In the Key of Protomartyr

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Protomartyr on Friday at Underground Arts in Philadelphia

Text and Photos by K. Cecchini

I just saw Protomartyr on Friday at Underground Arts, which is (I say) Philly version of Brooklyn’s Rough Trade  where we saw them in October. I wrote a piece after that show and never posted it, so I will do it now.

Protomartyr vocalist Joe Casey took to the stage October at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade in his standard business casual attire. Throughout the set, he alternated between nonchalantly standing with one hand in his pocket, suit jacket pushed back and the other holding the mike to his face and intensely stretching up to nearly wrap his mouth around the mike on the stand. And then, with his hand still on the microphone, he will often hang his head down until the next verse.

With Casey’s vocals, drummer Alex Leonard, Guitarist Greg Ahee and Bass Guitarist Scott Davidson brought their richly textured sound to life in Rough Trade’s intimate space. Not letting up on the music, Davidson played right through a bloody nose. It was also really fantastic to already hear their brand new album The Agent Intellect live. On its own, the track, “Why Does it Shake?,” was worth the midnight trip into Brooklyn.

Protomartyr appears to have gathered a slew of attention in the past year and I would love to interview them before they get too big.

I only had my phone at the Philly and Brooklyn shows, so check out my photos from the Protomartyr set at the 2014 year’s Seaport Music Festival here. 

Protomartyr guitarist Greg Ahee, vocalist Joe Casey, and drummer Alex Leonard
Protomartyr guitarist Greg Ahee, vocalist Joe Casey, and drummer Alex Leonard (October: Brooklyn)
Protomartyr bass guitarist Scott Davidson
Protomartyr bass guitarist Scott Davidson (October: Brooklyn) 

 

 

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Artist Spotlight: Wyldlife

Interview conducted by    @KralTunes The boys of New York’s WYLDLIFE are in the midst of a personal revival.  After being sidelined for close to a year, the band has just released some new material, (It’s Called) Rock ‘n’ Roll, and are gearing up for a major run in the next year.  Before heading south to record their new album, vocalist Dave Feldman was awesome enough to talk to me about the highs and lows of the rock and roll life, some of his best (and worst) memories on the road, and some time traveling hijinks. a2015757904_10 KralTunes:  (Typical question I am sure you’ve heard ad nauseam)  Do the boys in the band WYLDLIFE actually live up to what the name implies, or are you all simple happy little homemakers when the lights are turned off?

Dave Feldman: Well, I don’t know about a homemaker. We all keep are heads on our shoulders, I’ll say that. We have vices, but we keep them in check. We have paychecks coming in for the most part so we’re not starving. When we’re on the road, we definitely turn into a whole different animal. A party animal, if you will.

KT:  Lets get some basics out-of-the-way.  How did you guys come together as a group?  Have you been playing together for a long time?

DF: Spencer (bass) and Sam (lead guitar, also only guitar) went to college together, as did our old drummer, Russ. I had been playing with Sam in high school so we just wanted to keep it going. Back then, I would go up to Purchase nearly every weekend, practice, play shows, look for some strange, mooch off everybody’s meal cards, and go home. Now we got Stevie in the band on drums, he’s a couple years older but looks maybe 8 years younger. He’s a killer drummer, but he’s also just a really sweet, soft-spoken guy.

KT: You recently returned after a “nearly a year-long hiatus between drummers” with an exciting new 7” vinyl, (It’s Called) Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Was it difficult for the band to be on such an extended break for this long?  For some bands, such breaks can go either way: (A)  Its torture, (B)  It was a chance to step back and reflect on our body of work and perhaps make necessary adjustments to future success (sorry for the philosophy) Where do you guys lean, or is there an option C I am not taking into consideration?

DF: Yeah, the last year since Russ left was really hard on everyone. It was so tormenting to want to be playing, wanting to be recording, wanting to tour and to not be able to do it just because I was at the mercy of a terrible situation. And for me, this is all I want to do in life. And for so long I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen again, or if the whole thing was going to disintegrate. I got around to thinking about killing myself, especially around the winter time. That’s not really something I’ve talked about with too many people, but whatever. For about a year, I basically had my terrible day job that I would come home to every day and that was it. That song “Saturday Night” became totally true for me and it was really bad. We had two songs that we recorded in June (that just came out) but we weren’t doing anything with it. I didn’t even like going to shows or seeing my friends bands anymore because it just made me a really bitter and sad person. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t kill myself because it’s looking good now. The one thing that we were able to do was write a ton of new material, even if it meant we weren’t playing it out, but now we have Stevie on board, we’re recording this album next month and it’s gonna be a ripper. Then I just want to be on tour forever if I can.

KT:  The bands image portrayed through your videos and various photos I’ve seen is one of beer swilling ruffians, and does not seem to fit into the current ‘pop-punk’ landscape.  (most people think of this 5SOS band when talking about punk rock, for Gods sake)!   Do you see yourselves as outliers of the current scene? Are you products of a bygone era?

DF: I think WYLDLIFE may actually be the most outlier-type band right now, only because we are too rough around the edges for a major label (which is fine for me) but we are too slick and good-looking for a Burger Records or Slovenly or Hozac. That kinda sucks because those are my favorite bands right now, Barreracudas, Dinos Boys, Shocked Minds, Dirty Fences, Bad Sports, etc. But I think that huge amount of admiration and appreciation for those bands is most likely not reciprocated from their audiences to us. We’re caught in this fucked place, sonically and visually, but whatever. At the end of the day I just want to drink Bud Lite Lime and make music we like. Our fans will get it, and if some other people get it, that’s cool too.

KT:  Songs like “ Cowboys and Slutz” and “The First Time’s The Worst” off of The Time Has Come To Rock & Roll appear to be written from a first person account.  Do you pull from real life experiences for the lyrical content of your music?

DF: Yeah of course. The title for Cowboys and Slutz actually came from this Cowboys and Nava-hoes party we went to one time. It sounds fratty as fuck, but I swear to god it was insane. Loose woman dressed as Native Americans, Jesus Christ… The funny thing about both of those songs are that their both about teenage girls. They sound totally different but for “Cowboys” I guess we were going for like an AC/DC or Motley Crue thing, and then “The First Time’s the Worst” was just lyrically going for a song The Raspberries might have written. Those two weren’t about anybody specific, but a lot of our songs are. Mostly ex-girlfriends and knuckleheads I see around the city.

KT:  I’m sure you’ve been asked about your favorite spots to play…whats the worst venue you have ever played in?  Was the experience so vile that no amount of $$$ would convince you to return?

DF: I won’t name names but people can ask me in person. Hamtramck, MI was fucking terrible. We did a show with The No Tomorrow Boys and at the end of the night they offered us $10 between both of our groups because “they had to pay the light guy.” You can’t even get high for $10 dollars. There was a show in Kansas City that was so fucked, there was just negative energy that night following us. We almost got into two separate fist fights, one with a group of local dickheads, another with a drunk guy in the parking lot who told us “You don’t know how much money I make, you’ll never make 300 dollars a week in your life.” There was also a massive thunder and lightning storm that night. It was awesome. Also there was a spot in Winchester, VA where we didn’t get paid, we ran our own sound, and without any sympathy we’re just like, “also your bar tab is 50 bucks between the four of you” so we Blues Brothers’d the fuck outta there.

KT:  Follow up: Are there areas of the country/world that you are super excited to get back to on future tours, and why?

DF: Yeah absolutely. Too many to name. Definitely looking forward to going back to FYWROK. Atlanta, Milwaukee, Chicago, definitely looking forward to playing Denver some time in the future, hit the West Coast. All that good stuff! If anybody wants us to come to your town, get at us!

KT:  So body ink seems to be a favorite pastime amongst the boys in the band.   Any of you have tattoos that you regret getting years (or the next morning) later?

DF: I mean, I got a Misfits tattoo lasered off. I coulda lived with it, but really I was just bored and could afford something else. Oh well.

KT:  If you had to rank your wyldest (see what I did there) touring moments (on stage or off), what would the top 3 be?

DF: There are too many and all quite blurry. In no order: Milwaukee, WI: Picked up, immediately escorted to a strip club called The Cheetah Club in a party bus with all these street punks, then played to a packed house where the cops showed up. That was madness. We Woke up the next day and went on a brewery tour and drunk bowling. Indianapolis, the one time Young Matt stole my sneakers and we wound up at a slip and slide party and drove around in, I swear to Christ, a fucking lawnmower hovercraft, then went back to Brett’s house and watched the Best of Stone Cold WWF VHS tape and ate a pizza that was bigger than my mattress.  (You would have been my heroes circa 1999). The first time we played Chicago some guy in his mid to late 20s walked towards me with a knife and said, “Hey! You were at my friends party last weekend weren’t you?” and I said “Uhh… no.” And then his friend in the background shouts, “IT’S NOT HIM!.” That all took about 4 seconds but it was pretty fucked! (You guys have lived a charmed life..that much I am sure of).

KT: What the hell is a  “GLUNK ROCKER”?! (apparently, you are)  Do you approve of such a term?

DF: I think it’s a conjunction of glam and punk. Yeah I back it. I have been called worse. I think that the New York Dolls and The Soda Pop Kids and The Star Spangles and The Richmond Sluts were kinda glunk rockers in their own right, so I back it.

KT: I try to get some opinions on current events with each interview, so bear with me as we troll through miserable reality for a moment: Baltimore.  Freddie Gray.  Whats your take on all this crap?  Seems like every week theres a new story about abuses in law enforcement that unfortunately results in a dead African-American man.  Has there been an actual spike in these events occurring, or is the media simply hyper focusing on such stories?  Are they (the media) making it worse? (my answer, YES!)   As I write this, they are now stating that his death was self-inflicted while in custody..seems far fetched, but anything is possible I suppose.

DF: None of us are ones to rock the boat politically or socially, so I’ll just say that the footage of the dude nonchalantly throwing a huge rock through a cop car windshield got me so pumped, I had to run laps listening to The Kids just to work off the excitement.

KT: You just released this new 7”.  What does the future hold for WYLDLIFE?

DF: We are driving down to Atlanta next week to record the next album. I am so excited for that, I can’t even tell you. Then we got a couple shows around NYC for June, probably fly down to Tulsa for this FYWROK festival. The album will be out hopefully by early fall. Maybe do some touring around then. I would love to put out a Christmas 7” this year too. We’ll have to see.  (Excellent!! I look forward to it)! 

Most important question of the night…

KT: I like a good time travel hypothetical situation, and this one comes from the podcast TELL EM STEVE DAVE. The one scenario that immediately comes up in conversation is always “If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be”?, and the answer almost always is, KILL HITLER.  That became the standard answer, and as a result, to make things more interesting, the question evolved into “If you could travel back in time and kill baby Hitler before all of his atrocities, would you do so”?  Now, in an attempt to ratchet it up even more, the question has become “You have the opportunity to seduce Mother Hitler prior to his original conception from his actual father, thus sparing the world from his DNA and cruel final solution. (assuming that the child would grow up to be more like one of you, and a lot less like Hitler).   Would you be willing to impregnate the future Hitler’s mother to save he future of millions of lives?? Here is a picture of Mother Hitler to help (or hurt) your response… 996b19e0-190f-3fc6-ba27-2691380a4ab1 DF: (Off the record, I really appreciate that Mall Rats reference). Is that a brooch made of grapes? (I do believe it is)  I think it would be pretty awesome to be like, “Hey Hitler. I fucked your mom.” And  God knows I am a motherfucker at heart but nah, she’s beat. I wouldn’t fuck her with yours.  (HA!  While I do abhor your negligence in avoiding a worldwide suicide, I do believe that my dick should not be deemed  ‘in play’ for such shenanigans… Well played).  

Find WYLDLIFE Here: BANDCAMP

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Other Artist Spotlights: Monocle Stache     Howling Giant        Whores.

The Pluto Moons: A Bowl of Mush

@KralTunes, written for @tonightatdawn

When I was younger, my sister and I would sleep over our grandparents every so often, and my grandfather would make us his specialty for dinner; roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, carrots (sometimes, but hopefully not) and gravy.  Sounds generic, but you see, it was all in the presentation.  Rather than serving us a plate where everything was sectioned off, he would mix it all in a pot and serve it in a bowl.  And we called this delicacy, MUSH, and it was glorious.

Now, why the hell am I telling you this nonsense story?  Because this was the first thought that popped into my head while listening to the new PLUTO MOONS album, E$pooky E.P..

The Ultimate Amalgamation is the best way I can describe these Brooklyn boys (other than calling them mush).  Their sound philosophy seems to be “Fuck it, put it all in!” , and the strange thing is, it works!  Opener ‘$pooky’ says it all; theres a groovy riff, synths straight out of the 80’s, and I swear I hear Tibetan Monk chants!

‘#Badgoodbye’ may turn out to be the winner of the chicken dinner.  It contains more keyboards and effects, falsettos abound, and a chorus that immediately reminded my of a Krofft show from those glorious 70’s.

‘Skyler Lewis Fulton’ has a more hip hop bent, complete with auto-tuned lyrics, until it turns into a riff-fest in the middle section before the obligatory rap verse, courtesy of Marley G to close rings out (the swerves that this track takes could cause a 50 car pile-up, but it would be a party, if nothing else).

‘Eyez’ has an earthy, Afro-Caribbean vibe working, coupled with some love-seeking lyrics:

Now I see the truth/You never know until you lose/Yeah I want to be with you.”

The music itself is the pulse that is driving this release, and this trio know their way around the world musical landscape.

“Improv 11613 Remix” may be a confusing name for a track, but this band is currently on a hot streak with me, so I shall question nothing!.  The closer has a more minimal feel, with a hint of electronic and percussion (and mandolin?) thrown in to close out a wonderful release. Although it drags down the album down just a hair (like adding carrots to my mush), but not enough to lose its win as the first big hit for my 2015 listening season (carrots be damned!!).

Check it out for yourself:

http://theplutomoons.bandcamp.com

New Years, New York

Text by K. Cecchini

Ringing in the new year naturally is bogged down with great expectations for the eve -and, not to mention, the 365 days to follow.

New Years Around New York

If you haven’t completely tired or given up on the grand spectacle of New Years in New York, then wherever you are in the area, you are likely to countdown with Ryan Seacrest (if you are older than 30, you will do this while lamenting Dick Clark’s heyday) and mark the Times Square ball drop with a champagne toast and a kiss.

As other New Years around the world are beamed into our TV sets while the globe turns, I am sure many of you have seen the Times Square extravaganza on your televisions as well. If you haven’t, here’s a quick synopsis; the freezing square is filled with thousands of revelers looking out the newest redesign of the glasses to fit the year – the ‘2015’ design was lame- while packed into gated areas like sardines and cheering when prompted. On the stages are underdressed and overproduced performers that fit two categories; the newest musical flavors or past stars whose flames are flickering.

If you are in the crowd, you have to hold your spot for hours (ignoring the call of nature) around folks that are probably swiftly becoming intoxicated -and intolerable. As the crowd disperses, leaving tons of litter for the city’s sanitation crews, you reconvene with your fellow, drunker revelers to pack in on subways and trains.

Last night, those fortunate folks donned pink top hats with lipstick kisses courtesy of CoverGirl and Cosmo.

Yet, the rest of us are not jealous.

While local college students use it as an excuse for yet another party, folks in their early twenties will often opt to buy an overpriced ticket to a bar or club that delivers a lukewarm buffet, hours of sweaty dancing and a plastic flute of champagne at midnight.

Us older New Yorkers opt for either a nice dinner out -some pre fixed and costly to mark the occasion- or get together with friends and families in someone’s living room. While, as John Oliver noted, you watch the hummus dip slowly brown on a coffee table, you are glad to have let some of the hype out of the night to hang with the people you love.

To be sure, at some point, someone will tune into a countdown (as it is 2015 and my friends are sans cable, we watched a live stream from the web) while one person hesitantly pops the sparkling wine cork. And many folks, from Rutgers University to the bars in New York to the living rooms all around the Tri-state- clank their glasses to herald in the new calendar and pucker up their lips for a kiss. After our own toast, we were treated to fireworks over Central Park from our window.

No matter where you are, here’s to a brilliant 2015 and “may she be a damn sight better than the last…”

TOO MANY ZOOZ

Youtube can be an amazing thing:  Not that long ago, Matt Doe, Leo P and Dave “King of Sludge” Parks were three subway buskers anonymously filling the underground tunnels of NYC with their blaring horns and stomping drums.

They may have been just three men playing just three instruments, yet they filled the subway with a sound that could rival a full-on jazz band.

That all changed, however, once a video was posted of the trio playing at Union Square station, and thus, pandemonium ensued. TOO MANY ZOOZ followed up the viral success with their first E.P., F NOTE, earlier this year and the trio is already back with number 2, FANIMALS.

As good as the musicianship was on their first release, the arrangements on Fanimals sound more complex and mature. This time around, the band explored different genres and broadened their sound to include Latin (“Mouse Trap”), Mambo,  House (“Turtledactyl”), Dance and Middle Eastern (“Wet”) influences.

Particularly on tracks like “Limbo” and “House of the Glass Red Pt. 2,” Too Many Zoos added more dynamics to their arrangements; they start out softer and the music builds like a wave before it crests into a fulfilling climax.  The entire release is nothing more than great fun, and these three talents know how to make an audience move to the groove; you’d almost expect to see Too Many Zoos stomping down Royal St. in New Orleans.

“House of the Glass Red” (Pts. I and II) are a House music delight, and a fitting way to cap off another stellar release.  Thankfully, there is certainly a different vibe on E.P. no. 2. than its predecessor because they could easily have leaned on the same formula.

On their first E.P., there was not much for the drummer to do other than keep time and add some nice little fills here and there, and that trend continues on the second.  Seeing his subway setup, one could understand how he must make do with the few trinkets he does possess (on a positive note, he does rock that cowbell better than Will Ferrell ever could)!

For the better, things are also slowed down a bit on these 6 tracks.  The frantic horns on “To the Top” from the first E.P. may be missed on Fanimals, the tamer tones are equally powerful and equally satisfying.

Before long, Too Many Zoos will be earning well beyond what they used to accumulate in a guitar case.

Beast Coast: The Underachievers- Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium

Text by Joe K.

When it comes to Hip-Hop, FLOW is half the battle.  You can spend 6 minutes rapping about doing the dishes, but, as Chris Rock so eloquently put it, “If the beat is right, she will dance all night”.  Fortunately, there are those artists that attempt to offer lyrics of substance rather than a diatribe of deviant sexual acts.

With that, I present to you the psychedelic hip-hop of The Underachievers on their official debut album, “Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium“.

While there’s plenty of the egotism that appears to be requisite in hip-hop (Chrysalis: “As I blow my smoke and continue my reign, Cause that royal blue blood in my veins, I’m a king”), duo AK and ISSA GOLD counterbalance the bravado with intelligent and meaningful lyrics such as,

“Elevate your mind n—- play your part, Don’t waste no time cultivated by dark”

(ironically followed up by the sage-like proclamation, “Now you all can eat dick but at least get a tip”).  Additionally, the duo  outlines their take on a model utopia in “Metropolis”, “Build a metropolis, call it Indigo Providence”.

The Underachievers spit out verses as if time is a precious commodity; there are no intros/outros or choruses to be found. Although some broader musical experimentation may have enhanced some tracks, the beats on this album are not pedestrian. The beats on “Incandescent” would fit right in on a John Carpenter film soundtrack whereas “Quiescent” and “Felicity” allow the listener to catch their breath while relaxing to denser, more melodic rhythms. On the other hand, “Amorphous”, which samples Portugal, The Man, delivers the most poppy sound on the album.

It’s apparent that someone broke out the SAT prep manual to name some of the tracks (e.g. “Sonorous”, “Chrysalis”), which is apropos, because it can feel like an exam when your trying to keep up with the break neck speed of their rhymes.  However, once you buckle down and process the commentary, it’s clear that The Underachievers provide more than just flow.