Monday, December 7, 2009

Chatting With Em (The Action Design)

If you missed Sick of Sarah's 'Sleep When You're Dead Tour' this past summer I feel so bad for you! SoS' two supporting acts Donora and The Action Design were just fantastic live. I had never heard of The Action Design prior to this tour. I was hooked right away! The songs are fun, energetic and sometimes really sad. While the lyrics can sometimes be part of a sad story, they are always fun to sing along to, and the choruses, always catchy. Em is just a ball of energy, and you can't help but want to be apart of the vibe she's pulling you into. She moves around the stage and keyboards just a little bit less than Emily Haines! It really was a great show, one that I left with 2 tAD records and no SoS merch, which is saying a lot about tAD's performance that night!

Hello Em! Thanks for doing this. This really means…more than you know! Thank you so much!

Hey, no problem at all! Thanks so much for interviewing me!

I’m a new tAD fan. I just discovered you guys when you played with Sick of Sarah at a Michigan show in October. You guys blew me away! Absolutely amazing! How was it touring with Sick of Sarah?

Wow, thank you! It was super fun touring with Sick of Sarah – they’re all so friendly and fun to hang out with. We were like family, taking care of each other through all the van breakdowns!

I also love the Tsunami Bomb material a lot as well. Although Tsunami Bomb was a punk band, I found the tAD tracks and the TB tracks to be quite complementary to each other. When bands break up it’s usually hardest on the fans, but since I personally felt I could easily transition from one band to another sonically; I was wondering if the Tsunami Bomb fans did the same. Do you believe that a lot of the tAD fan base is made up of TB fans?

I feel like a lot of our most loyal fans came with us from Tsunami Bomb, but overall I’d say it’s a pretty good mix of TB fans and new tAD fans.

Another amazing thing about you guys is that you seem to be all about the personal touch. The online store is full of hand-printed artwork! That’s pretty great. How do you come up with all the designs/ideas? What inspires you? How do you even have time to sew, print and design all these orders individually!?

Ha ha, I just don’t have much time for anything else! For imagery, a lot of times I draw inspiration from the lyrics or from a concept that the band is into at the time. I want to do more with the sewing… I’ve got a few more ideas I haven’t completed yet!

This is a silly question, but as I mentioned I am a new fan. You seem to be extremely artistic and all of the items you design are awesome! You obviously have a gift for design as well as music. I have to ask, does your love of design/art have anything to do with your band’s name?

No, I didn’t even think of that! I do enjoy doing design work, but that came from necessity. The band name is more an expression of productivity and positivity.

When did you realize you wanted to be a singer/musician?

I wanted to be a singer when I first heard punk rock years ago, which came to me in the form of Green Day. I loved it SO much that I just wanted to be part of it – at the time, I never thought it would be such a big part of my future!

What are some of your early musical influences?

Aside from Green Day, I’d say Rancid, No Doubt, Tilt, MxPx… my parents always listened to The Beatles, James Taylor, and Huey Lewis & the News when I was really little, so they always have a place in my heart as well.

Are you into any current bands?

Morrissey, Metric, Phoenix… mostly I’ve been listening to vinyl lately, and my collection is a lot of old yard sale/thrift store stuff. My current favorites are Dolly Parton, Cat Stevens, The Faint (NOT a yard sale purchase!), Michael Jackson’s Thriller… and random bullfighting music and burlesque music from the 50s.

I’ve been keeping up with tAD’s Youtube channel as well. I have to say the new material you guys are working on sounds SO GOOD. Can you tell us when we could possibly hear a new tAD record?

Soon, very soon! Well, not a whole record I suppose, but we do have 2 songs that we’re going to unveil when they’re ready.

And for the last, most hard-hitting question of all! Is Jaycen’s last name really “Mckissick”? Also have you ever known anyone to spell it “Jaycen”??? If this is too personal feel free not to answer :p

Ha ha, I like how this is the most hard-hitting! Yes, his last name is definitely Mckissick. And I’ve never seen any other Jasons spell their name like him! There’s only one Jaycen in my life!

If you love yourself be sure to check out the live performances below, especially the unplugged performance of "Tokyo Train", and if you don't love yourself do it for me, cause I love you;-)

photo credit: Trish Leeper

Landmines (Live, posted by 'mrbayag')

Tokyo Train at Fearless Music

Pale Horizon at KDHX

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lucas Silveira: Better Than Ever

Lucas Silveira is pretty much the man. And it doesn't matter how many line-up changes The Cliks experience the core won't change. Lucas is the heart and soul of The Cliks. The guy's also a sweetheart! Not only did he get the answers back to me in an hour (record!), he also told me I could send in more questions! Well I hope you enjoy the read. It's a very revealing, sad and yet...optimistic look into the mind of Lucas Silveira.

I saw you guys play in Detroit about a month and a half before Dirty King came out. The show was amazing! How was that mini-tour? Were you at all nervous about playing new material live for fans before they had heard it?

The mini tour was unbelievably exhausting to my recollection. Short time and all you can do on the road crammed in 7 days. After that show in Detroit we drove straight to Columbus and got lost because your main highway was closed. It was a nightmare! And then arrived at 6 am, had to wake up at 10 AM and do a live radio show and play 3 songs, then go to a sound check at 1 PM. Can you say tired?
As for fans hearing the material, I think live is always the best way to introduce people to your music, so no, not nervous.More excited than anything.

I read that The Cliks actually released a debut, self-titled record in 2004. I have to admit I was not aware of this. Is this record available? If not, any possibility of a re-release?

Yes, this is true. It was an entirely different band. Actually, every Cliks album has a different band so that's a little telling. Ha ha.
There's only 1000 copies printed and I think I have about 50 left for keep sakes. You can get it online digitally though on the Maple Music website.
As for re-release, anything is possible, but not planning on that right now. I don't like working backwards.

I know that 2005 was a really tough year for you with that 'Cliks' line-up parting and also a lot of sad things happening in your personal life. That experience would have broken most people. How did you get through that?

It was indeed a hellish year. I've learned from that experience that it sometimes takes those bad experiences to break you down so you can build yourself back up again and I think that's what I did and am still doing. I got through that with music and some really good friends & a loving family. I'm lucky that way. I think I'm still recovering from all that because I think when trauma hits your life like that, your body holds it and releases the sadness slowly when you're in a better place so that you can handle it. So I still have bad days from remembering all of it but nothing you can do but move forward.

When you decided to transition did you have any fears or concerns about what effect that might have had on your music career?

Of course. It was my main concern. Before I came out, I completely resigned myself to the fact that I would never be successful because of coming out as a trans man. I would always do music for the love but I told myself mainstream success was going to be out of the question. Then I come out and 6 months later we got signed. I sometimes think when you stop trying so hard to be something you're not, that's when things fall into place.

I'm so sad about there not being a True Colors tour this year! And wow what an AMAZING line up last year! Did you get close to any of the other bands on the tour?

True Colors was indeed an amazing experience. The best I've had so far. I kept in touch with Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls and thank god I did because now he's the new drummer for The Cliks! Whoopee! I'm also pals with Margaret Cho and actually just wrote a song with her for her new album and of course have kept in touch and email often with the Queen herself, Cyndi Lauper. She's been an immense support for me.

You guys hooked up with Sylvia Massy for the production of Dirty King. She's responsible for half my ipod; from Tool to Johnny Cash to System of a Down! The woman is brilliant! How did you guys end up working with her? What was that experience like?

It was through an engineer named Mike Philips who worked at Radio Star studios that we ended up in Weed, California to record the album. He had let her hear Snakehouse and she loved it and emailed us and said she'd like to throw her hat in the ring to produce the next album and how could we say no to that? It was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about myself as a songwriter there primarily and realized that no matter how many machines and tools you have to record an album, a good record comes from good songs and that's what Sylvia taught me.

Since the most recent 'Cliks' line-up broke up you've actually been more visible/active on the web. You also seem to be interacting with fans more. And judging for your tweets it seems you've been having more time for family and friends. I know you're a bit of a workaholic, did this break-up turn out to be a much needed vacation for you?

I think my visibility on the web was always something I'd wanted to do and yes, I do it a lot more now. With the old band I really felt that I had to censor a lot of what I did. It was harder to be myself because I felt so much jealousy coming from them unfortunately. So I would sort of hand it over to them and they would do nothing. In the years that they were in the band I think they wrote maybe 1 or 2 blogs and they were very forced. They didn't feel the same way about fans that I did. It was actually part of the tension between us. I love the fans. Without fans, artists have no one to connect what they create to. Morgan and Jen resented a lot of their fans and typically only took notice of the ones that were musicians.
I have had a long forced break and yes, it's what I needed. It's like the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens and I'm doing a lot of self work right now and realizing what I actually need as opposed to what I want out of life.
The relationship I had with them was toxic to the point that Jen felt justified in sometimes uttering transphobic comments. I haven't talked about it before but feel it's due time I come out about it because it was so hurtful. There's no good that comes from a band mate calling you "it".

So earlier this month you revealed the new 'Cliks' line-up, which includes Tobi Parks (Bambi) on bass, and Brian Viglione (The Dresden Dolls!!!) on drums. That's exciting! Any plans to start touring Dirty King again?

Yes, we're doing 2 shows this year as sadly that's all that was available at this point in the game. Brooklyn NY December 11th and Cambridge MA December 12th. Tours take months to plan so now we'll be hitting the road again in March of 2010 and finally touring the album.

I have a question from one of your fans (and twitter followers), Fireboltx:

Having had so many line-up changes in your band how easy or difficult is it to adjust to newly recruited band members, past and present?

This new line up was actually the easiest most natural change I ever went through. It's easy to feel good with the people you play with when you see they want it as bad as you do, and Brian and Tobi really do. We had 1 rehearsal for the show we did in DC and it was the best show I have ever done in my entire Cliks career. They're pros and their energy is on the money. It's not about ego, it's about music.
The band before was a lot more difficult. When I went from Heidi Chan and Ezri Kaysen, who were the original Cliks, into Morgan and Jordan, the second line up, I had a tough time. Morgan took a hired hand attitude to being in the band, like a job, even though she wasn't a hired hand and Jordan, well, that's a long story.
The addition of musicians as we went along was also difficult because everyone was always 20 steps ahead in expectations and that is what made them fail as band members. The work comes first, the reward, later. They didn't want to put their all into it and eventually got tired of waiting.
I think this new line up is completely different in that capacity because they've actually done more work already than any other band members I've been involved with and I need that kind of support because a band isn't just what happens on stage, mainly, these days, it's what happens off stage. That has to be solid because if it isn't, what happens on stage ends up falling apart.

One more question. Other than Lady GaGa, who are some of your favorite current bands/artists?

I'm actually so into the rnb and hip hop side of music right now because I feel like a lot of rock music is going to the birds.
I love the crap out of Beyonce, Jay Z, Rihanna, TI, Kid Cudi and outside of that I love the Arcade Fire, Bloc Party but mainly I am obsessed with an artist by the name of Geo Wyeth with a project called Novice Theory. He's a trans guy and on Testosterone and has been able to retain his singing voice so that has given me a new perspective on that whole situation.