Stomping Grounds: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA by Eddie B. Gieda of An Albatross

eddiebAn Albatross spends most of the year touring, but when they hunker down it’s in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania.  And while the band has had a solid output over their near ten year run, it’s their furious psychedelic live show that draws the most attention.  With a new album, The An Albatross Family Album, out on Eyeball Records, the group sent in an assessment of their hometown from Europe.

1. What’s your nickname for your town?
We live in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area & it’s been moniker-ed many names – The Electric City, Hard Coal Country, Shithole, etc…
2. Why do you live there?
Rent is cheap in the rustbelt: plenty of room to dream, low overhead for broke touring musicians…
3. What is your favorite local attraction (monument, park, etc)?
Centralia – a literal ghost town. Back in the 60’s, the small coal mining city started burning their trash in a large collective pit… It eventually caught fire to a vein of coal that is said to be able to burn for hundreds of years. Slowly, the population was extracted and now all that remains are old abandoned homes, deserted and vacant streets and a few storefronts. The roads have been shut off as they have gaping pits to hell cracking through the cement, plumes of noxious gases rising through the air. Righteous.
4. What is the best time of year to be there?
Undoubtedly summertime – there are hundreds of beautiful outdoor locales you can spend time high & dreamin’ in. Plenty of secluded and beautiful nature areas…
5. Who is your favorite local celebrity/personality?
We get obsessed with a talk-show host named Steve Corbett. Listening to his flip-flop views and ambiguous politics can only be equated to rolling your tongue over a canker sore every 30 seconds. During the lead up to the election, we listened and bitched about him nonstop…
6. Where is the best place to drink and what’s their specialty or happy hour?
It is either The Bog in Scranton or Donahue’s in Wilkes-Barre. Donahue’s is a Bukowskian dive bar that’s specialty is $4 pitchers of Genny all day & night long. It usually fills out nicely after big shows at the only all-ages venue in town, Cafe Metropolis.
7. Who has the best jukebox (and what’s in it)?
Probably Donahues, again. The only songs I ever head played on it are “Free Ride” by Edgar Winter or “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller…
8. What is your favorite place to see live music and what was your favorite show there?
Without a doubt Cafe Metropolis. It is one of the longest running all-ages venues on the Eastern seaboard. It’s been a local hub for probably 15 years and anyone who’s anyone has played there.
9. What is your favorite local band?
This might qualify as nepotism, but The Sw!ms are a pretty incredible band. Our organist plays with them & they are fucking amazing psyche-pop that deserves much more recognition.
10. What is your favorite diner or restaurant and what is their best dish?
The Iron Chef in Kingston, PA. We are good friends with the owner, a wild and free Chinese man named John. He will customize some great dishes for the vegan palate on the hibachi including squash, pumpkin and green tomatoes.
11. What is your favorite record store and what was your best find there?
Plymouth Thrift shop in Plymouth, PA. I found a near mint condition MONO copy of Piper At the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd for $1.91, valued at over $500.
12. What is your favorite local shop?
Any of the scores of thrift stores in the area. From all of my travels, we are only second to Alaskan thrift shops.
13. What is your favorite local publication (alternative weekly, zine, website or blog)?
Hard to say, the zine scene was fucking immense when I was young – kinda dried up by now. I don’t ever think much of Blogs being ‘local’, they’re usually an entity in and of themselves…