SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 3: “When You’re Strange” panel

As a journalist, I was originally thinking I should really attend the panel on “Music Journalism in the Post-Print Era,” which was billed to explore the depressing economic decline in both the music and journalism industries. But as a huge Doors fan who was still buzzing off of Robbie Krieger’s guest appearance with Stone Temple Pilots the previous night at the Austin Music Hall, I couldn’t resist the chance to see him again on his own panel.

This 2:00 pm panel featured Doors guitarist Robbie Krieger and current Doors business manager Jeff Jampol discussing “When You’re Strange,” the upcoming feature documentary on the Doors set for release on April 9. Jampol said that Tom DiCillo was brought in to direct, and anyone who recalls DiCillo’s brilliant indie-film satire “Living in Oblivion” has to like the choice. Jampol told of how DiCillo had marveled at the vintage footage and said the the film needed to lose all the interviews, because the vintage footage puts the viewer there in the era, but the interviews take the viewer away. So the modern interviews will now only appear on the DVD release.

Jampol said that the reaction of original Doors manager Bill Siddons was telling. “What I saw, that’s what happened, you guys got it,” Siddons said after viewing the film, according to Jampol. Krieger noted that original Doors engineer Bruce Botnick did the audio engineering for film and that “the sound is amazing.” When asked about the writing of The Doors’ breakthrough hit “Light My Fire,” Krieger said he went all out.

“I had to compete with Jim, so I thought I’d write about the four elements,” said Krieger. “I liked the Stones’ ‘Play With Fire’ so I thought write about fire. I didn’t want it to be a simple blues, so I said I’m gonna put in every chord I know, there are like 15 chords in the tune… and somehow it worked out.”

When asked how singer Jim Morrison wrote music for his songs when he didn’t play an instrument, Krieger said that the singer “had this great pot,” and that after smoking it he heard the music in his head. Later on, Krieger said, the band would pull lyrics out of Jim’s journal and this is where “Peace Frog” came from, for example.

Jampol also noted that actor Johnny Depp provides the narration for the film, including the reading of some of Morrison’s poetry, which is weaved into the soundtrack by Botnick. “I was in tears when I heard it,” said Jampol. “I’m as proud of that [soundtrack] as anything we’ve done together.”

Queried about Morrison’s general feelings about the band, Krieger said the singer was always pushing for more. “Jim was never really satisfied with how big the Doors got, he wanted to be as big as The Beatles or The Stones,” said Krieger.

Asked about his favorite album, Krieger cited the band’s last one, LA Woman. Probably because we produced it ourselves and it was done really quickly without a lot of BS, and it was fun.”


SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 2: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

I had one more to go over at Antone’s, where Vermont’s Grace Potter was scheduled to hit the stage at 12:20 AM. Things were running a little behind, but Potter and band hit the stage around 12:40 and threw down a triumphant set that went right up til 2:00. A variety of strong material from the band’s upcoming new album was a treat, featuring tunes like melodic rocker “Oasis” and a reggae-ish break-up song. New single “Tiny Light” was a bluesy yet uplifting rocker and featured a huge jam powered by new bassist Catherine Popper (formerly with Ryan Adams & the Cardinals). Popper’s dynamic skills provide an element that was missing from the Nocturnals before, taking the band’s sound to a higher level that enables them to throw down a big jam whenever the mood strikes. This is like the Cleveland Cavaliers acquiring extra muscle with Shaquille O’Neal, and whoever spearheaded Popper’s entry to the band should win an award for best musical trade of the year.

The gorgeous Potter dazzled on a wide variety of tunes, from blues to ballads to funk to full-on psychedelic jam rock. She also showed she’s not just a pretty frontwoman, jamming out on both keyboards and a Flying V guitar. A cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” was a treat, especially following Krieger’s appearance with STP. “I Got the Medicine” closed the set with another great jam, and there’s no doubt that Potter’s music does indeed possess medicinal properties. The encore closed out with “Nothing but the Water,” an infectious high-energy tune that rocked the packed house one more time and featured another huge jam that blew everyone away. What a killer set.

grace potter
Photo by Adrien Broom


SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 2: Stone Temple Pilots

Off to the Austin Music Hall in the warehouse district, where ’90s alternative heroes Stone Temple Pilots were scheduled for a full headlining set. The hall was packed and the band delivered the goods, mixing in strong material from their forthcoming new album with plenty of older classics. “Wicked Garden” sizzled, with vocalist Scott Weiland sounding great and the band firing on all cylinders. “Big Empty,” “Creep,” “Plush” and “Interstate Love Song” all rocked the house. New single “Between the Lines” rocked with the classic STP sound, mixing the hard rock with melodic lyrics, suggesting Weiland’s drug days are finally behind him. A Weiland relapse is the only thing that can stop this band, because the power trio behind Weiland was on fire. Dean DeLeo dazzled on guitar throughout the night, proving a master of grunge guitar, particularly with the tight harmonics. Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz still make a formidable rhythm section, demonstrating STP as a band ready for a second prime. The new “Huckleberry Crumble” was another winner, combining a groovy bass line with psychedelic guitar for something of a ’60s feel, yet with that modern rock twist. “Sex Type Thing” and “Dead and Bloated” shook the rafters to close the set, but the best was still to come.


“We’d like to introduce someone that’s part of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history,” said Weiland at the beginning of the encore as he introduced Robbie Krieger from the Doors. The band then tore into a smoking “Roadhouse Blues,” with Weiland nailing Mr. Mojo Risin’s vocals while the DeLeo brothers and Krieger got off on what may have been the best jam of SXSW 2010. The electrifying performance thrilled the assembled, with this clearly being one of those rare and special moments that you hope to be lucky enough to catch at SXSW. Krieger exited triumphantly to a standing ovation and the band then wrapped it up with one of their best tunes, “Tripping on Hole in a Paper Heart.”


SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 2: Ozomatli

At 8:00 it was over to the Auditorium Shores stage on beautiful Town Lake, which annually hosts a series of free shows during SXSW. The headliner here was LA’s Ozomatli, who entertained a huge crowd with their fusion of funk, latin rock, jazz, hip-hop and even a little bit of metal. An early song of tight funk paid tribute to the “City of Angels,” while another tune mined James Brown-style funk. It was a family-friendly atmosphere, as kids ran around playing with light sabers in the gorgeous setting as the Austin skyline loomed behind the stage. The highlight of the set occurred when a funky jam suddenly segued into a “Master of Puppets” tease that drove the crowd into a frenzy, with many bouncing up and down before the Metallica segue went back into a cumbia jam.



SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 2: The Mother Hips, interview with guitarist Tim Bluhm

These veteran Bay Area rockers threw down a jamming set of their melodic psych-roots rock. The band loves to play in Austin and it showed. Bassist Paul Hoagland played his custom 12-string Hamer bass for the entire set, which helped pump up the groove on dynamic tunes like “Magazine” and “Third Floor Story.” Guitarists Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono were in fine form, trading riffs and harmonizing vocals throughout the high-energy set, which featured one melodic rocker after another. “Time-Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear” brought the short but sweet set to a rousing conclusion with a furious assault of fuzzy riffs and pounding rhythms.

“Our whole approach to touring these days is to find cities we like to play and go there all the time,” said Bluhm, whom I interviewed at the bar earlier in the afternoon. Bluhm said the band almost broke up in 2005-06, but couldn’t help but come back together. This has a been a boon for music fans, since the band’s last two albums have been among the best work of their career. 2009’s Pacific Dust was recorded at Bluhm’s own Mission Bells Studio in San Francisco, where he also produced the upcoming album from pal Jackie Greene.

mother hips

The band also seems to be jamming a little more these days, and Bluhm said that had been a back and forth process.

“We used to jam a lot, then spent a bunch of years intentionally not jamming, trying to shake these distasteful associations we were getting. But then, we always want to change, keep evolving, so right now we are jamming out more and enjoying it, it’s fun,” said Bluhm. Regarding SXSW, Bluhm said he loves to play it but finds trying to go out a bit much.

“I honestly find it’s overwhelming at SXSW, and I never have the patience to stand in line,” said Bluhm when asked about what other bands he wanted to see at the festival. He did say he’d enjoyed seeing Spoon the previous night and was looking forward to Or the Whale, whom the Mother Hips would share a bill with the next day.


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