STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Your new album, THE HELP MACHINE, is just
about to be released. How are you
feeling about the way it turned out and the reaction to it so far?
MILES ZUNIGA: Really good.
Celebrating their 25th
Anniversary this year, California-based label Hopeless Records has been at the forefront of the modern Punk
movement since their inception in 1994. With a host of Pop Punk, Hardcore, and
Post-Punk acts on their roster, the label has been one of the most influential
on the scene. With releases by All Time
Low, Sum 41, Neck Deep, Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, Yellowcard, Anarbor, Taking
Back Sunday, Silverstein, We Are The In Crowd, Bayside, The Used, The Wonder
Years, The Human Abstract and Enter
Shikari, Hopeless has always embraced the energy of modern Punk and
releasing albums that have helped shape the genre. Through it all, the label
has earned the respect of the Punk Pop/Emo kids and that is what is most
The Complete Series 1 to 4
All Region A, B +C
7 disc Blu-ray deluxe box
It’s not the size of your catalog
that matters, it’s how you use it…
Years before it became a name for
a mobile video rental service, Red Box was a band. To be more precise,
British Pop outfit Red Box released their debut single – “Chenko” – in 1983.
Since then, they’ve only managed to release four albums, but what they lack in
quantity, they certainly make up for in quality. Red Box is a staggeringly
original outfit that mixes everything from classic Pop to Native American
chants, from World Music rhythms to winsome sing-along melodies. Whether the
song is bright and upbeat or slow and somber, there’s always a feeling of pure passion
that inhabits Red Box recordings.
Regardless of what the
Billboard charts might insinuate, Pop Punk – AKA Punk Pop – was not born in the
mid- ‘90s. The roots of the genre first came to prominence in the late ‘70s
thanks to bands like Ramones,
Buzzcocks, The Dickies, and The
Undertones. The blending of the raw power of Punk Rock and soaring,
sing-a-long melodies reignited the Indie scene and made Punk more -for lack of
a better term – consumer-friendly. The term ‘Pop Punk’ wasn’t widely used
until bands like The Offspring,
Green Day, Rancid, and Blink-182 brought
the genre to the mainstream, selling millions of albums in the process. MTV and
radio embraced this new movement that was as hook-filled as it was loud and
aggressive. It is hard to tell whether Pop Punk was a reaction against the
slick Pop and smooth R&B that filled the charts at the time or a full-on
musical revolution but whatever happened, happened.
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: VINYL TAP has just been
released. How are you feeling about the
album and the reaction to it so far?
JAY BECKENSTEIN: I have felt great about this record since the days
when we first started rehearsing it. The band responded to the challenge of
doing alternative covers, really, I think quite brilliantly, and I’m really
proud of this record. Reactions have been excellent. I think that people really
responded to us doing some material other than ours. I also think that they
responded to how much we changed the material and how the material was
inspiration for more creativity.
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the
U.S. charts very rarely embraced blatantly retro bands like the U.K. did.
Sometimes, a band like The Stray Cats would defy the odds and connect
with a large commercial audience in the States but that was a rarity. Bands
like Sha Na Na were considered a novelty act by the critics and would
generally be ignored. At that time in America, the ‘oldies’ were so in the past…
Nearly 40 years after the release of their debut album, Liverpudlian quartet A Flock Of Seagulls is still best remembered for Mike Score’s aviation-approved hairstyle. While it earned the band plenty of attention back in the heady days of MTV, it ended up hurting their musical legacy in the long run. And THAT is a shame because for a few years there, AFOS was one of the finest Pop bands of the era. Mixing mood-inducing synth work with delay-laden guitar licks, A Flock Of Seagulls straddled the line between the cool coldness of early OMD and the bold bravado of U2, bringing both worlds together while adding a bit of sci-fi imagery and immediate commercial pop hooks. When the single “I Ran” was released (before Score’s hair grew wings), the timing was perfect and AFOS’ career began to soar. But apart from that big hit, did the band have much else to offer? Oh, yeah. Much, much more. With their self-titled album, Mike, his brother Ali Score (drums), Frank Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar) set the bar extremely high, both for themselves and for their contemporaries. The band may have been lumped into the ‘Synth Pop’ category, but Reynolds’ guitar work was just as important to their sound as the keyboards and Score’s voice and futuristic lyrics. Take a listen to the glorious “Space Age Love Song”, for example. It’s a guitar and synth instrumental that just happens to have vocals. These four musicians created their own musical world and for a few years, they were untouchable. Oh, and did I mention that they won a Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammy for “DNA” from their debut album?
When Punk Rock raised its mischievous
head in 1976, the Rock ‘n’ Roll landscape was forever changed. Just as
important as the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the ‘50s (Elvis, Buddy, Chuck, Jerry, etc.) and the rise of The Beatles, the Punk Rock movement
deconstructed the myth of Rock music and built something new and raw from its
foundation. While the movement had a definite ‘look,’ it was really a movement
driven by emotion. It was rebellion with feeling. Fueled by frustration and
anger, the music came with a message. From overtly political to painfully
personal, the Punk Rock classes of 1976 and ’77 – Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, etc. – inspired a new
generation of musicians to form bands and make their passions and presence
known. One of those bands was San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys.
Why isn’t Fischer-Z one of the most popular bands in the universe? Since
their debut album, WORD SALAD, was released in 1979, band leader/singer/songwriter
John Watts has continued to grow as
a songwriter, often switching gears during his musical journey while still
maintaining artistic integrity. Perhaps even more importantly, his lyrics are
always honest and relevant, which is often reflected by the musical
arrangements that surround them. Watts is not a man who continues to recycle
the same musical ideas that initially brought the band to the public’s
attention four decades ago. F-Z’s catalog is not filled with carbon copies of “So
Long,” the band’s most recognizable hit from 1980. Instead, Watts has continued
to move forward, adding new layers to songwriting while thoughtfully stripping
other layers away. In some ways, he’s constantly reinventing himself without
abandoning what drew people to his talent in the first place.