Posted 7 months ago

Special People performing live at Stem Graphics in Abingdon MD. Just click on the picture to read the interview with Michael Watts of Stem Graphics.

Posted 7 months ago

Music Blooms at Stem Graphics

A top notch graphics print shop and an exciting new place to see bands, Stem Graphics in Harford County is that and much more. T-shirts, album covers and all your print needs made by hands that care. Michael Watts is an artist and the owner of Stem Graphics. I had the pleasure of performing there and it was an incredible experience. There was beer, food, awesome bands and a perfect atmosphere, all covered with the admission to enter. Mike, Shane(Andrala Music) and the crew transform the warehouse into the ultimate party and everybody benefits. Please take the time to read this interview and support people who really care about bands and creating a healthy vibrant music and arts scene. - greg s

For more than a decade now, bands, labels and venues have been trying to figure out what works in the ever-changing music industry/world. The internet has changed everything. It used to be if I wanted to see a band, I had to go into a smoky bar or a DIY house show. But now it seems that shows can occur almost anywhere and with much more of a social, party-like setting. It makes the musical events much more stimulating and fulfilling. I’ve been part of one of the Stem Graphics Sessions and it was incredible. There was great food, great beer, great music a receptive crowd and you were very involved in helping everything run smoothly. It’s rare to find someone who takes so much pride and interest in making their events the very best they can be. What are you trying to achieve with the Stem Graphics Sessions?

It’s true that the internet has changed everything for the music industry. Pretty much anyone with editing software and a Facebook account can make and promote an album. Someone said: “if it was easy, everyone would do it”. Well, it is and they are. With so many choices at our fingertips, we as listeners have learned to appreciate music for its message or how it makes us feel rather than listening to any particular style. It used to be that the style of music you listened to dictated how you dressed or even who you hung out with.
The lines have become blurred and it’s now acceptable to be a “fan of music” no matter what genre it might fall into. Stem Sessions is a celebration of just that. The idea is to allow for the diversity of music and people to come together and for everyone to have a good time.

Are you ever concerned that the events will become too big and catch the eye of people in high places that like to stop fun things from happening?

I don’t think we’re bothering anyone. We are located in a business park and it’s pretty empty by the time things get rolling. Everyone’s been considerate to the other businesses and at the end of the night, people have been sticking around to help clean up and make sure the parking lot is spotless. I guess when you have something cool going on, people respect it and do what they can to help keep it going. If we don’t give anyone a reason to complain, we shouldn’t have any issues.

MICA has always had an influence on many musical scenes in Baltimore City. The other day someone said that several of the Universities in the city play a major role in shaping the musical and arts cultures. I’ve been very excited about all the addition of art galleries, book stores, theatres and music venues that have built up around the Station North Arts District. I understand that MICA has played a role in this transformation. As a graduate of MICA talk about your experiences at the school and how you feel the school has grown and changed.

I think MICA is somewhat responsible for why Baltimore is such a hub for talented artists and musicians as well as providing an opportunity for such diversity. When you get that much young talent together, things are gonna happen. When I was going to MICA, student bands weren’t scoring gigs at venues. If you wanted to play a show, it was most likely in a basement or a dank bar. Most shows were very intimate since there wasn’t much separation from the band and it’s audience, which made for an awesome experience! This is something you can’t quite capture in larger venues. With the growth of Station North, places like The Windup Space, The Hour Haus, and The Metro Gallery are providing local bands the opportunity to play in front of larger crowds wile still keeping things intimate and personal.

Most people have an album that has helped them get through the toughest times in their lives. What is your go to album when you are feeling at life’s lowest points? What music gets you pumped up and makes you speed through 25mph neighborhoods?

I have a great collection of local music since we print shirts for a bunch of bands and I like to trade set up fees for albums. It’s hard to pinpoint any one album for any one reason. I’m digging the band Arbouretum right now. The albums “Coming Out of the Fog” and “The Gathering” seem to be my go to “get me out of a funk” albums. For when I really want to dig in, I put on some Bad Brains, Double Dagger, JEFF the brotherhood -“Heavy Days”, Fugazi, or Special People (shameless plug since they practice at my shop and they really get me going). I go through periods of listening to post-rock instrumental stuff like Tortoise, El Ten Eleven, and Clutchy Hopkins, mainly for background printing music. Throw in some occasional Lungfish, Weird War, and a day or two of nothing but Reggae and that pretty much sums it up.

Mike, you and I are close in age. In the early 90’s I was in a band that played the Bel Air Youth Center several times and tons of kids would come out to the shows. It seems like Har. Co. and Bel Air have always had some sort of active music scene. What about the area seems to foster so many bands and live music fans?

Gerry Muccioli of had a big role in a lot of shows in Harford County. He put together a bunch of the youth center shows and gave bands the opportunity to play in front of huge crowds. I remember going to a show with at least 200 kids in the audience. I don’t think the youth center quite expected such a huge turnout which freaked ‘em out, and things kinda slowed down a bit for shows in Harford County. The population up here is huge and growing and quite frankly, there’s not much to do for teens and twenty somethings in the way of a night life (unless Ruby Tuesdays or TGI Fridays is your idea of fun). The opportunity to see a live “original” band in Harford County tends to bring ‘em out of the woodwork.

I am curious what local bands you used to go and see in the 90’s and what venues did you goto? How has that influenced your Stem Graphics musical events?

I remember going to see Fugazi quite a bit. They would typically play in odd venues like a high school gym or a DYI art-space. The most they ever charged was $10 at the door. The energy at the show was always through the roof and every show was memorable. This is exactly what I hope every Stem Session will be.

Who else is involved in getting things together for each show? What does it take to turn a screen print shop into a venue?

Shane McCarthy is a huge part of what’s going on. He books the bands and puts together the lineup. He’s also been involved with getting local businesses to donate food and beverages and other supplies to help keep costs down. He’s a big part of keeping things on schedule and making sure everything’s on point. Matt Riley printed the first Stem Session poster and I’m pretty sure Nolen Strals is designing the poster for the upcoming show (this Feb. 28 2014featuring Roomrunner!). Since I’m running a business out of the space, I have to go from print-mode to show-mode pretty quickly. I tend to get help from anyone who’s around. I’ve been blown away by how many people help with setting up and how many people stick around to clean up after the show. It makes it easy to get the shop back in order and ready for the next print day. I’m truly grateful for everyone’s help and consideration and I look forward to upcoming shows.

Visit the website, support local business and artists.

Posted 10 months ago

DIY touring today: Interview with Jordannah Elizabeth

Posted 10 months ago

The Force of Touring

     In the very early 90’s I started going to a lot of local punk/hardcore/metal shows in and around Baltimore, MD. I had always been interested in playing music but never had formal training, so starting a punk band seemed perfect for my skill level. I loved the passion and energy of the music. The anti-establishment lyrical themes resonated with me after 12 years of private Catholic schooling. The independent spirit and social community of DIY seemed like home to me. It was a social network that involved people going out and actually meeting. Still to this day the DIY ethics are my roots.

     Another element of the DIY scene was the ability to connect with other bands in other towns and book your own tour. Most of the time you could trust the people on the other side to help you book your tour, promote and give you a floor to sleep on. It was a tight knit and quality social network that reached around the globe. The mythical DIY tour - jumping in a van, playing, and sweating wasn’t easy, but it was very real. At the time, gasoline was barely ever over $1 a gallon. Today, touring seems to present all new challenges besides the price of gas. When independent music was harder to get, people felt it had more value. Sometimes going to see a band on tour was the only way to get their music. In general there just didn’t seem to be as many entertainment options, so people found live shows to be a special event, somewhere they could meet other people who were like them. The door money went to the touring bands, people bought merchandise and no one stared or texted on an iPhone during the performance, because iPhones didn’t exist. I believe that people had fewer distractions, so they could be more engaged and moved by the live performance. Today it seems more important to document and post about being there, instead of actually being present in the moment. Life is constant change, and things have certainly changed, but there are still independent artists who tour.

     My question is:  how do you make it work in today’s environment? The best person to ask is some one who is actually doing it. Jordannah Elizabeth’s music “is the psychedelic folk soul manifestation of her nomadic spirit.” She has lived many places, including Baltimore, LA, NYC and Colorado. Jordannah not only writes and performs her own music, she also promotes, does bookings and sets up events/parties. That is not it, Jordannah writes about music for several publications like The Deli Magazine as well as for her own journalistic creations. I was able to get an early listen to her newest album, ”Bring To the Table,” at a Baltimore listening party. This was the review that I gave to her on my experiences:

"Sometimes people only get honest once they’ve left and gotten into their cars. I can assure you I still had great things to say about your album as I drove away. Your sound seems like a very true and genuine projection of yourself. Even though the production was professional it still maintained a dark, raw energy that surrounded the music giving it a true organic grit that sticks to you even when you are finished listening to it. You did a great job, you should be proud." - greg

     Please enjoy her honest insights into today’s independent touring musician. And check out music, tour dates and many things Jordannah right here:

1. Jordannah, you just returned home to Baltimore from the West Coast part of your current tour. How can an East Coast-based musician, her band, and instruments get to the West Coast without going broke and driving hundreds of miles? Is it crowd funded? Are loans taken out?

That’s a good question. An investor and tour manager funded my last trip to the Bay Area in January and I am still paying that money back. This time, I was in a better place financially, and my band and I all paid for our own plane tickets. Since I funded the first half of my tour for the east coast, my band mate helped with funds for the west coast, and took care of food and transportation. It was all DIY. All the money I made from shows, I gave 100% to my band. I put nothing in my pocket while we were on the road. We stayed with friends, who were generous and open to us. We worked hard, we have jobs and we did what we had to do without complaint.

2. Do independent artists need a booking agent or management company? If so, how can they even get the attention of a booking agent or management? Do the DIY ethics of booking a tour work anymore?

Well, I’m blessed because I am finishing a degree in entertainment business, and have been managing and booking bands for almost a decade. I had the foresight as a teenager to learn the business before I got really serious about my music career, so I booked the entire tour.

With that said, I am in meetings with managers and publicists and have been throughout my entire career. I don’t like to manage myself, because I like to have the time and space to concentrate on my own roster and the DIY community, while someone or a firm has my back.

Club bookers are the closest things to booking agents and you want to have a great relationship with club booking managers. I would see be careful about your conduct at clubs, because you want to come back time and time again.

You’ve got to have serious quality work to work with a good management firm, booking agency and publicist. This is why I flew to Cali to record in a real studio, so my new EP would be strong enough to attract serious professionals. It’s about the quality of your work.

3. What are the reasons or benefits behind independent touring in the current state of music? How can an artist build a draw in a town they’ve never played before?

I’m personally learning that opening for a bigger local, national or international band really helps. We opened for Decca Records artist, Phildel in San Fran, and the crowd was amazing. Café Du Nord’s booker really fought for us to open for her, and we were a great match musically, and the audience appreciated us. We had to be on our game, but we were really blessed to play a strong show that night.

Social media helps. But yes, jumping on a bill with other well known musicians is your best bet. This was my second time in SF, so I had my feet a little wet.

4. What role does a record label play in the current music infrastructure? If an independent artist isn’t selling thousands of songs/albums are labels even interested in them? Do labels believe in developing an artist or do they just want the next group on their rise to 15 minutes of Youtube fame?

Well, I just heard a Cinderella story about a band called Ashrae Fax. They recorded and album and played some shows in the early 2000’s and broke up in 2003. This year, they just happened to put some recordings out on band camp, and got a Facebook page and Mexican Summer Records found them, and reissued their album, optioned another record and put them out on the road.

You never know. I’m learning that, it’s really your quality of work. Labels are run by human beings with ears. They’re run by music nerds. If someone who has a label hears your music, and knows you’re hungry, they’ll help you out.

I say, just be present and visible, whether it be online or live. Network, and send your music out…just make sure it’s good! You know when you’re ready and when you could be better. But keep relationships with bookers and whoever you may meet along the way. I watch bands for years, and watch them evolve… I know a lot of people have been following me and watching me evolve.

Just work hard. Don’t worry too much. Work on your craft, and hire a manager or publicist, tour and keep moving…or do it yourself…just be good at what you do and you’ll attract labels.

5. How can a musician set themselves apart from the millions of other free music available online?

Don’t worry about other people. Don’t worry about other bands. Keep your head in your work and your sound and be yourself. Have a relationship with your fans, whether you have 5 or 5,000. Love the people who love you, and if you treat them well, and play well, they will tell others.

6. Your music is described as psychedelic folk, please share with us your best and worst psychedelic experiences. Do you think psychedelics can be used as tools to help people explore beyond their usual realm of the senses? Johns Hopkins has been doing research on the effects of psychedelics on people recently diagnosed with cancer that are mentally struggling with the diagnosis. What do you think the benefits might be?

Yeah, I did psychedelics when I was younger, from like 17 years old to about 21. I mean, psychedelics can be beautiful. I don’t really advocate drugs or mind-altering substances anymore. I’d also like to say, just because people make psych music, doesn’t always mean they’ve taken psychedelics.

Anyway, I’ve never really had a “bad trip”. I had friends around me who I knew well. I think psychedelics made me wiser, and more spiritually and esoterically aware. I think they taught me how to express my feelings artistically, meaning letting my energy flow freely to touch others and my audience.

They helped me have an interesting relationship with music, but with that said, I also went to music school and learned ear training and theory. I think the combination of the psychedelic experience along with the intellectual and educational training from music has helped me grow as an artist.

By the way, I don’t do drugs now. I drink and have fun, and take medicine when I’m sick, but I think if you’re an artist, you were born that way, and the music is going to get you however it needs to. Everyone’s journey and relationship with it is different.

7. What elements of psychedelic and folk music appeal to you the most? Are they natural expressions of your art and lyrics?

Well, I like love songs. I like soul, blues, country and folk because they are real and talk about relationships and the trials and tribulations in a raw manner. I like psych music because it’s beautiful, and it’s made to resonate with the spirit.

I tell people, “when you listen to me, you’re supposed to feel like your in love and dying on LSD.”

People get that…cus that’s how they feel. So, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes, we’ll clear a room because of the intensity, other times we’ll draw people in. It depends on the venue and the vibe.

There are times when people come up to me, and they say “You’re music brought me peace” or “You’re voice brought me tranquility…like everything’s going to be ok”. That is why I was born to do this. That is why I make the music. I want to bring people back to their center, to their heart and their spirit.

8. What aspects of your personal character have been most beneficial for spreading your music to the world? What skills/abilities does the artist of today need to be successful? What do you consider success to be?

Well, I believe in love. I set my goals towards being compassionate, generous and open to others. It’s not easy, because this business is not easy. I have to meditate and work very hard to practice what I preach. I try to be a good example for female musicians, artists and industry professionals, so I try to dress and speak, and act in ways I feel maintain my own self-respect. I think people pick up on that. I don’t concentrate on my look, I concentrate on having a good voice, and playing good shows, and giving other bands opportunities when I can.

But, in my world, I think success comes from being good at what you do. I’ve said it several times throughout this interview. Work on your own craft tirelessly, and polish it. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but my work has gotten me pretty far.

I’ve recorded 40 demos in the last year, and four of the songs made the EP. Three days after we got out of the studio, I’m beginning to write the LP, and am beginning to work on booking the summer, album release tour, etc. I live the life, and nothing else. I have sacrificed a lot to do what I do, but it is my purpose. An artist must truly know if they were born to do what they do.

Some people choose to have families, and day jobs, and relationships with people who demand a lot of time, but I feel that in order to be successful, you have to surround yourself with people who believe in you, and who won’t hold you back. You have to believe in yourself, and don’t let rejection, discouragements or setbacks stop you.

What do I consider success to be? When you can buy a house and pay your bills, and raise a family strictly from making music and/or working in the music field.

Free music:

Posted 11 months ago
Rachel Taft, mother of Feed the Scene

Rachel Taft, mother of Feed the Scene

Posted 11 months ago

Interview with Rachel Taft of Feed the Scene

Give thanks to our mothers. They are where we all began. For better or for worse, it was our mothers that sacrificed nutrients enabling us to grow and develop. If you are reading this, then congratulations because you made it out and you are very much alive.

It’s no surprise that all around the globe from the beginning of human existence until this very moment the archetype of the life-giving mother figure appears over and over again in art and story. The features that resonate from every archetype of mom include nurturing, feeding, fierce compassion and protection of life. Rachel Taft created Feed the Scene and, like Venus, she embodies all the bad-ass mothering qualities we’ve come to love in our own mothers.

The seed for Feed the Scene was planted early in her life as she went out to local DIY shows. That seed grew into an idea that touring bands need to eat and sleep somewhere. The idea grew into a physical and gustatory reality with Feed The Scene. The name says it all, Feed the Scene is a non-profit organization that is primarily run by Rachel. She figured out very quickly that most independent or DIY touring bands struggle with eating healthy and finding a safe quiet place to get restful sleep. Rachel solved the problem.  She cooks the bands food and has spare beds and couches for them to rest on. If “thank you”s were worth money she’d be a billionare by now but instead Rachel sometimes works three or more jobs to support her passion/organization. She not only cooks and houses the bands, but she is involved with booking shows as well.

When I first heard about Feed the Scene, I was blown away. Besides being a great idea, it also seemed like one of the nicest things I had ever heard. We always pass on these interviews to you because we know you dream about following your heart’s greatest passions. We want you to know it’s okay to follow those passions. Others are doing it and it might not be easy, but it sure is fulfilling. When you die and reach that splinter of a moment when your entire life flashes in front of your eyes, what do you want to see yourself doing? Read this interview, get inspired and if you are motivated, make a donation. Amazingly, so far Feed the Scene has fed and housed over 298 musicians. People can make donations via paypal to or they can send safeway or costco giftcards to Feed The Scene 3512 Bank Street Baltimore, MD 21224

follow on Facebook!/FeedTheScene

- greg scelsi

  1. Even as I child I was absolutely fascinated by the supernatural. Please tell us about any supernatural experience that you have had. Ghost, near death experience, UFO, Loch Ness Monster or anything that’s unexplainable by “normal” standards.

    I haven’t had any supernatural experiences. Everything is explainable by “normal” standards, you just have to have all the actual facts. I don’t specifically believe in ghosts, but its possible if energy is neither created nor destroyed that they are left over energy from the deceased. I’ve never died. UFOs aren’t unexplainable; if other life exists, then it simply exists. If it doesn’t, then someone made it up. The Loch Ness Monster was most likely a myth of the same proportions as dragons. I assume since dragons and mythical creatures exist in many cultures over many different time periods, it makes more sense that those people dug up dinosaur bones and assumed they were fantastical creatures that were recently deceased.

  2. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you and how has that influenced who you are today?

That’s hard - I’ve had many people who have done things for me in my life. The nicest thing recently though, I was worried I was going to have to close my doors. I hadn’t had work in a month or two and I posted about it on facebook and a bunch of the same musicians and people in the local community I have hosted, fed or help out all chipped in what they could to help me stay open. It really felt awesome to see the show of support from my friends and music family. I’ve been financially supporting Feed The Scene for two years and over 270 bands, so the funds really helped.

3. Punk and Hardcore music can mean many different things to many different people. When I first heard punk and hardcore music in middle school it changed my life. It represented the freedom to do my own thing independent of big companies. It also represented political change through aggressive social change. What does the music mean to you?

I attended local punk shows from the time I was able to get out of the house on my own. It was where all my friends were; it was a sense of community. I knew that almost every Friday or Saturday night, everyone I knew was going to be at VFW post 160 to see Code Blue or The Smizzokes or the other bands that rotated through the line-up of 5 bands for 5 bucks. Many of those people who I knew back in the day are still friends of mine and hold prominent positions in the local music scene today. In a sense, punk, hardcore and ska music gave me a place to belong for most of my life. The reason I started doing what I do is a result of that.

4.  DIY bands booking their own tours and showing up as strangers in a strange town can be exciting. Where to sleep and where to eat are common and important concerns. With Feed the Scene you have created a solution to those questions. Would you like to see a Feed The Scene in every city or are you satisfied with it being a Baltimore thing? Do you have help, interns or do you do everything by yourself?

I would love to see a Feed The Scene in every city. I have a couple people who are interested in starting one and I actually have a trial chapter in the Philippines. A hardcore band I’ve never actually met asked me to sponsor some music festivals out there and they ended up liking what I was doing so much that they started a restaurant and asked me if they could try being a Feed The Scene. So, somewhere, halfway across the world, people are feeding bands. I think that’s rad. As for help, I have many people who have helped me with different parts of the business over the last two years. Shanrock is my concert buddy. She was seriously instrumental in networking in the first year of the business. She dragged me back stage so many places where we made awesome connections; there is no person better at meeting people. My friend Joe is my catering second in command and helps me when we do jobs to raise money for FTS. My Dad and Stepmom and friends Tracey, Lori, Aaron, Matty, Erica, Brian and many others have volunteered their time/funds or worked for me when needed, but I do 90% of the day to day operations myself. I cook the dinners, book and run the shows, I wash all the sheets and clean the room, house and bathrooms…

5. Food and shelter are obvious concerns for all small touring bands. Why do you think you took the initiative to start Feed the Scene? So many people complain or see problems but they never move beyond their comfort or laziness to actually go out and make a difference. You are one of a rare few that actually acts upon a problem, works hard and brings forth a solution. Who or what inspired your motivation to make a difference?

My mother passed away 4 years ago. It was over in 30 seconds and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. It hit me really hard. My ex broke up with me 3 weeks later, I was laid off 6 months after that, then my mother’s mother had a massive stroke almost exactly a year after my mom passed… It was a lot to deal with in under 365 days and a pretty dark time for me. So many people wrote songs and lyrics that helped me deal with her passing that I decided I wanted to give back to the community that had helped me so much. To help those musicians who are still writing because they love it and fostering a sense of community in their own scenes as well as spreading community in their travels. People who write music that means something. If the musicians I help can go one city further on their tour, maybe there is one kid in that crowd who needs to hear that one set of words to have the world make sense again.

Support through paypal:

Posted 1 year ago

It’s Here! And it’s FREE!


Everyone at Hero Shores Transmission has been working day and night to bring you our fabulous first compilation of some of the best Maryland bands.  The whole idea started just a few months ago in preparation for our 1 year anniversary.  We saw and heard some great music over this first year.  We really wanted to bring the bands together in one place and share it with you.  Everyone worked tirelessly to get this done quickly.  Thank you to all 14 bands that submitted their wonderful tracks: Hive Bent, The Water, F, The Dry Sea, Mr. Seaweed, USSA Pleasuredome, Natural Velvet, Deaf Scene, Arab Spring, Timmy Sells His Soul, Vlaad, The Expanding Man, Fractal Cat and Time Columns.  A special thank you to Yang Zhao for creating the album artwork and layout.  Several release shows are scheduled.

Sat Oct 5th at Fraziers on the Avenue in Hamden with Deaf Scene, F and USSA Pleasuredome

Fri. Oct 11th at The Holy Underground with The Dry Sea, Hive Bent and Arab Spring

Fri. Oct 25th a special Flying Dog event at Belvedere Square with The Water, and USSA Pleasuredome

and more to come.  Please listen to and download the entire compilation for FREE. A limited amount of cd’s will be available from the bands and at shows.  Our goal is to do 2 more compilations in 2014.  Let us know if you are interested in helping.

Here’s the link to all the goodies.  Please share with others.  Thank you.

Coming soon:  A great interview with Rachel Taft from Feed The Scene!

Posted 1 year ago

What’s In A Name?

      It’s Hero Shores Transmission’s one year anniversary in August. We’re very proud of the interviews that we shared with you and we hope to offer even more this coming year. We wanted to expand into sound media, so I’m announcing the first in a series of musical compilations. The first will be entitled Baltimore Vol. 1 and features some exclusive and non-exclusive tracks from Hive Bent, The Water, F, The Dry Sea, Mr. Seaweed, USSA Pleasuredome, Natural Velvet, Deaf Scene, Arab Spring, Timmy Sells His Soul, Vlaad, The Expanding Man, Fractal Cat and Time Columns. The comp will be available for FREE listening and downloads on It will also be available on the vintage media format known as compact discs. Future releases will not be limited to bands in the Maryland/DC area but that’s what we know best so that’s where we started. Believe it or not we started with over 73 bands and randomly pulled 14 projects out of a bell jar. Everything should be available by Oct 1st 2013 with several live shows throughout October and November to celebrate the compilations release.

     Since it’s a new year for us, I wanted to mix up the format a bit. So I decided to ask just one question but send it out to 21 bands and they only had 72 hours to answer. That’s a relatively short amount of time in the band universe. I am thankful to all those that answered. Many people have said that the hardest part about being in a band or musical project is coming up with a name. Some bands breakup over this important step before they even begin. Once you name the band, it can take on even more weight as it stays with you regardless of how you and your music changes. Just like most creative experiences, naming your band can be lightening fast and inspiring or it can be a very long painful birthing process. Here’s the question and their thoughtful responses.

Why and how did you decide on the name of your musical project?

Benjamin Ferris – The Van Allen Belt

I’m honestly not the one to ask. I didn’t pick the name of my band. I only approved it. There’s a funny thing that happens when it comes time to choose a name. No one wants to back down from the one they came up with. Tamar and I have quite different taste in band names. I suggested Nonstop Everything or Thee Almighty Gosh, Tamar was stumping for Cookie Bouquet or Today’s Special. We couldn’t at all agree or compromise. Scott, the drummer at the time, came up with the name we use to this day, The Van Allen Belt. I still think it fits us aesthetically without really giving any idea of what we sound like. A name can make the difference of whether or not I’ll give someone a chance. If a band wears their style on the sleeve of their name, I’m generally not interested.

Kenny Eaton – Time Columns

I came up with the name “Time Columns” while visualizing what polyrhythmic music might look like and how these visualized rhythmic forms would interact and support one another in our music. Since we use a lot of loops and play around with syncopation quite a bit, it was fun to imagine “columns” where the rhythmic pulses imply downbeats and offbeats and how a “structure” built by these columns could be built through our guitar/bass/drum rhythmic interplay.

Brandon Fratini – Riolinda

rioLinda comes from the following influences. I was born in California. Lived in Sacramento, not far from Rio Linda. A small town about as run down as all the projects of Detroit combined. Pretty dumpy place with dumpy personalities. Like Dundalk to Washington DC.

Rush Limbaugh, whose books I’ve read and whom I listened with for a good 12 years until a few years ago, also referenced Rio Linda often. He calls Sacramento his other home. He described the same thing on the air to explain his regular comment “for those of you in Rio Linda” at the end of dumbing down explanations instead of “in other words.”

He has 30 million listeners a day and has been on the air for almost 25 years. He says my band name over and over again from 12-3, five days a week. He is an influence to my life- I joined congress and experienced things I wish I never saw and I can’t believe happens. Mob rule ain’t cool.

That and my favorite bands. Nirvana Verbena rioLinda

Miles Gannett – Fractal Cat

This was many years ago, I was in New Orleans with a very good friend of mine who was on LSD. We had been hanging out in Jackson Square near a gated yard with a bunch of staring cats. Later, my friend looked at me and said, “Milezzz, you have fractal cats in your hair! You’re a fractal cat!” Of course, when I needed a name for my psychedelic band many years later, Fractal Cat was the only suitable choice.

Mac McCormick – Arab Spring

Arab Spring was a bit of an anomaly in the sense that the name came about before the actual project, really. This was in 2011 when I was playing guitar with Red Exit while the series of popular revolutions in the Middle East were going down. The press collectively dubbed these revolutions the “Arab Spring” and I thought that was too perfect of a band name to not grab a hold of. Around that same time I had an idea for a concept single about two of the actresses from the US version of Skins, but worried my band mates would find the notion asinine. So, I saved up to buy a drum machine and wrote and recorded “Sofia Black-D’Elia” and “Rachel Thevenard” on a cassette 4-track I hadn’t used since I was a teenager and released it on Bandcamp under the name “Arab Spring” before anyone else got a hold of it. I like the name quite a bit; it rolls off the tongue and is very of this time in history.

Andrew Mayton – Pallid

The name pallid came about when I first started to seriously make music. The band was originally just myself and whoever was around who could play guitar and could play what I told them to play. I wanted to make melodically rich compositions with minimal instrumentation but eventually this gave way to ambient solo compositions making heavy use of loops and delays. Whatever the case, I aimed for creating something full and visceral with as minimal instrumentation as possible. ‘Pallid’ is a synonym for pale or feeble, and this embodies both my minimal approach and the resulting sound—quiet, melancholy, contemplative. Our compositions have shifted dramatically in sound and formulation, but I still think the name still holds quite well.

William Jarboe - Barbelith and Nostalgique

So Barbelith is derived from the comic book The Invisibles, whereas in the comic, Barbelith is a recurring sentient entity that is both a literal and symbolic beacon to the characters to help them break through the illusion of ‘classic reality,’ and in turn become Invisibles and fight the powers that bind us to this illusion. At the end of the series, the main character actually breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader. This was almost a hand off to us to usher Barbelith into this world. Barbelith serves as an honest collaborative and creative vehicle for all of us in the band to address our own individual perspectives on waking up, as well as help to inspire anyone who listens or experiences a show to do the same. At the very least just point out that this greater vision of humanity exists.

My other project, Nostalgique is a bit different. This project is completely open-ended and collaborative, and is pretty much the other area for all of my geniune extracted music that isn’t Barbelith. Nostalgique is literally, in the most plain sense, my soul therapy. These are the riffs and melodies I work on in my personal practice. For me to have sustainable happiness I need to play everyday, this playing is Nostalgique, it’s an audible meditation to remember our ancient past as humans, the all too familiar feeling of ancient nostalgia we get when we hear certain melodies, whether it comes from us or we recognize what other people are extracting. Some of my best friends jam with me regularly in this project, we are all trying to figure this puzzle out, it is Nostalgique for them too..That’s why it is so open-ended, there are no rules, its just the process of remembering through music.

Zachary Abate – Vagina*

The name “Vagina*” to us sums up our musical intentions. We strive to push the limits of what is considered “music” by pushing our instruments to the extreme in an unorthodox fashion. We chose the name Vagina* because we consider our music the equivalent of what pornography is to the movie universe, extreme straight to the point and explicit, and even if you were to translate the sexual experience into an audio experience you would end up with “Vagina*. We use the “*” in the same way it is used as a footnote in text, Vagina* represents our musical intentions not necessarily a female organ. With most music people get stimulated by various hooks and melodies etc., but to us it’s the art of sound and sound manipulation that is stimulating, the way a certain sound sounds rather than a combination of sounds creating a melody. If our music is considered “new” and paving the way for what is pleasing to the ear then it would be appropriate to make an analogy of a vagina giving birth, giving birth to a new sound/outlook on music.

Steph Fogle – Hive Bent

The name of our band, Hive Bent, was taken from the online interactive web comic: Home Stuck, part of MS Paint Adventures. Both Kyle and I are fans of MSPA and actually it was Kyle who got me into it when Problem Sleuth was still in progress. We loved the absurdity and goofiness of Problem Sleuth, we were excited to see what Homestuck would bring to the table. Funny enough, we were both disappointed at the time. The first act was just a silly reflection of Problem Sleuth, it wasn’t blowing our minds. We stopped reading Homestuck and moved on with our lives. Fast forward to about two years later, I was going through an unemployment phase and with my time I often browsed around 4chan’s /mu/ and /co/ (‘music’ and ‘comics and cartoons’ channels). I’d see in /co/ all this weird fan art that seemed familiar but I didn’t know what it was. Researching further, I found it was to be Homestuck, but at that point, the cast and story had expanded exponentially. I started to re-read the series, pushing through the first act and getting really deep involved with the following acts. Act 5, part 1 sticks out the most, it’s called ‘Hive Bent’ and the story arc involves the species known as Trolls, who have grey skin and candy corn colored horns, all 12 troll characters are named in relation to the zodiac. By this time, I was deep in the Homestucks and was fervently trying to get Kyle to give Homestuck one more chance. He did and he was hooked too, which was great cos now I had a friend to talk to about Homestuck. We loved the usage of time paradox shenanigans, the WTF’dness of the story, and how NO character was safe from being killed off. When we started to play together, we wanted to play a show but had no idea what to call our lil band. During a night of drinking and bar hopping, I joked about the idea of naming our band after Homestuck. Kyle took my joke seriously and suggested we name ourselves ‘Hive Bent’ and the rest is history.

Posted 1 year ago
Posted 1 year ago

Michael Shank performing as Ike Shark at The Windup Space in Baltimore