BATILLUS kicked off a month of shows in support of its latest record, the awesome Concrete Sustain, at the end of February. The trek has seen them scoot across the Midwest, over to the left coast and, most recently, Pitchfork's Show No Mercy SXSW showcase in Austin, TX (check out the band's remaining dates below). In other words, they've logged a lot of miles, so it's no surprise that guitarist Greg Peterson was in the mood to share what has (hopefully) helped keep him and his bandmates sane as they traverse our great country. "As our friends in Kowloon Walled City recently stated in this space, after listening to and playing loud music all night long, the last thing some of us want to hear in the van is more aggressive noisy metal," he tells us. "Some pre-'80s heavy rock, maybe. Anyway, when I'm driving, I like to set my iPod on shuffle (less fiddling around with it). If you were riding with us, here's a sampling of what you might hear...some songs about the road, some songs that sound best when on the road, and a random favorite or two." Check out the new track "Concrete" below (Concrete Sustain is due out on Tuesday) and then listen along to Greg's playlist here.
MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" (from 1969's Kick Out The Jams) Brothers and sisters, this song not only captures the incredible energy of their live presence but somehow the MC5 managed to harness the actual feeling of what it's like to be on a stage, playing loud-as-hell rock and roll. Like a magic potion in a bottomless vial, tastier than gas station coffee, this song is the first thing I reach for if I'm feeling drowsy at the wheel.
Thin Lizzy's "That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart" (from 1977's Bad Reputation) A word of warning from someone who knows better than you, made all the more potent by the insanely catchy chorus melody. Moral of the story: trying to be a player generally leads to losing the game. (Trivia morsel: while recording Concrete Sustain, I found myself dialing in amplifier settings that made this riff sound good, because I could not stop myself from playing it.)
The Flatlanders' "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown" (from 1990's More A Legend Than A Band) This number has a very relaxing effect, and is perfect for a quick retreat into the headphones. It must have something to do with the casual wording of the title, the ghostly tone of the singing saw and the melancholic yet detached sound of Jimmie Dale Gilmore's voice. A song about seeking after that something that probably doesn't exist, in a world you no longer believe in. Or maybe it's just an ode to the quick hook-up.
Ellinger Combo's "Ride Me Down Easy, Lord" An amazing version of a fairly straightforward tune about dying of thirst face down in the dust, flashing back on good and bad times long past. The unabashedly lonesome sound of the vocal propped up by the bright little organ line is more eerie than any kvlt black metal I've ever heard. Why can't country music sound like this anymore?
Wire's "You Hung Your Lights In The Trees/A Craftman's Touch" (from 1990's Manscape) Most people might tell you that Manscape is Wire's worst album, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Take this ten minute gem, for example—a slowly unravelling conversation between the two vocalists set against minimal dark chords. "Do you still dream of having all of those things?" "How far are we apart?" I also love how the stuttering synth and drum machine rhythm that starts it off, punctuated by a bit of snare, gives my ears a false sense of the downbeat no matter how many times I hear it.
Blue Öyster Cult's "Debbie Denise" (from 1976's Agents Of Fortune) To be singing along to the refrain "I was out rolling with my ba-aa-and" while actually out rolling with my band has definitely been the most meta moment of the tour so far. This band deserves to be known among today's listeners for its music instead of that stupid SNL skit. (Alright, maybe it is slightly funny.)
Souled American's "Six Feet Of Snow" (from 1990's Around The Horn) Luckily we've only had to drive through one brief blizzard outside of Billings, Montana. It snuck up on us from the inside of a rainstorm that came out of nowhere toward the end of an otherwise beautiful day. When you can barely see through the windshield into the impenetrable gray mass of blowing snow, your mind may wander to a cozier place. A bed in New Orleans, for example. The arms of that waiting green-eyed girl, for another. This is my favorite instance of a song going from decent to great through a cover version.
Depeche Mode's "Waiting For The Night" (from 1990's Violator) Violator is one of those very rare albums that none of us ever get tired of blasting in the van. Perfectly crafted, rich in detail, and no filler anywhere. I hear new things each time I listen, and every track has been my favorite at least once. For this playlist though, "Waiting For The Night" seems appropriate as that's mostly what being on tour involves.
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane's "In A Sentimental Mood" (from 1963's Duke Ellington & John Coltrane) Listening to band after band with their massive walls of sound, what I crave most is to hear unamplified instruments played by sensitive musicians, carefully placed dissonances and lots of breathing room. If anybody knows of anything matching that description better than this song right here, please let me know. Best after dark.
AC/DC's "Moneytalks" (from 1990's The Razors Edge) Ending this mixtape on a random note...heard this for the first time in a great long while, and perhaps it's just the junior high nostalgia playing tricks on me, but I'll be damned if it's not my new favorite AC/DC Song of the Moment. I'll admit to not paying attention to the lyrics, but musically, no other bands have crafted so many great tunes using such relatively simple and few building blocks. So what if they've made the same album thirty seven times, there is subtle genius in the restraint of these riffs.
*Photo by Tommy Kearns
**Pre-order a copy of Concrete Sustain here.
***BATILLUS tour dates:
3/15/2013 Austin, TX @ Old Emo’s – Invisible Oranges Day Party w/ Today is the Day, Pallbearer, KEN Mode, Royal Thunder, Inter Arma, Baptists 3/17/2013 Baton Rouge, LA @ Mud & Water w/ Grave Robbers 3/18/2013 Lafayette, LA @ The Feed & Seed w/ Before the Eyewall, Guiltless 3/20/2013 Tallahassee, FL @ Hidden Hand w/ Attack Culture, Praying, Rovagug 3/21/2013 Athens, GA @ Little Kings w/ Pale Prophet 3/22/2013 Chapel Hill, NC @ Chapel Hill Underground w/ Backwoods Payback, Bitter Resolve 3/23/2013 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ Sinister Haze, Backwoods Payback, Men’s Room
****We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:
Inter Arma Helen Money Misery Index Ancient VVisdom Holy Grail Rotten Sound Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2) Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2) Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2) Early Graves All That Remains Bison B.C. A Life Once Lost Fight Amp Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander) Vision of Disorder Grave Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2) "Best of" Rush (Part 1) (Part 2) Dawnbringer Ufomammut Shadows Fall Horseback Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2) Torche "Best of" Meshuggah Astra Pallbearer Barren Earth Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)