Queer-centric band Eric & the Adams break up

Eric and the Adams performed their final show as a trio last night at The Hunt Club in Tulsa, Okla. where the band is based. The band has played Dallas many times and singer Eric Himan has come to town as a solo act. The last we saw of any of them was Himan opening for Jay Brannan back in December. Himan and Angel Adams‘ have both left letters on the band’s site saying their goodbyes and citing reasons the band was dissolving — going in different directions, having babies.

We’re kinda sad to see them go. The band has been overly courteous to the Dallas Voice always being open to interviews and reviews.

Good luck guys in your future endeavors and we hope that last show killed! We love all your original work but we’re just gonna go back and remember the time you covered the Beastie Boys at Sue Ellen’s. Mmmk?

—  Rich Lopez

Mister Sister

Headlining or opening for Gaga? It’s all the same to Scissor Sisters’ Marquis

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Scissor-Sisters-red-blinds
MAKING THE CUT | Del Marquis, far right, has sex appeal with bearish qualities, even though frontman Jake Shears, second from right, gets press for taking his shirt off.

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GAGA/SCISSOR SISTERS

American Airlines Center,
2500 Victory Ave.
March 14 at 8 p.m.  $52–$178.
Ticketmaster.com

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Despite headlining their own tours and high profile music festivals for their acclaimed CDs, the Scissor Sisters kinda had a secret agenda when they joined Lady Gaga’s tour as the opening act. As big as the band is, when you go on the road with The Biggest Pop Star of the Moment, benefits abound. The Sisters may not seem like they need the benefits — having their own rabid following — but guitarist Del Marquis thinks it could always be bigger.

“There are only a few people you’d want to open for that are well beyond our capacity,” Marquis says. “We think her audience would get us but may never see us. We don’t get video or radio play, so after our show people may go and look us up.”
Funny, being that Scissor Sisters has just been named to big time gigs at the Coachella festival in April and headlining a night at the U.K. festival, Lovebox, in July. But for Marquis, headliner or not, this shakeup keeps the band on its toes.

“When we headline and we feel like we own it, we work it and peddle our wares,” Marquis says. “But people have paid a certain amount to see Gaga and so we just work harder but in a different way. Yet it’s fun to work for it that way again.”
Besides, it’s less work.

“Oh yeah, half an hour on stage and we’re done,” he laughs.

Vanessa Franko from the InLandSoCal blog wrote recently that “the band is still tragically under appreciated.” Scissor Sisters aren’t an obscure indie band, but their very radio-friendly music doesn’t get the mainstream play. In that regard, Marquis brazenly agrees.

“In the States, yeah, but of course, tragic is a point of view,” he says. “I think we write great songs and we’re great live band.

There are not a lot of both out there. Songwriting is almost just a vehicle to a performer now and some bands are a bore live but have great songs. We work really hard at both things, so we’re a rarity. There are a lot of rock bands and pop stars, but we’re a pop band and, against the odds, become something larger.”

Which the band seems to have found overseas. The Brits love the Sisters, and maybe it has something to do with the band’s constant comparison to vintage Elton John that go even beyond having flamboyant gay members like Marquis and lead singer Jake Shears.

“We do love our U.S. tours, but the audiences seem much bigger in Britain,” Marquis says. “They are really great and there we don’t play to people with arms folded. But really, whether it’s a crowd of 1,500 or 33,000, we play to get an immediate reaction anywhere. We are blessed we do get in that high range of audiences. We want to indoctrinate more people.”

Marquis has enough sex appeal to rival frontman Shears (for that matter, so does fellow bandmate BabyDaddy), but he might appeal to a more fur-appreciating contingent. With the Texas Bear Round-Up around the corner, Marquis and his hairy chest would fit right in. Except Marquis is not inclined to embrace an ursine identity.
“Am I a bear?” he laughs. “No, I don’t like to think of myself as an animal. A lot of my best friends are bears, though.”

Marq
BOY IN THE BAND | Marquis doesn’t mind the ‘opening band’ status when he and the Scissor Sisters are opening for ‘the biggest pop star in the world.’ They just plan to find more fans.

Marquis isn’t shy, but says he is rather ordinary compared to his frontman’s explosive charisma, as seen in the recent coffee table book One Day in the Life of Jake Shears by photographer Tim Hailand. Marquis admits a book about his day just wouldn’t be all that.

“Oh, I don’t think it would be all that exciting,” he says. “I find pleasure in mundane things. I like to walk and garden. I’m not too exciting so all that would have to be staged. My extrovert is on the stage.”

If ever his stage moments are gone, Marquis is keeping his future options open.  If there is ever a post-Scissor Sisters existence outside of music, Marquis hints that it could involve design work or even shrubbery.

“I have a new idea every few months about what the future holds. It’ll always be there in a sense,” he says. “I’m constantly driven by pleasure and fulfillment and inspiration, but because music is so heavily saturating my life, I have to turn to something else as a hobby or a pleasure. So sometimes I think I might get back into design or even small business. I’m even interested in landscape architecture.”

Cooking however, is not on his list. Marquis has admitted to loving food, but don’t expect a dish from his hands.

“Yeah, I don’t cook,” he says. “I like to find boyfriends for that.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

If you’re looking for the gay connection to Grammy winner Arcade Fire, here it is

Pallett, right, with Arcade Fire in New York.

When Arcade Fire won Record of the Year at the Grammys, my Facebook and Twitter filled with “Who is Arcade Fire?” posts (whose didn’t?). Despite the band’s album The Suburbs being on practically everyone’s best-of list at the end of the year, people clearly weren’t aware who the indie band was and weren’t afraid to let the world know. That’s fine. No snobbery about it here, but if it helps some readers to relate to the band (or open their minds beyond Top 40 radio), well, here ya go:

Owen Pallett is no stranger to gay audiences. Or shouldn’t be. But while he’s creating his own lush songs, he’s also had input on all of AF’s releases and has toured as a member. Pallett contributed string arrangements to each album and has played violin on the first two as well as on tour. The last we saw of Pallett here was as an opener for the band back in October. AF member Régine Chassagne and Pallett also composed the score for The Box with Cameron Diaz.

Feel any better? No? OK, well there’s always Katy Perry.

—  Rich Lopez

UNCUT DIAMOND: Going from drab to fab, John O’Regan glams as indie boy Diamond Rings

GLAM JAM | After finding reassurance for his music at the hospital, O’Regan created Diamond Rings and is now on the road with pop singer Robyn.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

A bout with Crohn’s disease would hardly seem like a prime period of inspiration. But with a lengthy stay at the hospital and a built-in audience of doctors and nurses, John O’Regan discovered his inner Ziggy Stardust, and thus was Diamond Rings born.

Almost by accident, he’s making a sensation on many music radars and the rainbow eyeliner certainly doesn’t hinder getting attention. But don’t compare him to glam pop idol Adam Lambert.

“I don’t know too much about that dude, for sure,” he says. “Hopefully my songs are better.”

When asked if he might be the indie alternative to Lambert, O’Regan, 25, politely dismisses the idea. He understands that people want frames of reference, but he’s focused on becoming his own artist.

As the frontman of Canadian indie band The D’urbervilles, O’Regan wasn’t all that flashy, so Diamond Rings was something new for him.

“I didn’t want to be what people had seen before,” he says. “When I first started doing these shows, I was nervous in a good way. I enjoy pushing myself somewhere that I’d never been before.”

He unlocked this persona while being treated for inflammation in his GI tract. He wrote songs catering to his enamor of pop music. Although confident in his lyrics, he still wasn’t sure if he was just adding to the “clutter of music” out there. With an ever-present medical staff, he tried it out on them.

“I was going through a bit of an existential crisis, but seeing their reaction reaffirmed to me that music is for everybody, be it a garbage man or a doctor,” he says. “Realizing that gave me courage to do this.”

With pre-releases “All Yr Songs” and “Wait and See,” O’Regan received positive attention from the blogosphere and music publications. His 2010 album Special Affections lived up to hype with outlandish videos and that oh-so important music media buzz all indie musicians thrive for. Now he finds himself in his highest profile gig, opening for Robyn, who comes to Dallas Feb. 18. Is the pressure on? Not really.

“I am scaring myself a little playing on a bigger stage for new fans, but I’ve been learning so much,” he says. “To be with a performer like her who’s been making music at a high level is important for me. And fortunately, I’m surrounded by really good people.”

As for the Lambert comparison, audiences have yet to see him shave his legs and don a dress for his videos.

“It’s all coming back in slowly and not too itchy.”

But for sure O’Regan’s got Lambert beat in the guy-liner department.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Fishing with Juan

‘CRUSH’ ON YOU | Abe Vigoda ventured into electronica territory with its new album ‘Crush.’ Gay member Velasquez, second from right, hopes this might increase fans for the band — especially gay ones.

As indie band Abe Vigoda tours the country, lone gay bandmember Juan Velasquez sometimes just wants to settle down with a boyfriend

GREGG SHAPIRO  | Contributing Writer
gregg.shapiro@gmail.com

Juan Velasquez has been with Abe Vigoda since the beginning. No, he’s not the lover of venerable Fish and Godfather star Abe Vigoda, but the indie band that co-opted the actor’s name.

Velasquez is one of a growing number of out musicians who play in cool indie bands including Grizzly Bear, The Soft Pack and These Arms Are Snakes and Vampire Weekend. Crush, Abe Vigoda’s new disc, might take some of their existing fan-base by surprise, considering the (welcome) use of synthesizers and dance beats. At the same time, the band has definitely increased its potential for a larger LGBT audience.

Velasquez spoke about being the only gay in the vill… er, tour bus, and whether the actor knows about his eponymous rockers.

Dallas Voice: Were you and the other members of Abe Vigoda listening to different music than you ordinarily would have prior to recording Crush? Juan Velasquez: No, not really. It had been two years since we wrote music together. Influence-wise there’s different music that we like, stuff that we’re interested in and enjoy. I think it was a natural thing that happened. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We don’t all communally love one thing.

You said that it was a natural thing, so would you say that the sonic difference of Crush was a conscious decision or did it occur organically? Definitely organically, but it took a while. We write sporadically, usually when we’re practicing. Our drummer [Dane Chadwick] really likes dance music, so he introduced electronic elements to the band. We toyed around with them as a thing that we would be able to use and then we realized how much we liked it. It’s fun because you’re not restricted to guitars and drums. There are more things that you can use. I think we were finally more comfortable using synths.

How has the response to Crush been from longtime Abe Vigoda fans? It’s very varied. Some people just don’t get it. To me it sounds more “accessible” than other things we’ve done through the years. Some people are not so jazzed on it and some people like it. It’s not what they expected and because of that they like it. Sometimes we’ll play shows and mainly play songs from Crush and people will be like, “Why didn’t you play anything older?” I think people are still getting used to it. Even more important, people that didn’t like us before are maybe not getting into it because it’s a whole new thing and they didn’t know what we sounded like previous to this record. It’s a mixed thing, which is kind of what we expected. It never enters our mind when we’re writing what it’s going to be like on the other side of it. We just want to produce something that we like and then after that, it’s up to unknown forces whether people will be into it.

You run the risk of alienating some people, but you also stand the chance of reaching a whole new audience. Yes. For me it’s more exciting than just doing the same thing that people are going to like. I’m excited when bands change and evolve. We’ve never been a band that sticks to the exact same thing. It’s fun to try new things and push yourself.

The songwriting on Crush is credited to the band Abe Vigoda. How would you describe your role in the process of song creation in the group? It’s different for different songs. Sometimes Michael [Vidal] and I will have an idea or something we’re fiddling around with on the guitar and bring that to practice. Then everyone does their own thing on it. We generally jam together as a band. Everyone is in charge of their own instrument as far as what they contribute. Within the structure of the song, my main part is already there and we’ll work on it together. Sometimes I’m just adding something to what Michael has already laid out. We all edit each other and edit ourselves. It’s pretty democratic way of writing songs, I think.

What’s the best part of being the lone gay member of a band? [Laughs] What’s funny is that some people think everyone [in the band] is. Or they think there is one, and it’s Michael, the singer. When we’re on tour, the other guys in the band aren’t looking for girls. They’re really nice guys, which is awesome. If anyone, I’m probably the one who’s more like on the prowl [laughs]. I get really excited when I find someone else in a band who is gay because there aren’t that many of us in indie rock. Sometimes I’ll venture out (while on tour in a city) and check out the gay bars or if I have a friend in town we’ll go out and do our thing. In a way, I have a little freedom where I can go and do my own thing. I get some space away from the whole touring thing and being in close quarters with everybody.

Because they’re not going to tag along. Sometimes they do. Sometimes we’ll all go out to a gay bar. It’s a non-issue, obviously. I don’t think I could be in a band where it was an issue.

Are you aware of a contingent of LGBT fans among Abe Vigoda’s fans? I’m not aware of one if there is. Not to generalize, but we’re usually playing for kind of a straight crowd. Sometimes, someone will mention that, come up to me and say, “I’m gay, too.” But that’s rare. But I’m sure there are [gay people in the audience].

I’m not even sure people know that there’s a gay member of the band. It’s also not the focus of our music. There are some bands for whom that is the focus of their music, to be in a queer band to give voice to queer issues, even in a fun or punk way.

Like Scissor Sisters. Exactly. Or Hunx and His Punx. They definitely have a gay following, whereas we have a more mainstream indie rock following.

Does being in a touring band make it difficult to maintain a relationship? You betcha! If you would have asked me this at this time last year, I would have said, “No! I have an amazing boyfriend.” I never really until last year had a relationship or somebody that I was really excited about. It was the first time that I legitimately fell in love with someone. Before that it had been more casual. In January of last year, I was in love. We went out on tour with Vampire Weekend and then recorded Crush around this time last year. I was gone and missed him and talked to him on the phone. It felt like a relationship. It was great and exciting. Then I got home and soon after I got dumped. He didn’t enjoy that I was gone for so long. I never saw it that way. Being gone for a long time is rough on relationships, but I’d never really thought about it because I wasn’t in one. You only have a certain amount of time when you’re home to meet someone and once you get started then you have to leave again. Hopefully, I’ll meet someone who doesn’t mind that their significant other has to leave for a while. It’s definitely stressful. I don’t mean to sound like a cry-baby. I’m over it now. At the time, it was pretty shitty. Because it was something I couldn’t control. It’s my job. I’m not going to choose somebody over this.

Do you know if your namesake is aware you named your band after him? I have a pretty strong feeling that he does. One time somebody who wanted to interview us, instead of contacting [the band’s publicist], found his publicity person and messaged them. They got a response saying that it wasn’t the band’s publicist that they had reached, it was the actor’s. If his publicist knows, he knows. And he doesn’t seem to care, which is good.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Deerhunter at Granada Theater last night

The indie band Deerhunter sounded in fine form as they performed “Revival” in this video. Bradford Cox’s vocals held up nicely in all kinds of registers. They headlined a late set with three openers last night at the Granada.

—  Rich Lopez