People of Starlab Fest

by Amanda Beland

Starlab Fest is an annual music and arts festival in Somerville, Massachusetts. Everyone featured here was at the festival, either attending or working. All photos were taken on a Nikon N6006 with Kodak Gold 200 film. Some photos were taken during the “golden hour” – the period of time before sunset – so they have a warmish hue. Those are my favorites.

(edit)60910023(edit)60910018(edited)64350005(edited2)64350004(edited)60910017(edited2)64350003(edited2)64350007(final)(edited)6435000264350015(edit)60910021

Advertisements

Today Junior

Today Junior began recording their third album at Medford’s the Soul Shop on Oct. 17-20. The record will feature Harry O’Toole on guitar, Mike O’Toole on drums and Anthony Ambrose on bass. The LP is being recording and produced by Shop engineer and musician Elio DeLuca.

edited_img_1022edited_img_1024edited_img_1036edited_img_1067edited_img_1078edited_img_1123edited_img_1184edited_img_1187edited_img_1201edited_img_1230edited_img_1238edited_img_1248edited_img_1345edited_img_1363edited_img_1425edited_img_1444edited_img_1464edited_img_1468edited_img_1511edited_img_1553edited_img_1563edited_img_1590edited_img_1602edited_img_1604edited_img_1610edited_img_1613edited_img_1629edited_img_1689

More photos can be found on the Spiral Bound Photography Flickr page.

Dan Webb and the Spiders

11021238_10153054045424435_7902210495525780348_n
All photos are courtesy

by Amanda Beland

Dan Webb and the Spiders is a four-piece rock/punk group. They’ve been playing with different iterations of members since 2009.

Front man and namesake Dan Webb answered a few questions for Spiral Bound about the band’s history and what’s next.

When and why did you start playing music?

I started playing music when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I did it because it appealed to me more than sports and it was slightly cooler than reading comics, (at the time). My first instrument was bass in a band called PROD (PunkRockOverDose) and the first songs I remember learning were Waiting Room by Fugazi, Hawaii by the Queers and D7 by the Wipers, (but we knew it because Nirvana covered it).

11043263_10153061605759435_1422695008737349321_n

Were you involved in other projects before the Spiders?

I sang and wrote songs in a hardcore-punk-kinda band called the Opposed in college. Afterward, when I first moved to Boston, I was in a post-hardcore band called inblackandwhite that I feel still holds up quite well. I also played drums in a band called The Cold Beat that eventually became Nonpareils.

When did Dan Webb and the Spiders start and how has the lineup changed since the project began?

I made the first record all by my lonesome just for kicks and then I recruited Chris Amaral, Dan Wallace and Matt Kenney to bring the songs to life for a live show. We maintained that lineup for a couple years and through the next two LP’s and the first couple tours to Europe. Marc Valois (Blinders) joined the band after Wallace left for parts unknown. We were fortunate to be able to bring Stephen Benson into the fold to play drums when Matt moved out of the picture. Finally, when a wrist injury sidelined Valois for a good chunk of time, Sean McAllister stepped in and has been playing the bass for us ever since. Mike Vera also filled in on bass for a tour before Sean’s time with us.

11024627_10153061605489435_5978221288566836398_n

What’s your discography and how has the band’s sound evolved and changed over time?

LP’s / Compilations

    2009 – S/T – Self-Released

    2010 – Oh Sure – Self-Released

    2011 – Much Obliged – Gunner Records

    2012 – Oh Sure Redux – Gunner Records

    2014 – Now It Can Be Told (Compilation) – Self-Released

    2014 – Einekleineakustischmuzik – Self-Released

    2015 – Perfect Problem – Gunner Records

(Perfect Problem tracks recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Elio DeLuca at the Soul Shop and Marc Valois at Starlab Studios.)

EP’s / Splits

    2012 – Beach Party Split 7″ – Self-Released

    2013 – Irish Handcuffs Split 7″ – Flix Records

    2013 – Gunner Records Singles Club – Gunner Records

    2016 – Modern Saints Split 7″ – Gunner Records (upcoming)

10408972_10153061605634435_9105486680701156677_n

The sound of the material has changed a lot based on who has contributed to making it. The early records are characterized by a quick and dirty nonchalance. We often would record and mix entire 12 song LP’s over three or four days. After Much Obliged we started to break the recording sessions into smaller sessions and releases and would only tackle two or three songs in as many days. We also became more in control of our actual sound. Especially now, we are very dialed in and use a wide range of pedals to create a vaster sonic landscape. In the old days, we would just get a good sound in a few minutes before hitting record and just use that for the duration of the record. Now we practice changing tones as much as we do chords. So the newest stuff has a lot more depth and dynamics to it. I am really happy with how we’ve grown and what the band has recently coalesced into, although some critics prefer the older material.

11024755_10153061605464435_5814354068628655149_n

Touring seems to be a big thing with the band, can you talk about where you’ve been over the years?

We’ve been very fortunate to work with Gunner Records out of Bremen, Germany. They have put out many records for us and have had us over to Europe five times with a sixth trip set for March of 2016. We’ve played Berlin, Zurich, London, Antwerp, Vienna and every small German town there is. Our annual trip over there is what we work towards as a band. In the states we struggle to draw anyone, but over there we do much better. Plus tiny bands on our level are treated with care over there, so touring is much more comfortable than it is here in the states. Inside the US, we’ve only done one tour and have played a sporadic show here or there outside of Massachusetts. For instance, we have played Chicago a couple times and even made it out to Portland, Oregon once.

1546101_10153061605629435_2242172392088354748_n

What’s next for the band? Are you recording any new songs?

We are planning a split 7″ with a great band from Germany called Modern Saints. That split is timed to be released when we return to Germany for a 17 date tour in March 2016. Half of the tour will have Modern Saints as support and the other half will feature our dear friends, Irish Handcuffs. We also have another eight songs already recorded that we may release on our own as an EP. We are always working on new material as well and hope to get another batch of songs recorded when we get back from tour. We find it’s best to stay busy because bands, like all things, are super fragile. The period of time where all four of us run in tandem could be well shorter than we realize, so best to make the most of the time we have.

 

Jenn Harrington

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

by Amanda Beland

Jenn Harrington is a mover and a shaker in the Somerville arts and music scene. While she doesn’t produce records or make art, she’s widely regarded in many circles as a “connector” – she has an innate ability to recognize common ground and interest amongst people and bring them together to bridge the gap of unfamiliarity. You’ll find her behind the scenes and behind the camera – producing, documenting and promoting what she recognizes as gems of the art and cultural scenes of Somerville and Cambridge.

Spiral Bound focuses on storytelling. Typically, interviews are conducted and features are produced with no remnants of the original questions or answers in structured formats. Jenn’s story will be different. Below are the original questions asked and Jenn’s typed responses. I contemplated reworking the answers, but why mess with something when it’s already perfect the way it is?

When and why did you move to Somerville?

Living in Rhode Island, I took a break in college and worked second shift, alone, in a nursing home’s laundry for eight months. After sweating with everything that can leak out of other human bodies for eight hours, it was impossible to sleep so I’d lay on the couch and flip channels. One night I ran into a video show on a local Boston channel playing Madder Rose’s “Panic On.” While I have a massive imagination for the future of others, it’s difficult to be forward-thinking for my own benefit. Watching that video was one of the few times I knew where I would be one day. And though I moved to Maine and then back to Rhode Island for awhile, every day I was aware that I would end up in Boston.

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

I’ve lived in the same apartment in Somerville for 13 years now. It’s actually my second stint in this town. The first was a short-lived because I was living near Broadway—an isolating experience. I moved to Harvard Avenue in Allston for a couple of years becoming familiar with puddles of vomit on my doorstep and breakups wailing under my bedroom window, and then moved back to Somerville because it was affordable, accessible, low key—it felt like home. I’ve only been able to stay because the landlord has been very good to me.

What activities and events have you been involved with in Somerville and elsewhere?

I have passion for the written word, music, and the visual arts and gravitate my energies towards them. I’ve curated a number of group exhibits in Somerville including I’ve Been Everywhere, Man: Musicians on the Road, Winter (dedicated to Dave Lamb of Brown Bird), Get In My Shoes, PICNIC, The BIG BAD, and The Beast in Me—Johnny Cash: Art Influenced by the Struggle of a Man. I also organized Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and Frank Black tribute nights in Somerville and beyond for various community benefits. Even though I’m incredibly shy and internal, I enjoy taking the lead in projects that gather people of various backgrounds and locations together for enlightened (and entertaining) purpose.

I’m currently assisting Audrey Ryan with her long-standing DIY music event series at The Loft—booking bands, taking donations for musicians, picking out rad snacks, and cleaning up. We just hosted our first show of the season with Bent Shapes, The Furniture, Roz and the Rice Cakes (Providence), and Audrey Ryan. It was a ton of fun. In November, we’re hosting The Dazies, P. Everett (Brooklyn), Slowdim, and Audrey Ryan; and in December, we’re hosting our annual holiday craft fair.

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

The Loft is one of the best rooms for the essence of music in the Boston-area: it’s amazing to see the audience so receptive to the musicians. We’ve been honored to host incredibly talented (and nice) bands, most recently out-of-towners (listen to them, pretty please) Diane Cluck, And The Kids, Death Vessel, O’Death, Run On Sentence, Ravi Shavi, Footings, Jonah Tolchin, and too many talents to list from this area. I can not do Audrey Ryan enough justice for keeping this series going for so long: she is proof that it is not just the room or the bands…there needs to be someone in the center making the magic happen…and she’s been doing it for years.

What’s you favorite part of the arts and music culture in Somerville/Cambridge/Boston?

I’m really interested in people who have equal measure of taste, class, and hard work. I have enormous respect for Audrey, bookers Randi Ellen Millman of Atwood’s Tavern  and Jason Trefts of Illegally Blind and Fuzzstival; Steve Legare of Kitchen Sessions; anyone involved in Fringe Union, Gallery Kayafas, the Flash Forward Festival; the organizers of Starlabfest and Porchfest; I’m growing quite fond of Cuisine En Locale (who will be hosting Last Good Tooth and She Keeps Bees on 11/5); and I pretty much go bananas for the book recommendations of the Harvard Bookstore and Brookline Booksmith staff. Others worthy of mentioning: anyone who runs a local culture blog; the bookers of P.A.’s Lounge past: Tony Confalone of the much missed band Tony the Bookie; Jen Guthrie of Band in Boston (an incredible local music archive); and John and Tommy Allen of Fedavees and Drug Rug; as well as Andrea Gillis and Michelle Paulhus of The Dents who booked my favorite times at the Abbey Lounge. And walking by Lesley University’s new Lunder Arts Center puts an extra hop in everyone’s step. I could go on, I should on, but I’m getting tuckered by all the brilliance.

But to completely honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the culture of this area. Somerville doesn’t have a bookstore. The Nave Gallery—-which is the only building in Davis Square that the public can hang out in (besides the library) without buying something—struggles every day. Venues and independents are closing their doors in quick succession. It’s increasingly more unaffordable for residents and businesses alike. We’re all feeling the squeeze and we’re not working together to demand attention to the matter—this is not just an artist issue, it is everyone’s issue.

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

When you aren’t working, what are you working on or doing?

Trying to:

  • Make my cat famous.
  • Hear good stories / pay attention to work people are doing.
  • Find life balance…sometimes I bring a book to a show even though it’s been frowned upon.
  • Avoid people who claim to “work hard / play hard”—it’s a lazy statement.

What inspires you?

I love to witness people evolve who are already at their A-game. I love seeing underdogs succeed. I love those who find success and try to boost up others who are good at their craft who haven’t yet found recognition. I love when people aren’t afraid to show their depth. I love teachers…you don’t have to stand in a classroom to be one. I love when people volunteer their time for good causes. There is an incredible amount of talented people in this world and the best of them are those that are thoughtful about the world immediately around them.

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

I have an immense appreciation and respect for the people that run the Columbus Theatre in Providence. It is a gorgeous and beautiful-sounding space; the booking’s tremendous; and it has a spirit that’s unique to most venues: it genuinely thrives on a love for music…you can feel it from every person on staff and the audience, too. I do not drive and even though the commute can be a challenge, I have seen some of my favorite bands there: Brown Bird, Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, Sharon Van Etten, Michael Hurley, Last Good Tooth, Cass McCombs, Tallahassee, Death Vessel, Iron & Wine, Ravi Shavi, Arc Iris, Vudu Sister, Charles Bradley, Wanda Jackson,  Haunt the House, Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes, O’Death, Toy Soldiers…

What roles do music and art play in your daily life?

Some people’s role in life is to create beautiful things. I think my role is to create a beautiful life. And I can have one by appreciating other’s creations.

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

One of your main purposes seems to be encouraging musicians and artists to complete their craft. Why is this important to you?

Being a terribly idealistic person can get me in trouble (try it: ouch). But I refuse to drop the idea that we can actually have an exceptional world. The arts is one of the very few ways that we have to understand our struggles and our pleasures—to experience wonder. It’s maddening to see it undervalued.

I was proud to work on some grant projects for a couple of artists this fall. It took me aback when a few friends asked me, “what do you get out of it?” The answer seemed obvious: it is fulfilling to assist. I don’t have a ton of money…I can’t be a patron via massive financial means. But I can do what I can: dedicating time and hard work, putting in a kind word, making an musician or artist or writer know that they are noticed and appreciated (in a thoughtful way). I honestly feel at the end of our days, it is not awards won or salaries earned, it is seeing how we helped those around us to succeed that’s the ultimate of joys.

When I was a kid I loved how Melanie Griffin’s character in Working Girl saved newspaper clippings and connected the dots to create a new idea. Sometimes people are so good at their dot that they forget to connect. I’ll tell you: the four-eyed awkward too tall shy lady standing in the back corner who is terrible at small talk is superior at finding ways to unify.

Processed with VSCOcam with a2 preset

 

Bellwire (part two)

(if you missed part one)

by Amanda Beland

On Aug. 21, Bellwire, a 4-piece power pop band from Somerville, walked into Medford’s the Soul Shop with instruments and arrangements. Over the next four days, Guitarist/vocalist Tyler Burdwood, bassist Jack Holland, guitarist Michael Holland and drummer Matt Freake (Oaks Brine) tracked four new songs with help from engineer and producer Elio DeLuca (Titus Andronicus, Wilder Maker, Bent Shapes). This was Bellwire‘s third time recording at the Shop. The most recent trip was in May of this year where the band – with drummer Andy Fordyce – recorded four songs and a spoken poem, including the band’s newest single Time Out.

Bellwire and DeLuca spent Friday night deep in pre-production: sorting out arrangements and choosing the desired sounding amplifiers and instruments for each song. On Saturday, the band tracked all four songs live to 16-track tape. The band played all together, all at once in the Shop’s custom-built live room. On Sunday, background vocalists provided their ranges to “Grace Stay” and “Dreamin'” while legendary pedalsteel guitar player Jonnee Earthquake provided soothing sounds to all four tracks. Brothers Michael and Jack Holland also recorded bass and guitar overdubs and Burdwood laid down his lead vocals for all four tracks. The band returned on Monday afternoon to finish overdubs on all the tracks. Bellwire and DeLuca have plans to mix the tracks in mid-October once DeLuca returns from a national headlining tour with Titus Andronicus.

Over 600 photos were taken from Friday until Sunday; what you see here is just a snippet of the recording process. All photos were taken with an iPhone and processed with Snapseed. No filters were used on any of these photos, unlike in part one where each picture was processed and edited with VSCOcam. Close to 3gb of audio was taken over the course of the same time period using a Tascam mini recorder. Audio will be edited and released as an audio documentary later this month.

Each morning, drummer Matt Freake provided pour over coffee for everyone in the studio. However, sound and photos of the pour over process were only taken on Saturday morning.

The Soul Shop is a special place – not only because of its palatable sparkle and vibe, but its equipment as well. The Shop was founded and built in 2007 by DeLuca and co-owner Patrick Grenham. While DeLuca took on the engineering role, Grenham began designing and building gear to not only use at the Shop, but to sell as well. The results are control and live rooms packed with custom gear. Pieces of this gear are featured heavily throughout this essay.

This post should be viewed as a photo essay documenting progress. When you hear a record, it was once pieces of the whole you’re consuming. These photos are aligned and included to show the building of a song – the decision making, the struggles, the successes, the passage of time and the layering of elements.

.

IMG_2038

Saturday morning began with pour over coffee and breakfast sandwiches before the band began tracking.

49_IMG_1545

54_IMG_1559

IMG_2090

Sunday was dedicated almost entirely to vocals (lead and background) and instrument overdubs, including pedal steel guitar performances on all four songs by Jonnee Earthquake

Katie Von Schleicher

courtesy

In close to a decade, Katie Von Schleicher has grown from never having even heard the Beatles to writing, producing, recording and playing every instrument on an 8-track EP set to be released this fall. This is her story.

by Amanda Beland

Katie Von Schleicher is a Brooklyn-based vocalist, pianist and musician.

Schleicher, of Pasadena, Maryland, didn’t grow up in a musical family: there weren’t records playing in the house and her parents didn’t put a particular emphasis on music in daily life. She did take piano and violin lessons briefly and sang in theater productions. When it came time to apply to colleges, however, Schleicher decided she wanted to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“I wanted to go to Berklee because I liked some of the musicians who had gone there,” said Schleicher. “I didn’t listen to the Beatles or Neil Young or albums at all really until I got to college and I got there being like ‘I’m gonna be a songwriter and I’m gonna make pop music.'”

Schleicher continued.

“A lot of the time I just listened to albums. I tried to learn what the hell was going on,” said Schleicher. “It was really late. I think a lot of people went to Berklee and were like, ‘I know what I wanna do’ and I was like, ‘I have a fantasy idea of what I wanna do.'”

I think a lot of people went to Berklee and were like ‘I know what I wanna do’ and I was like, ‘I have a fantasy idea of what I wanna do’

During the first week of her freshman year, Schleicher met Stephen Konrads, another freshman also from Maryland. The two clicked instantly. Konrads grew up in a musical family and played piano and sang from the time he was a child. He eventually joined a band and through him, Schleicher began expanding her social and musical circles.

“That’s when I realized I needed to be cooler and download lots of illegal music and hear Led Zeppelin for the first time,” said Schleicher.

That’s when I realized I needed to be cooler and download lots of illegal music and hear Led Zeppelin for the first time

courtesy

Berklee introduced Schleicher to new people and possibilities, but it also made her start to question a lot of things, including herself. Schleicher said her inability to “fit in” with the Berklee style of education combined with a lack of solid mentorship made it difficult for her to find confidence in her songwriting and musical abilities.

“For the first time in my entire life, I was trying to be cool,” said Schleicher. “The music I was making was so trapped between Andrew Lloyd Webber and trying to be cool that it really fucking missed the mark. I made an EP by myself and just threw it away when I was done with it. I still haven’t heard it. I got to college wearing Abercrombie and being chunky with blonde hair and just really confused. I think I grew up a lot when I was in Sleepy Very Sleepy, which was after college.”

For the first time in my entire life, I was trying to be cool … I got to college wearing Abercrombie and being chunky with blonde hair and just really confused

Schleicher and Konrads remained close throughout college. Schleicher stayed in Boston after graduating in 2009. Konrads had a practice space at the old Starlab Studios building in Union Square and him and Schleicher would spend countless hours hanging out and trying to write songs there. A mutual friend suggested the two of them start a band. Konrads brought in bassist Wayne Whittaker and drummer Harrison Seiler, whom currently play with Konrads in his current project Eternals, and Sleepy Very Sleepy was formed.

Schleicher and Konrads continued to write songs together. Eventually the band recorded a full length EP “Unlimited Circulation”, which was recorded and mixed at the Soul Shop in Medford with help from engineer and friend Elio DeLuca.

For Schleicher, the pressure and insecurity she felt in college continued under the surface in the new project.

“We were trying to do intensely amazing things,” said Schleicher. “You know, you’re sitting in a practice room just throwing out ideas … the fabled Paul McCartney and John Lennon quote, ‘Let’s write a swimming pool,’ let’s make money – let’s do something insane – let’s make this the best song ever. And the mix of me and Steve was just like ‘Let’s give ourselves a migraine trying to write a song.’ I remember just sitting in Starlab all the time by myself just banging my head against the wall trying to write something amazing. It was so much pressure. I mean that sticks with me today – when it’s hard just to not like really amp it up before you try and work on something.”

‘Let’s write a swimming pool,’ let’s make money – let’s do something insane – let’s make this the best song ever

Unlimited Circulation” was released in May 2011.

“I really owe a lot to Steve, just helping to support me but also when we were in Sleepy Very Sleepy, me trying to write better shit because his songs were so good.”

I really owe a lot to Steve, just helping to support me

Around this same time period, Schleicher began working with another Boston-based band called Boy Without God. Soul Shop engineer Elio DeLuca brought her in to sing background vocals for the band’s 2011 release God Bless the Hunger.

Boy Without God’s frontman Gabriel Birnbaum eventually asked Schleicher to come on tour with the band in 2011.

460829_10150615666035892_625034609_o
photo by gabriel birnbaum

“Gabe’s stuff was totally different than what I was doing,” said Schleicher. “Up until that point, I hated – I mean it’s still tough – being this emotional songwriter. I felt like it made me a worst musician … that I wasn’t calculating, you know? And Gabe’s stuff was really both. It’s more fearless: he’s made songs where I’m just like “Really? You think that’s going to work out?” and he’s like “Yeah let’s do it.” So that kind of fearlessness made me feel a lot more open.”

That kind of fearlessness made me feel a lot more open

When Schleicher got back from the Boy Without God tour, she decided to move from Boston to New York.

“I think I wanted the experience. It seemed easier – like if I go to New York, I’ll be in a band already and then I’ll have some kind of identity. I didn’t want to live in NY, I didn’t like NY, but I was like ‘I guess I gotta try.'”

As soon as Schleicher moved to New York, she stopped writing music. She continued to play with Boy Without God, which would eventually be renamed as Wilder Maker, and bartended for rent money.

“It was a dark time,” said Schleicher. “I have this typewriter and I was carrying it out the window and climbing onto the roof and writing out there whenever it was warm enough to do so. I was writing lyrics … well I guess they became lyrics … but I was writing poetry that wasn’t super concrete emotional stuff… just because I needed an outlet. I was more inspired by a lot of things that I was reading and for the first time, I really felt open with words.”

I have this typewriter and I was carrying it out the window and climbing onto the roof and writing out there whenever it was warm enough to do so

After six months, Schleicher began writing and arranging what would become her first solo release.

“The six months off was the best thing I’ve done so far because after that, I wrote my solo record,” said Schleicher. “That was the only thing I ever felt like I could really stand behind as a musician. I’d say it’s the first thing I felt comfortable with – really late in the game – at age 26.”

That was the only thing I ever felt like I can really stand behind as a musician. I’d say it’s the first thing I felt comfortable with

DSC_7132
courtesy

“Personally, I find it really hard to believe in anything and I can be such a devaluer of things,” said Schleicher. “The whole record concept was – when I was writing poems and when I decided I was trying to write lyrics – I took this bent of What if I had God in my life? What if i had belief in my life? What if I wrote songs to God? There’s a song called “You On My Mind” and one of the lyrics is Wouldn’t it be lonely without you on my mind? It all sounds like love songs, but all the songs are about God. It helped me have an angle and it made me feel like I could write warm, conversational songs. I wanted to make something that was simple to listen to; not hard, just enjoyable, like Tonight’s the Night by Neil Young. You just put that on, make some spaghetti and you’re good. Even if it’s deep, you can just listen to it, make some spaghetti and feel okay about everything.”

But you can just listen to it, make some spaghetti and feel okay about everything

photo by gabriel birnbaum

Schleicher wrote and arranged eight tracks for the record. She headed into the Soul Shop in August 2012 with what she describes as “my favorite musicians” for three days of tracking and mixing.

“It was an exercise,” said Schleicher. “I took the songs in and taught them to everybody on the first day and we just recorded them all live in the room. The Soul Shop was the place to do it. Of course it helps to have someone like Elio when I can be kind of vulnerable about what I’m working on. I sent him the ideas of what I wanted to do, not the songs, and I was just like ‘Here’s what I’m thinking’ and he was like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ As soon as I wrote that Elio email and got the response, I felt like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this’  I think also the immediacy of it was really nice – it was nice to not have this grandiose dream of what the record was going to be like. I just wanted it to be simple and defined and those parameters helped a lot.”

The Soul Shop was the place to do it. Of course it helps to have someone like Elio when I can be kind of vulnerable about what I’m working on. I sent him the ideas of what I wanted to do, not the songs, and I was just like ‘Here’s what I’m thinking’ and he was like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ As soon as I wrote that Elio email and got the response I felt like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this’

614439_10150975365426750_643431868_o
photo by elio deluca

The record originally had seven songs. Schleicher had an eighth track “Wilkes-Barre” which she wrote partially about how her grandparents met. She went into the Shop unsure if she even liked the song.

“I think that song is probably the best song I’ve ever written because it’s honest,” said Schleicher. “It’s a song I wrote on guitar with two chords and then went to the piano and was like ‘Can you make a song more complicated afterward?” I just came up with all the harmonies after the fact. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted it on the record and Elio was like ‘Are you kidding – this is the best song.” So, it’s funny how that works. That’s why you need Elio around because otherwise that song would just never exist.”

I think that song is probably the best song I’ve ever written because it’s honest

Before heading into the studio – Schleicher and Birnbaum had booked and planned a three month tour of the U.S. with Wilder Maker. Right after recording concluded – the two, current Wilder Maker drummer Sean Mullins and a former bassist set out in a van.

“The tour was pretty intense, it definitely improved my musicianship in terms of playing songs and shows – but I think the tour was less about music and more about what it’s like to try and play music. It was very humbling.”

photo by gabriel birnbaum

The tour ended close to Christmas time. Schleicher went home for the holidays before heading back to Brooklyn in the new year. She continued bartending, began playing sporadic solo shows in the city, performing and recording regularly with Wilder Maker and working a couple days a week at the New York record label Ba Da Bing records.

Schleicher said recording at the label has helped her realize and learn a lot about music and the industry surrounding it.

“You know, people don’t respond to your emails,” said Schleicher. “Working there helped me to realize that it’s not personal and that it’s not predictable. It just takes focus and persistence.”

Sometime last year, Schleicher started renting a practice space and recording her entire writing sessions, some of which would last over 90 minutes long. Her hope was to find out what worked and what didn’t by listening to her music after the fact instead of analyzing in the moment.

“The new methodology allowed me to find songs that would have slipped out otherwise,” said Schleicher. “I’m finally listening to The Pixies, to The Breeders… I’m really catching up slowly to music, still learning. I knew I wanted to make heavier stuff. I wanted to make weirder stuff. So recording those sessions to tape made me realize that these writing sessions sounded good. The songs, when you play them the first time around, sound better when I’m making up lyrics – using dummy lyrics.”

The new methodology allowed me to find songs that would have slipped out otherwise

73939_805325673939_4880949_n
courtesy

“When you’re writing something, you’re just singing absent-mindedly. Sometimes, those are the most honest lyrics,” said Schleicher. “I would completely forget them if I didn’t have these writing sessions recorded. So, I was driving in my car listening to my own songwriting sessions on a daily basis.”

Schleicher eventually picked eight tracks and decided to release a cassette EP. Once she had the lyrics, she arranged and recorded herself on a four track tape machine playing every instrument on the record – except on two songs where her boyfriend plays drums. She mixed the record partially with DeLuca at the Soul Shop and partially in New York at Spaceman Sound.

For Schleicher, the record sounds and feels completely different than her past work. Lyrically, it’s much simpler than what she’s used to and sound-wise, it’s heavier. Although she said she feels less enthused about the content of the record’s lyrics, she feels content with the sounds.

“Sometimes I find it really hard because I want to do something different,” said Schleicher. “What Steve does is very Steve and what Gabe does is very Gabe.  I think in a lot of ways it’s a struggle to get close to what it is I’m trying to do; to read my own mind.”

I think in a lot of ways it’s a struggle to get close to what it is I’m trying to do; to read my own mind

277996_787645046059_1003600658_o
photo by gabriel birnbaum

Scheicher is currently working at Ba Da Bing, who will release her EP once it’s been mastered. Schleicher said the record’s been mixed since February of this year, but she’s been waiting to get it mastered and to release it.

“I’m just afraid,  I think. it’s so unbecoming, but it’s just really honest,” said Schleicher. “I think I’m afraid of no one hearing it. I’m afraid of putting it out and not taking advantage of at least getting one blog to write about it. I’m afraid of putting it out and not booking a release show. I’m scared of booking shows. It’s very simple stuff, but it needs to happen … it will happen … it’s just waiting for this magical clarity of ‘Oh it’s a great time.'”

I’m just afraid, I think. It’s so unbecoming, but it’s just really honest

484510_10100289777161057_238403125_n
photo by gabriel birnbaum

When I try to be quiet, to make my mind really quiet … and there’s this darkness, there always appears some thought about music

“I have made more attempts than anyone I know not to continue,” said Schleicher. “I have been extremely vulnerable the entire time.  I think in a world where I can devalue every single aspect of what I’m doing or what other people are doing, somehow music is the thing that sticks around. When I try to be quiet, to make my mind really quiet, and there’s this darkness … there always appears some thought about music. It’s also the best drug; to play music is the best drug. Wilder Maker has saved my ass on a regular basis. I’m finally in a situation where I see what can develop over time: personal band chemistry, camaraderie, musical chemistry on stage. We’ve had times where crowds go wild and it’s just worth it; everything is worth it in that moment. For my own music, why I continue is that it’s just a thought that stays in my mind no matter how hard I try to push it out. And I think I’m becoming better at just doing this and not expecting money or not expecting anyone to listen.”

Schleicher’s new EP is expected to be released this fall. She’s currently playing shows around New York with Wilder Maker and the Ben Seretan Group. Check her out on Facebook and Bandcamp. Also check out her work with Wilder Maker on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and on their website.

courtesy

Ben Seretan

by Amanda Beland

Ben Seretan was walking by himself at night in Brooklyn and a man bumped into him and dropped a bottle of wine. Seretan apologized for the incident, but the man demanded he pay for the accident.

“He was like ‘Oh you gotta pay for this bottle of wine, it cost me $300,'” said Seretan. “I was kind of surprised. I mean, I talked my way out of it. I didn’t realize until weeks later that it was a scam.”

Seretan, originally of Orange County, was a recent transplant to New York then, having moved across the country to play and write music in the city. Almost five years later, Seretan is regularly playing shows and slowly building a name for himself.

Seretan began singing and playing cello in church choir. Cello was his focus until his instrument broke on the way to a music summer camp.

“I was driving to a music camp and it was so hot in the car that the glue came apart on the instrument,” said Seretan. “So I didn’t have an instrument for a few months, so my brother was like ‘Well you can play my electric guitar if you want when I’m not in the house’ and I just fell in love with it.”

Seretan’s new found obsession inspired him to apply and try out for a performing arts high school in Orange County. However, with no prior experience in playing the guitar, let alone playing jazz guitar – a perquisite skill for the program – Seretan had to think – and learn – quickly.

This cramming led to another musical discovery that would further influence his future in music.

“I took a few lessons with this kind of really skeezy church musician who was a rep for Pandora,” said Seretan. “He basically sold me – really aggressively – this little digital four track that I used for years and years. It was totally unnecessary because we had a computer at home – I could have like figured it out – but he was like ‘You gotta have this thing man’ and he sold it to me and I had so much fun just figuring out how to use it. My parents split up a little bit after that and the house that my mom moved into had this weird converted attic and I would take that four track up there and I would have different instruments I had gathered over the years, like some of them were my brothers, I still had a cello, I had various percussion instruments and I would just spend hours and hours and hours in the dark attic just putting shit onto this four track.”

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Seretan played guitar in a band in high school, (his drummer from this band is still his current drummer in the Ben Seretan Group), and continued to experiment with recording and writing music.

“I recorded an EP for my girlfriend when I was a sophomore and that shit is painful,” said Seretan. “I didn’t know how to sing – I was just doing my best to sound like Blink 182 probably – and I just wasn’t hitting the mark at all. And it fact, any singing that’s recorded of mine before 2011 I can’t really stand to listen to.”

Seretan attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. where he majored in experimental music and american studies. The experimental music program focuses on ethnomusicology and its application and study in world music. This included everything from music notation to historical aspects and contexts of various genres throughout the world.

Along with his studies, Seretan dabbled in a unique musical project that further helped him find his voice – literally.

“I played in this band in college who was really really loud – like Fugazi inspired – and it was two guitarists and two singers and we’d do a lot of overlapping type stuff,” said Seretan. “Just from having to perform in shitty venues with bad sound and trying to be heard over the drums and really struggling to have my voice be heard in general, it (my voice) just got more and more powerful to the point to where I was like ‘Wow this is an expressive instrument too and it’s like at least half of the equation.’ In playing with that band, my parts and the other singers parts would literally overlap and it wasn’t harmony necessarily. It was like we were singing two different songs at once; it was like sparring with somebody. Instead of learning to sing very sweetly together Simon and Garfunkel style, we were like barking at each other.”

Seretan graduated from college in 2010 and moved to rural Missouri where his mom and step dad were living. He stayed there for two months before he moved to New York City.

“I had a great life there. I would like wake up late and I would like go for a run on this dirt road where all these bugs would land on me and the neighborhood dogs would like follow me as I ran. It was like every morning I would have this Saint Francis of Assis communion with the animals in Missouri. Then I would go for a swim in the lake into the late afternoon and have dinner with my folks, watch TV and work on recordings late at night. It was awesome. But eventually I was like ‘Man, I haven’t see someone my age in like two months, every day is the same here, you know, I’m running out of books to read.’ Then, I got a phone call from my buddy  and he’s like ‘Hey I’m driving across country – wanna move to New York?’ And that’s what kind of decided it for me.”

Seretan was still playing with his college band – they recorded an EP in New York – and all the members lived close enough to the city where they could still practice together once a week and play shows. In 2011, one of the members was a awarded a Fullbright award in Poland. Seretan said the band was supportive and encouraged him to take the opportunity. With his departure the band broke up.

“I was like well I moved here pretty much to be in the band and I had girlfriend then, but I didn’t when the band ended, which was fine,” said Seretan. “I decided to stay and figure it out. I was playing scattered shows, so I decided to give it a go and I’ve pretty much been working and steadily playing ever since.”

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Seretan’s been writing, recording and releasing music as himself and collaborating with others ever since 2011. The results are numerous – three online releases in September, October and December of 2014, including two 15 + minute singles (September/October) and his first full length self-titled record. Seretan said 90 percent of the writing and arranging is him, but his band – the Ben Seretan Group – brings their own inspiration, experience and flair – to that 90 percent to complete the arrangements.

In 2013, the midst of this creative period, Seretan and his long-term girlfriend broke up. After the break-up, a friend encouraged Seretan to apply for a summer music and producing fellowship in Alaska that year. Seretan applied and was accepted for not only the 2013 program as a student, but in the 2014 program as well as a teacher and program coordinator.

As a result, Seretan traveled and lived in Alaska for two summers and focused on learning, writing and recording new music. His focus in his first year in the program – 2013 – was on extended play, including the physical training needed to play music continuously for hours at a time, as well as the musical components needed to write and record long-form drone-esque pieces.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

These summers gave Seretan ample time to write and record music, including some songs that made it on it to his most recent self-titled release.

Seretan’s currently working on his second full-length record. He recorded several songs at Medford’s the Soul Shop earlier this year and plans to continue to record more songs in the coming months at Spaceman Sound in upstate New York. He is also continuing to play live shows and collaborate with other artists on their records.

Seretan said the connection to the audience and the band during a live performance and the feelings that arise from a connection of merit are what drives him to continue doing what he’s doing.

“There’s this tattoo that’s on the front of my album cover – ecstatic joy – there’s a feeling of just unimaginable levity that’s available to me almost exclusively through playing the type of music that I play, ” said Seretan. “I think that’s what it comes down to. And I wanna feel that way forever. I mean, I thought for a long time that it was the act of playing. But you can’t play music that’s made in a vacuum – at least I can’t. It’s about playing that music and that style of music with the people that I play it with for the people that listen and that swirling mass of humanity is just where it’s at.”

Seretan continued.

“It’s somewhat similar to how people describe opiate use in that it’s a blankness. It’s like a freedom from everything. And when it’s really really good, the emotions come later. It’s like everything from your mind goes into the background and maybe its like a corporeal feeling like there’s a very type of specific feeling of resonance I guess – like if everything’s in the sweet spot and the band sounds good and the people are with it and I’m getting it into this type of blank area – my body feels like it’s vibrating with the music in this very beautiful way. It’s like, you know you go about your daily life, you have thoughts that are intrusive and often if the performance is going terribly you’re like ‘Fuck my hair probably looks bad, that note was wrong,’ like all these things are flying around everywhere. But if it’s really good – that’s what I’m doing it for, for when it’s really good – it’s just like there’s nothing happening. It’s really peaceful, even though its the craziest shit- especially with the band… it can be so loud and so hectic and so almost like painful sometimes, but amidst all that chaos there’s like a wonderful, deep, sense of cosmic peace.”

Ben plays live frequently around New York, (one of his favorite and frequented venues is Shea Stadium is Williamsburg). He’s also playing a live and streaming hour long show this Wednesday – details and link here.

Buy Ben’s album here.

Facebook. Twitter, Youtube, Booking Info.

Leapling

(All photos are courtesy of Leapling.)

by Amanda Beland

Leapling, of Brooklyn, is Dan Arnes on vocals and guitar, Yoni David on drums, R.J Gordon on bass and Joe Postiglione on guitar.

The fellas just released their first full length LP (Vacant Page) this year and have been touring for the last couple of weeks – including a couple day stop at SXSW – with Baked and Lost Boy ?. Their sound is dreamy, yet immediate – it’s hard not to feel like you’re in the same room as the band with each track off Page. However, they certainly didn’t start off with their current sound.

20150325-100115.jpg

Leapling draws its name from Arnes who is a leap year baby.

Arnes said he seriously started listening to music – The Beatles, David Bowe etc – in 8th grade and began playing guitar shortly after.

“I didn’t have people in my high school that were playing in bands that much, so I would write music on my own and then record it bedroom style,” said Arnes. “I did that through high school just with like keyboards and my first PC. From there, it was kindof this slow build into what it is now.”

For a brief period, Arnes was in a band with current drummer Yoni David. After the project disbanded, Arnes continued working on his own music, drawing from his previous style – one focused almost entirely within a computer with no actual band. His first EP as Leapling – Losing Face – is based entirely in that style. While Arnes enjoyed “working in the box” for a period, he said the endless possibilities of digital recording became exhausting in a way.

“I was becoming very frustrated with doing every aspect of recording in the box just because there’s so many options to make changes and overwrite and second guess yourself, you know?” Said Arnes. “I would literally write a song and add stuff and there would be no real semblence of when the song would be done and yet, when it’s done, or you think it’s done, you can tinker with it. I did a lot of things, some on Face some afterwards – just more stuff than I needed.”

20150325-100034.jpg

Arnes was still in contact with David, who was then playing in a band with bassist R.J Gordon. In late 2012, Arnes and David started talking about putting the band back together. A mutual friend, Joe Postiglione completed the group on guitar.

(Arnes, David and Gordon also managed Big Snow Buffalo Lodge for a time, a DIY space in Bushwick. Big Snow closed in 2013 after David was shot in the arm outside the space that same year.)

With a full band assembled, Leapling’s writing and recording process continued to evolve and grow.

“Losing Face was kindof a stepping stone between that stuff I had been doing and now – all those tracks I used to do in the box – all the drums on Losing Face are fake drums, they’re sampled and I would play in,” said Arnes. ” I would kindof do everything in little installments and kindof write as I was going – very bedroomy style. Now, from this record, Vacant Page, I did the same process – I basically wrote the song and recorded a demo, brought the demo to the band and then we’d learn it and then we’d workshop it. What ended up happening is that because we were playing so much together, we kindof developed a kindof thing and style as a band … we did the record all live. It’s been a strange process for me to go from completely bedroomy, no live instrumentation to completely live and very a musiciany kindof recording. It has been infinitely better.”

The band recorded Vacant Page live at Big Snow Buffalo Lodge over the course of three or four days.

“I specifically wanted to do it very quickly because we knew the songs, we had been playing the songs, and we knew how to record it and how we wanted it to sound so I had a very specific idea going into recording,” said Arnes. “We knew the tone of the record so it was kindof fun to do it quick and pull it off and everyone was on the same page.”

Although Arnes said he’s proud of the entire record – “releasing your first full-length is a really big accomplishment” – he said he does have some favorite tracks … one of them happens to be my favorite as well.

“I really like Retrograde a lot,” said Arnes. “All the songs on the record we had recorded except for that song and the first song, Negative Space. So I had them in original demo form for awhile. It was suggested that I put strings on it. We had listened to it and decided we should do strings on it. Carlos (Hernandez) took it to a completely different place and it’s very cool – it’s cool to have something around that’s familiar … it’s the same recording that’s been around for awhile, but to get it back and just to have this amazing string arrangement added to it – he killed it – and it’s a cool feeling that I get when I listen to it because it’s familiar but completely unfamiliar so I can enjoy it in a way that I don’t enjoy the other tracks.”

Vacant Page was mixed over three or four days – also in 2014 – and was released on Exploding In Sound Records and Inflated Records at the beginning of February of this year, just in time for the band to head out on their first major U.S. tour. However, in the midst of the release and tour, Arnes has started working on his next record.

“Basically we gotta figure out when we’re gonna do the record – and how we’re gonna do it, but I have a bunch of demos written out,” said Arnes. “Basically that’s how it goes, when I get a song idea, I work it out I basically just record it in parts. I have to record it instantly or put it down in some way, otherwise I lose the idea. What happened was we finished the record and there was little while before it came out so I had time to work. When it came out, I already had like 25 demos of songs that were going to be on the next one.”

Arnes said playing music and being successful at it can be difficult, but it’s continued prevalence and importance in his life motivates him to continue to produce and write.

“I’m kindof writing more consistently than I ever have and it’s nice,” said Arnes. “Music is tough a lot of the time. It’s just a tough racket. I think what motivates me is the fact that I still do it. I find myself realizing how tough it is. Also, in high school, for a long time, I wanted to major in film making and then music kind of just appeared into my life and kindof wasn’t going away. I just sort of realized I was spending more and more time with – in high school, I would just do it in my spare time and kindof enter a flow state with it and just do it for hours and it just became very apparent that maybe I should just do that as much as possible.”

To check out Leapling live, visit their Facebook page. To purchase Vacant Page or Losing Face – which you should without question – visit their bandcamp.

Starlab Studios

by Amanda Beland

(Cover photo courtesy of Richard Thomas Hawke)

It’s the middle of winter and friends Matt Price and Marc Valois are building walls in hats, coats and mittens at 453 Somerville Ave. Aside from the tools and wood, the two men can also actively see their breath.

“There was no heat, it was insane,” said Price. “The toilet didn’t work for a long time too because the pipes froze, so that was pretty crazy.”

Price and Valois are two members of a five person executive board for Starlab Studios, a music, video, photo and entertainment-based recording studio in Somerville, Massachusetts. Price and Valois, along with James Lindsay, Lisa Vidal and Richard Hawke, not only manage the multi-faceted space, but have also built it from the ground up since the studio moved into its current location on Somerville Avenue in 2013.

With most of the construction finished on the space, the staff is prepping to officially open its doors for business at the end of this summer to truly show the city and the public its chops.

But don’t let the finish line fool you – it’s been a long race for the Lab.

image2

(Photo courtesy of the Starlab Instagram account.)

The original Starlab Studios was located at 32 Prospect St. – right outside of Union Square. It was originally rented and used for practice space with the original owner beginning construction on a recording studio in the basement of the single floor space. Valois and Price were in a band together called Movers and Shakers. They practiced at the original Lab. In the middle of construction in 2009, the original owner left the space so Valois, Price and the rest of the band took over and continued with renovations.

When the band began inspecting what had already been completed with the basement recording space, they realized they had a major problem on their hands.

“There were water issues,” said Price. “When we took it over, we started to look at okay how are we going to finish building this. That’s when we realized there was this huge mold problem. We decided we were gonna pull everything out and build it from scratch.”

To raise money for the renovations, the group held a music festival in the parking lot of the studio called Starlab Fest. The event charged an entrance fee and offered entrants access to food, booze and music in the sunshine.

(For more information on Starlab Fest, visit the Facebook page from last year’s event – which was the Fest’s fifth incarnation. More on continuing the tradition later.)

The first annual Fest raised enough capital to fund the reconstruction of the recording space, which Price, Valois and the rest of the band used to record the last Movers and Shakers record. However – the former Lab was more of chill and practice spot rather than a functioning business.

“It was mostly just like our friends that already practiced there or friends who just wanted to record a few songs or whatever, ” said Price. “We weren’t really open to bringing outside bands that were going to pay to record there.”

This was pretty much the status quo for the crew until the city of Somerville bought the property where the Lab was located to make room for a newly scheduled Green Line station in Union Square. With their backs against the wall, the guys started to look for a new place.

Shortly before the purchase, Price and Valois had been in contact with Richard Hawke and James Lindsay, who knew each other from college. Hawke and Lindsay had a studio space near Market Basket where they ran a photography and film business from. Price and Lindsay went to high school together and had been in communication about merging the two ventures together and possibly sharing a space.

Hawke and Lindsay temporarily moved in the old Lab and the newly combined crew began looking for a new, permanent space.

When a municipality forces a business, home owner etc off their property using eminent domain – as was the case with Starlab – they are required to help relocate the business, home etc. into a space that is equivalent to their previous space. If that exact space isn’t available, funds are provided to make the new space like the former space. Given this, the Lab was given funds by the city to help convert another space to be like the former recording space they had on Prospect Street.

Finding a space, however, became the real challenge.

“I can’t remember how long we were looking, but it was a long time – I wanna say six months,” said Price.

“It was getting to be quite a worry,” said Hawke.

The guys cast a wide search net, but focused a lot of their hunting in Somerville, Cambridge, Medford and Boston. They heard of the Somerville Avenue location in the fall of 2013 from a friend – who eventually hooked them up with the landlord – and just before Halloween of that year, they secured the new space.

10659097_625278454247826_5752136395620491759_o

(Photo courtesy of Richard Thomas Hawke.)

“A lot of places we were looking at were way more than we could afford,” said Price. “It was tough because it’s such a specific thing that we were trying to do – we had to build the space out. So it had to be a really particular space.”

Price and Hawke said they find it extremely lucky that the new space was not only still in Somerville, but in the same neighborhood as the previous Lab.

“Union Square was such a big part of our identity at the old place – doing a fest here and kind of being right in the middle of it,” said Price. “It would have definitely been a shame if we couldn’t stay. I mean, that was a big selling point for this place for sure.”

When the boys got the building, it was just one big empty space with two empty offices at the front. With money from the city, the group began basic framing with help from an out-of-state carpenter friend. What quickly ensured was months and months of an entirely self-motivated, self-taught construction experience.

image3

(Photo courtesy of the Starlab Instagram account.)

“We did everything ourselves, but it’s all professionally done,” said Hawke. “It’s DIY, but it’s not like cardboard walls. I know for me, learning about the soundproofing and how to frame was a really informative experience.”

Construction lasted for about eight months from the tail end of 2013 and throughout 2014. This included framing, soundproofing, insulating and wiring the control and live rooms.

“We’re done for now,” said Price. “Aside from aesthetically, the only thing that’s really left to do is treating all of the walls in this room and the other room, the live room, with acoustic paneling, That’s actually one thing that we’re not going to be able to do now just because we’re not in the financial position to do it until either end of the summer or the beginning of the fall after we’ve Starlab Fest. The acoustic paneling will be a few weeks or a month of building and then that’s when we’ll really open our doors to other bands and be a fully functional recording studio.”

Last month, the Lab was awarded a $1000 Sam’s Cub gift card through the organization’s annual American Small Business Competition. The card can be used to buy Sam’s club furniture and office supplies. Along with the card, the Lab also won a free trip to a training event and free promotion and mentoring through Score, the non-profit responsible for the contest. The Lab was one of 102 small businesses in the country to win.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The concept behind Starlab is fairly unique – it takes all the elements an artist or creative project could want or need and makes it all available together.

“I’m excited what we can sort of offer to people because I don’t see a lot of this out there,” said Hawke. “It’s audio and video production in a creative direction – all in one house together. And the fact that someone could come in and – say it’s like an album recording – they can also get head shots and video done, and have all of that under one roof.”

But while the overarching concept behind the Lab has always been clear those involved, thinking about specific details beyond the actual nuts and bolts of the building (literally) was periodically put to the side until the Lab’s now primary female presence came on the scene.

“What was great about Lisa coming and joining us boys is she kind of made us do this major push to really lock down our mission statement and really set up five and ten year business plans, which we’re working on right now,” said Hawke. “It’s exciting because it makes things more realistic, more of how do we make our goals happen and how to be successful at that and also be able to pay for bills and heat and all of that.”

Vidal met the guys through Lindsay at Improv Boston.

“Being in here for such a long stretch of time just building, with the only real goal in mind that – we just gotta get this done somehow and then we’ll figure it out after – you just get kind of lost in the tunnel vision thing,” said Price. “At first, Lisa was on the outside of that – she lives next door basically and was friends with all of us and would just be here, helping out or doing whatever. When we started talking about her being involved it was almost like she could just see like here are these guys, they’re in this one tunnel vision type of situation– she sort of brought us out of that and helped us start focusing on something that’s not that. It’s been awesome.”

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Currently, the Lab rents out the live room as practice space and does periodic audio recordings in the building. They also host non-music related events including monthly stand-up comedy nights and movie nights called Disasterpiece Theater, sponsored by High Energy Vintage. According to Hawke and Price, these events are great, but the hope is to make the majority of the happenings at Starlab more creative ventures related to the Lab’s mission, which includes continuing to host Starlab Fest despite not having the traditional space the Lab used for the past five years (new location TBD).

“I miss the old place for nostalgic reasons, we had a lot of good times there,” said Price. “But this place is just so much better. I’m really excited to get this finally going as a business and to see what’s next.”

Contact Starlab about rates and availability here.

Facebook.

Instagram.

Twitter.

10661658_625297370912601_651694136825398882_o

(Photo courtesy of Richard Thomas Hawke.)

Peter Matthew Bauer

by Amanda Beland

Peter Matthew Bauer doesn’t want to be known as a side man.

“I hope it’s like – Neil Young was in Rick James’ band and no one really thinks about that,” said Bauer. “That’d be the ideal way of thinking – I don’t know if that’s the case – I’m not saying I’m Neil Young; what I’m saying is that I’d hope that they’d be Rick James.”

Bauer is the former bassist and organist for The Walkmen.

He’s been working solo since last year after The Walkmen went on an indefinite hiatus.

Although he just finished up an East Coast living tour – including a show in Medford, Mass. – he has no plans of slowing down on his solo journey.

“In The Walkmen, when we decided to break up it was like a pretty freaky, cataclysmic moment because it’s like how do you make a living? I’ve got a family you know – so that was not good in that fashion,” said Bauer.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Despite the anticipated hurdles of venturing out on his own, Bauer never questioned his connection to music.

“I mean, it’s just a die-hard, survival, like can’t live without it, wish you could do something else, but you can’t do anything else, like if you don’t do it for a day you get angry or upset – it’s just like your blood, you know?” said Bauer. “You get that – gotta keep moving like entertainer thing going after a while that gets in your blood too. You’re like a carny, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. like ‘Ah – sorry kids I gotta go.’”

Bauer quickly picked up the pieces and started writing songs and arrangements by himself for the first time.

“It started out very much by myself – really by myself,” said Bauer. “It was me writing music and really trying to teach myself how to do everything, including recording by myself. I called in some friends when I finally made the record, but I was like okay – I’m doing everything – I have to find a voice to do this.”

The result was his 2014 release “Liberation” where many of the tracks document important moments in Bauer’s life – including his childhood in an Ashram in India and upstate New York.

“The first record is supposed to be about how I grew up. like when I was a kid and this kind of thing, it’s like a entrance into things,” said Bauer. “That was the idea.”

Bauer admits some of his earlier lyrics and songs were pretty critical and doused with resentment and skepticism of the culture and atmosphere he grew up in – an atmosphere he said “stays with you even when you’re not in it.”

“I was trying to figure it out as to why was I so nasty about everything,” said Bauer. “The record started out with me writing songs about making fun of Scientologists and stuff and there are songs like that on the record.”

Bauer said his lyrics eventually evolved into a higher place of perspective – but he thought it was still important for people to hear his earlier songs.

“It turned into something else that can become a little more transcendent and less like choosing sides and less like being a jerk about things – but I thought it was good to keep the kind of jerky songs on there,” said Bauer. “It’s a very real feeling, like being a skeptic is good, being open to something when you can find out ‘Alright I’m gonna believe in this – I wanna get completely beyond belief” and that’s the heart of everything. Then you get to that and you can find that sort of space there. That’s what I’m always trying to do.”

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Bauer wrote and recorded “Liberation” entirely by himself and plans to do the same on a second record, which is currently in the works. Bauer said his involvement in recording and producing was very limited when he was playing bass and organ in the Walkmen, even when they were recording at Marcata Recording, their self-founded studio and recording space.

However – despite his limited involvement with the technical aspects of recording, he said he felt dissatisfied at times with the actual sounds the band produced.

“For a long time we were recording records with engineers and producers and you’d sit there and think ‘Why is this so hard to make anything sound good, like at all, like this is just drums, bass and a guitar, why does it sound so terrible?'” said Bauer. “And you’d work with that in a recording studio. Then I realized after making this record, it’s so easy to make it sound like you want it to. It’s all just the group that makes it sound like that.”

Bauer continued.

“It’s just not hard, like if it’s up to you and it’s just you, you just do it and there’s no thought or extra time taken on it, you know?” said Bauer. “You don’t obsess over anything. you just go ahead and crash through it. It’s like knocking a hole through a wall. It’s just a more vibrant and exciting experience that way.”

After the release of “Liberation”, Bauer continued to stray from the mold of his previous project and decided to put together a series of small, living room shows across the East Coast. Unlike the large venues he was used to playing, Bauer thought intimate venues would give him a chance to actually get to know the people listening to his music.

“I like interacting with people a lot and that’s a big part of why I thought I could do this,” said Bauer. “When I was in band, I’d still like go out and kind of wander around and just hope to talk to somebody strange. Not just like stuck in a room with the same people.”

IMG_6987

Bauer made the call for venues at the end of 2014 and began his first tour at the end of February. One of his stops was the Soul Shop recording studio in Medford, Mass. The Soul Shop is an all analog recording studio started by musicians Elio DeLuca and Patrick Grenham in 2007 after their band Keys to the Streets of Fear recorded an album at the Walkmen’s former studio Marcata Recording.

The show was unique for many reasons, one of which being that DeLuca, the head engineer at the Shop, recorded the entire performance. Bauer said if things “sounded good” he’d release the recording.

“You know, if tonight Elio made a recording of a song and it sounded good – I’d put it out tomorrow,” said Bauer. “When we tested it earlier, I heard what he did and it sounded great – I said if you wanna mix it down right now I’d put it out right now. Like to me that’s just a much more exciting way to do things.”

(Check out official photos from the performance taken by photographer Liz McBride)

Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 preset

Bauer is currently selling tickets for a West Coast living room tour and is planning/booking dates and locations for a Mid-West tour and a European tour in the late summer, early fall.

“I think you feel like you’re getting across yourself in a very specific way – it’s very kind of raw like when people say that word, I don’t really know what it means,” said Bauer. “I think it means like the good and bad of what you do is very unable to be hidden, so its kind of a funny scene.”

Bauer is also planning on recording a couple songs in April for his anticipated second record. He said he hopes that people and fans will recognize and respect him and his music as it’s own solitary project – just as a side project by a former member of The Walkmen.

“I’m a young guy, I mean it’s not like this a side project or this is the guy from The Walkmen, “ said Bauer. “it’s exhausting thinking about yourself that way. But it seems like that stuff recedes in your memory. People ask you about it and you’re like I can’t remember. It’s like a different thing – it’s just a different time and a different world.”

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

For more information of Peter Matthew Bauer and to check out upcoming show dates, check out his website and Facebook. For more information on the Soul Shop, check out their website and Facebook.