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2016/04/28

INTERVIEW : 2016-04-28 Joseph Arthur : Welcome to the Family (by Helen Fairhurst)


It’s almost two years since Joseph Arthur’s last concert in the UK so I’m more than happy to be at The Borderline this Sunday evening to witness his long-awaited return. It’s my twenty-sixth time seeing Joseph, although if time-money-distance were no impediment it would be more. If I’m normally hyped-up with anticipation before these shows, then there’s an added excitement this time after a surprise invitation to write a feature for this magazine.


Joseph Arthur at The Borderline, London on Sunday 17th April 2016 by Edyta K.



In those two years the multi-talented Joseph Arthur has been busy. Then he was touring his LP of Lou Reed covers with Mike Mills (R.E.M) and Bill Dobrow (The Black Crowes). Now he’s hot off the back of a short US tour with RNDM, an alternative-rock collaboration with Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam) and Richard Stuverud (Fastbacks/War Babies). RNDM had been on the road to promote their second album Ghost Riding.

In between Joseph found time to put out the self-released solo album Days Of Surrender – an album he recorded entirely by himself. Also a recognised painter and poet, his social feeds are strewn with his poetry and abstract art. He’ll even paint large canvases during his live shows. Joseph is a constant whirlwind of creativity!

This summer will see the release of The Family on Real World Records, a label that Joseph has a long history with. In the mid-90s a quirk of fate saw his early demo tape land in the hands of Peter Gabriel. After a personal call and audition, Joseph was soon signed to Real World and that was the home for his first three critically acclaimed albums and four EPs. The double album The Ballad of Boogie Christ marked his return to the label in 2013.


Following a delayed soundcheck Joseph generously spares a few minutes and we sit down to talk about his upcoming album. Joseph is quick to note the caption on the painting behind us that reads ‘IN THE BEGINNING’ which seemed like a good place to start.

The inspiration for The Family came when Joseph bought a 1912 Steinway Vertegrand and began composing songs on it – a process that he became totally immersed in, as described when he last spoke to RockShot Magazine in 2013. Joseph normally writes from guitar so piano was a new direction for him. “It was just something I did then and I haven’t written songs on the piano since. But I play it all the time and it’s used on almost every recording now, for example on Lou.”

Joseph gave the songs to renowned audio engineer Tchad Blake for mixing. “Tchad knows how to make things edgy and exciting. He’ll push things as far as he can without destroying them” says Joseph. “His intuition in matching emotion with sound and the decisions he makes about my music are something really special, so I hope I get a chance to work with him again.”

Tchad had previously mixed Joseph’s album Redemption’s Son and sequenced the Junkyard Hearts EPs so they already had a mutual respect for each other’s work. Over the years Joseph continued working on The Family and passing it round, but found that he wasn’t quite getting the response back that he wanted. “You always go through fear before you put things out or at least I do. You’re trying to gauge reactions, especially if you’re working in a vacuum.” He called on Tchad again to see if he would help edit and sequence it “Then it became something that I’m real proud about, I really like the way it flows now”.

Joseph’s lyrics speak of passion and pain, longing and loss so turning this to focus on the concept of ‘family’ seems utterly fitting to me. The songs are written from the perspective of various characters – a grandfather, a father, a mother singing to her son. Joseph interviewed his parents and used a few names and details from his own family history – “I found out some interesting stories, like my grandmother was actually born the day the Titanic sunk, but it’s not my real life story” he explains.

The songs are drawn from his observations and experiences. It’s clear that Joseph is excited to be putting this album out into the world. My personal anticipation for The Family, out 3rd June 2016, is running high for another captivating addition to a long line of Joseph Arthur releases. The first single from the album You Keep Hanging On came out recently, the piano co-stars in the accompanying video, and if the glowing reviews for the single are anything to go by I think this album will go far.


Joseph needs to relax and refuel, so it’s time to go back down to the venue to watch Jonny Kaplan & The UK Lazy Stars (feat. Rami Jaffee from The Wallflowers, Foo Fighters) open the night with a storming set of their LA-flavoured rock and blues to an enthusiastic reception. Rami and the band are good friends of Joseph’s who, luckily for us, are in town at the same time.

In the subterranean vault of The Borderline the near-capacity crowd is waiting for Joseph’s appearance. There’s a little trouble setting up the heavily loaded pedal board, compounded by a broken string on his orange Fender Strat during the first notes, but then we’re plunged into a brooding distorted-guitar cover of The Man Who Sold The World with weaving rhythmic guitar chords. ‘That’s Bowie’s, may he rest in peace’ adds Joseph in tribute.


Joseph Arthur at The Borderline, London, Sunday 17th April 2016. (Edyta K)

An early request for In The Sun (‘What, already?!’) is bypassed for an impassioned harmonica and stompbox punctuated Mercedes. The lines that resonate strongly in this song ‘Always trying to keep yourself put together, always needing to fall apart’ were written for his sister on his first release Big City Secrets in 1997. The tempo slows for the delicate finger-picked Out On A Limb. Rami Jaffee is invited to the stage midway adding lilting accordion strains, then Joseph plays out with sampled beats overlaid by an exquisite guitar solo, the first of many this evening.

A tall and charismatic presence on stage, Joseph breaks for some humorous off-the-cuff banter. This allows time to reflect that in just three songs we’ve already been treated to a showcase of Joseph’s musical skills and his astounding vocal range; from eerie falsetto to gritty baritone to gentle musing. Next up he launches into beat poetry with I Miss The Zoo – a half-sung, half-spoken hailstorm of words over loops and Rami’s embellishments on the keys. Joseph reprimands the audience for clapping out of time, then forgets his lyrics halfway through. ‘F*** I Miss The Zoo, I’m sorry!’ he says as he gives up on the song, but all is readily forgiven.

He flies solo for the next few songs. Setting up loop samples by thumping on the guitar body as percussion and adding the melody line, he then floats haunting vocals on top for the romantic Maybe You. A rousing Travel As Equals with its chorus encouraging us to ‘Give it up to your destiny’ has everyone moving. Then a highlight, You Keep Hanging On – the beautiful new song from his upcoming album, The Family. Between the yearning verses Joseph harmonises with his own looped falsetto creating a multi-layered chorus to stunning effect. ‘There’s a high-degree of difficulty to that’ he explains and we believe him.


This gig is the last of three on a short jaunt to Europe and, being largely un-rehearsed, feels like it might crash at times, but Joseph pulls it back from the edge with his quick wit and dazzling talent. On this occasion, Joseph’s signature “one-man band” solo show is augmented by Rami Jaffee’s brilliant impromptu accompaniment.

Devil’s Broom, my favourite of the set, raises the roof with its powerful delivery and intense keyboard acrobatics from Rami. A need for salvation is a recurring theme in Joseph’s lyrics – ‘Since you’re gone ain’t nobody else gonna save me’ is a tortured cry from the scene of a messy breakup. This song is featured on the album Our Shadows Will Remain that was highly successful on its release in the UK in 2005.

Rami remains on stage for strong crowd favourites Honey And The Moon and Black Lexus. In between songs Joseph confesses to feeling nervous and relates some wisdom that Rickie Lee Jonesimparted when they both appeared at a recent Bowie tribute show – ‘When people come to a show they don’t come to love you, they want you to love them’.

Further requests are invited and a shout rises up for Redemption’s Son which is duly rewarded. If Joseph needs any validation at that point then he need look no further than the enraptured faces around the room – so I’d have to disagree with Rickie!

Walk On The Wild Side and a breakneck rendition of Heroin follow on, taken from Joseph’s 2014 recordings of Lou Reed/V.U. covers in remembrance of his late friend. The loosely psychedelic Pledge of Allegiance comes from his last album, the 2015 self-released Days Of Surrender.

There’s another audience request for All The Old Heroes and Joseph declares this would be a ‘sure-fire fail’ harking back to his earlier lyrical amnesia. Despite his doubts it’s a total success and one of the standout moments of the evening.

It’s finally time for In The Sun, perhaps Joseph’s best-loved and most widely-known song from its use in TV and movie soundtracks. Then, with the curfew already extended for his almost 2 hour set, the loops of Crying Like A Man play on as Joseph exits and waves goodbye to the crowd.


Joseph Arthur continues to raise his game as a performer, moving through tender ballads to aching guitar solos and pounding rock numbers. The sound wasn’t perfect, there was no formulated setlist, some lyrics were fluffed, but by the end we had been on an exhilarating and emotional rollercoaster ride of varied selections across Joseph’s prolific output. Like his beat poetry it was a kind of stream-of-consciousness show, as if we’d been allowed to tap into Joseph’s slightly chaotic persona for this short time. Willing to take risks and show his vulnerability “Expect the unexpected” could be the byword for Joseph’s shows. I’m already looking forward to the next one – I hope to see you there!

2016/04/22

2016-04-22 - Rubin Museum of Art, New York


On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

mercedes
purple rain
still life honey rose
out on a limb
in the sun
honey and the moon
travel as equals
vacancy
echo park
the man who sold the world
i miss the zoo
crying like a man
walk on the wild side
the ballad of boogie christ
all the old heroes


Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event. 
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email.


2016/04/21

2016-04-21 - Sellersville Theater, Sellersville





On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

purple rain
still life honey rose
vacancy
come back when you're poor
you keep hanging on
maybe you
ashes everywhere
the ballad of boogie christ
i miss the zoo
a smile that explodes
crying like a man
in the sun
walk on the wild side
i used to know how to walk on the water
mercedes
redemption's son
honey and the moon


Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event. 
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email.


Pics by Ruth Ann




2016/04/20

2016-04-20 - The Acoustic, Bridgeport




On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

still life honey rose
vacancy
pledge of allegiance
chicago
maybe you
in the sun
a smile that explodes
all the old heroes
the man who sold the world
you keep hanging on
heroin
walk on the wild side
out on a limb
crying like a man
ballad of boogie christ
honey & the moon


Recording :

FLAC files available here


  

2016/04/17

2016-04-17 - Borderline, London


On Stage :

Solo concert.
Rami Jaffee plays accordion (#) and keyboard (+) on some songs.


Setlist : 

the man who sold the world
mercedes
out on a limb #
i miss the zoo +
maybe you
travel as equals
you keep hanging on
devil's broom +
honey and the moon #
black lexus +
redemption's son +
walk on the wild side +
heroin +
pledge of allegiance
all the old heroes #
in the sun
crying like a man +

Thank you Helen for this setlist.


Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event. 
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email.


Poster :



2016/04/16

2016-04-16 - Le Trianon, Paris


On Stage :

Solo concert. Private event for Disquaire Day.


Setlist : 

mercedes
maybe you
walk on the wild side
a smile that explodes
travel as equals
in the sun
heroin


Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event. 
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email



Benjamin took the time to film 3 songs. Here they are:







2016/04/15

2016-04-15 - Fargo Vinyl Shop, Paris


On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

the man who sold the world (david bowie cover)
out on a limb
you keep hanging on
maybe you
pledge of allegiance
i miss the zoo
crying like a man


Recording :

The complete performance was filmed by ElephantBaci.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLl4yiQmhKjmp3TdKwBz6BrifdyFC0sMZ2


Review (in French) by RockerParis :

"Petit concert dans le Pop Up Store de Fargo (15 jours seulement) la veille du Disquaire Day, les disques en -édition limitée- sont déjà dans les bacs mais pas touche, on regarde juste avec les yeux. Joseph arrive à la cool et prépare son matos tranquillement pendant que le public commence à affluer, OUI FM est là pour retransmettre le concert en direct.

Après un petit échauffement c'est parti pour une reprise de David Bowie "The Man who sold the World" (ici en vidéo), peut être pour nous rappeler qu’une édition Picture disc sera en vente demain de cet album de Bowie, mais avec le dessin de la pochette allemande sorti à l'époque. Joseph s'énerve un peu parce que les pouffes qui travaillent pour la radio parlent pendant sa chanson ( voir vidéo), résultat des courses: la retransmission en direct est annulée. Autant vous dire que l'ambiance devient glaciale entre Joseph et ces bouffons de OUI FM, il ne se privera pas de se foutre d'eux entre chaque chanson, le public -lui- est hilare. Peu importe le concert suit son chemin et Joseph enchaine les titres de son répertoire pendant près d'une heure.

C'est quand même triste de voir le peu de considération pour les artistes de cette radio -dite- Rock qui vexée par la réaction, légitime, de Joseph décide que "Puisque c'est comme ça on annule tout".
Ça en dit long sur leur mentalité.

Le concert était excellent est c'est ça le plus important."

Pictures by Patrice Guino :









2016/04/08

Newsletter 2016-04

"Joseph Arthur is a long-term disrupter and a challenger of the norms. He is possibly the most talented musician of the last twenty years in the US."Huffington Post

Musician, painter and poet Joseph Arthur acquired a Steinway Vertegrand piano from the early 1900's, moved it into his Red Hook, Brooklyn studio and saved it from the storm (Sandy, propped on cinderblocks, while the neighborhood flooded). He learned some of its history: the piano had been a part of the same family for a century, somewhere in Connecticut. Written entirely on that piano, The Family (June 3 / True North Records for North America, Real World Records for ROW) is mostly a work of fiction and a meditation on the idea of family.

"Nothing in this album comes from judgment," explains Joseph. "These are stories being told from different voices and mysterious times, which hopefully resonate with all the families everywhere." (Read Joseph's full notes about The Family here.)

Produced, recorded and performed by Joseph, The Family was mixed and sequenced by Tchad Blake, who has collaborated with Arthur on some of his mostly well-known work, including "Honey and the Moon" and "In the Sun" (covered by Michael Stipe and Peter Gabriel).


PREORDER "THE FAMILY" HERE



Credits: Engineered by Joseph Arthur, Merritt Jacob, Sheldon Gomberg.
Recorded almost entirely at Rebel Country Studio in Brooklyn.
Drums recorded at the Carriage House in LA.
All vocals, drums, drum programming, pianos, guitars and synths
By Joseph Arthur
Mixed by Tchad Blake at Full Mongrel, Wales
Produced by Joseph Arthur
Mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine

Tracklisting: The Family, Sister Dawn, With Your Life, They Called Him Lightning, When I Look At You, Wishing Well, Machines of War, Ethel Was Born, You Wear Me Out, Hold On Jerry, You Keep Hanging On, The Flag, Daddy, The War Machine
This painting is titled "You Keep Hanging On". Limited edition prints and the original painting is available in the online shop!

Apr 16, 2016
Le Trianon
Paris, France
TICKETS
Apr 17, 2016
Borderline
London, UK
TICKETS
Apr 20, 2016
The Acoustic
Bridgeport, CT
TICKETS
Apr 21, 2016
Sellersville Theater
Sellersville, PA
TICKETS
Apr 22, 2016
Rubin Museum of Art
New York, NY
TICKETS
May 16, 2016
Troubadour
Los Angeles, CA
TICKETS
May 17, 2016
Music Box
San Diego, CA
TICKETS
May 19, 2016
Triple Door
Seattle, WA
TICKETS
May 21, 2016
The Cobalt
Vancouver, BC
TICKETS
May 23, 2016
Alberta Rose Theatre
Portland, OR
TICKETS
Jun 5, 2016
Cafe Berlin
Madrid, Spain
TICKETS
Jun 6, 2016
Sidecar
Barcelona, Spain
TICKETS
Jun 8, 2016
Knust
Hamburg, Germany
TICKETS
Jun 9, 2016
Gruner Salon
Berlin, Germany
TICKETS
Jun 10, 2016
Strom
Munich, Germany
TICKETS
Jun 11, 2016
Luxor
Koln, Germany
TICKETS
Jun 13, 2016
De Vondelkerk
Amsterdam, Netherlands
TICKETS
Jun 14, 2016
Bourla
Antwerp, Belgium
TICKETS
Jun 16, 2016
Exil
Zurich, Switzerland
TICKETS





Visit Joseph's Website

2016/04/01

2016-04-01 - The Music Of David Bowie Benefit Concert, Radio City Music Hall, New York




On Stage :

Solo performance at the second night of a series of two David Bowie Tribute concerts.

In the end of the song, Joseph wraps himself in a flag, on which is written "Fuck Trump".



Setlist : 

The Man Who Sold The World


Recording :






Poster :