2003/01/31

2003-01-31 - Martyr's, Chicago



On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

blue lips
birthday card
prison
in the sun
mercedes
bill wilson
honey and the moon
devil's broom
the real you
i donated myself to the mexican army
favorite girl
evidence
evil will
speed of light 


Recording :

The concert was officially recorded,  and sold on CDr after the show.




2003/01/25

2003-01-25 - KCRW Radio, Santa Monica, CA


On Stage :

Radio Session

Setlist :

honey and the moon
favorite girl
innocent world
you are the dark
september baby
in the sun


Recording :


2003/01/22

2003-01-22 - Fox Theatre, Boulder




On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

prison
birthday card
toxic angel
i donated myself to the mexican army
evidence
evil will
innocent world
straw dogs
in the sun
you are the dark
history


Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.




2003/01/20

INTERVIEW : 2003-01-20 Joseph Arthur’s Redemptive Songs (by Lucas Hanft)


Joseph Arthur was on a van traveling through the South of France. He was on his way to another club gig in another town where practically nobody would know his name or his music, but it didn’t seem to bother him.


“I think people who remain slightly under the radar are sort of the luckiest,” said Mr. Arthur via his cell phone. By this, he meant: “Artists who have a good-enough fan base to make a living, but never getting too huge, because ultimately that messes you up.

When he talked to Manhattan Music late last year, Mr. Arthur was on his second tour of Europe for the year, evangelizing his album Redemption’s Son . Then he returned to his native country-he hails from Akron, Ohio-to repeat the process. (He played the Knitting Factory on Jan. 10.) Such is the life of your average below-the-radar musician.

The thing is, Mr. Arthur is hardly an average musician: He’s an exceptional lyricist and a serious melodist-one of the few young songwriters out there who has a shot at being one of the greats.

And though Redemption’s Son (RealWorld) is not a masterpiece, it is one of the most worthy and listenable albums of 2002, as well as a testament to Mr. Arthur’s potential. The album crashes almost as much as it soars, but the results are always interesting. And often they are sublime.


Mr. Arthur has a talent for turning freakish human emotions into a kind of in-phase beauty. He’s the man behind the counter in Yeats’ “foul rag and bone shop of the heart,” dressing his dirty wares in elegant lyricism and sensuous pop arrangements. As he sings on “I Would Rather Hide,” a song that has an ethereal Brian Wilson–esque intro and a 70’s soft-rock sound: “I know that we’re all insane when there’s no one else around.”

Mr. Arthur isn’t exactly eager to discuss how he came by this knowledge. His Akron upbringing was off-limits during the interview, though he did recall a supposedly memorable moment in nursery school. “We were making masks, and I purposely set out to make a really freaky mask,” he said, without describing the finished product. “I didn’t understand what I was doing, but it was the same drive, trying to really expose something.”

After forcing himself to graduate high school, he headed north to play in a jazz band in Cleveland. At 18, he moved to Atlanta, where he said he worked odd jobs -pizza chef, door-to-door salesman, guitar-shop gofer-until his demo tape landed in Peter Gabriel’s hands in 1996. Mr. Gabriel and Lou Reed auditioned Mr. Arthur at his first solo gig at the Fez downtown, and that landed him on Mr. Gabriel’s label, RealWorld.


Mr. Arthur is an anomaly on the RealWorld roster, which is mainly devoted to practitioners of world music, such as Mr. Gabriel and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. And, not surprisingly, he admitted during the interview that he was unhappy with the way RealWorld had been promoting Redemption’s Son .

But getting a label berth enabled Mr. Arthur to get his foot in the door, even if he’s still trying to get into the Big Room. “I’m still at the place where I struggle to make a living, and I’d like to struggle less,” he said.

That said, much of Mr. Arthur’s work is about struggling and failing and coming clean about it. “Vulnerability is entertainment,” he said on his tour bus.

But when it comes to his own work, Mr. Arthur claimed that there’s another element in the mix. “My experience and my personality are the clothes the songs are wearing, but [the thoughts] are ultimately coming from a deeper place-from a spirit of the universe.”


That may sound trippier-than-thou, but listen to “Favorite Girl,” one of the album’s best songs. The track starts as a languorous guitar-and-piano kiss-off to a vain lover, with Mr. Arthur singing in the hushed tones of an addict well-acquainted with the power of his addiction. Then the chorus elevates the song. “I don’t know what I should do / I’ve been so happy being unhappy with you,” he sings as cellos gently rise and fall, later adding: “And if salvation only comes when you fall? / Oh lord, it’s so hard for me to believe / Oh lord, I’m still waiting for you to call.” Anyone who lives in this universe knows that there is always room for one more original song about sadomasochistic love affairs.

Of course, in the wrong hands, vulnerability and liberation can amount to Top 40 dreck. But Mr. Arthur’s nuanced lyrics are devoid of bombast, never whiny and always brutally frank.

His music, too, tends to be quiet, though it defies easy generalizations. The layered acoustic guitars and piano recall the music of Nick Drake and the early work of Leonard Cohen, who is clearly an influence. But Mr. Arthur also works with hip-hoppy drum loops and gauzy, electronic sounds with touches of grunge, synth-pop and emo-ish chamber pop. There are hummable melodies of different kinds, and everything is given the same texture and power by his voice-which ranges from searing falsetto to gravelly croon-and shimmering harmonies.

Mr. Arthur works best when he works simple, as he does on “You Are the Dark”, with its stripped-down-staircase melody plucked on an acoustic guitar and fretless bass, and its down-and-out lyrics: “I guess I’ll live up in my head / I’d call you up, but my phone is dead / And I need too much.”


You can’t blame Mr. Arthur for experimenting, but Redemption’s Son suffers from too much of it. There is a tendency to pile on the instruments and effects. Two of the best-written songs, the title track and “Honey and the Moon,” are nearly crushed by heavy-handed production.

But even the songs that fall short have a wounded beauty that captures his (and our) struggle to struggle less. Mr. Arthur doesn’t avert his eyes from the kind of fucked-up behavior that makes others blink-and cringe. And the retentive, introspective glances on Redemption’s Son make him worthy of a place on our radar.



2003/01/18

2003-01-18 - Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco




On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

bill wilson
prison
blue lips
you are the dark
straw dogs
i donated myself to the mexican army
evidence
evil will
birthday card
in the sun
speed of light
honey and the moon
the real you
tattoo
vacancy
you've been loved

Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.

Now this show is available for download on JA's website :





2003/01/17

2003-01-17 - Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Los Angeles


On Stage :

Solo performance


Setlist :

honey and the moon


Recording :








2003-01-17 - Crocodile Café, Seattle




On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

vacancy
you are the dark
devil's broom
birthday card
the real you
i donated myself to the mexican army
honey and the moon
space needle
speed of light
redemption's son
mercedes
innocent world
straw dogs
exhausted
evidence
evil will
september baby
wild horses (rolling stones cover)
in the sun


Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and available for download on JA's website




2003/01/16

INTERVIEW : 2003-01-16 Here Comes The Son (by Dave Di Martino)



Even though he was discovered by none other than Peter Gabriel and his major-label debut, Come To Where I'm From, was declared by Entertainment Weekly to be the best album of 2000, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur is still one of modern music's best-kept secrets. Which is a shame, for he is a true artiste. He also paints and sculpts (his artwork for his 1999 EP, Vacancy, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package), and he goes about making his music in much the same way: When playing his dazzling one-man shows, he spontaneously records loops of samples, layering them one of top of the other to create exquisite sound-sculptures on the spot.

Perhaps Arthur's profile will be elevated with his latest work of art, Redemption's Son, which showcases not only his stunning songwriting skills but also adds sweeping, cinematic touches that suggest an additional career in film scoring might be in his future. This modern-day renaissance man recently stopped by LAUNCH's studios to chat with executive editor Dave DiMartino about his music and his art, and it was a most interesting conversation that namechecked everyone from Hendrix and Zeppelin to Mariah Carey and Elton John to Nirvana to even Eddie Money. 

Here's how it went: 

LAUNCH: Tell me about your interests in visual arts. 

JOSEPH: Music and art are just both things I really love to do. Art, or visual art, is something that has no pressure on it, because I'm not really trying to get into any kind of galleries or anything like that. So it's nice that right now it's just for fun, and also for album covers and stuff like that, which is also fun. Music has got more pressure on it, because I am putting it out to the public more. But I love both of them and they help each other--like, if I get sick of making music or if I run out of ideas or something, I can put all that same energy into some visual thing. Then I forget about music, and then when I go back to music, it's like, fresh again, rather than me just beating myself over the head and making something that I don't think is good. 

LAUNCH: You've been called a "junk collector"--tell me about that.
JOSEPH: Well, when I'm walking around New York, there's a lot of things that people throw into the street that can be used for sculptures and stuff like that, and so that's one thing I love about living in New York. It's something that I'm trying to quit; it's almost like this weird addiction. My apartment got overwhelmed with things, and then I had to get a storage space, and then I filled my storage space up, and now my apartment is starting to get overwhelmed with things again.
LAUNCH: What sort of things?
JOSEPH: I make sculptures out of found objects and toys and paint. I make little cities--little crazy landscapes and stuff like that. I haven't made that many of them, but I would love to get a really large space in the city and be able to really go crazy with the visual side of things and really do large-scale paintings and large-scale, big crazy cities. 

LAUNCH: Has any of your stuff been used in music videos or anywhere? 

JOSEPH: There was that one Mariah Carey video that I did where she was in the movie theater. No, I'm just kidding. 

LAUNCH: Do you think your music is very commercial? 

JOSEPH: God, I don't know! It hasn't proven to be so far, but I think it could be--it depends. The music business now seems like it's gotten really, really, totally pop music. But I think [my music] could be [successful], if [the] music [business] completely changed. If we were in a different world, then it would be. But in this world, it's not. 

LAUNCH: Do you think critics get what you try to do? 

JOSEPH: I don't really feel that comfortable when I read about myself, because it's just so weird. So far I have seen flattering things and the people that they usually compare me to I like, so it doesn't bother me, but I'm sort of on this thing where I'm not looking at any publications, because it's just too much noise in your head. I think in some ways it's better to make things in a vacuum, because I just think that stuff can influence you. If they say something bad about you, it's painful, and if they say something good about you, you get a big head. It's seductive, though, when you walk by magazine shops and stuff, 'cause distractions are taking over the world--cell phones and computers and Internet magazines and stuff like that. 

LAUNCH: You know, you are part of it now. You sold out!
JOSEPH: Yes, I'm part of the corporate monster!
LAUNCH: Explain how you do the one-man-band thing where you sample yourself.
JOSEPH: Well, I use this long delay kind of sampler, long delays through my guitar, and make loops by hitting my guitar--like make it sound like drums, or by using my voice, I'll sing--and it will be like a loop, and that will become the backdrop for a song. Then I'll perform over that, and I have volume pedals with which I bring things in and out. And it's all live, and when I stop it, they disappear. It's only for the time for that show. So it's done every time in a unique way.
LAUNCH: So it's very spontaneous?
JOSEPH: Yeah, they sound different--it's sort of like you're reacting to the moment. It's not like you are pressing a tape or something. There's a danger element in it, which is what I think makes it compelling, 'cause people like to see that there's a possibility of it going horribly wrong.
LAUNCH: Have you had any kind of stylistic turns since you have been writing songs and making records?
JOSEPH: I think a lot. I think I've learned how to sing a lot more since I made my first record; being on the road and touring and singing night after night really has taught me how to sing more. I think that might be the biggest change. And also, it's still growing now, but I feel like I'm becoming more and more free with making records and more and more confident. I still feel like I have a lot more music to make; I still feel like I have a lot of songs left.
LAUNCH: Have you ever done anything artistic that when you were done with it, you were surprised you had it in you to do that?
JOSEPH: It might sound really egotistical--or maybe it's opposite of egotistical--but I definitely have been surprised by things before. It doesn't seem...I mean, like I think, "Wow, I could never come up with things like that." Usually the best things are sort of unconscious and come from a deeper place. So I don't know, but that answer is sort of like, "Ooh, I'm a channel. I'm a channel for higher things!" And it's not that. I think it's just a natural thing. I think it's just like dreaming. I'm sure everybody has the experience of having a dream that just seems insane or crazy, like they could never have come up with that or thought of that from an analytical standpoint. And I think creativity at its best is like that--it just comes from the same place that your dreams come from.
LAUNCH: Who did you listen to in your formative years?
JOSEPH: I listened to a lot of Jimi Hendrix. That was like a huge influence on me. That was like the first music that was real that I totally fell in love with. My sister was a big Bob Dylan nut and she forced that on me, and I was like, "I don't get it," but then I started getting into the lyrics and stuff like that and then I really fell in love with him. Led Zeppelin...I was in this band I was in the 8th grade and I played bass and I was in a band with these seniors, like older kids with long hippy hair who smoked pot and were totally cool and listened to Led Zeppelin and stuff like that, so Led Zeppelin was huge. That was the first time I smoked pot and listened to Led Zeppelin, and I was like, "My God!" I felt the power of music. I was just like, "Holy sh-t!" And then they put on Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" and stuff, and I was like, "Yeah, now I really understand what they are saying in this song."
LAUNCH: Tell me about the period in your life right before you met Peter Gabriel and got signed.
JOSEPH: I was working at a guitar shop called Clark's Music in Atlanta, Georgia, selling Fenders and Gibsons and strings and picks. And basically just not enjoying myself enough because I was sort of losing my mind. Working in a music shop is hard, because people come in and play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" over and over again.
LAUNCH: So what triggered what you're doing today?
JOSEPH: I saw a Hendrix video, which is really strange. It was at that friend's house who was a senior with long hippy hair--he had Jimmy Page hair and his face was like an old man's face. But just all that stuff...I don't know, that's just what I wanted to do, and it never really stopped--it evolved. Then I just wanted to be a bass player, and then since then it evolved: I started playing guitar, and then songwriting became more of my focus. I tried to get really good at bass but I just didn't...you know, I love jazz music, but it's just not the music that I always listen to.
LAUNCH: So where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
JOSEPH: Well, I hope my career evolves sort of like Elton John's has. I want to do things for The Lion King and stuff.
LAUNCH: Seriously, now...
JOSEPH: Let's see...I kind of look to Eddie Money, like I want a lot of success and then I want to fall off the face of the earth. No, I'm just kidding. Let's see...20 years from now...hold on, I've got to think. I'd like to I hope I'm still making music. I'd like to be involved more in painting too, and get a space where I can really explore that in a free way, because right now my apartment is so small, I can't really paint. I need a lot of space where you could put big canvases up and go all Jackson Pollack on somebody. That would be really fun.



INTERVIEW : 2003-01-16 Arthur and the old school (by Dave Kirby)




For all his detailed and lyrical descents into uncertainty, hopelessness and bitter desolation, there’s still little doubt that Joseph Arthur dreams large and in color. 

After a three-month run of success in the European market, which has embraced his meticulous hymns to loss and skepticism, Arthur’s latest CD, Redemption’s Son, finally hit stateside store shelves last November to a flurry of accolades and hyperbole that’s becoming routine for the NYC-based songwriter. The CD follows the heavy critical acclaim that rolled in after his 2000 breakthrough, Come to Where I’m From, a broadly drawn collection of damaged lives and pleas for renewal that wound up on top 10 lists from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly to CMJ.
The Akron, Ohio, native, who spent years woodshedding in Georgia before relocating to New York, says that he managed to stay focused despite all the attention.

"I’m writing and recording more or less all the time, so even while all that was happening I was already working on new material," Arthur says. "I had piles of material left over, so I put out four EPs after Come to Where I’m From (Junkyard Hearts I-IV, available as imports), and I had another pile of material when it came time to work on Redemption’s Son. 

"I guess I just come from that old school, where you’d write something and then get it out. I just don’t understand this thing of waiting two to three years between albums. I’d put something out every nine months if I could.
"For me, it’s kind of rejecting whatever I just did. Not rejecting it completely–if it’s a good song, I like to play it and it stays fresh for me. But I like to get these songs down as a way to work through where I’m at in a particular period of time, then move on. It can drive me nuts when it takes a long time to get them out and let them be heard, because I’m already in a different place and writing different songs."

Like the last CD, Redemption’s Son is a production tour-de-force. Arthur’s songs, first- and second-person treatises on capitulation and faithlessness ("You Could Be in Jail," "Nation of Slaves"), unresolved childhood resentment ("Redemption’s Son"), and emotional exile ("Termite Song") represent the kind of material that carries a dangerously substantial gravitas all its own; yet Arthur keeps the vibe afloat with effortless melodies and richly detailed arrangements brimming with shimmering guitar phrases, multi-tracked vocal harmonies, and sheets of mellotron and synth washes.
He dutifully credits veteran producer Tchad Blake (Paul McCartney, Los Lobos) with trimming his excesses, pulling a staggering amount of material and tracks into a single, purposeful statement. Blake’s deft hand at turning heavy productions into buoyant, cogent vignettes is evident throughout the release, although Arthur says it’s an indirect influence. 

"Most of it had been recorded before we got Tchad in there, but it was a lot of material to go through," he says. "Some of the songs had 60 tracks to them. You can just keep going and going and going, trying to see how far you can take something. Tchad sort of reintroduced me to reality, and, yeah, you can really hear his touch throughout the record. I think he lent the whole project a kind of cohesiveness that it didn’t have before–I recorded it over a period of two years, in a lot of different places, and he sort of made it all into a single statement."

Arthur has managed a perspective on his success... or relative success, anyway. To an extent, he’s even somewhat suspicious of it. He accepts the critical accolades for his deft alchemy of lyrical substance and melodic facility, and he’ll shrug off references that reviewers have found in his singing and arrangements ranging from Nick Cave to Beck to Richard Ashcroft to Nick Drake. Yet he reserves some skepticism about what it all really means.

"We worship success in this culture, not so much artistic achievement," Arthur says. "They can give Madonna rewards for being ‘successful’ and selling millions of records without ever mentioning whether or not her art is worthwhile. To me, the song is important. And lyrics are important–people don’t seem to pay that much attention to lyrics anymore. This is the era of the blockbuster.
"The songs are my focus. Everything else is secondary."

And how, exactly, does a songwriter keep himself alive and supported in these days of barren, preprogrammed radio and short attention spans?

"I don’t know," he says. "I’m still trying to figure that out."

(http://www.boulderweekly.com)

2003-01-16 - Troubadour, Los Angeles



On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

vacancy
birthday card
innocent world
straw dogs
i donated myself to the mexican army
september baby
you are the dark
the real you
mercedes
crying like a man
exhausted
history
prison
redemption's son
speed of light 


Recording :

This concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.




2003/01/10

2003-01-10 - Knitting Factory, New York



On Stage :

Solo concert


Setlist : 

vacancy
birthday card
innocent world
straw dogs
mercedes
you are the dark
the real you 


Recording :

This concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.





Photos of this show by Scott Wynn :