Monday, September 30, 2013

Pheaturing Sarah Williams White

Hi there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? I bet you you are better than O.J. O.J. Simpson was busted again, this time for stealing cookies from the prison cafeteria. This time he left a trail of crumbs. Have you have seen O.J. lately? He's gotten fat. And if the pants don't fit, you must acquit, ladies and gentlemen. Just when you think you know a guy, huh? When I heard that story, I think I had the same reaction most of you did. Really? They have cookies in prison?  The post office wants a three-cent increase to 49 cents. They say fewer and fewer people are using the post office and they're losing money. See, that's government thinking. Only the government would think, "Hey, I know how to attract more customers. Let's raise the price."  President Obama is now making his case for raising the debt limit. He said raising the debt limit does not increase debt. You know, like raising the speed limit does not increase speed.  Lindsay Lohan's sister paid a lot of money to a plastic surgeon to make her look more like Lindsay. If you're Lindsay Lohan's sister, you don't want to change your face. You want to change your name, don't you?  Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, who was on the Phile a few weeks ago has been tweeting with a stripper in Oregon. He's a bachelor so when this news broke, he had to hire somebody to stand next to him and look humiliated.  A cardinal made a comment at the Vatican that Jesus was the first person to tweet. The cardinal said that like Twitter messages, Jesus' messages were brief and full of meaning. Brief I get, but when has there been a Twitter message full of meaning? No wonder Jesus walked on water. He didn't want to get his phone wet. The cardinal believes Jesus used tweets before everyone else, with simple phrases made up of fewer than 45 characters like "Love one another." Yet he had only 12 followers.  The NBA is considering letting teams wear special jerseys for a game. Instead of the players' names on their backs, they'll wear their nicknames. Instead of the nicknames on jerseys they should put the salaries on the jerseys. That way they can hold them accountable.  There's a new reality TV show in the works that will apparently send celebrities into space. Or as Gary Busey put it, "They're sending me home?" That's right, a reality show will send celebrities into space... marking the first time people will actually want the Kardashians to star in another reality show.  The post office just can't get its act together. They announced today they want to raise the price of stamps so they can make an extra $2 billion. That is still better than their original plan... uninvent the Internet.  Treasury Secretary Jack Lew just sent a letter to Congress, telling them that the government will run out of money on October 17. Congress said, "Then why didn't you just send an email instead of buying those expensive new stamps?"  Drivers on New York state highways now have the option of pulling over into state-sanctioned "Text Stop" areas where they may send and receive texts to their heart's delight without fear of causing multi-car pile-ups resulting in numerous fatalities. Signs for these text areas can already be seen on the side of the road, provided drivers tilt their eyes upward from their phones long enough to spot them.  A Mac-11 subcompact machine gun was found hidden above a ceiling panel inside a closet at one of JFK Airport's international terminals in New York City. Authorities have no idea where it came from or how long it's been hidden there. As of press time, the public has not yet been advised to shit bricks.  Friends of Miley Cyrus who prefer taking their concerns about her well-being to the press instead of to her directly are afraid that the pop singer might have been high on molly (MDMA, or ecstasy in powder form) during that VMA performance that we're all still talking about for some reason. Cyrus mentioned her fondness for the euphoria-inducing drug during an interview with Rolling Stone, calling it a "happy drug." That's what I need... a happy drug. So, I had a lot of emails asking me to tell my Bill Nye story. Hmmmm. Okay, here we go, this is gonna cut into the comedy though. Let me finish up with some pictures and then I'll tell you. Speaking of Bill Nye, he wasn't a nice guy when he met the President.

Look at that sour look on the arsehole's face.  A crazy thing happened to the President... I didn't know Vlad was here in America.

Hey, do you know what I just found out recently? That Africa has a space program. Check it out, kids.

That's a Mindphuck right there. Haha. I'm so stupid.  There's a picture of Prince Charles that is going around right now. I have no idea what that man is up to.

Why are they in E-space that's what I want to know. That's a "Doctor Who" reference most of you won't get.  Okay, let's go the Mindphuck, and then I'll tell you my Bill Nye story.

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, so, here's the Bill Nye story, on why I dislike that man. I was working the Walt Disney World 25th anniversary press event in 1996 at Epcot when this lady and her six or seven year old son came up to me and asked me if they can get Bill Nye's autograph. Nye was about 30 feet away, by the radio station booths. I said sure, as there wasn't that many people around. No one was blinking an eye at him, or noticing he was there even though he had a lab coat on and his stupid bow tie. So, I walked the woman and her son up to Nye and the woman explained to me that her son wants to be a scientist when he grows up because of Bill Nye. We walked up to Nye and his Guest Relations guide and I said, "Excuse me, Mr. Nye, can you sign this young man's autograph book. He is a big and wants to be a scientist because of you." Bill didn't look at the people, but looked at me and said, "No." I said, "No seriously, he's a big fan. Can you just sign his book?" Bill glared at me and said, "I said no." The Guest Relations person said, "Bill is not signing autographs." I didn't stop... "Look, you don't have to sign Bill Nye the Science Guy, just Bill Nye. Just seven letters." The woman and her son stood there not saying a word, but the little boy was holding his autograph book up like he was Oliver Twist asking for more soup. Bill said, "I said no." I looked down at the little boy and said, "You don't want his autograph, he's not a real scientist. What kinda scientist calls himself the Science Guy. Einstein never called himself the Science Guy." The Guest Relations person got on his radio and radioed my manager for events to tell them what was going on. The woman was in tears and said as we walked away from Bill and his Guest Relations guide, "How can he be that way?" I replied, "Because he's an asshole. I'm sorry." My manager asked me what happened, I told him and he walked away, shaking his head. That's my Bill Nye story. I have seen him a few other times at Disney, and each time he was a dick. I mean, look at this poster for his old show...

I wish I can say the end was nye for him. Alright, enough about that pseudo scientist. Yesterday a friend of the Phile was back on after a long hiatus, with a major complaint. She's back on today. Please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Eve, welcome back. So, what's bothering you today? 

Eve: I only have 2 gallons of milk.

Me: Okay, so?

Eve: I'm out of chocolate milk mix.

Me: Then go to the store and get some, Eve.

Eve: It's too hot with the air conditioner off.

Me: Then turn it on.

Eve: It's too cold with air conditioner on.

Me: I don't know what to say. Eve Rest, everybody. See you soon, Eve.

Eve: Bye.

Okay, the 36th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Rebekie Bennington, and this is one of her pieces...

How cute is that? Rebekie will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

Today's guest is a musician and producer whose EP "Your Silence Is Killing Me" is available on iTunes and her new single "Close to the Equator" is available on Bandcamp. Please welcome to the Phile from England... Sarah Williams White.

Me: Sarah, hello, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Sarah: Hello ello Phile! I'm good, cheers.

Me: I know you have had a lot of music out, but I have to tell you when I first heard your album "Fool" which I purchased from iTunes I thought you sounded like you were from England but didn't know. What part of England are you from? I was born in London myself. Balham to be exact.

Sarah: Oh, you're a Londoner too are ya, yeah me too, South London born and raised.

Me: What part of London do you live?

Sarah: Just recently gave up the architectural beauty of Lewisham Centre, to move closer to Crystal Palace and its dinosaurs... Wonders never cease in the South East!

Me: I've been to Crystal Palace and seen the dinosaurs. My cousins used to live near there. Have you ever been to the States? You would do great over here.

Sarah: I've visited the east coast a couple of times on holiday... Had a great time playing an open mic night in Greenwich Village once! Really lovely supportive atmosphere there. And yeah, I would love to do some proper music over there most definitely!! Most of my biggest musical influences are American. There's a lot of producers over there I would love to collaborate with.

Me: Your music is very KT Tunstall, and Lily Allen sounding, Sarah, which I love. Are you fans of theirs?

Sarah: I'm a fan of KT, her stuff's got a lot of soul. Great band too, check out "Acoustic Extravaganza". Lily Allen has written some great catchy songs, "LDN" was refreshingly good at the time. But in all honesty, her records lacked a little depth for me to really get into them. I guess we both use a lot of humour in our songs though and there's the London accent of course. I stopped singing with any kind of fake American twang back when I first heard artists like Floetry, The Streets and Amy Winehouse four years earlier though. They started to give me the confidence to use my real voice too. 

Me: You have lots of influences, right?

Sarah: Definitely. Any piece of music I hear is influential to me. I'm inspired by fearless artists, musicians, producers, people who put across their soul and honesty in music. But I guess that's what we all want really.

Me: When you are not making fantastic music, what do you do for fun?

Sarah: Well cheers, Phile! I like all sorts... I particularly love crafty stuff like drawing, making jewellery, attempting to make clothes but truthfully just ending up with piles of fabrics, zips and buttons waiting for me to use them! It's really therapeutic though when I do have the time.

Me: Let's get back to your album "Fool" and then we'll talk about your newer stuff. What made you call the album that?

Sarah: Well me really, I am the fool! My self-deprecating jokes became a bit of theme on that release so I went with it! The title track "Fool" is all about feeling insecure and inadequate when you first start to fall for someone, then there's "Mental" when you're in a relationship that's gone a little skew-whiff and you start doubting your sanity, their loyalty, that kind of crazy in love feeling as Beyonce once put it. Did I just quote Beyonce?!

Me: Yes, you did. Haha.

Sarah: But I also just think it's good to take the piss out of ourselves once in a while and not take ourselves too seriously.

Me: And you did that drawing of you for the cover? I'll show it here...

Me: It's very good.

Sarah: I did indeed, many thanks. Yeah, I just sit around drawing myself all day.

Me: Was "Fool" your first album, Sarah?

Sarah: It was my first fully DIY release.

Me: You seem to have a very good band that with you. Is that your own band?

Sarah: Heavily featured is my long time collaborator and groove master Timmy Rickard, who played drums throughout and helped produce the record with me. We still play and work together a lot. The other musicians are all friends I've played with in some form or another in the past. But probably the majority of sounds you'll hear on the record are played by me, on keys mainly, but I also dabbled with some bass, guitar and percussion. Chris Borud used to play with me in our college band Ms. Williams' Soul Collective! Michael Rendall, also better known for his bubbling creative duo Jackanory & The Ball, helped mix the record and laid down bass on a couple of tracks. Then there's Will Rutter, a wonderful songwriter and guitarist. And all the other layers of instruments you hear are me having a dabble!

Me: Speaking of playing live, is that something you feel natural doing?

Sarah: Yeah, I do love performing, in fact I'm really missing it at the moment as I've been in the studio a lot! I do struggle with it sometimes though because I get really nervous. But I guess it's all part of the buzz for me.

Me: When did you start to record and write music? You seem so young so I imagine it can't be long.

Sarah: Music was with me from a young age, but I remember first writing song lyrics and poems at about 9 years old. I started recording, in a very loose sense, when I was about 13 with a group of friends. One of their dad's owned a community music centre with a bunch of computers running Cubase, Fruity loops and stuff, so we were lucky enough to get to use some of that for free. That's where my love of music production began. At the same time I was also learning about singer songwriters like Fiona Apple who also inspired my songwriting at the piano.

Me: Like I said, you have released a lot of music over the last few years, are you planning on recording a new album soon, Sarah?

Sarah: Well yeah, I'm working on my new singles as we speak... My EP is pretty different from "Fool"!

Me: How would you compare your newer music?

Sarah: There's even more vocals and weird layers of sounds. I've been having loads of fun producing tracks with Andy Spence of New Young Pony Club. It's taken a little while to get here as I've tried out recording lots of different songs, in different places with different people, but for me it's kept coming back to my little home recorded pieces! So I'm now finishing them off with help from Andy and Timmy.

Me: You worked with a hip hop artist named Paul White, right? How did the two of you meet?

Sarah: He's my big brother! Haha. My bro is a humongous inspiration for me, his work is beautiful. He remixed Tom Robinson's favourite song of mine, "Watch A World", which is available for free download at the moment at But we most definitely plan to do more together.

Me: And I was happy to see you have been getting airplay on Radio 1. It's been a long time I listened to Radio 1... I remember it back when Steve Wright and Bruno Brookes. Do you get excited when you hear your music on radio?

Sarah: Oh yeah, I love it! The BBC has been great to me so far... Huw Stephens has been lovely, Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music has also been a wonderful supporter, BBC London, 1Xtra, they've even played tracks on one of their TV shows. I'm really grateful. Such a surreal but wonderful feeling hearing your songs and production for the first time on the radio!

Me: Sarah, thanks so much for being here on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your website and anything else you would like to.

Sarah: Thanks for having me! Come on over to anytime! The new EP "Your Silence Is Killing Me" is out with a lot of new singles, and they'll be gigs and festivals to follow! Sign up to my newsletter for more details.

Me: Thanks again, and please come back, okay?

Sarah: Sure thing, take it easy!

That about does it for this entry. Man, there is so many questions I wanted to ask her. I hope to have Sarah on the Phile again soon. Well, that does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Sarah Williams White. The Phile will be back next Friday for the start of four entries in a row. Friday it's singer Vanessa Rose, Saturday it's Christopher Noyes, lead singer for Florida band Solia Noyes, Sunday it's artist Rebekie Bennington and Monday Phile Alum Charlotte Sometimes. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pheaturing Jeff Smith From Hickoids

Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday, how are you? Yep, it's Sunday, and do you know what that means? "Breaking Bad" will have its final episode tonight. I have only seen the first few episodes myself, but if you don't know what it's about I'll tell you. It's about a chemistry teacher who has cancer and starts making meth to help cover his medical bills and provide for his family. Or as Republicans call that, a legitimate alternative to Obamacare.  Speaking of Obamacare... In his effort to try to stop Obamacare, Texas Senator Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours and 19 minutes nonstop. That's impressive, but still eight hours short of the record held when somebody asked Joe Biden, "Hey, what's new?"  In Russia a group of parents have asked Vladimir Putin to cancel an Elton John concert because they say it promotes a homosexual lifestyle. They say they don't want to see gay people on stage. They're going to replace it with a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet.  A North Carolina woman stabbed her roommate's ex-boyfriend because she claimed he wouldn't stop playing Eagles music. He's okay, but apparently she stabbed him with those steely knives but she just couldn't kill the beast.  So, we have a few days before the government will close down. When they say they're closing down the government, people get scared. I'll give you an example. Diana Nyad swam back to Cuba.  If you were wondering what you should actually be outraged about this week, it's this. Former high school teacher Stacey Rambold is going free after serving a 30-day sentence for raping a 14-year-old student in 2007. She later committed suicide. The insanely lenient sentence was handed down to Rambold by G. Todd Baugh, the sleaziest judge of all time, who commented at the sentencing that the girl was "older than her chronological age." Prosecutors are appealing the sentence, which is good because otherwise I would march on over to Montana and personally appeal the sentence.  Burger King released their lower-calorie Satisfries this week, and now McDonald's is getting ready to offer more healthy options in their value meals as well. Pretty soon, you'll be able to sub in vegetables, fruit, or even a salad for fries (can't wait to see how many people take advantage of that trade). It's like these two fast food giants don't even care about the grease that made America great, if greatness is measured in daily caloric intake. Fast food places should be responsible for making well-salted cardboard we eat guiltily on road trips or at 3 a.m. Nothing more, nothing less. It's like that Rolling Stones song: "I fry and I fry and I fry... I can't get no satisfraction."  I mentioned this yesterday and I have to mention this again... Apparently, in China, people are just growing new noses right and left. A 22-year-old had his original nose seriously injured in a car crash, but did little to repair it. When the nose became infected, it wasn't possible to do reconstructive surgery, so doctors implanted tissue into his forehead and then something something science there is a nose growing out of his forehead. Eventually, they'll replace his old and busted nose with the new hotness nose. So yeah, if you were wondering if China was going to control the world anytime soon, they are. I have to show you a picture of this. It's not the greatest picture but you'll get the idea.

That pic actually is rather confusing.  Last week I think it was I mentioned how much I don't like Bill Nye. Well, this past week he was injured on "Dancing With the Stars". Yeah! I am so happy. I don't know much about his old TV show, but when I met him back in '96 or so he was a complete arsehole. I will tell you kids the story one day. Anyway, when I looked at one of his old ads for his TV show I am not surprised he is an ass.

What a dick.  I went to McDonald's for dinner last night and couldn't believe the menu they now have.

Haha. Those were the days, right?  So, space fans, did you hear a NASA space probe found Han Solo on Mercury's surface? No? Well, I have the proof.

That's so stupid. It does look kinda like Han Solo frozen in carbonite though, doesn't it? Kinda maybe? Did you guys see the ad for Dyson vacuum's? All I could think of was those sick bastards at Dyson. Check it out.

Actually, that might be worth a try... just kidding. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Signs That It's Fall In New York
5. Jets coach Rex Ryan has been calling out plays between bites of caramel apple.
4. The smell of urine in the subways carries a delightful hint of nutmeg.
3. The family of sparrows that lives in Trump's hair has flown south for the winter.
2. Over the weekend, a tireless Mayor Bloomberg was seen raking Central Park.
And the number one sign that it's fall in New York...
1. Now, when a homeless guy spits on you, you can almost see his breath.

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Alright, do you remember the Phile character Eve Rest? Well, she's back and wants to tell us something that is really upsetting her. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Eve, welcome back to the Phile. So, what's up?

Eve: The ATM had no 50s so I got my pay in 20s.

Me: What's wrong with that?

Eve: Now my wallet won't close.

Me: I'm sorry. Eve Rest, kids!

It's 11:41 a.m., 80°F and People Magazine had the chance to catch up with Kelly and learn about her awesome experience in Peru! Get all of the details and read the full story here...,,20734184,00.html.

Looks like she's at the Animal Kingdom at Disney. Haha. Okay, well, it's that time again. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man and phriend of the Phile. Please welcome back to the Phile Laird Jim with...

I took one of my clients and his five year old daughter into NYC so she can begin her cancer treatments tomorrow. She was very happy to show me her new butterfly ring. I told her how much I love butterflies and she smiled and hugged me. When I ended my day, I found the ring on the floor in the backseat. First thing tomorrow, I'm bringing it to her before her treatment starts.

Wow, Laird. Let us know how she is.

The 36th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Rebekie Bennington and this is one of her pieces...

Rebekie will be a guest on the Phile a week from today.

Today's pheatured guest is the lead singer for the great band that I love... Hickoids. They have a new fantastic album called "Hairy Chafin' Ape Suit" which is available on iTunes and they'll be next appearing tonight at Tex Pop in San Antonio, Texas. Please welcome to the Phile from Hickoids... Jeff Smith.

Me: Hello, Jeff, and welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Jeff: Thanks for inviting us in. Doing well.

Me: I'm a big fan of the band so I'm glad you here. Hickoids were originally formed in the 80s, am I right? Was it around '84?

Jeff: We started late in '83, and played our first real show in March '84.

Me: All you guys are from Texas, I take it. Where abouts?

Jeff: I live in San Antonio, the rest of the guys live in Austin.

Me: How did the band originally form? Were you all members of other bands and decided to get together?

Jeff: I originally started the band with a fellow known only as Jukebox. He really recruited me, he's about ten years my senior. We started writing songs together and went through a few editions of the band before recording our first album "We're In It For The Corn" in 1985. He did one more EP with us, departing in late '86 I believe. Davy and I have been the mainstays since then.

Me: Hickoids were once branded a country band, but I wouldn't call you country. What kinda music would you call the Hickoids?

Jeff: Mmmm... I don't think country fans have ever thought of us as a country band. We used to refer to ourselves as a cowpunk band but I think that has a lot of negative connotations now. We are a rock band.

Me: The band took a hiatus years ago. What made you guys reform?

Jeff: Aw, I think Davy and I always knew we would reform the band at some point in time. We felt like we had left a lot business unfinished. And we're too old to start over under a new name. LMAO. 

Me: The band didn't reform or get together with all the original members... Richard Hays your original bass player passed away. What happened and when and how did you find out?

Jeff: Richard died of heart failure in 2001. He had issues with his heart for a number of years and didn't take very good care of himself. Mitch Webb of the San Antonio band The Swindles called and told me.

Me: So, I have to ask, where did the band name come from? And who came up with it?

Jeff: Davy Jones came up with it before he was in the band. Jukebox and I were at his apartment one day and we saw a homeless guy in a crumpled cowboy hat digging in the dumpster. Davy said, "That's one hickoid looking son of a bitch.", and we knew instantly that would be our name.

Me: Would you call yourselves hicks?

Jeff: Not really. We're not urbane... but we are city boys.

Me: You guys I am sure have your share of stories and tales. And you have all been arrested once or twice I believe. Haha. I've never been arrested myself. Was there ever a time you felt that was it, your life is ending?

Jeff: I think Davy and are the only ones out if the current edition of the band who have been arrested. None of my many trips to jail were fun but they were a necessary part of getting to where I am today. But to answer your question I never felt like "this is it". Stupid, angry, remorseful... yes. Fatalistic... no.

Me: I am sure you had your share of parties... what is the craziest thing you ever did at a party?

Jeff: That is almost impossible to say. Maybe drawing a swastika on Davy Jones' scrotum while he was passed out and then calling him Nazi Balls when he came to.

Me: Oh, man. And what has been the craziest gig you have ever done?

Jeff: Crazy good or crazy bad?

Me: You tell me.

Jeff: One Mardi Gras in New Orleans in the mid-80s comes to mind. We played with The Offenders and Scratch Acid. I'd have to kill you if I were to share any more.

Me: Then don't. Didn't you play a show for two people once and one of those guys were Peter Buck from REM? Was this before REM were known?

Jeff: No, REM was famous at the time. I think it was '85 or '86 in Athens. A friend of mine was their manager when they first started and called him and asked him to come out to the show. We shared a couple of bills with The Baseball Project at SXSW a couple of years ago. He was really nice and told me that he still had our first album from that night, and we traded copies of our new CD's. The other person there was Davy's father. After hearing the band that night he remarked "I hear the punk, where's the cow?"

Me: What happened? Was that show badly promoted? Do you remember much of it?

Jeff: Aw, usual mid-80s unknown road band shit. The headliner was called Strawberry Fields, a cover band. Place was packed almost immediately after we got done. I think we either got stiffed or some fairly insulting amount of money. I do know we had a fight amongst ourselves in the street in the middle of the night in downtown Athens which is a pretty quiet place.

Me: And didn't Nine Inch Nails open for you guys? Now Trent Reznor has an Oscar. Crazy.

Jeff: Yes they did and yes, that is crazy. There is no accounting for taste.

Me: Haha. Jeff, who are your favorite bands you have ever played with?

Jeff: From the old days?

Me: Any days.

Jeff: The West Coast cowpunk bands... Tex & The Horseheads, Blood on The Saddle, The Screamin' Sirens. The U-Men from Seattle, Tales of Terror, Loco Gringos, Cows, Sin City Disciples and of course our Austin homies like Poison 13 and The Offenders. In the new era The Poor Dumb Bastards, The Grannies, Pat Todd & The Rank Outsiders, The Beaumonts, Loco Gringos, Churchwood, PiƱata Protest, to name a few. l know I'm leaving out many and hope no one is offended, but these are the main ones that come to mind that we've shared a lot of camaraderie with.

Me: All bands I'd love to pheature on the Phile. On the Phile I interviewed The Whiskey Rebel from Rancid Vat. I bet you guys have played with Rancid Vat and partied with them. Am I right?

Jeff: Partied with maybe, played with no.

Me: Okay, lets talk about your new release "Hairy Chafin' Ape Suit" which I downloaded from iTunes and really like. I am guessing the title is a Planet of the Apes reference judging by the album cover. Am I right?

Jeff: No.

Me: Then what is the title referring to?

Jeff: It is a title we've had for over 20 years... it just had kind of a funny ring to it. I could explain the whole story behind it and you would understand less than you do now and have to buy more server space. But, it doesn't refer to any real or specific thing and the cover art was conceptualized after the album title.

Me: The album is mostly originals with a few covers. What covers are on the album?

Jeff: "Fruit Fly" is a cover of the Loco Gringos song from the 80s, "Stop It You're Killing Me" was originally by a San Antonio band called the Happy Dogs. I reworked that one.

Me: There's a song called "TJ". What does TJ stand for?

Jeff: Tijuana. Pepe from the Loco Gringos and I wrote the first verse of the song one night in Dallas around 1990. I spent 20 years finishing it.

Me: I am quite sure you are gonna be touring behind this album. Will you guys be playing in Florida?

Jeff: Eventually. We need to get down and see our old buddy Ernie Locke from The Sin City Disciples and Tenderloin in Tampa. We played with Blowfly (he's from Miami) two nights ago.

Me: How would you compare the Hickoids shows now to the ones when you started out? Do you still party a lot?

Jeff: They are not as chaotic. None of the band members pass out on stage. The music is better. I'm sexier. My dick is bigger. Neither Davy or I drink alcohol anymore.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random topics thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? Which of your ancestors would you like most to meet?

Jeff: I'm a distant relative of both Edgar Allen Poe and Pretty Boy Floyd so it's a toss-up.

Me: That's really cool. Jeff, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your websites and please come back again soon.

Jeff: Thanks for inviting us in. You can find us at (links to all the usual social networking sites there) and my label website is I have lots of great stuff by regional bands who meet at the intersection of punk and roots. Go ahead and get your credit card out before you hit the site, you won't leave empty handed.

Me: Really cool, and maybe I'll have some of those bands on the Phile. Thanks, Jeff.

If that's not a Planet of the Apes reference I don't know what is. Haha. That about does it for this entry of the phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and of course Jeff Smith. The Phile will be back tomorrow with British singer Sarah Williams White and then next week there's gonna be four entries... Four! Friday it's singer Vanessa Rose, Saturday it's Christopher Noyes, lead singer for the Florida band Solia Tera. Sunday it's artist Rebekie Bennington and Monday Phile Alum Charlotte Sometimes. That's the plan anyway. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pheaturing Branko Vranic

Hey there, and welcome to the Phile. It's Saturday, kids. How are you? Alright, let's start off with a story from my home country. Northampton, England is being haunted by a "spooky clown" with red hair and a bunch of balloons. Nobody knows who this clown is or where he came from. They just know he's fucking terrifying. Police issued a warning after the nightmare-inducing clown was seen acting "suspiciously" on multiple occasions, and a vigilante who calls himself The Clown Catcher has vowed to rid the town of its clown problem. Really, though, the residents of Northampton should probably just pack up and move someplace else. It's not worth it. Haha. I have to show you a picture of this clown, this is real and this is what he looks like.

Northampton people, move to Clermont, Florida. The clown around here is me and I'm not scary. President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had recently spoken with one another on the telephone. This marks the first time time the leaders of those two countries have had such direct communication since 1979. A 15 minute call between Obama and Iran's president may not sound big but it's longer than I've talked on the phone to any guy friend in 5 years.  Did you hear this? A Chinese surgeon created a second nose on a man's forehead, using cartilage from the man's ribs, because apparently that's a thing that science now allows for. Dr. Guo Zhihui is planning to transplant this newly-constructed proboscis to the man's face as a replacement for his original nose, which apparently has been damaged badly-enough to make this ordeal worthwhile. How many more times will I have to look at a picture of a man growing a nose on his forehead before the internet will be happy?  According to a recent taste test conducted by the Washington Post, the number on the price tag of salmon has little to do with its taste. Food connoisseurs were given samples of the fish, ranging in price from $20 a pound from high-end sources in places like Norway, Scotland and Chile to $6 a pound from the frozen food section Costco. In a terrible blow to food snobbery everywhere, the Costco salmon scored the highest. Many monocles were dropped into snifters of Grand Marnier.   Former "30 Rock" star Alec Baldwin is very very intent on helping his wife Hilaria, who is pregnant with his child, with this yoga that she's doing for the camera. Apparently focusing all his energy on not blurting out any homophobic slurs at the cameraman or calling his unborn child a rude thoughtless little pig, Baldwin stares straight ahead into the middle distance while pressing into his wife's hips gently with his fingers facing toward himself. He remembers to breathe.  Britney Spears has signed a two-year deal to perform at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. If you go to Vegas you don’t want to miss that show. They say seeing Britney in concert is the closest thing to seeing her sing live.  Okay, I have to show you something that is pretty disturbing. Over in the Middle East they are selling shirts with a certain print on that will definitely piss any American or person with a soul off. This, kids, is 100% real.

When I saw this I was disturbed and I felt I had to show everybody. You can buy this shirt at Middle Eastern malls. Man, I want to punch that guy in his shit eating grin.  In a recent radio interview, Barilla pasta chairman Guido Barilla said that he wouldn’t feature a gay family in a Barilla ad because his pastas are for a “classic family.” He added that anyone who didn’t agree could eat another pasta. Sounds good to us... bring on the Ronzoni! Anyway, I was surprised at this then saw a box of one of his products.

Idiot.  So, I saw an ad for Stanley Tools the other day and I was very surprised...

What the hell I thought. Okay, and now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Phive Groups Of People Who Watched "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D."
5. People who loved The Avengers, but wished it had no Avengers in it. 
4. Fans hoping this will lead to another Avengers spin-off show, "Captain America's Got Talent".
3. People who like their superhero action cheap-looming and toned down for network television.
2. Joss Whedon fanatics... who would watch an episode of "Nightline" if he directed it.
And the number one group of people who watched "Agents if S.H.I.E.L.D." are...
1. Acronym aficionados. 

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Alright, it's Week 4 for the NFL season, so once again I have to talk football with my good friend Jeff. So, once again here's...

Me: Hey, Jeff. welcome back.

Jeff: It's always great to be back on the Phile.

Me: So, what's the latest news in the world of NFL?

Jeff: There isn't a whole lot of other news right now. Some really good games last week and then there was this one team that lost 38-0. I mean who loses that badly? Oh, sorry. It was the Giants.

Me: You brought it up, and I didn't want to. Let's talk about them Giants. What the fuck happened? I think they'll win this weekend beating Kansas City by six. Haha.

Jeff: None of our teams are doing well, but yeah that is just sad. It starts with Eli Manning. He has turned over the ball way too much. They also don't have anyone to run the ball. And as far as their defense goes, they are definitely missing Usi who is now in Atlanta

Me: Alright, so how did we do last week? Lori still beating us?

Jeff: As far as last week goes, Lori is still in the lead. She went 1-1. You also went 1-1. Then there is me... I went 0-2. And all three of our teams lost last week. So right now the standings are Lori has sixteen points, you have six points and I am sitting in last place with three points.

Me: Yes! I'm beating you! I call this the Tie-Breaker Year even Lori is taking part. Alright, this week's picks... I say Rams will win by six and Bears by eleven. What do you kids say?

Jeff: This week Lori picks the Chiefs by one point and the Colts by three points. My picks are Baltimore by seven and New England by three points.

Me: Alright, good luck and I will see you here next weekend.

Jeff: See you next week.

It's 4:54 pm, 80°F and Kelly and Will.i.Am are going to announce the American Music Awards nominations on October 10. The ceremony will broadcast live from Los Angeles on November 24th from 8:00 – 11:00 PM ET/PT on ABC.

Alright, a friend of the Phile wanted to come on with a story. Yep, it's that time. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. It's time for...

Almost 5 o'clock, my freaky little darlings. Let the mayhem begin. An old friend asked if I wanted to meet her for a drink earlier. I guess she thought it would be cute to send me to a gay bar (thinking it would put me off). Mistake one. By the time she arrived, I'd gotten 3 phone numbers, 2 drinks bought for me and an invitation to see Kinky Boots next month... Bitch didn't know who she was fuckin' with.

Today's guest is the 35th artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery, and has a cool sounding name. Please welcome to the Phile... Branko Vranic.

Me: Hello, Branko, welcome to the Phile, man. How are you?

Branko: Hey hey! I'm quite good. Thanks for having me!

Me: Man, I love your name. It's very Star Warsish. Does it mean anything?

Branko: Too many people get confused and call me Bruno. The name is a variation on the Slavic 'Branislav', which translates roughly to "glorious defender". Or something like that.

Me: I see. My name Jason means sexual healer. Where are you from, Branko?

Branko: I was born in Loznica, Serbia. At the age of 4, during the Yugoslavian war, I moved to Kutina, Croatia. I was there until 2000 when I moved to Canada.

Me: You live in Canada now? What part and what made you move from Croatia to Canada?

Branko: Kutina is about 100km from Zagreb, the capital. I regret never having seen the Croatian coastline. One day I hope to return and check it out, it looks amazing!

Me: Okay, let's talk about your artwork, which I have to say, of all the artists I interviewed here on the Phile your work is the most complex and detailed I have ever seen. How long does it take to do one piece? I am guessing years. Haha.

Branko: Usually it takes somewhere between one to two weeks.

Me: Your work is so freakin' detailed, how do you know if it's completed?

Branko: I totally don't think my work is detailed enough. I'm always working on trying to make the drawings more complex. It's completed when I get sick of it and am ultimately kind of underwhelmed. Then I come back to it later and say, "Yeah that's actually not too bad."

Me: Branko, when did you first descide to become an artist?

Branko: I was getting into graphic design in grade 12 or so. Illustration became a sort of natural extension of that. I went to college for design, and the best parts of that were the projects involving illustration. I still do commercial design from time to time, but maaaann it can be boring.

Me: Do you remember what your first published piece was?

Branko: I think I was in grade 12. I did a 'zine cover of a monster destroying a school bus. It looks terrible now. I actually may have purged it off my hard drive.

Me: I have no idea who your inspiration would be. For some reason though I am thinking R. Crumb. Are you aware of his work?

Branko: R. Crumb is great! I think I saw Fritz the Cat when I was 12 or so. I don't think it influenced me as much, but his stuff is always fantastic. The biggest influences for me are definitely Mike Mignola, Jean Giraud, and Hieronymus Bosch. Throw in a bit of Charles Burns and Mike Allred and that should cover it. I am by no means anywhere close to any of those guys, but I enjoy looking at their work the most.

Me: I first discovered your work when I saw the "Hail Sagan" piece which I showed here on the Phile last week. Were you a fan of Carl Sagan growing up?

Branko: I wasn't aware of Sagan until I saw Contact in 2003 or so. Even then I wasn't too familiar with him, up until a few years ago. That's not to say I wasn't fascinated by science early on. Back in Croatia, I would make trips to the public library and try to read "A Brief History of Time" by Hawking. I was 10 or 11 or so. I didn't understand squat though. It was still fascinating just to TRY and understand that stuff so early on. So I've always been fascinated by it even though I have a limited understanding of the math involved. I do regret not actively trying to understand the math, but now I understand my brain's not even wired that way, hah.

Me: What was the inspiration behind this piece?

Branko: Initially it was just Sagan's head with a pentagram behind him. It was intended for a small shirt run for people on a message board I frequent. I then got the idea to create a full on "baphomet" version of the poster inspired by Madame Talbot's design. The first variation of the design had Sagan with devil horns and wings. This was the design I submitted to Teefury, but they (rightly so) chose to remove the overtly Satanic imagery. I just thought it was a good pun, and wanted the whole thing to look comically evil.

Me: I noticed a lot of comments that said the word Ockham is spelt wrong. It isn't, right? What is an Ockham anyway?

Branko: See, the reason I chose Ockham is because it sounds more ancient, and made sense with the baphomet/occult design. However, people sure did put up a fuss over that. It IS correct. Unfortunately, certain Americans sometimes don't understand that there are alternate spellings for words. Just look at the way British people spell skeptic (sceptic). I'm sure my understanding of the concept is slightly naive, but I understand it as a principle where out of two hypotheses a simpler explanation is often the correct one because it does away with unnecessary assumptions. But yeah, OCKHAM is correct. The name of the village William of Ockham was born in is spelled just that. There were so many comments that I considered changing it to Occam in the upcoming shirt reprint. But I'm keeping it as it was. My heart jumped when the first comment about that was posted. I quadruple checked before I submitted the design, but it made me so paranoid.

Me: I noticed you have quite a few pieces with sharks on them. I am guessing they are one of your favorite animals. Is animal a right word? Would a shark be a fish or mammal? Anyway, there has to be a reason you use sharks a lot.

Branko: Sharks are fish and they are awesome. They terrify me but are fun to draw. I've drawn sharks because I have a loose idea for a comic book where a shark astronaut explores the icy/watery moon Europa. It was going to be sort of like 2001: A Space Odyssey/Altered States, but with a shark.

Me: You have done a number of band posters, Branko. I'll show one here...

Me: How did you first start to get into that?

Branko: I started going to punk shows at an early age. Over time I befriended people who would promote shows, and somehow I started drawing posters for them.

Me: Are they local Ontario bands you do them for?

Branko: All the posters so far have been for shows that are local, yeah. Sometimes the bands are from the States, though. I would love to do posters for venues outside of my city too.

Me: Does the band or venue tell you what to draw or do you have to come up with it? How do you do that?

Branko: So far every person was okay with whatever I drew.

Me: What music and bands do you like, Branko?

Branko: Mostly 60s and 70s heavy psychedelic and progressive rock. So bands like Hawkwind, Stray, Master's Apprentices, Captain Beyond, etc. I buy a ton of vinyl, so that has kind of taken over my life. Drawing and record collecting, that's me.

Me: I love drawing and record collecting as well. You have done an album cover or two as well, am I right?

Branko: I've done a couple by now, yeah. Album covers are always super fun to draw, if a little frustrating.

Me: Who did you do that for?

Branko: Mostly for my friend Kyle who is in a band called Wayfarer. I've done a few others too. They've all been for vinyl releases so far. It's great because the canvas is so much larger than a CD insert.

Me: Okay, I have to ask what tools do you use? I am guessing you don't use computers like most artists do these days. Am I right?

Branko: I actually do... haha! It's still all drawn by hand though, just with a Wacom tablet. I recently got a new Cintiq which allows me to draw directly on the screen. So much better! As for software, I use Photoshop almost exclusively.

Me: Okay, Branko, if you were gonna design a logo for the Phile, what would it look like?

Branko: Hard question! When I design logos I almost always go for the slick and simple type based solution. I guess that's my college training. So it'd be something like that. I dig the logo you have now, it reminds me of the Monty Python's Crimson Permanent Assurance short. What with the filing cabinet cannons and everything.

Me: Hmmm... never thought of that. Branko, thanks very much for being here on the Phile. Please come back again. In the meantime, go ahead and plug your websites and everything.

Branko: Hey, thanks a ton for the interview! I really do appreciate it!, if anyone wishes to contact me directly.

Me: All the best, Branko. Take care.

Branko: You too and thanks again!!

There, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz, Laird Jim and of course Branko Vranic. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Jeff Smith, lead singer for the band The Hickoids and then on Sunday English singer Sarah Williams White. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!