The Role Call - Guest Post

I’m spending December catching up on my own writing, attempting to meet end-of-year deadlines for open calls for various anthologies. Several of the folks I’ve been meaning to interview have offered up guest posts instead. This week, I’m happy to welcome the band THE ROLE CALL to talk about the Kickstarter for their new EP.

The Role Call

The Role Call

Hey guys!

We are The Role Call, a newly-formed Minneapolis-based Pop/Rock band. Back in February of 2012, local musicians Max Young, Zach Hesemann, and Joey Russ found singer Steven Zerwas and bassist Kristoff Druva through a mutual friend.  After writing and recording with producers Pat Brown (Sing It Loud) and Jordan Schmidt (All Time Low, Sing It Loud), we released our Debut Self-Titled EP on May 28th, 2012.  Writing this EP was a great time because all of us have such a wide variety of influences such as All Time Low, Coldplay, The Summer Set, and many others. Over the summer we were fortunate enough to tour and promote our album across the Midwest.  We like to pride ourselves on the high-energy live show that we put on.

We will be playing a holiday show in Minneapolis on December 27th with our friends in the band Quietdrive.  This show is at The Varsity Theater and starts at 5PM!

Recently we have been doing a lot of writing and are happy to announce that we will be recording a brand new EP in February down in Nashville, TN.  We have started a Kickstarter page for fans/friends/family to donate to in order to help raise money for the EP and to allow us to tour next summer.  Those who donate can get certain rewards such as signed CDs, Acoustic Skype Shows, and can even hang out with us in the studio! If you want to donate, you can do so by going to this link:

For those of you who have never heard of us before, check out our single from our first EP, titled “Won’t Get Down (feat. Pat Brown)”!

GLOPRY DAYS, Musicians - Interview

It’s Tuneful Tuesday (I’m not sure that’s really a Twitter hashtag, but maybe it should be!), and so another New Jersey-based band takes center stage on Rambling On.

Glory Days

Glory Days

GLORY DAYS consists of Andy Tongren (vocals), Dylan Scott (guitar), Julian Dimagiba (bass), and Steve Patrick (drums). I had the chance to chat with Dylan about the band’s influences and their sound.

 ANTHONY:  Hi Dylan! Thanks for taking the time to answer a few rambling questions.

DYLAN:  Awesome, thanks for having us.

ANTHONY:  I know you play around New Jersey, but where is everyone from and how did you come together?

DYLAN:  We’re all originally from NJ and grew up playing in different bands. With the exception of Andy who is originally from Ohio then moved to New York City to study music.

ANTHONY:  Has the band’s sound changed appreciably over the time you’ve been together?

 DYLAN:  Well yes, I wouldn’t say it changed drastically but the sound has definitely developed into something that we feel suits us as artists.

ANTHONY:  I don’t think I can pick a favorite song off of Living Room Sessions. What was recording the album like? How long did it take and where did you record? 

 DYLAN:  Recording Living Room Sessions was a pretty amazing experience for us. We were able to use various vintage instruments and had plenty of creative freedom on the product. We recorded a lot of the live stuff in a studio in upstate NY and the rest of it was done at a studio closer to home in Brooklyn. We did the entire record in under a week and loved every second of it.

ANTHONY:  What’s the song-writing process like for you? Is it a total group effort, or do you each bring completed ideas to the table?

DYLAN:  The song writing process is always different for us. Typically either Andy or myself will come with an idea for a song then bring it to the group and see what happens in an artistic environment. Various emails are sent along with phone calls, texts, and Skype sessions during the process.


ANTHONY:  For the songwriters in the group: how do you typically work? Lyrics first then music, or vice-versa? Or it is all sort of an organic process that changes with each song?

DYLAN: The songwriting process is definitely organic. We like to see the art through before it becomes something we release as well.

ANTHONY:  As a “Jersey Band,” does the rich musical history of the state influence you at all?

DYLAN:  The rich musical history of New Jersey absolutely influences us greatly. We may not sound like Bruce, but we felt comfortable enough with ourselves as musicians to take such a powerful character and lend homage to him through our bands name.

ANTHONY:  Your cover of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” has a different feel than the original songs off of “Living Room Sessions.” Why that particular song as a cover? Is it indicative of a change in the band’s sound overall?

DYLAN:  Bob Dylan is an American icon unlike any other. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” is a song we felt could translate well to our sound. I don’t think it’s necessarily indicative of the bands sound overall, but it’s an eclectic effort towards greater change.

ANTHONY: What’s next for the band? New music on the horizon? A tour?

DYLAN:  Plenty of new music on the horizon along with tour plans. 2012 is going to be a very busy year for us.

ANTHONY:  My usual final question: for each of you, what’s your favorite book and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them to read it?

DYLAN:  “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” Read it. It’s fucking funny.

After we completed the interview and I inadvertently misplaced it for several months, Glory Days released a new EP which you can purchase on itunes: BROKE IN NEW YORK.

You can find Glory Days on Facebook and Twitter and of course on Youtube.

REVERSE ORDER, Singers - Interview

It’s MUSIC MONDAY, to steal a Twitter hashtag! It’s also the beginning of a week leading up to the one year anniversary of when I started running interviews here on my site. One interview every day, leading up to Saturday’s return interview with Evelyn LaFont.

Reverse Order

Reverse Order

Today’s guests are REVERSE ORDER, a local NJ band poised for great things. The band is composed of brothers John and Cruise Russo, Drew Katsock and Frank Spangler.

ANTHONY: Hello, Reverse Order! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me. I’ve had the opportunity to see you guys perform live twice now: opening for Action Item at Starland Ballroom, and opening for Allstar Weekend at NJPAC. And I have to say: you guys have fantastic energy on-stage. So, how did the band form, and how long have you been performing together?

 CRUISE: The band was formed by John and I (Cruise) we are brothers.  We had been child actors (I was on the Soap, As The World Turns as Casey Hughes) then when we got to middle school we got interested in music.  At the same time the movie School of Rock came out, and my mom found out there was one opening in NJ so we were the first students (Mike the drummer from Hollywood Ending was also a student there, we are good friends).  Then we decided to start writing our own music and Reverse Order was born.  I’d say we seriously formed in 2008.  We had some band members change due to school, work, girlfriends but Drew has been with us a year and a half and Frank is going on one year.  We really like this line up.

ANTHONY: Where did the band name come from?

CRUISE: John and I were trying to come up with a name for the band for a school talent show and at the time he was being homeschooled and there was an Algebra problem and the words Reverse Order were on the white board in our house, after much brotherly arguing my dad said “Reverse Order” that’s your name.

ANTHONY: You describe yourselves as “pop punk / pop rock.” Who are some of your biggest influences, and what inspiration do you draw from them?

 JOHN: As we’ve matured our inspirations have changed. When I first got into writing I would re-write lyrics to Linkin Park songs along with some friends. As I started writing and building full songs with my own music, lyrics, and melodies, I started drawing inspiration from a wide range of both Pop Punk and Rock artists including the teen anthems of Blink 182, the wittiness and catchiness of Fall Out Boy, and the powerful honesty of Alice In Chains.

ANTHONY: I’m always interested in the creative process. So: who are the song-writers in the group? What’s your song-writing process like? Do the lyrics come first, then melody and instruments, or the reverse?

CRUISE: Up until 2012 it was totally John.  Now, I’m writing too and we’ll have sessions with Frank and Drew to try to come up with their parts.  John is still the main guy.  John will have some ideas and he’ll play them over and over and I’ll keep trying different drum beats sometimes we hit on something and it falls in place and sometimes we have some really good parts that never get finished because we’re missing something.

JOHN: Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music. I start with whatever comes to me first and then work from there. Sometimes I just sit there for hours until something comes to me.  Sometimes I have a whole song and it is just missing one part and I can’t finish it so I put it aside.  Sometimes months later Cruise will say remember that song you were fooling around with let’s try to do something with it. So there are so many different ways we approach songwriting.

ANTHONY: You’re from Hackettstown, NJ, firmly up in the northwest corner of the state. Has living in the more “rural” part of New Jersey had any impact on the type of song you write, or the way your sound has developed?

CRUISE: For John and I our parents always took us to new places and even to concerts and plays to introduce us to new things. Some of our first concerts were Kiss, Billy Idol and Bruce Springsteen. We were born in Lincoln Park, NJ and then moved to the rural area in middle school. We live in a rural area but we’re more beach, or suburb type guys.

ANTHONY: I have to ask: you list “dancing in public places” as a band interest. Does this mean we can expect Reverse Order “flash mobs” around northwest NJ? And is it really the whole band that loves breaking into dance, or one of you in particular?

JOHN: We all love breaking into dance, but I’d have to say Frank and I are the worst offenders. We realized this at an H&M clothing store when we were on tour in Michigan. Frank and I started to dance in the middle of the store while waiting in line. There is also a video on YouTube of myself dressed in an afro and pleather pants ‘dancing in the 80s’ haha.

Reverse Order

Reverse Order

ANTHONY: In terms of the band’s sound and energy: what does each member of the group bring to the stage that is uniquely “them?”

REVERSE ORDER: John is the front man of the group and has the ability to captivate an audience of any size. You can feel the power in every note he sings and plays. Cruise is the drummer but one of his greatest assets is that he is able to take over lead vocals as well. His drumming style is powerful and energetic and he draws from Pop/Punk greats like Travis Barker and Jason Lancaster. Audiences go wild for Drew as he struts the stage giving a dynamic and high energy performance, Drew and John really work well together getting right into the audience and grabbing their attention, they’re not afraid to do whatever it takes to make sure everyone is having fun and lost in the moment and Frank’s driving bass holds down the low end as he delivers a powerful performance.  Frank and Cruise hold everything together while Drew and John get the audience involved and pumped up.  Sometimes they just go right into the crowd.  One time recently the whole crowd just rushed the stage to jump and sing with them.

ANTHONY: You’ve got an album on itunes. How have sales been on that?

JOHN: Sales have been really good! It’s always exciting to get a new trend report every week, which shows where and when your music is being purchased or streamed. Sometimes we get really cool results and it says someone in Germany or Canada is listening to our music. It’s a great feeling to know you’re really getting out there!

ANTHONY: Is there another album or EP in the near future?

JOHN: There is another EP in the near future! We have been working very hard writing songs our fans will love. We have some really great ideas that we can’t wait to record and show the world! We were actually in the studio the first week of April to record. It should come out sometime in May J

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: for each member of the band, what is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

JOHN: I’m more of a wait till it gets to theaters kind of guy haha, but I do enjoy reading Graphic Novels and Stephen King books from time to time.  My song, Wake Me Up will actually be in this horror film “You Can’t Kill Stephen King.”  I love horror films so I can’t wait to see it.

CRUISE: Well I read a ton so it’s really hard to pick just one… But I’d say there are a lot of really good autobiographies from musicians. Both Clapton by Eric Clapton and The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Six from Motley Crue were hard to put down. The obstacles they overcame within the music industry, and just in life in general, are astounding and reading them was very insightful, I tell everyone to read them whether you’re a fan of their music or not.

DREW:  Harry Potter, I grew up with it so it is a very much a part of my childhood.

FRANK:  Don’t really have one.

ANTHONY: Okay, thanks again guys! Looking forward to catching up with you in person soon!

REVERSE ORDER will be playing this Friday, April 27th, as the headline act at The Croc Rock in Allentown PA and at The Canvas Clash in Boonton NJ on May 11th. You can buy tickets HERE. Tell them Anthony sent you!

You can find Reverse Order online on Facebook and Twitter. Cruise and John have their own clothing line, Just Dance Apparel. And of course they’re on Youtube. In fact, here’s their video for THESE SUMMER NIGHTS:

BURNHAM, Singers - Interview

Today I’m very happy to be able to ramble on with the brothers Burnham.



They’ve been performing together for half their lives, but after meeting producers Freddy Shehadi and Andy Marvel of Headspinners, things moved to a whole new level. A demo with Headspinners led to a meeting with Island Def Jam CEO Antonio “LA” Reid. Reid refused to let the brothers leave without being signed. The fact that youngest brother and lead singer Forrest beat Reid at pool before signing is bound to become one of those classic music industry stories. They’ve since worked with a number of well-known producers and songwriters on their debut, including OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (on the track “Catch Me If You Can”). They’ve also weathered Forrest’s voice change with the help of expert vocal coaches. In October, Burnham will open for All-Star Weekend at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, MA, and then go on a several month, multi-city tour sharing the stage with Action Item and Hollywood Ending.

Andre, Forrest and Alex Burnham, photo credit Timothy Peters

Andre, Forrest and Alex Burnham, photo credit Timothy Peters

ANTHONY: I’ve been waiting months to be able to type this. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome brothers Forrest, Alex and Andre, better known as … BURNHAM! Hi, guys!

BURNHAM: Hey. How’s it going?

A: It’s going well, thanks. The best place to start this is probably with a question about influences. Who do each of you count as your primary musical influences / heroes?

B: You probably heard this before but Coldplay, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, The Who and currently Bruno Mars, OneRepublic, Kings Of Leon, etc.

A: As a three-piece “band of brothers,” you’ve been compared to Hanson, the Jonas Brothers, and fellow up-and-comers Kropp Circle. We know what you have in common with those bands … what sets you apart?

B: Well, there are many brother bands even ones like Kings of Leon and Van Halen so it isn’t that uncommon. But every band is set apart by their uniqueness of sound. When you hear Kings of Leon you know it’s them. When you hear Hanson you definitely know it’s them. We hope to bring that to our audience.

A: Good point about KoL and VH. I first became familiar with you through the covers you were posting on Youtube. What goes into deciding which songs you’ll cover and what format you’ll use (acoustic vs. electric, etc)?

B: Usually, we decide to cover songs that we love and songs that the audience already knows and loves.

A: How much effort goes into making a version that is uniquely “Burnham” while still retaining what is loved and recognizable about the original?

B: We love playing acoustic. It’s how we got signed— with a couple of guitars and three voices. We think our front man brings uniqueness with his voice. A lot of effort goes into each song but after we learn it we hope that it becomes our own.

A: Will you be doing the “12 Covers of Christmas” project again this year, or will your upcoming tour with Action Item and Hollywood Ending interfere with that?

B: Well, we did that after the Bieber tour and it was “let’s learn this song quickly today so we can get it on Youtube for our fans.” We had to learn a song a day if we didn’t know it already. Forrest is a quick study. We might do it again. It was pretty fun.

A: I think it was fun for the fans as well. Okay: last, and possibly the most important, question about cover songs: When are you going to cover “Come On, Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners? Your mother wants to hear you do that almost as much as I do!

B: Ha ha. We joke about the 80’s to our mother. It is a cool song but we might try another 80’s song at some point. We mostly like to cover current songs though.

A: In other words, “Anthony, Stop Tweeting about ‘Come On, Eileen!’” haha Okay, now, let’s talk about your original songs. We’ve seen Youtube footage of Forrest working on a song at the keyboards, but what’s the full-band creative process like? How do you decide who writes lyrics, who writes melody, etc?

B: We don’t decide who writes what. Sometimes it’s Forrest or Alex or me, Andre. When you have a song idea you just start working on it. Sometimes it’s just the melody. Sometimes it’s making a track in our home studio. Sometimes one might come up with lyrics and then someone else has a better idea. Any original we have is all of ours together. It’s really an amazing feeling when you finish an original song.

A: When you’re starting to develop a song idea, do you ever think far ahead to how the song will fit into an EP or full album, or do you let each song tell its own story in its own way?

B: No. We never think ahead. A lot of songs get put to the side. You have to be able to say goodbye to a song that just doesn’t work or maybe you will use that idea later.

A: As a writer, you can imagine I’m not a fan of the “where do you get your ideas” question. But I do like hearing about tactics and tools. When you’re stuck for a lyric or idea, where do you turn for inspiration? What do you do to break a creative block?

B: It kind of just comes for all of us. Sometimes we get an idea for a song and it get recorded and sits there for months and then we go back and come up with a new lyric idea for it. We usually write words that just pop into our heads.

A: Have you collaborated with anyone on songwriting chores? And if you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

B: We have collaborated with many people and in the beginning before we ever got signed we collaborated with our two producers. We have collaborated with Ryan Tedder of One Republic, James Bourne of Busted, and many producers in the business that have collaborated with Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and artists like that.

A: I know I have a trunk of story fragments that didn’t work out but might find a home in a story someday. Have you ever abandoned a song idea because it just wasn’t “clicking?”

B: Like we said before we abandon song ideas a lot. We even abandon whole songs. Well, not really abandon it’s more like put them away. We never throw them out.

A: Andre, you’re building amplifiers these days, right? How’s that going?

B: No. It’s me Alex building cabs. It’s going amazing. I am working on custom orders right now for Burnham Custom Amplifications and already made a cab and head to bring on The Stronger The Love Tour.

A: I’m going to just pretend it’s all the “A” names confusing me to explain why I aimed that question at the wrong brother. Forrest, I’d get in trouble with my nieces if I didn’t ask this question: when is your episode of BIG TIME RUSH going to air, and what was it like working on the show?

B: We are not supposed to say the date but I can tell you that it is in October sometime.

A: Alex, rumor has it (okay, it was actually Andre on Twitter) that Forrest recently dropped a motorcycle on your head. What was that all about? And will there be retaliation?

B: Funny. Yeah, Forrest was on our uncle’s dirt bike and it was in the garage. I was working on one of my cabs and Forrest lost his balance and the bike kind of fell on me. I had a headache for two days. I already retaliated but I can’t say what I did haha.

A: It’ll all come out in the Unofficial Biography someone will publish about you guys in a year or two. One of the many things that impresses me about you is your commitment to your fans. Your weekly ustream sessions have gone without missing a week for how long now? Tell my readers when and where they can find the live chats.

B: Yeah, we started the ustream in October of 2010 and we haven’t missed a Wednesday since then. You can catch the livechat here on Wednesdays at 7 pm EST/ 4pm PT

A: You’re about to head out on tour, as we mentioned earlier. What’s the most exciting part of touring, and what’s the most grueling?

B: The most exciting part about tour is performing and meeting the audience. We like the meet and greets before the performance because we can recognize the people in the audience that we just met. It was pretty cool. The grueling part is the long miles in between shows and getting up when you really just want to sleep in. Packing up in hotels is tiring too. You don’t want to leave anything in a hotel room because you can’t go back and get anything because the schedule is just that tight.

A: Since I travel about one-third of the year for my day job, I can relate to the “leaving things behind in a hotel room” problem. I don’t know how many power cords I’ve lost. Right now, three of your songs are available as an EP on itunes. When can we expect a full album to appear?

B: That’s the big question everyone wants to hear the answer to. As you know, Forrest went through a voice change so we had to rerecord some songs and it even inspired us to come up with a lot of new ones. We don’t know when we will release more songs or a full album. We just wanna release it at the perfect moment.

A: Well, I know your fans, including me, will be ready for it whenever it drops! I always wrap things up with this question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to recommend it to someone who has never read it?

B: We argued back and forth about this one but we all agree the Harry Potter series!

A: Alright, well, good luck with everything and thanks for the chance to chat, boys!

B: You are welcome.