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Baha Men still letting out great hits

by Ashley Winward | May 6, 2015

As a graduating senior, I’ve found myself reminiscing more often than I’d like to admit. Thinking about college memories, yearning for every throwback Thursday…you could imagine my surprise when I was contacted by a band that asked the quintessential question of all our childhoods: who let the dogs out?
I had the chance this past week to talk to Dyson Knight, one of the current singers of the Baha Men about their sound, its roots and how the band has evolved over the years.

baha men

The Baha Men are proud of their Bahamian roots, which they let shine through their music (AP photo)

The band is very proud of their Bahamian roots and it shines through their music, which is classified under the genre junkanoo. Knight explained, “We [the Bahamian people] inherited that from Africa, its African drum work. It’s the drum patterns that we use for celebration. We use the junkanoo music for a time, around the Christmas season, when back in slavery days, the slaves were allowed to be north of the capital, what they called over the hill, and be allowed to be free, barter gifts, interact with one another, socialize in an area that slaves weren’t allowed to be. This would happen twice per year, Boxing Day which is the day after Christmas and New Year’s. They would have a celebration that would start at midnight, 1 a.m. and go straight until sun up. It would be a parade of people dancing in the street; they would use the goat skin drums and cow bells and whistles just to have a wonderful celebration and that’s the birth of junkanoo music. That’s why it has the energy it does. It’s about celebration, it’s about being thankful, and it’s about being free.”

This fast and upbeat music has an infectious quality that has taken them all over the world. What’s most surprising is that the band’s biggest following comes from Japan. “Asia on the whole, they like that happy music. I shouldn’t say happy that makes it sound very bubble gum, upbeat music. They like high energy music that moves them even if they may not want to move. Especially in more structured societies, in Japan they’re very structured so to hear music that’s explosive, that’s full of life they wrap around it. That’s why we did so well in Japan, we have such a high energy show.”

Their high energy show is one of the things that has kept them a crowd favorite for 35 years now. Having an “older band” Dyson feels is more of a strength to the band than a weakness.

“The band is older, and the band is known for high energy performances but like myself there are new members mainly the members that would be expected to have the most energy. For example, our drummer, he is new, I’m new, and so we still put on a real rocking show. I would say the number of years we have, only season the band further being able to interact with a wider audience. There’s a lot of experience behind the band now.”

With 30 years of music, it’s hard to believe some may only know them from their smash hit, “Who Let the Dogs Out.” However the Baha Men don’t believe in that one hit wonder stigma.

“Rik Carey he had a phase when he wanted to lash out and fight against the whole ‘Okay we’re tired of Who Let the Dogs Out’ but I think everyone understands and accepts now. 15 years later “Who Let the Dogs Out” is still being licensed, still playing in big arenas, still playing at shows and there are songs like that. The money song for example (cue Donald Trump), it’s just timeless, “Just Got Paid”, they’re just timeless epic songs and “Who Let the Dogs Out” is one of those songs. When you have a song like that, people only remember that song. We don’t try to stop the fact that it’s one of our biggest songs.” If you’d like to know who in fact let the dogs out, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, “The answer’s usually ‘I don’t know’ or ‘It’s top secret’ something very finicky and cliché and sassy.” However if you’d like to know, Knight believes that if he had a dollar for every reporter who asked them that question, “Well I’d be able to fly to any part of the world with that kind of money, be able to pick up a few islands along the way, purchase a few mansions, probably start my own civilization, I could do a lot with that kind of money for sure. “

The Band has a new album out called Ride with Me which ranges. A really good example of this is the single “Night and Day;” there’s a video on YouTube for it that you can check out and it was featured on the Fifa world cup album. They’re also rebooting their social media presence so you can check them out on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Give their new record a spin and cruise into summer feeling like you’re down in the Bahamas.

Interview with the Como Brothers Band

by Glenn Rohrbacker | May 6, 2015

Last week, I had the chance of interviewing an awesome up and coming band called the Como Brothers Band. The Como Brothers are a rock/pop/blues band from Long Island consisting of brothers Matt (bass/vocals) and Andrew Como (guitar/vocals). I actually wrote an article introducing the Como Brothers last semester, but I asked them to come on my radio show on WNHU last week and here’s a bit of what we talked about:

Glenn: For the people that don’t know you, why don’t you talk a little bit about yourself and how the band got started?

Andrew: We started in high school playing in cover bands and things like that, then we were in a Beatles tribute band with our dad, and it just kind of naturally went to writing our own songs.

G: So what influenced your songwriting styles?

Matt: Well the Beatles were huge for us; we really took a lot from their songwriting. We take a lot from guys like John Mayer and blues guys like B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn. We kind of meld that all into our own sound.

A: We’re always trying to get “poppier” and become more relatable.

G: Through the creative process is it more like you guys coming up with the same ideas or conflicting ideas and working off of that?

A: A lot of the time he’ll bring me an idea and I’ll judge that for good or for worse and same when I bring him an idea and he’ll be judging me. But we’ve learned to accept that judgment for what it is.

G: So you’ve been working on an EP recently as well as playing a lot of live shows, what do you like about each setting?

A: The live thing is cool because you have a full finished product. The thing I like about the live show is you get an immediate satisfaction from people’s reaction.

M: In the studio there’s a reference of what the song should be and then live you can go off of what it should be and then go off of what you’re feeling at the moment so there’s fun in both for us.

G: So I heard you did a John Mayer cover on your EP with Steve Jordan, tell us what that was like.

A: Well he played on our latest EP, which is coming out June 2015, and for those of you who don’t know he played drums on a bunch of John Mayer albums. At the end of the session I asked if we could play one more song and I just went into it and he played along and it was pretty sick.

M: It was “Bold as Love,” the song that we played and its on YouTube and it was a lot of fun.

G: What’s been you’re best experience on the road playing a new area?

M: We went to Virginia a few weeks ago and that was a lot of fun. There were so many people that came up to us afterward and that want us to come back. We’ve been to Philadelphia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Boston, we’re actually playing a show here at The Space in Hamden, CT on June 17th.

A: We also want to announce that our EP release show is going to be on June 19 and that’s at 89 North in Patchogue, New York.

M: One thing I like about what we do is that nothing is set in stone; I don’t have to play the same bass ling every time. I know what’s coming next but I don’t know what I’m going to do next and that’s cool though. As many times as I’ve played that song “Good Enough For Me” I don’t think I’ve played it the same way twice.
During the interview, the Como Brothers played two of their new songs off of their EP Imagination, “Good Enough For Me” and “Tell You I’m Fine,” as well as one of their most popular songs, “Straight Face.” You can find the Como Brothers on Twitter/Instagram @comobrosband as well as on Facebook, SoundCloud, Tumblr and Reverbnation.

 

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | May 6, 2015

Alan Gerber: The pinnacle of my portfolio is the song I’ve yet to write

Hailing from Chicago, Alan Gerber has been a component of the music industry since the early 1960’s. Starting as a member of the Elektra Records-based band, Rhinoceros, he continued to have a fruitful solo career, passing his multi-instrumental talents onto two of his children, Eli and Hannah.
“They have been playing and singing from day one,” Gerber explained. “They would be sitting at the piano with my wife, Robin, or me, joyously banging away, until one day they were really playing. Robin gave them classical training until they were proficient enough to assume their own directions.
When Eli was eight and Hannah was five, they would get up on stage with me at festivals to play a six-handed piano boogie. Eli started to play the guitar at the age of 12 and by the time he was 13 he was doing shows with me and really wowing audiences. By the age of ten, Hannah sang with me at The Montreal Jazz Festival on a big stage for about 14,000 people. They both write music, play piano, guitar and sing. On my CD, ‘Queen Of Hearts‘, Hannah made her recording debut at the age of 12, singing a duet with me on “Engagement Song” and Eli played all the electric guitars on “The Pain And The Wine.” On my CD after that, the latest, The Grand And The Small, Hannah sings almost every song with me and Eli plays most of the lead guitar. It all evolved quite naturally and, for me, there has never been a musical experience more satisfying than playing music and sharing the stage with my children.”
Gerber has been a musician and singer/songwriter from the time he was very young and it seems that his children are following in his musical footsteps.
“I knew that music would be my career at the age of 15, when I already had many original compositions and heard my first recording, ‘It’s You I’m Thinkin’ Of,’ being played on WLS Radio in Chicago.”
With such a musically-diverse background, having experienced all ends of the artistic spectrum, I wondered the major differences that Gerber experienced being a part of a super group in the 1960’s verses holding a solo career in today’s industry. “When I was a member of Rhinoceros we were put together – taken care of in a business sense – and creatively ‘guided’ by Elektra Records. There were seven strong individuals and our musical direction was not always crystal clear,” Gerber revealed. “As a solo artist the creative direction is all in my hands but the business, which has certainly changed in the last few years, is something I always have to juggle. I have to be the songwriter, artist, producer, booker, social media person, [ect.].”
The bottom line is that the industry today, while growing and evolving at continuous speed due to technological advances, is a thousand times more complicated than it used to be. While the idea of becoming an independent artist is much more tangible at this time, it also makes things more difficult when you don’t have a label to rely on. Credit has to be given where it is due to artists like Gerber who take time out of their on-going creative processes to handle the business aspects of their career – like doing interviews with college journalists!
“My biggest musical inspiration came from playing four-handed boogie/blues with my two uncles in Chicago. Neither of them were professional musicians – one was a corporate lawyer, the other was the president of The Esquire Corporation – but they had serious keyboard skills and I was captivated by the way they shone while playing,” Gerber painted. “For sure, the person who personally inspired me the most in my life is my wife, Robin.”
Gerber truly inspired me with his next response when I asked about his songwriting talents, and the song he considers to be the pinnacle of his career thus far. “Being a songwriter to me is both a gift and a privilege. To create songs that move me, then to perform them and move others is what gives me strength in my life, fills my sails with a positive wind. I have a catalogue of many songs that I love but the pinnacle of my portfolio will always be the one I have yet to write.”
There has been a common debate threading itself throughout the industry today, from university classrooms to listening rooms in the halls of music publishing company. The debate between the importance of lyrics verses melody and which evokes more emotion from the listener.
“For me, on one hand, nothing can be sweeter than listening while reading the lyrics, to someone like Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell or John Lennon, to name a few. On the other hand the music, funky rhythm and melodies of people like Ray Charles, Ottis Redding, Sam Cook, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin and Etta James (along with many others) is just plain irresistible! I’d have to say that the ultimate best is a combination of both.”
Gerber explains his takeaway from this debate naming influences that personally enhanced my own musical personality while growing up and I couldn’t agree more with his outlook on the combination of the two.
The University of New Haven is a great place to go to school, and they truly uphold their music industry program – constantly seeking new ways to grow and offer experiential opportunities to their students. That being said, I wanted to provide the students of UNH’s music program with a moral to the story from this article – words of wisdom from a key figure who has experienced just about everything the industry has to offer.
“The music business today has changed so much, it is so difficult to make a living that one definitely needs another source of income to get by, at least in the first stages,” Gerber honestly admitted.

Local gigs of the week

by Ashley Winward | May 6, 2015

local gigs of the week

Toad’s Place
May 7: Fabolous

May 8: Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg with Andrew WK on Vocals

May 9: Postmodern Jukebox

May 11: IM5 with Austin Jones, Bailey McConnell, The Weekend Riot and The House on the Cliff

The Oakdale
May 7: Mac Miller

May 9: Brit Floyd

May 12: Falling In Reverse with Ghost Town

The Space
May 8: The Miths with The Island of Doubt and November Party

May 9: Soupstock Battle of the Bands

BAR (21+)
May 13: BRONCHO with Strange Faces and Furnsss

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | May 6, 2015

There’s a Place off Ocean Avenue

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | April 29, 2015

So you all remember a band called Yellowcard; well, I had the chance to see them at Toad’s Place along with openers The Downtown Fiction and Finch.

Yellowcard (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Yellowcard (Photo obtained via Facebook)

The Downtown Fiction is an American rock/alternative/pop band from Fairfax, VA who originated in 2008. The band consists of Cameron Leahy on vocals and guitar, David Pavluk on bass and vocals, Wes Diamond on guitar and vocals and Kyle Rodgers on drums. They are currently signed to Fearless Records, where they released their second album Losers & Kings. This album is the band’s longstanding ambition to break the mold while remaining true to their sound. If you get the chance to see these guys on tour, don’t miss out because they put on a fantastic show.

Finch is an American post-hardcore band from Temecula, California who originated in 1999. They released two albums What It Is to Burn and Say Hello to Sunshine before they went on hiatus in 2006. They then reformed in 2007 releasing their EP a year later and then in the process of their third album they disbanded in late 2010. They then signed to Razor and Tie records in 2014 and they started working on a new album, which came out in September called Back to Oblivion. The band consists of Nate Barcalow on lead vocals, Alex Linares on rhythm guitar, Randy Strohmeyer on lead guitar and backing vocal, Alex Pappas on drums and percussion and Daniel Wonacott on bass guitar. I must say that this band put on a great show, so definitely go see them if you have the chance to do so.

Yellowcard is an American pop punk/alternative rock band from Jacksonville, FL that originated in 1997. They are now based on Los Angeles and still going strong in the music scene. The members of the band are Ryan Key on vocals and guitar, Sean Mackin on violin and vocals, Ryan Mendez on guitar and vocals and last, but not least, Josh Portman on bass. They got their name “Yellowcard” from a phrase they used in high school, which I thought was pretty interesting to learn. Their popular singles included “Ocean Avenue,” “Lights and Sounds,” and “Light Up the Sky.” They are currently signed to Razor and Tie records, and recently released their album Lift a Sail and if you haven’t purchased or listened to it yet, I suggest you do.

First, The Downtown Fiction came on stage and played some new songs off their newest album Losers and Kings as well as played some old songs. They did a great job getting the crowd started for the night before Yellowcard came out later on. I don’t think a lot of people knew who these guys were, but they still enjoyed their performance, as did I whenever I see them perform. In between changing bands, they would put on some songs and everyone would jam out, getting more and more excited for the main act. Then the crowd got pumped for Finch as they came out onstage as it was dark and nothing but their red light circle feature on stage. Everyone had a blast singing along to all their songs and jumping up in the air and moving around the floor. I haven’t seen this band before live, but I must say that they did a phenomenal job and have great stage presence. The final act of the night finally came out to amaze the audience and they definitely accomplished the job. Everyone was crowd surfing and off their feet jumping throughout the whole song. I don’t know about everyone else but when Ryan Key said if you’re not singing your heart out on the songs and losing your voice then you are doing everything wrong. I completely agree with that because I lost my voice and it was incredible.

Make sure to all take a second to see The Downtown Fiction, Finch and Yellowcard on tour; it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.

Spring Concert preview: What to expect

by Ashley Winward | April 29, 2015

It’s the weekend we’ve all been waiting for: the “last hurrah” before finals is upon us. That’s right, Spring Weekend is finally here!

SCOPE really outdid themselves this year with a star-studded weekend planned. Full House’s Dave Coulier kicks off the weekend on Friday as our comedian, then on Saturday enjoy the food and festivities of the carnival before heading into Charger Gymnasium if you were lucky enough to get one of the coveted 1500 tickets to go see T-Pain, Third Eye Blind and DJ Tommy Carlucci. Before you head inside, why don’t I help remind you a little bit about these artists.

First on the bill may not be a familiar name to you but he is a familiar face in the UNH community. You might have caught DJ Tommy Carlucci last year performing with Jonny Empire during the Spring Carnival or perhaps DJing the ladies of Delta Phi Epsilon’s recent Pearl Ball. He’ll be helping keep you get excited and moving in between acts as well as throwing down his own set. He really got the crowd going last year at Spring Carnival and I bet he’ll be bringing it just as hard now that he’s gotten bumped up to the main stage.

Next was what I believed to be the curveball of this announcement: T-Pain. Known by his friends as Faheem Rashad Najm, T-Pain seemingly took over the hip hop scene in the 2000s. With hits like “I’m Sprung” and “I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper)” it seemed like he became a household name overnight. He became the CEO of his own label, Nappy Boy Records, in 2005, with talent such as himself, Young Cash, Travie McCoy and Field Mob, just to name a few. He currently is out touring on his Greatest Hits album, Happy Hour, and if you check out his website (www.t-pain.net), there are even different flavored shots to complement each song. There is also much anticipation for his new album, Stoicville: The Phoenix, that has been in the works for about two years. Fans can probably expect a blend of new and old from the auto-tuned Thr33 Ringz leader when he hits New Haven on Saturday.

Then you’re in for a treat: straight from my childhood and onto the stage with be none other than San Fransisco’s own Third Eye Blind. Most of you will probably know them from their debut self-titled album and hits like “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper,” and “How’s It Going to Be.” While the lineup has done a number of shifts and trade outs over the years, Stephan Jenkins remaining on vocals is what will really bring me back. While an odd match to be paired with T-Pain, the pure nostalgia factor in this act will be what takes the roof off the place. Third Eye Blind is a bit of a slower mellow mood for a Spring Weekend show but I’ve heard more buzz around campus for them than T-Pain from my observations, so there won’t be a lack of energy as they take the stage.

I would definitely like to applaud SCOPE for such a big lineup for Spring Weekend. It takes a lot of hard work to do what they do and it shows in their turn out and participants excitement. Have a happy and fun Spring Weekend!

Interview with Greg Marquis

by Andrew Lagambina | April 29, 2015

Shortly after the release of their latest record, The Longer Now, I emailed back and forth with Actor|Observer frontman Greg Marquis. We talked about the themes of the record and how they tie in with his personal life, the technical process behind the record and a bit about what it’s like to be a post-hardcore band from New England.

You guys come from the Boston/New England scene where there’s so much talent to compete with; what does A|O do to stand out from the crowd?

There’s a lot we try to do to set ourselves apart in every aspect of this band, beyond just the music. We try to emulate and incorporate our eclectic influences into something that is ultimately our own. That can be difficult because our influences are all over the place, so finding our sound has taken some time. But now that we’ve found some balance, I think the result is pretty unique. We’re a “post-hardcore” band though, which can be a very confining label for those that know it. Growing up listening to a lot of bands with heavy breakdowns and catchy hooks, we’ve kinda felt like the standard “chugga-chugga” breakdowns are overdone, boring, and uninspiring at this point. So what we try to do is write something new to capture that intensity we once loved and incite a similar feeling but on a different level with either more complexity, melody, or rhythmic diversity. As a vocalist, I’ve also tried to veer away from the “good cop/bad cop” style of vocals, and instead work more and more on blending my melodies and screaming together, similar to the vocalists in bands like Balance And Composure and Norma Jean. It’s harder to do, but I like to challenge myself, and it feels more organic and cathartic.

You guys added Ryan to the band to take over your half of the guitar duties; did you find it difficult to transition from playing and singing to just being a frontman?

Only a little. Honestly, we always wanted to be a five-piece, and I wanted to be a front man from the start. But when we couldn’t find another guitarist back in 2010, I just figured I’d do both. After a while though, it wore on me. Being constrained behind a mic stand, playing a guitar, using a pedal board, singing, screaming; it all just became too much to focus on at once. I felt like my performance and stage presence were suffering, and I didn’t feel like I could enjoy myself or engage with the crowd as much as I wanted to. Musically, I didn’t feel like my playing or my singing was ever 100 percent. I needed to pick one and focus on it. So, seeing as voice is really my primary instrument, and seeing as I had already established myself as the lyricist and lead singer, I decided to focus on that and let someone else who was more committed to guitar take over. We’ve known Ryan for years now and we loved his previous bands. I wanted to get a better guitarist than me, who could contribute to songwriting and back-up singing, and who was more tech savvy to complement Alex’s ability. Ryan fulfills all of those requirements. The front man role took me a little getting used to, but I’ve spent so much of my life looking up to the front men of my favorite bands that I knew what sort of performer I wanted to be I still write guitar parts here and there, as part of the songwriting process.

How would you describe your new record The Longer Now to kids?

There was actually a lot of intent behind the lyrics, the flow, and the title of the album. Lyrically, it’s a lot of me trying to psychoanalyze myself and come to terms with the personal and existential issues that have been the root of my anxiety and depression for a long time. In most of the songs, I identify a problem either with myself, with others, the nature of our culture, or mere existence, and then I try to understand it so I can work through it and find my own solution to the problem. Honestly, writing this album has been the most therapeutic experience I’ve ever attained from music. Every single song really helped me sort out what I was feeling, what I wanted to say, and what I was going to do about it, all at a time when I really needed that. I had been anxious and depressed for a long time and it wasn’t getting better. I never felt content, just always on edge or waiting for something to finally give. After a couple years of therapy, I finally started taking anti-depressants to help clear away the dark cloud that was weighing me down. That and these songs have helped me get all the stuff off my chest that was making it hard to stay optimistic. I realized that a lot of my problems stemmed from this atheist/nihilist perspective I’ve developed over the past decade. This personal realization that there’s no inherent “meaning” to life, other than that which you ascribe to it, has made it difficult to fill that void with something sufficient. I know countless other people struggle with the same conflict, which is why it seemed important for me to address it in a public way and try to make something more out of it.

 

I know on the Circular Mill EP, there were a few book quotes and really well put lyrics. Are there similar themes on The Longer Now?

Actually, the album title is the only literary reference, but it’s the most important. It’s from a book that completely ties into everything I was just talking about. The Longer Now” is the title of the second chapter in a really thought-provoking novel called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I got that book as a hand-me-down last year from my brother Shawn, who had actually received it as a hand-me-down from our oldest brother Brian. So it kinda came full circle and hit me at the perfect time in my life. That book manages to tap into some unspoken collective subconscious that we all share with regards to spirituality, the lack thereof, and the meaning of life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re religious or not; that “big question” is something I think we all have in common, and if you haven’t made some sort of peace with it, then it can eat at you forever as it has for me. In the book, “The Longer Now” is described as a period of time in Western society that spans from the beginning of the last millennium to now. It basically explains how, over the course of this period, mankind has evolved from a mostly religious society—living with the purpose of pleasing God or some sort of deity in hopes of a prosperous afterlife—to a more scientific/post-God society, in which many people do not accept that explanation anymore and are seeking a more tangible purpose in life. In pursuit of “the truth,” we came up with the scientific method, followed by all these amazing feats in exploration, discovery, and technology, all of which have been incredibly valuable to human progress, but none of which have really been able to answer that age-old existential “question.” So in the meantime, we do our best to make ourselves comfortable and live the most “fulfilling” lives we can, focusing on personal progress, accomplishments, activities, contributions to humanity, or whatever we can, to attain a sense of value, keep ourselves preoccupied, and repress that dreadful ambiguity of why we’re here. “Spread Thin” (the second song on the album), touches on these topics, as well as my obsessive need to keep busy and accomplish something and fill up my time as much as possible, stressing myself out, running myself ragged, ultimately just to distract myself from the inherent meaninglessness of my life. The first song “Steel Yourself” ties into that as well, recognizing how living in fear of death and misfortune is a an unproductive way to spend that time.

 

The three interludes on the album really break up the onslaught with some careful crafted Post-Rock atmosphere. Can you touch on those songs?

 

The three interludes each follow a theme, mapping out a lifespan in the simplest, bleakest terms: “Absence” (before life), “Presence” (during), and “Disappearance” (after). That last one—the only one with lyrics and probably the most morbid—alludes to a place at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan called Aokigahara, aka “the Suicide Forest,” where hundreds of people end their lives every year. Many of those who go there with that intent are actually uncertain about whether or not they want to die, so they tie ribbons or rope from tree to tree as they travel deeper into the woods, like a trail of bread crumbs, so they can find their way back if they change their mind. The symbolism of that stood out to me because amidst this existential crisis, it’s hard not to think of suicide as a way out. But as long as I have something tying me to what’s important (friends, family, etc.), I can go deeper into this philosophical darkness and hopefully, in doing so, learn more about myself and the world in which we live.

How do you think Jay Maas (producer) affected the sound of the record? Did he contribute a lot to the sound? Or was he more focused on capturing the sound in your head?

He was definitely the right guy for the job and is the main reason why the mix sounds so solid and organic. We went into his studio with the songs pretty much fully written, so he mostly focused on capturing the sound that we created, while offering suggestions along the way to refine them. He actually suggested recording all the guitars through the amp that Alex built because, despite all of Jay’s amazing equipment, he thought it had the best tone for what we were doing. One of the best decisions we made was playing guitars in the same room as the amp while recording to get the most natural spontaneous feedback possible. That ended up contributing greatly to the gritty identity of this record. We’re really proud of our collaboration with Jay because we didn’t have to rely on him to help us write our music. He liked what we had, but he also chimed in where it counted and helped us convey it in the best way possible.

You guys have had guest spots on both of your last two releases like our brother, Brian Marquis, on The Carbon Date EP and then Dylan Massucco and Steve Massaroni on Circular Mill. Are there similar features on the new record?

 

Actually Jay does a guest spot on the last song. We had some other people in mind, but they ended up not working out, so we figured “hey, Jay does a lot of vocals for Defeater, sounds awesome, and usually makes a signature appearance on most of the albums he produces, so let’s just have him do it!” His part in “Piece of Mind” came out really mean. The dude grits his teeth when he screams and sounds like he’s being ripped apart. It was a perfect pissed-off punk sound for the lyrics, “People like you are the reason why people like us exist.” I’m pretty sure he nailed it in two or three takes.

Do you have a favorite song from the record?

My personal favorite is “It’s Always The Weather” because of how difficult it was for me to admit to those feelings. That song helped me grow and helped me get through a very difficult time in my life. Ultimately it taught me a lot about empathizing with someone else’s depression and their need to move on in their life. New England can be very harsh in terms of weather, and I tend to resent the people I care about for moving away instead of riding out another miserable winter with the rest of us. But I had to realize that everyone is just trying to find their own peace, and some day I too may need to shake those roots. The flow of that song is very natural and honest to me, and the connection between weather depression is something I think many people can relate to.

Okay, last question. Imagine it’s the end of 2015. Looking back on the year, what things happened to make this year a success?

Well, putting out this album and our first music video has been a huge accomplishment for us already. Hopefully we’ll have vinyl for this album by the end of the year. We also hope to play another date of Warped Tour again and do a few longer tours taking us as far South and West as we can go. We’d like to start consistently seeing more people singing along to the new songs and coming out to our New England shows. Ideally, we’d also like to get on some bigger bills with international bands that we look up to and make some more connections there. One of my dreams is to be featured in Alternative Press Magazine, so that would be cool too. We’ve already started writing a little, so we’ll probably have some new songs finished for our next release by the end of the year, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll be able to sign to a legit label that will help us do all of this. It’s a lot, but any combination of those things would make this year a success to us.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | April 29, 2015

Cody Hanson of Hinder; New music, pledgemusic and everything in-between

Hinder’s newest album will be out May 12 (AP photo)

Hinder’s newest album will be out May 12 (AP photo)

When you think of Hinder, you’re probably brought back to an afternoon in high school, sitting in front of the TV, watching Total Request Live, commonly referred to as TRL, on MTV and feeling emotions you’d yet to experience in real life when “Lips of an Angel” came on—or maybe that’s just me. Regardless, there is a certain nostalgia that the band possesses for old and new fans alike with the evoking lyrics of their catchy and never-forgotten classics. Hailing from Oklahoma City, they came into the public eye in the early 2000’s and since then have consistently released new music, relatable to a new audience each time.

I was lucky enough to speak with Cody Hanson, the drummer who has served as the heartbeat of the band from the beginning. A lot has changed since the release of Hinder’s first album, Extreme Behavior, including the gain of a new lead vocalist, Marshall Dutton. In a Facebook post back in January, the band announced that Dutton, who had been writing and producing for the band since 2009, was in fact going to serve as their new lead singer. While most human beings run screaming from the idea of change, Hanson revealed this seemed like the most natural transition for the band.

“It felt so normal, if not easier, to transition into working with Marshall as a part of the band,” Hanson revealed. “Marshall’s voice had always been the one on every demo anyway. He’d served as our main songwriter for such a long time that we were used to hearing him on the tracks before we even started working on them for an album. It’s a nice change of pace to skip the middle man and it makes the writing and recording process a lot more efficient.”

In the midst of this major transition, the band also left their longtime stay with Universal and inked a contract with The End Records. They’re set to release their first album through The End, featuring Dutton as the lead vocalist, on May 12 of this year. The album is entitled When the Smoke Clearsperhaps symbolizing the calm after the storm of changes the band has endured throughout the past few years.

“There really was no inspiration behind the album as a whole,” said Hanson. “It was more about sitting down with some acoustic guitars and working on something that emotionally inspired us in that instance. I guess you could say the motivation was all over the place, it came from different people at different times and it all merged together to form a pretty awesome collection of songs. The process of recording wasn’t much different than our other albums, especially because we weren’t faced with that pressure from a label breathing down out necks. It was cool to be able to think for ourselves and execute our own creative vision.”

“We really don’t have a schedule in mind when it comes to releasing new music,” Hanson concluded when I asked about their consistent album releases (usually every two years). “We like to take as much time as we can when it comes to touring for an album so that’s always a big follow up to a release that takes a lot of our time. With Marshall on board though, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to crank out songs and continue to release things a lot quicker!”

It’s always difficult to ask a singer, especially a songwriter, their favorite song off of a new album. It’s like they’re trying to choose between their children. It’s a lot easier however, to get an honest opinion from the drummer who wholeheartedly experiences the driving beat of every track in the band’s catalog.

“I actually have two,” Hanson laughed when I told him I knew there had to be one that he got most excited to perform, “‘Wasted Life’ is one that is just super fun to play, it has a really catchy hook that I like a lot, and my other would have to be ‘I Need Another Drink.’ It’s just a cool rock standard with an attitude that makes it fun to get into.”

“Again, it was fun to work on these types of songs without an umbrella of what they should be,” he said when touching on the transition from Universal to The End Records once again, “Universal was great and fine and dandy, but they were becoming more focused on the Pop acts of their label. We kind of wish the change could’ve come sooner, but the switch to The End couldn’t have come at a better time.”

If you follow my blog or column at all, you know I’ve done a lot of work with PledgeMusic artists in the past, so I was super excited to hear that Hinder was getting on board with their artist campaigns and using Pledge as a way to bridge the gap between themselves and their fans. PledgeMusic came about as a concept for Founder and President, Benji Rogers on an air mattress at his mom’s house around 3 a.m. one day. It revolved around the idea of connecting artists and fans from the moment the artist stepped into the studio to the project release and beyond.

“We’ve always been a very social band, so when our management talked about getting involved with Pledge it seemed like the perfect step for us to take. We wanted to bridge the gap and turn fans into friends and Pledge allows us to do that by connecting us with our audience in such a different way. It’s such a creative way for us to get to know the people that constantly support us.”

“I think it’s an asset for both us and our fans,” Hanson said when I asked who he thought benefited more from the amazing experiences PledgeMusic is allowing them to foster. “We get to bond with people who have always been there for us and fans are the most important people in our book.”

Hinder allows their fans to go about supporting their new album release with so many different options on their Pledge page. From personalized voicemails from the band to Instagram video shout-outs, there are a thousand ways for the band to connect with their audience and, with any purchase, the listener will be given a download of When the Smoke Clears. I wanted to know the one item in the band’s “store” that they are most excited about selling to a few lucky fans.

“Again, I have two,” he laughed. “A lot of us in the band love to golf, but we’re pretty terrible at it. It would be fun to get our asses kicked and connect with some of our fans that way,” he joked. “Another would have to be the private concert. I know if I was a kid who could save up the money for something like that, it would be the coolest thing ever.”

The coolest thing ever for me was being able to talk to such a passionate member of a band that strives to do everything in their power to connect with their audience. From interviews with college journalists to offering handwritten lyric sheets for donations on PledgeMusic, Hinder is all about eliminating the gap between themselves and their fans, making them a breath of fresh air for the music industry as we know it.

Local Gigs of the Week

by Ashley Winward | April 29, 2015

local gigs of the week

Toad’s Place
April 30: Electric Thursdays: EDM Party

May 1: Circa Survive with Balance and Composure and Chon

May 3: Ilovemakonnen with KEY! and Sonny Digital

The Space
May 2: Hawthorne Heights with Anchors Away

May 3: Survay Says! with Cometa, Made in China and Havenfield
BAR (21+)
May 6: Low Cut Connie with The Silks and The Meadow Brothers
Cafe Nine (21+)
May 2: Mission O with Boy Girl Party, and Teen Girl Scientist Monthly

May 5: The Meatmen with Against the Grain

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