Hasan Salaam

Six years have gone by since Hasan Salaam won an award for his song "Blaxploitation". Currently he has a great collabo album out with Rugged N Raw as Mohammad Dangerfield. He is in the studio working on his soon to be released "Music Is My Weapon" EP and a full length album to be released in 2012. I had the chance to talk to him, during Ramadan, about his career so far and what is yet to come as an intelligent religious/political-minded rapper. Respect!

[Q]: First off, how is Ramadan moving along? Are you (ever) planning on going to Mecca?

Ramadan has been ok. I was sick so I cant fast fully fast. I have been practicing since I was 14 and have only missed 2 or 3 so far due to either sickness or traveling, I will have to make up the days soon.

[Q]: Have you read the latest biography of "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,'€ by Manning Marable? In what way has he affected your life and music?

No, I have not had the chance to read it but I have heard some not so good things about it. Reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X is what made 1st start studying Islam. My faith has inspired my everyday life and art in ways I could not even begin to explain. If you listen to the music I hope you will hear that shining through the sound. Also just on the basic principles of standing up for what I believe in no matter what whether it be to live for it or to die for El Hajj Malik Shabazz(Malcolm X) was an outstanding example of true dedication.

[Q]: Naturally, we have to discuss the current economic and political instability - what does it mean to you?

Capitalism is competition and unfortunately there is more respect for corporations than there is for human beings, unless you ask Mitt Romney and he tells you corporations are people too. The budget is increasing not due to spending on programs like unemployment and health care but to the billions daily spent on war. The base of the Republican party are primarily poor or working class Caucasian Christians and they have been tricked by the republican party to think along race, religious and class lines instead of what is best for everyone in the country. Mexicans are not stealing jobs here in the USA and half of these politicians are employing some type of "illegal" worker everyday. The job problem in America is due to the fact that nothing is made over here because these corporations they care so much about would rather pay someone 14 cents a week with no health care somewhere else in the world so they could make more money.

Not all Muslims in the world hate America, there are many hard working Muslim families that have been contributing to this society for years, and people overseas wouldn't hate this country if this country didn't exploit them, drop bombs on them and meddle in their foreign affairs. The people who benefit most from the so-called socialist initiatives live welfare, or social security are Caucasian Americans, not African or Latino Americans, check the numbers.

The instability shows peoples ignorance, you can yell post racial America till your red, white and blue in the face but the disparities and over racism prove otherwise daily. The economy faltering is a culmination of 8 years of Bush bullshit and Obama sticking to that script for the most part. There was a surplus after Clinton, follow the trail of the Bush legislature and you will find an answer to most of the economic problems in this country.

[Q]: In what way has it affected your own family, friends and/or business?

All this is fuckin with my peoples retirement. I was under the impression there wouldn't be social security for my generation anyway, but to see my family members who have worked so hard for 50+ years and there nest egg is depleted because of stubborn politicians and greedy business executives. When these Enron executives steal from our Parents and Grandparents with no justice to follow and people just sit back like nothing happened it just showed how complacent the American public is. All of this is affecting everyone of us whether we would like to admit it or not.

[Q]: One of your songs is entitled "15 minutes". When are your 15 minutes over?

This isn't a gimmick for me. That 15 minutes applies to those who sell out or buy into that bullshit. The real is always here.

[Q]: If your rap-career does not earn you the amount of money your family needs, how will you provide (your back-up plan)?

I will do whatever it takes to feed my family except destroying someone else's family. No matter what I do music will always be part of my life, I need it as much as air or blood flowin thru my veins. I have been doing lectures at Universities across the country and in Europe called "From The Spirituals To Hip-Hop" on the history of Black Music and it's relation to our struggle for freedom here in America. Teaching is definitely on that list, writing for other artists, voice overs, working on a book and film scripts so I have many outlets. If not there's always stripping!

[Q]: You are part of the group 5th Column. Now you formed a group with Rugged N Raw as Mohammad Dangerfield. What exactly is the difference and are the plans?

5th Column is still rocking. We do monthly food and clothing drives on MLK and Grant Ave. in Jersey City NJ every 3rd Sunday of the month. MoDanger/Mohammad Dangerfield is a collab album with Rugged N Raw. There are more members of 5th Column who don't rock they are just part of the community events and just family, it's all part of the same movement.

[Q]: When can we expect a new album?

I have a FREE EP entitled "Music Is My Weapon". The next album "Life In Black & White" will be out in 2012. Music Is My Weapon is like a re introduction, it's been a minute since my last solo project and I have so much music and so much to say I just gotta get it out there.

[Q]: Most artists tend to change their style due to personal 'growth' or other changes in their live. Over the years what has changed your music? What are the negative sides of this change?

Change is inevitable. All artists should grow and evolve, an artist doesn't it becomes redundant. I'd be mad if I still sounded like I did when I 1st started or still spittin on the same exact topics the same way, that would mean not only in music but in life in general I haven't expanded my horizons. I think my flows, my delivery and my clarity have gotten better. I use my voice as an instrument and don't have the same tone on every song.

On some life shit I have been thru a lot so its all gonna be reflected in the music. As for negative, there is no negative to growth unless we forget who we are. Some artists allow themselves to get boxed in and fight their own development, because people want their favorite artists to make similar joints sometimes cause music can be nostalgic, and it takes them back to a time and place.

[Q]: Any tour-event, or fan-moment, you like to share with your fans?

Every time someone builds with me after a show, in the street, or I receive a email/twitter or Facebook post its means something to me. When supporters tell me that my music speaks to their struggle and their soul I'm re-energized to do what I do. That means the most to me for real. I wanna let them know I appreciate the support and put this pen to the paper to not only speak for my pain and triumphs but the worlds you dig.

[Q]: What collaborations could your fans look out for in the future?

Immortal Technique, Reef The Lost Cause, Steele of Smiff n Wesson, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Chase Infinite of Self Scientific, Eternia, Snowgoons, and thats just to name a few. I'm putting in work out here.

[Q]: What is your main goal to reach as an artist?

Honesty, I am true to myself, my family, my people and the world. Each song captures a moment in time, a thought, a vibe. If that moment is brought to life for the listener I am doing what I was put here to do. I want people to see the good, bad and ugly of this world so that Insha'Allah we can better it together. I'm not here to be preachy I just paint the picture, we all get to interpret it how we choose.

A couple of 'simple' questions:
[Q]: What is your favorite movie?

'Do the Right Thing' hands down.

[Q]: What is your favorite music?

Any kind that I feel in soul. Genre's are invented to sell music. I think Louis Armstrong said it best "there are two types of music, Good & Bad". If it doesn't move me it's bad.

[Q]: What is your favorite YouTube clip?

Drinking With Cups is the most random funny shit too me. Every time I see it I'm rolling.

[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?

Writing, recording, mixing and spending time with family. I have been focused on getting this Music Is My Weapon project finished and ready to go.

[Q]: Final words?

Check out @HasanSalaam on twitter, facebook.com/hasansalaammusic and HasanSalaamMusic.com Walk on Water Peace.
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Johanna And The Dusty Floor

Strong creative woman Johanna & The Dusty Floor is currently on tour with the band Bird Call in support of their album "Northern Lights". Just last year she released her well received debut EP 'The Forest'. During this year she has learned a lot making her more determined and stronger. In this interview you have the chance to get to know the woman behind the music who is not afraid to share her wisdom: "Always be your own truth."

[Q]: First off, congratulations on your new album 'Northern Lights'. What's the story behind the album?

Thanks so much! Well, it is just a sort of travelogue of my life in the past year or so. I traveled a lot during that time and was a little displaced in body and spirit. I just wrote and wrote. These are just a selection of many. The ones I liked the best.

[Q]: What is the meaning behind the title, "Northern Lights"?

There is a song in there Called "Northern Lights" and was dreamed up from a few things. Wanting to go to Iceland, reading the Phillip Pullman stories... I literally woke up one morning with that song, written from start to finish in my head from a dream I had.

[Q]: Your debut EP was only released last November. Are you happy with the result(-s) one year later?

YES! So excited that there has been such a positive response. That's all you can really hope for and I am so proud of the work I have done and the effort I put in to get to this point. I have had such amazing people on my side helping me through my first releases.

[Q]: How does your EP compare with your new full-length album 'Northern Lights'?

Well, the EP was just a small taste with a few songs thrown in that did not make the record. They didn't make it because if the cohesiveness of the full length, but they were still great songs and I loved them and wanted them to be out there. I like that it all turned out that way as the songs from the EP that are not on the full length are a little different which shows another side of me creatively.

[Q]: When creating a track, do you have a set theme and pre-written lyrics, or do you start with an idea or the music first?

None of the above and all of the above. I have a weird connection to my writing spirit. I literally feel the tingle in my hands when a song is coming on. All the good ones (well, the ones I think are good) have all come at once, like a wave and have all come in a whole and finished form. They just spill out of me. I am not good at "trying" to write.

[Q]: You have been studying jazz and listening to all kinds of music. In what way does the listener hear these influences in your music?

I think perhaps you would have to ask the listener for that. I am too close to what I do, so what I hear, is not at all what other people hear in terms of what I feel the influences are that come out. I guess you could say that because I started in the Classical field with Choirs and parts in Operas at an early age, the fact that the music I write is very Harmony driven could be thought of as a direct result of that experience. I have a bit of an 80's pop edge which is I guess because of my love for Kate Bush.

[Q]: Last year you mentioned that you are inspired by powerful body artist Kiki Smith and the conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama. How do you define a strong creative woman?

A strong creative woman to me, is someone who is not afraid to speak her mind or act the way she acts on the inside. Always be your own truth. I am a heart on my sleeve kind of girl, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Especially when it comes to matters of the heart. no one is going to be a bigger supporter than yourself.... so you have to trust your gut and go with it. Women's intuition is a very powerful thing.

[Q]: Can you say that a year after your debut you yourself are a strong creative woman?

I like to think that I have always been one. This experience has only made me more determined and stronger. So, yes.

[Q]: Most artists tend to change their style due to personal 'growth' or other changes in their live. Over the years what has changed your music? What are the negative sides of this change?

I don't think any of it is negative. It's all learning, isn't it? Your mistakes, your downfalls, your highs and success all blend together to help you evolve. We are all constantly evolving as we age. I am looking forward to seeing how the next record will sound because of experiences I have and am having since I wrote these current songs.

[Q]: You have been travelling over the world. How does New York/USA compare to Australia?

It doesn't. Both are completely different and equally as amazing. I will always be an Aussie at heart no matter where I am in the world.

[Q]: How is your tour moving along? What can your listeners and fans expect from your tour?

I am seriously THRILLED at the response! It has been amazing. The venues have been so kind and supportive and the shows have been so well attended seeing as I am a relatively new artist on the scene. I am pleasantly surprised. Listeners can expect a good live show, a fun laugh and some drinks and a few new songs thrown in there.

[Q]: Any tour-event, or fan-moment, you like to share with your readers/fans?

Well, we went and spent two nights on the bass players families plantation in Mississippi. We wrote music and went gator spotting. For a girl from Australia, that was pretty wild.

[Q]: What is your favorite part of your live show?

Just playing with the band and seeing people digging it. It's such a satisfying thing.

[Q]: What is your main goal to reach as an artist?

I would like people to like what I do... Listen to my records and hopefully I will continue to make this a career for years to come.

A couple of 'simple' questions:
[Q]: What is your favorite movie?

That Night.

[Q]: What is your favorite music?

Too hard. WAYYYYYYY TOO HARD

[Q]: What is your favorite YouTube clip?

Go on my Youtube and see my favorites.. I have TONS! www.youtube.com/johannacranitch I am however, quite partial to the "drinking out of cups".

[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?

Band Yoga, Coffee, Drive from State to state, coffee, hotel or friends couch, shower, practice, coffee, play show, wine, coffee, bad cheesy TV and bed.

[Q]: Final words?

Use the force.
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Suicide Silence

Suicide Silence are one of the largest names in the music scene right now and luckily enough for me, I got the exclusive opportunity to speak to Mitch and Mark from the band about their new record '€˜The Black Crown'€™, their time at European Festivals and their spot on the Mayhem Festival this summer! Read on for our exclusive interview!

This is obviously a little soft one to start but you guys do steadily tour all the time. What would you say like are the three things you must have while you'€™re on the road?
Mark: I'€™d need my guitar(laughs), picks and an amplifier.
Mitch: Man I don'€™t know! The main things that we need on tour..I'€™ll go for comfort type things! A pillow, a blanket, shit! Something that'€™s going to make it feel like home when I'€™m trapped in a bus or backstage.
Great!

Then the new CD '€œThe Black Crown'€ comes out next month so really soon!
Mitch: July 12th.
July 12th yes! What would you say is maybe the most like most familiar sounding on this record to Suicide Silence fans and maybe like the most unfamiliar?
Mitch: There'€™s a very unfamiliar song that'€™s called '€˜Witness The Addiction'€™ and it sounds nothing like Suicide Silence has ever done and we have a guest vocalist Jonathan Davis.
Mark: Jonathan Davis of Korn that is!
Mitch: It'€™s like we have this huge entity with Jonathan Davis of Korn singing on it so that'€™s already crazy and the song sounds nothing like a Suicide Silence song so it'€™s super different but then there'€™s a song that is hundred percent a Suicide Silence song. What would you say is a hundred percent Suicide Silence song?
Mark: I think that '€˜Slaves To Substance'€™ the first song on the record is very Suicide Silence-y.
Mitch: It'€™s all really Suicide Silence. That'€™s what we'€™ve done with this record. We created our own sound. We kind of on the last two records we did have just been well that doesn'€™t work, that doesn'€™t work and this is our sound!
Mark: We took everything that we knew that worked on the past records and we just went with that and I know that this is the best record that we'€™ve written and it'€™s going to do well I believe.
Mitch: Yeah! They are actual songs. We actually wrote songs. Not just guitars, guitars, guitars and a song. It'€™s like the repitition is there, the structure is there. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge. It'€™s like actual structured songs. I feel like a lot of bands almost stray away from that now and we went back to it because some of my favorite music is shit that was made twenty years ago. So we know that we'€™re making music that is like what we were influenced by and we just want to make music that we actually like to listen to.

Good answer! Then how do you guys normally go about writing? Is it one person, is it more collective? Did it change for this record?
Mark: It'€™s the whole band. We all have the ability to write an entire song if we wanted to. We'€™re just all so stubborn that if one person wrote a song we would probably hate it. So we all have to put our input into it.
Mitch: We'€™re an actual band. We'€™re five dudes that make a sound so for us to make it sound properly we utilize all five of our dudes and the best way to do that is for all of us to get together and just sit down and write a song together. We get influence from Mark, we get influence from our other guitar player, we get influence from our drummer Alex and we get influence from John King then the last final thing is like putting sprinkles on a cupcake and that'€™s my voice. Every aspect of the band has to be on point and creatively the best and now here we are with '€œThe Black Crown'€!
Mark: We'€™re all pretty harsh on each other. If we don'€™t like it, we don'€™t like it!
Mitch: We'€™ll be like well why don'€™t we try something else or I don'€™t like that part and it ends up sounding better in the long run.
Mark: We all listen to each other too which is pretty jaw dropping because we'€™re all pretty different people but when it comes down to making music, everyone'€™s really supportive of one other and everyone'€™s really good about communicating with each other.

Awesome and then maybe where'€™s one of the stranger like places you guys have found inspiration! Maybe for this record like something some one said or something that happened for a song title or song idea.
Mitch: The inspiration for the record is basically like when you'€™re a full time touring band you go through the whole world and you realize how shitty everything is. For me, it'€™s hard to see a lot of people living in those cities and towns and states their whole life and they'€™ve never really get to see anything because they never leave their bubble but just being able to see the entire world you really realize how shitty everything is, how privileged half of the world is and how the other half lives. It really opens your eyes to want to write things that have meaning to them and any of us to write a song and really take something away from it even if they don'€™t speak English. That they translate it to their language and it'€™s going to mean something to them. They'€™re going to take something away from it!

Awesome and then you said it'€™s really different then the last two records so how do you think it contrasts with the past ones sonically?
Mitch: I mean this being our third record we realized that we tour nine months out of the year every year so now we feel like we know what our fans want to see. With the old fans that come out and even the new fans that have never heard of us before and we play with them. We feel we'€™ve realized what works really well from our live shows. We look at what makes people go insane. We look at what makes people want to scream the word. What makes people just want to have an outlet! Everyone needs an outlet. When you go home and all you see is shit on the news and in the media, like you get angry at every one as an outlet so we wrote music to basically have people come out to a show and release everything they have inside of them and go home and feel ten times better about it!

Then you do already have so much coming up! I know you go in just over a week to Europe and then you'€™re playing Mayhem Fest all of the summer. What are you most looking forward to within these next few months?
Mitch: This is our first time that we'€™re going over to Europe and doing all the European festivals. Like we'€™ve gone down there before and we'€™ve done all the European festivals but this time we'€™re doing the majority of them which is amazing because we'€™ve never had the opportunity to do that. I mean it'€™s just really cool to be at the age where I'€™m playing like main stage at Download Festival and playing a whole lot of festivals and then coming straight from that and going right into a major United States tour with Disturbed, Godsmack and Megadeath. It'€™s just like we'€™re flattered!
Mark: I'€™m also really excited to be headlining that festival in Spain. I feel bad because I don'€™t know the name of it off the top of my head. It'€™s something Fest. I think it'€™s called Ghost Fest but I'€™m not sure.

And then obviously you guys have been touring a lot and with some pretty big names! If you could go out with any three dream bands, who do you think they would be? They could be broken up even.
Mitch: Who'€™s our favorite band that we'€™ve toured with?
Or who would be like your dream three bands to tour with?
Mitch: Dream bands to tour with? Man we'€™ve toured with almost every band that we could have ever dreamed of playing with which is really weird but I would love to tour with like Lamb of God and-
Mark: I hate that question but I mean obviously Pantera would be great to tour with but that would never happen. I mean just to say that we'€™ve toured with like Mudvayne, Slipknot. We'€™ve played shows with Korn, we'€™ll be opening for Megadeath, Slayer. We'€™ve played with Disturbed, Killswitch, I mean there'€™s so many bands that we'€™ve already toured with that it'€™s ridiculous and we'€™re very grateful. I mean you name it! A metal band that is around that we haven'€™t toured with? We'€™ve love to tour with (laughs)!

Awesome and then these may be a little embarrassing but first off what was the first CD or cassette you ever bought as a kid?
Mark: The first, well I bought two CD'€™s, in one day. My first cassettes were home made cassettes recorded off the radio but the first two CD'€™s I ever bought were Coolio'€™s '€™Gangster Paradise'€™ and Red Hot Chili Pepper'€™s '€™Blood Sugar Sex Magic'€™ I bought them in the same day.
Mitch: My dad would come home from work and burn me like cassette tapes and some of the cassettes were like the first Korn record, the self titled Deftones record!
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The Trews

Quite possibly one of the most loved and respected Canadian indie bands The Trews recently released their new record '€˜Hope & Ruin'€™ and lucky for me, I had the chance to sit down with lead vocalist Colin of the band last month to discuss everything to do with the new record'€™s writing process which covers where they recorded it, how the collaborative process went for the band and some of the more different places the band has found inspiration.

As well as discussing '€˜Hope & Ruin'€™ we talked about the band'€™s recent time in the US where they have been steadily playing shows and the growth that they have been experiencing due to the natural progression and hard work the band has put into their band. While they may not have the same audience sizes that they have back home in Canada just yet, they are determined to continue trying to break into the states and that does mean that the Northeast has an excellent chance of seeing them here again before the end of the year. Read on for my exclusive with Colin and definitely pick up the new record!

What are like the three things you must have while on the road to survive touring?
The three things you must have while on the road? Lots of water, exercise and a good book!

Perfect then you just put your new CD. How did that process come about?
Well we all went out to a studio outside of Kingston, Ontario called The Bath House. The studio that belongs to The Tragically Hip which is a really famous Canadian band and we just went out there to demo and it just sort of turned into a record just kind of by accident. We were out there jamming and recording and writing. Before we knew it we had a bunch of songs together and it was very organic.

How do you guys normally go about the songwriting process? Is it one person, more collective of a effort, no set rules?
It'€™s become, as we get further and further, more collaborative. Like this last record it was someone would bring in kind of unfinished ideas, everyone brought something to the table and we kind of just worked on it collectively till we had something that sounded like a good tune. It was always a fun way to go about it and we sort of you know the day would kind of start at noon. We would wake up, we would have some coffee and someone would pull out a riff that they got on a tape recorder and then we would all take the best ones, the best ideas and all worked on it. It was really cool and that'€™s the way the whole album was done.

And then has there ever been a really strange or different place the band has found inspiration? Like for a song idea or a song lyric? Or even like a name of a song?
You know they come at different times. For me, it'€™s usually when I'€™m sitting down, it'€™s about hard work which is hard to get back at it when you'€™ve been on the road for a long time. So when you'€™re sitting around for three or four hours, just fiddling around with ideas like writing an okay song then all of the sudden at the end of something a riff comes out and a lyric and I'€™m like '€™Well, that'€™s pretty cool'€™ and then I won'€™t be able to get it finished and then I'€™ll bring it to the band and those tend to be the best ideas for me. Other then that I'€™ve heard a song that really inspired me. For example, the last track on the album is called '€™You Got To Let Me In'€™ and Jack showed me this Townes Van Zandt song called '€™If I Needed You'€™ and I heard that tune and got immediately inspired to write '€™You Got To Let Me In'€™. I thought it was so pretty and I wanted to write a poetic song like that you know and that'€™s how I got the inspiration. So it comes in all different shapes and sizes. You normally try to write a song that you would like and that comes from the music that you are listening to and your inspirations. That'€™s kind of the way it goes.

Being a Canadian band, how have these shows been in the US for you?
We just played in Lewiston, New York last night and it was a free outdoor show and like thousands of people turned up which is great. In New York City, we had a couple hundred people at the Mercury Lounge and that was good. I mean every time we tour in the US, we have a couple hundred people out. It'€™s not as successful as it is in Canada but I don'€™t know what else you can do. I mean we go down, we play great shows and I think we'€™re playing good music and we still have a career up in Canada so we rely on that financially and stuff but hopefully America will come around. It'€™s been a long time but I don'€™t think we'€™ve even really gotten a fair shot at America still. I don'€™t think we'€™ve ever had a real push at radio. It'€™s definitely always an uphill battle but I know tons of great artists in America that haven'€™t gotten their break either and it doesn'€™t make them any less awesome, you know, so we'€™ll keep plugging away and keep booking gigs along the Northeast and just go down and play for whoever wants to come out.

Well that'€™s how you have to do it and then how do your live shows normally go over? Is it really energetic?
It'€™s all about our live shows! People are always saying that we'€™re a pretty awesome live band. Just pretty electric up there and we take a lot of pride in that and we have a lot of fun doing it. It'€™s our favorite way to present the band and we'€™re better at it then recording. I feel like we'€™re really good at being on stage and rocking. Yeah, we'€™ve been like that for a long time growing up in Canada it was like '€™Come see us live'€™ and that'€™s really connected the band.

Perfect and then like you said you worked on this record in The Tragically Hip'€™s studio but maybe who would be like your dream artist to collaborate with?
I'€™d like to play with like Neil Young. You know, Elvis Costello. Like Aerosmith, AC/DC, David Francis he'€™s a great writer and a great folk singer and I have collaborated with him. He'€™s lesser known but he'€™s equally brilliant.

And then you released the video for '€™Hope and Ruin'€™ which is obviously the title track off the record. How did you come up with the concept for that video?
We put it in the hands of the director. He'€™s done a couple of our videos and he'€™s always done a good job. We didn'€™t have a big budget for it. Nobody does because nobody plays videos anymore but you know he just really liked the idea of me walking through these different landscapes. Set behind this concrete jungle and then we used the setting of rural, rural Nova Scotia and kind of like how both settings kind of symbolize hope and ruin. Kind of making up your mind of how you feel. Some people think it'€™s all about cities and it was kind of a bleak thing. A bleak kind of video but I mean what are you going to do? It'€™s January, one of the coldest days on record and it definitely looked it!

Then these are kind of obviously bringing it back and it'€™s a two part question. What was the first CD or cassette you ever bought then the first concert you went to as a kid?
The first CD I ever got was a Guns and Roses album '€™Appetite For Destruction'€™ and first concert I went to was a band called Rawlins Cross. They are this really great celtic band out of Newfoundland and they were the first real big like celtic rock band and it was pretty cool.

And do you think those first musical experiences influenced you at all today? Maybe you personally or The Trews?
I'€™m sure they had something to do with it. My dad was always really into music and he was always encouraging us to play music around the house which was always pretty cool and we just kind of gradually started to say to ourselves you know we should try doing this for a while. Then we just moved away from our hometown and started playing in bars and next thing you know, we had a record deal, management deal, singles on the radio and it started to work pretty good. I mean I'€™m happy.

Then I know you have a bunch of dates right now and you just played a Canada Day festival and everything but maybe what'€™s coming up with in these next few months? Maybe more touring, maybe taking a little break, what'€™s in the plans with the record being so new?
No rest for the wicked. We'€™re going to finish off this summer just with festivals in Canada then we'€™re going to head over to Australia on September 13th to do a month long tour over there and I think we'€™re going to go to the UK after that and then do a handful of American dates and then we'€™ll reassess from there. See what we'€™re feeling!
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We Came As Romans

It'€™s crazy to think that I'€™ve been steadily writing about the alternative music scene for two years now and one of the bands that has been there the whole way through really is We Came As Romans and luckily enough for me, I have had the opportunity to sit down with the members of the band four times now! Our most recent meeting was with the guitarist and major songwriter for the band Joshua Moore at Warped who I have had the opportunity to talk to one on one three times now and in our latest interview we discussed everything to do with the new record coming September 13th.

To think this is only the sophomore record for the band is insane. Since our first interview with these talented Michigan boys back in February of 2010, the band has grown to incredible heights having several of the bands that they opened for on that tour now open for them and be one of the bands that definitely puts in the most touring hours out of many I have been able to interview. Since then, they continuously grow in the most natural of ways to the point where they currently find themselves killing it every day on Warped Tour and will be hitting the road for their new headlining tour with Of Mice and Men and Miss May I directly afterwards! I'€™m incredibly grateful for the time I have had with the band and only hope to be able to continue our coverage of them in the future.

So you announced it really shortly after our last interview that the record is coming out in September so it'€™s really close. I know you have a large hand in the writing from what I understand, pretty much, you write the words to the songs.
Yep!
A lot of them! How did the writing go for this record maybe in comparison to the first one?
It was tough honestly because we were on the road so much and before when we did '€œTo Plant A Seed'€, we definitely weren'€™t touring as much. I mean we didn'€™t have like the fan base or the following because we released our four song EP and that only goes so far. You can only listen to that on repeat so many times before you'€™re ready for new music and so a lot of the writing was done on the road and all the lyrics I wrote on the road. Thankfully, in like last October/November we went to Europe and then we were in Australia in December and inbetween those two trips I was able to write a good majority of the CD but for the lyrics, really all the lyrics were written on the road. Besides I think two of the songs I wrote in the studio. Just because they would be like '€˜Oh we'€™re recording this song tomorrow'€™ and I was like '€˜Oh alright well I guess I'€™ll go write the lyrics in my bedroom right now'€™. I mean I have some stupid notebook app on my phone that I always write down a bunch of ideas in so when we got back from Europe, I was home for ten hours got home at like 11:30 at night and then went to bed and woke up at eight in the morning and drove to the studio and so like all the ideas that had been brewing I just didn'€™t have time to do. I mean we got to the studio and started tracking guitars and programming the next day. So it was just a lot of work and then after we got done tracking guitars, I was like okay I can finally put all these ideas into songs so other then that all the lyrics were written a lot of them on Gamechangers Tour. From my top bunk in the bandwagon. Yeah I actually have a little note book that I wrote every thing down in that we may auction off or something.
Oh really?
Because it'€™s all the first sets of all the lyrics and of course some of the lyrics changed through it but it'€™s like the first sets of all the lyrics and all my ideas of like how the vocals should go and everything. So I don'€™t know it'€™s kind of weird. I hope that, I don'€™t know for sure, but I hope that other lyricists in bands do handwrite their lyrics. It gives it a little more emotion.

Then this is a little different but our first interview was at The Emptiness where you were one out of five and then The Word Alive ended up opening for you and then I know it'€™s just a rumor but I'€™ve heard that Of Mice is possibly opening for you.
Yeah!
You guys have grown so, so much since that first interview. I mean I think we'€™re four.
I think four.
Are we four?
Yeah!
Because the first one was four of you guys like Dave was there and Andy.
Gamechangers was our third so this would be fourth.
But you'€™ve obviously grown so much since then. I know like I said it'€™s just a rumor with Of Mice opening for you but you were one out of five at that point. What'€™s been like the biggest moment for you, like the one that stands out the most in such a short amount of time?
Just being able to do what we do and then seeing the response. I mean we released two songs on iTunes and one of them we play it live called '€˜Misunderstanding'€™. It was on the top ten charts and then two days ago it was on the front page of iTunes. It was recommended and stuff. It'€™s weird to see that. Even like three months ago, it wouldn'€™t have been that way. Our growth just keeps happening and it'€™s just awesome. I know it'€™s not like because we'€™re so awesome dudes. We have just great fans. I mean we do signings every day where there'€™s kids that are just so stoked to meet us because they say that we'€™ve had influence on them and stuff and that'€™s more than I could ever ask for. Knowing that our lyrics and our music is actually reaching out to kids. It'€™s awesome and hopefully that just continues. I mean it'€™s kind of the whole point of the band so if it didn'€™t continue, I don'€™t really see the point of being around anymore.

Perfect then maybe on this record, what would you say is the most familiar sounding song for past fans of the band and the most unfamiliar?
Well on the new CD, on over probably three fourths of the CD, it is in completely lower tuning then '€˜To Plant A Seed'€™. So I guess there'€™s some of it that sounds a bit heavier but I feel like we still did songs in Drop D which is what '€˜To Plant A Seed'€™ was recorded in. I feel like when kids listen to it, they'€™re still going to be able to tell that it'€™s us. I mean hopefully. We'€™ve been trying to establish a sound that is We Came As Romans and we try not to stray far from that sound but at the same time, you can'€™t really be contained in just what that is. I mean no one'€™s trying to make To Plant A Seed Volume Two in September. They want to hear something different and so hopefully with the music I mean they'€™ll still be able to tell it'€™s us but it'€™s a progression of us. I mean just as we'€™ve grown as people and we'€™ve grown as a band. I mean they directly link to each other. I mean I feel like I'€™ve grown as a person. I hope! It would be really bad if I didn'€™t actually after all this talk about planting seeds and growing and all of that I mean. I got to practice what I preach, you know?

And then how much do you like, I can cut this out if you want, write really? Like how much of a hand do you have in writing?
I write all the lyrics and then I write, for '€˜Understanding What We'€™ve Grown To Be'€™, I'€™ve written all the music as well. Eric ended up writing his drum parts. He sat down with Joey and perfected them and everything which is great because I don'€™t know how to play drums and I'€™m terrible at that. I write the songs and I'€™d just kind of demo drum parts just to kind of get an idea of like how I saw the songs developing in my head then he would go and do his own thing with them and like add the character I guess that was We Came As Romans to it but as far as the music goes, I wrote all of it. There'€™s actually one song on the CD that Joey and I wrote together in the studio that'€™s awesome because that'€™s something that we'€™ve really wanted to do and we didn'€™t have a chance to do it with To Plant A Seed and Joey and I worked really well together and I'€™m really stoked on that song. There'€™s a song that barely made it on the CD that I wrote while in Europe after we had already spent a month in the studio. I wrote this song in Europe and we came back and I was like '€˜Alright Joey I really want to put this song on the CD'€™ and I'€™m really stoked it actually ending up making it. But yeah, like I said, I write all the lyrics and stuff but it'€™s not like all the words are just my personal thing. I write all the lyrics in my little book that I mentioned and then actually on the Gamechangers tour, I ended up showing it to all the band and they were really stoked on them. It was like they had written it themselves. They were really, I guess easily relatable, to the rest of the dudes in the band so if someone listens to us, it'€™s not like '€˜Oh I'€™m listening to Josh Moore'€™s words'€™ it'€™s '€˜I'€™m listening to We Came As Romans'€™ and how we feel as a band. Otherwise I wouldn'€™t write it. What we do as a band represents all six of us. Not just any one member. So I guess that'€™s that!

Then where are you guys this summer on Warped, like where can kids find you?
We play the Advent stage. Different time every day. We find out at like nine in the morning then we normally do at least two signings every day. Like two normally two hours apart just in case kids miss the first one. Normally one at our merch table and then we'€™ve signed at like Keepabreast or Music Saves Lives. Just different tents. We'€™ve signed at the EqualVision tent. Like today I think we'€™re signing at Substream tent so I mean we'€™ll be around. We'€™re always around.

Then what'€™s coming up? I know you have the rumored fall tour. I don'€™t know what to say (laughs).
(Laughs) You'€™ll be fine! It hasn'€™t been announced but I mean like the dudes in Of Mice and Miss May I have been saying it in interviews. I'€™ve seen fliers on the ground with dates on it.
That'€™s what I was going to say! Because I'€™ve already done Miss May I today and Levi almost dropped it and I stopped him.
Levi'€™s said it in like every other interview but I mean yeah we'€™re headlining with Of Mice and Men, Miss May I, Texas In July and then Close To Home and that starts the day our CD releases. September 13th!
Does that come to Massachusetts?
I hope so it should. I mean I see no reason why not. Every time we play here it'€™s just awesome. So I mean it would kind of suck if it didn'€™t.

So you have that tour. Is there anything coming up after that? I mean I'€™m sure you'€™re touring!
Yeah we'€™re booked like through next year. Like probably through the next like six months right now. There'€™s nothing that I'€™m allowed to say. I'€™m not going to pull a little Levi Benton and start announcing tours that I can'€™t and I hope Levi reads this and understands. Hopefully! No, Levi'€™s one of my best friends! I'€™ll just go beat him up later. I know where he sleeps.
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Go Radio

To go from interviewing the heaviest bands to folk to ska to the next band Go Radio is the best thing about Warped Tour press! Lucky for me during my time at Warped this summer, I was able to catch up with Jason Lancaster who doubles as the lead vocalist and major songwriter for the band Go Radio who have been winning over new hearts every show!
While I may have seen the band croon their way inbetween heavier acts like Chiodos and Emarosa to their time with more similar A Rocket To The Moon to their headlining tour with Sparks The Rescue, every time the crowd is won over despite the acts that may surround them on the bill. Being a band filled with wordsmiths, I was instantly sold on this act as a huge fan of words clearly as can be seen in what I do so I was grateful for the opportunity to catch up with Lancaster at Warped this summer where we talked about some of the things and events he'€™s inspired by to what he needed with him on Warped Tour this summer and how the experience has been!

Quick question to start! What are the three things you made sure to have while on Warped Tour?
My Xbox, my toiletries bag and my acoustic! Those are all super important things.

And then '€˜Lucky Street'€™ has been out for about four months. I mean it'€™s still really, really new but you'€™ve been playing these shows, you'€™ve been touring! You did the headliner tour, you did the Rocket tour. How has it been going over so far?
It'€™s been going amazing. You know like kids are really getting into it. It'€™s something we were kind of worried about at first. Like is the message going to be gotten, you know? Are people going to understand it? And it is! It'€™s going over really well and we'€™re really excited about it.

Then being a band that is known for their way with words, what'€™s been one of the like stranger places that the band has found inspiration?
You know like everything inspires all the time. Like if you wake up in a bad mood, that'€™s something to write about and it might not turn into something that makes it onto the record but I write about everything. I think probably the best place that I'€™ve found inspiration so far, besides from my father, was our friend Carly. Carly passed from cancer not too long ago and just the amount of inspiration that I'€™ve gotten not just from that happening but just like reviewing her life in general. Just how happy she was and also all the things that we would take for granted on a daily basis that she would just always be with it. She loved everything it was amazing.

Then I know you'€™ve written '€˜Forever My Father'€™ with your brother Daniel who has his own band as well. Has it ever been really hard to play those songs live?
Yeah absolutely!
Being about something so recent.
Yeah it'€™s always hard to play live. Whenever you'€™re on stage, you tend to relive those moments and that'€™s never something you want to go back to but you kind of have to sometimes.

Then maybe what'€™s been the biggest lesson so far as a band on your first Warped Tour together this summer?
Bring a lot of sunscreen I guess (laugh). You know Warped Tour is a good place to be. The amount of camaraderie that goes down here every day is just incredible. You know the bands looking out for other bands and friends looking out for other friends. People who you didn'€™t even know who were your friends will be out here and be like '€˜Oh I'€™ve been listening to your band forever and you'€™re such a huge part of my day in general'€™. We'€™re like '€˜Oh that'€™s crazy because I like your band as well'€™. It'€™s just like, what (laughs)?

And then maybe where can kids find you this summer? I think you'€™re playing on the Nintendo stage and are you going to be doing signings and everything?
Yeah we do signings every day! After our set, we always go back to our merch tent to do signings and then randomly we'€™ll have other tent signings. Like today we'€™re at AP Tent and then back at our tent at 6:10!

Then what'€™s coming up with in the next few months for the band? Are you going to be touring more? Are you going to be taking a break at all?
Yeah we'€™re just touring! Touring is exciting. We can'€™t let out where we'€™re going yet but yeah we'€™re definitely doing it. It'€™s going to be huge! We'€™re really excited!
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River City Extension

While the main stage this summer at Warped may seem to be dominated by the latest in hardcore, some other stages on the tour are providing an excellent alternative be it pop rock to the best in guitars to this next band who definitely stand out on their own during the tour! That band is River City Extension which sings to the tune of an eight member line up and are quite possibly one of my personal favorites on the tour.
We initially sat down with Joe the incredibly talented lead singer and founder of the band during their time with Dashboard Confessional last fall and since then they have been steadily touring with The Get Up Kids to now just finishing Warped Tour and then going out with Alkaline Trio all month. With plans to record their new record, the band shows no signs of stopping any time soon so definitely check them out!

I want to say this is the second or third day-
Second day!
Second day. It'€™s so new so what are you most looking forward to being on the tour?
I am looking forward to going to Canada. I am looking forward to seeing Relient K and I am looking forward to breakfast tomorrow! Those are the top three things I'€™m looking forward to right now!

Great one, I like that! Then you'€™ve steadily toured with the Get Up Kids and Dashboard Confessional who are really big bands .What would you say are like the three things that you must have while on the road?
The three what?
Three things you must have to survive on tour.
On tour? Three things you must have to survive on tour.
Maybe being in such a big band people wise.
You have to have bottled water. It sounds silly but it'€™s something to always have in your van. You have to sleep and you have to not take everything seriously because it'€™s a really stressful environment. You have to have patience, you have to have water and you have to get sleep. Those are the most important things.

Then you have grown to be such a big line up being the eight of you so was that always the intent of the project? Because I know you started on your own.
I think when we got to eight, that was when I felt like I knew. I was like '€˜Alright, well that'€™s what I was looking for'€™. Before that, we had played with more and with less but it felt like we had just found the right group of people.

And then you have the split with Kevin Devine but is there a chance of another LP coming soon?
Yeah! We'€™re working on another record in October. We'€™re tracking in October, mixing in November and the record will be out the beginning of next year. Second full length record!

And these are a little bit different. What was the first CD or cassette you ever bought and the first concert you went to?
The first what?
The first CD or first cassette and then the first concert, do you think those influenced you?
The first cassette I can'€™t remember but it was probably, I grew up in the church, so it was probably some type of church music. My first concert that I ever saw was Relient K, Five Iron Frenzy at the Asbury Park convention center and I think that'€™s why I'€™m so excited to be there. Because that was on my thirteenth birthday and I turned twenty three in September so I haven'€™t seen Relient K in almost a decade which is wild to think about but I'€™m just so glad they'€™re still around. They'€™ve always been one of my favorite bands.
Will today be the first day you get to see them play?
Well, hopefully! Hopefully I see them play it might be tomorrow. Our set times are a little close today.

And then where can kids find you this summer? Like what stage are you playing and everything?
We'€™re playing the Kevin Says Stage. The time changes every day but you can check our twitter account which is @rvrctyext and we'€™ll be posting times on there daily.

And then are you going to be touring again after Warped Tour? Going to be focusing on the record, what'€™s going to be going on?
Yeah we'€™re actually going to be touring up until the recording. We are doing the Newport Folk Festival after this and then we have a short run with our friends in Alkaline Trio and a band called The Smoking Popes which is in August and I'€™m really looking forward to that and we'€™re going out with friends of ours Apache Relay in September. Then after September, we'€™ll take a week or two off and then we'€™re going out West to do some recording.
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