Michael Ciccia from Mandroid Echostar

This is an interview with Mike from Mandroid Echostar. We met these dudes, and instantly became friends, not only because they are all incredibly good looking men, and I secretly wanted to play with Mike’s hair all night, but also because they are the nicest dudes, and a killer band. I’ve been absolutely blown away by about ten bands in my entire life, and these guys are one of them. If you know me, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will see me talking a bout these guys all the time. I could write about them forever….but I won’t. Here’s Mike:

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1- Let’s begin with basics, who are you, and what is your role in Mandroid Echostar?

-I am Michael Ciccia and I am the vocalist of Mandroid Echostar

2- Who are the rest of the folks in your band?

-We have the Richards brothers, Steve who plays guitar and Adam who plays bass. Sam Pattison who plays guitar, James Krul who plays guitar and keyboards and Matt H-K who plays the drums. We have far too many people in this band hahaha.

3- How did Mandroid come together as a band?

-Oh, well that is a long story, but I will try and give you the Coles Notes of it from what I remember. Being the last member to join I got my facts secondhand. Matt’s band (The Karma Cure) had broken up and he was trying out for another band that Sam happened to be filling in on guitar for. Adam was a good friend of Matt’s and was driving him to the tryouts and just hanging out. The three of them really hit it off and decided that they were just going to form their own band and start writing. Over the next year or so they recruited Adams older brother Steve who was also a former member of The Karma Cure to play guitar on their new venture. Time went on and they tried out a few screamers and they just did not pan out. That is when they called up James who was fresh off a years travel in New Zealand to try out on vocals and play 3rd guitar and keys. James then realized he was not the best fit to be the lead vocalist of the band but stayed on to be the ever so important auxiliary man in the band. I happen to be jamming in a cover band with Sam at the time and one night he asked me if I wanted to tryout for Mandroid. I was scared shitless, but I did it anyway and I couldn’t be happier. I am sure I messed up some details or forgot something really important, but thats close I think.

4- Can you explain the origin of your band name? I’m actually really surprised I haven’t asked you this before.

-Well… essentially the band name has been set in stone since adam was about 14 years old. When he was in highschool him and his friends went on some interesting adventures (so I am told) and they wanted to write about it. But they did not want to use their real names so they made up aliases. A friend of Adam’s came up with Mandroid Echostar and Adam fell in love with it and asked him if he could use it as a band name. When the time came to name this band there was really no discussion about it. Being sci-fi nerds (as most of the band is) it just fit. It is serious but still kind of funny, which essentially captures the essence of this band. I will also note that I was not in the band when they named it, if I was I would have probably fought for some cheesy emo name that no one would like. I am glad they went with Mandroid.

5-Up to this point in your career, what has been the most satisfying show you have played? You guys have only played two up to this point, and I’ve been at both and you destroyed both, so actually let me rephrase this question. How did you feel when your first hometown show was sold out?

-Well thank you sir, you are too kind. Playing to a sold out crowd when you are playing in your hometown is an incredible feeling. We were not expecting that at all. Pre-sale tickets were sold out days before the show and the 50 tickets at the door were sold out in 10 minutes. It was insane!!! That brought up the pressure meter for sure. But once we hit that stage and people were going crazy and singing every word to our songs, words can’t even describe that feeling. It was the greatest show I have ever played with any band. And seeing your handsome face when I looked out into the crowd made it that much better!

6- Every band has it struggles, has their ever been a point where you/the band were ready to ‘throw in the towel’, or you felt you couldn’t handle it anymore?

-As a band I really don’t think there has ever been a time where we wanted to pack it in. We all feel so passionate about what we are doing and love it so deeply that it is not even an option. Me personally though, when I first joined the band I got really overwhelmed and didn’t think I could hold my own in this band and I was ready to quit. Then one night I watched “Beyond the Lighted Stage” the RUSH documentary and my eyes were opened and I knew I had to do this. I still don’t know what exactly clicked that night, but I am very glad it did.

7- If you could pick one song out of your catalogue, which would be the one your are most proud of? Lyrically, musically or other.

-That is a tough call because I really love all of our songs. I know it is super cliche, but I don’t give a shit! hahaha If I had to choose one though I would pick “The Precursor” simply for the fact that it is the song I had the most creative input with from the EP. It was the first song that we all wrote as a collective and it gave us a good understanding of what we are all capable of. It gets me excited for future writing sessions.

8- You guys run some intense gear, which is a bit different than a lot of bands. Has there been any issues with the way you guys set up?

-With the amount of gear and the gear we run there is a lot of things that can go wrong. It makes me nervous every time we set up. Our first show was basically a dress rehearsal for us to see how fast and efficient we could set everything up. We had a few issues with in-ear monitors not being loud enough and Matt losing the click track. He also lost a beater from his kick pedal mid song and had to go searching for a screw on his hands and knees in the dark and I had no idea. So when I looked back I couldn’t see anyone at the kit and I kind of panicked a little bit. But he popped back up, we powered through and the rest of the set went great.

9- The scene is incredibly tight knit, what bands do you go for advice or feedback?

-We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by great bands that have been touring for years and know the industry a hell of a lot better then we do. We are very good friends with the guys from Farewell to Freeway and Wakeless (ex-Arise and Ruin) and they are all extremely helpful with any questions we have (which is all the time). We all jam in the same building and we are all like a little music family. They are all amazing dudes and we are super lucky to have them as friends.

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10- Your first e.p., which is self titled is obviously somewhat of an concept. Can you explain a bit of the story behind it?

-The concept is Matt’s brainchild and I don’t think I would do it proper justice if I explained it so I made him answer this question for me. Here it is: “The Ep’s story is kind of a speculative fiction about the past, present and future of earth and humanity. It’s a metaphorical take on where we are from and where we are headed as a species. We wanted to present our story in a vague way so that people can take their own ideas and messages from the lyrics, making the concept a little different and personal for everyone.” -Matt H-K 

11- Your songs are incredibly complex. How do they come together?

-When I first joined the band they had 11 or 12 songs already written and roughly recorded. The songs were definitely a lot heavier before I joined because they were writing with the intentions of having a screamer front the band as opposed to clean vocals. After many band practices and long nights of trying to find the right vocal melodies to go over the existing tracks we decided to change up the songs and make them more vocal friendly. We essentially went through and gave some of the songs a facelift. Adding parts, extending parts, getting rid of parts entirely. We made all of our influences and styles blend together as opposed to trying to force them into each other. Now that we are writing more as a band, the guys will bring in riffs or full songs and we will sit around, jam them out and pick them apart until each and every one of us loves what we are playing. It is a long process, but we know that everyone will be proud to perform and record every song we write.

12- You guys kind of came together as a band over almost 2 years. What was the dynamic when you joined, as the last member of the band.

-When I joined I was the 3rd or 4th singer to give vocals a try for the band. I feel like they were really frustrated with vocals at the time because they had these amazing songs and all the talent in the world but they were being held back because they were lacking a frontman. They were just eager to get their music out there and play, but they also didn’t want to just settle on anyone who walked through the door. If you heard what the band sounded like before I joined you would notice quite a bit of change in the style of music. There are some parts that have not changed at all and other parts that have turned a huge 180. We still took a while for our EP to come out, but to us it was worth it.

13- Growing up, I think every musician, myself included, had that one band that they wanted to be. What was yours?

-There are so many bands that I would have loved to be in. I just love so many genres of music that I want to sing it all. But since I have to pick, to be brutally honest I would have loved to be in any hair metal band from the 80’s. I love that shit! I know it may not be the greatest music in the world, but those guys looked like they were having a blast and not giving a shit. Anytime it is socially acceptable for me to wear a catsuit and use extra hairspray I am in! Either that or Boyz II Men. I would love to sing some sweet, sweet love songs and hand out roses to pretty girls.

14- How do your lyrics come together, is it a collaboration between you and other members?

-Actually our drummer Matt writes almost all of our lyrics. When I joined the band and talked about writing styles, I warned them right off the bat that I write lyrics about girls, breakups and cheesy shit. Not really what they were going for apparently hahaha. Matt is amazing with lyrics and has an incredible mind with that kind of thing so we let him take the reigns on that one. James and I put our 2 cents in for some lyrics and I think on the full length there will be a lot more of a collaboration. James is another amazing wordsmith, so I am very excited to see what we can all come up with.

15- Merchandising is really big in music, you obviously have to have cool things that kids want to buy. If you could have one piece of ”dream merch” that you think kids would be into buying with your name on it, what would it be?

-I think my ultimate goal would be to have our own guitar line. It would be amazing to have a guitar with our name on it with some crazy colours and extremely detailed inlays (I love fancy inlays). I don’t know if that is something we could have on our merch table though. I would also like a letterman Jacket with Mandroid on it. I just think they look badass, and when you got embroidered jackets with your band name on it you know you are legit.

16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?

-We are all extreme lovers of food. James and I can actually sit on the couch in our jam hall and talk about food for hours and hours. It is actually quite sad. But seeing how we are extremely broke, we tend to eat pizza all the time. Pizza is quite possibly the greatest food ever created. You can never go wrong. So before a show you will likely see us eating a bunch of Hot and Readys from Little Caesars because they are cheap as hell and delicious. If we are feeling extra fancy we may even get some crazy bread. Extra marinara sauce!

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17- Being in a band, I know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling ring for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be?

-That is really an unfair question. Everybody in the band is about 110 pounds soaking wet and I am just so much bigger then all of them. It would just be unfair to fight any of them. We also just love each other too much to fight. We just yell at each other a lot. Thats how we solve our problems.

18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?

-We have only played a couple of shows, so we haven’t really done anything exciting. We usually just grab something to eat, set up our merch, try and get our gear as close to stage ready as we can and just sit around and have plenty of useless and absolutely ridiculous conversations with each other. We also like to hangout and chat with all of the other bands playing that night. You can make some pretty awesome new friends that way! (*wink wink* I am talking about you Mr. Aaron Barry)

19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In Mandroid, who’s the dad, mom, etc.

-Since I am the oldest in the band I definitely take on the dad role. I am a bit of a control freak and I like to oversee everything that is going on with the band. I handle the money and most of the business activities. I also take care of the media stuff with my sidekick and mother figure Matt H-K. We share a lot of the duties in the band him and I, but we like it that way. Sam, James, Steve and Adam are definitely the kids! Adam and Steve are brothers in real life so they get at each others throats sometimes and James has been friends with both of them forever so they all get into it sometimes. And Sam, well Sam is the most easy going laid back dude I have ever met. He is kind of like the chilled out older brother. Mandroid is very much like a family and it is awesome to be a part of something like that.

20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?

-I would say we are a mix between Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory (James will be pissed I said that because we had an hour long discussion about how much he hates The Big Bang Theory Last night). The reason is that we are a bunch of geeks that talk about a lot of nerdy things and look up weird facts and just discuss strange things. We get pretty deep sometimes. But there are also other times, many other times, that we talk abut random, useless, everyday mundane things for hours on end for no good reason, like Seinfeld. If nothing else we can entertain the shit out of each other on a daily basis.

 

These guys are no bullshit.

Aaron’s Bottom Ten Tips For Young Bands

Well, I posted my top ten tips….and now here is my bottom ten. They may be the bottom tips, but trust me, they are still very important…in my opinion at least. And you know,the internet is all about opinions…and I feel like sharing mine. We went over basic band etiquette with the top ten tips, now let’s divulge a little more.

1-Bands…guitar players and bass players especially: own a tuner. I have seen this so many times before, band goes up, and I look onstage and notice no floor or rack tuner. Hmm, I say, interesting, well maybe he has a small tuner perched up on his amp. No…no, they are going to play an entire set without tuning their guitar once. I hate to break it to you, but because of the nature of a guitar…it probably won’t stay in tune an entire set. I have a really nice guitar and it barely stays in tune for two songs. Do yourself a favour. Invest in a decent tuner for stage.

2-Modern music exasperates me. If you know me, you’ll know I’m pretty much stuck in the late 90’s and early to mid 2000s. Writing a song that is a 4 minute breakdown is cool and all, but, you know, don’t forget about melody, a super catchy chorus… play in A and chugging that open chord is cool for a minute, but make sure there is more to that in a song.

3-I’ve seen bands do covers…a lot. If your band sounds like…Alexisonfire perhaps…do not cover Alexisonfire. Change it up. In my opinion covers shouldn’t be played verbatim…unless you are a cover band. Switch it up, and make it your own!

4-While I’m on the topic of covers, how many covers do you play in your set? If it’s more than 2, and you aren’t a cover band, maybe rethink what you’re doing.If your set consists of 4 originals and 3 covers, maybe you need to take sometime off, and sit down and write some more original songs. I don’t think the amount of covers you play should be close to the amount of originals you play, it should be a 5 to 1 ratio. Also….never cover a song by the band you are opening for. I’ve seen it done. Not a good idea.

5-Songs in general…never play a song before you are ready to play. I’ve also seen bands say ”hey we wrote this song two days ago, and we’re going to try to play it for you tonight’. That rarely goes well (although I’ve seen it pulled off), but it usually ends in a train wreck, which makes your band look..well, not good.

6-If you have a set time that is 30 minutes, don’t play for 40. It’s way better to play for minutes shorter than it is for 5 longer. It keeps the show running smooth, the other bands happy, as well as the sound guy and promoter. Time your set out. If you don’t know how long it is, time it one practice, top to bottom. Keep it within the time you’re given. Don’t be the band that people are waiting for to get off the stage…

7-I know I will take flack for this, but don’t tell kids to beat the hell out of each other in a mosh pit. I personally don’t get it.Back in the olden days, mosh was jumping up and down….not karate kicking the shit out of the other kids. Don’t encourage it….unless you’re br00tal, then do what you want, d00dz.

8-Talk to kids. This kind of goes with the bailing after you play, brought up in the first 10 tips. Hanging outside the entire night after you play, leaving or not acknowledging people who watched your band is no good. Set up a table for kids to come see you at, even if you don’t have merch! Be friendly. The kids that hug and hi five you are the ones who are gonna tell their friends about you!

9-Don’t bash the other bands you’re on the bill with. Once again, I’ve seen it done, in fact I’ve seen it done from bands while they are on stage with a mic in their hands. That is the lowest stupidest thing to do. Also bashing the promoter isn’t cool, and yes, I’ve seen it done as well.

10-Have fun. Being in a band is a serious thing, but it’s also supposed to be a ton of fun. Don’t mope around a venue before/after your set. Hang out, get wild, if you’re over 19 get a silly beverage from the bar, hang out with fans, explore a city. Don’t sit in your van getting high and drunk until your set time comes.

Do what you love, and love what you do!

-A

Aaron’s Top Ten Tips For Young Bands.

No, this isn’t an interview.

Yes, I can write whatever I want.

You know, I’ve been in and out of bands for close to ten years now. I’ve seen bands come and go, and the only thing that never changes, is there is always a handful of bands that don’t have their shit together. I take a lot fo pride in all this stuff. Anu Beginning may not be the best band around, musically or whatever, but we have heard from more than one promoter, and tons of bands, that we are pretty nice dudes…and have our shit in order, and I take a lot of pride in that. I feel a lot of this has to do why we get shows all over, and get asked back to venues by promoters and bookers. Here are my top ten tips to ensure that you get asked to play more shows…possibly…as long as your band totally doesn’t suck. Let’s begin.

1-Perhaps the most obvious, but so many bands can’t wrap their heads around it. Show up on time. If the promoter/ booker says load in is at 5, be there at 5. In fact, be there at 4:55. And if you are going to be later, tell them ahead of time. Never, ever ever, be the band who rolls in 20 minutes before they play. Bad karma.

2-Now you’ve loaded in, and here is Aaron’s second tip. Do not take over 3/4’s of the ”gear zone” to set up your drums, amps, guitars, etc. Consolidate your gear so other bands have room. It’s a bro move, everyone needs space to set up. Once you set your gear up, crunch it in, and put it all together. DRUMMERS, once your drums are set up, there is no need to play them until you load on stage.

3-This one happens often, especially in younger bands. Do not show up with non working/crappy gear. If you are ready to play shows, make sure your gear is too. So many times we’ve lent out guitar heads, cables, tuners, mics…even a guitar. If you need to borrow something make the arrangements prior to the show. Do not ask while your band is loading on stage. We are pretty nice, and 9 times out of 10 we will say yes, but some bands won’t. Borrowing someone’s $1500 guitar is risky, and not a lot of dudes will lend you one because your input jack doesn’t work, or you have a bum pickup. Also, cables are like $20. Make sure yours work.

4-Now you’re getting ready to load on stage for your set. Do it…quickly. We have a ton of gear, but we can load on, and be set up and ready to go in under ten minutes, and if the sound man is on his game, we can squeeze a soundcheck in there! If your band takes 20 minutes or more to get on stage, set up and ready, you’ve got a situation. Unless you are headlining, that usually doesn’t fly. When you’re loading on, that isn’t time to tune your drums, string your guitar etc. That time becomes work time.

5-Now you’re playing your set. Here is were a ton of bands, in my opinion lose points. Have a set list. Or at least a good idea of the order of songs. Asking the other dudes in your band ”What are we playing next”, while holding a microphone in your face, honestly, it makes you look so unprofessional. Have decent stage banter. Have a semi cohesive set planned out. I’ve seen so many bands that their set falls apart because of these things.

6-Now you’re done your set. Get the hell off the stage, because the next band wants on. Unless you are the last band of the night, the stage is not the place to (1) wrap cables, (2) put your guitars in the cases (3) even worse, put your drums in their cases (4) take every cymbal off the stands and put them away (5) leave all your gear on the stage and talk to your friends in the audience etc etc. When you are done, get off the stage. Always remember how anxious you were to get on when the band before you was finished.

7-This is out of order, but soundcheck. When the sound man asks to hear, the drums for example, if you are the guitar player, shut up. Don’t riff some sweet chords…because that’s annoying as shit. When he calls ”stage left”, that’s your time to rip ‘Smoke on the Water’. The sound guy is there all night, fatiguing his ears trying to make you sound good. Do him a favour and make his job as easy as possible.

8-You’re done your set. NEVER EVER EVER EVER bail. If you are the opening band (unless you have a good excuse) always always always stay until the last band played. It’s a respect thing. Bands that pack up their gear as soon as they’re done, and then take off with the friends they brought, and don’t come back….. that’s no good. You got the opportunity to open for a band, that is obviously a bigger name than your own. Respect that, and pay your respect and dues to them.

9-This one seems obvious, but, support your scene. Go to shows that your band isn’t playing. If you support your scene it will support you. Get to know the other bands around you in your city. They will be the ones to hep you out. We wouldn’t be anywhere if we weren’t friends with so many sweet bands.

10-Most important. Do not be a premadonna. Never think your band is ”to good to be on a bill” or think you ”deserve” anything. I’ve seen/ played with a lot of bands, young bands, that walked around like the scene owed them something…when they really have never done anything for the scene. If you are in a band, you owe your fans everything, they owe you nothing, the scene owes you nothing. Don’t walk around acting like it does.

And those are my tips. Happy rocking, friends. 

-A

Dan Berry from Berry Photography

You’ve seen him at shows. He sticks out because, well he’s 20+ years older than your average metal show goer, but you know he’s really helping out the scene. Dan Berry is a photographer that I have seen at tons of shows in and around London. This is Dan from Berry Photography.

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1-Who are you, and what do you do in the London music scene?
2-What inspired you to begin taking photos of bands and concerts?
3-The obvious bigger question, is, how does a guy, who’s age is significantly older than the average concert goer end up at shows?
4-What is it about metal and heavier music that you connect with?

-I am gonna answer 1-4 All at once

2 word answer = Music Freak

Long answer…I have been a music nut since I was 12 when I bought my first stereo…and upgraded it a year later. I graduated college for Radio but didn’t like the egos or the fact it wasn’t freeform musically so I started working at record stores and managed all kinds in Toronto. Free tickets for 8 years and I saw a ton of bands. In college (1978) I was in the pit for the Clash, The Jam, The Pistols, U2, Iggy Pop, The Police and many more. I then graduated to larger venues for The Stones, The Who, Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Neil Young etc. Free Tickets don’t pay the bills so I moved to the electronics industry and have been there ever since. (I am 53 if you aren’t good with math). Got married, kid (Jamison…Music freak too), house yadda yadda. Jamison was about 13 when he wanted to go to an all ages show so I piled a bunch of kids in and hit the pit. The feeling of leaning on a bin and having sound radiate your body was the same. I felt at home again…and young! Since that night I have been to hundreds of shows and have taken 1000’s of pictures. The only way I could stay in the pit without looking like an idiot was to get a camera. It turns out I am pretty good at it and it is my way of supporting the scene. I love shooting local bands and having them use my shots in their marketing. Just ask and I will be happy to do it for them. It is a great rush to see locals get better every time I see them.

Now is probably a good time to throw in that I don’t really listen to Metal…I just love it live. My son Jamison is my source for metal and new music genres. I like all music… I have seen Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Pat Metheny, Al Dimeola, Arti Shaw and on and on. I go through phases, Jazz, Big Band, Bluegrass, you name it, I like it (country and classical not so much…but I highly respect it )

5-In your time as a photographer, what has been some of the wildest concerts you’ve had the chance to take pictures at?

-The Chariot are always a treat…Letlive/Enter Shikari would probably be my favorite show, Devil Wears Prada/Enter Shikari/ Whitechapel was probably my best shooting night (pit pass in TO) Dillinger Escape and Parkway Drive should be mentioned as well.

Not being a photographer?…Springsteen playing for 4 1/2 hours, U2 at the El Macombo (they were 17), Whitney Houston in a bar, Stevie Ray Vaughn at the Elmo would be up there.

6-Being perched side stage, or to the side of a pit, you often get a better view of what’s going on. What are some of the crazier things you’ve seen happen at shows?

-GWAR won that award hands down the other night. Face plants, stage dives, idiot bouncers, crowd surfing are all pretty normal now. Probably the best thing is watching fans faces as they are “rockin out” is the best. You would see that too.

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7-Have you injured yourself, or any gear at shows?

-Pretty un eventful in that way.. a few elbows to the ribs and the like but not much. I must say I respect the respect I do get. (Plus I look like a cop)

8-How do bands react, usually, when they see you at shows? I remember the first time I saw you taking photos at a show, and I just assumed it was someones dad, and then I saw your catalogue of bands you’ve photographed and was blown away, and thought this is obviously not just a dad at a show.
-It’s interesting. Many times they are more curious of me than I am of them. They think I am from a label or sponsor. I do use my age to an advantage though, I can walk into dressing rooms or past huge lines and nobody says a word. I am not a threat I guess. I also find I can meet many bands and have a different level of conversation with them. They give me their real emails and facebook pages. That is probably the biggest difference from the old school days and today…bands are nice and embrace you now.

9-But backing up, you obviously have kids in bands, how do your kids feel when you are at hanging out at venues with a ton of kids taking photos?

-Jamison takes graphic design Humber and wants to go at that end of the music business or management. He roadies/merch’s and helps out Partycat. When we first went to shows I never even said hello for the first year or 2…just do my own thing. But when I started getting better access, good shots and recognition it started to change. (Plus I was paying and driving so that helped).  Now that he is older it’s all cool. I have never been a big “rules” guy.  It freaks a lot of people out!

10-London has seen some wicked shows lately. (I see that you took photos at GWAR, one of my favourite bands!) What are some of the best shows you’ve been at in 2012?

With Jamison being in Toronto we have been going to a lot of shows there…top 5 in the last year…Enter Shikari / Letlive, Devil wears Prada, GWAR, The Contortionist, The Chariot.


11-And, what shows are you looking forward to in latter of 2012?

-Warped Tour is fun, I am working on pit pass for Metalfest, I hear Letlive will be through, really whatever shows my son says I have to see.

12-So, for the gear heads, what are you using to shoot?

-I shoot with a Nikon D60 with a 18 – 105 zoom lens. Depending on the venue, I like to shoot full manual with no flash. I will take 500 + shots in a night of which 50 make the cut.

13-Have you had any gear mishaps at shows? I’ve accidently hit a photographer who popped up on stage, and I’ve seen photographers get lost in a pit.

-Not really, I have camera armor if it will be rough. 

14-Where would be the coolest place for you to see one of your photos published?

-On the cover of Rolling Stone!

15-What band, in your opinion would be the coolest for you to take pictures of?

-One of the The Beatles or the Rolling Stones

16-I know a lot of pretty boy bands, all very photogenic hahaha. What band, do you think, takes some of the best pictures?

-I was wandering through Warped Tour last year and The Black Veil Brides came out. They looked interesting so I took some quick shots and moved on. At editing, they were awesome. I posted them and the next morning I have hundreds of likes and requests from teen girls from all over the world. I started answering them but then I thought “a guy my age shouldn’t be friends with this many girls their age..just asking for trouble.” Blood on the Dance Floor were cute too.

17-This is one I ask to all bands/ interviews. Best place to grab a bite to eat after a show?

-Nope, I have a paying job that I have to get up for.

18-Have you ever considered doing anything wild like creating a coffee table book of all the photos you’ve taken, or publishing a ‘zine, or exhibiting them downtown London?

-Sure but it all costs money. I have had talks with online zines etc but like everything else in the metal world…nobody makes any real money. I would trade them for credit and press passes if they asked.

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19-Aside from bands and concerts what things inspire you to photograph?

-Just different things that you don’t see every day or things from a different angle. I like to capture the ambiance of a show as much as the artists.

20-Finally, the nonsensical question! You have the unique opportunity to take backstage photos of your favourite band for an entire tour, the downside is all you can eat/drink the entire tour (let’s say it’s 2 months) is unsalted crackers and warm water. Do you do it?

-If I was 30 years younger…in a heartbeat.

Question you didn’t ask…What do you think of the state of the music industry today?

I think it is a crying shame that I can spend $15. and see 4 awesome bands that have traveled 1000’s of miles with all their gear and 50 people show up. Yet a guy can show up with a laptop and a playlist and start at midnight DJing and 500 people will pay $50 each to “be there”. I appreciate their studio talent and their stage show but the masses are asses. That scene is reminiscent of Disco in the late 70’s. Eventually they will get tired of the scene and come back to live music. The most encouraging thing is “the sceeny weenies” showing up for an Abandon All Ships show or the like. At least they are a younger generation being exposed to live music. 

 

That last answer is so true. That’s no bullshit.


Amanda Taverner from AmandaTaverner Photography

You’ve seen her at a show. She may have taken photos of your favourite band. This is Amanda. You’ll see her side stage and in the pit, camera in hand taking great shots. Once again, no, she’s not a band. Yes, I know this is ’20 Questions For My Favourite Bands’, but these folks are all integral in the scene!

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1-Who are you, and what do you do in the London music scene?

-My name is Amanda Taverner. I go to a lot of shows put on at the Music Hall and various other venues and photograph bands. 

2-What inspired you to begin taking photos?

Well, my dad had a Canon DSLR camera and was always out photographing nature and what not and seemed to really enjoy it. Since I was always going to shows, I thought why not buy a camera and start photographing live bands. I loved it right of the bat and now it has turned into one of my favorite things to do!

3-Who, so far, has been the coolest band you have taken photos of?

I’m always one for local bands! Every time I take photos of Searching For Satellites, it’s always fun. I’ll usually go on stage for a bit and watch the crowd and they get pretty fucking rowdy which gives me a lot to work with. 

4-Likewise, what was the best show you got to take photos at?

Well, a while back there was a show with Farewell To Freeway, Searching For Satellites, and No Bragging Rights and the entire time, shit was off the hook. Pretty much everyone in the venue was moving and singing along the entire night. Also, Counterparts came not too long ago and that was a fun show too! It was a bit harder to get pictures near the end when they played just because everyone was going insane in the pit and people were flying off the stage in every direction. 

5-Being a photographer at a heavy show can often be risky. If people ask us if they can come on stage to take photos, we always say, sure, BUT, watch out for yourself, because if we demolish you with a guitar it’s not our fault. Have you sustained any injuries while taking photos?

Well I’ve been to enough shows now to know when is the right time to get on the stage and shoot. So, I’ve been pretty lucky so far! As for being near the front of the pit, I’ve been jumped on, knocked my head off a pole, and smashed my head on the ground from falling… fun times! 

6-Even worse is taking photos while you’re in a pit. Ever done it? What’s your strategy?

All the time! I pretty much know most of the people who attend shows now, which makes it easier for me to take photos. There is usually the same people that always mosh and I have become aware of their style so I know what to look out for. Also, people are pretty kind and if I have my eye up to my camera and can’t see what is coming at or near me then they block me so I don’t get hurt! If it’s too insane, then I get in quick snap a few, then get out! 

7-What are the perks of taking photos at some of the coolest shows?

Meeting new people! I’m fortunate to always meet members of bands and fans asking me to see my photos later on. Probably half, if not more of the people I have on my Facebook friends list are from meeting them from a show. 

8-Let’s talk gear! What do you shoot with?

Currently I have a Canon Rebel XS and usually shoot with a standard 18-55mm lens. I want to upgrade to a Canon Rebel T3I though, but I’ll always stick with a Canon! 

9-Obviously as DSL cameras have become cheaper, every kid who has one thinks they are a photographer. How do you make your photos better than the average person who points and shoots at shows?

 I find that usually I am one of maybe two(?) other people at a show taking photos. It’s either Dan Berry (Berry Photograph) who does some killer shots, or one of a band members girlfriends with a little point and shoot. I think that since I’ve seen bands multiple times now, I know how their stage presence is and know what kinds of things to look out for and I just know what works best for me. 

10-What is your dream band to photograph?

Don’t laugh at me people, but I am absolutely IN LOVE with City and Colour. Dallas Green is just incredible. I saw him in March, but didn’t really get to take photos because I was on the balcony and he doesn’t like constant photos being taken at shows. I think I would die if I got to do a shoot with him. Also, Dead and Divine would have been pretty cool! (RIP) 

11-If you could shoot a concert with 4 of your favourite bands, what would the lineup be?

Let’s just say I’d probably piss my pants from excitement and definitely would NOT be able to take photos because I’d be at the front for every song singing my heart out…. but put Searching For Satellites, Farewell To Freeway, Dead and Divine together and I know the last one is a different genre but I absolutely love UTKF… So if all those bands were playing together I think I’d going insane! 

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12-I’ve seen you’re a big fan of Farewell To Freeway. They are my favourite band. This isn’t a question, I just thought I’d bring up how awesome they are.

UH, don’t even get me started, such a fantastic band! They have pure talent and put on incredible shows. I spam the shit out of them on Twitter too, haha. Always retweeting them and tweeting about them! Sorry to my followers. (@amandataverner)

13-What would be the coolest place to see some of your photos published?

I love seeing blogs and such that are using my photos, makes me feel proud! I think it’d be pretty fucking sweet if bands that I shoot started using my photos on their merch. Seeing people walk around with something that I shot would be pretty cool. Even seeing a photo of mine on a show poster would be rad! 

14-You’re given a large sum of money, that can only be used on one photo shoot with one band, props, backgrounds, anything at your disposal. What would the photos look like?

Unicorns, rainbow background, and barbies….. no, I’m kidding. I always like the look of grungy warehouse’s or something with a lot of history/past. I’d want the band to be the main focus obviously, but the background has to look cool too! 

15-Just as a general concert goer, what have been some of the best shows you’ve seen in London?

We Came As Romans, Farewell To Freeway and Searching For Satellites on the same bill was crazy, Counterparts, Stray From The Path, Hundreth, A Sight For Sewn Eyes, Attack Attack! AND Memphis May Fire together was awesome! I couldn’t even tell you how many shows I’ve been too, I’m starting to forget who I’ve seen now. 

16-I ask all the bands this, and I think this still applies. Post show eats, where do you go?

I honestly can’t eat before any shows I go to, I don’t understand it. My nerves take over and make me feel extremely nauseas, it’s weird. 

17-Obviously as a female, you get hit on at shows….like every female. Any creepy bands ever try to pick you up…using possibly hilarious pick up lines?

Thankfully no, I’ve been asked to go and grab drinks after, but nothing creepy…. yet.

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18-Aside from bands and shows, what do you enjoy photographing? Fruit in bowls? Sunsets? Ducks?

DOGS! I’m obsessed with animals, especially dogs. Also, I like taking photos of flowers, nature, and photos of people.

19-Have you ever wrecked any gear while taking photos?

Not yet and hopefully I won’t! I’m careful! haha

20-The final question, totally unrelated to anything. In a hypothetical situation, you’re given 3 pieces of bacon to split between 4 of your friends. How do you split it up?

I’ll just eat all 3 pieces. Kidding, bacon isn’t that great! Let’s assume one of them is a vegetarian, so 3 of them can have 1 piece. Or, let them all fight for it… I’m sure that would be pretty entertaining! 

 

Support the scene, support the arts!

Jackery Benjamin from Hello Amora

This is my buddy Jackery from Hello Amora, a new band in the London scene. You’ve seen this guy at shows. You’ve probably gotten drunk with him. This band is no bull though. Amazing guys, great songs. And when they play their first show, they will be wild. Jackery went into a lot of detail answering these, but you know what, I appreciate it. So should you.

http://www.facebook.com/helloamora

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1-Who are you, and what is your role in Hello Amora?

-My name is Jackery Benjamin, and I play guitar for Hello Amora. I try not to limit myself to guitar though. Every member of the band has knowledge of multiple instruments; so we try to help bring the best out of one another. I also play a big part in song arrangements, lyrics writing, vocal phrasing and seeing the whole process through, whereas one of the many guitarists in this band may write/polish one of my guitar riffs.

2-Who are the rest of the guys in your band?

-In the process of piecing Hello Amora together we had to cycle through a number of members in a process we like to call “FILTERING OUT THE FLAKES!!” We honestly must have gone through a gajillion member changes but it was important to us to find the right members we launched.

MIKE BARR (ex-Here’s Looking at You Kid) …has been with myself throughout the whole process and is the bands other guitarist. He comes from more of metal background and it really shines through with his lead riffs.

TROY THURSTON (ex-He Has Eyes) …is our bands Hype-guy! He has a ridiculous supply of energy; he mostly screams and has incredible vocal projection. When we do group chants it’s important for him to stand further away from the microphone than anyone else. Troy is the bands resident Hardcore-Kid!

DAN DUBEAU (ex-Second Floor Escape) …plays both synth/keys as well as clean vocals/harmonies. Admittedly, our band has the necessary amount of production, but rest assured 90% of the synth work is all going to be played live. We are really happy to have him doing clean vocals because he pushes to do everything in full voice which reminds me of some early Emarosa/Four Year Strong.

CHRISTIAN SCAGNETTI (ex-Second Floor Escape) …is responsible for- slappin’ dah bassist-. He certainly uses all his music knowledge to take advantage of every string.

NICH LONGE (ex-The Lakeside is for Killers, presently-Goodbye Sky Harbour) …ohhh Nich..Nich Nich. He is our bands very talented and entertaining drummer. (though Nich will always be to humble and bashful to admit this. His stage presence has got to be my favourite thing

3-Can you explain to me the meaning behind the band name Hello Amora?

-This is an exert of the name from our FB page:

A name that is originally inspired by the spell “Alohomora” from the popular film/novel Harry Potter. This charm is used to open mechanical locks that are not protected by magic. To us this name is important because we feel we have the power to open up doors and remove any obstacles that stand in our way. The lingual origins of this magical spell comes from the Hawaiian word “ALOHA” which mean both Hello/Goodbye, and the Latin word “AMOR” which means Love. Do you have the power to welcome new love into your life? When something or someone you love is getting you down… do you have the power to let it go?

To be honest it kind of started off as a joke. Having 6 members in your band makes it very difficult to agree on a single name. So many ideas start off great at first, and seem golden, until you look back on it like it was spawned from a horrible blackout drunk night.

On March 25th, 2012 we had our photo-shoot with photographer John Kerr on the beach of Port Stanley. We had already been in the works of recording our second song and still shamefully hadn’t come up with a band name. Any musician will tell you that talking to others about your band without having band name has got to be the most painfully awkward conversation (pointless). By the end of our shoot we settled on Hello Amora.

4-The way the band came together seems kind of crazy. How did everyone congregate together?

-I personally have been trying to get a band together for many years now and have ran into countless difficulties with other members… mostly a slew of negative reasons that would be to exhausting to go through. I am just happy and grateful that I have found solid members that want to push this as bad as I do.

Around December of 2010 I was considering moving to Windsor, ON. There I had met some sweet d00ds in a band called “YOURS TO CALL.” I believe you were brother bands with these guys and joined them on the MR. T-OUR. in 2010 This band was on the verge of breaking up and I planned to realign with them and some new members.. I started writing with the bands guitarist named “JB Yilmaz” which was a very rewarding experience for me, (thx brothaman.. I learned soo much) but before I could even move to Windsor the guys from YOURS TO CALL decided to call it quits.

JB was nice enough to let me take the riffs I had written and use them for my next project. I then had approached our guitarist Mike Barr of whom I had been in contact with from years before. When Mike was just leaving -HLAYK- as kids our musical style clashed but now that we had grown up and matured (both as people and musicians) we were ready to take another stab at it. March of 2011, in a desperate search to find other musicians I reached back out to Mike with some new track ideas. Mike had come a long way and was already mixing electronic music on his own. (16 yr old Metal-Head Mike Barr would not be caught dead doing in a million years). I was very excited to find message back indicating that shit was about to get real.

We spent until Dec 2011 writing /cycling through members. At the time I’d been working at a local Call Centre and had moved my drive to find musicians during regular business hours (probably should have been working). I’d often ditch my work duties to search Kijiji ads. It was also time to search outside of London. I came across an advertisement from a bassist that looked the part and had great influences list …and we were sold.. cuz that’s what really matters…right!!?? We exchanged messages. His first response informed us that he was a package deal with our vocalist/keys/synth player Dan Dubeau. (Both of which had played together in SFE and shared the stage of Warped tour together.) They had sent us live footage of past shows and we were thoroughly impressed with their combined dynamic.

Lastly we had to have a drummer to support the cause. First of all I would like to say we had our eyes set on Nich since the beginning. He was even the first person we offered the position to. Nich had originally declined as his focus relied with his currently running drum school “THE END IS NICH” and is /was in two other local bands GSH, & TLIFK. In that time we had a few drummers lined-up but everyone seemed to bail on us right before things got serious. This explains why Nich does not appear in our first photo-shoot. (Not to worry we will be booking another one inclusive of Nich this summer)

We re-approached Nich with the idea of joining our band by showing him a sneak peak recording of our debut track “I’D TELL YOU TO GET LOST, BUT YOU ALREADY ARE”. Nich had much to consider before joining another project. He balanced the ideas of… would he be spreading himself out too thin or would he have time with the productivity of other projects. As we returned home from our long day on the beach Nich confirmed that he would be down to make it work with us. He was intrigued by our band because he felt that we would be a great outlet to challenge himself as a drummer.

Our un-official 7th member is Chris Webb who I had jammed with in the early days of ESCAPES. Chris was referred to me by Nich as a way that Webber Studios and Hello Amora could unite and get our respective feet through the door. So far Chris is in the works of engineering a 3-song demo for us and we plan to work with him again in the future. Chris is great at using the tools he has to make a band sound larger than life. It makes us feel soo secure to know that he really cares about the impression that the final piece is going to make. He puts in a lot of extra hours in for us and working with him is extremely relaxed and comfortable. We sometimes treat him to a sandwich or some good ol’ Arizona Green Tea. He expects bands to come to him completely prepared and ready to go. ON A SIDE NOTE: I am currently assisting an unknown London band with pre-production to help get them ready for Chris so stay tuned for more information on that. For Hello Amora Chris has taken are original ideas and just polished up little areas where his experience as a musician can teach us things we don’t already know. We trust the guy as he plays virtually every instrument aside from vocals.

5-I’ve had the pleasure of getting a sneak peak at some newer material, and it’s insane. How do you guys go about writing your music? 

-Insane…. Aaron Barry you flatter me!! …blushies***

With us…. we find it easiest to have one person bring an initial direction for a song to the table.

Some of our members live between Kitchener and London and at other ends of the city it makes it hard for 6 people to write in a jam space scenario. We utilize a program called to bounce ideas off of each other online and the songs blossom. Our music tends to get busy at times, we are most critical on ourselves to sure every riff or melody has a purpose.

Over time the songs generally go through many transformations with a lot of ideas being added in and taken out.

Some bands try to write 20 songs and then choose to only use the best set of those songs, but with us we try to write one song at a time. We feel that we are productive when sacrificing riffs or sections than entire pieces. For example if a chorus isn’t catchy enough and that seems to be the weak part of the song but the rest is golden, we simply rewrite the chorus rather than having to start completely from scratch.

We notice that we start with some general traditional song structure arrangements such as intro, verse, chorus, verse, and chorus. From that point on the song could go virtually anywhere. Sometimes we even add a few extra verses to give the lyrics a deeper impact. The verses don’t have to be the same instrumental either, or maybe the chorus vocal hook is played over a completely different instrumental party all together. Whatever works best for us!

When it comes to lyrics we generally meet up for food or beers and discuss what we feel the lyrical content should be about. We care a lot about the messages our songs hold and we want to portray them in a artistic way. I personally have always been a great fan of painting a picture with words. Character development is huge for me and I love kickin’ back in my bed with some of my favourite band’s cd booklets and trying to find the deeper meaning/metaphors/analogies/personification that artists have hidden within their lyrics.

I may have trailed off for a moment, but being a lyrically driven band is something that we have always strived for. We hope that our melodies our catchy enough for true fans to want to memorize our lyrics and sing along.

6-I don’t even know how to describe your music. It’s all over the map…in a good way. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

-Please.. If anyone can describe our music to us, they must let us know.

It must be hard for most bands to label themselves, but I find it especially hard being in this band. Granted we are not doing anything entirely new. There are a lot of influences from each member all over the map, but we each try to do our own thing.

To simplify I would say passionate Hard-core yell screaming, full-voice clean vocal lines, metal-esque lead riffs, prog-rock rhythms/arrangements, punk/pop/funky bass lines, and drumming of virtually every avenue you can take.

Some people get into music because they love a certain band or genre soo much and only want to play in a band with others who are into the same thing. Our influences vary sooo much we see it is more of a collaboration involving our love for music. We just do our own thing and try not to worry about how it is going to sound in the end. Our main focus is playing tightly, on key, and most of all just having fun that we get to play with other musicians / brothers with the same passion.

7-Listening to ‘I’d Tell You To Get Lost, But You Already Are’, I can hear a lot of the influences. Who would you say influenced you the most?

-On or band page we actually list dozens of influences and group them per member. You will notice that some artists appear on everyone’s list, but some bands that have specifically influenced me are local legends SHOTGUN RULES, and bands like CHIODOS/FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND/A STATIC LULLABY/TAKING BACK SUNDAY/BRAND NEW/EMAROSA/& COHEED AND CAMBRIA

Combine all those influences in a blender and call it a day.

That’s my influences in a nutshell.

In addition I try think outside the box and let things like movie soundtracks/video games/horror movies/dance music and other random things influence my writing. Whatever sounds best.

8-To date, you guys haven’t played your debut show, but when you’re ready, who would your dream show be with?

-I can’t speak for the rest of the band but my dream show would be to play with Chiodos, for some reason they really captured an era of my life and I have always personally enjoyed their stage presence and the entertainment value of their live set.

9-I see you all over, at so many shows. What has been the best show you have been to?

-I like to support the local scene as much as possible; there was even a time when my whole wardrobe was just show merch. I would just get gnarly from rocking out too hard or jumping around in a classic push mosh and decide it was time to buy a new shirt and toss the old one.

My fave show to date must be Shotgun Rules. They had the entire basis covered. High energy stage presence, great song writing skills between all instruments, a bro-like chant at the beginning of every set, creative song arrangements, meaningful lyrics, at shows all the kids would be singing along. The energy between the band and audience was unreal. It we complete harmony of what a show should be and I hope that one day they decide to return to do a reunion show.. It would bring joy to sooo many people.

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10-If you could be in another band, in any era of music, who would be in the band, and what era?

-This question is a tough one because I haven’t really toyed with the idea before. I feel that now a days the bar of being a musician is set a lot higher in some aspects such as originality and which genres are more popular but easier in a sense that having an online presence is such a great way to get the word/music out to the masses. I would probably like to head back in time to the 60’s and just jam with a bunch of hippies. Playing the Woodstock festival would be quite the experience and being in a band at that time would be more laid-back in a way.

11-I think every band, myself included, would love to grace the cover of a magazine. If you had the chance, what magazine would it be, and what would the cover look like?

-I think any guitarist would love to rock the cover of GuitarWorld magazine. I am sure Mike and I would be tossing the attitude power stance aside and up to our usual pranks/shenanigans and just look ridiculous. I am sure the band goal would be to have our whole unit take the cover of AP Magazine (Alternative Press) and have some sort of centerfold poster/article high-lighting some band history and our journey thus far combined with some examples of where we are heading at that point in time.

12-You guys have really strong lyrics. What does Hello Amora stand for as a band?

-Lyrically we want to focus on positive messages, or real life issues that every day people face or struggle with. They do not necessarily need to be about relationships or love lost per say. We try to write vaguely enough for the lyrics to be interpreted in any way that could hit home or close to the listener.

What we had in mind when writing our first couple tracks are:

1) Being there for a friend whom has fallen into a dark place. A friend who has pushed everyone they love away. We have all been there, and as friends we only want what is best for each other. If one of my friends falls down I am going to do what I can to pick them back up even if it is only lifting their spirits. You can’t force your friend to get their life back together but if they are lost they may want/need some guidance to find their way.

2) The second track covers topics like growing up too quickly or becoming too serious of a person. It focuses on how people need to lighten up and remember what it is like to play as a child. One thing I also see too much of is people giving up their dreams just because they do not believe they can make anything happen for them. They get stuck in boring 9-5 jobs that consume all of their time and they forget what it is like to have a hobby/passion and invest time, money and thought into making it work.

3) As for the third track, we are quite the ways away from releasing it so I do not want to give away too much information but I will say that it touches base on the topic of anti-bullying and we go about it in a pretty unique and creative way.

The most rewarding thing so far that has come from our lyrics is a wall post we got from a fan named Lynzey P. just 7 days after releasing I’d tell you to get lost..

She was going through tough times with some friend and wrote: “Just thought I’d let ya guys know.’’

When I was away from home and not dealing with certain people very well

Your music helped me calm down and stop crying. Also listening to you while having a smoke outside watching a big storm happen = fucken life!!! Soooo your music helps bad moods become good moods and makes good moods even better”

To know that our music our music can have that calming effect on someone really is touching to us and will always mean more than anyone can ever comprehend.

13-Everyone in your band is forced to switch instruments with someone else in the band. Who goes where?

-In my opinion Dan would probably front the band as a band with even more clean vocals. Troy would play drums as he is already trained in basic percussion and plays a djembe fairly well. Nich would play guitar and would give us a much heavier aspect to our band. Christian would play rhythm guitar as it is the closest thing to bass for him and probably do more back-up vocals, Mike would play samples and because of his electronic music background I could see him being great on keys. That would leave me to tackle bass as it was my first instrument.

Who knows maybe one jam session we will put that to the test just for kicks..

14-You can take on any other band in a bowling match. What band do you challenge?

-Honestly I would have to say SEARCHING FOR SATELLITES or UTKF, they are solid musicians/performers and I see a lot of great character in those bands. Why them do you ask?? Well…. I feel we know tonnes of other local bands that we are already so tight with inside our community, but both S4S and UTKF are two bands we haven’t really had the chance to bro out with yet and a nice competitive bowling match over pitchers of beer and greasy food would be a solid way to break the ice. You’ve been challenged homies, what sayeth you???

15-What does HA! have planned for the second half of 2012?

-Honestly a tonne of practice. We are just finishing recording our demo and will soon be tightening our entire performance so we can leave a solid first impression onto the live platform. We are up to a lot of other madness as well but I can’t release all of the information just yet. Follow our FB/Twitter accounts and we promise to keep you posted as soon as further developments unfold. Make sure you click on the LIKE button and select SHOW IN NEWS FEED to stay on top of the updates as they unfold.

16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?

-Honestly, being in a band can get expensive. We don’t have a lot of time to eat at home even though I do love cooking. We usually follow the deals. In London.. Monday is all you can eat wings at THE HONEST LAYWER or half priced menu @ THE ALE HOUSE, we find ourselves at WINKS EATERY more often than not, as well as PRINCE ALBERTS DINER. Currently Troy is working @ SMOKES POUTINERIE. So that is a regular place for us. Lastly we have been trying everything on the menu @ this London joint called THE EARLY BIRD. Eating out as a band plus a couple pitchers of draft is almost as expensive as being in a band.

17- Being in a band, In know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling rig for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be? 

-I jokingly wanted to say Troy, he is that big cuddle bear that looks hard as fahk but would do more damage to you due to drunken clumsiness and over loving you then he actually would out of anger. Troy would probably break me by accident. Mike is my closest in height (we are both hobbits..) …which would probably make for a more interesting match.

18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?

-Run around town with posters and meeting kids on the street for the first hour or so convincing them to come party with us, then meet the other bands as they load in during sound check. And lastly hang out in line with kids outside the venue and get to know them before show time. Try to find out where the action is after a party and who is kind enough to lend us a floor and a slew of blankets and pillows to crash on so we at least have a roof over our head. We will raid your fridge in the morning and cook you breakfast…promise c:

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19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In HA!, whos the dad, mom, etc.

-We often joke about this. Our 6-piece band is almost completely balanced. With myself, Dan and Troy being the bands front, (we go with the flow and our accepting of a lot more) we are eager beavers, we work hard and go with the flow as it comes our way. Christian, Mike and Nich help keep us grounded. They make sure we don’t take on more than we can chew. They have a very realist approach and are most critical about things submitted to be launched. We need them like good needs evil. There can’t be one without the other.

To really narrow down the mom I would have to say Nich, he always wants what’s best but you don’t always want to hear what he has to say.. even though mom is usually always right. I am kind of the dad and keep everyone in line and on track, I hand out tasks for everyone to finish and keep tabs on all the kids.. The only time I really become the mom is when things are not getting done.. I haven’t really felt like a mom that much in this band.. so I guess that is a plus. When we hang out we all play like brothers. We just launched a video for I’D TELL YOU TO GET LOST which covers behind the scenes footage of our photo-shoot with John and it really captures the character and personality within us all.

20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?

-This is great.. I would have to say “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER!” Every person in this band has their own unique sense of humour and lifestyle, and are jokes/conversations all feed off one another. Our story seems to be very open ended and we are on the search for something, we want it soooo bad… it just hasn’t happened for us yet. But we can dream. We have made mistakes like Ted along the way but like the sitcom, everything seems to happen for a reason and the universe brings us all together.

Connor Johnson from Kennedy

Connor from Kennedy was awesome enough to answer some Q&A with me. Luckily, he did it in english, because I don’t know any french, except for the curse words and desserts. We met these guys a while ago, and they are super wild, and super sweet dudes. Check ‘em out!

http://www.facebook.com/kennedyhxc

 

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1- Let’s begin with basics, who are you, and what is your role in Kennedy?

-My name is Connor Johnson, I play bass guitar.

2- Who are the rest of the folks in your band? 

-Matthew Savage – Vocals 

Felix Legault – Guitar 

Luca Santilli – Guitar 

Kyle Mcallister – Drums

3- How did Kennedy come together as a band?

-Kennedy was something that starting coming together towards the end of our previous band Breaking The Fourth Wall. We knew BTFW’s time was coming to an end. Music is something we all feel really passionate about and we already had a strong musical connection because of BTFW, so it just made sense to restart and keep going.

4- Can you explain the origin of your band name?

-It kinda just happened really, we knew we wanted something political and short. We played around with a few other names like “Reagan” but Kennedy just fit too perfectly. 

5-Up to this point in your career, what has been the most satisfying show you have played?

-That’s the most difficult question to answer because every show is just so satisfying to me. If I had to choose one, I would probably say our first Montreal show as Kennedy. I was really excited to have all my friends check out my new band because i hadn’t played a show in over a year.

6-How does the band work? Member wise?

-I’ve been playing music since i was 15 years old. Out of all the bands I’ve been in, Kennedy is definitely the most productive. As a group we all get along pretty damn good and we’re pretty good at making sure things are done on time. However, there is always room for improvement.

7- What is the scene like in Quebec, compared to here in Ontario?

-I may kick myself in the ass for answering this question but, in my experience, the scene in Quebec is rather segregated. Language is a pretty big deal. It just feels like a constant competition and nobody wants to help each other out. There are always exceptions, don’t get me wrong but for the amount of bands that come out of Montreal alone, i think we could do a better job. Whereas in Ontario everyone is so friendly and bands are always helping each other out.

8- Every band has had that ”night” where things just aren’t right, vibes are wrong, instrument/gear failure etc. Have you guys had one of those nights?

-From what i can remember we haven’t had one of those nights yet as Kennedy. (Fingers Crossed) But, BTFW played a show in Calgary a year or two ago and mid set we blew a fuse and everything turned off. Eventually the power did come back on and we finished our set. Let me tell you it was an awkward couple of minutes hahaha! 

9- You guys are wild live. Who has sustained the worst injury on stage?

-Matthew and Felix are definitely the two top contenders. Matt has had countless concussions and I’m pretty sure Felix bleeds every single show. If he isn’t bleeding come the end of the set, his face is probably bruised from punching himself in the face. 

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10- Your light boxes are really cool, it almost brings a theatrical element to your live show. Who’s idea was that?

-We’ve been playing around with the idea of a visual show since BTFW. BTFW had a stage show where we set up 5 TVs around the stage. The TVs were linked to a dvd player and were synched so the videos played on all the screens at the same time. We had some clips that played at certain parts of our songs, otherwise they all displayed static. We would play with all the lights off so the static created an eerie feel and left us looking like dark silhouettes. 

As for Monolith 1 & Monolith 2 (Our light boxes), That was an evolved form of the TVs. It’s a lot more simple to set up, the light it gives off is just right, and it creates that same eerie feel. It’s a good visual association as well, we hope to have Monolith 1 & 2 seem almost like they are members of Kennedy.

11- Have you played a show where people weren’t into it, and it just ended up being awkward? We’ve played those shows and the suck.

-Again, I can’t recall of any Kennedy shows where that has happened, given we’ve only played 8 or 9 shows. However it used to happen to Breaking The Fourth Wall all the time. Definitely not fun, but something you can laugh about after. 

12- Who is the coolest band in Quebec right now, in your opinion?

-We played with a band called Nous Etions in Montreal a couple of weeks ago. They’re about as cool as it gets.

13- You guys use some cool gear. Are you a gearhead yourself, or anyone else in the band? Or do you just kind of use what feels right?

-Felix is the biggest gearhead I know. Both him and Luca are all about their pedals. I wouldn’t consider myself a gearhead, but being around two of them all the time I do learn a fair share. My gear set up is something I’ve been working on for 3 years now. After buying and selling quite a few different amps and cabs, i can finally say I LOVE my set up. 

14- What do you guys plan to do with the second half of 2012? Touring? Writing? Recording?

-The plan right now is to do as much touring as we can until the winter months. During the winter months we would like to be recording our 2nd CD. 

15- How do you guys write songs? Does someone bring complete songs to a jam, or do you guys sit in a room and jam until something clicks?

-Usually Felix and Luca get together and work on an idea first. Once they come up with something they both feel really good about, they bring it to jam and we just go with it. It does take us quite sometime to write songs, but like everything, you get better with practice. 

16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?

-MCDICKS! ALL DAY, EVERYDAY! 

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17- Being in a band, I know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling ring for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be?

-Matthew Savage. I would have to take steroids for a couple of months before hand if I even wanted a chance to win… 

18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?

-Everybody’s different. As a band i think we could all agree that exploring our surroundings is definitely the most productive though.

19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In Kennedy, who’s the dad, mom, etc.

-You know that uncle everyone has? The one who will sneak you a beer when you’re underage? The one you’re always the most stoked to hang out with at family gatherings? Kennedy is 5 of those uncles.

20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?

A: The Walking Dead. Although it doesn’t classify as a sitcom.

 

Don’t hate ‘em ‘cause they’re from Quebec! Hahahaha!