Thursday, September 30, 2010



Wednesday, September 29, 2010


  Despite the fact he's been gigging around Lansing and Mt. Pleasant, and already has an established nice guy reputation among his musical peers, DRB was sadly oblivious to Central Michigan University's Joe Hertler. That is, until a random Detroit search on turned up Hertler's magnificent SLEEPING GIANT ep.
Among the four acoustic, chillout tracks on GIANT is a cover of 'My Own Home' from Disney's The Jungle Book. This is going to sound utterly preposterous, but Mr. Hertler has managed to take a throwaway Disney tune, that even Rudyard Kipling would find chafing and transform it into a tantalizing piece of gourmet ear candy.
Aside from the EP, in October of 2009, Joe released 'The Hard Times' LP, also via bandcamp, and went the extra mile to personalize each copy of the album with a hand drawn CD, and five photo prints. But more importantly, 'The Hard Times' includes the depressive brilliance of 'Dancing With A Ghost' which will have you sprawled on your green couch contemplating your great lost love and just what the hell went wrong. The other standout track is 'Pontiac', which will have you genuinely, stupefyingly, wondering how this 21 year old can so effortlessly capture an evening at the Crofoot (or Industry for those of you as old as I am!) gone totally and completely wrong. Who among us hasn't found themselves sitting out on the streets of downtown Pontiac sad and drunk on evaporated love, as the police handcuff us ?
Yes, to be fair, some of this is sad bastard music, but Hertler's artistry shines through on every song and he even manages to take some of the 'woe is me lyrics' to a heavier, more reflective place. The Hard Times LP is an excellent break up record, in the same vein as Beck's landmark 'Sea Change' album. It stays with you days after you listen to it, like a cold you can't seem to shake.
  Joe Hertler has a undeniable gift, not just for singing, but for also for songwriting and production. We at the DRB strongly recommend you give his music a listen.  You won't be disappointed.

  Let's start off with everything that we should immediately know about you?

  I'm 21 years old. I like computers, fly-fishing, Magic the Gathering, microphones, DJing, dancing, audio production, snowboarding, and writing. I drink Rolling Rock when I have money and Red Dog when I'm broke. Other than that, I'm in the school of Elementary Education at CMU. I've always wanted to be a teacher, but with music going as well as it has lately, I'd much rather be singing songs for people!

  What genre of music do you consider your work to be?

  I'd say it's soul music with folk influences.

  Musical Influences?

  Cursive, David Bazan, Sufjan Stevens, and St. Vincent to name a few, but listening to other local musicians/friends (Jeff Pianki, Frontier Ruckus, Chris Bathgate, The Silent Years, Prussia, Loune, Daniel Zott) always gets my creative juices flowin!

  What was the inspiration behind recording 'My Own Home' from The Jungle Book film ?

  My friend Caleb (Happiest Lion) approached me with the intentions of doing an all Disney compilation album from various artists around the country, including JT Royster, Jeff Pianki, and Kiersten Holine. I really didn't want to do it at first simply due to time, but once I stopped procrastinating and finally hit the studio, the end result was something I was quite happy with. I wanted to make the original song sound thick and dirty with harmonies all over the place. I think there's like 14 guitar tracks alone in that song with 7 vocal tracks.

  Who writes your songs and what are the main themes ? Do you believe these topics will change over time?

  I write all of my songs. A stupid break up went into a lot of the first album, but my new stuff has found a heavy focus on human nature and my own battles with religion and faith; substance dualism vs materialism for the philosophy people out there... Anyways, I think it's the most honest stuff I've written in a long time. I'm saving most of those songs for my next full length. I'm just playing them live now. The themes will always change. You grow and learn with every song.

  Are you affiliated with any record labels?

  I'm currently recording a few songs with CMU-based label Moore Media Records. I'm planning on doing a release through Lansing's Lower Peninsula records in the future. I also proudly belong to an artist collective, called Bigger Brush Media. Other than that, I'm a free musician in search for the right label.

  What can you tell me about the instruments you prefer?

  On stage, I bring a reed accordian, my Taylor 314ce, a banjo, and a shitload of harmonicas. Other than that, I play bass, cello, and piano decently well. I wanted to be a stand up bass performance major, but I wasn't good enough to get into the school of music at CMU. That's why I went the education route.

  Where have you performed? Do you have any upcoming shows?

  I've performed all over Michigan at some of my favorite venues. Personally, I love the Pike Room in Pontiac and Mac's Bar in Lansing. Still, my favorite shows are the unplugged house shows, where you're right in front of the crowd. It's intimate and I can really dive down into myself while playing, you know, totally lose it.

  Where have you performed most frequently?

  Mount Pleasant and Lansing have become my musical homes lately, especially Mac's bar. I'd love to start playing more in K-zoo and Detroit.

  What's your experience with been like ?

  It's been great! I started my account while it was in Beta and it's been cool shooting emails back and forth with the developers. They're all really cool guys and they've built an incredible platform for music distribution. It's allowed my music to easily be downloaded to thousands and thousands of people's computers. I'd recommend it to anyone!

  What do Detroit, Michigan, and Mt.Pleasant mean to you as a musician?

  I lived in the Orion/Pontiac area my entire life until enrolling at CMU. My parents both peaced out to other states when I left, so Mount "Pleezy" is my permanent home. However D-metro holds a soft spot in my heart. It's my home and always will be. I look forward to every event I get to play in the area. A few weeks ago I played a concert in benefit of Belle Isle... it's just great going back to the city. I love the geography of Detroit; there's just so much beauty to be seen there. I want Michigan artists to be proud of where they're from. There are a lot of young, creative people moving to Detroit; they're proud of their city and want to see it bloom. So much amazing art and culture has arisen in the area and I just really hope people keep pushing to see Detroit grow. And that goes for the rest of Michigan, too. I love this place... you gotta rep your hood, ya know?

  Where will you be with your career in five years ?

  I try not to look too far into the future. One show at a time. I try to focus my energy on writing songs that mean something to me and playing them as fucking hard as I can. Also, I'm always looking for ways to improve my live set, for the sake of entertainment. Regardless, I'm having an absolute blast playing music right now. It's an awesome adventure that's just now starting and I couldn't be any more thankful. As long as I'm having fun and being honest with myself as an artist, then I can care less what happens.

Joe Hertler Upcoming Performances:
Oct 13th at Mac's Bar – Lansing, MI /w Chris Bathgate, Jeff Pianki, and Carter Moulton
September 13th at Rubble's Bar - Mount Pleasant, MI w Matt Jones and Tim Monger
He post all of his shows on Facebook. Check it out at:

for DRB

Monday, September 27, 2010


  Note: Here at the DRB, we value the time and effort musicians place in crafting their art. When we review an album, rest assured, it was played in our vehicles, homes, offices, and on the road. Music needs time to grow in your soul, so we give songs plenty of listens to allow the musicianship and lyrics to sink in. If we write a review, the album means something to us, and we take the time to create an articulate and careful summary of the finished product. Thanks for reading! -ed.

"Now that I'm grown, I don't fear the unknown ."
-Young Man

  Yes, the Grammy-winning artists who brought you 'Cult of Personality' two decades ago (Yikes! That was 1988!!) dropped this sadly overlooked album for Megaforce records in September of last year. If you're wondering, with a reputation for funking up hard rock, if Living Colour is 'heavy' enough for a label boasting the likes of Anthrax and Bad Brains, well, you're not alone. And, it's likely this perception motivated Corey Glover and company to tune down the politics, and turn up the volume an extra notch on standout tracks like 'Burning Bridges' and 'Out of My Mind'. They haven't completely abandoned funk as evidenced on the groove in the stellar 'Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer)' a track originally recorded by Little Annie Bandez back in 1992.
  This release definitely slipped through the cracks. Another casualty of a recording industry attempting to adapt in the days of digital download, while fine-tuning their marketing to properly showcase unique bands. That being said, while still a powerful album, 'The Chair In The Doorway' does suffer from a common flaw: Melody. One of the biggest arguments we have at DRB is concerning the relevence of melody. No, not your ex-girlfriend from college, but what Webster's dictionary defines as 'a sweet or agreeable succession or arrangement of sounds'. Song melody, normally one of Living Colour's strongest creative attributes within their music, appears infrequently here. But, don't let that minor qualm dissuade you. Though there's no obvious singles ('Behind The Sun' probably coming in the closest) there is creative, explosive rock here, worthy of repeated listens. And, it's obvious Living Colour are attempting to tread the timeless, narrow ground of pleasing a new generation of fans, while not alienating the die hards waiting with baited breath for Funny Vibe, part II. 'Hard Times' emraces the angry young man feel of earlier LC albums, with it's Glover growling the piercing, structured lyrics. But when Reid announces his presence with a hellish solo, he elevates the track to a more modern, raw performace. 'That's What You Taught Me' significantly bridges the gap between the 'Elvis is Dead' era and the Living Colour of 2010. But, again, this is the meaner, leaner, version, and they aren't concerned with radio. While Burning Bridges has a strong chorus, driving drum and bass line, I found 'Method' to be a personal favorite, dark and ominous with guitarist Vernon Reid slinking in at just the right moment for the supernova solo. Overall, Glover's voice has never sounded better, actually improving with age. Bassist Doug Wimbish and percussionist Will Calhoun are given ample space to display their acclaimed skills throughout the album, but it's the track 'Decadance' that truly allows these musicians to shine. Virtuoso Reid is his reliable, professional self on each track, though, surpisingly for me, a bit subdued on some.
  This is a grittier, more worldly, more experienced Living Colour whose lyrics have taken a step back from politically and socially motivated anthems of the Ed Stasium/Mick Jagger production era. But, they're also taking more chances here, adding weight to the sound, and the end result is a diverse, less rock, more metal album, that retains some touches of electric funk.
  Do yourself a favor and check this one out, if you haven't before. If you already own it and relegated it to the 'once in a while' section of the CD rack, give it another spin. Move it to the heavy rotation on your Itunes, whatever, just give it another listen.
This one's quality.


for DRB

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


  Without question, author Joel McIver is the premier Heavy Metal biographer of our time, and quite possibly the greatest music writer of this or any century. This University of Edinbugh alumnus has completed entertaining and informative books on Lemmy Kilmenster of Motorhead, Slipknot, the immortal Ice Cube, and those four guys who released 'St.Anger'', just to name a few. His writing has appeared in Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, and some rag called Rolling Stone. In 2008 he completed work on the first biography of Slayer. In January of 2009, he published 'The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists', which questionably named Megadeth's Dave Mustaine as number 1, instead of virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen who, as far as the DRB is concerned, rightfully deserved that prestigious numero uno ranking. Regardless of our personal opinions, the DRB was grateful and excited for the opportunity to talk with the visionary who created 'The Extreme Metal Handbook'.

  What started you down the path of the damned, authoring books on metal acts such as Metallica and Slayer?

 It’s a familiar story, I’m sure. I was a teenage geek without much going on in my life except science fiction and thrash metal, so when the opportunity came a decade later to become a music journalist and then an author, the obvious thing was to write books about metal. As it happened, when I started work on Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica in 2003, there was no existing biography of the band other than KJ Doughton’s excellent Unbound, so my book filled a niche, sold in large numbers and became a bestseller in some countries. Books on Sabbath and Slayer followed. I’m now working on my 17th and 18th books. I’ll get some sleep someday, perhaps.

  Which of your books has been the most satisfying to complete and why?  

  They’re all fun to do. I’ve done a few shit jobs in my time, which helps me appreciate that writing books is a laugh in comparison. The first one that I really felt happy with was an Ice Cube biog in 2002, because I worked really hard to get it right and I think it mostly paid off. Then the Metallica book was fun to do, of course. I also wrote a biography of the late Cliff Burton last year, which was tricky to get right because I wanted to portray him as he really was, rather than as a saint, and also get into the details of his bass technique without sending non-bass players to sleep. Again, I think it worked out. The fact that Kirk Hammett wrote the foreword was a huge endorsement for me. 

  In the same vein which book was the most challenging to complete and why?

  I wrote a fairly hefty Black Sabbath book in 2005 which almost killed me. I left it a bit too late and ended up writing the entire 175,000 words in about three months. That was just down to my poor time management. I won’t be doing that again.  

   Of the thousands of artists you have dealt with, who was the most and least forthcoming?
  Most of them are great. The first time I interviewed Lemmy, we hung out afterward and he played me a demo of his then-new album, just for a laugh. Dave Mustaine is always a really entertaining interviewee. There’s hundreds of good ones, actually. The only really difficult interviewee I’ve had is Jon Bon Jovi, who really didn’t want to be there and obviously thought my questions were lame. They probably were, too. It’s difficult to dream up an interesting angle with a guy like that.

  What are the challenges for a British writer in documenting the lives of American rock stars?  

  Not as many or as significant as you might think, in the internet era. Obviously there are plenty of cultural references that we don’t share (eg to “smoke a fag” means different things on either side of the pond) but those are decreasing as we become more and more Americanized. 

  Is there a 'dream band' who you would love to write about but haven’t had the opportunity?

  Not a band as such but I’d love to work with Prince on his autobiography if he ever does one, just for the experience. I’m moving towards co-writing musicians’ books rather than writing third-person biographies these days, it’s more interesting. I’ve just finished working with Glenn Hughes (Sabbath, Purple) on his book, and the next one will be the autobiography of a member of a well-known metal band.  

  What albums and artists are you listening to these days?

  More old stuff than new stuff, which is a consequence of being nearly 40. I’m wading through the works of Opeth, Tool, Mastodon, JS Bach, Miles Davis and Tom Waits at the moment. There are some great new metal bands coming out – Trigger The Bloodshed, The Wretched End and Musica Diablo come to mind – but basically the metal scene is over saturated with new material, which makes it hard to find the good stuff among the Pantera copyists.  

  What brings you to tears?

  I stubbed my toe on the wardrobe the other day. But if you mean tears of rage and frustration, that doesn’t happen often these days. I had a job once where some of the people were so unbelievably incompetent at their jobs that it used to make me want to gnaw my fingers off in irritation, but those days are long gone. Also, I have small children. When you have kids you really don’t give a damn about a lot of things that once bothered you, because there are more important things to worry about.   

  If you could change one thing about England it would be?

  Nothing major, it’s great here. People who complain about living in the developed world don’t know how fortunate they are.

with St.Aubin
for DRB


Warrior Soul:
"Last Decade, Dead Century"
"Drugs, God & The New Republic"

  While writing my last "Hair Metal Classic" column for the Detroit Rock Blog, it occurred to me that there are many albums that despite their quality, just could never be considered a "classic". There are several reasons for this. Perhaps, they were ahead of their time with a unique sound. Maybe the record label lacked the funds to provide all important MTV exposure. Even today, people simply judge a band on it's image and ignore them. Whatever the reason, There's something exhilarating about finding an album that nobody knows about and building it's reputation...among friends at least. It becomes YOUR album. Well, my friends, I hope to do the same for you. Enjoy the first installment of "Rescued Gems".
  When did the innocence die?
  When did music evolve from good times, infectious grooves and soaring choruses to something that could *gasp* make you think? The moment for me was 1991. That was the summer my friend Jeremy Horning and I discovered progressive rockers Queensryche. We heard the self titled track from their breakthrough album, "Empire" and instantly loved it. There's a music breakdown in the song where singer Geoff Tate relays important facts about the United States such as how much more is spent on space exploration than gun control and law enforcement. This was something completely new to Fifteen year old me. This wasn't about strip clubs, motorcycles, or getting your heart broken. This was music about current events that happened to have killer melody. Songs such as Best I Can, Jet City Woman, and, of course, Silent Lucidity sealed the deal as far as our fandom was concerned.
  Because of this, Myself, Jeremy & new friend Dave Harrison decided to venture out one chilly November evening to see Queensryche perform at the Palace of Auburn Hills on their Building Empires tour. This was a big deal because "Silent Lucidity" had just blown up on MTV and afforded the band their first chance to headline. It also provided a chance for Queensryche to perform their underground classic "Operation: Mindcrime" in it's entirety. To say we were stoked is an understatement. We arrived at the Palace, heads abuzz with excitement.
  But first, the opening band.
  Opening bands are a mixed bag.
Sometimes you catch a group growing in initial popularity and the experience is made all the more exciting for fans. A good example is Guns N Roses opening up for Aerosmith on their 1987 North American tour. Who knew when they purchased tickets that Aerosmith fans were also getting the hottest act on the planet.
It can also be a detriment if the band is a relative unknown, has a different style than the headliner, or worse case, they're simply not that talented. I can recall 1999 when I saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Californication' tour at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids with an opening band being so terrible, bassist Flea came out to chastise us for being so mean. So we had no idea what to expect when complete unknowns Warrior Soul took the stage that evening.
  They opened with the intro and title track from then current album "Drugs, God & The New Republic". I remember the interesting sound and being completely intrigued as the lead singer encouraged the crowd to chant with him "We Are The Government! We Are The Government! We Are The Government!" Further songs really spoke to what kind of band this was. "The Losers" brought up thoughts of alienation. Set Closer, "The Wasteland" had a profound impact on me with the line "The  Goddamn President can go to hell". Who were these guys? Why were they so pissed off? What did President Bush ever do to them? Queensryche  followed with one of the most phenomenal concert experiences of my life and still...I just couldn't shake the opening band who I had never heard of but really enjoyed.
  I went out the next day and purchased "Drugs, God & the New Republic" as well as their debut album "Last Decade Dead Century". I just wasn't prepared for what I heard. These albums not only bridged the gateway between Hair Metal and Heavy Metal, they opened the door for me to harder edge bands like Metallica & Megadeth. Warrior Soul really would have been more at home in the late 90's and early 00's where political bands such as Rage Against The Machine flourished. However, I don't want to give the impression that the music isn't well crafted. The songs rock just as hard as anything from 'Master Of Puppets'. The bands philosophy seems to be: Growing up we're led to believe the world is our oyster, that anything is possible. Warrior Soul's music asks the question, "What if it's not?". They're sort of like the Fight Club of the music world.
  If you enjoy hard-edged metal in the style of Metallica & Megadeth, with the lyrics made commonplace by the grunge movement, Warrior Soul is for you. Standout tracks for a mix CD or (sigh) your iPod are:

"I See The Ruins"
"We Cry Out"
"The Losers"
"Trippin' On Ecstasy"
"Drugs, God And The New Republic"
"The Wasteland"
"Punk And Belligerent"
"Ghetto Nation"

-Marc Walentowicz
for DRB 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


  There's been more than enough articles about Showtime Clothing. Yes, fine, it's a sexy store that sells the kind of lifestyle we ALL wish we led. We've all contemplated dying our hair jet red, donning a Seduce t-shirt, some leather pants, and working behind the counter there, while gigging around the city with our power trio. You remember the day curiosity got the best of you. You stopped in to check out the store where rock and rollers shop if they need a bandleader jacket, studded belts, or Guns-n-Roses t-shirts. We've all read with deep curiosity, while nodding our heads in meaningful agreement, the politically motivating 'call to action' ads in the Metro Times.
  But what about the man behind Showtime?
  From the first conversation, you learn “Showtime” Dan Tatarian loves the city of Detroit. People may mistake a somewhat direct outward demeanor, for gruff cynicism. But, this man loves his customers, he loves music, and he even loves being an independent business owner in our troubled city. He's like most people in the sense that you don't want to bullshit him. He's a throwback, a determined rock and roll John Wayne, who utilizes his life experience and strong principles to make a difference at the street level where it counts. There's a defined conviction and heartfelt sincerity in his voice as you sit and listen to him discuss government, history, or politics. Here's a guy with the balls to open, and stay open in downtown Detroit, to pay the city taxes, to sell S&M paddles right next to R2D2 belt buckles.  He didn't know what to think when I walked into Showtime Clothing at 5708 Woodward Avenue. We traded words initially on local politics, on my knowledge of seat belt laws, and on whether or not I was trying to further my 'blog agenda' (whatever the hell that is) by getting an interview with the owner of the coolest store in Metro Detroit.  And I tell you this: You're a better person after talking with Dan. He reaches inside, and if you've got a shred of conscience or concern about Detroit, about our country, about yourself, he'll have you questioning how we live our lives:
  How often do we say we love a store, a person, a cause ? But do we really support them? Do our actions match up with our rhetoric ? Does how we spend our dollar match up ?
Deeds not words, right?
  In the end, Showtime Dan agreed to sit down with the DRB and share some of his life experiences, political convictions, and specific views on the world, community, and family.

  You could run a store like this anywhere in the state and be successful. Why Detroit?

  I like this neighborhood.

  What drew you to this particular business?

  First thing that came up. I was working in a shipyard, but I quit my job and took the summer off. I was walking through the Cass Corridor and this guy was working on the side and asks me 'Hey man do you want to open a vintage clothing store?' I said 'What?' He said 'Yeah the lady inside is closing. Come on in and talk to her'. I said 'Whatever' but I went inside and talked to her. She had all these clothes and I asked her how much she wanted for everything. She said '500 bucks and I got a lot more clothes at home, you can come get them all'. She had one rack and clothes and I bought it all. And, I had about $500 in my pocket. Altogether, that was my savings, plus $250 which I put towards my apartment rent at the time. So, then I went and got a job working for a catering company for five dollars an hour, for 5 hrs in the mornings, cash. I made twenty-five dollars a day working catering, then I was at my store making eight to fifteen dollars an hour. The rent on the store was $60 a month, and I was there for six months. I went from there to the flea market at Ten and Woodward, was there for six months, then it got torn down. Then I moved into my apartment down on campus and I opened on Forest and Second in the basement and was there for five years. And, that's where I really started learning the business.

  You described this store, this business, as a 'family'. What does family mean to you?

  People who come into Showtime care. They don't want to be  corporate shoppers. They don't want to run around and be one of the minions following what were told to do. They want to live an alternative lifestyle. An alternative lifestyle is shopping independent produce stores, independent bakeries, and butchers. Keeping everything in your neighborhood, so you keep everything going. A lot of people want things to come back home. So, I'd say a big part of my customer base comes in here because, and maybe I'm fooling myself but I'd like to believe this, a lot of people shop as independent as they can. I respect that. Other people come in, they don't care, they don't even get it. The conversation goes like this:
  'Hey, I'm in a band, I want you to put me in your ad!'
  'But, you don't shop here?'
  'No we shop at Hot Topic'
  'So go to hot topic and tell em to put you in their ad'
  'They're not gonna do that'
  'That's right because they don't care about you.
  I take care of the people who take care of me. We've become a family. I promote the bands that come in here and my job is to get them to the top if I can, any exposure, any way possible, any door open, that's my job.

  How did it feel sitting in on drums with The Orbitsuns last Wednesday at the Four Green Fields Pub in Royal Oak?

  You know, it was pretty cool. I mean, it was my first time and Vinnie (Dombrowski) and Jimmy (Paluzzi) are a trip man. Vinnie can make anybody laugh about anything. And, he got me up there laughing so that was a lot of fun. I'm sure he got a big kick out of it and the crowd did to.

  You've been very outspoken in the advertising you've put in the Metro Times.

  Part of it is believing in yourself. A lot of people don't want to believe in themselves. They want to believe that somebody else is going to take care of their problems. The guys at the top want you to believe they're going to take care of your problems while they fuck you good. The reality is every dollar you spend is your power. And if you don't realize what your power is, then how can you use it to change things politically ? You're misguided in life! You need to take that money, stop shopping in the corporate world, and put it back into independent stores, back into the community.

  What does it mean to live a lifestyle versus talking a lifestyle ?

  We're sold a package in this country. They have us buying into an idea, that's a lie. The reality is, if you really care, you'll pay a little more, and keep those independent stores open instead of the chains. If you stop going to chains, all the power will come back to us. All those businesses will represent you, and then the legislators will start to listen to the small businesses instead of the corporations. Because they'll have the power again, we'll have our communities again. You'll have people you know, instead of somebody who doesn't want to help you because they can't help you. Because there's liability involved.
I remember being at a car accident out on 13 and Stevenson, where this guy's head was on the ground, bleeding everywhere. I ran across the street to an emergency center and asked them to get a crash cart and come help this guy. You know what they said ? 'We can't go out there and help him' Now, if it was an independent place, they would've come right out. But, because it was corporate owned, the staff couldn't leave the building to help because of the liability involved. We're paying people in this country to stop caring and I don't want that.

  You've had the opportunity to work with a number of Detroit bands and influence those bands. In return, which musicians have had the largest influence on you?

  I have to say number one, is Vinnie Dombrowski from Sponge, CRUD, and The Orbitsuns. I've never seen somebody help so many people in my life, and be out there working with people. I meet a lot of musicians and a lot of them are great guys. Well, most of them. But Vinnie he keeps giving and giving and helping people. And you know what, it inspires me.

  Does working in Detroit make you cynical?

  If I've learned one thing, call an asshole an asshole. If someone has an issue, they've got to deal with it the rest of their life. You only have to deal with it for fifteen minutes. I enjoy people.
People come in my store and I'll invite them over to my house that night for dinner. My friends say 'Dan, what the fuck is wrong with you?' I say 'Whats wrong with you? Where's the heart and soul?' I just had three people over at my house for a BBQ that I didn't know, but they were all in town. That's part of living experiencing different people, different personalities. And what are they gonna do ? Kill me? They can only fucking kill me once!

  Has there been a highlight for you owning this store and doing what you do?

  Many. I meet people that most people don't get a chance to meet and I'm not talking famous people. Just people walking in that open your eyes on different levels. We'll just start having this conversation and all of a sudden it will evolve into this thing that no one would expect to talk about in any aspect of their life. This guy comes in one day and just started playing guitar. He told me 'Man I love this guitar' so I told him 'Man I love the way you're playing that guitar. Are you in a band around here?'. He tells me 'I'm the guitar player for Social Distortion and I was like 'WOW dude that was beyond anything I ever heard'. Howard Armstrong from Louie Bluie, I met him, a very spiritual, very classy person. I got a chance to watch him play at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. He played the violin and took it beyond anything I've ever seen. To be honest with you, when he died, that was a sad day because the talent and the energy of this band and the vitality was beyond anybody eighteen years old that I ever met in my life.

  What can be done to save Detroit?

  That's too convoluted. Save Detroit? The developers are here. They're already robbing the city. They're gonna turn around and make it look like it's happening, bringing the young in to bring it back. It's another scam. Yeah, it's gonna look like its coming back and its going to be a better place to live for awhile downtown. But, all the people on the borders lost the value in their properties and they're (developers) pushing all the crime into those neighborhoods. It's a long story it's not just three sentences to fix Detroit.

  Where would you start?

  If you really wanted to start, you'd have to get rid of the mayor and get a real mayor in here. You'd have to get a grassroots election going and you'd have to circumvent these developers. But the developers are all connected. Good luck to any mayor that gets into that office that really wants to help the people. Because it's not going to happen.

for DRB

Sunday, September 19, 2010


 Night of the Living Hipsters, or it's official title, the Saturday edition of Ferndale's DIY Streetfest, featured one of the tightest live shows this blog has seen in years. We were in the crowd for the 'Millions of Brazilians' performance and though several entertaining, and sometimes curious, acts played throughout the day, no band came within ten miles of the raw live energy exhibited by this extremely talented group of musicians. We don't throw the word electrifying around the DRB office often, but there is no disputing this group is a musical powerhouse. After the set, DRB spoke with Nicky Ciccheti, Chris “Zozzy” Gruse, and Augie Visocchi to discuss the band, expectations, and what Detroit means to them.

 Nicky Ciccheti: guitars, vocals.

  What does the recognition the band is receiving in the Detroit media mean to you ?

 It's fantastic. I think it has a lot to do with a bit of a love thing. I think there are a lot of bands that are a lot better than us that maybe should garner more (attention). But I am just going to go with it, you know. Were just trying to write the best songs we can and put on the best shows we can.

  What do you see as the long term potential for Millions of Brazilians ?

  I feel like I'm going to repeat a lot of 'Red Wing 'Quotes' here. (In his best Canadian accent) 'Oh you have to give 110%' and 'The Sky's the limit' I really think if we stick together and keep writing songs that we can do great things and hopefully do something positive for the city.

  Describe the energy the first time this group of guys got together to write songs and play music together.

  The very first time it was actually Derek (Dorey) and I, who's no longer in the band. Derek and I just had an idea, instead of creating a band based around songs or style, we tried creating a band around a sound. After a couple of years, we've refined that to where were comfortable with it. And, obviously it made enough of an impact from when we first got together for us to stick with it. I'm just glad it worked out.

  What does Detroit mean to you as an artist?

  Oh, man, that's a heavy question. Detroit is . . if good art, honest art, is going to come out of anywhere, where else would it be? After a town that has suffered so much? I've lived down there for only a few years now, but it doesn't take long, just takes a drive through it, to feel the pain and suffering people have went through there. And, if you cant take something away from that you don't have a heart.

  Chris 'Zozzy' Gruse: Drummer

  What does it mean to you to be playing in Ferndale tonight?

  Right now, I feel like we had a lot to prove. We've been trying to cut back on our shows in this area, not trying to overdo it, just playing the bigger shows. We wanted to prove tonight, that were still here and about to record this new album. This show meant everything to us to (say) 'this is the past', 'THIS is what we've been working on'. We only played one old song, everything else is brand new. We felt like we had a lot to prove to friends and fans that we haven't been slagging off, we've been hard at work.

  Is it difficult playing with an artist who is already an established name in the Detroit rock community ?

  Not at all. We've played with Augie, we played the release show, out of town shows. We've always been friends with them, they helped bring us up. Were still a relatively newer band. Augie's very proficient, he has a great ear, and he's a great musician. Working him in was like he'd always been in the band. It was easy. If anything it's only benefited us and will continue to benefit us.

  What is the element this group possesses that set you apart from other bands current in the Detroit music scene?

  I don't think anyone puts on a better live show than us. And, it's not just the live shows. The musicians in this band are all great players. So, it's the live show and the musicianship within the band. There's so many bands that we love like 'Zoos of Berlin' ( who are so fantastic. I look up those guys, but were comfortable playing with anybody and we'll be bringing it every single time we play, regardless of the situation. Every night we want to play the best show we possibly can and most nights we accomplish that.

  What does Detroit mean to you as an artist?

  There's so many great bands here, it's kind of troubling that they aren't getting the recognition they should, like Lightning Love, Zoos of Berlin, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas. I think were at the precipice, where we're about to just kick the door down. Big things are about to happen. We've released one EP and were about to go in and do a full LP. We're gonna discuss hitting the road again with some bigger bands. We did a thirty six day tour with the Electric 6 and we've just been working on these new songs. I think there's a few bands here,  ready to blow shit up.

  What's your dream cover song to play with Millions of Brazilians?

  ELO's 'Telephone Line'

   Augie Visocchi: Guitars, vocals

  You've already built an established, successful band in Detroit. What's it like to also play with Millions of Brazilians?

  Its a blast. I've always played in bands, but for the last five years, The Hard Lessons have been on the road nonstop so it was impossible. I'd been playing guitar in Mood Elevator, but that's been few and far between. After the last record with The Hard Lessons, we came off the road for a little bit, still gigging a ton, but not being gone from home for two months at a time. I've been friends with the 'Millions' dudes and they opened a bunch of shows for The Hard Lessons. They had this opportunity to come up to play, I love their band, and it was a good fit. So I started playing with them about six months ago, and it's been awesome. We're really starting to gel, we're writing songs together, the shows keep getting better. I like being able to bring whatever I have from the Hard Lessons, and smash it into a band I already really dig.  And, hopefully bring over some of our fans as well. It's cool and it's a good fit.

  How is the creative process different with this group than with The Hard Lessons ?

  With the Hard Lessons, I wrote our first record in our dorm room. And, that was just the record. Later on I've been collaborating with Korin, my wife, who's in The Hard Lessons. But, for the most part it's not really a collaborative thing, it's sort of like, my wife will come up with an idea or I'll come up with an idea and we'll just kind of run with it. With 'Millions' we're sitting in a rehearsal space and we're kind of hashing it out. It's been great. The song we played tonight, Comet Catastrophe, Nick brought in three quarters of the way done. Zozzy and I just smashed out this bridge that I think Nick felt it needed but couldn't quite get to. That's a band right there, that's how it should work. We compliment each other. We fill in whatever voids that we have, whether it's in the moment or whether it's longer term.

  Who came up with the name?

  How do you come up with any band name? There's a lot of bands. Especially in the Internet age, there's fuckin' ten bands that just got started in Michigan, in Ferndale, since we started this conversation.

  Describe the feeling when you first received press as a musician?

  Oh dude, I was a kid. I was barely old enough to drink, going to college. Any time my band was even mentioned in the paper, I would flip out. And you don't want to lose that feeling, but eventually it just . . . I would cut out one word about my band when we first started, and now were not even saving full page (articles). Its like 'what's the point?' Once you get a room full of newspaper and magazine clippings, what are you going to do with them? Yeah, it was fun at the time, and you can't forget that initial feeling you had when you're playing in band, that excitement. Once you lose that, it becomes a job and what's the point? At the same time, it's not what's important, to have people say nice things about you in press. I mean you should do it! (Laughter)

  What does Detroit mean to you as an musician ?

  Freedom. Total abandon. You can do whatever you want. I guess abandon in more than one sense. It is abandoned in a lot of places. But, I mean 'reckless abandon'. Just kind of lose your mind and there's gonna be a group of people to support you, no matter what you do, and that's cool. Freedom. I want complete freedom in whatever I do. If I wanted somebody to tell me what to do, I can work at a gas station. You start a band to follow what you feel is rock and roll, what you feel is what you want do. And that's what this band is about.

  What do the next two years have in store for Millions of Brazilians?

  Lollapalooza? Reading? I never know. I been in this business of music long enough to know there's no sure bets. Were gonna keep writing great songs we feel really strongly about and keep putting on tighter and better live shows. Our fans can decide what they're gonna do with it. Like I said about the press we don't set out a five year plan. Who wants to hear someone say 'Were gonna be fucking selling out the palace!!'? Were happy being the underdog.

for DRB