Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

The Rogue Rock Writer, Half in the Bag, Submersed in the Scene

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Through Sound and Time: New Years 2000/2001

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Note: This story doesn’t have as much to do with music as it does with what it was like growing up in South Jersey circa 2001. It’s a tale of a girl, a Camero and some friends. There are no admitted heroes here, just a couple of people that were being young and having a good time while searching for a good time. Read on my friends! I hope you enjoy! If this does well I may include more stories like this in the future.

I think her name was Candace. She was a few years younger than me and perhaps about as intellectual as grated cheese. But she was skinny and blonde and at 20 what more could I ask for. I mean just the fact that she paid attention to me was pretty much a miracle. I suppose I could blame the arrested development of my high school experience. I was sort of a pariah with the ladies. My MO was simple; if a girl so much as said “Hi” to me it was a good day. If she was nice to me on the regular then I’d conspire to ask her out, which I rarely did. So after following a girl around for a few months she’d get sick of my loser ass, or she’d gotten over the guilt of cheating on the test and decided it was time to tell me to back the fuck off. This had a profound effect on me. I developed neuroses that haunt me to this day. But as I said Candace didn’t want to hang out with me so she could tap my brain for info or so I’d put a picture of her in the yearbook or any of that petty bullshit. Nope, I was a man with a car, and Candace needed a ride! Queue the Four Tops! (It’s just the same old song.)

Anyhow, that New Years I decided I was gonna cut lose! Candace had a party to go to. I invited my best friend Paul along, and we first set off to pick up my manager Bryan and go to the Behind the Sun New Years party. Behind the Sun was a South Jersey Metal Band. The lead singer, Alex Rivera, was a friend of my comic shoppe and a damned good Warhammer figure painter. So Candace, Bryan, Paul and I set out for the fabled White Horse Pike. First, I picked up Paul whom I hadn’t seen much since he went to college (unless there was a ska show up north). He asked me about this chick we were picking up and I told him she was some hot blonde from the mall. Paul seemed skeptical, but we rocked out as we drove even farther south down rt 45 pick up Candace.

When we got to her house, she came rushing out Paul got into the back with a little bit of griping. As she entered my 87 Black Camero with Red interior and a moon roof, she proclaimed, “You’re car is a mess.” I believe this was the instant that Paul decided he hated her. If my memory serves I received Rancid’s Let’s Go for Christmas and was rockin that or Short Music for Short People. Well then she tried to change the station to Q102 the local pop rap station. So then we roll off. About ten miles down the road she asks us, “Do either one of you have a Cell Phone?” Of course it was 2001 and no one did, “I want to make sure I call my BOYFRIEND at 12:00.” There was almost a riot. BOYFRIEND?! What Boyfriend? Paul, knowing my luck with women, just cackled in the back.

It had snowed that Christmas and the roads were a bit treacherous, but we made it safely to Bryan’s place and he took the back as well. Bryan was really proud of me for having a date, being as I was constantly conspiring to ask out girls but never really doing it. We changed to some Manowar (Louder Than Hell) Paul wasn’t into it, nor was Candace but Bry and I were vikings on a mission to storm Castle Rivera so I didn’t care!

So we arrived at Alex’s place. There was drink and food and random goings on. But of course Candace wasn’t happy meeting cool new people and talking about D&D and Magic: The Gathering. Frankly with this newfound knowledge about a boyfriend I was sort of nihilistic towards her wants. I’d been used again. I was having one of those brooding moments where I wondered alone, if this would be my plight, to play the role of the eternal sap. To have women lead me around like a border collie for best of show only to come runner up. Then I snapped out of it. Christ, It was only 10:00 and we had plenty of night to go! Candace asked me when we were heading out to her friend’s party. I told her I wanted to hang out here a little longer. Then she said the magic words every guy falls prey to: I have some girlfriends I’d like you to meet. Ten minutes later we were out the door and in the car. Paul, Candace and I were on the way to wherever the hell this place was.

After and hour and forty five minutes of driving around the black horse pike we were lost. And lost in 2001 was much different than lost now. There was no calling your contact at the party to tell you where you were, no calling anyone to tell you where you were, and a gas station was the closest thing to a gps. I needed gas anyway. 12:00 came and went. I spent the dawn of a new millennium inside my beat-up 87 Camero with my Best friend and some other dude’s girlfriend. But everything was ok because 1) Somehow we figured out where the party was and were heading there and 2) Sir Mix-a-Lot’s I like Big Butts was playing on the radio! Well kickass I hadn’t heard that tune in something like ten years ……. Then she turned the station! I FLIPPED RIGHT OUT, “LISTEN DO NOT TOUCH THE RADIO, YOU SEEM TO THINK I’M COOL WITH BEING FUCKED WITH RIGHT NOW BUT YOU ARE WRONG I WILL DROP YOU IN THE WOODS AND GO TO THIS PARTY WITH PAUL AND YOU CAN WALK THE REST OF THE WAY.” (my anaconda don’t want none unless you got big buns) Everything was right in the world. Paul was clapping in the back seat. I was feeling a little more confident and of course Candace was apologizing for pissing me off.

We arrived at the party, it looked like nothing was happening. We rang the doorbell and then someone came to the door opened the door and music pushed out with it! SOUND PROOF DOORS! These people were loaded. I introduced my self and Paul around, Candace ran off with her friends after introducing me to some loser, name of Moose. Moose couldn’t have been any less well named. He was 5 foot nothing and a bit rotund for a lineman on his school’s football team. So Paul and I walked around mingled and such we put our coats (I was wearing a tan trench Paul’s Mom had procured for me from her job) into a bed room and just bullshitted. There was a rivalry of some kind at the party I forget if it was a highschool football or NFL thing, but as with all things that include drinking yelling and outdoor saunas a fight ensued.

Now for me to say it was a fight would not do justice to what really happened that night. It was like Finnegan’s wake! Everyroom of the house was erupting. In the living room I actually saw a guy get laid out with an uppercut and land onto a wicker/glass coffee table utterly destroying it. I was sober and the only thing I taught was that in a few seconds someone’s gonna get the good sense to call the cops. I collected Paul, and we almost left without Candace. But I decided that I should at least make sure she was ok, plus our coats were upstairs. As we made our way upstairs the Parent (mom) of the girl who was running the party and the mom were having a a freak out on the steps. Hair pulling, biting, you name it. As I tried to get past they told me I couldn’t go upstairs and to get the fuck out of their house. Lucky for me I was sober and clean cut enough to tell them I had come with Candace I was just grabbing her and my coat and I was getting out. Plus I told them to watch the door as there was wholesale looting going on below. Paul was right behind me. As I grabbed our coats I screamed out for Candace, whom I hadn’t seen since the party began. I knocked on the bathroom door and Moose answered. Then I heard Candace say no! Moose told me to “Go away, dude!” I asked Candace if she wanted me to come in. Yes. Moose wouldn’t unlock the door. With all the destruction going on below they wouldn’t miss a bathroom door. I kicked it in and there was Moose with his pants at his ankles, thankfully his boxers where up. “Dude that’s my sister, you are dead!” I shouted Moose fell into the bathtub, freaking out, “I’m Sorry, I didn’t know.” I scooped up Candace we got back to the car. As the cops pulled up, Paul sticks have his body out of the window to yell, “GOOD FIGHT, GOOD NIGHT.” I haul ass out of Dodge in my car.

On the drive home Candace, needed to puke. We pulled over and she leaned out the side of the car. After a few mins I realized she had fallen asleep. This repeated several times. Until Paul finally decided she was going in the back seat. When he put her in the back seat she made out with Paul, who was way drunk so I didn’t feel the need to point out that moments before he hated her or that she had just puked like nine times. We made it back to Alex’s Party around 5am to pick up Bryan. He had already gotten a ride home. Now the concern was what to do with this drunk 19 year old girl in my back seat. We drove to Paul’s and then I made him take her. That was his punishment for hooking up with my date, no matter how much I wanted nothing to do with her. I would have loved to see the look on his mom’s face when she woke up that morning.

Four hours later I made my way to the mall and watched the animated Lord of the Rings movie as I always had on New Years Day. Bryan came in at 12pm. Asked me about my night, I told him this story and he let me go home early and sleep. Now that’s how you ring in a millennium!

Written by rockertycoon

October 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

The Tao of Zac

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Sometimes I relearn a life lesson or a learn a new one. I try to live to a standard. This last week I’ve been struggling to get some articles out of my head. When I start having trouble writing I try to work on something different or write something different in hopes that I’ll be reborn fresh after I get it out. So here’s a list. Those are pretty popular by blog standards. It’s called the Tao of Zac. I hope you agree or learn something or maybe you just chuckle.

1. Trust your gut, it is crazy person radar.
In my time living away from my home, I’ve learned one brutal lesson. There is a direct correlation between the frequency of crazy people meetings and the number of bars within a ten block radius of where ever you are. It’s a sad fact, but it holds true. If you get that same feeling around a person as you did when they introduced the bad guy in an after school special, do yourself a favor and pretend your phone is broken.

2. Know your friends.
There are people you can trust, whether you’ve known them all you’re life or a few weeks. Stick with the people that have your best interest in mind. They’ll keep you grounded and make sure to keep you out of trouble. Don’t forget to return the favor. We all need a swift kick in the ass every now and then.

3. Forget your enemies.
Dwelling on the negative people in your life is a sure fire way to accomplish nothing. If you’ve been sleighted, then by all means note that mentally, but the key here is note it, don’t actively seek to defame or harm another person. Kharmically speaking it’s a lose/lose and it makes you look like you think your shit doesn’t stink. (We all know it does.)

4. Don’t bank on anyone but your self.
I’m not saying don’t trust anyone. I’m saying you can’t blame anyone but yourself for bad decisions. You are ultimately responsible for everything good and bad that happens to you. Maybe I should say own your actions, but I think this will help you remember better.

5. Stay Positive, It goes a long way.
This one is important. It proves to everyone around you that you have the mental toughness to handle failure, and you know that success isn’t some philosopher’s stone that will never be deciphered in your time. That’s not to say that life isn’t going to suck time to time. The whole world doesn’t need to know your woes. Which brings me to the next rule.

6. Vent with people you trust.
Within my circle of friends, I’m probably the comedian. I like to tell my friends about my day by talking a little bit of shit about what went wrong here or there, either about work or girls or my family. It helps to me to freak out a bit, laugh it off and then move on. In this day and age it’s not ok to post your woes and gripes in a public forum like Facebook or Twitter. Doing that is in direct violation of rule #5 and makes you look like an ass that doesn’t care about the feelings of others.

7. There is nothing a genuine apology can’t fix.
We all screw up, some of us more than others, sometimes worse than others. But if you are a dynamic human being, (I’m guessing that if you got this far you must be on the path to it at least) you learn from your mistakes. This is life after all, to not ruin things every now and then would make for boring days indeed. When that happens, look a person in the eye, express your concern for the trust you have squandered and move forward.

8. Don’t apologize unless you mean it.
On occasion you will do something wrong, that you either meant to do and are not sorry for or you actually didn’t do anything wrong. (These cases should be less frequent that the later) If you did something that you are not sorry for defend your stance when challenged, but do not become righteous. Explain yourself and why you did it. In the event that you didn’t actually do anything wrong and you are still being persecuted simply agree to disagree and move forward, dwelling on it won’t do either party any good.

9. Stay Honest, no one likes a snake.
This is almost an extension of Rule #8, But so much more important. If you are honest all the time you need never worry about not being believed. When you tell someone something important they know that you can be trusted. Remember that trust is maybe the strongest bond between two people, but much like a chain, need only be broken once to be useless.

10. Beware of people who are too friendly, they want something.
I lived in the South for a few months and then had to come back North. The reason I moved back is because everyone was so nice it A) was misleading and B) annoying as all get out. Where I’m from people who are overly nice without provocation are called grifters. I’m sure you have a friend that has a bunch of friends that you are pretty sure are using him/her for his money or influence. Beware or these kinds of friends. I call them bullshit friends. My father once told me to never lend out money I wasn’t willing to part with. He told me that it’s the kind of thing that will end a friendship most easily. Now my friend’s and I have helped each other out with a buck here and there, but these are people I’ve grown to trust with things like house keys and internet passwords. I like to give when I’m around my friends, I’ll sped the last dollar in my pocket if it means having a good time, but make sure you’re not always parting ways with the shirt off your back.

11. You are not responsible for the livelihood of your bartender.
This is simple. You don’t need to hit the bar every night. I’m a bartender, my patrons are my friends and combined they help keep me from going broke. But you need to prioritize. I’ll live if I don’t see you for a week. In fact, I’ll probably even ask you where you’ve been. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Save a few bucks every now and then and get sober for a week every couple of months. It will do you a world of good. And it’ll lower your tolerance so once you get back you won’t need to drink so much to have a good time.

12. Punctuality is key
I try to be on time for everything. If I’m constantly on time, I can be counted on for that at least. I’ve had jobs where I’ve been promoted above other people just based on the fact that I’m never late. They may have even been more suited for the job, but the boss knows that I’ll be there in a pinch.

13. Listen when you ask a question.
I call this the reunion rule. When I see people from high school and college, I genuinely try to get real info on of them. How have they been? What are they upto now? Married? Kids? Living where? I don’t do this to “network” with people. It simply makes me a worthy human being. There’s nothing worse than when someone asks you what you’ve been doing, and right after you answer they tell you what they’ve been doing and everything that they’ve been doing that last few years, as if they never asked you about yourself at all. That’s the kind of transparent self-absorbed person no one wants to deal with. By all means promote yourself tell folks what you’ve been doing but have a little tact at least ask a few questions about the other person’s life.

14. Do it right the first time, otherwise you’ll just do it again.
You’ll get more done doing things right. You’ll backpeddle less and you’ll feel more confident. Never you mind about the guy at work that does 8 things in the time you did 3. He most likely writes like he’s nine. I’ll bet his people skills are lack luster as well.

15. Keep it simple, more things means more to worry about.
I live in a white room with a white bed, a little metal desk and a computer. I have a tv that I use to play music mostly. I live ascetically, I have tons of really cool gadgets and a great collection of books. But none of these things make me a whole person. You can’t judge yourself by the things you own. PUT DOWN THAT GQ! You don’t need the newest iwhatever.

16. Naysayers and Haters are everywhere, if you don’t have a few you probably aren’t doing anything worthwhile.
Everyone’s a critic. Most of them are insecure about their place in the world or their failed dreams. A lot of people told me I’d never make it as a photographer or a writer. Seems like I’m doing alright. Sometimes I even look forward to a little hate, it keeps me humble. There’s nothing worse than a rock star that tells you how much he rocks. Let the naysayers be your inspiration, let the haters tell you what you’re doing right.

17. Learn from experience, it’s ok to change your mind, nothing is written in stone.
A lot of things I learned growing up hold true today still, but some are archaic teachings of yesteryear and/or the ravings of a mad teenager. Never stop learning. And never believe anything you know is more than just a theory. Remember that Theories are often disproved or modified as new information comes in. In short: Don’t Sell Out, Buy In.

18. Keep a journal. The unexamined life is not worth living.
You’d be surprised how much you learn and grow each year. It’s good you look back and see how much you’ve changed. Sometimes You’ll like the change, sometimes not. Even if you just write a little bit about your life each week you’ll have 52 entries buy the end of the year. I read somewhere that if you wrote 50 words a day you’d have a novel in three years. That’s an impressive amount of work for a small amount of time.

19. Once a week: help someone, get out of your comfort zone, read something printed.
You’ll be surprised about how much your life improves when you do something good for another person. You can’t feel bad about yourself when you see that your life has had a positive effect on others. Try something new be it food, new part of town, new way home. You may be surprised by the result. Get of the internet and read a real book. They are classics for a reason. I suggest Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky. It’s a great start for a cynic.

20. Work your Job (for Money) and Follow your passion (for Spirit).
Do what you love for a living and never work a day in your life. BULLSHIT I say. You work twice as hard, and risk everything, if it fails. Things you love are generally easier than “real work”. I make a bit of loot Writing and doing photowork, but I tend bar to pay the bills. For now this works out. I feel like things are coming together nicely. There is a good balance here and I don’t get stressed from trying to live off my dream or complacent from just making money and not following my passion. It’s important to make sure you take care of the whole picture a rare few of us get to combine the two without much effort. But normally my “never work a day in your life” friends are working much more (and harder for that matter) than my “hybrid life” friends

Written by rockertycoon

October 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Through Sound and Time: 2000

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I have to start this article by telling you how utterly disappointed I was when y2k didn’t work. I was pretty sure I had made up the whole thing. From the whole Binary 00 thing meaning off and turning off all the computers to the spreading of the rumors of nuclear Armageddon setting us right back into the stone age. I was more than ready for this. I had a stockpile of water and canned goods (Sickels had a special on Campbell’s Chicken N’ Stars that week, I was losing money not stocking up for the apocalypse) and I even had a melee weapon. Everyone knows that once the nuclear weapons blow us back to the stone age, the only thing a man can trust in is his sword, and his V6 87 Camero. As I stated though New Years 00 came and went without a hitch, and I drove home utterly disappointed that I had wasted it camped out in front of the Shop Rite waiting to loot the place when everything went to shit, I couldn’t help but think while listening to Battle Hymns by Suicide Machines, the world just wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped.

2000 was a great year for buying compilations. Cinema Beer Nuts, Fat Music, Short Music, Punk-O-Rama 3-6. My Fav though was Life in the Fat Lane. Songs like San Dimas High School Football Rules by The Ataris, Exhumation of Virginia Madison by Strung Out, May 16 by Lagwagon, and my favorite from this comp Hersey Hypocrisy and Revenge by Good Riddance. That Intro still gets my blood flowing to this day. It was everything I felt then, I was upset and I was sick of letting the world get to me and I wanted to take control back. The great thing about comps was that they were a great way to find out about new music without turning on the radio. You could buy a comp for like $5 and it had 15 or so songs from a label and then you could just buy that bands album or with the rise of Napster you could DL it for nothing. We truly were a society in it’s decline then.

I had also started listening to emo music. Sure go ahead and laugh now, but you used to rock out to Saves the Day and Osker too. Man I used to rock out to this stuff in my car. The Through Being Cool album was on rotation in my car for like 2 years. My friends and i used to just drive around rocking this stuff and trying to pick up girls if you can believe that. I’ll tell you what though, it wasn’t like American Graffiti or Dazed and Confused. Mostly because those movies yielded results in those scenes. We drove around in my 87 Camero with a moon roof, and barely made eye contact with girls. I spent a lot of time in the Barnes and Noble by the Deptford Mall and at the Pool Halls. It was hard to get into a night life without drinking or even being of age to drink. Most nights ended at the Colonial Diner, with two eggs over easy wheat toast and hash browns well done.

I was reading a lot of trades then. Human target, Animal man, and the Authority. Adrian Tomine’s 31 Stories got me to thinking I could probably write comics the way he did. I even teamed up with a friend to start making a few. that never panned out. I started really reading novels on my own. Neil Gaiman had always been one of my favorite comic writers so I checked out American Gods. Friends had told me that this was one of the best novels they’d ever read. To this day it’s one of the best I have. I’ve read it about 4 or 5 times. It makes me want to travel the country every time I read it. I also picked up Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and breezed through that. And I read one of the classics that year: The Stranger by Camus. I’m really surprised that you don’t see more lone gun men reading Camus over Salinger. Oh well, it’ll remain one of those mysteries of the universe.

The big explosion this year was in June. My whole world got shook to it’s foundation. I was a liar. Ok thats a little hard on myself, but I was definitely covering for someone. Long story short, I was headed to Worlds for Magic: The Gathering. My mentor at the time was 3rd in the world and I was fast climbing at 80th in the state. He was invited to Worlds and as a teammate I was invited to come with him. We’d been practicing for a bulk of the year. I had even impressed a few of the local pros. I know this seems trite, a bunch of guys playing Card Games to be the best guy in the world that plays a card game, but this was for 3 million dollars. And to give you a frame of reference one of these pros recently placed in the money at the world series of poker, so you can see these games were preparation for something a little more grand. Anyhow the DCI found my friend guilty of tournament collusion. Basically he cheated a lot and because I ran the tournament I was guilty by association and maybe a little more. Needless to say my dream was shattered. I had to work very hard to make sure I didn’t get fired from my job as well as to keep from getting fined. Thankfully it all blew over and I over got banned for five years. Realizing that 5 years was far too long to keep playing the game competitively I started working on a new future. At the end of the year my father gave me an ultimatum, move out, pay rent, or go to school. I choose school and then met a girl at the mall right before new years……

Written by rockertycoon

October 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Through Sound and Time: 1999

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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.

Written by rockertycoon

September 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

The Press and Ben Franklin at Public Assembly

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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 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.

Written by rockertycoon

September 22, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Through Sound and Time pt 2: 1995

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Skipping forward a bit. 3 years to be exact. Christmas I received a few albums. But the top two by far were 1. Presidents of the United States of America Eponym album (I rocked that Album so much it stopped working. A few years ago and I had to buy it on Itunes. My teenage years certainly had a soundtrack!) and 2. The Empire Records Soundtrack. I remember thinking I sure wish I could work some place like that. Where all these characters hung out and waxed intellectual about music and stuff like that, and then caught shoplifters and stuff like that (I’d later get my wish.) This was about the same thing I started playing Magic: the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. The Rocker Tycoon wasn’t just a music geek, I had my hand in many pots, stirring things up.

Empire Records had a ton of great music:

1. Til I Hear It from You – Gin Blossoms
2. Liar – The Cranberries
3. Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins
4. Free – The Martinis
5. Crazy Life – Toad the Wet Sprocket
6. Bright as Yellow – The Innocence Mission
7. Circle of Friends – Better Than Ezra
8. I Don’t Want to Live Today – Ape Hangers
9. Whole Lotta Trouble – Cracker
10. Ready, Steady, Go – Meices
11. What You Are – Drill
12. Nice Overalls – Lustre
13. Here It Comes Again – Please, Please
14. Ballad of El Goodo – Evan Dando
15. Sugarhigh – Coyote Shivers

Not all of it I’d claim to be a huge fan of now. But I can listen to that album still front to back today and remember what it was like to be fifteen and it makes me smile. Songs like Ready, Steady, Go a Billy Idol cover by the Meices and I Don’t Wanna Live Today by the Ape Hangers were the beginnings or my punk rock influence.

So what was I reading then? I had picked up Homeland by RA Salvatore. The Legend of Drizzt. Say what you will about the classics, but to me this will always be the book that made reading a pastime for me. I was whisked away to Faerun’s Underdark into the City of the drow. The main character was an outcast in a city of a treacherous malicious race of evil elves. This was a standard fantasy novel. Swordplay Magic Political intrigue. This was the first time I really got to understand allegory and how it could be used to open a mind to the world around it. I start paying more attention to the ways of people.

I’d say this book and it’s two sequels are responsible for my acute judge of character and for a fair amount of my attention to detail. Salvatore’s battle sequences proved to me that you could imagine a scene far better than any movie could convey it. I hold that truth today whenever I write. I still have an overactive imagination to this day, and anytime I’m alone in the dark I like to imagine I’m stalking the halls of Menzoberranzan, sword in hand, out to defy the Spider Queen herself……. Whoa! Sorry, there I go again.

Written by rockertycoon

August 26, 2009 at 9:57 pm

P.T. Walkley, 9th Grade English and the Living Room

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So it’s 9:15 on Tuesday August 11th. I swing into the Living Room (154 Ludlow Street) in New York City. Earlier that night I had received a personal invite from PT himself via Twitter. I was bummed that I missed their short performance at All Points West. It’s actually a great story you should read it on their Myspace Blog. In fact, it’s stories like that that really get me into a band. Something personal, something so defiant in the face of Mother Nature. It’s very Old man and the Sea. And here I am in 9th grade English again (which would be the third time around, since 9th grade English wasn’t my thing the first time around). Anyhow I’m sitting here as the band sound checks and I’m thinking my spot in the room, the only one left, has to be the best one! I’m right up on the stage. The waitress swings by to check the level of my Guinness, it always seems to need a refill. I’m in a perfect spot to just chill out and enjoy the band. I have my pad out, and the angle is great for pictures and video. What more could I ask for?

PT says hi to the crowd and with not much more that a nod and a wink they start into their set. I must say that I’m be a bold faced liar and carpetbagging Californian if I said I wasn’t enthralled with their sound. P.T. Walkley is Lizzy Lee Vincent, (electric guitar) Marc Trachtenberg (piano) Nicky Kulund (Drums), Dave Kulund (Bass), Michel Walkley (percussion) and of course P.T. (guitar,vocals). Folk Infused Country Story rock…. yea that sums it up well. When did all this “call back the good that was country music” start up. It seems like there’s a real trend happening in the north west US these days. Country Rock is once again a variable music genre. Not that corny these colours don’t run, or right wing shoot a gun style country, or some way too hot model singing cheesy country love songs country. Nope, A good old fashioned guitar forged story driven country style rock band! With songs about foulplay, and a little neurotic tune here and there. This is good stuff! The band is having a good time! They’re all smiles and head bobs, its great to see that energy!

After the set I took a moment to say hi to the band. PT and I chatted for a second I bought a Cd and was off on my way back to Jersey City. It was a quick night I got off the PATH in Jersey City at 11:15pm. I still had time to get drunk for cheap at my bar!

Written by rockertycoon

August 13, 2009 at 5:35 pm

All Points West – How to Pack Light For a Day Festival

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Back by popular demand and instructional video on what to bring and what to wear, at All Points West! Find me for a free drink ticket at tonight’s after party!

Written by rockertycoon

August 1, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Redheaded Strangeness or On the Road Again

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This article is a continuation of my last post. When we last left our hero (me), he was dreaming about peaches, dune buggys, and the Mach 5. Ok, enough with the second person stuff, it’s mildly weird. I woke after 4 hours of sleep knowing I’d need to get up early to get back up to work at 1pm. I rose from my 10 year old futon, which was not a comfortable place to sleep. Years of tossing and turning and several moves with that contraption had turned it into more of a pit trap than bed. But I was at my dad’s place in south Jersey, you can’t really put a price on a free night’s rest. Well you can, hotels charge around $130 for four hours….and the kind of hotels that charge hourly aren’t exactly the sort of place a man gets any rest.

The commute from South Jersey to Jersey City is a long one, filled with it’s own sort of adventure. Public Transit south of Trenton isn’t the same as north. Managing the bus system is like surveying the Amazon to someone who’s not quite familiar with the area. Thankfully, almost every bus hits Walter Rand Transit Center in Camden on it’s way to Philadelphia. Yup, Camden, THAT CAMDEN! The one Chris Rock warned you about! Now, as an avid traveler and a man knowledgeable to the various situations of danger on the public transportation system, I follow a few well manufactured rules.

Rule 1. Keep your mouth shut and your head down!
You are the mark! Talking to people for prolonged amounts of time serves only to distract you attention from the pair Raptor in the bushes adjacent to you!

Rule 2. If asked for change, shrug, if they give you shit tell them you need what you got to get home.

Rule 3. Don’t be an asshole! This is Eagle’s Country.
If asked your team affiliation respond in kind, (they call him the Philly Fanatic for a reason)I’d rather be sick to my stomach later on, than punched in it right now.

Rule 4. When in doubt, pretend your kind of insane! Note this doesn’t work on other people with mental deficiency. Use this on the wrong person and you’ll be talking like furbies on acid.

Ok, those bases are covered. I just missed the 410 at 9:54. So I had to wait for the 410 at 11:00. Once the bus came I took my spot in the middle and put on my MP3 player. Not long into the trip a woman turned around and demanded my cell phone. “I’m gonna use your cell phone, I gotta call my work.” It was something along those lines, most importantly this was not a request! I almost laughed audibly. I had to applaud the fact that the woman was a crafty social engineer at the very least, but her simple Jedi mind tricks were no match for one trained by Dave Minick. I feigned poverty, “I got no phone, I’m late for work too, missed the bus before.” She wasn’t interested in my story. Oddly enough she didn’t ask anyone else.

From Walter Rand to Trenton, from Trenton to Newark, from Newark to Jersey City. It only took 5 hours! I got to work and waited out the day for A Saturday Night event at Kilkenny Alehouse. A tribute night to Willie Nelson in honour of his recent birthday. Time ticked by pretty quickly and before I knew it I was at home getting changed and ready to make the scene in Brick City.

I got in just at the end of Bern and the Bright’s set. I was highly disappointed because they are long over due for a once over! Another of the Montclair Crew. These girls are really making waves on the local scene and even getting a little radio time here and there. No worries though, they’ll be playing At Lucky 7 Tavern on my Birthday with Honah Lee, Deivito, and Kagero. If you happen to be in the mood to rock out come May 16, I invite you to stop on by! Tonight B&tBs were playing with the McMickle Bros. as well. I told you, those boys get around!

Deivito hopped up on stage with, Wes of Tip Canary and Sam of McMickle Bros. They played the entire Red-headed Stranger Album. These fellas were wailing away on their guitars, I was swilling beer and stomping shoe! The Highwayman would have been proud…. Of All three of us I’d wager!

The Crosstown Country All-Stars got on stage with two members that were previously unsung on the last post about them. Ace Case and Ken Trotta still round out the Guitar and Vocals, but tonight Bill Henry(key) and Rodney Azagra(drums) took the stage is this ragtag group too! Rastabouts as always Ace and Ken tried to start up a rivalry with Anyday Parade. I think they said something to the effect of Anyday Payday. You gotta understand Ace’s sense of humour. I saw him play a week for Election night. And he was pretending to support McCain’s Country First Slogan, as a joke. I think I was the only person in the crowd laughing, for a town full of Liberals you’d think they’d laugh a little less conservatively. Anyhow the set was crafted with comedy and good old fashioned joshing around, plenty of country favourites and some originals as well.

Tree, The Chucks, Larry, and JD took the stage as the Voltron that is Anyday Parade.
They joked back about All-stars’ comment. They quickly turned the nob, from Defrost to Simmer as they worked into their songs. Tree’s classic voice melded in a stew with Larry and JD trading off leads and answering her musings. Chuck D. worked the bass in a mesmeric fashion, but this time he looked like he was immune to his own magic, moving around the stage like a snake tail inbetween the vox/guitar Cerberus of the band. If the rest of the band was a mythological three-headed hellhound, then I guess Chuck R. was Zues himself, bringing down the thunder!

I sat out in the crowd singing along to every song and dancing with the rest of the crowd at the alehouse. You better make sure you come to the next show they have! You’re missing out on one hell of a good time in Newark.

Presidents of the USA at the Trocadero or The Old Man in the Mosh Pit

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Back in late 1995, I was just 15 years old, Not really sure about my direction. My direction in life, in music, in anything. I knew one thing for sure: I was weird. Not strange, not exotic, just plain weird. And while other bands popular at the time were writing song about their terrible high school experience, or how no one understood them, a shining beacon of hope emerged from the mire of Seattle grunge rock. The Presidents of The United States of America, hit the scene! They were wacky, they played a two string guitar they wrote songs about things that didn’t even make much sense to me at 15. I loved it. And that Christmas I received my 4th CD…. Self-Titled By PUSA. Finally it was ok to not like everything my classmates were listening to. I hopped on the grunge wagon well after Kurt Cobain passed away. Before this I was listening to Frank Zappa and old Dr. Demento Albums. That album was one of the most influential buys I made in my entire life. I listen to it non-stop. Songs like the MC5 cover Kick out the Jams and We’re not gonna Make It got me thinking about a faster, harder, more emotional kind of music before I thought punk rock was more than just a bunch of guys that coloured their hair funny and fought the Ninja Turtles.

So imagine My excitement when some of my friends told me they were still playing music together! There was a show at the Trocadero in Philly coming up! Did I want them to get me a ticket? HECK YES! I busted out the records and I started jamming out to Cleveland Rocks and Mixed-Up SOB and I listened to every song they put out. I was 15 again for a little bit.

So it came the day of the concert, Last Friday, I woke up early went to work restocked the bar talked to my boss about how excited I was and I left and got on the train. I must have seemed like a teenager to everyone I talked to. “I’m going to see the Presidents!” I’d say, beaming like my homecoming date had just said yes. “Yes they’re still around. They have like six albums!

I arrived in Philly a bit early. Hungry for some mall food. The train (Septa’s R7) drops you off right at the Gallery Mall on 8th and Market in Philly a mere block from the Trocadero! I needed food. And I came to a crossroads in my journey. The Choice between mall sushi and Chik-Fil-A was not a hard one, in truth, but I felt the need for some form of drama. And there you have it, pitted between my love for sushi and my fear of the low quality crap that malls churn out. Lucky for me there was a shining light of fried chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. After my meal, I walked over to the Trocadero. 6:30pm I was an hour and a half early and My friends weren’t leaving south Jersey until about 8pm. I just waited in line…I was the first.

As the time wore on, I wondered if I might be able to get an interview, and what I would say. How would I not lose my cool? As these questions whizzed around my head like X-wings in the Battle of Yavin. Chris Ballew walked out of the Troc (presumably to hit up a Wawa) I recognized him immediately! Knowing that If He left via the main entrance I focused on his return in the same fashion. The line grew. When he came back I gave a wave and a “hey, man!”. He turned smiled back and said, “Hey,man! First in line! Good Job!” I don’t think I was able to muster up much of a response, a goofy smile, perhaps a thumbs up. Somewhere under all this cool and and past the smooth dance moves I’m still that awkward 15 year old kid.

So we get inside the venue and the Presidents start-up. (Sadly, they didn’t let me take in my gear and the band’s management deal with all the interviews.) I think they started with Kitty. And I’m in the thick of a pogo rhomp. everyone was jumping up and down acting like fools. These are my kinda people! As the songs change the dancing goes from moshing, slow dancing, to a good old fashion circle pit. I could go on about the entire show song by song but thats really not much fun. Suffice it to say it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. After the show I went to Denny’s. I had some Country Fried Steak, Got to my dad’s house in south Jersey, and slept. I did however get a little video with the cell phone. Sound’s a little harsh but, you might get a kick out of the stage dive!

Written by rockertycoon

April 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm