Byzantine reunites (kind of) in new projects

Former Byzantine members Matt Wolfe and Skip Cromer share the stage this Saturday night at The Empty Glass in Charleston as Wolfe's new band The Scrap Iron Pickers join Cromer's Burt Reynolds Death Metal Experiment to help welcome San Francisco's Chrome/Helios Creed to town.

Since Wolfe and Cromer last shared a stage in Byzantine, they’ve each became proud parents and have moved on with their lives, and, their respective bands. Wolfe works with Byzantine singer-guitarist Chris Ojeda at FedEx in Charleston; Cromer is staying busy in Western Pennsylvania.

“I work two part-time jobs, I go to school full-time, I play in four bands (if you include BRDME) and I’m a dad so I'm pretty booked.” Cromer said. “My fiancĂ©e bought a house in McKeesport and I am currently squatting there till she kicks me out.”

Cromer will make a rare trip to Charleston for the show; the last time we caught him in the form of BRDME was at last year's Adamfest at the Sound Factory.

Wolfe and the aforementioned Pickers (longtime Noizbox/Stone Ka-Tet/Ghosts of Now bassist Roadblock and former Noizbox and Freak Tent’s John Sizemore) played their first show a few weeks ago at the Glass.

“We were a bit nervous and perhaps also a bit ill-prepared, but overall it went really well,” Wolfe admitted. Wolfe said that like so many others, the Scrap Iron Pickers were formed out of friendship.

“Johnny, Roadblock and I have known each other for a long time, and we’ve always been friends. So, about six months ago Block and I were talking about putting something together at just about the time of Johnny’s exit from Freak Tent. We thought that would be a great lineup for what we were trying to do, which is something completely out of the norm.”

Wolfe noted his enthusiasm for being in the young new band. “I embrace change in this case. This is a totally different type of animal and I think it's great!”

Cromer admitted to producing two brand new BRDME tunes in the smelting process that is known to produce his version of death metal.

“The first new jam is called “Two Girls One Cup.” If you don't know what that’s all about then do a search on the internet for it," Cromer said. "The other new song I will be playing at the Glass is called “Achy Breaky Parenting” and it’s about how Billy Ray Cyrus exploits his kid for money.”

Cromer also talked about other bands and projects he’s involved with.

“I currently play bass in an extreme metal band called A Moment of Clarity, I play lead guitar and vocals on my newest project that currently doesn’t have a name, its cool though, very Pink Floyd meets good prog. Also an old band I was in when I was in high school got back together. It’s like a horror rock kind of thing called Attic Unknown.”

Rumors of a possible Byzantine vinyl effort of past tunes necessitated the asking of the perfunctory “Is Byzantine dead forever?” question, with surprisingly awesome results this time around.

“I think there is a good possibility that you will see us take the stage again at some point,” Wolfe admitted. “Just not anytime real soon.”

Still, half of Byzantine will be onstage at one point Saturday night, and Cromer will have the chance of catching up with Matt and OJ and surely offending someone there -- hopefully with just his music.

“I talk to everyone pretty infrequently,“ Cromer said. “The last guy I saw was OJ and that was last December. I spoke with Tony [Byzantine guitarist Rohrbaugh] the other day actually, he's silly.”


Q&A w/Johnny Mercury (Pt. 2)

Part two of our Q&A with Johnny Mercury is even more rockin' than part one. If you missed that by all means check it out and check out the tunes on his MySpace profile...

WVRS: What influenced your decision to move out west?
JM: Change of pace and more musical opportunities. I originally was moving out to Los Angeles to fulfill a record contract with an indie label and in short, got dropped before I made it to L.A. It boiled down to the label wanting me to pander to the punk and indie rock demographic. I've never liked punk or indie rock and rebelled against it, and it made it hard for us to work together. I won't place all of the blame on them. I was having problems holding a band together in West Virginia and had to scrap an almost finished version of a CD. Some of those songs surfaced on my latest CD, Real Gone Rockin, in some form or another.

WVRS: You self-produced your last record, are you doing the same this time around? When will the new CD be finished?
JM: My ex-wife, Erynn Starr, helped me out quite a bit with aspects of production and mixing on my last CD and I found that to help a lot so I am throwing around the idea of having a co-producer for this upcoming CD. I'm really looking for someone who can double up and co-produce and help engineer. I did both for my last CD and took me longer than it should have.

This new CD is going back to what I started off in and my first and foremost love, country music. Before I picked up a guitar I was going to country, bluegrass and gospel shows and concerts and I have always been part of country and honkytonk bands. I've put it off for some time and I think I was waiting to get this last CD out of my system.

WVRS: If you had to pick one show or moment that was the most rockin' what would it be?
JM: Playing to a full room at CBGB's definitely tops of the list. When I struck out on my own as a singer-guitarist doing my own music, a lot of my friends and the fans of bands I played guitar in literally laughed in my face and said that me and my rockabilly would never go anywhere. So, getting to perform my own music to such an appreciative crowd at such a legendary venue was a big high for me and a big "told ya so" to the naysayers.

WVRS: I guess it's safe to assume that as time passes not too much will change with your sound. What makes rockabilly so appealing to so many rock n' roll fans, of all stripes?
JM: To answer your first question, even though I'm going to be doing more country now I can say my sound won't change as much one would think. Songs over time like "Sad, Cold and Lonely," "Blue Boy," "Since You're Gone" and "You Better Be My Baby" were all written as country songs then "rocked up" -- which in essence is what rockabilly is anyway. These are the songs that fans have come to really enjoy and sing at shows.

So, it won't be a big stretch to enjoy the new songs. The first two songs from my upcoming CD, The Sun's Coming Up, will be "Almost Gone" and "The Darker Side of Midnight" and I hope to have them online within the next month. You can listen to the upcoming songs as well as ones from the current CD at www.myspace. com/johnnymercury.

What makes rockabilly so appealing? Ask 10 people and you're liable to get 10 different answers. I got into rockabilly in the early 90's because it was the most logical choice for me musically and appealed to me because it reminided so much of the high energy music I played in the church. I love country, blues, jazz and gospel, which in various portions make rockabilly.

In the early and mid 90's there was no internet to speak of so for a while I honestly thought I was the only person doing rockabilly. Later on, around 1994/95 I met Jeff Walls (Hillbilly Frankenstein, The Woggles) and Rick Miller (S.C.O.T.S.) through their shows at The Levee and The Empty Glass and they started telling me about other bands that were doing rockabilly across the country. I started meeting a lot of really nice people who shared the same passion for the music as I did and we learned together.

People who like rockabilly music do so because of a many reasons. One, it's a great alternative to commercially programmed radio. When you hear a good rockabilly band it's a great experience and you certainly can't turn on the video channel and watch it!

Rockabilly is guitar driven, and rock & roll music is becoming less skilled on the guitar. If you really want to play rockabilly on the guitar, and not some generic punk power chord hybrid, you really need to know how to play the guitar, plain and simple

Lastly, rockabilly is upbeat and fun, great for toe tapping, butt wiggling and for the dancers, a great trip on the dance floor. Even though there is a high turnover rate within the rockabilly scene, the ones who do hang in there are very passionate about the music and the most loyal fans you'll ever find.


Motown Salutes the '80's @ 123

Man, no venue seems to host more charitable events than 123 Pleasant Street up in Morgantown. And nobody has been more instrumental in putting them together than '85 Flood's Aaron Hawley.

This Friday a ton of cool bands will come together for the annual Habitat For Humanity benefit and fundraiser, saluting bands from the 1980's by playing some of their tunes. It's like VH1 teamed up with WVU's U92 and 123, except this wouldn't happen if not for the bands, and especially Hawley.

"I think this year's [benefit] will rule the school," Hawley said over e-mail. "The idea is the same as the artist-centered tributes, except we're opening this one up to a whole decade."

Hawley's '85 Flood, Billy Matheny & Haley Slagle, Librarians, It's Birds, Thred, Big Right Hand, Russian Tombstones (endorsed by J Marinelli) and a few more bands will converge Friday night for a great cause.

"I've seen the setlist and I anticipate something for everyone at this shindig; for those people who think the 80's is super hip, bands like X, there's something for them. For folks who want to hear Duran Duran and Huey Lewis, there's something for them as well."

We're not sure how Huey Lewis made the cut, or why WVU has to have a conservative newspaper funded by Washington crammed up their ass (thanks David Horowitz), but one thing is for sure, no matter your politics, and that is that no town comes together for a good cause like Magic Town.

"I'm impressed at the way this town's music scene rallies for the cause as well," Hawley said. "Everyone is just psyched to be a part of what a cool scene we have here in Morgantown."


Q&A w/Johnny Mercury (Pt. 1)

We first met Johnny Mercury roughly 10 years ago at The Empty Glass. We'd been dispatched there by a mag from Huntington called Hotface to try to (nervously) interview him and string some words together in a coherent style. We dug his rockabilly style back then, but couldn't predict how much the genre would grow on us over the years.

Well, Mercury moved out West a few years ago, has worked with a lot of cool rockers, put out a self-produced CD, "Real Gone Rockin'" last year, and is set to put out a new one soon. We caught up with him to let area rockers know he's still alive and still rockin'...

WVRS: How is life treating you out there?
JM: Life is going very well and can't complain too much. I've been lucky enough to play music steadily and even though there have been some ups and downs, I have had successes and I feel the best is yet to come! Since living in the Pacific Northwest I've had the pleasure of playing guitar for some of my rockabilly idols like Rudy Grayzell and Sid King and the Five Strings as well as Wanda Jackson, who cut some top rate rock & roll back in the day. My music has been used for indie films, a handful of CD compilations, a television pilot and most recently for a Kroger/Fred Meyer advertising campaign. Best of all, I've done it all on my own terms.

WVRS: I guess you can get a lot of good coffee out there; how cool is Seattle?
JM: Yeah, my taste in coffee has definitely sharpened since living out here. There are a lot of boutique coffee shops, coupled by a Starbucks on every corner (laughs). My favorite place to drink coffee and meet with friends is Verite Coffee in Ballard, which is a suburb of Seattle and where I reside.

How is Seattle? I love Seattle! I lived in Portland, Oregon for over five years and just relocated to Seattle two years ago. The Pacific Northwest has a lot of culture and cosmopolitan appeal without as many trappings as say, Los Angeles. Seattle (as well as Portland) is very liberal compared to the rest of the country and offers a lot to artists who want to carve their own path. Seattle and Portland both produce more independently released CDs per capita than any other city in the country.

WVRS: We got to see you at the Empty Glass, where was your first gig here in WV and where were your favorite places and memories here? Where did you grow up in WV?
JM: Well, I grew up in a little town called Spring Hill which is in Kanawha County outside of Charleston. I started playing music there under of the guidance of Chuck Terry, a fantastic guitar player and singer. He took me under his wing and at 15 years old and after two weeks of playing guitar I starting playing in a gospel group with him and his wife Kathy, who were a singing duo called The Born Again Believers. My two best friends George and John Priestly played bass and drums, respectively.

I can honestly say those early years of riding around in a beat up mustard yellow van with red sticker letters on the side are the best memories I have playing music. We played almost every Friday, Saturday and one to two times on Sunday playing churches, revivals and homecomings, primarily of Pentecostal and Apostolic denominations. We played all over Southern West Virginia and never really made any money. If we were lucky to get some gas money and there was something left over, we could get a can of RC cola and a Little Debbie Fudge round. I'm serious.

The reason why this is so special it because it was playing music without thought of marketability, trends, scenes and being cool. I later moved on to play lead guitar with a very successful gospel quartet called the Goodwin Family which was bigger in sense of accomplishment but those early years will always be the most special to me because Chuck taught me how to play the guitar, sing and most important, how to read musicians on the stage and lead a band.

The first show that I played under "Johnny Mercury" was at the Empty Glass and must say is hands down the best live music venue I've had the pleasure of being a regular performer at. I mean, how can you beat the atmosphere and vibe? I've met musicians over the years who cite the Empty Glass as their favorite venue as well.

The best memory at the Glass would be opening up for Hasil Adkins when he recorded a live CD back in the late 90's. I had actually played on the same bill with him when I was 17 years old at a festival in Belle, WV (I think) where he was escorted off stage for being drunk and screaming obscenities into the mic. It was the first time I heard him and had no idea what he had contributed to the rockabilly/psychobilly genre.

-- In part two of the Q&A, Mercury talks about why he left West Virginia, the new CD, and the power and appeal of rockabilly.


LOCAL REPORT: Entropy Returns

Entropy rocks Wheeling Saturday night

The day after seeing a local metal show in Wheeling, sitting around eating candy corn and watching the Steelers/Browns game on TV. Trying to decide how to start off telling you interweb people who DIDN'T make it, and/or couldn't make it out to catch one hell of a show. I think the best way to start is with a history lesson (hope ya'll liked history in high school cause Professor Jay is about to conduct class).

First off I'd like to state that I've been going to local Wheeling shows since sometime in 1994 or 1995, so the better part of my adolescence and all of adult life, and it takes a LOT to impress me anymore. Also I'm a musician, so I can be over critical most of the time and over opinionated about my musical taste. That taste is ALSO very eclectic, it ranges from Johnny Cash to Deicide, and Journey to southern Bluegrass, and from Parliament Funkadelic to Bad Religion etc., etc.

The Wheeling area music scene goes through its ups and downs, much as I'd imagine most other area music scenes do. At this point, Wheeling is experiencing a boom, and that is for sure! (I'm just not looking forward to the eventual decline that all booms encounter). This current boom was witnessed last night by all in attendance at the Wheeling Island Voodoo with local Wheeling talents Disobey and Entropy and some shredders from Beckley, Liquid Filth.

Disobey started the evening off, (well, actually Wheeling itself started the evening off with a firework display for the sternwheel festival down on the river). But anyways, aside from the fireworks outside, there were fireworks inside as well, and I'll get to that now.

As for Disobey's set, I gotta tell you honestly here, I remember seeing these guys awhile back when they first started, and they were ok. Not saying I didn't like them, not at all I liked them rather much actually. Would I have called myself a fan a few months ago? No. These guys are friends of mine, but still I'm impartial, the music just wasn't my thing. After their set last night would I call myself a Disobey fan? Yes!

These guys have definitely matured as a band. It was the first time I've checked them out in a long time, and I had no idea what to expect. I like it when a local act surprises me. Disobey has a style of music that they call Black and Roll, dunno what that means exactly, but whatever it is, it works for them! I think what stood out from their set was a cover of “Breakin' the Law” by Judas Priest. I know what you're thinking, a cover? And it was good? My answer, YES! Go check'em out for yourself and see what I mean.

Next up on stage was a band I had never even heard of before called Liquid Filth. I came to find out they weren't from Wheeling at all, but they had came up from Beckley to play here, so I had to check these guys out. I ended up missing the first half of their first song because the Voodoo was fucking humid and hot as hell, so I had to step outside to cool off and smoke a cig or two between bands.

As I heard the rumble of bass and jugga jugga's and wugga wugga's of the guitars I knew the shit was getting ready to start. I came back in to witness some really great quality music, I'd classify it as a Southern Metal meets Power Groove Metal; kind of like if Clutch, Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Pantera had some strange DNA accident in a medical laboratory involving moonshine and chip-dogs. (if you don't know what a Chip-dog is, you ain't drinking enough beer).

These guys did some great tunes and were cool guys, nothing really bad I can say about the set. Would I call myself a newfound Liquid Filth fan? Probably not. They were good, but in my mind it just didn't click as something I would grab and throw into my iTunes for future listening. But then again, I thought the same thing about Disobey the first couple times I saw them too, so I never judge a band completely until I give them a solid chance. I'd definitely check out another show if they come back to the area.

To round out the evening was Entropy. It's been awhile since these guys have played out, mainly because of line-up changes and the entire reforming of the band actually. These guys were the only band from this night that I would have called myself an active fan of before this show. I'm happy to report that they did NOT disappoint at all. They are honestly one of the few "heavy hitter" bands left in the wheeling area. While their music is rather heavy and furious, when I say "heavy hitter" I am not speaking of their music style, I'm more speaking of how they are one of the most cohesive and talented bands in our little area. They aren't the typical "karate kick" influenced metal that is plaguing our area and others as well. If anything they are doing something different by playing actual "music" -- not many people know that anymore.

Tell ya what kids, go to Wikipedia and look up "music" there. I seriously DOUBT there is even a vague mention about emo combovers and synchronized karate spin kicks in your Chuck Taylor All-Stars...yeah. Hell, they even had some dude come up and blow a fireball from his mouth. Not only is that dangerous, but it's also way more metal that karate, unless you're Chuck Norris, and you sir, you are NOT Chuck Norris.

Entropy IS the metal version of Chuck Norris though. They definitely delivered everything they were supposed to, despite the fact that the night was drawing to a close and most people were tired and hot as fuck by the end of the evening, they persevered and gave one hell of return show! So do yourself a favor and come check out a show if you can make it out.

So if you even wanna check out some good metal, and also some rather off-the-wall drunken banter between songs, come check out a local Wheeling show. I shall quote a wise man (Strong Bad) "you'll come for the Jugga Jugga's,...but you'll STAY for the Wugga Wugga's." To sum everything up, I can describe this show and local wheeling shows in general up in three words, "Wild AND Wonderful!"

-- by Jay (Big Daddy Pork Patty) Littleton, bassist of B.O.R.S.O.

PHOTO: Stephani Hagood


CD REVIEW: Sarasota

Boy, we really dropped the ball on this one. We had heard about the dual CD release show for Sarasota and The Dig-Its back in February, but due to our desire to get The Dig-Its "Know It All" we overlooked one of the best local punk CDs we've ever got our hands on.

Thanks to Dave Cantrell of The Concept, now we know just how hard this Huntington-based four-piece (don't call it pop) punk band rocks. The 10-song CD (nine originals, one cover) is one of the most impressive, musically coherent efforts we've listened to recently.

"All We Know" opens things up with singer-guitarist Mike Schritter "...dreaming of something a little different" than his lonely, depressing hometown. Like most of the songs on the CD, there are sing-along choruses with killer backing vocals; "Where do we go? Does anybody know? Where do we go when this is all we know."

"Boy You Never Learn" is Sarasota's apparent response to their parents' disapproval of punk rock. As Schritter sings in his gutteral, emotive style on the chorus:
"I'm too damn young to care what you think/too damn old to ever change. I hate to say, but the harder you try, the more I stay the same."
"By The Way Side" could have easily been the title for the CD; a narrative of solitude, depression and the hope of finding a new home emerges, with more great lyrics: "Staring up at the sun, from the bottom of the sea. I can't believe the clarity..." and a voice inside "screaming 'somebody throw me a line.'"

"Everything Changes" -- one of the best songs on the CD -- helps turn the corner from nihilism to hope for the future, despite "...picking back up on bad habits," (read: drinking) and a loss of self-control. Schritter sings on the chorus:
"Everything changes, so I'll wait and see. If everything changes in my life, it will be my only guarantee."
The substance abuse theme continues with the aptly titled "Cigarettes and Alcohol" with more great sing-along choruses: "If these walls could speak, they'd lock me up and throw away the key. If these walls could speak, they'd say I finally got what was coming to me."

Probably our favorite song is "Woe Say Canseco" -- not just a word play on a disgraced former MLB slugger -- but the real gem of the CD, it seems. It opens and closes with a Get Smart sample, but in the middle it's cathartic punk rock at its best. As the band waits for "dinosaurs to die out," Schritter is "...ready to say fuck it all and dive head first into the crowd." More awesome lyrics: "I'm better than anyone I know at doing all the things the world hates the most. We're all searching for meaning, how do you describe a feeling? I don't know." The chorus is just one big "WHOAH" so yes, West Virginia, there are whoahs in the CD.

The lovelorn "Kerosene" and the acoustic, introspective "Can't Remember To Forget" round out the CD nicely.

If we'd paid $15 or $20 for this CD at an FYE or something, we'd still be satisfied. There's a NOFX song called "The Desperation's Gone" that comes to mind when hearing this band: the desperation is very much alive in Sarasota's music and lyrics.

If you ever wanted a look at what it means to be in a punk band, like punk rock, or just live around these here parts and do either of the first two, you'll find this CD easily recognizable. Musically and lyrically, Sarasota hits all the right notes on this CD.


LOCAL REPORT: Entropy Then & Now (Pt. 2)

Entropy disbanded for a while after a disappointing run in a "Battle of the Bands" competition, held at Yesterday's Draught House and Stage. They were, by all accounts, the band to beat, and were taken out in the third round.

"When the air leaves the room...you can't force this shit," Wood says about their performance in the final round. Prior to the battle, Williams had left the band because of creative issues, and Corey Roth filled in on guitar to help out with the upcoming battle. Wood says he got frustrated with everything, and then he had to leave for work, so he put everything on hold.

When he came back, Roth wanted to try and form a different band without him playing guitar, but being on vocals, so Hercules, Wood, and Roth tried working on that for a while. But Roth had a lot of projects, and the new one didn't work out. Wood and Hercules began jamming together, and then they started playing Entropy tunes. Fahner lived with Wood, so he would jam with them, and Wood began realizing that what they were slowly crawling towards was re-forming Entropy. Wood spoke to Williams about rejoining the band, and he decided to give it a try.

But this was a new Entropy. Before they broke up, Hercules was having financial problems, Williams wasn't in a good place in his life, and neither was Wood. Now, Hercules has a good job at a local gaming center, Williams is married and expecting his first child, and Wood has a good job and more dedication to the music.

"Even when we started that new project, it was forced. I had a lot of emotion in Entropy, and it felt a lot better to come back to this," explains Wood. "We've been through a lot with this band even though we've only played a handful of shows. It just feels better, I take a lot of personal pride in Entropy. I just want us to be the best we can be and the best we can be is pretty goddamn good."

He knows that Entropy has a lot of good music to make, and demands nothing but the best. "I want the best for me, and what's best for all of us is...I don't want us to suck, I don't want us to be mediocre. If you wanna be lazy, be lazy on Sunday when you don't wanna mow your grass, not when you play your guitar."

When asked about the addition of Jason Fahner (aka "The Kernel") to the band, everyone has positive things to say. Williams says that the shift from going to an all male band has been a positive one, because they are all about the music, and not what they look like on stage. "It's a guy thing," was the easiest way he could explain it.

Wood appreciates the fact that he can have theoretic conversations with Fahner, and he can adapt to changes in a new song or an existing song without much problem. Hercules agreed, saying that Fahner's knowledge of music, music theory, his own instrument, and his ability to adapt has been positive for the writing of new songs, and the tweaking of old ones.

Fahner discovered Entropy in a rather accidental way. "A copy of the three song demo mysteriously appeared on my coffee table one day," he says. "I became hooked on the band out of my personal interest in the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) and death metal. I met Justin when another band I'm still involved with began practicing at the old Compound," which is the nickname for whatever home Wood lives in and the band practices in.

"Every now and then, we'd discuss music theory, Steven Hawking, and listen to some of the most bad-assed tunes imaginable. Ultimately, with the reformation, I was offered the spot to play bass and immediately accepted."

When asked how he feels about being in Entropy, Fahner says that this band has pushed him to play harder, and learn more than in his other projects. "The technicality of the band and the uncompromising attitude has helped me work on my chops a bit, and it's helped out in the other projects I'm involved with. Dan, we're like Rush brothers here, Justin, he's the most crazy, intelligent redneck I've ever met," which is met by a thunderous round of laughter, "John is one of the most awesome people I've ever known." Needless to say, he feels right at home with this band.

Entropy has a show on September 13th at the VooDoo Lounge on Wheeling Island, where they will be re-releasing their CD, Godless Demise, in conjunction with Death Star Records, an independent label operating out of Charleston.

"We never had an official release party, we just rushed and put the CD out." The CD was originally recorded in the Summer of 2007 at Sacred Sound Studio in Martins Ferry, Ohio. It was a five-song EP, and the band managed to have it packaged in less than a week. This time, they will have an official CD release party, and sharing the stage with Beckley's Liquid Filth and Disobey from Wheeling. Fahner is a bassist in both Disobey and Entropy, so he will be pulling double duty that evening.

The re-release will be the "Godless Demise" CD, and the original 3-song demo, remastered by Sacred Sound. Anyone wanting the CD can get them through the band's MySpace page, Hot Rod Tattooing in Martins Ferry, OH, Dyagon Alley in Wheeling, or contact Anthony at Death Star Records MySpace page.

After the interview, Entropy went back to practice, and this time the magic was there. They will be playing a few new tracks not included on the CD at the show, so this is definitely not one you want to miss.

--- by Stephani Hagood


LOCAL REPORT: Weezer tribute & Co-Op benefit show @ 123 9.27

Have we mentioned how cool we think it is when people help us cover areas we can't get to? Yes. And how awesome it is when rockers come together to help a good cause? Of course. Have we mentioned how much we love Weezer? Not on this here blog.

All these things cosmically converge here because The Demon Beat played the 9.27 Weezer tribute Mountain People's Market Co-op benefit @ 123 Pleasant St. in Morgantown. Demon Beat member & rockscene friend Tucker Riggleman filed this dispatch for us to clue us in onto what went down up there...

"Here's the lowdown on the Weezer show. I can't say much, considering a lot of the bands were "all-star" type bands compiled for the show, but it was a fucking blast.

123 was literally sold-out. They had to turn people away. That is insane!

Personally, I can say that getting to play songs by a band that is so influential to us on stage to a sold-out crowd was completely intoxicating. It is really hard to describe.

It's also hard to describe how truly great every band was. Everyone really put a lot into this and it showed. It was incredible to witness first hand this kind of musical unity taking place in West Virginia all towards a common cause. I don't know the exact figures, but I'm sure the Mountain Co-op raised a great deal that night.

We even got the show listed on the official Weezer website to help promote it ahead of time, which was super cool to say the least."


LOCAL REPORT: D2 @ The Rock-It Club 9/5

We really dig it when cool people help us cover areas and bands we may miss. After getting an e-mail from this guy "D2" near Bluefield, asking us why we don't cover the Bluefield area, we thought Friday's punk show @ The Rock-It Club featuring our friends in The Concept was a good chance to expand the coverage, so to say.

David Webb, as he is also called, also writes for this new zine called Attack!, and they were there too. Here's his dispatch from Friday's show...

The Rock-It Club is my hometown bar. When I want to hear or play music, that’s where I go first. It’s located a quarter mile off Hwy 460 on Rt. 19 and it hosts the best live punk, metal, and rock music in West Virginia. This quaint bar always delivers good beer, good times, and a great atmosphere full of interesting people. Friday night was no exception.

The show got off to a late start due to Charleston punk band The Concept running behind schedule. It was actually a blessing in disguise because it gave ATTACK!, a new zine from Beckley, a moment to shine. The publication, whose first issue was released at Friday’s show, focuses on veganism/vegetarianism, punk rock, and politics. Currently it only services the Southern West Virginia area and is only available upon request for little or no fee. If you would like a copy you can e-mail ATTACK! at attackzine@yahoo.com for all the details.

Once The Concept arrived it was a panicked race to set up and get the show started. The crowd was slow to warm up but I attribute this to the fact that we had all been setting there for at least an hour or two wanting to see a show but getting more of the jukebox instead. That tends to offset your enthusiasm a bit. But even with the quick setup and a semi-vegetated crowd they still managed to warm things up and play through an energetic set.

Once patrons began to move around a little more it was time for Pogo to hit the stage. I had never heard of Pogo before last night but I’ll be keeping an eye on them from now on. I’ve actually never heard anything from the Lynchburg, VA area and if that scene is built around bands like Pogo then they’re on a solid track. Vocally it’s not my preferred style but it mixes very well with their old school raw punk sound and brings the whole thing to life.

The third band of the night, The In-Crowd, was making a stop on their “Blood, Sweat, and Beers” tour stretching from their home state of Florida all the way to New York. They played at The Rock-It Club almost a year ago and apparently made a memorable impression because at this point everyone in the bar was at the stage.

Musically The In-Crowd was very tight and played a lively set full of catchy rally songs. They had a familiar sound as far as modern Punk goes but it was idiosyncratic at the same time. It was obvious how they had made such an impression on the locals and why they came back for another show.

The night was winding down but the final band was still to play and they were going to make sure you didn’t wait in vain. Due to the late start it was around 1:30 a.m. before The United Waste went on but they brought the most energy of the night. Blasting into their set they carried on the night with their usual comedic onstage banter mixed with the serious lyrical overtones in their music.

The United Waste was ATTACK!’s first ever band of the month and if you have ever seen them live you would see why. Self-described as “Punk Rock fucking Power Metal while Hardcore tapes it” they never disappoint and tonight was no exception.

As far as “Punk shows” go, this was one that had a little bit for everyone, but that’s how the Rock-It Club usually works. Take this weekend for instance. Friday was Punk driven, Saturday will be a very Metal evening with This Machine and Keep the Victim Warm, both from West Virginia, and Sunday will be a mix of Psychobilly, Rock, Punk, and Metal as The Goddamn Gallows, Born Empty, Cactus’s, and my band, Late Night Zero, take over.

If you ever find yourself looking for a few new good bands or shows to hit up, check out The Rock-It Club, you’ll be digging up goodies for hours!

--- By David "D2" Webb


LOCAL REPORT: Entropy Then & Now (Pt. 1)

Wheeling-based death metal band Entropy (L-R: Jason Fahner, Daniel Hercules, Justin Wood, John "Corpse" Williams) returns to Wheeling Island 9/13. This is the first of a two-part feature by Stephani Hagood, a photographer friend of WVRockscene's from up there...

"S'up with your feet?"

The words caught the air with the humor Justin Wood is known for, but mixed in with a bit of frustration. Entropy had been having a difficult practice session today, and it was evident that something heavy was lingering. They decided to take a break, which gave me the perfect opportunity to sit down and ask them some questions.

Entropy is a four-piece band from Wheeling that began in October, 2006. Justin Wood, Entropy's founding member and lead guitarist, said he started the band because he wanted to put out some music that was better than what he was hearing. He gave out CDs of his music to people, and contacted John "Corpse" Williams (rhythm guitarist), who was already in a band at the time.

Wood then spoke to Corey Roth, a musician from the Wheeling area, who told him to contact Williams. Wood told him "I already did, he's got a band." Hercules had been asking Williams to let him know if any musicians wanted to start a band, and when Wood gave a CD to Williams, he listened to it and passed it onto Hercules. He was sold after hearing the song "Seeking the Abyss" and told Williams he was definitely interested.

Wood had to leave for a while due to work, and when he returned, he, Williams, Daniel Hercules (drums), and Vickie Summers (bass), who was already friends with Williams, began working together. The first song written was "Lie in the Grave" but the first song the band learned was "Might of the Mystic."

Entropy booked their first show in January, before they had learned enough songs for a full set, and by the time the show came around, they had four songs learned, eight songs in total written. "Instead of waiting 'til we were ready, then booking a show, we booked the show and got ready, which works better because if we had waited until we were ready, we never would have played a show." Hercules adds "If you wait until you're on your feet you'll never get there, so you just gotta do it."

Their first show was a success, and with that, more songwriting came. When asked about the songwriting process, Wood says "It's weird, when we all try to write together, it's like fuckin' mayhem!" Laughter ensues as Wood continues, "It is! It's like fuckin' nine ideas, everybody's playing different shit, and we're all trying to fight our idea in louder."

Hercules tells Wood, "When you do it, it's good, when [you and Williams] do it together, it's good," seeming to prefer to stay out of the process until a middle ground is reached.

Wood explains, "I don't work well in a group dynamic, so if anybody wants to write anything together, that's great, but I just can't." Wood's brain seems to work at a speed that slows him down if he has to explain it to anyone else. He prefers to write alone, and then share what he's come up with.

Williams writes a lot of the guitar harmonies, which are prominent in Entropy's music. "Godless Demise was pretty much written over a six pack of Saranac," Williams says. When they are inspired, the music seems to flow.

Asked what inspires them, Williams speaks up first. "Hate!" Jason Fahner, Entropy's new bassist, says "God's love," which inspires Williams to call him a "fucking hippie!" They all laugh again.

Hercules says "For me, when I listen to a band that I really like, it makes me wanna stand up, grab a sword off the wall, and attack fuckin' trees and people and slaughter things, and I know that when we write songs, they make me want to do the same thing, so it inspires me to work harder. When someone listens to what we're playing, I want them to feel the same way I do when I listen to what I like."

How's that for motivation?

Wood says "I just play music I like," which explains a lot. Some of his favorite bands are Amon Amarth, Goatwhore, Arsis, and Cannibal Corpse to name a scant few.

Williams says "Ya have a lot of good things to wake up to everyday, and no matter what you still have your piece of shit job you hate, your shit fuckin' bills you gotta pay, and ya need something to get away from it. Listen to this, mosh around, punch somebody in the face, give 'em a black eye, get it all out!" Music is his release, and he wants to make music that lets everyone else release for a bit, too.

Fahner explains what inspires him is putting out good music. "I just play, like these guys said, good songs to smash things to, songs that inspire me to play, songs that keep me playing, anything that's something I dig. I don't write much, but I play..." Wood interrupts him to tell him that he is a very good bassist, and Fahner seems to shrink from the compliment.

Hercules says that no matter what, he loves to play for a crowd that is into the music, remembering a night at Brewski's in Wheeling where a guy flew through the crowd, past the guitarists into the drum kit and they kept playing. "That's what inspires me too, the people we play for."

By Stephani Hagood

--- In Pt. 2 Hagood talks about the band's dissolution, their reforming, and the second law of thermodynamics...