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Shy Boyz: “We Want to Take People on Emotional Journeys.”

June 30, 2017
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The debut album from Philly’s eclectic, genre-blending crew Shy Boyz drops today, so we caught up with King SoloMon and Airyon Love from the band.

On one hand, this album sounds like you are messing with us. On the other, this sounds really groovy. Are you guys for real?

King SoloMon: I have no choice but to find a way to make the Shy Boyz successful because otherwise I’m dead inside and might as well kill myself. So to answer your question, yes we are deadly seriously about what we do.

Airyon Love: The album is available on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, etc. It doesn’t get more real than that.

Is there a theme for the album?

Airyon Love: Not consciously but there are several songs about children, sex and food. That’s kind of referenced in the album title because some people eat horses. It’s called 2 Horses (and 2 Naked Boys).

King SoloMon: Over ten years ago we discovered a mysterious painting in the trash near the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia. We used this painting as the cover for our album. It inspired the title track, “2 Horses (And 2 Naked Boys).”

We utilized some poetic license, because the painting only actually shows one naked boy. But we did start a postering campaign around the city to try to identify the actual artist who created the piece. If anyone reading this has any leads let us know. They can hit us up at shyboyzmuzik@gmail.com.

In the song “Small Meatball,” is the meatball a metaphor?

King SoloMon: No, we don’t deal in metaphors. We are always completely direct and literal in everything we do. The audience can read whatever they like into the lyrics, although we don’t appreciate that. We want our audience to take everything at face value. The song is kind of about what everyone fantasizes about doing with meatballs but either because of guilt or hunger they don’t go through with it.

Airyon Love: So there’s lines like “Small meatball, throw it at the wall” and “Small meatball, roll it down the hall.” We did want to reference some of our Philly Soul heroes in the song, which we did with the line “if you drop those balls on Rawls I’ll pull out my Voodoo dolls” in reference to the late great Lou Rawls.

How do you describe your sound?

King SoloMon: Bloop, bleep and blop.

We generally try to do songs/tunes with slick vocals and farty sounding guitars.

Each of the ten tracks has a very different sound. What’s happening here?

Airyon Love: Variety is the spice of life. We are strong believers in the buffet mentality … quantity over quality, etc. So, of course we want to take people on emotional journeys, have them travel from light to dark, etc. It’s all done very consciously and it’s backed up by marketing research. For example, the hot tempo in Vegas right now is 154 BPM, so we tried to use that tempo for one of the songs. But also we wanted to mix it up with other tempos.

King SoloMon: “2 Horses (and 2 Naked Boys)” is in the key of Gm and has a tempo of 91 BPM.

“Small Meatball” is in the key of C and has a tempo of 105 BPM.

“My Silver Daddy” is in the key of F# and has a tempo of 140 BPM.

And the other songs have other tempos and keys too.

What would be the perfect date night for one of the Shy Boyz?

Airyon Love: Well we have lots of Boyz in the band…King SoloMon, Airyon Love, Coke Shoulderz, Jimi Moon, RamaDom, Chef Dolce Vino, our poet Brian and our Illuminati Lecturer Cyti Gui. So this is a loaded question.

King SoloMon: For me, a perfect date would start at the shooting range and end at Donna’s Bar in Port Richmond for karaoke.

Airyon Love: But ultimately our dating preferences are private. What’s important is that we want people taking THEIR dates to OUR shows.

We have a bit in our live act where we encourage couples to say, “I Don’t Love You” to each other. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s actually quite therapeutic.

One time a guy came up to us after a show and said, ‘I came here with my fiance. We have 2 kids together. It’s a done deal – we’re together forever and you gave me my one chance to say, ‘I don’t love you’ without any consequences.’ We’ve had both men and women tell us this, so we just want to make people happy.

If the world was about to end, what kind of stuff would you get into?

King SoloMon: If I was in Philly for the end of the world, I’d definitely make sure I was at Sugarhouse Casino.

Airyon Love: They say you should live life to the fullest…you’ll never win unless you try, etc. That’s why we decided to send our album to Lady Gaga. She recently purchased Frank Zappa’s former home in Laurel Canyon in LA. So we sent her the CD and asked her to perform a seance to reach Frank Zappa and have him give his response to the album from the afterlife.

She hasn’t responded yet.

The release show is in about five weeks, right? How should we mentally prepare?

King SoloMon: Ya, August 5th at PhilaMOCA. It’s gonna be a banger. We ran into Bunny Sigler (the Philly Soul icon) at Shady Maple Smorgasboard on New Year’s Day in Lancaster County (we actually wrote a song about the experience, which will be on our next album). We dreamed of inviting him to perform with us at our album release show but unfortunately he’s been sick so he won’t be able to attend but he will be sorely missed.

Airyon Love: That won’t prevent us from pulling out all the stops. There will be plenty of special guests, prizes, surprises, nudity, food, etc.

Milton: “I Just Work to Create an Experience for People to Relate to.”

June 21, 2017

We caught up with Milton, the genre-blending performer who was born in Italy, raised in DC, educated in Reading, PA and now calls Philly home. 

He’s opening for Jakubi at Boot & Saddle on Friday.

What’s up, Milton? Where’d you come from?

Nothing much, enjoying my chance at life.

I came from where everybody comes from – nowhere.

Initially I met Dan (Emmons, his manager), who introduced me to Rob Devious, who produced Simple Pleasures. During that time, I was in the Philly at ANY show, open mic, anything music related or recording three or four days a week.

I lived in Reading, PA  for school, 1.5 hours away from Philly. Through consistency, being professional and having an appreciation for everyone we met, things just started to connect for us.

You were born in Italy? How’d you wind up in Philly?

My parents were in the military, so I’ve moved around a bit.

Maryland is where I’ve been for the most part though. I got to Philly through music. I was told this is were a singer needs to be, so I went to a college not too far out and eventually found my way into the scene.

Do you think all the bouncing around has helped influence your music?

Absolutely. I feel it’s made me open to new cultures and willing to incorporate that in my sound/creative experience.  “Slippin Dippin” is a prime example. It’s based off a situation I experienced in my more diverse travels.  There is also little southern stank on it in appreciation for were I learned that side of life from.

How do you describe your sound? It seems to have an appreciation for past R&B and current hip-hop, but also very futuristic.

I think that description was pretty spot on. I appreciate the soul that old R&B had, with melodic instrumentation and sultry vocals.

On the other hand, I appreciate the energy and rawness in current hip hop.

All in all, I just work to create an experience for people to relate to, making music that lets them know there not the only one.

Does that genre-blending make it difficult to succeed in Philadelphia?

No, it allows me to be received by almost anyone. I feel I have something in my catalog for everybody and if you don’t like a song, you at least appreciate it.

What do you have coming up in the near future? Releases? Big shows?

A show at Boot and Saddle Friday June 23rd, a 45-min set as local support for Jakubi.

I’ll  also will be releasing new music through the summer with my new band Kontrolled Khaos and some solo work as well. I’ll be posting a lot about that.

What’s the experience of a Milton show? What should people expect at a live performance?

A live ass time (haha).

As a solo artist, I usually fit my show to the capabilities of the venue I am performing at.  The bigger the show, the bigger the band.

I am lucky enough to be accompanied on stage with some of the best musicians I have found from Maryland and Philly. The DMV will be represented by Footz on drums and Adam Lee on guitar (formerly of The Legendary Cloud 9). Philly will be in the building behind the keys and bass of Rob Deckhart, who people might know as Rob Devious, the producer for my album Simple Pleasures as well as some secret future releases.

When I hit the stage, I make it about the audience. It’s about bringing a experience, whether its with the visual, the sound, whatever. They leave  entertained.

Chon @ Union Transfer with Covet, Tera Melos and Little Tybee.

June 20, 2017

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Text and images by Rick Kauffman.

Chon released their newest LP, Homeyon Friday and celebrated with a a sold-out show at Union Transfer.

The stage was a tropical paradise of illuminated palm trees and pink-washed color, offering a fitting backdrop to the math rock quartet from San Diego. The band has evolved in short time from a heavy, post-hardcore instrumental group to a bright and shiny, jazz-influenced quartet that lays heavy on the grooves and oddly-timed polyrhythms with the drummer dropping tempos mid-measure.

They were supported by a stacked lineup of fellow math rockers in Covet, Tera Melos and Little Tybee.

Covet performed math-y, prog rock that drew hoots and hollers during the intricate and complex grooves. Yvette Young’s soft-sung vocals offered a wispy and ethereal texture to songs that reached a crescendo with slap-happy drum-and-bass grooves that were layered by tops taps and riffs and pitch harmonics.

Tera Melos began as a purely instrumental math rock group but they have adopted a more typical pop structure, with lead guitarist Nick Reinhart continuing his frenzied tapping of pedals between two boards and electronic machinery. At times, his guitar sounded like a dying robot; other times, it was like an electric saxophone. The flurry of slapping pedals, hopping back and forth from foot to foot while playing erratic and unconventional guitar licks elicited serious awe from a crowd that was baffled by his wizardry.

Little Tybee, from Atlanta, Georgia, featured an eclectic sextet of an eight-stringed guitar, electric bass, violin and viola and others, that has in the past utilized a massive arrangement of brass and woodwind instruments throughout their four albums. The openers featured a sound that continually expanded and expounded upon their particular brand of experimental, psychedelic indie rock.

Riley Breckenridge of Thrice: “With a Half Hour, You Can Just Go Balls Out.”

June 16, 2017

 

After a few years off, Thrice returned in 2016 with To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, the band’s first studio album since 2011’s Major/Minor. The band is hitting the road with Deftones and Rise Against, stopping at Festival Pier tomorrow.

We caught up with Thrice drummer Riley Breckenridge about how it feels a year out from their return, touring with old friends and what’s in the future for Thrice.

 I wanted to talk a little bit about the newest album. It’s been just about exactly a year. It’s a year tomorrow, right? [at the time of the interview]

Oh shit, I forgot! Yeah, I guess so!

So, now that a year’s passed from that first album after coming back from hiatus, how is everyone feeling?

I think we’re all really happy with how the record turned out, and how amazing the response has been. Not only with fans that have been with the band for a long time, but I feel like we’re getting a lot of new ears giving this record a chance.

I don’t know if that’s because of the hiatus or because we’re spreading the word about it better, or because it’s more accessible, or what the deal is, but there’s been a surprising number of people on social media and talking to people that are like, “Oh man, how did I not know that Thrice had a record?” or “How have I never listened to Thrice?” And it’s like, we’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, where have you been?

But it’s been really cool. We’re a little nervous about making a “comeback record,” and nervous that people maybe would have stopped caring during the hiatus, but it was a really good response and we’re stoked.

 

It did really well based on a few traditional metrics, like chart positions and reviews. Does that almost feel like a validation of sorts after that “comeback record?”

I’m not going to lie and say like, “Oh, well we don’t care about any of that stuff. Don’t care about album sales, don’t care about chart positions, don’t care about reviews or anything like that.” Because ultimately we make the music that we want to make and hope that people like it. But yeah, I guess it’s validating to a certain extent.

But I’m just happier, I guess, with the response in a live setting. People have been singing along to a lot of the new songs more enthusiastically and more often than they have in, I want to say, almost a decade if not more. And it was right out of the gate, too, which was crazy.

The songs have been going over well in a live setting. And I feel like, for us, that’s like the best kind of litmus test to see how a record is doing or how the band is doing in general.

So, you’re touring with Deftones, who also took a bit of time before their latest album. Is there any kind of kinship there, even though they didn’t officially announce any sort of hiatus?

Maybe more so for us, because we took an official hiatus. And for me, as a fan of the Deftones, I never felt like they really went away. I was just like, “Man, I could really use a new Deftones record.”

But we’re so excited to go out with them. We did Taste of Chaos with them in, like, 2004, and then did some Canadian dates with them. We just saw them in Belgium. We played a festival and they were there, and got to catch up with some of the guys. We’re just really excited to spend a month of the summer with those dudes and watch them every night.

Throw Rise Against in the mix, and we did a two-month headlining tour with them before. They’re really great guys and an awesome live band. I think it’s going to be a really solid bill, and a good show.

How did this tour set up come to be?

[Deftones and Rise Against] hit us up to see if we’d be into it. They had been talking about touring together for ages, and their record cycles weren’t really lining up. So now that they are lined up, they kind of jumped at the opportunity to tour together, and they reached out to us.

I don’t know if it’s because we have past history or they’re interested in the new record, but it worked out really good for us.

We’d done a lot of headlining shows for this record already, and we’re kind of looking to do something more in the support slot, so this really couldn’t have worked out better.


So, to backtrack a little, around when the new album came out, [vocalist] Dustin Kensrue had said there weren’t really concrete plans, but you guys were thinking about what’s next. About a year out now, are there any concrete plans for what’s next for Thrice?

Yeah. We are going to be touring in the fall. I can’t announce who with or where or what we’re doing. But after the Deftones thing, we’ll come home and decompress a little then head out in the fall.

We’ve already started sharing ideas for the next record, and started tinkering with those a little bit. I think we’re going to use some of the downtime on this Deftones/Rise Against tour to develop those ideas a little more and keep writing individually, and, yeah, hopefully have a new record out by maybe summer of next year. That’s the plan, anyway!

You guys have been around for, like you said, almost 20 years. You kind of have your own eras of development musically. Is there anything you guys are looking to try in the future that you haven’t toyed with at all before?

It’s hard to say. Even the rough ideas that we have now, there might be something that’s like a full idea that’s more mellow or moved to a different instrument. I think something we talk about with every record is really making the most of dynamics in the mix, so the lows are really low and the highs are really high. Just kind of building that juxtaposition between dynamic ranges, I guess. And that’s an ongoing quest and a never-ending quest, and so we’re going to keep working on that.

But, yeah, every time we make a record we talk about, “Oh let’s try this, let’s try this.” And then records become their own thing while you’re writing them, at least in our experience. The record and the parts that you’ve written will kind of tell you where you should take them.

We’ll see what happens. I’m excited that we’ve got some good ideas in the tank, so I’m excited to see how they develop.

For this specific tour, what do you think fans can look forward to the most?

It’s gonna be tough because I think we only have a half an hour to play a night, and we have, I think, like 115 songs or something to choose from. So we’re going to do the best job possible of playing some of the fan favorites, but then also kind of showcasing the new record—or new-ish record—a bit.

We’re not known for talking a lot on stage or being, like, overly flamboyant or anything, so you’re gonna get a pretty jam-packed 30 minute set of music. We’re just going to have a lot of fun. With a half hour, you can just go balls out. You don’t have to really worry about pacing or anything. It’s going to be a fun summer.

Shy Boyz: Actually Talented? Yes.

June 14, 2017

Text by Eric Fitzsimmons. Image by Charles Wrzesniewski.

Shy Boyz finish their set at Ortlieb’s and lead singer King SoloMon returns from the back room wearing only an adult diaper.

“I just have to clean some stuff on the stage,” King SoloMon says as fake blood rolls down his chin. “Then, can we talk in the bar?”

The Shy Boyz — which includes Coke Shoulderz on bass, guitarist Airyon Love, saxophonist RamaDom, Jimi Moon on drums, Chef Dulce Vino on keyboard and the group’s “poet laureate” Bryan, who sometimes performs as the dancing girl Anna — are a band known for bizarre live shows and music videos. They all hail from East Falls, a sleepy neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia that probably has little idea the sorts of mayhem its sons are committing in the name of music.

This may be why band members insist on going by stage names.

The group’s founding members, singer King SoloMon and Airyon Love, return to the bar still in diapers but also in scraps of their typically strange stage outfits as a small nod to decency and staying warm. Animal prints are a common feature of their costumes. So are bright colors and fake furs. Often, it’s a combination of the three. Tonight, Airyon Love wears what looks like the old Members Only jackets popular among suburban dads in the 1980s, except his jacket is hot pink.

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Love says Shy Boyz were always in the ether but if you have to put a date on it, they started playing under that name in 2014, showing up at local open mics and building a following. Open mic nights can be a tough way to break through in music but this band had an ability to make lasting impressions.

Vocalist Ali Wadsworth was working the bar at Fergie’s on one of these occasions when she first encountered Shy Boyz. She remembers that they seemed normal when they signed up, except for some off-beat fashion choices. But by the end of their performance, they had stripped down to diapers.

Wadsworth was hooked.

“I just thought it was just such a good performance,” Wadsworth says. “You end up seeing the same people week after week, playing the same songs, and a lot of them I really love. But the Shy Boyz blew my fucking mind.”

Of the five friends she invited to the bar that night, one other friend liked the band. The other four were annoyed that Wadsworth tagged them in the videos of the show she shared online.

Wadsworth got to know the band over time and is contributing background vocals on two tracks for the band’s upcoming debut album. She says their antics may have gotten her attention but it’s the music that keeps her coming back.

Despite the wild stage shows, the Shy Boyz bristle at the suggestion that they are poking fun at anyone or that they are anything less genuine in their music than sad breakup ballads.

“We like to have fun,” King SoloMon says. “It’s all about pure entertainment. We put some humor in our music. People always say, ‘Your show was amazing, and you guys were actually good.’”

“Why can’t you be good and funny at the same time?” Airyon Love asks. “Why is that like breaking the rule?”

Not that Shy Boyz seem to have a problem breaking rules. Their show culminates with “Big Boy,” as it has since the open mic days. It’s a boastful rap that repeats, “I’m a big boy,” and it could easily have stopped at casual mockery. But Shy Boyz throw themselves into the performance (this is the point in their show when they strip down). It’s silly and fun and completely unexpected even if you know it’s coming.

For Love, performing the song is freeing. It’s a license to break the rules in a way that would probably get you arrested any other time, as he realized during one performance.

“I was on the floor in a pizza shop in Doylestown for an open mic night, screaming at the top of my lungs,” Love recalls, “and in my mind I was thinking, ‘This is the happiest I’ve ever been.’”

Video Premiere: cranes are flying’s “”Don’t Wake Me Up.”

June 13, 2017

Robin Carine started the band cranes are flying in North Jersey nearly a decade ago. He moved to West Philly and his brother, Lucas Carine, followed. They picked up bass player George Cosgrove in 2015 and now, the band is preparing to drop their new EP, Code Switching, in August

We caught up with Robin and Lucas and talked about the new EP, as well as the video above that we are premiering today.

What brought you guys from North Jersey to Philly?

Robin: After the Jersey City-based, early incarnation of the band fell apart, I was living in Brooklyn and performing under the name cranes are flying as a solo act. Then I lost my job. Several of my high school friends lived in Philly and I was already somewhat enamored with the DIY music scene here. So I ended up moving to West Philly and connected with other musicians to work with immediately. George and I were roommates at a show house on Locust.

Lucas: I went to college in Chicago and moved back east shortly after. Crashing on my brother’s couch till I found a place was a much more attractive prospect than moving back in with my parents, and I think both Robin and I missed the musical chemistry we had kind of just discovered before going our separate ways.

How’s life in West Philly?

Robin: Summertime in West is the best. There was a block party on my street last weekend, everyone’s porch-hanging and there’s pretty much barbecues every day.

But there’s also a prominent, divisive local figure who recently passed away, which has prompted some unpleasant muck-slinging among different factions in the neighborhood. Plus this summer is seeing several of the active house venues shut down.

So, a lot of things that define West Philly for me are in flux right now and in some ways, I’m mourning what used to be. In some some ways, I’m excited for what may come next.

You seem especially excited about the new EP. But you’ve been making music for nearly a decade now, no?

Robin: Yes. I am proud of everything we’ve done up ’til now but this lineup and this material marks a turning point for us.

It’s who we’ve been as a live act for a couple years but this is the first recorded document of the incarnation. That, combined with the fact that it is the best quality recording/production we’ve managed to achieve, makes us especially excited to share this EP with people.

Lucas: I’m excited to share our first output since I stepped into this new role. For a long time I experienced Cranes as a fan, then as a drummer/backing vocalist. The whole time i was writing my own material, so I’m excited to have an outlet for that, but it also represents the next step toward Cranes becoming a fully collaborative effort rather than a frontman-oriented thing.

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Tell us about Code Switching.

Robin: Code Switching is the thing where speakers of multiple languages alternate between languages in conversation maybe because one language best articulates a point or maybe in order to appeal to the overall context in other ways.

One track on the EP is called “Polyglot,” which is a term for a speaker of multiple languages. As we began to navigate a version of this band in which both Lucas and I sing, write songs, and play guitar and drums, we began thinking of each other as musical polyglots. And, thinking of our approach to this band as one that could involve as much “code switching” as necessary.

Lucas: As far as the lyrical themes of the record, I think most of the songs deal with code switching as a form of miscommunication or misdirection. They’re about the ways in which people try and sometimes fail to communicate in relationships, or succeed in concealing their true intentions, by changing their vocabulary to fit the conversation.

What’s happening in the video for “Don’t Wake Me Up?”

Robin: The main character, played by Kit Collins, is experiencing some shocking changes to her initial take on the world around her. In a way her experience of these changes is a love letter to the West Philly house show scene.

Lucas: It’s kind of a ghost story, only with party ghosts!!!!

What do you guys have coming up in the near future?

Robin: We are celebrating the release of the next single, “the Patriarch,” by playing Boot and Saddle on July 15th, with rad local acts Decent and DANAFOX.

Then, in August, we will release Code Switching in full. We’re planning an awesome show celebrating that as well. We’re also touring around the region this summer, so like New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, etc. Many shows to be announced in the coming weeks.

Deadfellow: “I’m Mostly Unhappy. All Good Musicians are Unhappy. Always.”

June 6, 2017

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Deadfellow, the folky/indie rock project of Hayden Sammak, will celebrate the release of their album, Mescalifornia: A California Dream, on Friday with a show at Milkboy. The Classic Hunt will open.

We caught up with Hayden and, well, now we’re feeling a bit morose. Luckily, his music is rather soothing …

Who is Deadfellow and where did you come from?

I’m a 6’ 2” 25-year old white male who still manages to find something to complain about.

I came from Ambler.

How’d you get into music?

I got into music because I thought it would be a good way to make money.

 

What’s going on in the new album?

It’s about loving someone who’s pursuing the increasingly vague “California Dream,” which is now less about surf and sun, and more about talentless celebrity. Is it still hip to knock the Kardashians? Knock.

What inspires your lyrics? Like “She wears me,” from last year. It seems so personal, painful.

Personally, I’m in pain.

Your music seems so melancholy. But you have a giant dog, right? Doesn’t that beast just make you happy all the time?

No, I’m mostly unhappy. All good musicians are unhappy. Always.

What’s in the near future for Deadfellow?

The near future features the impending apocalypse, where some sort of bizarre symbolic interactionism with political hot-button issues dictates the fate of mankind. Spoiler alert: It won’t be good.

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