November 17, 2007

So it’s another Saturday morning and I’m gearing-up for the weekly Passport Approved show on Indie 103.1FM in Los Angeles. I’m quite a chipper morning person overall; however, getting up at 6:15AM after working 14 – 16 hour days five days a week, is not what I call relaxing on the weekend. However, since radio has always been my passion and I consider it more fun than work, I make an exception to the injustice being done to my lack of sleep (in general).
 I get to the station at 8:20AM (after my shower and 40 mile commute). It can take almost two hours from me waking-up to getting down to the radio station. All looks calm in the studio once I get there and start to make preparations for the show. Getting all the music ready that’ll be aired on today’s program, checking the production board, filling-out the appropriate on-air paperwork ready and making sure that everything will run smooth on my end takes a bit of time. At 8:50AM I get a call from Steve Schnur, who co-hosts the live LA version of Passport Approved with me that he’s waiting downstairs, so I rush downstairs to get him. Producer Molly and Brandon are no where to be found (granted Molly’s getting me my hot tea and banana bran muffin). I’ve stayed away from Starbucks as much as possible lately after one of their workers basically threw scolding hot water all over me by some freak accident. Anyway, I need the tea to get the Bisla mental engine running, or else it could spell disaster…well maybe not that bad, but it’ll make me slow on the mental draw if I’m not caffeinated. Speaking of Brandon and Molly – they rarely ever come to the studio together. But today, low and behold the two of them will be there at the same time…this could be war. I look forward to see who draws first blood J Actually, the don’t loathe each other…I’m kidding. They are like two peas in a pod…both from Iowa and both not the most chipper in the mornings…but they do get the job done and that’s ultimately what counts considering they come in on their own time as they’re passionate about being the shows producers.
 Today, is a mini-marathon at Passport Approved…we’ve gone VIRTUALLYINTERNATIONAL. First in the studio is talented UK singer/songwriter Billy Bragg….oops I mean Frank Turner. This kid has got a killer voice…bloody nora…can this boy sing. I’m impressed. Saw him at the Hotel Café earlier in the week after being turned onto his music by Mike Davies, DJ at BBC Radio 1 who was filling-in for me on Passport Approved a few months ago with producer Brandon who also fell in love with his music and was on my bollocks to check him out. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but after seeing him at Hotel Café I was kind of impressed, but this Saturday morning’s performance was very good indeed. Up next, was former South African residents (now residing in Phoenix) – the Kongos. A band of four brothers who were absolutely sensational! Their eclectic mix of alternative, rock, Bollywood and African musical nuances had all of us in the studio with our jaws on the ground. They were brilliant! Phones lit up like a Christmas tree and I thought the band had planned this – having their friends call-in and say how good they were live. But in reality, I could tell the listeners were just as impressed as we were and non of the calls were orchestrated, but actually very much real. This Saturday morning is turning out to be a real treat.
 Up next, was Swedish band Carolina Liar who are fronted by a lad called Chad (an American) who is doing is first ever radio interview for the band Carolina Liar. World-renowned producer/songwriter Max Martin co-produced this band with some assistance from global A&R ace Martin Dodd who send me the band’s four track demo EP a few months back. I’ve been playing it since on Passport Approved and getting some really great reaction. The band melds elements of U2 with the E Street band, Coldplay, Kent and Keane – how can you go wrong with that sensation in your ears?
 Shortly thereafter, Raine Maida, the lead-singer of Canada’s Our Lady Peace who have sold over a gazillion records called-in live from Canada. Was this guy in the toilet I thought to myself? There was a large echo coming back over the phone lines. Raine assured me he was not in the loo, but rather, in his echo-filled living room.  Even with the echo-ing it was nice to catch up with Raine about his excellent new solo album, which has many great songs including one of my faves, “Sex Love & Honey,” that producer Brandon turned me on to.
 My friends Karyn Hay from KIWI-FM in New Zealand and John Kennedy DJ at Xfm Manchester & Manchester London in England both sent their weekly music recommendations for Passport Approved, which as always were on point!
 I’d noticed that already we’d had guests on this week’s show from the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Sweden and it was time for one more before we could say VIRTUALLYINTERNATIONAL on Passport Approved. It was one of my faves of the past year – a band called Skybombers from Melbourne, Australia that is currently in Los Angeles writing and recording their brand new album. How I came across this band is quite strange. I was in Australia over a year ago and met with the band’s managers who presented me with an EP. I hadn’t even heard the music or knew anything about them. But all of a sudden, the hair on my arms, chest and back (and I didn’t even realize I had any hair on my back) stood up. I told them, I’m going to LOVE this band. Zoran and Darren the managers of Skybombers were puzzled. They said you haven’t even heard the music or even know anything about the band so how do you know you’ll like them. It was intuition I guess (I have pretty good intuition) and sure enough when I got back to the US last year, I pop in the demo EP from Skybombers in my car and instantly fell in love with the band’s music. Fast forward one year, now they are in LA making their new album with producer Rick Parker (BRMC) and they’re in the studio on Passport Approved (funny how these things happen). Always good to see the Skybombers…they are one of the most talented and nicest bunch of lads I’ve met. I did notice that they all had moustaches (and being so young) I didn’t think they could grow facial hair yet. Anyway, they explained that in Australia guys grown moustaches in the month of November as a way to support cancer victims and raise money for this great cause. Producer Molly has a big crush on the band and so I figured I’d embarrass her and say to the Skybombers that when the month is over she’d like to shave off their moustaches and keep the hair in a plastic bag. In return, I was thinking in my head that I should jokingly say that producer Molly was growing hair on her stiff upper-lip to join them in their cause and they could shave her moustache. But then common sense kicked-in and told me it was probably not a bright thing to say, or even funny for that matter. Sometimes, I tend to amuse even myself.
 Many of today’s guests were all in town for a special Passport Approved show were putting together for our faithful listeners thanks to help from my former intern Dean Raissen who now books shows at the Viper Room (a good lad indeed). Tuesday 20th November, 2007 it’s Skybombers, Raine Maida, Kongos and Maryandi (from South Africa) for a great show at The Viper Room on Sunset. Looking forward to a VIRTUALLYINTERNATIONAL night indeed.
 Time for me to grab a cuppa! Bye.


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