Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We want to take a moment and thank everyone who came to our CD release party last weekend. We had a blast, all the bands kicked ass, and well, Mike Casey should be burned at the stake!

The big tour starts tomorrow! We will try to blog from the road, and some of us might even create our own blogs so you can gfind out what we're doing, thinking, and whining about at any given moment. Should be a blast! Tour dates are right here:


Friday, October 9, 2009

Cup of Tea!

Cup of Tea is easily among the most honest song on the record, if not among the most metaphorical. If you've been reading recent reviews of Horror Vacui, you are well aware of what the song means. I prefer to delve into what I think of the song.

Cup of Tea is incredibly delicate. Being the ferocious, open mouthed drummer that I am, I found it no small task to plant roots in the delicacy of these three and a half minutes.I recall the advice of my band mates, "chill!"

I am absolutely smitten with Rachel's versatility as a singer. When I hear this song, I'm not sure if I am supposed to console her or put her out of her misery. What's certain is that she is not afraid to apply her feelings to her songs. The early verses exude vulnerability, but by the end of the song, her tone has changed to something far more pleading. As usual, John's vocals fit perfectly, matching the softness in the beginning as well as the forcefulness of the vocals toward the end of the song.

Making a record isn't like painting by numbers for us. We don't know exactly how songs will turn out when they are first introduced to the full band. This one started out with Rachel, a guitar, and a verse or two. John uncannily applied a catchy and emotional chorus, undaunted by what the song was actually about. By the time we listened to the playback in the studio, it was one of our favorite songs.

Come out to the CD release party, get a copy of the record with your admission, and feel free to talk to us about Cup of Tea or whatever else you want. We look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lonnie Walker!!!

The first time I heard Lonnie Walker was the first time I played a show with them, and I don't remember paying a lot of attention to them that night, honestly. Something about seeing a band play Americana-based rock music in a well known punk/metal/whatever venue like The Brewery didn't add up to me, and I was probably the only one in the building that didn't go crazy over them.

Man, im stupid. I should have watched their set. Ear Farm got it right, Lonnie Walker is most definitely one of the best bands in North Carolina.

I can't quite place what it is about them that I like so much, but after listening to their cd, I was hooked. When people (or music journalists, at least) talk about them, they seem to always mention Bob Dylan or Bright Eyes, among others. But I don't really listen to much Dylan, and I never really got into Bright Eyes. Something about Brian Corum's hooks just draw me in so much more than a lot of the bands/artists that he and his bandmates are compared to.

When we first started throwing around ideas for our CD release show, Lonnie Walker was one of the first names that came up, and they actually ended up being the first band (other than ourselves, of course) that was confirmed for the show. As soon as we had them on the bill, I knew the show would be epic.

Obviously its not just Ear Farm and I that think they are amazing: they were also chosen as one of the News & Observer's Great 8 in 2009, and Terpsikhore Records offered to put out their cd before the band was even fully formed. Plus, sometimes they have a dude onstage with them that paints a huge picture during their set. Is there anything cooler than that?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Des Ark!

I was a founding member of Des Ark. Yep, you heard right. It all started on a gorgeous June night in 2000, at a house show put on by Eric Crespo(at the time in a fantastic band called Question Rig, but you might know him now as Portland, OR’s Ghost To Falco) in Burlington, NC.

My band at the time, Strunken White, had been playing a lot with Aimee’s mind-blowing two acoustic/one electric guitar ensemble, known as Rubeo(good luck finding any recordings, kids- their 7 inch is one of my prized possessions and those two Rubeo tracks are a couple of all-time favorite musical moments for me)- and we shared yet another bill that night in Eric’s basement, along with his Question Rig. It was looking at the time that Rubeo was coming to an end: that night in Burlington they were reduced to a 2-piece, just Aimee and Beth Hoskins- guitarist Robin Landy had been heading in a different direction and had less and less time for the band(Robin now plays in a 2-piece called Silian Rail in San Francisco with my old bandmate from io, Eric Kuhn- just to give you an idea of how incestuous this music world can be if you’ve been doing it as long as someone like me). That night in Burlington, in the Crespo family driveway, I asked Aimee & Beth if they would like to start a band with me on drums. We got together for the first time the following week.

We called ourselves Pequeno for a bit, we were a quartet with Matt Tomich(The Scaries, Sorry About Dresden) on bass for a bit longer, but by the end of the summer of 2000, we were playing shows as a 3-piece around town at GO!, house parties, etc- as Des Ark. I have some amazing boombox practice cassettes with fantastic ideas by Aimee and Beth- gorgeous interlocking guitars and melodies that no one will ever hear- I still go back and listen to these about once a year and get all nostalgic and wonder how such cool shit could end up on the cutting room floor. These things happen when working with talents like Aimee Argote.

Alas, the first incarnation of Des Ark played around Chapel Hill for the remainder of 2000 and on into 2001- staying busy, drinking beers while watching Felicity, attempting to play Playstation games but getting distracted by the vibrating controllers, using band practice as an excuse to hang out and talk shit, etc. In mid-2001 I told Aimee I had decided to move to San Francisco with my new band, io, but that I wanted to make sure Des Ark kept going so I suggested our buddy, Tim Herzog, who often ran sound for us at GO!, take over behind the drums. That summer, I switched from drums to bass, because I wanted to play as many shows with these friends as possible before heading west in the fall. Tim took over behind the kit, things got loud, Beth and I both decided to bow out at the same time- Des Ark became a 2-piece, Aimee & Tim fell in love- the rest is pretty much history. I guess you could blame me for the rough personal times that ensued once I left NC, or you could thank me for doing so- because without it there might not have been a “Loose Lips Sink Ships”

I left a lot behind when I moved out west, but leaving Des Ark and not being able to stay so close with Aimee and Beth was always a big regret. Such a big regret that the week I moved back to NC in 2005, Aimee and Beth and I started jamming again- it didn’t last long due to all our wacky schedules, but it was proof of how important those beginnings in 2000 had been to us.

Flash forward to now. A LOT of people have come and gone through the Des Ark ranks, through many different incarnations. I’ve seen almost all of them, and been in a couple of them. Let me tell you- nothing beats what we’ve got now, and what you’ll see on October 10th at the Cradle. We’ve got Aimee, of course- seasoned and focused like never before- she’s driven and passionate as always, her newest material bringing back those guitar melodies & intricacies that made me love that early Rubeo and Des Ark material so much. On drums: the powerhouse that is Evan Rowe. The first time I saw him with Maple Stave I simply said to him “I think you’re the best drummer in NC right now”. And I’m pretty certain there is no drummer around here more enjoyable to watch- dudemans limbs wave around like Jello but there is nothing flimsy about the attack that they provide. And lastly, Noah Howard- the greatest secret weapon you could ever ask for. Hmm, should I mention Noah was my bandmate for 5+ years? In Strunken White, that little band I mentioned at the beginning of this essay. He was there, standing with me the night I asked Aimee and Beth to form Des Ark. Eight years later, he joined the band. Again, incestuous. But man, Noah completes it. Never has their been a guitarist more well matched for Aimee- this truly is the trio Des Ark was always meant to be. I really hope this one sticks, I’ve got a feeling it will.

You really don’t need me to tell you that Des Ark is important or that they are one of the top bands in the region or that you won’t want to miss the onstage interplay between my dear friends Aimee, Noah, and Evan- because everyone else already has told you. And they were right. Come see for yourself Saturday October 10th at Cat’s Cradle.

-John Booker

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rat Jackson!

From the desk of Broseph Mazzitelli:

We folks in I Was Totally Destroying It are a lot of things. We are musicians. Some of us are students. Some of us work crap jobs. Some of us are really introverted, and some of us love meeting people. We all like to party, but to be completely honest, we're not very good at it. October 10th is fast approaching, and when you wish to throw an event of this magnitude, one that needs to party as hard as it rocks, you need help. We in the IWTDI camp however, novice party-throwers as we are, needed a special kind of help. That is when you call the Rat Jackson Band. Having Rat Jackson on your bill is like bringing a missile to the proverbial knife fight of CD release parties. Every band playing on this special evening brings the rock, there is no questioning that, but Rat Jackson brings the party like no other.

Rat Jackson plays a blend of what can only be described as garage rock grit meets boisterous bar rock swagger. The unholy love child of Andrew W.K. and The Hives, but injected with special steroids that made them somehow more epic. Steroids made, most likely, out of beer. This band is after all hot off the heels of the release of "Beer Y'all", a film documenting a nine day road trip on which members of the band and others visited 27 breweries. They also played some rock shows during their trip. They partied a lot. They removed the seats from their van. Why? Because seats get in the way of partying. (You can learn more about the film and pick up the DVD at

This is exactly what I'm talking about when I insist that we have called upon the right people to make October 10th special. The second band of the evening made a documentary film about beer! Just think about what the world would be like if every bar band you ever saw, instead of playing Skynyrd covers, played rock music with the same self-aware braggadocio as Rat Jackson. Rock clubs, and subsequently the world, would be a little bit better places to be.

Rat Jackson are one of those groups that actually puts their band name into the songs they write. The thing however that sets them apart from other bands attempting that trick is that they actually pull it off. The entire Rat Jackson persona operates under the assumption that no band in the world rocks as hard, parties as hard, or looks as good as they do. So beware of standing too close during their set: you might end up agreeing with them. I think I do.

Lake Inferior!

The first thing you should know about Lake Inferior is that their music is dreamy, youthful, and triumphant.

The second thing you should know is that their drummer has a glass eye.

We saw Lake Inferior for the first time at Local 506 when we played with them for the Cancer Sucks benefit. The sounds they made wrapped around me like silk scarves and spider webs; they were beautiful, abundant, and a little eerie.

The vocals are boyish and endearingly self-conscious. Their melodies invoke memories of Talking Heads and The Modern Lovers. The rhythm section maintains simple but solid foundations for the shimmering guitars and ethereal synthesizers to ebb and flow around. There is fan fare and there are gang vocals, but they are genuine and they do not posture.

While some might argue that they are merely students of the Arcade Fire School of Anthemic Indie Rock, their songwriting suggests otherwise. Their modal tendencies are darker, the instrumentation is sparser, and the dynamics are not as grandiose or overblown. Lake Inferior is unpretentious and manages to be intimate even in their largest moments. Every song has a feeling of camaraderie; every word is weighted with the wide-eyed wisdom of a worldly twenty something.

We’re very excited to have them on board for the show, and we all think that you will love them. Because their drummer has a glass eye.

And apparently he takes it out at parties.

Monday, October 5, 2009


"There's something about growing up your whole life with people telling you that most everything is impossible... getting to watch Michael do magic makes me glad I never believed them!" - Brian Venable, Guitarist, Lucero

I feel like I've known Mike Casey for years, and I'm not sure why. But that phenomenon may tie in with what makes him such a wonderful performer. You're comfortable with him the moment he engages you.

I marvel at the skills of someone who can make the impossible seem possible, and life on this big blue ball of confusion would certainly be worse without the wonder that someone like Mike Casey inspires. Even the most jaded person can't help but fall out when Mr. Casey goes to work.

We don't know many people as friendly, as talented, and as engaging as Magic Mike Casey, and we're beyond thrilled to have him perform at our CD release show this Saturday night at the Cat's cradle! Come around, say hello, and let Mike revitalize the child within. You will thank him for it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Turn My Grave!

Anyone who has seen me play drums knows that I love it. Creativity and catharsis combine, my eyes get big, my smile stretches all the way across my face. And it's not for show. I really AM having that much fun up on stage!

I love playing drums in the studio, too, but it's not the same. In the studio, the German in me takes over, and efficiency rules the day. Not to take away from my love of the instrument, I'm not there to have a good time. We're paying for time, so I get in, get out. Get a good take, get on to the next song. In that sense, recording isn't quite as much fun as writing or performing songs.

To make life more fun in the studio, and to break up the tedium, I find myself listening to takes and trying to come up with ideas for how we can flesh them out, make them sound more interesting. Turn My Grave is an interesting case study in that. You'll notice there aren't a lot of drums. John stomps on the tambourine, making Turn My Grave one of the several songs in which I don't handle all of the percussion.

What I do get to play is the xylophone! And I love it! Ask anyone I've recorded with, I annoy the living bejeebers out of my bandmates always trying to play this or add that. This band is no different. Every once in a while I get an idea that works and I'm allowed to run with it. And that's my favorite part of recording.

Turn My Grave is one of my favorite tracks on the record, not because of the kickin' xylophone part, but more because of the way John and Rachel's voices go together, Curt's guitar interlude, and the big, roomy feel when the drums come in. This song is the delicate counter to Caterwaul's semi-grating urgency, a departure from the heavy-pop hooks, and a demonstration of our desire to elude pop-punk pigeonholes. You can hear it on the right sidebar. Keep checking back, as reviews are beginning to trickle in. We have a lot of unfinished business before our CD Release Party on 10 October at the Cat's Cradle!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bootleg Magazine!

Many many thanks to Brian Tucker at Bootleg Magazine for their review of Horror Vacui:

Horror Vacui digs deep, far into places most are familiar with – failed relationships and failed personal constitutions. On the surface Horror Vacui is sonically similar to IWTDI’s fantastic self titled debut and last fall’s Done Waiting EP. Horror Vacui is up-tempo, moving and exhilarating. It’s also far more dynamic than its predecessor that concentrated mostly on catchiness and powerful hooks. It made for something incredibly fun and relative, but it bore few skeletons.

Horror Vacui does. It’s filled with songs about mistakes and complaints, a confessional during and after the fallout of a relationship. What’s under the surface is harder to absorb than the sugar coated high wire act the band puts on. After taking it in lyrically the album shows its layers, making the album more relatable, more effective, than one might have intended. Pain makes for great art at the sacrifice of its creators. Horror Vacui is no different, as it was constructed around a romantic relationship on the outs. But the album bears no finality; it’s as much about the storm as how two people deal with the aftermath of it all.

The album is rich with needing and needling, of trying to communicate without actually doing so. On ‘Former Boy Wonder’ vocalist John Booker bears confession as he sings “Through trials and blunders/As a man I'm not enough.” It’s rare that we get anyone to fess up anymore, let alone in the gut wrenching frankness Booker gives here. I haven’t heard anyone say there weren’t man enough this way since Kravitz’s full album apology Mama Said. On ‘Cup of Tea’ you feel for Hirsh when she sings of trying and regressing, “Cause you're my cup of tea/And it may burn my tongue, the flavor might be wrong/But I guess it's what I want/Yeah, stuck with what I’ve got.”

Booker and Hirsh go back and forth on ‘Caterwaul’ and Booker declares in a muted speaker-toned voice “And I cannot find an emotion/To keep us safe from the wolves at the door.” It’s a frantic, nightmarish number built on crazed, tribal drumming and near psychotic keyboard playing. ‘Done Waiting’ and ‘Come Out, Come Out’ are standout tracks here and ‘Come Out, Come Out’ pleads for untamed youth and exploration, easy on the nautical metaphors and strong on wants and desires. Hirsh sings blatantly, “I want to be young/To be a wreck and wrecked upon/I want to get out/And be a ship without the anchor.” To be a wreck and be wrecked upon says so much more lyrically than prurient lyrics by the Katy Perry’s of today. ‘Come Out, Come Out’ comes off like a party anthem blend of Bow Wow Wow and The Replacements where the narrator wants for experience, of freedom on the sea but unaware of the wrecks already sunk there. But it’s the acoustic number ‘Turn My Grave’ that finds the band exploring, not relying on sonic extremities, and finding tenderness in their singing strengths.

IWTDI throws many shots in the summer night air with their new album, but several echo the melancholy of fall, no matter how much punch they put in the recordings. It’s a great rock record, one that hits the heart as much as the adrenaline button. What’s better is that it fails to take sides, leaving the listener feeling for either party. Horror Vacui is a step forward for IWTDI, for its growth as musicians and for their personal measures.

Brian Tucker
Bootleg Magazine
Wilmington, NC
July 7, 2009