Asking AlexandriaBy Greg Rothstein

Asking Alexandria
By Greg Rothstein

Asking AlexandriaBy Greg Rothstein

Asking Alexandria
By Greg Rothstein

50 STATES/COLORADO: THE PHOTO ATLAS

Photo courtesy of The Photo Atlas

About the band

Members: Alan Andrews (vocals/guitar), Mark Hawkins (bass), Bill Threlkeld III (guitar)
Hometown: Denver
Formed in: 2007
Genre: Indie/Dance/Punk

What’s your local scene like?
Our local music scene in Denver is fantastic. Every night there are great shows going on and it’s a very supportive scene. It is a very eclectic scene: indie rock, metal, punk rock, pop, hip hop - there’s really something for everyone. There’s really no Denver sound, we do it all. Which can be good and bad. But everyone is very hard working and passionate.

Which bands or musicians influence you the most, and how does that play out in your music?
Recently I’ve been listening to letlive., Cloud Nothings and RX Bandits. But my favorites will always be At The Drive In, Fugazi, Foals and Death From Above 1979. I mostly listen to weird punk bands. I like music that moves you. Either to dance or jump up and down just get wild and have fun. That, I think shows in the music we write. I guess we’re always looking for a way to connect with people. And get people to move and have fun. 

What’s your dream tour package which includes your band?
Dream tour lineup if we’re talking current bands would be Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, The Photo Atlas. If we’re talking dream lineup of all time, At The Drive In, The Faint, The Photo Atlas.

Where do you hope to see the band in one year’s time?
In the next year, I hope we’re touring somewhere in Europe with a new album out laughing and dancing

Find The Photo Atlas here:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photoatlas
Twitter: @ThePhotoAtlas
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/photoatlasmusic
Other: http://www.reverbnation.com/thephotoatlas

NEEDED: PHOTOGRAPHERS

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If you missed out the last time ABScream was recruiting, you still have a chance to join our team! We’re looking for a few talented photographers to add to our team here at ABScream Media. 

We really need someone in California or the Midwest, and someone on the East Coast would be great.

Requirements:
-Must have a portfolio of concert photography OR be studying photography at college level
-Must be able to cover one show each month, though this obviously also depends on tour routings
-Must be committed to working for the ABScream Media team

If this sounds like you, please email abscreammedia@gmail.com with the following:
-Name
-Age
-City, state
-Closest venues to you
-List of favorite bands and musicians
-Link to portfolio

NEEDED: PHOTOGRAPHERS

If you missed out the last time ABScream was recruiting, you still have a chance to join our team! We’re looking for a few talented photographers to add to our team here at ABScream Media. 

We really need someone in California or the Midwest, and someone on the East Coast would be great.

Requirements:
-Must have a portfolio of concert photography OR be studying photography at college level
-Must be able to cover one show each month, though this obviously also depends on tour routings
-Must be committed to working for the ABScream Media team

If this sounds like you, please email abscreammedia@gmail.com with the following:
-Name
-Age
-City, state
-Closest venues to you
-List of favorite bands and musicians
-Link to portfolio

INTERVIEW: PENTIMENTO

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By Shandana Mufti

Right before the band’s gig at Cambridge’s Middle East last month, Shandana Mufti caught up with Pentimento drummer Mike Hansen to talk about social media, songwriting and hopes for what the future holds.

Vocalist/guitarist Jeramiah Pauly, bassist Vincent Caito and guitarist Lance Claypool round out the band’s line-up.

ABScream Media: You’re almost at the end of this tour, four shows to go. How’s it been?
Mike Hansen: This tour has been a lot better than we anticipated. We’ve been actively touring for the better part of two, two and a half years now, so it was an experience that we were looking forward to, to kind of gauge where our band is at draw-wise in different spots on the East Coast. It’s not a support tour. We’re on tour with Have Mercy and it’s a rotating headliner. This is like, how well are our bands doing? How much can we draw? The shows have been awesome. Some days are better than others, of course, but that’s to be expected. Being on the road with Gates and Have Mercy has been a really cool experience. The guys in all those bands are just incredible dudes. Best tour of all time, for us at least.

ABS: So where is the band?
MH: I have no idea. I just meant in terms of – are kids actually going to show up to these shows? That’s pretty much what it was. None of us have any illusions about the size of our band. We’re still a small band doing our best to push forward. It’s been a surprise to see how many kids are coming out and singing along. We’re still trying to grow but it’s been a lot better than we thought it would be. We all of course feared that nobody was going to show up, so the fact that people are actually coming is amazing. The draws are all between 100-200 every night. It’s more than we thought it would be, so it’s exciting. This is going to be a great segway into whatever the band does next tour-wise or recording-wise. 

ABS: Any standout moments from this tour so far?
MH: New York City. That show was packed out and you know, they say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. That was definitely the most nerve-wracking show for me. We’ve played New York City a lot and every time it’s been cool, but we always come through on a support tour – maybe there’s some kids that are coming for our band, some kids that’ll sing along, but it’s never a room of people. This time, it was a full room of people for us and Have Mercy and Gates. To be able to do that sort of thing was like – wow. We’re in New York City on a Friday night, there’s a million things going on, anybody could be doing anything. That was incredible. Philadelphia was the same way because it was a super early show on a date where there were four other shows happening which were all very much in the same vein. It just seems like kids give a shit. It’s been special for sure.

ABS: You guys are really big on social media, which I’d guess contributes to people showing up. Does that take up a lot of time?
MH: Does it take up time? Sure. But I never feel like, ‘Oh, I gotta go on Twitter now, see you in two hours.’ It’s more or less like, if people are going to give us the time of day, then they deserve the interaction. That’s the least we could do as a band. Some bands get away with not doing it and that’s cool, I respect it. We are not a band that has a lot of mystique. There’s been a lot of people that have come up to us on this tour and past tours to talk about how much they appreciate that sort of thing. I know that whenever I was given the time of day by some guy in a band, I thought it was the coolest thing. Totally made my day. We have a platform for that now which is the strangest thing in the world – that people even care enough to give us that sort of a thing, the fact that people even would want to interact or ask us questions – I just think that deserves a response. It’s never a problem. I know that people get a lot of enjoyment out of that interaction and so do we. Whether it’s a laugh or something serious, people find that it’s more comfortable to approach us that way when they have something serious to say to the band.

ABS: I went through a few pages of your Tumblr questions yesterday, and you answer everything. One that stood out was someone thanking you for great sex while they wore one of your hoodies. So – what’s off-limits?
MH: There are definitely questions that we get that I’ll just delete immediately. Some of the things are funny. Some of the stuff I have to gauge – like, this is going to be out there for the public to see. How do I want our band to be perceived? Something like that, where somebody’s like, ‘Hey, I had great sex wearing your hoodie,’ is obviously goofy. I don’t remember exactly what my response was, but I’m sure it was just equally as ridiculous. 

A lot of people like to ask personal questions about what we do at home, family stuff, significant other stuff. As far as that goes, I know all of us feel pretty much the same: that shouldn’t be a factor in why you like a band. It shouldn’t make a difference. It’s about the music. Stuff like that, I tend to ignore because there’s definitely a line between who we are as a band and who we are as people. While there’s a lot of who we are as people that transcends or bleeds through into the band thing, there’s still an element of independence or identity that we all choose to keep up with.

I guess what I’m getting at is there’s definitely things that I don’t feel comfortable answering because it’s about how the band gets portrayed. Is anything off-limits? I’d like to tell you no, but at the end of the day, there’s definitely things that we choose to ignore because it’s just a little too ridiculous or it’s stuff that we don’t feel comfortable sharing. At the end of it all, it’s just about the band. Whatever’s going to represent the band as a whole. If it’s something funny, then that’s cool. But there is definitely stuff that just shouldn’t matter to people. People ask us stuff like our shoe size or if we would ever date somebody who likes the band or shit like that – it’s just weird.

ABS: At what point did you have to start drawing that line?
MH: I think when the band started to receive that kind of attention more often. There was certainly a time when people would ask stuff and it would get responded to, but then I started to be like, ‘Are people gaging these responses and taking that to heart and using that as a factor of whether or not they’re going to listen or continue to support the band?’ It’s a really weird game to play with yourself about what matters and what doesn’t.

ABS: Are you the voice of the band? Your name pops up most in interviews and on social media, and I think you do the lyrics too.
MH: It’s tough to say. We never defined that. The other guys will jump on every once in a while. Lance, for example, is great at capturing moments with his iPhone. I don’t know how the fuck he does it but for whatever reason, as soon as he points his phone at something, it gets instantaneously beautiful. He posts that stuff to Instagram, he’s got a great eye for that sort of thing.

As far as the other stuff goes, it just ended up being the roles that we picked. Vinny’s super involved with the merch stuff. He handles the store, he handles the orders, he does all that and it’s a meticulous job. Jerry handles the booking world. 

I tend to be the social media guy. I focus a lot of time on songwriting and stuff like that, but it’s just kind of how it happened. It was never like, ‘Hey guys, I’m going to write the songs so don’t worry about that. I’ll handle it.’ It’s just the way that it works. I enjoy it but I would never see somebody else post a tweet and be like, ‘Uh, excuse me. I’m the fucking Twitter guy. Don’t you dare.’ It’s never like that. It’s a very fluid relationship between who does what. The division of labor is definitely there and we all pull our weight. As far as the interview stuff goes, I just don’t know where the other guys are. Maybe my ego is just that big secretly.

ABS: You mentioned that this tour was a way of gaging where the band stands. Another answer from a Tumblr question that stood out to me was: “I don’t know that we’ll ever get “big” but regardless, we only have any platform at all because of others.” Is getting big a goal?
MH: I think it would be very naïve of me – it would be a straight up lie – if I was like, ‘No, getting big is not a focus. I don’t think about that at all.’ I think about it every waking second. Everything that we do in the band is fueled by that question of ‘How do we grow?’ I would love to play arenas someday. I would love to be the fucking Foo Fighters or whatever. I genuinely want that. It’s a total pipe dream since we were all teenagers to even do this at all, and as you progress as a band, those goals push forward. I don’t believe in saying we don’t care about that, because we do care about that. It comes across in the way that we carry ourselves as dudes during interviews, on stage, at the merch table. I don’t know why somebody would say that they hope that their band doesn’t achieve that or doesn’t care.

ABS: So what’s the five-year plan?
MH: What we need to figure out is how to write a really great record. We’re working on it. Where do I see us in five years? I would love to tell you selling out 1,000-2,000 cap. rooms. Is that a possibility? If we work hard enough, I believe that it is. But I don’t know. It all falls in the hand of other people. Our success is contingent on doing things that other people really enjoy. That’s not to say that we would ever take steps during out songwriting process to say, ‘OK guys, we’re doing this for the kids! What are they going to like?’ It’s never really that. There’s certainly a level of artistic integrity that I would want to stick with and they would too.

When we’re alone with our private thoughts, it for sure comes down to like, ‘Man, I really wish that we were selling out every date of the tour.’ Of course I wish that. I want that more than anything, but I also want to do it on our own merit. I also want it to be because of the work that we put in by touring consistently or keeping up with social media enough to gain that sort of attention, and most importantly, writing a record that a lot of people care about. The way that things have shifted and changed in the booking world and the touring world because of the advent of the Internet and all those tools, it really is about putting out something great. And maybe it always has been, but I think now more than ever.

 Maintaining relevance too. That’s another game that we play, or maybe every band does – I feel very much like we have to pick and choose what we do. We have to be smart about things. We have to make a strategy behind the tours that we take and the releases that we do. Our most recent EP came out right before we did a tour with Real Friends. We created a cycle to push this new release while we were on tour to hopefully gain interest since we hadn’t put anything out since the full-length. It definitely helped our band grow. Kids are singing those songs more than they’re singing the old stuff.

When I think about it in terms of a five-year plan, it’s all about the glimmer of hope that I see for the band. The things that I cross my fingers for when I think about what I want for the band. I want to tour, I want to write a fucking awesome record, I want to record it with somebody awesome, I want to put it out on a label that’s great, I want them to push it, I want to do a tour around it that’s huge, then I want to do another tour around it that’s huge, and then I want to another tour…I want to do all of these things but first and foremost, I want to write songs that mater to me and to other people because I believe that the shared experience is so important at this point.

ABS: Regarding songwriting, what’s your process? You kick it off, right?
MH: Usually, I have a skeleton of an idea. Either an acoustic demo of it or sometimes I’ll go into our studio space and demo it full band with melody and lyrics and send it to the guys. We start picking it apart from there, everybody adds their input, and at practice we go through it, learn it, and everybody does what they do. It’s very much about providing the skeleton. Everybody peppers in their own parts or we make changes – dramatic or not, could be a little thing, could be totally scrapping an entire idea and coming up with something different.

ABS: Is there any sort of personal attachment that comes with putting the foundation of the song together?
MH: Totally. I get married to these ideas instantly and when other people want to start talking about rearranging stuff…I would like to think and I would hope the other guys would tell you it’s a very easygoing thing. I’ve never puppet-mastered them and been like, ‘No! This is what you do!’ Never like that. It’s always a very open to interpretation sort of thing, and I try to keep a level head at all times about my attitude toward that because I don’t want it to seem like I’m writing these songs, I’m the band, I’m this. Never. The other guys are just as important. Just because I put pen to paper or just because I came up with this chord progression or whatever, doesn’t mean that it’s any more important than what they’re going to do. But there have definitely been times where I’ve been so frustrated because I do a demo and I listen to that demo the same way it is for x amount of months, and it’s like, we’re at practice and now you want to tell me we’re changing this, dude? Are you fucking kidding me?  That’s not what’s coming out but it feels like that.

ABS: Has it gotten easier?
MH: For sure, as the songwriting process has evolved for me as a writer and I figure out more about what I want from songs. It’s all about the journey. It’s never about the destination with songs. It’s just like, you have this idea in your head and how accurately can you represent that now? It’s never going to be perfect, but you can get damn close. That’s the point. Get closer, every time you write a song, to the idea that you have in your head. For me, I feel like it’s at a point where I’m starting to hear things – the full scope – immediately. It’s never just like, ‘Oh, here’s a cool melody’ or ‘Here’s a cool guitar part,’ it’s like I heart the whole thing at once. Now it’s just like, how do I get that out?

ABS: When do the lyrics figure in?
MH: I’m always writing, always keeping a log of thoughts. Recently, I decided that I wasn’t going to put anything on my phone anymore. My problem with a lot of bands is that when I listen to their songs, I hear people that are writing notes in their iPhone and then picking lines that are close enough to the same thing and then putting them together, and then that’s your song.

Where’s the story? Where’s the experience? Where’s the beginning, middle and end? I need that. I want to be involved in what’s going on. I don’t want just a bunch of clever one-liners strung together. I really want to hear the evolution of the song. I want to hear what’s going to happen at the end. How does this pay off? The beginning, middle and end thing – that’s got to be there for me. Those are the songs that I love the most, that tell the story of something. I feel that the most, when it sounds like somebody’s trying to put a cohesive piece together.

I’ll take out a notebook, I’ll write down a whole bunch of stuff and I’ll start circling what I think about those lines are important. Or if it is just one line that comes and I think is clever, I’ll write a whole bunch of stuff about what led me to that idea so I can try and maintain a train of thought and when I want to work it into a song, I have material, something to draw from. A lot of times, it doesn’t really happen automatically where I’m just strumming guitar and then the lyrics come out of nowhere – that certainly has happened, but it becomes more like writing a song and then figuring it out after that. I love to try to piece the lyrics in there to see how it’s going to work. Or I’ll do a chorus and then try to fit in around that. There’s never one way to do it, and if there was, then maybe I’d be a fucking millionaire or something. I don’t know what the formula is.

I don’t know what our band sounds like. I have to figure that out before we do a record because if we’ve made any mistake in the past, it’s that we haven’t really thought that idea through – what does our band sound like? What kind of choices do we make to define what Pentimento is? I don’t think we’ve ever sat down and done that until now, which is probably a good thing. We’ve come this far and I’m really, really proud of the progress that we’ve made, but I think we have to step it up in all departments. I think finding an identity would be a beautiful thing for our band, while still maintaining the whole ‘we’re playing what we love to play’ sort of thing.

ABS: Now that you’re writing for a core audience who’ll buy your new releases, do you find that you have to strike a balance between writing what you want to write and writing what they expect to hear?
MH: That is the hardest thing for me to figure out. That’s the war in my head every time. I finish something and I’m stoked on it, and then I start to question are other people going to enjoy it? And then I’m like, ‘Wait, that shouldn’t matter. You should do what you like.’ But then it’s like if I was doing the shit that only I wanted to hear, I would just sit in my bedroom and play those songs for myself in the mirror and shut up and stop wasting everybody else’s time. Fuck. It’s so hard to figure out. I want people to like it so bad. I don’t want to make choices because I think other people are going to like it. I want to write a song and then think, ‘Dude. Yeah! People are going to be stoked.’ But I can’t go back to the songs people like of ours the most and just do that again. That’s total bullshit. At least people in our world, they just want to know that it’s real. So making it real is the challenge, because figuring out how to be honest with yourself is never easy. Figuring out how to be honest and vulnerable enough and yet confident to put it out to the world is a totally different thing.

ABS: But you can make it universal enough to work.
MH: And that’s the line that I walk writing things. That’s, as a songwriter, where I try to fit. It matters to me and I would love it if it mattered to other people. And trying to write it in a way where you can attach yourself, you can connect, but it’s also not vague. And it’s also very much up to interpretation. I want people to be able to take away their own things even though when I wrote it, it may have been about something. But that always changes over time. Sometimes I don’t know what it’s about until months down the line, and then it clicks and I’m like, ‘Dude, that’s it!’

But striking the balance. It’s definitely part of the songwriting process at this point. At first, it was just like, ‘Dude, let’s just write some songs we think are cool,’ and then it became like, ‘What about choruses? Don’t those matter to people? That’s really the catchiest part of the song, that’s the point you want to drive home. How do we do that?’ That was the struggle on the first record to figure that out and then the EP was very much the same thing, trying to figure that out more. Now, striking a balance between what we like and what we think other people are going to like, that’s a crazy line to walk at all times. It definitely exists. I think about it. I worry about it. What we do matters. What people think of what we do matters. We can’t just be successful. 5,000 people aren’t just going to show up out of nowhere. They have to really like it.

ABS: After all this talk of uncertainty, what’s next for the band?
MH: We have some festival stuff coming up. [Edge Fest] is going to be probably the biggest show we’ve ever played, so that’s going to be really exciting to be able to do that for a few thousand people on a big outdoor stage. That’s going to be crazy. That’s so cool. Riot Fest in Toronto, then Fest down in Gainesville through the fall. And hopefully getting in some writing and figuring out when we’re going to get into a studio to do a record. That’s what I would really like to focus on. We’ve been demoing and everything so it’s happening, but it’s not there yet for me or for the rest of the guys. Since Inside The Sea came out, I’ve probably demoed 50 songs. Of those 50, I don’t know how many I give a shit about. It’s ever changing. I want to make a record. I want to really make a record. I want everything about the record to be thought out. I want it to make sense from the second you see the cover to the first note and the last note on the record. I want it to all be there to tell you something. To deliver a message. That’s what I want.

Mac DeMarcoBy Taylor Hanson

Mac DeMarco
By Taylor Hanson

MUSIC ON THE SIDE

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Photo: Foxboro Hot Tubs by punxie89 on Flickr (bit.ly/1zmLBhX)

By Nini Truong

Sometimes, one band just isn’t enough. Chances are, your favorite band isn’t releasing all the music the members are churning out. Everyone from the boys of Green Day and Blink-182 to fun. and Death Spells has a little extra something going on. Some of the side projects may even be completely different from what we’re used to but diversity is hardly a bad thing in the music industry. Whether or not the side band is better than the main band is completely up to you but nonetheless, check out these cool bonuses from some of our favorites.

The Wonder Years

Take the lyricism of The Wonder Years but remove the pop-punk feel and you’ve got Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties. It’s not something you’d start a pit to, but rather something you’d hear in a coffee shop while lost in a novel or discussing the meaning of life with a friend. The concept of the side project was to represent the worst year of vocalist Dan Campbell’s character Aaron West’s life.

Green Day

Despite the line-up still consisting of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, Mike Dirnt, Jason White and touring member Jason Freese plus Kevin Preston of Prima Donna, Foxboro Hot Tubs are almost nothing like Green Day. Both Armstrong and Jason White used aliases, Reverend Strychnine Twitch and Frosco Lee respectively, to book secret shows under their alias. Rather than scrappy punk rock, the side project has a more garage rock feel, but that didn’t stop “Fuck Time,” originally performed by Foxboro Hot Tubs, being released as part of Green Day’s ¡Dos! album.

Brand New

Teaming up with Andrew Accardi of Robbers, Brian Lane of Brand New started Shone. Don’t expect the alt-rock emo of Brand New – expect something more along the lines of experimental progressive rock with equally sad lyrics. The project was originally also a viral marketing campaign/game/scavenger hunt shrouded in mystery until the band’s eventual unveiling in 2013.

fun.

Bleachers, fun.’s Jack Antonoff’s new project – ahem, not a fucking side project – has some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a while. The songs are fun, no pun intended, and make me want to dance and cry at the same time. It’s confusing. 

Death Spells

Who can keep track of all of Frank Iero’s musical endeavors? Death Spells played supported Mindless Self Indulgence and played a spot at Skate and Surf festival last year, before touring with The Architects in the winter. Now, Iero’s working on frnkiero and the cellabration and will be touring with Taking Back Sunday and The Used this fall, and will release “Stomachaches” on August 26. (See our Death Spells interview from 2013 here)

Blink-182

+44, a product of the 2005-2009 hiatus, consisted of Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus, Shane Gallagher and Craig Fairbaugh. While more electronic than punk, the band still stuck to their rock-y roots with melodic punk-influenced sounds and inspiration from artists like The Cure and The Postal Service. Fortunately, the blink hiatus ended in 2009. Unfortunately, that brought upon the +44 hiatus.

While Hoppus and Barker worked on +44, Tom DeLonge spent his time on Angels & Airwaves, a progressive, space rock supergroup with an original line up featuring David Kennedy (Box Car Racer, Over My Dead Body), Ryan Sinn (ex-The Distiller) and Atom Willard (The Offpring). Although Blink-182 ended their hiatus in 2009, DeLonge continues to work on Angels & Airwaves, with a new release slated for later this year.

Crown The EmpireBy Greg Rothstein

Crown The Empire
By Greg Rothstein

August Burns RedBy Greg Rothstein

August Burns Red
By Greg Rothstein

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