Category Archives: arizona

Sam Means: I Will (Beatles cover)

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that, after listening to Sam Means’ cover of “I Will” – recorded straight to his cell phone – my greatest accomplishment on the iPhone for the day was playing another game of Words With Friends.

This is the first song of what Means (formerly of the Format) is calling a “potential series,” cleverly titled Live From My Cell Phone. “Partly because the songs are recorded straight into the FourTrack Recorder app on my iPhone 4S, but mostly as a cheap attempt to hide the fact they kind of sound like crap.” Come on: “Crap” is a little harsh. Let’s go with “lo-fi.” But seriously, this is a great idea, another way technology closes the gap a little more between artist and fan.

Means, who designed the album art for Source Victoria’s Slow Luck and played piano on the song “I Know You Well,” is teaming up with Photo Finish Records to release a 7-inch, titled Nona, on Record Store Day. So be on the lookout for that.

Miniature Tigers: mural time lapse video

I have yet to be able to sit down with Mia Pharaoh, the new album from Miniature Tigers, who are in town tonight at Crescent Ballroom headlining the Modern Art Tour.

The show’s promoter, Psyko Steve, commissioned Tucson artist Joe Pagac to paint a mural on downtown arts venue Eye Lounge at First Friday. It was a collaboration with Tigers frontman Charlie Brand to help promote the album and show.

Check the time lapse video of its creation above, set to the new Miniature Tigers song “Afternoons with David Hockney.”

New Miniature Tigers: Female Doctor (plus album release date, tracklisting)
Miniature Tigers: Dark Tower on Yours

New Miniature Tigers: Female Doctor (plus album release date, tracklisting)


It was about four months ago that we heard “Boomerang,” the first bit of material from the forthcoming Miniature Tigers album Mia Pharaoh.

Now there’s a release date (March 6 on Modern Art), an album cover (above), a tracklisting (below) and another new tune (“Female Doctor”) as the New York-by-way-of-Phoenix band follows up on 2010′s Fortress.

Spin premiered “Female Doctor,” along with its (possibly NSFW?) cleave-teasing video that was spliced together from clips of Eastern European reality TV. As for the song itself, “Female Doctor” makes a grab for glam-pop, with its infectious synth lines and danceable beat.

Stream the song and watch the video at Spin.

Mia Pharaoh tracklisting:
1. Sex On The Regular
2. Female Doctor
3. Cleopatra
4. Afternoons With David Hockney
5. Easy As All That
6. Flower Door
7. Boomerang
8. Ugly Needs
9. Angel Bath
10. Husbands and Wives

Q&A with Jeremy Yocum, co-founder of Wooden Blue Records


As promised, I sat down Monday night for an interview with Jeremy Yocum, co-founder (along with Joel Leibow) of Wooden Blue Records, a short-lived but well-respected punk label based out of Tempe in the early 1990s that put out the very first recordings of Jimmy Eat World (among others).

A sold-out benefit show featuring JEW, Aquanaut Drinks Coffee, Haskel and Halema’uma’u takes place Friday at Crescent Ballroom, with all proceeds benefiting Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

I’ve known Jeremy and Joel since around the late ’90s but never had the occasion to sit and chat about their time with the label. It was an insightful 40 minutes that helped fill a glaring hole in my local music knowledge, though I’m sure we only scratched the surface. Nevertheless, he talks about the early days of JEW, operating a record label as a college freshman and why paying taxes is important.

So tell me how the show came together and how it came to be a benefit for Phoenix Children’s Hospital?
I became friends with Eddie Hennessy, who is Edie Haskel from Haskel, on Facebook just recently. And we started talking … He was talking about wanting to get together to do a show just for a one-off. So we hem-hawed back and forth about well, “Let’s do a Wooden Blue reunion type of deal.”

And then we started talking to Jim (Adkins, of Jimmy Eat World). And I didn’t know the logistics of Jimmy Eat World, you know — how does this work now? We had talked about a benefit of some sort. We didn’t really know who, but kids are good. But there’s no direct connection.

I’ve known you for years and have never talked to you about any of this. How did the label come to be? You and Joel were already friends?
Oh, yeah. Joel and I were friends since junior high school. It must have been right after we graduated high school (Mesa Mountain View). So, like, summer of ’93. Joel was interested in putting out a Jimmy Eat World record. I had met Aquanaut Drinks Coffee and was interested in putting out that. So we sort of joined forces blindly, neither one of us having a clue what we were doing … still. And those were our first two releases — the Jimmy Eat World 7-inch and Aquanaut 7-inch.

So you’re a freshman in college?
Yep. Like 18, just out of high school. Not knowing a god damn thing.

And you had known Jim?
Jim and I were in a second/third combination class together. And our moms were our den leaders for cub scouts. We grew up together. We lived one street over from one another. So Jim and I had been friends forever.

So they’re like a band about town … playing in someone’s garage or playing parties?
They played some parties. They played at some Name Brand Exchange or something. Just total high school stuff … nothing huge by any means. And back then, too, I’m thinking about it — is it for the better or worse that we did it when we did? If we were to do it now, it’s so much easier now, to an extent, with the Internet and Myspace a few years ago and that kind of stuff. Back then it was all snail mail and Maximum RocknRoll and cheesy zines where we mail a 7-inch in and hope to god for a review and hope to god that it would be positive (laughs).

The differences then and now … there’s blogs now and it’s instantaneous
Yeah, back then it was hurry up and wait. We had the P.O. box. I lived down here, but then I went to Flag. Joel still lived in Mesa, but we wanted a Tempe address so we got a P.O. box on Mill Avenue.

You wanted a Tempe address because it looked better than a Mesa address?
Yeah, yeah. But I think we were also just jaded because we wanted to get out of Mesa.

OK, so you’re doing this, you put out the Jimmy Eat World 7-inch … how much money are you into this at that point. Are you beyond your means as an 18-year-old?
No. Only because when I was in junior in high school I got burned, so I had insurance money. Joel was sort of the initial brains, I was the funds. And Joel had some connections musically, too. He was booking shows. He was really into the punk scene and I was just a fan. He was way more involved on that level.

What kind of shows was he booking?
Punk shows — at warehouses. There were no all-ages venues. So it’s like, “Oh, here’s Eagle Transportation warehouse.“ That’s around for six months and now Argo, that’s around for another four. It was a cool little scene. It brought the Valley together for sure. There were a lot of West side people. All of Haskel went to Central High. A friend, Matt Martinez that did booking with Joel, lived at 40th Avenue and Thomas. There were people all over the place.

Do you feel like you were in on ground floor of something cool? Did you have any idea that it could …
No. We were just doing it for fun. Sure, did we hope for success? I guess. But we wouldn’t know how to handle it. The Arizona Department of Revenue is what took us down. That’s why we stopped.

How so?
We weren’t paying taxes. … We told them we were selling everything wholesale because we were selling stuff to Stinkweeds and to Eastside. Come to find out, well, even if you’re selling wholesale you have to send in sales tax forms that say “zero” every month and we hadn’t been doing any of that stuff because we were just doing it DIY, whatever. We were just kids … we weren’t making any money, so what difference does it make? I would guess, in retrospect, had we been filing taxes we probably would have made money from the government.

So when did that happen, when you guys shuttered?
It was either ’95 or ’96. It was a very short-lived deal — two or three years.

So tell me about the Jimmy Eat world 7-inch, which is four songs. You press how many?
I think we pressed 1,000. It could have been 500 and then 500. That would probably make more sense because we had no idea if it was gonna sell or what.

And did it initially?
Yeah, it took off pretty well. We’re thinking, “Well, if this is all you have to do this is easy.” I remember getting the Maximum RocknRoll review and being like, “Yes, this is it.”

Did you keep a lot of that stuff — the reviews, flyers, etc.?
I didn’t. But I reaccumulated a lot of that when I did that Wooden Blue Myspace page. Funny thing is Jim must not have held on to a lot of that stuff, too, because I have very little Jimmy Eat World stuff. I have a lot of Temper Tantrum stuff.

Do you have a lot of the music?
I have it all. I don’t know if I have all of the hard copies, but I have it all digitally.

Have you ever thought about re-releasing anything?
I thought about re-releasing some of the Jimmy Eat World stuff only because I think that’s the only stuff that — not that it doesn’t matter to me — but would matter to mainstream. But that’s kind of a touchy subject.

Plus, then again, I don’t know legality of it. Rick (Burch, bassist) is not in that Jimmy Eat World. Mitch Porter is. Not that Mitch would have a problem with it. But then say we make money on it, how do we cut him into it and then it becomes about contracts where it was never anything like that.

In some cases, does it seem better to let these things exist where they did?
Yeah, I think so. And I think, too, now with the Internet and the piracy of music, anyone that truly wants it … it’s not the audiophile that wants the actual item. They just want the songs. It’s not diluted by being digital by any means because the recording kind of blew to begin with.

I had heard you might be selling some of the music at the show?
We’re gonna sell the compilation because the compilation came out under what we called Oak Family Shuttle Records because Wooden Blue got shut down. So we had Oak Family Shuttle presents Wooden Blue presents Back From the Dead Motherfucker. That was released after everything was dead. So by time it was finally released, everything was dead and we didn’t really release it properly. So we still sat on a bunch of them.

How many do you have?
I have no idea. Five-hundred were pressed. I bet only 300 were sold. Whether or not we still have the 200 — Jim might have some, Joel has some, I had some. Some of them have probably been stored poorly and are warped.

So the comp is mostly what you’ll sell?
The comp and T-shirts for the show (with the logo made for the show). And that’s what’s really funny, too. We’re having a backdrop of that made, too. Having shirts … it looks pretty flashy and slick, which totally what Wooden Blue records was not.

And here’s a funny story. For a long time I was just sitting on those comps, so I put some on eBay. I sold one to this girl. And then she immediately sends me a complaint when she gets it. She says, “Obviously, this is not the real thing because the cover is just a white sleeve with a sticker on it of the cover and the credits on the back.” So I wrote her back, “Actually, you’re wrong because I pressed it and that’s exactly what it was because we didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t have access to a screenprint.”

Does doing all this … do you get nostalgic about it? Does it make you wanna do it again?
No. I mean, I’m nostalgic about it. It was fun, it was neat. There was definitely a place for it. It was awesome. It was a fun bunch of kids. Nobody cared about … you know, if they were gonna go on tour, well, they’re gonna tour in a van and sleep on a floor and they were stoked about it. It was just a fun time. Because nobody knew better.

Now we know where Jimmy Eat World is, but could you have ever have thought they would be where they are now?
No. No. I remember … it was my sophomore year in college, so Jim’s freshman year. We lived together in this apartment. And I got a phone call from this guy, and he’s like, “Hey, is Jim around?” I said, “No, he’s in class” or whatever. “Can I take a message?” “Yeah, this is Craig Aaronson from Capitol Records.” I was like, holy shit. “No, he’s not around but they’re playing a show at the Nile a week from Friday or whatever.” I left it at that. I must have given Jim … well, I don’t know if I gave Jim the message or not. I don’t remember (laughs).

Anyway, I remember sitting at the merch booth at that show selling Wooden Blue shit. And this guy walks up and says, “Hey, are you Jeremy? I’m Craig Aaronson.” Holy crap. I think that was kind of the start of it. And he had heard of them because Capitol had interest in Christie Front Drive. And then Christie Front Drive had no interest in Capitol but said, “Hey, we did a split with this band Jimmy Eat World. You might wanna check them out.”

That’s like the golden days of record labels. It’s crazy to think a guy would come from L.A. to the Nile.
Yeah, to some bullshit show. I have no idea what show. It probably was not a Jimmy Eat World show. They were probably opening for somebody.

Obviously, everyone is pretty aware of Jimmy Eat World. Is there a band you worked with that you wish more people would have heard?
Aquanaut Drinks Coffee. Hands down. When we initially started, Joel wanted to do the Jimmy Eat World thing and I was like, “Aquanaut. I gotta do the Aquanaut.” Because I was a huge Dead Milkmen fan. Still am. Not that they’re like Dead Milkmen, but they’re quirky and off the beaten path like they were. Obscure but fun sort of band. They were great.

Do you know if Jimmy Eat World will play anything off that first CD at the show?
From what I can gather they’re playing in that time frame-ish. There’s talk of maybe a song from that disc. But I didn’t push it too much because I wanna be surprised like everyone else. But I’m definitely hoping. And I know that Charlie (Levy, of Stateside Presents/Crescent Ballroom) kind of said to them and I had said to Zach (Lind, Jimmy Eat World drummer), “Don’t play the hits.” If you want to, fine. But this is your chance to play whatever the fuck you want. Because this is not a Jimmy Eat World show in the sense that everyone is there to hear “The Middle.” These are old-school fans, so play what you wanna play.

You’ve really seen the local music scene evolve … for the better, do you think?
For the better in the sense that there’s a lot more of it, a lot more venues. A lot more true venues. At the same time, I’m so out of touch. I have no idea — I hate to sound old — what the kids are playing now. The last new band locally that was young that I heard was Asleep in the Sea and Peachcake.

And Asleep in the Sea is no more.
They were awesome. They were like a reincarnation of Aquanaut Drinks Coffee.

So that was a band you could see being on Wooden Blue?
Well, on my Wooden Blue. On Joel’s maybe not (laughs).

Did you guys have different ideas of what the label should be?
I think our different ideas … we just had different musical tastes where we both appreciated the other bands. The prime example was the Jimmy Eat World/Aquanaut thing. He liked Aquanaut and I thought Jimmy Eat World was great, but it was jut our own deals. Back then, I feel like there weren’t that many bands. It was kind of like all the bands we knew and became friends with, we put out their records. Whether or not we thought it would sell or not … forget a business plan, we were just putting our friends’ records.

The bottom line was it was friends putting out friends’ records and not having a clue and just because it was fun and cool and it gave everybody something. I feel like very few people pressed stuff on their own. So what they have pressed is what we did.

Does it seem like forever ago?
It does and it doesn’t. Yeah, it seems like long time ago. But a lot of it is fresh in my mind, too. It was just awesome … it was definitely fun and cool. And I think it did have a definite place at its time. I don’t wanna sound pompous or anything like that, but I feel like people wanted to be on Wooden Blue — the local punk rock bands.

Do you feel like you helped shape some sort of scene?
Yeah, I’d like to think so. I think the scene would have happened with or without Wooden Blue. I think Wooden Blue just helped bring everybody together — a united front. And that was what was really cool. We had East Valley kids, West Valley kids, Central kids. We had people from all over Valley.

Dec. 25: Merry X-Ray – a benefit for MC Puma, feat. Z-Trip, Radar and more at Crescent Ballroom


Last month, Phoenix’s Djentrification held a benefit at his 602’sdays night at Bikini Lounge for longtime local MC Puma, who has been battling a cancerous tumor (retroperitoneal seminoma). Puma told me recently he had his last chemotherapy treatment, but the bills likely won’t stop anytime soon.

That’s why more of Puma’s peers, friends and fans are coming together on Christmas night at Crescent Ballroom for Merry X-Ray, a benefit show headlined by the homecoming of DJ Z-Trip, who used to run with Puma back in the Bombshelter DJs days. Fellow Bombshelter turntable ace Radar is also on the bill, along with Tricky-T, Fashen (also returning from L.A.) and Mantis Claw (formerly of local hip-hop group Supermarket).

Anyone who has spent any time in the scene knows this type of support is hardly a surprise. We take care of our own. But perhaps the most important name on the Merry X-Ray bill is The Gentlemen Ether, a new-ish two-man project that features none other than Mr. Puma and Lynx Kinetic. I haven’t been able to see them yet, so I’m pretty excited that the first time will happen on what figures to be a special night with Puma’s return to the stage.

Tickets for Merry X-Ray, which is a 21-and-over show, are $15 and available here.

More on this show – with possible interviews – as the date approaches.

Hopefully, you already know where to download all sorts of free Z-Trip goodies – download ‘em all, but especially Uneasy Listening under “mixes” – and you can get your hands on a Gentlemen Ether track, “Whoompsh,” at Bandcamp (or below).

Jimmy Eat World headlines Wooden Blue records reunion/benefit: Dec. 23 at Crescent Ballroom


I’ve been fortunate to hang around the Phoenix/Tempe music scene long enough to meet creative and ambitious people from every angle – musicians to promoters to writers and more. And inevitably in Phoenix, being the small big town that it is, paths cross. It usually makes for an enlightening game of six degrees of separation: This band has a guy who played in that band with so and so from another band … and on it goes. I’ve often thought of what a local music family tree would look like – probably a sprawling but familiar web of so many talented names.

And still there are stories and memories untold. I’ve known Jeremy Yocum and Joel Leibow – founders of Wooden Blue Records – for some time now, but it dawned on me that I’m woefully lacking in my history of their label, which they ran from the early to mid ’90s. I don’t recall the specific time – I likely didn’t meet them until my years at Arizona State, a few years after Wooden Blue’s time – but I know I met them through my brother, who was in a band with a guy who lived with a guy who … yeah, you get the idea.

For one night, Wooden Blue is getting the band(s) back together. Jimmy Eat World (who put out its self-titled debut, a 7-inch and a split 7-inch on Wooden Blue), Haskel, Aquanaut Drinks Coffee (whose Ryan Kennedy now plays with Reubens Accomplice), Halema’uma’u and possibly more will play a show on Dec. 23 at Crescent Ballroom in a benefit for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It’s $15, and you can buy tickets here, assuming it hasn’t sold out by the time you’ve read this.

I’ve already talked with Jeremy about a possible Q&A in advance of the show. In the meantime, you can dig through the Wooden Blue MySpace page for music, flyers and photos. And just to make sure the connections continue, I’ve been in touch with the man responsible for designing that great flyer you see above, Kevin Lane, about a new logo/design for this site.

Also, Aquanaut Drinks Coffee has a whole host of active mp3s, including this one dedicated to Yocum:

Jimmy Eat World: “Splat Out of Luck” (from self-titled debut):

110 Percent: Scott Hessel (Source Victoria) talks NBA lockout, Suns and crybaby millionaires

Scott Hessel - Source Victoria

Welcome to 110 Percent, a new, recurring feature that brings together two of my greatest joys: music and sports. The goal is pretty simple (if not a little broad): I plan to talk to musicians about sports, be it their favorite team, the news of the day or anything in between. Everything is, ahem, fair game.

First up is Scott Hessel, drummer of Phoenix band Source Victoria, who will unleash a new album, Slow Luck, with a release party on Nov. 25 at Crescent Ballroom.

I chatted with Scott last week about his life as a Suns fun and the NBA lockout, a few days before the players union rejected the latest proposal from the owners on Monday, thus jeopardizing the 2011-12 season. We had already launched into conversation before I could get a question out, so I’ll let Scott get the proverbial ball rolling here …

Let me put it this way, the first time they did this lockout nonsense – what was it ’99? – I sort of re-embraced the NBA pretty quickly just because the Suns were still very much a team that wasn’t gonna win a championship, but we still were pretty good. This year, OK, well, they get a season going, and what do we have? We have the same questions about the Suns that we had before the season even ended. I hate to say this, but I’m like, “Blow it up.” What could it possibly hurt?

The guy I feel worst for is my basketball hero, Steve Nash. I still feel like that dude is playing at a very high level above the expectations of what even a guy his age is ever supposed to play. So the notion of him losing a year off his career would make me sad. But everybody else just strikes me as being just completely unsympathetic. I never particularly liked (NBA commissioner) David Stern. I don’t like the position a lot of the players are taking publicly … you don’t really have much sympathy for these dudes.

Especially considering the economy. I know they’re also negotiating for future players, but there’s already a huge disconnect between Average Joe and the rich athlete.
I understand the principle, but it could not happen at a worse time for the Average Joe to have much sympathy. I would have considered myself a die-hard basketball fan – that any given night I-don’t-really-care-what-game-I’m-watching fan. But this year, no. I’m completely sitting here going, “Why are we even caring?” I don’t care. It’s just not a good time to be having this sort of thing.

Give me some background. Were you born and raised and raised in Phoenix?
I was born in Florida and moved here in ’74. I was 7.

So the Suns were the only game in town, right?
When I first became a Suns fan they were offering 2-for-1s. The 2-for-1s were like $5, $7, something like that. I remember the New Orleans Jazz came to town. [Starts singing]: “The Suns are playing in town tonight / the Suns are playing in town tonight / Pete Maravich, you know what that means/ from way down ‘yonder in New Orleans.” That stuck with me all these years. That’s when I became a Suns fan.

Was that a commercial?
That was a commercial. It was so hokey. The Suns were on Channel 12, I think, at the time. I’ve been with ‘em all the way. The very first memory I have of the Suns was watching the Suns-Celtics on black-and-white TV, triple OT (Game 5 of the ’76 Finals). That was my first memory, which couldn’t be a better memory.

Continue reading

New Source Victoria: Nobody Knows But Me

Source Victoria - Slow Luck

We heard the first bit of the new Source Victoria album in July with a three-song EP for the single “Once I’m Dead” (available at Bandcamp). Now with CDs for Slow Luck in hand, burning a hole in the cardboard box they were shipped in, the band is offering a listen of another new track, “Nobody Knows But Me,” at its website (and below).

It can also be said that the album release show will be on Nov. 25 – that’s Black Friday – at the shiny new Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix with openers Jeff Bufano and Chris Corak (of Reubens Accomplice) and Colorstore. The album artwork was done by Sam Means (formerly of the Format), who is also among the handful of musical contributors that includes Jon Rauhouse (pedal-steel ace and member of Neko Case’s band), Lisa Loeb (yep), Jamal Ruhe (vocals and mastering) and more.

So far as I know, Slow Luck will be available for purchase at most of the major digital retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and streaming at the usual spots (Spotify, Rhapsody, etc.).

Alas, those are sort of the nuts and bolts of the album. And even though I’ve had it in hand digitally for some time (and now in physical form) and seen the songs live countless times, I’m still digesting it all. Writing anything about your brother’s band is sort of a daunting proposition – not to mention one that will sound totally biased. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to have more as the album release show approaches (maybe even an awkward Q&A with my own brother??).

For now, though, check out “Nobody Knows But Me”:

602′sdays benefit for Mr. Puma: Nov. 1 at Bikini Lounge


I’ve spent time waxing nostalgic on this site about the Bombshelter DJs, the three-man collective (Z-Trip, Radar and Emile) that I was fortunate enough to see perform regularly in the Tempe/Phoenix area during the mid to late ’90s. They are, without a doubt, some of my fondest live music memories. Those guys were open-minded and forward-thinking, proving you didn’t have to be one one coast or the other to start – and sustain – a movement.

But the weekly gigs and one-off shows weren’t just about turntablism. There were b-boys (props to the Furious Styles Crew) and live art (usually courtesy of Jim Mahfood), but the glue to it all was Mr. Puma, the unflappable emcee with a kind smile and killer verse.

Big-name guests came and went at the various Bombshelter nights, but for me, just a college kid and aspiring newspaper reporter/writer who devoured all things hip-hop, guys like Puma made a huge impression – not only on me, but on the scene he represents.

Without sounding overly dramatic about it, it’s time for the scene to pick up one of its own. I’ve been able to reconnect with Puma via Facebook, where he’s opened up his fight with cancer. Phoenix’s Djentrification is dedicating his 602′sdays night at Bikini Lounge to help raise money to defray Puma’s medical costs. I messaged Puma, asking him if he’d mind if I posted about what he’s going through, and he was (as expected) in good spirits and very forthright about his condition. With his permission, here’s what he said: “I found out that I had a retroperitoneal seminoma tumor, the size of a softball, surrounding my aorta, renal and messanteric arteries, about 9 weeks ago. I have been in chemotherapy for six weeks, have another six to go.”

Guests on Tuesday include M2, Robby Rob, Tricky T, Smite, Rani G and more.

Puma’s been working on a new two-man project called The Gentlemen Ether, which, from the small bit I’ve heard, pushes far beyond the constraints of traditional hip-hop (but that doesn’t surprise me because he’s always shown an eclectic ear for music). Check out the Gentlemen Ether’s “Whoompsh” below, and do what you can to show up to the Bikini Lounge on Tuesday or at least help spread the word.

New Miniature Tigers: Boomerang

Miniature Tigers - Boomerang

In July, Miniature Tigers celebrated the one-year anniversary of the release of their second full-length, Fortress, by releasing free demo versions of all the songs from the album.

Now we’re already getting a taste of a new album. On Monday, the New York-by-way-of-Phoenix band released a song, “Boomerang,” that it actually previewed in a session in late June. ( was so two months ago.)

There’s no release date for the album, Mia Pharaoh, but “Boomerang” – another catchy Mini T’s creation full of synthy flourishes – is a freebie that you can get at the group’s website (or below) for coughing up an email address. The site also has dates for a September tour.