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

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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