brad:    [laughs] oh God, I wish… to be paired with those names, I… that’s probably a bigger test than I’m in for…

TCC:    [laughs]  What keeps you guys sane when you’re on the road?

Brad:    Keeps us sane? uh…

TCC:    Sane, or are you?

Brad:    Who knows? You know, friends… well like, our whole, our whole kind of touring concept is like a big family, you know?  And so we have like eleven people on our bus, like wives, girlfriends, freakin, you know buddies of ours will jump on tour with us… so, I don’t know, just having it, you know, just trying to keep some normalcy to everything…

TCC:    [laughs] got it, got it. Now when your first album was released back in 2009, it got some kind of mixed reviews.  What was it that kept you guys going, kept the faith and you didn’t want to give up… what was it that made…

Brad:    I mean, we’ve always, you know, regardless of whether we were going to be doing this on a day-to-day basis or whatever, we’re still gonna write songs because that’s what we enjoy to do.  And I think we have a passion, first and foremost, to be songwriters, and to always grow and better ourselves as songwriters.  So, you know, even some of the mixed reviews, the ones that I really, you know, that really bother me are the ones when people blatantly are out just to get the band…

TCC:    Right.

Brad:    You know?

TCC:    Right.

Brad:    And they make outlandish, you know, comparisons or whatever…

TCC:    [laughs]

Brad:    But you know, as far as people liking music and not liking it, I’ve always, you know, everybody has their different tastes and so… you’re never gonna, you know, whether people like your music or not, I’m still gonna write, we’re still gonna write music, you know?

TCC:    Good!

Brad:    And so, you know, we were just, felt really blessed that we have, some people did like our music… you know, and we’re smart enough people to know that, we look back and we want to better ourselves as songwriters.  So you know, we can look back and there are, you know, there’s imperfections and I think we’ll find imperfections in every album that we do.  But I think that’s part of the beauty of everything is, you know, seeing the growth and seeing where you were at that point in time.

TCC:    Exactly, exactly.

Brad:    And so you know, really, the mixed reviews and that, the kills like that, the more, the thing that we went through is a struggle of, you know, like either sticking to a sound that we thought was Cage The Elephant, or whatever it was…

TCC:    mmhmm…

Brad:    Or doing what we felt really passionate about and just changing it all up and just writing songs, and I think that’s how we, that we grew, on the second album, is that we just, there was no particular sound that we were going for, we just wrote the songs, we developed the songs the best that we possibly could, and then, you know, the ones that we really loved we put on the album, the ones we thought were weaker songs we didn’t.

TCC:    Right.

Brad:    Instead of, you know, analyzing, going like, “oh, is that Cage The Elephant?” You know, “Does that fit our sound?”   We just kind of had this really, you know, this light bulb go off above our heads, like “Wow!  We are five people who are in a band who write songs.”  And so, whatever songs we write is Cage The Elephant.

TCC:    Excellent.

Brad:    So it doesn’t have to be, you know what I’m saying?

TCC:    I do, actually.  If you could go back and undo or redo anything, would you? And what would it be?

Brad:    Nah, I don’t think, I don’t think so. Because I think everything that happened, you know, brought us to where we are right now.

TCC:    Yep.  You know, that’s my point of view, but I know not everybody shares it, so I like asking that question. [laughs]

Brad:    Oh no, it’s all good.  I mean, it’s, you know, it’s just like, you could change some minute thing and it alters everything.

TCC:    Exactly, exactly.

Brad:    So, you know, the tough time sucked.  It really did.  When we went through some really dark, depressing days, but, hmm, you know, it brought, it shaped us a little bit, and it built some character and some other things…

TCC:    Well, honestly, you wouldn’t, yeah, you wouldn’t be who you are if you hadn’t gone through what you did. So…

Brad:    No.

TCC:    And I think that most people, just as a general rule, kinda like you guys now.  So I think you’re good with that.

Brad:    [laughs]  We’ll see.  We were never the cool kids anyways…

TCC:    ahhh, that’s okay…

Brad:    I got, in elementary school I got called “poor boy” all the time, so it’s all good… [laughs]

TCC:    [laughs] sure, sure… that’s a standard kinda thing…

Brad:    You can take off all you want on that… [laughs]

TCC:    [chuckles] So, I’ve seen a couple different stories about how you guys came up with the name, “Cage The Elephant,” there was one about a fortune teller, there was one about some crazy guy with a goatee… Are either of them true?  Which one’s true?

Brad:    yeah, that’s the true one…THAT one.

TCC:    The goatee one?

Brad:    yeah… [laughs]

TCC:    okay… alright… I… You know, inquiring minds want to know… I dunno, I kinda like the fortune teller story myself, but… [laughs]

Brad:    [laughs] wait, wait… to be honest…

TCC:    Yes….

Brad:    Well, I don’t know if we’ve ever told the truth, so I think we’ll keep it that way… [laughs]

TCC:    Alright, that sounds, I was gonna say, are you sure you wanna do that now? [laughs]

Brad:    [laughs] No, everything that we’ve said is true. [laughs]

TCC:    okay –  I’ll quote you on that, as a matter of fact…  Hmm, you’ve done a lot of personal interviews – what question would you wish somebody would finally ask you?

Brad:    [pause]  …boxers or briefs… No… [laughs]

TCC:    [laughs] I like that one…

Brad:    I don’t know… I like spontaneous questions, so if I thought one up, then it wouldn’t be spontaneous…

TCC:    That’s also true…  Now, you’re a little bit familiar with Eugene… We have a really pretty serious music scene here, with a lot of bands that are trying to become themselves and try to make, you know, some kind of position in the industry…

Brad:    The best band in the world is from Portland.

TCC:    Who would that be?

Brad:    Morning Teleportation.

TCC:    Don’t know them…  do you know who Floater is?

Brad:    No, I’ll have to check that out…

TCC:    okay, they started in Eugene…

Brad:    oh really?

TCC:    …they’re based out of Portland now, and they have a, it’s a pretty good-sized following, national following, they do a lot of national tours and stuff.  What would you want to say to these local musicians and bands, when they, when they read this review, what would you want to say to these young guys that are just starting out?

Brad:    I don’t know, just keep an open mind about music.  Don’t pigeon-hole yourselves.

TCC:    Okay.

Brad:    And, just keep on playing, doing shows, and just keep on doing it, and, you know, if you’re passionate about it, you know, do something about it.

TCC:    Alright, alright.  Well, that’s all of the questions that I had for you, and I have a fifteen minute…

Brad:    You have to, seriously, check out Morning Teleportation, it’ll change your life.

TCC:    Morning Teleportation, ok, I will do that.

Brad:    They’re actually from our hometown, and um, Isaac Brock signed up to Glacial Pace, and then he produced their album.  They’ve been touring, they’re like psychedelic, fricken, out-of-this world original crazy stuff…

TCC:    oh, nice…

Brad:    but actually just, it’s weird, being from Bowling Green, Kentucky, and being two bands, they just played David Letterman like a month ago or something…

TCC:    okay… so they’re definitely moving up in the world…

Brad:    yeah, they’re just kinda just starting things out.  Paul Shaffer was so crazy, he was like, “That is totally original!” freaking out about them… it was so awesome…

TCC:    [laughs] Well, once you do Letterman, you’ve arrived, right?

Brad:    uh, well… you know, we thought we’d arrived several times [laughs] and it turned out to be false… [laughs]

TCC:    [laughs] Well, you know, as long as you guys are still changing, and you continue to evolve, you’re just gonna have to continue to arrive… because, you’re gonna, you know… You’re gonna be a new band every time you come around, so…

Brad:    [laughs] Well, I guess so…

TCC:    Well, I’m looking forward to the show on the 7th, and I really appreciate your time…

Brad:    Okay…

TCC:    and hopefully I’ll be able to say hello to you in person as you guys are, you know, doing whatever before the show…

Brad:    Yeah, we’ll have to, um, get some master show passes for you or something like that…

TCC:    Something like that, that would be great…

Brad:    so we can all meet and get some pictures or whatever…

TCC:    That would be lovely, I would enjoy that very much.  I will send this to your publicist…

Brad:    okay

TCC:    and make sure you guys have the link to it so you can take a look at it…

Brad:    yeah, yeah, and we’ll, we can post it on our Facebook for you too…

TCC:    absolutely.  Alrighty Brad, I’m gonna let you go… have a wonderful afternoon!

Brad:    Thank you so much for doing this, and thanks for your time today.

TCC:    Absolutely – talk to you later.

Brad:    okay

TCC:    bye bye