November 2006


Bring it Back is Mates of State’s fourth album and first release on Barsuk Records and, unfortunately for me, my first exposure to the band which seems a shame because if Bring It Back is any indication I’ve missed out on a lot of wicked music.

Mates of State are the husband and wife duo of Kori Gardner (keyboards and vocals) and Jason Hammel (drums and vocals.) Because of their marital status, and like The Submarines, the unfortunate label of “cute” has been applied to them. Cute is beside the point, the point is the music. Mates of State craft wholly unique music that somehow manages to be greater than the sum of the parts.

That’s what is phenomenally intriguing about this band, despite the lack of instruments (only two voices, a set of drums, and keyboards), they manage to craft wholly textured soundscapes, sonic changes, and tempo changes that make each song completely different from any of the others. And here’s the kicker, I always thought Rock’n Roll was all about the guitar, yet I’m not missing it in the least!
My favorite track on the album is, without a doubt, “For The Actor”. It exemplifies the magic that Mates of State are capable of producing: exceptional lyrics, beautiful harmony, awesome tempo changes, and unexpected sonic changes. I absolutely love this song, and if you are new to Mates of State, I recommend that you check this track out first. If you do, you will succumb to the beautiful world that Kori and Jason have created. Other standout tracks are “So Many Ways” with Kori’s sing along melody “Nothing! And Everything!”, the decidedly Beatley “What It Means”, and the 80’s synth & drum sounds of “Fraud in the 80’s”.

Mates of State are harmony and melody packaged together in a pleasing sonic soundscape. From what I’ve read, they are also an avid touring band. Have to love a band with a solid work ethic that, I imagine, would sound as good, if not better than, they do on their studio recordings.

David Morley

Mates of State Website
Mates of State on Myspace

At what point during the shooting of Skid Row’s ‘Under the Skin’ did you and Fabio decide to make the film ‘Waking Up Dead’?

We didn’t really know what we had till a couple of years later.. Fabio had an idea of putting a movie trailer together to see if there was any interest.. Once we knew there was, him and I started the editing process, to piece together this story.. We used my personal tour footage , along with Fabio’s footage, and then we interviewed fiends and family to tie it all together.

Are there any plans to release ‘Waking Up Dead’ on DVD? If so, when can we expect it (and where can we order it)?

The DVD will be out in 07 for sure.. It will be available in all the stores, as well as online…

I have not had the pleasure of seeing ‘Waking Up Dead’ yet. Is there a moral to the story?

I guess it’s just be care full what you wish for, and if you do get your dreams, be aware of everything around you.. Your money, your friends, who you trust to handle you.. There are a lot of scum bags in the world, and they seem to surface when they can get something from you..

What advice would you give a kid with stars in their eyes? What have you learned about the great rock n roll cliche?

You will never tell a kid who want to be a rock star to stop.. It was dream of mine, and I say always try for your dreams.. Just know that statistically, you have a better chance of winning the lottery then becoming rich and famous with music.. Especially these days.. The business has changed, and radio is controlled by one company.. I remember when having a monopoly on something was illegal.. But I guess that was when we didn’t have the most corrupt government in the world ..

When did you finally realize your drug use (lifestyle in general) was a means to an end? What were the initial steps you took to get on the right track?

I just woke up , and had enough.. I called a doctor friend of mine, and he called a treatment place for me, and I started my journey… I live everyday like I can fall back to it.. You have to respect the power of drugs to say on the right path.. We are only human..

I recently read that you’re a comedian these days. Have you noticed any similarities in the backstage antics of comedians that rock n rollers are best known for?!

Oh there is no back stage antics right now.. I’m just trying to make people laugh.. I can care less about trying to get girls these days.. I did enough fucking for ten life times.. This time around , I’m staying focused on my goals, and not getting sidetracked.. I have to say, comedy, is a fun world to be in.

Tell us something about Phil Varone, that you’d like to share, that we can’t find on Google.

I wish I could but google is too good!!!!!! I will say that I’m putting my SEX STAND UP AND ROCK N ROLL SHOW on tour in 07, so look for us in a city near you..

The release of the new of Montreal album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? is just around the corner. Pre-orders ship on January 12th. The album will be in stores January 23rd.

The album art is some of the coolest I’ve seen. Thanks to You Ain’t No Picasso for the photo and the link so you can stream it before ordering it.

The vinyl version of Hissing Fauna is double 180-gram LP in a deluxe, triple-gatefold jacket w/ four bonus tracks.

As a bonus to online store customers we are releasing an exclusive CDEP Icons, Abstract Thee for mailorder only! (The EP will also be available from of Montreal on tour). Purchase the EP here.

For pre-orders, we are offering the Icons, Abstract Thee EP and Hissing Fauna together as a package for $15. Purchase the package here.

Check out the cool Holiday bundles Merge has packaged for your shopping pleasure. Does it get any better than that Spoon Full-Lengths Megabundle?!

10% off the regular online price on all full-length CDs!

Special Holiday Bundle Deals on our Holiday Sale page.

Free Merge Coasters as our special gift with every purchase.

IMPORTANT: We can not guarantee that any orders placed after Dec. 15 will arrive in time for Christmas. Please e-mail for details on expedited shipping options if you would like to ensure your order gets where it’s going in time to make someone’s spirits bright…

IMPORTANT: The Merge Online Store will be closed from December 23 – January 2nd. All Orders placed after 10 a.m. Eastern time on December 22 will not ship until January 3rd at the earliest.

Gift Wrapping in shiny Merge release posters is available, with all gift wrapping proceeds going to OXFAM and TROSA

‘Waking Up Dead’ is a 4-years-in-the-making documentary about Phil Varone, a former drummer for rock bands Saigon Kick and Skid Row. It argues the idea that life inside the music world can destroy the families, careers and the very lives of rock musicians.

I recently contacted Phil and asked him a few questions about the documentary, recovery, and what’s he’s up to these days. I will share his answers soon. In the meantime, check out the trailer posted above and visit the Waking Up Dead website.

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