Today’s Feature – August 17-18: Phoenix Block

August 18, 2008 at 11:04 pm (Today's Feature)

Steve Scheoffler and Andrew Jaffe of Phoenix Block have it pretty ironed out as to why their band has found success so quickly – they’re simply ahead of the curve. While the kids around them were growing up watching Sesame Street, these two were taking in lessons from The Beatles, The Eagles and The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. Using this as their musical backbone, they grew into a respected pair… all they needed was one amazing bassist and one amazing drummer. And while they certainly don’t grow on trees, the duo was lucky enough to find Tony Catania and Darrell Nutt respectively, bringing Phoenix Block to the forefront.

Their debut album “Chemtrails” just landed on record shelves everywhere, a true representation of the band and “a shot in the arm that the music business needs right now.” It stands out among the countless alternatives albums out there right now, blending together “melodic hooks and driving rhythms over modern electronica.” They’ve also worked hard to reach back and pull some of those childhood influences into this very current sound, pieces of melody and punk included.

Check out a live show as soon as you can – their music is after all built for the stage. The guys will tell you, “Our current material was written almost exclusively with a live performance in mind. So many of the bands we currently listen to have material that envelops the audience and sweeps them up into the whole experience.” You’ll be swapping energy with the crew all night. Get into the XXQ’s for a whole lot more.

XXQs: Phoenix Block

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Longtime friends, you began developing your songwriting skills at the young age of seven. Has music always been a passion for you? How did you first form as a band?

Steve of PB: Yes, music has always been a primary focus for Andrew and I. Having older siblings, we were exposed to rock music at a very young age. We formed our first band when we were 11, writing and recording original songs. We cannot boast about the recording quality in those days.

PEV: Growing up in South Jersey, what kind of music were you listening to growing up?

PB: While most kids our age were watching Sesame Street, we were listening to The Beatles, The Eagles and of course Bruce Springsteen (another Jersey boy).

PEV: Tell us about the early days in the music business for you. What were your first performances like and what was it like working your way into gigs?

PB: We started playing live gigs in high school (Battle of the Bands type stuff). We were very stiff at first hearing comments like, “Are their feet nailed to the floor”? As we gained more experience on stage we really learned to embrace performing live. By the time we were playing clubs in New York�s Greenwich Village, we had really refined our skills. We were moving between songs, forming the set list and working the crowd like pros.

PEV: Now, how has your style and stage presence changed from those first shows?

PB: Our current material was written almost exclusively with a live performance in mind. So many of the bands we currently listen to have material that envelops the audience and sweeps them up into the whole experience.

PEV: Was there a certain point when you realized that music was going to become more than just a hobby? As a band, did you find it more comfortable to have a support of the group, when you decided to enter the music business?

PB: Even as we concentrated on more traditional career choices, music was always on our mind. We never stopped writing or searching for new sounds. We always liked the band environment because of the give and take aspect that a songwriting partnership lends itself to. Sometimes, a “Competitive Atmosphere” raises the bar for each of the other songwriters to make significant contributions.

PEV: Who have you not collaborated with so far that you would like to?

Steve of PB: Andrew might have a different answer but I would not mind sitting down with Paul McCartney for an afternoon and seeing what we come up with.

PEV: In all your travels, which city do you think offers the best scene for music?

PB: We have always been mesmerized by New York and the energy it gives off. Just getting a slice of pizza seems more important there than anywhere else. So many of our influences really made it when they hit New York, almost like a right of passage to the next level of their respective careers.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Phoenix Block performance?

PB: Our music sets a mood with the audience. It emits energy from the first note of the intro in “Future Calling” to the driving drum beat in the opening of “Tear Us Apart”. We find that the crowd feeds off this energy and in turn, sends it back to us. A kind of symbiotic relationship.

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

PB: Richard Gladstone, a Singer/Songwriter (very introspective stuff).

PEV: What can fans expect from your new debut full-length album, ‘Chemtrails’ (hits nationwide radio in June with an official album release date of August 1, 2008)?

PB: We feel that “Chemtrails” is the shot in the arm that the music business needs right now. “Chemtrails” sets itself apart from other material out right now in that it has a unique blend of melodic hooks, and driving rhythms, laid over a modern Electronica.

PEV: Your sound has been called ‘U2 meets Coldplay’. With that, how is the sound on ‘Chemtrails’ different from that of other music out today?

PB: Although we are fans of both bands, we feel that our sound possesses a wider spectrum of sound. This might be because there are 3 main songwriters in the band that are constantly looking in different directions for their specific contribution while the production of these songs ties the album into one, single cohesive thought.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Phoenix Block?

PB: Darrell is a hand model.

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

PB: We usually come up with the initial ideas on our own and then present these ideas to one another. These sessions are met with both scrutiny, as well as support, but usually end up merging with inputs and direction from the other writers to refine the original idea into something special.

PEV: Ten years from now, where will the band be?

PB: Celebrating its 5th album release followed by another World Tour. There is nothing more satisfying than playing one of your own songs and having the crown sing it back to you. That is as good as it gets.

PEV: When you are not touring or performing, what can we find the members of Phoenix Block doing in their spare time?

Steve: Playing bingo and Parcheesi.

PEV: Before a show, are there any pre-show rituals you do or do you just go out there and perform?

PB: Andrew drinks some hot tea with honey, Tony has a latte, Darrell has a beer, and Steve takes his anti-seizure medication.

PEV: Playing so many shows and touring so much, there has to be some great live stories. Tell us, do you have any embarrassing or funny live performance stories?

PB: While we all have some stories from the past, Phoenix Block’s road stories are yet to be made.

PEV: In one word, describe Phoenix Block.

PB: Passionate

PEV: So, what is next for Phoenix Block?

PB: Following the August 2008 release of “Chemtrails”, we will be touring the radio circuit and playing live dates to better connect with our fan base.

For more information on Phoenix Block, check out www.phoenixblock.com

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