Straight Outta Providence: Bellows

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve fallen pretty hard for Providence, RI, in the past few months.  Our mutual love affair has upgraded quickly, from ‘friends with benefits’ to ‘romantic obsession,’ in a short amount of time.

Besides the rich musical heritage found in these parts, I’ve also been discovering the rad independently-run book stores, coffee huts, and print shops that incessantly pop up in the most random and cool places.

I’ve decided to start doing some semi-straight/coherent interviews with some of the folks around town who have been making the moves and fillin’ the grooves.  My brain keeps growing thanks to ya’ll!

First up on the interview junket is Providence’s number one sousaphone maniac: Dan, member of the great Bellows and the notorious What Cheer? Brigade.  Both groups are amongst some of the most remarkable Providence-based crews, especially in a live setting.

Bellows are a clear-blue mixture of psychedelia, heavy stoner metal, and good ol’ punk rawk.  The crew makes use of a saxophone, a sousaphone, a drums, and a microphone.  They do a nifty Black Sabbath impression and pretty much blow my brains out every time I witness their sublime slow-burning visceral ear torture.

Initially, I intended on running the following interview to pump everyone up for a few Bellows gigs going on in the area.  Unfortunately, that ship passed in night.

Luckily, Dan’s other gnarly musical group, What Cheer? Brigade, will be blasting through the area on a few dates in the near future.

What Cheer? tour dates, are found below:

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce our first interview of year 2 with my main man Dan!

!Thanks to Dan and Bellows and What Cheer? for all the cool things they’ve done in Providence!

Interview: Sex Sux (Amen) Vs. Dan  (Bellows, What Cheer? Brigade)

Note: This interview took place about a month ago.

Sex Sux (Amen): How’d the show last week at Machines with Magnets?  I wanted to go but I couldn’t miss Parts and Labor at the Great Scott, their new record (Constant Future) is incredible.  I have a strict ‘if I’m obsessed with a record, I must travel far and wide to see the band perform that record’ policy.  (OK, just put it on again. Dan Friel’s taking his shit to a new level.)  Long story short, I really wanted to go to that show in Pawtucket and would like to know how it went.

Dan: The MWM show was great. It’s always an awesome place to play. The people there are so awesome and essential to music in Providence. We had a great crowd, and they flipped for our cover of War Pigs, with special guest Lyndon Cordero “Baby Aspirin” Lopez on vocals.

SSA: Have you ever tried playing the sousaphone with someone’s head inside of it?  A limb, perhaps?

Dan: Many things can go into a Sousaphone, and yes, the temptation for sophomoric humor is overwhelming at times.

SSA: What is your number one favorite part about the city of Providence, Rhode Island?

Dan: I feel like I can meaningfully contribute to a few different worlds and still be the same person in all of them.  (Editor: well-put!)

SSA: Do you think Ozzy Osbourne would enjoy Bellows’ rendition of Black Sabbath (Back Stabbath)?   Pretend you are Ozzy.  What would he (you) say?

Dan: Ozzy would say this, “At first I didn’t know what to expect, but then it just blew my mind, y’know. This just totally inspired me. I’m gonna ring up Geezer (Butler) right now and apologize for being kind of mean to him over the years and we’re going to finally do (another) reunion, and Bellows is going to open for us on the tour.”

SSA: How did the Black Sabbath thing come about?

Dan: We like to do a cover band every year for Halloween, and because of our instrumentation and sound, we have to pick bands that are both heavy, and don’t use too much polyphony. Sabbath was a great fit. Also, we love Black Sabbath.

SSA: If you could hug anybody, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Dan: This changes every day, but probably Emma Goldman because she was an inspiring and thoughtful anarchist leader.

SSA: Who are the best musical acts to catch in Providence that no one’s really pooping their pants about?  Flying under the radar, so to speak?

Dan: I’m really feeling the renewed interest in pop and straightforward punk that I think is happening right now. I think that Amil Byleckie band could rule the world, and I’m excited to see what happens next with Trip Dicks, who played their first show last night!  (Editor: They were awesome!) Also, Cavegirls rule!

SSA: What doesn’t inspire you?  Who aren’t your inspirational musicians?  What clogs your brain’s toilet?

Dan: I keep an open mind to all music and try to be minimally dismissive because I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that I’ve become an old guy who complains about “the kids these days.” That said, the station that I listen to most is Hot 106, and my ability to tolerate the misogyny in most radio hip-hop seems to come and go in waves, and right now, it’s in a trough.

In particular, there’s this song called “Tie me down” by The New Boys, that really gets to me (it actually came out in 2009).  In the song, the New Boyz are explaining to various women that they have no plans to enter into committed relationships. In and of itself, this is not a problematic position, but their tone really annoys me; they imply that their attitude of disdain and suspicion of women has been shaped by extensive experience.

However, the New Boyz are only about 20 years old (17 when they recorded this song), so I find it hard to believe that they’ve really had such scarring experiences with relationships. It’s as though they think that they’re just supposed be assholes to women. They don’t even have some dumb story about getting hurt by women. Of course dumb stories about getting hurt by women don’t justify misogyny either, but the fact that guys this young are spouting this kind of stuff extra-depresses me because it’s a testament to how effective ideology is at replicating itself.

SSA: What are the spring/summer plans looking like for Bellows?

Dan: So far, two more Worcester shows. We’ve gotta get back to NYC and Philly soon, but we don’t have concrete plans.

SSA: If Doc (from Back to the Future) showed up right now, in the Delorean, and said “Great Scott!  Where the fuck do you want to go?” what would you say?

Dan: I would tell everyone I was going somewhere alone for the evening; I’d leave in the DeLorean, and go back to a time when I knew all my housemates (myself included) were out of town, and just hang out for a week at home, getting a bunch of writing done and playing music alone and stuff. Then after my week long solo vacation, I would come back all nonchalant like I had just gone out for a taco or something, but amaze everyone with how extra-on-top-of-my-shit I was.

SSA: If you could bellow one thing right now, what would it be?

Dan: Where did my weekend go?

What Cheer? Brigade Tour Dates

Sunday, May 1 – Brandeis University with Of Montreal (Free)

Saturday, May 21 – Providence, RI – The 4th Annual Urban Pond Procession

Monday, May 30 – Brighton Music Hall – with Big Freedia and Javelin

Saturday, July 30 – Newport Folk Festival!

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