Pop Punk

Alive & Well – Interview

Sunday 31st December 2017

Just when you think the past 12 months of music discovery are coming to a close, and as I’m sat here wondering what bands, artists and releases really peaked for me this year, another contender races in to firmly add their place in my ones to watch for 2018.  Bassist and Vocalist Mike Mule of San Diego band Alive & Well recently contacted me with their latest single “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” and with its tremendous intro and relatable lyrics, it instantly reminded me of why pop-punk still holds a special place in my heart.  Along with the hardcore elements thrown in too, I can’t deny that I’m already hooked!  Having released their debut EP “From Basements to Beaches” in 2016, they have since gone on to play at the Vans Warped Tour and opened up for the likes of The Ataris and Dashboard Confessional, so not only am I hoping that a new release is on the cards soon, I’m certain that bigger things are coming.

Let’s start things off with an introduction and some history behind the band. Where and how did you all meet, have you been in bands previously, and what made you decide to form Alive & Well?

Alive & Well has a real fun story actually. Matt had the songs and the idea of the band formed back in New Jersey roughly 2012 ish and then moved out here to San Diego. We actually met at Ramen Spot new years day over a conversation about a band hoodie I was wearing. At the time I was playing in a hardcore band and invited Matt to our next show. The guy who formed the band left and I ended up asking Matt to fill in. When I sent him an email with all the songs and band info, a thread from 2 years prior popped up. Turned out that we actually attempted to get together before and it never worked out with schedules and what not. After a few months, the hardcore band started to fizzle out and Matt informed me that he had a pop punk band he was working on and just needed a bassist. I came to one practice and now here we are. Alive & Well.

You class yourselves as a pop-punk band, but there are definitely noticeable hardcore elements to your sound, and it works really well.  What has drawn you to these genres?

Growing up on the east coast there was a ton of awesome hardcore bands it was almost hard to not get into it. Those basement, house, VFW Hall, and small club shows are such an insanely fun time and the energy and unity that hardcore shows bring are unlike any other musical experience. Matt and I definitely have more of a hardcore background and try to keep some of the elements in our songs.

You released your debut EP ‘From Basements to Beaches’ in June. What’s the story behind the release, and how are you finding the response to your music so far?

We had such a fun time with the making of the EP, from recording to the EP album cover. The whole idea behind the name is just about the changes from east coast to west coast. We (Matt and myself) grew up hanging out in basements, now we’re on beaches. We recorded with Beau Burchell of Saosin at his studio in LA. From there we made the video for ‘No Winter in the West’ with our buddy Alejandro Miyashiro who was in school in New York. Luckily Matt was back there to visit family and Alejandro came back to San Diego for a school break a few months later, so what should have been a logistical nightmare worked out fairly well and we were able to have parts of the video on both coasts. As for the EP cover, we literally built a basement on the beach. The tide came in quick and almost brought it all crashing down. It was nuts.  Being an unsigned band and all transplants to a new city, we’re thrilled with the traction this EP has picked up.

Are you looking to follow up with another EP or album in the near future?

We’re hoping to have something out early 2018.

Your single ‘You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit’ is such a solid track!  What was your process of putting the song together and was it written through personal experiences?

First off thank you so much! That song was actually planned to be on the FBTB EP but it didn’t work out that way. We recorded with our good friend Peter Duff at his studio Grey Brick and decided to release it as a single. We’ve all had those jobs that we fully despise and know how it feels to just get stuck in a position you hate so yes, there are definitely personal experiences in that one!

Will there be a video release for the single?

We’re hoping to have a video for that one in the near future.

Who are your musical influences, and are there any bands in particular that you model yourselves on?

Our influences range from Bruce Springsteen to Every Time I Die and everything in between. I wouldn’t say we model ourselves off of one band in particular or even genre. We try to look at everything in the music industry and see what little pieces we can pick out and use for ourselves.

There’s a huge pop-punk scene in the States and it’s a genre that is standing the test of time; bands like New Found Glory and Yellowcard recently made it to their 20th year anniversary. Is this something you also hope to achieve as a band, and where do you feel you currently fit amongst the current wave?

We’re excited enough that we’re going in to our 4th year as a full band. 20 years would be a dream come true! Matt and I were actually at the NFG 20th anniversary show here in San Diego and it was like their first year as a band as far as energy goes. They were so pumped, the crowd was pumped. That’s what it’s all about. When the fun is over, the band is over.

What’s the music scene like in San Diego for DIY bands like yourselves?

San Diego actually actually has a really great music scene that is overlooked sometimes. There’s tons of great bands and everyone has great things going on it’s almost too hard to pay attention to it all. When DIY bands team up and support each other, they all move forward together. We’re all on the same team so it’s really awesome to see your friends progress and succeed.

Looking back over the past 12 months, what would you say have been your biggest highlights, and where do you hope to take the band in 2018? 

Every show is the greatest day for Alive & Well but there are definitely some huge highlights. We got to open for Dashboard in a tiny secret show, play Van’s Warped Tour, and open for The Ataris and The Queers all in a year. Our goal for 2018 is to be on the road more and keep the dream alive one show at a time.

Connect with Alive & Well via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Hello, Atlantic – Interview

Wednesday 13th December 2017

Fresh off the back of their debut on the main stage of the Vans Warped Tour, Province rockers Hello, Atlantic are switching things up for their upcoming EP “Breaking Orbit.”  Due for release in early 2018 the band are planning to announce a line-up change, along with a side of the band to be showcased that we haven’t seen before.  Performing at the Vans Warped Tour has seen the pop-punk quartet come away with a bucket full of even more enthusiasm, and they are already writing additional songs to be added to the EP. If that’s not enough, to whet your pop-punk appetite, and to give you a taste of what to expect, Hello, Atlantic have just released a video for the first single “Like Clockwork”  Being completely reeled in by the thought of adding another exciting band to my pop-punk list, I catch a moment with the guys to find out more about the release and what other artists are on their radar.

Hello! How are you guys, and what have you been doing with yourselves today?

Hi! We’re doing great! We’re moving into a new practice space, so we spent today moving all of our gear to our new one.

Please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves? Have you been in bands previously, and what has driven you to form Hello, Atlantic?

We were all in different bands growing up, but we formed Hello, Atlantic just from us all being introduced through mutual friends and just really getting to know each other musically.

You’re due to release your next EP “Breaking Orbit” in early 2018.  How are you feeling about getting new music out there, and are there any tracks in particular that you’re most excited about being heard?

We’ve just made a major line up change that’s going to be announced soon, so we’re going back and writing a few new ones for this EP. We’re even more excited for it now! Out of the ones that we’re keeping, my personal favorite is called “Ignite”.

What can we expect from the upcoming release, and how did you find the process of putting it together?

You’ll see a complete new side to us that no one has see yet. There was going to be a small taste of that on this EP, but with us going back and writing a few new songs, we’re able to bring this vision out sooner. We’re nervous and excited about it.

What’s your writing process as a band, and how do you work together to create the final track?

Ian usually comes in with a skeleton of a song or an idea, and we all just sit down and start throwing ideas back and forth until things start to fit together. Then we tweak it even more when we’re in the studio.

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how have they encouraged and helped you to develop your sound?

We all come from different musical backgrounds, but lately we’ve all been super into I, The Mighty. You’ll definitely be able to hear that in the music.

This year saw you play the main stage at the Vans Warped Tour for the first time.  How excited were you to be performing, and how was the experience?

Playing the main stage of Warped Tour was a dream come true for all of us. Ever since we all started getting into music, it’s what we’ve all wanted to do. Playing it was an absolute blessing.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the whole process, and have you been given any lasting advice?

Not anything that’s super long lasting, we usually get advice for immediate situations when we need it.

What do you have planned for 2018; what’s the next step for the band?

We plan on getting the new EP out as soon as possible, and playing as many places as we can!

Finally, what other artists are you listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

I, The Mighty is definitely one of the big ones that we’ve been listening to. We’ve also been going back and listening to a lot of My Chemical Romance a lot! They’re one of our favorites! Also, make sure that you check out a lot of the locals bands that we play shows with. Silence The Radio, Another One Down, Ten Cents Short, Bleacher Days, and Traverse! Also our friends Riviera from West Virgina. They also played the main stage of Warped Tour in their area.

Thanks for taking the time to interview us!

Connect with Hello, Atlantic via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Patent Pending – Other People’s Greatest Hits

Friday 23rd June 2017

Track Listing:

1. Wasted/Wake Me Up
2. Spice Up Your Life
3. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
4. Never Gonna Give You Up
5. Shout Out To My Ex
6. Livin’ La Vida Loca
7. All Time Low
8. Mr Brightside
9. Shape Of You
10. See You Again

Patent Pending are a rock band hailing from New York, and are here with their 6th studio album ‘Other People’s Greatest Hits’.  Known for performing covers during live shows the band decided they wanted to release an album of hits for their fans to enjoy.

Talking about the release the band explained that “each song that we chose for this album really helps represent the many different sides of Patent Pending. We’ve always been a band that draws influence from all over the musical spectrum and this project really helped us encapsulate pieces from all of the different genres we love in a half hour of pop-punk chaos! As music can make you feel so many different things and form connections with many songs for various different reasons, the hardest part of the whole thing was deciding which songs to do and choose only 10. We started with a list of 173 potential songs and spent a full week picking away at them, so safe to say this was truly a labor of love…”.”

Now, I have to admit that I tend to tread lightly when bands and artists produce cover songs.  You never really know what you’re going to get, and sometimes it doesn’t feel as though much justice has been done to the original at all.  However, that’s not to say I completely rule them out, in fact far from it.  Some of my favourites in recent years include Black Stone Cherry’s cover of Adele ‘Rolling In The Deep’ and Lonely The Brave did a beautiful version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’; also Amy Winehouse did a fantastic take on the Zutons ‘Valerie’.

When I was introduced to Patent Pending and their latest release ‘Other People’s Greatest Hits’ I was a bit unsure what to expect at first, but I can hands down say right from the start that it is an extremely entertaining album.  It does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s a collection of other people’s greatests hits that have been given a new lease of life.  With a really catchy collection of songs, Pop Punk is probably the most fun genre out there, and that’s exactly what this album is – lots of high energy and fun!

During their Spring Break Tour the band have been unveiling tracks from the album each night.  One of my favourites has to be their mash-up of ‘Wasted/Wake Me Up’ by Tiesto/Avicii, and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.  The newly released video for the track is very amusing and includes paint, and lots of it.  There’s a nice assortment of tracks from different eras, although I can’t help thinking that of all the music the 80’s gave to us, did we have to get “rick-rolled” by the infamous ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. I do really enjoy the intro to this one though, it sounds like the start of an 80’s sitcom.

If I had to select a track that I was most worried about hearing it would be the timeless classic Mr Brightside by The Killers.  The original track is so euphoric it’s difficult to imagine it in any other way.  Got to hand it to the band though, the keys at the beginning gave it the excitement that’s always anticipated with the song and it hasn’t let the original down at all.

Covering a track that’s only recently charted is always a tough call too, but Patent Pending aren’t out to trump anyone they’re just out for the good times.  Their take on ‘Shape Of You’ by Ed Sheeran is quite funky and has been given the upbeat rock treatment with a sprinkling of beatings on the triangle.  However,  ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ doesn’t sound too dissimilar to the original, there’s just a lot more guitar work which makes it sit well with the rest of the album.

Vocalist, Joe Ragosta comments that “the first time I heard this song I knew immediately that it needed to be covered by a rock band. The chorus is so catchy. It honestly reminds me of classic Warped Tour singalong songs. We wanted to beef it up with heavier guitars and push it further out from the pop genre. People we’ve shown it to so far are really excited that they don’t have to feel guilty about loving this tune anymore!””

So there you have it, a party starting album that’s sure to get you motivated and put you in a feel good mood. I have to say that it’s very hard for me to sit here and critique an album full of highly recognised tracks because you’ll already know what to expect, and what’s even better is you’ll already know all the lyrics.

So just buy the freaking album.  You’ll thank me for it.

Connect with Patent Pending via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.