Saturday, April 18, 2015

Pheaturing Rex Haberman From War Poets

Hey there, welcome to the Phile. How's it going? What a week its been... Star Wars! Avengers! Batman V Superman! It truly is a great time to be a virgin. I of course am not a virgin. I have a son... There's papers to prove it. Anyway, did you see the new Star Wars trailer? Only beef I have with the Star Wars trailer is when Chewie lowered his shades, looked at the camera and said, "Where's dat space pussy?" It was an odd moment. If you haven't seen it I'll save you guys two minutes... it's just the characters choosing teams for a pick-up basketball game. Wish I could say that watching the new Star Wars trailer marked the first time I've cried while having a boner. It was good to see some familiar faces in the trailer.

Hahaha. I crack myself up sometimes.  Let's talk about some other movie news... A crappy, camera-phone version of the full two-minute trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice... which wasn't supposed to be officially released until next week has already been uploaded to the Internet. So, if you want to be introduced to the first real footage from next summer's most anticipated movie in the least pleasant way possible, simply go to YouTube. But finish this entry of the Phile first, will ya?  In the wake of Thursday's surprise release of the second teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the excitement generated by it, Disney's stocks rose by approximately one percent. That doesn't sound like much, but it's the equivalent of about two billion dollars or twelve parsecs.  ESPN reporter Britt McHenry has publicly apologized for being stupid enough to get caught on tape acting like herself and berating a towing company employee, thus requiring her employer to suspend her for a full week. "In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things," she unconvincingly explained via Twitter before beginning her unexpected seven-day vacation.  A bunch of jealous human doctors... who have not yet discovered how to harness the immense weight-losing power of green coffee bean extract or how to be factually accurate on television nearly half of the time are demanding that Columbia University relieve Dr. Mehmet Oz from his faculty position. The university, however, has bravely decided to stand by its cash cow. I'm an optimist so I see the Dr Oz show as "half-accurate." Haha. That's really not true. I'm a pessimist really.  More than 20,000 people have already applied for citizenship in the brand new 2.7-square-mile nation of Liberland, located in unclaimed territory between Serbia and Croatia. The micronation boasts no military and has a "passive defense" policy toward aggression from neighboring states. Based upon everything we know of Eastern European history and politics, this country will last for a thousand years.  Do you kids like Pokemon? All that time I thought they were from Japan but really they are from the same place I'm from... England. Don't believe me? Check it out.

Fuckmented Shitjizzle?  Thinking of Superman, I like the old Christopher Reeves Superman movies so much better. But I don't like his original costume they were gonna have him wear. Did you ever see it? No? Well, I have it right here.

I don't like it one bit.  Alright, I live in Florida as you know and in Florida some strange things happen that would not happen anywhere else in the world. So, that's why I started a pheature called...

You take certain risks when you live near the beach... hurricanes, tidal waves, the cutthroat local taffy-pullers union. Sharks generally aren't a problem unless you swim out really far, or if you live in the town from Jaws. Or if you live in Bonita Springs, Florida. The city's Hickory Avenue is lined with condos that jut up right next to a calm backwater bay. Residents can dip their toes into the ocean or go for a swim, except they shouldn't do that anymore because an eight foot long bull shark has been trolling the bay. Residents claim that no-good, lousy fisherman have been "chumming"... throwing fish guts into the water nearby to attract bigger fish. Hickory Avenue residents asked the city to tell people to stop throwing fish guts into the water, on account of the shark, so did the city post some "no fishing" signs and drag the shark away in fin-cuffs? Nope. A representative for Bonita Springs told beachfront property owners to call the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with their concerns, because the coastline is the agency's jurisdiction. But residents shouldn't get their hopes up about the shark going away anytime soon, because it's perfectly legal to chum on the beach in Florida. Florida: Where You Can Throw Fish Guts in the Water and Have a Shark in Your Backyard!

"We're gonna need a bigger fence."

Everyone has probably seen this before but just in case you haven't... if you spot the Mindphuck let me know.

The 37 book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The author, Rich Bernatovich, will be a guest on the Phile on Monday.

Today's guest is the lead singer of the very cool band War Poets whose new EP "Searching for the American Dream" is now on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Rex Haberman.

Me: Hey there, Rex, how are you, sir? Welcome to the Phile.

Rex: Doing very well, thanks. Thank you for having me.

Me: Okay, we have two of your music projects to talk about. Let's start off with Light Over There. That's a duo with you and a young woman from Ireland named Aileen Henderson, am I right? I have to see if she wants to be interviewed for the Phile. What do you think?

Rex: Yes, that’s correct. Aileen Henderson is from Galway, Ireland. I’m sure she’d be happy to be interviewed by the Phile.

Me: Light Over There is more a country sound, and your other band War Poets is a rock band. What made you go off and do two projects that are different, Rex?

Rex: When Aileen and I began to write songs, I could tell that she definitely had a country feel to her style. That guided us for the most part in terms of genre. Historically, I’ve written many country songs and rock songs, so it wasn’t a stretch for me to write in a more Americana style with Aileen. Aileen and I met through Twitter and after exchanging several messages we decided to try to write some songs. I sent her lyrics for "Solitude Gratitude" and she sent me back a demo that showed me how talented this young woman is. After that, we traded songs ideas until we finally came up with 5 songs and those are on the EP "Light Over There."  

Me: What do you prefer? Rock or country?

Rex: I like both but I am a rocker and I want our songs to have a message that is clear and takes a stand on today’s important issues. So maybe rock with a social message is what I prefer.

Me: You're from Minneapolis, am I right? I guess you grew up listening to one of my favorite bands... The Replacements. Did you ever see them live or meet Paul Westerberg?

Rex: I am from Minneapolis, well actually we live in St Paul. The Replacements are Twin Cities icons. One of our producers, Kevin Bowe, has done a lot of work with Paul and the band. I have seen them live, they’re great.

Me: Okay, back to Light Over There. You have an EP out under that name, Rex. Where was it recorded? Did you fly Aileen over from Ireland?

Rex: The EP was released on St Patrick’s Day (of course). We recorded simultaneously in Ireland and at Drum Farm Studio in Menomonie, WI over several days in the fall of 2014. We did a basic instrumental track, then we’d send an mp3 file to Aileen’s producer, she record her vocals, and they’d upload her WAV vocal files to a data transfer site that we would download and put into our session files. So no we didn’t fly Aileen here to record.

Me: So, where did you meet her? Twitter? She's a lot younger than you. Haha.

Rex: Last summer, War Poets followed Aileen on Twitter. She sent a Twitter message asking us to view her YouTube videos. I did and subsequently sent her a message on Twitter about how good it sounded. We traded a few more messages then agreed to start co-writing. She is 18 years old and still in high school, graduating in June, so yes she is younger than me. One of the great things about music is that the spirit of the song can transcend generational, gender, racial, and religious differences. In our case, our music comes from a lot of hard work where we both respect and admire each other’s talents. The age difference doesn’t really matter.

Me: She has a really good voice, doesn't she?

Rex: She has one of the most unique and beautiful voices I have ever heard. She reminds me so much of Stevie Nicks and also of Bonnie Raitt. She is easy to listen to and spurs the listener to sing along. This kind of voice doesn’t come along very often.

Me: So, will you be working with her again, Rex?

Rex: There’s always that chance. We’ll see what happens with this release and see how our schedules shape up. I have loved working with her and would always support her in any way I could, so if that’s to write more songs with her then great. If it’s to watch her become a star, that’s great too.

Me: One of the Light Over There songs called "Where Memories Live" is a song about dementia. Yup, that's how I think I'm gonna die. What made you decide you write a song about that disease? It's not the happiest of subjects.

Rex: It’s not a happy topic, but it’s one that people, especially young people, need to be aware of and think about within their own families. We’ve taken elderly people out of their homes and placed them where they don’t want to be. We’ve seen American seniors lose autonomy and self-respect as they lose their family connections. In past times, elderly people were looked up to as being wise and their life experiences helped younger people make better decisions. Now it seems we no longer depend on that wisdom. For "Where Memories Live", my wife asked me to write a song about it because her stepfather has pretty bad Alzheimer’s Disease. I wrote the lyrics and sent them to Aileen. She did a masterful job writing the music and singing it. In the video, it is not all sadness. We show that there can be laughter too. The lyric hook is: to understand you I must be you. That is referring to the nearly impossible task of loved ones trying to understand the loss of the person suffering, not physical loss but instead the cognitive loss.

Me: Okay, let's talk about War Poets. Where did that band name come from?

Rex: We named the band after Wilfred Owen who wrote the classic 1918 poem "Dulce et Decorum Est." He was the first war poet. We wanted a literary term for the band name and since I write about social issues, it only seemed right that war protesting would be a potential source of a name. War Poets came to be when we realized that name describes us really well.

Me: A war poet is a real thing, I think, am I right?

Rex: Yes, indeed. They write poems about the tragedies of war and for the most part are protests of war and its inherent savagery.

Me: War Poets have been compared to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and another of my favorite bands... Social Distortion. Who would you compare War Poets to?

Rex: I think Dylan and Springsteen are what we’d compare ourselves to. Also, Tom Petty.

Me: So, who is in the War Poets with you, Rex?

Rex: War Poets is made up of myself, Jonny James (guitar, vocals), Maureen McFarlane (keyboards, vocals), Mike Menard (bass), Whelan Keenan (drums), Park Evans (guitar), and Jacy Smith (vocals, keyboards).

Me: Don't you have a someone who played with Kelly Clarkson in the band? Just wondering...

Rex: Joe Baldridge from Nashville is one of our producers. He has worked with Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Josh Groban, and many other well known Nashville stars. Joe has 5 Grammys to his credit and is a super talented producer. He and Kevin Bowe produced all the songs on the American issues trilogy: "American Police State", "Hot and Cold: American Relationships", and "Searching for the American Dream."  

Me: You do have two cute girls in the band, so good job there, Rex. Haha.

Rex: Yes, we do and we’re very fortunate to have them. They’re great musicians and very important to the band’s success.

Me: I love the EP "Searching for the American Dream", but this is not the bands only release. In a short time you have released a lot of music, right?

Rex: Thanks for the kind comment. Since November of 2012, we have released 5 records.

Me: Are you constantly writing, Rex?

Rex: Yes, although it comes in spurts. I call it writing mode. I’ll write 3 to 5 songs then stop for a while. I’ve always been that way. Of course the vast majority never make it to the studio. I have a backlog of songs that I want to record, but can’t seem to figure out where they should go. Some songs are clearly going to be recorded, some are not. I have also collaborated recently with a French author that writes fantasy stories. She has allowed me to take lines from her writings and adapt them to lyrics. We’ve recorded two of those songs and are about to record 3 more.

Me: So, what do you think the American dream is?

Rex: The American dream is finding a sense of fairness in life where ones work and contributions are not measured by financial success but by their own self-satisfaction and self worth. Too many people are being swept aside from the insatiable American appetite for money.

Me: You have a song called "Sarah" on the EP. I thought I can send that song to my girlfriend Sarah but I don't think the lyrics are appropriate. Who is the Sarah you are singing about and what is that song about?

Rex: Sarah is a fictitious character. The song, Sarah, is about two people who love each other in a non-traditional sense. They live their lives separate and together, but Sarah is trying to find the American dream, and the other, who believes he’s reached it, wants to take her along but realizes it’s too complicated. The challenge to the listener is to not make judgments against either character, but listen to their decision to purse the relationship they’ve both chosen.

Me: Hmmmm... it sounds like it is about us. Haha. So, how long has War Poets been together and how did you go about and put that band together, Rex?

Rex: War Poets has been together since 2012. I started by asking several key musicians I’ve worked with to play new songs that I wrote or co-wrote. We recorded "Dulce et Decorum Est" in 2012 then started to tour. The band was chosen with the help of management and legal team. We wanted people that could tour and were great musicians.

Me: "Dulce et Decorum Est."... What language is that and what does that mean?

Rex: It means sweet and honorable and the language is Latin. It is also connected a broader theme in Owen’s poem where he satirizes the British Government’s position that is sweet and honorable to die for your country in war.

Me: So, are you taking War Poets on the road? Think you'll play down here in Florida?

Rex: We play coast to coast. We’re heading to L.A. this month and off to other places too. Florida is definitely on the radar.

Me: So, are you going back into the studio with another project?

Rex: Yes, we’re recording 4 new songs and those will come out in a 6 song EP probably in the late summer. Two songs are already done.

Me: Cool. Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Ready? I don't know if you have siblings but the question is what do you enjoy most about each of your siblings? If you don't have siblings let's change it to band members.

Rex: I have 3 siblings, 2 brothers and a sister. I enjoy the camaraderie with the brothers and talking about old times and our kids. My sister and I tend to talk about political issues and what our country needs to do.

Me: Rex, thanks for being on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your website and ask Aileen if she wants to do an interview.

Rex: For War Poets they are,,  For Light Over There they are and  I’ll discuss with our PR people and Aileen. Thanks for taking time to interview me.

Me: All the best, and please come back soon. I love your music.

Rex: Any time. Thanks for having me. And thanks for listening to War Poets and Light Over There.

That about does it for this entry. Thanks to Rex Haberman for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Monday with author Rich Bernatovich. 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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