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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Buttshakers - Arcadia

French alternative Label Underdog Records recently released "Arcadia", the latest offering of The Buttshakers, a raw soul band from Lyon, France. So it was high time for this blog to talk to Ciara Thompson about this brilliant new record.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Buttshakers to introduce yourselves? How long are you  together as a band?  Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays? 

Hi! We’re the Buttshakers, a raw soul band from Lyon, France. We’ve been playing together for almost 10 years now with Sylvain Lorens on guitar, Josselin Soutrenon on drums, and Ciara Thompson on the vocals. Jean Joly joined us on the bass two years ago, and our horn section changes around according to people’s availability (you know horns, they’ve always got work!) but for the last year we’ve been pretty stable with Franck Boyron on the trombone and Thibaut Fontana on the baritone sax.

2) About the "Arcadia" full length record,  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

We recorded Arcadia at Tontons Flingueurs Studio in Renaison, France with Pascal Coquard. This was our second time working with Pascal, and it was great as usual. Pascal has a mixed process – working with analog and digital. 

We did our first 7”’s and our first album (Night Shift) as a live studio recording, but we’ve really worked on developing a richer, more elaborate sound since then. So for this album, we did bass-drums-voice-guitar together in the same room and then added the additional instruments one by one. It’s a long process, working element by element, layer by layer, but the end result is very rich. 

3) Do you guys use the nowadays recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

Lol, kind of answered that in the last question. But yeah, we’ve worked in only analog – and we’ll probably work again in those sorts of conditions someday—but for Arcadia we used both digital recording and analog and then repassed on tape. 

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

Each album is different, but for this album, a lot of the songs were developed in a group form.

We wrote a lot of the album during or right after the first lockdown. During the first lockdown, we worked a lot with pre-productions. Passing around different pieces of music, taking the time to work over different ideas without being in the practice space in front of other people. 

Luckily, we had started working on certain songs before Covid, so we had already had a base of material (like ‘Night Crawl’ and ‘Hear Me’). To be able to take the time and really work out different ideas and layers was very different then just practicing and hammering out ideas in the practice space. 

Once we were able to practice in the same room together again, we must have been inspired because we wrote (and/or worked out previous ideas) half the album in about three months. Things just seemed to really jell once we had those couple months off to meditate and take a step back. 

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write the lyrics to a new song?

It depends on the mood really. For this album, I allowed myself to use pre-written texts. I’m always writing poetry, sentences, words. Anytime I hear something I like, a phrase or a word, I write it down in my notebook. 

I really work off the title or first phrase – a song is like a book, you’ve got to pull your listener in and let them know pretty quickly what you’re talking about. Once you’ve given them the deictic elements of the story, you can take them where you want to. 

For Arcadia, probably because we were writing during the pandemic, a lot of the texts are reflective. The pandemic made me think a lot about family, my childhood, and where I am now in my life. It’s strange going back to a place you only remember, that is part of you yet foreign. Or has become foreign. 

A lot of the songs we were writing made me think about this idea of being a foreigner in your own country, in your own home, in your own mind. So the album is a reflection of what I see around me because I’m only an observer. I grew up in America, and came to France when I was 21, but it’s been 14 years that I’ve been living in France so I’m almost more French then American now. It’s a whole headfuck, but I don’t feel like I belong to either, or am a strange mix of both. 

6) How would you describe the music The Buttshakers are playing? Is it soul? Is it funk? Is it groove? Is it all of that?

We always say we make music with soul – that has something to say, something to be. It’s a bold statement to make, for sure. But it’s really what we try to be. I guess that’s why we always say “raw” soul too. We try to make music that is authenticly us. And soul music is our main influence. We all listen to it, and feed off of its influences, roots, and offsprings. 

There is “soul” in our music, but there’s also everything else that came from soul music or was made from soul music. We all listen to funk, americana, rocksteady, southern rock, afro, garage, jazz and a ton of other styles that influence who we are as musicicans. The great thing about being a “soul” band is you can use all these influences to make something of your own with, and that’s what we try to do with every album.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the LP?? 


We recently came out with an animated video for our track HEAR ME. It’s a beautiful, film noir inspired clip that follows a woman in an abusive relationship as she finally confronts her partner and decides to leave him. We had the chance to work with an animation company called Millihelen Design who designed, developed, and animated the clip. They’re a American/Belgian duo working out of Antwerp. 

We wanted something sublime visually to go along with this song because it’s hard talking about abuse. Especially in a post-me too/Time’s Up society, confronting domestic abuse and trying to put words to something that is so prevalent but so taboo was a challenge. 

The message wasn’t too milk or profit from an ongoing social debate, but really we just wanted to put into music the idea that you can walk away. You can get out and find your peace. I feel like we focus a lot on the idea of victims, and not enough on surviving, knowing that you can move on. 

That’s why the song is called “Hear Me” – we wanted to celebrate the fact that women can finally speak up and speak out. 

8) What can concert goers expect at a concert of The Buttshakers? Are you playing any famous cover songs during the gig? 

Now for something much lighter – haha—no but seriously, Arcadia is a dark album, but in our concerts, we try to bring as much joy and light as possible. Music is a temple, a place everyone can go to tune in and tune out. 

A Buttshakers concert is exactly that. We always try to get everyone to just let go. When you dance, you touch a part of yourself, you free a part of yourself that most people rarely let live. So for us, a perfect concert is playing our songs right and everyone shaking their tailfeathers 😉

We always play a cover or two – but we’re one of those annoying bands that always takes a lesser known artist or song. One cover that we’re especially fond of is ‘Clean Up Woman’ by Betty Wright. And sometimes when we’re feeling hot we’ll put in a ‘Land of 1000 Dances’ by Wilson Picket or ‘Slippin’ & Sliddin’’ by Little Richard. 

9) Are there any bands in France today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

To be honest, there aren’t many soul bands in France that are similar to us musically. There are a lot of great soul bands in France at the moment, like John Milk, Malted Milk (two totally different bands, I promise!) Elina Jones and the Fireflys – but they’re more r’n’b/Motown and I’d put our sound/live shows on the Stax side of the force. 

It seems silly to say, because each band really has their own sound. But if we had to choose between Motown or Stax as the two polar opposites of soul, we’d be on the Stax side 10/10. 

I guess the Adeline’s probably are the closest to our sound that you can find in France. I don’t know if they’re even playing anymore, but they were a damn good live band. Or the Ready-Mades. They’ve got more of a rocksteady vibe, but I think they put the conscious side of soul music ahead like we do. 

10) What are the plans for 2022 as far as The Buttshakers are concerned? Are you gonna tour Europe to promote the record?

We’re hoping to play wherever people want us! We’ve got shows announced for 2022, mainly in France. We want to defend the album in our hometurf 😉 But we always add international shows throughout the year as things come in! 

That’s the beauty and the beast of playing live music – things change, get added in, and unfortunately with covid, get pushed back or canceled ALL THE TIME. 

11) Anything you wanna add?

Nothing more than, for first time listeners – listen to Arcadia as a whole story. It’s an album that’s best consumed in its totality. From ‘Back in America’ to ‘Gone for Good’, you have to let the story unfold and let it take you somewhere. 

Thanks a lot for the questions! Cheers for 2022!


Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Brothers Steve - Dose

Last month, Big Stir Records released "DOSE", the sophomore album from THE BROTHERS STEVE. This new release is not only featuring the very addictive new single  “Next Aquarius”, but is also offering up 10 new songs which take the band's invigorating punk-pop sound in exciting new directions, folding in elements of psychedelia and glam rock.

This new material was written and recorded by singer-guitarists OS TYLER and JEFF WHALEN and is fueled by the chemistry of the live band: drummer COULTER (aka author S.W. Lauden) and bassist JEFF SOLOMON (Whalen's longtime band mates from the beloved LA pop-rock combo TSAR) and guitarist DYLAN CHAMPION

Tracked and mixed at a secret LA recording studio, DOSE simultaneously captures the band's irresistible live energy while pushing their gleeful aesthetic into fascinating new territory.

So it was time for this blog to talk to OS TYLER about this new release. Here it goes!

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know The Brothers Steve, Can you introduce all the members of The Brothers Steve? Are these all the same guys who played on the debut album?

Hey Eric, the Brothers Steve is a Los Angeles based rock quintet. There’s Solomon (Jeff S.) on bass and Coulter on drums, those two make a solid rhythm section that really gets people moving. Not everyone knows that Solomon once rescued a baby rhinoceros, carrying it on his back across a rushing river in a torrential rainstorm. Coulter has been one of my favorite drummers for a long time, so it’s a real delight to get to play with him, but he’s an unstoppable force in Monopoly, so look out if he ever asks you if you want to play. Dylan, Jeff W and Os (that’s me) we three love to sing harmonies together and share lead vocals, or trade them back and forth. If you listen closely, you can tell when things are really working harmonically: you’ll see a sunset orange and blue color pattern, and perhaps a badger, dressed in a top hat and vest, dancing down a country lane. On our new record, Dose, it’s all the same members from our first record, #1.

2) About the "Dose"  full length album, what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

Our first record, #1, we had played all the songs live many times and we went in and recorded almost everything in a couple days. On this record, we got going right about the time the Pandemonium hit. So we never played the songs all together as a band. Due to the Global Phenomenon, we couldn’t all be in the studio together. So, the whole process was much more of a track-by-track scenario. But we’ve sung and played together so much, sometimes it really felt like we were all there at the same time, rocking and rolling, grooving and blending.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

On the recording end, we're all digital. But we still try to inject some analog elements with a couple vintage tube amps and vintage microphones. And we’re still singing in analog! … But whether it’s analog or digital, I think the most important part to recording is capturing the feelings of the players. It’s like riding a horse over rolling green hills. If you're doing it right, anyone watching the horse ride feels a little exhilarated!

4) One can hear a much larger range of influences than on the first record going from psychedelia to glam rock. How would you describe the music The Brothers Steve are playing today?

Listen, everybody in the band is a total genius compared to me. And I don’t know if that’s a complement or not. But I know that Jeff and Jeff and Coulter and Dylan are all cultural vibraphones. They resonate with the sounds of the times. And they are deeply versed in music throughout the years and across the genres. So it’s wonderful to play with these talented, musically conscious players who act as a guiding light. 

Me, I like to just let the parts happen as they may, let them all intertwine in whatever way, and if that makes the music Juicy Flumbulicious Poppadelia Delight, then that’s just fine. But yeah, I dunno, the music we’re making today should be a little bit of everything you love from every reference point in your consciousness, let’s call it: Pop Amalgamation or AmalgaPop. 

Jeff W. And I wrote all the songs on Dose together, and it’s really fantastic writing with Jeff, because he always has a number of underlying ideas or themes that he’s presenting and playing off one-another in subtle ways. Jeff has a plan and a vision and when we work together that provides a perfect focal point around which all the swirling ideas can flow and coalesce.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you guys write the lyrics to a new song?

It’s a funny truth that often Jeff and I think that a song we’ve both written is about different things. If you ask us each what Wizard of Love is about, we’d give you completely different answers. Same is true for Griffith Observatory and maybe for Mrs. Rosenbaum, too. So, there are times we’re writing a song and we each actually think it’s about a different concept, and we just keeping writing, each of us in his own direction, and let the two ideas interplay in whatever way they do. 

Anyway, I don’t know if Jeff thinks of this at all while we’re writing, but for me one of the big underlying topics is that all the stories are being told from the viewpoint of an emotive android with just a hint of precognition and a suspicion that it's telling stories sent back from the future. 

6) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the LP?? 

Yeah! Check out our super-calliope-psychedelic video to Next Aquarius. Some truly amazing image transformation … You can see it here:


We also have a new official video for Electro-Love coming out soon! 

7) What can concert goers expect at a The Brothers Steve gig? Are you playin' any famous cover songs during the concert?

Expect the unexpected! We hope our gigs are high energy and joyful. And that you leave hoping you can see more soon. … We typically don’t do famous covers at our shows, unless you want to count television commercial songs from long long ago … but you never know what might happen next.

8) Are there any bands in The USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

Hard to say. I don’t think there are a lot of bands out there with 3 vocalists trading leads and singing harmonies these days. Bit of a stretch and a turn around the corner, but maybe the Avett Brothers? Do we have something in common with Haim? Is there anything about what we’re doing that Harry Styles would find familiar? 

9) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as teenagers? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today in The Brothers Steve.

I personally lived in a small town in Kentucky when I was a teenager. Most of the music I heard was whatever was on the one Top 40 radio station in town. But I was and still am a big fan of E.L.O. and a lot of what those guys did remains an influence today. Our drummer, Coulter, tends to mention Nilsson when it comes to influences on our writing, or my writing in particular. I’m happy to list Harry Nilsson as an ongoing influence. One more … let’s see, I’ll say the Cars, especially the very early stuff.

10) What are the plans for 2022 as far as The Brothers Steve are concerned?

We’re getting ready to dive into a new song-writing cycle. And from there, move along the creative cycle and record some new tunes. I’m anticipating a new record sometime in 2022. I hope you’ll anticipate that too! 

11) Anything you wanna add?

Hm. Just a little reminder to glow and resonate and to be a divining rod, seeking out and pulling in and sharing back all the love and joy and inspiration that’s swirling around us. Would you do me a favor and remind me that next time you see me? 

Oh, and if you get a chance, give a listen to our new record, Dose. You can listen here on Spotify:

Or here on iTunes:

Or direct from our amazing label, Big Stir Records:

Monday, October 11, 2021

The On and Ons - Back For More

Sydney’s finest power-pop trio, The On and Ons, is back with a new 12-track album released on Citadel Records. 

"Back For More"  follows on from the band’s well received previous releases - “Calling” (2015), “Welcome Aboard” (2017), and the mini-album “Menacing Smile” (2020)

All but one of the songs on this new record are written by Glenn Morris (lead vocals/guitar) and the band is rounded out with his brother Brian Morris on drums/vocals, and Clyde Bramley (bass/vocals). 

These guys have had plenty of past experience with bands like Kings of the Sun, Paul Collins Beat, and Hoodoo Gurus.

Right from the punchy "Vanishing Act", all the way through to "Better Every Day" the On and Ons blend perfectly 60's melodies reminiscent of the Beatles or the Kinks and the energy of bands from the 70's like Big Star or BadFinger.

Glenn Morris song craft is improving with every new release, and he delivers here fantastic songs that will very soon become power-pop classics in the great tradition of all the Aussie bands that we love so much. 

But whatever the various influences you might hear, the trio comes up with a sound of their own. Unique, timeless and fresh, with superb vocal harmonies and lots of powerful guitars. This new album comes out like a real masterpiece.

Back for More is definitely their best offering so far and it is filled to the rafters with catchy and powerful tunes that will keep you humming till the sun goes down. A must buy!

Available to buy from:

Citadel Mail Order:

Direct from the band: 

Here is a video of the opening track, VANISHING ACT.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

THE MIGHTY GORDINIS – Sounds From A Distant Galaxy LP on TOPSY TURVY

The MIGHTY GORDINIS started out in the summer of 1998; their first two albums („Kiss my Wheels“ and „For Bosomaniacs Only“) were a mix of punky hot rods songs and surf instrumentals, while the third one „Fueled on Fuzz“ was fully instrumental and the last one, in 2007, „The Future looks like yesterday“ was a full vocal one.

After that, the four members went their own ways for a while before the 2021 MIGHTY GORDINIS-reboot with their new full instrumental album. 

The band is now reduced to two members: Nico Leonard (The MOON INVADERS, The CAROLOREGIANS, ADOLPHE SEX ET SES MACHINES) on drums and Hammond and Eric St John (Les VICE BARONS, THE RATBOYS, THEE MARTIAN BOYFRIENDS, THE EVIL FUZZHEADS) on Fender Jaguar and bass.

The title of the album „Sounds From A Distant Galaxy“ reflects their new musical expansion of influences, exploring some grounds they never dared to go to before: they incorporated some kraut rock elements („Five Miles South of Mumbai“), some dub sounds („Grabuge A Khartoum“), some spy movie soundtracks („There Is No Such Thing As A Former KGB Man“) and even some cool groovy influences à la Acid Jazz, be it Corduroy or Mother Earth („Gun Powder On Your Collar“) – anything to keep them away from the traditional surf sound. 

That being said, they did include a couple of classic surf tracks like „Jaguar Hunters And Headshrinkers“ or the cover of „Shockwave“ (original by ZORBA & THE GREEKS). 

So this album, limited to 300 copies of colored vinyl only, displays a very large palette of sounds made for the never ending listening pleasure of the broad minded groovy people.

Purchase a physical copy here

Purchase a digital copy here :

Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Fantastic Fellinis - Introducing The Fantastic Fellinis

German Label Soundflat records recently released the debut album of THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS, a californian duo featuring Kenneth Wessel and  Vitta Quinn.

Evoking the reverberating vocals of a Motown hit, funky grooves of a '70's exploitation cinema soundtrack, and tight fuzz guitars of a garage punk freakout, THE FANTASTIC FELLINIS are an ultrasonic mod/soul pop explosion! Originating from the star-emblazoned, sleaze-worn sidewalks of Hollywood, California, the FELLINIS' sound storms in with a blend of vintage vibes and modern pop sensibilities.

Their rendition of BOB DYLAN's 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' is absolutely brilliant and worth alone the price of admission. 

1) What would you tell to the viewers of this blog about The Fantastic Fellinis to introduce the both of you, the history of the band (how did it all start?) and also your body of work (what have you both done prior to The Fantastic Fellinis)? 

Kenneth: My previous projects include The Beat Killers, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Electric Mind Machine, and Dr. Savage and the Shrunken Heads, among others. A couple years ago I was hired to compose the music score for a Spaghetti Western film “Incident at Guilt Ridge”, where I did my best to invoke the spirit of Ennio Morricone. There was a montage sequence that needed a song, so I wrote “Whistling Steel,” a sort of Marty Robbins meets the Pogues folk/rock number. I recruited Vitta to sing the female call and response vocals and the results were pretty magical. We worked so well together we decided to follow up with a recording project. Along came the Fantastic Fellinis.

Vitta: I’m an actress/songstress by trade. A few years ago I produced and self-published an EP, Vitta in Vaudeville, an avant-guard, experimental offering. Kenny and I had known each other a few years before any talk of collaborating musically. The Fantastic Fellinis spun from “Incident”’s theme song.

2)  About the debut full length album, "Introducing The Fantastic Fellinis",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" recording in the studio  or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

K: This was a track by track process. The rhythm tracks laid the foundation. I wanted to make sure the beat was in the pocket. Many of my previous projects had more a frenetic ahead-of-the-beat energy, but I wanted this to be a more solid, almost behind-the-beat groove which was dance able and would have a certain cool vibe to it. Everything else was layered on in separate tracks. I think this helped us to experiment a little more and shape the direction of the music rather than getting locked in by live tracks. After that came organs, guitars, and vocals. We allowed ourselves some overdub tracks to fill out and polish the sound, but didn’t get too crazy.

3)As far as the recordings of this debut album are concerned, did you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?

V: Ironically, for lovers of all things vintage and analog, this album was recorded using the nowadays digital tech.

4) What is your favorite topic/theme that comes easily when you write the lyrics to a new song?

K: I’m not sure I have a favorite topic but more a favorite approach to writing lyrics. I think many songwriters fall into the trap of telling you their own personal feelings or emotional state. I find it unrelatable and and self-indulgent. You can’t “tell” people what to feel. You need to “show” people how to feel through visual language, cues, symbols, metaphors, etc. If you can create a visual image in someone’s head, it is much more powerful than spitting out some abstract emotions. When I was young, a local songwriter I looked up to told me “a song should be like a 3-minute movie.” That really stuck with me.

V: …and I’m the self-indulgent lyricist over here. Ha! My favorite topics are New York, the plight of booze, panic attacks, and Catholicism.

5) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work?
What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

V: The Pixies, the Smiths, Abba, The Cars, Liz Phair, Hole, the Ronettes, The Who, Sex Pistols, Pogues, Nancy Sinatra, Julie London, Billie Holiday, and Brigitte Bardot. When I was a very little lass, whatever came in the family Columbia House 8-track order. Cher, Glen Campbell, Don McLean, Blue Swede.

K: In high school I initially gravitated towards punk. The scene in Los Angeles was pretty off-the-rails. I loved the energy and fierceness of it all. I got a job at the local Rhino Records store that had a label that was putting out forgotten archives of ‘60s psych and garage bands. When I heard things like Love’s “7 and 7 is”, The Zombies “She’s Not There”, Stones’ “She Comes in Colors”, or the Chocolate Watchband, it really changed the direction of my music moving forward. I loved the depth, style, and imagery of the songwriting. That’s what really stood out to me at the time, and still feel their influence.

6) Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track of the debut album?

V: Yes. We have two official videos up: One for “Nightmare”, and one we just released for “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”. We shot “Nightmare” during lock down, partly as a submission to Roger Corman’s Quarantine Film Festival. I love this video’s fantastical look. I wanted a Metropolis dystopian silent feature feel-meets-a Seventies super-8 disco’d home movie mood. 

K: Vitta directed the “Nightmare” video, and I directed our cover of Bob Dylan’s “Baby Blue”. I felt Vitta’s vocal performance on this track warranted a video. She really killed it. With the Mellotron sound I felt it evoked the Beatles a bit, so I wanted to capture dreamy Peter Max style scenery juxtaposed with the trippy psychedelic graphics projected on the band. 


7) Are there any artists in The USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

K: I can’t think of any current bands that we sound like, but I think there are bands that are doing it right, that inspire me…even if they may be a quite different sound from us. One is the Schitzofonics from San Diego. They put on the most electrifying live show out there. 

8) Do you plan, some time in the future, to perform the songs of the album live with a full band?

V: Definitely. Now that venues have started opening back up, we’re focusing on developing our live act. We hope to be hitting the stage very soon!

9) How do you split the work? Is one of you composing the music and the other writing the lyrics or is every song the result of a "4 hands" work?

K: For this initial set of songs I developed most of the music, and we split the lyrics between us. I had a clear vision for the sound and was able to nail down the style quickly. For our next record I see Vitta taking a larger part of the music writing side. Her sense for melody and harmony is powerful.

10) Can the Fantastic Fellinis be described as a ‘60s influenced band or do you consider there is way more than this? If so can you explain?

K: I think a “‘60s influenced band” is an excellent way of phrasing it. I have experienced projects that are very regimented in traditional ‘60s garage and psych. I admire when a band can really capture the sound and style of era. With the Fantastic Fellinis, I wanted to have the influence of the '60s, pay my respects as you would say, but not be afraid of taking liberties and cross over into a new genre all its own. 

V: I'm super-proud of The Fantastic Fellinis' genre-bending sound. It’s everything and not one thing and all at once and not at all. It’s Mod, pop, soul, funk, garage, and…all and none of the above. It’s a secret sonic circus.

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2021 as far as The Fantastic Fellinis are concerned? 

V: Rehearsing for live shows!

12) The album is released on vinyl by the German Label Soundflat. Do you think that the kind of music you are playing is better perceived in Europe than in the USA? Is there also a CD version released somewhere else in the world (USA, Japan?)

K: Very perceptive question. From the onset we had it in our minds to target a European audience. We shopped the LP mostly to European labels, as we feel European garage/mod/soul fans are keeping the scene alive. There is a lot of great garage music coming from America, but everything is spread out and fractured.  Many cool underground bands get lost in this noise. I think Europe is much more connected and allows more access to the music. 

There are no CDs for this release. Vinyl LPs are available in Europe, Japan and the U.S. (as an import), and digital platforms everywhere.

13) Anything you wanna add?

V: Buy our ultrasonic album, Introducing the Fantastic Fellinis! ♦️🏁🎪

In Europe you can purchase a physical copy HERE

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sorrows - Love Too Late... The Real Album (2021) Big Stir Records

In the late '70s and early '80s, New York quartet SORROWS was a band on the rise with a thrilling stage presence and a unique sound: three lead singers, a twin-guitar attack, and immediately unforgettable, hook-propelled tunes. By '81 and the release of their debut album TEENAGE HEARTBREAK,  they were along with The Romantics and The Plimsouls at the top of the then called "Power-pop" scene.

The expectations for the sophomore album, Love Too Late, were very high but the end result was disappointing for fans and for the band itself. In fact, it's barely Sorrows on the original album at all, with the players and singers replaced in the studio by a bunch of hired guns, with only the songs surviving intact. 

After four decades and some legal battles, original SORROWS members ARTHUR ALEXANDER (vocals, guitar), JOEY COLA (vocals, guitar) and RICKY STREET (vocals, bass), joined by drummer LUIS HERRERA re-recorded LOVE TOO LATE... the real album. It is, as Arthur says in the sleeve notes, “real Sorrows, playing real Sorrows music, as only Sorrows can”, and those who were there to hear these songs performed live in the band's heyday will attest that This Real Album now released on BIG STIR RECORDS is the real deal indeed.

1) For the sake of the argument, let's say that a very young viewer stumbles upon this blog for the first time and doesn't know who SORROWS are: what would you tell him about the band to introduce the various members, the history of the band and also your body of work? 

I started Sorrows around 1976, shortly after leaving The Poppees, one of the NYC bands on the then just starting punk/new wave scene in the city.  The Poppees were heavily slanted towards the Merseybeat sound of the early 60s, especially The Beatles, and were one of the early bands who laid the foundation for what was soon to become known as Power Pop.  

Sorrows lineup consisted of Joey Cola on voc/gtr; Ricky Street on voc/bass; me on voc/gtr, and Jett Harris on drums (Jett also played with me in The Poppees.)  Early on we played all the hot spots in New York and often played up and down the east coast in Boston, Philadephia, Washington, DC and other cities, developing a solid following.

In 1979 we signed a record deal with one of the CBS Records associated labels and put out two albums.  The first one - “Teenage Heartbreak” – was very well received by the fans and critics alike, becoming stuff of legends.  Especially, since after its initial release CBS never again re-released any of our records.  The follow-up album, “Love Too Late”, was recorded in London and produced by Shel Talmy.  It was a total cluster fuck and a farce of a record.  Basically, a bunch of studio musicians we were replaced with, accompanying Joey’s vocals. 

We as a band disowned it, fan picked up on the stench and the radio DJs wouldn’t touch it.  The record, as could be expected, was a total flop and disappeared without a trace.  And that was a good thing!  

2)  About the newly re_recorded album, "Love too late",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

While re-releasing “Teenage Heartbreak” was relatively easy, just a matter of improving the mixes and overall sound, “Love Too Late” presented a whole different problem.  Even though we eventually reclaimed the rights to our songs and masters, when it came to this record there was really nothing to ‘re-release’. Talmy’s “production” was total garbage and “the band” was a bunch of studio hacks, not Sorrows. The only (and the right) thing to do was to record the album as it was intended. 

By this time we were spread out between east and west coast so doing it “live” was not an option.  Also, by then Jett Harris had retired from playing altogether.  Luis Herrera stepped in and the first thing on the agenda was to replace the abominable sounding drums with ones that sounded like drums and being played by a real rock and roll drummer (though I would have settled for at least someone with a pulse!).  That done, we replaced all the fucking keyboards and synths the tracks were drowning in, with guitars, since we ARE a guitar band! Next came replacing the studio singers with our own vocals (what a concept!).  Only then came the overdubs as I intended them to be, which I never even got to do any of it after I walked out in the middle of the original sessions.  It took a lot of time and hard work, but it was worth it.  

Love Too Late… the real album” IS the album that Sorrows meant it to be.

3) As far as the recordings of this latest album are concerned, did you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you still keep on working with analog machines in analog studios?

We didn’t have the luxury, or the budget, for going to commercial studios and I have a pretty  cool studio setup of my own.  It was all done in Pro Tools, although I did run many tracks through my 2-track Studer/Revox tape machine while recording.

4) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

Sounds like you mean “lyrics”?  Joey and Ricky are actually quite good when it comes to lyrics.  Me, well, I’m no Bob Dylan, so I typically end up sticking with the tried (trite? ) and true, you know, boy/girl/sex… though occasionally I do surprise myself with something that’s actually half way decent!

5) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

We all share common influences, from the early rockers, like Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran, to the 60’s Brit bands; Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, etc… 

6) Now that your sophomore album finally received the deserved treatment, do you also consider, at least, a reissue of your debut album. If I'm not mistaking this album has never been released on CD?

Ummm… errr… you are mistaken!  “Teenage Heartbreak” got its due with the release of “Bad Times Good Times”, essentially the “Teenage Heartbreak” album with new mixes, mastering and bonus tracks, released in 2011 by Bomp! Records. The Poppees’ legacy was also preserved by the 2010 release of “Pop Goes The Anthology”,  on Bomp! Records as well.

7) Are there any artists in The USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

Frankly, I can’t think of any, one exception being Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders from LA.  A great rock and roll band that deserves way more recognition than they’ve gotten. 

8) Do you think it was easier to be in a rock'n'roll band way back in the 70's/ early 80's than it is now? What has changed?

I don’t know if it was “easier”, but I think it was more fun.  At least for us, since we were fortunate to be a part of a real ‘scene’ that was happening in New York at the time, something that really hasn’t happened since. 

9) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

I’ve been the main writer in the band, but I always encouraged the others to bring in their songs .  Both Joey and Ricky have contributed quite a few great ones to our repertoire.  

10) You guys are now Big Stir Records recording artists. Is this the label that suits SORROWS the best And if so, why?

Yes, we’re part of BSR family of artists and couldn’t be happier!  They are great people, work their asses off for their artists and are truly on a mission to not only promote Power Pop, but to also treat their artists like human beings, not just numbers on the accounting ledger. Quite a refreshing concept!...

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2021 as far as SORROWS are concerned? 

The way things are right now, with Covid raging across the country and half the US population apparently having swallowed the ”stupid pill”, there is really no incentive to do much. Hopefully they all get a clue before they die and things will get back to normal.

12) Anything you wanna add?

I’d love for Sorrows to do some live shows, tour, especially Europe, Japan would be a blast!... but for the time being that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.  May be 2022 will bring some hope.


Friday, August 6, 2021

The Mergers - Three Apples in the Orange Grove

THE MERGERS return with their 3rd album on Soundflat Records and again they deliver a perfect mix of 60's influenced Freak Beat & 90's Power Pop. If the first track of the album, 'Outta My Way' is pretty much what you might expect from the four boys from Nuremberg, it becomes clear pretty soon, that this time around they are trying to create something new and a little bit more psychedelic than on its predecessors. 

But whatever the various influences you might hear, the quartet comes up with a sound of their own. Unique, timeless and fresh, with superb vocal harmonies and lots of reverb and swirling guitars. This new album comes out like a real masterpiece.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Mergers to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band?  Who is playing what instrument nowadays? 

The Mergers started in 2011 as a 60's Beat/Garage band. Over the years our sounds became a little more psychedelic. Jerry and Jay e.g. met for the first time in kindergarten and started their first band together about 20 years ago but we’ve all played together in different bands and formations before and we have known each other for quite a while. The Mergers’ lineup is and has always been: Jerry Coma - Vocals/Guitar;  Jay Le Saux - Vocals/Guitar; Henry Florence Jr - Bass/Vocals; Winston McCloud - Drums

2) About the latest released full length record 'Three Apples in the Orange Grove',  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? Can you also explain the meaning of the title of this album?

For most of the songs we played the basic tracks together. But this time we had the intention to explore a little more where the musical journey might go to or end up. So here and there are some overdubs or sounds that we added afterwards while trying to create something new that hasn’t been on our previous LPs.

Actually there is just one song that was recorded track by track because we had to rearrange it completely so it would fit on the record. 

The title Three Apples In The Orange Grove could mean that ‚it might not always be what it seems‘.

3) Do The Mergers use the nowadays recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?

We use lots of vintage equipment and instruments but no more any analogue recording machines. We experimented with it in the beginning - didn’t really work out for us.

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

Jerry is writing most of the stuff while Jay is contributing a lot of songs too, but there are no restrictions of any kind. We are still creating the final versions of all the songs all together in the rehearsing room like we always did.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

Used to be love. Right now it’s more about time or the right way to spend your time before it is all over or about the meaning of life or some strange thoughts on life in general.

6) The Mergers are sometimes described as a 60's influenced band. Do you agree with this opinion? Are you proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that? 

We are definitely heavily 60’s influenced. I don’t know if we’re proud of it - it’s just the way it is. Of course there is a lot more in it. But even the 1970-2021 bands that had an impact on us were mostly heavily 60’s influenced too.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the latest LP?? 

Actually we have 3:

8) What can concert goers expect at a gig of The Mergers?  Are you playing any famous cover songs during the gig? 

People can expect an energetic life show and a band that can actually play all the stuff that’s on the record. Usually we don’t play any cover tunes during our shows.

9) Are there any bands in Germany today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

Sure, there are some German bands that have the same musical background and are playing music that we like too but at least we don’t know any German band that we would consider really close to us or what we’re doing.

10) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as teenagers? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

We probably all listened to The Beatles as teenagers. Then some of us listened to Oasis, Blur, Kula Shaker, Supergrass, Travis, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, The Police and lots of other stuff. The 60’s influenced bands like Oasis and Kula Shaker or the real 60’s bands like The Beatles still have a big influence on our music today.

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2021 as far as The Mergers are concerned?

We’ll be playing our first indoor show since the begin of the pandemic in October (Nürnberg Pop Festival). Besides that we’re just trying to plan a little ahead for 2022.

12) Anything you wanna add?

Everybody who reads this - buy the record!


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tommy Ray - Handful of Hits

GadM Records from Berlin, Germany, recently released the vinyl version of “Handful of Hits”, sophomore effort by Tommy RAY, the primary songwriter and front man of power-pop band “The CRY!”. 
This sophomore record is displaying 11 new tracks that will very soon become powerpop classics. It's quite difficult to imagine better tracks to open a record than “In Love Again”  immediately followed by the ultra catchy “No No No”.

 1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about you and your musical background to introduce yourself?

Well, I’m a rock & roll songwriter from Portland Oregon.  I started playing in the bars downtown when I was about 13. I found all my pop’s old gear and got a couple friends form middle school and we formed The Delinquent Souls.   After that I played in a few punk bands until I met Brian Crace and we started The CRY! When I was 18. The CRY! Did two solid studio LP’s, a great live record, and toured for about 5 years until drugs, girls, and egos pulled the band apart. For my part, I regret a lot of the shit that went down.  

In 2017 I decided to start recording again.  My first effort was a punk record The Decayed -PDX Punx (2019-GadM).  I was pretty well received so I opened up the trove of songs I had written  And started making my own power pop records.  

The first record ("First Hit’s Free") is exclusively demos. The second record, "Handful of Hits", is more newly written material mixed with a few old demos. I think the song writing is a bit stronger in this second record.  The thing is, I want to show young musicians and kids sitting at home with song ideas that you don’t need a ton of money or a big label to make your own kind of music.   

2) About the newly released sophomore solo LP "Handful of Hits",  what can you tell about the recording process? Did you play all the instruments yourself? How do you work to build up a song? Do you start with the drums, following a click track? And then bass? and then Guitars and you end with the vocals?

I did most of record on Mac’s using Garage Band, M-Audio interface and a $40 mic. I get frustrated with my gear sometimes.  Songs always start with an acoustic guitar and an Idea.   When I have a few ideas for the arrangement I do a click track and lay down a scratch track of vocals and acoustic.   Once that is all good I just start filling in the instruments. That’s about it. 

3) About the recording technology, was this album like the previous one, totally recorded on Garage Band?

Yep.  I would like to do better productions if I could.  I think the songs are worth it.  But recording studios take time and money….  

4) Were the songs on "Handful of Hits" newly composed tracks?

A couple were older but most are from the past year.  I write a ton and already have the songs for a new record selected.  I would love the chance to have a pro produce my tracks. 

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

My shit show experiences and frustrations.  I try to keep it as base honest a I can.   After that, girls (of course).

6) The first 2 songs, "In love again" and "No No No no" have a real The Cry feeling to them. Is this a way to show the world that, in the end, The Cry was mostly your band?

 Naw it’s just the way I write and sing. I never though about it that way….

7) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the new LP?? 

Sure, I’m working on one for “In Love Again” but  NO NO NO NO, has been published.


8) What are the plans for 2021 as far as your solo career is concerned? Are you gonna put a band together and perform these 2 solo albums on the road? Are you gonna play any famous cover songs? 

In to find a new band and I want to make to best record I’ve ever made….You’d have to come to shows to find out about covers….

9) The final artwork is different than what was originally planned.  Why the changes and whose
idea was it? 

The original cover looked like this: We couldn’t get the label (vinyl) a HQ photo in time so they hired a designer to do the alternative cover.  He did a great job!  I like the idea of the original art.  At least it is on the CD (Kool Kat).  But the red cover is pretty tight.   Was pissed at first but happy with the product.  No bigs!

10) Anything you wanna add?

Keep an eye out for new tracks and tours!!


Monday, June 28, 2021

Radio Days - Rave On!

RADIO DAYS is a rock'n'roll band from Milan, Italy featuring Dario Persi - vocals and guitar; Mattia Baretta - bass and backing vocals and Paco Orsi - drums and percussions.

1) What's new about Radio Days these days? Is this still the same band with the same members who recorded "Back in the day"?

Hello! It’s still me (Dario) on guitar and vocals, Mattia on bass and backing vocals and Paco on drums. We are rehearsing with a good friend of us called Massimilano Raffa who will be a sort of session player and will play guitar and keyboards live!

2) About the newly released "RAVE ON!" what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" recording in the studio or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

“Back in the Day” was a live recording with few overdubs, this time we decided to do a track by track production so that we could work a bit more on the sound of the different songs. We are very happy of the results, we worked with our long time friend Marco Matti at Casemate Recording Studio, our second home. The pandemic caught us during the recordings and we had to delay the album release by a year… it was a stressful time of course but we are now happy that we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel.

3) Why did you choose to name the new album after a Buddy Holly song? Is this some kind of
tribute to the man with the big glasses?

It was Paco's idea, very spontaneous. We were thinking about a good title and after some days Paco asked us: “What do you think about “Rave On!”? Me and Mattia were like: “Let’s do it!”. We are all big Buddy Holly’s fans and the title has a great energy, exactly what we were looking for in the title.

4) For this new record, was there a main composer in the band or was everybody involved in one way or another?

Yeah I always write all the music, I do it at home with my acoustic guitar, then we rehearse all together and we arrange the songs. The other guys write most of the lyrics!

5) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the new LP??

This time we made 4 videos for 4 singles before the album release:

1. I Got a Love:


2. Till the End of the Night:

3. Lose Control:

4. What is Life?:

Marcello Perego at Milkit Film is the director and we love the results!

6) I noticed that Herve Peroncini of the Peawees designed the artwork of the album. Are there any bands in Italy today you consider yourselves close to musically speaking.

Yes! We love Hervè artworks and we are good friends, check his job at! We love the Peawees, they are one of the best italian bands! It’s a shame that there isn't a proper Powerpop scene here but there are other cool bands such as Giuda or Bee Bee Sea.

7) What are the plans for the rest of 2021 as far as Radio Days are concerned.

We are currently in touch with some promoters to plan live shows as soon as possible. We will play in London September 25th at Pump It Up Powerpop Weekender with the Yum Yums, the Speedways and many more and we can’t wait. We will be in Spain for a 10 days tour in February 2022 and we are in touch with some festivals right now and waiting for a confirmation. We also plan to come back to Japan as soon as possible.

8) In 2017 you told this blog you were planning your first Japanese tour. Did it happen and how was the experience? Tell us everything about it.

It was a fantastic experience! Totally different from Europe but we loved every single moment of it. The beautiful country, the passionate fans and the wonderful people there will always have a place in our hearts. We have played fantastic shows in Osaka and Tokyo with very enthusiastic hospitality. “Rave On!” has been released in Japan by Wizzard in Vinyl Records and we can’t wait to go back to Japan!

9) You had some "guest singers" (Kurt Baker, Paul Collins, Morten Henriksen and Jorgen Westman to name a few) on the track " What is life". How did you manage to get all those guys? How were they recorded? I suppose they did not come specially to Italy to record that one track?

Yes we thought that What Is Life? Was the perfect song for a singalong chorus with some of our friends and favorite singers singing together. It’s like a Powerpop Hymn! The song has been recorded during the pandemic so everyone recorded in a different studio and then they sent us the vocals. We mixed them in Italy and we love how it sounds! Check the video too! Thanks a lot for your questions and talk soon!!!


“Rave On!” is also available here:

Screaming Apple (Lp)

Rock Indiana (EU CD)

Sounds Rad (US CD) 

Wizzard in Vinyl (JAP CD)

Monday, May 24, 2021

Rocket Bureau - Middle Angst

ROCKET BUREAU is a One-man studio band. Behind that moniker is KYLE URBAN, who can play pretty much every music instrument, and does so on this brilliant album. Pop hooks a plenty, crunchy guitars and pounding Keith Moon-esque drums. All recorded on his own in Kyle's Madison, Wisconsin basement studio. Analog, of course! Read all about it here!

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about Rocket Bureau to introduce yourself? Do you feel more confortable to present yourself as a "band" rather that an solo artist?

Hello! I'm Kyle Urban, I'm a musician and recording engineer. Rocket Bureau is both a solo recording project for my songs, and a live band with my friends. I've been based in Madison, WI for almost 20 years. I've played different instruments in a bunch of bands (The Motorz, The August Teens, The Arkoffs, The God Damns, Earl Foss & The Brown Derby, etc), and I run an analog recording studio out of my basement. Besides locals, I've recorded a lot of bands from Milwaukee and elsewhere, including The Midwest Beat, Fox Face, Phylums, and Hughes Family Band. I had a great working relationship with The Midwest Beat for so long that I ended up playing keys with them for live shows, including a European tour.

I think I'm more comfortable presenting Rocket Bureau recordings as a band as opposed to a solo act. I write the songs, perform all the parts, and record & mix everything myself. In spite of that, one of my goals is to always make it sound like a full band is playing the songs, not just one guy overdubbing everything. It's how I'm comfortable working, but I love playing live as well. I happen to have some great friends who are also fantastic players, and they like the music I make. There's something great about playing with a group of close friends. Plus these guys share a similar energy to me when we're playing; we are loud and we let it rip. The live band is Dan Bornemann on bass (a friend since high-school, he convinced me to move here), Josh Labbus on guitar, and Paul Kennedy on drums. They rule.

photo David Kreisman.
2) About the newly released LP, what can you tell about the recording process? Please tell us about your working process? Do you start with the drums and the bass and then the guitars and finally the vocals?

I record the drums first, I've always worked that way. There's no click track or anything; that forces me to have the song arranged and as fully-realized as it can be before even thinking about recording it. I play the song on drums as I would on guitar or any other instrument, meaning it's a performance dependent on the dynamics of the song structure with fills and all, as opposed to just playing a beat and editing it later. After that I usually add guitars, bass, any other extra stuff (keys/percussion/etc), then vocals. Unless I have a vocal arrangement in mind that calls for a lot of voices, then I'll do vocals earlier with a guide guitar track, and bounce all the extra vocals down to one or two tracks, and add everything else afterward. I didn't do much of that on Middle Angst, as most of the songs didn't really call for big multi-part vocals, but that is something I love. I am a huge fan of The Everly Brothers, The Hollies, The Cowsills, and The Resonars.

3) Do you only work with analog machines in analog studios or might you, one day, consider using the nowadays digital recording technology?

Despite the maintenance work involved with a vintage tape machine, I stick with mostly analog because I can record and mix with tape and a console much faster than with a computer. The drawback to that is no ability to save mixes for simple changes at a later date. That led to having a hybrid system. 90% of the work is done analog. I track to a 2” 16-track tape machine from the early 70s (before 2016 I only used 1/2” 8-track). I record everything to tape, then mix from tape through a big analog mixing console and outboard gear for compression/tape delay/etc. The direct outputs of the console are fed to their own tracks in the computer. I started doing that from recording other bands; they would often like my mixes but want minor tweaks here and there. I would have to start an entire mix over from scratch just to turn the bass guitar up a little bit or something but I might set another level differently in the process, so I put together this system where I could still work quickly & efficiently with analog tape, but have my mixes saved for easy adjustments in the computer. It's a workflow that I'm happy with. Tracking and mixing fully inside a computer is very slow for me, so I bypass most of that with the benefits of having saved mixes and easy adjustments. It has saved me hundreds of hours of work.

Sonically, I prefer analog tape. I grew up listening to all kinds of old music, and analog tape is a big part of those sounds. Digital recording technology has come a long way, it can sound fantastic now, I do not begrudge anyone for going that route. But analog tape gets the sounds that I really love, and it's a workflow I'm comfortable with. 

4) Who is responsible for the cover artwork of the L.P.? And can you also explain the meaning of the title of the LP?

Kyle Clemins, an old friend of mine from high school, made the cover art. I'm a control freak over the music and audio, but I know I have zero skills as a visual artist. When the recording was mostly done, I sent a rough mix to Mr. Clemins. I had him listen to the album a few times and come up with something. He nailed it in a way I did not expect. I liked it when he sent me his sketches, but when I got the LP jackets, WOW. It looked even better than I'd imagined. I especially love the mirrored-eagle on the back cover; if we make t-shirts, that's what will be on them.

I think I came up with the title Middle Angst after most of the songs were written. None of this was written to be a concept album, but I was writing more personally than I had before, and the songs all kind of fell into a loose narrative of aging, but not feeling like you're progressing with life. I'm 41 and I often feel as lost as I did as a teenager; the songs either reflect that, or look back a bit nostalgically. I felt really weird about it for a while because I didn't know if anyone else would relate to it. I'm getting older but I don't really feel like I am. I don't want to become an acoustic singer/songwriter. I don't want to make 'mature' music. I want to rock. It's the kind of music that I naturally play when picking up any instrument. Conversely, I know I don't want to make the same kind of rock songs I did in my 20s or younger. I want that same energy, but with lyrics that I won't feel absurd singing as I get older.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

That's a tough question! I don't think I have a favorite or easy topic. My most satisfying writing comes from being struck by a melody and sound that evokes a strong emotion, then completing a song that maintains that initial spark. It doesn't happen often. Sometimes the spark gets lost and I abandon the song. More often than not I finish the song and it doesn't have the same spark, but it becomes something else that I like.

Lyrics are difficult and frustrating for me. I can rattle off music relatively easily, but words are hard. In my old band (The Motorz), I only wanted to make fun, hooky rock'n'roll songs. I didn't care about lyrics at all; as long as they weren't embarrassing (and sometimes they were), I was happy. I hear music first and lyrics second. In the interim between The Motorz and Rocket Bureau, I started to appreciate lyrics more and more. I got a couple of Sparks records and they blew my mind. Lyric-focused music previously struck me as pretentious at best and outright boring at worst, but I gradually realized you can get really creative lyrically without it weighing down the music. That opened my ears to things that I'd only half-listened to for years.

6) How would you described Rocket Bureau's type of music? Would you call it power pop or do you consider there is way more than that?

Great question! I have no idea. I love power-pop, but I think it's a really limited descriptor. What I think of as power-pop isn't what other people think (and that goes for virtually every genre to an extant). I've described my music as power-pop in the past, and it helped the music find its way to people who enjoy it, which is all I really want. However, just as often I've seen 'power-pop' used in a way that's almost dismissive or derogatory.

I tell people that Rocket Bureau is a rock'n'roll band. That's probably more troublesome than power-pop, but I can't think of a better description. There are a couple punk-ish songs on the album, but we're not a punk band. I try to give everything catchy melodies, but there may be too much classic rock influence for some power-pop fans. A lot of what I play on guitar is country-based, but it's through an old amp on 10.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the new LP??

Nope! I'm not opposed to videos, but I've never come up with a cool video idea. I hate being on camera as well. If there's ever a Rocket Bureau video, it'd have to be a collaboration with someone with a great sense of visuals, and little to none of me in it.

Photo:  David Kreisman.
8) Do you intend to take Rocket Bureau on the road one day soon and if this happens what can concert goers expect at a gig of Rocket Bureau? Will you be playing any famous cover songs during the gig?

I would love to do a tour! I would especially love to go to Europe again, I met a lot of wonderful friends while over there. The reality is we've all got day jobs, and there's one father and one father-to-be in the band. That said, we could find a way to make it work for the right opportunities.

Historically, our live shows have one constant: we are loud. We're loud when we're trying NOT to be loud. I love actually feeling the sound out of my guitar amp. Paul is a monster drummer so we could blame him, but honestly I think we all love cranking up the volume. We're a rock band, that's how we're supposed to sound! It kind of limits where we can play, but I think we'd rather have it that way than try to change how we sound and be frustrated. 

We've almost always thrown a cover or two into live sets. We can't deny ourselves the fun of playing covers of songs we love. We have a couple of Thin Lizzy songs we often play. I think collectively our favorite band of all time is Cheap Trick; we'll play entire chunks of Live At Budokan during practice (and sometimes live). I've collected records since I was a kid, and that's always given me fuel to bring all kinds of oddball songs to the guys. We do an obscure Badfinger song, a couple 60s bubblegum songs, a hair metal tune here and there; we even cover other locals that don't play anymore. Great songs are great songs, it doesn't matter if they're by The Beatles or some punk band playing a local basement.

9) Are there any bands/artists in the USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

The Resonars and Tenement. I don't think we're all that similar to either (or nearly as good), but both of those bands were integral to Rocket Bureau existing. I hadn't been writing or recording my own music for a long time; I was playing with a few bands and recording others. I still love doing both, but none of it was my own thing. I got into both of those bands around the same time and was inspired. Before that I had odd ideas that my own music wasn't worth doing, and I'd forgotten how much joy and satisfaction I got from writing and recording songs for myself. Both of those bands make incredible records, but they also put on great, loud, energetic live shows. They made me want to do my version of the same, just for enjoyment if nothing else.

10) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

I don't know how it is for other people, but I rarely outgrow any music I get into, I just get into more of it. As soon as I could walk I went for my dad's stereo. He was afraid I would break it, so he taught me how to play records. My earliest memories are of me playing anything I could find and pillaging my older siblings' records and tapes. I fell in love with Queen and ELO by the time I was 5. After that it was all Meat Loaf, 70s Kiss, hair metal, and Rush most of all. As a teenager in the 90s, I got into both pop-punk and oldies radio (50s/60s rock'n'roll). Eventually I got into British Invasion, psych, soul, vintage country, and so on. These days I'm really into collecting obscure old 45s that don't fit neatly into genres.

Three long-lasting influences are probably Cheap Trick, The Hollies, and The Who. This list could change every day.

11) What are the plans for 2021 as far as Rocket Bureau are concerned?

We just had our first fully-vaccinated band practice last weekend, which was something I missed very much in the past year. I don't know when we'll be able to play live yet, but we'll keep having practices and learning some new songs. I've got about a dozen written, and I've got some ideas for another album.

12) Anything you wanna add?

I play bass in The August Teens, and we put out a much-overdue album last year. You can check it out here:

I also play drums in The Arkoffs, a weird garage band. There is no website or social media for The Arkoffs. We have an LP, but it's not available yet. It may be the only recording I've been a part of where the record we got was exactly what we were going for. I can't wait for unsuspecting souls to hear it.

The only other thing I'd like to add is gratitude for sharing my music. Thank you very much!