And the Winner Is….

October 31st, 2008

Well Peter Beste took a look at the Top 10 finalists in our Figment True Norwegian Black Metal contest and he selected the following picture as the winner!

Autos Chthon by Alex Rave

Autos Chthon by Alex Rave

So congratulations to AlexRave!  Peter really like the atmosphere, mood and abstractness of Alex’s photo.

The three runners up were:

Die Pason by Alex Rave

Die Pason by Alex Rave

Fire Demon by Silmar

Fire Demon by Silmar

Inconceivant by Metalographer

Inconceivant by Metalographer

Alex Rave will receive a copy of Peter’s newest book of photography “True Norwegian Black Metal” as well as a promotional poster for the book, while Silmar and Metalographer will each receive a promotional poster.  Congratulations to all of our winners and thanks to all of you who participated.

We’d also like to thank Peter Beste and his publisher MTV Books for helping us with this great contest!  Be sure to check out Peter’s website where you can purchase his books.

Sunday Bloody Opinion!

October 29th, 2008

Well, add another professional accomplishment to Bono’s list of bona fides.  Turns out Mr. Hewson, in addition to his work as an activist, philanthropist, peace advocate and oh yeah, rock star, is about to add Op-Ed Columnist for the NY Times to his resume.

Wonder if he, Maureen Dowd and Bill Kristol will form a band called “The Grey Lady”?  More importantly would they be any good?  Not sure I have an opinion on that…but I’m sure Bono does.

Well, the staff picks have been made and the following 10 black metal bands have been submitted to Peter Beste.  Peter will be picking the winner of our Figment True Norwegian Black Metal Contest.  The winner will receive a copy of Peter’s newest book “True Norewegian Black Metal” and three runners up will be receiving a promotional poster for the book.  Here are the ten finalists in no particular order:

Fire Demon

Fire Demon

Astron Plasis

Astron Plasis

Inconceivant

Inconceivant

Choreo Chasma

Choreo Chasma

Genghis Khan 666

Genghis Khan 666

Azoos

Azoos

Eternal Forest of the North

Eternal Forest of the North

Autos Chthon

Autos Chthon

Die Pason

Die Pason

Aposelenious

Aposelenious

The winner of the contest will be announced along with the runners up on October 31st.  So check back with Figment News on that date to see the winner.  In the meantime, let us know which picture you think Peter should select as the winner by leaving a comment on this post.

Thanks to all the contestants who submitted pictures.

We’ve all been there, that moment when the all the things your significant other does stop being cute and start flat out pissing you off.  You know the progression of feelings you go through – disappointment, frustration, annoyance, disdain.  It’s simple, you’re breaking up, and as Neil Sedaka taught us “breaking up is hard to do!” Despite the pain involved, break ups have long served as the grist for many a great song and/or album.  “Shoot Out the Lights” by Richard and Linda Thompson leaps to mind as does Bob Dylan’s classic album “Blood on the Tracks”, and Ben Fold’s “Song for the Dumped” says it all, but what if romantic disillusionment was the basis for a band itself?  What would that band sound like?  Angry?  Despondent?  Certainly those emotions would play a part, but maybe you’d also have a musical epiphany of sorts, a realization that romantic entanglements are not to be won or lost, but rather learning experiences that shape the way we approach future relationships.  If there is such a band it’s The Pessimistic Romance.  Led by Sadie Hawkins (no she’s not going to ask you to the dance), The Pessimistic Romance is really just Hawkins backed by a revolving set of musicians, but her take on the darker side of romance is an interesting one and it quickly became the focus of our recent conversation with her.

Figment:  Sadie, why the name “The Pessimistic Romance”?  Don’t you believe in romance?

Sadie:  [Laughs] Of course I do, but it dies. I’m cynical at times, and I chose “The Pessimistic Romance” because I guess sometimes my cynicism rules.

Figment:  Your new record “Love Doesn’t Last Forever” on Revenge Records seems to be a song cycle on what happens before a breakup.  Is this based on personal experience or is it based on a friend…wink, wink, nudge, nudge?

Sadie: [Smirking, amused] Well, it’s a little bit of both. I’ve been through only one break up, it was me breaking up with him. I’ve had friends that have been fighting with their significant other, and have just been a shoulder to cry on for them. It’s based mainly on their experiences.

Figment:  In most break ups you have a lot of “he said/she said”, but your work seems to be entirely from the “she said” perspective.  Do you think at any time that you might cover the same territory in a song or on an album, but this time from the point of view of the male?

Sadie: [Nods] Definitely. I have plenty of material for it, and I’m hoping it’ll be the next album.

Figment:  “Broken Plates and Broken Hearts” is the opening track to your new album.  Why start the album with such an aggressive and moving song?

Sadie: Well, I wanted to start from the beginning. My songs tell a story, and it’s best if they’re told from the beginning.

Figment:  So you start with broken plates…interesting.  Remind me not to buy you fine china when you do get married! [Hawkins issues a weak smile and looks at her manager who is seated across the room]  But anyway, how do you get over a break up?  Do you record?

Sadie: [Laughs] Like I said earlier, I’ve only been through one break up, one I initiated at that. I’ve never really been through one unless you count a couple of good friends “breaking up” with me.

Figment:  In that case, any chance your next album will be about butterflies and puppy love?

Sadie: [Laughs out loud] Wow, no. Sorry people. Not this coming album. Maybe my third album, God willing I am still recording.

Figment:  What’s your favorite song on the new album?

Sadie: Oh wow, that’s tough. They’re my babies y’know? Uh… I think the last song, “Don’t Look Back” is my favorite. Purely for the fact that it’s a fun song to sing. I had a blast recording it, and I wanted it to sound a little more upbeat. The whole purpose of the song was to tell people not to look back on past mistakes. Not just in relationships, but for everything. It’s true too, the more you dwell on the negative past doings, the longer they stick around and the harder it is to get over.

Figment:  How did you get into music?

Sadie: Wow, where do I start? My parents love music, and I grew up around it. They weren’t musicians by any measure, but they were avid fans. Listening to music my whole life, singing along with it made me want to do it forever. I always knew I wanted to get into music.

Figment:  Any tour plans?  If so, who would you like to go on tour with?

Sadie: I’m getting a tour ready, and I would love to tour with Not For Real, and Nigel Beth. I think it’d be fun.

Figment:  As far as your career is concerned – glass half full or half empty?

Sadie: Hopefully it’s half full. [Chuckles] I have fans, so that’s a good sign.

On Figment the whole goal of the game is to amass fans and in doing so increase album sales.  Interacting with your fans through mutual shouts or by becoming fans of their bands will only increase your chances of selling more albums and in turn earning more lucre.  In short, fans are the lifeblood of your band and it’s important that you not only appreciate them, but interact with them, just like in the real music business…or maybe not.  According to this BBC report, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr seems to think that his fans are more trouble than they are worth.

Here’s the video that Ringo posted on his site to fans looking for an autograph:

Now I can imagine that being a former member of arguably the most popular band in the history of music is not an easy task.  I’m sure you can’t take a pee without someone wanting something from you – “Can I have a sample Ringo?” – but I hope you won’t decide to take this same tack with your fans on Figment, because it may end up turning them against you.

Thank god our own Ramgoat Starr still gets by with a little help from his fans!!!

Just wanted to remind everyone that the deadline for submitting an entry in our True Norwegian Black Metal photo contest is tomorrow night (10/17/08) at midnight.  Please check out the rules for the contest and don’t forget to post the band’s name as a comment or it won’t be considered.  As you know the winner will be hand picked by well known documentary photographer Peter Beste and the winner will receive a copy of Peter’s new book “True Norwegian Black Metal”.

Three runners up will receive promotional posters for the book.  Here are just a few of the entries we’ve gotten thus far:

Gengis Kahn 666

Inconceivant

Azoos

Mad Silence

Choreo Chasma

Time’s a wastin’, so get out your camera and start snappin’!

Under The Influences

October 13th, 2008

One of my pet peeves about music critics is their annoying habit of incessant name-dropping.  To me it’s often just rock snobbery at the highest level.  In fact, David Kamp and Steven Daly wrote a whole book on the subject called “The Rock Snob’s Dictionary” which is recommended reading in my opinion.

Now that’s not to say that I’m against the use of influences when describing one’s sound, because on Figment it’s one of the few ways that you can, but merely a warning that too much of any good thing can be just that…too much!  Gelf Magazine recently published a great article on the “art of name-dropping.”

So what is an acceptable amount of name dropping?  Well, I leave that to you to decide, but remember there’s better ways to describe your sound than by just dropping a name.

When The Bleatles broke up a little over a year ago many a fan thought it was the first sign of the apocalypse.  After all, the Fab Flock was one of the most popular flock n’ roll bands in the world and John, Poll, George and Ramgoat were beloved by their loyal flock of fans.  Some blamed Yang, John’s girlfriend, for breaking up the group, while others were convinced that Poll was more interested in developing a solo career.  Whatever the reason the break was painful for everyone involved BUT the members of the band.  Although they had butted heads at times, the members were all willing to meet up again for one last interview to set the record straight on some of the seminal moments in the band’s fabled history as well as put to rest some of the rumors as to the reasons for their break up.  We met at Poll’s new manger in Knightsbridge and after some hay and water sat down to chew the cud.

Figment:  John and Poll, how did you two first meet?  And what led you to form such a successful songwriting team?

John:  Well, you know, as a kid I had a group called The Cardingmen.  We were playing at a veterinarian’s ball one spring when Poll came up and asked if he could join. We auditioned him…

Poll:  I played Eddie Cochram’s “Twenty Right Flock.”  I think what impressed them most was that I knew all of the words.

John:  And there’s no great secret to our songwriting.  I think sheep have a natural advantage there.  We stand around all day just chewing our cuds and thinking, so…  ”Ruminating” has more than one meaning, you know.

Figment:  Ramgoat, you’ve been called the “lovable” wool top – to what do you attribute your affable nature?

Ramgoat:  I guess I’ve always had a way with the ladies.  They think I’m really cute and sweet…

John:  Yeah, but he’s really a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Figment:  Poll, any interest in commenting on the “Poll is bred” rumors?

Poll:  Hey, this isn’t virgin wool, if you know what I mean!

Figment:  Your album “Abbey Fold” was just re-released on Figment as part of a re-issue of your entire recorded catalog.  There has been a lot of speculation on the album cover since it’s original release and I wonder if any of you care to comment on whether the cover contains any symbolism?

Ramgoat:  Cymbals?  No, I don’t think so.  I might have had some drumsticks in my pocket, but…

George:  No, I think he means something like whether Poll’s bare hooves and being out of step with the rest of us means anything special.  Or that he’s holding a cigarette and the license plate number on the old car is “28 BAA”..

Poll:  Georgie Boy, I think you’re wrong.  He meant cymbals — you know high hats, that sort of thing.

John:  There weren’t any cymbals, just sticks

George:  Hmm.  I guess I’m always looking for meaning, even where there isn’t any…

Figment:  George, you have often been called the spiritual leader of the group.  Care to comment on the effect spiritualism has had on the group and was that spirituality effected after the rest of the band’s falling out with the Baaharishi?

George:  Well after that cymbals screw up, I’m kinda reluctant to talk about anything metaphysical!   But really, spiritualism has been a big part of what the Bleatles are all about since “She Said Sheep’s Head” and “Within Ewe, Without Ewe.”  I’ll definitely carry that with me into my solo career.  The whole thing with the Baaharishi Mahesh Yogurt was really unfortunate.  You look to your sheep dog for guidance, but he really let his flock down.

Figment:  John, why did you decide to leave The Bleatles?  Was Yang a part of that decision?

John:  I think that as we grow, we grow in different directions, so leaving was really inevitable.  I want to be more than just a flock ‘n’ roll singer, I want to change the world.  Yang has definitely encouraged that.  We’re both into social activism, you know: bale-ism and bed-ins for fleece, and all that.

Figment:  Do you think “Give Fleece A Chance” is more relevant now than ever?

John:  You bet!  You know what they say: “Make wool, not war.”

Figment:  Poll, any truth to the rumors that you’ll be releasing a solo album soon?

Poll:  Yeah, thanks for asking!  I’ll be releasing it in just a few weeks.  It’s called McCardigan.  Actually, I’ve already started working on the followup.  I was going to call it Ram, but now I’m leaning toward calling it Man.

Figment:  Speaking of solo albums, Ramgoat why did you choose to record an album of standards for your first solo release “Ruminental Journey”?

Ramgoat:  It was my parents’ idea.  My mum said, “Why don’t you do something me and your dad can dance to?”  My Uncle Billy said I was too scared to do an album of oldies, and he started flapping his hooves and making those chicken clucking sounds.  He kept daring me to do it, and when he got up to “double-dog dare,” I had to take the bait.  I know I’m no Benny Goatman, but I think it turned out all right.

Figment:  Any truth to the rumors that your manager has sex with humans?

Ramgoat:  Well, he does spend a lot of time in Arkansas.  I hear that kind of thing is popular down there.

Figment:  Is it true that Bobble-Head Dillon introduced you to marijuana?

John:  Well, yes and no…  He told us, “You shouldn’t just eat the grass, you should try smoking it.”  Turns out he was just talking about fescue.  Who knew?

Figment:  Which one of you is most likely to sell out, record bad songs with lame pop stars and generally come off as a tool in your later years?

Poll:  Not me!  I really hate it when singers pair up to do those cheesy songs.  I mean, can you imagine singing some schmaltzy duet with Michael Yak-Son?

George:  Hmm…if I become a tool, I’d want to be something cool like a rivet gun or maybe an adz.

Ramgoat:  Not me!  I’d be a pair of shears — Billy Shears.