Features Q&A

Top 10 Interviews

While I’ve been taking suggestions on revamping my blog, some advised cleaning up the sidebar and deleting older interviews to make it easier on the eyes. After much thought, I really can’t just weed out certain interviews because each has a life of its own. Maybe its the frank musician that discussed exactly what’s wrong with the label executives, or the bass player that told me just how “gross” groupies are, regardless, each artist I’ve talked to needs to be showcased. So, when you’re bored at work or just surfing the Web, you have plenty of reading material on your hands.

While going through each interview I came up with my “Top 10” list of interviews that have surprised me or left an impact. Here’s my Top 10 list, in no particular order.

1. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot (photo above)
I’ve been listening to Switchfoot since high school. I’d buy tickets with friends and we’d travel to NYC together at least once a year to see them live. One year, when covering the show for MTV’s concert blog, I was able to meet the guys, and interview frontman Jon Foreman. To meet one of your favorite musicians and talk to him about life, his fears of being a songwriter and pretty much anything else you’d want to know was truly one of the best moments in my music writing career. Read the in-depth interview here.

2. Colbie Caillat
I remember my cousin from California mentioning Colbie Caillat on his visit to New Jersey right after her debut album was released. A few weeks later “Bubbly” exploded on the radio and I just had to buy myself a copy of her album. The next summer she was going on tour with one of her biggest influences (and mine) — John Mayer. I was able to set up an interview for the blog and was surprised at how humble and down to earth she was. Talking about her stage fright before performing and thoughts on just why “Bubbly” took off, Colbie shared insight into her life before and after her music invaded the airwaves. Read all about it here.

3. Marko DeSantis of Sugarcult
This was my first impromptu band interview. Before catching Sugarcult’s set at Starland Ballroom, I noticed a group of fans by the stage door talking to someone. My friend found out it was Sugarcult guitarist Marko, so I asked to interview him. Why not? He wrote down his email address in my notebook with the casual, “Just don’t show this around” and I emailed him questions a few days later. My first nationally published interview, it was featured on Jane Magazine‘s Web site. I still can’t believe I did that, but it paid off. Read the full email interview here.

4. Kris Roe of The Ataris (photo above)
I lucked out being able to interview Kris twice — first for Rutgers University’s entertainment section, Inside Beat, and last year for my blog. Having listened to The Ataris growing up, I attended a performance of theirs at Rutgers and was able to obtain an interview after talking to his manager. After interviewing him with my friend Monica, I remember leaving the room with the realization and determination that, “This IS what I’m going to do the rest of my life.” Haven’t looked back since. Read the full two-part interview with Kris from his performance at Maxwell’s last year here.

5. Joshua Radin
Incredibly honest about the music industry, Radin bought himself out of his five record deal with Columbia and put out his most recent release independently. Not to mention, it hit No.1 on the iTunes folk charts. Not too shabby. A class act to follow, Radin even performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding. Read on for more of his take on the music business here.

6. Stephan Jenkins of Third Eye Blind
I was extremely nervous for this interview. 3eb was one of the most recognized bands of the 90s and having read up on past interviews with the band I was a little worried how mine would pan out. Luckily, it went extremely well — good enough to be used as my first interview feature on! You can read it on Marie Claire here.

7. Vince Scheuerman of Army of Me (photo above)
Possibly the most open singer-songwriter I’ve interviewed, my chat with Vince revealed many of the stories behind his songs, the struggle of making it in the music business and a typical day in the life of a musician. Read on for more here.

8. Tyson Ritter of the All-American Rejects
Oh, Tyson. Brutally honest and never afraid to hold anything back. Though it was a quick 3-question on-the-spot interview outside his tour bus at a concert, it’s one that will always stand out in my memory. Laugh about it here.

9. Jeph Howard of The Used
Okay, I must admit interviewing Jeph on their tour bus was definitely a highlight of the interview. Possibly the longest interview I’ve had, he chatted with me for nearly an hour about life on the road, groupies, and struggles the band has faced. Read all about it here.

10. Sia
Australian singer-songwriter Sia was definitely the most captivating and lively phone interview I have ever had. With her infectious laugh and refreshing take on the music industry, it’s interviews like these that make me continue pursuing this crazy career. You can read the interview featured on here.

That’s my Top 10. What’s your favorite? Did I miss one that should be added?

CD Reviews

Album Review: “Fiction Family”

A few weeks ago I introduced you to Fiction Family. Having spent over a decade touring and recording with their respective bands — Switchfoot and Nickel Creek — both Jon Foreman and Sean Watkins have strayed from their well-known sing-along choruses and strong guitar accompaniment to a more stripped down, darker release. While it takes a few listens to fully understand the depth of this disc, Fiction Family proves the versatility and staying power of both musicians in a time when not many bands are leaving their comfort zones.

Calling themselves Fiction Family (despite Foreman’s wish for the Real SeanJon) the Watkins and Foreman project formed after a few chance encounters at a local coffee shop in their San Diego hometown. After the urging from friends to collaborate over the years, they decided to give it a shot — never expecting a completed release. Taking turns singing lead vocals and alternating between multiple instruments including guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, baritone, ukulele, piano, organ, mandolin, steel guitar and 12-string guitar, the 12-song self-titled debut will be released January 20 on ATO Records.

A major deviation from each musician’s more well-known projects, Fiction Family presents an emotional musical journey for the listener. Lacking flow at times, the disc presents itself more as being experimental — tossing out the rules and expectations throughout the recording process. In fact, in some instances, Foreman and Watkins didn’t even make the tracks together. While one was touring, the other would add parts to a song, then leaving their product for the other to work on when he got off tour. Which, at times works better on some songs than others.

Beginning the album with first single, “When She’s Near” (listen to it here) the listener hears bells, tambourines and light guitar strumming before Foreman’s voice enters. Almost soporific, Foreman’s singing style doesn’t belt out as vigorously as many Switchfoot fans may be used to. Not a complete loss, Foreman’s singing does blend well with the musical accompaniment throughout many of the tracks on Fiction Family.

Most of the album revolves around relationships and, like often in life, are made up of heartbreaking stories (see “Betrayal,” a melancholy song that walks you through a friend murdering his best friend with a fitting, almost funeral-like horn feature at the end of the song) and brutal honesty (see “Not Sure” lyrics, “I’m not sure that I’ll get over you/I’m not sure that I want to”).

“Throw It Away” seems a bit more uplifting lyrically than previous tracks. However, the slow and hushed guitar strumming and string accompaniment accented with Foreman’s saddened vocals beg the listener to question as he sings, “Throw it away/Give your love/Live your life/Each and every day/Keep your hands wide open/Let the sun shine through/’Cause you can never lose a thing/It belongs to you.”

There are strong sections on Fiction Family, but also some peculiar segments as well. One example is “Please Don’t Call It Love” where there is an unexpected haunting close, reminiscent to what it may sound like when walking into a haunted house. Either way, fans of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek will surely enjoy the album and embrace the uniqueness and new roles of each musician. If anything is certain of the release, Fiction Family presents an anomaly, the listener never really knows what to expect. But, after all, isn’t that what music is all about in the first place?

In addition to their Jan. 20 release, Fiction Family is currently involved in a 21-date nationwide tour. Visit their Web Site for the tour dates and to listen to “When She’s Near,” an exclusive track off the album click here or watch the video of it below.
Fiction Family – When She’s Near from ATO Records on Vimeo.


Introducing Fiction Family with Free MP3 Download!

Last November, I had the privilege of speaking at great length with Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman after the band’s New York show. He told me about his side project with Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek:

“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 four or five songs and they started sounding really good,” Foreman said.

He continued, “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 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?”

Their self-titled debut album will be released January 20 on ATO Records (stay tuned for a review in the upcoming weeks). In addition, Fiction Family will kick off a 21-date nationwide tour beginning January 13. Visit their MySpace for the tour dates and to listen to “When She’s Near,” an exclusive track off the album click here!

And, if you haven’t read my interview with Jon Foreman yet you can check it out here.

CD Reviews

Jon Foreman’s Solo Seasonal Journey

In addition to keeping up with my blog, I’ve been contributing to a bunch of music Web sites, trying to get my name out there and keep up my writing skills. My most recent album review is a compilation of Switchfoot frontman, Jon Foreman’s four seasonal EP’s; Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. It was just about this time last year that he released his first EP of his solo project, Fall. You can read my full review at

Jon Foreman fans will be happy to learn that he’s releasing a compilation album entitled, Limbs and Branches, which features the 10 most popular songs from his four EP’s voted by fans, as well as two new songs, “Broken From the Start” and “Over the River.” The album will be available October 28.

If you haven’t yet, check out my interview with Jon from last year here as he talks about his solo project, where he finds his inspiration and the next Switchfoot album.

To listen to Jon’s music be sure to check him out on MySpace or visit his Web site.

Concert Reviews

Jon Foreman’s Acoustic Central Park Show

Working and interning in NYC has it’s pros and cons, but that’s an entirely different post in itself. Today was definitely one of the perks of working in NYC, being that Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman had an impromptu performance in Central Park. Lucky for me, it was a few blocks from my internship so I took a late lunch to check it out and decided I had enough time to go back and finish what I was working on before Jon showed up to perform. A little advice for non-New Yorkers . . . don’t try to catch a cab at 5:30 on 6th Avenue, it’s nearly impossible. After many failed attempts I noticed one of those bicycle drawn carriages (is there a proper name for them?) so yes, I felt like a tourist trying to get to 65th Street and Central Park West in one of those, but hey, I got there in time to catch a few songs so it all worked out!

I arrived shortly before 6 p.m. as Jon was just finishing up “Let Your Love Be Strong” on guitar with violin and cello accompaniment. He then went into “Your Love Is Strong” from his most recent EP – Spring – and the “part two” of his previous song. About 50 or so fans and New Yorkers passing through Central Park surrounded Jon under a giant oak tree, just sitting on the ground listening and taking pictures. At times, it was somewhat reminiscent of sitting around a campfire and requesting songs to sing along with him. In fact, I think that’s what he wanted as right after he sang “The Cure For Pain” from Fall he said, “Let’s play a song everyone knows” as he began “Dare You To Move” – a song he said he wrote while living in his parent’s house.

Although it was hard to see what the crowd favorite was, almost everyone could be heard singing along to “Dare You To Move” and the next song, the infamous “Only Hope” from 2002’s hit film A Walk To Remember. Jon finished his Central Park set with “Learning To Die.” He prefaced the song by explaining that he used to think death was an inconvenience and how our culture verges on us thinking we’re invincible. However, after experiencing death he realized that “we’re all apt to it. It’s a startling realization that life is not about the understanding of living, but how to learn about dying and having to give yourself away.”

After his set, as all of the Switchfoot shows I’ve been to, Jon took pictures and signed autographs for his fans. The last segment of his four season EP’s is due out June 10. Be sure to check out his MySpace for some songs from his Spring EP and check back next week for a concert review from Switchfoot’s upcoming show Saturday, May 3 at Rutgers!


SXSW Recap

No, unfortunately I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to attend the festivities in Austin, Texas, this past week, but hopefully one of these years I’ll cover South by Southwest! Anyway, below is a list of some bands that a bunch of music mags/websites have been covering as well as some of my picks. I’ve been lucky enough to have covered quite a few of the bands that attended this year’s festival for my blog, and at least one band on this list is bound to impress you. Be sure to check out where hundreds of songs are available to listen to from many of the bands that performed at the festival.

Who the music mags and websites are telling you to check out:

I was covering a show at the Knitting Factory a month or so ago and met some guys from her record label, raving about her, telling me that “my homework” was to go home and MySpace Duffy. Well, I slacked a bit on my homework assignment and a few weeks passed, but her name kept coming up all over the summer festival lists so I finally checked out Duffy’s website and was quite impressed with her vocals. She’s been compared to Amy Winehouse, but to me sounds a bit more sophisticated with an old school ’60’s vibe. Check out her catchy song, “Mercy.”

My Morning Jacket
I’ve read that they play incredibly live. A blend of rock and folk music, one of their songs, “Gideon,” featured on their MySpace vaguely reminds me of U2.

Be Your Own Pet
South by Southwest seems to be the preview of their international tour promoting latest album, Get Awkward, available in the U.S. March 18th. The female-fronted punk rock band definitely has lots of energy and plenty guitar riffs to satisfy any guitar-fiend.

Vampire Weekend
Their MySpace groups their music as punk/new wave/classical, an eclectic combination of genres for sure. Interestingly enough, by listening to them, you can see a bit of each genre resembled in their music. Could there be a flute in their song, “APunk”? Take a listen for yourself.

Liam Finn
This New Zealander was named a Rolling Stone “Artist to Watch” in 2007 and I can see why. His mix of folk rock is intriguing to listen to. Check out “Second Chance” on his MySpace, the song starts off with a soft drum beat that blends well with his voice, later slowing down for an instrumental feature mid-song before picking back up again.

My picks:

Sparky’s Flaw
From the beginning chord in their song, “Under Control” I was hooked. I also love the back story on the band – four friends from high school + 1 college roommate = Sparky’s Flaw. Not to mention, three of the guys are in their last semester of college and are recording their debut full-length album (due out this summer) during winter and spring breaks. It’s a pop/rock mix comparable to Maroon 5 and The Fray with a soulful blend of saxophone, keyboard and guitars.

Hello Tokyo
This Brooklyn-based female-fronted band has been building up a strong fan base over the years, playing gigs throughout NYC and D.C. while their debut full-length album is due out this April. While some songs are a bit down-tempo, “Radio” is one of their most upbeat, energetic songs and definitely showcases the strength of the band.

Happy Anarchy
When I caught up with them at a recent show of theirs and asked how they would describe their music, they couldn’t. Which I think is a good thing. They compared it to many different genre’s, not wanting to put it into one certain category. “Its classic American rock music,” guitarist Yuhei explained. “It has a little bit of everything. We take influence from the Chili Peppers to Radiohead to older bands like The Who. I think the cool part is just whatever anyone thinks it is. I’ve learned to like the fact that you can’t be like, ‘Yeah, they’re like this.’ There’s potential for a lot of people to like our band.”

Jon Foreman
The Switchfoot frontman has been getting much praise for his recent solo EP’s from both critics and fans alike. Two of the four EP’s released, titled “Fall” and “Winter,” have that stripped down acoustic feel of being in his living room while watching him play.

Sia’s live performance showcases her incredible vocals and her stage presence is impeccable. Constantly interacting with the audience, taking song requests and nailing high-powered crescendos in many of her songs had the audience erupt in applause and screams at a recent NYC show. This Australian singer definitely is making her name known in America.

There were well over 1,000 bands featured at this year’s SXSW so there’s no possible way any music magazine or blogger could have it all covered. Check out to listen to some of the featured artists and for more SXSW coverage from people who were actually there, check out as well as MTV’s concert blog.

CD Reviews

Jon Foreman- Winter EP Review

Everyone is searching for that one record to listen continuously to, without ever getting tired of. For most of last year that album for me was John Mayer’s Continuum. I would bring my CD player (yes, I still used that until my recent iShuffle birthday gift from friends . . . call me old school, but I still would so much rather pick up the latest album from a music store than buy it off iTunes) back and forth on my hour-long bus rides to my internships in New York.

Currently, I’ve been listening to Jon Foreman’s latest EP, Winter, and as of right now, I can’t stop listening to it – on bus rides to my job in the city, at work and when I’m at home working on my blog. With all the music on the radio and surrounding the music industry today, Jon’s latest EP’s Fall and Winter are a breath of fresh air. Winter is probably the most pure, acoustic-sounding record I’ve ever listened to. From guitar, cello and violin features to harmonica, horns and bass clarinet accompaniment the listener really gets the feel that she is right there watching him play these songs live from his home, which I think was what he was trying to get across in these “home recordings.” I’ll write a review of his latest EP, Winter below, but be sure to check out the songs for yourself on his MySpace or purchase each EP for $5 on his website,

While the EP has its more somber songs, such as dealing with the thought of death or a homeless woman who dies alone, it definitely is a compilation of songs that makes you think, whether its about your own life or the lives of others in this world. Jon is a great storyteller throughout his songs and when the last chord is finished you’re left thinking about that song well after it’s over, a feat that demonstrates just how great a musician he is.

“Learning How To Die” starts off the EP with a simple bass clarinet and acoustic guitar with Jon shortly joining in and singing, “I’m gonna miss you, I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone.” It seems to be the story of a conversation with a friend who is talking about death while he doesn’t want “to talk about the end, and how every living thing goes away.” Very simple rhythm, but so deep in meaning.

The next track, “In Love,” may be my favorite song on the EP, mainly because of the beautiful intro. It sounds like it’s from a part of another culture, almost Middle Eastern or Asian sounding with the instruments played, first strings and then the bass clarinet coming in right before he chants, “In love, in life, in love, in you, in love, in death my love.” It’s just a very relaxing, calming song to listen to.

“White As Snow” seems to be a type of a prayer song he sings. The piece begins slowly with a string feature while Jon starts off the song by singing, “Have mercy on me oh God/according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion/blot out my transgressions.”

Stand out song on the EP is “Somebody’s Baby” – a tale of a homeless woman struggling to get by in life alone, who later dies alone, strangely enough on her birthday. The lyrics are so moving while the strings and soft guitar rhythm featured throughout definitely help with the songs deep, somber feel. Lyrics such as “When the people don’t want you, they just throw you money for beer” get this feeling across. Even though she may be homeless and completely alone Jon sings, “she’s somebody’s baby, somebody’s baby girl/she’s somebody’s baby, somebody’s baby girl and she’s somebody’s baby still.” He continues with the heartbreaking story while singing, “She dreams about heaven remembering hell as a nightmare she visits and knows all too well.” By far the most emotion-filled song on Winter, Jon demonstrates this feeling throughout the lyrics of the song.

Overall, the EP has strong vocals and guitar sound from Jon, already familiar to many Switchfoot fans, but there is much more openness and honesty showcased from him on this EP. From “Behind Your Eyes,” a soothing acoustic guitar-driven track of wanting to see life through another person’s eyes to “I Am Still Running,” a song with lyrics such as “build me a home inside your scars/build me a home inside your song/build me a home inside your open arms/the only place I ever will belong,” Jon showcases his versatility. I’m excited to see what Spring will bring.

Concert Reviews

Jon Foreman’s One-night NYC Tour

Whether it’s performing to 3,000+ fans in a packed arena or an after show performance to 30 or so people waiting outside the venue, Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman is able to connect with the audience, no small feat for a musician.

Jon entered the small stage at Joe’s Pub last Wednesday shortly after 7:30 with his guitar and harmonica while friend and fellow musician, Keith Tutt, accompanied him for the night on cello. I’ve never been to such an intimate performance before, and Joe’s Pub is definitely a great place to get that up close and personal feel. The room was dimly lit by candles provided on each table throughout the venue as well as soft lighting on the performers. The stage at Joe’s Pub is surrounded by tables and red plush couches on the lower level as well as more seating a level above where those in attendance can order dinner and drinks while listening to the night’s performance.

Jon’s set opened up with a question, which later seemed to be the theme of the night, on the topic of cereal from Spencer, a young boy from New Jersey who was eating with his family right in front of the stage. Spencer asked what each performer’s favorite cereal was while Jon later joked, “I’m going to have a great time tonight because I love cereal too.”

First song of Jon’s set was “Southbound Train” from his EP, Fall. Keith began the song on cello while Jon joined on guitar and later harmonica. From the very beginning, Jon’s vocals were strong and well-blended with Keith’s accompaniment on cello. I couldn’t get over how rich and full Jon’s voice was throughout the night, never fluctuating or getting lost in the guitar or cello sound.

Jon joked that he wanted to start off the night with three songs in the key of D so he could get all of his head gear (aka harmonica) out of the way. While a few of the songs I didn’t recognize, they seemed to be a preview of what is to be expected from his future EP’s, Winter, which will be released Jan. 15 while Spring and Summer will be out later this year. Throughout a little over an hour set and 15 songs, Jon sang most of the songs from his latest EP, Fall, as well as some classic Switchfoot hits such as “Dare You to Move” with guest singer Anthony from Bayside and an encore performance of “Only Hope,” which ended the night.

One song performed, “Learning How To Die” from his upcoming EP Winter, was explained as being about death and how a lot of us aren’t learning how to live, we’re learning how to die. Another song, “War in My Blood” is a song he’s written with Sean of Nickel Creek, a project they call The Real SeanJon. “I’ve got some things going on with my friend Sean from Nickel Creek,” Jon said. “Our goal is to get sued by Puffy. Puffy, if you’re here tonight please sue us,” he joked.

Perhaps the most emotional song of the night was “Somebody’s Baby,” which Jon explained is about a homeless woman that lives by his house whom he saw one day brushing her teeth outside. The lyrics and tone of the song are very somber when listening, especially after hearing the story behind the song beforehand. When listening to the lyrics during his performance and realizing the woman dies in the song, the mood is definitely a little heavy throughout the room. After he performed “Somebody’s Baby,” Jon told the audience, “I warned you it’s sad,” and then began playing Hank Williams’ song, “Your Cheating Heart” – not entirely a happy song either. This song had a very simple guitar rhythm to it as well as a nice harmonica feature.

“‘The Moon is a Magnet” is kind of a tongue twister for your fingers,” Jon said before playing it and I definitely could see that while watching him play. He then played two songs, the first song being “Let Your Love Be Strong,” from Switchfoot’s latest album Oh! Gravity, which he described as being the question in the pair of songs while the second song played is the sequel to that song, or the answer to it.

Anthony from Bayside came out towards the end of the night to share the stage with Jon and Keith, helping out with vocals on “Dare You To Move.” He said that Jon called him at 5:30 to see if he would sing the song with him. Anthony seemed a little nervous at first to help out with the song, but overall, his vocals were really strong and meshed well with Jon and Keith’s performance. Jon then covered his favorite Bad Religion song, “Sorrow” and then segued nicely into “The Cure For Pain” as his voice resonated throughout the venue before his encore performance and one of my favorite songs, “Only Hope.”

Opening act for the evening was Dawn Landes. Playing seven songs for about a 45 minute set, she definitely wowed the crowd with her strong vocals and guitar playing as well as the rest of her band on drums, cello and bass. I especially liked one of their songs, played completely acoustic, adding a tambourine to the mix. It was very simple, but well played with a cameo from the cellist. “Picture Show” was definitely an entertaining number, sounding very circus-esque with funny quips sung throughout. Last song of her set was the “Kissing Song,” which encompassed a strong vocal sound as well as a beautiful strings feature. Her voice and performance definitely has a folk sound to it, somewhat comparable to Feist and Regina Spektor. Her album, Fireproof is due out in stores in March. Check out her MySpace here.

Extremely appreciative the entire night for everyone who came out for his performance, Jon told the crowd that he has been looking forward to Wednesday night for a long time. “This whole project has been a real dream for me. Thanks for being a part of it.”

Be sure to check out Jon’s new EP due out Jan. 15. For more info check out his MySpace.

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.


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, 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 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.