Friday, April 24, 2015

Pheaturing Phile Alumni Mike Gent And Pete Donnelly From The Figgs

Hey, welcome to a Friday entry of the Phile. How are you?  In the upcoming issue of Marvel's "All-New X-Men" comic book, author Brian Michael Bendis has the psychic character Jean Grey reveal to Bobby Drake... more commonly known as Iceman that she is aware that he is gay, causing many comic book fans to think about the character for the first time in years. The fact that Iceman is now gay and no one's used the line 'The Iceman Cometh Out' makes me despair, it really does.  Yesterday's speculation that the impending Comcast-Time Warner Merger was in danger of falling apart due to reservations from the FCC has turned out to be right on the money. "Today, we move on," Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement. "I couldn't be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what's next." What's next is almost certainly revenge upon society for not lying down before its ultimate overlord, but in what form that revenge will come remains to be seen. Only about two-in-five U.S. citizens will idiotically believe that the sanctity of their marriage is being destroyed when the U.S. Supreme court almost certainly decides to legalize gay marriage across the according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll and ABC News. This is the lowest percentage of ridiculous opinions on this matter that has been found to date. In an extremely silly and unnecessary op-ed voluntarily written for the New York Times, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced to the world that he is proudly standing in opposition to history, mounting public opinion and probably federal law by opposing the right of one male taxpaying U.S. citizen that he does not know to marry another male taxpaying U.S. citizen. "I hold the view that has been the consensus in our country for over two centuries: that marriage is between one man and one woman," he wrote. "I will not change my faith-driven view on this matter, even if it becomes a minority opinion." A gesture of dumbness of this magnitude must mean he's nearly ready to officially announce his presidential ambitions.  Netflix is not going to let a handful of Native American extras and crew members... who seem to have recently discovered that Adam Sandler movies are offensive in multiple senses of the word put a kink in their plans to bring original Sandler context to the masses via their streaming service. "The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of... but in on... the joke," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to ABC news. This statement is about as respectful to the word "satire" as the movie seems to be to the culture of the Apache people. I can honestly say that the news of Native American actors walking off his set has not changed my opinion of Adam Sandler one bit. I like him... he's funny.  Regular and rigorous exercise really isn't going to do much for your giant gut or big butt if you're heading home and following it up with a pizza and six-pack, according to an article recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. "Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%. However, physical activity does not promote weight loss," the authors write. "You cannot outrun a bad diet." See?! I've been telling my girlfriend for weeks that exercise is useless.  Okay, before we continue I have to mention something that is really cool. Like many people, my childhood was steeped in Muppets. And while I did watch "Sesame Street", "Fraggle Rock", and "Muppet Babies", my favorite Muppet projects were always the ones that were, despite their G rating, a little aged up... like the original Muppet Movie or the prime-time "Muppet Show." Now there's word that ABC is developing a mockumentary-style, "adult" "Muppet Show" reboot, where we'll see more behind-the-scenes of the show (it's being compared to "30 Rock") and into the Muppets' personal lives. The show hasn't been picked up yet, but ABC is considering a full series order, and I'm all like... yeeeaahhh!!! There's no word yet on which specific Muppets the show will focus on, but it's pretty obvious, I think, that there will be a good dose of Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, and Gonzo. And hopefully Statler and Waldorf, Sam the Eagle, And, dare I dream... "Pigs in Space"? I hope that the reboot also keeps the original "Muppet Show"'s tradition of bringing on guest stars. The classic show didn't just have great antics from Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and the rest of the Muppet crew, it also had great late 70s and early 80s performers hosting and doing bits with the Muppets. Like Steve Martin, or Alice Cooper, surrounded by monster Muppets, or Elton John and his talking lunch. The Muppets have done more "adult" entertainment before, too... there was a series of reoccurring sketches on the first season of "Saturday Night Live," known as "The Land of Gorch." The sketches were not well-received, though, and ceased after the first season of the show. The fact that NBC has one "Land of Gorch" sketch online under the heading "Dregs and Vestiges," which I'm pretty sure is a synonym for "We really love this and definitely want you to watch it." Go to YouTube to look it up... but finish this entry of the Phile first. Haha.  So, a movie is coming out or is coming out in China I think called Fungus the Bogeyman. This is 100% real...

I really want to see this movie. If any of you dear readers know where I can get a copy please let me know.  A few days ago I went to Starbucks I found out something I didn't know before. Starbucks wasn't originally called Starbucks. Don't believe me? This is the original logo...

I don't love guns and coffee personally.  So, last week I mentioned the Star Tours trailer. I saw it again and think Disney is putting too much synergy in it.

See what I mean?  I just mentioned the Muppets and that reminded me that earlier this week a frog called a glass frog was found that looked just like Kermit. Take a look...

Well, there's other Muppets who have look-a-likes as well.

Man, that Dr. Oz... Dr. Oz is promising his television audience that he will not give up the hugely successful money-making scheme that has made him a national celebrity in the wake of ten doctors signing a petition for Columbia University to fire him. "I vow to you right here and right now," he told the cameras, "we will not be silenced, we will not give in." Brave, brave words for an rich, rich man. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...

Top Phive Ways Chris Brown Spent His Community Service Hours
5. Cleaned up... his own tray table while on a private jet to Dubai.
4. Mentored at-risk youths... specifically, 19 year old fashion models at risk of dating Chris Brown.
3. Assisted the disabled... by not parking his Lambo in handicapped spots during peak business hours.
2. Worked for a non-profit organization... by updating his Wikipedia page.
And the number one way Chris Brown spent his community service hours...
1. Looked for Rihanna... to hit on her again.  

It's 5:59 am, 85°F and it's Kelly's birthday! Happy Birthday, Kelly!!!

Fuck, I love that picture of her. Okay, so you know I live in Florida, right? well, there are things that happen in Florida that happen nowhere else in the world. That's why I started a pheature called...

This is one of those "only in Florida" stories. Of course, sometimes those stories happen in places besides Florida. But if you ask me, anywhere a sexy grandmother in a bikini is doing a field sobriety test while her grandson watches, there's a little Florida in the air. Forty-nine year old Patricia Ebel refused when cops asked to perform a breathalyzer test, but they were already pretty sure she was drunk. She reeked of booze and couldn't balance on one leg (although she told them she couldn't do that "on a good day"). What's more, she had just rear-ended a parked car in her BMW. And considering her 10-year-old grandson was in the car, they weren't going to let her drive home. A test would later reveal her to be blood alcohol content to be twice the legal limit. Thankfully, the boy was unhurt, although the other driver had to go to the hospital with minor injuries. Ebel is out on bail, but faces DUI charges with a minor in the car. Pretty soon, she might be trading in her rainbow bikini for a prison-issue orange one. She'll probably still look good, though.

Today's guests are two members of one of my favorite bands... The Figgs. They are both Phile Alum who have been here several times separately and now I am happy they are both here at the same time. The Figgs' new album "Other Planes of Here" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Mike Gent and Pete Donnelly.

Me: Hey, guys, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Pete: Very good, thanks.

Mike: Great, Jason, how are you?

Me: I'm doing great. It's so great to have you both here at the same time... with a new Figgs album out. We'll talk about that in a minute. First, I cannot believe it's been ten years since Graham Parker's "Songs of No Consequence" came out. Does it seem that long ago to you?

Mike: Yes, seems like awhile back now. I know Pete mentioned he listened to it recently.

Pete: Yeah, I found it on Amazon Prime, searching for something to listen to while traveling. Even over a phone, the worst way to listen, it still sounded great. GP always delivers and we we're right there with him.

Me: As you both know, and my readers know, I am a huge GP fan and "Songs of No Consequence" is one of my favorite albums from him. It's the only studio album The Figgs played on, right?

Mike: Thanks, Jason. I love the record. Artwork, not so much!! Waiting for Bloodshot or someone to release it on vinyl. It is the only studio record with GP & Figgs. There are a bunch of live records and a DVD we are on. Pete plays bass on "Deepcut To Nowhere," I play drums & some guitars on "Don't Tell Columbus" & "Imaginary Television."

Me: I kinda like the cover artwork. I have to show it here now...

Pete: Jason, I can't say I've heard too many people claim it as a favorite GP record. But I agree. There are songs on there that are arguably as good as any.

Me: He's working with the Rumour again now but do you think you will do another album with him ever?

Mike: I really hope so.

Pete: Yeah. It would be great. I think the Rumour records he's doing are what he should be doing. When the time is right we'll get it together with him.

Me: What are your favorite songs on the album, guys?

Mike: I like them all. "Dislocated Life," "Ambivalent" & "Did Everybody Just Get Old?" stick out for me.

Pete: "Bad Chardonnay," "She Swallows It." Yeah, "Ambivalent."  I love "Local Boys."  Something about it just cracks me up. Graham really knows how to get the story across.

Me: I love the live CD "103 in June" you guys did with Graham. There's another guitarist on that CD, who is it?

Mike: Out of all of the live records with GP, that's my favorite. One of the best shows we have done with him. Great crowd that night. Love the Double Door and always have a great time in Chicago. The other guitar player is Brett Rosenberg. He played with me in Graham Parker & The Latest Clowns. Brett also played with The Figgs for about a year. Then he moved to Nashville to chase his dream of becoming the next Ricky Van Shelton.

Pete: Haha! Yeah, Brett's great. We've often had other people join us, rounding out our sound. That was a fun, sweaty night.

Me: Mike, I know you have been working GP here and there. Have you seen him lately?

Mike: No, I have not seen him for a couple of years. I have been writing some songs with him over email though.

Me: I think it's cool that you both come out with your own solo albums and then get together to record new Figgs albums. So, who wrote the most songs on the new album, or did you both write the songs together?

Mike: We co-wrote some of the songs and also brought some in on our own.

Pete: This record is very much studio album. Some of the songs were written in the studio. Mike and I always have tunes to contribute at the onset, but this record definitely has some good collaboration going on.

Me: A lot of your solo releases and Figgs music, including this new album are available on vinyl. I love vinyl, and I am guessing you both do as well. Do you both collect vinyl records?

Mike: Yes. I have been collecting since I was a little kid in the early 70's. Never stopped.

Pete: Yeah, sure. That was where it all started. It's got mystique and all, the association with formative times. But lot's of vinyl sounds like shit. It's not really about the fidelity so much as the medium. Though I do love it when I've got some good clean vinyl. Nothing like it.

Me: What was your first record purchases and the last, guys?

Mike: Not sure what the first one was but some of the early ones I remember are Beatles "Let It Be," Wings "Hi, Hi, Hi" single, Brownsville Station "Smoking In The Boys Room" single. Today I ordered the third Paul Westerberg "Suicaine Gratifaction" on vinyl.

Me: That's on vinyl? I need to get that. what about you, Pete?

Pete: I'm the youngest in my family. My bro's and sister always had lots of records, as did my parents. I didn't start buying my own 'til i got a stereo at 13. First records I bought were Steely Dan's greatest hits, Allman Bro's "Live at Fillmore," The Who "Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy" and "Led Zeppelin III."  Mike and I, we were just in LA and I bought the most unhip jazz records in the store. everything else is so overpriced. All of them turned out to be great. David Frishberg, Lou Donaldson and Keith Jarrett. I never got into Keith before but this record is unbelievably good.

Me: Mine was actually Graham Parker and the Shot's album on vinyl, but my last CD purchase was Robbie Williams' "Intensive Care." Do you guys like Robbie Williams?

Mike: No, can't say I do. I do know "Steady Nerves" however. Saw them open for Clapton when Graham was touring that record.

Pete: Robbie Williams? Don't know his music. I've heard of him for sure.

Me: The Figgs' could do a rocking version of his song "Make Me Pure." Okay, so, let's talk about "Other Places of Here." How did that album get that title?

Mike: "Other Planes Of Here."

Me: Haha. You're right. I'm an idiot.

Mike: That's Pete's title, Pete?

Pete: It's a Sun Ra reference. The music seemed kinda other worldly, so it was a natural connection to make.

Me: And who did the great artwork on the cover?

Mike: That is an artist here in Boston that I really like. Nicole Anguish.

Me: There's a song on the new album called "Keith and the Buddha." Is that Keith Urban you are singing about? Haha. I know, it's probably Keith Richards. Who wrote that song and what is the story behind it?

Mike: Keith Urban? Nice hair and wife, but not interesting enough to have a song written about him! I wrote that with our friend John Powhida. We were going for an Urge Overkill vibe.

Me: When you guys play solo concerts, do you throw a Figgs song in the checklist, and when you do a Figgs stuff do you throw in solo stuff?

Mike: Yes to both. I love the idea of being able to throw any song into the set, whether we wrote it or not. The possibilities are endless.

Pete: Yup, the music is to be played.

Me: You have been known to play a few covers in your sets as well. What are some of the covers you have done?

Mike: "Black Lincoln Continental."

Pete: "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Momma."

Me: You know, you should cover a Foghat song. Whatcha think?

Mike: Sure! The first record is great. Produced by Dave Edmunds, but you already know this, Jason. Also really like "Stone Blue." I've had "Fool For The City" and "Live" since I was a kid. We covered their version of "I Just Want To Make Love To You" in the early 90s.

Pete: There you go.

Me: Do you both have the same tastes in music?

Mike: I think so. That's one of the reasons we hit it off. We had a lot of the same taste and we were both discovering stuff together. Our ears were really open to anything and we usually agreed on what we thought was good enough for repeat listening. When we lived together, I think Pete bought more of the out there stuff, and a lot of jazz.

Pete: Yeah. Having brothers and Mike and other people around collecting music, I naturally gravitated towards what wasn't already covered in our collective record collections. Yes, we all had a lot of the same records, but it was more economical and exciting to look outside of what we already knew was good. Still doing it.

Me: Mike, I have to ask you about The Gentlemen. That's the other band you're in, right? Or were in?

Mike: Yes. We still exist.

Me: Who was in that band with you?

Mike: Three guys from the New Haven band The Gravel Pit. Lucky Jackson, Pete Caldes, and Ed Valauskas.

Me: Ed... he's a Phile Alum as well. Okay, so, what's next for the both of you? Any new solo stuff? 

Mike: Figgs are working on a new record. I have a new band called The Needy Sons with Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom). That band is working on a record with Dave Minehan (The Neighborhoods, The Replacements) at his studio. My solo band The Rapid Shave are also in the middle of recording. Hahaha! Busy.

Pete: Always making records. That's what we do. I started and indie duo band with Shelby Lynne. We're called The Marbulls.

Me: Cool! As you both know, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you both ready? Which of your ancestors would you most like to meet?

Mike: Probably my dad's father. My grandfather died when I was maybe 3 or 4.

Pete: My dad's parents I did get to know, but I would have liked to been at their house in the 40s and 50s. They hosted a lot of writers and artists that we're guests of the University of Michigan. Seems like such a cool time.

Me: Thanks, guys, for being on the Phile again, at the same time this time. All the best, and please come back again soon. Take care.

Mike: Thanks Jason. Always a pleasure to chat.

Pete: Cheers!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Mike Gent and Pete Donnelly. The Phile will be back on Monday with British music legend Boz Boorer. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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