2.19.2015

15 Years of Thrash: The False Profit Q&A


Buckhannon-Morgantown thrash punk legends False Profit will play 123 Pleasant Street in Magic Town Friday for its 15 Years of Thrash kickoff show. The band (Marshall Tolliver: vocals; Tommy Fultz: guitar; John Halterman: guitar; John Lang: bass; Steve Halterman: drums) will be joined by False Pterodactyl, High Fives and Hell Yeahs, and Fuck Your Birthday.

WVRockscene caught up with singer Marshall Tolliver, guitarist Tommy Fultz, and drummer Steve Halterman to talk about being a punk rocker, making your own music and your own scene... 


WVRockscene: How exciting has it been having the band back together? How pumped are you guys for this “15 years of thrash” kickoff show Friday night at 123 Pleasant Street?

Marshall Tolliver: I know we are all excited for the show. We have some new songs we’re going to be playing for the first time, and we’re eager to see how the crowd responds to the new tunes!

Tommy Fultz: I am super stoked, I know we are all super stoked. These guys are my best friends, have been since we were wee little. Playing music is something we all do. We took a hiatus but it was never a question to whether we were done. We’ll end up being the meanest fastest thrash band in wheelchairs.

Steve Halterman: We are super stoked for the show, whether 50 or 150 people show up. It is great to be playing shows again. I am not so sure if you could say we are back together or not because we never really stopped hanging out and jamming. Our other band/side project, Wildman Band of Thieves, gave me, John, and Lang an opportunity to practice False Profit while playing some good ol rock and roll.

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rockscene: How much did it suck NOT having the band together?

Marshall: We never officially quit playing. We just weren’t actively seeking shows for a while. Some of the guys were performing with other bands, but we were all still writing False Profit songs. I know we’ve all been itching to get back out there as False Profit though.

Tommy: Life is better with thrash

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rockscene: Talk about meeting/knowing each other and forming out in Buckhannon and in Morgantown so many years ago. What punk bands influenced you guys or brought you together?

Marshall: When I was in 7th grade (around 1990-1991) a good friend of mine named Jonah had a cassette of the Dead Kennedys, “In God We Trust, Inc.” Up until this time I just listened to whatever was on the radio, whatever was popular at the time. When I heard that DK album, I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! I was blown away. I liked the fact that the songs were so fast and short (and offensive!). Then he played some Minor Threat for me, and I was hooked on hardcore music.

I loved how you didn’t really know when one song had ended and the next had begun. I loved the aggressiveness. Later, when we were in high school, Jonah and I decided we would start a band. Jonah played bass and I played guitar. We found a drummer and a singer, called ourselves “Big Trucks” and played a few shows. Jonah and Tom had jammed together before, so that’s how Tom got involved.

The lineup then changed to Steve on drums, and me taking over on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tom on lead guitar, and Jonah on bass. We changed the band name a few times, but eventually ended up calling ourselves Aneurysm. This was around 1993, 1994. That’s when we started writing our own songs, as opposed to playing covers, and taking things more serious.

We played quite a few shows around West Virginia and surrounding states, and put out a few albums. During this time, a lot of local bands really influenced me. Bands that were more established, who took the time to help us out and sort of “show us the ropes” so to speak. I really looked up to bands like Malicious Intent, Screw Worm, and Dead Ant Farm, all West Virginia bands.

Somewhere along the way Jonah moved on, and Steve’s brother, Dave took over on bass. After a short dormant period with Aneurysm, we were all ready to fire back up again. We made some more lineup changes, with John taking over on second guitar, allowing me to concentrate solely on vocals, and Tim on bass, as Dave had moved to Columbus, and was playing with a pretty successful band there. This was in 2000, and we decided on the band name “False Profit”.

Tommy: we have an awesome story about how we formed. I got asked to play one song with this garage band called Big Trucks that Marshall played guitar in. This was 1994 or ‘95. We ended up winning this battle of the bands, not because we were good, but because we were crazy lunatics on stage. That’s how I met Marshall. Another crazy fact: my uncle and his uncle had a band in high school, had no idea.

First day of school in art class the teacher asked us to draw something, anything, I drew a Dead Kennedys symbol. I look over a couple seats down and this long haired dude drew the same thing. “You play drums?” ‘yep,’ “Awesome, practice is Tuesday, see you then,” or something easy like that. That’s how we met Steve.

Tuesday practice came, our new drummer showed up two hours late. We thought he wasn’t gonna show. He did, first song was “California Uber Alles,” and ANEURYSM was formed. We started, by playing our school talent show, and played Black Flag’s “My War,” again, we were lunatics. Audience didn’t expect that.

Big Dave Halterman, Steve’s brother, later played bass for us and we tore up shows in West Virginia for a few years. Big Dave moved to Columbus, Ohio, and John Halterman, Steve’s other brother joined, and False Profit was born. This was 2001. False Profit was faster, meaner, a completely new band. John Lang, a lifelong friend, came into the picture to play bass in 2010. This is our final lineup. This is False Profit.

Steve: In as far as what punk bands influenced us I would say for me first and foremost Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys and too many more to mention. One day I heard NOFX’s “Linoleum” for the first time and said “We can play that fast.” From that point on we have been playing with speed and precision blowing the rest away.

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rockscene: So you have new demos and are gonna have a new album?

Tommy: We have all of April booked to record our new full-length. We have 10+ new songs, faster and meaner than ever. You can tell through our 15+ years how our songs have progressed. We are known for our blazing fast drums, stop-on-a-dime riffs, and our oohs and awws in the background.

The new songs and album will be no different, just better. I’m super stoked and I’m sure the False Profit fans out there are too to hear some new songs. I know we are.

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rockscene: Looking back on your 2004 full-length release “Thrash Till Death” how proud are you guys of it still?

Marshall: Actually, the “Thrash Till Death” CD is a compilation of songs from all three of our albums. I’m proud of everything we’ve ever recorded, but I think our self-titled album (our second album) that we recorded ourselves in 2003 is my favorite. Kevin Lyman (founder of Warped Tour) heard that CD and called me up personally to offer us a stint on the Lyman Stage at Warped that year.

He commented on the production of the album, which we did entirely ourselves, from recording to mixing to mastering. He thought it was a great recording for being done entirely DIY. I felt that this was very positive feedback, considering the overwhelming number of bands and albums this guy hears on a daily basis!

Our newest album, “Hallucinatory Terrain” is definitely better quality of any of our previous recordings, as we went into a real studio. We recorded it in 207, so we’re anxious to get back into the studio with our new material!

Tommy: “Thrash Till Death” is just a compilation of every False Profit song ever recorded, songs that we recorded at our home studio and songs off the “Hallucinatory Terrain” album. It’s nothing better than a crowd singing along to all your songs. Every False Profit song is fun to play or we wouldn’t play them.

Steve: “Thrash Till Death” still sounds just as great as it ever was. Some of the songs are still a challenge to play even with as far as we have progressed since.



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rockscene: You released that record over 10 years ago. Is the desperation gone for you guys? People change over time have you felt that influence how you feel about punk rock or do you feel the same love for it?

Marshall: I still feel the same about playing and performing my music as I did from day one. Life happens, (marriages, kids, mortgages, etc…) but we still have that same drive to get out there and rock it out!

Tommy: We play THRASH PUNK, that’s what we do, and we do for shits and giggles at practice but we play the fastest blazing pissed thrash that we can. Our business is thrash and business is good.

Steve: I still feel as passionate about playing as I ever did if not a little more.

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rockscene: It happens that people can kind of put music down for a while and just not be in a band. The worst thing would be to try to do something if your heart wasn’t/isn’t in it. What made you wanna start False Profit back up? Did it take not having it around to make it seem kinda more special?

Marshall: When we weren’t playing all the time like we used to, I definitely missed it. Going to shows and watching bands play made me miss it more. We all still hung out and there was no doubt that we would be playing as False Profit again. I think we all just finally had had enough of not performing together as False Profit!

Tommy: False Profit never ended, it just took a break. There are two things that we do when we see each other and always have, is we have a handshake we do to say hello and goodbye and we talk about False Profit. False Profit is a part of my life, it’s what makes me, me.

It is cool though, friends and fans are stoked to see us playing again, and we are greating great response from new fans that haven’t seen us. I get more people saying they can’t wait to see False Profit for the first time, they say False Profit was legend.

Steve: I am not one of those people who can put down music for a while. I am always playing and have been in multiple bands at multiple times and all the while have been working on False Profit stuff.

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rockscene: What/when was the high point of/for False Profit during your operational time? Favorite show?

Marshall: Really, the whole time has been a high point for me! Playing with some of my favorite bands like the Queers, The Murder Junkies, D.R.I. The Warped shows were really fun, getting to meet and hang out with bands like Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Rise Against, NOFX. It was a blast!

I really miss the 516 Pearl St. house parties in Morgantown. We had some crazy shows there to say the least.

Steve: My favorite show was playing with D.R.I., or Vans Warped Tour. But our high points just keep getting better and better as time goes by.

Tommy: Right now is the tightest we have ever been since 2001. We area ll focused on practice, shows, and recording our new full-length. This Friday starts off our schedule of shows booked until the end of June so far. In 2001 we all lived together and practiced day and night in our basement. We have played so many kick ass shows, shared the stage with so many awesome bands. I miss the house party, anything goes, beer flying chaos shows we had in Morgantown the most.

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rockscene: Do you think it was much different forming/having/keeping a band together back in, say, the mid-to-late 1990’s? Pros and cons, promoting bands online versus getting people out to shows? Even/especially as it relates to Morgantown?

Marshall: I don’t think it’s any different now keeping a band together or starting a band than it was when we first started. Of course now everything is much easier in terms of setting up and promoting shows, as well as distributing one’s music. With the internet you can let hundreds of people know about a show instantly with the push of a button. Press kits can be sent electronically to promoters or clubs. We used to use “Book Your Own Fucking Life” and mail out cassettes to every venue when looking for a show in the early days.

Honestly though, I miss some aspects of that. It was more personal. You had to talk to an actual person on the phone instead of doing the email, Facebook, text thing.

Steve: It has always been easy for us to keep the band together from the beginning until now because we are all good friends. It’s much easier to promote and to get people to come to your shows with online media. You can gain fans on the other side of the world and not have to play a show in their hometowns.

Tommy: Flyers, zines, and word of mouth was the only way to promote your band. It’s a lot different now with online social media. We have only been on Facebook for a month and we’ve reached out to so many people, new and old. Promoting is a lot easier now but vinyl, cassettes, flyers, those were the days. When this new full-length comes out, what’s the point of producing CDs? They are obsolete now. Digital downloads are the new big thing. We will put all of our stuff online for anyone to have and check out, but we are thinking of putting this album on vinyl to have at our merch table. I’d buy vinyl over anything, any day.

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rockscene: The drummer from Charleston-area punk band Miniature Giant lamented the lack of a punk scene in West Virginia recently in a Facebook post. It does seem like there are cool punk shows going on in Clarksburg at Main St. Café, and 123 has cool punk bands play there. How supportive and/or active of a scene is there for punk bands?

Marshall: I think the scene is what you make of it. Coming from Buckhannon, there was no “punk scene”. No bands played punk rock when we first started. No venues wanted to book a bunch of rowdy punk rock kids! This is West Virginia for God’s sake! Your average bar crowd wants to hear hip-hop. If there’s a band playing the crowd wants to hear Skynyrd, AC/DC, or country.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But that’s not what we do.

So we started our own scene in Buckhannon. We started renting out firehalls and community buildings. We booked tons of touring bands, and put on numerous kick ass shows. We basically started our own scene and we realized that people would come. They wanted an alternative to the bar band, DJ club scene.

Tommy: It’s not like it used to be. We’re just getting back into the scene but so far it’s been encouraging. Morgantown will always have a scene, and 123 Pleasant St. and Clarksburg used to be on of the best towns to play in, and I’m sure it hasn’t changed, if anything it’s gotten better with the Main St. Café. I think what Daniel Bonner is doing at Main St. Café is great. Our first show back in Clarksburg is Saturday, February 28th.

North Central West Virginia is definitely lucky to have two major venues that are being packed and bringing traveling, touring bands. Elkins is also starting to form a new thriving scene at Captain Ron’s, so our idea is growing. If you look around at our neighboring states, this whole area has a lot of venues that we can all keep the music going. And social media just makes it easier to promote and schedule.

Steve: I’ve always thought the scene in West Virginia has been rather weak compared to other regions, but that being said, there has been enough for us to play shows comfortably for almost 20 years now. I’m always hearing about bands playing in the Charleston/Huntington area, Clarksburg and Morgantown and a multitude of bands coming and going so it seems robust enough.

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rockscene: You call yourselves “West Virginia’s Kings of Thrash” -- influenced by these old punk bands like you are -- do you think thrash is something that’s kind of lost on a generation of punk and metal fans? Or, not?

Marshall: I’ve always said “to each his own.” You can’t force someone to like a style of music they’re just not into. So many bands are influenced by thrash bands and they don’t even know it. I hear people saying “I love Avenged Sevenfold,” but put in some old Sacred Reich or Nuclear Assault and they’re like, “What’s this crap? This band sucks!” If not for these bands, the bands out there today wouldn’t exist!

Old school thrash is basically punk rock, just faster with more distorted guitars. Most of the kids out there, into this brutal slam metalcore stuff, have no idea where extreme music came from! It didn’t start with Korn and Slipknot, that’s for sure!

Tommy: That title didn’t come from us, but we will proudly use it. Every band comes up with their own sound, something that sets them apart from the rest. Our sound is straight forward, blazing fast. We will see if the generation is dead or not, maybe a resurgence. Even back in the day we weren’t like the others, we fill a niche that nobody else does.

Steve: NO, because the thrash that we play rides the line between punk and metal. We fit in playing with pop-punk bands and get good responses as well as hard ass metal shows and rip it up. I think what we play is right at home with punk and metal fans.


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rockscene: You guys play thrash, right, haha? You guys have no doubt witnessed this kind of safer punk rock emerge over the last 20 years. When DID punk rock become so safe? Was it the late 90’s? Seriously though are False Profit shows safe?

Marshall: Yeah, punk rock has become safe. I do believe this happened in the late 90’s. After the whole “grunge” scene was done, the corporate record labels were looking for the next big “underground” sound. Poppy sounding punk was the obvious next step. Punk rock became so mainstream, and easily accessible. Nowadays automobile manufacturers use Sex Pistols music on commercials to sell cars. You can go to Wal-Mart now and pink up the latest “underground” band’s album. We used to have to order albums from labels like SST, Alternative Tentacles, or Epitaph and wait for them to show up in the mail. You couldn’t just go down to the department store’s record section and ask for the new Anal Cunt album. Nor could you instantly download it and listen to it on your cellular phone, ipad, or laptop.

There should be a sense of danger associated with punk and underground music. The topics discussed in our lyrics are not happy or sugar coated. But we want everyone to feel welcome and safe at our shows. I can’t stand the guy who gets in the pit with the intention of causing harm to others. That’s not what we’re here for.

Some minor injuries have to be expected when thrashing with others at a show (I know I’ve had my share), but if we see someone acting like a total jackass in the crowd, we will stop playing and have that person removed from the show. Actually, one of our new songs deals with this exact subject (tough guys at shows).


Steve: I think that safety in punk rock started with the emergence of bands like Green Day, Blink 182, and other happy sounding overly emotional bands who have months of the year or days of the week in their names.

Tommy: We encourage safety. Everyone, be safe while stage diving. Make sure there is someone who will catch you or it’s going to hurt. If the pit’s too tough, take a safety-breather-beer-break and jump back in.

It’s funny, we don’t look like your typical punk rockers. None of us try to pull off that look. We would roll up to a venue, show, or house party and people would look at us like ‘Who are you guys? You got the wrong place.’ Until we flipped the switch on our amps.

We look safe, actually probably out of place, until people hear what we’re all about.


--- False Profit performs Friday at 123 Pleasant Street with False Pterodactyl, Fuck Your Birthday, and High Fives and Hell Yeahs.

2.13.2015

Horseburner Gets Grilled: The WVRockscene Q&A


In 2015 Parkersburg-based stoner rockers Horseburner are looking to release a new record and play as many shows as possible. The band (Adam Nohe, Jack Thomas, Rob Howard, Zach Kaufman) will open for Byzantine for their CD release show (in Huntington) in April, and tonight will perform with Karma To Burn and Sierra at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown. 


A few of the guys talked with WVRockscene about writing, recording, playing shows and grilling hamburgers... 



WVRockscene: You guys are demoing new material -- how excited are you about writing and recording a debut full-length?

Adam Nohe: Oh man. I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve passed 6 years together as a band, so I think it’s well past time we finally got a full-length LP under our belts. Since we’ve been around for a bit, we’ve got a good number of songs out there. Some of the songs we’re recording for this album are near five years old.

Rob Howard: A full-length is just the next step for us that we wanted to take as a band. It’s always been important to us to keep things moving forward and we are so stoked on the new songs...and revamps of older ones too!

Jack Thomas: My previous two bands which were in the middle of writing for a full-length both stalled and broke up shortly after. Hopefully the third time is the charm? All kidding aside, I’ve got high hopes for this one.

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rockscene: You most recently released Strange Giant in 2013 -- from then (and even Dirt City) to now, has much changed in the way you approach the process? You recorded a 7” D.I.Y. in your basement before sending it off will this new record follow a similar process?

Adam: Yeah, this is looking to be a fairly similar process. I think we’re working on finding somewhere other than the basement to record this one, but we’re doing everything in-house once again. We’re really aiming to spend more time actually tracking this time. Spend more time getting the sounds we want, making sure each take is the right one. Without paying for a studio, we’re afforded some extra time.

Rob: We love the ability to have complete creative control in the recording process. If Zach wants his guitar louder in a certain spot...or Adam wants more thud out of the kick drum, we have the advantage of messing with the faders with impunity.

Adam: On one hand, that’s cool because we don’t have an outside influence on the songs. But on the other hand, if they suck, that’s all on us too.

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rockscene: What is it about what is generally called stoner rock or this kind of more sludgy stuff, or classic rock inspired stuff or whatever you wanna call it that appeals to people after so many years and styles and genres?

Rob: I think there’s something universal about the music that all of those genres come from. If you really think about it...All of the prototypical bands that would go on to inspire the countless number of weirdos in their bedroom rebelling against their parents or “the man” ...they all had one thing in common. How many of those bands do you actually SING the guitar riff? THAT to me is the enduring legacy from bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Deep Purple....hell, even Rick Derringer or Edgar Winter for that matter. ALL of those bands had riffs you sing...and the music is so infectious that you can’t escape it.


Adam: For me, some of the classic rock bands were some of the best. Not to say I don’t listen to more current artists as well, but take a band like Thin Lizzy or Tom Petty. Those songs, those riffs, they stick with you. And especially with Lizzy or Petty, those guys were just cool. If anyone brings some level of that vibe, I think people will latch onto it.

Jack: I think another big part of the appeal is aesthetic. Everything, the amps, drums, volume level, is larger-than-life. There’s a certain raw energy, a “no rules, just be loud and fuzzy” attitude not found in other genres.

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rockscene: You guys are from Parkersburg. You don’t hear a lot about Parkersburg as it relates to cool rock bands or shows do you think that’s an accurate assessment? Are there venues to play? Cool bands? Is it an asset kind of being in between Morgantown, Charleston and Huntington, geographically?

Jack: There are still a few fantastic musicians and bands in the area who are friends of ours. There’s pop-punk band Street Food, hardcore band Killjoy, and more. The lack of a real music venue (one interested in more than just cover bands) is a big problem. It’s just a lot less hassle to make the short trip to Morgantown, Huntington, Columbus, OH, etc.

Adam: Funny story. We’re opening for Byzantine’s album release show in Huntington later this year. Yet, we were not approached by anyone to play their Parkersburg date. Figure that, ha. Parkersburg used to be really cool for shows. When we had dedicated all-ages venues, it was great. Shows every weekend. Then those died out and we did the D.I.Y. thing with houses and renting halls or community buildings. Then that died out a few years ago, so there’s not much of anything going on anymore.

I don’t hear of any shows or even bands really anymore unless my friends are in them. It’s shocking to me. Back when Jack and Zach and I were in high school, it seemed like half the school played in a band or came to shows. Now, I’m a teacher and it seems like hardly any of the kids even listen to music, let alone play it. That makes me sad for them to not have that experience. Those formative experiences for me are irreplaceable. Rob was in the Parkersburg scene years before we were, so I’m sure that as much as I see a difference, he has to see an even bigger one.

Rob: I’ll use my “old man” status again.... When I was a teenager, the Internet didn’t exist on the plane that it does now. We had to create our own fun. So there was somewhat of a burgeoning scene that started in Parkersburg/Marietta by a few college kids and the random kids who caught a Bad Religion video on 120 Minutes.

There were countless bands from here. A few good ones...A lot more not good but just kids having the time of their lives. I suppose the biggest band to come out of here was Zao (not from Pennsylvania like others may say). And they seemed to do pretty well for themselves.

My generation’s scene died in around 1999. However, after a couple of years, the guys in my band resuscitated it as best they could. But what's terrifying and depressing to me is that I’m not sure something like that can happen again. I realize every generation is different. But it’s such a bummer to me to not see kids actually picking up an instrument and making a fool of themselves by belonging to a music community.

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rockscene: You guys (I think Adam specifically) had posted on the band profile about how special Huntington was/is to Horseburner as far as support and friends and misery. How special is Huntington and the V Club to Horseburner?

Rob: I was born in Huntington. Spent the first few years of my life there. I always have a soft spot in my heart for that town, (and a Gino’s Pubwich) and the wonderful humans we’ve been lucky enough to have in our lives who call Huntington home.

Adam: I think if you read that post through, you get an idea. Huntington is one of those places that’s become more of a home to us than Parkersburg. We have more fans down there than here. We’ve met so many awesome people there, many who have become close personal friends. Every time we make a trip down there, it feels like a homecoming. Down there, everyone, we’re all miserable, but we’re all miserable together.

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rockscene: You guys have a bandcamp page and Rob was asked in an interview about label support how important IS a label in this day and age do you think?

Adam: I think it depends on your goals. If you just want to record and release some music online, it’s never been easier to do that than right now. However, I think if you want to widen your reach, having a label can be a great way to get that support. I’m not saying throw your name on any contract placed in front of you, but if you find people you trust, and you dig what they do and they dig what you do, why not? As long as you’re not expecting to magically morph into some global phenomenon, and you put your share of the work in, I can’t see how it wouldn’t be beneficial.

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rockscene: How excited are you to open for Karma To Burn Friday at 123 Pleasant Street?

Adam: Dude, I’m really stoked for the show.

Rob: Super pumped. Those guys have been kicking ass for many years and it’s a testament to the spirit of rock staying alive in all of us.

Adam: Our buddy Evan [Devine], who used to play in Ancient Shores (and may possibly still be in Sweet Life and who knows how many other bands), ended up filling the drum seat for Karma to Burn. It’s been awesome to watch him as he documents life on the road. Personally, I’m kind of living vicariously through his Instagram account. But the bands rule, 123 Pleasant Street rules, and we have tons of awesome friends in Morgantown. It’s going to be a good time, man.

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rockscene: Just how passionate are you guys about grilling hamburgers? More than most bands?

Rob: A wise man once said, “No life til burger.”

Adam: I remember several of the cities we’ve played or visited based soley on where I got a great burger. I would challenge any other band to match our passion for burgers. I guarantee they will come up short. Except maybe Lo-Pan from Columbus...

Jack: I think pizza and burritos deserve an honorable mention too.

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rockscene: Aside from getting the new record out do you guys have anything you’re looking forward to in 2015? Shows? Tour? Grilling hamburgers?

Adam: Like you said, we’re focusing on the record right now. We’re also looking into booking as we speak. I said we have the Byzantine show coming up. We’re working on some short summer tours, we’re working on spring weekends. Every year, we’re like, “Let’s play more shows than ever!!!” and then life gets in the way. I’m hoping that this year, we can really get out there and hit the road. We haven’t done that as much in the last year, and it’s been slowly driving me insane. So, if all goes as I think it will, expect to see us revisit the northeast, midwest, and the south sooner rather later.

Jack: Personally, I’m most excited to watch more New Japan Pro Wrestling and to NOT cut my hair (my worst decision of 2014).

Adam: We’re hoping Jack brings his dreads back.

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rockscene: It seems like, whatever genre or style you get plugged into, for most musicians it seems to come back to having fun sharing something you love (music/rocking out onstage) with friends and fans. The vast majority of bands will never be a commercial success or barely break even. Is just having fun and having the respect of your peers what it’s all about at the end of the day?

Jack: When it comes to playing music, having fun is always priority number one. I think everyone in the band has lost interest in music at one point or another, but we all come back around. It’s addicting. There’s no feeling quite like it.

Rob: Fun. It really is about fun. If money was the driving interest, I’m not sure that many bands would have even started in the first place. For me, money isn’t where I define success. Playing to a boatload of people who enjoy what you’re doing IS. I would honestly take no pay to get the rush of a huge show where everyone was just waiting to hear that first note. You play music for yourself... but wow it sure is amazing when you have a group of people who want to share that same experience with you at the same time. That is the essence of rock and roll to me.

Adam: It’s all about the experience of sharing the energy, the vibes, and this thing, whatever it is, that we’ve created. I know it sounds cheesy, but for me it’s this cathartic, almost spiritual thing. To have that energy passed between the four of us, to the crowd, back to us, it’s the only reason to do what we do.


1.29.2015

Shepherdstown-based band RHIN to play Huntington on Saturday (H-D repost)


Courtesy photo

Since forming in the summer of 2013, Shepherdstown-based sludgecore band RHIN (L-R: Tucker Riggleman, Ben Proudman, Dominic Gianninoto) has been writing, recording, and rocking out at shows. The band will perform at The V Club Saturday night.


Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

RHIN has been on a good run lately.

The Shepherdstown-based sludgecore/punk band, comprised of members of Bishops and Black Blizzard and fronted by a “Two Ton Rhino” singer-bassist, Dominic Gianninoto, released ‘Bastard,’ its debut full-length in December to some critical acclaim, and has been playing shows with West Virginia stoner rock pioneers Karma To Burn.

The band will ride no small amount of momentum into Charleston and Huntington this week for shows at The Empty Glass and V Club for its first shows in the respective cities.

“We’ve started off on a good foot,” Gianninoto said of how his band has started 2015. “The last couple of months, we’ve been getting some shows that we enjoy being on, and playing with some bands that we really look up to.”

RHIN (Gianninoto; Tucker Riggleman: guitar; Ben Proudman: drums) welcomed Karma To Burn to Shepherdstown for the band’s record release in late December, and things went off without a hitch.

“It’s been really great, all the support we’ve got,” Gianninoto said. “We were really nervous about the record release show, with Karma To Burn coming down, making sure it all went well. I was blown away with the response.”

Before blowing some critics away with its sophomore full-length, released on Grimoire Records out of Baltimore, the band’s home away from home, you could say Gianninoto, influenced by the Melvins and Mike Patton, got into “some heavier stuff” living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“When I started messing around with a bass and a distortion pedal, that was what started RHIN,” he said.

Returning to Shepherdstown found Gianninoto briefly fronting Domino and the Two Ton Rhinos.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t very focused and I just didn’t know what the hell I was doing, just being in a band, what that means, you know?”

After reuniting with his college pal Riggleman, and recruiting Proudman on drums, RHIN was born in the summer of 2013.

“I was thinking about doing something with music again, because the whole Domino stuff was very short lived,” Gianninoto said. “Tucker told me I should meet this guy Ben, who I’d went and seen in Black Blizzard, and it kind of went from there. I must’ve asked Tucker to play, and he was down.”

The band released its self-titled debut in October 2013 and from there, Gianninoto said the good chemistry and approach has bore sludgy fruit.



“Ben’s really into more extreme metal, and he’s always expanding my tastes with really aggressive stuff. And he’s not afraid to get aggressive or angry,” he said laughing.

“Tucker brings a cool approach to it, in the sense that some of his lead work is really great, classic rock stuff. We both have a love for classic rock, so we share that. Having been in The Demon Beat, he has that garage influence. Some of his lead work is really cool noise rock 90’s stuff, and that’s right up my alley.

“It’s a nice little melting pot I guess. I think me, Ben and Tucker work well together. I like our songwriting process, because we can get it together pretty quick. I think we all just want to be respected and play music that our peers or people we look up to respect in the end.

“I mean, we’ve only been around for, maybe a year and a half or so, and we’re very pleased with our recordings,” Gianninoto said with pride. “We definitely felt like we matured a lot and we’re very pleased with [‘Bastard’].

The guys in RHIN, more used to the Baltimore scene than Morgantown, are looking forward for their first shows in Charleston and Huntington.


“I know it’s the first time, and it’s a building process of trying to get people out but we’re really excited to be coming down that way,” Gianninoto said. “We’ve talked about it now for almost a year, and we’re hoping to do it some more. That’s the cool thing about being in a band, you get to go different places, and we’re always down to play shows, so let’s make it happen.

“We’re just trying to keep the forward motion going, and just keep getting better and writing good songs and playing good shows,” Gianninoto said.

“We don’t waste too much time in general,” the singer-bassist said, kind of summing things up. “I haven’t had much band experience. I’ve had some, but, this has just been an awesome experience.”

If you go:
WHO: RHIN with Rat Ship, Cavern
WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday Jan. 31
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., 304-781-0680
COST: $7
INFO: www.vclublive.com
ONLINE: www.facebook.com/rhinwv

12.27.2014

Popular W.Va. band Karma To Burn back with a new album (H-D repost)

Courtesy of Evan Devine

The popular West Virginia band Karma To Burn is touring the United States and Europe with a new album, “Arch Stanton”


Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

The more things change, the more they stay the same, they say. Such is the case for Karma To Burn.

Over twenty years after forming the Morgantown-based instrumental stoner rock outfit, guitarist Will Mecum, again, after a detour and some road bumps in recent years, has the band rolling again as a trio, with a new record, “Arch Stanton” and more touring in Europe and now the U.S.

Hanging out after a rehearsal at the band’s base, 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, Mecum, drummer Evan Devine, and recently recruited guest bassist Eric Clutter said 2014 has been great, and they’re all pumped to get out on the road in January.

“Well, it’s been quite busy and uh, a little crazy, with trying to formulate the new record and get it out to the public, and tour Europe,” Mecum said.

“It’s weird, I haven’t talked to too many people in the states that have heard the new record, and I talked to some people last night, and they were saying it’s the Karma To Burn that they grew up with, that they know, and they’re really happy that the new record is what it is.

“It just makes me very proud. It’s cool.”

Karma To Burn will perform at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown Saturday, December 27th. The band will embark on a U.S. tour, spanning 34 shows in 37 days, starting January 7th in Akron to promote its sixth full-length album.

Mecum said that “Arch Stanton” was an intentional return to a more direct, instrumental stoner rock sound, like that found on Roadrunner Records releases, 1999’s “Wild Wonderful Purgatory” and 2001’s “Almost Heathen,” records that put the band on the map. This, as opposed to the last two Napalm Records releases that found the band in an incestuous, experimental relationship with L.A.-based Year Long Disaster, 2010’s “Appalachian Incantation,” and “V,” released the following year.

“With the last couple of records with Karma, there was always like, a lot of different influences, like, different opinions here and there,” Mecum said diplomatically. “I would try to accommodate everybody and try to write the best song that I could. [Arch Stanton] is basically like, go straight forward at it and just get back to basics and just slam it out and make it a total, grind your teeth kind of sound, you know?”



For Mecum, there has likely been no small amount of frustration keeping his pioneering instrumental rock band going over the years. After a long hiatus between 2002 and 2009, and an attempt to reunite the band, longtime members, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald could no longer be in Karma.

“Ya know, there’s been some member changes, and I think things are working out just great,” Mecum said. “I really am proud of [Arch Stanton] and I’m proud of Mr. Devine for writing it with me.”

Devine, the 26-year old drummer and veteran of Morgantown’s music scene, said the recording of “Arch Stanton” at FABA Studios in Biel, Switzerland marked a turning point for Karma To Burn.

“Getting to write with Will was kind of refreshing, because everything kind of got grounded. It was kind of like a fresh start for me, and sort of for Will, as well. It was the next step for us, but it was the first step in everything that’s happened since then.

“It’s just been really cool, because now it’s songs that Will and I wrote, and writing with Will is great, you know, he’s a riff machine,” Devine said to group laughter.

“It’s just great to finally have a record out, and say they’re my songs, our songs, it’s been really cool.”

“It’s always nice too, that you only got one other person to tell ya ‘f--- off!’” Mecum added, laughing hard.

Devine said ending up in Karma To Burn, and getting to tour Europe, was, and is, kind of surreal.

“Every time I get home, when I get back to Morgantown, and back to my friends, and I just look and I’m like ‘Wow. All of my friends are some of the best musicians I know and everyone I know deserves to be on tour,’ but it’s just not how the world works. I wish it did. I hope all my friends get to go on tour one day. So many, many guys deserve it. But I would’ve never expected it, or claimed to have deserved it. I was just in the right place at the right time.

“It’s really humbling. I get home and I talk to people, and I’m sure you know Bud Carroll, he’s been working his ass off for years and years, and I talked to him about you know, like ‘I just toured Europe,’ and it’s kind of weird for me, because I just kind of stumbled into something. But there are so many people that deserve to be on the road, to be out there, but it is hard. I’m just trying to do the best job I possibly can.”

When asked about being a stoner rock pioneer from West Virginia, and featuring and reminding people of that, Mecum said he’s proud to be a mountaineer.

“I’m not so sure I wanna be the music poster boy for West Virginia,” he said to group guffaws.

“No matter what the band has been doing, no matter what Karma is up to, I always make sure that there’s a little sideline to let people know where the hell we’re from,” Mecum said with emphasis.

“Most of the time, like Evan was saying, there’s a great pool of musicians in West Virginia that people don’t really know too much about. I’d love to take an army of em to go Los Angeles and kill all those f---ers.”

“Yeah, really. Let’s do it man,” Devine added.

“But I’m happy to be a part of West Virginia,” Mecum said. “I’ve lived here for 25 years. I’ve spent more than half my life here and I’m always proud to fly the flag and tell people, when they ask, ‘Where are you from?’ I say West Virginia. West By God.”

Mecum said heading into 2015, he’s still pumped about Karma To Burn twenty years and running.

“It’s definitely pepped me up a bit,” Mecum said of the renewed focus and energy Karma has found.

“You know, with any kind of like, business in the music realm, you have your ups and downs and things like that, and that’s never gonna stop. But at this point I really enjoy playing with the guys that I’m playing with, and it really gives me somewhat of a solace in my head to always go back to like, listen, you’re playing good music, you’re with good people, and just keep on rollin’, keep on doing it, ya know?

“I mean, there’s a lot of people that, talk about times where their jobs get them down, their family gets them down, and things like that. I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a very lucky person because of that. Even though it’s not always a bed of roses, it’s just a great thing. Of course, I don’t want to die tomorrow, but if I did I’d be like ‘F--- it I had a good time!’”


If you go:
WHO: Karma To Burn with Keep, RHIN
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday Dec. 27
WHERE: 123 Pleasant St., Morgantown (304) 292-0800
INFO: 123pleasantstreet.com
ONLINE: www.k2burn.net/

11.23.2014

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?”


WANT TO GO?
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

9.08.2014

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

8.13.2013

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!

7.24.2013

“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!

4.20.2013

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

 photo timedist_I130417214700_zps3f20765c.jpg
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


WANT TO GO?

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