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Vanderpark

January 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Spotlight Bands

vandermain

You note Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, and Paul Simon among your influences, yet critics have cited the band for channeling the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder. Given such diverse influences, how would you describe your music? I understand you consider the 5-string bass to be the “backbone” of the band’s sound.

Because this question is so hard to ask any band, we try to leave it open for audiences to make that decision for us. All the artists that have inspired us, like Pearl Jam, David Gray, Paul Simon, etc., created music that was easy for audiences to relate to certain aspects of their everyday lives. The bass and the drums always need to be the supporting backbone of any good band in order for the melody and the harmonies to soar louder and become clearer for the listener to hear. We’re very honored to be compared to the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder. There isn’t a single person out there who doesn’t know a Stevie Wonder hook or melody. If you think about it, Stevie had the best drum and bass section in town. He’s not gonna be playing with no punks. (laughs)

Right now, you’re in the midst of your second U.S. tour. What do you enjoy most about playing over the border? And have you noticed any differences between Canadian and U.S. audiences?

More than anything, we love playing music for new people. While being on the road we try and understand the new markets we’re entering, by seeing what songs they connect to. Plus, our overall knowledge increases about the music business, and more importantly, ourselves. We’ve met some amazing people in the States, and we ain’t done yet.

Any funny stories from the road that you can share?

Here’s a nice little ditty. We played a show in this beautiful little town called St. Andrews, New Brunswick. After the show, I stayed at a friend’s place while the other guys slept over at this guy’s place who lived right above the venue. The party got a little out of hand with drugs and booze, so the guys call me up telling me that they’re thinking of heading back to Fredericton to catch some sleep. It was already 3:30 a.m., and it’s dangerous to drive the highways of Canada that late at night, with all the deer and moose that roam the highways. So, I asked my friend if it was cool if my boys could sleep over. She was cool with it, but forgot to mention this to her landlord. Long story short, we got woken up at 8:30 in the morning by a very angry lady yelling at us to get out of her house or she’ll call the cops. Got back to Fredericton at 10 a.m. all broken and I haven’t been able to reach my friend ever since.

 

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It’s been written that the band offers “..a staunch dedication to strong, clever musicianship with grasping hooks, tasteful improvisation and three-part harmonies…” Would you say that improvisation is an important element of your live shows?

When we were first starting out, improv was an essential component in our growth as a band. From those lessons earlier in our career, we took the things that we felt worked for us and incorporated it into our sound that exists today. When it comes to the live aspect of the show, we still like to give the crowd something they’ve never seen before. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be challenging ourselves and our audiences.

Let’s get a bit of Vanderpark history… how did the four of you initially meet?

Marcus, Dave and I have all known each other since we were kids and we’ve all been playing music together since grade 7. Vanderpark initially started as a band of three cities — Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal — because we were all still attending University at the time. We would do three-day mini-tours within those three cities, being able to just practice the day before the show to make sure we didn’t suck. (laughs) Once we were all done with school, we were finally able to practice more than once a week together in the same city. We started our plans of broadening our horizons to other demographics within Canada. Hanaya joined us about 2 years ago through our old keyboard player. He instantly added an amazing dynamic to the band and he was just as excited about the music as we were. We haven’t stopped since.

Where does the band’s name come from?

A good friend’s mother’s maiden name is Vanderpark, which is Dutch for “In the Park.” Plus, Marcus, Dave and I all grew up next to a huge park that we used to all hang out in when we were young.

I understand that some of you were entirely self-taught, while others studied music in school. Does this difference in your backgrounds ever become apparent in your work together as a band?

We all come from very different backgrounds, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. It makes our creative juices flow, plus it keeps the music fun for all of us. We try to incorporate all of our own individual experiences into the sound that we create today. The end products people receive are albums that explain the trials and tribulations we’ve faced within our lives.

 

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Tell us about your current album, “Cherish Yesterday.” Why should TWRY readers check it out?

“Cherish Yesterday” is a very important step in our musical careers and in our lives. A bunch of us were going through some really tough times, and we wanted to share this with all of our listeners. Whenever I listen to an album, the real good ones always seem to relate to the matters and situations pertaining to my life at that moment. This album is just that. It’s about love, loss and understanding. You will indubitably be surprised.

How were the recording sessions for this album different from your earlier work? Were there any lessons that you learned making your last full-length album (2005’s “All Your Hands”) that impacted the way you went about things this time?

“All Your Hands” was a completely different experience than “Cherish Yesterday.” We recorded “All Your Hands” live off the floor within a week’s time, which is an accomplishment, to say the least. The great thing about “Cherish Yesterday” is that we spent nine months crafting these tunes. It was a great learning experience and it was a whole whackload of fun.

“Cherish Yesterday” is in rotation at a growing number of college stations – would you say that a primary goal of the band right now is cultivating relationships with college radio?

The great thing about U.S. college radio, compared to Canadian radio, is that people still listen to it. It’s been one of the best resources in getting our name out to listeners all across the country. In a sense, our goal still remains the same. Get the music out there to as many people as possible, and show them why we love it so much. It’s the same thing, but more intense. 

What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry?

It’s exciting and scary at the same time. For an independent band, the internet is an excellent resource to get your name out there, but at the same time, it is single-handedly killing the industry. People are very careless and have no respect for the artists that have invested a ton of money to create the music you love. Don’t get me wrong, I download music just as much as the next guy, but if I respect the artist and the music they create, I will gladly purchase their music. Download live music, support artists and purchase their music.

What’s the overall plan for Vanderpark in 2008?

Work hard, rock harder.
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Vanderpark Website
Vanderpark on MySpace

The Meddling Kids

January 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Spotlight Bands

tmkmainYou guys have a great name. Can you tell us the story behind it? Is Scooby Doo involved at all?

Thank you — yeah, we borrowed the name from Scooby Doo.  As you may know, at the end of most episodes the villain usually says, “And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling kids.” I always thought that was such a classic line. Plus, we’re a fun rock-n-roll band and we really wanted the name to reflect that. 

How did the band initially get together?

Jeremy, Brian and I started playing together back in high school. Jeremy had played with Tyler previous to that in another project. We all went our separate ways in different bands and then said, “Hey, we all have the same influences and we’ve been friends for years, let’s put something together.” The rest is history, as they say.

I understand that when you started the band, your goal was to give the audience the type of show you always wanted to experience. What type of show did you mean? And do you feel like you’ve achieved this?

We’re all fans of bands like KISS and Cheap Trick that put on as much of a visual show as they do musically. Throughout the 1990’s, it seemed like every band out there prided themselves in being the “anti-rock star.” Staring at their feet, no interaction whatsoever with the crowd. I’ve always said, if a band isn’t going to be entertaining live, the audience might as well sit home and listen to the album. We know especially today how tough it is for bands to get people out to shows when you’re competing with computers, YouTube, satellite tv, etc. We give people a reason to come out and see us.

I know that your influences include classic rock acts like KISS and The Rolling Stones, yet you also note that growing up, you listened to pop artists such as Michael Jackson and Huey Lewis. With the sound you’ve created, do you feel like you’ve incorporated elements from both genres?

I think so. Sometimes there really isn’t that much of a difference between genres, other than that one band may be playing Les Pauls through Marshall amps and the other band is playing with the keyboards more up-front. 

 

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It’s been said of your music that “The Kids prove melody doesn’t always have to be placid or soft.” Can you comment on that?

That kind of goes back to the previous question. A lot of times people hear that a band is melodic and they automatically think that it’s going to be real light, limp-wristed stuff. We take melodies that probably could be used in a more pop-type atmosphere and put an AC/DC guitar tone to it and then you basically get The Meddling Kids sound.

The band released its self-titled debut album in November. Can you tell us a little bit about the record, and take us through a few of your favorite tracks?

We finally got it out this past November after going back and forth with some labels. We actually started recording it over a year ago, and then realized we had to remix it to get it up to our standards. We hooked up with a small indie label, Mister Cat Records, who put it out for us and basically let us be in control of things rather then having to answer to someone. I really love every song on it and think it turned out great. I’d say a few of the standout tracks would be “Let Her Go,” which is a straight-ahead rocker with a Cheap Trick/Ramones feel to it…“Goodbye” is another great tune that someone commented on to me by saying, “It has more hooks than a tackle box”… “It’s Over” is a crowd-participation favorite as well.

Have you been pleased with the response the album has received so far?

We’ve been very pleased. We’ve received a lot of really nice press and a lot of radio play, both on commercial radio stations as well as college and internet radio. We’ve been selling a lot of copies on cdbaby.com all over the world. It’s almost overwhelming when you see that people in Australia are buying the cd that we wrote in my basement!

You contributed your take on “I’ve Done Everything For You” to “Working Class Dogs,” a Rick Springfield tribute cd. Tell us about this – and how would you describe your version of the song?

That’s coming out on FastLane Records. They got in touch and asked if we wanted to be a part of it and we said sure. We had toyed with the idea of doing that song live anyway, so we figured, let’s go in the studio for a night and knock it out. As far as our version, we slightly changed the arrangement a little bit, beefed it up a little to give it a modern edge, but tried to keep the song intact so Springfield fans will dig it. Sort of like when Van Halen covered “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. I guess it sort of sounds like Rick Springfield on steroids. 

 

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You’ve played with bands such as Blues Traveler and Warrant, as well as with members of KISS and Motley Crue. Any particular favorite?

That’s a tough one, because all the bands we play with and the shows we do are cool in different ways. The Blues Traveler show we did this past summer was really a special show for the four of us. We did it acoustic which isn’t something we do that often. It was at a sold-out club that holds about 1,200 people, and there must have been 1,500 there!  It was totally crazy — we stepped out on stage and the place went crazy. Playing with Warrant and KISS and Motley Crue was cool in the fact that those are bands that as kids we looked up to, and to share a stage with them and hang out and actually have them tell us that they loved the show is an awesome feeling. 

This past weekend, we did a special show with Chip Z’Nuff from the legendary Chicago powerpop band Enuff Z’Nuff. Chip came into town for my wife’s birthday and we played a whole set of Enuff Z’Nuff with Chip on bass, which was awesome. The four of us are huge fans, to say the least, and that was a blast and really an honor. 

Who would be your dream band to tour with?

Probably bands like KISS and Aerosmith, just for the fact that there’s a guaranteed sellout crowd every night! Butch Walker, who was in The Marvelous 3 and other bands, would be very cool too. (Butch give us a call!!)

What’s the most important thing for TWRY readers to know about The Meddling Kids?

We’d just like to thank everyone for their support, and you haven’t heard the last from us!  We hope to see everyone out on the road soon. Feel free to stop by our MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/themeddlingkidsrock and drop us a line. Our official website is http://www.themeddlingkids.com and our cd can be purchased at http://www.cdbaby.com/meddlingkids.

Overall, what’s the 2008 plan for the band?

We have some out-of-town shows in the works and we’re going to keep pushing the radio market and see what we can do. We have another album that is already written that we may start working on later in the year. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for checking us out. Happy New Year and we’ll see you soon!

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The Meddling Kids Official Website
The Meddling Kids on MySpace

Geoff Tate of Queensryche

January 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

rychemainIt’s hard to believe that it’s been over twenty years since the release of the debut Queensryche EP. Decades later the band is remembered for its progressive sound and heady lyrics, a brave endeavor for a band making it’s mark in that era. Their 1988 release Operation: Mindcrime remains relevant to this very day. As a concept album it shed light on the relatively new band at the time, and gave them the opportunity to spread their wings and fly. Now, several years later, Operation: Mindcrime has taken on a life of it’s own, literally. The album has been succeeded by a theatrical version of the album, as well as the follow up Operation:Mindcrime II. Their sound defined by Geoff Tate’s insane vocal range as well as crunching guitars and a dynamic rhythm section, was hard to mistake.

Blowing away the ideas of labels at the time, Queensryche toured with bands at varying ends of the spectrum including Def Leppard and Metallica, daring to take on any crowd and make them a fan. Two decades later, I’d say they made their mark.

Their most recent release, a covers album titled “Cover Me” allowed the band (Geoff Tate, Scott Rockenfield, Mike Stone, Eddie Jackson & Michael Wilton) to explore other genres and come up with new arrangements for some of their favorite songs of all shapes and sizes.  The results?  An eclectic arrangement of cover tunes ranging from a Broadway favorite to a Queen classic.

With a new all original album in the works, the band is gearing up for a cross country solo tour. About a week before the tour started, lead singer and Queensryche mastermind Geoff Tate took some time to talk to us about the new tour, the new album and surviving in todays music industry and living to tell about it.

Interviewed by:  Mary Ouellette | January 2008
Read more

Switchblade Suicide

January 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Spotlight Bands

ssmainHow long has the band been together?

The idea for the band started 2 years ago. There’s no sadder sight than Geoff and Dennis in a cold basement by themselves. They were writing our first songs which then led to the final lineup ~ and we’ve been together for a year.

How’d you all meet? Match.com? Eyes meeting across a crowded room?

Our kindred rocks spirits sought each other out in what can only be described as a mystical quest. Seriously, Dennis and Geoff worked together at a liquor store and so did Brian and Geoff at a wonderful day job. We found Matt through an ad we posted on craigslist. Check it out…

Wanted: Drummer for Real Rock Band
Guitarist and singer in late 20’s forming real rock band in the style of Guns ‘n’ Roses, L.A. Guns, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Skid Row, Twisted Sister (minus the makeup). Blues based sleazy rock. This is not modern pop punk/rock, indie rock etc. If you don’t know or love any of the bands above this is not for you.  We have been writing for a couple months and have a disc’s worth of material. We are looking for a drummer in the style of Steven Adler (minus the drug addiction), AJ Pero, etc… and a bassist in the style of Blackie Lawless, Rudy Sarzo, John Paul Jones (you don’t have to be John Paul “fucking” Jones).  We are looking to practice twice a week and play out 3+ nights a month between Worcester and Boston. Heart and drive are just as important as skill. We are serious and we want to get this moving. If all works out we would like to be playing out by September and recording by the end of the year. Help us end this pop hell and usher in a new generation of rock and roll. If you’ve got “Flash and Balls,” we want to here from you.

Let’s start with the basics. For people who are hearing about Switchblade Suicide for the first time, let’s give them a little background on the band, what should they know about you?

Geoff and JJ have a strange fascination for midgets while Dennis is terrified of them (no offense to the little people of the world.) Matt however, is indifferent to them. We are just four guys who were lucky enough to grow up listening to 4 decades of rock and roll. Everyday, we do the 9-5 grind and music is the chance to escape from it all. Our primary goal is to bring hard rock to a deprived generation.

Let’s talk about the name of the band, where did it come from and what does it mean to you?

Stories suck. They don’t mean shit. It’s really just a combination of the two most frequently-used words in 80’s rock songs. You can find the words “switchblade” or “suicide” in songs by any of the hard rock bands from the 80’s.

You’re currently working on a demo, can you tell us a little about that?  How many songs will it be?

It’s a 3-song demo and the final evolution of these songs. The demo will be out early in the new year and you’ll be able to get it online, itunes, cd baby and at our shows. Or if you’re hot, we’ll just give you one… or five. We’re easy like that. Being in the studio makes playing live seem like a cakewalk. It’s extremely important to find engineers/producers who share your vision and love of the music. Recording is like microwaving a steak. It never comes out the way you want it to.

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Is there any fighting when it comes down to the writing and recording process?  Do you generally agree on things during the writing process or how do things go down?

Of course we fight! Nothing good comes without a little head butting. Arguing is part of the process. Without it, the final result would be too one-sided. Our four different musical backgrounds makes our sound ours. We always keep each other in check so that no one influence becomes more dominant. Simply put, no fighting = suck music.

Can you walk us through a couple of your favorite songs and tell us about them musically and lyrically?

“One Shot” came out of sheer frustration of not having any written lyrics. “Stop Your Bitchin” is the culmination of every bad relationship we’ve ever had. These days, you hear a lot of sad, self-loathing songs and instead, we decided on writing a song that was a unilateral “F*ck You!” The idea for “Live Fast, Die Young” came off a t-shirt worn by Slash in an early promotional picture. The shirt was based on a 1958 film about the taboos of a 50’s delinquent girl with themes of broken home etc. We wanted to write a song representing issues and attitudes of youth in 2008.

You cite a lot of rock legends as your influences (GnR, Aero, Led Zep, Crue) and all of them are in the vein of dirty, gritty, straight up rock and roll.Is that how you would describe your sound? If not…how would you describe it?

We’re definitely an evolution of all those influences, plus we bring our own musical tastes and backgrounds. JJ brings some aspects of punk, Matt has a more aggressive drumming style, more like what you’d find in metal, Geoff somehow channels a Southern rock feel even though he’s from New England, and Dennis is our melodic screamer. It’s a diverse mix and is pretty explosive when you put us all together.

What would you say to critics who feel like that kind of music is dead and gone? Is rock music dead?

Fuck NO. Shitty versions of rock do die and should. The purest form never truly goes away.

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What are your backgrounds as far as music goes? How long have you been playing? Did any of you have any formal training? Self-taught?

We are all self-taught with the exception of Matt, who took drumming lessons from a gay guy named Lance in Wakefield, MA.

Where do you want to see the band in a year from now?

Geoff would like to see himself inside Cameron Diaz. The rest of us would be happy with a major label tour. When it comes down to it, we want to be the next biggest hard rock band out there. Sounds ridiculous, but if your going to try, you might as well go balls out.

What do you think sets you apart from other bands of today and your thoughts on the current state of rock music?

An emphasis on quality in everything from our recording to our songwriting to our stage presence and appreciation of our audience. And our dedication to bringing back true rock.

Favorite curse word?

Can we say these for real? OK… “F*ck” gets the vote from three of us. “C*nt” from one of us. Now ladies, don’t go hatin’ on us, the “C word” can refer to men, too!

Where can people sample your music?

On our CD (songs will hit our myspace page first) or at one of our live shows. Soon they’ll get to hear us on WAAF’s Bay State Rock. We “won” airplay for being chosen “Best Up and Comers” at the 2007 Worcester Music Awards.

Upcoming gigs?

We play Ralph’s Diner in Worcester a lot. It’s like a second home, and so is the Lucky Dog Music Hall. We’re out at Dodge Street Bar & Grille and Bar pretty often, thanks to our friends, Demons Alley. Our next show is a benefit at the Lucky Dog Music Hall in Worcester on Jan 26th 2008. Come out if you can!

Tell our readers why they should come check you out live?

Because you get to see a straight-up rock band live, where anything can happen before it gets prepackaged and forced down your throat.

Parting words to your people:

As Henry John Heinz once said in 1876, “To do a common thing, uncommonly well, brings success.” And remember, “Every time you jerk off an angel gets its wings.”

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Switchblade Suicide on MySpace