Antonia Landi

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

In interview: Steven Battelle (LostAlone)

In Entertainment, Music on April 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Exciting times are ahead for LostAlone

Having already toured with the likes of My Chemical Romance and Enter Shikari, LostAlone have an impressive list of friends. The reason for their success? The answer is simple: Their music. Having recently changed a third of their line-up and being on the verge of releasing a follow-up to their first album, exciting times are ahead for LostAlone. I had a chance to catch up with singer Steven before their show in Glasgow and talk about everything from perfect eyesight to massive egos.

 

To people that don’t know you yet, what would you describe your music as?

That’s always a tough one. I would normally just say ‘a rockband’ and I know that in this day and age people want to put you in a compartment and say ‘you’re this’ or ‘you’re that’ but personally, I would just say that we’re in the tradition of a rockband. Melodic songs, that rock.

 

I find your sound reminds me a lot of older rock bands from the 70s and 80s – would you say your inspiration comes more from the past than the present?

Yeah, personally I don’t really listen to any modern rock, I never have. There’ll be the odd record that comes through and I’m like ‚oh that’s great, and then touring; you know, if you’re on tour with a band then you end up getting into their music, and I’ve always liked listening to the bands that we tour with. But when I say old music it’s not even old rock; I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, mainly pop and probably not things people expect, and I do think that that’s why we sound like we do. Obviously my dad played me Zeppelin and Sabbath and stuff like that but I really personally love all that kind of pop music as well. And if it’s a good song, I can respect it whatever kind of genre it’s in. I think that’s what makes the sound of the band.

 

How would you describe the dynamic in the band? Did it change a lot when [bassist] Alan joined?

Yeah, it changed a lot. Personally, it became an a lot more positive band, and I would never slag anybody else off, but if someone ends up not in your band, then there’s a reason. Alan was just so enthusiastic about LostAlone and the main thing he brought to the band for me, apart from just being a great guy, was a desire to sing. When we get to the new album my idea is huge vocals, and we can really do that now, because Alan loves to sing, he’s not been made to, so the three of us really sing a lot now.

 

What do you miss most when you go on tour?

I think you’re asking me at the wrong time really! On the My Chem[ical Romance] tour I just made the decision that I don’t miss anything. I absolutely love being a citizen of the world, so I kind of find myself more missing the road when we’re back at home than missing home when I’m on the road.

 

Your lyrics contain some of the most imaginative phrases I’ve ever heard in a rock song – what is your relationship with words?

Thank you! It’s my kind of favourite relationship, really. Equally to music, I absolutely love writing words and the feeling you get when something pops into your head that feels quite unique. That tends to happen to me with no effort. If I was to sit down and try, which I do sometimes, it’s stuff that never gets used, whereas everything that ends up on an album or on songs I really like and care about is stuff that just kind of pops out of nowhere. Generally what happens is that one phrase will come from somewhere and that will really fire off the rest of the song very fast. I can sometimes spend a five-minute extreme period where it’s all done. Or then I’ll have some times where, in my notebooks, the same is started so many times and then we finally get there. But I can’t like bands, even if there’s the best melody, I just can’t like it if I don’t like the lyrics. If it’s something I think is lazy or just, you know, cringeworthy, I’ll just think ‚why?’ why would you just- you know, you had the chance. And I’m not saying that simple words can’t be absolutely amazing. There’s a song on the new record and a song on the first record, which is Predators In A Maze, where I think that’s quite straightforward lyrics, it’s just like you know exactly what I’m saying. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, I’m not saying you have to dress everything in a metaphor but, it’s when people write things that I just find you know… ‘shining in the night’ and ‘I love the girl’. I just think there’s so many better ways of saying things.

 

Why should people listen to LostAlone? What do you have to say?

I personally think people should listen to us purely because we’re an honest band that is doing this for the right reason. I’m not saying a lot of bands aren’t doing that, but that’s my reason to listen to us. We’re quite a unique band and when we started the band I never dreamt that we would be, because I think that’s a really hard thing to get, but from what everyone tells us, you know, fans and reviews, everybody always seems to say there’s something very unique about us, whether that’s the combination of the lyrics, the kind of heaviness combined with the real kind of poppy, catchy harmonies. It’s kind of like the Beach Boys crossed with Sabbath, things like that, and I know people have tried that before, but we haven’t actually tried it, we just kind of ended up like that, because of the way I like to hear music.

 

Apart from music, what other art forms inspire you?

Well, I don’t know if there’s an art form. I mean I’ve been to see art and I like it, but the thing that inspires me the most is natural art, which is just being out in the wilderness. I really like going to places I’ve never been. Even just like on the last tour, the drive to Scandinavia, when you’re driving from Denmark to Sweden and there’s the ocean and it’s a very different kind of ocean to what you’re used to, it’s all ice and stuff. The same when I was in Switzerland, my favourite place, the mountains there are absolutely breathtaking and things like that can just send me into a kind of musical state straight away where I just have to write stuff. Sometimes it’s rubbish but you know when you’re just looking at the views and stuff and you see it, it’s amazing.

 

Do you have any hidden talents?

No! My only talent is writing songs, so everybody knows about that. I mean, at a stretch I’ve got extremely good eyesight, for things in the distance. I’m just trying to think of things. I can see things, like on a sign in the distance, when everybody else can’t see it. Yeah, so I can see things at a very long distance.

 

What makes you angry?

People’s failure to be good at what they’re supposed to be doing. You find that a lot in this industry, people get paid loads of money to be rubbish. I expect the best of myself, and of our band, and I expect the best of everyone working for us, and we get the best out of everyone, cause everyone knows the standard. We’re not like a partying band, you know. We know when to party, there’s definitely a time for that. But we’re not the kind of band that turns up and starts drinking and gets wasted. All the crew are friends and stuff but they all know what their job is and they do it and then we all kind of get into the zone.

 

Ultimately, why did you become a musician?

There’s not any reason, it’s not something I think I had a choice in. I’ve been asked this a lot of times, and I don’t remember not feeling it. It’s just something that I’ve always known I have to do, even when I was not good, I thought I was amazing. I think I had a massive ego when I was about 11. I would just tell anyone ‚I’m gonna be massive, it’s gonna be amazing’.

 

When will the new album be released?

I can’t tell you! You know what, that’s the question I wish I could tell you more than anything. We would’ve personally had it out already, but it’s the nature of the industry at the moment, it’s all really boring stuff to be honest. It’s on a business level, way above anything to do with our band and it’s affecting a lot of bands on the major label that we’re on. Everything’s just been put back. It just means that bands like us that aren’t massive yet have all just been told ‘you have to wait’.

 

Do you have any upcoming shows apart from the My Passion tour? Any plans to play some festivals this summer?

Basically there’s nothing that I can tell you about, actually. The plan is to be doing everything, everywhere. But I have to wait on confirming the release date of the album. We’re not allowed to do anything else until we do. It’s a real difficult situation, the album’s ready; it’s like 99.9% ready. It’s just the way it works. You don’t go and do these things unless the album’s come out, so we’re ready and we’re hoping but it’s in other people’s hands. As I kind of mentioned earlier, people need to do their jobs.

Live review: Showtunes Cabaret – Voodoo Rooms 21/04/11

In Edinburgh, Entertainment, Performing Arts on April 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Captain Anchor transformed the Voodoo Rooms into a music hall from the 1930s, with the help of his friends Kassandra Killjoy, Tom de Lish and Lilly de Lure. An intimate crowd of about 20 people made this evening a special treat and the crowd was made to feel at home by the host of the night. The main act was Captain Anchor himself, delighting the crowd with cabaret and musical classics such as Mister Cellophane and Over The Rainbow. His performance makes it clear that Captain Anchor belongs on a musical theatre stage. Not only because of the grandeur of his persona – Captain Anchor’s voice is definitely up to the challenge.

Up next was Kassandra Killjoy, a delightfully enticing lady with an enormous voice. Kassandra’s repertoire included songs from shows such as Cabaret and Chicago. Her performance is flawless, were it not for her skimpy outfits. Whereas showing flesh in a cabaret show is accepted, if not even encouraged, Kassandra forgets that class really makes a difference. Her voice is gorgeous and could not be more suited to cabaret – but please girl, put something on!

Up next was Lilly de Lure, who was said to ‘delight’ the audience with her burlesque act. Unfortunately, she did not quite manage to live up to that, but instead provided the crowd with a mediocre act with a confusing backstory.

The highlight of night was Tom de Lish, whose set included a laugh-out-loud song about a Starbucks romance and possibly one of the best boylesque performances I have ever seen. The fact that he is trained in ballet and jazz as well as contemporary dance really pays off during his performance, as he shows off his moves with the biggest impact possible. His burlesque act contains all you could ask for – from make up to costume, everything just works, and Tom’s professional background gives him the credibility his act needs.

The final send-off to this grand little night could not have been better, as Captain Anchor once again reached for his microphone and wished his audience farewell with his performance of ‘Copacabana’, which was as memorable as the man himself.

All in all Showtunes Cabaret offered a fun filled night full of acts worth seeing, even though some were more professional than others. Captain Anchor served his audience a memorable night, and we cannot wait until he does it again.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

Better than Most? Better than Toast!

In Food, Student life on April 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Better than Most? Better than Toast! Picture: Useful Times

Have you ever felt frustrated by your lack of culinary abilities? You have access to a kitchen, and a couple of pots and pans, but no inspiration? What if your parents come visit you? Or your girlfriend? Surely, you wouldn’t serve them beans on toast… would you?

Fret not, because help is coming your way. I am Antonia and my aim is to make you a better cook. All you need is a few ingredients and one simple recipe and you are ready to impress.

Today, I will show you how to make a delicious homemade Bolognese sauce in just 10 minutes! But first, I would like to tell you a bit about pasta and sauces.

Bolognese sauce is named after the city of Bologna in northern Italy, which is where the meaty sauce originated. Up to this day, chefs all over the world are disputing what the most traditional way of making a Bolognese sauce is. From white wine, to cream, to carrots – there is hardly a dish in the world that has chefs scratching their heads quite like this one. But as if the many variations in the sauce weren’t confusing enough, there is one big misconception about Bolognese’s ideal partner.

You could ask anybody in the street about what goes best with Bolognese and they would all say ‘Spaghetti’. The truth is, even though the dish ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ has been a massively successful export, the ‘slidy’ nature of the long Spaghetti isn’t suitable at all for a sauce as rich as Bolognese. Use shaped pasta instead – I use Fusilli in my video – and you will find that the creases and shapes in the pasta give the meat a lot more opportunities to stick to it, therefore making every mouthful a delight. For extra texture, treat yourself to some fancy pasta, like the kind you can find in deluxe ranges of various supermarkets.

But enough talking – let’s get going!

Feeds 4

For this recipe you will need:

500g mince

Half an onion, chopped

1 clove garlic

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato concentrate

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to season

Herbs (optional)

Allow 80-100g of pasta per person

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Film review – Confessions

In Entertainment, Film, Japan on April 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Confessions: A film with high aspirations. Picture: Trisickle.com

Tetsuya Nakashima’s new film Confessions is Japan’s latest horror export ready to shock us senseless with its cruel and emotionless twists and turns. Or at least that’s what the trailer would have you believe. Unlike the trailer, which is in itself a micro-masterpiece, the film lacks urgency and never really succeeds in capturing the audience’s full attention.

Confessions starts in a classroom, with Miss Moriguchi, the teacher, announcing her retirement from teaching due to her four year old daughter’s death. She tells the class of unruly teenagers that her daughter has been murdered by two of her students, and that she has tainted the murderers’ milk with the AIDS-infected blood of her dying husband. The class, after hearing this ghastly confession, turns to screaming and crying and running around in a panic. The first and probably biggest mistake of Nakashima’s Confessions is the initial plotline, which simply does not make any sense. After unknowingly drinking the ‘infected’ milk, the two children start panicking, just as their friends do, who are terrified of coming in contact with the ‘infected’ pair. Despite being set in the real world in the 21st century, none of these things make sense. Everybody perfectly knows that the chances of being infected in this scenario are virtually zero – a flaw that later in the film is even addressed by the main character. Already, after the first few minutes, Confessions stands on wobbly feet.

On paper, Confessions has everything that a good Japanese horror film must have. It has a storyline muddled in revenge and loss, it has murdering teenagers, it has blood, it even has a love story in between. But the raw ingredients don’t make up a meal. The film follows each character individually as they recount their confessions, hence the title. The main problem with this feature is the pace. A potentially good story is ruined by the long and awkward silences in between. The story unfolds almost infuriatingly slowly and instead of following a straight line, more and more characters are added until the whole film feels like one big red herring. The young age of the characters and their teacher’s bad acting doesn’t help in making this film credible. Takako Matsu, who plays the main character Moriguchi, is far too quiet for her role, and her bouts of psychotic laughter seem so out of character that they almost become a parody of what a good Japanese horror is supposed to be.

But the film does have its upsides as well. When credible, most of the story’s twists are surprising and well executed and this film does manage to capture the brutality of murder in a way only Japanese cinema is able to. The scenes, if sometimes needlessly elongated, are beautifully shot and there is a recurring sense of aesthetics throughout the whole film, which adds to the visual experience of the viewer. One of the many side stories is the ‘love’ story between two integral characters, which is probably the best part of the whole film. The chemistry between the two young actors is just right, and in this case the teen angst actually works in their favour. The fact that their characters are both equally disturbed makes it so much more enjoyable to see how they interact with each other.

All in all Confessions is a mediocre film with great aspirations. Unfortunately, it was those aspirations that have made it fall. Do watch it if you are short of things to entertain yourself with, but don’t be disappointed when you can’t find either the brilliance or the gripping story of the likes of Battle Royale. After all, not all Japanese cinema can be exceptional.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

Film review – Blue Valentine

In Entertainment, Film on April 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Blue Valentine is a roller coaster of emotions. Picture: showmovies.org

The critically acclaimed film Blue Valentine is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Following the main characters Dean and Cynthia (beautifully played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) we are invited on a journey we will never forget. Switching between flashbacks and the present, the audience gains more and more insight into the couple’s relationship as the film goes along. This picture thrives on its bluntness and uncomfortable moments, which are only made bearable by the couple’s lighthearted first encounters.

Blue Valentine will make you feel every emotion from sky high to rock bottom and everything in between.

Antonia Landi for Trisickle.

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