The Rise of the Awful Band Name

January 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

If you want to make it in the music industry these days, you’re gonna need a good band name.  Change your name, move to Canada, Brooklyn, the UK, Omaha, or the South immediately if you have any hopes of “making it.”  And by making it I mean being signed to Taang Records, and playing shows at Kungfu Necktie.

Look onward, you, with your great band name, playing at Kungfu Necktie soon!

Don’t focus on your sound focus on your name.  For example, the road to success is paved by band names that include animals, band names with the word “black” in them, band names that are nauseating, or band names that make absolutely no sense.

Animals.  Only band names using wolves, deer, horses, bears, and birds are acceptable at the moment.

There’s Wolf Eyes, Wolf Parade, Sea Wolf, Peter & The Wolf, Patrick Wolf, We Are Wolves, Turbo Wolf, and Wolf Mother.  There’s Deerhoof, Deer Tick, Deerhunter, Dear & The Headlights, The Deer Tracks, Reindeer Selection, and Elvis Perkins in Deerland.

There’s Horse Feathers, Night Horse, An Horse, Toy Horses, Drunk Horse, Sparklehorse, Band of Horses, Horse the Band, and New Young Pony Club.  There’s Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Bear In Heaven, Angry vs. The Bear, Bear vs. Shark, Panda & Angel, and Minus The Bear.  And there’s The Bird & The Bee, Birds of Tokyo, Birds of Whales, The Late Birds, Wallis Bird, Thunder Birds Are Now!, Bird Man, Bobby Birdman, and The Dodos.

Other notables include:  Fleet Foxes, Frightened Rabbit, Dr. Dog, Atomic Kitten, Dinosaur Jr., Lipstick Liontigers, Baby Lion Teeth, and my personal favorite, So Cow.

Please raise your hand now if you have heard of any of these bands.

Pissed Jeans...

Bands that use the word black are definitely on top of things, because it is always best to let your audience know that you will be singing about very dark subject matter.  Black Lips, Black Keys, Black Gold, Black Kids, Black Tide, Black Stone Cherry, Black Sheep, The Black Crows, Black Moth Super Rainbow…

Please if you are going to start a band, give it a name that makes your audience want to throw up at its utterance.  For instance: Pissed Jeans, Ringworm, Discharge, The Moldy Peaches, The Blow, Cattle Decapitation, and Cute Lepers.

Or, if you can’t think of your own name, please steal it from somewhere else: The Devil Wears Prada, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Love, She Wrote, Sinatrah, Drink Up Buttercup, or Titus Andronicus.

Let’s not forget all those talented DJs out there composing from their MacBooks; they have good names, too.  In the Philadelphia area alone there’s DJ Sammy Slice, DJ Frosty, DJ Deejay, and DJ F@#! Yeah.

We’ve even figured out a way to pronounce a punctuation mark, thanks to !!! (enunciated “Chk Chk Chk,” since you had to ask).

And where exactly does one go to find out about all these wonderful bands coming to you?  R5 Productions, of course.  R5 is a “Do It Yourself” show promotions agency, informing teens and twenty-something music lovers of the “indie” scene, of every show in the Philadelphia area.  R5 is a “for the kids by the kids” type of operation.

If somehow you get on their mailing list, you will receive 75 emails a week about the upcoming Ting Tings show.

Braids is opening for Baths, seen above.

Hold on, I just got another update.  “Laying Waste has been added to Superdrag,” “Qatsi added to Feelies Show,” and “Boy With Robot added to Takka Takka Show.”

And due to popular demand the Pomegranates’ show with Hot Tub (yes, that is a band), has been moved to the Starlight Ballroom!

Maybe it’s just that all the good names are taken.  Who’s to say what a good band name is anyway?  Maybe it is “Motionless in White With My Hero is Me.”  Don’t forget to get your tix!

P.S. I hadn’t glanced at R5 lately, and it seems there’s never a shortage of new and great band names: Baths, EyehateGod, Murder By Death… And good news: Pissed Jeans is still going strong, rock on!

By: Liz Harrington

Eric Henkels: Wearing His Heart on His Sleeve

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Vulnerability and openness are two feelings one can anticipate before they listen to the serene, melodious tunes that Eric Henkels so honestly produces. Former member of Find Vienna, Eric now spends his time wholeheartedly absorbed in his most recent solo project.

At the age of three, with his grandfather’s eager ear listening to his erratic banging on the keyboard, Eric discovered his calling and his passion.

“Music has been in my life literally as long as I can physically remember,” he says.

Finding his direction, Eric played in numerous bands covering a wide variety of genres. From punk rock to pop, indie to jazz, Eric finally “grew into himself” with his realization that singer-songwriters like Elliott Smith and Ben Gibbard were his true heroes. “If somebody can sit there and listen to you play a song alone and think ‘oh my god that’s beautiful’,” he said, “imagine what you can do when you add instrumentation.”

A little boy claps as Eric and friend play guitar.

Although Eric enjoys playing numerous instruments, he admits that piano is his favorite (with guitar as a close second). Playing the piano comes easy to Eric, as having a conversation or texting somebody comes easy to everyone else. “There is nothing quite like the rush I get when I start going nuts on the piano,” he confesses, “I’m so comfortable with it.”

When it comes to song writing, Eric is his own worst critic. However, despite the quickness he has to admit this, Eric produces songs that are both smooth and easy to listen to. His favorite, Robes and Crowns was the result of a life-changing experience after visiting Ireland and England. “I came home, put my guitar in really weird tuning, and just started playing,” he said, “[Robes and Crowns] was the first thing I came up with, and I’m really proud of it.”

Like all musicians, Eric’s music has evolved enormously. The first song Eric ever wrote with his best friend, Mike, was called “3 PM”, amusingly because that’s the time that his middle school let out. “That’s the beautiful thing about music,” he says, “it changes and moves and grows up as you change and move and grow up.”

Speaking of changing and growing, Eric is sure to impress any listener with his recent cover of his favorite Bon Iver track, Blindsided. This brave and adept rendition wells up all your emotions at once. Using his voice as a musical tool, Eric sings acapella and creates a beautiful harmony by layering different tracks of his voice. The result is a calming, moving piece that only a skillful musician could produce.

"Inspiration is a weird thing in that it can strike you in the strangest places."

“The thing that makes Blindsided so beautiful to me is the way that the harmonies intertwine with the driving acoustic guitar riff,” he says.

Right now, Eric is concentrating on recording his solo album, which will be called “Every Day is a Year.” The album will consist of two separate sides, one called “A Day” and the other “A Year.” An idea he has been toying with for quite some time, Eric hopes to demonstrate two separate sides of himself with this album. A Day will contain mostly acoustic, lo-fi intimate songs while A Year will be louder and bigger. “I want people to see and hear the wide range of emotions that I feel on a weekly basis.”

To listen to the tracks from Every Day is a Year, be sure to check out Eric’s bandcamp. Some of his other covers can be heard on his myspace.

“I want my music to reach everybody, no exceptions,” Eric admits, “There’s not a single person out there that I don’t want to touch with my music. It’s idealistic, but…. Hey. Whatever.”

By: Christina Paone

Peasant Strives for Artistic Perfection

January 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Speaking for the wind: Damien DeRose of Peasant.

Damien DeRose is his own worst critic.  Founder and sole member of the acoustic folk band Peasant, out of Doylestown, PA, DeRose sets his own standard for art in today’s music industry, and sets it high.

In the dynamics between popular artists playing in stadiums and an abundance of independents playing in local dive bars, DeRose is mainly on a quest to write the perfect song.  While he classifies his music as Folk Pop Dream, he calls most of the pop on the radio “crap.”

DeRose’s songs are characterized by his solemn voice laced over acoustic guitar and piano.  His reverence for nature (album covers featuring an oasis in the woods, or photo shoots of DeRose lying in an open field) comes through songs with earthy moods.  In one he declares, “I am speaking for the wind.”

His sound burns with the fervor of releasing his innermost convictions, with a mix of slower guitar based folk songs and more resonant alternative tracks.  “We’re Good,” off his first album, occupies a thin realm between joyfully optimistic and haunting uncertainty:  “Time’s got so much in stock I don’t know where to start,” he opens.

Since he decided to pursue his passion as a career, Peasant has attained success, whether in the studio or on tour.  DeRose has compiled three albums: Shady Retreat, On The Ground, and the single The End.

Now signed to the independent label Paper Garden Records, DeRose will be recording this winter.  A break from an international tour which included shows in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Netherlands, London, Norwich, Hüllhorst, Germany, Amsterdam, and Clermont-Ferrand, France.

“I had no expectations,” he said upon entering music as a career.  “Therefore I have more than fulfilled them.”

DeRose returns to the recording studio this winter.

Influenced by The Beatles and The Beach Boys at a young age, today he strives to stay true as an artist, and is more than optimistic about the music industry in the age of media piracy.

When asked about file sharing and its impact on record sales, DeRose exclaims, “It’s fantastic!”  DeRose is satisfied with any way to spread his art.  “If people truly love your music they will still buy your records and pay to see you play live,” he says.  The Internet allows audiences access to Peasant’s music, and DeBose appreciates the opportunity “to get into peoples ears.”

As weekly album sales hit a record low last September, selling out venues is a vital way for an artist to make a living musically.  And as for those who sell out arenas?  “Musicians shouldn’t be cardboard cutouts who do the dance moves they are told to do,” he says.

“If you wish to create something that is pure and from yourself, as soon as you start trying to please people you stop being yourself and that’s not what art is about,” he continues.  But even with the profuseness and brief staying power of musicians today, DeRose believes it is still possible to become a legend, citing Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain as modern day luminaries.

For now, DeRose is content with plucking his guitar.  “I would like to keep doing this all my life, until I am dead with a guitar in my hand,” he says.

But when he does write that perfect song?  “I may feel fulfilled completely.  But I doubt that will happen before I’m in the ground either.”

By: Liz Harrington

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