Author Archives: Jennifer Carney

Chris Robinson:
The TVD Interview

Unashamedly psychedelic, proggy and weird, retro yet modern,  Chris Robinson is a latter day icon of that place and time where cosmic rock began. His latest album with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Phosphorescent Harvest, is his third in two years, following hot on the heels of a 2013 Black Crowes reunion tour and coinciding with that iconic band’s 25th anniversary. It’s true that Robinson is best known as the frontman for the Black Crowes (who are again on hiatus), but his is the kind of relentless energy that keeps him from locking into any one band or project or sound, and making sell-outs (by default) of many of his peers. 

So, you haven’t seen or heard of the Brotherhood? That’s all right. Their latest tour officially kicks off on April 29, coinciding with the release of Phosphorescent Harvest. (You can hear new songs from the album before its official release via Billboard and Rolling Stone.) In other words, this is the perfect time to get acquainted with the band who, somehow, make the acid-rock music beloved by so many sound fresh and electrifying.

“The best perspective I have on what’s going on in my life—good and bad—is what comes out in the songs,” says Robinson. When we talked with him, Chris was standing outside of yet another venue, tour manager tapping his watch as he talked vinyl, the Brotherhood, and the state of music as he sees it. The rocker is perpetually on the road, logging 230 Brotherhood gigs since 2011. Yet his enthusiasm about his music and his connection with his band and his fans is what’s at the core of his prolonged popularity, and is what makes the California band a rootsy, trippy, utterly magnetic live act. 

Hey, are you The Vinyl District with the record store app?

Yes, we’re one and the same! You like it?

I really do like the app. I mean, you know, once you’ve been going to record stores for a long time, you can pretty much figure out… like, I know which ones I need to go to and which ones I don’t need to go to.

The one and only time I’ve seen you live was with Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes. I caught one of the only tour dates before he cancelled for some reason – hurt his back or something?

No… When we made the record, that was only like a handful of dates. We did the whole South and East Coast and Midwest; we did a lot of shows. It was just that last leg that we didn’t finish—I think! I could be totally wrong about that—I don’t know! [Laughs]

You’ve always seemed like a rock star from a different time. More accurately, you seem like you’ve always been really “into” music—like someone who spent afternoons looking for obscure records.

Yeah, I was always more into music than being a rock star. You think you’ve entered some exclusive thing, and then you look around and you’re like… “Oh, there’s a band called Ugly Kid Joe,” you know what I mean? They had a one-hit record. Anything that was more about money or being cool or whatever, and less about music, was not interesting to me. I was not interested at all. I was that way as a kid. That’s the only thing from my useful self that I reminisce about. [Laughs]

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Steve Hackett,
The TVD Interview

“Light industrial heavy metal, that’s me!” says Steve Hackett with a laugh. Progressive rock has always been about contradictions like this. “Progressing” in this genre has meant looking to the past and synthesizing it with the present to create music of the future. In this synthesis, the familiar becomes an unexpected adventure. And Hackett is more certain than ever that in order to undertake this adventure, one has to continue to look back in order to move forward. That’s the impetus behind the virtuoso musician’s Genesis Extended tour which commences at The Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday, (3/26) in Washington, DC.

The Genesis Extended tour embodies the contradictions that continue to make progressive rock so compelling. Genesis Revisited II, the follow-up to 1996’s Watcher of the Skies: Genesis Revisited, forms the lion’s share of the music featured on the new tour. These are “test tube baby” versions of Genesis songs that bring new life to the music from his tenure as lead guitarist for Nursery Cryme-through-Seconds Out-era Genesis (with a few songs outside that era included at fans’ requests). Hackett endeavors to give fans a true Genesis experience and, thanks to his unflagging perfectionism, that’s exactly what he delivers. 

But why does Hackett continue to carry the “classic” Genesis torch after an acrimonious departure from the band over thirty-five years ago? For Hackett, it’s just about honoring the music and his role in creating it. Talking with Hackett just days before the US leg of Genesis Extended tour begins, he spoke with us about the prodigious talents he assembled for the concerts, the way fan interactions have shaped the music, and why authenticity is just about the most important thing to him these days. 

As I was getting ready to talk to you, I remembered back to college, and how my male friends were surprised that I was into progressive rock as much as they were.

It’s funny, it is the denizen mainly of males of a certain age, isn’t it? That’s something that I never quite understood but, nevertheless, that’s the way it is.

I’ve never quite understood that either. I’ve observed the trend among jazz fans as well.

Somebody proposed a theory to me many years ago: the more notes, the less women were interested. [Laughs]

You grew up influenced by classical music and opera, elements of which found their way into your music and into progressive rock in general. When I was first introduced to progressive rock, I imagined that it one day would be performed like the great classical works are. Is that sort of what you had in mind with Genesis Revisited and Genesis Extended?

Well, it’s funny. Despite ourselves and our best efforts to put off as many people as possible in the early days, I think [progressive rock] music has seemed to have survived. It’s gone through many reinterpretations; it’s certainly borrowed from enough forms—from opera to pantomime and then back again—so many influences, so many different kinds of music… I’m thrilled and delighted that it’s survived. I always say that with the stuff I do live—the star of the show is really the music. It seems to survive lots of different interpretations by different line-ups; Genesis itself, of course, is a band—or was a band—that went through many different incarnations. As to whether it’s the classical music of the future, we’ll just have to be around in two hundred years to find out! It’s survived much longer than I thought; we just imagined that we were being as competitive as the next band on the block, and that it would be forgotten pretty quickly.

Here was the latest offering—the latest humble offering—and to have it lauded and praised to the skies now is a very happy accident indeed, but nonetheless it is an accident. Because all music is a shot in the dark. It’s all a big experiment, at the end of the day, to see if it’s going to stick in any way. No one has really got the crystal ball for all of this.

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Paul Rodgers:
The TVD Interview

We are besieged by rock stars who can’t move beyond their hits. Thank goodness that Paul Rodgers is no such rock star. Sure, if you listen to classic rock radio you’ll hear his iconic vocals whenever Clear Channel decides to play the same handful of (utterly classic) Bad Company or Free hits. But this is a rocker whose recent career has been occupied by “passion projects” focused on those who inspired him. That coupled with a selective touring schedule has not only kept his voice in its arena rock form, but has also kept him from falling into the creative morass of the “oldies” circuit. 

His latest “passion project” is his first studio LP since 2000: The Royal Sessions. Recorded at Memphis’ iconic Royal Studios, The Royal Sessions is more than an homage to Stax Records artists like Otis Redding, Albert King, and Sam & Dave; for Rodgers, it is an honest and analog account of following inspiration despite all other plans.

Rodgers was in the midst of recording a long-awaited album of original songs when the opportunity to record at Royal Studios presented itself. The Royal Sessions’ authentic, reverent feel that is due in no small part to the roster of Memphis studio musician veterans, some of whom played on the very recordings that Rodgers honors on The Royal Sessions. (Did we mention it’s available on 200 gram vinyl, too?)

His love of the Memphis sound and the serendipitous way the album came about further inspired him to give back to the city that made the music that inspired his own music. To that end, all proceeds raised by sales of The Royal Sessions will be donated to the Stax Music Academy, which provides music education programs to children in inner-city Memphis. It’s a feel-good record all around. Rodgers certainly thinks so, and was thrilled to talk about its analog recording, his surprise at having a number one album in 2014, and the excitement that an artist feels when they’re onto something truly authentic. 

When did you know you had this VOICE?

Well, I felt I could be a singer at a very early age; I think I must have been about thirteen or fourteen. I started life playing the bass, and I used to just sing harmonies and things with my good friend Colin Bradley back in those days.

And then one day, for some reason they asked me to sing a Little Richard song—“Long Tall Sally” I think it was, or “Good Golly, Miss Molly” perhaps. And I felt then that I could sing this…that I could do this thing called “singing.” The other time, actually, which made me think about singing…we used to do a Solomon Burke song called “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.” [Starts singing the song.] I used to take the bass off and sing that one, and I used to get a real kick out of that. I think it was during those times that I sort of graduated from playing the bass and focusing just on singing. So, it goes back a long way.

You’re from northeast England. How did where you grew up shape your musical influences?

Well, I was born in Middlesbrough, which at that time was a very heavily industrialized area. There was shipbuilding, steelworks, and chemicals. It’s very much changed now, as a lot of the shipbuilding and steelworks have moved to other parts of the world; the chemical works are still there. But, when I was growing up, it was quite a gritty place. There were a lot of toxins floating about in the air, and the chemical works—we called them “the works”—was the place that you were expected to go once you left school. My school was about three or four stories high, and I used to look out from my classroom on the top floor and I could see all “the works” and the smoke belching out of it. I used to think, “Oh my God, is that where I’m going? Is that the only way?” [Laughs]

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The Best of the
TVD Interview 2013:
Graham Nash

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 | Victor Hugo once said that music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. When searching for ways to talk about the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young without saying what has already been said many times over, it was that quote that felt most apt. Each song is a gem, each gem is a story, and each story became part of so many lives. 

Graham Nash, writer of many of those gems, has always been known for his candor. His memoir, Wild Tales (out September 17), is an unflinchingly honest yet sympathetic telling of a musical life and the many immense talents who surrounded him. Sure, it’s full of the kind of decadent rock and roll stories you might expect—the (un)usual sex and drugs and in-fighting. But what sets Wild Tales apart from most rock star memoirs is that there’s a sort of kinship one feels with Nash while reading his stories of excess, burnout, and explosive personalities.

Perhaps that’s because Graham Nash grew up in poverty, and never lost sight of what that meant and never forgot those who encouraged him along the way. Nash writes from the perspective of nearly fifty years on, but he remembers it all, including where he came from and, of course, where he’s gotten to go. In his book and in our interview, the gratitude he feels for his life is obvious. He takes readers from a dreary Northern England council estate to a life of fulfilled dreams in music, photography (Nash is a digital fine art printing pioneer) and philanthropy.

“There are a lot of perks to being a rock star, and once we all got straightened out, we were able to enjoy them,” Nash writes. On the eve of a rare solo tour, he reflected on over five decades of wild tales for The Vinyl District. 

One of the things I loved about Wild Tales is that I felt like I was reading about a friend who “made it” from public housing to stardom through this incredible passion for music. It made everything seem normal and fantastic at the same time.

That’s pretty much how my life was—it was pretty normal, but fantastic at the same time! I’ve had an incredible life. When I got to the end of the manuscript, I looked down at the pages and said, “Holy shit! I wish I was here!” [Laughs]

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The Best of the
TVD Interview 2013:
Brian Wilson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 1, 2013 | “Some people say I’m a genius like Gershwin. I don’t know if I’m as good as Gershwin, but I know I’m good at music, you know?”

The public forgives everything but genius, or so the saying goes. But that doesn’t account for Brian Wilson. Few rock stars have endured the prolonged tragedy that followed Wilson throughout his career, and fewer still have enjoyed the kind of creative resurgence which lifted one of the greatest American songwriters out from under decades-long descents into addiction and mental illness. That’s the power of genius for you.

The 71-year-old Wilson is experiencing a creative reawakening that began in earnest with his live performances of his opus, Pet Soundsin 2002. When he finally completed the long-shelved Pet Sounds follow-up as Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE in 2004, the musical floodgates opened again. The formerly (and notoriously) reclusive Beach Boys co-founder has been more prolific in the last decade than he has been since his brilliant ‘60s heyday, releasing six albums since 2004, with a seventh on its way.

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The Best of the TVD Interview 2013: Julian Lennon

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 6, 2013 | Forget what you think you know about Julian Lennon right now. He has a name, sure, but he’s followed the muse in and out of his father’s long shadow into photography, philanthropy and, naturally, music. 

His sometimes contentious relationship with John Lennon’s legacy has yielded mixed results over the years—and he would probably be the first to admit that—but Julian is far past worrying about what critics think. He’s been happy to attend to his creativity and his conscience in his own ways. Right now it’s all about his photography (his photos are being met with critical acclaim at prestigious galleries around the world) and his latest album, Everything Changes, which is due out in the US on June 4. 

Everything Changes marks the end of a fifteen years hiatus from music, and the fifty-year-old Lennon is using it as an opportunity reacquaint himself with his songwriting. The single, “Someday,” is a thoughtful, socially-conscious ballad—featuring Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler—that sets the tone for the next chapter in a quietly remarkable life.

A documentary is also forthcoming, giving Julian the chance not so much to “set the record straight,” but to let the world see what it’s really been like to be Julian Lennon. We chatted with him about this as well as the new album, his many artistic passions and, of course, what’s in his record collection. 

It’s been a while between your last album, Photograph Smile, and your upcoming one Everything Changes. What made you decide to come back to music?

Well, to me it never goes away, really. But also I get restless if I just do the same thing all the time; my mind wanders too much. I feel I’ve always been a creative person, and so for a while I was involved, and still am, in restaurants because I love food. I’m a foodie on crack! If I actually hadn’t been a muso or, now, a photographer I’d have been a chef—no question about it. I was doing lots of other projects and, slowly but surely, ideas creep back into my mind. Melodies will come into my head and I’ll go, “Oh, I quite like that! Maybe I should play around with that!”

And slowly but surely, after extensive periods of time away from music, it tends to all flood back. Then it’s a question of working with those ideas. Some I can finish off at the time, some I have partial finished songs… and how it’s worked over the last few years, especially, is many of my friends are great players and great singers and great writers. And so, if they come by for the weekend or whatever, I’ll say “Have a listen to this, see if you can spark any ideas—either from yourself or by giving me other ideas.” And then one thing leads to another and you’ve got a finished song. After having enough for a couple of albums worth, I just decided to chop it all down to what I felt were the fourteen strongest. Voila—there you go! It’s as simple as that in many respects.

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The Best of the
TVD Interview 2013: Pegi Young

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MARCH 21, 2013 | Could you dismiss Pegi Young as having a charmed musical life? I suppose so.

But Young’s third LP, Bracing For Impact, is an album from a woman who’s long past her first tentative steps out into the musical world. Her music is as confident as it is introspective, and Young’s skillful songwriting makes the listener wonder which songs are really tongue-in-cheek, because they all reach deeper. The transitions are seamless, and even the three songs not penned by Pegi Young (including one by her husband, Neil) fit in perfectly with the theme of survival with a smile.

Ghosts abound—from the beautiful pedal steel of the late Ben Keith, to a sad song of Danny Whitten’s, to the playful spirit of her departed dog, Carl. And still Impact is unflagging in its storytelling, embracing the tragedy and the unintentional comedy alike. It’s just life, after all. However charmed it might seem for some, there’s always another shoe waiting to drop. But we move on, we create, we laugh through the anguish and stress. Pegi Young puts it all into perspective beautifully with Bracing for Impact.

Pegi and her band of legendary musicians, The Survivors, embark on a tour today (March 21) that will include dates with Willie Nelson and an appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. As I quickly discovered in our conversation, Pegi Young is herself the archetypal musician: she loves touring, loves collaborating, and loves her vinyl.


Bracing For Impact has lots of different musical elements—rock, Dixieland stuff—and maybe more blues and R&B than your previous records. Are these some of your favorite genres, or did the songs just work out the way they did?

I mean, kind of “yes” to all the above. When we brought in Kelvin Holly as lead guitar player in the band after Anthony Crawford left, he had fifteen years of experience playing with Little Richard, so y’know, he’s a solidly R&B guy. And, of course, with Spooner Oldham in the band, we also got the great Muscle Shoals sound. So, the songs ended up kind of lending themselves to that sound.

I think the Dixieland band sound you’re referring to was on “Trouble in a Bottle” and that was our drummer Phil Jones’ idea. We were recording in LA and he had a horn section down there that he knew… we just sort of heard that. And that was an older song, but we re-worked it a little bit, gave it a different tempo. We recorded it a different way back with the other band before Ben Keith passed away and Anthony Crawford left the band, so we kind of perked it up and then it sort of lent itself to the Dixieland band sound. A lot of it was kind of a collaborative effort when we were in there recording, just thinking, “What would sound cool here?”

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The Best of the TVD Interview 2013: Ken Stringfellow

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JANUARY 17, 2013To say that Ken Stringfellow is intense is an understatement. The co-founder of The Posies is relentlessly honest, self-critical, and he’s released one of the finest under-the-radar albums of the previous year, Danzig in the Moonlight. He says it’s his best work, and it’s hard to disagree with him. The album’s great strength lies in its diversity, which is a virtue the multifaceted Stringfellow takes to heart. Danzig is a masterful collection of songs, from power pop to the blues to soul to country, woven together by Stringfellow’s sage storytelling and set to his distinctive, otherworldly vocals.

Despite an eight-year break between solo albums, the music never stopped for Ken. He has been in constant collaboration with artists worldwide, from Norwegian garage rockers to Dutch film stars to R.E.M. to a re-formed Big Star. Currently residing in France, Stringfellow is Stateside through early spring on tour–first with The Posies at the Todos Santos Music Festival, then with The Maldives as his backing band before crossing the country solo. When TVD spoke with him, we got a glimpse into the thoughts of an artist who is ambitious, unapologetic, and one of the most unique singer/songwriters of the last three decades. 

I am wondering how I escaped 2012 without listening to Danzig in the Moonlight. You’ve said it’s your creative apex and that you want it to be heard by “everyone, everywhere, as soon as possible.” I get that, but I’d love to hear why you feel it’s so important to you.

Well, I think because of the amount of information that’s out there in the world, people have a lot to sort through. Often, and this has been true even before the information age, people sometimes go with what’s easy. They go with preconceived notions or they go with hearsay; few people ever have the time or the access to information to get really in-depth into something. Any musician, and this is true even for the biggest at the top, there might be someone out there who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

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Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie Talks Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore,
The TVD Interview

Jerry Shirley was just seventeen years old when Steve Marriott plucked him out of (you can’t make these things up) a Small Faces cover band and asked him to play drums for Humble Pie. It was a brief, beautiful, rock and roll dream come true for Shirley and bandmates Peter Frampton (who was himself only eighteen at the time), Greg Ridley, and Marriott. Their hard-edged sound blended snarling R&B with precocious musicianship that overshadowed headliners, enthralled audiences, and set the tone for what hard rock would become.

Back when live albums could make a band, Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore made Humble Pie. Rockin’ the Fillmore captured their intense energy so well that it quickly went gold. The original LP was essentially a sampler of songs from several raucous shows at the legendary Fillmore East. But our friends at Omnivore Recordings turned Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore into a remastered box set that includes the seven original songs and fifteen previously unreleased performances (including the entire first show, none of which made it onto the original LP).

The remastering of Rockin’ the Fillmore was supervised by Shirley and Peter Frampton, and the result is a spectacular experience. In our conversation with Jerry Shirley, he talks about the legendary album, why he thinks the Fillmore East is so iconic, and what it was like to be part of one of the most underrated yet most influential hard rock bands of all time.  

You were discovered playing in a Small Faces cover band by Steve Marriott. What was it like to be “discovered” by your hero?

It was wonderful, obviously. What was really strange about it, and this is not anything but the truth, but I’d actually dreamed that what happened…happened! I had a dream that I was opening up for them, they watched me from the side of the stage, and they smiled and gave me the “thumbs up.” After the show, they came up to me and said, “If ever Kenney (Jones) gets sick, you could be the stand-in.” I swear to you the next night… I found out after a little while that we had got a job opening up for [The Small Faces] and what I dreamed exactly happened. I found out years later that my father had a little bit of a hand in it, in as much as he was actually helping the guy promote the show. He was a local promoter who needed help booking a hall or something.

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Henry Diltz:
The TVD Interview

Henry Diltz is making tea in his North Hollywood studio. His mid-century digs are filled with stacks of photography books and boxes of negatives, vinyl records, and box sets. One wall is filled with neatly labeled little drawers, each filled with hundreds of slides. Each drawer has a label like “Tom Waits” or “The Eagles” or “Neil Young.” It’s a photographic card catalog of rock and roll. 

Henry Diltz got his start as a photographer serendipitously; he would say it was the result of many “happy accidents.” As a member of the Modern Folk Quartet during the folk revival of the late ‘50s, Diltz toured the country with the group and played the same clubs as Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, John Sebastian, and many, many other early rock ‘n’ roll luminaries. A random purchase of a thrift store camera—and one scrapped Phil Spector-produced record later—and Diltz found himself taking photos of his musician friends instead of sharing stages with them. That drastic change of career trajectory never phased Diltz; the guy is impossible to discourage.

The tea is ready, and he smiles excitedly as he sets the cup down. When I arrived, he was going through a proof of an Australian magazine that’s publishing several of his photos:

“Here’s Keith [Richards] and Ron [Wood] on a Lear jet… Here’s The Doors at the Hard Rock Café in downtown LA. Tom Waits… two Neil Young shots…” He’s about as nonchalant as someone who has a digital Rolodex of legendary rock stars can be.

“There’s Michael Jackson… then Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, then Stephen Stills and Mick Jagger in Amsterdam…”

Times may have changed, but Diltz’ photos remain an archive not just of rock royalty, but an archive of the man’s sense of fun and his pure enjoyment of life. While his iconic works can be found at the Morrison Hotel Gallery (of which Diltz is part-owner), he remains active and still shoots album covers and portraits. But most of his photography now is focused on his artistic whims, like photographing series of things like hearts he finds out in the world, or fire hydrants, or beautiful tattoos.

Our candid chat covers a wide swath of his career, his early experiences, and his cheery outlook on life. It’s hard to know where to begin and end with Henry, as he’s the kind of artist who makes everything memorable. 

photo-small

I have to settle a bet before we start. I bet a friend that you were the one who played banjo at the end of “Bluebird.” He said you didn’t.

[Laughs] He’s right, I didn’t  I played banjo on “Elusive Butterfly” by Bob Lind. [Sings a bit of it] It was a hit in the ‘60s; and “Don’t Cross the River” by America. You can hear me tinkling away in the background.

No kidding! That’s how you had an “in” with these guys, because you were a musician like they were, not just some photographer.

Yes, right!

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Alice Russell:
The TVD Interview

Alice Russell doesn’t seem to stop. Ever. It’s easy to lose count of her albums and EPs, but it’s hard to forget that voice. The UK-born soul singer lays herself bare through her music, encouraging countless remixes and interpretations mere weeks after a studio album drops. She is a tireless and passionate songwriter whose latest studio album, To Dust, is a collection of emotionally intense neo-soul songs that both break your heart, get you mad, and make you want to get up and dance.

Hot on the heels of an August EP, “For a While,” Alice will kick off a US tour supporting Midnight at the Beverly Laurel, the latest remix of To Dust. Eight different artists collaborated on the record, which Alice dearly loves.

Collaborations and remixes as much part of her catalog as her studio albums, but she is most excited right now about performing live–especially in the US. “I like to come and soak up that energy before I come back and do a Euro tour!” Alice kicked off a second 2013 North American tour on October 5 in Washington D.C. at the Howard Theater, and will be criss-crossing the country and Canada all month long.

Alice chatted with us just before she embarked for the States, and she had lots to say about her musical collaborations, why performing live inspires her so, and her true love for  the LP.

I’ve often felt like you Brits do American music better than Americans. Do you think that’s the case?

Aw… I think we’ve just been sort of ping-ponging music over the pond to each other, and then sort of digesting it and throwing it back. I feel like, yeah, we’ve always looked over to you guys and then sometimes it comes back here and then… a little game of tennis or something! [Laughs]

It seems like that’s been going on for decades, and it’s interesting how that trend seems to continue.

Yeah, and all over, really—Australia, New Zealand—it’s really great. I think everything’s just so global now. You can get hold of music from places that you never thought you’d hear music from. I think it’s a cool time at the moment.

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Brian Wilson:
The TVD Interview

“Some people say I’m a genius like Gershwin. I don’t know if I’m as good as Gershwin, but I know I’m good at music, you know?”

The public forgives everything but genius, or so the saying goes. But that doesn’t account for Brian Wilson. Few rock stars have endured the prolonged tragedy that followed Wilson throughout his career, and fewer still have enjoyed the kind of creative resurgence which lifted one of the greatest American songwriters out from under decades-long descents into addiction and mental illness. That’s the power of genius for you.

The 71-year-old Wilson is experiencing a creative reawakening that began in earnest with his live performances of his opus, Pet Soundsin 2002. When he finally completed the long-shelved Pet Sounds follow-up as Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE in 2004, the musical floodgates opened again. The formerly (and notoriously) reclusive Beach Boys co-founder has been more prolific in the last decade than he has been since his brilliant ‘60s heyday, releasing six albums since 2004, with a seventh on its way.

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Graham Nash:
The TVD Interview

Victor Hugo once said that music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. When searching for ways to talk about the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young without saying what has already been said many times over, it was that quote that felt most apt. Each song is a gem, each gem is a story, and each story became part of so many lives. 

Graham Nash, writer of many of those gems, has always been known for his candor. His memoir, Wild Tales (out September 17), is an unflinchingly honest yet sympathetic telling of a musical life and the many immense talents who surrounded him. Sure, it’s full of the kind of decadent rock and roll stories you might expect—the (un)usual sex and drugs and in-fighting. But what sets Wild Tales apart from most rock star memoirs is that there’s a sort of kinship one feels with Nash while reading his stories of excess, burnout, and explosive personalities.

Perhaps that’s because Graham Nash grew up in poverty, and never lost sight of what that meant and never forgot those who encouraged him along the way. Nash writes from the perspective of nearly fifty years on, but he remembers it all, including where he came from and, of course, where he’s gotten to go. In his book and in our interview, the gratitude he feels for his life is obvious. He takes readers from a dreary Northern England council estate to a life of fulfilled dreams in music, photography (Nash is a digital fine art printing pioneer) and philanthropy.

“There are a lot of perks to being a rock star, and once we all got straightened out, we were able to enjoy them,” Nash writes. On the eve of a rare solo tour, he reflected on over five decades of wild tales for The Vinyl District. 

One of the things I loved about Wild Tales is that I felt like I was reading about a friend who “made it” from public housing to stardom through this incredible passion for music. It made everything seem normal and fantastic at the same time.

That’s pretty much how my life was—it was pretty normal, but fantastic at the same time! I’ve had an incredible life. When I got to the end of the manuscript, I looked down at the pages and said, “Holy shit! I wish I was here!” [Laughs]

Looking back on your life through the book, is there anything that you wish you could have done differently along the way?

I don’t believe so. I pretty much covered what I wanted people to know about me. You know, there are obviously a thousand more stories, but you’ve got to end it somewhere, you know? [Laughs]

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: TV on the Radio “Million Miles” Exclusive Test Pressings

We’ve got the rarest of rarities, TV on the Radio fans. Exclusive, one-off vinyl test pressings. Four of ‘em, with unreleased tracks and new singles for four lucky winners. And we’re the only ones who have ‘em.

The Brooklyn indie rockers are busy in the studio for the next few weeks working on a new release, but they wanted to give their fans a rare treat from the vault—vinyl test pressings of  unreleased outtakes PLUS their two new singles, “Mercy” (out late July) and “Million Miles,” out just yesterday.

The test pressings were cut as 12″ EPs and come straight from the vaults of their label Federal Prism, right into our hands. (Good thing we’re a generous bunch…)

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Justin Hayward:
The TVD Interview

Justin Hayward is doing things a little differently right now. His new album, Spirits of the Western Sky, is his first in sixteen years and is still collecting warm reviews. He’s embarked on a rare solo tour to support it and fans are happily along for the ride. “It’s been very well received and they work beautifully as stage songs,” he tells us. “I’m very lucky.”

Hayward uses the word “lucky” to describe himself throughout our conversation with him. Most would use the words “supremely talented” and maybe “legendary,” but we won’t split hairs. While he’s reverent and grateful for his past, Spirits feels like a step into the future for Hayward, who continues to perform as frontman for proto-prog-rockers, The Moody Blues. The songwriting on Spirits departs from his Moodies past and explores some unexpected genres—most notably bluegrass and electronica—without losing the ethereal, melodic style that earned him his third Ivor Novello songwriting award in May.

Hayward reflected on his luck, his foray into the Nashville bluegrass scene, and he told us how the idea of  the western sky has always been part of his creative life. To our delight, he brought it back to vinyl in the end, too. We feel pretty lucky about that. 

In Search of the Lost Chord and Days of Future Passed were the first two vinyl records I ever bought myself, and that’s still my favorite way to listen to those albums. What made you decide to release Spirits of the Western Sky on vinyl as well as digitally and CD? Has vinyl become a new priority for you?

Yes, it is a priority because there are definitely people out there who feel exactly the same way. I’m not sure—I don’t have a preference; I don’t put one vinyl system or analog above digital, really. I know that when Universal asked me to re-master those first seven Moody Blues albums, I realized that the transfer to digital had been done in such a rush in the ’80s that it was really badly done. The vinyl was far superior for many years—I hope now that’s been rectified.

But as a thing to hold and to own, of course the vinyl was much nicer. I was kind of hoping when they did the transfer to digital that they’d keep the packaging the same and just put a little CD in the middle of a big sleeve. [Laughs] But that didn’t happen, so there you go.

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