Author Archives: Ambrose Tardive

Interview: A.C. (The Road Sodas)

A.C. – drummer for Valley bands Grass and the recently reunited Road Sodas – is a natural story-teller; there’s a sexy rasp to his voice, and a swagger to his delivery. He’s a wildcard, but in a lovable, cinematic way. I asked him a few questions about the return of the Sodas. His answers are presented here minimally edited, in his own excited, run-on style.  

– AT

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The Abominable Snow Lotion; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Snow

There was a guy we used to know — he got his real estate license.  One of the listings was of a house that was complete trash and, in the family that had lived there, the wife killed the kids and husband, then herself. (A death is part of that disclosure thing, so our friend got the details from the listing.) There was no way he was gonna be able to sell this, and he was pretty new, so…

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Album Review: Explorers Unveil Debut Full-Length, “Scott”

Cover art by Scott.

There are different types of debut albums. There’s the ripper that comes out of nowhere (PUP), and the one that kills the band (Op Ivy).

There’s the obscure, little self-release that becomes a treasured part of the discography years after they’ve broken in to the mainstream (most popular bands — this category is impossible to predict, only appearing retroactively — that is, it’s contingent on a series of factors over time, including but not limited to: the band releasing subsequent albums, the continually rising success of each subsequent album, and the resultant in the band’s profile, etc.).

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The Savage Preservationists – a (Not So) Brief Oral History of Kill the Locals!

Jimmi Buskirk and John E. Knep have been terrorizing poseurs in Eastern PA since the early aughts.  More recently, they’ve done a good old fashioned heel-turn and started using their powers for the good of the populace by bringing together a disparate collection of otherwise forgotten small town punk acts from throughout their tenure in the local scene. Think of it like that time Magneto switched sides and lead the X-Men for awhile, and Juggernaut was on the team too. This is them at their most verbose and digressive – excited for any opportunity to preserve local music history. I hope it captures a little bit of what it’s like to be in the room with these two. – A.T. 

Start us off – who you are, where you’re from, what you do.

Jimmi: My name is Jimmi Buskirk. I currently live in a small town, Coaldale, in the mountains of PA. I’m from an even smaller town called Pen Argyl. I play in The Mega Yeah! with John, and we also run the Kill The Locals distro together.

John: I am John Knepper and I also live in Coaldale. I play bass and I sing backups in The Mega Yeah! I also help Jimmi with Kill The Locals. I am the official memory bank of Kill The Locals. I help hunt down the bands and talk to them about joining the distro.

How did you get into punk rock?

JB: When I was eyears old my mother would rent movies to watch with my brother, Jason, and I. One night, she rented the movie Carpool, and halfway through the movie, they use  I Wanna be Sedated by The Ramones. I was immediately hooked. Luckily for me, two of my uncles, Donny and Mike Buskirk, spent majority of their teenage years at CBGB’s watching bands like The Ramones, The Dead Boys, and Blondie. I was able to listen to their stories and soak it in. Beyond that, my brother also got into punk rock at an early age. A lot of times, I would go in his room and steal his CDs to listen to the music he was into. He was really big into bands like Lifetime and The Ataris in the 90’s, and they were two bands that really molded how I play and write music, along with The Ramones and The Clash. Basically, from that point on punk rock was everything to me. I admired the DIY attitude and the stubborn strength to do whatever you wanted, despite what anyone thought of it.

JK: I hated most music on the radio and saw some t-shirts and records. I checked out the bands. The rest is history.

What were some of your early experiences with the Lehigh Valley punk scene?

JB: For me, growing up in Pen Argyl was kind of depressing. There was no music scene. There was only one other kid at the time that into music like I was. That was Brett Dell’alba, better known as Vermin. We would try to watch bands play where and when we could at VFW halls and things like that. This was 5th grade. By the end of middle school, there had been a pretty big movement in the local music area – with places like the Underworld, Pirates Cove, and The Globe, we had a couple really cool places to see bands we loved at the time. From that point on, it kept getting bigger in my little bubble. We would venture out to Jersey to go to Kate’s Cafe. By my freshman year of high school, almost everyone was in a band or played an instrument. That’s when Brett and I formed our first band, called Accidents. It was a good time for local music in the Valley and surrounding areas. In 2003, I met John E. Knep. He lived in the Coal Region of PA. There was also a huge music scene in his area that I got to take in. We would go to places like The Mohn Building in Tamaqua and watch Drivinby, I-Eighty, and The Preps. Seeing those bands is what truly made me fall in love with the local music scene. The issue back then was there weren’t a whole lot of places to play if you weren’t a national act. Croc Rock wasn’t opening the doors for your band unless you were 21 years old, and most people relied on basement shows that the cops typically broke up. So, I guess my early experiences in the punk scene were a mixed bag.

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Jimmi (left) & John (right) circa 2004

JK: I pretty much hopped in and tried to destroy it. I tried to do my best to solidify my place in the Lehigh Valley punk scene. In the early days, we were the guys that threw the parties and booked shows for the punk rock bands that we all knew like Ascaridez, The Overlooked, Tube Disasters, and many others. It was pretty much an excuse to party and have fun.

You’ve been playing and promoting shows for over half your lives at this point. The local music community is near and dear to both your hearts – otherwise you wouldn’t do a lot of the things you do. For you, what were the halcyon days of LV punk? The days you remember most fondly?

JB: The halcyon days were definitely the period of 2005-2010 for me. Things were more community-based. The bands were all working together to accomplish things. We all found really cool places to put on shows, like the Quadrant in Easton. People in towns became more welcoming of basement and backyard shows. Places like the Secret Art Space, The Audio Garage and The Wildflower opened up their doors after places like Underworld, Pirates Cove, and The Globe closed. We became great friends with the people we were playing shows with. People like Fat Lou and IHG from The Preps would do so much for the local area by putting on shows and putting out albums for bands to help promote. People like Bill and Bob Best, of Second Best, booked more shows than anyone I can remember at that time, for their band and so many other local acts. I met people like Jason Pulieo from Chem D, who I truly admire and respect. He not only put on shows for people, but put his money into opening a recording studio for bands to have an affordable place to record their music, Town Center Studio in Easton. It was an awesome time to be involved, because so many bands worked together and, honestly, just had a lot of fun.

JK: I didn’t have glory days. Every time we went out in the van and went to play a show it was great. I wouldn’t still do it if it wasn’t. Every time we get together, we go out and act like hooligans and have a blast. We’ve been doing it for 10-plus years, and every moment was part of our glory days up to now. My glory days never stopped. It’s continuously fun.

How have things changed in the time you’ve been involved?

JB: Sadly, a lot of things changed for the worse. The places that made people feel “accepted” or legitimized their band to play, like Croc Rock, were ripping bands off. It went a step further when half of the places in the Valley or surrounding areas all the way out to Philadelphia adapted to the Pay to Play scheme of booking. It was a way to put the load of promotion onto local bands that essentially had their hands tied while playing a show. It became their responsibility to buy tickets from a venue and sell them for the venue. If they didn’t sell them all, then they owed money to the venue. All of this, for 15-20 minutes of stage time before a national act would play. They would also do this for about one dollar per ticket sold back to them. That offended me deeply, not only because it limited where I would play, but I saw so many people that I love and respect go forth with it because they figured they had to “play the game” to get their band heard. It also changed the philosophy of a lot of the smaller venues that were considered “free” spaces for music. They may have avoided the Pay to Play nonsense, but it seemed like a lot of people who ran smaller venues formed these elitist attitudes. They would want you to feel privileged to play at their venue, given the alternatives were a rip off. The scene kind of broke up into little separate cliques.

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Playing with Toxic Sunshine, circa 2005

JK:  In the beginning, there were a lot more people interested in seeing shows, and a lot more people playing in bands. Now that a lot of the people we knew are done playing, it’s turning into a hunt to find new places to play and a good punk rock scene. Other than that, not much has really changed. We still play punk rock and people still seem to enjoy it.

You watched the scene grow and decline. What’s it been like?

JB: It’s honestly been a lot of fun to watch the ups and downs in the local music scene. While the Valley music scene has gone through great highs and minimal lows, other areas have completely fallen off the map. From 2010 on, the music scene in places like the Coal Region was gone. Every venue had shut down. The Lehigh Valley scene started really fighting back to stay afloat. Places like Croc Rock are hardly even still relevant, because bands started getting smarter and started avoiding the rip-off schemes. Places like the Sherman Theater went from being a place for local bands to thrive again, to becoming another place that requires bands to purchase or sell tickets. They did, however, open up the Living Room next door, which seems to balance it out. So, it seems like venues and bands alike are finding different ways to coexist. With the additions of bars in the area opening up the doors for bands, like Mother’s in Easton and The Gin Mill in Northampton, I think things are going to progressively get better over the next couple of years. With the aid of online communities now, it’s easier than ever to share your music, a friend’s band, or some obscure band the your parents loved back in 80’s that nobody else ever heard of. As long as people continue to work together and avoid the whole “Battle of the Bands” mentality, I think the local music scene will continue to grow and keep getting better.

JK:  Watching it grow has been crazy to me. Back in the day, we’d play shows, and more and more people were coming up to talk to us. More and more, bands wanted to book shows with us. We were a local band, and 50 to 60 kids were coming out to see us in the super small coffee shops. Now, the decline keeps getting worse. Less and less people care about shows. You’re lucky if you get 30 people at a local show, and that’s including bands. It seems like people just don’t care as much about seeing bands anymore. They like the instant gratification of looking a band up on YouTube or the internet, but leaving their house to go to a show must seem terrifying.

When and how did the idea to do a distro – what would become Kill the Locals! – come about?

JB: The distro started really small and actually grew into something way different than what I had originally thought up. The idea struck me in 2011 when I was throwing a birthday party for a friend of mine. Everyone was taking turns tossing CDs in my stereo. I eventually threw in the Boss LP from Tube Disasters and got hit with question after question. People who didn’t know who they were wanted to know, and people who did know who they were asked where the hell they could get the album. I assumed it was online somewhere for people to find and listen to. I was always a collector of local music, so I had a pretty big library of bands that I played with. I thought about it for awhile, but it was cemented after the loss of a close friend, Tyler Merritt, who was in the band Carbomb Creepshow. I wanted to make sure the music of Carbomb Creepshow was always available for people to hear because, aside from them being some of my best friends, their music was brilliant, imaginative, and unique.

I decided I wanted to put out compilation albums. I called John and ran the idea past him, and we started looking through the fliers he had collected over the years to make sure we didn’t forget about anyone. We made a huge list of the bands we loved playing with and became friends with. After we had our list, we started putting the pieces together. We put out the first compilation in 2013 and figured that we’d just keep putting new compilations together to show people some of the best bands that played in the area.

To my surprise, it still didn’t quench the thirst of a lot of people in the area. I started getting emails and asked in person about where people could find certain bands from the comps elsewhere and hear more music from them. Again, I assumed they were on the internet somewhere to be streamed or downloaded. I started doing searches online, spending hours trying to find different bands. I found absolutely nothing on most of them, and the ones I was able to dig up took me more time than I expected. The more I got asked about how to find more music from the bands, the more it hit me that something had to be done about it. I knew that not everyone was lucky enough to have been at a show or gotten a CD somewhere. I started going through my collection and uploading everything to my computer. That’s when I started reaching out to the bands to see if they’d be okay with me putting their music online for everyone to hear. To my surprise, almost every single person I talked to was blown away that I cared that much about it; that I’d take the time to do it at all.

I created the Bandcamp page and added the very first release, Dr. Seuss and the Acid Factory from Carbomb Creepshow. I also added Chem D, because I’ve always thought Jason Pulieo was the best writer in the area and have always loved his music. I just started adding music from my friends, and the bands that made the Valley music scene what it was. Then we got email after email of bands that thought it was awesome, and wanted to know how to get their stuff on it. It just grew and grew, from 17 original Kill The Locals re-releases, to 140 full length albums and EP’s from some of the best people I’ve ever known. We even branched off into non-official releases from bands by starting the Jeff Kosa Bootleg Series. Jeff was in Carbomb Creepshow, and would put live shows from bands on cassette tape and give them away at shows. His devotion towards the music scene — and just music in general over the years — is something I’ve always found to be inspiring, and having the Jeff Kosa Bootleg Series keeping that tradition of his alive makes me feel really great about the distro. Not only do you get to re-listen to material bands you might remember put out years ago, but you also get to hear things that you may have never heard before, like a live show or random demo they did.

JK:  About three years ago, we collaborated on putting out a few records from some of the bands we know. We went from there and it just exploded, gaining attention from a lot more people than we expected, for sure. Originally, it was going to be comps, but people wanted to hear more. So, we figured out pretty quickly that we’d have to do a lot more than comps.

KtL!’s mission is one of preservation. It’s an archive of bands and releases from this area over the past 10-15 years that would otherwise likely disappear completely into obscurity. Why do you feel that’s important?

JB: Most of the bands on the distro were before the days of Facebook, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. Most of the bands were before things like iTunes and Spotify were there to help get your music out there. When we were growing up and playing shows in 2003 to 2006, we relied on giving our demos to other bands we knew so, as we all played shows, we could help promote each other by handing out music for one another. I felt that it was really important to create an archive for all the bands, because I thought the music deserved to be heard. Good music will always find a way to get heard. I didn’t want these bands to simply be a memory. I didn’t want these albums to sit on a shelf inside my house. I wanted them to get heard and have the chance for new people to find them. I always tried to avoid looking at bands as “local” bands, because over the years, it kind of started carrying this misguided idea that local bands weren’t as good as non-local bands. It seemed as though people felt like local shows were like a high school talent show. To me, it was never about local bands making it or not making it that defined their success in the local community. Bands like Drivinby and Chem D are perfect examples of bands that I would not allow to fall into obscurity. They were bands that meant the world to me growing up, and it made me sad that I would talk to people who had never heard their music. I wanted to make sure there was a place people could go to find music, from the Valley and surrounding areas.

JK: Anybody that takes the time to get together and write and record music should be heard and not forgotten. Even if it’s a band you didn’t really care for, you should never erase that from history. There are always going to be other ears that will enjoy it. Thanks to Kill The Locals, now people can enjoy it. Anything that people do to be artistic, whether it’s music of any genre, painting, or sketching — anything — it’s a reflection of who they are, and they’re putting something they feel into a translatable language, like music or art. I like to think that anyone who wants to write a song does it because they want to put something new into the world. They want someone to feel how they’re feeling. I think anybody who takes the time to do that needs to be acknowledged and respected. Most people can hardly talk to each other, let alone write a song or draw a picture that makes someone stop and feel connected.

What are some of the bands you have re-released music from so far?

JB: So far, we have put together a really great collection of amazing bands. I think so, at least. We started with Carbomb Creepshow, Tube Disasters, Chem D, The Preps, and Toxic Sunshine. We added some rare live songs from my friend George Harden. Every list we made of new material to add got longer and longer. In 2014, Fat Lou reached out to us about contributing releases that he put out on his record label, Fool Records, from 2001 to 2009. He had to call it quits when he didn’t have the free time to run the label anymore. Although Fool Records was no more, he still wanted to make sure those bands could be heard somewhere for those who didn’t get their CDs. So, a lot of the second batch was Fool Records re-releases from bands like Shock Value and Arsenal Mayhem. After that, John and I really started trying to track down the music that meant the most to us growing up like Drivinby, The Mother/Daughter Team, and others. We also started releasing new material from bands we were friends with, rather than just music from the old Valley punk rock days. Our first new and current release was an album from The Semi Originals we put together of all of the singles they had released up to that point. We added bands like Wolfie Burns, the first band we toured with. We also added a bunch of live bootlegs to the Jeff Kosa series, like Backyard Superheroes from Jersey and Heroes and Hooligans from Pottsville. Every couple of months, we would compile a new list of additions to add.

JK: Drivinby is number one in my book. Chem D is another one. Those two are bands that I look up to. We also have Carbomb Creepshow, Shock Value, our old band Toxic Sunshine, and our new band The Mega Yeah! on the distro. There’s a ton of stuff on the distro right now, actually. We collected most of the bands from 2000-2010 in the Lehigh Valley punk scene.

What are some bands/albums you’re still hoping to track down?

JB: There’s a ton I’d still like to get on Kill The Locals. Things always look unfinished to me. There are bands that we met while playing in other states that I am hoping to bring in. There are bands from the early 90’s that were before my time that I’d love to get on the distro. I always loved the Riot-Folk collective and Plan-it X as a kid. I remember sending away to Chris Clavin and just saying, “Send me anything, here’s some money.” He’d send me back patches, albums, buttons, and I always enjoyed what came out of a box shipped from him. I gain inspiration from a lot of what he did with Plan-it X. He always continued releasing music from his friends and bands that he liked. If it wasn’t for him, I would have never known who Against Me! was in 2001. I would have never heard This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb or Carrie Nations. I want to continue to add music from the people I love, so hopefully one day I can say that someone found their favorite band because I dusted off the cobwebs, gave it a spit shine, and gave it a home on the distro for people to stumble upon. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever run out of things to add, because in every year that goes by, my friends are constantly putting out great music.

JK: There is one in particular called Second Best. Bill Best can play some pretty mean bass lines, and that is what eventually got me to switch from playing guitar to playing bass back when I’d seen him play for the first time back in 2003. Back then, he was in The Preps. The music he and his brother, Bob Best, made after that in Second Best was fucking awesome. Their last show was one of the best local shows I’ve been to. We carpooled a bunch of cretins out to it, and it was just fucking perfect.

What are some of the difficulties you might run into, trying to get in touch with long-defunct local bands?

JB:  Everything has been pretty relaxed thus far. It’s all been smooth sailing. I have a superhuman power of remembering phone numbers. When I was young, I was stubborn. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 21. When I was younger, I relied on calling people and memorizing their phone number. Since getting my cell phone, I’ve always kept the same numbers in it and have been able to contact people that way — the old-fashioned way, it seems. Also, with Facebook, it’s pretty simple to stay in contact with people. A lot of bands have emailed me, and then followed up by sending me their past releases to add. I’ve contacted a lot of people through Facebook to see if it was something they were interested in.

For a lot of the stuff that’s been added, I still have the physical CD from the band, so it was as easy as uploading it to my computer. As time went on, though, we did run into a couple of bands that were not as easy to get a hold of. Drivinby was one of the toughest. It was probably a six-month stretch of trial-and-error. John and I always loved Drivinby, so they were one of the first bands we wanted to reach out to. Matt had moved off and formed The Young Livers. Nick D. kept a low profile and avoided social media. Nick Osadchi was hard to find, too. We ended up getting a hold of him through Nick Deitrich’s cousin, Ethan. Even then, it was crazy to get it all together.

Nick D. stopped by my house one day to catch up with John and I and had the material, but didn’t have the song titles or original artwork for anything. We eventually got all the song titles and artwork correct when we finally got a hold of Nick O. Looking back, I can say it was fun going through all of that, and I’m happy, because they’re on the distro now and it all worked out. But at the time, there were moments where I didn’t think we’d actually be able to find them or get a hold of them.

JK: The biggest difficulty is people that are embarrassed or angry about their past bands. Talking about not erasing history, it sucks they feel that way about music they created and now want to keep hidden. Also, I would say contacting some of these people to get their permission to add them to Kill The Locals. There’s always that one guy in a band that wants nothing to do with it, while the rest want it to be on the distro. It’s a lot of back and forth. Everyone looks at stuff they did differently. I’m not someone who’s embarrassed by anything I’ve ever done. Everything I did in the past is what turned me into the person I am today. So, it really blows when people are too nervous about people hearing something they wrote a long time ago.

What’s the reaction been so far? From bands whose music you’re collecting, and from people when they see you uploaded an album they haven’t heard in ten years?

JB: The reaction so far has been fucking amazing! I can’t even believe sometimes how great it all turned out. Originally, it was going to be a small project, hoping to get some spotlight on some bands we loved. Because of people wanting to hear more and more, it’s consistently grown. Almost all of the feedback has been people excited to have their music available again.

Talking with the bands has been a lot of fun, too. A lot of the people we’ve talked to have been genuinely honored that we remembered their music, still had their music, and wanted to keep it alive. The only negative responses we’ve gotten from some bands or people has stemmed from the fact that it was our mission to keep it free. We wanted it to be a public service type project. We didn’t want to deal with selling things or anything like that. We figured we had better chances of getting people to hear the music if they knew they weren’t getting roped into buying some old album from a band that they had either never heard of or don’t remember. Some of the people we’ve reached out to don’t want to give their stuff away, which I totally understand and respect. A few bands have asked us if we’d sell their music and even offered to split purchases with us for the promotion, but that’s just not something we have interest in.

Almost all of the praise we’ve received has been from people who spent time, like I did, trying to hunt bands down back in the day that they wanted to listen to and found nothing. This time around, the searches became a lot easier, and a lot more people could find the bands they wanted.

Also, after they found the band, they remembered from being younger they were able to then get lost in music from similar bands. My favorite was an email from a kid saying how much he loved the band Angleworm when he was younger, and never knew that Ryan McLoughlin had formed a new band called Wolfie Burns. He then found out Ryan had a solo release on the distro. Then, after falling in love with all of that, he also found out that members of Wolfie Burns were also in the bands Trophy Lungs and Bottlecaps. I felt great knowing that he was not only able to find one of his favorite bands growing up, but that it brought him into tons of new music that he loved as much, if not more. It’s responses like that that have made every second worth it!

JK: The main reaction we get is, “Holy Shit! I forgot about that band!” We also get a ton of “Thank Yous”  from band members who didn’t even have copies of their own albums.

What’s on the horizon for Kill the Locals?

JB: The future is full of promise. Aside from getting into releasing more newer releases from bands, we’re going to be unveiling a new website soon that not only features the albums, but also features information on the bands, like who they are, what they’ve done in other musical projects, and what they’re up to now. We’re going to start putting together and promoting Kill The Locals shows in the area. We’re hoping to kick things off this December with the first ever Kill The Locals Fest, featuring bands like The Preps, For Ages, and From Philly, which feature members from Drivinby. We just want to keep promoting bands we’ve grown up with and bands we’re just meeting now.

We’re hoping to start a selection on the website for ordering physical copies of CDs. It’s just a matter of figuring out exactly how we can do it where it remains free, like having people send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easy to send back out. That’s something that we will spend more time on plotting out next year. We’ve got plenty of ideas, and plenty of great minds involved to make it all work out.

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With Nick D. of Drivinby/From Phily, circa 2015

JK:  I would say our goal is to put out any music from any local band that wants their music to be heard. I want every band to be remembered. I want every band to be heard. Just because something is ten years old or older, doesn’t mean it’s not important anymore.

You also organize the Tyler Merritt Memorial Show every year. Mind talking about that for a bit?

JB: The Merritt Memorial is something that so many people look forward to every year. Tyler Merritt passed away back in 2011, and it was a super tragic moment for everyone in a long list of tragic moments for myself and close friends. Over the years, we’ve lost so many great people, like Alyssa Hendricks, Connor Howell, Shawn Bliler, Lori Folweiler, Billy Wilson, Max Eschbach, and sadly, that list goes on and on. When Tyler passed away, I wanted to put a show together to bring everyone together to celebrate his life. I organized the first show in 2011 with Daniel P. Casanova. We were able to tell stories and have a great time together during a really terrible couple of weeks for all of us. Virginia Douglas, Tyler’s grandmother, made the show even more magical by her lovely and joyous presence. She was able to tell stories of her own of Tyler and make everyone laugh. She brought food for everyone, and it just made the moment even more special for everyone who was there. The first one was held at Copier’s Cafe in Nazareth. Our plan was to do it again there the following year, but sadly, they closed down. Scott Cavallo came to the rescue — and has done so each year since — by setting the date and hosting it with us at The Burners in Bethlehem. It’s a show that’s important to me because, much like Kill The Locals, people and music need to be remembered and cherished. We organize the Merritt Memorial every year to get everyone together for a free show, and to hang out with people they might only see once a year. Virginia brings in home cooked food for everyone, and we all just get to enjoy amazing moments together. A lot of times, the bad in life is what drives people apart and leaves people with a hole where something great used to be. We wanted to get everyone together, so we could all get through the bad times with the aid of best friends, family, and live music that Tyler would have loved. Every year has been so much fun.

This year is looking to be another amazing night. We’re having it on October 28. AC from Grass threw out the idea of making it a Halloween themed show. We’ve also got some awesome bands on the bill, like The Semi Originals, Grass, Fm Waves, and even some acoustic stuff. I am really excited for it, as always.

JK: When you lose someone super close to you who loved your band and looked up to you, you never forget that. So, we celebrate him as a person every year. The friends and family that knew and loved him all come together, and we all hang out and have an awesome night together.

Besides Kill the Locals, what else is coming up? What’s good with the future?

JB: For the longest time, I was kind of burned out. I didn’t have much interest in playing out or releasing anything. Kill The Locals was kind of what got me excited about music again. I think now, more than ever, we’re all focused on just putting out good music and being a part of a special community of writers, musicians, and artists. We opened up shop in my attic as our new studio. We’ve gathered some gear to record our own music. We’ve recently recorded the debut EP for The Mega Yeah! We’re looking to put the final touches on it and have it released on Halloween. I recorded a lot of new acoustic music to put out myself, as well as going back and working on some old Toxic Sunshine unfinished business. We’ll be putting a lot of music out over the next couple of months.

We’ll be adding a lot of new stuff to the distro, too. As long as we’re having fun, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. There’s a lot of people that still need to be properly faith-healed onstage at a Mega Yeah! show. There’s plenty left in the tank.

One of my favorite things to do at a show is make people laugh. It’s all about having fun in the moment and hoping the joy is being passed around the room to everyone. John and I make each other laugh every time we’re together. We make each other laugh at every show we play. We always wanted to make sure everyone felt involved and had fun.

Another important thing has always been our stubborn attitudes and not bending over for anyone. Some people take life way too seriously. Some people take music way too seriously. For me, you only have one chance at being on this planet and making it something great. I have one chance at accomplishing the things I want done. I have one chance at having as much fun as humanly possible. For me, the future is all about doing what’s fun.I will not let negative people ruin those moments for me or the people I’m with. I have one chance to do what’s in my heart. I don’t want to be an old man getting ready to leave this world behind, saying I wish I would’ve done something. I want to be the old man who bids adieu to the world knowing what I did mattered to me and the people I shared this planet with.

JK:  With Kill The Locals, it goes back to previous answers. We just want to keep pumping out local bands material and making sure no band goes unheard. As far as booking gigs, we want to play our couple of local shows, our couple national shows with our favorite bands, and our annual Merritt Memorial. Anything beyond that is a bonus. As far as The Mega Yeah!, I want to actually succeed in putting out EP’s and albums continuously. We have a new EP recorded that’s really close to being done and released.

I just want to keep putting out music. Music of my own with the band, and music from my friends on the distro.

Jimmi and Johnny – like the Rancid song that bears their name – are true punx. Go appreciate their hard work at Kill the Locals! and keep your eye out for an impending release from the masters of mayhem themselves in The Mega Yeah!

*This interview was – believe it or not – slightly edited and condensed. 

 

Artist Spotlight: Pat Donahoe

REGIONS – 2011 (photocred: Dan Green)

I’ve known Pat for a long time, and I’ve seen him grow through a series of different artistic styles and modes of expression – all of them intelligent, usually emotionally fervent, always deeply personal, and often confrontational. Many of the best shows I went to at Secret Art Space and around the Valley from c. 2009-c. 2013 involved Pat singing – or screaming, pushing his guitar up to the amp until it squealed and bled feedback, sinking to his knees and rocking back and forth in some dark exaltation. Pat’s bands were always theatrical, and their albums and live shows alike narrative-driven. I’m excited he’s back with new music and, as always, I’m excited to chat with him. – A.T.

You spent a few years away from music – specifically ,from recording and performing – to focus on finishing school, is that correct?

Yeah.  I drifted away from music for a time to focus on school.  It was less of a conscious decision than it was school being hard AF.

How is that degree treating you so far?

Leave me alone, Mom!

How did your personal hiatus inform the things you’re trying to do with your new projects?

I think part of the reason I drifted away from music to focus on school was that studying the humanities offered me a way to deal with my past.  I’ve been marred with medical issues (cancers, blood disorders) since I was a teenager, and never found the appropriate venue to explore how those existential battles affected me as an individual.  That’s what Played Sports is about.  This confusing, convoluted journey to figure out who “I” am when I grew up largely being known as and referred to as whatever illness I happened to be battling at the time.

mimieux

Mimieux – 2013

You were a mainstay of the Lehigh Valley scene for years – across various genres and facets of the musical landscape of the area – with bands like Millionaire Boys Club, Mimieux, and Holy Christ! Then, your collaborators all moved away. What was that like at the time?

Man, it was hard.  We all worked so hard on those projects.  As crushing as it can be to have your creative counterparts fall away, it was real beautiful to see those dudes grow into who they are now.  Drew’s fucking married, which is insane.  I couldn’t be happier for the dude.  He’s doing real excellent stuff with his hardcore band, Squalor, and a really cool emo-punk band called Hard Sulks.  I haven’t spoken to him in a while, but I’m pretty sure his wife is in that band with him.  That’s my dream, man.  Doing the dang thing with the person you love.  Drew’s livin’ it.  James from Holy Christ and REGIONS is doing stuff with a hardcore band out of Philly called Young Graves, and they rip.  And Brad’s still my best friend, and I’ve stayed in touch with him the most over the years.  He just moved back to Philly, and we have some super secret secrets planned in the near future, so I’m sure I’ll be back talking about that soon.

Tell me about your solo LP, Played Sports as a Kid. Lyrically, this is one of your most cohesive projects; I know you used to write all your records with an overt theme in mind – often even a directly textual narrative. Was there something like that for this album?

This is a really cool question.  You know how important lyrics are to everything I’ve ever done, and this is something I thought about deeply during my writing process with my solo stuff.  Everything I wrote before in Holy Christ or Mimieux was contingent upon some fictional “Other” I created to shield myself from the subject, but all of those lyrics were real personal to me in the end.  I was always trying to distance myself from the topics I was trying to approach, whether it was death, anxiety, et cetera. My concept with this record was to be as honest as I could be with both the listener and myself in the writing process.  I think this speaks to your minimalism question, as well. I wanted my solo project to be representative of what I’ve been going through all these years. I want people who may understand these feelings to be able to resonate with the material in an open an honest way.  The only way for that to happen is for me to be open and honest in my songwriting, and that’s what this record is for me.  Just a pure expression of what I was thinking and the place I was in when I wrote these jams. I also think the way that these songs are recorded is emblematic of that as well. Everything is recorded on my phone within a few hours or days of me completing the song. I really wanted to genuinely capture who I was at the specific time the song was written and I think, in that, it establishes a sort of chronological, narrative feel when you listen to the record front to back.

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Minimalism – is that a thing you’re into on, like, a theoretical level? Or is it more intuitive? Because Played Sports as a Kid is highly effective in its minimalism – it goes beyond the “guy with acoustic guitar” trope. It’s in the half-whispered vocals, the diagetic sounds that serve as interstitials, the lyrical style.

The minimalism is something that I felt added to how direct and honest the record feels.  I wanted the record to sound small, but feel big.  ’m talking about all these ideas of life and death, aging and religion, and all of the sound behind these classic “grand mysteries” is an acoustic guitar and silence. This is something I had to work a lot with to perfect, especially by myself. It’s scary to make something that encompasses everything I want to speak on without having the bandmates to bounce ideas off of, or having them up there with you on stage. It’s vulnerable. The other piece of the idea of minimalism comes naturally. My vocal chord is paralyzed from a surgery I had to remove a cancerous tumor from my neck when I was a kid. So we enter this idea of every time I open my mouth, the sound of illness comes out. How does a person deal with that? Especially when I’m using that voice every time I sing. The quiet minimalism that comes from the sound of my voice is something that influences the record from the beginning to the end, and interweaves with the lyrics all the way throughout.

Do you see yourself doing another solo record anytime soon?

Yeah, man! Brad’s back in town and we’ve been working on further ideas for the solo stuff, along with some other real exciting projects.

Tell me about The Elephant. Who are your bandmates this time around? How did the project come together?

The Elephant is a project I’ve been working on with some friends from the Lehigh Valley.  We all met each other going to shows and open mics in Bethlehem and Allentown.

Y’all have released one single so far (“Low”) and have a debut EP on the way. Tell me about that!

Our EP is coming out within the next month. Five sad songs about sad stuff. We just released the first single, “Low,” and a video that corresponds with that. It was real cool filming that video. That song is about how scared I am of relatively inconsequential things, like getting pulled over for speeding. The video really does well to capture the reason for that being that I always have that creeping anxiety as a result of my own blood trying to kill me. It’s a scary thought. I take a pill every day to keep my blood counts normal. It’s strange having your quality of life be contingent upon a tiny, daily pill.  Music is a way to deal with that reality, and that’s why all of these projects are so important.

Pat Donahoe is a singer/songwriter, native of Nazareth, PA, recent Moravian graduate, and friendly face. He has performed in a diverse set of Lehigh Valley bands, including Oh Savannah, REGIONS, Millionaire Boys Club, Holy Christ!, and Mimieux, some of which are still available on Bandcamp.com or (in some cases) youtube.com. His solo LP Played Sports as a Kid is available on Bandcamp now. The Elephant will be releasing tunes soon. 

Glen Tickle: The Comfortable Man’s Comedian

Photo credit: Twitter.com

“I felt like kind of a jerk doing it.”

When Glen says this, he’s talking about his stand-up album, not this interview.

When I talk to Glen Tickle on the phone, it’s not our first conversation, just our first in many years. It’s also our longest and most interesting conversation by far. We talk about his debut album Yes, Really and its early success, his new record label and its origins in – what else – a joke, and his comedic style.

Glen began doing stand-up sometime in 2009. I first met him roughly around the same time. He substituted for my homeroom teacher a few times during my senior year of high school. I didn’t find his name unusual or amusing, but that was because I knew his brother Keith. I did find him funny, sitting with his sneakered feet up on the teacher’s desk, telling us to stay out of trouble so he could stay out of trouble.

The album features material than spans the entire seven years of Tickle’s career in comedy. The title [Yes, Really.] comes from its initial bit – the comedian’s longstanding opener – and derive from the experience of substitute teaching for classes of various ages with a last name like Tickle.

“I wanted a joke that would make sense. The other thing is that it’s in that joke, but it’s also part of my life. I tell people my name and they don’t believe me,” Glen tells me about the choice of title.

To his credit, he still seems vaguely amused by the idea – not to call it a burden, for there are worse surnames by far – even after dealing with it for over thirty years.

“I had a club booker who was late to pay me once, because he was going to cut me a check and he was like, ‘I can’t fill out a check for a stage name – I need your real name’[…]and it makes me hate – there are comedians that use stage names for various reasons – but whenever I meet a comedian that uses a silly stage name, I instantly hate them, because if they didn’t do that, people wouldn’t think that is what I’m doing.”

In relating this anecdote – as in the rest of our conversation – Glen is calm, his delivery relaxed. He’s like this on stage, too. Measured is a good way to put it. When I bring it up, he explains, “I have to ramp it up a little bit on stage. On the album, that’s about as excited as I get”.

It also probably helps that he’s excited. At the time of our conversation, Yes, Really has been out for a week and has debuted at lucky #13 on the Billboard Comedy Albums Chart.

“I probably never thought about the Billboard Comedy Albums Chart before in my life, until they emailed me and said I was on it, and now it’s the single greatest chart in the world.” he said.

“I got this e-mail at 12:21 a.m., and they sent it through the contact info on my Bandcamp page. Like, they didn’t even email me directly. So the e-mail showed up and I look at it like, ‘who sends important emails in the middle of the night on Saturday?’ It was a guy – from Billboard – who said the album made the chart for Monday and he needed to verify some information, and then he signed it with a regular, you know, email signature with his name and email address, job title, all that stuff. So, I looked it up, and he was a real guy, but I’m like, anybody could’ve just sent anything in that form. So, uh, I have a nemesis, I basically asked my friend if he would be my nemesis, and we would just try to destroy each other. So because it came in the middle of the night I kind of thought it was him – but I was like, this is a level of detail, that’s next level. I would’ve been disappointed if I hadn’t actually made the list, but also like – that’s some good trolling.”

Yes, Really is a relatively family friendly comedy album. Tickle’s style is generally non-confrontational, and certainly non-aggressive. The swears are few and far between. Some jokes straddle the precipice of racy, but the fun is mainly lighthearted. Much of the material is generated by – as Glen himself explains on the record, and again to me during our interview – hanging out with his daughter until she does something funny, and then turning that story in to his material. When I ask about his aesthetic, and “clean comedy” in general, as if on cue his daughter interrupts, needing his help with an iPad game.

When he’s ready to resume, he explains: “Most of my jokes are about my daughter, so it’s hard to be really dirty. Not that there aren’t – like Louis C.K. talks about his kids and swears all the time, so it’s not that it can’t be done or I disagree with it or anything. I don’t know – I feel weird telling a story about my kid and having it be filthy. Plus, in general, it’s just the kind of comedy I like.”

“I don’t really like stuff that’s particularly dirty. I don’t mind if people swear or whatever, but it makes me uncomfortable.”

The tracks on Yes, Really are short, and the punchlines generally expedient. Jokes are sometimes centered around a pop culture reference, though more often Glen starts with a kind of simple linguistic observation – the entirely non-musical reason Waka Flocka Flame is his favorite rapper, for example, or the subtle distinction between hay and straw. Or how his daughter used to call crackers “crack,” which is apparently an unfortunate thing to have your child ask you for in public.

Weeks after our initial conversation, I follow up with Glen by text. He’s coming off a string of college shows that also doubled as a road trip with his brother Keith, spending some time at home before heading out on another run.

He informs me that the record’s run on the Billboard Charts amounted to only the single week it spent sitting at #13. It’s disappointing, sure, but it’s also a triumph for any comedian or artist who chooses to go the DIY route.

When we first spoke, Circus Trapeze Records was just a funny thing to say – it wasn’t even a serious idea, only a byproduct of self-distributing Yes, Really. The LP only had a catalogue number – “001”, of course – because the very real employee of the Billboard Charts asked for one. Glen initially demurred when I asked if he saw himself turning the label in to something more than just a name, but seemed intrigued by the idea.

Now, there’s a logo, and t-shirt with the logo on it. Buy the t-shirt, according to booster.com, and the proceeds will go toward the funding of the next Circus Trapeze Records release.

Glen Tickle is a stand-up comedian and all around nice fella from the savage borderlands of Western Jersey/Eastern PA. Glen is an author for laughingsquid.com, the newly minted owner-operator of Circus Trapeze Records and artist behind the Billboard Comedy Albums Charting debut Yes, Really, and writer/director of Several Ways to Die Trying. Find him on Facebook, buy the album and the movie on Amazon, and help CTR get off the ground by buying a t-shirt at https://www.booster.com/circus-trapeze-records

‘The Moon Still Hangs,’ or what kind of world begins and ends with the ‘Crystal Embryo?’

“The gypsy was inclined to stay in the town. He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude.”

– Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sing, Bird of Prey’s debut LP Crystal Embryo – out Tuesday, 9/13 – is elegantly strange and effusive in both content and style; like the supercomputer in Hitchhiker’s Guide, it provides enigmatic answers to unasked questions. This leaves us – the listeners – like the mice in that story, scrambling after some kind of last-minute explanation to assure ourselves of a meaning that isn’t, as it were, inherent in the cosmos, or language, or in the spirit. It’s an ambitious rock opus written by and for a bunch of punks; ten confident, cinematic tracks for young stoners to blaze in their parents’ garage to.

The songs on Crystal Embryo are arcane; they lessen the divide between dimensions, attenuate the barrier between death and life, and most importantly – they shred. The record is a form of magical realism, treating the mundane and the metaphysical with equitable reverence. Paranoid fears of the modern era of video surveillance intermingle with the decidedly un-subjective, inhuman movements of distant celestial bodies. It is  psychedelic, in the original sense of the word, meaning the record successfully champions the idea of expanding consciousness, of growing toward something greater than the aggregate sum of your experiences spread over time. By the time you’ve gotten to the title track, you should be asking yourself – among other things – what exactly is a crystal embryo anyway, and what will it become after it gestates? After it’s born?

Sing, Bird’s aesthetic on their debut is indebted in a number of ways to the ‘60s-‘70s “Wall of Sound”-era rock records. Each track is arranged so as to yield the maximum efficiency out of each guitar solo, each transition between semi-whispered vocals to shouted, each thud of the tom-tom and bass pedal, each symbol crash. The mix is multivalent and detailed, giving songs a kind of wide-angled vibrancy that the listener can reach out and touch, and fall through in to the kind of sweet memory of lost loves that has sadness pressing on its borders even as it makes you smile.

The first four songs are a tight-knit quadrilogy, alternating between uptempto on the first and third tracks and low-key on the second and fourth. “Microsatellite” – the opening track – is loud and vivid, guitar-driven precedent-setting rock n roll. In some ways it is the thesis of Crystal Embryo, the one later songs will either corroborate or provide the anti- to. Likewise, “Downstream” is one of the most kinetic tunes Sing, Bird has to offer on their LP, whereas the second and fourth tracks on the record – “Wild Type” and “Painted Bones”, respectively – are vocal driven relatives of the ballad.

“Next of Kin” sways and swells around an acoustic guitar and a haunting yarn – “You will never see me pull the strings” it begins. By the end, the refrain becomes “No one will ever know the truth”, repeating until all that’s left is a shuddering horn. “Diamond Marrow” is the LP’s most raucous song, its loudest, and possibly (by a close margin) its most hypnotizing.

If the opening track (“Microsatellite”) is the album’s thesis, its title track (“Crystal Embryo”) is the most direct response to themselves. It is Sing, Bird of Prey’s “shout at the heavens”-moment. Their display of resolve, of determination in the face of determinism. An open counterargument to the fatalism that pervades the anterior eight tracks. It is also the most  magically real of the ten songs. When they sing “You’re never going to die – it’s all in your head”, you don’t believe those words, but you believe in a world somewhere where they’re true. You put together things you were half-thinking before but couldn’t exactly get the hang of, like what Gabriel Garcia Marquez was doing with Melquiades in One Hundred Years, how everything learned is forgotten, and everything forgotten remembered eventually.

“Brittle Bones” – Crystal Embryo’s last song and epilogue – is the record at its most triumphant and optimistic. It also features one of the most invigorating vocal performances. It’s always interesting to see whether a band will end their record on an up-note or a down. As subcutaneously caustic as the band is throughout much this collection of songs, ending on a song that even feels positive is a message in itself. “I know the truth – I am young” is the dénouement in the closing seconds of “Brittle Bones”. It’s the glimmer of hope in the final scene of a sad movie, the new beginning in the end of a story about loss.

Sing, Bird of Prey have crafted a unique debut LP, one that delivers something exciting on every track. “Wild Type” has its swirling guitars, “Grey Crescent” and “Downstream” stand out for their energetic vocal deliveries, and the cacophony of voices in the album’s “Interlude” become more apparent with every listen. In sum, they’ve crafted what is in my mind a clear Album of the Year candidate in what is an already stacked-as-heck year. It is with few parallels in terms of being one of the strongest releases to come out of the Lehigh Valley area in 2016. It is irrepressibly catchy on a song-by-song basis, and eminently re-listenable as a cohesive record. The production is nigh-perfect; no note falls out of place. Thematically, it picks fights with nature and technology likewise, and with humanity’s relationship with both.

Crystal Embryo is being released Tuesday, September 13th via Killer Tofu records, on tape and for streaming. Check it out, get these songs stuck in your head, and keep your eye out for a vinyl release somewhere down the line.

STANDOUT TRACKS: “Downstream”, “Next of Kin”, “Crystal Embryo”

Review: Casual – “Grip the Grass”

 

casual1In our post-post-(post?)-modern era of digital proliferation, the output of any given genre is diluvian, threatening to wash over even the most astute listener and leave only an arm reaching above the wave in some last silent plea for a life-preserver, or otherwise keeping them stranded in the middle of an endless blue sea, waiting for the doves they sent out to find a landmass to rest on in the form of a new Arms Aloft LP or that Frank Ocean record everyone is stoked on. Personally, the number of bands I LOVE releasing new music this year can only possibly be eclipsed by the number of bands releasing new music that I would love if I only took the time to listen to them, or had them recommended to me by a friend, or otherwise stumbled across a review of their newest release on some humble music blog.

Ahem.

What I’m getting at here is that, no matter how well you manage to stay on top of new releases, there’s always going to be some band, in some rural town somewhere half the span of the globe away from you, releasing a banger that you’ll be lucky to hear three years hence when you’re going down some late-night bandcamp wormhole, or you saw they got added to Fest. It’s cool if you’re a music fan – discovering a new band that caters to your aesthetic sensibilities can and should be an awesome, regenerative experience. For musicians, I’d imagine it’s different – though, I haven’t done my due diligence and asked any of the ones I know. Nobody fades into obscurity anymore; they just toil in it. The path to success and acclaim may have always been arbitrary, but in 2016, it’s damn senseless.

Casual is one of those long-running suburban punk projects that anyone marginally involved in the north Jersey punk scene should rightfully know about, but whom might have escaped the attention of people in an adjacent area like the Lehigh Valley, despite being Square of Opposition alums. Based in Flemington – where they spend a good portion of their time helping to make the area’s music and arts scene thrive by running the Flemington DIY community spot at 90 Main – the fam in Casual are veterans of the mid-aughts fermentation of the shift in punk aesthetic that began in the 90s with bands like Jawbreaker and Samiam. 

Their new six-song EP “Grip the Grass” is an example of tight songwriting and stylistic mastery, to the point where it may – in the short term – actually be detrimental to their increased exposure. That may read as some kind of backhanded diss, but actually, it is a high compliment.

Consider it through the case of this unsolicited analogy I’ve prepared. In total, I don’t know a lot about sports, but specifically in terms of hockey, I know a fair amount. One of the things you come to understand once you’ve watched a good deal of hockey is that the players on the ice who are structurally doing the best job are the ones the lay-fan will almost never notice. The average viewer watching from the stands or from home notices the players who make mistakes, the ones who go out of position to lay a thunderous hit on an opponent but leave a key patch of ice undefended in the process, or the ones who deviate from the coach’s style in order to score highlight reel goals. The players who stay in position, stay out of the penalty box, and try to work within the team’s system rather than make heroic individual efforts – they rarely have their names called by the play-by-play announcer, and your general, passive hockey fan might mistake their quality gamesmanship for lack of ability when, in fact they’re doing everything right.

That, my friends, is the band Casual. They know exactly how to write a solid punk jam, and they do it exceedingly well over the course of six tracks and just over ten minutes. It’s almost clinical, the way these songs are arranged and performed. It’s the kind of collection of songs that someone who listens to punk records all day might put on and absentmindedly enjoy without really connecting to. At the same time, though, I like to envision a kid out there – not yet jaded and burnt out by too many Spotify playlists, or being knocked down in the pit, or by their friend giving them a cruddy Hot Water Music stick-n-poke – who is going to hear “Grip the Grass” in a few years and have their wig split by how efficiently catchy it is. 

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Recorded at In the West in New Brunswick on old-school half-inch analog tape, “Grip the Grass” sounds as much like a 90s release as it often feels. I know snobs –  *cough*Kev*cough* – that beef with any new release that isn’t some beautifully-layered, digital artifice, but I know I’m not alone in finding Casual’s throwback methodology charming. Yes, the riffs are buried in the mix a bit, but think of how good it feels when you listen to a song with hard to understand lyrics over and over until you finally figure what the heck they’re actually saying. Listening to a song like the EP’s opener “Smoked Spitely” multiple times, until you realize they’re absolutely slaying that guitar lead after the first verse, can be a similarly gratifying experience. 

For fans of quick and catchy, bass-driven punk songs with lyrics that tackle the archetypal topics of the modern genre – such as feeling like an out-of-place weirdo in social circumstances, and having trouble maintaining interpersonal relationships – 2016 is a killer year with a lot to be stoked about. Don’t let Casual fly under your radar. Bump their jams on the way to your community college class or while you deliver bread to convenience stores at 4 AM (or whatever it is you do). If you’re local, check out one of the shows at 90 Main in Flemington.

STAND OUT TRACKS: “Vacation (From Ourselves)”, “Smoked Spitely”, “Dying Lawns Insisting on Being Watered”

Review: Husbandry – Nature vs. Nurture

Brooklyn post-hardcore darlings Husbandry are set to unleash their debut LP Fera this Friday (8/24), and are heading out on a weekend tour that includes — of all places — a stop in Easton on the eve of album’s release.

Husbandry — whose previous Valley appearance was an all-ages weekday show at The Slope in Nazareth in April — will be celebrating Fera‘s release at Mother’s Bar & Grille with support from other out-of-town hardcore acts Chaotic Meltdown and Faceplant. If the order of bands on the Facebook event page is to be believed, local metal act Buzzherd will be closing the show.

“Nature vs. Nurture” is the second single off of the new record, and prominently features the kind of shredding guitar licks and energetic vocal performance that you would hope for. The accompanying images are intentionally dream-like and surrealistic in a way that evokes those old weirdo short flicks Luis Buñuel and Dali used to make. Check out the video below, get hyped, and come party on Friday!

Brief Interviews with Wonderful Men

Musikfest is a time of unique opportunities in the Valley. For music fans, it is a chance to see national touring acts – Run DMC or Don Henley, for example – whose appearances in the area would otherwise be few and far between. At the same time, we are exposed to a unique cross-section of local acts. For musicians, it is a chance to play to a more diverse selection of than they might be used to. In either case, Musikfest is a vehicle for exposure. I spoke to several local artists about this year’s experience, both on and off the stage.

009Matt, from VoirVoir

On the Bethlehem get-stoked-rock darlings’ Tuesday evening performance at the Provident Bank Main Street Stage: “It was the ideal set to me – I felt like we were one with the audience, not above or below them. We were communicating.”

On the band’s reception from the crowd: “It was the first time I ever heard people singing along as loud as I heard myself, which was amazing.”

“And there were so many new people we connected with; we almost sold out of merch after the first set.”

On familiar faces: “All the local support from friends and family made it magical.”

On the rest of the week: “I had to work pretty much every second up until our set, and after. I’m bummed I missed Slinghot Dakota and Summer Scouts.”

On the upcoming weekend: “Ape [April, who plays keys and sings in VoirVoir] and I are stoked to go see Kississippi this weekend – we played with them at Siren Records and they were great, and sweet people to boot.”

On tonight: “What I’m looking forward to is walking around and happening on something, like when I was a kid.”

On the overall experience: “Musikfest is a great opportunity for local musicians to connect with new people – from the area and beyond – and, like our Tuesday night set, play a lovely show for friends and family in the middle of the town we love.”

 —

trouble city all stars

Photo credit: Trouble City All-Stars Myspace

Todd, from Trouble City All-Stars/Goat Wizard

On his hectic week: “Six total sets for me and Trouble City at Volksplatz, and then bars and clubs around the vicinity of Musikfest like the Funhouse, the Wooden Match, and Steel Pub. We even played at a car show this weekend.”

On late night sets: “[They’re like] Musikfest after parties, for when the Fest night is over but people still want to party!”

On the best bands he saw this week: “Band from Mars [a Bowie tribute] or VoirVoir. It’s a toss up.”

On the evolution of Musikfest: “I was happy to see a lot more local bands this year, and I was happy to be in my band playing this year for the seventh time. There’s a very good feeling about the whole town coming together and having an awesome music festival.”

On next year: “I’m looking forward to doing it again, and I have to thank the people that bring us back each year and support us, and all the people that come out and support us every year. It means the world to us.”

“Also looking forward to more rad bands; every year the program for the festival gets better and better!”

On his Musikfest all-time favorites: “Every year they bring back Runa Pacca, the Peruvian flute players. Seriously, the best; they are the true essence of my Musikfest.”

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