Posts Tagged ‘Headbanging’
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Want some hard, ripping rock to channel through the cosmos? Adjust your antennae to The Age of the Universe. They’ve got enough psych, prog and alt rock to last you all the way home.
This isn’t my usual flavour for a fix, but you’ve gotta give credit where its due. Singularity is a haunting debut, and I’m sure it’ll stick on the right ears.
But why waste time when their press release says it all for me?: “Think members of Pink Floyd jamming with someone from Muse and Black Sabbath.”
By: Maria Ciezak
MARIA CIEZAK: How did you all meet?
ADAM BIRD: Tory and I met on a street corner in NYC, near the World Trade Center. She was holding her violin, getting ready to go into a show that she was attending with a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in a while. We talked for a few minutes and it turned out Tory would be moving from Rhode Island to NJ soon thereafter, so they exchanged info and stayed in touch. Everyone else somewhat knew each other in some shape or form, and once Tory and I had started the band up, a call was placed to Rob, who brought Kevin in with him, and then Jon came in last as the final piece.
MC: What’s the story behind the band name?
AB: The band name is a twist on a song title by an Australian band called Silverchair. Most people in the US who remember them at all, think of them as 16-year-old grunge kids, but they went on to become an extremely creative group. On their final album, they had a song called Those Thieving Birds, and I had been kicking around the idea of using the word “Mockingbird” in the new band’s name. Slam the two together, and you get Those Mockingbirds.
MC: Which do you prefer? Studio or touring?
AB: While studio is absolutely a great experience, it’s also a lot more stressful, because it’s almost like waiting for a child to be born. You’re doing everything you can to make sure it’s perfect and there are no hiccups, and that it comes out exactly as you had hoped, that most of the pleasure comes in at the end, once you’ve heard back what you’ve done. Touring, however, has that incredible thing where you connect with people every day and travel to cities that you don’t live in and feel a sense of wanting to conquer. It’s really exhilarating the entire time. I would have to say I prefer touring.
MC: If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?
AB: I’d be a pop star.
MC: New music, tell us about it…
AB: Our new record is called Penny The Dreadful. We moved to Portsmouth NH to record it and we are extremely proud of it. Lyrically, the overall theme is thwarting and/or managing evils in one’s life. Penny, is a character in a few of the songs, and so is the Devil. I use both characters to illustrate different evils of life, and perceptions on what is evil, because sometimes, the thing that looks evil from one person’s point of view, may not actually be, from someone else’s. It’s pretty much an exercise in Buddhist philosophy now that I think about it. Or maybe just me exorcising demons of mine. [Laughs]
MC: And of course, the video for How To Rob A Bank — where’d the concept come from?
AB: The new music video for How To Rob A Bank came to be after we had a few meetings with the director, John Komar, about having a good story in the video. We had two different leading ideas, one involving the bank heist, and the other involving kids playing the lead roles. We pretty much combined the two to make it what it became. Tory gets credit for most of the initial concept, but we all fleshed it out once we were confident with the idea. And funny story… We actually had to shoot the video twice. When we wrapped, John, the director, was transferring the files to a secure hard drive, and I kid you not, lightning struck his house and the files all got mushed together. We tried for a week to go into the code and pick them apart, but it was futile and we had to do it again from scratch. That was a very upsetting week. [Laughs]
MC: Where can people find you?
By: Caitlin Hoffman
I had a migraine when I turned on The Epidemics. By the time the album finished, my skull was screaming, and I was happy about it.
The best bands enhance your headaches. They don’t make the pain go away, but they make it better.
The Epidemics are Swedish and female-fronted, a Frankenstein built by the disembodied limbs of goth, metal, and punk rock. Though all the songs (I’ve heard) are written in English, their Facebook page is a collage of English and Swedish, reminding me passion knows no borders.
The sizzling, speedy guitars and grade-B lyrics are pure horror-punk, but not so abrasive that radio-rockers would faint. The sound is serrated, but sedated, a numbed edge on which to slide.
Waking Up the Dead was a strong first album, drawing genius (whether subconsciously or intentionally) from Die Mannequin, The Distillers, The Misfits and The Gits. The only song I could have done without is Never Grow Up, which means 90% of the album hit me the way it should’ve. That’s a brilliant ratio!
Now, they have half of their second album free to stream on The Pirate Bay- that’s how I discovered them in the first place. It will always blow me away when artists offer their art for free. They have to eat same as any of us, and yet here they are, turning their hearts into a no-pay buffet.
I’m amazed. I only hope I’ll have that strength one day.
By: Maria Ciezak
MARIA CIEZAK: For those who are unfamiliar with Terminal Gods, can you give us a brief backstory?
ROBERT MAISEY of TERMINAL GODS: Rob Cowlin and I have a firm policy of not talking about how we met in the queue outside the London Astoria, both going to watch a Leeds drum machine rock band that shall remain unnamed.
Josh and I knew each other from school and have lived together for a few years, so we formed the guitar section. Jonno plays in a disgustingly brilliant electro punk two-piece called HotGothic, who we gigged with many times, especially in the early days. When our original bass player left, we poached him. He’s dead good.
MC: Also, the name, some may think of as somewhat controversial. Is there a specific meaning?
TG: It’s pure ego and (justified) arrogance. It’s also a fitting description. It’s part of the name of a really cool Aubrey Beardsley painting (Venus Between Terminal Gods). It doesn’t have anything to do with any pseudo-religious Lovecraftian mumbo jumbo (although I do like a bit of Lovecraft, for personal use only mind you).
MC: Let’s chat about the release of your debut EP, Machine Beat Messiah (released November 25th). I’ve had the chance to listen and I’m totally digging the sound. How did the whole process go? Did the writing come first or the music?
TG: In a nutshell, the songs tend to start life with just me, a drum machine and a 12-string telecaster, usually at about 4 am. We then flesh them out all together in the rehearsal rooms and, if they pass the quality control, Cowlin will write some words and melody.
I wrote the basic music for The Resurrection Man because I had a new 12-string acoustic with butterflies on it and wanted a song that sounded like it’d been written on a guitar with butterflies on it. I failed.
The rest of the songs are just jazzed up Stooges tracks. Seriously. All of them.
MC: Maybe I’m jumping ahead of myself, or it’s wishful thinking, or both (laughs) — but any chance of a full-length in the near future?
TG: We have enough material for a full-length record, which we’ll make when someone gives us enough money and promotion to make it worth releasing.
In the meantime, we’re quite content putting out singles and EPs. This is something more bands should do. If you’re going to spend all of your money on releasing a chunk of vinyl with only a few songs on it, you’d better make damn sure those songs are worth releasing. This is called quality control. We kind of envisage our first album being a kind of best of with all our best singles redone in a really expensive studio, maybe with Steve Albini on guest drum machines. I’m totally sick of bands discovering a sound they kinda like and jumping straight into an album before they have actually written enough good songs to justify it.
I do like the idea of doing a live album though – this is something we’re talking about at the moment. It means we can put out a decent amount of songs on one record without actually committing to a “debut LP”. If it’s really really good, we can just claim it’s our Kick Out The Jams and was meant to be an album all along.
At the moment, we sell small runs of limited edition records to a passionate, but relatively small audience. This is great, but we’re not going to fire all of our guns at once (by releasing an album) before we’ve even got ourselves off the ground.
MC: I also love the video for King Hell. On a personal note, it makes me want to attend a show, for I feel like I’m at a concert when watching. Was that the whole vibe you were going for?
TG: We’re a live band, it’s where the best (and worst) of rock and roll really happens. We also wanted to save the money for studio rental for the video for The Wheels Of Love.
Originally we planned to film the video for King Hell from the back seat of a huge Dodge Challenger while cruising into the oil-smeared sunset of The Badlands, but we scrapped the idea when we realised everyone had already seen Mad Max.
All our videos are made by Andy Oxley of Screen 3 productions. He knows us, we know him. It’s nice to have loyalty to the people you work with, and it gives you a chance to grow as artists together. In my opinion, the main reason our videos tend to look pretty cool, despite shoestring budgets, is because Andy has spent a lot of time getting to know us and our music.
MC: You guys are doing so well in London right now — any chance of coming over to the states in the near future?
TG: Hopefully. We’ll just phone our huge record company and ask them to charter a jet.
But seriously, there are some awesome Americans that have really put their names behind us. A guy called Jason Ledyard who runs a club called Absolution in New York has been our constant champion. Another guy called Ken McIntyre who has an amazing radio show called Advanced Demonology wrote a lovely bit about us in Classic Rock magazine. If more Americans like the record and are willing to go out and tell lots of other Americans what nice guys we are, then I see no reason why we won’t eventually end up in the States. It worked with the Germans.
MC: What are some bands you guys are into right now?
TG: For me, it’s mostly bands rocking the London alt circuit. There’s so much new music out there, I tend to go for stuff I can go and watch live regularly. The new Vuvuvultures LP is pretty swinging and the new Purson album is like a psychedelic sex dream cut to record. I also liked the new White Lies album a lot, but White Lies albums always sound wonderful.
Josh has a huge hard-on for a Sheffield blues rock/stoner doom two-piece called Wet Nuns. Josh is into a lot of Doom right now. We do a live night called Club Roadkill which is dedicated to putting on garage bands of this nature. The next band we’re putting on are called LOOM. They’re an awesome dark punk anger management case making big waves in London right now.
Cowlin runs a night called A New Dusk, which is dedicated to playing vaguely foreign sounding coldwave/darkwave/coolwave two-piece guitar/drum machine bands with loads of reverb on everything. They all sound like Suicide meets Siouxsie and the Banshees and they all claim allude to being from New York, although I’m pretty sure most of them are actually from the suburbs of London.
Cowlin and I are always listening to James Rays Gangwar. I know you’ve never heard of them, no one has. But the fact that they’re one of the most overlooked treasures of rock and roll is one of the only things we can agree on.
As I write this, I’m sitting with our tour manager listening to a Red Lorry Yellow Lorry LP called Blow. It’s really really good.
MC: Sum up in five words why people should listen to Terminal Gods.
TG: Like goth, but not shit.
By: Maria Ciezak
If you’re a fan of rock music, or just good ass music in general, you need to get on board with J. Roddy Walston & The Business. Their new album, Essential Tremors, sits comfortably among the best of 2013.
MARIA CIEZAK: First of all, I want to tell you that Essential Tremors is one of the best records I have ever heard. So this first statement is a simple congratulations.
J. RODDY WALSTON & THE BUSINESS: I thank you kindly. Very nice of you to think and say that.
MC: I read that you guys were able to use your own stuff this time around on recording in Georgia, as opposed to at Sound City on the last record. In your opinions, did that make a huge difference?
JRW: In some ways it did. We still used a lot of Mark’s gear on this record. It was just nice to have the option to use our gear. Sometimes just knowing you can do something is as comforting as doing it. Billy played his own guitars for 99.9 percent of stuff and that was definitely more comfortable for him.
When you tour as much as we do, your gear is beyond familiar and other stuff can just throw you off in a serious way.
MC: What usually comes first with you guys — the music or the lyrics? Or does it vary?
JRW: Yeah, it varies. Sometimes it’s just a riff you stumble on, other times it’s a whole melody with lyrics that you came up with in your head while driving on a vacation. I don’t really understand song writing as a method. I just have an instinct that says it’s done, it’s good. Of course, there are the other guys in the band who also need to think that and have their own instincts. So the songs get beaten up pretty good.
MC: I’d have to say my favorite tracks on the record are Take It As it Comes and Same Days. But of course, I want to talk about the success of Heavy Bells. Did you guys always know this would be a single?
JRW: I always loved that song. The very end vocals were an improv thing I did late one night. I called Billy immediately and said I think this is the biggest payoff in a song we have ever written. But that recording is actually the demo, the studio version didn’t come out right.
That song wasn’t going to be on the record. I was freaking out. I called our manager and he sent the demo around again with the idea of just remixing it and everyone said that feels right.
MC: I have to talk about the video. It’s hilarious, and I feel like it describes you guys in a nutshell. Who thought of the concept? And can I play you all in wiffle ball?
JRW: Anytime you wanna feel the heat, you are welcome to challenge us to a game if wiffle ball. You should know that we are better at that game than music.
The video I had a loose concept for and then the director Matt Wignall and I brainstormed on it a bunch. Then the band had some input. It was a group effort for sure.
MC: One of the many reasons I respect you guys so much is that you are true, raw rock. I find more and more nowadays that bands are afraid to rock. So many bands sound alike — would you agree with that?
JRW: Yeah, rock and roll is hard to come by. It’s really hard to be a rock and roll band and still be artistic, creative and sincere. I think there are bands that want to go loud and fast, but they stumble on things like being ironic or complete rip offs or just the fact that what they are doing is cheesy. The path that we have chosen is not wide, easy, or clear.
MC: You guys are also about to embark on a tour, I believe tomorrow, October 23rd. I will be in attendance at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City. This will be my first experience of Live Business. I have heard such rave reviews. Anything fans, like myself, can expect on this tour?
JRW: We actually have been touring since September 5th and it seems like no matter how long it’s been we are getting no closer to the end. [Laughs] I don’t know what to tell you to expect. I never know what to expect. I think that is the best part of live music. We rarely have a set list. We have zero production, so there are no rules. We don’t have to hit the lighting marks or be a slave to elaborate backing tracks etc. I know we put it all out there every night. The biggest variable is the audience… If they give us something serious back, it’s like powder keg ready to explode.
MC: After a sixth release, what would you say has changed the most in the music business since you guys first started out making music?
JRW: The Internet and people having become lazy because it’s so easy to find music. People don’t have to search and scramble for anything. That’s probably why it’s less valuable.
MC: For anyone who isn’t yet convinced to purchase your new record, can you sell them for us?
JRW: I honestly have no idea how to supply you with that answer. If I knew I guess I would be shouting from the rooftops and be a rich man.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
More and more, I’m finding myself strung out by soul. Combining fiddles, electric mandolins and fizzling guitars with unexpected drumbeats, The Boston Boys have hooked a soniferous strangeness. At first play you find yourself insta-chilled, yet the longer you listen the more you find there’s definite movement beneath their deceptively cool exteriors.
Apparently they belong to the music style “Future Roots”, a smoothie-blend of soul, rock, americana and blues, topping it all off with the cherry of pop-friendly melody. One of the seven bands nationally selected for Obama’s re-election campaign, they are the poster boys of luck as well as hard work. What You Say?!, their first EP, was released in 2012, yet they’ve already snuck back into the studio to put down Keep You Satisfied, which won’t be officially let loose until October. However, if you’re thirsting for new vibrations, they’re already streaming it HERE.
Better still: though they formed in Boston (hence the name), they’re currently based in Brooklyn, and we all know how much BTB loves that borough!
By: Maria Ciezak
Every now and then, something in life comes along that grabs you by the neck and demands that you eat, sleep, and breathe it. In this scenario, for myself at least, it’s music. Artists and their craft always fascinate me, for it’s their own form of individualized expression. When I have a feeling or emotion that I want to share, it’s through writing. I also find a sort of release when listening to music that isn’t mine, even though I can always find a way to relate it to a situation in my life. This example shines through when attending a show. For an hour plus, I lose myself in an imaginative moment where I can pretend that every lyric is for me, and then when that last note is hit, reality strikes back in. Musicians perform and express their craft to put on a show and to entertain people who come out to see that show. Sometimes we forget that artists are real people, and when the lights go off on stage, they lead lives and strive to reach goals while perfecting their craft. However, in this instance, I am happy that one of my favorite bands, and certainly one of the most influential of my generation, are just as cool and as hardworking as they are portrayed to be.
I am currently 27 years of age, the same age as Brian Fallon when he wrote a little single called 59 Sound. I wonder what went on in his head upon writing this track, and if he anticipated that people would idolize his music. I don’t think anyone can ever be prepared for a situation like that, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s my time at this moment to let him know how much it’s affected me.
Saturday night, July 27th , marked a special anniversary for me. It was my 10th Gaslight Anthem show. Yes, I said it. 10th. I still feel like it was just yesterday when I was hosting a radio show in college, roughly in 2007, and I got this demo recording of a track called I’da Called You Woody, Joe. I needed to know more about this band, and more about their story. I started playing them, and slowly and steadily people started calling in, just as curious as I was. I attended a small show of theirs, and I knew in my head they were going to be one of the biggest bands on the planet. Sure, you can say that I must think that often while working in the industry. Hell, I don’t blame you for thinking that, but truthfully, I rarely ever have that thought. Another band from Jersey hoping to make it big? Well, I say, why can’t they? Why can’t a real rock and roll band sell a million records in days like this? Well, the answer is there is no reason that they can’t, because they prove everyday that they can. I think about a few bands that make hits, get thrown into categories and so-called genres, all battling for the same listener, just hoping to get that 15 seconds where they can grab your attention before you turn the dial. The Gaslight Anthem, however, struck me with originality, emotion, and talent. As weird as it may sound, I tend to get nervous when attending shows, for I feel as if it’s almost taking a ballsy risk. When you hear music on a record, it doesn’t always prepare you for what you are going to go see live. I personally want to see something original, I want to see a band perform their own work, and get the respect they deserve for it. And with The Gaslight Anthem, this is a match for what I feel.
Flash forward to 2013, six years later, and I am once again playing their music on the radio. Only this time around, you know all of the words, you won’t stop requesting it, and you attend their sold-out shows.
This, my friends, is a success story that I wish I could paint onto a canvas, because it’s more than music to me; it’s art.
Upon walking into Irving Plaza on Saturday night, I could hear the excitement, most of which consisted of fans wish-listing songs they hoped the band would play. Now, I have a confession to make: I am very protective of bands that I like, and truly believe in. If someone says something disrespectful, or even that I don’t agree with, I find myself having a hard time keeping my mouth shut. Again, I have to remember that these musicians are also human, and the idea I have formed of them in my mind may be completely tainted. Who they are on stage is not necessarily who they are in real life. Take actors, writers, and even people who work in major corporations for example. They always act different outside of work. However, with regards to Gaslight, I have the credentials to back up my thoughts. I had the opportunity to interview The Gaslight Anthem twice, once with the whole group, and once with Brian solo. Not to sit here and blow smoke up your asses, but they are just as genuine as they appear. They are a band that will never forget where they came from. They embrace their NJ roots and truly care about their craft as if anyone would care about their job. I found talking to Brian easy, like I could talk to him about music for days, because it’s not just a gimmick that he has to portray as a musician, it’s his passion. It’s truly who he is, and I honestly couldn’t see him doing anything else, just from the total 60 minutes I have spent with him in my life. I found it almost mesmerizing how much he cares about his projects, and how much thought process goes into each song. He once told me that bands would be a lot better off if they could admit that not every song they write is good. That statement alone made me respect him (and the band) even more than I already had.
As the lights went on Saturday, and they began singing Handwritten, I felt proud to be in that room, and grateful to be a part of the story that they always tell. As the iPhones came out and the pictures began to be taken, I really hoped inside my messed up brain that people would put their phones down and just pay attention — pay attention to what this man and his band have to say — because for that hour and fifteen minutes of time, they are yours. You could capture any digital picture, but just always know, that’s their craft, and it should be appreciated and respected for what it is. Even for a veteran concertgoer like myself, who has seen them a significant amount of times, it’s always a new show. Gaslight has established a dedicated following that has them stuffing every venue they play in. Aficionados, critics, and inquiring ears keep coming out because the band’s rigid, zealous rock and roll and raucous live shows make them the fieriest ticket in any town they play in. I write reviews on this band because I want to spill my heart out with how I’m feeling, just like they do in their work. Take this as more of a page in my diary instead of a person from the media boasting and critiquing music. Forgive me while I say some shit that may be offensive, but when you go to their shows, go because you want to experience the band, their work, and their art, not because you heard they may sound like this other band or because some celebrity may randomly pop up on stage. Yeah, those are fighting words, but these five fine individuals are worth a few knockouts.
In regards to their future work, I love the fact knowing that whatever they release will be different. I love watching artists grow and witnessing changes in their work. As we get older and wiser, different things influence our writing. I would never be a fan of a band whose records all sounded alike, and that whole “selling out” theory, to me, just goes in one ear and out other. I must admit, writing a live review of The Gaslight Anthem is somewhat complicated. They play incredibly hard each and every time, so yes, it can be hard to stay impartial. However, they will always give you an insane amount of positive content to rant on about. The band always finds the time to thank the crowd for coming out, but in reality, we should all be thanking them — not only for putting on a great show and pumping out amazing records, but for breathing new air into the lungs of a somewhat stale rock and roll era.
Until next time, boys. I’ll see you on the flip side.
By: Rob Brayl
Brooklyn-based duo XNY (Pam Autuori and Jacob Schrieiber), who originally met after overhearing each other practice through the walls of their apartment building, are creating buzz with their new music video for Jaw.
Directed by Raber Umphenour, Jaw shows the indie rockers having one major jam session on top of a New York City rooftop. The track, much like the city’s surrounding shell, is blunt and visceral.
Regarding filming the clip, Autori said: “It was 18 degrees out, on the top of a seven-story building… snowflakes, goosebumps, and all.”
That’s dedication, kids.
XNY’s new album, Orange, is set to drop August 13th.
By: Maria Ciezak
I recently had the opportunity to chat with one of rock’s hottest up and coming acts, Beware of Darkness. Kyle and Tony took the time to talk to BiggerThanBeyonce.Com about their new music, life on the road, and rising success. Their debut record, Orthodox, is available on iTunes now!
MARIA CIEZAK: First and foremost, I want to congratulate you guys on all the success. Tell us a little bit about how you the band came to be.
BEWARE OF DARKNESS: Thank you. We all met in LA. Tony and I met at an R&B show downtown, and we met Dan a bit after. Dan was living in New Jersey and found out he had a half-brother living in Santa Monica. He came out here to visit, and we all wound up meeting each other. Fate.
MC: Your sound is extremely full for a three-piece. In the past, did you ever consider adding more members?
BOD: Yes. It’s still a passing thought every now and then. Anyone and everyone who plays tuba or a related brass instrument should email email@example.com.
MC: Your debut record, Orthodox, is really getting quite a buzz. Can you tell us about the writing process on this album?
BOD: The writing process was get out every single idea and then organize them into a complete cohesive record.
MC: Single Howl is doing very well on active rock radio. What made you guys decide to pick this track?
BOD: It was a no-brainer. The people around us reacted to it, and it acts as a very powerful introduction to the band. Like hello world, here we are! Bam! Honestly, I never thought it would be doing this well, and it’s still going. We played Pohoda Festival in Slovakia yesterday and people freaked the fuck out when we played it and were singing along and dancing. It’s crazy to be halfway across the world and have people react like that.
MC: I see you have a heavy tour lineup this summer with various different artists! I will be catching you guys in New Jersey on August 17th. Any venue in particular you are most looking forward to?
BOD: We’re about to play Wembley with the Smashing Pumpkins on July 22nd. To be able to play there already is surreal.
Tony- I’m really looking forward to Verizon Wireless in Irvine, CA in September, because last time we played it was for Epicenter Festival and we had technical difficulties. I feel like we owe the venue a great show.
MC: Do you guys ever get homesick on these long touring stints? Any “band rituals” you stick to on a daily basis?
BOD: I don’t at all. I’ve been at home my whole life writing songs and wishing I was touring. Now we get a chance to travel the world and play music.
MC: What would you say you enjoy more, recording or live performances?
BOD: To say we get to do both is pretty cool.
MC: Any insight on what the next single will be?
BOD: All Who Remain. It’s going to be big.
MC: There are so many bands out there these days battling for the same listener. I feel you guys fit in the format well, yet still have your own unique style. How do you maintain that “stick out” sound? Or do you even think about this when recording?
BOD: Thanks. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is good songwriting. Style and production change over time, but at the core, there’s got to be a real song under it. Also, about sticking out, it’s not hard when every other band out there is either feebly whispering and hiding behind 14 synthesizers and backing tracks, or playing folk music, dressed like fairies, stupidly smiling on stage and singing happy songs for two hours. Is there depth to that? Is that real? Is there sex to it? Is that fulfilling? Absolutely not. To answer your question, we stand out because of that.
MC: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?
BOD: I would’ve graduated college and either pursued a career in social psychology or be at home writing a novel.
MC: Who are some of your favorite artists right now?
BOD: J. Cole’s new record is brilliant. Other stuff we’re listening to is Ryan Adams, St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, King, Dead Sara, and Joanna Newsom. Arctic Monkeys are great. The new Queens of The Stone Age record is good too.
MC: Any plans for a fall tour?
BOD: We’re playing Uproar with Alice in Chains and Janes Addiction in August and September. Going back to the UK for Reading and Leeds, playing Rob Zombies Horror Night on Halloween, and then we tour America again.
MC: For BiggerThanBeyonce readers who are unfamiliar with Beware of Darkness, give five words to describe your band.
BOD: Raw, Soul, Rock, Love & Passion.
By: Maria Ciezak
Sometimes I yearn for the days of good rock and roll music, and then I remember Pearl Jam is still active. Proof that getting older makes you wiser, their new single Mind Your Manners is taking the world by storm. With a grungier, heavier feel on this release, I can only imagine how good the full album, Lightning Bolt, will be. The record is slated for release on October 15th, and will once again be produced by the amazing Brendan O’Brien.
I think it’s safe to say everything Eddie Vedder touches turns to gold.
By: Caitlin Hoffman
Days like these it’s easy to stop believing. At first glance the scene seems stale; at first glance you wanna pack it in.
Lucky for me there are always new acts, shining as beacons of excellence amongst the industry rubble. The Black Clouds hold fast onto rock philosophies most have eschewed for boring, predictable formulas.
Not to say their music is without influence- from every track you can grip shadows of The Vines, Audioslave or the more visceral feedback of The Pixies. They take what they’ve learned to rip it down and start again. That kind of innovation will always kick-start my motor, and often hold my attention.
Of New Jersey stock, these creative-chaos connoisseurs have taken to the road and the studio by way of do-it-yourself ambition. All their tours have been self-funded and self-booked, just as their LPs have all been self-produced.
Better Days, their 2013 release, is busting with low-tempo mojo. Mixed by John Agnello (known for his work with Sonic Youth and The Hold Steady), the album hosts some dozen songs, most if not all of which are notable. No Reason is an anthem of suburban angst (a common lyrical theme in punk melodies), grinding against a prog-rock backdrop. Fray keeps the angst but moves it into a poignant sensibility, evoking images of walking in the rain with your collar up. Rid of Me is a keen cut of helpless and aggressive, Defective Mind an ode to misfits. All in all you’ll be emotionally stoned, sweat-swathed in hard, decisive rock.
The Black Clouds are so ready for the radio. Are you ready for them?
By: Maria Ciezak
MARIA CIEZAK: You guys are one of my/New Jersey’s best-kept secrets. For future fans, can you provide us with a brief background story? How did you all come together?
TREVOR NEWCOMB of ONLY LIVING BOY: First off, thanks for doing this interview with us. We really don’t want to be a secret, so we appreciate it. The first time we played on stage together was probably in the 6th grade. We kept playing and learning together and we went on to graduate high school together. In 2006, we formed Rabid Roy with the intension of “making it.” Rabid Roy became OLB after a couple of tough years and one bad record contract. Since the formation of OLB, we’ve independently toured most of the country, put out a few full-lengths and several singles and EPs… You know, trucking.
MC: Now I am assuming the band is named after the Paul Simon song? Are you guys mega fans?
OLB: We all love us some Paul Simon but the name is just a coincidence. We needed a name for the band and after several months of tossing around terrible ideas, Paul Simon’s Only Living Boy in New York came on the radio while we were on our way to a jam. The rest is history.
MC: You just released a new EP entitled Cool Collected Headcase, and it’s been getting a ton of buzz. I know you worked with Paul Ritchie from The Parlor Mob in the past. Where was this recording done?
OLB: We plan on working with Paul again; he’s the shit. This time around, we got the opportunity to work with Billy Perez at SST Studio in Weehawken. SST isn’t on a lot of people’s radar, but I suppose that’s purposeful. To put is plainly, SST is the most incredible studio we’ve sat foot in. Throughout the years, as some of the big analog studios in NYC closed, SST acquired their gear. So it’s packed with incredible recording equipment and a ton of history. It’s in an amazing space – huge rooms, huge ceilings etc. They’ve hosted some ultra big acts. Everyone from the Crows to Nirvana to Sabbath has done something there. It’s crazy.
MC: Who does most of the writing? Is it a group effort?
OLB: Joe is the core writer, but once the rest of us get involved with his ideas you never know where the song is going to go.
MC: What comes first? The music or the lyrics?
OLB: One thing’s for sure, Joe writes 99% of the lyrics. He has books/journals of lyrics and ideas. I think some of his lyrics are done first and then it hangs around until the right song comes together, but most of the time it’s music, then lyrics.
MC: How do you keep yourselves so original in such a mainstream day and age? Do you even think about it?
OLB: Oh, certainly it’s best not to think of it. We just do us. We just try to maintain some sort of edginess and rawness. And of course, we try to record and perform with energy and power. And I suppose if there’s one benefit of being a trio, it’s the fact that there isn’t a lot of them out there and there’s way fewer that sound anything like us. I know lately we’ve been getting a lot of QOTSA comparisons and that’s cool, but I can tell you, with all honesty, we got that 5-6 years ago before we ever even knew of them. We are sponges. We absorb influences all the time. Everything we hear. It’s true.
MC: Your live set is something that everyone must experience. How do you determine a set list for each show? Does it require much catering to certain venues?
OLB: Thanks. We usually write out a set and then do some improving once we get going. And we don’t mind taking risks. We’ll play new songs or old songs that may or may not be ready for the stage. I think risk-taking is something that is important with rock. We aren’t afraid to push the envelope. We aren’t afraid to fuck up. When I see other bands perform with that attitude, and they pull it off, I think it’s exciting. Like watching a stuntman almost wreck.
We really try not to cater sets for anything, but inevitably we tend to play louder and harder at bigger places. Also, sometimes we play acoustic; we can do more than rock at 115db.
MC: Any tours coming up in the near future?
OLB: Hell yeah. As Lemmy from Motörhead says: “You’re not a real band if you don’t tour.” We’re heading out in July for a couple weeks, working our way out to the Roots Rock & Deep Blues Festival in Minneapolis, where we will join our good buds in Poverty Hash (their lead man, Joe Roberto plays harmonica on our track Spread Your Butter). Also, we’ll have to hit some college circuits in the fall. Lately, we’re looking for some good bands to hit the road with. It’s always more productive and fun that way.
MC: If you could place yourself on tour with any artist, who would it be and why?
OLB: We’d love to go out on the road with any band that rocks and can help us get in front of more people. Top pick: Queens of the Stone Age. Or any Dave Grohl or Josh Homme project. Those guys are the top dogs in rock, as far as I’m concerned.
MC: How much material is there in the Only Living Boy vault? Are there a lot that don’t make the record?
OLB: So much material. Between his solo stuff and the OLB stuff, that Joe Cirotti is a writing machine. Currently, we’re working on songs for the record that’s coming out after our next record. So we’re like three albums ahead already. We constantly write and record demos. Many of them don’t make it to the albums or haven’t yet. Many of them we still play live.
MC: What is the ultimate goal for Only Living Boy? The music business is so different these days. Is getting a record deal somewhat of a priority?
OLB: Good question…
Every time I feel like I have a grip on the biz, I realize I have only the benefits of my own successes/mistakes to reflect on; otherwise, I’m half guessing just like everybody else who is short on investors.
Having a career is our ultimate goal. I would be satisfied being a lower-middle class full-time musician. However, we’re not looking to sell ourselves short. I think another equally important goal is to share our music with as many people as possible. So some combination of that: a career and maximum exposure. That’s my pragmatist stance.
Now, a record deal? That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And it doesn’t always involve the combination of exposure AND career that we are looking for. That being said, we will be looking for some sort of “deal” over the next few months, however, in the mean time, we won’t stop outing our music by ourselves.
MC: Now that you guys have made quite the name for yourselves in the Tri-state area, if you could have done anything differently, would you?
OLB: I spent most of my twenties traveling the country playing honest music with my two best friends – I’m pretty lucky. So I don’t have too many regrets.
One thing though, if you’re in a band and you’re thinking about signing to a label or some other business arrangement, consider who it is that represents you and what they have to gain/loose from the process. Sometimes it seems like someone is fighting for you when, really, they’re only worried about themselves or they may be too short-sighted to give two shits about how your career goes in the long term.
MC: What advice do you have for bands just starting out?
OLB: When pursuing your art, patience is the key and so is being yourself. That is, unless you’re ok with being a tool.
MC: Five words why people should listen to Only Living Boy.
OLB: Real rock and roll lives on…
By: Maria Ciezak
California’s own, The Story So Far, have released a new album entitled What You Don’t See, available for purchase now. The record was produced by Steven Klein, who you may know from a little band called New Found Glory. I must admit, I was a little nervous when I first heard Klein was going to be working on this record, for some of his previous work is compiled with bass, bass, and more bass. However, the album isn’t too mixed down, it’s somewhat perfection actually.
Two years ago, this band came crawling out from under a rock, with a debut album (Under Soil & Dirt) that made me an insta-fan. This record also gave them major success, touring with many known names, and giving punk rock fans that fix they had been yearning for over the years. It was actually one of the best freshmen albums I had ever heard. Currently, The Story So Far completely negates that age-old theory that once a sophomore record comes along that bands tend to demise. This album in fact solidifies all of the fame they have acquired.
To be blunt, I truly cannot find a single flaw in this album.
One thing about The Story So Far that always grabs my attention are the lead vocals, for they are undeniably blessed in that area. Parker Cannon is a diamond in the rough; no whining, no screeching, just pure talent. He is so relentlessly talented on recordings and so full of energy, that you will be sucked in immediately. Long story short, this record doesn’t have a single filler track on it. Standout tracks include: Things I Can’t Change, Right Here, and The Glass.
If you are a fan of bands such as The Wonder Years, Set Your Goals, Four Year Strong, or any pop punk band, you will dig this new product.
Check out the official video for Empty Space below, and get a tease of what you are in store for on this new record. Their music has continued to shatter anyone who doubts their staying power. They now own the world.
Job well done.
By: Maria Ciezak
One of my favorite rock n’ roll groups, The Strokes, have released their newest single All the Time, which can be found on their new album Comedown Machine (available for purchase March 25th)! You may not remember, but this is the second track to be taken off of the group’s fifth studio release, as One Way Trigger dropped earlier this year as a free download. That track fell somewhat short, however, All The Time is picking up strong radio play and taking us back to The Strokes that we all know and love. The video reminds us why we were fans in the first place, taking us on a trip down memory lane. It’s a laid-back vibe full of tour footage that makes me yearn to see them on the road again.
I will be reviewing this record in it’s entirety upon release, but for now, let’s savor the appetizer.
Brand new video for All The Time below.
By: Rob Brayl
Certain songs are like fuel. They take you places. Others are like pain medication. They get you through shit. When a song contains both of these elements, it’s a serious addiction waiting to happen.
That’s what this song is for me: a freakin’ addiction. I literally cannot stop playing it; I feel it in my veins. And while the music video was disappointing and weird (to see it, go find it for yourself), the song stands on its own. It’s rad and without flaw.
Check out Radioactive by Imagine Dragons below.
Love! Love! Love!