Categories
Interviews

Jon Foreman

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jon Foreman has a busy year approaching. On Nov. 27th he will be releasing the first of four solo acoustic EP’s. Fans can purchase it on his website, jonforeman.com. Since Switchfoot has broke with Columbia Records, the band has more freedom to release what they want when they want, giving more back to their fans. Jon was nice enough to sit down with me after his concert at Hammerstein Ballroom as the “Appetite for Construction” tour hit NYC Saturday night to answer a few questions about the inspiration behind his music, as well as the many side-projects he’s been working on.

What is your inspiration behind each song you write?
My inspiration for each song is the specific place where I’m at in life. I’ve heard that books come from locations and I think songs are the same way. Songs can be a little bit more ethereal. So maybe it’s a little bit more of an emotional, spiritual place than a physical location. For me, most of my songs come from the problems in my life. When I’m happy I hang out with my friends and go surfing. That’s not when you write a song. You write a song when you’re depressed, angry and bitter and you’re trying to figure out the world.

Tell me a little bit about your solo EP’s.
One’s coming out next week and that one is called Fall. They’re all six songs a pop, they’re coming out on my Website jonforeman.com. It’s pretty amazing to think that I can put them out. I’ve spent a lot of time on them. A lot of these songs are the more personal songs that don’t really belong on a band record. So now I can put out six songs on an EP. I’ll be doing four EP’s. It’s going to be called Fall, Winter, Summer and Spring. I’m working on Winter now, I haven’t even thought about Spring yet, I’ll think about Spring when it starts getting warmer out. I’m doing all the album art myself. I’m handwriting all the lyrics. It’s really fun.

What can be expected for the next Switchfoot album?
I think we’ve learned a lot the past year. It’s been a time of really finding who we are. I think every record kind of has to reinvent itself. The most dangerous place for a band to be is doing something that they’re good at. I think it’s much better as a band to do something that you could actually fail at. We’ve always tried really hard to push ourselves. I think that the difference with this new record is that in the past we were a little afraid of the success that we had achieved with The Beautiful Letdown. There’s just this weird fear that you feel.

Will Botwin, President of ATO Records, stopped by to talk to Jon for a bit during the interview. He’s foreseeing the upcoming year for Switchfoot as a big one.
It’s going to be a beautiful, daring, different, comfortable, fantastic year. It’s going be great. There’s going be a lot of activity next year. They’re one of the hardest working bands in the world and are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, on and off the stage.

Jon explained the relationship Switchfoot has with Will.
A little history on Will, he’s just a great guy. He’s currently the president of ATO Records, they put out the Radiohead record and all that. The history is, he was president of Columbia when we were there. So we’ve got a lot of history with him. He’s just a great guy. You don’t meet good people that often in the music industry. We like to work with good people. And that was the thing, we had so many great relationships over at Columbia. It’s not like anti- it’s more like when all those people leave, there’s no trust. And that’s what music is built on. It’s a relationship, its trust. The moment the trust goes away, then it’s really hard to make music that you feel comfortable with. Any relationship. Marriage, girlfriends, dogs. It’s all like, well, can I trust you. And for us, I feel like it comes to a point that we’re surrounding ourselves with people that we trust so that’s the best place to move from.

Can you tell me about The Real SeanJon project?
Yeah. The Real SeanJon. Puffy hasn’t sued us yet. Which is good. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe Puffy suing us would be the best thing that I’ve ever been a part of. For record. We started out kind of just joking around. It was one of those projects that was just like, “Yeah, let’s do it, it’ll be fun.” And then four months into it we had 4 or 5 songs and they started sounding really good. And it was this type of thing that we started thinking, “Man this is actually a legitimate project that we’re both really proud of.” And so, that’s kind of where it’s at now. I mixed it myself, basically in my bedroom back in San Diego. So we’re going to try to get somebody else to kind of, remix it. Bring it a little bit more to life than my ears can. I stand in front of guitar amps all day, how good of a mixer can I be?

Are you ever afraid to write a song? I mean, maybe at Columbia you were held back a bit?
I mean everyone does the whole big, bad record company thing where they blame the big, bad record company for all of their problems. And I don’t see it that way. I think we had some great years over there. There’s a lot of the things that I think happened over there that were really wrong, that even they would regret, like putting Spyware on our C.D., putting the copy protection, pulling all of our product off right before Christmas. Those are the things that they regret too. But, ultimately, when you’re writing a song…I think the biggest thing that we were afraid of was that we got to a point that we sold more records than any of our heroes. Like back in San Diego, we grew up listening to Rocket from the Crypt, No Knife, Heavy Vegetable, these are people, who big to us was selling 30,000 records. So then you sell almost 3 million records and it’s just a weird thing, like what does a band that sells 3 million records do? You know. I think that was the only time I’ve been afraid as a songwriter. Just kind of, almost afraid of writing something too big. You want to kind of bring it down a little bit. I don’t know. But, I don’t even know that that fear is justified because I’m sure honest music can happen at a big level too.

A lot of songs on The Beautiful Letdown so many people can relate to and your whole world-view is very open to everyone. That honesty – I think that’s why people are so drawn to it.
Yeah. I think it is too. I feel like with the solo EP, that’s kind of the beginning of a different way of communicating that. You can go use a megaphone and talk to an arena, or you can kind of bring it in and do like, what I’ve b
een doing lately which is an
after show, where I just play down the street. I might even be doing one tonight if there’s kids out there. It’s just fun. And I think that’s the beauty of music. It’s a communication where it’s going back and forth.

Everytime I’ve seen you perform, it’s been this type of venue, size-wise, it’s kind of medium. Do you see yourselves playing at Madison Square Garden or Continental Airlines Arena? Because you don’t get that interaction, you don’t get to see faces that you get to see at these venues.
I don’t know. I think we’d have to write songs that belong there. I think we’ve got a few songs that might translate, but I think for us . . . I didn’t grow up going to big shows. I grew up going to Soma. The first incarnation, it’s been basically established in two different places since then. The Ché Café, Soma, The Casbah I’d sneak in. The Belly Up. I played there before I was 21, we’d get kicked out after we played. We played with Phantom Planet back in the day at the Viper Room and we both were underage.

When you guys first started out, you were labeled as being a Christian band. How do you feel your music and lyrics have evolved throughout the years to what it is now?
Well, you know it’s funny. When we signed to Re:think Records it was because Charlie Peacock was the guy running it. It was because he was a believer. Ultimately when you start out you’re just playing wherever anyone will let you play. We’ve played coffee shops, we played bars, we played churches, we played everywhere. To us, it never was a big difference. We didn’t see it as a genre. And then you go to Nashville and you realize there’s a whole music section that’s devoted to Christian music and you realize there’s lines drawn and there are all sorts of “we are this, they are that.” And so that’s where we got really nervous. We’ve never called ourselves a Christian band. We’ve always kind of felt that somebody should stay at my house for a week, see how I treat people, and then if you want to call me a believer after that by the way I live my life and treat people, then that’s an honor. That’s like the biggest honor we can receive. But for us to fly our own flag and say, “Yeah, we’re into feeding the homeless and loving people and that’s what we do,” it comes across kind of tacky.

How would you describe your music to people who’ve never heard it before?
We’ve always called it music for thinking people. That and guitar-driven pop. Rock. You know, rock ‘n’ roll whatever that means. I feel like, the bottom line is back in the 60’s and 70’s, being a rebel meant sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. And when that becomes the norm, then what is the rebel voice for the kids? What’s the rebel voice for today? For me, I feel like the most icono-classic person I could think of, beyond Bob Dylan, beyond whoever, Marilyn Manson would be Christ himself. I feel like his position in society is, in many cases, they pegged him into a role . . . the way I understand the Scriptures; they’re exactly against who he was. The idea that he was for the underdog, he was for the poor, he was furious with the religious right for his time. For us to put words in his mouth is a really dangerous place. I feel like rock ‘n’ roll is a good outlet to be able to kind of, speak that rebel voice through 2,000 years later. Even the religious right need to hear the gospel. All the way through the Pharisees. It’s a matter of saying I’m the problem. I guess it’s a matter of saying I’m not pointing the fingers and drawing that we-they line. Saying, no, we’re all in this together. Let’s not try and say there’s a Christian section because it’s not true. It’s false. It’s a lie to some extent.

Categories
Concert Reviews

Switchfoot, Relient K and Ruth Raise Over $67,000 on Tour Benefiting Habitat for Humanity

Special thanks to Wendy Hu for the amazing concert photos! All credit goes to her. Feel free to click the link above to read the review on mtv.com.

Minutes before 10 p.m. Hammerstein Ballroom went dark and the sound of guitar chords from radio hit, “Meant to Live” could be heard on stage. Screams echoed throughout the room. The spotlights came on and Switchfoot quickly began playing “Oh! Gravity” – first single off of their sixth album of the same name. The energy was high, both on and off the stage as each new song was played. “Stars” was their second song of the night and after that was one crowd favorite, “This is Your Life,” as singer Jon Foreman sang at the edge of the stage, leaning into the crowd.

Having been to three Switchfoot shows in the past three years, I’ve always wondered how they keep up their energy for every night of the tour. Drummer Chad Butler explained that the motivation is connecting with the audience.

“In our live show there’s a conversation, it’s a two-way dialogue. To have the audience singing it back is amazing. To have people after each show come up and say how much a song means to them, that’s motivating,” Butler said. And the audience was singing along all night.

Switchfoot kept the show fresh with a few remixes of old hits throughout their set. One song in particular “Gone,” started out with band members singing a Beyonce song and then intertwining Rihanna’s “Umbrella.”

Having recently broken from record label Columbia, Jon Foreman announced that this is Switchfoot’s first show in New York City as an independent band.

While singing “American Dream,” the entire band paused, for which seemed like eternity, frozen in their spots, seemingly making the point that a house with a white, picket fence and 2.5 kids is not, in fact, their American dream.

Singer Jon Foreman has the most energy of any performer I’ve come across. During “Dirty Second Hands,” he played a symbol, spinning around in circles while hitting it. Slowing down the night a bit, when playing “On Fire,” Jon jumped into the crowd and started singing to the audience, while balancing on the first level railing of box seats adjacent to the stage. Later, during hit single, “Meant to Live,” he crowd-surfed into the audience for a while, the crowd later gracefully placing him back on the stage.

The highlight of the evening occurred when all three bands took the stage to perform a song entitled, “Rebuild.” Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Matt Thiessen of Relient K wrote “Rebuild” and released it specifically for their “Appetite for Construction Tour” where $1 from every ticket is going to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Fans can go onto Switchfoot.com and purchase the song, thus directly donating money to Habitat for Humanity. The tour has raised over $67,000 for Habitat, all three bands helping out on builds throughout the tour.

“Our goal is to encourage people to donate time locally in their own city. One of the most amazing things about Habitat is you don’t need to have any prior experience or expertise . . . they’ll put you to work and you make a difference. I’ve been really excited to see our audience come down to the sites and help out,” Butler said.

Matt Thiessen of Relient K agrees. “One of the best things of this tour is the meaning behind it,” he told the audience. “One dollar of every ticket goes to Habitat for Humanity. We want to encourage everyone to check out their local chapters and go to some sites. It’s a lot easier than you think. We’re never completely content with where we are in life. We need to be compassionate. Being compassionate is what makes us feel alive.”

The rest of the Switchfoot set was strong. Jon played an acoustic number with special guest, Keith Tutt on cello, for the infamous crowd favorites, “Only Hope,” and the beginning of “Dare You to Move,” until the rest of the band came out, resulting in the entire Ballroom singing along to the last song while Jon thanked everyone for being a part of the last 10 years.

Butler said “Dare You to Move,” is one of his favorite songs to play live. It’s one of the songs that they play halfway around the world and the audience sings along to every word. “We wrote it many years ago and it’s the highlight of the night. No matter where we go the audience is singing along. There’s a unity that exists inside a rock club that rarely exists anywhere else where you have strangers putting their arms around each other singing along. It’s a connection that I rarely see anywhere else. Music is a powerful thing. It brings people together.”

Both Relient K and Ruth had strong sets. Relient K played some new songs from their latest album, “Five Score and Seven Years Ago,” as well as surprised the crowd with their holiday version of “Sleigh ride,” from their holiday album, cleverly titled, “Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer.” With fake snow falling from the lights and an inflatable snowman, Christmas tree, and polar bear, Relient K got the Ballroom into the holiday spirit.

Like Switchfoot, Relient K played an hour set showcasing hit singles, “Be My Escape,” and “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been.” They even covered 80s Tears for Fears hit, “Head Over Heels” with remarkable precis
ion, as well as wrote a “love song” dedicated to hit TV show, “The Office.”

One of the highlights of Relient K’s set was when
they hand-picked three members of the audience to help them out on a song. One boy played a few guitar chords for the song while two girls helped out on tambourines.

Opening act Ruth performed for their first time in New York. They had a strong 20 minute set. Hailing from Washington State, they played a song entitled, “Here in New York,” and you could see their excitement throughout their performance to be playing in the city that never sleeps. Lead singer Dustin Ruth told the crowd how stoked he was to be on tour with Switchfoot and Relient K, explaining how surreal it is for Ruth to be on tour with their heroes.

Although the concert ended at 11 p.m., Jon had a special treat for fans waiting outside in the cold well past midnight. He took out his guitar and gave 30 or so fans an impromptu performance of songs “24” and “Somebody’s Baby,” which will be featured on his “Winter” EP. Jon and the rest of the guys from Switchfoot were on 35th St. signing autographs and taking pictures until 1 a.m.

Categories
Interviews

Switchfoot

 

San Diego natives, Switchfoot, are about halfway into their “Appetite for Construction” tour, where $1 from every concert ticket goes to Habitat for Humanity. With a new album in the works for next year as well as a solo EP from singer Jon Foreman hitting shelves later this month, Switchfoot has been keeping busy. Drummer Chad Butler took some time out from the tour for a phone interview and talked to me about helping out on Habitat builds throughout the tour, being away from home while theCalifornia fires were raging, the recent split with record labelColumbia, and his favorite venue to play at. Catch them in concert at Hammerstein Ballroom this Saturday, Nov. 17 with Relient K and Ruth.

 

How is your tour going so far?
It’s excellent. It’s halfway over now and kind of a bittersweet thing to be thinking about the end of the tour. It’s been so great – the band, crew, a really great unity.

 

$1 from every ticket sold on the tour is going to Habitat for Humanity. What made you decide to choose this organization over another?
Several of the guys in our band had been involved in Habit builds inNew Orleans andKentucky. It’s an incredible organization nationwide, and has a chapter in almost every city. Our goal is to encourage people to donate time locally in their own city. We’ve gone out and built alongside people in the community. One of most amazing things about Habitat for Humanity is you don’t need to have any prior experience or expertise…they’ll put you to work and you make a difference. I’ve been really excited to see our audience to come down the sites.

 

I’ve seen you several times in concert and you always have so much energy. How do you keep up with each show every night after years of touring?
Gosh I wish I had some secret recipe for staying healthy! Really, for us the motivation is connecting with people. I think for so much of the importance we put on bands on stage, it’s a false reality. The hour we spend on stage is less important than the rest of the day and how we interact with people. To hang out with fans after the show and talk about life is one of the most important parts for me. In our live show there’s a conversation, it’s a two-way dialogue. To have the audience singing it back is amazing, to have people after each show come up and say how much a song means to them, that’s motivating. Our motto has always been “life is short, live it well.” It comes to have a significance. Each day that I wake up and get to play music that I love and get to travel the world with my best friends is great and I don’t take it for granted…each breath is a gift.

 

At first you guys were known more as a Christian-based band. After 6 albums you’ve greatly expanded your music and fan base. Was there a process at all or goal to grow out of being known more as a Christian band?
We’ve always been very up-front about what we believe and who we are. Faith is just as important to me now as it was 10 years ago. Only other people will call you what they will. For us it’s always been about making honest music. For me, I don’t see a significant change in who we are at all…I think hopefully there’s a broader, wider audience. I think it’s a wonderful thing to have more people listening to the music. For me it’s about thinking people. I think it’s to make honest music for thinking people.

 

Are there plans in the works for your next album?
Yes. We started this summer. By August we recorded 14 new songs.We’ve been recording on the road a little bit. When we get done with this tour we’re going into the studio and will be putting that out probably a year from now.

 

What kind of sound can fans expect with the new album?
I think we’re definitely experimenting. We’re in a mode of trying new sounds and so far it’s been really exciting. In the mean time we’re pretty excited. Jon’s finally getting to put out his solo acoustic EP’s. As a newly independent band we’re getting more of a creative outlet; being able to put out music whenever we want, and put our music out more directly to our audience whenever we could. Jon’s EP comes out later this month titled Fall.

 

You guys have your own record label now, right?
Yes, it’s called Lowercase People Records. It’s something we started as a vehicle to get our music out more directly to our audience. Jon also has a side-project with Sean Watkins from Nickel Creek, called The Real SeanJon. He’s working on putting that out early 2008. We’re just excited to finally hear some of these songs Jon’s been playing late at night at coffee shops down the street after our concerts. Those are finally getting the light of day. It’s an exciting time for us as a band. This is our first tour as independent band. We’re doing something much bigger than selling records. It’s playing music with the people you love and a much bigger cause than Switchfoot. We’re changing people’s lives around the country and the world.

You guys seem a lot happier since the break with Columbia Records.
It works best for us. We’re a band that likes to communicate directly with people one-on-one. We’ve always tried to break down audience and band. Taking out the middle man is a way to communicate more directly.

What does the writing process typically involve for the band?
Most of the songs start with Jon and an acoustic guitar and we build upon that – simple lyric and melody. It’ll expand and take place as we build it as a team. It’s a daily thing; we’re always working on music. Everyday in the dressing room. We’ve got computers and microphones and guitars. We’re always recording and working on new ideas. There’s a constant flow of music.

It must have been a rough time for you being on the road with the fires in San Diego. How did you deal with being on the road and away from home when all of that was going on?
It’s surreal to look at the streets where you grew up on CNN from the back of a tour bus. It’s very surreal. I’m really grateful that our families are okay. I really feel for the people that lost so much – homes and all of those memories. When it was happening you have that desire to help in some way. We felt we were helping in the best way we could – in light of the fact that this tour was about rebuilding and working in Habitat for Humanity. I’m sure Habitat will be helpful in aiding those families. It’s a reminder that you’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Those things that we hang on for sometimes, the things around us are meaningless in the scheme of life.

What’s a typical day like for you on tour?
On this tour, in a lot of ways, we’re doing tangible work. We’re able to go out to a job site, meet with familie
s that are working with Habitat and encourage local heroes -volunteers spending their hours helping their neighbors. This tour has been much more tangible and exciting to me than just talking about the band or our latest single. It feels like there’s much more of a human element for this tour, it feels really good.

I read that you’re planning on doing a tour for the troops in Iraq. Can you tell me a little more about it?
We’ve been trying to get over there for a while, being from San Diego and having Camp Pendleton being so close and people we’ve grown up with in the Middle East serving our country. Regardless of how you feel about the politics and the war, these are our friends and family. To give back in some small way will be a really exciting thing. We’ve been trying to coordinate that. It’s kind of a volatile situation there right now. If there’s a way to do that we’ll make it work.

Do you have a favorite song you love to play on tour?
Well, right now the new song, “Rebuild,” that’s been released on this tour is fun to play. “Rebuild” was written by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Matt from Relient K. The song is inspired by the idea that we’re a generation that has time to kill and put our hands to good use…it’s a song we’ve been playing every night at the show where all the bands come out to the stage and it’s a great part of the evening.

For the Switchfoot set, for me it’s a really exciting thing to be halfway around the world and have someone singing along. There’s a song “Dare You to Move,” that we wrote many years ago and it’s the highlight of the night. No matter where we go the audience is singing along. There’s a unity that exists inside a rock club that rarely exists anywhere else where you have strangers putting their arms around each other singing along. It’s a connection that I rarely see anywhere else. Music is a powerful thing. It brings people together.

Do you have a favorite venue to play at?
Soma in San Diego. That’s always a fun place to come back to, sort of homecoming whenever we get to play in San Diego. The club has lots of memories. I grew up going to rock shows there. When we play there it seems fitting, a natural you know, sort of full circle completion of a musical journey that started in San Diego and continues every time we come home.

What inspires your music?
For me, finding hope in dark places. We’ve had the opportunity to travel and see a lot of the world in the last few years. I’m still learning so much about the world and myself. Few experiences we’ve had in dark parts of the world…there was a trip to South Africa a couple years ago. Just seeing the light in the kids’ eyes and joy that they have surrounded by poverty and disease and they’re living in a way that I could only hope to in terms of real joy in the midst of pain. I feel we’re so sheltered here in the Western world. The more I travel the more I realize there’s hope. It has redefined what I view as hope…the experiences like that shape your world view. I’m very much a student still. Music has always been asking questions, talking about things in a song we’re not comfortable talking about in other situations. Songs are vehicles of exploring the world. I grew up listening to Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. They’re not afraid to wear their heart on their sleeves and talk about things no one else is talking about. With music you can talk about things that are taboo and have deeper conversations, dialogue that you wouldn’t in everyday life. For me, music is a very powerful thing.

Categories
Concert Reviews

Ded Clothing/Break-In Records Launch Party

Saturday night Mainstage in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, was the scene of a dual launch party – Ded Clothing and Break-In Records. Five local Jersey bands provided entertainment for the night, including a first-time performance from Delta Falling, as well as Dan Maxwell & His Band, The Rose Riot, Vampire for Hire, and Crash Romeo. Whether you’re a fan of punk rock and mosh pits or slower indie music, there was something for everyone.

Delta Falling started out the night with an incredibly energetic stage presence. Possibly the crowd favorite, it was hard to believe this was the band’s first performance. Ded Clothing founder and bass player of Delta Falling, Ian Caravela, thanked the crowd for coming to the launch event saying, “I’ve dreamed of having my own clothing company for years,” while continuing to thank friend Dane for helping with designing the clothing. Those who purchased clothing at the concert can go to Dedclothing.com once the site launches to decipher hidden messages from the merchandise bought. Here are Dane and Ian showing off Ded Clothing.

Delta Falling is made up of ex-members of Veronica and Chris Batten and the Woods. I love to see bands that have a great stage presence, and this band is definitely one of them. Whether it’s one of the guitarists jumping around stage or the singer reaching into the crowd, Delta Falling sure knows how to put on a show. The band has a strong guitar sound and while this was only their first concert, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for them.


Dan Maxwell & His Band was the second act to perform for the night. And, while they were a bit more subdued than Delta Falling, they are very talented performers. Despite being only a three-piece band, they had a strong sound and singer Dan Maxwell showed off his vocals while the guitarist and drummer accentuated his singing very well throughout the performance. According to their MySpace page, Dan Maxwell & His Band place more into the indie/rock/country genre combination, which is an interesting compilation, but suits them well as a band.


The last three bands – The Rose Riot, Vampire for Hire, and Crash Romeo had more of a punk rock feel to them, all three having incredible energy. Lead singer of The Rose Riot kept jumping into the crowd while singing during the last few songs and dancing with some of the girls near the front of the stage.


Vampire for Hire’s goal for the night was to get the crowd dancing. And they somewhat succeeded. Before playing “Shut Up and Dance,” the band joked with the audience saying, “If you don’t dance then you don’t like America.” Lead singer Brent Carpentier continuously jumped into the crowd singing and dancing throughout their set.

Crash Romeo falls more into the pop-punk genre. They just finished up their second album, which is expected to be released in March. Having been in the studio the past few months, Crash Romeo featured some of its older music as well as a few new songs. They had the audience clapping along during most of their set, some people in the crowd even attempted to start a mosh pit, dancing around towards the end of their set.


I talked with Danny Goldberg and Brian Luciano, founders of Break-In Records, after the show about their thought process in starting a record label and their hopes for the future.

What was the process you took in starting a label?
Danny: Basically Brian and I met through a band that I was managing. I had mentioned my interest in starting a label and they suggested that I meet up with Brian. From the beginning him and I clicked, so a partnership seemed natural.

What were your reasons behind starting Break-In Records?
Danny:
I have been working in the music business for many years now, and I basically got sick of what was going on around me. Labels and the media industry were taking the art out of what is creative expression and as the labels and businesses behind them were thriving, the artists were starving. After going on tour as a tour manager with Halifax, it really opened my eyes and I swore when I got back that I would never work for anyone but myself ever again and Brian shared the same mentality.

What are your hopes for Break-In Records?
Danny:
Our hopes are obviously to be a successful record label and to branch out to other media. Be more than just music. Our forte is music, so that is what we started with and that is what we plan to build our reputation on. Basically, not to be another company that everyone forgets about.

Brian: We want to do things differently. We’re about shock value.

What types of bands are you planning on signing?
Brian:
Right now we’re working on the rock scene. This kind of genre. We’re open to anything. That’s the problem most
labels have – especially new labels – they’re too one-dimensional and that’s why they don’t go very far. You have to be able to diversify yourself. Anybody with pure talent is what we’re looking for. This scen
e now is our way of building ourselves into the industry. You gotta start somewhere. If you try and go too big too fast you always fail, so you gotta start small.

What makes Break-In Records stand out from the other labels?
Danny:
With my vast experience in the music world and Brian’s incredible business savvy and business experience, we don’t see how we can fail. The one thing that we pride ourselves on is motivation and to not just be another faceless indie label.

Categories
Q&A

3 Questions with Tyson Ritter from the All-American Rejects

I’ve been a fan of the All-American Rejects since their first single, “Swing, Swing” came out when I was in high school. Since then, I have been to various concerts of theirs at completely different venues. Everywhere from an intimate concert at Starland Ballroom to a crowd of hundreds, maybe even thousands, at Giants Stadium for the Bamboozle Festival a few years ago. So when my friend invited me along to help cover a concert at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton last summer, naturally I went. She was working on a piece for the Trenton Times about the venue and how it’s trying to attract a younger crowd. Hence, the concert, entitled Popfest, was put on by local radio station WPST 94.5 attracting many of its younger listeners. In addition to the All-American Rejects, performers included Nick Lachey, The Fray, Bo Bice, and The Click Five.

My friend was promised a press pass to interview some of the bands, but for some reason it fell through. This is where my ingenious Plan B came in. “Let’s just go find their tour buses,” I remember telling her matter-of-factly. And to preface the interview below let me just tell you once again, I am not a groupie, despite the fact that I did take a picture with some of the guys from AAR. They were really short on time, so we only got to do probably less than a 5-minute impromptu interview. But hey, I’ll take what I can get!

How is it for you playing a show like Popfest at a smaller venue vs. your bigger arena shows?
Our first time to step out in an arena was with Fall Out Boy two months ago and we just got off that tour. So I guess coming off that tour this might seem smaller, but this is still a large show to us. Definitely a different energy though. At a pop show, people don’t move as much.

Do you enjoy playing shows like Bamboozle more?
Oh yeah. That’s like [Bamboozle] the voice of a generation all in one spot at the same time. They’re the future leaders of America. Even though they may listen to music that’s not contemporary or run of the mill, those people are a lot different when they go to Bamboozle. The people who go to Bamboozle are definitely…I don’t know, more cerebral than normal people, I find. Whereas at these shows people scream and go crazy like five seconds after they see us. At Bamboozle a kid will be like ‘What’s up Tyson?’ and try to talk to you, as opposed to try to bombard you or scream until you give into some weird wish that they want. But it’s all fun.

Would you consider coming back to Trenton?
Oh yeah. It was great, the kids were loud, girls were giggly. The next time we come here we’d like to come and play a proper show. We had the option to headline but we wanted to make The Click Five look bad. We don’t like bands that don’t rock their instruments. There’s a difference between playing your instrument and rocking it. I don’t play my instrument. It’s really kind of, I like to call it ho-hum music because after one song you kind of go ‘ahhhh’ [referring to bands who don’t rock their instruments].

Gotta love the honesty…here’s some pics with lead singer/bass Tyson and drummer Chris.


Categories
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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PWfB4lurT4

Or visit her on MySpace.
http://www.myspace.com/colbiecaillat

Categories
Interviews

Sugarcult

I was lucky enough to interview Sugarcult guitarist Marko DeSantis after a concert at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey last year. You can check out the article I wrote in the link above. Below is the entire interview. Enjoy!

What bands inspire you and who do you listen to?
I always say, taking history is just as important as making history; in that I mean that it’s great to go back and rediscover music from the past, but you can’t discount the music being made in your own generation. I like bands that are rooted in the tradition of rock n roll, but update it and push it forward; that’s what Sugarcult is about. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of new bands: The Adored, TV on the Radio, The Strays, Maxeen, Against Me; and always diggin’ old jams by Tom Petty, Smashing Pumpkins, The Clash, Superdrag, The Cars…

Where do you find out about new bands if the radio is too commercialized for you?
Truth be told, I’ve never really listened to commercial radio; growing up it was all about going to shows, word of mouth, mix-tapes, magazines, hanging out in indie record shops and digging through the racks. Today it’s not much different, but things like iTunes, websites and file sharing just make it easier to get turned on to stuff. My favorite way to discover a band is to see them play live and unexpectedly be blown away by undeniable greatness!


What inspires your music?
There’s an old quote attributed to John Lennon, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I think the same thing can be said about creating music; you set out to document your experiences and what’s in your head and then it becomes something else bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

What is the main theme of your new album, Lights Out?
Escapism and the guilty pleasures people indulge in that bring temporary happiness but are ultimately self destructive; casual sex, drugs, pop-culture, etc.

How is this album different from your last two albums?
Each of our records stands up on it’s own; we like it that way, we don’t want to be redundant and puke up the same old same old. On Lights Out, we broke new sonic ground, we nearly killed ourselves in the studio trying to make sure the music and lyrics were the best they could be; Tim practically had a nervous breakdown, he grew a beard, never changed his clothes, the whole nine yards!

This album seems to take on more of an anti-radio argument, how so and why?
I guess after 5 years of doing this professionally we’ve had our hearts broken enough times to see that there’s a reason it’s called the “music business” and not the “music friends”. It’s all so political, but at the same time we can look on the bright side and be happy that good music is getting a fair shake: the White Stripes, the Killers, U2, Tool, etc. It’s just sad when places like Philadelphia and New York City don’t even have a station that plays rock music anymore.

Are there any venues or audiences you’ve hated playing for?
We’ve been lucky so far, no real horror stories; but there are some shit-holes out there; but we celebrate the shitiness!

You’ve played on tour for Green Day, Warped Tour, and your own headlining tours, how is each of these different or the same?
Green Day was just surreal; getting to play huge sports arenas, it’s a total fantasy world! Warped is always a fun communal vibe, they keep it real and the crowd’s always insane; personal hygiene is a real challenge though! Our own tours are the best ’cause we get to play as long as we want and bring out new bands we believe in.

Do you ever get tired of performing any songs?
Not really, because you’re feeding off the energy of the crowd and it’s either a new song or an old song that brings back fond memories of the old days. Hearing 1000 people scream along to a song we wrote 6 years ago in a tiny practice space in our hometown when nobody cared about us is always a thrill.

What’s your favorite song to perform and why/least favorite?
I’ve always loved playing the song Pretty Girl (the Way); it’s been in our set for almost 7 years and still feels fresh. I don’t like playing our really slow songs ’cause it’s hard to mellow out and get into it when you’ve got so much adrenaline going on, plus they scare me.

What are you doing after this tour?
Laundry and then getting ready for the next tour! We’re going back to Japan soon; we’ve been there 9 times already. I have a few side projects with new records too: The Lapdancers (record came out in Aug.) and Bad Astronaut (new record out in Nov.) so I’ll probably be busy promoting those as well.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
Loud and sexy!!!

How is Lights Out the turning point for the band, as Pagnotta says?
I hope so, we want to always move forward and keep taking chances, while still staying true to our vision. This album is more sophisticated, the arrangements are less conventional, we kind of tore up the rule book and started fresh. It’s a new beginning, so forget what you think you know.

What are your hopes for the future with the band?
I want to play in all the countries we haven’t yet been to; I’d love to play in China, Brazil, Eastern Europe, Australia, etc. Basically keep making good music, becoming a better band, and chasing new adventures…Fuck it, while we’re at it why not sell a million records too!

Categories
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!

-Annie