Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Switch to Wordpress

I switched the Blog over to Wordpress for those of you who follow my blog but don't follow Rockertycoon on Facebook or Twitter. It's now located at Rocker Tycoon on Wordpress. No Specific reason for the change, but it does look nice. Bear with me as I figure out Wordpress's nuances.

And Remember, I try to respond to all comments!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Through Sound and Time: 1999

My last year of high school was spent trying to figure out how best to spend my time. I still didn't have a car. I fancied myself a bit like Ferris Bueller in that sense. I even took the occasional "mental health" day off school to catch up on sleep and catch up on reading. I was starting to get into main stream comics by then. I was reading JLA: Year One and Deadeanders. Deadenders was actually one of the first DC Vertigo comics that I really read on a regular basis. It was about a post apocalypse future where the world was hit by a cataclysm that ended the weather and separated the world as they new it into 7 or so sections extending from the center section. It was sort of like Dante's inferno in that sense, which I didn't read until my mid twenties.

That year musically was riddled with Dropkick Murphys, Bouncing Souls, and Soul Coughing's El Oso album. I was delving back in time a bit as well. That year I purchased the Clash's London Calling, Combat Rock, and their Self Titled Albums. I bought my first bass that year as well. Punk-O-Rama Four came out that year, as well as Warped Tour. I went to my first live concert (folk fests that my father had dragged me out to not counting). The first band I saw live was the Living End. I jumped into my first mosh pit for Dropkick Murphys and my first circle pit was Pennywise, they played a cover of Minor Threat by Minor Threat. I learned a few things that day about concerts. It was also the last day I wore Khakis when I didn't have to work. My attire was all wrong for an all day concert, Hawaiian Shirt, Khakis (with no belt), and a pair of Soaps freestyle walking shoes. I had no where to put anything I bought and I lost my keys during Anti-flag. I spent most of the concert crowd surfing.

After that I started going to concerts like mad. with my friends John Carr and Ian Harker. I saw Goldfinger, Bloodhound Gang, Bouncing Souls, Blood for Blood, Nofx, H2O, Vision, the Dwarves, and a ton of other bands. I started to get pretty comfortable in the mosh pit. i had always thought that going into a pit meant fighting to keep from getting your ass kicked by all the muscle heads, but it turned out to be a place for of guys just like me looking to have a good time and dance and sing, maybe get out a little aggression. The major focus was comradeship, if someone fell you picked him up, protct the guy tying his shoes, and disregard the assholes til they needed to be removed. Most importantly though it was all about fun.

It's hard to explain to people who've never been in there. I was young and I was trying to figure out who I was in the world, there was a lot of mystery about what the future would bring and I was a little unsettled by the government at the time, I was trying to figure out what was right and what was fair. I knew I'd never hack it in a 9-5 but it seemed like that was the only way to make a living without being a deadbeat. Top this all off with the fact that I was straight-edge. I didn't know how to talk to girls let alone where to meet them. The one solace was that I had a place to go once the music started playing.

By mid year I had graduated highschool, and I had decided that I was gonna be a professional CCG player for a while before I went to college. That's right, I started playing Magic: the Gathering for money. I even got through a few rounds at states and things were looking pretty bright on that level. The next year was a swift slap in the face.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Live in JC: Kagero and The One & Nines at Iron Monkey

Another Article in the Jersey City Independent:


The Press and Ben Franklin at Public Assembly

September 16 2009: I took the Path to 14th and 6th ave then the L to Bedford Ave in Brooklyn to see my old friends The Press and Ben Franklin. Public Assembly is a pretty neat venue. That said it’s a Venue! It’s an honest to god place to play and see live music. That’s refreshing! The place itself is large enough for a reasonably large band with an unreasonable number of followers to play. The placement of the bar is Ideal if not perfect. I really can’t say how happy I am to be at a place with a raised stage, Even if it makes my job a little harder. Ultimately this isn’t about me anyhow, it’s about the bands the venues and the journey getting back and forth.

The first band sets up and sound checks, as the DJ (a seemingly adept fellow by his assault of the craft) sets the mood for the bar. A bit much? Nah, the live music hasn’t started yet and people are starting to come in. I say it’s working! Good job, Public Assembly! Set yourself up for success, then just ride the lightning til you're successful, I always say. Columbus didn’t half-ass it, and look how far his bravado got him. Way to bring it on a Wednesday night!

Ivan and the Terribles’
drummer is the band’s exclamation point. She punctuated each snap and beat with a gusto I haven’t seen since I saw the Vandals back in ’02. I head over to the bar as Eddie and Billy of Ben Franklin scuttle in with their gear. We have a laugh about finally getting me out to see the band live and spotting an A&R scout (the only guy in the crowd old enough to be my dad, dressed like it was lunch hour at Goldman and Sachs), or someone up way pasted their normal bed time. I had the house’s $6 combo special: PBR can and a shot of well whiskey. For the record, Fleischman’s Whiskey has an aroma of burnt linoleum that doesn’t betray itself once it hits the palette.

The Courtesy Tier began shortly after. A great compliment of guitar and drums. These two fellas have a great chemistry together. The lyrics are of a redeeming nature and they sound much larger than they are. You’d think without seeing them that you were watching a full band with a separate vocalist. That’s the power or multi-tasking for you! After their set the guys gave me a CD and some stickers. I’ll definitely be giving the CD a look soon.

The Press took stage. Mike Henry (vocals, guitar). David Schneider (guitar) and Alex Picca (bass), Chuck Davis (drums) are Brooklyn’s steady-rock quartet. One thing I love about these guys is their between song banter. I totally feel like that’s part of the experience. I like a little chatter, while I’m waiting for my next song. Not like a whole speech but just a few quick pieces of info or a joke here and there. These guys are like a good old man barber, in that respect. They asked the crowd to sign their mailing list, and promised them stickers and pins. “If you want the stickers and pins but don’t want us to email you use someone else’s and we'll spam that guy. This is our next song, this is what Mordor sounds like.” (It’s a good thing they prefaced with that disclaimer. As you all know, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” Being that there are no trains in and I don’t own a car, I’d have never known, otherwise.) There’s nothing that a little humor and a LOTR reference won’t do for me. That’s just the band joking around between songs. The Press is a solid rock and roll band. Triumphant drums, 24-carat bass, No nonsense guitar, pungent vocals along with random asides about “Class 2 orcs” Do you really need me to spell it out? Go see these guys! They won’t disappoint.

Billy Grey, Eduardo Garza and Sarah Tomek, when their powers combine they form Ben Franklin (the band not the historical figure). Fresh from the studio these BK rockers just put out a really excellent CD called Optimist. It’s a must download and it’s free at www.wearebenfranklin.com. I’ve been rocking this album for the last week so I know all the words, or at least the important ones. The Press and I gathered beneath the stage for their set. They played most if not all of the songs from their LP. I was singing and dancing along, the whole time. Sara's drum's and Eddie's bass lay the ground work for Billy's guitar to tank over and They all come through with fly by air support on vocals. It's not just good rock music, it's fun rock music too. They have a ton of concept without going over your head. That extremely hard to pull off.

After the show Billy, Eddie, Sara and I sat and had a couple of drinks with The Press at the bar. The conversation ranged from the power of the Internet, and it’s role in the music industry to talking about the differences of where we grew up in comparison to New York City. Billy offered me a ride back to the Path. I said my goodbyes and made my way home. I was feeling way cooler than I probably was right then, so I went home and knocked myself down a peg by falling asleep to Genesis’ We Can’t Dance album.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Album Review: Optimist - Ben Franklin

It was a cold Thursday in the beginning of September, when Billy Gray walked up behind me with a greeting and copy of his band's new album "Optimist". They had just released it a week back at a show I wasn't able to make. Eager to get my hands on it, I sent him my home address to check it out. He in turned hand delivered it to me. I didn't have time to even put it into my computer before I had to run out of the house. That night I got back home at 4am. There was the LP just sitting innocently where I left it. Exhausted from the night's event I figured I'd toss it in while I slept. That was the plan anyway. I didn't get a wink of sleep before I was rocking out!

The Album starts with a ground and pound full force drum beat that wades into Guitar and then vocals. It's a hell of a way to start an album and it certainly got my mojo rising. I was only fifteen seconds in. So now that I was awake, albeit drunk, I started writing down my first impressions and things that stuck out. Track 2 is called Drink to Forget. It's a phrase, as a tender of bar, that I'm all too familiar with. I'm expecting something somber and inflective, hell maybe even down right sad. It's starts out like that, with Billy poking jabs at 9-5ers and Lemonade cleanses, then something fucking awesome happens. Its all a rouse for a much tougher song. Guitar is everywhere. Billy Gray and Eduardo Garcia Garza bounce about on vocals and Sara Tomek reigns down sulfur and brimstone from the drums.

Track 6 is Catalyst. Again this song jumps right into the fray, this time with a pseudo-political fist. The chorus is pure rage, I'm talking basement show mosh-pit danger style rage. "I'm an easy target and I'm in love with your crosshair!" then back into instrumental mayhem! Dang, that's hot! Speaking of things above room temperature. Track 9 is Had it Comin'. This is totally my speed! I can't tell if it's just laying the ground rules for a one night stand or something a bit more broad, but it's genius, because the whole thing comes crashing down in the second chorus, when the roles are reversed. It's damn near Shakespearian. The CD's Final track, Fren Banklin, is too much! It's like that internet song about Washington, full of popular (and not so popular) myth about their four eyed name sake. It's certainly a great laugh. The best part about this CD? It's Free! You can Dl it for nothing at www.wearebenfranklin.com. There's really no excuse to not own it. One of the best things I've heard this year, and it cost me nothing! I highly recommend, this is a rock album in every sense of the word!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Through Time and Sound pt 4: 1998

1998. I was 18, starting my senior year of high school. I had a job at the comic shoppe still. Now I was developing a pretty strong taste for punk rock music. My friends were turning me onto bands like Operation Ivy, Suicide Machines and Nerf Herder. That year my friend Joe Posten and I were working in the Deptford Mall together on Friday nights. Joe turned me onto Joe Jackson. Even though the album itself Look Sharp! came out in 1979, it was certainly my soundtrack to 1998.

I was hanging out in pool halls, and comic shops. Joe Jackson was like life advice for a guy trying to find his place in the word, especially one as cynical as myself. I know it's hard to believe, but teen angst even gripped hold of the Rocker Tycoon. Joe covered all the topics: What to wear, trouble with women, topics of the day, and he still had time to crack a few jokes along the way.

This year I also picked up Rancid's Life Won't Wait. This record changed my life. It was ground and pound rock and roll. I had been searching for a band I could think of as a timeless favourite. Cross that existential search off my list. This was the kind of Music that you could fall down a flight of stairs to. From start to finish this is still one of my favourite albums. Every single song was great. Top five tracks were Leicester Square, Bloodclot, Wrongful Suspicion, Coppers and Black Lung. If I thought about that for more than a few seconds I'm sure it would change to five totally different songs. I also realize that this album was the black sheep of the Rancid Discography when it came out, but there was something there that was so much more than a street punk album. It was political without being preachy, hard without being caustic, and fast without being blazing. This is an album going 70 in a 65, and that’s why it prolly fell under the radar.

So that this time I was just really getting into comics hardcore. My friends at the shop were showing my books like Preacher and Sandman. But I was also reading a book called the Art of Deception. It was a book on argument. More specifically, it was a book about how to use logic to defeat an opponent. I bought this book solely for one reason: To annoy the piss out of anyone who would dare contradict me. And it worked well. I was almost shunned by all my friends within weeks. Take my advice DONT READ THIS BOOK. Also do not mistake this book for THE ART OF DECEPTION by Kevin Mitnick, Which is a lovely Social Engineering book I read in 2001. I'll go into that later on!
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