I Am a Liar. Now Hear Me Out.

On May, 2, 2012, I sat here, behind my keyboard, and promised you that I would maintain M.O.S.H. and, as you can see, I lied to you. Now, hear me out because this trickery wasn’t intentional but, as you can assume, senior-year, college-life kicked in and, without exaggerating at all, nearly killed me. No, really. I’m not exaggerating.

Okay, I’m like 50 percent exaggerating. Just know, I was really, really, really busy, guys.

But after graduating, I was physically incapable of writing. No, it wasn’t because I broke my hand in a tragic skeeball accident or anything, it was more along the lines of my brain saying, “Nope. Let’s just sit here and think about cool things, like sloths and penguin onesies.” And while I traveled the country as a carney that summer— I promise you, these are all facts— that’s just what I did: I wrote nothing.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, well not really because I’m not a mind-reader, but I can only assume that it’s something along the lines of: “These just sound like a lot of excuses you filthy liar but on an unrelated note, yes, I agree, sloths are kind of cool.”

I know.

Once I finished my tour as a carney— again, I’m not kidding— I edited a book for a Frisbee dog company, traveled as much as my dwindling bank account would allow and bought a ukulele. And while I might not have been writing about music like I promised you I would, just know, I haven’t abandoned the scene.

I attended more concerts in 2013 than any other year, though 2014 is already setting itself up to be a formidable rival. And you can still find me singing along too loudly to my CD collection, especially if you happen to be the car next to me at a red light. You can still find me with my headphones on in coffee shops and spending every dime I have on new albums and concert tickets.

I’m not asking you, my tens of readers, to forgive me. But just know, music is still just as much a part of my life as it was the day I started this blog. I’m not going to sit here and promise you that I’m going to update this site, because I can’t guarantee that. I’m still trying to figure this post-college, adulthood thing out.

More accurately, I’m just throwing things up in the air— a radio show, a YouTube channel, another blog*— and seeing what I catch.

That’s not a metaphor— well it is— but that’s actually how I make life decisions these days so yes, I guess you can say that I’m living the dream…or you could say, “Get your shit together.”

I’m trying. And maybe I’ll update you on my progress in another two years. If you’re curious as to what I did since failing to update this blog, feel free to check out my website. Until then, here’s some music stuff:

A fraction of the bands that I’ve been listening to the past two years, have rediscovered or have recently released a new album that you should probably, definitely listen to (and in no particular order)

*I’d link you to these things if they existed at the time of writing this
**I got tickets for their July tour. Yes, I can literally do anything like, punch a grizzly bear or tame a great white shark. Because I got Brand New tickets, I can do anything.


How to Survive Warped Tour

Four tips that will help you avoid becoming fodder for the mosh pits.
By: Ashley Cline

Attack Attack! at Camden, NJ’s tour date in 2010.

When sweat outnumbers skinny jeans a million to one and intense guitar riffs slither through the $2 earplugs available for purchase, you can only be at one concert event: Warped Tour. It’s loud, it’s hot and it’s crowded; yet it’s what avid show-goers look forward to every year.

Considered the official start to summer by many, the Van’s Warped Tour treks across the country in an effort to provide the necessary breakdowns, bass drops and head-bang inducing tunes necessary to survive the dog days. The musicians are not the only ones that must learn to cope with the blistering heat, however. Warped veterans and rookies alike suffer from foolish mistakes— all of which have simple, quick fixes. The highlighted tips, tricks and solutions will guarantee you a day to remember.

Breakfast of Champions

The Vans Warped Tour starts well before the first band hits the stage and, just as bands have pre-show rituals, you too, should fall into the habit of carrying out several pre-show traditions. Before considering what song your favorite band will open their set with, ask yourself, “What am I going to eat before Warped?” According to Rick Hong MD, FACEP, the head of Cooper University Hospital’s Division of EMS/Disaster Medication you should, eat a healthy meal in preparation of excessive heat and avoid salts and sweets. Yes, that means the Reese’s cup and Monster Energy drink you bought as a quick meal do not qualify.

Cute is Not What We Aim For

Warped Tour is not a fashion show. Forgo pairing your favorite band-t with skinny jeans. Forget about wearing your treasured beanie with that new flannel shirt you bought last week. Leave that cute new pair of flip-flops at home. Instead, opt for shorts, a comfortable, loose fitting shirt and sensible shoes. “You’re in large crowds and are so close to other people that, by the time you get out, you don’t know if you’re sweating or if it’s somebody else’s sweat [on you],” says Ashley Mahala, a four-year Warped veteran.

Hotter than Texas in July

Of Mice and Men joining the crowd at Camden, NJ’s tour date in 2010. Graphic by Ashley Cline.

As a show-goer, the pits and crowd surfers are not your biggest adversaries. A product of the unforgiving summer heat, dehydration and other heat related illnesses leave many whimpering “woe, is me.” Your biggest obstacle has a simple solution, however and, according to Dr. Hong, to prevent falling victim to the summer heat, maintain hydration prior to symptoms. “Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages,” he says. “Also, find a cool, shaded area.”

In addition to drinking often, purchase a map. Not only will it provide you with the show times, as well as the signing times of the bands on the bill, it will also point you in the direction of water stations and water fountains. Maintaining proper hydration is the most important, and perhaps the most overlooked, aspect of attending Warped and, in order to ensure that you are still head-banging until the sun sets, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate after each set.

Reckless and Relentless: Enter at Your Own Risk

There’s nothing quite like being a part of the crowd during your favorite band’s set at Warped Tour. The energy is contagious; you’ll be bobbing your head in time to the bass drops and shredding your vocal chords in an attempt to match the frontman’s performance on stage. Maintaining that sweet position along the front row comes with its healthy share of occupational hazards, however.

Always remain alert; mosh pits open randomly and crowd surfers fall from the sky without warning. Maintain a fighter’s stance, feet shoulder width apart— this will ensure that your center of gravity does not betray you when the crowd surges in every direction— and when in doubt, elbows out. As Mahala attains, “It’s not fun getting kicked in the head.”

August burns red during the Vans Warped Tour, but if you adhere to the basics, you will avoid an all time low.

With Our Teeth discuss music, garnering a following in South Jersey and the grueling task of auditioning new members

Pat Casale, Luis Colón, Mike Scornaienchi, Chris Sikora and Stephen Anthony Matranga. Photo by PJ Hennessy

With a foundation built upon camaraderie— guitarist and vocalist, Chris Sikora, and drummer, Pat Casale, have been playing together since 2007— and ambitions, With Our Teeth look forward to spreading their peer-deemed, post-hardcore sound.

Having released a two song EP, Born in a War, in March 2011, With Our Teeth, with an enigmatic sound in tow, created a new niche within the local music scene. After discovering that they did not click with hardcore shows or jive within the punk realm, With Our Teeth proudly donned— as Sikora jokes— the title of “weird” band on the bill. Weirdness aside, however, the three-piece outfit must contend with typical band woes, such as, auditioning new members and balancing music with school, work and other responsibilities all while trying to garner a following in South Jersey, which, as many agree, is a far cry from the likes of a musical hotbed like Nashville.*


Starting off with a little background of the band, how did With Our Teeth come together?
Chris Sikora: With Our Teeth started with Pat, our old bass player and I; we were having trouble finding a singer and a second guitarist. Steve [Matranga, guitarist and vocalist of WOT] contacted me about starting a pop-punk band but at the time we had a full lineup for the band we formed before With Our Teeth. When we found out we had to start all over again, however, I contacted Steve and asked him if we wanted to play with this band [With Our Teeth]. A month or two later, we got a hold of an old friend who was interested in singing for us. Steve and I are going to start that pop-punk band one of these days! [laughs]


How would you, as a band, describe your sound (I know, not the easiest question to answer!)
Sikora: We always have a difficult time answering that question. Usually we just take the answers that other people throw at us— post-hardcore, melodic post-hardcore. We’ll ask people if they’ve heard of certain bands that we like, and when they say no, we just tell them that we’re rock/alternative.


Continue reading

Recent Roundup: Acceptance and accomplishment in the music world, from Against Me! to Every Minute Can Kill

While excited graduates don their caps and gowns, high school students prepare for prom and summer rolls ever closer, waves ripple through the music industry, washing ashore acceptance and accomplishment alike.  

The Ocean

In the midst of North Carolina’s recent vote favoring Amendment One and President Obama’s statements supporting gay marriage, Tom Gabel, front-man and guitarist of the Florida-based punk band, Against Me!, opened up to Rolling Stone about his plans for the future; a future where he’ll eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace.

Adding his voice to milieu, Gabel revealed his plan to step out of the shadows of gender dysphoria and undergo hormone therapy and electrolysis treatment in order to transition into a woman. Gender dysphoria, previously known as gender identity disorder, is the act of feeling uncomfortable with one’s biological sex, a weight which has weighed upon Against Me!’s front-man for years.

After his announcement, Gabel received praise for his courage within the online and music communities alike. While he admits in the article, available in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, that embarrassing moments are inevitable, his biggest source for trepidation stemmed from his wife, Heather. “For me, the most terrifying thing about this is how she would accept the news,” Gabel told the magazine. “But she’s been super-amazing and understanding.”

The couple plan to remain married and, while some fans have expressed a concern for Gabel’s future involvement with the band, one thing is certain: acceptance is a song we all can sing, so long as we care enough to learn the melody.

  1. AltPress
    NEWS: Tom Gabel (Against Me!) comes out as transgender, to begin living as a woman http://dlvr.it/1XfNZ6
    Tue, May 08 2012 22:26:04


  2. matt_owns
    I have to say that Tommy Gabel has more courage than most of humanity. Damn proud to be a fan of his/hers.
    Wed, May 09 2012 19:34:18


  3. RxOliver
    Nice to see so many influential people in the music industry publicly showing their support for Tommy Gabel today. #PunksNotDead
    Wed, May 09 2012 17:57:04


  4. Bruce_Holder
    Thank you Barack Obama and Tommy Gabel for making me proud again to be an American @whitehouse @tommygabel
    Thu, May 10 2012 00:45:18



Welcome to the Family

Every Minute Can Kill, a local post-hardcore five-piece, can now boast that they are officially infamous. Infamous Empire, an organization which specializes in tour booking, studio management, band management and graphic design, brought the Vineland-based band into the family fold, adding the locals to their roster. Joining the likes of, Apparitions, As They Sleep, Damien Deadson, It Lies Within, The Party Foul and Your Chance to Die, Every Minute Can Kill look forward to their future within the Infamous family, sharing on Facebook, “They’re going to help us do big things.”

In the Market for Evening Plans?

Every Minute Can Kill is performing this evening in Levittown, Pa. alongside At Daybreak, Me Versus I, The Pugilist and It’s a Trap. The M.O.S.H.-ing begins at 5:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, located at 89 Pinewood Drive.

“If music be the food of love, play on.”

Nicely played, William; nicely played, and while many individuals have an adverse reaction to Shakespeare— joining the ranks of countless high school graduates, all of whom lost the taste for prose somewhere between the umpteenth reading of “Romeo and Juliet” and the mandatory participation in the in-class performance of “Julius Caesar“— the ol’ playwright may just be on to something.

Music, that rare substance that possesses the power to echo the tales of past protests, bears the marks of the movements of generations and whispers the collective history of humanity.  A form of sustenance, music fuels individual appetites and brings friends and strangers to the table.

While musical starvation in our world of interconnectivity and online piracy is virtually impossible, I feel as though I’d be committing nothing short of forcible famine to abandon M.O.S.H. This project, which rose from the ashes of a class requirement, has grown into more than a method of grading and evaluation. It’s a form of sustenance. The time has come and, if I may borrow the immortal prose of Shakespeare, I intend to “play on.”

Write On: The Greatest Hits

In our modern world, the three-meals-a-day model took a stagedive. So, while waiting for that next big musical feast, nibbling is fully advisable and certainly recommended. Below, to save you the trouble of raiding the fridge of pop-punk, alternative rock and indie acoustics, you’ll find a collection of bite-worthy reads that should hold even the most insatiable appetite for a spell.


Photo courtesy of Brandon Debes

A1 Carmen Magro discusses his musical influences, what brought him to music and what his songs mean to him and his fans

B3 Review: “Who Shot Rock and Roll” brings the genre to life

C5 I Call Fives receive praise for their latest endeavor, “Someone That’s Not You”

D4 Every Minute Can Kill discuss the band’s formation, “Faceless Creatures” and offer tips on being a success in the local music scene

E2 Bon Jovi, Springsteen, Alesana and Ace Built this City on Rock and Roll

Bonus: the possibility of a vending machine eating your last dollar bill is slim to none. No need to fear dropping all of your change and looking like a fool, falling to your knees in a desperate scramble to stop the coins from rolling between the Coke machine and your intended treasure trove of over-priced goodies. The tears when you realize that your last quarter just found its way into Narnia via the blackest of abysses; save them for the last all-nighter of the semester.*

*For the sake of artistic direction, let’s just assume that the above example is completely fictitious in nature.

Oh the Horror: Local artists share their stories of bad timing, equipment glitches and wardrobe malfunctions

Eat your tell-tale heart out Edgar Allan Poe. Much like the monster in the closet, musicians must battle the technical glitches, flat tires and wardrobe malfunctions that go bump in the night.

Beyond the member-generated terror— it is a general consensus that girlfriends are never welcomed to band practice— horror stories plague bands, from the nationally known to the garage-band heroes. As post-hardcore outfit, Every Minute Can Kill, rockers, Beyond the Element, and alternative rock-ensemble, The World Outside, can attest, ghastly tales perpetuate more than dark and stormy nights.

In a Kingdom by the Sea

After finishing recording their album, “Get Your Groove On,” in Toms River, Vineland-based Every Minute Can Kill ventured to a nearby White Castle to replenish the calories that rocking out burns. While the band was listening to the rough mixes of their tracks— naturally with the music up and windows down— a rusted pickup truck, with no windows, matched pace with them. A mile or so later, after bearing the brunt of an angry onslaught of profanity laced death threats, the truck with the noted “skinhead” drove off, leaving Every Minute Can Kill with a tale that would do Poe proud. “He drove away and left us unscathed,” said Rich Williams, guitarist for the band. “But we still joke around that he almost ripped our old bassist, Frank, right out of the car.”

Beyond the Element’s Mike Badgley and Corey Presner at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia during their reunion show. Photo by Sara Jordan Reis

While the road is an assumed platform for nightmares, a venue’s stage is where a nightmare can quickly mutate into a full-blown terror. Factors such as equipment failure and nerves can dramatically affect a band’s performance. Unfortunately, for Jersey-born Beyond the Element, both demons have reared their ugly heads during their set.

“Our first show with Kevin— no offense Kevin— he played everything 30 times faster [than the rest of us],” said bassist and vocalist, Corey Presner with a laugh. “He played different music than us.”

When Beyond the Element’s drummer, Kevin Reardon, is not “playing different music,” he is busy destroying his drum set. During their set one evening, Reardon kicked a whole in his bass drum, forcing him to think fast. “That was fun,” said Reardon with a sigh. “I had to turn the bass drum around [in the middle of the song] and finish the show on the front of it.”

Quote the Raven

Much like a crowdsurfer materializing out of the audience and fulfilling the kicks-to-the-head quota every show-goer agrees to, band horror stories crop up unexpectedly, ambushing bands both internationally known and locally grown. Technical glitches, on-stage mistakes and van problems pepper the existence of any band, spreading panic in their arrivals; a panic rivaled only by that of a rookie show-goer when a M.O.S.H. pit opens up and the call for a “wall of death” echoes throughout the venue.

Transforming nightmares into, “One day we’ll look back on this and laugh,” local acts, Every Minute Can Kill, Beyond the Element and The World Outside face the fears that could fall the House of Usher with each set. After all, the show must go on.

Picture of Shows Past: Tim of Honor Bright Performing at Harmony Grange

Tim, vocalist and guitarist of Syracuse-based pop-rock outfit, Honor Bright, 
performing at the Harmony Grange in Delaware on Nov. 11, 2010

The World Outside to Open for Bowling for Soup Sunday, April 22

The World Outside from left to right: Zach Hartman, Kris Morganti, Max Santoro and Erika Lapp.

While Debbie, the title protagonist in Bowling for Soup’s hit, “1985,” “just hit the wall,” local act, The World Outside, is busy breaking down the walls separating them from their Northeast niche to…well, the world outside.

With their positive lyrics, occasional harsh vocals and melodic harmonies in tow, The World Outside will take the stage Sunday, April 22 at the Chameleon Club, located at 223 North Water St. in Lancaster, Pa., in support of Freshman 15, Patent Pending and Bowling for Soup.

The Bucks County-based alternative rock outfit is no stranger to the stage. Having opened for Fuel at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, Pa. last month, The World Outside is quickly capitalizing on Zach Hartman’s vocals and piano prowess, drummer, Max Santoro’s well-beyond-his-15-years talent, bassist, Kris Morganti’s infectious on-stage energy and finally, guitarist, Erika Lapp’s, harmonies.

“This could probably be the biggest show we’ve ever played,” Hartman said with an audible enthusiasm. “What we’re most anticipating is the crowd,” Morganti added, echoing Hartman’s sentiment.

The crowd, which Santoro suspects to be upwards of 1,000, would certainly do well to arrive at the Chameleon Club in time to catch The World Outside’s set. With a unique sound, fused together through a collective love of music, endless talent and undeniable friendship, The World Outside promises to deliver a show, spotlighting their relentless hard work and dedication to a craft they hope to make a career.

NEEDMORE Arrives in Philly Sunday, April 22

Photo courtesy of NEEDMORE's press kit

With a career cruising towards a new altitude— like so many of the planes flying under Delta Airlines’ blue and red, who featured the Los Angeles-born band’s track, “Lost My Way,” during all of their in-flight music— NEEDMORE lands in Philadelphia Sunday, April 22.

While hearing a song titled, “Lost My Way” on a plane would send my mother into a fear-induced frenzy rivaled only by the classic Twilight Zone episode or in-flight breakdown on the summer hit, Bridesmaids, NEEDMORE has certainly found their way and their wings.

Touring in support of their recently released studio record, Back at the Start, which features the hit “Lost My Way” and “Too Late,” NEEDMORE will transform The M Room, located at 15 West Girard Ave., into a platform for their self-defined “no gimmicks” act. The album, an embodiment of how the band now approaches song writing, symbolizes a new start for the members and fans alike.

Garnering nearly 10 million plays across the social media spectrum, including the decrepit beast, Myspace— Mywhat?— NEEDMORE, the self-made band that earned the title “Our Stage’s #1 Rock Band” from MTV, promises to demonstrate to Philadelphia just why they are deserving of such high praise.

With heartfelt melodies, accompanied by the gentle strumming of guitars, sections of piano driven verses and rhythmic drumbeats, NEEDMORE’s relatable lyrics, delivered in a tidy pop-rock package, connects the three members to fans and naysayers alike.

The show, which also features Vanity Theft, begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 and available to everyone that is 21 and older. Ticket information can be found here.

Carmen Magro discusses his musical influences, what brought him to music and what his songs mean to him and his fans

music (noun) – a : the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity
b : vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony

substance (noun) – a : essential nature
b : a fundamental or characteristic part or quality

heart (noun) – a : the central or innermost part
b : the essential or most vital part of something

Simple definitions defined by Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, simple concepts; yet at times, it feels as though the industry has lost sight of the cornerstone of music— to connect with people on a different level; a level other means of entertainment cannot quite reach.

We’ll sell out before you even know who we are,” a lyric belted out by Davey Fortner of Freshman 15 that, while satirical in nature, reveals an ugly truth: just how far are musicians willing to go to achieve their dreams? While a concrete answer cannot be found in books or online blogs, one thing is certain, Carmen Magro, a Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter and the frontman of an adult contemporary outfit bearing the same name, will never sacrifice his music for fame.

Carmen Magro, Philadelphia resident and singer-songwriter of Carmen Magro. Photo courtesy of Carmen Magro's press kit available at http://www.carmenmagro.com/home.html

The definition of music of substance and heart, Carmen Magro, the man not the band, got his start in the trade by using anything and everything available to him— including the family’s kitchen pots and pans—  to assemble notes and rhythms. After receiving his first drum kit for his 14th birthday, Magro’s eyes opened to the realm of performing on stage.

As is true with many creative professions, articles of substance cannot be forged without trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, Magro lost his father when he was 10, and his mother when he was 19 due to breast cancer. “Those experiences humbled me to really come in tune with my feelings and learn to put them into music,” said Magro. “I find I can’t sing unless it is truly from my heart so I put my heart into every melody and song I write.”

Carmen Magro, the band, consists of Carmen Magro (Vocals, Piano, Keys, Guitar), Chuck Scarpello (Bass), Mark Burkert (Guitar), Dave Murphy (Drums), Steve Sauer (Keys/Synth/Supporting Vocals and Brian Fitzgerald (Violin/vocals). The band recently performed prior to and during halftime of a Philadelphia 76’s game.

Personally, what brought you to music?

Music is, without a doubt, an extension of my soul. I feel I have so much to share with the world and to reiterate what I learn from the world. I do it most easily with music. Putting rhythm, melody and lyrics together to put someone in a moment that makes a difference in their lives is a miracle that music does for all of us. I find myself writing melodies and marrying lyrics with them every minute of every day— some sad, some happy, some playful, some exotic, some tempting; all sincere and all original.

Personally, it is how I put my thoughts of the world into words to share with others. Some people write poems, some bitch and moan about everything, some people are just indifferent. I don’t know how to do any of that. I guess my music is poetic to some extent but it isn’t hard for me to write lyrics. They just come easily with the music. Sometimes I write a melody first but usually the lyrics and music come together instantly in my head and heart as soon as I have the feeling for them. Music is my sanctuary, my release from the world and my connection to it. Sometimes I feel that if I lost the ability to play my music and share it with the world, I would simply wither away and die. It is my lifeline for sure.

What about the Philly/Tri-State area music scene do you enjoy? Given that it’s a far cry from the likes of a big city, do you think it’s easier or harder to gain a following and make a name for yourself? 

As an original artist I have to believe that if you have something special, it will get recognized. But I grew up in Philly. It’s a great town and those that want to come out to hear music know where to go to hear it. I just try to put myself in a position to be heard any way possible. I’m always hoping that every show is a step in the right direction. But like other musicians, even those in big cities as you mention…all have the big and small shows and they have to find a way to give the same show for one as they would for 100 or 1,000 or 10,000. I find that part easy. I just get lost in my music and hope that someone out there enjoys it and may share it with someone else and they may share it as well. Eventually, I hope it gets to someone that feels my music can really shape the world and can open a door professionally for me. But even without that, I’ve never been disappointed playing in a Philly area venue. Whether it’s in Jersey, Delaware or Philly, I find it easy to get lost on stage, put the world aside and just let my music shine through. I wouldn’t treat a stage in LA, NYC, Nashville or anywhere in the world any differently.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: