Ajay Mathur's '3 to 9' Album Is To Bugs Bunny What Listeners Are To Elmer Fudd

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Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Ajay Mathur’s 9 to 3 is a thoroughly enjoyable album.

I like it because this guy is like me, other than making music, he can’t seem to commit to one thing. He’s like a madman in that he’s all over the place.

That’s not to say that this madman is a genius. I don’t think even a genius would take the label, which is a “genius” thing to do.

No, Ajay is genuinely having a hell of a great time making music and boy does he know his music styles!

I’ve had my share of the coffee house music scene which is a culture within itself. It’s kitschy, modest, stripped down; a little Jason Mraz or Trout Fishing In America which is what I compare this too because I think it draws the same crowds, or maybe the more adventurous margarita crowd, if you know what I mean.

The thing about Mathur is that he shows there are no rules. The man throws everything and anything he wants in the mix, kind of like what I do with my laundry. You throw everything in there so there’s a big clothes party, right? We don’t separate things here.

Walking On The Water is a standard title and it’s one of the two opening tracks which balance between country and Americana. His vocals sometimes have that late era Bowie feel to it after about 2:35.

Even though the first two track on this album snap right into the genres they’re performed for, the changes within the songs sometimes feel like he’s forcing two different songs that don’t work together to fit.

But as he said in a interview with MusicPerk:

My song writing process is almost always the same; first the melody. When I get a melody in my head it almost always comes with the theme of the song lyrics, sometimes even with big chunks of the verse and the chorus lyrics. What happens next is that I try not to record, write or save the melody straight away, but let it rest for a couple of days. If the melody sticks in my head for those couple of days, then I know that this could be a song.

And he’s totally right. Those changes begin to sound natural after repeated listens and I know longer know that there was anything off to begin with, and if the interview is steering me in the right direction, then it seems pretty obvious to me he knows he only has to alter the keys one or two notes in either direction to make the songs more interesting.

Ajay then switches to hard rock on Nothing Really Matters with a dexterous guitar solo that were it in a higher octave, it could have been wailing hair metal style.

But then… THEN! This fuck’n guy goes right for loungy with the fourth track, Latin Lovers with maracas, sultry island steel guitar and background singers! You’d think it was a bit of a joke and who knows, maybe it is but there’s no hint of a dull moment.

I LOVE IT!

I just had to take a break at this point, it was just too much for me to handle. And I STILL HAVE ELEVEN SONGS LEFT!
Ajay Live 1
Check out the track I Mantra where he lays it on really thick with the sitar and tablas. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s got great knowledge about music styles, I’d think he was holding those instruments hostage so that we could like this stuff. That’s the fight I’m having before he starts rapping, yes rapping, and using the work fuck and I’m almost throwing my hands up in the air.

Ajay is a lot like Harold And The Purple Crayon where he can draw himself out of any ordeal, you can’t corner this guy at all. In case you didn’t click the link I suggested for this comparison, he’s like Bugs Bunny and I’m Elmer Fudd.

To put things in perspective, Ajay was born in India and spent a lot of time in the music scene there. No doubt with more than just native local influences, there’s Western stuff here too or if you prefer a shorter route, to his East.

He really lets the sitar style guitar playing stand out in the fifth track Oh Angel, which changes the direction of the album once again and the arrangements are spot on.

This makes a difference to me because as a “ethnic” guy, I understand the importance of owning a culture and being able to display profoundly. That’s when I really started to pay attention. I’d put him in league with Freddy Fender or any other of Tex-Mex legends around here.

Again, there’s nothing confining Ajay to a specific form. He even goes as far as to use a chorus of children singing in the background and if he feels it, loops them saying S.O.S while voices speak and mumble on a nearby radio.

If I had a car and a set of balls, I’d blast the road rock’n View From The Top like something out of From Dusk Till Dawn, or plan a complicated heist to the R&B styles of Tell Me Why.

That’s only covering the first half of this album. The rest of it has even more of a story to tell because you’re still up for some serious surprises, like for all you Beatles fanatics out there, he taps into that too. Love Madness is Americana cool with a good case of the blues. The lyrics are pretty straightforward where at the most, the analogous references are broad and whimsical.

Ajay_Portrait

I find his work refreshing with its going back to basics and challenging the way he makes me all weird with where he’s going. Totally caught me off guard, bravo Ajay. Well-played sir, well-played.

Keep on this guy and don’t let him out of your sites by checking out his:

Facebook,

BandCamp,

Official Site,

@ActOfChoice,

SoundCloud,

YouTube,

N1M

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Welcome Leonhardt And Kiel Grove To #Dallas Before Tonight's Show With @The_Infamists @Bryanstreettvrn

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ZoeDune: First thing I heard about you was how much of a road warrior you are. I could only imagine where you were at in mindset when you first decided to be one. What was the push? What was the dream?

Chris: You’ve only got one life that you’re certain of, so do what you want with it.

ZoeDune: I agree with that. What’s the background of the name Leonhardt and how does it represent your music?

Chris: Leonhardt is actually an old family name. It’s kind of an ode to my grandparents. I love them and figured I’d keep their name alive a little while longer.

ZoeDune: Is it safe to assume in that case that you’re conjuring up the early days of Americana? Perhaps a lost musical art form?

Chris: Honestly I’m not trying to recreate anything. I just write and play music about my life for the most part. Luckily doing what I do there’s always plenty to write about.

ZoeDune: What kind of progress do you feel you’ve achieved with your releases? I don’t like to call them albums, demos or EPs because of the bandcamp format, but they are records of perhaps phases you were going through since 2011?

Chris: I guess I’ve switched up my guitar playing quite a bit by switching over to open D tuning. I’m sure the stories have changed a bit also.

ZoeDune: Have you played in Dallas before?

Chris: I have but not as leonhardt. My band antique scream has played there a few times but not in a few years. We used to play a place called bar of soap before it shut down. Then a few years back we played Reno’s chop shop, the owner of that place actually pissed in our friends bands Merch box. So, we never bothered to come back to that bar.

ZoeDune: Yeah, Fuck Reno’s. We’ll talk more about that one for the podcast. It’s good to see you keep up with the goings on of the places you travel to! Bar of dopes. Our sound guy was a staple there. You’ll meet him when you get here. Can’t wait Chris! See you soon!

Look guys. Two dudes in one shot! Why not, right? So I followed up with Kiel Grove, who will also be at the show! 

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ZoeDune: First of all, I’ll fess up to my mistake on this soon but I did read you as veal and then veil grove, despite the fact that the name was right in front of me during my recent podcast. I’m fessing up to that right here so we won’t have any trouble.

KielGrove: It’s cool I’ve had my name spelled/ pronounced incorrectly a lot.

ZoeDune: How was your stint at Adairs? An appropriate setting for your show?

KielGrove: Adairs was fun. It got double booked which is always shitty but it was with a dude I played with in Chicago last year so it was cool to see him.

ZoeDune: So you and Chris of Leonhardt; been traveling together for a long time?

KielGrove: no this is mine and chris’ first tour together.

Leonhardt and Kiel Grove

ZoeDune: So you’re kind of that road warrior mentality too or are you more grounded?

KielGrove: grounded? By that do I have another job back in Colorado No. I make my living by playing on the road. I don’t know if it’s a road warrior mentality as much as just having a good work ethic.

ZoeDune: How’s your liver these days?

KielGrove: My livers’ probably pissed, but I’m pretty sure it digs beer too so I don’t feel so bad.

ZoeDune: What get’s you excited right now? What are you stoked about?

KielGrove: I’m excited about seeing my dog soon and stoked on playing a bunch of new towns on this tour.

ZoeDune: What are you doing right now?

KielGrove: Riding in the back of the van heading to the gig in Denton

ZoeDune. Gimmie a Kiel Grove song I need to hear right now, one that you love to deth.

KielGrove: I think theres 4 songs available to hear on my website I love all 4 em. My favorite song I play isn’t recorded yet.

ZoeDune: Can’t wait to see you at the show!

KielGrove: thanks, see you tomorrow! There!

I know what you’re doing. You’re reading this in the car or while your crossing the street, on your way to the show. Stop it! You’re putting lives at risk! 

Make sure you have the soundcloud app on your moe-bile so you can hear my favorite tracks from them on my podcast, and get bandcamp’s app too. It’ll make it easier to download/stream their songs. Also, so you know, The Infamists will be headlining… here’s a video of what you’ll be witnessing: 

Oh yeah. Don’t forget to get them on Bandcamp too!

Corrections or whatever will be made after the gig so, don’t be picky!

Getting Real With Rue Snider

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“Something Snider This Way Comes,” lifted fair and square from Rue’s Facebook Page

 Revealing Yet Elusive

I’m fascinated with Brooklyn cause I’ve never been. Yes, I’m that guy. How long am I gonna tread water before I make the push up North? I know, I’m being impatient. I’ll make it up there one of these days. But let’s get real here.

I haven’t had that many relationships in my life and I’ve failed miserably with the ones I’ve had. Being candid about that shit is a load off but I’m not usually that straightforward about it with people, so regret tends to build up. But I’m also a bit of a dick so I don’t dwell on it.

Some days it weighs heavy and most days it doesn’t. Of course the further I get away from it the lighter the weight becomes with time.

“What the fuck are you talking about,” you ask?

I’m talking about Rue Snider’s super-honest album Alone Again Relax. When I heard this guy would be touring through from Brooklyn, I tuned in and discovered a songwriter who’s not afraid to wallow in the darkness and write about it.

Sure it’s not uncommon for singer/songwriters to go there but this guy is punk, baby! He’s got an edge that puts things in a straightforward and specifically sharp way, that sends the occasional shiver up and down my spine bones.

That’s why there’s a lot of range to uncover on this album that isn’t just rage specific. Anyone who’s had a successful relationship can appreciate the construction of the well-placed hooks and melodies all over this thing. Snider’s film-making chops is also important in having influence with the stories he tells.

While Rue gets ready to travel, I figured this would be a good time to find out what this dude is all about.

The Bottle With Me And Snider Makes Three

 

Zoe Dune: I love whiskey so much that I don’t have a preference. It’s like maple syrup to me, I feel like a fucking bear every time I’m near it, so I can totally relate when you applied “whiskey cry” as a genre or style for your music. Tell me that is or was a scene somewhere?

Rue Snider: Maple syrup, huh? Are you implying you put it on pancakes and toast? I love whiskey too although I try to limit how much of it I consume these days. I’m pretty crazy about Few Rye and Templeton Rye. They’re both out of the Chicago area I think. I drink bourbon most of the time though if I’m drinking whiskey. Usually something cheap but passable. Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, even Evan Williams. Bars in Brooklyn have dozens of whiskeys. Nobody drinks anything clear here. It’s strange.

Whiskey Slur (not whiskey cry) is a term I listed as a genre on our facebook page to be tongue in cheek. I don’t hide the fact that I’m a drinker (it’s all through the tunes) but I take the writing process very seriously and I don’t really produce anything of consequence under the influence. Recreational activities tend to seep in when you’re working on a song though, even if you’re stone cold sober when you create it.

 

As far as I know Whiskey Slur isn’t a scene anywhere. Although when you get a bunch of people from bands in Brooklyn together the spirits tend to flow pretty liberally, so I suppose we could create a sub genre of indie folk or something. I imagine most scenes across the country delve pretty heavily into the brown spirits so that probably would work a lot of places.  I guess we’ll find out on this tour!

 

Zoe DuneI would have gone all the way to whiskey sob, but I stand corrected. Whiskey slur reads better and doesn’t look completely pathetic. I mean, it was the breakfast of champions (H.S. Thompson), and if not completely on the mark, it was at least somewhere in the range of whiskey/bourbon/scotch. Whiskey snobs will correct me for sure!At a certain point in your album, I was kind of like, “Get it together man, she’s gone!” And while it looked weird to my roommate for me to be yelling at a bandcamp page, I do wonder if to get through your breakup, you might have blown off Aunt Jemima for a bottle of rye on your pancakes, during those regret-filled mornings?

 

Rue Snider: Ha! So you at least made it to the chorus of the first track. Yeah, the record has a theme. Here’s the thing Zoe, there wasn’t any regret on my part. I don’t think anyone should ever regret loving someone even though your time together will inevitably come to an end. I mean everything dies. I wrote the record in order to avoid pouring whiskey on my pancakes, to continue with your idea.

 

I didn’t start writing songs because I had “something to say.” I started writing songs to save myself, you know? After a while you get better at it and you learn the craft of songwriting. Now I can write songs about whatever. In fact the last two Januarys I participated in a song writing challenge with some other people where we wrote a song a day for 31 days based on a daily word that was picked randomly. You come up with some interesting stuff in those situations. This album that we’re touring now though, Alone Again Relax, is very much about self preservation.

 

There are other songs, lots and lots of other songs. I’m touring with another guy names James Margolis. He does the heavy lifting when it comes to the guitar playing. We have around 50 originals of mine that we’ll do over the course of this tour. There was another record written that we started to work on that got shelved for Alone Again Relax. I just couldn’t go on and I didn’t want to wake up every morning and get fucked up and hate myself and be sad. So I wrote a bunch of songs about this one girl and it was a way to get over it. Sometimes yoga doesn’t work. The whiskey wasn’t broken, but every morning I woke up to a new day alone. So I wrote about that shit. Interestingly, some people really connect with the tunes because they’re so personal and specific. I’m glad.

 

Zoe DuneI never took the long-term deterioration of bitterness seriously until recently. I think it’s true you have to wrestle it somehow and turn it into energy. I can’t imagine with your background in film and now getting into the muck of songwriting, that you could have been under for very long. But you stuck to it on that song writing challenge, which takes a lot of focus. What kind of battles did you have on those days you might not have come through with a song?

 

Rue Snider: I was under for a long time. A LONG time. There’s always a song, even if you’re not the one who writes it. There has to be, or else you get into those marathon Netfkix sessions that go on and on. House of Cards in 4 days. Stuff like that. Also, I ate pizza every day for like four months straight. That was a little crazy.The long term deterioration of bitterness is an interesting topic. I’m not impressed when people get over things quickly, whether it’s a lost love or something else traumatic. I got a text from a woman today who was dumped by a guy a week ago that she was head over heels for. Her text said, “There’s no use crying about the wrong guy when the right one is out there.” She had internalized that shit already. It’s true I suppose, but Jesus Christ, their relationship just ended. I think things have to deteriorate at their own pace or it can weird later.

 

Zoe DuneWell that’s an interesting thing because I’m on this thing these days about forgetting our past. You know, like short term memories. But some things take hold and our crazy brains won’t let those things go. But then again, they begin to mutate into something else and translate differently. For Alone Again Relax, how does that release translate to you now as opposed to when you first put it out? Like you said, you have a colonic unit of songs that aren’t on it so, it’s not like it’s constantly torturing you?

 

Rue Snider: You know at the end of the first Nightmare on Elm Street when Nancy realizes that all she has to do is stop being afraid of Freddy and he won’t have power over her anymore? It’s kinda like that. But then in the next scene Johnny Depp’s convertible turns into Freddy sorta and they all drive off into, I don’t know what. and then her mom gets sucked into that tiny window in the front door. never understood that last scene.

 

We made the record really quickly because I was afraid I would start to edit the songs if I had too much time to live with them. Most of them were recorded within a day or two of being written. The way I approach songwriting means I kind of preserve the past. But that doesn’t mean holding onto things too tightly. It comes back to the art as survival idea. I make stuff to survive and part of that is letting go and moving on.

 

I’m surprised to hear a writer say she’s interested in forgetting the past, since writing captures it. Even if you’re telling someone else’s story or just making things up. There’s still a piece of time that gets saved in whatever you’re doing. Right?

 

ZoeDuneWell, it’s more like that we can’t help but forget the past. Saying that, it’s weird because I can almost say that I can remember everything up to three years and then everything is slim pickins, you know? But the writing process, whether it’s music or words; the most you can hope for is to just be engaged with what you’re doing and then move on when you’re done.But to come back and revisit that is usually someone else’s job I’m sure. There have been moments when I’ve looked back at some things and be like, “was I even present for that at all?” But yes, I’m pretty manic about documenting everything I can but also try to put it together in some cohesive and somewhat accessible form. It looks like you might have made a similar move with the help of Robin Irene Moss and E.W. Harris, and the Brooklyn singer songwriter scene for it to all make sense?
Rue Snider: EW Harris is a NYC musician who also engineers and produces records. He is in a band called The Sky Captains of Industry. I wish the entire world knew their music. It’s awesome. So so awesome. He has a solo record too and is making another one. Everybody should look him up. He and I are going on tour in December with another Brooklyn songwriter, Don Paris Schlotman, through the south east for 3 weeks. We’re calling ourselves Brooklyn Drinkers Union. It’s kind of a songwriters in the round deal. Should be fun.
Robin Irene Moss toured as a member of No Strand for a year and contributed a lot of really valuable ideas to the music. She was a big part of Alone Again Relax. She’s focusing on her solo stuff right now. The new material with the band is moving in a decidedly more rock direction and she’s very planted in the folk world.

 

Brooklyn has a very supportive songwriter scene. It’s refreshing. The quality is very high and that pushes you to always be on your toes and never settle. I could do an entire interview and just talk about the amazing musicians I know in New York who inspire me. It’s great to have really talented friends. I mean even the people in New York whose music I don’t like at all are still really fucking good. It’s a positive place to call home.

 

ZoeDuneOh yeah, I’ve listened to some of their stuff. To get to that level of quality song writing, takes patience, meaning to not rush the ideas and take time to flesh them out. You’ve mentioned before how Harris was able to help build one of your tracks, adding things to it. Now, I’ve often wondered what it takes to be a good producer and I can only imagine they would have to be free to contribute as well as take away or at the very least, understand where things should be going. You know, getting your hands dirty. And with open mics, you usually come across the same people. Parts of Dallas and many other cities have that Brooklyn melting pot thing that I like. I’ve never been up there, but look forward to hitting up some of those open mics myself. Is everyone always held together pretty well on the road? Have you toured down South before?

Rue Snider: That’s a lot of questions. Okay, a producer has to contribute or else they’re just an engineer. EW Harris has a style and that’s why you hire him. It’s your record at the end of the day and you have to make the final decisions. But using a producer and tying their hands doesn’t make any sense to me.

 

There are a lot of people in New York City but as you pare things down and get involved in different activities the City gets smaller very quickly. It’s not that I saw the exact same people at every open mic all the time when I was doing that. You just kind of attach to certain groups and end up going to the same places. There’s a songwriter collective called BigCIty Folk run by a guy named Niall Connolly. You should check him out too. Everyone in No Strand and everyone who has played with us pretty much came out of that sort of umbrella. It’s good to have a community. Niall has worked very hard for years to really make something of BigCity Folk. I’m grateful for that. I kinda just plugged int to what was already happening.

 

Being on the road is really fun, but the most we’ve done at one time is 10 days. This tour is 5 weeks. I expect there will be new challenges. But this is what we want to do and you take the difficult stuff to have the satisfaction of playing for people every night. Or at least playing. At our level sometimes people don’t show up. I want to spend most of next year on the road really laying some solid groundwork and getting in front of lots of people. The internet is great for people having access to your music, but they’ve gotta know about it in the first place. And I don’t think anything replaces the excitement and energy of a live show. To answer your question though, no, everyone does not always hold it together on the road. But for the most part it’s cool.

 

This is our first time down south. We’ve toured a lot between Washington DC and Burlington, VT. We’re trying to expand our circle. After this tour I have a week off then go out for 3 weeks with Brooklyn Drinkers Union hitting a lot of the same towns in December. I don’t think we’re going to make it to Texas unfortunately. I’m excited to hit new places for the first time and then come through again really soon. Hopefully I can build some relationships that way.

 

ZoeDuneSince we are coming to the end of 2014, what does 2015 hold of Rue Snider?

 

Rue Snider: We’re working on a winter tour to Germany, then a trip to Austin for SXSW, then a big summer tour, a new record that’s about halfway done, more singles, a HUGE video that we shot for this song “Heaven,” and lots more songs. But mostly just meeting people and making music with my friends.

 

ZoeDuneWell that is damn swell Rue. Lots of luck with the tour, we’re definitely super stoked to hear that Brooklyn sound. Might even introduce you to a little Texas whiskey while you’re here! Oh hell, let’s do it!

 

Rue Snider: Thanks Zoe. See you in a few weeks!

– Rue Snider will be Live@BryanStreetTavern on Oct. 31st.

Source: 

Anderl, Timothy. “GHETTOBLASTER.” Ghettoblaster Magazine. GhettoBlaster Magazine, 3 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2014. <http://ghettoblastermagazine.com/2014/from-the-horses-mouth-rue-snider-rue-snider-and-no-strand-on-alone-again-relax/&gt;.

http://schlotman.com/

http://ruesongs.bandcamp.com/album/alone-again-relax

https://www.facebook.com/musicbyrue

My Playlist, SON!

Okay. It’s been some time since I posted anything about my playlist. Time for me to get back to that though and for good reason. I’ve been listening to the shit out of this stuff that I haven’t listened to much of anything else.

So that covers most of September. Following that and knowing that I have to move on, here are more sounds I discovered only recently that you should get into too.

Monica Heldal (Norway)

I just found out about this through the interzone and very glad I did. Powerful stuff, man.

Alabama Shakes(Athens, AL)


Just the other night, the local PBS affiliate KERA re-aired a broadcast of Austin City Limits that featured all of the country greats, including Jeff Bridges doing the Crazy Heart song that helped make the movie a hit. The first group to go up included Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughn and the Alabama Shakes, who played the fuck out of the set!

I’d never seen Bonnie Raitt on the slide guitar before and honestly, it was pretty damn sexy. Don’t judge me! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to diversify my tastes. But before this, I had never heard of the Alabama Shakes before. And no, I still haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook yet either. They were featured on the Twelve Years A Slave soundtrack but, I tuned the music out for some reason. I know, I suck. But it’s never too late to get into good shit man. Take your pick of all the tracks available there and stream em before you buy them so you can hear for yourself. Even if it was a blind purchase, you’re good.