NASA, Anthony Kiedis, Black Keys
(See our main New American Music Union review here.)
We participated in two press conferences held during the weekend at the New American Music Union festival. Here are some of the more interesting bits from those. Attendees included Anthony Kiedis, Gnarls Barkley, Black Keys, Spoon, NASA, and Tiny Masters of Today.
Q: Why do you think you were asked to curate the festival?
Anthony Kiedis: I guess because Dave Matthews wasn't available? I'm joking, I'm joking. I guess because we've been around a long time as a band, we've toured, and left a few tender moments behind. Stick around long enough, people ask you to do weird shit.
Q: How did you go about choosing the lineup?
Anthony Kiedis: I just spent some time meditating on music that I love, music that makes me feel alive. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it might be a little bit more dynamic and compelling to get really unheard-of people with really heard-of people. So it just started with some people I was madly in love with musically, and started filling in from there.
It was kind of hard because a lot of the music I love were elsewhere - getting married, having children, playing shows in foreign countries, out of business for the summer - so you really have to stay flexible and open to maybe learning something new.
Anthony Kiedis with Gnarls Barkley
Q: To Gnarls Barkley, any clues as to what costumes you'll be wearing today?
Danger Mouse: We don't know yet, we just show up. But we're gonna match.
Anthony Kiedis: I think they're going to be wearing the Tiny Masters of Today - the actual humans.
Q: How did you decide to add Tiny Masters of Today to the bill?
Anthony Kiedis: They excited me. I have these friends in L.A. that are age 7 to 14 called the Jack Bambis, and they write really great songs, and they broke up. So, I started seeing if there were any other bands of that nature that were actually good, and lo and behold, there's an east coast version of the Jack Bambis, and their stuff is cool.
Tiny Masters of Today
Q: This is a huge event for the city of Pittsburgh. What do you think about the event taking place in this city?
Anthony Kiedis: I like Pittsburgh, I always have. I don't think people really know about Pittsburgh. It's under that invisible cloak, as far as the consciousness of the rest of America. I always liked coming here on tour since I was playing in the '80s. We played a place called Graffiti. You've got rivers, you've got mountains, so it's a nice place. I like the fact that it's in the streets of a city. That kind of separates it from being a field or someplace in the middle of nowhere. It gives it a little character. And you've got the Andy Warhol Museum, which is a total gem of a museum that I could spend days in.
Dan Auerbach (Black Keys): We started in the Midwest, we still live in Akron. It feels nice to have a festival in the Midwest. There's always these big festivals on the shores and overseas, but this comes back sort of home. It's a nice thing.
Britt Daniel (Spoon): I like that's in a city.
Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley): Yeah, me too.
Britt Daniel: A lot of music festivals are way out somewhere, and you're just stuck there. But there's stuff to do around here. It's a different vibe.
Q: To Tiny Masters of Today, what kind of venues do you usually play, and how does it feel to share the stage with these bands?
Ivan: We just got back from Lollapalooza last week, which was pretty fun, and then we played a show in New York on Wednesday. It's pretty awesome to play on the stage with all these people.
Anthony Kiedis: I thought it was amazing how beautiful the audience treated Tiny Masters. I've been to other festivals and other shows of my own where, a young band that isn't that well-known gets kind of mistreated by an audience, because often an audience comes for one of the marquee names on a bill. But all of the people there were so into what they were doing and they showed them love and appreciation. I thought that was a very cool thing.
Q: In future years, would you like to see the festival remain small, or would you like to see it reach a grander scale?
Anthony Kiedis: Not necessarily a grander scale. Lollapalooza - no disrespect, because that's a really fun festival, but we're not trying to be that. We're not trying to put any concrete parameters on what it's supposed to be, but just staying open minded, so that it's not just another festival, but somehow has its own personality and its own strange amalgamation of artists that are attracted to it and will play on it. I think it could be a little bit bigger than what it is today, because 10,000 tickets sold out kind of fast. There's room for it to be bigger, but it doesn't have to be huge.
Q: Anthony, yesterday you said if the opportunity presented itself you'd consider joining one of the bands on stage...
Cee-Lo (muttering under his breath about the reporter): She's hot.
Anthony Kiedis: Whoa, the mic is on! That's a President Bush moment. Um, if the opportunity presents itself, I'm so ill-prepared, but I'm tempted to accept any proposals that come my way.
Other behind the scenes tidbits to mention from the weekend:
Some guy offered me $200 for my press pass on Saturday. I told him it was worthless, in terms of getting backstage, but he did not believe me. I did not sell, as I would not have wanted to be there when he realized he just threw away a lot of money for nothing.
Pittsburgh's idiot mayor Luke Ravenstahl (below, seated) was on hand to help judge the college band competition. I felt like the paparazzi as I tried to sneak a photo of him, around the large men who were surrounding him and blocking the view of onlookers.