Dhani Harrison on thenewno2’s New Album, ‘thefearofmissingout’

“How many people these days would get to make seven albums before they made Dark Side of the Moon?” the musician Dhani Harrison, 33, asks by phone from his London studio, referring to the Pink Floyd album that spent 741 weeks on the charts. The point the young Harrison––son of George––is making is that a reign of terror is being perpetrated by our buzz-hungry culture. “Everything has to be amazing before it comes out and it’s so amazing that everybody hates it and then by the time it comes out, we are already over it,” he continues. “That’s not a music career, that’s just a
 TV commercial.”

Not that Harrison has been
wanting for accolades. His band—a
 collective called thenewno2—released a debut album in 2009 called You Are Here, which drew widespread accolades. But, he says, “you have to build fans. You have to focus on your trade and learn how to integrate with other musicians.”

Harrison has done just that on the new album, thefearofmissingout, which features cameos by Wu Tang’s RZA and Black Knights, Ben Harper, Holly Marilyn, and the Icelandic singer Thorunn Magnusdottir. Firmly rooted in psychedelia, the album blends ballads, synths, and a dubstep vibe that shock and quickly woo the senses. The album’s titular fear (FOMO) is one that, according to Harrison, plagues his generation. “It’s because of the nature of online communities and technologies and global communities becoming so much smaller. Facebook, for example, should be called FOMObook. You just go on there and see pictures of people being like ‘I am up on a mountain’ or ‘I’m on holiday.’ It’s that classic old Bob Dylan line, ‘Look at my skin shine. Look at my skin glow.’ You aren’t even sure if these people have any insides.”

While the thenewno2 was shopping demos for the first album, Harrison was perplexed that record companies wanted to own their music. “We had a studio so we didn’t need record companies to pay for us to make a record, so why should they own it?” he asks. “Why should I sign a deal where they own my music when everything is sitting here in my house?”

Despite his industry connections, it was time to go independent. “I know a million people in the record industry in very high-powered positions and they can’t help me in any way,” says Harrison. “They are all great friends, but we are all on our own.”

Third Time’s a Charm for San Diego Rockers Crocodiles

San Diego-based Crocodiles, a band named after an Echo and the Bunnymen song, have been chugging along the blog circuit for some time now. In 2008, their very first song ever, a distortion-heavy jam called “Neon Jesus,” was hailed as “one of the best new tunes of the year” by the L.A. music blog No Age. But when their album was released in 2009 without the track, The New York Times rightly criticized Crocodiles as shortsighted. “The first record came out of a particularly frustrating time,” says singer Brandon Welchez, 30. “I think some of that frustration kind of came through.” Though their follow-up, Sleep Forever, was well received, it’s their third, Endless Flowers, which is poised to catapult them into sunnier days.

“[Endless Flowers] isn’t really dominated by any one thing,” he continues, “so there are some songs where the subject matter is death and some songs where the subject matter is lighter.” One of the lighter matters is a love song for Welchez’s wife––Dee Dee, of fellow noise pop band Dum Dum Girls ––called “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee.” Welchez croons à la Ian Curtis, “No more deathbeds raining on you / No more black clouds hanging around.”

Endless Flowers was recorded in Berlin, and Welchez says, “It was inspiring being here because it’s a really cheap place––there’s a lot of artists that live here and a lot of strange kooky characters. It also has some really seedy parts to it so it appeals to us as artists.”

As he spoke by phone from the gritty city, he paused mid-sentence. “Sorry, this naked guy just walked by.” Sin and seediness seem to appeal most to these rebellious rockers, who claimed to have gone on a bender with Mark E. Smith from classic U.K. punk band The Fall while on tour in Manchester. After Smith took them to his favorite sci-fi bar in town, they went back to their hotel and Crocodiles’ Charlie Rowell, 29, says, “He took a piss with the bathroom door open. He farted and he said, ‘Sorry, lads.’ He has a reputation for being a crotchety old man, but he was really light-hearted and friendly and young and fun.” Which sounds exactly like what Crocodiles is going for this time around.

Third Time’s a Charm for San Diego Rockers Crocodiles

San Diego-based Crocodiles, a band named after an Echo and the Bunnymen song, have been chugging along the blog circuit for some time now. In 2008, their very first song ever, a distortion-heavy jam called “Neon Jesus,” was hailed as “one of the best new tunes of the year” by the L.A. music blog No Age. But when their album was released in 2009 without the track, The New York Times rightly criticized Crocodiles as shortsighted. “The first record came out of a particularly frustrating time,” says singer Brandon Welchez, 30. “I think some of that frustration kind of came through.” Though their follow-up, Sleep Forever, was well received, it’s their third, Endless Flowers, which is poised to catapult them into sunnier days.

“[Endless Flowers] isn’t really dominated by any one thing,” he continues, “so there are some songs where the subject matter is death and some songs where the subject matter is lighter.” One of the lighter matters is a love song for Welchez’s wife––Dee Dee, of fellow noise pop band Dum Dum Girls ––called “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee.” Welchez croons à la Ian Curtis, “No more deathbeds raining on you / No more black clouds hanging around.”

Endless Flowers was recorded in Berlin, and Welchez says, “It was inspiring being here because it’s a really cheap place––there’s a lot of artists that live here and a lot of strange kooky characters. It also has some really seedy parts to it so it appeals to us as artists.”

As he spoke by phone from the gritty city, he paused mid-sentence. “Sorry, this naked guy just walked by.” Sin and seediness seem to appeal most to these rebellious rockers, who claimed to have gone on a bender with Mark E. Smith from classic U.K. punk band The Fall while on tour in Manchester. After Smith took them to his favorite sci-fi bar in town, they went back to their hotel and Crocodiles’ Charlie Rowell, 29, says, “He took a piss with the bathroom door open. He farted and he said, ‘Sorry, lads.’ He has a reputation for being a crotchety old man, but he was really light-hearted and friendly and young and fun.” Which sounds exactly like what Crocodiles is going for this time around.

Third Time’s a Charm for San Diego Rockers Crocodiles

San Diego-based Crocodiles, a band named after an Echo and the Bunnymen song, have been chugging along the blog circuit for some time now. In 2008, their very first song ever, a distortion-heavy jam called “Neon Jesus,” was hailed as “one of the best new tunes of the year” by the L.A. music blog No Age. But when their album was released in 2009 without the track, The New York Times rightly criticized Crocodiles as shortsighted. “The first record came out of a particularly frustrating time,” says singer Brandon Welchez, 30. “I think some of that frustration kind of came through.” Though their follow-up, Sleep Forever, was well received, it’s their third, Endless Flowers, which is poised to catapult them into sunnier days.

“[Endless Flowers] isn’t really dominated by any one thing,” he continues, “so there are some songs where the subject matter is death and some songs where the subject matter is lighter.” One of the lighter matters is a love song for Welchez’s wife––Dee Dee, of fellow noise pop band Dum Dum Girls ––called “No Black Clouds for Dee Dee.” Welchez croons à la Ian Curtis, “No more deathbeds raining on you / No more black clouds hanging around.”

Endless Flowers was recorded in Berlin, and Welchez says, “It was inspiring being here because it’s a really cheap place––there’s a lot of artists that live here and a lot of strange kooky characters. It also has some really seedy parts to it so it appeals to us as artists.”

As he spoke by phone from the gritty city, he paused mid-sentence. “Sorry, this naked guy just walked by.” Sin and seediness seem to appeal most to these rebellious rockers, who claimed to have gone on a bender with Mark E. Smith from classic U.K. punk band The Fall while on tour in Manchester. After Smith took them to his favorite sci-fi bar in town, they went back to their hotel and Crocodiles’ Charlie Rowell, 29, says, “He took a piss with the bathroom door open. He farted and he said, ‘Sorry, lads.’ He has a reputation for being a crotchety old man, but he was really light-hearted and friendly and young and fun.” Which sounds exactly like what Crocodiles is going for this time around.

Record Club: Celebrating the Glorious Sounds of Vinyl

it was a stormy night on the banks of Brooklyn April 21—known to vinyl nerds as Record Store Day—when I curled up in a bean bag chair, closed my eyes, and waited for the crackle of a needle hitting vinyl. Television’s Marquee Moon was about to revolve around my brain. I was immediately a kid again.

“What digital music is missing is the ritual or the relationship with the physical record,” says Mike Newman, host of the East Village Radio show Beyond Beyond is Beyond, which hosts a quarterly record club gathering. “Records are sexy and always will be.” Laissez-tomber le iPod.

The first rule about Record Club is that there is no talking during Record Club—at least not while the record is spinning. There is only the odd nudge and pass of the glowing cherry of a joint bouncing around the room. Being enveloped by the music and its analog magic creates a lasting impact, and it’s no wonder vinyl has reinvigorated a consumer base with the experiential aspect of it alone. I’ve become reacquainted with numerous favorites this way, including Can’s Ege Bamyasi, and discovered others, like Flower Travellin’ Band’s Satori.

The same day, thanks to local record shop Origami Vinyl, The Echo nightclub on Sunset Boulevard in sunny Los Angeles was outfitted with fancy turntables, receivers, and hip Eskuche headphones. Californian collectors of limited–edition slugs could watch their vinyl revolve à la a ’90s Sam Goody CD listening station. Want to go see a show after? Never fear—the vinyl valet would safely check in your records so you could go enjoy the band. Monday night residencies there feature a new Origami staff favorite spun in the Echo backyard.

While it’s easier to slip your iPod in your pocket, it’s just not the same kind of experience. “It’d be cool if Spotify created a service where they get someone to come to people’s houses and lead a record club gathering for the customer and their friends,” Newman told me recently, adding, “Call me, Spotify.”

Never-Before-Seen Images of the Young Warhol

At the new gallery Site/109 on Norfolk Street recently, the photographer William John Kennedy and his lovely wife Marie, now advanced in age, walked me through an extraordinary collection of Mr. Kennedy’s prints on view for the exhibit Before They Were Famous: Behind The Lens of William John Kennedy running through May 29. They were telling me the story of how they met and came to photograph Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana as emerging American artists. I started to wish they were my grandparents pretty early on.

“I had an assignment from Pratt Institute, I had an assignment to shoot four famous artists – up and coming American artists – so I’m going, ‘Who the hell am I going to shoot? I don’t know anybody,’” Mr. Kennedy told me as we took in the images around us. “I had just opened my own studio in New York City, and all of the sudden” – SNAP – “I went to a show and Warhol’s work was there.”

“But it was Robert Indiana who introduced Bill to Andy,” Mrs. Kennedy chimed. “Bill was very friendly with Robert and was photographing him for months prior to meeting Andy; and then at an exhibition Robert introduced Bill to Andy, and told him that Bill had been coming to his studio to photograph him and Andy was so impressed with Bill’s work – I mean Andy knew when he was in the presence of somebody who had creativity and he must have felt that way about Bill.”

The fact that these early images of iconic American artists happened isn’t the exciting part, necessarily. It’s that the stars aligned – literally – to create these amazingly early, naïve portraits of the artists with their own work before they were famous. “That would be like us going to the Lower East Side and finding, out of the hundreds of artists, the two rising stars, with their work, choosing it, and then all of the sudden in the future becoming something so,” said Michael Huter, founder of Kiwi Arts Group who produced the show, “allowing them to sit in a box for fifty years, and then showing them to the world. It’s so off the charts crazy!

Indeed these early images sat untouched for over 50 years, until the photographer uncovered them within his archives and decided it was time to finally print this project.

“At the time, [Warhol] was looking for every possible way he could seek fame. Indiana had a show at the MoMA,” Huter continued. “Warhol was invited, he had just had his first one man show at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery. So Bill had photographed Indiana, and of course there was jealousy in getting introduced – he wanted Bill to photograph him so that he could get his face and images out there and Bill is one of the first photographers to capture that and so [Warhol] was the ultimate fame whore.”

Or at least he was one of the first. The negatives were processed at Duggal – a printer in New York City, which is still there – at the time the film was shot. Mr. Huter contacted Duggal upon finding out about the photographs in 2006 and said, “How would you like to print the work that you processed in 1963 and 1964 and Baldev Duggal, still being there, excitedly, said ‘Oh my God this is crazy!’”

This Saturday Site/109 will host Telling Tales: Warhol’s Friends Tell it Like it Was moderated by Eric Shiner, Director of The Andy Warhol Museumand featuring a lively discussion with the photographer, Warhol muse Ultra Violet, and Taylor Mead. On Sunday they’ll host a panel called 99% Art in the Public Realm: A Tool for Social Change. To RSVP and learn more visit Kiwi Arts Group

Here are some of the images Duggal produced from the sets of William John Kennedy. Stay tuned for more Warhol Wednesdays throughout the month of May!

Santigold Saves the Day, Masters Our Make-Believe

“Do you like my dance moves?” Santi White, aka Santigold, asked the crowd at Bowery Ballroom on Monday night on the eve of her second album release. “I try really hard. It’s not easy.”

The soulful singer, in a gold-checkered tracksuit with white satin blouse collar, dove into the new tune Keeper, crooning the chorus, "while we sleep in America, our house is burning down, our house is burning down, down, down, down, down."

The business savvy songstress, returned to her fans after four years of silence, came at her audience with a powerful message and they were ready to listen. On the eve of May Day, also the release of her second album Master of My Make-Believe (Downtown/Atlantic), her songs ring true as dark pop with a worldly punk twist, burrowing deep into our souls and forcing modicums of truth into the ether that sorely need recognition.

As the lights went up on the chorus, the light exposed the sobered faces of all walks of life that stood as though they had been called to witness this event firsthand. The mash up of colors and cultures mimicked the styles, audible and otherwise, on stage.

Master is a generational record. It marks the time when we decided that crowd surfing at a show with turntables was okay; that one could care just as much about the NOTORIOUS B.I.G. as Nirvana (in fact both have martyr status in their own way). I confirmed this reality at South by Southwest in March, when walking down 6th Street in Austin, I was handed a promotional t-shirt silk screened with the cover of Nevermind, naked baby and all, not swimming towards the iconic dollar on a fish line, but towards a sick pair of BEATS by Dre headphones.

As she has been known to do Santi drew on stage a number of fans, in a rainbow of personalities and styles, to dance and sing along with her, warning to steer clear of her two dancers, as they’ve been “known to kick.” Also, punch, snarl and swagger with a touch of booty shaking – in the feminist, reclaiming-this-booty sense that defies exploitation. A throwback anti-2 Live Crew, if you will.

"My record comes out tomorrow,” she said softly with a big smile between songs. “It sure does take long; I’m so happy it’s over.”

Really, though, it’s just beginning. Santigold stands at the frontlines of a future sound that is hard to label. Call it soul, call it punk, and call it hip-hop, it is everything and nothing at all. Metaphors for her eclectic genre bending are laid bare in performances; Santi and her dancers are so multi-faceted their costumes even serve many purposes and styles. 

In a way, everyone wants to claim Santi for himself or herself. The difficult part comes when people start talking about genre according to race. The 36-year-old African American singer has a diverse band of collaborators on stage with her who reflect the audience in an intellectual-hipster-Benetton-ad kind of way. Supporting Santigold on this night the creative up and coming crossover hit, the singing, rapping DJ and renaissance man Theophilus London, whose fans endured crowd surfing (at a non punk show! Or was it?) shortly before Santigold hit the stage.

Santi’s second act denotes incredible strength in her slightness. That an idea could be more powerful than a fist is her implication – even one pumped slowly and assuredly into the air inducing the crowd to cheer at full force – and that even pop music can foster a rebellious avant garde attitude about the world. And that’s okay.

The gyrating bodies of her synchronized dancers Desireé Godsell and Monica Hatter-Mayes flanked the singer, denoting a stature and sexiness that inoculates from the sexual subservience of a typical female pop performance.

And yet, a young woman wearing a headscarf hugged the left corner of the stage, clapping giddily after each song. When Santigold forgot a few lyrics to You’ll Find A Way, the young woman pulled out her phone, searched it and handed the phone to the singer, whose performance then kicked back into full throttle, with Santi proclaiming at the end of the song, "She saved the day!"

And that’s just what we’ve come to expect from Santigold.

Photos by Dusdin Condren