VIDEO: Miniature Giant "Kill Yr FriENDs" (official) & "Murder The Government" (NOFX cover)

photo: Megan Green
Miniature Giant (L-R: John Ballard, Michael Workman, KC Shinglebop) have been hanging out, writing songs and playing shows over the summer; things punk bands are wont to do...

Our friends in Charleston-area punk band Miniature Giant have been busy over the summer, which is always good, because staying busy keeps you out of trouble.

Singer-guitarist Michael Workman, bassist John Ballard, and recently added drummer KC Shinglebop have been playing shows, writing new songs (going from "bad" to "tolerable" as they said on their Facebook page) and, making videos.

Below, see the recently released video for "Kill Yr FriENDs," off their 2012 debut EP The Superhero Chronicles...

...and, here they are covering one of our favorite songs from one of our favorite NOFX cassettes (yeah, tapes!) at the Parrot this past weekend...

We'll look forward to running into Workman in/around Quincy, and taking Ballard -- described by an ex-girlfriend as "weird" after she met him at the Glass 7.4 (translates as: "not a loudmouth jerk threatening to fight everyone") -- out for Chinese food sometime soon.

Look for Miniature Giant to be playing shows, not fighting people, and otherwise being super cool punk rockers, in a venue near you.

Oh, and look for stuff here as we attempt to relaunch this thang closer to September!


“No talent busker” releases new music!

We’ve been “out of the office” here for the past few months, much to our dismay. There were print pieces here and there, but the blog has remained dormant.

Until now.

Morgantown native, and now Lexington, Kentucky-based “angry one-man band” J. Marinelli has released a handful of new tunes over the past month.

Right in time to celebrate West Virginia’s birthday, he released his seven-song Sovereign Slates E.P., and Monday, he uploaded his half of a cassette split he did with Lexington’s Ma Turner, including versions of Goodwolf’s “Bikini Girl” and “Filler” by Minor Threat

We’re super pumped anytime Marinelli releases new music. We’re also pumped to be back, covering bands to the best of our ability over the rest of 2013! Get awesome!


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

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Greg McGowan (right) formed Time and Distance as a teen and has kept it going through lineup changes and other challenges for the past decade. (Photo by James Vernon Brown/The Liquid Canvas)

Reposted (and expanded on) from The Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After his band's three-week Southeast tour in March, which included a show at South by Southwest, Time and Distance singer/guitarist Greg McGowan has been enjoying some downtime. On Saturday, he's back onstage in an Empty Glass show with Blue Ring and The Red Lights.

In advance of the gig, he talked to gazz about what it's been like fronting the Charleston pop punk band since its inception more than a decade ago.

Q: How did the South by Southwest tour go, make new friends and fans?

Greg McGowan: It was really great; we had great weather and mostly great shows. Met some awesome people, ate some really great food (haha), made a bunch of friends, walked a TON. I got to see Butch Walker play when we were at SXSW, and he is pretty much my favorite songwriter, so that pretty much made my month/year.

A couple days after we were at SXSW we played at Six Flags in Dallas. I'm not personally much of a roller coaster person, but everyone else had a blast riding all kinds of stuff. We finished off the tour with a super fun show in St. Louis that was I think one of our favorite shows we've played in a really really long time, then we got home and ended up playing an all-ages show at the old putt putt building in South Charleston, which was totally awesome and a great way to end the tour properly.


Q: SXSW is such a huge fest, and there are so many bands and shows - do you feel like a band has a chance to be discovered down there, or is it just the thing of playing for so many people, getting exposure like that?

McGowan: It is absolute madness down there. So many bands, so many people - everyone trying to get somewhere fast. You definitely have to be a little bit inventive to get people's attention when there's so many other people vying for it. We went in with a ton of fliers and CDs and just tried to pass them out to everyone we could get to stop and talk to us.

I think it was great exposure for our band, in that we were able to reach people from all over the country and even the world, but at the same time I think we were kind of the outcasts of what was going on down there in terms of the "buzz" trends or genres. There was a GIANT trend of singers who play a floor-tom, and I don't do that, so I don't think anybody wanted to sign us, haha.

Overall it was a great experience and we are already making plans to go back next year and hit it even harder.


Q: What's been going on with the band since you've been back? Rehearsing? hanging etc.?

McGowan: RELAXING. haha. We recorded our "ON" EP last September, and literally have been going back and forth non-stop between rehearsing and touring ever since. We're finally feeling like we are at a point where we don't have to beat ourselves to death with songs, we're pretty comfortable and confident in them these days, so we've been taking things a little bit easy before everything picks back up this summer/fall, playing a bunch of shows around home and just enjoying life for a minute.

At the same time, we're always working on something -- we are working on a couple of acoustic versions of the EP songs now, we're shooting a couple of different music videos very soon, hoping to have the songs and at least one video out before we hit the road again.


Q: Time and Distance goes back over 10 years or so. Talk about the pre-T&D days; what bands influenced you as a youth to want to be in a band, and what are some of your favorite memories looking back on local shows or bands that may have inspired you?

McGowan: Pre-T&D seems so long ago in my head it's hard to even remember what I did back then, haha. I remember seeing Green Day play on late night TV when I was probably like nine or ten, and just having something in my head kind of click like "that's it! That is what I should be doing!" So I got a guitar and started figuring it out.

As I get older, my parents tell me stories about how I was always banging on things or singing to myself when I was a kid. I think doing the music thing fits nicely with my inability to sit still for too long. My brain runs like 100 miles a minute all the time, I've always gotta be working on or doing or thinking about something.

I remember the first local show I ever went to in Charleston was a battle of the bands thing at Common Grounds. I'm pretty sure 69 Fingers played; I know Shindig and a couple of the other mythical bands of the "old days of Charleston" did.

I thought it was so cool that there was somebody from my town who was willing to open up this dirty old building to give all these bands a place to play, and even cooler that kids from my town came out to watch. It really just reaffirmed my already existing thoughts that that was what I wanted to be doing. To me at 13, if I could play Common Grounds to 100 kids on a Friday night, that was the biggest thing that could possibly ever happen to me. If you'd told 13-year old me that by the time I was 23 I would have been signed to and split from a record company, played shows with my most of my idols, and gotten to see the entire country with my friends, from the back of a van, I would not have believed you for a second.

There used to be SO MANY great shows in Charleston and Huntington. I could go on for hours about all the great bands I saw first around here -- but most people have never heard of any of em. Some were locals, some where locals from other places that went on to be HUGE BANDS headlining Warped Tour and stuff (I'm looking at you, Thursday) -- we just had this great sense of community, where everyone was a part of something really cool. Then all the venues got shut down, people got older and had families and jobs and and it kind of faded. I don't ever want to be that dude who makes myself sound old by talking about the "olden days" but I think that a lot of kids coming up today just don't get it, and it's not their fault -- they just didn't grow up with that same sense of community within a scene that I did.

"Scene" never used to be a dirty word, but now it's like, a total insult. At the same time, we've started to have some all-ages shows popping up again, and I'm finally seeing younger bands out playing shows again, so I think it might be coming back a little bit. There is still hope.


Q: So many bands come and go over just a few years, much less a decade. Of course there are the fun times, but how much work has gone into you keeping the band going over the years?

McGowan: It's so hard sometimes. I think I'm just too crazy to quit trying. But it's just life, unfortunately. When you live in a van with three or four other people for a couple of years, everybody's little quirks and things come to be very much known to everybody.

Sometimes people just change and don't want to be pseudo-homeless for over half the year. Some people meet people and want to have real relationships or families, which are super hard things to do in a tiny touring band. I've kind of run the gamut from playing with people I grew up with, to people I didn't really know at all outside of the band, and then now kind of back to playing with my best friends.

The four of us are super tight and we'll hang out even when there's nothing band related going on. Obviously we all fight and get annoyed by each other sometimes still, but it just comes with the territory. We are all able to see the bigger picture of how fortunate we are to be able to do what we're doing, and I think when everyone is on the same page like that, it's a bit easier to keep everything in check.

Everybody involved understands that T&D is my baby, I've been doing it for ten years, but I would not call it MY band. It's all of ours, even if I may be the one who writes a lot of the material or sends the emails or whatever. I think we have a good understanding of how things work well for us, and we kind of just try to stay in that mentality.


Q: From recording to songwriting; over the years how if at all has hashing out material with the dudes in the band changed? This is may be a good point to talk about any strong friendships in the band that make it a fun exercise, and not some big ego thing etc.

McGowan: If it makes any sense, it has changed a ton, and not very much, all at the same time. When I started doing T&D, I was just solo acoustic, so when it eventually became a band we just translated those songs into a band format and that was kind of the way we would write new material as well -- kind of just translating songs that were written acoustically into something that worked with a whole band.

But especially in the last I'd say five years I've gotten way more into doing pretty fleshed out "demos" of new songs at my studio (usually before anyone in my band has actually heard them at all.) The "ON" EP was pretty much written and demoed at the same time over the course of last summer, mostly really late at night all alone with like a bottle of wine or something. That was the first record I've ever written completely that way -- having an idea for a song but not always having any idea how it's going to end up when I start demoing it. Then maybe a day, a week, or three months later, all the parts just sort of come together and even surprise me.

So when we went in to actually record the EP, I had these crazy giant full-on production demos, and we ended up actually taking some small parts (like keyboards and drum loops) straight off of my demos onto the final versions. It was a really cool way to work, but I think the four of us are really excited about trying to get into a room together and create something. We'll jam a lot at practice on riffs or whatever, usually ending up on these ridiculous like 10-minute jam sessions and we've started trying to do it a little bit live to transition songs and stuff.


Q: Over the years you've got to see these platforms like Bandcamp and Indie Go-Go pop up and help give bands their own label. This is not to mention social networking sites. But how cool is it for T&D to be able to use something like Bandcamp as a site to sell music AND make fans by allowing people to hear the songs?

McGowan: I think it's awesome. When I started T&D in 2002, it was literally not possible for me to make a record on my laptop, finish it, and then a day later upload it to the internet, and a week later have it available for sale all over the world, which is pretty much exactly what I did with the "OFF" EP in 2011. I made that record in my bedroom at my parent's house, with my cat staring at me half the time. I put it online with literally no help or advertising budget or anything and it just took on its own life, which completely rules and completely empowered my thinking that I/we can do this all on our own without anybody's help (not that a giant checkbook would HURT…).

With sites like Bandcamp and Indie Go-Go popping up, you're actually cutting out the middleman even further, and putting control into the hands of music listeners to make the things that they are actually interested in a reality. I really feel like this whole system is the future of the music industry. Labels are dying out, budgets for making records are virtually non-existent, and everyone is scrambling because they know the "old model" isn't working anymore, but they have no idea what the "new model" is going to be.

I will tell you this, the whole current trend of things that become popular originating from viral YouTube videos or a television show full of highly-paid celebrity judges deciding what is "good" or "bad" is NOT the new way, and it isn't going to last. Fan-funding, streaming music services (i.e. Spotify, rdio, etc) and the basic principle of music being or seeming "free" is where things are heading. we, with the "ON" EP, decided deliberately to try and embrace this -- we put the record up for "name your own price" download via Bandcamp, really expecting everyone to just enter a "0" and take it for free, but we've been genuinely surprised by the results not being that. Sure, we've had more free downloads than we've had paid ones, BUT I don't think that we would have moved the number of copies of the EP that we have, in the time that we have, if the only way to get it was for $5 on iTunes. Even better, when someone gets our EP for free, and doesn't pay anything for it, it seems like they're more inclined to then pass it on for their friends to check out.

We've been getting a lot of downloads and making a lot of new friends, all through old fashioned word-of-mouth. I think it's a really exciting time, I couldn't have predicted that this is where the music industry would've been five years ago, which has me very excited to see where things are going to be five years from now.


Q: You're in the McGees now too? This can kind of tie back into like, the 69 Fingers days, cool local punk bands. But how long have you known any of those dudes and what's it like stepping in, playing shows, going on tour, recording etc.? Seems like being friends and having fun is what it's all about regardless...?

McGowan: I've known the McGees dudes for years. I met Adam Dittebrand and Chris Woodall in the earlier part of the decade when they were both in 69 Fingers. I knew Mike Withrow from The Concept, and then he played bass in Time and Distance for about three years before he and Adam started the McGees. Then, after the McGees were a band proper, I hung out with all of them all the time, because my studio and their rehearsal space are in the same building.

Late last year I recorded a couple of cover songs for them. We all got along really well in the studio and the songs came out great, so we began talking about me recording their next EP. Over the course of all this, Mike and I had a couple of conversations about me possibly playing guitar with them, then one day randomly I ended up jamming with them while they were trying to put together a new song, and the next thing I knew Mike was teaching me songs three days before I was to play my first show with them.

It's been a blast so far, McGees is absolutely about having fun, and it seems like I'm constantly cracking up at practices and shows. I'm really excited to get the new EP recorded and released because, as just a fan of the first record, I feel like these new songs kind of take the things about the first record that were really cool and the strengths of the band that were already there, and kind of expands on them a little bit more than the first one did.

I think anybody who liked the first record will love the new one, and I think it'll surprise some people who maybe weren't as into the first one. It is pretty funny though, because when I was younger and starting out, 69 Fingers were THE band in Charleston. I remember Adam talking his way into my high school band's shows just by dropping that he was "in 69 Fingers" so it is kind of offhandedly full circle that I'm now in a band playing songs on a stage with him.

"Offhandedly full circle" actually pretty accurately sums up a lot of the things and experiences I've had in my life so far relating to music.


Q: One of the recurring themes in your T&D SXSW tour dispatch was the couch surfing or just meeting up with old friends, flung far and wide in these states across the southeast. Is that what it's all about even after all these years, sharing your music and experiences with your band mates and old friends?

McGowan: Yeah I think you pretty much nailed it. I kind of long ago gave up any "rockstar" aspirations in favor of just being stoked that I'm one of a small number of people who are even fortunate enough to be able to do what I do. I may never make a million dollars, or even be able to pay my bills every month on time, but when I'm 70 I'm gonna have so many cooler stories than anyone else.

It also rules that after doing this for so long I have friends spread all over the country, some of whom I know from West Virginia originally who have moved away, and a TON more that I've met just through touring. It rules to be able to be like "Oh, we're going to xx city, we get to hang out with xx!!" But it also sucks because I have made some of my legitimate best friends on the planet through touring, whether they're people in bands we toured with, or people we met, or stayed, or hung with, and I never get to spend nearly as much time with them as I'd like to.

It's cool sharing the touring experience with the dudes in my band, though; they haven't been doing it as long as I have, so even though I may be bored to death with seeing the same things over and over they always manage to make me see it like it's my first time again.


Q: Looking ahead to 2013 is there anything you guys are particularly looking forward to?

McGowan: This goes completely against my earlier point about how we've been going non-stop since September and are enjoying resting at home, but i am totally stoked to get back on tour. We've not even been home for a month, and we are all dying to get back out. The McGees do a short tour in May, and then Time and Distance leave the end of May for a six-week full-U.S. run with our friends in a band called The Traditional, who are from Buffalo. It's been a while since we've hit the west coast and I'm super pumped to get back out there and see some friends, eat some In-n-Out burger, and visit San Diego, which (no offense Charleston) is my favorite city in the country.

After that, we are going to be doing a Time and Distance/The McGees tour in the fall, which should be insanely fun. Eventually before the end of the year, I'm hoping to sleep some.


Q: This ties back in with the fun, but after 10+ years is it still as fun as it was in the early days? From doing SXSW tour dates to releasing new music how proud are you to have kept the band going all these years?

McGowan: I still love it just as much, if not more, than I ever have. In the years I've been doing this band, and all the years before that, music is the one relationship I can always come back to, no matter how bad I might mess everything up, or how many times I fall on my face in the process of trying.

I love creating music; I love the process of hearing a song come together from an idea in your head to a finished recording that people react to. I love when someone comes up to me and tells me a song I had a part in creating touched them or helped them in a positive way.

I hate the business aspect of it all, but it's a necessary evil I suppose. It's really easy to get yourself mixed up in the politics of the BUSINESS of making music, which is entirely different from the ART of making music.

I've seen a lot of people get really discouraged because band X, who they have some past relationship with, eclipsed their own musical endeavors in popularity, or record or ticket sales or MySpace friends, or whatever. I've had friends with bands that sold way more records than I probably ever will, but then their bands broke up because in their minds they "didn't sell enough records."

At the same time, I have friends who have platinum records on their walls that are still the raddest, most down to earth people you'll ever meet, and love music still for the art of creating. I guess that kinda ties together the thing that keeps me going -- the music BUSINESS has just never ever been what playing and writing music has been about for me.

I feel awesome about the fact that this silly little thing I started in high school is still able to release records and tour and play our songs for people, and I obviously want it to succeed, but generally we release a record, and we sell about the same amount of them every time -- but I don't care how many that is. That isn't how I judge our success.

I judge our success in the fact that for ten years this band has managed to do things our way, without anybody really helping us out or telling us what to do, and we've managed to reach an audience of people who care about what we do and what we create, but maybe not so much about what we're wearing or what the current hip blog has to say about us.

It seems, to me, like our music has resonated with people for that exact reason -- we don't try to be anything that we aren't. We write songs we'd listen to if we weren't in the band, we wear whatever we like, and we get on stage and don't always play every note perfect. Maybe if we had better haircuts (…or if I had a floor tom) we'd be better financially situated, but I digress.

Music to me is about moving people, not dollars and units.


Time and Distance, Blue Ring, The Red Lights

WHEN: 10 p.m., Saturday, Apr. 20

WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St., 304-345-3914

COST: $7

ONLINE: https://www.facebook.com/timeanddistance


VIDEO: Rozwell Kid "Unmacho" (Official Video)

We’ve been off the grid for a while, but one of the more awesome things that came out recently was the official video and title track for Rozwell Kid’s February release, Unmacho.

Brought to you by Northward Advance, the same people who brought you The Demon Beat’s video for “Bored Forever,” (and including Adam Meisterhans guitar lessons) we gonna post it to give us a reason to come back soon!


The Only Way Out Is Through: Streamlined DTES plays V Club 3.22

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photo: LA Watson

Lexington, Ky.-based progressive rock band Dream The Electric Sleep (L-R: Chris Tackett, Matt Page, Joey Waters) will perform at The V Club Friday.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It’s been two years since Dream The Electric Sleep released its debut album, Lost and Gone Forever, for free, out of nowhere, to critical acclaim. The Lexington-based progressive rock band’s stunning 14-song concept record about the life of an eastern Kentucky coal mining family would not be easy to duplicate.

So, live, and in the studio, Matt Page, Chris Tackett and Joey Waters would move on in a new direction, continuing to see where their diverse musical influences take them.

“When we finished the first record, sometimes you just kind of know that you have something special on your hands, and you just cross your fingers and hope for the best,” bassist Chris Tackett said.

“Nobody knew who we were; we weren’t anyone. We hadn’t recorded anything and we’d never played any shows. So it was just really important for us to just get the music out there and let people hear it. We thought we’d achieved something pretty damn special.

“It’s been nice to get the good response; we’ll take it.”

After downsizing into a three-piece a few months ago, the guys in DTES were challenged with recreating live, the richly layered sound (think Pink Floyd meets Muse) found on the debut record.

“It was a definite transition,” singer-guitarist Matt Page said. “We were trying to figure out how to fill up the space, since the album that we wrote was fairly lush with keyboard parts, acoustic guitars, and harmonies.

“We sort of debated whether we wanted another guitar player, or someone that can do keyboards, but nothing really worked out. So at this point we’re a three-piece. We’re trying to work [arrangements] with samples, and applying the stuff we need to, as opposed to finding another member.

“So we worked hard at figuring out ways to sort of beef up the sound again, and I think we’ve finally got to that point. Last year was sort of us testing stuff out live while we were writing new material. But it’s kind of nice that the three of us gelled, and work together so well. We’re all pretty happy with where we’re at.”

Dream The Electric Sleep performs Friday at The V Club in Huntington with John Lancaster and Horseburner.

“Even though the three-piece, live, with the material from [Lost and Gone Forever] at certain points was maybe a little thinner than the album was obviously, because there’s not five or six guys on stage playing,” drummer Joey Waters added. “It made us a little less muddy live. So, from that standpoint it was a good thing.”

Tackett, who’d came on around the time the band was finishing the debut album, said writing as a three-piece has had its benefits.

“This record we’re getting ready to record was written as a collaboration between the three of us, as opposed to the last record, where I kind of stepped in and helped finish the album. This one, we all worked together on. So it does sound a little bit different. I wouldn’t say it’s anything drastic, but it sounds more like a real band.”

Tackett, with years of experience being in bands as diverse as Chum, The Heptanes, and Hyatari, said Dream The Electric Sleep is bringing everything together as a three-piece.

“As far as doing the three-piece thing, my role in it, like Matt mentioned, we’ve really experimented with some effects and different techniques to fill up some space, especially in trying to mimic the older songs. But the new material, I think, since it was kind of hashed out in a room with the three of us, it sounds a little more natural live.”

Page said Tackett’s sonic tendencies and sensibilities were more integral this time around, and that each member’s influences make the band what it is.

“This album, Chris’ influence and sound have really helped to shape that. Like, I don’t listen to anything like what Chris listens to, and I don’t know that Joey listens to anything that I do, so we all have our feet in different musical genres. It’s an extraordinarily exciting thing for me.”

“These guys have been really cool about letting that sort of influence leak into this band,” Tackett added. “I certainly wouldn’t say it’s taken over or anything like that, but there’s definitely some Hyatari-type elements that we employ from time to time. They’ve been really gracious with letting me express that side.

“It is a weird style, and it’s kind of like, my style, so it’s cool that they let me include that in this project. I personally think it makes for a really unique sound with Matt’s harmonies and writing. We do incorporate some of that Hyatari-type slower, doomy, dissonant stuff, and it works!”

Waters seconded Tackett’s increasing influence in DTES.

“I’ve always played with a really aggressive style, but I’ve never enjoyed playing metal, per se. I like listening to it, and that’s mainly what I’m listening to right now. Chris let me fill in on drums for Hyatari, and that was one of the coolest shows I’ve ever played. So he’s definitely been an influence on me as far as getting back into heavy music again.

“In Dream The Electric Sleep I hit as hard as I want, and really get the demons out. At the same time, I’m able to play that aggressive style but be in a band that’s more accessible to a wider audience. Matt and Chris are good at reining it in and making it sound like Dream The Electric Sleep.”

“Joey and Chris have kind of melded together,” Page said matter-of-factly, describing the rhythm section.

Page said it’s the experimentation and openness that makes DTES what it is.

“It’s really fun to work with two other musicians of high caliber that are also willing to take somebody more like me, who’s going to be more like a singer-songwriter, and put Hyatari riffs and thundering drums behind it, and come up with a sound that’s surprising to me. That’s why it’s so exciting.

Looking ahead to recording 11 new songs and 80 or so minutes worth of material with Jay Groves at Sneak Attack in Lexington, Page said he hopes the recording will be as much of a natural, creative process as the songwriting.

“I’m hoping that comes across when we start recording the album, that this is a step forward, sonically. I want to make sure we capture that as opposed to us setting up a bunch of microphones and crossing our fingers and hoping we get the sound we want.

“I’d rather go into a studio and work with a professional and get that sound, then take those tracks and kind of sculpt them outside of the studio session, in our rehearsal space, and start experimenting with amps, guitars, keyboards and vocals, all that.

“So I think that’s the process, at least at this point,” the singer and guitarist said. “To be honest, the recording process for us isn’t going to be recording something that’s already finished. It’s going to be us creating as we record.”

The guys said they’re looking forward to playing RosFest, a big prog rock festival held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in May.

“It’s a pretty big deal for us,” Page said. “People from all over the world fly in for this festival and they’re super stoked to be there, and they’re music aficionados, and they already knew about us, which was also weird to have people know who you are but you’ve never played for them before.

“These people-- the fans, the organizers, have been extremely supportive; they want us there. So I think it’s going to be a really positive experience for us.”

Page said 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for Dream The Electric Sleep.

“We’re playing shows, we’re playing new material, we’ve got the festival coming up, which is a really big deal, and we’re gonna be in the studio trying to finish an album.

“It’s gonna be a crazy six months I think.”


Dream The Electric Sleep, John Lancaster, Horseburner

WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 10 p.m., Friday, March 22
COST: $5
INFO: http://www.vclublive.com/, (304) 781-0680
ONLINE: http://www.dreamtheelectricsleep.com/


Bishops Make Next Move With "Feel Alive" EP

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photo: Jordan Hudkins

Right where they belong: Tucker Riggleman and Paul Cogle have found a new home for their creative output in Bishops. After releasing their debut full-length in 2012, the duo returns with a new EP, Feel Alive, released in March.

Before The Demon Beat, before Prison Book Club, Tucker Riggleman was kicking around Shepherdstown area bars and coffee shops playing solo acoustic shows, singing his own songs. Late nights at Shepherd University, playing music and sharing songs with PBC band mate and The Fox Hunt’s John R. Miller helped Riggleman come into his own as a performer.

The Demon Beat would emerge as one of the region’s better bands, and Riggleman would later share singing and songwriting duties in Prison Book Club, the Shepherdstown-based alt-country band, with his good friend Miller. But it was only after teaming up with veteran musician and engineer Paul Cogle (Vox Populi, Alt 40, Fabled Sons, Black Blizzard) to record some demos that Riggleman’s songwriting efforts would emerge as his own band.

After recruiting Demon Beat singer-guitarist Adam Meisterhans and PBC drummer Andrew Ford, Bishops, birthed out of Cogle’s Falling Waters studio, released its debut self-titled full-length in 2012.

Bishops will release its new EP, Feel Alive, digitally March 5, and will perform at Gene’s Beer Garden in Morgantown Saturday, March 23. WVRockscene caught up with Riggleman and Cogle for Spotlight West Virginia to learn more about the project and the new EP, which finds Riggleman and Cogle striking out on their own...

WVRockscene: The new EP, Feel Alive, how excited are you two about the material and getting it out to fans and friends? From original demos and rehearsals to now, how has Bishops progressed? 

Tucker Riggleman: I think it’s safe to say that we’re really excited about the new EP. I think it’s a logical step forward for us. A couple of the songs started as demos where I played everything, then I brought them to Paul and he added his magic. It’s a lot of fun to be able to bring in a song and have someone else hear something that they think can add to the vibe of the whole thing, and then mix it all together to get the finished product. I’m particularly stoked on this batch of songs because they’re kind of all over the place stylistically.

There are a couple slow building acoustic/folk rock types of songs that get pretty triumphant at the end, there is a 70’s punk rock sounding song, a straight up rocker, and one that is just me and a guitar. What I love about what we’ve been able to do as a band, is that we can combine these different influences and it doesn’t seem too jagged or out of place. It makes sense that it’s one band making all that noise.

Paul Cogle: Yeah the EP is a really cool jam! We do stretch out a little more on this release which has been a lot of fun. Tucker’s writing is top notch and one of my favorite songs (“Let go”) is on it.

rockscene: How did Bishops get hatched originally? Tucker how encouraging and/or awesome has it been having Paul as a musical partner for your songwriting efforts?

Cogle: Tucker is an awesome guy with a heart of gold. The best thing that’s come from Bishops for me is an excellent friendship. Yeah, Bishops began after a lot of email pestering by me, I initially wanted to record The Demon Beat but our schedules never worked out. Tucker finally came to the studio to record some demos – and we just hit it off so Bishops evolved from there.

I think we hear things the same way. We love things that are over-the-top full of distortion and reverb but still melt when the song is as sweet and pure as a single voice and guitar.

Riggleman: Paul is definitely a musical brother of mine. It’s so comfortable to work with him. He’s a great musician and person, but he is also an excellent engineer/producer in the way he can get certain things out of you, or maybe put you in a position to look at the song a different way and follow it down that path a little bit to see if there’s something awesome you can get out of it.

Basically, the band wouldn’t have happened without Paul’s encouragement. Originally, Paul had me come over last year to demo some songs I had lying around. I was clueless about what should be done with these songs; I just knew I wanted to get them down for posterity’s sake. Once we listened to the demos, I think we decided to get together and try to rock them out a bit, which resulted in the debut full-length. I am still very proud of that record.

rockscene: Tucker, given your past solo efforts, how has being in The Demon Beat and Prison Book Club expanded your own songwriting sensibilities? What’s rubbed off on you, if anything, being in these other bands?

Riggleman: I would like to think I’ve got a lot of the boneheaded youthful mistakes out of the way (i.e. booking a show in New York City on Super Bowl Sunday at a bar with no TV) and can focus on efficiently writing, recording, and playing shows. Doing everything on your own tends to lead to a lot of trial and error, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but I’m just glad I got those parts out of the way when I was 21, and not now when I’m 26.

But it’s not just the mistakes you learn from, but also the good things. For instance, we now have the luxury of knowing which places will be good for us to play, and which ones we should skip. The Demon Beat and PBC made a lot of friends over the years (as have Paul’s previous bands) and we’re lucky that a handful of them continue to follow our other projects. I think it’s just like anything else, you learn more as you go.

rockscene: Just like The Demon Beat, with Adam Meisterhans recording, with Bishops, Cogle can handle production duties. How important and/or convenient is it to be able to control the means of production in both bands?

Cogle: The only way to get the best possible recordings are for people to feel one hundred percent comfortable and I’ve always wanted to have a place where friends could come, relax, jam, and record – and for the most part I have achieved that. It’s a private studio. I’ll only work with friends. I’ve never recorded someone I do not have a personal friendship with. It’s also really, really cool to be able to send Adam or Jordan [Hudkins] a mix to get their opinion.

Riggleman: I think the familiarity makes all the difference. Try as they might, some producer at a costly studio somewhere is not going to know your music or what you’re going for better than your band mate and friend. It’s just really convenient to not have to/ rush in the studio and be able to build things up the way we do.

We have a pretty good process down, but it’s still spontaneous enough to catch those unexpected moments. For instance, the last track on the EP, a song called “Easy,” is just a guitar and me. I was playing it for Paul and he kind of snuck over and pressed record. Those are the kinds of takes I think you can only get while recording in an environment such as the one we have at Paul’s studio.

rockscene: Tucker you’re still running Big Bullet Records, which just released a winter sampler. How frustrating and/or necessary and/or awesome is it to be able to cut out the middlemen and run a label DIY?

Riggleman: You know what? It’s gotten a heck of a lot less frustrating once I decided to stick to digital releases for the most part: less overhead, less worrying about pressing deadlines. Everything is just so flooded these days, and I watched it happen from BBR’s inception up until now.

I think we have a small group of folks who diligently check out what we do as a group, and that’s really all you can ask for these days. With every band and label in the world putting things on Bandcamp for free, if you can get just a few people who actually care to click on your link then you’re doing okay.

rockscene: You’ve got this show 3.23 at Gene’s with your friends Billy Matheny and Tyler Grady in Goodwolf, looking forward to the show?

Riggleman: I am really stoked on this one. I’ve only ever stepped foot inside of Gene’s once in my life, and it was awesome. The intimacy and potential for rowdy rock behavior definitely increases in smaller spaces like Gene’s, especially when the shows are free.

Billy and Tyler are two of my favorite musical people, and we are very excited and honored to share a bill with them. There are so many talented musicians in our state. I can only hope that anytime any West Virginia bands get noticed even the slightest that the outside world gets turned on to all of the state’s awesome music.

Cogle: The first time I met Tyler he was opening for Bishops and he just totally blew me away. Love his work! Billy and his group are top notch people (and friends from way back) so this is gonna be one of my favorite shows – I’m so looking forward to it!


Bishops w/Billy Matheny & the Frustrations, Goodwolf

WHERE: Gene’s Beer Garden, 461 Wilson Ave., Morgantown (304) 292-1147
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday March 23
COST: Free
ONLINE: www.facebook.com/bishopswv


CD Review: "III"

ARTIST: Whiskey Daredevils

Cleveland's resident cowpunks, the Whiskey Daredevils, return with ten new songs worth of "no frills rock n' roll" on III, ironically the band's eighth release (the first with new bassist Sugar Wildman) and arguably their best to date.

Since welcoming ultra-badass lead guitarist Gary Siperko on, before Introducing the Whiskey Daredevils, the Daredevils have continued to rapidly congeal its own lovelorn, maybe drug-fueled but definitely super fun version of rockabilly. Singer Greg Miller and drummer Leo Love continue to move the band forward, as they did in the 90's with The Cowslingers, which later begat the Daredevils.

"Swim The Lake of Fire" is maybe the hardest rockin' Daredevils song yet. "Corina" is to III what "Ida Jane" was to the Greatest Hits CD. Seems like so many years have past just since that release, but just highlights how the band has progressed through alternately distorted & twangy garage rock, through a more country flavor (Golden Age of Country Punk) on the last couple releases.

"Never Again" is an old school sounding Daredevils ballad that fans will come to love.

Whether you're traveling Route 66, living some sketchy life, falling in love with women you really shouldn't, or singing along with the band at the Empty Glass, the Daredevils are always a good time. This really could be their best CD.


CD Review: "Disenchanted"

CD: Disenchanted
ARTIST: Sweet Life

The next time bands like KTB, The Sword, or Valient Thorr come to play a show in West Virginia, we suggest they investigate the possibility of having Sweet Life open for them.

These Morgantown & Pittsburgh-based stoner rock dudes-- Jason McCarty, Nick Leombruno, Evan Devine, Mike Roberts-- over the course of seven songs and barely over 20 minutes on their debut EP Disenchanted, actually give reason to be excited to hear more from these guys.

By the time you've heard "Rock n' Roll III" and the first single, "Black Babylon," (see Geoff Hoskinson's killer video for that) you'll be hooked on "The Sweet Life," as we'll refer to the band from here on out. "Cop Dad," 65 punk rock seconds in length, is an early nominee for best song title of 2013.

Sweet Life - "Black Babylon" from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Mixed by Ryan Hizer, mastered by Dave Klug, and with art provided by the aforementioned Hoskinson, Disenchanted is super impressive.

Despite there being only seven songs on the EP, there's enough on display here to make this actually one of the more exciting releases to come out of the "WVRockscene" in 2013. We'll stay tuned and look for these guys to get put on some awesome shows.


CD Review: "Unmacho"

CD: Unmacho
ARTIST: Rozwell Kid

Never considered yourself a van man? Get ready to reassess your life situation.

Whether he’s suggesting totally gross/genius menu items to fast food chains or pestering Marc Maron on Twitter, hilariously juxtaposing and attributing lyrics to songs on Facebook, or, returning with his band’s sophomore full-length, Jordan Hudkins is always entertaining.

On the recently released Unmacho, Hudkins, now, along with full-time writing buds Adam Meisterhans, Andrew LaCara, Devin Donnelly, and Sean Hallock, returns with ten songs worth of new and improved grungy, noisy, super-catchy power-pop, exploring the depths of the band’s get-in-the-van ideology, only now, with essentially three front dudes leading The Demon Beat drummer’s emerging side project.

Not only do you have Hudkins, Meisterhans, and LaCara (remember The Resonators?) but a short, star-studded, red carpet lineup of area musicians (Brian Spragg, Ryan Hizer, Bud Carroll, Dylan Balliett) appear on Unmacho, making it, as far as local releases go, pretty darn studly.

From the cacophonous jam at the intro of “Bonehead” (“Oh wow, oh wow/I really fucked up now,” Hudkins sings) through the first single and band’s super-charged anthem “Van Man,” to the shredding outro on “Rozwell Man,” (“Get in the van. I don’t have a plan,” Hudkins sings repeatedly) Unmacho is a delightful romp indeed.

Standout tracks include “Lipstick,” “Gumshoe,” and the swaggering “Afterparty,” (based on actual events?) you should definitely check out those if you’re reading this and never listened to RK.

It seemed silly to think a few years ago that of the handful of promising acts birthed out of Shepherdstown, RK would be or could be where it is today. Hudkins, with help from his friends now in Rozwell Kid, have emerged as more than just a drummer’s side project. Now, these dudes have fans and online stalkers all their own.

Where The Rozwell Kid LP may have, for some, fondly evoked The Blue Album, maybe Unmacho is like Pinkerton-- a better band, bigger guitars and killer solos (hear the title track,) better backing vocals/harmonies, and just a better, live energy captured on a better record. A more experimental bent is on display, from the noise jams to reverse cymbals to synth-type hits and other studio tom foolery. Kudos, again, to Dave Klug in Pittsburgh for his studio efforts.

It’s exciting to see how far Hudkins has taken Rozwell Kid, looking back on it from the Jude Universer days. As he and his band approach Rozwell manhood, it’s commendable that Hudkins, now, along with his friends, on a record so highly anticipated, did not disappoint.

--- Rozwell Kid performs in a very special Sunday rock show 3.10 at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown with Pat Pat and Dangerous Ponies.


The Renfields on The Renfields!

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The picture above really does a good job capturing what The Fiend’s reaction might be when he’s again being starved for an extended period of time. Since there was so much good conversation with The Renfields for our Gazette piece, (and good pics via Mike Winland Studios,) we thought we’d put something a little special together on the band for its first show back in five months tonight at The Sound Factory, and why the band starves its mongoloid bassist…

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “I remember the very first show, seeing them, was at The Elbow Room. [To Vincent] I don’t know if you remember this one?”

Vincent: “I do.”

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “Yeah, it was a Dangerkat show, and we were playing with you guys, and I was like ‘Look at these jerks walking around in costumes!’ Then, you guys started playing, and I was like ‘Oh, this is kinda cool!’

“And you guys had, like, 3-minute long [movie sample] intros between each song, (laughter) and I was like ‘Oh no, I hate these guys!’ (laughter)

“My girlfriend just had to explain our band to her parents like a week ago.” (laughs) “She said it didn’t go over very well. She ran into the same thing, like ‘How do I explain that they wear costumes and are covered in blood, but they’re not some evil metal band?”

[Vincent, on Dr. Von Renfield IV]

“When he joined the band, we still had Herbert III, and we became friends because we always played with Dangerkat. He joined as Lucio on guitar. Then, the next practice, Herbert III quit. And we were like ‘OK, well you just bought that guitar and bought that amp but now, you’re the drummer!’” (laughter)

The Fiend: “First impression? Seeing their pictures on MySpace, and thinking, ‘What the hell is this [expletive]?’ (laughter) And then I listened to it, aaaaannnnnd, I loved it.

“The catchy tunes: just like with the radio when people turn it on and hear pop tunes-- it’s catchy! And that’s what people like; something that they hear, and then, hours later they’re doing something and all of a sudden, it creeps in your head, and you start bobbing your head. And that’s how The Renfields are, they’re catchy.”

“Then I wanted to play a show with them.

“And we got a show with them, somewhere near Beckley. And I remember pulling into the parking lot and seeing them, and thinking, ‘That has to be them!’” (laughter)

Vincent: “And we weren’t even in costume!”

The Fiend: “They were unmistakable.”

Dick Ramsses: “The first time I’d ever heard of them I was playing in [REDACTED] -- [Fiend] would talk about them often.

“The first time I ever saw them, we played with them at Fright Farm, and I remember thinking the same thing; ‘What the hell is this [expletive]?’ (band laughter)

“And I saw ‘em play, and for me too, it was “Machete a Go-Go,” I was like ‘Oh my god, this [expletive] is catchy!’

“Then, it was the half band, half set show in Huntington. We went out there, like hanging out, and I was like ‘Man, what happened to these guys?’”

Vincent: That night, I’d called [Fiend] the week before and said ‘Hey man let’s do The Jasons,’ it always happens like this, and he said ‘Yeah,’ and when we lost the bass player and it was just like with [Dr. Von Renfield IV] ‘OK you can be the fiend now.’”

Dick Ramsses: “That show was actually right after we’d quit playing with [REDACTED]

Fiend: “It was.”

Dick Ramsses: “Right after everything just went…”

The Fiend: “To Florida.” (laughs)

Dick Ramsses: “And we just kind of hung out, and I remember you talking about possibly joining The Renfields. And we actually sat in his dining room, and just messed around, we did an acoustic version of what was it, “Prom Night?”

The Fiend: “Probably.”

Dick Ramsses: “We were just jamming around on that, just for fun. And I was like, ‘Man if they need anyone else, I’ll do it.’”

The Fiend: “The band never had a second guitarist.”

Vincent [to Fiend]: “When you said [Dick Ramsses] wanted to join, I was like ‘YES!’”

*on booking shows…

The Fiend: “You can’t expect a response from every venue owner to every text, every e-mail, saying ‘Sure, this is my place of business, come on over, play a show!’ and, you know, some of the hardest places to get in, are sometimes the crappiest places to play.”

Vincent: “Yes, they are.”

The Fiend: “I don’t know why that is.”

Vincent: “[Fiend] books the shows. But it’s frustrating when you’ll want to play a show, and they have no idea you’ve been a band for ten years. And you just wanna say ‘LOOK at what we have been through!’”

*on starving The Fiend (Renfields intervention breaks out mid-interview)…

Dick Ramsses: “It’s always his own fault.”
Vincent: “Yeah!”
Dr. Von Renfield: “He really makes us do it.”
Dick Ramsses (to Fiend): “Quit making mistakes, and behave well, and you’ll get food.”
Vincent: “Here’s the key: don’t be who you are, and we won’t have to do what we do to you.”

The Fiend: “A lot of kids like us.”

Dr. Von Renfield: “When we played ShockaCon, there were little kids wearing Renfields shirts there. Like 6 and 7-year old kids.”

Dick Ramsses: “Kids are either really scared, or they love it.”

Vincent: “Just like Barney!” (band laughter)

EXTRA! EXTRA! The Renfields Get Animated!

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There was so much good quotage left over from our in-person interview with The Renfields that we thought we’d post it here! From first impressions, to winning fans, to recording and re-animating The Fiend, this special two-part mini-series, if nothing else, reminds you to go see Team Transylvania tonight at The Sound Factory with Miniature Giant and Calendars and Kerosene.

Now, The Renfields, on --

*The band’s undead origins…

Vincent Renfield: “I was in, just, a regular pop-punk band, and I always wanted to be in a gimmick band. I’ll call them a gimmick band, but when I was real young I heard KISS, and I remember sitting there with the LP that my brother gave me, and my mind changed from ‘What kind of music do I want to play?’ to ‘What will we wear?’ (band laughter) ‘What is our image?’ ‘What is our shtick?’

“I’d always wanted to do that.

“So I asked every person that I knew, and no one wanted to do it.

“So I started buying instruments; bass, a drum set.

“And then I would say, ‘You don’t know how to play, but if you want to be in a horror punk band with me, you can be Dr. Von Renfield, or Chester; whatever character you want to be, you can use the equipment, and we’ll learn how to play together.”

*Wearing costumes, winning fans…

Dick Ramsses-Renfield: “With this band, the appeal that catches everybody’s eyes is the costumes, and they’re like ‘This is stupid. What are these 30-year old guys doing dressed up like a bunch of idiots?’

“And then we play, and everyone-- well, I don’t want to say everyone,” (band hard laughter)-- “I guess not everybody’s a fan. But most people, yeah, when we start playing, it clicks in their heads; they get it.”

Vincent Renfield: “They want to hate us, because of the way that we look. They think that we’re going to try to get up there and be like, Danzig Jr. or something, and be tough guys. And so they’re instantly like, ‘Yeah, [expletive] these guys.’

“And then, we start making fun of ourselves, and horror punk in general.

“[Dick Ramsses] said it the other day, and it’s true: we’re not a horror punk band, we’re a parody of a horror punk band. We’re fans of what we do, but at the same time a lot of horror punk bands are dudes, just normal guys, trying to look scary.

“Our shtick is that we’re monsters that don’t know we’re scary.”

Dick Ramsses: “For me, personally, when we play a show, I don’t care if they like us as a band. I just hope they have a good time. They don’t have to like our music to have a good time watching us.”

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “I can’t tell you how many people have come up to us after a show and been like ‘You know, I normally hate your kind of music, I’m a fan of--’ what’s the band with the teddy bears?-- The Grateful Dead! ‘Yeah I’m a giant deadhead, but I had a great time tonight.’”

*Vincent, on having Lucio back as hype wolf and to run samples…

“Lucio’s an important part. We needed him. He’s the dude that is obsessed with horror movies like I am. When he came on I was happy because, like, we all like horror movies and watch them, but I’m obsessed and he’s obsessed with them. So, maybe it’s not even a band thing, but we can talk about collecting VHS tapes and imported German stuff. (band laughter)

“I missed that.”

*on recording “GO!,” the new album, versus past efforts…

Vincent: “The reason we recorded in mono was, that was all we had. And I knew my guitar skills were limited at the time; I didn’t know how to sing and play the guitar at the same time. So, I was just trying to do what The Mummies did, what the Ramones did. And instead of making apologies for what I don’t have to offer, I would champion what I do have to offer.

“In my head though, when I wrote “Burning Revenge,” you can go back and listen to it and see what I was able to do with it. In my mind, it wasn’t a mono song, it was just, that’s what we had. Now, the version on [“GO!”] the way it is, and every song on the album, is the way it should be. When we recorded the CD and I sat down to listen to it, sure there were one or two things we wanted to go back and change, but I was like, happy with everything.

“So, every other album that was done in mono, it was like, ‘Well, that’s the best we could do,’ and some people dug it and some people didn’t dig it.’”

The Fiend: “I like how [Vincent] was talking about how he showed what he could offer. And what was cool was, how he proudly said, and the reason I was a fan was the things he said in the liner notes, like ‘Recorded in blood-curdling mono,’ and was proud of that.

I thought that was just humorous and kinda cool. Something else he said in another liner note; ‘If it sounds like it was recorded in a casket, it probably was,’” (band laughter)

Vincent: “And I still wanna celebrate that, but I don’t wanna hold back [Renfields] members who are capable of doing awesome things. I’m trying to get a custom made guitar that has just four strings, and instead of dots, just has the number of the frets, (hard band laughter) with just one pickup and one knob, because I want people to be like ‘What the [expletive] is that caveman [expletive]?’ (laughter)

“That’s what I’m interested in doing, because that’s what it was built on.”

Dick Ramsses: “We didn’t want to have an album put out and us not be happy with it. For so long-- and any band could say this-- they don’t want to just hand somebody something and say ‘Here’s our CD, BUT,’ and then go into some long explanation about what’s not good about it, or why they’re not happy with it.”

Vincent: “That’s been The Renfields, like, for years. (laughter)

“This record, because we’re not going to let it happen, there isn’t going to be one thing we’re not satisfied with. Not one thing will be anything less than what we want. The artwork, whatever length we had to go to, money-wise, we did it. We’re going to do that with the packaging, and a special little tour edition that’s already working.

“And luckily, with the recording, any little thing that we wanted to do, we can go back. We’ve talked about it; a lot of bands put out a CD that’s thrown together…”

The Fiend: “In a week.”

Vincent: “Yeah. We’ve done that enough. We recorded “Stalk and Slash [Splatterama] Part 2 in 13 hours. This has been almost 13 months.”

*on how recording “Porkchop,” re-animated the recording process…

The Fiend: “It just made sense.” (to work w/Eamon Hardiman)

Dick Ramsses: “That’s what started the whole recording process, too. We went in and were just going to do the ‘Porkchop’ theme and two other songs, just to have. And then we got in there and it was like ‘[expletive] it, let’s do an album.’”

The Fiend: “We didn’t have the money, but we just made it happen. We were like ‘If we don’t do it, we’re never going to.’”

Dick Ramsses: (laughs) “YEAH!”

Vincent: “When [Dr. Von Renfield] and I drove down to show him the song, and all we had was the rough guitar mix, so we sang it to him, like, played it on the stereo and sang it to him, and he teared up.”

Dr. Von Renfield IV: “That’s the only time I’ve ever seen Eamon show emotion.” (hard band laughter)

*Dick Ramsses, on keeping The Renfields going…

“I’m not going anywhere. I don’t know about the rest of the guys. I think I was telling [Vincent] and I told [Fiend] the other day; I’m gonna go with this for as long as I can. This has been a lot of fun.”


'Nation' Building: Huntington band built on love of thrash

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Photo: Mike Adkins

Nation (L-R: Jake Wegman, Dana White, Ryan Vickers, Bobby Midkiff, Bryan Patterson) formed out of its member’s friendships and love of thrash metal. The Huntington-based band will help open things up at Byzantine’s CD release show tonight at the V Club.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

It wouldn’t be incorrect to describe Dana White’s new band as an exercise in “Nation” building. Except, in lieu of foundational concepts like democracy and liberty, the Huntington-based five-piece band Nation is built on the freedom to express themselves and pursue happiness -- as a thrash metal band.

Gathered at White’s house in Huntington for a Saturday rehearsal, White, guitarists Bryan Patterson and Ryan Vickers, and bassist Bobby Midkiff talked about the big ideas behind the birth of their own particular Nation.

Describing Nation as “way more thrash,” than his previous bands, Holden Caulfield and Heart Holds True/Black Seas, White said Nation, comprised of members of Holden Caulfield, Neutral Agreement and Deckard, formed quite organically through friendships developed over the years.

“I was excited about this band from the get go,” the singer said. “Bryan and I had been wanting to be in a band together for a long time, and we finally pulled it off.”

Nation performs at The V Club Saturday night, helping to open for Charleston metal band Byzantine, as they release their first record in five years.

Borrowing from a Holden Caulfield album title, White said after the popular hardcore band broke up he and X-Box buddy Midkiff agreed they “Can’t Stop Now.”

“When Holden Caulfield broke up, Bobby and I had already been talking about doing Heart Holds True, which had no name at that point. But Heart Holds/True Black Seas, which was basically the same band with a few changes here and there, that band never really got its momentum. And we hated that, because we enjoyed it and it was fun.”

It was entirely coincidental that Midkiff was moving back to West Virginia from Jacksonville, Florida, when Nation was being birthed.

“Well, Dana and I have been best friends for what, like, six or seven years now?” Midkiff asked as if to confirm it with the singer and his bandmates.

“Thirteen? Longer than that,” Patterson, who White said has written the majority of Nation’s songs, added to laughter from the guys.

“Yeah, a long time,” Midkiff said, continuing. “But I was in Florida, and had just moved back, and Dana said he needed a bass player for Nation. So I was like, ‘of course,’ it was like the perfect fit.

The bassist described how Patterson was pulled into orbit over the years.

“When I was in Holden Caulfield we played a lot of shows with Neutral Agreement, and Bryan was in Neutral Agreement. Actually, on the Holden Caulfield record “Can’t Stop Now,” Bryan came in and did some guest guitar work on two songs. Just playing shows with our bands, together over the years we’ve gotten to know each other that way.”

Patterson jumped in at this point to describe the band’s genesis, and their mutual love of thrash.

“Like Bobby hit on earlier; he, Dana and I have been crossing paths for years now. When I was in Neutral Agreement we’d play shows all the time. Dana was always really good about putting us on shows and supporting our band. Really just by playing shows together and hanging out at shows we became pretty good friends and we always tossed around the idea of playing together.

“We’ve always had a love of old school thrash, which is something that’s not around here, or surrounding areas too much,” Patterson added. “So we really liked the idea of going back and doing what got us into music to begin with: Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer, stuff like that.”

“We both love old school thrash, we all do,” Vickers added, describing the mutual interests he shares with Patterson and the rest of the guys. “He grew up with it, and me, I kind of ventured into heavier, heavier music. But we all still maintained that interest in thrash.”

Admitting he was excited for his band to have the opportunity to open for Byzantine and potentially reach new fans, White said when it comes to getting Nation’s music out in the digital age, just like playing out, it’s all about getting your music out there these days.

“As far as giving the music away, stuff like that, it’s hard to sell music these days, especially when you’re not the headlining band,” the singer said. “We just figure, ‘Hey, we’ll just give this away, and hopefully people will listen to it and we hope they like it,’ get to know it that way.”

Patterson said that, financial constraints aside, the band looks forward to recording a full-length follow-up to Nation’s 3-song E.P., released in September 2012, this year if possible.

White, asked about the likelihood of living out his admitted dream of having his band open for Anthrax, said he’s quite literally living the dream in Nation.

“It would be a dream come true to get to play with Anthrax,” White said.

“But at the same time, I’m so stoked to play any show that we can, even if there’s hardly anybody there, we’ll still be pumped to play because we’ll get to hang with each other, we’ll still get to meet a handful of new people, and we’re probably going to play a new venue that we’ve never played or been to.

“Being in a band is a privilege that some people, sadly, take for granted.”

“I agree with Dana,” Patterson said. “I’ve loved thrash metal for as long as I can remember. Going through my entire life and just now being able to be in a thrash band, it means the world to me to play the music I love, and play the music that influenced me.

“It’s icing on the cake that people come to watch it and people enjoy it.”

Byzantine CD Release show w/Nation, DeadFaceDown, Among The Dead
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 23
TIME: doors at 8 p.m., show at 10 p.m.
COST: $12 advance, $15 day of show
INFO: www.vclublive.com


The Devil vs. Chris Ojeda: Byzantine frontman talks about "Soul Eraser"

With lyrics about black tar lords, black teeth, and blacker souls, Byzantine’s new song “Soul Eraser,” and the official video for it, received thumbs up from fans online, and thumbs down from stations the band sent it to due its visceral, bleak, totally NSFW depiction of drug-ravaged West Virginia.

Byzantine singer-guitarist Chris “OJ” Ojeda here, in an excerpt from a phone interview with the Gazette, discusses the song, the video, and the response to both…

“That song is very close to our problem. As far as our band is concerned, we’ve had a lot of people very close to us get hooked on drugs. The whole song is kind of like a ‘Shame on you, West Virginia, for letting this pill problem, this prescription drug abuse problem, infiltrate this state and turn our whole generation into people dependent on something that’s killing them.’

“We wanted the video to portray how crappy it is, and it did.

“But with [“Soul Eraser,”] the subject matter being so dark, and so close to West Virginia, I’m hoping it’ll take off and be kind of an anthem, like “Jeremiad” was for us. We’ve had a lot of people tell us that “Jeremiad” got them through some dark times, because the song deals with suicide, and feeling alone, and just, like nobody cares about you

“So now, with drug abuse being so prevalent, maybe people can see the video and hear the lyrics and be like, ‘Maybe I need to get off my a--,’ and deal with it, you know?

“We submitted [the video] to all the stations, and every one of them said the same exact thing, ‘The song was fantastic, the video was fantastic, but it’s too graphic.’ And it’s like, ‘In this day and age?’ (laughs)

“But we were also able to do a casting call, and get our fans to come in and do the little mosh thing, which was cool. If I was a kid, and a local band that had some type of credibility was asking me to be in their video, I think that’d be the coolest thing. So as a way to say thanks, we did that for them.

“We had a blast doing it, and the kids had a blast doing it. It looked like they were trying to kill each other, but the reality was they were jumping around smiling. We had to stop that part like fifteen times because they were smiling too much.” (laughs)

Related: Byzantine is back with new album, new attitude (Charleston Gazette)


VIDEO: Sweet Life “Black Babylon”

Sweet Life - "Black Babylon" from Geoff Hoskinson on Vimeo.

Get into it now, before the Morgantown/Pittsburgh-based stoner rock dudes in Sweet Life release their Disenchanted EP Tuesday 2/19.

Geoff Hoskinson (of Geoff & Dallas Make Videos) helps turn a killer song from a local band into an amazing video -- again -- this time with “Black Babylon,” off the 7-song debut effort.

Sweet Life: Jason McCarty, Nick Leombruno, Evan Devine, Mike Roberts

Video: Geoff Hoskinson
Mixed: Ryan Hizer
Mastered: Dave Klug


Rockin' at the Arena: Shinedown comes to Huntington Saturday

 photo c379a026-94cf-4516-9490-1796c4b285b4_zpsaf5dd461.jpg
photo: John Stephens/Jonathan Lipking

Multi-platinum rockers and Atlantic Records recording artists Shinedown (L-R: Zach Myers, Brent Smith, Eric Bass, Barry Kerch) will perform at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington Saturday night with Three Days Grace and P.O.D.

Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Shinedown lead singer Brent Smith has “Your Pain Is A Gift” tattooed on his left hand.

“I’ve always told people that I write songs because it’s cheaper than therapy,” Smith said in all seriousness over the phone from his home in L.A.

Since forming in Jacksonville, Florida in 2001, the hard rock band, now with 17 number one rock radio singles and four studio albums under its belt, has indeed benefited from any anguish the 35-year old has channeled to spin into certified gold or platinum records.

Smith said work never stops in Shinedown, be it songwriting or touring. For him, that’s a good thing, and the overarching reason for the band’s success.

“We headed to Europe in October of last year, got off the road in November, and we’ve just been setting up touring. Now it’s 2013 and it’s time to get this show on the road.”

Shinedown will perform at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Saturday night as part of the second leg of its 2013 U.S. tour, with co-headliners Three Days Grace, itself breaking in a new singer, and P.O.D. The band released “I’ll Follow You,” the fourth single from its 2012 record, “Amaryllis,” (which topped the Billboard Hard Rock, Rock, and Alternative charts in 2012) to radio this week.

Smith said being in demand, having so many fans, can lead to some unfair expectations, especially from press types. Following up on “Amaryllis” apparently started not too long after its release in March of 2012. The singer recalled one particular hilarious ruse doing press promoting Shinedown’s fourth album.

“The reality is we wrote 33 songs when we were in the production stages of “Amaryllis” and we actually have, if you broke it down, we could release two more records if we wanted to.

“But the other songs were so good that, I was in an interview, and “Amaryllis” had just been out for like a month and a half, and they were asking about new material already. And so the guy said ‘Do you have a new record ready to go?’ And I was like ‘What are you talking about? We just released it!’

“It’s a running joke with us in the band, when we release a record. We bet on how long it will take for the first person to ask us if we have anything new written. So it didn’t take longer than a month. And I wasn’t trying to be mean or anything, but I was just like ‘You know what? We’ve already got like, another record done,” the singer said, laughing hard. “Which, technically, we could. We could release like two more records if we wanted.

“But the songs that made it to “Amaryllis” made it for a reason, because that’s one particular place in time for us, and that album has those songs on it purposefully.”

Saying he was “super, super stoked,” to get back out on the road, Smith said the band is continually seeking to top what it’s done before. “This is the biggest production that we’ve ever put together as a band, setting up for this tour. We’re ready to go and we hope everyone’s ready for us as well.”

In mid-January, as part of the constant process of moving Shinedown forward, Smith and lead guitarist Zach Myers played an acoustic set as part of the “Hometown Throwdown” in Myers’ hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Smith, a Knoxville native, noted that all those hit singles the band has start out on the acoustic, and said playing acoustic sets are a fun challenge.

“It’s always a lot more intimate, and a lot more scary to do it like that,” he said laughing. “We’ve played in front of one person, and we’ve played in front of one hundred thousand people. But being in a very, very small room in the middle of Memphis, with all of that heritage, it’s one of those elements where, there’s 1,200 people in front of you, and they’re right up on the stage, and you’re kind of under a microscope.

“It really pushes you to a level of, whether or not you really are a songwriter, and you deserve to be on that stage, let alone any other stage. But the fans always speak, and they spoke very, very loudly that night. It was actually hard for me to even sing the set because the audience sang it so loud I couldn’t even hear myself. That’s always a plus.”

Another plus is just living healthy lifestyles on and off the road. No clich├ęd rock star partying like you hear about. Smith, who admittedly kicked a bad drug problem, and lost roughly 70 pounds in recent years, said Shinedown’s fans deserve better.

“When we’re on the road, we’re working. I think a lot of people have the misconception that when you’re on the road it’s a huge party, day in and day out. That’s just not the case. We’re a business, and we’re an organization, and we’re a machine.

“The real goal is working smarter and learning how to work smarter on the road. Sometimes, you don’t have to play four months straight before you go home. You want to make sure that you’re rested, and that you’re healthy to be able to give the audience the show that they deserve.”

This leg of its 2013 U.S. tour will see Shinedown play 32 shows between Feb. 1 and March 30, a busy schedule indeed.

“As far as the separation between the time on the road and time at home, you’re still working for the same goal, which is to heighten who Shinedown is. And I’m only talking on a personal level, because I eat, breathe, and live everything that is Shinedown. But they are two totally different animals.

“I cherish the time that I have in California, though, because I’m able to be with my girlfriend, and when we have my son out here it’s very, very special for us. But, you have to separate the two; the road is one thing, and your life at home is another.”

Smith, summing up, said he attributes Shinedown’s success to hard work.

“That’s why we’ve had the longevity that we’ve had up until now, and why we’ll continue to keep going further. We’re never going to be complacent, we’re always going to try to outdo what we’ve already done. We’ve already proven that we can work really, really hard, and we’re going to continue to do that our entire career, as long as the fans give us a career.

“Sometimes, in this business, you will see someone else’s success, and, there’s this kind of evil jealousy that happens sometimes to people. And you have to squash that really, really early. Because the reality is, whoever is at the top of their game, a lot of times they worked for it. And it takes a lot of work to stay at that level.”

Hard work and honest songs; for Shinedown, a simple formula, really.

“People connect with this band, because they know that it’s honest. I think people see that about the band. Everything we talk about is something we’ve been through. I don’t think you could make it up. It has to be real.”

Shinedown, Three Days Grace, P.O.D.
WHERE: Big Sandy Superstore Arena, 1 Civic Center Plaza, Huntington
WHEN: 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9
COST: $23.00, $38.50 (plus fees: $34.28, $50.15)
INFO: (304) 696-5990
ONLINE: http://www.shinedown.com/


VIDEO: Rozwell Kid Behind the Scenes Exclusive: "Unmacho"

We’ve been waiting for it forever (actually we’ve had it for a while!) it seems like, but next week, Rozwell Kid releases Unmacho!

Recorded with all his bros at David Klug Studio, “Van Man” has been getting favorable thumbs from press types, and Jordan Hudkins has been caught talkin’ about the 10-song sophomore effort with various outlets.

Just thought we’d throw this up here for now -- more RK to come!


Morgantown jam band Fletcher’s Grove comes to Huntington with “Appalachian Reaction”


Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch

Ryan Krofcheck will tell you he’s got what feels like an old soul.

This is an important piece to the story of how his band, Fletcher’s Grove, came to be. With its new 10-song sophomore record, “Appalachian Reaction,” Krofcheck will also tell you how important West Virginia is to what the Morgantown jam band hopes to project through its music.

Sure, there are the influences most jam bands will list; The Grateful Dead, and Phish, among other acts. But it was bonding over The Beatles and Led Zeppelin that set middle school friends Krofcheck and percussionist Matt Marion down the musical path that would later become Fletcher’s Grove.

Fletcher’s Grove performs at The V Club in Huntington Saturday, February 2.

Krofcheck, speaking over the phone from Morgantown, said the band’s origins trace back to being friends; Krofcheck and Marion at Hurricane, and lead guitarist Wes Hager and bassist Taylor Pratt at Winfield High School.

“I’ve always said being in a band is like having a girlfriend, and I’ve got four girlfriends, basically,” the singer and rhythm guitarist said, laughing hard.

“I was actually talking about this the other day, having a band from the same area, and having the same upbringing, I think it goes a long way in the end. You have those relationships built. Even our families know each other. Wes’ mom introduced me to my girlfriend, who I’ve been with for over five years now. There’s a lot of ties in there, definitely,” Krofcheck said.

“The emotions are more authentic; I like to write about folk stuff, one song on the new album is definitely the first folk song for Fletcher’s. But just to talk about stuff that happens in the region, it hits home for all of us, being from West Virginia.

“We are the Appalachian state. We want to represent West Virginia, be represented by West Virginia, and be proud to write about West Virginia. Being from the same place, wanting to write about it, sharing our influences, is exactly what we want to have with the CD and the title.”

Since forming for real around 2007, Fletcher’s Grove has become a staple on jam band festivals, and has developed a fan base that allows them to consecutively sell out venues like 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown.

As the discussion turned to his band’s new record, Krofcheck, mentioning his dad and uncles as big musical influences, talked about old ones.

“I’ve been collecting records, especially from my parents that they passed down. When I go home, if I go to Milton Flea Market, almost every time I’m like ‘I’m not going to get anything for myself,’ and end up walking out of there with fifty dollars worth of records,” he said laughing.

“The album, in its entirety, it died 40 years ago. There’s no such thing as a good album anymore, it’s all just a single. That’s one thing I love about my vinyl records. Now, when I listen to a record, I listen to an A side and a B side. And I feel like “Appalachian Reaction” is very A side, B side. The A side is the stuff we just put out, and the B side is the “Pepperoni Pizza” EP.”

While the new record may have two sides, Krofcheck said he likes the fact that Fletcher’s Grove can take on any number of genres.

“We would like to get to the point where we can play on it a little bit harder, to get to the point where we can do these full-on electronic shows, and then, the next night, do a traditional acoustic, bluegrass show. We’re definitely a genre-hopping band, and that’s something I want to continue to play on.”

He said the band takes their genre-hopping mix of funk, rock, jazz, bluegrass and folk seriously, and the guys work hard at their craft.

“We feel great. We’ve put a lot of hard work into the new CD. The first two years, we put out [“All the Way Home”] and we played that like crazy. And it’s great that those songs now are like, the classic songs. We only play one or two of those a night now. And whenever we do, everyone knows all the words, and everyone sings along. It’s great.”

That connection is amplified when playing in front of thousands of people at any of the big summer festivals the band has played over the past few years.

“I definitely think we’re a festival band,” Krofcheck admitted. “Our intentions with Fletcher’s Grove was to be a festival band. Around the same time we were forming into what we are now, we were all coming back from our first festivals.

“I was 15 when I went to my first Bonnaroo. And when I came back and realized there are hundreds of thousands of people just like me, who want to listen to music, who want to camp, and want to have a really good time. You don’t really see that all the time in Hurricane, especially when you’re in middle school or high school. You’re like, ‘Man, this sucks. I should’ve been born 40 years ago and went to Woodstock.’”

Krofcheck and the band had their own version of Woodstock a few years back at All Good, which saw their hard work pay off.

“Our goal originally, for like four years, was to be on All Good, especially since it was a West Virginia festival. We thought if we worked hard enough it would eventually happen, and it did. We got to hang out backstage with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, and there’s Les Claypool walking around, just unreal stuff.

“We’re very blessed to have the festival scene, to have all the different styles, which makes up our own music; the bluegrass, funk, jazz, the jamming and the rock. It’s a big melting pot of genres, and that allows us to play all the genres without too much criticism.”

It doesn’t seem like too many fans are complaining about Fletcher’s Grove these days. That some 20-somethings are able to capture and channel a vibe from a seemingly bygone era, and share it with fans young and old, makes it all the more sweet for Krofcheck.

“A lot of those people thought that atmosphere was dead, that it only existed in the 60’s and 70’s. We have fans who drive for hours and travel out of their way to come see us and stay for a whole weekend. That’s what everybody goes there for.”

Fletcher’s Grove w/InFormation
WHERE: The V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington (304) 781-0680
WHEN: 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2
COST: $10 (incl. copy of Appalachian Reaction)
INFO: www.vclublive.com