DID YOU READ

Exclusive Video Premiere: Cian Nugent’s Joyous “Sixes & Sevens”

Exclusive Video Premiere: Cian Nugent’s Joyous “Sixes & Sevens” (photo)

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Doubles, the first LP by Irish guitarist Cian Nugent, is a major proclamation of new young talent. As ambitious as it is evolved, Doubles is a 45-minute album comprised of only two tracks–the patient, practiced guitar-and-electronics meditation “Peaks & Troughs” and the longer “Sixes & Sevens,” a brilliant movement that builds quickly from start-and-stop picking and percussion to glorious full-band redemption.

“Sixes & Sevens” actually works as a bit of a seesaw and a bit of a maze; it moves between exclamatory bursts and ruminative passages every few minutes, occasionally balancing the two in brief, perfect moments. Nugent actually excised three of the songs more bustling minutes for a new video by director Dylan Phillips. Here, the maze metaphor works, as Nugent’s springy composition scores a short and speeding tour along the threshold between a city’s natural and industrial spaces.

We spoke with Nugent about “Sixes & Sevens” and guitarists via e-mail.

In making this video, how did you decide which bit of “Sixes & Sevens” you wanted to use? Was it a decision made in collaboration with the director?

Well, I wanted a part that had everyone who played on the album, and there are only really two sections where this is the case. I felt that both sections stood up on their own pretty well–worked outside of the piece as well as in it. I put both of them to Dylan [Phillips], the director, and he went for this one. I’d still like the make a video for the other one, too.

It’s funny to think about someone who hasn’t heard the full song yet hearing this and then leaping into it, expecting 24 minutes that sound like these three. Was that bait and switch part of the appeal of using that bit to you, or did that one section simply seem like a good one?

There probably is an element of deception to putting forward this part, but at the same time, I’m not sure if any section would give a clear and honest take on the whole. I might as well accept this as an act of deception. Perhaps other parts take a little while to get used to, and I felt like this part was probably the most immediate. When browsing through the cybernet, I know that my attention can be minuscule. If something doesn’t interest me, I just move on.

Oftentimes, musicians that make such long-form pieces insist that they are wholes that aren’t able to be broken into units. Obviously, this excerpt is some attempt to form a smaller unit. How do you feel about that idea–of a long song being one piece, or an assembly of pieces?

When I was originally writing this piece, this was the first part I had. To my ear, it didn’t feel like a short piece; it seemed to have space for development and contrast–that and I think I also wanted to write a long piece! It was a pretty natural process for me to write this as a long piece and one done out of what felt like necessity. I wanted a piece that had a range of different moods and approaches but also felt like a whole. To me, it’s quite fun that this excerpt can mean one thing in context and another out of it. I don’t feel too precious about the piece being a whole, but at the same time, I do think of it as such. I understand that there’s no such thing as correct interpretation, so why hope for it?

Do you think such long pieces of music suffer our shortened attention spans? Did you ever consider breaking this album into shorter parts that are still connected musically, but just include track breaks?

Some friends of mine did suggest the idea of breaking the piece into smaller tracks for the LP, but to me, it felt kind of counter-intuitive to spend so long making a piece work as a whole and then go and break it up. It just didn’t sit right with me.

I think certainly it is difficult to lay one’s focus to a long piece of music, but I think rather than the music suffering it is us who does. I know that when I make myself listen to a long piece of music, I’m often rewarded much more than with a short song, as much as I love those, too. There’s a time for all things. I really enjoy the sense of achievement I get from overcoming my impatience and paying attention to a piece of work that takes some time, be it a film or music or whatever. I think writing and constructing these long pieces was an attempt to exercise some control over my wavering patience, to put some discipline on it, rather than just indulge it, as masochistic as that may sound.

When I was on tour with Micah Blue Smaldone recently, we talked about this and he put it well: You got to fight tooth and nail for your patience in a world that’s doing its best to not let you have it.

Is there a narrative to the entirety of “Sixes & Sevens” for you? Or an idea that runs throughout?

I think there is. I don’t think it’s a didactic narrative, but an intuitive one. There is an element of story and journey to it as far as I see it, but that’s just my perception so I suppose it’s for each listener to decide.

Lately, it seems like guitarists have taken many more risks in folding playing and picking into something larger, something that explores more space. How do you see yourself in that continuum? Who are the heroes you feel closest to, most distant from?

I think people have always been exploring long-form music; maybe it’s happening more now, though. I’m not sure. There are definitely people I feel a kinship with or admiration for in various areas. As far as guitarists, I like Matt Baldwin’s album Paths of Ignition a lot. Everything I’ve heard by Bill Orcutt, and Chris Forsyth’s new one is particularly hot. All of his albums are great. I really like a musician from Portugal, David Maranha‘s music for organ. My friend Chris Hladowski‘s take on long-neck lutes from across the world is always inspiring. Also, the director of this video, Dylan Phillips, is possibly my favorite songwriter at the moment. The songs he writes for The Dinah Brand really floor me.

I try not to indulge hero worship too much, but of course, I love a bit of it, too. I think by nature of their hero stature, though, we feel distant from them, especially because most of mine are always older music. My biggest hero indulgences recently have probably been Neil Young, Alex Chilton and Todd Rundgren–probably at a safe distance.

When did you first start playing guitar? And when did you first start treating guitar as an entrée into these bigger compositions?

I guess I started playing guitar around seven or eight years ago. I started out playing bass and then slowly started messing around with a guitar that was at home. I was always a little fearful of playing guitar because it’s such a ubiquitous instrument, and there are so many people who are good at playing it. For a long time (and, to a certain extent, still), I didn’t think of myself as a guitarist. Guitarist culture is pretty horrible. I started out writing pretty short guitar songs about four years ago, mainly because I wasn’t really able to play for too long! But then I got more and more interested in longer-form music and progressively got more able to do it. I suppose these are my first two compositions of this length.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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