Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Anderson .Paak, Justin Timberlake & Anna Kendrick Join Forces for "Don't Slack" Music Video from Trolls World Tour (RCA Records)

CREDIT: CALMATIC (@CALMATIC)

Trolls World Tour is the long-awaited sequel to wildly-successful 2016 film Trolls. Based on the popular line of Troll Dolls, Trolls 2: World Tour stars Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ozzy Osbourne, and Rachel Bloom. It also features the voices of Anderson .Paak, George Clinton, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Sam Rockwell, Icona Pop, Ron Funches, J. Balvin, and Kenan Thompson. According to a Universal Pictures synopsis, Trolls World Tour is centered around Queen Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) discovering that there are different kinds of Trolls scattered across six different lands, each devoted to a different genres of music: Pop, Funk, Classical, Techno, Country, and Rock. Amidst The Coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic, Trolls World Tour will be released on home video/streaming platforms this Friday, April 10, 2020. Trolls World Tour's accompanying soundtrack, executive produced by Justin Timberlake & Ludwig Göransson, features contributions from SZA, Esther, Parliament-Funkadelic, Haim, Dierks Bentley, Red Velvet, Anthony Ramos, and the aforementioned stars. DreamWorks/RCA Records have released two songs from said soundtrack, so far, SZA's "The Other Side" and Anderson .Paak's "Don't Slack," both featuring Justin Timberlake himself. For us, at least, "Don't Slack" sticks out as a song that will easily transcend its affiliation with Trolls World Tour, due in part to Andy & Justin's involvement and sheer top-notch musicality.


"I hope he doesn't mind that I'm gonna say this right now, but we talked about a possible joint project," Timberlake recently told Beats 1 Radio DJ Zane Lowe within a recent interview upon "Don't Slack"'s initial release. "I don't have an agenda to make an album... but if it comes together, then, it comes together. In the meantime, I just want to stack records with people I love and that I'm inspired by," Timberlake explained, adding that he's recorded a "Chicago House record" with Lizzo. Yesterday, an accomplishing music video for "Don't Slack" was released starring Anderson .Paak & Justin Timberlake with co-star Anna Kendrick. It was directed by frequent .Paak collaborator CALMATIC, who has previously worked with everyone from FUN. to Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus. It's an extremely fun, live-action music video accented with Trolls-reminiscent computer animated elements throughout. "Sidebar: Trying to get two of the most talented people to focus when there's instruments around is impossible," CALMATIC quipped on Instagram. Below, you'll find some additional background information from director CALMATIC himself from a behind-the-scenes feature posted on his blog entitled "FULL CIRCLE." CALMATIC & Anderson .Paak—then, still known as Breezy Lovejoy—first worked together in 2010 on a clip simply titled "Draws Song" attributed to The Breezy Lovejoy Band. Trolls World Tour will become available for $20 on digital streaming platforms this Friday, April 10, 2020. It's companion soundtrack will, presumably, be released Friday, as well, on RCA Records.


"If someone would've told me 10 years ago, that I would be directing a music video for Anderson .Paak & Justin Timberlake, I wouldn't have believed it. I don't think A.P would've believed it either. 10 years ago, I met Anderson for the first time; he was going by Breezy Lovejoy, he had dreads and he was performing in front of, like, 40 people in a small whole-in-the-wall spot in Leimert Park. At the time, I was going around filming all these performers for my blogs and when I seen him playing the drums and rapping at the same time, I was in awe.

I got his number and we connected and shot a video for a song and I got paid $200, which at the time, was a gold mine. Sidebar: we never finished the video, so, technically, I owe A.P $200. We went on to excel in our lanes and meet back up for the "Come Down" & "Bubblin'" [videos]. Fast-forward to today: we're releasing a music video with Justin Timberlake for The Trolls Soundtrack. WTF?!

Check out the brand new music video, Anderson .Paak x Justin Timberlake - "Don't Slack" starring Anna Kendrick, directed by CALMATIC. [Appreciate] everyone involved with making this all come together in a short amount of time. And weirdly, this video is prophetic for what's happening in the world now. Working with Anna was pretty special, too; a true rider and a flawless actor. The real MVP. Working closely with DreamWorks on the VFX side was amazing, as well. This one is special in the fact that it put in perspective how far me and A.P have come. Full-circle moment, indeed."

- CALMATIC (@calmatic)

CREDIT: CALMATIC (@CALMATIC)

Monday, April 6, 2020

Sulu & Excelsior's Steve "Sulu" Mallorca Talks Making-of The AntiMatter Suite & "Spacesuit" Music Video Premiere (The Witzard Interview)


"The AntiMatter Suite is a "photon torpedo" of creativity during these tumultuous times. While the songs come from the same quadrant as Eddie Romero, the urgency of how they materialized are, no question, a response to how a lot of folks are feeling these days. Leave it to Sulu to turn this energy into beautiful music that, not only moves the spirit, but the body. Although, there are a few more guest contributions to this chapter, what you hear is the artist's vision undiluted. Let's not downplay the fact that this ENTIRE work was written, produced, played, arranged, recorded, edited, and mixed by Sulu. Check out any of the BTS [behind-the-scenes] videos on YouTube for a glimpse of the process.

Early transmissions of the songs were already potent, when shared with The Bridge Crew. When Sulu sent me the demo and backstory for "Spacesuit," I was able to hear the scratches I wanted to add to the song very clearly. Tracking was finished in an hour or so with stems sent soon after. When I heard the mix a day or so later with cuts in place, I was amazed at how close it was to what I had imagined. When the conviction behind the music is powerful, it makes collaborating that much easier and the feeling is like smashing matter and anti-matter together to create the energy needed to go to warp speed."

- Foreword Penned By: DJ Mas (@musicbymas)


EXCLUSIVE THE WITZARD x SULU & EXCELSIOR "SPACESUIT" MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERE!!!

I. How long after your debut album, Eddie Romero, did you start conceptualizing and recording its follow-up, The AntiMatter Suite?

Steve "Sulu" Mallorca: The first song I wrote for The AntiMatter Suite was "You Don't Mind Me Sayin' That," which I, actually, started writing a few months after releasing Eddie Romero. It became a staple of our live performances pretty quickly. We even filmed a live performance of the song as one of our potential entries to the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest (though, at the end of the day, I ended up choosing to enter our song "Up to You" to the contest.) After that taping, I started to write the remainder of the songs that became The AntiMatter Suite in Summer 2018. I usually, start out writing on the piano, then, building my beats to that and going from there. Some songs had final rhythm parts (bass, keys, and guitars) tracked by Winter 2018. By Spring 2019, I had most of the songs demoed out and started to track my final vocals and horn parts, though, there were some songs that I didn't start writing until Summer of 2019.


II. Thematically, how does The AntiMatter Suite relate to Eddie Romero... or are they two entirely separate album arcs/narratives?

Sulu: From the album covers to the lyrical style and music composition, there's, for sure, a consistent theme and feel to them. However, The AntiMatter Suite definitely has a different narrative from Eddie Romero; some of the more sociopolitically-centric themes that only appeared on two or three songs on Eddie Romero are, basically, the main theme of the entire AntiMatter Suite. Every song on The AntiMatter Suite was written after Tr*mp took Office and as the news and world got more and more surreal and chaotic, I couldn't help, but write about it, as my own way of processing how I felt. However, instead of writing an overtly "political" album, I wanted to do it more metaphorically and play off of old Soul/R&B lyrical traditions. For example, the track "Lady Libby" is written to play as an unrequited love song, but it's about when the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, gave the warning to Oakland's undocumented immigrants about impending ICE Raids.

"My Own Volition" & "AntiMatter" play off of classic "your man's doing you wrong"-type lyrics, but [are] really about how so many people don't matter to this Administration, but still, so many people keep their love for this President and it's a bad, abusive relationship that folks just can't get out of. "Mad Dog Magic" is about Former Secretary of State James "Mad Dog" Mattis. Other songs aren't as specific about the politics and [are] more about mind state and general thoughts during crazy times. "How Can I Lose My Mind" is about trying to deal with the 24-hour news cycles. "Find Another" is my twist on Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin,'" where I muse about escaping this planet and finding another world with loved ones, but told with the Sulu & Excelsior twist of Star Trek and other Sci-Fi references. "You Don't Mind Me Sayin' That" [is] about keeping optimistic, when things get tough. "Spacesuit" is about my two sons and raising them during these times. I can go into even more specifics for all the songs... but that would be a Wu-Tang Manual-esque manuscript! (EDITOR'S NOTE: The Wu-Tang Manual was, actually, one of our primary inspirations behind this interview!)


III. What did you ask to show with the various BTS (Behind-The-Scenes) videos recently uploaded to YouTube? Will there be additional installment in this series, as well?

Sulu: Unlike the first album, I made a concerted effort to record more of the recording process of The AntiMatter Suite. While I wasn't able to get everything, I did get enough to get a feel for my recording style and how I played a bunch of different instruments. So far, I've cut two, one for each of the music videos I released. I've got a lot more footage for other songs, so I'll definitely be rolling those out.


IV. How did you come to meet and collaborate with Hiro-a-key, the lone guest on The AntiMatter Suite, who's featured on album stand-out, "Find Another?"

Sulu: Hiro-a-key is an incredible Hip-Hop/Soul artist based in Tokyo. He is a childhood friend of DJ Mas, the DJ for the live Sulu & Excelsior band, and, also, a key advisor behind-the-scenes for Sulu & Excelsior. I, actually, met Hiro about eight years ago, when he was one of the actors I directed for a commercial film project—and it was Mas, who casted Hiro for the part! Fast-forward to when we shot our first Tiny Desk Contest video in 2018 and Hiro, actually, helped out on the shoot as one of the location sound recordists. He was a blast to be around and he seemed to really dig the music, as well. Going into The AntiMatter Suite, we knew we wanted to keep strong ties with Japan, where we were able to release our first album on CD and vinyl in their major retailers. Mas mentioned the idea of, maybe, doing a duet with Hiro. After listening to Hiro's music, it became pretty apparent that "Find Another" would be a great fit and he just KILLED it on that recording. After a few emails back-and-forth, we were going to try to do it all remotely with Hiro recording in a studio in Japan, but, then, things got real when he, all of a sudden, said he'd be in NYC. Of course, we HAD to capitalize on that, so he spent the day at my studio, not only recording his vocals, but, also, shooting the music video. It was a great day!


V. There wee a companion short film created for The AntiMatter Suite's Release Party, as well, right? Do you plan to, for lack of a better term, chop up said film and release separate music videos for each track?

Sulu: Yeah, we screened The AntiMatter Suite "visual album" at the Album Release Party and it went over really well. And the intention after the Release Party was to release a bunch of the "visual album" as stand-alone videos. So, it was a ton of work up-front, between finishing up the album and, then, shooting and editing almost 30 minutes-worth of music videos! But, now, the content's all made and I can just release them piece-by-piece. At this point, I still have at least three more videos ready to go and a bunch of others than I can tweak to be stand-alone videos.


VI. So, can you tell us a bit about the "whole stripped down remix album" full of songs from both Sulu & Excelsior album recently added to your Bandcamp page? How did this idea come about?

Sulu: The stripped down idea, actually, first started when we released Eddie Romero in Japan digitally. To differentiate from the physical release, we put out a couple of Alternate Mixes of songs only on Japan's digital platforms. So, I've had some of these Alternate Mixes around for a while and recently, decided to make a whole bunch of them available on Bandcamp-only, as a bonus for purchasing The AntiMatter Suite. I totally get that most people will be listening to the album on Spotify or Apple Music and the like, but I did want to give a special reward or incentive to listen and purchase from Bandcamp, as it's my favorite platform for Indie artists (and it gives the biggest cut to the artist!)


VII. Who plays in the current live Sulu & Excelsior line-up and what is each player's role? Again, The AntiMatter Suite album is primarily just you, though, correct?

Sulu: Like Eddie Romero, I played all the instruments on The AntiMatter Suite, but I did manage to bring on some good friends from the live band on the recording this time. Adam Charity AKA AC AKA Twig recorded guitar on "You Don't Mind Me Sayin' That;" Masaki Yamagata AKA DJ Mas laid down scratches on "You Don't Mind Me Sayin' That," "AntiMatter," and "Spacesuit;" Joel Bernardo AKA Bernard O'Reily was gracious enough to lay down some Fonky-a$$ bass on "Mad Dog Magic," "You Don't Mind Me Sayin' That," and a particularly beautiful performance on his electric upright bass on "How Can I Lose My Mind."

The live band in the past year has manifested in a few different sized ensembles, from the Quartet formation featuring the aforementioned players, all the way to the Sulu & Excelsior Big Band featuring the Quartet players, plus, a horn section of: Sam "Hotel" Podell on tenor sax, "Moat Caitlin" Kopcik on alto saxophone/flute, Kenji "Ken The G" Naruishi on alto sax, and dual percussionists Paul "Cybernetiko" Martinez & DJ Boo Jenkins (who's, also, a ridiculously talented DJ and drummer!) We've, also, had guest performers, like DJ Un-G (from P.I.C.) JRae Charity (from Delusions of Grand Street & The Charitys,) and the one and only Cindy "Mrs. Sulu" Torres-Mallorca (who co-wrote Sulu & Excelsior's holiday song, "The Over Under.")


VIII. How did you come up with the concepts behind your "AntiMatter" & "Find Another" music videos released during this album cycle?

Sulu: The crazy thing is that I came up with those two videos, as well as five other videos for the visual album, all pretty much in the same span of time of late Summer into October 2019. Since my "day job" is being a film-maker, I'm always thinking up Sulu & Excelsior visual concepts that I can do with limited budgets, but still have a good amount of production value. In the case of "AntiMatter," I knew I wanted to have the feel of a house-party, but with a more cultural angle—combining the idea of the Harlem Jazz parlors (basically, Jazz clubs in people's apartments) with the family parties I grew up with—different generations of people eating, drinking, and dancing. For "Find Another," I had the visual idea for a while and played with it a few times and when I found out Hiro-a-key could be here in-person to record and film, I knew this visual idea would work with him and it would enable me to shoot things in a way that could make the most of my limited time with Hiro.


IX. Now that The AntiMatter Suite has been out in the ether for a few months, so what else do you have planned for the album roll-out? (ie: 7-inch singles, more music videos, live shows/streams, etc.)

Sulu: The initial plan was for a 7-inch, but given the uncertainty now, I have no idea when that will happen. I definitely will be releasing, at least, another three music videos, but I'm really leaning on doing more than that, if I can shoot more. And live shows, for sure—before NYC shut down, we had show shows coming up in May, one of which was a free outdoor NYC gig. So, that would've been great, but it was cancelled. So, now, I'm looking at doing, at least, one live-streamed show, most likely, solo Sulu, like this year's [NPR] Tiny Desk Contest entry video. I've been wanting to explore the idea of a solo show for a while, so this is probably the time to do it! We're, also, going to be messing with a couple of "quarantine" performances with, at least, the Quartet or Trio of players all playing from home.


X. What were some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence (be they musical, personal, artistic, etc.) while recording The AntiMatter Suite?

Sulu: One of my biggest influences is the whole 90's Native Tongues crew—[A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul], Jungle Brothers—not only in their lyrical sensibilities, but, also, their mindset of experimentation and taking multiple genres of music and making them work together into their own thing. And that's kind of what happens when I'm writing, I'm making songs that are influenced from different genres that have been the soundtrack to my life, from my Dad listening to Nat King Cole & Johnny Mathis in the car; to me writing screenplays in film school to Al Green; to my high school friend giving me a dubbed cassette of The Beatles' White Album; to me playing trumpet in high school Jazz band and marveling at Arturo Sandoval on The Mambo Kings Soundtrack.


XI. Can you, please, tell us a bit about the image on The AntiMatter Suite album cover? Does it have any type of direct relationship to the Eddie Romero cover?

Sulu: The album cover of The AntiMatter Suite means a lot to me, just like the cover of Eddie Romero. Both are images that I grew up with, burned into my brain. On this album, it's, actually, a snap of my Mom & Dad, before they were married, before they were even dating. It was in, as my parents would call it, their "courting" stages. My Dad visited my Mom at her work in this picture and I love how you can see their body language in it. There's a progression from the Eddie Romero cover into this—on Eddie Romero's cover, my Dad is single and chilling with his boy (my Uncle Manny) listening to records. On The AntiMatter Suite cover, my Dad meets my Mom, who'd, eventually, be his life partner and they'd have a family and the whole nine. So, trying to show some sort of progression of life from album-to-album. Along those lines, I have some ideas of the next album cover...


XII. Through all of our previous interviews and conversations, I don't think I've ever asked this... but what's the current status of your OTHER band, P.I.C.?

Sulu: P.I.C. is, as I often describe, "The O.G. Mothership Band" for Sulu & Excelsior and we were, literally, kids when the original core members started the band. I was just 18! So, it's cool to go through as much as we did—four albums, one EP, and two song single release, a Comedy Central gig as Wanda Syke's House Band, and countless shows around the country—starting out as teenagers and coming out the other end grown a$$ adults and brothers through it all. Unfortunately, part of that growing up process is, eventually, making big life decisions that force moves [cross-country] or concentrate on other areas of our careers, but even through all of that, we managed to put out material, which I'm really proud of! Make no mistake about it, it definitely gets harder to keep working like that and the process starts to slow down. But we all still play, at least, one show a year and there are still songs that have to be recorded and, hopefully, we'll be doing that, since a bunch of our original core [members] are back on The East Coast and closer. The love for music is still there, as most members play in a multitude of other bands. And more importantly, we're all still really tight and hang out all the time, so it's really just a matter of when before a new release rolls around!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Bleach Everything Unleash SAVAGE/STEAMBOAT 7" X-Ray Flexi-disc & 24-page Wrestling 'zine Ahead of Wrestlemania XXXVI (Dark Operative)


Last we heard from Bleach Everything, they had teamed up with INTEGRITY for a split 12-inch/digital album called SDK x RFTCC. Orchestrated as a tribute to an extremely limited edition 1992 2x7" split from Septic Death & Rock from The Crypt, SDK x RFTTC—or Septic Death Karaoke x Rocket from The Crypt Covers—was released on red, green, and clear-colored vinyl on Halloween 2019 through Dark Operative Records. It features contributions from Septic Death themselves, Riley Gale from POWER TRIP, Mike Kennerty from The All-American Rejects, and Christopher "Royal" King from This Will Destroy You. Now, Bleach Everything have returned with a 7" X-Ray Flexi + 24-page Wrestling 'zine, as well as a 2-track digital single called SAVAGE/STEAMBOAT. It was originally put together by Bleach Everything's Brent Eyestone to coincide with Wrestlemania XXXVI to be held this Saturday/Sunday, April 5-6, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.


However, due to growing concerns surrounding The Coronavirus/COVID-19 global pandemic, Wrestlemania XXXVI has been effectively "cancelled" and will only air on TV this weekend. Eyestone had planned to include the SAVAGE/STEAMBOAT X-ray flexi-discs and 24-page photo 'zines within "VIP gift bags for mega-fans attending the dozens of independent wrestling shows surrounding Wrestlemania in Tampa." Said wrestling photo 'zine collects photos Eyestone has taken t various shows and events held in Southern California & Las Vegas in recent years. Bleach Everything's "Savage" & "Steamboat" were originally recorded in 2012 as a homage to Randy "Macho Man" Savage & Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat's infamous showdown at Wrestlemania III (1987.) "Savage" was previously released as part of Dark Operative's 2018 comp. It Came from The Abyss, Vol. 1, but, it appears as though, "Steamboat" hasn't seen the light of day, until now.


Earlier this morning, we received our own copy of Bleach Everything's SAVAGE/STEAMBOAT flexi-disc and 'zine, which features a foreword by Brent Eyestone himself, along with black-and-white images of wrestlers Brian Pillman, Jr. Teddy Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Asuka, Charlotte Flair (Ric's daughter,) Pentagón, Jr. Dustin Rhodes & Cody, Simone Sherie & Taya Valkyrie, Priscilla Kelly, Orange Cassidy & Marko Stunt, Cryme Tyme, Kenny Omega, Brandi Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and Tessa Blanchard. Also, included on the final page of the 'zine are complete lyrics for both "Savage" & "Steamboat." WWE's Wrestlemania XXXVI airs this weekend, April 5-6, 2020, but there's a catch, it's a pay-per-view-only event on FOX with a $59.99 price tag. However, the SAVAGE/STEAMBOAT 7" X-Ray Flexi + 24-page Wrestling 'zine is available for the extremely low price of $2 on both Bleach Everything & Dark Operative's Bandcamp pages. Additionally, Brent Eyestone offers, "if you have my number in your phone, text me your address and I'll just send you one."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

MESTIZO & Controller 7 Join Forces for Collaborative Album Couch with Jason Jagel-designed Alt. Cover (Grey Carpet Records)

MESTIZO & Controller 7 - Couch "Fan Art" CREDIT: Jason Jägel (@jagel)

MESTIZO & Controller 7 are two Underground/Indie Hip-Hop luminaries, who have now teamed up to self-release a collaborative 10-track album entitled Couch. Emcee MESTIZO, a Fake Four, Inc. affiliate, has released music with A7PHA (doseone,) Free The Robots, The Heavy Twelves, Mike Gao, k-the-i??? Meaty Orge, MURS, and Isaiah Toothtaker. Beat-maker Controller 7, a one-time anticon. affiliate, has contributed production work for projects attributed to Atmosphere, Deep Puddle Dynamics, Sage Francis, sole, Themselves (doseone & JEL,) and Third Sight. Upon Couch's initial release a few weeks ago, I decided to reach out to Controller 7 on a whim, via email, who told me he and MESTIZO are, actually, friends-of-friends and despite working together, have never met in-person. In addition to having doseone as a mutual collaborator, Controller 7 & MESTIZO "met" through producer Meaty Orge, who released BARBEQUE. part 1 with MESTIZO in 2019.


Controller 7 tells us he reached out to Meaty Orge about connecting with MESTIZO after hearing they recorded BARBEQUE. part 1 in a matter of days; "that got me fired up. I've spent the majority of my music making days overthinking things. I was blown away that they did something in two days." Controller 7 soon sent MESTIZO a Direct Message and they agreed to make a song together, but once C7's juices got flowing and he got back into making and constructing beats again, he had a whole album's-worth of material before he knew it. Can you image how surprised MESTIZO must have been, who still though he was just getting one song, received damn near a whole album's-worth of beats from Controller 7!!? The album we're now so fortunate to have in our possession, Couch, is chock-full of dusty Boom-Bap leaning beats, vocal samples, interludes, and, of course, stone cold rhymes. Couch boasts just one lone featured artist, Controller 7 collaborator, DJ D-Styles from Third Sight providing scratches on near-album closer, "PROMISED LAND."


And yes, if you're wondering, that is, indeed, a picture of a "street" couch on Couch's album cover! Controller 7 says, "when I was working on beats, I walked by a couch on the street and took a photo. I was thinking about album art and it jumped out at me. I was feeling pretty grim about the world; politics and the environment, just things in general are kinda grim." Amidst the current state of the world, during this Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, Controller 7 explains, "it applies even more these days. The world is beyond understanding at this moment. I kinda rushed to release it, but it felt like there's no point in waiting anymore and now is as good a time as ever to listen to it." Above, you will see a quasi-alt. cover, or self-described "fan art" created by world-renown Stones Throw & Now-Again Records-affiliated artist Jason Jagel. You can learn a bit more about Jägel's re-designed alt. cover, which may be used for an upcoming vinyl pressing of Couch, below. MESTIZO & Controller 7's Couch is now available to purchase on Bandcamp (along with the instrumentals!) or on your preferred digital streaming service of choice.


"This is so amazing to me. I am a huge fan of @jagel and the fact that he made this self-described "fan art" and sent me a very complimentary message, totally made my day. You, likely, know Jason Jagel's work from some of DOOM's albums and other @stonesthrow & @nowagain releases. He's got murals around SF, one in the SFO Airport and he posts amazing little pieces frequently. His dad, also, did super-iconic album covers for John Coltrane & Ornette Coleman. This completely made my day. Be well, everyone. And reach out to people. It's amazing who you can connect with, if you just try. Couch started with a random DM on Instagram. Thank you, @jagel. This is amazing..."

- Controller 7 (@controllerseven)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #7: Light The Lamp Full Team Interview (The Witzard's LTL Q&A)

CREDIT: Mark A. Thompson

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!

As described in there own words, Light The Lamp were "born into creation on the year of Don Cherry, 2018 in the shadow of the sweetest place on Earth... unleashed upon The Keystone State, drawn by the fury of The Greatest Inner-State Rivalry of all-time... Light The Lamp! This Goon Squad comes out swinging sticks and throwing hits from the ice to the rafters, from whence their debut EP, TILLY TIME, hangs triumphantly, like a championship banner of good ol' PA Puck Rock. Time for some dirty dangles, boys! We're going bar down in your town!" Light The Lamp's current line-up consists of Donny Brook (Chirping,) Eddie Crossczyk (Boarding,) Mark Wrecky (Charging,) Andhe Scores (Slashing/Chirping,) and Slewfoot Foose (Misconduct/Chirping.) Current and ex-members of Rightstart, Meet At Sundown, Demorats, Biff, and Social Class Dropout, Light The Lamp have actively been playing shows across The Tri-state Area spreading their unique brand of Puck Rock/Hockey Hardcore to the masses. Last week upon publication of our feature with Spag (Drunk Bastard) from Two Man Advantage, @LightTheLampPA enthusiastically shared one of the Tweets from our Guts of The Ice THREAD, exclaiming, "For all things Puck F**king Rock, check this out!" We soon got to chatting up all things Puck Rock with Light The Lamp drummer Ed. Now, we're back this week with our first full-band interview in our ongoing Guts of The Ice series. Just last night, Light The Lamp premiered their Official Quarantine Video for "Bring Back The Whale" from their debut EP, TILLY TIME.


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor



01. How did you first get into both hockey and Punk/Hardcore music?

Andhe Scores: My brother got me into both hockey and Punk Rock at a young age; mid-80's.

Slewfoot Foose: First thing I remember watching was The Miracle On Ice. My parents were yelling and cheering. I didn't understand, at the time, what a big deal it was. My mom tried to explain [a] bit; I still didn't understand the magnitude, until years later. My first exposure to Punk was Freshman year of high school, 1989. An acquaintance, soon-to-be-friend, was a Ramones fanatic. He kept talking about The Ramones, so that weekend, I went out and got a Ramones tape. From there, it was Misfits, [Dead Kennedys], Minor Threat, and The Descendents. It wasn't long, until I got introduced to SLAPSHOT. They were "Hardcore" for me. That East Coast RAW Hardcore. And the album was Sudden Death Overtime. Now, hockey and music were united for me.

Donny Brook: My dad was a hockey fan and I would watch with him. I went to see a Pens/Caps [Penguins/Capitals] game when I was 8 or 9-years-old and got to see Lemieux & Jagr do their thing. Punk & Hardcore came from hanging out with friends in high school and going to see their bands play. I was a Metalhead, but there [were] no other Metalheads to speak of at my school, so the Punk kids were the only ones I could get the same sort of speed and intensity out of [at] a live show.

Mark Wrecky: I'm originally from Western PA and I remember the buzz around The Penguins winning the back-to-back Cups in '91 and '92. However, it was a decade later, I really got into hockey. The guitar player (R.I.P. Golden Dave) in my previous band is a huge hockey fan, so that got me into the sport for good. I remember watching Marc Andre Fleury make that incredible save in Game 7 to win The Stanley Cup in 2009. As for Hardcore & Punk music, my two cousins, one of which, also, got me into playing bass, turned me onto this stuff in the mid-late 90's with classic stuff, like The Dead Kennedys, Misfits, and Black Flag.

Eddie Crossczyk: I got into hockey in the early 90's. I had family in Philly that we'd visit all the time and my uncle is a huge Flyers fan, so, naturally, that rubbed off on me. I remember cutting out newspaper clippings when they'd win a game and [keeping] them. I got into Punk/Hardcore when I was 13 and started going to local shows. Both Andy [Andhe] & Foose were in bands I grew up going to see, so it's cool as Hell to be playing with them.


02. What made you decide to combine hockey and Punk/Hardcore stylings through music?

Scores: It was Foose & Ed's idea about doing the band. I just motivated them.

Brook: It was their idea, mostly. I thought it sounded fun and, besides, SLAPSHOT had done similar sh*t decades before.

Wrecky: Ed [Eddie] & Andy [Andhe] lured me into this band as a "trick." The music was just too good to ignore. The fact that they were pairing these riffs up with hockey lyrics seemed like a great gimmick. It certainly got my attention. Why do another generic Punk/Hardcore/Metal band, when you can play Punk & Metal songs about hockey!?

Crossczyk: Foose hit me up and asked if I'd be down to jam with him and Andy. Since I looked up to those guys from my younger days of seeing them in bands at shows, I said "absolutely." I think, it was mostly Foose's idea to combine the two. I wasn't sure how we'd pull it off, but I feel like it's the perfect match. Tough f**king Hardcore Punk with Metal elements thrown in? Of course, the lyrics should be about hockey!


03. For fans new to the "Puck" Rock/Hardcore sub-genre, which release(s) from throughout your discography would you recommend starting out with?

Scores: Check out TILLY TIME.

Brook: We've only got the one... so, that narrows it down.

Wrecky: TILLY TIME is our debut EP, the first of, hopefully, several more to come. It was a lot of fun to record, so that's, obviously, the place to start. Hopefully, the fun we had tracking the album comes across in the recording.

Crossczyk: TILLY TIME is all we've put out, so far, but we've got several new originals that are almost finished right now with more on the way. Once we've got them all down... full-length? Another EP just for the new ones? Only time will tell.


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

Scores: Listen to SLAPSHOT, Sick of It All, Madball, Misfits, and Iron Maiden.

Foose: Other bands... always SLAPSHOT, Two Man Advantage, Hanson Brothers, and HEXTALLS. I do like the CHIXDIGGIT! tune, "Cheevers" [otherwise, known as "(I Feel Like) (Gerry) Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart.)"]

Brook: SLAPSHOT, for sure.

Wrecky: To my knowledge, there aren't a ton of hockey-themed bands around. Hockey's not a huge sport, compared to the other pro sports, so it makes sense. But the only other hockey-themed band I'm aware of is THE ZAMBONIS.

Crossczyk: I never even knew this genre was even a thing, until I heard The Boils' [The Orange & The Black] EP. Then, I found THE HEXTALLS & SLAPSHOT.


05. If still active, what are the future plans for your band? If currently inactive, do you have any immediate plans for any special re-issues or a proper reunion/comeback?

Scores: We plan on taking over the world.

Brook: Survive The 'rona, write more stuff, and play more shows.

Wrecky: This whole Coronavirus thing has us locked down right now, but we're still active working on behind-the-scenes stuff. We're working on a special Quarantine video; as we speak, of all us playing along to our TILLY TIME EP. So, we're trying to stay active on social media, even though we haven't seen each other in a few weeks. As soon as the world is healthy again, we'll be back to jamming and writing and booking more shows. Keep an eye out of our social media for updates!

Crossczyk: Once this f**king Quarantine is lifted? Get back to writing new songs, polish up the ones we've been working on, and get back to playing shows.


06. So, what's the significance/story behind your nicknames, Donny Brook, Eddie Crossczyk, Mark Wrecky, Andhe Scores & Slewfoot Foose, as well as the title of your debut EP title, TILLY TIME?

Scores: I like when the announcer yells "...and he scores!"

Foose: Because of Marchand.

Brook: "Donnybrook" is a brawl; a term used often in hockey.

Wrecky: "Mark Wrecky" was brilliantly created for me from our drummer, Ed [Eddie]. My first name is Mark and as a Pens fan, Ed found the parallel between that and Pens' player (now-Assistant Coach) Mark Recchi. So, it made a lot of sense and I love it. Thanks, Ed! As for "TILLY TIME," that came from Don. We had a couple ideas for the name we were throwing around and we landed on "TILLY TIME," which is slang for a "hockey fight." Gotta keep the hockey theme going!

Crossczyk: It's a play on Eddie Olczyk blended with "cross-check." I think, it's moderately clever, but stupid, at the same time, since I don't, actually, give a sh*t about Eddie O. But, hey, it works. As for the EP title: initially, we were thinking "Stick, Gloves, Shirt," which is a line from The Mighty Ducks. I, also, put that line in our song "2 Minutes," following another Ducks quote, "take the fall, act hurt, get indignant." But, then, Don [Donny] said, "what about "TILLY TIME?'" and MOST of us were sold on it. It, literally, came down to a vote. I think, it was 3-2 in favor of "TILLY TIME." I'm happy with it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dj Cold Cut & DJ Dragon Smasher Mash-up Run The Jewels & Run-D.M.C. Classics On Run The DMC; Plus New RTJ4 Singles (Pig Food Records)


Honestly, at this point in time, Run The Jewels (RTJ) should require absolutely no introduction... but, just to be safe, here's a brief/obligatory introduction: RTJ consists of rapper/producer and Definitive "Def" Jux co-founder El-P and emcee and OutKast affiliate Killer Mike. Legend has it, El & Mike first met on the set of Mr. Muthaf**kin' eXquire's "The Last Huzzah" (Remix) music video shoot. Soon after, [adult swim] Senior Vice President/Creative Director Jason DeMarco—then, at Williams Street Records—connected Killer Mike with El-P, who would produce his phenomenal 2012 album, R.A.P. Music. Mike, additionally, appeared alongside El on his own 2012 Fat Possum Records album, Cancer 4 Cure, on stand-out track, "Tougher Colder Killer." R.A.P. Music & Cancer 4 Cure were released weeks apart, so fast friends Killer Mike & El-P decided to tour together behind their then-new albums. After the widespread success of said tour, El-P & Killer Mike, finally, made it official and formed Run The Jewels in 2013, taking inspiration for their super-group's name from LL Cool J's "Cheesy Rat Blues" from 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out.


Later in 2013, Run The Jewels released their self-titled album (often, referred to as RTJ1) on Fool's Gold Records boasting features from OutKast's Big Boi, Until The Ribbon Breaks, and Prince Paul as "Chest Rockwell." Just about one year later, in October 2014, Run The Jewels returned with Run The Jewels 2 (RTJ2) released on Nasty Nas' own Mass Appeal Records. For RTJ2, El-P & Killer Mike brought in Zack de la Rocha, BOOTS, Travis Barker, Gangsta Boo (Three 6 Mafia,) and Diane Coffee for neck-snapping features throughout. 2016 ushered in Run The Jewels 3 (RTJ3) issued on Mike & El's own Run The Jewels, Inc. this time, with guest features from Joi, Danny Brown, Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio,) BOOTS, Trina, Kamasi Washington, Danger Mouse, Matt Sweeney, and Zack de la Rocha. Prior to this whole Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, RTJ were panning to go on tour with Rage Against The Machine as part of their 2020 Public Service Announcement "comeback" tour, but who knows what's happening with all that now.


Run The Jewels have been feverishly working towards finishing up Run The Jewels 4 (RTJ4,) which was, supposedly, co-produced by none other than Rick Rubin. Just last week, ahead of RTJ4's official unveiling, Run The Jewels released, not one, but TWO singles from the long-awaited album: "Yankee & The Brave (Ep.4)" and "Ooh LA LA" Feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier. Amidst all the calamity, both RTJ4-related and otherwise, Pig Food Records quietly uploaded a mysterious 12-track collection called Run The DMC credited to "Dj Cold Cut & DJ Dragon Smasher." Yes, as you may have suspected, Run The DMC is a mash-up/remix album features beats and rhymes from none other than Run The Jewels AND Run-D.M.C. With a little digital sleuthing, we soon learned DJ Dragon Smasher was, in fact, Pig Food Records co-founder Mitchell "Mitch" Smith AKA Dood Computer; "Mitch and our pal @djcoldcutno1 made what we think is a pretty dang fun project that should help you kill 30 or so minutes of your day..." @pigfoodrecords posted on their Instagram page, along with multiple download links to said project.


Not only does Run The DMC feature beats and rhymes culled from Run The Jewels & Run-D.M.C. classics, it features "guest appearances" from some of their sharp-tongued friends and affiliates, including Jermaine Dupri, Method Man, Zack de la Rocha, Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, and Kurtis Blow throughout. It's definitely, as the label attests, an extremely fun listen that displays the lineage between Run-D.M.C./LL Cool J and Run The Jewels. Ch-ch-check out a few select tracks from Dj Cold Cut & DJ Dragon Smasher's Run The DMC mash-up album, along with Run The Jewels' own "Yankee & The Brave (Ep.4)" & "Ooh LA LA." Run The DMC is currently available to purchase, stream, or download directly from Pig Food Records' Bandcamp page. RTJ4 was originally supposed to be released "before Coachella," which was to be held April 10-12 & April 17-19, but that has since been postponed until October 2020. "DONT ASK WHEN IT DROPS WE DONT KNOW YET WE WILL SOON..." El-P (@thereallyrealelp) recently wrote within an Instagram caption.


"Trapped in the house and bored out of your mind? Perfect! Mitch and our pal, @djcoldcutno1, made what we think is a pretty dang fun project that should help you kill 30 or so minutes of your day... even more, if you listen to it more than once. We, actually, finished it a while ago, but just recently had it mixed by @pjkatz.pts. It, also, didn't have any artwork, until this past week. If you like @runthejewels (@killermike & @thereallyrealelp) and/or @rundmc (@kingdmc & @revwon,) you should, maybe, give this a spin. It's FREE, so spread it around! Available at..."

- Pig Food Records (@pigfoodrecords)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Liberty & Justice Share Remotely Recorded Punk/Oi! Cover of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" (Liberty & Justice Letter Tracing)


Liberty & Justice are a Street Rock "N" Roll/Punk/Oi! band hailing from Houston, Texas, whose current line-up consist of frontman Ryan "Crowns" Taylor, drummer Cory "Gaza" Parker, bassist Edwin Carson, and guitarists Halston Luna & Ramzi Beshara. Collectively, Liberty & Justice's members either have played or currently play with Black Coffee, Darkbuster, Fm359 (ex-Dropkick Murphys,) Fun Haunts, The Killer Hearts, Peloton, Poizon, Roger Miret & The Disasters, Thug Boots, Trash Magz, and tWeezer. Liberty & Justice self-release their self-titled demo/debut EP in 2017-18, followed by a 2018 split EP with The Abductors entitled Short Haired Rock n' Roll on Arrest Records, their full-length debut, 4 ALL, on LA-based imprint Crowd Control Media, and, most recently, a single-sided limited edition 2019 cassette tape (re-released digitally as Just Us) on sister sound. Now, amidst the global Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, whilst actively chipping away at their second full-length, Liberty & Justice have returned with some new music for everyone sitting at home.


"With half the band currently out of work and no more shows 'til, at least, June 13," Liberty & Justice's members teamed up from home to collectively record and release a cover of Robyn's 2010 single, "Dancing On My Own." Vocalist Ryan Taylor delivers and impassioned, grizzly-voiced rendition of Robyn's infectious classic, with Cory Parker, Edwin Carson, Halston Luna & Ramzi Beshara contributing their parts from their respective homes. Liberty & Justice's players took turns recording their parts of "Dancing On My Own" at the band's practice space (practicing safe Social Distancing!) and newest member, Beshara, edited everything together in GarageBand. If you're interested in supporting, there's currently a GoFundMe page set up for frontman/East End Barber shop owner Ryan Taylor and his out-of-work staff during these unknown times. Liberty & Justice's cover of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" is now available on YouTube and the band promises, it will soon become available on streaming services, as well. Below, you can re-visit Robyn's original version of "Dancing On My Own" for comparison against Liberty & Justice's Punk/Oi!-leaning rendition.


"With half the band currently out-of-work and no more shows 'til, at least, June 13 (praying we can still pull off that one!) and with all of us taking this deal seriously, we decided to cover one of our all-time favorite songs by one of our all-time favorite recording artists, @robynkonichiwa. We recorded everything [remotely] and, as you can see, recorded the video [remotely] then, @screamingohmygod put it all together. Hope this is a nice break in your Feed from all the negativity. Be safe out there, please, check in on one another, and, please, practice Social Distancing. Single will be available on all streaming platforms in the next couple of days."

- Liberty & Justice (@libertyandjusticeofficial)

@libertyandjusticeofficial: "For all the parents with kids stuck at home, email eastendbarber@gmail.com for the download..." (CREDIT: @erindonuts)