From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Charles Mingus’ “Oh Yeah”

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.

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Davis: Charles Mingus sings(!) and plays piano in his own inimitable style on this fiery gospel- and blues-fueled set from 1961. Doug Watkins ably handles the daunting task of playing bass on a Mingus recording. Mingus was well-known to boast about his ability on piano (where he did most of his composing), and in this particular case, he famously offered critics of his singing a punch in the mouth. Here’s how he responded to Harvey Pekar’s less than sympathetic review in Down Beat: “My efforts at blues singing were not meant to challenge such diverse masters as Joe Turner, Ray Charles or Big Bill Broonzy, and I don’t think their singing was meant as a challenge to each other or to me. No one could sing my blues but me (if you must call it singing), just as no one could holler for you if I decide to punch you in your mouth.”

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Indian Cuisine

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.

indian344Davis: Indian food is hands-down my favorite way to go when it comes to dining out. (I’m responsible for all the random pictures of Indian dishes and cups of tea among the Superdrag tour photos.) We hit up some serious Indian places on our West Coast tour last year. By the way, a big shout-out to my friends at Sitar Indian Cuisine in Nashville. The combinations of flavors and spices in Indian dishes have been thoughtfully engineered over centuries to produce a feeling of well-being and overall good health. Chili, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander and cumin are all ancient Ayurvedic ingredients. So that amazing “food buzz” you get from your panir masala or mushroom matar is by no means a coincidence—it’s scientific!

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: Lee “Scratch” Perry

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.

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Davis: The Ark of the Covenant was the ancient Hebrews’ sacred container for the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron and manna, which was heavenly food created by God to sustain the people in the wilderness. According to legend in the Kebra Nagast, fundamental to Rastafarian beliefs, the Ark traveled to Ethiopia with King Menelik I, son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. If there is such thing as a reggae Ark of the Covenant, then Lee Perry’s four-disc I Am The Upsetter: The Story Of Lee “Scratch” Perry: Golden Years box is it. Broader in scope than the three-disc Arkology set, it runs the gamut of Perry’s productions spanning the years 1968-1978. Essential.

“Black Panta” from I Am The Upsetter: The Story Of Lee “Scratch” Perry: Golden Years:

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: “The Dark Knight Returns”

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.

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Davis: Written by Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is easily one of my all-time favorite works of fiction from any genre. I’m a habitual re-reader, and I’ve re-read this one no less than 25 times. It’s routinely described using words like “operatic,” “fortissimo” and “masterpiece”—I’ll buy that. It’s Miller’s operatic, fortissimo masterpiece.

From The Desk Of Superdrag’s John Davis: John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”

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.

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Davis: I’m not sure how I managed to survive for 33 years without this piece of music, but that’s how long it took me to finally get around to hearing it. I don’t think I’ll ever perceive music in quite the same way again. For me, A Love Supreme (released in 1965) drew a very definite line in the sand between a song that could just as easily be sung or not sung, without either the singer or the listener caring all that much either way, and a performance that demands to be heard and dealt with, head-on, on its own terms, right then and there—a song that’s got to be sung or played in that exact place and time, with an absolute commitment, otherwise the singer or the player might fall down dead on the spot.

In that same instant, I learned a very important lesson about myself: I have absolutely no time for the former and am only interested in the latter. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced any recording on as high a level spiritually as this one, and it happens to me every single time I hear it. It’s like having a bomb dropped on me all over again: a peace bomb.

This performance is by the “classic quartet”: Coltrane’s tenor saxophone, Elvin Jones behind the drums, Jimmy Garrison on bass and McCoy Tyner at the piano. I’m at a loss for words to describe how brilliantly they complemented one another. The intensity of the atmosphere on this recording is atom-splitting. The two-disc deluxe edition is the one you want. Highly recommended.

“Psalm” from A Love Supreme:

Q&A With Superdrag’s John Davis

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When Superdrag frontman John Davis put the then-final incarnation of the band on hiatus in 2003, it certainly seemed permanent. Davis had recently undergone a religious transformation and was prepping his 2005 self-titled Christian-rock debut. (Don’t be fooled by that lazy description; while it might take some getting used to the lyrical theology, the record is nothing like the rest of the genre. And the follow-up, 2007’s overlooked, harder-rocking Arigato!, is even better.) “I have a totally different kind of heart about things and a different way of looking at things,” Davis said in a 2005 interview with MAGNET. “I felt like a phony getting up and singing some of the stuff … I didn’t feel like I was being honest. When that realization hit me, I didn’t feel like I could go on.”

So it came as a blessed surprise when news began filtering out that the original Superdrag lineup—Davis, drummer Don Coffey Jr., guitarist Brandon Fisher and bassist Tom Pappas—would be reuniting for a set of shows in 2007 and 2008. While it may have been tempting to view this as yet another defunct group hopping on the reunion-tour cash-grab express, the passionate concerts—both revelatory and celebratory—cast aside any such aspersions. And it gets better: The reconstituted Superdrag is releasing Industry Giants on March 17, the original lineup’s first LP since 1998’s Head Trip In Every Key, regarded in some circles as the band’s pinnacle. (We’re partial to 2000’s moving In The Valley Of Dying Stars; Pappas departed prior to its recording.) The boys are also playing another round of gigs that have a lot to live up to (dates below).

Davis sat down to answer a few questions about Superdrag’s rebirth. Davis will be the guest editor of magnetmagazine.com all this week. Check back for his daily posts on favorite music, film, food and more.

“Everything’ll Be Made Right” from Industry Giants:
http://magnetmagazine.com/audio/EverythingllBeMadeRight.mp3

Continue reading “Q&A With Superdrag’s John Davis”

Grandaddy Clause: Charles Simic

jasonlogoeAfter the dissolution of beloved sci-fi pop outfit Grandaddy in 2006, frontman Jason Lytle left behind California’s blue suburban skies for the peace, quiet and sobriety of Montana. This week, Lytle re-emerges with news of a solo debut and a part-time seasonal job as guest editor for magnetmagazine.com.

Read our new Q&A with Lytle about his forthcoming album, Yours Truly, The Commuter (Anti-), here.

simic350bLytle: For all those years I was self-conscious of the fact I had a hard time “getting” poetry, Charles Simic was my entry into the world of poetry. I was always concerned that it didn’t resonate with me. A big part of it is that he’s still somewhat modern—he’s probably in his 70s [born 1938]—and talks about current things. I like a lot of his shorter bits (thanks, ADD), such as “Factory,” “Late September” and especially “Talking To Ceiling.” It’s not written in some other language to where I’m alienated from it. Like me, he has a hard time sleeping and just wanders around. And I just get it.

Simic reads “White Room,” “Mirrors At 4 A.M.” and “The Friends Of Heraclitus” at 2003’s Key West Literary Seminar:

For an in-depth piece on Lytle circa the end of Grandaddy, read our 2006 cover story here.

This concludes “Jason Lytle Week” here at magnetmagazine.com. Thanks to Jason for turning our readers on to some really cool stuff. Go to the store and buy all his Grandaddy records and his solo debut when it comes out May 19.

Grandaddy Clause: A&E’s “Intervention”

jasonlogoeAfter the dissolution of beloved sci-fi pop outfit Grandaddy in 2006, frontman Jason Lytle left behind California’s blue suburban skies for the peace, quiet and sobriety of Montana. This week, Lytle re-emerges with news of a solo debut and a part-time seasonal job as guest editor for magnetmagazine.com.

Read our new Q&A with Lytle about his forthcoming album, Yours Truly, The Commuter (Anti-), here.

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Lytle: Intervention is a documentary series about real people on the verge of the destruction of themselves and their families. They’re told it’s a documentary made about them, but it’s all a build-up to this intervention that’s coming at the climax of the show. They walk into the room and everybody’s there. I started watching it when I was having problems, and it made me feel better about myself. Sometimes you think the people are gonna pull out of it, and you’re rooting for them. Then you find out that, with one week to go in rehab, they relapsed, they lost their whole family, and they wound up back on the street. It can be inspiring if they make it, but a real eye-opener if they don’t.

For an in-depth piece on Lytle circa the end of Grandaddy, read our 2006 cover story here.

Grandaddy Clause: Skateboard Parks

jasonlogoeAfter the dissolution of beloved sci-fi pop outfit Grandaddy in 2006, frontman Jason Lytle left behind California’s blue suburban skies for the peace, quiet and sobriety of Montana. This week, Lytle re-emerges with news of a solo debut and a part-time seasonal job as guest editor for magnetmagazine.com.

Read our new Q&A with Lytle about his forthcoming album, Yours Truly, The Commuter (Anti-), here.

skateabovLytle: Skateboard parks are now everywhere, which is wonderful. That wasn’t always the case when I was growing up. A good day at the skate park includes gliding over transitions, popping over hips and doing long, smooth grinds. It’s like a grand journey, a perfect piece of music or an epic Italian meal. Skateboarding has remained a constant for since I was eight years old. It runs through my blood and is responsible for making me the person I am. It’s nice that I still have the ability to flow around, clear my mind and tap into something very familiar. I called my girlfriend last year from a skateboard park in Southern California and told her, “There’s about 15 guys here and guess who the youngest one is? Me!”

For an in-depth piece on Lytle circa the end of Grandaddy, read our 2006 cover story here.

Grandaddy Clause: Ludwig Van Beethoven

jasonlogoeAfter the dissolution of beloved sci-fi pop outfit Grandaddy in 2006, frontman Jason Lytle left behind California’s blue suburban skies for the peace, quiet and sobriety of Montana. This week, Lytle re-emerges with news of a solo debut and a part-time seasonal job as guest editor for magnetmagazine.com.

Read our new Q&A with Lytle about his forthcoming album, Yours Truly, The Commuter (Anti-), here.

250px-beethovenLytle: I have felt my soul shudder and stir more while listening to Ludwig van Beethoven than any other composer. Primarily I like his adagios or his moodier, sad stuff. There’s a connection to the human condition that I hear in his music. This morning I woke up at 3:00 and decided to go on a walk. I walked three miles through the snow while it was two degrees outside, listening to Beethoven, the adagios pulled from different symphonies, on my iPod. Pretty incredible stuff. That Beethoven movie with Gary Oldman, Immortal Beloved, even though it’s riddled with plot holes, is one of my favorites and the closest I’ll ever get to spying on him.

For an in-depth piece on Lytle circa the end of Grandaddy, read our 2006 cover story here.