June 15, 2009

2009 Westword Music Showcase and Fire Dancers

Met up with Kort and we went to Westword Music Showcase. This is one of the best musical events of the year. It's about six stages set up with local bands allllllllll day and night. So much fun. And Kort scored free tickets through her rad connections.

First, we went to see Chain Gang of 1974, who is one of our favorite bands:

After a while, we decided to get some lunch, so we were sitting out behind the stage, in an alley, listening to the music. Then, Kamtin (the singer for Chain Gang) pulled his car in front of us and got out. We shouted, "Oh! Oh! Chain Gang!" (We forgot his name.) "You were awesome!" He smiled and threw the rock sign at us.

Next up was Joshua Novak (and I would encourage you guys to look all these bands up and download their songs...so great!):

And Lion Sized:

While watching this band, we saw Eli from Hot IQs and Brer Rabbit from Flobots. That was pretty cool too.

Ian Cooke:

So, during the Cooke show, Keene joined us and Kort had to leave right after. We joked about me being a relay baton.

Oh! Oh! But before Kort left, we saw Eli from Hot IQs again and decided to introduce ourselves. Eli shook my hand and said something about the great article I had written and thanked me again for the interview. We talked a bit and then he gave us tickets to his last show. ::tear::

After Kort left, Keene and I went to see some more bands, some of which sucked and some were awesome. We found ourselves in front of the main stage during a huge thunderstorm:

(And this was the last picture I ever took on this phone, because it fizzled out immediately afterward.)

We toughed it out until it started hailing, then decided to leave. As we were walking by the art museum, I saw a guy who looked familiar. I whispered to Keene, "I think that's Johnny 5 from Flobots!" Keene said, "Well, let's go ask!" Being a wimp, I said, "No, I don't want to!"

But we turned around anyways (especially since he seemed to notice our hesitation) and I said, "Hey, are you Johnny 5?" He said yes and shook our hands and asked our names. We talked a bit about his charity (Keene has been wanting to get involved with it). He is such a cool guy.

After we left, we went to dinner and my mascara was running everywhere! Since I couldn't see anything, Keene wiped it all off for me. We are just *that* adorable. Next stop, fixings for Bloody Marys at the liquor store, then back to Keene's place.

The next day, Keene and I took the kids to see Up in 3-D.

Rocking the 3-D glasses:

After the movie, we dropped Keene and Maia off at home then Kayden and I watched the fire dancers at the Platte River:

After a walk around the extremely flooded river, we went home.

June 1, 2009

An Exit Interview with Hot IQs

(Reprinted from www.ColoradoMusicBuzz.com)

In April, rumors began trickling around the Denver music scene: one of the most well-known local bands was splitting up. A bulletin on their MySpace page confirmed this: “Well, this is it! It was a hard decision, but we’ve decided that this is the end of the road for Hot IQs.” I don’t know about you, but I could have sworn it got cloudy outside and started raining right then.

The trio – Eli Mishkin (vocals and guitar), Elaine Acosta (drums), and Bryan Feuchtinger (backup vocals and bass guitar) – started out bright-eyed in 2004, just learning to play their instruments. They have since become a musical tour de force, noted for their catchy riffs, definitive style, playful stage presence, and clever lyrics (“They’re doing what on the nightstand?!”). Over the past five years, Hot IQs has been nominated repeatedly for various music awards, has interviewed with national publications, released well-received albums, and has toured the country – while remaining a mainstay in Denver clubs.

As one of their loyal fans, I couldn’t just stand by and watch this happen, allow them to disappear into the sunset without further notice …

CMB: First off … why, oh God, why?! What is the reason for the break-up?

Eli: Like the wooly mammoth of the Great Plains or the Orange Fanta on my desk, all good things must come to an end. This just felt like the right time to go out on a high point.

Elaine: As Chad and Jeremy (1960s Folk-Rock duo) said, “All good things must end some day. Autumn leaves must fall.”

Bryan: Nothing lasts forever, right?

CMB: What are your goals from here? Do any of you plan to continue a career in music?

Eli: We’re obsessed music snobs, so we’ll definitely all continue to play music in some fashion. [I’ve] been playing some solo shows around Denver – a la Beyoncé.

Elaine: I am in the process of editing a book tentatively titled, “Holy Sweet Goddamn: The Secret Life of a Rock and Roll Drummer/Psychiatric Nurse.” As for music, I am in a new band/interpretive dance collective called Shine on You Crazy Diamonds, with the director of our video for “Houndstooth” (and my fiancée), Tyler Ford. We formed a video production company called Art Condition. We are currently working on a new video for the band, The Bronx. In addition, Art Condition recently assisted in editing a screenplay for a short film entitled, “Charlie's Book.” The film was written by an autistic man and is about living with autism. Life is crazy and amazing for me right now. I am slightly manic and I need to be constantly busy.

Bryan: My full-time job is running a recording studio, Uneven Studio, where I am lucky enough to work with great bands around Colorado. I also am currently playing with a band called Accordion Crimes, which is playing our second show at Wax Trax on June 6th with The Firedrills. I hope to continue to be a part of the Colorado music scene until I die or feel too old and want to die.

CMB: Hot IQs has become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed Denver bands over the last few years. Let’s talk a bit about your experiences. Do you remember your first show as a trio? What was it like?

Elaine: Our first show as “the royal we” with Bryan was a Pavement Covers’ show in a loft downtown. The songs we chose were “Shady Lane,” “Elevate Me Later,” and a Silver Jews song called “Honk If You're Lonely.” We practiced really, really hard and we still sounded terrible. It was hilarious and definitely one of our most fun shows.

Eli: I remember it was a blend of nerves, sloppiness, and moxie that got us through the three-song set. There’s a video of our performance floating around somewhere. We look so young. And so stiff. We learned to loosen up a bit while performing.

Bryan: There is video footage of this in Portland somewhere, but I think it has been confiscated by the Bush regime last year sometime. Maybe?

CMB: How has your music and performances changed over the years?

Eli: Besides loosening up? Well, we really focused on doing the best we could with our somewhat limited musical abilities. None of us are “trained” musicians, so we learned to just embrace the jagged edges. As far as our live shows, early on we toyed with some pretty silly ideas: coordinating outfits, choreographed dance moves, that sort of thing. Ultimately, though, we settled on a sort of “Elegant Abecedarian” vibe: embracing our inner amateur while focusing on having a good time. I think we’ve always tried to emulate our favorite bands that play with passion and a total lack of pretension. I hope we emulated that aspect at least.

Bryan: We have come a long way from our fist sloppy shows to where we are now. Lots of work and attention to the stuff that bands normally don't want to work on. I think we could almost be called musicians now!?

CMB: What was your favorite live-show performance? How about your favorite moment off-stage?

Eli: So many great moments. To name a few: The first time we played to a “sold-out” audience was at the Fox up in Boulder. We were opening for this band, Hot Hot Heat. We got to the venue super early and hadn’t been able to check if there was anybody there. When we stepped out to play – and this was really early in the evening, like 7 p.m. – the place was absolutely packed. As soon as we started, all the kids danced from the first note to our last. It was so much fun – and so unexpected. We were all just smiling the entire time, thinking this is what it’s like for “successful bands.”

Bryan: One favorite live show is impossible, but one of the top shows was opening for Built to Spill in Connecticut. Doug Marsch is a big hero of mine. And one of my favorite moments off-stage is seeing kids that really enjoyed the show for the first time and they take the time to come over and tell you about it. Just knowing that someone has shared the same experiences I did when I was young is humbling. It's hard to comprehend that you have changed someone’s life forever and all you hope is that it is for the better. I know I would not be the person I am today without seeing Fugazi in '89.

Elaine: My favorite live show moment was when I saw someone singing along to one of our songs for the first time. It made me feel like I was in a real band. As for favorite off-stage moments, we had the most epic cupcake fight ever, backstage during a show with The Swayback in Aspen. That's what Rock and Roll should be about: smearing cupcakes on each others' faces.

CMB: Your favorite venue or event?

Elaine: SXSW is by far the most exciting festival to be part of. Austin is such a beautiful and musical city. Denver has many fantastic venues, as well. I couldn't name just one.

Eli: Crystal Ballroom in Portland is amazing. The floor is a trampoline! Red Rocks, obviously, is beautiful and we’ve been honored to play there multiple times. However, our favorite venues are the local watering holes: Hi-Dive, Larimer Lounge, Bluebird, because it feels like the staff and concert-goers are there to enjoy the most primal and intimate aspects of music.

Bryan: Holy shit! The whole floor [of Crystal Ballroom] is suspended for ballroom dancing, so when you get a thousand people packed together, it feels like a herd of elephants! The Fox Theatre in Boulder has always upheld a high standard for treating bands and artists like they want to be treated. In return, I think the bands see this and have a better experience.

CMB: Was there a band with which you especially enjoyed performing?

Bryan: Probably our good friends, Everything Absent or Distorted, who always put on a great show. We saw them from the start to become what they are today.

Elaine: Touring with Tegan and Sara by far was the most incredible experience of all of our time touring. Playing with The Thermals and Tilly and the Wall was always so much fun.

Eli: Tegan and Sara are some of the nicest, most talented people in Rock. The Thermals are all heart. Cloud Cult are super humans. Silversun Pickups are magic.

CMB: Okay, we’re among friends – no niceties. Do you have any crazy fan stories you can share?

Eli: Um, the judge said we weren’t allowed to talk about it.

Elaine: Last week, my waitress at a restaurant told me she possessed the first boob I had ever signed.

Bryan: I think it would be what some of the young girls were yelling at the Paramount show when we opened for the Fray. It was being videotaped for some live footage in a music video, so I think everyone was in rare form in the first place. I can't repeat what they said, but I am pretty sure it is illegal in most of the 48 contiguous states!

CMB: What was a moment you wish you could forget (or at least not have printed in a publication)?

Eli: Well, that’s a silly question. If we told you, it would then be printed in this publication. So, take whatever we would’ve told you, edit out all the embarrassing parts, and print that!

Elaine: I really wish I could erase the memory of playing the New Mexico State Fair on my birthday a couple of years ago. I would also like to forget the fried Indian bread taco I consumed afterward.

Bryan: When we ridiculed the song, “Who let the Dogs Out” in a Rolling Stone article. Then, the following year we released the smash hit in Uzbekistan, “Who let the Cats Out.” It was an A-side single 45 release only in Uzbekistan, since the record label refused to put out the B-side “Firecracker (Gypsy Dance Remix),” which was a total failure to this day. I thought people would like to hear our hit mixed with accordion and finger chimes. Who would have known?

CMB: What moment do you consider to be the band’s “crowning achievement”?

Bryan: Probably playing Red Rocks three times. Fun place to play.

Elaine: We played an event for PeaceJam, in which we sort of shared the stage with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. That was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

Eli: We could go with the ego-stoking events, like winning Best Band in Colorado (Rocky Mountain News) or winning Westword’s Best Pop Band in Colorado two years in a row. Or performing live on national TV or meeting the Flaming Lips. But a personal highlight of mine was meeting the Dalai Lama. He was so freakin’ cool. Funny and genuine and he had an intangible greatness that you don’t see every day.

CMB: In the burgeoning Denver music scene, you must be a fan yourself. What local band/s do you throw your panties at?

Bryan: I only throw my T-backs to one band in this town and that band is the hardest working band in town.

Elaine: I always enjoy watching Everything Absent and Distorted, D.Biddle, Bad Weather California, Lion Sized, Magic Cyclops, Dressy Bessy, The Knew, and a million more I can't think of right now. I have always managed to keep my Underoos on, though.

Eli: Bad Weather California, Lion Sized, Houses, Young Coyotes, The Wheel, Paper Bird, Bella Karoli.

CMB: Do you have any advice for new or existing local bands?

Bryan: Have fun and pick your friends for playing music, not playing music to pick your friends.

Eli: First: have fun. It’s not trite. Having fun while doing this is a necessity for longevity and sanity. Second: Don’t be afraid to work hard. But realize that there’s a certain way to work hard at being in a band. Know that it’s not a competition between you and the trillion other bands out there. It’s about empowerment through music, connecting with other people through doing what you love, and contributing to a community that sustains and supports your passion. This means putting in what you expect to get out of it. The bottom line is if you commit to doing something real and meaningful, people will notice your band. And even if they don’t, you’ll feel awesome because you’ve done something real and meaningful.

Elaine: I don't think any bands would want advice from me. However, while I was in Hot IQs, I was always cognizant of my 5 Ps of Rock and Roll: Practice, Promotion, Perseverance, Party-Lite, and Panties (keep them on).

CMB: So, after all is said and done, what have you learned from your experiences?

Elaine: Most of my answers to these questions are probably really cliché, but the fact that you may only live once is one lesson I have learned from being in Hot IQs. Make certain you make time for what is really important to you and for what you are truly passionate about. You want be able to have good stories about your life to tell your grandchildren someday.

Eli: Mainly, that any crazy idea can work. Elaine and I had a crazy idea: start a band without knowing how to play instruments. We followed that crazy idea with passion and grit and it got us far beyond our wildest dreams. Granted, we’re not even remotely close to household names. Hell, most people in Denver have never heard of us. But, damn it, we learned our instruments, performed countless times all over the country, and were able to do something we just absolutely loved doing. Mostly, I’ve learned that even if you think your idea seems out of reach, you’ve got to try or else don’t complain about your situation.

Bryan: That carpet and gum don't mix, that three people living in a van for a month smells like a pack of Camels, and that there is no better way to see America than to tour in a band in a van with a couple of your best friends.

LIVE: June 19th / Bluebird Theater / 8 p.m., Farewell show with Bad Weather California and Foma