Features First Person

I’m With the Band

Growing up during the height of the boy band era and attending all their concerts (you name it, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, N’Sync I’ve been to them all) I’ve always wondered what it’s like being on the other side. Not the fan waiting anxiously for the doors to open to get that perfect spot right by the stage, but to be behind the scenes. Whether it be the crew, security, or the band itself, that life seemed so much more exciting to me.

This past weekend I got to be on the other side of concert life when I toured with Army of Me for two of their concert dates on the “Get A Life” tour with The Used, Straylight Run, Street Drum Corps and Lights Resolve. The movies make it all seem so glamorous – sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. The groupies, the parties, the unlimited highs (whether it be natural or drug-induced) of the touring lifestyle. I learned this weekend that touring isn’t all what it’s portrayed to be in the movies. Sure, it’s a lot of fun hanging out with new people and different bands and I’m sure nothing beats that feeling when you walk off the stage after putting on an amazing set, but it’s also a lot of hard work – physically, mentally and emotionally. Often, you’re traveling in a small van, packed in with equipment, suitcases and whatever else you may need for those months on tour and sometimes it can start to smell as half eaten food and dirty clothes add up. Going from hotel to venue every day can get tiresome and the downtime between unloading and performing seems like an eternity.

Regardless, being in a band is a full-time job in itself. Whether it’s practicing for a show later that night or writing new music, it’s another way of life and band members have to make a living too. Contrary to popular believe, they are “real” people and have to eat, pay rent and bills. Who knew?! In a way though, being on tour seems like an escape from the so called “real world.” These people are doing what they love each and every day – performing, traveling, meeting fans and my experience was almost surreal. I tried to take in as much as I could and lucked out because all the guys in each band were so nice and down-to-earth. I was able to interview everyone from Army of Me as well as Jeph from The Used on their tour bus (don’t worry, there are pictures coming too!) I’ll definitely be posting these interviews in the upcoming week . . . not sure how much I’ll actually transcribe for you to read though, but I’ll try my best. Pretty much all of your questions about touring, groupies, and performing were answered so stay tuned for the interviews!


Listen to Lost Tricks Tracks

As promised earlier this week, here are two tracks off of Lost Tricks’ latest EP, Keep It Together. Let me know what you think!

Track 1. “The Fall”
This one’s my favorite. I love the piano intro. One of Trev’s favorite tracks too, in the interview he said, I’m definitely jamming on that song. It has that big epic feel that I really like. The song itself, the subject matter is very personal, a lot of people can relate to it. It has this mixture of acoustic and electronic and that really was kind of by accident, but definitely, I think helps with that bigness of the song.”
Check it out here.

Track 2. “Keep It Together”
The title track of the EP and Trev’s favorite on the album. He said: “I really think that ‘Keep It Together’ came together the best as far as production and how things gelled and the grove of it. I think it’s one of the better representations of us on the album, what we were going for.” Listen to it here.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to listen to the full interview with Trevor. And check out their MySpace for upcoming shows!

Artist of the Week Features

New Artist to Listen For: Serena Ryder

Canadian singer/songwriter Serena Ryder is an artist to definitely be on the look out for. She’s opened for artists such as Paolo Nutini, Chris Isaak and Xavier Rudd and just last year was featured in the South by Southwest festival in Texas where she caught the ears of Atlantic Records. Having already released two albums in Canada, most recent being If Your Memory Serves You Well which was certified gold her current U.S. debut EP, Told You In A Whispered Song, was released last year, while her first full-length U.S. album is due out this spring on the Atlantic label.

At first I genuinely liked her EP, Told You In A Whispered Song, but as I listened closer to the lyrics I enjoyed each song even more. Ryder’s honest, heartfelt lyrics about love and heartbreak are universal and you can feel the pure emotion she puts into each song.

Her EP begins with its title track which has a simple guitar rhythm and the light sound of a tambourine in the background. Ryder’s voice is strong and bluesy, fluctuating ever so slightly in the chorus of the song. “Hiding Place” is a slower song, which again features an acoustic guitar and asks the question to a lover, “If your radio didn’t work and your friends all ran away/Would you let yourself fall in love, if only for one day?” The lyrics are truly beautiful in this song. She continues to sing, “Darling can I touch your face and let your skin be my hiding place/Promise I won’t take up too much room/Darling can I touch your face and let your eyes fall into love’s embrace?”

Ryder’s voice has been compared to that of Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, maybe even early Jewel. “Brand New Love,” her third song on the EP, is a bit more upbeat then the rest, with a strong guitar sound that accentuates her voice well. Check out a stream of this song here. For Windows users you can listen here.

“Weak in the Knees” slows down the EP for a bit. Ryder seems to be telling the story of being weak in the knees with a lover who could care less for her, which eventually forces herself to move on. She belts out towards the end of the song, “It was over, it’s over before it began/I’m a witness to love why can’t you understand?/I won’t give up my heart, I won’t sell you my soul/Don’t you know it was you? You could have had it all.” Truly heartbreaking, but you can feel this emotion through Ryder’s strong singing.

Last song on the EP, “Blown Like The Wind At Night,” definitely has a more edgy sound to it, maybe even a bit bluesy. She starts off the song singing, “Let’s get drunk and lets pretend we are not slaves to anything or anyone that tells us how to be.” Later in the song she sings, “If this is love, then what is hate?/Do you understand my fate?/Oh I’m not broken, you can’t fix me/Wish I had a man that missed me/Tell me everything will be alright.” Her voice fluctuates in this song really well, helping with the angst-ridden feel behind the song.

To hear more on Serena Ryder be sure to check out her MySpace, which features four of the five songs from her EP, Told You In A Whispered Song.


Music Blogs to Peruse

Working the day after Christmas is always rough. As the year winds down, so does everyone’s work ethic . . . even mine! Everyone is just waiting to be off again in a few more days for New Years and who can blame them? I feel like I’ve been slacking on my blog as well, but I promise that lots of exciting posts are already lined up for 2008! I have a few concerts as well as interviews and album reviews set up in the upcoming weeks so I promise to keep busy and continue posting as much as I possibly can in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, below are a few blogs/websites I think you music lovers will enjoy. Thanks again for checking out my blog and leaving comments. It means the world to know you all enjoy reading it and I can continue doing what I love! Feel free to leave comments or email me at if you have any suggestions for the blog. I love hearing from all of you!

Hits from the Blog
For anyone trying to keep up with the latest in the Hip-hop scene, this is the blog for you. Dom, my former music editor of the entertainment section of the paper at Rutgers, sure knows how to write and updates his blog daily, often with various tracks and videos to check out. Definitely sift through his blog for his latest music commentary.

The Jew Spot
For everything crazy, sexy and Jewish. My friend Monica just started up this blog after conquering the world. Well, practically. She is the sole person who put together the Sharsheret Breast Cancer Benefit concert at the beginning of the month which I covered for my blog. The event raised over $700 and featured a group of amazingly talented women performers. Her blog has interviews with two of these female singers, discussing their different styles of music and what it means to be Jewish in today’s world, many of who are breaking the stereotype.

The Daily Vault
This website has it all. Over 5,000 album reviews, interviews and features with various musicians, liner notes, and blogs. You name it, it’s there. I love reading interviews to see what types of questions other journalists ask artists, just to make sure I’m on the same page. I happened to stumble upon a great interview with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. You can check that out here.

Thanks again to everyone who has been reading, to all the musicians who have taken time out of their busy schedules to sit down and talk with me, and all the managers and publicists who have been able to set up the interviews for me! Hope everyone has been having a great holiday season and that 2008 is even more successful and promising for everyone!

Benefit Features

November Recap/December Picks

While I’m still getting adjusted to the whole blogging thing I’m trying to start a few topics to follow through with each month, such as a monthly “recap” that I’ll hopefully post at the end or beginning of each month as well as monthly “picks”or suggestions for an upcoming month. Here’s a recap of some cool things that went on in the month of November:

Pandora Radio
Sometimes I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. To pass the time at work I’ve been listening to music. Anything from various YouTube videos to listening to random HD radio stations that stream online. However, there are only so many radio stations you can listen to throughout the day and I haven’t figured out how to play continuous music on YouTube yet. A bunch of the people I work with kept talking about Pandora radio and I had no clue what they were talking about, so I decided to check it out. And let me tell you – it’s the coolest thing ever! I mean, iPods are great and everything, but how many times have you listened to the same songs? With Pandora you just type in an artist and it comes up with all this music that is similar to that artist and continuously plays it for you and you can skip to the next song if you don’t like it. However, if you do like the song just click the thumbs up sign so the player knows to play it again at a later point. I tried a bunch of different artists and got a pretty interesting combination of songs to listen to throughout the day. Music really makes the day go by so much quicker, I think it helps with the stress too. Pandora just added classical music to their collection as well as a variety of holiday tunes to listen to. Just go to to check it out and see for yourself.

Paste Magazine
For two weeks this month, Paste Magazine let readers decide how much they wanted to pay for a one-year subscription. This idea is unheard of in the magazine world, but thanks to Radiohead’s recent success with letting fans pay whatever they decided for their recent album, Paste thought, why not give it a try? I’m sure they’ll be seeing an increase in subscriptions. I just subscribed. Check out the article here.

New York Women in Communications
I went to a talk this month at the Hearst Tower with Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, hosted by New York Women in Communications. I’ve attended one other event which featured Jancee Dunn, former Rolling Stone writer and MTV 2 veejay who discussed her book, “But Enough About Me, A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous.” Attending these events really inspires me to keep writing and do what I love. Jancee, especially, was so great because I admire her and aspire to become a writer like her one day. Cathie was so great to listen to because it seems like she really is able to handle such a major responsibility – overseeing so many magazines as well as have a healthy family and social life. She talked about her book, “Basic Black,” described as the essential guide for getting ahead at work and in life.

It seems as if every month the albums released get better and better. Two of my favorites just released are Alicia Keys’ As I Am and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot’s Fall. They both fall more into the easy listening, which I think everyone needs to listen to just to unwind and forget about all the stressful things in life.

Bands Making a Difference
I don’t know if this section will be in every month’s post but I really hope it is. This month I was blown away by Switchfoot, Relient K and Ruth’s efforts in giving back to their communities. Not only did these three bands donate $1 from every ticket sold on their fall “Appetite for Construction” tour to Habitat for Humanity – raising well over $67,000 – but they also went out on Habitat builds throughout various tour stops, building alongside homeowners and fans that decided to join Habitat and help out. I was lucky enough to chat with Chad and Jon from Switchfoot and they are definitely some of the nicest and most down to earth guys in the music industry today. Their entire crew and fan base are just something special that bands should look up to and epitomize.

December Picks
There are a bunch of great concerts coming up this December – 3 of which are happening just next week that I think everyone should consider going to.

Sharsheret Breast Cancer Benefit Concert
Sunday, December 2
Multipurpose Room, Rutgers Student Center
College Ave. Campus, New Brunswick, NJ
7:30-10:30 p.m.

My friend Monica is putting on a benefit concert and helping raise money for Sharsheret, a national breast cancer organization. It will be a night of live music by female performers including Rutgers’ very own all-female acappella group Shockwave, Hip Hop/Alternative performer Shira, and headlining the show, Ladino artist Sarah Aroeste. Ticket prices are $5 for students and $12 for the public, and are a minimum donation to Sharsheret.

New York Musicians Release Benefit Holiday Album
Wednesday, December 5
The Delancey
168 Delancey St, NY
8 p.m. -12 a.m.

Just in time for the holidays, The Delancey will be hosting a holiday album release party next Wednesday. All proceeds from album, A Family Holiday, will be donated to 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and helping teachers inspire their students to write.

The night will include performances from some of the artists showcased on the album as well as feature DJ sets from Hot Rocks’ Jenny Piston and Underrated Magazine’s Rachael Darmanin.

Singer/songwriter Benjamin Wagner began the project with the help of Family Records. Albums can be purchased the night of the release party or on the MySpace site, There is no cover charge.

Army of Me with Liam and Me
Thursday, December 6
Union Hall
702 Union St., Brooklyn, NY
Doors open: 8 p.m. Show: 9 p.m.
Tickets $10

D.C. rockers Army of Me will be hitting up New York Thursday night playing some of their old fan favorites as well as songs from their debut album, Citizen. You may recognize their single, “Going Through Changes,” from being featured on various MTV shows. Check out their MySpace page for more of their sound.

Artist of the Week Features

New Artist To Listen For: Colbie Caillat

While the name of singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat may sound unfamiliar to some, it won’t be for too much longer. Caillat, who released her debut album, Coco in July, is certainly turning ears. With a calming voice that puts her in the category of singers like Norah Jones, Alicia Keys and Jack Johnson, Caillat is sure to be around for quite some time.

After touring with the Goo Goo Dolls and Lifehouse this summer and her first single, “Bubbly” getting radio play, it’s hard to believe that her major break was through MySpace. Caillat became the number one unsigned artist on MySpace for four consecutive months, having almost 10 million plays.

Perhaps what’s most enjoyable about her style of music is its realness. Her lyrics are simple, but authentic. Coco has a flow to it that many albums these days lack. She is one artist you can keep on repeat throughout the day and never get tired of. The first song on her album, “Oxygen,” represents a certain blend and flow that her entire album encompasses. The light piano and guitar sound accentuate her soft vocals throughout the song. Each track sounds so gentle, as if she is singing so naturally and effortlessly.

In an industry where lip-syncing is talked about more than genuinely good music, Colbie Caillat is truly a breath of fresh air. Songs like “Oxygen” and “The Little Things” embody optimism and romantic hopefulness. Colbie sings in “The Little Things,” “The little things, you do to me are/taking me over, I wanna show ya/everything inside of me/like a nervous heart that, is crazy beating/my feet are stuck here, against the pavement/I wanna break free, I wanna make it/closer to your eyes, get your attention/before you pass me by.”

While current single, “Bubbly” is starting to make waves on the radio with its slow, catchy chorus, another track, “Tailor Made,” is a more upbeat song that tells a story of a sister who has fell in love and is confused with the uncertainty of mixed emotions she’s feeling. Track 11 on her album, “Tied Down,” has a different sound than most of the album. Having almost a funky beat, this song is reminiscent to Jack Johnson’s style of music, but very well done. Overall, Coco embodies a great concept for a debut album. I look forward to seeing where Caillat ends up in the future.

Check out her music video, “Bubbly” on YouTube.

Or visit her on MySpace.

Features First Person

I’m not a groupie…a music lover’s tale of getting that interview.

Despite popular belief, I am not a groupie. I’m a journalist. Sure, I hang around tour buses to get an interview with a band. But, that’s my job. Music has always been a passion of mine. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I thought I could make a career out of it — music reporting that is. I still remember the concert. I was a correspondent at my college paper at the time, The Daily Targum at Rutgers University, when I covered the Gavin DeGraw concert on campus. Tickets sold out in record number, being that his song, “I Don’t Want To Be” was the theme song to a new hit TV show on the WB, “One Tree Hill.” His single began getting radio air time and popularity ensued.

I was standing in the front row, notebook in one hand, camera in the other when it hit me — I could do this for the rest of my life! I’ve always loved going to concerts and trying to meet the band. I did it for fun, but I could actually make a living out of it. Soon afterwards I began writing for my college paper’s entertainment section and while I’ve always enjoyed writing, music writing became my passion. I’d cover concerts on campus, in NYC, at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, a short drive from campus. You name the concert, I was there.

I was lucky enough to intern at Jane magazine as well as MTV News Online during my last year of college and learned more about the magazine/music industry and am confident that this is the field I want to go into. Since my current job isn’t a writing job I’ve decided to blog a bit on what I love — music. I’ll be going to some concerts and hopefully getting interviews as well as doing album reviews. In the meantime, I figure I’ll post past interviews with some bands I’ve covered and will hopefully get those up on the blog soon. If anyone knows of any good concerts or suggestions for this blog please let me know!