United By… Getting Close With (Holy City Zoo)

Below are a couple of closeups that focus on the bass and guitar of Holy City Zoo’s AJ Russo and Frank Joseph. HCZ were one of my favorite bands’ that populated the Tiny Giants collective. Having been a part of the collective, myself. I’d go out and see them live, every chance I got.

Ongoing Project

Back in 2013 I started a project very close to my heart. Bringing some of my favorite local musicians and artists into the studio for a short bull session and some time under the lights. The concept is a simple one. Photos built around conversation about common interests while chilling out to some good music. Add or subtract a tasty beverage, a favorite musical instrument or article of clothing. Leave the posing guide and glass smiles for the posers and just snap when the moment calls.

On this particular day I had my buddy Frank from the New Brunswick’s Holy City Zoo stop in after work. I met Frank and the band around the same time I started my music blog               United By Rocket Science in the Spring of 2011. Since then we’ve formed somewhat of a mutual admiration society.  His band has been featured on the blog numerous times. He’s also served us well as a contributor from time to time. Needless to say, I count him as a friend. 

Like many of the musicians I’ve met through doing the blog. Frank represents somewhat of a paradox. A complete animal on stage. Frank is intelligent, laid back and soft spoken in person.             As we began our session, Frank sheepishly asked “What do I do?” “Nothing” I replied. It was just a chance for me to get to know him a little better than I already do. Most of the people and friends I ask to shoot are ones I rarely get to really talk to in an intimate setting. I see them at bars, shows and on the stage.                 These sessions allow me to speak the best was I know how. Getting to know the people who make the music I love is a pretty special opportunity. Thanks Frank.

Frank VFrank II Frank III Frank

Static Radio Stops in for a Visit.

I know it’s been a long time since I posted. Truth is I’ve had plenty to post but just haven’t had the time. Since we last spoke I started a new music related blog which has taken a lot of my spare time. Dave (Rocket Science) and I (Unite Webzine) have been doing interviews, reviews and catching our share of shows at local venues. Needless to say, it’s been a labor of love for me.  A friend of mine, Shannon, has done more than her share. Contributing as both and interviewer and interviewee. From day 1 she had been talking about doing an interview with New Jersey’s Static Radio.      I was totally cool with the idea until she asked me to photograph them to coincide with the interview. I wasn’t really interested in the idea but her excitement and nagging finally got me to agree. So one morning this week Vic and Michael (The bands key contributors and constant members) stopped by with Shannon. I had never met them prior but took an almost immediate liking to them. The session was a short but productive one. I even managed to get Shannon in on the fun. Something I’m sure she was more than happy to be a part of.

The shoot got me thinking how cool it would be to do something more personal for future interviews. Perhaps a mix of images with the bands both rockin’ out and hanging out. It would be pretty cool. Thanks to Shannon for being such a pest. Special thanks to Michael and Vic for starting my day off right.

Look out for the interview here:  http://unitedbyrocketscience.blogspot.com/

Check out Static Radio NJ here: http://www.staticradionj.com/

Four Fingers Play a show without breaking anything. News at 11.

On Sunday the 17th I l headed South on the NJ Turnpike to New Brunswick for brunch and an Punk show at the legendary Court Tavern,  We swept into town super early and did a little (actually, very little) exploring before grabbing a bite around the corner. All ages matinees are a rarity at the Court Tavern but Shannon Perez more than made it work. Instead of having the show downstairs or even in the back where numerous minors would be passing the temptation of the bar she had it in a small room just off to the side of the front door. (No one would even get as far as the bar.) The show opened with a five piece from Maplewood called Polyphony  (more on them in my next post)  and followed with Shannon’s band Hope You Die before making way for Four Fingers.

Four Fingers  is a band I interviewed a little over a year ago and have kept in contact with since. I can’t think of a better group of guys to throw your support to. Their style reminds me a lot of Adrenalin O.D. with some Blag Flag and Stooges thrown in for good measure. Tohm puts 125% of himself into every performance. Always making the crowd feel involved and injected into the music. I think a lot of that leads to his many performance injuries which again makes me think of the Stooges. This performance was the tightest I’ve seen them and to give Tohm proper credit, he didn’t injure himself or any one else for that matter. Chris reminds me a lot of Animal on the Muppet Show. Pounding away on the drums with wild abandon. I’ve never seen any one get so close the the skins while he was pounding them. Be sure to keep your fingers away from his mouth. Ryan, the newest member has fit in well and seems to be the glue they’ve needed all along. Then there’s Jeff. He seems like the calm within the storm but his guitar playing is a sickness there seems to be no vaccine for. Check them out if you get the chance.


My first trip to the Court Tavern.

IMG_9592IMG_9535IMG_9607IMG_9638IMG_9670Last night me and Brian headed to New Brunswick’s Court Tavern for what would be an awesome show. Brian had called me about a week earlier with the lineup and it seemed like a can’t miss show. So last night we headed South armed with my keen sense of direction and Brian’s 20/240 eyesight. Along the way I must have missed an exit ended up a bit lost. Earlier I had scribbled the directions to the club on a piece of paper. It was pretty dark out so I handed it to Brian and said “Hey Buddy, can you read this to me?” putting the paper directly to his eye “No, don’t you know I’m fucking blind?” Until last night I didn’t know how fucking bad. Finally with the help of some Corzine campaigners we were on our way. The bar itself isn’t as much of a hole as some of my friends had described. Pretty good bar with the performance space downstairs. The doorman who was collecting the cash on the other hand was a complete asshole. The Gerrunds featuring Peter Courtner formerly of Dag Nasty opened. Really good stuff musically. This was my first time hearing them and was pretty impressed. They played a good energetic set and even closed with a Dag Nasty tune. I’ve been around a while and had the opportunity to see a lot of great  bands. I’m not much for idolizing of hero worship but seeing Pete perform considering the lasting effect Dag Nasty has had on me was pretty amazing. In between sets I met a few cool people and ran into some familiar faces. Vinny from Generation Records was there and though I only know him casually from shopping there, we recognized one another. I was already in a deep photography conversation with someone I had met when Vin came over and blew my mind with some of the pictures he showed me from his recent trips to Vietnam and Cambodia. I had no idea we shared such a love for photography. He invited me to stop by the store and talk shop anytime  I wanted. Next up were the great Fire Still Burns. I had just seen Alf and Nate a few nights before here in Hoboken. This was a sort of combination reunion and last show for them. Kinda sad I missed the boat on these guys. Aside from getting their “Keeping Hope Alive” disc I had never seen them live. They were without a doubt my favorite band of the night. Great songs, great energy and a responsive crowd. I kind of regret not loading up on the merchandise they had at the table. It’s always a no brainer to help support the bands you go see. I was just low on funds on this particular night. Jeff Pezzati’s (Naked Raygun) new band The Bomb followed and played a short set that seemed to end abruptly. They were okay but a little disappointing. As I said in my prior blog about Naked Raygun, Jeff looks sick and seems to have contracted Parkinson’s.  Headlining the show was a band I had not scene in twenty years. I remember hearing about Vision for the first time while hanging out at a CBGB’s matinee. Dave Franklin doesn’t look or sound a whole lot different than he did those twenty years ago. Great personality, charisma and interaction with the crowd. They tore through a set of old classics that everyone seemed to sing along and dance to. To quote the man “Not too bad for a Monday night.

Other Observations:

The old man who was pumping gas at that Hess station was without a doubt the funniest/angriest person I’ve encountered in years.

Ran into that girl I kept elbowing at the Naked Raygun show. I owe her a beer.

I run into Ted Flatus wherever I go. I’ve known the guy forever and have not once had a memorable conversation with him or cared about his band.

I think the NJ/NY Punk/Hardcore scene needs to anti up and do a James Unite needs a GPS system for his car” Benefit. I think they owe me at least that much.