Archive for the ‘Music Venue’ Category

Getting emails every single day from “hot new” bands can be a bit harrowing; sure, every band has their story and has their sound but how many of them are going to stand up to the big guys? Which bands will warrant multiple listens, and not just because you can’t decide whether you like them or not, but because with each repeated listen you find something else you like or some awesome element you might have missed on prior listens? Music trends are much like clothing trends – things that were old become new again, which is fine…sometimes. Right now the trend in indie rock is, somewhat unfortunately, folk-tinged indie rock. 90% of these bands sound like one another, a cheap version of whoever it was that inspired them or perhaps a  strange amalgamation of Top 40 cutesy-pop with banjo or 12 string-twang indie rock that just doesn’t work for anyone. It’s easy to check the delete button in my email box when I read lines like “authentic roots record” or  “a sweeping journey across coasts and five cities into fleeting highs and empty houses”  without even checking the band out. Why? Because it’s garbage, beautiful fluff to lull me in to a false sense of security, telling me that I’ll absolutely adore this band because it’s so much different from that other band. But it’s not.

Beth Bombara, Jes Kramer

Beth Bombara

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m going to attempt to use my beautiful words (and the praising words of others) to tell you that there is something better out there. A folksy artist who isn’t pinned down under the booted foot, the heavy genre titled “folk”, or hell, even indie-folk. What makes Beth Bombara so different? Her difference. Yep. I know that sounds silly but I’ve also been guilty of brandishing strange genres and creating crude associations but Bombara’s the real deal. For years I’ve heard several of my local St. Louis music cohorts sing the praises of Bombara, but no one even comes close to singing those as well as the actual Beth Bombara. Her voice is rich, lush and so full of texture you’ll need an extra Wheach from the Cicero’s venue bar to wash it down. I’ve been guilty of only casually listening to Bombara but am now the proud owner of all three of her albums; the acoustic album Abandon Ship (2007), the full band recording of the album Beth Bombara and the Robotic Foundation (2009) (which happens to be my favorite), and her latest, from 2010, Wish I Were You. Sure, I got on the boat a bit too late – but I at least caught it. And listening to the maturation and progression of Bombara as an artist has been the lifesaver that drug me aboard.

Bombara’s vocal talent is arresting and easy to detect as it’s the most exposed element in the recording(s). But what really shines, especially upon those repeated listens, is how Bombara crafts her songs. Every song feels meticulously constructed but sung and strummed with such ease, an organic and comfortable progression can be found in every song. Those natural elements are what wraps the listener up, like their favorite blanket, as they listen from album to album.

Lucky for you, Beth Bombara is a local gem. Even luckier? She’s playing at Cicero’s on Friday night with a stellar line-up to boot. St. Louis’ precocious and brilliant Née will bring her own brand of unique and fun, dance-worthy tunes, featuring an equally outstanding vocal charm. Also on the bill for Friday’s exceptional show are The Pistolbrides and Jes Kramer. Bring $8 to Cicero’s at 8:30p on Friday and you’ll walk in knowing that your money was well spent and your Friday got a massive upgrade featuring beautiful voices and a crack at something great and new.

 

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. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello! 

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Genre slinging and coming up with a catchy, funny and notable new genre are done all too easily in the musical realm anymore – gone are the days of simply labeling some as rock, pop, country or hip-hop. However, of all the genres being bandied about one that intrigued me recently was “Death Gospel”. Gospel music, in it’s own right, can be catchy, obviously spiritual and uplifting, though with the connection of the grimness and sorrow of death, a clearer definition was necessary. While the genre Death Gospel conjures up negative connotations of death and life spent underground, Arcuragi and his backing band, The Lupine Chorale Society are out to extinguish the sads by bringing Death Gospel to life in the form of celebratory rollicking Americana folk-rock. Arcuragi’s songwriting is precise and exacting, the backing vocals provided by guest collaborators and members of The Lupine Chorale Society. The celebration of humanity isn’t just contained in records – the presentation of Adam Arcuragi and The Lupine Chorale Society in a live setting is a ceremony to be witnessed best live. La Blogotheque was lucky enough to capture one of these festivities in a New York Flea Market in 2008 and the band has been gaining ground (and fun) since. Find the video at the bottom of the interview, or better yet come to Cicero’s tomorrow, Monday, July 25th to witness the fun and beauty of Arcuragi’s Death Gospel in person. I caught up with Arcuragi through email recently and asked him about the genre, recording and the success of their SXSW 2011 outing.

Where did you get  your musical start and how did that start translate to the projects you’re currently working on/that became you [Adam Arcuragi] and The Lupine Choral Society?

Adam Arcuragi: This incarnation of the band started with Andrew playing slide guitar with me in a version of the band in New York. Then we met Jack in Atlanta. Matt was Jack’s roommate. Harrison knew Jack from Greensboro, NC and Henry just happened to have been on the same high school track team as the band’s manager.

Your recording for I Am Become Joy has laughter and conversation from the actual recording process left in it – was this recorded in analog form? Also, what made you choose to keep that intimacy in tact on the record?

AA: No, we did not record to tape for that album. In terms of the intimacy idea, I don’t think we thought of it as intimacy. I think you have different timbers that you favor from record to record and the sound we focused on and played with was the human voice and how it blends with other voices. I think it is also safe to say that the laugh at the beginning is one of the most positive sounds ever recorded.

In an interview from 2 years ago, you’d said that if you’d “taken more time some songs would’ve got fixed” but that if everyone  had their say due to being a consummate artist that everything would have been fixed or picked at – do you think that if everyone had their say the recordings would possibly suffer for the listener? What do you think would have been left of the songs or, furthermore, the record?

AA: “Fix” is a bad choice of words. I don’t mean to imply that there is a platonic ideal of a song out there in the aether. I should have said that you can always tinker with a recording. So in a situation like making a record it is nice for me to have some constraints to help me not just be some tourist gawking at all the possibilities.

The ridiculousness of genre identifying knows no bounds in today’s ever-evolving musical realm and I know several have asked, but please explain the definition of “Death Gospel” that you’ve labeled yourself with. Do you feel this descriptor sets you apart from others or maybe piques the curiosity of possible show attendants? Why or why not?

AA: It is funny you should ask that because just the other day my manager got an internet alarm and sent me a link to what ends up being a page on Wikipedia about Death Gospel. We’re still not sure who put it up but they did it scientifically. (Find the link here.)

You were deemed a “breakout band” from this years SXSW by quite a few notable names and publications. Has that put any extra stress on the band? How has it affected the bands attitude and work ethic, either positively or negatively?

AA: No, the band doesn’t feel any pressure. I can say with a high degree of certainty that it hasn’t gone to their heads. They are still really in a really nice groove. They’re my pageant babies making momma proud.

It’s been said, and is extremely evident in photos and videos, that your live act is entertaining and more than an atypical show on any given night. Given the fun-loving attitue of the band and the music you perform, how, in your own words, do you think you make your shows more fun and entertaining?

AA: We have a great mix of talented people that are totally complimentary in both style and personality. It has become a joy and not a chore and really affords us the weird pleasure of hitting a point where we are both comfortable and excited.

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! 

Photo by Susan Logsdon

It’s no short order to mix the influences of six people while creating your own unique niche and create a lasting stamp on your hometown crowd. Upon my first time ever hearing of Scarlet Tanager I was stunned; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I heard bits and pieces of several artists, old (I mean older than me, 1950’s and 60’s groups) and new but before I could put my finger on one artist they sounded like they would effortlessly drift to another sound or influence. Somehow this group kept their influences intact without completely ripping them off and they owned their sound. From the vocals to the rhythm section and beyond, this would be the group that restored my faith in local music. This sextet was indie pop and everything great about pop music, with a bit of homegrown twang, in general.

Scarlet Tanager is one of St. Louis’ most well-kept secrets and most precious gems, as Susan Logsdon sings in her wistful, dreamy aural arena and her five band mates (including her husband, brother and sister-in-law) create the perfect mix of warm 60’s charm and the best elements of all that is right in indie pop. Scarlet Tanager explores themes relevant to nearly anyone but no one captures their light as well as Susan and the gang. If Susan’s brutally honest lyrics sung in her outstanding vocal gamut ranging from soft lulls to full bodied croons doesn’t nab your attention the musical palette of the musicians assisting her certainly will. To paint a better picture of what you’ve been missing out on, I took it upon myself to introduce you to St. Louis’ ‘most-satisfying-to-listen-to’ up and coming band.

Describe your sound in your own words. What kind of music does Scarlet Tanager play?

Michael Logsdon: Indie Pop is probably the best description. We’re just trying to play the type of music we enjoy. We have a lot of influences but trying to balance out influences with our own personal sound and six band members can be difficult. Susan comes from a singer/songwriter background but we’re eclectic, we try to bring a lot of 50’s type of pop in to the mix, too.

Every band has influences beyond what the audience may hear; what are influences of yours that may or may not be obvious to audience ears? How do any of those influences affect your sound and how do you mix those to fit that eclectic and unique style?

Susan Logsdon: My influences definitely include Patsy Cline and her 50’s pop sound. I also really like Feist and Regina Spektor. Bright Eyes and Deathcab for Cutie are influences, too, for the both of us [Michael and I], I think.

ML: Yeah, I definitely include Bright Eyes but I also really like Los Campesinos and like to include them as an influence that you can hear in Scarlet Tanager, like with the group vocals and just lots of energy. There’s something primal about just singing your guts out on stage like that and I also really like to include vocal harmonies. It’s funny because when Susan starts to come up with a song she’ll come to me and tell me she’s got a new one. I’ll listen to it and then I’ll hear something in it that she maybe didn’t consciously mean to do, but it still sounds like her or like Scarlet Tanager, very unique and then I’ll add my influences. It’s neat because having six people from different backgrounds keeps it interesting. Jordan (keys/vocals) comes from a theatre background and is really good with harmonies, Josh is kind of a rocker, you know. We just have to keep each other balanced, we make sure that the sound or our style doesn’t get out of hand and that nothing just comes out of left field.

SL: No, we all get along, we’re a very democratic band. Everyone has such good insight and it keeps us all contained. It’s really cool and a lot more fun to get everyone’s opinions on things before we move on and complete projects.

How did you get your start? And how or where did you meet the whole crew of band members?

ML: I think I like my side of this story better [laughs]. In college I played in a band called Roses at Your Feet. A Greenville buddy of mine led me to Susan when he was talking about “girls who do awesome music” and Susan went to Greenville. I thought she was great and it was intimidating! She came to see my band’s show and my friend Jason introduced me to her and all I could really say was “I heard your music! That’s you!” After the show we all went out to Denny’s and I just laid it on thick – I figured I had no chance of bombing because I wasn’t sure I’d see her again but I kept telling her that I was a fan of her and her music. Like, I was a fan of hers before I’d even met her. We started Myspace messaging each other and she came back and we started dating. She even wrote a song about me and that was in 2006.

SL: [laughing at Michael] Yeah, I thought he was…hot stuff. That’s the first time I’ve ever said that [continues laughing]! There was a lot of shameless flirting between the two of us. I made fun of him a lot but it must have worked because we messaged one another all summer and then started dating. But this is the first band that I’ve ever been in and he’s [Michael] has always been there for me and Josh, my brother. And Josh and Jordan are married to each other, too, so that’s really nice to have as a support system as a band and family.

ML: As a band, though, Scarlet Tanager has been together for about a year. We started assembling all the parts a year and a half ago out in West County. There was always a lot of music around us, like when we were in college at Greenville [Susan and some of my friends] and Carbondale [where I was] music and good musicians weren’t hard to find.

SL: We found Matt through church and Dustin from Greenville, but he was also in Michael’s band. Josh was getting serious with Jordan and we wanted to ask her to come join us. So, that was great how it worked out.

ML: It came together so quick that deciding on what we wanted our sound to be was hard. We kept asking ourselves what we wanted this to be. Every song sounded so different and we were trying to find some cohesion. After a few practices and meetings with one another, we came closer to our sound.

SL: Micahel played keys on a few songs, then he’d go play the guitar and Josh would play acoustic. It got hard to picture Scarlet Tanager without an acoustic. Our first show was filmed and after watching it felt that Josh’s talent on acoustic was being wasted. The guitar (electric) sound came to fit our sound, that 60’s pop tone just fit naturally.

Can you tell us about the forthcoming album? This will be your first record and you seem to be doing all of the work on your own, very DIY.

ML: The new album has definitely been a long time coming. Since we started we’ve wanted to record. For the past almost year we’ve done our own recordings. We won some studio time with Jupiter Studios and Josh and I have recording experience but this was a bit out of our zone [at Jupiter]. We took to doing home recordings in the garage and we fix it up and it sounds great. We decided to do the recordings and try to set a date for songs and production and recordings done. Fingers crossed we’ll be all ready and done by the show! The album is very representative of Susan and who she is. Susan is homemade; she’s just great at everything and is a natural at everything she does. Susan is working on the artwork and is screen printing all of the albums, she’s done the planning for it.

The mixing for the album was done by Josh and I. He and I split the duties and each took a few songs to get the whole album done. The mixes were coming out a little different but it was great because we’d bounce ideas off of each other and come up with some really good stuff. But then one night I was driving home listening to a song I was going to mix and I came up with this great idea for a music video. I sat on the idea for a week because I was a little embarrassed but I threw the idea out there and then we all talked about it, made a storyboard and got scenes and the video completely forumulated.

Photo by Susan Logsdon

Wow, a music video, especially DIY, is a huge undertaking! What can you say about the video and where/when will it be available for viewing?

SL: The video was a crazy project, lots of fun! It started as a simple idea but the whole thing just took on a life of its own. Our garage was taken over by the puppets and the sets for the puppets, outfits – we made over 30 outfits for the puppets.

ML: It’s for what’s probably the quirkiest song on the album and came up with the idea for the video with puppets and having a puppet for each member of the band. We set a deadline of 2 weeks for the video to be shot and produced, made – the whole thing, we wanted to do it in two weeks. We worked on it every night for about a month and a half until it was done but it was great because it brought everyone in the band together, all working on something for the group. The video will be premiered at the CD release show on Friday (June 24th) and will also go up on YouTube, Vimeo our Facebook, everywhere.

What’s next for the band?

SL: We don’t have a manager but we’ve definitely talked about it. We’ve done all the work, obviously all the work for the album but also booking and scheduling all of our own shows. We’ll do the work for booking like emailing venue managers and bookers but this is our dream.

ML: Yeah, this is it for us – what we’ve always wanted to do. It’s one of those things where if this doesn’t work then we’ll have kids, but this is what we want to do now. This is something we’ve worked so hard for and something we love doing and we’re looking to do whatever it takes for us to get to that next level.

Join Scarlet Tanager on Wednesday, July 20th at Off Broadway along with Tone Rodent and My Gold Mask. Doors at 8:30p and show starts at 9p.

Original interview can be found at Starla at the Show and Music of the Hour, published June 22, 2011.

Hearing names like “Coco”, “Poni” and “Jem” used nonchalantly, as nicknames, typically conjures up thoughts of cartoon characters or maybe roller derby players – not rock and roll musicians. Based out of Nashville, Tennesee, The Ettes have put a much sexier edge to your regular idea of punchy garage-bands. This once a quartet, now a trio with a new bass player, has seen it all and cataloged it in their fun, raucous, satisfying mix of punk, rock and a little bit of that Nashville twang – with much rougher edges, that is. Be sure to clear your calendar for Saturday, June 11th as The Ettes come to Cicero’s to deliver their rock talent, sure to make you dance, clap, scream and sweat in a heap full of fun. Lindsay “Coco” Hames, lead guitarist and singer, filled me in on some of The Ettes fun, including Drew Barrymore extending an invitation to be on her film, Whip It, soundtrack and sharing bills with some stellar musical companions. 
You had a track (“Crown of Age”) appear on the Whip It soundtrack; how does getting feature on a soundtrack usually work? Does the film producer or film’s music person come to or…? Explain the process.
Drew [Barrymore] approached me personally actually, at one of our shows at SXSW.  I am picky about what our music gets used for, but I love Drew, and I loved the film.  We were out with Juliette Lewis around that time too, and Juliette was in the film, it was kind of a no-brainer, in terms of how great all the people involved were.
As a former derby girl, I have to ask…what did you think of the film using one of your tracks as a “derby” girl type of anthem? What did you think of them using your song to correlate to roller derby?
We Ettes are massive derby supporters.  Derby girls are rock and roll, so we always get along.  Hard working, great sense of humor, constantly covered in bruises… we’re pretty much the same, but they’re on wheels!  I thought that was a great derby anthem.  It’s a song about living and learning, so what a good scene to use it in, the climactic sort of moral victory for Ellen Page’s character.  It’s less about “derby” than it is about human emotion, really, so it works for me on several levels.
You’ve shared the stage with some pretty massive names in rock and roll; how does it feel to headline your own gigs?
Funny thing is, we started OUT headlining our own gigs.  They were just tiny gigs, is all.  There’s just a difference between playing a massive arena for 6,000 screaming girls and playing a 500 capacity club where people are listening intently… we play the same, I’ve noticed, for 2 people or 20,000, whether we’re headlining or not.  We’re always respectful when we’re supporting other headliners, but I think we’ve got a lot of personality, ha.  I think we treat every show we play as a headlining show.
Your newest album, Wicked Will, is set to be released August 2nd. Can you tell us a bit about this album? How does it differ from your last? How was the recording process?
I love Wicked Will.  It’s got some really amazing bangers on there, as well as some creepy country songs, which are some of my favorites to write.  We almost always go to Toe Rag because — as a three piece — dynamics are important, space between sound, elements of sound.  No one gets that better than Liam.  I want my vocal to sound the way I sound, Jem’s bass leading the music, and I want that kick drum in my face.  There’s plenty of that!
Do you have any favorite types of venues or cities that you like to play?
The tour we did with the Dead Weather last year had us playing at a bunch of venues we hadn’t played before, some of which turned out to be my favorites ever.  I gotta love me some Cain’s Ballroom, and the show in Albuquerque was amazing.  We’ve been on the road for a solid 7 years (like… 7 years without a break, at all!) so we’ve played just about everywhere.  Anywhere where the music is loud and the people are paying attention, it’s a great time.
What’s been the most insane thing to happen to you while on tour?
Totally impossible to answer.  Too many wild and unbelievable things.  It’s a game, really, that way, on the road.  Other touring friends will tell some totally insane story from the road, and we’ll nod our heads and go “mm hm, one of those” because it all happens, all the time.  I have a scar on my shoulder I do not appreciate from a fan who bit me in the Black Forest in Germany last year.  It’s all right though, she was just expressing her enthusiasm, I can’t blame her for that.
In terms of the set list, with a new album coming out does it change the way you structure your sets? How so?
Well we get excited about playing newer stuff, because it’s new and exciting to us.  And potentially (likely) a stronger representation of who we are now.  But we’ve gone to plenty of other shows as fans, we know people want to hear their favorites, too.  It changes every night.  We play to the crowd.  You want it?  Ask for it, you just might get it!
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! 

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! 

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! 


Intimacy during rock ’n’ roll shows isn’t easily created. Many factors play into the effect: the size of the venue, the fans and their eclectic mix of attitude and beer coursing through their veins and, most importantly, the artists on stage pouring their hearts out through song—laying it all out while raking fingers across guitars, pounding their drums, singing into the mic with eyes closed. Tampa’s GreyMarket spilled their hearts out for fans at Cicero’s on Friday, March 25, establishing a personal relationship with those in attendance, then leaving them in a dreamlike haze, anticipating more music to come.

It’s rare that a duo can command such regard and can fill a room with an encompassing and grandiose sound. Thanks to technology and a keen set of ears for programming, what at one point may have only been noise is turned in to beautiful accompanying music for guitarist/vocalist Cave McCoy and drummer Michael Gargiulo. Fully adorned in their semi-formal garb of black, white, and gray shades, the duo took to the stage and opened with a new song, “Mother of All Bombs.” After setting themselves up on a high note and making one hell of a first impression, the pair moved into a trio of songs plucked in order from their 2008 album Some Orbits Will Never Decay. The merge of twinkling guitar and keyboards, propelling rhythms and explosive lights, only added to the aura of GreyMarket’s special brand of massive yet intimate music.

“Cascade (Down the Rabbit Hole)” was a firm and powerful number; the Alice in Wonderland–themed rollick had fans both old and new, as well as McCoy himself, erupt in to a show of hands clapping, arms flailing, bodies breaking out in kinetic dance, and the guitarist rushing out on to the venue floor, leaving it all out for others to thrive on. The show was packed with ferocity from the beginning, and in the end the two left pieces of themselves stuck to attendees like rock ’n’ roll confetti on sticky, sweaty skin. As everyone, including the band, thought it was over, they were surprised with a bit of extra time in which they treated everyone to “I’d Wait Years,” also from SOWND, as an encore. After McCoy crooned “I’d wait years for you” repeatedly in his decadent tenor, he and Gargiulo left the stage and joined those in attendance. The pair were genuinely appreciative to those who approached them, willing to shake hands and open to discuss music.

If you missed this show, you should be kicking yourself right now; see some of what you missed on their website, www.greymarketband.com. While listening online won’t create the same magic exhibited at Cicero’s on Friday night, it will give you a taste of the magic of GreyMarket. Oh…and watch this space for a return visit in July. | Jenn Metzler

 

Setlist:

“Mother of All Bombs”
“Waterworks”
“Hey, Mr. Spaceman”
“Make Sense”
“Back in Time”
“Cascade (Down the Rabbit Hole)
“Timebomb”
“Wings (Made of Steel)”

Encore

“I’d Wait Years”