"I'm just surprised by this myth that's going on about what it was like recording this album and the band's dynamic," Chase sighs when quizzed about the studio atmosphere while cutting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' sophomore disc, Show Your Bones. It is surprising considering the fact that both singer and sexed-up fashionista Karen O and guitarist Nick Zinner have made it clear in prior interviews that they were barely speaking to each other. Chase, understandably, wants no part of the rumor: "I'm not going to add to it or anything, but a lot of it is overdramatized and a bunch of garbage."
As proof, Chase offers up Show Your Bones itself. That the record got made at all under the enormous expectations fostered by the band's stormy, overcaffeinated, critically lauded garage-pop debut (2003's Fever to Tell) is evidence enough of relative stability, since, Chase contends, music has little to do with the process of making music. "It should be there just to reflect your personalities and the life of the band behind the music," he says. "So that always underlies whatever we do."
And indeed, Bones does rock in a way few sophomore albums do these days; there's a maturity and a commitment to reeling in the trio's famously furious extravagances to create something precise without sounding too polished. The simmering threat that they could blow up at any moment is the sonic equivalent of watching a circus performer stick his head into a lion's mouth you pray for success but remain quietly thrilled at the prospect of violent disaster.
Chase says he feels burned by the press, given its nasty habit (as he sees it) of misrepresenting the truth not to mention the fact that his participation in the band has been marginalized by a public fascination with Karen's beer-soaked, crotch-thrusting, rock-diva persona.
"There are times that I definitely feel overlooked, and I definitely resent any condescending statements directed toward me in that regard," Chase says. But has all the attention really changed who the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are? Karen seems to think so, claiming that, while she's still the same person, Zinner and Chase are not.
Of course, ask Chase if Fever to Tell changed Karen and it's lip-tightening time again. "Yeah, it has," he says. "But I'm not going to comment on that." Cole Haddon
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform Thursday, October 12, at Club Cinema, 3251 N. Federal Hwy., Pompano Beach. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $30. Call 954-785-5224, or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
Sammy Donado is no stranger to freestyle battles. The Miami-based MC known as Parable has racked up nearly a dozen first-place wins since 2001, when he was a mere 15 years old. Now on the cusp of his 20th birthday, Donado's currently involved in his biggest battle yet Jump Off TV's World Rap Championships, a series of two-on-two battles that ends with one team becoming $10,000 richer. The ten-week battle is decided by industry players and fans alike (who cast their votes at www.jumpoff.tv). The 12 divisions are evenly split between the United States and England. The winners from each country will be announced October 22, and the final battle (for the big bucks) goes down in Las Vegas on October 28.
Recorded in New York City (mostly on a rooftop in Brooklyn), the U.S. divisional battles were fought this past July. That means Donado's been patiently watching each week as the standings are updated. Currently, the team of Donado and Orlando's Mad Illz is in second place, behind West Coast battle giants the Saurus and Illmaculate the only pair to have beaten the Florida boys. The final battle between those teams will decide who goes to Vegas.
"I think those guys, if not the best, are among the best in the world," Donado says.
Indeed, it's a battle Donado isn't taking lightly. The same goes for the overall competition.
"[Jump Off] has to be the most difficult battle to date," Donado says. "The upside is we know who we're battling; there's no element of surprise. But these guys are all qualified the best of the best. All of these guys have proven themselves."
Now it's up to the people to decide who has the best punch lines and overall form. And it can get ugly not even the rappers' moms are spared ridicule. But while Donado subscribes to the no-holds-barred battle ethic, there is one place he won't go.
"One thing I've learned not to do," Donado says, "is dis people's girlfriends, especially when they've brought them to the competition."
Forget the battle that would start a war. Jason Budjinski
Just two discs in, From First to Last has already garnered a career's worth of music-biz headlines. Just before recording its first album, Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Now Has a Bodycount, the post-hardcore group lost its lead singer, Phillip Reardon, only to replace him through a MySpace ad with Sonny Moore. Before recording its second album, Heroine, the group booted bass player Jon Weisberger, who retaliated by filing a $10 million lawsuit. But on-again, off-again Limp Bizkit member Wes Borland stepped in to fill Weisberger's void, and Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot) signed on as producer. More recently FFTL prematurely jumped off the 2006 Warped Tour so Moore could undergo surgery number two on his vocal cords. (He's now back with the band on its current tour.) Outtakes spoke with FFTL guitarist Travis Richter at his apartment in Orlando.
Outtakes: Are you nervous at all about Sonny's recuperation? I mean, that's kind of a huge deal to have a singer who's not allowed to sing.
Travis Richter: I haven't even thought about it, to be honest with you. I mean, we've been through it before already, and you can tell when he talks, his voice is so clear and smooth-sounding. He'll be ready. He's seeing some of the best, like, people in the industry for it. I mean, I know nothing about it, so there's no point in me worrying about it.
Ross Robinson said that you're like the father of From First to Last. Do you feel that way?
Uh, I think I try to be. I try to be the responsible one as far as, like, the business stuff and planning and visionary type things, but I'm also like a delegator. Every person in our band has such amazing gifts and qualities, like stuff that you wouldn't really think, and like I really push them to exercise those inside the band, you know?
How far along are you with material for the next album?
[After] we made the move for Sonny to have the surgery and to just go for it, and when we did that, we were like, "Well, let's start writing and see what happens." Nothing out of this world or anything, just kind of like a real casual kind of thing. And we wrote tons of songs. Rob Trucks
From First to Last joins Atreyu, Every Time I Die, and Chiodos on Monday, October 16, at Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $24. Doors open at 6 p.m. Call 954-727-0950, or visit www.jointherevolution.net.