Sonic Shocks: Interview with Mic Todd

by Simon ‘Astrocreep’ Crampton.  Posted: November 18, 2010.  Conducted November 15, 2010.

Coheed and CambriaCoheed & Cambria are one of those bands that never ever comes along, or if they do its once a century. The band themselves deals in progressive tinged alt rock, and is musically spellbinding, but away from and inspired by said music there is the world that the band has created for themselves and their fans.

Coheed & Cambria’s five studio albums centre on the story of the Amory wars, an epic space adventure set in and around Heaven’s Fence. It’s ambitious and has captured imaginations around the globe, and has bled into comic books and novels as well as just the bands music.

The band returned this year with the last part of the series in the stunning ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ and has returned to these shores for a series of shows with the Deftones. We here at Sonic Shocks had the pleasure of sitting down with Bassist Mic Todd to discuss concept albums, touring, solo albums and what the future holds for Coheed & Cambria.

Sonic Shocks: Welcome back to the U.K. We haven’t seen you since the tour in June, how was this tour compared to that one?

Mic: For starters it’s so much more relaxing, there’s a schedule that’s pretty similar every day. A structured tour over here is much better for us, especially with a band that we really admire in the Deftones; me and Claudio used to listen to Deftones when their first album (Adrenaline) came out when we were going to band practice for band he and I were in, so that was 15 years ago. I’ve been in a band half my life with him. Festivals are too crazy for us; you get no sleep one day, you play at noon then the next you play at fucking midnight, but this tour is nice.

Sonic Shocks: How did you get involved in this tour with Deftones?

Mic: I’m not really sure. Usually a tour is announced and then bands submit their names, so I’m not sure if it happened that way or not. I know we shared some crew with them, like our tour manager now did monitors for them a few years ago or some shit, and we did some of the festivals with them when we were over here in the summer time, and we’re big fans and they were really cool to us, so it just came together that way I think.

Sonic Shocks: 2010 has been a very successful year for you with the release of ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ and some pretty good tours under your belt. What is the current feeling in the band?

Mic: Good… I think. We are at that stage where we have been on the road pretty steady since March, we’re a little burnt out. Everything’s great but it’s just little wears of the road; however we’re excited for the next thing, we have some cool ideas for the next year, not just the same tour/album/tour/album/tour thing, we’ve got some cool Coheed chocolate sprinkly shit for everyone (laughs); we are just looking for a way to keep doing what we’re doing and that’s it really. After this tour we are going to take a little rest, that necessary because you can only do this for so long.

Sonic Shocks: ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ has been out since April now, how do you feel about how the album has been received thus far?

Mic: Yeah, when the album had been out for a minute and we started playing the songs live there wasn’t the usual lull in the set, it seemed like they adopted the new material right along with the old material so fan wise that’s how I can gauge success of an album, if the fans dig it and if they accept just as another part of the catalogue. Fan response was awesome, critical response was awesome. There are some bands out there that have released amazing albums; like I remember the New York Post gave Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ one star, and I was like ‘I refuse to believe it’ and sure enough I got the record and it’s brilliant, it’s one of my favourites. I just think sometimes especially in America the mass media kind of controls things a lot, anyway I guess it’s our time to fucking shine because we’ve been getting some really good reviews on it.

Sonic Shocks: It’s a very ambitious album. When I listened to ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ I felt it had a very epic feel to it, and as it’s the final part of the ‘Amory Wars’ saga; did you feel you needed to go out on a high note with it?

Mic: We wanted it to stand alone and be different; a lot of people wondered if we were going back to our roots, and there’s no way really to go backwards and unlearn the shit I’ve learnt the past 5 years, but we knew it was going to take care of itself with Chris (Pennie) playing drums, just his groove and playing style dictates a lot of how a song will be and we write around him. Then with the addition of Atticus Ross and Joe Baressi, which were almost like 5th and 6th members with how vocal and present they are with the production and with the song structuring, we had kind of an extra couple of paints on our palette, and I think we definitely wanted… I don’t know if epic is the right word, but we did want a wider spectrum of sounds on it than we did before, and that the song writing would kind of take care of itself and I think it did.

Sonic Shocks: With the five albums in your catalogue all encompassing the same story and existing in the same universe, do you think it’s harder for you to write and try to stay within the confines of the story you have laid out for yourselves?

Mic: I think one of the brilliant things with that is there really is no confines, if we decide we want to write a fucking 80’s pop ballad we can justify it by saying it happens in the story. We have a really wide range of influences, we’ve kind explored it all across the albums; we have some really metally songs, some super ballads, really beautiful, really slow ballads and then we have the proggy stuff , so maybe the story has allowed us to get away with that a bit more.

Sonic Shocks: Do you think it’s easier to write to the story then?

Mic: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s the story, but I’ve never had a problem justifying the choices I’ve made. I think with this band from the beginning we’ve always played a different kind of music, so yeah, maybe the concept gives us that little bit more leeway.

Sonic Shocks: With the other media surrounding the band in the form of the graphic novels and the ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ novel, have you ever had anyone that’s read those but never heard of the band?

Mic: That’s never happened to me, but Claudio (Sanchez, Singer) does the comic cons and shit in the states so it might have happened to him, but I don’t think I’ve met a comic fan that became a fan of the music and vice versa. That would be a bit strange, but it would be a testament to his success, I’m not that involved or plugged into it, I support my man and his art and what he likes to do; I’m definitely on the rock side of things, its definitely his baby and its really taken off, I’m sure it happens though, I think its kind of hard to have heard of the comic and not the band at this point.

Sonic Shocks: Now that the ‘Amory Wars’ story is over, what’s going to be next for you guys? Will there be more concept albums in the future or will the albums be a little more straight forward now?

Mic: We don’t know yet, we’ve discussed it. We can tell another story, a parallel story, no story, we have had discussions. I think one way or another we’re going to be making records, we are kind of hoping that path will eliminate itself before us like it usually does. Right now we’re still just riding out this record and brainstorming about what we’re going to do next, but we don’t really have a plan just yet.

Sonic Shocks: One of the special things you did as a band was the ‘Neverender’ series of gigs, where you did a residency and played all the albums back to back. Is that something you would do again, and if so where would you place ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’ in the sequence of events, because even though it’s the last album, it’s also a prequel to the story?

Mic: That’s a interesting question, I don’t know. I could argue either way, I think it would be a good end piece, we would probably do it last due to the chronology of the bands albums, so we would do the oldest album first and work in order.

Sonic Shocks: One thing I’ve noticed about you as a band is that you have some of the most dedicated fans in the entire world. They have their own forums and communities, places like Cobalt and Calcium and the like. How does it feel you as a band to see that, what do you think it is about Coheed & Cambria that draws the fans in and keeps them sticking by you through everything?

Mic: Man, if I knew that I’d always have a gig (laughs), I think its just luck. I think it has a lot to do with mutual respect, we are really grateful to be in the position we are in and we never half ass what we do, we work really hard and especially live it’s always been where we’ve been the most comfortable, and we take a lot of pride in the show, and I think that when people get involved with us they get more than the average band nowadays might provide, because we don’t pander to a short attention span; we give a little bit and then when people are satisfied we try to give a little bit more to keep them interested, and we try to keep a personal relationship with our fans. It obviously gets harder the more there are of them, everyday we go outside and say hi to everybody at shows and thank people, and I think that translates from stage to the crowd and that energy comes back to us.

Sonic Shocks: Do you go on the forums and see what the fans are up to?

Mic: Yeah sometimes I try to, I go and browse around and see what they are up to. I don’t do it so much anymore because the universe has just got too large and I wouldn’t even know where to begin now. But I used to pop in there and answer a few questions and such.

Sonic Shocks: As we have discussed you have the ‘Amory Wars’ story and you have fans online making up their own fan fiction and discussing the world and characters you created, and adding their own take on things; how does that feel for you guys?

Mic: It’s exciting to see people getting that involved with it. I remember how I feel about my favourite pieces of fiction and it feels exciting to be a part of something that has got people that excited.

Sonic Shocks: You took a break from the band in 2006 for personal reasons, then returned to the band in 2007. How have the last 3 years in the band been for you?

Mic: It’s been easy, I don’t really know how to describe it. My work ethic has changed a lot, I think now I know what it’d be like to be a musician without a gig I’m more professional. More often on tour now I’ll be writing or working instead of fucking off and drinking, it’s been good, there is a much different work ethic this time because we realise that we’ve arrived and that we are a successful band now  and it’s a matter of hanging on to that and getting better at what we do. So yeah, the last three years have gone really fast.

Sonic Shocks: You were considering releasing a solo album at one point as well. What is the current status of that?

Mic: I’m working with this female now in Los Angeles, and every time I get going on something I get dissatisfied with it and move onto the next thing; for about a year I’ve been really hitting it off with this girl, Sarah Green, as a co-writer, and we’ve been working on a lot of stuff and hopefully we will have a couple of months off this winter, so we are going to try and record a couple of songs and get them out there on I-Tunes.

Sonic Shocks: If someone was making a time capsule of your musical career, what 3 of your songs would you include?

Mic: ‘Welcome Home’ would definitely have to go in there, ‘The Broken’ from the new record and ‘Feint of hearts’ from the second record.

Sonic Shocks: What would be the reason for each song?

Mic: ‘Feint of Hearts’ is my favourite to play live and its one of my favourite songs. ‘Welcome Home’ because that’s the one that’s gotten the most successful of our songs, and ‘The Broken’ because it’s a good representation of where we are at now.

Sonic Shocks: And it has the badass cgi video with the huge space battle which is awesome.

Mic: Yeah, that’s the one.

Sonic Shocks: What has the next year got in store for you, can you elaborate on any of your plans?

Mic: I think we are going to Australia next year, I think after January we are going back on the road again, and that’s all we know for now.

Sonic Shocks: In closing, what would you like to say to your fans out there?

Mic: If you are fans, thanks for sticking by us for nearly 10 years now, and keep coming to shows because as long as you keep coming to shows then we still have a gig.

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CWG Magazine: Terrible Things @ The El Rey Plus Interview With Josh Eppard

by Kendra Beltran
Posted: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bands come and go. It’s what they do. Band members on the other hand…

Some never disappear, and that’s a good thing. Because when they’re amazing gifts to music, it’d be a shame to lose them forever. What kind of world would we be in if Dave Grohl had thrown in the towel just because Kurt had a slip up? Exactly! That’s the approach to take with Terrible Things. Made up of ex-members of Taking Back Sunday, Coheed and Cambria and Hot Rod Circuit, it isn’t a surprise to anyone that Terrible Things is rock and roll to the core.

Terrible Things’ first time in L.A., at The El Rey, was a good one indeed. They were the wake-up call of their current tour with Mae and even had new guy, Brian Weaver on hand tackling the bass. Bringing high-energy from the first chord of “Terrible Things.” They made sure L.A. would never to forget their name. I haven’t seen Fred Mascherino since his days in Taking Back Sunday, so it was hard to realize Adam Lazzara wouldn’t be swinging in, but Fred and the rest of the guys made me quickly forget Adam as they charged through a Storyteller set. Each song based on a string of arson in Fred’s hometown a couple years back. Aptly titled “Conspiracy” and “The Arsonist’s Wife” helped the audience connect to a small-town they will never now.

While some songs were particular, “Revolution” spawned a choir outbreak, “This is not a revolution” transformed a venue into a scene from November 1955. And while I usually loathe LA crowds the sing-along teamed with a couple who sang their hearts out to every word and a man who could’ve been my grandpa made up for any foul stigmas I’ve ever had against the uptight, City of Angel, hipsters.

Terrible Things are wrapping up things with Mae and have a handful of dates with Automatic Loveletter in December. Be sure to get their debut album Terrible Things. See they made it easy for you to remember the name, so no excuses.

A day before Terrible Things played their first show in L.A. at the El Rey, Coheed and Cambria alumni, Josh Eppard, who plays drums in Terrible Things and I enjoyed a nice chat the second he got offstage at The Glasshouse in Pomona, CA. We talked about everything, from falling back, to aliens… I suppose music was thrown in there somewhere. In the end, we ran out of time because Josh had to load his shit (his words not mine) and we continued our gabfest before he took the stage in L.A. What proceeds is some terrible and not so terrible things that came from my encounter with Josh Eppard.

Josh Eppard on The Terrible Things:

1. Halloween in the Midwest – Terrible Things were in Nebraska on All Hallows Eve, and Josh was less-than-impressed with their holiday spirit. “We all went to Wal-Mart and put together these really funky outfits with wigs, those plastic masks that are super spooky. We were having a really good time with it, so we walk onstage thinking everyone’s gonna have a good time with it, and everyone just stared at us. It was so anti-climactic. No one, literally no one, dressed up.”

2. Missing loved ones – Josh toured with Coheed for years, then he sat around once all was said and done, so he’s excited to get out and about again, but there are two special ladies he misses at home, girlfriend Tammy and her daughter, Maggie. “I’m 30 years old and I miss my girlfriend. She has a six-year-old daughter, she’s not my daughter, but she is. We’ve been together three years, and I miss Maggie more than I could ever put into words, and that’s hard sometimes, because you forget throughout the day, because you’re busy. Then when you remember, it’s like getting hit in the stomach with a bag of bricks. But they send me ‘goodnight kiss’ pictures, so that gets me through. Not to be too fucking cutesy.”

3. Talking shit on other bands – Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail said some not too popular things about bands like The Maine and All Time Low. Without playing who’s right and wrong, bottom line is shit talking in the scene is a ‘no-go’ with Josh. “Any band that puts in the work and goes out and lives on the road, we got to have some kind of comradery. We all have something in common. We all do this for a living and instead of leaning on each other, we shove each other. Instead of supporting one another, we bicker and fight.”

4. Drugs – If after school PSAs and Ke$ha don’t make you want to steer clear of drugs, Josh will. He gave advice to newcomers, “Try not to get caught up in drugs, women, the pit falls that are out there because it really is as dangerous as they say. Remember we do this because we’re creative souls. The world needs us.”

Josh Eppard on the ‘Not-So-Terrible’:

1. Having a passion – “It takes heart… everyone in this band probably sat in their room from age 7-13, didn’t leave, practiced and played because it was fun. We’re a new band becoming what we want to be; evolving, getting better every night, really becoming what we set out to do.”

2. Weerd Science – It’s more than just something Bill Nye might handle, it’s Josh’s MC stage name, and you can expect a new album from the MC in April. Josh also spilled that; not only will Weerd Science be on the SkullCandy stage on Warped Tour in 2011, but Terrible Things will be heading out that summer as well.

3. Influences – We all have them, but there are two men in Josh’s life that mean the most; musical influence, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, and his brother from another mother, Kwami. “When I was a kid and I heard Led Zeppelin, I could only hear the drums.” And Kwami? Him and Josh have been inseparable since Josh was five, and a story similar to The Blindside happened when Josh’s family took Kwami in. They did everything together from Josh’s first show, Stryper, to touring the world together when in Coheed, “Could we be setting ourselves up to be made fun of more in high school? I had a big, black brother who was a straight metal head.”

Again, you are advised to pick up, check out, like, love Terrible Things’ Terrible Things, out now.

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AMP Magazine: Nightmares For A Week Interview

By Morgan Y. Evans

After startling the scene with the potent and earnest strength of their EP debut A FLOOD TOMORROW, Kingston, NY’s NIGHTMARES FOR A WEEK are back with their much anticipated first full length Don’t Die(Academy Fight Song). The beautifully packaged disc (featuring a winsome photo of balloons flying out of a smokestack) takes the tight-knit three piece’s ragged songs about friendship, good/bad times and weathering heartbreak to the next level. Drummer Steven Markota, guitarist/vocalist Bill Manley and bassist Sean-Paul Pillsworth buckled down with producer John Naclerio (POLAR BEAR CLUB, MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE) at Nada Studios in Upstate, NY and have created something truly special, a punk/Americana album in 2010 that reads like a road map back to believing in something bigger than being petty or disingenuous about art. It’s about putting on record exactly what you are feeling and the buck stops there.

Nightmares For A Week photo by Chris Rahm

Photo By Chris Rahm

What was the process like writing for this record as opposed to what you did on the A Flood Tomorrow EP, which a lot of people loved? You still have great songwriting elements and I think you’ve grown but the camaraderie is still there which translated very well in the songs on the EP. You’ve retained that but I think Don’t Die takes it to the next level.

Bill Manley (guitars, vocals): As far as writing goes nothing really changed. The main thing that changed is probably just being a band for two years. Getting more comfortable as a band and individually getting more comfortable in our skin, y’know…just rockin’, man. We’ve played relentlessly since recording the EP, so we’ve kind of found our niche.

Sean-Paul Pillsworth (bass, vocals): The absolute main difference is that whoever heard the EP was hearing NIGHTMARES FOR A WEEK the band, but a band that hadn’t really experienced anything live yet. That was supposed to be our demo but gained success, which is awesome. When you hear Don’t Die you are hearing the same songwriting process but the band is more comfortable creating together overall since we have been able to spend so much time together both live and demoing. It’s awesome that we can have such fun live and I think that was what we tried to translate in the studio. We didn’t have that on the EP ‘cuz we’d never even played a show, so that’s a huge difference.

Yeah. You can hear on the EP the excitement of the band but now it is a little more seasoned. Did you discuss any different approaches you wanted to take with Nada Recording Studios owner and producer John Naclerio?

Sean-Paul: The one focus was not to go for absolute studio perfection, which John Naclerio is really good at. That’s fine because it’s his thing and he makes bands sound perfect, but for us ditching some back up vocals that aren’t gonna be there live or working with the tempos to make sure they aren’t as laid back (because we tend to speed things up live)… we just wanted to go in there and make a rock record. People always say that, but we wanted to just make a rock record. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It still sounds pretty…

Bill: Pretty damn perfect!

Everyone: (laughing)

Sean-Paul: That’s why we go to Naclerio. He listens to us and respects our opinion and we’re good friends. We stick by him and he sticks by us. I would say the EP is 85% Naclerio and 15% Nightmares and Don’t Die is 50/50. That’d be the difference. (Looking at Bill) I got that one, biiitch!

Everyone: (laughing)

I really like “Old House”, the grooves and anthemic sound of it. This is a two part question. I just saw you play it live when you played with THE ATARIS at The Basement in Kingston, NY and I think you played it at the Titus Andronicus show you opened back in April. Now I’ve seen you play it live a few times. I was wondering about the writing of that song? It is a big tune and has a friendly uplifting sort of comfort to it. I was wondering about that, and…you’ve been broing down with THE ATARIS lately. I was wondering how you got to know those dudes?

Bill: The writing of “Old House” was like any other song as far as music goes. The subject matter, I wrote the first set of lyrics to it and wanted to go for something positive that captured a moment in, I don’t wanna say childhood…in our youth growing up. The song is about a place where Sean-Paul and I spent a lot of time. It was a party house our friend Mike owned and we used to have band practice there in other bands and a lot of parties. After I was done with my lyrics Sean-Paul added his touch and kind of gave, y’know, another perspective to that whole time of growing up.

Sean-Paul: I don’t think Bill gives himself enough credit when he says it’s like every other song. Bill comes to the band with the “big chunk” done and we kind of fill in the blanks. The first time I heard it I knew it was an anthem. It was a big song. Usually the process is Bill will do something by himself on Garage Band and then me and Steve can kind of hear it and maybe we hear it the same way or two different ways which can make for an interesting song. We really wrote that early on right after the EP. We were still in EP mode, but that song totally captures a moment in time for me. It’s one of those songs that when we’re playing it I’m actually thinking about what we’re singing about, which is awesome. I wish everybody had a point in their life where they had a place to rock like that.

Bill: We had a sense of carelessness back then with no responsibility and were around people we loved, having a blast.

Sean-Paul: It was about being able to be a bunch of kids having a house where there were no parents to tell them what to do and to have a band. It was incredible, but I think we’re recapturing that now.

Bill: The song can translate to maturity too, not even in a “juvenile” sense. You could say it is that kind of freedom, y’know what I mean? You can find that in many different things.

A lot of people give that up as they get older.

Bill: Yeah. I don’t think you should give up anything like that. Sean-Paul, take over.

Sean-Paul: Don’t Die.

Everyone: (laughing)

Sean-Paul: That kind of encapsulates everything. Don’t Die doesn’t literally mean don’t put yourself six feet in the ground. If it’s a good thing, don’t let it die out. Keep it strong. P.M.A.

Bill: That’s right, brother.

Word Up.

Sean-Paul: The second part of the question…THE ATARIS. We got asked to play with THE ATARIS close to a year ago and we got invited up to Albany, NY to play. THE ATARIS were one of my favorite bands growing up. They took a real liking to us straight away while we played. They liked what we were doing and could see our influences and they approached us. We never stopped keeping contact and when they came back around the North East they asked if we would open up their show in Albany again and I asked Kris Roe if he wouldn’t mind coming to Kingston to play a show.

“Nobody plays Kingston.”

Yeah. Fuck that girl. (chuckling) I’m not gonna tell that story. But I’ll tell you this, people do play Kingston. THE ATARIS played and it was awesome. Those guys are our friends and I give them all the credit in the world. There is a dying breed of bands that are keeping strong and I think they are one of them. Hopefully people will be able to hear some of the new songs they played me ‘cuz they are incredible.

You got back from The Fest. How was the trip down to Florida?

Bill: The trip overall was a blast. This was actually the first time we got to travel out of the North East to play a show as NIGHTMARES FOR A WEEK. Getting down there and being surrounded by a lot of like minded bands, both musically and mentally was a very positive experience for us. Completely immersed in music for the whole weekend. Meeting all different kinds of people.

Sean-Paul: Me and Bill have done things similar to that like CMJ and SXSW, but those are more a little bit of everybody and more schmoozing. The Fest was like a common ground between all the bands there but it wasn’t an elitist thing. You walk the streets and you saw people and you knew they were there to see you. You saw the bands you wanted to see and I didn’t see one fight, one person with their nose in the air or saying a negative thing. I just saw people who wanted to hear good music live and they heard it for three days. We got to see all our friends at Academy Fight Song who put out the record and treat us amazingly. We got to meet some labelmates like Such Gold, who are like the best guys in the world. The guys in AFTER THE FALL, AFICIANADO…

Love that band.

AFICIANADO signed to No Sleep. Those guys are great. We got to meet the No Sleep guys. Those guys were nice to us to. There was a lot of camaraderie. You hang out and…(burping)

…Do that.

Sean-Paul: (laughing) Pretty much. There was a lot of that. The one thing about being back on the road that I forgot was how bad the van stinks when you put a bunch of dudes in it. It smells so bad. I totally forgot that.

Bill: It’s the smell of rock n’ roll.

Sean-Paul: I hope we’re down there next year. Many music festivals are out there but The Fest is an incredible time that everyone should check out.

Can you talk about how you got involved with Academy Fight Song and also how you got Walter Schreifels (from every awesome band ever) on your record?

Bill: This time last year we were planning on recording the full length and we planned out recording dates for June. We knew we were recording with John and he gave us the sum amount and we were saving up to pay it. At the same time we were looking for a label. The EP got a little notoriety which we were surprised at since it was a collection of demos. Sean-Paul asked our good buddies in AFTER THE FALL who are signed to Mightier Than The Sword, who…R.J. who runs that label also runs Academy Fight Song. So we were pitching to those guys if R.J. had heard our stuff and he emailed those guys and R.J. already knew about us and was a big fan of the EP. He assumed we were already signed since we were under the Music For End Times/Broken English kind of thing. That put up false signals that we were taken but he was into putting out our next record and that was it, in a nutshell.

Sean-Paul: Big shout out to Mike Moak from AFTER THE FALL who was actually the guy who called R.J. for us and got the ball rolling right away. AFTER THE FALL’s Eradication just came out. Go pick up that record. It’s amazing. And having Walter on the record…it hasn’t hit me yet.

It’s full circle, since JERK MAGNET covered GORILLA BISCUITS!

Sean-Paul (smirking): Yeah, yeah. The first band that me and Bill were in covered the GORILLA BISCUITS. Walter’s whole career has just been something that’s to be in awe of. He’s starts a lot of great bands and writes a lot of great songs, but…he put out a record on Academy Fight Song. Bill had written a song about Townes Van Zandt and we were just thinking it’d be awesome if Walter would sing on it. R.J. was in constant contact with him. Walter was really busy but he fit it into his schedule and I think he liked what the song was about.

Wicked cool.

Bill: It was very humbling and makes us feel very fortunate. This is huge for us. Big ups to Walter. Thanks a lot. In addition to Walter we had James Felice from the Felice Brothers lay down some accordion on two or three songs. He almost ripped the accordion in half!

Sean-Paul: If you listen to the title track “Don’t Die” and let it fade there comes a part where James was feeling it. He’s a big guy and he pulled the accordion so far you can hear the reeds ripping. He’s ripped accordions before and the guy who repairs them has never seen that but he goes to the guy and says, “I ripped another one.”

Bill: The Felice Brothers are a big influence and you have James Felice and Walter and Frank from By Land Or Sea. All these people coming from different sides of the spectrum being on our record, which is awesome.

Sean-Paul: John Naclerio screamed on “Don’t Die.”

Everyone: (laughing)

Bill: He did! And my dad plays saxophone. The list can go on and on. We had a lot of help and it’s great.

Let’s talk about the “Veins” video. I know you got Zac Shaw from Music For End Times and the band Dead Unicorn involved with the video? A lot of live videos are boring but I like the camera work in yours. The aesthetic captures your chemistry and the cuts are reverential to rock music as a process. I like the up close cuts of Steve’s cymbals, for example. It feels like you are really playing and not miming singing along to a recording for the video.

Sean-Paul: Well, we were really singing. We were screaming! That’s exactly what it was. It was the brainchild of Zac Shaw of Music For End Times and Chris Rahm, who got us the video. We made a day and went out to Tech City which used to be an IBM in Kingston and we had a whole floor to ourselves. We set up in the best spot and Chris had a vision for what he wanted to do with us live, knowing how we play.  Another guy who was really working the camera was named Zoltan and two production assistants. Those guys ran around all day fixing lights and moving stuff. The “Veins” video looks like what we look like playing live. It was Chris Rahm’s vision to have quick cuts of us playing. It didn’t need a subplot. Any press picture you usually see of us is taken by Chris Rahm. We owe him a world of thanks and the crew from Ellenbogen Creative. He does a hell of a job with everything and Zac Shaw. Still probably the people we keep closest with. We all work together with each others musical projects.

Bill: It was like playing live, almost. We played it a million times so it felt like playing a set even though it was one song we were repeating. There was no make up. What you see is what you get. That feels good to not have crazy effects or enough make up where we look like porcelain dolls. You can see all our imperfections!

Sean-Paul: Zoltan had the song mapped out by seconds to certain accents and crescendos and stops! We put in a thirteen hour day and he was still ready to do more.

Bill: He didn’t take a lunch break or drink anything!

I love twelve hour recording sessions or long video shoots. Everything else is half assed.

Sean-Paul: We were really sweating. It was hot in that room. We also did it in a room that NASA ran a project out of and I don’t know if the windows didn’t open because they didn’t want people to jump out or they wanted to save on heating and air conditioning, but the building is now vacant. We got there and it was pretty comfortable but after a couple of hours of big lights and jumping around…it got hot in there.

Lastly, I wanted to ask you about the popular song “Feelin’ Blue.”  I love the story behind it so could you share it again? I feel like you guys are personally responsible for WEEZER touring Pinkerton again (laughing).

Bill: (laughing) That was all us? Well, ok…growing up as an avid WEEZER fan in the early 90’s when they put their most ambitious work out I was too young to go see them. I never saw them growing up and a few years we all got tickets to go see WEEZER and Blink-182 at SPAC.

Sean-Paul: Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Bill: Thank you. BLINK cancelled and WEEZER headlined. It was my first time seeing them after many years of being a fan. I don’t know why my expectations were so high but they were, regardless. We got there right to see WEEZER and as we were getting drinks we heard them open with “War Pigs” by BLACK SABBATH. We were like, “Yes! This is gonna be so awesome.” I was so excited after all these years. Obviously I know what they’ve put out between then and now but I kind of had a romantic idea in my mind that I’d go see them and play all the stuff I wanted to hear off the first two albums, maybe one or two of The Green Album, that’s fine.

I hear you, “Pink Triangle” is the story of my life several times over, Bill.

Bill: (laughing) Yeah. Those tunes… WEEZER could have started another band and called it under a different name. The way the older songs move you is a completely different thing than the way they do now. People like them and they sold a ton of records, but I digress. While we were watching the show, to my dismay their set was heavy on the new records and left the rest of us hanging, at least for 5 or 6 songs at a time. I loved them so much. It was deep rooted. It was a naïve expectation. They played Lady Gaga covers. They dressed in jumpsuits. Pat Wilson, the drummer, I’ve always loved his style. He was playing guitar so that was a let down. Rivers wasn’t playing guitar for the majority of the set. We left early. That’s how our song came about. WEEZER, love you and everything. More power to them to play what they wanted to play.

Sean-Paul: The ultimate disclaimer is we are still huge WEEZER fans when it comes down to it. Did we get ourselves really pumped before we got there? Yeah. I heard a guy offered them ten million dollars to break up. That’s stupid. I know that times change and other things change. Who knows where we’ll be fifteen years later. In my opinion they didn’t have a clear progression between records. They come out with a record and say they have another record written already. That’s awesome, if every record still had a lot of heart, but “Pork and Beans”? I love WEEZER, but “Feelin’ Blue” is the way we really feel. I’m…I’m glad they’re touring Pinkerton.

Bill: The song was written off the cuff. It shouldn’t be taken too seriously. There’s some deep rooted emotion in there, but…

Sean-Paul: We did pay $16 for a beer…

Bill: That’s ridiculous.

Sean-Paul: I don’t wanna come off as another cynical person, but…

It’s like your first girlfriend when you found out she banged somebody else, ya know?

Everyone: (laughing)

Sean-Paul: And then she puts out a catalogue of commercial records… and a Snuggie.

“It’s Not Me. It’s You.” (laughing)

Bill: That’s a good name for a song!

originally posted on November 16, 2010 at

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Terrible Things Interview PunkVideosRock

November 13, 2010 by Robert Herrera of PunkVideosRock in Los Angeles, California before Terrible Things’ set at El Rey Theatre with Mae and Windsor Drive

If you’d like to help out by transcribing this interview, please let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Music Box Unwinds Webzine Interviews Mic Todd

November 12, 2010 by Stacey of Music Box Unwinds Webzine in Glasgow, UK
before Coheed and Cambria’s set at Glasgow O2 Academy with Deftones

If you’d like to help out by transcribing this interview, please let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Nightmares For A Week release debut Music Video (and it’s an Alternative Press exclusive!)

Nightmares For A Week – “Veins”

NFAW’s introductory music video was posted Tuesday on the front page of Alternative Press’ website.  The limited edition 7” Vinyl Single of the song was also released on Tuesday via Academy Fight Song Records.  Its B-Side is a brand new recording of “Feelin’ Blue” (who’s demo appears on the Hudson Valley compilation, Butterflies and Butcher Knives: Vol. 1).  Only 300 of these babies have been printed up!  There’s 50 black, 125 in clear red, and 125 solid gray up for grabs.  Included in the purchase is also an instant digital download of the audio.  The “Veins” single is only available at the Academy Fight Song Store.

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Mike Dolbear DRUMS: Chris Pennie Interview #2

posted January 2010 (dated October 2009)

by Jerome Marcus

Chris Pennie by Jerome Marcus

Chris Pennie

Chris Pennie has become one of the most talked about drummers around today. At 31 years old, he’s had a long journey so far and now sits in the drum seat for modern day progressive outfit Coheed & Cambria. However, he first found recognition as the former drummer and co-founder of mathcore band Dillinger Escape Plan. Recently he made his first appearance as a drum clinician at ‘Drumfest ’08 – 10th Anniversary’ in the U.K. along with artists such as Terry Bozzio, John Tempesta and many more.

His style can only be described as a fusion of quick fire machine-like sequences of rudiments with jazz-inflected expression. He adds triggering effects and loops to embellish his rhythms resulting in a unique delivery of his overall sound.

What made you pick up a pair of sticks and what was your inspiration?

I started when I was twelve and had my first kit as a Christmas present and started playing along to records.

What inspired me to start playing the drums was watching the Metallica video ‘One’ – I was watching MTV and that video was kinda dark and there was something about that particular video that I made a real connection with, so much so that the album ‘And Justice For All’ is one of my all time favourite records. At the time there was a lot of glam rock about but that was fading out and Metallica were coming in. Growing up, my dad also rolled into the house with Iron Maiden’s album ‘Maiden in Japan’ when I was four years old and shared that album with me and exposed me to a lot of music at a very young age. My mum was also a fan of Kool & The Gang and Billy Joel, so as a kid I was surrounded by a lot of different music.

How did your parents cope with you playing your drum set in the house in the early years?

On many levels my parents were very supportive but before I get into the drumming thing let me say that I was really a big in sports and my dad was really a huge advocate of me doing sports. Soccer, American football and baseball – I was pretty decent in baseball and I really made a push for that. It was great and fun and I sometimes miss doing that. But when I picked up a pair of sticks and when I got the kit and stuff, the drums and the music had me consumed.

Chris Pennie by Jerome MarcusIt hit my dad pretty hard and it came as a disappointment to begin with, he really wanted me to do sports but he came around and was very supportive after we had a good talk about it. My mum on the other hand, now that was a different story, she needed more convincing and we did have a few battles.

I would come home from work and I’ll play for about 5 hours straight. I remember this one time when we were working on the first Dillinger record and I was playing consistently even taking days off work at times to work on material. Eventually it all came to a head and she said “we need to have a talk; you can’t be doing this all the time”. I would fight back and say ‘one day you’ll understand; I know it’s hard right now but just be patient with me’. It took her to go to a news stand to pick up a magazine and see with my face in the magazine to make her understand like “Wow – something is happening”. From that moment on both my mum and dad have been fully supportive and proud of my achievements, it’s all cool.

Did you go to Music College?

Yes, I went to Berklee for two years. I received private instruction there but I originally went there to be taught music synthesis. My goal was to go there for something other than music performance. As I said I went there for music synthesis but it’s kinda ironic that with the whole music software explosion,  most of that is now pretty obsolete. My teachers, Stu Miller being one of them, were pointing me in the direction of Steve Gadd, Vinnie Coliauta and Dave Weckl and also to the Pattern series book by Gary Chaffee’s and stuff; I kinda knew them but my background was the rock thing and a lot of this information was coming to me from the left of being self taught and from listening to a lot of records and jammin’ with a lot of other kids and students.

With so much information, was there a moment when you decided ‘this is the direction I want to take’?

Yes, there was a lot of good information for sure but my thing was after learning this stuff was how and where to apply it and whether there was a proper outlet for it. Like if I was to steal something (in a good sense) for example from the Gary Chaffee books and I remember going through some polyrhythmic duet solos and arranging it for kick, snare and china and that became one of the parts for a Dillinger song. The coolest thing about that band was there was a forum for me to release a lot of ideas and immediately interject into something where I could get instant feedback – that was huge for me. It’s also hard nowadays and you’re preached upon and expected to listen and cover a wide variety of styles. In reality as a working drummer, you’re expected to cover many styles for example if you’re a ‘rock’ guy and you’re expected to cover a jazz gig and stuff but in the best way it evolves you as a player. That’s what happened to me as I was growing up where I could throw in these elements and get it infused into the material – that was pretty satisfying.

Chris Pennie by Jerome MarcusWho were your influences?

Growing up my influences were John Bonham, Stewart Copeland, obviously Lars Ulrich, Dave Lombardo and that’s going from rock to metal. In addition, and in this same timeline, there was Sean Reinhart and what impressed me is this guy had tremendous speed and awesome control and more impressively he had incredible variety in his playing; he was playing in a metal band called ‘Death’ and there was this track called ‘Demons’ at the time. He was ‘the guy’ and a turning point for me – he blew the doors open for me ‘cause he had the double bass drum chops of Lombardo, the finesse of Stewart Copeland together with the fusion chops of Vinnie Coliauta and Chad Wackerman – if you haven’t checked him out, it’s a definite recommendation if you want to explore the experience.

Another guy has got to be Nicko McBrain – Iron Maiden was huge to me when I grew up and started me playing drums. The inspiration took me to check out guys like Dennis Chambers, Vinnie Coliauta and drummers in that genre; I stayed with that for a while.

Then about a year later, Tomas Haake made his appearance with Meshuggah and this was totally a revelation – this guy was and still is amazing, he just continues to get better. ‘Destroy, Race and Prove’ is my favourite Meshuggah record and I must say that was another defining moment before I started playing for Dillinger. Tomas has tremendous rhythmic vocabulary with great feel and soul together with the band applying it in a heavy context; he was doing it like these fusion guys were and that made it very appealing to me and certainly came across to me as a clear musical statement.

I then when off in a different direction and started listening to programmed music like Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails and that was yet again another whole learning curve. I was interested in how the music was made and how ideas got developed with guys like DJ Shadow on his album ‘Entroducing’ – no one plays drums on it but he was topping the beats and taking those drum samples and cutting them in the track and for me that was huge ‘cause that was stepping away from the drum hero thing and dealing with production. And the thing was that many other drummers who were listening to him too and for me it took my drumming and musicianship to another level. I was learning more about what goes into song structure and that was also a memorable point where I recognised that I was moving on and growing yet again.

‘The Fragile’ by Nine Inch Nails – man, from a production standpoint there was so much going on in the mix and the incredible vocal ideas; I was totally blown away, it really did and that shaped my head for a couple of years and that had nothing to do with drumming but that transition gave me better insight and influenced me as a drummer. Together with Metallica’s ‘And Justice For All’, Nine Inch Nails ‘The Fragile’ is up there as my most favourite albums.

Here we are talking about drumming but another thing I neglected say is that I’m a huge fan of good melodic song writing in general and I have musicians that I look up to like Billy Joel, Sting – these guys write great songs and melodies, they last forever.

How did you get the gig with Dillinger Escape Plan?

Basically, I had a couple of friends in a couple of bands that I played with – it was cool and fun and nothing really ever came out of it. I put an ad in a music store just before I left for Berklee, but for me playing guitar not drums. This guy named Ben Weinman answers the ad a couple of hours later. We practiced and he had no idea I played drums so we went to my house and I started fooling around on the drums and he got that my main instrument was drums. He had another band and asked whether I wanted to be the drummer in that band – this was an opportunity for me to play out. I had other bands that I was with who wanted to be original and ambitious but never played out but with Ben I had that connection and the opportunity was on the table. We played on weekends a few times then I split and went off to Berklee and started studying there.

Chris Pennie by Jerome MarcusAt college there were these amazing musicians but back home these guys were writing their own material and really they had something to say. Personally, I was pulled back and forth and finally left after two years I decided to leave to return home. Ben and I then got together to form something new and incorporated some other members of my own band and suddenly the whole thing fused and blew up. The combination Ben’s playing with the other guys just was something and the chemistry was so evident and lead to something worth exploring. We self-managed the band to begin with and did a lot of gigs and it snowballed into success.

How difficult was it to make the change from Dillinger Escape Plan to Coheed & Cambria?

On a lot of levels it was difficult and different. It really was a huge challenge to step out from something you’re comfortable with and thrust yourself into something else with all new people and a brand new situation. It felt like natural musical transition and everything was pointing me in that direction at that time. It was a tough call but the time was right to make the decision. Coheed & Cambria is a heavy and a progressive band and the interesting thing here, in a musical context, is that we were borrowing from the same pool of inspiration that Dillinger was but different in a sense of having a lot more space without cramming a lot of notes in the song composition. Learning to feed off the bass player to compliment the vocals in Coheed was just a different world to me and introduced to me a different mind set. I felt I didn’t have to be unleashing licks or start blowing fills in the spaces but to compliment the groove and play for the song. I’m still learning and with every show we get tighter and tighter and there is the learning of the band’s bag of tricks, their phrasing, their strengths and connecting with their inspiration – it’s an exciting time.

Is Coheed & Cambria a song writing band?

For the new upcoming record, it’s been pretty much a band collective. For example, a riff would come up and the band would jam on it. We work on material at sound check and we have about a half hour to work on it but the coolest thing was when the band were on tour with Linkin Park I actually had a V kit and I would have that set up in the hotel room and that enabled me to flush out ideas. Even on the last record everyone was flushing ideas unlike working with Dillinger when it used to be just Ben and me writing and presenting it to the band – it’s a different process, it’s fresh and it’s cool and I’m looking forward to it.

I was told that you don’t have a drum-tech and you’ve continued to set up your kit at every gig even today, is that true?

It’s true and I love it, getting involved with the whole aspect of setting up only brings me closer to the instrument. As a kid part of the whole experience of the drums is getting the drums and putting it together to make it sound as good as possible and fine tuning it to the point that it represents me; that’s where I’m at. The angles of the toms, the bass and snare and all the other intricacies that go with setting a kit up – it’s a buzz and I just love it. More importantly, when things go wrong I know who to blame.

Chris Pennie by Jerome MarcusWhat advice would you give to an upcoming drummer?

I also teach and I see it in certain students of mine and at the studio I work at where there are many great drummers but I have to say their attitude really sucks. It really sours me and, don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to be judgemental, when I hear it ‘cause there is a huge difference between drummers who really love drums and others who are approaching it for the wrong reasons for example doing it for a sense of entitlement and that to me is completely the wrong approach and if you take that path you sacrifice your respectability and integrity to a greater degree. For me, I’m amazed that I’m still here doing it, living the dream and progressing through the pathway that leads me to be a better drummer.

You’ve got to earn the respect and if that means keeping your mouth shut and let your playing do the talking then that’s what you got to do. In this business there’s so much crap that’s being thrown around and goes wrong all the time and you just got to take it and learn from it. In my experience you have two choices, you can either shoot your mouth off or let it ruin you or you rise above it and let that experience make you the richer for staying in the business. Don’t beat yourself up but learn from your mistakes.

If you talk to guys like Peter Gabriel and Elvin Jones, they would say, in a musical context that some of the best things that have come out for them are from their mistakes and that applies to the business side too – if you can see it as a good thing then you’ll always move forward.

The other thing is to believe in your perseverance – you can have a lot of people beat you down and beat you down and you really have to have the resilience to pick yourself up and move on up – this will make you a better person and serve you better in your business.

As a drum clinician do you have any influences in this area and what do you hope to achieve?

During the past six or seven years guys like Terry Bozzio has been a huge influence and by some way of osmosis he’s influenced me now more than ever – he truly is amazing!

Thomas Lang and Marco Minneman have taken the drum kit to a level of an ensemble instrument and Terry is the innovator and lit the torch. There is also a backlash of it being too technical or there’s an argument that it’s not but for me it’s simply a form of artistic expression and it’s pushing musical and rhythmic boundaries. Whether it’s the simplest thing or the most complex thing, the bottom line is that the messaging is clear. It speaks volumes in that world and it is fun to play – it’s a different attitude, a different discipline and a different mind set. I know I’ve got a lot to learn and a long way to go but I humbly hope I’m able to play my part in the contribution as a clinician. At this moment in time, I just want to be in a position to share and run with the ball but most of all I’m having a real blast doing it.

Where is Chris Pennie going from here and what are your aspirations?

For me it’s always going to be musical aspirations and they are the defining challenges in different styles of music I hope to cover as time goes by.

I am very, very happy with where I am and the people that surround me are really challenging me – it’s all a good thing and keeps me on my toes. With this new record with Coheed & Cambria, I want to make something awesome, so far it’s sounding pretty fierce.

We are currently kicking off a US tour with Heaven and Hell as of now. I also have a few projects I am working on. One is called Return to Earth, we are finishing a record called Automata, which will be out early next year. Also another project with former members of Dillinger called Lion Tamer. Working on a record due out next year as well. Also composing and starting a production company – it’s all go!

In my spare time I still want to go back and take lessons, keep riding the wave and continue developing.

As a drum clinician, there’s a lot ahead to learn and a lot to share with the drumming community.

Drums: Mapex Drums
Cymbals: Sabian
Sticks: Vater

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Mike Dolbear DRUMS: Interview with Chris Pennie #3

posted: October, 2010

by Sam Slater

Chris Pennie

Chris Pennie

It’s been more than three years since Chris Pennie joined forces with boundary-pushing rock band Coheed and Cambria, but it’s only with the release of their latest album that he’s finally made his recording debut with the group…

Hitting earlier this year, Year of the Black Rainbow is the much-anticipated fourth installment of Coheed and Cambria’s series of concept albums, and the first that Chris Pennie has been able to finally get his recorded drum parts heard on. caught up with Chris at this year’s Download festival to ask him all about the new release and his approach to working in the studio…

You had joined Coheed and Cambria before the recording of 2007’s …No World For Tomorrow, yet the band recruited Taylor Hawkins to lay down the drum tracks. What was the situation with you around that time?

I hadn’t officially joined before …No World, but was writing with Coheed and playing with them every day during the time that a member of Dillinger was suing someone, therefore putting the band on hold. When I went to get permission to play on the record I wasn’t allowed to by Dillinger’s label, Relapse Records, due to technically still being a member of the band and still being on the label.

Was that highly frustrating for you wanting to move on and become part of Coheed and then being reigned back in by a former label?

Yeah it absolutely was, there were all sorts of details and stuff, but ultimately it was definitely frustrating. I don’t give a shit about any of that stuff like contracts but unfortunately it is part of it – I just love making music.

So Taylor recorded the album, but you had written the parts? Is that right?

I had worked with the band on all the tunes; demoed them, rehearsed them, and then everything went down with my situation and he stepped in and did a really great job. He learnt all the material very quickly, plus he had my sketches, and then he just added his own brilliant flair and ideas and made it his own thing.

Chris PennieSo were you there when they were recording?

I wasn’t even allowed to set foot into the studio, because if I set foot in the studio, I might have been sued! So I had to wait until that whole process was done and over with, which was unfortunate, but later on I was able to meet him and hang. I was very thankful for Taylor stepping in. He”s an amazing drummer, and a great person.

How has it been playing a lot of material live which you haven’t recorded? Do you play anything different from the originals?

I do play the tunes differently because we all come from a different place personally, and musically. I think the great thing about firstly joining a band that already had a great drummer [Josh Eppard who quit the band in late 2006], and then following somebody else that came in who was obviously a great drummer as well, is that you get to learn from both of them. You get a real insight into their style, their ideas for fills and certain things that they play and how they approach things. So from the old records, to the one that Taylor played on, I adhere to those but then, almost in reverse of what Taylor did, I’ll pick from what he did on the record and what Josh did on the previous records and make them mine. It’s been a great rock drumming lesson learning those tunes.

So you would say joining a band like Coheed has enhanced your own style and playing?

Yeah I definitely think that. Also it’s a good thing for me to come from a band that’s played as many notes as we possibly could, to Coheed where there’s a lot more space and there’s a little bit more time to get to everything.

With your studio debut just being released do you feel like you’re finally a proper member of the band?!

Yes! I”m really enjoying my time with Coheed so yeah, it”s nice to finally be able to record with the band but I don’t need the validation; I feel like I’ve definitely earned my place in Coheed. But it is very satisfying to hold the album in your hands and think ‘Wow, it was great to make this record’. I also enjoyed the process of making it, especially working with the guys in the studio – producers like Atticus Ross [Nine Inch Nails, Jane”s Addiction] and Joe Barresi [Tool, Queens of the Stone Age].

Chris PennieWhat did Atticus and Joe bring to your drum sound on the record?

Atticus is really good at stripping things down and that’s a real change for me – it’s always been about how much shit can you possibly add. So we would strip it down and maybe play some of the elements on another kit with different sounds, or make loops or something out of it, so it was really cool. I’m always fascinated with production and making a record, and this was the first time I’d really got to be in there and observe it and be pushed to do some different things. It was also good to be working towards the end game; not just being the guy that comes in for two days to crank out drum parts because whoever is on a very tight budget. So it was really nice to take on each song in its own environment and just make it what it needed to be.

Have you got any particular favourites from the album?

Definitely. I really like the song Pearl of the Stars which is very ballady. I really enjoy the melodies and what Claudio [Sanchez, vocals/guitar] has to say with the lyrics – it was one of the songs that we started working on a little bit earlier, as opposed to some of the others that were just worked on in the studio. We tried to approach it differently; Atticus would challenge me to think of different ways to do something – we had a bunch of those Johhny Rabb sticks [RhythmSaw] which we were sawing the hi-hat with, trying to come up with different sounds and different textures. Guns of Summer was fun to play too as it’s one of those tunes with lots of stuff gong on – there’s a linear pattern going on through some of the verses, for instance – while still maintaining the groove within the tune, which is important. I think those two are two opposite ends of the spectrum but both fun and challenging in totally different ways.

Were there any songs that you have to play differently live to what was recorded?

No, not at all, I definitely felt that anything we were doing I had a pretty good handle on, so everything that we played on the tours felt fine and good. We rehearse the tracks as a band and anything that we did in the studio was true to what we did in those rehearsals. We didn’t stray too far from that; if things were overdubbed it was just to add a layer, we didn’t add anything unrealistic. I’m never a fan of that; if you can’t do it live then what’s the sense in trying to mess with something in the studio?

There seems to be a huge shift away from that ‘gridded’ sound at the moment…

Yeah, I think that stuff is totally retarded. It sucks all the life out of the recording; I’m really against that. Of course I play to a click and stuff like that, but if you’re behind it, you’re behind it, if you’re in front of it, you’re in front of it – you need to maintain some human feel to it. Some things nowadays are just so on the grid that there’s no feel at all.

Chris PennieIs the songwriting tackled collectively? Obviously Claudio has a strong vision of what direction he’s going to take each album, so how does that work?

It’s great! Claudio has a big vision for what he wants writing-wise – he pens the lyrics and he writes accompanying comic books and stories and there was the novel that came with the deluxe edition of the album – it’s great; I think it’s really smart. He’s really passionate about it and I think it’s a beautiful thing that gives an added dimension to the band. So Claudio will start out with a lot of it, the basic ideas, and then he’ll pass those around and we’ll all work them. It’s nice because it is a collective and I think that’s very cool; with Dillinger it would always be Ben [Weinman, guitar, Dillinger Escape Plan] and I and everybody else would come in a little later, so it was nice to step out of that and into something completely different. It was really refreshing.

What’s coming next for you and the band?

The rest of the year looks very promising with Coheed getting ready to do a bunch of shows with Porcupine Tree and Circa Survive. Gavin Harrison is a great player and his books have been a great source of inspiration to me. Also Anthony Green from Circa Survive is a great singer, and I look forward to hearing him again. We will also be coming back to the UK next month opening for a band I”ve always been a huge fan of, and always wanted to tour with, Deftones. I can’t wait!

You always seem to have lots of projects on the go, what are you working on other than Coheed and Cambria?

I am writing all the time. I have three other projects that I work on, and make the time for, either on the road or at home. One is a band called Return to Earth which just put out a record on Metal Blade called Automata. I am very proud of that record. I also have started a production company called Fight Mannequins, which concentrates mainly on soundtrack and orchestral pieces. It”s important for me to focus on other aspects of playing, it helps me to learn to become a better musician, writer and drummer, and these help facilitate ideas for when I get together with Coheed.

Finally, we’re just seen you play to an enormous crowd at Download, you’re out on tour straight after that… have you got yourself a drum tech yet?

No! In regards to playing live, I love setting up my own drums, tuning them, trying new heads… These techniques are a means to create and define my sound just as much as any hand technique, or how I hold the sticks. It”s an evolving process, and a good way to relax.”

Photos: Sabian and Chris Pennie

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YRB Interview: Terrible Things

October 12, 2010
by Nate Santos

Terrible Things (Josh Eppard, Fred Mascherino, Andy Jackson) by Ryan Russell

Having torn up the stage for years, the trio of Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday), Josh Eppard (Coheed and Cambria) and Andy Jackson (Hot Rod Circuit) were equally struck with a vocation to write a new chapter in their already acclaimed music careers.  Forming a dark sounding alliance dubbed Terrible Things, these vets have mixed up a new formula that can equally treat the rock fever of today’s school of punk kids and its governing PTA body. With the release of their self-titled debut album, their mission is clear: create timeless rock n’ roll and avoid the stigmas brought about by a plethora of bandwagon bands who each attempt to clone the success of the other. The band chewed the fat with YRB, revealing the intimate details behind their concept record, which was inspired by a wave of serial arson that swept a small Pennsylvania steel town.   The rockers highlight some obscure but favorite bands, as well as present a valid con list against recording in major cities. Other, more lighthearted, items on the agenda include the perks of living in a van and why Terrible Things has in fact turned out to be one really, really good thing for its members.

YRB: What are the positive and negative effects of you all coming from different bands and now uniting as one with Terrible Things?

Fred: I feel like we’re only gaining experience from each other.  There aren’t too many hurdles.  People could say, what about expectation?  But I feel like we just went and made something that I think will make our previous fans happy.  At the same time, we did that by going somewhere else with it and not just rehashing something any of us did.  It wasn’t about a style.  It was about writing a song and getting a message across.  Any artist that sticks to that gets to keep making music.

YRB:  How do you feel the sound of Terrible Things varies from the sound of the bands that you were previously in?

Josh:  I would say it’s more mature.  We like to use the word “classy.”  We were young and there was a lot of angst and singing about girls [back then].

YRB: So it was more punk before?

Josh: Not that this is not punk, but it was more about singing what came out right then and there, where as [Terrible Things] we honed in on these songs and thought about lyrics and rewrote lyrics.

Fred:  We worked with Jason Elgin, who produced the album.  He didn’t know anything about our scene or our past records.  And I think it was actually better because we were happy to get out of that.  That’s why we aren’t doing those bands.  It was real healthy to just get into a new headspace.

YRB:  Where did the band’s name originate?

Fred:  We actually had a song called “Terrible Things” and we thought it would make a great name.  Of course, there’s also the idea of having a theme song.  Actually, I went back and rewrote some of the lyrics.  I didn’t want it to just be a love song; I wanted it to be something that all three of us might relate to.  It fit because the album is a concept record based on fires that happened in my hometown.

YRB:  Who are your biggest musical influences?

Fred: All different, I would say.

Josh: Led Zeppelin

Andy: And, collectively, there’s definitely some staples.  One of the funny things is when [Fred] and I were kids, one of our first concerts was David Lee Roth [Laughs].  Not that that’s an influence on what we’re doing right now.  I listen to a lot of hip-hop.  Always did, always will.  Love pop music.

YRB: What do you guys listen to now?

Fred: Well Circa Survive, who we were just out with.

Andy: Imogen Heap.  We were playing one of her more recent records, not her newest one.  That was really fun listening to because musicians can really dig her stuff.   I have one of her records.  It’s one of my absolute favorites.

Fred: Some of the newer stuff that I’ve been getting into is Good Old War and this band, Fun.  And Say Anything is probably the CD we’ve been listening to the most this year.

Josh: One more band to throw in there, Queens Club.  They’re from Kansas.  The drummer and the guitar player were in the band, The Chariot.  It’s just so off-the-charts different.

Andy:  We live in a van together, so it’s actually been fun for me discovering new bands with these guys.  It’s ultimately something that makes the band better.

Fred: First off, there are a lot of bands right now.  And secondly, there are a lot of bands all doing the same thing.  One band does something and then 50 bands do that.  I think the ones we listed are definitely doing something different. We’re confident that when you listen to our record there’s not gonna be anyone else out there doing it the way we do.  That’s one of the reasons we’re proud of this record.

YRB:  Do you think there are any other bands in a similar lane as you?

Josh:  I think there’s nods to other things, there’s elements. We’re a big, loud rock band with a pop overtone.  There’s certainly bands out there with good songs, but I mean we got guitar solos, man.  Who’s doing that?  It’s a nod to a more timeless era of rock n’ roll.  I think it’s all our own.  I don’t want to jinx it, but I think that we’ve got that on lock.

Andy: We’re all older dudes that listen to groups like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.  We’re not the younger kids who grew up on Taking Back Sunday, Hot Rod and bands like that.  We’re trying to bring back that rock n’ roll.  That was a big thing we all talked about in the beginning – not crapping on what we did, but making more of something that your dad could listen to.

YRB: What’s your favorite part of being a rock star?

Josh: The chicks! No, my girlfriend wouldn’t like that.  For me, touring is like camping with your friends.  The best part for me is I feel like I have a new family.  That’s a deep thing to say.

Andy: We’re always talking to fans or that one person that never heard of you that night.  Obviously, there’s a little bleed over of fans.  It’s that connection dude.  Just going and rocking, there’s no feeling like it.

Fred: I think that all three of us, when we’re home for too long we get that itch and we need to go meet some people and drive around.  That’s probably the best part for me.  To our own self-damage we are restless people and this allows us to get it out of our system every night and go wild and sweat.

YRB:  What made you decide to go the route of a concept album?

Fred: Well, it happened supernaturally.  I used to look at people who did those records and say I could never do that, cause I can’t focus on one subject for that long.  But the town I lived in since I was born – and I lived there ‘til about two years ago – had a series of fires.  After about 25 fires they had arrested some people and it was actually on CNN.  I never thought I’d see Coatesville, PA on TV.  They said ‘We caught the guys. They confessed, it’s over.’  And I was really kind of mad about it.  Then two days later there was another fire and I got kind of scared.

YRB: Did they catch the wrong guys or did they just miss somebody?

Fred:  I think it was more of a group copycat type of thing.  It really has remained a mystery.  I wrote the first song called “Steel Town” because that’s really how our town started, as the steel company moved out.  It became a more and more depressed city to the point where this was able to happen.  It wound up being 50 fires.  As it went on, I wrote a song because I didn’t know how else to deal with it.  Then I had a handful.  I didn’t really think of making it an album until it grew.  I met Andy and he had actually had a house fire where his house burned down.  He related to the subject matter.  Josh is sort of into dark concepts and that helped bring it together.  We wrote the rest of the album together and they gave a lot of input on the existing songs.

YRB: Do you feel like the whole album is dark?

Fred: Yeah, there’s some fast songs, but they still stay pretty dark.  There’s a song called “Conspiracy” where Josh brings in sort of a hip-hop vibe.  That’s kind of a standout track as far as something new that none of our past bands could have dove into at all.
YRB:  Andy, did you contribute more to the songs “Not Alone” and “Wrap Me up Tight?”

Andy:  We all write together, obviously, for the most part.  “Wrap Me up Tight” was one of those songs I had actually written before we were a band.  It had a different chorus.  All the songs don’t necessarily talk about the fire.  “Conspiracy” is not about the fire.

Josh: Still, one could draw a line through each song.  That’s the fun thing about a concept record, it doesn’t have to be so convoluted that you’ve got to know the story to enjoy the song.  They each stand on their own.

YRB:  You went all the way to Alabama to record.  Is this the first time that you guys tried to sort of isolate yourselves during the recording process?

Fred: Well, I went out to L.A. to record once for the last Taking Back Sunday record that I was a part of.  I found it really distracting to be in a really popular city with tons of industry people dropping by, parties every weekend and all that.  Alabama is not like that.  It’s the opposite.  There was Taco Bell instead.  That was the most happening thing in town.

Andy:  In the past, I’ve made records in New York and you can’t ever find your band members because they’re at a show or whatever.  There’s so much to do around [NYC].  We didn’t have those distractions in Alabama.

Fred: It was the perfect experience for making something real.  There was nothing going on to affect you.

YRB:  Where will you be touring for this album?

Fred:  Everywhere.  We’re starting a tour with a band called Mae.  We are actually doing their farewell tour.  It’s gonna be smaller clubs.  We’re just hoping to fill ‘em with our fans and get the word out.

YRB:  What’s the overall goal for this record?

Andy: To be huge.  WORLD DOMINATION!

Josh:  To reach as many people as possible.  We want to be successful because we love music.  It doesn’t come from a place of selfishness or greed.  It’s ‘cause we want to play music for a living and we have families and people that depend on us.

Andy: I think there’s a big misconception.  People are like, ‘Oh, you’re rich,’ but it’s like we’re not making any money.  I slept in the van last night.  We’re back to the streets and the van and we’re excited about it.

Josh:  It feels like it makes Terrible Things its own new thing entirely.  I’m glad that we’re in a van.  There’s always gonna be problems, but this is the most fun I’ve had, literally, in years.  If we started off on a bus and were drawing thousands of fans off the strength of our other bands, well guess what man?  I wouldn’t feel like I feel right now.  This band is a new chapter and a new era completely.  The buzz is starting to happen.  I have a really good feeling, I really do.

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thefamily3 at NYC’s CMJ Marathon 2010

The Southwest has SXSW in the spring, but the Northeast has the CMJ Marathon in the fall.  Artists from all strides (this year, about 1,200) pack into 75 venues (spanning from tiny loft-type spaces all the way to Madison Square Garden) all in the city that never sleeps.  The festival attracts music connoisseurs, music industry folks, college radio workers, filmmakers, and of course- press for the 5 days it runs.  U2, R.E.M., Nirvana, Green Day, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Muse, White Stripes, The Killers, Justice, and Lady Gaga, are some of the names who’ve garnered the next level of attention at CMJs in the past.

  • Tuesday, October 19 – 6:30PM – Alphabet Lounge – Kiss Kiss‘ Josh, James & Rebecca + Stephanie (harp) & Ben
  • Tuesday, October 19 – 1:00AM – Kenny’s Castaways – Cosmonaut
  • Wednesday, October 20 – 4:30PM – Arlene’s Grocery – AM to AM
  • Wednesday, October 20 – 7:00PM – Gramercy Theatre – Terrible Things
  • Wednesday, October 20 – 9:15PM – Lit Lounge – Emily Long
  • Friday, October 22 – 6:30PM – Crash Mansion – Emily Long

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Nightmares For A Week release album details

Nightmares For A Week - Don't DieEarlier today AbsolutePunk posted the track listing and release date for Nightmares For A Week‘s forthcoming debut album.  In light of this news, Nightmares For A Week’s Don’t Die was erased from the “Awaiting Release” section of aKt’s Release Calendar and penciled into the brand spankin’ new “2010 > December” sector!

Earlier this year NFAW was named one of Alternative Press Magazine’s “Bands You Need To Know in 2010.”

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AbsolutePunk: Nightmares Don’t Die

by Adam Pfleider

Nightmares for a Week will release Don’t Die via Academy Fight Song on December 7th.


1. You Destroy Me
2. Baby
3. Veins
4. Old House
5. Bear Mountain
6. Our Vessel
7. Alright
8. Lightning Rod
9. New Solitude
10. Breath’s As Hard As Kerosene
11. Don’t Die

Prior to the December 7th release of their debut full-length, Nightmares For A Week will be releasing a limited 7-inch featuring the album version of the song “Veins,” as well as a B-side track “Feelin Blue,” which will see a release date of November 9th, also through Academy Fight Song.

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Crusher Magazine Live Review: Three / The Dear Hunter @ Bearsville Theater

MAY 9, 2009

by Morgan Y. Evans
photos by Angela Tampone

Joey Eppard of 3

Joey Eppard of Three


The Bearsville Theater, just outside of world famous Woodstock, New York, is a beautiful, esteemed venue with a great sound system. The venue, originally owned by famed folk music manager Albert Grossman in the days when he was working with Bob Dylan, sits right atop the burbling Sawkill creek with dignity. It has hosted many concerts over the years with artists’ always eager to make an appearance and add it to their resume. The venue has hosted the likes of Mercury Rev, The Pretenders, jazz greats like Jack DeJohnette and even recently the spoken word of Henry Rollins as well as the stand up of David Cross. As Joey Eppard’s alternative/prog-metal/pop band Three has long been one of the stalwart, leading forces of the Hudson Valley music scene, the Bearsville Theater has served them well over the years as an ideal place for them to dig in and relax to a hometown crowd between tours. Three plays the theater every few months, it seems, which is nice since Woodstock, once synonymous with rock n’ roll, is decidedly lacking in many venues. Still, while every Three show in the area (or anywhere, for that matter) always has something special to offer, the combined power of Three and The Dear Hunter had people talking about this show for weeks ahead of time.

The Dear Hunter, originally from Boston, have a great, forward thinking energy that is very compatible with Three, which is good, since Three are adept and diverse enough to share the stage with everyone from The Scorpions to Porcupine Tree and Coheed and Cambria. The jovial, bearded and thoughtful Casey Crescenzo, mastermind of The Dear Hunter, perhaps may have said his band’s name one too many times to the crowd, but they sure delivered a good set. After watching the band live no one was going to forget who they were if they didn’t know already, no worries there! Mixing Dredg-like spacey guitars with a tiny flirtation with emo plus boogie and folk elements alongside conceptual storytelling, The Dear Hunter were poised and professional. Casey’s voice sounds at times like Rufus Wainwright, though not quite as flamboyant, but very capable of captivating and augmenting the well crafted tunefulness of the band. “The Oracles on The Delphi Express” stood out with interesting rhythms and a catchy consistency.

The Dear Hunter are a band that will grow on you if somehow they don’t grab you at first, with piano and guitar soundscapes that are full and still intricately put together even in more simplistic moments. They don’t brow beat you with their skills, rather using them to advance the moods, like a band with respect for their fans’ intellects.

All of The Dear Hunter’s records are acts with continuity. Casey wanted to be able to write something he could grow with as his own life advanced, and each act tells the further story of a boy known as “The Dear Hunter”. Imagine it like Harry Potter getting older on film, but much more rocking and no flying brooms.

“I don’t want to romanticize my life too much. I think that can be selfish and so I wanna say things without them all having happened to me, but still it grows with you and you find your place in it. Act 3: Life And Death is the title of our brand new record, our last for Triple Crown. I produced and engineered it, like all the other records,” said Casey, after their set. I asked him what he thought of the venue and learned that he’d once lived in a town relatively nearby.

“This venue is beautiful, low key and amazing. It’s a safe haven compared to most places band’s get to play,” Crescenzo enthusiastically gushed. “My geography is very confusing, but I ended up in Red Hook years ago living with my cousins and my uncle. He took me here a few times and there’s a studio Novesa, with a mobile studio truck. I used to come up here to this area and I’d seen that studio, which is pretty near here, I think. I think it was six years ago. I didn’t know about Three then. It was the beginning of anything for me. I’d sold all my musical gear and was working as a video editor in Red Hook with my relatives. I can’t say I’m ‘from’ this area but it is cool to play here and that anyone knows who we are. We were living in Boston and now a few of us live in western Massachusetts and the rest of us live in Providence, Rhode Island.”

I wasn’t aware some of them were no longer in Boston and explain that Providence is where my sister Cambria now lives. I asked if the band play there a lot as well so I can tell her to go see them.

“Yeah! We play there pretty often. There’s some good clubs,” Casey said. “We’re touring with Mewithoutyou next and are really excited. We’re doing all the U.S. We went to Australia for the Soundwave Festival. It’s big but we were in the little kid’s stage, though it was still awesome. That’s where we really met Mewithoutyou. I have so much appreciation for Aaron, he’s so creative.

Like Three, Mewithoutyou are a great pairing for The Dear Hunter, so fans should definitely try and catch a date on that tour. There are almost psychedelic elements, roots and folk and even some boogie elements in The Dear Hunter’s sound, and all of the band’s mentioned paint vivid stories with their music. It’s nice to think that in times of so much musical banality that some people are still trying.

“You can at least strive not to repeat other people, that’s enough,” Casey said, agreeing. “Nobody has any idea what’s original. They know what they’ve heard and how to let it influence them instead of how to repeat it. I feel like that’s one thing that all these bands do really well. We try not to be repetitious. I feel like there’s absolutely no point for a band to come and do the same thing someone else comes better. When you are like another band in certain ways, that’s fine, but so many bands are obviously trying to mimic others.”
I ask Casey how he met the guy’s from Three.

“My old, heavier band The Receiving End of Sirens was cool for what it was. It fell through the cracks, but the guy who was playing bass for us, plus me and the guy who is our manager now, we were all in that band and played in Maine opening for Three,” Casey said. “This was four or five years ago and we were blown away by Three’s playing! We played pretty tight for what we did, but Three got up and it was crazy inspiring. We took their record and loved it. I got kicked out of that band but I kept in touch with Three. The Dear Hunter did a show in Boston and got asked who we wanted to support the show. At first I thought it’d be insulting them to ask them to open but we just wanted to play with them. We are well aware they are worth much more than opening for us, but we contacted them and have stayed friends!”

The feeling of admiration was mutual when I asked Three’s laid back drummer Chris Gartmann about The Dear Hunter. “Yeah. We played with them a couple of times and really like ‘em. We really thought the Dear Hunter and Three in Woodstock would be rad,” said Chris. I asked if he was excited about his own band’s recent signing to Roadrunner Records. “You betchya’, we are excited,” Chris drawled. “They’re a great label and we’re excited to start working for them, really soon. First things first, we wanna get this last record for Metal Blade out, which we really like. It’s stuff we’ve had around a while but always liked that never made it to record. We’re glad they’re finally getting recorded. The working title is Revisions and that’s gonna come out before whatever we do for Roadrunner.”

As for how life is on a personal level with Mr. “Gartdrumm” these days? “I’m awesome. Can’t complain. I’m lookin’ forward to the summer. I was born in the summer. I’m a child of the summer!”

Summer may be just upon us, but this early spring night Three was already looking like they were warmed up like a band who’ve been used to playing every night on the road in the middle of the year. Gartmann was spot on with his fills and each snare hit resonated with a snapping vitality. Songwriter/guitarist Joey Eppard always makes the most intricate finger work look effortless and the fact that he can sing such fluid and moving vocals over the top of elaborate arrangements is a testament to his dedication. The whole band is amazing in that their parts are often totally independent yet fuse together to create any realm they wish to explore.

Of late, there was been a bit of weirdness going on with Three’s MySpace page. When the page suddenly vanished after Joey spoke out against Monsanto, who he described on a blog as “…a giant corporation that seeks to control the world by controlling the food supply. They have been working to undermine organic agriculture for years…They genetically engineer many crops that will not grow without their patented chemicals.” Shortly after the blog was posted, the Three page vanished and they were told by MySpace, which is owned by a certain individual who is sympathetic to Monsanto, that they never had the URL they have had for many years! Every time the band recreated their page something weird went on for a few weeks until recently. Maybe it is paranoia, but it was very strange, and stranger things have happened than people being messed with for speaking out against things that companies don’t want you to stay informed about.

Anyway, Three treated the crowd to a great set with highlights from throughout their wide catalogue. “You’ve Been Shot” was my particular favorite, very memorable and catchy with a positive message about the downside of violence. “All That Remains” had the audience captivated, and I wondered how Billy Riker was able to grin and play his guitar parts so perfectly since we’d hit a serious bowl before the band played. Fans sang along and the vibe was perfect.

Three are hopefully going to be very successful on Roadrunner and are a band that you should support. They nurture along each composition with care, giving every song a life of its own. Three have reverence for music as an art form while still remembering to have fun on the way, the best of all combinations.

Billy Riker of 3

Billy Riker of Three

The Dear Hunter

The Dear Hunter

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Crusher Magazine Interview: Three

January 2008
by Morgan Y. Evans

3Woodstock, New York’s Three are one of the hottest rising bands on the underground scene. From touring with the likes of Coheed and Cambria and Porcupine Tree, to conquering Headbanger’s Ball with their new video “All That Remains” from their second Metal Blade Records release The End Is Begun (and 5th album overall), they seem poised to climb higher and higher. Three will soon embark on their biggest tour yet opening for Dream Theater on the Progressive Nation tour where band founder Joey Eppard and company will surely blow minds amongst even the scene’s staunchest seen-it-all types.

I grew up in Woodstock with Joey and have know his family forever, it seems. We talked over the phone about the impending tours, the insanity of life in general, and exchanged some very interesting perspectives (to put it mildly) on the Woodstock scene Three came from.

MORGAN Y. EVANS: All right, man. You ready?


3 promo photo by Daniel McCabeMYE: All right. First and foremost, congrats on the new record. I’ve known you musically for almost fifteen years in the same Woodstock/Kingston scene.

JE: (Laughing) Yeah.

MYE: Half my life. Wow. It’s been so great to see Three doing well, especially in terms of how there’s so much pussy-ass, shitty, overly-compressed emo out now. If only more bands were like you or The Dresden Dolls. It’s great knowing that, like me, you guys came from Woodstock, the signifier of an initially well-meaning and proactive generation. You’re doing your own thing, it’s tied to the past, yet still with new elements and futuristic aspects and modern/current styles in there, too. Just knowing you people, it’s really fucking great! You guys deserve the recognition, you know.

JE: Thanks, dude.

MYE: The first thing I wanna ask about the new record is, what was your headspace writing it? What did you want to achieve after Wake Pig and how did you come up with the name The End Is Begun? It’s just a tad apocalyptic and what not (laughing).

JE: I didn’t put a lot of logical thought into it ahead of time. Once we’d got off the road from our first major tour of Europe…

MYE: Was that Coheed or Porcupine Tree?

JE: It was actually Atreyu and 36 Crazyfists with Chiodos for a few dates, too.

MYE: Oh, awesome! I didn’t even know about that tour.

JE: We just got home from that, and it was such a whirlwind experience, and I went right into my home studio and started whipping out ideas. One of the first things I tracked was an acoustic demo at the time, but it’s since become known as “The End Is Begun”, which is the title track for the record. My take after the fact on it is that we’re surrounded by impending change.

MYE: Impermanence.

JE: Yeah. Things are gonna change in the next six years. We’re gonna see a lot of things changing worldwide. For me, The End Is Begun–you sort of have to confront that fear aspect of it before you can look at it as an opportunity, you know, an opportunity to dismantle the structure that kind of holds us back, and have a chance to build things in a new, more sustainable way.

MYE: There’s a great quote in that horrible movie Armageddon, but it’s Steve Buscemi and it’s a great quote, where he says, “Embrace the Horror.” It’s not like, love it or anything, but it’s just like, accept it is there and face it and you won’t be living under a cloud of doubt and paralysis and powerlessness all the time. You can then get your shit done. That reminds me of what you just said.

JE: True. You have to face it and then you’re not ruled by it. You have to get past that and then any adversity can be transformed into an opportunity.

MYE: Right on. I wanted to talk about when I saw you with Coheed at Roseland Ballroom in New York City a few years ago. It was really cool ‘cuz Coheed were headlining Roseland for the first time which was awesome. You guys opened for them and Underoath, who I’m not too crazy about, not because of their music so much as that Mic Todd (Coheed and Cambria’s bassist) told me they supported George W. Bush. I didn’t think that was very punk or smart.

JE: Oh, it was awful, man. They really rubbed it in our faces, too, and I kind of felt sorry for them.

MYE: Me too. Everyone needs to listen to Jello Biafra (ex-Dead Kennedys) new spoken word set In The Grip Of Official Treason every single day. I mean, I’m not trying to hate on Underoath or anything; my grandfather was a minister. What I want to get across is, it was so awesome having seen you guys play gigs for years, but at the Roseland point, you guys had been around and were starting to break bigger, but a lot of people didn’t know your songs as well yet. Still, you guys just fucking owned it. My girlfriend, at the time, and I thought it was vindicating. As a fan and friend, I thought you guys had this 70’s Godhead shit going on, and we were so psyched.

JE: (laughing) Thanks!

MYE: It was really interesting to see how some of the more punk-police people were taking it, compared to those a little more open minded, to those who were already diehards or were more attuned to you via Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever’s recommendation. New “emo” fans have the historical continuity of goldfish, but there were definitely people who did know you guys also. Now that people know you more, how does it feel comparatively to when you were proving yourselves? I thought it was really brave of you guys that you just took the stage and threw down your shit even if it was different, doing it your way. Now people know it. How does it feel now to have the kids know your tunes and be behind you?

JE: I think it gives you a lot of energy and power when an audience really knows the material. You feel this kind of support there. It’s an exchange of energy that drives the music. I still feel that we are out here to prove ourselves, and every tour we are on we are making new fans. Some of them have heard of us, but we are still making a lot of first impressions on the tours we’re doing. I enjoy that challenge of going out in front of an audience that might be skeptical right off the bat, and then winning them over. It’s something we’ve been doing for a while now.

3MYE: Right on. There are so many people in the world now that you will always have to do that to some extent. Even Linkin Park might feasibly have to do that in some place on Earth still, you know?

JE: Sure.

MYE: Given that the video for “All That Remains” is kicking ass on Headbanger’s Ball right now, how was it working with director David Brodsky? He’s worked with my friends The Smashup, and also on the claymation Kylesa video recently. (I love that band. They are fucking massive!) Brodsky is very talented, and I remember he told Vin Alfieri from The Smashup that he thought the Three video turned out particularly amazing. I know Brodsky is a big Tool fan, and your music is also very mature. How was the whole process?

JE: I was really impressed with him. That video was half the budget of our first video (“Alien Angel”), and it is so much more professional on a lot of levels. It was a different experience because I put a lot of ideas out on the table in the beginning, but I didn’t stay involved. I kind of just let Dave run with it, and he did a really good job. It was really a less complicated video, in that our first video was running with the whole They Live concept (a classic sci-fi horror film starring WWF wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and featuring aliens you could only see when you wore special sunglasses).

MYE: I loved how “Alien Angel” had the They Live references, and how Tom Benton, the head of your old label (Planet Noise Records), had a cameo. It’s cool how this time you just found a great location and basically played live. The time first I watched it, it seemed like there was this great, epic story there, but really it’s just great cinematography.

JE: The location really came across. I don’t know if you have ever seen that place.

MYE: What’s the name of that spot again? It’s on the Hudson River near Cold Spring.

JE: It’s Bannerman Island. [ Technically, it’s Pollepel Island. For more info on it, click here: –ed.]

MYE: You know, I actually do know the location because, funny enough, I used to see it on the train ride down to the city, and my new band talked about doing a photo shoot there. Our guitarist, wanted to take us down there in his boat, but it was winter and shit. We probably would have gotten drunk and crashed and drowned, and only had a shitty digital camera anyway, so it’s better that you guys had a whole film crew and did your shit there instead. I think it was a great visual match for your sound. Did you have to take a boat out there? I wasn’t sure if the island was attached to land on one side.

JE: This guy, Zac, took us out there on a pontoon boat. We basically had all of our gear on a glorified raft.

MYE: (laughing) That’s gotta be scary!

JE: It was the all-time most difficult thing, because once you get on the island you have to carry your gear up all these giant stairs. It was funny; we couldn’t believe we had to shoot the video after lugging the stuff up all the steps.

MYE: I can’t remember what guitar you used in the video, but did you take one of your least-favorite axes in case it ended up in the Hudson?

JE: I had a couple of guitars there, but I ended up using my ESP Extone, which is really a bad ass guitar. It’s got a really unique body shape, but it’s hard to really get a good sense of it because of the reflections in the surface of the guitar. It’s definitely one of my more important guitars. I wasn’t shy about it, it’s a video.

MYE: So you braved it. Right on, man. Lately you guys have done a lot of really good shows at the legendary Woodstock venue, The Bearsville Theater. For the people who don’t know, it used to be owned by Albert Grossman, who worked with Bob Dylan and other 60’s titans. Since we both grew up playing shows in Woodstock, I want to talk to you about some recent history. Woodstock has changed so much, even since I was a kid. I was looking at Muddy Waters’s The Woodstock Album, the last one he cut for Chess Records. It’s got Levon Helm and Paul Butterfield on it. There’s a very small picture on the back of the CD of a building I thought looked familiar. I realized it was actually a picture of Bearsville Studios (a famous Woodstock studio that has hosted the likes of R.E.M., The Pretenders, Phish, Metallica, and many classic earlier bands). It was just the first room, before it had any of the additions. I was thinking about how that studio isn’t even open anymore. The town itself has really become yuppiefied. Now I think the scene is getting great again, though. When we were growing up, there were bands like Peacebomb. You’ve worked a lot with them, and some of them even became part of Three at points, (including drummer Chris Gartmann). We had bands like Dripping Goss, of course the Bad Brains guys were always around, and even unknown bands like Lunchmeat. It used to be that you could go to a Shabütie show at the Woodstock Youth Center and see them cover Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song”, and then later the same night see them at the famous Tinker Street Cafe where Hendrix used to play, doing a mellower set for an older audience. They’d do songs like “Star Cecil” and “Cassiopeia”. There was always something going on. Now the Joyous Lake (a once famous venue) is just a t-shirt shop. At least the scene is thriving again, despite a lack of Woodstock venues. You guys are doing great, of course Coheed have gone to the stratosphere and don’t play Woodstock anymore, but you are both representative of real music. Coheed blew up and have roots here, and Josh, your brother, an ex-Coheed drummer also known as the rapper Weerd Science, has forthcoming new material. There’s that band The Median, with ex-Anadivine dudes, who are phenomenal. How does it feel seeing the arc of all this now with Three being more widely recognized?

JE: I think it’s a very deep musical area, with such a rich pool of talent, and it’s crazy that there are so few local rock venues.

MYE: It’s ironic that the only Woodstock venue left is Bearsville Theater, originally part of the Bearsville Studio complex, and a real holdout of integrity. It was kind of the most important one all along.

JE: Yeah. And how does an up and coming band play the Bearsville Theater? We can barely pull it off there, you know what I mean?

MYE: I practiced like ten feet away from there in my first band and I still have never played there. You guys have been doing these great shows there recently, and I think it’s really inspiring.

JE: I feel really blessed that things have gone so well and we are able to play a room like that, but honestly, what I am really feeling in my gut is that I want to do a show with a lower ticket price, make it all-ages, and get everybody in a room and have a great time. At the Bearsville Theater there’s such a high overhead, it costs so much money, even if we didn’t take any money it would still be expensive. I want to find a place where we can put on a show like that, where kids can afford it and everyone comes. That’s what’s missing here. We’ve got the regional talent to fill the room, whatever it is.

MYE: One thing I’ve always admired about you is how you’ve always been very humble. You’ve always had this great ability as a songwriter and a guitarist, of course, but I’ve always loved how you’ve played big shows, little shows, headlining shows, opened for bands, but then you’ll play a regional street festival. Then you’ll be doing something with the band Drugs, with some of the P-Funk dudes, and you’ll just roll with it all. You’ve always said that’s what you were going to do, and you’ve maintained that. You’ll go if there’s any audience and people who care about the music.

JE: Absolutely. And also, to me that’s a big part of who I am and what contributes to the diversity in my own musical palate. Staying open and having the opportunity to play with the guys from P-Funk. There’s not a lot of guys I’ve run into who have that kind of experience. There’s so much you can absorb and learn doing that. I try to stay open.

MYE: What’s up with Drugs, are you doing anything with them right now?

JE: Actually, we are. We’re going to France with them to play a festival called MIDEM. It’s a one hour-long set. We’re doing it at the end of January and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been a little while since I’ve gotten to let the soul-music side of what I do come out.

MYE: Dave Daw, of the band Counterfeit Disaster, told me you’ve got gigs coming up with Dream Theater, right? I’m more into noise bands, myself, but that’s huge.

JE: It’s going to be a huge tour, probably the biggest of our careers. It’s being called the Progressive Nation Tour, started by Dream Theater’s drummer.

MYE: (laughing) No pressure!

JE: (laughing) Yeah. It’s his brain child. It’s us, Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and Dream Theater. It’s a very diverse array of bands.

MYE: Opeth is great.

JE: Yeah, they’re awesome. Those guys are amazing. We’re really excited just to be a part of it. The promoters are really excited, too. We don’t even know what the dates are yet, but the tour seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

MYE: One thing I really wanted to touch on in this interview is how Three has always held up a torch for diversity while also having signature sound elements. I was always really glad that the last Melancholy show, my first band ever, was with you guys at the Tinker Street Cafe (in 1996). We were kind of crazy punks and shit and our fans used to fight yours back in the day, even though the guys in the two different bands were friends. You, me and (original Three bassist and an engineer at Applehead Studios in Woodstock) Chris Bittner and Josh Eppard were all friends and stuff. You guys had a great prog and funk thing going on with alternative rock. I love how our last Melancholy show even kind of put some of that friction to bed on stage. I was always kind of envious how you guys had longevity with the band name Three, or even another regional band like Pitchfork Militia, who’ve had one band name for over a decade. We started around the same time but I’ve since been in like, 5 or 6 bands sine ’94. You guys have had the one moniker, and I know you considered changing it a few times. There was 3Jane for awhile, inspired by William Gibson’s classic book Neuromancer. I am happy, though, that you never changed the name from Three because, to me, it signifies the whole journey. There’s so much under the banner, but you are still doing fresh stuff, too. To wrap up my point, people can see you’re really dedicated. It’s like a life mission and shows how committed you are to the whole process.

JE: Yeah, right on! I wanted to change the name and refresh the whole concept at different points. It just wasn’t meant to be. We tried it. The toughest thing is finding a name, but the names, they just don’t really matter. You could have the dumbest name in the world, but if it’s a great band it becomes a great name.

MYE: Like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Smashing Pumpkins, awesome bands.

JE: We were just born Three, and as much as I wanted to change it at one point, I realized that this is what it is.

MYE: Well it started out being you, Josh, and Chris Bittner, three dudes, but I always liked how at a certain point you let go of it having to mean any one thing. It might have certain meanings but you let people decide for themselves while still talking about how the number three is often reoccurring throughout life. You have life stages, holy trinities, all kinds of things.

JE: Yeah. I certainly have my speech of “threes” that I give from time to time.

MYE: Well, you’ve had time to think about it over the years.

JE: Yeah, you know my standard answer to the “Why Three?” question is that for some reason I was always artistically obsessed with the number three. After the fact, I was soon looking at reality from a numeric perspective and seeing that we live in a three-dimensional space, we experience time as past, present, and future, and we have a body, mind, and a spirit.

MYE: Not to get all like 23 the movie or anything.

JE: (laughing) Yeah. That’s another one, “23”.

MYE: Don’t get me started on that. I read Robert Anton Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy [co-authored with Robert Shea/more info here –ed.] way too many times.

JE: This also relates musically. I’ve always wanted to be a three-dimensional artist, not just putting forward one face and being trapped in that identity. It’s exciting that we have more than one face as a band at different times.

MYE: That’s why I loved when I saw one Bearsville show and you mixed in a lot of songs from throughout your whole career, even really early stuff. I saw one show of yours at the Flying Saucer Cafe in Kingston, this weird room with UFO art and shit everywhere, and you were in this crazy psychedelic jam phase. You’d do these jams where you’d be vibing off Gartmann and Joe Cuchelo was on bass at the time (both ex-Peacebomb members). There’d be times where it was so intense, and you came on to some shit that you were never going to reproduce, but it was so sick. I love that you had real rehearsed material too, alongside that. You weren’t afraid to show all the sides of what you’d been. I always hate it when bands hide their arc. I love how Fugazi would play anything from their whole catalogue. It’s all about your real life, you know?

JE: Sure. Yeah, totally. That was a very interesting era, sort of this thing where we knew it could be not so great, but other times we’d create these things in the moment that were never going to happen again.

MYE: And everybody’s like “WHOA!!”

JE: There’s something that’s really exciting about that. I can’t wait until we’re doing more headlining shows so that we can do a little more of that again.

MYE: What’s up with Weerd Science these days? Josh was going to play the new Three record for me before it came out, but I got lost trying to find his fucking apartment. I had to wait to hear the new record like everyone else. I haven’t talked to him in a little while. I saw him recently and we were all good, but what’s up with your bro?

JE: I was just hanging out with him a couple hours ago. He played me a few of the new Weerd Science tracks and they sound amazing. It’s incredible. I sing on some of the tracks. I want to be as much a part of it as I can, but it’s mostly Josh and Dave Parker (ex-Divest, ex-Coheed and Cambria touring keyboardist, now Counterfeit Disaster). Mike “Clip” Payne (from P-Funk and Drugs) just got in there and did the intro to the record. It’s badass. The record’s gonna be called Sick Kids. It’s heavy, man.

MYE: I’m not sure about this, but did you guys do the Coheed tour with Clutch?

JE: No.

MYE: I wasn’t sure about that.

JE: That would have been amazing.

MYE: Clutch is my favorite band.

JE: We did a run of shows with Coheed. Four or five shows. This is going back to the time that Josh left the band.

MYE: So you haven’t played with them since he left? I’ve kind of been avoiding paying attention to them. I haven’t heard their new record or Claudio’s solo album on purpose.

JE: Well, those guys actually wanted to take us off the bill because they thought it would be too awkward. I called Travis (Stever, from Coheed) up, and said “You guys do what you’ve gotta do, but there’s no reason to get weird about it.” Me, of all people, I went through that with Josh. He was my drummer, and he quit Three. It’s a little weird that I have so much in common with Coheed, even working with the same producers, Mike Birnbaum and Chris Bittner at Applehead.

MYE: (laughing) I have the same fucking problem, my friend. (note: In 2003, a previous band of mine, Divest, did a record at Applehead produced by Mike, Chris, Danny Ilchuk, and Dr. Know of the Bad Brains. It remains unreleased.)

JE: (laughing) Yeah. It’s such a small world. Even losing my brother as a drummer and having to rebuild, I have that in common with them. I know what those guys are going through. I hope that at some point everything will be totally cool. It should be. I hope it for Josh especially, because they’ve gotta step back and say, “Yeah, maybe things got a little fucked up.” But they wouldn’t be where they are without him, and that’s the bigger thing. Life is too short, you know what I mean?

MYE: How was the tour with Porcupine Tree, dude? I thought your bands were excellently matched. You both care about tones and good arrangements.

JE: It was the best match-up I think we’ve ever had for a tour. Right off the bat we really just had this connection with their audience. It really worked for us. We sold a lot of records and met a lot of really cool people. It had the band flying high to be able to play with those guys, and have them come up to us and say they’ve never had another band do so well with their fan base.

MYE: Wow, really?

JE: Yeah, even to the point where it seemed like they almost didn’t want to do more tours with us or something. (laughing) Really, it was so inspiring to play with them. They are an amazing band. You have to see them live. Gavin is an insane drummer. Just to be around that kind of talent is good for you, for your playing. It raises the bar. We’re really looking forward to hopefully going to Europe to do a tour with those guys. Multiple times they said they wanted to take us to Europe to expose us to the European audience.

MYE: I just have one last question. Do you have any new solo stuff planned? I always love the contrast between what you do with Three and what you do solo, Joey.

JE: Yeah man. I have a ton of stuff. I’m literally swimming in it. I have enough for four albums, probably. It’s just a matter of finishing things up. That’s where I’m having trouble, is getting a chance to focus and work steady hours on finishing the songs. It’s stuff I’ve been working on since 2002, when I put out my last solo record. That’s why there’s so much material, and a lot of different kinds of stuff.

MYE: I always liked when Three used to cover “Purple Rain”, by Prince. If you’re backlogging that much material, then you deserve to cover Prince songs. I think him, Tupac, and you have maybe the most unreleased songs in music. You can still make royalties when you’re a ghost.

JE: (laughing) That was always a classic. I got to live the fantasy. I’ve been thinking about putting my solo stuff up online, and then maybe it won’t be this obstacle to get a record out and distribute it and all that. All the people can get it off the internet and have access to it.

MYE: That’s cool. Like Radiohead’s new shit. Thank you for your time. The last thing I want to say, in regards to this interview and you as my friend, is that Dr. Know from Bad Brains, who we all know and have worked with at some point, he always says “Each one, teach one.” I’ve always loved that quote. We’re all on different levels, we’re all different creatively as humans, but we all also have a lot to learn from each other. So let’s stay positive and keep it real.

JE: Absolutely man. I agree 100%.

MYE: Thanks, love you bro. God bless.

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