My 3rd column was a look at Zorn's 50th birthday month recording series. His label, Tzadik, was formed in 1995 and has been crunching out massive amounts of stuff since. It has all the right parts for a good jazz label, intriguing series titles, awesome album covers, and a swath of music wide enough to have cult favorites, timeless jazz works, and unknowns waiting to be rediscovered.

Southwestern style guitars and bass combined with endless loopings of people talking about ordinary things: John Somebody. Scott Johnson's 1986 album was officially inducted into and remastered by the Tzadik catalog in 2004. Directions:
You know who's in New York?
You remember that guy... J-John somebody?
He was a-- he was sort of a--...

Raz Mesinai's 2001 Before the Law combines electro-acoustics with sharp, fast changes all occuring in 1 - 2 minute packages. Plus, each movement is named after a Franz Kafka and seems to invite that unnerving terror of his novels.

At times, minimalism can seem boring until you look at the big picture. Amidst Tzadik's furthest reaches into the experimental, Jacques Coursil's trumpet fanfares on Minimal Brass record strips it all down. This record is very much like George Lewis' Solo Trombone record, taking instruments which are usually brought to the forefront to make loud statements, and press them all into the background with one another.

When one first begins listening to Zorn, it may be hard to adjust to the klezmer feel which is the rank and file among many of his recordings. Two Voices in a Desert is essentially a Tzadik gateway drug. The Perry Robinson Four, are backed by composer-pianist Burton Greene and two voices brings in equal parts of swing, klezmer, and free-form composition styles to create sophisticated musics.

Obviously I wouldn't get away without mentioning a Zorn release. One of my favorites of his chamber music is Cartoon S & M. Its a double disc performed by the Mondriaan Quartet. Disc 1 is a homage to Carl Stalling, it is light and drawn out with sharp changes and coordinated snaps and pops which visualize running, sneaking, and peering like in an animated short. The second disc is filled with shorter attacks of darker visuals. Any one of the Dead Man's 13 movements would be right at home in a thriller, they sound Hitchcockian, peppered with the usual klezmer we know from Zorn.

It's always a pleasure to hear about UML student or graduate successfully organizing events and contributing to their communities. Shawn Massak, a recent Umass Lowell graduate, is seeing his creation Mass Recovery Fest come together for the third time next weekend. This annual event will prove to be bigger and better than ever...more bands, more music, more surprises!
Its origin lies in a compilation called The Ice is Gonna Break, that Shawn put together for bands that he had either booked, or played with.
"I wanted to have some kind of release show for the compilation but wanted to showcase every band included, which was a tough feat for a compilation that included 20 tracks," said Massak.
The result was a two night festival at Andrew Hall, a space owned by the United Parish of Lunenburg, MA, using a borrowed P.A.
Last year, despite not releasing another compilation, the festival still took place, bringing together live, independent music from Massachusetts and beyond.
This year's festival has a new twist: the Everyday Use cassette comp. Cassette Tapes were the first home audio recording device. They allowed for people to record songs of the radio, make mixes for their friends, and essentially become their own DJs.
"I can remember taping music off the radio and smuggling unlabeled recordings of 'parental advisory' albums into my house...I have a taped copy of Life is Peachy still in my possession," said Massak.
To Massak, the cassette tape signifies music sharing and Mass Recovery Fest is his vehicle to do so.
"The event is important because I get to book bands I love, a lot of which I don't get to put on other Andrew Hall shows because of various restrictions, mostly distance," Massak said.
Mass recovery will last for two days beginning Friday, April 9th at 5pm and picking up again on Saturday, April 10th, at 5pm again. It will be held at Andrew Hall at 39 Main Street in Lunenburg. $7/night or $10 for both. All Ages. Everyday Use, the cassette tape compilation will be available for sale both nights.

Friday Lineup:

- From Sky to Sea
- the Bynars
- Bearstronaut
- State Champion (IL)
- the Thin Heir
- Peter Piek (Germany)
- Factors of Four (PA)
- Ian Fisher (New York)
- That Really Awesome Guy with a Guitar (TRAGWAG)
- Young Mountain (New Hampshire)
- the Cast of America's Favorite TV Sitcom

Saturday Lineup:

- The Sharpest
- Remainder
- Battleships
- Chalk Talk (CT)
- Black Bear
- By Surprise (NJ - Acoustic Set)
- Blue Star Burns Red
- Fishing the Sky
- Challenge the Throne
- Giuseppe (RI)

Curious about any of these artists? Mass Recovery Promotions is posting daily artist showcases on their blog!

Also check them out on Myspace or Facebook

Holy shit...

"Short Fuse Burning is having another show because our dear bassist Brian is leaving for Chicago and then Oregon. So we're going to have a big party/show! If you have seen the pictures from the "last" Short Fuse Burning show then you know how crazy it is going to get. Here's the info so far:

Friday May 7 2010
The Ant Cellar
778 Broadway Street Lowell MA 01854
SHORT FUSE BURNING + 3 more probably.
Basement show, probably start at 8pm."

courtesy of WUML forum.

Last Wednesday night, I journeyed out to the Great Scott in Allston where The Riot Before was playing their Boston tour stop with Cheap Girls. The Richmond, Virginia punk rock outfit released "Fists Buried in Pockets" back in 2008 and have been touring pretty heavily since it's release. Now awaiting their release of "Rebellion", due out April 27th, the band is once again hitting the road. Singer and guitarist, Brett Adams, was kind enough to let me interview him. He turned out to be a really awesome dude and we ended up talking about some pretty random stuff. Enjoy!

Tom: Why don’t we start by having you introduce yourself.

Brett: My name is Brett and I sing and play guitar in The Riot Before.

Tom: You guys are currently on tour with Cheap Girls. How is the tour going and are you playing any of your new songs from your upcoming album?

Brett: Tour has been going really well! We’re old friends with Cheap Girls so it has been super fun just coming and hanging out with them. There hasn’t been any sort of lag of getting to know the bands. It’s only two weeks that we’re out with them and a lot of times it takes a few days to get to know people so we were able to just jump right in and already be friends, which is fun. And we’re playing about two or three new songs a night.

Tom: You guys must be pretty excited for the new album, “Rebellion”. What can your fans expect to be different about this one as compared to your earlier releases?

Brett: I think that it continues a trajectory of our maturity, if you’ve been following us since our earlier releases. I think it’s a little bit faster and it’s a little more diverse as far as just kind of like, it’s overall a little heavier but the heaviness is a little more spread out while some songs are fast and some other songs are slow and heavy. We definitely diversify a little bit. But it definitely sounds like The Riot Before.

Tom: Yeah, the new song “Oregon Trail” sounds really good.

Brett: Oh yeah, that’s a little more of our pop punk kind of track on the record. I like that song a lot!

Tom: So when is the album being released exactly?

Brett: April 27th.

Tom: I noticed on your Myspace page that you guys are urging people to buy the album on vinyl when it comes out. Are you a vinyl nerd?

Brett: I am not a vinyl nerd unfortunately. I had a CD collection growing up and now I am kind of in that place where it is stupid to buy CD’s, like I don’t want another CD. But also, last year I lived out of my car for a whole year and like a lot of this band is couch surfing so that doesn’t play well towards collecting anything. So I would have started a record collection a long time ago if I had the means but I moved to Virginia with almost nothing and kind of just couch surfed. I’m actually looking forward to starting a record collection this year. I think vinyl rules I just don’t have any myself.

Tom: Do you have a record player?

Brett: Uhh, I’m going to. Haha.

Tom: It’s a fun hobby!

Brett: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it. And I like having tangible copies of stuff and on any release artwork is just way better represented by a huge twelve inch piece of paper.

Tom: So since you’re more of a CD guy, what is your stance on the whole downloading music controversy?

Brett: I mean, its hard because I think people should buy records. I download stuff so I would be a total hypocrite if I said I was completely against it. I think there have been times when it has totally worked for the benefit of certain bands. I think I don’t have a good ear for stuff that like. Like, have you ever gone to a store and like someone told you you looked good in a shirt that you didn’t think you looked good in and then you know, three months down the road you’re like I’m really glad I bought that shirt? You know, there’s a lot of stuff on my ipod that I didn’t like the first time I heard it and it’s just there and then three or four months later I’m just like, “this is the best fucking thing I’ve ever heard!” In that way the downloading thing rules because I’m a fan of bands that I wouldn’t have been a fan of if I had heard one song on Myspace and then decided not to buy the record. But you should still definitely be purchasing music. It’s not free to make you know? So if you like it you should purchase it. And that’s for me as well as for anyone else. That’s a speech for myself.

Tom: Onto something a little unrelated…I noticed that you guys are a pretty heavy supporter of the organization, “These Numbers Have Faces.” Can you talk a little bit about what exactly that organization does?

Brett: Definitely! These Numbers Have Faces was started by one of my very best friends a few years ago and the general idea was rather than getting overwhelmed by huge fatalistic statistics about horrible things going on in the world, let’s help individuals who are effected by that. It makes it a lot more realistic and a lot more doable to pick actual people and develop relationships with those people and give them aid. These Numbers focuses primarily on aid through education so they currently have, I believe six maybe seven students in a township in south Africa going to college and they are paying for their college education under the idea that a college education you can’t take away, you don’t just use that up so its aid that grows throughout the person’s life and nothing empowers people more than an education. So if you can give people in an impoverished area education, you’re really giving that area an opportunity to advance and under their own terms as well which I really like because if you go to an area and just kind of blanket help them you don’t know if that’s really what they wanted. You educate them, they go back and they diagnose a problem in their area and help it within their culture and I think that’s really cool. They’re doing a few other things as well but their primary focus is education and I think its phenomenal. And its really realistic.

Tom: Where can people who are interested find out more information?

Brett: . They have a Facebook and a Myspace page. Go to the website and they have a bunch of videos and really good information on there. There is one great campaign that I participate in which is, it costs $23 a day to send a student to college in south Africa so they figured if 30 people give $23 a month, that’s a students entire education expense so they have a $23 per month campaign and you can just sign up. I like to say on stage its basically like one less hangover a month and you’re sending a kid to college. I think its pretty phenomenal, I highly recommend that people do that. You don’t miss that $23 at all and it changes someone’s life.

Tom: That’s really awesome. So you guys hail from Richmond, Virginia which has a pretty good reputation for having a pretty strong music scene. What would you say is the most important aspect for trying to create and support a strong local music scene?

Brett: Well, I guess I would have to say that I should describe Richmond’s music scene a little bit better in that Richmond has a lot of really good touring bands and a lot of really good bands coming out of it but not necessarily the strongest local music scene as far as going to shows and being really kind of supportive in that sense. I almost sometimes describe it as, and this is totally my understanding of it, but it’s almost like its where bands that tour go when they don’t want to see shows. You know, it’s a really hard scene to get a fan base in because everybody tours and everybody is almost in the same place as you. It’s great to live there though if you are in a band. But all those scenes go in waves and so I think Richmond’s scene is coming up a lot better now. There are some houses doing shows, there’s some better venues…we lost some venues which really killed us. So I don’t know if I really have advice for creating a scene except for if you want a scene in your town just do it yourself, like you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you. If you look at the stronger scenes in this country, it’s a lot of very, very dedicated people. Colombus especially comes to mind. It’s very organized and very dedicated and there’s a whole structure of houses in Colombus where they’re dedicated to putting shows on and it happens and there is a scene as a result. It’s literally DIY. If you want a scene then make a scene.

Tom: What would you like to see change about the current state of the music scene right now?

Brett: You know I don’t really know. I really like the current state of music. I was talking with Corey yesterday, we were thinking about all the bands that are putting out records right now and there are some amazing bands right now that are releasing some very diverse music and I think the punk genre is better than its been in a long time and its very diverse. You look at The Gaslight Anthem, The Menzingers and Against Me who are all putting out records pretty soon. Broadway Calls put out one of the best pop punk records I’ve heard in a really long time last year. There’s fliers all over this venue for Titus Andronicus who are playing here and that band kills it! So I don’t know if I have any necessary things that I want to change. I think music is pretty good right now if you look in the right places. It’s over saturated but that’s like complaining that you got too much sleep. “Oh no there’s too much music.” Yeah it takes a little work to find it, but it’s better than it used to be I think. You know, I try not to be too much of an idealist for the past.

Tom: Alright, so this will probably be my last question. I like to ask everyone this. If you had to choose, who do you think would win in a fight…all of the ants in the world or all of the humans in the world?

Brett: Uhh. Are there like battlefronts?

Tom: It’s every single ant in the world versus every human and anything that a human has.

Brett: Hmm, I think I would say…wow, that’s a great a question…

Tom: There’s a lot of ants.

Brett: I mean, yeah there’s a shit ton of ants. I’m trying to wrap my head around that. I mean, I would go with the humans just because I feel like we would be able to have some sort of obnoxious something that would destroy them. I mean, there’s got to be some sort of horrible environment ruining chemical we can spray on stuff that could take care of most of the ants. At least have a safe place and spread out from there. There could be quarantines and then we could move on. Or we could get a bunch of six year old versions of me, because I used to collect ants in a jar and watch them dig tunnels, but they would all die. So if you would just sit me out in front I would collect all the ants, put them in a jar and they would all just die. So maybe the main strategy should be to get a bunch of six year olds to jar ants until the entire population is decimated.

Tom: There’s definitely like three million ants per six year old.

Brett: Yeah, exactly. That’s a lot of jars but I mean, they don’t have homework you know…they have time. Just take away the video games, give them some jars and send them out to get the ants. So humans win.

Tom: Six year olds win.

Brett: Yeah, six year olds will save humanity from the ants.

Tom: Awesome I like that. Well thank you very much for your time and good luck tonight! I’m looking forward to it!

Brett: Thanks I appreciate it!

The Riot Before will be releasing "Rebellion" off of Paper and Plastik Records on April 27th. For now, you can hear their newest song "Oregon Trail" on their Myspace at .
Live on Fallout Tonight

LFC's exciting spring schedule kicks off with a Marx Brothers revue April 2nd, 3rd, and 5th and then the Lowell Film Festival opens the following weekend.

Prof. Johnathan Silverman will present his findings during a Faculty Research Series Wednesday, April 7th at 3:30 – 5 p.m. in O'Leary 325. His new book, entitled "Hello, I'm a Cultural Text": Understanding Johnny Cash, focuses on the life and times of the dark-a-billy icon.

Jeff Warmouth's "Food Court" is ongoing untill April 2nd in the McGauvaran Gallery. The exhibit combines advertising, food, convenience, culture, and language in a visually-elemental installation. Hours Mon.-Thurs. 11 - 4, Fri. 9 - 2.

In brief:

So why not do last year? It was pretty interesting overall with labels like Tzadik (#2/#9) and ECM (#8) ushering in classicism and a jazz-plus of sorts. European artists like Stefano Bellani were now veterans of the not-so-fine line between jazz and classical. Hard bop has returned as a mainstay since it's burrowing underground during the mid-70s and has now been refined over and over again after reemerging during the late '90s. Two Cities, Sensible Shoes, and Varmint all are excellent examples of this.

Full Blast is one of Peter Brotzmann's many side prjoects. Allen Tousaint's Bright Mississippi is a great homage to the state itself and guys like Django, Duke, Monk and others. Rune Grammofon's Fire! album was great, topping out even international label mates Supersilent, but the real prize goes to Bobby Bradford. Midnight Pacific Airwaves is simply incredible, and features cross-career tracks from Bradford, half recorded in 1977 and the rest in this decade.

  1. Bobby Bradford Extet - Midnight Pacific Airwaves
  2. Led Bib - Sensible Shoes
  3. Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens - Two Cities
  4. Borah Bergman Trio - Luminescence
  5. Old Dog - By Any Other Name
  6. Jason Adasiewicz' Rolldown - Varmint
  7. Full Blast - Black Hole
  8. Stefano Bellani - Stone in the Water
  9. Allen Toussaint - Bright Mississippi
  10. Fire! - You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago
In Geoff Barrow's 5-10-15-20...his 30 was Ege Bamyasi! Krautrock! Portishead! Third! Beak's self-titled debut album from Ipecac sounds certainly more at home 197_ than 20__. I Know is a constant, fluid funk beat amongst a taut bass line which rolls up-scale and down-scale. A sheen of organ in the background brings in that sullen trip-hop, also on the grooved, fuzzy walks of Blagdon Lake and the glitchy first half of Ham Green. Ham Green's second half turns sludgy and cathedralic. This wintry, driving comes close to dark metal, but reserved.

Today is the last day to pay for your ticket to the april 2 A Wilhelm Scream/Smoke Or Fire show in Lowell via paypal! After 5PM today you will need to wait until the day of to purchase your ticket at the door. Do not worry though, the ticket will be the same $10 price and there will be plenty of them available.

This is Live from the Fallout Shelter 25th Anniversary Concert. The show has been airing live bands every week since 1985.

For ticket info please visit!/event.php?eid=10150090686980577&ref=ts
In 1991 stuff happened, two are:
  1. Galaxie 500 broke up after 4 years of making music.
  2. Richard Linklater's Slacker premiered at Sundance.
Slacker was groundbreaking in an entirely unexpected way. It is essentially a movie which celebrates, documents, and explores the nothingness of "bored," which turns out to be a lot more. Linklater, in his filmmaking breakthrough, gets off a bus in Austin Texas and taxis his way into a meshing of nobodys, but they're glamorized into independent film history.
"I went alone down to the drugstore
I went in back and took a Coke
I stood in line and ate my Twinkies
I stood in line, I had to wait"
-Galaxie 500, Strange

Predating Linklater was Dean Wareham (all the way left), and like Linklater he simply did something that you wish you'd thought of first. Play slower, take your time, and pen the poetry happening all around you at any given time. 500 brought a garage band mentality to dream pop. They met at Harvard, were named after a friend's Ford, and borrowed their drumset from Conan O'Brien. In '87, they signed to Shimmy Disc. If you look across their short lived discography, you'll see one defining factor: covers. Galaxie 500 paid homage to their heroes by covering their stuff and branding it with their lackadaisical sound.

1988's Today contained an immediate influence, Johnathan Richman. Both 500 and The Modern Lovers adhered as proto-punk musicphiles to garage rock rowdiness and mysticism. "Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste's" first noticeable difference is Wareham's voice, which is more angelic than Richman's. Richman's live Modern Lovers track, which is dominated by his voice, is transformed into a gaze of guitar chunking and ee-and-ahs on the toms and ride.

culminates in Tugboat, which is irresistible pop. Swaying into the more-complicated-than-it-seems drum part, this song presents the formula Intro+Lyircs+Solo=G500. After discussing parties, your friends, and the president, Wareham goes metaphorical: "I just wanna be your Tugboat captain," "there's a place i'd like to be..." Repeat. It seems to add layers of thought to the song, which could are multiplied by introspective guitars.

After Today, On Fire from 1989 propelled them to critical greatness. Snowstorm and Blue Thunder further strengthened their regional feel by slow-coring about Route 128 and the weatherman telling all the Cambridge kids about possible school closings. Of course G500 are not the manic MA drivers or snowbound adolescents, but strikingly lethargic non-participants. George Harrison's Isn't a Pity re-charges his 1970s timepiece. It's just as patient, but perhaps a bit happier as Wareham takes it up the scale at the end of the phrase, rather than down.

Joy Divison's Ceremony also goes this route, shoegazed and disillusioned rather than its original epic, forward feel. Standing on the brink of the decade, Strange is an anthem to the fast-moving 90s and seems to foreshadow those who took the back seat. Here We Welcome: internet, video-game popularity, Kevin Smith, and the show about nothing!

On This is Our Music, the group crystallized their sound. Fourth of July is the standard G500 formula: establish a laid back riff, talk quietly, harmonize atmospherically, then shred out a guitar solo to the end. Rim shots and congas are explored on the following track. Spook is an awesome lamenting slow jam. Summertime and Yoko Ono's Listen, The Snow is Falling seem to juxtapose each other, but it sounds as if G500 is the band for all seasons.

Oh yeah, thanks to Domino for re-releasing this stuff.

Baltimore bass-and-drums power trio Double Dagger's newest work will drop in about three days. The band's last album, More, was their first from the Thrill Jockey camp. It combines parts of punk (minimalist riffs, punchy banging lyrics, and sheer energy) with an art-rock palate (cerebral lyrics, cool changes, and weird sounds) to create an album that was equally Baltimore as it was Providence...or NYC 1985...or cut-off Texas hardcore...or the weird kid in the garage next door to your house. Masks is a 5 song sampler of essentially an extension of their sound. More More.

Get ready.

Prof. Johnathan Silverman will present his findings during a Faculty Research Series Wednesday, April 7th at 3:30 – 5 p.m. in O'Leary 325. His new book, entitled "Hello, I'm a Cultural Text": Understanding Johnny Cash, focuses on the life and times of the dark-a-billy icon.

In brief:

About Garth Donovan: Boston DIY filmmaker Garth Donovan funded PHILLIP THE FOSSIL, with blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of metal. Relentlessly collecting recyclable cans and scrap metal, Donovan made PTF in a green, cost effective manner. His debut feature, EVERYONE’S GOT ONE was described by the Boston Phoenix as “an edgy mixture of guerilla filmmaking and Andy Kaufman-esque antics” and the National Society of Film Critics named it “New England’s Best Comedy 2003.“ After the administrative director of Boston’s oldest drug and alcohol recovery center, The Hope House, saw Garth’s second feature film which dealt heavily with alcoholism, he commissioned the filmmaker to produce an in depth documentary on the organization. Currently, Garth is producing a narrative feature he co-wrote with award winning independent filmmaker Alex Karpovsky, directing a documentary on an underground rapper battling with the music industry and personal demons, as well as polishing off a script that he describes as BEFORE SUNSET meets Wong-Kar Wai.

One of Massachusetts' most promising DIY film mak
ers, Donovan's latest feature length, "Phillip the Fossil" premiered this past week at South By Southwest to critical acclaim (lead actor Brian Hasenfus won SXSW's "Breakthrough Actor" award). Written and directed by Donovan, "PTF" is described as a story "Set in small-town New England, Phillip The Fossil follows an aging party animal chasing the now extinct glory days of his youth. Blowing lines with kids half his age, making it rain in strip clubs, and voraciously pawing naive girls with “JUICY” tagged across their rears are all part of Phillip’s relentless pursuit of the endless summer. He chuckles along as the carefree town jester, but beneath this suffocating guise Phillip feels increasingly isolated in the dead end rut he has so comfortably dug. The chance to pull himself out comes when an old love returns home and the opportunity to run his own landscaping business knocks. But before Phillip can dust himself off he must first ditch the woefully insecure seventeen year-old that’s been his shadow for the last month. With her jealous, steroid-pumping ex in his grill and a best friend returning from Iraq with an acutely hostile form of PTSD, it isn’t long before Phillip gets tangled in a tornado of violence that may tarnish his future forever. Filmed in a brutal, stripped-down fashion, Phillip The Fossil is an uncompromising and realistic portrait of everyday people who struggle in all their blemished glory for a life of balance, control and meaning"

Keep your eyes open for more information about both Donovan and Phillip the Fossil! For more information, go to

Burton Greene is one cool pianist. He lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam during the '70s while playing with the likes of Sam Rivers, Bill Dixon, and Rashied Ali (featured on this album). Honed in Chicago, his latest release was with Klez-Edge, Greene composed all the music.

Back in '65 Greene, still firmly rooted in free-jazz, appeared at the Woodstock Playhouse with Ali, saxophonist Marion Brown, and bassist Reggie Johnson. This three song, 58 minute performance is not rooted in blues such as Ornette, nor the fire of Ayler or Coltrane, but a balance within composition between avant-garde classical and that of modal post-bop. Greene's ability to dance this line makes his brand of free jazz very accessible. Tree Theme II always has either Greene or Brown stepping in and out of structured lines, and then into improvised freedom. The rhythm section follows suit perfectly, anticipating every move.

'Cluster Quartet' begins to chug along with slow 1-2s, which change to doubled 1-ee-and-a-2s, and then eventually blast into a frenzy, like a perfect plan that suddenly falls apart. Respective solos are then taken. Brown, who this same year would file in behind Coltrane on Ascension, has a warm sound alike Trane's, but: 1.) is not scared to reserve it back down to a composed level and 2.) is able to do 1 because he's playing alto. This track's bass solo defines interplay between Reggie Johnson and Rashied, notably during through bowed screeches and quick-fire tweaks which drop the album down to it's lowest depths. On the finale 'Like it Is' the room is filled by Greene's somber induction and Brown's opening solo which brings out of this established low and back into a swirling solo section

Essentially this album can serve as a free-jazz gateway drug, but it could be coveted further for people who want some damn good music from jazz's most fertile era.

Crime In Stereo is one of those bands that has been pushing themselves as much as possible since their start in 2002. Now with 4 LP's, 2 EP's and a Split with Kill Your Idols under their belt, the Long Island natives are on the road once again promoting their latest album, "I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone", their second release on Massachusetts record label Bridge Nine Records. I was able to catch an interview with guitarist Alex Dunne at their recent Boston CD Release show at the Middle East Downstairs on March 2. We sat down in the upstairs restaurant, ordered some coffee and dug deep to find out what Crime In Stereo is really all about.

Tom: Why don’t we start by having you introduce yourself.

Alex: Hi, I’m Alex from Crime In Stereo. I play guitar and sing, kind of.

Tom: I wanted to talk about your new album, “I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone.” I think it sounds a lot different than your other albums, but what exactly was going through your mind when you guys were writing the album. What was the band going through during the writing process?

Alex: Hmm…I don’t know, that’s kind of a very abstract question. At the time that we did it I was teaching high school government, actually. I was teaching 12th grade high school government, and at the start, this is when we started doing pre-production because we started the record in I believe April so I was teaching through the end of the school year in June and I was basically, you know I was at work from 7 to 230 and then I would drive straight to the studio and then I was at the studio from 4 to 1 or 2 in the morning getting like 4 or 5 hours of sleep and then back to work every day. Christian was going through a pretty bad break up. I don’t know, it was a tough time. It was stressful.

Tom: Well, something good came out of all of it and that’s all that matters right?

Alex: Yeah.

Tom: So in your opinion, how does this album differ from all your other albums?

Alex: Uhm, I mean it is different. I mean I think the ways that it is different is apparent to anyone who listens. I don’t know, if I had to describe how it’s different, I don’t know, it just is. It just is.

Tom: Why did you guys decide to redo “Dark Island City”?

Alex: When we did the first Dark Island City it was written as two. They were always together and it just ended up being one that made that record and we always had the other one. But it was re-written several times, the lyrics were there and the concept was there but the music kept changing over time and with this one it just came together. But it was always going to happen, ever since Troubled Stateside. I mean the fact that the second Dark Island City would have come out on another record was always going to happen.

Tom: Why was that the plan for it to come out?

Alex: Just the whole idea behind the two songs. When you’re making a record, not everything goes as plan, you know, you run out of time, you run out of money, you know something maybe doesn’t fit the feel of the record, you know there’s a million things that can go into it so it just came together now, but if it wasn’t on this record it would have been on the next record or a record ten years from now. Maybe there will be another one.

Tom: Now, the two times I have seen you guys in Boston, they have been at all ages venues. I know that the last time you played here was on the Brand New tour at the House of Blues, which was also all ages. How do you feel about the all ages scene in Boston and New York right now? It seems like they are diminishing.

Alex: It’s very difficult, these record release shows are really like our first time ever as a band having to deal with not all ages shows. We have always been an all ages band as long as we have been together. But really what’s happening now, is promoters just don’t want to do all ages shows because there is too much risk for loss with you know, them not being able to serve at the bar and, I don’t really know what goes into the decision making process , but its not like behind the scenes there like you know there’s some big nefarious kind of like “oh if we do 21 and over they’ll pay us more” or anything like that. Its not the case. What it really comes down to is it’s a 19 or over or 21 or over show or there is no show. It’s not like it was even an option. So for example, the show here, if they wanted it to be on a Saturday, they would absolutely not do an all ages show on a weekend and then the only way we could get it 19 and over and not 21 and over was to have it as a matinee. So we fight hard, we really do and our booking agents kind of you know probably think we’re being immature about it, but we do fight hard for all ages and the fact that it was a matinee show at 1pm was the compromise we had to make to even get that Boston show to be 18 and over otherwise for them on a weekend they will only do 21 and over because its Friday night, its Saturday night and they need to have the bar open. That’s how they make their money, they don’t want to waste their time with an all ages show on a weekend. So for example, the New York City show, when it was on Friday night was 19 and over and now that it got moved to a Tuesday night its all ages. So on Tuesday night they don’t give a shit, you know they’re like “alright whatever its on a Tuesday night have it we don’t care.” But on a Friday night, they know that if they put in a drinking crowd, for example, a club like Webster hall where our New York City show is…if we’re going to sell it out with 350 people, that same room would rather have 100 or 120 people of a drinking crowd than 350 people of an all ages crowd because of that 350 the only money they’re getting is what comes in at the door and that’s it, where as if you get 100 or 120 people of a drinking crowd and it ends up being a good drinking night, there’s a huge potential for backend profit, so almost every venue of every where now doesn’t want to waste there time with all ages shows on weekends. They want a drinking crowd and for us as a band now with a major booking agency and starting to be in more legitimate venues and less VFW’s and catering halls, it’s tough. It’s tough…it’s crazy. I’m sorry that was such a long winded answer.

Tom: No, no. The whole all ages topic, I love it because it’s so surprising how the alcohol industry has such a hold over the music industry.

Alex: Well, that’s really a broad generalization because its not like the alcohol industry has a hold over the music industry, it just comes down to dollars and cents like if it was you’re business, if you owned a club, you would feel the same way. You could be the most DIY legit dude, and you know have all your punk rock ethics and ideals but when it comes down to it, you need to pay your bills and if it’s the difference between keeping your business open or not, I mean those are the tough choices you have to make. For example, like the Triple Rock in Minneapolis, those are the guys from Dillinger Four and they know what’s up, those are like legit DIY down to earth dudes but their shows aren’t all all ages, they do a ton of shows that are 19 and over or 21 and over. You know we have to ask specifically for all ages shows and it’s the same thing like if we want a Friday night at the Triple Rock and we want to do all ages, and they have an offer for a Metallica or some gimmicky cover band that they know is going to bring a 21over crowd regardless, absolutely 10 times out of 10 the dudes from Dillinger Four are going to do the gimmick cover band over Crime In Stereo because that’s there business, they have to keep their doors open. It’s not like the alcohol industry has a stranglehold on anyone, it’s just those are the economics of real life.

Tom: So what do you think people can do to, even though the whole business aspect of everything kind of takes control and you have to look to making a profit, what do you think people can do to still help the all ages scene in the meantime?

Alex: Well, you know the same option that was always there, which is do DIY shows. Rent out a VFW, rent out a catering hall, an artspace, you know something like that and put on your own show. The problem becomes when you’re dealing with bands that then outgrow those things. You know what I mean? So for example, us on long island, its tough because there is really only one legit venue, the Crazy Donkey, and it sucks. You know I think there is a new place but for arguments sake to illustrate my point, there’s really one place you know the crazy donkey and it sucks and its 1000 capital and they don’t want to do lower than 15 dollars a ticket and they don’t want to do all ages shows especially on weekends. But the DIY spaces that are available hold 150 kids, 200 kids, so what do you do? You can’t make everybody happy. If you play the DIY space you have to turn 200 kids away at the door who don’t get to get in to see the show. Or you do it at the Crazy Donkey and everyone has to go to the venue that they hate and half the kids cant get in because they’re under 21 and its like there’s no good answer. It is what it is. You’ll never be able to make everybody happy. Ideally you could, but there’s always something. Take like Gilman Street in San Francisco, Gilman Street is amazing. If you draw 40 kids or 400 kids they’ll have a show for you and its DIY, there’s no bar, there’s no alcohol on premises, they divvy up all the money between bands, other than expenses. It’s amazing. But if you’re with a major label or a major booking agency, they wont deal with you. We go way back with Gilman Street, we’ve played there a bunch of times, we’re good friends with the people who book there. But if we sign with a major, they won’t book us there anymore.

Tom: Really?

Alex: Absolutely, 100%. And what do we do about that then? So now we want to play San Francisco and we can’t play Gilman and now we’re stuck at a major club. And it sucks because for a band like us we’re kind of a mid size band. We draw, you know a couple hundred kids maybe, or less, give or take.

Tom: Yeah, you’re right on that threshold.

Alex: Exactly. So like most of the major venues are for 500 or 600 people. So what happens when you’re less than that but slightly a little bit more than the 150 cap DIY space. It sucks, I mean it sucks but it is what it is. There’s nothing you can do.

Tom: Well, that was a pretty good response on the all ages topic. I ask a lot of people about that and its really surprising how a lot of bands aren’t really that passionate about it, because the whole business aspect makes sense, you need to try and make a profit. But at the same time I feel like a lot of bands need to work harder to kind of, even though they’re trying to grow, still maintain the DIY ethic.

Alex: Well I mean it depends because for years it was never an issue for us because we always played like underground DIY shows and so it was a non-issue, you know what I mean? Like it never came up. No one ever said “oh you have to do 21 and over” because in the world in which we existed it was just not an issue and no one ever said that to us. Like, we only played DIY shows, we were always in CD bars and VFW's and catering halls and things like that and so when we would go out and do a tour with like, Have Heart or Blacklisted and Verse and Guns Up and Life Long Tragedy kind of like our group of bands that we all came up touring with, it was never an issue, it was totally a give in that the shows would be all ages. But now, things have changed for us slightly and so now we’re kind of playing more like legit clubs, less DIY spaces. Some of that is because of us and some of that is because a lot of those DIY spaces just don’t exist anymore. And now its an issue and it’s a totally new experience for us because it was never something we had to deal with before and it was actually pretty shocking to us when we started booking with our new booking agents and they were like, “you know you guys cant do a whole tour of all ages shows right?” And we were like, “wait really?” You know before this year I would say that the number of 21 and over shows that we played literally was no more than 3. In our entire existence as a band I could name them. You know like, I know there was night in San Diego, we were on tour with Polar Bear Club and Broadway Calls and it was the only show we could get. Maybe 1 or 2 more times when we were first starting out, but before this year maybe 3 times total in our 5 or 6 year history that we played age restricted shows and now in the last month we’ve probably played half a dozen.

Tom: Wow. That’s Ridiculous.

Alex: It’s crazy.

Tom: Are there any cities or areas in the country that are more lenient as far as the all ages scene is concerned?

Alex: No, I mean there’s not really so much a thing as an all ages scene. Some places you go and there’s subsidized community centers which are always really, really cool. In Santa Cruz there’s one, there’s like a community center that they let have shows. There’s some places in the Midwest in Missouri, and places like that. Strangely enough, there’s a lot of like, Christian collectives and cooperatives like in Joplin, Missouri that have amazing venues that do all ages shows, that don’t care whether or not you’re a Christian band and they’ll do all ages shows. But for the most part, it’s business. Owning a venue is like owning a restaurant or a bar and its basically the worst business you could go into. On top of that its so hard to own any mom or pop self proprietor in this day and age. And when you’re dealing with like, Live Nation, who owns venues and like, these major conglomerates that are in the business of owning rock clubs and you own like, the Middle East or like, a local kind of place, they’re not trying to fuck around with all ages shows. I mean the stakes are big for whoever owns this. This is there livelihood, this is how they pay their bills, this is how they pay their kids tuition and if you think they’re going to risk all of that because of your local punk rock show, it’s just totally unrealistic. That’s just not the way the world works and people need to understand that. So I wish there was an all ages scene. I feel like when I was growing up there was, but when I was growing up I went to shows in warehouses, you know I went to shows in warehouses and every VFW in long island and catering halls and shitty dive bars where they would have shows because that was the only way they could make money, they couldn’t get people in the door otherwise and you know that’s never going to die out. I think when you talk about in terms of all ages, you mean like big shows “all ages” you know, kind of in legit venues and things like that you know the VFW’s and catering halls are never going to have age restrictions, that’s never going to die out. But if you want to go see the Dropkick Murphys do something like that, then it’s a different a story. Imagine you were in, I’m just using them as an example, I have no idea if their shows are all ages or not, but say you’re in the Dropkick Murphys and you’re going to do a 60 day tour and they average out the numbers and they’re like well if you do 21 and over you’re going to average out 17000 dollars in guarantees a night and if you do all ages shows you’re going to average out 7000 dollars in guarantees a night and someone puts that in front of you and you’re a dude in this band and you’re talking about a difference of coming home from tour with 30000 or 40000 dollars in your pocket…its rough out there. As much as people want to support DIY and independent music and shit like that. It’s tough. It’s definitely tough out there. Not everyone can be like Ian Mackaye and really stick to their guns. It’s not black and white.

Tom: That’s a good answer, I like that. Well, I think that’s going to do it for the interview. Thanks a lot, it was great to have you. Do you guys have any plans for after this tour to come back to Boston.?

Alex: Yes. I think we’re going to come back and do a very special something…a very special show at probably like the end of April, early May. I think we’ll be back to do something very special.

Tom: Why exactly will it be so very special?

Alex: Well, you’re going to have to wait. I can’t say yet. But yeah, you know this show is at the Middle East and there was a problem with the age restriction and everything so next time we come back in about, I guess like two months, I would definitely like to and expect to see the show at the ICC in Allston or the Cambridge Elks Lodge right across the street. So when we come back it should absolutely be in one of those two places.

Tom: Well, that will be a lot of fun.

Alex: Cool.

Tom: Well thank you for the interview and congratulations on the new record.

Alex: Thanks a lot man I appreciate that.

Crime In Stereo is currently on the road promoting their latest release, "I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone." Make sure to catch them when they come to your town, or when they come back to Boston in April or early May. You can go to to buy their album or for tour information.

Also, as we were leaving I realized I didn't pay for my coffee. Oh well.
Banjoist Ali Lipman of TRAGWAG is chronicling their east coast tour.

Next up on the exhibit front for UML is "No Thing" by Richard Ryan. Show runs April 12 – May 6 and will include drawings, paintings and woodcut prints. The event will features interesting takes on realist still life.

On Wednesday March 31 at 6 pm a biographical play will be held in O'Leary Library Room 222. It focuses on Goodyear Tire supervisor Lilly Ledbetter and her 17 year career, during which time she was subjected to sexual harassment, retaliation, and wage discrimination. Based on her sex, she was paid unfairly and cheated out of a good salary.

Jazz night at Durgin on March 25th. Classic favorites from Maynard Ferguson and Buddy Rich will be performed by UML's Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Rock Big Band. The Compaq Big Band will also be performing. Free Admission. Show begins at 7:30

  • Sinbusters, Big Sway, more - Midway Cafe, Jamacia Plain, 3/23 at 9:00pm 21+ OR 8$
  • Three Dub Mice, Big Sway - The Garden, Nashua, 3/27 at 8:00pm
  • A Wilhelm Scream, Smoke Or Fire, Energy, Lantietam, Rebels of Art - UTEC, Lowell 4/2 at 6:30, ALL AGES 10$
In brief:

Catch the chillwave, glo-bro. Slumber pop? Slumber rock? Kewl Boring Music 2 Smoke Weed 2?

When describing Toro Y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick), or his debut album "Causers Of This", you'll hear lots of words involving beaches, bros, and sleeping. But sadly, folks, this is a crock of bullshit: this mini pop masterpiece is an ocean. Clever, right?

Dreamy vocals, skittering samples, with washed up drums and synths carrying it home: I'm undecided on whether or not this album should be meant for a summer or winter listen. However, it's perfect to nap to. Perfect to read a book to. Perfect to write to. I suppose this undermines the album (and makes it seem incredibly boring), but I really cannot say enough great things about Toro Y Moi.

I'm sorry to join the bandwagon on this one, but the kids are right. PROOF? Check out the single "Blessa" for a good summation of what's going on.

(I'd also like to note that WUML and myself do NOT endorse the term "chillwave", "glo" anything, etc.)
The Minks 'official site' is a string of photos ranging from cigarette butts to Joy Division skateboards to Lux Interior in classic form and Matt Dillon in Drugstore Cowboy. Funeral Song is just as collaged. The bass sound is high, and emulates the lead guitar which floats along with squeaky synth, making it seem happy ('summertime and i like it') and sad (Funeral song) at the same time. The 7" is post-punk garage rock which is expected from Captured Tracks, every band on the label could play all at once, and many wouldn't be able to tell the difference. It's a great alternative to some super-rosters out there.

So why not do last year? It was pretty interesting overall with labels like Tzadik (#2/#9) and ECM (#8) ushering in classicism and a jazz-plus of sorts. European artists like Stefano Bellani were now veterans of the not-so-fine line between jazz and classical. Hard bop has returned as a mainstay since it's burrowing underground during the mid-70s and has now been refined over and over again after reemerging during the late '90s. Two Cities, Sensible Shoes, and Varmint all are excellent examples of this.

Full Blast is one of Peter Brotzmann's many side prjoects. Allen Tousaint's Bright Mississippi is a great homage to the state itself and guys like Django, Duke, Monk and others. Rune Grammofon's Fire! album was great, topping out even international label mates Supersilent, but the real prize goes to Bobby Bradford. Midnight Pacific Airwaves is simply incredible, and features cross-career tracks from Bradford, half recorded in 1977 and the rest in this decade.

  1. Bobby Bradford Extet - Midnight Pacific Airwaves
  2. Led Bib - Sensible Shoes
  3. Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens - Two Cities
  4. Borah Bergman Trio - Luminescence
  5. Old Dog - By Any Other Name
  6. Jason Adasiewicz' Rolldown - Varmint
  7. Full Blast - Black Hole
  8. Stefano Bellani - Stone in the Water
  9. Allen Toussaint - Bright Mississippi
  10. Fire! - You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago

On February 13, Danielle and I traveled out to the ICC Church in Allston to the Four Year Strong, Strike Anywhere, Title Fight, This Time Next Year and Mountain Man show extremely excited to interview one of the current leading voices in punk rock, none other than Thomas Barnett, lead vocalist of Richmond, Virginia posi-core band Strike Anywhere. As we get to the venue, I decide to give Thomas a call to find out where to meet up. He doesn’t answer so we decide to go into the church and find him ourselves. As we are standing in the hallway of the infamous home of Massachusetts hardcore, I feel my phone vibrate and notice that Thomas is calling me. As I grab my phone, I look up and he is standing right next to me not knowing that I am right next to him. I tap him on the shoulder and introduce myself and the three of us travel to the back of the church into a very small dark room next to the stage. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t nervous interviewing Thomas as Strike Anywhere has been one of my favorite punk bands for a long time now, but lucky for us, Thomas turned out to be the nicest person in the world.

Tom: My first question is, Iron Front was your first release off of Bridge Nine Records, a local Massachusetts record label. What was it that made you want to switch from Fat Wreck Chords to Bridge Nine?

Thomas: That’s a good question. We have nothing but love for Fat and we spent four years touring on Dead FM which was our only record and commitment on Fat Wreck. I guess when we started building the songs that later became Iron Front we just felt that artistically with the sonic direction and sense of impact and aggression that was happening it seemed like it would fit a label like Bridge Nine, and you know we have a lot of love for East Coast hardcore, and maybe even that is more of where we come from as far as roots and culture than the kind of sunny often comedic world of west coast pop punk. It’s not really our thing. We have a lot of really good friends working at that label and they were nothing but fair to us…I just feel like that artistically Bridge Nine is our cup of tea and it feels like more of where we came from and also where we are going.
At some point it does get hard to relate to the weird sense of intoxicated self involved celebrity culture that surrounds some of the more wealthier West Coast punk bands. Sometimes you cant really relate to it and have it make you feel like your part of an actual community of resistance and ideas. I think as far as the way we relate to this counter culture in our ten years of time in strike anywhere it makes more sense for us to move laterally through the underground and working with and building relationships from various labels, people that we count as mentors and friends whether that is Var from No Idea, Daren and Tim from jade tree records, Fat Mike and all those lunatics at Fat Wreck and now Chris Wrenn and Bridge Nine and that family. Its all one thing to us. It’s all about spreading love and building connections. Plus so many of our friends from the earliest stages of this band are now in bands on Bridge Nine. It seems to have all happened at once you know its like you graduate high school and then everyone goes off in all these directions at different universities and then you all end up working at the same place ten years later. For all those reasons and also it felt like something new and fresh and inspired like Bridge Nine’s commitment to Hardcore and Chris’ commitment to music that he loves and just you know artwork and vinyl and packing it with posters like it’s the mid nineties like buying a seven inch or lp or a cd that is packed to the brim with stickers and posters and things. That’s the punk experience that we grew up with and Bridge Nine still seems to pull from that tradition. So we’re stoked to be a part of it.

Tom: Who are some of the bands that you are happy to see as label mates?

Thomas: Oh man, Soul Control, Defeater, Ruiner, I mean all of them! I hung out with Death Before Dishonor last summer at ten bands for ten bucks and those guys are awesome. We played two shows with Agnostic Front and that has been amazing and now there our label mates. Seriously it’s incredible. Like Polar Bear Club, they’re old friends of ours and they’re an amazing group, Crime In Stereo…they’re so many. All of them. Even the one’s we haven’t played with yet. We’re just really excited about the future.

Tom: Yeah it seems like a really tight knit family and it is really cool to see that with labels.

Thomas: Yeah!

Tom: I heard for Iron Front, you did a lot of writing overseas in a space built by Prague Nomads. How did that idea come about and how was that experience?

Thomas: We had been sending these digital footnotes, like guitar and vocal ideas back and forth and building on songs in this way and then Rise Against invited us to tour with them in Europe and we were like yeah lets do that and then we were like hey let’s meet up with our tour manager and friend Ellish, who was part of the early nineties central European otto-noman scene which were kind of like the anti globalization resistance movement counter culture that did a lot of squatting and fixing things up all over Europe and just developing a world within a world against an isolated and divided and capitalist infrastructure of a society. So with all those tactics of like “lets take this old building and get heat and water and get a kitchen going and feed everybody” and anyway that is the tradition that the nomads come from and then they also have a fleet of crazy vehicles to take punk bands around in and they have a warehouse full of gear so whenever you come to Europe you can pick out your guitar rig and drum kit and some kind of weird vehicle that’s surprisingly comfortable but DIY made and that’s how we do our European tour, so Ellish was like “look we have this room with a PA in it and you guys can spend some time and live here and write and rehearse”, so we spent our days walking around Prague in the snow trying to shake off our jetlag and we spent all night in the heart of winter in the heart of Europe trying writing that record in that room.

Tom: It must have been a really awesome experience.

Thomas: It was! It was amazing and it was really good to have something that feels like an adventure. A lot of bands with a huge budget will live in a studio and write in a studio because that’s like the old school seventies major label way. But for us it was like we need to live as punks in this punk filled environment in this ancient and impossibly sad snowy and beautiful European city and wander around and drink cheap beer and have nothing to do but write music from 12 - 6am.

Danielle: How did all of this, Strike Anywhere, get started as an entity? To me, when I listen to your music it seems like it comes from a place so much different than “we’re a bunch of angry kids who have something to say” and that’s really inspiring and touching to hear every album after album and I just wanted to know what was the progression? How did you guys connect on that?

Thomas: It’s inspiring and touching to hear your analysis. That’s what we hope happens and that’s what we hope to project. We started when my band mates were in their late teens and I was in my mid twenties and so I was previously involved in the Richmond punk scene in a band called Inquisition ( me and my friend Matt Sherwood found Matt Swift and Garth because we knew his older brother and Eric and we just started writing songs and playing music in warehouses and basements of punk places in Richmond. It was the kind of thing where it was exciting that we had songs, that we could play our friends house, that we could go to DC and play a show, like everything we did felt like beyond everything we had anticipated like “oh wow, we’re really going to go on a week long tour with hot water music!” like all these different windows that had opened up. And now we just tour and we just go everywhere and its strange because we feel like there are always new opportunities, like we’re going to Costa Rica at the end of March and like we did a eastern European tour two summers ago, we went out to Bella Ruse, Levia and Moscow like a year ago. So all these different memories and moments are resonating with us and its strange, we have just been putting one foot in front of the other, not really having any ambitious career (air quotes)…because its not only not what punks about but it’s also not what we’re good at as individuals, just writing songs that we believe in and tapping into that part of you that is so frustrated in the world, but we’ve been exposed to so many positive communities like fighting for change and also loving towards change and having that kind of interesting human duality that is involved in this counter culture makes this way more than music for us and we just happen to be folks that put these feelings in songs and like the cathartic group moment of singing along like we start the song but it doesn’t end when its on the record, its just begun and so everyone else carries that message, there interpretations and what they need from it and then gives it back to us and then we give it back and it just goes back and forth. I know it sounds intense when its just a two minute hardcore song, but that’s the answer to why it has been ten years because we don’t own this shit its just happened to us the way its happening to you and the way its happening to everybody and its beyond just our little band and the good luck and accident of being able to tour the world and make records and independent labels that we respect and work with amazing groups and people of vision and heart, but there’s this huge part where you just feel like its this aspect of our species like making art and communicating with people and when its honest it’s a revolutionary act…it has to be, and you guys know this because you are doing underground media right now as we speak like you’re fighting against the competition and the isolation and everything becoming an advertisement for a debased and degraded version of itself and to make yourself to fight against becoming co modified, becoming just a product, is really what this whole reaction and revolution is about so for us I think it is just part of our very survival, our psychological and intellectual survival if you will.

Danielle: That is wonderful! And it sounds like it had just been a really exciting progression towards living the dream.

Thomas: (laughs) Uhm…it’s a dream where like our housemates and families all really wish we could just get a job and settle down but this is our calling you know? It certainly doesn’t make any economic sense. Being a middle aged punk rocker and never having any health care or other credentials in life is kind of a scary thing, but I know I’m not the first and that there are plenty of other folks in this legacy of American hardcore older than me and my peers who are enjoying the same absurd reaction and like getting older in America and realizing all you have is your voice on these little records that are various colors . But its beautiful and fun and we are always trying to find ways to operate that are still righteous and moral but at the same time not just play shows to the people who are converted or the people who know more about what we sing about than we do and try to open this up to all the folks that we once were when we were young teenagers like hungry for substance and hungry for truth and hungry for a place where we could go and be a family of outcasts. So being a part of a scene that evolves is huge for us and it would be what I guess I could call spiritual…you know because we’re atheists…you know like its what it means when you cant quantify something and its more than coming home with a few hundred dollars to pay the bills that are waiting for you when you get back, like its much bigger than that and that’s a part of it where we don’t make any long term plans with labels or booking agents we just do what we do when it feels right, and that’s another reason why we haven’t imploded and have the stamina because we’re just living in the moment, but for ten years.

Danielle: Earlier you touched on another subject that I wanted to bring up with you and that’s the kind of multiplicity there is to the music that you make which is something I find very rare in punk music in general where its kind of like the anti establishment theme that you’ve got going on but I never hear come out as just anger or discontent in your songs, like there’s this feeling of dissatisfaction with how things are but there’s always this underlying message of love and understanding and things that can transcend that and I think that is a really important message that you guys give off.

Thomas: No, that was a beautiful interpretation and that is of course what we desire the most. But its something that we also have to live up to as well and I think we tend not to over think what we do or who we are and its important for us to remember that we are just five friends stumbling through life playing loud crazy music and yelling at people and to the outside world it doesn’t make sense but to many people in our community it is way more precious and delicate than it sounds. It is really vulnerable, not vulnerable as in the hyperbolic, romantic, screaming, emotional sub genres of music that almost get misogynist because they’re only about boys yelling at their ex girlfriends, because that’s not doing me any good like where are they taking us with that. I think with the songs that we write and the way that we approach the songwriting process we are all foolish idealists but there is also something real that we have reached. Trying to write the perfect song to describe that feeling, that’s why there are so many records and we keep putting out punk records because we have yet to do it, but we are getting there.

Tom: A common characteristic with punk bands and their fans is to somewhat hate and disagree with the police and I feel like sometimes it gets put on as a gimmick just as a crowd pleaser. But I feel like you guys have a pretty decent message behind your songs that involve anti police force, anti police brutality and all of that. So I was wondering, what are your thoughts on this theme as a trend and do you have any specific examples behind the way you guys put it in your songs?

Thomas: Obviously we try to write from lived experience especially with songs like Sunset on 32nd Blvd which was just me watching a racist police dragnet destroy my neighbors lives in front of me. Its so personal that the song, even though it has a greater political metaphor, is more of just an act of catharsis for the sense of powerlessness and rage that I felt by watching my neighbor being pulled out of his house and being kicked by six cops and when the cops turned and looked and saw me and my partner staring at them from our porch and saw the fact that we were Caucasians they kind of stopped and started making excuses and pulled him into the van and they took him to the hospital to try and clean him and then because they broke the hinges on the door and destroyed part of the house just trying to get him out because he fit the profile of African American male on bicycle, and that’s who they were running down that week in my neighborhood and they’re allowed to do these things with impunity, unless you are there to observe. I would have much rather not had that happen and for us just to write a fun angry you know “we’re the punks and we hate the cops” kind of song, that would have been much better than to have actually had to have witnessed that and the collateral effect it had on my neighbors who were pushed into the projects, their kids given up to foster care, every job lost, every opportunity lost, pretty much they were put in prison even when they weren’t, just by poverty and racist police profiling.
As a band, we have been pulled over, harassed, robbed at gunpoint, incarcerated, let go and occasionally helped, all by police in various profile. In our own, in Japan, in Italy, in Russia. Most of the time, 85% of those things have been corruption, violence, staring at a loaded gun while we know our belongings were getting rifled to and our money and records…you know why would they ever take our punk records!? We never got to ask that question because when our tour manager went up to them and said “you idiots I’ll cut you” and we’re just holding him back saying “Joseph why are you saying this?” And all they said was “Joseph we are the Italian police“, not why…nothing…they just needed to announce who they were and everyone shut the hell up. So all these things were odd circumstances for us, like we played a show in Moscow and there was a neo Nazi bomb threat on the club, threats of violence the entire day we were in Moscow just trying to get to the show, a lot of anti racist skinheads and this awesome women led group of the Rash came out and were there to defend us which was really sweet of them and it wasn’t because we were a band that they knew or liked it was because that was their duty in their minds. Then a bus load full of cops in black armor and automatic rifles came out of what looked like a painted school bus into the club with German shepherd dogs who then sniffed for this bomb that they didn’t find because it wasn’t there and they, the police left and on their way out they extorted money from the club owner who then extorted money from the promoter who then extorted money from us and then we were abandoned in a hostel the next morning with no way to get to our airplanes, no money to pay for our flights or work visas…and then a kid from the show appears out of nowhere, we don’t even know how he knew where we were or that we were abandoned, but he did, and he flagged down a bunch of Russian dads on their way to work on the ring roads around Moscow to be our taxis, to take us to the airport, to get to our flights on time and then he took us to the bank and paid us. All of these things done by a kid who last time we saw him he was wearing a Youth of Today varsity jacket because kids in Moscow and eastern Europe know more about American hardcore than most North Americans do. But they have their own amazing bands too. But last time we saw this guy he was in midair taking the mic and now he was saving our lives literally from rotting in a cold basement of a hostel in Moscow.
So we have had people in the scene and the community rescue us from the collateral effects and avalanche of power abuses and state control by police. And we have also seen people outside of our fairly trivial punk rockers trying to get into different countries trying to play shows or whatever, we’ve seen other peoples lives devastated by racist police assault and class biased police assault and so for us its songs that we wish we didn’t have to write and feelings that we wish we didn’t have to feel but the reality is there. It’s not just coming from a punk band that has beliefs and values against state control and authority and we recognize that law enforcement is there to protect property and the ruling class and there is no humanism in that approach. Now this is not to say that every individual of law enforcement cannot be actual heroes, as much as that has become an inverted joke. There are some really good hearted people out there in every profession and so we have had police be extremely kind to us and help us. Like in Japan we were incarcerated for not having the right work visas that we didn’t know weren’t the right ones the first time we tried to go there and we were just left and forgotten in a kind of persona non grada cell on the ground of the airport, but outside in that weird area where you’re not allowed in a country…we were there… in that middle ground when you’re not anywhere, you’re not a citizen, you’re nowhere, your passports are gone, no one knows or cares where you’re at, and so there were people from all over the world there and after about 30 hours a police officer came up and was like “hey why are you here? I know some English” and so he helped us get out of there and at least get to Australia where we had a tour. So later we went back to Japan and had the right paperwork and made it and now we play shows there all the time and it’s cool.
What we risk and what we sacrifice is meaningless compared to the damage that law enforcement does to working class communities of color and to people all over the world like in the service of the state and the corporate dogma that has rewritten what it means to be alive and to function in our democracies. That’s something we had already known but we have the unfortunate opportunity to not just be there to intellectualize into something that’s a pithy statement and an aggressive punk rock trope but its something that we have lived and experience first hand and we wish we didn’t have to.

Tom: You guys have been around for a pretty long time now, and I like to see that you are playing shows with up and coming bands like some of the bands tonight, Title Fight and Mountain Man, who are well respected around here. What is the best advice you can give to these new bands who are sometimes faced with the decision to keep going or give up?

Thomas: Yeah that’s something everyone has to kind of understand for themselves and for the reasons that they’re doing it. I think the bands that keep doing it, it just means that they still have something to say, the chemistry works and they have managed to strike a balance between having the band eat their lives and having a personal life and a life in a community where you still have honest inspiration. The crappy seventies rock “only write songs about the road because you’ve been in this isolated rock star bubble and tour bus for most of your life”, like there is a punk rock version of that where you can write songs about traveling and having adventures and playing cool venues and connecting, but if you don’t also have a life in your town beyond the identity of the bassist or drummer of this particular band then your only living like a one dimensional aspect of this thing that is meant to be a three or four dimensions. So I mean I would say just be real with yourself and don’t be desperate about needing to be in a band all the time. There’s other ways to contribute, there’s other ways to get it out and manifest your desires. Like our friends in the Beehive collective that are here, they do the visual art component of many of the activist ideals that a lot of bands try to live up to and they have an amazing time and they have a party while they do it. And I think that some of the things, especially as punk is pretty structured even in the independent underground sectors that you can just go through the motions for a while, like I’ve seen bands that forgot they even had to questions themselves, they forgot that they really had to mean it and dig deep and we all have to remind ourselves that that’s what we have to do in order to justify this existence because it’s a little crazy, it’s a little irrational and we rely on the good graces and the belief of other people and we can’t ever lose site of that and take that for granted.

(At this point in the interview Mountain Man has begun to play their set which has filled the ICC church with some of the most chaotic hardcore you will ever here. You can check them out at . Also, the pastor of the church, Rev. Lorraine Anderson has walked in on our interview and has started talking to us about how important it is that the church has shows that everyone can go to. She urged us to tell people to email her in support of the all ages shows at the ICC church as she apparently has to constantly fight against the surrounding neighborhood to keep these shows going. You can email her at

Danielle: I found a quote from you that I found particularly inspiring and I would like you to elaborate on it if you can. It was on the FAQ section on your website and it said “I do believe that punk needs to retain its intelligence and creativity and it can only do this by not confusing social revolution with what passes for politics.” Was that you who wrote that?

Thomas: Yeah, I guess I think that like there is something way deeper than not just the duality of the American electoral fear of democrats and republicans but I also think that just getting caught up in what the state allows, there won’t be much room for real change. It always comes from the ground, it always comes from people, it always comes without an apparatus of law. That’s something you can just see historically and of course Dr. Howard Zinn was the one that made that most clear so I think I will dedicate this answer to him.

Danielle: Thank you for saying that, because I think that that is a really important message to get out to people, especially kids and younger kids who are coming to these kinds of shows that are all ages.

Thomas: The thing is also though, it’s the way that we get Boston to having to join one of these teams and people seem to mimic their parents culture politically for a while and then they rebel against that and join a university or whatever or don’t and there is just a sense that we’re all getting played by that like there’s a much deeper change to engage with each other and to liberate and to understand like that all of us are kind of in these psychic chains and we need to break them. And then we need also for the people who are in the physical chains of poverty and disease and wage slavery and allowing for the rest of us to live in this relatively privileged sphere. It’s really important not to just think about rocking against bush or rocking for the democratic party, it just dumbs it down and it ends up betraying some of the deeper values that this punk rock thing is capable of manifesting.

Tom: Those were some great answers and we really appreciate the interview. Thank you very much.

Thomas: Thank you!

Strike Anywhere is in the middle of supporting their latest album “Iron Front” which was released off of Bridge Nine Records last Fall. The band has plans to be playing the Palladium in Worcester in June. You can listen to their songs and find out about tour information at .