Friday, August 23, 2013

Pearl Jam's new video features a major Missoula connection (aside from Jeff Ament)

Posted By on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Pearl Jam released the music video to the first single off its upcoming album, and local viewers may have noticed something familiar: "Mind Your Manners" includes silhouette animation with the distinct look of Missoula filmmaker Andy Smetanka.

It looks like Smetanka's work because, well, it is.

Even if you've been in Missoula for just a short time, it's hard to miss Smetanka's stuff. He's screened his short films at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and displayed his prints and light boxes during First Friday. He's made music videos for the Decemberists and worked with Guy Maddin. A successful Kickstarter campaign afforded him the chance to make a feature-length film about World War I called And We Were Young. All of that exposure appears to have helped Smetanka land in front of an even bigger audience.

Pearl Jam's connection to Missoula is just as well known as Smetanka's work: bassist Jeff Ament grew up in Big Sandy, went to school at the University of Montana (where he started his pre-Pearl Jam hardcore band Deranged Diction) and is now a part-time resident who can often be seen around the valley at various arts and culture events.

So, how'd Smetanka end up working with Ament and Pearl Jam on the project? We caught up with Smetanka by email as he was traveling through Finland and got the scoop.

How did you end up making a music video for Pearl Jam?
Andy Smetanka: Jeff Ament made a generous donation to my Kickstarter campaign (for And We Were Young). I sent him a message to ask him how he wanted to take delivery on his custom light box, and he wrote back asking if I was interested in "creating some images" for Pearl Jam. Hell yes, I replied. It went from this not-very-specific request to actually starting work on green-screen animation for a music video in less than a week.


Did you approach it as a silhouette animation in the way you have with And We Were Young?
AS: I approached it pretty much the same way as any other silhouette project, with the difference that I shot it digitally and not on Super 8, using a Canon DSLR camera and a program called (I think) Dragonframe. I had to do it this way because of time constraints, but it was also very liberating, very encouraging to get a peek into my post-film future if I intend to keep making silhouette movies.

What was the hardest part of the project?
AS: Getting to grips with this new technology wasn't very difficult. The hardest thing about the project was the disruptive effect of the long working days on family life at a time when we were also getting centered down to go on a major overseas adventure. But I'd set the whole month of July aside to not work on And We Were Young, and the PJ project fit perfectly. Another great thing about the digital process was that it created, as a sort of happy by-product of the animation, literally thousands of huge JPG files for the band to incorporate into both the Electronic Press Kit and the album artwork for the upcoming release! Double bonus!

Did you get full creative reign or did Jeff Ament and Eddie Vedder have their own ideas?
AS: I think Jeff takes a direct hand in designing the artwork for PJ projects, kind of the de facto Art Director, so I was mostly working with him and their frequent collaborator, Danny Clinch, who was directing the video and filming the live performances behind which the animation will be inserted via green screen. Everyone had great ideas, they usually gave me the go-ahead on mine, and I took great care to film some interpretation of theirs, from Danny and everyone else in the band filtered through him and Jeff.

How long did it take you?
AS: The whole thing happened lightning-fast. Starting from scratch (with a few ready-to-go silhouette trees and things from my silhouette archive), it took two solid weeks of 10-14 hour days to come up with around 8 minutes of animation. The song itself is around 2:39 in length, so there was plenty of coverage.

How do you feel about getting to do this?
AS: All in all, an exhilarating experience, and probably the most compact, efficient and blindingly fast film project I've ever had a hand in, speaking only for my part in it. Also a great weight off my shoulders.

Are you a Pearl Jam fan or, if not, have you been converted in any way?
AS: I don't own any Pearl Jam recordings apart from a CD burn of just this one song, but I definitely consider myself a fan of the band, more for what they stand for than for the music itself (although the song is a corker!). As many who know me will surely point out, this has not always been the case. Along with certain other Indy writers, I used to be infamous for knocking them in print every chance I got back in the mid-to-late '90s. But the truth is that I've never had any substantive beef with them, and in my experience it's hard to find anyone who does. We were young, snotty punks and we wanted enemies. Now, of course, the idea of little punks like we were then casting aspersions on what is and is not worthwhile music and "selling out" is just comical to me.

Check out the video here:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hit Play: Mixed tapes for life, made with Missoula bands

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Fresh Facts, the Indy's guide to being a better local, hit newsstands today. The magazine provides something of an introduction to this here city, as well as helpful hints and suggestions for those of us who've been around for a while.

This year's issue includes a piece called "Hit play: Missoula's ultimate soundtrack, courtesy of the local music scene," a different kind of roundup of bands and artists. We've curated a heartache playlist, an angry, pumped-up playlist, a playlist for the road, a playlist for hanging out by the river, and a playlist for late night beer hoisting. Reading about the lists is fine and dandy, but what you really should do is actually hear them. Here's your chance:



Continue reading »

Monday, August 19, 2013

Total Fest XII: A recap, of sorts

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Hey everybody. Coming down from the wild, sweaty, beer-choogling section of space and time that is Total Fest XII.

Modality, photo by Michael Workman
  • Modality, photo by Michael Workman

At this writing, I’m barely coherent (just ask my roommate, who made the mistake of knocking on my door on Sunday afternoon) so here’s some highlights for your easily digestible pleasure. There were many other astoundingly hilarious events, too many to catalog (or not suitable for family audiences). Here’s some that come to mind.

Some very cute, polite young guys showed up on Friday while I was working the door. I very briefly assumed they were local high school students. Then they said they were Media Blitz, the insanely rad OC hardcore band, and I got really excited. They played a ferocious set, all Los Crudos-speed hardcore with occasional bursts of insane metal soloing, and then got off stage and resumed being polite. Seeing them again six hours later at the warehouse afterparty was also delightful, though I do not very distinctly remember that set.

Norska played on Friday night. I hadn't listened to any of their stuff, but when I realized that one Jason McMackin, former Indy calendar editor, whose taste in music I trust infinitely, was extremely excited, and that the lead singer of Norska looked like a slightly scaled down, equally beardy version of Mr. McMackin, that I needed to be there. And, wow, I was not prepared for that titanic wave of supreme Viking metal. I saw the dudes, all very gentle and quiet, the next day hanging out. I presume they got on their longboat and sailed back to whatever mystical land they hail from afterward.

I talked to a couple bands (Burn Burn Burn and Hoverbikes, both super party punks) who were playing Total Fest for the first time, and they all had nothing but really nice things to say about how cool the festival was. So, Missoulians, I think our evil plan to get awesome bands to want to tour here more often will work out nicely.

On Saturday night, I bought PBRs for the Helms Alee gals, and yell-talked about how they’re an inspiration and I love seeing women play awesome metal, right before I jumped in front for Red Fang and rawked out arm-in-arm with a bunch of rad chicks and dudes. It was so sweaty. It was like moshing in a sweat slip-in-slide with eels. Eels with some sharp elbows. When I got out of the Badlander, my tank top was completely soaked with sweat and beer.

Vile Blue Shades were excellent, though the crowd for that wasn’t very big, since young’uns these days do not know of the wonder and glory that is VBS. More bands need gogo dancers, dammit.

Guantanamo Baywatch played the fest for the first time last year during an early slot at Zoo City Apparel (RIP, sigh) and I knew if they came back this year and played later, it would be wild. The awesome surfy trio closed out the VFW on Saturday nite, and it was packed and groovy. Definitely the set with the most people making out in the crowd.

Also by Saturday, I was really starting to flag, despite my best attempts at hydrating and caffeinating. Sure, I could’ve gone to bed, but dammit, everything just gets more fun the later it happens in the evening. The trick is to stay moving, stay dancing and keep drinking. Every time I started to get tired, I would crack another beer. And that, friends, is how I wound up thrashing around to Hundred Visions at the Hammer Haus afterparty. And it was kind of a blessing that the cops showed up at 4 AM, because I was at the point where I couldn’t stop until somebody made me.

It was immensely cool to be part of the Total Fest committee. So cool that I was daunted to be part of it, agreed to do way more than I actually had time for, felt really guilty all the time, and probably made a lot of terrible awkward jokes because I don’t know how to not be awkward. Also, it is nearly a year-round goddamn job for a lot of people to put on Total Fest. I spent plenty of time on it, but it’s a drop in a sweaty ocean compared to how much work the head honchos like Josh and Kari put in.

So if I ever, theoretically, had whined a wee bit about volunteering, somebody should have mentioned that I would get a free T-shirt and be allowed to boss around punk bands. Instantly made it all totally (ha!) worth it.

It’s funny ’cause, as I get older, I find myself getting too tired for punk rock shenanigans. I’ve noticed that I have to take it easier at shows, which is really depressing. Chugging beer, jumping into a crazy pit and butt-rawking is basically my favorite thing ever; but I can’t do it as much these days without waking up feeling like a pile of garbage.

But for this, the twelfth annual Total Fest, I raged it up and danced hard and stayed out til 4 AM three nights in a row, and I am goddamn happy about it. I’m getting older! But I’m going to enjoy the hell out of stuff as much as I can! Thanks for being awesome, Missoula.

A (much less coherent) version of this post appeared on Missoula Punk News.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Long live Total Fest! Memorable moments continued

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 12:17 PM

In our Total Fest preview this week we list the top 13 most memorable moments during the Missoula independent rock festival's past 12 years. There are surely more than that, and festival-goers from years past might be able to recall those. (For instance, it was pretty cool when Milli Thompson from Sasshole saved the night and filled in as the bass player for Olympia's Fitz of Depression at the last minute. That band has been around for a long time, and a big contributor to my record collection. I would have been star-struck to play with them).

Still, some memories aren't necessarily shared by the entire Total Fest audience, like the one from Total Fest veterans and committee members Wendy Maltonic and Lou Beard. Here's their memory in Maltonic's words:

Our best memory has to be of TotalFest VII. All of us on the committee offer up our homes to the bands that come from out of town so that they do not have the extra expense of paying for a hotel. Most of the time, we have never met the people we are staying with until they show up at the venue. In 2008, Rad Touch from Seattle was one of the bands staying at our house along with The Limbs (who happened to be an old friend of mine from Ohio and whose dad was my 9th grade English teacher). After having a wildly successful Thursday night we headed back to our house to get settled in for the night.

That was the year that the Olympics were in Beijing and Lou and I are a huge Olympics nuts. Of course, we tried to keep that on the down-low since we didn’t imagine that very many rockers would be interested in seeing how many medals the US had racked up. After having a few night caps, I couldn’t help myself. I quietly turned on the TV to see what was happening (and since it was 3 a.m., it was on live). I tried to be discreet while everyone else was engrossed in conversation, but to no avail. I got busted.

“Is that the Olympics?”

“Yeah, sorry. I couldn’t help myself."

As I grabbed the remote to turn it off, I was met by a chorus of voices yelling “Leave it on!”

Turns out we ended up with a house full of people who were as crazy about it as we were. We spent all three nights sitting up until 5 or 6 in the morning yelling for the gymnasts to stick their landings and cheering on Michael Phelps as he set his gold medal record.

TotalFest really has been such a huge part of our lives and for the past 5 years we have celebrated our anniversary during TotalFest. We could not imagine this city without this wonderful gathering of music lovers. Long live Total Fest!

Rad Touch from Seattle
  • Rad Touch from Seattle

We'd love to hear any other weird, warm-and-fuzzy or mind-blowing moments from any of you, too. Bring it on. (Oh, and see you tonight!)

Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Bluegrass artists Elephant Revival and The Infamous String Dusters both played in Missoula this past week and at the 26th Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival. The bands have very different sounds but both respectively rocked the last two nights of the festival after passing through Missoula. “The Stringdusters” offer very faced paced style of bluegrass with fast guitar picking and heavy bass. You really can’t help yourself from dancing. On the other hand Elephant Revival had a much more relaxing feel with beautiful vocals and amazing fiddle work.

Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival

Infamous Stringdusters

Infamous Stringdusters

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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Photographs of Vintage Trouble in Missoula

Posted By on Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

LA blues band Vintage Trouble played an intimate and wild show at the Missoula Winery last night. The Independent was there to capture some of the best moments from the set.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Darko Butorac has a playlist for you

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 7:00 AM

In this week's cover story we profile the Missoula Symphony Orchestra's music director Darko Butorac. Butorac, along with MSO, has been trying to dispel the perception that classical music is stuffy and irrelevant to younger generations. Here he's provided five playlists for various occasions (including hooking up) with a few comments about each piece. You can listen to the playlists here. (The particular versions of each piece were chosen by the Indy.)

  • Dvorak

Roadtrip playlist
Dvorak Cello Concerto. “Perfect accompaniment on scenic driving with grand vistas.”
Ravel Daphnis and Chloe Suite No.2 “Danse general.” “This would be great for curvy mountain roads imagining you are James Bond in an Aston Martin.”
Holst Mars from the Planets. “This one is most likely to earn you a speeding ticket out of the lot. Listen full blast.”
Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky “Battle on the Ice.” “This has an incessant driving rhythm, and it’s where John Williams picked up some of his Jaws score.”
Strauss, Josef Music of the Spheres Waltz. “This is great for coasting among snowy landscapes.”

  • Mahler

Outdoor playlist
Smetana “From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields.” “Works for woods and fields worldwide.
Mahler Symphony No.1 First movement. “One of the most evocative of nature-inspired works, complete with cuckoos, rustling leaves, and flowing rivers.”
Sibelius Symphony No.1 First movement. “Great for lake vistas and forests, like most music by this nature-loving Finnish composer.”
Kodaly Solo Cello Sonata. “When reflecting upon solitude in nature.”
Bach Chaconne from Violin Partita No.2. “This is what should be listened to when climbing Everest—a peak of musical expression and genius. Actually, any Bach for that matter.”

  • Beethoven

Go Big or Go Home playlist
Respighi Pines of the Appian Way from Pines of Rome. “For everyone’s inner gladiator.”
Saints-Saens Symphony No.3 Finale. “Big orchestra, big organ, big tunes. YES!”
Beethoven Symphony No.3. “It is not called Eroica for nothing.”
Mahler Symphony No.2. “Like the ‘Ode to Joy’ on ’roids.”
Boito Prologue from Mefistofele. “Quite possibly the loudest piece I have ever conducted, complete with thunder sheet! Gotta love Italian Opera for its lack of subtlety.”

Hookup playlist
Ravel Bolero “To quote Bo Derek from the film 10: ‘Did you ever do it to Ravel’s Bolero?’”
Wagner Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. “Tension, tension and more tension...”
Strauss Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome. “Greatest striptease music ever written.”
Puccini La Boheme. “For the true romantic, just like Cher and Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck.
Mozart “Deh vieni alla finestra” from Don Giovanni (Don Juan). “This is the pick up song from the guy who seduced 2065 women. Quantity over quality?”

Heartbreak playlist: The five stages of grief for true catharsis

Strauss Trio from Rosenkavalier. “Denial.”
Mozart Queen of the Night Aria from Magic Flute. “Rage.”
Leoncavallo “Recitar!” from I Pagliacci. “Bargaining.”
Dvorak “American” Quartet 2nd movement. “Depression.”
Schubert String Quintet in C major 2nd movement. “Acceptance.”

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