John Carpenter | “Skeleton” and Anthology

John Carpenter | “Skeleton” and Anthology

At the end of August, just in time for spooky season, legendary composer, writer, director and somewhat newly minted touring musician, John Carpenter released a new single, Skeleton, on Sacred Bones Records. This was Carpenters first new music since returning to the Halloween franchise to score 2018’s Halloween and his first new non-film release since the stellar 2015/16 full lengths Lost Themes I and Lost Themes II. Skeleton was released with the B-side Unclean Spirit

Skeleton is classic John Carpenter, but departs a bit from his soundtrack work. The first layer introduced is a driving 4/4 sequence with just enough wobble to give the track a bit of industrial drive. The progression is pretty simple, but the layered countermelodies bring out all sorts of interesting nuance. Skeleton also incorporates some big guitar parts that blend nicely and nod to the crunchy tones from In The Mouth of Madness or Christine.

For its part, Unclean Spirit seems like it would fit very well into a Halloween film, or as a resolution track following of the eerie, octave jumping call and response of The Fog.

It’s definitely a must-listen, and given that this is our favorite time of year, I would suggest diving into some of John Carpenter’s classic themes and non-film recordings as well.

John Carpenter is probably best known as a horror director…not just a horror director, but maybe the best known and most influential genre director in American cinema. And the thing about genre directors that makes them almost more impressive than more mainstream directors is an uncanny DIY ethic: an ability to make something out of nothing, to pull magic from the air with whatever tools are offered…sort of the John Lennon “give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it” mentality.

And John Carpenter has always brought that ethos to his music. No budget? No problem. No time? Don’t need it. We’ll get a deceptivelybig sound. 

I read that Carpenter composed and recorded his entire Assault on Precinct 13 theme in a few days on an EMS VCS3, which I believe retailed for about $500 in 1969. And the Halloween theme was made in a similar manner. The film was made for $320,000. The Shape (Michael Myers) was a spray painted William Shatner mask and a pair of coveralls. The film didn’t have a sountrack (or soundtrack budget), so Carpenter wrote the entire score in 3 days and recorded it on borrowed synths in under 2 weeks. 

Today, 42 years later, Halloween is a classic film and that creepy 5/4 theme is one of the most recognizable and eponymous pieces in film history. And it lives outside of film as well. There is not a synthwave or darkwave, or whatever artist on the planet who doesn’t cite John Carpenter as a key influence both sonically and practically. I’ve made entire albums based just on things I learned from studying John Carpenter. We all owe him royalties.

As singularly creepy as the themes for Halloween, The Fog and The Thing are, there is also some very interesting diversity in the John Carpenter catalog. I would point to: the jug-jug action theme from Big Trouble in Little China, the somewhat soaring C Maj theme from Starman, and of course, the electronic showtune blues from They Live.

Skeleton is available on vinyl in several color options from Sacred Bones Records. And while you’re shoppng, consider picking up Lost Themes, Lost Themes II, John Carpenter’s Anthology and the 2018 Halloween OST.

And if yu’re considering a Halloween franchise movie maraton this week, it’s good to now that there is no canon beyond Halloween I and II. I read (somewhere, sometime in a nerd forum) that the original plan for the franchise was to make a two-part slasher and then work with a different story every year. But after Halloween III, America was knee deep in the 80’s and only wanted slasher franchises, so we never got to see the anthology strategy play out. Anyway, here’s my suggested viewing order:

Halloween III (standalone)

Halloween I, Halloween II, Halloween IV, Halloween V, Halloween VI (aka Halloween Paul Rudd). This will get you through the entire cult plot.

Halloween 2018. Tying a through-line back to the OG films.

Halloween H20 (aka Halloween LL Cool J). A divergent timeline 20 years after the original.

Halloween Resurrection (aka Halloween Busta Rhymes). Totally standalone, but there is a Jamie Lee Curtis intro!

Halloween Rob Zombie and Halloween Rob Zombie II. I think they’re underrated.

Happy Haunting!

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Eva Gardner | All I Ever Wanted to do is Tour

Eva Gardner | All I Ever Wanted to do is Tour

Photo Credit Lynda Buchanan

Interview with Eva Gardner by Jarett Cole of RocknRollParty. Video editing by Jarett and motion graphics by Ida-Eri Gencheva.

Eva Gardner is a self-described over-achiever. For the past 13 years she’s toured the world as Pink’s bass player and has somehow also found the time to work with the likes of Cher and Gwen Stefani among a long and incredibly diverse list of others. Aside from having her own signature Fender P-Bass, Eva has sponsorship deals with a host of top-notch gear companies including Ampeg, Dunlop, and Rotosound. If that weren’t enough she’s a solo artist as well and recently released a new single called Love & Drugs.

I met Eva when we were both in high school in Los Angeles. I went to a school in North Hollywood and she went to the much-cooler LACHSA (LA County High School For The Arts) where she studied music. I always knew Eva as a bass player, knew that her family owned and operated a Hollywood rock ‘n roll landmark and institution called the Cat and Fiddle Pub (that survived on Sunset Blvd. for 30 years and in 2017 moved to a new location on Highland Ave.) and  knew that her dad Kim had played bass in legendary 60s freakbeat band The Creation.

Aside from being friends on social media for years, Eva and I hadn’t had the chance to properly catch up since the high school days until this Zoom interview. With so much to talk about, from pandemic adjustments to her road to success, we couldn’t cover everything, but we got to a lot in this wide-ranging QooA exclusive!

Photo Credit Denise Nicolay

1. PANDEMIC CREATIVITY

Hello! Good to see you!

Good to see you too! It’s been a very long time!

What have you been up to since the quarantine? 

Photo Credit Lynda Buchanan

You’re a painter and a photographer as well?

Yeah. I also started out the pandemic doing a lot of painting. I was supposed to send some stuff over to Hong Kong for a show over there and that halted because of this whole thing. But yeah I was doing a lot of painting for a while. I was kind of like, “Ok maybe in the first part of the day I can just work on all the music stuff and the next part of the day I can just work on the art stuff.” It’s like your brain becomes silly putty and it’s being stretched in all these directions. I also have a habit of reading like seven books at a time (laughs). My new thing is, “Ok just read one book.” I just finished Tim Ferriss’ book the Four Hour Work Week and he suggests reading one book like his, an information book where you’re taking in stuff, and one book of fiction – just something you can get lost in for an hour that you read before bed. So that’s my new approach as of this week and so far it’s going pretty good.

Could you actually finish seven books at a time? Or you’d finish them but not know what happened in any of them?

Exactly. I would read them and be like, “Cool! I finished that book!” but then I wouldn’t have absorbed it very much because my attention was jumping so much. I’m trying to be more focused and intentional with things that I do – with my output and my input. When I had nothing to do and no gigs I was like,  “Well fuck I have to do everything! I gotta be so productive and of course I’m doing stuff! I have so much time to do everything!” I got really over-zealous. 

3. EVA’S MORNING ROUTINE 

What do you do to stay centered in all of this?

Of course you’ve also been working on some solo music – would you care to talk about Love & Drugs?

When I stepped the whole recording thing into a higher gear that’s one of the songs that I decided to do! I recorded everything on my own and after lots of studying and trial and error and making all these other songs I was like, “Cool this works, this doesn’t work, maybe I’ll try this,” and Love and Drugs was my guinea pig song. Basically it was just like saying OK I’m just going to do this on my own because you can do it on your own now. I had originally programmed the drums but I was talking to my friend Mark Schulman that I play in the Pink band with – we also play in the Cher band together – and he’s got a studio with drums setup so he just recorded drums out at his place and with the magic of technology we have a song! And I did a video on top of it!

Photo Credit Denise Nicolay

I saw the video! I saw the restaurant in the video!

Yes! I was very limited on locations and it was all social-distanced. Originally I was going to just do a video by myself on my Iphone, but I was talking to a friend of mine and she was down for the cause to help me out. We did what we could with what we had and it was a lot of fun to get back to collaborating with people. It was really nice.

It looks like you’ve been fairly busy doing virtual things

Yeah, I’m just staying engaged and doing some Master classes and some teaching.

Your degree is in Enthnomusicology?

That’s right.

What exactly is Ethnomusicology?

It’s a cross between musicology and anthropology. It basically examines music and how it relates to culture and how it influences and is influenced by culture. It’s basically a non-Western perspective. What I was doing in high school was more of a conservatorial, Western-style approach to music traditions and Ethnomusicology examined everything else – from Eskimo singing to Mongolian throat singing to Balinese Gamelan, and just really examined how all these different cultures relate to music. It was so eye-opening and just really broadened my world.

How’s that served you as a professional musician?

3. PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

Photo Credit Denise Nicolay

I was actually getting tour offers while I was in college and for some reason I felt like I just I wanted to finish school. I knew I needed to finish, I knew I needed to incubate just a little bit longer, and I’m glad I did. I’m glad I have a degree in a useless subject. (laughs)

I don’t know how useless it is if you’re playing music all around the world. It probably makes a fair amount of sense

Yeah but I’ve never had to show my degree, so…

How did your first major offers come about?

There was a show that was on called Rockstar INXS and they were looking for a new singer for INXS. It was one of those shows back in 2005. So I auditioned to be in the house band and I got a few call backs but in the end I didn’t end up getting the gig.

4. THE BIG BREAK

Photo Credit Denise Nicolay

5. FULL CIRCLE MOMENT

Do you have a most moving experience playing giant shows

What band did your Dad play in at the Isle Of Wight?

You know I’m not really sure that he even did the Isle of Wight But I’m thinking that he would have been there because all of his friends were there. Maybe the promoter told me because our UK promoter remembers my dad. He remembers the band, they worked together. So being around that energy – especially with people who knew him and used to see his bands just made it even more special.

I also Met Paul McCartney at that show too because we were opening up for Paul McCartney that night.

Kim Gardner playing a ‘62 Fiesta Red Precision bass, playing live with the Creation in 1967

Photo Credit Lynda Buchanan

6. MEETING PAUL MCCARTNEY

That’s incredible. Of course I know your dad was in The Creation – did he play on Making Time?

Yeah I think that was him. There were a couple of incarnations of the Creation. The earlier stuff wasn’t him – it wasn’t Painter Man, he wasn’t on that – but when dad was tracking down his royalties many years ago the guys basically said, “You know we don’t remember who played on what because it was so long ago,” so they just split all the royalties up between all of them – So I don’t know exactly what he played on but I think he was on Making Time.

That song was everywhere. Was your dad super psyched about it?

Oh when Rushmore came out. When was that? The 90’s?”

7. TEENAGE RE-CREATION

How did you start playing with Tim Burgess? Do you still play with him at all?

Tim lives in London now but he used to come into the Cat and Fiddle all the time. He was a massive Creation fan so he used to come and hang out with my pop. When Tim decided to do his solo thing, because he normally was in the Charlatans (UK), he was living in L.A and asked if I wanted to be his bass player and go on tour with him in the UK and play some shows opening for The Rolling Stones.

8. ALL I EVER WANTED TO DO IS TOUR

Do you have more solo stuff on the horizon?

Yeah, I have lots of songs. I decided to do a single so I could just focus on one thing and get that out. Also I feel like that the way people consume music these days too, right? The single’s back, that’s where we’re at! Or EP’s! EP’s are where it’s at too – so I might do an EP next. We’ll see what happens.

9. FUTURE PREDICTION

Did you just take up Tarot cards as well or is that something that you’ve done?

I started studying the Tarot – gosh, it must have been like 2006 now and I had a tarot teacher and I was taking classes and I got super into it. I’ve always loved the Tarot. I’ve always loved getting readings and doing readings.

So what’s future going to bring?

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Old School Wednesday: Beastie Boys – Sabotage

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Old School Wednesday: Jay Z – Dirt of Your Shoulder

Old School Wednesday: Jay Z – Dirt of Your Shoulder

“Said the ladies, they love me, from the bleachers they screamin’
All the ballers is bouncin’, they like the way I be leanin’
All the rappers be hatin’ off the track that I’m makin’
But all the hustlers, they love it, just to see one of us make it
Came from the bottom of the bottom, to the top of the pops
N____, London, Japan and I’m straight off the block
Like a running back, get it? Man, I’m straight off the block
I can run it back, n____, ‘cause I’m straight with the Roc”

Jay-Z at the top of his game. Sometimes you just have to bump some bass and beats, and back in the ’00s Timbaland was unstoppable. 16 years later and this track is still ridiculous. I love watching the video of Jay-Z’s expression the first time Timbaland played him this beat.

(Explicit Version)

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Old School Wednesday: Beastie Boys – Sabotage

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Old School Wednesday: Tony! Toni! Toné! – Feels Good

Old School Wednesday: Tony! Toni! Toné! – Feels Good

“Mocedes the Mellow, quite a nice fellow

Met 3T, hit a rhyme, acapello

They had the rhythm and I had the rhyme

So then a hit of that one more time

It worked out and then they worked it in

Tony! Toni! Toné! has done it again”

Mocedes’ TTT rhyme has been in my head lately. I always just thought of 3T as the group that made some great songs and launched tghe career of Raphael Saadiq, but I didn’t realize that 3T was a family band (2 brothers and a cousin).

James Brown ~ “Funky President” (L)

Another classic Drum break from a 1974 James Brown track.

Lyn Collins ~ “Think (About It)

1972 Classic with Lyn Collins backed by the JBs on a James Brown produced track. The Woo!Yeah! Break is probably most remembered being sampled here.

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Old School Wednesday: Beastie Boys – Sabotage

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Old School Wednesday: Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back to Cali

Old School Wednesday: Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back to Cali

 

“If I got to choose a coast, I got to choose the East

I live out there, so don’t go there

But that don’t mean a _____ can’t rest in the West

See some nice breast in the West

Smoke some nice sess in the West, y’all ______ is a mess

Thinking I’m gon stop, giving L.A props

All I got is beef with those that violate me

I shall annihilate thee”

As a kid from the DMV, this track always resonated with me. I always wanted to take trips to the left coast until as an immature adult, I just decided to move there. Ever since, whenever I’m travelling, I hear “I’m going going, back back, to cali cali…” playing in my head when I am on my way home. Every. Every. Time. Time. 

It’s a shame Notorious B.I.G.’s love letter to the West Coast was released posthumously. Maybe, if it was released before the 1997 Soul Train Awards it might have diffused the East Coast/West Coast feud before he was murdered. There needed to be more tracks with Biggie rapping over West-coast style beats. Actually, there just needed to be more tracks of Biggie rapping. Ugh. What could have been.  

And if ya don’t know, now ya know.” FYI – The Notorious B.I.G. Box Set goes on sale Saturday as part of this month’s RSD release. I will definitely be trying to snag a set for myself!  

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Manda | A Tradition of Fermentation

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Old School Wednesday: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

Old School Wednesday: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years

Rocking my peers and putting suckas in fear

Making the tears rain down like a monsoon

Listen to the bass go boom

Explosion, overpowering

Over the competition, I’m towering

Wrecking shop, when I drop

These lyrics that’ll make you call the cops

Don’t you dare stare, you better move

Don’t ever compare

Me to the rest that’ll all get sliced and diced

Competition’s paying the price

 

I’m gonna knock you out

Mama said knock you out”

Part come back track, part diss track, all fire. I remember thinking how hard “Mama Said Knock You Out” hit when I first heard the opening verse and saw the video on MTV(It was 1990, and streaming websites didn’t exist yet). Even now, there is always someone on the dance floor shadowboxing whenever this track comes on. It’s amazing that LL Cool J was such a prolific rap prodigy that he needed to make a comeback track at the age of 22

Samples:

James Brown ~ “Funky Drummer” (Break is about 5:21 mark of the video).

There’s a couple of great drum breaks used in “Mama Said Knock You Out”, but Clyde Stubblefield’s playing on “Funky Drummer” is the granddaddy of hip hop drum breaks.

Sly and the Family Stone ~ “Trip to Your Heart”

Chicago Gangsters ~ “Gangster Boogie”

Eddie Bo ~ “Hook & Sling”

James Black’s drumming is awesome on this track.

Digital Underground ~ “Humpty Dance” 

I did not know this track was sampled on “Mama Said Knock You Out” until recently.

Big Daddy Kane ~ “Raw” 

LL Cool J ~ “Rock the Bells” 

Divine Sounds ~ “Do or Die Bed Sty” 

Spoonie Gee ~ “Spoonin’ Rap”

Kool Moe Dee ~ “How Ya Like Me Now?” 

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John Carpenter | “Skeleton” and Anthology

At the end of August, just in time for spooky season, legendary composer, writer, director and somewhat newly minted touring musician, John Carpenter released a new single, Skeleton, on Sacred Bones Records. This was Carpenters first new music since returning to the...

Eva Gardner | All I Ever Wanted to do is Tour

Photo Credit Lynda BuchananInterview with Eva Gardner by Jarett Cole of RocknRollParty. Video editing by Jarett and motion graphics by Ida-Eri Gencheva. Eva Gardner is a self-described over-achiever. For the past 13 years she’s toured the world as Pink’s bass player...

Old School Wednesday: Beastie Boys – Sabotage

Beastie Boys ~ “Sabotage” (L)"I can't stand it, I know you planned it I'm-a set it straight, this Watergate But I can't stand rockin' when I'm in this place Because I feel disgrace because you're all in my face But make no mistakes and switch up my channel I'm Buddy...

Shanghai Upcycle Underground

8 looks, 3 local upcycle designers, 1 model, 1 location, 1 goal: to promote the upcycle culture

Womxn In Windows | 2020

In the midst of the LA heatwave, this October the use of public spaces is an ever apreciated part of Cali lockdown. Enculturating yourself this weekend through mid November is  Womxn in Windows presenting its second annual exhibition of video works by womxn filmmakers...

Manda | A Tradition of Fermentation

Get to know the sake distillers who became the authority on Japanese fermented super foods