White Eagle Hall Interviews: Trü

 

Trü: Making Happy Music for Sad People 

By Timothy Herrick 

A Montclair-based quartet, Trü began as a duo when Pat DeFrancisci (guitar/vocals) and Keith Williams (guitar/vocals) met at a mutual friend’s wedding in 2015 and found themselves talking about music, and writing songs together. Both were in bands, but were seeking new musical opportunities. Pat’s girlfriend had just broken up with him, and he wanted a new musical outlet to help turn his new heartache into catchy pop songs. The duo soon added Cindy Ward (bass/vocals) and Steve Cerri (drums) and released a self-titled EP (they are currently completing a new album, Growing Pains) and began gigging in the New Jersey area – playing everywhere from people’s basements to the Meat Locker, the legendary rock club in Montclair. While Pat’s romantic lyrics may have dwelled on the sadder affairs of the heart, they’re accompanied by catchy pop hooks and melodic guitars. With a growing regional following, Trü was picked to open for Twin Peaks on Friday 23rd (The show also features The Districts). The Jersey City gig will be by far the largest gig this band has played. The members of Trü to come to White Eagle Hall for a sit-down interview to find out what goes into to making their music and how they feel about the upcoming show, among other things.

Timothy: What is your favorite color and why?

Pat: My favorite color is blue, and honestly it’s because I think it’s because I really liked the Blue Power Ranger as a kid. He had glasses like me, so I just stuck with blue for the rest of my life.

Keith: Good answer.

Timothy: What about you guys?

Cindy: Mine is green.

Timothy: Because?

Cindy: I don’t know. It’s a relaxing color. My birthday is in spring time, so… maybe Saint Patty’s reference there, I don’t know

Timothy: So you’re an Aries.

Cindy: Yes I am, we have the same birthday actually.

Pat: We’re planning another birthday show this year, and that’s like an every year thing.

Timothy: And that birthday might be?

Cindy: March 22.

Timothy: Keith?

Keith: I like sea foam green, only because that’s my favorite color guitar. That is the only reason.

Timothy: Complete this sentence, before the show I must always:

Pat: Drink a beer.

Cindy: Use the bathroom.

Timothy: Any pre show rituals?

Cindy: No, we just jump on stage and go.

Timothy: How about you Keith.

Keith: Definitely the bathroom, definitely tune. I used to take my shoes off, but that doesn’t work all the time, a lot of grimy floors.

Timothy: Complete this sentence, after a show I must always…

Pat: I try and make sure I have conversations with people. Yeah, I go to the merch table, talk to people, something I typically like to say is that, hey, if you want to talk about music, come by the merch table and talk to me. We do this because we love music. I also do things, like, on our Instagram story every Friday, which is New Music Friday now, I just post up stuff that I’m listening to that day, and I encourage people to DM me back.

Cindy: I always, talk to people, the other bands playing.

Steve: Go to the bar… I also have to pack up too, that’s a big one for me.

Keith: Get your stuff it’s a given.

Timothy: Are you afraid that at most of the places you play, people might steal your stuff?

Keith: No, because most of the time I’m afraid I might forget it, but also, yeah, people will take your stuff. Free stuff is hard to pass up.

Timothy: What genre would you categorize Trü’s music?

Pat: I would say we’re just kind of an alternative rock, indie rock band. Without really dicing it up and getting too specific, but I would say just general, catchy indie rock.

Timothy: Is it happy music for sad people? Your Facebook page says “sad music for sad people. “

Keith: I can’t remember which was the first one.

Pat: I think it was… oh, we’re printing it on the shirts… it’s Happy Music for Sad People.

Timothy: What struck me so much about your music is great guitar playing, very melodic songs with poppy hooks. Why is that sad? 

Pat: The subject matter. There were some things I explored kind of lyrically in this new record about a time that I… it was only a couple of months ago, but I was having trouble kind of seeing myself in as an adult. I was a (fulltime) musician for a long time, I toured… that didn’t really go anywhere so kind of where does it go from there? So, I really took a kind of deep dive into where I was feeling through that, wrote some songs about it, wrote some songs about some shitty breakups.

Timothy: Your songs are getting more personal? 

Pat: Yeah. I’d say so. I’d say they’ll be less about breakups and more about, you know, adult things. I’m turning 30 in March. I have a full time job.

Kevin: It’s transitional.

Pat: Transitioning into complete adulthood, needing to be responsible for everything.

Keith: It is easier to write a song about break ups. The next EP we’re doing is called Growing Pains, which is… like the last EP there’s a song, Kristi, which is a happy, upbeat, lovey-dovey song, there’s Hand in Hand, no it’s not sad, is it?

Pat: That’s actually a happy song but it sounds sad.

Keith: I feel that the content of actually getting out of that kiddy stage is a little more expansive. There’s a lot more stuff going on, you really can’t lean on adolescent angst and you kind of have to figure out what your place in the world is going to be, it’s almost a second adolescence.

Timothy: Does that mean Trü is going to have a shorter life span as you become a ‘True Adult’ and put away childish things?

Pat: Well, I hope not. Music has always been the thing that’s there for me when I’m really feeling down. Writing music has always been very therapeutic. So regardless if this turns into something big that we could tour all around and sustain our adult lives with or if we just play shows in New Jersey for our friends and stuff, I’m cool with both.

Timothy: Are your songs an antidote to sadness or are they an expression of sadness?

Pat: I would say they are an expression of sadness but they can be an antidote as well, because I feel that sometimes when you really see eye to eye with a song, when you relate to it, that kind of helps you kind of take that feeling of loneliness out there and you kind of see people having the same kind of issues as you do. Kind of in a ways turns itself into its own antidote.

Timothy: When did you first have your heart broken? 

Pat: First time…

Keith: Now you have to relive it dude.

Pat: Right, I don’t really have a specific (long pause)… a while ago I was with somebody and we were about a week away from signing a lease and moving in together and she said it wasn’t really working and actually that’s where the first song for this band came. I just put that together in my head.

Steve: I was about to say that was not long before this whole Trü thing came up.

Timothy: Where does your name come from?

Pat: I thought of Trü because I thought of all the great design things I can do with a three letter word, merch wise and stuff. I’m very into that. My girlfriend is a really talented graphic designer, so she is pretty much our creative director, and she takes my idea and makes them real, and she’s super confident in creating stuff.

Timothy: She hasn’t broken your heart yet.

Pat: No… and hopefully won’t.

Keith: This could happen too.

Timothy: At least not until you write the new record.

Steve: Exactly. We need her to so we can write a new record.

Timothy: When I was researching the band, all these products and listings came up with the same name. What is the weirdest thing or case of mistaken identity that has happened with your name?

Pat: Bagel Shops.

Timothy: Bagel Shops?

Pat: Lot of things, a line of candles, there’s a bagel shop in Little Falls New Jersey.

Steve: Wasn’t there someone got the wrong thumbnail on Spotify? It was our band and our music

Pat: Oh yeah, Two Chainz has a song, True. He’s a hip hop artist, but it’s True, T-R-U-E. I was trying to remember the Spotify thing, I really liked Two Chainz, but I didn’t even realize it, so I said, yeah, F*** it. There’s so much other stuff.

Keith: In the group chat we have there’s another message every couple of days, like True For Beer.

Timothy: Does this make you want to change the name?

Pat: Our SEO is not the best. We like the name. We kind of branded it with the heart and logo and whatnot, and we are kind of putting that on everything.

Keith: It would feel weird to try and change it now.

Pat: One of my most loathed and hated parts of being in a band is trying to figure out a name because I kind of think they all suck.

Timothy: What records did you listen to growing up?

Steve: I had an uncle who taught me how to use the record player when I was really young. I was really young, so I would listen to… I guess the ones that stand out the most would be Dark Side of the Moon, and I guess Allman Brothers Live at The Fillmore. I remember listening to those records for hours, over and over again and a few Led Zeppelin records that our Uncle gave us… but you know, I can’t give you one record.

Pat: The most formative ones is definitely the Beach Boys, my parents were really big, big Beach Boy fans. And I latched on to that pretty quick,. I was just into the melodies and the whole thing, and I also come from an Italian American family from Jersey, so Frank Sinatra stuff was always being played, and guys like Dean Martin, so I always really enjoyed those records. Actually with Trü I kind of revisited my kind of obsession with the Beach Boys. I actually took my parents to see Brian Wilson when he was doing Pet Sounds. That actually just happened a couple of months ago, but I would definitely say the Beach Boys would be my number one.

Cindy: All that played in my house was the Beatles and Bon Jovi . So didn’t really have a lot to choose from there.

Timothy: Beatles or a Bon Jovi record, which would you play right now?

Cindy: Bon Jovi. Yeah, I’m with my mom on that one.

Keith: Black Sabbath, my dad had a bunch of Black Sabbath records, and if I had to pick one, Black Sabbath 4. 

Timothy: What was the first record you bought?

Cindy: I know mine.

Kevin: What Hits!?, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was a compilation thing.

Timothy: How old?

Keith: 11, probably 10 or 11.

Timothy: Cindy?

Cindy: Spice Girls.

Timothy: How old?

Cindy: Eight maybe.

Pat: It wasn’t the first record I bought, but I was at Best Buy with my family once, and they had a whole stack of CDs that they were getting and I really wanted the Eminem Marshall Mathers record as well as Pennywise Land of the Free and they both were labeled ‘Explicit Content,’ so I snuck them in the stack of my parent’s CDs and they paid for it and I grabbed it. So I didn’t technically buy it but that was the first music I acquired on my own.

Steve: Minor Threat, Complete Discography that I bought at Sam Goody. I had to cross route 46 for it, I was either nine or ten years old. Still one of my favorite records.

Timothy: Sam Goody is long gone. 

Steve: I wanted a job there so bad, but they closed it before I turned 16. They wouldn’t hire me until I turned 16.

Timothy: Cindy, how does it feel to be the only woman in the band?

Cindy: They’re all just wonderful people and I feel that we work together so well I don’t know how it happened, but it’s like the perfect group of humans. I’ve never been in a band where I’m the only girl I guess, so it was different, but it didn’t feel, like, wrong or anything like that. I really enjoy it.

Timothy: I want to go back to the music and your song writing, there seems to be a real focus on melody. How important is melody when you’re writing a song?

Pat: It’s very important to me, I feel that I focus more on the hook and when I feel it’s appealing when you hear it, and then I write the lyrics. I’m still really getting used to writing lyrics on paper and getting my thoughts together and making sure it really sounds good and still serves the song. I still feel my strength is melody and trying to make things catchy and still sound all around good.

Timothy: Are you ready to play White Eagle Hall?

Pat: It is a show like any other night and hopefully they invite us back.

Timothy: You don’t feel intimated?

Pat: No. This is basically the first sold out show we ever played, we might have played other shows, but that was maybe 100 people.

Timothy: It will be eight times that. [White Eagle Hall has a capacity of approximately 800]

Pat: Yeah, no… we’re just ready to bring what we got.

Timothy: You guys feel the same way?

Keith: We’re good. I always get anxious. Hitting notes is one thing, but when there’s 800 people there, it’s another thing.

Timothy: It must be exciting for people to hear you play on this sound system, as opposed to some of the bars you play.

Steve: I’m looking forward to that, being able to hear each other.

Pat: We play a lot of basements, so the sound quality isn’t the best.

Steve: If I can’t hear Keith or I can’t hear Cindy or I can’t hear Pat, it really throws me off. But we play a lot, and before the show I get nervous, but then after it’s like, I got worked up for nothing. But we’ll see, we still haven’t played the show.

Timothy: Last question – what was the last song you hear today – you all drove here, so you must have had the radio on?

Pat: I was actually listening to a Doctor Dog record. I had this hook stuck in my head and I couldn’t figure out what it was and I could swear it was one of their records, and it was, but it took like three albums to figure it out.

Steve: I was actually listening to talk radio, but at work, I was listening to James Booker. I don’t remember the last song, but I was listening to James Booker.

Cindy: I actually didn’t get to listen to music today, believe it or not. I listened to the radio, and I listen to the morning show in the morning, but nothing at work and I was on the phone on the way home, I don’t have anything good.

Timothy: Okay, so maybe not today, but what was the last song you remember hearing that you did not play on purpose.

Cindy: Paramore, when we (the band) went to the coffee shop together.

Timothy: Keith?

Keith: Spanish Bombs by the Clash.

See Trü opening for Twin Peaks (The Districts is also the bill)/Friday Feb. 23/ Doors: 7:00/ Show: 8:00.

Find out more about Trü:  https://ohhhhtru.bandcamp.com

White Eagle Hall Interviews: Christoph Jesus of Crazy & The Brains

 

Black & White photo courtesy of Matt Bernknopf

Jersey City-Based Band Rediscovers the Essence of Punk Rock

By Timothy Herrick

The xylophone may be a unique rock instrument, but for Crazy & The Brains it was essential to the high-energy, textured punk rock the band played from its start. That start was about eight years ago, when band founders, Christoph Jesus and Jeffrey Rubin, were still in high school. As Christoph tells it, they were puttering around and the xylophone just happened to be in the room, and Jeff used it to accompany Jesus’s guitar playing.  Their first gigs were at open mikes at places like the Sidewalk Café and Bowery Poetry Club. The band gradually evolved from a stripped-down, folky take on punk to the full-blown punk ensemble that now includes Brett Maverick on bass/vocals, Ernest Young on guitar and Jon Lango on Drums. Jeffery, who also sings backup, added glockenspiel to his repertoire and Christoph stayed in the spotlight as front man and lead singer, now only occasionally playing guitar in concert. Open mikes soon led to house parties and Jersey City gigs at Groove on Grove, as well as such now shuttered, but memorable venues as The Citizen, the Funhouse and the Lamp Post. By 2012, the band was on its first U.S. tour – they’ve crisscrossed the country on five separate tours, as well as two routes in Canada and a run through Southeastern Europe. Their recordings include: Let Me Go (2013), Good Lord (2014), and The Summer Soiree Mixtape (2017). For 2018, the band will release a new EP – Out In The Weedz – with a full length album to follow entitled, Into The Ugly, both recorded and produced by Pete Steinkopf,  of The Bouncing Souls. Crazy & The Brains will support the releases with a national tour, including a high-profile spot on Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival in Las Vegas on May 27th.

Timothy: What song did you last hear before we talked?

Christoph: What was it… oh, Humble by Kendrick Lamar. It was on the radio. I love that song, it came out last year. I remember its debut on HOT-97. I haven’t heard it in a while.

Timothy: What’s your favorite color? 

Christoph: Green.

Timothy: Why?

Christoph: When I used to rock hair, I used to dye it green.

Timothy: Do you have a Favorite book or writer?

Christoph: Right now I’m reading Mohammed Ali’s autobiography, The Greatest: My Own Story. My favorite poet is probably Saul Williams. I love to read, I always have books that I am sort of working on. I didn’t really read much growing up but now I do. I also like comic books, mainly Marvel, but I also like Spawn. I don’t have an allegiance to one company.

Timothy: What’s your favorite movie?

Christoph: Do the Right Thing, and also Blue is the Warmest Color.

Timothy: Who is Crazy and who is the Brains?

Christoph: People dubbed me as Crazy, and Jeff as the Brains, but Brains expanded to include the rest of the band. Other people decided that, we didn’t really choose. We just picked the name; we didn’t have who was who in mind when we did.

Timothy: What is punk?

Christoph: For me, it is just the freedom of expression, not one specific sound or style or opinion or anything. It also means some sort of resistance to everything that is oppressive, like racism, sexism and homophobia.

Timothy: What city is the most punk and why?

Christoph: New York City for all its changes, still sort of gets that real punk crowd, but that is where punk originated. There’s a bunch of cities in California that have awesome punk ideals. But really, Zagreb Croatia is one of the most punk rock places on the planet. There’s a whole squatter and anarchist community there, it’s an alternative world they live in. They stay in abandoned buildings, and they steal electricity from generators, it’s really a complex, super huge scene. They put on their own punk shows, grow their own food. That was the most punk city we’ve played.

Timothy: Are you rebelling against something and if so what?

Christoph: There’s always something new to rebel against. We’ve started rebelling against punk itself because it’s become to unoriginal and too restrictive. We still follow the punk template, but we put on that template new songs that have new topics. We want the songs to be relatable and authentic.

Timothy:  What topics or themes do you write about?

Christoph: Love songs, a lot of lot of love songs lately.

Timothy: Love songs are not exactly new.

Christoph: No, there’s always been love songs. But our love songs are coming from a place of confusion. I write about vulnerability and rebellion against sexual norms. Our love songs are conflicted, because we don’t fit into the normal role of what a guy is supposed to be. We also write political songs, but that is always sort of an undertone, you are always aware of the struggle, but we don’t have faith in either side, Democratic or Republican. It’s about the struggle, and we’ve kind of never been able to fit into one movement. We subscribe to more radical movements, like the Black Panthers. We do have protest songs, but we’re about living the way you really want to live, not to force anyone to follow any specific rule or guide. Sometimes the songs have an aggressive edge, but my songs come from a more emotional place. We’re trying to figure out things, question things. People can make what they want of the meaning of the songs; it’s the art of interpretation.

Timothy: As the front man, what are you responsible for that the other guys are not and what pisses you off the most about that responsibility?

Christoph:  I’m responsible for sort of keeping the show moving. The other guys in the band, they start bullshitting and telling jokes, and they can spend the whole set telling jokes. We all love to talk, but it’s my job to keep them in line and talk to the audience. Otherwise, our responsibilities are more or less equal.

Timothy: I love your cover of Sweet Jane. You even added some new lyrics of your own. Where you intimated to ‘reimagine’ Sweet Jane?

Christoph: No, not really, outside of the fact the song is an amazing song, it is really easy to make it corny, and we were afraid we would sound like some cheesy barbecue cook out band. We covered it because all the police brutality and shit happening, we decided to do it when there were two or three shootings in a row. We kind of felt emotional, and we wrote a verse, referencing what was going on and that seemed to fit perfectly in that song to  have this new verse. We always listened to the Velvet Underground, we didn’t want to just cover the song, so we added one original verse, and that twist made it cooler than just covering it.

Timothy: You have an impressive knowledge of music. How did you educate yourself in terms of the history of music?

Christoph: We got into music backwards. We first got into the 90s punk, because that was more close to us growing up, bands like Green Day, and Nirvana and Rancid. There was a lot of pop punk we listened to, like Blink 182, which we were aware of. But then we started to work backwards, when you listened to Green Day, you found what was close to them, like the Clash and the Ramones, which then brings you to the Velvet Underground.

Timothy:  What was the first record you bought and how old were you?

Christoph: Busta Rhymes, When Disaster Strikes. I was in the 4th Grade. A friend of my mother’s brought us to the mall and I had to peel off the Parental Advisory label or else she probably wouldn’t have let me buy it.

Timothy: What were your favorite records that your parents owned?

Christoph: My mom had a bunch of Bob Dylan records. I never liked him, I never cared about him, but she finally said just listen to it and if you don’t see why he’s the greatest lyricist, then fine. I really listened and I like the records a lot. We saw Dylan together in 2008, and he was the best. My favorite record is the one with That’s All Right Ma’ on it, is that Bringing It All Back Home?

Timothy: Yes.

Christoph: That’s my favorite, then there’s Blonde on Blonde. My dad had that Meat Loaf album, he played it relentlessly, Bat Out of Hell. I use to hate it, but I wound up seriously liking it.

Timothy:  You’ve listened to and have been influenced by a lot of rap and hip-hop. What rap and/or hip hop artists do you consider the most punk?

Christoph: Almost all the rap I connect with is punk and antiestablishment. Some of the most original rap music is the most punk – NWA, Public Enemy and the Fugees.

Timothy:  How about the reverse of that question, which punk artists do you consider the most rap or hip hop?

Christoph: I don’t know if punk musicians ever quite get rap right, they do try to dabble in that world, like the Beastie Boys. If I had to say one it would be Patti Smith, she’s not a rapper but she is a poet and rap is poetry. There are a lot of connections with what she did and some of the early hip hop if you look in the right places.

Timothy:  What celebrity, or famous non-musician, is the most punk?

Christoph: Whoopi Goldberg. I know that sounds weird, because everybody thinks of her as being on some daytime talk show, but her stand up career and what she stood up for, she’s totally punk rock. Brett actually met her at an art gallery and he said she was one of the nicest famous people he’s ever met, which is also punk rock.

 Timothy:  You’ve crisscrossed the country several times in a van. What’s the weirdest thing that happened in the tour van?

Christoph: A lot of them are pretty disgusting, I do not know if you want to keep body functions out of this or not.

Timothy: I’d rather not hear anything too gross.

Christoph: Good idea. But probably the craziest thing was that we had a few shows cancel and we were running out of money, so we drove 23 hours from California to home, to Jersey City. There weren’t many breaks, we kept switching off driving responsibilities.  Brett had ridiculous sunburn too, he has really fair skin and he had like third degree sunburn. It was insane, but looking back it was fun.

Timothy: So, when you’ve played your last gig of a tour and you drive the van back to New Jersey, who gets dropped off first?

Christoph: That depends, it changes. When we drove back cross country in 23 hours, we dropped Jeff off first. At the time, he was the only one of us with a girlfriend and we were all like, let’s get this kid to his girlfriend. It was an easy call, she needed to see him.

Timothy:  You and Brett sometimes work box office at White Eagle Hall, what impresses you the most about our audiences?

Christoph: They’re super diverse. What I love about Jersey City is the diversity, and I’m very appreciative to playing in front of everybody. That’s what I love the most about the  crowds at White Eagle Hell, they are different, they all come different walks of life, and they are enthusiastic crowds. As a songwriter you want your music to affect all types of people and there’s an awesome mix at all the shows I’ve been to at White Eagle Hall.

Timothy:  What are you most looking forward to about playing white eagle hall?

Christoph: It’s a hometown, show. It’s the first time playing our hometown in such a big place, we are really happy about playing in a huge room. We already know the sound system is awesome. We are really stoked to play that sound system.

This Saturday Crazy & The Brains takes the opening spot for The Defending Champions/  The World / Inferno Friendship Society. Doors open at 7:00pm, Crazy & The Brains come on 8:00pm.

For more information Crazy & The Brains, visit: https://crazyandthebrains.bandcamp.com/music

White Eagle Hall Interviews: Debra Devi

Debra Devi: Electric Guitar Connections

by Timothy Herrick

Debra Devi played acoustic guitar growing up and didn’t plug in until her senior year of college at Madison University in Wisconsin. She blames the delay mainly on her mother, who didn’t think electric guitar was appropriate for a young lady. When she moved to New York soon after graduation, electric guitar was central to her life and there was no going back. Debra answered classified ads for jams and band auditions in the Village Voice, and by the late 1990s was playing and touring in hardcore punk bands. Now a Jersey City resident, she splits her time between writing and making music, her work includes the award-winning book, The Language of the Blues: From Alcorub to Zuzu, her debut album, Get Free and her most recent EP, Wild Little Girl. On Friday, Debra and her band play “Jersey City Rocks White Eagle Hall” on January 19, a show that includes: The Components, Universal Rebel, Hey Anna, Black Wail, as well as DJ Sirena Mercado and MC Constant Flow. As an artist, Debra is the rare rocker comfortable in the worlds of both punk and the blues. On Wild Little Girl, she uses her songs and electric guitar to “connect to the energy women have when they are girls, before they hit puberty and forced into assigned gender roles.”

Timothy: What was the last song you heard before talking to me?

Debra: I was listening to the radio while I was driving and it was the Rhianna song, Work, Work. It’s such a sexy song. I love it.

Timothy: What do you listen to at home? 

Debra: It depends on whether or not I am recording. When I’m recording, I don’t like to listen to another artist because I don’t want to be influenced. When I am not recording, I listen to a lot of electric blues, like Freddy King and B.B. King. I also love great singers like Deniece Williams, Aretha Franklin and Prince.

Timothy: What was the first concert you attended? 

Debra: I was 16, it was the Metropole in Wisconsin. I saw Son Seals and Koko Taylor and I fell in love. It was my first blues show. It was not until I was in college that I got into the Ramones and the Dead Kennedys and punk music.

Timothy: What was the first album you bought?

Debra: I can’t remember the first album I bought, but I really remember buying Never Mind The Bullocks by the Sex Pistols. I loved the cover. I was in college and lived in an apartment with four other girls, and they were all awesome but they loved “girly” music. I remember one was a big Squeeze fan, the new wave band, another was a big Willie Nelson fan. I bought the Sex Pistols and they didn’t like the Sex Pistols and I would have to put on the Sex Pistols when they weren’t home and mosh around the living room alone. I was crazy about that record.

Timothy: What is your earliest musical memory?

Debra: My parents playing records by Oscar Peterson and Thelonious Monk, I remember asking them to play the Monk record three or four times in a row. I remember I couldn’t pronounce his first name.

Timothy: You love both blues and punk. In your opinion, what blues musician is the most punk and what punk musician the most blues?

That’s a tough one. Hubert Sumlin for the blues musician as the most punk. The reason I say that is because he created his own vocabulary on guitar, which everyone draws from, if you look at Johnny Ramone, he had the same approach,  that he was going with these cool licks that nobody was playing before him. For the punk musician who is the most blues, I would go with Billy Zoom from X, because he would just stand there and make incredible sounds. East Bay Ray from the Dead Kennedys was the same way.

Timothy: What is your favorite Wisconsin band?

Debra: Violent Femmes.

Timothy: Do you have a favorite book?

Debra: Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey.

Timothy: Do you have a good luck charm? 

Debra: I have a gris-gris bag, but you are not supposed to say what is in your gris-gris bag. I will tell you one thing that I did put in it, a pecan shell from a pecan tree that is on Little Zion Church in Greenville, Mississippi, where Robert Johnson is supposedly buried. I keep my gris-gris bag in my guitar case and I always bring it with me on tour.

Timothy: What has been your favorite experience as an artist?

Debra: As a live performer, I’ve been lucky enough to perform in a lot of out of the way places, like rural Poland and rural Yugoslavia, and they really respond to music in a fresh and unaffected way. They are not as bombarded with marketing. You get people from all ages, young and old, and they are all so exuberant, and they express themselves in a free ways, like square dancing. I could really see this universal, human reaction to music. We can be so blasé about music, but it’s an amazing experience when music moves you outside yourself, into a higher experience. When I am onstage and feel connected to the audience, I feel it is a spiritual experience. Music has become so commodified in our culture and that created a gulf between audience and player, but the original purpose of music is spiritual.

Timothy: What is your favorite city to play?

Debra: Jersey City!

Timothy: Oh come on, you’re just saying that for this interview.

Debra: I’m not kidding! It’s so diverse. I love the audiences. When I first moved to Jersey City, I went to a party, and there were white people, Latino people, African Americans, everybody partying together. Where I grew up it was super segregated. I played a benefit for Puerto Rico at 660 Studios, and met Constant Flow and he’s going to be the emcee at the White Eagle Hall Show.

Timothy: Do you ever get pre-show jitters?

Debra: I don’t get nervous, but I pretty much shut down and withdraw into myself. I get uptight. People want to talk to me but it’s terrible, I don’t talk to people before the show. But after the show, I’m super gregarious.

Timothy: Do you have any pre-show rituals? 

I warm up my voice. I learned something from Lee Ritenour, the renowned session player.  I met him at the Crown Guitar Festival in Montana, It is very cold there, very chilly at night right before the show. I was afraid that I wouldn’t play well because my hands were so cold. Lee was walking around with his guitar and he  told me that he plays scales right up until the minute he goes on stage, up and down the guitar, ‘that I way I know I’m warmed up,’ he said. Ever since he told me that, and I do the same thing, play scales until I go on stage.

Timothy: Who would play in your ideal super-group?

Debra: Prince on vocals, me on guitar if I am  lucky enough to be part of the group, Ginger Baker on Drums, John Paul Jones on bass.

Timothy: How difficult is it to make a career as a DIY musician today? 

Debra: It is the best of times and the worst of times. It is the best of times in that we can reach more people.  I did a pledge music drive to help me make my new EP, and I couldn’t have done that 10 years ago. You can reach more people than you ever could before through social media. But it is difficult to support a tour, especially when you book yourself. When I was in a punk bank, we would make a CD, sell like a 1,000 CDS to our friends, and make enough to rent a van and go on tour.  Nobody is buying records anymore, nobody is even buying downloads, so the question is what are you going to sell? It is pretty challenging and only a few record labels out there are rising to the occasion.

Timothy: What are you most excited about playing White Eagle Hall?

Debra: The quality of the sound. The room is beautifully tuned and sounds incredible.

 

For More Information on Debra Devi and her music visit www.debradevi.com

 

 

Julien Baker touring with Tancred (BV presale for NJ), did an NPR Tiny Desk

By Andrew Sacher/Brooklyn Vegan 

Julien Baker did tons of touring (with a violinist) in 2017 in support of her Matador debut Turn Out the Lights (our #6 album of 2017), and she’ll continue to stay on the road for much of 2018. She currently has dates through late May, including the Mission Creek Festival, The National’s Homecoming festival, and Boston Calling, and she’ll be touring around those festivals with the Polyvinyl-signed Tancred.

The run with Tancred includes a Jersey City show at White Eagle Hall on April 17. Tickets for that show go on sale Friday (1/12) at 10 AM with a BrooklynVegan presale starting beforehand. Check back here for the password and more info. All dates are listed below.

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The year in Hudson music: New venues brought new energy in 2017

Jim Testa/ Jersey Journal

While the long-awaited opening of White Eagle Hall proved to be the biggest story of 2017, it was a very good year for musicians and fans of live local music in Jersey City, Hoboken and the rest of  Hudson County in many other ways as well.

Even the weather cooperated throughout the summer and into the fall, with a terrific season of Jersey City’s Groove on Grove, outdoor concerts in Hoboken, and a record-setting turnout for The Ghost of Uncle Joe’s, the annual Halloween benefit for the Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery.

Fans enjoyed regular shows at the Fox & Crow in Jersey City Heights, Porta and the Pet Shop Downtown, festivals and special events at Cathedral Hall, and a slew of top-flight live events at WFMU’s Monty Hall in Jersey City.  In Hoboken, Maxwell’s Tavern continued to present local talent along with country and blues nights, with open mics at Finnegan’s and other taverns providing a stage for up-and-coming talent.

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COVERAGE: ATTILA CAUSED ‘CHAOS’ IN NJ W/ FIRE FROM THE GODS & CURRENTS (12/8)

By /  Next Mosh

Two Fridays ago (Dec. 8th), a great show came and rocked Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall. This was Attila’s first stop on a three date tour.

The night opened with great locals, Crunk Punk and Enochian. Their sets both kicked ass and set the stage for what was to come.

The first band to play from the tour, Currents had a great set and played some of my personal favorites such as “Apnea” and “Night Terrors.” Currents just recently released their new album, The Place I Feel Safest, last June via Sharptone Records. It is definitely a release to check out. Don’t sleep on these guys — they’re great

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Photos from Attila at White Eagle Hall

Alex Collins/ NJ Stage

(JERSEY CITY, NJ) — On December 8, Attila headlined an alt-metal lineup at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City that also featured Enochian (from Jersey City), Currents, and Fire From The Gods. Photographer Alex Collins was on hand to shoot the concert.

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The Bouncing Souls rock their true believers at White Eagle Hall

Jim Testa/ NJ Arts

A funny thing happened to all those kids who started punk bands in the ’70s and ’80s. They grew up; the lucky ones even got old. But they didn’t go away, and neither did their fans.

The Bouncing Souls —New Jersey’s preeminent punk band, fast approaching their 30th anniversary — proved that at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall on Saturday night, lighting up a sold-out crowd of 800 fans in their 30s, 40s and 50s. Millennials were as hard to find as cocktail dresses in the throng, which heartily sang along to the Souls’ carousing anthems to unity and revelry in leather, denim, band patches, metal studs and the other regalia of punk rock survivors.

George Rebelo became the third Bouncing Souls drummer in 2013, but the other band members — singer Greg Attonito, bassist Bryan Kienlen, and guitarist Pete Steinkopf — have played together since 1989, when four Jersey teens decided to move to New Brunswick and start a basement band rather than go to college. From endless summers on the Warped Tour to world tours, and through 10 solid albums, the Bouncing Souls have nurtured their optimistic, simply chorded punk songs into a worldwide brand, spawning a T-shirt company, a booking agency and a record label from within their tight-knit community. And their audience became “True Believers” as well (to borrow the title of a favorite song). Fans don’t go to a Bouncing Souls show to watch but to participate, whether in the obligatory mosh pit or just singing along at the top of their lungs.

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Guided by Voices expand tour, playing Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall (tix on BV presale)

 

By Bill Pearis/ Brooklyn Vegan 

Guided by Voices will be in NYC this month as part of a short holiday tour, playing a sold-out show at The Bell House on December 15. The band will be back on tour in the spring, and the only announced show as of now is at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall on April 18. You can get tickets right now for that show with the BrooklynVegan presale that runs till midnight tonight. Use password GuidedByVegan

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Spotlights: Yissy Garcia, Attila, & More!

Debra Kate Schafer/ The Aquarian

Don’t Miss YISSY & Bandancha in NYC
You might not know her now, but I can bet that you will soon. Cuban composer and drummer, Yissy García, and her band are taking traditional Cuban music and intertwining it with elements of blues, jazz, hip-hop, and more, to create songs that will blow you away. Don’t just take my word for it, take Cubadisco’s word for it. Her ensemble won the award for Best New Artist at the Cubadisco Festival (Cuba’s version of the Grammys). YISSY & Bandancha are doing a six-show U.S. tour, of which New York City is lucky to be included in. Catch the performance at SOBs on Dec. 8.

 

Planned Parenthood Benefit Comes to Brooklyn
With a new album featuring an orchestra being announced earlier this month, renowned guitarist Kaki King is doing exceptionally well. Although, not just for herself, but for the world — specifically New York City. Kaki King is partnering with Amy Rigby and the B-52’s Cindy Wilson to raise money for Planned Parenthood NYC on Dec. 6th at The Bell House. For more information about this critical benefit concert, visit ticketfly.com. To donate to Planned Parenthood, visit plannedparenthood.org.

 

Attila Is Ready to Rock in Jersey City
Metal fans, get ready to mosh! These Atlanta natives are ready to bring their high energy, and even higher volume, show to White Eagle Hall. The loud, unpredictable, incredibly talented alt-metal group Attila are fresh off Warped Tour 2017 and excited to headline this wild, can’t-miss metalcore show on Dec. 8. Not to mention that they will be performing alongside other hardcore rockers, such as Fire From The Gods, Currents, and from the local metal scene: Enochian.

 

 

Felice Brothers Bring Rootsy Folk Rock & Americana Romanticism at White Eagle Hall

/ Broadway World

Formed in 2006, the Felice Brothers are a Hudson Valley, New York-based folk rock ensemble hailed by the AV Club for a sound at once “timeless, yet tossed-off.” The band started husking in the subways, and went from playing subway stations and Brooklyn Apartments to high-profile gigs, such as Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble in Woodstock, and festivals, including: Mountain Jam, Clearwater Festival, Bonnaroo, Philadelphia Folk Festival and the All Points West Music & Arts Festival.

They’ve released plenty of music over the past decade, often on their own without a record company, but the new, self-produced album – released by the venerable roots-music label Yep Roc – Life in the Dark was recorded in a garage on an upstate New York farm, observed only by audience of poultry. “The recording is definitely rough around the edges,” says James Felice (who engineered the recording and contributed accordion, keyboards and vocals). “It was liberating and really cool to do. It allowed us to untether ourselves from anything and just make music.”

Because of makeshift studio set-up, the music they made was necessarily stripped down, emphasizing acoustic instruments and spacious arrangements on songs that showcase the sound of a band playing together live, with echoes in the music of Woody Guthrie, Townes Van Zandt and John Prine. “We tried to make it as simple and folk-based as possible, because we were working with limited resources,” says Ian Felice, singer and guitarist. “We wanted to take all the frills out and make it just meat and potatoes.”

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Jersey Devil Halloween 10/31/17

Frank Iero & The Patience

White Eagle Hall Presents Ripe

NJ Stage

(JERSEY CITY, NJ) — White Eagle Hall invites audiences to get loose, get down, and get ready with Ripe –the seven-piece, Boston funk/pop  phenomenon known for their unstoppable grooves, horn heavy hooks and dance-inducing songs on Friday, December 15 at 8:00pm. Okey Dokey and Late Night Episode are openers.

For their only New Jersey show on their current tour, Ripe’s irresistible sound is guaranteed to get the party started at the newly renovated, historic concert venue in Jersey City. Made up of musical soulmates who first teamed up when they were all still Berklee School of Music students, Ripe is a musical collective that refuses to believe in a single definition of dance music.

Ripe uses the “swagger of funk filtered through a rock anthem, a musical journey that somehow gets as stuck in your head as your favorite pop banger,” according to their official biography.  

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NJ’s Trophy Scars celebrate 15th anniversary at White Eagle Hall

Fifteen years marks a major milestone in any endeavor, but it’s practically an eternity for a local band, especially one that’s never had the support of an established record label or even much media buzz. Yet somehow, Morristown’s Trophy Scars have managed to survive a decade and a half of shows, tours, member changes, and recordings and will celebrate their 15th anniversary at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall on Saturday, Nov. 4.

Singer Jerry Jones, guitarist John Ferrara and drummer Brian Ferrara started playing together in Trophy Scars in June of 2002, when bands like the Early November, Thursday, and My Chemical Romance ruled New Jersey’s nascent post-hardcore and emo scene. The addition of Andy Farrell on bass solidified the lineup, and the band found a home in the Garden State’s teeming pre-Internet all-ages underground of the era.

“It’s been quite a ride,” Ferrara said, “longer than most marriages really. We were never really a band with an agenda or a goal, we just did whatever we wanted and never really cared about the future.”

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Stop, Drop, and Crawl – A First Responder Themed Bar Crawl Takes Over Jersey City

 

NJ Stage

(JERSEY CITY, NJ) –Why settle for rocking around the Christmas tree this holiday season when you can party with the Jersey City Fire Department and rock around downtown Jersey City instead? Stop, Drop, and Crawl – A First Responder Themed bar Crawl – takes place in downtown Jersey City on December 2 at 3:00pm, culminating in a show by hometown rockers, MoTHER, at White Eagle Hall at 8:00pm. Portions of all ticket sales will go to the Jersey City Fire Department Holiday Toy Drive. Ticket holders are requested to bring new toys that be collected at White Eagle Hall. The event also features giveaways, raffles, drink specials and other prizes.

For more than 20 years, the JCFD has sponsored a very successful toy drive during the holiday season, an event started by Jersey City fire Capt. Mark V. Lee, who passed away in 2014. The firefighters have continued this tradition of giving in his honor, but this year has added a hefty pour of Rock & Roll. The 2017 Toy Drive – which is also the unofficial JCFD Holiday Party –features a Holiday Pub Crawl that culminates with a Rock Concert at White Eagle Hall, headlined by MoTHER, a hard rock band now on the Flextone Records label. MoTHER has toured extensively receiving critical acclaim and a growing fan-base. MoTHER has played with Slash, Pop Evil, Godsmack, and Red Sun Rising and opened for Buckcherry at White Eagle Hall in July.  They will be joined on the bill by Ten Ton Mojo and a special appearance by FDJC Emerald Society Pipes & Drums.

MoTHER – a powerhouse hard rock ensemble with bluesy grooves and heavy guitar-driven riffs – features front-man Nick Fargo, guitarist Mike Gowen, bassist Jaron Gulino and drummer Dan Traglia and has a unique Jersey City connection. Fargo is also a Jersey City firefighter, and the band enjoys a die-hard following among Hudson County residents, especially our first responders. It was his idea to expand the Toy Drive to not just include music, but the entire community, both natives and newcomers.

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Legendary Gary Numan to Play White Eagle Hall This December

/Broadway World NJ

Gary Numan, the electro and Industrial music pioneer plays White Eagle Hall, December 5th.

Some three decades ago, many claim Numan changed the sound of popular music forever in an appearance on Saturday Night Live when he performed the breakout ‘new wave’ hit Cars and Praying To The Aliens to an audience of 40 million.

Often considered a musician’s musician, Numan’s influence has been recognized by a diverse array of the world’s greatest artists-from Prince to Lady Gaga, Jack White to Kanye West; Beck to Queens Of The Stone Age, and The Foo Fighters to Nine Inch Nails. Numan has joined Nine Inch Nails – who famously cover Cars in concert – on tours at the personal invitation of Trent Reznor. “I was always impressed by the way Gary Numan found his own voice-and it was unusual-but it was unmistakably him and boldly him,” said Reznor. “I see me doing what I learned from him.”

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Ho99o9 Brings Grindhouse Blend of Rap & Punk to White Eagle Hall

New Jersey Stage 

(JERSEY CITY, NJ) — In their last state-side show before kicking off a major European tour,  the hip-hop phenomenon Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror and also known as HO99O9 DEATH KULT) plays White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on Wednesday, November 22 at 9:00pm.  Opening the night is Pink Mass, GDP, and The Bennys.

Ho99o9  songs feature apolitical and dystopian horror imagery, combining dark experimental hip-hop with the aggression of hardcore punk. The White Eagle Hall gig is a homecoming of sorts for Ho99o9. The group was founded in New Jersey by  theOGM, who grew up in Elizabeth and Linden, and Eaddy – raised in Newark and Union. But to find success they headed west. The duo relocated to Los Angeles in 2014, where a series of incendiary performances attracted an enthusiastic cult-following and the notice of critics, who raved about their blending of diverse musical genres. LA Weekly to declare: “Their music features noise and rap, but their anti-establishment, post-conformist ethos is 100 percent punk rock.”

Rolling Stone named Ho99o9 as one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know” and The Guardian named Ho99o9 as “New Band of the Week.” The band also performed at the Afropunk Festival and the SXSW Music Festival, a show described by Jon Pareles of the New York Times as “… at SXSW, Ho99o9 was a welcome charge of adrenaline.”

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Attila Leads Metalcore Lineup at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City

New Jersey Stage

(JERSEY CITY, NJ) — Fresh off a featured spot in the 2017 Warped Tour Line up, the masters of metalcore, Attila will play a more intimate venue when they headline a not-to-be missed, alt-metal lineup at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City on December 8 at 7:30pm.

“We are extremely excited to be coming to the White Eagle Hall in December,” says Chris “Fronz” Fronzak. “Some of our wildest moments as a band have happened in Jersey and we except this to be equally as wild.”

Fronz founded Attila in 2005 in his hometown of Atlanta. From the beginning, Attila – high in energy & volume –combined two gritty yet essential ingredients: the “biscuits” of Southern-fried metal like Pantera and the “gravy” of hip-hop like Lil Jon. Since 2010, Attila had earned a well-deserved reputation for their often controversial, take-no-prisoners hard rock. Chaos, their most recent album, reached #30 on Billboards Top Rock Albums (2016).

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Top 5 shows of the weekend

BY

Greetings! While certain events this week have painted a rather sombre reality on a time that usually brings the city together with so much fun and creativity, we have to press on and do our best with our time here. Concentrating on better news, the city finally repealed the 91-year-old cabaret law so not only can you spend time enjoying some great shows this weekend, you can even dance legally…

5) Grizzly Bear at Brooklyn Steel
Say what you want about Grizzly Bear, they have put on two of the best shows I have ever seen (at the Roundhouse in London in 2010 and Radio City in 2012), and while their first album in five years, Painted Ruins, hasn’t quite won me over, it could just be one of those albums that make more sense after you’ve seen the songs live, especially with their near perfect vocal harmonies. The band play three nights at Brooklyn Steel (Thursday – Saturday) and at the time of writing, the only show you can still get tickets for is Friday. As always though, there may be some tickets released day-of so pay attention if you haven’t gotten what you want already. Thursday, Friday, Saturday 8pm

4) Chris Gethard at Knitting Factory Brooklyn
We’re making a comedy-interlude at #4 this week with the record release show of Chris’ comedy record, Career Suicide, tackling subjects like depression and mental illness and wondering why we can’t find honest, brutal, but hopeful ways of dealing with them. Friday 8:30pm

3) Waxahatchee, Ought at White Eagle Hall
Bear with me here because I’m suggesting you trek out to Jersey City, but the journey on the PATH train will be more than worth it for two exceptional acts. Waxahatchee released fourth record, Out in the Storm back in July, and it’s most likely the strongest of them all. One band you should see every chance you get is Montreal’s Ought, whose last album was the mesmerising Sun Coming Down from 2015 and I haven’t seen a band who can pull off repetition so well in perhaps decades. The band have just signed to Merge Records, which seems like a great fit. Ought are also playing at Silent Barn on Saturday but that show is understandably sold out, however, the two acts combined on this bill are hard to best. Sunday 7pm

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