Category Archives: Up & Coming Artists

YORK gears up for gig at Hard Rock Café

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Hailing from North Attleboro, Mass., pop-rock band YORK is gearing up for their show at the Hard Rock Café in Boston. They will be taking the stage at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14th, at the prestigious live music venue.

“It’s very exciting, especially hearing that a lot of local bands don’t get to play there,” said guitarist Mikey Taub. “To be presented with the opportunity is a feeling I can’t describe.”

Drummer Erick Cifuentes, who recently joined the band after a member departed, said he’s thrilled to be playing the Hard Rock Café. He said he’s pleased by how fast things are moving along for the band.

“When we first practiced, I told them that I wanted to make this my living because I live to play drums,” he said. “I am very fortunate on how fast things are moving and very excited to experience every step along the way with each member.”

Keyboard player Emily Rickard shares vocal duties with bassist Dan Pawlowski. She believes having two voices in the band, one female and the other male, creates a “good flow” in their music.

“A lot of our songs are based on love, friendship, and romance, so I think it helps tell a story better with a male and female vocalist,” she said. “Personally, hearing one person’s voice kind of gets annoying after a while. Switching it up gives people a break from one voice and it gives the other singer a chance to get their voice out there.”

Pawlowski agreed and said he has noticed a lot of bands are now breaking out on the music scene with multiple singers, often of the opposite sex. YORK works at balancing the vocal parts between the two of them.

“It’s kind of hard sometimes to both sing the same song equally, but it always works out,” Pawlowski said.

Guitarist John Shay said they “try to bring a nineties feel” to their songs. As is the case with most bands, they compose most of their music acoustically.

“One person usually writes the lyrics and starts us off,” Shay said. “Then, we’ll come up with a melody, verse, and chorus. We make sure the whole band is involved.”

Taub described them as a “band based on melodies.” He believes this helps draws crowds to their shows.

“When somebody hears a pretty melody that’s catchy, they stick around and they want to hear more,” said Taub. “Our originality is important to us.”

YORK often gets compared to Paramore, which they said they don’t agree with. Rickard thinks it’s only because Paramore vocalist, Hayley Williams, is one of the most popular female singers right now.

“When someone hears a female vocalist they automatically think of Paramore and I don’t think that’s okay,” she said. “It’s a totally different style of music than ours.”

YORK solely performs their own material as opposed to what other artists already have done.

“We want to be the band that people want to cover,” Pawlowski said. “It’s rewarding to show our songs to people and see them become part of it.”

Their first single, “Let Me In,” has been getting radio airplay on 94.1 WHJY’s Soundcheck, hosted by Jim Stearns. It’s also being played on 95.5 WBRU.

“It’s a big step for us,” Rickard said. “We’ve never been on a radio station before.”

While some members didn’t hear their song being played on either station, Taub was fortunate to tune into 95.5 at the right time. He said hearing “Let Me In” on air was “unbelievable.”

“I heard us for the first time on 95.5 last week and it was the most exciting feeling,” Taub said. “We were played at a regular time right after Nirvana. We hope people say, ‘hey, what’s this new music? I’ve never heard this before.’ I think it’s fantastic that we are reaching out to more people.”

This spring, YORK will be releasing their first full-length album since they have all been in the band. For the past year, they have been writing and recording new material.

“We have two new songs that we are going to bring to the studio in early February,” Pawlowski said. “They are a lot different from our other songs. There are going to be songs that me and (Rickard) will be singing on our own. These are the best of all of our songs because we really show our capabilities in them.”

For now, the band is excited about the opportunities coming their way, and they are confident their gig at the Hard Rock Café will be a success.

“We’re hoping for a big turn out,” Shay said. “We just want to have a good show.”

Other acts on the bill include 25 Pearl, Evey’s Late Night Dinner, and Project Blue Book.

Tickets for the show are $10 each. To purchase them, please contact any band member at thisisyorkmusic@gmail.com or Katie Botelho, of JKB Management and Booking, at jkbbooking@gmail.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Photo by Kristen Pierson

Ken Macy does it all

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Inspired by artists like Tom Petty and Creedence Clearwater Revival, Worcester musician Ken Macy recently released, “Goin’ California,” a nine-track album on which he plays every instrument excluding drums. He spent a few months writing the material and another four and a half months recording.

 “The whole idea of the record has to do with California based artists,” said Macy. “I was really intrigued with that sound. The song itself is about stardom and how somebody wasn’t very honest with themselves and everything sort of came back to bite him. I kind of ran with that idea for the rest of the record. It was kind of my ode to them.”

Macy, who is currently doing acoustic shows to promote the album, said he feels as if it’s his most complete to date. He handles vocals, guitars, bass, harmonica, some percussion, and tambourine. Kevin Haverty plays drums on the record.

 “He has a fantastic ear and he is also a songwriter, as well,” said Macy. “He helped produce a couple of tracks and is part of the overall sound. The songs range from all different styles, from rock, to country, to blues. I really like the title track a lot. ‘Season Girl’ has nice harmonies, and ‘Quiet Storm’ has a nice feel to it. Those are my three favorites.”

As he writes, Macy said he often comes up with a guitar line or a chord progression first. Other times, he focuses on lyrics.

“Sometimes I come up with both,” he said. “Then, the songs sort of develop themselves. I just play what I feel and what feels comfortable to me. That’s the stuff that comes out on the record. It’s all natural; there’s no auto tuning. What you hear is what you get. It’s very honest and true.”

Macy began playing guitar when he was thirteen. He started off teaching himself, and was trained musically for four years.

“Guitar was my primary instrument,” he said. “I did a lot of session work and side work with bands and eventually started doing his own songs.”

As time passed, he developed his voice. With each show he performed, the better he became.

“The more you do something the more you understand it,” Macy said.

Macy is a four-time Worcester Music Award winner. He said winning was great, but even just being nominated was “excellent.”

“It let’s me know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with music,” he said. “I really appreciate it.”

Right now, he is looking forward to putting a full band together to tour. He hopes to begin touring by spring or summer of next year to promote, “Goin’ California.”

“I appreciate the great responsces I’ve gotten from fans about the album,” Macy said.

“I’ve really been thankful for everything I’ve had thus far.”

In his spare time, Macy enjoys watching baseball and hockey. He also likes the beach and photography.

“I love taking pictures of people and landscapes,” he said. “I was born on Valentine’s Day, too Even if I’m single, I still get presents. It’s great.”

To find out more about Macy, check him out on kenmacymusic.com. His music is available on iTunes and cdbaby.com. Friend him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=722617130 and on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/kenmacy.

Structure Fails hopes to be “a force to be reckoned with”

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

Last month, the four members of Structure Fails, a hardcore heavy metal band based out of Quincy, Mass., released their seven-track EP, “As the Burning Skies Come Crashing.”

“I really like the song, ‘Kraken’ because it’s the most chaotic song we play,” said the band’s drummer Eric DiPietro. “Everyone goes crazy when we play it.”

Before they formed Structure Fails over a year ago, DiPietro originally began playing in a different band with guitarist, Chris Couture. Couture said his personal favorite song to play live with Structure Fails is “Let Them Be Nameless.”

“We actually just recorded a video for it about a month ago,” said Couture. “We are just waiting for it to be edited and mastered.”

Bassist Michael Correia agreed that “Nameless,” as the band also calls it, is a great song to play live and thinks they ultimately chose to make this particular track a video because it’s their “most user friendly song.”

“It reveals all the elements of the band,” Correia said. “It showcases our abilities as musicians, too.”

But, vocalist, Joseph “8 Ball” Izayea, said the title track really shows off their skill and talent.

“I think my favorite song on the new record is, ‘As the Burning Skies Come Crashing,’” said Izayea. “There are a lot of really cool melodic harmonies and different time signatures on that song. It was probably my least favorite song to have to write and record, though.”

They said Rob Gil at Human Machine Audio in Providence, R.I., mixed the self-produced the album and their friend, Christopher Robinson, designed the layout of the CD.

“Gil helped us out a lot,” said Izayea. “He really nurtured and supported us.”

When they originally wrote and recorded the album, they had a second guitarist, Derek Sampson, in the band. Currently, they are on the prowl for a new second guitarist.

“We are looking for someone who can help us create what we are trying to portray to our fans,” said Couture. “We need someone to help us paint this picture and who wants it just as bad as we do.”

“We’re looking for someone who is just going to get up there and kill it the way we do,” agreed Izayea. “We want to find someone to complete our roster.”

The band said they meet twice a week for practice and they are pretty persistent about it.

“We are a group of solid musicians and finding dedicated musicians is kind of hard to do these days,” Couture said.

They also said they enjoy the time they have to rehearse because they get the chance to talk about some of their biggest influences as musicians.

“We all bring our respective tastes to the table,” said Izayea. “We all come from different walks of life in terms of what we listen to. We try to put something in there that will please everyone who listens. I draw from a lot of different cookie jars, but I like a lot of deathcore bands.”

“I didn’t listen to hardcore before I played with these guys,” said Couture. “I mostly listened to Metallica, Testament, and Pantera.”

For DiPietro, he said he just tries to stay up to date with new bands.

“I’m sort of like a revolving door when it comes to music,” said DiPietro. “I have my favorite bands, but I pretty much keep up with current stuff.”

DiPietro also said they have performed covers such as ‘No One Like You’ by the Scorpions in the past, but they don’t plan on doing covers unless they are at a special event.

“We don’t really have any cover songs we keep in rotation,” DiPietro said. “But, for Halloween, we have dressed up and played the song from Ghostbusters.”

In fact, Structure Fails will be playing on Halloween night at Tammany Hall in Worcester.

“We’re playing with Scarlitt and it’s going to be their last show ever so it’s going to be huge,” Couture said. “We will have cash prizes for both male and female costumes. I think we are all dressing up that night.”

But, they wouldn’t reveal what they plan on being this year.

“It’s a secret,” said Correia. “We don’t want to ruin the surprise. You’ll have to wait and see.”

A few months later on December 4th, they have another gig lined up at the Beach House in Portsmouth with Thy Will Be Done and Scarecrow Hill.

“We are doing support for Scarecrow Hill,” said Izayea. “We think it’s going to be a show to remember.”

Until then, they are going to be writing and searching for a second guitarist.

“We are going to be working on new music and getting a lot of new stuff out there,” Couture said. “It’s all good stuff from here. We’re all looking at the same goal and we are I feel like we are all looking at the same target.”

Izayea said he isn’t sure what the future holds, but he is optimistic about it.

“We’re just going to keep writing music and doing our thing,” he said. “We will do our best to stay heavy and fresh and keep up with the times. We want to do everything in our power to make sure we are a force to be reckoned with, at least in the Northeast.”

Age of Evil: A band of brothers

This story originally appeared as an online exclusive in the spring of 2010.

By JESSICA A. BOTELHO

For the members of Age of Evil, heavy metal has always been a huge part of life. Made up of two sets of young brothers who grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, the boys have been thrashing out and thriving as a band for the last decade and not one of them is old enough to drink legally.

“The four of us started playing together about 10 years ago,” said 19 year-old lead singer and guitarist, Jeremy Goldberg. “We used to play a lot of covers and then in 2005 and 2006, we started performing a lot of our own music.”

Goldberg’s brother Jacob is 18 and plays bass, while Jordan Ziff, also 18, takes on lead guitar duties. Drummer Garrett Ziff is the oldest at 20.

“I guess in today’s standard we’re considered young, but I don’t really think our age is that big of a deal,” said Goldberg.

He thinks it’s particularly bizarre their ages have caused such a stir in the media because a lot of bands he grew up listening to had been in their late teens and early twenties when they first formed their groups.

“It doesn’t bother me, but it is a little weird if you think about it. Look at Tommy Lee in Motley Crue or Dimebag Darrell in Pantera. They were about our age when they came out. It’s more about the music, playing a show, and having control over an audience,” said Goldberg.

He said he loves being the front man and the more he performs, the more he learns about his audiences.

“It’s different in Europe than it is in the United States in the sense that the people there just watch and listen, where kids in the U.S. go nuts and do mosh pits and stuff like that,” he said. “Fans in Europe just live and breathe metal. They go to shows during all days of the week.”

While the band was shredding their way through Europe this past summer, they recorded their sophomore album, “Get Dead,” in between tour dates. The six-song disc includes two new songs, two live tracks, and two covers, one that was inspired during a show.

“We played in London almost a year and a half ago with Girl School and we wanted to play a classic, traditional metal song the fans would appreciate, so we went with ‘Electric Eye.’ It’s not one of Judas Priest’s huge, super popular songs, but that’s kind of why we did it,” said Goldberg.

The second song they covered was a last minute decision made in the studio.

“We had no idea what we were going to do, but we knew we wanted to do another cover,” he said. “Our drummer suggested, Skid Row’s ‘Slave To the Grind.’”

Goldberg took out his cell phone, listened to the song, and ended up learning it by ear. Within a few hours, they began recording it.

“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “Sometimes some of the things you don’t think are going to work end up being pretty bad a**. We also recorded parts of ‘Still of the Night’ by Whitesnake, but we didn’t have time to finish it.”

Another song that didn’t make the cut for “Get Dead,” was an Ace of Bass song, “Beautiful Life.” It was featured in the comedy film, “A Night at the Roxbury.”

“It’s a pop song you wouldn’t think we would cover, but we put our own spin on it and it turned out really cool,” said Goldberg. “We hope we can release that soon.”

In addition to the covers and the new songs, Goldberg said it was important for them to incorporate live recordings on the album because they wanted to show their fans they can play just as well live as they can in the studio.

“We don’t want to rely on technology because then playing live isn’t as good. We want to do it ourselves,” he said. “If you can’t be a great live band there’s almost no point in playing. That’s what we’re all about.”

Age of Evil was recently able to display their talent as a live act when they opened for Hail!, a new touring band made up of some of heavy metal’s most highly respected contributors to the genre, including Andreas Kisser of Sepultura, Tim “Ripper” Owens of Judas Priest, David Ellefson of Megadeth, and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater.

“It was a blast to open for them in New York at BB Kings (and at Showcase Live in Foxboro, Mass.),” said Goldberg. “We got to hang out with the members of the band before and after the shows and they are very down to earth, humble guys. We went up on stage with a ton of energy and I really couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

They also opened for several bands over the last year including Jon Oliva’s Pain, Soulfly, Manowar, W.A.S.P., and Arch Enemy. Goldberg said they even got the chance to open for Tesla while they were in Switzerland this past summer.

“It’s cool because we can play with those different bands and mix it up,” he said. “For me, Tesla was one of my favorite shows on the tour. You can find a few videos of that performance on YouTube. The last song we did was ‘Still of the Night’ and it was before we really had it down and we just had fun with it.”

Right now, Goldberg said they want to focus on touring more in the U.S. and Canada. They are currently beginning the recording process of their next full-length album.

“We already have most of the material written and we’re working hard on doing demos,” he said. “We’ve been meeting with producers and trying to figure out that end of it.”

He said it’s more like their first album, 2007s, “Living A Sick Dream,” and less like their newest release, “Get Dead,” because it’s not as heavy and hardcore.

“It’s still hard rock and roll with a metal edge, but there will be something for everyone on there and we’re excited about it,” her said. “We want to have our new music in peoples’ hands, so definitely keep an eye out for it.”

Until then, he is pleased with the attention “Get Dead” has been receiving.

“I went on iTunes one morning and our new EP was featured on there,” he said. “It was up for four weeks in a row. It’s cool to see that and it’s awesome to get that recognition.”

Sand men: Zox has matured into a great band

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Limelight Magazine.

By GEORGE AUSTIN

Through their three CDs, you can see the growth of the band ZOX. When they wrote the college rock and reggae songs for their first CD, they were in their late teens. They were in their early 20s when they produced the second album three years later and they had their own producer and used a better quality studio. But with their most recent CD, called “Line in the Sand,” ZOX took their recorded music to another level. The band enlisted the help of John Goodmanson, a recording engineer and indie rock producer who has worked with the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, Harvey Danger and Hanson. Instead of just recording songs for the CD as the band has done in the past, ZOX made demo tapes of the songs first, listened to them and then honed their work into a finished product they were satisfied with.

“The album reflects our band members’ tastes more,” drummer John Zox said. “It’s darker. We were just more experienced as musicians and as people in life. I think that is reflected in the music.”

Zox said the members of the band also had become better musicians since their second album. “Line in the Sand” was produced on the same label as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in February. The band pre-ordered 1,000 copies of the CD and did a press and radio campaign to promote it.

“We’re really proud of it,” Zox said of the album. “We think it’s the most mature album out of our three albums. I think people recognize that also.”

Songs from the album that have been chosen for airplay have included “Goodnight” and the title track. “Line in the Sand” is an upbeat rock song that the band has made a video of with a guy dancing as he is walking down a sidewalk after buying the “ZOX mouse” in a pet store. The members of the band are seen inside what looks like a pet box that the mice would be in playing their instruments during the video.

“If you read the lyrics, it’s pretty self explanatory,” Zox said of the meaning of the song. “It’s realizing who you are or what you believe in and fighting for it.”

“Goodnight” is more of an acoustic sounding song. It won third place in a national songwriting competition that had 15,000 submissions and was judged by Tom Waits, Robert Smith of The Cure, Frank Black of The Pixies and producer Steve Lillywhite who has worked with U2, Talking Heads, Dave Matthews and The Rolling Stones.

“It’s not traditional Zox stuff, but it’s still in the vane of what people like about us,” Zox said.

“Line in the Sand” charted 48th on Billboard Current Independent Albums during the first week it was released and has been played on alternative radio in Seattle and Columbus, Ohio.

Zox said the band has a traditional song and music writing process. Singer Eli Miller writes the lyrics and a skeleton section of the song on acoustic guitar and then the other three members of ZOX create the musical arrangements. They then take the verses and chords and turn them into a complete song.

Zox met Miller in college at Brown University in Providence, R.I. Miller was playing guitar and needed a drummer for a band. They started playing at fraternities and at the campus bar. They added Zox’s roomate who was a first chair violinist in the Brown orchestra. But the violinist graduated and got a job and so they put an advertisement in a paper for a violinist. That’s when violinist Spencer Swain, who had transferred to the University of Rhode Island, joined ZOX. A friend of the band, Dan Edinberg, joined as bass guitarist.

Swain adds a different twist to the music of ZOX. A lot of bands use the violin for support music. But with ZOX, the violin is an integral part of the music and Zox says Swain is a different kind of violin player. You won’t see too many violin players on stage in orchestras with a lot of tattoos, as Swain has. Swain also does not play the violin fiddle style. Zox said it is more of a rock style and on the third album, he used a lot of pedals with the violin.

“The violin is treated as the lead,” Zox said of the use of the instrument in the band. “He doesn’t treat it as a violin in many ways. He treats it like a guitar.”

The members of ZOX have a wide range of influences. Miller likes Paul Simon. Zox is interested in electronic music. Swain listens to a lot of heavy metal. Edinberg is in to jazz. Zox said the different influences allows the band to cross genres in its appeal to people.

Zox, who was an engineering and sociology major at an Ivy League school, said the best part of the band is that the members are their own bosses, get to see the country, playing their music for a living and are able to do something creative for a job. The band signed with record label Side One Dummy of Los Angeles 2 1/2 years ago, but Zox said the band has maintained creative control.

ZOX is not like the band that appears on the stage when their show starts and disappears afterwards. Zox said the band members like to talk to their fans before and after their shows and have made friends that way.

“I think we’ve done over a thousand shows in the last five years,” Zox said. “Our fans are very fervent and devoted.”

And when ZOX is not working together, the members of the band are all involved in some other music. Edinberg, who was a musicology major at Brown, writes music and commercials and is in a couple other bands. Swain, who was a music major at URI, is in a couple other bands.

ZOX recently completed seven months of touring. Locally, ZOX has played at venues, like Lupo’s in Providence, R.I., the Paradise in Boston and the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass. The band has toured with punk band Streetlight Manifesto and singer/songwriter Matt White and has headlined some of its own shows to promote the new CD.

“It’s been a good run off this album so far,” Zox said.

ZOX also recently toured Europe, playing in Germany and Switzerland. Zox said it was an honor to play at the Reading and Lee festivals in England. Zox said he sees a lot of differences in the way music is treated in Europe. He said the venues have better sound and lighting systems and said the musicians are treated better by the people who run the venues. He said people in the United States go to one or two big concerts a year, and not as much to smaller venues to see shows.

“Going to music events is more ingrained in their culture,” Zox said of the Europeans. “There’s more venues. There’s more appreciation for the arts, overall. I think that’s in their blood. They pay more money for tickets. The experience of live music is appreciated more.”

Zox said the band is taking the fall off and looking at the possibility of touring next spring. He said the band will probably release an EP with a couple of new songs.

The fans of Zox also have been maturing over the years. When the band started out, most of the audience was high school and college-aged people. They still have people in that age range at the concerts, but they also see older people who have stuck with the band.

“That’s good because our albums have grown and matured with us,” Zox said.