Patrick Quiring / Neo Romantics Interview

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Hey guys! How’s it going today?

I'm doing very well, thank you for asking. 

So, who all am I talking to today?

Just me, Hagen. 

Oh, cool, cool. So, what exactly are your positions in the band and what do you do?

I'm the lead vocalist and I play a bit of guitar as well. Daniel Anthony Castleberry is behind the drums. Cody plays guitar as well, and Noah is our bassist. 

What is your favorite part about being in the band?

I think being a part of not only the scene here in Tulsa, but a community that stretches all the way across the country has been a hugely rewarding for us. There is so much hospitality and kindness out there and we've made lifelong friends going out and playing shows across the country. 

What were you doing before you joined NeoRomantics, and how did you meet each other?

I met Anthony back in 2013 and kind of pitched the idea for NeoRomantics. We were attending the same community college at the time and we had both graduated from the same high school. That said, we only sort of knew of each other at the time. I think we connected through some mutual friends, or maybe the internet, I don't really remember. We immediately hit it off and have been best friends ever since. It was really serendipitous that we have such creative chemistry, considering it was kind of a shot in the dark at the time. Noah and Cody jumped on over the summer, as fill ins, for our headliner, at The Vanguard and we were so pleased with their performance that we immediately asked them to jump on board the project. We knew creatively that they would be a valuable asset, not to mention how infectiously ambitious they were. It was really refreshing, adding them to the lineup and it really pushed me a lot. Stylistically, it gave me a lot of context as to where to push the new record. 

Have you guys always been involved in music? What inspired you to choose this path?

NeoRomantics was my first band, and prior to that I really wasn't involved in the scene at all. I grew up singing, in fact, I can't really remember a time when I wasn't. I sang in church and in elementary school honor choir and all of that. I feel like my parents really opened up that creative outlet and encouraged me not to forget that I had a voice. It seemed to be this sort of cathartic thing that I could fall back on but it wasn't until I was a young adult that it sort of hit me that it was what I wanted to do in any serious capacity. I can't really remember what the catalyst was, for starting Neo. For me, it just needed to happen. As far as the other guys, I know Anthony has been playing since he was little and played in the school band and that sort of thing. Cody and Noah started out in their formative years as well and have been in loads of bands. 

Do you think the Tulsa scene has evolved over the years, or has it stayed the same? If it has evolved then how so, and where do you see it in the next 10 years?

I definitely think it's ever evolving. Anthony and so many others have done some incredible work for the scene and I think it's stronger than ever. The bar scene is huge here and it's starting to become a DIY haven, in my opinion. We have a loads of formidable acts drawing new people into venues at home, and getting out on the road and representing Tulsa on tour. 

How would you improve the scene?

I mean, I think the people who are working actively for the scene in Tulsa are doing a proper job. We just need to continue to push each other. We need the bands on the forefront of the scene to continue making waves nationally and internationally. I don't have a lot of negative criticism really, I think it's just important that we all do our part in making sure that Tulsa's scene lives up to its potential. So long as things continue to grow and flourish the way they have, I think we are going to have a really massive, influential scene here in the near future. 

So, when you guys write songs how does it all come together?? Like is it lyrics first, or instrumentals?? How long do you think it normally comes up with a song? What’s been like the longest it’s taken to write a song, and what’s been the shortest?

I don't think I have any particular routine as far as songwriting goes. It's an ever evolving process for me, which sometimes makes things more difficult as far as continuity goes, but I also has a tendency to make things more interesting in the long run. For this record, the song that's taken the most amount of time, is an untitled song that we currently call "Chicago Song" that I wrote about balancing tour and your life at home. It has a bunch of time signature changes and stuff and it took us a bit to sort of nail everything down. The song was on a loop in my head for like a week in between rehearsals. We toured it a little bit but I don't think it had reached its full form until the other night in Tulsa. The song that's taken the least amount of time? There's another untitled track that pretty much wrote itself. I wrote the song back in April on the acoustic guitar and had been thumbing around with how to use it in the context of NeoRomantics. Towards the end of one rehearsal, I just starting picking it and playing it to myself while people were starting to load up. Everyone heard it, plugged back in, and we played the entire song without breaking on the first try. 

What’s your favorite song that you’ve written with NeoRomantics, and why is it that?

It's hard to pick favorites. It's like a parent picking which of their children they like the most. I think there is an aspect of nostalgia that comes into play when you're playing songs you wrote when you were 18. There are so many memories buried in them. Then with the newer stuff, it's fresh and exciting to showcase where you're at now. I think on the last run I enjoyed playing the aforementioned, "Chicago song" the most. 

What are you guys currently listening to right now?

I have a playlist I've been spinning a lot that has a bunch of Life Lessons, and Salt Creek, and Embracer, some regional bands we've come across that are killing right now. 

What’s been the hardest and most difficult part of playing in a band? On the opposite what’s been the most rewarding and fun?

At least for me, balance, probably. It's easy to let it consume all of your energy. That said, I think we handle it all pretty well. Being gone, even for the short amounts of time that we are can weigh on you. We are all really family oriented and being away can feel tough sometimes. As far as the most rewarding? At the risk of sounding pretentious, I think there are people who are really intrinsically connected to what we do. Like our music defined a certain time in their life and hearing people tell you that it made an impact on them really drives me to continue to do it. 

I’ve heard that you’re going to be releasing an E.P. this summer. Could you talk about that a little bit? How will it differ at all from your past efforts if it will at all?

Probably closer to spring time, actually, but yeah. This record is really interesting because in essence, we really turned the entire process that we used to write our last record on its head. I generally come up with a concept and map out the skeleton for the song, and the guys picks those songs up and filling in all of the blank spaces and embellishing it. Cody and Noah and Anthony are all creative forces, and they all bring someone unique to the table. I'd say that topically, it's a lot looser conceptually and less melodramatic which I think added an entirely new dynamic, and ultimately made it more intimate for me. It forced me to evaluate myself through clear eyes rather than just bearing all of my heartache in every song. Being our first release in about two years, I think the growth in maturity that you'll see from Anthony and I will be stark. I also think sonically you're going to hear a pretty clear shift. I think we've focused a lot more heavily on texture and tone and production on this record. 

Where do you wanna NeoRomantics next? Like is there a tour coming up soon, or anything

As far as what I want for NeoRomantics? I want to tour with my favorite bands and put out as much new music as possible. Everything that we've ever really wanted to do seems more viable every day. We've been working for four years to get to this point and now that we have traction, we aren't slowing down for anything. As far as what we have coming up? We have a tour coming up within the next few months, but unfortunately, I can't talk about the details yet. It's a big one for us though. 

Last thing I have to know is how did you guys come up with that amazing stage move you did last Saturday night where the lead singer lifted the bassist in the air and turned him upside down? What’s the story behind that if there is any at all?

I wish that I could take credit for coming up with that, but I had seen bands do similar stuff before ever trying it. It's always worked well for me because I'm a pretty big guy and our bassists for the most part have been light and easy to toss around. We've been known to do some wild stuff on stage. 

Anything else you'd like to tell our readers about you, NeoRomantics, or anything else we didn’t cover?? 

Uhm, I would say go listen to our new single 'Concentrated'. It's on all major media platforms now. Make sure to look out for upcoming tours and try and catch us live. We'd love to meet new people and make new friends. 

Well, thanks so much for taking your time, and talking with MNSTRM Media! We really appreciate it, and can’t wait to see what’s next in store for you guys!

Who is PnB Rock? The versatile Philly artist with superstar potential

This is a repost of an Original Article by BY JESSE VARGAS of kulturehub.com, original article can be found here.

So I know you’ve heard “Too Many Years,” or better yet “Selfish” by the lanky light skin that’s seemingly taking over the charts — PnB Rock.

That was a while back, so by now you’ve definitely peeped his “Unforgettable” remix that we can’t get out of our heads or maybe even his second studio album “Catch These Vibes” that just dropped late last month.

All I know is this man is next up — you tell me the last time you heard an artist this versatile with the same finesse as Drake?

Rakim Hasheem Allen, better known as PnB Rock, isn’t just a music genius. He’s a Philly bred fashion icon and future star in the game.

He’s a trendsetter — the reason behind when you hear “Louis X Supreme” your next thought is “that’s limited edition” and why your girl is pressing you to be selfish all the time.

Now Rock’s always had that sound, since day one, but what we don’t know is how he developed it to become the idol that so many are looking up to today.

I swear I haven’t seen another artist rap AND sing with the same quality as Drake, since DRAKE. And these two aren’t even comparable.

Whether it’s a smooth cuffing melody or some authentic trap music, Rock’s got hands in them all. Out of his three songs that made the Billboard charts, how do ALL THREE give you different vibes?

Everyday We Lit” is a soul-hitting track featuring PnB Rock that gives you no extra energy other than to be successful. I want to hear the struggle and I want to hear the outcome, and he makes sure to leave listeners with all this in mind.

There are 10,080 minutes in a week, and besides being lit, I think we all have an idea how he spends ’em to be one of the hottest new artists out.

I don’t think I have to say much about this song besides the fact that ya girl sings along to it weekly. The same way Bey had girls going wild after Lemonade, Rock had girls wishing they had a man that was everything he talked about being in “Selfish.”

What’s unique about PnB Rock is that he genuinely addresses all the obscure, real issues people deal with, especially in his more melodic songs about women. It’s not all Trigga Trey “Slow Motion” and not all Chris Breezy claiming “these hoes ain’t loyal.”

Rock gives a sense of authenticity that’s pretty rare these days in this industry of mumble rap. For starters, you can’t classify him to a single box — he’s way too versatile.

You can’t say much about a rapper/singer that talks about everything from the struggle to the come up, and stardom. Some artists move out the hood and never look back, but it’s different for Rock.

In an interview with Atlantic Records, they put PnB Rock at the center of attention answering some questions about his life. When asked where he got the name “PnB” from, it was simple:

“PNB STANDS FOR PASTORIUS AND BAYNTON, IT’S MY BLOCK IN GERMANTOWN. PRETTY MUCH EVERYBODY AROUND MY NEIGHBORHOOD GOT PNB IN FRONT OF THEIR NAME.”

He’s not in it for the brand new lifestyle of fame and doesn’t want to leave his day ones, which isn’t just respectable, but admirable. Think about how many A$AP Mobs there are out there, because it’s uncommon. Drake talking about “No New Friends,” but the only Canadians we see him with are the Weeknd and Nav.

According to The Fader, Rock was raised in and out of shelters with his single mother and four siblings.

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His father wasn’t around so he looked to his uncle for that foundation, but after his murder, 15-year-old Rakim quickly hit the streets. A couple years later, he was locked up for about 33 months for selling drugs and robbing people, but that was just the beginning.

If you can imagine the scene from “Notorious” when Biggie was locked up, we got to see and understand the time progression and how much effort he really put into songwriting on his dolo. It was the same for Rock, spending his time tirelessly writing tracks inspired by the life he once lived as a kid roaming the rough streets of Philly.

When he got out of jail, he caught a buzz dropping two tapes, but got roped back in by the system around 2014 when he broke probation for leaving his halfway house without permission.

What gave him a lil’ more than “just a buzz” was his video for “My City Needs Something” being aired on MTV while fans rallied, starting the #FreePnBRock trend on social media.

The video depicts Rock with his crew backing him in his Philly territory. He talks about having no help from the cops because they were doing more bad than good, and even shows a kid getting shot playing ball. He put it simply:

“PEOPLE WERE DYING, PEOPLE WERE GETTING KILLED BY THE COPS… IF I LISTEN TO THAT SONG, I’LL CRY.”

According to Complex, Rock flexes his PUMA partnership, Billboard Hot 100 hits, and a sweet spot on this past XXL Freshman Class.

“WE’RE GOING TO HAVE OUR TIME. PNB IS LIKE A MOVEMENT, A WHOLE MOVEMENT IS GOING ON.”

On top of his latest hot album, “Catch These Vibes,” Rock’s a smooth fashion icon in the making, if not already. In the weeks and days leading up to the release of the album, he posted wild flics wearing the flyest brands.

But that doesn’t knock him too far base from his roots. He constantly references his home in Philly and leaves everything on the track with “Pressure” off his latest album.

He reminisces about his brother who was killed, his boys who got caught up in the system, his mom, and his daughter Milan, giving listeners a real taste of the real him.

He prides himself on authenticity and that’s what’s lacking in a lot of artists these days.

It gives him a relatability unlike most other people, let alone artists. He puts his heart and soul into his art and that’s why he’s made some Hip Hop and R&B hits that will stay in your playlists for years to come if we’re being honest.

We need more artists like Rock willing to use their voice to educate the youth, by relating to them and showing by example what happens when you put your grind first.

I don’t think we could ask for a better message for the youth right now. Rock knows exactly what this generation goes through which is why they rally behind him.

Lyrics aside, Rock knows how to connect with us on this insanely personal level by being exactly who he is. He manages to essentially succeed at life while dealing with the constant pressures that society puts upon him all while never changing who he is.

The way he’s giving love back is even more lit, going city to city covering both coasts, stopping by schools and turning up with college kids.

The tour kicks off this February with up and coming artist Lil’ Baby so you already know I’m hype to see what PnB Rock has in store for us and you definitely should be on the lookout too.

Cop your tickets here.

Elias Mohr / Do What You Love, Love What You Do

Though my time and experience on this planet of ours has been brief, and though I’ve many paths left to trek (and am working on paving my own), I realize that I have journeyed on a path shared by most. That path is one of devotion to what may be right in the eyes of others, of your peer group, of society, and so ourselves; yet one that is ultimately wrong for you. We’ve all wasted our truly precious time in fruitless, toxic relationships; holding on by the threads of our thin, frayed heartstrings, clutching to the hope that something, anything, will change and mend us. We’ve spent countless hours at a job that views us as simply indentured servants, or on a career path that’s been beaten by security and toleration instead of daringness and passion. I, like so many of us, have ventured on and these fools’ errands. However, somehow, somewhere, after running back to base from one of these many outings, I hit a crossroad. I stopped in my tracks. I looked left, then right, then left again. I glanced over my shoulder. I then looked forward, blankly, dazed, confused. And at once, an insatiable need drove me to leave my base behind, to start anew with nothing but the wind in my face and the clothes on my back. So, I bolted from that crossroads into the dense forest adjacent to it, and I’ve been running ever since. 

The base I’m referring to is of course the hub in which my now forsaken worldview once existed. A worldview that consisted of constant self-sacrifice. A worldview shaped, molded, and manipulated by those many preconceived notions and values practiced, but not my own, that were gathered and soaked up by the sponge that was my influential, naïve heart. A worldview that allowed the harmful, ignorant opinions of peers, the commands of my elder confidants, and senseless perceptions of my surroundings guide my mind. Yet would not let the voice that controls its every act give its input. The foolish pursuits I lost myself in were in all the aspects of the previous paragraph. I tried to love and save a toxic girl from herself, who although lusted, did not love me back. I was intentionally blind to that and would come back to base to re-evaluate at every instant reality crept its ugly form into my mind. I stood my ground in an occupation where any ounce of compassion was maliciously milked from my soul and used for the most wolfish of purposes. Where the only reward I reaped was a new sense of jadedness and a profound opportunity to witness corruption in its most raw form. I attempted to conquer a field of work in which I received no satisfaction. One that would bless me with security, but tear at me with its monotony. Luckily, I failed at or left these pursuits, and each time ran back to base to consult what I thought was myself. It was then, after all of this, I left that base for the final time and wandered onto a crossroads. 

Just before I bolted to make my own path, in that state of sudden confusion, I finally let that voice in my head that had been repressed for so long speak. I can’t remember for the life of me what it said that caused me to run off on my own, but I’d like to think it let me know that I couldn’t continue filling other cups if mine were empty. And oh, how nearly empty it was. So, I feel I sprinted off to fill my cup for once, and I’ve been trying oh so hard to fill it since. On my own path so far, I’ve taken in so much. I’ve been living for myself. I’ve realized my own values and put them to practice. I’ve accepted my true worldview from the ruins of my fool’s errands: do what you love, and love what you do. Love who your heart wants to, not who you think it needs to. Stop wallowing in the suffering of your current situation. Despite what others may think or feel, change it. Seek something you feel is worth devoting your time to. Quit pursuing what you think is security and opt out for what brings light to your eyes. I’d never dare to say that it’s easy, but leave your base, find your crossroads, and beat your own path.       

Elias V. Mohr / Pursue Your Passion, Please… For the Sake of Your Health

 photo  Anthony Tran

photo Anthony Tran

As a creative individual, I have my fair share of hobbies that relate to the creative process. It’s especially self-soothing to create music. And I, for sure, enjoy tinkering around with various technologies and devices. I have even dabbled with woodworking, sewing, braiding bracelets, etc. However, my true passion, my God-given gift (I’m not bragging, everyone has one, even you) is writing. By God, my love for the art is nearly impossible to explain in a coherent way. Hell, even if I could, I feel my surely affectionate expression would fall short of exhibiting the feeling justly. How exactly does one determine their true passion, or gift? Well, I’m sure there are a plethora of ways to pinpoint what exactly your gift is. My light-bulb moment came to me rather simply, and through years of self-refection and analyzation. I discovered, through my own introspective filters, that if I cease to write, I feel sick. Yes. I literally begin to burden both mental and physical ailments. My mind becomes both an overdriven turbine of which senseless thoughts circulate in an endless loop, and a massive swamp, so stagnant in its murky, unambitious layers. My body aches, it’s always fatigued, and saturated with lethargy, lest I write. If I refuse to write, my being exhorts the little frustrated energy it has left into conjuring another, promisingly unsuccessful outlet. How did I come to conclude these symptoms were the result of myself not satisfying what is quite honestly a need and not just, say, depression, or some weird-boy form of hypochondriasis? I’ll show you.

I fell in love with writing at fourteen. It began so suddenly, and with a beautiful aggression. I wrote anything and everything. Poems, romantic sonnets (oh yes, having a command over language is extremely beneficial… in every area), short stories, songs, even made a few attempts at a novel. I wrote quite frequently until the age of eighteen, in 2012. Then… life suddenly become a creative wedge, a thread-cutter of sorts. At the time, I was willing myself to balance both high school and college classes. I had begun my second serious romantic relationship, later, my first taxed occupation, and eventually, full-time college classes. Life was quite eventful at eighteen. Even in this midst of productivity and perceived happiness, I was frustrated and mildly depressed.  I had no moment to spare for my creative endeavors, until, eventually, I was laid-off from my job, and then dropped out of college. I had much more time for personal affairs, and thusly, my writing. Were these events discouraging in nature, did I feel as though I was failing tremendously? Of course. Yet, I was filled with the fuel of the fire that is suffering. I was able to express myself in my favorite art form, and for that, I was grateful.

Fast-forward to the Summer of 2015. I have been writing quite frequently for some time. Especially about forthcoming events I had envisioned. My romantic relationship was on the brink of destruction, I was working a meager fast food job, making little money. On top of it all, my home life was in an equal state of chaos, despair, and fear. Amidst it all, I was engaged in my art with such ferocity that I felt whatever I penned burned the paper on which it was printed. It was my way of escaping whatever conflict surrounded me. Once the conflict came to a climax, and after the dust settled, I took to action an actual act of escapism. I uprooted where I had been for nearly a decade, and decided to move in with a group of like-minded peers, to avoid the terror of facing and solving my issues. 

 

 

Shortly thereafter, I abandoned the pen for a PBR. For nearly a solid year and a half, I sought out nearly every other form of sensory pleasure possible, other than the one I knew and needed. For a great amount of time, most of that seeking was done with a stumbling gait and in a perpetuating stupor. Long after the conflict and despair of the previously mentioned events dissipated, I felt strangely physically uncomfortable and mentally unstable (and yes, even when I eventually lessened my intake of liquid bread). Finally, within the next several months, I started producing more poetry, and to my subconscious’ expectation, I felt more than content. Unfortunately, this lasted only a short while, and my expression faded with the invasion of reality and brutishness. 

Coming to recent past, this past Summer, in fact, I picked the pen up yet again. I began putting forth effort unlike any measure before into my art. I was both reading and writing with an inexplicable quenchless thirst for the activities. It brought me so much joy and ignited so much wonder that I refused to stop ever again. Yet, I did. This time, with a purpose in mind. One day, I simply stopped. Over the course of the weeks following, I began seeing and feeling the symptoms I described at the beginning of this essay. They’re extremely subtle, faint, covered by every other active ongoing in the mind and body. Suddenly, one morning, sitting at my table, drinking coffee, I had the most curious and wonderful epiphany. I asked myself how long I had been experiencing these spiritual droughts, if you will. Has this been present all along, over the course of my inactivity in my passion? As any sane person would do, I began to research as to whether this is an actual phenomenon within creatives, or if I’m just a fucking emotionally inept basket case. After some light research, sure enough, these feelings were validated. Authors such as Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Stephan King suffered the same sort of light turmoil when inactive. The creators’ desolate feelings when not creating are not limited to the scope of penman, either. 

Musicians, painters, photographers, any creator is subject to the same emotional destitution, if not working with their gift and passion. Upon discovering this, confirming my hypothesis, I understood all at once those feelings that brewed in the times where my passion wasn’t present in my daily life. As of now, I write a poem a day, and contribute to some sort of larger narrative daily. As one who has experienced all of this, I want to encourage all of you whom create and are reading this to never stop, nor give up. In doing so, you’re damaging yourself and crushing a part of you, a gift that needs to give. So, please, for the sake of your health, pursue your passion.             

Jacob Cornell / In Defense of the Album, and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Long-Form Music Releases As A Whole.

In the age where anyone can be a musician with as little as a laptop and a cheap mic, it’s no surprise that it’s also easier than ever to access exactly the music you want to hear exactly when you want to hear it. If you want to hear an artist’s newest single, you can tap the link they decide to spam on all of their social media. Or, better yet, within a few hours someone’s almost certainly ripped it and stuffed it into a low-quality YouTube video. Since new music is constantly being uploaded to the web, some artists are choosing to release their newest songs in the form of frequent singles or EP’s. While that approach is certainly SoundCloud and YouTube friendly, there’s an argument to be made for experiencing an artist’s fully developed release as a whole. This time of year it’s pretty common to see tons of discussion about which album was the “Album of the Year.” While there are usually a few common bands or artists whose fans will insist that they’ve written the best album of the year, it’s rare to find many publications or articles that will agree on their pick. Is that because some people have bad opinions? Maybe. Is it more so due to the fact that enjoyment of music is subjective and each person’s life, mood, experiences, and opinions will influence how they hear music and affect how their opinion of said music develops? Yep. That being said, why is AOTY even a discussion? If the release of music in the common scene is gravitating away from the album format as a whole, shouldn’t the discussion move away from whose album stood out the most or who had the most bangin’ bop of the year? Nope. The album, as an art form, will never and should never die. Aside from being an obvious way for artists to release a larger body of collective work, it’s a way for an artist to convey a deeper tone, story, or meaning. Rather than limiting themselves to what can fit into a single song, an artist is able to create an entire narrative around their release, some even going as far as creating an entire universe for their characters to live in. This is NOT something that can be accomplished in one song. Take The Wonder Years’ fourth album, The Greatest Generation as an example. In the album’s first single, “Passing Through a Screen Door,” singer/songwriter/musical genius Dan Campbell details the regret he feels regarding his comparative immaturity, his lack of a family, as well as the loneliness of how his life has developed. While Campbell’s lyricism certainly brings a lot of emotion and depth to the track, stopping at just this song and assuming this to be the theme of the entire album would be doing it a disservice. There’s two reasons, however, I won’t get too deep into an analysis of the album as a whole: One, because I couldn’t do it justice, and two, because if for some reason you haven’t listened to The Greatest Generation in order, you’ve made a huge mistake—stop reading and go put it on right now. In short, albums allow artists to channel their experience into art. Whether they choose to use that experience to tell stories, express their opinions, or create an atmosphere, a full-length album is the best format for doing so. The album will never, and should never die.

Elizabeth Stafford / Songs You Might Be Missing Out On

If you know me at all, you know I have opinions on music, and I love any excuse to share them. My Spotify playlist has a large collection of songs I have stumbled upon and listen to almost always. So if you are looking for some songs to spice up your daily playlist, check this list out.

Savage by Whethan (ft. MAX and Flux Pavilion)

The first thing that hits you in this song is Max’s silky smooth vocals. Max Schneider has a sweet, sensual voice guaranteed to make your knees weak. Once he slowly draws you in, that’s when Flux steps in with his signature dubstep. I know once I say “dubstep”, most people immediately veto the song. Just trust me. Between the vocals, beat, and Whethan’s masterful production, it’s a song you won’t want to quit listening to.

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OBSESSIVE by Chase Atlantic

This song is a flamboyant mixture of The 1975 and any addictive boyband you never want to let go. The band threw in a saxophone, pop beats, and some flirty lyrics to produce your next favorite jam. It’s definitely different than most stuff they have put out, but I honestly can’t take it off repeat.

Kiwi by Harry Styles

I am breathing out very heavily with frustration as I type this because I thought Harry Styles would be done ruining my life by now. Yet, here we are with one of the funkiest songs on the charts right now. This soul rock song with Rolling Stones influence has shaken up my life, and I couldn’t be happier seeing my favorite One Direction member blossom into an even bigger music icon.

You Are a Star by Citizen

To add some grunge to this list, I am throwing in a song of Citizen’s new As You Please album. I’m pretty sure I stood in my shower in silence for 20 minutes straight listening to this song the other night. The hypnotic rhythm easily wraps around you and pulls you into a dreary haze.

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Chateau by blackbear

Blackbear is honestly a perfect mess of an emo rapper and singer. I always find myself wanting to party in an LA penthouse anytime I turn this song on. His cold lyrics with the hard-hitting beats make you angry at an ex you never even had.

Disco Tits by Tove Lo

Honestly, the title of this song says it all. I don’t know what to say about this song other than it is one wild ride. Cheers to Tove Lo for being the fearless woman she is and creating this carefree single.

Vicodin by CVBZ

With under 2,000 Instagram followers on Instagram, it’s astounding how much people are sleeping on this guy. I don’t think I could even begin to tell you how many times I have played this song since I have found it. It’s one of those songs that is perfect for any occasion, whether it be getting ready to go out, daydreaming, or traveling to somewhere new. I’m anxiously waiting for him to blow up.

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Swoon by Beach Weather

This song is just downright sexy. The soft spoken vocals creep up on your skin and send chills down your spine. It has a beat you’ll find yourself swaying your hips to, the bridge of the song sends you into a pleasurable frenzy.

Elizabeth Stafford

Patrick Quiring / Dagny Interview

We recently got a chance to sit down and speak to the wonderful Norwegian pop sensation known as Dagny before her sold-out show with LANY at the historic Cain’s Ballroom in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma earlier last month. In it we discuss the difference between the music scenes in Europe and the United States, her current musical obsession, and how she writes her mesmerizing tunes. So sit back, relax, and join us for the ride as we talk to Dagny!

 photo by  Patrick Quiring

photo by Patrick Quiring

Hey there, Dagny! How are you doing today?
I’m very Good. thank you! We’re in Austin at the moment.

Very cool. How is that going?
Very well. I mean we came in the bus last night, or well more in the morning so I haven’t really had a chance to properly check it out yet but so far it’s so good.

Oh great! You’re going to love Austin. Austin is an amazing city.
Oh, that’s what everybody says actually. Like a few guys from the band are from Austin and they’ll just like “oh, it’s such a cool city. You’ll love it”.  

Are you excited to be touring the U.S. by the way? Is this your first time here playing
music and touring around?

It’s the first time touring, but I have been here before quite a bit but like I’ve never done anything like touring the country before. You know? Like we’re going to so many cities. And like some cities that I’m going to, I’ll openly admit that I haven’t even heard about before the tour was planned. So I think I’m psyched that I’m going to get to explore in such a different way, but I’ve actually spent some time in L.A. before, and obviously New York and like some of the bigger cities too.

Since you’ve been going around the U.S. a lot does it differ a lot in your eyes as compared
to Europe? Like crowd or music wise?

Umm, I do think so in general, and this is super generalizing. This would probably not be proven if someone did research on it, but I do feel like people in America respond very well to like more mainstream pop. Well sometimes especially in Norway where I’m from it’s a very big scene of more of electronic and slightly darker more Nordic electronic sound. We don’t have so much like straight up pop. Compared to how we’ve done so far it’s been like a really good response from the audience. People are just so forward and they come up after the show and they’re so excited and you know they just show more appreciation, which is very nice.

So we’re like more open in a way?
Yeah, like more kind of forward in a way, but in a really nice way
 
Well that’s good to hear.
And another difference is obviously the size of it too. I mean I’m from Norway, which is a tiny country.  

I see I see. So, I've been digging into your music for a while now, and I've been wanting to ask
you a couple of questions about it. So I'd really love to learn what inspires you when you write music, and what motivates you? Your music has such a unique feel to it that it really has me curious about it.

Umm you know I get really inspired by the people that I work with. However, like I think that when I go into a session it’s all about the chemistry that you have with the person that you’re in the room with, and so a lot of the time I actually get really inspired by kind of my writing partner or whatever conversation that we have. So I think a lot of the stuff that I’ve been releasing it’s not just like songs that I feel particularly connected with. It’s also sessions that I felt particularly where I would get that extra special chemistry and energy between each other. Where you would leave that session where you would be like “Oh my god, I just made an amazing track with these people”. People I wanna keep in my life. And then I would say traveling as well is something that inspires me a lot. And you know, I’m hoping that we go on tour in the U.S. and then just write my whole fucking album based on this tour.

What is your favorite track you've written, and why? Is it still Backbeat or has it changed?
I mean, again, it’s like every song has its own story, and I’m proud of all of them, but right now I’m really loving “Wearing Nothing”, which was the latest single. I don’t know it was just kind of different, and it was (created) in a really very positive way, like a real challenge. And I feel now when we’re on this tour; whenever that comes up in the set, I’m like “Okay…. this feels good”. So right now I’m having a “Wearing Nothing” day if you could say that.
 
What inspired that song to come about would you say? What inspired that song to happen?
Um, you know we talked about this whole thing with connections between people? Like the chemistry between people. It was actually inspired by that feeling you get when you meet someone that makes you have that feeling where you just want to show them everything, and you just want to be completely bare with them. You just have like this magnetic energy between you both in a way.

Like you can just be completely vulnerable and honest with them?
Yeah! Exactly. Like you can be completely yourself, you can be completely open. You just want to tell them everything and show them everything. And I think we were kind of playing on that. Like that was the emotion, but then obviously playing on that in terms of like where even a simple piece of clothing is like too much space in between two people. Where you’re wanting to be completely bare in every sense of the word. So for us, we always wanted to keep that intimacy in it, and not make it too much in the word of naked, but more of in opening up to someone.

And being completely vulnerable with them and showing them your true self and just being
honest?

Exactly, that’s exactly right.

Wow, that’s so inspiring. I haven’t thought of that yet. It’s kind of inspiring.
Well yeah, it’s an inspiring emotion when you get it.

So whenever you write is there a certain person you write with or is it always changing? Does
that make sense?

Like my co-writers?

Yes! Is there one person you write with all the time, or is it always changing?
I used to, you know go to LA and I would go out there I would write with 60 different people.

Oh my gosh.
You would write with a lot of different people, but I think I’ve reached the point now where I’ve found the people that you connect with. I mean, (when you write with people) it’s like you put your everything on the table, and it’s like… “okay, listen to this story. We’re going to write about this”. And you know you’re a little bit out there when you’re in the sessions so I think when finding those people that can bring out the honesty and all the emotion, and find someone that you feel comfortable to talk about all the things that are going on in your life I think is important. So I’ve kind of found a group of people who I really connect with, and that inspire me and that I feel I can be open and honest with. So there's a group of people I would say that I always try to get in touch with when I have a chance, but I also totally like trying new people too because I obviously shouldn’t be against it.

Like closed off to new ideas?
Yeah, exactly. I write with a lot of Swedish people. It must be a Nordic thing that comes out.

I mean, they’re pretty great. Especially that one guy from the 90’s who wrote a ton of hit songs
from Sweden. If I remember correctly?

Yeah, Max Martin, right??

Yeah, Max Martin! He’s amazing at writing pop songs.
He’s like the songwriting guru, and his team is amazing. I’ve actually written with a ton of
people who work for him.

Oh, really?
Oh, yes. They have an amazing sense of pop music.

So, what makes a good pop song? Like, what are the parts that make an amazing pop song to
you? Is it lyrics or melody?

Ooooo, that’s a big question. If it makes me want to cry, or get up and dance I think we’re pretty much there. It’s either one or the other. Yeah, I don’t know. If I hear a song that makes me just want to fucking run down the street and feels like invisible and goes crazy in some weird musical way then that’s a good song.
 
Like it makes you want to just dance, and let loose but there’s still some melancholy behind it?
Yeah, absolutely. I love that mix of the melancholy and happy pop song that is mixed together. I think that is something I always try and achieve in my songs. That like really happy, uplifting or powerful thing, but with that slight touch of madness to it.
 
It kind of like touches your soul in that weird way of emotions?
Yeah, it does. It has kind of a hopeful sense to it. I always know when I found a new favorite pop song because I would listen to it non-stop for the next period of time, and then I’d wished I
wrote it of course. (laughs)

What are some songs you can’t get enough of right now?
Good question because the last week has been nothing but rehearsing and playing shows. Right now I’m on tour with LANY so I think there’s a good chance to say that I’m really loving their live show with having seen them now. What else have I been listening to? Let me picture my Spotify playlist. You know! Right now I’ve been having a throwback. You know Lana Del Ray? You know for some reason I never really caught on to her wave at first, but I saw her this summer and I’ve been listening to her loads. I’m a like a newborn Lana Del Ray fan.

Well there you go. So, what song are you listening to the most by her right now?
I’m really loving the song “Ride” right now. It’s like one of the songs I’ve listened to a million times, and I’m never sick of it. I saw her live in Oslo at the Øya Festival, and I was just like Holy Shit, what is this? What is this song?

Was just that good?
Yeah, it was like love at first listen.

Do you have a move you when do when you perform live?
Oh I have a move! I actually have a few moves. They’re very uncool, but for some reason, they kind of just work like the band would make fun of it, It’s like a weird thing I air drum a lot. Like I’ve always done it. Even when I was starting at 16 I’ve done it. I had a friend who used to play guitar, and I would just sing. There were only a few songs, but in my head, I could see the whole production.  So I would air drum while he would like be singing these acoustic ballads. So I’ve got a lot of weird moves.

Why'd you cover more, more, more? What drew you to cover that? It’s such a classic, but it’s
not Norwegian or Swedish so what made you want to cover it?

No, it’s not at all. Well when we made the Target commercial, which is what it was for
originally.

Ohh really? I had no idea.
So we kind of got this challenge to make this cover for the Target commercial, and it was really fun to work with something in that way because obviously, the result is so different from my own stuff. But then the fun part of it was trying to get this Target vision across in the music, and something that represents their brand. It was such a different way to go about making music that it was really fun, and it was something I really enjoyed by doing such a different challenge. You know? Sometimes it’s nice to take yourself out of your comfort zone, and outside of what you’re used to and what you normally do. And so I think we came out with a really fun and disco-inspired version of a great song.

And yeah, it totally makes sense with the whole “buying more items, and things.” that makes total sense now, and it’s kind of ingenious in a way, I remember that you said that you used to write more in the acoustic world, but now it seems like you’re doing mainly electronic stuff. What inspired that change, or did it just naturally happen?
I think it was natural. Like as I said I’m always kind of a little bit late to the party in every a sense of the word. I would like to just say before I say that I still think we make music that is quite organic and band driven in many ways. Like some of the recent recordings have been more electronic, but if you see us live it’s still very much like a band vibe with lots of energy, and real instruments because that’s what I love. So, I don’t know. I’m always discovering new ways to make music and like this more electronic approach to it has just expanded my world of sounds in the last two years since I’ve been able to write so much, and meet so many new people and producers and stuff. But in terms of this more singer-songwriter thing, I did before. I think that the reason why I wanted to go bigger sounding, more energetic, and more kind of punchy was it just kind of was more true to me. Like I’m not a really quiet, sit still person, and so it felt weird to  me to be on the stage and just sitting there with your acoustic guitar, and not get to move around.
 
It more was like a reflection of your personality then? Does that make sense??
Yeah, I mean I fucking love going to acoustic shows. I mean I still love going to singer-songwriter nights. Trying to discover new music and new songs. I would say the biggest transformation hasn’t really been going from an organic band driven to electronic. It’s just more been like going from a very, very small soundscape of like just an acoustic guitar to like making big, big pop songs, you know? and trying to make something that I can go on stage and let myself loose in a way. Because that’s what I want to do. I want to go up on stage, and for 40 minutes I just want to rock out, jump around, and sing and forget everything else

Now I'm going to give the mic to you so you can tell us anything you want to tell us. We are all
ears. What should we know from Dagny, herself? Is there anything that we didn't cover?

The most prudent thing I can say right now is if we’re coming to a city nearby, fucking come down to the show. We’re in America now, and we’re not in two months or in 3 months so if people want to come to the show then they should. I want to meet as many of them as I can on this tour.

 photo by  Patrick Quiring

photo by Patrick Quiring

Make sure you check out Dagny on the rest of her tour across the U.S.! She
continues her tour at the Filmore in LA!

Patrick Quiring

Cheyenne Thomas / Would You Still Love Your Favorite Band If The Members Weren’t Attractive?

 photo by  Ashley Houston

photo by Ashley Houston

Humans have always placed a high value on appearance. We like people that are attractive; It’s how we are wired. But I fear it has become less about the music and more about the attractiveness of the band. In genres like Pop, being good looking is among the highest of prerequisites to being a star; even above having any talent at all. That has been no mystery since the beginning of time. Ask yourselves this? When is the last time a new band came on to the scene and at least half of their members weren’t poster-child beautiful? I’ll wait...

Now there is nothing wrong with fangirling over how cute your favorite band members are, that’s all a part of the fun, but what is concerning is when attractiveness takes priority over talent. I’m not saying any of the above bands are not talented either. This is just food for thought. We can’t forget the days of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, or The Grateful Dead when it was all about pure, raw talent. Fans often didn’t even know what the band looked like. They were listening to the quality of the music alone. But on the other end, you could argue that sex appeal has always been a part of rock n roll. For every Roger Waters, there was also a Jim Morrison. Who’s to say what makes a band successful. In a way, being a rock star makes people seem more attractive alone. There’s no perfect equation for what equals success. Being good looking certainly, does help though

Cheyenne Thomas

Samantha Bass / My First Show

 Photo by  Rickie McCanna

Photo by Rickie McCanna

How old were you when you went to your first show? I was twelve. It was Muse with Passion Pit, and on that day I could never imagine where I would be now. Growing up in the music scene was something different. I’m truly more open-minded, aware and tolerant compared to a lot of my friends who didn’t grow up with an accepting music scene. I’ve learned in my almost 20 years of life so much from people I met through music.

First, that everyone’s struggling with something. Don’t try and disguise it with happy Instagram posts and Snapchats, we all have demons. It truly shows in the lyrics and tones of your favorite bands. You can instantly tell what someone might be going through based on what they’re listening to. For example, a lot of people resonate with The Wonder Years and their themes of soul searching, trying to find out who you are even if you’re in your late twenties, which is generally when people “have their life together.” That’s also something to bond over, the struggles and hardships we all go through.

Second, that it isn’t too hard to show acceptance. Especially now, this scene has come together for oppressed communities and re-learned how to respect each other. Whether it be educating about slurs, gender pronouns, sexuality, feminism and oppression in general. I can personally say I was taught by a lot of people from the scene and although it isn’t their job to, it was incredibly helpful to shape who I am and how I approach and respect people.

Lastly, this scene has truly educated me on what different types of mental illnesses there are, and how to handle them. With organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms and Hope For The Day active in the alternative music scene, they have helped raise awareness and shown that there is hope at the end of the tunnel, even if it takes years to get there, and that there are people there to help.

This scene has grown and molded with me as I’ve grown up. It’s become a home for many people and some days I’m proud to be in it, while others I want to walk away. But that’s the thing about growing up, you make mistakes and you learn from them.

Samantha Bass

TJ Martinez / An Introduction

 photo by  Matt Bender

photo by Matt Bender

tjmartinezphotography@gmail.com / @tjmartinezphoto

Hey, Y'all! I'm TJ Martinez, a new MNSTRM Media staff member. I want to jump right in with an introduction of who I am. I've been pursuing my dreams of music photography since June of 2016. It was on a terribly hot Friday night at a local dive bar where I took my first concert photos of a friend's band. Over the summer of '16, I became close with that band, tagging along with them to shows all over Texas. I'm a pretty confident and talkative person so networking came naturally for me. With that, I quickly branched out and started working with many other bands and publications.
It was over the course of that summer that fell in love for the first time. I was fully immersed in my work so no, it wasn't some boy that captured my heart- it was the music industry. I found myself at my happiest when I was doing anything involved with the music industry or my local music scene. I soaked in every moment of photographing artists I loved, partaking in passionate talks about all things music related, long car rides with artists to their shows, making new friends at concerts, band practices, late night food runs after gigs, and everything in between.
I was lucky enough to have that time between my sophomore and junior year of high school to devote my summer to learning everything I could about music photography. I'd spend hours every day researching and teaching myself as much as I could about music photography. Through the months, I’ve worked non-stop toward bettering myself as a photographer by exploring my art and pushing my limits to create the best work I can. Presently, I've shot over 100 artists at over 30 shows and 3 music festivals. I’m beyond proud of myself for how far I have come and can not wait to see what I will accomplish with MNSTRM!

Elizabeth Stafford / Please Stop Writing the EDM Scene Off as “Stupid”

When I dig deep into my music roots, I find classic rock. My father played
nothing but hair metal bands while growing up, and I listened to nothing but pop
punk in middle and high school. When I moved down to Tampa for college, I was
introduced to the wonder of the EDM scene. Since then, I have grown to float
between the punk community and EDM community of Tampa. One show you can
easily catch me in Vans and band tee, and the next concert I might be covered in
glitter and rave clothing. Warped Tour and EDC Orlando both offered an escape
and home to me, and many of my best memories rest in those moments of my life.
One thing that I have noticed is the strong opinion about the EDM lifestyle
from people who identify with rock music. Usually they say EDM is “stupid”.
They say it’s just a bunch of sounds and beeps and weird people. Whenever I
mention pop punk to my friends at raves, they usually shrug and say it isn’t their
thing but that they don’t mind it. I guess you could say this post is going to be a
shoutout to my fellow “rave baes” and explanation as to why it isn’t a stupid and
pointless scene.
Whether you like raving or not, you have probably seen a video on
Instagram of some DJ playing a set and the crowd going absolutely insane. One
thing undeniable about EDM is the unity within it. No matter where you come
from or what your background is, you don’t need to understand a certain language
or culture to enjoy electronic music. This overall understanding and connection
through a crowd can make an experience wonderful. I tell many friends skeptical
of electronic music to attend a show. With everyone moving, chanting, and
dancing together with the lights, smoke, heavy bass, and overall euphoria, you
can’t help but to feel free.
No, it isn’t just a bunch of drugs and frat bros. Yes, there may be some of
that involved, but it doesn’t make up the majority. I have been to many raves and
festivals and have never once taken ecstasy, acid, LSD, etc. Some of my friends
have partaken, but it definitely isn’t required to have a good time. Looking at the
people, many people are friendly. Unity and respect is heavily promoted in the
EDM community. People are often excited to meet each other, dance with each
other, pass out water to each other, and overall enhance each other’s experience.

The most important thing to me about an experience at an electronic show is
the immense amount of freedom I find. With everyone losing their mind, there’s no
room to be worried about what is happening outside of the show. The pounding
bass and sky-rocketing energy levels pull me in, and I completely forget who I am
for a couple hours. I dismiss all responsibilities and couldn’t care less about work,
school, or whatever else I must do. I only care about having a good experience. I
usually walk out of an electronic show covered in sweat, glitter, and popped
champagne, and the funny thing is, I love it.
The bottom line of what I am trying to say here is, I don’t mind if you don’t
like electronic music. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. What I do mind is someone
writing it off as stupid, pointless, or whatever else. I can confidently say the EDM
community provides a home for many people and has given me some of the best
moments of my life.

Elias Mohr / The Diversity and Acceptance of Punk: Tolerance of the Scene

 photo by  Cheyenne Thomas

photo by Cheyenne Thomas

Punk is the most diverse (and accepting) scene that collective music has ever been graced with knowing. You can be street smart, or bookish. Maybe you’re dark and mysterious, or bubbly and outgoing. Is your wardrobe filled with thousands of dollars of tailor-made suits, or do you prefer to bunk naked in a dumpster behind a Denny’s? Does it matter? No! Punk doesn’t give a flying red fuck who you are! That’s its beauty: tolerance. Not just tolerance within its constituents’ appearance or acceptance of its main ideologies of nonconformity, Left-Liberalism, Anarchism, and Nihilism. I’m here to discuss its tolerance to not only those who lurk around societies outskirts but those who are traditionally seen as enemies to Punks being tolerated. Even those who lurk on the outer fringes of the figurative Punk acceptance list.

Punk is best known for its social conscientiousness and its political charge. However, did you know that Apolitical Punks exist? Punks… without an agenda? What?! It’s true! G.G. Allin, crazy as he was, was mostly Apolitical, apart from a few socially charged screams here and there. The Ramones were decidedly Apolitical as well. Johnny Ramone being a Conservative and Joey being a Liberal would’ve brought forth a terrible mix, had they decided to criticize the Man. Pop Punk disregards political ideals, opting to not be a casualty to society.

There’s a small subgenre within Punk that are both Christian and Conservative. They are literally the opposite of what most mainstream Punk stands for and perpetuates. Remarkably, they’re just as accepted as any other collective or individual!

Punk even has a small sub genre consisting of strictly Muslims. Known as Taqwacore, this small band of Punks is composed of bands which are made of members who are solely Arabic in descent. They have no one sound and some reject the label of Taqwacore as Islamophobic and racist. Nevertheless, I find it amazing that a group that has been marginalized to a great degree in America can find solace in Punk.

Whatever your beliefs, style, customs, or creed, Punk will accept seemingly anyone with open arms. It may be labeled as dirty, obnoxious, and loud; however, intolerance will never be compared with Punk. Its tolerance is its sole reason for its continuance and popularity, it’s the genre’s greatest attribute. It’s as well an attribute we can all add a little of into our lives.

 

Album Review / Adolescents / Manifest Density / Elias Mohr

The Adolescents are the epitome of West Coast Hardcore Punk. Hard, fast, rebellious, and unpredictable. Originating in Southern California in the early 1980’s, I was pleasantly surprized to see such an old-school, hard knocks Punk band roaming around the country. Let alone, on such a youth-riddled tour like Warped. Their latest release, Manifest Density, dropped early last month, quite abrupt and low-key. In fact, had I not searched through the catalog of bands attending Warped, I would’ve been completely ignorant of the album's existence. Kind of a soft release for a well-known Punk band, right? Anyway, let’s jump into this record. 

81TdE0OspdL._SL1200_.jpg

I dove in headfirst to track one: Escape from Planet Fuck. Intriguing title, no?  It’s fast-paced, treble heavy, and a great general par-for-the-course Punk tune. Classic ramblings of disparagement, displacement, and overall misanthropy are scattered throughout the opener. Unhappy Hour is an odd cacophony. It seems to emulate the delivery style of Minutemen, with an autotuned chorus, and a slew of out-of-place guitar solos. It’s as if they attempted to mix modern sound engineering, a classic Punk rhythm, and combine the two with sprinkles of Classic Rock. Were they attempting to gain mass appeal? Are they trying their best to not totally unleash their inner dad’s? I’m not sure what their motives were behind releasing this track, but I damn well know shredding solos don’t belong in Punk. Although, aside from the terrible combination, the message of “I can’t make you drink the water” is clear, and par Punk. 

Jacobs Ladder is a heavy anthem of alienation and youthful misdirection. A bit of an overrated message, considering their age and demographic. However, a yet again, mediocre track. Catfish has a delightful marching beat. The vocals are far more prominent than the previously mentioned tracks, allowing for the presumed feeling of self-disconnection and brokenness within the lyrics to emerge immediate, and clean. It’s relatable, emotional, and closed-off all at once. Vs brings the album to a close, in a victorious fashion. It’s an address to perseverance, an admirable ending to a subjectively down-trodden string of tracks.

As one may correctly assume, I was greatly unimpressed with this record. It was filled with pseudo-passionate riffs and lyrics. The composition, both musically and lyrically, appeared lazily written and loosely based around some sort of philosophic Punk journey through troubled times. It is Punk in its most distilled form. It is such mediocrity that it’s difficult to review. Simply put, The Adolescents are boring and approaching senior citizen status, and this album doesn’t hide that fact.

Elias Mohr

Talk Tuesday / Elizabeth Stafford / Music for Everyone

If there are any two things I enjoy, it’s good music and helping a cause. If you feel the same way I do, boy, do I have something for you. Stop what you’re doing now and check out the ACLU benefit music compilation, MUSIC FOR EVERYONE. It features many punk artists such as Taking Back Sunday, Frank Iero, Anthony Green from Circa Survive/Saosin, and so many more names you either know or should know! And not only does it feature great artists, the benefits go towards American Civil Liberties Union. If you aren’t totally clear on what the ACLU does, according to their website, they work “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The compilation was wonderfully organized and put together by John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday, Hopeless Records, Collective Confusion Records, and the non-profit Sub City.

Focusing on the music itself, I enjoy that every song has a message focusing on a social issue, or several issues, we are experiencing as a country today. Whether it's homophobia, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, or whatever else, this compilation confronts all of it. Most of the songs are short and sweet and have a definite urgency about them. I, personally, listen to more pop punk stuff, but this album leans more towards the rowdy, raw punk side. A lot of the songs get your blood flowing and make you want to go make a change. Some songs are acoustic though if that’s more your speed. As a whole, I enjoy the continuous attitude of the compilation, and I think it is something worth benefitting. Whether you want to feel angsty or solemn, this compilation caters to all aspects of emotions while also showcasing many artists.

If you are interested, you can purchase the compilation for a minimum of 10 dollars at https://musicforeveryone.bandcamp.com/releases.

MNSTRM JULY PLAYLIST

We know you guys have been craving some new songs to add to your daily playlist, and we are now delivering. The new MNSTRM Spotify playlist is up and ready for you to hit the play button. Our team came together once again and compiled a collaborative playlist. Featured songs on this playlist include:

  • Slide by Calvin Harris (ft. Frank Ocean and Migos)
  • Supercut by Lorde
  • American Idiot by Green Day
  • New Rules by Dua Lipa

Listening to these songs one time should convince you of their value, but in case you need some extra convincing, MNSTRM asked the staff why they picked some of the singles.

“I picked this song (“American Idiot”) because I have always loved the song and the lyrics. Even though the song came out when I was 7. I've always found it extremely upbeat, and it always gets me on my feet, whether it be waking up in the mornings to get ready or just listening to it to put you in a good mood. For me, it's one of those songs you can listen to 24/7 and never get tired of.” - Michaela Parks

"I chose this song (“Slide”) because I'm absolutely in love with Calvin Harris' beat and Frank Ocean's dreamy smooth silky vocals. I also love the feature by trap gods, Migos. Plus, it's such a good summer jam! It immediately gets me in the mood to just go for a drive at night with the windows down, and let the world hear what I have playing as I zoom down the highway. Hopefully, you get the same feeling as I do." - Patrick Quiring

“I threw this song (“New Rules”) on the playlist because I have honestly been in a female empowerment mood. I mean, hey, I am a 21-year old at a university dealing with immature frat boys. They are so enticing yet so dangerous. When I heard this song, I heavily related to every word. It is also just a funky song that easily gets stuck in your head. Her deep, sultry voice pulls you in, and I found myself saying, “YES, GIRL,” the entire song.” - Elizabeth Stafford

"What immediately jumps out at me in this song (“Supercut”) is the super interesting way of looking at the movie editing technique known as "supercuts" when thinking about relationships with people. How in your head when you look back on somebody and remember all the times is a lot like patching everything together into a little movie. It's just so beautiful. I also love how Lorde admits to when you look back on memories you really remember the good parts and when you were the hero of your own story. Even when it might not be the case. It's just so fascinating because I totally can see myself in those shoes. I also really love the music in this too, and how the beat goes with it all. This is a song you'll definitely have to check out the next chance you get" - Patrick Quiring

Check Out Our Playlist Here

Interview / Elizabeth Stafford / The New Respects

Members of The New Respects: Alexandria Fitzgerald, Alexis Fitzgerald, Darius Fitzgerald, Jasmine Mullen

  • If you could just start out with a little background on how you all decided to make music together, that’d be awesome.

    • Alexis: We grew up in Nashville and everyone did music. So we thought, “We aren’t going to make music.” We were the cool kids that didn’t make music. But one day, Alexandria and Jasmine wrote a song together, and someone said we should start a band. So we did. It was a very casual thing. Over the years, we grew more passionate about it and really dove into it.

  • How did you all being surrounded by gospel music impact your process now? Did you ever try to push away from that?

    • Alexandria: We definitely had our rebellious phase. But we realize now it’s not about NOT doing religious but about speaking up about what we believe in and what we are passionate about. With so many things going on in the world, we want to make statements that are true and real, and the base of it is love.

  • Looking back at several years ago, how have you all stayed growing and changing? I believe you used to more folk and now you definitely have a strong rock and blues influence.

    • Jasmine: I think we ended up in rock as a result of curiosity just like we ended up in folk as a result of curiosity. We listened to a lot of Mumford & Sons and then we realized none of us could really play a banjo, and it didn’t really fit our style. Going to pop, soul, and rock ‘n roll felt right. It’s like a pair of jeans that fit just right. And as time goes on, I think we are open to finding new parts of ourselves, but this feels like home right now.

  • I was actually speaking to a young lady in the Dillon Francis crowd about her African-American background and how it affects her approach to some things and her lifestyle. Does your cultural background have any influence on your music and the way you create? If so, please explain.

    • Alexis: We grew up in a very diverse community. We had people who were black that loved us, and we had people who were white that loved us. I never really thought it was a thing, and I never thought racism was a thing. We grew up in a very sheltered mentality. The more we grow up and see the world for how it is, I think we have a very unique call and serve as a bridge between different cultures because we lived in both. But I love going back and looking at influences in rock ‘n roll like Jimi Hendrix and black people who did music that we are putting a twist on and realizing that this isn’t necessarily new, but there is a long history, and it’s exciting.

  • In a lot of your songs, you have such a high energy. How do you keep that up and effectively translate that to the crowd?

    • Darius: I feel like you just have to give it. If you want high energy, you have to give it back to them. I think that’s my game plan. If they are seeing we are having fun, hopefully they will come have fun with us.

  • What do you all individually think you bring to the table?

    • Alexandria: I think in my guitar playing, I never learned anything, but I did learn how to use my ear. I was very influenced by people like John Mayer, but hopefully I can have my own spin on that. I think I’m coming from a different perspective because I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know the rules. It’s all very honest. That’s all our stories. We were never taught what was right or wrong, and we had a lot of space to be our own person. We don’t know how to be normal, and we were never taught the rules so we break them by accident.

    • Jasmine: I think since I am the only one not a sibling, I bring a different outlook on life because I was raised differently. Even the way we form songs can be different.

    • Darius: I am the only dude. Yeah, that’s my answer.

  • What do you think is in store for The New Respects?

    • Alexandria: It’s crazy because we are here at Hangout to play, not just chill. It’s beyond anything we expected. We are so early in our career so anything could be ahead of us.

    • Alexis: For sure an album will be coming out soon. We are writing for that. And we will be opening for Fitz and The Tantrums on tour soon.

  • From what I have read, you all like to present yourselves as very approachable and fun. How do you all maintain such a positive attitude and outlook?

    • Darius: I honestly feel like that is just our demeanor. We don’t put on a show. We just like to meet new people and to do that, you have to be that kind of person.

  • As a last piece of advice, what advice do you have for young people trying to maintain a strong spirit in their process of creation and work?

    • Jasmine: Don’t give up. Work hard. Dream big.

    • Alexandria: Be sure you can do it. People in our community will tell us we can do it even when we think we can’t. We always compared ourselves to the greats. Like Coldplay. But then we realize, like, yeah, their stories are way longer than ours. Stay positive and keep good people around you.

    • Alexis: Have fun.

    • Alexandria: Yeah, we are best friends. We have fun. Whether it is music or going out and getting coffee, stay in a positive environment.

    • Darius: As hard as it is, don’t compare yourself to others. With social media, it is easy because we have the world at our fingertips. As much as you can, don’t do it. You’ll end up mimicking someone else. We need more 100% people and less copies.

    • Alexis: We went to a concert one time and we said, “Okay, we aren’t going to compare and be discouraged. We will be inspired.” We are inspired by great musicians, not discouraged.

Talk Tuesday / Michaela Parks / First Concert

 Hey, everyone, my name is Michaela and I am a writer for MNSTRM, and I’m going to be talking about a very important event that happened in my life, I'm going to be discussing my first ever concert, which was the 2015 Warped Tour. I remember the excitement I had felt when my mom had told me she had gotten tickets for me and my friend Livi to go. I was so excited.  I was tossing and turning until 3:00 A.M, and we had to wake up at 5:00 to get ready, at 5:00 my alarm woke me up with it blaring ‘King For A Day.’ by Pierce The Veil. I quickly jumped out of bed and ran to my dresser and put on the outfit I had gotten the night before it was 6:10 when we left the house to pick up my friend Livi and her mom, once we picked up my friend we were finally on our way to Warped Tour. 

We finally got into the venue we quickly grabbed a map and a time schedule of the bands that were to play that day we looked at the list: ‘Pierce the Veil’ 11:30 ‘Black Veil Brides’ 4:30  ‘Set It Off’ 5:30.Those were the three main ones that Livi and I were wanting to see that day. While we were waiting for 11:30 to see Pierce the Veil we went to hang out at the main stage to see a band already playing we looked at the schedule to see that a band called ‘New Year's Day’ was playing my mom looked at Livi and I and said “Back in my day that was called kiss.” which cause a few people to laugh at her comment. After the song they were previously singing and the lead singer of the band (which I later found out was named Ashley) said they were going to play a song called ‘Kill or be Killed.’ my mom immediately grabbed her phone and looked up the lyrics to the song and started to sing along with the band, me being a 16-year-old girl I was absolutely mortified at what she was doing. After New Year’s Day finished Livi and I started walking around the venue I saw a Pierce the Veil merch stand and I ran for it.  I looked at the merch in front of me my eyes came across a light blue tank top with a slice of pizza with the band's name on it. Lets just say it was worth the $25 I spent.  

At the point it was 11:00 So Livi and I made our way to the Unicorn stage to wait for Pierce the Veil to play I forget what band played before them but I felt the joy and excitement I felt when they brought out Mike’s drumset.

I smile as the whole crowd around me started screaming “PIERCE THE VEIL, PIERCE THE VEIL!!” we continued soon the whole crowd went insane when Vic, Mike,  Jaime, and Tony’s backup. Words cannot describe my joy when I saw them on stage there music has helped me through so much, and here I was at Riverbend seeing them, live. The beginning tunes to Devin Zero started playing. The whole crowd went crazy and they finished their segment with nonother than King for a day which still to this day is one of my favorite songs to this day.

After Pierce The Veil finished We started to make our way to the main stage to go see ‘Black Veil Brides.’ once we got to the venue we were practically at the gate and Livi and I couldn't be more thrilled the crowd went crazy when they ran on stage they started their gig with one of my favorites ‘Fallen Angels.”

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Then they closed their gig with one of their well known song ‘Heart of Fire.’

Soon that amazing day had to come to an end I was so sad when it was over, but my mom had another surprise for me she had gotten me a Black Veil Brides shirt (I spent all my money on my Pierce The Veil shirt) I was so happy. I can confidently say that was the best day of my life and a day I will forever hold into my heart.  

Talk Tuesday / Samantha Bass / AOTY 2017

This year so far has been full of incredible music. Artists really have brought their A game to 2017. So far this year, I’ve called seven albums my album of the year, simply because they are so incredible. And the year isn’t even over yet! We’re only halfway there, but there are plenty of albums out to fill your top ten spots. You could even divide them by genre, that is how many incredible albums have been produced this year. Which are the ones that deserve it? Which highly anticipated album will fill a slot eventually?

Currently in my number one spot is The Maine’s Lovely, Little, Lonely. It was a very successful follow up to American Candy, an album that, personally, didn’t feel like it could be topped. All the tracks fill you with some sort of joy and you can seriously just jam out. It’s a feel good album from a feel good band.

Other contenders are Harry Styles’ self-titled, Drake’s More Life, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN, Cashmere Cat’s 9, Ed Sheeran’s Divide, You Me At Six’s Night People, Logic’s Everybody and Brighten’s self-titled. Clearly, they can’t all be number one, but maybe that can change once the year ends.

Albums that have potential to sit at the top seem to be Royal Blood’s How Did We Get So Dark?, Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, Alt-J’s Relaxer, Wage War’s Deadweight, PVRIS’ All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, Lorde’s Melodrama, and The White Noise’s AM/PM.

There’s clearly a lot of great potential this year, and a lot of incredible music already out. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes out on top.

Talk Tuesday / Elias Mohr / Pay To Play - Exploit or Necessity?

It’s ten o’clock in the evening, and you’ve just arrived outside the club you contacted earlier in the week about booking a gig. Yourself, and your fellow bandmates emerge from your car. Perhaps not a car, maybe your drummers’ shitty van. Everyone proceeds to extract his or her instrument from the cargo hold, with the upmost caution of a young mother gracefully scooping her infant into her arms. You with your $1,200 Fender Telecaster, your equally valuable Fender tube amp, and the $400 worth of effects pedals you must lug around to execute your art properly. Your drummer, with his $5,000 kit, your bassist with her equipment equal in value to your own, and your singer, with his… well, his “precious and powerful pipes.”

You all walk briskly against the wind, hands clamming with cold sweat, adrenaline pumping through your system, mind in gear with intent of setting up your equipment and putting on the best show of your thus far short career as professional musicians. Your lead singer enters the club first, and as the front man of the band has assumingly taken on the role as temporary manger, if you will. The club is smoky, shrieks and shrills attack your eardrums as you fervently set up and prepare for a routine sound check. Several moments have passed without the usual triumphant return of your singer. Concerned, you make your way around a corner into a dimly lit back office, where stands your now furious lead singer and presumably the clubs’ owner. “600 for a half-hour set?! You’re fucking joking! Your sound guy, who set us up with you, said it was on 300!” states your lead singer, veins bulging from his neck, eyes red with anger, nearly protruding from his sockets from strain. “What can I tell you? Miscommunication’s all it was.” replies the owner, with a disturbingly calm demeanor, situation considered. “You can hand me $600, or you can walk out the door. I’ve got two other sets that payed. I’m covered regardless, bud.”

An extremely unsettling course of events, wouldn’t you say? Now, although that situation emerged from the top of my head, thousands of bands have experienced nearly identical situations. Is it just for a nurse or doctor to pay a hospital daily simply because they perform their practice in the building? What about a teacher or lawyer facing the same situation? After all, they’re all respective professions. I, for one, find the concept of pay to play mostly outrageous. However, with my intuition (and Google) guiding me through intrepid research, I’ve discovered a few just situations. An answer to the question: “Why pay to play?”

Let us first consider why no one should pay to play, or rather what situations where paying to play is definitively exploitation. If you as an artist are asked to pay an outrageous fee to a venue to perform even a half hour set, consider what type of venue you’re playing in. Is it a club, a bar, a nationally recognized venue? Generally, if a venue asks for payment for exposure… you’re not getting exposure, my friend, you’re getting played yourself. If a venue cannot profit off simply having you play, or at minimum cover their expenses for the extra seating, food, alcohol, etc., being purchased that day, they’re not worth the little money in your possession. And it’s not necessarily just about exploitation, it’s just as much about a venue undervaluing your profession. Lessons and equipment are expensive, and to add more unnecessary fees to your expenses should simply never be considered in such a situation.

However, let us say, hypothetically, a hot club, bar, or theater had some openings for bands willing to cough up the money. Will you or your band profit overall? Is this fee worth the amount of exposure you’ll receive? If the positives of the risk outweigh the negatives, I’d risk it for the biscuit. Who knows? A band could pivot off this/these shows successfully and reach heights they’d never imagine! I guess it all depends on your situation. Is pay to play a necessary part of growth as a band/artist or is it exploitation all around? You decide!

Elias Mohr


 

Talk Tuesday / Elizabeth Stafford / Lose Yourself

In my freshman year of high school, I attended my very first general admission club show. It was me and a handful of my friends with our moms who so graciously agreed to driving us. While we screamed up front, they sat in the back and probably rolled their eyes at our desperate cries. The band was Allstar Weekend, and I knew all their songs. Most of the girls who I met up with only went because they thought the guys were hot and it was the “cool” thing to do that weekend, but what mattered was being there. I remember grabbing pictures with them before the show and melting over them signing my shirt. It was that night live concerts became my home.

Over the next few years, my mom regretted taking me to Allstar Weekend because I became obsessed with live music. I was constantly searching for new shows and begging her to take me. My mom was a real rockstar and drove me constantly to shows and paid for tickets. My dad didn’t approve of the concert lifestyle so I was only able to go to shows that landed on my mom’s weekends. My parents fought all the time about the morality of taking a fifteen-year-old to a concert in a bar. In the next few years up to now though, I have attended probably over 70 shows and 8 festivals. Once I got into college and photography, I started shooting shows so many of those shows I have also photographed. To my friends, I am “the girl always going to concerts”.

As you can see, live music is a huge part of my life. Concerts and the press pit are my home. But it isn’t for the hot guys, attractive lead singers, or the bars. It is for the freedom I find within it all. Ever since my parent’s divorce and dad’s remarriage to a woman I will never get along with, music has been my backbone. I never went anywhere without my iPod. My parents were always getting onto me for having headphones in, but they slowly understood I listened to music for comfort. It drowned out the screaming in the house and separated me from the world I begged to escape from. When I stayed in a mental ward because of my cutting addiction, I would sit and sing songs I loved. It got me through. Sometimes I felt like the only things that understood me were the songs I listened to and the bands I loved.

When I am surrounded by a few hundred people and loud music, every concern I have in the world seems to slip away. When I am being shoved around to a heavy song, I find my heart racing with adrenaline I crave. I love nothing more than a rowdy, sweaty show. I’m addicted to throwing myself in a press pit and giving my all to get the best shots in three songs. Shows are homes for people. The music scene is a support. You find the best parts of yourself and the best parts of life in concert halls. The chaos of it all is the most beautiful part. Go to a show and lose yourself if you never have. It’ll change your life.

Elizabeth Stafford