Today’s Feature, October 24th & 25th: The Friendly Indians

October 28, 2007 at 3:02 am (Today's Feature)

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For more than 15 years, The Friendly Indians have been chartering an inimitable course through sunny Southern California. The OC, a place most people only see through the eyes of MTV may not seem like the proper fit for a bunch of real musicians who are as funny as they are musically talented, but truth be told – the original band actually formed while working at a true landmark within beach covered Cali – Disneyland.

Many stars quickly rise and fade around the OC, but The Friendly Indians have played all over Orange County and Southern California for years while maintaining an ever-expanding fan base as well as the praise of music savvy concert goers who will tell there is nothing quite like a live Indians show. Simply put, the band excels on an audience – they have that knack for connecting with a crowd, realizing just how to reach out to everyone in attendance.

You may be more familiar with the Friendly Indians than you realize – their tune “I Know You Know,” is the current theme song for the hit television show, “Psych.” It’s brought them exposure they more than deserve, and they’re about to expand upon it. Their new album will include a full length version of their popular melody; a collection they hope will match the success of their current record – the aptly named “Pure Genius.” Check out the band that “has a penchant for novelty songs along with the more serious stuff,” and get into their XXQ’s.XXQs: The Friendly Indians

Pen’s Eye View (PEV): How and when did the Friendly Indians first form as a band?
Friendly Indians (FI): The Friendly Indians first formed as a band in 1991.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to?

FI: All kinds – many of the Friendly Indians’ songs reflect the band members’ diverse influences: Cheap Trick, the Beatles, REM, Jellyfish, The Police, the Barenaked Ladies, the Replacements, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and about a billion other bands of all kinds.

PEV: When and where was the first Friendly Indians performance? Tell us about how it went?

FI: The Friendly Indians first performance was at a Lion’s Club Hall in Stanton, CA for about 30 people and ended with the lead guitarist (that would be me) walking off stage when the rest of the band refused to stop playing the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?

PEV: What is like the first time that The Friendly Indians all stepped into a recording studio for the first time? What was going through your heads?

FI: Good question – our first trip into a professional recording studio came as a result of a relationship we had with a guy who worked there. He would slide us in at off hours whenever he could and it was there that we cut our first cassette demo. After spending years with our four track machines, it was mind-blowing to be somewhere with an engineer and mixing board. We did what every red blooded studio neophyte did – we totally overproduced our four song demo! We had 36 tracks and we were going to use every one. Naturally, we loved the product, and being in the studio is always a great creative shot in the arm. We wrote songs for our next demo in those sessions. All told, the Friendly Indians have cut 3 cassette demos, 2 CDs and a 5 song EP.

PEV: Based out of Southern California, what is the So-Cal music scene like and how has it changed since you first started?

FI: We’re from Orange County, which is the spawning ground of a ton of great bands, and while most of the clubs we played at throughout the 90s are closed now, we had a blast doing it, often because we were playing in the same places bands like the Offspring and No Doubt had played not long before. As for the scene, it hasn’t changed – being in a band then was not unlike being in a band now: you cherish your practice space, you work hard on tunes after getting off your day job. You scratch your car loading gear into it. You hustle your friends to come to shows. You always try to make money, but rarely do.

PEV: What is your take on today’s global music scene?

FI: Overrated. It’s true that the internet, file sharing, and internet radio really presents unprecedented exposure opportunities for bands – however, it hasn’t made anyone more talented. In other words, more bands just means more mediocre bands.

PEV: What kind of atmosphere, venue wise, do you prefer to play; large, small, popular, etc?

FI: Small venues are the best. We like a place where we can stretch out and improvise, and jam, and talk between songs, and invite people onstage.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do you
surround yourselves in?

FI: We normally write alone, not as a band. One of us will come to a rehearsal with some kind of composition (spare parts, we call them) and then we’ll beat it out until it becomes something.

PEV: Your debut, GREETINGS…FROM LAKE DOLORES, and the more recent PURE GENIUS were huge hits. How is the music different on each album?

FI: We’re proud of both records. DOLORES is the first CD we ever cut, and we pulled out all the stops on it. It’s very crunchy compared to our second release, which sports a great diversity of genres and influences – PURE GENIUS has a song in Spanish, a ballad, and a bunch of mid tempo rockers. The albums are different, sure, but they’re both unmistakably us. Our set lists swell with cuts from both records. After all this time, we still love playing them.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Friendly Indians show?

FI: Can’t say, because the band never knows what to expect – this is why so many of our fans have been fans for so many years. We like to keep it spontaneous: we play a lot of impromptu songs, talk a lot between sets, and regularly change up the tempos and arrangements of our tunes. It keeps things fresh for us and the fans.

PEV: The Friendly Indians did the theme to USA’s Psych. How did that come about and how has that helped your careers?

FI: PSYCH has given us a tremendous amount of exposure, and it’s been great. People from all over the country have visited our websites, and many have told us how much they like the theme song, and that’s what it’s all about, right? Writing a song, and getting it out there. It’s been incredible.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about The Friendly Indians?

FI: The four original members of the band met while working at Disneyland.

PEV: When you are not performing or touring, what can we find The Friendly Indians doing in their spare time?
FI: In our spare time, we think about performing. It’s what we love to do.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band out today that you think we should all be listening to?

FI: Rogue Wave is a great band. So are the Shins.

PEV: What is currently in your CD player now?

FI: Lyle Lovett “It’s not big, it’s large.”

PEV: In one word, what best describes The Friendly Indians?

FI: Hapless.

PEV: So, what is next for The Friendly Indians?

FI: The band is planning on going into the studio to cut their third full-length CD, including a complete version of “I Know You Know,” the PSYCH theme song!

For more information on The Friendly Indians, check out www.friendlyindians.com

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Today’s Feature, October 22nd & 23rd: Army Of Me

October 22, 2007 at 9:04 am (Today's Feature)

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Anyone into their local music scene knows where to go to see the up and comers; the new artists trying to crash the scene. Sometimes the intensity of indie loyalists is unreal – they’ll attend every show that their favorite act plays, buy anything they are affiliated with and pray for their eventual commercial success. With so many indie groups out there however, that type of success doesn’t always come around – the image of some local heroes is forever destined to stay on the small stage.

Then there are bands like Army of Me, a band you used to only seen at the local clubs, but now find on MTV in active loop with their music video for “Going through Changes.” I’ve been hearing about Army of Me for some time now around DC, and not too long ago I was pleasantly surprised to hear their distinctive sound on DC 101, Washington’s premier alternative station. While they’ve already begun to arrive, they’ve yet to make their true impression on the music industry. The new album, “Citizen,” is probably the catalyst necessary to thrust these indie crusaders into some blinding limelight.

“Citizen is about conversion… It talks about picking yourself up and trying to prove to yourself and others that you can be worth something in this world,” according to lead singer Vince Scheuerman. It truly is the swan song of Army of Me, an album that is “honest and simple… from the heart without being cliche.” I suppose that’s what makes the band so effective – they really don’t need to “try” to be good. They simply have it. You speak with them, listen to them, read about them – you can feel their energy; their ability. They describe themselves in one word with “Possibility.” Damn right. The answers to their XXQ’s are below.

XXQs: Army Of Me (Vince Scheuerman)

PensEyeView.com (PEV) How and when did Army Of Me form?

Vince Scheuerman (VM): Army of Me has been forming for a while. It’s a process of growing and evolving that continues even now… We started off, like many other bands, making noise in someone’s basement. But as soon as we could get enough songs together, we started playing shows in our hometown of Washington DC. That was probably 6 years ago, but I lose track of the times and dates. Over the years, we’ve put out a few independent records and played somewhere close to 1000 shows, mostly on the east coast and in the midwest. And now we have our first national record called CITIZEN out..

PEV: Was there a certain time or event in your life that you decided music was going to be a career?

VM: I never expected that music would be my career. It was something I did for fun as a kid, but when I went to school, my plan was to be an engineer (got my degree in mechanical engineering), or at least study that and see where it led me. But a friend asked me to audition for his band as the guitarist. I told him that he should get someone who could actually play guitar for his band. But he didn’t listen to me, and so I became the guitar player. At some point, I began experimenting with songwriting and made a discovery. I wasn’t too bad at it. At the same time I was listening to a lot of Jeff Buckley, which was blowing my mind. I probably listened his record “Grace” three times a day for 1 1/2 years. It was then that I got together with our drummer Dennis to start a new band. I stayed in school kids.

We were starting from scratch, neither of us had ever been in a band of any significance. We didn’t know any other bands and we didn’t know anyone in the “industry”. We just loved music and wanted to do something new, original, and make a difference. I didn’t want to sit around and wait to be “discovered” though. I figured our chances of getting somewhere in music were a lot better if we went out and made shit happen for ourselves. So we started booking our own shows, making our own recordings, putting them out ourselves.. And we did stuff by ourselves for a long time. I realized that no one would ever care about our band as much as we did…

And it took a long time, but we eventually got a real record deal with a real record label, and made a record that I’m really proud of. Getting a record deal is kind of like graduating high school and starting college. You work all this time to get to the top of the local band heap. And then you have to start all over, and compared to all the established artists out there, you’re nothing. So, as far as we’ve come, we realize that we’ve got a long way to go. We’re just doing what we can to get people to hear our music. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to keep doing this for a long time to come.

PEV: What was the music scene like growing up in DC and who were you listening to?

VM: Growing up in DC, I wasn’t really too familiar with the music scene. Unlike a lot of kids I knew, I wasn’t allowed to go to rock shows. I wasn’t really even allowed to listen to rock music. I grew up in a really religious community, which discouraged listening to secular music. I managed to sneak a couple of tapes though, like U2 “War” and Metallica “Black”. But I heard from my friends about these amazing shows that they would go to. Tickets were only $5 and a band called Fugazi was playing.

PEV: Tell us about the first time Army Of Me stepped into a recording studio together as a band. What was going through your heads?

VM: Our producer, Brian Baker from Minor Threat, handed me a Gibson Les Paul guitar that was given to him by Duff from Guns n Roses. He turned the guitar amp to 11, and told me to play. It sounded damn good.

PEV: When and where was the first live Army Of Me performance. What was that like?

VM: Early on, we used to play a little club in DC called The Velvet Lounge. On one end was a tiny stage about 6 inches tall. On the other end was a pool table. We could barely play our instruments or our songs, I imagine. But in our minds we were destined for Madison Square Garden.

PEV: Your new album, Citizen is getting rave reviews and your single “Going Through Changes” can be see on MTV. What can people expect from Citizen?

VM: CITIZEN is about conversion. It’s a record that describes what it’s like to be alive. It describes change, hardship, struggle, desire and pain. It describes not getting what you want sometimes. But then it describes the realization that as human beings, the things that we want aren’t always the things that we need. The record talks about hope, love, and the other side of pain – growth and healing. It talks about picking yourself up and trying to prove to yourself and others that you can be worth something in this world.

PEV: How is Citizen different than your previous works?

VM: This record is honest and simple. It’s smart without trying to be clever. It’s from the heart without being cliche. And since we had 2 months to record it, it sounds a lot bigger than anything we’ve ever done.

PEV: When you sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in when you create music?

VM: Inspiration doesn’t always announce itself. I can be driving in a car, taking a shower, falling asleep, or sitting in my bedroom actually trying to write a song.

PEV: You said that Citizen “is more reminiscent of early Oasis or The Verve, and R.E.M than quirkily trendy indie pop”. What do you think of the current music scene today?

VM: I believe in songs. I think that if musicians concentrate on writing songs, and if those songs say something honest and true, then they going to make people believe in them. I’ll take substance over style any day. And I’ll take good lyrics and a compelling vocal over the best drum sound in the world any day.

PEV: In all your travels and touring, which city, US or international has been your favorite to perform and why?

VM: I like to play anywhere that people are listening.

PEV: How has life on the road been for the band? What is the best and worst parts about “road life”?

VM: I’m in the van right now, and we are driving through the salt flats in Utah. Earlier today we were driving over the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Everywhere we go, there is a different landscape and it’s all beautiful. I love seeing the different parts of our country. I wish I had more time to spend in those places though. But we’re always in and out of towns, without a chance to really check it out. If we’re lucky, we manage to get some good food, like fish tacos in San Diego…But I’m not gonna complain. I’m playing music every night. I’ve got it pretty good.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band right now that you think we should all be looking out for right now?

VM: I like a couple of DC bands – Deleted Scenes and The Sketches.

PEV: What/who is on your iPod or in your CD player currently?

VM: We are listening to Bob Dylan at the moment. Today we listened to the new Ryan Adams record, The Almost, Coldplay, Brand New, Augustana, Eisley, The Killers, U2, James, Jeff Buckley.

PEV: How have all your friends and family back home reacted to all your success?

VM: Everyone has been really supportive and excited for everything that’s been going on. I think they are also keeping their fingers crossed that we don’t starve as we continue to tour, and that we sell enough tshirts to put gas in our van to get to the next town.

PEV: Is there someone you would like to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

VM: I’d like to do a duet with Rufus Wainwright. Rufus, if you’re reading this, how about My Funny Valentine or Lush Life?

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the guys of Army Of Me?

VM: In another life, Dennis would be a Jedi Warrior. Brad would be a master chef. I would either be a fisherman, an archaeologist, or a monk.

PEV: When you are not traveling or performing what can you we find your doing in your off time?

VM: As much fly fishing as I can manage. I also have a minor obsession with native american arrowheads. If there’s anyone out there who knows where I can find any, please let me know. I haven’t had the best luck.

PEV: What is the hardest part about breaking into the music business today?

VM: The list of what’s easy about breaking into the music industry would be much shorter. For one thing, there are so many bands out there. With myspacebookvolume, anybody can get their music heard. If I could figure out a surefire way of how to cut through it all and get a band noticed, I’d be hired as the new president of Atlantic Records.

PEV: In one word what best describes Army Of Me?

VM: Possibility

PEV: So, what is next for Army Of Me?

VM: Everything

For more information on Army Of Me, check out www.ArmyOfMeOnline.com

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Today’s Feature: October 18th & 19th – Stealing Jane

October 18, 2007 at 10:49 am (Today's Feature)

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Every so often, a true good-time band comes around and changes the face of the all-day party concert. You’ve been to at least one of these events- The Jimmy Buffett shows, the Dave Matthews gigs, the concerts you show up at least 12 hours early for in some rented RV or bus to eat, drink and be merry.

As hard as it may be to believe, some folks out there have never been to one of these performances. The worst part is, these people probably have no idea what they’re missing out on…and time may be running out. What if Jimmy and Dave retire? What then? What about future generations?!? Who will supply the party? Fortunately, the next band you’ll want to show up half a day early to see is already making its mark: Stealing Jane.

These masters of “Groove Rock,” or “Jazz influenced Rock,” or “Fourth Wave Ska” are hard to describe, but are nonetheless incredibly talented. Their sound is made up of a fusion of influences from each member of the band (which includes a three-piece horn section!) that turns out melodies that stand tall on their own. The best way to understand the music of Stealing Jane is to get to know each of these individual artists:

– Bryce Larsen (lead vocals and rhythm guitar)- A ska kid influenced by Maroon 5, Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Elvis Costello, The Police, and Dave Matthews.

– Will Tully (drums)- High on Travis Barker.

– Matt Giordano (lead guitar)- Grew up on hip hop, and eventually moved on to Dave Matthews and acoustic rock, blues and jazz.

– Brian Bunce (bass) – Another ska kid who listens to modern rock.

– Pat Iannelli (saxophone)- Will always be into the hardcore and metal music, but continues to find inspiration in today’s pop and yesterday’s jazz.

– Dave Calzone (trombone)- Loves the classic rock and old school metal more than anything.

– Andrew Mericle (trumpet)- Has always been into modern hard rock.

While Dave Matthews like images are probably already on stage in your head, listen to how the guys describe their own performance, “It is like an explosion of energy…We love to put together powerhouse sets that will knock the crowd off their feet.” They’ve already shared the stage with acts such as Spin Doctors, George Clinton, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and The Wailers, and it won’t be long before they’re packing outdoor arenas and stadiums for unforgettable live sets. They’ve just released their EP, “Say Something,” and now can’t wait to get out and connect with their audience. Pass along a message to the band; they’ll likely respond. They put it this way, “it’s all thanks to you that we get to keep making music instead of getting real jobs.” Now, dive into their XXQ’s.

XXQs: Stealing Jane

PEV: How and when did Stealing Jane first from as a band?

BRYCE: I have always been a songwriter – some people pick up an instrument and learn how to play it, I just wanted to write songs. By the end of high school, I had quite a few tunes written, and I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I am a pretty quiet guy, and I would have never thought about starting a band, but my class president suggested that I get a group together for the SGO’s Battle of the Bands in 2001. So the class president and I started playing together. The first person that actually joined the group, which was then named “HyJinX”, was Brian Bunce. Bunce suggested Matt Giordano as an addition to the group – he not only had great guitar abilities, but he also owned a drum set, which was a huge plus for us. None of us played drums, so we had to decide who was going to learn. Matt decided to take the plunge. Pat Iannelli joined next, even though he was much younger than us. He had maturity about him and a business sense that has kept this band going. Over the past six years we have gone through a few bassists, and other band members who have played a wide variety of instruments. We did find a drummer, and Matt was able to go back to the guitar. We found Andrew Mericle, who plays the trumpet. In February 2007 we decided to wipe the slate clean and change the name of the band to “Stealing Jane”. We just released our six song EP, and I guess the rest is history.

PEV: Where and when was the first live Stealing Jane performance?

BRYCE: Our first live performance was our high school Battle of the Bands in May 2001. It was held in our cafeteria – and we sounded terrible! We lost, but we had the time of our lives.

PEV: Growing up, who were you listening to that helped shape your sound?

BRYCE: I would have to say my number one was the Beach Boys. They aren’t really on my play list anymore, but they definitely were a huge influence on me growing up. When I really started writing songs, I was all about Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and other ska bands from the 1990’s. Guster has been a huge influence in my vocal arranging, and of course Maroon 5, and Dave Matthews have influenced the groove sound. As for the band as a whole, Matt brings a lot of old blues, new rock, and pop influences to the table. Pat has influences from the Jazz greats, but can still rock out to a hard metal track. Dave comes up with some very fundamental lines in songs – and I think that comes from Metallica and Journey. Andrew has a lot of inspiration from the grunge and rock groups of the early 90’s. Bunce is always on top of the current music scene, and whatever modern rock is doing, that is where he draws his inspiration.

PEV: Speaking of “your sound”, you are described as bringing a brand of “rock, pop, and R&B” or better yet, “groove rock”. How is the Stealing Jane sound different from any other music out there today?

PAT: I would have to say what makes us different is the amount of influences we have in the band, and the fact that everyone in the band brings something to the table from their backgrounds. We have a collective effort on everything. We also have a three-piece horn section, which is rare to find in a band like ours today. Everyone in Stealing Jane plays other instruments besides what we technically play in the band. When writing, this really brings out the best in every member, and most creativity. We also always write with our live show in mind, it is something that we have been perfecting for a long time.

PEV: There is a saying, “What’s in a name?” So I have to ask, what is the story behind the name Stealing Jane?

PAT: Basically I was tired of our old name HyJinX. Bryce and I were discussing how excited we were about the things coming up for us as a band in the following months, we had our new EP being released, touring, and much more, and we wanted a fresh start. As a band, this was a hard decision. Everyone had their own opinions. We all had agreed on Camp Hero, however deep down I didn’t like it, and then we found out that we might have some legal issues with it. Matt suggested Stealing Jane, and the rest is history. The meaning behind it is that before Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane” album came out, we didn’t really have a common ground about the music we liked, and made together. We all had agreed that “Songs About Jane” was one of the best albums of all time, and we all embraced the pop sound of it. It brought us together musically and made our sound much more focused.

PEV: Being a seven-man unit, describe your creative collaboration styles. With seven people, is there ever too many ideas going around?

PAT: Like any band, when it comes to playing together and writing music, when we are all in good moods and have fresh, level heads it is amazing. If we are pissed about gigs not going great, or worried about financial and business matters, it can be like pulling teeth. None of us are good at faking things or hiding emotion. Often there are so many opinions that it takes more time to try everyone’s ideas out, but that is a benefit to us. We never want to pass up a new idea, and with seven guys, we have a lot to work with.

PEV: You’ve shared the stage with acts like Spin Doctors, Tower Of Power, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Zox (Side One Dummy Records), Badfish, Crash Romeo (Trust Kill Records), The Wailers, and The Killing Moon (Fearless Records), just to name a few. Is there one artist today that you would like to collaborate with that you have not done so yet?

MATT: There are so many artists and bands that I personally cannot wait to share the stage with, and collaborate with. There are too many to name just one, however I would have to say that my overall goal would be to play with Dave Matthews Band. They have been my biggest inspiration for this band from day one.

PEV: You have toured and played everywhere, what has been your favorite city to perform in and why?

ANDREW: That is a really hard question, we have played so many different cities and each city is great because of it’s own uniqueness. I guess I would have to say Bennington, Vermont. It is a small quaint town, and what makes it great is they have one of the best Chinese food joints I have ever been to. And on top of that, if you’re looking for a great candy shop and independent coffee shop they are within walking distance. I usually hit up all three before a show. We also have an amazing fan base there.

PEV: What is life on the road like for Stealing Jane? What are the best and the worst parts?

DAVE: In one word: incredible. The best part of being on the road is the experience. We have seen things in a few weeks on the road that some people won’t get to see in a lifetime. We get to see so much of the country, meet people from all different walks of life, and their love for music brings them all together. Being on the road also creates a stronger relationship between all of us in the band. We are like brothers. The worst part about it is being away from loved ones for long periods of time. Despite having each other, it can get lonely sometimes.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

MATT: My friends and family who have seen us from the beginning are shocked, excited, and proud of us. We started out by making this noise, literally, and playing local trash holes, to making an album and playing major clubs on the east coast with national bands. Our friends and family are amazed!

PEV: Where will Stealing Jane be in 20 years?

MATT: We are all confident that we will be in the same position we are in now, but much further along. We will be working hard, consistently making new fans on a much larger scale, making new music, and always improving our musicianship and songwriting skills. We have a drive that will keep us moving forward, and it has already brought us so much success.

PEV: What is your take on today’s music scene?

BRIAN: On the national, or headlining tours in the large venues, it’s more common now to see the punk acts, hip hop acts, and indie acts, and they are all drawing as much as the mainstream top 40 pop acts. This is beautiful to me. On a local scale, many scenes are suffering because everybody wants to be the “next big thing”. With every band having high expectations and little to no patience, bands tour around before they’ve ripened. They do not put their best foot forward, and often sound just like the “last big thing.” Today’s scene is almost completely digital and it is a double-edged sword. Yes, it is much easier for someone across the country to hear your music without you handing them an actual CD, but it is shaking up the oil and the water. What used to separate “good” bands from “bad” bands was, distribution.

PEV: Your EP “Say Something” has been getting a lot of attention on the web and radio. What can people expert from this EP?

PAT: Our hopes are that everyone picks up the EP, puts it in their CD players and just enjoys the music we have written together. We hope that listening to it makes everyone feel as good as it does for us to write the songs and perform it. Our expectations are that everyone who hears it can do this, and will love it.

PEV: What was it like to step into the recording studio to record “Say Something”?

MATT: It was absolutely exciting and relieving. We had been touring with our previous album for so long that the songs became old and misrepresented our band. Going into the studio knowing we were going to come out with a product that we would be proud to represent us off the stage was exactly what we needed to kick start the next phase of our career.

PEV: Describe to us what a live Stealing Jane performance is like.

DAVE: It is like an explosion of energy. If you’re in the crowd watching, be prepared to be as out of breath as we are. Each set is filled with energy that feeds off of the crowd. The best part about our performance is that when you see us play you feel like you are in the show. We love crowd participation, its all about the fans so when they get involved it allows for an even more fun and energetic show. We love to put together powerhouse sets that will knock the crowd off their feet, and that is what you can expect when you see us play.

PEV: You started in 2000, how has Stealing Jane changed over the years?

BRIAN: Back in 2001 when we were “HyJinX”, we were a group of high school seniors who entered into a talent show. We practiced long and hard for that show, and that quality surely hasn’t changed about us. We were a ska flavored band for a while, then we were playing three hour sets as a “house” band for many watering holes around Long Island. We would cover artists like Cream, Van Morrison, Michael Jackson, Phish, Dave Matthews band, Tower of Power and more. Then we recorded our first CD, and we started touring. We just started writing new songs with different influences, and we started perfecting our craft over the years. Now, we are a brand new band on the scene with our new name – however our style isn’t set in stone. More changes will come, but with this much experience between all of us, it is guaranteed to be an aural delight.

PEV: When you get some down time, what can we find the members of Stealing Jane doing?

BRIAN: We are usually catching up on lost sleep, practicing, playing video games, hiking, wake boarding, snowboarding, long boarding, playing darts, or going to shows. With so many members, and so many personalities, it is hard to pinpoint certain activities. I personally enjoy going to see as many bands play as possible. You never know who you will like, or who you will meet.

PEV: Who is a talented up and coming artist you think we should all look out for?

PAT: There are so many! I will start out with my favorites; Keaton Simons, Zox, The Pledge Drive, Code Anchor, Envy On The Coast, Monty Are I, Hello Mahalo, The Styrofoam Junkies, Stereo Path, Lexington Down, Tierney, Alexa Wilkinson, Self Made Soul, and that is just a few!

PEV: What is currently on your iPod or in your CD player right now?

BRIAN: I have such a random play list right now, Hanson “The Walk,” The Starting Line “Direction,” The Format “Dog Problems,” Brand New “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me,” The RX Bandits “…. And The Battle Begins…”: and Weezer “Pinkerton”. These albums have been my summer go to list. I will listen to pretty much anything, except country.

PEV: So what is next for Stealing Jane?

PAT: Touring, touring, and more touring. That is what we really want to do right now. We spent a lot of time writing songs we are proud of and we feel people will love. We have also built up our live show, and have worked on our website, and MySpace so we can interact with fans. Now it is time to get out there and play as much as we can!

For more information on Stealing Jane, check out www.StealingJane.com

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Today’s Feature, October 12th & 13th: The Last Goodnight

October 12, 2007 at 8:54 am (Today's Feature)

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“Just keep it simple, K, and strike an emotion.”

These are the words that Kurtis John, lead singer of The Last Goodnight, ponders every time he puts pen to paper and strikes a lyric. The advice is perfect, faultless. This counsel was passed along by John’s father, words that should be celebrated by any musician looking to write something that makes a difference in the lives of others.

The Last Goodnight’s debut album, “Poison Kiss,” not only puts Kurtis’ father’s words into practice, but does so in distinctive fashion, presenting a collection that ranges from one end of the spectrum to the other. The artists themselves put it best, “From the first single, ‘Pictures of You,’ a collage of poignant and vivid vignettes, to the strident title track, where the sounds of crackling vinyl meshes with a melancholy but buoyant, layered vibe, Poison Kiss takes an emotional journey.”

Most of you probably already know this – The Last Goodnight has been showing up everywhere. They were featured as iTunes “Single of the Week” and MTV’s “Discover and Download,” as well as on MTV2, AOL and MySpace. Their hit single, “Pictures of You,” has been garnering the most attention. John calls the tune a “collage of life, a landscape of lyrics that paints a picture of ‘what if?’ What if a different path was taken or someone was dealt the wrong set of cards?”

You’ve probably noticed that the band is dedicated to their lyrical work – they labor to produce words that wrap around your heart and squeeze; words that force stillness around you; words that take your thoughts to complex places so difficult to discover. Guitarist Anton Yurack hopes that audiences of all kinds can contemplate the ideas of The Last Goodnight. He’ll tell “it’s about how you allow the music to hit your soul.” I’m sure you’ve already allowed their music in, so get to know the band further by reading over their XXQ’s. By the way, keeping an eye out for their future work won’t be difficult – The Last Goodnight has already arrived.

XXQs: The Last Goodnight (Mike Nadeau – lead guitar)

(The following is a direct phone interview between PensEyeView.com President, Riche Frieman and lead guitarist for The Last Goodnight, Mike Nadeau)

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Hey, Mike, how are you doing?

Mike Nadeau (MN): Good man…pretty good.

PEV: Where’d I catch you today?

MN: We are in Cincinnati (Ohio) and I am in my hotel room right now.

PEV: Do you have a show tonight?

MN: No, we don’t. This is our first day off…we just did five shows in a row. We are going to Indianapolis next.

PEV: So, when you down time like today what do you like to do?

MN: Catch up on sleep, pretty much (laughs). Maybe do a little shopping. But I mean sleep is the big thing.

PEV: You are on the road now, so how do you like life on the road?

MN: It’s cool you know…it’s a lot of fun. I mean, you are living your dream out playing music, traveling…it’s cool.

PEV: How did The Last Goodnight (TLG) first form as a band?

MN: We all went to the same high school, four of us in the band. I was at a party and I saw Kurtis [John] (lead singer, piano), playing guitar and he was like playing some cool stuff. Then I grabbed a guitar and started playing some different stuff and we had like a friendly little competition going on. We went back and forth, back and forth, trying to win over the girls. We did for like a couple hours and he was like, “man, you’re pretty good, we should get together and write some songs”. And we started instantly writing songs. We just went from that moment on to where we are now. That was about eight, nine years ago.

PEV: You said you all went to the same high school. What kind of music where you listening to growing up?

MN: I was like a big Metallica, Motley Crue fan. And in like high school, I started to get into Pink Floyd, a lot of Dave Matthews when I was in high school. Hendrix, stuff like that.

PEV: You got a lot of attention from your original name Renata and then decided to change your name to The Last Goodnight? Why did you decide to change it after so much success?

MN: Renata was like a name that people couldn’t really pronounce all the time. We kept getting Recata, Regata…people were like “What is that, how do you say that?”. So, finally one day we were like, “let’s just change our name”. I personally never really liked Renata. Back in the way beginning of the band, Kurtis just came up with that. Then we were working on a name and the band could never really agree on much and then Kurtis again was the one who came up with the band names, he came up with The Last Goodnight. It’s kind of weird since it is a song on Poison Kiss and everyone was like “Wow, that’s pretty good” and that’s where we are today.

PEV: How have you changed since your earlier years as Renata?

MN: Well, we’ve added a keyboardist, a drummer…back in the Renata days we were more of an acoustic band. Kind of more ballad sounds….that was our strength. We added our keyboardist Eli and he opened up new avenues for Kurtis. The band changed, we changed our name, tried to get a fresh start.

PEV: Poison Kiss is out now, it’s getting rave reviews. What do you want people to take away from this album?

MN: I just want people to look at this record and be like, “Wow, that’s a really good record” . There are 12 really strong songs on it. It is lyrically strong, instrumentally strong, good melodies, hooks everywhere. That’s what we were going for when we made it, we wanted to make a really strong record; having a strong chorus and hooks and melodies. I don’t write the lyrics but Kurtis, who writes the lyrics, he really loves it. It gives you something to think about.

PEV: The single, Pictures Of You is one the top singles out today, where you surprised how fast it took off (at one time, iTunes #1 single download)?

MN: The only thing we were surprised with that song is we didn’t really know what was going to be the first single. I always thought it was going to be a single, you know but when we were talking with the label, they came back with Pictures Of You and that was like the first surprise. I think it is lyrically interesting and has a strong chorus and when we thought about it, we were like, that makes sense. It’s just crazy, it’s doing really well. It is more of a pleasant surprise (laughs) than anything.

PEV: When you guys sit down to write, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

MN: It’s usually like, I’ll have an idea and bring it to Kurtis, maybe on piano and he’ll just come up with something…you know, like free-styling and we just go from there. It’s not usually a full band thing, maybe on the next record. But it comes from a lyrical idea and Kurtis will just take off with it.

PEV: You collaborate with a lot of top acts, Avril, Howie Day, Lifehouse, to name a few. Is there someone that you haven’t collaborated with that you would like to?

MN: Oh yeah! Personally, I would love to share the stage with U2, I’m a huge U2 fan. That is huge inspiration for me. That is the big one I think.

PEV: Is there a certain up and coming artist that you think we should all be listening to?

MN: (laughs) Yeah, The Last Goodnight (laughs)…Honestly I don’t really have an answer to that question. I am really absorbed in my own world right now. I only really listen to what’s on my iPod. I haven’t really seen or heard anything recently.

PEV: Who is on your iPod now?

MN: I have the new David Gilmore record. A lot of jazz, I have on my iPod…stuff like that.

PEV: Out of all the places you played, which city have you liked the best?

MN: I really liked Chicago…it’s a great city. Seattle is really cool. Of course Boston…Boston is pretty much my favorite city.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to all your success?

MN: They are really happy for us. My family was hugely supportive from the beginning. So we are kind of doing this together. They are on top of every little bit of information before it even comes out, so I’ll get phone calls or emails all the time from them.

PEV: So, what is next for The Last Goodnight?

MN: Well, we’ll be on the road until November 26th and then hopefully keep playing shows and making new fans. Hopefully things will keep doing well. We are going over seas in 2008 and doing some UK shows.

PEV: Alright Mike, thanks again for taking time with us and we look forward to more in the future from The Last Goodnight.

MN: Awesome man, thanks.

For more information on The Last Goodnight, check out http://www.TheLastGoodnight.net 

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Today’s Feature, October 9th & 10th: Nik Kershaw

October 10, 2007 at 9:48 am (Today's Feature)

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If you know Nik Kershaw, then you appreciate good music. Plain and simple. However, Kershaw puts it best, that “My kids only know I’m famous because their friend’s parents tell them.” It’s understandable Ð a younger generation may be ignorant to all that this artist has accomplished. Seems to me that we’re due for a lesson:

– His January 1984 hit, “Wouldn’t it be Good,” landed at No.4 on the UK charts for five weeks.

– Later that year, Nik achieved platinum sales in several territories.

– He followed this up with four more hit singles and another platinum album, “The Riddle.”

– In 1985, Kershaw scored three more hit singles, and even played his own world tour.

More recently, in 2001 Kershaw released “To Be Frank.” He has now followed that critically acclaimed album up with his latest release “You’ve Got to Laugh,” a record that is sure to stand out among a stellar collection. Unlike other Kershaw albums, this record was released independently with “absolutely no commercial pressure or influence,” truly allowing Nik to express his wonderful capability.

If you get have the opportunity to see Nik Kershaw live, take it. I love how he describes the live experience, “The worst part is the feeling of being out of control; the sense that, any second now, it could all go horribly and catastrophically wrong. The best thing is the feeling of being out of control; the sense that, any second now, it could all go horribly and catastrophically wrong.” Can it be said any better? Read on for more from XXQ’s.

XXQs: Nik Kershaw

PEV: How and when did you first get involved in music?

Nik Kershaw (NK): I didn’t actually start until I was 14. I had a mate who had just bought a guitar and amp. We used to spend every Sunday afternoon going through T Rex and Bowie covers.

PEV: What were the earlier days like for your music? When you were just starting out and getting into the music business.

NK: My first professional experience came when I joined a local functions band. We used to earn a living playing anything from Cole Porter to “The Birdie song”. We used to keep ourselves sane by playing Jazz-fusion gigs.

PEV: No stranger to recording studios, what was it like the first time you stepped into a studio to record your own music?

NK: I was like a kid in a candy store. It was exiting but, at the same time, I felt incredibly comfortable and at home. It was Marcus Studios in London. We were recording tracks with the “functions band” I mentioned earlier. The keyboard player, Reg Webb, had his own management deal and we were recording his songs. I remember Gary Numan was there at the same time. He was number one with “Our friends Electric”. That should date it for you.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance on stage. What was going through your head? NK: Why are all these young girls screaming at me?

PEV: What can people expect from your latest release, “You’ve Got To Laugh”?

NK: If people are familiar with the last two albums, there won’t be too many surprises. If they’re not, it will be almost unrecognizable from my 80s output.

PEV: How is “You’ve Got To Laugh” different from your 2001’s critically acclaimed “To Be Frank”?

NK: Being my first totally independent release, there was absolutely no commercial pressure or influence on “You’ve Got To Laugh”. The result of this is a distinct absence of radio friendliness and rather more guitar solos than usual.

PEV: From your first start in music, how has your music/sound changed over the years?

NK: I don’t think the music itself has changed much at all. There are still words, melodies, harmony and counterpoint. Technology and the business have changed out of all recognition. I don’t even consider myself part of the business anymore.

PEV: Is there someone you haven’t worked/collaborated with that you would like to?

NK: What you’re actually asking me for is a wish list. None of these collaborations would be likely to happen. All my choices would be selfish ones. I would just like to be in the same room as these people to learn from them. The list would be endless, but to give you some idea…Rufus Wainright, Neil finn, Paul SimonÉ

PEV: What were some of the early artists that inspired you and help to shape your sound?

NK: I think the first things you’re exposed to as a kid stick with you. For me it was Bowie (Ziggy and Aladdin Sane) and Mark Bolan. When I actually started playing music, it was Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Then there was my Jazz-fusion period when the likes of Weather Report and Steely Dan got into my head.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

NK: I think it would’ve been at school. I knew what I wanted to do and was determined to do it. I quit school halfway through my A levels (exams when you’re 18) because I didn’t think I was learning anything that would ever be of use to me. In retrospect, it was a pretty stupid and naive thing to do but I was I had all the arrogance of youth behind me.

PEV: Is there another artist/band on the scene right now that you think is “on the rise” and we should all be looking out for?

NK: I’m shamefully out of touch when it comes to what’s going on at the moment. If I give you a name, you’ll probably tell me they’ve been around for years.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Nik Kershaw performance?

NK: They can expect water skiing giraffes and naked cheese tasting. What they’ll actually get is a different matterÉProbably me playing the guitar a bit and singing some songs.

PEV: What is the best and worst part about playing live? Why?

NK: The worst part is the feeling of being out of control; the sense that, any second now, it could all go horribly and catastrophically wrong. The best thing is the feeling of being out of control; the sense that, any second now, it could all go horribly and catastrophically wrong.

PEV: It seems that you have traveled everywhere, how has life on the road been for you?

NK: I’m reminded of a great quote from Charlie Watts: “I’ve been in this business 25 years and I’ve spent 20 of them hangin’ about”. He was talking about touring. Hanging about in hotels, hanging about in airports, hanging about on tour busses, hanging about in TV studios, hanging about backstage. What most people don’t seem to realize is that, most of the time, it’s mind numbingly boring. Apart from the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, that is.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Nik Kershaw?

NK: I cheat at Scrabble.

PEV: When you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you doing?

NK: Apart from Scrabble? I play a bit of Golf (badly).

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

NK: It was very weird at first. I lost quite a few friends because they thought success had changed me whereas, I believe that my success changed the way they behaved towards me. Some friends you just grow apart from for the simple reason that you’re never around. My parents thought it was great, although they did have to change their telephone number a few times. My kids only know I’m famous because their friend’s parents tell them.

PEV: In all your travels (US or International), which city has been your favorite to play? Why?

NK: Tokyo was amazing because it was the first time I’d been exposed to such a different culture. As far as the gigs go, Dublin Stadium in 1984 was pretty unforgettable. Those guys were nuts.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

NK: I’m very easily distracted so, if I’m writing on my own, I have to have complete quite and solitude. If I’m co-writing, it’s a different matter. Sometimes you can’t choose where you are. If you get an idea while you’re driving a car or walking down a busy street, you just have to let it happen.

PEV: So, what is next for Nik Kershaw?

NK: Who knows? I’m not one of life’s great planners. I just wander about aimlessly bumping into things. There’ll be another album at some point. I do know that much.

For more information on Nik Kershaw, check out http://www.NikKershaw.net

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Today’s Feature, October 8th & 9th: David Lim of Kasil Denim

October 8, 2007 at 8:51 am (Today's Feature)

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If you plan on relying on creativity for success in the business world, you better be able to supply your own stunningly unique perspective on some aspect of your work. Only so many have a thought process so original that they can make a living using their own ideas. And when your business is denim jeans, your ideas better consist of something amazing.

Jeans after all, have been around for a long time, have been designed by a lot of people, and have been designed into A LOT of different styles. So what has the man behind Kasil Denim, David Lim, done to rise so quickly in the fashion industry? He has developed that hitch, that “twist on the basics.” That twist is represented by the unique artistic vision Lim brings to his brand, something in part that is inspired by the jean itself – the durability in denim.

By “addressing the needs of quality seeking customers while also exploring a modern interpretation of the quintessential jean,” David Lim has attracted some high profile clientele, (including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, John Travolta, Lindsay Lohan, Jennifer Aniston, Lucy Liu, Minnie Driver and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas) who already call themselves regulars of Kasil Denim.

Celebrity or not, Lim simply “wants people to appreciate quality when they wear or see it.” And that is exactly what Kasil Denim will continue to provide, “quality, great fit, and authentic styles.” If you don’t already own a pair, get online and find a store near you to make your next purchase and watch for Lim to make his impact in knit wear and possibly shoes in the future. Read on for the answers to his XXQ’s.

XXQs: David Lim and Kasil Denim

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did Kasil Denim first get started?

DL: I started from making custom made jeans for myself than eventually started making jeans for my father’s clients. My father runs a custom tailoring business that was established in Los Angeles, California in 1968.

PEV: Was fashion something that you always wanted to go into? If not what brought on the desire to make your own line?

DL: I actually didn’t want to get into fashion, based on my experience growing up around my father’s business. I went to art school for Fine Arts and my love for creating is what brought to start Kasil.

PEV: What has been the hardest part about building the company from the ground up?

DL: Learning about the little details in business; time management, money managing, budgeting, planning, the list goes on.

PEV: For those of us that don’t know how the fashion world works, what is the business like behind the scenes?

DL: Very busy! And always challenging.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career in fashion?

DL: Everyone’s very supportive, of course they all want jeans…Who doesn’t?

PEV: Kasil Denim is no stranger to celebrity buyers; Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, John Travolta, Lindsay Lohan, Jennifer Aniston, Lucy Liu, Minnie Driver and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, to name a few. Which celebrity would you most want or like to endorse Kasil Denim?

DL: Celebrities or not, I just want people to appreciate quality when they wear or see it.

PEV: What can people expect from the Kasil Denim line? How is it different from other clothing lines today?

DL: We’re really just looking at what we like to do. Our line is and will always be about quality, great fit, and authentic styles. Kasil brings a twist to basics.

PEV: Why jeans? With all the avenues of fashion, what is about jeans that made you go this route?

DL: I love the durability in denim it has a very artistic quality to it. The way I treat denim is similar to the way I approach painting. Jeans I believe is the only article of clothing that the more you wear the better it becomes.

PEV: Describe what it was like the time you saw the first completed pair of Kasil Denim?

DL: It was nice to see something from a sketch become tangible.

PEV: You travel quite a bit, spreading the word and showing the line, what has been your favorite “hot spot” for fashion? Why?

DL: Toyko, Japan. Fashion is on another level there. Bizarre, unique, and the people in Japan like to challenge what’s normal.

PEV: Are there any other designers that have helped influence your style?

DL: Not from fashion. I get inspired by art or architecture. Also from people I see on the streets.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you saw a pair of Kasil Denim jeans in public, outside from someone you knew?

DL: Yes. It was nice to see our work was being appreciated.

PEV: Simply put(…or not), what is your secret and how do you make it work?

DL: There is no secret, just a lot of hard work. Love what you do and put all your energy into it.

PEV: For all the corporate people out there, in your opinion, what is the worst fashion faux-pau in the work place?

DL: Blue tooth earpiece. Looks like you’re talking to yourself. Get rid of it.

PEV: When you have a chance to kick back and relax, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

DL: Playing golf, poker and chess.

PEV: Do you plan to offer any other kinds of clothing in the future?

DL: Yes. Knit wear and possibly shoes.

PEV: Describe the creative process for designing jeans. What kind of atmosphere do you surround yourselves in when you are creating a design?

DL: I like to listen to music, have a Redbull and just lock myself in my office and just draw.

PEV: Have you come across any other young designers in the business right now? Anyone you think we should be looking out for?

DL: I’m sure there’s a lot out there. But as of now, I’ve been too wrapped up in our collection to notice.

PEV: One word, what do you want people to think when they see Kasil Denim?

DL: WOW!

PEV: So, what is next for David Lim and Kasil Denim?

DL: You’ll have to wait and see. I’m not sure sometimes.

For more information on David Lim and Kasil Denim, check out http://www.KasilDenim.com

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Today’s Feature, October 6th & 7th: The Transfer

October 6, 2007 at 4:03 am (Today's Feature)

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It may sound a little depressing, but I don’t make it out west too often. Several friends of mine however have made the trip out to Hollywood or Los Angeles and many of them have stayed for good. They, like so many other dreamy-eyed 20-somethings have been drawn there for one reason- to make it; to cure their lofty aspirations with riches and recognition. It’s no surprise the music scene in the Golden State is over saturated, but bands like The Transfer don’t mind. This 6-man army thrives on the cutthroat environment the scene creates, bundling together their collective experience and dashing through different dimensions of style and genre to create their own distinctive melodies that include two leading front vocalists taking rap-rock to a new level.

You could describe the band’s sound as “a modern blend of rock and soul, with deep roots in hip-hop,” and they feel that they fit “somewhere between Maroon 5 and Gym Class Heroes.” No matter how you depict The Transfer, they make their talent clear. They pride themselves on the ability to crank out a legitimate ballad tune and directly follow it up with a hip-hop track that will flip the mood on the dance floor.

And it isn’t simply the sound of The Transfer that makes them exceptional – they realize it takes more than that to stand out in an over-whelming scene. Their written word will challenge you as a listener, for they understand how to connect with an audience; that songs can’t be written on a whim, but in “the baggage of everyday life.” These guys have figured out “if you are just aware of what’s going on within yourself, there is always something to say.”

While the band is currently working on their first formal release for the end of the year, you can soon catch some of their work on MTV’s “The Hills” and “Newport Harbor.” They’ll be hitting the road in their 15-passenger van come February, so keep a look out. If you find yourself at a Transfer show, make sure all six members are accounted for – like they say, it’s hard to keep track of six people. Now get into their XXQ’s.

t may sound a little depressing, but I don’t make it out west too often. Several friends of mine however have made the trip out to Hollywood or Los Angeles and many of them have stayed for good. They, like so many other dreamy-eyed 20-somethings have been drawn there for one reason- to make it; to cure their lofty aspirations with riches and recognition. It’s no surprise the music scene in the Golden State is over saturated, but bands like The Transfer don’t mind. This 6-man army thrives on the cutthroat environment the scene creates, bundling together their collective experience and dashing through different dimensions of style and genre to create their own distinctive melodies that include two leading front vocalists taking rap-rock to a new level.

You could describe the band’s sound as “a modern blend of rock and soul, with deep roots in hip-hop,” and they feel that they fit “somewhere between Maroon 5 and Gym Class Heroes.” No matter how you depict The Transfer, they make their talent clear. They pride themselves on the ability to crank out a legitimate ballad tune and directly follow it up with a hip-hop track that will flip the mood on the dance floor.

And it isn’t simply the sound of The Transfer that makes them exceptional – they realize it takes more than that to stand out in an over-whelming scene. Their written word will challenge you as a listener, for they understand how to connect with an audience; that songs can’t be written on a whim, but in “the baggage of everyday life.” These guys have figured out “if you are just aware of what’s going on within yourself, there is always something to say.”

While the band is currently working on their first formal release for the end of the year, you can soon catch some of their work on MTV’s “The Hills” and “Newport Harbor.” They’ll be hitting the road in their 15-passenger van come February, so keep a look out. If you find yourself at a Transfer show, make sure all six members are accounted for Ð like they say, it’s hard to keep track of six people. Now get into their XXQ’s.

XXQs: The Transfer (T-Time and MARC)

PEV: How and when did The Transfer first form as a band?

T-TIME: After a bunch of different bands, we all ended up in LA and started playing together around March of this year. Marc and Matt met in high school, I met Marc in college, and we all ended up joining together as a crew in Hollywood.

PEV: Growing up, what was the music scene like for you and who were you listening to?

T-TIME: I grew up in Seattle, we used to go to the Sit n Spin Laundromat on Sundays to hear local hip-hop. The scene was cool, the grunge thing was dying down and there was a lot of pseudo-intelligent “underground” hip-hop going on. I sort of rebelled because I wanted to make pop music. When I was little, I listened to Outkast because of my older sisters and The Beatles because of my parents.

PEV: The Transfer uses both a singer and rapper to front vocals; Why did you decide to use this style?

T-TIME: We’ve got this question before, it basically just happened because Marc was singing a lot when we joined up, and I had been doing the rap thing solo, so we each stepped on stage and did what we do best.

PEV: What was it like the first time The Transfer stepped into a recording studio to record your own music? What was going through your heads?

T-Time: It’s a really interesting (hectic) environment writing and recording with six people, we each respect each others opinions, but we all have different ideas on where things should go and how they’ll sound best, so sometimes it’s easier to kick a couple of the guys out and record things in smaller groups. In the end it’s just cool to have a million different smart ideas bouncing around in the studio.

PEV: You’ve have songs appear on MTV’s “The Hills” and “Newport Harbor”. How has the impact of national TV exposure helped your music and did you like the way they used your songs?

T-Time: We actually just recently licensed the music to MTV, so we’re waiting to see how the reaction is when it airs on TV. Stay tuned on that.

PEV: The Transfer is from Hollywood, California, what is the current Hollywood/LA music scene like right now?

T-Time: There’s so many bands out here that it gets a little overwhelming and over saturated, but it’s a competitive environment so it makes it an absolute necessity to write good music. It seems like every day a new emo/pop/punk/hip-hop/American apparel hybrid band comes out, but the whole genre blending thing is cool, it’s pushing the boundaries.

PEV: You describe your sound, as somewhere between Maroon 5 and Gym Class Heroes. How is The Transfer’s sound and music different from anything else out there today?

T-Time: We feel like there’s not a lot of bands that can come at you with a ballad, and then the next song be a legitimate hip-hop track, and actually do both well. We feel like our guitar parts are gonna be different than anything you hear in hip-hop, and our verses are gonna be different than anything you hear in rock. I think since we all came from different backgrounds, we’ve had to hone our styles and art forms solo, so bringing it together just makes a stronger army.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Transfer show?

T-Time: Expect to dance, expect to feel something strongly and expect to be surprised.

PEV: Finish this sentence, “The most embarrassing time for The Transfer was when…”

T-Time: When every show one of the guys is missing right when we’re supposed to go on stage. It’s like an everyday thing, it’s hard to keep track of six people.

PEV: What is the best thing about living on the west coast that you can’t find anywhere else in the country?

T-Time: Seattle.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of element do you surround yourselves in?

MARC: Usually a few dirty dishes, some piles of laundry, we surround ourselves with the baggage of our every day life. There is always space to write music, that’s one of the best things about it.

PEV: Describe to us your creative methods. Are you jotting down notes all day? Carry a recorder around with you?

MARC: When your whole life is centered around music, I think you are always subconsciously writing. It doesn’t need to be forced, if you are just aware of what’s going on within yourself there is always something to say.

PEV: You have traveled all over in your 15 passenger van. What has been your favorite place to play and why?

MARC: I think my favorite place was, as odd as it sounds, an attic in a frat house at University of Washington. It was like 100 degrees and packed from wall to wall, it was the kind of environment where you can completely let go on stage. Being on the road it is easier to be free as a performer, in LA you are always playing in front of your great Aunt Joan, or your moms friend from college, it’s a little more controlled.

PEV: What are the best and worst parts about “life on the road”?

MARC: The best part is waking up everyday in a new city, seeing new faces, surviving on cashews and white cheddar cheese-its, rocking shows whether they be in packed auditoriums or a friends backyard. Just being all about what you love is the best part. So far there have honestly been no downs.

PEV: Is there an artist today that you think is up and coming and we should all be looking out for?

MARC: We are involved with a lot of very talented artists the world will soon hear about. Young Murph, a rapper from Oakland who is just an amazing performer and overall songwriter, a band we perform with often called Aurum Star from LA. We also have a musical family out in Australia that includes DJ Rush and Omar Musa from Canberra.

PEV: When you get time to relax, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

MARC: If I’m not doing music I’m playing basketball, that was my first love and I always find time to get back to it. We eat a lot of sushi at the Asian Sunset cafe also.

PEV: Describe to us an average “show day” for The Transfer. Any pre-show rituals?

MARC: We usually hit up a thrift store, find some weird colorful scarf for T-Time or some other interesting article of clothing to wear. Our biggest pre-show ritual is our energy ball routine… I can’t give you too many details but that’s what sets it all off.

PEV: In one word, describe The Transfer?

MARC: Coldbeast

PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist today, who would it be and why?

MARC: John Fruscante from the RHCP, cause as Matt puts it…“he’s a genius.”

PEV: So, what is next for The Transfer?

MARC: We’re working on our first formal release which should be out by years end, and then getting on the road for a nationwide tour in February. Keep in touch with us on the MySpace, we’ll be in your city soon!

For more information on Verona Grove, check out http://www.TheTransferMusic.com 

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Today’s Feature, October 4th & 5th: Verona Grove

October 4, 2007 at 9:34 am (Today's Feature)

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Verona Grove is another one of those bands you’ll want to get on your feet and root for – just not for the obvious reasons. They certainly don’t have any sort of handicap, and I wouldn’t call them an underdog or anything, but they do make music for reasons we can all support and applaud. They make their music to inspire others to work towards doing what Verona Grove has done – achieve their dreams.

These guys weren’t born into the limelight of Hollywood – they come from nights spent in the basements of friends in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By the time they made it to Los Angeles, the scene truly had an affect on them. They’ll tell you that “really getting away from everything in our element in Wisconsin and getting out of the normal heavily influenced our writing on the record.” Perhaps this is part of the reason why Verona Grove has a different message than the millions of other pop-punk-alternative bands out there – they take in and understand their experiences, something other acts may fail to accomplish.

Their debut record, “The Story Thought Over,” stands out as a collection that the band hopes “does more than just remind us that the fulfillment of our dreams is possible – that it inspires us to achieve them.” It’s an album of melodies capable of persuading your thoughts and steps, capable of turning around a crushing day, capable of shifting your perception.

Lead singer Tony Anders stated “I see people around that have so much more potential than they use…There are hard times and there are easy times, but you really have to work for what you want. And if there is something you want you can make it happen.” This is the attitude that Verona Grove wants you walk away with after listening to this album – therefore this should be the next album on your list. And check out a show – Anders puts it best, “we will be touring for the next 79 years of our lives, or until Charlie (Wilhelm) outgrows his pants.” Read on for the answers to their XXQ’s.

XXQs: Verona Grove (Charlie Wilhelm)

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did Verona Grove first form as a band?

Charlie Wilhelm (CW): The first version of Verona Grove started out in 2001 under a different name. I was playing in a different band when Tony confronted me in the halls of our high school to play a couple songs with his band him. It later evolved into more than just playing a couple songs with them but actually trying to book shows and rehearse on a regular basis.

PEV: Growing up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, what kind of music were you listening to?

CW: We are actually from Fond du Lac Wisconsin. We went to college in Oshkosh. When I first really started getting into music other than my mom playing Journey or Michael Bolton I was into more alternative rock. I remember buying my first two CDs. The Offspring’s Smash and Live’s Throwing Copper. I mainly my parents not enjoying the more colorful language than on their Chicago records! HA. It went straight from that to trying to get every Green Day album released on Lookout Records because everyone only knew about their album Dookie and I wanted to “one up” them!

PEV: You currently live in LA, what is your take on the LA music scene?

CW: Tony and I actually moved out of LA back in March to play South by Southwest and come home because the record was all recorded. My take on the music scene there is big. There are a million bands doing the same thing trying to get the same shows, promoting the same way. It’s really difficult to get recognized there I think. However, It’s still better than sitting in you basement in small town USA.

PEV: Was there a certain time or event that you said to yourselves, that music was going to be a career?

CW: There isn’t any like big event or anything of the sorts that I can think of; I kind of just always new that this is what I wanted to do. Then when we got our record deal it was soooo nice to know that it came true.

PEV: Where and when was Verona Grove’s first live performance? What was that like?

CW: The first official Verona Grove show was when we changed our band name to that. It was in an old hockey rink turned into Rec. Center. We were opening for a super popular local cover band. We weren’t even 21 yet, but still had a blast!

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio as a band?

CW: Recording studio as in not a friends basement? HAHA. I guess I felt overwhelmed as in not really sure what to expect what was going to happen. None of us really did, but we were already friends with the guy who was the engineer so it was mostly painless.

PEV: What can people expect from your debut album, The Story Thought Over?

CW: I think people can expect a good amount of diversity from the record. I’m very happy with how it turned out. I feel like there is a song on the record for every mood. Most of all, I think you can expect being able to put it in and listen to it straight through, which is rare these days.

PEV: How is The Story Thought Over different from other music out there today?

CW: I think the fact that we used a tasteful amount of strings, synthesizers, piano and electronic drums sets it apart from most bands in our genre today. They seem to be taking the stripped down approach whereas we thought it added great flavor.

PEV: On your MySpace page, you talk about how “…dreams helps fuel you”. Are you living your dream now?

CW: Absolutely. I personally wake up and do music related things most of the day when we aren’t on tour. We don’t have much responsibility, no mortgage, no car loan, no wedding to plan, etc. We get to travel heavily which is the most fun thing ever!

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

CW: We haven’t had an extensive amount of success yet to make a huge impact. I know my friends like to joke about it and make fun of me mostly because they have to get up in the morning and go to work whereas I just have to send emails. My family isn’t fazed by it in the least really. The first time I got a laugh out of it was just the other week when my brother called me from college and we were on our way home from Iowa. He called because he was at a party and a girl knew of Verona Grove and recognized my brother so she begged him to call me so she could talk to me. That put a smile on my face. Other than that, we are the same old people with the same friends back at home and in LA.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of atmosphere do you surround yourselves in?

CW: We don’t necessarily go out of our way to be any kind of atmosphere. When something catchy hits you, you have to put it down somehow or you forget it. Whether you build a song from that right away or go to it years later to fill a gap in something. It’s mostly spur of the moment.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the guys in Verona Grove?

CW: Hahaha…Tony and I went to pre-school together and I had a speech impediment, which I got over, but he still pokes fun at it to this day. Again, all in good fun.

PEV: When you aren’t performing or traveling, what can we find you doing in your spare time?

CW: Hanging out with friends and family and the band as a whole. We practice a good amount when we are home. We go to the bar regularly since its Wisconsin! I recently got my mom into watching the show The Hills, and my dad and I always watch Wife Swap. Mainly we go down to the local music bar and have a couple pints and talk about life.

PEV: How has road life been for the band? What are the best and worst parts?

CW: The best parts are meeting new people and seeing new cities. Finding things in cities is always fun when you are just aimlessly driving. Worst would be cleanliness of bathrooms and lack of refrigerated food.

PEV: In all the places you’ve performed, which do you think offers the best place for live music? Why?

CW: That’s a very difficult question. Every place is unique. I really enjoyed playing First Avenue in Minneapolis. That’s also because that is where Purple Rain was filmed.

PEV: Is there one artist out today that you have not had a chance to collaborate with that you would like to?

CW: Right now? I love Haley from Paramore’s Voice. She’s got real energy or something in her, I love it. I’m also really into Gym Class Heroes. Travis is a great rapper so I think that’d be really cool. I think it’d be amazing to collaborate ultimately with either Robert Smith from The Cure or Michael Jackson in 1983.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Verona Grove show?

CW: Energy. We keep it fast paced and raw.

PEV: What has been the most exciting part of your career so far?

CW: Either meeting and signing with Pat, working with Jamie Arentzen of American Hi Fi, working with Jason Sutter, or just the enjoyment of the open road. It’s a toss up.

PEV: In one word, describe Verona Grove.

CW: FUN

PEV: So, what is next for Verona Grove?

CW: Tour, meeting everyone we possibly can, and eventually working on another record. We just mainly plan on playing every show we possibly can from here on out. Tony said it best when he said “we will be touring for the next 79 years of our lives, or until Charlie outgrows his pants.” Quite fitting.

For more information on Verona Grove go to http://www.veronagrove.com

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Today’s Feature, October 2nd & 3rd: The Derailers

October 2, 2007 at 9:00 am (Today's Feature)

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From “Jackpot” to “Under the Influence of Buck,” a Derailers record can be a little hard to pin down. Consistently representing a variety of genres, the “alternative country” band called The Derailers mixes Rockabilly, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, and R&B – all adding up to what the band considers their “musical journey” of “classic country beats and a 60s pop sensibility.” The journey began over a decade ago when Brian Hofeldt got together with pal Tony Villanueva, and a love and respect for the work of one Buck Owens sparked the creation of this current heart-pumpin’, foot stompin’ musical force.

That force is kept alive today due the Derailers valued relationship with their fans, more specifically “the relationship between song, listener and dance floor.” This is why going to a Derailers show is the best way to understand and appreciate their sound, one that “mirrors the shuffle of happy boots on a hardwood floor.” Their latest work, a tribute album to Buck Owens titled “Under the Influence of Buck,” is “a rollicking and heartfelt tribute to the timeless music of Buck Owens,” the artist that originally brought The Derailers together, inspiring and shaping the ultimate path of the group.

If you see a show coming to a town near you, make sure you buy your tickets quick. Not only will you see a performance that you’ll never forget, but you’ll get to hear songs that may have been written while Brian Hofeldt was relaxing in “a bathtub full of baked beans” (you’ll have to ask the band about that yourself). Keep an eye open for another new Derailers album in the future, and get into their XXQ’s.

XXQs: The Derailers

PEV: How and when did you first get involved in music?

D: Ever since I was a young man, I’ve played the silver axe!

PEV: What was the music scene like for you growing up? Were you always drawn to the rock/country/honky style that you use today?

D: Growing up I played in a variety of bands, but have always had the roots of American music closest to my heart. When I was a kid in Oregon there was this strong grunge scene happening in Portland, which wasn’t exactly my cup of meat. I was real into X, The Blasters and The Stray Cats, but when Garth Brooks really took off he made room for an “alternative” scene in country music. I guess that’s when I found my niche. Then I got together with my pal Tony Villanueva and soon thereafter came The Derailers.

PEV: What were some of your earlier inspirations that help to shape your sound?

D: Certainly The Beatles have always been at the core of my inspiration and through them I came to Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Buck Owens and Arthur Alexander. The styles these artists represent-Rockabilly, Rock Ôn’ Roll, Country, and R&B-are what has determined my musical journey. I have always loved artists who mix these genres of music and blur the lines that seem to be so separate these days. Cats like Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, and the Everly Brothers just did it naturally and what seems to come out of me is a mixture like that-for better or worse.

PEV: Tell us about the first ever Derailers performance. What was going through your head?

D: The first Derailers gig I remember was outside on the patio of Ruby’s BBQ in Austin in 1993, and I was just having a blast starting out the trip.

PEV: How has your music evolved from since your 1996 debut, Jackpot?

D: Well, I think we grew as writers and fans of music over the years and when we got on certain kicks, musically, it was apparent. “Jackpot” to “Reverb Deluxe” felt like pretty much the same vibe, but after three years of touring those albums and only being able to stomach the oldies stations on the radio, I think a bit of that came through in “Full Western Dress”. Later on, we pushed ourselves as writers and reached out to some extent to the mainstream genre of country radio, so there came Nashville and the two Sony albums. By the time I got to “Soldiers Of Love”, my life was different and Tony had left the band to pursue his calling, so there came an album with a bit of a new direction, and perhaps some change of focus on my part. The meat of “Soldiers…” is really true to me and I am proud of the album, but I think “Under The Influence Of Buck” was just exactly what I needed to be absolutely sure of where we’re going from here.

PEV: Tell us about your tribute album to Buck Owens “Under the Influence of Buck”?

D: Buck Owens and The Buckaroos were the dead clear inspiration when we initially shaped our direction for band. When The Derailers started recording and touring people would ask us about our sound and we’d always point to Buck as our source, but had to avoid getting too close and didn’t record any of Buck’s songs so as to establish who we were as artists and not just a “Bakersfield Sha-na-na”. Ha ha! Over the years Buck’s influence remained a constant and the group as it is shares the same passion for his music now as from the start.

We had talked about doing an all Derailers, Buck Owens tribute record for years and with a little down time in January, after touring hard on the “Soldiers…” record, we had the perfect chance. I’ll have to admit there was some hubris in our decision to make this album and maybe that is why we stayed so close to the original arrangements-because we could. That being said, our true imperative for this album was to further the legacy of the greatest country star of the 1960’s by showcasing his growth as a recording artist and songwriter with a chronological journey through his music and back again before a finale dictated by Buck himself.

PEV: What in particular was it about Buck Owens that made him not only a staple of American music but a special interest for you? Did you find there was any added pressure to doing an album in honor of someone like Buck Owens?

D: In particular, Buck’s sound was fresh, vital and stripped down, with twangy Telecasters and infectious beats along with songs that deserved their numerous #1 appearances on the charts. There are just a few artists who come along and do something special at the right time with the depth of talent to make an incredible impact on their world and leave it changed forever. Buck Owens was one of these artists. His generation bore more than its share of amazing talents, but the one thing they had in common was a drive to be the best they could be and to better themselves in every aspect of what they did. Buck was a studio caliber guitarist, had a great tenor voice that truly reached people, (with perfect pitch I might add), was an estimable songwriter with a unique amalgam of musical influences to make his sound singular, and had the personality to match his determination for success. His music had the power to influence contemporaries such as The Beatles and Ray Charles and countless other artists as time keeps rolling along. As far as pressure in doing an album in tribute to an artist of this measure, we went into it knowing we would fall short, but hoped by honoring him to pass along some of the passion we feel for his music!

PEV: Describe to us what it was like the first time you stepped into a studio to record your own music?

D: I was a teenager and was just excited about having the opportunity to make a recording. It was a great experience and we made an album, but I learned quickly the realities of the time/money factor and the importance of having someone at the helm.

PEV: Is there someone you haven’t worked/collaborated with that you would like to?

D: The list is long and for the most part unrealistic, but I will say I’m proud of the associations I have had through the years. From the producers I’ve worked with (Dave Alvin, Kyle Lehning, Buzz Cason), to the writers and musicians who’ve shared the vision-it’s made for a fun job!

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

D: I think my parents knew I was heading there long before I did! When I went to college and declared a major of pre-med, my folks reacted kindly, but with some degree of puzzlement as I look back on it now. They said, “Why don’t you study music?” and “Go for what you enjoy doing.” But I guess I didn’t ever see the work I did learning guitar as equivalent to the work of school. A semester of challenging science courses and baffling math classes quickly cured me of my desire to become a doctor, and some positive reinforcement via female adoration, sealed my fate to making music a career. I guess you could say my education included studying a broad. Ha ha!

PEV: Is there another band/artist/performer on the scene right now that you think is “on the rise” and we should all be listening to?

D: I’m picky about who I listen to and I feel lucky that two of the bands I’m most into are also on our record label, Palo Duro. Two-Tons Of Steel and 1100 Springs are both really doing it right and making cool records-look for us to do some shows together soon.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Derailers show?

D: A dancing good time! Our music is about letting go and having fun for the most part, and our live shows will give you a taste of all the albums we’ve made and a variety of songs that we feel represent us. Get there early and bring a friend or two.

PEV: What is the best and worst part about playing live?

D: The best part is connecting with an audience and seeing people “get it”. The worst part is getting there and being away from home to do it.

PEV: You have traveled, what seems to be everywhere, which city (US or international) has been your favorite to play? Why?

D: There are many special spots for us in both the US and overseas, and new ones still popping up, but the best place to perform is right here at home in Austin, TX!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the Derailers?

D: We average out to all having the same hat size.

PEV: With the constant touring, when you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you doing? D: Spending time with my family and working on my acreage, which are both always in need of attention! PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

D: I’ve had the most supportive family and group of friends anyone could ask for, and their love and encouragement has been the light in dark times. I simply couldn’t have done this without them. My brothers take a personal interest and even give me song titles and set lists that come to their minds! It’s been a great way to stay in touch with my extended family too-with all the touring I’m in someone’s town at least once a year.

PEV: What would you say so far, has been your most memorable moment as a band?

D: There’ve been many, some I can’t tell you about but will never forget, and some that I can tell you are unforgettable. Playing on the Capitol Lawn in Washington D.C. on the 4th of July for more than 100,000 people was a highlight.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

D: I don’t know about the rest of the guys, but for me it’s a bathtub full of baked beans.

PEV: So, what is next for Derailers?

D: We’re already on our way with a new “regular” Derailers album and we’re gonna keep on keeping on! Thanks to all the fans and friends who come out and support us and we invite you to stop in at: derailers.com and our offical MySpace page for our touring schedule and to drop us a line. Keep twangin’!

For more information on The Derailers, check out http://www.Derailers.com 

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