We're back with the newest issue of our magazine!
Inside, we hang out with guitarist Adam Smith of UK band Temples and learn about his favorite tour memory. We meet up with Gibson's Artist in Residence, James A. Willis, at his Nashville loft and learn why he hides a pair of skeleton gloves under his rug. We speak with composer Sofia Hultquist of LA's Drum & Lace on her music and how film and fashion inspire her. We tour Rumble Seat Music and sit down with founder and owner, Eliot Micael, to chat about his favorite guitar, the '59 Gibson Les Paul Standard. We ask pastry chef, Sarah Dodge, of Atlanta's 8 Arm restaurant, which is better, waffles or pancakes? And, we've got Vol. 2 of our mixtape, plus a very special podcast with guest, Reed Turchi, on the similarities between hill country blues of north Mississippi and the desert blues of North Africa.
With mind-boggling music videos, an unmatched sound and their sophomore album, Volcano, recently hitting record shops, Temples is quickly becoming legendary in the psychedelic-rock world. Freshly arrived for their first full US tour, we hang out with Adam Smith, Temples’ guitarist and keyboardist, before their in-store performance at Grimey’s Records last month. Read our interview below for a little insight into the minds of Temples, as well as some sage advice for up-and-coming bands.
Words by Kari Leigh Ames. All photos by Emily Quirk.
How long have you been in Temples?
Since almost its inception. Me and Sam joined a little later than Tom and James—four years?
What’s your craziest tour story?
Something I don’t think I’m at liberty to divulge—this is a really tough question. This doesn’t sound crazy at all, and it’s not, but I just remembered a funny thing that happened on Mount Fuji in Japan, which was really fun. We played that festival and I remember we were doing some signing-thing-slash-press-conference and this big, sort-of huge, bug came and landed on Sam and he jumped up and started screaming and then all the people who were watching started laughing. That totally isn’t our most crazy story, but I just thought it was funny.
Did Temples have any help in inspiration for the music video “Certainty”?
Yeah! So, I think it was mostly Tom’s idea to include this J-Pop influence—their videos— because they’re just so interesting. So that’s where some of those characters came from. Then we talked to the director, Alden Volney, he had the idea of a big box with us in it. That was apparently one of his recurring nightmares or dreams, and then we sort-of collaborated back-and-forth on it.
Do you have any advice for bands who are just starting out? Anything you would tell people looking to do what you’ve done with Temples?
Just to do exactly what you want to do. Don’t compromise. If you’re lucky enough to get signed, or whatever, don’t sign a deal that would make you compromise and just do what you believe in. It’s good to keep 100% control.
Do you have any specific gear that you’re really into right now?
I’m not a really big “gear” freak, but I’ve got a new Flying V.
Oh! A Gibson?
Well, I don’t know! I actually don’t know what it is. I think it’s an Epiphone, but I need to check the serial number—it’s great. I love it. I just think they’re so silly, but once I got it, actually feels quite good, you know? It’s my go-to guitar now. Nobody told me not to, which I thought was the funniest thing, so then it sort-of stuck.
And you didn’t compromise!
No, no compromise! [laughs] Yeah. I will say that I really like [The Kinks’] Dave Davies’, he had one that is very similar.
Would you say that you have many influences that are non-musical?
Yeah, I think we work other stuff in there. I personally like poetry quite a bit and that works into the lyrics here-and-there, not too much, but yeah. And films, especially on the first album, a lot of it is sort-of cinematic. This album, not so much, but I’d say there’s definitely non-musical influences that affect our music.
Favorite venue? Would you say Mount Fuji?
I really like the Leeds Brudenell [Social] Club. It’s just a really old, working-man’s club in Leeds, England. It’s a really great venue. We’ve only played there maybe once or twice. I used to live near Leeds, so we used to go quite a lot to see bands, and it’s old-fashioned—just how a music venue should be.
Do you have any current bands that you’re into?
I’d say we’re all quite fond of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and we’re not just saying that ‘cause they’re our label mates, we really like their stuff. It’s prolific, and inventive, and I think that’s quite inspiring, and they’re really good live, as well. We saw them at Desert Daze [Festival] in California. They were headlining the stage we were playing and they were fantastic.
Thanks to Adam, James, Tom, and Sam for letting us hang out. Special thanks to Mido and the rest of the Pitch Perfect crew. And, of course, to Anna at Grimey's .
Kari Leigh Ames wears many hats. You can follow her @karileighames on Instagram to learn more.
All photos by Emily Quirk, a photographer that has been documenting the Nashville DIY scene for a decade. Find her around town, or on the internet at emilyquirk.com, Instagram @equirk, and Twitter @quirkymind.
Meet James A. Willis, Gibson's inaugural Artist in Residence and our artist of the month. Read about James' work, including his handmade instruments and motorcycles, his inspirations, and why he hides a pair of skeleton gloves under his rug. We had a blast meeting with him at his Nashville studio loft and look forward to collaborating in the future. But for now, enjoy these words. All photos by Emily Quirk.
It’s late afternoon and we’re on our way to find James Willis’ art studio in the industrial yet trendy Marathon Village, a small block of old factory warehouses turned fancy live/work spaces in Nashville. “Look for the door with the skull on it, across the street from the museum,” James yells out over the phone. We stop in Garage Coffee Co. to grab some liquid energy before we set out to find the door with a skull. I ask the baristas if they know who James Willis is. I’m met with blank stares and a shoulder-shrug, in my mind thinking who doesn’t know the man who makes art above the skull-door?
I call James again, because I’m terrible with directions, and see a man standing on a stoop waving his arms just beyond an old, rusted car. “Oh! I see you!” waving back from inside the coffee shop. He pretends to see me, while the baristas continue staring blankly. I motion to Lee and Emily, as they stand to the side watching all of this go down, and we all make our way to the other side of the street, heading toward the building across from the museum.
James Willis is an artist from New York. Originally a southern boy, growing up in Bainbridge, GA, he moved to Nashville about five years ago to work with Gibson as their first ever Artist in Residence. There, he designed custom guitars and cases inspired by his own works and heroes, including New York City, Edgar Allen Poe, and Revolutionary War soldiers. We had to meet him.
James opens the door to his art studio/loft, motioning for us to come inside, while Winnie, his dog, curiously introduces herself. He apologizes for the mess, letting us know that a film crew was just there. We pile in, single file, and notice an incredible motorcycle that James built from old, rusted parts, “The headlight is off a Model T Ford,” James says. I spot a hand-tooled raven on the leather seat, painted feathers down the body, and he hands me a set of keys complete with a handmade leather key-chain in the shape of a heart, “When I set out to build this thing for Edgar Allen Poe, I imagined what it would look like if he lived with it. So there are little references all over it.” Much like his Poe-inspired trio of Gibson guitars, James’ motorcycle is unique and artfully cool.
“I don’t even know if I’ll ever do another motorcycle again. That’s the bad thing about working the way that I do, is that I love to find new things to push myself towards, but sometimes I’ll hit a wall with it. If the next step is becoming some great motorcycle builder, it’s not a step that I want to take. It’s not about building a motorcycle, it’s about making something,” James explains. We quickly realize his desire for making is contagious. Everything around us has his personal touch. “I live off of what I make, off my art,” James says while leading us upstairs.
“That’s one of my New York paintings. So, that’s kind-of what I’m known for. That’s what brought me to Nashville, really. Gibson reached out to me. I was the first ever Artist in Residence,” recalls James. He came to Nashville for Gibson and didn’t want to leave, “I’ve just been doing a lot of different stuff since then. I worked on an artist residence basis for Tom Bedell who owns Breedlove guitars and designed for him. Last year, I lived with Zac [Brown] in Atlanta just doing stuff for him. He graciously supported me to make—all kinds—paintings, custom guitar cases, designing stuff for camp, I wrote the book. It’s all new for me.” James just finished his second book, a graphic novel, for Atlanta musician Zac Brown and is currently drawing up blueprints for art installations at Camp Southern Ground, Zac Brown's camp giving children of all abilities the opportunity to experience art and the outdoors. You can also find James' custom painted guitar cases at Carter Vintage in Nashville.
In Nashville, James has found new inspiration for his work, “I’m obsessed with power lines. In New York I was going off of water towers. I painted the city in all sorts of different ways but people always wanted a water tower. So, I think when I got down to Nashville I started doing power lines. I never thought about why I was doing that and I don’t get caught up in doing them exactly, I just let it happen.” Looking out of his loft window through the paned-glass, there are power lines criss-crossing from all directions. “A friend of mine asked me why I thought I did it. And I just answered him, the ‘Folly of Man.’ You see these gorgeous crazy sunsets and this wild sky—it’s weird—to me it draws a great difference in the picture of how much effort we go through to try to do things. They both need each other,” James explains.
That’s where his mind is. Thinking of the “Folly of Man” as we tip-toe around his handmade instruments and relics. All of James’ art and gadgets reflect one another; his motorcycle downstairs inspires a still-life on an easel upstairs, needing a new seat inspires him to experiment with hand-tooling a leather one, playing the guitar inspires him to build his own. It all may seem like carefully crafted, spontaneous efforts to fill a void, but, rather, each project builds off the other. “I like to get to the point where I’ve executed my thought but that I’m not executing somebody else’s idea of what my thought should be. You know? This is what I want to make. I’m trying to keep it sculpture,” James says of his handmade instruments.
“The adventure part of it definitely is what drives me. It’s not about acquiring stuff.” James says, his eyes wandering over to a painted pair of gloves in a glass case. We ask about them, “You don’t know the story about [these]?” he asks half-smirking, half-disbelief. We shake our heads. “Okay, good, I probably didn’t have to hide the actual pair,” as he lifts up the rug in his living room. “So, the thing is, those are the original pair, that I stole back” pointing to the painted gloves in the case. “Those are about twenty years old. I paint my own bones on my gloves. As the gloves start to get old, because they’re varnished, they bend at my knuckles. So they look crazy, creepy. So, all of a sudden, I’d be missing—I’d have two left gloves, two right gloves, and it got to the point where I was just losing so many gloves. About a year after that, [my wife and I] were at somebody’s house and there on the shelf on a little stick were a pair of my gloves. That started a game, if I see you stealing my gloves, you can’t take them. But, If I don’t see you take them…” We all laugh.
We wander back over to the front of the studio, “I know I paint a lot of skulls, but I think I do that for the same reason why I paint the sky. We’ve all got one. If I paint an old dude playing the guitar, it’s got all sorts of connotations with it. If I just paint a skeleton sitting there, people see what they want to see without thinking I’m trying to make some sort of broader statement. Like, this piece I just did. This is the first block print I’ve done in a while,” James says while picking up the block, “I don’t know why I like them so much, I’m not into horror movies or any of that stuff. I don’t ever look at it and see ‘creepy.’ I worry that some people think it comes across that way."
James’ excitement as he moves through his loft full of his work is without bound. He picks up one trinket to tell a story as soon as he puts another down. His eyes wild with what he wants to work on next. “Canvas is the church to me,” he says, “Only time I’m painting on canvas is if I’m at church. I’ll paint on dollars, I”ll paint on everything, nothing is sacred but canvas.” We ask where we can see more of his work, “You can’t really see my work anywhere, unless you know me,” speaking like a true artist. “I’m trying to change that.”
James Willis is a guy you want to hang with. Aside from his colorful stories, interesting artifacts, and quest for adventure, his imagination and positivity will shake you to your core. “It’s easy to make something look fancy with paint, you just paint it really neat, but at some point it becomes what’s the point of doing that? You’re just showing off that you can paint. And that’s not what I’m interested in doing,” James explains. He paints because he’s a maker, and always will be. —LE
Meet Eliot Michael, owner of Rumble Seat Music, a premium vintage guitar store in Nashville. We're honored to have been invited to sit down with Eliot and talk about his passion for the guitar, history of the shop, and the "hunch" that keeps his dream alive. We've also got a compelling history lesson and fun facts on the inimitable '59 Les Paul Standard. Words by Desmond Smith.
It’s the first of March, and I am on my way to meet up with Eliot Michael, owner of Rumble Seat Music in Nashville, TN. We’ve arranged for a little get-together to talk about his shop and lifelong relationship with the guitar. I am, admittedly, a little excited, and also very hopeful that he’s going to present a particularly valuable Gibson guitar from the late 1950s as an example of where it all started for him.
Eliot Michael grew up in Brooklyn, New York. It has been a number of years since he last lived there, but he has not forgotten how to sound like he’s from the city—his accent is hypnotic. I could have sat next to him and listened to him talk all afternoon, and part of me really wanted to. He’s a busy guy, though, these days. Since moving all three of his Rumble Seat locations to the store in Nashville, the staff is selling more guitars than ever. Ricky Sanchez, one of Rumble Seat’s guitar experts explains, “We’re finally in a location that has a music scene, and a ton of really great local players.”
Eliot Michael knows guitars. He’s been playing guitar professionally since the age of 16, when he first left home. That’s also around the time he bought his first 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard. For a lot of guys growing up in the late 1950s, and through the 1960s, seeing Elvis Presley playing guitar on TV and in movies was “cool,” Eliot recalls, “But seeing the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones on the Ed Sullivan show, that’s what really knocked me out.” By 1968, he was catching bands like the Jeff Beck Group, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix, at the famous Fillmore East. It wasn’t long after witnessing these performances that Eliot decided to quit school to start his own career as a professional musician. That leap-of-faith would take him all over the world playing guitar for nearly twenty years before retiring in the mid 1990s. It wasn’t just the rock and roll bands on TV or the ones he saw at the Fillmore East, there was a guitar that also “knocked him out” all those years ago, too.
Eliot’s brother had a friend who played guitar, “He played in churches all over Brooklyn, and it was the first time I ever saw a Gibson Les Paul Standard with a flamey top. It was my dream guitar, and it still is.” Back then, a Gibson Les Paul from the late 1950s wasn’t exactly the rarest guitar on the block, but it was nowhere near as common as seeing a Fender guitar from the same era. There just weren’t that many “bursts” that were made to begin with. “Everyone wanted one,” recalls Eliot. “It was the guitar to have, especially if you were playing electric blues and rock and roll.” It was 1970 when Eliot bought his very first 1959 Standard. His brother's friend had quit playing guitar and was playing flute. Eliot remembers, “He just had the guitar at home in a closet. So I gave him $300 bucks for it and the deal was done.” This would prove to be a life-changing event for him.
The end of World War II saw one of the greatest technological shifts in factory production that the world has ever seen. Men and women all over America were enjoying a rapidly growing economy, steady employment, and a renewed sense of purpose. The musical landscape was also changing. Throughout the 1940s and ‘50s, music was getting louder, bigger, and becoming more commercially available than ever before. Radio was enormously popular and by the 1950s, and television was taking American households by storm.
Throughout the 1930s and ‘40s, hollowbody guitars were commonly outfitted with pickups along with the rise of amplified music. However, these early electric guitar models could only be turned up to a certain volume before they would begin to squeal and howl. Inventors like Paul Bigsby, Leo Fender, and Les Paul were all working on their own versions of a solid-body guitar. By 1950, Fender had introduced his Telecaster model, and Gibson was working with Les Paul to create a solid-body guitar that would have his name on the headstock. Les would be the guitar’s ambassador—a walking, talking, guitar-playing, marketing campaign. He would also contribute to several of its design features, most notably, its gold color.
Though it was officially introduced in 1952 as the Gibson Les Paul model, it would take a few years for the guitar to come full-circle. The mid 1950s “Goldtop” model would go through several changes that would include the removal of the trapeze tailpiece for a more stable stop-bar tailpiece, and the eventual addition of the Tune-O-Matic bridge. In 1957, with the help of Seth Lover, Gibson introduced a revolutionary pickup design, replacing the guitars stock P-90 pickups with Patent-Applied-For humbuckers.
By the summer of 1958, the Gibson Les Paul model was getting yet another make-over. It would now feature a gorgeous flamed maple top that would officially replace its traditional gold finish. In 1959, the Standard would adopt a slightly thinner neck, but with larger fret wire, making the guitar a much more “playable” instrument. These are some of the key features that make 1959 models the most sought after. However, much to Gibson’s surprise, they were not selling very well, and by the end of 1960 the Les Paul model was all but replaced with Gibson’s radically designed SG model. In total, an estimated number of 1,600 Gibson Les Paul Standards shipped from 1958 to 1960.
The Gibson Les Paul was perhaps a few years too early, too futuristic, too ahead of its time. It was initially intended for Jazz guitarists, but had found popularity among blues guitar players in the ‘50s. This would later become a direct correlation of the models’ rejuvenated popularity throughout the mid-1960s, and what would eventually cause this sacred guitar to skyrocket in price and collectability.
In 1964, a very young and dapper looking Keith Richards appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, equipped with a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard complete with an added Bigsby vibrato unit. Richards fondly remembers seeing pictures of American blues musicians Freddie King and Hubert Sumlin wielding Les Paul guitars from the mid-1950s, which undoubtedly inspired him to get his own. That now iconic, colorful image of Keith and his 1959 Standard from the Sullivan performance will be forever associated with the guitar’s mystical appeal.
By 1965, Michael Bloomfield was seen using a Les Paul Standard that was on loan to him. He was clearly aware of what the guitar could do and was on the prowl to find one for himself. Just over the pond a young guitarist by the name of Eric Clapton, was revolutionizing heavy blues and rock guitar sounds with a flamely Les Paul Standard, and this would only be the beginning. In 1967, Bloomfield finally acquired a very flamely 1959 Standard that he bought from his buddy Dan Erlewine, and would go on to use it throughout his time with The Electric Flag. In 1969, Jimmy Page bought a 1959 Burst at the behest of American guitarist Joe Walsh.
Those late 1950s Gibson Les Paul models were becoming an overnight sensation among professional guitar players. Back at Rumble Seat, Eliot remembers fondly, “We just knew they were special. We knew that something really great was going on with them. They had the magic—most of them did anyway—about 98% of them are really great.”
Eliot Michael would know. He’s owned close to thirty of these guitars over his lifetime as a guitar player and vintage guitar dealer. Most people are lucky if they even get to see a ‘59 in person, let alone the opportunity to play one. These days, you have to be in a whole other tax bracket to own one. Really good examples can fetch upwards of $350,000. That’s basically the equivalent of deciding whether to buy a really nice house, or a really nice guitar.
Back in the early 1980s, Eliot had a hunch that the vintage guitar market was going to become a “thing.” And so he got in when the getting was good, “You could go out on the road and visit mom-and-pop guitar shops and buy really great, old guitars, and hardly pay anything for them. And back then there was no internet, so people would just sell them for whatever they had paid for them back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. No one really knew back then that those old guitars were going to become so valuable,” explains Eliot.
It’s been a long journey, and Eliot Michael has seen his share of ups-and-downs. He still loves the guitar more than anything, and he loves seeing how happy it makes people to find a guitar that will bring them so much joy and inspiration. He’s played a very important role in helping a lot of musicians and collectors find the guitar of their dreams. Guys like Joe Bonamassa and Brian Setzer are long-time friends and customers of Rumble Seat, and Eliot takes a lot of pride in cultivating those kinds of relationships.
The next time you’re in Nashville, be sure to stop by his store at 1805 8th Ave S, and say, “Hello” to Eliot and his wonderful staff. You can also check them out online at rumbleseatmusic.com.
Desmond is a professional guitar tech and Original Fuzz's secret weapon from Tupelo, Mississippi. He currently resides in East Nashville, TN. Catch him on the road, or in our shop, and follow him on the internet at @desmachine.
This month we talk to Sofia Hultquist, a composer that writes and creates music for film, fashion, and media, of LA based band Drum & Lace. Hailing from Florence, Italy, Sofia's childhood was filled with a love for the classical arts. Read about how this shapes her sound in her film scoring and current project, which just released, an EP called Midnight Roses. Be on the lookout for an audio/visual gallery show in Los Angeles scheduled for late April/early May and follow along on social media @drumandlace to stay up to date!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Florence, Italy. When I was young, I was really lucky that my paternal grandmother was a lover of classical piano, so she essentially signed me up for classes as soon as I started junior school. Because I grew up in a city known for its visual art and history, definitely not for being very avant garde, I think that it inspired me to find music that was different as a way to do something that wasn’t as classic as all the art around me.
Where did you spend your "coming of age years?" How did that influence you as an artist?
I spent my early ones still in Florence, until I left to go to Boston for college. The art that I grew up around has definitely affected my aesthetic so much more than I give it credit for. I think that as much as Florence wasn’t very music-friendly, it forced me to start experimenting things on my own and, in a way, didn’t box in my creativity. Also, going clubbing on the weekends in high-school definitely instilled a sense of dance music from early on that I still carry with me today.
Did you have any formal study with learning to play?
I started playing piano around seven and started taking voice lessons a few years later, after years of self-training. When I hit high school, I speedily traded in the piano for a guitar and drums and have continued jumping around since then.
Who were your main early influences?
There were so many, both great and regrettable. My first two CDs were Jagged Little Pill and Magic Kingdom and they were so formative. I also went through a huge 60s/70s rock phase (Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Who, Rolling Stones) before discovering The Bends, OK Computer, and Homogenic, and that changed everything.
What was your first instrument?
I was lucky enough to have a piano at my grandmother’s house, but my first instrument, I think, was an old-school Yamaha electric keyboard, the type they have in schools. That was the first of many keyboards and instruments. Right now, I have a mix of all sorts of things that help me with my scoring and composing. In terms of MIDI, my go-to these days is the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49. That has been great both in the studio and live. We have a ton of analog synths in our studio that serve different purposes, but my favorites are probably the Prophet 6 and Tempest (drum machine) both from Dave Smith Instruments. Lately, I’ve also been using the OP1 from Teenage Engineering, and the Future Sonus Parva to fill out my sessions. In terms of guitars, my (also composer) husband is the guitar player of the house, and has an array of guitars including a ’62 Gibson Barney Kessel and ’62 Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster Reissue.
What is your favorite recording setup like?
My recording setup has been pretty constant lately. I’ve been using and loving the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre as my main interface and it’s been great, so far. Although I’m guilty of using a lot of plug-ins, the studio also has a bunch of great preamps, like the Neve Portico 5017 (super portable too) and other outboard gear like the Kush Electra. Microphone-wise, on the lower end, I always have my portable Zoom H4N for field recordings, and an SM57/58 around for general recording. Lately we’ve been able to borrow a Flea M49 from a friend that has made vocals, strings and, more-or-less, anything else sound fantastic. All of the above was just used on an EP I released last month called Midnight Roses.
Do you have an opinion regarding analog vs. digital recording? What is your stance on it?
I feel like I hold equal love and respect for both. If I had the time to always work with analog, then that would be wonderful. But because so many projects I work on have fast turnarounds, and very often various revisions, it just makes sense to work with digital. When it comes to synths, analog is the way to my heart.
What is your favorite studio?
My two favorites have to be Little Twig Studios (our studio) and Diamond City Studio (once called Gigantic Studio) in Tribeca, NYC. Little Twig is where nearly all of my recording nowadays happens, and what’s great about it is that my husband and I essentially built it together from scratch, and it’s in our backyard making it super convenient! Diamond City Studio is a really wonderful space that sounds great and feels really cozy and familiar. I wish I had more excuses to go to NYC so I could record there.
What is your writing process?
I get extremely inspired by visuals—these can be anything from a mood-board, to a color palette, or video. This is one of the primary reasons why I love working with fashion and with film, as they are both very visual and, in fashion’s case, tactile mediums. The writing process is slightly different every time. Most of it is also dependent on whether I’m writing something for myself, or if I’m writing for a specific visual project, and in that case, whether there is something available to write for.
What are you currently working on / any new releases in the works?
I released my latest EP of my own music, Midnight Roses, last month, which I’m really excited about as it allows for me to ground and grow my own personal sound and aesthetic. In terms of scoring and fashion projects, I just finished a sound design-based score for a short movie for Opening Ceremony that touches on LGBTQ Muslims in NYC, directed by Lee O’Connor.
What is in your record player today?
A friend of mine took me to a Brazilian record sale a while back, and I found some really amazing old Brazilian Samba and folk records that have been on pretty heavy rotation lately as they have such a great energy and vibe.
Where's the best place people can find more information about Drum & Lace?
The Five Minutes With series is brought to you by Stephanie Nicole Smith, a visual artist and make up artist in Los Angeles, CA. You can find her work at stephanienicolesmith.com and follow her @stephanienicolesmith.
This month our resident advice columnist, Mark Harrod, investigates which breakfast delight is superior, waffles or pancakes. He brings guest, Sarah Dodge, pastry chef of Atlanta's 8 Arm, along for the ride. Discover their musings below!
Got a question for Mark? Throw it in the pile for next month's issue here.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Thanks for writing in, Ralph. Waffles are definitely the better breakfast option. In a rare moment of self-doubt after reading your question, I decided to check in with an expert resource to confirm what I’m thinking. Sarah Dodge is the very talented pastry chef of Atlanta restaurant 8 Arm. She has more knowledge about breakfast breads than I ever will, so I leaned on her.
Photo by Mia Yakel
Mark: Sarah, one of my "readers" has asked which is better— waffles or pancakes? I take waffles ALL DAY, but in a moment of doubt, I had to reach out to you. Am I right?
Sarah: Waffles 110%. First of all, waffle batter usually contains more fat (hopefully butter fat), which gives you that light texture with the crispy exterior. Also, let’s be honest, waffles are just more interesting pancakes with little pockets for your melted butter and syrup to get rest until devoured. Finally, waffles are way more fun to make savory. The are also way better to use as sandwich bread—to make WAFFLE SANDWICHES!!!
Mark: Hey, while I’ve got you here, can I ask you a couple more questions?
Sarah: If you must.
Mark: Are scones just biscuits that have been left on the counter for a couple days to get tough-‘n-crumbly?
Sarah: [laughter] No. I’m actually really sensitive about this. [stomps foot, shakes fist, and says, “Dammit”] A biscuit is tender and flaky, whereas a scone should be tender but CRUMBLY. Scones are meant to be consumed with a hot beverage and clotted cream/jam combo. To achieve that texture, while the ingredients in both the biscuit and scone are similar, it’s the ratios that are different. Lower fat content in the form of butter first and then cream/buttermilk is used to achieve a dryer [cough, cough]—crumblier texture. Obviously, some bakeries miss the mark and go too dry which is not fun for anyone.
Photo by Sarah Dodge
Mark: Do you think McDonald’s expanding their limited breakfast menu beyond 10:30 AM is a good thing for America?
Sarah: This one is tough for me. I currently find myself in direct competition with McDonald’s producing a sandwich at 8 Arm called, “THE McMUFF”, AKA “THE MUFF.” My mother calls me “Muff” which is so special, especially in public, but it is fitting for the sandwich as we make our English Muffins in house and the sandwich is just so perfect in it’s simplicity and flavor. With all this said, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to get a McFlurry and a McMuffIN (distinction here is important) at the same McTime—so yeah, you do you McDonald’s. I think America will appreciate it.
Mark: Sarah, I am going to hyperventilate if you tell me about one more breakfast sandwich you are serving at 8 Arm. To give myself a break here, more than anything else—what's your favorite 90's country song?
Sarah: I have to pick one????? WTF. I feel like Garth was going through something really moody and wonderful in the 90’s.
Mark: Indeed he was.
"Standing Outside the Fire” spoke to me quite a bit. Shania Twain also really got me. “Who’s Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” was a really wonderful attempt at catchy alliteration.*
*Mark note—did you catch what all those morons ignoring Shania Twain were eating in the video? Pancakes.
Finally, Tim’s “Where the Green Grass Grows” was definitely what I thought my adult life would look like, but yeah, that life is only for lyrics.
Mark: I've caught my breath, so switching back to breakfast— I very much like croissants, but the Youtube instructional videos I've watched make them seem like a massive pain to make at home. The shortcut dough that comes from those cardboard toilet paper roll thingies in the refrigerated section of the grocery store clearly isn't the solution. On a scale of one to ten, with ten representing the difficulty of eating a large, lava-hot bowl of soup while driving, how difficult is it to make croissants?
Sarah: On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 20. Just don’t do it.
Mark: Is there anything else that is more trouble than it's worth to make at home? Doughnuts?
Sarah: I would say bread, not because it's hard, but because people tend to not have patience, and give up, and make bad decisions, and then take photos of crappy made-from-scratch bread. They're so frustrated and give it a bad name, then they spread that bad name. Bread requires a lot of patience and understanding of what’s going on at each stage. If you're not a patient person, and not looking to work on that in yourself, just don't make bread at home.
Photo by Sarah Dodge
Mark: Your Instagram @sedodge has beautiful photos of food. What's one thing I can do to improve my food photography?
Sarah: Bring your own light box—just kidding— but, seriously, don't take photos of things when it's dark. If you can barely see it, then folks looking at your photo aren't going to see it either.
Mark: Okay, I've wasted enough of your time—how about some quick questions to end with? Chocolate or Vanilla?
Mark: Lemon or Lime?
Mark: Favorite Beatle?
Mark: Favorite band from Georgia?
Mark: Pound cake or cheesecake?
Sarah: Pound cake.
Mark: Crêpes: Bon ou mauvais?
Sarah: Meh, but bon.
Mark: If you are hungry and stuck in a shopping mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas, do you get an Auntie Anne's pretzel, a Great American Cookie Company Cookie, or a Cinnabon?
Sarah: Hands down, Great American Cookie Co. I live for that M&M cookie life.
Mark is a former lawyer who lives in Nashville. If you see a guy that looks like a former lawyer in Germantown, feel free to say, "Hi." You can also find him on the internet at basketofchips.com and @cmharrod.
Here's our latest mixtape of songs you can't live without. Play loud.
Our LA friend and Five Minutes With contributor, Stephanie Nicole Smith, knows music. We met her in Brooklyn when she booked bands for Glasslands, back in the day, and dig her style. So, we let her pick the music.
NBC's Al Roker visited Nashville to learn the process of cutting a record and some of our pals were lucky enough to demonstrate how it's done! Ranch Ghost and their Fuzz straps were featured on The Today Show recording live to acetate at Third Man Records. Andy and Josh are wearing straps from our Peruvian collection. Pretty cool.
Check out the segment below.
Cover image of Ranch Ghost by Jamie Goodsell.
It's finally here and we're so excited!
Announcing our silkscreen guitar strap and camera strap collection! This collection has been in the works since we moved to our new location last summer. Our beloved neighbors and good friends at Grand Palace Silkscreen Co. have teamed up with us to create the first of many straps in this new collection. Designed and printed by Bingham Barnes and Matt Sharer, talented designers of Grand Palace, these straps are a work of art.
We paired these unique textiles with our classic cotton backing, vintage-style hardware and durable leather end-tabs. We couldn't be more proud with this collaboration and know that these straps will complement your creative pursuits. At $65, these straps will look good and last a long time. Grab a piece of the Fuzz evolution.
We're throwing in the towel because we've officially made it! Jeff King, the guitarist for Reba McEntire, wore his Peruvian Fuzz strap in Kurt Vile while performing on the Today Show earlier this month. Reba Mac and the band played, "God And My Girlfriends," off her new gospel album Sing It Now: Songs Of Faith & Hope. Pretty cool.
Check it out. Just kidding about "throwing in the towel," we're not quitters!