The one where I talk about The Empty Hearts

The coolest thing about the location of my old shop was that I was close enough to stop by Andy Babiuk’s Fab Gear. To the locals, the shop may have served as a convenience for musicians to pick up a pack of strings and ogle the Rickenbackers or Fenders adorning the walls. Not to mention the memorabilia. Records signed from Beatles members and other faces from the yesteryears of garage rock grace the walls. Atop a glass coffee table, are stacks of Babiuk’s published works: The Story Of Paul A. Bigsby: The Father Of The Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar, Beatles Gear and the latest Rolling Stones Gear. From the days of The Chesterfield Kings to being a published author and a consultant for the film Not Fade Away (it’s because of him, all the instruments in the film were sourced to show time period authenticity!), Babiuk is a good friend of Steven Van Zandt, so it only came natural that he’d offer what would be the band name for Babiuk’s next venture.

My brother would frequent Fab Gear more than I was able to—but either way—we would be regaled with tour stories, anecdotes about The Ramones and the writing process of his books. We heard about this new band he was putting together, but he was mum on the members. Of course, with the contacts Andy knew, it had to be good. At a later point, we did learn who was in the band and that they were in town recording the album nearby.

My brother and I flipped. Elliot Easton (The Cars), Clem Burke (Blondie) and Wally Palmar (The Romantics) are in town working on this album. Oh, and Ed Stasium (producer for The Ramones and many, many others) is producing.
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It was not long after, I walked into Fab Gear, while my brother was already there. As I opened the door to the tiny space, I was blasted with music. When the song stopped, Andy replied, with a slightly annoyed face. “That was a rough cut,” he sighed and started making note of what needed to be changed.

I was shocked that THAT was a rough cut.

Andy was in and out of the shop after that, flying out to LA for promo photos and promoting Stones Gear throughout the country. The same day The Connection came to visit both of our shops in May, was the day the news was released about the band name and the who’s who in the band.

The Empty Hearts. From the sacred offering of Little Steven Van Zandt’s collection of unused band names.

Fast forward to last night. The band has been in town for about a week and rehearsing heavily before they hit a few eastern-US dates and Japan. A special show at Sticky Lips Juke Joint was promoted all over local radio and news outlets (and even front page news on Monday’s Democrat and Chronicle). A packed beer and barbecue crowd waited for a new rock ‘n’ roll Fab Four to come up on stage. When they did, an hour and a half of heavy, solid and tight rock ‘n’ roll hit us in the face. Opening with the first cut on the album “Driving 90 Miles an Hour Down a One-Way Street,” the crowd ate it up like the pulled pork they must have consumed earlier. Then, we were treated to the Car’s favorite, “Just What I Needed.” Tossing a couple Cars and Romantics tunes, including “What I Like About You” into the set was the perfect end to a Tuesday night.

The Empty Hearts hit the first date of their tour tomorrow night.

 

 

 

Photo from The Empty Hearts website

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Spotlight on: Dan Vapid and the Cheats

Photo by Katie Hovland www.katiehovland.com/

Photo by Katie Hovland
http://www.katiehovland.com/

I never gave myself the opportunity to write my praises for Dan Vapid and the Cheats’ first album, but since my sparkly new copy of “Two” arrived in the mail, both albums have been on heavy rotation.

I hate using the word “scene,” but within the punk and pop-punk genres, Vapid is known for his contributions to Screeching Weasel, The Methadones, The Mopes, a stint with the Queers, and my personal favorite–The Riverdales. I have always been a fan of the Vapid-written tunes, so when I heard about the formation of the Cheats, I was expecting exactly where the Riverdales could have left off after Tarantula. In fact, what I noticed was brief strains of Riverdales with a whole new personality. With songs like “Girl Group” and “Ooh-La-La,” I fell in love with the less punk/more pop approach that musicians like Kurt Baker are doing nowadays. The guitars still chug and lyrically there is a maturity in the songwriting.

Now, with “Two” I approached this record with that feeling I get with every band’s second offering. Am I going to like it? And more importantly, am I going to find myself comparing it to the first album and wondering what they could have done to make it better or similar to the first?

I gave it a good, hard, honest listen. Nothing stuck at first, of course I was hearing these songs for the first time. Then I slept on it, literally because I listened to it while I worked before I hit the sack. The next morning, I had “Miracle Drug” stuck in my head. Hey, if a song can do that to me after a couple listens, you have won me over completely. I’ve had a few of the other catchy tracks take over my mind the last few days, but as a package, I enjoy the album as one long track. Dan Vapid has an sense of writing style that impresses me and always has. It amazes me to create infectious tunes while keeping a sense of reality when you’re predecessors and influences sang about beating on brats with baseball bats or Ursula’s new front-end endowment. Brilliant in their own right, of course, but this breathes in a breath of fresh air to the punk genre and sub-genres.

Dan Vapid and the Cheats

 

 

 

Not Fade Away

not-fade-away01I did not know about the film “Not Fade Away” until one evening in December at Andy Babiuk’s Fab Gear. Andy told me about his role as a consultant on finding all of the vintage gear that had to be accurate for the film. Steven van Zandt had gotten him the gig on the feature film project of Soprano’s creator, David Chase.

Just like any punk band today who has discovered religion through the Ramones, this story winds back to the previous decade, when the United States were introduced to four mop-tops and Cuban heel boots. In fact, the character, Douglas (played by John Magaro) catches the rock ‘n’ roll bug after seeing the Rolling Stones play their US televison debut on Dean Martin’s “Hollywood Palace” in 1964. After starting a band, the story continues to chronicle their ups and downs through the decade.

Now, back to Steven Van Zandt, who was the music supervisor and executive producer of the film, picked an excellent selection of songs to be showcased. He also worked the actors–not one a musician–to play from scratch and be able to play like a band. The movie takes place in one of the most pivotal moments in American history: Kennedy, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War…the references are there, but Chase stays clearly adhered to the music.

For the audience looking to see James Gandolfini doing anything but Tony Soprano, is a stretch. He’s old school, takes his anger out on his wife and son (tells him he looks like “he just got off the boat”), but is under the stress of small business ownership struggles.

For a coming-of-age tale, the film is shot using natural lighting and heavy shadow work to create a gloomy mood. It’s artsy-yet-fitting for a film encased with a range of emotions.

What is ironically refreshing at the end is the lack of seeing the band “make it.” There are too many happy endings or lessons learned where a band grows big and enter the turbulent world of drugs, sex, more drugs, death, spouses, children and every other “reality” of bands from the days of yore.

Spotlight on: The Connection

Not since the 1960s have we seen another group of mop-topped, suit-wearing fellas playing catchy tunes. The Connection, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based band has concocted a cocktail of early Beatles pop, the psychedelia of the Chesterfield Kings, the rock of the Rolling Stones and the punk flair of the Ramones and New York Dolls that satiates the need for a refreshing sound.

That effervescent and bubbly sound is so appealing, it even caught the attention of Steve Van Zandt, two songs chosen to be hailed “Coolest Song in the World” in just a matter of months. In the realm of garage rock, getting the attention from Bruce Springsteen’s right-hand man speaks volumes. Not bad at all…

Catch the “Comes and Goes” this Sunday April 7 on The Underground Garage (for Sirius XM subscribers) be played as the current “Coolest Song in the World.”

Find The Connection here.

Like The Connection on Facebook.

a pop-punk break from an otherwise reclusive lifestyle

I’m honestly surprised that I did not get the chance to write about this sooner…like last week. I finally broke free from the routine for a quick blip to see Masked Intruder, The Queers and Teenage Bottlerocket.

Seeing Joe Queer is a once- or twice-a-year occasion for us, since we met officially back in 2009. He recorded my brothers’ and best friend’s band, The Anderson Stingrays in 2010 after hearing a demo. Since then, Mr. Queer and company has made stops in either Rochester or Buffalo while on tour, and we get a brief opportunity to catch up on the goings-on in all of our lives. I’ve also made it a habit, that is expected now to bring goods from the shop to give to the guys….a sweet and pleasant stray from the fast food nosh while on tour.

The Anderson Stingrays opened the show, by Joe’s request. I hate using the word SURREAL because I find it overused by celebrities and such, but seeing my brothers absolutely in awe of being able to share a stage with their favorite bands was the ultimate tops. From a chance meeting a few years back, to now an opening gig, time has really evolved.

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Before the show, we were chatting with Brandon, the drummer for Teenage Bottlerocket. He was familiar with the venue, having played at the Bug Jar eight years prior (I was there!) when TBR was just an opening band for Chixdiggit! Brandon let Matt (drummer and older brother) use his kit. Like a kid in a candy store, he’s now obsessed with Brandon’s acrylic custom kit. As people were milling around, they stood at the stage, talking about drum kits. Brandon’s SJC offers a great sound. Sharp and solid pop sounds. Made for a great-sounding set. Between TBR’s generous offer of a drum kit and cabinets, this set was the best ever. Nerves aside. My dad, a drummer himself, usually stands in the back at gigs as an observer. He focuses on the sound, listens for mistakes. He’s like a coach for the band, offering suggestions for a future gig. He totally did not have any this time! Flawless set. Awesome tear down as well (no equipment to worry about).

So next up was Masked Intruder. I have heard so many things about these guys from friends from the Midwest. Understandable, since they hail from Madison, WI. This colorful masked band is the ultimate poppy-punk. I see the generation gap between these guys and The Queers. Whereas Queers are Ramones/Beach Boys, Masked Intruder is Descendents and Chixdiggit. In fact, I turned to my friend as we watched these guys and said, “These guys are like a mix of Descendents, Beatnik Termites and…”

“Chixdiggit,” he finished.

“Exactly!”

Intruder Blue sounds just like KJ Jansen.

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Next of course, were the Queers. Joe has been wanting to play more of the poppier stuff from Munki Brain or Punk Rock Confidential, but the crowd still loves to sing about Ursula’s tits and drinking Bud. The biggest surprise, was actually hearing “Don’t Back Down” thrown into the set.

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To end the night, Teenage Bottlerocket blasted through a kickass set. Reminiscing about their last visit in the ROC eight years ago and their evolution from opener to headliner…

It was awesome to hear them pull out a couple Lillingtons tunes.

I have been to a countless amount of shows, and I do have to say that this was one of the best pop-punk shows I’ve ever been to (right up there with Riverdales/Manges/Huntingtons). I did learn one major lesson that I will have to carry out into the next show…..

Bring more cupcakes. At least one for every band member in each of the bands. Lesson learned.

I-IV-V,

Lyndsey

Interview with Mark Lind

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When it comes to ambition, Boston musician Mark Lind has it. The passion this guy has for music runs through his bones. Just in his late teens when he started the Ducky Boys after the adolescent love affair we all had when Rancid and Green Day broke out on the scene. The Boys had developed popularity with the help of Ken Casey and Dropkick Murphys.

Lind has also released music with his brother Rob, of Blood For Blood. A Victory Records release for Sinners and Saints, The Sky is Falling was a different direction from the street punk style the Ducky Boys had performed. After disbanding, Lind formed Dirty Water, another band that would bring back the rawness of Boston street rock.

Mark is a machine of never-ending lyrical spewing. He proved this when the Ducky Boys rejoined and released Three Chords and the Truth then The War Back Home. Not long after, leftover songs were recorded as a solo album and EP, Death or Jail and Compulsive Fuck Up, respectively. After gigging the material and playing with Jay Messina (Ducky Boys) and Jeff Morris and Mike Savitkas (The Bruisers), the foursome took it to the next level, playing out and recording two full-length albums as Mark Lind and the Unloved, The Truth Can Be Brutal and Homeward Bound.

Presently, the Ducky Boys are back with a new album, Chasing the Ghost—the first in six years. It was released not long into the new year. A few short months later, in May, the band released Chemicals, a 4-track digital download on Bandcamp.

This past summer the Ducky Boys held a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to release another album. Lind and Doug Sullivan (Ducky Boys) created State Line records, to provide a platform for other artists to get their music out in a grassroots, not-for-profit manner. The newest DB album will also be released through their latest endeavor. Fortunately, the funds needed were acquired and a new album and new releases from other bands are officially a go.

Lind continues to be active in the social media platforms to let the fans and donors know the status as the process unfolds.

(((Like the Mark Lind and the Ducky Boys Facebook pages.)))

The Interview

Since I’ve been overwhelmingly busy with owning a business, promoting a book and starting my own media distribution business, I’m finally getting around to posting this interview, which Mark and I did last year, so keep in mind some of the timing or events have passed. Away we go!

LD: Recently, the Ducky Boys seemed to have reassembled and just finished recording a new album. How did this come to be?

ML: It was just one of those things that happened. I had studio time booked. We had talked about making a new record a dozen times over the years and it just never happened. And then I shot them an email about the studio time I had booked and the timing happened to be right. We initially just planned to record a 7″ but unexpected events in my life (IE upheavals) tapped a well of creativity that I didn’t know existed. I thought the old oil field had just about run dry when I happened upon another hot spot. That turned the idea of a 7″/EP into a full blown album and the longest album we’ve ever done.



LD: How is this record going to be different from the rest?

ML: We went into the studio to make the best Ducky Boys’ record that we could. We choose to develop and hopefully improve with each album but we’re not gonna suddenly release a reggae album or anything. We know what we do and I think we do it well at this point. Our first four records had a consistent path to them. With “No Gettin Out” we really didn’t know what we were doing from a songwriting or recording perspective so we offered a very simple and basic snapshot of what we were. We improved on “Dark Days” and we managed to harness some sort of youthful energy on that record that resonated with people. That was also the record where our message started to come into focus. “Three Chords and the Truth” comes out swinging with a ton of energy but with improved song structure and melody. Then “The War Back Home” has us toying within the parameters that we built a little bit…. still energetic but also less attack at times. This new record, which we’re calling “Chasing the Ghost”, follows our last album by 5 years. There was also a 5+ year gap between “Dark Days” and “Three Chords and the Truth”. I think people will agree after hearing this that when we come out of hibernation we come out of it hungry. There is also some return to our oldest styles on this record in ways that may not be apparent upon first listen. With the last two albums we took our time and crafted the songs. Some of them followed a very Beatles-esque pop formula that bands like Weezer and Green Day follow. This time out I let the songs lead me to where they were going. There are many songs on this record that have no bridges or key changes or anything like that. They just blast through from start to finish in the ways we did on our first demo and on “No Gettin Out”. I really think there’s something on there for people that have liked any of our previous records. But we’re also acting our age and not trying to be 18 again. You just can’t turn back the clock like that.

 

LD: You have been posting vlogs via YouTube entitled the “Mother Goose Sessions” where you talk about the origins of your songs. I’ve noticed authors do this for marketing purposes, do you do this for the same reason? Or is it another way to connect with fans on a personal level? Or both?

ML: Well after 25 songs I changed the name of it to War-Storyville” which is both a pun on me having War Stories to tell and a tribute to the US bombs who had a song by that name. I guess that came about in a couple of ways. I did an interview where the person wanted to know what two songs, “On the Outside” and “Nothing At All”, were about. I didn’t really want to answer that question because I thought it might color his perspective of the songs or reveal it to be about something to me that it wasn’t about to me. The more I thought about it after the fact I realized that there was no harm in sharing those stories as long as I was clear that these were the stories that inspired me at the time but that the songs don’t belong to me anymore and people can assign any meaning they see fit for themselves. The other event that came up happened at work. A woman I work with heard about the music I make outside of work and she searched for me on Google and found all this info about me including the music videos for “Everything Falls Apart” and “New Years Day”. She approached me and asked me how I did it because she had no concept of how songwriting is done. I found myself telling her something very similar to what Bruce Springsteen tells the audience on his Storytellers DVD about the song “Devils & Dust”. Just watching the visual queues on her face as I explained it made me realize that a lot of people didn’t have or understand this limited ability that I’ve been given the chance to indulge myself in. So I thought I would revisit that interviewer’s request to explain a couple of the songs. And that’s pretty much the history of that. I do also enjoy the interaction with the people that follow my page on Facebook and YouTube and all of those sites. What used to take 6 months to share with people through the recording process and the release process can now be shared in minutes and you get immediate feedback. And, believe me, that sort of feedback is what keeps people like me doing this crap after all these years. It certainly ain’t for the money.



LD: I know you have been very outspoken before about your appreciation towards Bruce Springsteen. What it is about “the Boss” that you find appealing as a musician?

ML: I had the “Born in the USA” cassette back in 1984 or 1985 and I rediscovered it in 1997 after my brother, Rob, mentioned listening to it the night before while having a few drinks. He really sold me on checking it out again and it was all downhill from there. Bruce’s sound is just in my wheelhouse in some ways. He sings like a dude that doesn’t know how to sing but has to because if he doesn’t then no one else will sing his tunes. And he writes the most simple songs at times but just decorates the hell out of them with the virtuoso musicianship of his band mates. Don’t get me wrong…. some of that stuff is very complex and way over my head but some of it is deceptively simple. I’ve seen him live about a dozen times and the last time I saw him was August 2009. I had pit tickets with my girlfriend at the time. What I mean by pit tickets is that there was an area up front where about 200 people had general admission and we were lucky enough to get tickets for that section. She made a sign that requested the song “I’m Going Down”. Bruce saw her sign and made the crowd part so she could walk up and hand it to him. And she was tiny so I was holding her up and had to carry her through the crowd. He collected a few more signs but then pulled hers out and showed it to the band and the crowd and the place went bananas for her request. Then he launched into it. Since he had told the crowd to move for us we were then right up front. A few songs later Bruce invited Ken Casey out on stage to sing a duet of “American Land” with him. Ken and I made eye contact but I was in complete disbelief. There was a guy I had known for 15 years singing a duet with my musical idol. When I was a kid I would have been jealous and envious but at that moment I just felt like Ken was representing the musical ambitions of every small time rock n’ roller I knew. The whole night was so surreal to me and this just capped it off. Ken walked off stage and I immediately got a text message from him that said something like “as if I wasn’t shitting enough bricks I had to stare at your judging face the whole time”. haha. I really wasn’t judging him. Ken was my hero for those 5 minutes and the whole night was so amazing that I didn’t even put on another Bruce record for almost 2 years. I mean…. what could beat that night? It wasn’t until I recently went through a break up that I reconnected with Bruce’s music on a more personal level. No matter what happens to me in life…. no matter where I go….. no matter what kind of music I’m playing…. I will always have a huge spot in my heart for that guy’s music. He just understands the human condition in ways that he may not even fully be aware of consciously. And I think that’s why people like me and so many millions of more people love what he does.



LD: Can you tell me what has been your biggest “rock star” moment?

ML: I’ve had many moments of great fortune but I guess the biggest rock star moment happened at Suffolk Downs about 12 years ago. Dropkick Murphys were on tour supporting “The Gang’s All Here” and they were co-headlining the second stage along with Shane MacGowan at an Irish Festival. Of course, they would be headlining it now but this was a long way back. They allowed me to tag along and I was out in the crowd walking around and enjoying the sights in the company of one Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ fame. This was 1999 when the Bosstones were the undisputed kings of Boston music. I mean… their success spilled over onto Dropkick Murphys which spilled over onto us other local bands so it all circled back to the Bosstones at the time. Anyway, Dicky and I were walking and these two or three kids freaked out and came running over to us. Assuming that they recognized Dicky I just stopped to politely wait while he did his thing. But the hilarious part was that they didn’t even recognize Dicky and they wanted me to sign their tickets. It was very strange and I remember looking over their shoulder seeing Dicky smiling from ear to ear either at them for being kids or me for being like a deer in headlights. After they left we walked the rest of the way to the DKM area and he just gave me shit all the way there. In a good way. Dicky is one of the good guys and I have a lot of love and respect for that dude. But he had himself a good laugh that day and I’m still here to remind him of it. Ha.

 

LD: Are you reading anything at the moment?

ML: From a Buick 8by Stephen King but I haven’t been doing a ton of reading lately.

 

LD: So my book, Flour City Blues is about a 17-year old who start his senior year of high school in a new town. He starts a band, crushes on the French girl and basically loads of teenage hijinks occur. What were you like at 17-18?

ML: I remember it like it was yesterday. The age of 17 was exactly half my lifetime ago but it feels like yesterday. I was a dork. I was really into bands like Rancid and Green Day, the Bruisers and the Anti-Heros and I was just starting to think about starting my own band. I remember that “Dookie” was all the rage then and it had a song that said “Seventeen and strung out on confusion” and I remember thinking Green Day were geniuses that could see into the minds of everyone my age.



LD: What’s ahead for Mark Lind?

ML: God only knows. Better days I hope.


Thanks, Mark for taking the time to answer the questions

I gave Mark the opportunity to ask me a question, whether about myself or my book, see what he asks and read my answer in a future post.

Three chords and the truth,

Interview with Kurt Baker

I first discovered Kurt Baker’s existence and talent via the pop-punk world through a little band called The Leftovers. I had heard some tracks from “On the Move” and “Eager to Please,” an interview with Kurt on Ben Weasel’s Weasel Radio podcast a few years back and finally, learning more about the band from drummer Adam Woronoff who came to town filling in on drums for The Queers during their 2009 tour.

I was instantly hooked on The Leftovers’ Elvis Costello pop vibe that made me wonder why this was not the biggest thing at the time. Something this catchy deserves some attention! It was toe-tapping, real, honest music—about girls and having a good time. Isn’t that the basis to every good song mixed in with three chords?

Due to differences, The Leftovers dissolved and Kurt continued to make rocking his living. Starting the Kurt Baker Band, fans of The Leftovers and new discoverers could be turned on to that 1970’s power-pop, mod garage mash-up that makes Baker’s songs excellent hooks.

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Kurt was wonderful enough to answer some questions for me to celebrate the release of Flour City Blues! The interview we did was actually sometime last year when I didn’t think there was going to be such a delay on the book, so release dates have already passed. Enjoy!

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Being on tour, both national and international, what place do you find gets the most positive vibe and biggest draws?

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I’ve always LOVED touring in the Midwest. Maybe it’s because I have some roots in Wisconsin, but I always end up having a blast whenever we’re doing shows in Chicago, Milwaukee…well, anywhere in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio! I don’t know, maybe it’s because they have really great beers and fine cheeses out that way. The bands are always so good too, and people are down to earth. We played this little club in Milwaukee last May called Circle A. The owners lived upstairs and ran this place that was covered in vinyl and it just was the best time ever. Good vibes for sure. I also love playing Spain! The fans there are so into the music and they really appreciate life on a different level over there. Great times are always had in Spain.

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“Got it Covered” was a fun release you did of covers. Was there a particular track you enjoyed recording? How was it to have Kay Hanley lend her vocals to this release? (She’s amazing, by the way!)

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It was definitely a blast recording the whole thing! Linus Dotson recorded and produced the record and the drummer on it, Adam Marcello, is actually Katy Perry’s touring drummer. He’s really good. I loved the whole experience of recording that record because I stayed in this hotel in the center of Hollywood, right behind the Chinese theater. It just so happened that the Oscars were taking place while we were recording, so Hollywood was nuts! Linus and I would walk down to the studio everyday dodging in and out of all the looneys in Hollywood… some good inspiration there. I really liked recording the vocals “Let Me Out.” I remember taking a break and walking around some alleyways behind the studio with my iPod listening to the original Knack version before I went to record my own vocals. They were all from LA too, so it was kinda cool to be in the same city that they recorded their track over 30 years ago. After the track was recorded, I met up with my friends in the band Regal Beagle. They took me to this bar where they filmed some scenes in the movie “That Thing You Do!”which is one of my all time favorites. Then we ate amazing tacos in the middle of the ghetto. Kay Hanley was so awesome. She is really nice and mentioned that I could live in her garage. I don’t know if she was serious or not!

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Between the Leftovers and your current music, I’ve noticed huge Costello and bubblegum influences. Who can you cite for getting you into this type of music?

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I remember when I was a freshman in high school, I saw this band cover Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio”, and I knew that I had heard that song before but never really connected the dots until then. I picked up a bunch of his early records and became an instant fan. I never really thought too much of him as an influence in the early days though it may have totally been subconscious. One of the very first Leftovers shows we did with a group called Avoid One Thing, which featured Joe Gittleman of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. After our set he said to me that my vocals reminded him of Elvis Costello and that made me even more interested in listening to so much more Costello. It’s funny because I couldn’t sing like shit back then and am still working on it! Haha. Bubblegum Music is the holy grail of pop. I love that stuff ever since I was young.

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Can you tell me your biggest “rock star” moment?

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Back when the Leftovers were on tour with Bowling For Soup in England during the fall of 2009, we ended the town in London at this historic venue called the Roundhouse. The Ramones, Blondie, Clash—all those bands have played at the Roundhouse. It’s literally a round venue with seating wrapped around the stage. We walked out on stage and saw that the place was completely sold out. To play for 2,000 people at a legendary club was tops! We were treated really well on that tour, it was such an experience. In Scotland we went to this super fancy night club but there was this huge line to get in.. So I went to the door guy and jokingly flashed my “all access” tour pass at him and we literally got escorted to the top floor of this night club.. the 400 people in line were pissed! We felt super cool! I think the club thought we were Bowling For Soup. Haha!

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Are you reading anything at the moment?

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I’m currently reading a couple books. “King Dork” by Frank Portman, MTX’s singer/songwriter/genius speller of words, Lester Bangs’ short book on Blondie, and a really great book on Jim Henson called “The Works,” which covers all of his work. I’m a huge Muppets fan. I also work at a library in Portland, so I’m always seeing cool books come in and out.

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So my book, Flour City Blues is about a 17-year old who start his senior year of high school in a new town. He starts a band, crushes on the French girl and basically loads of teenage hijinks occur. What were you like at 17-18?

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That sounds almost exactly like me! Haha. I remember there was this French exchange student that came to our High School. He was kinda a weirdo but all the girls LOVED him. I didn’t get it. Not that I have anything with France or French people, but this guys was getting all the ladies! So I think I wrote a song about it that the Leftovers recorded on a record we never ended up releasing, which is OK with me because the song wasn’t to good. Senior year was a pretty wild year for me…I definitely fondly remember switching from drinking soda to beer.

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Do you have a hilarious tale from your teenage years?

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We used to do all kinds of crazy shit back in the day. All my friends and I would skateboard around town, listening to punk rock and trying to find stupid shit to do. We came from the Jackass generation, so we always had a camera with us. We jumped into bushes, snorted weird things up our nose, set a lot of shit on fire. Any kind of fireworks we could get our hands on were usually lit in no time. M80’s are really loud, I found out. For awhile my family had an abundance of frozen hotdogs in my freezer, so we would often chuck frozen hotdogs at people from my second story window. People didn’t care for it much but seagulls loved it! Besides from a little recreational drug use in the woods behind school and what not, we never really got into so much trouble with the law. Somehow I was also elected Student President two years in a row. Still have no idea how that happened.

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What’s next for Kurt Baker?

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I’ve got a brand new record coming out on Oct. 25th on Oglio Records called “Rockin’ For A Living.” (NOTE: “Rocking For A Living” is already out! The interview was conducted last year prior to the release). Stardumb Records will be putting out the vinyl edition of the record which will coincide with our European tour which will start at the end of October and into November. I’d love to do some more shows in the Northeast and Midwest after that.. and hopefully we’ll have yet another new record out in 2012 of songs I’ve been working on down in Nashville. Lots of fun stuff going on!

So far for Kurt 2012 has shown to be another productive year with the release of the 4-track EP “Want You Around” and the soon-to-be “Brand New Beat”, out October 30th.

Kurt Baker

Kurt Baker on Bandcamp

 

Later alligator,

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