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Chris Shiflett is best known as the guitar player for the Foo Fighters—but he’s been spending an increasing amount of time writing and performing country music.

His solo country project, Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants, will be playing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, March 30. During a recent phone interview, Shiflett talked about the recording of his third country album, West Coast Town, slated for release on April 14.

“I made it last summer out in Nashville,” Shiflett said. “I went out there and worked with a producer named Dave Cobb. He’s been a producer for things I’ve been a big fan of, like Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and a lot of other stuff. It was a pretty different experience for me. The way Dave Cobb operates is a bit different than how I’ve made records in the past. It’s a good effect.”

Shiflett explained his newfound interest in country music.

“It was just like anything else. It was a slow progression,” he said. “You like one thing, and it sort of leads you down the rabbit hole. I think once you start playing with people who are into playing the same thing you’re into, you start getting turned on to music you might have missed. I just wasn’t around or even really paying attention to it.”

While his solo country records are unlikely to bring him significant mainstream success, Shiflett said he enjoys making them.

“All I hope with each record that I do is that it gets more out there and gets me established a little more,” he said. “I don’t kid myself that this is a mainstream record that’s going to be getting airplay in mainstream outlets. We’ll see what happens. All I want to do is just keeping making records.

“I guess my dream was always to play music one way or another. But when I was a little kid, I never imagined myself being Eddie Van Halen, or even Buck Owens. Things change as you get older. In a way, I feel like I’m starting over with this record. I feel like this was an important record for me to make, given the last one was mostly cover tunes, and it had been awhile since I made an album of originals. I felt like I had to make a statement with this record, and I really dug deep and wrote the best songs I’ve ever written and made the best record I’ve ever made, as far as my solo stuff.”

Did Shiflett listen to country music at all while he was growing up?

“Not at all,” he said. “I had older brothers, and I pretty much listened to their records. We were just little hard-rock kids—‘70s and ‘80s classic rock was more along the lines of what was going on in my house when I was growing up.”

I asked Shiflett about his favorite country record. “That’s a tough one. There are just so many … probably something by Merle Haggard or Buck Owens. I really like that West Coast honky-tonk stuff going on during the mid-to-late ’60s.”

His most recent solo album, All Hat and No Cattle in 2013, included a cover of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”

“That’s an interesting song. I remember being fascinated by that song, because that song is like the ultimate in songwriting to me: It is literally just two chords. It literally never changes. There’s no chorus, and it’s not even that hook-y, really,” Shiflett said. “There’s just something about that song that gets people moving. When you play that song live, it always gets the dance floor moving. They just start grooving on the floor. That’s a really difficult thing to achieve, and you really have to hand it to Waylon Jennings and whomever he was playing with at the time. If you really listen to that song, it’s simplistic in arrangement. … It goes back and forth and tells that great story. You can’t miss that groove. I love playing that song live, because you can stretch it on forever. Everybody gets a solo. Bass solo! Drum solo! Everybody gets a solo!”

I asked him if he’s felt like the Foo Fighters have ever incorporated any sort of country into their sound. After all, the band recorded a song with Zac Brown on its most recent record, Sonic Highways, and has seemingly included some country elements here and there.

“I think if you were to ask Dave (Grohl) that question, he’d say no,” Shiflett said. “But the thing about country music and rock ’n’ roll is that they’re pretty closely related, style-wise, especially in modern country music. I don’t think those genres have a whole bunch of space between them, personally. But I don’t think the guys in the Foo Fighters listen to a lot of country. Maybe it’s seeped in there somehow, but I don’t know how overt that would be.”

I mentioned the country-sounding song “Keep It Clean” that the band performed on a flatbed truck in Kansas City, Mo., in 2011 outside of a concert venue. The intended audience: Westboro Baptist Church members who were protesting their show.

“Ah, yeah. I guess you got it there,” he said, laughing. “No denying it on that one.”

Shiflett is no stranger to Pappy and Harriet’s, having played there in the past, and he said he’s excited about his upcoming show there.

“I just love Pappy and Harriet’s. I always tell people it’s one of my favorite venues in the whole wide world,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad show there. It’s always great, and always make us feel welcome. They always take care of us. Whether it’s playing our own shows or playing at the Campout with Camper Van Beethoven, it’s always a good time out there. There’s something about that room and that location that makes sense with this kind of music.”

Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants will perform with Brian Whelan at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 30, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $10 to $12. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

You’re the Worst (FX): Like the equally surprising Broad City, You’re the Worst shattered preconceptions of the “edgy” cable comedy with smarts, heart, bracing moments of relationship realism (and outright debauchery), and a fearless cast led by relative unknowns Chris Geere and Aya Cash. No worries that the Toxic Twosome and gang are moving to FXX this year … right?

The Bridge (FX): Apparently, FX can only sustain so many quality dramas: The Bridge was canceled after a low Season 2 turnout, and those who did show up were treated to a Tex-Mex stew that was a little overcooked—yet it was still better than most crime dramas.

The Strain (FX): Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampires-bent-on-world-domination tale transitioned from novel to TV series with only a few bumps and a whole lotta scares (not counting Corey Stoll’s hairpiece), and reclaimed bloodsuckers from the glam universes of Twilight and True Blood.

Ray Donovan (Showtime): His sketchy character’s name is the title, and star Liev Schreiber did his damndest to take the show back from father figure Jon Voight in Season 2, mostly succeeding while taking on a twisted new FBI antagonist (Hank Azaria, killing it).

Masters of Sex (Showtime): There’s no power couple on television as compelling and confounding as Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), and they’re barely “together,” in any sense. Was anything easy in the ’50s? Besides Virginia? (Rim shot.)

Welcome to Sweden (NBC): This Swedish import turned up on NBC’s summer schedule seemingly by accident, a subdued and charmingly awkward comedy that should have no place on an American network—and yet it worked fantastically. Watch for Welcome to Sweden when it “accidentally” comes around again.

Garfunkel and Oates (IFC): Musical-comedy duo Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are no Flight of the Conchords—they’re better, at least when it comes to song quantity and lack of indecipherable New Zealand accents. For Garfunkel and Oates, TMI means both Too Much Information and Touching Musical Interludes.

Outlander (Starz): Starz finally acknowledged that women watch TV—and then told them they’d have to wait six months for the second half of their new favorite Scottish bodice-ripper. Spartacus never would have stood for this.

The Knick (Cinemax): In yet another instance of indie-film directors realizing that television is where it’s at, Steven Soderbergh directed this 10-part oddity about a doped-up doc (Clive Owen) at the precipice of modern medicine—he’s House 1900, with a premium-cable license to shock.

Doctor Who (BBC America): Peter Capaldi. That is all.

Bojack Horseman (Netflix): A former sitcom star man-horse (voiced by Will Arnett) and his slacker roommate/squatter (Aaron Paul) get turnt up and knocked down in Hollywood. It’s Californication: The Cartoon.

Sons of Anarchy (FX): The seventh and final season of Hamlet on Harleys was overwrought, overindulgent and over-the-top—and you expected, what? For all his faults, showrunner Kurt Sutter is still a passionate storyteller, and the finale of Sons of Anarchy was a fittingly chaotic closer that tied up (almost) all of the loose ends. Time to retire the patch and the musical montage.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): It’s not the Andy Samberg Show; it’s one of the best ensemble comedies on TV, something Fox is nailing better than anyone these days. Witness …

New Girl (Fox): By no logic should New Girl be this good in Season 4, but Zooey Deschanel and crew have become a fuzzy juggernaut of funny that still manages to surprise every week, putting one-note sitcoms like The Bang Theory and, well, every other half-hour on CBS to shame.

Gotham (Fox): Batman without Batman? Yeah, it’s working.

The Blacklist (NBC): James Spader’s “Red” Reddington is one of the best villain-heroes (villo?) ever, and Season 2 of The Blacklist has found his FBI foil Lizzy (Megan Boone, finally free of the wig) stepping up her game, if not her crazy. And kudos for selling Pee-Wee Herman (!) as an underworld “fixer.”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Season 2 has introduced real danger and consequences for the agents, as well as Marvel-flick-worthy action and effects. Stop asking, “When’s Iron Man gonna show up?” and just get onboard, already.

Black-ish (ABC): Anthony Anderson’s TV resume (Law and Order, Treme, The Shield) didn’t indicate that he could head up a family comedy, but new sitcom Black-ish—I know, dumb title—is more consistently funny than Modern Family is now, thanks to strong assists from Tracee Ellis Ross and, yes, Laurence Fishburne.

The Flash (The CW): The sunny answer to Arrow (seriously—is it never daytime over there?) is the most comic-booky of all DC Comics adaptations, and the most fun.

Jane the Virgin (The CW): Usually, “Golden Globe-nominated” means nothing—but Jane the Virgin is the first CW show to ever score a nom! That’s also the first time I’ve ever used the term “nom.” Firsts all around, here.

The Walking Dead (AMC): Team Rick is on the road, finding new places to explore and more people (zombie or not) to kill—less talk and more rock makes for a more entertaining apocalypse; hopefully, they won’t slow down when Season 5 resumes in February 2015.

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (HBO): Idiotic Foo-hater rhetoric notwithstanding, Dave Grohl’s Great American Music Roadtrip uncovered gems even the most hardcore music geek wouldn’t be aware of. Real people playing real instruments writing real songs—embrace it while you still can.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX): The best elements of three previous seasons came together on No. 4, Freak Show, along with more gorgeous cinematography, more sympathetic characters and more Jessica Lange than expected. The early loss of Twisty the Clown seemed like a misstep, but the rest of this season has been perfect.

Benched (USA): With no hype besides airing after the craptastic Chrisley Knows Best, new comedy Benched, about a former corporate attorney (Happy Endings’ Eliza Coupe) slumming it in the public defender’s office, managed to crank out 12 hilarious episodes this winter—and no one even noticed.

The Birthday Boys (IFC): The sketch-comedy troupe relied more on themselves than producer Bob Odenkirk (who was presumably busy making Better Call Saul) in Season 2; the result was a hysterical collection of bits with callbacks and intertwining gags galore. (Fast-food spoof “How Do You Freshy?” is an instant classic.) It ain’t Mr. Show, but it’s as close as anyone’s come in years.

The Comeback (HBO): The first season nine years ago was merely uncomfortable; The Comeback’s out-of-the-blue comeback was borderline torturous—in the funniest possible way. Lisa Kudrow’s depiction of fame-junkie desperation is so masterful, you have to wonder why anybody’s even paying attention to Jennifer Aniston.

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce (Bravo): Bravo’s first foray into (overtly) scripted programming is not only not terrible; it’s actually pretty great. How the hell did this happen?

Mike Tyson Mysteries (Adult Swim): Whatever drugs were responsible for the creation of this … thank you.

Published in TV

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (Friday, Oct. 17, HBO), series debut: If you’re new to The Only TV Column That Matters™, you should know that I like my music played and produced by humans—loudly, with electric guitars and minimal artificial sweeteners. In what’s left of the pop mainstream, Foo Fighters are the last band standing who fit that bill, and bless frontman-turned-director Dave Grohl for flying the rock ’n’ roll flag every opportunity he gets. Sonic Highways is an extension of Grohl’s Sound City doc, following the Foos to eight iconic studios in eight cities as they record and soak up local musical history at each stop. (Grohl even sits down with President Barack Obama in the Washington, D.C., episode, because, well, he can.) Grab any kid who thinks an iPad is a recording studio and Auto-Tune is an indispensable engineering tool, and make him watch Sonic Highways. (Scroll down to see the trailer.)

Transporter: The Series (Saturday, Oct. 18, TNT), series debut: Personally, I would have preferred Crank: The Series (and I have a spec script, potential investors), but a serialized take on Jason Statham’s Transporter franchise makes more sense. The lead casting of Chris Vance doesn’t; his Frank Martin lacks Statham’s menacing charisma and hairline (no baldies on TV—unless you’re Larry David), but at least he’s British and, really, all a Transporter script requires is explode-y action, exotic locales and dangerous packages and/or distressed damsels to transport. The series delivers on those fronts, and doesn’t dumb it down, either, likely thanks to showrunner Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files; underrated 2012 actioner Hunted). Wonder if he or Dave Grohl would be interested in my Crank screenplay …

American Dad! (Monday, Oct. 20, TBS), season premiere: The three American Dad! episodes that aired on Fox in September were leftovers from Season 10; the 15-episode 11th season will run on TBS. (This information is provided for readers who actually care about “seasons,” “networks,” “episodes” and other such TV minutia.) Despite the TBS promos, it’s not any “edgier” than before, but American Dad! is still smarter and more consistently funny than the series from whence it spun off, Family Guy. Even funnier: Fox canceled American Dad! to make room for Mulaney, which had one of the lowest-rated debuts in television history a couple of weeks ago. Well, not so much funny as an I Told You So moment (which, also for you newbies, I take advantage of as often as possible).

True Tori (Tuesday, Oct. 21, Lifetime), season premiere: There was no reason for the existence of the first season of True Tori, Tori Spelling and husband Dean McDermott’s 43rd reality show, but Season 2? Now that the producers have made McDermott slightly interesting by painting him as a cheating scumbag (with some woman named “Emily Goodhand” … yeah, right) who performed some kinky sex acts on poor Tori (or, more likely, had her perform them on him—strap that image on), there’s still no argument to be made for it. Wait—Tori might be pregnant with Child No. 5? Never mind; all priorities are in their proper places.

Web Therapy (Wednesday, Oct. 22, Showtime), season premiere: Lisa Kudrow is back for a fourth season as online therapist Fiona Wallice, with a new Web Therapy patient list that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Hamm, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Matthew Perry, Allison Janney, Lauren Graham, Craig Ferguson, Calista Flockhart, Dax Shepard and Nina Garcia. But get this: In November, Kudrow returns to HBO in the comeback of The Comeback—she’ll be headlining comedies on two premium-cable networks simultaneously. This is likely to be a touchy subject in that session with ex-Friend Matthew “Mr. Cancellation” Perry.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR OCT. 21!

Life After Beth

When Beth (Aubrey Plaza, pictured below) suddenly dies and then comes back to life, her boyfriend (Dane DeHaan) blissfully overlooks the fact that she’s turning into a violent, flesh-hungry zombie who can only be calmed by … smooth jazz? There’s the relationship-killer. (Lionsgate)

Play Hooky

Five high-school friends skip class to party (so far, so good) in an abandoned mental institution (uh oh) notorious for ghost sightings and Satanic rituals (aw, hell no). Did no one read the abandoned mental institution Yelp reviews first? Kids. (MVD)

The Purge: Anarchy

On the one night of the year when all crime is legal, a man (Frank Grillo) bent on revenge for his son’s murder ends up saving innocents instead—which constitutes anarchy against The Purge, because The Purge itself is anarchy … right? (Universal)

Sex Tape

Jay (Jason Segal) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) make a sex tape, which is accidentally made public via the cloud. We made fun of the “cloud” setup when Sex Tape premiered, but who’s laughing now, Jennifer Lawrence? Kate Upton? Nick Hogan? (Sony)

Snowpiercer

In the post-apocalyptic future, a super-train that never stops carries the reminder of mankind around the world—and, surprise, the rich are still dicks. Until one man (Chris Evans) leads a revolt for control of the engine—or at least the bar car. (Anchor Bay)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Oct. 21)

Autumn Blood, Bloodworx, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, Earth to Echo, The Fluffy Movie, The Housewife Slasher, Mad Men: The Final Season Pt. 1, Misfire, RoboRex, The Scribbler, See No Evil 2, Super Babes, Swamphead, Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort.

Published in TV

The League (FXX; Wednesday, Sept. 3, season premiere): The funniest sorta-sports-related show ever returns, with Katie as the reigning (and insufferable) fantasy football league champion. Thanks to The Simpsons, FXX is finally on America’s radar.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO; Sunday, Sept. 7, season premiere): In the fifth-season (and final-season) premiere, Nucky’s in Cuba wooing Bacardi Rum as Prohibition ends, and the Great Depression of the 1930s sets in. So, if you though the show was a downer before

Sons of Anarchy (FX; Tuesday, Sept. 9, season premiere): In the premiere of the seventh and final season, Jax sets a new mission for SAMCRO: Avenge the murder of Tara, as soon as he figures out who did it. Yes, the premiere is 90 minutes, and yes, half of it is musical montages.

Z Nation (Syfy; Friday, Sept. 12, series debut): In Syfy’s answer to The Walking Dead, a group of survivors must transport a man with the potential cure across a zombie-ridden U.S. of A. Finally, we’ll learn if West Coast zombies are more laid-back than East Coast zombies.

Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories (Adult Swim; Thursday; Sept. 18, season premiere): Last year’s Halloween special is now an anthology series, with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim inflicting more weirdness on a higher budget than ever. Like $200.

Squidbillies (Adult Swim; Sunday, Sept. 21, season premiere): The redneck sea creatures return for Season 9 (!), this year taking on “marriage inequality, taint cancer, speciesism, and the impending Russian snake apocalypse.” Thanks a lot, Obama!

South Park, Key and Peele (Comedy Central; Wednesday, Sept. 24, season premieres): No one knows what Trey Parker and Matt Stone have in mind for Season 18 of South Park, probably not even them. Same goes for Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele with their new season. Godspeed, Comedy Central censors.

Homeland (Showtime; Sunday, Oct. 5, season premiere): It’s now The Carrie Mathison Show, as our precarious heroine is deployed to the frontline in the Middle East (great plan, CIA). No, she won’t be bringing the Brody baby—she’s not that nuts.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX; Wednesday, Oct. 8, season premiere): In 1952 Florida, a traveling troupe of carnival folk (including AHS regulars Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson, as well as newcomers Michael Chiklis and Wes Bentley) encounter dark, evil forces. Insert Florida joke here.

The Walking Dead (AMC; Sunday, Oct. 12, season premiere): Will Rick and the gang get out of the boxcar alive? Or will they become Terminus burgers? Are Carol and Tyreese on the way? Where’s Beth? Will the Z Nation entourage pass through Georgia? Why the hell is Comic Book Men still on? So many questions.

The Affair (Showtime; Sunday, Oct. 12, series debut): Joshua Jackson, Maura Tierney, Dominic West and Ruth Wilson star in the story of how an extramarital affair affects two families. It’s a departure for Showtime in the fact that only one affair is happening.

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (HBO; Friday, Oct. 17, series debut): Director Dave Grohl documents the history of musical landmark cities over eight episodes. Oh, and the Foo Fighters record one song for their new album Sonic Highways in each town.

Web Therapy (Showtime; Wednesday, Oct. 22, season premiere): Lisa Kudrow is back for a new season as online therapist Fiona Wallice, with a new patient list that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Hamm, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Matthew Perry, Allison Janney, Lauren Graham, Craig Ferguson, Calista Flockhart, Dax Shephard and Nina Garcia. Then, in November, Kudrow returns to HBO in the comeback of The Comeback—she’ll be starring in two comedies on two premium-cable networks simultaneously. What are you up to, David Schwimmer?


DVD ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 9!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Cap (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) battle an inside conspiracy against S.H.I.E.L.D. and the titular Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). It ties in with a certain TV show below. (Marvel/Disney)

Homeland: Season 3

Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) search for the CIA headquarters bomber, while Brody (Damian Lewis) takes on a mission of redemption in Iran, which doesn’t go well at all. Oh, don’t get hung up on spoilers. (Paramount)

Mantervention

After a girl breaks his heart, a dude asks his friend to stage a “mantervention” of sex and debauchery to cure him of being a hopeless romantic—only to learn that love isn’t so bad, after all. But neither is sex and debauchery, so win-win. (Vision)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1

Not-dead Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a ridiculously good-looking team of operatives to investigate weird cases-of-the-week and occasionally intersect with Marvel movies. Maybe just skip the first nine episodes. (Marvel/ABC)

Supernatural: Season 9

Sam and Dean must reopen the gates of heaven and stop a demon insurrection in hell while dealing with their own personal, heh, demons. Meanwhile, Castiel adjusts to being human and Crowley steals the whole damned, heh, show. (Warner Bros.)

More New DVD/VOD Releases (Sept. 9)

Blue Bloods: Season 4, Brick Mansions, Burning Blue, Dead Within, Deadheads, Doctor Who: Deep Breath, God’s Pocket, The Goldbergs: Season 1, Killer Mermaid, Last Passenger, A Long Way Down, Monika, Palo Alto, Top Model, The Vampire Diaries: Season 5.

Published in TV