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.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Don't Panic Frontman Ted Felicetti Talks About Self-released 2020 Singles Series & Year-end Album (The Witzard Interview)

"What happens when you mix a couple of guys who grew up touring in Punk bands, but listening to Classic & 90's Rock? We don't know either... but the outcome seems to be Don't Panic; a Rock "N" Roll band through and through. Formed by Ted Felicetti (vocals/guitar,) Keith Slader (bass,) AJ Larsen (guitar,) and Anthony Paesano (drums) the band started from a mutual love of just making great fun music, free from the restraints of focusing on being commercially viable. Drawing heavily on influences, like Foo Fighters, Lit, White Reaper, Millencolin, Tom Petty, ELO, Face to Face, Butch Walker, Rival Schools, and many others. Don't Panic's first music video for their song "Fall of '99" was released everywhere March 20, 2020 with a new song released every six weeks for the remainder of the year."

I. What prompted Don't Panic to re-form around 2019 after an extended hiatus?

Ted Felicetti: It had been a long time since I had played a show or went on tour. We went on a hiatus in 2012... so, it was seven years of no touring, no shows, and, honestly, being pretty distant from the music community in general. In the spring of 2019, my brother, Rob (who is the bass player in the band Bowling for Soup) invited me to tag along on their US co-headline tour with Reel Big Fish. So, I purchased a flight, met them out in Florida, hopped in the tour bus, and proceeded to have the most fun I have had in over 10 years... when I got home, I realized how much I missed writing songs, playing shows, and making my own music. I called the guys up and everyone was on board to get back at it.

II. How does the new iteration of Don't Panic differ from the My Fairweather Friend (2009) era of the band?

Felicetti: I guess, the biggest differences would be first that our main focus became on just writing great music and having fun. If it's not fun, then, we are not gonna do it. We are all in our mid-late 30's; we have careers and lives outside of Don't Panic, so we, literally, only are spending time on it because it's something we want to do. Second, I'd say, musically, we've become much more open to trying new things, as well as not being afraid to lean into playing some styles of music we grew up on and things we have not done before.

III. So, what have the Don't Panic fellas been up to during Quarantine/Lockdown?

Felicetti: We've, honestly, been trying to stay busy. The band itself has been doing acoustic streaming shows on Facebook & Instagram, we stream the band hanging out playing trivia, we did a full concert live from the recording studio, and have been recording new songs and some other material. I, personally, have been spending more time doing podcasts, interviews, home improvement projects, and watching 90 Day Fiance. AJ [Larsen] & Anthony [Paesano] have been working their jobs, respectively. AJ is a sound engineer at a recording studio and Anthony a Black Jack dealer at The Casino. And Keith [Slader] has been gearing up for his move down South and working on his writing.

IV. What prompted you guys to release a new stand-alone single every six weeks since February 2020? Why release them as separate singles, rather than a cohesive EP?

Felicetti: I have to give the credit for this to my friend, Jaret Reddick from BFS [Bowling for Soup]. I originally wanted to release a full album and he strongly suggested we stretch our content out throughout the entire year instead. People's attention spans have been stretched to capacity, so having something new all year long has really been a huge boon for keeping our band front and center in our fans' minds. With an album or EP, a lot of songs get lost in the sauce... and we are so excited about each song we release, we want to make sure each gets the attention it deserves.

V. How was your latest music video for "Regret Is A Terrible Roommate" created?

Felicetti: It was shot from each of our homes on our iPads and phones. Then, we sent all of the footage to our friends [at] Ionic Development, who, then, edited and spruced it up.

VI. What were some of the primary sources or inspiration and influence behind your "Fall of '99" music video?

Felicetti: I got the idea, initially, from one of my favorite movies, Back to The Future. In the beginning of the movie, Marty's band auditions for the school battle of the bands and they are turned down because it's "too darn loud." So, I knew I wanted to parody that in some way. Then, the concept of us playing all of the characters and using silly costumes, etc. was taken from the Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly" music video. So, that was, basically, the ground work.

VII. How were your Official Lyric Videos for both "No Time for Second Chances" and "Sheep In Wolves Clothing" created?

Felicetti: The "NTFSC" ["No Time for Second Chances"] lyric video was, actually, made by a kid in Indonesia that I found on Fiverr. "Sheep In Wolves Clothing" video was made by a guy named Jason Keith out in Texas.

VIII. What's next for Don't Panic... are there any more singles to be released or is "Regret Is A Terrible" your last release for the time being?

Felicetti: Lots of stuff coming up! We have a new song coming out in six weeks from now on Sept. 4th and then. another single coming out on Oct. 16th. Then, on Black Friday in Nov. the remaining four songs we recorded will be released, along with all the music we released this year as a full LP. We are going to continue doing streaming concerts and acoustic shows, as well as band hang outs, etc. online from our social media, as well, throughout the year until we are FINALLY allowed to get out and start touring and playing shows again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Gorillaz Return with ScHoolboy Q-assisted Song Machine Season 1 Episode 5 for PAC-MAN's 40th Anniversary (Parlophone Records)

For the past few months, Damon Albarn & Jamie Hewlett's long-running "cartoon" band, Gorillaz, singer 2-D, bassist Murdoc Niccals, guitarist Noodle, and drummer Russel Hobbs, have been trickling out new songs sporadically during Quarantine. As part of their ongoing Song Machine series, Gorillaz have released numerous "Episodes" (songs) and "Machine Bitez" including "Momentary Bliss" Feat. slowthai & Slaves, "Désolé" Feat. Fatoumata Diawara, "Aries" Feat. Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order) & Georgia, and "Friday 13th" Feat. Octavian. Plus, Gorillaz shared another non-Song Machine song by way of "How Far?" Feat. Tony Allen & Skepta in tribute/homage to Damon Albarn's long-time friend and collaborator, Allen, who, unfortunately, passed away back in April at the age of 79. "Song Machine—the cartoon music contraption, which spits out brand new episodes fresh from the studio, as and when they happen—will see Gorillaz joined by an exciting and ever-evolving roster of as-yet-unannounced collaborators captured live in Kong Studios alongside the world's most successful virtual band. The cameras are rolling 24/7, the fourth wall is broken, the kettle is on, the chaos is real, the door is open... what's coming next? Stay tuned, explains a press release. Albarn and his virtual bandmate, 2-D, additionally, appeared together on Jimmy Kimmel Live performing a socially-distant remotely-recorded rendition of Song Machine, Episode 3: "Aries."

"How Far?" was recorded in London prior to world-wide Lockdowns and, now, it appears as though Gorillaz recorded one more song before everything shut down; "produced by Prince Paul, Remi Kabaka, Jr. and Gorillaz and recorded in London just before Lockdown, "PAC-MAN" Feat. ScHoolboy Q comes on the 40th anniversary of the much-loved iconic game," said press release continues. It's Gorillaz first time collaborating with one-time De La Soul producer Prince Paul, as well as Black Hippy emcee and Kendrick Lamar affiliate ScHoolboy Q, but Remi Kabaka, Jr. is a long-time collaborator. Kabaka is a music producer, art director, percussionist, and voice actor—providing the speaking voice for fictional drummer Russel Hobbs— who officially became Gorillaz's drummer and producer in 2016. "PAC-MAN" was recorded and released by Gorillaz to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the iconic video game's May 22, 1980 debut. "PAC-MAN" sees the band feel the effects of an arcade game procured for Kong Studios by Gorillaz bassist Murdoc Niccals & ScHoolboy Q in mysterious circumstances, resulting in some unexpected cartoon visitors. Gorillaz's "PAC-MAN," as well as all five previous episodes of Song Machine, can now be viewed on YouTube and across digital streaming platforms, via Parlophone Records.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #20: Dropkick Murphys Drummer Matt Kelly (The Witzard Interview)

Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and THE RAMOMS' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

So, those of you who know me personally will know that my wife and I welcomed our first-born, Peter Joseph Horowitz, into the world 10 days ago on Sunday, July 5, 2020 at approximately 5:31am after about 20 hours of labor. He's an incredible little boy, but, as expected, he's taking up the majority of our time lately... so, I'm imagining I'll be posting features a little less regularly than usual here on The Witzard. However, with that said, I've been sitting on this latest installment of Guts of The Ice for a few weeks now. Long-time Dropkick Murphys drummer, hockey fanatic, and fellow father Matt Kelly is our latest interview subject in this ongoing Puck Rock/Hockey-core series. Kelly been in the band since 1997 upon original Dropkick drummer Jeff Erna's departure and has played on every recording since their 1998 Hellcat Records debut, Do or Die. Matt Kelly, along with current members Al Barr, Ken Casey, and James Lynch, played across Dropkick Murphys' 2003 Hellcat album, Blackout. It showcased rink-rousing classic, "Time to Go," which has been The Boston Bruins' theme song/anthem ever since. Thus starting a 17-year and still ongoing relationship between Dropkick Murphys & The Bruins. We spoke with Matt Kelly about all things Bruins, Puck Rock/Hockey-core, hockey-related, and much, much more down below.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

01. How did you guys initially get hooked up with The Boston Bruins? What made them choose "Time to Go" from Blackout as their theme song?

Matt Kelly: Hey, how's it going? Pretty sure they approached us when Ken [Casey] and I were season ticket holders (Ken still is...) this was back in '02 or so. Since Ken knows everybody in town, I presume that he got talking with somebody from The Bruins and this idea was put into action. Wicked vague answer, I know, haha.

02. "Time to Go" was issued on promotional CD for The Bruins, as well as Fat City Presents: One for The Ages! 7-inch with The Vandals! What's the story behind both of these releases?

Kelly: We were on Hellcat/Epitaph and, of course, there was a close link with The Vandals—Joe Escalante was the entertainment lawyer for Epitaph Records, at the time. Both bands have a love for hockey, so we figured why not? Fat City, a magazine covering the Ska & Punk scenes, approached us for a "themed" 7-inch. The Bruins, as discussed above, were put into headlocks by us to make our "Time to Go" single happen!

03. What made Dropkick Murphys decide to include "Nutty (Bruins Theme)" on 2002's "Live On St. Patrick's Day? It's a rendition of B. Bumblebee & The Stringers' "Nut Rocker" co-written by Kim Fowley (The Runaways' manager,) correct?

Kelly: Well, back in the "olden days," when there were Channels 2 (Public,) 4, 5, 7, 38, and 56 on TV, The Bruins were always on WSBK TV-38. The intro music was the song, "Nutty" and it, being part of Boston history, just seemed like a cool little ditty to throw down. I remember hearing that as a little one and then, "stay tuned for Dana Hersey and The Movie Loft directly following The Boston Bruins broadcast..." or something like that. The version of "Nutty" we went off was a cross between The Stringers' version and Emerson Lake & Palmer's rendition. Here's a glorious reference of the actual inspiration.

04. While doing research for this very feature, we noticed The NHL Network ran an exclusive preview/premiere of "Paying My Way" from Dropkick's 2017 effort, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. How did this collaboration end up coming about?

Kelly: Basically, through our continued, but occasional, relationship with the team. Although, we'd been addressing it and seeing it with friends and family, the "dirty little secret" of opioid addiction and deaths were finally being addressed by the powers that be. The song, "Paying My Way," was a sort of shout-out to those suffering battling addiction and those on their road to recovery. Opioids and opioid addiction were (and still are) a huge problem...

05. During our previous Guts of The Ice interview with The Boils' Greg "Boil" Boyle & Eric Endrikat, Greg explained, "...when we had our meeting with The Flyers, we were allowed to leave to call our lawyer, which we didn't have, so I just called Matt [Kelly] from DKM for advice." Do you recall said phone call and if so, what did you tell Greg?

Kelly: Hahahaha, oh, man, I DO remember that call!!!! We're still great friends with Greg & The Endrikat Brothers and their bands, THUNDER & GLORY and Legion 76. I speak with Greg, Eric, and Chris regularly. Now, let's see... damn, my addled brain-box is yielding me very few actual details from that phone call!!! Wow, getting old sucks... let me see... I know I gave them ideas for a ridiculous list of "demands," like the old "green M&M's" rider thing and unlimited tube meats and Yuengling in their Wells Fargo Center Luxury Box. They kept asking me if I had any idea when the next time The Flyers would hoist Lord Stanley's Silverware and I told them, "if The Flyers dared win again, then, the next year would be our year!" hahaha.

06. Aside from your own band's music, what other hockey-themed groups, releases, singles, etc. would you recommend, as well?

Kelly: I know there are a lot of Pop Punk bands from The West Coast, who are hockey-themed, but that musical style really isn't my cuppa joe. One slightly hockey-themed/referenced jam that I dig is "Carte Blanche for Chaos" by the legendary Anti-Heros. Excellent song from a GREAT album, American Pie. This was in very heavy rotation during early Dropkicks van days. Also, though, I never in my life thought I'd love a Techno song (*vomits*) "Kernkraft 400" is The Bruins' goal song... gets my heart pumping every time, even only due to association and no love for typical garbage Techno music. I remember being at party of my wife's work friends during the Post-season (Bruins were in it, yeah) and they had some cruddy Dance music on and on comes "Kernkraft 400" and I just think to myself, "alright! Now, THIS is a good jam!"

Aside from that, there were some pretty decent Hardcore bands, like 5 Minute Major, etc. Of course, right here in Boston, since 1985, we have the mighty SLAPSHOT. I first saw a review of them in RIP Magazine in 1987-88 (not sure) and it showed Choke [Jack Kelly] in a flannel shirt on-stage at The Rathskeller. He was giving the mic to a couple punters to sing along, brandishing half a hockey stick in his other hand. The stick was in the process of coming down on their heads! As an 11-12-year-old kid, I thought, "yup, I already know this band rules!'" Hockey is my favorite sport, bar none, but hockey lyrics and aesthetics don't make or break a band for me. I don't know of many Hockeycore/Puck Rock bands out there that I'm goo-goo-ga-ga over; plus, it doesn't help that I'm kind of a music do*che/snob.

07. So, speaking of SLAPSHOT, how did 1999 comp. Boston Drops The Gloves: A Tribute to SLAPSHOT on Dropkick Murphys' now-defunct Flat Records initially come together? How involved was SLAPSHOT and their then-label, TKO Records, to help coordinate said Hardcore/Oi! comp.'s release?

Kelly: Well, TKO & Flat had a thing going for a while; TKO would manufacture and distribute Flat releases. I don't know, SLAPSHOT was a very big deal in BHC [Boston Hardcore], a "super-group," and a full-on touring band, so all we young kids looked up to them and, of course, loved the music. They were so intrinsically Bostonian, they, basically, represented Boston Straight-Edge Hardcore: fast, violent, Power-chord Rock with a dose of Oi! and early US Hardcore Punk. Dangerous and confrontational, like a lot of kids from these neighborhoods.

We had been covering "I've Had Enough" and a bunch of other Street Punk, Oi!, and Hardcore bands covered SLAPPY songs—so, the band [was] sort of a unifying factor between the various newer bands from different, but concentric, circles. I believe that old Dropkicks associate Mark Vieira came up with the idea for this compilation. Until then, it hadn't been done. It just seemed obvious that this album HAD to be made. That era was a whole lot of fun, man. Anyways, thanks a lot for the interview! I hope my frail attempts at humor translate over The World Wide Web... and let-s get that NHL Post-season cranking! Can't wait! LET'S GO, BRUINS!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Who Is Clutchy Hopkins? Part I: An Investigative Feature On The Mysterious Man Behind The Dusty Beats Penned By Mike Love (

TLDR [too long; didn't read.] Is it cool for me to dig into Clutchy's true identity? I think, it is and here is why I think so. Who is Clutchy Hopkins? Part 1: I don't claim to have any knowledge of who Clutchy is. I developed a thought experiment to try to put my thinking into context, as follows...

If you reasonably imagine that there is a broad spectrum of artists, who release their art for public consumption to any degree and wish to chart them somewhere on that spectrum, you would have to establish the furthest extremes of that spectrum before you can place any individual artist within those boundaries. It isn't an arbitrary construct in that it could possibly describe the reality of the artist's intent. This is a broad model and it comes with the basic assumption that it could be useful in determining where artists lie within the spectrum. The model is subject to criticism and interpretation. I find it useful to categorize the extremes within the thought experiment as artists who seek maximum exposure on the left end of the spectrum and artists who seek zero exposure on the right. I don't think it is credible to apply uni-variable dimensions, such as economics, to determine any individual artist within those boundaries.

The thing I like most about Clutchy Hopkins is the music. Any time I encounter something that moves me, I want to know more. This is a basic human attribute that I think any of us can relate to. If Clutchy intended for people to seek out his identity, he did a fantastic job building a mythology that effected and possibly relied upon, the listener to take on a greater meaning through the mythology. There are many examples of artists building a mythology around their art to affect the listener/viewer/observer in all types of media and commercial endeavors. Movies (Marvel Cinematic Universe, Detective Comics Extended Universe, Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters,) television shows (LOST, Westworld, Watchmen,) and novels (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant By: Stephen R. Donaldson, The Wheel of Time By: Robert Jordan, The Hobbit By: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Gardens of The Moon By: Steven Erikson,) all invite us to explore beyond the the individual film/show/literature/album to delve into the mythology.

The development of mythology does not require any artist to satisfactorily conclude said mythology in a way that is pleasing to those who consume it through any media. It does, however, welcome further inspection from those who have interest. Imagine creating a puzzle that CAN be solved and inviting others to enjoy the satisfaction of solving that puzzle. In this example, there is a complete picture that is intentionally jumbled, so that others can arrange the pieces in a prescribed way that, ultimately, results in a satisfactory completion (many video games, puzzles, ideologies.) There are other types of puzzles, though; those puzzles do not ascribe to any particular solution based on a finite cause-and-effect relationship and are not posited as such. They seek to engage participants in an ongoing narrative, whereby the artist and the consumers of their art affect change and, effectively, respond in a way that allows both of them to construct a new and evolving narrative. If the introduction of the Clutchy Hopkins mythology was designed to engage me in a way that leads to an ultimate clearly defined solution, then, I have failed to do so and requires me to investigate further. If the introduction of the Clutchy Hopkins mythology was designed to encourage me to be involved in a participatory narrative, whereby the artist and I contribute to an open-ended dialogue, I am engaged. I am engaged whether there is a definitive answer to "Who is Clutchy Hopkins?" or the question is part of an ever-evolving meta-narrative.

In the event that you wish to delve as deeply as is possible into the music itself (and the information available associated with those releases,) you can seek out all recordings currently established as "canon" from the artist known as "Clutchy Hopkins" and draw a conclusion about the identity of Clutchy. In this scenario, one could reasonably believe that there is a finite solve to the puzzle, if all of the predefined pieces are available and invite the listener to draw a finite conclusion. Whether or not that conclusion is in fact an artist's intent is irrelevant in that the puzzle is finite and leads to either a definitive conclusion, which the artist intended or it leads to an erroneous conclusion that the artist did not intend. This is the simpler of the two types of puzzles and presumes that the artist intends to close the loop, at some point, with either a definitive conclusion or an open-ended conclusion that is subjective by design. If, however, you wish to go beyond the music itself and delve into the mythology the artist has created and the artist's intent is to engage in an evolving meta-narrative, then, any level of engagement from the listener with that mythology is by the artist's design.

If Clutchy wants, at some point, to be identified without identifying himself, that would support the idea of a finite conclusion, actually, existing. At some point, someone will dig deeply enough to come to an either satisfactory or unsatisfactory conclusion about his identity and the conversation will shift to furtherance of the objective of bringing the question to a close with or without his input. That would be a finite conclusion to the question of his true identity, in that there is an intended conclusion, which may or may not be true, but the question itself will be open to interpretation. The invitation to engage in the mythology allows us to speculate about the artists intent, arrive at our own conclusion, or engage in an ongoing narrative that further propagates the meta-narrative. I posited all of these thoughts to clarify my reasons for taking the next logical step in either solving a puzzle with a finite solution or engaging in an ongoing meta-narrative. Both perspectives are equally valid and both invite further inspection.

- Mike Love (

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Witzard Premiere: 80HRTZ's Iron Maiden "Wasted Years" Remix Featuring Johnny Crump & B. Dolan's "KItchen Sink" Remix Contest Entry

Last we heard from Massachusetts' own 80HRTZ, he was producing "The Ghost of Route 44" as part of BRZOWSKI's 2019 odds-and-ends-style comp. BLooddrive, Vol. 4. Prior to that, 80 had produced a full-length album alongside fellow Bay Stater and emcee Purge dubbed WHERE THERE'S SMOKE... However, The Witzard regulars might remember 80HRTZ from his inexplicitly infectious genre-fusing remixes of The Misfits' "Astro Zombies" & Dead Kennedys' "California Über Alles" both premiered right here at The Witzard, respectively, featuring DJ Halo & Shortrock. Now, 80HRTZ has returned with his next similarly-minded remix concocted exclusively for The Witzard: Iron Maiden's fourteenth single, "Wasted Years." Maiden originally released "Wasted Years" in 1986 as the lead-off single from their then-upcoming synth-laden album, Somewhere In Time. 80HRTZ's "Wasted Years" fuses together Iron Maiden's beloved 80's Heavy Metal sound against his own unique Heavy/Melodic Hip-Hop stylings.

"Wasted Years" has since been repeatedly covered by Less Than Jake frontman Chris DeMakes, Ryan Adams, female-led tribute band The Iron Maidens, Dee Snider (Twisted Sister,) George Lynch, Bob Kulick & Jeff Pilson with Jason Bonham, and plenty more. 80HRTZ's "Wasted Years" remix, however, is vastly different from any of the aforementioned covers and features scratching, cuts, etc. from UK-based turntablist/producer Johnny Crump. In addition to "Wasted Years," 80HRTZ has recently uploaded a remix of B. Dolan's "Kitchen Sink" from Fallen House, Sunken City (2010) for a remix contest. 80HRTZ has previously concocted remixes of B. Dolan's "Earth Movers" & People's Choice Award-winning "Stay Inspired," as well as Aesop Rock, Ghostface Killah, Run The Jewels, and SHREDDERS. 80HRTZ's Iron Maiden "Wasted Years" Remix Feat. Johnny Crump is now streaming exclusively on The Witzard. Additionally, we've put together a Soundcloud playlist called 80HRTZ's Greatest Remixes Collection showcasing some of the aforementioned selections.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #19: Drunk Bastard vs. OFFSIDE REIDARS (The Witzard Interview)


Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and THE RAMOMS' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

For this week's installment of Guts of The Ice, we have a head-to-head face-off style interview featuring Drunk Bastard (Spag) from Two Man Advantage interviewing Jari Mikkola, Juha Tuiskuvaara & Jari Körkkö from Beerleague Hockeycore band, OFFSIDE REIDARS. Jari M. Juha & Jari K. are, actually, all part of a notorious Finnish beerleague hockey team called Reidars, as well. Both Spag & Jari Mikkola participated within previous installments of Guts of The Ice... but this time, we have the full 3-man line-up of OFFSIDE REIDARS. Two Man Advantage have been active since about 1997 and are based out of New York, while OFFSIDE REIDARS have only been around since 2019-20 and are based out of Rovaniemi/Lapland, Finland. Spag's questions cover everything from hockey/band positions and favorite Finnish players to OFFSIDE REDIARS' self-titled debut mini-LP. It's definitely one for the books when it comes to Cross-continental Hockey Punk/Punk Rock-themed interviews! OFFSIDE REIDARS' debut mini-LP is now available in Finland, via Hiljaiset/Roku Records, on limited edition vinyl and digitally on Bandcamp for the rest of the world. Spag has mentioned he's planning to host a Two Man Advantage mega-show with a bunch of the bands mentioned within Guts of The Ice once this whole COVID-19 Global Pandemic is over and concerts can be safely hosted/attended again. So, that's something to look forward to!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

01. Drunk Bastard: Please, give your name/position and instrument?

Jari Mikkola: Jari Mikkola/Defense, guitar and vocals.

Juha Tuiskuvaara: Juha Tuiskuvaara/Defense, bass and backing vocals.

Jari Körkkö: Jari Körkkö/Forward (Left Wing,) drums.

02. Bastard: What is your favorite NHL team?

Mikkola: Probably, Montreal Canadiens [Habs]. The first NHL game I saw was a Habs home game at Bell Center, Montreal. That was a memorable evening. And, at the moment, I like The Nashville Predators, too. They have lots of Finns on the team. And they have Pekka Rinne!

Tuiskuvaara: Any team with lots of Finns... Carolina Hurricanes.

Mikkola: Oh yeah, that "bunch of jerks" is one of the favs, at the moment, also.

Körkkö: Detroit Red Wings. The 90's Detroit Red Wings with the dominating Russians.

03. Bastard: Would you like to see The NHL expand over to Europe?

Mikkola: Global Series is enough. More afternoon games over there in The US & Canada would be nice.

Tuiskuvaara: Yes, Global Series are enough.

Körkkö: Same.

04. Bastard: Out of all the Finnish players in The NHL past and present, who would you say is the gamesaver and why?

Körkkö: Is "gamesaver" a goalie, or can it be any position?

Mikkola: Jari Kurri. Wayne Gretzky would not be as big as he is without him. Esa Tikkanen for trash talk. Pekka Rinne & Tuukka Rask of the goalies.

Tuiskuvaara: Pekka Rinne or Tuukka Rask.

Drunk Bastard: How does Teemu Selanne, "The Finnish Flash," not make the list. Over 600 goals. He would make my list!

05. Bastard: Which NHL goalie was known for blocking shots with their face, but he claims that his mask saved him of over 500 stitches?

Mikkola: I can't remember the name now, but I remember the image of the mask where he drew all the stitches...

Tuiskuvaara: Dunno.

Körkkö: Same.

Bastard: I guess, since you are Hab's fans (Habs blow, by the way) you may have forgotten Boston Bruins' Gerry Cheevers. By the way, he hates Carey Price and loves Tuukka!

Mikkola: Our song "Block The Shots" was partly inspired by P.K. Subban. When he was traded to The Predators he said that "I will block a shot with my face for these guys." That's the attitude!

06. Bastard: Which Finnish NHL goalie was/is the best at covering the 5 Hole and what do Finns think of The NHL Shootout? Name your Top 3 Finnish Shootout Shooters.

Mikkola: Tuukka Rask. NHL Shootout is fine, but I would not mind seeing The Spin-O-Rama back. 3 Top Finnish Shootout Shooters: Alexander Barkov, Patrik Laine & Joonas Donskoi. By the way, Donskoi came once to see a Reidars game!

Tuiskuvaara: Alexander Barkov, Barky Barkov & Sasha Barkov

Körkkö: Same.

Bastard: Saku Koivu, Olli Jokinen & Jussi Jokinen.

Drunk Bastard (Spag) SOURCE: NO ECHO

07. Bastard: It's game day and you are hung over. Coach wants to put you on The Starting Line, but you got the sh*ts. How do you prepare for The Big Game?

Mikkola: Something with caffeine. Lots of it. I am anyway always in The Starting Line, so I am used to it.

Körkkö: One cold beer for relaxing... to get the edge off.

Tuiskuvaara: One beer is just fine.

Bastard: Got to agree with Jari K.: You got to take the edge off before you get in the game!

08. Bastard: Which one of you guys is the best trash talker? What are some of your best chirps?

Mikkola: Juha is the best thrash talker. He once got a team award for being The Bully of The Year. Best chirp? "F**k off to Lapland League!" (Lapland League is the first semi-pro league above our beerleague.)

Tuiskuvaara: Jari M. is the best at that. Best chirp: "You're in the wrong league, dude!"

Körkkö: Juha is really bad when he is in the mood.

09. Bastard: Which NHL player do you fear the most of standing in front of a Slapshot from him? What was the worst injury you had on the ice or stage?

Mikkola: Shea Weber's slapshot kills. Worst injuries: broken nose and broken ankle. Worst stage injury: electric shock from an electric arc that knocked me out totally for 10 seconds. You are supposed to get your heart checked right after this kind of incident, but we were on tour and it took a week before I got my heart checked... I think, it was a lucky re-boot for me.

Tuiskuvaara: Slapshot by Patrik Laine on a bad day. Injury? Broken toe and a 4-inch cut from a hockey blade. Nothing on stage.

Körkkö: Worst injury: I lost three teeth once. A broken wrist. Nothing on stage.

10. Bastard: Is Global Warming killing pond hockey and what can we do to fix that?

Mikkola: Yes, it is. We have seen the winters getting shorter... for years now.

Tuiskuvaara: Yes, it is a fact, not Fake News! We need all the people to take part to fix it. COVID-19 is not that bad for climate. Maybe, hockey should be played more outside; the halls and arenas are, probably, part of the problem...

11. Bastard: Who is the worst player in your band and why can't he play?

Tuiskuvaara: I am not the worst, but the breakthrough season seems to be always ahead, year after year... but you two, you both suck!

Mikkola: Yes, I suck. I'm, obviously, too old for hockey, but I just can't let go. I'm slow and my shots are amazingly slow butterflies. But, then again, the surprise aspect of my poor shots is one of my strengths! Or, so I have been told by our goalies...

Körkkö: I am, probably, the worst. "Feet But No Hands" has been one of my nicknames. And I can't see properly without my glasses. I see three pucks, instead of one.