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Vow of Volition Make the Final Round of the Battle for Warped Tour

The Vans Warped Tour was the first festival for many of us back in the day. As young'ns, it's likely we didn't necessarily think about all that went into figuring out the bands to book and play the whole shebang. Part of that process, at least locally, seems to be through a series "battle of the bands" style competitions specifically for landing a spot on the fest. Quite a few Portland bands have been furiously playing against one another for said spot, and djent/prog metal act Vow of Volition are one of the acts that made it to the finals.

Warped Tour was always the type of festival that included much in the realm of pop punk, punk punk, emo and metal, so Vow of Volition's advancement to the final round is no surprise. Their incredibly technical, at times jazzy metal stands out in Portland's pretty linear popular music scene, and is much worthy of the attention its getting.

Those that want to support Vow of Volition in driving home the permanent spot can go to the Battle for Warped Tour finals Saturday at the Hawthorne Theatre.

   

Edith Pop turns the lights on in "Tokyo" reinvention

With her penchant for dark-hued chanteuse pop torchery, glammy haute couture makeovery, and primitive protozoan punk rockery, I’d find it believable if you told me that Edith Pop was birthed from a test tube combining strands of DNA stored over the years from Edith Piaf, Edith Head, and Iggy Pop (yes, the latter is technically still alive, but clearly his DNA was donated to rock ’n’ roll science long ago and replaced by strands of barbed wire) thus inspiring the stage name of Edith “Edith” Pop.

Or not. But I’m sticking with my theory given how Edith Pop combines the theatricality and musical properties of pop, glam, and punk in her musical persona—not to mention borrowing Iggy Pop’s famous incorporation of foodstuffs on stage (I recently witnessed Ms. Pop prepare a steaming pot of vegetable soup at a live show, chopping the vegetables, boiling them in a hot pot, and ladling out the product to her audience all the while performing songs on stage.





Then again it’s easy to make such wild conjectures given how Edith Pop has deliberately erased much of her digital history outside a few recent musical collaborations (more info below) and a few older scraps left behind from when “Edith Pop” was a band (more info below) all culminating in the Sneaker-Pimps-meets-Shirley-Manson musical renewal of “Tokyo” (a song about losing oneself, and reinventing oneself, in a hotel room/womb far away). But hey luckily I scored a phone interview with our leading lady. So keep reading to get the inside scoop from the artist herself right after the DELI exclusive video below—a Cindy Sherman-esque photo montage capturing the Many Moods of Ms. Pop...........

 

On her musical roots and the invention of the Edith Pop persona:

EP: Music saved my life and helped shape my entire personality, starting with my dad who was a musician. And then when I got into punk rock I finally found something that spoke to my anger and dissatisfaction with suburban experience growing up upstate. That’s what moved me and made me want to make music of my own which I did in a hardcore band called Pandha Pirahna.

Then I got really into glam music—classic stuff like T.Rex and the New York Dolls, the music plus the decadence and excess and theatricality that was part of the genre. A lot of the Edith Pop alter-ego came out of that—but in the guise of a debaucherous, excess-driven teenage girl. Someone obsessed with themselves and consuming everything from media to drugs to boys. 

On the unmaking and remaking of Edith Pop:

EP: At first “Edith Pop” was this personality where I could express myself in new ways and go to places I couldn’t or wouldn’t before in my music and live shows. (editor's note: live shows described in one previous press profile as “cathartic” musical exorcisms of a “teenage alter ego” in which Edith could be found “seduc[ing] her audience by sprawling on the floor, mounting the mic pole, and other such provocations.”) I started a band, also called Edith Pop, with my best friend who was already on the indie scene, and we developed a following and got some press. The turning point was when I sold a song to Steve Madden. At that point it’d all gotten wrapped up in this corporate-driven brand-driven influencer thing, and I lost track of the art in it and the whole reason I wanted to make music in the first place.

This persona I’d created was kind of destroying my personal relationships. It all shifted—I realized it was out of control. When I first started making music, things weren’t so brand and influencer driven. When you’re pushed to put out content all the time, and to be networking all the time, it keeps you from making a meaningful connection to your art or to the people around you. I got fed up and took everything I’d created offline and out of circulation. (editor’s note: This is a great summation of the social media age: the conflict of content vs. art; online networking vs. IRL connection. Plus it sounds like Edith Pop has a good episode of Behind the Music in the works that is if the show still existed and were updated for the Internet Age.)  

On creating Edith Pop 2.0 and “Tokyo”:

EP: I finally realized this project could be anything I wanted it to be. Like David Bowie, I could remake Edith Pop at whim. Like if I wanna make a nearly hour long experimental track that’s based around an episode of Magic’s Greatest Secrets, because I’ve been binging the show on Netflix, that lines up with the episode perfectly as an alternative soundtrack, I’ll do it.

With “Tokyo” I had this mental image of being in a big, tinted-glass hotel room way up in the sky. In a sleek, clean, hyperreal space, dreaming about video games at night. The song itself was birthed all at once and unexpectedly. It started when I met this guy at a party in LA, and we connected immediately as fellow New Yorker. His name’s J. Randy and once we got to talking music he said “I’m at this great studio right now, you should come through. I’m gonna lay down a track with my friend Dae One who’s a producer who’s worked with some well-known names in hip hop.”

I went to the studio and it was all tied to something called the M.O.B. Collective which stands for Music Over Business so that’s perfect. Their mission is to bring together emerging artists with established artists. I went into this beautiful studio and immediately started working on the track, and it all came together from scratch in just a couple hours, and it perfectly captures the mental image I had in mind.

On working with producer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Meviu§ and on the future:

EP: The other few tracks I’ve got available to the public right now are collaborations with Meviu§. (editor’s note: previously profiled in The DELI!) They’re all on Spotify. I got to know Daniel (aka Meviu§) when he was tour manager for another band I was in called A Place Both Wonderful and Strange. He’s really open-minded and creative, and he eventually started playing with us and did a remix of one of our songs. So when we stopped playing live we decided to start making tracks together and our collaboration grew from there. We have a song coming out soon called “Ghost (remix)” which is a remix of a song where the original’s never been released!

EP: I’m going to keep remixing Edith Pop. Literally. It’s a new phase. Edith Pop is like a character that now exists outside of a specific time who rejects modernity. She lives outside set timelines or set expectations, even my own. (Jason Lee)

   

The Exorzist III cast out the demon of holiday malaise with new EP

With the “Holiday Seasonal Affective Disorder Season” now officially upon us no doubt you’ll be needing some down ’n’ dirty ear-shattering brain-pounding skull-scraping consciousness-obliterating rock ’n’ roll to help purge the memory of your Alcoholic Uncle trying to convert you to QAnon and to help with digesting all that leftover cold turkey. But without going cold turkey of course because you’ll wanna down a couple belts of single-barrel bourbon before cranking up Gospel Jamming vol. 1, which is the new rekkid by the avant-punk-freejazz-skronk-jam-band-minus-the-noodle-dancing-power-trio known as The Exorzist III, a rekkid that’ll stuff your skull full of a pulverizing wall of sound that’ll block the ability to mentally process anything other than the glorious cacophony entering your earholes. (just scroll over the graphic directly below to listen).

The Exorzist III is a power trio in its purest form that dispenses with unnecessary frivolities such as having a singer, focusing instead on rhythmically-and-sonically-intense explorations like the 15-minute opening track "Jabber" with its layers of ever-shifting polyrhythms and heavily fuzzed out bass (Von Finger) and alternately-plinky-and-oceanic electric guitar (Drew St. Ivany) all anchored to a triple-time ostinato until it finally climaxes with an all-out tsunami of sound that sees drummer Nick Ferrante riding the crash cymbal like John Bonham suffering from a panic attack and it’s maybe something like the music John Coltrane would've made if he’d lived and continued down the path of Interstellar Space but traded his sax for an ax and switched over to playing heavy metal sometime in the '70s and after all Trane was raised on gospel music so maybe that accounts for the EP’s title.

And then…it just ends. A pattern that holds true for all four songs on Gospel Jamming vol. 1 because clearly The Exorzist III can't be bothered to write actual endings and no doubt fadeouts are far too gauche so instead they just stop playing whenever they damn well feel like it including on the final track “EVK” which simply lifts the needle off the record and not even on a downbeat. Harsh! It’s somewhat equivalent to a horror movie “jump scare” or maybe more like its polar opposite, but jarring either way, which is maybe how they came up with the name The Exorzist III (besides the power trio factor natch) which savvy readers may notice is only one letter removed from The Exorcist III (1990, dir. William Peter Blatty) a movie that some say has the greatest jump scare in horror history (my vote is for the ending of Carrie but it’s a close call) not to mention the movie features both Fabio and Patrick Ewing in cameo roles playing angels (!) so why it’s not taught in film schools alongside Citizen Kane I can’t explain. 

There’s a certain horror soundtrack aesthetic at work elsewhere on the record too. Like on “Coffer” which starts off with a short looped segment of suspense-type music before adding a high-BPM-hardcore-punk beat with the ominous loop still going on underneath and then adding a dissonant guitar that sounds like rusted car pistons grinding metal-on-metal and a throbbing plodding baseline and it's like the music you'd expect to hear if you were being being chased by The Tall Man from the Phantasm movie series about a creepy elderly mortician who torments his victims with a custom-designed oversized pachinko ball that flies through the air chasing you down long empty corridors until it catches up to your ass and these little blades or drills or circular saws pop out and thrust right into your forehead or eye socket or lower back for chrissakes which is a pretty impressively random way to kill a person so give The Tall Man credit for never doing things the easy way and neither does The Exorzist III and oh yeah he’s the guy on the cover of Gospel Jamming vol. 1 so that’s pretty cool. (Jason Lee)

   

King of Nowhere go somewhere beautiful with "Real Men"

The song "Real Men" is a powerful coming out narrative that also serves as a sneak peak of King of Nowhere's upcoming album (King of Nowhere) to be released in January 2022. You can listen to the song directly below, just scroll over the graphic, Bandcamp embeds are sneaky that way! Note: their three previous full-to-fullish length records are embedded throughout the rest of this piece, in reverse order of date-of-release, to help you get boned up on King of Nowhere's past repertoire.

"Real Men" opens with a hushed tone and vivid imagery ("remember we were twelve / covered in mud, hopping downed trees") further intensified by the trappings of youth and fragility on display ("I teared up in my room, under blue curtains / with cartoon bugs on them") intensified further by the fear and confusion indirectly incited by the mud-covered childhood friend’s affection for our narrator who "hadn't learned just yet to recognize that kind of smile" even with his friend wearing a t-shirt with the printed slogan "real men wear pink" and all (to be fair, reading social cues isn’t the forte of most 12-year-olds) and if only we were all so lucky to have a precocious gender-norms-and-other-norms-questioning friend at such an impressionable age the world would probably be a better place.

But in "Real Men," composed by King of Nowhere's singer-songwriter-guitairst-producer Jesse French, the protagonist does have such a friend, and it seems to lead to an awakening, even if it didn’t take hold right in the moment because, in a tone tinged with regret, the lyrics describe how the song's 12-year-old-self reacted: "I said ‘it would suck to be gay’ and / welcome to the USA." At this point Jesse's voice falters and practically folds in on itself, with the music following suit, reduced to near total silence. But then, catharsis...



Up to this point the rhythm section of Dylan LaPointe and Vicente Hansen Atria (on bass and drums, respectively, and let's not forget the second guitarist known only as "Porter") have pushed the song along with a writing-in-my-journal-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-a-flashlight-under-the-covers kind of vibe, with only a slight build in the first chorus to match the shift in perspective to the present day ("I'm sorry I never stood up and told you that you / you were as strong and bright as / I never wanted to be") but it's not until we reach the point where the song bottoms out as described above that it finds the courage to open itself up, and yes I'm describing recorded music as a sentient being and why not, jumping from a whisper to a lighter-waving guitar solo and a final-pent-up-emotional-dam-burst of a chorus, declaring "I'm sorry I never called you up and told you that you / you are an inspiration [...] I am so proud you made it / can't wait to open up like" at which point the song suddenly cuts off--which could be meant to indicate that the future is unwritten, and that the process of "opening up" is ongoing. (or maybe that the band ran out of tape. does anyone still record on tape?)

Final Thoughts: Maybe I'm reading into things here (hey that's what I barely get paid to do!) but one thing I think this song is telling us is that for our "reality" to change we first have to change some of our notions of what's deemed "real" in the first place (e.g. what is a "real man"?) and heck, even if you ignore the lyrics entirely "Real Men" may shake up your reality because between its tender, aching music and equally tender, aching vocals, and its butterfly-emerging-from-its-chrysalis climax, you're likely to find yourself all teary-eyed and gently sobbing under the duvet by the time it's all over. Unless you’re too hung up on masculine archetypes to allow yourself a good cry, that is. (Jason Lee)