Top 10 CDs of 2012

Untitled 10. The Renfields: All the Stuff and GORE

Not only do fans of Team Transylvania’s horror movie-inspired pogo-punk stylings get pretty much every song recorded in this two-disc box set spectacular, there’s enough unreleased material to get this in the top 10.

Songs like “Renfields Go!” “Transylvania Fight Song,” “Ramones Zombie Massacre,” and “Porkchop” will be new favorites. If you’ve lost a copy of The Night THEY Came Home, Bastard Sons of Ed Wood, or the Stalk and Slash Splatterama series, that’s all here.

So, if you’re looking for that special something for that hard-to-buy-for Renfields fan this holiday season, All the Stuff and GORE makes the perfect stocking stuffer. The Renfields may be number ten on this list, but they’re number one in our heart.

Untitled 9. Sly Roosevelt: Animal Tracks

If you fell asleep eating animal crackers watching Matt Taibbi on Bill Moyers, half reading a book on Teddy Roosevelt, and dreamt of a high energy post punk concept record, Animal Tracks may be that record.

The full-length debut from this Huntington-based indie rock outfit may not be some linear journey concept record, but the songs, (e.g. “Lion,” “Wolf,”) lyrics and CD art (awesomely done by Jarrod Schneider) all tie Animal Tracks into a really good record with a vision.

Untitled 8. GoodWolf: Shitty Kids

Sleepwalker singer-guitarist Tyler Grady steps out to record more stuff on this largely solo, mostly melancholy, eight-song post-grunge release.

“Last Year” was the feel good, slacker hit of the summer. “Bikini Girl” and the highly charged, intensely personal middle finger to an ex, “Letter,” stand out. Not sure who the kids are, but whatever the motivation it’s promising to see Grady operating as GoodWolf.

Goodwolf – Last Year from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Untitled 7. John Lancaster: Crash Test in Progress

Following up on 2010’s Phantom Moon, Lancaster continues charting new sonic territory, this time with his live band. “Saigon Moment” channels Lancaster’s inner Dave Grohl. His soulful vocals on the bluesy parts of “Like Castles” actually sound like Huntington’s own Bud Carroll, the song standing out among his solo material for taking this kind of direction.

Most of the material, though, like “The Riot Act,” and “Catacomb Satellite” tie back into or at least jump off from what’s heard on the solo debut, making the six songs found on Crash Test In Progress feel like some sort of expansion pack for the CD. Great material, even for a seasoned, polished hard rock work in progress.

Untitled6. Bud Carroll: At Least I Can Still Smoke In My Car

While you’d be right to imagine the guitar hero and multi-instrumental talent Carroll could knock out a few crunchy grooves in his Trackside Studios in a few hours, this release finds him standing astride his bluesy Southern Souls days (“I’m No Stranger”) now into AC30, still singing soulful songs about his nowhere towns and lost loves.

Standout songs include “There Someday,” “I Just Wanted You To Know,” and “We’ll Be Together Again.” Carroll released this (not surprisingly) stellar 12-song effort in January, and it’s stood out since.

Untitled 5. Bishops (self-titled)

Would you believe that if Demon Beat bassist Tucker Riggleman recruited cohort Adam Meisterhans to shred in his nascent garage rock band with Paul Cogle (Nagato/Vox Populi) that the result would be killer?

Riggleman’s own singing and songwriting efforts pre-date his involvement in The Demon Beat and Prison Book Club, and hearing songs like the opener, “My Own Way,” “Happy,” and “Shit Happens” will likely excite fans of both groups.

How many Demon Beat side projects can there be? Never enough! Talented dudes, each, and it’s Riggleman’s chance to stand out here.

Untitled 4. Spirit Night: One Man Houses

Shepherdstown native Dylan Balliett releases a killer, amped-up sophomore full-length and promptly gets dropped off in NYC by The Demon Beat dudes and sets up residence. Maybe he moved up there, then released it right after. Whatever.

Following up on 2010’s What We Will Be and the Normal EP, Balliett, again joined by drummer Pete Wilmoth (FOX Japan) and Ryan Hizer (Librarians/Good Sport) on bass mostly shed their dreamy lo-fi atmospherics for something approaching high energy 80’s post punk on this nine-song effort.

“Goodbye Jones” and “Summer Clothes” are standout tracks, but it’s Balliett’s version of “Rubberneck” that might take WVRockscene best song of 2012, if there were such an ill-conceived thing. Hopefully there’s more Spirit Night to come out of NYC in 2013.

Untitled 3. The Tom McGees: This Just In

You’ll be fallin’ out, spinning and kicking, and raising your fists to the high-energy, hilarious, totally NSFW ska stylings of this Charleston-based eight-piece “punk party” band.

You’ll come for the driving punk rock, the alternately blaring and swooning horn section, and machine gun snare rolls. You’ll stay for the endearing, jilted love songs Mike Withrow and Adam Dittebrand are singing. Never has cussing out your ex-girlfriend, or, then, telling her you really love her, seemed so fun. Hear “The Choice” and “Half That Bad” for that. Just a killer nine-song debut from these characters.

Untitled 2. Juna: Sing

Like the mountains that surround us, John Morgan’s Appalachian folk symphony manifested as Juna seems at once imposing, maybe these days, cold, but unfolds itself to reveal a warm, stunning, sonic beauty.

That he’s able to create and record the richly arranged songs like “Even” and “Banner” all by himself, makes this 10-song effort all the more impressive.

Fans may expect this kind of sound as Morgan follows up on last year’s release, Hunt. It’s so much more, though, as Morgan provides a snapshot into his own life, the forces that pull, and the ties that bind him, and some of us, here in West Virginia.

Untitled 1. The Demon Beat: Less Is Less

Like the cover itself, with Adam Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman and Jordan Hudkins blended together to form one super-rocker, everything just seems to come together on this, the fourth full-length studio effort from these Shepherdstown-based dudes. Ironically, maybe, given the title of the record, fans of the band could be said to receive more than they expected, even out of these guys.

The amalgamated rocker on the cover sports a flannel maybe as a nod to the fat, fuzzy, feedback-flecked grunge, almost stoner rock sound found on songs like “Bummer Machine,” “Fingers,” and “Bored Forever.” “Teenage Wasteland” and “Wunderwal” rock hard. “Song 2 Part 2” and “I Melted” are more melodic, some might say pretty, rock songs.

Space jams “Off The Wall” and “The Wall” close out the record impressively and more experimentally, as these guys are wont to do. Like the diamonds they sometimes adorn their album art with or get tattooed on their arms, the material on Less Is Less, instead of some huge departure from their previous material, just shines a little differently, reflecting a slightly different angle.


"Skabout" -- The Tom McGees Fight For Their Right to Move Forward in 2013

Photo: Greg McGowan

The Tom McGees (L-R: Bill Hairston, Chris Woodall, Ross Anderson, Michael Withrow, David Scarpelli, Adam Dittebrand, Bob Chapman, John Skaggs, Christopher Itson) get into the Christmas spirit by giving away a few of their favorite covers, and look forward to recording and touring in the new year with bigger guitars, and less tom.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Nobody is breaking any news by stating that ska, specifically, and punk rock in general, is, for some, kind of fun to listen to. And if you asked the guys in The Tom McGees, they’d probably tell you 2012 was equal parts hard work and fun. Maybe more fun.

The Charleston ska band, formed in 2011, hugely influenced by their friends and progenitors in 69 Fingers, released its debut full-length, This Just In, this summer, and enjoyed a show-per-day, two-week tour of the southeast U.S. in October.

The Tom McGees perform at the V Club Friday with Farnsworth and Mad Anthony, and will play The Empty Glass’ Christmas night party with their friends in Dinosaur Burps.

A few members of the eight-piece unit gathered at the McGees’ rehearsal spot down the hall from Charleston’s Cerberus Studios to talk about 2012 and their resolution to rock harder, with a bigger sound, and a smaller name, in 2013.

Born out of the nucleus of longtime friends, singer-guitarist Michael Withrow, and singer Adam Dittebrand, Dittebrand said his collaboration with Withrow is years in the making and almost a likely outgrowth from 69 Fingers.

“I remember Mike -- I was in high school when Mike was in junior high -- he would come to all the 69 Fingers shows, know all the words, and be right up front,” Dittebrand recalled. “We always talked about playing music together, even back then.”

“We’ve known each other since we were little,” Withrow added, casually patrolling the room with Banks, his six-month old chocolate lab and honorary McGee. “Adam, [drummer] Ross [Anderson] and I went to elementary school together.” Each of them at one point were in 69 Fingers.

“And eventually [Withrow] ended up a member of 69 Fingers, too,” Dittebrand said, continuing. “But I hadn’t played music for a long time, and we started playing acoustic shows together, just playing some of the old stuff, and covers we know.

“It was so much fun, we were like ‘Well, we know more people that play music, let’s form a real band.’ And we took some of those songs we’d written and turned them into the ska songs we play now.”

Anderson, who helped his cousin Withrow found the Charleston punk band The Concept, said the McGees are all about fun, friends and rocking out.

“It’s really good, it just works out,” the drummer said. “We have a ton of chemistry, and we all get along really well. It’s like you’re not just playing music with anybody, you’re playing music with your best friends.”

The band’s tour of the southeast back in October was super fun, they said, giving the guys a chance to frolic on the beach and make new fans.

“We played in Brunswick, Georgia, just above Jacksonville, and we’d never played there. There were a ton of people there to see us,” Withrow said. “They had us come back like a month later, and there were a bunch of people there. It’s cool when so many people in other places are that excited to see you.”

“It’s cool to see the reactions, too, from the new fans,” Dittebrand said. “And these are people who never heard your music, or are hearing it for the first time.”

Dittebrand described one instance of the McGees getting love down south.

“When we went back to Brunswick, one of the places we played on the tour, they had us come back and they put us up in a condo, and we were able to take our girlfriends and wives with us. It was awesome; we had a nice big suite.”

“It’s neat to go back to some of these places,” recently recruited bassist Bob Chapman said. “There’s almost like an extended family in some of these places where they look forward to seeing you.”

Withrow said the band made money, sold a lot of merch and saw some sights. Some sights were hilarious, like the drunk guy open mic fail in Marietta, Georgia, some were less funny.

“We played a show in Charlotte, just a huge crowd; a big punk rock show,” Withrow said. “After it was over, there was this huge riot, and this fight in the parking lot where we were loading up.”

“It was kind of like Juggalos, if you’ve ever seen them,” new trombone guy John Skaggs added, describing those involved.

“Yeah, it was crazy,” Withrow added as if in awe of the sight. “Some girl got knocked out by a dude. But every show was great. I would say out of all the tours I’ve done, it was the best structured, we had the best responses, the best shows, we met all kinds of people and had a blast.”

For the holidays, keeping in their tradition of having fun playing covers, the McGees are releasing a few of their favorites, “Walking on Sunshine” and “Country Roads,” as a gift to their fans.

“We played ‘Walking On Sunshine’ a long time ago in 69 Fingers,” Anderson said with a smile. “And we played ‘Country Roads’ in The Concept,” Withrow added, “but we took it and re-wrote it, and made it our version.”

The band has been writing a new EP and will record that soon. Withrow described the direction the band hopes to take with the new material.

“A lot of the new stuff that I’m writing, we want to use two guitarists, to thicken everything up, so I can do a lot of lead work and just make the songs a little better,” he said. “We’re going to try to be going for a different sound.”

With plans to record with friend Greg McGowan of Charleston’s Time & Distance, Withrow said as the band moves forward he and the other guys are taking the McGees a little more seriously than at first. 

“We actually have been approaching it way more seriously. Now, this is what we do,” he said with an almost defiant emphasis. Effective January 1, they’ll just be The McGees, dropping any reference to any specific, maybe awesome, former television news anchor.

For Dittebrand, sharing the fun of their music with friends, fans, and family members young and old, is what it’s all about for him.

“My wife is super supportive of me, and my efforts. The kids are into the band, too. Sometimes they put their fingers in their ears if it’s too loud,” he said laughing hard. “It’s just been amazing to see how far we’ve come from where we were,” he added.

Now, kids just might be down in front at a McGees show, singing along with Withrow and Dittebrand and the rest of the guys.

“There was actually this kid at one show, his mom and dad had brought him, and they loved it,” Withrow said, recalling maybe his favorite moment of the tour.

“So, they got a new dog, and they named the dog McGee.”

The Tom McGees w/Farnsworth, Mad Anthony
WHEN: 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 21
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680 COST: $5
INFO: www.vclublive.com


Q&A w/WMUL's Anastasia Artayet & Brittany Barnes for Cutting Edge Fest


WMUL’s Anastasia Artayet (left) and Brittany Barnes (right) get pumped for tonight’s second annual WMUL Cutting Edge Fest at The V Club in Huntington. They’ll be joined by Deadbeats & Barkers, Coyotes in Boxes, Blue Ring, and mycity.. That’s not an unfinished ellipsis, they have a period at the end of the name, and we decided to end our sentence there.

A silent art auction, with work from MU alum Keelan Shepherd and faculty member Ian Hagarty will be held, with proceeds going to Little Victories no-kill shelter, of which we are a fan, so throw a buncha money at that. Cover charge/donations go to Cabell-Huntington-Wayne animal shelter. AND, you can adopt an animal friend on site tonight!

Deadbeats & Barkers frontman James Barker said that The V Club helping the shelters is awesome, and he and the other musicians performing are here to help.

“The Guthrie’s have always been good about jumping on board something like this when they can see enough local interest,” Barker said. “Local musicians and artists are happy to donate time or work to something like this -- even in a time where they are asked to work for free on almost a daily basis.

“This cause is personal for me seeing as I am an owner of two dogs from the shelter and have always been an advocate of people adopting from shelters.”

We caught up with Artayet and Barnes to learn more about the fest...

WVRockscene: This is the second annual WMUL Cutting Edge Fest right? Were you involved with last year’s show? How did that go and is this one going to be bigger/better this time around?

Brittany Barnes: Yes, this is the second Cutting Edge Fest, and I was involved with it last year as well. It was started by the music director at the time, Jessi Sisson. We created it with hopes of getting our name out to people in the community. We have a wonderful asset for anyone that loves or plays music. You don’t have to be a student to DJ and you get to decide who and what to play. We encourage all music, especially music straight from W.Va.

Last year we wanted to incorporate that and give students something fun to do during dead week, right before finals and the end of semester. The first Cutting Edge Fest in 2011 went phenomenally well. We kept it simple; six bands played at Shamrocks (RIP) and attendance was over 150. This year we are having five bands, a silent art auction, pet adoption, and we’re giving the proceeds to two animal shelters.

Anastasia Artayet: I was involved with the Spring 2012 Cutting Edge Fest at Shoop’s with Sasha Colette, Coyotes in Boxes, and Sly Roosevelt -- this Fall 2012 show is definitely going to be bigger than the Spring 2012 Festival. We have Deadbeats and Barkers, Coyotes in Boxes, Blue Ring, mycity., and Jordan Andrew Jefferson playing this year, as well as a silent art auction featuring Keelan Shepherd and Ian Hagarty. (ed. note: JAJ pulled out due to illness)

What’s really exciting is that the shindig is benefiting the Huntington-Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter and Little Victories; you can even adopt on-site at our event starting at 8:45pm!

rockscene: For those unfamiliar with who you are how far along are you two at Marshall? So.? Jr.? Major?

Barnes: I am a super senior (3rd semester) Radio/TV production and management major at MU. I’ve worked at WMUL previously as a DJ and Training Coordinator, and I was involved with Up Late, Marshall’s late night talk show.

Artayet: I am a rising Senior Spanish major in the College of Liberal Arts. I am the founding member of Sound Exchange Society and the WMUL DJ that covers local music. This is my third semester working with the station.

rockscene: And Anastasia you’re involved with covering area bands with Sound Exchange right? I’d seen Ian Thornton mentioning you on Facebook, telling bands to holler at you to play their music. What do you do with Sound Exchange and what is the relative importance from your perspective like you say on the Facebook page, about putting MU students in touch with these area bands? Who are some of your fave area acts?

Artayet: Sound Exchange Society was an idea that began back in 2010 that hasn’t fully blossomed yet; as of right now, I’m the only member of the society! haha I plan to put the plans in effect starting December 20th in order to get the society up and running for my senior year -- I think it is detrimental for Marshall Student Artists and Musicians, as well as Huntington Artists and Musicians, to have an outlet and established circle of communication to get their work and inspiration viewed by the community. With the art walks every first Thursday in Huntington and the Old Main Corridor project, as well as the numerous local venues for live music, I believe we can make Sound Exchange Society a legacy for getting students involved with our neighbors and bring our neighbors to campus, too. How stellar would it be to have live bands and an art walk overspill from 4th Avenue to Buskirk Field and the Memorial Student Center Plaza? We have the inspiration - let’s make it happen!

The closest I have gotten to this (so far) is the Fall Festival I hosted with Housing and Residence Life’s Commons Hall Council in the Fall 2011, where we had the bands set up in the Ed Grose room of Harless Cafeteria - with local donations from area businesses and the support of campus officials, over 200 students attended! Mind you, this was planned by a friend, Katie Cundiff, and I in a mere 72 hours - imagine what could be done for the area with the right network and amount of planning! As far as local acts, I have profound respect for Sly Roosevelt and AC30; Sly Roosevelt is the reason I joined the scene and AC30’s Ian Thornton is my “pusher” and go-to-guy when the bands are dubious about my intentions, and I seriously love listening to their music when I need a break from the daily grind.

rockscene: What were some of your first awesome experiences seeing a band at say the V Club or just your first experiences being immersed covering local bands?

Barnes: I’m from Hurricane, about 30-40 minutes from downtown Huntington. I used to go to shows at HYAMP before they closed, and that really influenced my interest in local music. Honestly, I can’t remember my first time seeing a band at the V Club, (which may not say much for my moral fiber) but I’ve been quite a few times since. They have done a killer job bringing music to the area.

Artayet: Coming from Moorefield to Huntington (almost 300 miles North-East of Huntington) was mind-blowing musically, to say the least -- seriously, growing up I knew the mainstream crap they played on the airwaves hundreds of miles away, like Backstreet Boys and N-Sync, etc. My first concert was O-Town (I didn't get out much as a child). We didn’t have media outlets where I grew up (other than country stations). I didn't discover The Black Keys, Apples in Stereo, Wilco, and such until I met Sly Roosevelt. Can you imagine!?


So when I first went to the V Club and started networking with local bands, it was like a kid in the candy store; I wanted to attend all the events! It’s so hard to pick and choose what I attend due to my schedule. When I started to DJ with my friend Jerry Smith in the mornings from 6 to 9 in the Fall of 2011, I realized how much I really missed the music scene. My wake-up call was when I was searching through the server for music to play, and I discovered there wasn't a lot of local music on the server and I knew it was meant to be. So in the Spring of 2012, I started contacting people and gathering what I could for the station, and it's been a never-ending beautiful process.

rockscene: Whose idea was it to have Cutting Edge Fest benefit these area shelters?

Artayet: Lauren Ware of the V-Club and Black Sheep Burritos and Brews gave us the idea to make the festival a benefit for the shelters; WMUL approached the V-Club for the festival location and they asked if we wanted to team up for the shelter and we didn't have a doubt about saying yes. The animal shelters need this so badly! If our community would come together for not only this event, but the shelters in future support, we could save the health and lives of our fuzzy friends.

I’m going to get on my Bob Barker soapbox here and remind people to spay and neuter their pets.

rockscene: Just talking with the band members and people at the V Club and people in general, what has the response been like to the show and its charitable function helping animals?

Barnes: The response has been extremely positive. My parents even said they want to come, haha.

Artayet: Everyone is SO excited about this event; there isn’t words to properly describe the response we have gotten; if you really want to know, you are going to have to come experience it yourself!

The Perfect Chaos by Keelan Shepherd
----- rockscene: You’re also involved with showcasing art at the show Saturday, having a silent auction? How is that coming along?

Artayet: We are indeed having an art auction; as my first auction that I’m hosting, we are keeping it quaint for this round -- Keelan Shepherd and Ian Hagarty are confirmed, and ALL other artists are invited to show up the day of!

They can contact me at artayet@live.marshall.edu for more information about the event.

rockscene: Any plans for WMUL or Sound Exchange to be involved in the community like this next year or just plans to do stuff like this in the future?

Barnes: Absolutely. We had a show last spring Anastasia was also involved in, and we want to continue with this. Even though I won’t be the director, I expect you will see a show this spring and 3rd Annual Cutting Edge Fest in December 2013.

Artayet: Sound Exchange Society is planning a much larger event for campus and the community -- I may even begin monthly shows. I recommend following our page on Facebook to stay in the know about upcoming shenanigans, partnerships, shows, and joining the Society to make the connection between campus and the community a reality. I need all the inspiration and manpower people can muster.

rockscene: So many people love their pets, how cool is it to be able to involve WMUL with these bands for such a great cause?

Barnes: It has been really great. Everyone that’s been involved with planning this show has been incredible. I cannot wait to hear great music, see the local art, and of course adorable animals. What can be better than that?

Artayet: This has been an amazing opportunity and we look forward to doing more benefits like this with the community in the near future!

--- The V Club will accept these donated items in lieu of the $10 cover charge:

*dog food
*cat litter
*laundry detergent
*dog leashes
*dog collars

Cover charge and donations will go towards the C-H-W Animal Shelter and money raised from the art auction will go to Little Victories. Please support this most noble cause. Thanks all around to Lauren Ware/The V Club, WMUL (Artayet & Barnes specifically) and the bands performing and the people who care!


Justin Johnson continues Embracing The Eyesore

Longtime readers and/or browsers of WVRockscene will of course remember fondly Justin Johnson's 1318 4th Ave. series from a few years ago. Focusing on the 90's Gumby's/Drop Shop days and the bands that came through, Johnson diligently documented those days, a delight for anyone who was there at some point.

Well, Justin just launched his own blog dedicated to "Embracing The Eyesore" and it's definitely something you should get keen to.

Johnson has been catching readers up on the beginning of Gumby's in 1990 and the bands and has been tying things up catching people up on Chum members John Lancaster and Chris Tackett. It was so great to have him doing "1318" for rockscene and we're stoked to see him kick this thing off.

It's even more fitting that Johnson does this now: Herald-Dispatch reporter and friend of those days Bryan Chambers tweeted recently he's working on a story for this weekend about a construction project that will see the building demolished. (correction: 'twas another eyesore Chambers meant! whew! confirm information!)

VIDEO: J Marinelli “Telephone Teeth” (via Shaker Steps)

The holidays got a little more awesome recently. The Lexington-based video production cats calling themselves Shaker Steps caught up with Morgantown native and WVRockscene hero J Marinelli for a few candid, we understand cold, acoustic renditions of some of our fave songs.

Check out “Telephone Teeth” here, which we obviously stole from the Shaker Steps people to share, and check out Marinelli’s version of “Pomade Years” on the Shaker Steps YouTube page. Kudos to Shaker Steps!

And in other exciting Marinelli news, he’s just re-released Keep It Fake, maybe our favorite record of his (it’s close with PSS) AND, he was interviewed extensively by American Gloam. Marinelli questions you think you’d never get a chance to ask him are in there!


Morgantown rocker puts metal to classic music from Nintendo


Ryan Postlethwait, aka Mega Beardo, performs reworked, heavy-metal versions of music from Nintendo games on -- what else? -- a guitar made from an old Nintendo console. (Ryan Postlethwait photo)

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Anyone eating at Clarksburg’s Washington Square Pizzeria on Oct. 12 had a rather unique dining experience. Adding to the restaurant’s ambience was music by Mega Beardo, the solo “Nintendo nerd metal” project of Morgantown-based singer, guitarist and hardcore gamer Ryan Postlethwait.

Postlethwait, who shared the bill with “folk wave” singer/songwriter Logan Venderlic, said, “We showed up, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, to be quite honest. We walked in, and there wasn’t a PA set up. There was just a bunch of tables and some people sitting, eating pizza.

“I’m like, ‘Man, this isn’t what I was expecting. I’m not sure that these people are gonna dig what I do. I don’t know if they’ll understand it.’ Nothing against them, but I just wasn’t sure that was the kind of crowd that gets into metal versions of old Nintendo songs from 25 years ago,” he said with a laugh.

He made some fans, though.

“I was playing, and people were just going nuts for it,” he said with some surprise. “I started playing one of the songs I did from the ‘Castlevania’ game, and this one guy just went nuts. I ended up selling six CDs, which is a good ratio for the amount of people there.”

Mega Beardo isn’t something you'll see too often in a pizzeria -- or any other venue. There have only been four Mega Beardo shows since 2010.

“I didn’t really fathom going out playing anymore after [2010], until this year,” he said. “I really got the itch to go out and play this live. I really want to do it more because it’s fun and it’s not something people get to see so often.”

Postlethwait has deconstructed music from “Mega Man 2” and “Castlevania” and remade it in brutal, melodic metal fashion. At shows, he plays a guitar made from an old Nintendo console with footage of old games projected on a screen behind him.

Heavily influenced in the late-‘90s by Swedish metal band Meshuggah and more recently by Canadian metal musician Devin Townsend, Postlethwait is working on turning the music from the golden-sheathed Nintendo epic “The Legend of Zelda” into an EP, styled in the “djent” fashion.

Djent, Postlethwait explained, is “essentially just a new breed of progressive metal that has been emerging in the past couple of years. [It] gets traced back to Meshuggah and is just a silly way to describe how their guitars sounded back in the ‘90s, more specifically their extremely tight palm-muting technique.”

Choosing the genre for his project -- called “The Ledjent of Zelda” -- is a bit of a dig at metal fads. Postlethwait, who plans to have the EP out in early 2013, said that, as metal bands caught up to what Meshuggah was doing, it’s gotten slightly derivative and is a source of much derision.

“There’s this weird trickle-down effect, this diluted thing where you can just listen to the new up-and-coming djent bands and tell they’re part of this fad that’s part of the underground metal scene. And it’ll die out soon. I read a lot of metal blogs, and they all make fun of these new djent bands.

“That has me worried, in a way,” he continued. “Probably about a year ago, people -- me included -- started getting sick of the whole djent thing. And when I came up with the idea of ‘Ledjent of Zelda,’ I was like, ‘Man, people are going to see the name of the album and just laugh at it.’

But that might be a good thing, he said.

“I can take this and do it seriously enough to where it’s not a complete parody, but it can be seen as a parody, in that I’m taking music that was made 25 years ago on this little chip that was placed into a plastic cartridge, and modernizing it and showing what it would sound like if some kid in his bedroom wanted to make this stuff as djent music.”

Mega Beardo, Postlethwait said, is all about sharing the music from those games but with his unique spin. “To me, it’s showing appreciation for the music, and since I’m a metal guy and like to have fun, it’s a perfect blend of the two.

“And playing this stuff on a guitar made out of a Nintendo and having the video game footage playing behind me . . . in a weird way, especially for people who don’t know much about Nintendo music, I’m trying to say, ‘Hey man, back in the day, the games that were made had awesome music.’

“I’m just trying to keep it alive.”


Dr. Dog Brings Mountain Stage to Huntington Sunday


Photo: Chris Crisman

Philadelphia-based psych rockers and Anti- Records recording artists Dr. Dog comes to Huntington Sunday to play a Mountain Stage show at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Some people don’t believe in fate. Dr. Dog drummer Eric Slick seems to. How else to explain the circumstances that led to him joining the band?

After approaching maybe his favorite Philadelphia-area indie/psych rock band as a formative nineteen-year old fan years ago, and later being brought on, right as the band released its Anti- Records debut “Shame, Shame” and continued to hit new heights of fame and acclaim, it’s a neat story.

“They were doing an in-store session at Tower Records in Philly, on Broad Street,” Slick recalled over the phone from Philadelphia, on a break after finishing the first leg of Dr. Dog’s Fall tour, describing his first encounter with the guys. “I’d seen them before, the first time was with The Raconteurs in Atlantic City. I’d been a fan of theirs for a while.”

Dr. Dog, loved by fans for their infectious songs and energetic live shows, with a new EP, “Wild Race,” in tow, will play a Mountain Stage show in Huntington Sunday, Nov. 4 at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, as part of the Marshall Artists Series with guests The Mountain Goats, Red Wanting Blue, Nellie McKay, and Spirit Family Reunion.

Tickets are free for full-time students with Marshall I.D., part-time students can receive one ticket half-price. Regular tickets are $25 or $30

“So they played this small record store show, and there weren’t a lot of people there so I felt the need to introduce myself for whatever reason,” Slick recalled, laughing hard. “And about two weeks later I saw them at another show in Philadelphia, and they’re like ‘Hey, you’re that kid from the record store show,’ and we hit it off a little bit. Zach [Miller,] the keyboardist, wrote down my number on a little business card.

“Then, a week after that, I was at Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and I was camping with my friends, and they literally pulled up right next to me,” he said laughing. “So it was kind of like fate that I was supposed to be friends with them because we kept infiltrating in each other’s lives.”

Now, Slick has settled in after being welcomed on in early 2010, after infiltrating the minds of co-front dudes, singer-guitarist Scott McMicken and singer-bassist Toby Leaman, musical cohorts and friends since middle school.

“Before Dr. Dog, I’d been playing in mostly in jazz or progressive rock bands. So I was coming from a much more cerebral place with music,” Slick said.

“Then, conversely, going to a band like Dr. Dog and having to kind of scrap everything I’ve learned and understand a new process? Scott and Toby’s songwriting process, maybe it’s more creative, maybe it’s more traditional, but it’s completely different from any kind of songwriting I had been used to at that point.

“So there was a little bit of a learning curve with that. I had to really get inside their heads and understand where they’re coming from. When we did our first EP together, that was my big hurdle, that was my learning experience. After that, everything just seemed to fall into place. We started to understand each other a lot better as people and as musicians.”

These days, Slick enjoys life in one of the biggest rock bands around. For Slick, 2012 Dr. Dog highlights have included playing Conan O’ Brien, Austin City Limits, and opening for Wilco.

Even though he admitted with a laugh he misses his cat Bill while on the road, on the bus he enjoys yukkin’ it up, watching old Larry Sanders and Mr. Show episodes (“those kinds of more absurd late night shows,” Slick said) and enjoying one late night addiction with the band.

“The guys in the band are into playing the video game Mappy until like, four in the morning,” he said, simultaneously half embarrassed and half impressed. “We have this little multi-game unit with a joystick on it and that’s what the guys like to do. They get really into it, it’s kind of insane.”

The drummer said it’s been great to be a part of, and witness, Dr. Dog’s progression as a band.

“They have a very specific vision, and it’s getting broader and broader,” Slick said of the McMicken-Leaman tandem. “That’s really exciting. I feel like I came in at a really positive and pivotal time for the band, just in terms of growth and how they’re writing songs these days.”

After helping the band record its critically acclaimed, self-produced February release “Be The Void,” Dr. Dog’s sixth studio effort and second release on Epitaph Records’ sister label, Anti-, more than a decade after forming, Dr. Dog is in a good place creatively, Slick said, and the new EP is an example of that.

“People seem to be excited about [“Wild Race”] because those songs came from the same sessions as “Be The Void,” so we were anxious to get those songs out into the world. We recorded about thirty songs for “Be The Void,” so there’s more that we haven’t released.

“But that batch of songs in particular, we were real psyched about, because they seem to have a different flavor than the rest of the record, maybe they’re a little more experimental in nature. Especially “Be The Void,” that’s been kickin’ around since 2004. Scott wrote that song as a poem and he’s been playing it through various incarnations of the band.

“That song has existed for a while, but we found the right accompaniment for it. We’d been thinking about what we could do with that song, and we just approached it as a full band, as you hear it on the record, and we ended up really loving it.”

The process of rocking, creating music, maybe re-working old songs, live and in the studio, and sharing that energy with their fans, is a mutually re-enforcing symbiotic thing, Slick said.

“The live shows are what keeps us going. You learn a lot playing live. Sometimes, we’ll try out a song and it doesn’t work, and sometimes we try them out and they work perfectly. The live process is really like the laboratory.

“It also helps that there’s a few hundred or maybe even a thousand fans that are there, singing along, and helping you out with that experience. It’s only getting more and more interactive, and the fans are only getting more and more excited about what the band is doing.

“Now, we’re at this place where the band is super confident in its live ability. We can really take it anywhere at this point.”



Dr. Dog

w/The Mountain Goats, Red Wanting Blue, Spirit Family Reunion, Nellie McKay

Presented by the Marshall Artists Series.

WHEN: 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4

WHERE: Keith Albee Performing Arts Center, 1021 4th Ave., Huntington

COST: $25 adv., $30 DOS (plus applicable fees)

CONTACT: 304-696-6656 or Marshall Artist Series Box Office 12-5 p.m.

ONLINE: http://www.drdogmusic.com/, http://www.mountainstage.org/


Miniature Giant is big into punk


Charleston punk band Miniature Giant is singer/guitarist Michael Workman, drummer Jeremy Brown and bassist John Ballard. The trio joins forces with city ska band The Tom McGees for a show at the Blue Parrot on Friday. (Photo by Mike Workman.)

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- To borrow from the famous U.S. Supreme Court opinion on pornography, when it comes to punk rock, fans know it when they hear it. And for the guys in Miniature Giant, while defining it is an obtuse exercise, punk rock is definitely something they know.

The Charleston-area punk band formed just over a year ago. It recently released its debut EP, “The Superhero Chronicles.”

The band formed out of the nucleus of singer/guitarist Michael Workman and drummer Jeremy Brown, then added bassist John Ballard, before setting out on its own punk rock journey -- which includes a stop Friday at The Blue Parrot with ska band The Tom McGees.

For Workman, who played in metal bands War Creek Mafia and White Chapel District, starting a punk band was -- and is -- all about freedom and fun. He said he found his passion after his uncle gave him a copy of Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

“From there, I was like ‘THAT! That is exactly what I want to do,’” Workman said. “I started to get into punk rock through that album.”

Ballard, the elder statesman of the band, dates his affection for the genre back 20 years. As an impressionable high school sophomore, he discovered the NOFX album “Ribbed” and was hooked.

Being interviewed on the way to see punk icon Henry Rollins served as a nice jumping-off point to discuss what the band sees as the more redeeming qualities of the genre, which is sometimes perceived as anti-intellectual. Quoting The Minutemen’s D. Boon, Ballard said punk rock is whatever you make it.

“It makes you question things,” he said. “You don’t just get in line and say what everyone else says or do what everyone else does.

“Like Black Flag, for instance, since we’re going to see Rollins. They had a major role in making people question everything. [You’re thinking] ‘This is how I feel. I’m going insane, and nobody’s singing about that.’ And then they come out with something like ‘Nervous Breakdown’ or ‘Fix Me,’ and you’re like ‘Wow! This is how I feel!’”

The guys in Miniature Giant feel pretty good about “The Superhero Chronicles.” Over the course of three 12-hour days at Toronto’s Drive Studios, they worked with renowned producers Steve Rizun and Mike Liorti to further hone their craft.

“Listening to it in the studio was really different,” Workman said of the EP. “Up until that point, we’d only had a little boom-box recording. We just set the recorder up in the band room, hit record, played our songs and stopped when we were done.

“When we were in the studio, we could go back and actually say, ‘Well, let’s change this guitar part up a little bit.’ [We were] able to really work on the songs and craft them, as opposed to just, ‘Let's throw a song together.’”

For the 22-year-old Workman, a lead singer for the first time, it was indeed a learning experience. “Especially with vocal arrangements,” he said. “That’s a little bit of a thing we’ve been working at.”

The best thing about the recording session, he said, was “just being able to work with people who have an ear for it and who do it for a living, who work with people who are where we want to be. Just that environment in general was really informative and eye opening because a lot more goes into it than what people think.”

“They were awesome,” Ballard added.

“They’ve worked with The Flatliners, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Mean Tangerine, a lot of big bands that tour the world,” Workman added with a mixture of pride and awe.

Miniature Giant has been discussing joining Canadian punks The Motorleague, currently touring the United States, for an East Coast tour next summer.

“It’s awesome,” Ballard said. “My last band, when it broke up, I thought, ‘That’s it. That was my last chance.’ I was like, ‘Well, I’m done.’

“Luckily, I wasn’t.”

Miniature Giant
With The Tom McGees, Dinosaur Burps and Beggars Clan
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Blue Parrot, 14 Capitol St,
COST: $5
INFO: 304-342-2583


VIDEO: Henry Rollins’ “Capitalism” tour comes to Charleston 10.23


For those who may have missed it on Facebook, Twitter, lame local music blogs or even in print, Henry Rollins is indeed coming to Charleston Tuesday, October 23, as part of his nationwide “Capitalism” tour.

It’s been neat to see Rollins keep his fans updated, posting videos seemingly daily from his stops along the way. Hopefully Rollins will do something similar on his Charleston stop. Maybe he’ll help blow the lid on this ad we did notice online talking about how Joe Manchin votes to fund radical Islamists.

Tickets, which can be safely and securely snagged at the Brown Paper Tickets event page, are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

If you are on Facebook, and want to either confirm or deny your attendance, and see cool Rollins-related “Capitalism” articles (the best done by Dave Mistich at Pop Matters) and vids, there’s an event page there.  

And no, we will NOT be there talking about how we are more punk rock than Henry Rollins, or telling you who to vote for. Check out Rollins’ dispatches from around the country on the below playlist.


Out of this world: The definitive Rozwell Kid feature

Photo: Pang Tubhirun

Through the looking glass here, people: Rozwell Kid (clockwise from 1 o’ clock: Jordan Hudkins, Andrew LaCara, Sean Hallock, Devin Donnelly, Adam Meisterhans) has morphed from Demon Beat drummer Jordan Hudkins’ solo power-pop/grunge project into a full band with a second record, “Unmacho,” due out soon. The band plays the Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday.

Sometimes, a band comes along that strengthens and/or reaffirms what sometimes can seem like a burnt out love affair with rock and roll. Evoking the best of Weezer and The Rentals in particular, and 90’s power-pop and grunge in general, for some, Rozwell Kid is that band.

You may know him as the drummer for The Demon Beat, but if you haven’t yet, you’ll soon know how Jordan Hudkins has turned admitted dreams of rock operas and Jude Universers into a whole ‘nother badass band.

Chatting at length over email, Hudkins talked about everything from his formative college years, to Simpsons re-runs, and of course, the evolution of Rozwell Kid (himself, Adam Meisterhans: lead guitar; Andrew LaCara: guitar/vox; Devin Donnelly: bass; Sean Hallock: drums) into a full band.

Before asking him about the important stuff, the music, Hudkins was asked about another passion of his: Sheetz.

“I am obsessed with Sheetz,” Hudkins admitted. “They have it all. Gas (at a discount with a My Sheetz Card), great food (made-to-order), the best gas-station coffee, a well-maintained and unique brand identity, the works!”

Hudkins delved deep into his romance with Sheetz.

“Until 2004 when I moved away to college, I’d never been to a Sheetz. But there was one right next to campus, and when you are working for pennies at the student newspaper, two hot dogs for 99¢ is a supreme deal. I ate so many hot dogs in those four years, my diploma was actually rolled up and handed to me in a bun, topped with mustard and onions.

“After school, I moved into a house that was right next to another Sheetz,” Hudkins continued. “Four years later, I’m living in a new house by a new Sheetz. In the last eight years, I have always lived within a mile from a Sheetz. It’s the closest thing I have to Star Trek technology: when I see a Sheetz in another state, I’m instantly transported home, in a sense.”

Rozwell Kid is all about time travel, well, at least that one song, “Ace Ventura Pt. 3,” on The Rozwell Kid LP mentioned it, so he was transported back in time by being asked the tough questions, like: ‘Most people know you as the drummer for The Demon Beat, but when did you pick up a guitar and try to write your own songs?’

“I started playing guitar in 2001, started writing songs in 2004. Initially, I had big ambitions to write some kind of rock-opera. That was dumb. I don’t know what I was thinking. It involved dragons and bounty hunters and time travel.

“Anyway, that’s how I started writing songs. They were all part of this big story arc I had created. I guess it was pretty helpful considering I didn’t have any life experience to really draw from for material. I was young, in college, and scared to write about anything I was really going through. So dragons and time travel gave me something to construct a song around.

“Eventually, I began to heed the advice my mom (and Stephen King, I think? Dean Koontz?) always gave me, which was “write what you know.” So I literally started writing about crazy things I’d seen or felt touring around with The Demon Beat. The first Rozwell Kid record is pretty much a diary of those early touring experiences. I was meeting so many new people, seeing so many new places and learning a lot.

“Oh, and there’s also a song on that record about my Saturn SC1 blowing up. That sucked. That car was awesome. It had a very distinct smell. In fact, I was in another mid-90’s Saturn not too long ago, and it smelled exactly the same. I was having wild flashbacks to my old car. It was so small, but I used to fit my whole drum kit in it and drive to Demon Beat shows. If I would have crashed my car on the way to one of those gigs, it would have sounded like a Keith Moon solo.”

With advice from his mom (or famous writers) and real world experience of touring with The Demon Beat, Hudkins, first as Jude Universer, later just renamed Rozwell Kid, channeled the music he and his bandmates love: 90’s power-pop and grunge.

“We are all big Weezer fans,” Hudkins said of what is maybe the more prominent nod listed when describing Rozwell Kid. “I’m pretty sure we would all consider the Blue Album one of our favorite records of all time. That album and Pinkerton are like crack for the sensitive teenage rocker. So we grew up with that and never really grew out of it.

“I really connect with everything about that early-to-mid 90’s alternative/post-grunge/powerpop/whatever scene. The sounds, the melodies, the aesthetic; I think it’s all really cool.”

Not only does Hudkins and co. (LaCara has the Pinkerton art as his cover pic on Facebook, hear Meisterhans’ first Black Fag CD for Blue Album love maybe) love those old Weezer records, Hudkins also lists Matt Sharp’s grungy Moog-soaked spin-off project The Rentals as a big influence.

“I remember I was listening to some Rentals when I worked at the student newspaper, and I got so pumped up, that kind of pumped up where you feel like you’re gonna jump out of your skin, and I thought to myself, ‘Jordan, dude, this RULES! Just write songs like this.’ So I just try to write whatever makes me feel pumped up like The Rentals did that day.”

Hudkins said the sophomore Rozwell Kid CD, Unmacho, is in the can, with studio help from Dave Klug in Pittsburgh, and help from his friends this time around.

“It was really different from what I’m used to, but it was also really incredible,” Hudkins said of writing and recording as a full band as opposed to The Rozwell Kid LP. “They are great musicians and just downright fun dudes to be around. I am usually a control freak about my stuff, so this was a great exercise in letting go and watching the project take on a shape of its own.

“Everyone brought a little bit of their own style into the recording and that makes for a record that is truly unique. Something I could never have accomplished by myself, and I’m grateful they wanted to be a part of it!”

With help from bassist Devin Donnelly and drummer Sean Hallock, Hudkins said longtime bros (Demon Beat singer-guitarist) Adam Meisterhans and Andrew LaCara (The Resonators) were both instrumental in getting him started rocking out roughly a decade ago.

“He’s one of my best friends in the world, and probably the biggest reason I even play music,” Hudkins said of Meisterhans. “I mean, I learned drums so I could start a band with him. Without his influence, I would probably be crouched in the khaki rack at JCPenny, listening to Punk-O-Rama 6 for the billionth time.

“Adam helped me branch out a little. He’s been really supportive of my songwriting efforts from the very beginning, so to have him shredding like a maniac on my latest jams is truly a blessing. He didn’t stop talking to me the moment I said ‘rock-opera!’”

And LaCara was supportive from the start as well, Hudkins said.

“I met Andrew the same summer I met Adam, nearly ten years ago. We’ve all been inseparable ever since…We all started a band when we got to college, and Andrew was the main songwriter. Then I started bringing a few of my “rock-opera” tunes to the table, and nobody punched me in the stomach, so they are true friends.”

Dreams of rock operas aside, or maybe, continuing to pursue them, Hudkins said having his friends help him realize his dream of fronting a rock band is pretty killer.

“It’s been really fun. It’s weird to write and record a song all by yourself, then hear it for the first time as a full band. Up until that point, I’d only heard one recording, one interpretation of the song. Now all of a sudden, four other people are helping me bring it to life. That’s a great feeling. A feeling that makes me want to punch through walls with joy and swing through the treetops, bathed in the soft, milky moonlight. That’s similar to how I feel when someone tells me they like the songs.”

Asked about the talent and the cool bands and side projects birthed in and around Shepherdstown, Hudkins said there are good bands all over West Virginia.

“There’s a healthy crop of great musicians who just like to play and write and record. It’s like that all over the state. Pockets of cool music, everyone playing in everyone else’s bands.

“I guess it’s like any scene really, except that I almost feel like West Virginia as a state is one unified scene. If someone asks me about great bands from my area, I always end up naming bands in Morgantown and Huntington, too. I live closer to New York than Huntington. If someone wants to know about “my scene” I always tell them about the entire state.”

In advance of playing The Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday, and with a new RK album finished, asked if he was “Born 2 Drum” in The Demon Beat or write rock operas in Rozwell Kid, Hudkins said irregardless nonetheless, he’s living the rock and roll dream as it is.

“I’m pretty sure I was born to eat hummus and watch Simpsons re-runs, but until I can pay rent with Simpsons quotes and hummus-breath, I am gonna sing and drum until nobody wants me around anymore. And it’s always cool when music and friendship merge as one!”

--- Rozwell Kid performs at the Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday with a bunch of other cool bands. If you just got out of jail or have been living in a cave in Eastern Afghanistan and don’t know who’s playing, set times, costs, and other cool shit like merch and fabulous prizes (fabulous prizes not confirmed) swing by the HMAF site


CD Review: "Less is Less"

CD: Less is Less
ARTIST: The Demon Beat

It may be a coincidence, it may be a nod, whatever. It is fitting, though, that the amalgamated image of Adam Meisterhans, Tucker Riggleman and Jordan Hudkins seen on the cover of Less is Less is wearing a flannel shirt.

Because, when filing their new 12-song effort in their own catalogue, file this one under: grunge. Mostly.

After like six years and as many or more releases, The Demon Beat’s own sonic output has, like the cover image itself, kind of blended together as they continue to evoke everything that is killer about rock and roll over the decades.

Less is Less, instead of channeling more of The Who, it’s as if Adam, Tucker and Jordan spent a couple of weeks on the road touring, listening to Bleach or something, got home, and went into the studio. Well, at least for a few songs.

Meisterhans’ guttural, blood-curdling screams, the feedback, the distortion, yes the desperation in his voice and lyrics: all of these have been present in most Demon Beat songs, seemingly more so though on Less is Less.

It’s not some huge divergence from what they’ve been doing, it’s the band continuing to evolve and/or highlight different parts of their own sound.

It may sound crazy to anyone familiar with the band, but this is the kind of record that fans of the band have been expecting or hoping they would make. But it’s even better than that.

All the while Meisterhans, the singer-guitarist, has been honing and steering the band’s sound live and in the studio, he’s continued to sharpen and refine the raw, live rock and roll energy people love about the band. Some bands can’t pull off live what The Demon Beat capture in the studio, totally DIY: these dudes are even more awesome live than on their records, and that’s saying something.

Standout tracks obviously will include the first single, “Teenage Wasteland” and songs like “Fingers,” (grunge) “Song 2, Part 2,” (this one stands out among most all DB songs because of its almost late 80’s-early 90’s college rock radio guitar tones and arrangements?) “I Melted,” (one of our favorites) and “Buzzkillin” are more catchy guitar-rock type deals.

The Demon Beat – Teenage Wasteland from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

The opening song, “I’ve Always Run,” “Bummer Machine,” and “Bored Forever” are examples of the more sludgy, brooding, grunge-oriented material referenced above. Riggleman and Hudkins ably provide the fat crash needed out of the rhythm section.

Most each and every song has killer solos and/or jammed out bridges, as The Demon Beat are wont to do.

The six-minute jam “Off The Wall” helps wind the record up/down before ending Less is Less with “The Wall,” (near sonic space jam type awesomeness) evoking more of the tones and feel of 1956.

You see it all the time with guests on talk shows, promoting a new movie or book, saying their newest effort is their best and most favoritest ever. Mixed and mastered -- with vocals and a few tracks recorded -- by Dave Klug in Pittsburgh, and released via Funny/Not Funny, it’s not hyperbolic to say that about Less is Less.

On the run (a recurrent theme in the lyrics) and/or “off the wall,” it seems like it would be tough to continually top what they’ve done before, but on Less is Less, you could say The Demon Beat does that, and more.

--- The Demon Beat releases “Less is Less” at 123 Pleasant Street Friday night and headlines The Huntington Music and Arts Festival Saturday. Interested in snagging Less is Less on vinyl or good old fashioned CD if you can’t make these shows? Hit up the F/NF page.


NOW they're talking: Good Sport Q&A

Photo: Pat Manzi

Five old friends (L-R: Aaron Crothers, Anthony Fabbricatore, Ryan Hizer, Pete Wilmoth, Dave Klug) bring a new band to 123 Pleasant Street Friday, as Ryan Hizer (Librarians, Big Ass Manatee) takes his (until now) electronic project Good Sport out live...

One of the more exciting developments from 2011 as it relates to covering the “WVRockscene” as it were actually came out of Pittsburgh -- you could say, via Morgantown. Operating as Good Sport, Ryan Hizer released the electro-pop EP And Now We Are Talking.

Fans of his previous bands got excited. But shows failed to materialize though, out of what was essentially a solo effort.

Now, after recruiting longtime friends and Magic Town scene vets Aaron Crothers, Pete Wilmoth, Anthony Fabbricatore and Dave Klug, Hizer and co. have been rehearsing in anticipation of bringing Good Sport to Morgantown Friday for a show with Sleepwalker and The Demon Beat. Since we really liked the EP, and were on speaking terms with a few of these dudes, we thought we’d catch up and simultaneously learn more whilst raising awareness about the music these guys are making...

WVRockscene: How have the full band practices gone? Where have you been rehearsing at? You guys all live in Pittsburgh right?

Ryan Hizer: They’ve gone pretty well. The first one was in the attic of Aaron’s old house, but we didn’t like lugging all our stuff upstairs, so now we’re practicing in a storage facility in Pittsburgh. Everyone lives in Pittsburgh.

Dave Klug: The band practices have been great. The bummer/weird thing is that I had a stroke in May when we were rehearsing for our first show. Obviously we had to cancel. I’m totally back to normal now but it was a strange experience for sure. I have some memory loss of about two months before the stroke. I forget recording the Goodwolf record completely...

Pete Wilmoth: You could draw a cobweb and that would diagram how we met each other and what other bands we’ve played in pretty well -- a common experience in Morgantown, where guys are constantly shuffling the deck and starting up new projects. Aaron has been in Pittsburgh for a while, Dave a bit longer, and the rest of us have been part of a small pilgrimage north to Pittsburgh.

It’s kind of strange; my “new job” is not so new and I’ll be voting as a Pennsylvanian for the first time in a matter of weeks, but I mostly run with the same crew as before. I feel really lucky.

rockscene: For people who may have been casually familiar with Librarians, catch people up with what’s been going on with you since Present Passed -- how long have you been in Pittsburgh? You move there for work?

Hizer: I’ve been here for a little over a year now. I mostly just wanted a change of scenery after doing the same thing in Morgantown for several years, but I didn’t want to go too far from my family, so I just went an hour north.

rockscene: How long have you known these guys and how did the idea of a full-band version of Good Sport get floated?

Hizer: I’ve known Dave for about nine years, I joined his old band (The Minus Tide) with when I was 19. I met Aaron the same year when Librarians opened for The Emergency at one of our first shows, but we didn’t hang out much until a year or two after that. We were in Big Ass Manatee together.

I can’t remember exactly when I met Anthony. Our bands played together when I was 19 or 20, but I don't think we spoke. He was very involved in Morgantown -- he threw great house shows, was a U92 DJ, organized some comps that I was on, and we had a lot of mutual friends, so he and I became friends too. We were both in Nirvana 2 and David Bello and His God Given Right.

Pete came to Morgantown around 2007, I believe. I met him through Andrew Slater, who was in It’s Birds at the time and also played with the Wilmoth brothers in FOX Japan. Pete and I later played together with Dylan Balliett in Spirit Night. I asked these guys if they wanted to help me figure out how to do Good Sport live last December.

Anthony Fabbricatore: Ryan covered it -- I met nearly everyone that matters to me when I was doing basement shows and DJing in Morgantown. As for band-specific stuff, I did Nirvana 2 with Ryan and eighty other dudes for about a summer and a half, and Pete and I were in the original lineup of Russian Tombstones with Dylan, which feels like ancient history at this point.

I guess I volunteered for Good Sport by default back when Ryan was finishing “Pushover” last summer. Ryan and I were driving around listening to some early unmixed versions of the track, and he asked if I had any ideas to fill out the bridge. Well, for over a year, I’d been obsessed with this chopped and screwed remix of a Bun B track, and it wrapped up with this guitar lead that sort of transformed the remix from this ominous trunk/trap beat into just this heavy fucking monumental song.

So anyway I wanted to emulate the same sort of soaring, phased out Peter Gabriel shit, which I believe ended up becoming more of a cornerstone of the project and the band that followed than either of us expected.

Klug: I’ve known Ryan the longest from back when he was in The Minus Tide. I’m pretty sure he was introduced to us through Mikey Iafrate. I’ve been helping Ryan with his projects in any way that I can. I think Ryan is a great musician and songwriter. I really respect his opinions. I know everyone else from playing in great bands in Morgantown.

rockscene: You guys appear to be good friends how long have you guys known each other? How good of friends are you guys, whether it’s making music or going to a baseball game?

Hizer: We’re all really good friends who would probably hang out more often if we had the time. I live with Pete and Anthony, so I see them every day.

Wilmoth: Ryan, Anthony, and I are well into our second lease together, and none of us has ever left a passive-aggressive note on the kitchen counter or anything, so the state of the Good Sport household is strong. That goes for Dave and Aaron, too. The five of us are busy enough that it feels like anytime we’re all free, we try to practice. We honestly don’t get as many opportunities to just hang out together as I would like.

rockscene: What was the response to the EP, from either friends or various press type outlets?

Fabbricatore: This EP was the first “release” from our now-sort-of-on-hiatus digital label Garbage Days. I had a very vague idea of how to promote an album, based on my time as one of the directors of a college radio station and also just being like a sensible person who doesn’t believe in forcing shit in people’s faces.

We didn’t have anything physical to send to people, so with some help from Ryan and others, we just personally emailed a hundred or so major bloggers with a Mediafire link, a PNG of the album cover and the Bandcamp page and crossed our fingers. And then all of a sudden, there were kids in Sweden putting it on their end-of-the-year lists -- I’d never experienced anything like it.

Klug: It seems like so long ago. I feel like it was mostly positive. Most people seemed excited about Ryan making music post-Librarians. I definitely was.

Hizer: It was really good. More people paid attention to it than I anticipated. Lots of foreign blogs covered it, which was really cool. Anthony was a big help getting it out there. Geoff Hoskinson shot a video for one track, which got a lot of views/shares. My friends had nice things to say about it. It was cool.

rockscene: That video for “Pushover,” how much fun was that to make?

Fabbricatore: Yeah that video was a hilarious mess. It was literally Geoff being like “I wanna film you guys doing a bunch of stuff in excruciatingly slow motion.” I remember a bunch of awkward scenes, moves, sketches, whatever that didn’t make it into the video, like one where I put my head through the collar of Ryan’s shirt; someone taking a bite of David Bello’s fresh pizza tattoo; Adam Meisterhans being pulled away on a skateboard. It was a great time and Geoff’s an incredible filmmaker though, so all of our mid-afternoon fucking around in front of a green screen ends up looking pretty rad.

Good Sport – Pushover from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Hizer: I love doing stuff with those guys. The video was a lot of fun because we were winging it. I remember standing in front of a sheet, making some dumb faces, and thinking, “What the hell is this going to be?” But Geoff made it look great.

rockscene: Going back Ryan, pre-Librarians, as a young lad, were there any synth-oriented bands or acts that influenced you to make the kind of music you’d make in Librarians or Good Sport?

Hizer: It’s funny, at work last night someone played the Jock Jams station on Pandora and I realized all that electronic sports warm-up music had an actual influence on me, at least in terms of how beat-driven they are. So there goes a little integrity.

I listened to a ton of hip-hop, which has informed Good Sport to some extent. I remember the first time I realized what a sample was. “Superfreak” came on the radio and I told my mom it sounded like “U Can’t Touch This,” she just laughed at me.

The wishy-washy synth stuff came later. At one point I was really into “Talkie Walkie” and the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides, both by Air. I was listening to a lot of Silver Apples and Can while recording the Good Sport EP, but I’m not sure anyone could hear that.

Aaron Crothers: “So, There Goes a Little Integrity” should be the title of the next EP.

rockscene: Aaron not only did you play in The Emergency, your collaboration with Hizer goes back to Big Ass Manatee right? What were your thoughts first hearing the Good Sport material, and how cool is it to be back in a band with him and these guys?

Crothers: I got to know Ryan playing Emergency/Librarians shows pretty regularly over a few years. Big Ass Manatee was just too much fun not to join when a spot opened pretty early in their existence. We knew from that our work ethic meshed pretty well, but the need to work together really locked in when we were recording and producing the last Emergency record. I had always been the editor in that band, making changes and arrangements, trying to tweak the songs until they were just right. Ryan became my editor and came up with some really amazing ideas, almost all of which made it on to the album.

When he, Tony, and Pete moved here it was pretty inevitable. And Now We Are Talking was a quality way to start the whole thing up again. Dave and I were already getting together in his studio to basically just play around, Pete managed to squeeze this into his schedule of being in 37 bands. It all just fell into place pretty quickly. You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work with.

rockscene: As far as the sound goes, between Librarians and now in Good Sport -- Ryan, you and your friends have definitely crafted a unique sound. Now taking it out live, how special is it to kind of keep Morgantown weird or just have this kind of creative outlet among friends that you don’t see all the time?

Hizer: It’s awesome to have a built-in support system for anything you do. It was really important to me to play our first show in Morgantown with our friends’ bands. Not only because it will be great to see everyone, but because I’m going to be really nervous for our first show. This way, If we suck, we suck in front of our friends, and that’s OK because they’ve seen me suck before.

Crothers: I hear the psychedelic/garage rock quality to the music, but that's what I lean towards in my taste most recently. I’m sure each of us equates it to different influences.

rockscene: Ryan looking back to the time leading up to getting Easy Candy Stranger out how would you compare the feeling you have about Good Sport as a project versus Librarians’ early days?

Hizer: I’m trying to let Good Sport just be what it’s going to be, rather than obsess over details and intentionally guide it in any specific direction. I don’t have the amount of free time I had back then. If I try to slave over this stuff, I’ll never put anything out. I talked to Trey [Curtis] a couple days ago about how we both felt we were taking ourselves too seriously near the end of Librarians. We were still having fun, but all our songs were downers. I’d like to avoid that if I can.

rockscene: Do you consider what you started as Good Sport folding into a full band permanently? For anyone familiar with the EP is there any more inclination to the weirdness found on Bad Harmonies or toward some more straightforward band type thing?

Fabbricatore: That seems like the plan. With a couple exceptions with the older stuff, all of the current arrangements are based on contributions and ideas from everyone in the band, building off of either the EP tracks or new sketches that Ryan brings to practice. I certainly want to keep at it.

Hizer: We’ll definitely record some full-band stuff when it’s appropriate. It all depends on what serves the songs best. I don’t really know where it’s headed. I’ve learned that I almost never succeed when I sit down and go, “OK, I’m going to write a song that sounds like this.” I just plug away and whatever happens, happens. So we’ll see. I definitely want to get everyone more involved in the recording process.

rockscene: Is there any plan to record a Good Sport full-length? More shows?

Hizer: We’ll definitely play more shows. We’ll probably put out a single next. I’m trying to decide if I want to dive into the stress-fest of recording a full-length. A few more EPs might be more manageable.

Fabbricatore: At this rate we’re on pace to finish a whole record by 2018.

rockscene: You guys are ringers and veterans of bands but how much are you looking forward to this show at 123 Friday?

Hizer: I hadn’t been thinking much about it, but now that we’re within a week, I’m extremely excited. More than anything, I’m just looking forward to hanging out with people at a show.

Klug: I’m really looking forward to it. The last time I played out was over a year ago with M Iafrate and the Priesthood. That group is taking a break at the moment for personal reasons. This should technically be our second show. It’s not too soon for stroke jokes.

Wilmoth: We’d definitely like to get a foothold in Pittsburgh and start playing shows there with some regularity. After all, we’re a Pittsburgh band. It’s just a tougher nut to crack, because there’s not one obvious place where all the bands play. In Morgantown, 123 is the no-brainer choice, and that applies tenfold for our first show together. Even though I probably know fewer people there every time I return, that place genuinely feels like home. I’m excited that we’ll be bringing something new to 123 on Friday.

Crothers: I’m just really excited to play my first home game in ages.

Fabbricatore: I realized today that I haven’t played a show in nearly two years. It’s just weird because I’ve been active in bands for over a decade now, and during that whole time I was booking/playing/DJing a show at least once every three or four months. It’s just a part of moving to a new place and leaving a part of your life behind, but there’s no venue I’d rather return to for this show.

--- Good Sport plays 123 Pleasant Street Friday with Sleepwalker and The Demon Beat, who are releasing their new record “Less Is Less” at the show...