2002 was right in the heyday of emo. One of the biggest underground labels at the time was Victory Records, who that year would put out an album that would become one of the modern-day genre’s most seminal.
Happy May! This month Thrice are putting out To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, their first album since their 2012 hiatus and follow-up to 2011’s Major/Minor. With that in mind, this edition of “Weekendcore” looks back at the Irvine, California four-piece’s 2003 breakthrough The Artist in the Ambulance.
For his one-man rock project, Radley Lane – which is an awesome name itself – is known as Dirty Hollywood. Lane indeed lives in Wyoming Hollywood so that’s fitting. Debut EP Killed to Death came out yesterday, and is available on iTunes among elsewhere. It brings to mind artists like Foo Fighters and Danko Jones, and Lane chatted with TPS about that and more.
You started as a drummer for artists like J*Davey and Ryan Leslie. When was the moment that you said “I gotta become my own artist”?
I’ve been a drummer since I was about 11 years old and I played in every school band available and started bands with every friend that had an instrument… orchestras, jazz bands, garage bands.. then I got a bachelor’s degree in percussion and played in every performing group available… more orchestra, percussion ensembles, jazz bands, salsa bands, steel drum bands, Brazilian baterias, West African dance troops, weird found object experimental music bands, reggae bands, college rock bands.. and then professionally for major label artists.
A lot of great music happened during this time… but it was never balls out rock and roll and I had a hole in my heart that needed to be filled with distorted guitars and bashing drums. When someone would direct me to play quieter or with less energy…. I’d do what they asked.. but think to myself “that seems like a mistake”… and “that’s not how I would do it”… and that was fine for their music.. but I just wanted to rock… and no one was letting me rock up to my potential. At the same time I had already been deep into record producing. In college I had bought a laptop and Pro Tools and watched YouTube videos to learn how to produce and record. I constantly needed material to record so I started singing and songwriting as well as playing guitar and bass… piano was already a school requirement so I had a little of that too… I wrote songs so I would have stuff to record.. and as I got better at all of it I realized that I had songs and records that were actually pretty good. I don’t know that there was a specific moment where I thought “I have to become my own artist” as opposed to “oh. I guess I am my own artist”. After that happened I wanted to put all my focus and energy into pursuing it.
You recorded most instruments yourself for Killed to Death, but did enlist several guests including Michael Vincze of Mowgli’s fame. Why did you pick who you did?
Well that was easy I just asked my friends! HUGE THANKS to Michael Vincze, Andy Tubman, John Armstrong, Terah Gilbertson and Marc Aliana for putting their talents on these recordings. And another HUGE THANKS to Christian James-Hand who co-produced “Killed to Death” with me and mixed everything. All these friends are who I’ve played with live and they had come up with some really cool musical bits that I felt absolutely had to be included on the record. For example, nobody needs or wants to hear me butcher a guitar solo right now.. maybe next year.. but for now I’ll call a friend.
Press for the EP has described Dirty Hollywood’s sound as “radio rock”. Some people use that term negatively, but what makes you embrace it?
Well I’m a sucker for big hooks and catchy tunes… and all of my favorite bands are played on the radio. If Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Royal Blood, Kings of Leon, Twenty One Pilots are “radio rock” bands then I want to be in that club… I don’t think that being “radio friendly” means the art has to suffer or its substance has to be watered down. It just means that a lot of people like it or will like it. If a band only wants a select few snobby music hipsters to like their music, that’s fine… I just have bigger goals, and a wider audience to entertain. I feel strongly that all the songs on “Killed to Death” are “single” worthy and ready for any alt-rock or college radio station. That’s why “Killed to Death” is only 4 songs.. I wanted them all to be able to hold their own on my first release. I wanted to come out swinging… I don’t have a huge immediate fan base or audience so I need to win people over and the only way I know how to do that is to make the best music I can at the moment.
I’d say “My Name Is Love” is my favourite song on Killed to Death, it has so much swagger and is a fun listen. What made you choose “Stay Up All Night” as the first single? (Which is a good song in its own right.)
Thank you so much! Yes I encourage everyone reading this to go listen to “My Name Is Love” right away! Don’t even bother with the rest of this interview.. just go listen to it! (Ed. note: Do both at the same time!) When I first started playing these recordings for friends and mentors they were equally divided between those two songs as the first single… one reason I chose “My Name Is Love” as the second single is because if someone likes “Stay Up All Night” then they’re gonna like “My Name Is Love” as a follow-up… if someone likes “My Name Is Love” they might like “Stay Up All Night” as much but half the people will say “I like that first song better”. They’re different styles from each other.. and I’d say they’re on opposite sides of the spectrum of Dirty Hollywood’s “sound”… it’s like.. Dirty Hollywood’s “sound” fits between those two songs. I hope everyone likes both.
Any touring planned in support of Killed to Death? What else is planned in Dirty Hollywood’s world for 2016?
More music all the time! We’re playing shows in Los Angeles and then some West Coast touring this summer. Hoping to add a lot more shows and get to the East Coast and even break into Canada?! People of Canada!!! Where should we play in your beautiful country???!!! Realistically that may not be until the fall… and I may have to sleep on your couch.. I’m also recording the second EP that should be released later this year. I wanted to get this first one out into the world so that there was music to point people to and then follow it up with another short but solid second EP.
Dirty Hollywood online:
Sweet Thing are no longer a band, but one song they put out was really solid. “Lazy Susan” came off the Toronto rockers’ self-titled 2010 album (their only full-length) and is really one of the slower songs that you’d call catchy. (I guess slower songs can still be catchy, but you know what I mean: a good hook tends to be more uptempo.) This mid-tempo jam features a deliberate, chugging bassline (“chugging” might make you think of a heavier song as it does for me, so…half-chugging? I don’t know, hopefully you get my drift when you listen.) with vocals that stylistically almost go R&B, with beautiful gang falsetto in the chorus.
Sweet Thing online:
These guys are a TPS favourite and truly a bright spot in the local scene. Redambergreen are alt-rockers who have a solid dose of pop-punk in their sound. They have two EPs (2012’s Through All The Days and 2013’s No City, which we reviewed) and a couple of singles. Lineup changes have also been a theme so far, with Kris Rose being their third singer in what’ll be as many releases once No City‘s follow-up comes out. No matter, they consistently put out good stuff – which contributed to playing the Ernie Ball Stage at Toronto’s Warped Tour date last summer.
Bet Your Life
Punk rock time with this three-piece. Bet Your Life have three EPs (2012’s Landshark and 2014’s Give No Quarter and Drive Sessions, the former of which we reviewed) and a track called “Oceans” they released last year. If you’re a Dying Scene reader you’ve probably seen coverage of these guys there too. A big influence for the band are Hot Water Music, and you’ll be reminded of Chuck Ragan’s gravelly vocals with Bet Your Life.
A Year Dead
So here the whole thing: one band I totally would’ve covered in this post are The Offensive Senses, but they broke up! However, A Year Dead is TOS’ Aaron VanDuynhoven (vocals/guitar) and Jason Spence (drums) along with Cam Core on bass, who also plays that for Redambergreen (!). They’re working on their debut EP, so…there’s nothing really to reference right now, but we reviewed (do you see a theme here?) The Offensive Senses’ Random Phrases EP, so…there’s that in the meantime. Heads-up on A Year Dead though fo’ real!
Safety’s Off deserve to make this “Scene Specific” based on their kickass name alone, but they’re also just good. They do melodic punk rock, and have a self-titled EP from 2014 that you can enjoy. Not sure about anything new, but certainly when I know I will tell you.
So are you thinking “jeez Kevo, does London do anything but punk-based stuff?” Well, yeah, but who gives a damn? I’m kidding, there are lots of good genres there but we’re basically just gonna move on to one more with…
OH BABY, METAL! Kittie indeed come from London, and are definitely one of the biggest artists to do so. Remember when they put “Brackish” out in 2000 and people were like “what in the actual????”? The ladies have gone through several lineup changes, but the constants have been Lander sisters Morgan (vocals/guitar) and Mercedes (drums) – the only original members left. Kittie haven’t released an album since 2011’s I’ve Failed You, but are working on a 20th anniversary documentary called Kittie: Origins/Evolutions.
So what else do you want? In the spirit of how punk this “Scene Specific” is we’ll keep it short, sweet and rawkin’. Unfortunately London has dealt with the recent closure of noted venue APK, but still has Call The Office. Bet Your Life bassist Jimi James also founded the London Indie Underground podcast, which also has a show on CHRW. Etc., etc. I’ve had a note in my phone to feature London for a while, so I’m glad we’re doing this because 1) I can delete that note, lol and 2) it’s a scene that’s shown an embrace of TPS as much as vice versa (as you’ll see in the linked-to reviews and other posts). Go check it out.
Los Angeles alt-rock duo Polaris Rose are set to drop sophomore full-length Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies on March 25th. It’s a nice, natural progression from 2014 debut Telescopes (which we reviewed) and continues an overall theme that’ll span a few more albums. You can grab “That Lonely Road” as a free download right now, and learn more about what to expect from the record overall with this lil’ chit-chat with Peter Anthony (vocals/guitar) and Maddie Elyse (vocals/bass).
I find Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies is a little bit more eclectic than Telescopes. Is that a fair assessment? What influences went into it?
Yeah, we agree with that. We wanted Telescopes to be one of those albums that – when a person hears it – they think ‘Oh ok, this is their sound’. Nothing too jarring. We wanted it to be a clear declaration of our sound/identity. For Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies we knew that we wanted the sound to take what we did on Telescopes and show growth. We allowed ourselves to showcase the dynamics in our songwriting more. Plus, the lyrics and overall themes of the record get more mature and just a little bit darker.
With your songs all connecting as part of a bigger concept, what part of the story are we in with this new album?
Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies is part 2 of a 6-part series. Compared to our last record, OBVS gets a lot more personal and – we think – has a more mature sound to it. It’s also just a smudge darker. Our forthcoming records are going to continue to grow down that road.
Not that the video for “TigerBait” isn’t good, but Madelynn told me on Twitter that she – like me – pictured a “Thinking Out Loud” vibe for it. Peeeettttteerrr why a no-go there???
Maddie: You hit on a sore subject ha ha.
Peter: Maddie is still mad at me.
Being a duo that shares vocal duties, how does the writing process go? Do you sing what you write or just collaborate on everything?
We collaborate. We recorded around 35 ideas for Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies before settling on the 9 that are on the record. That whole process of demoing and brainstorming goes through a lot of stages and reworks. It’s a lot of bouncing ideas back and forth.
As you get ready to release the sophomore album, what’s been the coolest thing that’s happened to the band since releasing the debut?
Actually, getting Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies mixed by John Spiker and mastered by Eric Boulanger. It brought the record to life and it was one of the most thrilling musical experiences of our whole lives.
Besides putting out Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies what does 2016 have in store for Polaris Rose?
Lots of shows. And who knows. We may release another record.
Polaris Rose online:
In the post-winter-break post I mentioned wanting a regular, time/day-specific feature. Since TPS isn’t updated every day I wanted to create something with “appointment tuning”, something you could rely on and know when to check for. (You can also subscribe to the new TPS RSS feed, it’s on the right-hand side with everything else!) That feature is “Weekendcore”, a throwback-themed post that just remembers something cool – a little light, nostalgic reading for your weekend. Look for it either Saturday or Sunday each week, and it begins on this Sunday with Story of the Year’s debut album Page Avenue.
The St. Louis, Missouri former five-piece (bassist Adam Russell has since left) dropped their first full-length in 2003 on Maverick Records. Page Avenue’s assault of emo and post-hardcore was well-timed as that type of music was of course killin’ it back then. Opener “And The Hero Will Drown” starts with a great build before Dan Marsala jumps in with dueling screaming/clean vocals. Singles “Until The Day I Die” and “Anthem Of Our Dying Day” follow and are obviously solid, and so on and so on. My two favourite songs on the album are probably “Sidewalks” (which was the final single) and penultimate track “Razorblades”. Overall though, Page Avenue is a beast of a debut and still one of the better albums I own.
Since Page Avenue, Story of the Year have released three more albums and are working on their fifth. They left Maverick after sophomore effort In the Wake of Determination and went to Epitaph, having since left that label as well. They actually released Page Avenue: Ten Years and Counting in 2013, a re-imagining that gives the album a stripped-down, evocative feel. I put the original on the other day and remembered how awesome it is, so I knew Page Avenue would be the first “Weekendcore” feature. What a solid effort huh?
Story of the Year online:
Redambergreen are working on their third release, and with it inadvertently going the Further Seems Forever route as it’s with their third vocalist – each one having someone different. That isn’t the only new development since we last featured the London, Ontario alt-rockers, so with that let’s do some catchin’ up – specifically with drummer Michael Marucci and aforementioned vocalist Kris Rose (who are complemented by guitarists Dajaun Martineau and Phil Regimbal, and bassist Cameron Core).
Since the band’s last TPS feature guitarist Dajaun Martineau and singer Kris Rose joined. Why the lineup changes?
Michael Marucci: LINEUP CHANGES! The best friend of every band, right?
Well, in short, as the band progressed both Sara (vocals) and Mike (guitar) reached a place where they didn’t feel they could commit the time and energy that the band required. They felt it was best for them to move on. Mike works full time at a factory building armored vehicles, and Sara decided to go back to school. Both things that can stifle the growth of any business, especially a band.
What have Dajaun and Kris added that’s changed, if not elevated the dynamic?
MM: WOW, where can I even start?!
Dajaun and I have been good friends for about a decade. He, Cam and I went to college together for Music Industry Arts (he’s an engineer/producer like myself) and a great guitarist. That means we got a huge boost in our production and songwriting capacity which is incredible. He’s got so many fresh ideas and we all get along really well already which makes it easier to get things done, and (very important) have fun doing it.
Kris is honestly, one of the coolest people I’ve ever met by chance. Her and Dajaun started jamming a while back and when we were looking for a new singer he asked Kris if she’d be interested in trying out a few of the songs. We jammed once, and she demoed some of the current tunes and I was floored. She brought a really fun, fresh energy to the music. Even just being in the same room together felt better than it did before. She’s fun, hilarious, totally cat obsessed (like me, no wait, maybe she’s just great because of the cat thing. I don’t know, whatever, no, hold on, no she’s actually great. Yeah, pretty great!) She even works at a Pet Value in North York which is home to Soot, the world’s oldest known cat (He’s 31 years old Kevin, he’s a month younger than me! UGH) (Ed. note: As someone turning 31 on the 20th, I get that!)
All in all the band dynamic has improved drastically. The songwriting and production, Kris’ lyric and melody writing is amazing, the cat banter in the band thread on Facebook etc. The personality feels better than it ever has and I think that will show in our music, and certainly our live show. Dajaun and Kris move, jump, kick, spin and bring a lot of energy to our show and we have so much fun playing again.
Kris Rose: I was really lucky to be involved in this show at all and I’d definitely say its been one of the coolest experiences I’ve had to date! Working with and getting to know the guys, was awesome. Playing Warped Tour was a lot of fun and a great way for us to all get used to playing together.
MM: This year they didn’t have a Montreal date, so Toronto was the only Canadian show of the entire tour. That meant that we were competing against that many more artists seeking a spot. Every Canadian band wanting to play from Nanaimo to Halifax were going for that one date and they picked five bands from all of Canada to get on that stage (woah).
It was pretty overwhelming to know how many other incredible bands were up there, and I know because I made a point of listening to almost everyone in the top 50 as we moved up the ladder. In our immediate area we were in the running with some incredible bands including London’s Hello Amora and The Truth Today, Kitchener’s Something You Whisper, bands like Bring Me the Author, Sons of Sirens, Bearings, Choices (SW Ontario has a lot of incredible bands people!)
The contest was fun, albeit a little daunting. Ultimately we have a pretty amazing group of supporters who like what we do and were willing to give us that support when we really needed it. We managed to place 14th out of over 200 bands, and in the end we along with The Ocean Cure, Cedar Boulevard, This Is Awesome and Amasic were chosen to play.
The show itself was great! Warped Tour is notorious for being rained on, certainly in Toronto. As expected, the day started out fine, but clouds rolled in and she got pretty gnarly! (Now to Ollie Williams with the weather!) People are a bit wary of the rain though. When it first starts, you think to yourself “HEY, I can stay dry!” and you start to work the problem. Some stood under trees, others went for shelter at the patio bar, some small kids hid under rocks. It’s only later on that people give up, accept their fate, and buy a poncho. By the end of the day, everyone at the Molson flats is soaked, but we all had fun and the rain didn’t matter. Our friends in Sumo Cyco and Red Handed Denial played Lemmon stage so I was able to catch Sumo’s sound check before we went on and caught RHD later on in the day. Being As An Ocean was amazing, and I had an absolute blast at Beartooth. I bought an amazing pink New York hat and got blisters on my heels from the Vans slip-ons I hadn’t yet broken in. Hahaha. By the end of the day I was hobbling around barefoot.
Playing Warped Tour is one of those things that so many bands dream about, and all things considered, it’s something we’re all going to look back on and say “Hey, we did that?! We did that!” It was a special moment we all got to share. Being on that stage, playing OUR music. That was an amazing feeling.
The single “Happyface (Pick Yourself Up)” was released in September, and it seems like a my-special-someone-got-sick-of-the-negativity song. What inspired it?
Stuff like that is definitely relevant, but it’s also about a general perspective on expectations. It happens a lot in life, and in other places, like working retail.
People expect a lot of you while remaining seemingly helpless; its kind of alarming.
Will “Happyface (Pick Yourself Up)” appear on No City‘s follow-up? Any news on that itself at this point?
KR: The band has been working on writing together and it’s been a lot of fun (and a lot of work). We have a few songs narrowing in on completion and others just waiting for lyrics.
MM: It’s the first single, and you can expect more catchy, fun songs like that.
After the chaos of the spring and summer we can finally say that we’re almost finished the new record. We’ve taken the time we needed to perfect the songs and do lyric rewrites. It was important to us that Kris had the time she needed to write because we wanted the new record to be an expression of her, and her creative spirit.
As for a release, we can’t lock it down to a specific day yet, but we’re looking at an early 2016 release. In the meantime you’ll be seeing more and more from us including videos, play-throughs, updates and of course, funny cat pictures.
I have a feeling that if I suggest cats need to either 1) become part of Redambergreen’s shows or 2) have a concept EP written about them you guys will be receptive. Nailed it, or am I off by a whisker?
KR: Our love of cats may or may not become relevant in the future haha. For now we all remain animal lovers and some of us, pet parents.
MM: MOAR CATS! GIVE ME ALL THE CATS! I WANT THE CATS.
ALL I WANT IS CATS WITH FRICKEN LASERS ON THEM! OK?!
Prevail is something we all have to do. Whether it’s the day-to-day minutiae or something especially adverse, to do so is a central theme for everything post-getting up in the morning. On Prevail, Hope Vista explores that over five songs. It came out just over a week ago, and with that – and you know this interview hello! – you can get to know the affable New Jersey rocker (perhaps beyond her love of the Backstreet Boys and New York Giants, ha).
I’ve seen you tweet about showing that a solo female rocker can make things happen. Do you simply feel outnumbered by dudes, or have you actually been dismissed for being you?
I don’t really feel outnumbered, it’s more like feeling like I have to prove that I can hang. And I don’t mind that at all, I love being around those dudes and seeing so much strength on stage. I’ve always had more guy friends than girls, but this industry is absolutely a man’s world right now, especially in the sector I’m a part of. So it’s up to me to show them that I can hang and match up to their talent!
You’ve gone from acoustic ballads (“To: Daddy”) to pop-punk-infused pop rockers (“Wild Girl”) to the varying alternative of Prevail. Where does all that influence come from?
“To: Daddy” was meant to be acoustic. I didn’t want production all over that, that’s not what it was about. It was more so about writing an open letter to a person who shaped me, and I wanted that raw emotion to be captured through simplicity. I am a power pop punk-esque vocalist; and I love that. I love being able to explore within that realm and find new ways to make things work. Prevail is that in a nutshell, all wrapped up into 5 songs. “Wild Girl” was a stand-alone promo single for that reason; I needed time to create a cohesive EP that identified who I am in the strongest way possible! The influence just really comes from what I continue to experience; every track on Prevail is completely real. I find a lot of inspiration and motivation in what surrounds me.
Fan interaction is very important to you. Is a Hope Vista concert filled with banter and stuff like that?
Oh yeah. I say some pretty ridiculous stuff on stage, and usually end up making a total fool of myself when nobody laughs. Last week I finally covered a Backstreet Boys song twice, and before I started, I said: “On the count of 3: if anyone knows who my favorite group of all time is, I want you to shout it as loud as you can. 1, 2, 3….,” and the venues exploded. It was so awesome. To know that they know that, and know other things about me, is pretty cool. That’s why I focus so much on social media interaction!
Talk about the concept for the video for “Dominance”.
I didn’t write the treatment, but I gave the director (Chris Newhard) an original idea that I had. My original idea was to run through an old building as if it were a maze, and he kind of just expanded on that idea a lot and created a whole treatment based around that. The concept just really centralizes around surrendering. I start off in this box, like an animal in a cage, and then the flip switches, surrendering myself to the person but not letting go of my ‘dominance.’
Any plans for a tour in support of Prevail?
We’re working on it. It’s another one of those things where I have to prove that I can hang!
The NFC East is pretty mediocre, you think the Giants can hang on and take the division?
If they stay healthy, absolutely. I actually think the season-ending injury (he never had a season anyway) to Victor Cruz is a blessing in disguise, and JPP coming back is just a blessing overall. Our wide receiver game has been pretty strong with the addition of Dwayne Harris, so I’m thinking that the offensive streak of our team can pull them through the season to take the division.
Hope Vista online:
New Jersey has one of the best scenes in alternative music (yeah it does). Bridgewater alt-rocker Kelly Lynn Barber is part of that, and about to follow up her 2014 debut EP Cold Reality with Breaking Barriers. The sophomore EP is out December 4th, but in the meantime you can catch the video for “Done With You” and…you know, read this review!
The second half of Breaking Barriers starts with the EP’s heaviest distortion on “Tearing Me Apart”. The lead guitar also has an effect that I can’t quite place, but as it rings notes out it’s very effective. Then, you go from the frantic heaviness of that song to the more subdued “What I Had Planned”. It’s slower, and while the fast strumming of “Done With You” and “The Last Time” is there the distortion takes a backseat. “Don’t you tell me what to do/’cause I don’t wanna be like you anymore/and lose myself, ’cause this isn’t what I had planned”…sometimes you gotta take you back. Finally, “Discord” closes things out and tones things down even more. Acoustic guitar comes into play in this six-minute epic, and the drums finally join after the first chorus. It’s a slow burner about coming to terms with the end of a relationship, and really a perfect closer – in sound and subject matter.
Breaking Barriers is a relationship EP: it goes from saying “screw you” to “karma, baby” to more “screw you” to anger before ending with reflection and a bit of sadness. It has pop sensibility with indie-sounding guitars, and all-in-all is an intriguing alt-rock package. You can pre-order Breaking Barriers now via iTunes.
Kelly Lynn Barber online: