Monday, February 25, 2013

Figurehead 'The Watermelon EP' Review and Interview

The Watermelon EP Cover
First off, I would like like to say, welcome back boys! I was hoping it wasn't the end for FH, and thank God it isn't. I've had the privilege of playing shows and being friends with these guys, and I can honestly say they are one of the most talented, humble, and well respected local bands on Staten Island.

Behold, Figurehead's The Watermelon EP...oh wait, shhhhh, you're not supposed to hear it yet, so I will kindly describe it for you...

Kick starting the ep is "Where is Your Self Control?" I love Sanbeg's drum fills that follow the guitar riffs in the opening. Immediately I noticed how crisp Taranto's vocals, dubs, and harmonies were. For a home studio recording everything is leveled nicely and yet still has that garageband luster.

"Serotonin" follows, and slows everything down. Very good guitar and bass work here. Scarsella effortlessly flows on this track. There's a great guitar solo further on in the song that is a perfect blend of chaos and melody, well done.

The next track, "Incense" Taranto pulls out his best Dave Grohl impression (sorry Chris), and pretty much vocally destroys this song. Everything about this song scream 90s grunge a la Foo Fighters or even early Incubus and Radiohead. However, the best parts of this song start just before the three minute mark, when Taranto aggressively attacks/yells the chorus leading into yet another chaotic yet organized instrumental bridge. I like what they did in the mix as well, panning the instruments back and fourth so you are being hit with different sounds on both the left and the right. It gives the listener a very cool, or disorienting feel.

"Accept the Change" sees Taranto bust out the screeching aggressive vocals like the previous song. The track is consistently on the heavier side and features Figurehead's signature instrumental rock out/breakdown, but this time it fades out into the next track, where we are brought back down in tempo.

"In Some Other World" lightens up the mood from the two heavier tracks before. It's just such a smooth and chilled out tune that it makes you vibe out without even thinking about it. The bass and drums keep the tempo, and the guitar is so relaxed. More than any other track this feels like and Incubus jam. The name of the song is perfect because you feel as if you are transported somewhere care free.

Overall, a very solid return to music for Figurehead. The Watermelon EP manages to put some of the best works on the band on wax and create something very well done and yet contain the right amount of Do-It-Yourself. Alternative/Grunge/Punk in the way Figurehead does it might not be "in" anymore or right now, but they don't care and create passionate and simply put, "good music." So if you are into Foo Fighters, Nirvana, and a sprinkle of Green Day and Incubus, then this is the band for you. Keep rocking my friends and I'll see you all on March 23rd for the EP release show.

With Chris Taranto (Vocals/Guitar)
Why is Figurehead back together and how did it happen?
Getting back together was really organic and fast. I was listening to some things we had recorded and I was playing with some other really talented musicians and I asked Joe if he wanted to record again. One thing led to another and then I offered to play shows while Mike was home for winter break and bam, we were a band again. We never really had to ask or say to each, so this means we're a band again? It just was.

Did getting back together spark a greater fire in you guys as a band, and how has this resurgence affected your music?
I think we still have the same fire as when we left in May. We've always fired on all cylinders, right from day one. I think we are a lot more focused now. We hammered out the EP in about two weeks and are slowly starting to branch out and play new places (Sullivan Hall, New Paltz, etc.). We're writing again already, too. It's like nothing changed other than our focus.

How did the process of the Watermelon EP pan out, and what were some of the challenges in recording it?
This EP took about a year and change to make. We actually recorded it (minus "Incense") a year ago. But we never mixed the entire thing and it just sat around; hence our lack of focus in the past. When we got back together, Mike proposed that since we had some better equipment and more knowledge of recording we should just re-record the EP and add "Incense" to the tracklisting. Then we had more difficulties, always technical ones with the recording program. It would randomly stop recording while I was doing guitar tracking on "Accept the Change," so we had to piece the guitar tracks together. And the worst was mixing "Where's Your Self Control?" because the program deleted the bass drum towards the end of the song and we had no idea where it went. It was so f**king aggravating. We had to make Mike play just a bass drum to fix that.

Why watermelon?
We've had this inside joke for quite a while concerning someone most people know and said person has possibly had sexual intercourse with a watermelon. We're cruel people.

Tell us a little bit about the upcoming EP release show.
We've got this amazing EP show coming up on March 23rd. It's taking place at the NYC Arts Cypher Center, located on Broad Street in Staten Island. We've got all of our friends playing (Paraiso, A Work in Progress, Process of Fusion, Strays, and Diet) and it's only $5 to get in. We're really trying to push for a community of musicians with this show. All of the bands are splitting the cost of the venue (which I am so grateful for, no one had any problems with helping us out) and all of the funds go back to the bands from the door. No splitting with promoters or anyone else. Hopefully we get a lot of people to come out to the show and we'll try to book things like this more often and maybe branch out to other venues, as well.

How have the fans taken to Mike's new haircut, and has he lost some of his musical power?
I don't know how the fans have taken to Mike's new haircut, but we inside the band think it was quite a good decision. At first Joe and I were really skeptical and were like "NOOO, DON'T DO IT!" but Mike actually looks really good. He's becoming a hipster up there at Oneonta. (Haha) Not really. And no, he's no Sampson. He's actually gotten even better since he went to college, which is saying something cause he's a tremendous drummer, the best I've ever played with. I tried to start another band while we were away and I couldn't find a drummer like him.

How would sum up Figurehead in one sentence to a complete stranger?
I would say that we're one of the most honest, hardworking, punk rock bands on the scene.

What does the future hold for the band?
I wish I could give you a clear answer, but I honestly don't know (haha). The future depends on me. If I feel creative, we'll do a lot and we'll be very active. If I feel like I don't want to be doing something, we won't do it. I am a pain to work with, I don't know how they put up with me. But right now we've got a lot of things planned and a lot of music to start working on. I have about 16 demos ready to go, so only time will tell.

Is there anything you'd like to say or leave the fans with?
I would like to thank all of the fans and friends who've been so open to our return. They've done a great job at supporting us in Brooklyn and Manhattan and I really, really, really hope to see you at the release show and hopefully you guys and gals dig the EP. It's gonna be a lot of fun, it's just up to you to show up. Thank you, the band loves you.

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