Monday, November 26, 2012

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.

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