5 Questions with Blag the Ripper of the Dwarves

Ester Segarra photo

Frontman Blag the Ripper and the rest of San Francisco punk band the Dwarves come to Morgantown Monday for their first show in the Mountain State.

Reposted (and expanded) with permission from The Charleston Gazette

On Monday night, smutty, drug-fueled San Francisco-based punk band the Dwarves will play 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown with The Queers. In advance of the show -- the band’s first in the state -- the gazz caught up with singer Blag the Ripper to talk about sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and Hasil Adkins.

Q: You guys released ‘The Dwarves Invented Rock and Roll’ in August, what’s been the response to that?

A: “You know, people love this new record, and it’s a little embarrassing for me, because I only wrote a couple of the songs on this one, you know? I kind of left it open to the rest of the band, and they wrote a bunch of the material. Everybody in the band brought in a couple of songs, and we wound up with this record, and people really love it.

“We went for a straight forward punk approach, and it is a little straighter than the last couple of records, which veered into weird experimental and pop realms and stuff. This one is sort of a continuation of that, but we like to genre hop. The whole thing was kind of gut level punk rock. It was fun.”

Q: There’s sex, drugs, and maybe a little violence, it seems, bound up in what you guys do. You released a very NSFW video for “Sluts of the USA,” off the new album to play up the sex angle, how great was that to make?

A: (laughs) “You put them in the right order. I’m glad you put them in the right order. It’s gotta start with sex, drugs come in second, and then, violence, it’s always kind of creeping in the background. “Sluts of the USA” pretty much pushes the sex angle exclusively. We’ve definitely had more lurid videos, like the one for “Stop Me Before I F*** Again,” on the last record, was a lurid, disgusting video.

“Sluts of the USA” was a more bubblegum type song, with the female vocals in it, so we just cut together all the jiggle footage from us being on TV, and us making videos, sort of showing you how the Dwarves cavort through a world of tits and ass.”

DWARVES - SLUTS OF THE USA from Recess Records on Vimeo.

Q: You’ve talked about being around in the early 80’s seeing people get hurt, seeing violence at punk shows. The recent incident with Fat Mike onstage in Australia -- that may have been something you and him witnessed at some of those early shows. What are/were your thoughts on seeing that go viral and is that something someone should expect if they run up on someone like that onstage, even/especially at a punk show?

A: “Well, you know, in the interest of full disclosure, the Dwarves have a seven-inch coming out on [Fat Mike’s label] Fat [Wreck Chords] in a couple of weeks called ‘Gentlemen Blag.’ I’ve been friends with Mike for over twenty years, and always wanted to put out a record on Fat. We always got along really good, so I always really liked Mike.

“It’s tough to know from just the little piece of footage what led up to something. You never know what was said or what happened or how he was feeling or how it went. Violence never really looks good, you know? But I know what it’s like to just be driven to distraction being out on the road with a lot of people grabbing at you for weeks on end, you know?”

“It’s hard to make an excuse for it, it’s just, uh, you’re up on stage playing, and it could be your worst moment. Most people don’t have their lives recorded like that. It’s tough to get a context as to what’s right and what’s wrong. It would be great if it was a world without violence (laughs) but we’re never gonna get that in our lifetime, you know?

“It’s always sad when someone’s whole career boils down to one thing. We’re seeing that now with Bill Cosby this week. It’s hard to know who’s guilty and who’s innocent and who did what when. But it’s sad that in this day and age, now with the internet, everybody’s life comes down to the most recent little flap about you, as opposed to what you actually did.

“I don’t think people back in the day were judged as much by, like, one incident that happens to be the viral one, you know?”

Q: You’ve contrasted what the Dwarves do, whether it be in the music itself or running your own label, Greedy, against maybe more mainstream punk bands. What makes the Dwarves unique?

A: “Well, it’s always easy to second guess other people’s motives for doing things, you know? I mean, I do this for a living, so I have to make money at it. If I didn’t make any money with it, I’d have to do something else. So, that would be tough (laughs).

“It’s not like I’m going to West Virginia for free. I’m makin’ the motherf---ers pay. I’d like to think that by paying for it, people appreciate it more, like, ‘F---, I’m gonna go here and check this out, and I’m holding these guys to a high standard.’ It’s gotta be a great show, you know what I mean?

“There a lot of people, maybe you can say they’re sincere, but they don’t try very hard. (laughs) For me it’s not enough to just be sincere, I have to play good music, I have to write good songs. Other than look at people’s motives, I look at people’s music. I think a lot of people are making boring music, and the Dwarves keep making interesting records, and that’s really the difference between us and them.

“It’s the same with the live stuff, some dudes are just phoning it in. Maybe they made a cool punk record a long time ago, but who is actually coming out and playing like they mean it? People are going to see us play and be influenced by it, because it’ll be good.”

Q: You've made a career of this for 30 years and counting. What keeps the Dwarves relevant?

A: “The Dwarves are a band that continues to make quality records, and always brings in something new, jumpin’ around, skippin’ genres. We’re one of those bands. You know, in the 1980’s nobody predicted that we would survive. We were too crazy, too wild, too much crazy s--- happened around us, and I’m just really happy that we carried on.

“I mean, getting to go to places like West Virginia? I mean, I’ve been almost everywhere in America, but the Dwarves have never played in West Virginia. So, to go back to where Hasil Adkins comes from? It’s gonna be great. I mean, Appalachian rock, I’m ready to do this.

“I think we’re part of a great continuum of American folk music, you know? Hardcore and punk, that’s a part of that. I feel like we’re a part of a big movement of American music, whether people would recognize us as part of it or not.”

Q: Do you feel lucky to still be able to do what you do in the Dwarves?

A: “I feel extremely blessed, and why not? I’ve been lucky. Most people have to slog away at a pretty miserable life, I think, whereas I get to play music, and enjoy myself. It’s been pretty good. I can’t complain. I mean, I could, but who would listen to me?”

The Dwarves w/The Queers, Pears, Yellowdog Union
WHEN: 9 p.m., Monday 11.24
WHERE: 123 Pleasant St., Morgantown (304) 292-0800
COST: $15
INFO: www.123pleasantstreet.com
ONLINE: www.thedwarves.com


Energetic Weedeater returns to Huntington (H-D repost)

Courtesy photo

Weedeater brings its brand of stoner/sludge metal to Huntington’s V Club Monday, Sept. 8. “We love Huntington,” singer-bassist Dave Dixie Collins (pictured above) said. “...we’re looking forward to it. It’s gonna be one of the highlights of the trip.”

(Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch)

HUNTINGTON -- Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

This would seem to be the case for the guys in Weedeater.

Approaching its 20th year of putting the “stoner” in stoner/sludge metal, the critically acclaimed Wilmington, North Carolina-based trio is hitting the road in September on the way to record its fifth studio album.

Formed in 1998 by singer-bassist Dave “Dixie” Collins after the dissolution of sludge progenitors Buzzov-en, Weedeater (Collins; Dave Shepherd: guitar; Travis Owen: drums) has made a name for itself through relentless touring, frenetic, energetic shows, and just making music they’d want to hear.

Weedeater’s fans know what kind of show to expect.

“We’re pretty much jokesters, and we have a good time and don’t care,” Collins said.

Weedeater returns to Huntington Monday, September 8 for a show at The V Club with local punk bands Station(s) and Rat Ship.

The band will record its fifth full-length in September, again working with legendary producer Steve Albini in Chicago.

“We have always taken kind of a nonchalant approach to recording,” Collins said. “We will have some ideas when we go in there, but the majority of the record is written in there.”

Preparing to follow up on 2011’s “Jason… The Dragon,” Collins said Weedeater is ready and is preparing to record the way they have in the past: differently.

“This time, we’re just as prepared as we ever are, I’d say,” Collins continued. “We just got together with our drummer, he doesn’t live in North Carolina, he lives in Atlanta, so he came up and we worked on some ideas that we’ll be putting together and assembling in the studio with [Steve] Albini in mid-September.

“But, yeah, I think we have kind of a weird way of going about recording. We don’t do it traditionally like a lot of other people do. You know, some bigger bands go in the studio for months at a time. I think we have the studio for six days, and we’ll probably have the record done in about four. That’s the way it usually happens; the last two were done early.”

Capturing a live, almost dangerous energy on a record, in their own unique way, is something Weedeater does well, Collins admitted proudly.

“It’s a little different for us, the way that we do things, pretty much, a lot of it on the spot. And I think it comes through, too. It works.”

Describing the recording process, and writing and incorporating acoustic material that may seep in from Collins’ and Shepherd’s side project Barstul, Collins said it all comes back to doing what comes natural: rocking out.

“We still are a heavy band, obviously. But we feel absolutely no constraints as to what we want to put on there. If it sounds good to us, we put it on there. Once again, we do it for ourselves first and foremost, and of course, we’d love for people to like it. If they don’t, they don’t.

“But I think that it goes together pretty well, the way that we decide when and where to put in acoustic type stuff or whatever, to change the direction a little bit.

“But, still,” Collins said pausing, to speak more deliberately, “as a whole, my favorite thing about recording a record is to try to make the whole thing a record, not just a collection of songs, so it’s very listenable from beginning to end. That’s the way I prefer people to listen to it, but they can do with it what they want.

“But for us, there is nothing that’s not possible to do. We can make anything that goes in the record and meshes with everything else.”

Before Weedeater heads into the studio, though, they’ll hit the road for a two-week jaunt that includes a stop in a town familiar to the band.

“We love Huntington. We’ve enjoyed The V Club,” Collins said excitedly. “Don [Duncan] is an awesome dude. We have ties to Huntington from way back. We’ve always been well received there, even in the Buzzov-en days. So we’re looking forward to it. It’s gonna be one of the highlights of the trip.”

Doing things their own way, making their own sound over nearly twenty years, and having fun is what it’s still all about for Collins.

“We’ve been doing this the whole time for ourselves, anyway. And, obviously, for the people that appreciate it.”

If you go
Weedeater w/Station(s), Rat Ship
WHERE: The V Club 741 6th Ave.
WHEN: 9 p.m., Monday Sept. 8
COST: $10 advance, $12 day of show
INFO: (304) 781-0680
ONLINE: www.facebook.com/weedmetal, www.vclublive.com


VIDEO: Miniature Giant "Kill Yr FriENDs" (official) & "Murder The Government" (NOFX cover)

photo: Megan Green
Miniature Giant (L-R: John Ballard, Michael Workman, KC Shinglebop) have been hanging out, writing songs and playing shows over the summer; things punk bands are wont to do...

Our friends in Charleston-area punk band Miniature Giant have been busy over the summer, which is always good, because staying busy keeps you out of trouble.

Singer-guitarist Michael Workman, bassist John Ballard, and recently added drummer KC Shinglebop have been playing shows, writing new songs (going from "bad" to "tolerable" as they said on their Facebook page) and, making videos.

Below, see the recently released video for "Kill Yr FriENDs," off their 2012 debut EP The Superhero Chronicles...

...and, here they are covering one of our favorite songs from one of our favorite NOFX cassettes (yeah, tapes!) at the Parrot this past weekend...

We'll look forward to running into Workman in/around Quincy, and taking Ballard -- described by an ex-girlfriend as "weird" after she met him at the Glass 7.4 (translates as: "not a loudmouth jerk threatening to fight everyone") -- out for Chinese food sometime soon.

Look for Miniature Giant to be playing shows, not fighting people, and otherwise being super cool punk rockers, in a venue near you.

Oh, and look for stuff here as we attempt to relaunch this thang closer to September!


“No talent busker” releases new music!

We’ve been “out of the office” here for the past few months, much to our dismay. There were print pieces here and there, but the blog has remained dormant.

Until now.

Morgantown native, and now Lexington, Kentucky-based “angry one-man band” J. Marinelli has released a handful of new tunes over the past month.

Right in time to celebrate West Virginia’s birthday, he released his seven-song Sovereign Slates E.P., and Monday, he uploaded his half of a cassette split he did with Lexington’s Ma Turner, including versions of Goodwolf’s “Bikini Girl” and “Filler” by Minor Threat

We’re super pumped anytime Marinelli releases new music. We’re also pumped to be back, covering bands to the best of our ability over the rest of 2013! Get awesome!


5 (or 10) Questions w/Greg McGowan of Time and Distance (Gazz repost)

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Greg McGowan (right) formed Time and Distance as a teen and has kept it going through lineup changes and other challenges for the past decade. (Photo by James Vernon Brown/The Liquid Canvas)

Reposted (and expanded on) from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After his band's three-week Southeast tour in March, which included a show at South by Southwest, Time and Distance singer/guitarist Greg McGowan has been enjoying some downtime. On Saturday, he's back onstage in an Empty Glass show with Blue Ring and The Red Lights.

In advance of the gig, he talked to gazz about what it's been like fronting the Charleston pop punk band since its inception more than a decade ago.

Q: How did the South by Southwest tour go, make new friends and fans?

Greg McGowan: It was really great; we had great weather and mostly great shows. Met some awesome people, ate some really great food (haha), made a bunch of friends, walked a TON. I got to see Butch Walker play when we were at SXSW, and he is pretty much my favorite songwriter, so that pretty much made my month/year.

A couple days after we were at SXSW we played at Six Flags in Dallas. I'm not personally much of a roller coaster person, but everyone else had a blast riding all kinds of stuff. We finished off the tour with a super fun show in St. Louis that was I think one of our favorite shows we've played in a really really long time, then we got home and ended up playing an all-ages show at the old putt putt building in South Charleston, which was totally awesome and a great way to end the tour properly.


Q: SXSW is such a huge fest, and there are so many bands and shows - do you feel like a band has a chance to be discovered down there, or is it just the thing of playing for so many people, getting exposure like that?

McGowan: It is absolute madness down there. So many bands, so many people - everyone trying to get somewhere fast. You definitely have to be a little bit inventive to get people's attention when there's so many other people vying for it. We went in with a ton of fliers and CDs and just tried to pass them out to everyone we could get to stop and talk to us.

I think it was great exposure for our band, in that we were able to reach people from all over the country and even the world, but at the same time I think we were kind of the outcasts of what was going on down there in terms of the "buzz" trends or genres. There was a GIANT trend of singers who play a floor-tom, and I don't do that, so I don't think anybody wanted to sign us, haha.

Overall it was a great experience and we are already making plans to go back next year and hit it even harder.


Q: What's been going on with the band since you've been back? Rehearsing? hanging etc.?

McGowan: RELAXING. haha. We recorded our "ON" EP last September, and literally have been going back and forth non-stop between rehearsing and touring ever since. We're finally feeling like we are at a point where we don't have to beat ourselves to death with songs, we're pretty comfortable and confident in them these days, so we've been taking things a little bit easy before everything picks back up this summer/fall, playing a bunch of shows around home and just enjoying life for a minute.

At the same time, we're always working on something -- we are working on a couple of acoustic versions of the EP songs now, we're shooting a couple of different music videos very soon, hoping to have the songs and at least one video out before we hit the road again.


Q: Time and Distance goes back over 10 years or so. Talk about the pre-T&D days; what bands influenced you as a youth to want to be in a band, and what are some of your favorite memories looking back on local shows or bands that may have inspired you?

McGowan: Pre-T&D seems so long ago in my head it's hard to even remember what I did back then, haha. I remember seeing Green Day play on late night TV when I was probably like nine or ten, and just having something in my head kind of click like "that's it! That is what I should be doing!" So I got a guitar and started figuring it out.

As I get older, my parents tell me stories about how I was always banging on things or singing to myself when I was a kid. I think doing the music thing fits nicely with my inability to sit still for too long. My brain runs like 100 miles a minute all the time, I've always gotta be working on or doing or thinking about something.

I remember the first local show I ever went to in Charleston was a battle of the bands thing at Common Grounds. I'm pretty sure 69 Fingers played; I know Shindig and a couple of the other mythical bands of the "old days of Charleston" did.

I thought it was so cool that there was somebody from my town who was willing to open up this dirty old building to give all these bands a place to play, and even cooler that kids from my town came out to watch. It really just reaffirmed my already existing thoughts that that was what I wanted to be doing. To me at 13, if I could play Common Grounds to 100 kids on a Friday night, that was the biggest thing that could possibly ever happen to me. If you'd told 13-year old me that by the time I was 23 I would have been signed to and split from a record company, played shows with my most of my idols, and gotten to see the entire country with my friends, from the back of a van, I would not have believed you for a second.

There used to be SO MANY great shows in Charleston and Huntington. I could go on for hours about all the great bands I saw first around here -- but most people have never heard of any of em. Some were locals, some where locals from other places that went on to be HUGE BANDS headlining Warped Tour and stuff (I'm looking at you, Thursday) -- we just had this great sense of community, where everyone was a part of something really cool. Then all the venues got shut down, people got older and had families and jobs and and it kind of faded. I don't ever want to be that dude who makes myself sound old by talking about the "olden days" but I think that a lot of kids coming up today just don't get it, and it's not their fault -- they just didn't grow up with that same sense of community within a scene that I did.

"Scene" never used to be a dirty word, but now it's like, a total insult. At the same time, we've started to have some all-ages shows popping up again, and I'm finally seeing younger bands out playing shows again, so I think it might be coming back a little bit. There is still hope.


Q: So many bands come and go over just a few years, much less a decade. Of course there are the fun times, but how much work has gone into you keeping the band going over the years?

McGowan: It's so hard sometimes. I think I'm just too crazy to quit trying. But it's just life, unfortunately. When you live in a van with three or four other people for a couple of years, everybody's little quirks and things come to be very much known to everybody.

Sometimes people just change and don't want to be pseudo-homeless for over half the year. Some people meet people and want to have real relationships or families, which are super hard things to do in a tiny touring band. I've kind of run the gamut from playing with people I grew up with, to people I didn't really know at all outside of the band, and then now kind of back to playing with my best friends.

The four of us are super tight and we'll hang out even when there's nothing band related going on. Obviously we all fight and get annoyed by each other sometimes still, but it just comes with the territory. We are all able to see the bigger picture of how fortunate we are to be able to do what we're doing, and I think when everyone is on the same page like that, it's a bit easier to keep everything in check.

Everybody involved understands that T&D is my baby, I've been doing it for ten years, but I would not call it MY band. It's all of ours, even if I may be the one who writes a lot of the material or sends the emails or whatever. I think we have a good understanding of how things work well for us, and we kind of just try to stay in that mentality.


Q: From recording to songwriting; over the years how if at all has hashing out material with the dudes in the band changed? This is may be a good point to talk about any strong friendships in the band that make it a fun exercise, and not some big ego thing etc.

McGowan: If it makes any sense, it has changed a ton, and not very much, all at the same time. When I started doing T&D, I was just solo acoustic, so when it eventually became a band we just translated those songs into a band format and that was kind of the way we would write new material as well -- kind of just translating songs that were written acoustically into something that worked with a whole band.

But especially in the last I'd say five years I've gotten way more into doing pretty fleshed out "demos" of new songs at my studio (usually before anyone in my band has actually heard them at all.) The "ON" EP was pretty much written and demoed at the same time over the course of last summer, mostly really late at night all alone with like a bottle of wine or something. That was the first record I've ever written completely that way -- having an idea for a song but not always having any idea how it's going to end up when I start demoing it. Then maybe a day, a week, or three months later, all the parts just sort of come together and even surprise me.

So when we went in to actually record the EP, I had these crazy giant full-on production demos, and we ended up actually taking some small parts (like keyboards and drum loops) straight off of my demos onto the final versions. It was a really cool way to work, but I think the four of us are really excited about trying to get into a room together and create something. We'll jam a lot at practice on riffs or whatever, usually ending up on these ridiculous like 10-minute jam sessions and we've started trying to do it a little bit live to transition songs and stuff.


Q: Over the years you've got to see these platforms like Bandcamp and Indie Go-Go pop up and help give bands their own label. This is not to mention social networking sites. But how cool is it for T&D to be able to use something like Bandcamp as a site to sell music AND make fans by allowing people to hear the songs?

McGowan: I think it's awesome. When I started T&D in 2002, it was literally not possible for me to make a record on my laptop, finish it, and then a day later upload it to the internet, and a week later have it available for sale all over the world, which is pretty much exactly what I did with the "OFF" EP in 2011. I made that record in my bedroom at my parent's house, with my cat staring at me half the time. I put it online with literally no help or advertising budget or anything and it just took on its own life, which completely rules and completely empowered my thinking that I/we can do this all on our own without anybody's help (not that a giant checkbook would HURT…).

With sites like Bandcamp and Indie Go-Go popping up, you're actually cutting out the middleman even further, and putting control into the hands of music listeners to make the things that they are actually interested in a reality. I really feel like this whole system is the future of the music industry. Labels are dying out, budgets for making records are virtually non-existent, and everyone is scrambling because they know the "old model" isn't working anymore, but they have no idea what the "new model" is going to be.

I will tell you this, the whole current trend of things that become popular originating from viral YouTube videos or a television show full of highly-paid celebrity judges deciding what is "good" or "bad" is NOT the new way, and it isn't going to last. Fan-funding, streaming music services (i.e. Spotify, rdio, etc) and the basic principle of music being or seeming "free" is where things are heading. we, with the "ON" EP, decided deliberately to try and embrace this -- we put the record up for "name your own price" download via Bandcamp, really expecting everyone to just enter a "0" and take it for free, but we've been genuinely surprised by the results not being that. Sure, we've had more free downloads than we've had paid ones, BUT I don't think that we would have moved the number of copies of the EP that we have, in the time that we have, if the only way to get it was for $5 on iTunes. Even better, when someone gets our EP for free, and doesn't pay anything for it, it seems like they're more inclined to then pass it on for their friends to check out.

We've been getting a lot of downloads and making a lot of new friends, all through old fashioned word-of-mouth. I think it's a really exciting time, I couldn't have predicted that this is where the music industry would've been five years ago, which has me very excited to see where things are going to be five years from now.


Q: You're in the McGees now too? This can kind of tie back into like, the 69 Fingers days, cool local punk bands. But how long have you known any of those dudes and what's it like stepping in, playing shows, going on tour, recording etc.? Seems like being friends and having fun is what it's all about regardless...?

McGowan: I've known the McGees dudes for years. I met Adam Dittebrand and Chris Woodall in the earlier part of the decade when they were both in 69 Fingers. I knew Mike Withrow from The Concept, and then he played bass in Time and Distance for about three years before he and Adam started the McGees. Then, after the McGees were a band proper, I hung out with all of them all the time, because my studio and their rehearsal space are in the same building.

Late last year I recorded a couple of cover songs for them. We all got along really well in the studio and the songs came out great, so we began talking about me recording their next EP. Over the course of all this, Mike and I had a couple of conversations about me possibly playing guitar with them, then one day randomly I ended up jamming with them while they were trying to put together a new song, and the next thing I knew Mike was teaching me songs three days before I was to play my first show with them.

It's been a blast so far, McGees is absolutely about having fun, and it seems like I'm constantly cracking up at practices and shows. I'm really excited to get the new EP recorded and released because, as just a fan of the first record, I feel like these new songs kind of take the things about the first record that were really cool and the strengths of the band that were already there, and kind of expands on them a little bit more than the first one did.

I think anybody who liked the first record will love the new one, and I think it'll surprise some people who maybe weren't as into the first one. It is pretty funny though, because when I was younger and starting out, 69 Fingers were THE band in Charleston. I remember Adam talking his way into my high school band's shows just by dropping that he was "in 69 Fingers" so it is kind of offhandedly full circle that I'm now in a band playing songs on a stage with him.

"Offhandedly full circle" actually pretty accurately sums up a lot of the things and experiences I've had in my life so far relating to music.


Q: One of the recurring themes in your T&D SXSW tour dispatch was the couch surfing or just meeting up with old friends, flung far and wide in these states across the southeast. Is that what it's all about even after all these years, sharing your music and experiences with your band mates and old friends?

McGowan: Yeah I think you pretty much nailed it. I kind of long ago gave up any "rockstar" aspirations in favor of just being stoked that I'm one of a small number of people who are even fortunate enough to be able to do what I do. I may never make a million dollars, or even be able to pay my bills every month on time, but when I'm 70 I'm gonna have so many cooler stories than anyone else.

It also rules that after doing this for so long I have friends spread all over the country, some of whom I know from West Virginia originally who have moved away, and a TON more that I've met just through touring. It rules to be able to be like "Oh, we're going to xx city, we get to hang out with xx!!" But it also sucks because I have made some of my legitimate best friends on the planet through touring, whether they're people in bands we toured with, or people we met, or stayed, or hung with, and I never get to spend nearly as much time with them as I'd like to.

It's cool sharing the touring experience with the dudes in my band, though; they haven't been doing it as long as I have, so even though I may be bored to death with seeing the same things over and over they always manage to make me see it like it's my first time again.


Q: Looking ahead to 2013 is there anything you guys are particularly looking forward to?

McGowan: This goes completely against my earlier point about how we've been going non-stop since September and are enjoying resting at home, but i am totally stoked to get back on tour. We've not even been home for a month, and we are all dying to get back out. The McGees do a short tour in May, and then Time and Distance leave the end of May for a six-week full-U.S. run with our friends in a band called The Traditional, who are from Buffalo. It's been a while since we've hit the west coast and I'm super pumped to get back out there and see some friends, eat some In-n-Out burger, and visit San Diego, which (no offense Charleston) is my favorite city in the country.

After that, we are going to be doing a Time and Distance/The McGees tour in the fall, which should be insanely fun. Eventually before the end of the year, I'm hoping to sleep some.


Q: This ties back in with the fun, but after 10+ years is it still as fun as it was in the early days? From doing SXSW tour dates to releasing new music how proud are you to have kept the band going all these years?

McGowan: I still love it just as much, if not more, than I ever have. In the years I've been doing this band, and all the years before that, music is the one relationship I can always come back to, no matter how bad I might mess everything up, or how many times I fall on my face in the process of trying.

I love creating music; I love the process of hearing a song come together from an idea in your head to a finished recording that people react to. I love when someone comes up to me and tells me a song I had a part in creating touched them or helped them in a positive way.

I hate the business aspect of it all, but it's a necessary evil I suppose. It's really easy to get yourself mixed up in the politics of the BUSINESS of making music, which is entirely different from the ART of making music.

I've seen a lot of people get really discouraged because band X, who they have some past relationship with, eclipsed their own musical endeavors in popularity, or record or ticket sales or MySpace friends, or whatever. I've had friends with bands that sold way more records than I probably ever will, but then their bands broke up because in their minds they "didn't sell enough records."

At the same time, I have friends who have platinum records on their walls that are still the raddest, most down to earth people you'll ever meet, and love music still for the art of creating. I guess that kinda ties together the thing that keeps me going -- the music BUSINESS has just never ever been what playing and writing music has been about for me.

I feel awesome about the fact that this silly little thing I started in high school is still able to release records and tour and play our songs for people, and I obviously want it to succeed, but generally we release a record, and we sell about the same amount of them every time -- but I don't care how many that is. That isn't how I judge our success.

I judge our success in the fact that for ten years this band has managed to do things our way, without anybody really helping us out or telling us what to do, and we've managed to reach an audience of people who care about what we do and what we create, but maybe not so much about what we're wearing or what the current hip blog has to say about us.

It seems, to me, like our music has resonated with people for that exact reason -- we don't try to be anything that we aren't. We write songs we'd listen to if we weren't in the band, we wear whatever we like, and we get on stage and don't always play every note perfect. Maybe if we had better haircuts (…or if I had a floor tom) we'd be better financially situated, but I digress.

Music to me is about moving people, not dollars and units.


Time and Distance, Blue Ring, The Red Lights

WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday, Apr. 20

WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St., 304-345-3914

COST: $7

ONLINE: https://www.facebook.com/timeanddistance


VIDEO: Rozwell Kid "Unmacho" (Official Video)

We’ve been off the grid for a while, but one of the more awesome things that came out recently was the official video and title track for Rozwell Kid’s February release, Unmacho.

Brought to you by Northward Advance, the same people who brought you The Demon Beat’s video for “Bored Forever,” (and including Adam Meisterhans guitar lessons) we gonna post it to give us a reason to come back soon!


The Only Way Out Is Through: Streamlined DTES plays V Club 3.22

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photo: LA Watson

Lexington, Ky.-based progressive rock band Dream The Electric Sleep (L-R: Chris Tackett, Matt Page, Joey Waters) will perform at The V Club Friday.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It’s been two years since Dream The Electric Sleep released its debut album, Lost and Gone Forever, for free, out of nowhere, to critical acclaim. The Lexington-based progressive rock band’s stunning 14-song concept record about the life of an eastern Kentucky coal mining family would not be easy to duplicate.

So, live, and in the studio, Matt Page, Chris Tackett and Joey Waters would move on in a new direction, continuing to see where their diverse musical influences take them.

“When we finished the first record, sometimes you just kind of know that you have something special on your hands, and you just cross your fingers and hope for the best,” bassist Chris Tackett said.

“Nobody knew who we were; we weren’t anyone. We hadn’t recorded anything and we’d never played any shows. So it was just really important for us to just get the music out there and let people hear it. We thought we’d achieved something pretty damn special.

“It’s been nice to get the good response; we’ll take it.”

After downsizing into a three-piece a few months ago, the guys in DTES were challenged with recreating live, the richly layered sound (think Pink Floyd meets Muse) found on the debut record.

“It was a definite transition,” singer-guitarist Matt Page said. “We were trying to figure out how to fill up the space, since the album that we wrote was fairly lush with keyboard parts, acoustic guitars, and harmonies.

“We sort of debated whether we wanted another guitar player, or someone that can do keyboards, but nothing really worked out. So at this point we’re a three-piece. We’re trying to work [arrangements] with samples, and applying the stuff we need to, as opposed to finding another member.

“So we worked hard at figuring out ways to sort of beef up the sound again, and I think we’ve finally got to that point. Last year was sort of us testing stuff out live while we were writing new material. But it’s kind of nice that the three of us gelled, and work together so well. We’re all pretty happy with where we’re at.”

Dream The Electric Sleep performs Friday at The V Club in Huntington with John Lancaster and Horseburner.

“Even though the three-piece, live, with the material from [Lost and Gone Forever] at certain points was maybe a little thinner than the album was obviously, because there’s not five or six guys on stage playing,” drummer Joey Waters added. “It made us a little less muddy live. So, from that standpoint it was a good thing.”

Tackett, who’d came on around the time the band was finishing the debut album, said writing as a three-piece has had its benefits.

“This record we’re getting ready to record was written as a collaboration between the three of us, as opposed to the last record, where I kind of stepped in and helped finish the album. This one, we all worked together on. So it does sound a little bit different. I wouldn’t say it’s anything drastic, but it sounds more like a real band.”

Tackett, with years of experience being in bands as diverse as Chum, The Heptanes, and Hyatari, said Dream The Electric Sleep is bringing everything together as a three-piece.

“As far as doing the three-piece thing, my role in it, like Matt mentioned, we’ve really experimented with some effects and different techniques to fill up some space, especially in trying to mimic the older songs. But the new material, I think, since it was kind of hashed out in a room with the three of us, it sounds a little more natural live.”

Page said Tackett’s sonic tendencies and sensibilities were more integral this time around, and that each member’s influences make the band what it is.

“This album, Chris’ influence and sound have really helped to shape that. Like, I don’t listen to anything like what Chris listens to, and I don’t know that Joey listens to anything that I do, so we all have our feet in different musical genres. It’s an extraordinarily exciting thing for me.”

“These guys have been really cool about letting that sort of influence leak into this band,” Tackett added. “I certainly wouldn’t say it’s taken over or anything like that, but there’s definitely some Hyatari-type elements that we employ from time to time. They’ve been really gracious with letting me express that side.

“It is a weird style, and it’s kind of like, my style, so it’s cool that they let me include that in this project. I personally think it makes for a really unique sound with Matt’s harmonies and writing. We do incorporate some of that Hyatari-type slower, doomy, dissonant stuff, and it works!”

Waters seconded Tackett’s increasing influence in DTES.

“I’ve always played with a really aggressive style, but I’ve never enjoyed playing metal, per se. I like listening to it, and that’s mainly what I’m listening to right now. Chris let me fill in on drums for Hyatari, and that was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever played. So he’s definitely been an influence on me as far as getting back into heavy music again.

“In Dream The Electric Sleep I hit as hard as I want, and really get the demons out. At the same time, I’m able to play that aggressive style but be in a band that’s more accessible to a wider audience. Matt and Chris are good at reining it in and making it sound like Dream The Electric Sleep.”

“Joey and Chris have kind of melded together,” Page said matter-of-factly, describing the rhythm section.

Page said it’s the experimentation and openness that makes DTES what it is.

“It’s really fun to work with two other musicians of high caliber that are also willing to take somebody more like me, who’s going to be more like a singer-songwriter, and put Hyatari riffs and thundering drums behind it, and come up with a sound that’s surprising to me. That’s why it’s so exciting.

Looking ahead to recording 11 new songs and 80 or so minutes worth of material with Jay Groves at Sneak Attack in Lexington, Page said he hopes the recording will be as much of a natural, creative process as the songwriting.

“I’m hoping that comes across when we start recording the album, that this is a step forward, sonically. I want to make sure we capture that as opposed to us setting up a bunch of microphones and crossing our fingers and hoping we get the sound we want.

“I’d rather go into a studio and work with a professional and get that sound, then take those tracks and kind of sculpt them outside of the studio session, in our rehearsal space, and start experimenting with amps, guitars, keyboards and vocals, all that.

“So I think that’s the process, at least at this point,” the singer and guitarist said. “To be honest, the recording process for us isn’t going to be recording something that’s already finished. It’s going to be us creating as we record.”

The guys said they’re looking forward to playing RosFest, a big prog rock festival held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in May.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us,” Page said. “People from all over the world fly in for this festival and they’re super stoked to be there, and they’re music aficionados, and they already knew about us, which was also weird to have people know who you are but you’ve never played for them before.

“These people-- the fans, the organizers, have been extremely supportive; they want us there. So I think it’s going to be a really positive experience for us.”

Page said 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for Dream The Electric Sleep.

“We’re playing shows, we’re playing new material, we’ve got the festival coming up, which is a really big deal, and we’re gonna be in the studio trying to finish an album.

“It’s gonna be a crazy six months I think.”


Dream The Electric Sleep, John Lancaster, Horseburner

WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 10 p.m., Friday, March 22
COST: $5
INFO: http://www.vclublive.com/, (304) 781-0680
ONLINE: http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/


Bishops Make Next Move With "Feel Alive" EP

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photo: Jordan Hudkins

Right where they belong: Tucker Riggleman and Paul Cogle have found a new home for their creative output in Bishops. After releasing their debut full-length in 2012, the duo returns with a new EP, Feel Alive, released in March.

Before The Demon Beat, before Prison Book Club, Tucker Riggleman was kicking around Shepherdstown area bars and coffee shops playing solo acoustic shows, singing his own songs. Late nights at Shepherd University, playing music and sharing songs with PBC band mate and The Fox Hunt’s John R. Miller helped Riggleman come into his own as a performer.

The Demon Beat would emerge as one of the region’s better bands, and Riggleman would later share singing and songwriting duties in Prison Book Club, the Shepherdstown-based alt-country band, with his good friend Miller. But it was only after teaming up with veteran musician and engineer Paul Cogle (Vox Populi, Alt 40, Fabled Sons, Black Blizzard) to record some demos that Riggleman’s songwriting efforts would emerge as his own band.

After recruiting Demon Beat singer-guitarist Adam Meisterhans and PBC drummer Andrew Ford, Bishops, birthed out of Cogle’s Falling Waters studio, released its debut self-titled full-length in 2012.

Bishops will release its new EP, Feel Alive, digitally March 5, and will perform at Gene’s Beer Garden in Morgantown Saturday, March 23. WVRockscene caught up with Riggleman and Cogle for Spotlight West Virginia to learn more about the project and the new EP, which finds Riggleman and Cogle striking out on their own...

WVRockscene: The new EP, Feel Alive, how excited are you two about the material and getting it out to fans and friends? From original demos and rehearsals to now, how has Bishops progressed? 

Tucker Riggleman: I think it’s safe to say that we’re really excited about the new EP. I think it’s a logical step forward for us. A couple of the songs started as demos where I played everything, then I brought them to Paul and he added his magic. It’s a lot of fun to be able to bring in a song and have someone else hear something that they think can add to the vibe of the whole thing, and then mix it all together to get the finished product. I’m particularly stoked on this batch of songs because they’re kind of all over the place stylistically.

There are a couple slow building acoustic/folk rock types of songs that get pretty triumphant at the end, there is a 70’s punk rock sounding song, a straight up rocker, and one that is just me and a guitar. What I love about what we’ve been able to do as a band, is that we can combine these different influences and it doesn’t seem too jagged or out of place. It makes sense that it’s one band making all that noise.

Paul Cogle: Yeah the EP is a really cool jam! We do stretch out a little more on this release which has been a lot of fun. Tucker’s writing is top notch and one of my favorite songs (“Let go”) is on it.

rockscene: How did Bishops get hatched originally? Tucker how encouraging and/or awesome has it been having Paul as a musical partner for your songwriting efforts?

Cogle: Tucker is an awesome guy with a heart of gold. The best thing that’s come from Bishops for me is an excellent friendship. Yeah, Bishops began after a lot of email pestering by me, I initially wanted to record The Demon Beat but our schedules never worked out. Tucker finally came to the studio to record some demos – and we just hit it off so Bishops evolved from there.

I think we hear things the same way. We love things that are over-the-top full of distortion and reverb but still melt when the song is as sweet and pure as a single voice and guitar.

Riggleman: Paul is definitely a musical brother of mine. It’s so comfortable to work with him. He’s a great musician and person, but he is also an excellent engineer/producer in the way he can get certain things out of you, or maybe put you in a position to look at the song a different way and follow it down that path a little bit to see if there’s something awesome you can get out of it.

Basically, the band wouldn’t have happened without Paul’s encouragement. Originally, Paul had me come over last year to demo some songs I had lying around. I was clueless about what should be done with these songs; I just knew I wanted to get them down for posterity’s sake. Once we listened to the demos, I think we decided to get together and try to rock them out a bit, which resulted in the debut full-length. I am still very proud of that record.

rockscene: Tucker, given your past solo efforts, how has being in The Demon Beat and Prison Book Club expanded your own songwriting sensibilities? What’s rubbed off on you, if anything, being in these other bands?

Riggleman: I would like to think I’ve got a lot of the boneheaded youthful mistakes out of the way (i.e. booking a show in New York City on Super Bowl Sunday at a bar with no TV) and can focus on efficiently writing, recording, and playing shows. Doing everything on your own tends to lead to a lot of trial and error, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I’m just glad I got those parts out of the way when I was 21, and not now when I’m 26.

But it’s not just the mistakes you learn from, but also the good things. For instance, we now have the luxury of knowing which places will be good for us to play, and which ones we should skip. The Demon Beat and PBC made a lot of friends over the years (as have Paul’s previous bands) and we’re lucky that a handful of them continue to follow our other projects. I think it’s just like anything else, you learn more as you go.

rockscene: Just like The Demon Beat, with Adam Meisterhans recording, with Bishops, Cogle can handle production duties. How important and/or convenient is it to be able to control the means of production in both bands?

Cogle: The only way to get the best possible recordings are for people to feel one hundred percent comfortable and I’ve always wanted to have a place where friends could come, relax, jam, and record – and for the most part I have achieved that. It’s a private studio. I’ll only work with friends. I’ve never recorded someone I do not have a personal friendship with. It’s also really, really cool to be able to send Adam or Jordan [Hudkins] a mix to get their opinion.

Riggleman: I think the familiarity makes all the difference. Try as they might, some producer at a costly studio somewhere is not going to know your music or what you’re going for better than your band mate and friend. It’s just really convenient to not have to/ rush in the studio and be able to build things up the way we do.

We have a pretty good process down, but it’s still spontaneous enough to catch those unexpected moments. For instance, the last track on the EP, a song called “Easy,” is just a guitar and me. I was playing it for Paul and he kind of snuck over and pressed record. Those are the kinds of takes I think you can only get while recording in an environment such as the one we have at Paul’s studio.

rockscene: Tucker you’re still running Big Bullet Records, which just released a winter sampler. How frustrating and/or necessary and/or awesome is it to be able to cut out the middlemen and run a label DIY?

Riggleman: You know what? It’s gotten a heck of a lot less frustrating once I decided to stick to digital releases for the most part: less overhead, less worrying about pressing deadlines. Everything is just so flooded these days, and I watched it happen from BBR’s inception up until now.

I think we have a small group of folks who diligently check out what we do as a group, and that’s really all you can ask for these days. With every band and label in the world putting things on Bandcamp for free, if you can get just a few people who actually care to click on your link then you’re doing okay.

rockscene: You’ve got this show 3.23 at Gene’s with your friends Billy Matheny and Tyler Grady in Goodwolf, looking forward to the show?

Riggleman: I am really stoked on this one. I’ve only ever stepped foot inside of Gene’s once in my life, and it was awesome. The intimacy and potential for rowdy rock behavior definitely increases in smaller spaces like Gene’s, especially when the shows are free.

Billy and Tyler are two of my favorite musical people, and we are very excited and honored to share a bill with them. There are so many talented musicians in our state. I can only hope that anytime any West Virginia bands get noticed even the slightest that the outside world gets turned on to all of the state’s awesome music.

Cogle: The first time I met Tyler he was opening for Bishops and he just totally blew me away. Love his work! Billy and his group are top notch people (and friends from way back) so this is gonna be one of my favorite shows – I’m so looking forward to it!


Bishops w/Billy Matheny & the Frustrations, Goodwolf

WHERE: Gene’s Beer Garden, 461 Wilson Ave., Morgantown (304) 292-1147
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday March 23
COST: Free
ONLINE: www.facebook.com/bishopswv


CD Review: "III"

ARTIST: Whiskey Daredevils

Cleveland's resident cowpunks, the Whiskey Daredevils, return with ten new songs worth of "no frills rock n' roll" on III, ironically the band's eighth release (the first with new bassist Sugar Wildman) and arguably their best to date.

Since welcoming ultra-badass lead guitarist Gary Siperko on, before Introducing the Whiskey Daredevils, the Daredevils have continued to rapidly congeal its own lovelorn, maybe drug-fueled but definitely super fun version of rockabilly. Singer Greg Miller and drummer Leo Love continue to move the band forward, as they did in the 90's with The Cowslingers, which later begat the Daredevils.

"Swim The Lake of Fire" is maybe the hardest rockin' Daredevils song yet. "Corina" is to III what "Ida Jane" was to the Greatest Hits CD. Seems like so many years have past just since that release, but just highlights how the band has progressed through alternately distorted & twangy garage rock, through a more country flavor (Golden Age of Country Punk) on the last couple releases.

"Never Again" is an old school sounding Daredevils ballad that fans will come to love.

Whether you're traveling Route 66, living some sketchy life, falling in love with women you really shouldn't, or singing along with the band at the Empty Glass, the Daredevils are always a good time. This really could be their best CD.


CD Review: "Disenchanted"

CD: Disenchanted
ARTIST: Sweet Life

The next time bands like KTB, The Sword, or Valient Thorr come to play a show in West Virginia, we suggest they investigate the possibility of having Sweet Life open for them.

These Morgantown & Pittsburgh-based stoner rock dudes-- Jason McCarty, Nick Leombruno, Evan Devine, Mike Roberts-- over the course of seven songs and barely over 20 minutes on their debut EP Disenchanted, actually give reason to be excited to hear more from these guys.

By the time you've heard "Rock n' Roll III" and the first single, "Black Babylon," (see Geoff Hoskinson's killer video for that) you'll be hooked on "The Sweet Life," as we'll refer to the band from here on out. "Cop Dad," 65 punk rock seconds in length, is an early nominee for best song title of 2013.

Sweet Life - "Black Babylon" from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Mixed by Ryan Hizer, mastered by Dave Klug, and with art provided by the aforementioned Hoskinson, Disenchanted is super impressive.

Despite there being only seven songs on the EP, there's enough on display here to make this actually one of the more exciting releases to come out of the "WVRockscene" in 2013. We'll stay tuned and look for these guys to get put on some awesome shows.


CD Review: "Unmacho"

CD: Unmacho
ARTIST: Rozwell Kid

Never considered yourself a van man? Get ready to reassess your life situation.

Whether he’s suggesting totally gross/genius menu items to fast food chains or pestering Marc Maron on Twitter, hilariously juxtaposing and attributing lyrics to songs on Facebook, or, returning with his band’s sophomore full-length, Jordan Hudkins is always entertaining.

On the recently released Unmacho, Hudkins, now, along with full-time writing buds Adam Meisterhans, Andrew LaCara, Devin Donnelly, and Sean Hallock, returns with ten songs worth of new and improved grungy, noisy, super-catchy power-pop, exploring the depths of the band’s get-in-the-van ideology, only now, with essentially three front dudes leading The Demon Beat drummer’s emerging side project.

Not only do you have Hudkins, Meisterhans, and LaCara (remember The Resonators?) but a short, star-studded, red carpet lineup of area musicians (Brian Spragg, Ryan Hizer, Bud Carroll, Dylan Balliett) appear on Unmacho, making it, as far as local releases go, pretty darn studly.

From the cacophonous jam at the intro of “Bonehead” (“Oh wow, oh wow/I really fucked up now,” Hudkins sings) through the first single and band’s super-charged anthem “Van Man,” to the shredding outro on “Rozwell Man,” (“Get in the van. I don’t have a plan,” Hudkins sings repeatedly) Unmacho is a delightful romp indeed.

Standout tracks include “Lipstick,” “Gumshoe,” and the swaggering “Afterparty,” (based on actual events?) you should definitely check out those if you’re reading this and never listened to RK.

It seemed silly to think a few years ago that of the handful of promising acts birthed out of Shepherdstown, RK would be or could be where it is today. Hudkins, with help from his friends now in Rozwell Kid, have emerged as more than just a drummer’s side project. Now, these dudes have fans and online stalkers all their own.

Where The Rozwell Kid LP may have, for some, fondly evoked The Blue Album, maybe Unmacho is like Pinkerton-- a better band, bigger guitars and killer solos (hear the title track,) better backing vocals/harmonies, and just a better, live energy captured on a better record. A more experimental bent is on display, from the noise jams to reverse cymbals to synth-type hits and other studio tom foolery. Kudos, again, to Dave Klug in Pittsburgh for his studio efforts.

It’s exciting to see how far Hudkins has taken Rozwell Kid, looking back on it from the Jude Universer days. As he and his band approach Rozwell manhood, it’s commendable that Hudkins, now, along with his friends, on a record so highly anticipated, did not disappoint.

--- Rozwell Kid performs in a very special Sunday rock show 3.10 at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown with Pat Pat and Dangerous Ponies.


The Renfields on The Renfields!

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The picture above really does a good job capturing what The Fiend’s reaction might be when he’s again being starved for an extended period of time. Since there was so much good conversation with The Renfields for our Gazette piece, (and good pics via Mike Winland Studios,) we thought we’d put something a little special together on the band for its first show back in five months tonight at The Sound Factory, and why the band starves its mongoloid bassist…

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “I remember the very first show, seeing them, was at The Elbow Room. [To Vincent] I don’t know if you remember this one?”

Vincent: “I do.”

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “Yeah, it was a Dangerkat show, and we were playing with you guys, and I was like ‘Look at these jerks walking around in costumes!’ Then, you guys started playing, and I was like ‘Oh, this is kinda cool!’

“And you guys had, like, 3-minute long [movie sample] intros between each song, (laughter) and I was like ‘Oh no, I hate these guys!’ (laughter)

“My girlfriend just had to explain our band to her parents like a week ago.” (laughs) “She said it didn’t go over very well. She ran into the same thing, like ‘How do I explain that they wear costumes and are covered in blood, but they’re not some evil metal band?”

[Vincent, on Dr. Von Renfield IV]

“When he joined the band, we still had Herbert III, and we became friends because we always played with Dangerkat. He joined as Lucio on guitar. Then, the next practice, Herbert III quit. And we were like ‘OK, well you just bought that guitar and bought that amp but now, you’re the drummer!’” (laughter)

The Fiend: “First impression? Seeing their pictures on MySpace, and thinking, ‘What the hell is this [expletive]?’ (laughter) And then I listened to it, aaaaannnnnd, I loved it.

“The catchy tunes: just like with the radio when people turn it on and hear pop tunes-- it’s catchy! And that’s what people like; something that they hear, and then, hours later they’re doing something and all of a sudden, it creeps in your head, and you start bobbing your head. And that’s how The Renfields are, they’re catchy.”

“Then I wanted to play a show with them.

“And we got a show with them, somewhere near Beckley. And I remember pulling into the parking lot and seeing them, and thinking, ‘That has to be them!’” (laughter)

Vincent: “And we weren’t even in costume!”

The Fiend: “They were unmistakable.”

Dick Ramsses: “The first time I’d ever heard of them I was playing in [REDACTED] -- [Fiend] would talk about them often.

“The first time I ever saw them, we played with them at Fright Farm, and I remember thinking the same thing; ‘What the hell is this [expletive]?’ (band laughter)

“And I saw ‘em play, and for me too, it was “Machete a Go-Go,” I was like ‘Oh my god, this [expletive] is catchy!’

“Then, it was the half band, half set show in Huntington. We went out there, like hanging out, and I was like ‘Man, what happened to these guys?’”

Vincent: That night, I’d called [Fiend] the week before and said ‘Hey man let’s do The Jasons,’ it always happens like this, and he said ‘Yeah,’ and when we lost the bass player and it was just like with [Dr. Von Renfield IV] ‘OK you can be the fiend now.’”

Dick Ramsses: “That show was actually right after we’d quit playing with [REDACTED]

Fiend: “It was.”

Dick Ramsses: “Right after everything just went…”

The Fiend: “To Florida.” (laughs)

Dick Ramsses: “And we just kind of hung out, and I remember you talking about possibly joining The Renfields. And we actually sat in his dining room, and just messed around, we did an acoustic version of what was it, “Prom Night?”

The Fiend: “Probably.”

Dick Ramsses: “We were just jamming around on that, just for fun. And I was like, ‘Man if they need anyone else, I’ll do it.’”

The Fiend: “The band never had a second guitarist.”

Vincent [to Fiend]: “When you said [Dick Ramsses] wanted to join, I was like ‘YES!’”

*on booking shows…

The Fiend: “You can’t expect a response from every venue owner to every text, every e-mail, saying ‘Sure, this is my place of business, come on over, play a show!’ and, you know, some of the hardest places to get in, are sometimes the crappiest places to play.”

Vincent: “Yes, they are.”

The Fiend: “I don’t know why that is.”

Vincent: “[Fiend] books the shows. But it’s frustrating when you’ll want to play a show, and they have no idea you’ve been a band for ten years. And you just wanna say ‘LOOK at what we have been through!’”

*on starving The Fiend (Renfields intervention breaks out mid-interview)…

Dick Ramsses: “It’s always his own fault.”
Vincent: “Yeah!”
Dr. Von Renfield: “He really makes us do it.”
Dick Ramsses (to Fiend): “Quit making mistakes, and behave well, and you’ll get food.”
Vincent: “Here’s the key: don’t be who you are, and we won’t have to do what we do to you.”

The Fiend: “A lot of kids like us.”

Dr. Von Renfield: “When we played ShockaCon, there were little kids wearing Renfields shirts there. Like 6 and 7-year old kids.”

Dick Ramsses: “Kids are either really scared, or they love it.”

Vincent: “Just like Barney!” (band laughter)

EXTRA! EXTRA! The Renfields Get Animated!

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There was so much good quotage left over from our in-person interview with The Renfields that we thought we’d post it here! From first impressions, to winning fans, to recording and re-animating The Fiend, this special two-part mini-series, if nothing else, reminds you to go see Team Transylvania tonight at The Sound Factory with Miniature Giant and Calendars and Kerosene.

Now, The Renfields, on --

*The band’s undead origins…

Vincent Renfield: “I was in, just, a regular pop-punk band, and I always wanted to be in a gimmick band. I’ll call them a gimmick band, but when I was real young I heard KISS, and I remember sitting there with the LP that my brother gave me, and my mind changed from ‘What kind of music do I want to play?’ to ‘What will we wear?’ (band laughter) ‘What is our image?’ ‘What is our shtick?’

“I’d always wanted to do that.

“So I asked every person that I knew, and no one wanted to do it.

“So I started buying instruments; bass, a drum set.

“And then I would say, ‘You don’t know how to play, but if you want to be in a horror punk band with me, you can be Dr. Von Renfield, or Chester; whatever character you want to be, you can use the equipment, and we’ll learn how to play together.”

*Wearing costumes, winning fans…

Dick Ramsses-Renfield: “With this band, the appeal that catches everybody’s eyes is the costumes, and they’re like ‘This is stupid. What are these 30-year old guys doing dressed up like a bunch of idiots?’

“And then we play, and everyone-- well, I don’t want to say everyone,” (band hard laughter)-- “I guess not everybody’s a fan. But most people, yeah, when we start playing, it clicks in their heads; they get it.”

Vincent Renfield: “They want to hate us, because of the way that we look. They think that we’re going to try to get up there and be like, Danzig Jr. or something, and be tough guys. And so they’re instantly like, ‘Yeah, [expletive] these guys.’

“And then, we start making fun of ourselves, and horror punk in general.

“[Dick Ramsses] said it the other day, and it’s true: we’re not a horror punk band, we’re a parody of a horror punk band. We’re fans of what we do, but at the same time a lot of horror punk bands are dudes, just normal guys, trying to look scary.

“Our shtick is that we’re monsters that don’t know we’re scary.”

Dick Ramsses: “For me, personally, when we play a show, I don’t care if they like us as a band. I just hope they have a good time. They don’t have to like our music to have a good time watching us.”

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “I can’t tell you how many people have come up to us after a show and been like ‘You know, I normally hate your kind of music, I’m a fan of--’ what’s the band with the teddy bears?-- The Grateful Dead! ‘Yeah I’m a giant deadhead, but I had a great time tonight.’”

*Vincent, on having Lucio back as hype wolf and to run samples…

“Lucio’s an important part. We needed him. He’s the dude that is obsessed with horror movies like I am. When he came on I was happy because, like, we all like horror movies and watch them, but I’m obsessed and he’s obsessed with them. So, maybe it’s not even a band thing, but we can talk about collecting VHS tapes and imported German stuff. (band laughter)

“I missed that.”

*on recording “GO!,” the new album, versus past efforts…

Vincent: “The reason we recorded in mono was, that was all we had. And I knew my guitar skills were limited at the time; I didn’t know how to sing and play the guitar at the same time. So, I was just trying to do what The Mummies did, what the Ramones did. And instead of making apologies for what I don’t have to offer, I would champion what I do have to offer.

“In my head though, when I wrote “Burning Revenge,” you can go back and listen to it and see what I was able to do with it. In my mind, it wasn’t a mono song, it was just, that’s what we had. Now, the version on [“GO!”] the way it is, and every song on the album, is the way it should be. When we recorded the CD and I sat down to listen to it, sure there were one or two things we wanted to go back and change, but I was like, happy with everything.

“So, every other album that was done in mono, it was like, ‘Well, that’s the best we could do,’ and some people dug it and some people didn’t dig it.’”

The Fiend: “I like how [Vincent] was talking about how he showed what he could offer. And what was cool was, how he proudly said, and the reason I was a fan was the things he said in the liner notes, like ‘Recorded in blood-curdling mono,’ and was proud of that.

I thought that was just humorous and kinda cool. Something else he said in another liner note; ‘If it sounds like it was recorded in a casket, it probably was,’” (band laughter)

Vincent: “And I still wanna celebrate that, but I don’t wanna hold back [Renfields] members who are capable of doing awesome things. I’m trying to get a custom made guitar that has just four strings, and instead of dots, just has the number of the frets, (hard band laughter) with just one pickup and one knob, because I want people to be like ‘What the [expletive] is that caveman [expletive]?’ (laughter)

“That’s what I’m interested in doing, because that’s what it was built on.”

Dick Ramsses: “We didn’t want to have an album put out and us not be happy with it. For so long-- and any band could say this-- they don’t want to just hand somebody something and say ‘Here’s our CD, BUT,’ and then go into some long explanation about what’s not good about it, or why they’re not happy with it.”

Vincent: “That’s been The Renfields, like, for years. (laughter)

“This record, because we’re not going to let it happen, there isn’t going to be one thing we’re not satisfied with. Not one thing will be anything less than what we want. The artwork, whatever length we had to go to, money-wise, we did it. We’re going to do that with the packaging, and a special little tour edition that’s already working.

“And luckily, with the recording, any little thing that we wanted to do, we can go back. We’ve talked about it; a lot of bands put out a CD that’s thrown together…”

The Fiend: “In a week.”

Vincent: “Yeah. We’ve done that enough. We recorded “Stalk and Slash [Splatterama] Part 2 in 13 hours. This has been almost 13 months.”

*on how recording “Porkchop,” re-animated the recording process…

The Fiend: “It just made sense.” (to work w/Eamon Hardiman)

Dick Ramsses: “That’s what started the whole recording process, too. We went in and were just going to do the ‘Porkchop’ theme and two other songs, just to have. And then we got in there and it was like ‘[expletive] it, let’s do an album.’”

The Fiend: “We didn’t have the money, but we just made it happen. We were like ‘If we don’t do it, we’re never going to.’”

Dick Ramsses: (laughs) “YEAH!”

Vincent: “When [Dr. Von Renfield] and I drove down to show him the song, and all we had was the rough guitar mix, so we sang it to him, like, played it on the stereo and sang it to him, and he teared up.”

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “That’s the only time I’ve ever seen Eamon show emotion.” (hard band laughter)

*Dick Ramsses, on keeping The Renfields going…

“I’m not going anywhere. I don’t know about the rest of the guys. I think I was telling [Vincent] and I told [Fiend] the other day; I’m gonna go with this for as long as I can. This has been a lot of fun.”


'Nation' Building: Huntington band built on love of thrash

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Photo: Mike Adkins

Nation (L-R: Jake Wegman, Dana White, Ryan Vickers, Bobby Midkiff, Bryan Patterson) formed out of its member’s friendships and love of thrash metal. The Huntington-based band will help open things up at Byzantine’s CD release show tonight at the V Club.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It wouldn’t be incorrect to describe Dana White’s new band as an exercise in “Nation” building. Except, in lieu of foundational concepts like democracy and liberty, the Huntington-based five-piece band Nation is built on the freedom to express themselves and pursue happiness -- as a thrash metal band.

Gathered at White’s house in Huntington for a Saturday rehearsal, White, guitarists Bryan Patterson and Ryan Vickers, and bassist Bobby Midkiff talked about the big ideas behind the birth of their own particular Nation.

Describing Nation as “way more thrash,” than his previous bands, Holden Caulfield and Heart Holds True/Black Seas, White said Nation, comprised of members of Holden Caulfield, Neutral Agreement and Deckard, formed quite organically through friendships developed over the years.

“I was excited about this band from the get go,” the singer said. “Bryan and I had been wanting to be in a band together for a long time, and we finally pulled it off.”

Nation performs at The V Club Saturday night, helping to open for Charleston metal band Byzantine, as they release their first record in five years.

Borrowing from a Holden Caulfield album title, White said after the popular hardcore band broke up he and X-Box buddy Midkiff agreed they “Can’t Stop Now.”

“When Holden Caulfield broke up, Bobby and I had already been talking about doing Heart Holds True, which had no name at that point. But Heart Holds/True Black Seas, which was basically the same band with a few changes here and there, that band never really got its momentum. And we hated that, because we enjoyed it and it was fun.”

It was entirely coincidental that Midkiff was moving back to West Virginia from Jacksonville, Florida, when Nation was being birthed.

“Well, Dana and I have been best friends for what, like, six or seven years now?” Midkiff asked as if to confirm it with the singer and his bandmates.

“Thirteen? Longer than that,” Patterson, who White said has written the majority of Nation’s songs, added to laughter from the guys.

“Yeah, a long time,” Midkiff said, continuing. “But I was in Florida, and had just moved back, and Dana said he needed a bass player for Nation. So I was like, ‘of course,’ it was like the perfect fit.

The bassist described how Patterson was pulled into orbit over the years.

“When I was in Holden Caulfield we played a lot of shows with Neutral Agreement, and Bryan was in Neutral Agreement. Actually, on the Holden Caulfield record “Can’t Stop Now,” Bryan came in and did some guest guitar work on two songs. Just playing shows with our bands, together over the years we’ve gotten to know each other that way.”

Patterson jumped in at this point to describe the band’s genesis, and their mutual love of thrash.

“Like Bobby hit on earlier; he, Dana and I have been crossing paths for years now. When I was in Neutral Agreement we’d play shows all the time. Dana was always really good about putting us on shows and supporting our band. Really just by playing shows together and hanging out at shows we became pretty good friends and we always tossed around the idea of playing together.

“We’ve always had a love of old school thrash, which is something that’s not around here, or surrounding areas too much,” Patterson added. “So we really liked the idea of going back and doing what got us into music to begin with: Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer, stuff like that.”

“We both love old school thrash, we all do,” Vickers added, describing the mutual interests he shares with Patterson and the rest of the guys. “He grew up with it, and me, I kind of ventured into heavier, heavier music. But we all still maintained that interest in thrash.”

Admitting he was excited for his band to have the opportunity to open for Byzantine and potentially reach new fans, White said when it comes to getting Nation’s music out in the digital age, just like playing out, it’s all about getting your music out there these days.

“As far as giving the music away, stuff like that, it’s hard to sell music these days, especially when you’re not the headlining band,” the singer said. “We just figure, ‘Hey, we’ll just give this away, and hopefully people will listen to it and we hope they like it,’ get to know it that way.”

Patterson said that, financial constraints aside, the band looks forward to recording a full-length follow-up to Nation’s 3-song E.P., released in September 2012, this year if possible.

White, asked about the likelihood of living out his admitted dream of having his band open for Anthrax, said he’s quite literally living the dream in Nation.

“It would be a dream come true to get to play with Anthrax,” White said.

“But at the same time, I’m so stoked to play any show that we can, even if there’s hardly anybody there, we’ll still be pumped to play because we’ll get to hang with each other, we’ll still get to meet a handful of new people, and we’re probably going to play a new venue that we’ve never played or been to.

“Being in a band is a privilege that some people, sadly, take for granted.”

“I agree with Dana,” Patterson said. “I’ve loved thrash metal for as long as I can remember. Going through my entire life and just now being able to be in a thrash band, it means the world to me to play the music I love, and play the music that influenced me.

“It’s icing on the cake that people come to watch it and people enjoy it.”

Byzantine CD Release show w/Nation, DeadFaceDown, Among The Dead
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 23
TIME: doors at 8 p.m., show at 10 p.m.
COST: $12 advance, $15 day of show
INFO: www.vclublive.com


The Devil vs. Chris Ojeda: Byzantine frontman talks about "Soul Eraser"

With lyrics about black tar lords, black teeth, and blacker souls, Byzantine’s new song “Soul Eraser,” and the official video for it, received thumbs up from fans online, and thumbs down from stations the band sent it to due its visceral, bleak, totally NSFW depiction of drug-ravaged West Virginia.

Byzantine singer-guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda here, in an excerpt from a phone interview with the Gazette, discusses the song, the video, and the response to both…

“That song is very close to our problem. As far as our band is concerned, we’ve had a lot of people very close to us get hooked on drugs. The whole song is kind of like a ‘Shame on you, West Virginia, for letting this pill problem, this prescription drug abuse problem, infiltrate this state and turn our whole generation into people dependent on something that’s killing them.’

“We wanted the video to portray how crappy it is, and it did.

“But with [“Soul Eraser,”] the subject matter being so dark, and so close to West Virginia, I’m hoping it’ll take off and be kind of an anthem, like “Jeremiad” was for us. We’ve had a lot of people tell us that “Jeremiad” got them through some dark times, because the song deals with suicide, and feeling alone, and just, like nobody cares about you

“So now, with drug abuse being so prevalent, maybe people can see the video and hear the lyrics and be like, ‘Maybe I need to get off my a--,’ and deal with it, you know?

“We submitted [the video] to all the stations, and every one of them said the same exact thing, ‘The song was fantastic, the video was fantastic, but it’s too graphic.’ And it’s like, ‘In this day and age?’ (laughs)

“But we were also able to do a casting call, and get our fans to come in and do the little mosh thing, which was cool. If I was a kid, and a local band that had some type of credibility was asking me to be in their video, I think that’d be the coolest thing. So as a way to say thanks, we did that for them.

“We had a blast doing it, and the kids had a blast doing it. It looked like they were trying to kill each other, but the reality was they were jumping around smiling. We had to stop that part like fifteen times because they were smiling too much.” (laughs)

Related: Byzantine is back with new album, new attitude (Charleston Gazette)