Sunday, February 24, 2013

Locals Only - Under The Radar

Something I've wanted to do for a while is do some coverage of my favorite local bands out here in the wastelands. Welcome to the first edition of Locals Only!

Much like any local scene wherever you go, things are weird. The trends may vary from region to region but one thing is for sure; you're either playing what 90% of other local bands are playing or you're playing something too different and off the wall to appeal to the masses.

I used to heckle bands from the sound booth here at a local club - I've seen hundreds of bands perform over the last couple of years. I've seen everything from huge national touring acts play to an empty room to a small local band play to a sold out venue. It's fun, entertaining and keeps the music out here going. I love local bands, especially when they step in with zero fucks given and do something different. One that note, one of my favorites is a band called Under The Radar. On the subject of playing music that doesn't appeal to what's hot - These kids are smack in the middle of the battle. They've only been together for a short amount of time but they're slowly coming together with the lineup. Newest to the front lady slot, a gal named Stephanie, sings quiet, low and has a great range. She stands in one place with her sunglasses on. It kinda drove me nuts, but at each show it doesn't change - and if there's one thing I can get behind, it's consistency. If you got a schtick that works - do it! I recently spoke with Maxx about the past, present and future of the band. Fresh from recording their EP "Rolling Stealth," here's our very first edition of Locals Only:

Give me the story behind Under the Radar:
Well when Brandon and I (Maxx) first became friends we had almost nothing in common musically, I was raised on punk and Brandon on rock. Reggae was really the only thing we both enjoyed and it started from there. After jamming for several month we were asked to play a Christmas party, we found some fill-in members to round it out and that was our first ever show under the name Rolling Stealth. After a great night, Travis stepped in full time on guitar and bass and we were delighted. Eventually, a long time friend of Travis, Stephanie came forward, we loved her voice and she fit right in. We started playing local Industry Theater shows with any bands we could. We've recently added Daniel on keys and have been playing shows all over southern California. Recently, we've released our debut EP - Rolling Stealth. (Press play up there if you haven't!)

Members and instruments with a little background:
Maxx - Drums. I've been playing the drums for about 10 years, including several years in marching/jazz band in school. A lot of punk and ska influences, I also really like modern Progressive Metal which I think influences my playing.
Brandon Beckwith - Guitar. Brandon has been playing for 7years, and with influences like Ernest Ranglin, George Benson, Randy Rhoads and Roy Buchanan. 
Travis Steinbock - Guitar, vocals, bass. Travis has been playing for 7 years. His influences: Jimi Hendrix, Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani, John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Stephanie Leathers - Vocals. Shes been singing for almost 15 years with influence from Etta James, April Smith, Roger Waters and Chino Moreno.
Daniel Hoghoughi - Keyboards and Synth. Daniel has been playing for 9 years with influences from Hans Zimmer, Tom Tykwer, and Ramin Djawadi.

Favorite/influential bands:
This is always a hard question for us. We have a lot of influences ranging from classical composers to modern metal. Sublime, Bob Marley, The Expendables, The Slackers, Hepcat, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scale The Summit, King Tubby, Jimi Hendrix are probably some of the major ones we can all agree on.

Worst habits of each member:
We are all pretty loud, and annoying with twisted senses of humor, and we probably smoke to much. I have a terrible memory that's probably the worst of it all! [Laughs] The hardest part trying to deal with overlapping work and school schedules.

Which Star Wars character would you be and why?
Personally, Boba Fett. Nothing beats being a bounty hunter for hire roaming the stars with a jet pack! But that's one of the worst death scenes in the series! [Laughs]

You guys just did dropped an EP - Tell me aboutit :
We recorded our first demos back in like October/ November and they were all covers. We recorded at 33rd Street Recordings with Matt Lubrick; a Sublime cover and A Red Hot Chili Peppers cover. We just released a new EP called Rolling Stealth, 6 original songs one being an instrumental. These songs were mostly written within a week of recording and were done on the first take, we are extremely proud of ourselves for making music we truly enjoy and hope others enjoy it just as much.

Favorite UTR song and why:
Oh, this is hard. I've become quite find of Blue Dream, but I love playing the Instrumental songs because I get to go crazy on the drums! [Laughs]

What does the song writing process look like?
Usually Brandon comes to us with a basic guitar melody and we work together from there, we do a lot of improv jamming to get a flow going. Then Stephanie comes up with a melody and lyrics.

Most memorable show:
Opening for Fortunate Youth at The Coach House. It was an amazing experience with great bands that all seemed to be helping each other out. After [the show] we got such a great response from the crowd and had several people approach us with positve comments.

Future plans for UTR:
Well we have been focused on our EP, but we're already writing a full length. We'd love to play on some festivals and tour in the future but who knows what that holds.

Any upcoming shows?
We don't have any more booked shows since the EP but we are always looking- check any of our sites for show information!

Last words!
We're basically a group of friends that get together make some music. We put ourselves into our music because it means everything to us, whether or not as a career, we will be doing this the rest of our lives. Thank you to anyone who takes the time to listen to our music. Even if you don't like it.

You can find Under The Radar at any of these links - support local and not-so-local unsigned bands and give these guys a "like" on Facebook and most importantly; go out to a show!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's not made for you

As some of you may or may not know, some of us AHTCK members are pretty nerdy; we spend a lot of our time playing videogames, watching Firefly, or spending countless hours on Memebase. One thing I've seen come up over and over and over again is the whole trend of disliking Nicki Minaj, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, etc. Now, I've already spoken of my love for Lady Gaga. That ship has sailed. She's awesome. Let's take a look at Nicki Minaj for a moment...


Let's look at some numbers instead!

First album: Hit number one on Billboard 200, then went Platinum within a month.
First female solo artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.
Her seventh single, "Super Bass" has been certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA, and has sold more than four million copies, becoming one of the best-selling singles in the United States.
Second Album: over a million copies sold world-wide.
Two WORLD-wide tours that both sold tickets pretty well.
Her songs have earned her six BET Awards, four American Music Awards, two MTV Music Awards, an EMA and the Billboard's 2011 Rising Star award.

She's obviously doing something right - some of her songs I really don't care for but some of them are super neat. The production is really good and there's a lot of work put into it - I can appreciate that. Here's the problem though:


Her music isn't made for you. Same with Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, Kanye West... A grown ass man (or lady) complaining that the Beibs is ruining music? C'mon. You're not in the target demographic for him. Of course "Baby Baby Baby Baby Baby" isn't going to inspire you to get off your lazy ass and change the world. Unless you're 12 years old, none of that music is meant for you. Most of these artists are making music for the dance clubs in Hollywood and hip hop radio stations and the tweens in middle school. Even if you're not into the weird music/off the wall lyrics/over the top outfits - you're talking about it. Truly; no such thing as bad publicity. Now, am I going to run out and buy all of her CDs? No. Maybe. Whatever. Watch this awesome video from the Lonely Island guys featuring not just Nicki Minaj, but John fucking Waters. Anyone who is this successful and takes the time to make music with a bunch of jokers is good in my book. Don't take yourself too seriously - do what makes you happy, etc. etc.

Lastly; Remember - if the music isn't made for you to begin with, stop wasting your time complaining about how awful it is. Go start a band and make better music and become super famous creating the next big thing - that'll show them!