Category Archives: Article

“Our fans define us.” – Chad Gilbert

I recently read an old article on AltPress where Chad Gilbert talks about Pop-Punk not being dead and what it means. Over all it was a great essay, but one line struck out to me more than anything. “Our fans define us.”

As soon as I read it the little voice in my head turned into Patrick Stump singing “Make us poster boys in the scene, but we are not making an acceptance speech.” Then it turned into Handguns and told me that they aren’t a Pop-Punk band, despite what their 16,000+ fans on Last.FM say. Then it was Gerard Way calling emo “fucking garbage.”

I guess it’s a difficult concept to submit to, after all New Found Glory has been around for over 14 years and it took Chad this long to realize it; but I think it’s something that every band should come to grips with. Without fans, bands are just 5 dudes hitting shit, trying to impress a wall or deafen themselves or something. I get where Gerard Way and the members of Handguns are coming from though, I used to think I was in a Pop-Punk band and if anyone said we were CrunkCore I probably would have been at least a little offended, so their defense of themselves is completely understandable. But in the end Chad is right, if you have 17 million fans and they all say you’re a Christian Folk Metal band, then I guess that’s what you are, genres are just names after all, and without those 17 million fans you wouldn’t be able to live your dream, so you owe it to them to call you whatever they want.

At the end of the day, being in a band is about playing the music you love, call it whatever you want but I play what I want, and I like to think that’s how most musicians out there work. So if you’re in a band, don’t complain about what someone calls you, the only reason they’re calling you anything is because they’re listening, and that’s exactly what you wanted.

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Rise Against Over The Years.

Over the past 13 years Chicago based Rise Against have pushed 6 albums, 4 EPs, 2 splits, and 1 demo; along with a million compilations and 7 million soundtracks. Essentially, they’re as everywhere as a punk band can be. But over 13 years a band’s sound can change and mature and distort until it’s something completely different, (see My Chemical Romance). I guess punk is a bit different since there’s such an anti-establishment aura surrounding it, so maturing can often be mistaking for “selling out.” Now, the question at hand is, has Rise Against sold out? Well, let’s see.

Rise Against - The Unraveling

April of 2001, Rise Against releases The Unraveling, on Fat Wreck Chords. Punky, lyrical, aggressive yet contemplative, everything a Rise Against record should be. Tim was screaming about friendships, religion and things close to his heart, it was powerful and personal and just all around amazing.

Fast forward 2 years, replace a guitarist, and you have Revolutions Per Minute, still on Fat Wreck Chords, still essentially the same album. The songs are a bit longer, a little less punky, but for the most part it’s hard to tell songs on one album from songs on the other. This is the base of Rise Against, these two albums make up the foundation for what the band stood for at the time, and is ultimately what their newer releases are all compared to. Along with the slightly longer songs, the band also changed lyrical content, songs are still about religion and the general struggles of life, but now the world of Rise Against, has a much more clear antagonist, government.

Rise Against - Siren Songs of the Counter Culture

After the release of Revolutions Per Minute, Rise Against switched labels to Dreamworks, which was absorbed by the Universal Music Group, so they ended up releasing Siren Songs of the Counter Culture on Geffen Records. Siren Songs of the Counter Culture was the bands most successful release at the time, and it’s not bad. In the process of getting RIAA gold though, the band lost it’s punk edge, they were still a punk band, but that heavy 80s underground punk influence got lost somewhere between “Blood to Bleed” and “Give it All.”

The Sufferer & the Witness was Rise Against’s 4th album and it continued to run in the same direction that  Siren Songs of the Counter Culture did. Less punk, more radio, but interestingly enough The sufferer & the Witness has some of the strongest lyrical content in the entire Rise Against catalog. Overall, the trend thus far is that Rise Against started as a hard, heavy, fast, and intelligent punk band and transformed into a more radio friendly, less punk,  less personal, and more “wordly” band, interested in politics and humanity above all else.

Rise Against - Appeal to Reason

Appeal to Reason. This is it, this is the album that essentially started the Rise Against-is-selling-out bandwagon. If you check out the Sputnik review of Appeal to Reason and scroll down, you’ll see recommended albums by the reviewer, pretty much a “sounds like” section, and hidden among NOFX and Bad Religion you’ll find Foo Fighters. Foo Fighters, that’s what this album is compared to, which isn’t bad in itself, Foo Fighters rock, but they ARE rock, Rise Against WAS punk. The super radio friendly album topped Siren Songs of the Counter Culture in sales and ultimately had old school Rise Against fans asking, “Where’d the soul go?”

Finally we come to Endgame. This album, like The Sufferer & the Witness, polishes the sound of the album before it. So much tot he dismay of early Rise Against fans, The Unraveling sound seems to be gone for good. More rock, less punk, more radio, less soul; but did they sell out?

No, they didn’t. They’ve always been an introspective and intelligent band. They always wrote about the struggle of people and their oppressors, religion or politics. Over the last 13 years they’ve just focused more and more on those points and on Tim as a lyricist. There’s only so much room on a song and if you’re going to say a lot with words, you’re going to say less with guitars, that’s what happened with Rise Against. So no, they didn’t sell out, they grew up, and I miss The Unraveling more than anything, and I don’t much appreciate Endgame, but you can’t fault a band for growing up.

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Man Overboard, Handguns, Neighborhoods, True Things: Defend Atlantic City

Just got my tickets to Defend Atlantic City. SO stoked, see you guys there, expect a review of the show the day after.

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5 Surefire Ways to Run Your Band … into the Ground

Being in a band is tricky. It’s like being married to three or four people, in most cases sweaty guys with a million clashing ideas all pertaining to, “What do we do next?” So for those of you joining your first band or starting your first band or what have you, here’s a list of twenty things to NOT do next, in no particular order. Enjoy.


  • Don’t Rush. I know this list is in no particular order, but this probably carries the most weight. See when you rush things in a band, you stress yourself, you stress your band mates, and you cause a huge load of problems. Music is a creative outlet, not a machine pumping out singles for starving hipsters, and your band mates are people not robots. If you rush it, you’re only asking for trouble, if it takes your band a year to write a song then that’s what it takes, the world will still be around when you put it out. Outkast said it best, “…the day by day rule can’t be too long….”
  • Don’t Bitch About Money. For some ungodly reason it costs at least one or two hundred dollars to get a CRAPPY recording of just ONE song in some guys basement. For some ungodly reason if you don’t sell enough tickets the day of the show you need to pay the venue tons of cash just to play. For some unholy, villainous, disgusting reason WaWa coffee is not one dollar all year round. Add some rent, phone, car insurance, equipment repairs, new equipment, girlfriends, pets, Etc. Etc. And money becomes a huge issue, so don’t bitch about your tambourine player not having enough to cover his practice room fee, it’s always going to be tight until you open for Motley Crue, that’s just the way it is, be patient.
  • Don’t Be A Dictator. Every band has a leader, that’s how things work. Someone always checks the emails, someone always sets up the shows, someone always has all the contacts. Always remember though that every band mate you have is completely capable of managing a local band, it doesn’t take a lot of work, only dedication. So don’t put yourself or anyone else on a pedestal, a band is a home, and no one likes being looked down upon in their own home.
  • Don’t Compromise. Okay, I know this one kind of sounds a little weird, but trust me on this, as soon as you start compromising your musical beliefs for the benefit of four other dudes, you’re doomed. Think of it like this, Johnny joins a band named Dead Baby Murder Junkies, but he really wants to play in a band like Sunshine Flowers and the Spunky Monkeys. He’ll stay in DBMJ and put out an album or two, play a bunch of shows, and slowly die inside until he explodes and leaves the band to do what he really wanted to do in the first place. It’s always better when everyone has their heart in the same place, that way no one is hindering the band as a whole by questioning whether he even wants to be there or not.
  • Don’t Fake It. If you love music, play it because you love it. If you’re up there on stage for any other reason you’ll be lucky to make it anywhere, you aren’t in Avenged Sevenfold. Don’t do it for a girl, or money, or blah blah blah blah blah, do it because you love it. End of story.
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Anthony Raneri and More Cover Nirvana

Anthony Raneri – About A Girl

For those of you who don’t know, Anthony Raneri of Bayside recorded his own piano driven version of Nirvana’s classic “About A Girl” off of their first album Bleach. It’s part of a tribute album released last October that I recently found out about, so I know it’s pretty old, but it seems to be somewhat under the radar. The artists involved are pretty much all over the place, as far as genres are concerned; and the album itself is hit and miss, some of the songs are a little hard to track down if you’re just used to using YouTube as your only source for music so I suggest pulling out the Google machine and maybe trying Sound Cloud or what have you.


  • Dutch Masters – Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • Mewithoutyou – In Bloom
  • Civil Twilight – Come As You Are
  • Story Of The year – Breed
  • Hawthorne Heights – Lithium
  • Finger Eleven – Polly
  • Will Daily – Territorial Pissings
  • Maps & Atlases – Drain You
  • Murder By Death – Lounge Act
  • Pitty – Stay Away
  • The Album Leaf – On A Plain
  • Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s – Something In The Way
  • Anthony Raneri – About A Girl
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Bomb The Music Industry!

Bomb the Music Industry! What can I say, I love them. I’m completely gushing right now but there’s a point to this. BtMI! is the kind of band that I think, on some level or another, every musician should idolize. If it’s not for their 10$ or under and all-age-shows only policy, then for their business skills, and if not for that then for their musical skills, and if not for that then for their lyrics I mean these guys do it all. They make their own shirts, record, produce, and distribute their own albums, they even set up a record label and made a home for musicians with their same DIY mentality, these guys are, in my eyes, the Messiah of Punk Rock or at least the DIY scene.

I keep saying “these guys” and “they” but technically BtMI! is a musical collective and the only “real” member is Jeff Rosenstock (Ex-The Arrogant Sons of Bitches).

Anyway, aside from being a 100% DIY band, Jeff brings a new meaning to the term “band-fan openness” (mainly because I just made it up). Aside from updating the band’s website, which is actually just a Tumblr account, with such honesty as:

“Although no one has called us out on this, we have been playing a handful of shows that a bit more expensive than $10, the most recent of which is a show with Das Racist on Long Island. We don’t plan on making a habit out of this, and we will ALWAYS fight tooth and nail to make our headlining shows $10 or less (I think in one case in Toronto last year, it had to be $13 or it couldn’t be all ages.)

In all honesty, we’re just making sure we’re still doing things that are interesting to us. Headlining shows all the time can get olllllllld and I think all the higher priced things we’ve been playing are all pretty unique circumstances, and things we’re excited to be a part of. We also always try to set up something cheap (or free) in those areas around the same time as the pricier jump-offs.

So fear not. We’re only continuing our trend of selling out in small increments. Can’t be perfect.”

Jeff and the rest of BtMI! also post a synopsis of each of their albums right there on the website, where you can also download them, for free. As if that wasn’t enough you can even find a little paragraph or two on each individual song from each album, sometimes it’s only the songs lyrics but other times Jeff tells you exactly why he wrote each song and exactly what they all mean to him. I mean that’s nuts, complete insanity to me, I’ve never heard of a band being so upfront with their fan base, and I can only assume it’s paid off for them.

BtMI! runs Quote Unquote Records entirely on donations, the label supports his own band and a number of other notable acts including Laura Stevenson and the Cans who’ve been growing steadily for a while now and have even been mentioned in AP magazine a few times.

In the end I just need to give BtMI! a huge shout-out because they’re just a great band, and you should really go check them out if you haven’t. You can legally go download all their music for free on the band’s website, don’t forget to throw them a donation and keep the DIY ball rolling. Thanks in advance.

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Defend Pop …. Punk???

So everyone’s heard those three words that make my skin crawl “Defend Pop-Punk,” now before I get bombarded by xxSuperPop-Punkerxx for slamming her favorite band, this has nothing to with Man Overboard, I like them. This has everything to do with one simple question that I get asked whenever I bring up Pop-Punk, and that’s, “What IS Pop-Punk?” So it sounds stupid, I know, but think about it, everyone from Green Day to Transit to Four Year Strong are considered Pop-Punk, and I’m not sure about you, but to me, that makes no sense at all. Now again I’m not slamming anyone, I love each of those bands equally, except for Transit, I haven’t given them a shot yet much to the dismay of my significant other. All that I’m saying is that there’s got to be a line somewhere, and why the hell hasn’t it been drawn yet.

I’m personally a 90’s kid, Nirvana all way, I have an RHCP tattoo on my wrist and I still think Bass refers to an actual instrument rather than something that should at some point “drop.” The thing about 90’s music was that it was relatively well defined, you had your grunge and you knew it was grunge, you had your punk and you knew it was punk, every now and again you’d get a band that bitch-slapped those defining lines and that’s cool, that’s what music needs, what music doesn’t need is a band hoarding mindset that I’ve experienced in Pop-Punk. When I first joined a Pop-Punk band and got deeper into the scene I started to realize that EVERYTHING was Pop-Punk, from Cartel to Bayside, I even had a dude tell me that Attack! Attack! was a Pop-Punk band once. I’m not opposed to this for the sake of being opposed to it, or writing about it because it pisses me off, I’m writing about because it feels like without a defining line of separation between genres, a lot of kids are going to feel nervous when exploring other genres … AND because it pisses me off.

I was 15 and into Slipknot, big time, little by little I somehow got into Trapt, for those of you who don’t know that’s like loving The Devil Wears Prada and then listening to New Found Glory. Naturally I was afraid to tell my friends about it because, well because I was a metal head. So imagine if Slipknot and Trapt were both considered “Super-Gigaflux-Hypermetal,” for the sake of argument, now it might seem like that might be cool, like maybe now I won’t get picked on for listening to Trapt AND Slipknot. Well, yes and no, yes because yea, I won’t get picked on, but no because if Trapt and Slipknot are both the same genre than what the hell isn’t “Super-Gigaflux-Hypermetal” and when I start listening and experimenting with that, then I’m REALLY tempting the Gods of childhood bullying. See what I’m trying to say?

If genre surfing is a normal occurrence then, I assume, more often than not, less people will be frightened of doing it openly and more people will be exposed to more music.

I’m not one to identify a problem and then do nothing about it, so I devised a solution. From now on, in this blog, I will refer to Pop-Punk like most people refer to Ska, in three generations (see, there’s a method to my madness). The list is as follows::

Generation 1: 90’s-esq Pop-Punk, I.E. blink 182, Green Day, New Found Glory.

Generation 2: “Commercial” Pop-Punk, I.E. The Wonder Years, Major League, Handguns, The Story So Far

Generation 3: Indie inspired Pop-Punk, I.E. Transit, Man Overboard

…….. Four Year Strong is Easycore, get over it.

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