What 'post-rehab' means for the veteran pop-rock-punk band
AUSTIN – At one point in “¡Cuatro!” – one of two Green Day films to premiere at South By Southwest -- Billie Joe Armstrong and his band are complaining about fans that request their oldest songs at their surprise, small gigs. These tiny 2012 concerts were arranged to workshop Green Day’s new tunes live, and with the abundance of material written for the recent “¡Uno!,” “¡Dos!” and “¡Tré!” trilogy albums, they wanted to play the new stuff and not the old.
SXSW red carpet interview for 'Sound City': Will Foos work with Butch Vig again?
AUSTIN -- It appears that Dave Grohl's Sound City Players gig at the South By Southwest music conference may have been its last. The all-star concerts have run concurrently with the promotion of the Foo Fighters frontman's film "Sound City," which has completed its rounds at winter and spring film festivals.
The show at Stubb's late last week was three-and-a-half hours long, with long performances from artists like Stevie Nicks and John Fogerty with the backing of Foos like Taylor Hawkins and Pat Smear and Nirvana member Krist Novoselic. The setlist to the rock show ran from old to new, and for those who have seen "Sound City," a reminder of rock 'n' roll history of laying down tape and getting performances right in the moment of recording, instead of going back and correcting it later with a piece of software.
That was the point, Grohl told me during our interview on the SXSW red carpet for the "Sound City" screener. The California rock studio couldn't survive in a world of accessible digital technology, because of the restrictions of analog.
And it's just that Grohl doesn't mind the restrictions.
'Artifact' heads to SXSW as the band heads out of the studio
AUSTIN -- Jared Leto was not only busy promoting his 30 Seconds To Mars doc "Artifact" at SXSW, but he was also getting ready to push his rock act's new song.
Leto shot the music video for "Up in the Air," the band's forthcoming new single, and was editing the clip during his visit to Austin for the film fest. In less than a day, the song will be revealed, and overall, "It's very different, it's a complete departure," the actor/musician told me on the red carpet to "Artifact."
The band last released their album "This Is War" in 2009, after warring with their label Virgin; "Artifact" is a making-of chronicle of that set and the industry conflict behind it.
Check out what else Leto had to say about the space-bound track, and what's up with the winter coat in an central Texas spring.
Copyrights are artists' big fight
AUSTIN -- If there's anybody who had a front row seat on the dismantling of the traditional music industry model, it's Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, the two founders of Napster. They put that show on. Peer-to-peer sharing indisputably was part of weakening labels, falling sales and creative disputes between artists and the companies that were supposed to support their artform, and Napster was one of the first companies to do P2P well. In turn, it was the lightning rod to the storm to come.
Fanning and Parker were on hand for the premiere of "Downloaded," a documentary on Napster, at this year's South By Southwest film conference, and further spoke of Napster's influence on today's modern industry landscape during a SXSW interactive panel. They told crowds here first-hand what it was like to be the darlings and the "criminals" of the internet era, and just what the hell they can do about it today, 14 years after Napster was founded.
Watching "Downloaded" at SXSW was like watching my own personal history. I remember scrolling through millions of available songs in the millions of free libraries and it shaped the music listener I am today. I remember Napster's various interfaces, MTVs coverage, Metallica media interviews, even the Senate hearings, but even more so, I remember the high of falling in love with new artists because a free, curated and boundless archive was an obnoxious dial-up modem sound away.
There's also that faint remembrance -- a turn of the stomach, really -- when I realized it wouldn't be this free forever, when the RIAA was suing users, when artists I liked were being hurt because contracts and monetizing systems weren't up to par. Copyrights are still the center issue today as hundreds of companies work to take chips out of iTunes' seller dominance and streaming discovery services try to break through mainstream and make their own money.
Like the hoards of music artists converging on Austin, millions of artists are online and dying to be heard. And so then there's Fanning and Parker, again, front row.
Parker is an investor and board member of Spotify (and he and Fanning are tapping another technology, Airtime, in hopes that it clicks with video consumers).
Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson and Austinites galore
AUSTIN -- The Christmas film "When Angels Sing" boasts Willie Nelson as Santa Claus; Lyle Lovett as a holiday-happy neighbor to Harry Connick, Jr.'s Scrooge, due to his unhappy Christmas past; and Kris Kristofferson as his dad, and his heart if full of the season's joy.
So, of course, the soundtrack is X-mas excellence.
The film -- shot in Austin and premiered at South By Southwest -- is as family-friendly as they come, with Connick's usual charm and easiness oozing from in between the green and red trim. The trademark seems to be Hallmark, though the film has yet to get picked up. The music won't hurt its chances: Family singalongs, a stumble into a church, caroling and a gander through Austin's hot spots (including Salt Lick, nom) provide ample opportunities for originals and Christmas classics.
Lovett has an extended acoustic jam with Kat Edmonson and Nelson gets a solo on "Amazing Grace." Connick refrains from singing in the film until a duet with Nelson on the closing credits. I especially loved the cameos from the Trishas and from Dale Watson, who give this film a particular Austin glaze that could help sell music, if not the film itself.
"Kris and Harry are great," Nelson told me of his co-stars and collaborators before the premiere. "I like good writers, good singers and good people. They don’t get any better than those guys."
A short discussion on 'We Saw Your Boobs' and giving actresses credit
AUSTIN – When Olivia Wilde stripped her clothes off in front of Jake Johnson in “Drinking Buddies,” you could hear an audible gasp in the Paramount theater during the film’s premiere at South By Southwest.
Watch the whole show, while you're at it
AUSTIN -- As you'd suspect, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs rolled out some new tunes at the South By Southwest music conference during their concert at Stubb's last night, what with their fresh album due April 16.
So they came out swatting, with the title track to the new effort, "Mosquito." Now, this song had previously made its way online from another live show this month. However, it's important to note how energetic its performance is here, how batty and aggro Karen O gets, like Siouxie and Electric 6 cramming their best ideas together.
Now imagine that going the whole show. Because it did.
The evidence is in the video below, which capturers the 55-minute show. To skip the pre-show banter from the NPR folks, fast-forward to about the 6-minute mark.
But also don't miss the performance of two brand new songs, debuts of "Subway" and "Under the Earth," which make me think that "Mosquito" may not be a slighter or leaner album, but proves the band has an expert touch on their more off-the-hinge moments, feeling more playful around their song structures. "Sacrilege" -- their current single -- features a gospel choir on tape, but that crescendo was tracked at the show, which is too bad. The choir could've been the audience, who seemed fairly well-acquainted with the track already.
Plus: Watch the trailer for the quirky comedy from the 20-year-old director
Austin's South By Southwest Film Festival is known as a friendly place for young filmmakers, their eccentric movies, and devoted movie junkies.
It may be the ideal forum to unveil the new indie comedy "Grow Up, Tony Phillips," from the Austin-based 20-year-old director Emily Hagins. The quirky, micro-budget slice-of-life comedy centers on an 18-year-old man-child who doesn't want to give up trick or treating on Halloween.
HitFix's Katie Hasty sat down with Hagins to discuss the film, and why SXSW seems to be the perfect place for "Tony Phillips" to meet the world.
Legendary artist will play Samsung party
HitFix exclusively reported on Monday that this year's SXSW was set to get a dose of Prince for the very first time, and now it's official.
Samsung has confirmed that Prince will perform at its March 16 party, closing out the sprawling Austin festival, according to Mashable.
Why does Joe Swanberg make improvised movies on women characters?
AUSTIN -- What is readily apparent from Joe Swanberg’s latest film “Drinking Buddies” is that the actors genuinely liked each other. In a press event following the film’s premiere at South By Southwest, Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick confirmed as much, and even more so.