The Black Moods: "We Want People to be Sad to Our Songs, and Also Have Sex to Our Songs."

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Photo by Jeremy Huse
The Black Moods are scheduled to perform Saturday, August 30, at Crescent Ballroom.

Black Moods fans eagerly anticipating the release of the rock band's follow-up to their eclectic self-titled debut album will have to hold their breath a little longer. The Phoenix-based trio is tabling their upcoming album for a short time in an effort to strengthen the material, lengthen the album, and fine-tune the details. The decision came as a request from the band's new management team, Street Smart Marketing, who is working to push the group to the next level in their career.

"In the past year and a half, we've learned a lot about business," Black Moods drummer Danny "Chico" Diaz explains, "and about touring. We decided our goals were to get management, and then get a record label -- we've hit the first goal, and we have management now."

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Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins on How They're "Holding Nothing Back" on Their New Album

Categories: Q&A

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nickelcreek.com
Nickel Creek is scheduled to perform on Thursday, August 28, at Mesa Arts Center.
It's been seven years or so since the last time the music world has seen or heard anything from Nickel Creek. But now, in honor of the progressive bluegrass trio's twenty-fifth anniversary, musical siblings Sara and Sean Watkins and their longtime friend Chris Thile have dusted off their respective instruments and resumed playing and touring together, sounding very much like they never left each other.

Earlier this year, the trio of three finger-plucking childhood friends released A Dotted Line, the first Nickel Creek album in nine years, and have embarked on a nationwide tour to show off new songs, old favorites, and reassure fans that the band's "indefinite hiatus" is over with and done.

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Former Queensrÿche Singer Says Band Name Was a Burden

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Ron Dukeshire/Rockstar PR
Geoff Tate

Geoff Tate has always been seen as one rock 'n' roll's archetypal frontmen. As singer of Queensrÿche, he sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and sold out shows in dozens of countries. Tate is ranked in the top 20 on Hit Parader's 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All Time, and comes in second on That Metal Show's top five hard rock '80s vocalists.

When I saw Queensrÿche perform with vocalist Todd La Torre at the National Association of Music Merchants in January, the only talk in the insanely packed crowd before the band went on were conversations and debates about the lineup and Geoff Tate's absence. One argument ended up with two girls getting into fisticuffs. The topic was creating as much buzz as the House of Blues' heavy whiskey pours.

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7 Seconds Shows How Punk Bands Can Age Gracefully

Categories: Q&A, Show Preview

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David Robert
7 Seconds

7 Seconds recently released its first album in nearly a decade, and the band is back with a vengeance. The new album Leave a Light on harkens back to the band's signature '80s hardcore punk sound and positive themes.

"It's an everyday process, it's not something that you just pick up and it looks great on a bumper sticker or on your t-shirt," Kevin Seconds says, reflecting on the song "Slogan on a Shirt."

We caught up with Kevin Seconds before he embarked on 7 Seconds' first full U.S. tour in nine years.


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Errol Brown, Sound Guy for Rebelution, Gives a Look at the Making of Some of Reggae's Greatest Hits

Categories: Q&A, Reggae

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Courtesy of Errol Brown
Errol Brown, sound engineer who recorded several Bob Marley and the Wailers albums

Fame, for most artists, is short-lived.

When stars come and go, a core network of lyricists, producers, crew members and musicians persists through the decades, typically unseen, giving support from one fresh face to the next.

Errol Brown is a sound engineer who, within the industry, carries much name recognition. Born in Jamaica, he has worked predominantly in reggae music since the '70s. He's won two Grammys and has produced music for and toured with a guy named Bob Marley.

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Ska Vet Dan Potthast of MU330 Returns to the Living Room

Categories: Q&A, Ska

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Image courtesy of Dan Potthast and Asian Man Records
Dan Potthast brings his living room tour to Scottsdale this Friday, August 8

Over a career spanning two-plus decades, Dan Potthast has never been short on new ideas. From six full-lengths with "psycho-ska" outfit MU330, to two full-lengths with indie-rock group The Stitch Up, five (soon to be six) solo records, an album leading the California traditional ska collective The Bricks, and an upcoming rock record alongside Rick Johnson of Mustard Plug, Potthast knows how to keep busy.

After separate tours in 2013 with ska-punk royalty Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto, Potthast was looking for a change of pace, and thus the living room tour was born. What began as an open call on social media for hosts has turned into a 66-date nationwide tour in two legs, which arrives at a Scottsdale-area home this Friday, August 8.

In-between lengthy solo drives, Potthast found the time to catch up with Up on the Sun to detail the tour, and this year's three (!) full-length releases.


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Foxy Shazam Wants to Leave a Legacy

Categories: Q&A

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Steven King/Foxy Shazam
Alex Nauth and I can't seem to make it work. The Foxy Shazam horn player and I have been attempting to link up for the better part of a month, barely missing the other's phone calls as the Cincinnati, Ohio-based glam rock band bounces between U.S. and Canadian tour dates. When we finally do land our eventual conversation, it revolves around the theme of what it means to be a rock band in 2014 -- something that holds much more weight than it implies.

If nothing else, that's exactly what Foxy Shazam is: They're an unapologetic, brash, over-the-top rock band in an era in which the term "rock band" alone is enough to cause niche-based, hyper-hyphenated genre splitting, at best. and elicit cringing at its worst. On their latest release, Gonzo, the band's scaled back their approach to a degree, letting songwriting show through rather than just showmanship. Having worked on the record with Steve Albini, of Big Black and Nirvana-producing fame, there's a new side of Foxy Shazam that Nauth and his bandmates have unearthed, yielding surprising results and a fresh future for the band.

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Q&A: Boris' Noise a Map to the Band's Sound

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A capture from Boris' music video, "Vanilla"

Nailing down Boris is no easy task. The Japanese band has released 19 albums in its 22-year career, all with varying material that shifts from doom metal, to prog rock, screamo to power pop, space to thrash--sometimes on the same album.

That's part of the band's appeal, however, as the trio follows its whim to make what feels right. Boris' latest, Noise, is perhaps the band's strongest in years, a mixture of finely crafted songs full of melody, mood swings and catchy hooks interlaced with masterful guitars among an overall proggy transcendence.

""If there is a sound map of Boris, Noise will be the center of it," Boris drummer Atsuo says simply.

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Des Ark Has a Booking Agent, But Aimée Argote's Still DIY to the Bone

Categories: Q&A

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Courtesy of Des Ark
Aimée Argote of Des Ark

The one time I saw Des Ark, singer Aimée Argote broke the ice with the audience by suggesting they move closer. "We probably smell weird," she said, "but this is a punk show, so you probably don't mind."

Most of Des Ark's music is marked by this kind of frankness, maybe less about punk must and more about insecurities, traumas, hopes, and desires, all set against music that oscillates liberally between minimal, singer/songwriter quaintness to loud and obtuse movements that sound like they continue the legacy of a lot of the weird and innovative trends in punk and hardcore that characterized the '90s D.I.Y. scene in America.

Up on the Sun talked to Argote recently about the band's current activities and her approach to songwriting.


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Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves: I Really Only Care About What Women Think

Categories: Interview, Punk, Q&A

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The Dwarves

Blag Dahlia (birth name: Paul Cafaro) of the Dwarves is looking for women to come to the band's show tonight at Yucca Tap Room with the Queers, Masked Intruder, and the Atom Age buck-naked and ready for fun. He knows it gets hot in Phoenix, so "Why not be comfortable?" according to Blag. If the Dwarves singer has any hang-ups, nudity is definitely not one of them.

Talking to Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves is definitely enjoyable. The guy clearly knows how to have a good time, and what is even way more interesting is that he almost perfectly walks the fine line between brilliant and bullshit, evil genius and closet good guy. He seems to revel in any opportunity to playfully push buttons. In fact, he'll freely push his own buttons just to see (and enjoy) your reaction. That is, of course, if you don't react to his jabs at men, women, or....well, people, really. With the Dwarves, anyone and anything is fair game, especially if there is a way to work in quick hits of tits and ass on top of one f- bomb after another.

We sat down and had a nice, polite little chat on the phone with Blag a few nights ago. Here is how it played out.


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