Ray GotIt Justin Barnett

Interview with Ray GotIt by Justin Barnett

I drive to Charlotte and meet Ray at a mansion where he’s shooting his latest music video. The vibe is electric. His family and team are there cooking food and hanging out. Everyone’s super cool, chill, and welcoming. I take out my camera, grab some shots, and talk with Ray about where he’s headed next.

Ray GotIt is a rap artist living in Winston-Salem, NC. He’s released two mixtapes and has a full-length on the way. You can find his music on Spotify, Apple Music, or Spinrilla, where you can download his mixtapes for free.

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Noted in this interview are Justin Barnett (JB) and Ray GotIt (RGI).

 

JB: What’s been up with you?

RGI: Chasing a bag and preparing myself spiritually, mentally, & physically for my flight to Phoenix Arizona. A lot of changes. Ready to work with my new record label and
produce some great music. I’ve been on a promotion tour for a few weeks building my
following, but I’m ready to get back to work in the studio.

Ray GotIt NC

JB: How has your location affected your music?

RGI: It’s better for me in some ways. I’m able to make music that’s more relatable to the
masses since leaving home. The more I take in, the more I have to give to my fans.

JB: How has your traveling with the music been?

RGI: Great. It’s no feeling like gaining new fans and supporters who enjoy good music. You often get more support on the road over where you’re born and raised. I suggest every artist travels, whether you have a deal or not. Everyone you start with won’t make it to the end but you have to trust the process and move forward everyday.

“It’s always better to choose something over not choosing anything” —RGI

Ray GotIt Video Shoot

JB: What inspires your decisions in production?

RGI: I’m all about the vibes and energy of a beat. I like to kick back, smoke, and let the
instrumentals play. I choose with my heart, not my mind. I’m a storyteller, so I put pain
and passion on all my instrumentals. No trap rap. Everything heartfelt.

JB: What’s the story behind your name, Ray GotIt?

RGI: Honestly, the name came from just being a guy who ALWAYS finds a way to work
things out for others. Don’t matter what it is, I GOT YOU. “Man with the plan” is what
many called me. I often put others’ happiness before mine, and I used to take pride in
making their day even when I was in bad situations personally. I haven’t always had the
best solution or methods, but I’ve always cared enough to give those around me “the
best of me,” period. Effort is everything. I also made good money hustling in the streets
for several years before my first record deal. That gave the name “GotIt” a different
meaning to the public that also fit my life and what I had to offer to others. Nowadays I
feel God has blessed me with many talents and has chosen me to help change HIS
people through music.

Ray GotIt Music Video

Ray GotIt Photoshoot
Ray GotIt being filmed by his personal photographer, Antonyo Evans

JB: What impact do you want your music to have?

I want it to cause people to believe in themselves! I make music for those who are down
but NOT out. My music’s all pain/struggle mixed with positive messages. I need people to listen and meditate. Life has been a struggle for me, I just look better than what I been
through.

JB: If you had the choice to do a cross-genre collab with any famous artist, who would it
be?

RGI: Rihanna or Chris Brown

JB: What are some “bucketlist” type goals you have for your music career?

RGI: Billboard charts and getting booked overseas.

“Life has been a struggle for me, I just look better than what I been through.”

JB: Can you give us a hint on what’s next from Really Getting It?

RGI: Major flight to AZ up next… Huge video dropping on WorldStar this month… A lot of community events are being put in place this year for the kids who are less fortunate, sponsored by Gotit Ent. It’s time to show why God chose me!

Check Ray GotIt out on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Ray GotIt Spotify

Renowned Canadian Act ROSE CORA PERRY & THE TRUTH UNTOLD appears at Twin City RibFest : Artist Spotlight by Ross Barnes

An Interview and Artist Spotlight with Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold

Hot off their Los Angeles debut at the legendary Whisky a Go Go, award-winning Canadian rock trio Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold are giving hometown and international audiences alike a taste of their high energy and refreshing modern rock style this spring/summer.

Their LA show marks the beginning to what the group has deemed their 2018 “Canadian Invasion” tour in support of Perry’s latest album, Onto the Floor. Other boastworthy appearances have been confirmed, including: Vans Warped Tour (Toronto), International Pop Overthrow (Chicago), Jersey Shore Festival (New Jersey), East Coast Music Conference (Norfolk VA), and their North Carolina debut at Twin City RibFest.

Founded in 2005 by promoter Allen McDavid, Twin City RibFest prides itself on offering a “whole ‘nother type of ‘cue; something beyond Lexington style BBQ.” Designated as the Triad’s premier BBQ festival, the Twin City affair annually attracts thousands of BBQ enthusiasts with its champion pitmasters, marketplace, kiddie attractions and outstanding live music.

All ages are invited to attend and admission prices are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and active military, and free for children 12 and under. This 2018 RibFest runs from Thursday, June 7th, beginning at 11:00 am until Sunday, June 10th, ending at 7:00 pm at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds (421 27th St NW, Winston-Salem, NC, USA 27105).

 

Noted in this interview is interviewer Ross Barnes (RB); singer, guitarist, and songwriter Rose Cora Perry (RCP); drummer Tyler Randall (TR); and bassist/backup vocalist Amber Gorham (AG). This interview took place on May 24th, 2018, over email correspondence.

(Editor’s Note: Responses are presented largely unaltered—emoticons and all.)

RB: How did you first create Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold? How did you all meet, and have you played in musical groups before this current project?

RCP: The Truth Untold was formed in 2016 in conjunction with the release of my sophomore solo album, Onto the Floor.

I had been working on the cd for a couple of years and throughout that process the sound and direction of it evolved considerably. Accordingly, when it was all said and done, I didn’t feel doing a solo tour with only an acoustic in hand would do the material justice.

That’s when I first recruited Tyler via a local musicians group on Facebook. We clicked right away in terms of musicality and band direction and toured as a “reverse White Stripes”-esque project for just over a year.

Amber came into the picture when she was hired to do our live sound for a charity performance in our hometown. We adored her professionalism and working with her so much that we asked her to become our live sound tech and took her on the road with us to our Nashville Summer NAMM debut as well as when we opened for SmashMouth in Pittsburgh last year.

It didn’t take long for us to realize we wanted her as a permanent fixture in our band family.

We had sampled a rough demo of her vocal capabilities from her previous band one day coming home from a gig and I immediately knew her voice would mesh well with mine. We figured it didn’t make much sense for her to merely sing backups so we took it upon ourselves to teach her to play bass. Her third gig was at The Whisky a Go Go this January during NAMM week. No pressure right?

Prior to this band, I found success as the frontwoman for two rock projects: HER (an all-girl pop rock band formed with high school friends) and Anti-Hero (a grunge/alternative quartet).

Anti-Hero got a snazzy record deal and performed at major events including Vans Warped Tour in the early 2000s. I’m beyond excited that The Truth Untold is picking up just where that band left off and will be taking to the Warped stage too this summer.

 

TR: I have played in several musical groups before this band: one as a bassist and in the others as a drummer. I previously toured the East Coast with my last project. There were many good times to be had, along with many beautiful places to be seen.

 

AG: While working as their live sound technician, after a grueling gig Rose asked me about my own experience as a musician and a singer in past bands and if I had any audio recordings. I did have a demo that wasn’t quite finished but she liked my vocals in it, and they decided to ask me if I would be interested in learning a 13th instrument. 

I said, “Sure but I’ve never played bass before and I don’t have any gear.” Right away they said that was a non-issue and we started practicing, with them teaching me bass and Rose coaching me on vocals. 

There’s always going to be good and bad experiences of joining and collaborating with musicians. You get to know their quirks and styles and you start learning “who” they are as people and opening yourself up to them. But it’s a really beautiful thing connecting with someone through music and I’m grateful I was able to join Tyler and Rose as a member of The Truth Untold.

RB: How long have you all been playing together? How has your time together, playing as musicians, developed your synergy and your stage performance?

 

RCP: Tyler and I have been playing together now for about two and a half years while Amber is still the “band baby,” having just joined the project officially (and picking up the bass) about eight months ago.

Working with Tyler and Amber has honestly been a dream come true. I’ve been in previous bands with talented individuals, but a lack of professionalism, egos and/or a focus on the WRONG things over music (namely drugs and groupies) has always gotten in the way of my former projects reaching their full potential. I honestly feel this time I’ve got it right and I can say with absolute certainty working with both of them has made me a better musician and vice versa.

Tyler is 100% to blame for reigniting my love of distortion, while teaching and coaching Amber on bass and vocals has allowed me to hone my crafts further too. The most important part though is that we all genuinely like each other as people and are equally passionate about music. I believe that that shines through tremendously in our performances.

 

TR: I think we help each other grow as musicians and push each other to be better. 

 

AG: Our synergy and stage performance has been developed in our time spent rehearsing and figuring out what worked and what didn’t with our live arrangements.

Playing together is a very positive time for each of us and has allowed all of us to not only find what works for us as individuals but as a band. It’s a great experience and we love that our energy as a band leaks out and reaches the audience so they can feel what we feel.

RB: What is the process through which you write your songs? Is it a collective effort where music and vocals are written simultaneously or do instruments come first or do vocals come first?

RCP: It always starts with a melody and a hook. As a singer first and foremost, I deliberately structure my songs around my vocal lines. Once I have a tune that sticks in my head, I put pen to paper and start brainstorming lyric ideas.

My lyrics are inspired by my mood and personal experiences and/or events that have struck me emotionally. Songwriting, for me, is a very organic process and I never force a song if it’s just not there or if it’s not ready to be completed. Equally, I don’t believe in being confined by “structure.”

If I’m feeling a random tempo change in the middle of a song, so be it. If I want to write an epic 7-minute ballad, damnit I’m gonna. Art is about inspiration in my view and I don’t think it should ever be anything but genuine, raw and authentic.

The last individual step in my songwriting is charting out the chords on guitar. Once that’s figured out, the other instruments come into play and collectively arrangements are created in which we play off of each other’s strengths and ideas.

RB: Who are your musical influences? What artists inspired you to get into music?

RCP: Being a classically trained vocalist who once aspired to be on Broadway but instead found herself inadvertently recruited into a rock band has lead to—as I’m sure you can imagine—quite an extensive and diverse musical library. From Metallica to Loreena McKennitt to Norah Jones and Madonna, I listen to it all and am influenced by it all. I’ve gotten a ton of Alanis comparisons (perhaps because of the Canadian connection) and I’m TOTALLY okay with that as she was definitely a big influence growing up and is a tremendous vocalist and songwriter.

During my formative years of vocal training, my biggest inspirations by far were Sarah Brightman and Loreena McKennitt. Their voices are flawless and their tones are pure and beautiful. Anytime I listen to either of them, I’m completely spellbound. I hope to be that good one day.

When I became an angsty teenager searching for my rock sound and identity, I was absolutely taken by Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt. From the first moment I saw the music video for “Volcano Girls,” I was like “I wanna do that. I wanna be like them.” Equally, Nicole Hughes of Scratching Post (a killer band from my hometown) was one of my major teen idols for not simply her rock’n’roll badassery but further because she became a mentor to me as I began to teach myself the ins and outs of the music industry.

I feel honoured that we’ve remained in touch to this day and I still greatly admire what she’s accomplished for herself and the band she presently manages, Courage My Love.

TR: Currently my musical influences are: Travis Orbin, Mike Mangini and Intervals among many others.  There weren’t really any artists that inspired me to pick up an instrument. Instead, it was in part due to my friends playing around me and me getting the “musical itch.” Not to be confused with other types of itches.

AG: There’s a wide range of artists from across all genres that have influenced me: from the classics like Beethoven and Mozart, to Celtic artists, rock artists and metal acts. Great storytelling and connecting through music has always been what inspired me to pick up and start learning to sing or play an instrument—the lyrics and the emotion behind every note.

Artists like My Chemical Romance brought me out of my shell by relaying that there are others just like me out there and to not be ashamed. They gave me inspiration to play even when facing rejection and to constantly learn so you can be that guiding light for someone else out there.

RB: Do you have any favorite shows you have played? Least favorite? Have you had any nightmare shows while playing on the road? If so, how did you overcome them?

RCP: I think we will all likely respond with the same answer to the first part of your question: that performing at the Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood this past January was the most incredible experience of our musical journeys to date and it was a sincere honour to be accepted as equals among rockstars. We are so very honoured that we had this once-in-a-lifetime experience and it goes without saying that playing a club like the Whisky is on the “bucket list” for any indie band.

There have definitely been some “dubious” performances along the way but bad gigs are simply the nature of working in this industry and are something that everyone—whether signed to a major label or indie—goes through. Even the best bands in the world playing at the best venues in the world can have off-nights or off-experiences.

Promoters stiff you. Other bands on the bill can be assholes. Tech problems abound. You show up to your gig where you were promised a relaxing hotel stay prior to taking the stage, only to discover said “hotel” is nothing more elaborate than an ice fishing hut with zero ventilation (it’s 30+ degrees out) and is located so close to the sound system that it vibrates every time anything remotely musical occurs. Oh and that soundcheck will be taking place at 6 am, one hour after you’ve arrived from driving through the night. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything but I’ve heard about such things happening 😉 Lol.

I think the most important way to combat the “unpredictability” of gigs is to always prepare for the worst: what that means is that you should be so tight as a band that it doesn’t matter if your drummer’s kit sets on fire and your bassist gets tangled in her patch cords you will be able to keep playing.

Secondly and perhaps MORE importantly, professionalism is key. Even if everything goes wrong and you are somehow allotted with the blame, be courteous, nice and willing to try and solve the problem. Just cause someone is being unreasonable toward you doesn’t mean you need to return the “favour” nor will doing so help you in the long run. It sucks, but sometimes you gotta just “rock past it.”

TR: My favourite show so far was probably the Whisky a Go Go.  There have been a few lousy shows for sure, although I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of it.

I think if a band is tight enough, they should be able to compensate for most things that can go wrong in a live setting.

I try to have backups of equipment items that are more prone to breaking as a strategy. Should you find yourself playing live and something breaks, in my opinion, it’s best to finish the song before venturing off to look at the damage.

AG: The Whisky a Go Go would be one of the gigs that comes to mind that just made me go, “Wow. I want to be like this all the time. I want to feel like this and constantly play like this.” It was amazing.
There are always good and bad experiences with equipment but we make the most of it and practice so that we can play consistently and help inspire others. We know we have each other’s backs and that’s what helps us get through trying gigs. But the bad experiences—as much as they may not be ideal at the time—are also what make the great gigs that much more memorable.

RB: When you hear your music, how would you describe your vibe? Describe a scene where one of your songs would be the soundtrack. For example, a lake in the middle of a forest; a late night in a bar with friends ready to part ways; chaos of a busy city.

 

RCP: The unappreciated, overlooked, beaten down and underemployed masses in a totalitarian regime realize their worth, unify their efforts and revolt.

TR: Night time scenes driving through a city or maybe a chase scene in an adrenaline-pumping action movie.

AG: I would have to say it really depends on the song. Each one evokes so many different emotions through their melodies, but “hope” is a theme that is heard throughout…so something “hopeful” 🙂

RB: This one is for each member of the band. Name your three favorite musical artists you’ve ever played with or seen live.


RCP:

Played With: Scratching Post, Priestess, Jakalope

Seen Live: Norah Jones, Big Wreck and AC/DC (original lineup!)

TR: Intervals, Sonata Arctica and Big Wreck for best live bands I’ve seen and all of the awesome artists at The Whisky a Go Go for best bands I’ve played with.

AG: I’d have to say my three favourite performances all incorporated some sort of theatrics. My Chemical Romance I got to see a few times and watching the Black Parade album played live was amazing. Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie had themes and props that went along with the soundtracks of their tours as well. Telling a story is what brings these artists to mind.

As far as favourite bands we’ve played with live? We’ve really enjoyed making friends and sharing the stage with some incredible US acts recently including Wayfaring Soul, The Shrieks, Seconds to Live and The Poynt.

Acclaimed as one of the Top 10 talents across Canada, Rose Cora Perry & The Truth Untold are sure to fit the bill when they take to the Twin City Ribfest stage on Friday, June 8th, at 9:30 pm.Photography by Mystery Man Photography

An Interview with Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk by Ross Barnes

An Interview with Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk by Ross Barnes

On April 26th, 2018, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk after their listening party for their brand-new album, INSIDES. The entire experience has been breathtaking, from the beginning of the album to the end of the interview. Not only are the members of Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk incredible musicians, they are the kind of guys that can inspire and provide insight into the inner machinations of the soul through their art. Noted in this interview is interviewer Ross Barnes (RB), and band members Jacob Leonard (JL), Caleb Gardner (CG), Dane Walters (DW), and Jared Draughon (JD).

RB: To start us off, I’ll get a couple basic questions out of the way and then move on to questions about the album and your writing process and all that good stuff. So, first off, how long have you all been playing together?

CG: Our whole lives!

JL: It’s a complicated story. So as a collective, we’ve been playing together how long? A couple years?

DW: About a year.

JL: Not even a year as a four-piece. Me and Caleb, I played in my first band with Caleb when I was sixteen.

RB: Alright, I got that. So you have that lifelong musical chemistry built up between each other. You pretty much have how you work together down to a science and you’ve gotten to a point where you can just build off of that.

JL: Yeah, but with this project, I started it off as a solo project, with a drum machine, looping, and then me and Dane came together as the first—he was really the first addition to this project. Me and Dane really connected and we still connect. Two of the records with this project are solo records, after that was built between more than just me.

CG: I had seen these guys play as a duo at Delurk many years ago, what struck me about them is that they were really going through a bunch of different genres, eviscerating each one. And I was like, wow, these guys are killing this punk style, they’re killing this headbanging style, they’re killing this ambient style, and I wanted to be a part of that.

RB: With recording this album, what was the first nugget of inspiration for it?

JL: Well, I have the goal of releasing an album every year. And it didn’t happen on this project, but we’re always working on music, and this was just our natural progression as musicians. It was just time for us to release a record that represents us as a band. You know, because we had a two-piece record before that. So we just needed something representative as to what we are as a four-piece.

RB: Alright, I get where you’re coming from. So walk me through the creative process of a song. How does it come in to existence exactly?

JL: Life experiences, you know, we have traumatic pasts, we have beautiful pasts at the same time, so with all of the pain and depressions and experiences of life, music is my outlet for expression.

RB: Alright I get it, so you feel something and you translate that into a creative piece with sound.

CG: That’s just the start of the creative process. As a whole it’s very indescribable.

JL: I’m also going to be the most confusing person to get answers from.

RB: [Laughs] That’s really great on paper actually, or on screen or however.

CG: Seriously though, we are not going to be able to scientifically quantify creative experience. But generally, the songs start as demos, which are usually just shared recordings or pieces of songs that one guy puts forth, usually Jacob because he’s more of the singer/songwriter. Then we try to build parts to make sense, then we try to get the song to performance level, and once it gets to performance level we’re able to identify textures that work, and we’re able to see if there are any problems with the structure.

RB: How does recording work for you guys? Like, do you guys run through it track-by-track, do you record it collectively?

DW: How does the recording process work? That’ll probably be more of a question for him. [Points to Jared]

CG: Tell him J-Rod.

JD: Recording-wise we just started with drums and then layered everything else on top of that. We had to work on each part for a while and dial in the songs and figure out what we were going to do. But yeah, start with drums, and layer bass and guitar and vocals after that.

RB: So it’s a lot of layer and layer and layer, etc.

ALL: Yeah!

JD: We also do a lot of pre-production, like live, full recordings and demos beforehand. Once we knew what we were going for we would start layering.

RB: So what are your guy’s next move, after the release show at the Ramkat on May 4th? Do you have a tour lined up?

JL: Worldwide. I mean hopefully we’ll work it to everywhere, but really right now we’re just working up to the show next week.

CG: Hopefully everything is a great answer, but let me take a crack at it. So our record is going into wide release tonight. So through the typical avenues, Spotify, iTunes, hardcopy, we are releasing it. We have a few dates that we have planned in the region coming up, and after that we’re always looking for opportunities to branch out. We all have lives outside of music that we have to take care of, but regardless we’re always working toward growth and bigger opportunities.

JL: We’re playing Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Virginia Beach, and anywhere else in Carolina.

CG: Of course our main goal is to break even.

RB: Well of course, the absolute minimum goal that musicians have is to break even so the music can support itself.

CG: If the music can support itself, then you are a successful musician. And it’s tough overall.

RB: Do you have a favorite show you ever played?

JL: The Ramkat May 4th. Every show is our favorite show. Actually tonight is the best show we ever had, we didn’t have to load in equipment! Our set was flawless too! In all seriousness, we always look to the future people. Because in the end of it, we want our music to have an impact on people in the future. We have a lot of very important topics that we cover in our music, about the environment and the universe, and we try to keep a progressive mindset and image in order to be good inspiration and role models for the future musicians and future people of our planet.

RB: Do you have any experiences from past shows or even bands that stayed in your mind that helped you grow as a musician, or as a person?

CG: That’s a great question, I will always say the band Shiner from Kansas City, they have a record called The Egg. I saw them on tour when I was sixteen. They blew my mind and they made me want to play music.

DW: They were a real and earnest rock band.

JL: In terms of influence, we don’t really pull from music, we’re not copycats or anything like that.

CG: I would have to say that for me, a lot of local acts inspire me to continue being a musician, because we know them, we know what their lives are actually like. Like 1970s Film Stock, we know he’s married and then we see him put on a badass rock show, down at the Garage when it was still open.

JL: And that is what our record is all about. It’s about inspiring one another. That’s what we do for each other. And it’s even more to say that when we see a local band at a bar, it’s our goal to want to push them further and inspire them to go further. And hopefully they do the same thing back to us.

Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk can be found on Facebook at @darkprophettonguelessmonk. You can also find their compendium of music solo-written, duo-written, and full-band-written at darkprophettonguelessmonk.bandcamp.comPhotography by Morgan Jenea

Broadening The Horizons of Downtempo: A Review of ‘Sabella’s Dog Daze: Submission by Jason Cox

Broadening The Horizons of Downtempo: A Review of ‘Sabella’s Dog Daze: Submission by Jason Cox

A quick glance at the state of heavy music would quickly make one aware of how overpopulated the scene is with bands that more or less sound similar. Nowhere is this more apparent than downtempo, a subgenre which takes the deathcore formula and infuses it with elements of doom metal, where the beats per minute hover as close as possible to zero without surpassing the threshold of human perception. While the low and slow method is used by downtempo groups to concoct some of the darkest music available, the well of originality runs very shallow through the scene as a whole with the exception of a few of the style’s forerunners. It is for this reason that ‘Sabella is so important.

‘Sabella is a downtempo band hailing from Elmira, New York. Their first full length album, Dog Daze, was released in July of 2017, and though it is very popular with those in the loop, the record is in fact a vital gem waiting to be unearthed by the entirety of the heavy music community. The record is preceded by a two-song EP released in early 2017 titled Closed/Doors, a release in which the band appears to have begun bringing their unconventional blend of traditional hardcore vocals and lounge-like singing featured on the new record to a place of prominence. The album begins with a riveting introductory track called “Apriled,” which recounts a personal tale of infidelity and love lost. The song is absolutely beautiful and, without context, those unfamiliar would take ‘Sabella for an indie rock outfit, making the next track, “Long Stays,” much more powerful as listeners are forcibly boarded onto a fast, steel-plated Uber straight to Moshville. Passengers reach their destination at “W. Clinton,” a tough track written with a hardcore approach, where the vehicle passes through a fireworks factory before stalling. That’s when the bass line from “Thunder Bay” begins pulling listeners into a gloomy sing-along that melts into the slowest, dirtiest-sounding breakdown imaginable. The entire record does an excellent job of seamlessly blending tracks together into what feels like a single sonic story book as opposed to a track-by-track offering common among similar bands.

The best part of this album is the unexpected genre-swapping that occurs between songs like “Up Like This,” “River,” and “Free Fallin.” The album as a whole has a generally forlorn vibe, which mimics the internal struggle someone might have when dealing with feelings of a past lover, and these sandwiches of songs accurately reflect that mood. Aside from the incorporation of more accessible cross-genre songwriting, what sets ‘Sabella apart from their contemporaries is their focus on hardcore elements in their song construction. Triumphant blocks of power chords, which move in ways that resemble the works of the hardcore’s greatest players, appear in the album but they are far lower and more crushing than ever before. This seems like a method that would be overused by countless bands by now, but given the focus on metallic elements in downtempo music, the execution comes across as fresh and invigorating when listening to Dog Daze. Being able to pull from multiple demographics of show-goers, ‘Sabella has a bright future ahead of them.

Review of “Material Control”, the Newest Album from Glassjaw: Submission From Jason Cox

Review of Material Control, the Newest Album from Glassjaw: Submission From Jason Cox

There are few bands like New York’s post-hardcore pioneers Glassjaw. Noted for their unconventional approach to music, the group has enjoyed high levels of success and relevance despite having only released two full-length albums in the early 2000’s, paired with a handful of extended plays and singles. The fifteen-year gap between Glassjaw’s Worship and Tribute and their most recent full-length, Material Control, gives cause for great anticipation in fans of the band’s music, but how does the new record fair in the contemporary musical landscape?

Material Control marks both a return to Glassjaw’s sonic origins and a slight stylistic change in sound. Fans of the group will be no stranger to the bass lines of bassist/guitarist Justin Beck, who provides the album with a rich array of tonal colors that are pleasing to the ear. Along with this, returning listeners will appreciate the blend of melancholic beauty and agitated, crushing guitar work with which they will be familiar. But where the album truly separates itself from past records is its more chaotic writing style. Songs like “Pompeii” and “Bibleland 6” feature musical choices that are noticeably more metallic than previous releases, as instances of dual-guitar tremolo picking and sense-shattering rhythms emulating internal panic can be heard. The drum work of Billy Rymer, formerly of the Dillinger Escape Plan, complements the panic-ridden guitar work perfectly and makes his mathcore background apparent. Needless to say, this would be a difficult album to nap to. While the music incites an animated reaction in listeners, there is something very comforting about the overall production. Each song is imbued with a beautiful glacial reverb, which makes everything from the pulverizing riffs of “New White Extremity” to the slow and clock-like ballad “Strange Hours” equal parts haunting and memorable.

The fast-paced string and drum work is quite dichotomous in terms of the performance given by vocalist Daryl Palumbo, who also brought new musical concepts to the plate for this project, most notably the singer’s step back from harsher, screaming vocal techniques. The softer side of Daryl’s singing voice, which made for the bands well-known, anthem-like choruses, are still present but feature newly found hints of influence from the likes of Jane’s Addiction and the Deftones, a vocal style the singer seems to have been cultivating since his work on the 2011 EP Coloring Book. Despite exhibiting mellower vocals, the record still hits very hard.

Though mostly enjoyable, this record is not without its flaws. The second part of the album, beginning with the song “Bastille Day,” doesn’t feel quite as strong as the beginning of the record. Moments that should be very impactful for the listener seem to fall short of glory after this song, making it more difficult to take everything in over the course of a sitting. Digestion of songs becomes easier on a track-by-track basis. One of the most noticeable shortcomings appears in the form of the title track “Material Control.” What should be an exciting moment that is reflective of the record as a whole is reduced to a short instrumental introduction for the final song “Cut and Run”. The final song showcases a smidgen of untapped potential as it feels entirely too short and lackluster, leaving music connoisseurs begging for the artists to put additional effort into the track.

Despite miniscule disappointments, the newest Glassjaw record is without doubt one of the best pieces of post-hardcore to come out of the previous year of releases. From start to finish, the album acts as an adequate reflection of the band’s work over the years, culminating in the tasteful blend of the softer elements found in the Coloring Book EP and earlier Glassjaw material. All in all, Material Control makes a fine addition to both personal collections and the Glassjaw discography.

Music Video Shenanigans With Trailer Park Orchestra: Tate Street Hipster by Ross Barnes

Music Video Shenanigans With Trailer Park Orchestra: Tate Street Hipster

Greensboro’s Trailer Park Orchestra is a high-octane culmination of late 80’s/early 90’s rock and influences of modern Southern metal blended together in a vat of punk culture and Greensboro roots. I had the opportunity to observe and join in the antics of the band’s music video for “Tate Street Hipster” from their album Deep Fried Double Wide. “Tate Street Hipster” is a commentary on the clique-y music scene of the Triad where many music groups create bills with the same several bands within their own genres, thereby excluding members of other styles outside their creative comfort zones.

Lead singer Louis Money expresses that he loves the shops, history, and atmosphere of Tate Street, but has become frustrated with the increasingly exclusive “hipsters” of the Greensboro and, specifically, the Tate Street music scene. Furthermore, in addition to the increasing divides between the genre cliques, Greensboro has been suffering the same decline in the variety of music venues and music attendees that has been seen throughout many other locations in the state, as well as the country. It doesn’t help that beyond both of these vibes, many clubs are turning away from creators in the music scene and leaning ever-toward the familiarity of cover bands and their ability to get crowds excited and drinking to the music they already know. This combination of trends and behaviors makes it tougher and tougher for creators outside of the current mainstream music culture to flourish.

“Tate Street Hipster” in and of itself is a fast-paced hard rock song, simple in structure but strong in delivery. Between the steady driving rhythms of drummer BP (Brian Pell) and rhythm guitarist Brian “Bull” Bentley, and the high-energy vocals of Louis Money, “Tate Street Hipster” is the embodiment of feeling comfortable in your own skin despite the exclusive culture of those around you. Pair this with the impressive bass work of Chris Sealey and soaring solos of lead guitarist Joe Potts, you have an incredibly solid piece of work.

Video director Adam Jordan, in my whole confidence, captured this theme wonderfully with the story of the video transitioning from the band members trying to fit in to the hipster crowd, discovering it’s not where they belong, and moving toward their scene at Somewhere Else Tavern over on Friendly Ave. By including hot spots on Tate Street such as Tate Street Coffee, New York Pizza, College Place United Methodist Church, and Parts Unknown Comics (just around the corner), Jordan definitely has all of the means to have captured the essence of Tate Street as well as the history and atmosphere. Jordan’s prior work includes assistant directing music videos for bands such as All Time Low, Neon Trees, and Daft Punk.

I definitely suggest you all keep your eyes and ears open for the upcoming release of the music video. It was an interesting experience to be a part of, and you may or may not see me dressed up in a couple shots wanting to be a “Tate Street Hipster.”Photography by Morgan Jenea

Sonic Snapshots Artist Spotlight: AUTHOR by Ross Barnes

Sonic Snapshots Artist Spotlight: AUTHOR

Photography by Alyson Worker

Author is an indie three-piece based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Formed in 2010 by brothers Trevor and Cameron Bartlett and guitarist Erik Moody, the band has grown into their own over the years since their first EP, People Are Alike All Over, released in May of 2012. Their dreamy soundscapes will send you into a trance as you listen through their evolution of sound. Author first popped up on my radar in February 2015 after their appearance on Audiotree Live, a live-performance media company with a structure similar to other showcase media channels such as The Wild Honey Pie and NPR’s Tiny Desk Sessions. Their most recent release, titled IIFOIIC (Is It Far or Is It Close), is a mellowed masterpiece of ballads and gloriously creamy emotions that will be sure to hit you deep in your feels and leave you smiling and relaxed.

I would highly suggest giving them a listen and keeping an eye out for them as the summer and autumnal months approach, as they will likely be making moves. Their discography can be found at https://weareauthor.bandcamp.com and, once posted, their tour dates, online store, and links to social media can be found at http://www.weareauthor.com.

Personal Note to the Audience: Attached below is a Spotify playlist I have compiled of my favorite tracks that Author has released since the beginning of their career until now. I think it’s a fair blend of their songs off each album they have released. From now on when I post an artist spotlight, I’ll be adding tracks from future artists to this playlist. I hope you enjoy the tunes as well as your days, weeks, months, and years to come. -Ross

An Interview with Company of Thieves by Nicholas Olson

I recently spoke with Genevieve Schatz, lead singer of the alternative indie band Company of Thieves. Originally from Chicago, the band is notable for its bluesy, jazzy sound, with songs ranging from smoky love songs to powerful calls-to-arms. After a brief hiatus, the band has reunited and is currently on tour. With two albums behind them and a new EP set to release on 2/23/18, Genevieve and I chatted the past, the future, and everything in between.

 

Nicholas Olson: How are you doing? How’s the tour so far?

Genevieve Schatz: It’s been amazing. We are about a week and a half into a six week tour, and every night there are just tons of people who are showing up early to see the whole show, and their hearts are open, and we’re all just singing and dancing together, and I think it’s been the best gift I could’ve ever asked for.

NO: So it’s been a decade since Ordinary Riches came out, and here you guys are, together again after a brief hiatus, and you’re ready to officially release a new EP. How does it feel to be back on stage and back recording again?

GS: Being back on stage, it’s a very high vibration to exist in, because it’s a lot of being seen and being vulnerable to share feelings and thoughts, and it’s been really cool to be so supported every night, expressing ourselves. It’s been an adventure to embark on again.

NO: I was actually lucky enough to see you guys perform in Chicago last September, and I was pretty struck by how fresh some of the arrangements were. It was kind of like I was hearing some of these songs for the first time. I wanted to see if you could tell me a little bit about how these songs have evolved for you guys over the years.

GS: Yeah, I think it’s been really natural, just because all of us have grown up and have changed and expanded and evolved, and so it’s sort of like whenever we visit material from our past, we’re only able to meet it where we’re at now in present time. I don’t know what the analogy is, but it’s very organic for us. Whatever setting we’re all operating at, that’s what the energy gets shaped by.

NO: What do you think fans can look forward to with Better Together? What kind of sounds and themes have you guys been playing around with for this one?

GS: There is a lot of really cinematic arrangements going on, we have more synths, and we have ukulele. Mostly just a very honest, emotional collection of songs.

NO: That sounds great. I’ve heard “Treasure” of course, and I just recently heard “Window” off of the new EP, and to me it felt kind of reminiscent of “Syrup,” but it was still exploring some new territory. How much of an impact does nostalgia have on your songwriting process?

GS: Well I guess it would depend on how we value warm memories. I don’t know what to say about that. Nostalgia, it can get sticky, I guess. I think our songs are more truthful or more timeless or something.

NO: It’s almost like that story of being turned into a salt pillar when you look back at the past, you need to know it’s there but not get too stuck in it?

GS: Yeah, totally. It’s not so much nostalgia as much as just accessing a place within ourselves that has a great capacity to feel. Being able to access that super vulnerable, emotional realm is very important to us.

NO: So you guys have recorded performances at the Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, the Bronson Caves in LA, you’ve done several studio sessions, you’ve even played with Daryl Hall at his house. Do you have a favorite place to play, or do you kind of like to keep yourself on your toes?

GS: I like to keep it interesting. I kind of like the challenge of playing in a different place all the time, because then I can really see where I’m at in my life that day instead of having like a regular place to perform in. So yeah, I think that’s why we’ve been so open to playing venues or just playing outside in a canyon or in somebody’s house. We’ve even recorded songs in bathrooms before. It’s sort of like wherever the inspiration comes.

NO: Very cool. I’ve got a couple of fun ones now. You’re offered a ticket to see any musician or musical act perform, living or dead. Who do you pick?

GS: Oh wow. I would probably love to see David Bowie, the Ziggy Stardust Tour. Yeah.

NO: So I know this is kind of like asking a parent who their favorite child is, but do you have a favorite Company of Thieves song?

GS: No. [laughs] I don’t. It’s hard for me to decide, because there’s just so many different Company of Thieves songs now, so depending on what I’m going through that day, I’ll take a liking to ones that are helping me through something, you know? But “Won’t Go Quietly” has a special place in my heart.

NO: Yeah, that’s a great song.

GS: Hey, thanks!

NO: So my last question is what advice would you have for any budding creatives out there?

GS: I would say creating is an act of surrendering, and a lot of times it can be easy to mistake inspiration for something that you can control, but it’s really more about surrendering and letting the light flow through you. It’s sort of like just remain open and don’t do anything out of fear.

Company of Thieves’ new EP, Better Together, hits shelves on 2/23/18. For all the latest news on the band, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Genevieve can be found on Instagram at @ladythief.

Sonic Snapshots: An Interview with Paperback by Ross Barnes

On December 30th, 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down with staff photographer Justin Barnett and the band Paperback. Paperback is a punk/rock, self-proclaimed sad rock band based out of North Carolina, with one album produced and another set to be in the works later in 2018. Noted in this interview are interviewers Ross Barnes (RB) and Justin Barnett (JB) and band members Jonathon Owens (JO), Caleb Hogue (CH), Owen Smith (OS), and Alex Tedesco (AT).

 

RB: How long have you all been playing together and how did you all meet?

JO: Coming up on two years. Funny story about that, I had known Caleb from playing in various hardcore bands. Owen I met through church, and Alex, I met him through Facebook on, like, a basement DIY musician page.

RB: Okay, so I’m really curious about the whole online page meeting thing. How did that happen?

AT: We were auditioning for a different band, him on drums, me on bass, and neither one of us liked the direction that was going.

JO: But we were vibing with each other so the next day I hit him up and was like, “Hey, you want to join this band that I’m in called Paperback?” And I sent him some of the demos we were working on, and he just said, “Sure!” So that’s how that all went. So we were a three piece before and I was on bass, so I told [Alex], “Hey, bring your guitar because mine’s acting up.” Just to see how that would all turn out.

RB: You mentioned that you had demos beforehand, so could you walk me through how the basic writing process for you works?

JO: So the basic writing process is that I’ll have the skeleton of a song and bring it to practice, everybody will put their own spin on it, and we’ll work on the song together.

CH: It’s evolved a lot from the beginning where Jonathon had practically written a whole EP on his own, about six or seven songs, before approaching me or Owen and before we ever met Alex. We all put our own spin on it and worked it out together. Since then, we’ve been writing together and it’s been giving a very different sound, and it’s full and we’re excited to get ready to start playing a whole new slough of stuff.

RB: Collectively, what would you say your influences are?

CH: It’s really nice to see the intersects of the bands that we really, really enjoy, and one of those intersects are Queens of the Stone Age. You don’t really hear it in our music, but it’s a big band that we all listen to and pull inspiration from.

RB: Do you have any favorite shows that you’ve played?

JO: My favorite show that we’ve played this year was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at this place called Headquarters, which is a house venue. From the moment we got there, they were really nice to us, they cooked us dinner, and they gave us free beer, and the show was great. We tend to prefer shows like house parties and shows of that nature. We’ve once been described as the best house party band.

CH: Westview House in Boone. In fact the last show we played there, we have some footage in our new music video, and it was their last show, because shows have just gotten crazier and crazier for them, and they just had to shut it down. The energy at that show was just great.

OS: Oh let’s see, it was another Westview show, we played there on my birthday and it wasn’t, like, a planned thing, but it just kind of happened that way. We usually play first or last but this was one of the few times where we got a really good time slot and just, it was the first time that a lot of people heard us there for the first time. It was a great environment.

AT: I guess mine was the fundraiser we played at Westview House and, based on the money that we raised, there were at least 200 people that filtered in throughout the day. It was just a big, hot, sweaty mess and it was a ton of fun. A close second would be when we played in Columbia, South Carolina, and I broke my nose in the crowd. So my bass had just cut out at a point and we usually try to make it look cool when we have technical problems, so I just throw down my bass and jump into the pit. It was wild.

JB: How is your music received in rural areas compared to big city areas?

JO: Usually in rural areas we’re received very well because, in terms of lyrical content, kids in the areas don’t really have the opportunity to bond with our kind of music, so they definitely appreciate it. We’re definitely received well in urban areas too, but the way it always works out is at any given night there’s probably ten or more shows going on in a night in a big metropolitan area, and the people tend to just compare us to bands they’ve listened to before. So both receive us well, but in rural areas, people seem more excited to see a band like us.

RB: Okay, so here’s a spot where I want to get a little weird with my questions. One of my favorite things to do is ask a band a question that they’re not expecting. If you could describe your music with your other senses, how would you? Like how does your music smell, or how does it taste?

AT: So if you would take a fresh cherry cobbler, and plug it in to the wall, like, just run 150 or 200 volts into it. That’s what our music would smell like.

OS: Sounds about right, something like that. That plus butter.

JO: Maybe if you throw a reverb pedal into the cherry pie, too.

CH: I definitely think we taste like a piece of beef jerky, but it’s, like, open but it’s not and it’s just been sitting in a jacket pocket since, like, last season.

JO: I was just going to say we taste like mac and cheese.

RB: Last question, because it slipped my mind until now. Who do you record with?

JO: The man, he’s just the man. Brandon Hamby at Dead Peasant Studio. He’s a great guy and he will work with you and let you play around until you get the sound you want and he’s just all-around fantastic.


During the interview, I asked each of the members of Paperback to list out their top three-ish favorite bands they’ve ever played with. I’ve compiled their responses into a list for your browsing pleasure if you would like to expand your music tastes into the realms of rock, hardcore, punk, and similar genres.

 

Boysin

Ozone Jones

Stress Fractures

Sam Henjum Anderson

Wolves x4

Parasites

The Business People

Minimums

Hodera

Zen Moreno

Cloud Hands

Downhall

Never, I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paperback can be found on Facebook at @ncsadrock and all other social media at @paperbacknc. You can find their debut EP, Guilty Veins, on Bandcamp at paperbacknc.bandcamp.com. I also highly advise checking out their most recent single, “Growing Pains,” via their Facebook page.

Sonic Snapshots: A Review of Company of Thieves by Ross Barnes

Company of Thieves, a native band of Chicago, Illinois, transplanted to LA during the summer of 2010 for the release of their sophomore album — Running From a Gamble — and since 2014 had been off the radar. On May 22nd of 2017, the band announced a reunion and had just finished a tour this past September, following the release of their single “Treasure.”

“Treasure” is one of the most fantastic blends of genres I have heard from a band in a while. Blending the soulful/punky vocals of Genevieve with a driving bass-heavy drumline takes me back to the late aughts with reminders of Paramore and Rise Against, but the spacey separations between beats make me think more so of recent electronic rock releases by Warpaint, Snowmine, or From Indian Lakes. The end result is a beautiful take on modern alternative rock with roots in blues and punk.

I highly recommend giving Company of Thieves a listen and to keep your eye out on the horizon for what they might do in the future. The band has expressed that they intend to write more following this recent tour, and if it’s more like “Treasure,” then I am as stoked as I can be.