Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Night Out with my Two Dads!

Weird things ensue when worlds collide! But sometimes when it happens and makes for a good anecdote. Last Summer, I worked the Country Rock BBQ at Lucky 7. This the first of what was to become a series of monthly rock events from Lucky 7 Tavern. I was excited because the world famous Clark Bros. (The Baron Von Rosky Kralc and One Eyed Connivin' Ivan) were going to be the opening band. That's right true believers my pop and uncle were going to be getting together to play a set. I had also booked The Cross-town Country All Stars. So you'll understand when I say I was both excited and nervous to see how the crowd would react to two very real country acts. Everything went off without a hitch and both bands picked and grinned their ways into the hearts of this Jersey City dive.

Let me cut to the point! You're most likely curios about my title. Everyone had thought that Ace Case of the Cross-town Country All Stars was my dad. In the excitement of the day I had forgotten to introduce my father to the crowd. Fast forward to a few months later when I tell everyone that my dad will be coming back! So they assumed that the tall goofy cat(I mean that in the best possible way) from the C.T.C.A. was my dad. Of course, this got around and it became an inside joke between the three of us. Ace would go on to play several more shows around town with C.T.C.A. and on his own. He would shout out into the crowd, "There's my son, good to see he's out tonight!" To which my only reply could be, "You're not my real dad!" We'd have a good laugh whether or not anyone got it.

Once again titans clashed and they both played this Mardi Gras. My Dad, my real one, covers Mojo Nixon's Don Henley Must Die w/ Uncle John Becker. Ace Plays Douglas MacArthur (the Ha Ha song) And I made sure to get plenty of pictures and video. The quality of the videos is so much better! See for yourself!

Not Just Rock: The Madness to my Method or "Don't Fall In!"

Here's a little info on what makes the Rocker Tycoon who he is, and how he does what he does.

How did you get into doing this?

I've been a photographer since I was twenty. I started out doing high school sporting events and basement shows in New Brunswick for next to nothing. As far as music and the local scene is concerned, it was something that just came with being in the right place at the right time. I lived at two houses that hosted basement shows every weekend.

You don't get paid for this, so how do you get by?

Just like you and most of the bands I shoot and interview I'm working class, scraping by day to day. I cook and bar tend at a local pub in Jersey City. JC's a great place it's right near NYC and there's a flourishing music scene starting up here. So it's a perfect base of operations.

Who are your photography influences?

Well I think it goes without saying that Glen E. Friedman is a huge source of inspiration. I consider his photo book FUCK YOU HEROES to be one of the things that got me into shooting bands and just really helped me come up with ideas for how to look at the world through my lens.
My partner and longtime friend Kate Connolly has also been a huge source of knowledge, we are constantly critiquing each others work. More famously Cindy Sherman, Chad Pitman and Melanie McDaniels.

Any other influences you'd like to site?

Yea, definitely! My Dad, he's been playing the guitar around me since before I can remember. My mom, who's supported me unconditionally. In the journalistic sense, writers like Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, and Hunter S. Thompson. Really come through in my narratives about the bands. I like to think to myself, "How would these cats say it so it would entertain the reader without patronizing him." Neil Gaiman keeps me positive

What about music? Give us your all time top five bands?

In no particular order today, I'll go with:
Presidents of The United States of America
Murder By Death
Violent Femmes
Elvis Costello

I reserve to the right to change that at any time.

So as far as equipment goes, whats your set-up?

This is a hard question for me to come forth with. Because I believe that as a photographer your equipment is secondary to your overall skill and confidence in your craft. But having said that:


Nikon D200
SB-800 Flash
50mm 1.8 Nikkor Lens


I recently purchased a Samsung SC-MX20b. Before that I was using my LG Dare cell phone for video, for quality and fun's sake I wanted something with a little bit better sound recording.

Most importantly about all this equipment. I keep it light. I take the train to these shows or a cab, so I need to be mobile. Everything fits into a bag about the size of a kid's lunch box.

How can you be contacted by bands and managers to come out for shows?

The best way is Via e-mail: Clarkdarkroom@gmail.com
I use Myspace, Facebook and I've recently gone live on Twitter!

Now, answer your own question! How can we keep the local music scene alive?

It really is a four step process:
Step 1: Support your favourite local bands, that's the easy part!
Step 2: Look at how your local government deals with music. When I was in New Brunswick, the police would show up all the time to crash a basement show on a Friday or Saturday night. There are candidates out there that are music friendly. Register in your town and vote for them!
Step 3:???????
Step 4: PROFIT....oh wait sorry. Ha!

Any final thoughts?

Yea, Don't Fall In! You can quote me on that!

Not Just Rock: Intro

Last week I posted an aside called What Makes a Great Comeback Album?. I didn't expect the post to garner much more than a nod of respect and a bit of filler for a weekend spent working and not rockin'. It turns out this was the post most of you started taking interest in the Rocker Tycoon! With a bit of prodding and a few word of good advice from friends and critics alike, I've decided to post something like this each week in a segment I call Not Just Rock. Expect the first one later on today.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Marchin' on w/ Anyday Parade.

Friday Night I got out to O'Hara's in Downtown Jersey City, where Anyday Parade was due to play. No wait, slow down for a second, I guess I should start by saying I was planning on making this trip the whole day. After corresponding with one of the singer/guitarists of the band via text message I found that they where due to play two sets, one at 10:00 and one at 11:30. No stranger to procrastination and ill fortune, I awoke from a mid day nap gone wrong to find it was 9:40pm!!!!! Upon making this unfortunate revelation I dived from my poorly constructed Ikea deathtrap...er bed(which fell apart under my sinisterly deceptive weight) and entered the shower. I'll save you the gory details but suffice it to say I emerged from my watery tomb reborn and with about 12 minutes to get out into the blistering cold and sprint 10 blocks to the bar/venue. Shirt, jeans, boots, socks, track-jacket and boxers donned, I grabbed my equipment, trusty leather jacket, and scrammed out into the unforgiving Hudson wind. 7 mins left! I was going to make it with time to set up and catch the first song. ROCK AND ROLL!

It was at this time that I got the sneaking sense that I had left my memory card in it's reader back at home. Quickly I rummaged through my bag in the cold, only to come to the startling realization that not just my memory card was at home but my battery was dead!

There comes a point, dear reader, when a man's character is truly tested, when his will to do right fights his will to half ass it. Really it wasn't as epic as I make it sound but I turned back around to my home got a back up battery and my memory card. I ran back to O'Hara's. Only to find that they were starting late at 10:30pm and all this inner turmoil and self loathing was for naught! I so set up with plenty of time to grab a beer and persuade Jersey City's infamous DJ Alfonse to handle my video cam for the ensuing interview in between sets.

Having gotten that out of the way....Anyday Parade is a country rock band from Jersey City. They are a five piece rock option, With members spanning the states from Kentucky and Kansas to back east in Chill Town! The thing that really stands out about this band in a sea of traditional set up "Rock Band"...um bands is they have three vocalists. Much of that weight falls on the shoulders of the group's female lead Tree, but Larry and J.D. are right there to lend a hand just in case things get rockin'. And things definitely get rockin'! The Chucks ,Daly and Richards, on bass and drums (respectively) hold the down the deep end without getting too heavy to tread water.

Tree has this sort of Dolly Parton charm as she announces to the crowd for their fourth or fifth song of the night, "This next song's a cover of a song by a band called Anyday Parade!" She must have forewarned the crowd of several of the original "cover songs" the band had written. I got a total kick out of the joke. It seems that this was a kind of inside joke of the bands. It worked! The crowd was certainly into it. Without further ado here's a song and an interview to go with the shots I took of the band.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

At the Khyber kickin it with Astronomy

Tuesday morning around 7am I received a text message from none other than Pete Hagen of Belmawr New Jersey. It seemed his band was playing later that night and he wanted the Rocker Tycoon to stop by for an interview. For those of you how don't know Pete Hagen, he can only be described as the patron saint of southern New Jersey metal. I can remember working with him in Legends Comics and Games back in early 2000. Man, the stories this guy would tell you! Like how he and his brother remember buying Metallica's Black Album the day it came out. He is responsible for turning me onto the Smiths, Morrissey and Joe Jackson not to mention The Warriors movie and Skip-bo!. There are several thousand stories about this man floating somewhere over rt 130. But today's story involves his new band: Astronomy.
So I get my ass up, get my gear together, inform Pete I'm gonna take the long way down (Goo Goo Dolls pun not intended). I make my way down via the train. Twittering (Rockertycoon) anyone who will listen. I can only guess that people started getting up around 8pm, because that's when I got the call that esteemed rock colleague and Camera-man Walter Hackett would be showing up as well! So we hit Philadelphia's Khyber on South Second Street around 9:40 Just as Ganto Barn was finishing up. Astronomy plugged in started rockin' out, Eric Serota (Guitar) provoked the mood with some monster riffs. Chris Post (Bass) held down the sound some heavy low end. Craig P. (Drums) crash-landed onto the scene with some serious double bass. Pete (Vox)strangled the mic and did not let go until the last song. Of course I was there for more than just moral support! I took a ton of pics and even did a few interviews. For the sake of blog and size I'm just gonna give you a few of the more choice shots and my interview with Astronomy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What makes a great comeback album?

I procured a copy of one of my favourite band's new albums. I'm still dissecting it, and as I said before I wouldn't be a review blog. That's for some other blogger to tackle. I didn't get out to see a show this week. And I thought interviewing myself Saturday night while I was DJing would have been a touch big headed of me. But as I'm here listening to this album, trying to figure out whether I dig it or if I think the band is better off just playing their old stuff or I think that they have evolved musically for the better or worse (I'm looking at you, A.F.I!!!). Well all that's swirling in my head. So I'm thinking what makes a follow-up album worth adding to my collection? If its a bands second or seventh album there's a loose formula that I think makes a great Sophmore (or fifth year senior) LP.

1: Original Members
This is the first thing that comes to mind for me. Before the recording begins, has the line-up changed? Are they really still the same band?

Some Culpirts:

Smashing Pumpkins

2: First Song

That first song has to really grab you. There has to be a foreshadowing of whats to come and how this album wants you to see it.

Big ups to:
Rancid - .....And out comes the wolves - Maxwell Murder
Avett Bros. - Emotionalism - Die Die Die
The Presidents of the United States of America - These are the Good Times People - Mixed up SOB

3: Genre Buster
That one song on the album that shows you the band is evolving or at least branching out and trying something that they weren't before. (Sometimes the whole album goes in this direction, it can either be genius or disaster.)

Mad Props:

Cake - Bsides and rarities - Thrills
Thursday - Common Existence - You were the Cancer
Lou Reed - The Raven the whole gosh darned album!.... This was just out of sane!

4: End it Epically
The final song really should summarize the album. This goes for any album first or fifth. If you don't listen to any of the other points I've made listen to this one please. So many great albums have been marred this one way.

Phenomenal Finale!
Murder by Death - In Bocca al Lupo - The Devil Drives
No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom - Tragic Kingdom
Osker - Idle will Kill - Disconnect, Disconnect
honorable mention
Rollins Band - Get Some Go Again - LA MONEY TRAIN

5: Gives us something we feel comfortable with.
Make sure that within all this new material you hearken back to a time when we were all more innocent and everything you put out was gold. Show us you haven't forgotten the people that made you successful enough to put out another album.

Musical Comfort Food

Tiger Army - Music from Regions Beyond - Forever Fades Away
Soul Coughing - El Oso - So Far I Have Not Found the Science
Rage Against the Machine - The Battle Of Los Angeles - Mic Check

6: The Jackals Are Wrong!

Most IMPORTATLY: The Critics are wrong! If the album rocked, they think it was the worthless pandering of a couple of chimps on a davenport. If they think it rocked they are probably telling us something we already know.

These are some of the things I ask myself when I check out a new album from a band I already dig. Then the final test is to just randomly listen to the whole discography and see how that makes you feel. At the end of the day theres nothing much you can do aside from hope that this album fits into their discography.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Comic Con Hiatus

The Tycoon took the Weekend off on rock and roll to pursue another hobby of mine! Pop Culture in it's most concentrated form: The NY COMIC CON! I started my day at Jersey City's FJB COMICS then headed off. I met up with fellow Comic Geeks, Walt Hackett, Rob Messick and Brian Milligan. While Brian and Rob spent the day procuring shwag, signatures and sketches, Walt and I set out on the very ambitionous task of giving the layman an idea of the experience of the event thru the use of my cell phone camera. Sound quality is spotty and camerawork is a little rough. But what you have here is the very first of many more "gonzo" style mini documentaries from Rocker Tycoon. I hope that the insight you gain from this 12 minute ramble and rant gets you craving more! More rocker and rock pics to come in the next few days.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Will DJ Bill See his Shadow Tomorrow?

Last Night, after the Superbowl, The Rocker Tycoon was able to muster up the sobriety to coerce William McCamie A.K.A. DJ Bill into an interview. Bill DJs all over Jersey City and in New York. He's really opened up the market for young DJs and musicians to find work showcasing their talents. I wouldn't say he's the hardest working man in show business, but definitely in Jersey City. Currently Bill splits his time in JC between O'Connels, Lucky 7 Tavern, The Majestic, IM Automato Chino, and even as a few boutiques in the city. It seems you can't find a place in this town where DJ Bill hasn't made his presence known. Without further delay here's the interview!
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