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Alkaline Trio – Agony & Irony

June 23, 2008 by  
Filed under CD Reviews

atcoverAlkaline Trio
Agony & Irony
Epic Records

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Reviewed by:  Justin

Alkaline Trio is back with their sixth studio album titled Agony & Irony, set to drop on July 1st. People will see this album further evolve the Chicago trio into a well-established pop punk band. That’s what this album sounds like – they’re not a “punk” band anymore and it’s not your classic Trio, and that’s OK.

That was one of the concerns that I’ve heard from fans of the band – that they would change their style being on a major label. This is not the case and this album is another step in the evolution of the Trio trio. Their sound has matured throughout the years and they’ve been able to keep it fresh from album to album as more and more people are getting into them (and they should).

This is one of the bittersweet things about a band as they evolve. They gain more listeners this way, but it may drive away old listeners as well. Talking to fans of the band, I’ve heard both sides of it, although the listeners that get pissed off by the band becoming more popular are in the minority. It’s an argument that’s never made much sense to me. Just as you’ve changed from 10 years ago and don’t wear the same clothes you used to wear, your favorite bands are going to inevitably evolve as well. If you’re a fan of the BAND, you go along for the ride and enjoy the band’s evolution. If you’re a fan of one SONG or ALBUM of the band, you’ll probably stay in the past and cry about their evolution. Anyway… /rant

Agony & Irony is filled with fantastic songs that will really grow on you. “Calling All Skeletons” is a great start to the album and gets your attention right away. Next you have “Help Me” and “In Vein”, which fans have already been able to hear on the EP or on the band’s Myspace page. I really dig these songs, and “Help Me” is one of those catchy songs that grows on you, but in my opinion, these aren’t even the best songs on the album!

Track #4 “Over And Out” is my favorite song after the first few spins of A&I. With strong vocal emphasis on this song, and about death and loss, this track is lyrically excellent with a chorus that will go over well in a live setting. Lines like “Over and out he sighed / It seems I’ve run out of time / Please tell my wife I loved her more than life itself” show that the band’s trademark lyrical style hasn’t changed.

Another highlight is “Lost & Rendered”, especially the chorus, which will undoubtedly be an excellent live song as well. It starts out heavy and the guitars are stronger on this track than others. Along with “Over And Out”, I’m really digging this song and have been playing it repeatedly for the last 16 minutes or so, which at 3:23 in length means I’ve played this song about… oh well, math wasn’t my strong suit anyway.

Overall, I think fans will be impressed by the consistency of this album. This is one of the few albums that I’ve been able to listen to all the way through. While I had a couple of favorite songs mentioned above, when you listen to the album, none of them really stand out and grab you. It’s a very consistent album from start to finish. You know how it is with some bands. The first 2 or 3 songs on the album are the “hits” and the rest of the album sounds like it was just included to fill up the CD. That’s another one of those good/bad things about an album. In this case for Alkaline Trio, it was a good thing… you won’t find much filler on Agony & Irony.

This is an album that will go over great in a live setting, so check out the tour dates below. So log off the int3rw3bz, postpone playing World of Warcraft for a few hours, and go out and catch a good rock show! Otherwise pick up Agony & Irony when it hits a store near you… unless you’re one of those people who never leave your apartment. In that case, hop on iTunes and download it.


Vince Walker of Suburban Legends

June 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

slmainSouthern California’s own Suburban Legends have been called everything from Ska to Rock to Pop to Soul, they don’t really care what you call them as long as you call.  For this six piece band (Vince Walker on vocals, Brian Klemm on guitar, Brian Robertson on Trombone, Derek Lee Rock on drums, Mike Hachey on bass and Luis Beza on trumpet) the true vision of their band comes to life through their live show.  With a long island ice tea approach to music (everything goes!) the stage is where they really feel at home and where the energy of the band resides.

Not afraid to admit their love affair with catchy pop tunes, Suburban Legend dishes up song after gloriously catchy song daring you to paint them into a corner soundwise.  Their latest album “Let’s Be Friends” scheduled to be released this month, is said to share the diversity of their previous releases while including a few songs dedicated to each sound they’ve embraced.

Currently on tour with Less than Jake and Goldfinger, lead singer (and one time trumpet player) Vince Walker took some time to let me pick his brain about the band, about their dashing good looks and about being a legend, Suburban that is.

Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | June 2008

Let’s start with a little bit of history…the band has had its share of line-up changes over the years and you actually went from trumpet player to frontman, can you tell us sort of how that transpired?

I was playing trumpet in the group, and I’ve been in the group since the very beginning.  I was going in and out of school and we were touring a lot, and I felt like I just had to finish school so I left to finish and came back as the lead singer when I rejoined.  That’s the shortened version.

So did you always sing?

I always sang back up in the group and I had other projects that I sang with, but I never seriously thought about the lead singer role until I rejoined as the lead singer.  We put on a huge show and we want to have a good time with everybody so the horn section was almost like having a bunch of lead guys and I thought I would apply that and it would be an easy fit but it was very different.  I’m still growing into it.

Don’t you play guitar too?  Sounds like you could pretty much fill in anywhere in the band..

I don’t know if I could fit anywhere!  Certain things fit which is why the group works as well as it does.  I do play guitar and sing and play trumpet..  I like music, we’re all big fans of music.

The band first came together while you were all in high school right?  Did you think it would turn into a career for you?  Was music your ultimate goal?

We came together during my last year of high school.  I did really want to do something in music as a career.  I was in the school band, I was going to go into college as a music major, I really wanted to make music a big part of my life.  When we first started the band we were a ska band and our first show was a talent show.  Our very first bass player asked me to play trumpet for the talent show and sure enough, a couple of years later it’s this.  It’s pretty wild, I definitely look back on it a lot and think that I don’t know how it happened but it’s a good thing.

With six members there has to be a ton of different influences infused throughout and critics have used every word in the book when describing you to pop, rock, and phunk with a ph…for people that are completely unfamiliar with the band, what would you want them to know about your sound and how you would define it?

You know what, when people first hear us or see us I think the first thing that they think is that “wow you guys have a lot of energy and a lot of personality.” I think that’s what comes through the most.  Even with all the genres and influences we have I think what it really comes down to is people hear that energy and they see it when we perform live.  Generally, we’re huge fans of pop music.  The hookier it is and the more it gets stuck in your head, we’re big fans of that.  That and chop it up with a lot of heavy guitars and horns, we like that.


Photo by:  Tiffany Warch

It’s been hinted around that the ska sound of the band will be more predominant on your upcoming album Let’s Be Friends, is that true?

Yes, definitely.  We’ve got 2-3 songs that are more ska.  I think with the last couple of albums we were experimenting and trying to use stuff just for fun to keep it fresh.  But this time around we’ve accumulated everything we’ve ever done and it’s definitely a fun album.

Can you tell us how the album (Let’s be Friends) is coming along?  Maybe give us some insight into some of the tracks?

My favorite tracks..that’s like picking my favorite child! I would say the lyrics are a lot more fun, we wrote a lot of satirical fun lyrics having to do with bros and hos and having fun.  The overall energy is definitely a lot more colorful.  The album artwork is very colorful.  We’ve got a few disco songs, a few ska songs, a few rock songs….we went all out on this one.

On Infectious, it seems like from track to track you explore different styles of music, do you think with Let’s Be Friends you’ll maintain this diversity or is it going to be more focused on one sound?

It’s still going to have that Suburban Legends diversity.  When people listen to it they’re going to go “yeah they did a lot of stuff”.  I would say the feel of it is a lot more cohesive.  There is going to be a focus to it, we wrote a bunch of songs and it’s always hard to tell until it gets pulled together.

So in talking to you just this short time you seem pretty down to earth but, I have to call you out. Do you know that in your bio the band is referred to as having “dashing good looks” which I think they stole from an old episode of Leave it to Beaver…the band seems to put forth a pretty clean image, is this an important factor?

Yeah, I guess.  We have a clean image but we do things that may not be considered so clean because we’re normal people..or we’re not so normal people..I don’t know whichever way you take it.  As long as we look good doing it, no I’m just kidding.  Our second job would be H&M models.  I don’t reall know how to answer that question.  I read our bio too and chuckled at it.

So you’re metrosexuals..

Oh definitely.  You can put that down on the record.  Maybe not all of us but the majority of us are.  We’re from Southern California and people can just smell that on is, there’s nothing we can do.


Photo by:  Tiffany Warch

Having the added elements of a horn section, how does that get incorporated into the songwriting process?  Is it considered from the beginning?

It really depends on the song.  Sometimes you’ll come up with something horn based and the vibe just feels right or sometimes you start with something lyrically that’s different.  It just depends; it’s a song by song basis.  Sometimes we’ll have a song that doesn’t incorporate horns and we’ll add it to bring color to it.  It really depends on that creative process and what pops out first.

The band is really active with fans through web episodes, player vids, MySpace, etc…do you consider that an important aspect of the band?

Definitely.  It’s our major way to reach out.  It’s important to us.  We don’t have other avenues that we can explore, we’re not on MTV so that’s our one way right now.  They’re fun.

You’re gearing up for a tour with Less Than Jake, are you a fan of the band and how excited are you?

Definitely.  I’m excited the first time I saw them was last summer when we played with them in Jersey.  I’m very excited about the tour, there will be a lot of people at these shows and I think it’s going to be a fun lineup with Goldfinger on some of the dates too.

Are you planning on playing the new material on your upcoming tour?

We have a couple of new songs that we’re going to throw into the set and we’ll be playing all the hits from the others..okay well maybe not hits..

With six guys in the band, do you ever have to fight for stage space?  Any weird accidents attributed to that ratio?

A couple of mouthpieces in the face, a couple of mics to the face, we’ve definitely tripped over each other, there’s always accidents.

Do you still incorporate dance into your live show?


So that must add to the accident ratio on stage as well..

Yeah, broken knees, thrown out backs…we have aches and pains, we have to get massaged after each show.  (I wish we did, that would be great!)

Maybe you should add that to your rider for this tour..

Yeah right!  A lot of ibuprofen.  Only over the counter stuff though!  We don’t dabble in anything else!


Vince Walker/Photo by: Travis Hodges

Believe me, I could tell that just by your dashing good looks! Okay I’m going to put you on the spot.  Give us a little known fact about each of your bandmates….

Oh man, that’s tough, because I know them so well..I live with Robot.  I don’t know if that’s a fun fact.
Brian Klemm knows more about comic books than anyone on the face of the planet.  He knows a lot. He collects, I got him Wizard for Christmas and he really liked it.  I think that’s the best gift that I ever bought for anyone, at least judging by his reaction.
Let’s see…Derek’s got a really cute dog.

He does?  What kind of dog?

He’s got a pug, his name is Teddy.
Mikey works at the Apple store.

Does he get you discounts!
He does. On some things.  He knows more about the iphone than anyone else.  We’re all big Mac Fans.
Luis rides his bike a lot, he does a lot of bikeriding.  He does a lot of stuff and things.  He told me the other day that someone on MySpace reached out to him and told him that they were a big fan of his style and wanted to dress like him, so he’s our fashionista.  Yeah, so he’s the top of the triangle of our dashing good looks.
Robot works at Jamba Juice, I work at Starbucks…

I already knew that about you, I read it somewhere, so you need to come up with something better about yourself…

That’s a deep question.  Help me out.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to music?  Although I get the feeling you don’t have any guilty pleasures and you’re pretty proud of them all..

I’m really kind of a shy guy, but yeah, I like a lot of music.

How would you describe your live show to music fans, what can people expect to see when they come to see Suburban Legends?

Well the first thing that people always say is that we have a lot of energy.  We just have a good time on stage, we do things that I don’t think a lot of bands do.  We work the stage and people seem to recognize that, we give our all every time I play.

Is the whole band involved in the writing process for the songs?  How does that work with so many people?

Me, Mikey, Derek and Brian are usually the ones that pump out as much material as we can and bring it to the group to show them ideas and then we start hacking away at it to make is Suburban Legends.  We all end up influencing each other.  We bring our material to the table and share ideas.  Lyrically usually Brian and I come up with the majority of the lyrics, we get together to write.  There’s definitely not one dictator that writes an entire song, we’re all involved.

Parting words to music fans?

Look out for Lets Be Friends, it’s going to be a real good album.  Come see us on tour.  We’re always saying that we’re planning to do the biggest things on the face of the earth…but I think we are finally going to make that happen somehow.  We’ll go to a pizza buffet together..can you write that?


Suburban Legends on MySpace
Suburban Legends Official Website

RUSH – Mansfield, MA

June 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Latest Photo Galleries

June 6, 2008
Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA
Photos by:  Mary Ouellette

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Paul “Poolie” DiGiovanni of Boys Like Girls

blgmainOn June 20th at 8pm, Boys Like Girls will premiere their new video for “Thunder” on MTV’s new show FNMTV.  Hot off of their tour supporting Avril Lavigne and gearing up for their summer co-headlining tour with Good Charlotte, its hard to imagine where the band found the time to make a new video, but they managed to sneak away for two sleepless days to get it done.

Guitarist Paul DiGiovanni gave us a call to discuss the premiere of the video, their Massachusetts roots, and their upcoming tour!

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | June 2008

You’re about to debut your video for Thunder on MTV’s “FNMTV” Friday night at 8pm, Can you tell us a little bit about the video and the partnership with the show to debut it?

We recorded this video maybe a month ago in Los Angeles.  We went down there for two full days, no sleeping no resting and we did the whole video.  We did it exactly as we wanted it; we’d been planning it for a while.  It’s really awesome and really fun.  The concept is that we’re having one more night out with all our friends and doing all kinds of crazy stuff before we start touring.  As far as the show, we figured what better time to premiere the video that on this brand new show.  We’re really excited!

So the concept of FNMTV is pretty much back to classic MTV, showing video premiers in their entirety and featuring live performances, but now the viewers get to give immediate feedback via the digital world and their comments and submitted videos will be showcased that following week each time the video is played on MTV, allowing the viewers to take control.  It’ll be interesting.  How do you think your new video will be received?

I’m really hoping it’s going to be good.  The way we broke out in the beginning was we recorded a few songs before we were known at all, before we really even had a name.  Then we threw them up online and just waited for some feedback.  It was really great, it just sort of took off and we were all really surprised.  Through word of mouth is sort of how it blew up, it got pretty big for having no press and no anything at all for the first year.  So that’s how we got our legs in the beginning, and that’s how we got to where we are today.  The whole beginning was just kids who were just awesome, who told their friends and through word of mouth it just went crazy from there.  Hopefully it’ll be the same thing.  I feel like this signifies that.  I really hope it’ll be good.

Boys Like Girls - Paul

Paul Live – Photo by Mary

What do you think the highlights from FNMTV will be?  We saw Snoop Dog giving Pete and Ashley some parenting advice!

Oh man, Snoop Dog just coming off his sabbatical!  Hopefully we’ll all just have a good time, you know?

You’re debut album has been out for since August of 2006, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  Have you started work on a new album yet and what can we expect, and when?

About a year ago we started recording at my mother’s house and writing and writing.  We started demoing three complete songs that are ready to go.  We’re just going to keep hammering them out.  Martin and I are just going to keep writing and working through everything to have it as ready as it can be till we can get into the studio in a few months from now.  We’re not definite on timeframe that we’ll go into the studio.  We’re on this summer tour, and then in the fall we’ll see what happens.
Our site has something in common with BLG!

Oh yeah?  What’s that?!

We’re based out of Massachusetts!  You’ve paid homage to the state in videos in the past, how important is it to you to have that local tie in?

It’s awesome because we are all very proud of where we grew up.  This is our favorite place to be!  Whenever we get time off from touring we just love being around home and being in Boston.  In the Heroine video we were really excited to film in Boston.  Some really historic places, some scenic places, out near Logan with the planes flying overhead, we did a bit at Fenway down on Lansdowne Street and all that.  It’s a cool feeling to showcase where you grew up in one of your music videos.


You’re getting ready to go out on The Soundtrack Of Your Summer tour with Good Charlotte, Metro Station, and The Maine after being on a long tour with Avril Lavigne.  What’s the one thing you miss the most while out on tour?

Definitely, definitely, family and friends!  That, first of all, that’s a given!  It’s tough being away that long.  You’re keeping in contact and trying not to feel like you are missing out on stuff at home.  Secondly, your own bed to sleep in and your own shower to shower in everyday!  Either you can’t find a shower or it’s really disgusting. Love the lifestyle.

Speaking of “The Soundtrack Of Your Summer” tour… no Boston date?  No hometown show?

We’ll we’re playing some Mass shows but nothing IN the city.  Tsongas Arena is one of our favorite places.

Oh, you are playing Tsongas?

Yup!  Up in Lowell, which is awesome.  We played there at the KISS Jingle Ball, which we loved and we can’t wait to play there again!  We’re doing Lupo’s too, which is pretty close to Boston… so…that’ll be great.

This tour is a co-headlining tour, so will fans see a big difference in the set from the Avril tour?

Not a huge difference.  I mean we only have one album out right now.  We are definitely going to have a way bigger show on stage with some new transitions.  We’re going to spice it up a lot, probably going to throw a new song in there and possibly a new cover.  We’re going to do everything we can to make it as crazy and fun as possible because this is the “Soundtrack of OUR Summer” tour, and it’s going to be everything we want it to be.  Really.

Boys Like Girls

Bryan Live – Photo by Mary

One of your very first tours was with one of our favorite artists, Butch Walker.

Ahhh… ours too!

What did you learn from that tour?

I think at that time that was the biggest tour we had ever been on.  He is such a seasoned veteran in Rock & Roll and in general, his songwriting and everything he’s done is just incredible!  He kind of just showed up the ropes.  A lot of the tours we had been on before that were people our age and kids just blindly going into this.  We all had a great time.  He just showed us a lot of stuff.  He’s just a really cool guy, he took us under his wing.  He’s just great!

In just a short two years you’ve played small clubs, big arenas and festivals.  Which remains your favorite and why?

Oh that’s such a tough one!  I’d say at this point right now club shows.  We just did a month and a half with Avril, it was awesome, we were in love with the huge arenas.  But, sometimes when you are on a tour for that long you start to feel disconnected with venues that huge because you are much more disconnected from the fans than you are at a club show or a really small show.  On this Avril tour we did a few one off shows at 1000 seaters, 900 seaters even some 800 seaters just to do something on our days off when we had nothing to do.  Those are just so rejuvenating! You’re sweating like crazy and it’s totally loud and just jam packed shoulder to shoulder with kids jumping up and down going crazy.  That was just such a refreshing feeling.

I hear that a lot actually.  Band love to go back and do a couple small club tours or club shows and just get that connection with their audience back.

Right.  Now if you had asked me that last fall when we were doing our club tour, I’d have said arenas!  It’s just whatever is new and fresh that you haven’t done in a while.

Boys Like Girls

Martin Live – Photo by Mary


Boys Like Girls Official Webpage

Boys Like Girls on MySpace

Tom Petty – Mansfield, MA

Tom Petty
June 14, 2008
Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA
Photos by:  Mary Ouellette

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