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Name: Adam Bernard
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The Memorials Take Their Musical Lineage Seriously
Friday, May 20, 2011

When The Memorials play the Heirloom Arts Theatre in Danbury on Friday, May 20th, there’s a good chance that the crowd will be more familiar with their opening act than they are. “I usually invite bands that we’ve never even heard to come open up for us,” explains drummer Thomas Pridgen, speaking on his cell phone, making sure he gets heard over the sounds of the rushing traffic as the band’s van barrels its way towards their next tour date. “I think it’s cool.”

The band, which met while at Berklee College of Music, also includes guitarist Nick Brewer and vocalist Viveca Hawkins, and they booked these opening acts through Facebook. “We were like ‘any bands in the city want to help promote and play these shows with us?’ And they were like ‘fuck yeah!’ What would we look like to be like ‘nah man, you’re not the Foo Fighters,’ fuck that. That’s corny.”

Pridgen, who is formerly of The Mars Volta, has always done things a little differently. He remembers “growing up I used to skateboard and people used to look at me like I was crazy. Now it’s super popular, and you have skateboard parks in ghettos, but before it was kind of like I was an outcast.”

That outcast feeling is just one of the many emotions that comes through in the music of The Memorials, which is one part rock, one part punk, and one part soul. Hawkins even has a background as a hip-hop singer. “I’ve been doing a lot of hip-hop and R&B stuff my whole life,” she explains, “(now) I’m learning another part of this huge musical dream.”

Pridgen has long embraced diversity in his work. “I’ve always played different genres, or did different thing that were subcultures, and people that aren’t necessarily my color didn’t necessarily understand,” he explains. “(It’s) not that they didn’t do it, or get it, they just didn’t understand it at the time. I think it’s cool. I think it maybe shows other people what they can do. I’m watching people come to the concert and look like a super square and the next time you see them they have like a septum piercing and a big ass afro. I’m watching people change with us.”

All that genre blending has created, in The Memorials, a band that is the next in line in a lineage that includes Fishbone, Living Colour and Bad Brains. Brewer notes that this is something the band doesn’t take lightly. “As far as whether or not we take this shit seriously, we take it real serious.” Whether or not this is the project they’ll do for the rest of their careers, however, is something Brewer can’t answer. “The only thing that’s a final destination is the grave. Everything else is steps.”

The next steps for The Memorials include completing this tour and recording a follow up to their recently released self-titled debut album. They hope to have that sophomore effort out by the end of the summer, but for now, according to Pridgen, they’re enjoying the road. “This shit makes me feel good,” he says with a smile, “it makes us feel better. It’s what we like to do.”

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:21 AM  
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