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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. Book coming soon!
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Pop Shots – A Playlist For Going Out In Your 40s
Monday, October 14, 2019

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, with my 41st birthday being tomorrow, I decided to make this week's Pop Shots a special playlist dedicated to going out in your 40s.

As you know, I attend a lot of concerts, but seeing anywhere from 75 to 100 bands in a year while in your 40s is waaaaay different from when you’re in your 20s. How so? This playlist will explain, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

Winger – Seventeen

I knew that during the final years of Warped Tour I was going to feel like everyone’s dad – partially because a buddy of mine got into the event with a “guardian” pass because he was chaperoning a teenage family member – but over the past year this phenomenon has started happening in music venues that you need to be of legal drinking age to enter.

Multiple times this year I’ve looked around, turned to a buddy, and commented that damned near everyone looked like they should be working on their algebra homework.

In your 40s, everyone under 30 looks like a child, so while someone may actually be 28, as far as I can tell, “she’s only seventeen.”

Ariana Grande – “Problem”

Back in my younger years, having a few drinks, and then having a few more, was easy. I’d feel perfectly fine the next morning, and be able to go on about my day like nothing happened. Now the only thing I’m excessive about is moderation (that actually makes sense. I swear.). After a few drinks I know I could have another, but I’d rather wake up feeling refreshed than feeling like death, so I’ll pass.

When it comes to that extra drink, to quote Ariana Grande, “I got one less problem without ya.”

Mötley Crüe – “Home Sweet Home”

Admission – I have fantasized about my bed while at concerts where one of the bands isn’t especially good, and if the final band I’m there to see isn’t wowing me I have no issue with leaving the show early to catch an extra half hour of sleep.

“I’m on my way / I’m on my way / Home sweet home”

Christina Aguilera – “Come On Over”

Honestly, at this point if I’m going to drink, I’d prefer to do it at home, where the alcohol is cheaper, and I don’t have to worry about driving anywhere. Friends are always welcome to “Come On Over,” however, I’m also fine …

Billy Idol – “Dancing With Myself”

That’s right, I will have a one person dance party, and there won’t be anybody who can judge my moves – or incredible lack there of.

The Dance Dance Revolution will not be televised!

Katy Perry – “Wide Awake”

Ten years ago Semisonic’s “Closing Time” would’ve been on my “Going Out” playlist, because, like Aerosmith, my feeling was “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” In my 40s, however, I’m more interested in being “Wide Awake” the next morning, and being an actual functioning human being … or at least my version of one. Hey, work has to get done, bills have to be paid, weights need to be lifted, errands need to be run. I can only do a few of those things half dead.

The Summer Set – “All In”

Of course, there’s an exception to every rule, so even in my 40s, in the right circumstance, and around the right group of friends, there’s a chance I might be going “All In.”

“Now it’s 4AM in the parking lot / We’ll be singing Blink songs ’til the sun comes up / Cause I don’t know if we’ll be here again / Singing, ‘oh, we're going all in.’”

And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Stacking The Deck with The Motor Tom
Friday, October 11, 2019

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

Serious musicians who are equally serious about having a good time, The Motor Tom have been giving NYC’s indie rock scene a heaping dose of fun for over half a decade.

The fivesome (photographed L to R: Chris, Luca, Andrew, Nick, JJ) just released their latest EP, Lava Land, and according to frontman Nick Schupak, “(It) will be the first in a series of 4 or 5 … or 10 EPs, all existing in a universe of loose affiliation, like Tarantino characters, or ‘90s video game levels.”

Any universe The Motor Tom is providing the soundtrack for is a universe you want to be in.

I caught up with Nick, Andrew, and Chris at the legendary Upper East Side dive Subway Inn to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about a brutal review of one of Nick’s earliest attempts to sing, an unexpected porn connection, and waking up to Paul Stanley.

Michael Bolton

Andrew: We’ll start with Michael Bolton. My Michael Bolton story is that when I was growing up, when I was about 12-16, I looked exactly like Michael Bolton, but not this Michael Bolton, Michael Bolton from Office Space.

I would go into the guitar store and the guys would go, “Huh huh, Michael Bolton’s here, huh huh,” and you know what, they were right, I did look a lot like Michael Bolton.

It ended up working in my favor. I embraced it. Lots of my early band stuff has me in an Office Space Michael Bolton t-shirt. I embraced that, and I thought it was great.

Nick: What you should have said when they said, “Hey, you look like Michael Bolton,” is, “Well you guys can just eat my ass.”

Andrew: Yeah. Exactly. It was a weird meta situation because the whole point was Michael Bolton shared the same name as Michael Bolton, and he was a no talent ass clown, but I shared the my face with Michael Bolton, who I thought was a no talent ass clown, but I didn’t know how to say that in any way, shape, or form, so it just really made my head spin.

It’s tough as a teenager.

Andrew: It’s not the best years. {laughs}

Nick: This is not about Michael Bolton, per se, but the song “When a Man Loves a Woman” … in sophomore year of college, before I actually learned to sing – I wanted to sing, but I hadn’t studied singing at all, and didn’t know how to do it – I was absolutely belting “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the original version (by Percy Sledge), not realizing my windows were open, because I was smoking in my room, which you weren’t supposed to do.

We had invited a friend of ours over who, when she walked in she rapped very loudly on my door and said, “Nick, we can hear you all the way down the hill, and you sound terrible.”

Everyone: {laughs}

Lord Tracy

Chris: Did you guys see Lord Tracy?

You know Lord Tracy?

Chris: Do you know who Traci Lords is?


Nick: That makes a lot more sense now, doesn’t it?

Chis: That’s a much more intimate association.

Nick: Before porno was supposed to make you cum.

{reading the back of the card} “They were originally named 3-D, then The Tracy Lords, but a lawsuit of the same named actress caused the change to the present moniker.”

Chris: Wasn’t she underage?

Nick: Yeah, she was a 16 year old girl.

Chris: I mean, the content is still out there.

I think if you access it you’re in a lot of trouble, though.

Nick: You’ll be fine doing that. Just do it before 8AM. They haven’t woken up yet.

If you were to rename The Motor Tom after a pornographic film star who would it be?

Nick: Jenna Haze.

Andrew: I can’t believe you’re just shafting Tori Black like that.

Nick: Or it would be a male porn star?

Andrew: Lexington Steele.

Nick: He went to Syracuse.

So you have a connection.

Chris: It’s a big connection.

Nick: Lexington Steele did go to Syracuse, class of ’91, lived on South campus. He said it snowed so much his sophomore year there was nothing to do but fuck. It’s like, that kinda sounds like your entire life.

Chris: Just like my college experience, except the exact opposite.


Andrew: I picked Madonna because we’re not necessarily deep late ‘80s / early ‘90s type people, but our music really really is, and I think a gigantic reason for that is Madonna.

For my whole life there’s been some songs by Madonna I’ve always really liked, but the last few years I’ve really really gotten more into her, and what she does, and I appreciate her influence on all music.

I think one of the fun things about us in relation to Madonna – which I think about a disturbing amount of time – is that our music is kind of blending the electronic elements of Madonna, and that kind of inherent danciness, with what we do, but then kind of overlaying a little more ’60s / ‘70s vocal style, maybe early ‘80s. Vocal sounds are a huge part of what we do.

I think the drum sound, for sure, (is an influence), and the biggest thing that I take from (her music) is the Stratocaster rhythm part. The in-between position of a Strat is kind of this plucky, ducky, funk sound, and it’s all over so many of her songs, like “Like a Virgin,” and “Like a Prayer.”

Chris: Do you think that comes from the Nile Rodgers influence?

Andrew: Absolutely. 100%. Although I think her very first album wasn’t with Nile Rodgers, but it sounds a lot like Nile Rodgers.

I would say you’re seeing a lot of her stuff from the early ‘90s come back, a lot of that house piano type stuff, and rolling 909s instead of 808s, you’re seeing a lot of that stuff in music this year. We’ll see if it’s a trend, or if it really goes on, but we’re definitely borrowing from a little bit of that,

Nick: Also, I sucked Dennis Rodman’s dick.

And drawing off of that, The Motor Tom are very big supporters of Kim Jung Un.

Andrew: We did play in North Korea once.

Nick: We did play Pyongyang.

Wait … really?

Everyone: {laughs}

Andrew: We do have an album called Live at Pyongyang that has not been released.

Nick: It does sound like it was recorded at Pyongyang.

Paula Abdul

Nick: I don’t know Paula’s music very well, however, Paula was dating a man named Brad Beckerman, who was the son of the founder and president of Starter. Remember the sports apparel company?

Yeah, Starter jackets.

Nick: So, my first concert ever was Boyz II Men, right after their second album.

How old were you?

Chris: 48.

Everyone: {laughs}

Nick: Still a virgin, though.

Andrew: Like Madonna?

Nick: I was probably around 10.

What an odd age to see Boyz II Men live.

Nick: Yeah, that was my first concert, me and my dad seeing Boyz II Men. Brad Beckerman came over and showed me how – and it was still culturally appropriate to say this out – how to do the “Black” handshake.

Andrew: Is Mr. Beckerman Black?

Nick: No

Andrew: Also, before we get sued for libel I want to say we’re making this entire story up. That man doesn’t exist. There were no Starter jackets.

Nick: But they went on stage that night, and it was a great show. Paula Abdul is tangentially involved in this because she was dating Brad Beckerman at the time, who I ran into at the concert.

Wow. That is quite the off-ramp. Did you score? I mean it WAS a Boyz II Men show.

Nick: I fucked my dad.

That’s not a great story.

Nick: Andrew said coming into this, “Say things that are outrages. He’s looking for a headline.”

Andrew: So far, so good.

Chris: “The singer of The Motor Tom fucked his dad after Boyz II Men concert”

At age 10.

Nick: Who said after?

The Neville Brothers

Keeping things in the family – The Neville Brothers

Nick: The way I know Aaron Neville, beyond the cotton commercials, is because he sang a lot with one of my all-time favorite artists, Linda Ronstadt.

I was raised on a steady diet of U2, Bob Marley, and Linda Ronstadt, so I heard a lot of Aaron Neville singing with Linda.

I think one of the things that’s interesting about her is she’s been quoted on a number of occasions saying how she was never terribly interested in working on her own music, she didn’t really want to write songs, but delivering her own approach to songs that were already written was always something that steered her creativity.

This has always been something interesting to me because, especially with The Motor Tom, we’re quite the opposite. It’s fun to play other people’s songs, but we don’t really tend to do it.

Andrew: Which is exactly why Chris and I announcing today that we’re departing to become The Eagles.

Everyone: {laughs}

Nick: I hate the fucking Eagles.


Andrew: Nick has an actual connection.

Nick: A good friend of my dad’s is Bob Ezrin, who produced a number of KISS albums. He also produced The Wall, and wrote a number of songs on The Wall.

Bob wrote (the KISS song) “Beth,” and he co-wrote “Detroit Rock City.”

Bob’s also just a very warm, sweet, guy. I always think back, I haven’t seen him in like six years, and the last time I saw him was one of the times in my life when I was sort of transitioning from being a real rock n roll guy to trying to be more of an upstanding fucking midtown money making corporate cog, so when I saw him, instead of giving him a big hug like I normally would, and like he would like, I shook his hand, and I think that hurt his feeling a little bit.

That’s one KISS story, another KISS story is my little brother, who is nine years my minor … is that right?

Nine years your junior?

Nick: I write the lyrics in the band. {laughs}

By the time my brother was four years old he was a huge KISS fan, so he had every KISS album, KISS figurines, KISS everything, and we shared a room for the first seven years of his life.

Bringing home a girl must have been fun.

I didn’t have to worry about that. I didn’t have to worry about that until I was 28.

So KISS came out with an album – they were on their farewell tour, which, by the way, they are still on – the album was called Psycho Circus. I had that sweet CD player that hung on the wall, and had two little built in speakers, and you could set it as your alarm clock to start playing a CD. So every morning from 9th through 11th grade you would hear Paul Stanley – imagine what Paul Stanley’s singing is like 30 years after he was a bad singer – “Hello / here I am / here we are / we are one.” That would wake me up for school every morning, so I would turn that off and go right back to bed.

Andrew: You know Chuck Klosterman, I think he did a ranking of every KISS album … I think he forgot that one.

On this card they were on their 23rd album.

Andrew: I think there’s like 30 or 40 (now). It’s a lot, but I will say this about them, they are definitely, despite that, still a little bit underrated because of the influence they had on so many amazing bands. Weezer, obviously, is a gigantic one. That kind of major low end guitar power cord type rock.

Performance-wise they also influenced a whole lot of artists – wearing makeup, elaborate stage shows, pyro.

Andrew: And yet I feel like they’re not in the canon, you know what I mean?

Because they’re thought of as basically having one song that they keep repeating.

Andrew: Right, but yet they have 40 albums. They’re such an enigma.

Nick: They’re rock stars. Whether you want to call them great musicians or not, that’s up to you.

For more of The Motor Tom, check out themotortom.com, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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NYC Scene Report – Jake Palumbo, Pom Pom Squad, & more
Wednesday, October 09, 2019

This week’s NYC Scene Report features Jake Palumbo getting a “$50 Haircut,” something “Heavy Heavy” from Pom Pom Squad, Best Ex telling us about “Bad Love,” and Emmrose thinking about “Tonight.”

* Jake Palumbo – emcee, producer, and CEO of SpaceLAB Recordings – wants to tell you about the power of a “$50 Haircut.”

The first single off his just released, self-produced, 9-song project, The Hundred-Thousandaire Hobo (available via SpaceLAB Recordings / Soulspazm Records), “$50 Haircut” is an ode to looking fresh, and with that as the subject matter, Palumbo knew he had to have a video to match.

The clip was directed by Donald Robinson Cole III (aka Megadon), and was shot on location at Etiket Barber & Lifestyle Co. in Jersey City, NJ.

Palumbo explained his inspiration for “$50 Haircut” in a statement, saying, “As the self-anointed Best Hair In Indie Rap, it only makes sense the first single pay tribute to the euphoria one feels stepping out the chair with a fresh cut.”

In addition to “$50 Haircut,” The Hundred-Thousandaire Hobo features a variety of sounds – from boom bap, to trap, – and “dense bars combined with absurdist humor to form the Brooklyn-tinged Southern gravy that you've come to expect.”

Check out “$50 Haircut,” and get fresh with Jake Palumbo.

* You know how sometimes you’ll hear a band an immediately go, “Holy sh*t! This is freakin’ fantastic!” That’s the reaction you’re going to have when you check out Pom Pom Squad.

No, they aren’t here to root for your local college football team. They’re hear to melt your face off.

Led by Mia Berrin, the Brooklyn-based grunge rock quartet released their sophomore EP, Ow, last month, the lead single off of which is “Heavy Heavy.”

Check out the video for “Heavy Heavy” – which has some serious ‘90s vibes – and see why the band prides themselves on managing to be serious without taking themselves too seriously.

* When checking out the latest from Best Ex there’s a chance you’ll recognize the vocals, because you may already be familiar with Mariel Loveland from her former project, Candy Hearts.

Moving from rock to indie pop, Loveland recently released “Bad Love,” which is the first new music from Best Ex since the Ice Cream Anti-Social EP came out in 2017.

Explaining the inspiration for the song, she says, “Honestly, my entire life, I’ve wondered who the heck is the type of person that drinks cocktails at hotels in Manhattan. Yet, I somehow found myself there, stirring the ice in my $20 cocktail and thinking about why I’m always following the type of love that I know is going to hurt me.”

Loveland continued, adding, “That moment felt like some sort of wake up call to adulthood after years of reading those highly dramatic Cosmo, or Vice, essays about dating in NYC, and picturing how that happens, and how someone finds themselves there. I went from being this timid, terrified girl drinking lukewarm beer in a college dorm room, to this brave but cartoonish image I always had of a single New Yorker, yet nothing actually changed at all. I was still unhappy, and I was still unable to let go of the same person who made my heart skip when I saw him during college orientation.”

Expect “Bad Love” to be the first of many new releases from Best Ex, as Loveland states, “I have a lot of songs on my computer’s hard drive. It almost feels like they’'e mad at me for letting them rot on a cheap HP that I purchased on Black Friday. What a terrible fate. They deserve better, and they’re ready to be shown to the world – very soon.”

For now we can fall in love with “Bad Love.”

* Indie pop singer-songwriter Emmrose made her first appearance in this column back in July, and now she’s back with another fantastic single, “Tonight.”

Explaining the song in a statement, Emmrose said, “‘Tonight’ was heavily inspired by one moment/memory I semi-created in my head. I was at party where I didn’t really know many people there. It was dark, and the music was crazy loud … I just felt like I didn’t belong.”

She continued, adding, “Most of the first verse is about this guy I really liked, and trying to hide the fact I was still into him. As I wrote more of the song, I remembered seeing him there at a party. The night was memorable because while I was feeling alone, and semi-ostracized, I also didn’t want him to notice.”

With songs like “Tonight,” pretty soon everyone will be taking notice of Emmrose.

For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Pop Shots – Not Quite Yet
Monday, October 07, 2019

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with thoughts on everything from Kanye West’s delayed gospel album, to why we shouldn’t expect new music from Lil Nas X anytime soon, to 6ix9ine possibly becoming someone else entirely, and since this is Pop Shots you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

* Kanye West pushed back the release of his first gospel album, Jesus Is King, and fans are still waiting to find out when it will be available. If he was really the genius he thinks he is, he’d have announced the project was dead, and then released it three days later.

* Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be performing at halftime of the Super Bowl this coming February. The NFL no longer has commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs during games, but I think this will accomplish the same goal.

* Fiona Apple called out Lil Nas X, claiming he sampled her song “Every Single Night” on his song “Kim Jung.” “Kim Jung,” however, was on Lil Nas X’s Nasarati mixtape, which isn’t on any major streaming platform, so Apple may have to settle for remuneration in the form of being a guest on an “Old Town Road” remix.

* In more Lil Nas X news, the singer announced he’s taking a break from music, saying, “It's been a wild last 7 months.” I think this is the part when the voiceover goes “… and he was never heard from again.” OK, I joke, but on a more real note, if the public pressure we put on musicians is so big it’s causing them to want to retreat after just one song, perhaps we should reassess how we act.

* Taylor Swift’s Lover has been certified platinum by the RIAA. A number of her ex-lovers have been certified platinum, as well.

* Luke Combs’ What You See Is What You Get Tour set a record for the fastest sell out in Rupp Arena’s 43-year history, taking just 12 minutes to move all the tickets. The previous record for the Lexington, KY, venue was 13 minutes, set by Paul McCartney’s Freshen Up Tour in June of this year. If either artist is anything like the usual resident of the arena, their accomplishments will end up having to be vacated after an NCAA investigation.

* After outing countless members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, 6ix9ine is eyeing a possible 2020 release from prison. According to The New York Times, one option on the table for prosecutors is having the rapper enter a witness protection program. Personally, I had no idea our judicial system had such a good sense of humor. Witness protection? For a guy who looks like THIS?

* Phish announced they will have a four-night run of shows – December 28th through 31st – at Madison Square Garden to close out the year. The NYPD, in turn, announced they will have a record number of drug arrests near Madison Square Garden, December 28th through 31st.

* Green Day and the NHL have entered into a two-year partnership which will include the debut of a new song during an October 9th broadcast, and the band having top billing as the headlining act at this season’s All-Star Game. Nothing against Green Day, who are a legendary band, but c’mon NHL, there’s literally an artist who goes by Five for Fighting. OK, maybe it isn’t really NHL music, but still, he has the name!

And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
Fastball Still Brings The Heat – Miles Zuniga On The Band’s Enduring Success
Friday, October 04, 2019

No one would blame the men of Fastball if they simply wanted to rest on their laurels. The band – which consists of Joey Shuffield, Tony Scalzo, and Miles Zuniga (photo: L to R) – had some of the biggest hits of the ‘90s with song like “The Way,” and “Out of My Head.”

Living in the past, however, isn’t as interesting to them as creating in the present.

Zuniga notes that not every artist with hits on their resume shares this feeling, saying, “I know a lot of people, they’re just playing songs from 25 years ago, and they don’t really bother making new records because they feel like, ‘What’s the point? No one cares. Everyone just wants to hear these songs.’ I’ve never felt that way. I doggedly pursue my muse.”

The latest example of Zuniga, and the rest of Fastball, pursuing their muse is the trio’s upcoming album, The Help Machine, which is their seventh overall, and is due out October 18th on the band’s own 33 1/3 label.

“The funny part is we used to bitch about how long it would take a record company to put out a record,” Zuniga says with a laugh, “and now we’re the record company, and it takes even longer than it used to when we were signed to major labels.”

So maybe Fastball occasionally operates more like an off-speed pitch, but they’re making music that’s worth the wait.

With The Help Machine on its way, I caught up with Zuniga to find out about the project, as well as the highs and lows of having a mega-hit, the time Jerry Springer joined them on stage, and some of the adventures he had touring in the days before GPS.

The Help Machine is arriving as you’re about to enter your 25th year as a band. A LOT has gone on in 25 years. What have been some of the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make when it comes to making and releasing music today versus in the ‘90s?

It’s very different, but in some ways it’s the same.

I guess I’m like Michael Caine – they asked him why he works so much, and he’s like, “Because I always think it’s gonna be my last gig.” I kind of feel the same way. In a way I’m always like – wow, I can’t believe I’m getting away with this!

The distribution system has changed. It used to be you had to go to a record label, but now you don’t. The difference is record labels … people complained about ‘em, because they filtered out a lot of things, but for me, if you could make it through that filter it could be good, because they could provide you with money. They had the capital, and if they decided to promote you, if they thought they could make some money off you, they would deploy a lot of money that way, and get you in front of people.

That has kind of changed. I guess it’s still the same if you’re Ariana Grande, and they know they’re gonna get their investment back. They have a lot of money to spend on someone like that, but your average guy that’s out there fighting to get noticed amongst everyone and his brother … it didn’t used to be everyone and his brother could record their record at home. It’s a lot more crowded.

But in ways it’s still the same. Everyone’s still trying to get noticed. Everyone’s still fighting for their little share of real estate. I try not to think too hard about that. That takes away from all the great things that are there when you play music.

It’s there, but it’s like traffic jams when you’re driving. {laughs}

There’s a political lilt to some of the songs on The Help Machine. Were there some things you felt you needed to get off your chest?

Not really.

The funny part is all that stuff happened before 2016, before Donald Trump was elected.

My songs, I can’t speak for Tony’s songs, but the songs I sing – I wrote “Surprise Surprise” … I think it was in 2014. A much more innocent time. I was just sitting there in my room messing around with the cord changes and all of a sudden I had a song. I kinda of filed it away, and when we were looking for songs we always do what I call “drag the river” – you go through your hard drive and go, “What’s this? What’s that?,” and there’s a ton of songs on there that a lot of times you’ve just forgotten about because if you don’t play them out you might forget about them. Then you realize, “Oh wow, what an amazing song! I can’t believe I wrote this,” and all the work is done already! {laughs}

That’s gotta feel good. The work’s done! It was done over the course of a number of years, but it’s done.

Whenever it gets done, it’s done. Without the work what would you have? That’s the way I look at it.

What makes me happy is that feeling of productivity, and having a little something to do every day. It doesn’t have to be all day long, but as long as I’ve got the morning, or something, to work on music, and I may not always get to it every day, but at least the thought of it, it’s a good thing.

It’s a vocation. It’s my life. It wouldn’t matter if I could make a living at it or not. I’m very very lucky that I make a living at what I’m interested in doing, but even if I had to work some regular stiff job I’d still be playing music, and if I couldn’t play music I’d pick something else artistic.

I love the feeling of getting better at something every day. I practice piano all the time, and I don’t ever play piano live. Rarely are you gonna get to hear me play piano, and you should count yourself lucky, but I’m not playing so that people can hear it, it’s for me. It’s like ooh, I couldn’t do that yesterday, or last week, and now I can. That’s incredibly satisfying.

It keeps your brain healthy, too. Your brain will just atrophy if you’re not trying to teach it new things.

Anything creative usually involves really high highs, and really low lows. You had a really high high with “The Way,” and the subsequent singles, but once that died down did you experience any emotional lows, or was your attitude more like “Fuck it. We’re making music, and that makes us happy”?

It was a definite come down to go from flying that high, and then suddenly stuff starts to just slow down, but that’s when you have to decide who you are. Maybe at some point I thought I got into it to be a “rock star,” or make a lot of money, or meet girls, but those things are all just trappings. Those things aren’t the thing. If I’d been in it for that I guess I would’ve been really devastated.

It was hard, because you’re making a lot of money, and everything is going how you thought it would in your head, and then suddenly you feel like, “Wow, no one cares about us anymore.” But lo and behold, a few years later you realize that plant’s not dead. I haven’t watered it in years, but it’s still there. It’s like a fucking cactus.

I was gonna say, it’s like a cactus, it isn’t something you can kill very easily.

Apparently not, because there have been periods of extreme neglect in terms of the group.

At some point I was like, “This thing’s still alive. We really ought to water the plant.”

I’m just grateful that people still care. It’s been a LONG time, and people still listen to our music. We just finished a tour of Spain, and all these people came out, and people were singing really loud. I was like wow, this is insane.

It’s like throwing a little message in a bottle, and someone on the other side of the world reads it. That stuff really makes it worthwhile for me. That’s what it’s all about – communication, and expression, and those kinds of things.

I saw you guys a number of years ago in Stamford, CT. I feel like maybe you were on tour with Sugar Ray.

Probably. For better or worse, that’s where people want to stick us, in that ‘90s slot with people that were on the radio at the same time. Whether we have that much in common musically, or not, doesn’t seem to be relevant. {laughs}

Was that the time Jerry Springer came out?

Yes! I believe he’d just started filming his show in Stamford that year.

We didn’t actually invite him to sing. I just said, “Hey, Jerry’s here,” and next thing I knew he was headed up to the stage. I wasn’t gonna tell him no, I just thought wow, this is fucking surreal. Then he wanted to sing “Me and Bobby McGee,” and I don’t think he knew all the words.

Baba Booey was there, as well.

Going back to the ‘90s for a minute, what would you consider to be the pinnacle of riding the wave of “The Way”? Was there a specific person that told you they’re a fan of yours and it blew you away?

Yeah, there were lots of people. Peter Frampton came up to me, came up to me, and said, “Miles. Peter. Great album.”

Shit like that is just fantastic.

Bon Jovi asked us to tour with him. We actually told him no. In hindsight I wish we had gone on that tour, but hindsight is 20-20.

There were a lot of accolades. I was on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. Stuff like that was happening all the time, but the highlight was hearing our song on the radio every five minutes, and traveling all over the world. It really was fun. It was amazing. I mean, I’d recommend it to anybody. {laughs}

So having a hit song is a great thing to do?

It sure is.

You mentioned traveling all over the world, so let’s get some tour stories. You toured in the era before GPS, so what’s the most lost you’ve ever been while on the road?

I don’t know. People are helpless now. It wasn’t that hard.

Before Fastball I was in this rockabilly band and we would just bail like – “OK, show’s over. I’m going over here.” “I’m going with these people to this.” “Where are you staying?” “I don’t even know.”

You’d just disappear, and then somehow, by hook or by crook, find everybody the next morning to go to the next town.

I don’t know how I did it, but I do know that it wasn’t that big a deal because we did it a lot.

The most lost I’ve ever been … I’ve never really been that lost, but one time I was in this band Big Car, with Joey (Shuffield) … I wear glasses – I’m kind of blind as a bat without them – and I was asleep in the back of the van when we pulled into a truck stop. It’s like 6am, and we’re on our way to Chicago. Our guitar player was driving, he got out, and I decided I needed to use the restroom, and get some water, or something. So I went into this convenience store, I don’t even think I had proper shoes, I think was wearing flip flops, and I didn’t have my glasses on, couldn’t see shit, but I could see enough to find my way to the bathroom. When I came back out the van was gone. I wasn’t sure, because that’s how blind I am, but I was like – it’s gone. They left me.

This was 1987, there were no cell phones. I was just sitting there at this truck stop. I made a collect call to my manager at the time, and she accepted the charges. I told her they left me here, I didn’t have my wallet, I didn’t have anything, and there was no way for her to call them. I was like well, I guess I’ll just chill out. They eventually came back like an hour later.

It took them that long!

Well, they drove half an hour without realizing I wasn’t there.

Even then, I kid you not, I was scheming of ways to get to Chicago. I was like – there’s a lot of truckers here, I bet I could get one to give me a ride, and once I get to Chicago I’ll hunt down the venue and make the gig.

Make the gig. That’s my mantra.

Make the gig.

No matter what. It’s not that hard. Make the gig!

So I was even thinking about it then, like there’s a way to make this gig, even if they don’t come back.

For more Fastball, check out fastballtheband.com, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments
NYC Scene Report - Purr, Jesse Malin, & more
Wednesday, October 02, 2019

This week’s NYC Scene Report features the debut of Purr (who are actually two very familiar faces for longtime readers of this column), Jesse Malin singing stories from his decades in the scene, Foxes in Fiction with something very non-fiction, and Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show having no shortage of strangeness.

* You may remember seeing an indie pop duo named Jack + Eliza featured here a handful of times between 2014 and 2016. If you liked their music, I have a feeling you’ll also like the band Purr – because it’s Jack + Eliza!

The duo recently signed to ANTI- Records, which will be releasing the first Purr album in 2020. Listeners don’t have to wait until next year to hear Purr, however, as the duo are already making a splash with their first single, “Take You Back.”

Eliza Callahan and Jack Staffen discussed “Take You Back” in a statement, saying “‘Take You Back’ is one of the first songs we wrote as Purr, which is why it felt right to share it with you early on. We were shifting gears when we wrote and demoed this song, just stepping into a new and expanded sound that was naturally unfolding and taking hold. We had just graduated from college and were writing constantly out of an empty basement space that the last kind landlord in New York City has let us use. In July of 2017 we arranged and recorded the first version of ‘Take You Back.’”

It’s safe to say that whatever name they choose, we will always take them back!

* Veteran musician Jesse Malin has been a mainstay in NYC’s music scene since the ‘90s, when his punk rock band, D Generation, rose to fame. Over the years he’s switched gears, and gone the acoustic singer-songwriter route, but as his latest album, Sunset Kids, proves, he’s just as good, and poignant, as ever.

Malin explained the inspiration for Sunset Kids, which was produced by Lucinda Williams and Tom Overby, and is out now via Wicked Cool Records, saying, “From the early frontier days of hardcore in New York, to all the punk rock and singer-songwriter touring, it's all been about survival and reinvention. I wanted to make an open-sounding record with the space to tell these stories. I like to write about characters and people I meet along the way – the dreamers, schemers, hustlers, romantics, lovers, leavers and believers.”

Meet some of those folks by clicking play on the video for “When You’re Young.”

* Foxes in Fiction, the indie pop project of Warren Hildebrand, will be releasing a new album titled Trillium Killer on October 18th, and it has some really heavy influences.

Discussing Trillium Killer in a statement, Hillibrand said of the album, which he recorded in his home studio between 2017 and 2019, “Whereas most of the music I’ve made in the past has been concerned with themes of hope, healing, and moving forward, Trillium Killer is about what happens when people start to lose their footing, slip backwards, and the things you have to do, and the decisions you have to make, to cope with being in that kind of place.”

One of the lead singles off Trillium Killer, which Hillibrand will be releasing via his own label, Orchid Tapes, is “Rush to Spark.” He explained the inspiration for the song, saying, “‘Rush to Spark’ is about getting a sense of what it feels like to be neurotypical after finding medication that works for you, but still living with the understanding that mental illness is going to be something that you’re going to have to deal with, and maintain, for the rest of your life. It’s also about the stress and tension that you unintentionally – or intentionally – can put on your own life, and lives of people around you when you’re experiencing episodes caused by your illness.”

Give it a spin, as Foxes in Fiction is clearly adept at working in non-fiction.

* If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, step into the world of Dalton Deschain & the Traveling Show, whose just-released EP, Casey, is the finale of their three-EP pulp-horror story about a circus ringleader possessed by a demon, set in the 1940s.

I told you this was a little out of the ordinary.

The EP also includes a 60-page eBook featuring lyrics, and a brand new short horror story titled “The Dogman,” which was written by Deschain, and illustrated by David Flamm.

The lead single off Casey is “Man/Thing,” which Deschain explained in a statement, saying, “While of course the song fits into our big horror mythos like the rest, I try to make every song about something personal to me, as well. ‘Man/Thing’ is primarily about how our perceptions of ourselves can swing dramatically between feeling like you’re on top of the world, to feeling absolutely insignificant and worthless. Ultimately the best way forward is to just try to remember that you’re everything you are, nothing more, nothing less, and that’s all you need to be. So I guess there’s a little bit of armchair therapy in this one, while at the same time being a spooky swamp demon story, which I think describes the Venn diagram of this band’s interests pretty well.”

If that isn’t enough to make you want to click play, I don’t know what is!

For more of the best of NYC’s indie music scene, come back next Wednesday, and check out the archives for previous columns.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM   0 comments

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