Tag Archives: Yo La Tengo

Ep. #240: A Way That’s Clear – Tortoise & The Making of ‘The Catastrophist’

Over the past 20 years, Tortoise has honed a distinctive sound, spurred on by strange, synthetic tones, stunning guitar interplay, and an utterly unique and highly influential approach to playing and recording drums. Citizens of Chicago, they’ve absorbed that town’s rich history of noise and musical innovation, touching upon every genre in their abstract work, while always somehow sounding exactly like Tortoise.

For fans of the band, which is comprised of multi-instrumentalists Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire, and Jeff Parker, every new Tortoise record feels like some exciting departure. But there are things, both obvious and subtle, about The Catastrophist, their seventh full-length album released by Thrill Jockey Records, that will genuinely startle listeners who appreciate the storied quintet’s daring.

Here, McCombs and McEntire along with album collaborators, Todd Ritmann, and Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley discuss the history, making of, and future of The Catastrophist.


Related playlist: “The Catastrophist” Tortoise | “Ox Duke” Tortoise | Music from the Score of Lovely Molly by Tortoise | “Wonder” Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble | “Thunder Road” Tortoise & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy | “Hope For Happiness” Soft Machine | “Rock On” David Essex | “Rock On” Tortoise | “Yonder Blue” Tortoise | “Hello Stranger” Brenda Lee | “Tesserect” Tortoise | “At Odds with Logic” Tortoise | “Gopher Island” Tortoise | “Shake Hands with Danger” Tortoise

Related links: trts.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #144: Man Forever

John Colpitts is a prolific and skilled percussionist based in New York City. Also known as Kid Millions, he’s a founding member of the Brooklyn-based band Oneida who are acclaimed for their euphoric, propulsive, and open-ended rock sound. Over the past four years, Colpitts has been exploring the outer limits of drums under the moniker Man Forever, which often finds him working with notable musicians, starting improvised drum kit circles, and touring the world. His latest release is a collaboration with New York ensemble So Percussion. It’s called Ryonen, it’s out now via Thrill Jockey Records, and has prompted Man Forever to tour different parts of the world, including China, where he has a few shows this week. Here, John and I discuss living in the distinctive area that is Queens New York, Ramones, Ryonen and Wordless Music and connecting with So Percussion, going beyond indie-rock, the two Ryonen tracks “The Clear Realization” and “Ryonen” and why he doesn’t remember what the lyrics are for the former, meditating on detachment, the sky above and drones and surveyors, humans not martians, the utterance of words in relation to the music being played, the thing is the thing, meditation parallels, distractions and drummers getting into the zone, Ryonen the naked girl and the disturbing Zen kōan about Ryonen, the relationship between Zen Buddhism and psychedelia, Music for Children, piano lessons with a terrible teacher, scales, dropping music, listening to Top 40 music until college, damn dirty hippies, how Oneida came to be in Brooklyn, the band Mongrel, Oneida never broke up, I keep missing John in Ontario, where Man Forever came from, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, Ulrich Krieger, playing with Yo La Tengo on TV, working with Jim Sauter of pioneering noise band Borbetomagus, playing with the Boredoms in Japan, Oneida is making an album with Rhys Chatham and one of their own too, a People of the North EP called Judge a Man by His Fruits, the record John is making with Bry Webb, the song “The Clear Realization,” and nothing more.

Related links: twitter.com/ManForeverUSA thrilljockey.com vishkhanna.com


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Ep. #93: Ought

Ought is a young punk band based in Montreal that consists of keyboardist Matt May, bassist Ben Stidworthy, drummer and violinist Tim Keen, and vocalist and guitarist Tim Beeler. The band formed in 2012 but have already honed a distinctive and explosive sound, which is captured beautifully on their debut LP, More Than Any Other Day. With its mix of righteous but mischievous poetry and charging music and dramatic vocals, Ought have conjured one of the most refreshing and inspiring rock records of the year. More Than Any Other Day is out April 29 via Constellation Records and here all of us chat about the band’s living arrangements, its impact on their music and how such arrangements might have made sense for the Jesus Lizard, why they chose to conduct this interview (the band’s third) as a group and what that says about the nature of their collaboration, how Ought might ba “new metal” band, the conscientiously democratic nature of their creative process, how this band came together in Montreal, landing on the same page without saying a thing, how Ought is not a ‘genre band’ but maybe Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth have seeped their way into the sound in some ways, Australia and a lazy reference to crocodiles, lyrics and poetry and whole milk and Jonathan Richman, righteousness and irreverence, the influence Montreal has had on Ought, student protests and how the feelings they conjure can infiltrate a band’s music, how the ‘you’s’ and ‘I’s’ in Ought’s songs are generally quite indirect pronouns, the making of More Than Any Other Day and what’s next, the video for “The Weather Song,” the song “Gemini,” and not one more thing.

Related links: cstrecords.org/ought vishkhanna.com


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