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daniel_v

25 Years of MGB's LOTGA- An Interview with Ian Browne and John Shepp

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Oh, btw, Foats- you asked a question about what kind of a collection Ian has for MGB merch. Aside from the answer he gives at the 1:30:23 mark, he also sent this pic after the interview and said I was free to share it here. He also said he might be willing to part with certain items depending on what they were and depending on the price offered.

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I’ve only had time to watch the first 27 minutes but this is great! And to finally find out why Omissions was left off the vinyl pressing!

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Posted (edited)

I put this on as I was going to bed last night figuring I'd listen to 15-20 minutes of it, wound up listening to the entire 2 hours and ten minutes.  This was really incredibly well done and insightful.  It was great to have both Ian and John in on this one to have two people who were there kind of going back and forth and jogging each others memories and so forth.  It was really cool as well how this one mostly stayed on the subject of Last of The Ghetto Astronauts, reminded me a little of those old Classic Record documentaries that used to be on TV, except this was a lot more off the cuff which was great because it allowed the conversation to flow into some natural tangents it might not have otherwise.  Also because John and Ian haven't seen each other really since those days, all the joint memories they have an instantly linked to that time period.  Daniel, you are far too critical of yourself, I think this was incredibly well done and the intro was a nice touch as well.  You knew enough to not interject when the conversation and memories were really flowing, but still took the time to get some direct questions across.  I was looking forward to this interview, but I had no idea I would enjoy it and find it as informative as I did, so often, especially when you are dealing with a record that is a quarter of a century old, it can be easy to forget many of the details and just repeat the few things that have been in print over the years.  What was amazing about this was just how much new information we learned.  From how the band met up, to their influences to the way the record was actually constructed and recorded down to their thoughts on it's legacy.  

I'm one who was guilty of largely ignoring Last of the Ghetto Astronauts for years.  I first got into MGB seeing the Apparitions video on MUCH and for the next 5-6 years I most of my listening to their music was hearing the new singles as they hit the radio or the videos hit much.  In the mid 2000's I started to really get into the albums.  I spent alot of time with the last three band records and Avalanche and then followed along with each new release, but never got around to listening to Ghetto often.  I heard it a time or two and it just had such a different sound and it really didn't catch me at first.  Add to the fact that by that time Matt had basically dropped all traces of Ghetto from his setlists and was openly very critical of it, it didn't give me much incentive to pull it back out, especially as his catalog grew larger and larger.  It was also the only album Matt has ever released that I didn't experience some part of in real time.  So unlike songs on the other albums, I had no personal memories linked to that music that could take me back to where I was in my own life when it was released, and often that can have a huge impact on the lasting appeal of a certain song or album for me.  But about five years ago I was out driving on some mountain road and I had Ghetto on and I had to pull over and stop because I was continually air drumming along to "The War Is Over" and I was swerving all over the place.  So I pulled over got through that and Omens and then ran through the whole album again.  I don't know why it took so long to hit me, or why on that day it all of the sudden made an impact, but that's how it happened.  It was really the drumming that drew me in and then of course the strangeness of the sound of that record which had once put me off of it became one of it's strongest features.  You know, like you said in the interview Daniel, it's a unique album, but not just in the MGB catalog, it's unique among many albums at that time.  It really is kind of a genre in and of itself.  I own about a thousand albums on CD and vinyl and can confidently say nothing else in my collection sounds like that record.  Of course the more I listened the more I began to appreciate so much more about the album.  Matt's lyrics are for the most part really fantastic with some real dark edge to them pretty amazing that on the band's first album they were so fully formed, especially considering just how young they were.  Also Dave of course is playing keys which adds a different dimension to the sound as well, and Geoff is really so rock solid back there, it is a solid combination of the guys talents and where they were at the time.  And of course John deserves a great deal of credit for the sound as well.  I love the rawness of it that you can tell this wasn't done just take after take with a bunch of punch ins, it really allows the music to keep that flow and feel that comes naturally in a moment and as Daniel said it really does feel like there is a great separation in the instruments.  This is a beautiful listen on vinyl because of that, it feels like I'm back 25 years ago sitting in the studio with the band and with that great stereo separation you can almost picture each of the guys laying down their parts.  

I wanted to express a big thank you to Daniel for organizing this and doing the work to arrange, interview, edit and upload this, I understand the kind of work involved and it really is pretty amazing we have people like Daniel here who go through all that effort to help provide a platform for us to better our understanding and appreciation for some of the music that has made the biggest impacts in our lives.  And also to John and Ian who I can't thank enough for taking the time to make this happen.  Ghetto is an album that is really revered by the fans of MGB who have really given it a thorough listen, but it was also the one that as fans we knew just so little about.  The band was just starting so it's not like there was tons of press coverage at the time it was recorded and there are so few fans around the community who were fans back in 1995/96 who can shed some light on that era.  So to have two people so integrated in the creation of it come forward and share some stories really is something special and really helps increase my appreciation for this album.  Often, especially at acoustic shows Matt will tell stories about songs or albums or whatever, but because he had ignored the Ghetto material for so long in his live sets, we didn't even have that as a source of information from those days.  On his last acoustic tour though he really did embrace a few tracks from that album playing Fearless at nearly every show and Symbolistic White Walls and even Omissions of the Omen a few times.  Some shows had all three in the set, which is probably the first time that much Ghetto material had featured in a set since the Underdogs era.  Fearless was a real highlight of the tour for me, but it was at the final show in Vancouver where I really saw the impact of the songs from Ghetto when Matt did Symbolistic White Walls and the crowd just took over singing.  It was obvious after 25 years that song had not lost one bit of it's appeal and Matt was clearly pretty touched by that.  So there is no doubt the music from that album still resonates with many fans so it's really something special to get this kind of opportunity to have a member here discuss that album with Ian and John and reveal so many interesting stories from those days that helps piece together a much clearer picture about the genesis of the band and their earliest days in the recording studio.  So a sincere thanks to you three! 

Also, No Omissions on vinyl is a killer, I get why it was left off, but with that fourth side something could have been done for sure! Actually i just looked at the track listing and side 2 is less than 14 mins long, they could have moved Havent Slept in Years(3:23) to side two which then would have definitely left room on side 3 for Omissions (3:30). Hopefully someday Matt will release a rarities set on vinyl with some of the outtake tracks like All Together, Pony Boy and Can't Get Shot in The Back and then Omissions can be included.  

Edited by adam_777
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I’ve just finished watching the rest of the interview and I just have to say - Daniel:  thank you so much for doing this interview. And also to Ian and John for agreeing to do this. I could have listened to it go on for hours!!

I didn’t get into MGB with LOTGA - for me it was (of all songs) Indestructible that got me to buy the Underdogs album. It’s still a sentimental favourite to this day because of that. For me - Underdogs was the first album I could listen to front to back and then on repeat again...it just worked. So after Underdogs ran its course and before Beautiful Midnight, I started to search out whatever MGB stuff I could to fill the void. And part of that was driven by the Symbolistic White Walls performance at Snowjob on MuchMusic. I just loved that song...how heavy it was and full of a certain sort of passion and anger. I had to have it.

That’s when I learned about Raygun and LOTGA and I had to get my local CD store to special order them. Raygun was an immediate favourite because it more closely resembled the Underdogs sound than LOTGA, but over time LOTGA grew on me. I realized that I wished I had LOTGA when it first came out, and not a few years after the fact. The sound just felt like (and still does) that it speaks to a certain part of my life...a bridging between my childhood and into adulthood. (I was 21 when Underdogs came out and had recently moved away from home for the first time in my life for my first “real” job which was in radio of all things which presented its own opportunities to hear new MGB material)

I’m not a musician - so I don’t understand how everything works. I just know what sounds good to me. And as much as Matt has grown and improved over time and he’s got a great band now....I miss Geoff’s bass. And I miss Ian’s drums. (Ian is the first drummer that I actually have listened to songs where I sometimes try to consciously block out the other instruments because his work is just so amazing and innovative). 

And now with all this talk of Euphony and 15 Hours, it makes me want to go dig those CD’s and cassette out of the box I have them hidden away in and rip them onto my computer and phone. Can’t even recall exactly how I got them...

Guess I know what I’m doing tomorrow 🙂

Thx again John, Ian and Daniel!

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Posted (edited)

Really enjoyed this interview and found it very informative.  Thought the intro was cool too.  Thanks to you Daniel for organizing and of course John and Ian for taking the time to do this for us.  Looking forward to part 2!

Edited by Stwlegend
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Alright, so the second interview is done. Went well I think. There's going to be a third now because this one went as long as it did and we didn't have time to address everything we wanted to, haha. 

Quick question though: Does anyone remember if Ian ever opened up for Matt as part of Ryan Dahle's band "Alarm Bell", before they reverted to Limblifer? This would have been back in 2003 or the start of 2004. 

I could have sworn I remember reading a few reviews from people back in that time period saying how it was cool to see Ian behind the drum set again when Ryan opened up for Matt in Vancouver or something, but when I brought it up to Ian he was hesitant to say he remembered even having done so. Obviously I would assume Ian knows his memory better than me, but I just could have sworn I remember that happening once. So yeah, just curious if anyone else has a similar recollection or knows of any archived reviews of a concert like that. 

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i know Ian played in Alarm Bell and briefly as the name reverted to Limblifter (i did the official site at the time for Ryan). but I never got to see any shows during that incarnation, just the first show back as Limblifter but Ian wasn't in the band anymore by then.

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Posted (edited)

I watched the Shaw performance of Native Son again and Ian is definitely playing Zildjian cymbals.

Edited by Millstone

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On 7/29/2020 at 6:21 PM, daniel_v said:

Alright, so the second interview is done. Went well I think. There's going to be a third now because this one went as long as it did and we didn't have time to address everything we wanted to, haha. 

Quick question though: Does anyone remember if Ian ever opened up for Matt as part of Ryan Dahle's band "Alarm Bell", before they reverted to Limblifer? This would have been back in 2003 or the start of 2004. 

I could have sworn I remember reading a few reviews from people back in that time period saying how it was cool to see Ian behind the drum set again when Ryan opened up for Matt in Vancouver or something, but when I brought it up to Ian he was hesitant to say he remembered even having done so. Obviously I would assume Ian knows his memory better than me, but I just could have sworn I remember that happening once. So yeah, just curious if anyone else has a similar recollection or knows of any archived reviews of a concert like that. 

Looking forward to the latest interview!

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On 8/7/2020 at 7:21 PM, Prairieboy said:

Looking forward to the latest interview!

Me too, lol. I'm hoping to get it up by the end of the month as I'll have a nice stretch of time off starting on the 22nd of August. Thanks for the patience everyone :)

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Posted (edited)

Okay, so, another update:

Everything is finally finished and ready to go. 

As usual the only issue is uploading. This time I can't even get the finished product out of my video editing program because the file is so large. Really, I've come to learn that VideoPad isn't a great editing program for large projects. As such I'll either have to break this up into two parts or just give VideoPad access to my Youtube channel and upload it straight from VideoPad itself (neither option is optimal). 

Anyways, regardless of what I do hopefully sometime this upcoming week I'll have the full thing online for everyone to check out. 

Edited by daniel_v
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Thanks, William. Glad u enjoyed it🙂 

Anyways, I tried uploading the new one 3 different times today straight from VideoPad and had no luck, unfortunately. Gonna try a few different things tomorrow. In the meantime- just as a teaser for anyone waiting- I figured I’d share 2 things. The first is the intro I created for the actual interview. I uploaded it to my personal channel last week after finishing it so I could review it myself.

As will be noticed by some, the intro is of course composed of clips from a lot of different sources. I don’t know if it’s necessary but regardless most of the substantial clips will be linked and credited in the final and full video that is eventually published. They include Chad’s clip of AOE playing live, the article I quote discussing the importance of drummers, Andy Herrin’s interview with Ian from earlier this year, and the full video of the clip I use at the end of this introduction (on top of the EITS and BW video referenced too). 

The second is just a 6 minute clip of Ian discussing Apparitions and what the song writing process was like in MGB

And of course, the actual, full finished product though will be on the same channel I published the first interview on (Reveries) and not this channel I’m sharing here. It’ll clock in at around the 2 hour and 10 minute mark. 

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