zondag 26 mei 2013

April 2, 1865 – “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” - Explanation

April 02, 2011 April 2, 1865 – “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” In September 1969, The Band released the great self-titled album that includes what became one of their most famous songs, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Like any of The Band’s songs, it was written by lead guitarist Robbie Robertson. The haunting lyrics tell a tale about the end of the American Civil War, as recalled by a common Confederate soldier and farmer. Sung plaintively by Levon Helm, the song begins with these well known words: “Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train, ‘Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again. In the winter of ‘65, we were hungry, just barely alive. By May the 10th, Richmond had fell, it’s a time I remember oh so well. The night they drove Old Dixie down...” On The Band’s website, there’s an interesting in-depth article about the song’s lyrics, compiled by teacher, author and music historian Peter Viney. As it notes, Richmond had indeed already fallen by May 10th. But that’s not the date when Richmond fell. Richmond, Virginia — the capital of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War — actually fell to Union troops on the night of April 2, 1865. That night was, in many ways, the death knell for the Confederacy and the metaphorical “night they drove Old Dixie down.” The fall of Richmond came after a long siege that started in 1864. During those months, Union Army General George Stoneman’s troops repeatedly tore up the Danville tracks and other railroad lines into the city to keep supplies from reaching Confederate soldiers and civilians. Meanwhile, as ordered by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the top Union commander, Gen. Phil Sheridan laid waste to the farmland surrounding Richmond. In The Penguin Book of The American Civil War, historian Bruce Catton wrote: “A Federal army trying to take Richmond could never be entirely secure until the Confederates were deprived of all use of the (fertile and productive) Shenandoah Valley, and it was up to Sheridan to deprive them of it. Grant’s instructions were grimly specific. He wanted the rich farmlands so thoroughly despoiled that the place could no longer support a Confederate army; he told Sheridan to devastate the whole area so thoroughly that a crow flying across the Valley would have to carry its own rations. This Sheridan set out to do…Few campaigns in the war aroused more bitterness than this one.” By late March of 1865, Confederate troops and citizens in Richmond were literally starving. It was clear the city would soon fall. So, on April 2, 1865, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, his Cabinet, and most of the remaining Confederate troops and civilians abandoned Richmond and fled south. They called it “Evacuation Sunday.” Confederate soldiers were ordered to set fire to the armories and warehouses they left behind. The fires spread, setting Richmond ablaze and devastating large areas of the city. The “Fall of Richmond” led to a rapidly unfolding downward spiral for the South. By April 9, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. On May 5, the Confederate Government was dissolved. The Civil War was officially over. However, two final war-related events did occur on the May 10th date noted in The Band’s song. On May 10, 1865, Union troops captured Jefferson Davis in Georgia. By that date, most Confederate troops had laid down their arms and accepted the amnesty terms offered by President Abraham Lincoln. But there were a few die-hards, like the notorious “Bushwhacker” William Quantrill, who kept up a guerrilla-style fight. On May 10, 1865, Quantrill was ambushed by Union troops in Kentucky and fatally wounded. He lingered for almost a month before he finally died on June 6.

Top 5 Levon Helm songs

Top 5 Levon Helm Songs 25 May Levon_Helm_at_-life_is_Good_Festival-_in_2011 He didn’t write many of the songs he made legendary but when he did them they stayed done.You couldn’t imagine them any other way. On this occasion of his birth I submit to you my choice in the top 5 Levon Helm songs he performed over his Band and solo career. I hope you like them. If you don’t see your favorite place it in the comments below. “Tennessee Jed” – This Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter tune is from Levon Helm’s final studio album “Electric Dirt.” The album won the first ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album, an inaugural category in 2010. “Poor Old Dirt Farmer” – This cover from of an old traditional, the Grammy-winning “Dirt Farmer” , could have easily been written by helm in tribute to his birthplace of Elaine, Arkansas. “A Train Robbery” – Depending on your source this Paul Kennerley penned tune may or may not be about Jesse James. True or not it’s a great yarn well performed by Levon from the album “Dirt Farmer.” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” – Written by Robbie Robertson with Levon Helm. The song tells the tale of the last days of the American Civil War and the suffering and humiliation of the South. “The Weight” – Though it was not a significant mainstream hit for The Band it has gone on to become their signature song. No Comments Posted in Americana, In memoriam, Legends, News Round Up Tags: Levon Helm

dinsdag 21 mei 2013

concertverslag: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

concertverslag: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell Geschreven door Joris Heynen concertverslag: Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell Het is het meest intieme moment van de avond: de ode die Emmylou Harris ('47) brengt aan haar in 2010 gestorven vriendin Kate McGarrigle, My Darling Kate. Alleen op een kruk op het brede podium van de 'Rode doos', uitkijkend over een zee van grijze koppen. De stem wil nog wel, maar kan niet meer, de duizelingwekkende hoogtes uit het verleden worden niet meer gehaald, al blijft ze het moedig proberen. Die kwetsbaarheid werkt ontwapenend: even zien we niet de majestueuze countrykoningin, maar een vrouw die oog in oog staat met haar ouderdom en sterfelijkheid. Back When We Were Beautiful volgt even later, een nummer over een bejaarde weduwe, die terugblikt op de tijd dat ze nog vol in het leven stond en de nacht kapot danste. Het is een avond van herinneren en herdenken, en van het vieren van vriendschap. Naast Kate McGarrigle worden ook Susanna Clark (I'll Be Your San Antonio Rose), Townes van Zandt (If I Needed You, Pancho & Lefty) en natuurlijk Gram Parsons herdacht. De gedoemde zanger liet Emmylou begin jaren zeventig als eerste schitteren, maar stierf voordat het smartelijke meesterwerk Grievous Angel verscheen. Harris en Crowell openen fraai met Return Of The Grievous Angel, later volgen Luxury Liner, de Flying Burrito Brothers-klassiekers Wheels (een nummer dat Harris altijd speelt), Sin City en Love Hurts, het ultieme liefdesduet uit de countrymuziek, helaas wat rommelig uitgevoerd. Van sommige dingen moet je gewoon afblijven. In de tweede set komen de nieuwe oude liedjes van Old Yellow Moon voorbij, wordt het volume een tandje opgevoerd en toont Crowell zich op het podium gelukkig een spannender zanger dan op die recent verschenen duettenplaat. Tussen de bedrijven door betuigt Harris meermaals de liefde voor ons land. Omdat wij, anders dan haar landgenoten, écht naar de muziek luisteren, naar de teksten en de boodschap. Ook weet ze zich nog te herinneren dat ze in '73/'74 is verkozen tot de nummer dertien van populairste zangeressen in Nederland, nog voordat ze een album uit had. Voor het gemak vergeet ze dan even haar geflopte debuut Gliding Bird. Na zo'n twee uur gespeeld te hebben, wordt in stijl afgesloten met One Of These Days, een hommage aan de onlangs op 81-jarige leeftijd gestorven grootheid George Jones, de man met wie Emmylou zo schitterend Here We Are zong. Eenmaal buiten op het parkeerterrein, onder het schijnsel van de oude maan, verlaat een taxibus met bejaarde fans het terrein. In hun gedachten rijden ze terug in de tijd, naar vroeger, toen alles nog mooi was. Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell: zaterdagavond 18 mei, Tivoli Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht

zondag 19 mei 2013

Emmylou Harris Copes With the Deaths of Gram Parsons and Kate McGarrigle

Emmylou Harris Copes With the Deaths of Gram Parsons and Kate McGarrigle Posted on Apr 27th 2011 11:00AM by Lonny Knapp Jack Spencer Country legend Emmylou Harris has made a career of picking overlooked gems from the world's best songwriters and owning them. As an interpreter, she digs deep to uncover the gentle soul and beating heart of a song; even tired staples are born anew when filtered through her crystalline voice. However, in recent years, the 12-time Grammy Award-winner has taken to recording more of her own material. Her new disc, 'Hard Bargain,' features 11 original tunes and two covers, including a title cut courtesy of Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith. Emmylou Harris spoke with Spinner about that new disc, the mysterious songwriting process, her time with Gram Parsons and dealing with the loss of her dear friend Kate McGarrigle. Since 1995's 'Wrecking Ball,' your albums have featured more original material. How did you come to find your voice later in your career? Maybe I was lazy, or maybe I was nervous that I wouldn't come up with something good. I knew I could write, but there were all these great songs out there by other people, ready for the plucking. Perhaps I had exhausted some of my song-finding talents, but after 'Wrecking Ball' I decided to put on my writing hat. Amazon Listen to 'Hard Bargain' for Free The 11 originals on 'Hard Bargain' deal with an impressive a range of subjects. Has interpreting so many great songs helped shape you as a songwriter? To me, songwriting is a mysterious process. Sometimes it just falls in your lap. Other times, it feels as though you have a big block of granite, a hammer and a chisel, and you're just hammering away. I am so grateful anytime I get an idea that I can see through to the end. When you cover songs by the greatest songwriters in the world, it's a bit intimidating when you start to write for yourself. You want your songs to hold their own, but you have to compare to the songs you've covered -- there is a standard there, and I hope that I've reached it. I'm very satisfied with the songs on the record. Getty Images The opening cut, 'The Road,' retells the story of your relationship with Gram Parsons. Was it hard to open up about such a personal time? It wasn't really my decision. When you get a lyric and song idea that has some credibility and that you are connected to, you go with it. But I've been open about my time with Gram all these years, and it's not like it's a secret how important he was to me. This was just a retelling of a story I've probably told a million times. This is the truth, it's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Watch Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons Perform Live in 1973 Gram Parsons died so young. When you were with Gram did you have any idea that he would he would become an inspiration to so many musicians? I thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He was turning me on to all this music, and we were singing harmony; I loved his singing voice. I thought we were going to go on and make all these records together -- when you are that young you never think of anyone dying. He was ahead of his time. He left us a very intense but small body of work, and there are a lot of people who say they're influenced by Gram. It's almost like his influence is more prevalent now, like he skipped a generation. I think people needed a bit of distance to really see it. 'Darlin' Kate' is about the passing of your good friend, Canadian singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle. Was writing that song part of the grieving process? I didn't set out to write it. I was fresh off experiencing Kate's passing and her funeral, and I was just dealing with her absence. I was in a writing mode, when I picked up the guitar, the opening line just fell out. It's really just a farewell letter. We all miss her and we grieve in our own way. In country music there is a grand tradition of story songs. On 'My Name Is Emmit Till,' you embody the 14-year-old boy who in 1955 was murdered in Mississippi and became a martyr for the civil rights movement. That's a bit of a reach, why did you need to tell the story? I just got the line, "I was born a black boy, my name is Emmet Till" -- from there the story unfolded. I am just retelling a story that we all know, but in the first person. He was a martyr and changed the world for the better. But we shouldn't forget that no life is worth that. 'Lonely Girl' is a song about a woman yearning for love in the twilight of life. Is that song autobiographical? I have a wonderful life filled with family, friends, dogs and children, but I'm not in a relationship. I mean, I have so many relationships, but not the type that people feel you need to complete yourself. I don't hold to that. We all feel that something is missing, when there probably isn't. I got the melody and started reflecting, but it wasn't like I wanted to tell the world: "Feel sorry for me, I'm lonely." Watch Emmylou Harris' 'Goodnight Old World' Video A theme of reflection and passing time permeates the album. So many musicians seem to battle with growing old, while you seem to age with grace. What is your secret? We age; we don't have any choice. You might as well accept where you are in life. That doesn't mean there's a not a certain nostalgia for your youth; it's just part of the human condition. But it's easy for me because I have had such a wonderful life. Music inspires me, and it's a thrill just to get up there and sing. I don't have the stamina of Bruce Springsteen -- I can't play for three hours -- but I still love playing live. The title cut is a cover of Ron Sexsmith's 'Hard Bargain.' Over the years, you've performed songs by Canadian songwriters including Daniel Lanois, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. What draws you to Canada -- is it the maple syrup? I don't like maple syrup, and I hope that nobody holds that against me. I'm a Southern girl; we have cane syrup and molasses. But some of my biggest inspirations have been Canadian. The song 'Hard Bargain,' I had in mind for a few years. In fact, I wanted to cut it on the last record; for some reason, we just didn't. But when I played it for Jay Joyce -- who produced my current record -- he loved it. I don't know Ron very well, I have met him only a few times, but I am a fan of his music. Just about every singer-songwriter that you meet thinks Ron has hung the moon.

zaterdag 18 mei 2013

Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson from Moby Grape reunite @ The Mix Seattle

I do not remember, Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson from Moby Grape reunite @ The Mix Seattle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En_OrrOneao

donderdag 16 mei 2013

http://oor.nl/#reviews/concerts/2261/savages_raast_door_de_melkweg Savages raast door de Melkweg 16 Mei 2013 Deel op Hyves Deel op Facebook Deel op Twitter Print artikel Het is bijzonder druk op de gang na afloop van het concert van Savages in de Melkweg: mensen verdringen zich om op de foto te gaan met Queens Of The Stone Age-frontman Josh Homme, die na afloop van de opnames van De Wereld Draait Door zijn Matador-labelgenootjes wel even in actie wilde zien. In datzelfde TV-programma maakten de dames van Savages begin november op furieuze wijze hun debuut op de Nederlandse televisie. En hoe: in anderhalf minuut verbleekte niet alleen het gezicht van Prem Radhakishun, maar bevestigde de band vooral wat we eerder op Vlieland tijdens Great Wide Open concludeerden: deze dames doen niet aan concessies. Er hangen briefjes in de zaal: of je je telefoon vooral op stil wil zetten, zodat iedereen volledig op kan gaan in de muziek. Alles draait om beleving en daar houden de dames, hoe wild ze ook zijn, van begin tot eind controle over. Het begint al met het voorprogramma Johnny Hostile, wederhelft van zangeres Jehnny Beth, die samen als John & Jehn reeds een band vormden waar ook gitariste Gemma Thompson deel van uitmaakte. Beide spelen vanavond een nummer mee. Als Hostile klaar is, de feedback doorloopt en het zaallicht uit blijft, groeit gestaag de spanning. Jongeren vooraan worden onrustig, oudere doemdenkers die ruim dertig jaar geleden inspiratiebron Siouxsie And The Banshees nog hebben meegemaakt beginnen te mompelen. Opener Shut Up zet gelijk de toon. Het eerste wat opvalt is de voortreffelijk strakke ritmesectie. Drumster Fay Milton mept alsof ze persoonlijk de troepen het slagveld op moet leiden. Bassiste Ayse Hassan werkt ondertussen het ene na het andere killerbasloopje eruit. Samen vormen ze een nietsontziende oorlogsmachine. City's Full en I Am Here maken Savages onontkoombaar. Beth ondertussen, smacht, kreunt en krijst vanuit een oergevoel en is ijzingwekkend. Het is ook nu weer eng hoe zeer ze de verloren tweelingzuster van Ian Curtis zou kunnen zijn. 'Ian Curtis on heels' is op haar best tijdens She Will. Om haar repeterende woorden kracht bij te zetten balt ze de vuist en maakt ze op het ritme van de muziek krachtig slaande bewegingen. Als er een tafel stond dan had ze hem volledig aan puin geslagen. Is er dan nog ruimte om te ademen? Ja even, als Savages halverwege de avond het tempo ietwat terugschroeft. Waiting For A Sign biedt ruimte aan Thompson om te soleren en ze blijkt daarmee onbedoeld de zwakke schakel van het kwartet. Maar dan begint het: een lange alles vernietigende finale, ingezet met nieuw nummer My Condition, waarbij gaandeweg het tempo wordt opgeschroefd en de wereld uiteen lijkt te knallen met een woeste oerkrijs van Beth. En dat is precies waar de kracht van Savages in schuilt: zolang het tempo hoog ligt gaat het goed. Met No Face, Hit Me, Husbands en Fuckers blijft het tempo moordend. Eindelijk ontwaakt ook het publiek. De moshpit is daar, en hup, er vliegt ook al iemand over de hoofden. Het mooiste moet echter nog komen: geen toegift. Klaar is klaar. Punt gemaakt. 'Don't let the fuckers get you down'. Door Peter Dijkstra / Fotografie: Sanne Glasbergen Gezien: 15 mei 2013, Melkweg, Amsterdam

vrijdag 10 mei 2013

Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty Join The Rolling Stones In San Jose

Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty Join The Rolling Stones In San Jose Written by Francie Johnson May 10th, 2013 at 3:38 pm bonnie raitt rolling stones 2013 The Rolling Stones gave fans something to talk about at their San Jose, California show last night when Bonnie Raitt joined the band on stage for a rendition of “Let It Bleed.” The concert, the third stop on the Stones’ “50 & Counting” tour, also featured guest performances by former band member Mick Taylor on “Midnight Rambler” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and John Fogerty on “It’s All Over Now.” john fogerty rolling stones (John Fogerty backstage with Ron Wood) Raitt is no stranger to performing with the Rolling Stones; she and the Stones performed “Shine a Light” together at Vancouver’s BC Place in 2006, although footage of the performance didn’t surface until 2012. Raitt and Fogerty’s names mark the most recent additions to an ever-growing list of guest performers featured on the Rolling Stones’ tour, a list that also includes Tom Waits, Keith Urban, and Gwen Stefani. The Stones also performed “No Expectations,” after fans requested it via the official Rolling Stones mobile app. For each stop on the tour, fans have the opportunity to vote for their favorite song among five choices, and the Rolling Stones perform the winning song. Set List: Get Off of My Cloud It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It) Paint It Black It’s All Over Now (with John Fogerty) Gimme Shelter No Expectations (voted by fans by request) Let It Bleed (with Bonnie Raitt) Emotional Rescue Bitch One More Shot Honky Tonk Women Before They Make Me Run Happy Midnight Rambler (with Mick Taylor) Miss You Start Me Up Tumbling Dice Brown Sugar Sympathy for the Devil ENCORE: You Can’t Always Get What You Want Jumpin’ Jack Flash (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (with Mick Taylor)

donderdag 2 mei 2013


http://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/9123-savages/ Savages In an era of endless distraction, this London quartet wants to focus our fleeting attention with guitars and drums and fury. Turn away at your own risk. By Laura Snapes , April 30, 2013 Savages Photos by Se Young Savages: "Shut Up" In late February, Savages play a show at David Lynch’s exclusive Paris nightclub, Silencio. As the red velvet curtains open-- of course there are curtains-- the four-piece peer out into a room of perched and propped Lynchian devotees swirling $20 cocktails. The band stare at them silently for 30 confrontational seconds before drummer Fay Milton eventually breaks the war of attrition. The following night, the group walk on stage at London’s Electric Ballroom for their biggest hometown show yet. Once again, the music doesn’t start immediately. This time, though, it’s not intentional. The dude manning the monitors, who had been uncooperative and snide during soundcheck, has vanished. He does not reappear. Three awkward minutes pass. Finally, frontwoman Jehnny Beth flashes her gimlet eye and seethes, "I think we’re all fucking ready, right? This is called 'Shut Up'." Ayşe Hassan’s bass and Gemma Thompson’s guitar rumble in, restlessly steering the sound. Beth, a heart-faced woman with a severe Mia Farrow crop, jogs on the spot, circling her fists as if poised to sprint, or brewing a sharp right-hook. Jehnny Beth In the café of an artsy east London cinema the next afternoon, the mood is good-humored, though the shrill coffee machine grates against some severe hangovers: Milton went to bed at 7 a.m. after being dragged to a gay club once the band’s own after-party (where they hung the DJ and just played Bowie records) kicked out. A week-old bruise on her left eyelid shows when she rolls her eyes while the band discuss the previous night’s sound issues. They’re certain the venue’s monitor tech didn’t like being told what to do by women. When Savages started performing in early 2012, too many similar experiences persuaded them to employ their own sound team. "One guy gave us really awful sound, then came and apologized afterwards, saying, ‘Sorry, I didn’t realize you were going to be good,’" says Milton. "‘I didn’t realize you could play like that,’" mocks Thompson, a trilobite tattoo visible on her forearm as she ruffles her ostensibly home-cut hair. "People tell me, ‘Don’t let the fuckers get you down,'" says Beth, raising her eyebrows. That mantra forms the chorus to the castigating "Fuckers", last night’s abrasive set closer, where she gnashes at the edict like Nick Cave with barbed-wire for teeth. "I’m like, 'No. Don’t let the fuckers get you down... and then give them a lesson!'" "I’m trying to talk to people about themselves, to just tell the truth, and maybe that’s why people come to see us, as an inspiration for emancipation." -- Jehnny Beth In the 18 months since Savages formed-- three friends, plus a brutal drummer unearthed via recommendations-- they’ve executed their music, shows, and business with ruthless efficiency. In one of their declarative mission statements, which appear online and are appended to their releases, they call the band a "self-affirming voice to help experience our girlfriends, our husbands, our jobs, our erotic life, and the place music occupies in our lives differently." Their stealthy music takes influence from post-punk’s aerodynamics, hardcore’s abrasion, and the overdriven plundering of metal, with songs rewritten until they’re reduced to the most essential ideas. And at the quartet's uncompromising heart is a vitriolic refusal of victimization, though they shrug off potential affiliations with riot grrrl, or the dogmatic approach of a band like Fugazi. Instead, their strident lyrics about embracing your creative and erotic pleasures eschew soapboxing in favor of something more instinctive. Considering all that, Silence Yourself might seem like a strangely bossy title for the debut album of a band so concerned with self-expression. But it’s more about shedding distractions. "We’re submerged by voices, opinions, images," says Beth. "They take us away from who we are. The idea with Savages is to get back to this more focused attention, so you’re harder to reach." Fay Milton As a child, Jehnny Beth’s theater-director parents wouldn’t let her watch television or do "kid things." Born Camille Berthomier in Poitiers, a small city in western France, on December 24, 1984, one of her earliest memories is of touring Russia with one of her father’s plays. She loved the films her parents showed her by Hitchcock, Truffaut, and John Cassavetes, whose New Wave sensibilities played well in France. Silence Yourself begins with a sample of dialogue from Cassavetes' 1977 drama Opening Night, which deals with an older actress' struggle to pursue her career in accordance with her beliefs. "She doesn’t want to follow the rules, so she’s fighting, and that’s what I like about the film," explains Beth. "She would never give up." Beth’s parents "emancipated themselves" from their agricultural backgrounds by reading and going to university, and were keen to impress the importance of academic study on Jehnny and her sister. "They were very open intellectually, although still coming from a Catholic background-- an interesting mix!" she says with a yelp. Savages: "I Am Here" It’s a cold afternoon in January, and Beth is the last member to present herself for an individual grilling at a central London cafe decorated like a mad aunt’s parlor. The band has insisted on being interviewed separately, in consecutive half-hour sessions, a turn of events made no less odd by the fact that Beth records our conversation on an enormous tape recorder that looks like she stole it from a Cold War museum. "For my memories," she says, in a way that doesn’t suggest something for the grandchildren. She repeatedly returns to the word "emancipation." When she was in her late teens, she met Nicolas Congé, aka Johnny Hostile, who she calls "a big part in my emancipation as a person, but also as a musician." They remain together, having moved to London in late 2006, adopting new names to form John and Jehn, a Kills-like duo. That band took precedence over Beth’s burgeoning acting career-- she stars in 2005’s A travers la forêt and 2009’s Sodium Babies, two French-made fantasy/horror films. In old interviews, Hostile joked that he kidnapped her. "Both of us wanted to avoid boredom in a small town in France," Hostile tells me. "We became hyperactive in all aspects of life: how we deal with our job, our sex life, our families, our friends. She emancipated me equally." "They moved around in a very menacing, jerky fashion," remembers British Sea Power frontman Scott "Yan" Wilkinson, who often had John and Jehn open for his band and gave Savages their first gig in January 2012. "You couldn’t tell if they were going to have a kiss or a fight-- made me think of erotic roosters." "Pornography has been very important for me, to liberate myself from the pressure of romanticism and the myth of a woman’s pleasure." -- Jehnny Beth Hostile is always around Savages, his swooping black coat and crooked, Gallic good looks providing no small amount of presence. Although he co-produced their album, his role seems to challenge rather than control; none of the other three members visibly resent his suggestions. He’s aware that he can be domineering, though. Savages was Thompson’s baby, and when she originally asked Hostile to front the band, he declined. "I respect her too much," he says. "I didn’t want to waste her time with me trying to change everything. She deserved someone easier to work with." Beth says Hostile’s role in her liberation means she can’t call herself a feminist. Although she agrees with the movement’s aims for equality, she has misgivings about its wider motivations and is fascinated when women put a feminist reading on Savages. "They tell me they think pornography is bad for women and assume I’m going to understand," she says. "The thing is, I watch a lot of pornography. It’s been very important for me, to liberate myself from the pressure of romanticism, the myth of a woman’s pleasure." Towards the end of Silence Yourself is a song called "Hit Me" that was recorded entirely live, making its Meat Puppets-playing-axel-grinders maelstrom even more striking. "I took a beating today/ And that was the best I ever had," Beth moans, adopting the perspective of her favorite porn star, Belladonna, who gained widespread notoriety following a 2003 "Primetime" interview with Diane Sawyer in which she cried about some of her experiences, and subsequently became used as a strawman for porn’s "manipulative evils" by lobbyists. (She spoke out afterwards about how "Primetime"'s editing misrepresented her as a victim.) Elsewhere on the record, Beth sings about dark sexual liberation, unmasking your soul, vanquishing faceless cowards-- and finding yourself sleeping with them, too. Though the album’s most surprising lyric is also its most domestic. "How come I’ve been doing things with you/ I would never tell my mum?" Beth sings on the swaggering, Suede-worthy "Strife". She describes it as "almost showing your weakness" and "that sense of becoming a child again, when you’re doing these crazy, dirty things." Savages: "Strife" Savages’ honesty about the complexities of female sexuality places them in an underpopulated but fervent lineage that stretches from Patti Smith through Liz Phair, PJ Harvey, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and beyond. (At its most aggressive, Beth's wail is a dead-ringer for Karen O’s pixellated yowl.) Women to whom expressing the desire for violent or so-called deviant sexual pleasure is empowering, rather than a cheap signifier of "transgression" or vulnerability. "I’m trying to talk to people about themselves, to say things as they are, to just tell the truth," Beth ponders. "And maybe that’s why people come to see us, as an inspiration for emancipation." She refers to a trans-woman in the process of gender realignment surgery who recently wrote to the band. "Savages was helping her go through this process, the pain," says Beth. "We were all really moved by it." Gemma Thompson Last November, Savages entered the Fish Factory studio in northwest London to begin recording their debut album. They spent three hermetic weeks there with Hostile and co-producer Rodaidh McDonald, who worked on both xx albums, How to Dress Well’s Total Loss, and heaps of others. The band’s debut single was essentially recorded in a tricked-out cupboard in Beth and Hostile’s north London house, where the parts were captured separately. McDonald instigated the opposite approach for the album, setting them up like the live band they are. Silence Yourself comprises 11 songs that shriek and writhe within a consistently ominous ambience. It’s exhilaratingly aggressive. The guitar work on "I Am Here" sounds like it takes cues from post-hardcore titans Converge, the cymbals on "She Will" from krautrock greats Faust. The groan that opens "Husbands" is sampled from a film Thompson found while working at London’s Natural History Museum that captures the sound of lava solidifying underwater. Although the band laughs guiltily at how picky they were in the studio, McDonald appreciated it. "It’s unusual to work with a guitar band where each member is as deeply into experimenting within their role, and pushing it to the extreme," he says. "It’s refreshing." Only the final song of each side, "Dead Nature" and closer "Marshal Dear", are contemplative-- the latter features piano by Beth, who is a trained jazz pianist, and would sound at home in at a sleazy smoker's den. It leaves the album enticingly open-ended. Still, there's no escaping it: Savages do recall a number of post-punk, no wave, and metal bands. "I call it the 'Old Man’s Disease,' which I had when I was 21," says BBC 6Music DJ Marc Riley, debating whether the band’s originality, or potential lack thereof, matters. Riley was a significant enough early member of the Fall for Mark E. Smith to write at least three overt cuss songs aimed at him, and he gave Savages their first live radio session back in May 2012. "I remember the first time I heard the Jesus and Mary Chain, I thought, I’ve got White Light/White Heat, why bother? But of course you’re wrong to think like that. Savages get compared to Public Image Ltd. and Siouxsie and the Banshees, but the songs are great. That’s all that matters." "Savages are a band like My Bloody Valentine-- one of those classic bands that you just love. They’re proper." -- Portishead's Geoff Barrow Savages have found another fervent admirer in Portishead founder Geoff Barrow, whose crush began when they played his hometown, Bristol, last August. They met, and did some non-committal recording later in the summer-- just friends, experimenting, and no, you can’t hear it. I meet Barrow in Bristol on another bitterly cold night in mid-December, at a dank pub on an out-of-town road where it’s impossible to buy cigarettes, but very easy to get a "special" massage at the Village Sauna. "This is a band like My Bloody Valentine," Barrow says over a beer, smoothing his Earth t-shirt. "One of those classic bands that you just love. They’re proper." Next door at the Exchange, preparations are afoot for Apocatastasis, a Christmas party thrown by Barrow’s Invada Records, where Savages will play their last date of 2012. One of Barrow’s other bands, Beak>, open Savages’ Electric Ballroom date, and Savages will return the favor by playing before Portishead on their European tour this summer. The mutual admiration is strong. It has to be, as it quickly becomes apparent that Savages aren't wild about playing opening act for anyone when they offer themselves up for interview two at a time before the Apocatastasis gig, putting on a sort of good cop/bad cop act across a corner table in the pub. Talking about their experience as a support slot for guitar rocking also-rans the Vaccines last May, Beth juts her jaw. "It was shit," she spits unexpectedly. Although Savages’ then-managers didn’t force them into it, it seems to have been at their suggestion. They also wanted the band to sign with a label-- any label-- by June 2012, a notion Beth balked at. (John and Jehn remain in a bind over a previous bad deal.) "It was a bad time for us," she says. "We almost lost the band." On May 29, Savages released their debut single, "Flying to Berlin" b/w "Husbands", and headed to Salford the following day to play their 6Music session for Marc Riley. It was a pivotal moment. "There was so much tension in the air," Milton says. "We worried that we were going to fuck up live on the radio." They didn't. "The session was amazing," recalls Riley. In the van on the way back to London the next day, they decided to sack their managers. Thompson and Beth severed ties in person. "It was a good fucking thing to do," Beth says, with no small amount of intensity. In the end, Savages refused to sign to a label until they had finished making their album, which they say they paid for themselves. It's all about rejecting what they see as severely outdated industry-- and generational-- hierarchies. In short, they don’t take advice easily, though their new manager, John Best, was a Britpop mastermind. "Even supposedly experienced people don’t know how to do things now because everything is broken down," Beth says. "When people tell you you have to support another band for some reason-- that doesn’t really make sense any more! Our generation doesn’t believe in elites. The filmmaker Adam Curtis said we are an apocalyptic generation. I thought that was great-- that's exactly where our name comes from." Savages: "She Will" Over our three meetings, the singer regularly talks of her admiration for Michael Gira, and how he chose to end Swans in the late 90s rather than jeopardize his vision. "Some people’s souls are too big and strong to do the compromises constantly asked of you when you play rock music, because it’s not considered an art," she says of him. Though Beth and Hostile run their own small imprint, Pop Noire, last month it was announced that Silence Yourself will be released through Matador Records. Over email a couple of days later, Beth explains that she doesn’t think the deal merits congratulations. "I have no pride or happiness left in me for these kind of things," she writes. "I came to a point where I absolutely had to demystify the cult surrounding indie labels. I see things differently, I guess-- I believe artists make their own success. No record labels are my heroes today. Ayşe Hassan Although she’s the most vocal member of the band, Beth was in fact the last to join Savages: After Hostile turned down Thompson’s offer to front the band, Beth sent a tentative email asking if she could try out, to Thompson’s total, delighted surprise. "From the first rehearsal, it was very productive-- we weren't just there to tell each other we're great," remembers Milton, who arrives for her one-on-one grilling carrying a copy of The Fountainhead. Hassan was Thompson’s original foil: they met through the bassist’s crazy Halloween parties and went on to play in the band Hindley. "It was a kind of My Bloody Valentine noise-fest," Thompson recalls. "We played at every shit-hole in London. We had our own smoke machine, lights, costumes-- no matter where we were, it was about perfecting the performance." Her meticulous presentational streak remains: Savages no longer play "shit-holes" with any desperate regularity, but they curate everything from posters to video trailers, support slots, visuals, and the music between acts. Their show at the Electric Ballroom is a comprehensive display of how maintaining such total control can manifest in something truly uncompromising. Since the doors opened, a creaking chime-- like midnight sounding over the River Styx-- has been playing over the venue's sound system, though no one really notices. Attentions are piqued, however, when a woman in white suddenly lays on her back near the bar end of the room. Knees bent, she uses her feet to push herself down toward the stage, narrowly avoiding getting stepped on. Another four dancers follow, a space clearing around them. They reach the end of the room and roll onto their fronts, crawling in a circle at a deathly slow pace, as if the air had the consistency of wet cement. Eventually they rise together, heads bowed, shoulders locked, looking like decapitated corpses. The equal parts intimidating, tedious, and awe-inspiring spectacle lasts 35 minutes, making some of the crowd hilariously antsy. "I don’t think they’re about to do the 'Thriller' dance, do you?" an incessantly chattering woman mugs to her friends. Milton’s friend Fernanda Munoz-Newsome choreographed the piece, titled "Rewind-It". Her motivation was to create "something that would not be easy to sit back and watch." And then some. Smoking in the freezing back alley, Thompson explains that the impetus to stage such a piece came from a performance by Wire at the same venue 33 years prior, captured on 1981’s Document & Eyewitness. Wire antagonized the audience by scrapping the hits and including a bizarre Dadaist cabaret that constantly interrupted their set. The skinhead-heavy crowd bottled them. "The concept was to challenge the audience," she says, shivering in a long black coat. It certainly shows some gall to subject a Thursday night Camden crowd to an avant-garde dance performance. Upstairs in the dressing room, the band is pleased as punch. "It was like an art space!" a stage-ready Beth crows, hopping from hot pink heel to heel. "I absolutely had to demystify the cult surrounding indie labels. I believe artists make their own success. No record labels are my heroes today." -- Jehnny Beth In the cinema arts café the afternoon after the Electric Ballroom gig, the band is considerably loosened-up from the first time we met, repeatedly collapsing in hoots, and listing their ultimate hard-rock hunks (it’s a toss-up between Thor Harris from Swans and Josh Homme, "the modern-day Elvis."). The hangovers may have something to do with it. After some prodding, they admit that their more pointed moves over our meetings for this feature-- being interviewed individually, the imposing tape recorder-- really just represent their lack of experience in press situations. Still, their occasionally over-protective hold on precisely what they’re doing is part of what makes them thrillingly distinguished from countless young groups who tend to delight in shambolic guilelessness and caring for precisely naught. Those bands can never be caught out because they never had any beliefs to begin with. Savages may contradict themselves at times, but they're more interesting for it. These imperious, Romantic punks want to be nothing less than a gateway drug to transformative art and ideas. But for now, there are headaches to tend to (Milton’s face is on the table more than once). And true to their most primal desires, Savages are reduced to offering the simplest interpretation of their sound yet. "It’s music to break shit to!" laughs Thompson. "And fuck on the floor to!" says Milton, crumpling beneath extreme-hangover hysteria. Thompson concludes: "It’s music to break shit and fuck on the floor to." Artists: Savages