We recently had a chance to sit down for a quick Six Pack interview with Chris, the talented front man from raucous UK rockers, Gorgeous George. This band is talented, diverse and fun as hell. As they are currently on the other side of the pond, we did this one virtually, but still a fun interview.
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RARAsFarm: The new video “Girls Night Out” is a blast. Watching it, the first band I thought of was Madness, then I see Chrissy Boy banging on the piano. How did you guys hook up with him?
Chris: He knows our manager, they got talking and he wanted to get involved. He’s been a massive help in the studio. It’s great having Chris’s ideas and he’s a good bloke to be around. We have a really good team of people so the vibe is always good.
RARAsFarm: Was the music of Madness an inspiration? Any other artists?
Chris: Madness along with Dury, The Beatles, Cream, Floyd, Marley, Beefheart, Biggie, The Kinks, Specials, etc, the usual list of legends.
RARAsFarm: I love hearing trombone in a rock song. Why is it so hard to find a band with a trombone player these days?
Chris: We’ve been asking the same thing for years. We started without trombone because we just didn’t know any; over time we’ve met a few and had a few players, and now we have the very talented Tom and lovely Deanna on trumpet full time, so the future will feature some exciting brass.
RARAsFarm: How would you describe a Gorgeous George live show in 10 words or less?
Chris: At the circus, rushing off your tits.
RARAsFarm: What’s your favorite place to play?
Chris: Favorite place I have played is Scala, not only because its a hometown show, but it is a great venue to play.
RARAsFarm: What can we expect on the forthcoming full length album?
Chris: We’ve been stockpiling the tunes, so there is a lot for us to choose from. We will have to play through them all about 100 times and then we might have an idea of how to narrow it down. The live shows are all 100 mph but the album will give us a chance to write a slower, maybe more meaningful song or two. Generally we will keep it high energy, that is who we are – 100 mph.
Within Reason’s David Koonce Chats With RARA’s Farm
We met up with the guys from Within Reason a few months ago at Welcome To Rockville in Jacksonville and they hinted about a big tour announcement. We catch up with bassist David Koonce, for that announcement, their upcoming single release, his role on Ragg Radio and a whole lot more.
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Cretin: First, congratulations on the success of “Enemy,” the first single off of the After The Crawl EP. Looks like it is on the cusp of cracking the Top 40? David Koonce: We’re hoping to be in the Top 40 the week of the 24th.
Cretin: Any parts of the country where it’s doing particularly well? David Koonce: It’s being picked up on active rock stations. Salisbury MD, Charleston SC, Augusta GA, Chicago and Dallas TX – which is a big one. We just got added in Biloxi which is huge because we’re playing that radio station’s festival.
Cretin: What has been the key to the success of this single? Why this one being the one that garners significant airplay for the band? David Koonce: On the record, we know we have three songs that will be singles, “Enemy,” “Here Comes The Light” and “We’ll Have It All.” We’re doing all of this stuff on our own. We’ve started our own label, but we’ve gained some knowledge through the years. For the first single, start with an upbeat rock song to set your foundation and get your name on the map of radio people. “Enemy” is just a straight rock ‘n roll song that’s easy for stations to add.
Cretin: So, not to jump too far ahead, but what are the plans for the follow-up single? David Koonce: “Here Comes The Light” will be the second single.
Cretin: And you directed the new video, right? David Koonce: My company actually finished it and it’s kind of out now but we haven’t officially been pushing it. When the song drops in October, that video will be pushed pretty hard. What’s crazy is that it actually got selected into a film festival here in Birmingham. That’s kind of a big deal for a film maker.
Cretin – Take a sneak peek at the excellent video and the forthcoming single:
Cretin: Last time we chatted, you hinted about a big tour announcement. Looks like you were referencing Uproar? David Koonce: Yes it was, the Uproar Festival (The full tour schedule is provided below the interview)
Cretin: Any specific Uproar acts who you are excited about sharing the bill with? David Koonce: I’m excited about Seether. A lot of the bands on the tour we’ve played with before. We’ve done a bunch of shows with Redlight King (who have recently canceled their participation in Uproar), and I don’t even know how many Pop Evil and Buckcherry shows. Seether guys are really fun and I’m a big fan; I’ll be excited to see them play every night. The first time we did Uproar, POD was the band who stole it, that’s one band I’d watch every night, but overall that tour is so much fun.
Cretin: Which city or venue are you most looking forward to playing on the tour? David Koonce: I’m excited to do Dallas, it’s always a fun one to do. Tampa’s a fun. We haven’t done Biloxi before so that will be new. Oklahoma City is a big place for us; we kind of cut our teeth as a real touring band there.
Cretin: You mentioned Tampa – you’ll be there on August, 30th. David Koonce: Yeah, Tampa is cool. That venue is so sweet, too.
Cretin: So, you had a brief break between tours. Did the band have an opportunity to write or record any new music? David Koonce: If everything gets finished we’re going to debut a new song in our set on the Uproar Tour. It’s written, we just need to polish it and get it stage ready. We’ve got almost a full record ready. A few of the songs we play now, I notice we play totally different from the time where we wrote them. Songs morph into something else over time. We’re just going to be playing the new songs live. Two things will happen. The song will grow into what it needs to be for the record; and when the record is ready to come out, people will know the song a little bit more.
Cretin: So who does the writing for Within Reason? David Koonce: It’s a collective process. We did our first record all on our Blackberries. We’d sing or play on our phones and send to the other person. A lot of stuff on this one; we’d just throw ideas at each other in passing, or sitting around waiting for a show or sound checking. We’d throw a riff at somebody and they’d go home and play with it. A lot of times Chris (Dow) will send me something, and I feel I write differently; I think I see things backwards from the way he does. It definitely is a collective effort. I like that because it keeps everybody involved in it. Everybody has different influences that shine through the song. Some are brought to the table mostly complete, but I’d say 80 percent of it is a collective effort.
Cretin: When I saw you guys in Jacksonville, guitarist Chase Davidson seemed new to the band. Is he part of the writing process, too? David Koonce: He has been for the new record, yeah.
Cretin: I heard you also have a side gig working on Ragg radio. Tell us a little about that? David Koonce: It’s kind of a cool story. Ragg radio is an internet station owned by Robbie Ragg. When I was a kid in Birmingham, there was a radio station called I95, and it was like the best radio station in the world, maybe because I grew up here. And Robby Ragg was the key to that station.
Cretin: Interesting. David Koonce: He went through the whole transition from when DJs could control their music to the corporate world. And every year he had less and less ability to do things. So he just decided to say ‘fuck it, I’m going to start my own station.’ I’d go over there and I’d mess around with him on the radio. And one day I asked him how he added new music and thought I could help him find bands that we’ve played with a lot. And that kind of turned into him wanting to give me a show where I could premiere new bands.
Cretin: So, when can we hear you? David Koonce: 7-11 every night. He gave me four hours a day where I can do anything I want on the radio… And, he’s going to let me take it on the road for Uproar. Just every day in whatever city we wake up in, I’m just going to set up and go grab somebody from a band that I know. Do an interview, talk about corn dogs and stuff, or whatever.
Cretin: That’s pretty damn cool. David Koonce: We tried to come up with a cool name for it and I was being kind of arrogant and cocky and fucking around with him and I said “since it’s the best show on your station, we should just call it The Show.'” So we named it The Show. So, we’re saying we’re taking “The Show” on the road.
Cretin: That’s a great connection. That should make it fun for a lot of people. David Koonce: Yeah. I think what makes it fun for me is that I’m Not trying to be famous radio personality, I’m just trying to do it for the fun.
Cretin: Do you play active rock on the show? David Koonce: Man, it’s everything. He (Ragg) said, “Play whatever you want, just don’t play anything stupid, nothing too poppy.” Most of it is just rock. A lot of it is stuff that you just don’t hear on the radio anymore because they’re pushing certain bands… Once an hour a get to do a break that’s new bands you’ve probably never heard of or they’re an up and coming band.
An up and coming rock band? Sounds familiar. Check out Within Reason’s current EP below and make sure you catch them on the Uproar Festival this summer.
Follow / Like Us while you are here for more information as Uproar approaches…
Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival
Fri 08/15/14 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sat 08/16/14 Peru, IL Illinois Valley Regional Airport
Sun 08/17/14 Cincinnati, OH PNC Pavilion At Riverbend
Tue 08/19/14 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
Wed 08/20/14 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
Fri 08/22/14 Syracuse, NY New York State Grandstand
Sat 08/23/14 Mount Pocono, PA Mount Airy Casino Resort
Sun 08/24/14 Noblesville, IN Klipsch Music Center
Tue 08/26/14 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
Wed 08/27/14 Gilford, NH Meadowbrook
Fri 08/29/14 Simpsonville, SC Charter Amphitheatre
Sat 08/30/14 Tampa, FL MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Sun 08/31/14 Gulfport, MS Jones Park
Tue 09/02/14 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre At Grand Prairie
Wed 09/03/14 Corpus Christi, TX Concrete Street Amphitheater
Fri 09/05/14 Bonner Springs, KS Cricket Wireless Amphitheater
Sat 09/06/14 Sioux City, IA Tyson Events Ctr. / Gateway Arena
Sun 09/07/14 Oklahoma City, OK Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre
Tue 09/09/14 Broomfield, CO 1stBank Center
Thu 09/11/14 Post Falls, ID Greyhound Park & Event Center
Fri 09/12/14 Auburn, WA White River Amphitheatre
Tue 09/16/14 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Wed 09/17/14 Las Vegas, NV The Joint @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Sat 09/20/14 Albuquerque, NM Isleta Amphitheater
After a recent show in Central Florida, we caught up with Smile Empty Soul’s talented drummer Jake Kilmer, and share a RARA’s Six PAck. For those of you new to the website, our six packs, are six quick fun interview questions, and once in awhile (like this time) share with a drink in our hand.
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We got together on a beautiful Spring night in Jacksonville just before the sun set over the St. Johns River. Kilmer, sipping his Bud was a friendly, fun guy. Check it out for yourself.
Cretin: Who were your influences as a drummer? Jake Kilmer: (without hesitation) Dave Grohl Cretin: How about his current drummer, Taylor Hawkins? Jake Kilmer: He’s a bad ass. Before Taylor Hawkins, Grohl locked me into wanting to wanting to be a rocker. Before that I liked Ringo Starr. I loved the drumming from the Beatles, but when you hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” you just want to (go crazy). And, Ringo Starr was a great drummer for The Beatles. He sang as well, but he had some great drum parts.
Cretin: If you could tour with any one band, which band would it be? Jake Kilmer: Deftones. They’re a good group. Saw them with Alice In Chains.
Cretin: If you weren’t a drummer, what would you be doing with your life? Jake Kilmer: Engineering? I don’t know, I like technical stuff.
Cretin: Favorite city to play? Jake Kilmer: Besides Jacksonville? I don’t have one. The United States is bad ass; there are great people in clubs all over the place.
Cretin: What’s your favorite cover song? Jake Kilmer: “Aneurysm” by Nirvana. We cover that one and you can find it on-line, it’s a great one.
Check it out – it’s worth a Google search. Jake’s drums are killer and Sean Danielsen (Guitar) and Ryan Martin (bass) tear it up, too.
Cretin: What’s your favorite song to play live? Jake Kilmer: “Black ‘n Blue” off of our new record, track one.
Bastille has capitalized on the smashing success of their recent release, Bad Blood to headline a Sold Out tour of the United States. Their support for the tour? A band familiar to both Bastille and RARA’s Farm, an act on the cusp of breaking through, London’s Wolf Gang. We caught up with uber-talented Wolf Gang frontman Max McElligott to chat about the tour, their new album and a few other interesting things.
Cretin: Max, when we first saw you a few years back at the Social, I loved the show, and your charisma. Max: Thank you.
Cretin: At that time, it seemed as though the rest of the band was just starting to come into a groove as a band, and it was almost more of your project. Since then, has it been the same group of guys in the band? Max: Yeah, even before that point where you had seen us, we were playing together as a band for two or three years. It’s always been the same guys. When you saw us, I was still signed as a solo project, but I was playing with the same group of guys, James, Gavin and Lasse, and we had formed into a band.
Cretin: On the Suego Faults album, you played all the instruments?
Max: I did, I hopped about from the drum kit to the piano, etc. This time out, everyone was putting in their own effort. It’s cool. On this last record, (Black River) everyone got a vote.
Cretin: Which is good because you get more creative spark. Max: Yeah it’s just nice to hear the different personalities, which you hear on the record. We sound much more like a band.
Cretin: Are you still doing the primary writing? Max: It’s shared. James (Wood the bassist) also contributed quite heavily, so it’s a mixture.
Cretin: The new EP is out. Will we hear these songs on the forthcoming full-length album? Max: The album is all done, and those three are on the album. So that’s a taste of what can be expected, but there’s still another seven or eight songs that will be on (Black River).
Cretin: On Suego Faults all of the songs came together nicely, almost like it was a concept album. Was that the plan? Max: Yeah, there was a theme that ran through it. A dreamy, ethereal type experience, a romantic one, I feel. And, this next album also has a theme to it, but it’s more grounded in reality and our own experiences. It’s almost as though you’ve woken up from that dreamy ethereal Suego Faults experience. This is much more like the real world, but still with notions of romanticism but just a little more realistic about the lives we are living and friends of ours are living and that you reach in the late twenties; people questioning the paths in their lives, so it’s a little more autobiographical in a real way I suppose.
Cretin: A lot of the great albums over time were written by band members of that age. It’s a fertile time for writing. Max: Yeah
Cretin: So how has the sound changed in the last two years, any noticeable changes? Will we still hear that same Wolf Gang? Max: Well, you’ll hear tonight, I guess. I think it feels obviously a little more bandy and maybe a little more raw, and there will still be synthetic elements and sort of atmospherics, but maybe that’s been reined in a little bit. I think vocally I’ve pushed myself a bit more and I might sound a bit more truthful to my voice. I absolutely loved the last album and this is just slightly different, but I love it equally.
Cretin: So how did you end up touring with Bastille? Max: So, funny enough, maybe seven or eight years ago, I used to go down to Brighton, a town about an hour South of London, and I’d play these acoustic nights and Dan from Bastille was kind of doing the same thing. So we actually played together in small pubs long before Bastille existed and long before Wolf Gang existed. It’s actually very nice and quite surreal to be out here and seeing Bastille absolutely smashing and to be playing these big stages with them and to think we were just two young boys trying to pursue some kind of career in music. So it was really nice to support them. They’re a great band and they’re all lovely guys.
Cretin: Perseverance has paid off for both bands. It’s nice to see that success for both of you. You realize you’ve sold out tonight? Max: Bastille sold out tonight.
Cretin: We’ve been giving Wolf Gang great props because you guys are so great live. I think everyone coming out is going to enjoy you guys, as well. Max: It’s been going damn well. It’s a good support, because it seems that the guys coming out to see Bastille have seemed to be appreciative of our music. On Twitter the feedback has been real positive.
Cretin: Your Twitter has exploded in the past few months. Max: It’s nice when you actually have something to be promoting and talking about and you’re actually doing something. The whole last year was sort of a hibernating period of just writing and recording. But now that we’re out on the road again and meeting people and shaking hands and taking photos and playing for them and hearing what they think of the new songs. It’s nice to have that activity going on again.
Cretin: Will we see you back in the States this year? Max: We’ll be back I think in the summer. Maybe hit the West Coast. We try to spend as much time in America as we can.
Cretin: When are we going to see the new album released. Max: Realistically the album will probably be coming out late summer, maybe September time. I think because we’ve been outside the game writing and recording, we wanted to build that up again and get people excited about us.
Cretin: Anything we’ll hear tonight from the new album? Max: Yeah, plenty of new material
Cretin: Excellent, looking forward to it. Max: Great to see you again.
And from there, they hit the stage, and killed it… again. Watch for this talented, quickly rising band in your city, and in the meantime, check out our show review from a few weeks ago: Wolf Gang Orlando Concert Review.
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Prepping for Welcome To Rockville, I did some exam week style cramming. I listened to 40+ bands trying to identify the dozen or so that I was most interested in covering. There were a bunch that I listened to often, others that I was fairly familiar with and then a handful I didn’t know at all, but whose music caught my attention. Within Reason was one of those bands fresh on my radar, but one that made a quick and lasting positive impression.
The talented rockers from Alabama opened the main stage at the festival with a killer set, that had the crowd thoroughly engaged, and left me impressed. I caught up with Chris Dow (vocals), David Koonce (bass) and Chase Davidson (guitar) backstage shortly after they closed their powerful set.
Cretin: You just releases your new single. “Enemy.” And despite the fact that you’ve been playing for years, you’ve decided to release this one all your self. Tell me a little bit about that decision? Chris: I think we all got into music to get out of corporate America. Why would we want to sign a deal with these massive conglomerates who tell us how to do our work, take all of that money when we could figure it out on our own?
Cretin: You lose a lot of control, and potential profit. Chris: First off, record labels only exist because of the bands. I’ve never known a band who have said good things about their label.
Cretin: Sounds familiar. I talk to more and more bands going the Indie route. But you guys have really done it your own way. Your own label with total control over everything. Will you have other bands on this label? David: Maybe somewhere down the road, but right now we don’t want to take anything away from our band. Chris: If we had the funding and saw a band that we really liked, we could put some money behind them and basically put all of the resources we’ve put together behind them. (smiles) But right now, we’re focused on us.
Cretin: That’s perfect. YOu work your asses, you guys bear the fruits of your labor. So, the After The Crawl EP is great, love the powerful rock sound. They songs are all a little bit different, but the last song is really different. Tell us about it. Chris: It’s a Justin Timberlake and 50 Cent cover. (“Ayo Technology” – which is linked below) Chase: Our old sound check song. David: When we played it love, people were telling us ‘you should record it.” So we did. A lot of people liked it, and we put it on the record.
Cretin: The new single, “Enemy” is about to hit the airwaves. What radio stations and rock genres are you targeting for airplay? Chase: All of them. Chris: I think Kid Rock had it all figured out. If you think about it, he’s been on every genre of radio. He’s been on rock, rap, country, hot AC and pop. But, right now, I think our single will start on active rock.
Cretin: What’s up next for you guys? Any touting this summer. Chris: We’ll be touring, and we’ve talked to a few bands that are here at this festival. We’ll also be playing a huge event later in the summer that hasn’t been announced yet (so stay tuned for that).
This talented quartet out of Birmingham, has quite the bright future. They write distinctive active rock with catchy hooks, put on a strong show, and are driven by a passionate love for their craft: rock music. But, it’s a tough business and even more challenging when you strike out on your own. These likeable, talented musicians have a chance to breakthrough soon. Make sure you check out their music; you’ll be happy you did, and you might be making a difference in their future.
I recently met Adam Cohen, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the Vinyl Kicks and he passed me a copy of his upcoming EP, Ambitions Don’t Age Well. I didn’t think much of the encounter at the time but once I listened to the EP my entire perspective changed. Adam and The Vinyl Kicks are doing something wonderful for the music world, and more specifically, the Florida music scene. After reviewing the album and listening to it countless times since, I decided to pick at Adam’s brain and interview him about the new album, his inspiration, and music in general.
RARAs Farm: Adam, we know you’re the lead vocalist of The Vinyl Kicks and you are largely responsible for writing the lyrics. Where do you get your inspiration from when writing songs for the Vinyl Kicks? Adam Cohen: I guess a lot of my inspiration comes from life experience. My main objective most of the time is to paint a picture in your mind of what’s going on in the song, I really try to write in a way that isn’t too direct to one specific thing, or one specific scenario so everyone can take it in a way that makes sense to them. Writing something that everyone can relate to but with an underlying message I think is pretty important.
RARAs Farm: How would you describe the band’s sound? Adam Cohen: It sounds like 5 people that come from mostly all different musical back rounds. You have a little bit of everything and It’s hard to explain, but I love it.
RARAs Farm: As a vocalist, who are some of your biggest influences? Why? Adam Cohen: I mean I’m not so much influenced by other vocalist because I am very into doing what I want to do. To be honest I just kind of sing and, I feel it’s a very organic sound in a sense because I’m just up there doing my thing; if you like it, that’s awesome, and if you don’t… Hey that’s okay too!, but there are vocalist’s that I definitely admire, for example I’m a big fan of the classics like Robert Plant, Jimi Hendrix, Roger Waters, Van Morrison, and I have to throw in Mick Jagger, of course John Lennon, Don Henley, Tom Petty, going back even more Ray Charles is amazing, too. For the more modern vocalists, I have to say Alex Turner. He’s got it all in terms of originality, same goes for Kevin Parker of Tame Impala. Of course Julian Casablancas, going back a little Thom Yorke, Luke Prichard of the Kooks, Russell Marsden, James Mercer, again there’s so many awesome vocalists out there.
RARAs Farm: Do you think the band has matured since the release of The Vinyl Kicks first EP, Almost Young? Adam Cohen: We’ve definitely matured in every aspect, I think we all just kind of put our influences aside, and played the music we want to play. As to the last record, we did our own thing, but we for sure had our influences in mind a lot more. We all have improved so much as musicians in this past year and I think I’ve matured as a writer. The lyrics in the first record were a lot younger sounding and light hearted. On this record the lyrics are a little played out better, and deeper.
RARAs Farm: What are some of the struggles you faced when putting together Ambitions Don’t Age Well? Adam Cohen: Ahhh struggles… I know I kind of went off my rocker a little bit to say the least.. I just loved what we had been putting together. We didn’t really go into this record with the intentions of writing another EP. We just had that moment where we decided we need to record these songs; we were making because we loved them, and they were getting really good crowd response when we’d play them live. It just felt right. Going back to what I was saying about me going a little crazy; I was so passionate about this record that when I was going back and writing lyrics, tweaking different parts, I didn’t want this to be a sophomore slump; I wanted this to in our own eyes, and hopefully in the eyes of others for this to be a breakthrough, and transitioning EP as a group. I think we accomplished that for ourselves at least.
RARAs Farm: I noticed that the band has a strong online presence. How has the internet helped to get your sound out there? Adam Cohen: The internet is everything now-a-days especially if you’re a musician. We promote our music every chance we get. I know for me I get the most fulfillment that people are actually just listening to our stuff, that to me is the coolest part. It’s pretty surreal when I see people at our shows singing our lyrics, and dancing around, but I guess the internet did a lot for us organically, too. It still blows me away when we get random “Likes” on Facebook from people in England, Australia, different parts of South America, I even saw one from the Philippines which I thought was pretty awesome. Technology still continues to blow me away everyday just how much we have to work with. It’s unbelievable.
RARAs Farm: I know you guys have a music video in the works; When will the music video be released and where can we find it? Adam Cohen: Our music video for our single “Parachute” will be out in late May and it’ll be on YouTube, and Vimeo, and you know we are going to post it to Reddit. We love Reddit. Also it’ll be on our page for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
RARAs Farm: Do you guys have any shows booked or tours coming up to show case the new music? Adam Cohen: We actually have a lot coming up gearing towards the summer. We are starting our tour with our EP release show June 28th in Miami, FL with Dinosaurs and Disasters, they’re awesome by the way definitely check them out. We are mainly doing the Southeast this summer trying to get up North a little, and out West but we are always down for adventures along the way, so stay posted because there could be a lot of unexpected shows along the way. We post everything on our Facebook page as far as shows, tours, everything and you can find that at facebook.com/thevinylkicks.
RARAs Farm: Tell me something about The Vinyl Kicks that most people don’t know. Adam Cohen: Oh man… too many things, most people don’t know about our awesome Catapella side project. We kind of keep that to ourselves, You know??
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A decade ago, three brash young Californians exploded onto the Alt-Rock scene with a smashing breakthrough single “Bottom of the Bottle.” Their first release peaked inside the Top 10 and they were on everyone’s list of band’s to watch. But then, they seemed to slip off the Alt-Rock radar.
Were they a one-hit wonder bereft of potential? No, far from it. The rock music business is a fickle one, record companies are unpredictable, and radio stations schizophrenic. While the trio still churned out excellent music, they lost some of their presence. But, fortunes are changing, and the trio is again on the cusp of big things.
We recently caught up with talented drummer Jake Kilmer after a rousing set in front of a few thousand rabid fans at hard rock’s premier music festival, Welcome To Rockville in Jacksonville. The band symbolically kicked off the set with “Black and Blue,” the title track off of their latest release; then powered through a nice sampling of their past decade of music, both new and old.
We took a few moments to chat about the band’s latest project, and their plans for this summer, shortly after they left the stage.
RARAsFarm: So, you guys had a big crowd out there. What did you think of the Jacksonville fans during your set? Jake Kilmer: I thought they were into it. There was some good energy there. I got an awesome picture with the guys in it and the crowd in the background, we had a lot of fun.
RARAsFarm – here’s the photo Jake referenced, and it is pretty damn good (we’ll provide our link to their show photos below)
RARAsFarm: You’ve been together for about ten years now, and just released your sixth album, Chemicals, how’s it doing? Jake Kilmer: It’s going good and fans dig it. They know more and more songs each day. Our second single “Chemicals” is out on Sirius XM’s Octane and it’s being picked up on radio stations all around the country.
RARAsFarm: You mention Octane, and truthfully there’s parts of Florida with no good rock stations, so Octane is where I hear most of these Welcome To Rockville bands. Has it become an important station for a band’s success these days? Jake Kilmer: Now it is, sure; Sirius XM’s Octane is bad ass, because it’s nationwide. If you’re on there, you are doing something right because you’re pleasing them.
RARAsFarm: What are your plans for the summer? Jake Kilmer: We’ll be touring. We just put a shitload of dates on our SmileEmptySoul.com site. We’re going all over.
RARAsFarm: Are you guys just focused on touring, or making new music now? Jake Kilmer: We’re just focused on touring. Sean’s always been writing. Collectively we all work on the tunes together to put them together, but he’s the songwriter. I’m sure he’s been writing a bunch. It’s never been hard for Smile to get together and produce new material; it’s only been hard to get the right label team who aren’t douchebags, to become a part of the team and support us.
RARAsFarm: It sounds like you have a lot of company. A bunch of bands I speak to are facing the same challenges. Jake Kilmer: That’s why it’s bad ass that we’re doing our own thing label-wise. We’re in control and that’s why we didn’t come back so fast. We got off that label because they didn’t do shit. We found a new opportunity with a friend of ours willing to invest. We put together this team, found a great radio team and publicist, and we’ve been working hard at it. And, we’re not going anywhere.
RARAsFarm: Well, the new stuff sounded great today and it was nice to hear, and you guys killed it live. Hopefully we’ll see you again soon on the East Coast. Jake Kilmer: Cheers. Thank you.
Check out the latest Smile Empty Soul album below. It’s jammed with solid straight-forward American alt-rock, and some of their best stuff in years.
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Interview With Todd Frocellina
Insights on Managing a Rock Band
I’ve always been as interested in music as I am in writing; and in the summer of 2012 I thought I would do my best to combine my two interests. At the time, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the Polk county based band, Chasing Thrill, and I knew I wanted to write about them. Through a friend of a friend, I was able to meet the guys in the band and we hit it off pretty quickly. I knew that I wanted to write a piece on the band but hadn’t decided what exactly it was that I wanted to write until I learned that the band was about to make a road trip to New York City to stay with their manager and play a show at the legendary Gramercy Theatre.
During the trip, I met Todd Forcellina, Chasing Thrill’s band manager and was instantly fascinated with the way in which he managed the band. Todd was precise and calculated in everything he did, but he never forgot to have fun. I think I was most surprised to see how much work goes into making a band successful. It was when I met Todd that I learned that making good music is only half the battle to becoming a successful band.
It only seems natural that when I sat down to compose an interview for RARASFARM, Todd would be the first person I would turn to with questions about the rock industry.
(Q) What first got you into managing bands?
(A) I have been on the performance side of the business since I was 16. But I have always had an interest in the industry itself. One of my best friends who had been working for a major label asked if I would be interested in starting a management company with him to see if we could help bands along this very difficult business to navigate; something we never had when we were trying to land a deal.
(Q) What are some of your responsibilities as a band manager?
(A) When a band doesn’t have the luxury of multiple departments at a label taking care of everything, my job basically includes doing EVERYTHING except performing! It includes booking shows and trying to gather interest in the band from venues to booking agents who can help spread the fan base. It includes working on merchandise, promotion, and just being a general cheerleader to make sure they are doing everything they need to do on their end like, practicing, writing , promoting, performing or even getting enough rest.
(Q 1) Can you list some of the bands you have managed?
(A) Sure, International recording artist PJ Pacifico who I also drum for, Chasing Thrill a band out of Orlando, The Third Rail, a cover band and a new band called The Broadcast Hearts out of Connecticut, who we are looking at possibly taking on. They produced a very unique video that has gotten some great response.
(Q) How would you describe your personal relationship with the bands you manage?
(A) They are like my family. The bands that I have played in personally are still to this day my best friends. The bands that I manage become like my own kids. I have had multiple bands stay at my home for weeks at a time while they are out on tour in the East Coast area. I am honest to a fault with them always telling them exactly how I feel. Sometimes they listen, sometimes they don’t. I guess it is no different than having real kids.
(Q) What advice would you give to someone looking to start managing a band?
(A) It is a lot of work! If the band is looking to get farther than just playing the local scene, it should be someone other than the friend who can’t play an instrument, so he or she decides to be the manager. It is a rewarding job but you better be able to multi-task and be able to deal with different personalities. Also, be able to deal with record industry types who are generally looking to try and take advantage of hungry young kids. I would say a must read for anyone looking to get into this part of the industry is “All You Need To Know About The Music Business” by Donald Passman. It was given to me to read before I started out and it is invaluable.
(Q) A lot of band members look up to legendary performers. Are there any legendary band managers that you looked up to?
(A) Sure first one I can think of is Brian Epstein who managed the Beatles one of my favorite bands of all time. Also I would say Bill Aucoin who managed KISS for many many years. Today there is Doc McGhee who has managed everyone from Bon Jovi to Motley Crue to KISS. They are very successful at what they do or did and are just in the spotlight enough, but not so much to take away from the artist they represent.
(Q) I know you’ve worked closely with the central Florida based band Chasing Thrill. How did you first discover that band?
(A) My partner in Blitz Management has a relative from their hometown. She had told us that there was this popular local band and wanted to know if we would be interested. She then sent us the CD and press kit and we kind of took over from there.
(Q) Once you discovered Chasing Thrill, what attracted you to them?
(A) I will never forget, we listened to their debut EP “Promises” in my partner’s office. It wasn’t like the music was so ground breaking or different that we thought this band was a no-brainer, but we could not get over how well the songs were produced with having no backing from a label, plus the vocals were so strong, the melodies and hooks were unbelievable, the guitar playing and drumming was so solid, plus they had “the look”, the look of a band ready for the road. My partner went to go see them when they were in the Connecticut area. He told me that Josh (the lead singer) was sick and that the sound system in the club was awful and that they didn’t sound that great that night. But he did speak to the entire band after they were done and he felt they all had the right attitude and there was something there we could work with. When they got back to Florida at a venue they played all the time, we flew down to see them. The place was packed, the kids knew the words to every song, the band was super tight and sounded incredible and the energy in the room was undeniable. We knew we wanted to sign them and within a month we did. The problem with Chasing Thrill was that I think they thought because one of their managers was a big deal at a major label it was going to be a walk in the park signing a label deal. That is not the case. It still takes hard work, building a fan base and constantly writing new material until something sticks. At some point in time it became apparent that we wanted it more than the band did, and when that happens you can forget it. They are still to this day some of the most talented kids I know and the songs are still what I listen to on a regular basis. I just wish they could all take their heads out of their you know what and realize that they had something very special.
(Q) What role does social media play in band promotion?
(A) Social media is HUGE. I will be the first to admit I don’t know all the ins and outs of the latest things that media has to offer. Once again when a band gets on a label so much of that is taken care of for them. Hell, back in the day when I was playing 3 or 4 shows a week there was no Myspace, Facebook, Twitter. No Pandora, iTunes, Youtube….NOTHING. We would sit around a coffee table in our band house printing out flyers and spent days driving around town hanging them up everywhere to promote our gigs. We would print up hundreds of postcards that had our gig schedule on them and stamp them ourselves spending all our money on hundreds of stamps to send out to our mailing list! To get a label to listen to you, you had to actually send you material to the label in hopes that someone would listen to it and not just throw it in the trash or a pile with hundreds of other cassette tapes. It has changed so so much. It is so much easier now to build a fan base, but that is still the most important thing for a band, maybe even more than the quality of their songs, is building that fan base so a label can’t ignore you.
(Q) Fill in the blanks with words that you believe describe your overall experience working with rock bands.
(A) Satisfying, tiring, fun, enlightening, and rock n’ roll.
(Q) I think there’s a general belief that front men are prima donnas. Any truth behind that?
(A) I guess. I can only say that with Josh (Chasing Thrill) he needed the most attention. He is a strange guy for sure, but a real sweet guy. I still believe he could be one of the best front men in rock if he would just go for it.
(Q) Would you rather have managed Guns n’ Roses or KISS? Why?
(A) KISS. I could not deal with all the drugs that came with Guns. KISS had in the past a couple members who had issues with drugs and alcohol but for the most part Gene and Paul just always had a vision and never lost focus on what they wanted and how they were going to get there. Don’t get me wrong, GNR was a great band and I am sure would have been fun to manage as well, but KISS are more than a band, they are a business, a franchise and have taken what started as four guys from NYC starving to make it to becoming basically a part of the American fabric. Think about it. There is nowhere you can go in the world and if you show the KISS logo or the makeup that someone doesn’t know who it is.
(Q) I know that you recently had your first kid. Has that affected your band managing at all?
(A) Having my son Jett has made my life complete. He is already a little rock and roller. The only thing that it has affected with anything I do in my life, not just band managing is that HE comes first along with my wife, everything else comes 2nd. End of story.
(Q) Do you have any exciting things in the works for the rest of 2014?
(A) Musically I am just playing my drums and happy to be able to do it with my busy schedule. Spend as much time with my wife Emilie and my son Jett, do some traveling, etc. I will also say again I have my eye on this band The Broadcast Hearts from Trumbull, CT. they are making some noise up around this area. They got their video on VH1 And MTV with no help from anyone including me. They are young, determined and focused and that is exactly what I look for in a band that I might want to get involved with.