Thursday, July 2, 2015  
The Charger Bulletin

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.

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.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | April 22, 2015

 “A conversation with John Parnell: The news that sparked the noise” 

We all have outlets, creative nuances that allow us to express feelings in constructive ways. Sometimes, however, our creative outlets can be forced to change due to natural forces in which we have no control of.

John Parnell, and artist and musician from Birmingham, Ala. knows about this force of change all too well. The husband and father was faced with a large obstacle when he was diagnosed with ataxia, a disease that causes a loss of coordination in the body’s extremities. At the time of his diagnosis, Parnell was discovering Japanese and drone music, and as a part of his coping with his newfound disease, he decided to create an album formatted around noise and chaos – a type of music that depicts his inner struggle.

The new record, entitled A Taxis (coming from the Greek origin meaning without coordination), is focused mainly around the distortion of sound and the album was mastered at high levels to achieve abrasiveness. In his own words, “This is my attempt to explain the struggle I feel having a form of genetic ataxia. While performing and recording (which took place at the same time) I was very aware of the direction I wanted the music to take. I knew I wanted the album to be more than just a collection of songs.”

As a music lover and creative enthusiast, I wanted to know the importance behind noise and drone music and what sparked Parnell’s initial interest in sharing it with others.

“Initially I loved the minimal aspect of it,” he explained. “I felt you could interject your own emotional response. Those two types of music spoke to me in a different way than other forms of outsider music did. To me, they convey the images of abstract art into a sonic form. This type of music is a lot like abstract art. I mean that in the sense that whether you like it or not you have to deal with it. You have to process it.”

Parnell brings up a distinct comparison of noise music and abstract art and their similarities to one another. As a listener, you find yourself searching for meaning behind the noise the same way you do when viewing an abstract painting and individuals can derive different emotional aspects from abstract art, the same way they are evoked by distorted and non-confined musical combinations.
Realizing the literal struggle within Parnell’s music, one may wonder how his diagnosis has affected his outlook toward his creative work.

“In a way I think it has given me a stronger work ethic. The feeling that time may not be on my side. I loved the fact that ataxia comes from the Greek word a taxis, which means without coordination, I think, something along those lines,” Parnell said. “I’m sure some could say noise music or drone could be defined that way. To me it’s perfect to have this disease and make this sort of music.”

All of the instrumentation and recording for A Taxis was constructed by Parnell himself. The album was mastered and released under Parnell’s label OBS. He went onto explain his biggest influences both musically personally that have helped nurture who he is today as an artist and entrepreneur.

“Musically…Damn…too many…,” he joked. “Boris, man. They are such an inspiration in the fact that it seems like they do whatever they want musically. Personally, is simple,” Parnell continued.

“Henry Rollins for his sheer attitude towards work and his work ethic. By work I mean creative endeavors. Also, I would have to give credit to Ian Mackay. His story of forming Dischord Records and how it is run is very inspirational to me and how I would like to grow my label OBS.”

Parnell is an inspiration both musically and spiritually. He is a man who truly seizes the moments and opportunities that life presents. He is inspiring and innovative and his creative risk-taking transcends the confines of the music industry today. I feel very lucky to have been able to speak briefly with the man behind the music and encourage you to listen to his latest project with an open-mind and inventive spirit. Be ready to experience something new and develop your own emotional surmise from what you hear.

Interview with Justin Levinson

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | April 8, 2015

Justin Levinson is a singer/songwriter from Burlington, Vermont. Renowned for a catalog of songs covering everything from power-pop to country to “feel good heartbreak.”

Justin Levinson (Photo provided by Justin Levinson)

Justin Levinson (Photo provided by Justin Levinson)

Levinson has earned steady praise from audiences and critics alike since his 2005 debut. Seven years and four acclaimed albums later, Justin maintains a solid presence that has seen him share the stage with acts like Matt Wertz, Will Dailey, Churchill, Ryan Cabrera, and toured with artists such as Tyler Hilton, Aaron Carter, Teddy Geiger and more. Here is what the talented musician had to say.

Elyse: What made you want to become a singer?
Justin: I grew up in a very musical household. My Father is a music teacher and he got me started on lessons at an early age. I pretty much grew up with The Beatles by my crib. It wasn’t until my teens when I started singing and joined the chorus in school.

E: What is the best thing about touring?
J: The best part about touring is meeting so many great people. I love to hangout with the crowd after the show and talk to fans. I also enjoy getting to know the other acts, club owners and all the folks involved in the production.

E: What is the worst or hardest thing about tour?
J: The hardest thing for me is sleeping. I get excited and anxious about the shows and I start analyzing how I performed the night before. I feel like I become a bit of an insomniac. Sometimes I also miss my dog Gigi.

E: If you could travel anywhere for a show, where would it be?
J: I’d really love to tour Europe someday! That is definitely on my bucket list.

E: Whom are you dying to open for in the near future?
J: I’d love to open for FUN., such a great band.

E: Whom would you want to write songs or an album with?
J: I actually have never done any co-writing in my career and I’m not sure if it’s for me. Someday I’d like to write a musical maybe then I can collaborate with some top-notch arrangers and producers.

E: How do you go through with writing your songs?
J: Usually I start with a chord progression and start humming a hook. Lyrics just fall into place after that. I always try to write from the heart.

E: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you do?
J: I’d most likely be involved with baseball in some way. I love the art of pitching and have been a huge Atlanta Braves fan since I was a youngster. Maybe a pitching coach or scout.

E: What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years?
J: I’d love to continue what I’m doing and tour as much as possible. Would love to get a few music placements in film and TV as well.

Keep an eye out, he is working on new music in the studio.

No cash, more gum: Jay Krugman shares his story of success with the UNH campus

by The Charger Bulletin | March 23, 2015

By Emma O’Dell

 “The music business has never been more vital, and the record business more dead.” – Jay Krugman

Music producer Jay Krugman steps onto the campus of University of New Haven to tell the music industry students the story of his life Monday, March 9.

Jay Krugman is the brother of Murray Krugman, a music professor at the University of New Haven. Maury teaches Production, Promotion and Distribution, and invited his brother to talk to the students. Following a lecture, Krugman held a question and answer session.

Everyone on campus was welcome, but the event was mainly for the music students to attend and learn how to further their careers. Krugman also helped to provide an insight into the world of music that he has been involved in for years.

Before Jay Krugman talked, his brother introduced him by telling a story about their childhood. Their father had given them bubble gum; Murray ate all of his within that day, but Jay had sold his to the kid down the street. That night, they got a knock on the door and their father answered it. Coming back to get Jay from the dinner table, their father told Jay he must give back the money. Jay, being five at the time, said “no cash, more gum,” and from then on, Murray knew his brother would do great things.

Jay Krugman started out at Harper College in Illinois as anthropology major. It wasn’t until Woodstock of 1969 when he was sitting on the field looking around at the thousands of people that had bought tickets that realized there was a lot of money in the music business.

At first, he was a cab driver for three months after college; from there he worked in the tape library organizing music for $3 an hour and went on interviews for three years. After that, he went into production at Record Planet in New York as a recording engineer for eight years. Following that, he went on to become the product manager at Columbia Records, where he was head of marketing from 1989 to 1996.

“The day after the first day, it’s all on you,” Krugman stated.

In 2004, he left BMI in California and moved back to New York. Krugman decided to become an independent marketing consultant. Because he an independent marketing agent, he told the students that they must know three things: “What’s the product? Who’s the audience? And how do you reach them?”

During the talk, he had the students engage in conversation and ask any questions they wanted because he has worked with such big names like Tony Bennett, New Kids on the Block, and Rolling Stones. His back and forth banter with his brother made the students laugh with them and feel more open.

One question asked by a student was what he thought was the most challenging moment in his career. Krugman answered by saying “relationships are everything, to make a name for yourself and to make connections.” He then pointed to his brother, “[I] had this guy, who was a legendary rock producer at the time, and that helped.” This made the students nod with agreement and admiration.

When asked what would be the most important thing he would want these students to take away from his visit, Krugman responded with, “I hope some students in this room will hear what I have to say and it helps them find their musical path.”

“It was interesting to see what my professor’s brother had to say,” said Nicole Pierce, a music industry major. “I hadn’t realized how successful he had been in the music industry before the presentation.”

Jay Krugman inspired and opened the eyes of many prospective students.

Interview with Nalani and Sarina

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | March 11, 2015

Born to folk-music-loving parents, twin sisters Nalani and Sarina Bolton attended concerts and sing-a-longs “in the womb,” eventually joining in vocally themselves at about five years old. Their formal classical piano training began a year later. Their mother made sure their informal music education included all the great —songwriters Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as well as the Beatles and Alanis Morissette.

Nalani and Sarina will be performing on March 25 in New York (Photo provided by Nalani and Sarina)

Nalani and Sarina will be performing on March 25 in New York (Photo provided by Nalani and Sarina)

“I told my mom that I fell asleep thinking about music and woke up thinking about it too. I think that’s when she knew she was in trouble,” Sarina recalls.

Songwriting, which became their greatest passion, followed soon after. “It’s my therapy,” said Sarina. “It’s the best way I have of expressing my emotions.”

“If our songs can have a positive effect on someone, make them feel not so alone, then that’s what makes us want to keep writing songs,” added Nalani.

I got the privilege to interview these two talented girls and here were their answers to what I asked them.

Elyse: Introduce yourselves.

Nalani and Sarina: We are Nalani and Sarina and we are singer-songwriters from Flemington, N.J.

E: What made you girls want to be singers?

N&S: There was never that specific time for us saying, “Hey I wanna be a singer!” Singing and music has just always been so much a part of our lives we kind of just thought it was normal. We started off with musical theater and ended up taking opera lessons, but once we got to our sophomore year, we were watching a “battle of the bands” concert at our high school and we think around that time we both knew that we wanted to perform our own stuff.

E: What is the best part about doing music?

N&S: The best part about doing music is getting people’s responses…hearing from someone how they relate to a song that is so close and personal is an unbelievable feeling. Experiencing that connection with people is always inspiring.

E: What is the hardest part about doing music?

N&S: There are three really hard things about music. One is writers’ block. There are those days where you feel like you’re never going to write again so you have to do everything in your power to get your inspiration back. Secondly is mixing music with business. It’s so hard to look at your own piece of art as a business, but it is necessary to understand how it works in order to navigate in this industry, while keeping your vision. The third hardest part about music is having a normal social life!

E: If you girls could work with any producer who would it be?

N&S: If we could work with any producer, it would be Dan Wilson…he is a phenomenal writer and captures the music and emotion in a song without cluttering it. We would also like to at least be in the same room as Max Martin and just pick his brain!

E: Where is somewhere you always wanted to travel to?

N&S: We would really like to travel to Japan, Australia or Paris… for one: the culture, two: the food and three: the accents! We enjoy going to new places where we feel completely out of our element. We visited the Philippines a few years ago and took a lot home with us.

E: Who writes your songs or do you both?

N&S: Every song varies from either writing a song or idea separately and then coming together and feeding off each other to finish it, or sitting in a room together and coming up with something right off the spot. But no matter what, the two of us are a part of every song that we write.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | March 11, 2015

Empire takes over the music industry

Fox’s latest series, Empire, is not only taking the Wednesday night TV-watchers by storm, but also the music industry.

Taraji P. Henson, as Cookie, in a scene from Empire (AP photo)

Taraji P. Henson, as Cookie, in a scene from Empire (AP photo)

Contrary to expectations, program creators, Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, who served as a guest speaker at our campus on Tuesday, March 3, have made sure to keep this series all about the music, peppering in the occasional catastrophe to keep viewers on their toes. Perhaps the greatest feat that this directing duo accomplished would be the ability to capture a musical audience with less than thirty seconds of a hit song at least three times per episode.

The record sales that Empire has successfully recruited on iTunes make them a frontrunner in chart topping hits; rare occasions for a Fox show. The idea of genre-specific industry series started with the show Nashville, which premiered on ABC in 2012 and is in its third season.

While Nashville’s music is popular on streaming services such as Spotify, even they have not been fortunate enough to reap the benefit of sales that Empire has yielded in the past few months they’ve been on air.

A song capable of taking your breath away is V Bozeman’s “What is Love.” We first hear this song in the pilot episode of the series and (spoiler alert), again when Bozeman’s reoccurring character of Veronika is auditioning for the Empire label’s major competitor. Bozeman is in a production deal with Timbaland who also serves as the music producer for the show. The young vocalist’s runs and riffs will take you on a journey and I guarantee you’ll forget you’re watching a show on Fox. The emotion that she conveys in this simplistic, vocally based track is sure to bring goose bumps to your arms and tears to your eyes.

Moving in a completely different direction, Yazz and Serayah McNeill are a perfect combination on “Drip Drop,” the show’s most popular track to date. The synth-influenced beat drives a powerful underscore for the kind of lyrics that make you want to dance and McNeill’s vocal purity serves as an element of purity that’s unexpected when the beat first drops.

My personal favorite track has been introduced throughout the entire series thus far, but the version that forced me to rewind the scene over and over again (shout out to my DVR) came from the last episode entitled “Unto the Breach.” Perhaps the most chaotic episode to date, this catchy song serves as a beautiful resolution towards the end of an episode that seems to yield no optimistic outcomes.

“You’re So Beautiful” starts out with Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard) on the piano accompanied in the first chorus by Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) and Delphine (Estelle). After Hakeem Lyons’ (Bryshere Y. Gray) verse, fellow Empire artist Tiana Brown (Serayah McNeill) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) join their fellow cast mates to create enviable harmonies. You will definitely wear out your repeat button after discovering this track. It is the epitome of the series itself, addictive and musically-driven.

Interview with Pop! Fiction

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | March 4, 2015

Pop! Fiction is a pop American band comprised of Justin Tyler, Tyler Nichols, Alex SkyWalker and Will McCoy. The band was founded in Orange County, Calif. in 2011, where they wrote, recorded and released a five song EP Next Level.

Pop!Fiction originated in Orange County, Calif. (Photo provided by Pop!Fiction)

Pop!Fiction originated in Orange County, Calif. (Photo provided by Pop!Fiction)

The EP was produced by Kyle Black at Mike Green’s Treehouse Studios. Pop! Fiction’s second release, a self-titled EP released in 2012, featured production and writing credits from Linus Of Hollywood, Jaret Reddick (Bowling For Soup), and Ben Romans.

See what the guys had to say when I asked them these questions during our interview.

Elyse: How did you guys come up with the band name ‘Pop Fiction’?

PF: When first deciding on a band we wrote down around 50 names and Pop! Fiction stuck out to us the most and thought it was catchiest. We wish we had a crazy story behind it haha.

E: How did you guys meet each other and become a band?

PF: We’ve been a band for three years now and we’ve all known each other for a very long time and have been playing music together as well before we even started Pop! Fiction.

E: Since being in the music business, what was difficult to over come?

PF: This industry is insane and very competitive! To be honest we’re still overcoming the most difficult part and that’s breaking through to mainstream and becoming a household name. That’s ourmain goal as a band.

E: While writing lyrics, how do you create the name of the song?

PF: The name of the song is typically a line that we repeat or that’s catchy in the chorus of the song.

E: Out of all the singles you released, which would be your favorites?

PF: I think we can all agree our most favorite and popular singles are “Come Back” and our most recent single “California Kids”.

E: From the cover videos you’ve done so far, which was the funniest to record?

PF: We love doing cover videos and we’ve gotten great responses from them. The funniest to record was probably the Taylor Swift one we did because we recorded it in a tunnel somewhere in Long Beach and people were walking by and we’re like, “what the hell?” And we were playing the song through little speakers too so it was very hard to hear and sing along to.

E: From your previous shows, which artist did you enjoy playing with?

PF: We recently played our biggest show as a band at the House of Blues Anaheim with MKTO. This show was amazing is exactly why we do music. Everyone loved us and it was an incredible night.

E: As musicians, what are your daily routines before shows? (If any)

PF: We really don’t have any routines. But definitely do stretch a little and drink hot tea. And we also love to say hello to everyone waiting in line before the show.

E: What do you guys hope for in 2015?

PF: We would love to tour constantly! That’s pretty much one of our main goals right now. We want to play across the country to as many fans as possible.

E: What would you like to say to every who supports your music?

PF: We appreciate all the love and support that we receive from everyone! We respond to every person that replies on twitter to show that too. To be honest we wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for the fans! SO WE LOVE YOU ALL!

Make sure you check out their recent song “Down For Whatever,” which is now available on iTunes.


MIC show weathers storm for Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties

by Ashley Winward | February 18, 2015

On Saturday, Feb. 14, fans piled into the German Club to get out of the bitter cold to enjoy the acoustic stylings of The Wonder Year’s Dan “Soupy” Campbell under the pseudonym Aaron West.
Aaron West has been a character study Campbell has been exploring for the past year with his “debut” album We Don’t Have Eachother. The show also featured support from bands The View from Up Here, Everything Ever and Call It Arson. It was certainly a Valentine’s Day to remember for everyone in attendance regardless of whether they came with a date or not.

Aaron West performed in the German Club at UNH, Feb. 14 (Photo by Dave Taylor)

Aaron West performed in the German Club at UNH, Feb. 14 (Photo by Dave Taylor)

The Music Industry Club hosted the night. “This event was definitely one of MIC’s best shows in a long time in terms of attendance,” said Jong Kim, vice president of live sound for MIC. “We were also able to run the show very smoothly with the least amount of technical difficulties, thanks to the help of all the other club members.”

First on stage was The View From Up Here; an acoustic pop-punk act from UNH led by vocalist Andrew Cunningham, featuring Michael Quick, Dom Gubernat and Gavin Stacey.

This was the band’s album release show for their self-titled EP, playing the entire record as well as a cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark.”

The energy from the band reflected all the excitement they had for the evening, appreciative of the chance to perform and share what had been months in the making. The View From Up Here was mixed by Josh Welshman at Flux Studios and Mastered by Sam Pura of Panda Studios, who has worked with the likes of State Champs and The Story So Far. The band’s personable nature on stage and passion made their show enjoyable and there is no doubt these guys have immense potential.

“I haven’t played on stage, with a full band, since high school, so I was incredibly excited to play,” said Quick, A View From Up Here’s guitarist. “Not to mention the fact that there were more people in the German Club than I have ever seen at a MIC show in a while. It’s always a great experience to share something that you’ve created with other people.”

Next to perform was Everything Ever, a punk group from Staten Island New York. The trio showed their powerful presence from their first note and kept the energy up through a set full of new songs. Everything Ever recently signed to a new label, Secret Audio Club and have their debut full length album Solid Ground coming out on March 10. Not only did the band have great stage presence while performing, but their banter in between songs was witty and anecdotal to their audience. Prefacing the song “Doing Nothing” by discussing their college experience got huge laughs from the whole crowd and the song itself was probably the highlight of their performance.

Direct support on the bill was from Connecticut locals Call It Arson with a mix of upbeat punk beats and some more mellow tracks suitable for the romantic evening. There was a definite following of the group in the crowd, as fans called out song requests they even threw some into the set as they went along. The band put on a dynamic set spanning their entire discography from their self-titled album to their most recent release Between Two Cities.

James Downe gave a strong vocal that really resonated with the audience. Supporting local artists is something that has been very important to Music Industry Club when it comes to booking artists and it’s been great to see over the years truly how much talent is coming out of Connecticut.

Finally it was time for Aaron West to hit the stage. Aaron West is a persona completely imagined by The Wonder Years front man Dan “Soupy” Campbell, inspired by The Mountain Goats’ album All Hail West Texas. Campbell’s dedication to the story and character stretches to both on and off stage; he signed autographs as “A.West” all evening and sported a Buffalo Bills hat on his way in, “I’m not a Bills fan, Aaron is” when asked about it by a fan.

In between songs like “Grapefruit” and “Our Apartment” Aaron West tells a sad tale of the past year of his life; the death of his father followed by his wife’s miscarriage ultimately ending in their divorce leaves him lost and unsure of himself. He travels in his father’s old Mustang down the coast until he finds a place to clear his head, ultimately leaving the listener wondering what’s going to come next.

Although without his full band, the Roaring Twenties, Aaron West performed a stripped down and vulnerable solo performance.

The crowd included a huge number of The Wonder Years fans and like most shows it became a sing along of somber melodies. Even with such soft songs with sad subject matter, the subdued mood in the room never lost its energy.

Interview with lead singer of Plaid Brixx

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | February 18, 2015

Plaid Brixx was formed in early 2013 by the band’s lead singer Chris Duggan, who has led bands and written music since he was ten. The band’s debut EP, Chemistry, is pop with a razor’s edge of rock and an aftershave of punk.

Plaid Brixx recently released their debut EP Chemistry (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Plaid Brixx recently released their debut EP Chemistry (Photo obtained via Facebook)

Duggan, who penned and produced all five songs on the EP, crafted a contemporary sound for this collection of in-your-face songs.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to interview Duggan, the singer of the band. Here is what he had to say to the questions I asked him.

Elyse: How did you come up with the band name “Plaid Brixx”?
Chris: I have a really weird fascination/obsession with plaid – and there’s a lot you can do with the imagery in terms of graphic design and stylization from a utilitarian perspective – so I thought it would be a good word to include in the band name! And bricks are strong, hearty building materials so the two words went really well together. It stemmed off of an idea I had about how cool it would be to see a brick wall with a plaid pattern on it.

E: What made you want to be in a band?
C: I started my first band when I was a mere child because I knew I had to write songs. The performance thing came later, but for me it’s always been about the songwriting. I was lucky to discover my love for writing pop songs when I was a child so you might say from that moment I knew I wanted to be in a band.

E: Off your EP Chemistry which is your favorite to perform live?
C: Chemistry has an undeniable energy about it when we play it live, but I think my favorite to play is “Here I Go Again” because of all the dynamic changes between the parts of the song. Plus it’s not too strenuous on my voice, so that’s always nice!

E: How did the name of your EP Chemistry come along?
C: I wanted to name the EP after the song Chemistry, since I think it best encapsulates the overall feel of the EP. It is about the chemistry fading between two people and what you can learn about yourself and life during that time.

E: Whom would you like to write with in the future?
C: I would absolutely LOVE to write with any of these people: Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Taylor Swift, Mark Ronson, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Danger Mouse and Imogen Heap. So, if any of you happen to be reading this, hit me up. I could probably name more, but those listed are definitely my current top tier of influences when it comes to writing the perfect song.

E: If you could travel anywhere in the world to perform, where would you go?
C: I would love to go to Tokyo. I have always wanted to go there, and I could stop at the Nintendo HQ and poke around a bit while I was in town. It would be glorious.

E: Who are your influences? Are they also your musical inspirations?
C: Aside from those I mentioned earlier, my personal style influences are probably Blink-182, Sum-41, The Strokes, The Hives, The Killers – basically a lot of early 2000’s alt-rock and pop-punk. My musical inspirations change on a daily basis, so while those bands influenced me to start making alt-rock sort of music, the motivation behind the writing changes based on the wind.

E: 1 interesting fact about you guys that no one knows.
C: Mark has never been on an airplane before. Chris hates cheese unless it’s on pizza. Cole is hiding a lifetime worth of secrets in his hair.

If you haven’t listened to their debut album, then what you are waiting for, go check it out!

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