Mike Watt + The Jom & Terry Show performed Thursday, May 18, 2017 at Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio. Photographer Christopher Corn was there to capture the action.
When all you need to make a pop record is a computer, there’s something rebellious about pouring bubble gum out of nickel wound strings. Los Angeles power pop wunderkinds Punch Punch Kick have spent the first five years of their existence carving off every shred of fat from their songs, leaving behind nothing but lean hooks and youthful lyrics planted firmly in your brain. They might be a rock band that writes pop songs, but they’re a band first.
The members of Punch Punch Kick met long before the group formed, becoming friends while their respective old bands played shows at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim, a legendary all-ages club that provided an early stage for acts ranging from At The Drive-In to Fall Out Boy. Drawn together by a mutual respect for each other’s chops and the work of power-pop stalwarts like Cheap Trick and Weezer, Punch Punch Kick sat down to write some songs, taking their name from the standard button-mashing combo in arcade fighting games. Shortly after forming they met producer Linus of Hollywood, the only man in history to work with teen heartthrobs 5 Seconds of Summer and nerd-punk elder statesmen Nerf Herder.
Initially planning on simply recording an EP together, the group’s chemistry with Linus lead to the beginning of a long-running relationship. Over the course of four years, Punch Punch Kick wrote tirelessly, eventually winding up with the eleven songs that make up their self-titled debut. Recording fully independently, Punch Punch Kick has the perfect shine of a major label power-pop debut with the crunchy playfulness of a snotty punk record. Only this time the punks have grown up.
Their new record drops June 2 via Wyatt Blair’s Lolipop Records (Thee Oh Sees, Dr. Dog, Broncho), and today Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of premiering “Swimming,” which you can check out below.
(Visit Punch Punch Kick here:
Phoebe Nir graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in Writing for Performance. She has been received at the White House by Barack Obama as a Presidential Scholar of the Arts in Writing, and was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize for Literary Fiction. Her work in musical theatre has been showcased in New York City at Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s 54 Below, and the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.
While she is currently developing an original musical theater adventure trilogy, Diana & Navy & The Golden Tooth, with composer Tomás Doncker, she also recently released her debut pop EP, Side Hustle, via True Groove Records. Her follow up EP, Red Tape Nation, is out June 9, also on True Groove.
Today, Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of premiering “Holy Water” from the forthcoming EP. Enjoy it below:
(Visit Nir here:
True Groove team:
Adam Gnade + Modern Ache premiere their video for “Hello, Shitstorm,” done by Maddie Pericak, via Ghettoblaster today. “Hello Shitstorm” is a pep-talk and a horror story about what’s happening in America at the moment—the new brand of fascism, the dawn of the Trump Years, a fresh meanness rising.
Andrew Mears (Foals) and Adam Gnade recorded together with Mears‘ former band, Youthmovies, but this is their first time collaborating with his new project, Brighton, UK’s Modern Ache (which also includes Dan Pollard). According to Gnade, “We put this single together as a rally cry for anyone who wants to acknowledge that we still have power and then do something about it. And it’s not just here in the States. This is happening all across the world—just look at Brexit and Aleppo. Dangerous times, but we’re strong too.” As he says in the single’s lyrics, “the wolves chasing us aren’t wolves/they’re guard dogs/and they’re chained.”
(Visit Gnade here: http://www.adamgnade.com/
Catch Gnade on tour here:
July 27 – Lawrence, @ Decade
August 6 – Arcata, CA @ Outer Space
August 7 – Portland, OR @ Grandma’s House
August 9 – Seattle, WA @ Pipsqueak
August 10 – Bellingham, WA @ Make.Shift)
Photo by Devin O’Brien
Sky Chefs is lead by Dale Nicholl’s (formerly of Spy Island) and features players from Black Keys, Pageants, Fiona Apple, Lou Reed, Chris Cohen, and Psychic Temple. After stints in Detroit, Dublin, Portland, Paris, New Zealand, and places in between, Nicholl’s returned to L.A., busted up his old band and started Sky Chefs. In 2016, Sky Chefs has released their debut LP, three EPs, and a scuzzy lil’ single. The songs from Ghosts & Goblins were written in Dublin and London and the album was recorded live over two days and produced by Chris Schlarb (Joyful Noise/Asthmatic Kitty) at BIG EGO, Long Beach, California. The album officially dropped in April.
Today, Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of premiering the video for the title track, which you can enjoy below:
(Visit Sky Chefs here: Facebook
Photo by Zach Wallace
New Air finds Philadelphia’s Fire In The Radio pushing their unique brand of up-tempo indie-punk in a fresh direction incorporating elements of new wave, grunge, and shoegaze drone into tightly crafted pop songs. The result is a notably darker effort than 2015’s Telemetry, which was released to critical acclaim. It also proves to be the bands most ambitious and successful collection of songs to date.
From the driving beat and haunting oohs on the album’s opener and title track, to the head nodding rock anthem “Drug Life;” each of the songs on New Air reveal themselves in stark and immediate ways without meandering. Even on the album’s mid-tempo closer, “Holy Shit,” the pace and delivery of singer Rich Carbone’s vocals remain frenetic. And though Carbone hints at subtlety as he sings “carved your name on the wall, it’s buried in white, a ship for all seasons,” it’s all just a set up for the album’s blistering closing chorus replete with overlapping vocal and guitar lines.
New Air was recorded with Steve Poponi at Gradwell House studios (Beach Slang, Into It. Over It.) with additional engineering by Angus Cooke. The record was mixed by Jesse Gander (Japandroids, White Lung) and mastered by Alan Douches. Released May 5 via Wednesday Records, it is a banger of epic proportions that postures the band as one to be watch, if not in pole position for best album of the year.
Ghettoblaster caught up with the band to discuss their home city, working hard, and being impactful. This is what they said.
Philadelphia has been a hotbed for indie bands for several years. Does it make it difficult to differentiate yourself or standout when there is so much attention on your city?
We don’t think so. There is a lot of diversity in the music being made in the city. It has allowed us to carve out our own niche, while still being part of an overall scene that is supportive. Philadelphia has traditionally been a very blue collar town. We all grew up in that environment. When you see your parents working 12-15 hours a day to knock it out, it instills in you a sense that if you want to be good at what you do it requires hard work. A lot of the bands in Philadelphia grew up in that same environment. It shows in work that is being created and how it is being supported.
We recently read a well-publicized article of how rock and roll is, again, “dead.” We all just smiled. Apparently, the writer missed the two sold nights the Japandroids recently headlined at UT, or The Menziners/Jeff Rosenstock/Rozwell Kids show in Philly last month. It proves that if you create something genuine and honest there will always be an audience for it.
How soon after Telemetry did you begin writing for New Air?
Pretty much immediately. We had new songs in the works at the time we were making Telemetry that just were not developed enough to make the album. We started playing some of these songs on the Telemetry tour. Working them out in front of an audience helped us make them connect.
Was there a theme or idea you were hoping to capture with New Air? What were the catalysts that were going on in your lives that were inspiring the songs?
Through the writing process on this record we realized our songs were taking a darker shape touching on themes of loss, change, addiction, etc. Music is like therapy. You start at the surface and then dig deeper. The direction of these songs is largely a product of us opening up and getting more comfortable talking about these things. Losing friends to drug addiction and overdose inspired the song “Drug Life.” New Air was written in response to the current political climate in our country. Adeline deals with issues of mental health. All of these arose out of personal experiences that deeply affected us and it feels cathartic to write about them.
Were there things you were hoping would differentiate it from your past efforts?
We were certainly hoping for something more mature and evolved. We always like to challenge each other through the writing process. It’s very democratic. We tend to collaboratively obsess over the details, but there was also more communication and open-mindedness as to what each song could be.
You’ve incorporated some different elements here, including some new wave, shoegaze and grunge sounds. How did those influences leach in?
We’re fairly diverse in the music we listen to, both new and old. We often share what we’re listening to with one another. This broad base certainly influenced certain sounds and textures on the record. There is an amazing feeling when you hear a song that you love for the first time. There is a vibe and mood that draws you in. With this record, we started to look towards some of our favorite songs and reverse engineer them. We then tried to incorporate those elements into songs we were writing to make each song as impactful as possible.
How did you select the songs that would make the cut for the album?
We knew we wanted to make another full-length, but didn’t want to compromise the quality of the songs just to have 10 or 12 tracks. We really respect the people who support our music and always want to feel like we’re doing our best to write quality songs that people can relate to. We put our best seven songs into New Air and once we hit that number it felt like a complete thought.
For New Air you enlisted a special team to record, mix and master the album. All of those people seem like very deliberate, strategic choices. How did you select those folks to work this?
There was definitely some consideration put into who we would work with. We met Steve Poponi at the record release show for our last record. He was doing sound. We really liked him and wanted to work with him, so we ended up doing the underlying tracks for the record at his studio, Gradwell House. We did some additional tracks with Angus Cooke and then sent the record to Jesse Gander at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver to mix. Jesse did the last record. He’s a long-time friend and stellar engineer and did a great job. Alan Douches at West West Side mastered the record and made it sound brilliant per usual.
What elements of this record are you most proud of?
We really pushed ourselves on this record to improve the quality of our writing and dig deeper on the lyrical content. We’re all very close friends and proud of how we’ve worked together to make this music.
Are you doing some touring in support of New Air?
Yes, we head out for the first leg of tour starting in May. We’ll also be heading back to Fest 15 in the fall and doing a bunch of other touring in between. Come to our shows, say “hello.”
What are your loftiest goals for FITR as you move forward?
Lofty goals in the music industry in 2017 is an interesting concept. One thing people who support our band can count on is that we will only ever make music because we feel it is impactful. To be able to make music and have it connect and be meaningful to another person is why we do this. When people write to us and tell us that our songs mattered or helped them through a tough time, it means everything. It’s a privilege to gain that place of importance and we can only hope for more of the same.
Jawbreaker seems to be a pretty distinct influence of Fire In The Radio. Do you have feelings about the recent Riot Fest announcement?
It is certainly a band that we get compared to, which is a tremendous compliment. We have a huge amount of respect for Jawbreaker and the amazing records they’ve made. Their music has meant so much to so many. It’s exciting to see them return and have an opportunity to continue to share their art to a whole new audience. If we’re anywhere near Chicago in September, we’ll be there.
(Visit Fire In The Radio:
https://www.facebook.com/fireintheradio http://fireintheradio.tumblr.com/ https://twitter.com/FireIntheRadio http://instagram.com/fireintheradio https://fireintheradio.bandcamp.com/ https://soundcloud.com/fireintheradio
Catch Fire In The Radio live:
5.23 Providence, RI – Dusk
5.24 Brooklyn, NY – Alphaville
5.25 Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club (Lizard Lounge)
5.26 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle)
Athens, Georgia’s Deep State have been flying under the radar making some of the best, pure-bent rock joy heard in a generation in their crook neck portion of the east coast. Power, volume, transition, and then suddenly, they’re here: one of your new favorite bands, wearing out the motor on your turntable.
Friends from bands, college, restaurant jobs Deep State knows there’s a vapor trail of goodness that’s been spread across the planet, so there’s the challenge. Follow it. Do it. The band plans to burn the wheels off the van with the release of Thought Garden, which was released in April via Friendship Fever.
Ghettoblaster caught up with singer/guitarist Taylor Chmura to discuss the pillars of the Athens music community, recording live, and his loftiest goals for the band.
Athens has a particularly strong musical history. What are your favorite parts of that? Is there any Athens music lore that you love?
There is so much from the past to be inspired by. Many of the people responsible for putting the city on the map are still pillars of the community. The present variety is exciting also. So many different avenues to go down. There are great shows every night! I lived in a house that my co-worker lived in back in the ’80s. He told me his old band used to live/practice there. Black Flag came and stayed on the floor. No big deal.
What were you hoping to accomplish with Thought Garden? As you were writing it was there a particular message, theme or feeling you were hoping would come through in the end?
Low-rent introspection filtered through high fidelity recording mechanisms. Personal moral decay seems to be a theme we return to constantly. We were hoping the album could be seen as an invitation to a garden of ideas.
One of the themes seems to be self-resolution. Are people always a work in progress or is there a point where you have to say “this is as good as it gets?”
Our argument is that your mind is a garden. It requires maintenance to remain healthy.
Did you always expect that you’d record the album live or was that Drew Vandenberg’s idea?
We went in knowing that we were going to record live and as quickly as possible. We tracked the songs over the course of two days. Drew was more than willing to work at a breakneck speed. He knew what we were up to the second we started playing.
Were you familiar with him before you began working together?
Ryan is good friends with him and has been for a while. They had worked on other recording projects together before we did this album. Drew’s reputation in town is well-known though. He makes amazing albums. He is a wizard. I’m proud to be his friend now.
What are your proudest moments on the record? Is there anything you would have done differently?
There are so many things we could have done differently…but I’m proud that you get us at one particular moment in time as opposed to stretched out over the course of a few months. It’s exactly who we are in a room together. We have no business being a rock band if we can’t play 11 songs well in a couple of days.
Ryan has a Master’s in guitar performance right? Is there an academic approach or music theory that leaches in to your compositions? Or, do you write based on feel?
He does. He certainly has a unique approach to his instrument. We all have an effect on the songs in our own ways. I come to practice with a stone cube with some words etched into it. Smokey, Michael, and Ryan turn it into a wheel. I suppose both of those options apply. We try not to think too much.
How did Friendship Fever/Chris Watson discover you and what has the label done to elevate or support the band?
Chris and Sabrina Watson of FF found our Bandcamp page, asked us what our plans were, and then chose to sign us. It was like a dream playing out in real life. They are the sweetest, most hard-working people we’ve encountered as a band and we are so honored to be a part of their grand vision. Long live Friendship Fever.
What are your loftiest goals for the band?
We would love to keep doing this as long as we can. We just want people to hear our music. More albums more albums more albums. Maybe it’ll be our only job one day…
(Visit Deep State here:
Catch them live here:
Based in the musical mecca of Nashville, TN, The Nearly Deads emit polished grit, mixing the powerful pop vocals of singer Theresa Jeane with the aggressive grunge-inspired instrumentals of Steve Tobi, Javier Garza, Josh Perrone, and Kevin Koelsch. the band has managed to create a truly unique genre that not only gives a nod to gritty grunge, but brings it back in a way never heard before.
From studio to stage to the written page, The Nearly Deads continue to forge a new path dotted by passion, charisma, talent, hard work, and messages of positivity and empowerment. The band’s genuine nature and generosity towards their supporters has fueled the ascension of their “Zombie Nation” of fandom.
Crowned victors in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and a Converse Battle of the Bands competition, the band tours incessantly, with slots at prestigious festivals such as Vans Warped Tour, Summerfest, PrideFest and Journeys Backyard BBQ matched by shows with Halestorm, All-American Rejects, and a 2015 run on the Black Widow Tour with In This Moment, Butcher Babies, and Upon A Burning Body. This constant stream of success and activity has led to airplay on MTVu, MTV Hits, FUSE, BlankTV, Verizon FiOS and Vevo; features in Absolute Punk, Alt Press, ARTISTdirect, Outburn, PureVolume, Revolver, Rock Confidential and Substream and a #14 spot on Billboard’s Next Big Sound Chart.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with The Nearly Deads’ drummer Josh Perrone to discuss their new EP, Revenge of The Nearly Deads, their fans and their own pop culture fandom, and the band’s evolution.
This may have been mentioned to you before, but you bear some similarities to another TN band. Have you guys met Paramore, and if so, what was that exchange like?
We actually have never met them, but we have gotten feedback on the similarities we share, and we’re honored when people tell us that. Would love to meet them though!
How was the band’s sound evolved since Invisible Tonight?
We wanted to take a heavier approach with our sound after the Invisible Tonight album.
Actually going back to our roots and The Nearly Deads’ first EP. Invisible Tonight was very pop and punk driven, and with the Revenge of The Nearly Deads EP we beefed things up.
You guys have won both the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and Converse Battle of the Bands competition. What did those experiences do for the band?
They did great things for the band, with the John Lennon Songwriting Contest we got select dates on Warped Tour, which is such a milestone for any band and is great exposure. The Converse Battle of the Bands gave the band one of its first opportunities to perform in front of a bigger festival crowd. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the band yet for those moments, but it definitely paved the way to more opportunities that I have got to be a part of.
When did you start writing for the EP and what inspired that output? What were you hoping to accomplish with it?
I’ve been writing ideas and parts for the past year. We had a lot of cool ideas and songs, and I specifically remember the first time the band really sat down and hashed things out was when we had a few days off on the Black Widow Tour. We were staying at Javier’s parent’s ranch and jamming the songs in a barn. It was so rad. We were all inspired to be heavier and just have a real rock vibe, personally I was really inspired by Muse, I was into those driving four on the floor beats in their songs. We really wanted to accomplish that heavier rock sound and I think we did just that.
What are your proudest moments on the record?
For me my proudest moment is the song “Frequencies.” I’m proud of all the songs and things I got to do in each of them, but that song to me is just so cool and haunting. Specifically the beat I do in the second half of the second verse, which was actually Steve’s idea. He mouthed out the beat to me in the studio, poorly, but I got what he was saying and laid it down on the kit.
Is “My Evil Ways” about dealing with vices or just a Peter Pan story about not wanting to grow up?
Honestly it’s hard for me to give the 100 percent true answer because TJ wrote the lyrics, but I’d say it’s a little of both. I mean no one really wants to grow up and age is just a number. There’s also the other aspect of it where maybe you should grow up. Maybe you need to be more responsible and better yourself to have a better life.
Are you proud of how your fans have organized, aka Zombie Nation?
We are so unbelievably proud! We have the best fans in the world and it’s so awesome to us that they took an idea we had and ran with it. It means the world to us, Zombie Nation for life!
Are you all fans of zombies? If so, have you read the trillogy Rhianon Frater wrote. It has a super strong female protagonist.
Yes we are! We are all super into horror and zombies is at the top of the list for all of us. I have never read that trilogy, and I can’t recall any other member reading it either, but I definitely want to now! It’d be a great thing for the road.
Are you guys pop culture junkies or nerds? If so, what is your guiltiest pleasure? What is the best guilty pleasure of one of your bandmates?
We are! Steve and I are consumed by pop culture and are the biggest nerds. We joke though because Steve is more of a “video game” nerd and I’m a “superhero” nerd. He knows everything about the latest games and I research everything Marvel, DC, etc. I am the Batman… We are all movie nerds, we love them and most of our conversations are just movie quotes back and forth to each other.
As far as guilty pleasures go I guess I’d say mine is I love to listen to like Katy Perry and basically all the top 40 pop hits on the radio. For one of my bandmate’s guilty pleasures I’ll give it to TJ, she loves reality TV shows, specifically Real Housewives of Atlanta.
What are your favorite accomplishments with the band so far? What are your loftiest future goals for the band?
My favorite accomplishment with the band so far is definitely the new EP. It’s the first studio recordings I’ve got to be a part of with the band, aside from the Ellie Goulding cover we did, those were my drums on that. But as far as original music the Revenge of The Nearly Deads EP is my first. My goal for the band is just to keep making music and touring and seeing all our fans at each show. Of course getting rich and famous wouldn’t be bad either. But, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we just love what we do and making this a long lasting career is our goal.
(Visit The Nearly Deads here: http://www.thenearlydeads.com/#about.)
Befitting their handle, Dead Posey is fascinated by what lies beyond, their music exploring the nature of mortality through both waking life and dreams. But while the Los Angeles duo’s lyrics lean toward the metaphysical, its debut EP, Freak Show, is a raucous, fuzz-loaded collection of back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll. Singer Danielle Souza’s inspired vocals blend seamlessly with guitarist Kyle Foster’s muddy, blown-out riffs in this vibrant, boot-stomping five-song collection.
The band spent most of 2016 working on Freak Show and credits producer/co-writer ALLIES (Tony Fagenson of Eve 6) with helping guide their vision and develop their sound. The EP was created almost entirely in the studio, starting from Souza and Foster’s bare-bones vocals-and-guitar demos. From the anthemic “Don’t Stop the Devil” to the soulful swamp rock of “Boogeyman,” Dead Posey will leave you eager to let your freak flag fly.
Today, Ghettoblaster has the pleasure of offering of the EP’s title track, which you can enjoy below:
(Visit Dead Posey at:
Photo by Clark Wegner
Foxholes, named for a track off Television’s second album, formed in late August of 2012 through a mixture of pre-existing friendships and well-timed Craigslist ads. The Des Moines, Iowa, five-piece, set to release their self-titled sophomore full-length on May 26, specializes in straight-forward lyrical honesty and a blend of garage-rock and post-punk that pulls in influences like The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr., The Strokes and Iggy Pop.
With a seemingly infinite array of guitars and effects pedals buoying a candidly deadpan vocal delivery, Trevor Holt, Jessica Villegas, Ben Barndollar, Kyle Folvag and Craig Bowers have made an album that captures the feeling of being in your mid-twenties in the middle of the United States of America, stuck putting in time at a temp job with no future and struggling to care.
Following the band’s debut full-length, Can’t Help Myself, their sophomore release delivers more hooks and the tracks are more expansive, owing to an additional guitar player as well as the result of giving themselves more time in the studio and coaxing contributions from all of the band members. As Holt explains, “We added another member, but the songwriting is also getting more collaborative. ‘Different Kind of Animal’ is song that Kyle brought in, Craig wrote ‘Ludes’ and ‘34’ was built of a bass riff Jessica had that Ben locked into.”
Today, Ghettoblaster is pleased to offer a listen to the album, which you can enjoy below:
(Visit Foxholes here: http://www.foxholesmusic.com.)