Sunday, September 30, 2012

Modern Chemistry - An Introduction

"An introduction" is probably one of the most understated titles to ever accompany a sampling as good as this. Modern Chemistry come out of the gate like seasoned pros with a distinct style and approach that is seldom seen in a band this early in their development.
"Remember this Bridge" and "Holla Atcha Boi" are instantly addictive tracks that have warranted countless listens.

The bands sound is a perfect mix of rock and post core with outstanding riffs complimented by an  impressive rhythm section and emotionally anthemic vocals. All of which blend together perfectly. Putting on a display that is emotionally charged without losing any sense of angst or aggression. I sensed a
Rise Against influence mixed with the appeal of New Jersey's The Wait.
The band itself sites Brand New and The Outfield amongst their influences. Pretty cool if you ask me.

New Brunswick has always had a proud history of producing one outstanding band after another. It looks as if Modern Chemistry are ready to join in that proud linage.
If this is an introduction to what Modern Chemistry can bring to the table... then we can look forward to  something very special.
James Damion

Modern Chemistry  Bandcamp

Big Putts - Bogey Nights

Every now and then a friend turns me on to a new band or one I may have overlooked by dropping something in my email or Facebook cage. The guys in Holy City Zoo have pretty much made it a hobby of theirs.
So when Frank DeFranco dropped this one in my lap.
I couldn't refuse giving it my full attention.  It takes a lot of balls to take both your band and the name of it's first release from golf references. Big ups to
Big Putts for showing they've got a set between them.
Despite the silly name this Boston outfit really offers an excellent record here. Comprised of the well rounded  Alex Molini on Guitar/Bass/Vocals/Synth,
Gio Coviello - Vox and Jesse Weiss on drums.
Big Putts create a moody and brilliant sound that has me wanting to look further into what these Bostonions are all about.

After listening to this a handful of times I was able to gain a wider appreciation for the bands approach and sound.  Excellent guitar sound with loose bass and dreamy percussion and synth. Vocals that create a nice Lo-Fi vibe that had me reaching for my copy of
Jesus & Mary Chain's "Psychocandy". Songs like "Nosejob Junkies",
"Cockroaches From Hell", "Mr. Malfunction"and my personal favorite "Autocorrect" stood out and stuck with me for the long haul. An excellent effort by these PGA hopefuls.
James Damion

Big Putts  Bandcamp

Michael Ironside - Gelatin Moon

Our blogs biggest WTF moment arrived the other day in a nondescript CD mailer.
As I opened it for closer inspection I was only faced with more unanswered questions. The note, "James, sorry this took so long to get out.
Had to order another batch. Look forward to your feedback" initialed, no scribbled, in a language yet to be born.
Thus adding more mystery to this ever growing plot to make me lose my mind. MichaelIronside, perhaps taken from the name of the actor who so perfectly played the villain in movies such as
Scanners, Visiting Hours,
Top Gun and Total Recall. The band, as it turns out features Adam Lepkowski (Sick Jerk) on vocals. Jeff Wasserburger (Four Fingers, Bombay) on Guitar and a ghost lyricist by the name of Ryan.

As I began to listen to the first four tracks I couldn't help but think this was the worst thing I had ever laid ears on. Something that a group of college nerds created while locked in their dorm rooms high on some synthetic hybrid they had just created by connecting their chemistry set to their sisters sampler. I kept thinking Devo on down syndrome.

Then as the fifth track began to spin it's wheels, I began to understand, maybe even believe that there was something to this. I felt that Devo influence and perhaps a little Beastie Boys mixed with a Lo-Fi version of Serge Gainsborg doing acid while listening to Pink Floyd's "Days of Pompei". I give myself a lot of credit for being able to sit through all fucking twenty-four tracks of this weirdness. In the end, I'm glad I did. This is definitely not for everyone. Not for a lot of people at that. But if your in for a penny, you better be in for a pound.
James Damion

MichaelIronside  Bandcamp

Pre-Order The Everymen's - "New Jersey Hardcore"

Pre-orders are now available for The Everyman's "The Everyman Presents New Jersey Hardcore". The record release date is set for October 9th and will be released on KillingHorse Records. Pre-ordering the record allows you "The coolest kid on the block" street cred award for the first week of October and an immediate download of the lead single "Coney Island High". Pre-Order  Here

Friday, September 28, 2012

Voivod Debut Single From Upcoming Album

Canadian Thrash Gods Voivod have debuted a new song via Pitchfork. "Mechanical Mind" will be released as a single on October 9th and will be featured on the bands upcoming release "Target Earth" due out January 22, 2013. Get it here Mechanical Mind

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bad Brains "Look Into The Future" Streaming

Legendary D.C. Hardcore band the Bad Brains announced a November release of the album
"Into the Future". The bands first album since 2007's "Build A Nation". The band is streaming the title track to "Into the Future" on Rolling Stone. You can listen to it Here .

Dag Nasty's Original Lineup to Reunite

The Black Cat in Washington DC will host an evening of DC hardcore/punk on December 28, 2012 that will include the reunion of the original lineup of Dag Nasty! That's right, the original lineup.
Brian Baker, Roger Marbury, Shawn Brown, Colin Sears

Scheduled to appear:

Dag Nasty (lineup of Shawn Brown, Brian Baker, Roger Marbury, and Colin Sears)
Government Issue
Black Market Baby
and special guests! (One can only allow their mind to wander.)

This is a night to celebrate the filming of ‘Salad Days’ documentary which should be released around that time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mr. T Experience Digitally Release Entire Catalog

Mr. T Experience have digitally re-issued their entire catalog. Much of the bands material has become difficult to come by since the demise of the bands long time label Lookout Records. Amongst the many tracks that were released by the influential label. Their cover of the entire Ramones classic "Road to Ruin" album is also being made available.There is no news of physical records being re-issued at any time in the near future. However, we can hope that public demand will warrant such. You can buy the songs through Amazon and iTunes
James Damion

The Mr. T Experience

Samiam Offer Collection of Demos from 1994-95

Pop Punk giants Samiam are offering demos from their "Clumsy" and "You Are Freaking Me Out" recording sessions.  You can download them here and thank me later. James Damion

Samiam Demos  Bandcamp

"All These Noises" Download Available Now

StarBeat Music and
TJO Presents offer
"All These Noises". A collection of sounds from both companies. The music covers the local scenes of New York and New Jersey while spreading to Massachusetts, Tennessee and California.
The compilation features suck local favorites as Boy Things, Melissa and Paul,
Bern and the Brights and Boxed Wine amongst others. There's something for everyone here. How can you go wrong? James Damion

All These Noises
StarBeat Music
TJO Presents

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eastern Anchors - Drunken Arts And Pure Science (expected release date 10/06/2012)

In the Eastern Anchors I hear an underlying love for 90's indie rock, but luckily EA never wears their influences to boldly on their sleeves, which ultimately lets me enjoy the music based on it's own merits and not on its influences, and believe me there is a lot to love in the Eastern Anchors sound.
Musically, Eastern Anchors deliver all the catchy hooks you would expect from the best indie rock bands, however they also have a knack for infusing big heavy riffs into their's like indie rock on steroids, and I like it.

On the Eastern Anchors debut album "Drunken Arts And Pure Science" the band lays down 11 tracks of perfectly crafted, hook infused indie rock with a heavy edge that to my ears lands them  somewhere between Built To Spill, Chavez or even Torch at times...check out the opening riff to "Herzog Help Me" to get an idea of what I am attempting to describe.  In closing, if you like songs that you can raise your fist and bang your head to, yet also sing the melody in your head for the rest of the day then I urge you to give the Eastern Anchors a listen.Also, if you like a record that unfolds and reveals more and more nuances with each repeated listen then this record is for you, "Drunken Arts and Pure Science" is an excellent album that simply gets better and better with each repeated listen...Dave G.

Eastern Anchors
Band Camp

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chain of Strength Reunion Teaser

More reunion announcements from Revelation Records as California's Chain of Strength set to fill NY's Irving Plaza in October. I fondly remember the band camping out on our living room floor when they first arrived on the East Coast. Get your tickets before it's too late. James Damion

Mr. Wolfe's Cleaning Service - EAC Gallery 09/29/2012

Mr. Wolfe's Cleaing Service is a current band featuring Daniel Derella AKA Danny Dog original guitarist for NYHC legends Underdog.  

What you need to know is that MWCS combine elements of hardcore and punk to form a catchy uptempo sound that will keep your head bopping and your feet tapping. 

If your in Brooklyn on September 29th stop in and check out MWCS  live and in person. If you can't make the show simply click the  link below to hear a live set from 11/2011...Dave G.

Live Show

EAC Gallery: 
1501 Broadway , Brooklyn, New York 11211
From Manhattan, J Train to Brooklyn, Halsey St station, walk one block to show..

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cicada Radio: Silence the Voices in my Head

Cicada Radio is; 
Patrick Keefe - Vocals/Guitar  Michael Keefe - Guitar/Vocals 
Chris D' Ambrosio - Bass  Mike Kundrath - Drums

New Jersey's Cicada Radio and United By Rocket Science have a lot more in common than one might think. As a matter of fact we kind of grew up alongside one another in the same neighborhoods, even listened to a lot of the same bands when developing our style and presence. The fact that the bands first EP "Imposter" was released around the same time this blog launched it's very first posts. Or maybe that the bio on the groups
Killing Horse Records page quotes our review of that record in describing their sound and influences. Regardless, Cicada Radio is a band that has left a lasting impression on us since day one.  Now, with a new offering "No fate but what we make" due soon. I decided to reach out to the band to get the 411 on just what they've been up to. Thanks to the brother Keefe for their time.
James Damion

James: I haven't seen the band in months. Have you been keeping a low profile due to the new record? Or are you just looking to avoid any Imperial entanglements?

Michael: We have been working hard on the new release, and hence, have taken time from doing shows on a consistent basis...Although we haven't stopped doing shows altogether. We get a bunch of show offers all the time, I wish we could do all of them, but we are really focusing on making this upcoming record really cool and special. We played Maxwell's recently with
Holy City Zoo (who lent their vocals on almost every track on the new release) Plus Plus Minus and Avoider.
Although at the moment we have been somewhat elusive as of late, I assure you that we are lining up quite a few shows for the fall to promote the new release.

James: Tell us a little bit about the new record "No fate but what we make".
When will we have it in our dirty little hands?

Michael: We have been working on this record for quite some time with Ryan Gross
(co-founder of Killing Horse Records) and are very excited for our fans to hear it! Since we released "IMPOSTER"  last June, we have seen a tremendous amount of support from the local scene, the Tiny Giant artist collective and our friends and fans. The new record will not disappoint fans of our last release. We have grown tremendously as a band and I think our song writing reflects how far we have come. Although we are incredibly happy with "IMPOSTER", we believe our fans will really dig this record. It's raw, its live and packed full of emotion and sing along gang vocals that really capture what we sound like as a band when you see us live.

James: How many songs have you recorded? Is there an underlying theme or current to the songs?

Michael: This record will have 8 songs in total. Our last release had 4 including an acoustic song that Pat had written for quite some time. I feel as though this record summarizes our style as a band more so then anything we have ever done. When we did our last e.p,
Mike Kundrath had recently joined the band and we were still trying to find our sound so to speak. Our fans will definitely see a similarity between our last release and the current one, similar themes like the need to belong somewhere, saying goodbye to the past, dominating your own future, sleeplessness, loneliness, and surviving in the world while making an indelible mark.

James: You're working with Killing Horse Records again. What is it about the label, Mike and Ryan that made you want to return?

Michael: Killing Horse records has been a TREMENDOUS help to the band. Mike and Ryan have been such huge supporters of the band even before we signed with their label. As we grow as a band, they too grow as a label. Killing Horse has helped us a lot on this record, its rare that a day goes by where I don't talk to at least one of them about the band or the album or anything band related. The entire Killing Horse family has extended a lot of support for the band and we are very happy to work with them on this upcoming release.

James: With "No Fate but what we make" being released on CD. Is there any chance we'll see something similar happening with your debut "Imposter"?

Michael: We would love to release "IMPOSTER" on a cd format. I continue to be so enthralled with the enthusiasm our friends and fans have extended toward that record.
To this day, I still get people come up to me at shows and say "Dude, I still listen to that record all the time"
(or something to that degree) and that means so much to me and the band. Its enthusiasm like this that makes it all worth it as a band, the fact that we struck a chord with people in such a profound way makes it all worth it!

James: The last time we spoke. You mentioned the band had recently took a trip to Boston. Will you be taking the new record out on any extended trips or tour?

Patrick: Yes, we did a show up in Boston in July and we had a blast! It was a small show with about 40 or so people and left Boston with a bunch of new friends and fans of our music. We have a few friends who are big supporters or Cicada Radio in the Mass area who were kind enough to get us on a bill with them..but we didn't expect that kind of unanimous support from an audience whom (as a whole) had never seen us live. Our friends had shared "IMPOSTER" with their friends last June so a lot of their friends were excited to finally see us live. It's strange, but very awesome, when a room full of people who you don't personally know are singing all the words to "Storm the Castle" at the top of their lungs. Very cool stuff.

James: The bands sound mixes a lot of varied influences and elements. What were some of the bands or genres that influenced you most when you first set out to start a band and write music?

Michael: We have always been influenced by a wide variety of music, ranging from Punk to Jazz to post-hardcore and beyond. I would say some of our bigger influences that helped shape our sound would be bands like Rival Schools, Pavement,  the Casket Lottery, Fucked up, Cursive, Surfer blood and Thursday.  As a whole, we all listen to a lot of different music, but I feel as though that makes our sound that much more unique.

James: I really hate asking generic questions but I was very curious about the bands name. Whenever I hear it I think of Radio's inability or refusal to cover anything that isn't fronted by a corporation or major label. Thus silencing or trying to snuff the voice of anything independent. I wanted to ask you about what it means to you while assuring you that I am not on drugs.

Michael: Hahaha... We get this question a lot. At first, I think we just kinda liked the way the words sounded together. But as time goes on I think the name has taken on a greater meaning. Cicadas live underground for years and years before they emerge to make that strange sound that has become synonymous with the summer.... then dying abruptly a few weeks later. I believe the name Cicada Radio reflects trends in popular music, how everyone waits for the "next big sound" to shape music for decades to come. As you have mentioned, the inability of the music industry to embrace a band or new "sound' that doesn't  have a major label or tons of money behind it is a frustrating reality for musicians. However, our name reflects the fact that these trends or new  revolutionary sounds will have an impact on music and radio no matter how much opposition it faces..the fact that no matter what your art has an impact on the world in a big way despite whether the mainstream recognizes it or not. 

James: Patrick, you were originally playing drums. When did you decide to make the change? Was it a challenge moving from the security of the drums to being the bands frontman?

Patrick: Well we have always been friends with Mike Kundrath long before we had the notion of joining forces. I played the drums for a couple of years in the band and we did a few shows as a 3 piece. We had a ton of fun and made some friends..but it was hard to solidify the sound of the band from behind the kit. In order to grow in the way that we did, we decided it was time to make a change. I have always been a fan of mike's drumming style, and he was a big fan of the band and my song writing. I feel that Mike in the band has made it easier for me to write as a frontman along with adding another cool dynamic from Mike's unique drum style.

James: Rock history has been fraught with battling brothers. What do Mike and Patrick usually butt heads on? Or am I just starting rumors and making things up?

Michael: Most of the arguments that pat and I have are hardly ever music related...rather dumb brother quarrels similar to that of any other sibling dynamic. Pat and I work very well together in the band.  Our styles and influences may be kinda different, but we have always been able to find common ground as far as song writing. We have been writing music together since we were in high school, so our styles have developed as such both individually and as a unit.   

James: What will history say about the Keefe's?

Michael: Well hopefully the history written about us will extend far beyond music...
I someday hope to become a crooked Senator  for some backwards red state and I'm pretty sure that Pat wants to travel to the past to screw with the space time continuum...
But we'll see how that goes.

James: Patrick, everyone wants to know the inspiration behind the animal attire. Each time I've seen the band live, you've worn shirts depicting happy cats, inspired wolves and other cuddly wildlife creatures. What's behind this awesome fashion statement? Do you have a favorite animal tee?

Patrick: The animals on my tee shirts are my spirit guides and representations of myself...Sometimes cute and cuddly, other times ferocious like the noble wolf. My favorite animal Tee is probably the kitten shirt, everybody likes cats..they're second in internet popularity next to porn.

Cicada Radio - Like Me (From the upcoming release)  Download

Cicada Radio  Facebook
Cicada Radio  KillingHorse Records

Four Fingers - Custodians of Light Full length Lp 2012

Four Fingers have been kicking around the New Jersey underground for quite some time now...7 or 8 years as a matter fact, and we here at UBRS have been major supporters of the band in the past and for good reason...
Four Fingers kick ass on record and are a completely out of control force to be reckoned with live.

On this the bands first full length Lp we get  intense neck snapping hardcore music that lives up to my high expectations and surpasses the promise of their earlier recordings. I hear everything from old school NY/Boston hardcore to Black Flag mixed with the full speed ahead style of bands like Drop Dead at times, but don't take my word for it, buy a record or check out the Four Fingers band camp page and form your own opinion.

In other news, the Four Fingers record release party is coming up November 16th...check the link below for more details. Also the band is hooking everyone  up with a free copy of this Lp with their $8 paid admission to the record release can't beat a show and an awesome record for $8.00, so if you're in New Jersey on November 16th get off your ass and support one of NJ's best hardcore/punk bands..Dave G. 

Record Release Party Details
Four Fingers

Avoider - 2012 Demo

After witnessing  New Jersey's Avoider turn an opening spot at Maxwell's into a showcase of headlining promise. I was eager to dig a little deeper in order to see what the band had to offer.
Upon hearing this demo I see a band who's potential seems limitless. Avoider mixes elements of Metal, Hardcore, Sludge and Stoner Rock perfectly. Dishing out some really impressive results.
One can revel in the guitar work Arben Colaku displays on these six tracks. Switching up gears and varying from a full on Metal assault to a sludgier, somewhat evil grind. In particular, I really dug the swampy riffs that
"Toxic Sludge" offered. Warren Swan's vocal style rivals the oft baritone sound of his contemporaries with style that had me thinking back to the days of Leeway's Eddie Sutton. With song titles like "Pervert in a Candy Shop" and "Dick Parade", How can you possibly go wrong? Go download the bands demo on Bandcamp and be sure to check them out live. You will not be disappointed. James Damion

Avoider  Facebook

An Eastern Anchors Rockumentary Trailer

Although I just recently became aware of this incredible band, I am excited to see this Documentary on a Jersey Band that definitely warrants the "Rock Doc" treatment. 
Check this trailer out and see why. James Damion

Boxed Wine - S/T EP

I don't know what took me so long to get around to
Boxed Wine. Having first heard about this awesome foursome from Adam Bird of
Those Mockingbirds. It wasn't until Boxed Wine's own lead guitarist Ralph Nicastro contacted me personally that I set aside some time to sample the bands debut.
Now, as far as debuts go,
this is about as good as it gets. Five songs of fun, quirky and very danceable gems that remind me of a cross between Vampire Weekend and
Boy Things. There's a warm, nerdy goodness to the songs that can't be overlooked. Songs like "Oh No" and "Feral" are instantly satisfying yet admirably memorable. The band has a three song follow up coming soon. In the mean time, go download their debut and get dancing.
I know I did.
James Damion

Download  Bandcamp
Boxed Wine  Facebook

"Salad Days" Documentary in the Works

SALAD DAYS  is a documentary-in-progress that examines the fertile Washington, DC punk scene of the 1980s. This was a particularly important time in the evolution of punk and independent music, with DC based bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Market Baby, the Faith, the Slickee Boys, Void, Government Issue, Marginal Man, Dag Nasty, 9353, 
Gray Matter, Beefeater, Scream, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, Shudder to Think, 
Nation of Ulysses, Jawbox and others defining the DC aesthetic. Local record labels like Dischord, Fountain of Youth, Teen Beat, and Simple Machines would become standard-bearers for the DIY revolution. 

Descendents Offer Up Bonus Cups

The Descendents store is now offering up bonus cups for your favorite beverage.
Drink deep!

Birth Deformities - Suburbanized 10" (Cowabunga Records) 2012

Debut 10" color  vinyl from this new Chicago band featuring 1/2 of Cülo and Nick Sick from Cowabunga Records on vocals.

Musically, Birth Deformities deliver excellent mostly mid-tempo hardcore/punk that leans more towards the punk rock side of things which is fine with me.  The band also pick up the pace on a select few tracks which helps  keep things varied and interesting, and Nick delivers his vocals in a clear yet angry style that suits the music perfectly. 

I know there are a lot of new school punk hardcore bands on the scene at the moment and the scene can feel a bit crowded at times, but bands like Birth Deformities remind me that some bands will always find a way to rise above the competition and find their way into my regular rotation, and hopefully into yours....welcome to my regular rotation Birth Deformities...Dave G.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Making a Case for the Violin with Tory Anne Daines

It was a year ago September when I first saw Those Mockingbirds perform at the Brick City Riot Festival in Newark, New Jersey. I was covering the three day event for Jersey Beat and experiencing many of the bands for the very first time. I recall standing in front of the stage. My energy sapped from hours and days on my feet and running between floors to catch the bands performing on two separate stages. As I stood there, Roz Smith of the
Aquarian Weekly, a woman I had just met hours before leaned forward and said,
"You're going to need to wake up for this." "Those Mockingbirds are really something else."
I learned two important things that night that have served me well since. 1. Roz Smith has very good taste in music. 2. A band can still kick some serious ass with a full time violinist in the mix. Since that night I've seen those Mockingbirds perform numerous times, had their record in heavy rotation and had a sit down with the bands lead singer. Still, Tori remained a point of interest. So one day recently, I reached out to the bands violinist/keyboardist to find out a little more about her background, influences and just what makes her tick.
Here's what she had to share. James Damion

James: Give me a little background on your involvement in music and how you became one of Those Mockingbirds.

Tory: I joined Those Mockingbirds back in 2009.
Our frontman Adam Bird called me up and asked if I could play keys, I said yes and showed up with a keyboard AND a violin. That's what I play in the band now. I initially didn't sing for this band either, in fact I wouldn't even get in front of a mic.
This is the first band I've ever sung in. 

James: Most kids I've come across think it's their worst nightmare when their parents give them a violin to learn.
What led you to pick up the instrument?

Tory: My mother was an opera singer and because of that I didn't want to sing but instead play the violin, I guess I was a spiteful child. I chose the violin because I thought they were the coolest instruments played in the pit orchestras at the opera rehearsals I frequently had to sit through. When I was 3 I decided that I HAD to play that instrument and convinced my family I was ready for lessons. I was so excited I can remember my first lessons clearly, where I marched around the music studio proudly screeching out the note A, over and over. 

James: What was the hardest part about learning the violin and how would you compare it to learning other string instruments?

Tory: Any fretless instrument is more difficult to pick up initially than a tempered one like a piano or guitar. Much of playing the violin is muscle memory, muscle memory you use to place your fingers on the fingerboard so they're in tune. It's called memory for a reason too- you really just have to play those scales and etudes to the point where it's automatic, and that will take years. When you learn to play the instrument in tune you can begin to manipulate the sound, like you would with your singing voice , by adding in vibrato, dynamics, and phrasing. When you get to that level you REALLY fall in love with the instrument, but getting there does take a lot of patience. 

James: Did you have any specific artists, classical or modern, that influenced you or moved you enough to want to master it?

Tory: My mother and my Godfather, Michael Sylvester, really inspired me from the
get-go because they had already mastered their craft.
My Godfather used to sing the tenor roles at The MET in NYC, so when my family went to sit in on his dress rehearsals I used to sit and watch the violins in the pit orchestra.
Seeing good music on such a grandiose stage would inspire anyone. The bands that initially inspired me to play rock are the classics. Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Bowie,... basically all those bands you need to play loud on your stereo to work through High School hormones.
It wasn't until college I really started listening to new bands.

James: Would you say you have a certain style or approach to the violin that others might not have?

Tory: When I was learning to play the violin I spent a lot more time shaping my sound than I spent learning technical pieces. If you listen to a lot of very good players, they'll hammer out some really fast pieces well but if you ask them to play a simple melody it will sound dry. I'm not trying to knock those players, it's really all in how you approach the instrument.
The fact that I can play a simple melody well and play technically sets me apart from many players, also the fact that I play in a rock band and use effects- but that's a given. As far as style goes, I'm a classical player with some Spanish influences.

James: You went from a student to a teacher. What was that like? I can't begin to imagine how rewarding it would be.

Tory: It's weird for sure... you spend so much time questioning yourself after your own lessons that when it comes time to teach someone else, you really have to flip a switch and be confident in what you have learned. The most rewarding thing about teaching for me is watching kids fall in love with music. When your young students have been working on something for weeks and finally get it, their faces are brighter than the sun.

James: There aren't many Rock bands that feature a violin player as a full time member. The bands that do feature them often wait for that epic ballad or swan song if they ever do include one. How do you approach playing it like a rock instrument?

Tory: It depends on what I think the song calls for. If it is a ballad, I'll write like it's a violin.
If it's a quirky song, I'll write like it's another lead guitar. If it's a hard rocker, I'll try and mimic some of the vocal lines- or I'll just pretend like I'm writing strings for Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." Also bringing effects into the mix this past year has added a new level to my writing.

James: You have a very captivating stage presence.
I could be totally off here but you almost seem to take on a persona on stage. How do you see yourself when you're performing? How do you think you are perceived? How would you describe yourself off stage as opposed to what we see at a Those Mockingbirds show?

Tory: I don't think I necessarily have a persona, more so I'm just really happy. I'm kind of a stressed out person by nature but when I step onto a stage I leave behind whatever issues I have going on in my life and just play.
The stage is also a place for me to dress as I'd like to dress; I usually don't get the opportunity to wear a sheer cape and 5 inch heels  teaching kids. 

James: You also play the keys in the band. How much of a challenge is that and which do you feel is your stronger instrument?

Tory: The keys are a bit of a challenge for me because it is my secondary instrument.
I've been playing the violin for over twenty years and studying the whole time. I played the piano when I was a kid and really only picked it up again a few years ago in college.

James: A lot of people are noticing the band. The record received stellar reviews, your playing out on a consistent basis and you have a shot of getting on Letterman.
How has playing in the band affected your every day life?

Tory: Sometimes I feel like working for success in a band is as frustrating as trying to explain a circle into a square, and it feels good to get some positive feedback and to have new venues open up to us. Knowing that people really like what we're doing has made it easier to handle whatever comes at us.

James: I understand you'll be heading into the studios with Those Mockingbirds in a few days. What's in the works? 

Tory: We're heading up to New Hampshire in a week to track with Dean Baltulonis at 
The Wild Arctic Studios, with Howard Willing mixing the record. Traveling out of state and camping in studio to record is a first for this band. I'm really excited to work with my bandmates out of our element; with no work, no bills, just focusing on our music. 

James: You recently stopped in at Hoboken's Water Music  to record with Dyvekah. How did the opportunity come about?

Tory: It's all John Agnello's fault! He texted me the night before the recording asking if I was available to track violin for an artist he was producing, and the next morning I was at 
Water Music Studios in Hoboken tracking with engineer Sean Kelly. It was great working with such talented people, John, Sean, Dyveke and great sharing the track with Steve Shelley, Heather McIntosh, and Tad Kubler. I had a wonderful time and I really can't thank John enough.

James: Were you familiar with her work? I heard the two of you really gelled quickly.

Tory: I had never heard of Dyveke before the recording and I really don't know why, because she is very talented! Dyveke and I got along really well in recording and became friends during the whole process. After the tracking was done, the whole lot of us at the studio went out for some drinks. Dyveke and I discovered that we are both terrible at pool, and that we both started out with classical training and went "dark side," writing and playing rock. 
I was surprised how well we got on and I wish that she was closer, not all the way out in Norway.

James: You mentioned earlier about the struggles of balancing the band with work, teaching and paying the bills. When your having doubts and wondering if it's all going to happen.
Is there someone or something specific that makes you realize that it will?

Tory: Nothing in the music industry is certain. If you're in this industry to make something happen, you're just going to let yourself down. There is no 'making it' and there is no miracle in signing to a label, there are just the fans and the music. I was born to play music and it's what I do, no matter how tough things are, I will always be playing music.

Upcoming Event:
Those Mockingbirds @ Asbury Lanes Friday Sept. 21st Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jim Testa's Interview with The Front Bottoms

There's no handbook for Punk Rock
By Jim Testa

Bar-None Records released the Front Bottoms’ self-titled  full-length just about a year ago, and in that time, singer/guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Matt Uychich (along with touring bassist/keyboardist Drew Villafuerte) have literally seen the world, touring almost constantly from coast to coast and overseas, playing everything from small clubs to major festival stages.  And it was barely a year before that when the Front Bottoms were still hustling for weeknight gigs at DIY spaces like Montclair’s all-ages Meat Locker, slowly building a devoted following of giddy fans singing along to Sella’s fanciful,  passionate, generation-defining, and often cinematic lyrics.
Will success spoil the Front Bottoms?  We don’t think so, but just to be sure, we checked in with Brian shortly before the band finished enjoying a brief mid-summer respite and hit the road again for a two-month tour that will take them first to England with the Menzingers,  then through the U.S. and Canada with the Cheap Girls, including stops at
The Fest in Gainesville and Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin.
The FB’s will be at Santos Party House in New York City on October 19;  for more tour dates, visit The Front Bottoms

Front Bottoms Photos courtesy of Dan Bracaglia

Jim: This last year has been pretty amazing for you guys. What’s it been like from your perspective? Does it all seem like a dream sometimes?

Brian:  Yeah, it’s been crazy.
You probably know better than anyone, you got into us right as we were about to sign with
Bar None and just as we started going on those crazy tours.
I was talking to my mom today and she was telling me that she was in Shop Rite where I used to work, and she saw this woman that I used to work with there, and this woman was asking about me and wanted to know about the band.  And my mom just stopped for a second and said, ‘Brian, I am just so happy for you that you’re not working at Shop Rite anymore.’  And it just sort of hit me.
It’s really crazy that it’s only been a year… Not that we’re taking over the world or anything, but it just feels very, very positive and very good.  It feels like we’re headed in a good direction and I’m very proud of all the tours we’ve gotten to go on.  And everything else.
It’s exciting and I’m excited to start the whole process over again.

Jim: Was there ever one particular moment when you just suddenly realized, ‘I’m not the guy who works at Shop-Rite and plays in this band on weekends anymore, I’m a musician’?

Brian:  Oh God… It’s kinda hard to say. It’s still a lot of hustle, and I’m still poor. I’m still running around trying to make things work. It’s definitely a process. But you’re right.
I do have to stop every once in a while and just think, you should be happy about what’s going on, because it’s something to be proud of.  Matt and I do talk about how excited we are about how things are going. And when you stop and really think about it, this is my dream. So in a way my dream has come true, as weird as that sounds. So it’s exciting, and I’m very happy, and I’m just very proud of what me, Matt, and Drew have been able to accomplish. So yeah, it’s great, it feels very positive.

Jim: Did you ever read the piece that Geoff Rickley wrote about being in Thursday, about how the best year they ever had as a band on a major label, he made less money than he made working at the Gap folding pants?

Brian: (laughs)  Yeah, I did read that. It was very inspirational.

Jim: But I have to assume he was much happier on tour with Thursday than he ever was at the Gap.

Brian: Of course. But you know,  there’s a lot to be learned from that. It really does take a lot out of you.  I’m not speaking from experience, and hopefully I never will be, but I can imagine how disheartening that situation would be. We’re not anywhere near that point yet.

Jim: Kids think about how awesome it would be to live on tour all the time, but they don’t think about living out of a suitcase or being away from your family and girlfriend for months at a time, or all the other sacrifices that go with the lifestyle.

Brian: It definitely is a trade off. Honestly, you’re probably right when you say that when he was on the road with Thursday, it probably was the best years of his life. At least I hope that I’m able to say that.  I’m sure if things end up where I’m in an office job someday,
I’ll definitely look back and say my best years were spent with Matt and Drew, driving around the country and playing shows every night.  Making little or no money, but still getting to do it.  That’s what you think about, not how much money you’re making or not making, but that you’re out there doing it every night.

Jim: Typically with my musician friends, they’ll complain on the road that they can’t wait to get home, and then once they’re home for a week, they’ll say that they can’t wait to go on tour again.

Brian: Oh yeah, I know that feeling. This right now is probably the longest I’ve been home since we started touring so much a year ago. It’s been three weeks that I’ve been home, and I’m going crazy. Oh my god, give me something to do. But it’s good because I’ve gotten a chance to write a lot of new stuff, which is definitely needed.  Time off is needed.

Jim: There’s that famous saying that you get 21 years to write your first record, and six months to write your second.  You’re in that position now. Do you find you can write on the road? Or do you have to be home and have a regular schedule?

Brian: Some people can write on the road and some people can’t. The road for me is more or less just gathering information.  I’m just writing things down in my notebook and recording things on my cellphone.  But the real work… if I’m going to put together a song, I have to sit down for an extended period of time and really hack at it.  So it’s hard to write on the road for me, and honestly, I’ve never written a song on the road.   So being on tour for as much as we were, and then coming home, it was nice to be able to sit down and tell myself, okay, now is the time I’m going to write the next album.   Most of it’s written now. There’s still work to be done but this past three weeks is when the album really came together.  So it’s been exciting.  I think this new stuff is really coming together, I think it’s matured and I think people are going to like it.  I hope, anyway.

Jim: Your first batch of songs was so awesome, and audiences really fell in love with those songs, so I’m wondering… do you ever have moments of self doubt when you start thinking, oh my god, I’ll never write another song as good as “Maps” or whatever…  Do you worry about topping what you’ve already done?

Brian: It’s a pretty terrifying thought, to be honest. And in all honesty, it has snuck up on me. There are slower days when I haven’t been able to write, and I had a lot more time to think than I wish I had, and you start thinking, well, maybe that was it, maybe that was the best of the best. So it’s important to have a good support system, and specifically, Matt. Matt is always full-steam ahead, and he loves those old songs and he thinks they’re awesome, but he’s ready to make better songs.  He’s ready to move on, and when you have a partner like that, that’s constantly in that mindset, that ‘yeah, we’ll make something better than this… If it’s not coming together, don’t worry, we’ll throw it out and start over because we have better ideas to work with.’ Even Drew has been very encouraging, specifically when we were on the road with Say Anything and Kevin Devine. Our van got broken into and we got robbed, and my backpack was stolen.  It had basically everything I owned in it – my laptop, my iPod, all my music, everything – and it had all my notebooks in it. Like three years of notes that I’d been writing on tour. And it was really a heartbreaking experience.
I never really had to deal with anything like that before. And Drew just told me, it’s okay. We’ll get through it. You have to be okay with it because you have no choice. So when you have people like Matt saying, ‘Oh yeah, that sucks, but don’t worry about it because you’ll write better things anyway.’ And Drew says, ‘You have better things to write than what was in those notebooks.’ And so I realized that yeah, you just have to move on. It was a scary thought, but I’m confident about the new stuff  we’ve written.

Jim: The number of people whose second record was better than their first is pretty small – Elvis Costello, the Ramones, maybe Nick Lowe – but I’m looking forward to putting you on that list.

Brian: Well, thank you. I’m excited. I’m hoping that I’ll be honored with the privilege of being included in that company. And when you think about it, it is a little scary. But you just have to have fun with it.  Me and Matt love making songs.  Even now, we’ll just go to the practice space, we’ll buy a 12-pack of beer, and we’ll just hang out.  That is the whole point, and that is what we love to do. And when a song does start coming together… there’s always that moment when I’ll look at him, he’ll look at me, if Drew’s there we’ll look at him, and we’ll all just know that something is happening. You’re never sure if a song is going to come together and when it does, it’s just like ‘YES!’  It feels so good. This is awesome.  Nothing else matters, this song is cool.  Songs are really the only things that last when you’re making music.

Jim: They don’t teach how to be in a touring rock band in high school or college…

Brian: I wish they did!

Jim: when you get to tour with a Kevin Devine or a
Say Anything, people who have done this for years and years, do you find yourself learning from them?
Not like you sit down and take lessons, but just from observing how they pack a suitcase for tour, for instance, or what they bring on the road with them?

Brian: Oh God, yes. Absolutely.  Especially someone like Kevin, who’s been doing it for so long and basically has it down to a science. The tour that me and Matt did with Kevin was the longest tour that we had been on to date, and he had been on tour for two months before that.  You just have to open your eyes and have respect and you’ll learn a lot.  Kevin taught us so much. Even the guys from Say Anything or the guys from Fake Problems, basically every band we’ve played with has taught us something.
I think the fact that Matt and me have wanted to do this for so long does make it a little easier. If someone called me tonight and asked if we wanted to leave for tour tomorrow morning, and it was a good offer, we’d be ready.  We’d throw some shit in a backpack and we’d just go. Because we are still so excited about all of this. And you learn, you learn. Like even with the van, when it got broken into.  That was a huge thing.  But we will never get robbed again.   That’s the mindset we have now. We’ve got the van locked down, we’ve got new locks, we’re more security conscious.  So you learn.  You go and talk to these other bands, and you tell them ‘you know, we got robbed,’ and mostly what every band says is, ‘Well, that’s the first initiation.  Congratulations, welcome to the club.’  It’s a learning process and for as long as I’m on tour, I’ll continue learning about how to be on tour. So it’s nice and it is something that me and Matt enjoy, but touring with someone like Kevin just teaches you so much and basically humbles you.  It’s nice to have somebody like Kevin who’ll show you the ropes, and tell you ‘here’s how you do that’ or ‘no, you’re not going to need that.’   It’s just nice.  Like you said, there’s no handbook.   There’s no learner’s manual for punk rock.

Bob Mould - The Descent - David Letterman 09/04/2012

I'll be damned...Bob Mould still kicks ass. Fine performance of a fine brand new song from Mr Mould's new Album "Silver Age"...Dave G.