rock

Interview: Timothy Wojcik of Cup

First of all, I’d like to highlight my favorite bit of my interview with Timothy Wojcik of the garage (?)-rock (?)-noise metal (?) band, Cup.

“It might just sound horrible enough to make it into a Cup song.”

This should give you an idea of the kind of character Tim is. He doesn’t take anything too seriously, especially not the music he makes for Cup. He’s making music 100% just for the hell of it, just to make some noise that he and his bandmates hope reach some ears. Tim reached out to me a few months ago and I wasn’t quite sure what to think of his music and his newest album, More Cup. It was loud and I couldn’t quite figure it out SO, I asked him a series of questions and it cleared things up for me immensly, made his music make more sense. Throughout the interview Tim refers to his music as “garage shit” or “an album full of my idiotic songs” and also shares his stream of thoughts on EVERYTHING. His answers are long-winded but hilarious, genuine and thoughtful. I HIGHLY suggest you invest the time to check out what Houston-born noise rocker, Timothy Wojcik has to say about Cup.

MFL: How did your previous musical projects in NYC and experience as a drummer shape CUP?

 Timothy Wojcik (CUP): Before I started playing in Queen Giza (QG), a psych garage band I formed with a good buddy, Eric Casella, in NYC, I hadn’t drummed since high school, so around 6 years. There was no particular reason to the hiatus–I just didn’t bring my kit to college with me and didn’t pay much attention to it whenever I did go back home. So playing in the Geez got me back to loving playing music. It was like, why the hell haven’t I been playing all this time?? Eric recently moved out of the city, so QG has become a bit more sporadic. We’re just focusing on recording (actually just put out our first self-produced album this June, called Machine Master Demon Dream, available literally everywhere!) and playing shows whenever he’s able to take some time off work and come up here. 

 In the meantime, I’ve been playing with some other friends in a psych dream pop band called Trash Gendar (TG). The songs are very different from Queen Giza songs. A lot more parts, abrupt changes, angular and kinda odd riffs, a bit more vocally driven. Playing in TG was a bit of a drumming challenge, and I think playing with those dudes has made me an overall much better drummer. I’d never played songs in a 9/4 time signature before, you know? We’re playing a hell of a lot, tons of shows, recording, putting out an EP on cassette sometime very soon. It’ll be called Once, Child.

 Anyway, I think being a drummer is key to Cup. I’m coming at these songs thinking about the rhythm more than anything else. Each recording starts with a drum track (in the case of the last album, More Cup, it was two drum tracks in each song), and from there I build the guitar riffs and vocals. It’s a fun challenge: sit down at the miked up kit, and see if I can come up with 10-12 different, distinct, kinda punky beats.

 MFL: What are the pros and cons of being a solo musical project? One in which you are writing, recording and mastering everything yourself.

 CUP: Being on an island definitely has its benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, I can do whatever I want, play whatever beat or riff I want, make up whatever lyrics I want, mix the songs to sound however I want. Total creative freedom. On the other, I’m never sure if what I’m making is actually cool, or just stupid as hell. When you don’t have a full band all digging an idea for a song, or you don’t have another set of ears listening to mixes, that self-doubt creeps in very quickly.

 Mastering stuff myself has been a HUGE con. I don’t have any of the cool and pricy analog gear that a mastering pro might have, so I’m limited to the free plugins in the DAW I use, which is—don’t laugh at me—Reaper. I found a chain of plugins for mastering on some forum a while back, and have been using that since. I’ve tinkered with it a bit and think I’ve gotten better at it—More Cup definitely sounds much better than the previous albums, but it’s just lacking that punch that a pro can give masters. I’d love to use a mastering pro at some point, but don’t think I can bring myself to spend around $50 per song for a full album of my idiotic tunes.

Figuring out the live iteration of the band has also been a bit of a challenge, but fortunately I had a buddy, Alex Casella—actually the younger brother of my bandmate in Queen Giza—who I knew played drums and who has been willing to play my silly songs. And he had a buddy, Tim Askerov, who plays bass and keys, and who was down to play some keys for Cup. So we’ve got a nice little three piece playing my songs. But even just finding the time to practice has been super difficult. Tim is in a couple of other bands, and my TG practice and show schedule is usually very busy. So we’ve been limited to a couple hours on, like, Sunday morning, 10 AM. Kinda rough. Fortunately, I don’t think anyone expects Cup to be a tight and polished act—it’s more about having fun playing some noisy garage shit.

 MFL: Was sitting behind a drum kit your first musical experience or did you pick up any other instruments prior?

CUP: I actually started off playing the trombone, and man I loved it. I started back in the 4th grade and had this amazing teacher. I got to the point where I could jam and improvise with my dad, who is an amazing self-taught jazz guitarist. I played through to the 7th grade and then joined the school band, which totally sucked all the fun out of playing. I quit trombone and started playing drums then, which is super late to start drumming, but oh well. I’ve actually been thinking of trying to incorporate some trombone—maybe some sort of horn drone, through some delay and fuzz pedals. It might just sound horrible enough to make it into a Cup song.

Otherwise, I’ve always been around guitars. My older brother is also a great guitar player, actually started playing classical and then moved to electric, like most teenage boys are wont to do. So, being the younger brother, and also in a household of lead guitar players, I usually was handed an acoustic and told a series of four chords to play over and over again while my brother or dad would shred solos. I actually think that experience was hugely influential to Cup and my guitar playing. I can’t solo worth shit, but I can play the same 4-8 chord progression for 10-20 minutes straight. Not that that’s impressive, but you know, I can do it.

 

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 MFL: If you are not from NYC originally, how did you find yourself there? In a few words, describe the music scene in NYC from your perspective.

CUP: I’m actually from Houston, TX. I moved up to NYC after college at a small school, Hendrix, in central Arkansas, following a girl I had been dating for about a year. I was an English major, and eventually found a job in book publishing, at a literary agency.

 The NYC music scene is incredible. There are shows going on every single night of the week, and there are so many great bands around. And I’ve found it to be a very supportive crowd. For example, I set up a release show for Queen Giza this Thursday the 11th (at The Gateway, if you’re reading this and in NY, come on out!), and one of the bands had to drop out with pretty short notice. So I messaged a new music buddy and he had a list of bands for me to reach out to. I did, and I think we already have a replacement band. Maybe that’s not all that crazy, but it left me thinking that there are people here that actually care about your bands and shows and music and will help you out if need be.

 MFL: How would you describe the musical genre that is CUP and what musicians (past or present) have inspired this sound?

CUP: I think Cup sits pretty squarely in the garage rock genre. I could say psych garage rock, but then I’d be kidding myself—there’s nothing really psych about it, besides the weird vocals.

My main inspiration is Coachwhips, John Dwyer’s band prior to when Thee Oh Sees really took off. It’s really raw, loud, and messy sounding, and I love it. I wish I had gotten to see them live at some point, in a warehouse somewhere, in a huge, sweaty, throbbing crowd. Early Thee Oh Sees were a big inspiration too, of course, especially for this last album.

My other inspiration, perhaps oddly, was the first Eagles of Death Metal album. I hope I don’t get chastised for saying that, because I know the main dude in EODM has been getting in trouble with the media for some stuff he said lately. But that first album is just fantastic and totally rocking.

MFL: If you were to headline a show, who would be your opener? And, the other way around, who would be the dream band for you to open for?

 CUP: I can’t even fathom what series of events would lead to someone opening for Cup, so I’m not going to answer that first part. It would just be crazy for me to say anyone—and if I did mention anyone, and they found this interview, they’d be like, “Who is this idiot with the shitty sounding band that wants me to open for them?? “

But the other way around might be more in the realm of possibility. There are so many bands I’d love to open for! On the loftier end of the spectrum, Thee Oh Sees (Coachwhips if they ever do any more reunion shows), Ty Segall and whichever band he’s doing at the time. King Kahn and BBQ Show would probably be the most fun to open for—a friend has hung with King Kahn before and had some great stories to tell. Even though it would a stretch to call it a “fit,” I’d love to open for Wand.

 There are a lot of great NYC bands that I think would be cool to open for. Surfbort are fkin insane and fun. I just saw Cheena for the first time recently, opening for Goggs along with Surfbort, and they were awesome. I’d love to get another show together with Pink Mexico, who is taking off right now. I’d also love to get a show with Thick, who are an incredibly fun band to see live. Sharkmuffin are amazing. BOYTOY, Las Rosas, The Rizzos, Baby Shakes, GYMSHORTS; I could go on and on!

MFL: What do listeners need to know about your record, More Cup, before listening?

CUP: I guess that there are two drum tracks per song—I’m not sure if that’s all that easy to discern. But otherwise, nothing really. Oh, and that I know my singing is bad. And that I’m sorry for all of it.

MFL: What is the idea behind CUP? Is it an acronym or does it represent something besides the inanimate object humans drink liquids out of?

CUP: I was debating band names for a long time with buddies, and thought I came up with some good ones. But I wanted something really simple. One of my favorite bands right now is Wand, who I think possibly have the coolest band name ever. Very simple, but immediately connotes a larger conceptual idea. So then I was looking through other tarot-like terms, and Cup kind of called out to me, but in a “Hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if I named the band Cup” way. And then in a “Wouldn’t it be even funnier if I named the first album and song ‘I Am A Cup’” way. My buddies agreed that that would be pretty funny, so I went with it.

 

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MFL: When is your most productive time of day as a musician and why?

CUP: Oh, anytime I’m able to get into the studio. I feel like I can turn it on whenever I need to. For Cup recording, I’ve been going to the rehearsal studio early in the morning on weekends, mainly to ensure that the metal band next door doesn’t happen to be there, with their insane loudness bleeding into the recording. I mean, I try to be loud, but those guys—just, holy shit. But being in the studio while nobody else is there, with a huge cup of coffee, has been great for recording productivity.

In terms of writing lyrics or guitar parts, that usually happens on my couch in my apartment in the evening, after a beer or two. Just noodling while watching whatever bizarre comedy show I’m into at the time (Squidbillies and Eric Andre right now). Sometimes I’ll notice that something sounds cool, and will make a voice memo of it on my phone.

MFL: What is on the horizon for CUP in terms of live performances?

CUP: We’ve got a show 8/30 or 9/1 at Sunnyvale, a newish cool Brooklyn venue. But otherwise we’ve got nothing! Gotta go send some more booking emails out.

MAJOR “thank you” to Tim for all the emailing back and forth and for taking the time to check out MFL! You can find Cup’s music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Interview: Emmas Ringer

Emmas Ringer is a 90’s/80’s grunge-inspired band based out of Ottawa, ON in Canada. The three members span three generations in age, giving their music a truly unique quality. The latest release from the group is the record, Generations, which is available on Bandcamp and iTunes now. Scott McCooeye (keyboard, synth), Owen Coffin (drums, drum pad, synth, acoustic guitar), and Scott Maybee (vocals, guitars, bass, mandolin). I got the chance to run some questions by the guys and we covered everything from the origin of their band name to a stressful time when ALL of their music was lost because of a cat! Check it out:

MFL: How and why did Emmas Ringer come to be? Along that same vein, tell me about the name?  

 ER:  The name is a reference to what was going on in the 80’s and especially in the 90s, where you had these musical performers lip syncing as puppets to their own music.  Even Radiohead was forced to do that early on when they broke out.  The use of the word “Ringer” is a reference to the idea that pop star performers have become interchangeable.  We’re now entering a stage where performance isn’t even required.  It’s just a reference to that shift in focus for music and a reminder to us why it’s still important to embrace live performance and not be tempted to start cutting corners in today’s age of sequences, pitch correction, laptops and triggers.  It’s ironic for us since we try our best to infuse pure raw emotion in our music displayed onstage. 

 MFL: What happened to Emmas Ringer between the release of The Spirits Will Guide in 2011 and Generations fall of 2014? That may be a loaded question so feel free to answer in whatever way you see fit! 

ER:  In 2011 we decided we wanted to reintroduce “Emmas Ringer” as a duo and start trying to get shows, with Scott Maybee (guitar, vocals) and Scott McCooeye (keyboard).   It was basically a lounge act and our compositions didn’t really work well live.  In 2012 Owen Coffin joined Emmas Ringer as our drummer, and we began to compose new songs in 2013 but recording, mixing, and mastering of these songs were set back over a year because of a curve ball fired at us!   Scott Maybee had all the contents on an external harddrive and one night his cat knocked it over losing EVERYTHING! Luckily the studio had all the original bed tracks and in fact all our other new takes wound up better than the first so it was a blessing in disguise.

MFL: Top 3 favorite bands before the year 2000 and after the year 2000. 

 ER: Before : Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Doors

After: The White Stripes, Cage The Elephant, St. Vincent

MFL: Give a brief description of what goes down at your shows. Based on your sound, they seem like they could be pretty rowdy…but I could be wrong! 

ER:  We focus on dynamics and textures, very mellow one min; powerful the next.  We pay attention to our audience and look at what works and what doesn’t for them.  Our sets are diverse, some songs catchy and poppy, other songs heavy and others very trippy.  For electric shows we usually end our set in chaos, knocking things over and smashing instruments etc.  In today’s world of equity performers and DJ culture, it’s important for us to embrace the timeless spontaneous creativity of a genre like live jazz as opposed to having a scripted live performance that’s become so common.

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MFL: As a band, what is your dream for Emmas Ringer or where do you hope to see yourselves in 5 years’ time? 

 ER:  Like most bands we would all be very happy to someday be able to support ourselves comfortably with music full-time.  That seems like a pipe dream at this point so in reality we just hope to be able to continue what we are doing and build on our own songbook.  Playing major festivals is a goal for us, as is a full Canadian tour.  Hopefully we’ll get there sooner than later.

MFL: What was the inspiration behind Generations

ER: Many different things, some very personal such as drug addictions and failed relationships, others very imaginative, others political.  We wanted to pull from all our influences and take what was relevant in the past and what might be relevant today and hopefully make something that would connect with people.  We dedicated the name to the fact that we each come from 3 separate generations and we felt that was pretty unique and amazing that as a band we can still connect so well despite having such an age gap.

MFL: As a band, what are you favorite songs to play live?

ER:  “Hong kong” , “Woke Up”,  “Colours”, “Laws”

 

 

MFL: What is the songwriting process like for Emmas Ringer? 

ER:  Its very democratic.  Generally speaking, both Scotts write the lyrical content which is often a joint effort.  Much of the poppy stuff Scott Maybee writes while Scott McCooeye will write more abstract songs.  That being said we often surprise each other.  No specific pattern – it just all flows together in the end.  On our most recent album, several songs such as “Million Dollar Soldier” and “Breather Holes” were fleshed as a trio – the melody and lyrics all came after.  Owen plays several instruments and is also a singer, and although he’s still new to songwriting he played a big part in the creative process of “Generations”.  

MFL: Finally, any plans to hit the US in the near future if you haven’t already? 

ER:  We have no plans in the near future but are definitely interested to hit the US at some point.  We need to conquer Canada first!

Thank you so much to Emmas Ringer for reaching out to MFL and answering my questions! Keep up with the guys via their website and Facebook.

 

New record out now from existential poppers, Delta Will

Delta Will is an existential pop group out of Toronto who makes music the way they want to make it. So many genres are blended in their truly unique musical offering: 80’s synth pop, electro, indie rock, experimental, psychedelia. I hear the likes of M83, Antony and the Johnsons, Alt-J, Depeche Mode, Joy Division and sounds from bands that have yet to exist, sounds that are completely unique to Delta Will, as they are their own.

The Toronto group is composed of Brandon Johns (keys, synth, bass), Charles Tilden (vox, guitars, samples, drum machine), Milan Schramek (bass, guitar, vox) and Lowell Whitty (drums). Delta Will began as a solo bedroom project with Charles Tilden releasing the initial EP (Transcendental Visits) in 2012 and then a followup EP (It All Glows) in 2013 in collaboration with Lowell Whitty on drums. Now the group now a foursome, released a full length titled, Weathering, on March 18th.

Weathering is a record based on exploration of consciousness, the state between dreaming and awake. According to the band, they want their music to induce an “out-of-body experience, as though we are floating around, calmly observing the world.”

Enjoy the view now. Weathering is available on Bandcamp and iTunes.

 

New track from Scottish four piece, Cherri Fosphate: “Auf Wiedersehen”

The name of this Scottish four piece’s band, Cherri Fosphate, is as confusingly delicious as is their music, without the confusing part, it’s just delicious! Back in 2012, this foursome decided they wanted to keep their rock and roll t’s crossed and dot their i’s but get rid of the frills and flourishes, and bring the stripped back n’ raw sound of New York rock to their homeland of Scotland. They have clearly accomplished just that. They’ve developed a simple sound that makes listeners happy in all the right ways, without overstimulating as a lot of rock music and do these days.

Cherri Fosphate is Jonny Sharpe (vocals & guitar), Alan Robinson (lead guitar), Jordan Lannigan (bass) and Sonny Kainth (drums) and back in 2013 they released their debut EP Burning Youth. This EP was very well received and since then have been playing shows with the likes of Catfish and the Bottlemen, Honeyblood and others and playing festivals like Brew at the Bog and Belladrum.

They just premiered a new single/download in Clash Magazine called “Auf Wiedersehen” which is an upbeat garage indie rock track with an irresistible chorus.

Look for the new full length that includes “Auf Wiedersehen”, We Didn’t Come Here to Say Goodbye, which will be out late November. For more on Cherri Fosphate, check out their Facebook page and official website.

Lazy summer listening: “Canyon Lights” by The Afternoon Edition

The Afternoon Edition is the perfect blend of country, folk and rock. I say “perfect” because country can be a little difficult for me to stomach sometimes but The Afternoon Edition has nailed this mixture of genres. “Canyon Lights” is quietly celebratory sounding track that gains subtle momentum as the track unfolds. It’s off of The Afternoon Edition’s upcoming debut full length album.

The Afternoon Edition is composed of brothers Connor and Shane Noetzel and their friend Brian Gallio. They released their first EP, “No One Will Know”, back in 2013 and have been gathering fans from a variety of musical tastes ever since. Excitingly, their debut full length will be out this summer of 2015.