Thursday, August 25, 2011

DamionPhoto and The Gerunds Join Forces.

I was hoping to do a little Q and A with Gerunds frontman Peter Cortner on this Fridays benefit show in Philly but time got the best of me.
Instead I'm posting a flyer Pete made with an old picture of mine. As much as I am a fan of Pete's work with Dag Nasty and the Gerunds.
Pete  has, on a few occasions, noted how much he loves my photography. I guess we've got a little mutual admiration thing going on.
I met Pete outside of a Staten Island bar on Halloween night a few years back.
He was dressed from head to webbed toe as Kermit the Frog and about to perform a set of
Dag Nasty tunes with my friends The Amber Jets.
I was in awe. As I was about to introduce myself and confess how Dag Nasty changed my life he interrupted, "You're James, the Photographer?" "OMG, I read your blog all the time." "Your work is amazing."
It was a surreal, dream like moment.
Especially considering he was dressed as Kermit the Frog. Regardless of all that history I am honored to have my work, no matter how old, raising awareness for Cancer treatment and of course the Gerunds.
Pete and I will get that interview done one of the days. I can assure that. What started as a project has morphed into a full fledged band. They're playing shows much more consistently and should be releasing new material soon.
So for Pete's Sake, keep an eye out for The Gerunds. James Damion

The Gerunds  ReverbNation

Fundraiser  Facebook

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Rifle - "This is my Gun."

When former members of Life's Blood (Jason O'Toole), Our Gang (Hobi Klapuri and Lewis Dimmick) got together to start My Rifle it inspired Freddy Alva (The New Breed Compilation) to restart his Hardcore label Wardance Records. 
Needless to say, the possibilities for something incredibly special were pretty high. Add drummer/engineer Andy Guida (Supertouch, Altercation and currently Absolution) 
to the mix and  you've got all the elements for something Epic.
With a record on the way and the return of Wardance records on the horizon I asked Jason and Lewis a few questions about the band and the upcoming release. I greatly appreciate their feedback.  James Damion

James: Give me a little background on the band?
What brought you together and what was it that made things click for you as a unit?

Lewis: Facebook brought us together. Hobi and I hung out at a couple of 
Life's Blood rehearsals. (Back in the day.)
We thought they were a great band but weren't close friends with them or anything like that. All these years later we started talking to Jason on Facebook and the idea of doing a record came up.
We went through two drummers before finally having Andy from 

Altercation / Supertouch / Absolution get the job done. Things clicked with him, I think, because he has the same point of view. He's from the same scene, influenced by the same bands.

James: What made you decide to add different elements and sounds as opposed to doing a straight up Hardcore band?

Jason: My voice has changed considerably over the years, as I have lived in Texas, 
Louisiana, and here in Georgia for many years. There’s an unmistakable twang in my vocals now. It’s funny how one’s ear changes over time. New Yorkers now sound nasal and gruff to me, and I don’t notice the softer, Georgia accent at all, as it’s what I’m accustomed to in my home. I plum disremembered how to speak Yankee. So, you have my country and blues influence on the music – which is subtle on the EP but the careful listener will notice elements of Old Hank, Jerry Lee, and Leadbelly in my lyrics and vocals.
Then you have the more obvious metal influences, which one should expect from men who grew up listening to Iron Maiden. The LP we have planned will be more musically diverse. It’s still going to be very much hardcore, but we hope to record a really amazing song Hobi wrote which is nothing short of his masterpiece, more of Lew’s metal-worshipping bass, and I may even play guitar on the punk-blues-blasphemous-gospel songs that seem to come to me in my dreams down here.

Lew: We're just trying to play music that we'd like to hear, drawing on all the music that's influenced us throughout our lives, in this case mostly hardcore and metal. We're all experienced musicians and we set out to do something that was absolutely not half-assed.

James: What led you to choosing Freddy Alva's resurrected label Wardance? What are some of the bands future plans?

Lew: Freddy made the offer and we accepted immediately because he's not only an old friend, but one that has made a lot of value contributions to the NYHC scene.

Jason: The rebirth of Freddy Alva’s NYC based Wardance Records and the formation of MyRifle are really one and the same. Freddy is as much as part of the band as any of us. One of the reasons it has taken us so long to deliver this EP is that we knew it would take a lot of work to be worthy of being a Wardance record.
The cover artwork for our EP, which will be reproduced for t-shirts available from Wardance, is by none other than Sean Taggart. Wes Harvey, who illustrated the Life’s Blood “Defiance” cover has been drafted to come up with something amazing for the LP. Friends of ours who work in film and television are at work on videos for our songs, which should manifest in the usual places, YouTube, Facebook, and possibly this new Google +.

James: Jason, you mentioned an LP. How far down the line are we talking?

Jason: We have never stopped working on songs and easily have enough material for an LP. It is just a matter of everyone finding the time to rehearse and record. 

I am planning on recording with the band for the LP and may play some backing guitar as well.

Lewis: We've got some music we'd like to work on at some point but it's impossible to predict if or when we'll ever complete an LP. We might work on some new tunes with Andy in the fall / winter.

James: It's been years since you've recorded. The digital age has brought a lot of changes to how we record. How is Andy helping to bring it all together?

Lew: I'm no expert on recording analog vs digital. But Andy, as I mentioned before, has the same influences, the same point of view, so we were pretty comfortable with him right away, and that allowed us to not settle for anything with which we were not completely happy. For a bunch of stuff that Hobi and I play on the record, we weren't even in the studio on the same day. Jason wasn't even in the same state when he did his vocals. He did them later in Georgia. But that kind of thing can be done with either analog or digital, so like I said I'm no expert.

James: What have been some of the stumbling blocks you've faced along the way? The cancellation of your show with Agnostic Front comes to mind.

Lew: Things not working with our first drummer. Things not working with our second drummer.
Being older, having more responsibilities, struggling to find time that each person could dedicate to the music, rehearsing, recording. We got booked on that AF show without truly realizing how long it would take, when the band lived in NY and our singer lived in Georgia, to get songs together. We weren't able to play that show and feel we were ready to make a strong impression.

James: In closing, is there a date on the release? How will you be distributing it and in what format will it be available?

Lew: The EP shouldn't be too far away. Test presses will arrive soon. Shouldn't be terribly long after that. Freddy, aka the mack daddy, will be taking care of distribution. It's gonna be a 7" EP.

MyRifle - Bandcamp

Wardance  Label

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Catching Up with Brian Macko

If you're reading this, and I'm sure you are. 
You most likely know Brian Macko. 
The former frontman for World Indifference and  Voice Or No Voice has been a mainstay on the New York and New Jersey Hardcore scene for ages. Whether he's on stage, in the pit showing his support to his favorite bands during a sing along or at the bar raising his glass to good times and good friends. 
You can count on Macko and his 6'6 frame to be in the middle of it all. In 2010 we lost one of the good guys when Brian and his beautiful wife moved to South Florida is search of opportunity and a better life. 
Brian recently returned north for a visit. 
I was still recovering form surgery and sadly missed out on seeing him when  Supertouch played Kearny Irish.  I did however manage to send him some questions to see just how well  he's adjusted to living in the Florida sun and what he misses most about the Dirty Jerz. Special thanks to Ken Salerno for contributing the amazing shots. I think they more than show off Brian's energy and personality. 
His contribution to the blog is immeasurable.  James Damion

James: You recently made it up to see Supertouch at Kearny Irish. Was that the key reason for your visit?

Brian: Actually, that wasn’t the key reason why I came up to visit, but probably ranked number three on the list. The main reason that I came up to the Jersey and NYC area was to go to one of my childhood friend’s wedding reception. He and his wife live out in Albuquerque New Mexico, so that weekend was the first time that I have seen them since they left two years ago. The second reason that I came up was to see my family, since family has always been a big part of my life while growing up. The one family member that I made it a point to go and pay a visit to was my Aunt Martha. The justification of why that I made it a point to go and see her was just a couple of weeks ago she was admitted into a nursing home/rehabilitation center located down in the Lower East side. She is the only other member in my family that has the same hereditary eye disease that I have. 
This woman has endured such a hard life through countless medical trials and tribulations starting with her vision loss thirty-seven years ago. Now at the age of 60 years old, for she is confined to a wheelchair, and is still legally blind, but still she has that PMA 
(Positive Mental Attitude).

James: Do you have fears about the future, with your own sight and not being able to live as you're already accustomed to? 
If so, How do you look at it and how do you deal with the aspects?                   

Brian: I lost my vision back in 2001 due to a disease called Leber Hereditary Optical Neuropathy (LHON).  My vision has pretty much stayed the same since then,
so I really don’t fear myself losing more vision, and this is because this disease is dormant.
It’s not supposed to progressively get worse, but you never know what life hands you.
I mean I could walk out the door tomorrow and get hit by a car, or get clubbed in the head by a blunt object, and from there I could lose all my vision due to multiple detached retinas.
What I am pretty much saying is that I try to live every day “Day by Day.”
There are a couple of things that I learned after I lost my vision.  I now learned that I judge people for who they are, and not what they look like, and that shit also just comes along with maturity.  I have also realized in my life that there is always someone else out there that has it much worse off than me, so that self pity shit doesn’t apply to me anymore, and this is because I have had this vision impairment for the last ten years.  I mean don’t get me wrong there are days that I get so frustrated that my vision impairment doesn’t allow me to do certain things, but then again I realize that it is not the end of the world.
One of the big positives of living down here in South Florida is there is a place called the Bascon Palmer Eye Institute, and this place is the only place that is doing research on my eye disease.  They are doing a study which includes a battery of eye tests, blood work, and questioning the individual who has the LHON gene.  I got involved in this study last January, and went back for my second visit last July.  I am not getting my hopes up too high thinking that I am going to get my vision back, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.
The one thing that I could say about how this vision impairment has changed my outlook on life is that I have become much more positive, for I mean I use to be a miserable prick when I had my vision, and now I am a much more positive person. 

James: How good was it seeing old friends and band mates, one of which was playing with Supertouch?

Brian: It was amazing to see all my friends. 
I got to chill with Mikey Marmo 
(played bass in 
Voice or no voice) three out of the six days that I was up, so that was mad cool. 
I didn’t get to hang with
Jon Biviano (guitar in Supertouch/Voice or no voice) all that much, but was mad psyched to see him play the shit out of that guitar. There was also another ex-band mate from
World Indifference that actually put on the show and his name is Ed “Ox” Occhipinti
(also owns and tattoos at Jinx Proof Tattoo), and it was really good shooting the shit with him since we really haven’t done that in years. I was extremely stoked to see Alf Bartone
(lead vocals in Ex Number Five/The Fire Still Burns and now
plays bass in Damn This Desert Air), for it was the first time that I caught their whole set, and that shit was mad powerful. Last but certainly not least, getting to see 
Caught in a Trap was definitely a treat, and this is because playing so many shows with those guys, and seeing them play that night brought back so many memories of 
Voice or no Voice. It’s pretty funny that when you look at the Caught in a Trap guys at face value, for you would think here’s a bunch of scary tough guys from Queens, but in actuality they are just a bunch of nice tough guys from Queens that play in an amazing band. 
Overall, the show was a success for me since I got to see many people 
that I haven’t seen in such a long time, so a big thanks goes out to Ox and Scott Mayers for putting on the show.

James: Were you at all surprised or disappointed about Andy no longer playing with Supertouch?

Brian: Am I surprised that Andy is not playing in Supertouch?  The answer to that one is                  “No comment.”  I am sorry, but I am not going to be the one that explains why Andy is not playing in Supertouch, for that question should be answered by Andy.
Now, you asked if I am disappointed that Andy is no longer playing in Supertouch, and the answer to that one is “Yes.”  I always like to see bands with their original members, and this is because the original members’ flavor is so pure to the original sound.  I mean don’t get me wrong Dean on Bass, and Rich on drums are doing an amazing job, but it is just a totally different dynamic.  Andy is a tremendous drummer, and an incredible person, so I knew it wouldn’t be long before he was playing in another band.  I was lucky enough to see Andy play in the legendary NYHC band Absolution at the Black N Blue Bowl this past year.
He sounded awesome like always, and I can’t wait to hear the new stuff that they recorded. 

James: Should we start expecting more frequent trips up North in the future?

Brian: I really can’t give you a solid answer on that one, and that is because if I am able to attain a job in the very near future, for then I won’t make it up as much as I want to.
I would totally want to make it up as much as possible, but financial restraints are what keep me down here. It’s weird, if I have no job then I have no money and tons of time. If I have a job then I have the money but no time to do anything. So, all I could say is we will take it as it comes.

James: Tell me about the move and what prompted you to move where a lot of people go to die.

Brian: Well, the actual move took place on 10/20/10 at 7:00am in the morning. 
My wife and I got on the road at 7:00am in the morning to head down to Virginia, and this was because we had to check in with Amtrak’s auto train at noon. We arrived on time to check in, and get some food; in addition we were able to rest up a little bit before getting on the train. The train actually left at 4:00 pm, and by 5:30 pm we found ourselves drinking some Sam Adams beers in the lounge car. We were served dinner at 7:00 pm which wasn’t all that good, but it did suffice to fill me up for the time being. Dinner was over for us at 8:00pm, so that pretty much meant that we were headed back to our seats for a ten hour toss and turn type of sleep in these undersized train chairs. These chairs weren’t really that undersized, but for my 6 foot 6 inch ass everything seems to be undersized. The last call for breakfast was at 7:00am, and that is when we decided to get our aching asses down to the dining car. Again, the meal they served was not memorable, but did serve its purpose to fill me up. 
Now, after breakfast we had a little bit of time to rest until we arrived in Sanford Florida at 9:00 am. Once we got off the train and into our car, for we had a bright idea to call our travel agent back in New Jersey. We asked her to book us five days at Disney World since we were only a town away and also because the moving company that we used wouldn’t be down in South Florida for another ten days. We arrived in our Disney resort room a little after 11:00 am, and we were in Magic Kingdom by noon. I am not going to get into great detail about the time spent at Disney World, but let me just tell you when they have the food and wine tasting at Epcot, for it is a fucking blast. 
Our last day at Disney World was spent hitting up some rides and getting some food. 
We left the park at 1:30pm, and probably got on the Florida Turnpike at 2:00pm. 
Our destination was to get to my Uncle’s house in Cooper City by 6:30pm, but we didn’t actually get there until around 8:00 pm. Fast forward 2 months and some change later, for its 1/11/11 and my wife and I purchase a town house a town over from my Uncle’s house.

You asked why I would move down to the place where most people move to just before they die, for the answers are love and money. Financially having a mortgage in New Jersey was draining the both of us, so moving down to South Florida made perfect sense. 
What I mean by this is we were able to buy a place out right without having to get a mortgage, and that alone has relieved a lot of tension. The second reason I mentioned was love. What I mean by this is my wife is a huge fan of  South Florida, so since she loves it down here, for then I will learn to love it too. Don’t get me wrong, I also chose to move down here, because we could have probably gone anywhere in the U.S, but I chose here out of result of having two Uncles down here. Even though I moved away from my home, family and friends, for I still needed to be around some family, so hopefully that explains the justification for the South Florida relocation.

James: What was the adjustment like? We're there any moments of anxiety or moments where you thought, "What the hell have I done?".

Brian: To be completely honest I wake up every day thinking to myself was this the right choice. 
Some days I think that it was, and some days I think it wasn’t. I think that when I get a job and settle into the job, for then I will be a little more adjusted in living down here. 
Right now being unemployed makes me feel like I am in limbo, so once I attain a job then that feeling will fade.  As far as living in a new environment goes, for this place has its pros and cons. Some of the pros are: I live near mad stores, so my blind ass can walk to all of them if I have to. We live only 20 minutes away from the beach, airport, and the down town area.
The transportation service that they have down here for the handicap is pretty damn dependable. Now, the cons are: Things are close, but I would much rather have them closer like they were in New Jersey. Some days the heat is really fucking unbearable, so that keeps my ass indoors as much as possible. Now when it comes to the bus system and the Tri-rail, for they both stop running at around 11:00pm, so if you’re late just a little bit then you are fucked. If you are late a little bit then you have to wait around for the next bus or train at 4:00am, so that shit definitely blows. 

James: What do you miss most since the move?

Brian: I miss my family and friends the most. 
I definitely miss New York City, from going to shows, or just walking around Manhattan. 
I miss the food without a doubt. New York and New Jersey hands down have the best pizza and bagels. Clifton has the best hot dogs at the 
Hot Grill, so whenever I come up for a visit that is the first place I like to hit up.

James: Have you managed to find any music or scene to grab hold of since you've been down there?

Brian: There really hasn’t been much luck of finding any type of seen down here, but I really can’t say that I been looking that hard either. There are three clubs/venues that are pretty close to me in Fort Lauderdale. A small club called the Poorhouse caters to the local bands, and is probably comparable in size to Dingbatz in Clifton. The next venue that is stepped up in size is the Culture Room, and you could have touring bands play here, and for example the Misfits are coming through here in a couple of months, but that shit isn’t really the Misfits to me. The third venue is called Revolutions, for I haven’t even seen this place yet, but I know that bands like Thrice are playing here very soon. There is also the Bank Atlantic Center located in Sunrise where I went to see Rush, and that place reminded me of the Meadowlands in Jersey. There is a place that has a lot of promise that is located down in Miami, and is called Churchhills. It’s not a big club at all, for it has a decent size stage, Premier League Soccer on all the flat screens, and a very good selection of beverages. The one knock on this place for me is that it is a little too far for me to get to, especially since I don’t drive due to my blindness.

James: Is there any chance you'll be coming up to play a 
Voice or no Voice reunion show anytime soon?

Brian: I would love to play a reunion show with those guys, but I highly doubt it. That question should definitely be asked to Andy and Biv.
If I had total control over us playing a reunion show, for our asses would definitely be playing a reunion show. I did Joke around with Ox about playing a World indifference reunion show, and he said anything is possible, so maybe you’ll be hearing about that.

James: What are you listening to these days?

Brian: To be completely honest with you I have been listening to my Ipod on shuffle, and sports talk radio (790AM The Ticket ESPN Radio) If I had to give you five bands that I have been listening too since I moved down here, and their albums. This is in no particular order of how they are listed.

Supertouch, their new songs that they put out on Reaper Records, and all their old stuff. I got stuck on a Supertouch kick since out of the 9 months that I have been down here, for I have been up to see them twice.

The Wait, I have been listening a lot to their demo CD with my wife, and that CD reminds me so much of home. That CD is mad catchy, and those guys are the nicest guys around. I use to play mad shows with them when they had Paul on drums, and they were called Endgame. When Paul left the band they wanted to continue playing music, but they wanted to change up their sound, so I told them that I knew a guy named Sergio Spina. Sergio use to play in a band with me and Mikey back in the late 90’s called Deny Victoria. He also played in True Zero, My Favorite Citizen, No love lost, Run like Hell, and Scary Hours, so you could definitely say Sergio is an experienced drummer. I am only telling you this because I would like to think that I had little part in a good band coming together.

Rival Schools new album, Pedals. The new Rival Schools album is fucking amazing. Their first album “United by Fate” was phenomenal, and this album is becoming a close second. The last time this band put out a album was close to ten years ago, and in that year I spent most of my time in South Florida. Why did I spend a lot of time in South Florida during that year was because my girlfriend now wife was living down here. Now, its 2011 and Rival Schools puts out another album, furthermore my ass is back in South Florida, so does this seem coincidental? Hmmmm.

Rush - The Best of Rush. Lately I have been listening to a decent amount of Rush. I guess that kind of seems weird hearing that I am listening to Rush being that I sang in a hardcore band. I guess it has to do with the fact that my brother in law bought tickets for my wife and I to go see Rush while he was down here in late March. I was totally psyched after seeing them perform, and this is because I really wasn’t into them that much, but afterwards I realized that those guys are an amazing bunch of musicians. Listening to them play live totally reminded me of playing with Mikey, Biv and Andy, so that is what made me appreciate them even more.

Sick of it All - Everything. This band will always be playing on my Ipod or my walkman. I’ve been listening to this band since I was 12 years old, and shit is not gonna change any time soon. The first time that I seen this band was September 1993 at City Gardens in Trenton. They headlined that show, for Into Another played an amazing set second, and Rancid kicked the door down to open the show. They ended up putting that show out on Lost N Found Records named “Live in a World Full of Hate”. If you look in the insert you could see me and Mikey with our arms stretched out, and my arm looks like its ten feet long. Now, that was the first time that I’ve seen them, and the most recent time that I caught them was at the 2011 Black N Blue Bowl this past Memorial Day weekend. Almost 18 years later and they are still killing it. That’s why they are built to last.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brooklyn Vegan Photographer Jason House

When setting out to do this blog, speaking to some of the concert photographers 
(past and present) that helped to inspire me along the way was one of the key things I wanted to do. Being a photographer myself I knew it wouldn't be easy. 
The photographers I've met along the way have always been eager to share their images and thoughts on their favorite bands. But when it came to talking about themselves, their style and approach. 
Most would become tight lipped.
In asking Jason House I was a little more confident.
In talking to him at shows he's been both friendly and engaging. His style has a unique perspective and approach that makes the viewer feel as if their part of the story. Jason's work can regularly be seen on Brooklyn Vegan and he recently created a website to showcase more of his work. 
My thanks to Jason for taking the time to so thoroughly share his thoughts. 
James Damion

James: What was it that drew you to photography?

Jason: It started at an early age. I’ve always has a sense of wanting to document things. During the summer after third grade, I took a museum studies course through my school and that really changed my outlook on things. I’d like to say I actually started shooting that early, but the interest always outweighed the means. We couldn’t really afford a camera, film and processing, so I got in the habit of framing things up in my my head and thinking, 
“If I had a camera, it would look like this”. I’ve done that ever since.

James: What was it that made you want to start photographing bands and live events?
Were there any photographers that particularly influenced you? If so, why?

Jason: I cite my lack of camera as the biggest motivator. I was always drawn to live shots in album layouts and I wanted to get the in your face shots like I was seeing in fanzines. 
When I did get the chance to start taking a camera to shows, that‘s the sort of thing 
had in mind. One of my earliest influences was John McKaig, the hardcore promoter and photographer from Syracuse. I always appreciated his work ethic and took amazing action pictures. More recently I’ve been putting names and faces with images and researching music photographers like Jenny Lens, Dick Waterman, Jim Marshall, Charles Peterson, 
and Edward Colver as well as studying photo history.
I think composition and style is just as important as subject. Lately I’ve been taking a more stripped down approached experimenting with framing and contrast.

James:Were you always a digital guy or did you get your start shooting film?

Jason: Digital changed everything for me. The few early attempts at film were usually disastrous. I have a huge respect for film and especially people who use it to shoot shows, but it just wasn’t practical for me.

James: What else do you love to shoot and why?

Jason: I live rural and urban landscapes, particularly historic architecture. I always had this thought that people and cars unnecessarily dated photos, so I shoot around them.
I’m not really a fan of modern architecture either. I’ve never really explored the area of studio photography, but I don’t have anything particularly against it. I do find it funny that my music photography is essentially nothing but people and the rest of my photos rarely have people at all. I think I just prefer capturing candid moments.

James: Why do you think that is? Are you a very social person in general?

Jason: I wouldn't say I'm totally anti-social, but I was always the quiet kid and youngest of three so I learned to go do things off on my own. I would read, listen to music, or draw.
Punk made me a lot more sociable.

There's a little bit of a funny story that goes with not wanting to have people in the shot as far as New York City shots go. For one thing, I hate tacky signage and lousy remodeling. 
New York is beautiful from the second story up. Also, I wanted to set a certain tone for the city pictures versus, say rural landscapes. I grew up in Upstate N.Y. where everyone had this impression that New York City was this lonely desolate and violent place where people go to have their dreams dashed. I remember even teachers telling their students this. 
It probably came from books and movies, but I really thought it was like that growing up. 
A lot of people still think it's like that. I decided I'd shoot with that in mind.

James: Do you have a preference between Black and White and Color?

Jason: It really depends on the subject.
Black and White is definitely classic, but color sometimes really makes a picture. I feel it out case by case.
Each one sets a certain tone.

James: What are you currently working with? Body and Lens, What made you choose that gear and why it works for you.

Jason: I use a completely stock Nikon D3000 with the Nikkor 18-55 lens and the cheapest external flash I could find. 
I figured that would be the first piece of equipment to go, so I didn’t want to make a big investment. 
It’s not a particularly fast setup, but I like to keep it simple and portable. I was getting overwhelmed with the whole buying process, but thenI ended up getting a great deal on this camera from someone I knew. 
That made it so much easier. Now that I’m starting to really get to know the equipment, 
I’ll be able to make a much more conscious decision about what type of equipment I might need.

James: How did you hook up with Brooklyn Vegan? What's that experience been like for you?

Jason: It was actually through a videographer who I kept seeing at shows. I contacted him after we both attended the same 2 shows in the same day. I noticed him in a photo in a view of the second show and recognized him from the first. He remembered me and told me that the metal editor from Brooklyn Vegan had seen my photos and had been asking around about them. That was actually the Powerpoint/InflatableChildren/Go!/Bad Trip show that I went to on a with him. Pretty much every major project I have going on right now is from a connection I made through that show.

James: That was a memorable and very personal show for me. That was about a year before we met. I would have loved to have seen and compared images from that day.

Jason: The funny thing is I never got around to sending them pictures from that show.
Initially I was going to shoot the Afro Punk festival, which was exactly a year ago.
I took on a little too much since it was a 2 day outdoor festival. Someone from the site had sent me a full set of guidelines, but I dropped the idea of shooting for them for a while
and I deleted it. A few months later, I decided I'd try again and shoot the Dead Kennedys at Irving Plaza. The band played well, but it was my first time in front of the gate and there was only one opener. (they were terrible) I dropped the idea again until I decided it was something I really needed to do and we set up the Agnostic Front show@ Santos…
Which was the second time we met.
The most interesting thing about covering events for them is that there isn’t any real limitations as far as the layout goes. One of the big things they push is getting the whole ambiance of the event. I keep pushing myself to get more descriptive shots and put
together more narrative sets. The editing process can be very tedious, but I really enjoy it.
It gives me a chance to study break down each image and figure out what I could do better.
That’s very helpful when you’re teaching yourself.

James: That's one of the things that stands out about your work. You have a unique approach I haven't seen in other photographers work.
What do you think sets you apart? Do you have a game plan when getting ready to shoot?

Jason: One of the reasons whyI was so drawn to punk shows was the lack of barriers between the bands and the participants. I try and blur that line and make it so the viewer not only knows what it looked like to be there, but also what it felt like to be there. You’re watching the show from my point of view.

I don’t really limit myself to just punk, but that‘s the main jump off point. I’ve shot everything from metal to bluegrass since that’s the range of my own musical interest. 
I go by what I enjoy and what I think will be visually interesting and what I think people will connect with. 
I think that shows up in the finished product.

The New York music scene is flooded with both local and traveling bands. 
I do a little bit of research while I’m deciding what to shoot. I watch live videos and try and find pictures from previous performances. Not in a clinical way, but it helps me know what to watch for and decide where I should be when the action starts. It’s also a great way to checkout new bands.

James: Front center, side or on stage?

Jason: It depends on the crowd. I pick a “dig in” spot where I think I can catch the most action just in case I get stuck in one place. If it’s feasible, I try and switch sides mid-set so I can get shots of all the band members. If the stage is accessible and I think the potential shots are worth it, I’ll go for it. The most important thing is not being in anyone’s way. Shows on the floor pose a whole different set of challenges.

James: Why is that?

Jason: Your at face level with everyone. You don't want to blind them with your Flash.
There's equipment and people to watch out for. Especially when you're trying to shoot
down low.

James: Are there any shows or bands you've shot that stick out?

Jason: That would be a very long list, but the best shows are the ones where both the band and audience are enjoying themselves. Coalesce, Wovenhand, Tim Barry, GBH, Langhorne Slim, TheLegendary Shack Shakers, World/Inferno Friendship Society, and Murder By Death
all stand out. EYEHATEGOD is one of the most surprising live bands out there.The first time I saw them, they played nearly 3 hours. You would figure they act like they were full of hatred, but they were all up there smiling and cheering on the crowd. Those guys love what they’re doing. 
The Nick Poot Benefit Show featuring Nomos,Perdition, Parasytic, and Brain Killer was probably the most emotional show and intense shows I’ve shot. One of my favorite recent shoots was Tombs. They‘re a great live band both musically and visually.

James: As photographers we've all had to deal with both the bouncers and the people in the pit. 
Have you had any serious damage done to yourself or your gear?

Jason: Thankfully nothing more than a few bumps and scrapes and a lot of wear and tear on the camera. I cracked my collarbone and sprained my foot a few years back. They were just random accidents, but it makes me a little more cautious- especially when I’m shooting 
in the pit. Having a camera in my hand makes me much more aware of everyone around me. Just a broken flash so far on this camera, but that’s to be expected.

James: What was the hairiest show you've photographed? Why?

Jason: There’s a lot of great shows in this city, but things just aren’t as violent and chaotic 
as they used to be. That’s definitely not a bad thing. It’s nice not to have to deal with so
many fights, neo-nazi skinheads, and extra aggressive dancing. I did recently see
The Dillinger Escape Plan at Music Hall of Williamsburg. That show definitely 
had it’s moments. I secretly wished they still lit things on fire though.

James: Have you exhibited your images anywhere (gallery or show) If so, where? 
If not, any plans in the near future?

Jason: A gallery show would be something I would definitely consider.
I’ve actually been thinking about it a lot lately. I did a few shows early on, but it’s been quite a while. I’d like to see a show of D.I.Y. artist and photographers. It would be interesting to see what everyone is doing.

James: In the past there might be one or two photographers at a show. 
These days you can run into half a dozen people shooting for different outlets and sites. You've also got everyone there taking pictures and video with the 4G's and Blackberry's. How do you compete, interact?

Jason: Other photographers can be pretty intimidating, especially when you‘re first starting out. As I started progressing,
my confidence level started going up. 
I think it actually pushed me to try different things. I’m usually so focused on what I’m doing, soI don’t really worry about it.
I just shoot around camera phones.
I don’t even like to encourage them. 
I’m all about people trying to document their memories as long as they’re not 
rude about it. That’s usually not the case.

James: Any advice for the shooters that are coming up? How to approach, act and share the space?

Jason: Don't get overwhelmed, be prepared, be aware, and have fun. Shoot what you like, but don't be scared to go a little out of your element. Most importantly, be polite.
Nothing makes photographers look worse than slamming through a crowd to get to the stage, standing in front of someone while they’re trying to watch the band, or stage diving feet first into the crowd with your camera while picking fights with other photographers.
Yes. I’ve actually seen that happen.

James: Good advice. Words to live by.

JasonHouse Photography Site

Brooklyn Vegan

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting to Know Shannon Perez

If you live in New Jersey and have even the slightest interest in music chance are you've come across Shannon Perez. Whether it's as the long time clerk at Curmudgeon Records in Edison, Hillsborough or Somerville. The singer/bass player for I Hope You Die and Strange Things Done in the Midnight Sun, Or the Promoter who's put on countless shows, often making a point a giving the younger bands the exposure they desperately need to grow and move forward.
I'm not exactly sure when I met Shannon. It might have been at Naked Raygun's Maxwells show when I kept, accidentally elbowing her while photographing the band. Regardless, I seem to be running into her more and more these days. 
So on  Thursday I headed south to her studio in Woodridge to talk to her about her experiences, contributions and plans for the future.
Here's what she had to say. James Damion

James: Tell me a little bit about this place.

Shannon: We're in my studio. I've been here for about ten years. I knew these guys that were in the band The Mean Mistreaters. Their band used to practice in the room behind us. After they started another band called Dehumanized.
We actually started to hanging out here.
I finally decided to start my own band,
Don Juan Destroyer. Then it became my bands room.

James: How did you come to work at Curmudgeon Records?

Shannon: After High School I moved out of my house and down to NewBrunswick.
It didn't work so I went to live with my Grandparents. Me and my Grandfather are driving down RT 27 to pick up my Grandmother. As we cut across Plainfield Ave. I see this record store with all these Punk Rock posters in the window. I'm screaming "STOP"!!! and my Grandfather, who's the best guy in the world pulls over. So I discovered Curmudgeon and met the owner, Bill. I became a loyal customer and eventually married into the Curmudgeon name. I worked in Edison and Hillsborough. I helped open the Somerville store.
We just closed the doors there in May.

James: What led to the closing?

Shannon: It was a number of things. The owner, Bill, lost his passion. Money wasn't being made. Competing with technology, the internet and not willing to work with iTunes or go on the internet to sell on Ebay. He wanted to deal with people face to face. We opened the store because we wanted to have a place where people would come to buy and talk about music. (A place where people could have a sense of community in music.)
That's what it became in essence. A place where people came to meet. Nowadays people and bands have a Facebook page, a website, a MySpace. The need for an underground record store isn't what it used to be. The need just isn't there. Back then people were looking for something different and that's what Curmudgeon was. It's sad that it had to end but we had a seventeen-year run. I started working there in 1994 when I met Bill. It was just a great experience.
I met so many great people there. People I would eventually start bands with.
I learned to play bass when someone asked me to make them a Bikini Kill mix.
I told him
"You teach me to play bass and I'll make you a tape." That was my start, right there.

James: You mentioned the sense of community and people communicating face to face. You also had a run when you had bands performing In Stores.

Shannon: Curmudgeon originally had some shows at the Court Tavern through Mike Polilli
of Buzzkill. They would promote the store a lot. They also had some parties at McCormicks back in the early days when they first opened. We started our In Stores in Hillsborough because it was such a huge shop. We started contacting labels about showcasing bands. Mike and Bill booked a lot of those appearances. It wasn't just one person.
There were so many people involved. There were Hardcore BBQ's, Static Radio played all the time.

James: The thing that really stands out in both of your bands is your ability to just flat out sing. When did you discover your voice?

Shannon: My Mom was a singer/songwriter and played guitar. She sang a lot of Folk.
She taught me and my twin sister how to sing. We would sing stupid kid songs like
"You are my sunshine". It just grew from there. Your family has you singing on Easter and they've got you singing at church. My Mom eventually started shifting from Dylan and Beatles stuff to more Christian focused Folk which became a pretty rough period for me.
So from the ages of five to twelve I hit a pretty rough patch. By twelve I had stopped going to church.

James: When did you pick up the bass?

Shannon: I started working at Curmudgeon and I was meeting all these awesome bands.
They'd come in and talk about themselves,
their bands, the girls and all these awesome shows they were playing. It made me feel left out.
This guy Steve Petras from Bernie's Fix, I.D.K. and The Lawn Darts would come in and talk about music. He asked me to make him a Mix Tape.
He told me if I made him a Bikini Kill video he'd give me some bass lessons. He gave me only two lessons and I had already written two songs. Then two songs became ten songs within a week. He was all excited, "We have to start a band!" That's when we started Don Juan Destroyer.
I had played music all my life. (The Baritone,
The Clarinet, (Drums in the Marching Band.)
But when it came to something like the Bass.
I was a late bloomer. My boyfriend at the time and his partner at the store (Curmudgeon) always made fun of me. They'd laugh "Come on, you'll never start a band." "You're too fucked up." It lit a fire under me. It got me inspired.
Even if it wasn't Hardcore or Punk Rock. Regardless of whether they were going to like it or not. I was going to do it. I sing from my heart and I write from my soul. I write about things that hurt me and influence me. Things that have made me happy. People that have inspired me. That's what my song writing's about. If people enjoy it, cool. If people don't, I guess that's cool too. There are people who really like it. That makes me pretty stoked. I can do a few things really well. Singing is one of them.

James: You're in two bands now. I Hope You Die and
Strange Things Done In The Midnight Sun. What are some of
the differences and similarities between the two.

Shannon: I was in Don Juan Destroyer for a long time. When we broke up I was really having a hard time finding a new band. I had done some things that just didn't work out.
In Strange Things Done I'm not the lead singer. I'm the backup vocalist and bass player.
John Matthews takes the reigns with the band. Where as, 'I Hope You Die' is my thing.
They're my songs and collaborations with people I really respect. We're serious about writing a good song and getting it out there.

James: You had mentioned a Tour and CD.

Shannon: I'm putting out a six song live CD with one studio track recorded by Eric Bennet and Marissa Paternoster (Screaming Females) at Hunt Studio by long time ago.
It was mastered by Charles Chaussinand. I was hoping to have a new release available in 2011 but it might turn out to be later than that. So in order to get the ball rolling and get something out there I'll be releasing this in the time being. I mastered it myself and it sounds great. We haven't booked the tour yet but Pat Clark (Mirrors and Wires, Degenerics,
I Hope You Die) is helping me with getting it together. I've done a few jaunts with bands before but I've never gone booked a full tour.

James: I wanted to talk to you about promoting and putting on shows. How did you get your start?

Shannon: I started doing shows just out of my love for music. I was a little Riot Grrrl who was in love with Bikini Kill. (I had seen them live at The Bank with all these other amazing bands.) When the band broke up and Kathleen Hannah started Le Tigre I was desperate to see them. They played their first Jersey show at a place called The Melody. This was also the first real show I had put on. It was an amazing rush. Seeing all those amazing bands playing together that night and hooking up after to work together. That was back in 1995 and I've been doing it ever since. I started doing shows at The Court Tavern. I booked some Hardcore shows where I had bands like No Redeeming Social Value. I had done a couple of the A.O.D. reunions. I was totally responsible for Detentions reunion at the Court Tavern with A.O.D.

James: You've also done a lot to promote bands that are just coming up.

Shannon: I've had a chance to meet a lot of people through Curmudgeon. People coming up and starting bands. Bands that are just looking for a place to play. Every band had to start somewhere. I didn't have any one giving me a break when I started out. There was the late Chris Barry of the Aquarian who used to put us up at a place called The Broadway Central. He would let Don Juan Destroyer and The Ergs play all the time. People like that who give young bands a break. Look what it did for The Ergs. Bands like Static Radio started like that.

James: How would you describe yourself and your personality?

Shannon: I'd like to think I'm a nice person.
I'm a bleeding heart and I'm always looking to help people. At the same time I don't like to be fucked with. I don't like people messing with my friends or family. Nobodies perfect and there's always inner turmoil. Sometimes I lack confidence and can over compensate by being overly aggressive.
The booze factor on some nights can make things pretty rough. I'm not one to back down from a fight and I always try to stand up for the good guy.
I've made mistakes but no one's perfect.
No one stays in love forever and there are always going to be people who are going to try to keep you down.
I have a lot of good friends and I've got some enemies. We've all had those times when we're crying and hating ourselves. While we've all had those times when we've been on top of the world. We're the best person ever and everyone's lucky to know us. Then there's times when I feel I don't matter at all and I don't matter to anybody.
Like it wouldn't matter if we were here or not.
I owe it all to Vic Castello for teaching me how to love again.

I Hope You Die  Facebook

Upcoming all ages Show

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Polyphony: Your Basement Never Sounded this Good.

Polyphony are an up and coming Maplewood band out to prove themselves while setting out on a path to success. They're here and determined to be heard, no matter how much the neighbors complain.
The band, comprised of brothers Marshall (Vocals) and Cameron (Lead Guitar) Davidson are the main songwriters and driving force behind the band while Dylan Reichman, (Drums)
Ariel Golden (Bass)
and Justin Cheang (Rhythm Guitar) round out the band as the essential rhythm and back bone. Dylan with his impeccable timing and Ariel with her driving bass licks give the band a stable and even danceable feel.
Add Justin prolific rhythm and you've got an unstoppable force.
They delivered an amazing set on the night I saw them. The crowd sang along, moshed and banged their heads in unity with the band. It was a thing of beauty. The band played a mix of favorites from 'Rough Cuts' while throwing in a number of new songs that had the crowd on their toes and wanting more.
I had a chance to talk to the band and ask a few questions about the music, high school and finding their way. Here's what they had to share... Shannon Perez

Shannon: What are some of the biggest struggles you've faced
as a young Hardcore Band?

Dylan: Getting through High School, internships and trying to get into college when your band is starting to get big. It's been hard to manage.

Marshall: Trying to get shows. We play a lof of basement shows and I love how close up and personal it is.

Ariel: Getting people to take us seriously. Most people think, "Oh, there just kids".
So getting anything besides basement shows has been hard.

Shannon: What are some of your favorite things about playing music together?

Cameron: The feeling I get when I write a really good part. Writing a really good song and sharing it together for the first time. It feels perfect.

Dylan: I take a lot of pride in what we do. Music is my passion. I don't want to come off like I'm full of myself but it surprises me. The things we come up
with. It just feels awesome.

Shannon: Tell me about the album and what's coming up for Polyphony.

Marshall: We self recorded 'Rough Cuts', something we're pretty proud of. In working on the second album we brought in a producer. We don't have a name for it yet but it should feature twelve songs, all but two being new songs.
Needless to say, we're pretty excited about it. We're looking for a September release.

Shannon: What are some of the bands that influenced you?

Justin: I'm a Manson fan

Shannon: Charlie or Marilyn?

Justin: Both, Charlie had that song 'Eyes of a Dreamer'. I saw Marilyn Manson open for Slayer. A lot of what I come up with is influenced by them.

Marshall: Page 99, Botch.

Shannon: What gear are you using to achieve your sound?

Cameron: Boss Distortion DS-1. A Tuna Melt Dancelectro Tremelo.

Justin: I'm using the same thing but would like to pick up a Loop Pedal.

Shannon: Where do you see yourselves a year from now?

Ariel: Playing more shows and working on our album.

Justin: Hopefully playing really good music and moving up the ladder.

Marshall: I want to continue expanding on what we've created. I hope we all stay close.
We're all still in High School. I'm a Senior, they're all Juniors. My going to college could create problems in determining whether or not we stay together.

Shannon: Where do you see yourself fitting in musically?

Ariel: The New Brunswick scene seems really cool and the people involved are really cool. We just really want to have an influence on the people who listen to and enjoy our music. We want to make those connections that will help us move forward and get more shows.

Shannon: (Noticing Justin's flesh wounds) Do you get more hickeys now that you're in a band. I'm losing count. How many are you currently sporting?

Justin: I'm up to four. I've always been getting them. I'm both a gentleman and a slut.
Ask anyone. They can vouch for me.

Polyphony Facebook