Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The party never stops with 48 Thrills!

Portland Oregon's 48 Thrills play honest, hard hitting punk rock with ferociously entrapping hooks . It's fun, it's loud, and it's unpretentious.  It's  music that reminds me of the bands that first drew me into DIY punk rock in the first place and it reminds me of why I still continue to love it decades later.  Call it "pop" punk, "melodic" punk whatever, but the word "great" better be in there somewhere!

Interview by J Jordan Castro

So let’s start out with some introductions, who is currently in 48 Thrills and what does everyone do in the band?
Jimmy plays bass and grunts.
Ken plays drums and hits all the high notes.
Davey is the new guy playing lead guitar and sings as much as I can get him to (which is a lot).
I am Josh and I jangle the rhythm guitar and sing to the best of my abilities.

What band or musician made you want to pick up an instrument and learn to play/write music?
JOSH: I originally played bass and just thought it would be cool to play in a band, for whatever reason my bass guitar hero was Johnny Personality from The Vindictives, that dude was great and sang all kinds of backup vocals which I loved. When I swapped to a 6 string I'd say that Paul Weller and Joe Strummer were people I think I try to emulate.

Daredevil LP released October 31st 2009

How would you describe your music to your music to someone that’s never heard your band before?
JOSH: High energy, sweaty, sing-a-long fun. 

One of the first things that really stood out to me about your music was your lyrics.  There are only a few active melodic punk band that I’ve heard that still impress me with their lyrics (Moral Crux and M.O.T.O. immediately come to mind).  Can you tell me about one of the most unlikely person or event that inspired you to want to commemorate to song?
JOSH: Most of the lyrics I've written have been about the usual suspects (ie: work/ex's/crushes). I have given a go at a few political songs but I always feel like I am not articulating my point well or come off not knowing what I'm talking about. So my answer is probably my dog that passed a few years ago. It probably took me 2 years to finish it, I never thought I would write a song about a dog but he was the best.

You guys are based in Portland Oregon is that correct?  With so much going on there musically, do things ever get competitive with other bands?

JOSH: You are constantly playing the same nights as other buddy bands that are playing other venues, just sorta is how it is. 

What sort of feelings or sentiments do you hope your audience walks away with after seeing a 48 Thrills performance? 
JOSH: That we were fun and didn't suck.

I’ve heard people say that playing/writing music has been therapeutic to them.  Have you ever found this to be true in your own lives?
JOSH: Definitely. I feel like I have written some of my best songs while angry haha.

Hand Claps and Ass Slaps EP released December 17th 2010

 This is the part of the interview that I call “Four Questions I Shamelessly Stole From Other Interviewers.” Feel free to elaborate as much or as little as you wish:

(1. What was the first concert you ever attended without your parents?
JOSH: When I was in high school over 20 years ago I saw Sprung Monkey and Unwritten Law at a Scottish Rite Center in San Diego

(2. What was the first band t-shirt that you can remember owning?
JOSH: Iron Maiden

(3. What’s the first album you remember picking out yourself?
JOSH: Michael Jackson Thriller

 (4. What was the first band poster that hung on your bedroom wall?
JOSH: Iron Maiden

Where are the best places to go or log on to hear and buy 48 Thrills music?
JOSH:  All of our stuff can be downloaded/streamed/purchased at

Than's How It Go!Oh!Ohs! LP released  October 10th 2014

What’s coming up for you guys in the near future?

JOSH: We are going to record a couple songs for a 7" and film a video for one of them in a few weeks which will be a first for us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Get your kicks with Jeremy and The Harlequins!

Jeremy Fury and his band The Harlequins play music that's heavily inspired by early rock n' roll. They're not a corn ball nostalgia act playing the local casino circuit though.  They're what you'd imagine the byproducts of James Dean if he had lived long enough to meet Bettie Page on a stop of the '59 Winter Dance Party Tour.  They're also very much the anxious, restless, tech savvy city dwellers of this millennium.  With so many young bands taking their cues from the psychedelic, punk and new wave era, it's refreshing to hear a new band that takes a step back even further that are also infatuated by monumental musicians like Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.

Interview by J Castro

Let’s begin with some introductions; who is in Jeremy and The Harlequins and 
what does everyone do in the band?
JF: Well, Craig Bonich is on guitar, Patrick Meyer is on the other guitar, Bobby Ever's on bass, and Stevie Fury is on the drums.  I'm Jeremy.  I sing the songs.

Tell me how you all met and decided to play music together?
JF: My brother Stevie and I have been playing music together forever, being that we're brothers and all.  We met Craig on tour in previous bands.  Some time went by and we decided we were going to make a record together.  A day before we went into pre-production we met Patrick.  He joined the band that day.  Bobby is the most recent addition and he's been playing with us for almost a year now.  We didn't really decide to play together, the universe decided for us.

What band, musician or songwriter would you say has had the most influence in your life?  Tell me a bit about the first time you heard them; where you were, who introduced you to them etc...
JF: Particularly with our band, the obvious influences are Elvis, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison.  Coincidentally, it was all music we were raised on.  My parents played it in the car while taking me and my brother to school.  I guess we came back to it.   Besides the obvious late 50's and early 60's influences, some others would be T-Rex, Mott the Hoople, and other early 70's glam-ish rock 'n roll.  I'm also really into 50's and 60's crooner music, everything from Paul Anka to Scott Walker.

Is the current sound you guys have what you had in mind when the band first started up?
JF: Yes sir.

Tell me about your new LP American Dreamer you guys released earlier this year.  I know this might seem like a Sophie’s Choice scenario, but do you have a particular favorite song on the album?
JF: Mine change from time to time.  My favorites for the time being are “Right Out of Love”, “Trip Into the Light”, and “White Star Bright Love.”

Tell me about the title of the record “American Dreamer”.  It’s so simple yet it can mean a lot of different things if you think about it, is there a story behind that title?
JF: I think it resonates to the time we are living in.  You hear politicians today talking quite a bit right now that the American Dream is dead.  To me, now is the perfect time for the American Dream to be reborn.  We have the potential to do so much on our own now, like making a record or your own music blog, but also making your own beer, your own clothing company, etc.  If we exercise the potential of the time we are in, in a few years we will look back on the now and think this period we are in was a pivotal time in the course of America. 

You guys have made a few videos for some of the songs on the new LP.  Do you guys enjoy the process of making them?  Do you have a favorite music video you remember than made an impression on you when you were a kid?
JF: Again, because the technology is available, we are more capable than ever before of making videos.  I do enjoy the process of making them and feel that having a video is just one more component of how someone may enjoy our band.  

And as for the second part of the question, sadly I was one of those kids who grew up without MTV.  There used to be this station called The Box where you called in and could pay for a music video to be played.  Marilyn Manson's Dope Hat was probably the first video that impacted me, but I don't know how that translates to where I'm at now.

American Dreamer LP released July 2015

Your music is obviously heavily influenced by 50’s rock ‘n roll.  How did you first get into that kind of music?  Can you remember what song or record you first heard and who introduced it to you?
JF: The first song I learned how to play on guitar was “Bye, Bye Love” by The Everly Bros.  I was 7 years old.  I suppose I came around in a circle.  

I was reading an interview with a former drummer for The Cramps and he commented on how guarded Lux and Ivy were with their image.  So much so that he felt they were imprisoned by it.  Do you think having an image or a “look” is something a lot of rock bands these days should pay more attention to?
JF: I think it depends on the artist as to how much they want to pay attention to their image.  It's pretty clear though every successful artist has an image no matter if it is highly curated or not.  Nirvana's image was flannel, t-shirts, and torn up jeans.  Kiss is make up and metal armor.  If you put a member of Motley Crue in Death Cab For Cutie, I am not so sure people would buy it.  

What would you say is your favorite part about making music: writing, recording, or performing it?
JF: I like it all really.  There is some type of gratification in the completion of the process in all three areas of being in a band.  Even finishing a song feels good knowing that it's on it's way to the rest of the world.  Shows are the most immediate; seeing an audience immediately react to the music, but every aspect is great.

Where are the best places people can go or log on to hear your music?
JF: Head to  You can hear it on Soundcloud or Youtube from there.

What lies ahead in 2016 for Jeremy and The Harlequins?

JF: We will be putting out our second album, we'll be touring and we'll have some more videos coming out.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An Interview with Gulag Beach!

Gulag Beach are a political powerhouse of a punk rock band from Berlin Germany.  They walk the fine line between stripped down 77' style Punk and later, harder hitting Oi!/ Street Punk.  Their music uniquely and exquisitely exhibits anxiety, high energy, and enough entrapping hooks to make the Cenobites in Hellraiser jealous. Unlike the Russian Gulag, these four Germans aren't here to force anyone into their beliefs.  They offer their opinions on society and world events in lyrical form and they present them loudly.  Weather you choose to listen or succumb to the pogo is up to you!  

Interview by J Castro

Let’s start out by introducing yourselves.  Who is in Gulag Beach and what does everyone do in the band?
GB: We're the Gulag Beach Boys from Berlin and have been around since late 2013. So far we played nearly 50 shows in Germany, Poland and Greece, released one demo tape cassette ("No ice above the DMZ") and two vinyl-LPs ("North Korean Sun" and "Favela Blues"). There is Hupe on vocals, a smartass and weisenheimer, because he is that old. Then we have Hässlon on bass, who always has to drive being the only one with such a cool car. We also have Marcel on guitar, always tired and overworked and Nils on the drums, always late and playing with broken cymbals.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
GB: Berlin is quite big and a lot of hedonists are stranded at this melting beach so it's easy to find each other. Anyway, it all started as a project. Hupe usually is a drummer and has been doing this for many years. He was bored by playing drums and wanted to sing. He knew that Marcel and Nils share more or less the same music taste like him and so they met. Hässlon usually plays guitar and sings and joined Gulag Beach some weeks later after buying a bass in a Berlin so called Späti (kiosk). We all knew each other (more or less) before the band started and all have bands beside Gulag Beach.

Can you remember who it was that inspired you to want to pick up an instrument and learn how to play/write music?
Hupe: I remember when I was a kid and around 6 or 7 years I was very impressed by Udo Lindenberg. My aunt listened to Udo's "Sonderzug nach Pankow" behind closed doors because we had GDR and Stasi was everywhere. I liked his cool voice, his sunglasses, his appearance at all and from this day on I started playing air guitar on a battledore. As a teenager I started playing drums after listening to NY Hardcore and Deutsch-Punk. I was always autodidact and in my early 30s I started singing, after being inspired by Abe (Bodies) or Greg Attonito (Bouncing Souls).

Nils: I may be a little bit hyperactive. Playing drums is probably a good way to overexert myself in a good way. And that's the point. For me as drummer (by the way, also autodidact), it's always impressive to see drummers hitting the set so hard that they are already soaked in sweat after a few minutes on stage. Harda Tider for example. You should see this band live and direct your attention on the drummer. So powerful! In the end, it's too many bands that could be mentioned. Besides, Hupe - our singer - he's a very good drummer as well (haha)!

Hässlon: When I was 14 and I realized that most punk song structures are done quite easily and most people that did punk rock haven't been real musicians, I thought to do this by myself and started playing acoustic guitar. One year later I had an electric guitar and played in my first punk rock band. Bands that inspired me in those days were Slime and Die Toten Hosen and later all those English punk bands from the late 70s.

Marcel: Yes, I can remember, but it's like a cliché story. When I was the age of 9 or 10 and I saw Die Ärzte and Die Toten Hosen for the first time on TV performing their songs "Schunder-Song" and "Kauf mich", it touched me and I wanted to play an instrument as well. A few years later I got influenced mainly by early German punk stuff.

How would you describe Gulag Beach to someone that’s never heard your music before?
GB: We are a primitive melodic punk rock band that likes to play live. In our opinion a punk song doesn't need much more than verse-chorus-verse-chorus-interface-chorus. Just like the Ramones did many years ago.

What sorts of things inspire your lyrics?  Can you remember the strangest person or event that inspired you to want to write a song about?
GB: An easy answer to the question as our demo and first LP was only inspired by North Korea. We've been writing 13 songs about the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea because EVERYTHING there is so fucked up, so far away, so special, so surreal. Like a sect. And so we remember the strangest person everyone from the KIMnasty: Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and little fatty Kim Jong-un. Anyhow we like to write songs about dictators such as the KIMs or Putin or Pol Pot.

For us, Punk is a good way to express important things happening in the world in a more simple way. Describing things in a few sentences. To put it in a nutshell and to be subversive (at least we try). If we sing about the favelas in Brazil in the first-person perspective, it's clear that we are not affected by ourselves. Look at us. We are four white guys. We don't want to treat someone like a child, we empty the artistic freedom that Punk enables! And we think it's important not to care only about the shit going in our own lives.

I’ve heard people say that writing/playing music is therapeutic to them.  Have you ever found this to be true in your lives?
GB: Just try it Mr. Castro! We recommend it. Making music is fun and it helps you break out of daily life. A band is always very special by meeting so many different characters inside the band and seeing the result after the 1st song is written and also by meeting so many different characters outside the band at places where you never would have gone if a band wouldn't exist. Interesting and maybe therapeutic but anyway something we all don't wanna miss.

What sorts of feelings or sentiments do you want your audience to walk away with after seeing one of your live shows?
GB: As we are a political band and playing pretty sad songs we are not really entertaining our audience in the way that most bands do. But we absolutely like to play live and hopefully people recognize this and share this. We don't expect applause but pogo.

Can you remember how you were first introduced to punk rock music?  Tell me if you can recall who it was that first played it for you, where you were and what song/album you heard?
Hupe: I discovered Punk when one of my distant cousins played this Toxoplasma song "Pass dich an" on his tape deck that sounded as shabby as his mohawk looked like. It was after school when we met at a secret spot to smoke our first cigarettes and I liked the rough and pissed sound and the lyrics. Toxoplasma was also one of the very first "bigger" punk bands that played close to my village after the wall broke down. Anyway my first "punk record" was Kreator's "Extreme Aggression" on tape as well after my aunt bought this cassette in Hungary totally overpriced and one-side-only-recorded (so the vendors at the black market ripped off my aunt) back in 1989. I will never forget the first time I heard Mille shouting the chorus "Extreme Aggression" through my little ghetto blaster. All I wanted was Volume Max.

Nils: That's easy. My eldest brother once gave me a Misfits record. I can't remember which one. One of the releases from the 80's. I still love that music! I went on with political HC/ Punk from U.S. like Dead Kennedys. Later all this Skinhead/ Punk Bullshit from UK. Oppressed, Blitz, Angelic Upstarts. I still love it! That is to say, I didn't start my love to Punk with German music like Toxoplasma. I recognized all this good stuff from Germany a little bit later.

Hässlon: My first real punk album was Slime's "Yankees Raus". I liked its lyrics and its forceful energy that you as an outsider makes you feel strong and all you want is smashing your fist and spitting your snot in some asshole's face. If you like this music you feel it.

Marcel: My first punk record was the Bloodstains across Germany-compilation. I got it at a record flea market when I was still in elementary school. I was really interested early on in music and wanted to get some vinyl records of bands I liked so I introduced myself to punk rock. I was looking for a sound that kicks me. I found this sound in early German punk, even if some of those bands were singing in English. It really impressed me how punk bands shout out their feelings, what they are thinking, this non-conformity, the aggression and always that fast music.  I still love all the songs off this compilation. Maybe my favorite were the Buttocks with their song “Kreatur:, the Pack with their song “Com'On” and the Cretins with their song “Samen im Darm”. 

I don’t like using the term “guilty pleasure” just because I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for liking something if in fact they actually do like it.  So with that being said, what record do you own and enjoy that you think some Gulag Beach fans would be surprised you like?
Hupe: I like Rio Baile Funk (Funk carioca) out of Brazil's Favelas. I'm glad I don't understand Portuguese 'cause the lyrics must be very very stupid. And I like everything CCR did - John Fogerty is the shit!

Nils: I personally like Hip Hop and rap music a lot! But not this "Zeckenrap" bullshit (mostly rap from german "antideutsch" guys). I like music that is authentic with good lyrics. There's a lot of great Hip Hop and rap from the Banlieus in France. I love Keny Arkana! Or Jedi Mind Tricks from the US.

Hässlon: For me there's no other kind of music that nearly has the energy that punk rock has. But there are bands I like all by myself and don't match into this "genre": Fehlfarben, Element of Crime or Die Aeronauten.

Marcel: I like some pop punk stuff like Cub or Tiger Trap. It's a hectic and stressful world and I need music to relax and to calm me down and that's exactly the right music for this! The acoustic stuff of Keven Seconds also helps me to relax. I also like some new Indie bands from the States like The Babies and King Tuff.

I hear a lot of old school punk influences in your music.  Are there any current bands you guys like listening to that inspire you from Berlin?
Hupe: Well, for me as the view from a singer - currently from Berlin I like Mark Sultan singing in The King Khan & BBQ Show, Jasper Hood singing in the About Blanks or Elli in the Inserts . But sorry, there's not only one band from Berlin that inspires me in doing Gulag Beach.

Hässlon: Don't forget the Dreipunktbande (RIP) because of their nihilistic attitude that you can even hear by just listening to their instruments. I also mention The Shocks (RIP) that had a lot of energy and steam. But finally I am more inspired by bands of Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hannover or ex-GDR.

Marcel: There are not many current Berlin Bands who inspire me. Maybe The Shocks or NOXON did but I don't think that they inspire me in what I'm doing in Gulag Beach.

Nils: All the bands my friends from Berlin play in. I don't care if it's not my kind of music or simply bullshit. It's cool to see friends live on stage and have high level talks (haha) about music afterward.

Where is the best place for people to go or log on to hear and buy your music?
GB: You can stream all our songs here and buy here

What’s in the future for the band? Any new recording or touring plans in the works?
GB: As just released our new LP in November 2015 we're currently writing new songs and playing shows in Europe. Maybe we can also find a label in the US to release our crap there. And maybe we buy Nils our drummer some new cymbals.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

An interview with Patsy's Rats!

Christian Blunda and Patsy Gelb aka Portland's Patsy's Rats play the kind of rock n' roll music that gets wedged in the folds of your damaged brain the very first time you hear it. Their songs pop and burst all around you with well paced tempos, strong yet melodic guitar hooks reminiscent of Peter Case and delightful vocals that are a cross between Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry.  It's music that's too good to pigeonhole as "punk" and too interesting to dismiss simply as "pop".  It's not noisy or avant garde, Patsy's Rats simply make magnetic music that instantly charms the human soul.

Interview by J Castro

CB = Christian Blunda  PG = Patsy Gelb

How did you two meet and decide to play music together?
CB: Patsy and I were fans of each other's bands 4 years ago, mine being Mean Jeans and hers being Scavenger Cunt. We started writing songs together, though the first time we performed together was playing guitars in Patsy's dad's band Giant Sand at a Portland festival called Pickathon 3 summers ago.

PG: I’ve always believed the best way to start a band is to set up a show, before you have members or songs or even a concept, then let the deadline do its work.  We did that. Oh and we did have a name, it was The Rat.

CB: As members started rotating in and out, the project became Patsy’s Rats. I am the constant rat, the others come and go as they please. Bass and drums have been played by Aaron Levy formerly of The Memories, Kyle Raquipiso of Meth Teeth, Nat Brower from Nancy, Jeff Taylor from Sleeptalker, and Stevie Pohlman from Mope Grooves.

If you can single out who the most influential person in your musical career and have the opportunity to speak to them face to face, who would that be and what would you say to them?
CB: Tough question, but it would really be an impossible dream come true if I could get Phil Lynott, Joey Ramone, and Harry Nilsson around a table with an open bar tab for a night. I'm fascinated by all three of them, plus it would be a heck of a party.

PG: Oh yes, maybe we could throw Alice Cooper in there too just for fun, I would love to sit at that table no question. But honestly I think the most influential person in my musical career is my old man. He has had this kind of career my entire life and I think has gone about it in a completely unique way, for better or worse. I respect that and definitely look up to him. I get valuable insight on every aspect of a musicians life, from recording vocals to getting your guitar onto an airplane as a carry on (not easy). He is also responsible for putting some pretty special instruments in my hands, like the loud red Gretsch that is my senior by about 20 years.

CB: Yeah, Alice circa 1970 can come to the fantasy party too.

What sorts of things influence you’re song lyrics?  Are there any subjects you try to stay away from, if so why?
CB: By now, practically every thought and every turn of phrase have found their way into a song, and most of them are awful, so it can be hard to find your own voice. We're a new band still uncovering ours, but lyrically we aim to be rascally, romantic, and genuine.

PG: I agree with that, I also think our songs are playfully dark. We have song titles like “Its Gonna Hurt” “Hard Time Karen” “Empty Bottle” and “Nowhere Close”, though not intended to be strictly cynical or depressing I think that this dark side of life or whatever is just something both of us have always been respectful of.

I’ve read that playing and/or writing music can be therapeutic.  Do you find that to be true at all?
CB: I obsess over every song I write, often to their detriment I'm sure, but molding the song and evolving it into its final form is always really satisfying, no matter how long it takes or how simple the song is in the end.

PG: I think I am the opposite, I end up writing when I don’t mean to. I’m usually driving or walking or working on something else. Melodies must come from a part of my brain that works well while this other part is distracted and can’t bother it. I think I am learning a lot from working with an experienced songwriter like CB, we have completely different approaches (if you can call mine an approach) and I think they end up expanding on each other nicely. I like happy accidents and he is much more methodical. Oh maybe that didn’t answer the question… I find playing shows to be therapeutic for sure, its a special kind of “high”.

Patsy’s Rats are currently based out of Portland.  What’s it like playing shows for your band in a town like that, a town with so much going on musically?  Do you ever feel any sort of competition?
CB: I've been playing in the Portland 'punk' scene for 8 years with Mean Jeans and it's always been changing, some eras better than others. With Patsy's Rats, which is more of a pop rock project, I'm interested in branching out and playing new venues with new bands. I suppose we're lucky to live in a town with such a wide variety of both.

PG: Yeah I suppose too.  And I don’t get a competitive vibe from the Portland scene really.

And speaking of playing shows, what feeling or sentiment do you hope your audience walks away with after seeing a Patsy’s Rats show?
 CB: I just want people to walk out with the songs in their head. 

PG: Yeah!

You’re debut single is coming out soon on La-Ti-Da Records (one of our favorite labels!).  How did you hook up with the fine folks over there?
CB: Right when we finished our first recording session, we played a show at The Know that Tim Horner from La-ti-da attended. He wound up crashing on our couch, and right after he left I thought, 'shit, why didn't I ask him to put out our first record?'. So I wrote him and he obliged. The single is Rock & Roll Friend b/w Hard Time Karen and we're really excited to release it. 

If you got exiled to a deserted island but were allowed to take one meal, one person and one record to live out the rest of your days there, what would these all be?
CB: Patsy and I would bring a bucket of mushrooms and the Donny Denim Hey You! single, as long as there's a 45 adapter.

PG: But wouldn’t we wish we brought a full length album instead?  Siiiike. It IS that good.  Drugie mushrooms or normal?  I like both.

I’ve read about how many “life lessons” a person can learn by playing golf.  What sorts of these “life lessons” do you think people can learn by being in a band?
CB: The only thing I ever learned from playing golf was that I’d rather be playing guitar. Talk to me in ten years about the rest.

Where are the best places to go or log on to hear Patsy’s Rats music?

What lies ahead for the band?  Any more recording or touring news?
RATS: Lots of exciting news. We have a 7-song cassette coming out in November on Burger Records. The La-Ti-Da single should be out soon, and we just filmed a music video for "Burnin' Honey" - a song that will be on our second single on Dig Records. We will be on a Europe tour opening for Giant Sand from Nov 28 - Dec 13. In early 2016 we’d like to record our first LP which we're writing now and do some US tour dates.