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Ratterman in the studio

Wax Fang’s Kevin Ratterman is a busy man in the music business these days. So busy that he never really got around to pursuing his family’s business of operating funeral homes in the Louisville area. Instead, he picked up on another family trait; music.

From the time he was a child he would aspire to his older brother Blaine, an “excellent drummer” as described by Ratterman, and his father’s band, The Epics’ drummer as well. So, growing up he essentially had ready access to full drum kit in his basement. No surprises that he too would learn to play drums. Led Zeppelin and Mötley Crüe were two bands he cited that he learned to play to growing up.

Today, not only is he Wax Fang’s animated drummer, but he’s started to take on a new endeavor in the world of music; album production. Some of his first two projects: My Morning Jacket’s Circuital and The Broken Spurs’ Natural Disaster, both of whose albums he played an integral role in developing the sound for. Not to shabby for a production-newbie, right?

“I essentially put the studio together,” Ratterman explained when talking about the make-shift studio he built in a church gymnasium to record Circuital, the new My Morning Jacket album due out May 31 on ATO Records.

“We were recording everything live, which means you have to automatically – when you’re doing stuff like that – ‘accept’ a lot of things you wouldn’t normally accept,” he explained about the sound output from the live recording process as compared to a studio. I can’t help but to think, at this point, that he must be a perfectionist, because when you listen to Circuital’s title track (released last week by MMJ) you can barely tell it was recorded live, in my opinion. They’re a few subtle hints, but nothing that the average listener will really notice. Just us music junkies.

Currently Ratterman has no future production plans with MMJ, but he described the experience with recording with the band as “one of my crowning achievements in my life.”

As for his own band, Wax Fang, Ratterman announced that they have recorded a new album and EP, and that they would probably be out later in the fall of 2011 once they have wrapped up the label shopping process. Apparently they have options. For more updates on Wax Fang, check the band’s website at WaxFang.com

Here is the raw video from my interview:

** This interview also posted at Louisville.com

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If you’ve lived here in our beloved Derby-city for a long time, then there is a good chance that you’re probably already over Thunder Over Louisville. It’s just a bunch of fireworks, right? Or maybe because it essentially generates Louisville’s biggest annual city-wide traffic jam, and packs the Jefferson County Detention Center to near capacity. Something of the sort.

But, hey, it’s also the kick-off of the Derby Festival here in the bluegrass state; our little annual tradition and time to shine, right? And, on the flip side it creates one of the city’s best few weeks of the year for live music and concerts across almost every conceivable musical style.

Friday night’s 
Thunder-eve celebration will bring us Louisville’s own Wax Fang at Zanzabar in Germantown. This wildly powerful psychedelic rock band produces a lot of sound for being a just a trio, and will be in the midst of a short mini-Kentucky tour hitting Bowling Green, Louisville and Lexington in a three-night stretch.

Still being a fairly young band by Louisville standards, Wax Fang has come a long way, and made a pretty bold statement about themselves as musicians. Led by Scott Carney on guitars and vocals, Kevin Ratterman on drums, and Jacob Heustis on Bass, you’ll surely get an intense and aggressive dose of guitars, while Carney’s impressive tenor will at-times bring a euphoric sense to their music, much like Pink Floyd did, a band Wax Fang has been often compared to.

Wax Fang landed an opening slot with fellow Louisville-counterparts My Morning Jacket on their fall tour, and then were basically handpicked by Spoon for another opening performance, and then received the opportunity to perform at SXSW, which eventually landed them their first record deal with Absolutely Kosher Records. 

They don’t play out that often, so this Friday’s show may be the last in Louisville for another 6-7 month stint. That is unless you can catch Scott Carney out playing a random solo acoustic gig, something that happens with a little more frequency than the entire band.

Wax Fang / The Features
Friday, April 15
2100 South Preston Street
21 and up

Checkout this Wax Fang performance of “Majestic”:

** This preview also posted at Louisville.com

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Music Break: Conan & Hunter

This shit is awesome.
I hope I go out like this:

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Louisville’s My Morning Jacket is set to release their sixth studio album, “Circuital” on April 12th. In the meantime, in celebration of “Circuital”, My Morning Jacket will giveaway free weekly downloads via their website (www.MyMorningJacket.com) of live songs recorded from their October 2010 performance at NYC’s Terminal 5. This giveaway is said to last for six weeks and will feature one brand new song from the new album on the last week.

The first song released on March 3rd was a live recording of Butch Casidy off their debut album “The Tennessee Fire.”

“Circuital” was recorded here in Louisville and Nashville, and was co-produced by Jim James and Tucker Martine (R.E.M., Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists). Rumor has it that they have yet again reinvented their sound while remaining close to their roots as musicians.

MMJ will also be launching a busy summer concert season on April 17th at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, KY, and then back in Louisville on May 31st to celebrate the release of Circuital.

But, what is known right now is here:

April 17
Lexington, KY – Memorial Coliseum
May 20-22 Gulf Shores, AL – Hangout Festival
May 31 Louisville, KY – The Palace
June 02-05 Ozark, AR – Wakarusa Festival
June 02-05 Hunter, NY – Mountain Jam
June 09-12 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Festival
June 30 – July 03 Quincy, CA – High Sierra Music Festival

Here is a video from Jim James and Patrick Hallahan’s solo performance of One Big Holiday in December 2010 at Headliners.

** This preview also published at Louisville.com

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It was almost 46 years ago when Merle Haggard released his first album, “Strangers” on Capitol Records. And now, Haggard, 76 studio albums, 73 years, 48 compilation albums, 38 #1 singles, and who-knows-how-many live performances later, will make his Louisville-area return Friday, March 4th at Horseshoe Casino. Joining Haggard, will be another country music great – and former HighwaymenKris Kristofferson. You should probably expect a few duets between the two at some point during the night.

Now when you talk about Merle Haggard, you almost have to note the word legend somewhere in the conversation, considering his countless accolades, infamies and how he essentially initiated the whole outlaw country movement of music back in the late 60’s and 70’s. So that being said, this country music legend, and former San Quentin inmate, will roll into town for yet another shindig, but this time an acoustic one.

So, for those of you who got your tickets before they sold out, knock the dust off your boots, put on as much leather as you own, break out those jeans with holes in them, grease your hair a little, don’t worry about shaving, and just cut loose. Once you get to Horseshoe, make a pit-stop at Legends bar, hit up a bottle of whiskey, crack open a few burley-pops, smoke your favorite smoke, and work on achieving an authenticity for the night, because Merle and Kris are gonna treat you to some of the greatest outlaw country music that those very substances influenced the creation of.

Merle Haggard
Kris Kristofferson
Friday, March 4th
The Showroom at Horseshoe Casino
Elizabeth, IN
7:30 pm

** This preview is also published at Louisville.com

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