Friends of P: Sly Roosevelt releases Old "P" at HMAF


Sly Roosevelt (L-R: Sean McDaniel, Alex & Megan Durand, Jyosh Sanders, Matt Marshall) release Old "P" Saturday at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival

One of the best things about doing what we do here is being pleasantly surprised how much we like a band that we hadn’t got into yet for whatever reason. Huntington’s Sly Roosevelt is a good example of this. Of course, we’d heard about the punk-infused indie rock five-piece in covering area shows, but didn’t really know how cool their sound was until getting their new four-song EP Old “P” sent to us.

In anticipation of their Saturday afternoon show at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival, and to find out more about the band, their sound, and their EP, we caught up with the band to learn more...

WVRockscene: You guys have been around since 2008, right? And now you have the new EP out in time for HMAF, how exciting a time is it for the band these days?

Sean McDaniel: This is just the beginning, and yes, it is exciting to see all of the hard work come together. I really didn’t stress too much. I have all of the confidence in the world in the band and our manager, Justin Kay. It’s great.

Jyosh Sanders: Things have changed in a way that makes me feel more confident, like what we are doing has more weight, but it feels very natural.

WVRockscene: The nucleus of the band was originally a three-piece right? Sean, Alexander and Matthew? How did you guys meet/know each other and how much of a chemistry has developed since welcoming Jyosh and Megan Durand on in 2009.

Sean McDaniel: We’ve met in random places at different times, so it may have been fate that I met [bassist] Alex [Durand]. I played an open mic and was terrified, and afterward Alex asked me to play music with him. We tried that for a month or so, and then he asked Matt [Marshall] to play the drums. Megan and Jyosh have made an incredible impact on the songs – fleshing them out and adding textures, sounds, ideas, input. They are great to be around and add a tremendous amount of creativity.

Jyosh Sanders: We’d all been playing music, finding ourselves you could say, when Sean and Alex met. Sean is the core of the music as he envisions and sketches out the notions to be hit upon. Alex was the common element that permitted the bonds between us that awkward social restraint might have never let happen.

Alexander Durand: The very first time I met Sean was at Ladybird show. The whole night I spoke to everyone with a British accent. Why? I don’t know. He actually gave me a sweet lighter in a gesture of American kindness. Month or two later we meet at a party and I explained my ruse and that I lost his lighter. The first time I saw Sean play, I was blown away. The music was original, yet familiar. He put his guts into it. I was very new to playing music and despite assuming a false persona and losing his awesome lighter, I had to ask him if I could be a part of it.

WVRockscene: 92.7 played “Lion” off the new EP last week, how exciting was that? Was that the first time getting your music on the radio?

Megan Durand: It was pretty exciting. We’ve been on the radio a couple of times before; we played a live acoustic set on 106.3, and 92.7 played a recording from one of our live shows to promote the first HMAF. This was the first time a track from the EP was exposed to the world, though, and it was really satisfying to hear the finished product – this thing that we spent so much time producing and fine-tuning – in that context.

WVRockscene: You recorded throughout June and July, is that right? How much of a mix of challenging, fun, sweat and maybe frustration went into the DIY recording sessions?

Sean McDaniel: The recording was really fun, and all of the other things you mentioned. The fact that we built it ourselves was gratifying. I have to say that Justin and Alex were the masterminds behind it. We all put an enormous amount of time, effort, money and love into it.

Megan Durand: There were lots of late nights and, of course, lots of retakes. But the whole process was really positive overall. Everyone was excited to be there and eager to get things done.

Alexander Durand: Before we had the studio, I looked into the recording process and worked on recording some songs I had written in hopes of getting better at recording with the band. I read up on recording setups, room treatment, and what sound is. The internet/universal consciousness is an amazing thing. I think the most challenging aspect was the coordination of everyone’s schedules. We made the most of anybody’s free time and for the most part recorded every day.

Matthew Marshall: About 5-6g’s and a whole lot of work and toil went into it, but totally worth it at ANY rate. Since we recorded in our own studio, we have had complete control over everything which is always nice to experiment with.

WVRockscene: Old “P” is self-produced, recorded by the bassist and the drummer, talking to bands, you can hear alternate theories re: pros and cons of DIY recording; pros include the freedom of not having someone nit pick, and a con can be that you start nit picking yourselves. How did the recording go? From tracking to taking it out for mixing and mastering?

Sean McDaniel: The recording actually went pretty well. I will defer technical talk to Alex, but I will tell an anecdote: Matt is crazy. For one take he laid down a drum track without a scratch, just the metronome. Not sure if he memorized it, but he nailed it beat for beat, crash for crash. It was nuts. I couldn’t believe it.

Jyosh Sanders: Putting it down was more a relief than anything. We’ve been playing these songs for years, and to finally have them actualized, and to be confident in every element of each person’s contribution is a freeing thing.

Alexander Durand: It was definitely freeing. It would have been nice to have had superb recording equipment and not have to second guess yourself, but during the process we learned so much about recording. There are so many different things you can try and we were able to experiment with of different sounds. We kinda knew what we wanted as a final product and took it step by step.

WVRockscene: With many bands the decision making process that goes into exactly what songs to record and put out are just as much aesthetic as they can be financial; was that the case with the four songs on Old “P,” do you wish you could’ve put more material on it or is less more in this case?

Sean McDaniel: Well, yeah, we would have liked to put more material on it, but with the songs we chose, I think the idea was more about getting variety – songs we thought had their own vibes that fit well together.

Megan Durand: We planned the EP as kind of a Sly Roosevelt sampler. We chose those four songs to represent the different aspects of our sound. You get some of our heaviness, some of the punkiness, a little bit of the spaciness. It was intended to be sort of an appetizer for the full-length album, which will of course be more comprehensive, but it’s also a nice whole unto itself.

Matthew Marshall: I feel that the number of songs and the length was just right for the EP, leaving fans wanting more but still giving them a taste of our music

WVRockscene: Dave Mistich had nothing but positive things to say about your live show in his review of your May 6 show at the V Club. Describing your songs as “strange yet inspired,” with “fresh” and “chaotic” structures that make liking Sly Roosevelt “adventurous” and “arduous,” it’s a real compliment from a real music critic. How cool is it to be able to win over such discerning ears, and how have you congealed around this nebulous style over the past few years?

Sean McDaniel: With our music, I want the impact to be moving. I want to take the listener somewhere, whether it’s somewhere dangerous or childish or whatever. I just want the performance to be honest and moving on some level. And if people enjoy it, that’s a bonus.

Jyosh Sanders: It makes me feel validated that others not making the music, sharing in the space, are able to get there. It gets in our head, and it grows there, from some power chord song Sean shamelessly bleats out in our living room one evening. We run with it until we feel that feeling and unclench our fists and nod with a stupid grin and giggles.

Alexander Durand: Dave is awesome.

WVRockscene: For me, it’s exciting getting into a new band whose sound and songs are new and exiting, how proud are you of the final product that is Old “P” and how excited are you for people to hear it?

Jyosh Sanders: It’s as close as I can imagine you can get to capturing the actual song that we play live. We are all pursuing this idea, and it’s just been so long without it really happening.

Alexander Durand: It’s hard not just giving them out to everyone.

WVRockscene: Over the three or four years you have been playing out in Huntington, how supportive of an atmosphere is it for a band that is said to be such a challenging, acquired taste?

Alexander Durand: I feel that there is so much support coming from fans, other local bands and the venues in Huntington. We have a really awesome community of musicians that play out here. Watching the crowd response grow from when we first starting playing has been amazing. People can dig it and that’s so awesome. I do remember though the first time I saw someone dancing my mind was blown.

Jyosh Sanders: I feel like we have a very wide appeal, and there’s something there for everyone. We relish in tenacity, though, redemption. If you don’t love us, we look forward to growing on you.

Matthew Marshall: It took some getting used to for people at first. For us as well, our music has gone through a lot of changes not just since we procured all five members but structurally as well. I feel our music has matured enough to start pushing it and getting it out there big time for people to hear and we hope to really start it with this EP.

WVRockscene: Can your fans expect anything like a full-length anytime in the near future?

Alexander Durand: Definitely. After the festival, we have a few shows lined up including a benefit for Monica Watts on September 4th, which is an honor to be a part of. We plan on recording any chance we can. We are not quite sure on the date, but we are hoping to have something early next year.

Jyosh Sanders: We are planning on working more with John Parsons, who withstood our backseat driving on the mixing The Old “P.” I’m very excited about that. It’s almost as if he acted as an interpreter as we sat there together all huddled up in our recording space around the monitors.

WVRockscene: And of course you’re playing the Huntington Music and Arts Fest, how cool is not only being a part of that fest, and what it means to Huntington, but making new fans?

Megan Durand: There’s so much exciting music in town, and in the area, and it’s great that there is this outlet for it. There are a lot of people who stay active in the local music scene, but I think there are also people who don’t realize that there’s such a variety of bands playing here every week. The HMAF exposes more people to that, and it’s really an honor to be one of the bands that benefits from that. It would be great to gain some new fans from it, but mostly I hope we surprise somebody. I would like someone to walk away saying, “I didn’t know this was happening here.”

Alexander Durand: The festival, in my opinion, is the best thing ever. It’s awesome having the opportunity to take part in a local festival. A festival that caters to different musical interests is brilliant and I think it is great that everyone in Huntington can catch a diverse mix of genres. In addition no one is restricted to bedtimes since the festival runs all day. We have a lot planned for next year including a substantial tour of the surrounding states. It would great if people were turned on to Sly Roosevelt at the festival and followed us as we grow.

--- Sly Roosevelt plays at 4:15 Saturday at Ritter Park as part of the Huntington Music and Arts Festival. For more info on HMAF, check out the site, check out the HMAF Facebook page, and check out the related posts and articles below.

Related: Sly Roosevelt ready to rock Shamrock's (Dec. 2009 H-D article) Non-Stop Music (8.25 Herald-Dispatch article on HMAF), Musicians Join For Cause (H-D article on Monica Watts), "This Is A Call" (Dave Mistich post on Ian Thornton & Monica Watts), The WVRockscene Toast of Ian Thornton, "Music For Monica" Facebook Page

video: Chris Harper/Tophu Photo

This is a call: An open letter to everyone who ever cared about music and people in West Virginia


Dear musicians, promoters, music fans, reviewers, journalists--and human beings:

When Nick Harrah asked me to contribute a few kind words about Ian Thornton a few weeks back, I struggled, as most serious writers do, to find the right words to describe him accurately and sufficiently. Not only is Ian a person I consider a friend, but also someone I have deep respect for.

Ian is, to put in terms that are insufficient in their own right, a "class act." To put it simply, the guy busts his ass to do what he can for what he cares passionately about. That is the measure of a man, in my humble opinion.

Of course, that "toast" was to celebrate Ian's contributions to the music scene.

Live music, especially on a local level, is a metaphor for a strong community bond. All of us involved (in whatever facet that may be) have an understanding that we're all working towards a common goal. It's not celebrity, or for some financial gain, but rather to lift up those around us through music.

When I tried to articulate exactly what Ian means to live music in Huntington, I tried my damnedest to keep those ideas in mind. Those words now seem totally insignificant.

As many of you reading this may already know, Ian's girlfriend (and live music champion in her own right), Monica Watts, was seriously injured in a car accident in the early hours of August 11th. Monica has been fighting for her life since.

So let's get to the point to this. There is a point, right? Good Lord, I hope so.

People become fascinated--and sometimes obsessed--with pop music for various reasons, but I'm convinced that it's an underlying understanding that songs, albums, and artists articulate something about living that we couldn't quite say ourselves. Be it mortality, or love, or loss, or hurt, or joy--it's a reflection about what it means to be human.

Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of running sound at Shamrock's for their 3rd Anniversary Party. Ian, who should be expected to be losing his mind in a random corner, took the stage and played Tom Petty's "Yer So Bad," for Monica. He also sang on The Beatles' "Blackbird." It was deeply touching, to say the least. I found myself muttering, "This is what it's all about," in the booth with no one around.

Considering the fact that you're reading this, you're probably a part of a music scene somewhere in West Virginia. While you may not necessarily be active within the Huntington scene, I have little doubt that towns like Shepherdstown, Morgantown, Charleston, and Parkersburg are all closely knit like our's is.

With that in mind, I ask you, on behalf of Monica and Ian and everyone that holds those fine folks near and dear, to do what you can to support not only Ian's festival, but--more importantly--to support Monica's recovery.

Various charities have been established in Monica's name to help offset the cost of her medical bills. Huntington music writer, Dave Lavender had an article published yesterday detailing the ways to help out. The V Club, thanks to the good souls of Patrick Guthrie and Don Duncan, are planning a special benefit show for Monica on Sunday, September 4th. They are accepting donations for prizes to be raffled off at the show--so if you have anything to contribute, please, contact them.

There are ways to help, people, so do what you can. And if your pocketbooks are strapped for cash, your well wishes are certainly appreciated.

With a heavy heart and a whole lot of hope,


Even In His Youth: 20-year old Tyler Childers has the blues


Not even old enough to buy whiskey, or play at some area bars, Tyler Childers brings his bluesy version of Americana to the V Club tonight.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Tyler Childers has the blues. You can hear it in his voice, and in the songs the 20-year old Paintsville, Kentucky native sings.

It’s in the lyrics, in songs about whiskey and women, songs like “If Whiskey Could Talk,” “Hard Times,” “Silence,” and “Bottles and Bibles,” the title of his 13-song debut CD.

Despite not being old enough to even buy whiskey, or get into some bars to play, Childers has been developing a following in Huntington, thanks to his soulful voice and his distinctly Appalachian version of acoustic Americana.

Tyler Childers plays the V Club Saturday night with Sasha Colette & the Magnolias and The David Mayfield Parade.

Childers will play anywhere to make fans and meet new people. He recently played Qdoba Mexican Grill in the Huntington Mall. The crowd loved it, he said.

“It was nice,” Childers said over the phone, drawing out “nice” with an accent and a twang you’ll no doubt find around Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

“It was a smaller place, more intimate, but it was a receptive audience. You meet cool people wherever you play, and I met some cool people there.”

It’s meeting cool people who love his songs that’s helped Childers, now living in Lexington, get more shows, this, in spite of his youth.

“It’s hard to get into bars to play, but I understand it. Everybody and their brother plays music, or thinks they do. But if you own a bar and you’re like, ‘You got to be 21,’ that takes out half of them. That’s that much more people you don’t have to deal with on a daily basis coming in saying ‘Hey you want to check out my demo?’

“And then there’s the whole liability thing; something happens, and here he is, and he’s not 21. It sucks, but I understand it. It’s just, there’s a lot of people out there who aren’t 21 yet and who have real talent.”

Getting his foot in the door at Huntington’s V Club has helped springboard Childers into a busy 2011.

“Getting into the V Club, I just went into one of their open mics one night, and everything I’ve got so far has been through that. That, and [V Club promoter] Don [Duncan] and Ian [Thornton] and them boys telling other people. But, in Lexington, I haven’t had much luck yet.”


Childers said everyone has the blues, in a sense, it’s just that not everyone turns it into songs.

“We’ve all got problems that we go through. I know I’m just 20 years old and people might be like ‘What does he know about the blues? He hasn’t been through anything.’ But I’ve went through my stuff just like everyone else. The thing is to take those emotions and concentrate on them and turn it into a song and make people understand what you’re going through, and believe you, and feel your pain and heartache.”

Hearing Childers voice puts any doubt to rest that he feels “it,” deep down.

“The voice thing is really big, that’s where it’s at for me. I can play guitar well enough, but where I try to bring it home is by the way I sing.”

On the subject of “home,” singing and playing the blues, and uniquely Appalachian accents and voices, Childers, heavily influenced as a youth by Robert Johnson and “Sun” House, said being around the latter influences the former.

“Being from Appalachia, we’re just really lucky to live where we live. The people you meet, and the way they talk, just, everything they say is a song. Our language is so colorful, the way we explain things, and exaggerate things, like a bunch of old men sitting around a barbershop. That’s what really helped out my songwriting, was just listening to people.”

Childers said it should come as no surprise to people that an Eastern Kentucky boy would win so many people over so fast with such talent.

“As far as talent, this area is full of it, everywhere you look. People are raised up singing in church, playing piano, or grow up playing bluegrass.”

And, small world that it is, Childers said it was another Eastern Kentucky singer-songwriter, already known for her own soulful voice, who influenced him as a teen.

“One local influence was Sasha [Colette]. I first saw her when I was 15, and I had just started writing songs, and, I just thought she was the coolest thing on Earth,” he admitted with a laugh.

Having the support and positive feedback from so many people has helped Childers move his songs out into public over the past few years.

“It’s kind of nerve racking sharing songs you wrote in public. You sit around and think about them and write them out. And of course you like it, because you wrote it, but it could be a success or an embarrassing failure. It’s always neat seeing what other people think about your songs.

Knowing that his songs have touched people is what it’s all about for Childers.

“It really means a lot, people like Don [Duncan] and the people who’ve come out to my shows at the V Club. Like, Adam Barraclough, any show he knows that I have in Huntington, he’s been there. Just to have people who follow you, and want to know about your music, that your songs mean something to people and reach them, it means everything to me.”

Tyler Childers, Sasha Colette and the Magnolias, The David Mayfield Parade
Where: The V Club, 741 6th Avenue (304) 781-0680
When: Saturday, August 20, 10 p.m.
Cost: $8 adv., $10 DOS
Info: www.vclublive.com


For Christopher Lusher, It Is What It Is


DIY or die: Christopher Lusher didn’t wait around to have someone else feature artists in Huntington. The 37-year old multimedia artist follows up on June’s Destructive Criticism show with tonight’s show, It Is What It Is, with over 20 area artists.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Christopher Lusher wears his philosophy about life, and art, literally on his sleeve: it is what it is. The 37-year old multimedia artist has the cliché phrase tattooed in cursive on his left forearm, and it also happens to be the name and theme of the art show he’s hosting Friday.

“That’s exactly it, that’s the idea,” Lusher explained over the phone, laughing and describing the obviousness of the title. “Someone asked me the other day ‘What’s the theme for the show?’ And that’s what I told them, ‘There is no theme, hence the title, it is what it is, it’s everything.’ I thought it was a great name for an art show.

It Is What It Is runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Rivers Towers West, and is free to the public.

Heavily influenced by his teenage years as a skateboarder, and after moving from comic book art and drawing as a kid in Proctorville, Ohio, to painting, collages, street photography and more recent mixed media work (all of which are featured on his Hillbilly Magazine tumblr site) Lusher said that a very real do-it-yourself punk attitude infuses his art.

“When I look back on my life and think about what informs me now, and makes me who I am today, it goes back to that aesthetic I got from skateboarding. Doing that, you become so independently minded, because back in the day, you had to have tough skin, not so much now, people would come at you with hammers. So there was always me relating to this outsider mentality and doing things yourself.”

That DIY mentality has helped Lusher corral over 20 area artists for It Is What It Is, the follow-up show to Destructive Criticism, held in June. Lusher said his first show as a curator turned out great.

“It was more of a success than anyone had really bargained for. I think five or six artists sold. The one thing it did was it seemed to inspire a lot of people to start doing stuff. Most artists are usually kind of self-conscious, and a lot of the people who went to the show, who make art, it gave them the impetus to come out of their box and start putting their stuff out there, so it was great.

“Everybody from that last show was so stoked. It was like, ‘Get it of the internet, it’s not a jpeg.’ It’s like ‘Oh my God, that thing is eight feet tall.’ You can see it in person. It’s not the size of a postage stamp on your computer, it’s in your face.”

Huntington needs a place for in your face, outsider art, with a casual atmosphere where artists can show their work, Lusher said. And if you believe that a naked woman equals porn, you might just puke with rage at Friday’s show. Lusher said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t want someone to look at something I’ve done and say ‘Oh that’s not too bad,’ because what they’re saying is, ‘I don’t care for this at all.’ But if someone says ‘This is the worst thing I’ve seen in my life,’ that, to me is the same thing as saying it’s the greatest thing they’ve seen, because they’re having a visceral reaction, on either end of the spectrum. It’s a good thing. Some people can’t handle criticism, but it’s great if you make someone have a really, really potent reaction, positive or negative.”


And don’t worry about monocles falling out of shocked highbrow eye sockets into glasses of sherry and champagne Friday night, Lusher said.

“I don’t want to be at a place with an atmosphere of a dentist’s office, sterile and stodgy, with a bunch of people standing close to each other and whispering. I’m trying to create more an atmosphere of a barbecue; there’s music and beer, and you don’t have to worry about holding your wine glass right.”

Lusher said giving other artists a venue to show their work in public is what it’s all about for him.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “I think it gets to the point with everyone where ‘I’m not going to Marshall, so I’m not going to be in a gallery in Huntington,’ because, let’s face it, I mean, they’ve monopolized everything to the point where there’s nowhere to show anything unless you’re a student. My whole thing was, ‘Who cares?’ I have this space, and we’re going to utilize this space and do our own thing because nobody is going to do it for us.

“A lot of people sit around and say ‘I know I’m talented, but I don’t understand why no one is paying attention to me.’ But if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to show up at your door with a bag of money, if you’re into art thinking you’re going to make money, I got harsh news for you: it isn’t going to happen.

“That’s not why I do it, anyway, I just don’t know how to do anything else.”

It Is What It Is
1102 3rd Avenue, Huntington
Friday, August 12 6-9 p.m.

Update 8.14: To see works featured in It Is What It Is, visit John Drake's Faebook set here.

Hillbilly Magazine on tumblr (not safe for work)

Related: Focus on the Photographers Q&A w/Lusher from June

Video: EyeBOX Productions

Extra! Extra! Outtakes from the Christopher Lusher Herald-Dispatch interview


One of the toughest things when it comes to putting an article together is deciding what to leave out. The interview with Christopher Lusher went so well and so much was said that didn’t make it into today’s Herald-Dispatch article, that we thought it appropriate to post this addendum to the reposted article above...

On putting Destructive Criticism together:
“The first show, the idea was there, it had always been there, it was just a matter of putting it into action. We had had people’s work, say a week before the show. And it got down to the Thursday before the show, and we were still getting people’s stuff. And this was the first time I’d ever done this, put a show together.

“But it was surprisingly easy to do. But I was just asking myself ‘Am I doing this right?’ I guess where it was my first time. That whole show really came together the week leading up to the show. Before that, it was just an idea in my head if not for my girlfriend kind of making sure she had her foot planted firmly in my keister, making sure I was crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s, making sure the show would happen.”

On finding beauty in strange places:
“When I first started selling photographic prints, people would want to buy the same stuff. Like, there’s a really obvious beauty in like, here’s flowers, here’s a sunset, because there’s that really obvious beauty.

“And people were like ‘Oh I want that sunset, I want that sunset, I want that sunset.’ And what that does to me is, it makes me want to go in the opposite direction. It’s too obvious, and it’s too easy. And I just wanted to flip that on its head and do something else.”

Portrait of an artist as a youth:
“I’ve always kind of accredited it -- around 14 or 15 years old -- my mom would go to work in town, and sometimes she’d let me hang out in town while she worked. And I was obsessed with comic books. Not just the stories, but the art. And I’d always drew as a kid.

“When I was a kid, that was all I cared about was drawing, that and becoming Indiana Jones, which obviously hasn’t happened. (laughs) But I started skating at 16 and won a contest and then when I was 17 I cracked my ankle in half at a demo downtown and that put the brakes on my skating. Then I saw a film with Tim Roth playing Vincent Van Gogh. For a while I was a film freak. I was just voracious about it, and that really inspired me to start painting. And starting out it was really structured, portraits and flowers, and then I quit. And after my mother passed, I did a painting about a week after she had passed away, and there was no structure to it, just complete abstract expressionism, and it’s still the style I do to this day, it totally relates to that first painting I did after she passed.

“And that morphed into me getting really into skateboarding -- this will make sense in a second -- um, when I was 18 I started painting. I didn’t start taking pictures until (thinking) about five years ago. I had written for a few websites, I made a short film, I played in a few bands, not a proficient musician by any means.

“When my mother passed in 2003, around that time I had dabbled in music, had been writing a lot, had made a short film. But aside from that the only thing I was doing was running wild and being a mad man and ingesting every substance on the face of the planet. And when she passed it hit me like a ton of bricks and I just thought I needed to get my life together. So I got married because I thought that was what I was supposed to do.

“Well, that ended, and I was working at this liquor store and this guy came in one day, and I had a friend who lived overseas. Well, this guy who I worked with came in with this little digital silver camera. And I asked, ‘Hey can I borrow that?’ And the idea was for me to take a few pictures of where I live, and send them to my friend, and say ‘This is where I live, this is my area.’

“Well what ended up happening was, I had to walk about 20 blocks to and from work every day. And I would take the camera with me and I would start documenting all the things I would see. And my friend was like ‘Dude you can borrow that camera as long as you want.’ And I kind of got obsessed with it, hitting the streets every day taking photos. And I look back on those photos now and I’m not really happy with them, but a lot of people were really encouraging about it, saying you’re really good at this. And it just became a part of what I did every day. There wasn’t any question about it, it was just what I was going to do. And that led me back into painting and collage work.”

On making “goofy little videos” and directions his art is taking:
“My friends would come over and get drunk and I’d film them to make fun of them the next day. It’s just another avenue. Since Destructive Criticism I’ve not necessarily got away from photography, but my thing has always been street photography. And after five years, man, that well has run dry, and I can’t take my camera anymore, because I’ve taken pictures of everything.

“And in a way that’s good, because you can see things in a different way. Since DC I’ve done four paintings. One of them is the biggest I’ve ever done, it’s here in my living room here, it’s fifteen feet. God I can’t tell you how many collages I’ve done, maybe forty. I’ve done a whole bunch of mixed media stuff, just taking images from the internet, and um, and re-appropriating them, I’ve just been having a lot of fun doing that.”

On the internet:
“It’s just a double-edged sword. The most important thing for me about the internet is, my girlfriend lives in another country, in New Zealand, so we’re doing the puddle-jumping thing for a while. Things have become so impersonal, people literally live their lives through social networking. How much of that shit do you need? You have Facebook, you have Twitter, and now you have Google Plus now, what more do you need?

“Nobody talks to each other anymore, this is the longest phone conversation, dude, I’ve probably talked to my girlfriend longer, I’ve had in years. And I’m not saying I’m not guilty of it too. We’ve become so enmeshed in living our lives through Facebook, and texting each other, another way of avoiding conversation.”

On where this kind of art fits in Huntington:
“When you think about your options, its not the kind of show that goes on around here. I was recently invited to a show here, which will be unnamed, and I went to the show, I went into the show, walked in a circle, and went to Rio Grande and drank for three hours.

“I want people to hang out, not head to Applebee’s for three hours.”


David Synn plays This Ain't No Disco tonight at the V Club


The St. Albans-based electronic musician David Synn takes his act and all of his keyboards out to Huntington tonight for a This Ain't No Disco show with DJ Tanner at the V Club. There, he will be welcomed by Brett Fuller (Franklin Fuckin Furnace), who continues to bring an ecclectic mix of artists to Huntington.

Last we heard, Synn was working on Digital Ideations, the follow-up to Frequency of Static, his debut release on Empty Glass Records.

You can make sure Synn's story checks out by revisiting the Gazette article on him from May, pieced together by someone we can only assume to have a lot of friends, and be super cool in general.

David Synn: "Apathy" live @ Shamrock's 6.25.2011


A WVRockscene Special Report: On Roller Derby & The Renfields


This entire post can be summed up thusly: A. I am not necessarily a big fan of roller derby, and 2. I am a huge fan of The Renfields, have been for a long time.

No, I’m not an intolerant sexist pig -- I am the last person to hate on someone for loving skating, and no, I do not expect a medal for liking the band so much, but yes, I would be honored to help run a Renfields fan site if there ever is one.

The Clarksburg-based “Transylvania pogo punk” band has recently seen some publicity come its way in no small part due to their affiliation with roller derby. The band, long a favorite of mine with their love of punk rock and horror movies, was recently briefly featured in the Gazette in an article by Bill Lynch that was short on Renfields, and long on roller derby. And also, The Renfields just had a live version of their new song “Roller Derby Girl” featured on Radio Free Charleston.

Both Lynch and Rudy Panucci do really great work and stay super busy covering acts of all kinds.

But The Renfields are an actual band with actual songs they’ve released on actual CDs that they’ve financed themselves. And they’re about more than playing roller derby shows. Covering The Renfields as an adjunct to a roller derby event is a disservice to both the roller derby teams and the band.

Of course, it’s great that people who cover area goings on will support what has been the local, nascent phenomenon of women’s roller derby. I know that Lynch and Rudy have each recently covered and/or supported roller derby events; Lynch did a really nice feature on the Chemical Valley Roller Girls, with some video that was hosted on the Gazette’s site.

Panucci recently blogged favorably about the Heart of Appalachian Roller Team event on his Pop Cult blog, located on thegazz.com, on a post which quickly dissolved into something approaching a local roller derby conspiracy theory blog, with commenters from the CVRG and HART camps throwing accusations about, albeit in a largely polite manner.

My love of The Renfields dates back basically five years I think, whenever I first heard “Prom Night” on the band’s MySpace site. Since then, I’ve covered the band in Graffiti, the Gazette, and the Herald-Dispatch, and have collected all of their CDs, multiple Renfields t-shirts, have seen the band live a few times and have met the affable, ultra-nice and cool Renfields singer-guitarist Vincent Renfield.

People who know me -- a distinction that will qualify them for the endangered species list -- know that, well, maybe they don’t know this, but, back when I went to shows, due to something like social anxiety disorder, found it quite hard to approach band members I had talked to either online or over the phone. ‘Ohhh, hey I’m that guy you talked to about your band. Let me waste your time in person now.’ Luckily, bars sell a product that helps overcome shyness, but unfortunately, this product (which contains alcohol) has in the past led me to behave in ways that make me glad I didn’t talk to too many people in person in the first place.

Getting to meet Vincent was just awesome. The Renfields made punk rock fun again for me. This may not surprise some readers, but musicians have a tendency to take themselves too seriously, or attach their music to causes that aren’t discussed in the songs. Pretty much 99% of Renfields songs are about horror movies, with samples of the movies in between each song.

I got to witness some rap fans at the Blue Parrot basically attempt to harangue or somehow shout down the band in between songs, basically they wanted the band off the stage. Something inside me made me want to say something to these guys, who I was not more than ten feet from, but I was there to see a band I thoroughly enjoy, not get beat up, and worse, get kicked out of the bar for some stupid reason and have to miss The Renfields.

Talking to Vincent for the aforementioned publications, I got to talk to him about how much he loves slasher flicks and horror films. I heard about him moving the Renfields from a bedroom 4-track project into a full band. The crazy thing about talking to him about his band is, I don’t like scary horror movies at all, really. Knowing that The Renfields are singing songs about horrific murders and killers, almost blows your mind because of how fun, catchy, and raw the songs were.

“Driving through the city with a body in the back -- Machete a Go Go!” Vincent sings on “Machete a Go Go,” on Bastard Sons of Ed Wood, and you will likely be singing right along with him about going out on a Friday night committing random acts of murder.

While there are horror core type bands, rappers, etc., the thing that I always loved about The Renfields is an almost kid-like joy for their music and the movies -- think “Slumber Party Massacre” off Bastard Sons....

This kid looks like I feel when it comes to The Renfields. If he discovered the band at a roller derby, more power to him. Regardless, I think they've made a new fan...

But, since hearing their CDs, Bastard Sons... and The Night THEY Came Home, I have always thought that if The Renfields never played another show or put out another CD, they would forever be on my personal pedestal of all-time favorite punk bands. I mean that.

When I personally transcribed Vincent’s liner notes from Bastard Sons... onto the download page on the WVRockscene bandcamp site, I did it to show Renfields fans how much Vincent loves his band, and horror movies.

Off and on my entire life, I’ve rode skateboards, so I don’t hold it against anyone wanting to have fun skating. Skateboarding for me and so many others is about individuality and creativity and having fun doing it. I know there are great skaters out there who can bust all kinds of tricks on rollerblades and roller skates, but roller derby to me seems like skating’s functional equivalent of a NASCAR race.

I won’t here question the underlying motives of the women who join roller derby teams. I won’t ask how many of them skate for fun in their spare time when nobody is watching, no money is involved, and they’re wearing normal clothing. And yeah it might be cool to knock the hell out of someone riding rollerblades, but I don’t think back in fond reminiscence about how Christian Hosoi knocked Tony Hawk off his board that time in their one-time heated rivalry in vert skating.

And look, if The Renfields want to attach themselves to roller derby, which they apparently have, that’s great. Hopefully they can make new fans at these events. The Renfields have played a few horror movie themed events, and they are set to play The V Club this month for a This Ain’t No Disco showing of Teenage Strangler. If the band makes fans just from horror fans at things like Zombie Walk, that seems logical, and awesome of course.

It just seems weird to think that the publicity The Renfields are receiving piggybacking on roller derby is saying something like:

“If you like roller derby, then you’ll love The Renfields!”

Maybe that’s true, maybe not.

I just don’t want to see one of my favorite bands become something similar to Kenny Powers signing baseballs at Ashley Shaffer BMW. A gimmick. A sideshow, of sorts. Somebody else’s background noise.

If I talked to Vincent today about the band, I’d ask how Dave Cantrell and Bryan Flowers have fit into the band. Think about how much they must love the band driving up to Clarksburg to rehearse. I’d ask Vincent how they have been received at these roller derby events, I’d ask when the follow-up to Stalk and Slash Splatterama Part 2 is/would be coming out, if the band has continued its drift away from the catchy punk rock towards a blacker sound, I would ask Vincent if he has been digging any new horror movies, and I’d ask if they’d written any new songs not about roller derby.

But really the only thing I’d tell Vincent with any authority is how much I still love The Renfields. I’d try to explain how much getting to cover his band has made me more excited about covering bands. That I still have the print version of that Graffiti article, the certificate of re-animation he gave me in 2007 (I was run over with a lawnmower) the pumpkin mask and the Renfields patch and yeah, I may be in some fashion neurotically protective of the band.

I just hope people love the band, their songs, and their CDs, as much as I do.

Renfields GO.

--- Listen to Bastard Sons of Ed Wood in its entirety below and do visit the WVRockscene bandcamp page to hear The Night THEY Came Home...

The Renfields: Bastard Sons of Ed Wood