Basement Beers; NJ’s Tastiest Trio

It happens more often than not. You head out to see a favorite band and by sheer  coincidence find yourself thoroughly embracing a band you had never heard of. On one particularly freezing night. I risked life and limb to see a touring band by the name of Snowhaus gather at Montclair’s Meatlocker. Less than a year prior. Snowhaus, a Massachusetts act I had never before heard of. Blew the doors of the cavernous collective. Forever sealing my fandom. As this particular show progressed. History repeated itself as I found myself thoroughly enjoying yet another band I had no prior knowledge of. That night and a week or so later at an establishment just blocks away. A band by the name of Basement Beers rewarded me with another great set. With a tour just a day away and lots to talk about. I laid the tracks for the interview I hope you are about to read. Thanks to Teddy, Greg and Shaun. As each of them took the time to chime in and contribute. Here’s to supporting the scene, the bands and the people who make it happen. With no further ado.  I give you the Basement Beers.  (Interview and live images by James Damion.)

James: You just came off a tour with the band Cutters. How did it all come together?

Greg: We’ve been friends with Cutters since our first show on the same bill together at               Stevens Institute which was either November 2014 or February 2015. Since then we have shared the stage together and become friends. In November ’15, Pierce hit us up about this incredible opportunity.

12794859_1951320345093876_1304904488886083900_oShaun: We’ve known Cutters for a while now, and at the last show we played together in Brooklyn, Pierce loosely suggested we do a tour together. Fast forward a couple of months, and Cutters is going on tour and they followed through and asked us to join. Pierce drunkenly suggested it to us when we played together in BK. We didn’t hear back so we assumed it was just bar talk, but they hit me up on Facebook shortly after and it all sorta fell into place.

Teddy: Pierce drunkenly suggested it to us when we played together in BK. We didn’t hear back so we assumed it was just bar talk, but they hit me up on Facebook shortly after and it all sorta fell into place.

James: Were you big fans of the band before this all came together? You were out for 17 days. Where did you go? Was this the longest you’ve been away from home?                      

Greg: We’ve all been fans of Cutters for some time now. Mike is so adorable! We were in almost 20 states in 17 days with shows almost every night, sometimes two. Philly, Pitts, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Fort Worth/Austin/San Marcos/Houston, Texas, NOLA, ‘Bama, Georgia,  North Carolina, Maryland, Jersey.

Shaun: We’re all big fans of Cutters, Greg hums their songs as he falls asleep at night. I was only out for 10 days, but that is the longest I’ve ever been away from home.

Teddy: What they said ^^^ Cutters rules and it was a blessing to be able to explore the country with them.

James: What happened to Shaun during the tour that needed medical attention?       Who filled in while he was unable to perform?

SHaun BBGreg:  Shaun, tell ’em baby!

Shaun:I had what’s called Pneumomediastinum, which is a medical way of saying I had pockets of air in my neck and shoulders. I was diagnosed with it the day I was supposed to leave for tour and it kept me bedridden for almost 5 days. Teddy filled in on vocals, as did Pierce and Brian of Cutters. But even when I was on tour, I couldn’t sing because of my condition, so I was strictly guitar.

Teddy: Brian filled in on guitar for the first leg of tour, and I did vocals the whole time which was incredibly nerve-wracking.

James: From your posts on Facebook. It looks as if you made a lot of friends along the way. Were there any particular moments, bands or people who particularly left an effect on you?

Greg: There are so many, but definitely the people who we never met before who cooked for us, and let us crash at their place. Forever grateful. Forever Grohl.

Greg BB

Shaun: I still think Allen from Austin was the gnarliest dude. He fed us breakfast burritos and was the only guy at his house that saw us play. Plus, he traded me a killer vest, which I wore for the remainder of tour. But Andrew, also from Austin, let us stay his place for three days, which is unbelievably kind.

Teddy:We made too many friends to count. As someone with a lot of anxiety, touring is really terrifying because it puts me completely out of my comfort zone for weeks, but the DIY community has proven time and time again to be some of the nicest and most accepting people there are.

James: Alright, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What’s behind the silly name? Are we talking about a great basement show low lighted by a couple of cases of Pabst Blue Ribbon? Or is there a deeper, more sociological meaning behind it?

Shaun: We were honestly drinking beers in Greg’s basement, fleshing out our first songs and that was what Greg half jokingly suggested. I honestly wanted to change it, but it’s to the point and makes sense for our music and the type of shows we play. Also we still practice in Greg’s basement.

Greg: I joked about naming our band Basement Beers or Project: Basement Beers and thus we formed that month of February 2014!

Teddy: We drink beer and play in basements, its pretty self-explanatory.

James: How did you first meet and what made you want to make music together? Had you been in other bands before?

Teddy: I’ve played in bands with Greg and Shaun before when I was younger, none of them were very good, so its surprising that Basement Beers has gone anywhere. (lmao)

Shaun: We all went to the same high school, but each in different grades. I had been writing more guitar parts, and I knew Greg was a drummer, so I wanted to jam on some of them. After that first session, I suggested we bring Teddy into our midst. Teddy and I had been in a prog rock band in high school, so I knew they’d be down for whatever.

Greg: I remember I hit up Shaun, who I had been friends with for years from the local scene, concerts, parties etc. about jamming. We had our first jam in January 2014. Then that February Shaun invited Teddy, who we were both friends with and had played in bands with before to come to my basement and drink beers/jam.

James: Did you originally set out to be a trio? Are there any plans to perhaps add a piece or two?

Greg: We are such completely different people from each other which makes this band quite interesting. We’ve never really considered adding a fourth member unless it would be Kevin James or Dave Grohl…maybe Steve Harvey.

Shaun: I’ve always wanted to add a second guitar, mostly because I write so many different parts for every song and I can’t play them all. However, it forces me to be concise in my writing, and I think it makes us stronger as band, because we are restricted with what we can do.

Teddy: We’ve talked about adding another guitarist or possibly a synth player but it’s already hard enough to coordinate shows/practices with 3 people so it probably won’t happen.

James: How would you describe your sound and overall method of destruction to someone who hasn’t heard of Basement Beers? Influences, bands or a genre, sub genre you might find yourselves

TW

Greg:  2/3’s Blart, 3/4 Grohl

Shaun: I just tell people a punk band so I don’t have to get into the details. We have some emo, some twinkly stuff, some mathy stuff, but I just consider us a punk band. I’m influenced by bands like Glocca Morra and Into It. Over It. but also Van Halen, a lot of Van Halen. I want to do blow with David Lee Roth.

Teddy: People keep calling us an emo band or a pop punk band and I don’t really think we fit either of those categories. We’re definitely somewhere in the Punk genre but I think categorizing it more than that would have pigeonholed us,  ya know?

James: Favorite bands to play shows with? Favorite places you’ve played?

Greg: Personally, New Orleans and Austin for me. Favorite bands… too many! Anytime I get to see Cutters I am grateful. They always put on a stellar show and I learn so much from their performances…all four of them! Best part of tour for me was getting to see them do what they do best every night 🙂

Shaun: Although I’ve only played with them once, Jank was a blast, super nice homies. Cutters without a doubt. Also, Snowhaus, can’t forget Snowhaus. I’m a sucker for New Brunswick basements. My favorite shows have always been down there.

Teddy: We’ve played with so many cool and supportive acts its hard to single any out, but I think PUP was the coolest band we ever played with. As far as venues go, the Meatlocker is like a second home to us, but I love playing any dank basement.

Meaty
Montclair’s Meatlocker; The dirtiest basement you’ll ever love.

James: Your last EP “Nothing Outstanding” was quite good. Personally, I feel the title itself undercut the fact that it was a stellar release. What led you to choose such a self-deprecating title?

Greg: Mother Russia.

Shaun: Some guy in Russia reviewed our first recording, and one of the comments on it was that it/we is/are nothing outstanding. We thought that was really funny, so had to use it. Personally, when people say shit like that, it’s super motivating, because it makes me want to be better.

Teddy: The only press we got for our first EP was from a Russian “Midwest Emo” music page, who called our EP “Nothing Outstanding” and “Ordinary Twinkle”. They said the same thing about our second EP. It’s truly amazing that nowadays we can be roasted by strangers on the other side of the planet effortlessly.

James: What’s next for the Basement Beers? Are you writing new songs? Can we expect any new music in 2016? Any last words, shout outs, disses or schism?

Greg: Racism is schism. We are recording our upcoming third EP at the end of May! We are also getting close to our 100th show. Besides that we got some new merch goodies coming soon!

Shaun: We have a little weekender in the last week of April with our pals in Mr. Pink. We have shows sporadically throughout, but I think the big focus is recording. We’re recording a new EP at the end of May at Backroom Studios, so that should be cool. Hopefully we’ll have a more fitting title for this record, but knowing us, probably not.

Teddy: Got some more shows coming up, recording a new EP, another little tour, and some sweet, sweet merch, homie.

For  more information on Basement Beers. Click the links below.

Bandcamp

Facebook

 

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Ted Dougherty aka Teddy Spaghetty; And the room was spinning.

For me personally, record collecting has always been somewhat of a tribal ritual.           As someone who has collected, owned and yes, hoarded everything from cassettes to vinyl, to CD’s and ultimately, back to vinyl. I have been a part of this tribe. As both a member and a a curious observer. I strangely  find that I am often more at peace thumbing through friends collections than spending quality time enjoying my own.        My quest and my feverish quest to replace the record collection I sold some fifteen years ago has more than quadrupled that of the original. Regardless of any retainment. I constantly find myself digging, searching and investing time and money for records new and old.  I have come to realize that the hunt is just as, if not more rewarding than the capture. How, there is no end, completion or end to the ultimate race to acquire. So, in what I hope to be a running feature on this blog. I plan on reaching out to some of my favorite vinyl junkies. Ask about their collections, favorite records and just what it is that fuels that endless quest. 

The following interview was done with long time friend Ted Dougherty (aka Teddy Spaghetty) An avid record collector, DJ and the man behind the newly formed ‘Spaghetty Town Records’

James: What was the first band / record you really gelled with as a kid? Does it still hold up? 

Ted: I actually remember this pretty well. I remember making cassette copies of my sister’s records like the Cars and Bryan Adams. But the first record I remember buying with my own money was Van Halen “5150”. I don’t know why picked that record specifically. Does it hold up? Eh, not so much. Had my first record been “1984” the answer would be a big yes. That record is still great!

James: You were born in Australia. Did you form any connection to the music that was coming from there? I can recall countless Australian bands who influenced me early on. The Divinyls, The Easybeats and the Church immediately come to mind, but there are so many more.

Ted: Oh yeah totally. I got into the Easybeats and Church in my 20’s. But growing up AC/DC of course, INXS and Midnight Oil. I’d read about The Saints and Radio Birdman in MOJO and I remember going to Mondo Kim’s to buy the CD’s. When I would visit Australia I’d look for the vinyl, it’s a little easier to find there. Cosmic Psychos, another great Aussie band.

James: What’s your usual method of acquiring records?

Ted: Ha, the first thing I thought when you asked this was “by any means necessary!” I still prefer the old fashioned way, going to record stores, flea markets and yard sales. I’ve found some amazing records at yard sales. I’ll still check the record section at the Salvation Army. Occasionally mixed in with Christmas and polka records you can find something. I travel quite a bit, so I pack an cloth LP bag in my luggage. My customs form is usually just records. I do use discogs.com occasionally. But it’s all about the thrill of the hunt and that feeling you get when you finally got your white whale record.

James: What’s the most obscure, rare or valued record you own?

Ted: I have a few that are rare. I’m normally not even aware when I get them that they are hard to find. But my favorite story , I was at the Englishtown flea market and this guy had stacks of records in a wagon. I started flipping through them and he had some pretty solid stuff for sale, Stiff Little Fingers, X, The Clash , stuff like that. But i’d noticed a Misfits “Walk Among Us” record. I’m from NJ and it was one of my earlier punk cassettes, so I was pretty excited. At the time it hadn’t been repressed for a while, so it was hard to find. I brought about 20 records to the guy , he said he brother in law had been a DJ in Staten Island in the 80’s and asked him to sell the records. They were $1 a record. So i paid him $20 and carried on with my day. It took a while, but I gave the Misfits record a good look later. It turned out to be a first pressing, it’s pretty valuable to Misfits fans. I’m not sure what they go for now, but I have no plans to sell it.

James: The most elusive. (Something you have been unable to attain.)

Ted: I’m always on the lookout for first pressing Hellacopters, Zeke and Turbonegro reocrds. When i got to a record store I check the H, T and Z sections first. My white whale of a record is oddly the “Fire” by Electric Six, the first album. There are a few really great songs to play when you DJ, Danger High Voltage, Gay Bar and Dance Commander. It’s a crowd pleaser. I’ve never seen it in a store , aside from when it came out. I can buy it online, but where is the fun in that.

James: The most you ever paid for a record?

Ted: Really man! I try not to think about it. Ummm, somewhere close to $100. Probably some Soul 45. I’m not sure.

Ted Spins

James: As a DJ what type of music are you generally known for spinning?

Ted: Usually a little bit of everything really. Punk, hardcore, RnB, Soul, glam, garage, 80’s new wave, metal, whatever is appropriate for the crowd. I’ve been collecting records for over 20 years and I’m still surprised by things I’ve acquired over the years. I do a monthly night here in Atlanta. I usually do RnB and Soul for the first half. It’s fun, people seem to enjoy it and it sets a nice vibe. As the night progresses I usually transition into more garage or punk. I could do a 4 hour set of just punk or hardcore but most of those songs are short. A lot of those RnB songs are 3 to 5 minutes. “Sailin’ On” is less than two minutes long!

James: You’ve mentioned due to your overflowing stash of records, there was no available flat spaces in your home. How do you go about or, perhaps in your case, avoid properly storing your records?

Ted: It’s true! There are records everywhere. I have one of the big ikea record shelves. But between buying records, DJing and just playing records at home I have a bad habit of not putting them after I play them. My 12 inches are alphabetical, the 45’s are by genre, kind of. It usually makes is easy when I’m looking for something though. There are those times when I’m looking for a specific 45 and I have to go through nearly every stack of records to find it. Oh, that’s the other thing. It’s bad to stack records on top of each other, so they are all sitting upright and on every flat surface in the house. We also have cats, so if I leave them on the floor they’ll likely pee on them, or use them as a scratching post. If I could leave them on the floor my life would be so much easier.

James: Is there a particular genre that dominates your collection?

12894294_10154230475342150_852544585_o

Ted: 20 years ago the answer would be largely punk and hardcore records. But now it’s a lot of everything. There is still a lot of punk and hardcore records. You’ll also find a lot of RnB and soul records, metal and garage I guess is the bulk of it. I own a bunch of Yes and Grateful Dead records, which is weird because I don’t even like those bands. I think someone just gave them to me. I said earlier that everything is alphabetical, but I had to make a section for sound tracks, compilations and twelve inch singles to help keep my sanity.

James: You recently decided to start your own label. What inspired you to invest your money and time in this quick and easy money making scheme? Tell me about the band?

Ted: Yeah, I’m really excited about it, Spaghetty Town Reccords. My nickname is Teddy Spaghetty, so it just made sense to name it Spaghetty Town. I’d been telling my wife that I always wanted to have my own record label. I said I needed a band though, if I could find a band then maybe I’d do it. It took a while, but I remembered this band I’d heard at a friend’s house in Lima Peru the year earlier, Motosierra. 12794350_729509223853106_4431866949627785067_nThey’re a sleazy punk band from Uruguay. Remind me a bit of              The Dwarves and Turbonegro. Latin America has so many raw punk and metal bands. Just tiny scenes with hardcore fans. It’s amazing. So, I started messaging Motosierra on Facebook. Turned out they were looking for a label, they’d never had a release in the US before. They just finished recording some songs and we should have a 7 inch out by the summer of 2016.            The dream is to get them to North America, but I’m focusing on getting the record out and trying to build a fan base in the US. It’s going to be a labor of love. But it’s exciting to turn people onto a band they’ve never heard before and otherwise may have never heard.

James Five records in your collection you could not live without?

Ted: I’m going to list a few, and later change my mind.                                                             Misfits “Walk Among Us”, you know the story.                                                                             Cro-Mags “Age Of Quarrel”, it was kind of hard to find for a while and just a classic.
Queens of the Stone Age , the first album. It still blows me away.
Saints, the first two records. Early Aussie punk, and two awesome records.
Bronx, the first record. I had fallen out of love with hardcore and then I heard this.                       All records should sound this good.

James: So, in the end, when it comes to collecting records. What’s more exciting? The chase or the capture?

Ted: The chase, all day. Lemmy knew it, the chase is better than the catch. The capture is satisfying, but the chase, the uncertainty, that feeling of not knowing what you’re going to find, that’s where the excitement is.

Spaghetty Town Records

 

Sniffling Indie Kids. Leaving a positive footprint through creativity and quality.

Just as fanzines and music blogs serve as the CNN of underground music. It’s the Independent Record Labels that provide the vehicle for which we enjoy much of the current music that comes out of our often thriving music scenes. For bands that cannot or do not wish to beg for crumbs from the all consuming music industry. Independent labels such as Sniffling Indie Kids serve as a home and comfort zone for many bands. In my years as co creator of United By Rocket Science and now with Document. I was happy to find that the D.I.Y. (Do it Yourself) ethos I grew up on was still alive and thriving. In a relatively short time. SIK has served up plenty of evidence and musical inspiration. I recently reached out to Frank and Eric to get an inside look at what makes this label such a integral part of New Jersey’s independent music scene. JD

Despite the musicality and quality of the labels releases. The name Sniffling Indie Kids as well as the labels logo have a very juvenile look and sound. What’s behind the term “Sniffling Indie Kids” and the logo?

1548103_475041302621830_2124325547_oFrank: I’m stealing a quote from Eric on this one…”The name Sniffling Indie Kids comes from the Hold Steady song “Positive Jam” and it very much signifies our perspective on life and music. Take the music very seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.” Plus, being able to use the acronym “SIK” has been a lot of fun because we’re putting out the “SIK-est” indie records in NJ. Basically, the name sounded cool, funny and memorable so we just kind of went with it. As for the logo, we had one of our favorite cartoonists make it. His name is Steven Darden (http://www.stevendarden.com/) and he rules. We now however have a new logo that we are using that was based on the original text, but re-imagined by YJY’s Steve Sachs (http://cargocollective.com/stevesachs/).

You had attempted and somewhat succeeded to create something very inspiring with the Tiny Giants Collective. What became of that and do youn think there were any lessons to learn from the experience?

Frank: The Tiny Giant Artist Collective was more or less an experiment. It was an unbelievable learning experience. It was a friendship builder, a network expander, a musical opinion forum and a self destructing nightmare. Basically, we wanted to build a network to expand communication of great bands and people passionately involved in the music scenes throughout the tri-state area. We kind of achieved some of that, however in the process, the move towards attempting to be purely democratic somewhat destroyed it. When the original five people started it, it was very content driven, and held a high standard for quality as well as the people we would have involved. But as time passed and more people got involved, it was a standard “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario which overall degraded the quality of the group. It also had become filled with too many people with a focus on “me” and not enough on “we.”

Sniffling Indie Kids is the direct punch back at what we initially tried at building. We now have jobs and some (not a lot) of money to work with, so we figured we could take the mistakes we learned from the TGAC and build something better with SIK as a record label instead of a collective. Not to sound like a pompous control freak, but I’ve always felt the three of us who run SIK have very good ears and more often than not are on the same page in regard to who we would like to work with.

2015 was a very busy year for SIK with a number of noteworthy releases. With all the urgency. Is there any fear or burnout?

Eric: No. Well maybe. Who knows? We are involved in a lot of musical projects ourselves, besides the bands that we work with, so there definitely is the possibility of burning out at some point. However, at the moment we are going to kick ass while there is ass to be kicked and let the future bring what it will.

You’ve been releasing material at a somewhat frantic pace. What is it about these bands, their music, or both that inspire you and makes you feel they need such immediate attention?

10556987_820880974704526_7296137088715908032_oEric: The majority of the bands are people that we have known in the scene for a long time in various other musical incarnations. Occasionally, we hear someone new that we want to work with, but it’s always organic as far as finding out about them.

Frank: Also, a lot of the bands we are working with are very prolific song writers. It makes it easy to continually put out new material when bands are putting out 1-2 full releases a year.

With the overwhelming amount of noteworthy acts in the current local scened. How do you maintain a quality over quantity?

Frank: Since we’ve known the people we work with for quite some time, we try to keep it a close knit family circle. The people currently in the circle have yet to disappoint our ears.

Eric: At the same time we won’t release anything that doesn’t align with our personal tastes.

Aside from yourselves, (Frank & Eric) Who else is involved, both creatively and monetarily?

Frank: So the label is run by Eric Goldberg, Joe Lanza and myself (Frank DeFranco). At the same time, the label somewhat operates in the collective way that TGAC did with people pitching in here and there to help further achieve our goals (like Steve with the logo).

Eric: Also, there have been multiple blogs (such as this one) that have been loyal to helping support our cause. Jim from CoolDad Music was gracious enough to go so far as co-hosting an Indie Pop Winter Formal with us in Asbury Park.

How hands on are you with the recordings and mastering? Who else, besides the bands themselves, are involved with the process?

Frank: So as far as recording, often Joe will lend out his hand in helping get music tracked for anyone on the label. There are others involved such as Max Rauch (LKFFCT & NGHTCRWLRS) and Erik Romero (Dollys) who are in bands on the label who record/mix/master a lot of other bands involved with the label. Additionally, our long time close friends Jeremy Cimino and Skylar Adler have played a behind the scenes role in making a lot of the records released on the label sound as good as they do. We ourselves tend to not get too involved in the making of the records (except if Joe is involved), however we do make sure that all of our releases are held to a certain standard of quality.

You recently celebrated your first vinyl release with Rocky Catanese’s “New Day Old Night”. Was there something special or unique that influenced you to go the extra mile by pressing it on to vinyl?

rcatc-digital-album-coverFrank: Obviously we dug the record, but besides that, there’s a few reasons why we did. One, he really wanted to do it, so much so that he offered to put up half the funds to help make it happen. Two, we wanted to put out something on vinyl in our first year of existence. Three, we’ve known Rocky for a long time and he was a reliable person to do this with. Four, we knew that when Rocky said he would be playing out a lot and touring to support the record, we could trust his word. If it were financially possible we’d put out everything on vinyl, but that just is not an option for us at this time.

Eric: We look forward to doing more vinyl releases via our upcoming limited edition Sniffling Indie Singles series. These will be 7″ lathe cut splits of two bands on the label.

You mentioned that while you’re not seeking out bands to sign. You definitely have plans in place for future releases. Care to fill us in? Or is it a deeply guarded industry secret?

Eric: Our next release is Delicate Flowers in April. The rest is a closely guarded secret.

To order or find more information about Sniffling Indie Kids. Click the link below.

http://www.snifflingindiekids.com/

 

Interview Spotlight; Nathan Gray

It’s not everyday you get to interview someone whose music and overall message has inspired you for twenty plus years. Chances are you’re going to miss out on some things you may have wanted to ask or fumble over some of your words. In the case of Nathan Gray, (Boysetsfire, I am Heresy and a just released solo effort.) I knew this was inevitable. With so much ground to cover and a couple of subjects I wasn’t sure were up for discussion. I tired to keep my questions to a reasonable number while keeping the door open to further discussion and dialogue. 

In creating Document Fanzine, both Jason and myself set out to communicate with the people that have affected us through their music and art. To celebrate and bring light to the music and people that have always inspired us. Get to know them on more than one level and in essence, give them a voice as well as a soundboard to speak. Thanks to Nathan for his patience and openness. J.D.

James: Can you tell me how the idea to do a solo album came about? I mean with all the things you’re involved in.. two bands, your son.. etc. Where did you find the time and what was it that inspired these songs?

Nathan: Wanting to take on a solo musical endeavor is nothing new for me. The Casting Out was actually supposed to be a solo project, but I lost my nerve, and brought in other people. Now, at this stage of my life, just felt like the right time to dive in and do it. It has been absolutely amazing so far!

If you want something bad enough, you make the time for it. It really is as simple as that. I’m not afraid of hard work. My family… my music, both are extremely important to me, and luckily I have support from each of those loves, to continue to grow and nurture the other.

James: I have to admit. I had no idea what to expect and this record was nothing I expected. While it wasn’t what I’d call “something that had to grew on me”. I would definitely say this is a record I needed to absorb before reaching out to you. Can you share how this journey begin and what the process was like?

Nathan; I think it’s safe to say that MOST people didn’t know what to expect with this project, and I sort of like it that way. People hear that the singer from their favorite band is going solo, and they (somewhat rightly) expect it to be another man-and-acoustic-guitar sort of thing, because that’s generally what happens. But, that really wasn’t me, and it wasn’t the sort of creative and emotional outlet I wanted, or needed.

Within the I AM HERESY albums, we always included these dark, emotive segways which tied the songs together. nathandanielmainThose pieces somewhat inspired what the solo endeavor is. I knew that I wanted that sound and feeling in my project. I began writing, and reached out to my Dan, who was always that friend of ours who was doing his own thing, engulfed in electronic, and industrial music. I knew he would be the perfect person to help me bring my vision to life. From there, the songs started to take shape, and the endeavor started to solidify itself in style and content.

James: There’s a soft spoken strength to the record that’s very moving. In a sense, it felt as it was a perfect vehicle to deliver these songs. What was it that guided this approach?

Nathan: My personal ideology is very much at the forefront of what I produce as Nathan Gray. As a Satanist, it is my responsibility to create myself in my own best image. That means overcoming hindrances, strengthening myself, creating, and exercising my carnality.

469x470-cJames: Can you tell me about the narration throughout the record?

Nathan: I believe you are asking about the spoken samples within the EP, and if so, these are clips taken from various movies, which suited the mood of each song. There is the clip at the beginning of “Wolves” that everyone loves, which comes from the film “The Dunwich Horror.”

James: The lyrics themselves have a certain historic feel to them. There seems to be a common theme throughout. What are these songs rooted in?

Nathan: These songs are inspired by my personal, continued quest to create my own vital existence. They are ritual celebrations of, invocations of, or releases from all the carnal emotions, that can make or break a human.

James: As a photographer and someone who is visually drawn to photographs that tell a story or evoke emotion. I felt myself drawn to the cover image. For me personally, it brought a lot of things to mind including mental health, loneliness and inner strength. Can you tell me about the photo, who took it and what it represents in relation to the EP?

Nathan: The cover art for the EP was done by an incredibly talented friend of mine named Tom Bejgrowicz of Man Alive Creative. I have worked with Tom many times over the years, as he has created art for Boysetsfire, I Am Heresy, and now, my solo endeavor.

Using images he shot at an abandoned hospital, and then combining them with a stark white version of my personal sigil, he came up with something bold and mysterious that I absolutely love. As far as what it represents, I feel that it, as with most art, is best interpreted by the individual. The magic is contained in what it means, and does, for YOU.

James: What was it that initially sparked your interest to Satanism? Did you grow up in a particularly religious household?

Nathan: I grew up within the Christian church, both parents being actively involved within it my entire life. My first introduction to Satanism came at quite a young age, and it was through films we were shown in church. They were meant to warn us of the dangers of sin, and assured us that Satan was the enemy. Through those films, I was introduced to Anton LaVey, the man who founded The Church of Satan, and I was fascinated with him immediately.

James: What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions? For you personally, what are the most important truths?

Nathan: The absolute biggest misconception about Satanism, is that we worship Satan. Worshipping a deity other than ourselves would be ridiculous to us, and very much a Christian way to act. Aside from that, the next, and most horrific misconception, is that we kill or maim humans, and/or animals. We absolutely do not. Just as we don’t drink blood, encourage drug use, or rally to erect ridiculous religious statues on government property.

“Satanism demands study-not worship.” This means that we know the difference (or similarity!) between fantasy and reality, that we are in a constant search for our OWN truths, and that we are responsible for, and master of, our own destinies.

(While I understand the next two questions may be very or too too personal to discuss. I have had many friends and family suffer from addiction. Therefore I am genuinely interested and concerned.) I thoroughly respect your decision if it’s something you’d like to keep personal.

James: Most people our age don’t have the chance to play side by side in a band with their son. Yet you have been doing just that. What has it been like having your own flesh and blood right by your side performing with you?

Nathan: It is, of course, an incredible feeling. It certainly gave us a chance to connect in a way most parents don’t get to do. To share all that time creating together, and then touring together, was a once in a lifetime sort of opportunity, and I am really happy we were able to share that. I hope to someday possibly share that experience with youngest son, as well.

James: You recently fought an epic battle in regards to your son. How is he doing and how is his recovery coming along?

Nathan: Simon continues to fight, and is committed to getting his life back. We are extremely proud of his progress, and hope that he continues to move forward.

James: Was the solo album and the new BSF intended to be released around the same time?

Nathan: It wasn’t intentional, but they certainly happened that way. The solo EP re-release came just before the Boysetsfire album release, and I can assure you that it was a complete whirlwind. It still is! There were back to back releases AND tours, so to say it’s been a busy year, would be an understatement. But, I thrive off that sort of chaos, so it’s been an amazing ride.

James: Is there any (for lack of a better word) fear that, perhaps due to familiarity, your solo effort might be overshadowed by…

Nathan: Not at all. My friends and fans have faithfully followed me through each new adventure. Aside from that, both bands are completely different, and to compare them, or worry about overshadowing one with another would be somewhat silly. There are new fans to each band that have come from the other.

James: You’re set to tour Europe in support of the new album. Do you have any solo gigs planned where you’ll be able to perform these songs? (Understand I wrote this question a few weeks before it was sent to you.)

Nathan; I’m actually on tour as we speak! And I do not have any solo shows planned on the Boysetsfire tour, but hope to return with Dan soon, for another run of Nathan Gray shows.                                                                                                  boysetsfire

James: I Think it goes without saying that Boysetsfire were a band that not only renewed and strengthened my love of Hardcore, BSF almost single handedly got me through some very rough patches. I say this because I recently (not sure how recently, but it stuck in my gut.) read somewhere
that the band felt a sense of dissatisfaction in regards to their success. If true, why? And in the end. How do you measure success as a band and as an artist?

I’m not entirely sure why anyone would think that we are, or ever have been, dissatisfied with our success. Boysetsfire is still making albums, and still playing sold out shows after over 20 years. That is an INCREDIBLE success, and one we do not take for granted. Simply put, success is defined individually, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am damn pleased with what I’ve accomplished in my life. I’m not even close to being done yet…

To purchase NTHN GRY click Here . To learn more about Nathan Gray you can go Here . For more information about BoySetsFire, the new album and their tour. You can log on to the band’s website  http://www.boysetsfire.net/

An Interview with Kevin Egan of Beyond

As a band, Beyond always stood out for me both musically and lyrically. Their metal tinged guitars and sociological lyrics still give both my ears and conscious a workout whenever I listen. During their short, yet spirited time together. I was able to see them perform at some memorable places with bands such as Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today and Killing Time. A few days prior to Revelation Records vinyl release of Beyond’s 1988 Dew it Demo and Live on WNYU’s Crucial Chaos. I reached out to Beyond frontman Kevin Egan to talk about the band, it’s legacy and Beyond’s upcoming show at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus. The following is what transpired.  J.D.

James: I pre-ordered my copy of “Dew it / WNYU” just hours before it became officially released. What are your personal feelings on what is a pretty nice document of your teen years?

rev160Kevin: I’m stoked. It’s rare that someone creates something at the age of 17 like we did with the demo and then 28 years later a label like Revelation wants to release it. That’s just awesome. And I love that demo to this day. I’m still very proud of it. Like you said it’s a good document of my teen years, but it’s also a document of my musical origins. I never stopped playing music, so it blows my mind to see where I come from compared to where I am currently at.

James: Can you tell me what made what led to Revelation Records making this opportunity?

Kevin: They contacted us. We got an email from Jordan saying he would love to release it, along with the WNYU performance and we were totally into it. Again, the demo means a lot to us. We recorded it at the studio in our hometown Holbrook New York and the next weekend brought it to SomeRrecords. We never thought it would’ve blown up the way it did. Having Duane Rosignal (Some Records) and Porcell (Youth of Today) get psyched about that demo was huge. It opened up a lot of doors for us.

James: I remember a post on their website stating they would also be reissuing “No Longer at Ease”. Is that still in the works?

Kevin: Oh yeah, I think they may even be pushing up its release and it might be available early next year.

James: Do these reissues give you any sense of closure? Or perhaps open the doors to future collaborations with Vic, Tom or Alan?

Kevin: Not really. My sense of closure came after the band initially broke up in 1989. Now it’s just something that happens every couple of years. Beyond comes back into my life. I almost expect it and even welcome it, for no other reason then I get to spend more time with longtime friends.

James; Strangely enough, my first recollections of Beyond predated hearing the band. I recall reading a rather glowing review in New Breed Fanzine. The other memory that has always stuck with me was how excited Civ and Walter (Gorilla Biscuits) were about playing with you for the first time. Notable considering they were already well known in NY and Beyond was just starting out.

Kevin: Like I said, we were very lucky to have Porcell discovering our demo. It opened up a lot of doors for us. As a result, our demo was introduced to Walter and other people in the Gorilla Biscuits and we were able to play shows with them. That was amazing for a 17-year-old kid to be opening up for some of his favorite bands.

James: While Beyond often played shows with and were sometimes grouped with bands like Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today. Sound wise and lyrically you were quite different. I always felt you sounded more like Iron Maiden meets Life’s Blood. As apposed to say 7 Seconds meets Youth of Today. What places and experiences were you channeling with songs like Hoax, What Awaits Us and Vampire Empire?

Kevin: We were definitely listening to Iron Maiden. We grew up with them and after we discovered hardcore, we went back to them just because they were so musically interesting, we felt we weren’t done with them yet.

James: Reuniting for something like Revelation’s 25th anniversary, This is Hardcore or in your case Black N’ Blue Ball tends to rekindle old friendships, as well as sparking new energy as well as a sense of unfinished business. Many of the bands we played with or went to see during that long ago time have since reunited to tour the world, record and.. well… tour. Was there ever a moment during or after that performance where someone in the band suggested something along those lines. If not, is it something you think you’d be open to?

Kevin: It’s come up. We talked about it. I don’t think we’re opposed to it. The only thing is we all have jobs and Vic lives in Japan, so it would take a lot to get us to overcome those things, but I think if the right opportunity came up, we would take them.

James: Do you still identify with the songs you created with Beyond?

Kevin: Yes. It’s just a matter of thinking of the songs in a different context. As a 45-year-old man, I relate to a song like What Awaits Us a lot more than I did at 17 because suddenly my mortality is a real thing. I was always impressed how Tom could write a song like that at such a young age. Also, a lot of our songs were about the inability to connect with other people. I still experience that as an adult.

James: As much as the music (Particularly that of “No Longer at Ease”) have always moved me. It’s the amazing talent within the band and what each of you went off to do post Beyond that really blows my mind. At the time, did any of you feel as if you were limited as to what you could do within the limited scope of what was deemed acceptable within Hardcore? Did any of that or the projects that would follow lead to the bands breaking up?

Kevin: I don’t think any of us felt limited by hardcore. We loved hardcore. That’s what we wanted to do. We just saw the possibilities of hardcore being bigger than what was presented at the time. We wanted to introduce other types of music while still remaining within the confines of hardcore. I would say the only other project that contributed to Beyond’s break up was Tom’s involvement in Bold. But even that was minimal. Vic had moved to California and I was going away to college, so there were a lot of factors leading to the break up of the band.

James: I spent a few hours immersed in the book that’s included with the LP. Read it from front to back before I ever took the record out of the sleeve. Strangely enough I really identified with it in a very personal way. That show at the Anthrax that’s pictured as well as the Boiling Point cover and the interview. There was one particular show at The Anthrax when you played with Killing Time and Gorilla Biscuits. The fact that I shared real estate with Alan just out of high school. Excuse all my chatter but, with all these memories being stirred up, I’m wondering how much of an impact that time, the music and being a cog in what was a very unique family on you. We’ve all gone on to do things with our lives Yet many of us find ourselves going back to that time with a sense of romanticism. How do you feel about the band and it’s impact on the people who were there to experience it?

Kevin: That time in my life was definitely the ground on which I was able to build some sort of musical life for myself. Without Beyond, there never would’ve been a 1.6 Band, Last Crime or any of my acoustic projects. The fact that I was able to do Beyond informed me of what I was capable of doing and from there I just kept t10632326_1492237371089248_504404357_nrying new things. I’m a romantic person by nature so I look back at every time in my life with fondness, except the bad times of course. The only difference with my time in Beyond was, again, that was the ground on which I was able to build other things. I was very lucky to have that.

As far as Beyond’s impact on other people, I don’t know how much we impacted other people as much as we were just part of this thing that happened at this specific time. Within that scene, everyone was having an impact on everyone else. That’s what made it so special.

James: You have a show coming up this month at St. Vitus. How did it all come together? Will Vic be joining you?

Kevin: Noisey and Tony Rettman contacted Tom about the show. He messaged me and I told him I was down. A few different venues were tossed around but ultimately St. Vitus worked out. Vic is definitely playing with us. When the idea for the show came up, I thought it was best to ask Vic.  I figured it would feel more authentically like Beyond if he played. He’s also one of my oldest friends, so it will be extra special to be playing with him.

To order Dew it! Live Crucial Chaos WNYU

For Show Information and Tickets

At Home in the Studio with Skylar Adler

Skylar Adler, perhaps best known as the drummer for celebrated acts The Nico Blues and The Sound is Fine. Has quickly, yet somewhat quietly been making a name for himself as one of the go to engineers in a thriving local indie music scene. While I’ve come to know him through his former and present acts, as well as his contributions to The Tiny Giants Collective (R.I.P.) It wasn’t until a chance run in at a local Home Depot last year that we really had the opportunity to engage one another in any substantial way. In co-creating Document Fanzine. I felt the need to not only reach out and support the bands, but to do the same for the ones recording, releasing, documenting and supporting them. For myself, as well as those he’s worked with, Skylar embodies just that. Thanks Buddy. J.D.

James: Most of the recording engineers I come across are older guys who were musicians long before ever making it to the other end of the console. I’m pretty sure you’re the youngest one I know to have the kind of experience you do. Can you give me a little background on your time as a musician and what originally inspired you to get behind the console?

Skylar: I started out on electric guitar when I was 10 years old. Playing in bands took up most of my free time for the next decade and a half. Reed Adler (my older brother/The Nico Blues/The Sound is Fine), Eric Goldberg (TNB/NGHTCRWLRS/All Sensory Void), Dan Goldberg (TNB/ASV), and I used to drive to elementary school together. Reed and Eric are the reason I became obsessed with rock ‘n roll. They used to play Nirvana and Green Day and Oasis on our way to school every day.

I switched over to drums when Reed picked up a guitar and was better than me after a month, even though I’d been playing for a couple years. My interest in recording grew naturally since I was about 13. My parents bought me a shitty digital 8 track. I messed with that for a while. In high school, I convinced myself that I could figure out how to record my current band at the time. I fell down that rabbit hole fast. A decade later, I’m still working every day to learn as much as I can.

James: Have you had any proper training or degree in the field? Or has it been a “learn as you go” baptism?

Skylar: I spent 4 years at SUNY Purchase in the Studio Production program. At the end of one year, I handed in The Nico Blues’ Blame the Boredom, Blame the Basements. At the end of my senior year, I handed in Die Happy. It’s hilarious when what you are doing anyway in your free time fulfills some big “end of semester project”. I think Die Happy was my thesis haha… It was fucking great. Met some good friends there.

Skylar Ross Recording Control Room New

Despite those 4 years, everything I currently know about being a recording engineer is from making mistakes at one time or another. That’s really the only way to learn what works and what doesn’t.

James: How does your experience as a musician help you, if at all, as a an engineer?

Skylar:I think having a bunch of experience playing music and being in bands for most of my life plays a very big role in who I am as an engineer.

I really connect with the passion and life of the bands trying to get their music out there. I’ve had some less than great experiences recording in studios where the engineer absolutely did not give a shit. It’s ridiculous. I just feel honored to have the chance to do this at all. Personal experiences like that have really helped shape the way I interact with the bands I record.

James: Correct me if I’m wrong. (And I often am.) Aren’t you working with           Jungle City Studios? If so, how did the opportunity come about?

Skylar: I worked at Jungle City Studios for a year after I graduated from SUNY Purchase. Prior to Jungle City, I’d just been running my own studio. So, it was a great experience entering the (often bizarre) world of the Top 40 hip-hop and pop game. After a year there, I decided to shift my full focus into my own studio. Jungle City was awesome though. There were a lot of characters there.

James: What made you think and… in the end, decide to build a home studio?     Can you tell me about the building process?

Skylar: The studio has gone through many phases. When I first decided to invest in recording equipment, I purchased a very basic setup. We used to just have band practice where the studio is now. This early recording setup was intended to capture some live practices and new song ideas. But then it developed into me recording and mixing my band’s full length Tall Tales of Tiny Giants (that’s where the name “Tiny Giant” in the Tiny Giant Artist Collective came from) and recording other bands on the cheap.

Skylar Ross Recording Live Room

Early on, I decided to put most of the money I made recording right back into the studio. There have been a bunch of people who have helped me put up walls and doors and acoustic treatment over the years. I’ve spent a crazy amount of time reading and learning as much as I could about recording studio acoustics and equipment. I’ve just taken it one step at a time. About a year ago, we built a second wall and door between my live room and control room to help isolate the noise between the two rooms. We also upgraded all of our acoustic treatment to help balance out the frequency response of those two rooms. All this stuff was done to simply help achieve better quality recordings.

James: While studio time can be expensive. Recording equipment IS quite expensive. What do think are some of the benefits of owning compared to renting?

Skylar: Yeah. Recording equipment is stupidly expensive. I occasionally used to rent some crazy vintage tube microphones and rack gear. Just for a day or two. It’s interesting to hear how a $12,000 microphone from the 60’s performs. We thought Evan Campbell broke one of them once while recording some loud vocal parts at the end of The Nico Blues’ track Sinking or Standing. He almost had to flee the country. But to answer your question, when in the studio nearly every day, renting equipment would cost way, way more than purchasing does.

James: I can’t say, exactly, what I was expecting. But I was really impressed with what you’ve done. The place is very clean and professional looking. 

Skylar Ross Recording Desk Close

Skylar: Thank you so much!

James: What bands / musicians have you worked with thus far?

Skylar: A few include Morning…, Lake Effect, Adam and the Plants, Bloody Your Hands (ex: I Am The Heat), Johanna Samuels, All Sensory Void, La La Lush, Blue Chip Village (now known as Gone Quite Mad), Delicate Flowers, Dad Brother, Tory Anne Daines …

All The Nico Blues albums and The Sound is Fine EP too like I talked about above. Apart from engineering the drums (I played drums for those two bands), the rest was recorded in my studio.

There’re a handful of others, but that’s a pretty good chunk off the top of my head.

James: Is there something special you bring to the table or offer that sets you apart?

Skylar: Hmm. I just really, seriously enjoy working closely with musicians to create the best recordings possible. It’s just totally worth it to me to work insane hours if it will result in an output that is special to people. Even if it’s just the bands themselves.

Skylar Ross Recording Organ

The space I’ve set up here is meant to be completely unintimidating. I use much of the same equipment as the gigantic recording complexes, but I try my best to keep things very relaxed. That’s when the best shit happens.

At the end of the day, I just love seeing bands that feel inspired by and completely excited about the record they’ve created out of thin air and are about to release. That means the world to me.