Tag Archives: mineral

TheLastWordIsRejoice: A Tribute To Mineral

You can’t possibly have missed the fact that Mineral are BACK and playing live again. Even though I bought my first Mineral album 15 years ago, I, like many other fans desperately excited to see them play live, had gotten into them when it was too late. They had already broken up by that point. In 1999 I completely fell in love with Mineral. I took the train on my own to London at some time that year with a weeks wages in my pocket with the sole purpose to find CDs I couldn’t find locally, I found ‘EndSerenading’ in the alternative section of Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus. I had heard of them but had never actually heard them, that was until the train ride home when I unwrapped the case, put the cd in my discman, put my headphones on, pressed play and shut my eyes. I was totally sold from the first note plucked on the guitar. ‘EndSerenading’ became one of my favourite records of all time, with ‘&Serenading’ my favourite song. It was hard, at the time, to find out much information about the band, the cover sleeve gave nothing away and I was gutted to find out from friends that they had split up already.
At the age of 19 I never would have believed you if you had told me that at age 34 I would have tickets to see them play, and yet here I am aged 34 with tickets to see them play live twice next February (February!! How perfect is that?) when they come to the UK for the first time ever.

I wanted to do something on the blog as a tribute to this legendary band and try and share with them the outpouring of love that has emanated since their reunion. This is a collection of writing containing the memories and feelings towards the band from friends, fellow blog writers, musicians and label owners.

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Tom Mullen (Washed Up Emo)

I was introduced to Mineral thanks to a giveaway bin at the college radio station my freshman year. My first week I had signed up for a show and went to hang with the music director to find out what he was into and talk about the hardcore show I wanted to do. During that meeting, there was a box in his office that was labeled for giveaway. I caught out of the corner of my eye “Static Prevails” on vinyl and perked up to ask if I could pick through it. He said, by all means, that stuff was going to be given out at the next radio station meeting. In that box, among a treasure trove of emo goodness, was the first Mineral album. I was floored by this album and still are to this day. I never saw the band as I missed a show they played near my college by a month or two back when message boards and flyers were the way to promote a show. This band always left before saying goodbye and now we’re lucky enough to be around to see this band come back and play for those that never got to see them. Mineral may have been typecast into the emo genre, but if it’s a band people mention every time, I won’t be mad. They’re the true definition of the loud/soft, heartfelt and loud sound I miss when most of the “emo revival” is derived from the midwest. Mineral’s impact and influence will still be intact regardless of this tour and what’s next. It’s right for them to reform, so it should be right for us to show respect to a band that for many thought would never reunite. For myself, I’ll be screaming along right next to you and smiling every second.

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Oliver Craven (Crash Of Rhinos)

I’m not usually the guy from our band that does this sort of thing, but when asked to write a few words about Mineral I felt I had to. Through my teens, twenties and now into my thirties, they probably mean more to me now than even then.

A lot of people have come and gone in the time since I first heard Mineral. Family, friends, girlfriends, bands.
leaving school in 1999 and wanting to do nothing else except smash the fuck out of a drum kit and skate, I ended up meeting like-minded people through record shops and rock clubs.
I’m still close friends with most of these people now. Four of them were in Crash of Rhinos. It didn’t seem to matter back then that none of us really gave a shit about much else except jamming and skating. There’s a sense of freedom from that age that you don’t really get again. Mineral was the soundtrack to pretty much all of it.

Times like that are rare, bands like Mineral are rare, and kinda should be.
Makes it all the better.

A lot of those people will be back together for the first time in a long time the night Mineral play Nottingham in February. We’ve all changed a fair bit over the years, but I’m pretty confident as soon as Scott McCarver plugs in and the feedback starts wailing, it’s not gonna seem like it.

Favourite song then: A Letter
Favourite song now: A Letter

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Lindsay Minton (Football, Etc)

I’m not totally sure, but I think I found out about Mineral on a message board the summer before I started high school. The song “Slower” became my anthem of the next 4 years. I somehow managed to put Zookeeper on in a basement in New Brunswick in 2007. Not only was Chris Simpson in the room, but also Kyle Fischer from Rainer Maria (playing lapsteel in the band Balthrop, Alabama). What an impact playing a show with my two biggest influences was for me…
Last Friday, I saw Mineral play their first show in 16 years. It was a smallish venue (capacity at 180). It’s kind of hard to describe it– but it was perfect. A bunch of mid-twenty to thirty-somethings standing around with their arms crossed, singing along to themselves. Hearing Mineral come from the stage, instead of the various sets of speakers and headphones I have heard them from over the years was absolutely refreshing. It was something my 14-year-old self never thought I’d be able to experience.

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Glen Bushell (Punktastic)

I was a bit of a latecomer to Mineral if I’m honest. I only cared about punk, grunge and metal pre-2000, until I saw At The Drive-In at Reading 2000 and it changed my life forever and opened my world up to a whole new area of music. After that I started to go to emo and hardcore shows in Margate and Canterbury, and I picked up the Mineral/Jimmy Eat World/Sense field split because I had just started getting into Jimmy Eat World, and I really enjoyed Mineral’s cover of Crazy. I picked up Endserenading after that, and it blew my mind. It was raw, impassioned, and very honest. It embodied every feeling I was going through turning from a teenager into an adult. From then on I forever compared every emo band to them, and even now in my 30’s when I need to find solace in a record, Endserenading, and also Power Of Failing are still my go to records. Finally getting to see them in the UK next year will be the end result of 15 years waiting and wishing to see them, and I’ll be honest, I may shed a tear or two with no shame during Walking To Winter, which is still my favourite song.

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Frank Turner (Kneejerk/Million Dead/Mongol Horde/Frank turner)

I first heard Mineral rifling through a friend’s record collection in 1998 or so, about a year after they broke up. I fell in love pretty quickly, and they became one of my foundational bands musically – I think I subconsciously still try to write and sing like Chris, and the production is pretty perfect for me as well. When I found out they were reuniting this year I lost my mind, booked my flights, and ended up playing an opening slot at the Brooklyn show, which was a dream come true.

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Ray Harkins (100 words or less podcast)

My exposure to Mineral was a complete blur. When you are 16 years old and shoving a bunch of music in your head, it’s hard to discern exactly when/where you heard something but Mineral immediately stuck out. I had begun the process of accepting that “non-screaming” music was okay and I was allowed to listen to it after my initial punk & hardcore blitzkrieg. “Gloria” was placed on the stereo by the guitarist of my band at the time and it was loud, fast but had these things that I later called “dynamics” that I wasn’t used to. It felt good to have a moment to reflect on the song, while it was still going on. This was 1996 and ever since that small exposure, Mineral loomed large in my life. I do remember that I specifically ordered the LP because I had HEARD that it included a lyric sheet (which the CD version did not). I was ecstatic to receive the LP (before I was a full fledged collector) and poured over the lyrics all night. Long live Mineral.

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Paul Waller (OHHMS)

I don’t remember how I came across Mineral but I do know that I was listening to Sunny Day Real Estate, Boy Sets Fire and the UK’s very own Sunfactor and Spy Vs Spy before I got wind of them. Somewhere along a very fuzzy line I had bought ‘End Serenading’ and just fell in love with it straight away. My initial reaction was that I really dug the vocals. It was slow to mid paced pop music with this askew melancholic edge that kept pulling me in. But that voice, this guy was so obviously upset about something… I don’t know his name and I don’t need to but that singer guy, he was the real deal, he had almost as great a voice as Jeremy Enigk from SDRE but there was far more passion in the vocal delivery. I wanted to give him a cuddle.

A big plus with ‘End Serenading’ was that the bass lines were pretty easy to learn. I remember spending a night on my own figuring out each song track by track until I could play all of side one and then doing the same for the flip side. Don’t know why I did that. I’m not a bass player, but if I could do it then anyone could.

Every now and again somebody asks me what I think of their first album? They say it’s better, harder, even more emo. Well, I do have a copy of it but I never listen to it. The front cover is so awful that I refuse to give it a chance. If a band is going to take so little care about the way in which they present a record then I dread to think what the actual music is like.

‘End Serenading’ is the only emo album I still regularly listen to.

I can’t wait to see them play some of it live next year.

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Lewie Peckham (Bearded magazine/Is this thing on?)

I first heard Mineral through a Pop Unknown track on the second Emo Diaries compilation ‘A Million Miles Away’ (those titles) in ’98 and the sombre pace of ‘Writing it Down For You’ reminded me of Red House Painters (A favourite at the time and pretty much still to this day). I saw that Pop Unknown had ‘Ex-members of Mineral’ printed in the little catalog you got with every Deep Elm release and took a chance on a mail ordered copy of The Power of Falling and was hooked from the opening notes of ‘Five, Eight and Ten’ and by the time ‘Parking Lot’ faded out in a screech of feedback i was a devoted wreck and i still am 16 years later.

I can never listen to Mineral in the summer. Much like American Football I know when to break out The Power of Falling and EndSerenading and it’s not during July and august, save that for Something to Write Home About and Clarity. When that first hint of autumn hits you, be it a slight chill in the air that stays there all day or a walk through a park with its grass obscured by fallen brown leaves. That’s when you can find Mineral filling my ears, their songs tightly held in place by my headphones and just for me only, an exclusive club for one.

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Kristy Diaz (www.recordnotcommodity.co.uk)

When The Power of Failing was recorded in 1995, I lived in Austin, TX. Just 11 miles away from Music Lane Recording Studios, in fact. However, the first time I heard that record, like many Mineral fans I imagine, was around 10 years after its release. I mean, it’s probably for the best, I wouldn’t have ‘got’ it when I was 8. My main concern was looking for snakes in the front yard.
I don’t recall anyone introducing me to them, but I was listening to a lot of Sunny Day Real Estate that year so I guess it was just association. I have a bias toward the urgency and imperfection that comes with a band’s first record, so whilst EndSerenading was great in its own right, The Power of Failing was, and still is, my favourite. In terms of highlights, it would be hard not to mention the guitars in If I Could and the intro to Take The Picture Now, but, perhaps predictably, Gloria always stood out.
To be a dick and choose a song that they didn’t actually write as a favourite, I was always super into their cover of Crazy, from the split 7” with Jimmy Eat World and Sense Field. The guitars are interchangeably gorgeous and infuriating, but mostly I love it because it’s a bit silly, too.

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Kevin Duquette (Topshelf Records)

My earliest Mineral-related memory is having a bunch of records recommended to me after I had just recently discovered toe, Pele, Jimmy Eat World and American Football in high school. Mineral was in that bunch and I never quite made it to listening to it because — as a designer — I thought the album cover art was pretty awful (“The Power of Failing”) and chose to try many of the others first, eventually forgetting that one altogether. I went on a road trip that summer and a friend was DJing from the passenger seat, playing their albums over the car speakers. I eventually asked what it was we were listening to and realized I’d overlooked a pretty important band. I quickly remedied that when we got home.

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Morten Andre Samdal (Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson)

I grew up being a skatepunkdude in the mid 90s (still am!), and me and my friends had this band. While the others listened to mostly fast punkrock, I looked for something a bit different. I tried my way through britpop, grunge and some other straight forward rock bands, but nothing really hit as hard as the fast paced melodic punkrock I loved. Not until I bought a bunch of records, with bands like Hot Water Music, Mineral, Alkaline Trio, Christie Front Drive and Jimmy Eat World, if I remember it correctly. Mineral was life changing. The record I first got was The Power of failing, and it hit me in the guts. The tender melodies wrapped in distorted raw guitars, and the way Chris Simpson dragged the words much longer than I ever thought was possible – I’d never heard anything like it. I got the other guys in the band to give it a listen, but they just laughed and said it was music for pussies. Not long after my band parted ways, and I started an emo-band. Mostly because of Mineral, I guess!
While bands like JEW, HWM and Alkaline Trio just got worse and worse over the years, Mineral and CFD were smart and disbanded, like a real emo band should do ;) To this day, these two are my favourite 2nd generation emo bands, and I still listen to them regularly. I am so coming to London in February (hope they play that song).

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James Benwell (Fan)

I found Mineral through The Gloria Record and I found TGR through the guy working downstairs at Tempest Records (R.I.P) in Birmingham. It’s been a 15 year love affair that hasn’t faded. The rawness of The Power of Failing still sounds as visceral as ever and EndSerenading became the soundtrack to my winter nights, and made me wish it was winter the rest of the year round.
They’ve always touched a chord lyrically. Stories of love, the beauty in the world around us, and then songs like MD, perhaps a precursor to the likes of the latest Empire! Empire! album; so personal, so simple, yet so heart wrenchingly beautiful when told over a soundtrack that can make you feel like you want to tell everyone you know that you love them, or to fall in love just so you can find some words of your own.
I never thanked the guy at Tempest, I wish that I had. He’s the reason that I’m not deaf at 31 to the sound of the greatest band that i’ll ever got to hear.

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Gary Sleith (Good post day records)

I first heard Mineral thanks to the (Don’t Forget To) Breathe compilation CD. I bought it from Amazon, and at the time I was heavily into a few of the bands on it, bands like Promise Ring, Knapsack, Hot Water Music & Fireside, but I had never heard of Mineral. For me, their track on the record, ‘Rubber Legs’ was a real Jerry Maguire ‘You had me at hello’ moment…5 seconds in I was hooked and by the time Chris Simpson sings “your boy is all alone tonight but i will never forget how you taught me to stand on these rubber legs and fight.” at the end I was head over heels. I bought EndSerenading online immediately and connected with it in a way that I had only done with one record up to that point; Clarity. My favourite song on it initially was ForIvadell but when I listen to it today, I’m always blown away by &Serenading(probably the influence of Alex!) but if I had to pick a favourite Mineral song, I would have to go with ‘February’ from their self-titled 7”. For me, that track perfectly encapsulates Mineral despite being perhaps one of their, for want of a better word, “heavier” tracks and to this day I use it as a benchmark for truly great emo music, up there with songs like ‘E. Texas Avenue’ ‘For Me This Is Heaven’ & ‘Never Meant’

Thank you so much for reading xx

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The end is nigh….

I’ve been mulling over this post for a while now. I’ve had little time to do any writing recently so very nearly jacked in the idea for this post but it does, kind of, follow on from a previous one I wrote last year so here goes.

Last week I bought Kerrang magazine, let me tell you for why (in a roundabout way).

Cast your minds back to last summer, you may or may not have read a post I wrote bemoaning an old copy of the NME from 2002 that I’d kept hold of. The issue in question was an emo special, a beginner’s guide to the new hip underground movement that the NME would make out they discovered on your behalf only to then trash it later on. Jimmy Eat World were on the cover, Hundred Reasons and Rival Schools were interviewed within and the whole thing was made to look like a fanzine, DIY style. My main grievance with the issue was that whilst it was trying to introduce its readers to the genre it was simultaneously mocking the whole thing which then made the issue completely pointless. No one who had never heard of it before would be interested and it would piss off and alienate those who were already part of it. At that time bands were trying to distance themselves enough from the emo tag and things like this only made things a lot worse.

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It probably seems weird that someone would care so much about what they did. I read way too much into the article and definitely took it too personally but at the time it came out of the blue and it felt like it was the beginning of the end. Having been into music since I was a kid in the 80’s, to being a long-haired grunger in my early teens to then falling in love with punk, pop punk, indie, post hardcore etc.. from the mid 90’s, music held a lot of importance in my life. In 1998 the band I was in (the babies three) were making the transition from playing throwaway pop punk into something more substantial. We would spend hours listening to Mineral, Sunny Day Real Estate, Beezewax, Fugazi, The Promise Ring and so on and our music reflected this. We started to feel like we were part of something, bands were coming to play our small seaside town. Our singer, Paul, put on Harriet The Spy in his living room and Appleseed Cast at our local Friday night hangout. Come Easter of 1999 we were going out on a UK tour with two bands, Rydell & Sunfactor, with whom we had just put out a 3 way split CD. In all honesty some of the shows were terrible but some were the most amazing I’ve ever played, the whole time though it really felt like we were part of something that was happening there and then. Up until that point anything I’d been into I was either too young to be a proper part of or had already happened. But this was happening, we were a tiny part of it and it was fucking exciting, we didn’t want or need the mainstream music press to get involved.

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In the UK, in 2002, something definitely shifted. Jimmy Eat World were making appearances on Saturday morning kids shows and selling out Brixton Academy. At the Drive-In were being proclaimed the ‘best band in the world’ and you no longer had to seek out a distro or indie record shop because HMV suddenly had all the bands cd’s that you loved in massive amounts. After then most of my friends were moving on to other things, other bands, other genres. A couple of years later emo came to mean something entirely different and that weird goth definition really did enter the mainstream consciousness and duly pissed over everything I’d been part of that point. When the travesty that is the Daily Mail wrote an article warning parents of the danger of this new cult they called emo then that was the final nail in the coffin.

The next few years after that I became a little bit lost, musically speaking. I felt jaded and burnt, I wasn’t playing music/finding new bands/buying as many records any more. But that all changed when someone told me to check out Algernon Cadwallader and I was completely blown away. I couldn’t believe a band was playing music like this again and playing it this well, it was so fresh and exciting. This led on to discovering a whole wealth of other bands, a scene was happening again and somebody had declared it to be an emo revival. No one was mentioning the mid-noughties wilderness goth years anymore and instead bands were giving musical nods to the 90’s with bands like caP’n Jazz, Mineral and American Football.

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I was obviously in heaven at this point, I was finding new bands to fall in love with on a daily basis and I then started this blog to help share the good news. I started drawing comparisons with the late 90’s scene and it got me to thinking about what went wrong the last time around and whether that would be likely to happen again, would a band become really big? would bands start to shun the emo tag and start to release sub-standard records because of this? However I looked at it I couldn’t see an end in sight but then Twitter was about to change all that.

Twitter is incredible for finding out things before anywhere else but the news that Fall Out Boy were reforming I could’ve waited for. They were back and people were excited, EXCITED??!!?? In my mind Fall Out Boy have a lot to answer for, years ago a front cover of the NME again had caught my eye in a newsagent because it stated the emo was back in the form of Fall Out Boy. I went straight to their MySpace page, such was the fashion at the time, desperately wanting to hear what the NME was referring to. Instead of being happy that I’d found a new band, I was just left wondering “WHAT THE FLIPPING HECK IS THIS CRAP??” So, to learn they’re back filled me with absolute dread. Feels a bit weird that they’ve reformed during this revival, like when someone nobody likes turns up at a party and makes everyone feel uncomfortable. Are they thinking that there’s an emo scene happening again and if they’re quick they can cash in? Maybe, maybe not but who cares because it won’t change anything.

And this is where the aforementioned issue of Kerrang comes in. With its headline; “EMO, The amazing untold story”

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When I first saw it I felt deflated, do we really have to put up with this again? And then I started thinking how dumb it was that a 32-year-old was getting upset with what is essentially a kids magazine, a metal Smash Hits. I bought the issue and skipped to the middle section, ignoring the “6 awesome posters”, and read through the “history” of emo. It was obviously re-written in the time-honoured Kerrang tradition of just making it up as you go along because the kids that read the magazine are too young to know any different. A nod at the beginning to Rites of Spring and Embrace then quickly through Quicksand and Far on to Hundred Reasons and Jimmy Eat World to Panic at the Disco, My Chemical Romance and The Used with no time to mention Mineral at all. There was a time that I’d have been outraged by all this but after an initial, short-lived, pissed off reaction I’m now left thinking that I shouldn’t give a shit. Who is it really harming anyway? So some people like 30 Seconds to Mars, well more fool them. If I focus on all the amazing things, bands, records that are about today then its easy to ignore what mainstream magazines are saying. There is an incredible online community of people who I can still reminisce about the 90’s with or enthuse about the new band on Count Your Lucky Stars with.

When I boil it down, when I’m calm and rational I know nothing bad will happen because of this article. But wait a minute, whats this bit at the end when Kerrang talk about emo nowadays?? One of my favourite bands, Tigers Jaw, have their photo on the last page of the article with the tag “Tigers Jaw, the new face of emo”. Tigers Jaw split up on Thursday. What the hell have you done Kerrang, WHAT THE FUCKING HELL HAVE YOU DONE???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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Thanks for reading, get in touch here or on facebook – www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter – @alex_itto

You can download my old bands song from the split mentioned in the post for free HERE

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INTERVIEW: TOM MULLEN – WASHED UP EMO PODCAST

Last week I got to speak to Tom Mullen who runs Washedupemo.com and does the Washed Up Emo podcast. I love a good podcast and Washed Up Emo is by far my favourite one. I think that if you like the sort of stuff that I write about then you’re going to feel the same way. He also hosts an emo DJ night in New York city every month. I had a few questions prepared but we ended up just chatting away about the podcast/site and all things ‘mo. It’s quite a long one, hope you enjoy!

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IS THIS THING ON? – Hello

TOM MULLEN– What’s up Alex?

ITTO? – Hey!! Give us a brief background about how you got in to music and when emo became a big part of that?

TM – I got into music pretty early on as a kid, I wanted to play guitar after seeing smells like teen spirit on TV. I think I remember telling my dad ‘we’re going to the store right now to get this’. And that was a pretty big influence on me playing music, you know, and he, Kurt, was in to a lot of different bands, indie bands and things. Probably what turned me from grunge was a band called Helmet. I saw their video and was like ‘this is heavy but it is smart’ and then from there I started to learn about more hardcore bands and metal bands. Growing up where I did in Vermont you don’t really get to see the big artists, like I didn’t get to see giant top 40 artists, those guys never came through. So the people that came through were the metal bands and HC bands from Boston and New York. So from hardcore, turned into post hardcore, because that’s kinda what bands did after that and then that turned into emo. I don’t know if it was Get Up Kids or Mineral or one of those bands but it really kicked in freshman year in college, that’s when I started to really get into it and there were so many shows. I went to school in North Carolina and there were shows every day it seemed. And so that was a really fun time.

ITTO? – Did you know that was what it was when you were getting in to it, did you know it was called emo or was that a thing then?

TM – Yes, someone had called it that. And I was like ‘oh ok cool’, I mean I liked the music. There wasn’t a fashion around it, there wasn’t like you needed to look a certain way. I was wearing ridiculously way too big sweatshirts and shirts, I was horrendous. It wasn’t that thing; it was more about the music.

ITTO? – It’s interesting on the podcast that when you ask about how they got into that kind of music it’s usually a HC route.

TM – Yeah, it’s either HC or they came the indie route with Fugazi or they were into Buffalo tom or whatever it was. They went both ways and if you listen to them again after hearing that you totally get it. It’s interesting to hear where they came from and if it’s HC then you’re like ‘ah ok I get it’.

ITTO? – What was the reason for starting the washed up emo website?

The website came first; I was super angry, probably ‘04/’05. Just really upset at what was happening with the name itself and being attached to it and turning it in to sort of a fashion statement vs. something about the music. They were referencing things that didn’t really make sense to me. And that’s since changed but then I was like; ‘no one’s talking about Elliott, no one’s talking about Get Up Kids and at this time, these bands, some of them were still going on, still trying to hang on to the certain fan base that was there but it was dwindling because they weren’t as flashy. You went to Bamboozle, which is this big music festival in New Jersey and Fall Out Boy or whoever it was was playing. And people were losing their minds and gave support to whatever god awful band it was playing and the Get Up Kids would play after them and the bands were psyched but the crowd was like ‘who is this? This is boring’ and it was just this kind of turning point when I was like this word is being ruined on a daily basis and that’s why I started the site in ’07. It was very negative early on, I look back at some of the posts, it was discrediting a lot of things because people were relating cutting to this genre. It was sort of Goth and it was a lot of whack-a-mole with trying to explain it. And through the years it’s slowly kind of, I’ve got less angry.

ITTO? – The tagline of your website says that you wish for the days where you’d type emo into a search engine and nothing would come up, is that because you’d wish it would all go away

TM – Everyone has this same sort of feeling that it was special, for what it was. And because there wasn’t internet or it wasn’t really widespread, you didn’t have it on your phone. You didn’t have a cell phone, you had a beeper. You had these sorts of connections happen where you had to connect, you had to go to the show, and you had to do a little work. And I think every sort of genre past that, it’s sort of that doesn’t happen anymore. It’s so quick and easy so I did like it when I would search for bands and I couldn’t find anything. I couldn’t find anything online for it and that was sort of fun because you did have to work.

ITTO? – It’s weird because if you look at the old records from that time, or the catalogues that used to come with the insert and they’ve all got email addresses and websites and I never married the two together. I wasn’t big into the internet at the end of the 90’s but I guess there must’ve been something there if you looked hard enough.

TM – Yeah they had their email there. It was aol or yahoo or something stupid and the websites were very basic. There wasn’t a lot. If I could go back I would take every programming class I could because I only knew basic html and I actually got connected with a band and a label because I started doing an unofficial website for artists. Because when artists didn’t really have good websites fans did them and I did that for a band and that connected me to a lot of different people as well.

ITTO? – Basic chat rooms are all I can remember using. A couple of message boards like Fracture fanzine had one where you could communicate with people but that was only really at the end of that particular wave of emo that we liked

TM – I think the Victory records message board and the trustkill message board that was definitely a way to find out about shows. And find out what was happening.

ITTO? – After starting the website did you find that there were a lot of likeminded people or is that something that has happened over time?

TM – It’s happened over time. There were some years where it would be a couple of posts a month, a few things happening. And I didn’t really know anybody else that was talking about this and slowly I would get people who would say ‘oh I saw that thing, it was really cool, and I feel the same way’ and I was like ‘Really?’ And it’s ended up being these last couple of years I think that I’ve been finding that there’s a lot of people I’ve met, yourself included, through twitter and Facebook ramping up those parts of it. And really focussing on that and having people interact. And I don’t make any money I just do this because it’s fun and people really enjoy it. And of course it’s turned into the podcast. And the dj night every month.

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ITTO? – When did the idea for a DJ night and then a podcast come about?

TM – It’s interesting that I remember this, I think we were on a train or something and I was emailing friends and I posted I was listening to a camber song on, I think it was, twitter or Facebook and I had tagged it and someone wrote that’s really awesome, you have a ton of records like that and I said well you do too, we should dj somewhere. A friend had a bar and we’re like let’s see if he’ll let us do it on a valentine’s day for an anti-valentine’s day event and ended up going really well. We kind of just put our minds together on who could help dj because I’m not cool enough to have people show up, I can only beg my friends so much so we needed bands and things and we’ve ended up doing, next month will be 2 years. And we’re the bars most successful theme night and we’ve had after parties for Braid who actually dj’d which was really funny because I had to kick them out. Chris did not wanna stop dj-ing it was hilarious; it was 4am on a Thursday I was like ‘dude I gotta get outta here’. The dj thing is really fun and we’ve met so many people that have been in this city and find out about it and come down and hang out. I’ve met some friends that I’ve ended up working with on a work level, they’re people who’ve worked at different labels or companies and I find out that they’re in to this genre. Case in point, a friend from a blog is a graphic designer and was a super big fan and I had her design the logo.

The podcast was a few months in, I realised that I was looking at my rolodex and was like I kinda know a bunch of people and it would be kinda fun. And I had a friend that I did it with for a while and it was tough because he was on the west coast and I was on the east coast and the band was wherever they were and it was hard to connect and he ended up doing his own thing. And I ended up just continuing with the washed up emo podcast

ITTO? – That’s Ray right?

TM – Yes, Ray.

ITTO? – Yeah I was going to ask what happened to Ray.

It was so hard, just a scheduling thing. He has a lot of stuff; he has a kid, his jobs all over the place. He’s got a lot of stuff going on, the 3 hours’ time difference made it hard to connect. And that’s where we splintered off and he does his own ‘100 words or less podcast’.

ITTO? – Yes, I’ve listened to a few. He interviewed Keith from Empire! Empire! / CYLS records which was a really good one

TM – Nice! I actually give him crap for interviewing emo people but that’s just a joke. It’s been fun, it is a ton of work but I’ve been able to connect to a lot of people and a lot of people have helped. Someone helped get me in touch with Jim adkins; another friend helped me get in touch with Chris Simpson from Mineral. They’ve been very very cool, Matt Pryor was awesome, those early ones like with Chuck from Deep Elm, and it was great to talk about deep elm records who were a huge influence. I was on one of their comps with the band I was in. It’s been nice. Blair (Shehan, Knapsack) when I interviewed him his first thing was, my first question and he was like ‘wow, this is going to be fun’. That’s the first thing he said and I think they’ve never been asked these questions before because no one’s really asked about it this way.

ITTO? – It’s becoming an incredible document for that time period

TM – Well that’s exactly the idea with it, I had spoken with a few people before I started and said is there anything out there like this? Am I copying it? Is it something that’s worth? And the only thing I could find was those oral histories from alternative press magazine where they interview 10 or 15 people about the project and they end up discussing things but there wasn’t really an audio history or an audio document of these things. Hopefully if its ten years from now and some person looks back and they’re like ‘I kinda wanna know what’s going on with the guy from deep elm’ then there’s an hour of me nerding out with him (laughs)

ITTO? – I take it you’ve had your dream guests on already?

TM – As of a couple of weeks ago, yes! I’ve been very, very lucky to have; I think, the biggest one left for me at this moment would definitely be Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate that would be a great one. But there’s still plenty, I actually was just looking at the list of people that I’m trying to get and there is still some really, really cool people like I’m trying to get Travis from Piebald which I think is going to happen, Kevin from Topshelf, Ben from Armor For Sleep, the guy that ran Caulfield records. So, yeah, I think there’s still plenty more and I think there’s plenty more stories to tell. As long as I have fun doing it and people are still downloading them, I’ll still do them.

ITTO? – To think you’ve had The Promise Ring/ Braid/ Mineral do it then you think it might be hard to top that but some of the more obscure bands will be interesting because it’s harder to find things out about them.

TM – I think one of the most popular episodes is the Buried Treasure episode with Ray. We talked about obscure bands and songs people may not have heard, that one was really popular and to have Christie Front Drive – Eric do it and Promise Ring its really easy now to get people to do it. Jim (Adkins) had mentioned that he had listened to a bunch of the older ones before, you know so He was even interested in hearing them which blew my mind. ‘You spent time listening to me nerd out??’ I’m now really scared to talk to you’.

ITTO? – It makes sense, they were his friends, and these were times he was involved in. It’s like if you see an old friend you’ve not spoken to in a long time and you reminisce it’s probably a form of that for him.

TM – Yeah, he was mentioning that he was laughing at Eric because Eric made fun of him in the podcast about his long hair so he’s actually looking forward to doing one with him to make fun of him. There are still those memories and things. But just looking back at list at who’s done it, Zach from Mae who was a close friend, Troy from Speedwell which was this really obscure band who I think are amazing, Blair from Jealous Sound who was super cool to do it. The one I can’t wait to edit but its taking forever is Pedro from Jealous Sound and I’ve never laughed more in a podcast. I was crying laughing with him, he’s been super nice. He understood what I was doing, he’s like ‘you’re not just a fan; you’re trying to get the word out about this time period’. When AV Club wrote about the podcast which I had no idea about, they kind of mentioned the same thing. They had said that it was that he’s coming at it as a fan, a knowledgeable fan and you’re kind of talking, you’re not just ‘hey remember in 1992 when this happened’ and that was probably the biggest compliment.

ITTO? – Do you feel that people really are talking about it (emo) now? With the podcast and all the new bands that are about now it does seem so and it also seems a lot now like it did at the end of the 90’s, although in more of a weird internet way but there seems to be that same kind of feeling about now

It does, I think it is 2013 with all the new ways to connect. You can easily find out about a label in 5 seconds and all the releases and listen to everything. I think it is exciting; there are a lot of great bands. That’s probably the next thing, I really want to have more of the newer bands and hear their story and hear what they listen to and why. That’s kind of the new and old which has been really fun to talk about. Even during the DJ night it’s one thing to play all the old school hits but it’s also great to play a new song and have people come up to say ‘what was that?’ And you tell them it’s a new band and they’re like ‘Oh man!’ and I think that’s great to hear that someone’s open enough to listen that and be excited.

ITTO? – Especially now as there’s been bands in the last few years that have made a great impression but split up already, like Snowing or Algernon Cadwallader and I think in a few years’ time we’ll think of them like we did caP’n jazz/Mineral. It’ll be great to hear their version of what happened

TM – Yeah and I think the word itself has been so overused and I think there’s people that come to the dj night and they’re like ‘hey I want you to play Acceptance and then I want you to play Rufio’ and I’m like ‘oh my god I know your age, I know what time period you’re in. I almost can tell where you live’ Just because of the songs that you’re asking for and its fine. I understand, because it’s that time period when they were 15, 16, 17 or whatever and they connected to it or they watched Fuse and they’re relating that and that’s fine, it’s just there’s this little point beforehand that you need to know about. Because all the bands you like they listen to this. And it’s great that the newer bands are skipping that and they’re going back further.

ITTO? – What’s the most requested band at your DJ nights?

TM – I would probably say Brand New, that’s every month. The usual Promise ring, Get up kids, Taking back Sunday. Probably Taking back Sunday and Brand New and that’s probably because it’s the New York area. One of the loudest ones we ever played, which wasn’t really an emo band but it kinda made sense because Get Up Kids toured with them, was Weezer. The guy came over who runs the bar and said ‘We can’t even hear the music’ because people were screaming so loud.

ITTO? – Excellent, it’s been so cool chatting to you Tom, thanks so much.

wuemo

My Top 5 Washed up emo podcast episodes (click on them for the link)

5 – Norman Brannon of Texas is the Reason

4 – Davey Von Bohlen and Dan Didier of The Promise Ring

3 – Eric Richter of Christie Front Drive

2 – Chuck Daley of Deep Elm/Tiny Engines

1 – Chris Simpson of Mineral

Thanks so much for reading.

Come and say hi on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

or Twitter – @alex_itto

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Interview: Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)

If you hadn’t heard of Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) a few weeks ago, and if you like the type of music I write about then how couldn’t you have?, then chances are you have now. The competition they ran online recently which resulted in them digitally giving away their entire discography was a roaring success spreading their good name far and wide and it’s no more than they deserve. Having been consistently releasing beautifully amazing music since 2006 Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) have become one of the most respected and revered bands of the current wave of emo. In just a few days they will be hitting the UK for an extensive tour with The Reptilian (dates are below) so I couldn’t think of a better time to catch up with the band, sling some questions their way and publish their responses. Here’s the results:

Is this thing on? – Congratulations on the success of your recent competition on Facebook/twitter/tumblr, are you surprised by the response you received?

Keith from Empire! Empire! – Very surprised!  I know this might sound disingenuous, but we are still very humbled and wowed by the fact that anybody at all listens to us.  We bought like 6,000 download credits thinking we would be more than fine, but very quickly realized that that wasn’t enough.  You could literally sit at your computer and hit refresh and watch the number drop every time.

ITTO? – Giving away your entire discography made it feel like everyone’s a winner, has it given you an opportunity to reflect on the history of the band? Anything you would’ve done differently?

Keith – We feel like we got a pretty big takeaway with the support everyone gave us, so I think we feel that way too.  As for reflection- it has, and there are certainly things I would have done differently.  The main thing would be not focusing so much on doing splits, and instead getting a new full length (or two!) out.  We never intended on that happening, it just sort of did.  But every release is important to me, and I am proud to say we never gave something less than 100%.  I don’t feel like there are any throwaway songs.

ITTO? – Is Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) still very much a band consisting of the 2 of you, Keith and Cathy, or do you now have a permanent full band line up?

Keith – It’s just me and Cathy, and I very much doubt it will ever be anything more than that again.  Don’t get me wrong, I would love a permanent line up, but it just wasn’t ever in the cards.  There are a lot of reasons for that, but we have always soldiered on and been able to keep going.   I think I was maybe a little too ideal in the few years in thinking that everyone else was going to give up everything just to have a shot at making this work, and after seeing a few members come and go, I sort of lost that ideal.  It’s a lot of pressure on you if someone is asking or expecting that and you don’t feel the same way.  Another problem we ran into was because this started out as a solo project, right off the bat the other members were playing songs they didn’t write.  For some reason, it seemed like we would lose members right before we would record something and I would end up having to do a majority of the instruments on the recording.  Which has advantages and disadvantages, but ends up being a lot more work on my part.  The more releases we put out, the more songs that other members didn’t write and feel that connection to, so as we went on it seemed less likely to find someone to stick. Once Jon left, we just decided to stop looking and operate the way we had already been doing for years.  It was far less stressful and we are just as productive, if not more.

ITTO? – What is the song writing process of the band?

Keith – It’s pretty strange, but mostly I can attribute that to the band only having two members, and one of them playing most of the instruments.  Usually I will write my guitar part and recorded it on my computer, and then Cathy will write hers over mine.  Sometimes we do it together before it gets to the computer.  Then I write and record a bass part, and then drums.  These are all to a metronome, but direct in and something that would never be worth showing anybody, haha.  Then we go into the studio and record all the music.  Once I have the rough tracks, then I sit down and write the lyrics.  I never do it beforehand or as we go, I have to do it after.  I like doing that for several reasons, but the biggest one is I like to know exactly how much space I have and how the vocals will fit over everything and not just my guitar part. I need a Point A to Point B to know when to wrap up the lyrics and effectively convey whatever story or theme it is I’m getting at.  This is always the longest and most gruelling part of the process, and I admit to agonizing over it more than anything else.

ITTO? – You’re coming to the UK in November, is this the band’s first time?

Yes and no.  We did a European tour in 2010 which covered mostly the mainland since we toured with a band from Hungary called marionette ID (shout out to my boys!).  We really wanted to get a UK show in, so we took an extra flight at the end of our tour with them and played a one-off show in Norwich.  We absolutely loved it; we met Andy from sncl and played with Pennines and What Price Wonderland? packed on to one bill.

ITTO? – Joie de vivre and Football,etc each received somewhat of a heroes’ welcome on their summer tour here in the UK, have they given you any idea of what to expect?

Keith – I really have no idea.  It warms my heart to hear from you and from them that they were so well received, but we certainly aren’t expecting anything of the sort.  I just hope we can meet some cool people and that we get to see a lot of the countries we are playing in.

ITTO? – Empire! Empire! Are considered one of the bands responsible for the current “emo revival”, being a fan of this music since the 90’s did you ever have a clue that there would be this resurgence of the scene and how much of a part of it that you would be?

I don’t think anybody had any idea that something like this would happen.  How could you, really?  But for some reason it did, and I am very proud to be a part of it.  Ever since I really got into music at 14 or so, this was the style of music I loved, and that never changed.  I don’t think I could play another style of music if I tried.  It does make our musical lives considerably easier though, and I am willing to bet a lot of bands would not have been able to carry on as long of careers without it.  Not me though, I’m stubborn as a mule when it comes to playing this style of music, and I would still be churning this crap out even if no one was listening.  You should have seen some of shows when we started- we stuck out like a sore thumb at literally every show, haha.

ITTO? – Is it ok to now be in an emo band and accept that you are an emo band rather than trying to distance yourselves from that label? Or is there still a stigma to it like there used to be?

Keith – When I started listening to this style of music, I think I never saw the stigma attached to the term.  I was the only person in my school who knew who Death Cab for Cutie, Mineral, Jimmy Eat World, Knapsack was, etc. and coming from a small town without the connection of social media/the internet, I don’t think I ever got why bands didn’t like the label until I was older.  Of course, by then bands had shed that moniker like the plague and the media got a hold of the word and bands like My Chemical Romance and Hawthorn Heights became associated with the term.  Goth became emo, and I still don’t fully understand that.

Anyway, to answer your question, I think we are re-appropriating the term, if you will.  The stigma is still there, but we live in such a small world as far as our fans/community/venues we play in that those people get it without having it explained to them.  So it’s ok by me.

ITTO? – Being in an amazing band and running an equally awesome record label (Count your lucky stars records) must take up a lot of time, do you sometimes have to sacrifice one for the sake of the other and if so which one comes first?

Keith – Ah, I don’t know about that, but thank you for the kind words!  Yes, it takes up almost all of my time and they are both big enough to lose time and compete with each other.  9 times out of 10, the label wins because bands and people are relying on me for that.  With Empire!, it’s just me so I can always push that back.  That is part of the reason it has taken us so long to get a second LP done though.

ITTO? – Apart from the upcoming tour, what can we expect next from Empire! Empire!? Another full length?

Keith – Yes!  We have two songs done, but the writing process (or rather finding time to write) has been slow-going at best.  But it will get done, we are not planning on scheduling any tours or anything major until it’s done.  There are also a few splits/comps we finished a while back that will find their way out sooner or later, so that should tide people over until then.

ITTO? – And finally, If CYLS records had been a label in the good old 90’s which record from that time would you most love to have put out? And why?

Keith – This is the best interview question I have ever had!  It’s a tough question, and I want to cheat and say like 10 records.   I’m going to cheat just a little and choose Death Cab’s We Have the Facts (it was 2000, but close enough) or Mineral’s EndSerenading.  It pains me to only choose two, I had typed up all ten, but decided to not just list my favorite bands from that decade, haha.

ITTO? – Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer these questions and I can’t wait to see you on tour very soon x

Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)’s tour with The Reptilian of the UK and Ireland starts on monday, make sure you don’t miss out.

Here’s the dates:

05.11.12 UK Sheffield @ Tye Die Tapes HQ
06.11.12 UK York @ Stereo
07.11.12 Scotland Glasgow @ 13th Note
08.11.12 Scotland Dundee @ Club Kage
09.11.12 Scotland Edinburgh @ The Wee red Bar
10.11.12 UK Manchester @ The Bay Horse (matinee)
10.11.12 UK Leeds @ Wharf Chambers
11.11.12 Ireland Dublin @ The Twisted Pepper
12.11.12 Ireland Cork @ Cyprus Avenue
13.11.12 UK Bath @ Green Park Tavern
14.11.12 UK Falmouth @ Fish Factory Art Space
15.11.12 UK London @ The Blackheart
16.11.12 UK Southampton @  King Alfreds Pub
17.11.12 UK Brighton  @ The Green door store

For more information check the E!E!(IWALE) website HERE

You can download/stream their songs as well as anything else on Count Your Lucky Stars HERE

In the UK you can buy their split with Rika from Strictly No Capital Letters HERE

Thanks for reading x

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Happy Birthday Is This Thing On?

September is here, which can mean only one thing. It is now one year since I started this blog and that is amazing for two reasons: Firstly it doesn’t feel that long ago that I started writing this and secondly I can’t believe I’ve found enough to write about to make this last. I gave myself about 2 weeks initially so I have surpassed all my expectations, plus I never thought that in the first 12 months of doing this that the blog would receive over 27 thousand views. But, incredibly, it has and I am more than grateful to everyone who has had a look, commented and come and made friends on twitter and Facebook etc. To celebrate this momentous occasion I thought I’d share something with you that I only recently remembered existed.

As you have probably realised if you’ve ever read this blog before is that I’ve spent a lot of the last few months trying to remember things that happened 12 or 13 years ago. Which has proven quite difficult because all the painkillers and morphine that I was taking to ease the pain of my stupid back has left me with a somewhat hazy memory. Mainly I was trying to remember what bands there were and what shows I’d been to back then. But, out of the blue, I was struck by the memory of something very cool and very, very funny. I was sure there was a game on the internet in the early 00’s that centered on emo and the battles against the corporate mainstream. Having been many years since I’d thought of it, let alone actually played it, I assumed that it must have been taken down. Trying to think of what it what was called, I decided to try my hand at googling some things but that yielded no results. And then it hit, of course, it was so simple…………………………………It was called EMOGAME!!

Excited, I just decided to type it in to the address bar and whack a dot-com after the name. It worked!! And it was all there, 4 retro looking video games (2 main, 2 mini) dating back to 2002-2004, it was just as I remembered except my computer worked a lot quicker than the one I had 10 years ago so it was even better. EMOGAME is hilarious, disgusting, hours of fun, packed with in jokes and some great music.

The first game is the one I have replayed since re-discovering the site, the story starts at a big emo show. The Get Up Kids are onstage, playing with At the Drive-in and Hot Water Music, when they get kidnapped. Cedric Bixler from ATD-I and Chuck Ragan from HWM decide that they need those guys back so they can finish the tour. So they enlist the help of some friends, first they call Starbucks to reach Chris Simpson of Mineral, who at the time is trying to avoid the whingeing of his co-worker, Dashboard Confessional himself Chris Carabba. Chris Simpson drops everything to come help rescue the Get Up Kids and Chris Carabba tags along much to the annoyance of the rest of them. To complete the crack team of emo heroes they call Saddle Creek records where Tim Kasher of Cursive and Conor Oberst are lying on the floor, wasted. They have no interest in helping the GUK but there is the promise of free booze so they jump at the chance of coming. And, finally, they call the hospital where Atom of Atom and his Package is in the middle of performing brain surgery, again he feels the need to drop everything and join the rest of them to help. Once all together it becomes apparent that the GUK have been kidnapped by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, his main reason is so he can violate each one of them in as many ways as he can think of. Through a message he can mysteriously send through Chuck Ragan’s TV he lets our guys know they’ll never catch him and then graphically displays just what he is up to before uttering the immortal line, “I just donkey punched Ryan Pope!!!”.

The gang then set off in search of Jeremy Enigk who they believe has the power to let them know how to reach Steven Tyler. On the way they must do battle with a bunch of jocks at a High School which include a very sexist New Found Glory, fight their way through a Hot Topic and a demented, money hungry Rivers Cuomo and defeat a very regretful but commercially successful Jimmy Eat World who are taking part in TRL on MTV. You also come across a Courtney Love who resembles Jabba the Hut and have to fight the Anniversary who swear they are NOT EMO armed with a bunch of 7″s, while helping you along the way is Chris Broach of Braid. The gameplay is pretty simple, I managed to complete the first one and I suck at computer games, but that’s not really the reason to play. The game is packed full of gags and observations about the scene and is all done completely out of love for these bands that they feature. The guys that made this may be a bit weirdly obsessed with anal rape but you can tell that they are massive fans and as their jokes and characters testify, they have a massive knowledge of emo circa 2002.

I’ve yet to get stuck in to the other games on offer here, I will do and can’t wait to see where they go with it, I just thought I better share this with all you guys so you cn enjoy it as much as I have. I wonder if the people who developed this will think of revisiting the game and make a new one that features the current crop of emo bands. Maybe we could see members of Joie De Vivre join forces with You Blew It to do battle with a Pete Wentz who is hell-bent on destroying Count your lucky stars/Topshelf/Tiny engines etc.. so emo can go back to being a commercial shit stream like it was in the mid noughties. Here’s hoping.

Play the game at www.emogame.com

As always, cheers for reading. Come say hi on twitter (@alextb3) or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

Thanks x

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Joie De Vivre

Bands from years ago, bands we all loved/still love, have been reforming to play reunion shows and tours a hell of a lot recently and this year is no exception. It does excite me somewhat when I hear that I may get to see a favourite band play live again. It’ll never match seeing them play the first time around though. However excited we get to go to these gigs we all wish we’d been there in their heyday playing some tiny basement somewhere. Which is why, when I see that a new band that I’m really excited about is going to play somewhere within reasonable distance I’m going to make the effort to turn up. As we arrived to see Joie De Vivre play in Brighton last Friday (6th July) I mentioned to my friend that this was my Mineral! Now I know that sounds a bit dumb. I never got to see Mineral play, not that many people did and Joie De Vivre have been compared a lot to the emo legends. But I think it’s more than just a comparison in their musical style. I believe that Joie De Vivre are a truly special band who make beautiful records, just like Mineral did. So getting to see Joie De Vivre play just weeks after the release of their latest album it felt like one of those moments that I will be looking back at, in years to come, and thank goodness that I was there.

As I just mentioned, Joie De Vivre released their new album, ‘We’re all better than this’, in the last few weeks. It’s a record that has been creating quite a buzz amongst us emo types on twitter and the like recently and as soon as you put the record on you can see that’s it not all just hype. It’s a tremendously uplifting record and so was the experience of seeing them play. They were playing with Football, etc., another band that I’m a huge fan of, at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton. We got there early, enjoyed a pizza and the flashback shows playing on a big flat screen TV (Including clips of Neighbours, Gladiators, TFI Friday and Willo The Wisp) ,waited patiently through the other support bands and made our way to the front for the reason we came. Read about Football, Etc. HERE.

Joie De Vivre had arrived onstage later than expected and wasted no time in setting up and launching in to their set. The room was soon packed and the crowd were in great voice. It is often a worry that you can build expectations up too high when you go to see a band that you love and there is nothing worse thn a band turning out to be rubbish live. It really ruins them for me. I remember seeing Soundgarden play at Reading Festival in 1995 when I was 15, at the time I was as big a grunger as could be and I had the long, greasy hair to prove it. Soundgarden were the 2nd to last band to play on the main stage on the Sunday and they were awful. The sound was bad, they looked like they couldn’t be arsed to be there and the hour that they played for seemed to drag on forever. After that, I never really felt the same way towards them again, even though ‘Superunknown’ was one of my favourite albums at the time, It was now tainted. I digress but I just had to get that out there, I’ve kept it in for so long. But I’m more than extremely happy to report that Joie De Vivre absolutely killed it!!

It was a set heavy with songs from the new record and that beautifully positive and uplifting sound translated incredibly well to their live show. The sounded faultless and looked like they were having the time of their lives. Every time the trumpet played I was getting goosebumps and we had the added thrill of Lindsay Minton from Football, Etc on hand to provide backing vocals like she does so delightfully on the album. What a treat! They also had a great banter about them, the breaks between songs were often as entertaining as the songs themselves. When deciding what songs to play at the end of the set someone in the crowd shouted out, “Play the song that sounds like Mineral!”, singer/bass player Brandon Lutmer looked him in the eye, pointed his finger at him and with a huge grin exclaimed “Done!”. It’s such a joy to see a band enjoying being there.

‘We’re all better than this’ really is a contender for the album of the year. It’s so good it annoys me that songs like ‘Maybe people don’t change’ and ‘At least I tried’ aren’t included in the Is This Thing On? top 100 emo songs of all time because they deserve to be there. I will have to do an updated list at some point. Although I’ve talked about how uplifting I find the music to be, the lyrics speak of love thats lost and a willingness for things to go back to what they used to be. This never brings the tone of the record down, the emotion is true and the delivery is honest, you can tell that being able to write these songs is working in a cathartic way. The album is also very precise, the songs don’t linger on like they could do. Many of the tracks are less than 2 and a half minutes in length and they don’t need to be any longer, they always manage to convey what is needed and this also helps to be as listenable as possible. As soon as it’s finished you can just stick it back on and enjoy it again.

The album, whilst still retaining that 90’s emo sound, sounds less like Mineral than their older releases. There are still influences running through, a bit of Gloria Record here and there and ‘Going to a going away party’ starts off by sounding a bit like Joan Of Arc at their best. But overall ‘We’re all better than this’ sounds like Joie De Vivre, they really have come in to their own on this album. If you know what is good for you then you will go and buy this record if you haven’t already. If you are here in the UK you can order it HERE from Strictly No Capital Letters, or you can download it HERE from Count Your Lucky Stars.

Live photo’s courtesy of Living well productions, thanks Mikee

I hope you enjoy it. Again and as always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or come bother me on twitter (@alextb3)

Cheers x

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THE ‘IS THIS THING ON?’ TOP 100 EMO SONGS OF ALL TIME PART 10!! (10-1)

#emo100

Previously on the Top 100 emo songs of all time…….

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken Anchor

98 – Boilermaker – Slow Down

97 – Hundred reasons – If I could

96 – Jets to Brazil – Chinatown

95 – Coping – F For now

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

93 – Basement – Grayscale

92 – The Jazz June – Viva La speed metal

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

To read more about these songs (100-91) click HERE

90 – Hunter Gatherer – Low standards for high fives

89 – Football, etc. – Safety

88 – Race Car Riot – Raincheck

87 – Taking Back Sunday – Bike scene

86 – Leiah – Tiglio

85 – Brandtson – Still life

84 – Polar Bear Club – Bottled wind

83 – Starmarket – Losing track

82 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Guitar and video games

81 – Grade – Stolen bikes ride faster

To read more about these songs (90-81) click HERE

80 – Bob Tilton – September

79 – The Autumn Year – Little lost words

78 – Koufax – Going to happen

77 – Wavelets – Julio won’t get out of the car

76 – The Get Up Kids – Forgive and Forget

75 – Hot Rod Circuit – At nature’s mercy

74 – The Appleseed Cast – Steps and numbers

73 – Stapleton – International departures

72 – New End Original – Lukewarm

71 – Hundred Hands – A Replay

To read more about these songs (80-71) click HERE

70 – Knapsack – Cellophane

69 – Elliott – Dionysus Burning

68 – The Lapse – We Must Move Backwards To Progress

67 – Owls – Everyone Is My Friend

66 – Suis La Lune – Quiet, Pull The Strings!

65 – Sunday’s Best – Winter Owned

64 – CSTVT – Hiccups

63 – Vitreous Humor – Sharin’ Stone

62 – Beezewax – Dead End Kids

61 – Death Cab For Cutie – A Movie Script Ending

To read more about these songs (70-61) click HERE

60 – Grown Ups – Three Day Weekend

59 – Funeral Diner – We Become Buried

58 – Snowing – I Think We’re In Minsk

57 – Imbroco – You’re My Lionkiller

56 – Maritime – Tearing Up The Oxygen

55 – Engine Down – The Offer Of Something

54 – Boy’s Life – Sight Unseen

53 – Benton Falls – All These Things

52 – Further Seems Forever – Madison Prep

51 – The Casket Lottery – Ever Since Sulfur

To read more about these songs (60-51) click HERE

50 – Ghosts And Vodka – Sex Is Popular

49 – Transit – Footwork

48 – Jejune – Solar

47 – Hey Mercedes – Quality Revenge At Last

46 – Jeremy Enigk – Lewis Hollow

45 – Cursive – The Radiator Hums

44 – Joan Of Arc – Post Coitus Rock

43 – Pianos Become The Teeth – Cripples Can’t Shiver

42 – The Get Up Kids – Coming Clean

41 – At The Drive-In – Heliotrope

To read more about these songs (50-41) click HERE

40 – Owen – O, Evelyn..

39 – This Beautiful Mess – Don’t Go There

38 – Rites Of Spring – Remainder

37 – Rainer Maria – Artificial Light

36 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Theo B

35 – The Gloria Record – Grace The Snow Is Here

34 – Saves The Day – Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots

33 – Penfold – M

32 – The Promise Ring – A Picture Postcard

31 – Mineral – If I Could

To read more about these songs (40-31) click HERE

30 – Sense Field – Building

29 – Death Cab For Cutie – The Ice Is Getting Thinner

28 – Dashboard Confessional – Turpentine Chaser

27 – Beezewax – The Snooze Is On

26 – The Anniversary – All Things Ordinary

25 – Dismemberment Plan – What Did You Want Me To Say?

24 – The Appleseed Cast – Forever Longing The Golden Sun

23 – Far – Really Here

22 – Pop Unknown – Half Of Ninety

21 – Hot Water Music – Remedy

To read more about these songs (30-21) click HERE

20 – Thursday – Cross Out The Eyes

19 – Jimmy Eat World – Goodbye Sky Harbor

18 – Algernon Cadwallader – Some Kind Of Cadwallader

17 – Christie Front Drive – Radio

16 – The Promise Ring – Red & Blue Jeans

15 – Reiziger – Waiting day

14 – Cross My Heart – It Doesn’t Take That Many Pills To Sleep Forever

13 – The Van Pelt – Speeding Train

12 – Texas Is The Reason – The Magic Bullet Theory

11 – Planes Mistaken For Stars – Copper And Stars

To read more about these songs (20-11) click HERE

10 – Braid – The New Nathan Detroits

Every time I used to make a mixtape for myself or a friend this would always be the first track I’d put on. It’s the ultimate opener, a big catchy brilliant emo blast. It opens their classic album, ‘Frame and Canvas’, and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Braid are a legendary band, they maybe didn’t get the plaudits they thoroughly deserved when emo first broke big but I like to think that has changed since. Especially as they have returned with new music in recent times.

9 – Jimmy Eat World – No Sensitivity

Despite making some of my favourite albums packed with great songs, my favourite Jimmy Eat World song is taken from the split they did with Jebediah. ‘No Sensitivity’ is a great showcase of Jimmy Eat World doing what they do best, making incredibly likeable emo rock songs with killer choruses. This is always a favourite when they play live and somehow I’ve managed to see Jimmy Eat World play 7 times, every time a pleasure.

8 – Spy Versus Spy – Helpless, Sign In Please

Out of all the bands in the UK emo scene in the late 90’s, Spy Versus Spy was the band we held in the highest regard, to me they were like our Cap’n Jazz. There was just something about them that set them apart from the rest of us, while there were plenty of good bands about in those days Spy Versus Spy were always the band I thought I would love forever. And more than 10 years later I still do so maybe that will be true. Their first mini album is still my favourite although they did go on to make the fantastically brilliant album ‘Little Lights’ which you should stop at nothing to get hold of.

7 – The Get Up Kids – I’m A Loner Dottie, A Rebel

Getting to see the Get Up Kids while they were touring in support of ‘Something to write home about’ is still one of the best live experiences I’ve ever had. I got to see them play a few times again but nothing will beat that first time, there was just so much energy and fun surrounding their performance that night. Without the slower songs that filled ‘On a wire’ the show zipped along with the band seeming to have the time of their lives, which in turn meant that we were having the time of our lives. ‘I’m a loner dottie …’ is a classic amongst an album full of classics.

6 – Sunny Day Real Estate – In Circles
 I have always loved this song since the first time I heard it all those years ago, but since their reunion show 2 years ago it has seemed even more special. I had tickets to see them play London in 2001, the show got cancelled because of something to do with their booking agents and then the band split up for the 2nd time. I was gutted and thought I’d never get to see this very special band play live. But, years later it was announced they were going to play a one off reunion show in London, excitedly I snapped up tickets only for that show to get cancelled because of the volcanic ash cloud. They did reschedule however and managed to play and the reaction was incredible. When they launched into ‘In Circles’ the excitement in the crowd was palpable and the noise deafening. Guitarist Dan Hoerner looked blown away by this and seeing his reaction made this amazing song even more so.

5 – The Promise Ring – E. Texas Ave
This song is Taken from probably the greatest split 7 inch ever released. The Texas is the reason song on the other side is fantastic, the artwork equally so but it’s the Promise Ring song that makes it truly great. Weirdly my favourite Promise Ring song is the Promise Ring song that sounds least like a Promise Ring song. It’s a lot heavier than they usually are and a lot darker. But it still sounds uniquely like the Promise Ring with Davey Von Bohlen unmistakeable voice sounding better than ever.

4 – Cap’n Jazz – Little League

 Iconic, influential and downright briliant, Cap’n Jazz created a sound that would go on to be copied many times over. ‘Little League’ is a song I can never grow tired of listening too, It’s energy is completely infectious. The way the song sounds out of control and all over the place is its charm. It breaks down, it builds up, it screams at you and makes you want to get up and throw yourself about like a crazy person. Absolute genius.

3 – The Appleseed Cast – Marigold And Patchwork

 One of the best shows I ever got to attend was when my old band supported The Appleseed Cast the first time they played in Margate. At the time they had only released their debut album, ‘End of the ring wars’, but to us they were massive and we were totally excited to have them play in our small town. They seemed really touched by the reaction they got that night and told us that when we sang along to ‘Marigold and patchwork’ it was one of the first times that that had happened to them. They must’ve liked it here because they came back to play twice more. ‘Marigold and patchwork’ will always remind me of a special time when music was the most exciting thing in my world and will forever be one of my favourite songs. You can download this song for free, see below for details.

2 – American Football – Never Meant

 It’s amazing how some of the most influential and incredible music that came from the emo genre was from bands with short existences and limited output. I know Mike Kinsella has been very prolific in his output in various guises, but American Football had one album and one EP yet remain one of the best emo bands of all time. ‘Never meant’ is beautiful, it’s simple yet complicated at the same time and makes me fall in love each and every time I hear it. It’s the perfect song to do that old emo dance to, you know the one where you put your hands in your pockets and gently sway back and forth with your eyes closed? No? Just me then.

1! – Mineral – &Serenading

 I have said for many years that this is the best emo song of all time. If I have said that to you then I’m sorry for the advance spoiler and apologise for the anti-climax to this list. It’s not just my favourite emo song of all time, it is in fact my favourite song of all time. If anyone mentions emo then Mineral is always the first band that jumps to mind, to me they are THE emo band. ‘EndSerenading’ is a beautiful album, Mineral made music so open and emotional that it shouldn’t work but it does work incredibly so. ‘&serenading’ is the penultimate song from that album, it is heart breakingly gorgeous in every way, lyrically and musically. The ending is just perfect, it builds up with repetitive vocals that harmonize at the right moment to elevate the song into the most beautiful of end riffs. Pure brilliant genius!!!!!

That’s it, the list is done.

FREE MUSIC!!! To celebrate ‘Is this thing on?’ has teamed up with the influential and legendary emo label, Deep Elm, to bring you a free 12 track download sampler featuring every Deep Elm song on the list. That includes music by The Appleseed Cast, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Cross My Heart, Pop Unknown, Benton Falls and many more. Click the link below to go there and download it.

http://deepelmdigital.com/album/deep-elm-is-this-thing-on

Also, while you’re there you can check out the infamous 12 volume Emo Diaries compilation series featuring 147 unreleased tracks by Jimmy Eat World, The Appleseed Cast, This Drama, Further Seems Forever (featuring Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional), Planes Mistaken For Stars, The Movielife, Samiam and many more. Download the lot for $29!!

Here is the link:  http://deepelm.com/emodiaries/

Thank you so much for reading. It has been an unforgettable few weeks sharing this list with you and I want to thank everyone that has read/shared/retweeted/commented etc.. It’s great to know that this music still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people. Feel free to share this and let me know what you think, whether you agree or totally disagree either on here or on twitter (@alex_itto)

Now have a facebook page for the blog too, come and say hi www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

I have updated the spotify playlist, click the link below for that.

Emo 100 (100-1)

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