Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Set It Free's New Single Brings Rock and Positivity

Music is all about the sound. Even with a great image and millions of dollars behind you, an artist can not succeed if the audience can't groove on their tunes.

Hailing from Brick, NJ, Set It Free has grasped their audience with their hard sound an relatable lyrics. Since forming in 2011, Set It Free has already grabbed the attention of Maria Mar, host of Jersey Rock on 95.9 The Wrat and Los Angeles record label Gas Can Music. They've shared the stage with top acts such as Senses Fail, Megadeth and Disturbed. They have also shared the stage with national rockers, Trapt, and caught the ear of bassist Pete Charell.

Charell dug Set It Free's sound so much, he produced their upcoming LP, “Don't Stand Alone,” which will be available nationwide this summer.
I've gotten a peek at a few of the new albums tracks, and I must say, they are in constant rotation now. It may be because it's the first single they released off the album, but my personal favorite track is “Lungs Bleed.”

First of all, “Lungs Bleed” has everything I look for in a Rock song. Joey DeAngelo and Mike Gurnari shred on the guitar, Patrick Dwyer slaps the hell out of the bass, Victor Pascale whales on the skins and Andrew Williams brings it all together with beautifully melodic vocals.

To me, “Lungs Bleed” is all about taking the negativity you hold inside and releasing it. The message they seem to send is that you can't fully live your life and experience the world for what it is when you're focused on everything holding you down and back.

Any fan of Rock and Roll would be foolish to not check out the new single, “Lungs Bleed.” It has the energy to get you pumped without the “vocals” of someone screaming at you through the speakers. Instead, the intense instrumentals are met with vocals you can not only understand, but appreciate for the words that they are. The rest of the album, “Don't Stand Alone,” follows in the same suit, making it one you must get.

Set It Free will be releasing their new album, “Don't Stand Alone,” at a double CD release show with fellow NJ rockers, Breathing Blue, releasing their new album “Inner Animal” on July 7 at the Asbury Lanes in Asbury, NJ.

Much like “Don't Stand Alone,” this is a show you can't afford to miss!

You can check out "Lungs Bleed" on YouTube at the following link:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Female Fronted Vextion Brings a Powerful Sound

Photo by Lizz Codner 

Comedian Daniel Tosh once told a joke that said “Being an ugly woman is like being a man: You're going to have to work.” In certain cases, that may be true. However, regardless of looks, women more often than not have to work harder than their male counterparts. Even still, though, it can be more difficult for a woman to gain the recognition they deserve, regardless of how hard they work.
If there is one place this holds true more than any, it's in the music industry, especially in rock and roll. When most people think of women involved in music, the image of a glits and glamor pop-star comes in to mind. In the 90's, Courtney Love did help to shed that image, but her fame was mostly related to her marriage to Kurt Cobain.
Fronted by Kate Ortiz, New Jersey band Vextion is defying the odds. Coming off of their debut at this year's Seaside Music Festival in Seaside Heights, NJ, Kate and bassist Max Orozco discuss what it's like being a female-fronted band and what it's like in the music scene.

Dolla Bil Facciponte: First of all, I have to ask, how was your first performance at the Seaside Music Fest?

Kate Ortiz: It was awesome! We had a big crowd. Everyone was having a good time and really seemed to enjoy the music. I think our crowd doubled from the time we started to the middle of our set.

DB: Were you excited?

Max Orozco: Of course! Seaside is my back yard so it's always fun to play there

KO: We've been wanting to play this for like two years and we finally got on so it's awesome.

DB: Did you guys do anything different for this show than you would any other?

KO: We did a couple covers. Usually we'll only do one. Plus Seaside usually has cover bands and there's going to be a lot of drinking.

MO: It was kind of my idea. People are going to be walking by on the boardwalk and hear something they hear on the radio and they'll want to come inside.

DB: That's a very good point. I want to talk briefly about other shows you've done. You've done a lot of charity shows such as the Move for Hunger Benefit, the Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy, and a show to raise awareness for Turner's Syndrome. Why do you guys get involved in these benefit shows?

KO: We try to help people with what we do. We're not rich and famous yet, so we can't write a check, so we try to do something to help out.

MO: Yeah, we're musicians so if we can help people with our music in any way, it's a good thing.

DB: Did you guys have any personal reasons for doing these shows?

KO: We really just want to try and help.

DB: That's very commendable. Now I want to talk about your album. You released “What I Am” last summer. How was the recording process? Did you guys have a lot of fun with it?

MO: It took forever.

KO: It was a lot of fun! I actually recorded it so it was also very stressful. While we were recording it, Max had just joined the band.

MO: Yeah, I joined and they were like “You're in the band now, now let's go record all these songs you barely know.

KO: Yeah, that sounds about right. I was really happy to be done. Recording your own band is weird and stressful and you start to hate your own songs because you hear them in practice everyday, you hear them when you're recording them and then when you're mixing them and it will drive you a little insane. But, I was really happy to finally accomplish that CD.

DB: Max, how nerve racking was it for you to jump into the band and then all of a sudden you're in the studio recording?

MO: I'm pretty awesome so it wasn't that bad. But it was interesting. I've never been thrown into a situation like that. It all worked out for the best and I'm very happy with the album.

DB: Do you guys have plans to do more recording any time soon?

KO: We do. We're actually doing some scratch recording for our second CD right now. We're taking our time with this one because the last one got rushed out because we just needed something to offer so we're taking our time, getting everything perfect and then we're going to do the real recording and have an amazing sounding second CD. Hopefully we'll have another CD out by next summer. We really want to take our time with it and make it perfect because we had to rush the first one a bit more than I would have liked just so we could have something for the fans. I think we'll definitely release a single or two in the meantime, maybe in the next few months.

DB: I'm sure it helps that you guys have had some more time together to mesh as a band and figure out who plays what kind of styles and the capabilities of everyone. Now you can put a lot more collaborative effort into it.

KO: Yeah, it's going to be a lot better. When we started recording the drums, Bob was pretty new to the band. Now we know what we're playing and what everyone else [in the band] is playing so we can put it together and make it sound like one piece.

MO: Exactly. The difference between the new recordings and the ones that are out is that we wrote these songs together as opposed to just learning someone's part.

DB: Well you talk about Bob and Max being new to the band when you first recorded. All of you came from different bands and have been playing for the past five to 10 years. How did you all find each other?

KO: All different ways. I met George when we played a show together and he was with his old band and he found out we were looking for a second guitarist and a drummer. Bob actually found us on MySpace, yeah, that long ago and we also had an ad on Craigslist which he found so we tried him out and he worked really well.

MO: I found them on Craigslist.

DB: For anybody trying to come up in the music scene, it's challenging. Do you feel it's harder being a female-fronted band?

KO: Sometimes. It depends on the crowd. More times then not, they're really accepting. As long as you play good music, they're going to listen. I think every once in a while we'll get that one jerk who discriminates against us or says inappropriate things because I'm a girl, but it's not too hard to shut them up.

Photo by Lizz Codner

DB: I just heard this the other day and I really wanted to get your input on it. Halestorm is the first female fronted band to be number one on the rock charts. do you think this is going to help you guys as far as gaining credibility and respect?

KO: First off. That's really surprising that they're the first. There have been so many great female fronted bands over the years. Great for them though! As far as respect and credibility...Maybe it'll help. But honestly we haven't ran into to many road blocks with the band being female fronted. I think maybe there might be some people who will make assumptions because I'm a girl before we play...but I think we show them what's up once we hit the stage! People seems to really respond well to our sound and our energy.

DB: What would you consider the best show you ever did?

MO: This is actually funny. A family member of mine teaches middle school in Barnegat. They just did really well on their standardized tests so they asked if we'd come play. I didn't think anything of it so I made some calls and got everyone on board. So we played in the gym of this middle school and it was ridiculous.

KO: Yeah, we got to play two sets. We did one for the sixth and eighth graders, which was probably about 300 kids. Then we played for the seventh graders and that was probably another 200 kids and they went insane for us! If you had seen that, you would've thought we were the biggest band in the world. It was awesome. I don't think we've ever had a more receptive show. One girl looked like she was going to cry when I high-fived her.

DB: Is music your number one passion and if so, has it always been?

KO: For me, yes. For as long as I can remember, I always played the cheesy, cheap musical instruments, or at least tried to, and I knew I always wanted to play music.

MO: I've always loved music. I think my first memory of music is “Achey-Breaky Heart” in the back of my moms crappy Pontiac. I've just always been a fan of music. I started off with just radio hits and then I discovered rock music and thought it was awesome. Then I discovered metal and thought it was awesome. Then I discovered hip-hop and I was opened up to a whole new world.

DB: It kind of shows in your songs. You hear all the different influences from pop to rock to heavy metal. Is that everybody's collective influences?

KO: Yeah, I don't think any of us have the same taste in music in this band. There's a few bands here and there we agree on but as a whole, our tastes are opposite sides of the spectrum.

DB: I almost hate to ask the question, but out of personal curiosity, I have to know. What's the meaning behind the name?

KO: I just kind of came up with it. I've been in other bands before and the names have been just really generic. So when you go to look them up, there's 40 other bands with the same name and I just didn't want to do that again. I wanted something interesting that no one else would have. It's like the way I come up with songs, it kind of just happened.

MO: My personal favorite thing about the name is it's not a word. So if you type “Vextion” in a search engine, we're the first thing that pops up.

KO: People pay thousands of dollars for that privilege but we got it just by being weirdo's.

DB: Do you have any advice for anyone trying to make it in the music scene?

KO: Networking is the most important thing in the entire world. You could be the best band in the world but if you don't work with other people, you're going to be stuck in the same spot forever. And don't get discouraged. I've played awful shows where people didn't like us or we played to one person who was a relative in the middle of the dance floor and that was it. You have to play those crappy shows to get to the really good ones. It's a right of passage.

DB: Very well said. Thank you very much and I wish you the best of luck!

KO: Thank you!

Photo by Lizz Codner

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Criminal Risk: Finally a Real Band

It isn’t too often that a band will stick with all original members their entire career. When that does happen, many times, it’s a short-lived career. Band members will come and go, but the will to move on is what fans often respect.
A Criminal Risk made their name as a punk rock trio from Toms River, NJ. However, as people grow, so does their style. Now working towards a four-piece band, ACR says they finally feel like a real band. They also realize that sometimes, people are just living to die and the only certainties in life, as they say, are death and Batman.
Dolla Bil Facciponte: Right off the bat, you guys are currently going through a lineup change. You’ve recently been working with a new bassist.  How’s he working out?
Tom Kunzman: Awesome. He’s doing good.  He’s actually an old friend of mine from my first band where he played bass. We kind of lost touch for a while and I realized recently he wasn’t playing with anyone so he was one of the first people I thought to call.  I didn’t know how Joe was going to feel about him but the second he came over and right off the bat it was really comfortable.
DB: Well aside from him, you’ve also added a second guitarist, right?
TK: Yeah, we’re going to add a fourth member. The three-piece thing is cool. I personally love it. The majority of all my favorite bands are three pieces and the bands we mostly agree on are three pieces. When you see a three piece band pull off such an amazing sound on stage we think if they can do that, so can we. Plus, there’s less minds clashing so it’s easier to work as a three piece.
Joe Appolonia: The night we got the guitar player, Tom texted me and asked how I felt about a fourth member. I said yes and he was shocked because I’m also into three-piece bands a lot.
DB: Is it weird having a fourth member now?
TK: It feels better. He stopped by and jammed with us one weekend and he already knew the songs because he already had the album. So he just said tell me which ones we’re playing, I already know him.
JA: Yeah, he was already adding his own stuff to the songs. Even with past experiences I’ve had, people come over and what they write is terrible and you have a hard time saying it, but he came over and played stuff and I was blown away.
DB: It has to be cool that he just comes in and meshed with you guys so easily.
TK: Yeah, that’s the thing. He’s got a very open mind. He’s been in tons of different styles of bands, but that influence makes it more listener friendly, I think.
DB: Let’s talk about the original formation of the band. How did A Criminal Risk first come together?
TK: I was just coming out of a band with our first drummer. Our old band had more of a pop side to it. I had all these ideas that I wanted to write that I couldn’t put in those bands.  So we wanted to do something more aggressive, a little more real and not so over-polished. Then our old bassist was looking for a band so he joined with us and that was that.  We weren’t as busy then as we are now. I feel like we were waiting for the lineup we had now.
JA: Yeah, I’ve been in this band for about three years now and I haven’t had as much fun as I’m having now. We haven’t even played a show with the new guys yet and I’m already having a better time then I’ve had in a long time.
DB: You recently released your album “The Art of Dropping Names.” How was putting the album together?
TK: Awesome. It’s hard to explain how excited I was to get that CD out. A piece of it was already recorded and we weren’t happy with it at all.  So we went back and re-did some of the older ones. Then we did the rest of the songs that people had been hearing live for years that we never got to record. 
JA: Tom was so stoked to be putting the album out. At first, I didn’t really think much of it. Once it came out, I just thought this is great.
TK: Actually, we didn’t even know it came out. Someone called me and was made that we didn’t let them know our album was on iTunes. I was excited and it came out two weeks before the tour so it was perfect timing. 
DB: You guys released that album with a former lineup. Now that the lineup has changed, do you think the sound is going to change at all?
TK: Honestly, no.  The music is still the same. It’s just as busy. Guitar-wise, it’s not all my ideas. As far as the bass player goes, I like them to have their own freedom and do what they think fits. Then they’ll feel more relaxed which is exactly how they should feel. I guess our new sound isn’t what you’d expect, but it’s not the opposite of ACR.
JA: It’s also cool to have somebody else in the band that can actually sing now. He does harmonies, but it’s in a good way.
DB: So you guys are relatively young. Not many people are going to get to go on tour at a young age like you have. What kind of feeling is that?
JA: It was weird for me because I’m the youngest. The first tour was really weird because I should have been a senior in high school but I dropped out to go on tour. All my friends were graduating and wondering what they were going to do and I’m about to get in a van and go to Chicago.
TK: The last tour was kind of weird for me.
DB: Well that was also your album release tour, wasn’t it?
TK: Yeah and what was cool about it was another band was touring for their album as well. And then the headlining band, Freshman Fifteen, was touring for their single, “Anywhere but here.” Like I said though, it was a little weird only in a sense of we’re nobody at all and these guys wanted us to go on tour with them. They had another band in mind but we sent them a copy of our single “65” and when they heard that they wanted us, so that was a good feeling.
DB: You guys have been doing this music thing for a little while now. What have you learned the most?
TK: I learned how much I love the style of music I play. My first band was similar to what we do now but then I ventured out into some heavier stuff. That stuff got old quick so I got back into this style and realized this is what I love to do.
JA: I’ve learned to enjoy it all and take it all while it comes. At first all I wanted to do was just go on tour. So we got calls for tour and we were excited. Tom was the one that kept us in check and its good to have that realist in the group.
TK: Another big lesson was the cliché of when the going gets tough, the tough get going. We had $1200 worth of van troubles on tour once and we had no money. Then we had all of our regular expenses so it got tough.
DB: You guys always show your passion and how much fun you have playing music. There’s an awful scenario where bands will say this is their life plan and it doesn’t work out. What if that happens to you?
JA: Well Tom and I met at school for audio engineering while we were still in high school. After I dropped out to go on tour, I paid to go back to that class. When I got done with it I thought this was cool for a back up plan. But this is what we love, and we won’t get sick of it.
TK: That’s a tough question to answer. You never really know when it’s done. There have been times, like with our most recent situation, where I questioned if Joe and I should just start over. Even then, anything we’d ever write would be the same thing because it’s just who we are.
DB: Since you guys are living out your dream, what advice do you have for anyone else?
TK: Whatever you’re doing, just do it cause you mean it. Anything you do, say it from your heart and mind because people can tell when you’re lying, especially people who care. If you love something, you won’t get sick of it.
JA: Enjoy it. Take every day as it comes and have fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Breathing Blue: Names Aren't Everything

A band will often times spend hours, days, even weeks coming up with the perfect name for their band. Many times they’ll even come up with a name before making music.  Even more so, they want to make sure it has a hard-hitting meaning.
Hailing from Ocean County, the members of Breathing Blue went the opposite direction. Using a name that came on the fly, Breathing Blue has made a name based on their music. 
Dolla Bil Facciponte: Let’s talk right away about what’s new with you guys. You’re working on the release of your first full-length album. How’s that all going?
Matt Basilotto: It’s going good. We recorded at The Pilot Studio with our friend Dave Ryan. We finished recording in February and we’re all really happy with it.  We’re looking at a late spring/early summer release.
Chris Dechert: It’s all new songs that no one has ever heard. These songs were written strictly for the record and they haven’t been played out, so it’s all fresh and new.
DB:  Do you have a title?
CD: Yeah, it’s called “Inner Animal.”
DB: Is this album different from your previous work?
CD: It’s a whole different ballgame.
Rob Bost: We found our new sound. Our first EP was like we were trying to find our sound. Now with the full length, we know what we want to be which is hard-hitting rock and roll.
DB: Your fans have gotten used to the sound you had when, as you said, you were trying to find your sound. Do you think they’ll accept the new album just as much?
MB: We kind of weaned them into it. We released a couple of singles so they kind of knew what to expect. We kind of frankensteined a couple of songs. We took some dead songs and brought them to the new album.
CD: A lot of the songs had hints of our new rock and roll, southern rock style. All in all, the thing of us is we’ll always have the same sound. Our singer is very different and we’re pretty particular about our tones and way we have everything sound.
DB: So now let’s talk about your past a bit. What brought you guys together to form Breathing Blue?
MB: Breathing Blue started about three years ago.
CD: Yeah, we were all in other bands, some together some separately.  Our drummer was in another band and Matt, Rob and I were in a band together where I was the singer. We broke up and Matt and Rob started a new band with J.T our current singer. They called me out of the blue and said, “Hey man, why don’t you come jam and play bass?” I thought it’d be cool so I went over for our first practice, and the rest is history.
DB: Well where did the name come from?
CD: We were going to play our first show and the promoter kept hounding us because he needed a name to put on the bill.  We didn’t care about a name or even try to think of one. Then for whatever reason, Rob turns around in the car and says “first band name off the top of your head.” I said Breathing Blue and we just carried on with it.
DB: Aside from the upcoming album, you’ll also be playing Bamboozle this year for the third straight year. What’s that like?
MB: It’s cool. Especially since it’s in Asbury this year, it’s probably going to be the coolest Bamboozle yet.
CD: Plus we’re all big Foo Fighters and Incubus fans, so it’s unreal for us to be playing with them in our home area.  We’re pretty excited for that and a bunch of other shows we have lined up. We have a couple of small tours coming up. We’re really just trying to hit the road and play outside of Jersey.  Although, we do have a big show coming up at the Starland Ballroom with Eve 6 that we’re getting ready for.
DB: Are you doing any of your new stuff at the Starland show?
CD: Since the record has been done, all we do is play new stuff. Whatever our set time is – oh we have 30 minutes, we can do the first four tracks. 
DB: You guys are pretty young and have done a lot for your age. Is that a weird feeling?
MB: I think sometimes we forget, but when you put it like that it makes us stop and think, “oh damn.”
CD: It’s like if you’re a football player and you win all these trophies. After that you think, “oh I want to get into this college” or “I want to get into the NFL.” So all the other stuff is cool, but when you think about it and look at all your trophies, you think “damn” and you’re always just striving to do better and progress. We have our glory moments, but the next day we’re right back to work.
RB: It goes so fast. It’s an insane feeling. You forget about it while you’re up there, especially big shows like Grammercy Theatre. It feels like we’re up there for two seconds then it’s over.
DB: What kind of struggles have you guys gone through?
CD: Being in a band. If anyone ever thinks it’s a great idea to start a band and get a trailer and go on tour, don’t do it.
DB: Then why do you do it?
CD: We’re in too deep at this point. It’s all we know how to do.
MB: Aside from that, it’s just rough. We’ll get in several fights a day. If you could imagine a struggle between two people and then on top of that you need money and then you have a deadline for something and then you have a struggle for trying to promote stuff. Everything just adds up and it’s a struggle. Sometimes I don’t even want to tell people I’m in a band because they’ll look at me like a con-headed-ninny-mugget. Nobody knows there’s more to it than playing music.
RB: Everyone thinks it’s just fun, which it is, but it’s still a job. It’s one of the toughest jobs there is.
DB: Have you found it hard to balance the band and your personal lives?
CD: Absolutely.
MB: I think we’re getting used to it because we’ve been doing it so long, but it’s still really hard.
RB: It’s brought some problems especially with girlfriends and things like that. There were some situations where it’s torn us apart and changed us. Now it’s all back to the way it was and we have our sixth member, it was all for the better. If that didn’t happen then this stuff now probably wouldn’t have, either.
DB: You guys clearly put a lot of work into what you do and people respect it. Especially with this interview, you guys were on board right away.
RB: It gets tough because people hear we’re in a band and think, “oh there’s a million others just like you.” It doesn’t get me down because the more people tell me that the harder it makes me want to work. It’s a little discouraging but then I’ll be like “well I just played to 1500 people last night.”
MB: Sometimes I’ll laugh with them and just think “I hate you,” but it doesn’t get us down too much.
DB: Which goes to show you guys are doing this for the love rather than the glory and money.
CD: When we go on a weekend tour or do any shows, it’s like, how do you think we get six or seven hours away? We didn’t make money at the last gig. It’s about whose got money to put in the van or for a hotel. That all comes out of our pocket and it’s so worth it to me because there’s no greater feeling than that.
RB: All bands go through it when they start, you know, going on tour and trying to build a following.
DB: Some bands are fortunate to be financially back, but most aren’t, and I think the ones that aren’t get the most respect because people see bands doing it themselves.
RB: That’s the goal. Hopefully people give us more of a push because we do do it ourselves. We want to build a big family of friends and fans that’ll stick with us forever.
CD: We don’t want to have one big hit and have that be the end of it. I’d love to play to 5,000 people a night. That’d be great, but I’d be perfectly content if we went on tour and there were 60 to 100 people there if every single one of them came to the show because they love our music.
DB: In the worst-case scenario that it doesn’t work out, do you guys have a back-up plan?
CD: (Rob and I have both said) if you have a back-up plan, then maybe you don’t care that much about your plan A.
DB: Finally, if you’re only remembered for one thing, what do you want it to be?
CD: That we’re all around badass.  Cool dudes, cool music. I mean, think of Led Zeppelin. If you had one word to describe them, what would it be, you know?
DB: You guys do what you want to do and it works for you. You’ve found your sound and know where you want to go which is the biggest part of the battle.  You definitely look like you have fun on stage and I’ve had a great time here. Do you have any final words?
Collectively: Rock and roll!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BoundAlive Sends a Positive Message with "Relive"

Formed with the intention of making music that relates to listeners on an intense emotional level, BoundAlive’s hard rock and metal style connects with several different audiences. You can clearly feel their 80’s thrash metal and 90’s grunge influences in all of their songs.
Staying true to their original style, BoundAlive has released their latest single, “Relive.” Like most BoundAlive songs, this song has a positive message. It’s about not reliving the same mistakes but embracing them and learning that there is hope and a choice every time.
BoundAlive said that it started out as an acoustic addictive riff and lyrics immediately followed. The first line, “This means war,” talks about the war that takes place within everyone and the battles we face with trying to make the right decisions for ourselves and loved ones.
BoundAlive may be heavy rockers, but they’re not different than anyone else. The message they try to get across is that they understand pain, heartache and the amount of control we, as individuals, have and learn that we can truly can truly shape our own destiny and rewrite our own fate.There will be times in the song where it’ll sound dark and sick but once you really hear what they have to say, you will realize the amount of power, passion and persuasion that they deliver to you.
BoundAlive is currently in the process of writing for their next album with the hope of bringing the same positive message to every song on it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just Kait: Not Your Average Girl

Many people may never know the name of Kait DiBenedetto. However, this 19-year-old music prodigy has gained a large following as “Just Kait.” She has gained success and fame some only imagine, especially given her young age.
Kait has dedicated her life to music. Even with the amount of success she's found, she has remained true to who she's always been. She's followed her heart and made her dreams a reality.

Dolla Bil Facciponte: Have you always had an interest in making music?

Kait DiBenedetto: Definitely. When I was little, I would pretend baseball bats were guitars so I think I've always had a love for it.

DB: What was your inspiration for getting into music?

KD: My dad was a big part of it. When I was growing up, he was in bands so I'd go to his practices. I think I always just wanted to follow in his footsteps. Besides that, listening to a lot of old school pop-punk/pop rock bands made me want to play.

DB: Who were some of your favorite bands growing up?

KD: New Found Glory, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, basically everything that was around those days.

DB: Those are bands that have found major success in music. You've also found some success as well. How does it feel to be featured on MTV and have your music constantly used on their programming?

KD: I'm super proud and fortunate for all of that. I never thought a company as big as MTV would ever even notice my music, especially considering they don't play much music anymore but, like, its cool. Weird, but awesome.

DB: I'm sure it's also had a big part in helping boost your career.

KD: Absolutely. People who wouldn't normally listen to my music have heard of it one way or another and that's cool. Regardless of if they actually like it or not, at least they are hearing it.

DB: Have you found any difficulties in balancing life?

KD: Not really. I think the only difficult thing for me was trying to finish high school while going on a two month tour. I definitely wanted to finish school so I did a lot of school work on the bus. I also didn't want to miss prom so I made sure I flew home right after the tour ended so I could make it. I even made my mom go to the school and get the paperwork.

DB: Is there any difference between "Just Kait" the musician and "Kait DiBenedetto" the person?

KD: Not really. Who I am in real life is exactly how I am on stage. Some of the songs I write and perform as Just Kait are a little more pop then some of the stuff I actually listen to, but that's not anything that shocking. A lot of people are like that. In early interviews with Just Kait there were definitely moments where I was told to act or restrict myself in a certain way just because I've always been pretty straight forward and sometimes people or places weren't ready for that, but besides that, there's no difference.

DB: Well it certainly seems like you're able to completely be yourself. I'm sure that also helps you connect with your fans a lot better.

KD: Exactly. I got sick of people telling me what to say and what not to say. Like you said, fans understand the real me and that's something they respect. They obviously aren't going to want to look up to an artist who's fake or dishonest. They can relate to a lot of the things I say and do because of that.

DB: Is it a weird feeling to still be growing up and being looked up to?

KD: Oh yeah. It's crazy sometimes to think that people that are older then me actually look up to me. Especially because like I told you earlier, I'm always myself around them and they are more like friends to me than anything. It definitely makes me feel good though.

DB: You perform as "Just Kait," but you're often accompanied by a band. Do you prefer to perform solo or with the band?

KD: With a band for sure. Honestly, before I started "Just Kait," I wanted the whole project to be more of a band and much less a solo project but things didn't pan out that way. I've always loved live shows with big guitars and drums.

DB: You've been working on a new EP. How's that been going?

KD: Awesome! I'm so proud of the entire thing. It really means a lot to me and I'm excited to release it in the summer!

DB: What's this album going to be like compared to your previous work?

KD: Its totally different. It shows a completely different side of me. Obviously, I pour my heart and soul into all the music I write, but these are more serious songs and you can just feel the emotion in every word and riff. Some of the subjects are a lot more [relative] in one way or another.

DB: Everyday new musicians try to make it, but more fail than succeed. In the unfortunate scenario that things don't pan out for you, do you have a pack up plan?

KD: Honestly, no. That sounds terrible but I don't. I put all my time and money into this. Money I had saved for college went to my music career and I honestly don't regret it. I went all in with this. I do have interests in other things that I'd like to do like a clothing line or something along those lines, but music is my thing.

DB: I have to say, I've done quite a few interviews and it's not very often somebody shows that type of determination and certainty.

KD: Well to me its not just music. I'm not doing it to impress anyone, I do it because I love it and its what keeps me sane. If I don't put 1,000 percent into it, I feel like I'm letting myself down.

DB: Finally, Kait, if you're only remembered for one thing, what do you wish that to be?

KD: I want to be remembered for lyrics and music that touched people. Whether that's taken in a corny way or a super serious way, I don't care. Its really cliche' but if I got one person through a bad day or saved anyone’s life in anyway, that's perfect for me.

DB: Kait for as young as you are, you've accomplished so much that people most people couldn't imagine and you're only getting started. You're positive attitude makes you a great role model and you're musical skills are incredible. Thank you so much for talking to me tonight and I wish you the best of luck.

KD: Thank you so much. It mean's so much to me and you're welcome.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Magnums: Re-cocked and Re-loaded

By BIL FACCIPONTE           

A separation of two parties is a devastating event for anyone involved. At the time, it's hard to imagine life going on at that point. For most people, this comes in the form of a romantic relationship. However, there is another type of relationship that may suffer this more than anyone else.

Many bands that have become household names do not contain the original members that started the band. Whether it be due to politics within the band, a lack of desire or a new dream coming about, band members split all the time. The biggest issue for the band is moving on from that point.

While many may quit after losing a member, Toms River band The Magnums have kept their passion for music. Drummer Phil Rusher had left the band to explore other interests. Despite the loss, The Magnums made their return to the stage on Thursday, February 6 at McIntyre's Pub in Toms River with new drummer, Drew Maltese.

Bil Facciponte: Hey guys, we're here outside McIntyre's after your first set in almost a year. How does it feel?

Nico Santo-Domingo: It feels good to be back on stage performing. We haven't been around in a little while and it almost feels like we never left. I think Drew did really well.

BF: Well let's touch on that. Drew you've only been in the band for a few months now. How does it feel to be apart of the returning Magnums tonight?

Drew Maltese: It felt pretty good, jubilant even. All in all it was great except for a broken cymbal and a leg on the floor tom. It was really cool to be a part of this. I've always been a fan of them. When I first moved (to New Jersey) I started going to a bunch of their shows. I don't normally play drums, but with this band, it just feels good and natural.

NSD: It really felt like rock and roll.

BF: Would you guys say this is the best lineup you've ever had?

NSD: I can't because we've said that every time. Tonight though, we did have a lot of people tell us Drew was exactly the drummer we needed.

BF: The biggest thing a band needs is a connection between members. How do you guys feel Drew fits with the band?

NSD: He fits real well. We all get along and that's one of the key things for us.

BF: You guys debuted a few new songs tonight. Talk a bit about the process in writing the new tunes.

Garret Bayard: It seemed effortless. Everything just kind of fell into place.

NSD: Yeah nothing seemed to really change as far as the writing process went. It did seem easier now than it ever did before.

DM: It took about five minutes to write a song and I've never been part of a band that could write so quickly. It's just something where we caught magic in the moment and just rode that groove. 

BF: In a lot of the new stuff we're starting to hear Rob doing backup vocals. You haven't done a lot of those in the past, how does it feel?

Rob Molinari: I've actually always wanted to. I enjoy doing vocals. As long as it sounds good, I'm happy.

BF: It sounded very good. In fact, the show as a whole was great.

NSD: Yeah a couple of people noticed at the beginning of our set I was nervous. I was just kind of walking awkwardly on stage but once we got into it, it fell into place.

BF: Well you guys debuted some new songs tonight and you've been spending some time in the studio. When can we expect a new album?

GB: Soon, a lot sooner. Definitely quicker than our last one.

DM: Oh I'll definitely back that. I'm so anxious to record.

NSD: Yeah, everything just feels good now. We've had six members that have come and gone with the band but like I said, several people have told has the Drew is what we needed.

GB: Nico and I talked about that earlier and we're pretty inclined to agree with those people.

BF: Well fellas, it was great to see you back on the stage and I'm sure the fans can't wait to see you again. Thank you for the interview and the best of luck to you.

NSD: Thank you for your support and remember kids, always support local music.

The Magnums are:
Nico Santo-Domingo
Garrett Bayard
Rob Molinari
Drew Maltese