21 DISARMing Questions for Annette Zilinskas of Medicine

Medicine, the pioneering shoegaze band from Los Angeles formed in 1990 has returned with a brand new 11-track album entitled Scarred For Life.  Comprised entirely of cover songs including tracks from Neil Young, Judee Sill, Miles Davis, The Monkees, and even Bob Welch, it’s described as a record that is “killer no filler” and has been released by Drawing Room Records.

Medicine were the fist American band to sign with the legendary UK label Creation Records on the basis of their original demo. In their home country,they signed to Rick Rubin’s American Recordings label in 1992.

We asked Medicine singer Annette Zilinskas, also known as the original bassist for The Bangles and vocalist with influential roots-punk outfit Blood on the Saddle, 21 of our DISARMing questions about music, art, and life in general.  This is what she told us.

DISARM: Hello Annette. Thanks for taking the time to answer our DIARMing questions. It’s great to see all your latest activity with The Bangles and Medicine lately. It feels like things have come full circle with both bands and we really love the Scarred For Life album. So here we go.

What are you listening to right now?

Annette: I’m listening to a lot of Coolies partly because I love their music and I’ll be performing with them playing bass on March 15th for Kim Shattuck’s ALS Benefit at the El Rey. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Fall, Modettes and Ty Segal lately.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

It was a 45 that I got as a child from a garage sale…Chipmunks red vinyl. First LP was Carol King and Linda Ronstadt.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

Vinyl (of course, and still!)

Who are your favourite artists?

Have a seat….there are just too many but I’ll take a whirl…Yardbirds, early Linda Ronstadt, Tammy Wynette, Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Reverands, Mercury Rev, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Butthole Surfers, Buffalo Springfield, Warm Drag, Beatles, early Stones, The Fall, Gene Vincent, Ty Segal, Led Zeppelin, LA Witch, Leaving Trains, Opal, Black Flag, the Outsiders, Gun Club, M17, Public Enemy, Ethyl Meatplow, Johnny Cash and June Carter…I know I’m forgetting something really obvious but ah well…

Why do you live where you do?

It’s where I landed.

What is your favourite journey?

Road trips – I like the high desert at night such as Joshua Tree, Landers. I enjoy the Sci Fi’ness and expansive quality of it. My next stop hopefully will be Marfa Texas to check out the Marfa lights.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Just plopping down and watching something classic or a cool underground 60s movie…not having any deadlines or having to do anything is an ideal day for me.

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Eye Drops, Brush, Dentine, Lip Gloss, Sunglasses.  

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

Any place that I have never been to before.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Coffee number one. Walk around and see if there any good bookshops or old cathedrals to discover. Read the local paper.

Photo: Beatrix Zilinskas

What inspired you to take up music?

Linda Ronstadt. Major girl crush. Also, AM radio. And hearing The Carpenters the Yardbirds and Elvis.

What was your most memorable day job?

Working at the Chipmunks production company. My first job and one of the best I had.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Music should always come first…not boyfriends lol.

What should everyone shut up about?

I’m sure you know the answer 😉

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Robert Mapplethorpe, Dorothy Dandridge or Sharon Tate. Italian food or Mediterranean.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

Sinuhe – from the novel The Egyptian.

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

As a fan, when my uncles, Ray and Vic, took my sister and I as kids to see the Rolling Stones at the Forum. As an artist, playing Arroyo Seco with the Bangles.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

You forgot podcasts…right now I’m delving into “You Must Remember This”.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

A video project Kal Spelletich (from the band Semen) and I did. We filmed very tight close-ups of pigeons who had gathered around the video camera that we set down on the ground with breadcrumbs scattered around it. They got in close to the lens eating the crumbs. Playing it back, the pigeons were almost unrecognizable and looked like abstract white and grey spotted movement. One couldn’t make out that they were birds. When we slowed it down, it had an almost hypnotic drug like effect on the viewer. I also love Chiho Aoshima video installation piece called “City Glow”.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Hopefully touring doing music or a spoken word adventure across the continents.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Probably not.  I usually prefer one’s imagination better. But not always!

Thanks Annette!

You can buy Scarred For Life now from Medicine’s Bandcamp page HERE.


Tombstones In Their Eyes – Maybe Someday

When listening to a record for the first time, I can usually tell within the first thirty seconds of song one if I’ll want to hear it through, skip to song two (or deeper) in search of the chords and vocals that will connect with me, or stop it and never look back. There are also occasions when song one gets repeat playback because it’s so good. And then the same happens with song two. And song three. Music lovers understand this “Eureka!” moment.

Maybe Someday by Tombstones In Their Eyes was my 2019 “Eureka!” moment.

Comprised of John Treanor (vocals/guitar), Josh Drew (guitar), Mike Mason (bass) and Stephen Striegel (drums), Tombstones In Their Eyes is a band from Los Angeles that appeals to fans of psych, noise, shoegaze, alternative, and even sludgy doom metal. James Cooper, an old school friend of Treanor’s now living in New York, is also considered a member as he helped start the band and works with him on song creation. The band released a number of EPs, including 2017’s Fear which was my first introduction to their signature melodic yet crunchy sound, and 2018’s Nothing Here.

On November 15th, 2019, Somewherecold Records released Maybe Someday, and what could be described as a well-polished, cohesive collection of gritty psych-infused noise rock songs.

There is an immediate feeling of immensity on album opener “Open Skies” and the tangibility of this “bigness” caries throughout the title-track and “I Want You”, amplified by the swirl of guitars and the drone of Treanor’s ethereal vocals.  Bass lines and drums are clean and not overstated, effectively complimenting and driving forward the wash of sound enveloping them.

“Down In The Dirt” has a decidedly sludgier feel to it that fans of Philadelphia’s Nothing will appreciate and is a personal favourite, of many favourites, on the album.  Coming in at just shy of six minutes, it’s best played loud, with eyes closed and head bopping.

When listening to the “The One”, it’s not at all surprising that Treanor listed Electric Wizard as one of his favourite bands in our 21 Disarming Questions interview. It’s a dark and heavy stoner rock song, yet feels not at all out of place on Maybe Someday. Like “Down In The Dirt”, it pushes the six minute mark, but I’d welcome an extra long extended version of this one.  It’s that good.

Another shift in direction happens on “I Believe”, the most upbeat song on the album and closest to a “traditional” alternative/psych song before we slow down and slide back into the fog of “I Can’t Feel It Anymore” and “Up And Down” that fans of The Black Angels will surely enjoy.  We leave Maybe Someday with “Dreams”, an aptly-named soundscape of surreal fuzzed-out guitars, vapory vocals and keys.

Tombstones In Their Eyes manages to interlace so many sounds into Maybe Someday without defining the album as any one genre nor lose the mood set out from the album’s opening notes.  It’s a perfect balance and pace and warrants repeated play through from start to finish.

You can get Maybe Someday from the Somewherecold Records Bandcamp page on CD and digital.  Coming soon to vinyl.

Dave MacIntyre

21 DISARMING Questions for John Treanor of Tombstones In Their Eyes

Easily one of the best albums released in 2019 was Maybe Someday by Los Angeles psych shoegazers Tombstones In Their Eyes released by Somewhere Cold Records.  We’ve been fans of the band since they first caught our attention back in early 2018 with their release of their Nothing Here EP, and the new record delivers more of the noisy droning melodies we loved from the start.  Fans of The Black Angels and Nothing will definitely dig this band.

We asked vocalist and guitar player John Treanor our 21 Disarming questions about music, art and life in general.  This is what he told us.

DISARM: What are you listening to right now?

John: Soundtrack of our Lives – Broken Imaginary Time

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

The Kinks (can’t remember which record, but it was from the mid-60’s with some of the great stuff on it).  Bought it at a garage sale and thought I was buying The Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour because that’s the sleeve the record was in, haha.  The 7-year-old me was very confused.

Vinyl or CD/Digital?

The cool answer would be vinyl, but I am on board with digital.  I get to play my favorite music from my laptop (or the cloud, really) through a great pair of Sonos speakers via Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, Pandora and my own music collection online.  So I sit and listen in the living room all day while I work. And this brings up a point about me as a music listener.  I’m really a song person; there were days when I listened to whole albums but mostly I look for the song or songs that really do it for me and then put them in a playlist (remember mix tapes? – god I loved making mix tapes).

Editors: Mix tapes were everything!

What are your favourite bands?

A lot to list.  Old Rolling Stones, Spacemen 3, Pussy Galore, Butthole Surfers, The Cramps, Black Flag, GBH, Elton John (early stuff), Aerosmith (same – early), Germs, Devo, Beach Boys, Interpol, Turbonegro, Built to Spill, The Byrds, Ministry, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Rammstein, EyeHateGod, Dandy Warhols, Metallica (early) Songs:Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co. “Newer” bands that are faves: Jesus on Heroine, Guitaro, Frankie Teardrop Dead, Power Trip, Electric Wizard, The Black Angels, Magic Shoppe, Film School (only their first ep, though), Rev Rev Rev, Chatham Rise.   I could go on and on.

Editors: The latest from Rev Rev Rev is a favourite of 2019 too!

Why do you live where you do?

Good weather, although I complain about the heat sometimes. Friends. Good music scene. Work.  Nice little house with a nice wife and 4 dogs/4 cats.

What is your favourite journey?

New York. I go at least once a year by myself to visit my friend James (who founded the band with me) and just soak it in.  I get my own place and just dig the city.  No plans, no tourist junkets, just whatever I want to do each day. Oh yeah, and comedy shows.  New York is great for comedy. 

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

No work. Time to go down to the basement and try to write a song/riff or two. A nap in the afternoon with the 4 dogs all around me. Hanging out with my wife, Karin, in the evening and watching something good.

Photo by: Cathryn Farnsworth

What essentials do you take on a plane or tour bus?

Kindle. Music. Toothbrush/toothpaste, haha.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object?

It was Hong Kong, but I don’t know about that now.  Maybe Japan.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Good coffee. People watch. Read the local papers, if I can understand the language.  Walk around and do more people watching.  Find an interesting part of town or maybe a museum.

What inspired you to take up music

Music has been critically important to me since I was very young. My father took me to see the Rolling Stones in 1975 when I was 10 and was very into music himself. Punk rock changed my life musically and opened me up to so much new music (not just punk rock, whatever that means now). I had to be around music and started little bands, managed a friends band on some tours and finally got around to learning to write songs of my own. I came into it later because I had some “substance abuse issues” standing in the way, but once I got it together enough to keep a guitar out of the pawnshop I just kept doing bands.

What was your most memorable day job?

Working at my uncle’s auto wrecking yard when I was in my late teens.  It was a crazy, lawless scene down by the border of San Diego and Baja Mexico. Full of speed freaks and weirdness.  Crazy time.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Tell my mom I wanted guitar lessons instead of piano lessons.  I still can’t play guitar worth a shit, but enough to write songs.

What should everyone shut up about?

I’m a live and let live type, just keep it out of my face, haha.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would the menu be?

James Ellroy, steak at the Pacific Dining Car in downtown Los Angeles.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

I like spies, but not the James Bond type, so I’ll say George Smiley from the LeCarre novels.

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended (as a fan or artist)?

Rolling Stones 1975, Capitol Centre, Maryland – changed my life.  Last year, Power Trip at the Regent in downtown LA. Those guys are on fire.

What are your “must” read magazines, news, websites, blogs?

I read the NY Post and Daily News every day, haha, for my taste of NY city life, and the NY Times, LA Times, Guardian. Dangerousminds.net, Please Kill Me Online. Brooklyn Vegan. Slate, especially Dear Prudence. A little Daily Beast and Buzzfeed.  Digg is a good source of some excellent reads from around the web. And one of my most relaxing reads is Ask A Manager (askamanager.org) – I can’t explain that one. 

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art.

For me it’s all the music I listed earlier and the shows I saw as a kid.  Going to see the Cramps in a small hall in San Diego when I was 16, The Gun Club, Stranglers, Christian Death, Black Flag and many more shows that I can’t remember now. That stuff literally altered my mind.  And the most mind blowing day of all was when I went down to Licorice Pizza in Pacific Beach (San Diego) and picked out two records based on their covers – The Germs (GI) and Devo’s Duty Now For The Future.  My mind was blown when I played those records at home in my bedroom. The Germs were so dark and harsh and Devo just did what they do and it really opened me up to a whole new world.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

We are currently rehearsing for our first show in a while – a vinyl release show. The vinyl is coming in soon and it looks fantastic. Then, once we’re up to speed and I know the songs, haha, probably some more shows.  And at the same time, we want to record 4 more songs to put on Side 4 of our planned vinyl compilation – we’re going to take all the earlier EP’s and singles and put them together on a double record set.  Those songs deserve vinyl.  Then there is a possible rumor of a European tour but that’s more than 6 months away.

Which musician rule do you agree with? Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

I would say always meet your heroes.  It’s okay if they’re dicks sometimes.

Thanks John!  Go get Maybe Someday on CD or digital download from Bandcamp today, and coming soon to vinyl.

Dave MacIntyre

Rev Rev Rev – Kykeon

Italian Shoegazers, Rev Rev Rev, have released Kykeon via Fuzz Club, a crunchy 10-track album that is as much a marriage of doomy metal and psych as it is a reverb drenched Shoegaze album.

Kykeon moves along slowly, but threateningly giving it a lava-like quality; sludgy, thick, deadly and unstoppable.  Tracks “3 not 3” and “Sealand” are great examples of this.

There are a few lighter moments. Mid-way track, “One Illusion Is Very Much Like Another” dials back the abrasive fuzz in favour of crisp guitars and unsuppressed vocals, as does “Summer Clouds”, but the menace is still there, barely hidden beneath the surface.

More “metal” moments include “Gate Of The Dark Female” that could pass for a Black Angels/Sleep collaboration, which is never a bad thing and album single “Clutching The Blade”, the fastest of Kykeon’s songs that has an early Smashing Pumpkins vibe that will guarantee repeat listens.

Kykeon is a perfect record for those that enjoy a band that can mix genres without losing cohesiveness.  Psych, Doom, Shoegaze and Alternative all play their part to keep the record fresh and interesting throughout all 10 tracks.

Buy Kykeon on CD and vinyl from Fuzz Club HERE or digital download on Bandcamp.

Dave MacIntyre

Oh Sees / OCS Live at The Danforth Music Hall

A full Friday night of music featuring warm up sets by Toronto Surf Punk band King Beez, Peeling (Toronto) and Solids (Montreal) sets the stage for Oh Sees highly anticipated return in support of their August release, Orc.

Oh Sees (who are now making music under OCS again and best known as Thee Oh Sees) in their 20th year with as many albums under their various incarnations, transform the fabulous Danforth Music Hall into something that feels not just like the hottest spot in the downtowns of our imagination, but of our imagination of the mythical 1970s we all long for.

The Garage/ Psych / Freak Folk band’s opening three songs include new single “The Static God”, while the set overall ranges pretty broadly across the band’s impressive roster. Well-represented are albums Mutilator Defeated at Last (“Sticky Hulks”, “Web”, “Withered Hand”), Carrion Crawler / The Dream (“Contraption / Soul Desert”, “The Dream”) and Floating Coffin (“I Come from the Mountain”, “Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster”.)

Oh Sees stage set up is worth mentioning: all four band members are foregrounded in a row close to the front of stage, including their two drummers. Unusual, and impressive: two drummers working in tandem with almost no breaks for about 2 hours is something that must be seen from all corners of the room.

John Dwyer’s signature playing style and the band’s tightness with long, fluid, meandering riffs create a beautiful sense of time suspended and rearranged. It’s often hard to totally forget the innate routine of all live performances when you are an active concert-goer, the rhythm that despite what band is up there conforms to certain norms and imposed rules. We are too tied to the ever-present blinding flash of the phone screen, and the automatic glance at the time. But here, tonight, it goes sideways and feels spontaneous and alive in a way that is very rare in this city. The mobile devices are mostly stashed in favour of something deliciously throwback. Many of us are old enough to know just how much music needs to throw us all back into something more real, and for tonight it is the law of the land.

The rhythm of Oh Sees is uniquely their own, following its own internal flow.  The live show’s psych meanderings do nothing to disrupt the unflagging energy & pace of the overall thing. The mind drifts along this river of sound, this is what we came for, imagining things out of Dungeons & Dragons and remembering snatches of things from the fringes of the fantasy books that many creative people subsisted on in their youth. Back when Fantasy and D&D was uncool, underground, thought, prejudged by the uptight establishment to be dangerous. Good music is always dangerous. In the best way.

It’s a really happy and lively crowd tonight. An impressive amount of friendly- seeming crowd surfing including females is a feature, and those held aloft seem to be held up in a friendly way all across the front of the hall, rolling gently like beach balls. No one seems to take a sudden dive. Real music is doing its job, like no one else can do. The outside world is forgotten for a precious few hours. (Hey, did anyone ever claim that lost shoe?)

Touring the just-released Orc, (and ahead of November release Memory of a Cut Off Head) Oh Sees occupy a prime place in the very valid, not at all “just trendy”, decidedly genuine grass-roots rebirth of vinyl appreciation with its special properties that make it worth shelling out real money for, in contrast to all the years of whining from the out of step major labels (and in a heartwarming collective middle finger to the music “experts”). Fans take John Dwyer at his word near-ish the end of the set when he says the song they are about to launch into is a long one if anyone wants a break (i.e. bathroom, bar or merch) leading to a brief exodus to clean out the already picked over merch table. Fans briskly return to the hall with armloads of records, records that are seemingly full of treasures like limited edition colored vinyl and limited issues. This band knows their way around fantasy, for sure. And it’s a great goddamn time to be a live music fan in this part of the world.

A long and wide-ranging tour schedule over the summer continues in select cities until September 25th. You can still catch Oh Sees in Chicago, Milwaukee, Missoula, Vancouver and Portland.

Jacqueline Howell

Photos: Dave MacIntyre

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