Ground breaking arrangements from NYC's next big thing.
New York City's Earthquake Lights is a band to keep an eye on because of their blend of heavy guitars and soft tones.
The boys in the band are: Myles Rodenhouse, Cameron Underhill, Evan Douaihy, James, DiGirolamo, and Stephen Helms. Their debut album, Distress Signals, was recorded at Douglass Studios in Brooklyn, and Abbey Road, and is slated to drop early next year.
Due to the band's unique take on modern rock, including jazz and classical influences, Popdust spoke with Earthquake Lights to discover the source of their muse.
Earthquake Lights - Choke 'em Up - Live at Douglass Recording youtu.be
How would you describe yourself?
We would definitely call ourselves a rock band, plain and simple! We look up to bands like Radiohead and Grizzly Bear, and really feel that we make music in that style.
What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?
As a band, we're pretty tame. We used to rehearse secretly on campus when we weren't supposed to be there and Myles got banned from it. Not so off the wall but that's all we got!
What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?
Belt is maybe not the right word - but croon in the shower is for sure a specialty. I like to sing old Sinatra tunes in the shower - that guy knew what to do. Maybe, "Fly Me to the Moon."
Who is your favorite music artist?
Picking a favorite artist is really tough. We all like a lot of different artists and what we're spinning changes a lot. Honestly it would be tough to even pick a favorite genre!
How did you get started in music? What's the backstory there?
Most of us grew up playing instruments, but we really got started as a band at college. Our individual focuses before then had been spread to classical, jazz, and rock. Cam primarily played Sax! Cam and Myles grew up in the same town, and the others all met through Jazz rehearsals at college.
What musicians influenced you the most?
There are the obvious influences like Radiohead, The Who, and Beck. But a lot of the material on the upcoming record is really influenced by Jazz records. Think of arrangements on records by Frank Sinatra and Joao Gilberto, Robert Glaspar, Miles Davis. Those recordings had a pretty tremendous impact on our sound.
How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?
We take a lot of inspiration specifically from arrangements and harmonic structure. All of our melodies and progressions are painstakingly constructed from scratch, but the colors we use, upper chord structure harmony stuff, and strings and brass sections (which play a huge role on the upcoming LP) are inspired by jazz legends and rock greats. Our recording aesthetic is also massively influenced by Nigel Godrich productions.
What kind of guitar do you play? And why? What kind of drums and cymbals does your drummer play?
Steve actually plays snare drums that he designed and made himself, you can see one of his snares in this live video in fact. They're really awesome! Evan plays a PRS, which has a more midrange weight to it that works well for his lead guitar lines, and the neck lends itself to more delicate and complicated playing. Myles plays a Telecaster which he had outfitted with a humbucker at the bridge, so he can get a pretty huge sound from it through his Vox amp for rhythm stuff, without getting in the way of everyone else.
How did the band get together?
Myles and Steve were roommates in college, and they started recording covers and running recording experiments together. Eventually they had Cam join them for what became the first EQL recordings, which Steve showed to Jim and Evan to recruit to the group. Then we started writing and rehearsing on campus before making our first EP at Perfect Sound in LA.
What inspired your forthcoming album Distress Signals?
Distress Signals draws a lot of inspiration from themes of the ocean. The name is from codes and signals which are sent out in time of distress (as you might have guessed). Think "mayday" and Morse code. A lot of the artwork takes inspiration from bold shapes found on flags or raised on masts for communication at sea. The theme fits the emotional content of the record well. Pretty dark and moody!
"Choke 'Em Up" opens on a dark and dirty guitar with beau coup impact. How did the song come about?
"Choke em Up" was originally an experiment with a new guitar setup that felt like it would lend itself to this sort of blues thing. It just started as a simple groove that felt right for that sound. Never meant to take it too far, but after a few friends commented on liking the direction, we decided to just take it to the finish line and rock a bluesy riff song! But really, it was just designed to have fun with distorted guitars.
Who produced the album and are you happy with how it turned out?
The record was produced by Myles' older brother Jake, and Myles. Jake runs a recording studio in West Hollywood, called Perfect Sound. Myles got his start there and later opened Douglass Recording in Brooklyn. Together we put together the team for the record through contacts we made at each studio. We're really proud of the record, and we can't wait to share it and start to bring more attention to some of the amazing ensembles that we enlisted to help us. Especially the string group recorded at Abbey Road, they sound perfect!
What is it that makes Earthquake Lights different from other bands?
Earthquake Lights is much more painfully cerebral and perfectionist than a lot of bands. We really spend time with our tunes and have interest in styles of music that aren't as accessible to the average listener. Not that we're insanely educated or monster players or anything, but we try to make real music and have spent time learning to play together. It's not so much production focused, much more arrangement and harmonically focused.
Will you be doing any touring?
Yes! We're playing a few live stream shows with some friends at the start of the year, but we'll be playing a string of regional shows when the record releases in spring. We'll be promoting them and hitting our mailing list up with info as they approach.
Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.