Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pheaturing Neil Sheasby From Stone Foundation

Hey, everybody, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? If you just haven't spent enough time learning about Princess Diana. In a letter back to the Royal household while on her honeymoon, she wrote that "the honeymoon was a perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep," "The Telegraph" reports. The royals, they're just like us! She wrote the letter while aboard the Royal Yacht Brittania, which honestly sounds like a great place to get some z's in, as boats are very boring and there's not much to do on them except eat, sleep and do the pose from Titanic off the bow. And you gotta respect a woman who prioritizes getting those requisite eight hours of shut-eye in. That's self care at it's finest. As things unfortunately did not work out with Prince Charles (the two separated 11 years later in 1991, and then divorced in 1996), I'm glad she was at least looking after herself and getting some rest while on that godforsaken boat. The letter was addressed to her personal secretary, Jane Parsons, who I like to imagine was a close gal pal of the princess, and was one of 25 correspondences, all of which are auctioned set to be auctioned off next month in Gloucestershire. Other letters further enforce that Princess Diana was a lovely person. She wrote letters to "everyone in the office" thanking them for her 21st birthday present, as well as offering her sincere "gratitude at having such a wonderful collection of people looking after us." After she had her first baby, she wrote to the staff saying that she hoped they were not "exhausted, overworked and underpaid." What a gem. Hopefully more sweet anecdotes will be revealed as the letters are sifted through.
Love her or hate her, you've got to admit that there's never a dull moment with top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway. Whether she's talking about microwaves spying on you or fabricating events of mass violence, you can always count on her to be as unhinged and absurd as the man who hired her to get him elected. And it turns out that even a humanizing profile of Conway in "New York" this month doesn't skimp on the details of her enduring weirdness. In particular, people were fixated on an account of how she conducted herself at a fancy Washington, D.C. restaurant in the presence of the reporter writing about her. "Conway was definitely enjoying herself at Lupo Verde, an Italian restaurant on 14th and T, where she and Cypher found their way to a table I was sharing with a friend and sat down across from us. I’d invited Conway on a whim and didn’t expect her to show, so by the time she arrived with her entourage, the entrĂ©e we had ordered to share, a steak, was sitting on the table. Conway gestured to the plate and asked if she could have some. 'Sure,' we said, 'of course.' She then reached her hand across the table and, rather than the steak, picked up the roughly seven-inch-long decorative scallion resting on top. Then she tilted her head back and put it in her mouth, like a sword swallower on Coney Island or a snake eating a mouse. About ten minutes later she remarked that she thought it was a piece of asparagus." What in the world... how do you... why would she... WHAT? Maybe this is just because she hadn't had a full night's sleep in the past nine months. Maybe she'd never seen a vegetable before. Or maybe she's from a different planet. In any case, she's basically in charge of the country. Wheeee!
As if he could get any grosser, Paul Ryan discussed his fantasy about cutting Medicaid as if it were a lofty career aspiration at an event hosted by conservative magazine "National Review" on Friday, Vox reports."We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around," Ryan said to the magazine's editor Rich Lowry, of the unbelievable opportunity they currently have for cutting a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources." He then went on to further confirm just how much of a frat bro he was during college by clarifying with, "since you and I were drinking out of kegs." Wow, Paul Ryan drank out of kegs? Very cool. Very relatable. Not. I think if I overheard that conversation as I walked over to a keg during college I would have promptly screamed and left. Other things Paul Ryan has been trying to make cool since he was sipping out of solo cups include: the idea that social programs hurt people instead of helping them. In a 2014 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ryan warned his listeners of the dangers of social assistance programs, because it makes joblessness too comfortable. "The left thinks this is a good thing. They say, ‘hey, this is a new freedom... the freedom not to work.’” But they’re “making a big mistake here. What they're offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul." Sorry, Paul Ryan, but who are you to talk about empty souls? The American Health Care Act (that's TrumpCare) would make Medicaid cuts that cost 14 million people their healthcare coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would also make the quality of healthcare offered by Medicaid worse, Vox adds, as it would limit the per capita spending on the millions that do rely on Medicaid. Just your daily reminder that very wealthy and self-interested people are currently running the country.
As a graduating triplet, you know you've got an opportunity to tell a story in your senior quote. And even though twins, and to a greater extent triplets, are genetic freaks who should scare everyone who encounters them, the Durham triplets are merely endearing. They used their senior quote to tell a knock knock joke. The Durhams are a decidedly benign trinity. They had every opportunity to write a coded political message. Something like, say, "Fight" "The" "Power." But not everyone's a yearbook activist. They just went with...

Really makes you wonder how you'd use this opportunity yourself, if you also had two genetic replicas to help you tell a parting story to the rest of the senior class. Maybe "I" "Like" "Turtles"... if your triumvirate was especially hilarious. On second thought, maybe the Durhams' joke was fine. So just appreciate the Durham triplets for their simple use of the quote section. They didn't aim for the moon and land in the stars, they just sorta aimed somewhere in the general vicinity of a tree and hit the branch. These kids are going somewhere average.
It's not just the intoxicating nostalgia that's got us thinking the 90s were way better than the twenty-teens (?). A new study shows that adults are having sex fewer times per year on average than we were 20 years ago, "The Guardian" reports. After surveying nearly 27,000 individuals, researchers found that adults "were having sex seven fewer times annually in the early 2010s compared to the early 1990s, and nine fewer times compared to the late 1990s." I want to unpack this for a moment, because what this means is that the late 90s were peak season for trips to Bone Town, USA. Yes, even though the early 90s were still better for sex than the 2010s, the late 90s were even better. Now, this is mere speculation, but is it possible that the dawning of Y2K made people wanna freak all the time because they figured they were all gonna die anyway? I am no scientists but I think I could be onto something. Now, if we are indeed having less sex, does that mean we're less horny, less attractive, or less social? Maybe. But is that so bad? "It is very possible that for young people this is a conscious life choice," said Ryne Sherman, co-author of the study from Florida Atlantic University. The study also noted that millennials use social media and online streaming more than previous generations, but if you're trying to tell me people would rather scroll through Instagram than screw, I'd say it sounds like you're comparing apples and oranges. That being said, millennials are getting married later, and the study pointed out that being single longer can lead to having less sex, and that those in committed relationships have sex more frequently. The study also offered up some expected though depressing news about the correlation between having sex and aging: "for each year after the age of 25, adults, on average, had sex 1.18 fewer times a year, corresponding to a fall from about 80 times a year for those in their mid twenties to about 20 times a year for those in their mid sixties." It's all downhill from here, folks!
Hey, so I just told you about the Durham's yearbook quote... well, it reminded me of another story. This is not a set of quadruplets, but they had the same opportunity as the Durham's.

So, once in awhile Disney... the greatest company to work for ever... changes their looks of their characters to keep up with the times. I kinda like the new look for Pocahontas, even though I don't think he real Indian princess looked like this.

President Trump has yet written a new executive order... I wonder what this one says.

Hey, that's a good one. So, I have been telling you that "The Washington Post" added a slogan to their masthead and it says, "Democracy Dies in Darkness." Well, the original masthead was supposed to be this...

I started off this entry talking about Princess Diana, which reminded me of this pic I saw of the Queen holding a product that I do. Not. Like. At. All.

One word: ugh! Everybody is so excited about that new movie Beauty and the Beast. I'd rather go see this movie...

Those crazy people at Fox. Hahaha. Well, as you may know, Rachel Maddow revealed Trump's 2005 tax returns the others day. If you don't see it, it looks like this...

Well, it kinda gets to the point. It's Sunday... I wish I had this album to listen to...

Hahahaha. Alright, so, as you know by now I live in Florida and there's some crazy shit that happens hear that happens nowhere else in the Universe. That's why I have this pheature called...

Well. Here's some nightmare fuel for you. Florida resident Monica Dorsett was going about her business recently, driving her car, probably listening to her favorite playlist, when all of a sudden a snake started to emerge from her car's air vents. Yes, a live snake. Monica's daughter Kristina posted photos of her mom's vehicle invader to Twitter. Her tweet quickly went viral. "I was on a four-lane highway and I all of a sudden see the snake coming out of the vent near my left hand," Monica told Buzzfeed News. "It took me a second to realize... that is real." Uh. What? WHERE DID IT COME FROM?! Monica exited the highway and pulled over to deal with the snake. She accidentally captured a video of herself fighting it off and posted it to Facebook. It's hard to tell what's really happening, but it sounds like she's totally keeping her composure. Or maybe not. WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO KEEP YOUR COMPOSURE? She ended up slamming the door on the snake, and her husband came to help her deal with the situation. The story had people on Twitter vowing never to drive again. Even Monica herself says she still feels on edge every time she gets in her car. “I’m not opening those vents for a long time,” she told Buzzfeed. Her daughter Kristina, who tweeted the photos like this one..

said the incident didn't shock her too much. "Florida is just weird, it would happen,” she told Buzzfeed. Can't argue there. Don't you think live snakes mysteriously appearing in people's air vents is taking it a little too far, Florida? Off you go.

Hahahahahaha. That's the stupidest Mindphuck I think I ever posted here. What the hell? It is funny though. But still. If you spot it, and if you don't you are blind, please let me know. Okay, so my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when we were kids and how much that show has changed now. So, once again, here is...

Ernie learns the hard way to not be late on drug money.

Chuck Berry 
October 18th, 1926 — March 18th, 2017
Johnny B. Dead.

The 58th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be the guest on the Phile next Monday.

Today's guest is a Phile Alum and bass player for a fantastic band from England called Stone Foundation whose new album "Street Rituals" comes out on CD on March 31st. Please welcome to the Phile... Neil Sheasby.

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

Neil: Okay. Thanks. Like most, I am looking forward to brighter times ahead.

Me: I have to say, Stone Foundation is one of my favorite bands I discovered since I started interviewing people on this blog 9 years ago. Your band is very unique and cool, and have come a long way since you guys formed. You must be very proud of the band, right?

Neil: I am proud of all we have achieved thus far and also what Stone Foundation seems to mean to people, there appears to be a genuine appreciation for what we do which is humbling and heartening. 

Me: You and the bands lead singer Neil Jones formed the band, am I right?

Neil: Correct, almost 20 years ago now, it’s been a long trip.

Me: Did you two know each other prior?

Neil: Only through being in different bands, Neil’s previous group supported mine at a gig in London and that’s how we first met up.

Me: How long has Stone Foundation been a band?

Neil: As I said, we formed the idea for the band and started writing songs together around 1997 but it took us several very long years to find a settled line up and one that could share our vision for our ideas.

Me: Neil, you play bass in the band. I don't know if I asked you this before but how did you chose that instrument?

Neil: Yes, I’m that rare breed that actually wanted to play bass!! I was a massive Jam fan and Bruce Foxton was an early influence, as kids (still at school) we started a band and everyone put their hand up for the cool instruments, bass was left and I didn’t mind giving it a crack...

Me: Do you remember what the first song you learnt was?

Neil: A guy who still to this day lives on the estate where I was bought up had a Rickenbacker bass (as I did too only difference was he could actually play his!), he was a punk kid called Cooky and he was good enough to take me under his wing and show me a few Jam bass lines, the first one I can remember mastering properly was “Start.”

Me: Last time you were here was in 2014 when "To Find a Spirit" came out. Since then you released "A Life Unlimited." I have no idea why I didn't have you on the Phile then. I apologize. Anyway, on that album there's a sing called "Beverley." I have to ask, who is Beverley?

Neil: Beverley is the title of a film produced by Cass Pennant. Cass approached us to do the theme title for the film, after reading the script we agreed and so the song is based around the movie, in particular it’s lead character “Beverley”... It was a welcome challenge for us to write that way, I enjoyed it.

Me: Ahhh. Neil, how has the band changed since the founded it until now? A few different members, right?

Neil: Yes, I think it’s inevitable with such a big line up that the personnel will change slightly over the years and different records require different moods, etc. In saying that the core members of the band... Myself, Neil, Phil Ford, Ian Arnold and Rob Newton have been together for quite a number of years now, it’s mainly been the horns that have changed, a bit like Time Lords we have to re-generate them every so often! These new boys seem fairly settled though so we are hoping to have a steady line up for the foreseeable future ahead.

Me: How many people are in the band now, Neil?

Neil: Eight in the live band.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new album... first of I think it's so fucking cool that Paul Weller produced it and plays on the album. I have to show this pic of you and Paul in the studio...

Me: Was that a high thrill for you?

Neil: Absolutely, it’s kind of surreal to end up working and collaborating with someone who was the core reason you started a band in the first place. We soon got past that though, I think you have to in order for the sessions to work. We soon found a musical bond.

Me: Did you know Paul prior, Neil? I think you did as he is friends with another Phile Alum Mark Baxter who you also know.

Neil: Not really, not personally. Bax made that connection for us really, he’d been giving Paul our last couple of albums and obviously he thankfully liked them which lead to us working together.

Me: How did Paul get to be the producer of "Street Rituals"?

Neil: It wasn’t anything that was pre planned it just kind of worked out that way. Initially the sessions started because Paul approached us about finishing a song he had that was destined for another project but once he heard the results of what we did with it he invited us down to his studio to work on more ideas which before we knew it transcended into a complete album, I think he enjoyed the whole experience as much as we did, there was certainly a mutual respect and we really enjoyed the experience of creating new music together.

Me: Where was the album recorded, Neil?

Neil: Paul’s place, Black Barn Studios.

Me: Did you and the other band members write the songs on the album? I am guessing Paul contributed to some of the writing.

Neil: Paul co-wrote two songs with us ("The Limit of a Man" and "The Colour Of...) all the other songs myself and Neil Jones composed.

Me: Okay, I know you are a fan of Paul Weller... but I have to ask what do you prefer... The Jam, Style Council or his solo stuff? I think personally The Style Council is my favorite band he was in.

Neil: I love(d) them both in equal measures. I was lucky to see The Jam live a few times and I never missed a Style Council tour, I was a massive fan. If it wasn’t for The Jam I’m not sure I would have picked up an instrument or formed a band but I came to the Jam as a kid halfway through around 79’/ 1980 whereas I was with the Style Council from day one, they felt like my band!! I have amazing memories from both periods.

Me: Apart from Paul Weller, there's two more guests on the album... William Bell and Bette LaVette. I heard of William Bell but not LaVette. Tell the readers who these two are and how did they get to be a part of the album.

Neil: Well, both artists are soul/rhythm and blues legends, voices that we grew up in awe of and certainly not ones that we ever thought we would one day have singing on our records. William is synonymous with the great Stax Records label and Bettye cut records for Atlantic/Atco label recording many hits in the Muscle Shoals sound studio, they are both steeped in musical history. William just recently won a Grammy award. We just approached them via their respective managers, sent them the ideas we had for them to sing and thankfully they liked what they heard, understood what we were after and accepted our invitation to be part of the "Street Rituals" record.

Me: How long did it take for the album to be recorded, Neil?

Neil: Not that long to be honest, although we took a year to finish it, most of the songs were recorded over a few days at a time, in total it probably only took us 6 or 7 days to record the bulk of the songs, very fast. Most of what you hear is no more than 2 or 3 takes with the backline all playing live together then we recorded horns and strings separately.

Me: I love the cover of the album... where was it taken?

Neil: Thanks. Electric Avenue in Brixton.

Me: Brixton! My dad lived there when he was a kid. I have to tell you a story about Electric Avenue sometime. Was the camera man on top of a very tall ladder or a building?

Neil: A train bridge that looked down at the market.

Me: You guys are touring behind the album which is cool. I know you have done a lot of shows with Stone Foundation. Do you have a favorite?

Neil: Fuji Rock festival in Japan was fairly wild, It’s all there on YouTube, that was a very special gig. I always love playing in Scotland and London too, great audiences...

Me: Any plans on touring America?

Neil: We are trying to sort that situation out at the moment, hopefully soon.

Me: Neil, you're a dad of two boys, am I right? My dad as you know was a musician and when I was a kid I paid attention to his career and asked a lot of questions and loved Foghat's music... I still listen to his music now. Are your boys interested in your band and career?

Neil: I have three boys. Yes, they seem to appreciate what I do and are very proud of me, they all have a keen interest in music themselves, we all fight for stereo time in the house now days.

Me: I unfortunately have no musical skills but I play a mean kazoo... are the boys learning any instruments?

Neil: Lowell is a good drummer and he can sing too, he’s always singing actually. My eldest, Mason, was very involved in the drum and bass scene over here, he’s an MC but I think his tastes are mellowing now he’s in his twenties.

Me: By the way, on the next Stone Foundation album if you guys need a kazoo player... just saying. LOL.

Neil: I will bare it in mind.

Me: Okay, one of my favorite musicians of all time is Graham Parker... did I read he recorded with you guys? Or am I imagining that?

Neil: No, that’s correct, Graham featured on a tune called "The Night Teller" from our previous album "A Life Unlimited." Me and Neil are big fans so that was a buzz too and he is a lovely geezer too.

Me: I remember seeing this pic of you, Neil and Graham now...

Me: So fucking jealous. Doing this blog I get to once in awhile interview my favorite people, such as Graham Parker and Chas Hodges who will be on the Phile again real soon. Are you a fan of Chas & Dave?

Neil: I don’t actually know anyone who doesn’t like Chas & Dave... a national institution!

Me: Last time I interviewed Chas, which was a month ago or so, I mentioned Graham and he said he didn't know who he was. Do you think he was joking?

Neil: I’ve no idea, it’s possible I suppose.

Me: Next time I interview Chas what is something I should ask him, Neil?

Neil: Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers or Heads, Hands & Feet??

Me: Okay, cool. I'll write that down. Stone Foundation has been putting out a lot of music every few years, which I love. Are you guys already planning what's next?

Neil: Yes.

Me: Do you see Stone Foundation being around for a long time?

Neil: I can’t see why not, as long as we remain relevant and have an audience then we’ll keep on keepin’ on.  

Me: Neil, I always enjoy it when you are on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your website, sir.


Me: Will you come back when the next release comes out?

Neil: Of course, always a pleasure.

Me: Thanks again, and keep making great music. All the best!

Neil: Best wishes.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Neil Sheasby for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with jazz singer Veronica Swift and her mom who is a Phile Alum... Stephanie Nakasian. 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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