Thursday, May 31, 2012

In The Spotlight--Take One Car

Take One Car return to the Galaxy Sunday June 3rd
Photo by Jared Bowers

Hailing from Upstate New York, Take One Car is a high energy band that in many ways defies description, other than to say that they're stunningly good.  Mixing elements of Indie Rock, Post Rock, and Post Hardcore, the band absolutely blew us away on their first visit back in March, and when they asked to come back we couldn't say yes fast enough.  They were good enough not only to return to the Galaxy, but to take some time out of their busy schedule to chat with us.

The life of an unsigned band is nothing if not busy.  They probably encapsulate what almost every band deals with in a brief description of what they go through on a regular basis. "Our band is definitely not our main paying job. Some of us have full-time jobs as well. I won't get into the details of those, but we have to pay the bills when we're home. It's incredibly hard to balance being in a band with work and a personal life. I have not even come close to mastering it and I think as a consequence, a lot of the people I love get the short-end of the stick. I know in my case, I work all day, come home quickly, drive 30 minutes to practice, practice for 3 to 4 hours, drive back home, answer emails, update websites, work on new merch designs, eat...and then its 1:30 in the morning, my house is silent and dark, and I have missed out on even spending five minutes with my family. Being in a full-time band can be invasive, but requires that work to stay afloat."

All the practice and time spent working on their craft shows, both in the recorded output and in the live performance.  Getting out on the road to showcase the result of that work however is yet another challenge.  "Putting this tour together was a lot of work. It basically involved Pete and I, networking and emailing hundreds of venues for weeks. Unfortunately, only about 1% of those venues got back to us."  From there the news does get better though, as the band goes on to describe. "That is where the networking really helped. We have a lot of friends on the route we're taking this time. Many of them have really stepped up by putting shows together. That's one of the really amazing things about being in a band. When you're touring it's about so much more than just your band. It's about this silent little community that the rest of the world can't see."

Jared and I have discussed many times recently that we're today hosting the bands that will be big on the national scene tomorrow, and Take One Car is certainly one of those that we can see making that next step. Though as with most of the bands we've spent time with, their definition of "making it" is quite different from what the average music fan might perceive.  "I think our mutual goal in this group is to be a successful band. That does not mean fame or wealth, but rather us being able to continue doing this in a comfortable fashion. I often find myself calling this band my second job, and it's not because I don't love doing it. It's because in order to continue doing it, somethings have to get done, and some of those things aren't a lot of fun."

Self promotion is a necessary evil to open doors, and the ears and wallets of fans, and the group tries to thread the needle with their efforts.  "We really work hard to keep everyone up to date on everything we're doing, but try to do so in the least 'spammy' way possible. I don't want someone cramming their music down my throat, so I make sure to avoid those methods of promotion. Maybe our band won't reach as many fans, or won't wind up on some A&R rep's desk, but I didn't start this band for that reason. I am a lot happier if someone finds our band on their own. A subtle and tactful approach is the way to go."

Once on the road, the band says that, "Shows aren't what they used to be."  They think it reflects something more than just the music scene though.  "I really think it is the state of the scene in general. America is suffering on many fronts and one of them is music.  I'm not sure if over-documentation of bands on the internet spoiled the magic, if everyone went broke, or if the scene became too saturated with awful music. I do know that I've watched too many North-Eastern venues fall into ruins, heard too many bands trying to fit the "success'' formula, and watched too many great bands play to empty rooms. It’s a scary trend and I’m not sure what’s gonna’ fix it."

One thing that we think will move the scene forward is bands like this, and the attitude they bring.  You can almost feel the energy coming at you when listening to Take One Car's songs, and when asked to talk about their influences energy was a focal point of the discussion.  "What our influences are is always a hard question to answer. All of us have pretty different tastes in music. There is some overlap, but it is really tough to pinpoint a single or even several bands that have influenced our band on a whole. I often find myself mentioning bands like At The Drive-In or Bear vs Shark as an influence, but it's more about their energy. Those bands made electric music. Even their most down tempo and subtle songs, were charged. It's very easy to fall under the spell of those songs. They've  really taught me to get lost in the moment, and become whatever your song is about," they said.

They described their own songwriting process as at times "chaotic" and "frightening", but the end result is never anything short of powerful.  "Every time we start writing new material, I get really overwhelmed. A song usually begins with one of us bringing a riff or chord progression we like to practice. If everyone else digs it, we start jamming on it, and from there it either goes someplace or gets scrapped. At times I wish it was a more refined process, but I think it lends to some of the variety in our music. That little bit of chaos has kept us out of a rut so far."

You can experience the power and craftsmanship of  Take One Car Sunday, along with Oh Condor, Riley, and Cowgirl.  Showtime is 7pm, all ages, and it's just $5.00. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In The Spotlight--The Van Allen Belt

Pittsburgh's The Van Allen Belt coming to the Galaxy June 2nd
The Van Allen Belt is at once new and original, while using sounds and styles that would have fit solidly in the late 60's or early 70's.  Blending samples, effects, and harmonies into a swirling, almost cinematic sound, The Van Allen Belt is like few other bands that have come to the Galaxy.

Originally formed as a studio only project by B.K. Ferris and vocalist Tamar Kamin, the group has developed into a regularly touring live force that has played Cincinnati's Mid-Point Music Festival among other events, and often mixes incredible visual art from Ohio State's Peter Luckner into their show.  While the group's sound will certainly evoke a feeling of being fresh but still familiar, they weren't aiming for a certain style.  Ferris said that, "I'd say there are tons of homages to what I enjoy, but I was never out to directly copy a style.  And I find I can't if I try."

He has found other artists, "both audio and visual" inspirational, though his primary influence is "real life".  "In The Van Allen Belt the music is always written before the words, and then I wait for that moment when I have something to say," he told us. "I try not to force it."

The group has been performing live for nearly five years, and Kamin said that, "Our decision to work on touring The Van Allen Belt more is based on where we are as a band right now."  She adds, "performing artists need audience to support their work.  The more places you go the more people you meet. The more good relationships you make the more people will like you, as a band or otherwise."

Working, like the Galaxy, as a totally DIY venture is both a dream, and a struggle for the group.  "Having a business where we can record, produce, publish, license, and perform in the black is realistically what we're working on," says Kamin.  She began to view the band as a second full time job in 2009, "and began seeing it as a business."  Working to break old routines and maintain a positive attitude have been the biggest struggles the group, and most DIY efforts, have faced.  When asked about the group's long term goals, Ferris replied, "I'd say in a word: Europe."

All of the group members have jobs outside the group to varying degrees, from part time office work, to bassist Tom Altes' work as a surgical tech.  Topping off everything else, the group stays active in the community, working for "various charitable organizations", as well as volunteering at festivals and galleries where they can.  Kamin sums it up nicely, telling us, "We don't sleep much."  Which is clearly the ethos of any solid DIY effort.

Being on the road has many challenges, but the band seems to still love it.  "I think it's great to see new cities and to visit ones we've played before," says Kamin.  She cites having a good show and meeting new people who like what they do as the high points, and the general "grumpiness" caused by the lack of food and restrooms as particular challenges.  Ferris points to "promoters out there who are looking to make money off of the entertainment rather than the audience," as a big point of frustration.  He tries to keep his expectations of new venues neutral, "as many of my favorite shows were in the oddest places."

Like many artists we've talked with, the group is generally pleased with the state of the music industry for unsigned indie artists.  "There are great things happening everywhere now.  We're all so in tune with the internet that local scenes have far less influence on music."  He concludes by telling us that "Weird is getting a lot of mainstream attention again," which gives hope to every artist out there creating their own vibrant slice of music.

You can see The Van Allen Belt this Saturday June 2nd along with Zach Starkie from Somebody's Something, and hopefully one more group to be added this week.  Showtime is 7pm, and the event is all ages and just $5.00.  Thanks to the band for taking some time to talk with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Monday, March 26, 2012

In The Spotlight--Somebody's Something

Galaxy faves Somebody's Something
Somebody's Something, like more than a few things in this world, started off in a Starbucks.  Zach Starkie said that he and Chelsy, "met through some people we knew and talked infrequently until we happened to run into each other," at the ubiquitous coffee house.  A conversation led to the formation of the duo that has played the Galaxy numerous times over the last year.  

"I'd been writing and recording songs for a few years and wanted to play out, so I asked Chelsy if she would want to play a set of her songs and we'd put a show together.  She told me she'd rather play songs together, so we started learning my songs and a few covers," says Zach.  Unbeknownst apparently to Zach, it was a perfect fit for Chelsy.  "Here's the thing," she says, "I couldn't write a song to save my life.  In my many years of musical experience, I've written a million 30-second blips, but nothing substantial.  When Zach came along and I realized he writes his own stuff, I was pretty excited about the prospect of being in a band with him."  

While Chelsy has her million short blips, anyone who knows Zach is aware that he has probably as many notebooks, filled with songs he's written over the years.  "When I write a song, it's generally a sort of organic process where lyrics and music happen a the same time, at least the bones of it.  I'll have a progression I like and I might just start singing nonsense, or maybe something coherent and I just let it grow from there.  Lyrics are important, and the music should be a reflection of them.  Even though I would love them to have a popular appeal, in the end they're just stories about me most of the time.  The good ones are anyway."  

Those initial structures serve as the framework for the final songs, which are definitely a collaborative effort.  "The songs were skeletons before, and Chelsy brings a lot of ideas to flesh them out.  They may have had harmonies, but she's really good at finding harmonies that sound natural for her voice.  On "The Distance Never Decreased," I played the chorus for her one time and she had come up with a part to sing with it.  The same thing happens with bass parts and the drum machine.  She's a talented musician who can hear what she wants and then either play it or sing it.  It makes the rehearsal time pretty easy, and it's rare that her ideas don't fit with a particular song."

Zach is right to point out that Chelsy is talented.  She pointed out that, "Another interesting effect that our band has had on my life is that I am now considered a "bassist". That's funny to me because I've played acoustic guitar and drums for 13 years.  Throughout those years, I sporadically picked up a bass guitar here and there, but never learned anything challenging or technically demanding.  Being in this band has greatly improved my bass-playing abilities, for which I'm grateful."

Chelsy cites Regina Spektor, Florence & The Machine, and The XX among her influences, which for what it's worth scores major points with me as I love all three of them!  Zach is clearly a child of the 90's, and follows in a long line of pop songwriters.  "My biggest influences are Elvis Costello and the Smashing Pumpkins.  I take a lot of lyrical inspiration from Elvis, he's got some clever lines that surprise me when I listen, and some playful rhyme schemes that I like.  I dig his straightforward aesthetic as well, especially in the 70s, but I also like how he's not afraid just to let a song be the song it should be.  He's hard to categorize," he says.

"Similarly", he continued, "the Pumpkins do similar things.  Billy Corgan knows how to write a song that appeals to people but seems to carry some real meaning, and I admire that.  It's great that the pumpkins have songs that are all over the map, but they're all connected.  The 90s in general had that.  So many people were writing music that was non-genre specific, so they just called it alternative or modern rock or whatever.  The same thing is going on with indie rock, but some bands kind of corner themselves with a genre, so you can tell the music is all by the same band, but just because it all sounds the same, not because it's all joined by some intangible connective musical tissue.  Sometimes the songs I write are punkish, sometimes they're grungy, sometimes they're folky," he concludes.

Anyone who has seen them can hear those different influences, though the band clearly has a vibe of their own.  They're not imitating their inspiration, they're crafting really great pop songs of their own from the space those pioneering artists help create.  The sets are varied, and include inspired and well done covers that showcase the duo's sound while fitting well within the context of their own writing.  If you didn't know the song you'd easily attribute it to them, a testament to their ability to not only craft songs worthy of being played along side those covers, but to work them seamlessly into the flow of their shows.  

As for their larger goals as a group, Zach says that, "the music thing is mostly based on having fun, but I also don't want to keep my creative output a secret.  The teacher in me would love it if someone were "helped" by one of our songs, like it cheered them up, or pumped them up, or made them not feel so alone or whatever.  I read once about a kid who didn't kill himself because "Everybody Hurts" came on his walkman on his way home from school.  I don't know that I want suicidal fans, but I'd like to think that something I felt and wrote about helped someone else through something similar."

You can catch up with them on facebook, where they're working to cross the 100 "like" threshold in conjunction with a demo they've been working on.  "This demo that's going to be unleashed is a 4 song (maybe 5, fandom depending) collection that we've been working on this year.  We're planning on selling physical copies, but making them special somehow.  We'd like them to come with a button and some sort of agreement that if you buy the demo you're privy to some secret stuff or a discount on the album it leads to.  If you get in at the ground floor, then you get a privilege of some sort.  I'd love to have "special" physical releases in the future like vinyl, but that's a way off.  We recorded in my apartment, despite neighbors who apparently like to go to sleep at 7 pm.  We're pretty amazed at how well it's turned out, considering how little we both know about recording/mixing/mastering."

You can next see Somebody's Something at Galaxy CDS as part of our Record Store Day evening bash on April 21st.  Once you've cleaned out the bins of collectible goodies at area independent record stores, spend your night with us.  We'll be featuring Auto Defiance, the student artists from Options Academy, and art by Christy Conrad.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In The Spotlight--The Rebuilt Machine

The Rebuilt Machine will rock the Galaxy March 24th
The guys in The Rebuilt Machine are an eclectic bunch, in a number of ways.  Musically they cite individual inspirations ranging from We Came As Romans, to Incubus, and Atmosphere.  In the working-to-pay-the-bills world they run the gamut from smoothie maker to government contractor.  But when you mix all this disparate stuff together, you get a cohesive high energy band that knows where they want to go.  "Our core goals are simple.  We want to connect with each other and with fans on an intimate level, and we want to maintain a level of professionalism that will set us apart.  We do this by making sure that our performance and personality at every show are unforgettable.  We aim to make friends everywhere we go," they told us.  

All of the members we spoke with were clear that they'd pursue music full time if it were possible. Nick, the bassist and smoothie shop assistant manager, said that while he appreciates his boss being supportive of his music career, "I wouldn’t say there’s a balance at all.  One is a job, the other is my passion.  If one had to go, I would have no problem picking."  Chase, the keyboard player is a retail inventory specialist, and agrees, saying, "That’s my primary source of income, and balancing that with the band takes a lot of planning and forethought.  It can be hard at times.  My dedication and passion towards the band is what keeps me balanced."  Sam plays guitar and is a lot manager at a Chevy dealer in the 'real world', "doing oil changes and tire rotations and that kind of thing.  I want this band and this lifestyle more than anything else, and my dedication to this artform is what keeps me going."  Government contractor and vocalist Josh says plainly that,  "I see my job now as a means to an end--it pays the bills so I can focus my real passion and creativity on the band."

The current tour with Galaxy repeat offender My Name Is Drew started to take shape after a joint show in January.  "We’ve always talked about touring together.  Zach (from MNID) is a logistics mastermind, and he took the lead in booking the shows.  Lately, the shows have been coming in left and right.  We’ve been using our connections and friendships to get shows, and it’s been much easier than it used to be now that we’ve proven that we can do the work.  We can sell the tickets, we can engage the crowd, and people are starting to notice."  That ability to engage a crowd has served the band well when things have not gone according to plan. 

"We had a house show here in Virginia when MNID was in town last.  It was totally free, and we invited a few of our close friends and fans as a way of saying thanks for all the support we’ve received. One of our favorite local bands, First & Main, played the show with us.  About an hour before our set, our drummer at the time called us to say that his car broke down and he wasn’t coming.  Nick, our bassist, had to learn the drums in a flash!  We’d never played with that lineup and we were missing a lot of gear, so we were sloppy and uncoordinated to say the least.  Still, we sold the performance with our energy and connection with the fans.  The place was packed, everyone was screaming along, and we all had a blast.  That was probably one of the most rewarding shows we’ve ever played, and it had nothing to do with how well (or horribly) we played our instruments."  We're still hoping the whole band shows up for the Galaxy show!

The band mixes their individual influences with some style setting artists that have led the way over the years when writing, and have been lucky enough to get to play recently with one of them.  "All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, The Used, UnderOath, Hawthorne Heights, and all those other timeless bands that defined the genre when we were in high school.  To be a good writer you have to be a good listener.  We take what we love about the stuff we all listen to and try to put our own spin on it—the energy, the emotional connection, the relevance of the music.  The Rebuilt Machine is one of those bands we want you to be able to scream along with in the car.  We actually had the chance to play with Hawthorne Heights in Richmond at The Kingdom this February.  It was an unforgettable show, packed with energy and passion—a dream come true!"

The band says that even out of town shows can "feel like a hometown show if you go into it with a positive attitude."  Give the guys a Hamilton hometown welcome on March 24th, along with Role Models, My Name Is Drew, Wringer, & Memorials, on a show brought to you by our partners at Wings On Brookwood!  Thanks to the guys for chatting with us, and we'll see you at the show!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In The Spotlight--Legend Has It

Legend Has It will rock the Galaxy March 21st
Travelling all the way to our lovely city from Bangor, Maine as part of a spring tour will be pop punk masters Legend Has It.  The tour was set up with their good friends and compatriots in Too Late The Hero, and hits a blistering nine cities in ten days.  Coming together because the groups wanted to "tour together and hang out", the band was able to set up this trek smoothly.  "Shows have been pretty easy to get, a few bumps along the way, but it always comes together, we have a lot of really helpful and awesome friends that help us get things pulled together," said bassist Matt Humphrey.

Visiting a new town is always an unknown adventure, but sometimes leads to memorable nights.  The guys hope for what most bands would desire.  Matt says, "Basically what any band wants when they go to a new city is a well promoted show. Its nice to see flyers hanging up in local stores and stuff, lets you know the promoter cares about you at least a little bit.  One of my favorites was showing up to this shack in Melbourne, Florida, called Jaycee's. We had no idea what to expect, we played 2nd to last I think and throughout the whole show most kids seemed to stay outside, so we thought no one would care when we played, but everyone came in and it was one of the best and most sweatiest times of my life."

The band has a strong home base, where they stay very active, playing a lot of mixed genre shows, as well as community based events.  "Our hometown is rad, they have really been a strong support system for us as a band. They give every band a chance that comes to play," he says. "As a band we have played community events such as a fest called "Skate Against Drugs" It's a skate competition with a bunch of awesome bands playing, tons of kids go. Things like that help keep kids busy and away from doing stupid things."  Despite being that active, and touring, the band still hold down real jobs as well. "We all work jobs while we are at home, music isn't paying many people's bills these days, we do it because its fun and we love it."

While falling loosely under the pop punk heading, the group is hesitant to nail down a label for themselves and their sound.  The members cite diverse influences that work their way into the music. "Each one of us takes from different influences, Jay would tell you his main influence as a drummer are the Deftones, Ryan's favorite bands are prog metal bands like Meshuggah, Anthony loves R&B which I know nothing about but I know he likes Marvin Gaye haha, and my influences come from hardcore bands like No Warning. Basically we aim for playing aggressive and groovy riffs in a positive tonality with a lot of pop punk influence, we try not to limit ourselves."

Staying focused and getting their name out are the primary goals of the band at the moment.  "The more we do this the more we learn, I think setting realistic goals works," Matt concludes.  You should set the goal of seeing the band as they bring the noise along with Too Late The Hero, The Monument, and Vice Versa on a killer Galaxy lineup on March 21st.  As always, thanks to the guys for taking some time to chat with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Friday, March 2, 2012

In The Spotlight--The Kemps

The Kemps bring this rock action to the Galaxy on 3/18

The Kemps, a garage pop band from Fountain Square, Indianapolis will be bringing their trio to the Galaxy as part of a fantastic line-up on March 18th.  Featuring Jared Birden on vocals/guitar, Tyler Bowman on bass/vocals, and Geoff Albertson on drums, the group is focused squarely on getting their name out to the public.  "Jared and I made a decision to switch the line-up to a three-piece, so in a sense we’ve kinda had to rebuild “The Kemps”. All new songs, new gear, etc.  The original lineup restricted us from ever being able to tour longer than a week or two. Other than a few trips northwest and south and a few shows in surrounding states, we’ve never been able to reach as many peeps as we’d like to," says Tyler.

That work begins at home, where they are focused on bringing attention not to just themselves but the Indianapolis area as a whole.  "We work pretty close with our label, GloryHole Records, in efforts to bring attention to Indy, primarily Fountain Square. There’s hot shit going down, we want the whole world to know!"  They indicate that the scene has advanced in tandem with the city.  "Indianapolis has really grown in the last ten years and the music scene along with it. VACATION CLUB, Learner Dancer, Marmoset are just a few great Fountain Square bands on GloryHole records. Our neighborhood also puts on a annual music/art festival called Cataracts in which we turn a bunch of houses on our street into venues for a day."

Check em!

The band told us they, "really just wanna make badass pop songs," and they draw on a wildly diverse range of musical influences to do so, while also using their surroundings for inspiration.  "The Bay City Rollers, Danzig and The Easybeats are a few major influences.  We take in a lot of influence from our surroundings. We are fortunate to live in close contact with some of our favorite local musicians and that has really helped us learn from our peers and find ourselves.  Jared usually has an idea, whether it is a riff, lyrics, etc. The three of us will sit down and write it out. No crazy technique-type approach, we just write parts that make us smile."

The guys also share a job in common, telling us "All three members deliver subs on our bikes in downtown Indianapolis to support our financial needs."  The Kemps will be delivering their delicious brand of rock to the Galaxy along with Take One Car, Army Coach, Frontier Folk Nebraska, and Sam Banta and the Fantastics in what promises to be one killer show.  Thanks to the guys for taking some time out from delivering subs to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In The Spotlight--Survay Says!

If you want to know how to do it right in the DIY music scene you should probably call Blairstown, New Jersey's Survay Says!  This seven piece ska outfit has, without representation, hit the scene with a vengeance.  They played over 100 shows in 2011 alone, and when they bring their act to the Galaxy on March 13th it will be as part of their first Mid-West tour, a trek that will visit eight states over its 16 shows.  They've also managed to play shows with the likes of legendary acts such as Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and Bowling For Soup, all of whom they cite as influences, to name just a few.  That's an impressive list of accomplishments by any measure.

The band told us that, "This tour came out of where every one of our other tours came from; our love of being together, playing our music, pleasing crowds and just maybe, moving up in this crazy music world."  Being the first trip to the area was not without it's challenges though.  "It was a little tough finding shows because we didn't really know anyone.  It's completely new territory for us and we plan to keep returning as much as possible," they said, highlighting the work ethic that has served them so well.  

While a month on the road sounds like a blast on paper, it isn't always quite so much fun.  "Every tour has good shows and every tour has a few busts. Sometimes you get to open for your heroes (Reel Big Fish, Big D, etc.) and sometimes you have to sleep in a parking lot or a rest stop on a bench off of the highway."  They also talked about the struggles back home when touring is a big part of your life.  "We each have our own ways of supporting the band and ourselves. A few of us still take classes, a few of us are able keep a job despite all of the touring we do. The balance of band vs. everything else is an everyday struggle. It gets a little easier as the band gets more successful. It's hard to explain to your parents that touring in a ska band is your priority, especially when they learn it doesn't come with decent health benefits!"

Check em out while your reading punks!
Then, when you finally get to your destination, you have another whole level of worries.  "I always hope when we come somewhere new to be greeted kindly and to not write us off the second we arrive.  We realize even within our own ska & punk world we are different. We always treat everyone we meet with respect and kindness and we hope for the same thing in return.  Every scene operates differently and changes constantly. Our home markets change almost semi-annually and we always try to appear in areas further away from home enough to make as big of an impact as any local band would. We've been lucky enough to be accepted in these circles more often than not," they said.

All of this work and effort will hopefully lead the band to the promised land, or at least today's facsimile of a promised land.  "In the short term, our goals are to keep plugging along and survive while trying to be everywhere and anywhere we can. More long term goals include hopefully one day being able to support a tour with a more established band. The pipe dream is to live off of this band one day, be able to attain stability through the band. We're a rag tag bunch who don't come from a lot and were lucky enough to find something we love and are decent at."

The band brings their high energy pop punk influenced ska to the Galaxy as part of a great night of music that will also feature Atomic Potato, Misunderstood, & Ice Cream Socialist Party.  Be sure to give em a listen, and then come to the party on March 13th at 7pm.  It's an all ages $5.00 night of good times.  Thanks to the band for taking some time to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

In The Spotlight--Duke Of Owls

Dayton's Duke Of Owls join us March 12th
A revolving door of band members, an all too common theme among bands we've talked to, ultimately led to the final lineup, and formation of Dayton based Duke of Owls "We are everybody who was left after a couple of our bandmates left for college, and rather than try to replace them we decided to change the name and make ourselves an entirely new band," they tell us.  All those previous efforts provided the group with a solid foundation to the new effort.  "The four of us are best friends and we've been playing together for a few years under different bands, so we're pretty comfortable with each other musically so our songs form somewhat organically."

The group describes themselves as "pretty fresh on the live scene," having played their first show in late December at W.O. Wrights in Fairborn, a Dayton suburb.  But even as a 'new' band, their music has quickly been recognized, as they've been played on WYSO, the Dayton NPR station.  They also told us, "We currently hold the February residency at Southpark Tavern in Dayton. We also do occasional acoustic acts at Adobe Gilas at the Greene in Beavercreek."  They are working hard toward a goal of being "able to quit our day jobs and make a living wage playing our music."

Part of that quest will clearly be moving on from the safe confines of the home Dayton market.  "We're going to keep working to build followings within the cities around us, expanding whenever we have the opportunity, being accessible to fans, and putting on awesome shows!"  Getting doors to open in those surrounding markets however can be a big challenge.  "We would love to book in the Cincinnati and Columbus areas as well, but our list of contacts and connections with artists and venue owners in those areas is still pretty short, so getting bookings is difficult."

Bridging the gap between Cincinnati and Dayton, something we at the Galaxy are intently focused on, is a task the band says is daunting.  "Even though Cincinnati and Dayton aren't very far, it can be an ocean for an emerging artist. When an act is starting out their audience is limited to friends and family, and because of that it is difficult for a Dayton band to go south and for Cincy bands to come north due to venue owners being either reluctant to book or ineffective at promoting within their area."  You can add to that the general difficulty in getting crowds out to any show, though they think it's slightly harder in Dayton.  "Both Cincinnati and Columbus have some great music and arts communities that seem a lot more involved than those in Dayton, which may stem from the universities. Dayton has two large colleges (Wright State and UD), yet for some reason inspires NO 'college town' atmosphere. So even if your band is good and the venue is cool, it can still be difficult to get people out in Dayton."

Successful promoting requires a team effort with both the bands and the venues working hard.  "Obviously you can't place the responsibility of promotion squarely on the shoulders of venue owners, but there's only so much an artist can do to promote in an unfamiliar area where they are still trying to build a following and network. By booking smart, relevant EVENTS rather than just 'shows' that include all artists from the state and surrounding area, I think we can make a great local music circuit."  The band primarily uses the internet for their efforts, saying, "Most of the 'old fashioned' ways are pretty much dead, and they don't seem to be missed very much. Cities and communities tend to be pretty prickly about flyering on public property, and business owners are only more so."

The band's unusual name comes from multiple inspirations, including tragedy.  The group explains, "Our name is somewhat derived from the animated movie 'Rock-a-doodle', which is about a rooster at odds with his enemy, the Grand Duke of Owls. The Grand Duke of Owls apparently 'loathes' rock n' roll. We loved the irony and that's what gave birth to the idea. The reason I say 'somewhat derived' is because we did not immediately decide upon the name. While we were recording our demo during the summer we were still nameless. During the tracking of the CD the studio intern of where we were recording went missing, and was found dead a couple days later in the river. It was a very shocking experience for us, as we had begun to get to know him and had been hanging out and talking with him throughout our time at the studio. His death, and seeing the pain of everybody in the community who knew him, was very profound and saddening. He had liked our music, and the name "Duke of Owls" when we'd told him we were considering it. He had also gone missing (and was subsequently found) wearing a t-shirt imprinted with an owl, and that eerie coincidence ended the discussion for us. Rest in peace Cody Pressler."

Duke of Owls joins The Albrights, Place Position, and Mad Anthony on what promises to be an outstanding show on March 12th.  This show like most of our events is an all ages, five bucks at the door music extravaganza.  Thanks to the band for talking with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Friday, February 17, 2012

In the Spotlight--Ice Cream Socialist Party

Ice Cream Socialist Party joins our Punk/Ska Night March 13th!

Naming your band is a daunting task.  It's your chance to, without playing a note, give an indication of what you're like.  Ice Cream Socialist Party was not always called that, and realized their first stab at a name was a potential issue for them.  "We originally were called Beer Rotation, but we decided we kind of hated the name, and also didn't want people to think of us as a 'drinking band.'  We like beer as much as the next guy, but we didn't want that to define us a band," says Doug, the vocalist, guitar player, and primary songwriter of the group.  Joining him in this punk trio are Jared on bass, and drummer Ratt.  "I think that I ended up coming up with Ice Cream Socialist Party, although Jared might have helped out.  Jared and I thought it was an awesome name, Ratt not so much, although I think he has come around to like it a little more.  We think the name is more clever than it actually is, and some people don't understand it.  The way I describe it to people is this:  If you have a lot of ice cream, and your friend doesn't have any, I want to take some of your ice cream and share it with him. Redistribute the wealth of ice cream!"  Hopefully my conservative readers aren't flipping out right now.

The group formed simply with the idea of playing out, and having some fun, with no aspirations of hitting the proverbial big time.  Doug says that, "I played in bands in high school, but never really did much with it outside of playing a few basement shows.  I continued to write songs throughout college and after I graduated, was recording them myself and sharing them with my friends.  I felt somewhat limited in what I could do, so I decided to see if I could start a band. I put up an ad on Craig's List and met Jared.  We hit it off, and seemed to be at a similar place in that we both have full time jobs and wanted to get back into playing in a band for fun."  After auditioning multiple drummers, the two met "Ratt, who we got along with and seemed to have the same taste in music, and that's how we became a band."

As has been the case with many of the bands we've talked with, these guys are relative newcomers to the scene, having just formed in July 2011.  "We've only actually played 2 shows, one in Cincy, and one in Lima, OH, which was actually our first show.  Ratt is originally from Lima and hooked us up with a show with Flamingo Nosebleed, and the Bricktops.  It was a blast, and people seemed to really like us.  I think it helped that we played with bands that were sonically similar to us." In addition to their show here on March 13th, they have an upcoming show in Lexington KY in May, and are "always looking for more shows in the Cincy area."

Being that new to the area scene, the band is fighting to make the right connections.  Part of the mission of the Galaxy is to help bands with that networking.  Doug said, " I even had someone tell me at one of our shows that there aren't a lot bands like us around anymore.  Maybe its just because we are new and not familiar with the scene.  That said, there are some great local pop punk bands in Cincinnati.  If those bands read this, contact us because we want to play with you!"  

The other issue the band has already seen is one we're all too familiar with, a general lack of awareness of what is actually available to be heard in the area.  "One thing I wish was more prevalent in Cincinnati is to have more people be willing to support local bands that play original music.  A lot of people will go see live bands, but they only want to see cover bands.  I will admit that I am somewhat guilty of this as well, but it sucks when none of your friends want to go see a band, and you have to go by yourself.  I think there are a lot of great local bands of all genres playing original music, and I think people would really like a lot of them if they gave them a chance.  If you don't support original music, you can't complain about the garbage on the radio."

But while the local scene seems to be indifferent, once again the internet has allowed a band to extend its reach nationwide.  "I think its easier than ever to be in a band. I mean, our band was formed by meeting these guys online.   I think Facebook has been our most effective way to connect with people.  I just sent one of our demo CDs to a guy in Arizona who found out about us on Facebook somehow. That's crazy to me."   It also helps them find places to play.  "I heard about you guys from Facebook.  I honestly can't remember who it was, but someone shared a post you had and I went to check it out and learned all about you.  I haven't really heard much about you guys, but I think its awesome that there is an all ages venue.  I know when I was younger, I would get upset when bands played shows that were 21+, so I think its great that there is an option for kids who want to go see shows who are not of age."  

As for the band's songs, they range from the deeply personal, to nerdcore at it's finest.  "Our song '57 Chevrolet' is about my dad passing away when I was 5 years old, and not really dealing with it until about 20 years later.  As I was writing the song, I had to deal with all these emotions that I just kind of suppressed for so long.  It was a very therapeutic process, and as a result, I think it is one of our best songs.  We also have a song about Admiral Ackbar called 'It's A Trap!' and a song about Lord of the Rings called 'Just Tea, Thank You', so sometimes we just write about nerd stuff.  Write what you know, I guess."  

Like many songwriters, Doug has "notebooks filled with terrible songs I wrote throughout high school and college, and I could probably go through them and pinpoint exactly what was going on in my life at that time.  Most of the time for me, the goal of a song is to deal with a situation or to express my emotions.  Songwriting is how I deal with life.  I'ts a way to vent frustrations, to express happiness or sadness, or even just to tell a story.  If I wasn't in a band, I would still be writing these songs and recording them in my bedroom."

You can catch Ice Cream Socialist Party along with Misunderstood, Atomic Potato, and Survay Says! on March 13th at 7pm.  The show is as always all ages, and a punk rock like five bucks.  Thanks to Doug for taking the time to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In The Spotlight--Misunderstood

Misunderstood joins our great Punk & Ska Night 3/13
Being punk ain't easy.  Being punk and a girl is even harder.  And being punk, and a girl, and in your teens, is probably more than most people could handle.  Misunderstood's Lyn-Z Riot has seen it all, from bandmates that wouldn't stick around, to being heckled while playing the local bar.  And she, and the band, have persevered through it all and are now starting to hit their groove.  

"Misunderstood was put together when I was 15 because I loved Joan Jett, and I loved what she did, and wanted to start my own band. She made me believe that since I felt different I could be different, and play punk rock music," she says.  Starting the band was just the beginning of the challenges.  "I have had a good amount other members in the band these past 5 years. I just never could find anyone who would want to stick around," Lyn-Z says.  Though over the past year, finally, that has settled down.  "Brandi has been in the band for almost year now and Drew has been in the band since June. They are definitely the best band mates I have had in the band."

Disinterested crowds, lousy venues, and loudmouthed haters have all had to be overcome.  "Bar shows are usually the worst, just something about 2 of us out of the 3 being girls makes guys want to yell at us and tell us we stink at what we do.  There are different kinds of punk blooming out, hardcore, pop punk, punk rock. Its definitely interesting in playing with other punk bands, because usually their fans hate us because we are not like the band they came to see."  Sorting through all of that however has uncovered some great places to play.  In addition to stalwarts like Indianapolis Melody Inn and McGuffy's in Dayton, the band points to a place called Club Soda in London Ohio.  "The feeling of walking into a venue and feeling like you're not being used to just make the venue money, that you're actually a musician and that they want to help you out is amazing. Club Soda has respect for the musicians that walk in there and play their stage," she says.

Over the years the band has been able to find more and more places to play, last year gigging 47 times.  This year should prove even bigger.  "We have played 8 shows so far in 2012. We have almost 30 more booked and working on confirming more," which includes a pair of shows here at the Galaxy coming up.  It all started with a show at The Sorg Opera House in Middletown, before moving on to places like The Outlet in Richmond, and open mic nights around the area.  "Then I got asked to play a place in Cincinnati called The Blue Rock Tavern when I was 16. I started playing The Blue Rock about every other month and it started to feel like everybody enjoyed what we were doing because we were playing with Punk bands," she says.  The highlight so far was playing Bogart's.  "That was a really cool experience especially since my 4th concert I ever went to was there, and it was Joan Jett. Being able to be on the same stage as Joan Jett is a dream come true."

Rock this!

That Joan Jett influence is certainly heard in the band's work.  "My influences when I write are usually Joan Jett, Brody Dalle and Hunter Valentine. I do think me being a huge Joan Jett and Brody Dalle fan that it does come out during live shows and in the songs. I don't try to copy them, but they are a big help in how I write and how I present myself on stage." The writing is a collaborative effort though.  "When we write a new song we usually write it all together in my garage in Richmond Indiana. We just start jamming and I start to write a guitar riff and it goes from there. The past two new songs that will be on Misunderstood's new cd "The Right Words Can Break A Heart" were written that way. Stupid Love Song was written by the drummer and me just jamming one day and we both started playing and it became a song."

In addition to holding the band together and playing shows to crowds of sometimes mixed enthusiasm, Riot also started her own label, "Riot Love Records".  "Misunderstood is the only band on label right now.  I started it because I thought it would be easier to put out Misunderstood's albums and info on my own label then trying to get signed to someone else. With the label we don't have to worry about other people telling us what to do, we can do what we want."  She is open to other artists joining the label as well, saying, "I'm up for anybody hitting me up though if they are interested in being on the label. I can't promise a lot right now just because the label is just starting up, but I can definitely help get shows and help get bands in a studio."

When it's all said and done, the label, the changing cast of band members, the occasional crowds that just don't get it, everything works out for the best when they play a great show.  "We love playing all age shows though, it's so fun to play in front of kids, it makes you feel like you're doing something right when they come up to you and say that you're awesome." And playing live is much more rewarding than even making a great recording.  "It's so much fun to have someone to react back to you. Especially when someone digs your music and you can tell, its one of the greatest feelings. It definitely makes me play better when I know there is at least one person rocking out to us in the crowd," she says.

You and your friends can make it more than just one person rocking out in the crowd by joining us for this great lineup on March 13th.  Joining Misunderstood will be Survay Says! Atomic Potato, & Ice Cream Socialist Party.  This show is all ages, kicks of at 7pm, and is just 5 bucks.  Come hang!  Thanks to Lyn-Z for taking the time to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!

Monday, February 13, 2012

In The Spotlight--The Albrights

Buffalo's The Albrights hit the Galaxy March 12th
Some bands are content to come up with a formula, a sound, and allow it to become their prison, always writing to that format.  Just two tracks into The Albrights samples it becomes clear that these guys break that mold with a vengeance.  "Good Woman" sounds like something you'd find on a Black Keys record, then "Strike Out" comes out swinging with strings and an almost progressive feel, sounding nothing like what you just heard, while still being fantastic.  You'd almost think it was two different bands.  All of this variety comes from their appreciation of all types of music, and the divergent styles of the two primary songwriters.  And it also made it a challenge when putting the finishing touches on the lineup.

"Joe and Brandon had started playing together in school years ago. Mostly classic rock covers. I met up with them about 5 years ago and starting carrying some equipment for them at shows and eventually became the bass player," says Matt.  "We decided to make a record shortly after and did a 5 song ep with electronic drums. We used it to shop drummers and work our sound really."  The first drummer they met helped them record their album "Ask, Tell", but wasn't the long term answer.  "He had a great job as a teacher at the time, so we knew at some point we'd need to find a permanent player and someone who could tour the album with us."

He continued, "We played some gigs with a couple of different players and we had a lot of trouble finding the right fit. The contrasting writing styles of Joe and Brandon make it tough for someone to fit them both comfortably. Enter Dustin. This guy shows up, we make some small talk while setting up his drums. We played, and he killed it...he really worked hard before coming to an audition and it showed. He quietly left and we've been playing together since."  While the writing varies, there is a concerted effort to keep the sound simple.  "Stylistically our sound was developed from not trying to sound like anything or anybody. I mean, Brandon doesn't use a crazy pedal board and neither do. There's a organ/piano and drums. No vocal effects.., it's just raw and real."

Give 'em a listen

The band tells us the arts and music scene in their hometown of Buffalo, NY, is strong, and growing.  "New exploratory venues are opening up everywhere and there has been a surge of talent moving to our small city from larger markets. With many of our clubs offering culturally diverse live music 7 days a week, and a really affordable cost of living, Buffalo, NY seems like a no-brainer for musicians and artists alike. The best part? Those "larger" markets are only a few hours away in either direction. New York, NY, Toronto, CA  Pittsburgh, Cleveland etc."

Using all of the standard tools of promotion, and some novel ones as well, has worked well for the group.  "We drove around Buffalo in the back of a truck playing acoustic instruments and shouting all through the city. We had our name on the truck and promoted at every stop light. Oh and the truck belonged to Buffalo Car Share, an organization committed to helping cut down on carbon emissions by encouraging carpooling and alternative modes of transportation.  They shared the experience through their social networking sites as did we (we reached a whole new audience by doing that)." They also told us, "We do also use Facebook, Youtube, Reverbnation, Sonicbids, Twitter, all the major social networking tools.  We can link up with anyone and everyone at any time. We LOVE social media for sure, in today's world, over promotion doesn't exist."
In the end, like many of the groups we've talked with, they just love to play music.  "We're obsessed with music. More so, live music in particular. Success in this industry being able to travel around and just do it. Play good shows, have fun and make new fans and friends . We're musicians that can really play, so we just wanted to make a record that sounds like us. We've had a tremendous amount of feedback on our sound, philosophy and our energy onstage and off. As far as Celebrity vs. Substance, we believe that if we're honest with ourselves and keep making honest records, we'll be able to keep working. People seem to really respect that, especially lately."

You can check out their sonic diversity for yourself on our great March 12th show.  Thanks to the band for talking with us, and we'll see you at the show!


Friday, February 10, 2012

In The Spotlight--Place Position

Watch Place Position in action.

Sometimes when dealing with all the bands we hear from I can't help but feeling like a parent.  I try to love all my bands equally, but sometimes, well, one of them is just more special to you than the others.  The first time I heard Place Position's "Two Years More"  I knew right away this one was very, very special indeed.  Those of you who have followed me for years on Facebook know that every now and then I'll comment on a band that has just grabbed me by the throat and not let go, and that for me finding something like that is better than hitting the lottery.  That's what these guys achieved.  The raw energy captured in their recordings is quite frankly hard to believe.  Their show with us on March 12th cannot get here fast enough.

Place Position began originally as a two piece, with Josh on guitar and Jesse on drums.  Formed in in April 2011, the band told us, "We did our first show in very early May and only had four songs. We ad libbed a Forget Cassettes cover to fill time. That's probably our most memorable show to date simply because we weren't sure if the songs we'd written would work live. Luckily people seemed into it and we kept going."  After much discussion they recently added Chip Heck on bass to round out their sound, and his first show with the band will be March 10th.

The band says "Obviously we are very influenced by Fugazi and everything involved with Dischord records." The two original members have been playing together in one form or another for over a dozen years. "As a result our Nirvana and Radiohead roots come to the surface I'm sure. Dave Grohl had a major effect on my early development as a drummer," Jesse adds.  All that time playing together has helped their songwriting process find it's own rhythm.  "Usually either Josh will have a riff in mind and we'll work on it or we'll just record us fucking around and then pick out the cool parts. 100% of Q/A Disco was written this way."  And the energy captured on their recordings was by design as well. "As far as the rawness that's something that we had both agreed we wanted. I kept referencing The Most Secret Methods first album for a sound touchstone. Its called Get Lovely. You should check it out if you haven't," says Jesse.

Promoting a band, and shows, successfully is the proverbial holy grail of the music industry, and Place Position approaches it from several directions.  For starters, the band is part of the loosely defined Loft Collective, a group of like minded bands and friends working out of the Middletown area. Jesse gave us the brief history of the group, saying, "The Loft Collective basically started as a bunch of friends just out of High School who wanted to work together to make something bigger. In our case we all played music so we basically started our version of a record label. There were about 5 or 6 bands to start and over the years people came and left and came again. Its basically whoever wants to be involved can chip in. We've definitely met some cool people through it."

 Listen to this right now!

Additionally the band of course uses bandcamp, and the ubiquitous Facebook, though neither Josh nor Jesse are personally big fans.  "I created a Facebook account to promote. That's basically my only reason for having one." says Jesse. "Josh refuses to have one. We're weird guys. Its worked well for us so far."   Strong music, and performances, inevitably build a word of mouth buzz, and if that doesn't materialize the band seems to be quite happy just being able to make music. "We just like playing. If people like it that's amazing. If they don't we'll still do shows in my basement for my wife and dog."

Although their roots are primarily in the Middletown and Dayton area, the band tells us they, "don't think we associate with a scene though. The Ohio scene has some GREAT bands (Toads And Mice, Hyrrokkin, Kuan, Grenades!?, etc) but I think the crowds are apathetic for what ever reason. Music has become so commercial (I hate using that word.) that lots of the people who were into the scene 10 years ago have given up and stopped paying attention which is a shame."  We agree, everywhere we look we uncover amazing bands, like this one, but the public at large is so beaten down by having to listen to Nickelback and Justin Bieber all day it sometimes seems like they've just given up.  But they conclude that in the end, that's really ok.  "I have to say any time is a good time to be in a band - you're (hopefully) doing it because you love it. People paying attention is just frosting on the cake."

We are most definitely paying attention, and hope you will too for this great show.  Place Position joins The Albrights, Mad Anthony, and Duke of Owls for what promises to be a fantastic night of rock on March 12th.  Showtime is 7pm, All Ages welcome, and just FIVE low dollars!  Thanks to Place Position for making time for us, and we'll see you at the show!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In The Spotlight--Emily And The Complexes

Emily & The Complexes play the Galaxy Feb 27th
Joining a great lineup on February 27th will be Columbus based Emily And The Complexes.  The band has only officially been playing together since November of 2011, and are using Tyler Verhagen's solo material as the base from which they work.  But Verhagen, bassist Jordan Finke, and drummer Tom Konitzer had a history which has allowed them to create a coherent sound in the short time they've been together.  Verhagen and Finke played together all through high school in a punk band, and through those shows got to know Konitzer.  The all-too-usual post high school break-up of the band occurred, and Verhagen spent the next couple of years touring with his solo material, before landing in Columbus and recruiting the other two to form the current lineup.

Konitzer tells us that "We kind of adapted our sound from the indie folk style that Tyler was playing as a solo act into something a bit louder and heavier. We definitely added some elements of punk and garage, so now I guess we kind of have a combination of those three."  The three members cite diverse influences in their approach to music.  Weezer and Margot & the Nuclear So and So's are bands that Verhagen draws on, while former punk drummer Konitzer points to pop punkers Valencia and Canoes.  On the other end of the spectrum, Finke "listens to a lot of chill wave so there's that" says Konitzer.  They told us that "Tyler usually spends a lot of time working on the songs and writing the lyrics and then when he brings them to practice we all really add things in and fill out the structure."

The scene in Columbus seems to be one of the strongest around, and the band confirms that notion.  "The city is growing and becoming a cultural hub, and there are a lot of really good bands. There's room for all kinds of music and art here and we really haven't had any trouble getting shows thanks to a lot of awesome bands and venues."  Networking with other bands past and present is still key to getting shows for them, both in and out of town, as the band plays our show on the 27th with Yankee Go Home in a repeat engagement. "We played with Yankee Go Home at our first show here in Columbus. We really know them because Tom is from the same area and actually played in pop punk band, Apathetic Epidemic, with Dave Paulett for 6 years," says Konitzer.
Sample the goodness!

Being a relatively new band, they've yet to put together their first proper album, something they plan to rectify in April.  They have a handful of demos at, and the tracks you can listen to above through Reverbnation.  Like most bands we've talked with, they put the internet to good use, in addition to good old fashioned foot soldiering.  "When we release (the album) we are definitely planning on fully utilizing itunes and spotify to get the word out. We use the internet a lot. We are on facebook, reverbnation, bandcamp, twitter, indieonthemove, and the Columbus DIY message boards. Those sites all help, but we also believe in the need for a lot of foot work and spend time putting up flyers all over the city to let people know."

The band follows up that work ethic by playing shows everywhere they can get them.  Konitzer says, "I'd say our most memorable show so far was in a basement in Athens, OH. It was a bunch of kids who really got into it. In fact, they got so into it they broke a window halfway through and a lot of them fled the scene, It was still really fun, so punk rock."  While playing basement shows though, as with all bands, they have their dream show lineup, which includes a band other artists in our In The Spotlight series have mentioned. "I guess we all really grew up loving Brand New and no matter how much our musical tastes have expanded we would still absolutely love to play a show with them."

You can catch Emily And The Complexes along with Mad Anthony, Yankee Go Home, and Honah Lee at the Galaxy on February 27th in another of our $5.00 shows.  Showtime is 7pm, and the show is All Ages.  Thanks to the band for taking the time to talk with us, and we'll see you at the show!