Monday, December 26, 2011

Pheaturing Declan Harrington From Shibuya Crossings

Hello, everybody, welcome to another Monday entey of the Phile. It's Boxing Day, so put up your dukes. Actually, Boxing Day is traditionally a day following Christmas when wealthy people and homeowners in the United Kingdom would give a box containing a gift to their servants. That's what Wikipedia says anyway. It is actually a day when a husband asks his wife hfight over how much money was spent over the holidays. Well, did you have a good Christmas? Was Santa good to you? We had the best Christmas ever. Logan got Nerf guns and LEGO's, I got Blu-rays and CD's and Jen got a Tebow t-shirt and his book. And we all got Miranda Lambert, BB King and the Globetrotter's tickets. No, they're not playing the same show. It was a great Christmas, kids. The Pope came out again this week against materialism. He says for Christmastime, instead of giving material presents, you should give of yourself. You can really tell the Pope's not married, can't you? Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Obama a clown and an embarrassment. You don't talk about our president that way. Our vice president, sure, that would be fine. According to the census bureau, the number of women getting pregnant is at its lowest rate in 70 years. So, apparently that NBA strike had a bigger effect on America than we thought. Congrats to Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma. They have given birth to a baby boy. He posted a photo of the new baby on Twitter, but people are afraid to open it. They embalmed Kim Jong Il and they put him under glass. And I'm telling you, this would be a much better joke if Regis was still working. Right before Christmas, President Barack Obama went out and did some shopping. He took the entire White House Press Corps with him, but still he's out there boosting the economy... the Chinese economy but still, he's doing what he can, ladies and gentlemen. Well, as I just mentioned at the beginning of this entry, it is Boxing Day in England, the UK and Australia. I was very excited when I saw this boxing inspired inspirational poster that I have to share with you. 

That has nothing to do with Boxing Day, but it's hot, right? Well, Christmas might be over, but it's still Hannukah. Did you know that the Jews have their own super hero? This is so cool, check it out.

I wish I knew what his name was, kids. Does anybody know? Well, I don't think there's gonna be a Christmas next year if the Mayans got it right. Which is okay, as Santa has a terrible accidemt yesterday. Did you see the picture of it? No? Good, then this is a Peverett Phile exclusive. 

So, 2011 is almost over and on the Phile I've been going over some major news stories of this year with the help of LEGO and today I have two stories. Fighting continued in Libya between anti-Gaddafi forces and loyalists as the rebels mount a massive attack on Gaddafi's forces in Sirte.

The second story is the one where a Sydney teenager was trapped in her home for 10 hours after a suspicious device was attached around her neck. The suspected bomb was only discovered to be a fake after the lengthy ordeal.


I don't even remember that story. Oh, well. Anyway, now for...

Johannes Heesters
Dec 5, 1903 - Dec 24, 2011
Some of his big hits were "Liebling, was wird nun aus uns beiden", "Ich werde jede Nacht von ihnen träumen", and "Tausendmal möchte' ich dich küssen" - all of which translate into "I'm a fucking Nazi".



Chipwrecked is a mind-numbing piece of uninspired baloney, meant only to pacify hyperactive children. I never laughed once at the Chipettes in towels talking about "whipping [their] tail[s] back and forth" like furry Willow Smiths, or the dated Castaway references, or the cockeyed pelican skulking around a Carnival cruise ship spilling gravy in Jason Lee's lap. The only time my mouth even vaguely turned up in a smile was when Theodore, my favorite of the Chipmunks, went bungee jumping and because he was so heavy, ended up falling headfirst into the sand. That poor little cutie, he just likes eating so much. Anyway, this movie is so lackluster that it made the previous two films look like Academy Award winners. The first movie made me laugh. The second one, less so, but they both had plots that were relatively interesting and they had moments that generated real emotions. I was aghast at how selfish Alvin was, reveled in Brittany's beauty, and felt compassion for the other chipmunks because they were chubby or had glasses. Jason Lee appeared to be pleased with himself, participating in family friendly flicks and using his strong vocal cords in the timeless role of the Chipmunks' human caregiver Dave. Those were the glory days. Back when animated movies about singing vermin had a soul. Or at least comparatively. Chipwrecked is just a series of dizzying bits... a dance competition, skating on the deck of a cruise ship, fighting over a mango, etc. This means your kids are going to be moderately engaged, as per usual with anything brightly colored and adorably high-pitched. But you, as their human caregiver, are going to be checking your watch. The Chipmunks and Chipettes are supposed to perform at the International Music Awards, so they take a cruise there, but of course Alvin ruins it by getting them all stranded on a desert island instead, while Dave and a surprising companion desperately try to find them. It's so empty that it pales in comparison to the sophisticated-yet-adorable writing we've become spoiled with lately in our animated movies. That gleam in Jason Lee's eye has glazed over, suggesting that now daddy needs a seventh Maserati so he is compartmentalizing the pain away. I don't think every animated movie has to be made by Pixar or Dreamworks to be worth watching. I just want it to stir something inside of me. There are about 800,000 better ways to spend your time. Even if you need a break from making popsicle stick crafts with the kids, go see something that has a soul... and there are plenty this holiday season. I'm sorry Theodore, your dazzling green eyes are usually enough to make me go "aww" as you eat too many donuts. This time though, I wish you and all your friends had stayed adrift at sea so you could never bore anyone again. From 1 to ten, it gets a 3, and nope, I will not be buying it.

Tintin lives in the Uncanny Valley. For the uninitiated, that's the mysterious land where computers give birth to movie characters that are supposed to look like real people. That they never quite achieve that goal often results in distraction, annoyance, repulsion, creepy feelings and rage on the part of more easily unnerved audience members. The ugly children and Aerosmith elves of The Polar Express live in the Uncanny Valley, too. So do most of the characters from the blisteringly unpleasant version of A Christmas Carol in which Jim Carrey was Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey didn't look so bad, though). Jar Jar Binks doesn't live in the Uncanny Valley. Jar Jar Binks lives in movie prison. Everybody who starred in the Chipmunks movie lives there, too, and they're actual people. The latter crew will eventually get time off for good behavior but Jar Jar is a lifer. Tintin didn't have to live in the Uncanny Valley. Steven Spielberg forced him to live there against his will. Tintin's a comic character, after all, and it's not like anyone ever tried to turn him into a real boy before. Even the vintage animated TV shows he starred in were faithful to his cartoon-face. Expressive human details were never part of the bargain. So if you're going to blame somebody for the moments where everybody on screen looks like they're made of Silly Putty, go to the Pinocchio-obsessed man in charge. Having said all that, the technology is slowly, inch by digital inch, catching up with the creative desires of performance capture's true believers. Because more than any other movie that has tried, Tintin fails the least, mostly because the action never calms down long enough to give its adventuring Boy Reporter a chance to have more than 1.5 seconds of thoughtful facial expression in the first place. He's got a mystery to solve and a treasure waiting at the end of it. So off he goes with his exceptionally alcoholic pal Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), racing the globe together in search of clues and signposts that will guide them to the loot. They employ every time of transportation available and, when that fails then, they fly by the seats of their pants. Now, let's say you grew up on the Indiana Jones movies. And let's say you worship those movies. You're the audience who'll be least impressed here. It's aiming for that level of excitement and thrill, and Tintin can physically maneuver himself into spaces that flesh-and-blood Indy can't, but that also means there's less at stake. When a giant boulder threatens to squash Harrison Ford, you get nervous. When a cartoon facsimile aims for a cartoon victim, the stakes just aren't as high. That means you get the pleasure of a movie where the camera can go places a real one can't, and that's solidly entertaining to witness. It's never boring, not too long, un-obnoxious and doesn't get too preachy about its drunken sailor. Not to damn it with meaninglessness, but it's a decent example of the "pretty good" family film, the kind of efficiently generated entertainment that results in a reasonably satisfying consumer experience while you're engaged with its 107 minutes of nonstop action. But in the end it's made of air and code, a machine at heart, so don't expect to carry it home in yours. But I give it a ten, and will be buying it, and I hope there's a sequel.


The 8th artist to be pheatured on the P.P.A.G. is Phile Alumni and musician Alexis White. This is one of her works of art.


Alexis will be a guest on the Phile on Sunday.

Todays guest is the lead singer and guitarist for the England based band Shibuya Crossings whose new album "DOYA" is now available on iTunes, and on Amazon. Please welcome to the Phile, from the great band Shibuya Crossings... Declan Harrington.

Me: Hello, Declan, and welcome to the Phile. I have to tell you, I am a BIG fan of your band Shibuya Crossings. How are you?

Declan: I'm good and thanks.

Me: Where did the band name come from?

Declan: It came as I walked across the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo at 5am after a night out. During the day literally hundreds of thousands of people walk across there, but at 5am it was empty and I was the only one there. It was really bright, the sun was shining like a scene from Vanilla Sky. I pretty much decided there and then my next band would use the name

Me: Have you been to America yet?

Declan: Yes,I've been to America. New York, San Fran and Vegas. My wife is from Toronto so have been there a zillion times too. Go Leafs! Ahem.

Me: Shibuya Crossings is one of my new favorite bands. I love the song "At Eight in a Spanish Bar". It reminds me of the Fountains of Wayne. Have you heard of them?

Declan: Yes I have, great band. I haven't heard them in a while, you've now put "Radiation Vibe" on the turntable in my mind. Thanks :)

Me: What music are you guys into? Who are your influences?

Declan: It's mostly guitar based music but the sound of the band is mainly influenced by 90's indie and alternative stuff like Teenage Fanclub, Pavement, Weezer, Lemonheads but there's a bit of rock, punk, pop and 60's in there too. My top 5 artists are probably The Beatles, The Smiths, Teenage Fanclub, Neil Young and Motley Crue is definitely a guilty pleasure, especially the first 2 albums. Currently I'm listening to Laura Marling, Ryan Adams, Wilco and Ariel Pink. We like some electro stuff like Kraftwerk, Postal Service, etc too.

Me: Let's talk about the band, who is in it? You started out with four members and now have three, right?

Declan: Yep, Gareth moved back to New Zealand before the album was released. We decided to stay as a 3 piece leaving myself, Rob Toshman on bass and Ian Escario on drums

Me: You guys are from all different places. How did you all meet? And where are you guys from?

Declan: I initially met Gareth through a friend and fellow New Zealander Richard Knowler who helped a lot with the first album. We then put up ads online and they were answered by Rob from Barnet, North London and Ian from the Philippines among others. I'm originally from Northern Ireland.

Me: You're based in London, right? What part? I was born in Balham.

Declan: Ah, that's interesting. I live in Islington, Rob in Barnet and Ian in Whitechapel. We usually tell people we're based in Islington as our rehearsal space and a lot of venues we play in are around there. London is a great place to live if you're into music.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your great album "DOYA". What does the album title mean?

Declan: It's an acronym for "Depend on Your Alter-Ego". A lot of the songs are narrative and observational from the outside looking in. I think the title flips that around maybe by hinting that the 'in' could be the subconscious in some cases. There's basically a different lyrical journey compared to the first album and we wanted to reflect that in the title. 

Me: It's a great album, guys. I mentioned the song "At Eight in a Spanish Bar' and I love the video for it. But... it is not based in a Spanish bar at all, it's based around speed dating. Who came up with that concept?

Declan: It was originally going to be based in a Spanish/Cuban bar but circumstances dictated that to be impossible. It's just too expensive to hire a bar for something like this. They want you out before they open, they have to put a memeber of staff on to keep an eye on you, it was too much hassle in the end and would've compromised the video I think. The speed dating idea was from a director called Gavin Randall at Melting Point Media, we took a little persuading at the beginning but the idea worked really well in the end. We're very happy with it and think he did a great job

Me: It's well done, with all the different characters. Which girl character is your favorite?

Declan: Sophie's kinda cute isn't she? I also like the girl in the Smiths t-shirt for obvious reasons, I'm not sure of her name though. The tarot card woman and the emotional girl are really funny as well.

Me: Are you guys gonna be making any more videos?

Declan: Definitely, it's pretty essential these days. Forget getting played on MTV, the online exposure with them is great. From an artistic point of view there's something quite satisfying about marrying your music with film. They both can enhance one another in a lot interesting ways. We think our next single is going to be "Gamla Stan" and I have an idea about heading over to Stockholm with a bunch of flip cams and re-enacting at least some of the story. The plan is to have beer involved, could get messy. Check out our YouTube Channel: youtube.com/shibuyacrossings we have 3 other songs with videos there too.

Me: "DOYA" is your second album, right? What was the name of your first album?

Declan: "Songs For Lovesick Teenagers".

Me: Are they similar styles of music?

Declan: Yes and No. "SFLT" has some great moments on it but "DOYA" is more consitent and refined. You can hear some of the albu at shibuyacrossings.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-lovesick-teenagers and judge for yourself.

Me: You guys got some airplay on Radio 1, which is cool. I loved Radio 1 back in the 80's when I lived in England. Steve Wright was the greatest. Do you guys listen top a lot of Radio 1?

Declan: Not anymore, it's not the same as it used to be and very chart oriented during the day. A bit of the station died along with John Peel I think. Huw Stephens, Zane Lowe and Rory McConnell all still have great specialist shows in the evenings though. BBC 6 Music is gaining popularity in the indie circles right now, you've got XFM as well I suppose. I generally don't listen to radio that much anymore, podcasts, blogs and word of mouth suit me better these days

Me: One of your songs was featured in a UK TV commercial already. What is the product and do you get a kick out of the song being used that way?

Declan: We definitely got a kick out of it, being our the first time we'd had anything like that. The product was actually a trailer for an Australian soap called "Home & Away". I doubt many of you in the US will have heard of it, but you might have being from the UK. They ran it for about 10 days on the terrestrial Channel 5. It's tough being in a band right now, so this definitely gave us a shot in the arm. Unfortunately it's one of the few ways left that artists can make a little bit of money so you have to grab it with both hands, and of course it raises your profile as well.

Me: You guys also did a cover of Protex's song "Don't Ring Me Up" but that's not on your album. Was it for a Protex tribute band?

Declan: It was for a compilation that is yet to be released called "Time to be Proud" which will celebrate the history of Belfast label Good Vibrations. I believe Snow Patrol, Ash and Therapy? recorded tracks for it as well.

Me: For readers that don't know, tell them who Protex was. How did you pick that song?

Declan: Protex were a band from the Northern Irish punk scene in the late seventies. Some of their more well known peers would have been the Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers. Bands like the Clash used to come over to Belfast to experience the scene there as there was such a buzz. There is a great book by Good Vibrations founder Terri Hooley called "Hooleygan" which is well worth a read and describes life in Belfast at the time and focuses on the punk scene then. "Don't Ring Me Up" was I think Protex's only hit in the UK and was one of 3 songs we had to choose from for the compilation. It sounded like it would be the most fun to do and indeed it was.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile, Declan, I am a huge fan an hope you come back again real soon. Are you planning on touring America as well?

Declan: Thanks, it has been a lot of fun. Unfortunately as yet, we have no plans to tour the US. Maybe we will when the next album is done. There is a chance we will play one or two American dates next year though. We'd love to come over and play for you guys definitely - will keep you posted.

Me: Go ahead and plug your website and I wish you great luck in 2012 and onwards.

Declan: The site is shibuyacrossings.com and is the place to find out all about us. If you join our mailing list you'll get a couple of free downloads as a thank you, so well worth a visit. Best of luck with the Phile, I've enjoyed reading it a lot.



There you go, that's this entry done. Thanks to Declan for a great interview. Shibuya Crossings a great band. The Phile will be back on Wednesday which will be the last entry of 2011. The guest will be Erica Monzon, the lead singer for the band Ledaswan. Then next Sunday it's arist and Alumni Alexis White and on Monday it's Michael Arcos from the band Jane Jane Polluck. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.




1 comment:

RyoXander said...

hei admin..I'm interested about the picture of the women punch..could you give me the source or links to it?
thanks.....

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