Review: Viva Killers in Nash Vegas*

April 25, 2007


By Andy Smith, Contributing Editor
2007.04

“Don’t give the ghost up just clench your fist
You should have known by now you were on my list”

—“My List” by the Killers

Killers frontman Brandon Flowers put Nashville on his list for a magical Monday night show at the historic Ryman Auditorium. To a few thousand Tennesseans (and some who had traveled from around the region), the boys from Las Vegas seemed right at home, embracing the churchy kitsch and consumer corniness of the city to tune right in to the spiritual channel of the homeland we know as Nash Vegas.

When the tour in support of “Sam’s Town” first hit the road last autumn, the band was still finding its intimate groove and full-bodied flow. The Killers today exude even more than before, a flamboyant craft and renewed confidence to justify all the media chatter.

What a difference a winter tour of Europe must have made for the Killers’ killer mojo, for the overall mood of this band. Even though the current record and tour are all about roots and reckoning with a connection to this continent, somehow, if the reception of fickle rock writers is any indication, the folks overseas merged with that mood of “American masquerade” much more than the perennial skeptics here.

To distract us on the first American leg, Flowers battled health problems, even canceling some shows. Meanwhile, the fans fought for tickets to club shows and waded through the critical backlash growing like weeds on the roadside in the land of the free ride. For this writer, catching one of those dates was a bit like getting a cool drink of water while rambling through the parched backdrop of one of those famous desert Anton Corbijn photo shoots. After quenching my thirst with such a strong showing in Philadelphia in December, I had no idea what awaited me when the band returned to fill theaters and small arenas in the spring.


(Photo credit: Torey Mundkowsky for st33.com)

When my last show ended, I couldn’t help but wonder why it wasn’t longer, craving more Killers than 70 minutes and a short encore. But by late Monday, the band’s relentless showmanship left us fully sated. Packaged like a sandwich by the surreal and serene “Enterlude” and “Exitlude,” the 90-minute set included every song from “Sam’s Town” except for “Why Do I Keep Counting,” the first seven songs from “Hot Fuss,” and an intoxicatingly intense Joy Division cover called “Shadowplay.”

Since the popular and populist refrains of “When You Were Young” had the whole hall swaying, smiling, and singing along with such energy early in the set, it was hard to imagine any band sustaining such a stunning stage presence for an entire show. But Flowers’ boundless Bono-meets-Peter Pan prancing pushes past its inherent pretensions, with him at home behind the piano or perched on the monitors, making his sweeping rock star gestures into the hearts and heads of everyone in attendance. While some artists prefer the tight-knit small-is-beautiful vibe of bars, even those mid-size clubs are too claustrophobic for a band like the Killers who see no limits to their own limitless potential.

As the splendid set traded tracks between the open-air hymnal “Sam’s Town” and the jumpy dance-rock of “Hot Fuss,” the band didn’t miss a lick. Newer songs like “Bones,” “Bling,” “This River is Wild,” “Read My Mind,” and “Uncle Jonny” all lend themselves to the thunder and lightning of live delivery. And “Hot Fuss” hits like “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” were guaranteed crowd-pleasers. The extended encore began with a mellow yet manic “My List,” sizzled through the Joy Division cover, rocked into a riveting “For Reasons Unknown,” and then lit up the room with an always anthemic “All These Things That I’ve Done.”


(Photo credit: Torey Mundkowsky for st33.com)

Afterwards, an exhausted and ecstatic crowd began to amble into the aisles. But the house lights stayed down. Soon, the band was back for one more bow, a beatific “Exitlude,” and finally, a brief and bursting refrain of “When You Were Young” that shook the rafters. At that point, the dancing that began with the sweetly surprising opening act the Silver Beats (a Tokyo-based Beatles tribute band) continued into the downtown Nashville streets.

On the record, “Sam’s Town” unapologetically pays tribute to its Boss and Bono influences. By owning its ancestry honestly and then going forward on rock’s mythic highway, the band is better able to push past hype and heritage to explore new musical landscapes. Certainly, the more pavement this tour puts behind it, the clearer it becomes that this hard-working band is willing to pay its dues. The more gigs they play, the more the Killers come into their own as a great rock band for any era.

http://www.thekillersmusic.com

Review: TV on the Radio on the Brain in the Nashville Rain*

April 18, 2007


By Andy Smith, Contributing Editor
2007.04

The world is a dark place run by what TV on the Radio like to call a “Dry Drunk Emperor.” But as a divided culture taught us decades ago, dreadful days can produce some truly great art. Yet not many were thinking about the ignorance of war or the imminence of tax day when the TV on the Radio entourage tore into Nashville last Saturday for a packed show at the Cannery Ballroom.

A cadre of core fans were joined by hundreds more, hungry to see and hear what the hype is all about. Supported by the fiery presence of UK’s Noisettes, Brooklyn’s fabulous quintet proved once more why it is without quarrel one of the world’s most enraged examples of elegant-and-engaged art rock. As much as the full metal jacket of Rage against the Machine defined 90s agit-prop, TV on the Radio’s genre-breaking and greatness-taking beauty has raised the bar for socially-conscious musical craft at a time when the world desperately needs it.

In an interview with Prefix, guitarist David Andrew Sitek explains it this way, “Division of genres is becoming less and less relevant. Why wouldn’t they merge more? Tons of bands are experimenting with sounds that push those boundaries, and the industry just hasn’t jumped behind them yet.”

Though the construct of “originality” is as overrated as most professional athletes, its authentic realization is as rare as a Jewish pope. The common myth we grew up hearing preaches that true genius gets rewarded every day, as the culture loves lionizing bootstrap billionaires who went from poverty to power based on sheer ingenuity and integrity—or as someone famous once quipped: perspiration and inspiration.

Of course we know the truth: most so-called art overpopulating the mainstream is a bucket of bollocks. And the popular music we love the most frequently wears its derivative influences up front. That’s what many of us crave—the hook-laden and happy music that reminds us of something obvious like the Beatles or church sing-alongs.

But without sacrificing a memorable melody or an addictive chorus, TV on the Radio takes us elsewhere. When we name check this sonic freakfest as Marvin Gaye meets Ian MacKaye or Prince meets Radiohead, we are only painting random markers in pioneer territory because TV on the Radio owns the “original” tag that rock careerists covet but cannot regularly achieve.

When a band tours, daily life as most of us know it switches into a constantly stimulating adventure of changing scenery—and working for a living every night. When we go to shows, we put on our best party clothes and leave the stress and mess at the house or office. The convergence of the local crowd and the touring act is one of America’s least analyzed and most- loved cultural rituals. TV on the Radio realizes this and thusly fulfills the function of conjurers and crusaders, creating contagious and visionary vibes on stage that spread throughout the venue.

Some reviewers have tried to compare the stripped down live show to the more intricate studio offerings of such ambitious albums as “Return to Cookie Mountain” and “Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes.” With this band, we could easily get into the deconstructive, navel-gazing minutiae of such discussions. Instead of bogging down in an either-or approach to that question, I now see both studio and live offerings from this band as superior—but entirely distinct. While the set list focused on featuring key “Cookie” tracks like “Province,” “Wolf Like Me,” “Wash the Day,” “Dirty Little Whirlwind,” and “A Method,” we also got a handful of older songs like “Dreams” and “Staring at the Sun.” The show passed much too quickly, anyway, without any real bathroom break or even downtempo moments.


(Photo credit: Landin King)

As a front man, Tunde Adebimpe’s voice itself should be enough to give us goose-pimply chills all over. But his performance poses more, and he commands our attention with his potent and possessed gestures of arm-waving enthusiasm that owe at least some debt to the gospel tradition. If we want to take our eyes of Adebimpe for just a moment, guitarist (and notorious studio geek) Sitek deserves our attention as he intently and intensely shakes the wind chimes on the neck of his axe, later approaching Jaleel Bunton’s drum kit to play the cymbal with his wind-chimes while still playing the guitar. Here lies the TV on the Radio appeal: it’s a wonderfully weird experiment in combining opposites until we reach the place where sonic synthesis transcends all previous assumptions and expectations of what music can and could be.

CD Reviews: Kings of Leon, Klaxons*

April 12, 2007


By Andy Smith, Contributing Editor
2007.04

Kings of Leon kick out the sin and salvation on “Because of the Times”

“She don’t care what her momma says no she’s gonna have my baby” begins the much anticipated follow-up to “Aha Shake Heartbreak” by Lebanon, Tennessee’s Kings of Leon. And a lot of girls would acquiesce—and could have already—if the stories the boys bragged about on the last record were true.

As an opening track, “Knocked Up” just nails it. Not waiting to be nabbed by the naysayers who will inevitably defile this as poetry that could be scrawled in any man’s high school notebook, Caleb Followill foists this chorus on us: “People call us renegades because we like living crazy/ We like taking on the town /I don’t care what nobody says no I’m going to be her lover / Always mad and usually drunk but I love her like no other.”

Frankly, a band that sonically sucked might be run out of many towns for insanely cheesy and arguably stupid stanzas like that. But this noise hails from Nash Vegas—hub of oft sappy and kitschy lyrics that should have been needle-pointed on grandma’s wall instead of over-produced by bad country-pop-stars. Moreover, when these hip-billy Followill boys throw it down, rock’s dorkiest quatrains sound like bible verses etched in honey on the breasts of angelic groupies, proving that the dated impossibility of religiously-infused rock decadence remains possible.

For us in the Volunteer State, it’s a regional thing—where revival tents get set up across the street from barbecue joints and some of the best whiskey in the world is made in what’s known as a “dry county.” Thus the lyrical mood that mixes sex, sin, and salvation travels from the sanctified mountaintops of evangelical living to the desperate valleys of joyful depravity.

Yet Nashville has considered crucifying the Kings—almost Dixie Chicks style—on more than one occasion, for the crime of making it; for partying at their Lebanon digs during the day; for getting it all the time and then writing songs about it. As Nathan Followill says in a recent interview with Uncut, “There’s a lot of bands in Nashville that hate us ‘cause they feel like we didn’t work for it.”

But the Music City needs our Kings even more than they need us, and knowing that, the credits on “Because of the Times” pay dues to “Nashville, Tennessee for inspiring this record.” This disc digs in and does your soul for 13 songs; all the tracks (with the possible exception of the cruel yawping “Charmer”) are confident and crafted to get under the skin and into heavy rotation.

On one of the many amazingly anthemic places on this record, “On Call” calls in the chimes—epic sounds they’ve likely learned from The Edge. “McFearless” refuses fake and flaunts fame at the same time in an authentic fuss with fate, refusing to relinquish the one thing that keeps it real. “Black Thumbnail” bites the same fame they obviously love in the butt, beginning to reckon with the trail of broken hearts in a heartless lyrical rip and rude guitar riff. With “Ragoo,” the boys go coy and funky in a southern kind of way, full of provincial confessions from lying, to being caught with one’s pants down, to owning slaves, to working in a factory, to being land-locked and settling for a stream instead of an ocean. And on it goes. Not a “B-side” among this cataclysmic and orgasmic collection. To balance the badass-ness of the whole shebang, on the sad-sounding and sanctified “The Runner,” the band realizes its inner fallibility and struggle and puts the cards on the communion table to croon in a choir-like way: “I talk to Jesus / Jesus says I’m OK.” Such is the southern theology. God expects us to be worthless, lying, cheating, sexing, drinking scum—and loves us anyway.

The lyrics on “Times” are all about high times, low times, and living the real shit-kicking life—grit from guys likely raised eating grits. But it’s doubtful that these days they’re really rolling it with the roughneck life, unless that’s what we might call the new punishing routine of golf, girls, and gigs. But even the most made-up or manufactured memories can be relived on records, in our hearts and minds, or on the private celluloid of the future. Plus, if it’s a good damn story, do you really care if it’s true? This band brings the bells and balls to the place where the true test is in the grooves they give. And give they do.

No matter how many nights the lusts of the body have been fulfilled, love is still an elusive and torturous theme for these rising suns. Already hot to rock arenas without having to open for Bob Dylan or U2, these sons of the preacher man are possessed by the holy spirit of the rock and roll lifestyle. And actually, their wayward ways aren’t that different than the sins of daddy the preacher man, apparently dressed down for too much drinking. The Kings’ premature mythos and suddenly mature music finally cross paths on this miraculous disc in a Johnny Cash-meets-Charles Bukowski manner, with a mood destined to deal in the elemental woes from the backfield of everyday life.

Sweet and meaty production from Ethan Johns gives this album the chance to be a major rock record. Love’s timeless tests get tested with radio-friendly echoes. But unless it’s a college station at places like Vanderbilt and MTSU, you probably won’t hear much of this born-to-be-a-classic on the radio around here. But we will get them at Bonnaroo—where they can teach all the visiting bands a thing or two about sunburn and summer in the bug-bitten Tennessee steam room that lasts from May to September.

On the addictive refrain from “Fans” they wail:

Make me feel like I’m the one who moves you
The only one you see
Take it down and don’t you let those tears quench the thirsty ground
And don’t you be so scared that you can’t make a sound
Make a sound for me
All of London sing
Because England swings and they sure love the tales I bring
Those rainy days ain’t so bad when you’re the king

“Because of the Times” is a wickedly pure and timeless rock record in what has so far been a remarkable year for popular music. The Kings of Lebanon are The Kings of Lewd are The Kings of Whatever They Want When They Want It—and the band and its growing fan base know it.

For more information, visit: http://www.kingsofleon.com. “Because of the Times” was released April 3, 2007 on RCA.

Klaxons Bring “New Rave” into the “Future”

By Kimberly Egolf, Contributing Editor
2004.07

In the fall of 2005, as the Arctic Monkeys colonized UK and US airwaves, Klaxons met for the first time knowing only that they didn’t want to play post-punk guitar music. Now they’re spearheading the “new rave” sound, being hailed as the next big thing to come out of the UK. It’s a label they invented and a sound based loosely on elements of late ‘90s glow-stick-and-sweat rave music. Klaxons’ debut album “Myths of the Near Future” reintroduces high-energy, gut-shaking beats pounding under euphoric vocal harmonies and fuzzily cascading guitars and keyboards. Post-punk this most certainly is not.

Like a superhero comic strip, Klaxons paint their apocalyptic vision in bright, broad colors. At times the album becomes gloriously outrageous and oversized as layer upon layer of sound spirals into a manic frenzy (listen to “Atlantis to Interzone” and “Magick”). At other moments, the album’s darker tone is reflected in a more relaxed and sober sound (listen to “As Above So Below” and “Two Receivers”). Like the gut-shaking drum beats, the images of a dystopian world contradict the mania of typical rave music.

Borrowing visions from science fiction great J.G. Ballard and dystopian novelist Thomas Pynchon, Klaxons imagine a world – not so very unlike our own – on the verge of catastrophe. Like their music, this world is sober and manic at the same time, both fearing and looking forward to the near future. If only Big Brother turns out to be this damn fun.

With their debut album (following up their successful “Xan Valleys” EP of late 2006), Klaxons are already constructing their future mythic status. Your near future should include theirs.

For more information, visit: http://www.klaxons.net. “Myths of the Near Future” was released March 27, 2007 on Geffen Records.

Review: The Black Angels and VietNam at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge*

April 4, 2007


By Andy Smith, Contributing Editor
2007.04

If the Black Angels were trying to throw off the unshakable notion that their music is just an irresistible flashback serum that turns the listener’s entire life into endless Hunter S. Thompson hallucinations and backwoods drunken bonfires, the band probably should not have asked VietNam to be tour-mates on their first headlining jaunt.

Given that both bands share roots in Austin, anti-establishment swagger, and influences at least as old as their parents, this teamwork makes infinite sense in a an OM-chanting meets coke-snorting sort of way. If the six Angels represent for the ‘60s, the ‘Nam boys remind us that the ‘70s came next. Music fans with cravings for either era should investigate this resurrection.

Besides becoming a bristling brother-and-sisterhood of indie-retro solidarity sealed in beer and blood, the Angels/Nam combo consistently proves why Austin needs to secede from Texas entirely. Currently on tour until April 21st, this double-billing of bluesy and ballsy beauty held its nightly ceremony of communal fuzz, stomp and growl at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge late last week.

Launching loudly at an early 10:25pm, VietNam’s stage presence confirms any rumors about these being some loose and wicked and pretty-good-looking stoner boys. Bassist Ivan Berko is a Cat Stevens/Devendra Banhart double, delicately doing his thing on the four strings. Drummer Michael Foss fills out the rhythm section with a balance between cymbal clanking detachment and downright dirty skin-punishing duty. Up front and in our face, fedora-sporting Joshua Grubb and Christ-channeling Michael Gerner seem to be battling each other for the lead singer job, swapping vocal duties and singing some songs together. For 40 minutes, VietNam waged its Dylanesque war on our ears and groins, and most of us willfully submitted to the delicious boy skanks and their deliberate time warp swagger.

After a short break and long before midnight, the lights went out again to usher in the Angels. Vocalist Alex Maas brings his enigmatic presence to the front, wearing his usual pageboy cap to contain his shaggy locks and hide his handsome face. During the long intro, he has a tambourine, but suddenly he switches to guitar. And by the looks of it, this first song requires four guitars and no bass. But switching instrumental duties is something this band does frequently and with ease, so only the most studious fan with a scorecard could keep up. I tried, but as the waves of Christian Bland’s wicked wah-wah washed over my overworked soul, I left the critic’s mind for the meandering bliss we find when we let the music “take us.” Taken indeed we were, not just by the Maas and Bland childhood partnership of crime—but by Jennifer Raines sweetly tweaking the murky and magical drone machine, by Nate Ryan ratcheting his rude bass riffs, by Kyle Hunt faithfully killing the floor tom, by Stephanie Bailey religiously obliterating us with relentlessly tribal drumming.


(From left: Stephanie Bailey (drums), Alex Maas (vocals), Nate Ryan, Kyle Hunt/Photo credit: Linzi Croy)

The 70-minute show was sick and spacey, primarily a sampler of new material and choice cuts from the amazing 2006 debut “Passover.” Such stinging, howling hymns as “The First Vietnamese War,” “Black Grease,” and “Better Off Alone” pleased the hundred folks, mostly assembled near the stage. As the set wound down, I realized it was time for the Black Angels to release some new material, such as the anticipated split EP with Vancouver’s Black Mountain.

Towards the end, we got the feeling we were at one of the band’s notorious practices conducted by candlelight where spirits get conjured by layering sounds like blankets on a sweat-lodge. This kind of experimental and loving blitzkrieg—wrought by chemistry as much as mind-altering chemicals—confirms that this six-piece of close friends and housemates have found a vocation more thrilling than anything drummer Stephanie Bailey imagined as an English major or that preacher’s son Christian Bland pondered studying advertising in grad school.

During the last year’s critical acclaim and meteoric rise from the Austin scene to scoring a spot at that world’s fair of rock called Bonnaroo, even the Black Angels have been bit by some of the cynical backlash that seems to follow any young band with some spiritual clout these days. They’ve had to deflect or ignore the assumption by some that this is a Doors and Velvet Underground cover band, even to the point of name-checking more obscure and twisted psychedelia—from the 13th Floor Elevators to the Psychic Ills, from the Brian Jonestown Massacre to the Butthole Surfers—just to make the case clear.


(From left Christian Bland (guitar) and Jennifer Raines (drone machine)/Photo credit: Linzi Croy)

But from the same lone-star region that brought America its current president, fate would have it that such a blistering bad moon of anti-war rebellion would rise from the same state. “Money and class are just a pain in the ass for me,” a blunt lyric from “Mr. Goldfinger” snarled and spit by VietNam, could be the watchword manifesto for this tour. Part of the combined, unadorned and unapologetic retro appeal is how shamelessly some band members sip and gulp their way into a sweet stupor. Nate Ryan cites as influences, “the song of the poet who died in the gutter.” Nobody told these groups that rock stars are supposed to be into yoga, health food, and business investments. Apparently, nobody involved wants to be a rock star; they’re having far too much fun to be worried about that.

By Friday night’s end, most seem to be investing seriously in a Saturday-morning hangover, which made lugging lots of gear down the front-steps at the Mercy Lounge a particular feat of fine art. Based on musical talent and reckless charisma alone, it’s clear these bands deserve any success they’ll attain. But up to this point, success—and all the stoic maturity that comes with it—does not deserve them.

For more information, please visit the following links:

http://www.myspace.com/vietnamtheband
http://www.theblackangels.com

Interview: Moises Szarf, ‘The Ethereal Connection: a Synthesis of U2 and The Beatles’

April 2, 2007


By Mark Reed
2007.04

Moises Szarf has an unusual idea. One not many people may necessarily agree with (some people think he’s a bit … odd, which is understandable). His hypothesis is that the eight-year career of The Beatles matches the 30 or so years of U2 in both style and content.

“The Ethereal Connection: a Synthesis of U2 and The Beatles” is the website he uses to posit this idea: a vast, and sometimes confusing archive of theories and explorations. It is neither easy to understand or explain.

Over several months, Interference engaged in dialog with Szarf to explore and understand the theory and ideas of the site. What is clear, is that Szarf’s work in its current incarnation is not easily digestible; rock ‘n’ roll is a process with three phases, each phase represented by a specific band, and sometimes, it gets complicated.

So here we are today, one year and half later, finally, bringing this to a closure in the form of an interview because two recent events have brought a sense of urgency to this matter:

-U2 recording their next album at Abbey Road studios.
-Brian Eno is producing Coldplay’s next album.

I know it seems confusing at first, but let’s have a little patience and hear it from Szarf directly.

Moises, what are you proposing with your hypothesis? What is its central aspect?

The main idea is that “rock ‘n’ roll is a process with a purpose.” It is something that had a beginning and, if everything goes well, will have an ending, and in between, a progression takes places. So if rock ‘n’ roll is a process, Elvis was the Big Bang, and from then on, it started to evolve. The first part of the process was carried by The Beatles career, then after their split, rock ‘n’ roll became grandiose and perhaps lost its vision; but then, punk injected new air, giving breathing room for U2 to emerge in a place when an idea doesn’t necessarily need musical competence to express itself. U2 is the Second Band carrying the second part of the process, after which a Third Band, will take the process to its conclusion.

I believe that everything has purpose in this world, and rock ‘n’ roll shouldn’t be an exception—the highest purpose of rock ‘n’ roll is to change the world. I mean, let’s face it, consciously or unconsciously, that is what we have been aiming at since the first chord rang in Chuck Berry’s guitar. Even in the most carnal stage when rock ‘n’ roll seemed to be a mere gut reaction to the status quo, there were messianic overtones

From the first humanitarian concert, the one for Bangladesh organized by George Harrison, up to the RED campaign, rock ‘n’ roll’s humanitarian efforts have become smarter and smarter, but my suggestion is that we are still far away from doing what we really need to do, though definitely heading there. And we will be there when the Third Band concludes their career.

Who is the Third Band? Do they exist already?

Yes, Coldplay.

Why Coldplay?

Several reasons. First, the music is great. Second, the band has certain moral. Third, we are considering rock ‘n’ roll as a massive phenomenon, and Coldplay is definitely taking on the responsibility of embracing the massive scale. And fourth, the career of the Third Band, as was the case with the First and Second, has to develop progressively from album to album, and it is at this point that what is currently happening with Brian Eno producing the band. Artistically, Coldplay is obviously at the same transition point that U2 were from “War” into “The Unforgettable Fire.”

What about other bands that have been very important for rock ‘n’ roll but are not included in your scheme? Why you make no mention of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd or more frequent ones like Nirvana or Radiohead, for example, or even more, what about Bob Dylan?

With respect to the other bands that you mentioned, and many others more, what I would say is the following: If we see rock ‘n’ roll as a whole, and we incorporate the notion that it’s purpose is to make a definitive contribution for the balancing of our planet, the Three Bands—The Beatles, U2, and Coldplay—would be the main parts of that purposeful whole, and they would be the central ones, the Spinal Chord, the Heart, and the Brain, let’s say, and the other rock bands that you mentioned would be other important parts like the stomach, the reproductive organs, the lungs, the kidneys, or the ladder; vital organs needed for the body to survive, but not the central ones.

Your website is a chronological comparison of similarities between the album covers of The Beatles and U2, which actually, is seen by many people as a stretch of the imagination.

A stretch of the imagination is kind in comparison to some other qualifications that my website has received, and I understand it, it is not something that is easy to swallow. They have to be seen as a whole, it’s easy to dismiss them if you isolate every comparison, but if you consider them in conjunction, a broad picture starts to emerge. I had an encounter with a good friend in which we decided to relate to each other the histories of our favorite bands, his The Beatles, mine U2, using the album covers arranged chronologically as guides, and when he got to the “Sgt. Pepper” period, what he was describing was the same experience I was having at that precise moment with “Achtung Baby” and “Zooropa.” That encounter happened 13 years ago in Venezuela, and it has to be understood that Anglican pop culture, even though very relevant there, it’s not as accessible as here, so even though I had heard of The Beatles, and I knew they were the greatest, I wasn’t aware of the scope of their career. Later I compared the covers of “Achtung Baby” and “Sgt. Pepper,” and the rest is history. It’s about interpreting the art of our spiritual leaders like holy scripture, the difference is that we won’t use it to make war and weapons, but to increase peace and understanding. No rifles, guitars.

So if Coldplay is the Third Band are you already looking into connections between their album covers and the ones of The Beatles and U2.

You bet I am, and I would say I have found very interesting and meaningful ones, that actually are really encouraging. In fact every one is invited to do the same and pass along their findings. That is why I have called my hypothesis “a Synthesis of U2 and The Beatles” There is a thesis, then in opposition, there is an anthithesis, and the factor that brings the two opposites together is the synthesis. So the role of Coldplay’s album covers is to be a bridge between the ones of The Beatles and U2. Actually, even though not even one time their name is mentioned in my website,the journey is setup as prayer for Coldplay, a prayer for their success, because if they are able to go full circle in the same way as The Beatles and U2 did, the rock ‘n’ roll process would be arriving to the point of the fulfillment of its purpose. It will actually be the end of something, but at the same time the beginning of something else.

But wait a minute, let’s say you are right, and Coldplay reads this interview, wouldn’t they be discouraged to keep on going, or worst wouldn’t they just fuck off on all of this just because a bunch of people is expecting them to make the next album cover with certain traits that would have to match with a predetermined Beatles or U2 album, wouldn’t that be boring, or predictable?

Well for example let’s look at what is happening with Coldplay at the moment. Brian Eno is producing their fourth album, and many people have already noticed how similar that is to what U2 did for their fourth album as well. Coldplay is looking for a leap, a significant evolutonary step in their music, like U2 did with “The Unforgettable Fire.” So in one way you can see that as copying U2, but it’s not. The key I believe is for Coldplay to follow their heart, that is the only guarantee of a great album, an unexpected album, despite all the predictability factors involved. And the same applies to the album covers. If an album cover is the reflection of the music which in turn is the reflection of the artist, and the band sticks to that without filtering through any preconceptions, I can almost guarantee that, in Coldplay’s case, their album covers will have meaningful avenues of interpretation with the ones of The Beatles and U2. But as everything, there are pre-determined progressions, forms, patterns, that cannot be avoided, the challenge is to fill the ever-present patterns with new influxes of spirit, every time. And I believe that Coldplay and Brian Eno understand that very well.

Previously you commented on the fact that you think rock ‘n’ roll’s humanitarian efforts have evolved over time, from the Bangladesh concert up to the current RED campaign, but that they are not yet where they should be yet, what do you mean by that?

The humanitarian efforts are exactly where they should be at the moment, what I am saying is that at some point in the future they will need to evolve further to incorporate a higher knowledge, because what happens? Let’s take the example of Live Aid. It was an amazing event, but it is now known that the money raised for Ethiopia was a drop in the sea of what was needed. I strongly believe that we are headed in the right direction, that it is always worth it to have compassion and justice, and we should always increase it. What makes us different from animals, is that we are able to produce that same fine material that is produced when we die, during our lifetime, through voluntary suffering, and I am referring the kind of suffering that inner work produces, which is the suffering of going against the tide, which is risky and it hurts. The key of balancing the planet is not in saving lives but in increasing inner work while we save lives. The great thing about rock ‘n’ roll is that if it is taken collectively, it is clear that it has been an “awakener” for a very large number of people, and it’s currently awakening to it’s own purpose and fate. I am considering rock ‘n’ roll as a living being, as an individual, and we are all part of it. And of course that not everybody within the rock ‘n’ roll community will agree to this, many will see it as the most ridiculous thing ever proposed, but that’s the the way it is.

So if what you are saying is accurate, when the Third Band concludes their career all of this will sink in. That will be the moment in which it will actually starts to take place.

Another process might start right away. It sounds messianic because it is messianic, The Beatles were messianic, U2 is messianic, and Coldplay is messianic. Three chords and the truth, its’s the the trinity of rock ‘n’ roll, right?

And what happens between now and then?

U2 releases its next album, at some point disintegrates, and Coldplay goes on. I mean, do you picture U2 extending their careers a la Rolling Stones. Perhaps, who knows? Personally I wouldn’t like to see a 58 year-old Bono jumping on the stage like teenager, and I don’t think that I am less of a U2 fan for that, I just think it doesn’t fit with them.

How does the fact that U2 recently recorded at Abbey Road relates to your hypothesis?

If you take the journey in my website you will go through a chronogical comparison which seeks to equate the career of the Beatles with the one of U2, comparing each of their albums in their order of release. Chronologically, “Let it Be” is compared to “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” and “Abbey Road,” the last Beatles album, will be compared to next U2 album, so the fact that they started to seed the soil for it in Abbey Road is very significant in regards to my proposition. I mean, what at this moment made them do that. Why now? Why not before or after? Perhaps it’s what they needed in order to get it going, to be in that holy peace of ground, to receive that influence. It’s so palpable in “Window in The Skies,” and I believe it will be palpable in the whole album, which they say will be a departure, and I believe it will be similar to the departure The Beatles achieved from “Let it Be” into “Abbey Road.” I mean “Let it Be,” which was originally called “Get Back” was a return to their roots, in the same way as “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” was for U2, so, in synch, an “Abbey Road” kind of leap will take place for the next U2 album.

Any other predictions for the future?

Perhaps. Coldplay’s next album will be the first one in which a picture of them will appear on the cover?

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