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February 02, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-02

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*Aan's best friend...
~Go online and check out a preview of
the Basement Art's production of
"Sylvia," a hilarious comedy about
the a man and his dog.


FEBRUARY 2, 2001


michigandaily.com /arts


Galactic's Raines talks
on sounds, band, tour

Lake Trout uses
innovative sounds to
bait eclectic audience

%y Chris Kula
Daily Arts Writer
Galactic has sold out clubs in
London, played 'til dawn in Tokyo
and toured every inch of the U.S., but
the funky New Orleans group always
knows when it's time to come home.

State Theater
Sunday at 7: 30 p.m
back out on tour,

"Mardi Gras
has always been
a huge holiday
for the band,"
said guitarist
Jeff Raines. "A
few years ago
we'd do like six
or seven shows
over the course
of five days, just
trying to get in
front of as many
people as we
could so that
when we went
people would be

label have led to increasingly enthu-
siastic fan attention outside of New
Orleans, and now the band finds
itself strutting onto the biggest
stages of its young career as headlin-
ers of the SnoCore Icicle Ball Tour,
which rolls into the State Theater in
Detroit on Sunday night.
"(On this tour) we've been moving
into the rooms that we've always
wanted to play," Raines said. "We've
got about four weeks left - it's a six
week national tour, which is some-
thing we've never done before, and
it's really been a great time."
Raines said that a lot of the fun on
the Icicle Ball Tour has come from
sharing the stage every night with
bass god Les Claypool of Primus,
who's been opening each show with
his side project Fearless Flying Frog
"We've been lucky enough to have
him come up and play with us and -
wow, it's an education for any bass
player," Raines said.
And what about Galactic's own
bassman Mercurio? How has he been
dealing with the task of following
Claypool every night?
"Robert's been growing icicle
balls," Raines chuckled. "It's a pretty
appropriate tour, huh?"
The intraband jamming hasn't
been limited solely to Claypool,
though: Each night of the Icicle Ball
has found different members of the
opening groups - which includes
Baltimore's spacey jazz-funksters
Lake Trout - sitting in with

Courtesy of Capricorn Records
Galactic is all smiles because they are playing D-town this weekend.

like, 'Hey I saw you at Mardi Gras!
The mass-exposure strategy has
certainly paid off for the band, as the
hard-groovin' sextet - Raines,
bassist Robert Mercurio, keyboardist
Rich Vogel, drummer Stanton
Moore, saxophonist Ben Ellman and
vocalist Theryl de Clouet - has
grown since its 1994 inception as an
after-hours favorite into arguably the
hottest ticket in the music-rich
Crescent City.
Incessant touring - six Michigan
shows in two-and-half years - and
three solid albums on the Capricorn

Galactic for some heated improvisa-
tion. In fact, Frog Brigade saxophon-
ist Skerik, who has toured with
Galactic in the past, has provided
some of the most spirited interplay.
"Some of the greatest moments of
our gigs have come with (Skerik),"
Raines said. "A lot of musicians who
sit in kind of want to play their solo
and get off, but Skerik really wants
to play with the musicians in the
band, and he tends to draw out stuff
that maybe one of the guys wouldn't
play if he wasn't around. He kind of
eggs 'em on."
Open invitation to guest musicians
is just one of the proud traditions of
New Orleans that Galactic has taken
to the masses. The rhythm section of
Mercurio and uber-drummer Moore
gives nod to the greasy grooves of
funk pioneers the Meters, while
aged-yet-smooth frontman de Clouet
- better known as the "Houseman"

to all the ladies out there - is a
throwback to the old-school R&B of
New Orleans' golden decades of the
'50s and '60s.
By blending these classic sounds
with a hip, rock-like energy, the
group has exposed countless audi-
ences to a new brand of super-heavy
funk - and the funk knows no
boundaries, geographic, cultural or
"We went to Japan for the first
time about 12 months ago," Raines
said. "We played from midnight to
6:30 a.m. and the crowd was dancing
and up and young, and it was really
an eye-opener for us in terms of
there being a scene for our kind of
music in Tokyo.
"But I think that no matter where
you are, if you're having a good time
and the music is clicking, I think any
crowd in the world would be open to
what you're doing," Raines said.

By Joshua Gross
Daily Arts Writer
The barriers of musical genres, once
thought to be indestructible, are being
toppled like Berlin walls. Guitars are
wedding turntables, sitars are sleeping
with drum
machines, sam-
*a pies are flirting
with live instru-
Lake ments. At the
forefront of this
orgy of innova-
State Theater tion is a phenom-
Sunday at 7: 30 p.m. enon known as
Lake Trout.
"We have no
ideal audience,
our ideal audi-
ence is a mix:
Ravers, indies,
college kids, hip-
pies, hip-hop
fans, anyone and everyone who can
appreciate the music," says guitarist Ed
Harris, "We like to change for our audi-
ence, stylistically we have a large range
of molds that we can place ourselves
into for the night. We can go ambient,
chill it down a little, or rev it up, rock it
out, make it jazzy, or go all out with
some heavy drum and bass." On
Sunday night, Lake Trout will join
Galactic and Les Claypool for some
bootie shakin' at Detroit's Fox Theater.
Originally a jazz-based improvisational
group from Baltimore, Lake Trout have
involved into an octopus of musical
stylings. "If we were DJs you could say
that we just keep changing our pile of
records," says Harris. Recently they
have settled most comfortably into a
breakbeat, drum and bass style, only
with live instruments instead of comn-

puters and sampling. If you hear them
play, you might think otherwise; drum-
mer Mike Lowry has accomplished a
cyborgian feat in duplicating the fast,
hard drumming style previously attrib-
uted only to machines.
But their innovation does not hamper
their playing; they still jam out,
although they don't like to be classified
as a jam band. "We try to avoid being
grouped together with 'jam bands.'"We
aren't solo based, our influences are so
diverse, Coltrane, Dr. Octagon,
Radiohead, Amon Tobin and our sound
is clearly techno influenced." Instead of
soloing the band concentrates on f4nc-
tioning together, weaving trances-like
melodies to transmit emotional intensi-
ty, much like Digweed or Oakenfold
might spin a night at Ibiza.
Classifying a band takes away from
what they're trying to accomplish, it
creates biases that wouldn't ordinarily
exist and alienates people from music
they might want to hear. Classifying a
band as "techno" will estrange some
die-hard rock fans, while classifying it
as "rock" or "jazz" will distance ravers.
Lake Trout's fanbase has begun to call
their music "Organica" in order to
avoid the trappings of categorization
and signify the organic, innovative
quality of the music. When asked if
he'd rather sacrifice style for innovation
or innovation for style, Harris passively
replied, "We don't want to expand for
the purpose of being different, hopeful-
ly the evolution will come naturally. I
like to think that our sound is constant-
ly changing, but always retaining cer-
tain qualities that we can call our own."
So what should you expect: on
Sunday night? Expect nothing. Expect
everything. You'll be astonished either

Ex-Dinosaur Jr. guitarist
Mascis brings fog to the Pig

By Christian Hoard
Daily Arts Writer

There's a time
every aging rock
becomes difficult

J. Mascis
and the
The Blind Pig
Saturday at 9 pm.

in the career ,of
'n roller when it
to tell good from
bad or hack-
neyed from
original, when
perspective is
just as hard to
come by as will-
ing groupies,
when it
becomes easy
and very com-
fortable to
either repeat
yourself or do a
half-assed job
of coming up
with something

"Waistin'," likewise, just might be
a brilliant double entendre, a nod to
his stoner fans (I thought at first he
was saying "I'm wasted," which is
quite plausible, actually) and a nod
to the Neil Young contingent, who'll
surely eat up the offhand melody and
lyrics that evoke all the pathos of
being a grubby, lazy yet sensitive
middle-aged white guy.
Unlike distortion-master and fel-
low Young syndrome sufferer Lou
Reed, whose "Possum" was the
finest ear-shredding rave-up of last
year, Mascis's guitar skronk is all
about noise as a jumping-off point:
It's not particularly well-channeled,
it's just always there, as integral and
ordinary as drums, bass and major
chords. Perhaps that's what The Fog
- the name of Mascis's backing
band, which includes ex-Minutemen
bassist Mike Watt - refers to?
If Mascis happens to be your
thing, be sure to show up early for
Elf Power, the Athens, GA indieists
who belong to the oh-so-hip
Elephant 6 collective, a loose assem-
blage of bands who are big into both
experimental rock and retro guitar
pop. EP's forte lies in blending

sweetly-sung bedroom melodies with
neo-psychedelic buzz - the perfect
compliment Mascis's hazy melan-
cholia and pretty damned good by

Courtesy of SNS Records

Lake Trout will play Jazz ... rock ... whatever!


new. Call it Neil Young syndrome.
After garnering minor fame in the
'80s with Dinosaur Jr., indie-rock act
par excellence, J. Mascis found him-
self caught up in a movement
(grunge) that he'd helped invent,
almost by accident. Dinosaur Jr.'s
scratchy garage-isms were too
unpretty for '80s radio, but dozens of
bands inspired by their noisiness and
possessing barely noticeable punk
roots (just like Mascis, in fact) went
on to conquer alternative radio.
Mascis, a lanky, long-haired dude
who'd rather play golf than lead a
revolution, rode the alterna-wave for
a while, scoring a couple of hits
("Feel the Pain," "Start Choppin"')
and cementing his reputation as the
stoner guitar god of the grunge
Too stoned, maybe, since most of
Mascis's '90s output was humdrum
and samey: Lots of guitar fuzz,
metal-head guitar solos, tunes that
were little more than afterthoughts.
t By the time he dropped the Dinosaur
Jr. moniker and released Martin +
Me, there were more reasons than
just the similarity in vocal style to
compare him to Neil Young.
All of which makes More Light,
Mascis's most recent release, sound
pretty damned vital. The samey-ness
is still there, granted, but like Young,
his spiritual godfather, Mascis has a

She just wants to be loved,
but is he in love with her or her money?
The iress.
By Ruth and Augustus Goetz
Suggested by the Henry James novel Washington Squar,
about a young woman who struggles to control her own life.
Directed by Philip Kerr
February 8 -10 at 8pm e"February I Iat 2pm
Mendelssohn Theatre
Tickets are $20 and $15 9 Students $7 with ID
League Ticket Office 734-764-0450

Courtesy oT Ultimatum Recors
Grunge pioneer J. Mascis.


-- j UM School of Music Dept. of Theatre and Drama

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