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Behind the Scenes with The Latenight Callers

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring artists playing the MidCoast Takeover fundraiser shows, sponsored by Midwest Music Foundation.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which for this reviewer typically equates to a dog on each side and blanket after blanket piled upon my bed. Instead, I’m braving the brisk winter air of Midtown to talk with a band whose name is acutely contradictory to my being awake.
If you don’t know them, you have to wonder what The Latenight Callers are really like, especially during the early morning hours (relatively speaking). You also might be wondering what the band’s new recording sounds like. To provide a quick perspective: the four members (Ms. Ellen [O’Hayer] was unavailable for comment that day) were awake and pleasant, and the upcoming LP leaves nothing to be desired for this skyrocketing Kansas City group.
I met with Ms. Julie, Mr. Mac, Mr. Nemeth, and Mr. Combs at Weights and Measures Soundlab, where they’ve been tracking with veteran engineer (and musician) Duane Trower (currently of Olivetti Letter; formerly of Season To Risk, Doris Henson, Overstep).
“The character of Duane’s gear helps us portray the character of the band, in the essence that everything is out of another time,” said baritone guitarist Krysztof Nemeth. Trower boasts an array of obscure, vintage gear, as well as equipment he’s built himself, which the band believes help keep its sound as unique as possible.
Unlike the band’s previous two EP recordings (The Latenight Callers and Easy Virtues). the full-length will be mixed by Trower (who mastered Easy Virtues) instead of recorded by Nemeth. Keyboardist/electronic sound guru Nick Combs mentioned that Trower seemed to be the perfect fit for the band’s upcoming album. “We needed someone that wouldn’t make us sound precious. With Duane’s own experience as a musician, we knew he’d give us the heftier sound we’ve been looking for.” Recording in a studio has given the band the freedom to explore its music, most of which will be new and some of which will be re-recorded from the first EP.
The new full-length, still untitled, seems to be more of a collaborative effort than previous recordings, with tracks built by each individual member to serve each song. The Callers’ first EP was written, produced, and performed by Nemeth and frontwoman Julie Berndsen, before the other three members were added to the mix. After 3 years, the band has gained a collective maturity and a strong foothold in the local scene, and the new tracks show that each member knows what element to bring to write a song that is uniquely The Latenight Callers.
Berndsen noted, “Everyone has the goal of creating a cohesive song, but we had to really think about… does each piece complement the particular song?” Berndsen and O’Hayer recorded their vocals in a session after each instrument had been laid down, which, according to the group, enhanced the emotive aspects of each track.
“With recording, we have to step back from our individual roles and look at it from a distance to gain perspective of what our audience will recognize and respond viscerally to,” said Nemeth. Combs added, “Instead of just one person’s vision, it’s all five of us. We’re listening to the arrangements and orchestration instead of just thinking about ‘my part.’”
With plans to release this album in the spring and big shows in the works, 2013 promises to be another tremendous year for The Latenight Callers. Stay tuned.
Editor’s note: Bassist Gavin Mac was available for comment, but settled upon curling up in the studio’s comfortable leather couch and settled in for a long winter’s nap. Left-handed bass players are prone to hibernation at this and all other times of year.
The Latenight Callers will be performing some of the songs from its upcoming album this Friday, February 1, at Czar Bar, for the second MidCoast Takeover fundraiser show. The Callers will headline the show, playing at 12:00 a.m. after Jorge Arana Trio, Eyelit, and Tiny Horse. Tickets are available here. The band will also be performing at the MidCoast Takeover show at SXSW on Saturday, March 16 at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas.
Photos by Randy Pace. Please do not use without permission.
--Michelle Bacon


Photos from MidCoast Takeover Fundraiser #1 at recordBar, 1.26.13

(Photo by Terra Peal)

The first MidCoast Takeover fundraiser show was a huge success, thanks to all of the great bands (She's A Keeper, Drew Black and Dirty Electric, Molly Picture Club, and Antennas Up) that performed, as well as Midwest Music Foundation, recordBar, and all of our sponsors!
Here’s a list of the MidCoast Takeover sponsors:
CM2 Audio
Taj Mattingly

She's A Keeper  

Photos by Todd Zimmer


Drew Black and Dirty Electric

Photos by Todd Zimmer



Molly Picture Club

Photos by Terra Peal





Antennas Up 

Photos by Terra Peal

Also, here's a video recap of the fundraiser from Nate Heavilin from Attic Wolves
And thanks to everyone who came to support the first fundraiser show! We hope you’ll join us for the next ones: Friday, February 1 at Czar; Saturday, February 2 at The Riot Room; Saturday, February 16 at The Brick; and Friday, March 8 at Uptown Arts Bar. MMF will be selling raffle tickets at each of the fundraiser shows for two pairs of VIP Kanrocksas tickets, which include a tour with the Kanrocksas founder!
--Michelle Bacon


Artists on Trial: Various Blonde

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring artists playing the MidCoast Takeover fundraiser shows, sponsored by Midwest Music Foundation.
Various Blonde is the brainchild of Joshua Allen, formed in 2008 and presenting a dark, experimental, progressive style unique to Kansas City music. The band has opened for national acts like Russian Circles, Thursday, Murder By Death, Fang Island, and The Electric Six. We talk with them and find out more about what they’re up to as well as their plans for SXSW.
The Deli: Down and dirty: 1 sentence to describe your music. What is it?

Various Blonde: A bunch of experiments with trial and error sprinkled on top.
The Deli: Tell us about what Various Blonde has going on.
VB:We have been chosen as a finalist for this: http://jansport.sonichub.com/artist/various-blonde
It would be awesome to win because if we win, it's also a victory for KC. It's good to bring attention to KC. We also have two EPs up on Bandcamp for whatever people will give us. nd if we are talking promotion, there is always Facebook. Please "LIKE" us on there, but more importantly, come to a show.
The Deli: What else can we expect from you guys this year?
VB: Perform and record as much as possible. Use my axe to chop down a money tree. (sarcasm font)
The Deli: What does supporting local music mean to you?

VB: Promoting and going to shows besides your own.
The Deli: Who are your favorite local musicians right now?

VB: This is a tough question and I know I’m gonna forget someone, but I really enjoy the Jorge Arana Trio, Sons of Great DaneThe Conquerors are super sick, THE DEVIL, Snuff Jazz, Making Movies fuggin’ slays Latin dragons, obviously Hearts of Darkness! Er’body luv HOD! One of KC's best kept secrets, Clock People (just wait, their first show is March 1 at Riot Room and you should go), Cherokee.Rock.Rifle because they wrote “Black Cauldron,” RADKEY because the guy from Entourage loves them, Janet The Planet (So dope!), MINDEN (even though they moved to Portland will always be KC to me), MONOLYTH!, and The Beautiful Bodies; they've really locked in their sound and are headed for big shit!
The Deli: Congrats on being selected to play MidCoast Takeover at SXSW. Who are you guys looking forward to playing with or seeing there?
VB: Thanks. I'm looking forward to all the KC energy that will be there, but as far as nationals are concerned, I honestly have no idea who is playing. I'll let you know when I know. Andrew W.K.?
The Deli: Who are your favorite not-so-local musicians right now?

VB: Zechs Marquise, No Spill Blood, Bosnian Rainbows, Chelsea Wolfe, Zach Hill, Dot Hacker, Big Sur, Flying Lotus, Swahili Blonde, Death Grips, Tame Impala, Dirty Projectors, The Stepkids, Bailiff, The Budos Band, and Antibalas are all awesome. I was tempted to write dead artists cause none of them are local to anyone, but I don't wanna be a smartass.
The Deli: What is your ultimate fantasy concert bill to play on?

VB: A festival with my band, Radiohead (Ok Computer, KID A, Amnesiac set), Smashing Pumpkins (original lineup Mellon Collie disc 1 and 2 set) The Mars Volta (De-Loused in the Comatorium set), Tool (Ænima cover-to-cover set), The Flaming Lips, Jack White, Blonde Redhead, Queens of the Stone Age with Grohl on drums, NIN (Fragile left and right Set), and if were including dead people that should still be alive... Biggie, Tupac, and Wu-Tang with Ol’ Dirty. After-party with Flying Lotus at Shaun White’s crib.
The Deli: Would you rather spend the rest of your life on stage or in the recording studio?
VB: On stage because you're creating a moment instead of trying to capture it. I hate to quote Coca Cola, but you can't beat the real thing!
The Deli: A music-themed Mount Rushmore. What four faces are you putting up there and why?

VB: James Brown (hardest working man in show business, Godfather of Soul), Miles Davis (changed the face of jazz four times over four decades), brown Michael Jackson with fro in tow (King of Pop, indigo child), Hendrix (just ask the Axis).

The Deli: All right, give us the rundown. Where all on this big crazy web can you be found?

The Deli: Always go out on a high note. Any last words of wisdom for the Deli audience?

VB: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
Various Blonde is:
Joshua Allen – guitar, vocals
Jason Nash – bass
Josh Enyart – drums

You can see Various Blonde this Saturday, February 2, where they will be playing the second MidCoast Takeover fundraiser at Riot Room. The group will be playing at 9:45, followed by Drop A Grand, Maps for Travelers, and Six Percent. Tickets available here. Various Blonde was also one of over 40 KC artists selected to play the 2013 MidCoast Takeover showcase at SXSW from March 13-16 at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas.

--Michelle Bacon

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