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Hand Habits

“Bloom” by Hand Habits:

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Interview: Jone of Imperial Teen

I asked Jone Stebbins of Imperial Teen about the band’s upcoming LA show, cooking for Eddie Vedder, and whether we can expect new songs in the future (spoiler: yes!).

Photo Credit: Pat Chen

After The Show: I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since Feel The Sound came out. What can you share about new Imperial Teen songs?

Jone: We are working on new songs and have a pretty good start. We like to write together, in the same room though so it’s a little slow going as we live so far away from each other….

The pick slide and guitar work you do in “Yoo Hoo” sounds so good! Do you remember how you first came up with that?

I don’t really know how to play “lead” guitar so I just kinda made it up as I went along. I wanted it to sound reckless, crazy and a bit frantic – it’s different every time I play it!

What’s the story behind the long friendship between that dog. and Imperial Teen? I believe that “Birthday Girl” is about Anna Waronker?

Anna is a dear friend and has worked with us as a producer on The Hair The Baby The TV & The Band and also ON. We have recorded in her home studio. Yes, a line or two in “Birthday Girl” were inspired by Anna if I remember correctly!

Besides the standards (“Yoo Hoo,” “Ivanka,” etc), what can the LA audience expect to hear at the April 8 show?

I’m not 100% sure yet. As the opening band our set will be a little shorter and we usually try to do a few songs from each record… all to be determined!

Are there any Imperial Teen songs you haven’t played in a long time but want to? I’d absolutely love to hear “Pig Latin.”

It’s kinda crazy but we have so many songs now after 5 records and a normal set is 13-15 songs so yeah there are lots we don’t play! I will throw “Pig Latin” into the mix for consideration.

What’s the story behind your Eddie Vedder Stew recipe?

Oh geez, that was a long time ago… Jennifer Finch from L7 came to a party we were having (Lynn and I were housemates at the time) and she brought this then unknown guy, Eddie Vedder, with her. I had made a curried stew to serve… they were the first people there and the last to leave so he got a few bowlfuls in. He really liked it. This was about 30 seconds before he became famous… so of course when Pearl Jam blew up we started calling that stew “Eddie Vedder Stew” as a lark. It is really good. It’s in the cookbook called I Like Food, Food Tastes Good by Kara Zuaro.

How have Will, Lynn, and Roddy changed over the years as bandmates and musicians? And how has your attitude towards performing changed over the years?

We all have matured but still can be totally silly when we are together. We all still really respect and adore each other.

I guess it’s not as scary as it once was. We have played a lot of shows but now we don’t play very often so it’s almost like the early days – full of excitement. We really treasure our time together so live shows are even more special than ever.

Thanks for sharing Jone! Check out Imperial Teen open for that dog. at the El Rey in Los Angeles on April 8, 2017.

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All Dogs

“How Long” by All Dogs:

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“Oh Boy”

BOY perform “Oh Boy” live in Chicago:

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Boardwalk

“I’m Not Myself” by Boardwalk:

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Q&A: Dear Lemon Trees

Leslie Stevens of Dear Lemon Trees shares all about her experience singing with the trio and her work as a backup singer. She also talks about providing backup vocals for Father John Misty and performing as part of the annual fundraiser The Merry Minstrel Musical Circus.

The Lemon Trees Interview

After The Show: How do you split vocal duties with Kathleen Grace and Jamie Drake in Dear Lemon Trees?

Leslie: When I sing with Dear Lemon Trees, I sing the melody sometimes and backup on other songs and it’s planned and arranged and rehearsed so that we know what we’re singing before the show or before a recording and we can be pretty precise and controlled with one another.

Singing back-up on a record or live are both a bit different than being in a set band act or show, although singing in a rehearsed band can be one of the best ways to acquire the skills to do back-up live or in the studio.

What differences are there between singing backup live vs singing backup in a studio?

When I sang on Father John Misty’s record Fear Fun, I was not given the songs before the session, so Josh sang the harmony parts to me through the headphones from the studio control room, and then I would sing them back while it was recorded.

So in that situation you are kind of practicing right to the record the first time you sing the line and you are really concentrating and your vocals are under the microscope. Sometimes singing live with someone you can’t hear yourself onstage at all and that is another kind of challenge.

I have had the honor of singing back-up as a part of The Merry Minstrel Musical Circus fundraiser each year since it began and I’ve had the experience of being onstage with artists I admire and respect greatly and even after a great soundcheck something just isn’t quite right during the show despite an amazing sound crew, and it doesn’t go the way it should have.

But I will say, there are also the times that the band will play a song out of nowhere and you get to sing the hell out of the harmonies because you happen to know the artist’s work and that is the greatest feeling to me. That happened once with Jeff Lynne, John Fogerty of CCR and also once with Joe Walsh of The Eagles. Live is live and anything can happen kind of…that’s what makes it so fun.

Is there anything that you think non-musicians would be surprised to learn about backup singers?

You don’t have to even think about hearing yourself in the studio. You have complete control compared to a live scenario. I think non-musicians are surprised to find that recording a voice or any instrument is almost a different skill from playing live. Studio recording of any kind puts you under a microscope and that takes a good amount of precision and technique from the player. In the studio you hear every little detail. Your voice is…naked.

Many singers get into the studio to discover that their vocals aren’t quite where they had hoped.

Has singing backup improved any aspects of your musicianship?

God, yes.

Thank you Leslie! Check out www.DearLemonTrees.com — the trio plays June 10th at Ojai’s Deer Lodge and June 18th at The Hotel Cafe (presented by The Bluegrass Situation).

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