Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Girls that Rock Part 2, Spread the Rumor's Sabrina and WSIA's Jenna Lynn

(The following article will be in the next Broken Records Magazine Issue)

Sabrina Fracchiolla, 17, guitar/vocals for STR
Photo by Alexa DiMaio
Sabrina Fracchiolla of Staten Island band, Spread the Rumor, is already a veteran in her music scene at just 17 years old. Having been playing music since she was 11, Sabrina plays the guitar and belts out powerful perfectly pitched vocals for her all girl band.

She attributes Green Day as her first influence but has now branched out to other artists like Paramore and Katy Perry. Her biggest influence however, will always remain her mom who is a singer songwriter too.  

When asked about her main inspiration in music, she responded “There is only one thing in my life that makes me a confident person; that's the music that I create and show to the world. Playing music for people gives me a feeling I simply cannot explain in words, and it inspires me to be a better person…”

She describes her biggest rock star moment as: "First, playing in "The Break Contest" to get into Bamboozle. We played at The Stone Pony, [memorable] just because of how many amazing and influential people played the same stage as us that day. But I'd say my number one favorite rockstar moment would be November 8 2009. We were playing in a final round of a Battle of The Bands, in Sullivan Hall NYC. I was sick with pneumonia, and could hardly sing, but we pulled through and rocked out in front of so many people. We won the battle and won $1000!! It was one of the best feelings EVER."

Sabrina hopes to one day see STR gracing the stages of venues all over, and would love to make it her profession. “My ultimate goal as a musician is to be happy, and get better at my instrument, without stressing out so much. Music should be something to let your stresses run free, not cause stress.”

Sabrina’s advice to girls is, “If you don't play an instrument, just go for it… In some sense, it's fun to face your fear, and trust me. Once you get used to playing in front of people, it's the best feeling in the world. Never give up on music, because even if you feel it has given up on you, music is the medicine to cure anything.” 

(L to R)- Hilary, Valerie, Terri, Sabrina (top)- Katie
Photo by Georgine Beneventuo

Check out my previous post on the full band here

WSIA 88.9 Radio Personality, Jenna Lynn
Jenna Lynn

Jenna Lynn, a 21-year-old College of Staten Island student does a lot more than go to classes, she helps runs a radio station, 88.9 WSIA FM.

Just think of her as a jack-of-all trades doing everything from production director, program director, and on air DJ, as well as studio mixing and production.

Jenna is also one of the co-founders of Drive Time radio, which are special blocks of music, weather, and traffic from the hours of 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm. Most importantly however, is the later Drive Time where WSIA plays unsigned and local talent. She takes great pride in being able to expose bands music to the world for the first time. “A few years back, even before me, an unknown band named Paramore came in the studio to record some demos. Now look at them.”

That's one of the cool features about WSIA that she is most proud of. They are not a top 40 station, they play music you can't hear anywhere else. 

Being a part of the station definitely has its perks, this summer she described being able to interview bands on the “Scream it Like You Mean it Tour” as one of her favorite moments. Her favorite times though, are when she has a band in the station for an interview, “You never really know what’s going to happen,” she says. She also attributes a trip to Florida as a memorable one, after spending a week talking to record execs and new artists.

Jenna says her favorite local bands are: It's Not Over, Step Aside, Process of Fusion, and Legend of the Fall. She credits these bands as having the "it" factor, and expects great things in their future.

"Music is so diverse, growing up I listened to everything. I started by getting big into house music. From there I became interested in production in general, which turned me to rock," she said. "Music has saved me from a desk job. It's getting paid for something I love rather than getting paid in order to get something I love."

Overall Jenna Lynn has greatly enjoyed her time at WSIA, but she is on to bigger and better things. Jenna was recently scouted out by the Art Institute of Philadelphia where she can graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Audio Production. “My ultimate goal is to be tour manager for a successful band, traveling and living out my dream.”

Jenna Lynn

The Girls of Process of Fusion

(The following article will be in Broken Records Magazine in a special feature entitled "Girls that Rock".)

L to R- Rose and Terri
Photo Cred: Alexa DiMaio

Terri Caputo and Rose Couchon are making headway not because they are in up and coming band rock/rap Process of Fusion, but because they are two girls who simply rock!

Couchon is the crafty lefty guitar player in the band whose influences range from classical Bach to Between the Buried and Me. At just 18 years old, she is also an aspiring mezzo-soprano opera singer and has recently been performing in churches across Staten Island.

Rose attributes her time in POF as, “…a genre of music that I would have never seen myself playing... I love that I'm challenged to make music that blends so many elements together, and above all I love that I'm forced to be creative.”

When asked what it’s like to be a girl in a band she said, “It's pretty awesome, but it's got its negatives. I feel like girls are judged much quicker than guys are, especially if they're playing anything other than pop music. There is a little bit of pressure, but I set high standards for myself because I don't want to be another girl who just strums open chords… I want to inspire people, especially other females.”

Caputo is a multi talented musician, playing guitar, bass, and drums, but in POF her claim to fame is the tempo.

Having been in bands ranging from metal to indie pop, Terri’s experience is as vast as her influences, which include the punky sounds of Relient K to soaring guitars and aggressive vocals of Thrice.

Terri names POF as “The best thing that ever happened to me,” and her favorite moment occurred when Process of Fusion won their first Battle of the Bands.

“Life experiences, my friends and family, and emotion, lots of emotions,” are what inspires her to make music. And speaking of inspiration, she wants to spread this to other girls saying

“There's no pressure, but most people expect you to suck if you're a girl. I love proving them wrong. It gives me satisfaction.”

So the message here, prove the boys wrong and be a girl that rocks! You can hear Rose and Terri in action by going to Myspace.com/processoffusion

(This is the original Q&A the article was based on)

Terri Caputo, 19, drummer of Process of Fusion.
Photo Cred: Alexa DiMaio

What instruments do you play, and how long?
I play guitar, bass, and drums. Drums for about three and a half years.

When did you start playing/making music?
I started making my own music when I was thirteen, but nothing too serious. I've been making songs ever since.

How many bands have you been in? What kind were they?
I've been in seven bands all together, including POF. I've been in two metal bands, two pop-punk bands, an experimental band and am currently in a indie band.

What's your musical style?
I have a weird style, it depends on what instrument I'm playing. With drums I'm a bit funky at times, but mostly I'm rock/hardcore influenced.

Describe your experiences in POF in a sentence?
The best thing that has ever happened to me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself on a tour bus with four of my band-mates and our street team. I think we have the ability to get there.

What do you enjoy most about drumming? Drumming in POF?
I enjoy putting the final layer onto the music, bringing it to life. What can sound one way with guitars can sound so much more powerful with the right drumming. I love drumming in POF, it challenges me in so many ways and I love the music we play.

Biggest rockstar moment? Biggest failure moment?
My biggest rockstar moment was when we won a Battle of the Bands at Edgewater Hall. A giant crowd of our fans and friends were there and screamed so loudly for us after each song. It was an incredible feeling to have that much support. I've never really had a huge failure moment, but I've had moments where I've said "I could've played so much better at this show" or "I screwed that part up so much." I'm sure I'll have some in the future!

Photo Cred: Alexa DiMaio

Top 5 fav bands.
Relient K, Underoath, The Rescues, Thrice, and Rise Against.

What/who inspires you to make music?
Life experiences, my friends and family, and emotions. Lots of emotions.

What's it liking being a girl who rocks? Any pressure, expectations, is it better?
There's no pressure, but most people expect you to suck if you're a girl. I love proving them wrong, it gives me satisfaction.

Anything else you want to add?
Check Process of Fusion out on Facebook, Myspace, and follow us on Twitter. And come join us at Starland Ballroom in March when we play with Apocalyptica.

Q&A With Rose Couchon, 18, guitarist
Photo Cred: Alexa DiMaio

What instruments do you play, and how long?
I play guitar and sing. I've been playing guitar for about 5 years and I have been singing classically for about 4.

When did you start playing/making music?
I started playing guitar when I was about 13, but I didn't start writing anything on my own until I was about 16. I would just write bits and pieces here & there for fun.
What musical things do you do on the side?
Guitar is my passion, but on the side I am a mezzo-soprano opera singer. I have years of choral experience and am now professionally performing at churches throughout Staten Island. I play keyboard/piano and am studying music at Brooklyn College's Conservatory of Music.

What's your musical style?
My musical style kind of doesn't exist...If it does then it's a mix of literally everything. I love everything from Bach to Between the Buried and Me. I like to try to incorporate a little bit of everything in what I write. When I'm writing for guitar my style usually stays on the heavier side, but when I'm writing on the keyboard I tend to go for dissonance.

Describe your experiences in POF in a sentence?
Serious shows, fun band practices, and better friends than anyone could ask for; everything I ever hoped for in a band.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have absolutely no idea were I'll be in 5 years. That's A LOT of time. I could see myself being married and teaching music at a high school level while working towards my masters or I could see myself doing even greater things like performing on stage at the Met or touring world wide with Process of Fusion. I still have a lot of doors to open, but hey, things happen.
What do you enjoy most about playing guitar? Guitaring in POF?
I like that it's a genre of music that I would have never seen myself playing before I joined the band. I love that I'm challenged to make music that blends so many elements together, and above all I love that I'm forced to be creative.

Biggest rockstar moment? Biggest failure moment?
Biggest rock star moment: Stage diving/crowd surfing at the last show at The Cup. It was glorious. My biggest failure moment was during another show that we played at the cup prior to that one. We covered a Linkin Park song and lets just say it didn't go very well.

Photo Cred: Alexa DiMaio

Top 5 fav bands.
No specific order:
Between the Buried and Me
Steve Vai
Iron Maiden
Led Zeppelin
Coheed and Cambria

What/who inspires you to make music?
Happiness, sadness, love, hate, birds, trees, hope, the subway station, ferry rides, life. Anything & everything.

What's it liking being a girl who rocks? Any pressure, expectations, is it better?
It's pretty awesome, but it's got its negatives. I feel like girls are judged much quicker than guys are, especially if they're playing anything other than pop music. There is a little bit of pressure, but I set high standards for myself because I don't want to be another girl who just strums open chords and sings pop songs. I want to inspire people, especially other females.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jon Santos, Studio 1176 Owner and Former Singer of Seven Wiser

Singer, songwriter, producer, photographer, entrepreneur- no matter what hat Jon Santos puts on, he strives for excellence.

Starting out as humble musician looking to take his band to the next level, Santos was able to make his dream come true when his band Seven Wiser got noticed by Wind Up Records . Yes, the same Wind Up records housing bands like: Creed, Evanescence, Seether, and Hawthorne Heights.

It was here that Santos was finally able to watch his band come to fruition touring with acts like Avril Lavigne and Shinedown. They also found success in song placement in video games and movies, especially with single "Take Me As I Am".

However, in the ever changing music industry, success doesn't always last. After getting dropped from Wind Up, they went independent. Disbanding shortly after, Santos tried his hand with another band, Fallzone, releasing an album entitled, Stronger. Not being able to capitalize on the previous success of Seven Wiser, Santos left the band aspect of music and set his sights on something new.

Acquiring studio knowledge from the countless hours he spent recording in bands, Santos embarked on his next journey in the music industry. Opening 1176 Studios , Santos offers everything to get a band off the ground. The studio features affordable deals for: recording, mixing, mastering, photography, and music videos. With an extensive client list and new opportunities in film and web shows, 1176 Studios is sure to capture some of the magic Santos experienced in the mid 2000's playing music.

First describe to me the success of your band Seven Wiser- with the Video game and movie features. How did it come about? What was it like?
Seven Wiser is starting to feel like a life time ago. I had hit #37 on the R&R charts with that band. I still here Seven Wiser on Pandora, and [sometimes] when I'm around an arcade and come across Nascar games. My label at the time, Wind Up Records, they put out a lot of movie sound tracks and the first one they put us up for was "The Punisher" album. Then came MVP Baseball and Nascar. Let me tell you a funny thing, about one of the songs on the MVP Baseball 2004 game, "Take me as I am". I was so pissed because somehow the wrong version got sent out from our label and I did not okay for it. The guitar solo is backwards (laughs). The A&R guy there and the mixer I guess, where messing around a bit and tried that but it was dumb and somehow ended up on it! Also, the Wes Craven movie "Cursed", came along just after we got dropped from the label. I'll tell you, it was great to have people come up to me saying, "Wow I heard you on this video game I was playing at home and became a fan." As we see from games like "Rock Band" today the video game world is huge in breaking bands or revisiting bands that today's kids may not have had the chance to ever hear if not for these video games today.

You've opened for some famous people, describe those experiences and how big did your fan base get?
Yes, we did some great shows with Avril Lavigne, Shinedown, Saliva, and Bowling For Soup.
Shows like that are just the best. Night after night playing in front of 1,000-15,000 people is just a dream come true for any artist. But the problem is, that the band never had a full chance to grow. We would pack out some great small clubs on our own, but by the end of the summer when our album hit stores, the label dropped us. We just had a lot of problems on the road, including having all gear and truck stolen at a hotel leaving us empty handed, and they didn't like our management. The label had some of there other bands hitting big right at that time and just dropped us and put a lot of the other bands on the back burner. I would say most of the bands I was on the label with at that time are gone as well.

While being signed to Wind Up records, what kind of opportunities arose for you?
Bigger shows, TV, radio interviews, and the chance to work on my own album. Unlike most bands out there, I co-produced and mixed 90% of my own album. That was one of the things that sparked my interest in working with other bands. I have been in and out of studios for years, interning and recording- I learned so much that it was great for this label to let me do my thing.

Why did you disband and did your next band Fallzone have any similar success?
Well, after Wind Up dropped us, we did try to get interest from other labels but at that time all hell had hit the fan in the music biz. Not many artists where getting good deals, money was getting lower, then bang, labels? What the hell is that? No more record stores, everything is 100% online and bands are distributing their music world wide on their own. With out a big push in promotion Fallzone never took off. At that point we where all at a new place in life, family life, bills and debt. I just hit that "getting older" wall. I just wasn't 18 years old any more with the strength and power to start over.

What is your involvement with Cineplex Studios and Life in the Pits?

I'm working with Cineplex Studios on a show called "Hollywood Girl", starring Courtney Zito. Courtney and I have been friends for years, and she asked me to write a theme song for Hollywood Girl. From that I started to provide other music for the show, sending in bands I work with and helping out with anything musical and film/edit when needed. I'll be out in L.A. Nov 7 for a week or so, helping out with one of the next Hollywood Girl episodes doing some filming and sound, what ever is needed. And With Life in the Pits, I cant wait to see how this show turns out. Executive producer Tony Fornataro called me up one night, and said he has been trying to track me down for some time and asked if I can write a short 40 second rock theme song for his up coming reality show "Life in the Pits". So over a weekend I sent him a final recording, mixed and mastered and it was up on their site ready to go.

What made you leave the band aspect of the music industry?
I had left my management just after we got dropped and they own the band name, so I lost everything that the name Seven Wiser had built over the years. I tried to get the word out that the band had changed its name and some new members are in the band. But we just hit every wall you can think of. I went broke, the clubs changed, nothing was the same as it was the first time around. The whole industry had just changed. Fallzone just never took off and never could get any interest. I spent my last few bucks trying to promote and record and hit the end. I had to walk away, and again like I said earlier, I just wasn't 18 years old any more. When we pulled the plug on trying, I was 29. Now, I'm 31 and trying to build some kind of life that still has music in it. It's just a drug I cant kick (laughs).

How has 1176 Studios help fill the void as a performer?
This is the amazing part. When I needed to fill in the part of me that was missing, I had gathered so much recording gear over the years I said, "Why don't I try to find a place and start to produce and mix." Working with other bands has kept me 10 times more creative than before because I have to fit myself in to other band's worlds to create the best product. It's like being part of 20 bands rather then one. There is a piece of me in every production from my studio, and rather than being lucked in one sound or element- I have produced rock, christian, reggae rock, pop, and it has all been amazing and a chance to learn more than before. Every band has an idea of what they want to hear from there music and it keeps me on my toes "Hmm how can I do that?"

Where did the name, 1176 Studios come from?
I was just looking around for a name, a word, whatever but everything I found was taken. 1176 is just the model of a classic studio compressor used on just about every album ever put out. So I was like what ever I'll just use numbers. I may change it over time if I find a word I love or something. I Have a few ideas but for now, 1176 Studios is building.

Was it your initial plan in addition to the production to have the photography, graphics, and video?
Yes, I wanted a one stop place for an artist. I'm a photographer, graphic artist and videographer. I shoot bands, models, head shots, and music videos any chance I get. I offer big packages to my artists that come in than most other studios, this way they don't have to hunt around and pay a crazy price for a photographer in the city or blow money and time on a person that doesn't really know what they are doing. I can't tell you how many times people try other guys, and come right back to me and say, "Oh my God, this recording, these photos, this mix, our video, are total shit." Then they say, "We should have just used you for everything, I wish we knew about you studio and other services before hand."

I saw some of the video you put out for the studio. Do you usually interview acts that record with you?

I have been trying to do studio videos of them recording, and some interviews when they are interested as well. I do anything that I can offer for a band to take out there and hit all of today's online media with. I don't want to just offer a gun, I want them to walk away with the gun and loads of amo to start hitting all at the same time. Today it is much more them just the music, people want everything. Fans want anything and everything they can find. People love studio footage and want to sit and look at a band interview and so on. I want the bands to know they can get it all here in one shot.

This is a good answer and a good thing you're doing. Do you think Seven Wiser could have had more success or stuck around longer had everything been so media oriented like it is now? Also, has sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc helped out the studio?
I think Seven Wiser would have been a big hit with more effort and development. They didn't back us with a music video or anything like that, and it's something I tried to do with Fallzone. I filmed us doing some recording, went out to LA and did a music video with my friends over at www.television101.net and my friend Courtney Zito produced it. I tried to film us hanging out, getting lost driving around NJ, acoustic rehearsals, anything I could. I think if more of that kind of thing was done with Seven Wiser along with big promotion and more touring, it would have been a hit.

Has Facebook and them helped? Hmmm, I guess I would have to say yes in some way. Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are just a way of showing artists what I do. I find that word of mouth seems to be the thing. I use Facebook ads, Google ad word, Craigs List, and really nothing every comes in. It's mostly all from meeting people. When they hear the product I give them, they book. I even get bands that record in other studios in the city or on the Island and they bring me their tracks and I mix that. Sometimes after hearing it, they book their next sessions with me.

What is your ultimate goal for the studio?
I try to keep people thinking that this is not just a "recording studio" it's a "production studio". You can have almost anything you need done with my studio, making your life easy: recording, mixing, mastering, photography, video, editing, color grading, and film scoring. I have high hopes for this and hope to team up with great people along the way to build on this.

What is the biggest rock star moment of your career as a performer, and what has been the best moment as a producer?
Well a few moments come to mind. Some of the best are when I would be on stage and I would hear the crowd sing back the song I'm singing. Sometimes fans would take us out for food after the shows. I think the rock star moment would be walking in a mall and a few people would stop me and say, "I just saw your show last night, can I take a photo with you?" Or every time someone tells you that they drove for hours to come see you. It's just amazing.

As a producer, it's when people want to work with you because they really love what you do. When I can hook up some of the bands I have produced with a small placement on a web show like "Hollywood Girl" that can give them free promotion and yet another thing to add to there resume, nothing makes me feel better. It's all great moments and getting better.

1176 Studios

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Staten Island Rap Group, Team Alliance Releases New Album "It's About Time"

As you can see by my blog, Staten Island has a rather big and important hip-hop culture outside of the Wu. Now whether you believe that or not is up to you, but don't sleep on us because an overwhelming majority blast techno beats out of their Escalades- there is a lot you may not know. With so many gritty, superb underground lyricists it's a shame we get stuck with so much mainstream nonsense.

What if I told you that these next rappers I'm talking about are White Italian rappers? Would you believe me? What if I told that one of the rappers in the group was featured on Hot 97 every week. What if I said their new album features Royce Da 5'9, and it was as low as number 66 on the iTunes downloaded list? Well guess what, I'm not lying, so here's my review of their album It's About Time by Team Alliance followed by a Q&A.

Agent Lead and 1MT

New Album It's About Time

"Straight out from the underground comes Team Alliance, a hip-hop group whose in-your-face lyrics and unique blending of personal heritage and hip-hop culture are shaking up the earth with each new track. Equipped with an arsenal of powerful rhymes, Team Alliance delivers an incredible show of verbal finesse with true passion, generously providing to the rap community what many recent hip-hop teams have been lacking: versatility, intensity and unbelievable skill." - Section of the bio on Myspace

Album Review
After previously releasing a mixtape called Rare Cuts, it was time for Team Alliance to make a full length, and speaking of time, they knew it too. Releasing It's About Time September 8th, it promises to deliver from the time you hit play until the disk stops spinning. Agent Lead (the ruff voice) and 1MT (the swag voice), leave it all out in the open on their newest release. The tracks blend well together to paint a true story of real life and experiences. It really is a breath of fresh air to hear some inspired hip-hop that isn't bragging about girls, money, cars, etc. TA does a good job coming down to earth because they are just like you and I.

As far as repping their hometown, they do it well giving Staten Island a name drop here and there. But the pride for home goes a bit deeper, it's how they deliver the rhymes over the beats. The beats on the record have dark and dingy feel like something out of RZA's book, but yet have a more modern and distinctly mainstream feel that plays well on their voices.

TA also does a great job paying homage to classic early 90's hip-hop in the inflection of the lines and the raw angry flow approached on every verse. Every time they spit you believe them, and you feel the confidence exuding through each syllable. This is especially prevalent in songs like "Put Your Pens Down" and "The Oath" featuring Royce Da 5'9.

Overall this album is a valiant effort for Team Alliance. It's an album like this that brings you from S.I. hip-hop act to next in line rap group. The guys are on the right track and I wish them the best of luck, so be on the lookout for Team Alliance.

#66 on iTunes
What's the biggest show you ever played capacity wise and venue wise?
Agent Lead- We haven’t done that many shows. Our biggest show was probably at Club City in Manhattan 3 years ago, to about 300 people. I personally did a show at a recent skydiving event in California to the tune of about 500 people with a live band backing me.

What's your biggest rockstar moment as an artist?
Agent Lead & 1MT - Our biggest rockstar moment was being flown down to Interscope Records and being treated like a star in Hollywood for two weeks. They offered us a bum deal and we told them to beat it.

What did Interscope do for you in Hollywood, and what was their lame offer?

Interscope wanted to sign us to a deal that would lock us up for like eight years with eight options on those years to renew at their discretion, with no guarantee of any product ever being released. I come to find out years later (this was in 2001) from a close source deep inside the industry that Interscope allegedly went on a spree, signing all of the dopest white rappers and groups and locking them up in these shitty contracts for years so that Eminem would have no competition. Pretty shitty if you ask me. Only thing they did for us, aside from wining and dining, was open our naive eyes to the world of the record industry and its shady ways (no pun intended). From that moment on we pretty much gave up on signing a major label contract and focused on doing it ourselves. You may sell less records in the long run, but your fans are REALLY fans that care about your music and make a connection with you as an artist.

Where'd you guys get your emcee names from, and where'd you get "Team Alliance" from?
1MT- I always was a terra growing up, ask around. The one-man part is, I always felt like I never needed to ask another man for help with nothing. Do my dirt all by my lonely.

Agent Lead - I was Lead since like 89. I used to write graffiti and Lead was my name. Around 93 a bunch of friends formed a crew called the FBI, in which we were all agents. The name just stuck with me and traveled with me thru everything I’ve ever done. When I first discovered 1MT, I was doing my own thing as a solo artist and I had him record a few songs with me. I called it "Agent Leads Alliance" obviously that name wasn’t a fair representation of what we were doing so we changed it to “Team Alliance”.


Describe that chance meeting in the record shop, and how you started exchanging rhymes?
1MT- Lead was a customer that would always come in my store. He already had a buzz in the neighborhood, so I knew who he was when he introduced himself. He started playing new tracks he had just recorded in his studio, and I became a fan. I told him I wrote rhymes in my spare time, but I don’t take it serious. He asked to hear something, so I kicked a verse. He was like holy shit, lets go back to my crib and record that right now. We made a track, and it was a hood smash. Lead was the first person that made me believe that I really had a gift, and after that it was a rap.
What sparked your early love for hip-hop, and who are your biggest influences?
1MT- I was a big West Coast fan. I loved N.W.A and then became a big 2pac fan. So many people inspired me in all genres of music; from big haired rock bands to Sade to Luciano Pavarotto Enya back to Stevie B in freestyle. I love all music, crazy wide range.

Agent Lead - I used to be into heavy metal back in 89-90. My boy, Echo (House of Repz) came over my house one day with a cassette of Dwick from nice and smooth. The song was looped on the tape, I thought it was the freshest shit I ever heard and I instantly went to hip-hop from that moment on. Early influences were: Gangstarr, nice and smooth, then came Nas. After I first heard halftime in 92, from there on out it was all based on east coast mc's of the early 90's.

How'd you get noticed by Hot97, and describe your short run on some of their shows?
Agent Lead - Hot 97 used to have a show called the Furious 5 Mic Check show where you would call in and rap live on the radio over their beats. After calling in for four straight weeks with fire, they asked me to come up to the studio and do some live in studio sessions. I did a few of those and then the show went off the air. It was followed by a show called Home Jams where they would play your demos on the radio. The tracks I submitted opened the show just about every week.

What do you bring to the rap game that's different, and what's TA's unique style?
1MT- We bring feeling and emotion, mood music, real life story's, personal trials and tribulations, and we answer your questions thru our situations. If you’re not a fan of Hip-Hop, you will still be a fan of Team Alliance... I promise...

Agent Lead- I feel that the things we say and talk about are all without masks. We don’t wear any costumes so to say. Everything we speak of is stuff that happens in real life to real people everyday, and we are not afraid to talk about issues and situations that other rappers may feel would tarnish their hard rock image. We do not have a hard rock image, just a real relatable image.
Ever perform or record with anyone famous?
Agent Lead- Royce Da 5'9 from Slaughterhouse and Eminem’s early music is on the album. He’s one of our all time favorite mc's so getting to do a track with him was awesome.

How did you get involved with Royce?

Our manager at the time, Mike Sword (great guy), was in contact with Royce's manager handling some other business. Mike knew we were huge fans of Royce and asked Kino (Royce's manager) if Royce would be down to do a track with us. Kino played Royce some of our music and Royce came thru and did the track. Im not exactly sure if there was a monetary payment or if it was a favor for a favor kind of thing but whatever it was, Mike Sword got us our track with Royce. It's one of our favorite joints on the album. There are only a small handfull of other artists we would consider working with.

Blue Skies Magazine

Why should people listen to you guys?
1MT - Because everyone can relate to our words.
Agent Lead- I have to agree with 1MT. The shit we speak of is pretty much what happens in real life. If you can go thru the whole album and say "I can’t relate to a single thing they are speaking about" then you are most likely just hating on us, or don’t have the balls to admit that some of this shit happened to you too. Take that mask off son!

How do you promote your music and build a fanbase? You don't get 11 million plays just hanging out...

We have been working on this for a long time. We had both been active in online battle tourneys and our name as solo artists and as a group were well established on many giant internet hip-hop forums. Then out of nowhere the massive amount of hits started rolling in. They were really a mystery to us at the time. Myspace was booming and we were getting a steady 1000 hits per day on the site there. According to some fans we had a small mention on okayplayer.com and then all of a sudden we were getting up to 85,000 a day! We have never been able to confirm or deny this. All we know is people heard it and loved it and anything beyond that is pure speculation. Since Myspace has been basically abandoned we kinda feel like we missed the boat there to capitalize off of whatever buzz we had going. It kinda urks me personally. Wish we would have acted on the album sooner, it was basically 98% finished at that time. We sat on it for no apparent reason, losing all momentum we had built on the then dying Myspace. Now I sign on there and it's nothing but a million idiots spamming me about their newest song which 90% of the time sucks (yes I actually listen to a lot of them because I love finding GOOD new music. Sadly good music on Myspace is very few and far between.)
Where do you think the state of hip-hop is today?
1MT- Hip-hop is trying to make a comeback, but the radio just won’t let it. There is so much talent out there, but they insist on playing the same five artists twenty times a day because they are being paid to. This in turn brain washes the listeners to get these songs stuck in their heads until they become fans, because they don’t know any better. It is a disgrace!