by Lisa Sanchez Gonzalez
Twitter at @lsgoriginal
Before I go into what’s been happening, I know I speak for many when I offer my sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and New London music scene at the loss of Steve Kaika, bassist and vocalist for The Reducers. Steve passed away early Tuesday morning after battling cancer.
I have had the pleasure of checking out The Reducers on multiple occasions and I know that the CT music scene has lost a local legend. R.I.P.
Editors Note: also here is a link with a great video about the support that New London community and Connecticut musicians and fans showed Steve’s family at all the benefit shows. http://www.theday.com/article/20120616/MEDIA0104/120619714
The past week has been so sweet for me! I just sat and counted the number of bands I saw and it tops out to 9 local and national acts! Woot!
I’ll start with the amazing show I saw at The Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford – Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires on Friday night. I’ll admit that I was far more familiar with Amanda Shires, having seen her perform before and having interviewed her a couple of weeks ago. She opened up the show for Jason Isbell. This was a solo performance for Amanda and she was terrific. She played about 10 songs including my favorite, “Shake the Walls”. She’s a talented song bird who is also quite amusing. In between songs, she bantered with the audience, as did Jason. Early on, she discussed her grandmother, Rose Shires, who, she told us, is on Facebook. She looked into the audience and
remarked “Please don’t take pictures of me with my wine. She’ll find it on Facebook and then leave me a message asking if I’m going down the right path.” Her grandmother, apparently, has been saved and would like to save her granddaughter as well! Amanda sang, played her ukulele, and whistled and made us all feel like family. Jason Isbell was a delight. He’s an amazing singer/song writer who played to a large crowd (near capacity) that was clearly there to hear him story-tell in song. Amanda joined Jason on stage to accompany his acoustic guitar on her violin. It was beautiful music.
For more about Amanda, check out my interview with her here (http://www.localbandreview.com/2012/06/lsg-spot-here-comes-summer-june-1-2012/)
Saturday night was the CD release party for 1974’s new ep “The Return”. What a fine time and what a fine album! The party started with a set from Little Ugly who were playing their second live outing with new bassist, Jared Gardner. Next up came a band I had not seen before, Various Seagulls. They played a cool set as well (they had their CD, Bag of Worms, there and I have to tell you, I was grossed out by the cover!) But the night really belonged to 1974. Prior to taking the stage to play the full “The Return” album plus more, they were presented with a lovely cake baked by none other than
Sara Hartof She Eats Planets fame. Nice treat for all! And take the stage they did. They
played a wonderful set chock full of the amazing choruses and harmonies and complexities that fill “The Return.” They even managed to get String Theorie’s, Jordan Critchley and Sara Hart on stage to run through “Don’t Stop Believin (Yay!) It was pretty awesome. Hey, did we see members of Fat Grip in the audience too? Yup. It was a great night. Congrats to 1974 on another great recording effort. You should pick up “The Return”…It’s “What’s in the Flounce?” this week!
Tuesday brought yet another fab show brought to you by Manic Productions. The Outlaw Roadshow opened up the concert season at Ives Concert Park in Danbury. The show featured Counting Crows who were supported by Good Old War, Filligar (who are returning to play a free show at BAR in New Haven July 25), and Foreign Fields. I’m not going to spill the rest here because my review and my pictures will be up soon on tour sponsor, Ryan’s Smashing Life’s, site soon. I will tell you that I picked up music from all four bands including some vinyl. You should try and check out a show at Ives this summer. It’s a cool outdoor venue that’s really easy to get too.
So this Friday brings Royal Thunder to Cherry Street Station in Wallingford. If you like good, solid rock belted out by an incredible female lead (and bassist), this show is a must. I have been completely digging their first full length record, CVI, the past couple of weeks. I cannot wait to see them live. You should go! Check out my interview with MLNY Parsonz (said female belter) below.(NOTE: Obviously, this was written previously. My lame ass didn’t make it to the show…Did I mention 9 bands last week??) I am positive it was awesome from what I’m seeing!
There’s so much to do over the next week including a Prom with Shag Frenzy and The Beat City Beauties at Arch Street in Hartford. Oh, and listen to WPKN on Sunday at 1:00 pm when guests will be Little Ugly!
Late breaking! In my totally hot hands is the new Stark Raving Lulu CD. “Welcome to the Fun-O-Sphere.” I suspect I’ll talk about it again after I give it a listen. Oh, I forgot to tell you about the coolest thing aside from how the Lulu’s rock…The photographs are lsg original photography (shameless plug…we do those around here.) BIG MAN! Pick up the CD and you’ll understand.
Support LOCAL! And, as always…
Occupy a VENUE!!
“Spot”light on… Royal Thunder
Royal Thunder is an Atlanta based rock/metal band putting forth their first full length album, CVI. The band consists of
lead guitarist , Josh Weaver, Mlny Parsonz on vocals and bass, drummer, Lee Smith Josh Coleman on rhythm guitar. I caught up with MLNY (Mel) as she was preparing to get their tour underway with her band mates including a stop at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, CT on June 15.
lsg: Can we talk about your name for a minute? M. L. N. Y. Is that legal?
Mel: No. It is not. Entirely, no.
lsg: So is it Melanie?
Mel: Yeah. I actually go by Mel. No one ever calls me Melanie. For the longest time, I’ve always spelled my name like that. It actually kind of worked out for me as far as privacy. The whole Facebook thing…I just kind of wanted to be off the radar, you know?
lsg: Ah, that’s pretty smart. So the band was formed in 2006 by lead guitarist, Josh Weaver, and you joined in 2007. Then you guys added your drummer, Lee Smith and rhythm guitarist, Josh Coleman. Tell me a bit about forming the band and the different players.
Mel: It started out with a completely different drummer. We all lived together for most of Royal Thunder, at the beginning of Royal Thunder. Aside from the instrumental phase. Wait. I’m going to pull over for a minute because I’m driving and I get so fucking annoyed with people when driving…
…and she doesn’t miss a beat…
Mel: Anyway, originally, it was an instrumental band and I wasn’t even in it in the beginning. It was Jessie Kelly and Ryan Weaver, Josh’s brother. It eventually progressed and moved on. During the recording of CVI, Jessie ended up quitting the band and which left us with 2 songs on the album that do not include Jessie. We have some old time friends that are in the band with us. Lee, the drummer, and I were actually in a band together when I was about 14 or something like that. We were ridiculously young and playing punk rock or something really crappy back in the day. Lee was also in a band with us before Royal Thunder. We were in a death metal band together – Josh, Lee, and I. Lee left to go be in another band and so Josh and I stopped for a while so we could see if maybe we could not be musicians. That didn’t work out. We were really thinking maybe music isn’t for us and who are we without it and we realized, well, that is who we are. It lasted like 2 months.
lsg: You are vocalist and bass player in Royal Thunder. You are a bad ass bass player, I might add and an amazing vocalist. I love women bass players. You are awesome. When did you start both and which is your true love?
Mel: Thank you! I actually grew up playing piano. I wasn’t ever really a singer. Ever. I had my moments but I went from piano to guitar. I wanted to be a guitar player more than anything. I didn’t see myself ever singing. So, my dad got me a guitar when I was a teenager. I was playing acoustic. But I kept falling into death metal bands, black metal bands and doing vocals. Then I went into black metal on keyboards. The band that Josh and Lee and I played in together, I was kind of forced into bass and death metal background vocals. That’s where I really cut my teeth on the bass. And then Royal Thunder needed a singer and a bass player and Josh said I think you can do it. Why don’t you just give it a shot and I did. That’s pretty much how I got to this place.
lsg: Well, it seems right. So, you guys have your first full length record out, CVI. What does CVI mean?
Mel: It’s Roman numerals for 106 which is a number that has followed us forever. It’s hilarious and haunting at the same time. A cop pulled out in front of me today and the number on the back of his car was 106 and all I could think was you’ve got to be fucking kidding me! It’s everywhere. It just follows us. There’s a whole story about finding 106 dollars and the original drummer was born on January 6 and it’s just a number that will not leave us alone. What it means, I have no fucking idea. But it seemed appropriate to send it off into the universe on a record. That way it could fuck with everybody else!
lsg: That’s awesome! So tell me about the record. Who wrote it and what’s it about?
Mel: The music comes about from Josh Weaver. He’s really the song writer. He just gives with his heart and his soul. We’re not that kind of band that he just comes in with a riff. He actually writes a whole song. And plays it for us. And then everyone kind of jumps in and adds themselves to it. That’s how our music comes about. Instrumentally, the root of it, is Josh Weaver and then the rest of us come in and add things to it. Everyone adds their own flair eventually. And then lyrically, I follow the music. Whatever I feel is rising up when we’re playing a song, that’s what I write about.
lsg: I found it unusual that in the age of quick air time and short attention spans, that you guys have 3 songs on that album that clock between 8-9:30 minutes long. Tell me about those particular songs because I think that’s kind of unheard of right now.
Mel: It’s not really intentional or deliberate. We do what we do and it comes very naturally to us. It’s crazy – that’s a good question because I actually had an interview recently and I hadn’t really thought about it until this guy said it and he basically asked me what you just asked me and then he said do you think it has anything to do with the fact that Royal Thunder started out as an instrumental band and a light bulb came on and I was like that could totally be. Sometimes we take forever before vocals come in. And I wonder, I don’t know the answer for sure, but I wonder if that is a part of it. Kind of like the fact that it was instrumental for so long and it’s kind of a voice for Josh in a sense that I think maybe that translates into the music. But yeah, there are some songs, and I even have my own complaints and I fast forward through songs if I’m listening to it because I have to remember lyrics o something. She makes the sound of a tape fast forwarding but like a machine gun!) Like Jesus Christ did we really play for that long, dude??? I have no attention span so I don’t even know how I’m playing it but it just is what it is and I feel good playing it and I hope people fucking listen to it.
lsg: It’s great. It’s funny because I’ve read some things that have been written about you and the Led Zeppelin references and I sort of felt like that when I was listening to your songs because I felt like I’d gone to a Kashmir kind of place…only heavier. I’m particularly smitten with “Whispering World” although I also dig “South of Somewhere” and “Sleeping Witch”, which has fiddle in it, which I love. The lyrics are so angry in Whispering…”You lie”. “You cheat.” “You hurt.” So, you just said that you write the lyrics. Is that a breakup song?
Mel: Oh no. Definitely not. There are secret breakup songs on that album though. There’s one in particular but I will never tell! It’s not “Whispering World.” “Whispering World” is actually written for this person in my life that has done a lot of shitty things and has a very poisonous, venomous spirit and is not willing to change. And despite putting myself out there and humbling myself time after time for the sake of peace, this person does not respond. It’s actually linked to Parsonz’s curse. Somebody in my family, there’s this curse that falls on certain people in the family. It’s a specific curse and it is on this person. And that person is who I’m singing to in “Whispering World”.
lsg: Wow! Well, I felt it. I kept listening to it going Wow! Ouch.
Mel: I’m pretty pissed off but at the same time I have a lot of compassion. You know that feeling like I love you but what the fuck. I wanna kill you, you know what I mean?
lsg: Oh yes…
Mel: I’d feel a lot better if I didn’t have to deal with you so that’s kind of the vibe of that song.
lsg: Let’s talk about Minus. It is a beautifully sung ballad. And here I thought, and I’m going to call it power ballad, is dead. Do you consider that a power ballad? I was kind of taken aback because he is this beautiful song right in the middle of all this.
Mel: I don’t really consider it a power ballad but, I mean, I’ll take that because I’m a sucker for power ballads. It’s actually kind of funny. Because that song has absolutely nothing to do with the person who was playing drums on the album originally. But, it’s funny because that song was the next one on the list to do when he quit the band. A lot of people have speculated that it’s about the drummer leaving but I didn’t write a single fucking song about our old drummer. It was a peaceful parting. It’s actually for more than one person but was mainly triggered by some stuff going on with my friend and she would be proud that you hear her name. She’s a sweetheart. And she’d say I don’t care if you tell people. Her name is Leigha Catlet (and I totally botched her name, I’m sure, Mel, but you said it sweetly!) I was going through a lot of stuff but that song made me immediately think of her. While I was singing it, there were all kinds of people flooding through my mind. That was actually a very scary experience because I had never put lyrics to that song until we got in the booth and there were things there that we were doing a one take thing on certain parts.
lsg: Do you do it live?
Mel: Lately, yeah. We did a CD release party and we did it live. It’s really just Josh and I. It’s not…the other guys only come in a little. We did it live like 2 or 3 times but the first time we ever did it was in Jackson, Mississippi for our friends and it was awesome!
lsg: Well I hope you will consider it for your gig in CT. I’d love to see you sing it live. You are making a stop at Cherry Street (6/15) and I can’t wait. Are you continuing on a full length tour? Is that what you guys are doing or is this a one off?
Mel: We’re leaving Sunday morning or late Saturday night and we’re going to be gone for almost 2 months. And, hopefully longer than that. Hopefully, we’ll pick back up and move on to the next thing very quickly. I just quit my job today so…
lsg: Wow. Are you covering just the US or are you going up into Canada?
Mel: We were going into Canada for something completely different but we don’t have passports updated. So that held us back. But were doing the states for now because it’s still small and not a lot of people know about us and we have a lot of work to do.
lsg: Well we’ll definitely get the word out about you guys. You are just terrific. I always ask a nonsense question at the end. Just whatever comes to mind. I often ask questions about food. I don’t know why. What’s the best take out food when you are home?
Mel: Best take out food when I’m home? Well, you know, I don’t really eat out much because I love to cook. I love experimenting and that’s actually my job. The one I quit today.
lsg: Come on! You’re a cook?
Mel: Yeah. You know if I am going to eat somewhere, it’s going to be at El Myr at Five Points. They have the best fucking specials. They just go out there with whole pulled smoked pork and crazy quesadillas, and burritos and shit. But if it’s not there, it’s The Earl in East Atlanta. Those are my two favorite. If I go out, I go to one of those two places, especially El Myr.
lsg: So no junk food, huh?
Mel: No not really. I don’t want to sound like (and she goes into a snobby girl accent and continues) “I don’t eat junk food”! It’s so not like that but we have so many fucking great restaurants here in Atlanta so I take advantage of the good shit.
Kick ass vocalist/bassist and she cooks = Dream Girl = lsg
HOT local video of the week…Almost Ancient
One of my favorite classic cover bands in CT. This is a wonderful version of “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?” filmed by Mike Lawson. Enjoy!
What’s Playing in “The Flounce”? 1974
(Music in my car CD player this week!)
Listen for the piano at the very end. Sublime…
Album: The Return
Fave Track: A Sickening Silence
What’s HOT this week…
Friday June 15
We’re well past that…
Saturday June 16
* Almost Ancient, The Red Door, Watertown – 10:00 pm
* Tom Hearn and Cary Pollick w Happy Ending, Never Ending Books, New Haven – 7:30 pm
* Washboard Slim and the Bluelights w Amalgamated Muck, The Outer Space, Hamden – 8:00 pm
* Shag Frenzy presents The Beat City Beauties’ Second Chance Prom, Arch Street Tavern, Hartford – 9:00 pm
* Diamondback, Lanzas, Ansonia – 10:00 pm
* 1974 and End of War, Titanium, Middletown – 9:30 pm
* Bandwith Karoake, Center Station, Berlin – 10:00 pm