Posts Tagged ‘Papillon’

Anna Bulbrook bends over backwards, with a little help from Adrian Rodriguez, to give Airborne fans a great show. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

Anna Bulbrook bends over backwards, with a little help from Adrian Rodriguez, to give Airborne fans a great show. Photo by Ryan Tuttle.

By Glen

As winter gives way to spring, there is still nary a peep out of Camp Airborne Toxic Event. But six weeks between Toxicity updates seems like just about enough, so let’s see what we can scrounge up.

Not So Epic

There actually is one legit piece of Airborne news – or non-news, as it were. A recent visit to the website of Epic Records led to the discovery that The Airborne Toxic Event is no longer anywhere to be found on the website. Not only are they absent from Epic’s artist listing, but a search for the band’s name yields zero results anywhere on the site.

One can only conclude that, if and when The Airborne Toxic Event releases another record, it will not be under the Epic banner. After the wildly popular, self-released Songs of God and Whiskey, not to mention the smash success of their independently released debut album, one wonders whether the band would be better off just going it alone next time around. Time will tell.

Wrong is Right

In our last Toxicity, way back when we were still munching on Valentine’s candy, we shared a couple live TATE videos aired on PromoWest Live. An alert reader uncovered the fact that there was another TATE video hiding away in their archives. Jump to 14:25 for “Wrong.”


Dope Machines

Mikel Jollett has a love/hate relationship with mobile devices. On the ‘pro’ side, jumping into the crowd and stealing someone’s phone for a smirking selfie has become a staple of “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” And he’s intrigued enough by the omnipresent technology to have based an entire album around it.

On the other hand, he has made it known in no uncertain terms that he would prefer the audience to keep the damn things in their pockets and experience the performance through their eyeballs rather than through a tiny rectangular screen. And he has a point. In my early days of TATE gigdom, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from trying to capture every moment for posterity, even though 98% of my photos turned out to be complete and utter crap. Lately, I’ve become more disciplined about it. I usually pre-select a couple of songs in which I’ll snap a few photos to use in my TIN reviews, and apart from that I try to leave it alone.

Vocativ recently printed a thought provoking piece considering both sides of this issue. They note that some artists are taking matters into their own hands to force their fans to live in the moment.

Over and over, artists cite the disconnect phones create. “It seems stupid to have something happening in front of you and look at it on a screen that’s smaller than the size of a cigarette packet,” the Guardian quoted Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker as saying. “If anything, it undermines the experience because it seemed like a really good moment, and now I can see it were crap. It’s like wedding videos.”

In April of 2013, art-rock trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs made headlines when they posted a flyer at a Webster Hall show that asked fans, “Please do not watch the show through a screen on your smart device/camera. Put that shit away as a courtesy to the person behind you and to Nick, Karen and Brian.”

According to Spin, Karen O reiterated the message when, after the second song, she told fans to snap away for the next couple of minutes, then “put those motherfuckers away.” The crowd mostly complied.

Other artists demand no phone use, and include threat of removal if the request isn’t heeded. That was the case on a recent Prince tour, when ticket buyers were reportedly warned by venues in Australia and New Zealand in advance via email that “The use of mobile phones will not be permitted during the show,” according to the Mercury News. “Any person using a mobile phone or camera/video device will be identified by security and asked to leave the venue immediately.”

The Eagles banned cellphones during a 2014 tour, employing security guards to shine flashlights at offenders, issue warnings, and then throw them out. Don Henley recently applauded Mumford & Sons decision to follow suit, saying “the madness, the rudeness, the thoughtlessness… must stop. Constantly looking at the world through a viewfinder is not seeing. Listening to live music while recording on a ‘smartphone’ (or texting every 5 seconds) is not hearing. Experiencing life second-hand is not living. Be here now.”

Some artists simply deal with the nuisance on a case-by-case basis. Neil Young angrily doused two women with water in 2012 because they wouldn’t quit texting during a show even after he gave them the stink eye. In April of 2014, Peter Frampton reportedly scolded two fans in Carmel, Indiana, who arrived late to front-row seats, having missed or ignoring the warning prior to the concert beginning that flash photography wasn’t allowed. They took loads of pictures; Frampton asked them to stop. When they didn’t, he asked them to let him see the pictures, and when the fan handed Frampton his phone, he flung it across stage.

On the other end of the spectrum are these examples:

Brad Paisley encourages fan cellphones at his shows, going into the audience to sing into them, or take selfies that show up on big screens, telling Rolling Stone, “I want to see it. Get a good one. Get good audio if you can. Your videos [are] a memory, something you can have, and what an amazing experience. Yeah, you see people looking at the concert through their phone. But that’s what they want to do. And what YouTube video of a concert ever made you not go?”

Taylor Swift said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2014 that the use of cellphones, and therefore the widely available recordings of her shows, setlists and secret guests every night, was actually the impetus for changing things up every night. “In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online,” she wrote.

“To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation’s artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.”

What’s your take? Would you like to see The Airborne Toxic Event put some regulations in place, or just leave it up to the fans to experience the show as they see fit?

Toxic Gold to the Max!

If you’re currently experiencing Airborne Toxic Withdrawal (and let’s face it: if you’re reading Toxicity during the dark days of the band’s hiatus, it’s safe to assume you are), Murray Jay Siskind has the cure for what ails you. The YouTuber has become a must-follow for Airborne fans, unearthing one rare gem after another.

A couple years ago we reviewed an Airborne acoustic recording from Montreal that is only available for purchase from iTunes Canada. Thanks to MJS, those of you outside our fair country can now lay ears on it. While you listen, enjoy a bevy of TATE trivia and photos. (And watch for the shout out to TIN!)

For years I’ve been beating the drum for the full length concert video Live from Koko, which features, among other things, the world premiere performance of “All I Ever Wanted.” Now, courtesy of MJS, here’s the only professional recording of the ultra rare “Echo Park.”

And another oldie-but-goodie – one that I’m still surprised didn’t make the cut for Songs of God and Whiskey: “Days of Wine and Poses.”

Last but not least, here’s a double shot of “Papillon” and “Gasoline” from Paris, circa 2009.

GlenGlen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

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Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event Photo by TATE fan Jenn, Vancouver, BC, Jan. 25, 2014

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event
Photo by TATE fan Jenn, Vancouver, BC, Jan. 25, 2014

By Glen

Rock ‘n’ roll never sleeps… but rock ‘n’ roll bloggers do (occasionally).

It’s March Break here in beautiful BC, and with nine precious days off of work, I figure it’s high time I tear myself away from my iPad for a change and get reacquainted with my family. So, barring any bombshell news from The Airborne Toxic Event that distracts me from my eagerly anticipated life of laziness, I’ve got nothin’ for ya this week. Sorry.

But I know that hungry TATE fans demand to be fed. Your steady diet of TATE minutiae will return next week, I promise. In the meantime, just in case you need a morsel, I’ll resort to that time tested blogging tactic: the recap post.

It seems that the most popular posts on This Is Nowhere (and certainly my favorite ones to write) are those that drill down into a particular song. Never does the tag line “a little less profound” seem more apt than when I’m attempting to get beneath the surface of one of Mikel Jollett’s lyrical masterpieces and put into words what it means to me. But it sure is fun to try.

So, ICYMI, here’s a listing of song analysis posts written over the past nine months. If you haven’t already perused them, I’d be honored if you’d check them out. There are many more to come. If you’ve got a song you’d like to see covered in the future, please leave your suggestion in the comments below!

Mythology Around Midnight (“Sometime Around Midnight”)
All At Once, I’m Out of Control (“All At Once”)
The Curious Case of The Kids Are Ready to Die (“The Kids Are Ready to Die”)
Six of One, Half a Dozen of Something Else (“Half of Something Else”)
The Hitchhiking Game (“All I Ever Wanted”)
If You Die Before I Die (“The Graveyard Near the House”)
Every Jot and Tittle: How a Comma and a Period Changed Timeless (“Timeless”)
The Ghosts of Failure (“Bride and Groom”)

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic Event Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event Photo by Glen, Jan. 25, 2014, Vancouver, BC

Mikel Jollett of The Airborne Toxic Event
Photo by Glen, Jan. 25, 2014, Vancouver, BC

By Glen

This city is haunted by the ghosts of failure, I am one…

The apparitions Mikel Jollett references in “Bride and Groom” are familiar to fans of The Airborne Toxic Event, for this is hardly the first time they have haunted one of the band’s songs. Indeed, the ghosts of failure can be found lurking in the shadows of much of TATE’s work, not least of all their first album.

They are present in “Wishing Well,” as the narrator muses that it would be easier to catch the first train out of town than to reassemble the pieces of his broken life. They stalk the singer in “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” and “Sometime Around Midnight,” when he finds himself unwilling or unable to let go of a relationship that is clearly over. They drive him to seek out “Something New” with which to calm his ragged nerves. And they are personified in “Missy,” a song that Mikel frequently introduces as being about a fuck-up; when you don’t know what to do with your life, so you just travel around and make music with your friends.

The specters are most plainly visible, though, in “Papillon.” Here there is no justification, no rationalization, no attempt at a solution. Nothing more than the stark realization and full acceptance of this one fact: “I’m such a mess.” And getting messier by the day, it would seem.

If the pen is a sword, Mikel’s has only gotten sharper with each successive album. It’s not just that his technical songwriting skills have grown through the years, though they have. It’s also that his perspective has widened, enlarged by another decade or so of life experiences.

There are clear themes running through The Airborne Toxic Event’s music; threads that connect their most recent work to their earlier efforts. Death; love; loss. And of course, those pesky ghosts of failure.

“Bride and Groom” picks up that thread begun in “Papillon,” and demonstrates just how far Mikel has come, both as a songwriter and as a person. What once was a mess has now become a stunning ruin. The failure remains real and present, but it’s been infused with hope and purpose. Dreams have gone unfulfilled, but the journey has left something beautiful and valuable in its wake.

It’s a hard won maturity, and it could only have emerged from the crucible of trial. The trials Mikel faced, which led to the creation of the band, are well documented. The album that was birthed from those ashes is a flawless snapshot of that particular moment in time, when Mikel was in the midst of the fire, consumed by flames of confusion and panic and desperation and despair.

But with time has come wisdom, and an understanding that failure is as necessary as it is inevitable. It shapes who we are; every door that closes also opening up a new world of possibilities. True, this couple may never become the bride and groom they thought they’d be. But what will they become instead? What will emerge from the rubble of unrealized dreams?

The ghosts of failure are ever present, but they are not to be feared. If we listen carefully, they may even whisper in our ear, pointing out a new and better path into the future.

Glen, Fan of The Airborne Toxic Event Glen is the founder and editor of This Is Nowhere. He’s grateful for an understanding wife and kids who indulge his silly compulsion to chase a band all over the Pacific Northwest (and occasionally beyond) every time the opportunity arises.

Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event Photo by TATE fan Ryan Macchione

Steven Chen of The Airborne Toxic Event
Photo by TATE fan Ryan Macchione

By Christina

Ed. Note: This is the fifth in a six part series in which fans of The Airborne Toxic Event select their Top 5 musical moments of their favorite band member. Previous entries: Mikel Jollett’s Top 5 Vocals; Daren Taylor, the Ultimate Beat Keeper; Anna Bulbrook, Classically Trained Punk Rock Chick; Noah Harmon: Classical Rock God. Next week: Mikel’s Top 5 Lyrics.

Steven Chen (also known as The Chen or The Chenster), by all accounts, is probably the quietest of the Airborne bunch, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have presence on stage. This writer/journalist/musician started his musical career at the age of six when his parents forced him to learn the piano, so it made sense when Mikel asked Steven to join their band to play keys. But Steven insisted that he’d rather play guitar, and so with the final piece in place, The Airborne Toxic Event was formed.

Steven has always been a favorite of mine to watch onstage, so I was more than happy to contribute my Top 5 Steven “moments.”

5. The Steven “Hair Flicks”

Coined by my friend Stephanie, Steven’s “hair flicks” are probably his signature move. While Steven is usually reserved on stage, flashing brief smiles and head nods to the fans that call his name during the a show, he will come to the edge of the stage and lean out toward the crowd, head banging in time with Daren’s cymbal crashes.

I asked Steven once why he doesn’t interact more with the crowd, especially when they are trying to get his attention, and he said it “throws him off.” Ha! I don’t believe Steven could be so easily distracted!

4. Papillon

This song fell off the set list for most of the All At Once tour, so I was very pleased to see it resurrected for several shows this past year. That distinctive opening riff carries the entire track and drives the crowd into a frenzy. It often follows “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?” at the shows I’ve been to, and it just Doesn’t. Let. Up. One of my favorite songs live, in this video, there are a few good shots of Steven shredding.

3. Missy

The set closer for almost every live show the band has ever played, this song features The Chen on keyboard for most of the song, but he also bounces back to resume the guitar parts for the medleys and then back to the keyboard. I chose this particular video (it’s an entire set plus an interview, actually) because at the 44:58 mark, Steven’s mike is turned up too loud (or he’s too close), and you actually get to hear him sing! I personally think Steven should sing more often!

2. Gasoline – the “Guitar/Viola Off” with Anna

Coming up with my number 2 and 1 choices for favorite Steven moments was pretty tough. This is a fan favorite at any live show. Mikel pits Steven and his guitar against Anna and her viola, but the great thing is everyone wins! Some trivia: this song is where Mikel often refers to Steven as Steve McQueen.

See the 2:55 mark in this show from 2007:

And as a bonus (because I couldn’t pick between the two), see the 2:24 mark from this show in Vegas in 2012 (and at some shows you get to witness some tomfoolery from Mikel, too!):

1. Wishing Well

I remember the first time I was down on the barricade in front of Steven at a live show, mesmerized by his Ebow. His Ebow, not his elbow! At the time I had no idea what he was using to produce those sounds, and later a forum member finally shed some light on my query. It’s an electronic device held over the strings of an electric guitar to mimic the sound of a bow on strings by using the electromagnetic field the Ebow creates. When you hear those haunting notes coming from Steven’s guitar, you know you’re in for an emotional ride, and this is probably my favorite Steven moment during a show.

To stay up with all your Steven Chen news, please feel free to “like” my unofficial Steven Chen fan page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/airborne.steven.chen

Purchase the Best of Steven:

Papillon
Missy
Gasoline
Wishing Well

Christina: Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventChristina lives in Orange County, California and between her kids, her job, and school still manages to catch several Airborne shows a year. In addition to maintaining her Steven Chen fan page, Christina is also the administrator of the band’s forum on their official site: www.theairbornetoxicevent.com/forum.

By Jennifer The Airborne Toxic Event drum kit

In late 2008 my friend Lisa came over to update her iPod (she didn’t have a computer so she used mine). She said there was this amazing new band called The Airborne Toxic Event and I had to listen to them. The name of the band threw me off – I really thought they were another screaming toxic shit band and I had no interest at all. Lisa said I was missing out big time. I just bought the song she wanted – Sometime Around Midnight.

When I cleaned my apartment, I always listened to Lisa’s playlist – it was hard and fast. I was elbow deep in cat litter when this beautiful melody of a viola and a stand up bass caught me. I was going to go to the next song – this music was too beautiful to play while cleaning. But since I was in the middle of the changing cat litter I couldn’t reach my iPod. The more I listened, the more I fell in love. Cat litter was all done and I sat on the bathroom floor playing Midnight over and over and over again and bawling my brains out. How can a band with that name put out such amazing music? I was just beside myself.

When I finally got up off the bathroom floor, I went straight to my computer to buy the whole first album. All cleaning stopped and I sat on the couch listening to the entire album over and over. So many things went through my head. Had I ever done bad to someone like in Midnight? I know many had done so to me.

When Papillon came on I said out loud, “This is me and this is my pathetic fucking life!”

All dressed up, no place to run
No car, no girl, no pills, no fun
Nothing to do in this empty room
I gotta get my head together soon

Alone again, no plans, no friends
You come around at half past ten
You say “How are you holding up my friend?
Are you sitting around getting drunk again?”…

And I wish I had the guts to scream
You know, things aren’t always what they seem
When you walk away, I want to stay
Don’t leave me here to pace and pray

All these nights I burn, these hours I turn
You’d think that by now I’d learn
That you’re only what you pretend to be
I guess that was just lost on me

I can’t stand the way you look at me
In that dress
Oh Papillon, I might be all right, I guess
If I wasn’t such a mess

I’m such a mess
I’m such a mess
I’m such a mess

Holy shit was I a total mess – and this song said what I couldn’t. Finally someone understood and could relate!

A few months later Lisa got us tickets to the Airborne show at the Ogden for early spring. Then Mikel lost his voice and the show was cancelled. I was heartbroken… Then about 1 1/2 months later they came back and this time I was so sick I couldn’t even stand up. Lisa brought me a t-shirt and said it was the best show EVER!

A few weeks later, having listened to nothing besides TATE, I decided to write them. I told them how I had been sick and I was heartbroken that I missed them. I also told them how much their music was changing my life – it was a slow process but it was changing.

I sign all my emails with:

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, Life is about learning to dance in the rain.

I had no idea who I was writing to – I just wanted them all to know how much their music had literally touched my heart and started to help it heal.

The next morning I had an email from Mikel. He told me he was in Germany and had lost this voice again and that he shouldn’t bitch and complain. He said the last part of my email touched him and he thanked me!!!! MIKEL JOLLETT thanked ME!!!!!! He also sent me a t-shirt. We emailed back and forth about autoimmune disease and he said if there was anything they could do to help…..

A few months later I went to my first Airborne show. After the show I met Anna. The sweetest thing ever! There was a huge crowed around Mikel, so Lisa grabbed my hand and pushed her way through. I kept saying, “Stop – what am I going to say him?” Lisa got his attention and said “Hey Mikel – this is Jennifer – the one you have been emailing about autoimmune disease with for the last few months.” Mikel dropped everything to the floor and came over and gave me this huge bear hug and held on to me while he said, “I’m so glad you were well enough to be here tonight,” and kissed me on the cheek and winked at me. I could have died right there and then.

We went to the Boulder show the next night where Daren and I kept throwing hearts at one another. It was so sweet. He brought me his setlist and I was too frazzled to have anyone take a picture (but I got a bunch of those a few years later). Once again, Mikel came up to me and hugged me and someone took the worst picture of my life, Mikel with a goofy look on his face. He told me to stay immune-healthy and I wished him the same. Kisses on the cheeks and he was off to see other fans.

Those two shows made me fall in love with ALL of them! I have never been the same since. Just ask my mom – she thinks I have reverted to the 14-year-old screaming little girl I used to be. I am actually proud to be that screaming little girl again, but older and now wise enough to know not to faint when I see or meet anyone who I admire. Now I just wait till they are out of earshot and then scream like I’m 14 again!

536238_584219264925273_1401056734_n Jennifer lives in Colorado, which seems to be Airborne’s favorite place on earth, judging by the number of shows they get. Jen was injured in 2004 and is now an android due to the artificial disc in her back. She also comes along with a few different autoimmune diseases, to which Mikel can certainly relate.