Sunday, August 9, 2020

Old City Shares Sample-heavy Singles "Pipebomb," "Nowhere" & "Get Sued" from Upcoming Self-titled Full-length Debut (Bandcamp)

Last time we featured graphic designer, self-described "crafty veteran Punk Rock curator," and producer Justin Mayer, otherwise known as Old City, he had constructed a mash-up EP fittingly titled BL_CK B_ST_RDS. Old City juxtaposed MF DOOM's villainous rhymes against the musical backbone of English Crust Punks, Doom for a double-dose of... Doom! We've been hearing rumblings about a similarly-minded Old City for the last few years, which would seamlessly meld together Punk/Hardcore & Hip-Hop. Said album has since been billed as "a Punk Rock Paul's Boutique," which, as The Witzard regulars will well know, is right up our alley! Old City has been gradually rolling out what, at the time, appeared to be stand-alone singles since October 1, 2019; it was, then, when Old City unleashed his debut single, "Get Sued" Feat. Tre Marsh & Olmec, which, somehow, managed to sample Green Day a whopping 32 times. Get it? "Get Sued," which, in part, samples Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends," was released when September ended on October 1st.

Soon after NOT getting sued over "Get Sued," Old City released "Nowhere," along with this message: "Rush-release for those in staying home or self-quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic #stayhome #gonowhere." It appears as though "Nowhere" is more so a non-album promotional single and will, likely, not be included within Old City's upcoming self-titled debut. However, it would seem "Nowhere" was cut from the same cloth as Old City's aforementioned full-length debut, effectively "weaving a seriously dense mix of disparate samples and awkward sounds pulled from Hardcore records and filtered through the machines." "Nowhere" makes use of a sampled culled from Reagan Youth and appears to have even received a coveted stamp-of-approval from the Punk Pioneers themselves on social media. Old City recently re-emerged with the next single from his debut, "Pipebomb," which, again features rhymes from Tre Marsh AKA Tr38cho. "Pipebomb" is a genre fusion that samples Dead Kennedys' "Police Truck" with production nods to 2001-era Dr. Dre, which duals as "a bitingly satirical commentary on the destructive nature of an unchecked police force in the modern day."

Buffalo emcee Tre Marsh "crawls through the distorted wasteland of genre: kicking wormholes into the tattered remnants of dusty hipster husks as dense beats pull on their tattered trucker hats and V-necks, all while dancing the eroding line between paying clever homage and absolutely roasting Hip-Hop's mash-up era," a press release explains. "Pipebomb" is now available on Old City's Bandcamp page, along with "Get Sued" & "Nowhere." Its release was accompanied by a companion black-and-white music video, which, unfortunately, is all-too poignant in these uncertain, terribly unfortunate times. Old City's self-titled debuted will be self-released on Sunday, November 1, 2020 and boasts appearances throughout from MURS, Olmec, Shawna Potter, Conflict, Jovan Landry, Tr38cho, of course, and more as-yet-to-be-named artists. Thus far, we've only heard three tracks from Old City's debut full-length, but we can assure you, it's gonna be unlike anything you've ever heard before!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Touché Amoré Return with Andy Hull-assisted "Limelight" from Upcoming Ross Robinson-produced Album Lament (Epitaph Records)

Late last year, Los Angeles-based Punks Touché Amoré shared a mysterious new stand-alone single entitled "Deflector" in both physical and digital formats. It was a blood-churning chunk of three and a half-minute Post-hardcore/Screamo produced by Ross Robinson, whose credits include At The Drive-In, Glassjaw, Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Slipknot. "We need to take a chance with the unfamiliar. Someone who would take us out of our comfort zone. Enter: Ross Robinson, a man who knows no comfort zone. I followed his career all through my youth to being a young adult. When we returned from our recent Midwest tour, we entered the studio to record a song with Ross and see if there was chemistry," frontman Jeremy Bolm shared within a "Deflector"-era press release, at the time. Right around the same time, Touché Amoré released another non-Ross Robinson produced stand-along single, "Green," as well as a newly re-recorded version of 2009 debut full-length, ... To The Beat of A Dead Horse fittingly re-titled Dead Horse X.

Now, after releasing a couple projects with their outer-Touché Amoré side-projects, Hesitation Wounds & Entry, Jeremy Bolm, guitarists Nick Steinhardt & Clayton Stevens, bassist Tyler Kirby, and drummer Elliot Babin have returned once more with the announcement of their fifth studio album, Lament. Yes, you guessed it, Touché Amoré and mega-producer Ross Robinson didn't just record one song together... they recorded a whole d*mn 11-track behemoth of an album! Along with the announcement of Lament, Touché Amoré have shared the first official single from said album, "Limelight," featuring Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra & Bad Books fame. "As the crescendo hits, Hull & Bolm are belting out on top of each other, Bolm shouts, "so let's embrace the twilight while burning out the limelight," the message of the song is revealed: the realization that the limelight may have held promise, but learning the obscurity of twilight is where you belong," explains a press statement. Touché Amoré's Lament is now available for pre-order in a number of different formats, via Epitaph Records, ahead of its October 9, 2020 wide release.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

TOBACCO Recruits Nine Inch Nails Frontman Trent Reznor for New Hot, Wet & Sassy Single "Babysitter" (Ghostly International)

Tom Fec is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based musician, experimentalist, and label owner of his own imprint, Rad Cult. Fec is the frontman of Experimental/Psychedelic Pop band Black Moth Super Rainbow, sometimes, known as Satanstompingcaterpillars. Since about 2008, Fec has released a plethora of music as TOBACCO, as well as Sbarro Hottopic. Tom Fec has, additionally released music as Demon Queen with Zackey Force Funk, The Allegheny White Fish with his brother, Ken Fec, and most recently, as Malibu Ken with long-time collaborator Aesop Rock. Fec's beloved recordings as TOBACCO have often featured a crew of unlikely collaborators, including Beck, emcee Beans, Felt (Slug & MURS,) The Flaming Lips, High Tides, The Hood Internet, Notrabel, Serengeti, and sole & The Skyrider Band. Now, TOBACCO has announced a new album, Hot, Wet & Sassy—Fec's first proper album since 2016's Sweatbox Dynasty—to be released on Ghostly International this Fall. Earlier this morning, TOBACCO & Ghostly unleashed the second single from Hot, Wet & Sassy, "Babysitter," featuring yet another unlikely collaborator, Nine Inch Nails (NIN) frontman Trent Reznor. Tom Fec & Trent Reznor, actually, have quite the interesting history together: Reznor once dubbed Sweatbox Dynasty the "RECORD OF THE YEAR" and took not only Black Moth Super Rainbow, but TOBACCO, as well, on the road as NIN's openers during their 2017 I Can't Seem to Wake Up Tour.

"I've always been an album guy and my albums are my zone, so Trent being on this one is one of the more meaningful things to me," Fec recently told Rolling Stone. "Now, he's melted into it. "Babysitter" is like one of those experiments I need to do every once in a while, to see how far I can push it within the constructs of writing a song, without just making noise. [It's] edging. Probably not that different from how Taylor Swift does it," he continued. It's interesting to hear TOBACCO & Trent Reznor together on the same song, but, to be completely honest, it's a bit hard to discern which voices belong to Fec and/or Reznor on "Babysitter." Both "Centaur Skin" & "Babysitter" are currently available to stream on Bandcamp, along with Hot, Wet & Sassy's album pre-order in a multitude of different formats and exclusive bundles. TOBACCO recently self-released a cover of Eric Carmen's 1987 Soft Rock mega-hit, "Hungry Eyes," which was originally included on the iconic Dirty Dancing Soundtrack. TOBACCO's Hot, Wet & Sassy is out Friday, October 31, 2020 on Ghostly International. Hot, Wet & Sassy is now available for pre-order on 125 super-limited edition MiniDiscs, via Tom Fec's own Rad Cult, as well.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Jazzsoon Speaks On New Beastie Boys & James Brown Strictly Cassette "Blend" Tape Beastie Brown Deluxe (The Witzard Interview)

"Beastie Boys + James Brown = Beastie Brown. Music is the sonic version of a person's soul. You can hear it in the vibes they create. If it hits you on the positive tip, you'll definitely Shake Your Rump. You might be head-bopping on the train caught up in the commuter headphone zone or be a B-boy up rocking on linoleum in the park while a DJ does his thing. Regardless of the situation, the Body's Moving to a Funky Drummer. You can't fight that emotional connection, so don't try. The rhythmic arts are an Ill Communication, no doubt about it. What you have right here is a labour of love mixed up with true passion from the Brooklyn icon, Jazzsoon. He's the living embodiment of all that's authentic New York City and that shines through in all his endeavours."

"Serious biz. It's a beautiful combination of The Three Bad Brothers That You Know So Well and The Godfather of Soul. A sonic enterprise like you've only ever dreamed of. It's musical royalty married in Heaven to create something majestic. So, press Play and prepare to embrace the re-invigorated Sounds of Science for 2016. Bare witness to Beastie Brown," Strictly Cassette wrote within a 2016 Bandcamp description. Now, nearly four years later, Jazzsoon has returned with a new, updated, and expanded version of Beastie Brown, fittingly entitled Beastie Brown Deluxe. We recently sent some questions over to Jazzsoon, via email, concerning both Beastie Brown (2016) & Beastie Brown Deluxe, which you can now peruse below.

I. What are some of the major noticeable differences between Beastie Brown (2016) and Beastie Brown Deluxe?

Jazzsoon: Two remixes with their instrumentals and two Bonus Beats not on the original tape.

II. What made you decide to re-visit Beastie Brown four years later as Beastie Brown Deluxe?

Jazzsoon: I had the extra tracks in the stash.

III. Now, are you at liberty to reveal which Beastie Boys & James Brown tracks you remixed/incorporated into Beastie Brown Deluxe?

Jazzsoon: You gotta buy the tape to find that out...

IV. What inspired the unique inner and outer cassette tape artwork for Beastie Brown Deluxe? Did you design it yourself?

Jazzsoon: That's my man, designer extraordinaire Mark B. He knocked that out first hit; it took no time. It's a flip of Billions [McBillions'] O.G. Hello Nasty cover.

V. How did you initially come up with the idea to remix, combine, and incorporate songs from both The Beastie Boys & James Brown on Beastie Brown/Deluxe?

Jazzsoon: I bought an album of Beasties acapellas from Kim's [Video & Music] in the city (R.I.P.) like 10, 11, or 12 years ago and was just sitting on it and what, actually, gave me the idea is something totally different.

VI. What do you currently have planned for your upcoming projects and releases?

Jazzsoon: I'm always working on something new; so, something new will be coming your way sooner than later.

VII. Do you have any immediate plans to ever try your hand at remixing any other Beastie Boys albums, in addition to Paul's Boutique?

Jazzsoon: Probably not. I gotta keep it moving to the next ish.

VIII. We saw you've already worked with NEMS on 2019's Gorilla Monsoon tape... but what additional emcees would you like to work with on full-length projects?

Jazzsoon: I don't know; to tell you the truth, there's so many, but who knows. I'm really not sweating that too much. We'll see what happens in the future.

IX. Do you remember the first time you heard Paul's Boutique? If so, would you mind sharing your thoughts on the album upon your first full listen through?

Jazzsoon: Yeah, I do. As a matter of fact, I really wasn't a fan of License to Ill too much, to be honest. So, just from that, I had them put in a certain box until a friend of mine played the Paul's Boutique record for me trying to convince me. I was hooked after that.

X. Aside from the songs you've sampled, remixed, incorporated, etc. into both Beastie Brown & Beastie Brown Deluxe, what's your personal favorite Beastie Boys track?

Jazzsoon: Definitely gotta say "Flute Loop" is my favorite Beasties song. I used to Rewind that over and over and over and over again. Not too far behind would be "Get It Together" Feat. Q-Tip.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New Jersey's Own Dan Weiss from Dan Ex Machina Breaks Down New Album My Wife Written In 2006 (All-around Breakdown Interview)

* INTRO/EXTRA I-II. What made you finally decide to record and release the recordings contained within both Pity Party Animal & My Wife, which were originally written between 2004-06, nearly 14-16 years later? How would you say your overall musical sound, style, point-of-view, etc. has changed and evolved since the release of Pity Party Animal earlier this year?

Dan Ex Machina: To tackle these both at once: The short answer is that I had bad, inconsistent, home-made, occasionally inspired "finished" versions of a few records recorded at the time they were written, both in dorm rooms when I was in college. I didn't know what I was doing, which was occasionally good for the imagination of the song-writing and arrangements. It was only in the last few years that I was able to revisit these projects—more than a decade later—and make them sound how I, also, wanted them to sound.

Thank Doug Gallo, New Jersey's best-kept secret and a complete genius, who adapted to a frightening number of songs suddenly being thrown his way, in all different styles, with recordings we often just taped over from more-than-a-decade-old sessions. I've always wanted these out, but lacked the resources, know-how, financial means, and contributors to fill in the spaces. Better late than never; I can't even tell you how it feels to finally complete projects from age 19 and 21 and release them at 35. I feel like [Guns N' Roses'] Axl Rose. My musical identity hasn't changed much in the six months between the release of the two, but it's changed plenty—how could it not?—in the 14-16 years since these were written.

01. "My 60 Memorable Games:" What can you tell us about this instrumental intro?

DXM: So, keep in mind, these are from 2006... so, I'll try my best to remember haha. This one is pretty much exactly the same as it was in 2006, other than being mixed and mastered properly. Doug [Gallo] might have added a little reverb. In college, people used to tell me I sounded like Ben Gibbard from Death Cab [for Cutie]. We have a similar vocal range, but I attempt far worse ideas than him. Anyway, I decided to rip off Death Cab & The Postal Service both on this one, though, Aphex Twin was a far, far, incalculably bigger personal influence on me, in general. I have thousands of electronic pieces in Fruity Loops from the last 20 years and it would be cool to release more of them someday.

02. "Admit:" How is a Dan Ex Machina (DXM) song, like "Admit," for example, constructed from start to finish?

DXM: This one I don't remember much about writing. It's my least-favorite song on the record... so, I guess, it's ballsy to lead with. I think, it was an early experiment in trying to sound dynamic, before I had a live band—which I didn't have until five years after My Wife was written. But I'm less protective of weaker songs, so I f**k around more with their sound. This one has both the drum loop and live drums, the blown-out fuzz bass in the verses, [and] various weird percussion elements—the bodhran is real. Anything to make it more interesting. But as with the other songs I was less "big" on—Doug really made them better than they had a right to be.

03. "Avril Lavigne:" Why name a song "Avril Lavigne?" And aside from Avril herself, who would you cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while creating My Wife?

DXM: I'm really proud of this song, musically, and I don't dislike it, lyrically, but it was intended satire that didn't age well—for whatever reason, My Wife is the only DXM record that attempts several strange "a$$hole-to-women songs" (I'm a big Warren Zevon fan and not against taking on this persona) that don't really work as the "commentary" I thought in college. This one's bratty—it was supposed be about manufacturing beef for no reason. Now, I feel a little uncomfortable performing a song live where I call Avril a "b*tch," even if it's tongue-in-cheek. The satirical target isn't clear enough. It rips live, though, this recording is significantly faster than the 2006 version and was completely re-shaped by us playing it live for years. But Avril's been through enough—Lyme Disease, the Nickelback guy. Her 2007 album, The Best Damn Thing, is really great.

04. "I Think You Should Consider Therapy:" What was your inspiration behind the lyrics for "I Think You Should Consider Therapy?"

DXM: Um, my family. My life would have been significantly more peaceful, if I had taken my own advice and started therapy closer to when this song was written. It's a complete rip-off of The Magnetic Fields and I'm very proud of it, not least because I did almost everything on this one, but, also, because I absolutely love The Magnetic Fields. I would love to do a whole Magnetic Fields album.

05. "Divorcée:" How does "Divorcée" fit into the overarching theme of My Wife?

DXM: It doesn't—My Wife is named after Borat, the most 2006 thing I could think of. "Divorcée" fits more with "I Don't Want Anything to Do With You" off of Pity [Party Animal]. They're Eminem-ish sh*tty songs about my, uh, difficult relationship with my mom. "Divorcée" is a nasty little joke about trying to convince my dad to divorce her. At the time, I think, it was the proudest I've ever been of something I've done—wrote it very quickly in my head without a guitar.

The pre-chorus melody is still one of my favorite things I've written and I can't believe I finally wrote one of those "[Smells Like] Teen Spirit"-style guitar solos, where it's just the verse melody. Those are classic and I'm happy to have one of my own. Only when we rerecorded it, did the idea come up for Doug to whistle over the guitar solo, though. I don't think I've ever heard a whistled "guitar solo" before. This one is far more of a complete satire than "Avril" and all of the above things, make me a lot happier with it, though, the bridge is kinda lazy. It's the official first single I always envisioned for My Wife, though, the video concept we started shooting, probably, won't be possible to complete until 2021.

06. "Plead Insanity:" Can you recall when you wrote "Plead Insanity" and if so, where were you when you wrote it?

DXM: Literally, no memory of writing this one. It didn't have a bassline until it got re-recorded with Doug and Ryan [Hillsinger's] bassline for it is absolutely genius. As for me, the guitar riff is a gift from a God I don't, actually, believe in. I have no memory of writing it, though, the guitar is, probably, a huge Ted Leo homage—I was listening to plenty of Ted Leo in college. Lyrically, this song's fine/servicable/whatever. Musically, I think, almost everyone in the band would agree this is the best DXM song. I can't imagine many reasons to not play it at every show.

07. "House & Home:" "House & Home" seems to be more of the least Pop-punk oriented songs... how would you categorize this song genre-wise?

DXM: Haha, if we're measuring me by Pop-punk, this album, probably, fails a lot of tests; I mean, there's Country songs on this record. You'll notice a pattern here, but I love the music on this one and I'm so-so on the lyrics, which were not the deep-expose of hypocritical Christians that I thought, at the time. It's kind of an Elliott Smith/Bright Eyes pastiche or, at least, my attempt at one. I do love the chorus: "I'm throwing a party and no one's invited / I'll toss back some drinks 'til I'm dead or enlightened" is way more impressive syntax than I usually had in me in 2006. I always felt it deserved a huge epic guitar solo—it's, also, my longest song—and it only finally got that huge, fake-Mike McCready [Pearl Jam guitarist] thing when I re-recorded it with Doug. I had to write that piece-by-piece and I still have to re-figure out what I was playing, so we can do it live.

08. "F**king Loser:" Who else contributed to "F**king Loser"'s recording process(es) and to what capacity for each player?

DXM: Yeah, this one's a dense song—the original recording was way too over-stuffed. Doug—I know this is one of his favorites—made it both breathable and epic. It's got cello thanks to his friend, Jack Carino, who did a great job and all kinds of strange buried guitar loops and synth strings, too. I had a brief fallout with a good friend, at the time, and this song takes a p*ss on him. We're good now. It's, probably, about people using each other, though, I've since written much deeper and more f**ked up songs with that theme.

09. "Pwnd + Stwnd:" So, what do you think Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny, and the gang from South Park would think of "Pwnd + Stwnd?" I mean, it's not Disintegration-era Cure, but...

DXM: You think it sounds like The Cure? I think, Kenny would like this song best because I'm not, actually, singing real words in it—took a page from [Pearl Jam frontman] Eddie Vedder's playbook with "Yellow Ledbetter," where the "lyrics" are just word-sounding things. No one loves "Pwnd + Stwnd" more than me because 1.) I played everything on it, 2.) including two(!) guitar solos with f**king wah-wah(!!) in 2006 that I don't think I'll ever replicate and we just grafted those on from the original dorm recording, and 3.) I rip-off OutKast's "The Whole World" (which, itself, ripped the horns off of Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth")—two songs I love a whole lot more than The Cure, I'm afraid.

10. "Spare Part:" If "Spare Part" were to be featured on a Spotify playlist with like-minded Alt. Country-leaning artists, who would you include and why?

DXM: I wouldn't include Alt. Country artists, except, maybe, Old 97's. I'd want it between Miranda Lambert & Kalie Shorr. But in 2006, I was definitely ripping off [Death Cab for Cutie's] "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" and [Bright Eyes'] "First Day of My Life," which are more "Alt." than "Country." It was very sh*tty of me to ruin "Spare Part" with the phrase, "score some poon," but in keeping with this by being my most obnoxious album, "Spare Part" is intended to make fun of love ballads by taking a heart metaphor to some kind of logical extreme—who needs a heart when "it's no good as a doorstop 'cuz it bleeds over the rug" lol.

The song got revenge on me when we re-recorded My Wife because I wanted to use the original slide parts with a nine-volt battery I'd never be able to re-create, but it turns out, the song was, originally, neither recorded to a metronome or in tune, so I had to manually move every single slide note to fit the new recording and pitch them correctly. Easily, the most manual labor I've ever had to do for a song. Totally worth it, though—it's probably my prettiest song; the first girlfriend I played it for cried. I think, it was the first song I wrote that made my dad take me seriously as a musician.

11. "Girl Who F**king Hates Me:" What made you decide to add cello elements provided by "jack" on "Girl Who F**king Hates Me," a unique element, which has not yet been heard throughout DXM's discography thus far?

DXM: Doug said his friend, Jack [Carino], played cello and I was not going to turn down the opportunity to have cello. "Girl Who F**king Hates Me" is too funny and stupid for me to feel weird about, like "Avril" or "House & Home," but it's another My Wife track that makes me sound like a Men's Rights activist and the joke doesn't land as intended in 2020. But it was a very simple song that got heavily decorated and now, it rules—"Drake" drums, Brittany [Fogel's] backing vocals, the cello, and fading out the Trap beat while fading in my drummer, Pete [Gotta]. While recording this, we learned Pete wasn't familiar with the term "four-on-the-floor." I love Pete.

12. "Better Black Days:" How has the meaning behind a deeply personal song, such as "Better Black Days" changed for you, personally, since writing it in 2006 and releasing it in 2020?

DXM: It's not as personal as "Divorcée," probably, but it's one of my most autobiographical songs. I just remember it came together really easily—the verse chords bite Rilo Kiley's great "Portions for Foxes" and even in 2006, I managed to nail the harmonies, which I was terrible at, and the counter-melodies on the synths under the chorus, which owe my favorite band, Dismemberment Plan. It's both kind of a basic song—all power-chords—and something I managed to write with an effortlessness in 2006 that I'd kill for now. It screams "third single in 1998." I think, it's Pete's favorite DXM song. We have plans for this one.

13. "Good Girls:" What's the intended meaning behind the line, "good girls don't do anything at all..." from nearly 8-minute album closer, "Good Girls?"

DXM: Like "Avril," "Girl Who F**king Hates Me," etc. the gender stuff in this song plays horribly now. My Wife was loosely conceived as a break-up album; it was written as one two-year relationship was dissolving into another that, also, ended up lasting two years. "Admit" was a break-up song with the reveal at the end that I'm singing from the woman's perspective. "Good Girls" has nothing to do with, like, the archetypal "Drake" use of the words "good girl" or some outdated gender role-binary thing. I now know it makes a lot more sense, if you take "girl" out of it—every line is about something exciting that "bad" partners do and the chorus—where "good" ones don't do anything at all, is supposed to be about the perception that healthy partnerships are boring.

Amazingly, I've had a lot of bad, unhealthy partnerships since this song. I learned a lot about stability and red flags in the 14 years between this song being written and released. It, also, has one of my dumbest lines ever—about a scrunchie on your best friend's door? That's total misogyny, so f**king dumb. And with all the light misogyny on this album, that was intended to have a half-a$$ed satirical point-of-view, at the time, that line wasn't part of it, it was just a lazy oversight. I love My Wife, but I'm glad to get my 21-year-old self off my chest. Excited to clear the backlog and contribute songs to the world that have sharper points to make. My 21-year-old self had some riffs, though.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Drowns' Rev & Andy Wylie Talk About Under Tension, Working with Producer Ted Hutt, The Seattle Kraken & More (The Witzard Interview)

The Drowns at Pirates Press Rock The Ship 2019 (CREDIT: Robert Taylor)

"I first met Rev when his band, Success, were supporting my pals, 7Seconds, on a West Coast/Pacific Northwest tour during the Summer of 2015. I was tagging along for the California dates and had the pleasure of getting to know the guys from Success over those few days. I remember, after they played their set in Reno, Rev was so excited that there was a pit during their set. They brought so much excitement and positive energy to the tour and were absolutely solid dudes all the way. I did everything that I could to catch up with Rev & The Gang anytime they were in town after.

Over the next few years, I had heard that Rev was working on another band called The Drowns and when he sent me the demo for their first record, View from The Bottom, it was clear that something special was about to happen. The Drowns have their own style and sound that would appeal to any Punk & Oi! crowd and beyond. It wasn't long before they were picked up by Pirates Press and I knew that we were all-in for something great. That greatness came soon after in the form of their sophomore record, Under Tension."

- Penned By: Robert Taylor (@rtaylor138)

I. What might you cite as some of your most unlikely sources of inspiration and influence while writing and recording Under Tension?

Andy Wylie: Lyrically, I would say we were heavily inspired by the political and social climate we are living in, at the moment, and the way that it has affected us as people, as well as the world around us. Musically, we drew on a lot of different influences. I, personally, was listening to a lot of Agent Orange, The Damned, Buzzcocks, C*cksparrer, and a bunch of old Rock "N" Roll stuff, like The Zombies, Dave Clark Five, Warren Zevon, and Tom Waits.

Rev: We're both huge 50's Rock "N" Roll fans. There is definitely a lot of that in there. Those are, actually, my favorite elements of our songs. And, obviously, a bunch of Street Punk & Oi! Vanilla Muffins, Stiff Little Fingers, and Blitz are big ones for me.

II. How did you guys initially get in touch with Ted Hutt (Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Gaslight Anthem) to produce your sophomore album, Under Tension?

Rev: Our drummer, Jake [Margolis] has worked with Ted before when he was in the band, Madcap. Jake reached out to Ted about The Drowns and he was totally into it.

Wylie: Not only is he a brilliant producer, ho has made a lot of our favorite records, but he, also, knows his stuff when it comes to making great Rock "N" Roll. The guy is the epitome of cool!

III. Who's part of the current line-up of The Drowns and what's each members' role in the band?

Wylie: Rev is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter. I (Andy) play bass, sing secondary vocals, and write, as well. Jonny [Wade] plays guitar and sings back-up vocals. Jake [Margolis] plays drums.

Rev: Andy brings the cool. Jonny chugs the beers. Jake tells the dad jokes. And I look for fast-food places to stop on the road haha.

IV. What have you guys been up to since Nation-wide quarantine/lockdowns started... any signs of new Drowns material?

Wylie: We've been doing a lot of writing and passing song ideas back-and-forth. Rev & I did several acoustic livestreams on our social media pages, so we could continue to do what we love and connect with all of our friends that we were planning to see on the road this year, before everything went sideways. Jake has been posting his excellent drum covers on his Facebook & YouTube pages. Other than that, we've mostly just been trying to stay safe and healthy and spending time with our families.

Rev: Haha, ya. I've, also, I've taken it upon myself to get pneumonia for over a month, which I wouldn't recommend. But other than that, like Andy said, we always try to write. And it has been nice to settle for a minute and focus on family life, though. That sort of thing can be rare for us.

V. What made you decide to release "Demons," "Black Lung," and "Wolves know The Throne" as stand-alone flexi-disc 7-inch singles on Pirates Press Records and why this unique format?

Wylie: The single choices were decided collaboratively between the band and the label. As far as the flexi format, Pirates Press are very good at utilizing that technology in cool ways. They have been doing really interesting flexi-singles for other bands on the label for years to great success and we were really excited that they wanted to do some very creative and visually stunning flexis to promote Under Tension. They, also, created a fantastic printed 12-inch vinyl single for Hold Fast/Demons that dropped before the full-length that just blew us away. For my money, no other label can touch Pirates Press, when it comes to vinyl innovation.

Rev: Ya, Pirates Press really took the lead on that. They are great a knowing what songs need a little more attention on a record. And we fully trust their opinion. They are more involved than any other label we've ever worked with and we truly appreciate how much they care about what they do and our music.

VI. How would you, personally, say The Drowns' sound, style, and overall aesthetic as a band has changed and progressed since 2018's View from The Bottom?

Rev: I think, we had a sound in our heads that we wanted to convey and we've gotten closer with each recording; but we've really loosened up and just let it rip this last year.

Wylie: I think, we found our musical direction while touring on View from The Bottom. We learned what elements work better than others live, what seemed to resonate with audiences, and how to play to each other's strengths. That helped us refine and guide our writing. As far as style and aesthetic, we just do what appeals to us. No costumes or gimmicks. Just Working-class Rock "N" Roll.

VII. How do you guys feel about Washington's newly-announced hockey team, The Seattle Kraken? What Drowns song would you suggest they chose as their team anthem?

Wylie: We are stoked! Rev, especially, is a big hockey fan. He got us all watching the games while we are on tour. I'm looking forward to seeing The Kraken in action! As for an anthem, I think, "The Sound" would be a great one. It's a love letter to Seattle and has an anthemic feel. The closing song from Under Tension, "Battery Street," would, also, be a solid "team" song. Big sing-able chorus, plenty of Seattle love in the lyrics.

Rev: I'M BEYOND HYPED!!! I'm a huge hockey fan and a born Washingtonian; I've been waiting for this my whole life. I've already got tickets! I'm taking the whole band to games! And I agree, I think, "The Sound" would be perfect for a "goal" song or when they come out on to the ice. "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!"

VIII. Now that Under Tension has been unleashed into the terribly unsuspecting world, what do The Drowns have planned next?

Wylie: We had planned to do a lot of touring this year to support the record. Unfortunately, COVID put a stop to all that, so we are focusing on writing new music. As soon as it is safe, we will be getting back on the road, as much as possible.

Rev: We have a ton of plans for next year (all things considered.) We will have some announcements coming soon enough. We don't stop working. Fortunately, we are stubborn.

IX. We've been running a recurring column called Guts of The Ice focusing on Puck Rock/Hockey-core (or Hockey Punk) bands on our site these past few months. So, assuming you guys are hockey fans, what would you consider some of your personal favorite Hockey Punk anthems and rink-rousing classics?

Rev: My team was The Bruins, until a few days ago, so "Time to Go" by The [Dropkick] Murphys, for sure. And "I've Got An Ape Drape" by The Vandals is an unsung hero of Hockey Punk songs.

Wylie: I don't have a particularly deep knowledge of hockey-themed Punk... Hanson Brothers are cool.

X. What's the meaning behind your band name and what were some of the runner-ups before you guys settled on "The Drowns?"

Wylie: It's fairly open to interpretation. To me, it evokes a feeling of being overwhelmed or enveloped. To give in to something completely, whether that's a feeling, a sound, or an experience. The only other name that I remember kicking around was "Bakersfield," but once "The Drowns" was suggested, that was it.

Rev: Ya, we knew immediately when we heard it.

XI. So, Under Tension plays out perfectly and is sequenced wonderfully, in my opinion! I've always been curious: how did you decide on how exactly to sequence the album's tracks? About how many tracklists did you go through before settling on the final sequencing order?

Rev: We really, really focused on it for a while. There was, also, a lot of back-and-forth between the whole band and Ted [Hutt]. We really valued his opinion on that; but we, probably, take that kind of a thing way more seriously than most bands these days. We still believe an album should be an ALBUM, not just a collection of songs with no flow.

Wylie: We listened to the songs in every conceivable combination to find the best sequence. Each of us came up with our preferred sequence, then, compared and fine-tuned until it sounded right. We made a conscious effort to structure the songs in a way that would lend itself well to vinyl. We wanted a strong opener and closer for each "side" with a natural flow between songs. As record nerds, it was important to us to make the kind of record we would want to listen to on our turntables at home.

XII. Can you tell us a little bit about the Under Tension album artwork? What's the white part in the middle intended to signify/represent? It kind of evokes some Damaged-era Black Flag vibes, too!

Wylie: This record is very much a love letter to our favorite early British & American Punk Rock influences and we wanted the art to reflect that. Rev worked closely with our friend, Curtiss, who, also, helped with the View from The Bottom artwork, to create something that is eye-catching, simple, but immediately recognizable. I can't, personally, speak to the symbolism, but, I think, you know what you are going to get when you look at this album cover. Gut-punching, high-octane Rock "N" Roll.

Rev: You nailed it. We just wanted a harder-looking cover for the serious nature of some of the lyrics and to catch the eye of folks, who might dig what we do. It's, also, an homage to records we love. We really have Curtiss Lopez to thank for the art and concept. When you need a curmudgeon of a man and one Hell of a designer, he's your guy. (Love you, Curtiss!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

3 Feet High & Rising: New Emcee Visitor Shares Debut Offering "Fruit Day 1," Via Exclusive Cold-sent Emails (The Witzard Interview)

Last week, we received a mysterious cold-sent email including only an MP3 entitled "Fruit Day 1" and the above image. It was attributed to a new artist going by the name of Visitor. From our understanding, said song, "Fruit Day 1," was sent out to a selection of parties, who might have been interested in listening to, writing about, sharing it, etc. Honestly, that's about all we can say, at the moment... but those well-versed in Underground Hip-Hop might hear something a tad bit familiar. However, it's easy to see Visitor is a well-versed, introspective emcee, who sincerely loves and enjoys what they do. Some of our personal favorite lines includes: "if he's tryin' to come correct, then, hit me up and, maybe, we'll connect. You'll wind up interviewin' for the few and the select. Better pay your dues or you know who will come collect. And though it's entertainin', I am not an entertainer. When I'm not on the scene, I steam zucchini with a strainer..." Visitor was kind enough to answer a few of our questions for an impromptu interview, which you can now peruse below, along with an exclusive stream of "Fruit Day 1."


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Hip-Hop/Boom-Bap Enthusiast

I. What's the significance behind the opening line of "Fruit Day 1," as transcribed below? "Here is to your health. I'm not Homeboy Sandman. I am someone else..."

Visitor: Pretty straight-forward. Just wanted people to know right off the bat that I'm not Homeboy Sandman. I could see there might be some confusion, given the circumstances, so just wanted to clarify off top. As far as the "health" line, the song is good for you, not like unhealthy rubbish cats be listening to.

II. What can you tell us about your debut single, "Fruit Day 1?"

Visitor: I did a 90-day anti-candida diet, which allowed for barely any fruit. The only exceptions were lemons, limes, coconuts (but not the water,) and avocados. Evening of the last day of the diet, I began this song. The following day, I finished it. It was my first day having fruit in three months. It was "Fruit Day 1."

III. Now that "Fruit Day 1" has seen a limited release, what do you have planned next?

Visitor: What do you mean, "limited release?" Every release in the world is a "limited release," unless every single person in the world receives it, right? So, I don't understand calling my song a "limited release." It's released. I texted it to people. I emailed it to people. It's released. Don't be trying to call my release "limited" just because I released it how I wanted to, instead of the way you figure things should be released. I don't have anything planned next. I'm working with a beat currently that K-Nite did. It's really beautiful. I'm hopeful God sends me some music for it. I'd be very grateful.

IV. Who produced "Fruit Day 1" and what inspired its thought-provoking lyrics?

Visitor: It's a Diamond D [Diamond & The Psychotic Neurotics] beat from Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop, co-produced by Large Professor. I re-formatted it just a bit to rhyme over the part he uses as the "hook." I've been feeling inspired lately. God has re-shaped my life. Renewed my faith, renewed my vigor, and given me lots to think about.

V. What would you cite as some of your major sources of inspiration and influence behind "Fruit Day 1?"

Visitor: Diamond D, watermelon.

VI. Where can people go to stay updated on whatever you may have planned next?

Visitor: I don't know. I guess, they could come to my apartment, but most people don't know where that is.