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Exclusive Ear Buds Interview : Wheatus

By Nunzio Moudatsos

Exclusive Ear Buds Interview : Wheatus

(photo courtesy of Danny Allen)


By: Nunzio Moudatsos, Head of Artist Services


Ahead of their annual fall tour to the UK/Europe (which is currently taking place), I sat down with Wheatus frontman Brendan B. Brown and bassist Matthew Milligan for a little chat.

Let me preface this with some backstory. I first met the Wheatus folks back around 2011 while living in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. There was a great little network of musicians in our neighborhood, and over the next few years we collaborated on a few musical projects. In 2014 the band was gracious enough to take my previous band on a 5+ week tour throughout the UK and Europe which was just a phenomenal experience.

Fast forward to today - I wanted to feature the band because they are fucking rockers. There's just so much more to the group than just 'Teenage Dirtbag' and I want y'all to know it. We can all learn a lot from these folks, and they're some of the hardest working musicians I've ever been around.  

Happy reading, kids.

-Nunzio

So, it’s almost time - you're embarking on yet another UK tour in a few days. Congrats on that! You guys have always had a great following in the UK, and your albums have done particularly well there. What do you find unique about music industry over there as opposed to here in the US? 

Matthew: In our experience, UK fans have SO much loyalty. In the States it seems like people tend to move on to the next thing enthusiastically, but in the UK when you make a fan, they become one for life.  We have some folks over there who have been seeing the band regularly since the very first tour back in 2001.

You’ve definitely spent a lot of time touring there. Tell us about some of your favorite past touring experiences.

Matthew: Oh man, so many things come to mind. We got to play Wembley Arena a couple years ago with Busted... that was especially surreal. We're not the most exciting folks on the road... most nights after the gig you can find us on the bus binge-watching various TV series in the lounge. LOST, The Sopranos, and Dexter have all had some serious marathons over the years. We can also tell you the best cup of coffee available in virtually every town in Britain. 

It’s so cool that you guys have found a “home” there in the UK. I feel like people here in the US have this weird perception of Wheatus. One thing I personally wish more people knew about you guys is how much you fucking RIP live. You’ve got a bunch of super talented musicians and vocalists in the band. Why do you think the band is perceived differently over in the UK as opposed to here in the US?

Matthew: Dirtbag was a MUCH bigger song in the UK than in the USA. Virtually everyone you encounter in the UK knows the name Wheatus. In the States, that's just not the case. It puts us in an interesting position actually... it's harder for us to tour in the States, but when we do, audiences have much less of an expectation of what we do. In the UK we've got a platinum album that people know well and expect to hear. In the States, we can play a wide variety of material plus Dirtbag and have people go "Wow that was a cool set... and I think I recognized that one song!"  

That’s very true. I mean, I saw it firsthand. The fans over in the UK are really so supportive of you guys and you give it back to them by regularly touring over there almost every year, it seems. How have you been able to maintain that great fanbase there in the UK, and elsewhere abroad, for such a long time? 

Matthew: To a certain extent, we're not sure! We've made a 4-6 week tour of the UK/EU sort of our annual tradition, and each time we go back we worry that THIS will be the time no one comes because people have grown tired of us... but it still hasn't happened. Maybe it's because it's been covered a few times over the years, but Teenage Dirtbag has remained a major part of the culture in a few countries, the UK especially. We're grateful, that's for sure. 

I’m glad you brought the covers thing up. There have been some awesome covers of Teenage Dirtbag throughout the years. Maybe most famously, One Direction covered the song and included it in their "This Is Us" concert documentary. More recently All Time Low covered Dirtbag as part of their Green Room Sessions series. What’s it like to hear these covers for the first time?

Brendan: I've really never failed to enjoy one. The 1D thing was cool, when they morphed into superheroes. ATL seem to be closer to me personally in their ideas about it... love those guys. Chris Carrabba has done a great version and asked me on stage to play it with him one time. That was super cool ‘cuz I'm very much a fan of his. 

Do you have any favorites of the bunch?

Matthew: I was floored the first time I heard Weezer and Dashboard Confessional do it. Those are two acts who meant the world to me as a young aspiring musician... hearing them cover our song still just seems like a dream.   

Brendan: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain probably take the cake for favorite along with SCALA, who did the choir version for the film Bully. Phoebe Bridgers and Mary Lambert are tied for a close second. And then there's Amy Shark who very recently smashed it. I can't decide... it's that thing where they inject their own lives into it and it becomes a better song for it.   

And you guys have done a bunch of covers yourselves, from Erasure's "A Little Respect" to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”. I was also lucky enough to hear your ridiculously good renditions of “The Trees” by Rush and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction each night on the 2014 UK/Europe tour. There’s a lot of pressure in putting a cover out since your version will always be compared to the originals, so how do you go about picking a cover to perform? 

Brendan: It has to be something that's meant a lot to me for some time, otherwise I can't do it justice. I liked “What Makes You Beautiful” the first time I heard it, so that was a no brainer. Rush songs are different though...very high stakes. There is no easy Rush song. Pat is also one of the best singers who's ever lived so the pressure is on. I enjoy the challenge of something I love and have to work very hard to accomplish. “A Little Respect” was a pretty big mountain to climb because of the bravery those guys exude and the challenge of migrating a synth track to a rock format. We did have to track it a few times before we got it right. Yeah, we take covers very seriously. 

Have you ever gotten any feedback of your covers from the original performers?

Brendan: Um, no. I'd be afraid to hear it honestly... especially from Rush. Oh my god, I'd die.  

Back to Teenage Dirtbag for a second - I mean it’s just such a timeless song. I really think that kids of any generation - back then, now, and in the future - can relate to the message and kind of claim it as their anthem. I love that the song enjoys these spikes in popularity every few years by each new generation of kids. So tell me, what's the true message behind the song?

Brendan: Wow...the real answer is: whatever it means to you. Obviously, when I made it, it came from my life as a kid. 1984, Long Island, Satanic cult murder and drugs, AC/DC and Iron Maiden being somewhat forbidden or very frowned upon, and finding my musical identity in that world. BUT, what it means to me isn't as important as what people make of it when they make it their own. The author is dead... that dirtbag poem survives only because people can make it their own story, that's the real message.   

Do you think the message of the song has a different impact now as opposed to back during the time you wrote it?

Brendan: Very much so. As I said, my contemporary identity as a fan of heavy music in 1984 put me into an exceptionally dark category. A “dirtbag” was decidedly NOT a good thing to be back then. Again, it doesn't really matter too much what I lived through and what made me write it. Everyone has their own struggle... everybody has to fight to be free, from bad ideas, or bad cultural pressure, or what have you. Mary Lambert's interpretation of it as a lesbian love story is particularly gratifying in that sense. I love that it can be taken that way.  

That is a really amazing interpretation, especially coming from someone like Mary. So why do you think the song is so relatable to people?

Brendan: Someone once said to me that everyone has to go through that first round of feeling like they don't belong to the rest of humanity, where their instincts about what kind of person to be, are at odds with norms or ideas of the herd. It can be terrifying. I looked to music back then to reassure me that my weird ideas about what kind of person to become were OK. I have Malcolm Young (RIP) and Neil Peart and Prince and Steve Harris to thank for the reassurance I needed through that time in my life, among others. 

You just named a few artists there who you admire, and I know that at least a few of them are former Columbia Records artists. Kind of goes to show just how much success you’ve had as a band, getting signed onto the same label as some of your heroes. Let’s chat about that because you’ve got an interesting story about being on a major label. Your self-titled debut album was released by Columbia Records [Sony] but despite its worldwide success, your relationship with the label ended on not-so-great terms when they unexpectedly shelved your second album. What was the major label experience like for you and what are some of the pitfalls?

Brendan: The Columbia Records thing was essentially a mismatch. Donnie Ienner [then chairman of Sony], Blair McDonald [then Director of A&R at Sony], and our A&R, Kevin Patrick, understood us and were cool with us producing our own records… but Donnie and Blair left before we finished album #2 and nobody else saw us the way Kevin did, so the relationship was over at that point. You'd think they'd find a way to keep a new band whose first record did well and cost next to nothing but, alas, that's not how it worked back then. It was all for the better though. There were tons of bad ideas thrown at us during that time. It was difficult in that regard, but we avoided most of them. Some of the people who work at labels do so for the wrong reasons. It can be an intensely political viper pit and the art sometimes doesn't survive the self-interest. I've seen some people manage it very well. I'm not one of those people. You have to be ready for that. It's not a situation where you can make of it what you can. A major label is a multi-national corporation; they're not interested in your art project. They're out to make money. 

Then once the Columbia deal ended, you began releasing everything else independently on your own label, Montauk Mantis. What do you like, or dislike, about being an independent artist?

Brendan: You get to craft your interactions and delivery of music to people who like it in your own way. That also means you have to do everything yourself. I've never really minded that, so it's a good fit. Sometimes things fall off the table. While I love making good records, I'm not a very ambitious person so I think the little ecosystem we have is designed from that energy. It's gonna be different for everyone, but that's what's cool about it... what works for us may not work for you, but you'll find your own ideas are better for you anyway. 

It’s a bit easier these days to release music independently, and here at INTHECLOUDS we work with a ton of those types of bands. We’re always trying to come up with ways to help bands do their own thing, get heard by some new ears, and continue to grow. What advice can you give to indie bands that don’t have label support?

Brendan: Always make your own records! Unique mistakes are better than copy-cat perfections. I love records that survive on their individualism. I think they last longer. Listen to EVERYTHING. There are good ideas everywhere. Also, make sure you have something to say; empathy and adversity can be renewable resources for humanity in your music.  That's why it connects, so do that! Listen and feel. 

Agreed, good advice! Once the music is created It’s super important that bands can get their tunes out there and get heard. That’s made a bit easier these days with streaming services. How do you feel about being an indie artist in this digital streaming era?

Matthew: As an artist it's definitely got its ups and downs. You can get your music out there so quickly and effortlessly that it's still a surreal process... but the competition to get the attention of listeners has never been more fierce.  You feel it as a listener too.  Unlimited access to everything is overwhelming, and I've usually got a huge backlog of new artists/albums I'm eager to check out but haven't had the time to sit down with yet. 

Yeah, that’s for sure. I think that’s why physical media is important these days. We’re in the midst of a vinyl resurgence that started a few years back and cassettes are starting to make their comeback too. It’s pretty essential to have a physical item for fans grab in this digital age. Thoughts?

Matthew: When I wasn't working with Wheatus I ran a record store for about 8 years... it's definitely been a wild time for physical media. I think it's a combination of things, including excellent marketing and creating a new collector's market. But more than that, I do believe that there's a whole younger generation of music fans who have grown up in the world of listening to music entirely on the computer, in the background, in a passive way. Actually playing a record demands your attention in a way that a Spotify link or YouTube clip just can't, in my opinion. It's an experience.  If you're a music fan, having that experience for the first time is really powerful.   

What platforms do you prefer to listen on, personally?

Matthew: I've got a pretty substantial vinyl collection at this point... in fact I've really got way more than my small apartment should have to handle. So, I always love getting to drop the needle on something. But when I'm out of the house I've got an Apple Music subscription that I've come to appreciate more than I originally expected.  

Completely random, but I have to bring this next topic up. We’re living in strange times and the political atmosphere is super volatile. Brendan, you’re a very active Twitter user and you certainly don't shy away from getting political on there. There’s a lot of discussion lately about artists/entertainers and their role in politics. How has the current, or past, political climate impacted your writing? 

Brendan: Well, I find myself illustrating the perils of monarchy more than I used to. It's too bad... that's not a joke. I'm also aware that there are a lot of people who are not benefiting at all from this nationalist populism asshattery we're in the middle of. I'm interested in those people, their view of things, and find myself writing on those narratives lately. Representative government is about maintaining a healthy argument, in the public sphere. Fugazi and Ani DiFranco, early, early examples for me and I feel obligated to speak. I also have a degree in history and find it impossible to ignore the re-emergence of deadly patterns from the 20th century. If you don't know your history, stick around and you'll get to learn by doing.

Right, and I personally admire that you use your platform to discuss these things. Just in general, I know there are people out there who hate when artists speak up about politics. So what do you say to those out there who believe that artists shouldn't voice their political opinions and just “stick to their art?”

Brendan: Fuck those people. Seriously, do I have to point out the idiocy of expressing the political view that someone else should keep their political views to themselves? Why don't those people keep THAT idea to THEMselves? Dingbats. But... in the interest of ending on a positive :) note...thank you very much for thinking of us and for reaching out. We do not take your attention for granted. Much love!

//end

I want to thank BBB and Matthew of Wheatus for taking the time to chat with me in the midst of their fall craziness. If you didn't already check it out, the band was awesome enough to curate our November Ear Buds cassette mixtape. Each song on the mixtape includes a solo or side project of each member of the band.

Wheatus is:
Brendan B Brown / Guitar & Vocal
Matthew Milligan / Bass
Brandon Ticer / Keyboards
Leo Freire / Drums
Joey Slater / Backing Vocal
Gabrielle Sterbenz / Backing Vocal
Karlie Bruce / Backing Vocal

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Exclusive Ear buds Interview: Reality Suite

By Kristyn Potter

Exclusive Ear buds Interview: Reality Suite

A few months back, we released a cassette tape in partnership with New Jersey rock radio station, WRAT featuring the New Jersey indie, pop, rock group Reality Suite. ITC sat down with them for an exclusive interview—read it here folks! 

How did you meet?

Antonio was introduced to me by his cousin in the 4th grade. I played drums – Antonio owned a guitar – could barely play. But we both had this uninhibited desire to create music. We sang and poorly played into a boom box….created our own cassette tape “albums” every few months and lent them to our classmates in elementary school. Antonio and I began playing with other people in High School – this is when I met Joe. Years and several bands later, we formed Reality Suite and met Kimmii through a Craigslist ad.

How did you get started?

(Brian King, Drums) My cousin played me KISS Alive 2 when I was just entering kindergarten. After seeing the bombastic live photo that spread across the album’s gatefold, I wanted to be a rock star. I am not sure why I chose the drums…..but I was banging on everything from the garbage cans outside, pots and pans and the guard rail on the road in front of my parent’s house. I also began writing lyrics and arranging songs in grammar school. Eventually, I became fascinated with the recording and production side of things.

(Kimmii Heart, Vocals) I started singing when I was 4 years old. I would walk around the house singing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. I wouldn’t shut up. I was driving everyone in the house crazy. My parents saw that I had something special and signed me up for vocal lessons. I started writing lyrics and melodies and wrote my first song in 5th grade. When I was 14, I got my first taste of the studio when recording 2 songs that I had written and a cover song. It was then that I realized I wanted to look for a band. I began auditioning and joined my first band. After two bands I joined/started not working out, I discovered Reality Suite andddd the rest is history….

(Antonio Valenti, Bass) At age 10, my brother-in-law Bill gave me his old guitar with a bunch of beat-up Beatles vinyl. I was so intrigued.  Soon after, he gave me his KISS “Alive” album and then I was obsessed with music. With a keyboard given to me by my other brother-n-law, I began making cassette tapes of songs, beats and melodies. I grew up listening to RUSH, Pink Floyd and Metallica - mostly rock, but eventually I began looking for something different. Because I was also a DJ, I began listening to more dance music. Being engulfed in dance music – I became more interested in playing bass. I began writing and singing with various bands before reuniting with Brian and forming Reality Suite with him and Joe.


(Joe Padula, Guitar) At age 5 my parents bought me my first Kiss album “Dynasty.” I listened to it over and over using coffee cans as drums (guess I started out as a drummer). I had a next-door neighbor who was a few years older than me who exposed me to Zeppelin, Ozzy and the Eurythmics and since was hooked to Rock n Roll!!  When I was 9 I bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The song “Beat It” was the be-all end-all for me. I was so enticed by the solo in that song that I nagged my parents for a guitar and lessons which I started that same year. I later found out Eddie Van Halen performed on that song and became a huge fan by my early teens.


Who are your biggest influences musically for Reality Suite and do you think that you try to add these influences to your music or if it just happens naturally?

Great question. We each have mostly our own individual influences, then some influences we do share. For example – I am not sure if there is any one band that we ALL like. It may be two band members out of four, or three out of four. But our individual influences and shared influences overlap and create something unique. Kimmii and I love heavy rock and metal - but we also love pop music….so, from bands like In This Moment, Halestorm and Metallica to The Weeknd, The Struts, Meg Myers, etc….Joe mostly digs riff-rock, like Van Halen, Five Finger Death Punch and Guns ‘N’ Roses. Antonio - he brings out the more experimental avant garde side of us…. he’s into Radiohead, etc….he probably has the most eclectic taste of all of us - but he doesn’t really prefer pop music. So, it’s a fine line we all walk to compromise and satisfy everyone - and potentially create something unique.

Let's talk about that record deal, congrats first off! With the record deal, would you say that you've 'made it' or do you feel like now you're just getting started?

The record deal with Lion’s Pride Music is very exciting. We have had several European record labels approach us over the last two years since our debut “SKINN” was independently released. With this offer, we feel the record label is giving us the resources to grow while delivering our music to a much larger audience. We definitely do not feel that we’ve “made it.” We look at it as additional support. We have been working hard releasing Reality Suite music on our own label for almost a decade - we see this as “business as usual,” we will just have more industry support and resources. We are definitely just getting started!

Any new music coming?

Yes! I am excited because we have been demoing new songs and should be recording them formally from October - December. Our current 5 song EP, Awaken will reissued next year as a full length 10 song CD and digital download. I am hoping that everyone will hear a new single in early 2019. With each new batch of songs that we write, I'm proud to say that we are constantly challenging ourselves and attempting not to repeat ourselves. There will obviously be our key characteristics - you'll always know it's a Reality Suite song because of Kimmii's distinct voice - and Joe's guitar work, etc....but our songwriting chemistry is always evolving, so that keeps us fresh.

Any upcoming shows you want us to share?

Dingbatz, Clifton NJ 11/3/18

Debonair Music Hall 11/17/18

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Earbuds: Show Review "Termination Dust"

By Kristyn Potter

Earbuds: Show Review

Review and illustration by Von Ecker.

Brooklyn received a taste and vibe of the last frontier with the sounds of Alaska’s Termination Dust, and as I sit typing out this review my ears are still ringing with joy.

Currently on tour opening up for the indie rockers Modest Mouse, and fresh off a show in Akron, Ohio. Termination Dust has assembled a sprinkling of intimate DIY shows across the country during the tour, which is what led us to Bushwick’s Public House to see the Dream Pop band in action.

Dream Pop as a genre is new to me, and if it’s new to you I’ll do my best to describe it for you. Imagine, if you will, listening to indie rock while huffing rubber cement, without the side effects of losing brain cells and your self respect. Or if that situation is a little too seedy for you, how bout taking a bath listening to indie jams while you're underwater. The sound just has this nice subtle, fuzzy nostalgic distance to it that I really enjoy.

During the Termination Dust set, they jammed out to their songs “Clutter”, “White Walls” and “Spring Break Up”  which transported me back to high school and the heartache of relationships that got away. The band really translates their sound amazingly live. Lets face it, nothing is worse than getting pumped up to see a band live after falling in love with their music, and discovering they sound nothing like their album. It’s the music equivalent of a Tinder date gone bad.

Another thing that I appreciated about the band is that they convey such a positive message, which is something that is definitely needed in music and culture today. Even while dealing with heavy subjects as depression, love lost, and the trials of life, their music still echoes hope. The band are also huge advocates of body positivity, and making sure that everyone sees the beauty in themselves. So in this world that sometimes feels like it’s slipping back into the dark ages, it feels good knowing there are bands like Termination Dust bringing us back towards the light.

Termination Dust is back playing with Modest Mouse and touring the lower 48 states until October 21st. Be sure to check them out next time they roll through and play at a venue near you.

Remaining tour dates below:

October 3

Pittsburgh, PA at Mr. Roboto

October 4

Columbus, OH at Bourbon Street

October 5

DeKalb, IL at 7th Street Space

October 6

Iowa City, IA at Public Space One

October 7

Minneapolis, MN at Hi-Watt House

October 16

Norfolk, VA at Chrysler Hall

(W/Modest Mouse)

October 17

Columbia, SC at Township Auditorium

(W/Modest Mouse)

October 19

Bloomington, IN at IU Auditorium

(W/Modest Mouse)

October 20

Springfield, MO at Shrine Mosque

(W/Modest Mouse)

October 21

Wichita, KS at The Cotillion

(W/Modest Mouse)

 

Website- www.vonecker.carbonmade.com

Instagram- @voneckerwho

This article was originally published on Left Bank Magazine.

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October Garage Sale

By Dan Marter

October Garage Sale
this october we will be DEEP discounting select titles from our catalog

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Ear Buds: Indian Summer Interview

By Kristyn Potter

Ear Buds: Indian Summer Interview
Not going to lie, it's super rad that our founder's old buddy from college and another friend started this sick festival - Indian Summer & Asbury Park Fall Bazaar. It happened this weekend, but amongst all of the planning and festival craziness, Joe from Indian Summer chatted with me on the fest, his friendship with Dan, and some advice for bands.
Alright, so it's kind of crazy you started a festival with your buddy - I can barely even get up and out of bed for work on time, how did you do it? 

Once the Anchors Bend got city approval to have a section of the beach as part of the bar, my buddy Colin said "Dude, we should put bands out there!" From there he came up with the name Indian Summer and we booked the bands we played in as well as our friends bands and our friends to DJ and there it went. The first year was a ton of fun and VERY DIY. I remember giving the security guards for the bar whatever cash I had in my pocket to help us load the sound and gear down onto the beach. It was... a learning experience!! But probably the most fun one of all of them.
After doing some heavy stalking of you on the internet, it seems like your whole professional life has been working in various parts of the music industry - wanna give a brief description for our readers?
HAHAHA Yup! Careful what you choose to get into folks, gets real hard to get out of.... I can trace it back to one moment. I was a sophomore at Rutgers and just got back from a Rugby game (I played for 3 years while at Rutgers) and went to my uncle Bill's house in downtown New Brunswick. He was a very successful prosecutor and someone I always looked up to. So I would try to go have dinner or a beer or whatever I could with him to pick his brain. I remember being on his balcony with blood in my ear and I think a broken nose  from my Rugby game that day and he asked me, "Joey why don't you just focus on the music thing? You don't have to go into law or anything you don't want to do..." It was soooo obvious but something that never clicked until then.. From there I interned at Universal Records in Manhattan and started my journey in music... for better or worse! From there, worked and interned for both reputable as well as not so reputable companies across a lot of different facets of the industry, management/booking/label/PR/marketing/radio and video promo/live venue/music rags/radio show/live sound/tour manager/doorman/bartender/talent buying....
Anything in the music industry you absolutely loved?
When I was younger, the free CDs and tickets to shows. The older I got, being able to to help in even the smallest of ways, a band or artist who was trying to make their living in music. The little victories were as important as the big deals that got done.
It's been five years of running this festival, have you noticed anything over the years and/or how have you grown through this?
I cannot believe it's been five years. Time flies the older you get. I think our biggest success was to partner with the Asbury Park Bazaar (which my wife runs) and to include camping on the beach (which we did not want to do at first, so we can't take credit for that one. Was all from the AP Boardwalk staff, they were right about adding it and deserve all the credit). It has made Indian Summer more.... balanced, and more then just some music festival. Aside from that, on the music side, my partner Colin curates all the music and he has always done a great job of bringing in some amazing talent from the local scene as well as from around the country. Dude knows his music.
Is Asbury Park your home?
Sort of. New Brunswick was always my home. But I moved to Asbury (3rd Ave) basically on a whim one weekend in 2008. Then I moved in with my girlfriend (now wife Jenny) in Neptune in 2010. We sold that house and lived in Lavallette for a year and now are back in  our new house in Shark River Hills (Neptune) since March of 2018. So we are about 10 minutes away from the downtown. We both work in Asbury and hang in Asbury so we basically call it home though! 
What are you doing when you're not planning this rad music festival/event?
Working all the time!!! hahaha No, but I help my wife with the Bazaar, I play in a band (The Vice Rags, and yeah I won Top Dummer in the Asbury Park Music Awards 2018... NBD....) work on the house and take our dog Edith on trips whenever we can. Bartend one night a week at Bond St. Bar (last remaining original bartend there... yeah Im old) and try to cook dinner and do laundry from my pregnant wife (baby is due Indian Summer / Fall Bazaar weekend... yup...)
Any advice for bands trying to get their music heard?
Play as much as possible (shows AND practice). Just be you and work hard AF. The rest comes with the hard work. Be yourself and honest and don't try to be something your not. There is SO much music out there but, I think, it comes down to people wanting to make a REAL connection with music. The lyrics, the performance everything. It's not easy and that's why there is only a handful of bands who make it to that next level. So try to have fun and enjoy the ride... Let the rest fall into place. 
You and Dan (ITC founder) go back for quite a while, what's your favorite Dan memory?
There are SOOOOO many, most of which I can't even talk about.... So let's just say, when he was the Eyeball Records mascot (full big black boxy suit, like a sports team mascot) at SXSW in like 2007. At the time he was (and I love to remind him of this), my intern when I worked at Degy Ent. the first time around. I was down there for for and he was tour managing our friends The Gay Blades but also earnign extra cash dressing up as this mascot walking around sixth ave. (That's right kids, you ALWAYS gotta find that side hustle, no matter what it is!).
Orrr, maybe it was at his wedding where he walked out with his mom to QOTSA "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar But I feel Like a Millionare" and his mom booty dropped and twerked up on him when it kicks in!!! hahahha was amazing. (that's also probably my favorite song if that were a question here...)

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Ear buds - Steal Away Mini Doc

By Kristyn Potter

Ear buds - Steal Away Mini Doc

This new San Diego rock band Steal Away recently charted on Apple Music and iTunes but what actually caught my eye is this mini-documentary that they did. Full of personality, some live studio shots, and cuts to interviews from each of the members, this doc is such an intimate moment with the band (and p.s. it's a great way for you all in bands to show PR, music blogs, and fans a little inside look at their friendship and music.)

Use these guys to get inspired with your own music (or reach out to our boy Nunzio to help you come up with some press ideas of your own).

 

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Ear buds Interview with Chicago's Primo JAB

By Kristyn Potter

Ear buds Interview with Chicago's Primo JAB

“I want people to better themselves through the things I’m doing … make the world better through something I’ve done.”

 We chatted with the very smart, very talented, and damn good rapper Primo JAB on how he got started, his new album he just dropped, and what Jab means for those of us living under a rock. One of the sickest interviews I've done in a while, take a look.

 

ITC: So let’s start at the beginning, where are you from? 

Primo JAB: I’m from the West side of Chicago, called Oak Park. Born and raised. I’m a Sox fan … the voice of Homer Simpson went to our school—that’s my claim to fame: he spoke at my graduation.

 

ITC: How did you get started in music?

Primo JAB: I’ve always loved music, even as a kid. I’m sure my parents could tell you numerous times of using music to put me to sleep, and I remember doing little talent shows as a kid. I’ve always wanted to perform and be creative and use my imagination and have fun. As I grew up I fell into hip hop, and once I found out that anybody can rap, I’ve been perfecting my craft, and trying to get better and better.

 

ITC: Do you think anybody can rap?

Primo JAB: Anybody can rap. There’s various things anybody can do but to actually demonstrate at a high level, it takes a special something … that doesn’t mean everybody should rap. It’s different.

 

ITC: Yeah that’s completely true. Some people probably shouldn’t rap, but your stuff is really good. So you just dropped an album this year?

 

Primo JAB: On the Fourth of July, I put out my latest project, called The Book of Jab. I put a lot of work into it. I put out other albums and other projects before and each one of those I took notes on what I did the last time, and cleaned it up. On this album, I’m not perfect but I definitely feel like its 99.9999 percentile of a great hip hop project … it feels really good. I’m trying to tour, do shows off it; I’m working on a video for it next week.

 

ITC: Have your friends listened to it? What did they think?

 

Primo JAB: They like it, they’ve enjoyed it. So far everybody around me enjoys it. But it’s about strangers, I want strangers to love it, not people who don’t want to offend me.

 

ITC: Yeah I totally get that. So what is your ultimate goal with all of this?

 

Primo JAB:My ultimate goal is to be prosperous and take over the world and share my vision, through this music. And use this music to create a platform where I’m able to do other things, also music related… opportunities to help kids learn [about] entertainment jobs etc., help with socioeconomic growth and development. I want people to better themselves through the things I’m doing … make the world better through something I’ve done.

 

ITC: How old are you?

IPrimo JAB: ’m in my 30s.

 

ITC: And what is ‘Jab’?

 

Primo JAB: The jab is your product, it’s your brand. Whatever you’re pushing, that’s your means of making your way each day. Jab: its the foundation. Primo JAB, it’s the best jab. Numero uno jab.

 

I’m from Chicago and jab is street slang also … jab is used to describe commerce that might be happening in the black market. so it’s a little play on words.

 

Thats what I think hip hop has come away from … a lot of people trying to understand cycles; words come out and they get thrown around. Thats why I really like ‘Primo JAB’ too, primo sounds like family, primo thats your cousin, so primo jab is cuzzo, cuzzo jab. you’re family you’re my guy.

My producers name is godBLESSbeatz, everyone was confused. So I want to clarify that PrimoJAB used to be the both of us but I took the name to really cement the brand recognition.

[It] used to be two people, now its just me. But the same people who were involved are still involved.

 

ITC: Let’s do a fun fact or fun show story, you have any?

 

Primo JAB: I do trivia. I know all types of things.

 

ITC: Do you go to trivia nights?

 

Primo JAB: Yeah there is hip hop trivia I do. I go and dominate. If i don’t win, I’m always in second or third place. 

 

ITC: Favorite rapper out here right now - big and also underground

 

Primo JAB: I’ve been playing a lot of older West Coast stuff. Ice Cube and Redman are two influencers, they shaped who i am. I put the Wu-Tang Clan up there, Outkast, Tribe Called Quest, Nas. I really like Kendrick Lamar. I'm a fan of Future and Gucci Mane, I really enjoy their music and think they have been overlooked for what they contributed sonically. The Migos are decent as well. 

For newer rappers, Westside Gunn, Lil Eto, Crimeapple … a lot of people on the album (Flee Lord, Ras Kass, A. Flip, Blacksmith, El Camino, IceLord, Liym Capital, Daniel Son).  

ITC: Anything else you want to add?
Even though I'm from Chicago I also want to shout out Atlanta because Ive been here for a while and have well established ties to the city's cultural contributors. 
Thanks again to Primo JAB for taking the time out to chat with us. He's the real deal. Listen to The Book of Jab below.

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Meet the Team: Kevin

By Kristyn Potter

Meet the Team: Kevin
How you got started with IntheClouds
Dan and I have been friends since college. We were both in the music industry program. The first time I can remember meeting him was when he got kicked out of the department’s annual welcome meeting for new students. He was a character. Now they invite him back every year to inspire students - go figure.
I watched Dan slowly grow ITC into “a thing” over the years and really admired him for it. He was passionate about the bands and the music, he pursued it because he loved doing it. Total DIY mentality. I did my part to support the cause buying records, sending him opportunities, coming out to shows for new releases... but in 2016 he told me he wasn’t sure he could keep it going and I told him I wanted to do more. I put together a proposal to take some work off of Dan’s plate. It started with a relaunch of the website. I pulled in help from a former colleague from Sony, June Lim, to help with the redesign and asked my roommate Rich Chu to do the coding that was over my head. From there things just started to snowball. 
Favorite band of all time
Deftones
The band or artist you love that everyone else seems to hate (or a band you hate that everyone seems to love)
The band “issues”. I know they’re all the rage with the kids so I guess I’m officially old.
What you do for intheclouds
I focus on business growth. I’ve been pulling people in, adding processes and collaboration tools, doing SWOT analysis, and serving as product owner of the eCommerce systems.
What you do as a day job
Product Owner at NBC Universal and Principal of Profyts LLC.
Something very few people know about you
I listen to Jazz on Sunday mornings because it makes me feel like an adult... not sure why. It’s just background music for cooking breakfast or reading the news but it elicits a mood that I can’t reproduce on a weekday or even Saturday.
Last song you listened to
Post Malone “Congratulations”

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