News: interview

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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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 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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Sounds x Interview: Switching the Label with TREADS

By Kristyn Potter

Sounds x Interview: Switching the Label with TREADS

Interviewed by: Kristyn Potter

“Clearly with a name like [Whiskey Bitches] there is a little bit of an image to keep up and all of that started as a fun joke band to me and I didn’t think it was something I could keep up.”

 On a very hungover Sunday about a month ago to the day, I ventured out of my bed (a feat I must say) and headed to a fancy hotel bar for brunch with the Brooklyn babes // badasses TREADS. I showed up late as usual (train delays, blah blah excuse) but they were more than understanding-and had already ordered a few mimosas. As I sat down, we almost instantly got into a conversation about John Mayer and how good of a guitar player he is (“who’s the emo guy who plays really good guitar ... he’s a sick guitar player from Berklee Music School” ... “Oh John Mayer, who I hate, but he’s an AMAZING guitar player) and as we all ragged on his emoness but also pure artistic talent, I knew it was going to be a Sunday well spent- my hangover was in good company.

And that’s what TREADS is; formally they came together as Whiskey Bitches (more on that later) but what kept them together was their love of music, their excellent caliber of playing, their desire to learn and grow as musicians, and their ability to work well as a unit.

I first came across them when we were putting together our cassette mixtape, and since then it was clear to me that these guys don’t just know how to rock, they also have a deep understanding of music, and aren’t afraid to show it- or experiment along the way. So without further ado, I present my second best hangover (my first was a few weekends ago on a beach in Monterosso) with the lovely TREADS.

“Before all of his stuff came out, I had a buddy in high school who was really into John Mayer and I was like ‘seriously’ ... he had all these weird demo tapes of him playing live shows, and he was doing like blues stuff, with other blues players and I remember being like he’s the biggest waste of talent, because he’s one of the best guitarists I’ve heard in a long time, but I HATE everything he does.”

Meet Mike, who I’ve been Facebook friends with for almost a year now and had no idea he was the same Mike until well after the interview. He’s the guitar and backing vocals in TREADS; unless you count the time Madge lost her voice and he had to fill in as vocals.

Which brings me to Madge. She’s the cool chick sitting in the back of the classroom in a leather jacket and like a Stone Roses shirt who visibly doesn’t give a fuck, but then also manages to graduate at the top of your class. She’s loud and unapologetic and strong in who she is, proud of what she knows and also capable of acknowledging things she doesn’t know; and it’s rad.

As the main vocals and guitar, Madge is very different than what you would think of her-if you, like me, associated her with her Whiskey Bitches days. She’s so far from just a whiskey bitch it’s almost insulting to put her in that same category; but we all have a past, and that’s the whole point of growing, right? She’s done classical piano for 15 years, stopping after high school, and instead studied recording at NYU-Tisch, and understands the whole business side of music.

She’s a silent killer if ever I met one, and in the weeks following the interview, she also kept in touch and asked about my sick puppy. A silent killer with a heart of gold.

“John Mayer’s music suckssssss. Well, it like good-sucks. It’s really good if you’re going through a breakup or something. You’re just at home eating ice cream or I don’t know a pita bread and crying listening to John Mayer.” Me - Left Bank head bitch, and occasion-specific John Mayer fan.

“We go through breakups really differently …”

Meet Glenn, drummer in TREADS, who fun fact KILLS it on the drums but hadn’t had a professional lesson until three years ago.

“My going through a break up was like spending the night skating against traffic in New York City. I didn’t put any John Mayer on … I just picked a northbound avenue and skated against traffic.” -Glenn

From then our food and more mimosas arrived, and we pivoted from John Mayer and skateboarding to things you probably want to read about.

Because Madge went to NYC for recording, we got on the topic of her involvement with the production of TREADS’ music.

“When it comes to the initial tracking and recording of things, we will go to a studio to do all of the drums because you need a drum room and a place that can do that well, so we will go to a place and I try to not get in the engineers way when we are his studio too much … its their studio, its still their session. But then all of the vocals and guitar production I do at home, and the bass I do in our practice space with Kris, and we do all of the bass tracking together.” -Madge

“So who mixes?” -Me, slightly less hungover

“For mixing you need a lot more gear, so we got this lovely human named Eric who has his own studio - he was a year ahead of me in school and was always very good, and its funny because Mike recommended him as someone he knew separately …” -Madge

“I worked with him on other projects and when we were talking about how we wanted to sound, he popped into my head as the guy who would sort of get it there.” -Mike

“He was like I dig the songs enough and I’m happy to work with this, and he’s definitely better at it than I am, which is helpful. And because we went to the same program we speak the same language, so the back and forth has actually been really refreshing and nice.” -Madge

Sidebar: because I’m late as shit getting this interview out, their EP has been released, and you can listen to it here.

Sidebar 2/Shameless plug: The conversation then pivoted over to the cassette that we put out, which Madge mixed due to the time crunch of getting our tapes out.  (Huzzah!)

“I think eventually I just need to buy a walkman,” -Glenn.

“So you listened to the cassette? Did you enjoy it?” -Me trying to boost my ego, one interview at a time.

“I enjoyed it, and the other bands too.” -Madge

Fair enough.

“This is really the first TREADS EP.” -Madge

“It’s [the new EP] the first one written as TREADS,” Glenn said. “[The first EP] was like spillover from Whiskey Bitches and those songs were all written before I joined, and I kind of re-wrote the drums, versus being written.”

“Yeah this EP is all stuff that we’ve done together.” - Madge “And its more of the direction that we want to keep going in.”

“So Left Bank interviewed Whiskey Bitches a long time ago, Alex Norelli did it during Northside, right when I launched the magazine, so I’m really interested to hear how Whiskey Bitches became TREADS.” -Me

“I was just growing out of the image. And I think that some of the other band members really wanted to keep going in that direction and Glenn and I are more on the same page, like what we are doing now makes more sense for who we are. We were getting heavier once [Glenn] joined the band.” -Madge

“Clearly with a name like that there is a little bit of an image to keep up and all of that started as a fun joke band to me and I didn’t think it was something I could keep up.”

“So was it an age thing?” -Me

“Originally Whiskey Bitches for me grew out of another band I had called Fuck Yeah, and it was my "serious band" and Whiskey Bitches was the joke side project, but then it started to get a reputation … the songs are kitschy and fun but that became my only band and when I tried to make it more serious it was clear that as a group it didn’t make sense anymore.” -Madge

It was during the time that they had a Rubber Tracks session originally for Whiskey Bitches that TREADS (at that time name TBD) had really started to evolve into its own direction.

“I joined the band because I really liked the band and was going to their shows and Madge was complaining about how she wanted to book shows but didn’t have a drummer.” -Glenn

“And thats a similar story of how I joined the band too. In my other project I had played shows with them and had been a fan for a while, Madge hurt her hand and they asked me to play guitar because I was familiar with the songs and had been to the shows, so I learned all of the songs in a week and played as the guitarist for a show, and then somehow accidentally we were like ‘hey its fun having two guitarists’ and thats how that happened.” -Mike

… and this was as Whiskey Bitches? Wait. TREADS? Anyone else a little confused?

“The name changed basically happened … so we recorded the EP, we put it out a year after we recorded it, by the time it comes out that September we’re already TREADS. I think Northside of that year was the last Whiskey Bitches show we played.” - Madge

Somewhere between all of this, our mimosas were refilled and Glenn mentioned how badly he wants to release a TREADS metal album. Which is kind of the beauty in the name change: they can do that. They can do whatever the hell they want to do.

“We suddenly have a band where the musicality is a lot higher, which is why its more of an exciting project for me personally. It’s no longer like 3-chord joke music, and I don’t mean that at all in a bad way … there is something a lot more fun if you come from playing for a long time, and you want to get better musically over time.” -Madge

“I mean you went to music school …” -Me

“And I was always shy about saying that out loud but as I’ve gotten older I’m more confident, and I would like to be considered a respectable musician not just a 3-chord punk player.” -Madge

“I also find that I’m surrounded by multi-instrumentalists, and when I replaced Eli in Whiskey Bitches, I remember he got a tattoo of a guitar on his arm and I was like why that and he’s like ‘oh I’m a guitarist, but I play drums, but you should definitely take that drumming role.’ I didn’t even realize he identified strongly as a guitarist, like that is his musical voice. And the more I work with good musicians, I think that good musicians play multiple instruments - Glenn

Sidebar fun fact: When writing music, Madge starts most of it on piano, but very recently she has started approaching and applying all of the things that come naturally on piano, to the guitar.

“And I’m the opposite, while the only lessons I ever took were piano, I would never play piano live because I’m not good enough. But while guitar is my first language, I write a lot of my melodies on piano because it makes me think of melody differently than I would with guitar.” -Mike

What became really interesting and apparent to me, was that not only were these guys good musicians, but they wanted more from the music they were creating through TREADS. Being that Madge is so classically trained, the way they compose their music is a lot more refined than your average punk band. So while on stage, you get the punk vibe or aura if you will, but behind the scenes, the composition of those same tracks is a lot more meticulous and strategic.

“This is the first band that I’ve ever played in where at the end of the show I can usually count the mistakes on one hand. Normally its like whatever mistakes happen, happen constantly but with this one they don’t. And I can tell you, we just played Knitting Factory last week, and I know two mistakes happened.” -Glenn

“Whats funny is that you’re one of those drummers that you’re so on that when you make a mistake, I notice, and you notice too. You’re consistent enough that its noticeable and we know exactly whats going on.” -Mike

“Mind you he’s playing with a sprained wrist and its like you’re really injured right now and shouldn’t even be playing, and you still only made just one mistake.” -Madge

The cool thing about this—just in sharing a meal and drink with them—is that they spend a lot of time together honing their craft and cultivating their relationship/friendship with each other. Its 100% obvious, and while I’ve been around a lot of bands during this time, it’s nice to see a band that is fun and badass, but also a serious fucking band. It’s very orchestrated, and it’s nice to watch.

“Whiskey Bitches was fun to play drums because you could kick over half the drum set and it would still be fine, it would be fun and silly and everyone would laugh but whatever.” -Glenn

“But is that kind of limiting do you think? That lack of freedom?” -Me, hangover finished and fully engaged.

“I think we are growing into it [freedom] more and more. My next aspiration is to get to a point where there are songs where we have longer instrumentals to give us more space. But when we say freedom, there were no solos in Whiskey Bitches … it was just we looked sloppy.” -Madge

“And freedom doesn’t have to be sloppy.” -Me

“It’s like adding places where you can start to play together more, and be like do we want to extend this another 8 bars, like how do we become the kind of musicians where we can get on stage and read a crowd, and react together, I think that is the next step. Now that we have a unit that is working together.” -Madge

“Watching where TREADS has gone before I was playing and being in it now, the evolution I am finding is very interesting and enjoyable.” -Mike

“I think we stopped focusing on how to play Northside and more thinking like how do we get to the Garden in 10 years? How do we got to a place where we all feel like we’re bringing something to the table that expresses the sum of all of this life and musical training and playing, and trying to make more room where everyone can come to the table and say ok this is something I want to play, this is something I want to do. And it feels really awesome.” -Madge

Catch them July 27th at Mercury Lounge, or August 15th at Alphaville. A huge thanks to TREADS for giving me (and now all of you) a glimpse into their world—excited to see what's to come. Listen to their brand spanking new EP below x

 

Cover Photo: David Burlacu

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Feature / New Store: Bea

By Kristyn Potter

Feature / New Store: Bea

Happy International Women’s Day to all our women kicking ass out there! One of those women, the very talented Bea recently launched her online store with us and we are stoked to publish this interview that we did with her. Check it out!

How did you get your start/how long have you been doing music?

I've been playing music for longer than I haven't which is so weird to think about. I picked up the guitar the summer before my 8th grade year. I was stuck at home bored, because I was grounded for wearing eyeliner (strict parents). Of course, I'm thankful for that now.

Is music your full time gig or are you doing something else to "keep the lights on"

Other than being a mother to the raddest 8 year old boy named Brixton Mackaye (after The Clash song and Ian Mackaye), I'm a fashion designer and co-founder of an eco-conscious, luxury line of bags for modern, badass women/mamas (NONA). I'm also the lead creative at an event promotions and talent management company. 

 

Keeping busy I see! So, where are you from and how does that affect your music?

I guess I'd say I'm mostly from Dallas, although I've lived in San Francisco, Texas and NYC. My first job in music was a booking assistant for a couple of concert venues in Dallas, Texas. I think I saw over 200 shows my first year working there, and every night that I would get home from a show, I'd write. That was a super inspiring time for me. I moved to New York to pursue my music further and that was great for a lot of reasons, but definitely not what I was expecting. I got there just as the music landscape was shifting, and people started consuming music differently. Less CDs, more MP3s, less live music, more DJs. Tack that on to the all too familiar challenges working musicians face, and it was easy to find myself needing a change or a move. 

Alternatively, where do you live now and have you felt a change in your music since moving?

Currently, I'm in Syracuse, NY. I moved here and was really focused on being a mom. An old industry friend reached out to me about playing a show in SF some years ago. I hit the stage for the first time in five years and forget about it. I was hooked all over again. I started writing, recording, touring, and it has been nonstop ever since.  

 

Anything coming up that we should know about?

I'm going on tour with some of my favorite musician friends ever. Rhett Miller from the Old 97's, Chris Trapper and Emm Gryner. I'm also working on a new music video ... super psyched about that. 

Rad congrats on that! Tell us something your fans don't know about you ...

Not sure. I'm a pretty open book. I write just about everything I go through. I can't think of many questions I wouldn't answer.

Your go-to track that you always find yourself playing?

I know this is bizarre, but I totally have a thing for the star spangled banner. What other song can you pretty much hear infinite covers of? Honestly though, the stuff I listen to changes from week to week. It could be anything from St. Vincent to Tupac to Taylor Swift. 

Anything else you'd love to share?

Go see more live music! 

Thanks for stopping by to chat with us. Everyone, check out her new store here.

 

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FEBRUARY F*CK YEAH! Ditz Interview

By Kristyn Potter

FEBRUARY F*CK YEAH! Ditz Interview

We are closing out this awesome month with another interview from one of our February cassette all-stars — the post-emo band Ditz. The Wrightstown, NJ four piece chatted with us on how they met, how being bug boys led to their name, playing on cruise ships, and Aerosmiths CDs. Of course. Go on, check it out ... 

How did you guys meet/get started?

Todd and Luke played together in high school as  when Todd moved back to Jersey from California, they started playing together again. Soon after they recruited long time friend and door-to-door salesman, johnny, to join forces. We then asked Keith to design our logo, we thought it was cool so we just asked that cute art boy to hop on board.

 

What did you grow up listening to and how much would you say that influences your sound now?

Todd: growing up i was classic rocking boy, my dad gave me Pink Floyd and the Aerosmiths CDs. Steven Tyler is a huge influence on my voice as I’m sure you can tell. so from there it was game over as soon as i learned to “walk this way”

 

Johnny: I listened to me daddy’s music. then I really listened to Backstreet boys and that song “I’m blue abedebab di.” then i became able to pick my own music and i liked the get up kids and the fall of troy and all that stuff. yes i play exactly like that so yeah it influenced me style big time.

Luke: My dad told me to listen to Steve Vai and thats what I listened to.

Keith: My dad told me to listen to bluegrass and country so I listened to everything but that. 

 

Nice work Keith. So, the name Ditz … how did you land on that?

Well Todd was really pushing “bobby and the Menthols” for a while … that wasn’t cutting it. We then settled on the name Ditz because we’re bug boys and all of us are scared of bugs.

 

 

Any hilarious (or awkward) fan or show stories you want to share?

We have an on again off again Facebook relationship with a Nigerian woman named Goodluck who friended and messaged us. She’s been with us since the very beginning.

 

Your go-to snack/drink during band practice?

Bud light Limes, Ripits Energy and bugs.

 

Gotta have the bugs. If you could play anywhere in the world where would it be?

We wanna go on a cruise ship tour.

 

So, tell us, why do you make music (this might be a little heady, but what keeps you going?)

We make music because its good and fun. we all love each other and were all in love with each other.

 

What does success look like to you?

When the crowd goes “sing!”

 

Speaking of, what's your favorite track to play live/why?

The majority of the band prefers Spanish subtitles over the others because its a fun crowdpleaser.

Johnny is more of a Big Bug guy and Todd is more into Crudwieser. 

 

Your day jobs? 

Luke is a big daddy truck boy, he gets em greased up and back on the road. Johnny is a student who also cooks food at a place. Keith is a student and does video production. Todd is a mold remediation specialist.

 

Told you these guys were rad. Check out their music on our February cassette and stay tuned for some new music from them and a video. enjoy the last 2 hours of February guys.

 

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Interview: America Part Two

By Kristyn Potter

Interview: America Part Two
We chatted with our boys Asbury Park-band America Part Two about how they met, their influences, and things coming up on the radar (other than the cassette). 

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Ear buds Interview: latewaves

By Kristyn Potter

Ear buds Interview: latewaves

Success to me would be that all the work and suffering (yes as fun as trying to make it in a band is, suffering is a huge part of it) that we put ourselves through reaps happiness and an amazing journey that we’ll never forget.

So stoked to have so many awesome bands included in the February Ear buds Cassette mixtape, and in advance of the mixtape being released/shipped, we wanted to show some extra love to the bands--and also give you a chance to get closer to the bands, and discover some new things about them. 

First up, we've got this killer interview with Asbury Park band latewaves. Check it out below! 

latewaves - how did you come up with the name/what does it mean?

ah, the name is always the craziest thing. you have to name the band before you get to see what you become. we’re from Asbury Park, NJ (a beach town) and we enjoy hanging on the beach late at night. after a few variations we came up with “latewaves” as an ode to our favorite activity in our hometown.

How did you guys get your start?

I (Mikey / guitar, vocals) found myself in a bit of a rut. I had a few songs/ideas I wanted to hash out, and my fiancé’s sister (Shawna / drums) and I always had a pact that we’d start a band if we found ourselves in the right situation. I was free and waiting tables, she had just finished college, so she moved down to wait tables too and write a record with me. We rented a storage unit turned rehearsal space a few miles down the road and wrote our first EP Partied Out. We recorded it with our good friend John Ferrara (Trophy Scars) at Portrait Studios in North Jersey. Since there are at least 80 guitar tracks on each song on the record we decided we’d at least need a bass player. So our good friend Howie in a similar situation joined us on stage. Happy to say although we hold the storage unit dear, we’re in a climate controlled building now and really psyched on the new stuff we’ve been writing.

Who writes the lyrics or is it a collaborative effort?

For Partied Out, I (Mikey) wrote the lyrics- it was about trying to find a light at the end of the tunnel. The fun thing is that nothing on the record says I’ve found it yet, and actually ends on a somber note. Now that we have a full band we all build and collaborate off each other on our new stuff.

Something your fans don't know about you ...

Let’s see, Shawna started out playing in metal bands and although we’re on a single kick pedal for latewaves- if we gave her a double she could rip some dirty breakdowns.

Howie - after the first night of practice we hung out on the porch all night and he had just worked a 12 hour day at two different jobs prior so I woke up a text from his girlfriend with a picture of him literally passed out at his kitchen table with his head in a plate of food and her caption was “what did you do.”

Me (Mikey) - in my last band I had a pizza delivered to me on stage... I forgot I ordered it before I went on and my friend Nick, from Night Riots, went the guy on stage to bring me the pizza and I signed the receipt on the back of some kid in the audience.

That's hilarious! Speaking of, what's the best show you played?

It’s hard to say. I’d say when we co-headlined with Can’t Swim at the wonderbar in Asbury and capped out the venues capacity on a Monday it was absolutely thrilling as it was in the early stages of us playing live. But just recently we played Arlene’s Grocery in NYC and got an amazing response from the crowd. This is huge to me because NYC crowds are renowned to be tough as nails to win over. It’s no offense to them; they live in a city where something amazingly exciting is literally happening all the time so to get a reaction from them was huge to me.

What did you grow up listening to?

My holy grails were the first three records my older cousin gave me in 96': Weezer’s blue album, Green Day’s dookie, and Rancid’s and out come the wolves. They turned me into a little asshole running around screaming punk rock and gave me such a fun childhood. I didn’t get into the Beatles. Led Zep, or the Stones til college because my parents were never into music so I found what I could from my peers. 

What does success look like to you?

This is a fun question because I have been making, or at least trying to take, positive steps in my life, and that is a huge existential question I ask myself every day. I am trying not to hold up my expectations of success and accomplishment to other people’s accomplishments. I think success is a road and not a destination. Success to me would be that all the work and suffering (yes as fun as trying to make it in a band is, suffering is a huge part of it) that we put ourselves through reaps happiness and an amazing journey that we’ll never forget.

Any advice for other bands trying to get their music out there?

Songs come first. Keep it about the music and nothing else. Everything else will follow.

Finally, if you could play anywhere in the world, where would you and why?

I wanna play overseas; UK, Spain, places where I need to buy special adapters to plug my amp into. Simply put; because how exciting would it be to fly and travel to a place you’ve never been to and know barely anything about and play your music?

Thanks to latewaves for the sick interview!

Pick up their debut ep "Partied Out" Via Panic State Records

Check them on tour (dates below):

2.23 Tuscumbia, AL @ The Shed
2.24 Nashville, TN @ Beehive
2.25 Erie, PA @ Basement Transmissions
2.27 Tonawanda, NY @ Stamps 
2.28 Manchester, NH @ Bungalows
3.01 Taunton, MA @ The Shop Underground
3.02 Brooklyn, NY @ Gold Sounds
3.03 Amityville, NY @ Revolution Music Hall
3.04 Scranton, PA @ Levels
3.05 Asbury Park, NJ @ Wonder Bar

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