From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Garma Festival

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future.

As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

garma540bLee: Garma Festival is an Aboriginal gathering of the tribes that happens in Arnhem land, northern territory of Australia, every year. This part of Australia is considered sacred land to the Aboriginal people, and you have to be invited onto it to take part. Once there, you camp and learn about issues facing Aboriginal communities in modern times, as well as see the “bungul” every afternoon. This is the time when all the local tribes gather and do traditional dances for each other, imitating animals and spirits of their ancestors. As an Australian, I had only really learned about Aboriginal culture from schoolbooks, so going to Garma was a life-changing experience for me. I realized how alive and vibrant the ancient culture of Australia truly is.

From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Built To Spill’s “There’s Nothing Wrong With Love”

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future.

As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

bts4eLee: There’s Nothing Wrong With Love is one of the most romantic indie-rock albums of all time. Everything Built To Spill has done has been pretty great, but this 1994 record is so full of yearning and amazing melodies that it’s kind of undeniable. When you meet someone else who loves this album, it’s a real bonding experience. The guitar solos are massive, the lyrics poetic in their everyday-ness. There’s something not quite right if albums like this get lost in the dustbin of history. It is epic. I come back to it every few years, and it never sounds dated.

MAGNET would like to add: Click here to go head-to-head with BTS frontman Doug Martsch in an arcade basketball game. Your boss will love it!

“Car”:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/Car.mp3

From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Band Of Outsiders

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future.

As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

boofal2545Lee: Los Angeles-based clothing label Band Of Outsiders is awesome. The creator, Scott Sternberg, used to be a CAA agent. so you never know … Anyway, Scott got frustrated with the fact that all American button-down shirts were so boxy and huge and never fit a slight guy the way European cuts did. So he started this label just making shirts and ties, but it has now expanded to suits, jackets, sweaters, hats and shoes. Last year he even started a women’s line (Boy.) that is really great. No clothes fit me the way Band Of Outsiders’ do. It makes it hard to go back to anything else.

From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Lärabar

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future.

As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

larabar540bLee: My keyboard player and musical collaborator, Lara Meyerratken (El May), is a snack freak. Whole Foods is like a perverse sexual playland for her. She discovered Lärabars on tour one day and has never turned back. They are great. Dried fruit and nuts and just totally delicious. Now get this: Through some research, she found out the creator of Lärabar is named Lara Merriken. Cosmic snack kismet, no? So they started writing to each other, and we then received a lifetime supply of Lärabars to tour with. Lara recently told me these days she actually keeps her Lärabars in the freezer. She’s an innovator. The mind can only wonder what snack she will discover next.

From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Jonathan Richman

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future. As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

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Lee:I first heard Jonathan Richman when I was 14. I used to go around to my friend Stephen’s house and borrow music from his vinyl collection every week. I discovered Back In Your Life by Jonathan And The Modern Lovers the same week I discovered Raw Power by the Stooges. As much as it will surprise some people, these records aren’t disconnected. Richman was (and still is) as punk as it gets. He was in seminal garage band the Modern Lovers, then went solo, playing acoustic kids’ music about dinosaurs and ice cream. There is something so pure about the way he sees the world. Without him, there would be no Moldy Peaches, no Calvin Johnson, no Ben Lee. He gave songwriters everywhere the permission we needed to never grow up.

“Back In Your Life” from 1979’s Back In Your Life:

From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Hanuman

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future.

As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

hunauman540bLee: I love Hindu mythology and have spent quite a bit of time in India. They have thousands of gods, each with a different story and lesson to teach about human nature. Hanuman is the monkey god whose superhuman strength comes from his devotion to his lord, Rama. He represents the playfulness and power we each tap into when we are dedicated to our truth. He was a very cheeky being who would play tricks like lifting up mountains and moving them while sages were meditating at the top. To me, Hanuman inspires me to stay on my path despite the challenges and consequences. You can get into a magical headspace that feels a little superhuman when you believe in what you are doing.

From The Desk Of Ben Lee: Sebadoh

benleealogo750news118d“No guilt, all pleasure,” sings Ben Lee on his forthcoming album, The Rebirth Of Venus (due April 28 on New West). Lately, the 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter has been on a mission to deliver radio-ready pop songs for the rest of us, mixing up hooks and politics and letting it all hang out. Shortly before he appeared on Jay Leno last week, Lee did a Q&A with MAGNET on the topics of Venus, his recent marriage to Ione Skye and the “mistake-pop” of his past and future.

As guest editor of magnetmagazine.com this week, the world’s most enlightened pop star shares thoughts about his latest revelations—from music to monkey gods.

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Lee: Lou Barlow formed Sebadoh after leaving Dinosaur Jr and was the most prolific motherfucker of the ’90s. He made Ryan Adams look like a dude with writer’s block. He put records out as Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Folk Implosion and I’m sure others I don’t know about. He really pioneered the home-recording lo-fi aesthetic that became such a staple of underground music and indie rock. The thing is, Barlow always wrote from the heart, even when he was being snarky and cruel. I am making a Noise Addict record at the moment, and Lou is playing bass on it. It’s a bit of a moment for me. He’s spending a lot of time playing in Dinosaur Jr again these days. The world is going to re-awaken to the majesty of Sebadoh again very soon, I’m sure.

“The Freed Pig” from 1991’s Sebadoh III:

Q&A With Ben Lee

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In 2009, the idea of a well-adjusted, self-realized pop star tends to boggle the mind of the American public. Ben Lee, a 30-year-old Australian singer/songwriter, has lately been on a mission to deliver music that challenges the notion of guilty-pleasure pop by creating radio-ready songs that also encapsulate ideas about politics, identity and gender. The Rebirth Of Venus (out in April on New West), Lee’s seventh solo album, is his ode to feminintiy in all its guises: muses (“Yoko Ono”), compassionate politics (anti-Bush Doctrine “Wake Up To America”), gender role-playing (“Boy With A Barbie”) and just wanting to have fun (“What’s So Bad (About Feeling Good)”). Venus is a brave and positive statement from Lee, a 16-year veteran of the music biz (he started out in teenage pop/punk outfit Noise Addict) who recently married actress Ione Skye (daughter of ’60s folk icon Donovan and iconic in her own right for her starring role in Say Anything).

Lee answered MAGNET’s questions from the green room of The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, where he performed on Friday. A man of spiritual depth and professional accomplishment, Lee will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week.

“Yoko Ono” from The Rebirth Of Venus:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/YokoOno.mp3

Continue reading “Q&A With Ben Lee”

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: “The World According To Monsanto”

johndavisc1John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17.

This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here.

monsantomural5301Davis: The World According To Monsanto is French filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin’s mind-blowing exposé on Monsanto, the U.S. government-sanctioned corporate juggernaut whose “greatest hits” include:

• Genetically modified seeds (90 percent of soybeans grown in America are “Roundup Ready”)
• GMO (genetically modified organism) foods (contained in 70 percent of the food products on American shelves)
• PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls)
• rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, linked to breast, colon and prostate cancers)
• Agent Orange
• Aspartame
• Roundup (herbicide)

If you’re unaware of the toxicity of these products and the dangers they present to your family’s health, I strongly recommend viewing this documentary. The fraudulent means by which many of these substances have been granted government approval is another matter entirely. Try Googling “Rumsfeld aspartame” sometime if you’re interested in some light reading.

View the eight-part documentary here. You’ll love the scene where then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, during his tour of a Monsanto lab facility, tells a group of execs frustrated with ”bureaucratic hurdles” (i.e., health- and environmental-safety testing), “Call me. We’re in the ‘de-reg’(ulation) business.”

This concludes “John Davis Week” here at magnetmagazine.com. Thanks to John for writing about some really important and interesting stuff. Go to the store and buy all the Superdrag records and Industry Giants when it comes out March 17.

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: “The Project For The New American Century: Rebuilding America’s Defenses”

johndavisc1John Davis wanted rock ‘n’ roll, but he didn’t want to deal with the hassle. The Superdrag frontman broke up his band in 2003, got religion and issued a pair of solo albums, putting a seemingly tight lid on the legacy of his Knoxville, Tenn., outfit. Apparently, Davis is willing to be bothered again: Superdrag’s original lineup reconvened to record Industry Giants, a new album due March 17.

This week, MAGNET celebrates the return of Superdrag by handing Davis the reins to our website, where he’ll share his favorite music, films, food, literature and more. Read our Q&A with Davis about the comeback here.

bill-kristolDavis: The Project For The New American Century (PNAC) was/is a neocon think tank whose membership and/or Signatories to Statement of Principles have included William Kristol (pictured), Randy Scheunemann, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. Its 90-page September 2000 document Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century remains highly controversial, as its “core missions” for the U.S. military included “fight(ing) and decisively win(ning) multiple, simultaneous major-theater wars” in the interests of American global hegemony.

The PNAC had been calling for U.S.-led “regime change” in Iraq as early as 1998, and its 1997 Statement of Principles stressed the importance of “shap(ing) circumstances before crises emerge” and “meet(ing) threats before they become dire.” Maintaining nuclear strategic superiority, performing “constabulary” duties in critical regions around the world, developing and deploying global missile defenses and controlling the “international commons” of space were other key objectives. But there’s one passage in particular that reads less like an article in Soldier Of Fortune and more like a piece of crime-scene evidence: “The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Recommended reading: The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About The Bush Administration And 9/11 by David Ray Griffin.