John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds
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John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds

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DC Comics's Vertigo imprint threw a rockin' good book party for novelist Rebecca Donner's first graphic novel Burnout (with art by Inaki Miranda) at the Parkside Lounge on New York's Lower East Side. Donner even joined the band, John Frazier and The 8 Year Olds, on stage. Pictured (l. to r.) are Veronica Olvera (on drums), Frazier, Donner and Pinky Weitzman.

see original with photo: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6569170.html - Publisher's Weekly


John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds - Boogieman (Independently released CD, Progressive pop/rock)
We had to spin this CD over and over and over before we began to make some conclusions about it. Not that the music sounds all that drastically different from other bands...but somehow the approach just doesn't seem to fit in with the average twenty-first century rock band. John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds play inspired melodic pop/rock with a difference. The first thing that struck us about this album was the guitar. Frazier's loose jerky fuzzy guitar sound recalls artists from the past like Television, Richard Hell, and The Velvet Underground. But overall the band's sound is markedly different. Some of the tracks on Boogieman are all-out rockers...while others are more melodic flowing pieces that recall 1980s-era David Bowie. Playing with John on this album are Dug Winningham (bass, piano), Veronica Olvera (drums), and Pinky Weitzman (viola, violin, stoh violin, saw, vocals). Punchy, smart inventive tracks include "Road Rage," "Some Knew Truth," "Adjust," and "Compensation Pills." These folks take the heart and soul of early punk and new wave bands and effectively push the music into the twenty-first century arena. Recommended. (Rating: 5++) - babysue.com


Monday, November 9, 2009
John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds – Boogieman
Generally, I tend to like weird. By weird, I simply mean something that’s different than the status quo or something with a unique twist on the usual. That’s what weird is, right? Outlandish and bizarre is a whole separate category and I can get into that in later reviews. But for now, let’s discuss John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds. This band, for all intents and purposes, is weird . . . weird in that they approach their craft from a different place than you or I might do. Part rockabilly, part punk rock, part I don’t know what, Frazier leads his band of merry melody makers through fourteen tracks of exciting and instantly memorable music, fourteen tracks of music that will make you tap your toes and crack a smile. . . maybe even a chuckle a little. Boogieman is not only worth your time, but worth your hard earned dollars and cents.


Part of what makes Boogieman so compelling is that, on top of its inherent weirdness, it’s musically complex and thought provoking. Listen to the opening song, “Road Rage,” and hear how the distorted guitars play loose and wild over the bass line. Then you have the vocals, which come across more as a narrative than singing, before the haunting strains of a violin pierce the musical atmosphere. Ultimately, it’s the riff that kicks in around the 1:00 mark that makes me stop and nod my head in approval. The violins weave around the melody and lift the rest of the instruments above being cliché, almost giving the song a prog-rock vibe, and sounding almost schizophrenic in comparison to the opening of the song. By the time we get to the second verse, John Frazier’s vocals elevate from the more narrative and monotone approach to capture a bit a manic adventure and emotion. I can’t get enough of this song. The energy, the musicality, the raw emotion to the whole tune makes me reach to my music player of choice and hit replay. Damn awesome song!

Then, Frazier and company lead us in a completely different direction. “One Night” sounds like a combination of Roy Orbison and Cake. Clean guitar tones strum out the verse and Frazier’s voice has that haunting Orbison tone of loneliness and inner torture. Check out the guitar work throughout this track. The subtle strumming at the beginning, the virtuosic hammer-on’s, and then the way Frazier drives the pick through the strings. This song is a credit to the recording as much as it is the playing. The notes vibrate and shimmer across the musical landscape. On top of all of the musical intrigue, the lyrics are cool and instantly memorable due to the highly infectious melody. “One Night” is an interesting contrast to the next song, “Some Knew Truth’” which is a straight up, high energy, hard rockin’, quasi-punk-y piece. Filled with great guitar tones (I’m hearing an acoustic strumming in the background) and a locomotive beat, “Some Knew Truth” makes it three songs in a row that gets me right in solar plexus.


“Back Home” features that narrative-type vocal performance from Frazier once again, and damn it! I love the non-chalance of his vocal approach! The composition and arrangement of this song is so damn cool . . . violins are littered throughout the track, various guitar tones are employed to gain maximum affect, the rhythm section keeps the whole thing together through the odd breaks and time changes. And then, finger picked notes of an acoustic guitar of “The Same Shit” meander from the speakers. Accompanied by the strained notes of the violins, this song picks up tones of some bizarre alt-country vibe, but then, as seems to be the M.O. for John Frazier, the song goes in a different direction. The lyrics tell a great tale of a friend, who’s gender is cleverly masked apparently is really no real friend at all. The phrasing kills me! At the end of the second verse, after Frazier has recited the incredible journeys of said acquaintance across the U.S., he simply states, “I don’t believe it,” in such a tone that I can’t help but crack a smile and giggle a little. It’s perfect! So many times I’ve heard that same voice in my head after hearing the farflung tales of “friends!” Is John Frazier the voice of my own inner monologue? I can get behind that.


The band changes things up for “Life of the Party” as the female vocals of violinist Pinky Weitzman takes the lead role. The tune is more somber sounding as the vocals are of the more narrative style and almost sound like the singer is bored. But, that’s the great thing about this particular performance! It’s hard to tell if the narrator of this tale is being sarcastic about being the life of the party or simply is that tired of being that person. Again, it’s a cool song for no other reason that it makes one stop and question the singers intentions, and if music has the ability to make me care that much as to why this person is unhappy or bored or apathetic about their position at a social gathering, then the song has power.


Finally, for an upbeat, groovin’ tune, John Frazier delivers “Pushing the Fat.” I’ve listened to this song about a hundred times now and I still don’t have a clear understanding as to what the phrase “pushing the fat” really means, but one thing is clear. This song has movement. It’s got bounce. It pushes the fat. Driven by a great bass line and accented by Weitzman’s violin work, Frazier delivers a funky fresh tune that can only be about sex. This one hits on a primal level. The level that gets the bones clickity-clacking, the abdomen gyrating in one direction or another, y’know . . . it’s accessible enough to dance to, but dangerous enough that you wouldn’t want to bring it home to mother.


Boogieman is as addictive a listen as I’ve had all year. Even as I’ve had other discs lined up and ready for review, Boogieman has found its way back into my player for additional spins just for the fun of it. I’m certain that I wasn’t expecting to like this album as much as I do, but that’s the funny thing about expectations. They’re meant to be surpassed. John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds have become my new go-to band to eradicate the doldrums of the day. Instantly catchy songs packed with an odd melodic sensibility, fun lyrics, upbeat and powerful music and instrumentation . . . the album has everything that I need to complete a good road trip or a simply jaunt to the corner market. Love ‘em, love ‘em, love ‘em! - Pope JTE - The Ripple Effect


Sunday, December 6, 2009
A Sunday Conversation with John Frazier
Incorporating violins, narrative-like vocals, and off time beats, John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds debut album, Boogieman, tore the mesh off of my speakers within a handful of listens. What makes music so compelling? Is it the unorthodox to rock n' roll instrumentation? Or, is there something else lurking in the depths of the man's creative cortex? Join us this morning as we sit down with John Frazier to learn more about the man's approach to making music.

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, and Simon & Garfunkel, the first time I ever hear Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphanies since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.


What have been your musical epiphany moments?

There are truly and thankfully so many, but here (chronologically) are
five big ones:

1. The "Pinball Countdown" song from Sesame Street (with accompanying
psychedelic cartoon), which I recently learned was performed by The
Pointer Sisters: My first realization of funk.

2. "Billie Jean" at Motown 25: Michael Jackson!

3. Jane's Addiction's first record (eponymously titled and released on the
XXX label): Redefined rock and roll.

4. Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos live on Sessions at West 54th Street:
Reinspired my love for the guitar.

5. The first time I heard Rebecca Moore perform: Such powerfully haunting,
beautiful and brilliant songs from someone within my community of friends.

Incorporating violin in a rock format adds some bizarre and intriguing textures to some of the harder edges of your music. How did it come about to utilize the violins?

For that, among so much else, I have Rebecca Moore to thank. Rebecca
incorporated strings (violin, viola and cello) in her ensemble, Prevention
of Blindness. 8 Year Olds co-founder, christener and bassist,
Dug Winningham, and drummer, Veronica Fox née Olvera, had been
playing with me for a little while, but I knew we needed another member -
someone to handle some lead and melody lines - but definitely did not want
another guitarist. I was fortunate, at that point, to be given the
opportunity to tour in Rebecca's band, and that's where I met Pinky
Weitzman. Pinky was Rebecca's violist. And though Prevention of Blindness
isn't a rock band, and the instrument wasn't employed the same way, Pinky
and I recognized each other as kindred musical spirits, and I knew I'd
found the missing 8 Year Old.

Interestingly, at the same time, Pinky also invited me to join her newly
forming band, Not Waving But Drowning. We've since made our debut
record, 'Any Old Iron', and recently wrapped up our first tour.

Genre's are so misleading and such a way to pigeonhole bands. Without resorting to labels, how would you describe your music?

It's rock and roll. Anything else I could say would just be fashion.
Nothing against fashion, of course. You should see this one pair of shoes
I have. The soles look like they were made from an old globe!



In songwriting, how do you bring the song together? What do you look for in terms of complexity? Simplicity? Time changes?

Mason Brown (of Not Waving But Drowning) often has a laugh over my
unconscious penchant for balancing everyday objects in precarious ways
when perfectly viable and safer options are readily available. I'm
inclined to suspect that this tendency is also at work in my songwriting
process.


I found the lyrics, the phrasing, and delivery of the vocals throughout Boogieman to be unique and, thankfully, not clichéd. How did you decide to take the approach on the vocals the way you did?

By attending to the notion that everybody has a unique
physical voice and mental perspective, and that they can inform and enhance
each other in song if allowed to


For you, what makes a great song?

The understanding and willingness to genuinely deliver it.


What piece of your music are you particularly proud of?

I'm proud of my overall effort more so than any particular piece. But I
distrust pride as an often manipulative deceiver and find it better to
feel gratitude in general.

The business of music is a brutal place. Changes in technology have made it easier than ever for bands to get their music out, but harder than ever to make a living? What are your plans to move the band forward? How do you stay motivated in this brutal business?

I am, and have been, motivated quite a lot by technology. It's what made
'Boogieman' as well as my solo record, 'Outside', possible. I'm also
motivated by collaborating with wonderful and talented people. The music
resonating with folks is what creates the opportunities to move things
forward.



Anyone who's spent more than a couple of minutes in the music business
has a Spinal Tap moment or two. Share with us one of your more memorable
Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments.

It's not a moment, but a condition! I am in a constant state of struggle
with my desire to do a free-form jazz exploration in front of a festival
crowd.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

CD. Vinyl is too impractical, though the artwork soars and the sound is
rich; and MP3s, though phenomenally convenient, are like aural confetti.
However, in the interest of full disclosure, I confess to not owning a
proper vinyl collection or a proper MP3 player, so I'm somewhat answering
from a position of complacent ignorance sustained by a sentimental
attachment to the many, many CDs I've acquired over the years.


We, at The Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. When we come to your town, what's the best record store to visit?

Downtown Music Gallery, Other Music, Norman's, Sound Fix... New York has a
lot of great record stores.



Any words of wisdom to pass on to our readers?

How about this gem from Canadian author, Robertson Davies: "We all
subscribe thoughtlessly to many beliefs, the truth of which isn't made
known to us until experience gives them reality. Wisdom can be borrowed,
so
to speak, on the experiences of others, but we buy it at an inordinate
price before we make it our own forever." - The Ripple Effect


Discography

John Frazier and the 8 Year Olds: 'Boogieman' (LP/CD) 2009

Photos

Bio

The 8 Year Olds were conceived over the largest glasses of afternoon spirits John and Dug had ever seen. Clearly the bartendress at Lotus was green. If she had just been fishing for a big tip, that would've been one thing. But this was clearly an error. All the better, they thought.

Veronica walked in, daring the boys to make a crack about her Neil Diamond concert t-shirt. She took note of the fact that John was wearing his spectacles and wondered if they were necessary or accessory. She'd demanded to meet in a public place to ensure that she wouldn't end up in trunk somewhere. A girl's got to be cautious.

Pinky was pulling tricks out of her sleeve like a magic clown at some society brat's Bat Mitzvah. Damn, could she work a room. And when the lights went out, she was the one who knew what to do. "I had to wire up my apartment by myself." she said. "It teaches you a thing or two."