The Rise of Tori Kelly

by Deanna Chapman

Tori Kelly has slowly been rising to prominence in the music industry since her childhood. She began showing off her talent on shows such as Star Search and America’s Most Talented Kids. While, she didn’t win the Star Search competition, she beat out the now well-known country artist, Hunter Hayes on America’s Most Talented Kids. From a young age, she had an amazing singing ability. And this is where the ascension started for Tori Kelly. I’ve been a huge fan of her’s for quite a few years now and I’ve had the chance to see her progress and become the artist she is today.

After the child star shows, Tori tried her hand at American Idol when it was increasingly more popular than it is today. She was given the golden ticket to Hollywood, which wasn’t a far drive for her considering she grew up in Southern California. Unfortunately, she was unable to make the Top 24, but that still didn’t stop her. A few years later, I recall going to one of her shows at House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. As I’m standing there watching the show, I look over to one of the tables and see none other than Randy Jackson sitting down, enjoying a meal while Tori performed. Clearly, not making it on American Idol still helped her out.

We move on to mid–2013 when Scooter Braun (also Justin Bieber’s manager) takes the plunge to work with Tori. By this time, Tori had released her Handmade Songs EP the previous year. This time she was introduced to the big wigs over at Capitol Records and signed a deal with them. It wasn’t too long before her next EP was announced. Foreword was her first major label release and she opened up for Ed Sheeran at Madison Square Garden. Not bad, right?

Tori began playing venues like The Roxy in Los Angeles and going out on tour more often than she previously had. Fast forward to the present day and Tori is preparing to release her debut LP. This past Sunday, she performed one of her singles at the Billboard Music Awards and within the same week she ended up on Billboard as Kia’s “One To Watch.” Three singles have been released from the album, which she worked on with Pharrell, Ed Sheeran, and pop hit guru, Max Martin.

It’s been a tremendous pleasure to see Tori Kelly grow over the last several years. As soon as I found out about the album, I pre-ordered it, and I don’t pre-order music too often. So it’s safe to say, I highly recommend checking her music out. The only question left is: what’s next?

Interview: Mercies

by Deanna Chapman

We had a chance to have Josh Rheault from Mercies (vocalist/guitarist) answer some questions about the band and their new album, Blue Against Green. Check out the interview below and be sure to check out the album!

You guys had the opportunity to have a barn turned into a recording/rehearsal space. What was that process like getting it all set up and ready to go?

Ah yes The Barn, oh how I miss that place. Well The Barn has always been this structure hanging out behind my parents’ house in CT but it wasn’t until 2010, when I returned to the east coast, that it started its transformation. Sammy and I needed a place to write, record, and rehearse and the barn just seemed like the perfect space. Up until that point, it pretty much just held old farming equipment and provided some extra storage for my family. My parents were completely on board with the idea of turning this barn into a studio, I think it was their idea actually! In September of 2010 we started restoring the barn. We poured a concrete floor, sectioned it off, built a loft, insulated it, put in a fireplace and a fridge, the whole 9 yards. During this entire process Sammy and were writing and recording Three Thousand Days. It was pretty crazy recording before we had insulation or heat but we made it work. We had to run power from the house for little space heaters then unplug them when we were recording because we didn’t have enough outlets. We wanted to make a “hand made” or “organic” sounding record and we pretty much had no choice but to do that. That’s what you get when you record in a massive space with 20 foot high ceilings with only a handful of beat up microphones. It was great. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to go back there someday to write and record another record.

What’s the music scene in Connecticut like? Are there plenty of venues to catch shows at?
Music scene? In Connecticut? I wouldn’t say that there are plenty of places catch shows at but Hartford and New Haven have some pretty cool venues. Luckily we were smack in the middle of Boston and New York. Our audience where we were based were cows and tobacco fields. We were cool with that for a bit though, they never once yelled out “Free Bird.”

Did working out of a barn influence the sound of your music at all? Were the sounds you’d get out of there comparable to a regular ol’ recording studio?

The Barn was the opposite of a regular ol studio, and that’s what we loved about it. There was absolutely no isolation in there. Everything sounded massive, especially the drums. There were a lot of parts that we didn’t even have to add reverb because the natural sound of the room was so big and spacious. Our sound was purely influenced by our surroundings and for that time, it was perfect. There are plenty of cons of recording in a space like this though. If it was raining or somebody was mowing the lawn you were screwed. Stuff like that doesn’t happen in a “real” studio.

I’ve personally never attended CMJ or SXSW, is it as crazy as people say to play those?

It’s crazier. We’ve had great experiences at both of those festivals but they can be sensory overload for sure. At SXSW, you can stay out all night drinking in the streets and wander into any random bar and hear live music, its nuts. You are swimming in a sea of vans and trailers for a week. If you do end up playing it someday, don’t bring your trailer! It’s a nightmare parking that thing.

How would you say you guys have grown since the debut album? 
I think we have grown a lot since Three Thousand Days. Our writing has become a lot more intentional. In the “early days” any skeleton of an idea kind of just morphed into a song, it didn’t really matter to us if there were 18 chorus or no choruses, not that that was a bad thing, it was just so different this time around. The way we wrote this record was more thought out, resulting (hopefully) in more mature songs. Also, Blue Against Green was written as a three piece so that changed things up quite a bit. Having Jordan on board during the process was great, he balanced us out and would be sure to let us know when we were relying on old tricks or taking the easy way out of something. He also knows theory really well and can pick up and play any instrument immediately, legit.

I really enjoy the vibe of this album, who are you most influenced by?

We are both heavily influenced by music of the 50’s and 60’s. Not only the song writing but how the records actually sound. We are drawn to recordings that are void of studio tricks, auto tune, and that are beat detectived (that’s definitely not a word). I’d say I’m most influenced by John Lennon and The Beatles but am also huge fans of artists like the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Chet Atkins, Gene Pitney. As for as bands that are around now Sammy and I both love Grizzly Bear, Local Natives, Father John Misty, and The National. All those band’s records sound incredible and are super inspiring to us.

After moving to Los Angeles, have you seen any changes in the way you guys do things like writing or recording?

Planning has been a huge adjustment that we have had to make from relocating to LA. Back east, if I had an idea at 2AM I could just wake up and record it no problem. Being here in has forced us to work out and develop ideas on our own. Since we were usually paying by the hour for a studio somewhere we really had to make the most of our time together. I think it was good for us though. Sometimes The Barn was too convenient.

Is there anything else you’d like the readers and fans to know about this new release and your upcoming show in LA?
 If you come to The Satellite Friday April 3 you can pick up a hard copy of Blue Against Green for your CD Walkman! Seriously though, whether you buy, stream, or download our music, thank you for listening! Any support is greatly appreciated!

Lakers Free Agents: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

by Deanna Chapman

Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin looked promising when he first joined the Lakers roster. With Steve Nash out off and on the first season and no where to be found this season, he had a chance to be the point guard the Lakers desperately needed. It’s no surprise that the Lakers have yet again had an injury-plagued season. Lin has missed a couple games, but he’s still played more games than everyone but Ed Davis. However, late in the season he has shown some signs of the Jeremy Lin we all know and enjoy watching.

I’m a bit torn about whether or not the Lakers should keep Lin or not. He’s been fairly inconsistent this season and has now been coming off the bench while the rookie, Jordan Clarkson, gets a chance to start. The Lakers just might not be the right fit for Lin, but hopefully if the Lakers do keep him around, they can find a good way to incorporate him into the offense more consistently.

Carlos Boozer

I had a feeling the Lakers would obtain Boozer in the off season as soon as I heard Gasol was heading to the Bulls. It’s safe to say that his game has been fairly average for a veteran big man. He spent the first portion of the season starting games, but ultimately only started in 26 (out of the 66 he’s played at the time of writing this). That’s the same amount as Jeremy Lin. However, it’s good to have some bench players with decent stats. Although, decent is a very strong word considering that’s not how the Lakers have been playing this season.

Overall, I don’t think the Lakers should keep Boozer around after this season. It’s great to have some veterans on the team, but the team has plenty of those already. The Lakers should continue to develop the younger players and see who they can get in free agency that would be a more effective player on the team. Besides, once Randle is back on the court, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the younger big man and allow him to develop? Lakers may have too many players at the PF and C positions if they keep Boozer around.

Ed Davis

Stay. Stay. Stay. Despite being on a losing team, Ed Davis seems to be one of the few players who will give it everything he’s got every single game. It may not be fair for Davis to be on a team this bad because he could be great on a team that would surround him with better talent, but for selfish reasons, I absolutely want him to stay with the Lakers. Out of everyone on the team, he has the highest PER at 20.4 [1]. There isn’t even anyone else on the team above 20. The Lakers could really use a guy like Davis on the team for the long term I believe. He’s energetic, defends the rim, and still has room for improvement. Since he’s only been in the league four years, he has plenty of time left to perform at the current level he’s at. Of the three free agents, I hope Ed Davis stays more so than Boozer and Lin.

  1. Stats from ESPN  ↩

Read Later: Pocket Vs. Instapaper

by Deanna Chapman

I’ve been thinking about talking about technology as well as music for quite some time now. And I decided I would start with another topic I have quite the passion for, reading. Pocket and Instapaper, for those who may not know, are services and apps you can use to store articles away for later reading. I found myself having less and less time to read articles in the moment I’d come across them and found out about these services. You can, however, easily get carried away with saving hundreds of articles and never reading through all of them. I do my best to stay on top of it and at least catch up on weekends or nights when I have spare time. Anyway, enough of that. Here are my thoughts (and what I think are some key features) on Pocket and Instapaper and why I ultimately ended up sticking with Instapaper. 

Pocket

Key Features

  • Share with friends
  • Extension
  • Better media playback
  • Tags

Pocket was the first “read later” service I had stumbled upon. And even though I used Instapaper more, I decided to go back to Pocket for a couple months. I found that certain things were better such as media playback and saving videos in general. They also had a share with friends feature where you could email an article directly to someone and they have recently enhanced it to allow you to have a conversation with said person. I never used the feature, so it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. Overall, I think Pocket is great, but didn’t have a few things that I really enjoy with Instapaper. I do, however, see how this is great for people who like to share articles with friends and family. I mainly share articles via Twitter and both do that job well.

Pocket provides an app for Mac and iOS. When I initially used Pocket, I had the Mac app open and found I didn’t like having too many apps going at once so this second time around I stuck with using the web view in Chrome. However, I used the iOS app quite a bit to save articles as I’d browse Twitter and Reeder. The extension wasn’t quite as fast as the new one Instapaper has implemented, but it did give you the option to add tags to what you were saving. Overall, I found Pocket would be better if I was using it with others to send articles back and forth.

Instapaper 

Key Features

  • Speed reading
  • Article read time
  • Fast extension
  • Folders

When Instapaper was first introduced to me, I had used Pocket here and there but never really stuck with it, so I decided to give this one a shot and it stuck with me a bit more. Now I use it on a daily basis. In the web view and in the mobile app, you get a nice clean view. You can make some simple changes to the background color for easier reading in different lights, but other than that, there’s not much customization. One downside is that sometimes pictures and videos don’t parse as well in Instapaper as they do in Pocket. In the web app, Instapaper will also give you an estimated read time for each article, which I love because then I can look and see which articles I can quickly get through and which will take up more of my time before even clicking on them.

On iOS, I’m currently running a beta version of Instapaper and a new feature for testing is speed reading. I’ve tried it out a couple of times so far and really enjoy it. You can adjust the speed that the words appear and it’s a great way to quickly get through articles. It even gives you the ability to pause it and resume later if you need to. The extension has also been approved and is extremely quick. I love the fact that you can move articles into a specific folder right when it saves. Instead of a read time listed on the iOS app, you get dots that appear in the bottom right corner to show the length of an article (i.e. 3 dots, is a fairly short article, while one with 6 or more is longer). With Instapaper, I liked the idea of folders more so than tags. There’s not really a reason for this, I just think it looks cleaner with how the folders are implemented in the web and iOS apps.Ultimately, I’ve been greatly enjoying the improvements Instapaper has been making and will be sticking with this service until I have some reason not to (which I don’t imagine will happen any time soon).

Making Of: Voice & Verse Podcast

by Deanna Chapman

It’s been a while since our last Making Of feature, but we’re back now with Evan Lucy, who hosts the Voice & Verse Podcast. If you’re into artists like Andrew McMahon and Dashboard Confessional, this is definitely a podcast you should check out. Read the interview below to get to know more about Evan and the podcast! 

Before we get started on the podcast questions, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get into the music industry and what do you do other than Voice & Verse?

I suppose I sort of fell into the industry. I started playing music when I was 13, and soon thereafter realized I was likely not going to be a part of the next great rock band. I was always good at writing throughout school, so it made sense to marry the two and start writing about music. From there, I went to the University of Missouri to study journalism and started writing reviews and doing interviews for the student newspaper. One thing led to another, and now my work has appeared everywhere from Billboard and Spin to Alternative Press and Rhapsody.

My full-time job isn’t writing about music – actually, it’s quite the opposite. I work for a digital fundraising consultancy, primarily working with political candidates and nonprofit organizations, but I still do a lot of music writing on the side in addition to hosting Voice & Verse and my other podcast, Simpler Sound.

What made you decide to start Voice & Verse and how did you come up with the name?

Talking to artists is always fun, but most of the question I have aren’t necessarily the most interesting for someone to read in a feature story. As a musician myself, I’ve always been fascinated with songwriting. Naturally, that led me to want to know more about how my favorite songs took shape, from the initial spark of an idea to the finished product. So I decided I would start a podcast to have a platform to ask these questions. It started as a bit of a selfish endeavor, just solely a way for me to scratch the itch, but it’s evolved into something that I think a lot of people seem to enjoy.

The first episode taped was with Nick Santino, formerly of A Rocket To The Moon, in November 2013, and the show launched in January 2014 with Joel from Good Charlotte as my first guest. The name was actually the hardest part. I probably went through 50 or so names before finally settling on Voice & Verse. I’ve always been a big fan of alliteration, and it just sounded right.

There’s been a lot of speculation on how people should and shouldn’t record podcasts, especially in the tech industry. What is your set up like to record and edit your shows?

I’ll admit my setup is pretty primitive, but it works for me. Most of my taping is done over Skype, which I then pull into GarageBand to edit. In terms of microphones, I like the Snowball, made by Blue. It’s a versatile little mic at a good price point, and it’s also compact enough to travel with whenever I have the opportunity to tape with a guest in person.

How do you go about choosing who you will interview? Do you seek out guests or just record episodes as you get the chance to talk to musicians and others within the industry?

I knew it was important to start strong out of the gate with great guests people would love to hear from. Fortunately, I’ve been able to build a great rolodex of band members, managers, and publicists over the years, including a lot of amazing folks who were willing to help out and be my guinea pigs early on – people like Joel, Brendon from Panic! At The Disco, Mike from MxPx, and Will from Cartel. Booking guests is a combination of reaching out to artists specifically and sorting through pitches to see who would be interesting. Plus, it’s a great way for me to talk to artists and songwriters I’ve somehow never been able to over the years.

Can you give us any info on who some future guests will be?

Oh, giving away secrets! I’ve got the next five or six episodes planned out and don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say I’m looking forward to taping with John from The Maine. The new Maine album is really great. I’m also excited about chatting with Alex from All Time Low in the coming weeks about their new record.

Hopefully, we’ll be doing a lot of 10-year retrospective episodes this year, too – chronicling classic albums from a decade ago. There are so many great albums from 2005, like Acceptance’s Phantoms, The Receiving End of Sirens’ Between The Heart and The Synapse, Thrice’s Vheissu, and Panic! At The Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. I imagine you might see episodes centered around a few of those albums in the coming months as well.

Do you have any plans to change up the podcast in the future?

I think the podcast will be an ever-evolving thing. One thing I’d really like to accomplish is to highlight the amazing songwriters who aren’t necessarily performers. I recently had Sam Hollander, who was hugely instrumental in the late ’00s emo/pop-punk scene, on as a guest, and it was one of our best episodes.

Being a professional songwriter is tough work, and often times these musicians have the greatest stories. Many of them have even made it a full-time gig after being in a band for years – someone like Tim Pagnotta from Sugarcult, who just worked on the incredible new Walk The Moon album and has also written hits for Neon Trees. I want to include as many of them as possible and also really diversify in terms of genres. I would love a scenario where I can bring on a country writer one week, a metal musician the next, and a pop artist immediately after. I really want everyone.

What are some of the goals you have for the podcast? Any certain number of episodes you’d like to reach or any guest you’d love to have on the show?

My only real goal is to keep having fun with it. There’s so much to learn about songwriting – no two people go about it the same way, and that’s the beauty of the creative process. The show will break 50 episodes by the end of the year, which will be a huge accomplishment considering I knew nothing about podcasting going into this.

In terms of dream guests, I’d of course love to sit down with Mark Hoppus or Tom DeLonge; Blink-182 was the reason I started playing music, so to see it all come full circle would be incredible. Ed Robertson from Barenaked Ladies is another songwriter who’s work I’ve long admired, as is Aaron Marsh from Copeland, who has a very intimate approach to the craft. Butch Walker, too. What a songwriter.

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know about the podcast?

Thank you so much for listening. I had no idea anyone would ever care about this, so to see people excited about nerding out with me over songwriting has been very fulfilling. You can stay up to date with the show at voiceandversepodcast.com and on Twitter @voiceversepod. Feel free to send in suggestions for guests you’d like to hear on the show, too! I’m all ears. And thanks for the great questions; this was fun.

Interview: Punk Out

by Deanna Chapman

We had the chance to ask Michael McCarron some questions about his non-profit organization, Punk Out. Check out the interview to learn more about the organization and how they’re helping to support the LGBTQ community!

Let’s start with a couple details for those who may not have heard of the organization. Who are you and what is Punk Out? 
Punk Out is a non-profit LGBTQ organization based out of Philadelphia. We connect and support queer musicians and fans through music. We encourage closeted musicians to come out, when safe, and to be visible and proud of who they are. We provide a forum for artists to discuss topics concerning identity, inclusion, and inspiration. We believe an open dialogue is imperative to fostering a more inclusive music scene. We work to end the homeless queer-youth epidemic that is sweeping our country. We shine a light on musicians who embody the spirit of equality.

What made you decide to start the organization? Did you start it on your own or did you have help?
I started Punk Out because I’m gay and I love moshing, dancing, and just generally listening to music. And you know what? Turns out there are countless others in our scene who fall under the queer umbrella…including musicians. Artists are in a unique position: they have a platform and can reach so many people, a large segment of which are impressionable teenagers. We leverage that platform in order to spread our message of equality and hope. But we also are keenly aware that queer musicians, just like their fans, need the same support networks and message of equality and hope. We strive to be that support network.

Do you have staff members? And if so, who are they and what are their roles?
Punk Out is a team-effort and we have outstanding people doing amazing work. Brian Rentas (Operations Manager) and Marie Scarsella (Editor-in-Chief) handle day-to-day operations. Jessica Weber, Brandon Schaller, Kat Hamilton, and Zac Lomas are the folks who create our great content.

In what ways do you try to get the word out about Punk Out?
We work to drive conversation surrounding queer topics in the music scene and work in our local communities to improve the lives of queer people. We try to be more than just an advocacy group. We want what we are doing in our local communities to get our name out there.

How can anyone interested help support the cause and the organization?
Talk to anyone within earshot about your identity, inspiration, and yearning for inclusion. Be visible, no matter what you identify as. Oh, and check out our “Ways to Help” page on our website.

How important is it to have support for the LGBTQ community and have people understand what it means to identify with that?
From a human perspective, it’s all about being nice and fostering that inclusive community where everyone feels comfortable being themselves and enjoying music. From a band’s perspective, its economically advantageous to voice your support of the queer community. From a queer individual’s perspective, that sense of togetherness and empathy can save a life; it means the world.

How would you like to see Punk Out grow and what do you hope it will become throughout the course of this year? We would like to take over the world, Pinky and the Brain style. You know, leave the anti-gay bigots shaking in their boots. We want to listen to bands who fight for equality, who spread the message of inclusiveness, and who start conversations about difficult topics like homophobia, homelessness, and bullying.

Where can people go to find more info and what social media sites can they find Punk Out on?
Our website is PunkOut.org. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at PunkOutLGBT. We love talking. Come say “hi.”

Any last words you’d like to say about the organization or anything I didn’t hit on?
40% of homeless kids identify as LGBTQ. I hope that figure startles you. Get out there and start talking.

Interview: D6 Merchandise

by Deanna Chapman

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with D6 Merchandise, it’s a Philadelphia based merchandise company that works with bands and brands in the local scene. The company is run solely by Lauren Altman and she was kind enough to answer some questions about the company. You can check out the site here and read the interview below!

Where did the idea for a merchandise company come from?
My dad spent twenty years in the promotional marketing industry (his companies would supply clients with promotional items, such as pens, t-shirts, hats, etc.). As I became more interested in the music industry, I saw that the resources I had fit the need that all artists need merchandise. In 10th grade, I started emailing bands that I would find on PureVolume to see if they needed merchandise. Nothing ever came of my solicitations until I got to college and started meeting people who were in bands.

How did you come up with the name D6?
The name for D6 comes from a very long and complicated inside joke with my friends from high school. I won’t get too much into the details, but basically, that’s what we called our group of friends: D6. A few weeks after we named ourselves that, I knew that I had to give a name to this merchandise company idea, so to honor my friends, I called it D6 Merchandise.

Do you have plans to branch out from the local Philly scene and work with brands and bands from other areas?
That’s a tough question. It’s one that I think about a lot. On one hand, it’s nice to know everyone that I work with and I can have a strong sense of community with them. On the other hand, every company wants and needs to expand, and I don’t want to limit myself. I currently work with a few out-of-town bands, such as Cloud District from New York, but other than that, it’s pretty hard to branch into other areas. It seems like bands in every city can either use Customink, or know a local guy who does merchandise. So at the end of the day, I like sticking to what I know, which is the Philly basement scene.

How do you go about choosing who you will work with and if their merch idea is viable?
I will work with anyone who reaches out to me to ask for a quote. I feel that my prices are pretty competitive with other suppliers, and that’s how I continue to grow my portfolio of clients. Although most artists need t-shirts, I try to accommodate every merchandise request as best as I can. For example, Kelley Plante recently came to me and told me that she didn’t see herself as being a t-shirt type of artist. So I listened to all of her ideas, and we worked together, and she has some really cool merchandise designed by Julia Jackson coming out soon.

You have already worked with a ton of clients, how do you balance out the company with your band, Plainview, and being at school?
It’s pretty hard balancing a company, school, being in a very active band, and I just recently started interning at Ruba Club Studios in Northern Liberties. Sometimes I’ll be so caught up in school and work, and I’ll realize that it’s been a week since I replied to someone’s email about pricing. To balance it all I’ve been using the application Evernote to organize everything that I’m working on. I have a folder just for D6 Merchandise, and I have a separate note for each artist that I constantly update with pricing, artwork, and the status of the order. It helps me keep things running quickly and smoothly.

Do you order all of your merch from one place or does it vary based on what the merch is?
I order the merchandise from a variety of different places depending on what the item is. T-shirts are the most common item that I make, however, and I use a factory in North Wales called Stitch Graphics to print the shirts. They are such nice people, and they’re great at what they do.

Where do you think D6 will be a year from now?
A year from now, I think D6 will have a much broader client-base. Ideally, I will still maintain my close connection with all the artists I work with and I won’t lose the sense of community I have with them. I think a year from now, D6 will still be the same as it is today, but it will be more organized and streamlined. Eventually, I’d like to bring on a partner to split up the some of the work. In the year to come, I have a bunch of cool ideas up my sleeve, and I’m excited to get them started!

What’s been the main thing you’ve enjoyed about having started D6? What has the overall experience been like?
What I enjoy the most is the opportunity to work with a wide range of people. I really enjoy working with people and being able to help them find a solution to a problem. And I like being able to give back to the people I work with, which is why I try to promote their shows, tours, and music on my Facebook page and website. The overall experience has been a lot of fun! I love that I get to work with bands that I really love and respect. It’s been a blast, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Any last words about the company?
I just want to give a few shout-outs and thank yous to the following people for all of their help, creativity, and loyalty to D6 Merchandise: Doug Chesnulovitch, Meghan McGovern, Julia Jackson, Richie Straub, Tom Coyle, Deanna Chapman, my band Plainview, all of the bands and companies that I have worked with, and everyone else who has supported this company from the beginning. I wouldn’t be here without all of you, so thank you.

Getting To Know Jeremy & The Harlequins

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by Deanna Chapman

We recently had the awesome chance to interview Jeremy Fury of Jeremy & the Harlequins. The band released their album, American Dreamer, and had singles released with Nylon and the Wall Street Journal. You can get to know more about the band below. Hope you enjoy!

Hey! Why don’t we start off with a little bit about the band – where are you all from originally?

Stevie and I grew up in Ohio.  Craig is from Long Island.  Patrick is from New Jersey.  And our newest addition, Bobby Lechner, is from Erie, PA.  We are based out of New York now.

How did you guys meet and ultimately end up forming the band?

Craig and I had been working together for the past couple years, but the sound never clicked how we wanted.  Stevie, my brother, was living in Paris at the time.  This was a couple years ago.  Anyway, he came back to visit the US for a few weeks.  In that time, we started working on the songs that eventually became the album  American Dreamer.  Craig met Patrick only a day before we started pre-production on the album.  The whole process was a long gestation period with a quick birth.  

Upon first hearing your music, I got a vibe similar to that of the Arctic Monkeys mixed with Buddy Holly. Simply just some good ol’ rock ’n’ roll. Can you let us know some of your influences?

Musically?  Gene Vincent, T-Rex, John Lennon, Roy Orbison, The Crystals, Phil Spector stuff.  A lot of our influences are visual as well.  We pull a lot from the mid 70’s take on 50’s nostalgia.  Also, David Lynch, John Waters, etc.

Being a band in New York, there are a ton of venues to play. What has been your favorite one so far and why?

Bowery Electric has been a lot of fun as a smaller venue.  They’ve been having these parties we’ve either been guest playing at or hosting called Sally Can’t Dance.  They’re great.  You feel like you’re in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  As for larger venues, the new Rough Trade is pretty cool.  The sound is great and it ain’t half bad being able to buy some vinyl after sound check.

With the release of your debut album, are there any plans to tour?

We will be soon.  Right now we’ve been playing mainly on the east coast and mid west.  There is a chance we might be in the UK very soon.  Fingers crossed.

What was it like writing the album in just one week?

It was a little overwhelming, but a lot of fun.  There was never any time to over think anything, so it was liberating in that way.  But it was also very intense because we knew we had such a short amount of time to do it in.  It wasn’t so much a choice to do it that way as it was the only viable option at the time.  The whole being a band thing kind of snowballed out of that great experience in making the album.  Had we not done that and done it in that way, I don’t know where we’d be.

Interview: Modern Vinyl

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by Deanna Chapman

Modern Vinyl was kind enough to do another interview with us. We previously talked to them about how they started the Modern Vinyl Podcast, which you can find here. This time they’re here to talk to us about their live podcast coming up with Washed Up Emo. Check out the interview below and find tickets for the live podcast here

You guys are closing in on 50 episodes in the next couple of months. How does it feel to have that many and is there anything special you’ll be doing to celebrate that accomplishment?

James: Chris and I have been doing this since mid-April 2014. It’s wild to know we’ve reached 50 episodes in less than a year and that we’ve kept it interesting (and somehow increased our listener base). I think we’ll be posting the live podcast online as Episode 50. As for celebration between the three of us (hey, Mike, you too!), I don’t know if my mom wants to read about that.

Chris: Yeah, the hope is most certainly to post the big live show as episode 50, but we’ll have some work to do to get to that point. If we have to hold it for ceremonial purposes, that’s cool with me. Our celebration will be pretty simple. We’ll cause at least $10,000 of damage to our hotel room and possibly burn down the entire establishment. If that’s our last episode before heading off to the “big house,” then so be it.

Mike: It’s pretty crazy to think we’ve been keeping this going for that many episodes. There are a lot of podcasts options out there in the market, so it really warms my heart to know that we are building an audience and that people want to hear anything we have to say. As for celebration, i know for sure at least something is gonna catch fire when we celebrate episode 50.

What made you decide to do a joint, live podcast with Washed Up Emo?

James: We were always planning to make this a two-act event. I know I’ve been a huge fan of WUE for a while now, so I was stoked to see that come together. The planning impetus was all on Chris, though.

Chris: I reached out to Tom from Washed Up Emo and he responded within about 30 seconds that he was definitely down. His help and enthusiasm has been a big key in the entire process, as the venue selection and planning took quite a bit out of me. Do bands really schedule runs of more than one date? The process is kind of difficult! Anyways, we respect Washed Up Emo a ton and he’s lined up a typically excellent lineup for his side. The Promise Ring, Texas Is The Reason and Thursday? Woah.

Mike: We needed cool points for the show and who has more cool point than Washed Up Emo. Those guys know how to put on an event, so it’s really awesome to be sharing this show with them.

Will all of your hosts be attending despite living in different states?

James: Yep! This is the first time the three of us have met in person, and despite my penchant for meeting strange girls from the Internet in real life, I’m kinda nervous. But, I’m actually stoked that I’m reportedly taller than Mike, so I’ve crushed him in both that and the looks department. I’m unofficially the best looking host on this podcast.

Chris: And I’m taller than both of them. So if the ladies dig that, hit me up. We’ve never met before besides Skype and it certainly should be interesting to spend 4 days together. This will either strengthen the podcast for the long run and finally give us real time to talk its future or it will break us at our core, causing a fight and AT LEAST $15,000 worth of hotel damage.

Mike: I have a long journey ahead of me for this event. I am the Frodo Baggins of the group, Chris is my Samwise, and of course, James is Sméagol. I’m really excited to see how meeting these guys in person really goes. I wanna film it, so i can catch all the awkwardness. We’re like a long distance relationship, it’s clearly not gonna work out for us.

Chris: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lrhg725FFH1qj7jqh.gif

How did you go about finding a venue for it and picking who would guest on it?

James: The venue choice was all Chris, even though we had all agreed New York was the best location to host the live podcast (well, maybe for Chris and I — poor Mike has to trek out from California). As for our guests, we went with Zack Zarrillo and Thomas Nassiff from Bad Timing Records. Zack and I have been Internet friends for a while and I’ve been contributing to PropertyOfZack, so I was well aware of all he’s doing. I met Thomas for like ten seconds once at a Modern Baseball show, and unfortunately, I’ll probably never be taller than him. Modern Vinyl has extensively covered Bad Timing releases in the past — Chris actually interviewed these guys when they first dropped BTR-001 in July 2013 — so we’re stoked to grab their insight from a different vantage point.

Washed Up Emo has an incredible lineup of guests, so if you hate us, you can tough our hour out and go see a panel of emo legends for $5.

Chris: The venue was a long process. We originally wanted to just do a house show, but with timing, it was all about booking a secure, solid place before those dates became unavailable. But saying that, I’m very happy that it ended up being Union Hall. Shannon, from the venue, has been so very helpful and Chris Farren had done some live podcasts there, which gave me the initial idea. Bad Timing just seemed like a natural fit. Our podcast can be really weird and chaotic at moments, but those guys can hang.

Mike: I just sat back and watched Chris do all the venue stuff. I’m all the way in California, the golden state for babes, books, and Belding, i don’t know much about NYC venues. From what i’ve seen in the pictures and my stalking on google maps, the venue looks lovely. Good job, Chris!

What can people expect from the live show? Will it still be recorded and posted for those who can’t attend?

James: We’re adapting some long-standing podcast features for the live format. I don’t think we can really disclose the details of what those will be, but I can assure you it’s going to rule. We’ve had a lot of fun tossing these ideas around for months. There will be a few live giveaways from our friends at Mondo, The Native Sound and Singles Club — as well as a hand-curated prize from each of us. There should be some Modern Vinyl gear for sale, as well. I think the kissing booth is being constructed in Chris’ apartment right now, so that might make an appearance. This will definitely be recorded (no Skype issues this time!) and posted later for our satellite listeners.

Mike: This event will be like the con for vinyl nerds, only on a much much much smaller scale. Maybe some trades will go on? Some cool games and inappropriate storytelling? Live version of the MV theme song?! The list goes on.

Chris: Our A-side topic will be a returning favorite feature (at least for myself). If you’re attending, just make sure you bring your tuxedo. Our Side B will be a longtime game we play, adapted again for that live setting. And we’re actually still in the process of locking everything down. And of course I’ll be preparing at least 40 minutes of open mic material. Wait……we only get like 45-50 minutes……

The kissing booth is just about done, but it’s going to be very strange when I carry it onto the Amtrak. Mike is also going to be setting up a tax booth, for those who still need to do their taxes and pay “the man.”

Mike: Did we mention the kissing booth? I’m single btw.

Are there any more plans for future live podcasts?

James: I think once we get a feel for how this first one goes, we can totally see if a second is in the cards. For now, it’s still hard to coordinate our schedules — I’m in school, Chris teaches, and Mike has a full-time job and is in a band — but I’m sure we can make something work if we really wanted.

Chris: If this one goes well, sure thing. Modern Vinyl does alright and I’ll fly these dudes out as long as people attend. Maybe an annual thing?

Mike: Anything is possible. Granted we are pretty busy people, live events are a blast and would allow us to bring the show to the people who listen to it. I would definitely want to do more of these.

With the live podcast and episode 50 coming up, will there be any changes made to the show or will you just keep doing what you’ve been doing?

James: Honestly, we always change things up already — or try to, at least. If you were to go back to the first few episodes (specifically before Mike joined the team as a permanent member), you’d probably hate listening. We don’t want that feeling to ever happen again, because podcasts require an attention that can’t really be taken for granted and neglected. We try to be funny, and sometimes it’s horrendous, but for the most part, we try to create a great conversation about music on each episode that’s accessible and real — with enough surprises to keep the hits coming and the responses positive.

Chris: Yeah, I think it’s just going to be striking that balance between our weird humor and actual music discussions. We like to be well researched but entertaining. We’re currently running a “Revisiting Kanye” series, where we’re looking at each of his albums in depth and I think that’s a sign of things to come. Long term audio projects interspersed with our typical episodes. And of course interviews.

Mike: We’re always throwing new ideas out there with this podcast. The nature of the show kind of allows us to do whatever we want creatively, which is amazing to me. James and Chris started a great platform for this show, granted it was unlistenable until i joined. They still did something, right? I know we have a lot of cool ideas in the old idea bank that we are going to roll out this year.

Is there a goal for how many shows you’d like to do?

James: I don’t see why we couldn’t shoot for the triple digits by next year at this rate. I’ll probably be 85 writing for Modern Vinyl so provided podcast technology is still in vogue, we could possibly have thousands of episodes. Realistically though, 100 total episodes by this time next year?

Chris: Yeah, I would think 100 would be a legitimate goal by year 2. With interviews picking up, we’ve really been posting a ton of content. On top of the normal podcast, we also have special episodes called “Random Pull” which features more MV writers talking music. I would check those out if you haven’t.

Mike: Hell, we could run into the quadruple digits.

Chris: I think a legitimate goal is a million by the end of 2015. Call me crazy.

Any last words about the live podcast?

James: Kissing booth.

Chris: $20,000 in hotel damage.

Mike: I’m single btw.

Forever In My Songs #3: Love Your Friends, Die Laughing

by Carly Wedding

When I was in high school, you could have asked anyone who was even remotely familiar with me what my favorite band was, and you would get one of two answers: Man Overboard or The Wonder Years. The difference between those two bands is I still have expectations from The Wonder Years. After respectfully gaining entrance into the pop punk scene with The Upsides, The Wonder Years released not one, but two killer albums; albums exploring relevant and reflective topics like mental illnesses and social issues. Sometime between Get Stoked On It and Suburbia, Soupy fed his brain a strict diet of spinach, as his lyrics became much stronger. He abandoned telling tales of ninjas and Kool Aid and traded them for metaphors and allusions to beat poets. The band clearly matured in the past few years, which is something I can’t say for Man Overboard.

Before We Met and Real Talk are both nearly perfect albums. As a teenager, I found that they resonated with me. I thoroughly enjoyed The Human Highlight Reel, too. But hearing about perfect girls, shitty girls, and fantasy girls album after album gets old. Man Overboard found a formula that worked for them early in their career, but they never progressed from it. Save for a few serious songs – “Al Sharpton” and “Atlas” being two of their best – most of their tracks are about trivial relationships, which is something they should have retired after Real Talk. But the point of this isn’t to bash Man Overboard; rather, it’s the opposite.

I’ve always listened to pop punk, but I didn’t know too many people who were interested in it until I was in high school. Honestly, though, it didn’t matter if they liked pop punk or not; I forced it on them anyway. Someone once told me, “You’re the reason why people in Southern Maryland like pop punk.” Maybe I’m conceited, but it’s damn true. I advocated for pop punk like it was illegal. I can’t tell you how many pop punk mix CDs I made for people who would have been content listening to nothing but John Mayer and Jack Johnson for the rest of their lives. Truthfully, most of those people probably never listened to my mixes. But I don’t mind. Out of all of my friends who received my digital compilations of Allister, I Call Fives, Joyce Manor, and Title Fight, there’s only one person whose passion for pop punk would eventually match mine: Anthony Erwin.

I can recall exactly where I was when I met Anthony for the first time. We were at a joint birthday party for some kids from our high school. The kids had gotten our high school’s resident pop punk band, Collapse the Night, to play at their party. While I was a party guest, Anthony was a musician, having recently joined as the band’s drummer. In retrospect, it’s pretty funny. When he joined the band, he didn’t even like New Found Glory. He was into Iron Maiden, Metallica, and AC/DC much more than he ever thought he’d be into Blink-182 or Sum 41. But that’s exactly why we’re friends: he was a bright, open-minded freshman playing in my buddy’s band, and he seemed like someone who would appreciate my mix CDs.

I added him on Facebook and we started talking a little bit over the summer. I sent him Mediafire links to Before We Met and Real Talk, and he said he liked them. When school started again, we ended up in the same art history class. I don’t believe in God, but that occurrence is seriously the result of a higher power. When he entered the classroom on the first day, he sat at a table by himself. He was one of the few sophomores in a class of seniors, so I don’t blame him. He was a familiar face, though, and I wanted to get to know him more, so I told him to sit at my table for the rest of the year. I’ve made a plethora of bad decisions throughout my life, but that was one of the best ones.

The day just started, ‘cause I’m up with my old friends.

My entrance into the music world didn’t truly start until I met Anthony. Before we became friends, I hardly ever went to shows since I had no one to go with. Once we both got our licenses, we started going to a couple of shows every month. Coincidentally, the first show we went to together was our – and Man Overboard’s – first Warped Tour. He became (and still would be, if he weren’t enlisted in the Marines) my go-to concert buddy. It didn’t matter if he knew all of the bands or none of the bands; he’d be there. I never had to drag him, either; he’d willingly attend, because we both knew that even if the bands sucked, we’d still have a good time.

I just got the nerve to get in the cage.

I owe my writing to him, too. If he hadn’t been so persistent, I wouldn’t have started writing non-academic pieces. He had faith in the abilities I didn’t even know I possessed. I knew I had a complete understanding of basic grammar and punctuation rules, but I never thought I could write pieces that make people feel things. Just last week, he told me that my writing is getting “really damn good” and he has no doubt it will take me places. I’m honored to be friends with someone so encouraging and genuine as he is.

A day’s worth of bitching goes down the drain when you lay in my bed and pick my brain.

He’s so passionate about important topics that it’s almost impossible for me to be bothered by trivial things when we hang out. He taught me not to worry about the things I can’t change and just let things be. Other people should be thankful for that, too; I’ve stopped wishing bad things on the people who’ve fucked me over.

I’m finally at ease.

Anthony’s one of those people that everyone absolutely adores, and my grandfather is no different. My grandfather served in the military during the 1950s, so he respects those who have taken his place. He once told me, “I can sleep at night knowing people like him are protecting the country.” I concur. Anthony truly assists in making the world a safer and beautiful place. While he’s being stationed all over the United States training to defend the country, I’m driving up and down the east coast defending pop punk. And no matter where we end up, we’ll love our friends and die laughing.