Rocking Out With The Dirty Pearls

The great rocker/poet Neil Young once offered "Hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die.” And he’s right. Rock hasn’t died after 50 years of rolling around and mayhem and scandal and death and reinvention. It still sells out stadiums with this year’s Rolling Stones and Aerosmith tours leading the way. There might be dozens of rock acts that can sell out a stadium, yet in the most financially successful nightclubs in town, rock is a not the go-to genre. House in the form of electronic dance music, and hip-hop often housed in open format or mash-up DJ sets, are far more common. Pop is king with Rihanna and Adele et. all getting requested more often than a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous. The DJs invariably comply.

A good friend who knows way more than I do about this sort of stuff says there are only two, maybe three, hip-hop artists that can sell out a stadium. Electronic dance music (EDM) has its superstars like Tiesto and Avicii and others who can sell out small European countries, but can just-now attract tens of thousands in the US of A to warm weather festivals and such. EDM is growing exponentially and is heard in all the ginormous Vegas clubs and big-buck NYC joints.

Rock – which is heard everywhere in movies, commercials, and hip boutiques, and fashion events – has few clubs that embrace it because the bottle- buying public is thought to reject it. The DJs say that rock is in their mixes, but it’s offered with a new beat a new remix that doesn’t scratch my itch. It is recognizable beneath the bells and whistles but often just as a sample played by someone who really doesn’t understand it. My rock is sleazier, harder, and meaningful. I find it at Electric Room, The Bowery Electric, Hotel Chantelle, and Lit Lounge whenever I can. Rock scenes sometimes seethe just under the surface of a city. Then all of a sudden there is a sound or a movement, and there’s suddenly a dozen or more great bands getting all sorts of attention. It has happened in Seattle, Portland, Austin, and Athens, Georgia, and in NYC a dozen times.

There is a scene bubbling up now and The Dirty Pearls are poising to break out. They have songs that sound like hits and work tirelessly to break out. Photographer Lela Edgar, who I tasked to shoot this image, spent a day rockin’ and rollin’ with them.  I caught up with Tommy London and Marty E of The Dirty Pearls.

The Dirty Pearls are making a mark. How do you get from where you are now …call it point A to point C, as in “C the money?”
Tommy London: When we started out, we hit the streets passing out flyers, CDs, and preaching the gospel of The Dirty Pearls. Of course we utilized the social networks like everyone else, but we felt that one-on-one meeting with people out and about was most important. The shows got bigger and bigger, from Arlene’s Grocery to Bowery Ballroom to Gramercy to Irving Plaza! It’s been an amazing climb. We then went for the ripple effect, playing everywhere we could outside the perimeter of NYC. Philly, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, etc…all making our mark with our show and songs. We even took a few trips to the West Coast to show them some NYC rock ‘n’ roll. I knew the buzz was getting really strong when national acts started asking us to open for them in and outside of NYC. Artists such as KISS, Jet, Filter, Bret Michaels, Third Eye Blind, New York Dolls, Andrew WK, and many others have requested The ‘Pearls to open the show!

But now our focus is to take this even bigger! We have been concentrating on playing a lot more regular shows outside of NYC, making high-profile venues, like The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, a new regular home base for The ‘Pearls. We’ve received a lot of great press on our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not" from a ton of major music magazine/blog sites, as well as airplay on local, satellite, and internet radio. Most recently we received an email from a radio station in Italy that has us on regular rotation and asked us to do giveaways since the fans kept calling in and requesting The Dirty Pearls. Last year, the now-defunct WRXP 101.9 here in NYC had us in rotation. They even broadcasted our live concert from Webster Hall during primetime radio hours. DMC (of Run-DMC) came and jammed "Walk This Way" with us on stage. We were the first unsigned band EVER in history to get a commercial-free half-hour to broadcast a live concert on the radio. It was truly a magical night.

And of course all these things lead to point C or as you put it "Point C The Money.” Most recently we’ve had our music featured in various television programs and on the new "Tap Tap" video game for the iPhone/Droid that is due to come out this October. We’ve also received a lot of major interest in our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” that we recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer David Kahne.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that leads and what heights it will take us to next.

What should people who don’t know you listen to first, and where is your sound going?
TL: You can hear a few of our songs on our website. But for first listen, I’d say check out "New York City Is A Drug". It represents everything we stand for, feel, and our #1 inspiration for music/lifestyle: New York City.

Marty E: I’d say to look no further than our album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” which you can get via our website…if you want a good sample of what you’ll get from that, check out our video for "Who’s Coming Back To Who" on YouTube.

As for where our sound is going, I’d say that we always strive for bigger hooks, bigger melodies, and bigger beats, while still keeping everything rocking and rolling.

Tell me about the NYC rock scene. Where do people find it…any secret spots?
ME: Well, if it’s a secret, why should we tell?

TL: We actually did this interview in a secret location! Shhhh!

ME: Seriously, there are very few places for rock ‘n’ rollers to hang out. We always go to St. Jerome’s, Three of Cups, Motor City Bar, Welcome to the Johnson’s, Manitoba’s, The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, and of course the big rock party on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle.

TL: I always say you don’t find the NYC rock scene…it finds you! But all the places Marty mentioned are the places to go to really connect with the right people you can vibe with. The rock scene in NYC is alive and well, more than ever actually. All the bands have come together and have their own sound/style but yet still blend together. It’s really a strong tight-knit community and we are really proud to be a part of it.  But when I say community I don’t just mean musicians; I mean just rock music lovers in general who love to talk, sing, dance, and party to good rock ‘n’ roll.

On stage you are rock stars… I saw you guys at the Gramercy…sold out, adoring fans. Is it 24/7 365, and when you make it will you change?
TL: Yeah, I have to admit we have the best fans. They come to the shows dressed in their Dirty Pearls swag and singing along to every song. It’s such an amazing feeling. Honestly, it’s the fans who make us feel/look like a rock star when we are up on stage. It’s such an amazing high when you give the energy and receive it right back from them. It’s the reason why we do it. As for us changing, I can’t see that ever happening. Our heads are in the clouds but our feet are always on the ground.

ME: I give rock ‘n’ roll 100 percent all the time… whether that makes me a "rock star,” I’m not sure, but I always hope to shine one way or another. I hope that I never change, unless it involves getting better.

You are a top NYC band…who else is likely to break out?
TL: There are so many bands on this scene who have the potential of breaking out. I don’t want to name any names because if I leave one out by mistake I’ll look like an asshole! But I truly believe that as soon as one band breaks through, the rest will funnel through as well. I think the whole scene kind of believes in that philosophy too. There’s a lot of support and love in the NYC rock scene. Friendly competition too, but that’s healthy and keeps you on your toes to always play your "A" game.

ME: What’s great about NYC rock ‘n’ roll is that everyone is doing their own thing and growing in their own ways. The whole point is perseverance and consistency. I’m proud of everything our band and our friends’ bands have accomplished.

How do you market yourselves?
ME: We pounded the pavement from day one, when we handed out fliers on the street, and it really worked. Lately, it’s been more about social networks, I think. Twitter has to be the best marketing tool I’ve ever seen yet. We’re always looking for new ways. Half the battle is getting the word out!

TL: Yeah, we would hit everywhere and just talk with people, give them info on the band and any gig we were playing. We put our stickers anywhere they would stick, and hang posters all around too. When we first started we felt that everyone relied on the internet to just plug, which we did too. But no one was really giving out flyers anymore because it was just easier to post online. We wanted people to go home and wake up the next day with a DP flyer in their pocket or on their dresser. That’s how we originally built the band. Marty and I would go out and pick spots in the scene and spots outside the scene to hit and preach about The ‘Pearls. It worked!

Unlike many bands, you guys have some really great songwriting. Tell me about the process.
TL: Thanks so much for the compliment. I always feel a band is only as good as their songs. I always said to the band, we aren’t the stars of the show…the songs are! As for the process, one of our guitar players (Tommy Mokas & Sunny Climbs) and I will get together, build a strong chorus, work melodies, hooks, and structure.

ME: Then we all roll it and pole it and kick the shit out of it and mark it with a D-P!

TL:‘Nuff Said!

Your new album, "Whether You Like It Or Not" was produced by Grammy Award- winning Producer David Kahne. How did that come about and tell us about the experience.
TL: Our manager had worked with David in the past and sent him our music. He heard the songs and loved them! He reached out and asked if we’d be interested in him producing our album and we were like uhhh…..YEA! I mean David has produced everyone from Sublime to The Strokes to Paul McCartney and more! It was an honor and privilege to work with him and be part of the roster of talent he has worked with. He really brought our songs to life, as well as made us better musicians and songwriters.

ME: Absolutely. Not only did David make us improve ourselves as musicians, but he also made us look at songs and music very differently, especially in terms of arrangements, hooks, melodies, and the way each component of the band contributes to the big machine. It is a very meticulous process, to say the least. I came out of the recording process a much more knowledgeable, well-rounded, and believe it or not, humbled musician.

What’s next for The Dirty Pearls?
ME: The Dirty Pearls are going to save rock n roll and take over the world! So keep checking our website for updates on shows and the latest news on The ‘Pearls!

Callin’ Oates, Bob Dialin’, and Phil Call-Ins: Easing Your Day With One Easy Phone Call

Last year, two cool dudes named Michael Selvidge and Reid Butler created what is possibly the best invention in the history of humans: a phone number you can call to hear songs by Hall & Oates. Using Twilio, the Callin’ Oates helpline went viral and soothed the ears of many who were having rough days, stressful nights, or just needed a quick sonic reminder that Hall & Oates could make any dire situation a little less upsetting. Today, on the one-year anniversary of Callin’ Oates, Twilio announces new songs on the Callin’ Oates helpline, as well as four new ways to ease your weary soul with the sounds of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Chicago, and Phil Collins.

From Twilio’s website

New: Bob Dialin’ (Bob Dylan Helpline) – +1 (615) DYLAN – 26
Did you forget how if feels to be on your own, with no direction home? Do you need shelter from the Bob Dylan-less storm? Don’t think twice, call Bob Dialin’ to hear your favorite Bob Dylan tunes.
Press #1 for “Like A Rolling Stone”
Press #2 for “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”
Press #3 for “Shelter From The Storm”
Press #4 for “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”

New: Diamond Rings (Neil Diamond Helpline) – +1 (424) 543 – NEIL
Hankering for some Neil? Play it now, play it now, play it now my baby… Here’s what Diamond Rings has to offer.
Press #1 for “Cracklin’ Rosie”
Press #2 for “Sweet Caroline”
Press #3 for “Crunchy Granola Suite”
Press #4 for “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”

New: Phil Call-ins (Phil Collins Helpline) – +1 (424) 888 – PHIL
Whether you need to hear that iconic drum fill on “In The Air Tonight” in a pinch, or just figure out what exactly Phil Collins is saying on “Sussudio,” you can count on Phil Call-ins.
Press #1 for “Easy Lover”
Press #2 for “Against All Odds”
Press #3 for “In The Air Tonight”
Press #4 for “Sussudio”

New: If You Ring Me Now (Chicago Helpline) – +1 (34724) 25 (or) 624
Saving If You Ring Me Now in your contacts is almost as good as having Peter Cetera’s cell number. Just give it a call to hear your favorite Chicago songs.
Press #1 for “25 or 6 to 4”
Press #2 for “Saturday In The Park”
Press #3 for “Old Days”
Press #4 for “Baby, What A Big Surprise”

Updated: Callin’ Oates (Hall and Oates Helpline) – (719)-26-OATES
Dial in to the hotline that started the whole viral sensation and let Hall & Oates take you away to a ‘70s to early ‘80s dreamland. With all new classics and even a B-side or two.
Press #1 for “When The Morning Comes”
Press #2 for “You Make My Dreams”
Press #3 for “Everytime You Go Away”
Press #4 for “Say It Isn’t So”
Press #5 for “Had I Known You Better Then”
Press #6 for “Adult Education”
Press #7 for “Out Of Touch”
Press #8 for “Go Solo”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hitting redial on that Chicago helpline for the rest of the day.

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“I Hate Music!” Says Michael Musto, Your Gay Grandpa

How many times have you heard some old person complain about what the kids are listening to these days? (Oh, yesterday, from me?) It’s a certainty, like death and taxes, that popular music will only cause the furrowed brows of the cool kids of yesteryear to become more creased, their now wrinkled hands forming into limp fists raised slightly in the air as the loose skin on those arms shake with a ferocity only matched by the senility so depressingly spouting from their typing fingers. Do not dare hush them! They have opinions, and they are always correct! Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Musto has something to say about the current state of pop music! 

The venerable Village Voice columnist is very upset today, because of Rihanna and Flo Rida and Ke$ha. And honey, he has lost his mind and control of his elipses:

The number-one slot on the chart generally goes to whoever gave the most free copies to concert-ticket buyers that week. The second week, they’re suddenly not even in the top 100. … Adele is happy. … Once you’ve heard the title of a Taylor Swift song, there’s no need to hear the actual song. … The "Piano in the Dark" sample in Flo Rida’s "I Cry" drives me cuckoo crazy. I keep wanting them to finish the phrase! … Someone please tell Rihanna it should be "shine brightly like a diamond." … Boybands are back. They’re like a case of crabs you just can’t get rid of. I really like their hair, though. … The musical repetition that started with all those Kesha songs is now in every single mix-mix-mix-mix-mix by every singer-singer-singer-singer. Stop-stop-stop-stop. … People who walk around listening to music are generally oblivious to everything else, not even aware that they’re endangering your life as they step into traffic in the middle of the street. Somehow they always come off scot-free as they glide through everyone else’s tragedies. They’re probably listening to Eminem.

Please, sir, tell me more!

Every song today happens to be "featuring" someone. Would the Beatles have had to give up their instrumental breaks to someone rapping about bitches and hos? 

Very good musical analysis, Mr. Musto! I had never ever considered the possibility of the Beatles singing about bitches and hos, much less the notion that Paul and John might step away from their microphones to give room to someone else to rap about bitches and hos. Very astute observation, pitting a band that has not released music since 1970 against, say, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Very smart! 

But hey, Michael Musto is hardly a music critic, and he knows it! Which is why he then begins to quote heavily from his music critic friend, who, similarly, is so angry about everything, especially Pitchfork:

"Pitchfork.com is an intentionally obscure website that reviews every indie record, rating them with a score from 1 to 100. It’s hard to get a score over 73. They create stars, like Melody Maker and NME did in England 20 years ago, and then they turn on them. As a result, your EP will sell 6,000 copies in Brooklyn, and then your full album will stiff. If you’re no longer new, you’re not as cool to them. They love bands they never heard of, and they love Neil Young, but everything in between is not good."

Anonymous Music Critic, you are so on-point! We’re on the cusp of 2013, after all, so it’s about time someone take a stance at those dastardly Pitchforks with their 100-point rating scale. And goddamn you, Brooklyn, for being so overpopulated by people who pay money for EPs! "White people," am I right? 

I mean, I get it: it’s hard to take your afternoon nap while listening to One Direction, and that only leaves you being cranky at dinnertime (which is 6PM, in case you forgot). 

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse Explore The Long and Winding Road in ‘Ramada Inn’

With all the ‘90s nostalgia pervading popular culture right now, it’s almost refreshing to see a piece of art—music, film, otherwise—that’s nostalgic for an earlier era, one that it is actually appropriate to be nostalgic about at this time. And nostalgia pervades the lyrical road movie that accompanies Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s new single, “Ramada Inn.” The song is classic Neil Young in sound and substance: distorted, dark guitars, distinctive harmonies and lyrics reflecting on a time and a love gone by.

The music video for the nearly 17-minute song complements the feel with stock footage of classic cars driving down winding country roads, Super 8 family home movies and brief segments of kaleidoscope screen-saver designs that feel out of place, but still work. Watch.

NBC News Accidentally Declares Neil Young Dead, Not Neil Armstrong

Whoopsies. Someone is getting spanked over at the NBC News right now. While publishing the news that astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away today at age 82, the headline writer accidentally wrote "Neil Young" had died. Fret not, Neil Young is alive and well and probably off getting stoned somewhere.

A bad error? Like Jeremy Lin’s "chink in the armor" bad? Yes … but it is not difficult to see how errors like this occur in a 24/7 news cycle when every outlet is competitively rushing to be the first one to report breaking news. (Whether they’re first to report right or wrong news is a different story altogether.) NBC News reported on Neil Armstrong’s death first, which is a feather in their cap.  Yet likely the urgency of breaking the story led the author of the piece/headline writer to click "post" too fast when another read-through would clearly have been a good idea.

My sympathy goes out to whichever poor working-on-a-Saturday-in-August soul is getting in trouble right now. Getting caught in a big whoppin’ mistake — and a screen grabbed big whoppin’ mistake, no less — is never fun for anyone.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse Have A Posse

Street artist, agent-provocateur, branding maven and André the Giant posse-leader Shepard Fairey has been painting cultural icons since the days of his "OBEY" sticker campaign, in the process becoming one himself. Now, he will once again lend his talents in collaboration with another great artist, Neil Young.

Fairey will be working with Young and Crazy Horse to create pieces of art inspired by their latest album, Americana, a series of classic American folk songs reimagined, including "Wayfarin’ Stranger," "Clementine" and "This Land Is Your Land." Although none of the art is available for viewing yet, Fairey described his interpretation of "God Save the Queen" (aka "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee") to the NYT: the Queen and Betsy Ross sew British and American flags, along with the words "God save the land of liberty."

This isn’t the first time Young and Fairey have met at the intersection of art and rock. Back in 2010, Fairey created a series of prints in Young’s likeness in collaboration with iconic photographer Henry Diltz as part of his "May Day" exhibition, a showcase of images of progressive cultural heroes which also included likenesses of Keith Haring, Woody Guthrie and Muhammad Ali. A portion of the proceeds for these works went to benefit the Bridge School.

The album drops June 5th, while Fairey’s works inspired by the album will be available for a one-off viewing event at the Perry Rubinstein Gallery in Los Angeles on June 1st. The first track off of Americana, a gritty blues remake of the traditional American tune "Oh, Susannah," was released earlier this month. Take a listen below:

Morning Links: Behind the Scenes of M.I.A.’s ‘Bad Girls,’ Neil Young Announces New Album

● In this new video, Vice takes us behind the scenes of M.I.A.’s crazy cool "Bad Girls" video. Please, kids, no "drifiting" in your parents’ cars. [ViceTumblr]

● Billed originially as a blockbuster, Disney says they are on track to loose some $200 million with John Carter. [Reuters]

● Neil Young and Crazy Horse have announced their first album in nearly ten years. Americana will be released on June 5th — just in time for Father’s Day! — and it will include rearrangements of classic American folk songs like "This Land Is Your Land" and "Clementine." [RS]

● Still not biting, Kristen Stewart says she "can’t wait" to see The Hunger Games movie. [E!]

● Rumor has it that the Jonas brothers have a development deal with E! and are currently filming a New York based "family reality show." [PageSix]

● Hot and proud, Sophia Verga insists during an interview with Esquire that "there is nothing slutty about a dental-floss bikini." Or, as she puts it: "You don’t even think about it." [Us]

Tavi Gevinson Sings Neil Young, Will Perform During NYFW

The ever-productive 15-year-old fashion phenom Tavi Gevinson, who also helms online must-read for teens, Rookie, is forging ahead in her quest for creative dominance and continuing to make adults feel like crap about their lack of accomplishments by adding even more to her already stellar resume: voice-over actress, singer, and one of the rare people Neil Young has given permission to sing “Heart of Gold."

Gevinson appears as the voice of a med student in Jonah D. Ansell’s short film Cadaver. Christopher Lloyd and Kathy Bates round out the cast.  You can hear her sing in the trailer below or check her out live during Fashion Week in New York at Andre Balazs’ new Standard East Village at 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 12. It’s sure to be a mad house of scenesters, fashion-types and pre-pubescent girls all trying to catch a glimpse of what she is wearing.