q and also a :: sewingneedle
Calvin Fredrickson the Guitarist/vocalist of Chicago’s own sewingneedle sent us these answers to our questions in this next installment of q and also a.
q: What is the last song you (really) heard?
a: “Are You Sleeping?” by Greg Electric. I was scouring Bandcamp for Philly bands while booking this tour, and Greg Electric stopped me dead in my tracks. Rachel Gordon’s vocals just wigged me out – fierce, off-handed, slurred, unhinged. So expressive and utterly un-ignorable. The instrumentation is no slouch either! It’s like a colony of wasps buzzing after larvae. Bristly and ricocheting. And then the song dismantles itself before leading into a vocal refrain of “Frère Jacques” before rebuilding into chaos. A hilarious and unexpected touch. This band rips! We are playing with them and Sleep Tactics in Philly.
q: What is the first album you remember purchasing?
a: Hmm… Either MxPx’s Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo or Five Iron Frenzy’s live album from 1999, Proof That the Youth Are Revolting. Thanks to youth group, Christian punk rock and ska were my fertile crescent as a young music listener. There’s an intro song to that FIF album where Reese Roper wails, “To hell with the devil.” It’s kind of tongue in cheek, but this recording was made at Cornerstone, so the crowd goes downright ballistic in response. Roper does it a few times to get the crowd really revved up. Anyway, a sneaky buddy of mine – Jonathan Lang, you’re on notice – set a 3:00 A.M. alarm on my boombox, and since the FIF record was in permanent rotation, that shrieking intro song blasted at 3:00 A.M. for a few days straight. Each time, my dad came into the room with his Bible in hand and verbally cast out what he thought was a demon or some demonic presence, before switching off the boombox. This happened three days in a row before we discovered it was just an alarm and a FIF cd, not the devil, ironically enough. I slept through it every time. My dad was pretty unsettled by that.
q: What is the last album that you purchased?
a: The last two LPs I bought are Robocobra Quartet’s Plays Hard to Get and Music for all Occasions. Outstanding Irish band. I’m bugging them to do a proper tour of the states soon. Robocobra Quartet is a swinging, off kilter four-piece with spoken and shouted vocals. Groovy, emotive, skronky – my ears were optimized for this stuff. And if you love Christian ska like I do, you’ll dig the saxophone interplay here. Check out “Correct,” and you’ll be toast. Inspiring jams!
q: What is your favorite memory of experiencing music in a live setting?
a: My standard for live music euphoria is from seeing Chanticleer in Rockford around 2009 or 2010. I think it was at First Presbyterian. Amazing acoustics in there. Chanticleer is a California-based choral ensemble – and having sung in choirs as a kid, I have a soft spot for that. What was unique about this show was the focus of the pieces. It was less about traditional sacred texts – which they absolutely slay, by the way – and more on esoteric, overtone-laded Eastern music that sounded just bonkers to my ears. As teenager, I used to sing and hold out notes in a silo on my grandpa’s farm to make that buzzy, warbling whistle sound. At the time, I didn’t realize I was making overtones. Years later, hearing those clusters of overtones performed by Chanticleer throughout their set – many of these pieces lasting 10+ minutes – was transcendental.
q: What are the best and worst things about being in a band in Chicago circa 2018?
a: The best thing about being in a band in Chicago in 2018 is the abundance of talented musicians. Putting together a bill of killer bands, big or small, is easy. But it keeps a fire under all our kettles to stay sharp. A few people in particular that inspire me to keep my nose to the grindstone here in town are Seth Engel, Phil Sudderberg, and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. These guys play in a host of unique projects and are absolute monsters on the many instruments they each play.
One of the toughest parts about playing here is the dwindling number of small venues, especially ones that will take a chance on young bands and/or bands with a small reach, for a weekday show, no less. Our indie rock scene is definitely feeling the loss of Township and Quenchers. But DIY spots and The Burlington are picking up the slack there, I think. Shout out to Vito!
q: What piece(s) of culture are you really really excited about right now?
a: One piece of food culture that I am thrilled about is the corn brat. That’s right, like a corn dog but a bratwurst instead of a hot dog. Get out the way, veggie folx – in 2018, corn brats are taking over. It’s as if the Kiwanis Brat Days and Minnesota State Fair dreamed up a meaner and more powerful foe to the Pronto Pup. Get a corn brat at Schoolyard Tavern and Links Taproom here in Chicago. Spicy mustard and BBQ sauce on the side!
q: What should we know about User Error?
a: User Error is your feel good music for the summer. For fans of: dissonance, feedback, groove, harmonies, and that 30’s-era episode of Little Rascals where Chubby rubs Limburger cheese on Wheezer’s chest.
Purchase User Error on cassette: https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/ad283-sewingneedle-user-error (or buy it at a show!)
Speaking of which NYC… come see sewingneedle on 8/30/18 at Secret Project Robot!
(photo credit: Vanessa Valadez)