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Cloak/Dagger interview

photo courtesy of John Irish.Blood

Did you already know that Cloak/Dagger has a new album out called "Lost Art"? Did you already know it kicks as much ass as its predecessor? If not more. But wait, it gets even better? Did you know we have an interview with Jason Mazzola, the vocalist of Cloak/Dagger? Guess you already did seeing as it's the title of this blog entry. Anyway, read on...

PRT: Okay, let’s start with an easy one… punk, hardcore or garage?
Jason: Punks not dead, hardcore still lives and we've played some garages before. I would say hardcore kids playing punk that listen to garage sums it up.

PRT: Your latest album is called “Lost Art” and it does indeed sound unlike what you hear most of the time these days. So where exactly did we go wrong?
Jason: I think people forgot about doing what they want to do in life and are too concerned with a future that might not be waiting for them. We always want whats next and there is something to admire about fuck ups that live the way they want to in the present even if it gets you nowhere. Musically people want to make as much money and appeal to as many people as possible. Punk, hardcore and art wants to push the envelope but push it just enough to still play it safe. That title is more remember when you didn't care about the future, remember when you wanted to stay young until you died, we do so you can live through us as a reminder of what not to be.

PRT: At the same time it sounds different from your previous album as well. At some points this one made me think of Marked Men or John Reis. Was it a conscious decision to move a little in that direction as well or was that just what came out?
Jason: We all love the Marked Men and it breaks my heart we didn't play with them when we had the chance. I love how they walk the fine line between punk and hardcore with how powerful there songs are and live they were great when I did see them. Collin has always come from a John Reis school of thought and Matt our new bass player is big on Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes and is a guitar player so that definitely added a new element to things. We never planned anything direction wise but we didn't want to write the same record twice and things just came out the way they did.

PRT: I think that if your album would’ve come out in the late 80s, nobody would’ve been the wiser and I mean that as a true compliment. It made me wonder though whether your fans tend to be a little older or are there still lots of young kids who are getting into this kinda sound?
Jason: We have a good mix of older and younger kids that are into us but I would say that we have a majority of late 20 early 30 somethings that get what we are doing. I definitely take that as a compliment. A lot of those recordings from the 80's can capture the urgency of the songs and end up sounding timeless.

PRT: I really like how the songs sound like they were slapped hastily together at first glance but once you dive in you keep on discovering new things all the time. How difficult is it to keep things sounding basic yet intricate?
Jason: We try not to spend too much time on the songs when we record them meaning we don't try to beef them up with "studio magic" we just let them speak for themselves. I personally can't help but obsess over the lyrics and try to make sure they fit into the songs as best as I can. I think guitar wise Collin makes sure he figures out what he wants to do for every song we record and it comes out good that way.All the songs are pretty basic but mood wise they vary enough to keep me on my toes.

PRT: The same thing is reflected in the artwork as well. How important is that to you?
Jason: Art is huge to me for this band. Rich Perusi designed our logo and has done 90% of the art for our band. He is very in tune with what fits with our bands style and he does do a lot of things that look thrown together but he spends a lot of time making it look that way. He photo copies the text to blow it out just enough. The speckles on the We Are cover are from him making photo copies over and over of that cover until it turned out right. Simple and effective is his style. I designed a couple record covers, shirts and pins for us but try to keep it in the same style as Rich. I love his work. I think it's important for a bands art to be uniform so they have an identity.

PRT: I read somewhere that Cloak / Dagger is a fulltime thing for you guys. Is that really the case? And if so, how’s that working out for you in times like today?
Jason: Unfortunately it didn't work out too well. We tried to make a run for it as a full time band and toured the U.S. and went to Europe right after that tour. We lost a lot of money and all of us are in our 30's so it was rough to go on tour and come home with no money for rent and bills and no job. Now we try to plan things out a bit better but we still eat shit on shows we just can't do it all the time. We were driving 12 to 13 hours and getting paid $30 for shows on that first tour and we just can't do that as much as I would love to. Now we need to ensure we can at least cover gas which isn't too much to ask for these days. Recession.

PRT: Just like when you’re a band from New Jersey or Gainesville, it seems almost like acts from Richmond have a reputation to uphold as well. Is that something you ever thought about when you first started Cloak/Dagger?
Jason: I love Richmond. I am so proud of the reputation it has since I have been lucky enough to see it grow and go through a lot of phases that have all been exciting. Not just because I live here but I think it has some of the best bands playing punk and hardcore right now. When I first moved here it had nothing going on and now there are 2 to 3 good shows a week. I can't keep up. We were lucky enough to fall in place with Government Warning when they were starting to play out and they were the best of the best. I think we get some Municipal Waste fans that get bummed we don't rage as hard as they do but who can?

PRT: There’s 13 songs on the new album… you’re not the superstitious kind?
Jason: I really wanted the last song on there since it made sense to have it on there. The plan was to not have it on the record but a lot of the songs are about life and death and that last song is about death so it had to be on there. That's my favorite track and Fugazi had 13 songs so they broke the curse.

PRT: What’s up next for you guys? Any plans to come back to Europe anytime soon?
Jason: I would love to get back there again. No plans yet but if all goes well we will be there soon. I miss it already.

PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Jason: Thank you for reading.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – This Is War

Producer Flood is best known for his work with U2 (“Achtung Baby”), Nine Inch Nails (“The Downward Spiral”) and Depeche Mode (“Violator”) and was now asked to work his magic on Thirty Seconds To Mars’ turd... uhh third album. Maybe he took that a bit too literal because “This Is War” sounds exactly like what you might expect a combination of those three albums to sound like. Only a not so good version.

Jared Leto may think he has Bono’s capacity for pathos down pat, but ends up sounding like a whiny kid having a tantrum fit in public. You’re in your late thirties man! Time to leave the teen angst behind. The guitarist whose name I still can’t figure out does his utter best to sound like Edge but I’m afraid his work is drowned out by the torrent of synths and Tibetan monks (I kid you not) poured out over him. The band still tries to achieve this mysterious messiah-like status but everything is so over the top, that it just becomes one big joke.

Guess this is the album where Jared Leto proves that it might be indeed a better idea to not quit that day job.
Score: 3 out of 10

R.E.M. – Live At The Olympia 2CD/DVD

“Live At The Olympia” is the result of five shows that R.E.M. played in Dublin. Try-outs for what would become “Accelerate”, the band’s most defining album in years. So on one hand you will hear a lot of songs that would make that album being tested on a live audience, on the other hand this one finds the band reaching way the fuck back to when they were a Byrds-influenced college rock band out of Athens, Georgia. So that means that their most known songs aren’t represented here but I didn’t miss them for a second. Instead of “Everybody Hurts” we get “Cuyahoga” and instead of “Man On The Moon” and “Losing My Religion” we are treated to rocking versions of “So. Central Rain” and “Harborcoat”.

It’s hard to believe these guys have been around as long as they have and still can sound that vital, yet they have the back catalog and this release to prove it. Forget about that other live album they dropped in a not too distant past, this is the one you want to have if you want to know what R.E.M. sounds like in a live setting. And as if the two CDs aren’t enough yet, you also get an impressive live DVD in the process.
Score: 8.5 out of 10

Between The Buried And Me – The Great Misdirect

“The Great Misdirect” is already album number six that encapsulates the sheer craziness that is Between The Buried And Me. Opener “Mirrors” may start off misleading with plaintive vocals and a mellow guitar line but it doesn’t take them long to shake out some mayhem and before you know you’re caught up once again in this band’s maelstrom of noise, breakdowns and atmospheric parts.

One listen to the intro of “Fossil Genera – A Feed From Cloud Mountain” with its ragtime piano and Mike Patton-like vocals that leads to brutal metalcore and even some black metal, shows that these guys still have what it takes. And then you still have the 18-minute long closer that is “Swim To The Moon” which comes with well, everything ranging from a Hammond organ to some more Asian sounds. Crazy as it may sound, it’s all in a day’s work for Between The Buried And Me who make it all sound easy and make you wonder why no one else has ever done it. Love it or hate it I guess. I just call it adventurous, daring and it shows how progressive doesn’t always have to equal pretentious.
Score: 8 out of 10

We Came As Romans – To Plant A Seed

Even though these guys have only been around since 2008, they’ve already got quite the setup. They inked a deal with Equal Vision after the release of one EP and are now already back with their first full-length, which sees them upping the ante on their songwriting skills.

With two vocalists, one of which plays keyboards, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Just ask Scary Kids Scaring Kids. However We Came As Romans manage to stay on course and actually managed to write a fun album in a genre that’s cramped for space. The mix between the grunts and the blatantly auto-tuned vocals works well and the intricate guitarwork doesn’t exactly hurt things either. Rather than wearing out the use of keyboards by always inserting them in the foreground, these guys let the keys play hide and seek in between the different songs. Another plus. It is all a little too much of the same and songs tend to blur after a while. All in all though “To Plant A Seed” is a very nice debut worthy of your time and money if you’re into acts like The Devil Wears Prada or one of those million other similar-sounding acts.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

The Fall Of Troy – In The Unlikely Event

Damn, on album number four these guys are even less my thing than ever before. On “In The Unlikely Event” we find this trio heaping parts and genres onto each other, hoping it will somehow hold. More often than not however, they fail and the whole mess comes crashing down leaving me with nothing but a migraine.

Despite the occasional great riff or nice melody, most of the time they come across as the kind of guys that will give each other a handjob whenever they’ve succeeded in cramming even more notes or rhythm changes into one single song. They have a whole slew of ideas but being the ADD kids they are, they have no clue how to make songs out of them. Which is a shame. No idea really who would like this but I know it definitely is not me. Guess you’d have to be into Coheed & Cambria or Protest The Hero to be able to get something out of this.
Score: 3 out of 10

December Peals – People Have Demons

I have no idea what the band name is about, but it sounds like a skin condition. A little more time at the drawing board there wouldn’t have hurt things. Musically this German outfit threw some Gluecifer, Hellacopters and Hives influences together and called it “People Have Demons”. Which would be kinda cool... keeping a demon like a pet. No Mephistopheles don’t haunt those people! And don’t piss against their leg either!

Anyway, the vocals are gritty, the solos are sleazy and the whole packs just enough of that Guns N Roses-like swagger to make enough of an impression on me to get me all the way through the album and back again. Fun album filled with gutter rock tunes!
Score: 6.5 out of 10

House Of Broken Promises – Using The Useless

From the ashes of Unida has now risen an outfit with a decidedly longer name, House Of Broken Promises. Meet Arthur Seay (who also produced the album), Mike Cancino and Eddie Plascenci. Three guys who wouldn’t frown upon hiring Lindsey Lohan for minimum wage. After all these stoners are all about using the useless.

While they aren’t doing anything new, they did manage to write just under a dozen solid stoner rock jams that will appeal to all the Kyuss fans out there. This is one big riff-fest but luckily the other two guys in the band have no problem providing an equally big sound to back the guitar up. My personal favourites would have to be the hand clap and gang shout enhanced “Obey The Snake” (yes!), “Highway Grit” or the commercially viable “Torn”. If you like your music loud and obnoxious and with balls, you can’t go wrong with “Using The Useless”.
Score: 7 out of 10

American Steel interview

interview by Ricky Bates

Here's an interview with the ever amazing guys that make up American Steel by our equally amazing UK buddy Ricky Bates. If you haven't already picked up this band's latest album ("Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts"), please do so now or you'll continue to miss out on this... well, amazing album.

PRT: So we are here with ..
John: I play bass
Rory : I play guitar and sing

PRT: So you guys have never been to the UK as American steel only as communique why is that?
Rory: we reformed about 2 years ago and before that we never really had the opportunity and were always so busy touring the states, i don't know how much of it wasn't crossing our minds also how viable it was to us, we've been meaning to get here for a long time so when we got offered this tour with all American rejects we were like lets do it! Lets finally get over to England.

PRT: because you came to Germany round 6 months ago but only there?
John: yea it was with the German band the Donots
Rory: we thought about the logistics of definitely doing the UK then but when we broke it all down it worked out the same cost to do the UK from Germany as it would be to do it from the U.S , so lets just to it again later for proper.

PRT: so was the AAR thing planned or?
Rory: yea it came together pretty quickly about a month ago
John: they'd been planning their tour for a long time but hadn't figured who they wanted for support, they do extremely well here and most the shows are sold out before they even announce support since there under no pressure to choose support we only found out about 6 weeks ago that we could!

PRT: so have you been going down well on those shows?
John: yea we are fast and sing loud so kids were moving around a little

PRT: so based on the scene you come from is it not a controversial thing to say we going to tour with AAR?
Rory: yea well we've been on tour with major label bands before so you know,I don't think we've ever got any grief about it, we don't really give a shit about what other bands do, its not like were out killing kittens or something, however bands want to run their careers they can it comes down to personal opportunity's.
John: we wern't going to lose our chance just to come over here , sure some people are like I dont like that band so im not going to go see the support, I understand that I wouldnt usually go to a huge show just to see the support with a shorter set too, it might be harder for them to justify but at the same time we cant really come over here on our own for the first time.
Maybe now we can having done this tour, we couldn't just jump on a plane over here and hoped people showed up.

PRT: so dear friends and gentle hearts, how did this experience differ from all the other albums you've recorded, working with a producer etc?
Rory: no, well we do our own records, the last two at least, our guitar player Ryan kind of owns a recording studio back at home and he records us, so the last two records were pretty similar the way we went about it, its all pretty laid back we have time to be mellow and the songs are always pretty well worked out and things.

PRT: So you have a complete DIY set-up in terms of having complete control of everything that's going on the record, is that good thing to have?
Rory: yea that's the way we want to do it, we were joking with somebody how people misunderstand how bands work , some kid was giving us grief about not being DUI – DIY..
John: laughs
Rory: we are quite DUI my friend! No so we were like dude we record at own studio we do all the stuff ourselves and our guitarist even builds our own amplifiers! Could we do any more? Should we manufacture the CD's as well?
John: vinyl press?

PRT: so do you write before you go into record then?
Rory: yea 90 per cent
John: yea Rory really prolific not prolific in the sense ow I have some riffs but having 20 complete songs, maybe not every part of every song but complete with vocals which I think is really rare, when you see documentaries of bands in the studio there's always some guy sitting there uninspired and unable to write anything and then days stretch into weeks.. our songs are pretty much done when we go into the studio, some bands I think need a producer to get them to finish their songs, which is a completely foreign idea to us! We usually have to many songs and cut a few while were recording but with some bands all they can do is squeeze out 10 or 11 songs for a record.
Rory: Also the chemistry between us all, we've been together so long that when I come in we are just a real tight band as far as putting them together, when were in the rehearsal space before the record l show up with all the songs but its still matter of getting them all together and playing them correctly, we'll do two a day or one a hour we'll do it really fast nowadays.

PRT: Having all the time off from American Steel do you feel you had time to reflect on the music scene? Then coming back from Communique was it hard to adapt being back as American Steel?
Rory: no I don't think it was, if anything I think we might be more oblivious now more than ever of what other bands are doing.

PRT: It does feel like that actually when you listen to the music as if you shut out everything else and just become your own band
Rory: hopefully!

PRT: Tours! How have they since you've been back? Do you think having the time off helped build up your fan base?
Rory: I think it did, I don't know what the net result was as far as like numerical value, I think we lost some along the way too but there's definitely people since we've been back saying its so great that your back I got into you a year to two after you stopped playing so there's a lot of that!
Our first tour back we were on the road with the Lawrence arms we just kind of hopped on a bus together and did it it was kind of funny because we were both at the same stage of things where we are very selective about when we tour and very deliberate about how we put our records, were not really pressured to rush by anybody.
John: and then meant we could book our own club shows around the country, that helped both our bands and bands like us, we had nice weather and enough people to justify having a bus, having four bands on one bus so it made sense and was cheaper.
Rory: we were being environmental!
John: yea we were being totally green, hanging things out the windows, HA

PRT: What do you think about the punk rock scene at the moment in terms of who's doing what? Do you think there too much hype behind certain bands which might eventually kill them off?
Rory: I don't know, I think every band should just do what they feel comfortable doing, that doesn't stop me from having my opinion about what their doing I don't really begrudge anyone for changing gears, just do whatever you want to do, I don't think any one band owes it to anyone unless they somehow made a promise to them, which has happened a few times but even then I don't think you owe it to them, people change their minds
John: its not a written promise, ha ha. I think if your supporting huge tours that's a lot different then headlining that huge tour, that's when bands have to really put on the brakes sometimes, when they somehow become that band that can suddenly fill a stadium and then its like what do you do? Were obviously not that band but we know a few bands that have gone from playing bars to arenas, you start getting all these different offers.. again were talking from the outside since we aren't that band, we don't have enough of a single sound that people can latch on to and be 'that' band, but a lot of bands we are friends with can fill 1 to 5 thousand person venues, such as alkaline trio or the gaslight anthem and now hot water music.

PRT: In terms of record labels, do you think they are necessary any more?
Rory: I don't think they are necessary but it all depends on what your trying to do, we've discussed not dealing with labels any more, but we haven't had that time where we want to deal with all the stuff, for us its sort of laziness or convenience you know
John: its sort of just a nice home base for us now, record sales are going down every year, your on a label to make records and to make them available your not always on there to sell records any more some people still do, but it can serve as a nice home base where if someone wants to interview your band they can contact your label, and the label can then contact you its just a nice hub of communications, otherwise we'd have to take many many hours out of our personal lives but some bands do it, like the do-nots from Germany run their own label and do everything themselves, and the band is kind of all they do but we have always valued our sort of other stuff going on.

PRT: sure, also 'normal' people think that a band on fat wreck chords could stand to make a lot of money but don't realise you need to have normal jobs also..
John: Yes, but the only people who understand that are people in other bands or people who do shows, you know we don't just go home and go on vacation in Mexico, we go home and go back to work
Rory: Even the bands who do make a living doing it, the perception is so inflated because the bands who do make a living from it make such a modest living they might as well be school teachers
John: unless your like green day
Rory: yea unless you have a top 40 song your lucky to make a living off of it, so yea we have always worked.

PRT: Some of your lyrics seem very personal, is this the way you feel you can send your message out to other bands and so forth by listening to the records as opposed to bitching on the internet on some forum or blog?
Rory: definitely
John: sure I can see what your getting at, we are one of the more private bands that I can think of. A lot of bands are every other day blog update or video update and all over the internet and reveal every detail of their personal lives and we have a layer sounds hard to say but I think we let our music speak for ourselves and let the music be what we are saying. We reluctantly do the self promotion thing, a lot of bands love it they cant wait to update their Myspace page and that's fine that's great and maybe it would be to our benefit to do that more but none us really enjoy that. We don't set out to be private but we just are a lot more private people than people generally are.

PRT: Are there any songs from the last two albums which have a favourite subject?
Rory: not a favourite subject necessarily but for me its sort of it comes out whether its political or personal I don't really sit and think I am going to write a song about this or this album should be like this I just let it come out, for me my favourite songs on our record are the ones we are playing at the moment because its fun to perform those songs, once they're written they get passed to the venting process before I bring them in to show the band, you know I feel on the newest record that the lyrics are simplistic and sometimes a little too tongue in cheek but im not afraid of being almost silly since I feel we have such a large catalogue that its neither here or there so its never representative of our work in one way we can get away with a little low brow

PRT: anything in terms of future releases?
Rory: I think FAT are releasing some demo's aren't they?
John: who?
Rory: FAT
John : ow cool, laughs* ha I usually find out what we are doing from the internet, nothing major we haven't done much U.S touring on this record. There might be a few digital releases of old 7 inches that weren't available and maybe an under the influence split with the gaslight anthem where we both cover songs we like.


Valkyrja – Contamination

On album number two Valkyrja once again cranks out some nasty black metal where blastbeats and ultra-fast riffs reign. Unfortunately it’s the kind of thing I’ve already heard a thousand times before and just coming off of the bombshell that Dark Fortress released, this sounds kinda basic and simplistic. Kinda like the artwork.
Score: 5 out of 10

Dream Evil – In The Night

They’d already proven that they were still capable of writing a solid album without Gus G on guitar so where to go after that? Well, on “In The Night” it’s simply more of the same. Yes, this is power metal filled with bombastic synths, over the top vocals, lots of guitar solos and song titles like “Immortal” and “Bang Your Head”.

For me this is pretty much everything I don’t want to hear in my music, yet if this is your kind of thing then this is as good an album to pick up as any other in the genre. It’s kind of by the numbers though. Naming the obligatory ballad “The Ballad” doesn’t exactly show off a great deal of inspiration.
Score: 6 out of 10

Dark Fortress – Ylem

In a whopping 70 minutes the Germans that make up Dark Fortress are here to explain the concept of Ylem to you. Apparently, ylem was the state of the elements before the Big Bang, the matter from which everything was created. They lost me right from the start, after all my name isn’t Stephen Hawking. But I can tell you that these black metal fanatics have written a damn impressive new chapter in Dark Fortress’ history that goes from the downright brutal to the ethereal and atmospheric in songs that easily span 8 minutes.

Vocalist Morean covers the entire spectre of everything that sounds dark and creepy while the synths and guitars do exactly the same. Drummer Seraph on the other hand may come way out of left field with unexpected blastbeats in songs like “As The World Keels Over” but ultimately does a great job of keeping the whole thing together and making it sound even more powerful.

Taking in the entire album at once is a bit much but the more you listen to it, the more it becomes obvious that the guys in Dark Fortress have definitely written an awe-inspiring follow-up to “Eidolon”.
Score: 8 out of 10

The Lawrence Arms – Buttsweat And Tears

The Lawrence Arms’ first sign of life in quite some time is a good one and it shows that our favourite Chicago punks are still alive and kicking. “The Redness In The West” may see these guys tipping their head to Johnny Cash in the intro, but other than that they are still attacking every song with the same kind of energy and tenacity that they have been doing for all those years. With vocal duties split 50/50 between Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessey still kicking the shit out of his drums it’s good to know that there are still some certainties in life. The Lawrence Arms delivering is one of them. The only downside is that this isn’t a full album.
Score: 9 out of 10

Track A Tiger – I Felt The Bullet Hit My Heart

The only way the album title could’ve possibly been more emo was if they had replaced the bullet with a knife. But okay, I’m not gonna hate on this one right away and will listen to Track The Tiger’s album with an open mind. And a hankey.

Oh, wait a minute. Opener “Don’t Let The Nightlight Dance” shows that these guys are actually onto something here. Not something I haven’t heard before because well, American Analog Set has already been around. But damn, this is a solid indie pop song if I’ve ever heard one. “Always Untrue” is pretty laidback as well with some nice pedal steel guitar and a banjo. And they simply keep on going after that with one beautifully arranged song after the other.

What originally started out as a solo project for Jim Vallet has now turned into one mean, mood-shaping indie pop monster. “I Felt The Bullet Hit My Heart” may have taken two years and seven people to make, Vallet obviously never took his eyes off the prize and delivers in the end. Even in spite of the album title.
Score: 7.5 out of 10

Onward To Olympas – This World Is Not My Home

Onward To Olympas is a new metalcore outfit out of Charlotte, North Carolina. While you’d be hard-pressed to find anything new on “This World Is Not My Home”, they are actually doing a pretty solid number in terms of songwriting. They have no problem keeping me interested throughout the different songs by inserting heavyass breakdowns and melodic and even more atmospheric parts in all the right places with each of the players doing exactly what is expected of them. Couple of nice solos, great shredding, gang vocals and a drummer who knows his way around his drum kit all help. And yes, I was a sucker for the female guest vocals by Carson’s Taisha Beathea helping out in the title track.

One thing that does slightly bug me are the cookie monster vocals which are a little over the top. Other than that this is a solid offering in between all the average metalcore releases.
Score: 7 out of 10

Andrew Vladeck – The Wheel

I had never heard of this guy before but apparently he’s quite the man in the alternative folk scene in New York. And listening to the twelve songs on “The Wheel” it’s not hard to figure out why.

Opener “Hold Me Back” is an amazing song that immediately rivals The Wallflowers’ best. Unlike Jakob Dylan, Vladeck is not related by blood to Bawb. But he’s clearly influenced by the man as can be heard on “The Songs You Inspire”, a song that not only won an international songwriting competition, but also comes with a mean harmonica interlude.

Next to the harmonica, Vladeck also knows his way around an acoustic guitar, a ukulele and yes, a banjo. And when it comes to lyrics, he’s just as adapt at describing a slice of life as Ike Reilly. Some of the songs here sound kinda naked and I’d love to hear them in a fuller and more arranged version, but there’s no denying the man’s capacity to write a great song.
Score: 7 out of 10

Abandon Kansas – We’re All Going Somewhere EP

Like Toto once said, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Supplying the soundtrack to that road trip is Wichita’s Abandon Kansas with their latest offering, the 6-song EP “We’re All Going Somewhere”. Don’t expect to hear any covers of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” though. No, these guys play a nice mix between radio-friendly modern rock and danceable indie rock.

Produced by Mark Lee Townsend (Relient K), I could see these guys end up on Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance even though they’ve got smarter lyrics than 90% of the bands on that label. Whether it’s something for you, will depend on how much you like the Panic At The Disco’s and Forgive Durden’s of the world.
Score: 5.5 out of 10

Tubers – Anachronous

With members from a whole bunch of bands, Florida-based Tubers are already coming atcha with album number three. Expect more jangly, raw and noisy yet melodic tunes from this bunch who keep plowing away on “Anachronous” like they’ve always done.

Sounding like Fugazi messing around with surf rhythms, these guys’ sound is all over the place. Sometimes this makes for very enticing and exciting music, at other times it doesn’t do all that much except cause a ruckus. When they’re at the top of their game though, they kick some serious ass. Just check out opening track “High Tide It’s Inside” or ‘68” which is awesome for having a mouth organ coming in from out of nowhere.
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Destrophy – S/T

On their self-titled Victory Records debut, these Iowa natives show that the early noughties aren’t over yet. With a sound that’s heavily influenced byt the likes of Drowning Pool and Disturbed, Destrophy uses the nu metal groove, throws in some catchy choruses and then calls it a day.

I’m not sure if this band really is no good or if I just can’t be bothered with listening to this kinda thing anymore. If you’re into jock-metal, you might want to check these guys out. If not, walk away from it.

With other recent Victory signings including Otep and Taproot, it looks like Brummel & co are planning to re-launch nu metal in 2010. Let’s hope that I’m wrong!
Score: 4.5 out of 10

Before There Was Rosalyn – The Führer – An Allegory Of A History Of Deception

If it’s not the sheer length of the album title that will draw your attention, the word ‘führer’ will do the trick. Before There Was Rosalyn is a Christian outfit that plays some pretty potent metalcore with the typical clean/growling dual vocal attack . All pretty standard so far, right?

But with the album being built around the theme of how absolute power can corrupt and destroy, it does lend the album an extra dimension. Especially with the artwork tying in nicely as well.

Both musically and lyrically I’d think that Solid State would’ve been the more logic choice for this Texas-based outfit but Victory has reason to be happy to have this band on their roster. While Before There Was Rosalyn’s album isn’t quite up there yet with Killswitch Engage or August Burns Red’s latest releases, I can see good things coming from these guys in the future.
Score: 6.5 out of 10


Static Radio NJ interview

Static Radio NJ, what to say? They're an explosive bunch straight out of New Jersey and they will kick your ass with their energetic songs. Check out their latest album "" (out on Black Numbers) and go check them out live when you get the chance!

PRT: You guys recently released “An Evening Of Bad Decisions”, an extremely solid album. Can you tell me a bit more about what preceded the release of your first full-length? What have you been up to for the first seven years? Vic: First off, thanks very much, we're glad you enjoy the album. I guess a brief discography/history of us would have to go a little something like this: We did a demo, gave it to Kate from Chunksaah about a month before our first tour, and she offered to do a 7 inch for us. We were absolutely thrilled, and we recorded the 7 inch, One for The Good Guys, in Tulsa OK with Stephen Egerton (Descendents, ALL, etc.), and it came out in time for our second tour. We did that, and a bunch of other tours. Sooner or later, Black Numbers released it on CD with a few extra bonus tracks. Then we toured and toured and toured. Then we did the full length, and toured and toured and toured more. Which pretty much brings us up to speed.

PRT: The album builds on the short blast of hardcore that was “One For The Good Guys”. Was expanding on your sound a conscious decision or something that just happens after having been in a band for some time? Vic: Ya know what man, to be honest, I'd like to tell you that it was a natural progression, but i'm not sure anyone would fully believe me since i dont think any band that intentionally changes their sound would admit in an interview to doing so. That is, in fact, the case
though, we didn't intentionally change our sound. We played that style of hardcore because that's what we were mainly into at the time. Then we started getting into other things, and just writing other things. And besides, there's really only so much you can do with that style of
music in terms of songwriting.

PRT: Listening to your releases, you seem to be playing in a band simply because of the fun of it all. But it did make me wonder if you’ve ever considered being in Static Radio NJ as the result of an evening of bad decisions? Vic: I think I understand what you're asking. We did start the band in our basements when we were in high school, but I guess you could say we never "grew out of it" because we never stopped loving it, and just got more serious and started touring, etc. An evening of bad decisions comes from the collective opinion of ours that being in the band, in comparison with a "normal" life for people our age, would be considered by most to be a bunch of bad decisions. The decisions to put off college for a few years, if not indefinitely. To work shitty jobs and barely scrape by. I mean we're not all about money or possessions, but ask anyone in an actively touring band, it takes its toll financially, and many other ways. All that kind of stuff is what we're talking about in the title of that, since the record is somewhat of a collection of those experiences, among other things. Don't get me wrong, we have a total blast and love every minute of it, we're not complaining.

PRT: I’ve read that you’re already working on new material. Do you already have an idea of what that’s going to sound like? Even more diverse? Vic: Even more diverse, yes. We're not going to completely switch it up. Realistically, so far the songs have been coming out different than those on Bad Decisions, but they're not like Blink 182's self titled album.. do you know what I mean? (you can all talk shit about me liking that band, but fuck it. I like them, even most of their later stuff). I'd say it's closer to Saves the Days "Stay What You Are", in that the songs are different, but not like we're trying to be super
experimental just for the sake of doing so, and abandoning any kind of integrity. There's still simple catchy stuff to be found.

PRT: For the people out there who haven’t heard you guys before… if Static Radio NJ was the lovechild of two other bands, which acts would’ve had sex and which position were you conceived in? Vic: Ahh how to answer this question. Again, I could do what most bands in interviews do, and say "you really can't compare our stuff with anything", but 98% of bands that say that are either tryg not to say what they know, or are truly oblivious to how obvious their influences

I would say it depends on what you've heard from us. One For The Good Guys is really kid dynamite, gorilla biscuits type stuff. A lot of talk about the state of the music scene and how ridiculous it is (but what I would consider and hope to be a bit less blatant and repetitive
and almost cliche than say, the new h2o album, which I do like anyway). Bad decisions would be some of that, but also more melodic, closer to lifetime and the bouncing souls.

PRT: New Jersey is a true hotbed for amazing punk and hardcore bands. Isn’t it kind of intimidating to start a new band there or is that something that never even crossed your mind when you began playing? Vic: We're just proud of it really, and it really didn't cross our minds when we started. We really don't see it as a competitions, especially since we don't expect, or even necessarily want to become a band that lives off their music.

PRT: You started out as Static Radio but then had to add the NJ part because of legal matters. What happened exactly and is that a good subject for a new song? Vic: It's as you would imagine it to be. Do a little internet searching, you won't have trouble finding the source of it's change. *wink*

As for a new song, we wouldn't waste the effort.

PRT: You were supposed to play at the Groezrock festival in Belgium last year but then had to cancel the tour. What happened and when are you planning on coming back? Vic: Well we were in the middle of a 6 week tour. The 2 first weeks were in the UK with our friends The Arteries, which went great. We had just gotten to Germany and played a couple shows with a great band called Tackleberry and we had to stop the tour early. There was a family emergency that had to do with the death of an immediate family member. The only reason I even went that far into detail is so everyone in Europe that was excited for a show, or any promoter, or booking agent, or anyone at all like that, knows that it was the last thing we wanted to do, but it could not be helped. I'm sure everyone understands. Tackleberry and Deny Everything among countless promoters were super super awesome in understanding. However, we did have some people involved in the tour get very upset with us at the time because we didn't really give them proper notification, we just put out a myspace bulletin about it and that was it. This was because that was the least of our concerns at the time. We not only had to get the person involved home immediately, but the rest of us had to go from Germany to Wales with hardly any money at all, in the shortest amount of time possible, where we had to wait for over a week for the next available flight home. That explanation is the least complicated one I could come up with, trust me it was much harder than that. It was probably the most trying times in all of our lives, and if you'd like to know the possible subject for a new song, I'd say the events surrounding that tour would be a good place to start.

Needless to say, we were super bummed about missing Groezrock, and the rest of that tour in general, and we're working out coming back in the spring right now. Keep checking up for that, we should have info on it shortly.

PRT: What else is up for you guys? I think I heard something about an upcoming split 7”? Vic: We were actually going to do a split with No Harm Done, a great Florida band, but they wound up breaking up. Now we're going to do a split with The Arteries, from Wales. They are an amazing band, and really incredible dudes. That actually isn't looking like it's going
to come out until the end of 2010. In the meantime we're writing another full length, and we'd really like to have it out by the end of the year as well. You can get more up to date info on us on the variety of social networking websites that are out today. We just want to thank everyone so much that has had interest in keeping tabs on what we're up to, and thanks so much for the interview. It's awesome when the interviewer actually knows a bit about us and doesn't just ask the stock interview questions like "when did you start, how long have you been a band, who are your influences, etc." So we really appreciate that. See you all in 2010, stay erect!