By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Jesse Keeler, who made eardrums bleed as the bassist of Toronto synth-noise terrorists Death From Above 1979, is happier now as part of the blurty discotheque duo MSTRKRFT (props to its 2006 album, The Looks) and as an in-demand remixer (Metric, the Kills, Bloc Party). B-Sides reached Keeler at home as he was "trying to do some normal, human things" before leaving for a European tour after which he planned to head straight back to North America for this, the "Diamonds" tour with John Digweed.
B-Sides: Last-minute packing?
Jesse Keeler: It's actually to the point where it's last-minute clothes shopping. I'm like [to MSTRKRFT partner, Al-P], "Do you have any clothes?" "No. Do you have any clothes?" "Oh, shit." Today, Al wanted to go clothes shopping, but he got stuck mixing this record that we started for this local punk band ages ago. [But] we've been working on our new album like crazy.
What's the new record sounding like?
Pretty crazy. It's really made for the club but, more specifically, made for us to play in a club. The last record...we made a record that wasn't just for us; we made something other people could play, too. And sometimes that ended up meaning we were making stuff that we wouldn't play, ever. They're good songs. We're happy with things in one sense. But it's not really the best idea when you're DJs and DJing a lot. In Europe and stuff, our first album is just coming out. That's why we're going over there. They still have singles over there.
That's a novel thing. Singles? On vinyl?
Yup. Although, in a way, in North America, the fans are back to it being a singles market with downloading. They're like, "Fuck your shitty album. I'm going to get that one song I like." I remember shopping for singles with my dad when I was a kid, flipping through a bin of 45s. Now kids just make the singles themselves. They don't have to buy the album, so they don't. The record industry's like, "We're losing money!" Well, stop putting out shitty records.
What did you like listening to growing up?
Well, my mom's not white. She said, "Hey, this rips off the Isley Brothers and Otis Redding, and maybe nobody gets paid...they rip off Little Richard." I didn't listen to rock music until I was in high school. Kids were like, "Check out this Led Zeppelin!" I was like, "What the hell was that?" I remember the first time I listened to a Beatles record. I was eighteen. "Wow, this is pretty cool! Why didn't you tell me this before? Sgt. Pepper's is pretty rad!"
Do you have any DJ idols?
When I was young, I really looked up to local drum 'n' bass guys, jungle DJs, because they play so fast. The combinations of the shit was just ridiculous. Then I got more into house music. Toronto's halfway between New York and Chicago and two hours away from Detroit, so you can imagine what came through. [Legendary Chicago producer] Green Velvet comes through not as much anymore.
Green Velvet played here in December.
He's opening for us in London. My wife just corrected me she's like, "You shouldn't say 'opening!'" [Laughs] The club has us as the headliner. It's hilarious. I used to write messages to Green Velvet on MySpace, and he never wrote back. Not like about music so much, more like, personal: "You're amazing." Now I'm going to play with him, and I'm like, "Yeah, I'm that guy. I'm that guy that writes to you. I see that you've read my messages!"
You can't hide from me now, Green Velvet! So, describe what people can expect on this gig.
We play pretty hard. I don't know how else to describe it. We try to ease the people into it, so it's not too much of a shock. We want it to be a good party and exciting. We really take pride in our mixing and try to do the most interesting things we can in that sense. We try at least in one point in every night to really challenge the audience and say, "Are you going to come this far with us for a second?" [Laughs] We have to take that chance. Annie Zaleski 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 13. Dante's, 3221 Olive Boulevard. $20 to $25. 314- 652-2369.
Big Muddy Memories
Here's a weird fact: In the summer of 1969, in a field outside Edwardsville, Illinois, Bob Dylan emerged from a self-imposed exile to perform three songs with the Band. It was his first live performance in nearly three years. That's right, in Edwardsville. The next month, Janis Joplin appeared at the same outdoor venue. That same summer, Joni Mitchell, too. In Edwardsville.
The concert series was called the Mississippi River Festival, and a new book, Images of America: The Mississippi River Festival, has just been published to commemorate its eleven-year run from 1969-1980.
Originally created to showcase the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra during its off-season, the MRF took place in a natural amphitheater a mile from the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. It's best-remembered not for the classical music, however, but for the depth of rock, pop and jazz talent that performed beneath the big circus tent that housed the stage.