Tuesday June 26th 2012, 5:43 pm
Interviewin’: Brent Rademaker of Beachwood Sparks
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

It’s been eleven years since we’ve been able to say there’s a brand new Beachwood Sparks LP in the bins, and nearly four years since we last saw the band onstage – their L.A. reunion show at the Echoplex in late August 2008 was one of that year’s highlights for When You Awake’s very own Bryan Thomas, who has been a fan and friend to the band since practically the beginning of their existence, going back a dozen or more years. In this recent e-mail conversation he catches up with bassist and songwriter/singer Brent Rademaker (B-Rad if you’re into the whole brevity thing, man).

Monday April 16th 2012, 8:06 am
Interviewin’ With The Filthy Six’s Nick Etwell
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

Nick Etwell

Nick Etwell is a man of many talents. He can speak Swedish, has a mean sense of style, taught Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett to play piano, and is currently celebrating the release of his latest record, The Filthy Six‘s The Fox (out today via Acid Jazz). I had the chance to speak with him before watching a bunch of bearded Scandinavian men throw each other around at the Roundhouse in Camden. Here’s what he had to say.

Thursday February 23rd 2012, 5:52 pm
Interviewin’: Paul Lacques of I See Hawks In L.A.
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

This Friday, February 24th, I See Hawks In L.A. will be headlining McCabe’s in Santa Monica. It will be the first of several concerts celebrating the release of their brand new mostly-acoustic album, New Kind Of Lonely, which finds the band in a wistful, contemplative mood. We caught up this week with the Hawks’ multi-talented guitarist and co-songwriter Paul Lacques via email to ask him about the new album and a few other bits of Hawksian ephemera.

New Kind Of Lonely, featuring cover calligraphy by Henry Diltz!

When You Awake: I wanted to start off by asking you about the new album, of course, which is a mostly all-acoustic collection of songs, the first one you’ve released in your long history as a band. Was there a particular reason for doing it now?

Paul: Several of our earlier recordings started off acoustic, but we could never resist the lure of the pedal steel and Telecaster.  This time we took a vow of no electricity, and managed to go cold turkey.  Scary at first, then quite rewarding. (Continue reading after the jump)


Monday September 26th 2011, 4:53 am
Interviewin’ With Marcus Foster
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

A couple of months back we had the chance to sit down with Marcus Foster and chat about his life on Communion Records, his experiences with touring America and the whole art vs. music dilemma (he did graduate from the Royal College of Art and has shown his work at London’s Saatchi Gallery…impressive, no?). Since then, he’s signed with Polydor Records, played just about every worthwhile festival that England has to offer and recently released a brand new video featuring the one and only Kristen Stewart. Not bad, Marcus. Not bad. His first full length record, Nameless Path, is out today and if you happen to be in London, you can catch Foster performing an in-store at Rough Trade East at 1 pm in honor of the occasion.  Check out our interview with him, conducted on a very noisy patio at the Hoxton Bar + Kitchen before his single release show, after the jump.

YouTube Preview ImageMarcus Foster- I Was Broken


Monday August 30th 2010, 1:38 pm
Interviewin’: Ronee Blakley on Robert Altman’s Nashville and More
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

On Friday, we had the chance to speak with Ronee Blakley at her birthday party, which included a screening of Robert Altman’s 1975 film Nashville. Ronee might still be best known for her Oscar-nominated performance as country superstar Barbara Jean in Nashville, but that’s just one of the many highlights in her storied career. She released two albums in the 70s: her first was the folk-rock album Ronee Blakley, which debuted on Elektra Records in 1972, and her second, Welcome, was released on Warner Bros. in 1975.

During that same decade, she performed with artists such as Bob Dylan  (see photo above of Dylan and Blakley backstage at The Roxy in 1976) and Hoyt Axton, among others, and dueted with Dylan on his epic “Hurricane” from the Desire album. She also toured with Dylan and other performers on the Rolling Thunder Revue, and appeared as “Mrs. Bob Dylan” in Dylan’s 1977 film Renaldo and Clara, performing her song “Need A New Sun Rising.”

During the 1976 presidential campaign, she performed at rallies and speeches by Jerry Brown and in 1984 she performed, with Kris Kristofferson, at the final Los Angeles rally of presidential candidate Walter Mondale. She’s also starred in several movies, made guest appearances on popular TV shows and produced, wrote, starred in, and directed her own feature music docudrama, I Played It For You which debuted at the Venice Film Festival in 1985. She continues to record new material and release new albums to this day. Check out our interview with her after the jump.

Saturday August 21st 2010, 3:17 pm
Interviewin’: Brian Whelan of Wheelhouse
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

photo by Markus Cuff

I caught up with Brian Whelan, founder of a great new LA band, Wheelhouse, via email during a break from prepping for his appearance at this weekend’s Sunset Junction Festival. Brian is striking out on his own with Wheelhouse after having previously been the bass player in Merge Records band The Broken West and also performing as an accomplished sideman with numerous L.A. musicians. His versatile, skillful guitar and bass prowess could previously be witnessed alongside contemporary country rock heroes like Mike Stinson, Randy Weeks and the incredible Tony Gilkyson. Brian also played a number of gigs with L.A. singer-songwriter Kip Boardman, in a band that also featured Wheelhouse bassist Rob Douglas (who has also played quite a bit with Stinson, Weeks, Gilkyson and other artists, including Charlie Louvin) and drummer Derrick Brown. Both Douglas and Brown were in the Vapor Records band Everest for a while. Whelan has moved over to guitar and within the past few months, and in less than a dozen gigs with his new band, he’s shown that he’s a new force on the scene, a true West Coast renaissance man and a vibrant songwriter with a lot of musical interests and influences, including straight-up rock ‘n’ roll, pub rock and outlaw country. Check out the interview, in which we chat about his time in The Broken West, a recent stint appearing on “Mad Men” and more after the jump.


Friday August 14th 2009, 10:20 am
Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes is a Patient Man
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

Robin Pecknold

Guest Contributor Cheree Franco chats with Robin Pecknold about his favorite night-time music, the meaning behind his song “Blue Ridge Mountains” and whether he’s an extrovert or an introvert:

At the Newport Folk Fest I managed to catch up with Robin Pecknold, frontman of Fleet Foxes, for some backstage banter. Except that as soon as I found myself sitting cross-legged on the grass, facing the person behind the ethereal songs that got me through last winter, I knew I wasn’t quite prepared to conduct a professional interview. I blame it on lack of sustenance (did I really expect a bagel to last upwards of 12 hours?) and dually, the sun. Check out the interview, in all it’s glory, after the jump.

Thursday May 21st 2009, 12:21 pm
Justin Townes Earle: The When You Awake Interview
Filed under: Interviewin' | Posted by:

Interview by Sinden Lee. Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins.


Justin Townes Earle.  Being the natural skeptic and usual hater of most things, I was fully prepared to sneer and silently judge this musical offspring of a very remarkable and renowned country singer (I’ve made a clipped choice not to mention his father’s name in this piece.)  While it’s an honor to be compared to his Daddy, I’m certain JTE is over the comparison and name-dropping.  And JTE is due his own respect as he’s earned his right with me to stand alone. The very thought of a kid of some famous musician tinkering with notes makes me bristle—Lennon, Dylan—don’t know, don’t care.  This one’s the exception.

I got my grubby paws on his two solo albums, The Good Life and Midnight At The Movies.  I say solo, because he also fronted two bands:  The Swindlers and The Distributors before venturing out onto his own simply as Justin Townes Earle.  What bludgeoned my auditory senses were the incredible depth and his capacity to tell a story as if he were an old man.  The guy is only 27 years old!  The sound is stripped-down, no bullshit resplendence.  Then I became an all-out YouTube lurker, checking out his live performances.  He’s tall, rail-thin but has a commanding presence and owns the mike and stage like a seasoned pro.  Accompanied by his multi-finger pickin’ sidekick Cory Younts, who plays a mean mandolin,  Earle’s a capella delivery is an Ali-like smooth punch right into your gut.  It’s simple and restrained, but the sound is excessively absolute.

I had the great pleasure of getting Earle on the phone for a quick interview.  He was on his tour bus riding through downtown Seattle.  The phone connection sucked, but he was ever so patient and gracious.  Our conversation went from the sublime to the rather silly:

When You Awake:  You pay tribute to the great American folk hero in your song “They Killed John Henry.”  What is it about his legend and persona do you identify with?

Justin Townes Earle:  I think that it all relates to my grandfather.  He told better stories than anyone.  One was the story of John Henry.  The other was Joe Hill.  Those were big ones.  He spoke about these men that were bigger than life.  And that’s what Papa was.  He could solve everything and he really was untouchable.  He died a lot earlier that I thought he should.  Papa was just like those guys: one mythic and one very real.

Continue reading the interview after the jump….