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the Absolute


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"Press Review's"

"Los Angeles Best Up And Coming Independant Artists of 2008" ...A&R Connections - Press

"Know Your LA Bands"

Know Your LA Bands: theABSOLUTE
July 19th, 2008 Written by: Seraphina· No Comments

LA.CityZine brings you LA band, theABSOLUTE, as part of our Know Your LA Bands series. As I sat down for pizza with the guys, I soon realized, for a very new band, they’ve got the roots and wisdom of musicians who have been doing it for decades. Phil Ross (vox/guitar), James Haworth (vox/keys/guitar) and Anthony Paul (drums) have had some major epiphanies within their musically genial mindsets. Refusing to write songs that fill in check boxes for the music industry these days, theABSOLUTE brings you rock music that has a sense of rebirth yet also envelopes you in familiarity as they add a touch of retro elegance. With vocals that combine the likes of Thom Yorke, Stephen Malkmus (if he actually sang notes) and dare I even say it - Bono, along with splash of keys and beats that will blow your mind, this band brings something different to the table.

Their EP, Good News, is only 6 tracks but manages to give you the overwhelming sense of musicianship that a lot of indie rock bands are lacking these days. Swelling melodies and harmonies ride on top of raw guitar hooks and beats that drive the tracks until you can’t take it anymore. theABSOLUTE provides this musically sensual high and release through their MySpace, so be sure to check it out.

Having complete faith in these guys, it’s my pleasure to share their next LA show date with you. On Monday, July 28th, they will be playing The Whiskey at 8:00pm. I will be there rocking my face off and you should be there as well. Tickets are $7 but when you see these guys live, you’ll realize a show of theirs is worth much more. If you can’t make it out that night, they have another show at The Derby on Wednesday, July 30th.

Want to get to know the guys before the show? Check out the interview I was lucky enough to get with all three guys, plus Winthrop Ellsworth from His Orchestra, who has stepped in as their current bass player.

I know this is obnoxious and somewhat of a daunting task but could you give a brief description of your sound?

Phil: Well, obviously, Brian Wilson, The Righteous Brothers, and Radiohead influence us; The list goes on. Hopefully the sound we’re trying to write is good pop music we haven’t heard in a while, going back to the Pixies and before that with The Beatles - all that good stuff. Generally, the message of the music is to get people moving and to get off their asses. It’s a familiar sound though. It’s like the Robert Zimmerman quote; We’re all alchemists in a sense. We’re all taking the same parts, the same pieces of lead, we’re good scientists who can turn things into gold. Even if we can just turn it into gold for a few minutes; That’s the eventual goal. Parts of music are constantly repeated but the problem is people aren’t taking it to the next level.

James: I want to say old Radiohead meets Modest Mouse.

Phil: We’re bringing it back to the good old days. With the exception of a few artists from the 70’s to the 90’s, it’s just been shrinking and shrinking every year… the birth of rock and roll and pop music in general is such an amazing time… to be a pioneer… to reinvent…. Re-pioneer!

The band name used to be Francis & the Absolute. What exactly is the theory of this Francis guy?

Anthony: Francis is everybody, Francis is anybody, Francis is anything. Francis is the guy who brought the concept of the absolute, the philosophical concept of the absolute and brought it into western civilization.

So you’ve dropped the Francis but still apply the theory within your philosophy as a band?

Anthony: I’d like to think so.

Phil: The absolute is like the absolute zero. It’s like constantly getting closer but not yet there.

Anthony, I’ve been told that you wrote that little blurb on the MySpace. Ever thought about being a writer outside of music?

Anthony: Not really. Music is my passion. I love writing but I can apply writing in a different sense with music.

What jobs have you guys had besides being the cool musician?

Winthrop: I’ve directed a lot of theatre and film, co-directed some films, directed some shorts, and produced some films. I do some camera work still to this day in order to pay the bills. I’m also currently a waiter. Anything to do with any form of performance art. I think I’ve worked with all sides of it. I’ve run sound for shows.

James: Mainly, I’ve done painting and construction. I’ve also worked in retail stores, was a telemarketer…

Besides the name, there were some other changes in the band such as transforming from a 5 piece into a 3 slash 4-piece band. How much did this affect the band in regards to songwriting?

Phil: Wait. Who is this guy? Oh, he’s the 4th piece.

Winthrop: (Sings.) I’m the 4th piece…

Phil: It hasn’t affected us that much. Alex [former bassist] had just graduated high school and decided to go to college. He had a really good theory of music. Keith, as the lead guitarist, definitely helped craft a lot of the stuff that’s on the EP. He’s a very gifted musician but he had to take care of his goals… but with them gone, I’d say the songs are pretty much going at the same pace. A long of the songs are from previous bands.

Winthrop: Phil and I have played in bands together before and written some of these songs.

Phil: James, too. Now that we have Anthony, we’re branching out.

How long have you guys known each other for?

Anthony: Six months? (Laughs.)

Phil: Well, we’ve all known Anthony for six months.

James: I’ve known Phil for 10 years.

Winthrop: Phil and I have known each other for about 6 years but really have only worked together and started hanging out 3 or 4 years ago. I met James shortly after.

Have you guys been in other bands before?

James: I used to play just random studio guitar for a bunch of bands: Reggae bands, R&B bands, Jazz bands, improv bands, pop chicks, random stuff… Phil and I have both played with Bill Medley of Righteous Brothers.

Phil: Pigs and Peacock, Eleanor Avenue, Following January. Super emo…

Winthrop: I’ve played in about 10 different bands during my lifetime. The best band I was in was Erocktion – best name I ever came up with. It was even a three-piece… Erocktion…

Phil: Let me just point out that my first suggestion for this band was JoJo and the Pap Shmears… However it was shot down relatively quickly. Unfortunately. (Sings) “Nobody knows… about JoJo and the Pap Shmears…”

I’m not too sure girls would like that name.

James: Yeah, why are girls always so pissed about them?

Hmm, I don’t know… So have any of those bands come close to being signed to a label before?

Phil: Well, I did stuff with HelloGoodbye. I went to high school with those guys.

Winthrop: Yeah, Phil was a founding member.

Phil: Yeah, but I chose college instead of doing a band and it’s funny because they still play the same songs…

I only know that one song, “Here In Your Arms.”

Phil: Yeah, I had no part in that. It’s nothing personal. It was just something in high school and my parents convinced me to go to college. College also isn’t for everybody, but I definitely needed it because I was way to f***en cocky.

How do you deal when things don’t work out?

James: You just get smarter, get a bunch of music business books and read ‘em like crazy. Just know what needs to happen. Know what to look out for.

Phil: Just do it again and again and again…

Winthrop: There’s a level of dedication you need that hurts a lot of the time. There are a lot of days when I’m driving a long way for rehearsal and I think, “This is really hard on myself. I could choose an easier path.” But when you need to make art, you need to make art. There’s a line you have to draw for yourself.

Phil: Sometimes, it’s like f*** self-happiness. This stuff, trying to make a point, trying to be heard definitely satisfies me… but sometimes it’s just like shit! BUT if I suffer now, and 10 people do something good for their life, then it’s SOLD.

Winthrop: Bottom line: You gotta get smart.

James: A lot of the times, bands just get lucky and signed. Sometimes it works out great, but most of the time it doesn’t work. It can fall through and they just get f***ed. Then there is the case where some great bands just fall through the cracks of labels.

Winthrop: Getting signed isn’t everything but it definitely is the next step to working so much harder.

Phil: Now the trains are chugging along.

What would be the best compliment someone could give you about your music and why?

James: It would be another artist coming up to me and saying, “Hey, can we work with you?”

Phil: If someone came up to me and said, “I really appreciate what you’re doing.”

Winthrop: If someone has been transported into another place while they listened to our music, which would be awesome. I’ve definitely been there.

Do you guys all have the same taste in music?

Winthrop: I’m into jam bands and classical music is a huge influence on me. Mozart gets me off. I love Black Flag, strange jazz stuff…

Anthony: I probably like whatever these guys like. If it’s good music then I’d don’t limit myself to genres. I listen to a lot of post-rock like Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky… James has also gotten me into some of the tight R&B and soul stuff… Then Phil and I share the Indie alternative stuff like Radiohead and Modest Mouse.

James: I listen to a lot of Hip-hop too.

Do you find that his helps or hinders the band’s creative process?

Phil: There are a lot of crossovers, so we are locked together. The core is our shared interest but the fact that James can tear it up and Anthony can jazz it all up in my face with the drums is amazing.

Indie and mainstream almost seem like they’re battling each other. What is your stance on the two realms within the industry?

James: Indie is mainstream.

Phil: Indie is mainstream’s new catch.

There are still people who separate the two, especially music business people. Does one trump the other?

Phil: Well, mainstream had a chance when they had great artists. The Beatles and Beach Boys are mainstream music…

James: Well if you’re just talking labels, they’ve messed up so many times with their money. Ever since the internet has come out, it’s just gotten so much easier for Indie labels to come up from nothing. The Indie bands need a label and their creative control but in the end you just need a label to help with distribution. You need a manager and a distribution deal.

Winthrop: In the perfect world, we would do it ourselves. We are our own business. (Phil starts singing the chorus of POD’s “We Are The Youth of the Nation.”) Things have changed so much. If Indie artists can somehow grab control of how distribution goes, along with the internet, things can eventually go a certain way.

LA is in the background of some of your band photos. How does living in LA influence you guys as band, if at all?

Phil: Sometimes it makes me want to get the hell out. There’s so much competition. It fries your mind for a while. People just need to chill out.

James: Well it’s expensive and it’s always packed and the only reason to be here is because the business is here. Now that there are so many Indie things going on, things like labels are falling apart.

Anthony: But of course, it’s good for us.

Phil: There’s a lot of places for us to play but a lot of people think LA is the epicenter when there are other places.

James: It’s definitely the epicenter of entertainment, at least. It’s nice if you meet someone who likes your music and also just happen to work for a TV show… It’s worth it to be here.

Winthrop: The drive is here. It gives you opportunity, which means you act on more, which means you do more.

Where’s your favorite place to see a band play in LA?

Winthrop: Either The Troubadour or the El Rey.

James: Yes! If it’s an intimate show - The Troubadour. If it’s slightly larger - The El Rey.

Phil: The Wiltern or The Greek Theatre. When we were taking pictures on top of Griffith Park, whatever we heard was freaking sick. It was like a siren singing to us. [Jesca Hoop]

Anthony: I’ve been to some shows around here but I can’t remember the names of the venues since I’m from San Luis Obispo.

Dead or alive; What 5 acts would you have play with you at a festival?

Winthrop: I’d get Mozart on a f***ing synth and give him a day then walk in a day later and see what he did… Bella Fleck and the Tones would be a lot of fun. Sigur Ros, Radiohead and George Harrison and Robbie Shankar doing something crazy with an Indian orchestra.

Anthony: Sigur Ros, that f***ing Mozart idea - God! Guys like Chopin… but I don’t want to blow my five on just classics. Okay, so Radiohead is three. The Beatles, and I would love to see Miles Davis.

James: Bob Marley & the Wailers, for sure. (Winthroop shouts, “Ahhh, such a good one!” as he gets more pizza from the kitchen.) Radiohead, Buena Vista Social Club, Erykah Badu and Fat Boy Slim closing out the festival.

Phil: Beach Boys, The Anniversary, Nirvana, The Pixies, and Cream.

What’s your favorite music magazine or website?

Anthony: I don’t really have one.

Winthrop: of course… but favorite music magazine ever: So What If I’m Gay? It was a music magazine that was in Houston when I was in high school. It was a revival 80’s thing in the city run by these biker gang guys with huge tattoos going, “So what if I’m gay? Check out my mix!” They had these So What If I’m Gay Volumes 1 – 10 and they’re amazing! There was the best Michael Jackson and Journey you’ve ever heard. The magazine was hilarious.

James: Billboard.

Phil: There’s this new magazine that was created in New York but now coming out in LA called The Deli Magazine. It’s pretty righteous.

What’s your favorite song to play live and why?

Anthony: “Mean Machines Well” is probably unanimous.

Phil: Well I say “Good News,” but it’s a toss up between the two.

If you could rid the world of one song, what would it be?

Winthrop: “Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head.” I don’t know why either because I love Burt Bacharach. That song just rubs me the wrong way.

Anthony: If I could rid “Life On Mars” by David Bowie just so we could play it, would be amazing. God, I love it.

Phil: I don’t know. Whatever John Mayer’s new hit is?

James: But if there weren’t any John Mayer songs, people wouldn’t realize what a douche he was. I can’t think of anything and John Mayer is a good guitar player.

Anthony: But if we didn’t have that level of a shitty song, then there’s no level of shit…

Winthrop: Let’s not f*** with our karma now, man.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Phil: What if I’m not guilty about pleasure? Uh, I would say, maybe… watching ESPN or playing Baseball video games.

Winthrop: Something like Britney Spears? I do a bitching cover of “Baby, One More Time.” It’s emotional and raw. I really like - (starts singing) “My loneliness!” – It’s like – Oh! Gotta get it out there and I cry a little bit.

Anthony: This one would only work for me right now cause I just became a vegetarian: Meat.

James: Alcohol and drugs but I’m not embarrassed.

What’s the best cure for a hangover?

Phil: Trees, trees, and some water.

Winthrop: A coffee and a cigarette at the same time during…

James: I never get hangovers but I know if you’re drinking water while you are drinking as well as drinking some water before bed, it works.

What are three things you could not live without?

Anthony: The ability to hear is the only thing that I can truly say. Everything else is expected to go away.

Winthrop: Well, you’re talking to people who have had pretty much everything taken away, so there’s not a lot.

Phil: Exactly. Not much materialistic possessions, but what I would have to say is my will, the human condition and diet coke.

James: Music, paint or something… Ice water!

Tell us one thing about yourself that we probably don’t already know.

Winthrop: My father was an opera singer. That’s how I got into music. I also know some stories about James that probably only 4 other people know.

James: That’s good.

Phil: I suffer from Osgood-Schlatter syndrome.

Winthrop: Do you really?

All: What is that?

Phil: Bad knees. (He proceeds to tell me spelling.) I’ve had it since I was 9. That’s when all my baseball fantasies died. I could never be a catcher.

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- LA Cityzine


Good News -EP to be released Summer 08
Mean Machines Well- Single Digital Release



The band incorporates classic rock rhythms with edgy and narrative sounds reminiscent of Brian Wilson, Queen, and Radiohead without sacrificing its own originality. At the band’s core is a genuine zeal for writing music for the greater good. Hailing from all over the golden state and now currently calling Los Angeles their home, the Absolute was formed in February 2008. Nothing short of instant chemistry, the group composed within a few short weeks an impressive collection of songs and recorded their first EP with producer Ulrich Wild of Breaking Benjamin, Deftones, and White Zombie fame.