Sunday, September 29, 2013

An interview with Mark Lind of the Ducky Boys! Boston punk rock and roll since 1995...

I recently had the unique opportunity to interview the front man from one of the longest standing street rock and roll bands, Mark Lind from the Ducky Boys.  The Ducky Boys have been a prominent staple in the Boston punk rock scene since 1995 and have been extremely influential and friendly to many up coming bands today.  With several full length albums, splits, and 7'' records combined, the band remains strong through their career.  Tonight I present you, Mark Lind of the Ducky Boys.  Enjoy!

Q: The Ducky Boys happen to be the longest standing punk band in Boston (longer than Dropkick Murphys which is strange to think about!).  Why don’t you tell us who you are and give us a brief history of the band? 
A: Wow. That’s actually a really interesting point that I’ve never considered. Mung and The Unseen were around before us. I’m not sure how active those bands are these days though. Maybe they only do reunion shows now; I’m not sure. The Ducky Boys have basically existed in three separate installments. We find that it makes sense to go away for a while now and then so people eventually grow to miss you. The first leg of the band went from 1995 to 1999. We did two albums in that time along with three split 7”s and a live EP. We played sporadically over the next couple of years but the second full on leg of the band went from 2003 – 2006. Again we played sporadically over the next few years but eventually let it go dormant again by 2009. Then we picked it back up in 2011 to current. Each of these stints have produced two albums plus some additional odd n’ ends.

Q: As a band, you guys have adapted musically and lyrically over the years.  From your first release, “No Gettin’ Out” and to the latest, “Dead End Streets”, what are some of the milestones or experiences that you went through and met that made you guys what you are at today?  You guys have had several different lineup changes, even though you and Jason Messina have been the core of the group. Talk about that as well!
A: This is a long one to answer. We’ve adapted and developed mostly because we’ve grown up. There are a few events that transpired to get us to where we are today. First, we toured off and on for a couple of years. That sort of thing isn’t for me. I’m a homebody. You need to adapt to changes and if you aren’t going to tour then you gotta step up the music so that word of mouth exposure matches or exceeds the exposure you would get from touring. I spent a LOT of time listening to new bands outside of the punk world and paying attention to how they structured their songs. Putting a lot of time in with the Beatles will make anyone step up their game. I really believe you gotta listen to things beyond your reach if you ever want to improve. It does a punk band no good to listen exclusively to punk bands; they will never surpass their influences and that impedes a band’s ability to grow. You gotta listen to the best and hope to land somewhere further than you are now.
Another development came in the form of a one sentence comment from James Lynch. He was playing guitar with us at the time and he just said “you gotta stop singing with the chord changes.” We didn’t know how to write songs or develop songs. That simple fact may have occurred to another band but it didn’t occur to us. But those words triggered a lot of thought and introspection that led us to new pastures.
Playing with Sinners & Saints introduced me to new ideas. Dustin played a big role in helping both me and my brother learn how to edit ourselves, trim the fat and develop a song. Working with Dirty Water was a huge learning experience. We edited the hell out of our songs and we learned even more from working with Andrew and John. Then we felt it was time to circle back to Ducky Boys and pick it back up. Bringing Douglas on board in 2003 was a major milestone. His talents exceed what we could ever hope for and we’ve been able to make 4 records with him. Finally, adding Rich to the band took it up yet another level and completed the band. All of these factors together as a narrative explain how and why things happened the way they did for us.
The last thing to consider is the idea of friendly competition. I’m Rob Lind’s brother and I need to try and keep up. Believe it or not, he does the same thing back to me. We also came up with great bands. Today the bands seem to have unfriendly competition. When Jay and Doug and I were kids we watched our peers like Dropkick Murphys, Pinkerton Thugs and The Trouble and we loved those bands. We were fans of them. And they made us want to be a better band. We’ve kept that mentality in some ways. Those were the days when having a pool of good bands bred more good bands. It doesn’t feel the same way anymore but it feels like it’s coming back in bands like The Welch Boys, Bryan McPherson and others.
Q: What major changes in the Boston scene did you see when the Rat closed, then the early-mid 2000s, and then today?  It’s pretty clear things have gone up and down as they always do though it seems like there is about to be another big push with the Boston punk scene and in particular, the Oi! scene.  What would you like to see happen?   Do you see any resemblance from what it was back then compared to now?
A: The first major changes were obvious. The people changed. The 96-era Rat scene was truly about community. I remember a show we did at the Middle East in January 1998. We got 620 people paid at the door. The Casualties canceled so we dropped the admission price and asked The Trouble to play since they were all at the show. The other scheduled bands were us, The Unseen and Pinkerton Thugs. You can do the math on that. A lot of money came in that day. The four bands split the money evenly after dropping the cost which was the right thing to do for the kids. None of us saw ourselves as “headliner” or opener. It was a community. Then Dropkick Murphys blew up. For good reason of course. But people started relocating here to start bands or they transplanted their bands here so they could call themselves Boston Punk. Bands were forming and taking promo pictures before they wrote their first songs. It turned into a parody of itself. It was a lot like what you read about of the LA hair metal scene in the 80’s. There have always been great and honest bands here but they were few and far between. All these people were trying to chase the success of Dropkick Murphys. The problem is that you can’t manufacture that sort of thing. Dropkick Murphys are who they are because of hard work, good music and a lot of luck and good timing. You can no more copy that than Candlebox or Bush could copy Nirvana.
Now that many have tried and failed it seems like people have either been humbled a bit or the ones that were chasing the dollar have dropped out and the people remaining are playing music because they want to play music and not because they have an expectation. My old pal, Mark Noah, from the Anti-Heros once told me that this form of music peaks and rallies every 10 – 15 years or so. If that’s the case then we may be due for it again. The Midway is serving as a nice, albeit smaller, home base similar to the Rat. The kids and supporters haven’t changed. But they can sense sincerity even if they don’t realize it. If they keep doing what they’re doing and the bands continue to move toward genuine motivations then it has the potential to peak again.
Q: What were some of the first bands you saw when you were younger that influenced you?  Did seeing your brother play in Blood for Blood make an impact on yourself to play? 

A: The Bruisers, Only Living Witness and Tree all come to mind. Seeing my brother form his own band and get on bills with bands like Life of Agony inspired me to start my own band but, believe it or not, we had established ourselves in the punk scene before they gained steam in the hardcore scene so they didn’t necessarily influence us per se. Trying to keep up with Rob over the years is another story though. 
Q: What tours that you played on stand out to you the most?  I recently saw some photos from the Dropkick Murphys, Ducky Boys, and Blood For Blood tour in 2004.  What experience was it like going on tour with two other major Boston bands?
A: It was awesome. Blood for Blood were getting really popular then. Keep in mind that their legend has grown exponentially in their absence. They got a reaction back then but nothing like they would get now. Dropkick Murphys are as popular all over the world as they are here. Seeing 3000 people in Los Angeles singing along to songs about Boston is pretty awesome to see. We’ve played with pretty much every band we’ve ever wanted to play with at this point. I could rattle off a list of them but it’s pretty much everyone except Bouncing Souls and Against Me. I’d like to cross them off the list one day.
Q: Within the last  year and half - two years, the Ducky Boys released “Chasing The Ghost” (2012), “Chemicals EP” (2012), and the most recent, “Dead End Streets” (2013).  That was a lot of music for a band to put out in that time frame.  The band did an amazing job without making it sound similar and giving each release a flavor of its own but without losing that signature sound.  Would you say that this has been the busiest you guys have been in the bands career? 
A: Hmmm…. This is the way we’ve always done it. Short spans of time with a pair of albums in each shot. This was probably the most productive only because we still have 10 songs in the can that haven’t been released yet. So really we’ve done three full albums of material in a short period of time. This time around we are old enough to know that it might be the last go round for us. So we’ve packed a lot into it. We went more for songs than for shows. As a band, it’s our job to make songs. I’m not a happy listener of bands that take too long to make albums. It isn’t that hard.  Thanks for the kind words, by the way.
Q: Like most musicians, you often write about the things that go on in present time in your life, or that you have been through.  The album “Chasing the Ghost” seemed to be a heavy one considering some of the song topics and what you were going through.  If you could pick a few songs off that record, and “Dead End Streets” that are most important to you, which ones would they be and why?
A: That’s a good question. They all meant something at the time or else I wouldn’t have bothered to capture the moment and the thought on a tape recorder. And then show the song to the band, get them to back it and then take it to a recording studio. Songs are like passing moments though. Once you have it down then the moment is gone and you’re on to the next thought. I really enjoy all the songs that Douglas wrote and sang because I can listen to them objectively. It’s not so easy to do that with you own material. And we’re not a touring band so I have no idea which songs are resonating with people at home that listen to the albums. I guess a few standout ones for me would be “Won’t You Come Home?”, “I Guess I’m Broken”, “Feeling Alive”, “Pretty Bad Year”, “Nothing About You”, “In the Scars” and “Damaged Goods”. I’d probably listen to those songs most if another band put them out. Douglas sees the song “Dead End Streets” as sort of being the mission statement of the band and its history. If that’s true then that song would probably be picked too.
Q: What bands today that are coming out that you currently enjoy?  Which bands that no longer play do you wish would come back (other than Guns N’ Roses)? 
A: First and foremost would be R.E.M.  I love that band. They went out on their own terms and I respect that but I feel like they could have done another 5 albums and I would have still enjoyed them. Reunion shows really don’t do anything for me if there isn’t new music or the prospect of future new music. I’d like to hear new music from The Loved Ones, Bombshell Rocks, The Anti-Heros, Oxymoron, The Explosion, The Unseen, Sixer and Avail. I’d also like Rancid to return to the prolific pace they maintained between 1993 – 1995 where they were putting out one album per year plus 7”s and b-sides. Even the wait between 1998’s “Life Won’t Wait” and Rancid 2000 was short. I’m not psyched on this 5 year gap between albums especially when the guys in the band are releasing new music under other names. They clearly still have gas in the tank. Give it to us, guys.
As for current bands, there really aren’t a lot. I’m referring to popular bands. Many bands don’t get time to develop and have a multi-album career anymore where you can watch them grow or develop or even take interesting turns. I like Taking Back Sunday and Alkaline Trio for being bands that have pulled that feat off. On the Boston front I really like Bryan McPherson, Stray Bullets, Energy, The Welch Boys and about a dozen more bands. There’s some interesting stuff happening locally right now.
Q: Another big project of yours and Doug Sullivan’s was the upbringing of State Line Records.  What is your main goal with that label?  Who have you signed, and put music out for?  What sets this label a part from other punk rock labels? 
A: It’s on hold right now because I put a lot of money into Ramallah and Sinners & Saints which we are trying to sell to another label for distribution. There are about $9000 tied up in that. I couldn’t even afford to repress an existing release today if I needed to. Once that deal goes through and I recoup on that loan then the label will probably re-activate. We’ll probably finish the leftover Ducky Boys’ songs in 2014 and put that out. The Warning Shots have some recording plans that are a bit different from the norm. And we hope to do a sequel to the first Dirty Water EP. Like I said, I’m not for reunions if there isn’t the prospect of new music.
Q: Lastly, what is your biggest accomplishment so far in your musical career? 
A: Everything has been a big accomplishment. We aspired to maybe play the Rat once where we saw the Bruisers and Blood for Blood play. We’re going on 20 years later and we’re still around. We’re still pulling people into our shows. We’re still getting in front of new audiences. The fact that there is a “musical career” to speak of blows my mind every day. We’ve indulged every whim we’ve ever had and, even more surprisingly, all of them have been met with a warm reaction. To me that is both absurd and completely unbelievable. I guess if there was a moment of accomplishment that I am most proud of then it is the fact that we got to play with Rancid. Those guys treat us like we’re just another band and another bunch of guys but they’re the band that got us started. They are to us what the Clash and the Ramones were to them. And then we’ve got to play with them three times so far. Those were three of the best nights of my life. Music is my life; I’m a music fan before anything else and getting to share the stage with Rancid just knocked my socks off.

Ducky Boys Offical Website
Ducky Boys Facebook Page

Friday, September 27, 2013

An interview with Dropkick Murphy's drummer, Matt Kelly!

Well, since it is six months until the Lansdowne Invasion with Boston's own Dropkick Murphys, it is fitting to set up an interview.  The Dropkick Murphys are one of the longest standing punk rock bands in Boston and absolutely one of the most influential.  The band started from humble beginnings and with strong work ethic, the right attitude, and an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, they became one of the most world renown bands in the scene.  Known for their mixture of punk rock, hardcore, and Irish music, they became a band that any new band today could look up to and plenty do!  I give you Matt Kelly everybody!   

Run Don't Walk: Hey Matt, how is everything going today?  Why don’t you tell us what you do in Dropkick Murphys, how long you have been in the band for and just a brief history to get started?
Matt Kelly: Hi Nick, doing just fine man.  Chomping on some leftovers and waiting for some long-neglected bathroom caulking work to dry.  You know, the good things in life!  I play the drums in the band, whom I started with in May, 1997 to replace one Jeffrey "the Shark" Erna.  Jeff played on everything up until Do Or Die", though I joined the band before "Boys On the Docks" or the split 7" with the Anti-Heros came out.   
  The band started in early 1996 as the Snots(great name, I know), covering the Clash, Swingin' Utters, Stiff Little Fingers, Generation X, etc., and their own material.  The main goal was to play a gig at the (sadly defunct)Rathskellar in Kenmore Square(remember when Kenmore was actually a place to go?).  From that time onward it's been a work-your-ass-off mentality and here we are today. 

RDW: What other projects have you been involved in other than Dropkick Murphys? With those projects, do you have the opportunity to play a different style of punk rock and hardcore music that is more stripped down compared to what Dropkick Murphys play?
      MK: I've played in various bands over the years with friends and family, some stuff more complicated, and some less, than the Dropkicks.  My brother, Mike(the real talent in the family), is recording an album at the moment, and I just recently threw some drum tracks down with him, which was really fun.  It's musically a bit of rock, pop, country, and maybe folk/bluegrass.  Not my musical fortés, so it was nice to have the challenge.  Other than that, I get together with my asshole buddies and bang some songs around in the practice space, but nothing serious.  Over the years I've played in lots of hardcore, punk, and Oi! bands, though I'm pretty much just doing the Dropkicks these days.   
  I think it's good to try one's hand at various styles of music, as they can be used as interesting influences on one's playing, arranging, and songwriting. 

RDW: Who were your major influences when it came to playing drums?  What age were you when you first started?  Who and what age was your first band?
      MK: Oddly enough, at the time of this interview, thirty-three years ago this past wednesday(9/25) was the passing of the Beast: John Henry Bonham.  If you're a drummer and you have to look up who he is, you should probably hang up your sticks.  Aside from him, who is my #1 favorite drummer and possibly biggest influence, there's Keith Moon, Clive Burr, Nico McBrain, Phil Rudd, Ian Paice, Carmine Appice, Mitch Mitchell, Ginger Baker, Al Jackson Jr., man, the list could be a mile long!  Pretty much most rock, soul, jazz, and reggae drummers from before 1979.
  I started playing drums in 1984 at the age of nine.  At first I wanted to play saxophone, but one day when my Dad had his drum kit out I started bashing around on it and from then on I was hooked. 
  The first band I was in was with my longtime friend Kevin Rheault and others, and I believe it was called Neeglans.  Not sure what the frigging name meant but hey, ya know?  I was thirteen and the other guys were twelve.  He, Dan Proietti and I were the foundation of a bunch of groups with various other members until about 1993-94.  More recently, Kevin has actually filled in for James, Tim, and Jeff, on separate occasions due to their family commitments.  Plus he plays a mean upside-down lefty bass and can sing like Bon Scott-- so with him around DKM sound checks are always rife with AC/DC covers. 

RDW: What is your history with the Twin City Hardcore scene Leominster and Fitchburg, MA.?
     MK: Well, the hardcore punk scene as most of us Twin City knew it started and was centered around the Club 490 on 490 Main Street in "lovely" downtown Fitchburg.  I'd always seen skateboarders and local punks and skinheads sporting Black Flag t-shirts and what have you since I was around 9-10 years old, but I was too young to know of anything going on gig-wise.  The first local hardcore show that we knew of  was February 3, 1990 at the Club 490.  It was Hearing Impaired(super-fast, hilarious hardcore from the North Shore), Backbone(Worcester band whose members went on to Cast Iron Hike, Bane, Doomriders, Blacktail, and God-knows-who-else), and Dawn of Rage(no idea what became of 'em but they were pretty good).  From that night on, I was pretty hooked on underground music.  Up till then it was the Misfits and maybe Exodus and some metal stuff for me, though I had heard of and was intrigued by the band Slapshot from an article Mike Gitter did when he was writing for RIP magazine, as well as being on the lookout for bands like Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, and Carnivore though sadly my local Strawberries Records and Tapes didn't carry those bands, or they never had them in stock. 
  Early on in the Club 490 days we had the bands Common Sense(which became Dive), Pressure Point(not the Cali band), which was kind of a skinhead-core band, Bound(which became Hatchetface), Get High, plus there were other bands in our scene like Opposition, Thingummy, Sunface, etc., and we'd all book gigs at "The 490", or spaces at the Wallace Civic Center, Eagles Halls, etc., whoever would have us.  Dive did a lot to promote our area and try and "recruit" kids to go to hardcore shows… which is what you had to do as moshing/slamming/skanking, stage diving, riding the crowd(or as MTV coined later, "crowd surfing"), were 100% foreign ideas to the "normal" kids at school.  There were rumors as to what went on at these hardcore shows, and I remember overhearing a conversation in which somebody mentioned "moshpitting"(haha):  "yeah I think like, they go to a sand pit and like, fight and listen to tapes". 
  This was before the internet and even before Nirvana broke the whole underground open, so there really was a total divide between the normal kids and us.  A lot of us would get in fights with the Puerto Rican kids because they thought that "skinhead" was automatically synonymous with  "nazi", so that was fun.  There was so little awareness about the underground; it was almost like an exclusive club for losers.  At the same time, when a friend from school would finally go to a gig, they'd be frigging psyched!!  There was so much enthusiasm and so little jadedness with things because you literally had to experience a hardcore show to understand it.  They'd go to a gig and it would usually just *click* with them, or they wouldn't get it.  That's how we got a lot of kids in there.  You couldn't watch it on Youtube or whatever and become an expert on it without even being there.   
  In addition to that, I helped put on a few gigs at the 490 and other places around the Twin-City area.  That's oddly enough the first time I spoke with Ken-- they were looking for a gig in Fitchburg. 

RDW: It’s come to my attention that you are very much influenced by the Oi!, and hardcore scene!  What bands do you like that are coming out today that you really enjoy and what bands did you enjoy growing up and influenced you? What major differences do you see in the Skinhead scene today then fifteen to twenty years ago?
MK: Right now, I'm digging MARABOOTS from France who just put out a new 10" "Dans la Nuit" on Une Vie Pour Rien Records-- very '80s French sound a la Camera Silens, etc.; the new(ish) "Mob Justice" by Boston's RIVAL MOB on Revelation Recs; the BOSTON STRANGLER LP, "Primitive"(self-released, look on eBay); LEGITIME VIOLENCE's "Nouvelle France Skinheads"(self-released) from Quebec; NO QUARTER's "Fight For the Moment" 7" on Lionheart Recs; plus some non-Oi! or hardcore stuff like the excellent Jah Faith / the Black Emeralds ‎– No Bother Grumble / Humble Dub single on Jandisc-- real killer old-style skinhead reggae stuff with "that sound". 
  As far as older stuff, there were almost all the original/classic Oi! bands and their European counterparts, the second and third generations of Oi! had some great bands, and then a few from the mid-'90s on like the Templars, Argy Bargy, Straw Dogs(UK), Superyob, etc..  For hardcore it was always the early '80s BHC scene, the early LA, DC, NYC, Chicagoland scenes, and then cool bands throughout the late '80s-'90s like Voorhees from Bradford, UK or Infest and that ilk in the early '90s. 
  As far as the skinhead scene goes, I suppose the internet has helped and hurt it.  I don't really see people with bar towels sewn on the backs of their flight jackets anymore(which is nice), and I think there's more interest in getting it right sartorially so there are less fashion nightmares walking around.  Topically I'd say that's it.  As far as peoples' attitudes toward each other, music, or whatever, I suppose that's down to the individual and their localized scenes.  I think that those of weak minds and are looking for a leader or an ideal to follow are getting more extreme Left and Right.  The scene gets hijacked by moronic ideologues who think skinhead is about taking some kind of stance for something that it has nothing to do with.  That sort of crap always goes in cycles/waves.  Screw it.  It's been done to death. 
RDW: Since we are about half way to St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the Lansdowne Invasion, what is it that you most look forward to on that weekend, and perhaps the least?  You guys definitely have gone back to basics this coming year with the five shows in four days at House of Blues.  Do you find it much simpler for the band that way?
      MK: Well it's great to see everybody and their mothers, but it's also tough to try and get a word in with everybody.  You have to kind of pace yourself as it's a 200+ person guest list of whom you know probably 75-80% and the rest want to talk to you anyways… so it's overwhelming as hell and you have to focus on what you focus on every other night:  playing the greatest set of your life that night. 
  Yeah, with doing these back-to-back House of Blues gigs, it's great to sleep in your own bed every night.  Not having to get up and set up my stuff every day and getting to sleep an extra hour or two is great, as is waking up next to my wife.
  Not saying that playing a different city every night isn't simple, but loading in one day and loading out 4-5 days later is great!!
RDW: In all the years of doing the St. Patrick’s Day shows, what year has been your favorite or has stood out to you?  And why? 
      MK: I think it was 2004 that Super Yob came and played with us at the Avalon(now the HOB), and then they played again later that night in Quincy at DeeDee's(clean ATM).  I had so many friends there from the UK, Belgium, France, Ireland, and from all over the US and Canada who came out, it just stands out as really special.  People met up at T.C.'s(RIP!!!!!) before and after the gigs, which was walking distance from Lansdowne Street, and a lot of friendships were struck up that exist to this day. 

RDW: The last two years on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, you guys played a couple small intimate shows and played two shows a night. The first year, you guys performed “Do Or Die” and last year, you performed “The Gang’s All Here”. What was playing those songs like in a small venue?  Did it bring back memories from when those records first came out?
 MK: Well, as much as I love playing giant halls in Germany and arenas in Amsterdam, the kind of gigs I like personally like to attend are in bars and smaller clubs.  The atmosphere is always a little more intense, a little more on-edge, and a hell of a lot more intimate.  Playing those albums front-to-back was a hell of a lot of fun for the band, especially for the guys who weren't there to play a lot of them back then-- and it was really cool to play songs that we had up until that point NEVER played live, like "The Only Road" off TGAH, or songs we hadn't played live in years like "Tenant Enemy #1", which come to think of it, we may have never done since the Do or Die record release show.  Wow. 
  I think the REALLY cool thing was to see so many of our friends from around the Boston club and bar scenes, who were kids when Do or Die and The Gang's All Here came out, going apeshit and singing along with such ferocity at those Harper's Ferry/Brighton Music Hall gigs.  It was like the Rathskellar all over again.  Talking to people afterwards, it really gave us an idea of how special it really was. 

RDW: Going back to 1999, as I look through history, a tour that really stuck out to me was the Unity Fest tour with Dropkick Murphys, Maximum Penalty, and Agnostic Front.  What was going on tour with all those bands like?  Any stand out memories from that tour?
      MK: Oh man, that was an absolute blast.  We did a month in the US with AF, US Bombs, and Maximum Penalty, and then a month in Europe with AF and Straight Faced(California).  Those were really some of the best times on tour I've ever had.  I mean, AF was the band that got me into the whole skinhead thing to begin with(via hardcore) and their first three and first live album are among my all-time favorites… so to tour with those guys was like a dream come true. 
  Memories:  fighting with club staff on Stigma's 43rd birthday in Barcelona and then getting cuffed and almost processed by Barca police; pelting dance club goers with bottles of urine in Berlin; filling in on drums for Agnostic Front when Roger couldn't get into Slovakia and Jimmy "the Lump" Coletti filled in on lead vocals; simultaneously projectile vomiting and (much to his amazement)holding a coherent conversation with Stigma about obscure early hardcore groups; almost getting molested by some creep in France, getting egged on, and trying to bottle him; Maximum Penalty dudes performing emergency "surgery" with a Leatherman and a lighter on their merch guy's severely infected, pus-squirting, impossibly ingrown toenail in a hotel room; drinking to excess and extolling the merits of the Wolfetones with Kevin "Bunny" Norton(then-bass player of Straight Faced, bassist of Boston Hardcore legends, EYE FOR AN EYE) on long European bus rides; man, the list could go on and on and on and on!!!!!!

RDW: What kind of kit do you play with?  I watched a video that it was custom made and you actually had the original skull from the Do or Die record on there as well which looked sharp.
 MK: Oh yeah, the fine gents at SJC Custom Drums did my kit up.  They're out of Dudley, MA and make absolutely beautiful drums.  This kit is a clear green acrylic with hand burned wood hoops.  They sound incredible, and look pretty sharp, too.  Yeah, they actually made shaped wooden DKM skull badges on the drums.  Absolutely gorgeous job; I was blown away when I saw them.   Also, the toms and snare from that kit were used on the SSIB album.   
RDW: Whats the goals for the band going into 2014?  Just tour continuously before and after the St. Patrick’s Day shows? 
MK: Well, to be perfectly vague: one of the guys is a new dad as of the last weekend of August, and another guy is going to be a new dad come the first week of February.  So between then we're all doing the family thing and enjoy being domestic; maybe strum a few chords now and then.  We plan on getting together sporadically, maybe once a week, to keep things fresh, toss around new ideas, etc.  This will also mark what is probably the longest break the band has ever taken from touring, a clean four months at home.  It's been   a couple weeks and I'm already stir-crazy!!!!  I'm sure I'll have something popping up to occupy my time soon though.  We're now putting together some US tour dates for the late winter/early spring, and some stuff in the summer, too.
 RDW: Any final words?
MK: Yeah, thanks a lot for the interest and the interview!  Excuse my rantings, I had a lot of coffee and was possibly high on fumes from doing my bathroom tiles over.  Those sorts of things gets me loopy.  All the best to you and for your blog, Nick.   Also, RIP Dan Boss.   

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! A review of "Speak Easy" by Cradle To The Grave

Hot off the presses, one Boston's own and finest punk rock and roll bands, Cradle To The Grave just dropped their first full length record, "Speak Easy" and I have a lot to say about it!  For anybody who has been paying attention to the rise of punk rock bands in Boston, most of you should have noticed Cradle To The Grave by now.  Featuring Drew Indingaro (Formally Lost City Angels), Paul Christian (Formally Far From Finished), as well as Julie Two Times who all use to be in New Alibis together. You also cannot forget Dave Norton and one bad ass fiddle player, Joe Wyatt. This crew of six make up the talent of Cradle To The Grave!  When the band first started, they initially released an EP of six songs where two of which are featured on this new release.  The beautiful thing about this band is that all the band members compliment each other not only as people but with their musical playing ability.  Its rare to see a band these days that can easily play well together on the stage and as people off the stage! 

The first track off of "Speak Easy" is titled "Draw The Line" and it is an intensified and climatic song to start the record which is perfect for this band.  The song starts off with a piercing lead guitar riff and the opening lines: "Looking on the inside, trying to find what I need.  Loneliness, just makes me want to scream!" And from then on, the band delivers a punch to the gut in full force.  Dave Norton lays it down hard on the drums while Drew, Paul, Julie, and Dave give it their all on vocals.  Track one races into track two with "Running" which is another intensified anthem.  This song's chorus makes it a catchy one with, "We've had enough of the garbage from your mouth.  The time has come, its time to run, lets see what you're about!" which makes the listener wonder what type of person the writer maybe hinting about.  Sometimes its just best to leave it up to the listener to decide!

As noted earlier, two of the tracks on this full length were originally released on the bands EP roughly two years ago or so. One track is titled, "Before The Dawn" and the other is "Despite Everything".  One thing that I can respect Drew Indingaro and company for is that (like any good song writer), they write songs that are easily identifiable to the listener.  The jingle, "Before The Dawn" is a number that can make you be grateful for the good times but also can get you through the hard times.  Everybody falls down in life, and often wonder if they will make it through the tunnel they may feel stuck in.  This song is extremely universal that sends the reassuring reminder, that "Its always darkest before the dawn".  Before anything gets better, you have to walk that extra mile in hard times to see the light.  As a band, they've made it known that they all have gone through their own personal struggles in life and aren't afraid to admit it through music and each other.

With the song, "Despite Everything", it tells a story of a relationship that may have gone wrong for anybody. Everybody in life has dealt with the situation of sour relationships, and failed friendship.   Someone would be lying to you if they haven't dealt with such a thing.  Lead singer Drew Indingaro belts out with help from his band mates, "Despite everything, we lost it all!  Despite everything, I'm glad you're gone!" which are words that can resonate with so many who experienced the lack of loyalty, turmoil, or the common disappointment in relationships of any sort.  Paul Christian's lead guitar playing abilities also compliment this song extremely well. 

Lastly, my personal favorite is the last track which is entitled as "Edge Of The World".  Like any good band, this song talks about the town they originate from which is the City of Boston.  They put an emphasis on the changes they see in the city and their lives as well.  If you have been around the Boston scene long enough, anybody can see the constant changes.  The line, "We breath it in, we breath it out. These streets aren't paved with gold, but broken cobble stones!" shouts out the trials and tribulations Boston has been through in time.  What this means, Boston isn't always a pretty place because it has that rough but honest feel to it and the bands from here aren't afraid to show its roots by any means necessary.  The chorus "We're reaching out, we're hanging on to the edge of the world!"shows how through thick and thin, not only the band but their friends have been hanging on for the ride and don't play to slow down anytime soon.  That my friends, is the representation of a tried and true punk rock band. 

Support this band and local music.  Cradle To The Grave are a band spirited of good times, honesty, with a dose of hard work and musicianship.  The dedication some of these members have proved through this band and former projects are more than just words but are actions.  In a world that is constantly focused around by the cheap plastic celebrities that are dubbed as heroes, its bands like this who are not afraid to show what is real and what is not. Cradle To The Grave shows that origination and honesty go a long way.  With that being said,this band is the real deal.  Get into now.  

Band Info:
Cradle To The Grace Official Website
Cradle To The Grave Facebook

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review of "Dreams From The Factory Floor" by Louise Distras

Louise Distras from London, England is an up and coming musician displaying the diverse musical range of her brand of folk-punk rock and roll!  Recently seen on stage with Boston's own  Street Dogs  while in Europe, and at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, England, Louise Distras packs a powerful but harmonious punch in her music. Her upcoming record, "Dreams From The Factory Floor" (Out Oct 30th!) has something for everybody and is worth listening to! Each song tells a story from her point of view and experiences. Like every good musician, she tells it how it is and isn't afraid to be 100% up front and honest with her fans.  From the upbeat and fist raising punk rock songs with her full band backing her, or some of her slower or solo songs, she does not disappoint!  If you are into the sounds and melodies of Frank Turner, Bob Dylan, Joan Jett and even Billy Bragg, go ahead and read on.

The opening track, "Stand Strong Together" is a cry for unity and an upbeat one at that.  The song talks about the importance of music bringing us together and standing strong in adversity  Louise on this first number has a full band plugged in backing her up and this is the perfect song to do it.  Not to mention, its an excellent way to open a record! Track one launches quickly into track two, "Bullets".  What I really enjoy about this song is that it is still upbeat but has a catchier and acoustic yet fast paced feel where as the first track had a more punk driven feel to it. Another stand out part of the song is the use of organs used in the beginning.  It gives its own sound without losing the integrity of the music.

Louise certainly isn't afraid to stray away from the typical three chord crash and burn technique as she displays her range of musical and vocal talent.  Slower ballads such as "Love Me The Way I Am", the acoustic sing along, "No Mercy", and the mid tempo yet introspective, "One Thousand Tears" shows that she can appeal to many different ears and crowds alike but can still hold a loyal following in the punk rock scene!  In my opinion, the catchiest of them all is "Shades Of Hate" because of the excellent guitar work from the intro and throughout the song!  The rhythm she keeps is constantly different from the typical up and down strum which is NEVER a bad thing because it keeps the song interesting and the listener interested.  And again, with the diverse types of instruments being used by her fellow musicians, how could you be not interested at all?!

What I respect about this musician is that she doesn't stray away from social issues in her country and is more than willing to speak out about the things that are important to her.  In today's music and entertainment world, the music that is being fed to us isn't entirely as important as many underground artists are.  Many underground artists tend to speak freely and openly about important topics that loom among us.  Louise speaks from the heart and shows she isn't afraid to go it alone either.  After all, shes doing her fans and listeners right by giving her all in everything she does because you can tell this is her number one passion in life- playing music!  I highly suggest this album for anyone of any musical interest in the folk, rock, punk range of things.  There is a little something for everyone in here and is an excellent person to look to as a DIY musician.

For fans of: Frank Turner, Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bob Dylan and the Clash!

Artist information:
Louise Distras Offical Website
Louise Distras Offical Facebook
Pre-Order "Dreams Of The Factory Floor" out on October 30th!