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...


VIDEO: The Melvins Live @ Hellfest 2011

Since we're so good at stealing other people's videos and sharing them here, and since Hellfest came up in our recent Saint Vitus feature, and since The Melvins play 123 Pleasant Street tomorrow, we thought we'd host The Melvins' set from last year's Hellfest here.

The Melvins bring Tweak Bird to Morgantown to open the show, part of their record breaking "51 states in 51 days" tour. Check out the band's tour diary at spin.com.


Doom metal legends Saint Vitus to play V Club Friday

courtesy photo

Credited as godfathers of doom metal, Saint Vitus (L-R: Scott “Wino” Weinrich, Mark Adams, Henry Vasquez, Dave Chandler) is back with a new record and are embarking on their first headlining U.S. tour in almost twenty years. The band plays the V Club in Huntington Friday.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

When Saint Vitus got started in 1978, they didn’t plan on being progenitors of doom metal. They were just looking to rock out in and around Los Angeles, California, and find a home between the competing camps of metal and punk rock.

But more than thirty years later, Saint Vitus, after a few periods of dormancy, is back with Lillie: F-65, their first record in 17 years, and the band is embarking on its first headlining tour of the U.S. in almost twenty years.

Saint Vitus plays the V Club in Huntington Friday with Weedeater, Sourvein, and Hyatari.

Guitarist and founding member Dave Chandler, speaking over the phone from his adopted home city of New Orleans, recalled the tough early days. Before his band jumped on iconic record label SST or influenced an entire genre, they had to make a name for themselves in and around L.A., and find a place for their music.

“We were always wanting to play our own thing, to play music we liked and that we grew up on,” Chandler recalled matter-of-factly, with a still discernable California stoner-type accent.

“Back then, when we started, it was hair metal,” he said, continuing, “Even before thrash or speed metal, it was the Motley Crue era. Those people didn’t like us because it wasn’t that kind of music, and the punk rockers didn’t like us because we had long hair and we weren’t punk rockers.

“But when we got into the scene, we realized the punk rockers were a lot more real than the metal people. Because most of the punks had to do it themselves, they didn’t have anything handed to them. You had to work your ass off in order to be accepted.

“It took us like two years of that before the punk rockers finally got on our side. And the whole time, the metal people were never on our side. So eventually we started doing only punk shows until we went to Europe in ‘89 and that’s when we started doing metal shows again.”

Twenty years later, Saint Vitus, with singer-guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich back, original bassist Mark Adams and new drummer Henry Vazquez constituting the lineup, played a reunion show at Hellfest in Clisson, France.

The response led directly to Lillie: F-65 and the band’s first U.S. tour in so many years.

Chandler said he thinks Saint Vitus fans old and new will like the new record.

“We’re real proud of it,” he said. “I was a little worried when I was writing it, about capturing the old sound, but also having it be modern enough for new fans to get into it. We think we accomplished that.

“This little thing we did over in Europe, well it wasn’t little, it was like two months” he said with a laugh, “it was very well taken over there. We’re looking forward to seeing how our home people take it when we play it live. So far, from what we’ve heard, this is gonna be a big tour, and a lot of people are talking about it.”

Lillie: F-65 is actually a concept record, Chandler said: some, about his own past drug use (the title actually refers to a barbiturate) and told through the perspective of a fictitious female patient in a psych ward of some sort.

“We’ve never hidden the fact that we like to party. At one time that was my favorite drug, we used to get it all the time. It was really, really enjoyable,” he said with a good laugh. “I don’t think I could handle it now, because the actual drug was a horse tranquilizer; so one of ‘em will make the average human stumble around the room for a few hours, which is what’s great. We’ve never hidden anything like that. We’ve written a lot of songs about drug and alcohol use, and dying inside, clear window pane, stuff like that.

“I just always liked the way Lillie: F-65 sounded,” he said, continuing. “You can get a double entendre out of it: you can literally talk about the drug, or, you can look at the art and say ‘She’s Lillie, female patient number 65 and she got abandoned in the asylum.’ When I was writing it, it kind of wrote itself into the concept of her twisted mind, all f---ed up on weird drugs; not even drugs she partied on, maybe drugs people gave her to help her “condition,” shall we say. And I just kind of twisted it all into the same thing.”

This is indeed an exciting time for Saint Vitus considering the abyss the band stared into when they disbanded in the 90’s.

“I think it was meant to be, it was time,” Chandler said of the dissolution. “In ‘95, we were relatively popular in Europe, and still in America, we were absolutely nothing and we’d been working at it since ‘79 and everything was just crumbling and people weren’t getting along well. It was just the time to stop it. We figured we’d never get back together.”

Chandler said that not only was the hiatus meant to be, it may have made Saint Vitus stronger.

“I wouldn’t go back and change anything. If anything, the time off helped us, because when we got back together any animosity that anybody had was all gone, everybody was happy to be doing it again, and the fans were into it, which gave us a boost too. A lot of people have said it made us into this band that people didn’t think they’d ever get to see ever again, so all of a sudden we were there again, so it added to the cult or mystique or whatever.”

Seeing the passionate fans Saint Vitus had made and the bands they helped influence over the years was a pleasant surprise, Chandler said.

“We had no idea that we influenced all these people until we did this one-off reunion in 2003, and we were like ‘Wow!’ I’d stayed out of touch with music for a long time, and then when I got back into it, I was in a semi-punk band, so I didn’t really know about the doom scene, none of us really did.

“It’s kind of amazing, because when we broke up in ‘95 we thought, ‘Well that’s it.’ We thought nobody cared. But it’s really cool to see after all these years, to see how certain generations have passed it on and kept it alive. It’s inspiring, and it’s why we made the new record. The fans are the reason we did it.”

Saint Vitus, Weedeater, Sourvein, Hyatari
WHEN: Friday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave. (304) 781-0680
COST: $18 adv., $20 DOS
ONLINE: www.vclublive.com


Shared love of vinyl bonds rock duo Farnsworth

photo: Rick Bennett

Farnsworth celebrates the release of its debut EP with an in-store appearance at Budget Tapes and Records Friday evening, followed by a show at The Empty Glass that night.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes a CD cover is a different story. The cover of “I’ll Tell You When I’ve Had Enough,” the debut EP from local rock duo Farnsworth, encapsulates everything Chris Vance and Jason Reese are about: classic rock records and rocking out.

On the cover, Vance and Reese are pictured at their rehearsal spot, Reese at the drum kit and Vance, the singer-guitarist, on the floor amidst a sea of bottles and records from their favorite rock bands: Free, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Grand Funk Railroad, among others.

Talking over the phone from Reese’s apartment, the pair said the cover is wholly indicative of what they’re all about and that their in-store EP release performance at Budget Tapes and Records Friday brings them back to what helped bring them together: the records.

“All of the albums on the cover are big time, huge influences on us,” Reese said.

Both musicians collect vinyl, and Vance said they bonded at the record store before they became a band.

Untitled“What’s funny about having the release show at Budget is that’s where we first started getting together,” he said. “We’d meet at Budget once every couple of weeks, and go through the record bin and talk about bands that we like like Free, Lee Michaels, Deep Purple and Mountain.

“That was that was a big thing for Jason and I getting together; we would just talk albums. And Jason has the best record collection I have ever seen,” Vance said with emphasis and awe.

Fast forward to the present. After starting out with a bassist last year, Farnsworth is now stripped down and back to raw rock and roll roots, Vance said.

“It’s a chemistry thing," he said of his and Reese’s musical bond. “From the first time I played guitar with other people, it’d be just me and a drummer jamming. And it’s funny now that Jason and I are in Farnsworth together, because that’s how I got my start -- just jamming with a drummer. There’s just something really raw and primal about that connection.”

“It’s a little different; it’s freeing,” Reese said of the configuration. “When we had a bassist, I just played in the pocket. I didn’t really branch out or do anything flashy. There’s more sound to fill out.”

Vance said recording the EP with Bud Carroll at Trackside Studios in Barboursville was invaluable.

“Recording with Bud Carroll was an absolute pleasure,” he said. “He’s been a friend of ours for a while. He’s a great musician; not only that: he’s a great guy, and he has a really good ear.”

The singer-guitarist recalled the inexplicable hilarity of meeting Carroll when Farnsworth was still a trio.

“We were rehearsing on Lee Street, and we were playing Free’s “Mister Big,” just jamming out in the dining room, and there’s a picture window that looks out onto the street. We’re playing and I’m going into this solo, I open my eyes, and I’d never met Bud Carroll, Jason had, and there’s Bud Carroll and Sierra Ferrell formerly of 600 lbs. of Sin, and they’re standing right in the living room three feet away from me.

“We finished playing and he introduced himself and we talked music and kept in touch. For us really it was a no-brainer and seemed so natural to use Trackside Studios. Bud is a great engineer, and a great producer.

“When we went into the studio, it was really an experiment because we’d been together for a year, and seven months out of that year, we were a three-piece and we had just changed to a two-piece. So we were like ‘We’ve got these songs we’ve been working on, but let’s try to record this.’”

While citing more contemporary influences and favorites like Buffalo Killers, The Suede Brothers and Shepherdstown’s The Demon Beat, Vance recalled a particularly transformative experience seeing a two-piece rock band as a teen.

“The first band that I ever saw that really got my blood going was a band from Baltimore called Stars of the Dogon. They played the American Legion in Saint Albans. I was like 15 years old, and I couldn’t drive. I remember seeing them come in with guitar amp after guitar amp and a drum kit, and it was just two guys on stage.

“We were like ‘Where’s the bassist?’ And they just put on this show that I’ll never forget. It changed me from then on. It was the most passionate, raw thing I’d ever seen.”

He hopes that Farnsworth will inspire just as much passion in others as Stars of the Dogon did in him.

“We hope to play as much as we can, for whoever, whenever, wherever,” Vance said. “We’re hoping that when we play shows, people feel the same thing that Jason and I do when we listen to these records or see these great bands. We just hope it takes us where we want to go.”

Vance said that as Farnsworth, he and Reese -- two dudes in their mid-20s with an affection for records older than they are -- embody something timeless about rock and roll.

“I’ll say this: first off, us being big vinyl fans, one of the first questions I get, and I imagine Jason gets a lot is, when you talk to people about records, some go ‘They still make those?’

“One of the best things about playing out of state or going to Budget is, there are new vinyl records being pressed every single day by amazing and wonderful bands like The Demon Beat and The Suede Brothers,” Vance continued.

“I don’t know. I feel like people want to say that rock is dead, but it’s out there, and the passion and the lust for pure rock and roll is out there. It never goes away.”

Vance said that he and Reese hope to release a full-length record by this time next year. It’s safe to assume it will probably be on vinyl.

Music scene veteran launches W.Va. Independent Music Festival

Photo: Wendy Bolsom

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Daniel Johnson, longtime drummer for area hardcore band Let The Guilty Hang (and now drummer for Tim Browning and the Widowmakers) decided late last year to put together a music festival in his hometown that featured some of West Virginia’s more notable acts. The result is the West Virginia Independent Music Festival in Logan on Saturday.

The Gazz caught up with Johnson over the phone to talk about everything that goes into organizing and pulling off such a huge endeavor.

Reposted from The Charleston Gazette

GAZZ: A lot of people would love to book their own festival. What’s it like to actually do that?

Daniel Johnson: “The thing for me is I have an unwavering dedication to this scene and have for many years, so I’m lucky enough to be able to call a lot of these guys in these bands my true friends.

“The tough thing is to convince a band like Sasha Colette and the Magnolias to get on the same bill as a band like Bobaflex or vice versa. It’s very rare in today's music scene, be it in West Virginia or anywhere, to find a multi-genre festival.

“These bands are all from completely different genres. There are a couple bands who are close, but a lot of these bands would never share a bill on a typical club gig. Going into it, there were no genre boundaries. I just wanted to book the bands that I was into.”

GAZZ: When did you get the idea to do this?

Johnson: “I helped out with a festival here in Logan called Rocktoberfest for a few years. That was the jumping off point for me to see that I could do this. I said late last year, ‘OK, well, I’ll do my own. I’ll make my own festival.’”

GAZZ: Has being in bands give helped you organize the festival?

Johnson: “It’s essentially the exact same thing as booking a show for one of my bands, except it just grows exponentially. This has taken on a life of its own. There’s stuff you wouldn’t have to deal with in normal day-to-day: food, parking and just the things that come that with having hundreds of people in one place.

“For me, without the experience of being a musician and seeing how the machine works -- dealing with promoters, going to lots of shows -- I don’t think I would’ve been able to do all this. And I’m still learning and figuring it out as I go along. You can’t download a PDF file on how to put on a festival.”

GAZZ: Paste Magazine recently wrote a blog post, “10 West Virginia Bands You Should Listen to Now.” With this festival, are you hoping to accomplish something like that, to expose these acts to a wider audience?

Johnson: “I think it’s cute that Paste put up the little blog that said ‘Top 10 bands in West Virginia you should check out.’ I think there are a hundred bands you should check out. It is the cancer of being a musician in this state -- there is no exposure on a national level.

“It’s sad that location matters, and you’re immediately not even a blip on the radar screen. There are lots of great bands from this state. For my money, American Minor, the Huntington band Bud Carroll from AC30 was in, put out a few of the greatest records I’ve ever heard.

“At the end of the day, it’s just a general blind eye turned on our state. It’s happened for years. Byzantine has made a few of the greatest heavy metal records I’ve ever heard, and they've completely gone under the radar.

“On a national level, they don’t give you breaks, man. I don’t know what to chalk it up to. It’s these mountains, I guess.”

GAZZ: What are your feelings going into the festival?

Johnson: “Since I’m one of the only people involved, I’ve set things so there’s only one person to point fingers at if this fails, so it’s a great amount of stress, but I’ve signed up for it. I am extremely stressed. I am extremely excited. I’m nervous as hell. I’m looking forward to it being over, but dreading it ending. It’s a whole big mess of emotions.

“If I had to bring it down to one statement, I would just say I want people to hear songs that matter as much to them as much as they do to me. And I want them to hear something new that maybe they wouldn’t if they were just a Byzantine fan. Maybe they’ll hear The Demon Beat and say, ‘Holy s--- these guys are great.’

“The goal is for people to walk away with a piece of merch from a local band they’ve never heard of. That’s my goal: that it goes well and people leave having a new band to like.”


VIDEO: "Last Year" by Goodwolf

Goodwolf – Last Year from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Recently named one of ten West Virginia acts to check out ASAP by Paste Magazine, Tyler Grady as Goodwolf just teamed up with Geoff Hoskinson for a whole ‘nother awesome video, this one for “Last Year,” off his Shitty Kids release.

Grady, moving Goodwolf from a mostly solo effort into a full band with what appears to be John R. Miller and Adam Meisterhans, we’ll assume at this point if you’ve been on this blog before you know who they are, but that sounds exciting if that is indeed the case.

You may have also heard the recent Goodwolf set from the Morgantown Sound show. Check that out and look for more video theft and sharing from us in the near future obviously.