Daily Archives: April 27, 2017

Little Dragon's 'Celebrate' Video Is a Surreal Acid Trip

Swedish synth-pop outfit Little Dragon unveiled a bizarre and engrossing new video for “Celebrate,” off their new album, Season High.

The Ossian Melin-directed clip comprises a mess of bizarre images washed in psychedelic effects. Singer Yukimi Nagano dances to the infectious track on a cliff overlooking a city, a stabbed piñata oozes green slime and drummer Erik Bodin watches in a giddy daze as a guitarist rips through the outrageous solo that closes “Celebrate.”

Little Dragon are touring the U.S. in support of Season High through May 6th. They’ll embark on another North American leg July 20th in Salt Lake City and wrap August 31st at the Apollo Theater in New York City. The band will also play several festival dates including FYF, Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Nagano spoke about the eclectic mix of styles that fill Season High, saying, “I know we have our sound, but I hope we can keep evolving and even if there is a genre that we’re in, not get stuck in that. In high school, we’d try to impress each other – have you heard this? – with any kind of music. We really want to be universal in that way.” 

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Telemundo Announces an All-Star Lineup of Sponsors and Partners for the 2017 'Billboard Latin Music Awards'

http://rockbands.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2017/04/Telemundo_Logo.jpg?p=captionMIAMI, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Telemundo today announced the sponsors of the industry’s most highly-anticipated Latin music awards show, the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards. This year’s sponsors include Comcast/Xfinity, Ford F-150, Garnier Fructis, M&M’s®, Pantelion…


Jack White Signs First-Ever Global Publishing Agreement With Universal Music Publishing Group

SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Jack White, the highly revered singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer, has signed a first-ever global, multi-year agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) to administer the iconic artist’s entire…


Watch Dan Auerbach's Solitary New 'King of a One Horse Town' Video

Dan Auerbach previewed his upcoming solo album Waiting on a Song with the scenic video for new song “King of a One Horse Town.” Auerbach’s album will be released on June 2nd.

Directed by Aaron Hymes and set primarily in the town of Helper, Utah, a long-haired man is seen mostly in solitude smoking and driving aimlessly. The serene, playful clip has the man taking in his surroundings, enjoying the view of the mountains and his time alone.

In a statement, Auerbach explained that the song’s title is meant to describe “anyone who’s scared of the outside world. Anyone who’s afraid to afraid to go beyond their own block for fear of failure.” He cites drug dealers, drunks and professors as examples.

The Black Keys’ member recorded the album in his home of Nashville, co-writing tracks with legendary songwriter John Prine, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas and Pat McLaughlin. On May 12th, he will perform at New York City’s Music Hall of Williamsburg in a concert that will livestream on SiriusXM’s Spectrum channel.

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Life of Agony's Mina Caputo: From Metal Alpha Male to Trans Role Model

“I was going to commit suicide. It got really, really, really, really bad. I couldn’t live another day.”

Nearly a decade has passed since Mina Caputo last seriously contemplated killing herself, but remembering the pain she felt before she came out publicly as transgender in 2011 still causes her face to tighten. She’ll talk about it, but she’s also quick to highlight how much better her life is these days. That’s because, after concealing her true self for decades as the frontperson for the metal group Life of Agony, she feels at peace.

It’s a chilly March day, and for most of our interview at one of her favorite New York City hangs – the quaint, sunny British comfort-food joint Tea and Sympathy – the petite singer, now age 43, is all smiles. The place is special to her because of its rock history; famous musicians dine there regularly, and she once even met David Bowie’s interior decorator there. “That lamp with the bulldog over there was in Bowie’s hotel room when he lived in Berlin with Iggy Pop,” she says in her thick Brooklyn accent as she pours peas into a chicken pot pie. Everything about her is bright, too. She’s even wearing a cardigan covered in smiley faces.

Her demeanor is a full 180 from the gloomy lyrics she sings with Life of Agony, a group that has straddled heavy metal, hardcore punk and hard rock during its nearly 30-year history. The band’s pummeling debut – River Runs Red, which became an instant classic in the metal underground upon its 1993 release – contains artwork that unfolds to reveal a slashed wrist, and its songs boast rattling lyrics (written by bassist Alan Robert) like, “Just give me one good reason to live/I’ll give you three to die.” Life of Agony’s subsequent albums, which feature contributions by Caputo, display a rare vulnerability for heavy music: broad-stroke cries for help, love and understanding, cocooned in fuzzy, distorted guitar riffs. In the Nineties, she was a rare singer who was willing to express her intimate, emotional side, unlike the hard-as-nails metal frontmen that were her peers.

Now the band is issuing A Place Where There’s No More Pain, its first LP in 12 years and first since Caputo’s transition. Although none of the songs explicitly address Caputo’s rebirth, they contain bleak, earnest ruminations on life’s struggles and disappointments. But, in the eyes of the band members, they serve a deeper purpose. “With the album title, it’s almost like we’re creating a safe haven for fans,” says Joey Z., Life of Agony’s soft-spoken guitarist and Caputo’s cousin. “A lot of people go through the same struggles as us, and they have the same fears and insecurities, so our message is, ‘Come join us.'”

Caputo didn’t have any such guiding light when she was growing up. Born Keith Caputo in 1973, she grew up in Mill Basin, Brooklyn, an insular neighborhood on the borough’s south shore that had a strong Italian-American population. Her mother died of a heroin overdose when Caputo was only a year old, and by her account, her father, also a drug addict, abandoned her, forcing her to grow up with her hard-nosed paternal grandparents. When her dad did come around, he was her burden. “I was mothering him through his life,” Caputo says, between bites. “I was giving him money, putting him up at my home, bailing him out of jail, buying him dope, watching him punch walls, trying to heal his gangrene.”

But that pales compared to what she endured at home, where she suffered perpetual physical abuse at the hands of her grandfather. “He’d come running after me if I took my shoes off without untying my laces,” she says. “He’d chase me if I ran up the stairs holding the banister, because I was loosening it.” She says he also beat her grandmother, whom Caputo grew up calling “mom.” “I hated my family,” she says. “I hated myself. I hated the fact that I was born into this world. I didn’t feel normal. I didn’t feel like every other guy felt. I knew there was something peculiar going on with me, but I didn’t know what ‘transgender’ meant.”

Caputo still vividly remembers expressing her gender dysphoria at a young age and the trouble it caused her. “My grandmother used to dress me to go to school, and I asked her, ‘Why can’t you dress me in girls’ clothes?'” she says. “‘You’re not a girl. Don’t tell Grandpa you want to dress up as a girl and go to school. He’ll fucking kill you. He’ll kill me.'” (Although she never came out to him, Caputo’s grandfather asked for her forgiveness for his cruelty shortly before his death.)

Caputo eventually forced herself to put on an air of masculinity, though it wasn’t always convincing. Her cousin remembers an understanding between them, regarding her identity. “We were born and raised together in the same house,” Joey Z. says. “We were literally together since birth. I was fully aware of Mina’s changes as they were happening over the years, but it’s not something we ever sat down and talked about. So for me [her transition] wasn’t any big shock.”

When she was a teen, Caputo found solace in music. Her uncle bought a piano for her grandparents, and she took lessons between ages 15 and 18, burying herself in classical music. “I would pull a lot of sadness from Chopin and Beethoven,” she says. “It was my inspiration growing up.” She also dug into the grooves of her uncle’s vinyl collection, reveling in the works of Queen, Bowie, Pink Floyd, Muddy Waters and Billie Holiday, among others. “I loved Led Zeppelin,” she says. “I knew I wanted to be Robert Plant when I was a kid. He confused me. I couldn’t pinpoint if he was a guy or a girl or what he was.”

While she was practicing piano, she recalls her cousin inviting his “rock-head” friends over to play guitar. “Mina carried my amp down the block the first time I ever jammed with a drummer,” Joey recalls. “Then she sang lyrics off a Raid can into a microphone, and that was the start of Life of Agony.”

The group officially formed in 1989 with a lineup rounded out by bassist Alan Robert Goldstein and a revolving door of drummers. They eventually recruited Sal Abruscato of goth-metal band Type O Negative to fill the position permanently. “I wasn’t even a singer,” Caputo recalls. “They were like, ‘You’re singing for the band.’ And I’m like, ‘Guys, I can’t fucking sing.'” Nevertheless, she learned quickly. Video of a gig from summer 1990 shows Caputo prowling the stage, shirtless, puffing out his chest and bellowing tough-guy invectives. That same year, the band started putting out demo tapes recorded by members of Type O Negative and hardcore band Biohazard. The music recalled the hardcore of the Cro-Mags and Sick of It All but with a metallic sheen.

Caputo strains to sound like an alpha male on the demo song “Step Aside,” screaming hate toward an ex-girlfriend: “Don’t you dare fuck with my feelings, you bitch.” And on another early song, “Depression,” which appeared on two Life of Agony tapes, she sang lyrics about wanting to die in the darkest ways possible: “Why is it so easy for those gays to get A.I.D.S.?” It’s a disturbing instance in Life of Agony’s history, and by the time they put out their first official full-length, they’d erased bigotry from their lyric sheets.

When I read that lyric back to her today, she pauses and says, “Really?” She thinks about it and says, “That’s pretty fucked up. I didn’t write that song.

“It’s a testament to how we were brought up,” she says. “I was a racist. I was a homophobe. That’s why I hated myself. I grew up with an Italian, wife-beating, maniacal fucking psycho that hated anything and anyone who wasn’t Italian. He hated gays, transsexuals, Jews. A lot of us came from that.

“I knew it was wrong to feel and think that way,” she continues, “but when you’re in the throes of being raised by people like my grandparents, you can’t even put up an argument. Everything was ‘nigger this, nigger that’ and ‘fucking faggot this’ and ‘faggot that.’ ‘Paint your hair red, you fag?’ It’s how we were raised. I actually haven’t thought about that song or those lyrics in … Jesus. I fucked up. But you live and you learn.”

Through it all, Caputo hid herself, and the band got bigger and bigger. Eventually, they were able to sell out multiple nights in a row at the now-defunct Brooklyn metal joint L’Amour. Indie metal label Roadrunner took notice and eventually issued River Runs Red in October 1993.

A few days after dining at Tea and Sympathy, Caputo, along with her cousin and bassist Robert meet me at famed tattoo artist Paul Booth’s Last Rites Gallery. Joey knows the tattoo artist, because he’d worked in the studio on an ambient record Booth had made. The walls are lined with eerie, phantasmagoric artwork by painters Paul Cristina and Eric Lacombe. The musicians move from painting to painting, raving about the way the artists captured death. And when Booth invites the trio into his inner sanctum – his personal tattooing room, adorned with skeletons, toys and curiosities – they all smile from ear to ear. Robert takes close-up pictures of Booth’s collection. Caputo offers the artist her skull when she dies. Eventually, they settle onto some coffin-shaped couches to reflect on their career, and Robert exclaims that he feels right at home.

“Our first record was basically my diary,” he says, referring to River Runs Red‘s gruesome, depressing lyrics. Although the record missed the charts, its uniquely emotional and often blunt expressions of suicidal feelings made Life of Agony stick out in the metal herd. And Caputo’s striking vocals – more of a confident melodic croon than an angry hardcore bark – coupled with their pugilistic, college-radio-ready riffs earned them play on Headbangers Ball and a spot opening for Anthrax. They became infamous when as an 18-year-old fan died in a mosh pit at one of their L’Amour gigs in 1994, marking the first time such an event drew national attention. “It didn’t empower the band, I’ll tell you that,” Caputo says, looking back on a trial her bandmates attended. “Now I try to encourage the kids that this is a place of unity and balance and harmony. Don’t be a bunch of fucking idiots, punching people in the face just because you can get away with it. Don’t be a fucking pussy.”

The exposure nevertheless helped the band’s follow-ups, 1995’s more mainstream-rock LP Ugly (which features Caputo’s heartrending tribute to her mother, “Let’s Pretend”) and 1997’s Soul Searching Sun, make it onto the charts. In the middle of it all, the band was struggling with in-fighting, leading to the ejection of Abruscato, and Caputo was becoming a drug addict. “A day turned into a weekend, and a weekend turned into a week of feeling like I wanted to die,” she says. “When you’re a fucking cokehead, you want to die every day. You can’t deal with anything. I wanted to escape this reality.”

In 1997, as the singles “Weeds” and “Tangerine” were the band’s first to crack the upper regions of the mainstream rock charts, Caputo decided she’d had enough. She’d been living a double life, frequenting what she calls “transsexual bars” since she was 18. (Incidentally, she prefers the term “transsexual” to transgender, “because it’s more scandalous.”) “I learned about it all from the girls in the street,” she says. “How to acquire hormones without a doctor and how to escort, how to traffic drugs. … I was an assassin. I was like Rimbaud on the worst coke trip ever.” Although she did not take hormones at the time, she knew how she wanted to live her life – but she wasn’t ready to come out.

What she did know she could change, though, was her place in the band. So she quit Life of Agony in September 1997, the same month they put out Soul Searching Sun. “[My bandmates] couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t enjoying the success of the band,” she says. “We were about to blow up on Soul Searching Sun, and I left. I was like, ‘What good is my success if I can’t even enjoy my fucking soul and my body?’ I wanted to come out then, but failed miserably and didn’t have the courage or the knowhow. I didn’t know what to do.”

So she struggled on her own. She made a poppy demo with a short-lived group called Absolute Bloom and worked on her solo debut, Died Laughing, while her bandmates sought a replacement. “We were on the cover of [the music-focused New Jersey alt-weekly] The Aquarian and in the back of the issue, there was an ad for our singer,” Robert says. “It was unbelievable.” Eventually they found a bizarre one that worked: Ugly Kid Joe headbanger Whitfield “I Hate Everything About You” Crane. “He was the only one that we auditioned who could even hit the notes,” Robert explains. They ended up splitting in 1999. Joey Z. went on to try his hands at nu-metal in the group Stereomud, while Robert delved deeper into hard rock with his Among Thieves project.

At the insistence of their agent, Dan DeVita, Life of Agony reunited for live shows in 2002 with Caputo and Abruscato on board, while the singer concurrently kept her solo career going. She rejoined Life of Agony partly to have an outlet to cope with the loss of her father, who’d died recently. They issued a comeback album in 2005, Broken Valley, but it was a bittersweet moment. The band’s label, Epic, had hidden software on the CDs that kept fans from ripping the music into their iTunes libraries, and, facing scrutiny, it recalled copies of the album shortly after its release, hindering the record’s success. “We used to call it the black cloud,” Joey Z. says. Robert adds, “Circumstance and destiny kept knocking us down.”

Disillusioned, Caputo drifted between Europe and Los Angeles in the mid-2000s and toured in support of solo releases. She eventually decided to stay in Europe but was caught in Germany while traveling between countries with an expired visa and was sent back to the U.S. By 2008, she was ready to commit suicide. In her words, she was “a loaded fucking gun playing Russian roulette with my life every day.” She was snorting coke, taking pills and was addicted to OxyContin.

“I wanted to come out,” she says. “I couldn’t bear pretending to be a boy anymore in this fucking world. I really wanted to just let her out. It was fucking killing me.” That year, a friend directed her to a gender therapist, who, in 2009, gave her the option of either going to a doctor who would ask her to live as a woman full-time without hormones or to see an endocrinologist who would set her on her path.

She chose the latter and began transitioning, kicking her drug addictions along the way, though she still hid her new life from her bandmates. “I was living in stealth for about three years, because my titties were budding and I could still hide them,” she says. “But it got to the point that my body changed so much I couldn’t hide the physical changes.”

She came out publicly in a fit of anger when a fan harassed her online. She remembers reading a message to her on Facebook along the lines of: “Why do you look like a girl more and more every day? You’re disgusting. You’re never going to be a real girl. Get over yourself. You’re the reason A.I.D.S. exists.” “It was the first and last time I ever reacted to negativity online,” she says. “I outed myself. ‘I’m a fucking transsexual. Fuck you.’ And that’s when the band found out.”

“I literally found out getting onstage at a show in Holland,” Robert recalls. “We were about to step out, and the promoter said, ‘Should I announce this as your last show?’ And I go, ‘Why would you do that?’ He showed me his phone, and it was all over the metal news. It was a shock to me. We played the show and we talked on the bus, just the two of us.”

He turns to the singer. “What bothered me wasn’t that you came out,” he says. “I was proud that you did that. That was such a fearless act. For me, I thought we were closer, that you would feel comfortable enough to be honest with me.”

At the teashop, Caputo reflects on her relationship with the band. “They knew I was eccentric,” she says. “I was a very effeminate guy. She was busting at the seams my whole life. It was just a little mind-blowing for everyone. Then it was like, ‘All right, now what?’ But we never officially broke up.”

But that’s not what the metal blogs reported at the time. Abruscato told the press in 2012 that the band could no longer play live because “Keith wants to pursue his life and his lifestyle,” but their agent convinced them to reunite again in 2014, as he’d been getting a number of requests. Caputo, feeling hurt by Abruscato’s comments, approached him about them. She now says that there had been a misunderstanding. “Now he’s like, ‘My fuckin’ girlfriend’s here!’ when he sees me,” she says. “All of the members of the band are so wonderful, holding doors open for me, carrying my bags, making sure I’m safe. They treat me like they treat their wives.

“I think it’s so beautiful, and I think it’s so special,” she continues. “What people don’t understand is not only are we transitioning ourselves, but the people around you need to transition as well. … I hope to marry a man just like one of the boys in the band. Because they’re very loyal.”

Sitting on his coffin couch, Robert says the band is finally in a place spiritually that makes sense. “This was the first time I felt like we were all on board,” he says. “In the past, me and Joey were always like, ‘Let’s do this,’ and when Mina was in her Keith period … “

“I wasn’t on board at all,” she finishes. “I took ’em straight to hell.”

Then, Robert, still parsing the past decade, turns to Caputo. “Was it clear to you back when you left the band in 1997 what you needed to do?”

“Yeah, absolutely,” she tells him. “I just didn’t know how to do it.”

“Being a part of it and seeing you drop out right when everything was crescendo-ing, I just couldn’t understand it,” the bassist says. “I was like, ‘You have everything at your fucking fingertips. Why throw that away?'”

“I had everything except myself,” Caputo says.

The band performed its first official concert with Mina Caputo as their frontwoman in August 2014 at Belgium’s Alcatraz fest, and the singer was nervous about how she’d be received. “It was nerve-racking,” she says. “I was living with the fear that I might get shot onstage. There were about 90,000 kids there, and 40,000 of them were going apeshit until the end, giving me love, holding up signs. It turned out to be everything I thought it wouldn’t be.”

By and large, she’s found metalheads to be supportive and receptive to her transition, much like how they shrugged it off when Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford came out as gay. “Everyone has this cliché idea about the metal scene, but I would like to prove everyone wrong, because the metal scene, the hardcore scene, the punk-rock scene, they’ve been nothing but amazing to me,” she says.

More than that, she says they seem to love her. “I keep on getting tattooed, hard-rock, gangster-looking motherfuckers DM-ing me, wanting to have sex or go out with me or experience me on an intimate level,” she says. “I feel like I’ve shifted so many male paradigms. It’s all very flattering. It can be cute. I’m not going to out anybody, but I can’t even begin to tell you the letters I’ve gotten from particular individuals in our business. The allies that I’ve amassed are just unbelievable.”

Despite this, she’s reticent to address her transition in Life of Agony’s lyrics, because she wants their music to be more “generalized and universal.” “The band makes more sense now than it did before,” she says. “It’s its own beautiful, perfect monster.” But she did sing about her transition on her 2013 solo album As Much Truth as One Can Bear. Its first song, the John Lennon–influenced “Identity,” opens with her singing, “Look at me, all of me/I am not a man, I am not a woman … Sew me back together again.” “That was my protest record,” she says. “I’ve been there, done that. Goodbye.”

One thing that’s helped Caputo greatly since her transition is seeing so many other public figures come out as transgender. The only high-profile musician to have come out before her was Clockwork Orange soundtrack composer Wendy Carlos; now the world is aware of transgender celebrities including Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Janet Mock and Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, who came out a nearly a year after Caputo. “I contacted Laura immediately when I read the Rolling Stone article where she came out,” the Life of Agony singer says. “I said, ‘You need any help with doctors or hormones, let me know, because I’ve been through it.’ I wanted to be there for her as much as I could. If she never needed me I was there for her.”

The respect was mutual. “I’d seen a Huffington Post article about Mina coming out and transitioning,” Grace tells Rolling Stone. “I saw similarities between our scenes, which are both male dominated and usually pretty aggressive and macho, so I felt a kinship with Mina. When I saw that story, I was like, ‘This is the universe telling me I have to accept myself.'”

A year later, the two women embarked on a solo tour together and got to know each other. “When I was on that tour, I was in the lowest of low places, so having her to look to and be like, ‘If you can do this, I can do this’ – that bit of wisdom or guidance meant a lot,” Grace says. “Having normal conversations and realizing, ‘OK, life can be normal – I can still tour and have friends’ meant a lot to me.”

“I don’t feel as alone,” Caputo says, reflecting on the emergence of trans celebrities. “Things have changed so fast politically and universally. People are becoming more and more fearless. It feels like the change I wanted to see in myself is taking place.”

Caputo has already been taking on the world fearlessly, as she puts it, but now she’s poised to do so in an even larger capacity with the release of Life of Agony’s new album and a spring tour along the East Coast and in Europe. “I’ve been through the biggest challenges I thought I’d never get through in my life,” she says. “I also have a very healthy view of death that allows me to live more peacefully. I don’t have happiness figured out or mapped out; I’m very fucking moody. But I’m getting a tighter grip on just who I am, why I am, where I am, where I’m going, why I’m going and what my purpose is on the planet. Now it’s, ‘How can I help the world around me? How can I continue to make incredible records with incredible people?’ I’m in a really good place spiritually.” 

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Laurence Fishburne Joins Joe Mantegna To Co-Host PBS' NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT: An American Tradition Honoring Our Heroes Past And Present

The gifted actress and singer Auli’I Cravalho (MOANA) will open PBS’ NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT with a special performance of the “National Anthem.”  The event is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on PBS Sunday, May 28, 2017, from 8:00 to 9:30 pm.WASHINGTON, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Oscar nominee and Emmy and Tony-Award winner Laurence Fishburne (BLACK-ISH) will join Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna (CRIMINAL MINDS) to host the 28th annual edition of PBS’ NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT. For almost three decades, PBS…


Berklee College of Music vergibt Beyoncés Formation Scholars Stipendium an Studentin

http://rockbands.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2017/04/Berklee_Logo.jpg?p=captionVALENCIA, Spanien, April 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —
Das Berklee College of Music ist eine von vier Universitäten, die sich an Beyoncé Knowles-Carters alljährlichem Formation Scholars Stipendium beteiligen, das von diesem Herbst an vergeben wird. Berklee vergibt ein Stipendium an eine…


Hear Buckingham McVie's Bubbly New Song 'Feel About You'

Fleetwood Mac‘s Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham show off their still-potent songwriting chemistry on “Feel About You,” the latest track to be unveiled from their forthcoming debut album as a duo. Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie will be released on June 9th.

“Feel About You” is a bubbly pop-rock song similar to much of McVie’s solo work and the material she wrote and sang lead on for Fleetwood Mac in the Eighties. “You are the sky at night/Black and white/Green and blue,” she croons on the jangly, infectious chorus.

Buckingham and McVie decided to release an album following the reunion of Fleetwood Mac’s classic Rumours lineup, as the band itself works out if they will be releasing new music as a whole. During the Seventies and Eighties, the two memorably harmonized on songs like “I Don’t Want to Know” and “Hold Me” and co-wrote many tracks on 1987’s Tango in the Night.

“We’ve always written well together, Lindsey and I, and this has just spiraled into something really amazing that we’ve done between us,” McVie tells Rolling Stone. The LP will also feature contributions from fellow Fleetwood Mac members John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums.

“We were exploring a creative process, and the identity of the project took on a life organically,” Buckingham adds. “The body of work felt like it was meant to be a duet album. We acknowledged that to each other on many occasions, and said to ourselves, ‘What took us so long?!!'”

The pair will embark on a tour in support of their project throughout June and July, pausing to re-team with fellow Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks for the band’s appearance at July’s Classic East and Classic West festivals in New York City and Los Angeles.

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See Ruth B's Live Debut of Soulful Single 'If This Is Love'

Last year, rising singer-songwriter Ruth B debuted her current new single “If This Is Love” during a performance at New York City’s Joe’s Pub. She has unveiled an exclusive clip of the live performance ahead of the release of her debut album Safe Haven.

Ruth B wrote the song on a Sunday during rehearsals for her first-ever NYC show and premiered at the gig the following night. She even has to use a lyric sheet while sitting at the piano and belting out the soulful, romantic ballad.

“‘If This Is Love’ was one of those songs that just happened,” she told Rolling Stone in a statement. “One minute I was sitting in a tiny rehearsal space with my bottled up emotions, the next I had the song. I think every now and then it’s okay to have questions, to be confused about love and to wallow in that. ‘If This Is Love’ is about not knowing and how sometimes that’s what we need to come face-to-face with the truth.”

Safe Haven will be released on May 5th. Ruth B will spend the entire month on tour in support of the LP.

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Black Crowes' Rich Robinson on 'Limitless' New Band the Magpie Salute

Around the time Rich Robinson released his last solo album, 2016’s Flux, the former Black Crowes guitarist journeyed to Applehead Studios in Woodstock, New York, to perform and record with his band in front of a live audience as part of the ongoing Woodstock Sessions. Robinson had taken part in the series once before, in 2014, and so this time he decided to try something a little different.

“I reached out to Marc Ford,” Robinson says, naming his one-time Black Crowes co-guitarist, who played on classic efforts like 1992’s The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion and 1994’s Amorica. Ford, with whom Robinson hadn’t spoken in more than a decade, said he was in. The next call Robinson made was to former Black Crowes keyboardist Eddie Harsch. “And Ed said, ‘I’m there,'” he recalls. The two joined Robinson and his band (which also includes latter-years Crowes bassist Sven Pipien), as well as various other musicians, in Woodstock, and over the course of three days laid down an assortment of covers from the likes of Delaney & Bonnie (“Comin’ Home”), Pink Floyd (“Fearless”), the Faces (“Glad and Sorry”) and Bobby Hutcherson (“Goin’ Down South”), among others, as well as extended, jammy run-throughs of Crowes nuggets like “What is Home” and the Amorica standout “Wiser Time.”

While the musicians were playing at Applehead, Robinson recalls, “I thought it was just gonna be, ‘Hey, here’s some more solo material for the band. …'” But the recordings wound up serving as the foundation for an entirely new outfit, the Magpie Salute, which will release its 10-track self-titled debut on June 9th. Today, Rolling Stone is premiering the album’s explosive opener, “Omission,” which is also the new band’s sole original composition. “Symbolically, it’s something that is just ours,” Robinson says of “Omission,” which features John Hogg, who had previously played with the guitarist in another project, Hookah Brown, on vocals. “It just was one of those things that was so organic, and it turned out great.”

The Magpie Salute is currently gearing up for a full-scale U.S. and European tour this summer. As for what people can expect to hear at these shows? That remains to be seen. “We’re going to be changing set lists every night,” Robinson says. “We’re learning about 100 songs to start with. There’ll be a lot of Crowes material, a lot of solo material, different covers, maybe new songs. It’s just something that’s going to keep growing and changing as we move along.”

This past January, the Magpie Salute made its live debut at New York’s Gramercy Theatre. Due to overwhelming ticket demand, what was initially scheduled to be one show quickly swelled to four consecutive-night sold-out performances, a fact that speaks to the intense fan base that still exists for the music Robinson made with his brother, vocalist Chris Robinson, in the Black Crowes. But given the siblings’ well-documented contentious relationship, and their seeming estrangement – at least musically – since that band called it quits for a second time in 2015, it appears that for anyone still jonesing for a Black Crowes fix, the Magpie Salute, with three former Crowes in tow (sadly, Harsch passed away on November 4th at the age of 59), is as close to it as they’re likely to get.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Robinson confirms. “This is basically it. That band won’t be together again.”

On the other hand, he adds, the future looks bright for the Magpie Salute. “I’m happy to be where I am now,” Robinson says. “I think this band is great – this is an evolution, and this is where we’re heading. The potential for us is limitless.”

The Magpie Salute seemed to spring from that first call you made to your former Black Crowes bandmate Marc Ford. Why did you reach out to him specifically?
Marc and I have always had this really deep musical connection. And, you know, he was always my favorite guitar player in the Crowes. I mean, everyone who’s played in the Crowes has been great. But Marc and I have this thing that’s really deep. And so I called him. I hadn’t talked to him directly since probably ’06. But I just thought, “Well, let’s see if Marc wants to come and play. …”

After Marc said yes, why was Eddie Harsch the next call you made?
I love Ed. He was a great person and we always kept in touch. And once Ed was in, we showed up to play and it was like we never left each other. The musical chemistry between the three of us is undeniable. And then you start thinking about the amount of time you spent with one another on tour. I mean, Eddie and I had spent over a decade on a bus. Marc and I, the same thing. And the three of us together. But, you know, originally Marc was more kind of brought in [to the Black Crowes] by Chris, my brother. So although Marc and I had this deep musical connection, a lot of times on a personal level there was kind of a line that almost had to be drawn. So I don’t feel like I was able to get to know Marc personally as much as I would have liked to.

So what happened once Marc and Eddie convened with you at Applehead?
Once we got to Woodstock and we were able to start working and playing it was, “Hey, man, let’s play these songs and see what happens.” There’s never too much planning going on. It just felt right. We had a lot of fun, it was three days and then I continued on my solo tour. But I was thinking, “How can we do this more? I love those guys and I really want to play with them more. And I love these guys that are in my band and I really want to play with them more.” So I thought about it for a couple weeks. And just through time I kind of came up with this concept for the Magpie Salute. Like, “Let’s do this and see what happens.”

The Magpie Salute is a big band. What do you find appealing about that?
There’s something that’s really cool about having a bunch of people onstage playing, but where it sounds like it’s not a bunch of people onstage playing, if that makes any sense. Like Delaney & Bonnie, one of my favorite bands. Or [Joe Cocker’s] Mad Dogs & Englishmen. You have these people onstage and everyone is so musically proficient that it just works. There’s a discipline there and there’s these constant moving parts, but there’s this thing and it’s amazing. And originally Marc and I were going to sing the majority of the songs, but then I was like, “Well, look, let’s bring in my friend John [Hogg].” He was in a band called Moke, and then he played with me in my first non-Crowes band called Hookah Brown. He’s an amazing singer and I’m a huge fan of his. So I said, “Let’s do this. Let’s open up the Crowes catalog. Let’s play more of our songs, let’s play covers, let’s see what happens.” Not unlike when you have Phil Lesh or Bob Weir going out, doing Furthur and those types of things. The Other Ones. I was like, “This could be really cool.”

“This is an evolution, and this is where we’re heading.”

Can you talk about the music we’re hearing on The Magpie Salute?
The record came from Woodstock. All of us were there making this recording. We had two great singers, we had my whole band, and we had Marc and Ed. The only one who was missing was John Hogg. And we had all this material. Everyone loved it. Then we brought John in and he overdubbed some cool vocals and we had a Magpie record.

This was not the first recording you’ve done for Woodstock Sessions, and the final Black Crowes album, Before the Frost … Until the Freeze, was also recorded live in the studio in front of an audience. What do you like about that process?
When you play in front of people, there’s an energy there. It’s almost like a wagon wheel with the spokes. The hub is what everyone’s there for, but everyone has a different angle, a different spoke going in a different way, for being there. And everyone’s experience is different. It’s personal. It’s intimate. But there’s also a group experience. So we’re experiencing the audience, they’re experiencing us, and we’re all experiencing this music. The energy that brings is really good fuel for doing something creative. Also, the way I like to record is to go in there and just sort of wing it. Just see what happens. In the days of unlimited recording budgets, there wasn’t any urgency to that. Whereas these days I’m interested in the gut reaction. What’s the first thing you’re going to play? Because that first thing is not filtered. The first thing is going to really come more from your heart. And that’s what’s exciting to me. So we went in, it was a finite amount of time, three days, and we were done. And it was great.

How did you choose the covers to perform?
These are just ones that I’ve been playing with my band, like Bobby Hutcherson’s “Goin’ Down South.” “Fearless” was one Marc had done in the past, and I used to sing it in the Crowes. So it was a hybrid of things we had done before. [Bob Marley and the Wailers’] “Time Will Tell,” we had done that on The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, and I was like, “This could be kind of cool. …” And “Wiser Time,” I really like the way John and I sing it together. So it was just about picking songs that everyone would sound good on and where we could bring different elements of what we do into it. And I think we did 70 or 80 songs at Woodstock. And we did 80 songs in New York [at the Gramercy Theatre shows]. Pretty much every set was different in New York. The songs on the record, I thought it’d be a cool snapshot and would show a broad spectrum of what sort of musical ground we covered in Woodstock.

In the early days of your solo career you stayed away from performing Black Crowes material. These days you’re doing more of it in your own sets, and there’s obviously a big Crowes connection in the Magpie Salute, both in terms of the lineup and also the songs you perform. It seems that you’re more comfortable with revisiting that part of your history.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, these are songs that people wanna hear, you know? These are songs that I wrote and that I have a lot of respect for. Also, I think we play them really well. And John sings them really well. John’s not Chris, but he knows he’s not Chris and he’s not trying to sing like Chris. He’s sticking relatively to the melody but he’s also bringing himself to them. And the more we play, the more of him that will come out. But this was something cool that we could do where we could celebrate the music we played together, me and Marc and Sven and Eddie. And Joe Magistro, our drummer, played percussion in the Crowes for a year. Charity White, who sings on the album, was with us for five years. We’ve all been circling around it. So it’s appropriate. I even called [former Black Crowes drummer] Steve Gorman and asked him to come play, but he wasn’t available. We had talked to him but he has his radio show and his own band and he wanted to work on that.

As far as former Black Crowes members you reached out to for this project, you’ve mentioned Marc, Eddie, Sven and Steve. One person obviously missing from that lineup of names is your brother, Chris. Could you envision a scenario where the two of you might make music together again, as the Black Crowes or otherwise?
I mean, right now … I don’t think so. You can never tell the future, you know? But right now? No.

Will you do another solo record?
Well, I’m not thinking that far in advance! [Laughs] But I have two albums’ worth of solo material that I haven’t released from this recent Woodstock Sessions. Over that three days I also did a bunch of my own material, with just my band. So I do have that. But right now I’m really excited about this, and we’re moving forward on this front.

So you see the Magpie Salute as an ongoing pursuit, not merely a one-off.
Absolutely. And we’re starting to write songs now. I’ve been sending Marc and John ideas and we’re gonna start preparing a record and may even start playing some new songs on tour toward the end of the year. Then once we get off tour, we’ll take a month off and go straight into the studio and make a record. That’s my goal. In fact, the ultimate goal is to go into the studio early next year and make a double album. I want to have this be a band and start moving forward, you know? 

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