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The Business

I’ve long considered The Business to be one of those bands that I should have seen when I had the chance. I recall being probably 17 when I heard “Smash The Discos” for the first time and feeling like I had already missed the boat. Along with bands like Cock Sparrer and Cockney Rejects and Sham 69, The Business represented such a specific moment in time that, as the years went on, seemed appealing and yet more and more distant.

However, 35 years after their debut (and mine, coincidentally), Micky Fitz and the boys are still at it. However, “the boys” have changed several times over the decades, creating, on paper at least, the impression that The Business circa 2014 were little more than a nostalgia act; Willy Mays playing for the Mets in 1973. Brett Favre playing for the Vikings in 2010. You get the idea. And yet, the band’s 2010 Sailor’s Grave Records release Doing The Business had more than a few bright spots, and their 2014 7-inch “Back In The Day” is one of the highlights of this year in street punk.

I can assure you that the 2014 edition of The Business is anything but a nostalgia act. Alongside high-octane Orlando punks The Attack, the UK four-piece rolled into Church of Boston on an early summer Wednesday evening. Local support came from the Beantown Boozehounds (whom, you might imagine, are a Boston band who fancy themselves a stiff beverage or twelve) and Salita, the new project featuring Kicked In The Head’s Gary Hedrick on vocals. The latter put on one of the more stellar “local opener” gigs that I’ve witnessed in quite some time. If only the sparse Wednesday night crowd had made its way to the front of the venue for any of the first three bands, we could have had ourselves a small but rowdy show for the ages.

Head below to see our photo gallery, featuring each of the night’s four bands.

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Jason Cruz and Howl – photo (c) Ursula Harris/Leo Snaps Photography

Jason Cruz is a burning the candle at both ends of late. In addition to his “day job” of putting the finishing touches on the music and artwork for Strung Out’s first studio album in five years, he also found the time to put out Good Man’s Ruin (April 29th via the band’s own Echotone Records), the debut full-length from his side project, Jason Cruz and Howl. But Howl is not your typical punk-rock-frontman side project…

Co-founded with Buddy Darling (The Darlings, guitar), Chris Stein (Saccharine Trust, bass) and Kris Comeaux (drums), Howl swaps out power chords and rapid-fire snare drum sounds for slide guitar, increased texture and groovier tones. The result is a dark, trippy, ‘spiritual’ album that tells of bad trips, lost hopes, pipe dreams and Indian curses (here’s our review).

Somewhere amidst the chaos, Cruz carved out a little time to chat with us about the not-your-average recording process for Good Man’s Ruin, the pitfalls of trying to balance two projects without going over-the-edge, and the goal of creating his own scene that harkens back to the Blue Note and SST Records days of yore. Check it out below, and be sure to catch Jason Cruz and Howl on tour with The Darlings and The Pullmen next month on the West Coast. Dates are here.

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Stray Bullets are the kind of band that you see on a bill and just know that they’re going to bring their A-game and put on a sick show every time.  Lead singer and guitarist Jon Cauztik also happens to be funny as hell.  If you’ve wondered what a “streetpunk reggae” band might sound like, read on to get Jon’s take on the band’s sound, their soon-to-be-released second album, and their ideas for how to save the world.

Check out the whole interview below.

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Jake Hanson steps down as drummer for Eken Is Dead

Posted by blacksound records on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 3:27 PM (PST)

Los Angeles based hardcore group Eken Is Dead have announced today that Jake Hanson will step down as drummer after completing the shows they currently have scheduled.

You can read a statement from Hanson and the remaining members of the band below.

The group last released “What Lies In The Mirror” in 2012.

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Photo by Lyz Manikas

Dave Teirney, front-man of Brooklyn, NY punk act The Sharp Lads, recently sat down to write about his experiences growing up with punk rock, and how the music and lifestyle shaped his life, and what it still means to his this very day.

You can read Dave’s piece below.

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The Menzingers have become a well-respected name in the punk community and rightfully so. Since the 2012 release of On The Impossible Past, the band has barely taken a break, touring almost maniacally, and through it all releasing one of this year’s most anticipated albums, Rented World.

During the chaos we had a chance to sit down with vocalist and guitarist Greg Barnett on the second stop of the Rented World tour at Webster Hall in New York City the to discuss the recording process, the Philadelphia music scene, and growing up.

You can read the interview below.

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Upstart Fest: The Obvious at Asbury Lanes, photo by Jeff Tamboia

Angie Sugrim, front-woman of Asbury Park’s The Obvoius, has released a wonderfully written piece reflecting on what punk rock means to her and many others, and how it has shaped her life and turned her into the person that she is today.

You can read Angie’s words below.

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To say that Gord Taylor has had an interesting last couple of years would be, at best, an understatement on par with saying that his band, The Real McKenzies, have been criminally underrated by American audiences for two decades. The former teenage competitive bagpiper (yes, Virginia, there is such a thing) went from part-time member of the seminal “Celtic punk” band (and Fat Wreck Chords recording artist) to being full-time member of said seminal “Celtic punk” band, to announcing that he was quitting the band by hurling himself out of their tour van as it was moving down the road at 40 kilometers per hour (or 60 kilometers per hour, or 10 kilometers per hour, depending on who you ask). Then there was the subsequent first solo album, followed by the unexpected invitation to write on the new Real McKenzies album, followed by the plans to record in San Francisco with Fat Mike, followed by recently spending nine weeks in the hospital after getting hit by a speeding (120kph) car. WHILE HE WAS STANDING ON THE CURB!

Needless to say, it’s been a long, strange, difficult trip for the Winnipegger. To get this interview rolling, Taylor and I began exchanging emails toward the end of his hospital stay, carrying over to the beginning of his transition back home. The result was an entertaining, far-reaching exchange that at least scratches the surface of all of the above topics and more. Wanna know what it’s like to recover from getting hit by a car? Wanna know what it’s like to continually be compared to the Dropkick Murphys? Or what it’s like to play with NOFX? Or to be continually asked “what’s under your kilt?” Or what the heck competitive bagpiping is and how the instrument has evolved in recent years? Check out our conversation below. Stay tuned for more news on the upcoming Real McKenzies album. If you’re like me and thought that Westwinds was their best and most focused effort to date, I have it on good authority that we’ve collectively heard nothing yet…

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Against Me! recently wrapped a US tour in support of their latest release, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Hopefully you were able to make it out to a show. Yours truly hit Boston on Cinco De Mayo, and Dying Scene also had a new photographer, Catharina Christiana, out at the May 9th show at Clifton Park, New York’s Upstate Concert Hall.

Check out Catharina’s work below!

Transgender Dysphoria Blues was released on January 21, 2014 through Total Treble Music. The band recently embarked on a three-week European tour. Details are here.

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Frank Turner looking out over the 20,000 strong in attendance at Boston’s City Hall Plaza

Frank Turner is nothing if not a busy man.

By year’s end, the British folk-punk singer-songwriter will have surpassed the 1600 career show mark, a run that’s taken him to thirty-eight countries on five continents in the ten years since his first solo gig. Those in the pop culture world might think that Turner exploded onto the scene in more recent years (2012′s appearance at the London Olympics’ opening ceremonies, a recent headline tour of UK arenas and increasingly large US clubs, etc), his rise has been, by no means, meteoric.

The current leg of Turner’s US tour in support of last year’s Tape Deck Heart kicked off in Cooperstown, New York, last Friday (5/22/14). What followed was a whirlwind three shows in two days in greater Boston: a prime Saturday evening slot at the new-but-incredibly-popular (and sold out) Boston Calling Music Festival. Now in its second year, Boston Calling crammed close to 60,000 people into Boston’s City Hall Plaza and featured performances from such varied acts as Death Cab For Cutie, Tegan and Sara, Brand New and Jack Johnson. This was followed by back-to-back late night shows at the Sinclair club in Cambridge alongside upstart Boston punk band Rebuilder and featuring a special appearance from the Dropkick Murphys‘ Tim Brennan.

Amidst the chaos and the jetlag, Turner found time for sit down with Dying Scene on the steps of Boston’s City Hall for a chat about his incessant tour schedule, the differences between the UK and US music scenes, and the boredom that comes with being a road hog. Read on, and check out our photo gallery from both Saturday shows below.

Dying Scene (Jay Stone): Is this (Boston Calling) going to be the biggest show that you’ve played in the States for a while?

Frank Turner: Actually, you know what? It probably is. I hadn’t thought about that until just now. I guess it might well be our biggest American show. (laughs)

I seem to recall when you played the House of Blues here at the end of last year that it was the biggest stand-alone show you’d done.

Yeah, that was our biggest headline show that we’ve done in the US, definitely. I’m trying to think about this now. We’ve done Bonnaroo and stuff like that.

Oh right. That’s a whole other level, no?

Yeah, it’s sort of difficult to picture where festivals fall on the scale of things. There might be 25,000 people here today, but it’s not like they all came to see us. So it’s difficult to judge. I know, it sounds like I say this to everybody, but Boston really is like our first city in the US. Obviously that has a lot to do with the Dropkick Murphys and the radio stations here. This is where we keep our gear; we have a lockup here, and we hang out here, you know?

What do you think it is about Boston? Is it really the Dropkicks’ connection?

I think that’s a big part of it. But, I mean, Boston’s historically had quite a close relationship with the European, well, with the UK music scene. A lot of British bands happen in Boston before they happen elsewhere in the USA. So I think that’s part of it too.

Sure. I guess that goes back to bands like The Police – some of their first shows were here at The Paradise in ’78 or ’79 or whatever it was.

Right, yeah!

Are there other markets that are like this for you (in the US)?

Yeah, I mean, we do good in San Francisco. Chicago. Denver is actually really good for us too. It’s kind of a funny thing from the UK getting used to the USA. It’s just a question of scale more than anything else, do you know what I mean? I think it’s just kind of redundant to talk about America as a country the way that you might talk about Germany or the UK. It’s more comparable to all of Europe. So like, we do well in Germany, we don’t do so well in Spain, for example. Well, I mean, it’s not like we do badly in Spain, we just haven’t been there much. Similarly, the northeast coast here, Boston down to Philly or DC is great for us. Albuquerque, maybe not so much.

Right…that’s like our Spain I guess. (*both laugh*) …  Do you feel like it’s been a slow build getting up to where you are now in America, or in hindsight does it seem like it happened fast? It seems like you’re here an awful lot for somebody who’s not from here.

I feel like it’s been a slow build. And it’s a funny thing, it’s not really for me to comment in a third-person way on my career. But every now and again someone’s like “you’ve had a meteoric rise to success!” And I kinda go “no I fucking haven’t!” It’s taken me 1500 shows to get here, thanks very much! (*both laugh*) But that’s one of the things I like about America. In the UK, you can cheat. In the sense that, particularly before the internet, there was a definitely a thing when I was growing up whereby an American band would come over and they get Radio 1 and the NME on their side, and their first ever UK tour they’re doing 2000 people a show. And kids would go wild for them. It used to piss me off because a lot of homegrown bands were getting ignored because there’s a lot of America…America-philes?

Yeah…Anglophiles? No..

Yeah, see that’s exactly the word I was going for at first too. (*both laugh*) So it used to piss me off, particularly in the punk and hardcore scenes. And I say this with no disrespect for them at all, because we opened for them on tour. But Finch came over and on their first tour were doing 1500-2000 people. And then there were British bands like Mclusky who were incredible and nobody used to give a fuck about. So it used to piss me off. One of the things I like about America is that you can’t really do that. You just kind of have to do the ground work. You’ve got to come over and you’ve got to fucking play. And I think that’s really cool, actually.

But I feel like you do better here, at least from a Boston perspective since that’s my point of reference, than some people from here do. Like I saw Street Dogs at House of Blues for their annual Wreck The Halls holiday show. It was not too long after you played there and they sold well, but they didn’t quite sell the place out in advance like when you were here. So I suppose that part goes both ways…

That’s true. There is definitely a lot of anglophilia in this country which is playing to my benefit. I mean there are other things like…don’t get me wrong, I love The Clash. But the regard that Joe Strummer is held in over here is really quite weird.

Really?

In the UK, it’s like “oh, yeah, Joe Strummer, he was that guy in The Clash.” Over here it’s like he’s …

FT & JS: Saint Joe Strummer

Right. I remember the first time I was over here and I kinda tweaked that and it was like, “really?” And that’s not to tear him down in any way. He was a great inspiration to me personally and as a songwriter.

Sure! But “why him,” I guess, right?

Yeah!

Because I hold him in that regard but I assumed that everybody in England held him in that same regard.

No, not really. And actually I’d say the same thing about The Beatles to a degree as well. It’s kind of illegal to criticize The Beatles in America, and in the UK it really isn’t. And again, obviously they’re the foundation stone of popular music and I really like The Beatles. But you find a lot of people are kind of like “meh” about The Beatles in the UK whereas here…you HAVE to like The Beatles.

Oh trust me, I know. A buddy kind of killed The Beatles for me, because if you didn’t grow up on them and listened to them retroactively and started with “Yellow Submarine” and worked backwards…

Yeah (*laughs*) you can’t do that.

I know you guys have a tight schedule today, so I’ll keep moving forward. From a scale perspective, what is a Frank Turner show in the UK or in Europe compared to here? Like, when you sold out the House of Blues here in Boston, does that compare to what it’s like back home?

Well, in Germany, I’d say it’s the same. In the UK, the last few gigs we did was our first arena tour, so we did 20,000 in London.

That’s amazing.

And the thing is, it’s funny because obviously all of the punk kids start giving me shit. But it’s like, the last time we played a venue the size of the House of Blues in London it sold out in two minutes. And the thing that’s the most important to me, infinitely more important than venue size or location or that shit, it I want shows to be accessible. When I was a kid, I was never the type of person who would be up at the right time of day to be online to get tickets at the right time, or in the right queue or on the right mailing list or knowing the right people or any of that shit. And I don’t like the idea of somebody who’s like me when I was a kid…or just any normal person who hears a song on the radio and thinks “oh, that sounds cool, let me go see that show, oh, it sold out six months ago. Bummer.” I’d like people to be able to come and see the show if they want to come see it. And right now, that dictates playing large places. Or, I guess, doing multiple nights in smaller places, but you still get ticket touting issues there, which really fucks me off.

And I mean, fuck it, five years time nobody’s going to give a shit and I’ll be back playing a pub again! (*both laugh*)

Is that sort of the reason to balance bigger shows like this with shows like you’re doing tonight and tomorrow at the Sinclair? To have both sides?

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I have to say, I’m really looking forward to the show tonight. We’re doing two nights there. And I have to say that it does ever-so-slightly prick my conscience because a lot of people didn’t get tickets for tonight. It’s a difficult thing, because that small show, punk rock, everyone is super-psyched vibe is fucking great and everybody loves that shit. And I don’t want to do it down like that, but it’s kind of…I’m babbling at this point…(*both laugh*)

Well, is that part of the reason that you’ve played 1500 shows or whatever it is? Because of that sense of obligation to making it accessible? Does that force you to sort of do more nights or a show and a record store appearance in a day?

Yeah. But at the same time…something that I’ve come to realize in the last year or so: 2013 was easily the hardest year of touring that I’ve had. That year was fucking bananas! And I got to the end of it and I suddenly realized that it had become apparent to me that the whole touring the whole time and doing all these shows all over the world…there’s a degree of bravado and machismo about it. And it’s kind of like, I’m not sure that that many people other than me care. Do you know what I mean?

It’s like, am I really going to kill myself over bravado about touring schedules so I can flex my muscles in the mirror and be like “I’m so fucking great”? So, that aside, I love playing shows. I love touring, it’s my favorite way to be. So I don’t want to make a martyr of myself, like “I’m doing all these shows just for the people.” I’m doing it because I fucking love it! And tonight, I’m going to get drunk in a small, sweaty room and play songs people want to hear and hang out with my friends and it’s going to be fucking great!

Right! (Editor’s note: Frank’s name came up in discussion with Tim Barry the night before this interview was conducted. The quotes are meant to paraphrase, not to be direct.) And that’s another thing Tim said about your work ethic last night was that: “He is music. He loves music. And when you hang out with him, it’s talking music and talking about records.”

(*laughs*)

“and that’s wonderful,” he said. “I can’t do that all the time; sometimes I want to fish and play music, so I’ll play four shows in a week instead of twelve shows in a week.

(*laughs*) Yeah yeah yeah! I think it is true, and I think that part of the realization as I get older is that I’m kind of boring, in the sense that the only thing I really give a fuck about is  rock and roll, and everything else can kinda go fuck itself.

Right!

I read books about music! (*laughs*)

Haha…Tim mentioned that too!

I could probably be a more diverse person, but fuck it, you know? Find something you like and stick with it!

 

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The Dying Scene Sessions: Jason Tankerley of Energy

Posted by Tommy on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 6:11 PM (PST)

Guess who’s back! Today we’re unbelievably stoked to bring back the latest installment of our ongoing Dying Scene Sessions series, this time featuring Jason Tankerley of the Boston-area punk band Energy.

I caught up with Jason at the Monster Party Collective in the suburbs of Boston to shoot three songs: “Another Yesterday” off their latest EP “New World Of Fear,” as well as an exclusive, first-listen of a brand new song called “The Infection.” Jason also performed a cover of the Jawbreaker favorite “Do You Still Hate Me?”

Now, that’s enough reading–watch the sessions below!

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Laura Jane Grace, Against Me!

Cinco De Mayo marked Against Me!‘s first full-band Boston performance since the January release of the band’s triumphant full-length, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. While the proverbial piss-and-vinegar that has been the band’s hallmark throughout their six-album career continues to shine through, a 2014-era Against Me! live performance is equal parts catharsis and high-energy celebration.  The band’s newest additions, Atom Willard on drums and Inge Johansson on bass, provide an aggressive, air-tight rhythm section for Grace and longtime bandmate James Bowman to build on. While the feel may not be as anarcho-punk as the “old days,” Against Me! remains as intensely ferocious as ever.

The hour-plus set on this night, as on most nights, was made up of a solid cross-section of tracks representative of the band’s twelve-year career (since the release of Reinventing Axl Rose). Though a band’s newer material can sometimes create a lull in a live setting , the Transgender Dysphoria Blues album was both well-represented and well-received by the audience; the opening tones of set opener “FuckMyLife666″ sent a virtual parade of crowd surfers over the barrier, landing on the backs of at least one unsuspecting (*ahem*) photographer. Who says moshing is banned in Boston? As the band’s set wound frenetically down, Laura Jane Grace introduced show-closer “The Ocean” by thanking the night’s rowdy crowd and hoping that everyone in attendance “got what they needed” out of the show. And while I cannot pretend to speak for the near-capacity crowd, I got the sense that Grace herself most certainly did.

Support on this leg of the Transgender Dysphoria Blues tour came from Big Eyes, a great alt-punk three-piece that hail from the Pacific Northwest by way of New York (or is it New York by way of the Pacific Northwest? I always get that confused). Admittedly unfamiliar with the bulk of their work prior to their early opening slot, I was won over within the first minute of set opener (and album opener from their newest full-length, Almost Famous), “Nothing You Could Say.” If you’re still reading this and you haven’t yet checked out Big Eyes, do so here. Bay Area-based Tony Molina provided direct support. It’s been a long time since I found myself confused by what, exactly, I had just seen in a live band. Congrats to Tony Molina for stoking those fires. The short (20-minute) set managed to cram in somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen songs (or maybe just one song fifteen times, I can’t honestly tell). In some ways, it seemed reminiscent of an old Minutemen set, which is a high compliment from me. Yet, in some ways…I couldn’t help but feel like the old guy at the punk show. Hear more Tony Molina here.

Check out our photo album from the night below.

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Chuck Ragan rocking the mando

Eschewing the Revival Tour in favor of a full-band solo jaunt, Chuck Ragan brought his Camaraderie tourmates (Jon Gaunt on fiddle, Joe Ginsburg on bass, Todd Beene on pedal steel and Social Distortion‘s David Hidalgo Jr. on drums) through Boston on Easter Sunday. The tour features Ragan sharing co-headlining responsibilities with kindred spirit The White Buffalo (aka Jake Smith, whom this writer had the privilege of interviewing for another outlet; check it out here), with support from Social Distortion’s Jonny Two Bags, who is out in support of his debut full-length, Salvation Town (stream it here).

And while the lack of a Revival Tour was met with the chagrin of a few internet commentators out there, the cordial nature of each of the acts has meant for an ever-increasing number of collaborations on the tour. David Hidalgo Jr. pulled double duty, holding down drum duties for both Ragan and for his Social Distortion bandmate, Jonny Two Bags. Two Bags was also joined by fellow Social Distortion bandmate Brett Harding on bass and the inimitable Mitchell Townsend on guitar. Most of the night’s many talented musicians appeared in each other’s sets, espousing the Camaraderie theme in the truest sense.

Check out our photo gallery from the night below…and make sure you check out Jonny Two Bags, The White Buffalo and Chuck Ragan on tour. Each act, individually, is well worth the price of admission. Collectively? Maybe the bill of the year.

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Back in February we reported on a little recording session for San Francisco punks Bum City Saints, where Dying Scene joined the band at Shark Bite Studios in Oakland to observe them (and contribute to) laying down vocals for their upcoming album, “Ride The Storm”.

This week, the band has released details surrounding the new material as well as a ‘behind-the-scenes’ video from the studio which features little previews of three new songs.

“Ride The Storm” is set to be released through Pirates Press Records on June 17th. You can view album artwork, and have a look at the track list below.

Alessandro Pulisci (singer of At Our Heels and owner of Ugly Owl Films) recorded and produced the ‘in-the-studio’ video, which can be viewed below.

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Punk rock supergroup Only Crime are gearing up to release their long-awaited third album, Pursuance, on May 13th. Recently, frontman Russ Rankin (also of Good Riddance) took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and do some Q&A with yours truly. We talk about the inspiration for the new album, their creative process for writing and recording, and Russ’ favorite songs on the album. Check out the full interview below!

Pursuance is set to be released on May 13th through Rise Records. You can pre-order a copy of the album here.

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