Search Results for "DS Exclusive"

DS Interview: Tim Barry on being “Lost and Rootless”

Posted by jaystone on Monday, November 24, 2014 at 9:43 AM (PST)

Tim Barry has a well-earned, albeit Chuck Ragan-esque larger than life reputation of being a bit of a vagabond, the living embodiment of a character from a Tom Waits song. Hell, his last studio album, 2012′s 40 Miler (Chunksaah Records), is a tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating nod to his pastime of riding the rails.

Dying Scene caught up with Barry in early November to chat about Lost & Rootless, and it seems unquestionable that a lot has changed in the years since 40 Miler. Barry’s assumed new roles as a husband and a father; his wife, Sarah, and now-two-year-old daughter Lela Jane appear on the cover of his upcoming release, Lost & Rootless (due November 28th on Chunksaah), and a second daughter, Coralee, was born two weeks ago (editor’s note: Tim and I talked two days before Coralee was born, hence a couple of the references in the conversation below). If there were a time in his professional life where Barry should feel anything but lost and rootless, at least on paper, that time should be now, no?

“I don’t know where I stand. Like, voting day was yesterday. Who the fuck do I vote for? You know what I mean?” Barry asks rhetorically. “In so many aspects of contemporary life in the United States or life in music, who are my peers? I have very close road friends, but I’m lost and rootless. I don’t know…what genre of music do I play? In what group of train riders do I fit with? In what group of workers in Richmond do I fit?”

Those questions are at the core of a number of tracks on Lost & Rootless. This time around, though, the story songs and the scorched-earth vitriol that are part-and-parcel of much of Barry’s traditional work are replaced by what can only be referred to as lighter, happier fare. Marriage and fatherhood will do that to a man, and songs like “Older and Poorer” and “Lela Days” are prime examples of that. Still, it’s not all joy in Mudville: “While I was just on tour, we lost our fucking health insurance,” Barry tells me.  ”We have a baby due in two weeks. So what the fuck do we do? We’ve got a two-year-old, an insulin-dependent diabetic family member, which will bankrupt a family right there, and then you have a baby on the way with all the risks involved. And then someone presents to you this unrealistic fucking charge of $1850 a month for insurance? That’s why people lose their fucking insurance. That’s why people start hustling. That’s why you start doing anything you can to get by.”

Better than perhaps most songwriters going nowadays, Barry has an ability to tap directly into the vein that provides depth and feeling to any situation, and many examples of that abound throughout our conversation. Check out the full text of our interview below. It’s a long one, but it may well be the most candid, compelling read to appear on the pages of Dying Scene.

 

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DS Exclusive: A day in the studio with Rebuilder

Posted by jaystone on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 10:35 AM (PST)

Things are happening in the Rebuilder camp. Great things. Potentially awesome things, even.

The assorted members of the Boston-area five-piece spent the first week of November holed up in Getaway Recording, the Haverhill, Massachusetts, recording studio owned and operated by Jay Maas (pictured above) of Defeater fame. The goal? Recording their debut full-length, Rock And Roll In America. Due out in February 2015 on Panic State Records, ”RNRIA” will serve as follow-up to the band’s debut self-titled EP and their four-song Christmas EP, both released last year on their own Refuse Rethink Rebuild Records label. 

There’s a bit of a buzz growing around Rebuilder, and for good reason. Formed early last year from the ashes of bands like Dead Ellington, The Rimmons, The Great White North and occasionally Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One, the band have already shared the stage with the likes of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Dropkick Murphys, Banner Pilot, and in a particularly triumphant two-night stay at the Sinclair in Cambridge, MA last spring, Frank Turner. The band recently wrapped an eleven date US/Canada tour during which they debuted all of the songs that’ll appear on Rock And Roll In America. Immediately upon returning home to Boston, the band jumped right into the studio. “The goal of that tour was to have all of the material down before coming here, rather than waste time in the studio figuring things out,” Ellington and Stanton tell me. I quote both of them, because the duo give the impression that they’re on the same page all the time, expounding on each others’ thoughts and words during our conversation.

Ah, perhaps I missed a step there. Yours truly had the privilege of joining Rebuilder’s Sal Ellington (lead vocals/guitar) and Craig Stanton (lead guitar) as they tracked guitars under Maas’ watchful eye. As stated above, Getaway Recording is located in a quiet residential street in an otherwise fairly rough, working-class Boston suburb. There’s little about the drive up through the nondescript neighborhood filled with newer Colonial-style houses like Maas’ that screams  ”high-profile hardcore punk recording studio,” except for maybe the American-made touring vans parked piggy-back style out front. Maas’ mini pinscher, Niles, came barreling out of the house upon my arrival, loudly (for a “min pin”) making his presence felt. This, my friends, is where the magic happens.

Admittedly, guitar day in the studio is not always the most dynamic of recording days. Drummer/tambourinist Brandon Phillips and bassist Daniel Carswell had spent the first part of the week committing their respective parts to tape (or hard drive, as it were), leaving Ellington and Stanton alone with Maas (and Niles) to lay down guitars before wrapping things up with vocals and Rick Smith’s keyboards by the week’s end. There’s something instantly comfortable and laid back about the setup at Getaway. The operation’s command center has the feel of a living room; the leather couches, Goose Island brews and Little Caesar’s Soft Pretzel Crust pizza (seriously guys…that’s a thing) certainly help.

As I arrived, Stanton was wrapping guitars for songs labelled on the white board as “Hope” and “Dread.” The former of those tracks Ellington would refer to as the album’s “pop track.” He’s not wrong, necessarily, though that understates the pop sensibilities of the remainder of what Rebuilder does. There’s a certain 90s-skate-punk-meets-post-punk quality to the area that is the Rebuilder wheelhouse; I’m instantly reminded of bands like No Motiv and Big Awesome, though perhaps Bouncing Souls-meets-Samiam is more appropriate. While laid-back in nature, Maas remains focused on getting the most out of the band. “The great thing about working with Jay,” Ellington tells me when Maas leaves the room to take a call from his band’s manager, “is that he already knows the sounds we’re looking for.” “Unlike maybe some other engineers who work on a broader variety,” Stanton adds,”Jay already speaks the same language. That makes things so much easier when you’re in the studio.”

After plowing through rhythm parts on the the last couple of songs, Stanton and Ellington, in that order, moved on to recording leads for a few of the album’s tracks. “We’re throwing out all the rules here,” Stanton stated jokingly at one point during a brief lull between takes, as the left-handed Ellington was trying to work out a part on Maas’ right-handed EverTuned Telecaster, while the right-handed Maas was trying to tune the left-handed Ellington’s Telecaster for a particular lead. Light-hearted nature that was the theme of the evening aside (“just a tad sexier” was Maas’ advice to Stanton after a not-particularly-sexy take at a lead on the album’s opening track, “Natty Bo”), Stanton’s quote wasn’t really all that much of a joke. Removed from anything that could be considered the context in which it was stated, Rebuilder were essentially formed by throwing out all of the rules that governed many of their other musical projects. “We’ve got four drummers in this band,” Ellington tells me. He, Stanton and Smith all play or have played drums in other projects. “And our drummer (Phillips) is one of the best guitar players around, easily better than the two of us,” Stanton adds.

Hey, if the philosophy worked for Neil Young when he put Crazy Horse together, there’s no reason it can’t help a band of Boston punks as it tries to help do its part in revitalizing a scene. Stay tuned for Rock And Roll In America…it’ll be worth the wait. Check out more pictures from my visit with the law firm of Ellington, Stanton and Maas below.

 

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Once upon a time not long ago, the future seemed very much unclear for Lagwagon. The seminal California punk band played occasional tours and festival shows, but the members each had what seemed to be increasingly-mounting outside obligations (perhaps most notably frontman Joey Cape also had his own increasingly busy solo career, he and drummer Dave Raun staying active in Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, former bassist Jesse Buglione leaving the band and being replaced by Joe Raposo, and Chris Rest joining No Use For A Name). Though they never officially went away, there were no plans to record any new material after the band’s 2005 ode to late-drummer Derrick Plourde, Resolve.

But a funny thing happened on what seemed to be the road to Hiatus-ville (or at least ‘Extended Break-town’). The band embarked on a lengthy tour in support of their 2011 Putting Music In Its Place boxed set. Somewhere on that run, the creative juices got flowing again. According to Cape, “something happened during that period of time where I felt like we kinda got re-fired up. A lot of synergy and chemistry came back into the band through that process.” Over the ensuing several years, Cape would begin writing new music specifically for Lagwagon. In spite of nearing the quarter-century mark fronting the band (and his own half-century mark on this planet), the music that Cape found himself writing was arguably the most aggressive, heavy music of his career. “It seems to me like it’s heavier than anything we’ve ever done!” He continues: “I think it’s a matter of where the band is now. We always try to make records that are appropriate to the collective personality the band has at the time. We all grew up on different kinds of music, metal and punk and rock and really heavy stuff. I think that most of the guys in my band prefer the really heavy stuff.”

But it wasn’t just angry music Cape was composing; the lyrics he found himself writing were also amongst the angriest of his career. “But the basic, central theme of the record is just my view of the world that I live in now, that I’m raising my daughter in. This is just a series of rants that (you’d hear) if you were my pal and hung out at the pub with me on a Wednesday night.” Fatherhood may have softened Cape in some ways, but it’s also made him more frustrated in the world around him. “I think it’s a bit cheesy to say that ‘we’ve got to hold on to hope,’ you know, because I honestly don’t have a lot of hope. That said, I’m dealing with what I’m dealing with, so how do I make the best of it.”

The result of Cape’s frustration and, perhaps, lack of hope is Hang. Due out October 28th on their longtime label home of Fat Wreck Chords, Hang is a dozen of the heaviest, most earnest songs that Lagwagon have recorded to wax. While much of the material is no doubt focused on society’s woes, there’s also an ode to the band’s longtime friend and touring partner Tony Sly, whose 2012 death rang loudly throughout all corners of the scene. While you might expect “One More Song” to be a mournful, acoustic number, in reality, it’s anything but. “I had no intention of writing a song for Tony like this because I just didn’t feel in this case that words or melodies or anything would really suffice. I didn’t feel like anything would be deep enough or good enough to represent anything that I wanted to say or feel. And I didn’t for a long time, but that song just kinda came out of the blue one day. I just couldn’t deny it, I had to do it.”

Head below to read our full, in-depth conversation with Cape. It’s a long one, we’ll admit, but it finds the always good-natured Caper in an honest, thoughtful and increasingly candid mood. Be sure to check out Lagwagon on the road with Swingin’ Utters and This Legend later this fall; full tour details here. Who knows…maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch Hang start to finish!

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I recently caught up with The Murderburgers frontman Fraser Murderburger. During the interview, we discussed his record label Round Dog Records, new songs being worked on for The Murderburgers, his new musical project with Flav Giorgini of Squirtgun called The Phase Problem and loads more.

You can read it below.

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The Gaslight Anthem (L to R): Alex R., Brian, Benny, Ian, Baby Wade and Alex L.

While it may be a little self-serving to admit, news that The Gaslight Anthem were bringing Against Me! out as direct support for the first US leg of the U.S tour in support of Get Hurt quickly made for one of the more eagerly-anticipated concert events in recent memory (save, maybe, for the nostalgia-inducing Summer Nationals tour that featured The Vandals, Pennywise and Bad Religion supporting The Offspring as the latter band celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their breakthrough hit album, Smash). In this lowly writer’s opinion, both Get Hurt and Against Me’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues have been on the short list of Best Albums of 2014 since their very spins on the trusty old record player.

Technically speaking, this writer must offer a mea culpa to Twopointeight: the Swedish punks were first opener on this evening, however the early start time and infamous Boston traffic and parking conundrums meant that, like many people, I was unable to catch the majority of the band’s set. Next time, fellas…next time.

While I haven’t talked to her in order to confirm my suspicions, I strongly believe that while 2014 may have been trying in myriad ways (the least of which include replacing the band’s entire rhythm section and dealing with patronizingly tone-deaf reviews of Transgender Dysphoria Blues by at least one major publication with whom I share a last name), performing the intensely personal new album live alongside longtime friend and bandmate James Bowman appears to have had immense cathartic value for Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace. Grace has made a career of being the type of intense, cut-a-vein-open-and-bleed-out-on-stage performer that the foundation of the protest punk ethos was built upon. And while that intensity is still ever-present, what’s equally obvious is the amount of fun that Grace is having (despite, on this night, seemingly being plagued by a little vocal hoarseness as the night went on). The rhythm section of the great Atom Willard (drums) and Inge Johannson (bass) paced the charge, each playing like a man possessed (the latter an almost comically demonic end, as evidenced in the pictures below) as the band ripped through “Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong” as the opening song. What followed was a fairly decent career-spanning forty-five minute set. Highlight tracks from the Transgender Dysphoria Blues, including the title track, “True Trans Soul Rebel” and “Black Me Out” have a natural home alongside longtime favorites like “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” and “Don’t Lose Touch.” Though the crowd was not perhaps a stereotypical AM! crowd given their opening slot, the bulk of the audience seemed just as energized by Against Me!’s set as they were with the headliners.

Though Against Me!’s current lineup has only been touring as a unit for under a year, they’ve quickly solidified as a tight, dynamic force on stage. When in a support role, this has the effect of keeping the headliners honest, making sure that the main act are primed and loaded for bear.  The Gaslight Anthem responded in kind with all guns blazing, ripping through a tight rendition of Get Hurt opener “Stay Vicious.” As expected, the band’s stellar new album featured prominently in the set (seven of the twenty-one TGA originals). Those familiar with a little of the back story in the Gaslight camp over the past year or so will note that, like Against Me!, the band (and frontman Brian Fallon) have been met with a fair amount of personal and professional tumult. And while Get Hurt can unquestionably be referred to as Fallon’s breakup album, one can’t help but notice that 2014-era Brian Fallon seems to play with a bit of a weight no longer on his shoulders. Indeed, perhaps the only person on stage all night visibly getting more enjoyment out of playing live more than Laura Jane Grace on this night was Fallon, whose smile seemed welded on as a permanent part of his face. His trademark between-song banter was lighthearted (introducing “Blue Jeans And White T-Shirts” as the “most circle-pit inspiring song we have” in response to some good-natured ribbing from an audience member).

There was perhaps a Pearl Jam-esque arena rock quality to the band’s set, though the requisite “for the old school fans” songs like “We Came To Dance” and “1930” fit in nicely amongst a set primarily culled from the band’s post-’59 Sound catalog. While some in the crowd may have questioned the band for closing with a cover, The Who’s classic high-energy, youth rock pre-punk paean (and longtime Pearl Jam live staple) “Baba O’Riley” seemed to accurately capture where the band are a decade into their career. Perhaps we (and I’m including myself in this) can finally knock off the cheap Vedder and Springsteen comparisons and fully appreciate what The Gaslight Anthem are: not only willing but, more importantly, perfectly capable of maintaining the authentic, songwriter-inspired American rock and roll torch for years going forward.

Check out our gallery of Against Me! and The Gaslight Anthem photos from the show below. Click on the actual pictures to see ‘em in all their full-sized glory!

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DS Interview: Getting to know Rob Lynch (English folk punk)

Posted by jaystone on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 3:01 PM (PST)

English pub folk rocker Rob Lynch has quickly been making quite a name for himself. Within a couple years of putting out his debut five-song EP in 2011, Lynch had found himself being asked to play at such high-profile events as the Download Festival, the Groezrock Festival and Gainesville’s Fest. Hot on the heels of a successful stint on the Acoustic Basement stage for the duration of this year’s Warped Tour, Lynch is now set to unleash his debut full-length, All These Nights In Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul on the masses (September 23rd, Xtra Mile Recordings).

Dying Scene caught up with Lynch from across the pond for a chat about the anxieties of waiting for your debut album’s long-awaited release, his Warped Tour experiences, and the inevitable Frank Turner comparisons. Check out our chat below!

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Music Video Premiere: Anchoress – “For A Soft Heart”

Posted by Ghost Country on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 1:34 PM (PST)

 

Vancouver post-hardcore outfit Anchoress have unveiled their music video for the song “For A Soft Heart” off of their 2014 release, “Crime & Compass.” You can check it out below here.

“Crime & Compass” was released digitally earlier this year as two separate streams which then materialized in the physical world as a full-length album on August 12th via File Under: Music.

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Coming off the resounding success of their 2012 release Ex Lives, Every Time I Die has done it again with the very different, yet quintessentially ETID brand new effort titled From Parts Unknown. Giving the album its first national showcase on this year’s Warped Tour, these vets from Buffalo absolutely killed it. Frontman Keith Buckley was kind enough to spare DS a few of his precious moments on the tour to talk about the past, the future, flowers from LTJ, and dream sequences.

Read the interview below, or head over here and watch it if you’re into videos filmed in portrait mode on an iPhone.

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Nathen Maxwell is in a pretty good place.

While no doubt better recognized for the job he’s had for effectively half his life (bass player of Flogging Molly, of course), things are finally ramping back up in the Maxwell-led Bunny Gang camp. The band put out an album in 2009 (White Rabbit, SideOneDummy Records), toured a bit, wrote and recorded a follow-up album entitled Thrive in 2012 and then…well…the waiting game began.

Two years, several band members and a new record label (Hardline Entertainment) later and Thrive is set to finally see the light of day. With obvious Clash-influeced reggae-dub-punk influences, the album centers on a “one love” vibe that was inspired at least in part by the documentary with which it shares a name (more here). And yet, it’s not ALL peace and love, as the album points continuously to the circular nature of war profiteering and the conflicts that, hopefully, won’t be our demise.

We caught up with Nathen a week prior to the September 23rd release of Thrive to talk about the holdups behind the album’s release, the balancing his Flogging Molly and Bunny Gang sides, and answering the all-important question: “what is punk rock?”. We also spent some time discussing the controversial documentary that gave Thrive its name, and whether or not it gets hard to keep up the “one love” mantra in an ongoing war cycle. Check out our chat below.

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Rick Barton is always searching.

The longtime veteran of the Boston punk rock scene finds himself on the perpetual quest to be the best man that he could be. To be brutally honest, this quest has come with its fair share of trials and tribulations. As Barton sings on “Busted,” which appears on his band Continental‘s upcoming album Millionaires,  he may have “been dumb more times than (he has) been smart.” And yet, with age of course comes wisdom. The original Dropkick Murphys‘ guitarist has taken his lumps over the years, but seems to continue to learn from his mistakes from an unlikely source: Facebook?

Boston-area music fans may know of the maelstrom that Barton created in a serious of rather opinionated posts on the social networking site last Spring (the details of which will not be discussed here…ask around). “Anybody can do whatever the hell they want,” Barton recounts. “That’s the one thing I learned about my debacle on Facebook; anyone can do whatever they want, I don’t even care. I just know that I have to do what I have to do for myself.”

And that’s what Barton continues to do. Dying Scene caught up with Barton a few times over the last week or so to discuss Continental’s upcoming album, to get a little bit into his history as a songwriter, particularly with Continental and Dropkick Murphys, and to discuss his goals for his current project (which, as you should know, features his son Stephen on bass). The result, as to be expected, was as straight-forward, honest and compelling as you’d expect. Barton continues to wear his heart on his sleeve, which we generally celebrate as a scene. Unless, of course, that heart makes us uncomfortable, which is on us, not on him. Check out our conversation below!

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DS Show Review: The Vans Warped Tour 2014 takes Jones Beach (Wantagh, NY)

Posted by DebNYC on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6:17 PM (PST)

Is it a strange thing for a 46-year old woman to look forward to Warped Tour every year? After all, not only has the event metamorphosed into a barely-recognizable form of its former self, but I am beginning to be mistaken for a Parental Day Care attendee (yes, I said “beginning” – I have good genes, okay?)

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the tour will likely never live up to my introduction to it seven years ago with the stellar punk lineup of The Bouncing Souls, Gallows, Streetlight Manifesto, Bad Religion, NOFX, Less Than Jake, Flogging Molly and Big D and the Kids Table, I do consider it an earmark to my summer. After all, what could be better than sunshine, little clothing, the discovery of new bands up close and personal and overpriced fried shit?

To that end, I made it my mission to (with the one and only exception of Every Time I Die, who is not ever to be missed and who were to be the focal point of my visit,) skip the structure and wander about the grounds (much easier to do this year with the change in venue,) stopping to observe any stage which caught my eye.

This year, the first group to do so was Charetta, a Manhattan-based, female-fronted, metal-infused outfit who actually didn’t look like they were born yesterday. The powerful vocals of Angelina DelCarmen alongside the dual shred of guitarists Pablo LaFrossia and Chris Fullam, with bassist Rich Mollo and drummer Adonis Sanchez rounding out the percussion, were a lively standout. With this being their only stop on the tour, the band needed to give this performance all that they had, and they didn’t disappoint. If Charetta is playing at a theater near you, you should really check them out, they’re a good time.

After conducting an enlightening interview with the interminable Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die (transcript to follow shortly – the sound quality isn’t amazing, as it almost never is at Warped, even in a press room, but you can view the video here,) YouTube Preview Image I took five for a brewski in a comfy chair and chatted with a lovely, tattooed Canadian grandmother in a Slipknot shirt, there with her Japanese grandson. We both admired the dulcet tones of Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! as we sat, and giggled at the panda enjoying their set sidestage. While awaiting for ETID’s set to begin, I was lucky enough to stumble upon Brooklyn residents Hunter Valentine on the Shiragirl Stage. Those of you who followed Showtime’s “The Real L Word” will remember the band from their appearances on the show.

Not having actually had the opportunity to see the band play a full set before, it was pretty cool to watch them fly. This Toronto-bred, all-female band possesses a ton of positive energy to go with their rough-and-tumble punk sound. Currently on their junior release, the band gathered a respectable crowd, replete with tiny female admirers, as any rock band worth their salt should attract. Frontperson Kiyomi McCloskey played up to the crowd by strolling through it and borrowing a fan’s sunglasses and trading barbs with founding drummer Laura Petracca, while newer members Aimee Bessada and Veronica Sanchez managed the string section effortlessly. Their set actually felt much too short to me – I would highly recommend catching them on a headliner the next time one rolls around in Hipsterville.

Everyone knows that you absolutely do not miss an Every Time I Die performance. The first time I ever saw this band play, they were opening for Underoath, who at the time had a very strong live reputation – and ETID blew them off the stage. They’re also extremely fun to photograph, as evidenced by the eighty-some-odd pictures that I wound up with of them.

This band could blow the ceiling off the Sistine Chapel. Their sidestage at Monster was such a hotspot that security had to close it down. Both classics and new jams from their freshly released “From Parts Unknown” were met with unerring enthusiasm by the massive crowd (who lead pipe Keith Buckley earnestly thanked for making the trek over,) and joined his guitarist brother Jordan in surging into the crowd. Returning bassist Stephen Micciche took a turn as well, patiently snapping photos with wide-eyed fans in the pit as the set drew to a close, Second guitarist Andy Williams was a whirring dervish as drummer Ryan “Legs” Leger pounded the skins for all he was worth. ETID ended their set to an enthusiastic chant of “Buckleys!” as the crowd quickly dispersed for greener pastures.

On the way to sweat out one last bathroom journey and a phone charge before concluding the afternoon, I stumbled directly into Heart To Heart’s set on the Hard Rock Kevin Says Stage. Fucking wow, is all I can say. I was literally unable to continue my journey to the big empty arena, so captivating was the blood-and-guts performance headed up by Nick Zoppo and backed full blast by second vocalist and guitarist Taylor Stillwell, bassist Justin Bratcher and drummer Blaze Blanke. You couldn’t take your eyes off them, and although it was clear that their hardcore fans, who knew every word, were a bit outnumbered by the junior high school set, who clearly didn’t, the crowd grew larger and more appreciative with every song. They were a tornado, and I feel lucky to have caught these California native hardcorers in such a laid-back setting.

The band released their latest effort, “Dulce” last month to respectable reviews – I know I’m going to be checking it out.

Feel free to peruse the photoset (presuming you can find any that aren’t of ETID,) as I gear up for another week and a half of punk shows.

Warped Tour may have lost a lot of its original aesthetic, but the main point, which is to discover new music in an unpretentious setting, lives on.

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Californian pop-punk veterans, Bracket, recently released their first album in nearly a decade, “Hold Your Applause.” I was lucky enough to catch up with members Marty Gregori and Angelo Celli to discuss the making of it, what took so long, and what’s in store next for the band.  Spoiler Alert: They’re already working on a new album!

You check out the interview below.

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Any review of The Offspring’s Summer Nationals tour would be remiss in downplaying the importance of that band’s breakout album, Smash, in the annals of punk rock history. Yet, the virtues of the year in punk that was 1994 have been extolled myriad times over in the two decades since, quite frequently by men and women far more eloquent than I. So while nostalgia may have been the overarching theme of the night (the four bands on the Boston bill, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise and The Vandals have, according to my fuzzy math, been hawking their wares for a collective 115 or so years), the biggest takeaway from this night’s stop was just how vital and, frankly, timeless this particular wing of the punk rock museum can be.

The Vandals’ 30-minute-or-so opening slot set an early tone, packing a high level of energy and fun into an all-too-brief package. Themselves capable of headlining many a nationwide tour (albeit probably not selling out the 2400+ capacity House of Blues in Boston), The Vandals eleven-song set was incapable of digging too deep into their thirty-year catalog. The band drew fairly heavily from 1998’s Hitler Bad, Vandals Good (which is more than okay in my book), with crowd favorites like “Oi to The World” and guitarist (not bassist) Warren Fitzgerald assuming frontman duties for their spastic, show-closing cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” thrown in for good measure.

Pennywise and Bad Religion followed in that order, each relegated to 45ish-minute sets, leaving little time for small talk, meaning that both bands came out hard and fast. Pennywise’s 14-song set featured a heavy dose of crowd interplay that served as the only real time the band’s foot was off the accelerator. I will say that there’s something a little different about a seeing frontman coaxing a crowd whose average age was well north of 30 to raise their collective middle fingers to authority. Yet, at the same time, decades old tracks like “Perfect People” and “Society” seem perhaps more relevant in 2014 than they were when they were first written.

Backed by the human gas pedal that is Brooks Wackerman (who did double duty behind the drum kit on this tour, filling in for The Vandals’ Josh Freese), Bad Religion made the most of their time slot, somehow cramming 17-songs into 45 minutes. Awe, who am I kidding…somehow? It’s Bad Religion, that’s how. Never a group to write magnum Rush-style opuses, Greg Graffin and company get right to the point. Though the parts may have changed and the hair may have grayed over the years, Bad Religion continue to stake their claim as one of the tightest, most dynamic bands running. Also…the Suffer mini-set was A)unexpected and B)much appreciated.

Last but not least, obviously, was The Offspring. The headliners, and arguably one of the more polarizing bands in the punk genre for last couple decades, have been playing Smash in honor of its 20th anniversary. However, in a somewhat interesting twist, they’ve not been playing it in order. In this particular writer’s opinion, that was a good move. “Play the album in order” shows have the effect of being presented stale at times, given that a band can effectively sleepwalk through the same performance in the same order night in and night out. The “shuffle” mode has a way of at least appearing to keep the band on their toes. Anyway…Smash circa 2014 doesn’t have quite the same impact that it did twenty years ago. Unlike the politically charged rebellion tunes of Pennywise or Bad Religion or the sarcastic, locker-room brand of humor that The Vandals prefer, Smash‘s tunes of rebellious youth don’t come off quite the same when performed by the middle-aged version of the band. Which is, precisely, why the band have progressed sonically and changed lyrically over the years, meaning that much of the newer, “less punk” stuff has a way of translating as more honest now. But tonight wasn’t about “now,” and tonight was a perfect reminder of exactly what resonated for so many people twenty years ago.

Check out our full photo gallery below.

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Mike letting the crowd take over

As of this writing, Boston punks Street Dogs are part of the way through a tour of Europe with fellow Pirates Press labelmates Bishops Green. Prior to heading across the pond, however, the five-piece stormed Boston’s Midway Cafe for a couple warm-up shows. Billed as the Crooked Drunken Sons, Street Dogs took to the stage for an early-evening acoustic matinee gig and followed up with a fully plugged-in late night set. It’s no great mystery that the Street Dogs are widely known as a hard-working, blue collar street punk band. And while they may not play out with quite the same road dog regularity as in their younger years, the band more than make up for that with high energy, give-it-all-you’ve-got live performances that leave little, if anything, left in the tank. The newest Street Dogs (Matt Pruitt of Have Nots and Lenny Lashley on guitar, Pete Sosa on drums) seem no doubt cut from the same cloth as longtime core members Mike McColgan and Johnny Rioux, now in their second decade as nucleus of the band. Case-in-point: the band could quite easily have rested on their laurels and used the early evening set as a way to work the kinks out of a few songs, shaking off the cobwebs and being content with flubs and false starts. Instead, the took the opportunity to play a full acoustic set that, while rare for a band in this genre to attempt, came across as every bit as earnest as their typical high-energy plugged in sets.

Hard work and double duty were recurring themes on the evening, as support for the early set came from local singer-songwriter Matt Charette (whose stellar solo full-length, Back East, is available to stream here) and Lenny Lashley, a full time Street Dog who’d already carved a name out for himself as a singer and songwriter through his solo work and his Darkbuster days. Charette then joined the Street Dogs on accordion, mandolin and crowd-surfing duties as the evening progressed. Support on the nightcap came from the Barroom Heroes and OC45. The former have established a reputation as one of the better young bands in the scene, while the latter are established road dogs who themselves are in between lengthy tours of their own.

Check out our photo gallery from the evening set below!

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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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