Monday, June 22, 2015

Golden Pelicans

     Orlando, Florida's Golden Pelicans play a mean, sweaty, hard hitting style of punk rock that I haven't heard done well in decades. Picture a singer with a vocal style somewhere between Tom Waits and Motorhead's Lemmy and a band backing his every move that's so powerful, I'm pretty sure they could have single handedly victoriously stormed the beach and Normandy, won the Vietnam War, and chased those nasty aliens back to their home planet in Independence Day. Golden Pelicans music comes at you pretty hard and fast yet it rides on a wave of good ol' fashioned rock n' roll riffs in the same way The Dead Boys or X (Australia) music did. The band is getting ready to release their second LP on Total Punk Records later this summer and from what I've heard so far, is heavy enough to throw the earth off it's axis. 

Interview by J Castro

Let’s start out by telling us who’s all in the band and what everyone does in the mighty Golden Pelicans:
ERIK: Rich is on drums, Sammy plays bass, Scott strums the guitar, and I sing and dance.

You guys are in Orlando, FL; tell me a bit about your town. Is there a good supportive crowd out there that goes to shows and gets what you guys are doing musically?
ERIK: Orlando used to be a nice sunny town with drinkable water. These days it's roving street gangs, rabid pit bulls, and the constant yellow swirling chemical smog that blots out the sky.

Tell me a bit about what bands influence Golden Pelican’s sound.  How would you describe your music to someone that’s never heard your band? 
ERIK: I think we sound like a broken margarita glass being farted out of a prolapsed butthole.

You guys released your debut LP last year on Total Punk records.  One thing that impresses me most about your band is the ability to capture such a raw primal energy on your recordings.  Did that come easy for you guys and why do you think it’s so difficult for so many other punk bands to do this?
ERIK: I imagine other bands are up there in there skyscrapers having some jerk with a ponytail telling them about the real rock sound, and what's gonna get them the best trim. Well, not us.

And speaking of the LP it made Pitchfork’s Shake Appeal top releases of 2014 (As well as in my 2014 top 10 if I may add, ahem!)  Have you been surprised at how well received it has been by so many people?
ERIK: Thanks, it has been great. 

Photo by Christopher Garcia

One more quick question about the LP, this one I must admit is for my own personal curiosity.  Tell me about the KILLER cover art:
ERIK: The art is by Mac Blackout. He is amazing. We wanted to get like a cosmic pelican with a space orc tearing ass across the galaxy. Came out great.

Judging by your music, I can imagine your live shows can get pretty intense and out of hand at times. Tell me about the most memorable Golden Pelicans show, good or bad:

ERIK: We like shows in the south a lot. We had a real fun one with Blind Shake in Minneapolis.

What sort of feelings or sentiments do you want people to walk away with after experiencing one of your live shows?
ERIK: I would like them to leave with a real cool beer buzz.

Where are the best places for people to go to or log on to listen and buy your records?
ERIK: we have a band camp also. The best place is whatever rathole that will let us play, we will sell you stuff in person.

What lies ahead in 2015 for Golden Pelicans?
ERIK: New record out soon on Total Punk, European tour in August. We will probably do another single later on this year.


Narco States

Photo by Katie McGuire

     Narco States are a five-piece band from Minneapolis, MN that just recently released their debut LP in late 2014 called Wicked Sun on Piñata Records. The record emits a unique brand of psychedelic infused aggressive rock n’ roll that sounds like it could have been played in a scene from the film Apocalypse Now. Narco States intensely weave melody, darkness, and agitation into a thick blanket that’s gently laid over your head as you sit back and start to spin around the room to their music. While so many bands these days are going around giving the term “psychedelic” a bad name, Narco States are here to repo it, rub some dirt on it, and throw it back to the masses the way it’s supposed to sound. 

Interview by J Castro

Let’s start off with some introductions, who’s currently in Narco States and what does everyone do in the band:
Michael MacBlane-Meyer - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Ritual Sacrifices
Aaron Robertson - Lead Organ, Farfisa/Wurlitzer, Beard, Incense
Nate McGuire: Lead Guitar, Hendrix Riffs
Erik Johnson: Lead Druummz, Pomade and Black Rimmed Glasses
Nick Sampson: Lead BASS, Drugz

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
MICHAEL: I posted one simple Craigslist ad that said "Looking for someone to play my Vox Organ" and at the same time decided to browse the ads and I came across a post from Nate that mentioned The Growlers and 13th Floor Elevators. Then the emails began to fly and samples were traded and it turned out we all kind of knew each other from other places and times so we got together and the rest, as they mystery.

Your music has been compared to the likes of The Rolling Stones, the Stooges, Black Sabbath, and the Cramps. All of these bands had iconic and influential front men. Tell me a bit about your personal favorite front man/woman; when did you first see them perform and what you felt the first time you saw him/her?
MICHAEL: Phil May from The Pretty Things, Andy Ellison from John's Children, and Stiv Bators from Dead Boys have all had big effect on me but the most influential lead man was Stewart Lupton formerly of the band Jonathan Fire Eater. I had been going to shows for a long time and had numerous influences but he was the single greatest frontman I ever saw live. I had never seen anyone writhe around, straddling the microphone stand while looking so dapper and dodgy at the same time. It was like Patty Smith and Lord Byron had a child together and he was up there on stage.

With the way most of today’s contemporary culture is rooted in convenience and instant gratification, do you see rock n’ roll bands ever being as much of an influence to popular youth culture as they once were?
MICHAEL: I think you'd have to ask the youth that question. As I get older I can feel myself getting jaded and thinking no music or bands are as good or influential as the ones I have adopted as my favorites or experienced when I was younger. My gut reaction is to say that it doesn't seem likely, but that's the same expanding gut that wants those damn kids to "stay off my lawn," so I sure hope the answer is yes. The youth look like a bunch of virtual obsessed zombies to me. I hope there is a real and true underground scene boiling somewhere under all of this technology that will shake the foundations of passive rock fans and technophile hermits.

AARON: I agree with Mike. But it is hard to argue that rock has anything even close to the influence that it had in the ‘60’s/’70’s. It just seems to be more of a commodity now for most people, just another product. And these days most people don't even OWN music, they just "rent" it on Spotify. Maybe someday there will be a point where it's more important to contemporary culture, but I'm not counting on it. There's just too many other distractions today with technology.

                                                                               Photo by Katie McGuire

With much of your obvious musical influences being bands that were in their prime decades ago, are there any current bands that inspire you?
MICHAEL:  Although some may have broken up already, I am currently really digging on Summer People (especially Burn the Germs), Bits of Shit, Los Tones, and Japanese Motors.

AARON: Mount Carmel, Radio Moscow, Pentagram, The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Kadaver, Orchid, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Daikaiju (who I just discovered when we opened for them, amazing performance).

I was reading an interview with Keith Richards where he said that anyone buying digital music is getting short changed. Do you agree with this?
AARON: Absolutely. My belief is that digital music is good for the car or whatever, but for serious listening I think it's hard to beat vinyl. The sound, the look, the artwork, the ritual of playing records, the mechanical process, even the crackles and pops, it's all part of the experience. That's just me though, and I tend to be pretty obsessive about vinyl.

With that being said, what do you think of the whole vinyl revival: fleeting trend or a legitimate resurgence? There has also been some comments about record processing plants turning away small labels that have kept them in business for years with small runs, in favor of pressing major label’s releases with much larger runs, any thoughts on that?
AARON: Revival? I've been buying and listening to vinyl since I was a kid in the ‘80’s. To me it's something that's always been there; it hasn't ever left. I go to the same record stores that have been open since the ‘70’s in some cases, and most of my friends have done the same over the years. The only difference now is that it's easier to get new releases on vinyl and there are a lot of labels re-releasing older stuff (which is really cool for getting records that were previously really rare). It's cool that people are discovering how awesome the format is, but from my perspective, not much has changed. So as to whether or not it's fleeting or not, I don't know... I lean towards it being a legitimate resurgence because of how cool records are, and people tend to get very passionate about it (like myself). The downside to the hype is like you mention, plants turning away some customers. Even worse, the wait times to get vinyl pressed compared to the "old days". It's not uncommon to wait 6 months to get a record pressed, when it used to be a month or so. I guess the plants go where the money is, but there are definitely some smaller plants (Palomino records comes to mind) that are geared toward smaller pressings and labels, and in my opinion offer way better quality and service than some of the bigger, more popular plants that don't give a damn how many flaws are in your final product and take months to deliver.

What are the elements that you’ve felt all have fused together when your band has had a really good show? Can you tell me about the last show Narco States did that you felt went really well?
AARON: I feel like our last couple of shows has gone really well, because we have a stable line-up once again that has jelled over time. For me, it's simple, a good show happens when you transcend reality and let the music play itself.  In my case, I almost go into a trance and just let it happen. When all of us are comfortable and don't have to concentrate on what we're playing, those are the BEST shows. Kawabata Makoto from Acid Mothers Temple said in an interview that I read years ago something along the lines of the musician not really doing anything more than tuning into the notes/music from the universe and letting that through via your instrument. I think there's some truth in that.

MICHAEL: We just need the right mix of medication and illegal drugs. It's all about balance.

What sorts of things influence your lyrics? Are there any subjects you purposely stay away from?
MICHAEL: Mental illness, Esoterica, Cultism and Existentialism compose the bulk of it. However there is some sex, relationship and self-deprecation salted in as well. I stay away from Politics, Cars, Stature, and Materialism.

Where are the best places to go or the best sites for people to find out more about the band, listen to your music and buy your records?
AARON: goes to our Bandcamp page with all of our music (most of it available to stream for free), and there are links to shows and our Facebook page there.
Check it out!

What does Narco States have in store for the rest of 2015?
MICHAEL: Well…Since Satan refused to let us sign a contract…we are shooting a music video, playing some killer shows and recording a new album this winter and doing some touring as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Los Pepes

 Photo by Al Overdrive

     London’s Los Pepes have been singing their anthems of heartbreak and despair at high decibels for a few years now, releasing a few EP’s and a marvelous, critically acclaimed LP last year titled Los Pepes for Everyone! on Wanda Records. Now they’re getting ready to release their fourth EP called And I Know/Say Goodbye also on Wanda Records.  What this band has been doing from their inception is taking Small Faces and Beatle-esque harmonies and adding some angst and crunch to them, much like The Boys and The Jam did back in the late 1970’s. They started out with that blue ribbon recipe since their first demo tape and keep perfecting their own unique take on rock n’ roll with each release. Los Pepes; they’ll make you wanna dance, they’ll make you wanna break things, and when the dust settles you’ll wanna call the one that got away.

Interview by J Castro

Let’s start out by telling me who’s all in Los Pepes and what everyone does in the band:
BEN: Los Pepes’ home is in London but it’s an international organization. We have members all over world from Kyoto to Los Angeles. Due to geographical constraints and various visa headaches you never know who’s going to be there. Currently you’re going to see/hear some configuration of these guys: Myself - Ben Perrier (vocals/guitar) Gui Rujao (guitar/vocals/drums) Seisuke Nakagawa (bass/vocals) Kris Hood (drums) Adam Smith (bass) Shaun Clark (drums).

How did you guys all meet and decide to play in a band together?
BEN: Just over three years ago now I started this up. I had a bunch of Testors style punk rock lying around that I wanted to play. I got together with Jay (the original drummer) and recorded it in an afternoon. That was all it was really gonna be. This was under the name Los Pepes. It wasn’t until Seisuke got involved that the ‘Pepes of today started shaping up and things got going. Back when Seisuke lived in London lot of time was spent smoking cigarettes and listening to 45’s. That’s when we got driven to do things properly. 100% drive to make something that we really like. We should have played music together a long time ago so we’re making up for lost time. That’s why we have to write a lot of songs. As long as we write songs there will be Los Pepes. All the other guys have been met along the way through a mutual love for the same music and the need to play it.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted Los Pepes to sound like or did the music kind of take on a life of its own once you guys all started playing together?
BEN: Well, like I said originally it was very straight down the line high-energy punk rock. It’s completely changed since then. I’m not even sure how it changed so much into a power pop thing but it did. I guess smoking all those cigarettes and listening to those 45’s. I’ve always loved writing melodies but hadn’t done anything with that too much in previous bands. The delivery is still real high-energy and punk and that will always be cuz that’s who I am, same for the other guys. Only now the focus is songs. We want to write the best songs we can that’ll do something for someone somewhere. With guys like Seisuke and Gui around there’s a good team working on that.

I don’t normally ask bands about their names, just because it’s a bit of a cliché, but I find the name Los Pepes particularly interesting just because it’s a bit political and you’re music really isn’t. What was it about the group Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar that you found intriguing, enough to name the band after them?
BEN: Ha. Yeah that’s exactly where the name comes from. We have nothing to do with Columbia or Pablo Escobar and you’re right we’re by no means a political band. I did read “Killing Pablo” many years ago. It’s not even a very good book, more the kind of shit you would buy at an airport or something. It is a great story though. I actually have a friend whose family fled Columbia for the UK because of Escobar. He’s fucking crazy unsurprisingly. More to the point Los Pepes sounds like a Spanish garage band with a horn section or something, which is very misleading. Misleading people is always good. Give them one more reason to write you off before they listen to it.

 Photo by Al Overdrive

What sorts of things typically influence your song lyrics?  Are there any subjects you try to purposely try to stay away from?
BEN: It’s mostly stuff that causes you trouble that you write about I find. You write a song and you feel better. I guess love and all that stuff is one of the biggest sources of trouble for human beings so that features pretty significantly. There’s other stuff in there too. A drop of nihilism here, a fuck you there…sarcastic humor about things but mostly its love songs. That seems to be where it’s at at the moment. As far as staying away from stuff, we basically play rock and roll but I hate all this self-aggrandizing bullshit. You know, that “hey bitch, I’m so motherfuckin’ rock and roll” business. I see that around and I know those guys are full of shit. Unless you’re the real McCoy like GG Allin or something I ain’t interested. I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about me, I can’t understand why you would want to tell everyone how “badass” you are. On the other end of the spectrum overly sugary “I love you baby” stuff also gets annoying real fast.

I was watching an interview with John Lydon and he was talking about how much he hates Green Day because “there’s nothing about them that’s original, they don’t do anything that’s their own.”  What do you think about that statement?  Do you feel a band has to be “original” to be significant?
BEN: That’s good question. The way I look at it more or less all the music I like is not from today. There are exceptions but then even the new bands I like don’t really sound new. I got the Sleaford Mods new album the other day and that is pretty original but it’s basically still punk in many ways. The music we make is heavily influenced by old music, most obviously ‘70’s/’80’s punk. But there’s a difference between that and being contrived. We write a song, that’s a new song. It belongs to us and it’s not some rehash carbon copy of something else just to be retro or cool. It maybe inspired by other music but it has new energy. That’s because it was written in an honest attempt to make something good that didn’t previously exist. If that isn’t original I’d say it’s still significant somehow. Fucking hell, it looks like the Romans ripped off the Greeks when they put up all those pillars but who gives a shit. If I were lucky enough to be a figurehead of a major musical and social movement in late ‘70’s Britain maybe I’d also wave my finger at soft targets such as Green Day. My issue with Green Day is I think they suck.

This is the “lightening round” portion of the interview.  Feel free to elaborate as much or as little as you’d like to the following questions:

1.     What was the first concert you attended without your parents?  
BEN: I’m pretty sure it was the Melvins at the Garage in London sometime in the mid ‘90’s. I was born in 1981 by the way.

2.     What was the first band T-Shirt you owned?
BEN: I think it could well have been a Melvins t-shirt from that very show.

3.     What was the first record you bought with your own money?
BEN: I can’t remember exactly but I’m pretty sure it was an AC/DC record, probably either “Highway To Hell” or “Back In Black.” It was definitely something that said “kid getting into rock and roll for the first time.” More significantly, at a similar point in my life I remember hearing “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop. I really liked it a lot. I went to the record shop and asked for Iggy and the guy sold me Stooges Raw Power no less. My life was changed. I was very young and I couldn’t believe what the hell was going on with that record. I’m so glad that guy sold me the wrong record.

4.     What was the first band or musician’s picture/poster that you put up on your bedroom wall?
BEN: Something either grunge or ‘80’s US hardcore punk, that how I rolled as a kid. I still believe Black Flag are the greatest band of all time.

 Photo by Al Overdrive

Where can people go to listen to or buy your music?
BEN: You can buy records and listen to our music on our bandcamp page: and also from our label Wanda Records: we’ve also got all that facebook stuff here:

What lies ahead in 2015 for Los Pepes?
BEN: Well, we never stop. Like tuna fish. We got a new EP, “And I Know/Say Goodbye” coming out again on Wanda Records late May and will be on tour in Europe at the same time (tour dates below). We’re also recording a new album. In a weeks time from writing this interview we’ll be hitting the studio with new songs and new ideas. Soon as that’s all done will be putting it out and getting out playing to people as much as we can. We really need to go to Japan too. That’s an important next thing for us to do. Sayonara folks.


Pink Smoke

     You can’t really tack on any trendy sub genre tags on Pink Smoke’s music. They’re not your new favorite Post, Dark, Psyche anything.  Pink Smoke are however a meat and potatoes punk rock n’ roll band. They’re influenced by bands like The Damned and The Ramones and all the early rock n’ roll; which influenced all the punk bands in the mid to late ‘70’s. They play aggressive and loud and aren’t afraid to add hooks and melody to their catchy shout along songs. So if you’re looking for the answers to life and the universe to be unfolded unto you in cheap metaphors and pop psychology clichés, you may want to look somewhere else. What Pink Smoke can offer you though is a good time at the end of a long hard day, after all isn’t that what anyone has ever really needed from rock n’ roll? 

Interview by J Castro

Who is currently in Pink Smoke and what does everyone do in the band?
Clint – Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Brandon – Backing Vocals and Bass
Ryan – Drums
Matt – Lead Guitar

How did you guys all meet and decide to play in a band together?
CLINT: Matt and I have been friends and bandmates since around 2004. We’ve played in many different unremarkable bands in our time. I met Brandon through Craigslist in 2010 and I immediately wanted him in my old band at the time because he looked like Dee Dee Ramone and Glenn Danzig had a child. And he was talking about only knowing like 4 notes. I was in! Matt has known Ryan for quite some time. I haven’t known him that long, but he is a great guy and has a good sense of what he’s doing back there. He is our 3rd drummer. Spinal Tap syndrome…

How would you describe your bands sound to someone who’s never heard you guys before?
CLINT: There are 2 responses. If it’s someone who’s into whatever our “genre” is, I’ll say, “If you like Slade and Rocket from the Crypt, you might like us.”  If it is someone who I know is very unfamiliar with punk or rock n’ roll, I’ll just say “We sound like the Ramones.”

What sorts of things influence your song lyrics? Are there any subjects you try and stay away from for whatever reason?
CLINT: I just kind of do “stream-of-consciousness” type stuff. When I try to have a subject directly, it’s usually just stuff related to what millions of people have to deal with: Shitty jobs, shitty people, and feeling like your life is going nowhere, relationships . . . blah, blah, blah, angst, as far as subjects to stay away from?  I just don’t wanna get too political. Nobody cares. Let’s just have fun and play loudly.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that writing and/or playing music is therapeutic to them.  What do you think, has music ever helped you through a tough time?
CLINT: Yes. The lyrical part isn’t as important as the playing part. Just playing music has a healing power for me. I can kind of jump out of my skin and act like a maniac and no one really thinks twice about it.

I noticed your band has a Facebook page, and you’re on Tumblr and Instagram as well. Do you think social media has become an essential part of promoting bands and records? Do you think anyone can survive these days without having some sort of presence on social media somewhere?
CLINT: There is an ever-increasing amount of bands that are rejecting social media and just living by word-of-mouth and touring like the “good old days.” It seems to work for bands that have a very strong backing from labels and zines that will do all the promoting for them. It also seems to work for bands that aren’t bound to a full-time job “pay rent or you’re screwed” type situation like us. Unfortunately, we were never the popular kids and don’t have enough underground pull to be that cool and know a lot of people. There is so much competition out there. Especially with the type of music we play. Social media is the only reason anyone even slightly cares about us. We try not to over-saturate though. It’s annoying when bands do that. Plus, bands on social media are aware that Facebook will not let people see most of your posts unless you pay money to Facebook. Who wants to do that? I hear it’s mostly fake “likes” anyway. I’d rather have 2 people “like” the page that care than pay for 200 fake “likes.” We’re not trying to be a huge sensation. We’re smarter than that.

There have been some pretty good bands to come out of Denton, TX, but how is it like to live there now and play shows?  Is there a supportive crowd that gets what you guys are doing musically?
CLINT: Denton is a ghost town right now for our kind of music, even when really great rock n’ roll and punk bands come through you’ll maybe see a half-full venue. Drone, noise and electronic music are actually what are really popular in Denton right now. Punk house shows are on the rise though. There seems to be more people putting them on now. And as a result, way more people come out because you’ve eliminated the need for people to pay and be a certain age. We plan on getting in on that in 2015. On a side note, we’ll always pay respects to the Denton bands that got outta Denton and made themselves known: Riverboat Gamblers, Marked Men and Bad Sports to name a few.

And speaking of shows, tell me about one of the most memorable Pink Smoke shows, good or bad and what made it stick out in your mind?
CLINT: They totally turned on “La Bamba” when Matt was playing his solo! Oh, seriously? Do we have memorable shows?  I think what I find memorable are the shows where stupid things happens. Like one time we played this now demolished “club” (more like big garage) in Dallas. We weren’t told there was a frat-bro paintball party going on at the venue that night. The door guy said we had to pay for our own girlfriends to come in and we wouldn’t get paid. This was our second show, so we just wanted to play. We got a bunch of paint thrown at us and got cut off during our last song when the drunk sound guy decided he REALLY needed to hear “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera RIGHT NOW. Looking back on it, I should have told them to go fuck themselves. I would now. We kind of have a thing now where we try to clear the venue on purpose, which isn’t hard because not a lot of people come out usually. We just play really loud. If there are any people left after a show, Brandon and I will look at each other, shake our heads and say “Well, we ALMOST cleared it, maybe next time!”

I was reading an interview with Keith Richards and he said that anyone buying digital music is getting short changed. Do you agree with this statement?
CLINT: On one hand, I’m all for digital music. Things like Spotify have made almost any band on the planet accessible. I only use Spotify on my phone now for music. It cleared a whole bunch of room and I can listen to most of the same stuff I have at home. Except Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” album which is mysteriously missing from Spotify. That kinda brings me to my OTHER hand. I really enjoy having the physical document of a lot of music. I own a lot of LP’s, 45’s, CD’s and cassettes. I am known to spend hours in our local record stores when I have the time and the money. There’s something about having that piece of history in your hands and being able to touch and smell it. It’s wonderful. Keith Richards knows nothing about change. He only uses $100’s.

Tell me about the one band or musician that you feel has inspired you the most in your life.  Tell me about the first time you heard them and how it affected you:
CLINT: I come from an ‘80’s Goth background. When I was a 120 lb. 15 year old with teased hair and shaved-off eyebrows, I’d fill my stereo speakers with Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy and Alien Sex Fiend. In fact, I remember the first time I saw a picture of Nik Fiend. I was about 14 years old. I immediately had to find out everything about this weird, gangly creature. I went out to Hot Topic and they had this little Cleopatra Records compilation called Songs To Wake the Dead. The first song was a re-mix of the Alien Sex Fiend song “Magic.” I was forever changed. SO the short version is – ever since I saw Nik Fiend of Alien Sex Fiend when I was a kid, I knew I wanted to do something that would piss off cops, parents and teachers. Then I got into punk when I was about 18 and saw Dave Vanian, who was naturally the Gothiest punk out there. He was a huge inspiration. In fact, sometimes in October I do a Damned tribute band called Stab Yr Front. It makes more money than Pink Smoke.

Where can people go to hear or buy your music?
CLINT: At shows and online.    Merch and music

What lies ahead in 2015 for Pink Smoke? 
CLINT: We have a new album coming out! It’s called Weirdorama and it was recorded at Cool Devices Studio by Mark and Jeff from the Marked Men, just like No Party. We are doing everything ourselves, so it’s slow going. We hope to have CD’s and cassettes in hand by June and plan for a release show in July or August. On top of the new record coming out, there will be a heck of a lot more shows, a ton more merchandise and loads more alcohol and burritos that need to be consumed.

The Spastic Hearts

     Ohio’s Spastic Hearts seem to be hopeless romantics and if you’re going to sing about romance, relationships, and broken hearts you have to lay it all out there on the table and let the world see your cards for the music to sound genuine. That’s what makes rock n’ roll so great, that’s what turns bands and songwriters into legends and that’s what puts Spastic Hearts right up there on the top shelf as well. Exposing your soul out there on stage or on a record in song form for the world to judge and pick apart to me seems infinitely more difficult than going on stage and hiding behind a mask of anger, cynicism or goof ball humor. You can scream and sweat into a microphone all you want about all the injustices in the world to stoic faces in a crowd, but a real soul to soul connection with music is what really incites changes in people.    

Interview by J Castro

Give me a quick rundown on who’s currently in the band and what everyone does in The Spastic Hearts:
Jay Dee – Vocals/Guitar
Angi Phalangee – Bass/Vocals
Mikey Reynolds – Guitar/Vocals
Casey - Drums

Your band bio states you guys came together in the spring of 2012 and released your debut album in December of 2012, that’s pretty quick!  Did one of you have songs already written or did you guys just really gel together that quickly?
JAY: Ya things came together quick! I was in another band with our drummer and we broke up. I wanted a group that was more of that ‘50’s type sound but of course punk rock influenced as well. It helped that we have all been friends and have played music in some way with each other before. It’s the first time all four of us have been in a band together though. A lot of the songs were written that year before recording. I had the shells of the tunes and we hashed them out at practice. The debut record was a lot of fun.

Tell me a bit about how you all met and decided to form Spastic Hearts:
MIKEY: I used to play in a band called the Reynolds with Casey before moving to Florida. Angi and I moved there for college and to rock in a band called The Hi-Life. We moved back home in 2010. Jay and I have always played music together and collaborated well writing songs and that seemed to pick back up quickly. Not sure when or how, but the four of us decided to start the Spastic Hearts. The four of us seem to complement one another perfectly musically, so it just made sense. Making great music is the mission.

You guys are from Youngtown, OH. What is it like playing live in your town? Is there a supportive “scene” out there that are into what you guys are doing musically?
MIKEY: Although a smallish scene, we definitely have a good time playing here at home. There are really only two venues that matter, Cedars and the Royal Oaks…we pack them both ha, ha.

JAY: It’s not what you would call a punk scene at all. We have good bands and good people though. You can make a scene if you really want one.

Razorcake Magazine said this about your record: “This is the kind of record I put on the turntable when I’m in a bad mood because you can’t possibly continue feeling upset when something this catchy and infectious is playing.” Is there any particular band or record you can put on that can pretty much lift you out of a bad mood?
MIKEY: Chixdiggit will always snap me out of a bad day. The Influents seem to make a good day even better.

JAY: The Ramones. Never fails.

What records do you own that you listen regularly and possibly draw inspiration from that you think a lot Spastic Hearts fans may be surprised you like?
MIKEY: Van Halen . . . shouldn’t be surprising ha, ha, but they rock.

JAY: KISS, Also not surprising. I did listen to Mathew Sweet the other day: 100% Fun, Really good. I’m not into anything popular or even semi popular right now though. I’m not even talking about radio either. I used to remember being excited because every month something new was coming out. I can’t tell you the last record I bought or was waiting for.

A lot of your songs are about love, girls and relationships. Have you ever written song lyrics that you regret, that were maybe a bit too personal? Has there ever been anyone that’s been offended about the songs you’ve written about them?
MIKEY: Nope. Jay???

JAY: Never. I mean looking back it’s funny to see what you were singing about 15 years ago, in the end though it’s just songs about girls, just better songs and recordings now.

Can you remember the first time you heard punk music?  Where were you, who introduced it to you and how did it make you feel?
MIKEY: Green Day changed my world…I never felt anything real until I heard them.

JAY: I remember it like yesterday finding the Queers “Move Back Home” then seeing the Riverdales open for Green Day on the Insomniac tour. The Dookie record kinda changed everything though. I was told about it in High School way back when and I’m sure it was the same feeling 20 years earlier those kids had when they first heard the Ramones. No one was going to play like Eddie Van Halen in the ‘70’s and I wasn’t going to play like Kirk Hammett in the ‘90’s. I didn’t need to.

Where is the best place to go or log on to hear your music or buy your records?

Any digital outlet: iTunes, Amazon etc.

What does the near future look like for The Spastic Hearts, any record or tour news?
MIKEY: Recording new music is never boring right???

JAY: Touring doesn’t look too good, I’m sure another record.

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