Archive for May, 2009

In this Episode, I feature music by Megaciph and Pastora, two excellent bands centered around NYC. I also interview Brooklyn musician Josh Weinstein.

All that and more in

Starving Artist Podcast Ep. 15


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Johnny interviews Matthew Barber about his new album Ghost Notes.
this podcast features music by matt simons, bruce lucy, mark bechtold and matthew barber
It also features the exclusive Starving Artists guide interview with Matthew regarding his
new album GHOST NOTES and his thoughts on the industry.
Topics also include play submission for International Brain Transplant committee.
my open bar, zombie news article.
All that and more in

Starving Artist’s Podcast Ep. 14

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By Tom Foster

CANNES, France (CNN) — A budding British director is enjoying success on a shoestring at Cannes with “Colin,” a new zombie feature that cost a scarcely believable $70 to make.
“Colin” director Marc Price who spent 18 months making the film, working nights at a private car hire firm.

Japanese distributors are currently in negotiations for the rights to the film and buzz around the no-budget zombie chiller has attracted interest from some major American distributors — all of which is a very nice surprise for the team behind “Colin.”

“We were almost fainting at the list of people who were coming [to the final market screening of the film],” said Helen Grace of Left Films who is helping the film’s director Marc Price publicize the film in Cannes. “Representatives from major American distributors — some of the Hollywood studios.”

“When we say it’s a low budget film, people presume a couple of hundred thousand [dollars]. People can’t figure out how it’s possible. What Marc’s achieved has left people astonished.”

It was by advertising for volunteer zombies on social networking site Facebook, borrowing make-up from Hollywood blockbusters and teaching himself how to produce special effects that thrifty director Price was able to make the film for less than the price of a zombie DVD box set.

“The approach was to say to people, ‘OK guys, we don’t have any money, so bring your own equipment,'” the the 30 year-old director told CNN.

With help from a makeshift band of friends and volunteers, Price shot and edited the feature — which ingeniously spins the zombie genre on it’s head by telling the story entirely from the zombie’s perspective — over a period of 18 months while working nights part-time as a booker for a taxi company.

Online social networking was an invaluable tool in both generating buzz and cheaply sourcing the undead: “We went on Facebook and MySpace and said ‘Who wants to be a zombie?'” Price told CNN. “We managed to get 50 brilliantly made up zombies and stuff them into a living room.”

In keeping with Price’s beg and borrow approach, most of the zombie make-up in the make-up artists’ cases was inherited from other movies. “One of our make-up people came off ‘X-Men 3,’ so we were having the same latex that was put on Wolverine,” he told CNN.

Price says he came up with the idea to make a no-budget film because he realized that he and his friends would never be able to scrape together enough money to make even a low-budget film.

“A couple of friends were round a few years ago watching Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ recalls Price. “And we were lamenting the fact that we could never make a zombie film — we wouldn’t be able to acquire a budget.”

“Then I just woke up before everyone else — I was probably a bit hungover — and I wondered if a zombie movie from a zombie’s perspective had been done before.”

The end result is “Colin,” a zombie film “with a heart,” Price says, shot using production values cribbed from endless re-watching of making-of featurettes and director’s commentaries from his personal DVD collection.

Zombie fan Web site zombiefriends.com called it “as original, compelling and thought provoking as [George] Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead,'” while horror magazine SCARS predicted it would “revolutionize zombie cinema.”

Price hopes that the film will generate enough interest to kick-start his career and allow him to make another film. “Hopefully we’ll be able to generate some interest and maybe try to get some kind of a budget for our next film — maybe a bigger budget, £100, I don’t know.”

Price’s cost-effective filmmaking may make him the envy of film executives sweating over whether their latest projects will break even, but even “Colin” may suffer at the market: “In a strange way it’s kind of counter-productive.” admits Price.

“Anyone involved in sales will say, ‘Oh, it cost [$70], well how much do you expect us to pay for that?’ but with the current economic climate it seems to be a great way to make movies.”

So, what exactly did Price spend the famous $70 on?

“We bought a crowbar and a couple of tapes, and I think we got some tea and coffee as well — not the expensive stuff either, the very basic kind,” Price told CNN. “Just to keep the zombies happy.”

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I always promised that I would never bring up politics on this website, but I finally have to make an exception. Just watch this and you’ll understand why.

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Last Wednesday, I got the opportunity to see singer-songwriter Matthew Barber perform live at Union Hall in Brooklyn. First, let’s start off with the venue. It’s intimate, low-lit and serves a great selection of microbrews (try the Coffee Stout!) at reasonable prices. They also have two full service, though non-regulation bocce ball courts in the center of their Edgar Allan Poe-esque parlor. Downstairs, a nice bar lets you know that you don’t have to trek up those stairs and navigate through a sea of hipsters again for a while.

The small space was packed with rabblers waiting for Matthew to take the stage. Ever the performer, he showed up a cool twenty minutes late. Matthew began the set with “Easily Bruised,” which set the tone for a mellow affair. Between songs, he apologized profusely for “getting incredibly lost in Brooklyn” and keeping the show from going on time. All grievances aside, the audience was captured by his agile ability with both guitar and harmonica on “Settle my Accounts with You,” his most “pop” oriented song on the new album. Talking to Matthew earlier in the day in an exclusive phone interview with S.A.G., this song is “about the idea of putting your past behind you, settling your accounts, getting square, getting even…moving on with a fresh start and a new hope…”

Trading in the piano for harmonica seemed incredibly suitable for the intimate venue, and he did it without a hitch. The show went on to highlight some of the new tracks on “Ghost Notes,” which was recently released in the U.S. in April 2009. Of the album, he told S.A.G. that

“It was a conscious decision to tone down the rock a little bit and make an album that people are gonna want to listen to over and over again…I wanted to write songs that could be appreciated in any decade. I’m partial to music from the sixties and seventies—classic singer song-writers. I wanted to do something in that tradition.”

I was reminded of that fact when Mr. Barber started playing “Sleep Please Come to Me” later in the set. Very few musicians have the ability to hold an audience captive for their allotted time slot. He does. Perhaps that’s because he is trying to bring us back to a day in age when people took time to take a record out of its sleeve, place it gently on the turntable and actually listen for a while.

In the interview, Mr. Barber also waxed poetic about getting into the industry that starving artists around the world want so badly (yet secretly) to be in. For him, a successful career in the music industry wasn’t the main priority. He started writing music as a teenager, but never thought of a career in music. After going to college, then grad-school, he moved to Toronto and started playing music around town.

“I played around town for a while, ended up getting hooked up with a manager…it kinda went from there. Once you start getting into the world of the music industry, it helps to have somebody representing you. I’ve never been great at self-promotion, and it’s kinda nice to have someone do that job for you so you can focus on the music. I’ve been pretty lucky having people that I trust taking care of that. Having said that though, if you have to get something done, you sometimes have to do it yourself.”

We also spoke about the post-radiohead music industry. Has it affected him?“The whole industry has been up in the air for the past few years, but it’s pointless to gripe about it because it’s impossible to go against the wave. Artists need to embrace it because the old model of the industry is crumbling and that’s probably a good thing. I don’t even have a contract with my label, so I can’t speak to that.” The coolest thing about the new model for music distribution for him is how wide his audience has become.

“[Because of the internet,] people from all over the world can access your music now. I get emails from people in Asia, Bulgaria—places where before they would never be able to hear my music. Even though they might not even actually be buying it, it’s cool that they can at least hear it. Before, you would have to be on a major label to do something like that.”

Though not a man of self-promotion, he still kept it real at the end of his set. “I do in fact have cds to sell you in the back.”

Ghost Notes was released April 14th 2009. You can read my full review of the album below. You can buy it HERE. Get “Easily Bruised” for free HERE.

Great show, hope he comes back soon.

Thanks to Matthew and Chris for doing this interview.

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I give it a B.

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This podcast features music from Utica Greens, Murdakkh, Steve Northeast, and Anatural
Starving Artist’s Podcast Ep. 13

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