Five Questions With Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson

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On July 3, Stevie Jackson, guitarist for everyone’s favorite Scottish musical feelings collective Belle & Sebastian, stepped out on his own to release his debut solo effort, (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson. The record, which features Jackson and a backing band made up of members of The Company, Trembling Bells, The Pastels, and The New Pornographers, features a dozen songs that show off what Jackson, who has worked with The Vaselines, Russian Red, Bill Wells Trio, and God Help The Girl, is capable of on his own. We caught up with him to find out what made him strike out solo, how Belle & Sebastian fans might react to this music, and what’s next for his solo career.

How is it you decided to make a solo album?
It started when Belle & Sebastian, the band I’m in, had done an album called The Life Pursuit in 2006. It had been going for about 10 years at that point, and after that record there was a feeling that we were going to leave it for a while. Not break up, but just do something else for a little while. So I just had time on my hands and I started to get involved in various things—there’s an artist called Nicola Atkinson and we started doing work together. And there were a couple of friends, Gary Thom and Roy Moller with whom I’d get together every week and just make music for fun. There were other various projects going on as well. That seemed to generate a few songs, and I decided to record them—there wasn’t a sense of trying to make a statement, it was just having a few sessions for a laugh. A lot of the record was recorded in 2009 or 2010. And then Belle & Sebastian started up again and I missed my window, but then I recorded more songs last year and that seemed to finish it.

Does having been in a prolific band make releasing a solo album easier or are you still nervous about putting out albums?
Being in the group might help because a few Belle & Sebastian fans might check it out. I don’t really feel nervous about it. To be honest, it sort of feels like it’s kind of in the past to a degree. Making records always feels a bit like that. Once it’s mastered and you’ve done the cover and all that, you’re already on to the next thing.

For people who are familiar with Belle & Sebastian but aren’t sure what to expect from your solo work, how would you describe this record?
There are a lot of story songs, to a degree. They’re about various things; there are a couple of songs about movie directors, there are a couple of songs that are maybe more biographical, but I don’t go in for those so much. The songs with directors are a classic example of something that’s almost an exercise. Whenever you work in a way that’s more abstract, your own personality comes out a bit anyway.

So that covers the lyrics. What about the music?
The actual sound of it is pop music, I guess. It was recorded a lot more rough and ready than a Belle & Sebastian record, the process was more like getting a few friends in a room and recording as I’m teaching them the songs. It’s not very polished. For me, Belle & Sebastian is the sound of Stuart’s voice. So this feels different, but I don’t know if an objective viewpoint would differ. It’s probably not a million miles away.

What’s next for you?
The next thing is probably just writing more songs. Again, the songs have been generated by doing projects. I wrote some music for… Have you heard of a band called the Hidden Cameras? There’s a girl named Maggie MacDonald and we wrote some music together for a play she wrote. That’s generated a few songs and I’ve been thinking about recording them. And we’re developing that a little bit, trying to get the play on again. I’ll also be doing some live shows as well, I’ve got a bunch of guys to play with so we’ll be doing that. 

A History of ‘Prometheus’ Trailers

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Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, an Aliens precursor, won’t be out until Friday, but anticipation is building—in no small part thanks to bits and pieces released on the web. Today’s tidbit is one of the most interesting of them all. A two-minute featurette has dropped explaining how the film’s namesake spaceship was designed.

Featuring interviews with production designers, the films writers and stars like Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender, the clip reveals not only the thinking behind the way the spaceship was designed, but also shows off some never-before-seen footage of the film.

This isn’t the first bit that Scott and his band of merry moviemaker have dropped for us, however. There was the first trailer, which dropped last year and got tongues wagging immediately about the still-far-off film.

There was the second, twice as long trailer that hit in March.

The international trailer also dropped in March.

And a series of featurettes and cast interviews has been trickling out slowly ever since, all adding up to what filmmakers surely hope is a huge, Avengers-style opening weekend. Considering what we’ve seen so far, it’s not at all impossible.

CBGB’s Regulars Talk Biopic Casting

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It was revealed earlier this week that a feature film about iconic Manhattan rock club CBGB’s is in the works, but more surprising than the fact that a movie about the legendary venue was in the works was the news that Alan Rickman—the actor a whole generation of filmgoers knows only as Professor Snape—would be playing CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal.

Whenever an actor is cast to play the role of a real person, it can cause some controversy. And when that real person is as beloved and revered as Kristal, things can get messy. So we decided to check in with some old-time CBGB’s regulars to see what they think of the casting – and how they might do things differently.

James Sliman (former Kristal employee and tour manager for The Dead Boys): “I’m not really that familiar with Alan Rickman’s work, but I’m sure he’ll do a fine job with a good script and the right director… Alan Rickman certainly has the right look for Hilly, but I have to say, I would probably have chosen Philip Seymour Hoffman for the role. I just saw him in Death of a Salesman on Broadway and I know he could actually become Hilly, in all aspects of Hilly’s personality. He also has that downtown New York thing about him. No matter who plays Hilly, I can’t wait to see the film.”

Bebe Buell (model, musician, former Playboy Playmate): "I think I would prefer to see John Mayer in the role, because he’s got Hilly’s height and majestic quality and I’m sure he could pull off Hilly’s baritone voice. He would be my first choice. What many people don’t know about Hilly is he was a great singer & guitar player, so there you go!”

Cheetah Chrome (The Dead Boys): "Wait a minute – the guy who played Snape, is going to be Hilly? The guy is older than [Stiv] Bators would be, is Hilly gonna be 70 through the whole movie? So is Daniel Radcliffe playing Stiv? Hell, get Johnny Depp to play me!”

Your Daily Guide to Trending Topics

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Every day there are some topics that are trending. Since many of them don’t make sense, we provide easy contextualization. Also, this way, you won’t actually have to know anything about anything.

Over at Google, the fifth trendingest thing of the day is “Lugar,” and it’s not about spitting phlegm balls. No, the story is about longtime Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar (heh), who was unseated after six terms Tuesday night by Tea Party-endorsed upstart Richard Mourdock. After losing his seat, 80-year-old Lugar released an epic rant about the state of partisanship and promptly tuned into Matlock.

Also on Google, after a strong and trendy showing yesterday, is John Travolta. The actor has now been accused by a second man of being a handsy gay; the second man said in his lawsuit that he has “substantial documentation and numerous witnesses regarding the substance of Travolta’s actions.” The lawsuit also alleges that Travolta has an eight-inch penis and unruly pubic hair, which is way more than we ever wanted to know.

Travolta’s also trending over at Yahoo!, but there’s serious news to be had as well: the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which added an amendment to the state’s constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, is a hot topic over on that site. Lest you think Yahoo! overly newsy, other trending topics include Brooke Shields (why was she walking with a cane?!), Christina Aguilera (the finale of The Voice was last night) and superstar Columbian prostitute Dania Suarez.

Even more inane is what’s getting #hashtags over at Twitter, including the very important #QuestionsIHateBeingAsked. Check out the highlights below.

Trending Questions 1

Trending Questions 2

Trending Question 3

Trending question 4

More ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ Footage Released

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How much of Wes Anderson’s forthcoming Moonrise Kingdom is going to be left for us to see once it hits theaters? A few weeks back, six clips, each introducing a character in the film, were released. And just last week, 20 minutes of b-roll from the film, complete with spoilers, hit the web.

But for those of us who want to learn as much as possible about the upcoming flick, a story about love between kid and featuring Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and an army of Anderson regulars, without ruining it, there wasn’t much hope. Until now.

/Film has posted a highly edited (like, 17 minutes were cut out) version of last week’s featurette footage, to give fans a peek behind the scenes of the movie, out May 16, without giving away any major plot points.

And even if the film’s twists and turns are revealed, seeing Frances McDormand run around screaming into that megaphone is going to be worth the price of admission. 

Linkage: Rick Backs Mitt, Beasties Speak, and the Return of CBGBs

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Last night, former Republican Presidential candidate (and Google problem extraordinaire) Rick Santorum emailed his supporters to let them know he’s endorsing Mitt Romney in the upcoming race to the White House. "Above all else, we both agree that President Obama must be defeated," Santorum wrote about his new crush Romney, who was until recently his bitter foe. [Politico]

The owners of the assets of infamous rock club CBGBs say they’re planning a festival in New York City for this summer, and that they hope to buy a Lower Manhattan building in which to open a new version of the venue. [NYT

Actor John Travolta is being sued by a masseur for an alleged series of unwanted sexual advances that took place during a massage and burger-eating session at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Reps for Travolta, who has long dealt with rumors about his sexuality, say he wasn’t even in town on the date in question. [TMZ

Surviving Beastie Boys Mike D and Ad-Rock have broken their silence surrounding the death of Adam Yauch. The rappers shared memories and photos of their recently deceased cohort Yauch on the band’s Facebook page, and wrote, “We should have tweeted and instagrammed every sad, happy and inspired thought, smile or tear by now. But honestly the last few days have just been a blur of deep emotions for our closest friend, band mate and really brother. I miss Adam so much.” [Facebook

EXCLUSIVE: New Songs By The Virgins

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New York’s The Virgins haven’t released an album since their 2008 self-titled debut, but the group is starting to kick around new tracks in advance of a new record rumored to be coming out this year.

On March 5, the group debuted “Flowers,” “Blue Rose Tattoo” and “Slave To You,” three as-yet unrecorded songs, at The Encore! Sessions at Le Baron, the Parisian import nightclub in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Presented by < FORWAR:D > and Absolut, the evening was captured on video and we’re giving you a first look at the new songs.

The band themselves were thrilled to try out new songs before they had the chance to lay them down in the studio. “It’s cool recording a live show especially when you haven’t made a record of the songs—so thanks to Encore Sessions for having us,” the group said to BlackBook in an exclusive statement

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Courtney Love Proclaims “Kurt-Free Zone” At Solo Art Show

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Is Courtney Love ready for yet another comeback? After a tumultuous few weeks, including revelations that Love has lost control of former husband Kurt Cobain’s image to her daughter thanks to an outstanding debt and now-retracted Twitter accusations that former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl was fiddling with that same daughter, there is a bit of silver lining appearing around Love’s dark cloud.

Not only did her band Hole reunite for the first time in eons with all of the members who played on the band’s last record, Celebrity Skin, for a quick set in Brooklyn recently, but this week a show of Love’s artwork—titled “And She’s Not Even Pretty”—has its debut at the Manhattan art gallery Fred Torres Collaborations.

The show, which features 45 original pieces by Love, is open through June 15 and, as she told The Huffington Post, it’s a “Kurt-free zone.”

"A lot of this collection is about one romance," Love said. "It’s embracing this thing in my life that haunted me.”

The News: Kim Dotcom on Piracy, ‘The Avengers’ Bonus Scenes

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Junior Seau, a linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, died of a gunshot wound to the chest in his home yesterday. Police are investigating whether or not his death was a suicide, which would make it an eerie reminder of the 2010 death of former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. [ESPN]

The original trailer for The Avengers, the money-minting superhero clusterfuck opening this weekend, premiered unceremoniously after the credits of Captain America: The First Avenger. Now rumor has it that not one but two bonus scenes will run after the credits of The Avengers on big screens across the country. [Movieline]

After being released from U.S. custody to return to his family, blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng now says that he and his family want to leave China—a move that we didn’t need sight to see coming. Needless to say, the Chinese government is not pleased. [IHT]

Want to know more about why you can’t download music or watch British TV shows easily anymore? Check out this epic profile of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom for an interesting take on what’s new in the world of piracy. [THR