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