6.25.2009

ALEATORY #24: Jeepster


What happens when a trio of alt-rock outsiders that formed in San Francisco wind up getting signed to a French record label prior to releasing their recorded-in-a-Lake-Tahoe-cabin debut? Why, you get Jeepster, of course.

The band -- consisting of singer Jonah Wells, drummer Justin Goings, and guitarist Kyle Marcelli -- just barely released their first album, What If All the Rebels Died?, and it sounds like the distillation of all the 90s alt-rock giants you can think of through a lo-fi aesthetic. It's impossible not to hear the spirit of the Smashing Pumpkins surge through tracks like "Sweet 1:23" or the Radiohead-by-way-of-Harvey-Danger keyboard waltz that is "Fiction Fiction". Though tracks like "Ex Oh" perfectly capture that sense of pre-millennial Modern Rock nostalgia that is so tragically lacking on the airwaves these days, the group still proudly exists in the present, coming soon to a town near you but not before each member participated in Globecat's 24th Aleatory, revealing that not only can the group teach you how to smurf, but also that you should avoid playing at Days Inn Motels and that you should be afraid of "The Man" ...

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19. Favorite foreign film?

KYLE: Alejandro Joradowskys Fando y Lis; before Jeepster, I wanted to name my next band Tarr after the fictional city portrayed in it.
JUSTIN: A woman is a woman.
JONAH: Brazil.

22. Favorite vice?

KYLE: Cigarettes, they're fast, relatively inexpensive, and they don't subdue, damage nor hinder human interaction. If anything, they're a catalyst to human interaction, which on a good day, I support.
JUSTIN: Jamming.
JONAH: Soft drugs.

27. Favorite chord/chord progression?

KYLE: The ones invented by myself that don't have names, and the ones that don't have names made by other musicians.
JUSTIN: I play drums...
JONAH: Chord/chord? ...progression? ...favorite?

32. Best thing you learned this week/month?

KYLE: I learned about the sanctity of life, the various depths of love, and how relavent I feel my art is. It's been a busy month.
JUSTIN: Don't do drugs.
JONAH: "...Gods favorite color is purple."

33. What's something you could teach anyone in an hour or less?

KYLE: How to dance, how to tie a shoe, how to negate the obvious, how to point out the obvious, how to forgive, how to forget.
JUSTIN: Don't do drugs.
JONAH: How to smurf.

38. What is your family like?

KYLE: Very important, very practical, very logical, very loyal, and vey supportive.
JUSTIN: I love them.
JONAH: R e l i g i o u s.

43. What's the road ahead look like?

KYLE: Imagine the road as a collection of variables co-dependent on other varaibels, and that this road has never been driven before. It looks very strange in a very endearing way.
JUSTIN: Worldwide.
JONAH: Worldwide Travel.

45. What's the best lie you've ever told?

KYLE: It wouldn't be a good lie if I acknowledged the truth.
JUSTIN: Nothing good.
JONAH: I can't remember any I'm proud of.

47. Biggest fear?

KYLE: Flying, this is a new fear, one only relavent after a realization of the science behind an airplane.
JUSTIN: The man.
JONAH: Loneliness, though I think I'm finally getting over that one too.

48. Biggest moment of triumph?

KYLE: In the midst of it.
JUSTIN: So far, finishing What If All the Rebels Died?
JONAH: Boogie @ Midnight.

52. At what point did you realize that music was going to be your full-time occupation?

KYLE: It's not an occupation. When you realize it's an occupation, it's not art, and you've lost focus from why you started making music.
JUSTIN: When I was born.
JONAH: I've been high my whole life.

55. You're curating a festival. If you could choose any two bands to open for you, who would they be? To open?

KYLE: Warren Ellis from the Bad Seeds doing a solo effected violin set, followed by some smooth dancey fun band like the Whitest Boy Alive or Phoenix.
JUSTIN: The Walkmen, Dr. Dog
JONAH: Ratatat and The Flaming Lips.

56. Have you ever considered writing or producing for other artists?

KYLE: Everyday, I will be as soon as Nate Pendry gets out of jail and Sham Ulrich learns to compose his drunken piano banters into incredibly complex pop songs.
JUSTIN: Occasionaly.
JONAH: And how.

59. Worst venue you've ever played?

KYLE: The Casbar in Santa Rosa, it's a venue inside of a Days Inn Motel, but feels like a skating ring.
JUSTIN: Cafe Coda.
JONAH: Those are some big shoes to fill!

61. What's the best advice you could give to a young, upstart band?

KYLE: Realize the difference between a record and a live show, but keep in mind it all coincides to a listener.
JUSTIN: Quit everything in your life that takes time away from the group.
JONAH: Practice/jam/record.

70. What is a personal belief you hold that you would fight for to the death?

KYLE: Love.
JUSTIN: J E S U S
JONAH: Only love.

79. Best concert you've ever been to?

KYLE: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds two nights in a row at the Warfield in San Francisco. Those guys are over fifty and have more energy than most bands I see in their twenties.
JUSTIN: Tie between Radiohead and the Mars Volta at Coachella.
JONAH: Deerhoof @ UC Davis a few years ago.

85. What's the biggest mistake you've made that you inadvertently learned a great lesson from?

KYLE: I don't feel that if I've learned a valuable lesson that the actions that caused it were actually mistakes.
JUSTIN: Not drinking enough water.
JONAH: I've made many mistakes but have no regrets.

87. Ultimately, you will want to be remembered as …

KYLE: A sea shell in a sea of shells that encompass the most beautiful mosaic of culture and art the world has ever seen.
JUSTIN: "That dude can jam."
JONAH: A lover.

90. Sexiest thing about you?

KYLE: My winning personality obviously.
JUSTIN: Probably my tunes...
JONAH: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

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Visit Jeepster's official MySpace.

6.18.2009

The Globecat One-Year Anniversary Spectacular!


It's strange to think that one year ago, Globecat opened its digital doors to the world. It started out small: a young, mega-talented folk artist named Will Stratton was the first to step up to the interview hot seat, and since then, we've hosted Grammy-winning songwriters like Dan Wilson, Tony-winning composers like Jason Robert Brown, iconic rock legends like Rob Pollard, one of the greatest music video directors of all time, and even members of the Rolling Stones. Sometimes we contact the artists directly; sometimes the publicists are the ones e-mailing us. No matter what though, we always try to develop a good dialogue, have uncovered some fantastic answers, and — most critically — have brought you the readers some funny, exciting, and downright fascinating revelations about the musicians who you love and care about just as much as we do.

So to celebrate our first year in business, the Globecat staff has assembled a list of fascinating facts, personal statements, kickass songs, and other goodies to usher in Globecat's second year of excitement. So, without further ado, let's begin with ...
  • Benjamin Durdle's Song
Globecat site designer and occasional recording artist Benjamin Durdle has recorded the song "Carbon Otters" to celebrate Globecat's birthday:

video

  • Our Three Most Popular Interviews
  1. Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre [we're guessing because of his thoughts towards DiG! director Ondi Timoner]
  2. Kompakt Records founder Wolfgang Voigt [who just opens up and is willing to discuss just about any aspect of his career for us]
  3. Orchestral duo E.S. Posthumus [easy: they revealed that they're working on their follow up to their smash-hit debut Unearthed to us, which only makes us wish to do a follow-up interview all the more — also, just damn cool guys]

  • Davecat's Globecat Memories
"I first came up with the idea in a fit of jealous rage. It was either start a website or kill Evan. In his other job, Evan writes for PopMatters.com, where he works as the Associate Interviews Editor. In that capacity he's interviewed everyone from Avril Lavigne (really) to Lou Reed (really). And okay, I envied his success. I wanted to talk to famous people, too. Or, failing that, murder.

Something needed to be done. I flipped a coin and it was website (though really, it was best of seven: that quarter totally wanted him dead).

Having decided on my course of action, I immediately set to work. Three minutes in I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I got the fire extinguisher and put out the flames shooting from my computer. Whatever had just happened wasn't getting me any closer to having a music website. I needed help.

I had already given some thought to the format of the site, as I am really good at planning things in my head and thinking up acceptance speeches for awards I haven't won yet for products I haven't yet produced. Do they even give out Grammys for Best Website? Just in case, I wanted to be sure to thank T-Pain, for whatever it is he does.

Anyway, I wanted to have a website that focuses solely on interviews with musicians, instead of having interviews as just one of the services offered. Many music websites will sit down with musicians, but it almost feels secondary; after the daily album reviews, track reviews, tour news, music videos, etc., the features where they actually talk with the people responsible for the aforementioned albums, tracks, etc. and find out what they think about all this get pushed to the side, and that doesn't seem right to me.

If you'll excuse a West Coast food metaphor, I wanted my website to be the In-N-Out Burger of music sites. For those of you on the East Coast: the Five Guys of music sites. For international readers: the restaurant with a very limited menu that doesn't offer a lot of choices, but does those few things remarkably well, of music sites. For vegetarians: the salad bar that only has carrots but the carrots are somehow better than all the other carrots you've ever had in your life. Of music sites.

As I wrote one year ago in our Mission Statement, by having musicians share their thoughts on their process behind their product -- the product other websites already do a fine job of reviewing -- the gap between Artist and Listener is closed a bit more. From the beginning I knew that I didn't want to edit the responses we received, not just because I'm lazy, but because I didn't want us to leave anything, at all, out of the interviews. If the artist said it, I wanted you, the Reader, to read it.

Because ideally, you wouldn't need us at all. Ideally, all of your favorite musicians would be able to talk to you at any time. If I could call up Pocahaunted or the Vivian Girls or Nico Muhly at four in the morning to ask them what their favorite campfire story is, I totally would, but I don't have a phone. I do, however, have a website.

What I didn't have, however, was any idea of how to get ahold of some musicians. I figured I could probably go to some shows, stick business cards into the bands' speaker cabinets and wait around to see who responded, but I was convinced there had to be a better way. But I mean, how do you go about contacting artists? Who would even know how to do that?

I filled Evan in on all of my thoughts and found that he was more than willing to help. The next day we started sending out e-mails like crazy, contacting absolutely everyone we could think of and staying up until three or four in the morning. Soon, with a little help from our friends, and an incredible response from artists that had no reason to even give us the time of day, much less long, detailed, insightful, touching, and often hilarious answers to our questions, we had a brand-new website on our hands.

Thank you to all of the musicians who have taken time out of their busy schedules for us over the past year, and especially to all of the people from countries all over the world who have stopped in and read what they have written for you. That's what makes running this site worthwhile.

And to think, it could have all turned out so differently. I'm just glad I didn't leave that coin-flip at best of five. "
Dave, I think you owe me a quarter for something ...

  • The List of Bands We're Still Awaiting Responses From
Just to show you that this is not all sunshine and chocolates, here are the bands who we have successfully contacted and have managed to speak to directly and/or through their publicists, sent questions in, and ... have received nothing back to date. If you're any one of these bands/artists, please check your inboxes again:
The Books, Christopher Bissonnette, Laulu laakson kukista, Rhys Chatham, The National, Sandro Perri, Dosh, film composer Alexandre Desplat, Luke Wyland, Air France, Oval, The Protomen, Brendan Canning, Stars of the Lid, the Avett Brothers, Lykke Li, Louis XIV, Laura Barrett, & tomandandy
So yeah. We're still waiting.
  • Evcat's Aleatory
Just to show that we're not totally merciless when it comes to our famed Aleatory questions, the co-founders of the site are submitting themselves through the exact same process. As such, here are Evcat's responses to all 100 questions of the daunting, exciting, and damn-near inimitable Aleatory ...

1. Favorite word?
Xenophobia.
2. Favorite board game?

Strip Guitar Hero.

3. Favorite key to write in?

Any.

4. Favorite person to have worked with?

Dave, presumably.

5. Favorite piece of equipment?

My brand-new effects pedal with built-in drum beats! Makes producing on the fly so much more damn fun ...

6. Favorite visual artist?/Favorite work of visual art?

Album art is still an art within itself, and I'm a big fan of simplicity, which is why any photograph used for the cover a Mark Kozelek album is instantly awesome to me.

7. Favorite composer?

Joshua Ralph.

8. Favorite author?/Favorite book?

Author is a tie between Chuck Klosterman and Ayn Rand. Book ... christ, that's a tough one. I'm going to go with Atlas Shrugged for the time being just due to its life-changing awesomeness.

9. Favorite song to start (or end) a mixtape with?

Basement Jaxx's "Good Luck", Two Tongues' "Crawl", Phoenix's "If I Ever Feel Better", Bell Orchestre's "Throw It On a Fire", Beth Orton's "Stolen Car", Dovetail Joint's "Gassed", Gay Dad's "Joy", Klaatu's "Prelude", and the Dismemberment Plan's "You Are Invited" are all great openers, but that's just a sampling.

10. Favorite lyric?

"Hey, look me over / Tell me do you like what you see / Hey, I ain't got no money / But I'm rich in personality"
or!

"The opposite of true love is as follows: REALITY!"

11. Favorite music video?

It isn't obvious?

12. Favorite band when you were in high school?

The Flaming Lips.

13. Favorite Shakespearean play?

MacBeth, 'cos of all the killings.

14. Favorite sound?

That little "new mail" deedle in my inbox. It excites me. Sexually.

15. Favorite exhibit or subject at the museum?

Only applicable to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

16. Favorite campfire story?

I don't really have a "campfire story" as much as I just have amusing anecdotes about my life and the ridiculous scrapes I've gotten myself into more than anything else.

17. Favorite plant?

So many ways to answer this one ...

18. Favorite pick-up line?

"Tell her that you want her to donate her body to science and you're science!"

19. Favorite foreign film?

Kontroll -- also features the greatest soundtrack ever, hands down.

20. Favorite new band?

Los Campesinos! are still rocking my damn world. It's not often you find smart feel-good rock music at insanely high speeds. In many ways, I feel like they were the band designed just for me ...

21. Favorite album(s) from the past year?

Robyn's self-titled is fantastic, Dosh's Wishes & Wolves was jaw-dropping in terms of its awesome, and any year with a new Butch Walker album is a good year to me.

22. Favorite vice?

If you know me, you should already know what it is. If you don't know, put your feet up while I regail you with a story ...

23. Favorite natural oddity?

The ways that thunderclouds collide isn't really an oddity, is it?

24. Favorite historical time period?

Collonial Williamsburg. Or the 1970s. One of those two.

25. Favorite historical figure?

Lou Reed.

26. Favorite badass?

Admiral Adama.

27. Favorite chord/chord progression?

Whatever makes that thing sound good (I literally have no knowledge of proper chord progressions).

28. What instrument would you most like to learn to play?

Keyboards and drums -- and not just me dinkin' around on them -- to learn them properly ...

29. Who do you wish more people were listening to?

Robyn and South.

30. How many languages do you speak?

Two: English and nerd.

31. Other than musician, what career would you most enjoy?

I'm kind of living it right now mostly ... oh, well, except for actor. That's the big one.

32. Best thing you learned this week/month?

More people need to listen to Dark Was the Night. I learned that. No, really.

33. What's something you could teach anyone in an hour or less?

How review an album properly (had a discussion about that today, actually ...)

34. What's the best joke you heard recently?

"If I wanted to follow CNN on Twitter ... couldn't I just watch CNN?"

35. What's the best place you've randomly discovered while on tour?

Well, tour, I dunno, but some of the abandoned gas stations on the route between Utah and Illinois make for great horror movie on-location fodder.

36. Lyrics first or music first?

Music first. Lyrics always have to follow and fit the mood.

37. What do you consider most important about a song's structure?

The chorus. That's the part that keeps you coming back again and again, and the more addictive it is, the more you get suckered into its punchdrunk dreaminess ...

38. What is your family like?

Extremely supportive, which I am eternally grateful for but rarely mention.

39. What's something you could probably beat anyone you know at?

Pop music trivia.

40. What was your best/worst subject in school?

I was great in all my acting classes, but not so much when I took French ...

41. If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would it be?

To my beloved (wherever she/it may be).

42. What's an image that haunts you to this day?

The Christmas Eve where the family came home from a church service, I walked in and found our grandma splayed on the floor, bleeding from a severe fall. She was OK, but what a find that was ...

43. What's the road ahead look like?

Unknown and marginally optimistic: just the way I like it.

44. Something you've heard, know is false, but wish were true with all your heart?

That socialized medicine will work.

45. What's the best lie you've ever told?

During a job interview several years ago, I was asked what my greatest weakness was, and said "Sometimes I work too hard." Somehow, they interviewer believed me.

46. Where do you keep things hidden? What do you keep hidden there?

My hard drive, obviously ;-)

47. Biggest fear?

That I'll die and not be remembered for anything.

48. Biggest moment of triumph?

Impossible to settle on just one thing, but being on NPR twice, acting in The Ruling Class, and just working with Brian Conley in general have all been pretty amazing high points.

49. Now that you know a much larger audience will get to hear the music you've made, has your writing changed at all? How? What's changed and what's stayed the same?

Well, this isn't particularly true for me ...

50. What's your religious tradition or background?

First Church of Atheism.

51. What are you currently obsessed with?

Prince's girl-group side projects like Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6. Anything with a 6 in it, really. Also, Vanity 6's "He's So Dull" is just all kinds of awesome.

52. At what point did you realize that music was going to be your full-time occupation?

Ha ha, this is funny.

53. So far in your career, what's been your biggest regret?

Not doing more, sooner. Sound silly, but, really, I feel like I should have already accomplished more already being 24.

54. So far in your career, what's been your proudest accomplishment?

See #48.

55. You're curating a festival. If you could choose any two bands to open for you, who would they be?

Motorcycles Are Everywhere and the Marches -- they'd be fun, kickass openers.

56. Have you ever considered writing or producing for other artists?

There is nothing I'd like to do more.

57. Most rock star thing you've ever done?

Getting drunk and jumping off the roof of an apartment complex.

58. Least rock star thing you've ever done?

Laundry.

59. Worst venue you've ever played?

The patio of the Gizmo.

60. What's the worst show you've ever played? What would you have done different?

The second Interoffice Romance show wherein I forgot the words to the song halfway through, leaving us coming off as brash and arrogant (which we were, but didn't want other people to know).

61. What's the best advice you could give to a young, upstart band?

Don't compromise a thing: your sound is your sound, and never once should you ever try to sound like someone else.

62. Your favorite song that you've done so far?

"Unrequited" is still a favorite for me.

63. Band/artist you're secretly envious of?

Basement Jaxx, for their never-ending awesome streak.

64. Weirdest promotion you've been a part of?

Anytime I had to physically tell people that there was a new Nickelback album at work is when I felt immediately dirty in my heart and my soul.

65. Ever see yourself penning the score/soundtrack to a TV show or film?

Starting with porno, yes.

66. Worst song you've heard recently?

3OH!3's "Don't Trust Me"

67. Do you reach any kind of personal catharsis when it comes to songwriting/performing?

Depending on the song, yes. Getting the really personal stuff out in lyrical form kind of externalizes the problem, making it easier to deal with.

68. Favorite interview you've ever been a part of (aside from this one, obviously)?

Ben Gibbard was the nicest guy in the whole fuckin' world, lemme tell you.

69. There's got to be one: who has been your craziest fan?

Some people once started a Facebook group about me and how sexy I was ...

70. What is a personal belief you hold that you would fight for to the death?

That love is one of the purest, most profound experiences in the whole of existance, and anyone who tries to say otherwise can just ... eat ... poo.

71. How well do you feel your music lends itself to remixing or being covered?

We'll find out soon, now won't we?

72. A few years ago, Beck gave an interview for SPIN in which he lamented the glut of reality TV shows and blogs about musicians, wanting to know less details about their life because he felt they were more mysterious that way (he liked to envision Devo as living in a crazed art-deco pyramid when he was young, instead of just some guys in a tour bus). Do you feel that there's a lack of mystique out there for musicians in today's YouTube age? Do you feel your band carries any mystique?

I think certain bands try to pull it off, most often by staying out of the spotlight (like Jandek). But I dunno -- Jack White is one of the most hugely famous rock stars in the world, and there's still a lot of mystery about him ...

73. Are there any songs that you're working on right now?

One awesomely huge Smashing Pumpkins-styled number that I'm very fond of but haven't recorded any vocals for yet. I want the lyrics to be freakin' perfect ...

74. Better to burn out or to fade away?

Burn out -- leaves a lasting impression better.

75. Very first song that you ever wrote?

Oh god. I still have some of those song sheets around, but I couldn't tell ya for the life of me. Consisted of two chords, I'll tell you that much ...

76. Dream collaboration?

The album I record with Beck, natch.

77. What was the hardest part about recording your current release?

Um ... (Part 2!)

78. Your life has been reduced to a bumper sticker: what does it say?

Your life has been reduced to a bumper sticker: what does it say?

79. Best concert you've ever been to?

Hard to say, but the Most Serene Republic was one of the all-time classics, if not just for the totally-impromptu acoustic set they did around a December campfire immediately following the show.

80. Worst run-in with the law (to date)?

Almost arrested for driving late at night outside of Cleveland, accused of smuggling drugs into Ohio while actually on my way to a theatre audition in New Conchord, OH. Poor Brian's car and the psycho-dog lady that was called in ...

81. If you could sync an album of yours to a movie (like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz), what movie would it be?

I'd sync up The Soft Dive Into Oblivion with The Room so damn easily ...

82. Current pop song that you would file under "guilty pleasure"?

Britney Spears' "Unusual You". I know, it's Britney, but it's such a fucking incredible production job ...

83. Have you ever thought of pulling a Jack White-styled Raconteurs/White Stripes thing and be in multiple bands at once? If so, what would the other band sound like?

I'm in the Corresponding Handpieces, The Interoffice Romance, Three Car Garage, the Avenging Unicorns, Liquid Toaster ...

84. Most disappointing concert you ever attended?

Blink-182.

85. What's the biggest mistake you've made that you inadvertently learned a great lesson from?

Really, it was more caving into relationships with girls that I didn't have any particular affinity for, compromising for them just 'cos they wanted to be with me. I learned that you can never, ever do that, and you should never, ever try to make everyone happy just so they like you: that's impossible. Friends come and go, but the true ones accept you for who you are, and since I learned that, I feel positively liberated in my life ...

86. With Radiohead's In Rainbows release and Nine Inch Nails doing boffo business with his online releases, do you see yourself ever doing some alterative kind of release for any of your future projects?

If I have any projects worth releasing in that format, sure!

87. Ultimately, you will want to be remembered as …

A musician, writer, well-respected critic, and nice guy.

88. What's your deepest source for musical inspiration?

Trying to personally best my own pop-song writing abilities each and every time. As great as each new thing is that I do, it has to always be better than what came before: I couldn't live with myself if I "settled".

89. You just died. I'm sorry. Fortunately, your will states that you want very specific music to be played at your funeral. What did you choose?

"Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch.

90. Sexiest thing about you?

My ... 'fro.

91. Which single album should be in everybody's home?

J.Ralph's Music to Mauzner By, no question. That and Harvey Danger's King James Version.

92. Which venue are you dying to play but have not yet had the chance to?

Radio City Music Hall, obviously.

93. Longest show you ever played? What was different?

The IOR show on the Gizmo patio. That was one of those rare times where people asked us to perform.

94. What's your hardest song to replicate live?

All the non-solo-acoustic ones.

95. Do you ever read your own reviews?

I usually write my own reviews.

96. The one thing that no one knows about you (yet)?

I once won a high-school talent show for being a contortionist. No joke.

97. Your label wants to do a music video for a song off your album, and have inexplicably procured $1,000,000 as a budget, then decide that you'd best direct the visual accompaniment to your own music. What song do you choose, and what will your video look like?

Oh, easy: "Dirty Sweat" set in a sleek, gritty, nighttime dance club filled with laser light and frantic, highly choreographed dancing. I'd film it on a budget of $50,000 and just pocket the rest, truth be told (yeah ... the "catering table" cost a lot of "money", ha ha ha ...)

98. Would you say that there's somewhat of a political undertone to your music? If so, what motivates it?

No. I don't like music.

99. Licensing your music out to companies for TV ads: good or bad?

GREAT (assuming they'd want them)!

100. Even with the gradual decay of the B-side, most artists still have vaults of unreleased songs. What's in yours?

I have a lot of experiments and things that have either never quite worked out musically or just never given proper lyrical consideration. Truth be told, these will probably all see the light of day eventually, but I just haven't gotten around to dealing with them as of yet.

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And just 'cos we know you were asking for it ...

  • Davecat's Aleatory
1. Favorite word?

I have so many. You almost have to break it down by language. English? Carom, maybe. Or entopic. Escalate is good, too. Did you know it's actually a back-formation from "escalator," and not the other way around? Before the 1920s, when the escalator was invented, there was never an "escalation" of anything. Nothing "escalated." In fact, the common definition of the word today ("to increase or develop by successive stages") only came into use in the early 1960s. That's another word I like: etymology.

Other languages: Spanish? Gruñón, or refunfuñar. The first means grumpy, and the second is the verb "to grouch." Complaining in Spanish is awesome. Yiddish? Zaftig, hands down, though I am also partial to chutzpah.

2. Favorite board game?

My grandma had a game called Anti-Monopoly that we used to play that I've never seen anywhere else. It has nothing to do with Monopoly, but isn't really its opposite either. (I don't even know what that would be, a game about living in the woods?) I'm also a big fan of Cribbage and Michigan Rummy, though those are both card games that also happen to involve boards (or mason jars, as we used for the former when I learned how to play from my great aunt and uncle at the New Jersey shore; in that case, Michigan Rummy is without a doubt my favorite mason-jar game).

3. Favorite key to write in?

C, or G# minor, as you're either using all white keys or (almost) all black keys on the piano. It makes things a lot easier for me.

4. Favorite person to have worked with?

In high school I was in a band with two of my best friends, Tyler and Jason, who I've known since elementary school or earlier and am still in touch with. Our band was pretty bad in retrospect but band practice was always a great time.

5. Favorite piece of equipment?

My DD-6 delay pedal, and my beautiful Les Paul. Instead of painting it flat they put a stain on it, so you can see the wood grain and everything. You can tell it used to be part of a tree. I'm a sucker for pretty woods.

6. Favorite visual artist?/Favorite work of visual art?

I'm a fan of a lot of Kazuya Akimoto's work, especially "The Head of Leviathan." They're paintings perfectly suited for ekphrasis (my favorite Greek word). I also love Mariano Fortuny y Marsal's "African Chief": I saw it at the Art Institute of Chicago and couldn't believe it was made with oil paint. It looks photoshopped: the entire painting is blurred slightly, but then you get to the man's face and it's unbelievably clear. You can see every tiny detail of his expression. I have utmost respect for people who can paint like that.

7. Favorite composer?

Arvo Pärt, Sergei Rachmaninov, Charles Ives, and Thelonious Monk have all held that title at one time or another, though some nights Mark Molnar (of Kingdom Shore) is not far behind.

8. Favorite author?/Favorite book?

How did I ever think anyone would be able to answer these questions? What was I thinking? Here are a few books: Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude, Nabokov's Pale Fire, Richard Brautigan's A Confederate General from Big Sur, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. Authors not listed: Flannery O'Connor, David Foster Wallace, Edith Wharton, Junot Diaz, and especially Bernard Malamud.

9. Favorite song to start (or end) a mixtape with?

Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945" has started more than one of my mixtapes, because I love Jeff Mangum counting it off. Also, though I don't necessarily remember ending a mixtape with it, I once had a nightmare that ended with the exact sound that closes out godspeed you! black emperor's "Motherfucker = Redeemer pt. 2" (the last track on Yanqui U.X.O.). That was a year or two before that album even came out, and when I heard it I totally freaked, like Efrim had been stealing from my dreams.

10. Favorite lyric?

"I don't know but I've been told / You never die and you never grow old." - Modest Mouse, "I Came as a Rat." Also, the meteor/oid/ite rhyme from Joanna Newsom's "Emily," which is one of the most brilliant things I've ever heard in a song.

11. Favorite music video?

I love sending Evan links to the music video for Grizzly Bear's "Knife" when I know he's stoned. It entertains me for hours. Maybe that's my favorite board game.

12. Favorite band when you were in high school?

I went through phases. I really liked godspeed you! black emperor, I really liked Sigur Ros — all those post-rock guys, really: Do Make Say Think, Mogwai, you know — but I think my heart belonged to Tori Amos. This was back before she started downhill. I listened to Boys for Pele and From the Choirgirl Hotel over and over and over again.

13. Favorite Shakespearean play?

I'm alone in this, but: Julius Caesar, esp. the speech fight between Brutus and Mark Antony in Act III.

On a related note, I can recite most of the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet in one breath. It's my one and only party trick.

14. Favorite sound?

Harmonizing train whistles from two freight trains passing in the rain.

15. Favorite exhibit or subject at the museum?

Huge dinosaurs.

16. Favorite campfire story?

It has to involve monsters. When I was young I read all the books I could find on monsters, and especially liked ones detailing ways to get rid of them. Hungarian vampires, for instance, are OCD. If you sprinkle mustard seeds on your roof, when they land on it at night they have to count all of the seeds, and will stay out until each and every last one has been counted, all the way up to sunrise, which destroys them.

As far as monsters that would make good campfire stories, the legend of the Wendigo is pretty good, especially if it's cold out and the person sitting next to you looks tasty.

17. Favorite plant?

There is an enormous tree in the courtyard at the University of Barcelona. I can't remember what kind it is, but I used to eat my lunch sitting on its roots every day after classes got out. It is my favorite plant in the world.

18. Favorite pick-up line?

I've awkwardly told a girl she was beautiful before, though I'm not sure it was a pick-up line so much as making sure she knew.

19. Favorite foreign film?

Werckmeister Harmonies, directed by Bela Tarr. Close, close seconds: Tarkovsky's Stalker, or Kurosawa's Ran.

20. Favorite new band?

I've been really digging Cymbals Eat Guitar lately. They're like the perfect blend of Lonesome Crowded West-era Modest Mouse (a fine era indeed) with Evangelicals, who had one of my favorite albums of last year.

21. Favorite album(s) from the past year?

In addition to Cymbals Eat Guitar's Why There Are Mountains, I've been listening to the new Bat for Lashes an awful lot. I'm pretending it's the new Tori Amos album, instead of the album that Tori actually released. Two Suns: it's so good.

22. Favorite vice?

My dad has this great antique book press that he painted bright blue. My brother and I used to smash crayons in it when we were little. If turned on its side, it would make an excellent vice.

23. Favorite natural oddity?

Sonoluminescence. If you make a noise loud enough underwater, it will produce light. I'm totally serious about this.

Also, cymatics: the study of the effects of sound on matter. For instance, if you sprinkle sand or something on a metal plate and then vibrate the plate, the sand forms patterns corresponding to the sound waves passing through the metal. Try it at home with some table salt, a cookie tray, and a cello bow. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=cymatics

24. Favorite historical time period?

Three Kingdoms China, ancient Egypt, the Reconquista and the Spanish Civil War. Some of the craziest things in the history of the world took place in those times.

25. Favorite historical figure?

Though you wouldn't guess it from my answers to #24, Ulysses S. Grant. I'm reading his memoirs right now and am in love with the man, who was at once humble, brave, funny, intelligent, and terrible at absolutely everything. He's one of the more interesting men I've ever spent time with, if only in book form.

Athanasius Kircher and I also go way back.

26. Favorite badass?

Tom Waits. He gon' whittle you into kindling.

27. Favorite chord/chord progression?

F#maj9, though whatever that chord is that starts Castanets' "Cathedral 2" is amazing. For progression: "Go Down, Moses."

28. What instrument would you most like to learn to play?

There are so many. I wish I were a better guitarist, a better pianist, a better trombonist. I wish I had a cello, a bass, a bassoon, a berimbau, a domra, a nyckelharpa, an angélique, a surbahar, and someone to teach me how to play them.

29. Who do you wish more people were listening to?

The Autistic Daughters album that came out last year, Uneasy Flowers, though really, most everything Dean Roberts has been involved with has been anywhere from great to phenomenal.

30. How many languages do you speak?

I studied Spanish all through college, and I can read it pretty well, though speaking it is somewhat more of a challenge. It comes back to me in moments of panic.

31. Other than musician, what career would you most enjoy?

I think my calling is in education. I'd love to be a professor somewhere. Failing that, lottery-winner.

32. Best thing you learned this week/month?

Everything awesome I've learned this month came from Eliot Weinberger's Karmic Traces. His essays on Iceland were incredible, though that could be said about pretty much everything in that book. As long as you're making a list, put his An Elemental Thing on there, too. He has an essay on wrens in there that's one of the best things I've read in a long time.

33. What's something you could teach anyone in an hour or less?

How to count on your fingers in binary. You can count up to 31 on one hand, and over 1,000 with both of them. There's no reason you'd ever need to do that, but, you know, show your friends.

34. What's the best joke you heard recently?

A mathematician, a physicist, and a statistician are duck hunting.

They see a duck flying by, and the mathematician fires, missing by a foot high.

The physicist chides his friend for neglecting air friction and relative velocities, fires at the duck himself, and misses by a foot low.

The statistician exclaims, "Yeah! We got 'im!"

35. What's the best place you've randomly discovered while on tour?

At the Pitchfork Festival last year there was a food vendor selling these amazing Croatian sausages called ćevapčići, made from pork, beef, lamb, and garlic, and served with a red bell pepper, eggplant, and garlic sauce called ajvar, all in a warm pita. It was one of the best meals I've ever gotten from a cart.

36. Lyrics first or music first?

Lyrics. Unless I'm writing songs with Evan, in which case the lyrics are all improvised and come at more or less the same time as the improvised instrumental parts.

37. What do you consider most important about a song's structure?

Bridges can make or break a song. If you have a fantastic bridge it can help make up for a somewhat weaker verse; however, if your verse is good and your chorus is good but your bridge sucks, that clunky bit between the two of them is going to grate on your listener and draw away from the parts on either side of it.

38. What is your family like?

Extremely symmetrical. I have one brother (we're twins). My mom has one brother, eight years older than she is, and her mother; my dad has one sister, eight years older than he is, and his father. Neither my aunt or my uncle are married, so I have no cousins. My mom and dad also each have one cat.

39. What's something you could probably beat anyone you know at?

Fencing. I used to be pretty good, though I haven't done it in years. I don't know anyone else who fences, though, so I think I'd still have the advantage.

40. What was your best/worst subject in school?

English and I always got on pretty well. My worst subject was probably math. I was always a year behind. I'd struggle and struggle with advanced algebra all through that class, and then when I (barely) passed and moved up to trigonometry, suddenly advanced algebra clicked. It all made sense. Trigonometry, on the other hand, confused the hell out of me. If I hadn't stopped taking math classes after that one, however, I'd probably be able to trig-on with best of them.

41. If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would it be?

I've been missing Barcelona a lot lately. I'd try and find a planet that was just like that city and live there for a while.

42. What's an image that haunts you to this day?

There's that scene at the beginning of The Mothman Prophecies where the monster swoops down and attacks the car that has pretty much scarred me for life. No one else ever seems to understand how terrifying that is to me. It comes out of nowhere.

43. What's the road ahead look like?

Grad school, but it might just be a heat mirage.

44. Something you've heard, know is false, but wish were true with all your heart?

The Mayans have some incredible creation myths, including one about one of their gods creating the world and another one jealously destroying it by sending jaguars to eat everyone. It's one of the most badass endtimes ever. The Great Flood? Not quite as scary as getting eaten by a jaguar.

45. What's the best lie you've ever told?

When I was I Boy Scouts we took a camping trip to Eagle Cave up in Wisconsin, which is the largest and only cave I've ever spent the night in. We spent all day spelunking, and people kept talking about how there were probably bats in there, so after dinner, as we were still crawling around everywhere, I pulled myself up into a little crevasse and starting chirping. The kids all came running and calling out, "Bat! There's a bat!" and while they climbed up to — I don't even know, catch it? — I climbed out the back way and pretended I was interested in the bat as well. For the rest of trip they kept talking about how they almost caught it but it flew away. I don't think I ever told them it was me.

46. Where do you keep things hidden? What do you keep hidden there?

I used to keep money in the inside cover of my favorite Goosebumps book (One Day at Horrorland; I still own them all). I haven't done that for years and years, though, so don't break into my house and check.

47. Biggest fear?

People I love dying. Grievous bodily harm. Whales.

48. Biggest moment of triumph?

I won a whole stack of medals at a literary festival back in high school, probably because my poetry wasn't angsty and my stories weren't science fiction. I was a good writer back in high school, I don't know what the hell happened.

49. Now that you know a much larger audience will get to hear the music you've made, has your writing changed at all? How? What's changed and what's stayed the same?

This one isn't really applicable, as I don't think anyone has heard my music except the people I've written it with. I can say that when I write-write music, with notes, on the computer, the songs I write are far different from the ones I come up with on my own, messing around on the guitar or piano. I think about things more when I have a staff in front of me than if I'm writing from an instrument, though that usually means that the songs I write down sound more like intellectual exercises than music and the ones I don't sound sloppy.

50. What's your religious tradition or background?

I was raised Presbyterian, though my favorite part of church was playing hide-and-seek or sardines with the other kids afterward. My brother and I would always go to the kitchen after the service and drink all the extra little shots of grape juice that didn't get served as Communion. I really liked the pipe organ. Somewhere in between the three of those (childhood games, grape juice, giant instruments) is my current religious tradition.

51. What are you currently obsessed with?

I get obsessed with something new every day, but for a while now it's been cephalophores: Catholic saints who were martyred by being decapitated who then carry their heads around and speak.

52. At what point did you realize that music was going to be your full-time occupation?

If music somehow became my full-time occupation I would be more surprised than anyone.

53. So far in your career, what's been your biggest regret?

Having too many interests that take up too much non-music, non-writing time. I don't know if I regret that as much as wish the Earth spun a little slower and we all got 30-hour days.

54. So far in your career, what's been your proudest accomplishment?

I'm still incredibly pleased that the Comic Book Tattoo feature turned out as well as it did. Rantz Hoseley is one of the nicest men I've ever talked to, and went way out of his way for us to help us line up interviews and get it out there. When I first came up with the idea I didn't think there was any way we'd get it to work, but somehow it all came together.

55. You're curating a festival. If you could choose any two bands to open for you, who would they be?

Talk Talk and Do Make Say Think.

56. Have you ever considered writing or producing for other artists?

I almost have to. I'm a terrible singer but most of my songs have words.

57. Most rock star thing you've ever done?

I wear Buddy Holly glasses, and sort of look like Rivers Cuomo. That's about as rock star as I get.

58. Least rock star thing you've ever done?

One year for Halloween I dressed up as a pun.

59. Worst venue you've ever played?

Just once I'd like to record in a room that wasn't designed for sleeping, storing things, and/or made of concrete.

60. What's the worst show you've ever played? What would you have done different?

I've never played live with anything other than a marching band, which isn't really the same thing. I whacked someone in the head with my trombone once during a field show, though.

61. What's the best advice you could give to a young, upstart band?

Do all the interviews you can. I hear there are websites devoted to that sort of thing now.

62. Your favorite song that you've done so far?

I did an arrangement of "Cloud 9," from Caryl Churchill's play of the same name, as the music director one term back in college. It was bluesy and wonderful and way too difficult for the actors who had to play and sing it, so it didn't make it into the show. Only a very few people have ever heard it.

63. Band/artist you're secretly envious of?

I don't think there are any artists I'm "secretly" envious of. I am pretty openly envious of everyone. I haven't publicly stated how much I love Erykah Badu yet, though, so we'll go with her.

64. Weirdest promotion you've been a part of?

On my drive to work for a long time there was an enormous man, probably 6'3", 275 lbs, wearing a green Statue of Liberty costume, with a giant mask over his face, holding a sign for the local tax preparers. I didn't get my taxes done there, but as a witness I still consider myself part of that promotion.

65. Ever see yourself penning the score/soundtrack to a TV show or film?

I doubt it.

66. Worst song you've heard recently?

I'm so sick of AutoTune. Anything that has been AutoTuned.

67. Do you reach any kind of personal catharsis when it comes to songwriting/performing?

Sometimes the only thing that makes me feel better is turning up my distortion pedal and playing nothing but noise for ten or fifteen minutes. Just sheets and sheets of terrible noise, long-delayed and let to repeat until it slowly fades itself out.

68. Favorite interview you've ever been a part of (aside from this one, obviously)?

My first Aleatory was with Gotye, who is incredibly funny and kind. I hate to pick favorites, but getting back great responses from my very first interviewee felt like a wonderful validation of the site and its principles.

69. There's got to be one: who has been your craziest fan?

When I was little I had one of those visors with a solar-powered fan on it. It had a hole cut in the brim and the fan was supposed to keep your head cool, but my hair is too thick and it never really worked. Actually, I've changed my mind: that's the least rock star thing I've ever done — worn that hat.

70. What is a personal belief you hold that you would fight for to the death?

I'm trying to think of one, but "fight for to the death" keeps tripping me up. There are some things I feel strongly about, but I'm much more of a "let's agree to disagree, then" kind of guy than one who would fight somebody. Not even to the bloody nose, or to the sort-of bruised shoulder. Maybe that's what I would fight for to the death: non-violent interpersonal conflict resolution. Agree with that or I'll cut you.

71. How well do you feel your music lends itself to remixing or being covered?

You can cover one of my songs, that would be great. My songs are up for covering.

72. A few years ago, Beck gave an interview for SPIN in which he lamented the glut of reality TV shows and blogs about musicians, wanting to know less details about their life because he felt they were more mysterious that way (he liked to envision Devo as living in a crazed art-deco pyramid when he was young, instead of just some guys in a tour bus). Do you feel that there's a lack of mystique out there for musicians in today's YouTube age? Do you feel your band carries any mystique?
I feel there's less of a mystique about everything. If you look hard enough you can find information about whatever you want online. It's great for learning and discovery, but sometimes the mystery is what you really want after all. I often find myself somewhat disappointed when I see a picture of an artist or writer for the first time, because I always imagined them as different somehow. I guess it's the difference between "an" answer and the correct one.

73. Are there any songs that you're working on right now?

Always. I get stuck sometimes, but it's nice to have a constant problem to mull over.

74. Better to burn out or to fade away?

Ideally it's a series of slow fades, marked by flares of brilliance every half-decade or so to let people know you're still alive. That way you don't get used up all at once, and you don't get diminishing returns on your talent by churning out albums (books, whatever) you haven't given enough time to. Deadlines are the worst thing that ever happened to art.

75. Very first song that you ever wrote?

I remember when I was six or seven I re-wrote a version of the Christmas carol "We Three Kings" as "We Three Cats." They were on a journey from the Orient to bring baby Jesus catnip and rubber mice. Sadly the song has been lost.

76. Dream collaboration?

Someday I hope to get married to a woman who is far more musically-inclined than myself, and the two of us can write songs together. Other than my imaginary dream girl? Let's go with Burial. The music we make is nothing like one another's, but I'd love to be one of his vocal samples.

77. What was the hardest part about recording your current release?

Right now: finding a singer.

78. Your life has been reduced to a bumper sticker: what does it say?

It probably wouldn't say anything, it'd just look like a Band-Aid to cover up holes in your fender.

79. Best concert you've ever been to?

Yellow Swans, Frog Eyes, and Xiu Xiu at the Bottom Lounge. All three had absolutely incredible sets. I've seen Xiu Xiu several times, and this was by far their best. They could have been by themselves and it would have been one of the best shows I've been to, but the others were way more than just icing. Yellow Swans just played one fifteen-minute song and it absolutely destroyed, we all shouted for an encore.

80. Worst run-in with the law (to date)?

Speeding tickets? I got pulled over last week by the nicest police officer ever, though. Very very friendly, courteous, explained everything very politely, and only gave me a warning. Plus, the whole stop was over in three or four minutes.

81. If you could sync an album of yours to a movie (like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz), what movie would it be?

I would love to sync something up with Werckmeister Harmonies, but the music in that film is so incredible already that, really, I just wish I could write scores like Mihály Vig.

82. Current pop song that you would file under "guilty pleasure"?

I've been listening to a lot of Tom Petty lately. I do love me some "Break Down."

83. Have you ever thought of pulling a Jack White-styled Raconteurs/White Stripes thing and be in multiple bands at once? If so, what would the other band sound like?

Sure, if I had the time I'd play music with anyone who wanted me around. We could sound like anything in the world, really. I'm very flexible.

84. Most disappointing concert you ever attended?

Alien Ant Farm played at Oyster Fest in Chicago one year. It was outside on the street and kids were moshing (this is back when "Smooth Criminal" and Michael Jackson was still alive, but probably spinning in his grave regardless) and I guess this girl fell down and got her hand stepped on. She pulled her hand back and got her pinky ripped right off. The show stopped for a good ten minutes while the medical people searched for it, but they never did find her finger. So, that, plus it was Alien Ant Farm, who I was only watching because Cake was going to be up next, and it was just a terrible show. (To make matters worse, we didn't get to see Cake, either.)

85. What's the biggest mistake you've made that you inadvertently learned a great lesson from?

I try and learn something from all of my mistakes, so that when I do it again I'll remember, "Oh, yeah, I wasn't going to do that anymore." It's not that I stop making the same mistakes, but after a while I realize going into it that I shouldn't.

Like with milkshakes. I'm sort of lactose intolerant, but I really like milkshakes, and sometimes I'm okay with accepting that I'm going to have an awful stomach ache later if I have a milkshake now. This is pretty much my philosophy on art and relationships, too.

86. With Radiohead's In Rainbows release and Nine Inch Nails doing boffo business with his online releases, do you see yourself ever doing some alterative kind of release for any of your future projects?

I like giving things away. I can't imagine ever charging someone $15 for a CD of songs I've written. At some point, if I ever release music on a scale larger than four people or so, I'll definitely be considering alternative distribution options.

87. Ultimately, you will want to be remembered as...

It is my fondest hope that no one hears of my death and says, "Well, he was kind of a dick anyway."

88. What's your deepest source for musical inspiration?

Working around my physical limitations.

89. You just died. I'm sorry. Fortunately, your will states that you want very specific music to be played at your funeral. What did you choose?

I really want a jazz funeral, complete with hymn singing and dirges, lots of low brass and bari sax. If someone can make that happen, notify my next of kin.

90. Sexiest thing about you?

I have a great chin.

91. Which single album should be in everybody's home?

The Velvet Underground and Nico. Though by this point, I think most people I know do have this in their home.

92. Which venue are you dying to play but have not yet had the chance to?

The Metro in Chicago. It's designed so well, there truly are no bad seats in the house. Personally I'm a big fan of the balcony.

93. Longest show you ever played? What was different?

Again, I'm going to have to fall back on marching band: there was this awful show we did every year -- I think it was the Sycamore Pumpkin Fest, which is in October -- but for some reason this one year it was like 90 degrees or something, and we were all in our heavy wool uniforms, marching for several miles, carrying hot, heavy brass instruments, trying not to faint.

94. What's your hardest song to replicate live?

One of the songs Evan and I recorded involved him using my cello bow on my guitar, and then, after that was tracked out, he gave the guitar and bow to me and I recorded an overdub, without listening to what he had just laid down. The fact that it's not utter crap is what's most surprising, but I have no idea how we'd replicate that on stage.

95. Do you ever read your own reviews?

I proofread my reviews sometimes.

96. The one thing that no one knows about you (yet)?

I keep everything. Everything. Paper-bag puppets I made in fifth grade, all the notes my high school girlfriend ever wrote me, paper crowns from Medieval Times (three of them: red, yellow, and black-and-white checkered), cool rocks I find. There's a empty can of chrysanthemum tea under the passenger seat of my car right now because I wanted to remember that one of its ingredients is "aqueous extract of chrysanthemum." I keep everything.

97. Your label wants to do a music video for a song off your album, and have inexplicably procured $1,000,000 as a budget, then decide that you'd best direct the visual accompaniment to your own music. What song do you choose, and what will your video look like?

The video would be a montage of clips of me spending $1,000,000 within the length of the song, with a little ticker in the corner showing how much I've spent. It'd be like Brewster's Millions except I'd keep all the stuff.

98. Would you say that there's somewhat of a political undertone to your music? If so, what motivates it?

No, I don't think so. At least, not overtly. Personal politics, or morals, or ethics, whatever, informs everything, though.

99. Licensing your music out to companies for TV ads: good or bad?

Depends on what the music's purpose is. If it's a song about having fun and making you money, sure, sell it to anyone who will pay for it. But if you look at your songs as works of art, or works striving to be art, commercializing them cheapens that, I think. I don't know, I just do the interviews.

100. Even with the gradual decay of the B-side, most artists still have vaults of unreleased songs. What's in yours?

Everything I've written can be considered a B-side. However, Evan came up with a song about gonnhorhea that I played tambourine on. If he won't tell you about that one, I sure as hell will.

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And that's it for now! Come back and join us for another exciting year of interviews, Aleatories, and extreme randomness here, and only here, at Globecat!