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    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Behind the blog: Muzzle of Bees

    A new feature in which I'll interview some of my favorite bloggers.

    Muzzle of Bees was one of my first music blogs I started reading regularly and it's not hard to see why. Ryan's site showcases his great taste, his eye for design and a friendly, personable writing style. He comes across as one of the nicest guys in the blogosphere (check out his answer to my third question for further evidence), motivated by an evident love of the music he's championing. He also used to interview other music bloggers, a fun idea that inspired the creation of this feature. So when it came to deciding who I should talk to first, the choice was clear. Here's my interview with the man behind the blog:

    What first got you into music blogging?

    My intentions weren’t to start a music blog, but it kind of just happened that way. I started Muzzleofbees.com in January of 2005 because I was going to be backpacking across Europe with my best friend. It was a good way for me to keep a journal of my trip as well as keeping my friends and family in the loop. After I got back, I decided that instead of sending out e-mail blasts to all my friends to check out certain bands, MP3s, etc. that I would just put that stuff on the site until it expired the following January. I had a good time doing it and other people outside my circle of friends started stopping by, so I decided to keep blogging.

    What sets your blog apart from other people's?

    First and foremost, I wanted the people of Wisconsin that shared a similar music interest to be able to easily find concert dates and upcoming info that may not be brought to the forefront of the music scene. I started a shows page that covers Madison and Milwaukee upcoming concerts. As much as I always think and talk about leaving Wisconsin, it’s a real nice place that’s close to my heart and I appreciate all the work the promoters do to bring live music here as well as all the bands that are nice enough to play small markets. For some time, I was doing a feature called Get To Know Your Blogger, which was really great and people seemed to enjoy it. It’s nice you’re picking up something similar. I just don’t have time to dedicate to it, and there are so many people to get to.

    What's the best part of being a music blogger? What's the worst part?

    I guess for me, it’s great to have a journal of all my concert and record experiences. It’s an easy way for me to look back on some of the better times in my life. The worst part is not being able to please everyone. You get a lot of albums and e-mails and you can never really pay attention to all of them. It’s something that I think about a lot, and feel terrible that I can’t listen to everything that gets sent my way. I would love to bring a couple people on just to listen to and write a review about everything we get, but that might be overwhelming and a bad idea.

    Pick a post you think is especially cool for someone who's never seen your site.

    Hmmm. There’s a band called Hatebeak that is the death-metal group whose lead singer is a parrot. I remember being on an airplane and reading about them prior to takeoff and was frantically trying to post something about them before they made me shut my phone off. So the post isn’t anything exciting, but a death-metal band with a parrot lead singer might be worth checking out.

    Who are some of the contenders to top your year-end list right now?

    TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain, Lucero - Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers, M. Ward - Post-War, Hot Chip - The Warning, James Hunter - People Gonna Talk, Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Ballad Of The Broken Seas, William Elliott Whitmore - Song Of The Blackbird

    What song or album are you obsessed with at the moment?

    Albums: new ones by Beck, The Hold Steady, Lucero and The Album Leaf. I am also pretty obsessed with the Ricky Gervais podcasts. I just got the second and third seasons and I can’t stop listening to them. I can’t listen to them on my iPod in public because they make me laugh so hard, and I feel like everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy.

    Songs: I’m the type of person that listens to albums all the way through, so there aren’t many songs that set themselves apart on my iPod. That being said, there are two new tracks from Tom Waits that are floating around out there, and he’s one of my favorites, so those are currently getting a lot of playing time.

    There are those great pictures of you with Jeff Tweedy and Wayne Coyne. What other musicians or other artists would you most like to hang out with?

    Tom Waits. I’m from a real small town in Wisconsin, and I’d love to buy a beat-up old truck and just drive the countryside with Tom talking about whatever, perhaps stopping at a dive bar and playing some brandy-drenched songs on the bar piano.

    Eddie Vedder – I owe a lot to this guy. I can pretty much trace all the music I listen to back to Pearl Jam. They got me into so many bands like Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth and the Ramones, which led me to branch out and keep discovering great music. We’ve got a mutual friend, and I got a voicemail once with Ed on it for about 10 seconds, but I think that’s the closest I’ll come to the man.

    David Byrne – The guy is a genius and I love reading his blog. I think I could learn a lot from him.

    What are some of the best shows you've seen this year? Who do you most want to see that you haven't seen?

    Broken Social Scene at Lollapalooza was hands-down one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever been a part of. I could write for pages about that show, but it wouldn’t come close to accurately describing how amazing it was. Anything else after that is way down on the list as far as I’m concerned. The Hot Chip show at Lollapalooza was my first exposure to the band, and I have been hooked on them ever since. The TV On The Radio show at ACL was something to behold as well; it was my first time seeing them and I was very impressed. I also enjoyed the Wolf Parade show at ACL a lot, even though I was about a mile from the stage. M. Ward at the Pabst was simply stellar as well, though I thought he didn’t play long enough. The Lucero show I saw the other night in Milwaukee is probably at number two. Those guys tore that place apart. Oh, and make sure to catch William Elliott Whitmore live if you get a chance. He’s a monster of a performer, and will make a room full of talking assholes shut up for 45 minutes and not say one word. His voice is that powerful.

    I’ve been pretty fortunate to see a lot of the shows I wanted to. I tried my hardest to see Tom Waits in Chicago. I’d love to see Sunset Rubdown. David Byrne and R.E.M. are on my list to see as well.

    What are some of your favorite labels right now?

    Merge. I have a friend who always tells me about bands. If they are on Merge, he always says, “They’re on Merge so you know it’s going to be good.” He’s right; they never fail to impress me with their releases. I’ve always been a big fan of Sub Pop and Secretly Canadian is one of my favorites right now for sure. ATO and Lost Highway put out stuff that I listen to a lot as well. There are so many labels that I could never put down all my favorites.

    What are your favorite local venues?

    In Madison, it’s hands-down the High Noon Saloon. Cathy does such a great job, the staff is always friendly and bands love to play there. I’ve seen a lot of my favorite concerts since moving to Madison at this place.

    In Milwaukee, it’s definitely the Pabst Theater. The guys and gals at the Pabst have been instrumental in bringing live music back to the city. I love the city of Milwaukee, and one of the reasons I was all right with moving to Madison was that the Milwaukee music scene was all but dead. The Pabst has revitalized the scene, serves cheap drinks, has the most beautiful venue in the state.

    What album do you really like that no one likes and what album does everyone like that you're not into?

    Lucero. I’m not sure that I can say that nobody likes them, but I am surprised how little blog coverage they get. Their latest album, Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers, is simply amazing. If you’re digging the new Hold Steady, I can’t figure out how you can’t love this album as well. This album just came out, but I’m sure I’ve listened to it more than anything else so far this year.

    I really can’t get into Yo La Tengo’s new one. I’ve given it quite a few listens. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never really gotten into any of their stuff, but I’m going to keep trying. I mean, that many people can’t be wrong, can they? I also can’t stand The Decemberists, and boy, have I tried. I saw them live and hated every single second. If my friend hadn’t taken me and been a big fan, I would have walked out after the second song. I’ve given their new album a few listens, but I think it will find its way into a used bin in Madison shortly.

    * MP3:
    "Dry" - William Ellio from Song of the Blackbird [Buy it]
    * MP3:
    "San Francisco" - Lucero from Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers [Buy it]
    * MP3:
    "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" - Tom Waits from Orphans [Buy it]

    Comments on "Behind the blog: Muzzle of Bees"


    Blogger bluesphee said ... (12:03 PM) : 

    Interesting interview!


    post a comment