Thursday, December 30, 2010

Some Shameless Promotion

I love music. I love games. I made a rap song over a video game beat! In perhaps one of the last great Sonic the Hedgehog games made, Sonic Adventure 2, there was a tune called "Humming Baseline." I found it, I rapped it, I conquered it.

Oh yeah, remember Myspace? Click here for the song!

Now go pull out your Dreamcast or Gamecube and find that beat!

Found here-

Monday, December 27, 2010

Be on the Look Out for This Great band, A'tris Interview with Mason Taylor

It seems indie music is making its way from the underground hipster crowds and finding its way into the mainstream. The word indie, used to stand for independent, now it's just another style trend. Everywhere you look, these "indie" groups are popping up ranging from dark electronica to trippy inspired Beatles like tunes. The first indie groups that really took flight were, Weezer and Radiohead. Now you have groups like MGMT, and the upcoming Graffiti6 gaining momentum- not to mention all the indie inspired rap in the mid west.

Perhaps the coolest thing about these bands is their ability to be like "you." What is greatly missing from their music is the rock star glitz and glam. These bands are aiming for people just like them. The music is passionate, raw, and most importantly, different. It's bands like these that are now starting to shine and gain their proper due.

Interview with Mason Taylor of A'tris
(L to R) Nate Lueck (guitars and Bass), Ben Azar (Guitars), Mason Taylor (vocals and keys), Travis Abel (Drums)
Photo by: Elizabeth Budd
One of these such bands, is A'tris, who are generating a buzz on the indie circuit through college radio and the Internet. Don't look for any meaning behind the name, singer and front man Mason Taylor says, "We wanted it to be a word like Google. It could be a noun, a verb, or an adjective; but, regardless of its function, we aim for it to be synonymous with great experiences." He describes their sound as similar to Radiohead and REM, but distinctly their own thing.

Mason, a former student and music major at Berklee College, started the band in 2003 upon meeting Mike Kreher in his music writing class. Kreher became Mason's writing partner and musical mentor, as well as band manager and ideas guy. The only thing Mike doesn't do, is travel with the band and perform. "He's in the band and just as important as anyone else, except he's behind the scenes," said Mason. Taylor handles all the vocal duties, co-writes the songs, leads the social media charge, and plays piano. The other members of the band have rotated frequently, but one of the mainstays has been the guitarist, Nate Lueck who has been with the band for about three years and just finished a national tour opening for Meatloaf.

A'tris has been touring about once a year, and averages about a CD a year. There debut CD, Appeal, was released in 2005. Their second release was in 2007, an EP entitled, Commons. The most recent full length, Lensing, came out in 08 and featured their biggest single to date "Automatic Doors." The video was featured on MTV a few times, and gained a lot of plays on the college radio circuit. Purchase Lensing and Appeal here.

They have done all they can to get noticed, but Mason says, "The future is in placement. The newer A'tris music is more commercially viable." If a band can crack the walls of radio, TV, or movies, it opens a big door of opportunity. In addition to this, Mason is constantly using social networking to reach out to people. "Social media is tough because everyone can use it, but I use these sites to make friends. My ultimate goal is to one day pay the bills with music, so I have to do whatever it takes." Taylor says A'tris has never been on a label, but instead uses "structured partnerships." In this way, they aren't tied down to anything by contract, but still have some security in what they are doing.

Recently, Mason moved from the Boston area the band was originally located in, to New York. He feels the opportunities in the city are bigger. As of right now the band isn't playing shows. They are working on a college campaign tour, and are only playing shows of significance. They are biding their time for when a tour is a feasible. They are trying to build a local support in NYC, to have a strong backing before they hit the road.

And speaking of the road, Mason has plenty of great stories, just ask him. The tours are set up by Mike, and their first time out they hit 25 states. Taylor aims for about five or six shows a week, and sometimes doubles up on days. To save money they usually sleep in the van, but on occasion a stranger lets them in for the night. "Touring has a way of humbling you. I always feel like, when I come back from the road, I am a better person. At the very least, I'm a more worn-out version of myself," he says.

(L to R) Ben Azar, Mason Taylor, Nate Lueck, Travis Abel
Photo by: Elizabeth Budd
Sometimes things on tour don't always work out, and other times they are a success. Regardless Mason takes it in stride and believes in some way there is a bigger purpose for everything. He looks at all the positives the band has accomplished like: "Automatic Doors" being on MTV, or being in the top half of popular Reverbnation artists. They have even been the top band on, and were in the top 100 for radio bands.

Some of the more memorable things about being in A'tris have been, "When I see someone in the crowd connect with the music from the stage. It makes it all worth while." One particular moment that was almost a failure but wound up being really cool was, "At a show, all the sound went off and would not turn back on. We made the set acoustic and I loved it. The only real failures I've experienced have been in my personal life," Mason said jokingly.

Mason's hope is that in five years A'tris will be able to tour abroad and go to other countries. "I'm looking forward to sharing our music with new audiences and look forward to seeing where it takes me," he said. As for the immediate future, he plans on having A'tris do something really big but Internet based.
"So tune in, we have some really cool stuff in the pipeline."

LINKS (This will link to a number of social networks the band is on.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Former Death Metal Rockstars are Trying Something New- Incognito Theory

The music industry is a funny place, but sometimes no one is laughing. Nothing about music is stable, and just because you love a sound- doesn't mean every one else will. It is these people who realize that sometimes change is good, and essential to prolong the life of their dreams. This is what happened to New Jersey rockers, Dave Incognito and Jay Prussack, founders of Metal band, Incognito Theory.

The two best friends have played together throughout countless bands over the years. Prior to Incognito Theory, they had mostly played death metal. There last band was called, Dying Eyes of Sloth, but it became evident that they needed to throw their death metal roots behind them. "When you play for the death metal scene, you play for a certain group of people. We want to broaden our horizons, be universal, and be more well known," said frontman Dave. Guitarist, Jay sees this transition as something different, "I'm still into the heavy stuff. This is something different, like a challenge."

Dave Incognito

So what exactly is this new sound like? Upon listening, it is easy to hear hints of Disturbed and Godsmack intertwined. "It's a melting pot of a lot of stuff...powerful metal overtones with melodic vocals," Jay said. It's all the grunge nu metal goodness you like with influences of their roots. "We are trying to reinvent the wheel...[we have] great showmanship, talent, and honesty," Dave said excitedly.

As previously stated, the music industry is a tricky place. Perhaps Jay says it the best when referring to the new goals of the band, "You just have to stand out from the crowd. Grab bits and pieces of stuff, and be unique enough." Another theme for the band is originality. This is what Incognito Theory is looking to bring to the table- a little bit of the old, and a little bit of the new.

But before they could set up any goals, Incognito Theory originally started as a solo project by Dave. He put out one album called, Forsaken. Flash forward about a year or so, and now Incognito Theory consists of Dave and Jay, and most recently; bassist, Erik Reynolds and drummer, Rob Goellner. Upon joining the band, Dave and Jay immediately penned their first single, "This Present."

For these two the collaboration wasn't too difficult because of their passion and love for music, and the like-minded-ness they have in taste. Dave's influences include an all-star lineup of vocalists like: Dave Williams, Scott Weiland, Gene Simmons, Bret Michaels, and Dani Filth for his metal vocals. Jay is really into old school thrash and power metal like: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Metallica, and Cannibal Corspe.

Some of their biggest moments as musicians have occured together. They played a 40 Below Summer, reunion show with God forbid and Ashes for your Enemy. It was a huge show because these bands where big locally. "We knew a lot of people at that show," Dave said. As far as capacity wise and venue wise, the biggest show they have played was at Starland to a crowd of about 1000. They had about 140 people there, and only had two weeks to sell tickets. Jay says one of his biggest rock star moments was "...going into a solo I dropped the pic. I played the rest of the song with my fingers, and nobody even noticed...that's rock and roll," he said laughing.

Jay Prussack

The writing process for Incognito Theory varies with the moment. "Sometimes I write the lyrics and show Jay, and he just figures it out," Dave said. "It's a progressive thing. Dave pieces lyrics to what I've written, or I construct around what he has written," said Jay.

For the immediate future, they plan on taking a break in December and then finishing up the EP this winter. Jay does all the recording himself, and says "There is still a lot to do." The EP is scheduled to be released in early 2011 and it will be called, Silent Pain.

"We plan on taking this to the next level. It's all about the music, this is Dave, Jay, Rob, and Erik- complete," said Dave. "I play music for the love and everything that goes into it. The band has promise, so lets achieve something," said Jay. "Let's build a following and not stand still."
Showcaseyourmusic review

(L to R) Rob, Jay, Dave, Erik

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Journalism Final Project, Music Report on the Island

Final Interview by jsarachik

My initial focus of this project has changed a bit since its inception, but the overall focus is still intact. Originally the blog postings where going to be about the closing of Staten Island's the Cup. The one problem is that after closing on August 31st, it already reopened two weeks ago. Now for any new viewers reading this, the Cup was essential because it was the only place for young local bands to play on S.I. It's importance to the band scenes is tremendous, providing all the up and comers with their first chance to expose themselves to an audience and play live. Read about the final show at the Cup here.

My band mentors, EveryNight Drive

POF playing at the last show at the Cup by Scott Vollweiler of Broken Records
My new focus instead has changed to a series of questions: 1. How important was having a place like the Cup to play at? 2. What are you doing to further pursue music, and possibly get off of Staten Island. 3. Where do you see yourself in 3 to 5 years?

It was these questions that I have found garner the most interesting of answers. I gathered a few quotes from different personalities in the scene and this is what they had to say:

(On the importance of the Cup)
"I think it's quite healthy for the scene to have something like that [Cup] because when a local band wants to book a show and have a band come from out of state to play with them it's much easier because you don't have to pay to book a show. More venues should be like that because it comes with having a good reputation."

(Local bands looking outside of the Island)
"It doesn't have to just be the Island. Any local band needs to do research. That's the most important aspect of networking. Social Media is a huge contribution, but the best advice I can give is research bands on Myspace. It can really give you a scoop on other cities and their scenes."

-- Promoter/PR for EMC Records, Gerard Ucelli

(On the importance of the Cup)
"The Cup is an essential part of our little bubble of bands. It's where most of us got our start. For lesser known, straight out of the basement bands, the cup is invaluable. It's a great place to grow and get experience and meet other bands and even get a small following of kids that go to shows... However, there comes a point where the Cup runs out of things to offer a band. When that happens, bands tend to use the Cup as a crutch. I know I find myself playing shows with the same 5 bands to the same 20 kids. That's when it is time to seek other opportunities."

(On promoting yourself as a band)
"One word- CONTESTS. Contests are a great way to get off the Island. Since not many contests are offered on the Island, it forces you to play other places like Manhattan, Jersey, and Brooklyn. It's a great way to meet new bands and it's a great tool for perspective. You might be a hometown hero, but you get to a tri-state contest and all of a sudden, there's 30 bands that do better than you... Listen to the judges and the other bands when they give you feedback and criticisms... try out what they suggest. You never know, they might be right. If you would like to make a living playing music, be open minded."

-- Bass player for Spread the Rumor, Val Bond

I couldn't agree more with those statements. That's what my band, Process of Fusion and our friends in It's Not Over are doing. We are branching out to bigger venues, meeting bigger bands, and just trying to push the envelope whatever way we can. The audio clip at the beginning of the article is my band sounding off on similar questions. It appears everyone has the same ideas, it's the action part that most people aren't reacting on.

There are plenty of opportunities for bands to attempt to step in the right direction on the local level without using the reopened Cup as a crutch. Process of Fusion is trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. We have created our own shows, making them an experience and being different than something typical. We have also done free shows in attempts to draw more people out.

Promo Video for our November 5th Free show.

Also more bands could get free press by going to the college radio station WSIA. The station is always looking for new bands and will gladly listen your demo. Other things you can do, are charity events or spread the word through social media events. Facebook is a great tool for this.

WSIA soundboard by Justin Sarachik

The music scene on this Island is diverse, but somehow everyone needs to learn to work together. Whether the band is punk, metal, ska, or pop- everyone is the same place. Network and build a resume of sources and experience. In the countless bands I have interviewed, the more famous ones have attributed to success by connecting with that one important person. The right people mean everything in this business.

Rap group Freestyle Fam at WSIA for the Emilio Sparks Hip-Hop show by Justin Sarachik
Local start up groups are also starting to become prevalent on the Island as well. There is EMC Records, which is a company looking for bands to manage and do press work with. They have signed our friends in It's Not Over. Another company started by entrepreneur Scott Volweiler is, Broken Records, who currently publish a magazine, have band management (POF), photography, travel recording, and pretty soon a web show. I have been working with them very closely and this blog will be sponsored by them shortly.

Not to mention Backslash Bomb Productions who are working with Gerard Ucelli of EMC to produce a Staten Island music documentary called, the Others, highlighting some of the best acts on the Island.

In conclusion, the lesson I've learned the most during this whole project, is really just work hard. A little bit of hard work will make the difference in the long run. Don't be afraid to try something new and step out of the comfort zone. Like in the book Journalism 2.0 talks about, the world is changing and we have to adapt to the times. So move forward and complete the objective no matter who or what you do, whether journalist or musician. The industries are similar and the competition is just as hard, it's the few who step out the box that make it.

Staten Island Hip-Hop group the Higher Concept doing some pretty awesome things with their music video "Life's Good"

Jaime Scott of band Graffiti 6 by Justin Sarachik

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Blog by Terri Caputo, Interview with Apocalyptica

*This article will be featured in next month's edition of Broken Records Magazine.

Apocalyptica: Taking Over the Globe, One Cello At a Time

Countless mainstream metal bands such as All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, Bullet For My Valentine, and August Burns Red usually consist of fast paced drummers, a bassist, two guitarists, a singer or screamer, and the occasional keyboard or synth player. As far as conventional bands go, Apocalyptica is far from the norm.

Cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Max Lilja, and Antero Manninen formed Apocalyptica in Helsinki, Finland in 1993 with the original intent to be a Metallica tribute band. After their first public appearance in 1994, the media convinced the band to do an album with the cover songs they played live, and they succeeded; over one million copies of
Plays Metallica by Four Cellos were sold.

Since then, Apocalyptica has written original songs and LPs and has featured many guest musicians on them. They’ve worked with Ville Valo of HIM, Lauri Ylönen of The Rasmus, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, and Dave Lombardo of Slayer. Whether these appearances were what drove the band to fame, no one knows. “[We had] no idea,” current drummer Mikko Sirén said about the ever-growing popularity of Apocalyptica across the globe. “We didn’t plan it.” Most of the musicians that the Finnish guys have worked with came up to them at festivals or contacted them personally, saying they liked the band and wanted to collaborate.

On their latest effort, 7th Symphony, Gavin Rossdale of Bush, Joseph Duplantier of Gojira, Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf and Brent Smith of Shinedown were all featured. When asked about the newest album, Sirén spoke about how the writing of this album was different than their past albums. Before Symphony’s release, the band was on a two and a half yearlong tour and was not very prepared; most of the tracks were arranged during recording. When talking about the album artwork, Sirén said he wanted it to be “dark, dangerous, but [also] beautiful, fragile and romantic.”

Recently the band has canceled all shows in the United States, because one of the members was really sick. All shows will be postponed, including a show at Starland Ballroom on March 17th, 2011 with opening act, Process of Fusion. Mikko hopes to see more of a response to Apocalyptica’s music in the states, because “[most people have] no idea what the band is about. [Hopefully they will think] we’re something good to see.”

- Blog by Terri Caputo, check out hers here

Staten Island Band Photographer, Alexa DiMaio (Girls That Rock Quickie)

Hey all, here is a quick Q&A with a very talented and awesome friend I have, Alexa. She has done countless shoots at shows and for bands all over the Island. Also if you look at my blog, almost all the photos are by her (so I guess she works here too...) 

Check out the shoot she did for my band!

So here you go, check it out, and give her a hollar!

Q&A with Alexa DiMaio
Alexa by Alexa

Who are you, what do you do, why do you do it?
My name is Alexa DiMaio and I'm a freelance photographer. I do what I do because I simply love seeing moments with individuals and/or nature captured in one beautiful still shot. It makes me very excited and corny as that sounds.

What gear do you use?

I use a Nikon D40, along with a Nikon (Nikkor) VR Zoom 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G lens.

What are the perks of taking pictures of local bands?

The perks of taking pictures of local bands would have to be discovering new music and being able to fulfill their needs as upcoming indie bands.

Who is your favorite local band?

To be completely honest, I don't have a favorite local band. I enjoy all of them so much and I think any musician who has a strong passion for what they do is just amazing. Props to you all!

What was your favorite photo shoot?

I enjoy every photoshoot I do, but my favorite photos that I've taken would have to be the most recent Process of Fusion photoshoot on the CSI campus.

Worst or funniest experience shooting a band.

Oh gosh...the worst AND funniest experience shooting a band would have to be the photoshoot for Kick. I knew a rooftop wasn't a good idea. I remember climbing up the ladder to go up and shaking since I'm slightly afraid of heights. But I thought to myself, "I have to do the photos, this is the only way to take the photos...I can't back out." I ended up getting some decent shots before we all got in trouble, but it's something I probably wouldn't do ever again.

Alexa by Alexa

What else do you do photography for?
I take photos not only for bands, but for individuals who need headshots, any type of event, or anything else that anyone needs.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years? I hopefully see myself having my own studio and company in photography. *crosses fingers*

Why do you think a good band shoot is important?

I think a good band shoot is important because if the band is not patient or cooperative, that will reflect on the actual photos I take of them....and the photos won't look as good as they should.

How can someone reach you if they are interested?

If someone is interested, they could contact me via email at or

Where can we see your work online?

You can see my work online

Anything else you want to add?

If any of the bands I shot get famous, I hope you all don't forget about me! *laughing*

Alexa and Me by Alexa's Camera...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

BR & Time Bomb

By Muhaimin Nor and Stacy Beatty Jr.
BR & Timebomb are making headway as NYC's freshest and most unique hip-hop group. Using live instruments, gritty life-inspired raps, and the fundamental elements of hip-hop, BR & Timebomb pay homage to music pioneers the Roots all while maintaining their own acquired sound.

Where do you draw your unique style from?
We draw our style from our influences. All six of us grew up listening to different types of music, both what our parents played and what we got into on our own. This ranged from jazz, rock, classical, funk, R&B, salsa, and hip-hop of course.

What's the best part about doing hip-hop live with a band? What's the crowds usual reaction?
The best part is probably the energy we draw from each other and from the crowd. We usually get a reaction that changes from not knowing what to expect in the beginning, to jumping around and dancing with us after one or two songs.

Was Timebomb a band before BR assembled it? How did you guys all get together?
BR put the band together, but some of us had played together before in other groups. Stacy, Shanelle, and Jibrail have been playing together in different bands since high school. BR and Jibrail were in another hip-hop band, The Higher Circle, for a few years. When BR decided he wanted to start his own thing, it only made sense for him to bring in his brother (Jibrail) and Stacy and Shanelle. BR knew Olivia through mutual friends and ran into her on the train around the time everything started. Karnage joined the band in 2008 after our last guitarist left, and we had been playing without one for awhile.

How does the writing process work? Raps then music? Music then raps? Does either party have a say in what the other is doing?
The writing process can differ from song to song. Sometimes BR comes in with verses, a couple choruses, partial melodies and beats. Sometimes Shanelle comes in with everything but the rhymes. Sometimes another member of the band or two will come in with a couple musical parts, and we fill in the rest together. BR writes all of the rhymes, but the rest of the band makes suggestions on subject matter. Everyone has a say in the music.

Describe a typical performance?
It's hard to describe a typical performance for us, because every venue and situation is different. But the energy between the crowd and us is most important. We like to get as close to them as possible, which often means jumping off the stage and performing in the audience. Karnage gets the crowd to sing along and keeps up the momentum in between songs. We often improvise new parts of the set, even whole new songs, especially if we have a lot of time to play with.

Why should people listen to BR and Timebomb? What makes you different than someone like the Roots?
First off, all respect due to the Roots. They were the first group to get worldwide recognition doing hip-hop this way. People should listen to us for our particular spin on live hip-hop. No one else is doing it with a trumpet player who also sings soulfully, and a violinist, and a tight rhythm section and a lyricist versatile enough to say something relevant and get a party started.

How important is preserving the authenticity of hip-hop?
Preserving the authenticity of music, period, is important. People have really lowered their standards in the last ten years or so, and allowed people who can't sing, or write anything original, or play an instrument, or dance on the beat to tell them what they should buy and listen to. We all grew up with hip-hop and lived through its different eras. We're not trying to take it backwards, but want to move it forwards while retaining quality.

What inspires you guys to keep pressing on and making music?
The legends who still create, inspire us. New people who come along doing something positive and innovative inspire us. Our God and our families and friends inspire us. We push each other to keep doing this.

Biggest rock star moment? Worst failure moment?
Our biggest rock star moments are usually playing outdoors for hundreds of people rain or shine, and watching them take cover in the rain to keep watching us until the sun comes back out. This has happened in Union Square Park, Washington Square Park, and other outdoor sites all over NYC. It’s also gratifying anytime the audience sings along the lyrics to a song or demands an encore. Our worst failures usually result from miscommunication with the venue or the promoter. You show up somewhere and the timing and the backline are all messed up, and you may end up playing late with bad sound for 5 or 6 of your friends.

Biggest show venue wise, biggest show capacity wise?
Our biggest venues have probably been the Bell House, Studio 54, Webster Hall and the Apollo Theatre. Our biggest capacity was probably the Atlantic Antic this past September where we played for 600 people, approximately.

Where is the band in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, we'll have put out a few more records and toured both nationwide and internationally, with more intense distribution of our products.

Briefly talk about and describe your first album. Where can you get it?
Our first album, "Believe in Something (Greater Than Yourself)," is the culmination of years of work. It came out right around the time BR's first son was born, and BR and Jibrail's mom passed away. It was our first opportunity to record songs we had been performing and perfecting for years, some with outside producers and some we had composed completely in-house. It took years to finish and we had to go through a couple of engineers and studios to finally get it the way we wanted. "Believe..." is available on itunes, CDBaby, Napster, Emusic, etc., as well as via paypal on our website,

Anything else you want people to know?
We just released a new EP, "Time Is Now," in September and it is available in the same places as our first project. We are doing a couple big shows for the start of the new year, and all the information for those is on our website as well.

Photo by Kimberly Nicholais