Questions for

UB_TASJune 19, 2009 UPDATE:   Due to some issues with the audio file I’m re-posting this today in addition to the new The Ugly Beats pop quiz above.


Originally posted Monday, June 1, 2009.
The Ugly Beats are a local band that played SXSW this year.  They have a ’60s vibe going on, don’t take themselves too seriously, and have built a reputation around their live shows.  They’re currently working on their upcoming third release.
They have a couple of Austin shows coming up, too, at Beerland.
June 27, 2009  10PM
–July 12, 2009   8PM
Listen to “Take a Stand” from Take a Stand with The Ugly Beats.  Go to their MySpace Page for more.

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1. What is “The Ugly Beats sound?” And why “ugly?” A little folk, a little garage, a little rock and roll, a little 60’s punk…put some lovely harmonies, fuzz guitar, acetone organ, hollow bass, and monster drums into a blender and there you go.

Ugly ‘cuz we’re not spit-shined into American Idol perfection. It lowers people’s expectations and then they say, “Y’all ain’t that ugly”; it’s perfect.

 2. You participated in SXSW in March.  How do you think the experience is different for a local band vs. a national or international band? It’s a hell of a lot cheaper.  We get to use our own backline (for the most part), which makes a big difference having your true sound and not borrowed equipment.  We know where to get the best tacos.  It’s kind of like having a vacation in your hometown!

3. One woman, four men.  Not a new model for bands.  Describe how that dynamic plays out for The Ugly Beats. Jeanine is pretty much one of the guys.  The coversations in the van or airplane would peel paint.   It’s one big happy family, though.  Everyone gets along really well and stuff.

4. You get the chance to work with any producer (that you haven’t worked with before) of your choice to “interpret” The Ugly Beats sound.  Who would it be and why? Not sure since we’ve been happy with how things turn out thus far in recordings.  We are going into the studio this month [in April] and some in the summer so we can make a new record for GET HIP.  This time we want to capture the LIVE energy that make people have fun at the show….

5. Not sure how long you’ve been in Austin, but, is there something about the Austin music scene you find enriching? Why here instead of anywhere else? The music “scene” here tends to be pretty open and not cut-throat.  Everyone we hang out with is generous and friendly to others.  Not a lot of back-stabbing or drama.  When you do see a band who obviouslly doesn’t get this and it’s clear that they’re into it for silly reasons, we say fuck ’em.

It’s mostly postive here though — with different genres [that] aren’t afraid to put on shows together, though we have yet to be asked onto an Austin Symphony concert…Plus, there’s millions of bands, so we’ve made many friends across the board.  Feels like one giant family! 


Rod Thomas was one of  the SXSW Artists that we featured in a popolio pop quiz here and sxsw show pic-olio here.  Last month he announced a name change from Rod Thomas to Bright Light Bright Light.

Get a taste of the BLBL sound with “A New Word To Say” before reading our 10Q interview with the Artist Formerly Known as Rod Thomas about his new status quo.

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1. So, why the change of name from Rod Thomas to Bright Light Bright Light? The last year or so I’ve been working hard on my production skills and live set and it’s much more layered and textured, with some shimmering synth parts weaving between more organic sounds.  I DJ and remix a lot, too, so the name change reflects the more rounded nature I guess. 

I think if you have a “firstname” “surname” identity, people often presume you’re an acoustic act, which is not what I am.  Also having a pseudonym means you can have a bit more fun, too, with the detachment from your own personal life I think.

2.  Does this mean we have to refer to you as the Artist Formerly Known as Rod Thomas? YES.   (haha, no not at all!)

3. Is this partly because there’s already a Rob Thomas out there? For publishers/labels I suppose yes.  Especially stateside.  Everyone was aware of him in the UK, but in the US he’s a multi-million selling artist, so that’s a bit of a problem.  That’s not the reason for it, but it sidesteps it.

4. Since the name is a Gremlins reference, what other 80s movies do you love and why? I absolutely love Mannequin, Gremlins 1 & 2, Splash, The Breakfast Club, Back To The Future … God there are SO MANY amazingly nostalgic/well-soundtracked films from the 80s!  Such an era for an equal number of duds and TOTAL classics.

5. And if the reference is lost on folks is that okay?  Yeah of course.  It just came into my head straight away.   It’s not DELIBERATELY a reference of Gremlins as in that I wanted to connect my music to it, so there’s no requirement for people to notice it.

6. Does this mean there will be an 80s vibe to your [new] work? For certain songs maybe.  Like I worked on “A New Word To Say” and “Disco Moment” with Boom Bip who’s famed for 80s project Neon Neon, so there’s obviously some 80s references.  But, it spans 90s references.  There are some real campfire folk influences in the album and some disco/Motown strands weaved in, too.  But, I guess, yes, there are 80s vibes in terms of strong melodies/big beats.

7. Sonically, how is Bright Light Bright Light different from Rod Thomas?  In other ways?  I don’t think Bright Light Bright Light is intended as a severing point, but it’s definitely less soft than Rod Thomas, mainly for the reasons above. 

It allows me to be seen less as a vulnerable man on his own with his songs and more as a body of music, I guess.  A collection of sounds and ideas.  I guess “he’s” shinier, more intertextual, maybe more experimental.  Even though Rod Thomas was doing that, just nobody really paid attention 😉

8. Are there any remnants of Rod Thomas left?  Some people liked him and his sound.  He did have fans, you know.  Yes, a lot is left.  The live set incorporated a lot of Bright Light Bright Light. The name stems from the sounds I create live.  Plus material-wise, I still use “Your Love Is A Tease,” “You Get Goodbyes,” and “Debris” from the Rod Thomas catalogue.   I’m glad he had fans, I’ll let him know!

9. Well, the level of success of name changes in the music industry is debatable.  Please share your thoughts on the following —

 • Prince to The Artist/The Artist Formerly Known as Prince/that Symbol and back to Prince again Kind of ridiculous, but also very interesting.  The idea of not having a recognisable name is really something quite bizarre, but intriguing.  Especially as it suggests hearing the music without attributing it to a personalit while also suggesting a personality so large it doesn’t require a specific name.

• Puff Daddy to P. Diddy to Diddy Totally pointless.

10. What shiny and new things (couldn’t resist) can fans look forward to in the future? The future brings lots of exciting stuff.  I worked with Boom Bip on two tracks I’m so very happy with and I worked with a guy called Andy Chatterley (KanYe West/Pussycat Dolls/Underworld/Unkle) on a track.  I’ve been re-working the live set for a band and have 2 weeks in New York at the end of July/beginning of August.  I’ll be writing with my friend James Yuill, and gigging a lot as well as releasing the first bit of BLBL material, too.  So, very busy, but hopefully very fun!


PREPMODE DJing@Nordstrum

PREPMODE will be the DJ on the ones and twos for TONIGHT’S Summer Sizzle fashion show at Antone’s.  Remember, doors open at 8PM.  More info here.

Check out his answers to our 5 Questions below before checkin’ him out tonight.  Before that, listen to his Extended Dance Mix of “Hiroshima” and check out his MySpace Page for more.

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1. How did you get involved with Summer Sizzle? NCD Resources booked me.

2. Have you played a fashion show before? DJs seemed to get tapped a lot for fashion shows.  Why do think that is? Is there something more accessible about a DJ than an artist or band? Yeah, I’ve been doing runway shows for 8 years.  When you look at the major fashion designers throughout the world, they have been using DJs for their shows for years, I think many people just see it as a standard.  It’s almost more out-of-the-ordinary to have a live act play during a show.

3. The age -old discussion:  The connection between music and fashion.  What’s your take? Music and fashion constantly change and consistently influence each other.  Today’s world moves at an incredibly fast pace. The marriage of music and fashion defines what is relevant (culture-wise).

4. What is a must-wear item for a DJ during a set? Why? Headphones… the DJ can keep the mix on beat.  haha

5. Why is your name PREPMODE? Because a 1 word name is easy to remember.

(creative, yet self- explanatory name), Austin all-girl indie pop band, play the Summer Sizzle fashion show TONIGHT at Antone’s.  More info on Summer Sizzle here.

Get to know them a little bit in our 5 Questions for before getting to see them live tonight.   

Listen to “My Guest List” to get a taste of Tribella and check out their MySpace Page for more. 

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1.  How did you get tapped for Summer Sizzle? We imagine that someone, somewhere, thought it would be a good idea.  We are really looking forward to playing during the Sizzle.

2. Have you played a fashion show before?  If so, how is the energy different from a regular show?  If not, how do you anticipate the energy will be different? This will be Tribella’s first fashion show.  We expect that because people will be exposed to different art forms, it will elicit a broader interpretation of art and a more universal energy.

 3.  Why do you think that historically there’s such synergy between music and fashion? One aspect of music is the live performance and performers have frequently been given more leeway by society to push the envelope when it comes to clothing, hair, behavior, etc. 

Musicians have to create their own brand based on their music, a particular fashion style, and an attitude.  Music and fashion go hand-in-hand.

4. How would you describe Tribella’s personal style? Sexy/Urban/Femme/Quirky.  Rock ‘N’ Roll with a friendly edge.
5. What will your particular brand of music bring to Summer Sizzle in
 terms of atmosphere, tone, and mood? Our music should provide a fun, energetic, intense, and sincere endcap to the evening.

GAT5Charles Ferraro is one-half of GAT5, a unique Austin arts collective, that he founded with his brother, James Ferraro, in 2003.  They’re kicking off the GAT5 textiles branch of their operation with Summer Sizzle tomorrow night at 8PM.

It’s a fashion show at Antone’s that features local fashions to the music of local girl band, Tribella, and Austin DJ, PREPMODE.  (5 Questions for with both artists will post tomorrow in anticipation of the event later on in the evening.  So, check back for those interviews and  to listen to songs from each to get a taste of what’s to come!)

More 411 on GAT5 here.                            
More 411 on Summer Sizzle here

We now continue with our regularly scheduled program of 5Q&A for GAT5.

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1. What is GAT5 textiles?  Talk about the umbrella of GAT5 industries and how GAT5 textiles fits into it. GAT5 is a name I use for various creative endeavors.  It is an ongoing visual arts collaboration with my brother James, a Chicago-based illustrator and sculptor. 

It is a production company specializing in the production of interdisciplinary art events and, now, GAT5 textiles is a line of t-shirts.  Shepard Fairey and Obey inspired textiles in large part.  Fairey, amongst other contemporary artists, have embraced Tees as a legitimate way of offering an affordable and accessible version of their art and designs to a larger audience. 


Tuba T

2. Tell us about Summer Sizzle.  Has it happened before?  What are you trying to achieve with this event?  GAT5 has produced many events in a similar vain.  The ultimate goal is simply to showcase talented members of Austin’s creative class and, hopefully, give them exposure to a new audience. 

3. This is a music blog, so what’s your take on the connection between music and fashion?  And which one, do you think, comes first and why? There is a strong connection between the two.  Rock ‘N’ Roll has always had a significant visual and style component.  From the stage show to magazine spreads to album art, it creates an obvious union.   As far as which comes first, I’m not sure if it’s the captain hat or the yacht rock.

4. Speaking of music, local all-girl band, Tribella, and DJ, PREPMODE, are providing the music for Summer Sizzle.  Why were they chosen to be part of this event?  They’re both great acts with some edge and an all-girl rock band seemed to be a perfect fit for a fashion event.

5. Why should folks attend Summer Sizzle? Great clothing, pretty people, an all-girl rock band, cool DJs, live screen printing, legendary local live music venue, cheap drinks….

May 22, 2009 UPDATE:   Great news!  Mr. Portman has decided to extend Contest #1 to All High Score Winners throughout the day next Tuesday.

Originally posted on May 21, 2009.

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So, it’s Part 2 of our 20 Questions with Michael Portman of Birds Barbershop.  We have an exclusive announcement that you’re “hearing” at popolio first.

Before that, I want to drop a little knowledge and school you on the locations.  There are four.  Check the official site here.

–first born at 2110 South Lamar
–middle child at 6800 Burnet Road 
–third kid at 1107 East 6th Street 
–kid sister at 1902 South Congress Avenue

So, without further ado, in celebration of the third kid (East 6th Street location), Birds Barbershop is kicking off  a weekly summer show ticket giveaway christened the Birds East Concert Series starting NEXT WEEK.  Get  more details in the Q&A below.

WAIT, though, before you read further.  We have not 1, but 2 tie-in popolio/Birds Barbershop giveaway contests.*

CONTEST #1:  Remember Michael’s Joust High Score mentioned in Part 1?  Now, there’s a new video game machine, Space Invaders mini, in there, too.  The High Scores have been reset. 


Old School is New School.

So, here it is — the first three people to beat the High Score on either machine next Tuesday, May 26, 2009, during business hours (9 to 9) will get a free haircut.  No purchase necessary.  One day only.  One play per person.  Input your initials for the High Score and show the receptionist your driver’s license to prove it’s you.

CONTEST #2:  The first person who emails me the correct answers to the following 3 questions will get a 3-pack of free haircuts good for guy cuts and/or ladybirds (over $100 value!).  This contest will run for 1 week.  If I get no correct answers by the deadline the contest expires.  The questions are:

1. Where were the first barbershops located?
2. What service were barber poles associated with?
3. What was the first native tribe that Europeans saw sporting mohawks? (Editor’s Note:  It wasn’t the Mohawks.)

 Email the answers to popolio[dot]com[at]gmail[dot]com by noon next Thursday, May 21, 2009.  Photos courtesy of Michael Portman/Birds Barbershop.

* * *

11.  Tell us about the Birds East Concert Series? Starting next week, anyone who gets his or her hair cut at our East 6th store can enter to win two tickets to a show of the week.  Transmission Entertainment, who books the Mohawk and Club de Ville, among others, is providing the tickets for most of the shows, although there will be the occasional show we feel is must-see thrown in for other venues (like Santigold at Stubb’s, apparently she changed her name from Santo to Santi btw for some legal reason).  Basically, we’re giving our East 6th customers a chance to see every show this summer we wouldn’t want to miss.

12. What brought this on? Booking our own shows is something we do on occasion, but it isn’t feasible to do every week for a whole summer.  We’ve developed a really good relationship with Transmission Entertainment over the last couple of years sponsoring some of their shows (Yelle and Riverboat Gamblers last year).  When we approached them about it, they were all for it.  Our east side customer is very much their customer.  Looking good and rocking out for cheap is what it’s all about.

13. When does it start?  How long will it go for? Here is the first round of dates.  We will add more as they get booked.

May 29th — Juan MacLean @Mohawk
June 2nd — Black Moth Super Rainbow with School of Seven Bells @Mohawk
June 5th — Bonnie Prince Billy with Neil Haggerty @Mohawk
June 13th  — Doug Stanhope Comedy Tour @Red 7
June 15th  — Santigold @Stubb’s
June 19th — St. Vincent with Pattern is Movement @Mohawk
June 25th — 2 Live Crew @Mohawk (this will be a 4-ticket promo for your whole “crew” vs. just 2)

14.  What artists and venues can people look forward to? See above.

15. Why was the Santigold show the first show booked for the promotion (before the earlier shows were added)?  It was the first show we saw as unmissable for the summer.


Kid's so cute we had to post it twice. And Michael didn't give us another pic. 🙂

16. How do you win tickets? Get your hair cut at Birds on East 6th (1107 E. 6th, across the street from Shangri-la).  We’ll draw each winner 5 days before the show.

17.  If this is successful, do you see yourself doing similar things in the not too distant future? We would love nothing more than to give away tickets to shows all the time.  We’re always cooking up different ways to be involved with our local music scene, including cutting hair at Fun Fun Fun Fest, which we’ll be doing again this year.

18.  What do you hope this achieves for Birds Barbershop? We hope it makes our customers happy and keeps us better connected to our community.  Music is what our community is all about, and we see the local barbershop as being a hub for that community.  Just like it was in our grandfathers’ day.

19. If someone doesn’t win, but still wants to go to one of these shows where can they purchase tickets? will get them where they need to be.

20.  If there’s one take-away or clue about this promotion and/or how best to win tickets what would it be? Get your hair cut every week!


B is for Bad-Ass.

*GIVEAWAYS DISCLAIMER:  Further details regarding pick-up and/or delivery of prize(s), claim deadlines, etc. will be provided to winners.  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Purchase will not improve chances of winning.  Open to residents of Austin and nearby municipalities.  Employees of Birds Barbershop and and their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising, promotion and internet agencies and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible.


photo by Jae Ruberto

Black Moth Super Rainbow recently bulletined on their MySpace Page that they got KanYe West’s blessing on his blog here.  Now, I don’t know if this means they’ve “arrived” (whatever that means).  But, it definitely means people are listening.  And, the number of BMSR listeners seems to be gaining momentum. 

Matter of fact, they will be hitting Austin on Tuesday, June 2, 2009, to play The Mohawk at 8PM as part of their tour in support of Eating Us (which hits stores next Tuesday). 

And, in what seems to be some synchronicity, you can try to win tickets to that show in  the Birds East Concert Series giveaway for Birds Barbershop that we had the privelege of announcing yesterday.  Scroll up to 20 Questions for Michael Portman [Birds Barbershop] Part 2 — Austin to get the details for that giveaway and for 2 additional contest giveaway opportunities or click here.

BMSR have there own contest running in select indie record stores (Good Records in Dallas is included;  last month Mandrake FM covered their 9th Birthday Bash  here).  Get more details on the Black Moth Super Rainbow In-Store Stands & Hairy CD Contest here


 Download the born_on_a_day_the_sun_didn’t_rise  MP3 from Eating Us and read our Q&A with Tobacco of BMSR.

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1. For those who don’t know, what’s the Black Moth Super Rainbow experience on record? And on stage? On record, it’s usually one uncomfortable person making lots of mistakes and on stage, it’s 5 or 6.   These days you can smell or touch our records and, hopefully, see some video you haven’t seen before at the shows. 

2. How is the new release, Eating Us, different from the previous, Dandelion Gum? It was a new approach.  Instead of just me doing it pretty much by myself, I did that, and then brought the almost finished record to Fridmann to redo parts and take care of the final mixing.  Mainly, you notice it in the way the drums were recorded and the overall width of the sound.  So, it’s hi-fi as opposed to mid-fi or lo-fi or whatever it usually is considered. 

3. Why do you think you’ve struck such a chord with music fans and gained such a following? I think the 30 – 40 fans I have like my legs.  I’ve been doing a lot more jogging lately and that’s reflected in the new fans coming on. 

4. I notice the accompanying booklet contains 16 pages of art and your previous album had interesting cover art as well.  Why is (booklet) art like this important to the overall Black Moth Super Rainbow aesthetic, musically and otherwise? I feel like bands who aren’t completely involved in their art only have half a vision.   To me, the pictures sometimes can define what the music will sound like.  Most of the CDs that I held onto from when I was first getting into music are the ones with the best art.

5. Outside of being from “deep in the woods of western Pennsylvania” and an “[above-the-trees] organic aural concoction,” what is (a) Black Moth Super Rainbow? Mistake after mistake coming together to get lucky.  That organic aural concoction quote sounds ridiculous.  It’s really meant to be whatever the listener wants it to be. 

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