The TVD Storefront

The Turtles’ Mark Volman, The TVD Interview

Back when pop music had real prestige, The Turtles were one of its finest practitioners. Their success was due in no small part to a DIY approach to music and their collective ear for a great song. The band first hit the charts with a version of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe” in 1965. From there, they covered songs from bands like The Byrds and recorded tunes from songwriters like Warren Zevon and the mostly forgotten—yet incredibly prolific—Alan Gordon, who co-wrote their signature song, “Happy Together.”

Despite numerous personnel changes, Mark Volman never fully abandoned the idea of The Turtles. He and Turtles bandmate Howard Kaylan departed from the band for a time and joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, calling themselves Flo (Mark) & Eddie (Howard). They continued to tour and record as Flo & Eddie (separate from Zappa) through the ’80s until they regained control of The Turtles’ name. Today, Volman and Kaylan bill themselves “The Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie” and gig around the world with fellow ’60s and ’70s pop acts on their popular Happy Together Tour.

Volman has thrived in the music industry for the better part of fifty years. His incredibly varied career has included work as a backup singer, record producer, screenwriter, and college professor. When he’s not touring with The Turtles, Volman chairs the Entertainment Industry Studies Department at Belmont University in Nashville.

Volman most recently oversaw the creation of a Turtles box set containing newly remastered 45RPM vinyl singles (out now), a perfect tribute for one of the most beloved pop bands of the ’60s. Our conversation with him last week makes it clear why his students have voted him “Outstanding Professor” and why The Turtles’ music endures in 2014. 

I remember really liking “Happy Together” as a kid because it was this upbeat song in a minor key, and so it kind of stuck in my mind…

[Laughs] Well, I think that the effervescent minor key to major key was a big part of The Turtles. Ultimately, it shaped the sound of our songs. I think that “Happy Together” certainly is a good demonstration of that; “Elenore” was probably the one that was more famous by kind of the fact that we were lampooning ourselves. Again, I think in the beginning, we had no idea that it was going to end up doing what it did!

Your big hits came in such a brief period of time, and they’re so well-crafted—almost like Rodgers and Hammerstein type story-songs. Is that what you set out to do when you got into music?

Well, we were experimenting with a lot of different [things], and we were fortunate. We came along when songwriting was still thought of as the most important thing. From our standpoint, we never really worried about what material we were doing, whether we were writing it or not; the most important thing was that we had a piece of music we felt we could stand behind. Because our live show played such an integral part of our survival in that era, we wanted to make sure that the music we were performing on record was something we could do on stage. I think sometimes you take for granted the fact that so much of the music that came out of Southern California—The Mamas & The Papas, The Beach Boys…there was a whole slew of artists who were making records, but not playing on their records.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday morning recap of the new tracks received last week—provided here to inform your vinyl purchasing power. Click, preview, download, purchase.

DZ Deathrays – Fixations (AL-P of MSTRKRFT Remix)
Sam Smith – Stay With Me (Bender Remix)
Wise Girl – So Broken
The High Learys – I’m A Fool For You
Anabot – Candy-Eyed
Grammar – New World
Douglas Francis – Hedonic Treadmill
Lookas – LOKO (Dani Deahl Remix)
Cassorla – The Right Way
Anushka – Atom Bombs

TVD SINGLE OF THE WEEK:
Sillyboy – Do it Again

Clockwork Radio – Sitting Bull
Selena Garcia – Brother
Nite Fields – Vacation
Negativland – Right Might
Ennui – Summer of Love
Mary J. Blige – Just Fine (GAMPER & DADONI x Mingo Starr Remix)
Double Plus Good – Never The Same
Dream Boat – The Rose Explodes
Baby Baby – Turnip
Gwyneth Moreland – Pine Box Sailor

3 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Music City U.S.A.!

Drink all day and rock all night/ The law come to get you if you don’t walk right/ Got a letter this morning, baby all it read/ You better head back to Tennessee Jed.

I dropped four flights and cracked my spine/ Honey, come quick with the iodine/ Catch a few winks, baby, under the bed/ Then you head back to Tennessee Jed.

Tennessee, Tennessee, there ain’t no place I’d rather be/ Baby won’t you carry me back to Tennessee.

Although I’d personally rather be in the canyons of Los Angeles, Tennessee ain’t bad in my book. The first thing that comes to mind about my annual trip to Nashville is “southern hospitality.” The people down here are truly different from where I come from. I try pretty hard to be a “nice guy,” but I could never compare.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Riot Fest 2014, Sunday, 9/14

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Sunday of Riot Fest, or what I had been referring to all weekend as “Pattiday,” was easily my favorite day of the weekend.

It was no secret that I was really excited for Patti Smith. My expectations were high, to say the least, and I had to resign myself to basically waiting hours until I could be in Ms. Smith’s presence again since I saw her in May 2013 at The Vic. In the meantime, I would party hard with Andrew WK and sway to the catchy stylings of Tegan and Sara all while stuffing my face with as much beer and Cevapicici I could handle. It’s Sunday, people. Go big or go home.

Seeing Patti Smith live is truly something special. The entire set was dripping with sentiments for her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith whose birthday it was. “I wrote this song in 1978 for my boyfriend, Fred Sonic Smith who became my husband and we had two children. We lived in Detroit and now I’m here and it’s his birthday. Happy birthday, Fred. I never sing this song without thinking of you,” she said before diving into “Because the Night.”

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TVD UK

Speakman Sound,
The TVD First Date

“I suppose our earliest memories of music actually come from cassette. I remember jumping around the living room together listening to “Space Man” by Babylon Zoo on cassette with a homemade tinfoil space helmet on (far out lyrics for a 3 and 4-year-old to absorb!)”

“However Dad did have a good vinyl collection which he occasionally sat us down to listen to. This was our introduction to John Coltrane, Erik Sate, Bartok, as well as the Hawkwinds, Led Zeppelins and Syd Barrets of the world. At this early stage though, most of our interaction with music was being in the middle of live jams, travelling nomads in France, or hijacking the instruments during soundcheck at Dad’s shows. It wasn’t until we were 12 and 13 when our formal introduction to vinyl properly happened.

It was our sister’s new boyfriend. He drove an old-school Mini Cooper and had a hefty vinyl collection. His first offerings to us were Jurassic 5’s Concrete School Yard and Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters. Yes sister; we approve. They are still together today and Kevin actually does all of our artwork including that of the upcoming release, “In Flight.”

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Riot Fest 2014, Saturday, 9/13

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | If the atmospheric theme was rain and mud for Friday night at Riot Fest Chicago 2014, then Saturday was defined by buzzing yellow jackets. No, that’s not a punk band. There were bees everywhere! Bees nosediving into my beer. Bees chasing me around in circles. Bees getting trapped in my sunglasses while I’m trying to sing along the hilarious covers by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. These bees were like festival fence jumpers, but really…they just want to be near the action.

Die Antwoord was the first main stage act I saw on Saturday. Where do I even go with this one? It was arguably the loudest set of the entire weekend and also probably the only act backed by a DJ and not a band.

Instead of a variety of familiar guitar riffs or politically driven lyrics, Die Antwoord delivered multiple costume changes and proclamations from rapper, Ninja, about how big his dick is. If you can’t get into this super weird South African rape-rave duo’s record, I don’t blame you. But watching their music videos or seeing them live is worth it. It will be strange, you might get scared and pee your pants a tiny bit—but hey, why do something if it doesn’t scare you, right?

A sizable crowd showed up for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and to some, proving that ska is still alive (even if it really isn’t…) They played crowd pleasers like, “Impression That I Get” and “The Rascal King.” They didn’t do their “essential” album, but they did do an essential song from the all-time classic movie, Clueless, “Someday I Suppose.”

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TVD UK

Turning Plates,
The TVD First Date

“My first record is a terribly cringe worthy confession to me now. I must have been 10 or so and my Mum bought me a second-hand recording of John Rutter’s “Gloria.” As this probably isn’t the norm for this site, a bit of background is probably needed.”

“I began my music education aged around 7 when I was entered by my mother into the Dunblane Cathedral choir. This was really the glory period of my music life as I was very lucky to have an excellent Treble voice that took me to sing at such hallowed classical music venues as Kings College in Cambridge and even once as a soloist for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

My Dad as always had a very extensive classical music collection on vinyl which made up the majority of my childhood relationship with vinyl. I remember the exciting pregnant pause between placing the needle and the soft noise before the first notes of a piece. I think that sense of anticipation and the feeling of listening to music at home being an event is something that’s sadly not a part of many people’s lives in the MP3 age. As with most things in life easy access tends to lead to a lack of reverence, and I think music is suffering from that now.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Pogues,
Peace & Love

Before I get to my review, a bit of stereotype slinging. About the Irish, who are oft said (you can ask anybody) to have produced the greatest drunken poets the world has ever seen. Here in the States, a drunk is a drunk is a drunk. In Ireland, if you believe the hype, every drunk is a poet and every poet is a drunk, and when the pubs close every last inebriated man, woman, and child who spills into the dimly lit street to stagger home or fall fecklessly into the filthy gutter is conjuring brilliant quatrains in their brain.

It’s obviously shite, and to the part of my lineage that is Irish (or is it Scottish, who knows?) offensive even, but I do believe the Irish harbor a romantic soul and love their whiskey as much as they love a gift for high-blown (Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan, anybody?) speech. So just for argument’s sake, who is the greatest drunken Irish poet of them all? My vote goes to The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan, hands down.

He may be a spent force now; it’s been years since he wrote any new songs (that we’ve heard, anyway); his voice is every bit as much a ruin as the Acropolis; and the last time I saw him perform he hung precariously onto the microphone stand like a sailor clinging to the ratlines for dear life in the face of 90 mph typhoon winds. But the fact that he continues to draw breath at all is in itself a miracle.

I have done the math, and more whiskey has passed MacGowan’s lips over the course of his lifetime than was imbibed by F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Jones, Malcolm Lowry, and Dylan Thomas put together. Despite this dubious achievement, he has written some of the best poetry ever set to music, and has brought more happiness to mankind than a regimen of teetotalers.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Riot Fest 2014, Friday, 9/12

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | When I walk up to the gates on the first day of a music festival, I always feel like I’ve got stage fright—my hands get clammy and a knot forms in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I’m nervous security will find my secret flask or that some crazy forces of the universe will prevent me from seeing Patti Smith on Sunday. It is Riot Fest after all, and it is unlike any other festival you’ve been to all summer.

Expect the weather to be cool with a strong chance of rain, everyone will be wearing black, and pretty much all of the acts will have actual instruments to play. The layout was expanded to almost double the size of previous years allowing for much more music to be seen but also a lot of unexpected walking and weaving through the park. Also, this year, ten headliners and rock veterans like Cheap Trick, Naked Raygun, and Descendants, played their “essential” albums in 2014 to celebrate the fest’s 10th anniversary. It is only the third year for Chicago’s Humboldt Park to host, but the festival travels to Denver and Toronto too.

Our attempt at making it to the Stiff Little Fingers’ set was totally botched due to the massive amounts of walking in the mud, so we only caught the last few riffs of the set. NOFX was on afterwards and they came out making jokes about the other bands that were playing the fest and that they were going to play Pinkerton in its entirety, but out of order. (They actually played their essential album, Punk in Drublic.)

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TVD New York City

TVD Live: Life of Agony at Starland Ballroom, 9/13

 
In 1993, the world of heavy metal was in flux. Grunge had entered the scene and helped give birth to the “alternative metal” genre, one that tended to be an amalgamation of various metal styles. One of the commercially less successful but critically lauded bands, both by press and fans, was Brooklyn, New York’s Life of Agony.

Their debut album, River Runs Red, and its follow-up, 1995’s Ugly, contained some of the most raw, emotional, and harrowing lyrical content, coexisting with thick, heavy riffs that spanned styles from hardcore to slower sludge metal. After calling it quits in 1999, the band has reunited a couple of times and drifted back apart again. The time felt right once once more, and there was no venue more appropriate than the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey for the occasion.

 
We arrived at the venue, said a few hellos, and after a few conversations, acquired a perfect spot at stage right. The show, which had sold out very quickly, was packed tight with fans eager to witness the reunion. We arrived right after opener Diablo Blvd finished, but the feedback I heard from people during and after the show was very positive.

A Pale Horse Named Death was up next. Led by Sal Abruscato on vocals and guitar, he was pulling double duty for the night, as he’s also the drummer for Life of Agony. One interesting dynamic about APHND is that in the band are two former drummers of gothic metal legends Type O Negative—Sal, and Johnny Kelly who took over on the drums in Type O when Sal left to join Life of Agony in 1993. Looking on in the crowd during the set was Type O guitarist Kenny Hickey—tonight was a night of multiple reunions.

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