Messenger Down is always at the top of my list when it comes to exciting new bands, and what's better than an exciting new band making exciting new music? The guys recently took the time out of recording to answer some questions about their new album, their new members, and their plans for the summer.
Please introduce yourselves to everyone on the Internet!
G: I'm Garrett, I play the microphone and lots of other things in the studio!
A: Hey! My name's Arun and I play drums
C: Hey! I'm Connor, I play guitar and sometimes do some computery stuff for the band
You guys are working on a new EP, how is that going?
G: Really well! We just got vocals wrapped up, so just a few bits and pieces here and there and it's all finished!
A: It sounds adorable.
C: We got to use a bunch of BEAUTIFUL guitars for the recordings. All of the instruments are higher quality, all of the gear is higher quality, and we're using real guitar amps on the record instead of simulators. We added up a rough total of the cost of gear used on this record and it was something like $13,000 for just drums, bass, and guitar gear. Everything is just a million times better than [first EP] The Gentleman's Guide and I've loved every second of it. Haha.
You’re very open about what bands influence you, but manage to avoid what a lot of bands fall into these days, which is sounding too much like your influences and blending in with the rest of the scene, what do you think sets Messenger Down apart from other pop punk bands?
A: The drummer ;)
G: Not being "pop punk," haha. People these days are so quick to categorize music, and it leaves no room for experimentation with other sounds and styles. Messenger Down has always and will always just be a rock band.
C: Yeah, like Garrett said, we're not really pop punk. I'd say one thing that's really noticeable on this record is that you can't really pin any one song down to sounding like a particular band. All of the songs have TONS of influences. I honestly don't think there are many bands you can say "Messenger Down sounds like..." to.
That being said, what have been your influences on the new album? In a Q&A you did a few months ago you mentioned Taking Back Sunday and early Panic at The Disco.
G: Yeah, those are 2 big ones. Bands like those two, Marianas Trench, Mayday Parade, and Fall Out Boy are always big influences on me, but this time around there's a bit of influence from bands like The Used, Chiodos, The Story So Far, Sleeping With Sirens, and My Chemical Romance just to name a few.
C: WAY too many to count. If I had to narrow it down to the parts I helped write, I could say a lot of the lead guitar work is pretty strongly influenced by Alex Garcia of Mayday Parade. He is one of my favorite guitarists in modern rock.
In the same Q&A you mentioned having more cohesiveness between songs. Are you seeing any themes emerging on the new album?
G: It's really more of a cohesiveness in the sounds on the record. From front to finish just sounds like a Messenger Down record, where as the whole goal on The Gentleman's Guide... was to put out a wide variety of songs. There's still plenty of experimentation, no 2 songs sound the same, but you can definitely tell it's the same band from song to song. As far as lyrical themes, this has a bit more variety. You'll just have to listen to really figure out what these songs are about!
The band underwent a lot of lineup changes between writing The Gentleman’s Guide and recording the new EP— where are we going to see these changes reflected in the music?
C: A lot of the lineup changes happened during the recording of the EP so there wasn't really time for the new members to throw in much input. BUT we finally got to track real live drums on this record, as opposed to being constrained to programmed drums on TGG. Arun got to play on this record and throw in a lot of his own style of drumming on the songs. The drum sound on this record is SO much better than TGG. Everything is more human, and because of Arun everything is hit WAY harder
A: Yeah, I was brought into the band as an official member literally a few weeks before recording so I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to mess with the drums parts but I did throw in my own knick knacks and patty whacks where I could.
G: I wrote everything on The Gentleman's Guide myself, and everything was played on it by either Connor or myself because we started it before Nick or Bryan joined the band. This time around there's 2 songs Connor helped write and one song that our old bassist Nick contributed to. If anything, the most noticeable differences between TGG and [the new EP] WSHBS are going to be that the guitar parts are more interesting thanks to me no longer having to play and sing live, and the drum parts are actually real, haha.
What has the recording process been like with the new lineup?
C: Everything has been a ton of fun. We've had a great time working with Jeff Long of Trap Door Recordings. Jeff let Garrett and me stay there for like a week straight getting all of the guitar parts done, and when it came to Arun recording the drums, it went great. He is the only new member that really got a chance to play on the record, but it was a blast while he was doing it. He went through a ridiculous amount of sticks though haha
Are you seeing an increased interest in the band outside of North Carolina?
G: Definitely! The internet has helped us reach people from all over! I can't wait to finally tour and get out to some of them!
A: Well, pretty quickly after I joined the band I started getting messages from people from all over telling me that they liked Messenger Down which is incredible to me.
C: We've had a pretty good amount of interest out of state from the internet for a while, but with Garrett and our manager Amanda working as hard as they are, I can definitely see a rise. All the help from her and the Street Team has definitely bumped up our interest out of state.
And of course, what are you most excited about for the new album cycle? What are you hoping to accomplish this year?
G: I'm just stoked to get these songs out there so we can tour and get started on the next release!
C: I really really can't wait to get this record out and show everybody all the things we have in store for them. There is so much planned for this release and the next year or so that I could never point out something I'm most excited about. I'm hoping to meet a ton of new friends out on tour and see a bunch of cool places and people. Tour is high on that list of for the most exciting thing haha.
A: I can't tell if I'm more excited for the actual release of the new material or touring but definitely one of the two. It's going to be a cool year.
Messenger Down's new EP What Should Have Been Said will be released this summer, and you can keep up with all the band news on their facebook page and twitter.
In part two of our trek across the motherland, we're hitting up Illinois, home of the greatest pizza my New York roommates won't admit to liking. In addition to controversial pizza, Illinois is home to a fantastic music scene, which we'll be sampling in this segment of State of The Union.
She's Alive are a solid pop punk outfit that follow well in the footsteps of those that have come before them. In certain cases, they have a poppier mentality and more straightforward lyrics, a good match for All Time Low fans that want to dance to loathing and loss. In other instances, however, there's a heaviness that, paired with the sweet, youthful voice of lead singer Alex Rogers, pairs well with fellow Chicago band Fall Out Boy.
I hate working out. I love work out music. I love Workout Music even more. I live for shameless exuberance. I am the world's most low profile party girl, if you will. Workout Music brings the party to me when I'm sitting on the floor in my living room watching South Park reruns. This place has everything*: 80's synths, 70's disco beats, early 2000's pop-rock, and vocals from Tom Muldoon that could put Gabe Saporta out of a job. Workout Music are the band to listen to when you want to raise the roof on a Tuesday morning on the way to work.
*if you didn't catch the Stefon reference please go educate yourself
Call It Treason
Am I too young to yearn for the early days of pop punk? Probably, since I was like 9 and still wearing shirts with sequined lobsters on them. But, I no longer have to yearn, because Call It Treason is a modern band that plays up old school style. They still have the modern-minded pop sensibilities, but with a go-for-it punkiness that's often left out of the equation in today's scene.
Jordan Benker/ Look Out Love
Back to yearning-- early nevershoutnever was inadvertently my introduction to the Warped Tour scene. Jordan Benker keeps the faith burning, like a member of One Direction going solo to perform on a Glamour Kills tour (I say this in the most positive way-- I'm mad down with One Direction). Here's the positive pop that can get along in the rock scene without turning off listeners.
Despite living in New Jersey for ten years, I never attended Bamboozle. By the time I was old enough and wanted to go, none of my friends wanted to make the trip, because it coincided with prom weekend (and I thusly missed the last My Chemical Romance show ever, and thusly grew to resent everything prom stands for). So this year, when my friend Kate of The Music Obsession asked if I wanted to come with her for Skate and Surf (the precursor/replacement for Bamboozle) I was ready to finally experience what I had been missing out on.
I'm going to interrupt the flow of the story here to give you a few vital pieces of information: I had never been to a festival that spanned more than one day before and I had just started a detox on Friday that involved me not being allowed to eat dairy, soy, dried fruit, peanuts, oil, sugar, etc etc. Add this to my regular neuroses as you picture my great adventure.
I was immediately thrown into a group of new (fantastic) people, all of whom loved music and participated in it in different ways, and it was a good environment for me to be in before I start working in a few weeks.
When we finally made it to the venue (late enough to have missed a couple sets), things seemed pretty... lame. Like debating coming back the next day lame. And there's nothing like standing in a lackluster crowd to make you start doubting your choices in life. Like hardcore doubt. I found myself standing in a throng of 14 year old girls and stressed out 20-somethings thinking "do I even like music? Is music even fun? What's the point? Music isn't even that great..."
I hit a bit of a low. I watched the dapper What's Eating Gilbert set with no energy, knowing that the 50s/60s vibe and sweet attitude should be cheering me up, but unable to muster up the energy to be happy. There was a wedding at the hotel next door, and the wedding party seemed to be enjoying the concert more than I was. It felt like the end of my short career in music-- like I had passed the point of reasoning with myself.
My return from the dead couldn't have come at a better time, either, because Midtown was set to take the stage and their reunion was 80% of my rationale for going to Asbury. How do I love Midtown? Let me count the ways: they represent, for me, the advent of all the music I love, before pop punk became crazy derivative; their energy is authentic, not a gambit for attention; they are of the finest points of the modern New Jersey music scene; Gabe Saporta is a fantastic human being and honestly doesn't care about scene politics, all he cares about is doing what he loves and having fun, which is a major restorative for anyone's faith in music.
I was now set up for a fantastic attitude for the next day, when disaster in the form of my blood sugar struck. The detox had reared its ugly head and when I awoke the next morning, the warning signs were apparent-- low mood, inability to stop yawning, achy joints... thanks to my inability to digest carbohydrates and dairy, I was now the equivalent of a middle aged parent being dragged to a show by their kid. I was able to maintain a healthy air about myself while meeting more people, but when it came to standing on the sidewalk having cigarette smoke blown in my face during shows, I was down for the count. Remember kids, just because you managed to sneak almonds in to the show doesn't mean they will magically give you the energy to power through another six hours of standing between dudes in tank tops.
That being said, the Sunday shows were even better than the Saturday shows, and the wedding next door was even more involved. I wish I had had the endurance but it was a good reminder of why I was detoxing in the first place. This wasn't the first time I was unwillingly sleeping on my feet at a concert.
I got a chance to introduce Kate to new music during the We Came As Romans set, which was so full of energy and fun that it powered me through most of the rest of the day. The air from the ocean didn't hurt either, it was a good set for breathing all around. We Came As Romans were insanely fun to photograph last summer, so seeing their set without working through it was even more incredible-- they covered pop songs ("I'm Glad You Came") without alienating a single audience member, and scared away the rain with their intelligently arranged metalcore.
We had a pretty open schedule until Midtown, so we wandered through sets, seeing a good portion of Hidden In Plain View and their insane drum breakdown, a breathtaking display of skanking at the Backyard Superheroes show, and a lot of air drumming from one Mr. Mike Gunz.
Midtown's second show of the weekend was even better than the first, having rediscovered their stride as a band and playing for a larger and more enthusiastic crowd
We were able to see most of Bellwether, whom I had met through Kate the previous day and who had a fantastic show, as well as a few songs from Patent Pending, which I learned is a band comprised of the nicest people ever with the most phenomenal hair ever.
As expected, Circa Survive were on point, all energy and amazing music. But almost immediately after their set finished, I was on a rapid downward slope. I was sitting on the curb trying to get my head to stop swimming, coming to the realization that I wasn't going to make it through the next three hours. I really wanted to see New Found Glory. I hear the stories about the set now and I regret listening to my body (it's good I listened to my body, I needed to, but seriously why did it have to pick 8pm to be done?) So I had to ship myself back to the hotel. I missed a crowdsurfing groom and a moshing bride, but I did learn a lot about how I need to treat my body if I want to make it through a full weekend of shows.
So, we come to the wrap up: try to finish your detox before festival season starts, never go to an Applebee's at 11:30 at night, and be prepared to sleep 16 hours straight when you get home from Skate and Surf.
I had a ridiculous time trying to find music from Wyoming bands. But I am nothing if not stubborn. Well, no. I am many things if not stubborn. But, I did it, I hunted through the ether and found some great music, and here's the cream of the crop:
Canyon Kids know how to make softness hit you hard. Their music is atmospheric, enveloping, enclosing, like being wrapped in a cloudy blue sky. Instrumental tracks and vocal tracks are equally as powerful, and accomplish the same strength through different means. Even the rougher tracks, like "Supermoon" feel gracious and welcoming, demure and sexy at the same time.
Poor Me is a misleading band name, because this is a fun band to listen to. The music is upbeat and ready to be listened to in a car barreling down the highway. There's some rawness and aggression, but nothing self obsessive, nothing exclusionary. They've got a vocal tone and a musical style that succeeds on a We Were Promised Jetpacks level and an A Day To Remember level.
Harpoon, the Whale
You don't often see a band describe themselves as both a pop outfit and a hardcore outfit, but Harpoon, the Whale, isn't the average band. Their sound is spiraling, surrounding, heightening, crashing, a full ride from the top to the bottom and back to the top. This is a band that can describe themselves as pop and hardcore, because they're radio ready and mosh pit ready, and both sides are equally exciting.
Shameless to Say
Ever wondered what it would sound like if The Ready Set's Jordan Witzigreuter was the lead singer of Fall Out Boy circa 2003? Shameless to say have the same hardcore-inspired musicality of Take This To Your Grave era Fall Out Boy, and the same sweet pop-ready vocals as TRS, but combined in a way that makes them their own breed- a band that makes pop punk in the most literal and fantastic sense. (Gigantic shout out to manager extraordinaire Amanda who directed me to the band).
After a year of hints and nudges on twitter, Gerard Way has finally revealed his next steps post-My Chemical Romance. His new website, GerardWay.com, will be the home to both his art and music ventures, which will be equally important in the coming years. Also debuting today, his animal sidekick Lola, who will be providing updates on Way's projects via twitter @LolaPlusG.
Perhaps most exciting to fans of MCR, Gerard has made public that he has signed a solo contract with Warner Bros. and will be releasing an album later this year. A new song is available to stream on his website, a grungy, 90's tinged track that is the aural equivalent of the sites visual aesthetic-- raw, collaged, and exciting.