Off the Record

All the fun fun fun that fits


Bring the Noise

Fun Fun Fun Fest moved to Auditorium Shores out of necessity. As reported here, Waterloo Park has closed for the Waller Creek Tunnel Project, a series of infrastructure renovations that will drastically alter the landscape of Red River (see "Off the Record," May 7, 2010). Yet, Transmission Entertainment has capitalized on the transition: negotiating with the city to secure a third day of events, securing off-site shuttle services to ease public transportation, and landing the fest's biggest headliners to date – Slayer, Public Enemy, and Spoon. "It's been a challenge productionwise, but in the long run it's putting us in a bigger and better location," says booker Graham Williams. FFF is also boldly expanding the festival experience. All four stages will be live-streamed through separate channels on, and for the first time, wristband purchases grant access to the FFF Nites aftershows (see Music Listings). "Larger festivals that sell out in advance have the luxury of being able to cherry-pick from their lineup and sell more tickets to the aftershows, but every time we do a night show with a band from the fest, that tips the scales a bit on people not going to the festival," relates Williams. "This way it's the best of both worlds."

Heavy Rock Hits

Boris is impossible to peg. The Japanese heavy-psych trio thrives in a state of blissful dissonance, subject to constant re-evaluation and reinvention as three new albums attest (see "Fun Fun Fun Platters"). OTR learned once again late Monday that Boris can be even more difficult to interview, a process confounded by a translator and the band's enigmatic drummer.

Off the Record: Why did Boris revisit the idea behind Heavy Rocks?

Atsuo: This is a very difficult question. In our minds, there's no concept of revisiting. When we make an album, the album meaning to us is what we experience. The next album that we're making is going to be way heavier than anything we've released.

OTR: How exactly were the new recordings influenced by Vocaloid [a singing synthesis software program popular in Japanese pop music]?

A: I was mentally shocked when I saw that. I had to ask myself, "What am I supposed to do as the core organic being?" New Album is the answer to that.

OTR: Starting with 2008's Smile, the Japanese and American versions differ substantially. Is that an attempt to cater to the different audiences?

A: The audience is always the same. It's the same album, but it has a different way of going through those different channels. It's changed for the pathway, not the listener.

OTR: Do you realize how expensive it is to be a serious Boris fan?

A: We never think of getting to the definitive place. We look forward to hearing things in new contexts. We want to enjoy the subtle differences between the recordings.

Fun Fun Fun Facts

• Having finished tracking Brownout's third album, guitarist Adrian Quesada has launched a Kickstarter campaign with Martin Perna to tour with Ocote Soul Sounds ( "We both feel it's time to get out there with the live band and push the music," says Quesada. "At the same time [we] can't really afford to lose money!"

Mars Volta mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez produced and released Le Butcherettes' debut, Sin Sin Sin; he's also handling bass duties on the current tour.

• Southwestern balladeers Crooks are recording a new album locally with Danny Reisch that will feature Texas Tornados' Flaco Jiménez.

Dan Deacon not only paid tribute to the Butthole Surfers at Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life concert, but the Baltimore-based electronic wizard also personally covered the costs – including an off-duty fireman – necessitated by his smoke machines.

Alan Palomo of Neon Indian remains hard-wired to Austin through his visual collaborator, former Switched On technician Lars Larsen, a visual electronics specialist that developed the modular video synthesizer LZX Visionary.

Black Joe Lewis recently appeared on Rockwiz, an Australian TV game show. Watch it here:

Matt Oliver of TV Torso records the majority of Daytrotter's Austin sessions at his Eastside studio, Big Orange. Recent local recordings include the Echocentrics, James McMurtry, and Hacienda.

• Los Angeles beat scientist Flying Lotus co-produced a short film, "Texas Jewels: The Making of Texas Thunder Soul," about Houston's Kashmere Stage Band, available on the reissue of Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974.

Lykke Li's Austin City Limits taping will be live-streamed on Facebook on Friday, Nov. 4, 8pm.

Mark Ryan's Mind Spiders (see "X-Ray Visions," Feb. 4) has finished a new album, tentatively titled Meltdown, featuring members of Bad Sports and High Tension Wires.

• As mentioned here last week, Slayer's Tom Araya guests in Jesse Dayton's forthcoming horror film, Zombex. "He's pretty much the only one that survives," slips Dayton.

Random Play

Chris Gray
Chris Gray (Photo by John Anderson)

Former Chronicle Music columnist Chris "TCB" Gray suffered a heart attack on Friday and was placed in an induced coma over the weekend. As of Monday evening, the current Houston Press Music Editor had been taken off a respirator, and he is currently recovering. While long-term effects were still unclear, his CAT scan came back normal, and he's exchanged some dialogue with family and close friends. In lieu of flowers, please send more U2 or Astros gear.

Last week, KGSR's Andy Langer uncovered marketing materials from Retail Solutions that describe La Zona Rosa to prospective tenants as a "prime retail location." Nate Paul of World Class Capital Group, the building's new owner, and Direct Events principal Tim O'Connor issued a joint statement confirming that the property had not yet been leased. Given Direct Events' diminished local presence (see "Big Dogs, Young Rebels, and Aging Giants," News, Oct. 8, 2010), can changes at the mostly empty Austin Music Hall be far behind?

Steven Stelmach, better known locally as Biff Parker, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Butler, Pa., on Monday from unknown natural causes. A former tour manager for the Reivers and the Wannabes, among others, Stelmach was a crucial component of South by Southwest, serving as community liaison for more than 20 years. "People loved him because he would see when you needed help, he wouldn't ask, he would just start helping," wrote SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson. For more remembrances, see

The sixth annual HAAM Benefit Day on Oct. 4 set new records across the board as 170 bands and 215 local businesses helped raise $235,000 for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

Before this Friday's showcase application deadline, South by Southwest confirmed its first batch of performers. Highlights include Against Me!, the Men, and the Wedding Present.

The grandest spectacle in recent rock concert history, Roger Waters' The Wall tour, is scheduled for construction at the Frank Erwin Center in May 2012. Tickets go on sale Monday, Nov. 14, at 10am. For a primer, see "Comfortably Numb," Earache! Music blog, Nov. 23, 2010.

Love Walks In, Continued

Off the Record
Photo by John Anderson

ROCKRGRL magazine founder and noted feminist Carla DeSantis Black (pictured) recently took up in Austin with a goal: "I'd like to work towards creating a better environment for women to play music and to remove the novelty of it." She's put together Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women and hosts MEOW Day at Momo's on Nov. 12. The afternoon features panels with an impressive chorus line of guests and moderators, including the Chronicle's Margaret Moser, as well as Rose Reyes, Carolyn Schwartz, Patrice Pike, Sara Hickman, and recent transplant Christa Hillhouse of 4 Non Blondes. Black hopes to build the organization through monthly meetings, MEOW Mixers, and other events (see "Love Walks In," Nov. 24, 2000). "It's important to have role models, because it's easy to get discouraged," explains the bass-playing Black. "I was, so for me it's kind of personal."

Music news

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Fun Fun Fun Fest, Transmission Entertainment, Boris, Musicians for Equal Opportunities for Women, MEOW, Henry Rollins, Slayer, Chris Gray

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