Pretty Vacant

Pretty Vacant of Swindon, England

Before Covid-19 had come along, I’ve had several interviews I’ve yet to post. These guys were one of the bands early on to agree to an interview so finally here it is:

Q: Tell me a little bit about the band? How long have you been together.

A: The band was formed in Swindon, England in the Fall of 2018. The current lineup consists of Jordan Wheeler (bass), Joe Arthur (drums), Dave Aldous (vocals/guitar) and Jake O’Brien (lead guitar). We spent our first year together developing our unique style. We all began with a very diverse range of musical influences. An overlap in our individual moulded the Pretty Vacant sound. The band initially started with Dave and Jake jamming cover songs, we’d play things like Nirvana and RHCP with the intention of eventually writing original material. It wasn’t until Joe joined the band, that we started creating original material. Soon after, Jordan joined, completing the line-up and adding another layer of unique influence integral to our sound. In Spring 2019, we began recording demo tracks, Starlight and Whiplash, these were then released in the summer of 2019 and were used to aid in the booking of our first gig as a band.

Q: Playing gig after gig can take a toll on you & be very grueling…on average how many shows does the band play a week?

A: We gig as often as we can and take every opportunity that comes our way. We have a passion for live music and have a love for playing live gigs, we never find it a chore! We all regularly attend live music events ourselves, it’s something we enjoy whether we’re on or off stage, there’s something about the people and atmosphere that surrounds live music that makes it all worthwhile.

Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison CO

Q: What place would be your dream venue to play and why?

A: We’d have to say Red Rocks in Colorado, simply because it’s an incredible venue, it’s definitely up there with some of the most beautiful venues around the world! In terms of U.K. venues, it would have to be Alexandra Palace, London, we’ve seen some great bands there ourselves and it always has an amazing atmosphere.

Q: If you guys weren’t musicians, what would you be doing right now?

A: We all have 9 – 5s alongside the band, in an ideal world, we’d love to be able to commit to our music full time, we’re passionate about creating music and dedicate all of our spare time to the band, whether it’s writing, rehearsing or playing gigs. If we weren’t musicians, we’d definitely have to get our creative fix some other way, through other artistic endeavors. We would definitely want to be part of the local music scene in some other way!

Top to bottom: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zeppelin and The Foals

Q: What bands/artists would you love to collaborate with?

A: We have a very diverse taste in music as a band, we draw most of our inspiration from bands like, RHCP, Led Zeppelin and The Foals. We also take a lot of our punchy energy from punk bands like Idles and Slaves. In terms of collaboration, we’d love to collaborate with a brass band or orchestra in the future, the huge sound they are able to achieve is just unparalleled.

Whiplash on Spotify

Q: Let’s talk about your single, Whiplash…. what is the song about and what process goes into writing songs for the band?

A: Well, lyrically, Whiplash is very subjective and following on from our last answer, it’s style draws largely from our influences like Arctic Monkeys’ lyricist Alex Turner and Anthony Kiedis, of RHCP. In terms of our writing process, we usually start with a riff or hook, once we have something solid, we jam around with it until we have the foundations of a song, this is evident in the bass intro of Whiplash!

Q: You have another single Starlight, do you think you will finish a full- length album inn2020 or maybe an EP?

A: We’re actually in the process of writing and recording our debut album. The working title is currently, “Pretty Vacant Penthouse Basement”, with a pencilled in release date of Fall/Winter 2020. We’ve been working on it for some time and hope to have it finished very soon, we really want to portray our absolute best, so it’s something we’ve been really taking our time with.

Q: What artists are you excited about these days?

A: We’re really excited for Tame Impala, Thee Oh Sees, Idles, The Strokes, Slaves and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. We’re also looking forward to hearing more from some great local bands like YVES, who have recently made a return under the name of The New Black and ska bands like Slagerji, both incredible bands that are well worth checking out.

Q: What does the future have in store for Pretty Vacant?

A: More gigs, more music, more funk, more punk.

Pretty Vacant is currently at home with the rest of the world as we hope to find a cure for Covid-19. They will be working on that album that they hope to have released sometime by the Fall/Winter.

You can check out their music at Pretty Vacant’s music and find also on Spotify.

Stay tuned for more interviews with The Line, Michigander, Doll Skin, Lillie Mae, Jessy Covets, Ghosts of Paul Revere, Chance Emerson and Simon Finn.

Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

5 Questions with Jessica Gerhardt

Q: You started writing music at a very young age. What was the first song you ever wrote?

A: It was called “When I Am Walking in the Rain“. I was about 8 yrs old. My second song was co-wrote with a childhood friend Ellie and it was called, “Cold Spaghetti”. I still feel the need to record that one. It has a fun kind of “My Sharona” vibe.

Q: You taught yourself how to play ukulele & then started writing more songs. Tell me about your songwriting process, where does your inspiration come from?

A: Inspiration comes from so many sources… Sometimes just being still and noticing beauty around me. Sometimes an emotion or feeling fills me so much that I have to express it in a song to get it out of my system. Sometimes conversations with friends. Experiences in a prayer…The list goes on. Sometimes I’ll start with a lyrical or thematic concept and other times I’ll just pick up an instrument and start playing, see what comes out and begin humming a melody over it. It changes all the time which makes it pretty fun.

Grandma Barbie 1940 – 2019

Q: You have a song, Keep it Simple, being released on 3/10 that is very personal to you. Tell me what the song is about.

A: It’s about my Grandma Barbie who passed away last year. I was taking time to be alone with myself and my grief sometime after she died and I was trying to reflect on all things I could remember about her. One thing that came to mind is how whenever we would get into deep philosophical and theological conversations, where I would get anxious over complicating things, she would always say, “Keep it simple, Jessie.” I used to think she was avoiding hard questions but I recognize the wisdom in accepting that I won’t ever have all the answers and to hold fast the simple, sustaining things that ground me. After she died, I struggled with feelings of doubt in contemplating mortality. Where was she now? Would I ever see her again? Is she only as alive as the memories are that I and others have of her? I kept coming back to her words. And in prayer I feel a sense of her saying “of course I’m still with you Jessie”. So I channeled all of this into a song. I cried as I wrote it. I decided to release it on the 10th of March because it’s the anniversary of her passing and what would’ve been her 80th birthday and I felt it was a fitting way to honor her.

Tix for the show Jessica Gerhardt Tix

Q: You have a big show on 3/9 supporting Andrea von Kampen at The Lost Church in San Francisco. How excited are you to perform your new music? What does this opportunity mean to you?

A: I’m very excited for the show! I haven’t played in San Francisco since July of last year so I’m looking forward to playing in the Bay again. And I was stoked to be invited to share a bill with Andrea. I heard her music on a Spotify playlist a couple of years ago, shazamed her song and recognized her name. We had mutual friends in Lincoln. I met her at a show we played in LA and then we kept in touch after that. I’m looking forward to hearing her new music as well.

Q: What can we expect in the future from Jessica Gerhardt?

A: I’m preparing to release a few more new songs this year in the coming months, and I’m working on a couple new music videos. I’m planning to go on tour in June and I’m hoping to release my first full length record in 2021. Other than that, I plan to continue to curate music events in the LA area with fellow artists, both in homes and in venues. My monthly acoustic house show series, Friday at the Fox Den, just celebrated its 1 year and has been really life giving. And I’ve enjoyed putting shows together at The Hotel Cafe, The Hi Hat and The Love Song Bar, to name a few.

You can catch Jessica tonight at The Lost Church in San Fran & her new single will be released tomorrow called Keep it Simple. For more info on Jessica, go to Linktree

I will be attending the Doll Skin show at Alchemy Providence on Saturday, 3/14. That interview will post this weekend…

Until then, I’m Linda Dias – Your Music Stylist

Andrea Come Home

Andrea von Kampen

I got to ask acoustic guitarist & singer Andrea von Kampen a few questions about her music and here’s what she had to say..

Q: When did you first pick up a guitar & realize you wanted to become a singer?

A: I knew I wanted to play music and sing from a very young age. My family was musical and I wanted to put on a show pretty much from the get go.

Q: As a songwriter, where do the inspiration for your songs come from?

A: Lots of different places! I read a lot of fiction, poetry, I listen to great music. I pull inspiration from nature and people I meet.

Nebraska

Q: Growing up in Lincoln, Nebraska, did you envision yourself playing at venues like The Bourbon Theatre?

A: Not really! I really grew up a little bit outside of Lincoln and thought I would go to Nashville or a bigger city to start playing. It wasn’t till after I dropped out of Belmont that I really tried to play and make connections in Lincoln.

Forever Young on Spotify

Q: Did I see that your cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young has over 17M streams on Spotify? That’s insane…although it’s a really great cover and I can see why. What made you choose that song?

A: I didn’t actually pick the song. My friend, Tom, who made these Christmas adverts from the past three years, asked if I would cover “Forever Young” this year. I had no clue what the story line of the advert would be but I trusted Tom and made the cover.

Q: Let’s talk about your music… You’ve released 3 EP’s (Another Day, Desdemona and Christmas Project) an Audiotree Live album and your most recent Old Country released in 2019. You sort of have a Joni Mitchell kind of vibe. My favorite track on here is Portland…you really are an amazing storyteller.. These songs seem very personal.. how long did it take you to complete this album?

A. Well thanks so much for the kind words. I wrote “Old Country” over the course of a year or so.

Dave Simonett of Trampled Turtles

Q: You are going on tour for Dave Simonett of Trampled Turtles in March. How excited are you for the upcoming tour?

A: Really excited!! I always love listening to Dave and can’t wait to hear his new album. Especially hearing it live for so many nights in a row.

Von Kampen’s upcoming tour dates

Q: If you could play any music festival this year, which one would it be?

A: Oh man, so many..

EP releasing on March 13, 2020
Clip from First Meeting

Q: What can your fans expect from you in 2020?

A: In a few weeks, I’ll be releasing an EP I wrote for a Shakespeare company. They are performing “Romeo and Juliet” and I wrote 5 songs for 5 different scenes in the play. Later this Spring, the soundtrack I wrote for the film Molto Bella will be released. Beyond that, I’m hoping to spend a good part of 2020 writing my new album and playing shows.

Andrea starts her upcoming 2020 tour on 3/7 in Denver at Swallow Hill Music and you can get your tix at Andrea von Kampen.

Stream her music on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube, Deezer, Play Music, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

Stay tuned for more interviews with Pretty Vacant, The Line, Michigander, Jessy Covets, Lillie Mae and Doll Skin.

Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

High Wind of Change

L to R: Highwind’s Dan Synn, Chris Russo

I got to talk to Chris Russo Jr of Highwind about his band w/Dan Synn and here’s what he had to say..

Q: Your band, Highwind, consists of 2 people. You (vocals & guitar) and Dan Synn (vocals & bass)…when did the two of you decide to come together? And do you have other musicians filling in on other instruments when playing at clubs?

A: Dan and I have been friends for a very long time. About 8 or 9 years now.. I was finishing up the, “How You’ve Been?” EP with my producer, CJ Rarela, at the time. Dan had been living in California for a few years. He had come back home to New Jersey a few months prior to us meeting up. Around the time I started to work on the EP, I think. I was looking for fill-in members to play some shows with me. He hit me up not too long after a I had posted a Facebook status and I started showing him how to play everything about a week later. After a few months of playing with me, I asked him if he actually wanted to be a part of Highwind and we became the lineup you see today. We have several rotating fill-in members for lead guitar and drums. It’s usually friends of ours from other bands in the area that are willing to help us out.

The stage at The Stone Pony, Asbury Park NJ

Q: Coming out of Asbury Park, NJ where many musicians have performed at the infamous The Stone Pony, is that a venue that the band aspires to play one day? It’s considered to have helped the music careers of Springsteen, Van Zandt and Southside Johnny.

A: I would love to play at the Stone Pony! I’ve played there a couple of times with bands that I used to be in. I’ve also seen so many of my favorite bands at that venue. I would love to have Highwind take the stage there one day.

Q: Do you consider your sound alternative rock or pop rock? To me, it’s more of a hard alt rock sound… and what bands do you see as a musical influence?

A: I would say a bit of all of that, to be honest. A lot of the newer stuff we are getting ready to record is a bit more pop rock with a technical aspect to it. I would definitely say we definitely fluctuate between alternative and pop, it all just really depends on the song. Dan and I really look up to bands like Paramore, Anberlin and Sleeping With Sirens. I, personally look up to alternative rock/pop-punk bands like As it Is, Taking Back Sunday, The Downtown Fiction and Polar Bear Club, just to name a few. I also really love indie pop acts like The 1975 and Flor, and really try to incorporate sounds that those kinds of bands have into our music.

Q: My favorite track on the EP is Synchronicity. The lyrics, “Who lit the match that set the rose you call yourself ablaze. I blame myself cause even then I could have dropped my gaze.” What is the song about exactly?

A: Synchronicity is basically about someone who lead me on, turned me down, and made me feel like it was incredibly manipulated. It was my ‘heartbreak’ song on the record and I used it to vent a lot of what I was feeling at the time, The story itself is really long, but that’s the summed up version.

2023 – Highwind

Q: You asked your fans to show up and be in the 2023 video that was shot at the The Clubhouse at Tom’s River. How much does your fan base mean to you?

A: We love our fans, supporters and friends who show their love for what we do. We are super grateful for anyone who gives even the slightest bit of attention, love and/or care for what we do. This band wouldn’t really exist without their support. I always want to do everything I can to give back to those who support Highwind. I really enjoy interacting with our supporters through Instagram HighwindNJ and Twitter HighwindBandNJ.

Q: What band would you love to open up for? And what venue would it be?

A: I have a long list of bands and artists I would love to open up for. As it is are definitely at the top of the list. Selfish Things, nothing nowhere, Belmont, Paramore, Taking Back Sunday, Movements, Waterparks, Four Year Strong, flor, Rise Against, Boston Manor, and Grayscale are all on that list. I can think of so many more too.

Q: In your spare time, what do you and Dan like to do?

A: Dan is actually working on music production! He really is into mixing, audio engineering and all of the behind the scenes technology that goes into making a record. I have a deep love for video gaming. I’ve been playing Nintendo systems for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been super into Super Mario Bros., Custom Robo and the Vs. Capcom series’ of games. I’ve also been super into computer gaming as of recent. I’ve been playing a lot of Rocket League in the little bit of time that I have.

Q: Can we expect to see a full length album in 2020?

A: I wouldn’t expect a full album but I would expect new music in the form of singles and other surprises here and there. We have some really cool things planned out for 2020.

You can listen to Highwind at the Highwind station on Spotify and on Apple Music at Highwind station. For t shirt merch, you can go to Synchronicity T-shirt.

Stay tuned for more interviews with Pretty Vacant, Jessy Covets, Andrea Von Kampen, Lillie Mae and Michigander..

Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

A Man Called Hoss

Jason “Hoss” Hicks

When I was looking for bands to interview, I came across Jason’s IG @croonerandstrummer and thought now this looks interesting. I did a little research and asked him if he’d like to answer some questions. Here’s what he had to say..

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself & when did you first become interested in performing music.

A: I have always been a musician, mostly growing up in various ensembles and choirs, performing in plays etc. I probably got the bug early. My early teens and in high school i would dream of performing live to audiences and did so a few times. It wasn’t until really until I was around 21 yrs that I had really wanted to learn an instrument and sing at the same. I saw The Reverend Horton Heat and Southern Culture on The Skids at the The 930 Club in Washington DC and was floored by the energy. And then, my buddy and I were walking around in Bethesda MD and ran into this little joint and a band called Jumpin‘ Jupiter Live in Arlington, VA 2015 were playing. Straight up rockabilly music that I had been dreaming of. I became friends with those guys and learned a lot about traveling and playing live from hauling their gear around and taking in the scene.

Q: Your style is quite a mashup of different musical genres. How would you describe it and what category would it fall in to?

A: Right now, I would throw it into the Americana category. I mix in rockabilly, classic country, folk, singer-songwriter, old times music and bluegrass. I can listen to The Stray Cats, George Jones, The Louvin Brothers, Lillie Mae, Neko Case, First Aid Kit in one sitting and be fine.

Q: Is there a lot of interest in that style of music in Virginia? And what was your first gig ever? Tell me about that experience performing live for the first time.

A: This music is gigantic in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. I travel mostly to the Appalachian areas of VA and TN to play, such as Charlottesville, Knoxville, Bristol and Johnson City. These areas are rich in bluegrass, old timey music. My first gig was at the Iota Club in Arlington, VA. We really wanted to play out live. It was with a band called The Peashooters. We weren’t quite ready and it was a bit rough. Good thing we were the opener! But you have to cut your teeth somewhere and work out the kinks. I remember just trying to strum chords properly and sing at the same time. But it was adrenaline pumping with nerves and excitement to finally get out there and play in front of people.

Q: Your band is currently called the Southsiders. You’ve also been in a few other bands. Tell me about it the progression you went through to now being with your current band.

A: Southsiders is a name a I use every now and again…nothing permanent. I started out in a straight up rockabilly band playing covers from the 1950’s. But I am a writer, so I loved this opportunity to write write write and I did. Being in a band also has its quirks and you start finding out about people and relating and what drives you nuts. So my first band was The Peashooters lasted a year or so. My bass player Louie Newmeyer and I decided to start another band with a different style. There were hundreds of rockabilly bands coming around in the 90’s. We started a skiffle band called The Old Line Skiffle Combo. This was a mix of rockabilly, jazz and jug band folk music. No one was doing it. I played with this band for 15 years! We did two releases. We played in every festival and went to Europe as well. I even started a band called Speedway Operator which did rockabilly versions of The Smiths and Morrissey songs. We then wrote our own material and had a release as well. Currently, I play solo and bring a band along when it calls for it. I mix a lot of genres together when I play live. As I get older, I feel the need for less personnel. I am really enjoying bands like Alison Kraus, Nickel Creek, Kings of Convenience, Lillie Mae, Colter Wall. A lot of new grass bands..quieter folk like music. More musically directed..more songwriting..more freedom and no relying on other people. It’s quite freeing actually to say “Nope. I actually don’t have to do that.”

L to R: Brian Setzer, Johnny Marr

Q: Name some of your musical influences. What about them that makes them special to you? What does their music mean to you?

A: I remember going to the local Target type store when I was a kid. I think it was called Mammoth Mart. I would pick up the latest Stray Cats album. My mom would take me to the local record store called Record Sword when I was a teen to get the latest pop records of the 80’s and then onto The Smiths and The Cure cassettes. Even picked up a few Agent Orange and Dead Kennedys cassettes. Great mix of music. I was floored early by Brian Setzer and Johnny Marr’s guitar playing. Then the live shows of Reverend Horton Heat and The Living End Official Page. I caught some great alternative shows as well like Belly, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Beastie Boys. Big mix of stage shows and genres before I actually started to play an instrument. My tastes narrowed as I got older and have stuck to a main genre but enjoy adding in different influences to keep it interesting.

Q: You performed in the 2018 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival in 2018. Being a fan of music in general, who were you most excited seeing perform and did you get to meet any of these nationally acclaimed artists?

A: I have played Rhythm and Roots on many occasions and what is cool about the festival is you can meet any of the bands like they were your neighbors. We all eat at the same place, play the same stages. There is always a hello. I was really excited to see Third Man Recording artist Lillie Mae and we actually ended up parking vans next to each other and hung out on the last day of the festival in the parking lot for awhile and we have remained friends since. Not everyone is approachable like that. When you get to talk and hang out with an influence, it really ices the cake. We stayed at the same hotel with Jerry Douglas and Charlie Cushman and the folks from Earls of Leicester band. Nashville’s finest musicians. We watched them play and then decided we should never play again haha! Talk about pro players. Great people!

New trio Third Rail Sleepers (Jason Hicks on vocals & guitar; Shea Roebuck on upright bass and Ben Lassiter on dobro)

Q: What is Jason “Hoss” Hicks working on next?

A: I am constantly writing new songs and recording in various spots. I love visiting The Earnest Tube and Bigtone Records to do recording in Bristol VA and TN. I am working on a trio right now with an acoustic guitar, upright bass and dobro. It is looking to be a great project. To be out on the road soon. I have spent most of my time away from home when I play. Mostly festivals and when I do travel to venues, I usually like to do a 3 day weekend type of tour. No months touring or staying out until 3 am anymore haha!

You can find Jason on his official website: Jason Hoss Hicks official page Watch his live performances on YouTube and his Facebook page JHossHicks. Jason will be hitting the road for a few dates down south starting on 2/11 at Raleigh Times in NC.

Still up, interviews from Highwind, Andrea Von Kampen, Jessy Covets and Pretty Vacant.

Until then, I am Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

Meggie Brown Paper Bag

Meggie Brown Band

I found out about this band from The Guardian’s article, 50 New Artist for 2020. I asked Meggie Cousland, the lead singer of the band, some questions and here’s what she had to say.

The Guardian’s Best New Music for 2020 article

Q: Your name is Meggie Cousland but the band’s name is the Meggie Brown Band. What made you choose that name?

A: Everything felt brown related at the time. I was writing on brown paper as it was cheap for rolls and rolls. One of my first songs I wrote was called “lily brown” and thought to myself, what’s wrong with brown? I felt very attracted to the name.

Q: The band used to practice at your place, which was a mansion on an isolated area of Southland. Did you think the place was haunted? Sounds kind of creepy.

A: It was Sir Thomas Lipton’s mansion. Yes it was haunted or my brains were haunted. One or the other for sure. 5 acres friendly ghosts. Unforgettable. Sad to have been evicted.

Live at Rough Trade East March 28, 2018

Q: How did it feel to perform live for the first time as a band?

A: Terrible. Didn’t know what I was doing or why. But did it and loved it in the end. And now it’s my happy place.

O2 Brixton Academy capacity: 4921

Q: So when Meggie Brown first started gigging, you soon found yourself supporting Franz Ferdinand. That’s pretty huge. How was the transition going from playing small clubs to a venue with a 4900+ capacity? Overwhelming?

A: It was cool. Want to do it again please. I like both small crowd and big cause people are people and songs are songs.

Q: Meggie Brown is not only diverse in gender but also in sexuality. You must be proud of that. Describe what that means to you as someone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community.

A: I feel mixed. One hand, I’m so happy and proud. On the other, that’s very normal for me to have genders and specialities around me, For that to be objectified in any way or even noticed reminds me we have a long way to go.

Q: What one word describes each of your band members and how have they changed your life for the better?

A: They haven’t. Just kidding. 1) Greg…Gold…his smile 2) Tom…weasel..his mustache 3) Kayleigh…snacks..she brings good snacks 4) Rachel…hair…I like her hair 5) Nick…stable..finally we have a bassist for keeps!!

Live at Berlin Tempodrom 6/7/2019

Q: Reviews say your band is full of high energy and exudes fun and personality on stage. What do you hope to bring the fans with each performance?

A: There’s so many people in the band that it’s different each time. Can’t really control all, I know it’s a cocktail of humans who have lots of fun together! I hope t bring a tiny bit of escapism from our very serious lives.

Q: Who are some of the band’s biggest musical influences?

A: I think the band members all have different influences which keeps things interesting and keeps it tense at times, I am greedyyyy

Q: “I Said Salute Me” on Spotify released in November ‘19, is this a song about someone not loving you back? The line, “Drop and give me 10” has been on repeat in my head for about a week now.

A: Woohoo…..you got in one

50 new artists for 2020

Q: The Guardian’s online news site recently named your band, “50 new artists to watch in 2020”. This is quite an honor. What was the band’s reaction when you saw the article?

A: Not sure, they didn’t say much about it. I think I embarrassed some of them with ketamine references which made the headline. (Whoops) They’re all very sober people you see. Well half of them are. Hoping this interview will get them out of trouble with their mums and dads.

Q: What should your fans look forward to in 2020? Are we going to see an album? Tour in the US?

A: We got this EP still coming out and I want to record more and the US. But ya know how it goes, it depends on who wants us. We’re here to entertain if u want us.

You can find Meggie Brown on Instagram @meggiebrownmusic Facebook: @MeggieBrown Spotify: Meggie Brown and where streaming is available.

This band is surely one to watch out for in 2020. Stay tuned for interviews from Jessy Covets & her band Peachy McQueen, Pretty Vacant, Jason “Hoss” Hicks and Andrea Von Kampen.

Until then…Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

Kids Unincorporated

Jarrett, Alex, Jake, Jason

The band, The Unincorporated, intrigued me as they kept popping up on my Instagram feed so I decided to check them out. They are exactly the type of artist that I would be rotating on my playlists. They play that alternative rock punk style of music who appear to have a great time every night when they go out and perform. I asked and they agreed to answer some questions..

Q: What made you choose the band’s name?

A: The name is based on being an outsider or apart from a larger group. The word “unincorporated” is largely used in reference to communities or territories that are unregulated by a local government but therefore lack the benefits. I liked the implications of “otherness” in exchange for autonomy. It’s a theme that comes up often in our songs. Alienation as a result of individualism, or a desire to overcome feelings of alienation. I think music, broadly speaking, is an attempt to be comprehended by people you normally feel apart from. So labeling the band as being “apart from” was a good way to sort of set our intentions of communication or creating something larger than ourselves.

New Year’s Eve at The Grape Escape in Galena, IL

Q: The band formed in 2015… how did you all get together?

A: I (Jake) started the band with a friend in 2015. We started playing small D.I.Y. shows. We’ve had many different lineups over the years, and in act, the friend I originally started the band with left this past March. The longest member aside from myself is Jason, who plays drums. He’s been with the band for about two and a half years now. I knew Jason through a couple of bands I’d seen him play in. I essentially just kept bugging him until he agreed to join. His drumming and arranging, as well as his connections, are what has taken the band to a new level… We recently added Jarrett (lead guitar) and Alex (bass). They played in a cover band together and responded to one of our ads looking for members. We kind of lucked out finding two talented people who had played together already and wanted to join us. I’m very fortunate in that Jason has been playing music a long time and was always able to find fill in musicians when we’ve needed them. That allowed us to stay active as people came and went. We now have a solid lineup and I’m really excited about what’s coming next.

Q: So you are from Cedar Rapids, IA…I was reading that Iowa City & Cedar Rapids has a big D.I.Y. scene. Tell me more about the D.I.Y. shows that you’ve participated in & what is your favorite place to perform in IA?

A: Yeah, I actually live in Iowa City currently but I’m from Cedar Rapids and Jason lives there. When the band first started, those D.I.Y. shows are the first places we actually got in front of people. Jason actually first saw The Unincorporated play at a basement show. There’s definitely a lot of places where anybody has the opportunity to get on stage and showcase their talents, which is so important. As far as our favorite venue, that’s a hard call. A lot of time it’s dependent on how many stairs we have to carry the gear up or down. I think in the last year or so Iowa City Yacht Club is where we’ve had the most fun.

Q: Who do you consider to be your biggest musical influences?

A: Well, I think like all bands, if you ask us individually, you’ll get four pretty distinct answers. As far as myself, Green Day, Frank Turner, The Fratells and Jason Isbell. Musically somewhere between pop/punk and alt-country. I’m generally pretty lyric based with artists I like. I know Jason’s into a lot of progressive metal, Dream Theater, Devin Townsend but he’s a lot more eclectic than I am. Listening to his IPod on shuffle is crazy, although we both really like Clutch. Alex and Jarrett are both more inclined towards classic rock and 80’s stuff.

Q: Your EP, “Too Much Caffeine” was released almost a year ago..talk about the process of what went into making it..

A: Too Much Caffeine (video courtesy of YouTube) was sort of the culmination of the first four years of the band. We’d put out a handful of stuff on our own but nothing really official. When Jason joined, we decided to sort of cut ties with the past but before doing so salvage what we thought was our best stuff. We reworked those 5 songs and funny enough there seemed to be a theme to them. We worked with Nick and Brent of Wolfpack Productions Cedar Rapids. We’d known those guys a while and they had approached us a few times about working with them. Having them produce and the addition of Jason on drums is what made that EP what it is, their impact is immeasurable.

Q: You are playing a lot of clubs right now.. what’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on tour?

A: Funny enough, I think the craziest thing we’ve actually ever seen was actually at a show in Iowa City. There was an early show before ours so after we loaded in we’d figure we’d just chill and hang out. I won’t say the name but this band? Act? I don’t know what you’d call it. But before we knew it, one person was more or less naked on stage spitting up blood and using a mannequin arm as a cowbell while the other person played bass to some industrial backing tracks. Now for the record, I’m sure there is a time and place where this goes over very well but like at 6pm in an empty bar in front of a half dozen or so dudes wearing jeans and t-shirts who just wanna kill time before a rock show, it was strange to say the least.

Q: When can we expect to see new music from the band? And what are your plans for 2020?

A: I can’t give you a time frame quite yet for new music but I have twenty new songs written and we’re currently laying a handful of unreleased songs live. For 2020, we’ll be getting out to a bunch of new cities in the Midwest. We fund all ur recording time by playing full nights at bars so some dates are all original sets, some are four hour shows where we play a little bit of everything. We just want to get in front of as many people as possible.

The Unincorporated start their 2020 tour on Saturday January 18th at Brent River Brewing Co in Rock Island, IL.

You can follow The Unincorporated on Instagram: @the_unincorprated Twitter: @Unincorporated_ Facebook: The Unincorporated and listen on Spotify. Their official website The Unincorporated Official webpage

Im sure we will be seeing more of them in 2020. But until next time… Your Music Stylist. – Linda Dias

I Can Be a Frog

Left to Right: Ben Callahan, Ian Whitney & Mitchell Rowe.. missing Omar Shawish

I first discovered the band Frog when I was planning on attending a show in Providence, RI at the club Alchemy Providence RI.. there were several bands on the bill but Frog caught my attention because 1) they are a local band from Attleboro, MA and 2) I was curious about the origin of the band name. So I sat down with them at the show and here’s what they had to say.

Ready to play, Alchemy Providence

Q: So, how did you choose the name Frog?

A: Great question! Me and my friend John were messing around in the hallways of our high school after track practice and we smelled some nasty shit coming from the girls’ locker room. We were curious so went in and found a zip lock baggie with a dead frog in it. Very strange experience but we got a pretty good band name out of it.

Their drummer, Omar Shawish, wasn’t in attendance because of a broken arm but he was there in spirit.

Q: You guys are from MA, right? How did you get together?

A: We all know each other from school and around our freshman year of high school we all realized we shared a passion for music, specifically rock n’ roll. We started jamming under the name Porky and the Squealers and eventually started writing our own music, changed the name to Frog and here we are.

Rough Rider

Q: What sound best defines your music…who are your musical influences?

A: Our sound isn’t too particular to one genre since each album has its own sound. The Cowboy Manifesto, Cowboy Manifesto on Apple Music, gives off strong cowboy vibes as you would imagine and The Ballad of Bart, The Ballad of Bart on Apple Music is more punky and hard rock. As far as are biggest influences, I’d say Ween, The Rolling Stones, Tyler the Creator, Brockhampton, The Beastie Boys and Kanye for sure.

Ian Whitney on vocals

Q: If you could open for any artist, who would it be? Who would you want to collaborate with?

A: There are so many bands we’d want to play with it’s hard to pick just one. We want Playboi Carti, Official Playboi Carti webpage, to hop into our studio and lay down some bars. And in a perfect world, we would be opening for Ween.

Q: Talk about Moonquake.. that was released in July ‘19. How long did it take you to complete? I think my favorite track on there is “Aurora Borealis” Aurora Borealis on Apple Music but Quaalude, Quaalude on Apple Music, is pretty good too. They can almost can be considered “love songs”. Would you categorize them as such?

A: Moonquake is Frog’s magnum opus as of right now. Definitely the album we’re most proud of, our drummer Omar did an amazing job with the production and the beats, and it’s definitely our best album from a songwriting standpoint. We worked on that for like 3 or 4 months nonstop recording and writing. The album is a good mix of our goofier songs and, like you said, with Aurora Borealis & Quaalude, some more meaningful songs. Quaalude is a love song, NOT a drug song.

Ben ripping the guitar

Q: What’s up next for Frog in 2020?

A: 2020 is going to be a big year for Frog. We want to go on tour this summer and we’re always writing new stuff, so keep your eyes peeled because the boys are making big moves this year!

So check out Frog on Instagram at @frogtheband.. Check out their songs out on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music to name a few.. Their latest video, Big Beck is on YouTube, Big Beck.

Thanks to Frog for taking time to speak with me and I think we will be seeing more of them in the near future. Stay tuned for interviews with The Unincorporated Official website; Jason “Hoss” Hicks Official Website and Meggie Brown Music Facebook Page.

Until then, Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

In The Midnight Hour

The Midnight Punkz 2019

Like most of these interviews, I first learned of the band, The Midnight Punkz, through Instagram. With their catchy harmonies and great song lyrics, I can seriously see this band rising to the top in no time. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: Who are the members of your band and how did you get together?

A: I always love this question! The members of the band are Stevie Ashe & AndreI Johnson. We met in 5th grade at an elementary school in Yorktown, Virginia but we did not start playing music together until after we graduated high school. Funny story how we got together is, my old bassist was talking about Andrei in his new band and I actually texted Andrei the day after he told me that. So that’s where it really all began!

Q: Forbes Magazine, https://www.forbesmagazine.com/, branded Richmond, VA “ the underground music city everyone needs to visit”. Do you agree with them? Tell me what is so unique about the city and its music culture.

A: We do agree with them. Richmond has a very diverse group of bands that are very unique and that is awesome. They have so many underground house shows that not many people know about but they should definitely look into because it’s amazing. The city has a lot of indie artists with a unique sound and a few bands who we believe are trying too hard to sell out and make it haha! We may be a little guilty too but we have a backed off of that and realized writing a structured pop song is not us. But yes, we highly recommend people to check out the local scene.

Q: What artists do you feel your music most relates to? What genre do you think your band fits in or is it more of a melting pot of styles?

A: We feel our music is like a baby birthed from The Cars, The Cure, MGMT, The Strokes and Prince. If you listen closely, you can hear those influences in our music but it is still original. The recent singles and album I just recorded and released did not express those influences. I had a bunch of material written before I met Andrei and those songs were from that time. But our new sound is completely new and different with a variety of sounds and influences.

Q: Your single, Baby Blue, was released in September 2019 and produced by Will Beasley, Will Beasley Recording, who told me the band has a lot of positive energy which made it so easy to work with you. How long did it take you to finish the song?

A: That’s awesome! Will is a great dude! Funny story about that song. It was one of the last songs I wrote for that album. I had a crazy dream one night about a girl with a ghostly appearance and blue eyes and she was cutting through my skin! I woke up the next morning, went to the studio, laid down the drum beat bass line and some guitar chords and showed it to Will. He loved the shuffle groove and actually threw down that, as I like to call it, sexy little lick you can hear in the intro and all choruses. He then told me we should move my guitar lick to the keys and we did and it sounded amazing! The melody and the lyric in the pre chorus “Baby blue eyes still cut like a knife” were lyrics driven from that dream. I do not know who the girl was, but those lyrics hold a special place in me. So that is how that song came about. It was written, tracked and finished in a day!

Q: Your latest single, West Coast, released last November has great melodies and catchy lyrics. The lyric, “Love to the end of the summer because the night just started and we’re only getting younger” is my favorite line. Tell me what is this song about?

A: That was the first song I wrote for this album! This song is about having a long distance relationship with someone I have actually never met and sadly we don’t talk anymore. That lyric flew out of my mouth when trying to write a melody and I was so happy. Everybody is always talking about how they are only getting older and saying man I wish we could go back to the good old days and I’m just like, Dude, you’re still young, live that shit up, you’re not going to be here forever but at least pretend like you are! We only got one shot at this thing! But yes, the girl was from the west coast so I guess you could say that’s my “west coast” lover haha!

Q: When can your fans expect to see a full length album?

A: They can definitely expect to see a full length album by summer of 2020 so be ready for something fresh! We are going all out on this one and we are so stoked to share it with the world!

Q: Where do you see the band in 2020 and in 5 years?

A: Andrei and I talk a lot about this and when I say a lot I mean A LOT. I see the band playing as many shows as possible in 2020 and hopefully hitting the road and so does he, which we will make it happen so be ready for it! In 5 years, I see us headlining Lollapalooza or some big ass festival like that! We are the type of band that likes to work hard and make shit happen. We set very high goals for ourselves that one day we know we will accomplish. Let’s just say we’ve thrown around the idea that we want to be bigger than the Beatles were but we all know that’ll never happen haha! Our main focus is writing good music that everybody can refer to, sing and dance to. Because if people aren’t singing your lyrics back to you, have you really accomplished anything?

You can follow The Midnight Punkz on Facebook and on Instagram @midnightpunkz. You can stream their music on The Midnight Punkz on AppleMusic and The Midnight Punkz on Spotify.

Thanks to the band for speaking with me and I hope great success for them in 2020.. Stay tuned for interviews from Frog the Band, Jason “Hoss” Hicks and Meggie Brown Music.. And I continue my blog series on super fans with Beliebers.

Until then.. Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias

Fandom: Lovatics I

I asked 6 random super fans or self proclaimed Lovatics on Instagram these 4 questions: 1) Tell me a little bit about yourself. 2) When did you first discover Demi and her music? 3) What does Demi mean to you and why do you consider yourself a Lovatic? 4) Would you defend Demi no matter what the circumstance? Here are the responses:

Urban Dictionary’s definition of Lovatic

@fire.poot_lovato: I’m a 16 yr old from a tiny town in Germany. I’ve never been the most popular kid but I have friends who are loyal and honest which I appreciate more. I grew up with my American uncle so I grew up with the English language as well. I first discovered Demi and her music a few years ago but then I realized I actually grew up to her. I had watched her in Barney and to her starring in Camp Rock & Sonny With a Chance. That’s what makes it feel like a lifetime now. Demi is (and always has been) a huge role model, an inspiration and most importantly a lifesaver. She’s been through so much and she’s being honest about it, which makes her authentic. She makes you feel understood and proves that you can make it. Her book and documentaries inspire me every time and remind me that any day is a new opportunity to survive and to make it a good day! I’m so thankful to have discovered her! I think I’d consider myself a super fan because I’m not leaving her for anything. Anytime she’d do something, others blame her for and I know she’s only human, as I am, so I keep supporting her and know the next day is going to get better again. As a “super fan”, it’s not important whether or not you know all the lyrics by heart, rather that her personality “by heart” and love her just as she is with all her ups and downs. I’d defend her anytime. She might make mistakes. So what? Everybody makes mistakes. We are all human. But she shouldn’t get that much hate for things she does out of personal reasons or her sight of situation. She counts on us, not only as fans but also as her family. That’s what we’re here for. If a hater attacks fans it’s often because they don’t like their idols. Just as we accept people not loving Demi they should accept us loving Demi. As Demi taught us, we should show even our haters love and make the world a better place with nothing but love. In the end, Demi is an inspiring and life changing person and if anyone hates on her, I’ll defend her with nothing but love.

@demzvato_: I’m 15 yrs old from Berlin, Germany. I first heard her songs in 2017 and became a fan since 2018. I saw Demi’s documentary and saw a little bit of myself and my problems. Her statements about life helped me incredibly and cheered me up. I like her music but I’m only a Lovatic because I love her character and everything about her. Of course I would defend her but I would never insult anyone. I don’t let myself get down to that level and Demi wouldn’t want that either.

@ddlovatoforever92: I am from Brazil, state of Rio Grande do Sul, city of Porto Alegre. I met Demi from the Camp Rock tv show and have been following ever since. Demi Lovato is very special to me because I went through hard times of life and with the songs and their story, I got up and helped the people who are going through that I went through. I have Demi as an example, she encourages me to live. If someone was hurting Demi, I would do everything to make her happy again, even if the only way to make Demi happy was for me to lose everything I have. She is really very special to me.

@demi_l0vatic: I’m 13 yrs old and live in a small town in Michigan. I went to a concert of hers on 3/13/2018 and it was honestly the best day of my life. I cried a lot. One day, about 3 or 4 yrs ago, I was listening to the radio and one of her songs came on and I looked her up because I really liked it. I became very obsessed with her and thought she was inspirational. I was in a very dark time then and a lot of people always say her music saved then but it honestly did. I don’t know where I would be today without Demi. Demi Lovato is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She has saved me multiple times and I will be forever grateful. I consider myself a “super fan” because she saved my life. She believed in me when no one else did. She has the kindest heart and she is so selfless. Most of my friends call me crazy because I’m so obsessed with her but they would be the same if they took the time and actually listened to her amazing voice. I would defend her no matter what because it isn’t my place to judge even if I don’t agree with something. Not necessarily go after people who say rude things but yes I will always defend her in any situation no matter what. I owe her that for saving my life. She also has the most purest heart and deserves the world.

Lovatic “heart”

@autumn_26x: I’m 14 yrs old and live in the U.K. Scotland. I used to love Camp Rock and used to ask for it on all the time but I think I properly discovered Demi was from “Skyscraper” VEVO presents Skyscraper (live) and “Heart Attack” Honda Civic Tour presents Heart Attack (live) because my Dad used to play her all the time and I fell in love with her voice. Demi means the world to me and she’s helped me through a lot and has helped me see the world in a different way and I can’t thank her enough for that. I’d definitely support her but I know Demi wouldn’t want us to harass anyone no matter what.

@occcuuurrrt: I am 20 yrs old and live in Bangladesh. I discovered Demi after Camp Rock Disney’s Camp Rock, This is Me. Demi is my role model. Her songs make me feel good about myself and she inspires me to fight against my fears & her songs make me confident. Her songs have helped me move on from my last. If Demi has no fault, I will defend her with logic. But if I harass that hater, then what will be the difference between me and that hater? Because that person is also harassing Demi.

So as you can see, these Lovatics credit Demi with saving their lives in some way and it’s really good to see that none of them would never relish in causing harm to others while defending their idol. Maybe this will get back to her & show her how much these fans really appreciate how much they mean to her.

Demi’s official website: www.demilovato.com Instagram: @ddlovato She is now represented by @scooterbraun.

NEXT UP: Beliebers

Until then.. Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias