• The Basement Tapes: Groups hopes to receive enough donations for debut release

    Local Austin rock band Major Major Major released their first self titled EP this month.
    Local Austin rock band Major Major Major released their first self titled EP this month.

    With only about $500 and three days left to meet their pledged goal of $3,500 on Kickstarter.com, local indie rock band Major Major Major can almost take a breath of relief. If the band meets their goal (which from the looks of it, they will), the fundraised money will pay for parts of their recording session for their debuting, self-titled EP, which is set to release this fall.

    Though fairly a new band, the chemistry between the quartet —which includes psychology junior and singer-songwriter Adrian Sebastian, American studies senior and drummer Andrew Torrey, philosophy junior and bassist Jeff Crozier, and physics senior and guitarist Seth Whitsitt — during and after performances is amicable and effortless. Although there's also an easiness to Major Major Major's sound and performance, their blend of pop and rock music is nothing short of precision, thoughtfulness and fun. 

    The Daily Texan interviewed Major Major Major during the Basement Tapes about their Kickstarter project, Sebastian's feminist inspiration for the EP and the recent addition of Cozier and Torrey.

    The Daily Texan: A lot of bands have been using Kickstarter.com as the fundraising method to fund their albums. How has the website worked for you, and how do you feel about it in general?

    Seth Whitsitt: It depends on if our fans get involved.

    Andrew Torrey: Yeah, we might be kind of bitter. [laughs]

    Adrian Sebastian: We are like on the cut. We’re like $600 dollars away, which is a lot compare to the $2,900 that we raised. So we’re a little nervous.

    Torrey: It’s a very mutual system where we give them music and they help us pay for it. Where before, we would have had to pay for it all by ourselves.

    Sebastian: It is pretty amazing that we can even ask for money, for that large of an amount. It’s pretty amazing that we’ve raised $2,900 for something that no one has heard or really knows about. I mean they know us, we have a video up there and everything, but yeah, it’s pretty cool.

    DT: How much will this cover for the recording process?

    Sebastian: Well, we don’t know because it’s going to be kind of a long process so for the first wave, it’s not going to cover everything. I think as far as the studio time, we’re looking at $3,000 for the studio time, including the tape over. A $1,000 mix, so we’re looking at $5,000.

    Torrey: So we’re still paying it from our pockets.

    Jeff Cozier: But it’s one of those things where it’s cool that our fans can help us towards a goal that we’ll eventually reach.

    DT: So the first EP always kind of sets the tone and the vibe for the band’s future, so what can people expect from this EP?

    Sebastian: The first three songs are a stream of conscious, as they are pretty much all one song. I wrote them all in one try and they are all pretty much about the same thing. And all of the songs pretty much have the same theme.

    DT: And what’s that?

    Sebastian: The theme is well, see, the last song is Seth’s song so I can’t really speak for his, but we can kind of wrote the lyrics together to make it coherent. So it’s basically about, I got into like this phase ten months ago and I was just convinced, and I’m probably still in this phase and still convinced that women are just completely better than men are. Yeah, I got into this phase and I just felt random guilt, which was comical to me, but also it made sense. It was ironic, so I thought that was funny, so I wrote about it. The fourth song, which is “I Wouldn’t Mind At All,” that’s about a guy — I’ve never gone through this experience but — where he knows for sure that his girlfriend has been completely cheating on him and she doesn’t respect him or anything like that. But he knows that if he ends up standing up to her saying ‘fuck this, I’m not dealing with this, she’s totally using me,’ he’s still going to feel just at vacant and lonely, so he just lets it die out. So it’s kind of an opposite role of men having the superiority and being able to cheat on women and women being just like ‘oh, okay.’ Because if a girl cheats on a dude, it’s like ‘fucking over, it’s fucking over, we’re done’ and I say this for myself to because I would not stay in it for that but I just thought it was an interesting kind of psychology.

    DT: So you guys are fairly new in coming together, how has that been?

    Sebastian: It’s been great. From my personal opinion, it’s the best that this band has ever sounded. Andrew and Jeff are really into it and they try. Which not a lot of musicians try, believe it or not some don’t fucking care. [Andrew and Jeff] care about it. It’s not ‘I’m just going to play drums.’ They want to get it down. They want to play the songs over again which is fucking rare. I’m sorry I just hate musicians sometimes, I just hate them, especially rock musicians. It’s such a waste. There are two kinds of musicians, musicians who just cannot stop thinking about it, always think about it and want it, and then there’s the ones who just do it for fun like they play chess for fun. You know, so they don’t really care. I sound like a real big asshole right now. [laughs]. It’s just great to play with people who care. It is important to find out ... figure out what kind of music we can make together, instead of playing in our own worlds and not try to connect with each other. I guess that’s the ultimate goal.

    Whitsitt: One of the most important things any band can do is be open to as many influences as possible. And I always think its great if you are playing with new people, no matter what the writing process is or the playing process is, the fact that everybody is really into what they are in to, it’s the most important in playing as a band.

    DT: So two questions — stemming off from that is one, what’s a major difference in the band’s sound before Andrew and Jeff came a long and then, what are some of your influences?

    Sebastian: Your basement. [laughs] I think it was a lot more boring. I know it’s harsh and pessimistic. I think that for me personally the way I write songs is I write them and I am like ‘this is a good song’ and that’s it. And I thought that was all that mattered. And it’s not. When I started listening to them — I never listened to them, I just played them — but when I started listening to them, I thought ‘I would never listen to this.’ It’s not bad but it just wasn’t interesting.

    DT: And your influences?

    Cozier: The Beatles. It's not something we've discussed before, but the Beatles are definitely an inspiration.

  • Apron Optional: Butterbeer

    Raise a glass of Butterbeer in the spirit of the final Harry Potter movie premiere.
    Raise a glass of Butterbeer in the spirit of the final Harry Potter movie premiere.

    Harry Potter was a crucial part of my childhood. Though I have always liked to read, I don’t remember another book (much less another series) that I read as ferociously as the Harry Potter series. I would get in trouble for staying up too late reading because I just couldn’t put the books down. I’m not going to lie, this all gets me pretty sentimental.

    In celebration of this monumental occasion, I’m making some Butterbeer and Cauldron Cakes for my fanatical friends and I to accompany a day of post-premiere lounging and reminiscing over Harry Potter movies one through seven part one.

    It should come as no surprise that there are a bevy of Harry Potter fan websites out there filled to the brim with all things magical, recipes included. I was first introduced to this part of the phenomenon my junior year of high school, by an unidentified blonde girl (who is now one of my best friends) who casually mentioned Muggle Net in conversation. When I looked at her confused and asked what on earth she was talking about, she responded — as if I had asked her what color the sky was — “Muggle Net: it’s where the muggles go.” Oh, of course!

    First, the Butterbeer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to duck in to the Three Broomsticks and drown my sorrows in a pint of this stuff, so a homemade brew was the best bet. Just a warning: it is really, really sweet. The flavor is like that of butterscotch and can be served hot or cold, with or without alcohol.

    This particular batch was served chilled, sans alcohol. Call me crazy, but the idea of a hot, frothy drink in the heat of summer is about as appetizing as troll bogies.

    There are literally hundreds of Butterbeer recipes online, but I chose a simple one from mugglenet.com (why not start there, right?). It only has three ingredients, so it makes for some instant nostalgia.

    To go with it, I made Cauldron Cakes, using a recipe I found on slashfood.com. Although I’m not sure they are entirely true to the book, the Brooklyn-based bakery recipe yields so many spiced brownie-cookie hybrids that it’s hard to care about little things such as contextual accuracy. If they’re calling them Cauldron Cakes, I’m baking (and eating) them!

    It is true, it’s sad that there will be no more new movies, but we will always have memories of staying up reading and dressing up for the premiere (I dressed up as Luna Lovegood). Still, there are things for wizards and muggles to look forward to such as Pottermore and potential pilgrimages to The Wizarding World theme park. And still, it’s nice to know you can always change out of your dress robes, kick back and enjoy a nice cold Butterbeer with your friends and reminisce.

    Until next Friday; remember, no post on Sundays.

  • Weekend Recs: Truancy Ride, Vive La France, Potter Extravaganza, Cudi, Kevin Greer

    Bike riders gather at Mellow Johnny’s for a moderately paced, 30-mile road ride around the city. Safety regulations include wearing a helmet, using a bike in good working condition and having water and tools for changing flats in hand.

    WHAT: Friday Truancy Ride
    WHERE: Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop
    WHEN: Friday, 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: Free

    To celebrate the anniversary of the French revolution, the historic French Legation Museum is hosting its annual Bastille Day party with refreshments, live French music, dancing and rounds of the country’s popular sport, Pétanque, on its grassy lawn.

    WHAT: L’Alliance Française d’Austin’s Annual Bastille Day Party
    WHERE: French Legation Museum
    WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m. - 11 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $8 advance, $10 at the gate, children 12 and under free

    To mark the finale of the Harry Potter movie series, the Highball is doing it wizardly big, transforming the venue’s ballroom into the Great Hall. Ticket includes a three-course feast, Harry Potter-themed drinks, trivia games and a live reenactment of the entire series in an hour by the Institution Theater.

    WHAT: Harry Potter Extravaganza
    WHERE: The Highball
    WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $60 (18 and up)

    The “Day ‘n’ Nite” rapper from Cleveland is hitting the stage with Chip Tha Ripper on Saturday.

    WHAT: Kid Cudi with Chip Tha Ripper
    WHERE: Cedar Park Center
    WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $50

    The quaint little restaurant on Live Oak is hosting an art show series for charity this Sunday. All proceeds benefit the Austin Museum of Art. Showcasing the work of local artist Kevin Greer, there will be complimentary appetizers as well.

    WHAT: Art Show: Kevin Greer
    WHERE: Paggi House
    WHEN: Sunday, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
    HOW MUCH: $10 pre-sale, $15 at the door

  • Art in Translation: Miss Texas

    Video still from Lauren Woods’ “The Teenth of June”. (Image courtesy of Lauren Woods)
    Video still from Lauren Woods’ “The Teenth of June”. (Image courtesy of Lauren Woods)

    Movies these days can be expensive, so when I heard there was a videographic art exhibit at Women and Their Work on Lavaca Street free of charge — I figured it was worth investigating.

    The gallery itself features contemporary art by female artists from all around Texas. The current exhibition, Lauren Woods’ “Notes of a Native Daughter,” features video installations that examine race, gender and social politics.

    Walking into the exhibition, it feels kind of eerie pulling back the black curtain door to reveal a dark room, lit only by five screens. The pieces, set up like stations, are spread out so that they can be experienced individually — never having your line of sight split between two pieces.

    The piece which stood out for me was Woods’ “Teenth of June,” which features footage from the last minutes of the 2006 Miss Texas pageant. A monumental year, Shilah Phillips was crowned Miss Texas, marking the first time in the 85 year history of the pageant that an African-American won.

    The video is in slow motion, starting at the announcement of the winner and runners-up. As the names are called, it is easier to see the real expressions on the contestants’ faces. Though all have smiles on their faces, there is always a brief moment of disdain, disappointment or resentment in their expressions as one by one the contestants take their spots behind the contenders for the title.

    “Teenth of June” takes on a whole new tone when the artist sets it to the soundtrack of the 1978 film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The violently suspenseful violins seem to hit their peak of intensity right as the final two girls are waiting to hear the results. The runner up, a very tan, blonde bombshell holds Phillips’ hands in “mutual support” with a look of anxious anticipation.

    The unidentified blonde looks very excited, as if she has the pageant in the bag. She embraces Phillips in a hug, leaning in for a comforting, congenial kiss on the cheek. While accepting the hug, Phillips very clearly leans out of the kiss, only allowing the woman to graze the edge of her jawbone. It is clear that there isn’t any sincerity behind the gesture.

    As the names are announced, there is a brief moment in which both women seem to react as they expected: Phillips looks gracious, prepared to accept her first runner-up position, while her counterpart looks as though she finally won. Then, reality sets in and Phillips begins crying in disbelief as she is crowned and her contender takes her position with the other finalists.

    I felt that this piece poked fun at the concept of racial accomplishment. While yes, it is somewhat of an achievement for there to be an African-American Miss Texas, it took 85 years. We like to think we’ve come a long way, but I was shocked to find that this took place as recently as 2006. It makes you think about what accomplishment really means when it comes smaller or later than it should.

    Then, on a less heavy note, it is pretty hilarious to see the facial expressions of the girls up close and in slow motion. The transition of emotions that they go through in a span of 15 seconds is so bizarre. It’s the sort of thing that could only happen when you are on stage, trying your hardest to look perfect and happy and beautiful while feeling a whirlwind of not-so-pretty things on the inside.

    I wonder what my face would say in slow motion. What would yours say? 

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