Okay, this is the last Steve Jobs thing I will mention... for this entry anyway. I don't know who put this poster out, but I doubt it was Apple.
And now for the new pheature called...
Holy crap, look at that thing. We were hoping that was just a tiny trash can but, no, it's a coconut crab, which is the biggest arthropod that lives on land. I'd like to know how they chose the innocuous name "coconut crab" to describe something that can only be killed with a flamethrower. If these things were called "Skull Crabs" or "Under Your Bed Crabs" mankind would have declared war on them long ago.
This year has seen some surprisingly thought-provoking movies. I've lost count of the times that I have had to decompress after a film, discussing what a film really means, man over a bottle of cream soda. Just in case you're like me and your brain hurts a little bit from all this contemplation in 2011, you can sleep easy knowing that Real Steel will not make you think at all. The only thoughts you have will be ones like "Hey, cool, robots are fighting each other," and "Wow, Hugh Jackman looks great doing that jab-jab-uppercut combination." This movie came out of nowhere and gut-punched me with joy. The premise sounds a little hokey... Hugh Jackman plays Charlie, a washed-up boxer in the future who has to hustle in order to live. Instead of doing something classy like sell drugs, he operates remote control boxing robots in the ring against any opponent as long as there's a purse involved (the film opens with his robot fighting a bull). He gets unexpectedly reunited with his son Max (Dakota Goyo) who is supposed to stay home with his longtime friend and sometimes lover Bailey (Evangeline Lily), but of course he is too sassy to stay put and comes along. They end up procuring a very special robot named Atom that takes the robot boxing world by storm. Yeah, I know. It's a little bit like The Wrestler combined with notes of Curly Sue and The Last Action Hero. But it works really, really well. Sure, we've seen the story before. Anytime a movie gets close to being familiar, I roll my eyes unless something is going on that infuses it with new energy. Here, that energy belongs to Dakota Goyo. He is quite an extraordinary kid, and comes across great onscreen. He is precocious without being annoying, funny, and matches Hugh Jackman's chops at every turn. Onscreen it appears as though Jackman is having a great time working with such a little powerhouse, which translates to it being fun for the audience too. Here's another huge reason this movie was awesome: the robots are mostly animatronic. In a world polluted with fakey-fake graphics and green screens, seeing a real, big ole robot take a swing at another real, big ole robot really got my heart pumping. An actual robot on the screen immediately made the movie feel full of life, as opposed to the tinny, hollow result of the latest and greatest software demonstrations most films employ. There's only one thing about the movie: The tone is a little weird. It's not quite an adult's movie, and might be a little mature for some kids. I would take the PG-13 rating very seriously on this one, but I think most people will be happy watching metal against metal, along with an impromptu dance number. It's a perfectly fun movie that won't strain your brain. From 1 to 10 it gets a 10, and yeah, I will be buying it when it comes out.
Today's guest is a member of a cool indie band YAWN based in Chicago whose new EP "Open Season" is out now and available on iTunes. They'll next be be appearing tonight in Richmond, Virginia at the Canal Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Daniel Perzan.
Me: Hello, Daniel, welcome to the Phile. How are you?
Daniel: Hey-yo... good, still in a bit of a drunken haze.
Me: I have to ask you about the band name. When I first heard your music I was expecting something boring, but you guys are not boring. Where did the band name come from and what's with the capitol letters? It is YAWN, not Yawn, right?
Daniel: Yes, we had a different name once, it was rife with meanings we didn't care for, so we decided on something that was just simple. We figured a lot of bands didn't want to be associated with a name like YAWN for the exact reason... but once you capitalized it, it looked like it really popped on your iTunes playlist.
Me: Yawn is something people do when they normally read the Phile, so I hope you guys will have an opposite effect. Who is in the band, guys?
Daniel: 4 dudes... Jorge, myself, Adam and Sam.
Me: The band is based in Chicago, right? Are you all from there?
Daniel: Yeah, 2 of us born... all of us raised. Jorge and I we were born outside of the US... where you may ask!? Well we'll keep our audiences guessing!
Me: Your latest release "Open Season" is your second release... didn't you have an EP out before it?
Daniel: Yeah. self-titled EP we blasted it for free on the internet, if you haven't heard it.... www.yawntheband.com its there. We even had a remix contest, that yielded some really cool remixes from artists as far away as Germany.
Me: Did you learn a lot after making your EP?
Daniel: Yeah, tons. Just by means of learning programs, recording techniques, uses of all sorts of plugins to really give you a spatial feel for all the sounds. We really went sound design with some of the songs (you can hear toothbrushes, shower curtains and just randomness recorded). Plus it was an eye opener, with todays technology... its DIY or Die!!! Unless you have a lot of money, then that's cool.
Me: You guys went off and played in Germany when the band first got together, right? Did you have fun over there? How long were you there?
Daniel: It was a great time! Germany is beautiful. We won a competition to go over there and play in the Taubertal Open Air festival, all expenses paid. So we bought really crappy guitars, played a mediocre show, then ditched the guitars and went backing through Europe. Easily the best decision.
Me: Where was "Open Season" recorded, guys? The first album was recorded in a basement at somebody's house, am I right?
Daniel: The first EP was recorded in my and Adam's apartment, in the basement and in our rooms. The second started there as well, and we finished it in Sam's parents basement.
Me: Like so many bands and musicians I had here on the Phile, you kids played at SXSW. How was that experience? Do you prefer to play at a small club or a big outdoor show?
Daniel: SXSW is great, and we got lucky enough to play Fader Fort, which is probably the coolest free outdoor show going on in Austin. To be honest we never played outdoor fests where there is a large enough crowd to really be into it. Small clubs, when you pack them, and the place get dancing... its a beautiful thing.
Me: You just played in Orlando at the Social, and I had to work so missed. Ever been to Orlando before?
Daniel: I have... and I think Sam has as well. I have some family there. Really never got to see the city as much, it was always the theme parks. Which I promise I didn't this time.
Me: I have to ask you about the album cover. I was expecting it to be a picture of a bear and a deer but it is not. Who did the artwork?
Me: Hahaha, is that common now a days? Sam's moms good friend Mary Lou Zelazny did it. She does great work. We liked it because it does what we do with music, combine samples with organic material. If you look closely you can tell parts of her are just cut outs from like National Geographic or something.
Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile. I wish you lots of success and I hope you will come back when the next album comes out. Do you have a website you'd like to plug?
Daniel: Yeah! yawntheband.com. Thanks so much, dood! See you in Orlando next time!
Well, that about does it for this entry. Thanks to Daniel for a good interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with jazz saxophonist Rich Halley, and then on Monday it's Shelly Fairchild. Spread the word not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.