DID YOU READ

Exclusive download and interview: John Butler Trio’s “Revolution”

Exclusive download and interview: John Butler Trio’s “Revolution” (photo)

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Australian songwriter John Butler has five studio LPs and four live albums, which should tell you what you need to know about his aims: He thrives in the live environment, where his dialogue can engage, where his John Butler Trio can stretch and embolden his rock and where he can put a little more grit into anthems like “Revolution.” Indeed, “Revolution” is a call to continual action by the concerned citizens of the world and an acknowledgement that change can come gradually, if we keep it as a consistent aim. Download “Revolution,” taken from Butler’s new Live at Red Rocks set, here.
Butler plays Terminal 5 in New York tonight and tomorrow night. He’s on tour throughout September.

You’ve enjoyed a lot of international success, yet you’ve stayed in Australia. Why?
That’s just where my heart is; my heart’s in Australia. I’ve lived over east in Australia, and I spent a short time in New York. I spend a lot of time on the road– eight months sometimes on the road or a year. Australia is where my spirit feels the most at home. I’m not really interested in moving to New York, or London, or any other place to further my career. I leave home enough to further my career. I don’t need to completely move away from home.

Every time you leave, what’s the hardest part? What’s the best thing about returning?
It’s hard to leave home and leave my family, but luckily, we travel together a lot–me, my kids and my wife. I’m meeting them in five days in New York, and then we travel. I’ve been away for three weeks, but we travel for the next month and a half together. We have a family assistant; she’s also a qualified teacher, so she teaches our children on the road. We try to stay tight in one way or another, physically or emotionally.
Leaving them doesn’t get easier; it just gets harder. The best thing about coming home is about a week after I get home. I can settle. It takes about a week for everything to settle again. We’re annoying each other, me and my wife, for about a week, and then it’s all back to normal. The best thing about home is really just being with family–going out in the garden, making tree houses, lighting a fire in the back yard. It’s the simple things that are often the best.

Do you write best at home or on the road?
I definitely get a lot of writing done when I’m at home, but I also get a lot of writing done when I’m on the road. Inspiration can come at any time. When I have enough time off, lots of songs will come, and when I’m off the road, they come quite rapidly. But they come regularly whether I’m on the road or off the road. Things get into my mind, and they’re like little spirits that want to have a life. They choose to have a life through music.

Tell me about the song “Revolution.” How old is it, and what inspired it?
It’s a couple years old. In my country, like yours, often it’s hard not to look around and feel like there’s something happening on a global level. A lot of it’s quite disturbing. It’s hard not to look around and try to ask the questions, “Does anybody see the insanity that’s going around at the moment? Is it just me, or has anyone else seen this craziness, this madness of destruction, whether through war or killing people through the economy?”
Countries are starving because of the World Trade Organization or the World Bank or from mining the hell out of the world. My state is completely infested with mining companies that are basically digging holes everywhere and are disenfranchising people in the process. When I look at all this stuff, it’s quite overwhelming. As a citizen of the world, it doesn’t feel natural, and it doesn’t feel right.
The song is an observation of those things and trying to find some redemption in it. It’s so overwhelming to be completely surrounded by that feeling all the time; I had to find some redemption and to take back the definition of revolution. The word has been completely manipulated by moneymakers, whether it’s the Pepsi revolution or the digital revolution or the revolution in new underwear. Whatever it is, the revolution is completely impotent. So I had to find out what revolution meant to me.
Revolution looks like evolution with an “r” in front of it. Having to look around, and seeing what’s happening on the planet, I try to focus on the good things and realize that revolution, although it’s extremely slow and painful, is underway as we speak. It’s not something that’s going to come around one day; it’s happening as we speak, but it’s just happening very tediously.

I’ve been reading this book by another Australian thinker, Paul Gilding. It’s called The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World, and it’s about the revolution the world will soon face. Is Australia on a vanguard of these sorts of politics, or the opposite?
I don’t think Australia is on the vanguard of anything. We pollute more than America per capita; we’re fucking shocking. I wouldn’t even call myself an environmentalist, or a socialist, or political activist. I’m just a human being who sees the world and goes, ok, “What’s the safest, cleanest, most sustainable and respectful way to go about this? And that’s common sense.” You want to mine some land and do it in a way that’s environmentally sound, economically sound, that’s–in a community sense, in a social sense, in a cultural sense–sound and sustainable, I don’t have a problem with it. The problem is, at the moment, our countries are run by multinational companies that aren’t a part of any country. They are completely beyond it–the roving, clandestine, fucking multinational companies. They are interested in how we can get our crap, and our junk, and our drugs that we’re addicted to, in the form of oil and iron ore and whatever else, as quickly as possible without having to be responsible for it. It’s cheaper; they’ll cut any corners to do that.
I see that insanity, and as a human being, I have a problem with it because it doesn’t make sense. It wasn’t how I was brought up, and I don’t think it’s how most of us were brought up. We were brought up to respect people. We were brought up to clean up after ourselves. We were brought up to, if you break something, fix it; if it’s going to run out really quickly, then replace it. Yet our leaders and these organizations don’t go by those rules at all. There’s a fundamental problem in how the system that we live in is running. It’s not sustainable. Songs like “Revolution” and “One Way Road” are just me trying to make sense of this.

What do you hope songs like that accomplish? Are they part of a movement, or are they meant to inspire one?
I definitely think it’s part of a movement, and it has the power to manipulate, or at least move, people emotionally. Great art does that, whether it’s political or not. You can definitely move people through art, and this is the power of art. That’s why advertisers, corporations and politicians have used music for a long time. It moves the masses. I think music can be part of a positive change on the planet, whether you sing about revolution or not.

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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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