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TONITE: The Importance Of Being Johnny Marr

October 22nd, 2018

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally published in issue 95 of MAGNET MAGAZINE in 2013 upon the release of Johnny Marr’s first proper solo album, 2013’s The Messenger. Marr followed it up with Playland in 2014 and Call The Comet, released back in June. We are re-posting this story in advance of Marr’s performance tonight at the TLA.

mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR MAGNET MAGAZINE Being Johnny Marr is nice work if you can get it. Lots of travel, flexible hours, money for nothing, chicks for free. Most days you walk between the raindrops. You are rakishly handsome, impossibly talented, effortlessly cool and beloved by all. Born in Manchester and raised in public housing, you meet your soulmate when you were 14, you quit school when you were 15, and at the ripe old age of 18 you start a band that NME readers will, 20 years hence, declare the most important band of the last 50 years, edging out the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Small wonder everyone wants you to join their band in the studio or onstage for a song or a tour, or even an album or two: the Talking Heads, the Pretenders, Modest Mouse, R.E.M., Beck, Oasis, Bryan Ferry, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Black Grape, Jane Birkin, Happy Mondays, The The, Chic, Dinosaur Jr, Pearl Jam, Crowded House, Tom Jones and, last but not least, the guy who started Joy Division. You almost never say no, because you are not just a legend, you are also a nice guy.

Here you are, a year shy of 50. You still have the soulmate, two grown children, your looks and all your hair, plus a line of Fender Jaguars named after you, along with a numbered limited edition of Johnny Marr Ray-Ban Signet sunglasses with light blue-tinted lenses and gunmetal frame. And, best of all, 25 years after walking away from your own band, you are finally going solo. “The ideas became stronger to me and the well filled up—that’s the right time to do it,” Marr says when asked what took so long. “It was pretty much all there before I started to work with it.” The album is called The Messenger and it is easily your best work since the Smiths, some of it is clearly as good as the Smiths and some of it, arguably, is better than the Smiths.

Ah yes, the Smiths. Before we go any further, let’s just get this out of the way: The Smiths will not be reuniting. Not now, not ever. Not that I didn’t try to make it happen, but the sad reality is when the queen is dead, she stays dead. A full Beatles reunion is more likely. Or, to quote Morrissey’s publicist, “The Smiths are never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to reunite—ever.” And if the more determined among you can parse that quote for a glimmer of hope that there’s still an outside chance of a reunion, please note that there’s eight “ever”s in that statement, meaning eight eternities in a row that will have to run their course before a Smiths reunion comes to pass. Given that the median age of the members of the Smiths is 50, and the life expectancy for British males is currently 78.2 years, it doesn’t look good.
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BEING THERE: Big Thief @ First Unitarian

October 21st, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

When I was three years old, I tripped on the wooden floorboards of my family’s small home in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, my head landed on a nail that gashed my left eyebrow open. Far-removed from any town or decent phone service, my panicked parents rushed me to the closest hospital they could think of, praying their first-born daughter wouldn’t lose her eyesight from the accident. Nearly twenty years later, driving with my mother to that same house in the mountains, I heard Adrianne Lenker’s screaming voice in “Mythological Beauty” detail her own experience of toddler-age blood-gushing head trauma, and have since felt a deep-rooted connection to every note of her music in a way that only the most honest folk music can inspire.

Lenker’s most recent work is her solo album abysskiss, but last night she made a stop in Philly with her band Big Thief, who took the stage at First Unitarian after a couple of fantastic opening sets from .michael. and The Range of Light Wilderness. After a polite hello to the crowd, Lenker looked around at her bandmates before plunging into “Real Love,” a song that undulates from gently quaking vocals to heavy power chords behind the more violent poetry. The tension Lenker sings of in the contradictions between her expectations and reality of real love culminate in a churning solo of guitar distortion that borders on noise rock. And as the crowd writhed along with her, she pulled the abstract notes into the intro of fan-favorite “Shark Smile,” a song that culminates with the plea “Take me, too,” when the singer’s lover dies in a violent car crash.

Despite the rolling drums and curling comfort of Lenker’s high voice, Big Thief’s music is not for the light-hearted. The vulnerable grief on songs like “Paul” or “Masterpiece” from the band’s debut album only darkened in their 2017 release Capacity. Living up to the name, Lenker’s lyrics demonstrate a capacity for the human emotions we are most afraid to express – those that come from the stirring intersections of pleasure and pain, sorrow and happiness. As she sang “Pretty Things” and “Capacity,” with what looked like anguished effort, her bandmate Buck Meek watched with noticeable empathy that reminded the audience of the serious and often-ugly truths behind the heart-centering rhythms of the band.

Apart from a few thank yous, Big Thief kept quiet for the first half of the show, Lenker adjusting her capo and sipping from a blue and white ceramic mug between songs. But after a ferocious guitar solo on “Masterpiece” from Meek – who should be complimented for his fashionable tiller hat – Lenker began a meandering monologue on how her energy level has been flattened lately. As she overflowed with stream-of-consciousness ideas, she landed on the feeling that despite the “maze of constructs” she finds herself running into every day, “I’ll be feeling bad, but then we’ll play a show where people are gathering in a space, peacefully, and opening their hearts to each other. It’s pretty beautiful and I feel really lucky to be part of it.”

The live performance of Big Thief’s most cutting songs gives the music a new dimension. The person behind the pain becomes tangible, and the band twists around in motion with their immersive rhythms. Drawing inspiration last night from being in a place of worship where “energy is concentrated,” Lenker acted as guide for the band through the softest isolated vocals to startlingly quick kicks at the drum in songs like “Mythological Beauty” that made the entire room jump. But this is exactly what makes Big Thief so unique: Lenker’s intricate writing infused with a rhythmic harshness that is uncommon to most folk music.

Ending with an as-yet-unreleased song called “The Toy,” Lenker spoke to the crowd briefly about its references to gun violence, but how the words could really be applied to any similar issue or feeling of hopelessness. “This song is about asserting the power and the privilege and the responsibility we have,” she told the audience. As the 27-year-old crooned this final song, the room became acutely aware of the immense courage it takes to open oneself so fully to the world and then to demand others to do the same. This selfless persistence in empathy and emotional grit is what continues to sell out Big Thief shows, and inspires fans to seek out expression as honest as Lenker’s in every domain of their lives. – SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

 

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BEING THERE: Mitski @ Union Transfer

October 20th, 2018

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Photo by JOHN VETTESE

Typically I make a point to miss the opener at shows, but I would’ve been sorry to miss Overcoats. The New York-based duo, Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, emerged straight from the 70’s in flowy white blouses and corduroy blazers, their aesthetic reminiscent of Heart’s Anne and Nancy Wilson. Their music runs in the vein of indie electro pop, full of pulsing digital beats and synchronized harmonies. The set was composed of songs from their debut album Young, a work that may not be the most musically complex but is driven instead by an overarching sense of honesty.

After paying way too much for an IPA poured by a bartender wearing the same tortoiseshell glasses as me and listening to a girl defensively rave about the Black Keys for about twenty minutes, I was relieved when the lights finally went dark, the air growing still. Mitski was a dark apparition, taking her place to the soundtrack of a 1930’s Italian ballad. The next hour was like stepping inside an avant-garde music video. Mitski is performance art. The way she moved and danced throughout the set ranged from robotic puppetry to ballet pointe work, to pacing and punching the air in chaotic tantrum. During “Two Slow Dancers” she made a noose of her mic, wrapping the cord around her neck and pulling it taut. Behind her, screens depicted morphing video imagery: television static, rose petals, a starry galaxy, a curving stretch of highway out of Twin Peaks.

Perhaps owing to her background in the DIY scene, Mitski had a way of making a sold out show feel as intimate as a cramped South Philly basement. My face crumpled when she said in a small voice, “Thank you. It feels cozy here with y’all.” It’s hard not to feel overcome by the emotion in Mitski’s quavering soprano, moved to weepy sentiment you didn’t realize was buried inside of your chest. “First Love / Late Spring” will always be one of those songs for me, widening a cavern I try to keep sealed. While Be The Cowboy is undoubtedly her strongest work yet, those early songs maintain a kind of magic.

When the first notes of “Nobody” rung out, the audience erupted into frenzy, washed with the breath of catharsis. The encore was a song called “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” unearthed from the obscurity of Mitski’s Bandcamp. It felt exactly like a goodbye, like the push you need to let someone go. – MARIAH HALL

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CINEMA: Laurie Strode Will Have Her Revenge

October 18th, 2018

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HALLOWEEN (Directed by David Gordon Green, 105 minutes, USA, 2018)

Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC It’s been nine long years since the last Halloween film, Rob Zombie’s 2009 franchise-killing sequel to his ill-fated 2007 re-boot of the series. The latest chapter in the Michael Myers’ slasher saga — simply called Halloween — dumps six sequels worth of convoluted plot, mythology and character development to position itself as a direct sequel to the original 1978 film. David Gordon Green (Eastbound & Down) is directing this entry with a script co-written with Jeff Fradley and Danny McBride that picks up 40 years after the Haddonfield Murders with Michael Myers safely tucked away in the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.

It’s the day before Halloween when we catch up with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), now a grandmother whose home is less a house than a locked-and-loaded survivalist compound. You see, for the last 40 years she’s been obsessively prepping for Michael’s eventual return, stockpiling weapons and training herself and her family in various forms of hand-to-knife combat. We soon learn that over the years this obsession with Myers has cost her the custody of her daughter and alienated most of those around her, with the exception of her plucky granddaughter Allyson played by Andi Matichak. Meanwhile, Michael Myers is about to be transported to a maximum-security prison to live out his remaining life in solitary confinement.

Myers escapes as you would expect, leaving behind a blood-soaked trail across Haddonfield on his way to finish what he started that Halloween night. But this time Laurie is battle-ready. While ostensibly a horror film, Halloween paints a heartbreaking story of Laurie as a survivor who has sacrificed everything to ensure that her and her family will never again be victims. In the Kavanaugh era, it’s satisfying to watch a world who refused to believe a woman learning the hard way she was all too right all along. As per usual, with no handsome hero on the horizon to rescue her, Laurie is forced to take matters into her own hands and what we get is a very satisfying face-off between these two horror icons that feels very definitive.

Halloween is a feminist slasher flick for a new generation. As the men bumble their way through the narrative, each easily dispatched by Myers, it’s three generations of Strode women who are tasked with taking out the Boogeyman. Thankfully, Halloween is also funny. But given the pedigree of the writers and director it should go without saying that the humor has an edge as sharp as the long blade of Myer’s omnipresent knife. While not completely meta in its laughs like a Scream, the film does play homage to its cannon and is littered with Easter eggs and call backs. Jamie Lee Curtis turns in a complex and vulnerable performance giving us a very realistic take on just what happened to the last girl alive in the first Halloween in the intervening 40 years since the credits rolled. The new Halloween is a much-needed update to the slasher template that genuinely has something important to say while also delivering the gory body count fans expect. This fall feels very much like the gore-drenched horror renaissance the long-suffering fans of these films so desperately deserved. Let the buyer beware.

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Washington Post Taps Phawker Alumnus Alex Fine To Illustrate Jamal Khashoggi’s Final Column

October 18th, 2018

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WASHINGTON POST: The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries. They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information. These expectations were quickly shattered; these societies either fell back to the old status quo or faced even harsher conditions than before.

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment. The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications. MORE

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THE VAGINA DIALOGUE: Q&A W/ Nikki Glaser

October 18th, 2018

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keely_bylinerBY KEELEY MCAVENEY Stand up comedian, podcast host and Dancing With The Stars contestant, Nikki Glaser is known and loved for her lack of a filter. Her honesty isn’t for the mere sake of shock value. It’s thoughtful. It’s real. And for many, it’s a relief, an encouragement, to hear someone speak so honestly about all the once deemed shameful shit that comprises womanhood. From what it’s like being constantly asked about what-it’s-like-being-a-woman-in-comedy to whether or not Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga have banged, she’s got an opinion, and you want to hear it. You can catch her tonight through Saturday at Punch Line Philly.

DISCUSSED: #MeToo, Kavanaugh, vaginas, are women funny, all moms watch Dancing With The Stars, Sarah Silverman, funny woman quotas, TMI, Mackenzie Ziegler, the Sia girl, the Bechdel test, A Star Is Born, unacknowledged penises.

PHAWKER: Do you find you get asked in nearly every recent interview about the Me Too movement or Kavanaugh or other things that seem to concern women?GEOTCK

NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I haven’t been asked about Kavanaugh specifically. But, yeah, you get asked as a woman even before the Me Too movement, the common question was what’s it like to be a woman in comedy, questions about being a woman. You know, I’m into being a woman. I like being a woman. I’ll talk about it.

PHAWKER: Via your comedy I feel like I know your vagina more personally than I know my own.

NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I feel like, although, I’m not sure if I’m representing it well anymore because I don’t even wanna look at it because I talk about it so much on stage, so it could’ve changed. I should update those jokes.

PHAWKER: But, back to the movement concerned questions, I just feel as if men aren’t asked about these things. It’s unfair.

NIKKI GLASER: Men aren’t being asked every time. They don’t need to weigh in. That’s so true. Why would we ever expect that from them? They’d hang up on you.

PHAWKER: Yeah, they’d be done. So rather than asking what it’s like to be a female in comedy and focusing on the difficult or negative aspects, what are the advantages that you find to being a female comedian? What can you use to your advantage?

NIKKI GLASER: The advantages are that, you know, unfortunately people think that women aren’t funny, so if you are funny people make a bigger deal out of it because they’re stupid. But other advantages are that there’s a thirst for women to feel represented in an honest way right now, as there always has been. As a mouthpiece, as someone who just doesn’t have a filter, you feel really appreciated. There’s an appreciation that I don’t know if men feel as much from their male fans, just like, ‘I’m so glad to hear someone talk like me and my friends do!’ I don’t know that men hear that a lot, so that feels really good as a female comedian. You meet the coolest women because other cool women do stand up. There’s tons of advantages, and, you know, there’s less of us, so it’s more competitive, but there’s less of us so you stand out more.

PHAWKER: With women in comedy, even though there’s less of them, it doesn’t always feel competitive. I’ve found them often to be more supportive or inclusive as a community.

NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I mean it changes city by city. I’ve been bullied by female comics before, and I know female comedians who have been bullied by other female comics. It can happen, just like it can happen anywhere, but I think that the Me Too movement obviously has brought us all together as one a little bit more, and we realize that we need to lift each other up. Realize that one of our wins means a win for all of us. I think we’re starting to really understand that, but the competitive nature of it is deeply ingrained in us because men make the system. There can only be one woman per show.CSOVGC

PHAWKER: One funny woman.

NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, one funny woman per show, or two maybe if it’s… It’d have to be a different ethnicity woman, which is obviously good. But what I’m saying is there’s these strategic decisions made by men and then they pit us against each other, and we start competing, and we take each other down. The system that they put in place is a self-sustaining system. They don’t even need to run it anymore. I forget who I heard say it for the first time, but I was like ‘Oh, woaaaaah.’ It opened my eyes. So I try to combat that feeling of competition as much as I can, but I’ve had the best support from female comedians, and I, myself, love helping out other female comedians. It feels good, and there’s so many of us now. It’s a good moment for us comedically, I think.

PHAWKER: And most of them have different voices, or more divergent than in the past.

NIKKI GLASER: Everyone can find someone that kind of speaks to them because there’s enough of us now. I don’t know. The way I felt when I discovered Sarah Silverman, I wished more women spoke that way because I felt understood, and I felt like she was someone who was flawed and cool at the same time. It was okay to be quirky and dark. Women need more examples of women that celebrate their flaws or what they think are flaws. And then you go, ‘Oh, it’s not so bad. That person, who I think has it all together, thinks these things, oh good.’ I think that’s the goal. I don’t know how I got there, but here we are.
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BEING THERE: Public Image Ltd. @ Union Transfer

October 17th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

“Welcome to our 40th!” bellowed PiL frontman John Lydon (a.k.a. former Sex Pistol, Johnny Rotten) by way of a greeting to last night’s crowd at Union Transfer with his trademark sardonic smirk, that look of devilish joy he’s proudly worn throughout the span of his musical life. Currently on the North American leg of their The Public Image Is Rotten tour, and with a documentary of the same name to promote, Public Image Ltd. (Lydon, and current drummer Bruce Smith, guitarist Lu Edmonds, and bassist Scott Firth) is celebrating 40 years of Lydon’s post-Sex Pistols amalgam of mutating, dub-centric rhythm and rock-n-rewrite. Snug as a bug in his buttoned up gray trench coat, with a pair of reading glasses perched toward the edge of his nose and a music stand placed before him, the 62-year old Lydon belted out song after song, his throaty whine and sandpaper growl still intact as the trio behind him ably rode and intensified every groove, keeping us all dancing to a deep pulse of low end wobble and icy six-string melody.

“I’m your friend,” Lydon informed the crowd up one point. “The Naughty Uncle one! Can I play with your willie-wankie-wooze?” Occasionally swirling a mouthful of whisky from cheek-to-cheek before spitting it onto the stage and nipping at a bottle of Pedialyte for hydration, Lydon’s interactions with the crowd served to gauge our attention/enthusiasm level. Throughout the night he would suddenly raise his hands to his ears midway through a song, taking every break from the mic as an opportunity to trigger a reaction. “Lighten up! It’s a party!” he concluded sensing that he’d maybe offended one or two of us in the crowd.

While the tour and documentary both function as tributes to PiL’s legacy, songs from the band’s most recent releases — 2012’s This Is PiL and 2015’s What The World Needs Now… — kept the evening’s set list from devolving into a compendium of the obvious larded with hits meant to appease nostalgists. Welcome inclusions like “Memories” (from 1979’s Metal Box), “Death Disco” (a.k.a. “Black Swan”), and “This Is Not A Love Song” (from 1984’s This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get) received an exuberant response from the audience, but newer songs like “Deeper Water” and “I’m Not Satisfied” garnered no less enthusiasm. Firth’s bass work and Smith’s disco breaks offered an even platform to each song, at points carrying them out longer than their actual runtime. Edmonds, a strewn nest of a beard forming a veritable bib beneath his chin, provided texture, often generating keyboard-similar tones while hunched over his electric saz.

Following a solid performance of “This Is Not A Love Song,” PiL launched into an excellent rendition of “Rise” from their 1986 release, Album. “ANGER IS AN ENERGY!” Lydon repeated, scraping the base of his throat as he finished out the set. As expectations for an encore hung in the air, it wasn’t long before the band stepped back onto the stage.

“If you came to stare, that’s alright,” Lydon said. “I came to stare right back at ya!” With a quick lift of his eyebrows he’d begun exclaiming “Hello!” again and again just before PiL kicked into “Public Image.” It was the last immediate rush of gratification for the audience before the band launched into an extended cover of the Leftfield track, “Open Up.” Turning the song into a call-and-response with the audience, Lydon encouraged us to shout “Fuck off!,” holding the mic stand above us as the words were yelled back. As the music continued, Lydon introduced his bandmates, completing the song with an offer of thanks to the audience. Once the music had ended, Lydon collected his lyrics from the music stand and gave a thumbs up before exiting the stage one last time. – SEAN CALDWELL

 

    SETLIST
  • Deeper Water — from 2012’s This is PiL
  • Memories — from 1979’s Metal Box
  • The Body — from 1987’s Happy?
  • Disappointed
  • Warrior — from 1989’s 9
  • The One — from 2015’s What The World Needs Now…
  • Corporate — from 2015’s What The World Needs Now…
  • Death Disco — “Black Swan” from 1979’s Metal Box
  • Cruel — from 1992’s That What Is Not
  • I’m Not Satisfied — from 2015’s What The World Needs Now…
  • Flowers of Romance — from 1981’s Flowers of Romance
  • This Is Not A Love Song — from 1984’s This Is What You Want… This Is What You Get
  • Rise — from 1986’s Album
  • Encore:

    • Public Image — from 1978’s Public Image: First Issue
    • Open Up (Leftfield cover)
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    AN AUTEUR IS BORN: Q&A W/ Bradley Cooper

    October 17th, 2018

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    Dan Tabor_byline_avatarBY DAN TABOR FILM CRITIC A few weeks ago Bradley Cooper kept up his tradition of hosting a Philly “friends and family” screening of his latest film, this time with his directorial debut A Star is Born. Cooper who got his start playing the “pretty boy” on Alias, proved he could also be the “funny guy” in The Hangover but with A Star Is Born he’s effortlessly transitioned into the role of auteur. His highly-acclaimed re-imagining of Star, with songs furnished by Cooper and co-star Lady Gaga, is the tour de force unveiling of Cooper’s emergent triple threat: director, screenwriter and star. It was a much more subdued than usual Cooper who took the stage at the Prince Theater on September 12th after the screening of A Star Is Born to take audience questions. Maybe because it was a hometown crowd, Cooper was surprisingly forthright, candid and humble about where this film came from and how he crafted and starred in one of the most acclaimed films of the year. The following is a transcript of that Q&A.

    Q: So what made you want to step behind the camera with this film in particular?star_is_born_xlg2

    BRADLEY COOPER: As you get older, time is the biggest currency. I was 39 and had all of these ideas running around my head. I always wanted to be a director and I think I was just scared to do it, to actually put myself out there because it is a vulnerable thing. Because if I tell a story it better be truthful. There’s no reason to direct something, unless you have something to say; which is oddly what Jackson says.

    I never saw this story as having anything to do with the ones that preceded it, to be honest. What I cared about is what happens when a trauma occurs to you at a young age and you don’t have the tools or the people around you to deal with it and how one survives and endures and that’s Jackson. With this specific character, he happened to bring it into song and he became a musician and he was rewarded for that and he hadn’t cultivated the other parts of his life. That interested me, what happens to a person who doesn’t have the tools to deal with trauma.

    Ally what’s so different about her than all the characters that proceed her in the property is she is not an ingénue, she’s 31 years old. She is someone who has been beaten down by the business, by men telling her she’s not pretty enough to merit the songs she’s writing. Then if you take these two people that haven’t had the help and the tools to progress to become their best selves, they meet each other and fall in love. It’s almost like the end of The Graduate when they’re both sitting in the bus, they made the decision, now what? This is the now what? There is no infidelity in this movie, you never question their love. But even with that bond, that intense energy, it’s still difficult for these two.

    Q: How did Lady Gaga become involved with this project, especially given this is her first leading role in a theatrical film?

    BRADLEY COOPER: You know I got lucky there because we both had something to lose. This was a big swing for both of us. Sometimes in life people say, ”you know what it’s okay”, you know, but this one, if it wasn’t okay, we were going to take a hit. There’s something about being in a foxhole with someone else and not just yourself. It was the first time she did a film, and the first time I had written and directed a star_is_born_xlg2movie, so it was nice to know we had that vulnerability with both of us and we could walk down this path together.

    But I have to say all the actors, too. Dave Chappelle — it took me two years to get him to do this movie. I flew to Ohio twice, and I kept sending him videos of the drummer I wanted him to emulate, that’s why he’s called Noodles; but we cut that part of the movie out. He did all this work on drumming, sorry Dave.

    Q: And Dice Clay he was pretty amazing as well you almost don’t recognize him?

    BRADLEY COOPER: In eighth grade I memorized his whole album. Oh yeah and I love Ford Fairlane and I remember him on the Rodney Dangerfield New Year’s special and my dad watching it. So the fact that he is in the movie is crazy. Absolutely Crazy.

    Q: Did you write the Ally role with Lady Gaga in mind?

    BRADLEY COOPER: No. It was a series of ideas and sounds quite honestly and sort of things I always wanted to tell and the story. By the time I pitched the movie to Warner Brothers, I really just had the first 10 minutes in my head. I was sort of running around the office showing them everything and they said go ahead and go write it. But it wasn’t until I was at this benefit, for this cancer foundation, I started in my father’s name for people who are struggling with stage 4 cancer. Lady Gaga was the final surprise performance and she sang La Vie En Rose, the song in the film and it just decimated the room. It was that moment that I thought that’s it. I didn’t really know what she looked like, at all, but I knew I wanted to meet her and if what I just saw was it and that’s why I wrote that into that scene. So I just made it so I didn’t have to act, because I just recreated the experience, just in a drag bar and with my voice an octave lower.

    Q: Speaking of the voice, where did that come from and how hard was that?

    BRADLEY COOPER: You know it hurt for the first two months, I would do these exercises with Tim Monich who’s a dialog coach who I worked with on American Sniper. I always knew this guy had to be archetypal and idiosyncratic, the musicians that I know who are well known musicians walk into a room and you just know they are a one-off. I knew it had to be someone who is completely different from who I am and I always heard Ally and Jackson when they were speaking in my head, that he would be this sort of bassline note and she would be up staccato moving around him. I always heard it in my head, so it was just getting it here.

    Q: Can you still do the voice?

    BRADLEY COOPER: I don’t think so. He’s still in that garage.

    Q: Why make Jackson a country music singer-songwriter?

    BRADLEY COOPER: I don’t see him as country, I see him more as a hybrid. He takes his hat off when he goes on stage, which I really liked because that hat he wears is sort of to protect himself from the world star_is_born_xlg2in a way. When he takes his hat off, that is when he is himself. It’s why he takes his hat off at the end of the movie in that garage. The whole Sam Elliott of it all started with me trying to find that voice that I could work on. I was listening to a bunch of voices and I thought where’s Sam Elliot from, he from Sacramento, California but his mother was from Texas that’s why he’s got that odd accent. So, I started listening to these interviews with him and I would work on the voice.

    I was reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography where he says he stole his father’s voice, and I use to want to be my father all the time. I had a briefcase when I was in kindergarten and the kids would wanna beat me up and my sister would beat them up, it’s true she had a Phillies cap and all this hair and they thought she was a boy. So that is how that whole relationship with Jackson and his brother was born, I thought it’s his older brother and he wanted to steal the voice of his older brother. I didn’t want to do this father/son thing, I like this idea of the prodigal son and his older brother who never got this chance and this little cherub with this gift who outshines him.

    I asked Sam to come over and I didn’t know what he was going to do, if he was going to be insulted. I told him I wanted to play you something, and it was an interview at the Sundance Film Festival two years ago and I played it and it was me doing him in the interview and I said here’s the idea. I pitched him and the relationship and he luckily said yes. If Sam said ‘no,’ there went that Bob and Jack storyline. He was really vulnerable and that was the hardest thing to do, to show up, because he was peppered throughout the shooting schedule and deliver this deep moving performance.

    Q: Finally, addiction, I know you’ve struggled with that as well, was that important for you to address in the film and how you tackled it?

    BRADLEY COOPER: What I asked everyone to do on this film I asked that of myself. I’ve dealt with issues what Jackson has dealt with. The thing I cared most about was if anyone had anything to do with addiction or knows about addiction, they would watch this movie and say yeah, that’s it. As an actor you always have to draw on your personal experiences. I knew it was going to be difficult. But I have to say it felt so soothing and therapeutic to do it. It really felt like I was using what I went through for art, and putting it out there, giving it to audiences, if I’m lucky it’ll heal in some way.

    BRADLEY COOPER’S “A STAR IS BORN” NOW PLAYING IN AREA THEATERS

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    ANTICHRIST SUPERSTAR: Q&A w/ John Lydon

    October 15th, 2018

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    EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on November 11th 2015.

    BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA Thirty-eight years after the release of Never Mind The Bollocks, the windshield of pop culture is still fogged up with the huffing and puffing of critics of hyperventilating over the game-changing filth and the fury of The Sex Pistols — for which John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, served as acerbic, bug-eyed jester raging against the machinery of a corrupt Establishment and a necrotic music biz with a voice like Godzilla’s death ray — so I will spare you the lecture. Except to say this: in the fullness of time, Public Image LTD, the band he formed from the ashes of the Pistols that went on to make 10 albums over the course of numerous line-ups, stops and starts in the last 37 years, has proven to be way more punk — if that’s even quantifiable, and for the sake of this introduction let’s pretend it is — than the Sex Pistols. Although Bollocks, the Pistols sole album, obviously scared the bejesus out of the powers that be back 1977, today it just sounds like a kick-ass rock n’ roll record full of big buzzsaw guitar riffs and super-catchy middle finger-flipping anthems.

    Meanwhile, the barbed wire art-rawk shatterings of PiL’s back catalog still sounds like a man lighting himself on fire in a tub full of electric eels, an public-image-limited--2015aesthetic borne of necessity given Lydon’s towering limitations as a vocalist and composer. What you are hearing is the sound of Lydon’s voice chafing against the narrow avenue of expression nature afforded him, and we can only wonder what might have been if he had, say, pipes like Elvis, and could strum his own tune like Dylan. Still, he managed to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with 1986’s “Rise,” a big chugging march of sneering angularity that distilled the raison d’ etre of Lydon, the Sex Pistols and punk itself down to this potent mantra: Anger is an energy.

    But by 1992 PiL had run out of anger, not to mention ideas and relevance, and the band went dark for the next 23 years. Fast forward past a couple Pistols reunions, two biographies, numerous aborted TV shows, a lucrative and wildly successful turn as a butter pitchman on British television, a move to Los Angeles, and, eventually, American citizenship. In 2009, Lydon and a re-constituted PiL started performing again, making the rounds of the festival circuit, and two years later went into the studio to record This Is PiL. That album is probably best understood as a portrait of the anti-Christ as a middle-aged man trying to get his sea legs back. The new PiL album, the shockingly vital What The World Needs Now, is probably best understood as a portrait of the anti-Christ as a middle-aged man catching a second wind. It is probably the best album PiL ever made, it is also probably 23 years too late.

    Nevertheless, the show must go on. PiL plays Union Transfer tomorrow night, so I will leave you with two thoughts: First, Heath Ledger’s now-iconic Joker — a social disruptor of apocalyptic proportions — is Johnny Rotten in white face. Some men, as the saying goes, just want to watch the world burn. Lydon gave those men a voice, and, by extension, a face. Second, he’s still a dick — it’s so cute. He’s been at war with the media for going on 40 years, and storming out of interviews on the flimsiest of pretexts in a fit of apoplexy is his trademark move. The video below is a perfect example. I got to witness this firsthand. As you are about to read, he did the phoner equivalent of storming out of an interview, he hung up on me. For committing the journalistic crime of asking him a question about Ginger fucking Baker.  Adorable.

    PHAWKER: Let’s talk about the new record, which is a very vital-sounding and varied record. Some songs sound really snarling and raw and others are measured and artful.

    JOHN LYDON: It’s the full open agenda of being a human being isn’t it? And for me I think it’s possibly the greatest piece of work that I’ve helped contribute to in a long time. It’s an album I’m very very proud of. It’s one not to be ignored. It’s great performing. We perform quite a bunch of these songs live. It’s very exciting.

    PHAWKER: It’s getting a good response from the audience?

    JOHN LYDON: Oh very exceptional responses. Tearing the houses down, really. We love these kind of up-close pil-lp-coverand personal smaller venues. They’re much more intimate. You get a real sense of the reaction that certain songs have because everything is within eyeball contact. It becomes very very warm, and there’s a great deal of variety in a public image audience. It’s always a reward to see so many different variables of the human gender all in one building being friendly with each other.
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    BEING THERE: Little Dragon @ Underground Arts

    October 14th, 2018

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    Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

    Never to be pigeonholed, Swedish genre-benders Little Dragon delivered a face-melting set of dancehall R&B synth-pop disco-tronica at Underground Arts on Friday. You wouldn’t have known it if your cell phone was vibrating that night, not through Frederik Wallin’s pants-rockin’ bass-guitar grooves, anchoring singer Yukimi Nagano’s smoky, sultry vocals. There was no stage-banter to speak of, not much acknowledgement of the proverbial “fourth wall.” Shrouded in mystery — or at least what looked like potentially really warm head-to-toe stage costumes — the singer managed to make sure she reached out to connect in her own way, with just barely enough space around her on the tiny basement club stage to lead the charge to get physical for about two hours, and all amps set to eleven. – JOSH PELTA-HELLER

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    BEING THERE: Gorillaz @ Wells Fargo Center

    October 12th, 2018

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    Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

    There’s a plotline to all the mayhem, if you’re interested, some backstory to the wild exploits of this virtual band, that serves to nominally explain why lovable scamps 2D, Murdoc, Russell and Noodle are always under attack by anachronistic seaplanes, what Noodle’s doing with that machine gun that’s as big as she is and why she’s a cyborg now, and why Bruce Willis is trying to kill them. But at their live shows, somewhere between the mesmerizing blazing lights and colors of Jamie Hewlett’s beautifully animated eye candy, Damon Albarn’s enchanting incantations and all of the talent and star power of the Gorillaz’ juggernaut collective, you realize that none of that cartoonish context really matters all that much.

    Albarn and Hewlett have expanded “concept album” to “concept band,” with a brilliant project that remains in peak creative form two decades and six studio albums later. It’s as if they’ve asked: What if we took “Yellow Submarine,” updated it with state-of-the-art animation, added way more explosions, heavy artillery and high-speed car chases, and then didn’t even break up a year later too? They’ve jockeyed elements of reggae and electronica, fashioned hybrid hit singles with hip hop and brit-pop, and conceived an entire graphic-novel universe scored with a deceptively sophisticated soundtrack that double-deals the blissful and the bleak.

    No fewer than 15 musicians at a time handed down over two hours’ worth of that soundtrack to a warm Wells Fargo Center crowd last night, against frenetic laser lights and synchronized backdrop of Hewlett’s animated films. Albarn was the cool and collected center of the storm, the roguishly handsome frontman looking as good as he ever did at the helm of a Blur show 25 years ago. He seemed self-satisfied looking on, though, as a roster of enlisted talent upstaged him at every turn, from Peven Everett’s very noble Bobby Womack impression on “Stylo” to members of Pharcyde and De La Soul on “ Feel Good Inc.,” “Superfast Jellyfish,” and “Dirty Harry.” And yes of course they played “Clint Eastwood,” with Del Tha Ghost Rapper ghost-rapping his studio vocals and it was like sunshine in a bag.

    With that, the Gorillaz are stepping out on a high note. “This is the last time you’ll see us for awhile,” submitted Albarn to break the news of an extended hiatus, lamenting, “like everything, nothing lasts forever.” Maybe true for the real world, but the real world isn’t where the Gorillaz exist. That’s the ultimate virtue of virtuality: 2D and his scrappy band of hellions will always be out there somewhere, fighting the good fight against evil henchman and bad music, cooling out on a sunny plastic beach, or braving the tumult and turbulence of the glitter freeze. – JOSH PELTA-HELLER

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    THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: A Q&A With Sam Tripoli, One Half Of The Tinfoil Hat Comedy Act

    October 11th, 2018

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    Attachment-1-15BY TONY CARO Do you ever lay awake at night and wonder if there are aliens out there? Or if there are lizard people living in the center of the Earth? Comedian and conspiracy theorist Sam Tripoli doesn’t, because he has no doubt in his mind that there are. In his podcast, Tinfoil Hat, Sam Tripoli and Eddie Bravo talk conspiracy theories, ranging from the undoubtedly insane to the serious and most likely true theories that demand your concern. Frequently a regular on the Joe Rogan Show, Sam makes talking conspiracy hilarious, but when it comes down to it, he doesn’t shy away from saying what he really thinks, even if the truth isn’t what people want to hear. Based in Los Angeles, Sam Tripoli and Eddie Bravo will be in town on October 12th performing at Punch Line Philly for an hour of standup, and to answer the audience’s burning questions about what is actually true in an age of sweeping censorship. We were able to get him on the phone to tell us about his upcoming show, and to drop his signature truth bombs on us.

    DISCUSSED: Alex Jones, InfoWars, censorship, the truth behind the Moon landing, the JFK assassination, Tinfoil_Hat_LogoRoswell, and the flat Earth. The Armenian Genocide, geopolitics, the two party system of the U.S. government, the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, the Lifelog Project, Facebook, and the growing lack of privacy in modern times.

    PHAWKER: For the benefit of our readers please explain what the Tinfoil Hat podcast is all about and, again for the benefit of those who may not know, why it’s called Tinfoil Hat.

    SAM TRIPOLI: It’s a comedy/standup/conspiracy extravaganza. We have two of the funniest conspiracy theorists, myself, and Eddie Bravo, and we do like an hour of regular standup, and then we take questions from the crowd. He’s always done Joe Rogan and I have my Tinfoil Hat podcast. People love that and ask questions and it goes really well. People love this show. It’s been really well received. The name Tinfoil Hat is basically NWA. I just took the phrase that people use to make fun of conspiracy theorists and tried to turn it into a positive. My goal is that one day when you Google “tinfoil hat,” my podcast is the first thing that comes up.

    PHAWKER: Again, for the benefit of readers that may not know, please explain the Tinfoil Hat a reference to?

    SAM TRIPOLI: The whole belief was that the government was sending out like a radio wave to cook your brain so you’d put on a tinfoil hat on to stop the waves from getting in. Which is hilarious because that’s now what 5G is.

    PHAWKER: So then what is the live touring comedy version of that? What can people expect?

    SAM TRIPOLI: People can expect an hour of crush, some really funny standup, and then some fun Q&A, man. I mean it’s just like, we answer all the— It’s a great show. If you love conspiracy, or if you’re interested in a different kind of comedy this is the show for you. Sometimes when you get political in shows you lose the crowd, but you can’t do it in this show. People are there to hear us drop some truth bombs.

    PHAWKER: Totally. For sure.

    SAM TRIPOLI: We always welcome all the CIA and the NSA and the FBI, there’s always at the show. We love and welcome them to the show

    PHAWKER: Do you know that they’re at your show?Tinfoil_Hat_Logo

    SAM TRIPOLI: No, but I’m sure that they are. I’m sure they’re lizard people there. Yeah, lizard people are everywhere. They’re bisexual. They like to get weird.

    PHAWKER: Given your Armenian heritage, is there anything you would like to say about the Armenian Genocide, the concerted effort to deny and cover it up and what is going on in present day Turkey, i.e. Erdogan.
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    Win Tix To See Ja Rule + Method Man & Redman

    October 10th, 2018

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    We have a pair of tix to see old school ballers Ja Rule plus Method Man and Redman at North Seventh (formerly Electric Factory) on Friday and to win them all you have to do is like us. Really, really like us. More accurately, you need to follow us on Twitter and send us an email at phawker66@gmail.com telling us you have done so or already were along with a screen shot of the top of our Twitter page that clearly displays your FOLLOWING status. Put the word R.U.L.E. in the subject line and include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation. The 54th reader to email us with Good luck and godspeed!

    JA RULE + METHOD MAN & REDMAN @ NORTH SEVENTH FRI. OCTOBER 12Th

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