Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pheaturing Lisa Piccirillo From Hotels & Highways

Good evening and welcome to the Phile on a Sunday. How're you doing?  Let's start with a story about Donald Trump who reacted like a whiny little baby to a woman who needed to use a breast pump. Lawyer Elizabeth Beck gave an interview with CNN yesterday, telling them that during a deposition Donald Trump refused to let the courtroom break during an previously agreed upon lunch hour, forcing her to admit she had some excretions that just weren't going to wait. No, not urine. She didn't get her period. Keep going... Bingo, breast milk. How did Trump react? Like a toddler throwing a shit fit, screaming in the new mother's face that she was "disgusting," then storming out of the courtroom and ending the day's deposition. Woo, half day! Well, this is hardly the worst thing Donald Trump has ever done. In fact I'd describe it as "on brand." Trump insists he was calling Elizabeth Beck disgusting because he believed she was trying to derail the case with the distracting lawyerly shim-sham of waving a breast pump around. He also says in another interview that Beck wanted to breastfeed in front of him, she was in fact desperate to have him watch her. Yeah, right. Every woman's dream is to have Donald Trump make dead eye contact with her as she mechanically presses milk from her body. His other response is to draw attention to the fact that Beck lost the case. If someone loses a case, they have to sit and stew in their boob juice, until Trump is willing to admit they're a human being. So, forever. Oh, well. One day the world won't treat breastfeeding like someone took a poop on a desk! Probably not Donald Trump, he is very committed to being the worst.  Well, as required by celebrity law, Ashlee Simpson gave her daughter a weird name. Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross welcomed a baby girl into their lives, and they named the little bundle of joy Jagger Snow Ross. Sounds like they put a lot of thought into the name, or they were sitting on the couch and Evan said, "man, I love drinking Jäger," and Ashlee responded with "my favorite season is winter." Then their eyes lit up, and they realized they had a perfect celebrity baby name. Or they chose exclusively from the last names of The Rolling Stones, which actually makes sense because the other options would be Richards, Watts, and Wood. And Jagger is technically the most feminine of them all. Young Jagger will get to grow up with cousins, as Ashlee's sister Jessica has kids named Max and Ace. Just a playdate with kids named Jagger, Max, and Ace. Ashlee and Jessica can look on lovingly, remembering when they were little girls, dreaming what it would be like to raise kids together with names resembling Axe body sprays. It goes without saying that Jagger will have a very simple and modest upbringing.  Spiders close school for third time, proving summer school is the worst. To ensure that fear lives in the hearts and minds of students forever, some brown recluse spiders decided to take up residency at a Pennsylvania elementary school. This is the third time the school has closed because of spiders. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times and there's no way anyone will ever be comfortable in that school because it's plagued by spiders. The Tuscarora School District made the decision to close the school Tuesday after officials met with the district's pest control management company. The company found five to six spiders in the school's library in mid-July. They were also found during separate incidents last year in the lunchroom kitchen and the boiler room. So basically the entire school has the potential to be a complete nightmare. The librarians, custodial staff, and lunchroom workers must fear every last book, broom and industrial sized container of whatever it is they feed kids in cafeterias these days. But at least they don't have a spider living in their ear. There are some positive ways to view this problem. In addition to snow days, there are now spider days. No school! And hopefully any kid having trouble with bullies keeps a few fake spiders in his pockets.  There have been a buttload of investigative journalism pieces about how ISIS recruits young women to become their "brides." They'll use social media to find unsuspecting women living in the middle of nowhere, convince them that joining ISIS will provide them with a life of luxury or salvation or whatever, and arrange for their travel. Then, by the time the women are in Iraq or Syria and realize it was all a lie, it's too late to leave. Luckily, three Chechen women saw through the terrorist organization's bullshit and decided to use it to their advantage. They started online correspondences with multiple ISIS fighters, and as soon as they were sent money for travel, they deleted their accounts and started ignoring their benefactors. They managed to rack up over $3,000 with this scheme. They would've kept going, except the Chechen police just caught on. Now the girls are now facing up to six years in prison for fraud, which is absurd because 1) They're stealing from a terrorist organization, so it's not really stealing 2) They're more worried about the fraud part than them communicating with terrorists? Let's hope Nev Schulman and his crew try to bail them out in an upcoming MTV series, preferable one called "Catfish: International Terrorism Edition."  Zimbabwe calls for the extradition of Cecil's killer, as if that's the biggest thing troubling Zimbabwe right now. Zimbabwe wants the U.S. to send Walter Palmer back so they can prosecute him, if you couldn't already tell by the nine million "the hunter has become the hunted" headlines in the news recently. People are unsure, however, whether or not the request is actually going to be honored. Even though the U.S. signed an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe in 1998, no American has actually been extradited as a result of this treaty. And even though Palmer meets the criteria for extradition, most Zimbabwe courts impose a fine before considering a jail term. So the U.S. first needs to investigate whether or not Palmer meets extradition criteria, and on top of that, they need to be willing to send one of their own citizens to a Zimbabwean prison, which I find pretty unlikely. Most Zimbabweans don't even care about Cecil themselves, really. I mean, they care for his death as much as that of any other innocent animal, but they have way, way bigger problems, such as a national unemployment rate above 80%, an average annual income under $1,000, crazy government corruption, and multiple human rights abuses. But of course, everyone only started paying attention when a pretty lion was involved. Still, the U.S. Wildlife Service has been trying to get in touch with Palmer to see if his overseas actions have broken any U.S. hunting laws. They haven't had any luck finding him, however, since he's been ignoring their attempts to contact him. I assume he doesn't have read receipts. Palmer's first appointment back is going to be super awkward.

It turns out that Cecil had a wife and she revenge.

So, Disney, the greatest company to work for ever is coming out with a new princess.

Taco Belle. That's so stupid. Haha.  Well, it's summer and all though summer I am showing you some bathing suits or bikinis you might see.

This bacon bikini can instantly turn into a birthday suit if you're hungry. Okay, and now for some sad news.

Cilla Black
May 27th 1943 — August  1st 2015
She may have been the one female entertainer closest to the Beatles. Definitely a Beatles related death.

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper 
April 17th, 1954 — July 30th, 2015
His final match... "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Harrowing" Hodgkins Lymphoma didn't really turn out as he had hoped.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, as I just mentioned wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper passed away. I don't know much about him, but a friend of the Phile does and wants to say something about him. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is.

I was a big fan of "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as a kid, as was my father. I watched with my sons as well. He was cool, he was a loudmouth, he wore a kilt, he was a tough sonofabitch and we loved him for it. He also uttered one of my favorite movie lines of all time in the '80s horror classic, They Live. "I have come here to kick ass and chew bubble gum... and I'm all out of bubble gum." Rest in peace...

Anonymous is a global network of hackers who are more than welcome to hack this entry and come up with a better one. I could use the press.

Today's pheatured guest is the lead singer of the trio Hotels & Highways whose latest album "Lost River" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Lisa Piccirillo.

Me: Hello, Lisa, welcome to the Phile.

Lisa: Well, hello, thanks so much!

Me: So, tell the readers who is in Hotels & Highways.

Lisa: Hotels & Highways is Erin “Syd” Sidney, Patrick Thomas Cupples, and me, Lisa Piccirillo.

Me: You kids all had individual solo albums out, and music careers before you formed Hotels & Highways, right? How did you all get together and decide to form a band?

Lisa: Indeed we did, and we had collaborated on each other’s albums and performances in the past. When I asked Syd to produce my debut record, he suggested that Pat would be a great fit for a guitar player and to add some songwriting ideas. When the three of us got together, we laughed and wrote and played and felt good... so we wanted to keep those good feelings going. We didn’t so much “decide to form a band” as we did “decide to take a 10-day retreat to a cabin and write and record some songs together.” With some gigs booked after our retreat, we figured we’d play whatever we wrote in that time... and that ended up being a whole album! A few days into recording we knew we had to share our experience with our collective fans.

Me: So you knew each other before the band was formed?

Lisa: Yes, we had all played/sang on each other’s solo projects in one capacity or another since 2005-2006. Pat and Syd met through mutual friend/singer/songwriter Todd Martin back in 2004, around the same time that Syd and I met through mutual friend/singer/songwriter Gregory Douglass.

Me: Which one of you came up with the band name, and what does it mean?

Lisa: Pat and Syd began writing songs together on a cross-country tour back in 2005 that didn’t really have a place in either of their solo repertoires, so they came up with the project name Hotels & Highways, and started a MySpace page for their demos (back when MySpace was cool). I suppose they both came up with the name while staying in many hotels along various highways.

Me: Are you all from the same area, or from different states?

Lisa: I am originally from Connecticut and now live in Woodstock, Vermont. Syd is originally from Vermont (not far from where I live now) and lives currently in Ventura, CA, and Pat is originally from the Detroit, MI area and lives now in Brooklyn, NY.

Me: Let's talk about your album "Lost River" which I downloaded from iTunes and really liked. You recorded it in a cabin somewhere, right?

Lisa: Thanks for listening! Yes, “Lost River” was recorded in a lakeside cabin in Putnam Valley, NY, about an hour north of the city.

Me: Did you all live together when you were recording the album?

Lisa: We did. It was a dream of all of ours to live the process. We wanted to be able to write and record whenever the mood struck, without the confines of deadlines or hourly rates. By that same token, we wanted to be able to take breaks when the creative juices weren’t flowing (or when they overflowed) and do something good for us like walking/running, yoga or kayaking, or cooking.

Me: Was it a big cabin, and who had the idea to record it there? If I was in the band I would have said no way, I am not living in a cabin in the woods. I bet there wasn't a restaurant nearby.

Lisa: Haha, we weren’t totally in the wilderness (there were a few restaurants a short drive away), though it was our goal to be as off-the-radar as we could, without the distractions of cell phones or the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The cabin was just the right size for us; there was one main room for recording, two bedrooms just off the main room for the boys and a little loft up a ladder for me! The quarters were close, but not too close.

Me: Lisa, how was it living with those two guys?

Lisa: They’re great. Not only are they respectful and thoughtful, they are hilarious. Because we live in different corners of the country, we relish the opportunity to be together. Plus, the “Italian grandmother” gene in me loves to cook for friends and take care of them. We have a great vibe whether it’s in a cabin or in a van for 6-weeks; we know when it’s time to talk, or have alone time, or listen to music, or play music... we go with the flow and read each other.

Me: So, did you all three write the songs together, or did one person have the job to do that?

Lisa: Well, Syd and Pat brought “Live Now” and “Heaven Knows” to the cabin as Hotels & Highways songs from years earlier, and there were a few other songs that had started forming before we came together, but for the most part we all wrote together. We would sit around playing nonsense until it made sense or we’d start in a common place, playing a song that we all knew, until the chord progression and rhythm would grow and evolve and suddenly we’d be playing a new song. It was very loose and our mantra to ourselves and each other was “say yes.” “Say yes” to an idea, to something new, to something you wouldn’t ordinarily say yes to, and explore.

Me: I was going to ask you where the album name "Lost River" came from, but I am guessing it has something to do with the cabin being by a lost river, am I right?

Lisa: Well, the cabin was on a lake.... but there must have been a lost river nearby because we were off of Lost River Road.

Me: Now that you recorded the album, and it's out, will you guys be doing a lot of shows together? 

Lisa: We just finished a 6-week national tour! We played about 30 shows in clubs, bars, coffeehouses, colleges, houses and even a library all over the country.

Me: I have interviewed a few musicians who did something you guys did, which is raise money from your fans to record the album. Whose group of fans raised the most money?

Lisa: Hard to tell since we’ve been lucky to share some fans of our solo careers over the years. That’s one of the special things about this band; when Patrick’s “Build Me a City,” and my “Momentum” came out, the three of us launched The Co-Op, a creative community that serves as our record label, so our fans had been getting to know each of us separately and together, and were rooting for all of us by the time we teamed up as Hotels & Highways.

Me: How did you get the word out to do this?

Lisa: Each of us had told our fan bases about our writing/recording retreat and the shows that were going to follow in October of 2010, and we had kept them updated with videos and blogs about the experience. By the time we launched our Kickstarter campaign in November 2010, fans were already interested in the record we’d made. Then, through the wonders of Facebook, Twitter and lots of emails, we were able to spread the word about our fundraising campaign and we’re so grateful people rallied for us.

Me: I think it takes guts for any band or musician to ask fans for money to record. It's kinda sad that bands and individual artists have to do that kinda fund raising for an album to be put out. Would any of you do that again?

Lisa: We certainly had some reservations about asking our fans for money, but since we’d recorded already and we knew we had a wonderful album to give them, we believed in it. Kickstarter provided a great platform for our fundraiser which not only encouraged donors with its “all-or-nothing” policy, but also legitimized the process. It’s not an open guitar case in the street; we were very specific about how the funds would be used. Our fans and friends have been incredibly supportive and will continue to be, but in terms of the future, I think we’ve cashed in our fundraising chips for now.

Me: Anyway, I am glad your fans did it, because it's a great album. Would any of you guys come back to the Phile when your solo stuff comes out?

Lisa: We’re glad too; we couldn’t have done the tour we just did without them! We would always be happy to chat with you, as Hotels & Highways or solo.

Me: Thanks so much, go ahead and mention your website and I wish you all continued success. Take care.

Lisa: Thank YOU for your support. Readers can find us at as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Me: Cool, take care, Lisa. Tell the boys I said hello.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Lisa Piccirillo. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the guys from the Canadian band Spinrad. So, 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

No comments: