Thursday, November 29, 2012

KidsWithSoul 'Puzzles of Ceres' Mixtape Review

By Gerard Ucelli

Hailing from Staten Island, NY, Leroy Goodwin better known as KidsWithSoul released his
debut R&B/Hip-Hop mixtape, Puzzles of Ceres in September 2012. If you were to create a recipe
of good music deriving from Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, and Maxwell as ingredients, the
outcome is this mixtape.

With that being said, my appreciation of this mixtape is on a very high scale. KidsWithSoul
really puts in an amazing mix of rapping and singing. Not to mention that as a piece of work, it’s
well structured, and makes his style quite distinctive. It’s one of the first mixtapes that I listened
to in a while where I can honestly say I played it from beginning to end.

Getting into the songs, “The Cry of a Goddess” was the perfect first track to captivate a
listener into discovering more about the artist. Not only is it very soothing, it also makes you
think about how the rest of his work is going to sound like. To me, a good album is when the
first song makes you want to keep listening throughout. First impressions can really come a long
way and “The Cry of a Goddess” certainly proves that.

If one was to ask me which song from this mixtape I would instantly put on the
radio, “Weeping Skies (All I Do)” would be it. The piano in that track really sets the tone.
Personally speaking, that piano really motivates me to really pay attention to the lyrics. Although
it’s a very melancholy track, it brings out the melodic talent of KidsWithSoul. At the same time,
I feel that song out of all of them is the most relatable for a wider audience.

Going into more of his rapping, his rendition of “Ready or Not” by The Fugees really
expresses his talent in that spectrum. Every time I listen to his rendition on it, I feel like I’m
listening to the original version of it. The vintage aspect of how he recorded it portrays how
prosperous his flow and delivery is. That track also depicts how intellectual and insightful his
wordplay is.

To check out this mixtape:

To follow him:

Paraiso Shares Their Thoughts on the Broken Records Festival

What was the experience of playing the BRM Music Festival like?
The Broken Records Festival was a chance to get all of the seasoned Staten Island acts together in one place. As far as Paraiso goes, we haven’t been around for very long, so we were very grateful to have been asked to play with bands that had many more shows behind them, as well as fans. With the exceptional turnout of that night, it was hard to not feel the energy of the crowd and performers..and sweat. It made Killmeyer’s, a familiar venue, feel like the first time we played there. All the acts played together with a superb unity and there was no sense of any bad vibes, which tends to happen very easily, being how split music scenes can get. The event was really just a celebration of music, and we feel we did our part well. It was definitely one of the best shows we’ve ever played together as a group.

What would you like to see the festival grow to?
The growth of the festival really has nothing to do with us, or any of the bands involved. It’s about the fans, so really, the people to ask would be them, and our only duty as a band is to recruit more of them! Of course we would love to see the festival grow to something gigantic, but maybe that’s not what we need right now. I think that eight dollars to sweat it out with a crowd full of musicians is more than any of us, or any fan, could ever want. And of course a couple of beers help too. We shouldn’t worry about the 10,000 crowd venues, keeping the event small is the only way of insuring it stays with the local bands, rather, we should increase the prestige of the event, and make the local scene an icon for great music. Have different bands try out every year, but make sure every band has an equal chance for a spot on the bill.

Where does the name Paraiso come from?
"Paraiso” of course means “paradise,” in Spanish. Paraiso, for us, is an actual place, that was then used as the band name, but the meaning has extended from that to something greater. It is often in a saddened state that we, as humans, dream about paradise. We all have certainly been there, but one person’s idea of paradise could mean something completely different from another person’s idea. We want to simply extend that feeling of joy which comes from thinking about paradise from us, to the listener, because to us, music is the only “self help” we’ve ever known.

How did the band form?
Ricky started playing guitar seriously during high school, and began a solo blues/reggae acoustic act. He played shows around the island and would occasionally borrow members from his high school friend Pete’s band, West of Dennis, for larger shows. Ricky soon realized that this was not the direction he wanted his music to go in, nor was it loud enough to upset the neighbors, so he began searching for a full-time band. Peter was still playing guitar and singing in West of Dennis, but knew that with college coming, and none of his bandmates around, he needed to find a new musical something to keep occupied. Unfortunately, Peter’s skills on the guitar were no match for Ricky’s self-taught guitar wankery, but he had always had a desire to play drums. And being that Ricky didn’t know the difference between a “paradiddle” and “a pair of diddles” he was in. Now as much as Rick and Pete liked the Black Keys, they knew that they were going to need a bassist. Luckily for them, a local show booker told them that he knew a bassist that needed a band. This bassist was none other than Mike, who turned out to live but a block away from where Pete grew up. And I, the all knowing narrator, have always been under your bed at night, where you can’t see me.

What message would Paraiso like to convey if any?
We really have no agendas as a band other than trying to spread our music to as many people as we can, no matter what hardships we may face. There’s a lot of people out there who need an emotional lift, or even a friendly face, and we want to help them find their Paraiso.

Interview by Paul Marino

Check out the album review I did on Paraiso

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do the Right Thing and Crash Movie Reviews

It's been awhile since I posted anything on my movie review project. So without further ado, I present to you, "Do the Right Thing" and "Crash."

Do the Right Thing (1989)
Do the right thing is a foray into the lives of Brooklynites who are not only experiencing the hottest day of the year, but also a building tension of local racism.

Being no stranger to controversy, director Spike Lee's agenda of this film was to show a slice of his own life as a resident of Brooklyn by uncovering Italian and African American and at times Asian American aspects of hate between one another.

The majority of the story takes place at Sal's Pizza Shop (Danny Aiello). Sal seems to be a virtuous man that is in tune with the community and his customers despite being a white Italian pizzeria owner in the middle of a black neighborhood. His son Vito (Richard Edson) is much the same way while his son Pino (John Turturro) is extremely racist.

The main character of the film, Mookie, played by Spike himself, is a slacker delivery boy who probably still has a job because of Sal's kindness and loyalty to consistency.

The movie starts to get crazy when two trouble makers come into play. First a disgruntled character named Buggin' Out (Giancarlo Esposito) is upset with the price of the pizza and also Sal's lack of American American representatives on his celebrity wall, which features Italian sports heroes and entertainers. After a heated argument Mookie convinces Buggin' Out to leave it alone.

Another guy, Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) comes into the shop with his boom box blaring Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" (he is constantly blasting this song the entire movie). Naturally Sal is peeved at the noise pollution in his pizzeria and gets into an argument with Raheem.

Things quickly escalate out of control and an all out race brawl breaks out between Sal and his sons, the black customers and neighbors near by and the white cops that show up to the scene.

It would be a shame to spoil the ending so I won't, but it is very powerful and sad. The effect of actions over petty hate is unbelievable.

However, Spike Lee misses the mark with the message which I will get to later.

Here is one of the most famous monologues in movie history. WARNING GRAPHIC LANGUAGE

IMDB - 7.8/10
TheSIBandGuy - 3.5/5

Crash (2004)
"Crash" is a movie I heard so much about but unfortunately just never got around to seeing. This movie masters the art of multiple storytelling as it follows around about five different story lines and some how weaves them all together by the end of the movie to paint almost like a quilt of movie.

What's most incredible about this movie is the all star cast they assembled: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, and Jennifer Esposito just to name a few. This film just like "Do the Right Thing" deals with racism and stereotypes in a much more clearer and emotional direction than "Do the Right Thing."

The movie covers many different racial relations: Black, White, Hispanic, Arabic and mixed races all while playing on stereotypes and sadly everyday negative occurrences people of ethnicity go through.

Perhaps the most telling of these characters is Matt Dillon's portrayal as a racist cop who takes advantage of his power to black citizens, specifically Thandie Newton and Don Cheadle.

Another moving scene involves the character Daniel (Michael Pena) and his daughter when an Arabic man pulls a gun on him assuming he sabotaged his store because of his Mexican heritage.

Every story has a unique plot twist and a powerful outcome that warrants an emotional response. The movie was done so well, and yet had such a small budget. It's amazing because it is an award winning movie and in a sense, an indie film.

I would highly recommend watching this film, but make sure you pay attention!

IMDB - 7.9
TheSIBandGuy - 4.5/5

So the obvious reason I grouped these movies together is because of the topic of race and stereotypes. Another reason was because of their ensemble casts. Lee's movie featured a popular lineup of actors he used in his early works while "Crash" featured A-listers in small roles, pretty cool.

Here is why I liked "Crash" better; the story was a lot more clear and there was a message at the end. Where Spike Lee missed the mark in "Do the Right Thing" was in the message he was trying to convey. At the end of the film it almost seemed like he glorified all the madness that happend without ever really addressing right and wrong. He brushed it off as normalcy with no prospect for a brighter and different future. "Crash" addressed these issues and showed the real power behind hate while making amends for the actions.

All and all, two classic films that are a must see and take on two different time frames of American culture.

Pete's Lost Luggage EP Review

Pete's Lost Luggage is a relatively new Staten Island band that brings back the sounds of one of my favorite era's of music, 2002-2005. There style is new school punk/angst filled dare I say emo punk. They sound a lot like a combination of New Found Glory, Brand New from Your Favorite Weapon and a little bit of Fall Out Boy circa Take this to Your Grave.

The band consists of:
Pete King - Vocals
Jon Marotte - Guitar
Carl LaPiedra - Bass
Chris Benne - Drums.

With that being said I absolutely love it! It's the sounds of my teenage years in High School all over. Little known secret, before I was a ravaging rap/rocker, I was actualyl a drummer/vocalist in punk bands for about six years. Ok, but enough about me, onto the EP cleverly titled, Greatest Hits Volume 3.

Photo by Four Walls Productions
The first track, "Don't Touch the Radio, It's Not Yours" kicks off like something straight out of NFG's earlier albums but adds a different dynamic with the small bursts of screaming. The prechorus resembles F.O.B. and the chorus sounds like Brand New, especially the way the music does the pause of the drums with the chugging guitars in between. It has everything in one song, and still sounds unique to them. A solid start to the EP.

Next up, "I'm High, Everything is Funny" is my least favorite track of the album, but that's not to say it's bad, just my personal taste. The best part of this song is the more aggressive layered vocals at the end. It almost creates a rallying cry and anthem, which is what punk is all about.

"Slow it Down to a Tempo of Faster" is quite simply put, awesome. The band was definitely not lying when they named this one as it's raw in your face punk reminiscent of early MxPx. Benne's drum playing is great on this track, and Pete's melodic yelling is on point as this is clearly a song of emotion.

The EP closes out with "Steve! Look Out for that Stingray" (and for the record it is not too soon for a Steve Irwin joke)... Again, this song starts out with a blast of guitars and drums. This is by far the longest track on the album clocking in at 4:00 minutes while the rest range from 1:30-3:00. I like the duel chorus vocals on this followed by the nice interlude/solo of the bass around the 1:50 marker.

Photo by Four Walls Productions
Overall, Greatest Hits Volume 3 hits the mark as a first EP. The songs are all very catchy and well written. The album's single is definitely "Don't Touch the Radio, It's Not Yours." The only possible gripe I can have with the album is the quality of recording, but then again it's a demo and I love it, it almost suits the sound and style.

One thing for sure is when they hit the studio to record a full length, they'll have a fan patiently waiting to be handed a copy.

Check them and their album out at

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rap/Rocker Manafest Proves Life's Worth Fighting For in His New Release

Tell us about your newest release, 'Fighter.'
We had a lot of success on the record before [The Chase]. Sometimes you expect people to know about your next release…but it takes time to build something. It's an exciting time, we are going on radio, touring and it's connecting. It's reminding me that nothing happens over night.

You've been through a lot of things in your life. Is 'Fighter' a reflection of your life?
Yeah, for sure man. Just like I kind of turned the music upside down, so has my life. It's a reflection of everything I've gone through. More than a physical fight, it's the storms of life and the junk that happens everyday.

What's a message you can share for people "Fighting" in real life after Hurricane Sandy?
I was thinking about. We just have to enjoy everyday life and not take anything for granted…Never quit. I know, when I've been in those dark places you want to quit. That's why it's good to have inspirational materials around me. No matter how many times I've fallen down, I always got back up. I think New York is a great example of that because of 9/11 and everything surrounding that. America is a great example of just a country that has taken their hits and hasn't quit and is an inspiration to so many people around the world.

Your style has evolved over the years, was this intentional or did it happen?
When I look at the first EP I did, there was always a rock element and a singing element. I just think with the latest stuff, The Chase and Fighter, it's definitely more rock lenient, more singing. It's the music that connects with my fans the most. Still rhyming on some newer stuff though.

What sound do you consider yourself and how would you pitch your music to someone who doesn't know about you?
I always like to give a band comparison, a lot of people say, "We don't sound like anything else you've ever heard." You listen to it and it has a Beatles flare with a Pink Floyd mixture or whatever. You always sound like someone. My comparison I get the most is Linkin Park, P.O.D., Rage [Against the Machine], Beastie Boys, and Eminem growing up. I'm influenced by those guys for sure.

Can we ever expect to get a purely hip-hop album from Manafest?
Under the monicker of Manafest I won't do a hip-hop record but I would consider doing a side project of an all hip-hop record.

What's your favorite track off of 'Fighter' and what's the fans favorite track so far?
"Human" is my favorite track. I love the lyrics in there, the music and the hook, and the production for sure. That's definitely my favorite song. It's funny that sometimes radio and publicity can dictate what people hear the most you know what I mean because maybe some songs are connected on a mass basis so it's hard to say what the fans like. But I'd say the biggest song is going to be "Human" as well.

Tell a little about your up coming tour with Saving Abel and what are you most looking forward to?
We are just playing some markets and playing some places we never played before. It's going to be new fans and people, and even a band we've never gone out with. It will just be cool to expose the music to a group of new people. you don't want to expose yourself to the same people, you have to get the music to more places. Hopefully there will be places like, "Hey come back here again."

Who are your top 5 greatest emcee's dead or alive?
Eminem, Jay-Z, I think Q-Tip is pretty dope, KRS-One, and I'm going to say a group. They were one of my biggest influences when I got into rap, EPMD.

What's the best rhyme YOU ever wrote?
I'm really happy with the verses in "Everytime You Run." I think I really hit it, you know, they aren't really lyrically aggressive but I just feel like I really communicated a good message and came off really well and painted a good story. If I was going to compare with Eminem's story to "Stan" because he communicated a message to so many people. I feel like I did that in a similar vein.

Anything else you'd like to add?
We are shooting more music videos, touring, and I'm releasing my first book that I've been working on. It's going to come out next year telling my whole story. It's going to be a motivational biography plus tell all stories about the music industry and I think my fans are going to be stoked whether they are my fans or not.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Radioactive Material Interview (Broken Records Festival)

 What was the experience of playing the concert like?
It's always awesome to play with a bunch of friends and familiar faces, but it's also great to play with new bands and meet new people. The fact that this show was so diverse was also a nice change of pace.

How do you feel about Broken Records Magazine, and why is a united Staten Island important?
It's pretty cool to see a magazine that promotes local bands like us along with more well known bands. Well, as Lincoln said, "A house divided against itself can't stand."

What would you like to see the festival grow to?
We would be stoked to see the festival become an annual event and grow to a point where venues like Killmeyer's and Dock Street wouldn't be able to host it.

What does Radioactive Material stand for?
It stands for giving off energy and sub-atomic particles. There are usually four types: alpha, beta, gamma and neutrons, but we're a new a found strain known as bamfs.

What is your hope for punk rock in today's music scene?
Our hope is that it could flourish as it used to in the old days when punk was a bit more accepted.

Who are some of your influences, and what makes you unique from those?
We all listen to a variety of music which makes our sound unique because we try and make our songs more uplifing and positive than any of our influences, some of which are the Ramones, Sum 41 and Blink-182.

Are you guys going to be working on an EP or album?
Our EP is actually already recorded and once the rest of our merch is made, we will have an official release show.

What are some of the long term plans for the band?
As far as the road can take us, and we mean that literally. We can't wait to go on tour.

What's one of the biggest problems faced when being in a band and why is it worth it to overcome them?
A bit** named Hurricane Sandy and we'll overcome this cause playing music is our dream. We want to get back on our feet asap.

Anything else to add?
Just thanks for letting us be a part of this and check us out on Facebook - and you can listen to our music on soundcloud -

Brooklyn Native Jay Walker Lives for the Art of Hip-Hop

Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Jay Walker and I am a rapper, singer and songwriter. I am from Brooklyn, NY and I make music of the hip-hop genre, own a recording studio and do my best at being an entrepreneur. 

Why do you rap, and why is it so important to you?
Well, I would be lying if I told you I could answer that. I think when you truly love to do something, the answer just isn't as simple as the question makes it seem. I mean, if you ask somebody why they eat food, the answer would be because they are hungry, or because they need to. But if you ask someone why they love someone, the answer is always different and not always explainable. That is the way I feel about hip-hop. Listening to music has always been an escape for me, a way to experience something I have never experienced before or to listen to someone explain the way I feel and realize that I am not alone in certain ways. The experience became so profound that I decided to pursue it from the other side by creating. I think if people said I sucked, I still would do it because there is a large part of me that writes music for myself. Sort of like a journal. But a part of why I push so hard is because of the confidence other people put in me. But, like I said, loaded question and I could go on for days. 

Growing up, what emcees really influenced you and shaped you as a rapper?
You know, I like this question because I feel like we are at the point in hip-hop where we are seeing a new generation of old school emcees. What I mean by that is, it is funny to see rappers my age get asked this question and turn around shooting names out like Run DMC, Slick Rick, Public Enemy, NWA, Ice T... and while those emcees set the foundation for what hip-hop is today, I am not going to lie and say they are my influence. This brings me back to my new generation comment. When I was younger and first introduced to hip-hop, the ones I idealized and wanted to be so much like were Jay Z, DMX, Big L, Big Pun, Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Ludacris, Jadakiss, Fabolous... The list goes on. People seem to forget that even though most of them are still around, these rappers were the ones hot during the 90s. Do I know my history? Sure, but I didn't grow up in the 80s. 

What separates you as an artist above all the other up and comers?
Hunger and quality. I am an extremely motivated individual and I think that shows if you have ever met me. I also feel I have a distinct voice/style and my production/formatting is excellent. While I wouldn't say I release the most material, but when I do I think it's safe to bet that the lyrics, beat, engineering and overall organization/quality of the track will be 100%. Even when I record on other artists' beats, you can expect it to sound like its an original joint. Nevertheless, being a perfectionist has its ups and downs.

What are some of your short term goals? Long term?
Money and then long money (haha). On a serious note, I say money but not in the shallow sense. I think the biggest reward anyone can receive from hard work would be financial success. Also, a quote sticks in my head "If you love your career, you won't work a day in your life." If I could live the way I want due to doing what I live the most, that is truly a dream come true. I know most people are expecting me to say be wordly recognized for being a rapper, or win some kind of Grammy and while I do want those things, I would just like to get through first. 

Tell us about your new mixtape and the recording process?
I guess the best place to start would be with the title, "Quotable."

Adjective: (of a person or remark) Suitable for or worth quoting.

That is the definition and I think it really describes the direction of the tape. There is a good variety of flows, punch lines and word play but I got the title from constantly hearing friends repeat lines they would think were hot. More than mimicking my flow and I started to realize that there definitely is a lot of memorable quotes in there. So while I will tell you there is a load of variety between style, the one thing you can expect to be consistent is putting what we all think/experience into words very elegantly. That is where I feel the gift lies. Being able to put thoughts into words without the buffer that seems to effect how well the thought can be explained or described. There seems to be a lot of that in there. 

In terms of the recording process, that is a little tricky. Sessions can get very organized at some points where we dump a hot verse on a beat and the tracks gets wrapped up in a day or so, to being completely all over the place with six or seven open projects with no idea what to focus on. In a perfect world, one of my producers lets me hear a beat I fall in love with, I write the verses and the hook, get to the studio as soon as I can, lay it down and within a week it is engineered and mastered by my partner Ace. Mind you, this perfect scenario happens rarely...Sometimes I write a verse that is way too long and what was supposed to be a song turns into Ace chopping it up or yelling at me for the song being six minutes. Then there are times verses and hooks I write without a beat and then tell my producers to make a beat around it and to turn my ridiculous beat boxing sound effects into something hot (haha). I will say one thing, being I cannot currently do this full time and studio time is limited because of work, most of what I make gets released. Sure there are a ton of tracks I have that haven't been out out, but mostly everything I do will more than likely be released. We don't have the time or luxury to scrap projects we've spent hours on. On the bright side, I think this makes me stronger as an artist. 

How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?
This is a rough question as well. Where on one side I feel like older hip-hop was closer to its roots, I can't say I am completely unhappy with the current state. I think currently there are a lot more artists out there and so much more variety in styles. So many more artists including myself doing more than just rapping, such as harmonizing on hooks, experimenting with new effects and rhyme schemes/flows. But, I do think with the way the Internet is, a lot of good talent gets flooded with garbage. Nowadays you have artists that wouldn't see the light of day in the 90s or early 2000s because they are god awful. But because of YouTube they gain a fan base and even flood it by making no talent rappers who don't understand that hustle, think they can get through by uploading some cheesy Youtube video with a track they recorded on a laptop mic. When there are artists putting their heart and souls into this just for no one to see it because it becomes a needle in a haystack. 

If you could accomplish one thing as an artist, what would be most important?
Being able to comfortable support myself and my family while being a rapper. I want to be able to do this full time. 

Anything else to add?
I'll leave with one of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill, "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

Also, shout out to Joe Josh, creator of JoeJosh B.E.A.T.S.

If you haven't already downloaded my mix tape and let me know what you think. 

Backslashes & Bad Ideas (Broken Records Music Festival Interview)

Interview by Gerard Ucelli

What was the experience of playing the BRM concert like?
We all really enjoyed playing the BRM concert last month. It was well organized, had a good turnout, and was a great chance for us branch out and play for a different crowd we don't always get to see. Playing with a band like Major League in our hometown was a great experience. The Optimators from the beer garden helped a bit too.

How do you feel about Broken Records Magazine, and why is a united Staten Island important?
BRM is a good outlet to help expose new, upcoming talent and helps everyone keep tabs on old favorites. Our music scene needs unity more than anything else. It's the only way we can all grow, improve and gain a fan base outside of our friends and family. It's great to see BRM put on a concert where artists of all walks of life can get together over two days and perform. Also after an event like Hurricane Sandy it was amazing to see countless people get together and help each other. Hopefully that spirit can continue an bring people together in the future.

What do you stand for as an artist?
As artists we stand because there are no chairs on stage.

I notice you use memes to your advantage on a constant basis. Do you think memes can be a new way in social media to promote yourself?
We feel like they reflect our personality perfectly. We don't do it for marketing purposes as much as we do it because we all love to laugh. The purpose of music is for enjoyment and to make people smile. We feel like many people in the industry take themselves and their music too seriously. We're all very dedicated but we understand how to be humble and laugh at ourselves among other things As much as we want people to go to our page to listen to our music, we also want people to see a lighter side to things and learn to laugh along with us through everything.

What is pop-punk to you and why do you do it?
We do the "pop punk" because Josh isn't hardcore enough. The thought of a breakdown gives him indigestion.

Tell us about your recent release, Nothing Left To Give.
Nothing Left To Give is our debut release from August 4th of this year. It's a five song, self-released EP, that we spent the better part of the last two years writing while playing shows. It's a culmination of work as recent as the week we went into the studio, dating all the way back to 2008 when Nick DePalo, Ricky, and Nick Colella were in Cobalt Sky. We were very fortunate to work with Joe Dell'aquila at Exeter Recordings in New Jersey. He helped us mold and finalize many of the ideas we had for the record and executed them far better than we could anticipate. I don't think we could have been any happier with the way the record came out. As far as for the future, we recently added our good friend Ricky Abolt on guitar and have some shows booked for this winter. We were originally expecting to tour this month, but some difficulties with the other bands involved forced the tour to be canceled. We are hoping to tour sometime in the spring with the help of our friends in Persistent Heart Media.

If you had to create the Avengers of music, who's on your team in addition to yourself?
Theoretically if we had to create an Avengers team we would have to start with Josh as Iron Man. That's pretty much a no brainier for us because Josh and Robert Downey Jr. are both serious tools. Rick is the dude with the bow and arrow. Nick Colella is gonna have to be Thor for very obviously reasons. Nick DePalo is Captain America, because Captain Canada doesn't exist. Ed is definitely the hulk. And our friend Joe Dell'aquila would be Samuel L Jackson.

Check out their album review on TheSIBandGuy

Friday's Nightmare Interview with Todd Stein for BRM Festival

By Paul Marino

What was the experience of playing the concert like?
Playing the fest was pretty fun. It was interesting to have these elements of a bigger, festival-style show (like having pictures taken of us both playing and just hanging out, or even doing this interview related to it) but at the same time, it had the feel of a normal local show because we were at Killmeyer's. We knew the people in the other bands and we knew a lot of the people in the crowd too. That said, it was also cool to look out and see that there were some new faces there. Plus, chicken fingers and onion rings from Killmeyer's. So all in all, it was a good day.

How do you feel about Broken Records Magazine, and why is united Staten Island music important?
The idea of something like Broken Records Magazine is cool because it covers such a wide spectrum in terms of the artists they cover, so it offers readers with chances to be exposed to new music they probably wouldn't hear otherwise while also being able to catch up on the bands they like. Someone looking at the magazine or website will see, like, Phillip Phillips or Comeback Kid (just those two alone give it the feel of having something for everyone), but then they'll find local bands like us or even national-level bands they might not know (like in my case, I had no clue who the Royal Guard were until I saw the interview). The local/unknown band aspect is especially helpful for bands from Staten Island because it provides us with a new way to be exposed to a larger audience. In a lot of ways, Staten Island really is an insulated community where everyone knows each other, which is especially evident in the music scene. It's very difficult to break out from the island and be able to get attention in new places like Manhattan, Brooklyn or New Jersey because people who are not part of our scene usually don't find out about the music being made here, so it's hard to be able to go to these new areas and draw people out.

In shorter words, bands need a fan-base, not just where they're based but in other places, and being able to appear in any sort of publication is a great start, but the fact that it's one that people may already go to explore music familiar to them is even more helpful, because then we have the chance to catch their eye as they're reading about an artist they like and be listened to. The fact that we are so insulated and have these struggles to be known is why a united Staten Island music scene is important. In some ways, all we really have is each other. Although recently we've been getting nationally-known punk bands to show up and play here, for the most part we play to each other. Getting bands with more recognition is difficult because Staten Island is really a hassle to get to for many people. Why would a well-known indie band want to play here over Brooklyn and Manhattan, if they know that fans based in those boroughs wouldn't be willing to deal with traveling here in order to see them (save for the most rabid ones), or if they don't think they have many fans here? So since many of our shows are going to consist of us playing our local spots with fellow bands who we often share the stage with, why wouldn't we want to unite, and help each other out, and support each other? It would only yield positive results. Establishing a united community would mean more people coming to shows (not even just in support of a friend's band, but because there's an actual show going on), more growth musically (an audience is necessary for that because you can find out what they enjoy about you and what you might need to change in your songs), more growth in terms of a fan base, more chance of then being able to have that community with you when playing elsewhere, more chances to break out, and more chances to draw attention to Staten Island and the music being created there, which means more exposure for the bands starting here that desperately need it.

What would you like to see the festival grow to?
Some giant event that takes place each year that people want to travel from elsewhere to check out. If it becomes a new Bamboozle or Orion Fest or something that'd be amazing, especially if it has a really mixed lineup with people of all genres of music, and big national acts playing it that people would be willing to drive or fly out here to see. Plus, it would be great if local bands were interspersed with these bigger acts - rather than relegated to some side-stage that no one checks out - because it helps them expose their music to a new audience.

So far, what has been the bands mutual favorite on-stage moment?
That's a pretty tough one. Playing the Studio at Webster Hall was a big day for us; getting to be on the stage where I saw the Smoking Popes play once, the fact that Green Day had just played there a couple of weeks before us, Figurehead being on the bill, being able to play for our friends and a whole bunch of new people who had never heard of us before, hanging out with the other bands backstage, the show itself, all of it was a blast. A close contender is the time that Figurehead and I think members (or just Damian) from Four Nights Gone all jumped out and started dancing and skipping onstage while we were playing at Staten Island Tech. One of those two works.

How does the song writing process usually go for Friday's Nightmare?
Our "usual" has been really unusual as of late. The way the band started was the Ilya would present the songs and then we'd tighten up parts, make suggestions or change a thing or two, and play through them. Recently, the song writing process is very collaborative and we all build off each others ideas and tastes. We all listen to different things and then try to combine all of the things we like into each song. The process is more like this now: Zim, Ilya or I has a basic idea - like a riff or a beat or something - and plays it for everyone else (or more accurately, writes it into guitar pro so that we have sheet music/tabs/a bad 80's Nintendo game-sounding version of the idea). Then, we all work together figuring out places for the song to go, parts to throw in, what type of melody it could have, etc. These suggestions are based both in what we like and how we feel we could incorporate that but still make it sound like a "Friday's Nightmare-style" song. Ilya plays a prominent role in refining our ideas because he's the only member that really understands music theory, so he can take our riffs and apply his knowledge to them, either by adhering to rules of theory or (as we especially try to push for) knowing good ways to break them. This collaborative approach is in everything lately; it's even how we've been coming up with our lyrics. Recently we added Rob as a second guitarist so this process is going to get even crazier, because now we have a fourth guy who can be involved in creating our songs and bringing in his own tastes in terms of music, plus now we don't have to find ways to make our ideas work with just one guitar, bass, drums and sometimes glockenspiel. So this will get interesting to say the least.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Anthony M interview for BRM Fest

What was the experience of playing the concert like?
Playing at the concert was a blast. There was such a positive vibe, and that's what it's all about. People there to appreciate the music. I've been performing for about 6 years and it was definitely one of the most positive experiences I can say I've had.

How do you feel about Broken Records Magazine, and why is united Staten Island music important?
Broken Records Magazine is fantastic. Any outlet that represents the voices of artists who might not otherwise have a voice is something I'm a fan of. Broken Records Magazine accomplishes all that in a well laid out package that actually keeps the reader engaged. Very well done. I can't stress enough the importance of uniting the artists on Staten Island.The problem is that artists on Staten Island hear a song by another artist they see as a threat to themselves and say "Fuck that guy. He's wack." It's the wrong attitude man. We need a united voice. I just see these guys as inspiration to get better. My attitude about the music is always positive, and it's paid off. I've collaborated with just about every hip hop artist worth mentioning on this Island, and pumped out some great projects. Its all about the love baby. That's why we do this because we love it, but artists get lost somewhere along the way.

What would you like to see the festival grow to?
I think with the right guidance and direction, this festival could grow into something huge. Something people look forward to on a yearly basis, and its a great thing. We need that now more than ever.

Have you ever thought of going under a different moniker when performing?
Oh man, I already go by so many different names haha. I was Tony KZ for a long time. Just KZ. MKZ. In the early days of my music career, I was trying to find myself. Until I did I sort of created this "character" that was my music persona. I think a lot of artists do that. I started this when I was 18. I didn't even know who I was as a person back then let alone as an artist!!! Once I settled into my sound, it kind of just fell into place. Anthony M is what I go by because I'm finally comfortable being me.

How do you plan on differentiating yourself from other singers, especially ones within the New York area?
I think it's all about finding inspiration and making a combination of sources influence you, but not define you. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone a little to find your sound. You're gonna fuck up A LOT, but you're also going to find a lot of success. You take what works, drop what doesn't and over time you develop your own sound. I think that's what I've done. Over time that sound evolves with you. You've got to constantly be pushing to differentiate yourself. While all these other cats are trying so hard to sound like their favorite artist you need to try and sound like YOU. Hopefully one day they'll be telling a young singer "Hey, you know you sound a lot like Anthony M."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Paraiso 'The E.P.' Review

Paraiso is a band that I had the privilege of booking to play the first Broken Records Music Festival. I had never heard of them before and honestly hadn't heard much about them except that they were good...and yes, yes they were.

Rick Vega - Guitar
The band was a pleasant surprise of blues funk rock reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and other classic rock in that vein. Normally this music isn't my cup of tea, but to see it live and in front of me played with as much skill and passion made me a fan.

Led by frontman and guitarist Ricky Vega, who personifies modern day hippie (in the most respectful way of course), he sang with much poise as he mixed up his grizzly classic sounding voice between guitar solos and strummed riffs.

Providing the rhythm is bassist Mike Pando, who's grooves are steady and consistent throughout the tracks. He adds a good amount of flair in the background to all the songs, while drummer Peter Grancio does the same. Some may know Peter as the lead singer and guitarist of West of Dennis, as did I, but wouldn't you know, he's a really good drummer too! In a band like this you have to be on point, and on point he is.

Now on to the EP. Unfortunately it is only three tracks, but it's free, so no complaints!

The EP kicks off with "Any Better," which makes you feel like kicking back on a summer day. It has a nice relaxing feel to it and the guitar has a nice tone to it. There's a great musical break toward the end of the song where everyone gets to showcase themselves before the final chorus.

Peter Grancio - Drums
Up next is "Pure Kinda Thing." This track makes you want to get up and dance. The sound is very old school almost swingy, but very cool. It then calms down a bit into a more groovy section. This is probably my favorite section as background vocals chime in throughout the small vocal part.

Lastly is "Passing Me Bye." Here they introduce the grittier guitar and is more of a straight up rock song. It's a good way to close out. The beginning of the track serves as an intro into the song before it changes pace slightly. Pando's bass skills are most showcased on this track.

Paraiso, Spanish for Paradise, is sure to take you there. They are totally unique and fresh despite playing a style of music that is around forty years old. So please check them out, and download their EP free on -

Mike Pando - bass

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Vinny Jett Interview for Broken Records Festival

What was the experience of playing the BRM concert like?
The BRM concert brought a new energy to the Staten Island music scene. A vision definitely came to life that night and the turnout out did our expectations. I truly enjoyed the company of Mac Lethal and some of the other talented acts including the BRC, Wordspit, and Freestyle Fam. It's something that BRM should do every year, or maybe even more often than that.

How do you feel about Broken Records Magazine, and why is a united Staten Island important?
Broken Records Magazine is impressive. They have a great range of coverage from the most underground artists to the most mainstream.

A united Staten Island is really important because it has been the opposite of that for so long. This place, along with the rest of NYC is like crabs in a bucket with everyone knocking each other down so the other can't get ahead. If we all lifted the talented artists up and supported each other, this place, especially Staten Island would become a powerful music scene packed with a rich history that includes the Wu Tang Clan. We'd be unstoppable, but until people start supporting their local talent more, we are going to have to market ourselves elsewhere in order to make some noise.

What would you like to see the festival grow to?
I would like the BRM festival to grow to something that people come from other states to attend. Something like Rock the Bells or Ozfest. I would also like to see it expand to other places, but ultimately stay grounded in Staten Island. It would also be awesome to see it in something like Staten Island Yankees stadium. That would be incredible!

What do you stand for as an artist?
As an artist, I stand for originality and quality. I don't want to sound like anyone else or do what anyone else is doing. I also aim to stay true to myself and my values in all of the records that I make. I am extremely hard on myself when it comes to recording and performing and I always strive to do my best. I also do not want to be categorized into a genre. I feel that the music I make is unique, and sometimes people don't get it, but that actually excites me because it shows that I'm creating the type of art that is in a league of its own.

What is hip-hop to you and why do you do it?
Hip-hop is so many things to me. It's one of the greatest art forms because of its potential. Between rappers telling vivid stories in their rhymes, and graffiti artists painting murals like 2pac's "Live by the Gun," it's a form of expression whose possibilities are endless. Producers sampling and creating amazing beats, and DJs spinning during parties that end up becoming some of our fondest memories. Hip-hop, every aspect of it matters to me. It's not just about rapping even though I love battling, freestyle, and song writing. It's history is also so interesting. It never died, and will live on in my heart from now until infinity.

How do you feel hip-hop is represented by today's artists?
I don't think hip-hop music is represented, but rather people are represented in hip-hop. We live in an instant gratification culture so many rapper's lyrics are full of tales of drug use, sex and partying and their motive is to get rich so they kind of play it safe in terms of content. That speaks for a majority of the mainstream. But then you have guys like Kendrick Lamar, and J.Cole who are taking more risks and bring a more creative and original edge to the artform. Kendrick's,  Section 80, and good kid m.A.A.d city are two of the most original and awesome albums I've heard since Get Rich or Die Trying. But I love it all man, from the strip club rappers like Juicy J, to the Christian rappers like Lecrae. However, Kendrick has impressed me the most out of the new artists.

Do you believe hip-hop is more cultural (way of life) or is it more fiction through music?
Hip-hop is a way of life.... At least for me it is. Some people dabble in hip-hop, while others live it out in all aspects of their life. I love hip-hop, and everytime I think I stop loving it, a new artist gives me a reason to begin loving it again.

Tell us about your new album Return of the Jett SINY?
Return of the Jett, SINY is a sequel to my first album that was released in 2007 (Words From the Sky). It takes place after I basically self destruct at the end of the first record. The SINY is an acronym for (Surviving in New York) and that's basically what I talk about on it. How I survived through a tough time in my life living in NYC when jobs are scarce, and people let you down everyday. I get a lot more personal than my first record and the production was mainly done by my good friend Tom Levoyer. It's a cohesive project and tells a story if you listen track by track. I think its better than my first, but I still think my first album was dope! The album also reflects my spiritual transformation as I became more entrenched in following Christ.

What is in the future for Vinny Jett as an artist?
The future for Vinny Jett is the top. And the top for me is to serve God, love people, and provide them with a quality product. I'm open to wherever that takes me. I want to be a blessing in people's lives and I want my music to touch their hearts and souls.

If you had to create the Avengers of rap, who's on your team in addition to yourself? Include one producer.
Avengers of rap. That's a great question. The leader would have to be 2pac and his right hand man would be Eminem. You need Jay-Z in there along with Dr. Dre. For a female, I'd say throw Lauryn Hill in there and maybe someone heavy with the lyrics like Big Pun for a Hulk-type figure.

Anything else to add?
Yeah, love God, love people and support good music. Peace!

Follow Jett on

Friday, November 2, 2012

Andrew Neufeld of COMEBACK KID Interview

 How has this year gone musically since the departure of Casey Hjelmberg, and what does Stu Ross bring to the table on guitar?
Casey was rad, but it's been pretty fluid actually. We have had a few people come and go over the span of our career and funny enough, the people who we get to fill the positions end up being close with the members prior to them. We've never really had an "bad blood" with departing members, we have just been a band for about 12 years and although there are 3 of us original members in the band who are psycho and want to tour forever, the touring lifestyle just isn’t for everyone. So when Casey left, we got our friend Stu Ross. He actually almost joined the band a few years back when our old bass player Kevin quit. Stu has played in Misery Signals, and most recently had a stint with Living With Lions. He claims CBK is one of his faves, but it’s great to have a new guitar player that is on the level with us personally and he brings a new excitement and fire to the band. As much as it was sad to see Casey leave, he wanted to do other things with his life and gave us like seven months notice so Stu pretty much jumped right in and we didn't lose any steam.

Stu, Casey, and Matt our current bassist also have a band called Lowtalker who just released an EP on No Sleep records this fall. Check it out!

How was the Symptoms & Cures World Tour, and how was the response to the band in other parts of the world?
It was great. When we started the album cycle we were really stoked to get out as much as possible and really bang out a lot of territories in the first year the album was out. It's interesting to see which songs go over better than others in certain cities/ countries. We always play songs from all four of our albums to date, so it’s encouraging to us when new songs from Symptoms + Cures go over just as well as songs from Wake The Dead or something when we are in far off places like Tokyo or Sao Paulo...

What was the best place to play and why?
Some highlights for me would be Hamburg, Sao Paulo ( Brazil ), Santiago ( Chile ), Tokyo, Southern California, and Portugal. The energy of some of these crowds is second to none. We are really lucky to be so welcomed in a lot of different cities.

Biggest rock-star moment/biggest fail as a band or while on tour?
We've played Groezrock festival in Belgium a couple times and that is by far our biggest festival reaction. It’s a crazy feeling playing to 8,000 people in a packed tent and they actually know our band's songs. Very different from an intimate club show, but really fun.

As far as failures, there are many, but I can't think of one big one off the top of my head. I choose to take the positive from bad decisions we've made, and try not to dwell on that kind of shit.

"Do Yourself a Favour" is a brutal way to kick off the album. Why was this song selected to do so, and why do you feel it is a strong single?
The song did well live and it’s the first from the album so we did a video for it. It was Jeremy's idea to have it as the first song. Track-listing an album is tricky…

'Symptoms & Cures' is a lot more musically dynamic and diverse than previous albums as far as experimenting with the "hardcore" sound. What was the reasoning for this and have the fans been receptive?
The layering of the album just came naturally. I wanted to do an album with a few more textures as opposed to just the left and right side panned guitars. I also really enjoy layering vocals and squeezing hints of melody in places that we want to keep aggressive. The album has been received well live, so I'm happy with it. We try our best to pull it off as best we can live.

Now that the tour is over, is the band getting back in the studio, or is just a little down time before the next project?
We've started writing a new album, but we all live in different cities now so it's tougher to get together and hash out the ideas. I'm currently in the studio with my other band Sights & Sounds working on new material and a couple of the other guys are out on tour with Lowtalker ( who I mentioned before ), so we're about to figure out a timeline for when we can jam and hopefully record in the first half of 2013. I’m really looking forward to getting some new material down with the guys.

Aside from a few member changes, how has Comeback Kid evolved as a band, and what do you see the band becoming in the future?
It’s been over 12 years since we started so we've grown to appreciate each other and the band that we get to be a part of. It's a relaxed group most of the time and we seem to work well together. All of our records have been different and I'm into that. We still see quite a future with CBK and we will be touring and making records for a decent while longer I’m sure. We’ve been writing some songs lately and they are sounding really cool. I look up to Sick Of It All, Madball, Propagandhi, etc and see how they have made their bands last 20+ years. It's inspiring to see them still rip it up on stage.

The popularity of hardcore has really risen over the last few years, why do you think this is so, and are you afraid it may be become too "mainstream?"
I don't know if the popularity of "hardcore" has really risen in the past few years, but I think there are a lot of heavy bands taking influence from hardcore that are getting insanely popular. Doesn't particularly make them a hardcore band. But yes, it definitely goes in waves.

I think that there will always be bands getting huge and there will always be really small punk/ hardcore bands and shows going on. Bands will always get dismissed when they move out of their original scene and break a little more into the mainstream for whatever reason. It’s the balance that needs to be there.
We've been fortunate enough to run our band our own way since we started. We do the tours we want to do, we make the records we want to make. Sure we get people at the labels and booking agencies give us advice but we do what we feel comfortable with and we've been able still really enjoy it after all this time. I feel pretty lucky.