Archive for May, 2011

Upon a lazy Wikipedia or Google search of “Communipaw”, you’d find that it’s a community within Jersey City, NJ and one of America’s earliest European settlements, however, upon closer inspection Communipaw is a folk rock band from New Brunswick, New Jersey. Their quality lo-fi sound is accompanied by a contrast of fragile vocals, gritty, twangy guitars and straightforward drumming. With one listen of their songs “The Morning Hours” (found on their Facebook page) and “I Admit” this typically pop-rock filled brain was intrigued; the band conjured up memories of beautiful western sunsets and recalls the sounds of Ester Drang (circa Infinite Keys), Aqueduct and some of the aspects of Field Music. Communipaw’s music is the strangest and most beautiful mix of stripped down folk while still being full, lush and full of hopeful from the strumming of the guitar to the harmonies created. Communipaw treads water in multiple genres, but few bands do so with such stealth and success. The quartet stitches together the longing and bittersweet using Brian Bond’s vocals and the hopeful, transparent and tenacious package contained in the guitar work and syncopated drumming.

Communipaw by Come to Cicero’s on May 31st to see Communipaw exhibit their brand of dynamic rock; show starts at 8p and Communipaw will be joined by The Otto Modest and Scarlet Tanager (both St. Louis local bands). This show is sure to please your ears and open you up to some great new music. I caught up with Communipaw in anticipation of Tuesday’s show and here’s what they had to say.

Describe your sound in your own words.

Folk rock.

How did you get your start, both as a band and individually, as musicians?
We were all more or less a part of the same scene in New Brunswick, NJ. One of our mutual friends used to run a show house that unfortunately got shut down in May of 2007. So to mark the final show there Brian (singer/songwriter) and I (keith – drums) played an impromptu set together. We were joined not long after by Dave who plays bass. We’ve played with two other guitarists, including Brian’s brother PJ Bond (who left the band to explore his own solo music [def give him a listen – he’s great!]). Justin our current guitarist joined the band the spring of 2010 and has been with us for most of our touring.
How do you go about self-releasing the albums? Can you explain, in detail, the process of self-releasing and how you feel this may be a benefit to you? Are there any downfalls to this method?
Self releasing a record can be a lot of pressure, but we don’t think too much about it. We’ve self-released all three of our records and honestly i don’t really think it occurred to us to do it any other way. We record all of our own music so there’s no real monetary overhead in making records – it’s just the investment of materials once we decide to put a record out. We did put a lot of thought into packaging our latest release, Big Blue, though. We wanted it to look different from our other records and thought that it should outwardly reflect the work we put into the music. We decided to package each CD with a handwritten lyric booklet and a photo collage poster, all in a gift box with a hand-stencilled graphic and some yarn. The record has this great homemade craft-y look and we’re really excited about it.
With regard to labels, it’s great that we’re pretty much financially independent and all the money we make from cd sales can be recycled back into making more CDs, but it’s a drag fronting all that bread up front. A record label can offer you promotion, and while we love being involved along every step along the creative trail, I guess it would be nice sometimes to be able to focus on fewer elements.
What do you do in preparations for touring? Do you set up the tours yourself?
We’re lucky enough to have a booking agent in our friend Jeff Meyers with Beartrap booking, so most of what’s left for us is picking the books we’ll be reading. Musically we’re always changing things, playing songs in new ways, and most of those changes come in the middle of the tour as result of us playing night after night.
What kind of music do you guys listen to while on the road/What’s on your iPod?
We’re been going through kind of an obsessive Dylan phase lately – mostly Blood on the Tracks. Neil Young, Wilco, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, S.M.O.G. + Bill Calahan, a lot of jazz – all fixtures for us. Lately we’ve been digging Tame Impala, Cass McCombs, Roy Harper, 50s and 60s gospel music and are always previewing records on that NPR Music app.
After touring as much as you do and to all the different places you’ve been – do you collect a lot of albums from bands you’re playing with, like local type bands? Are there any smaller or local bands anywhere that you’d like to make people aware or or recommend?
We’re always trading records with bands we share bills with. it’s like a form of communication and idea sharing. We’ve been really fortunate to play with a lot of really great bands – right now we’re on the road with this sunny boy/girl sixties-pop-ish band called Destry – we’ve been opening for them and playing as their backing band for the last two weeks, so you should definitely try to peep their record Waiting On an Island!

About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. She also loves to talk to her cats, walk around the duck pond judging duck hair-do’s and collect vinyl records. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello! 

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Washington D.C. has a rich history in music and many alleged and self-imposed music connoisseurs are quick to spout out names like Bad Brains, Henry Rollins, and Fugazi all in one breath. However, D.C. bands strive to cast away the punk rock, emo and post-hardcore genre. U.S. Royalty is one of those bands working hard to prove their worth in the D.C. market, go beyond atypical genre labels and take their brand of blues-tinged, modern-American soul filled rock and roll. U.S. Royalty rolled through Cicero’s last week making new fans at every guitar stroke and drum beat. Here’s what singer John Thornley and drummer Luke Adams had to say prior to the show when I had a chance to catch up with them.
How’d you start the band?

John Thornley – My brother and I started writing songs together and teamed up with Luke and Jacob to start fleshing out the songs as a full band. We were rehearsing in a pink trailer in st marys county MD. Then started traveling to test the songs out on the road. Our first album is a culmination of those first 2 years traveling America and figuring out what we our sound is.

Explain your sound in your own words.

Luke Adams – Sweaty American rock n roll

What types of venues are your favorite to play? After being out on the road so often I’m sure there are favorite cities and/or venues to play, care to share which ones are your favorites and why?

LA – We like venues and crowds we can interact with. The closer they can get to the stage, the better. Shubas in Chicago and Pianos in New York have have always provided us with a good time.
Who are some of your musical influences?  Many people point out that it’s easy to point out that you draw a lot from Fleetwood Mac’s sound, but what is your personal take on it?

JT –  From a production standpoint it was a conscious decision. Leading up to the recording of the album we hadn’t been able to get recordings that captured what we envisioned  our sound to be.  So when recording the album we were taking cues from some of their albums since we listened to them all the time anyway.  Theres a close, warm quality to the sound.  And we wanted to mix that with a sort of sweeping sphagetti western sound.

 You’ve released your first full length album this year in January. How did the recording process come together? Did you learn anything from recording your first full length album? What can you impart to new or up-and-coming bands going through the same thing/recording process?

JT – We didn’t use a producer. We worked with Gus Oberg who is a great engineer. He really helped us hone the sound we were looking for.   We are really starting to enjoy the recording process now that we have more of a handle on it.  I would say for other bands, not to wait for all the right pieces to fall into place. That may never happen. Just write, ,perform, record and out of that keep what makes you happy. That’s all I can say at this early point in our career.

How is the tour with Third Eye Blind going? What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on this tour?

JT – Going really well. The band and crew are great to be around.  The audience has been really responsive, considering alot of these people haven’t  heard us.

About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. She also loves to talk to her cats, walk around the duck pond judging duck hair-do’s and collect vinyl records. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello!