DEBUT EP BETTER “BELATED.” THAN NEVER

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WORDS BY JOE FITZPATRICK AND TIM FOGG

PHOTOS BY JESSICA BRYCE AND BILLY SOURS

How do you take your emo pop? BELATED. prefers it “acoustic driven.”

In the driver’s seat is Jordon Ronan, the former vocalist of SHARP SLEEVES, a Blacksburg-based pop punk band previously known as HERO TO HUMAN.  In February 2016, in between college classes and writing music, Ronan drafted Tim Fogg from the Richmond punk band A COLLEGIATE AFFAIR to play lead guitar.

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MAKESHIFT SHELTERS DISCUSS THE PERSONAL NATURE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, AS WELL AS THEIR PLANS TO RELOCATE TO NEW ENGLAND

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY NOORAN MATTIES, ALLY NEWBOLD, AND MIMI HONG

If you haven’t heard of MAKESHIFT SHELTERS, you may in fact be living under a rock. The emotionally-driven four-piece, which is based in both Washington, D.C. and New England, recently released their highly-anticipated debut album Something So Personal on Broken World Media. The full-length, 11-song record is “overflowing” with the emotion of each band member as vocalist Ella Boissonnault sings about her past experiences of disappointment and sorrow.

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TAKING INSPIRATION FROM MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA, GAINESVILLE’S CASTLE OF GENRE DISCUSS THEIR INDIE ROCK SOUND, AS WELL AS THEIR PLAN TO RELEASE A NEW ALBUM AND MOVE TO RICHMOND

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INTERVIEWED BY LAURA BITTNER

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY BRANDON IQBAL

CASTLE OF GENRE is a four piece band from Gainesville, Va. Its members are Joey Fall, Brandon Iqbal, Patrick Stolte, and Anthony Crawford. The self-proclaimed indie rock band from Northern Virginia creates their sound from inspiration from music which involves elements of storytelling, along with ample guitar variances. The band is split between two cities, but after years of working at it, they have practice and show schedules down pat. The band is set to release a new work in the near future, which will be preceded by a two-song pre-release on Bandcamp. During this interview, we spoke with Iqbal and Fall, their love for Richmond, Va., their local influences, and how they make things work with their busy schedules.

What school do you guys go to?

Joey: We go to George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. It’s a good campus. It’s a little bit like Hogwarts. The band is split between Richmond and Fairfax because our drummer lives in Richmond.

Is it hard to coordinate practices, etc. with band members being in different cities?

Brandon: Yeah, it was at first, but it’s been about a year and a half so now we’ve got the hang of it. We’ve been able to plan out rides for shows. One can come up and one can come down, so it’s pretty easy now.

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What do you guys like about Richmond?

Brandon: I think everyone’s gonna migrate down to Richmond this summer, so we’re all gonna be in Richmond eventually. … It’s like a really cool, kinda artsy city. There are a lot of bands, and places to play. It’s just better for bands like us to kinda get going there than it is up here [in Northern Virginia], which is kind of like a suburban/metropolitan area.

You said in your email that you’ve been really busy lately; did you recently tour? If not, what have you been up to?

Joey: We were off of school for winter break, so we had a mini kind of tour. We played a lot of house shows, and then we played in Richmond. We played Raleigh, North Carolina, and then went to Wilmington, N.C. We then ended [the tour] back in Richmond. So yeah, it’s kinda been nonstop for us. Also, we’re recording an album right now, so finding time to track guitars has been…[well], we’ve been using all the spare time we’ve got for that.

Who would you say you derive a lot of inspiration from?

Brandon: Oh man. I really love FALL OUT BOY. I love MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA and KEVIN DEVINE and that whole kind of storyteller rock thing going on. Joey pulls a lot from that kind of stuff — the very lyrical, storyteller rock kind of stuff — whereas I pull from a lot of weird stuff like TAME IMPALA or like THE CARMELLOS. I’m really into a lot of guitar-based stuff where you can use guitar in different ways to sound like synth, or something like that. I’m really into that. Or just like really loud, heavy guitars.

What are some of your favorite local bands you listen to?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CASTLE OF GENRE

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO CASTLE OF GENRE

Joey: I really like SATELLITES ON PARADE. Their band is really, really good — really solid. And the dudes from it are really nice. We originally started being good friends [with them]. They’re from [Northern Virginia] as well.

What made you guys decide to play music, or come together as a band?

Joey: I got really into bands when I was like 10, and I was like, “Hey, these guys are cool,” and I thought I could play music better than I could play sports. So I was like, “Yeah, let’s do music, that’ll be fun.” And then I started playing drums.

Brandon: The same for me, honestly. In like fifth grade, I bought a guitar, and I’ve been doing it and just watching bands, or like listening to a lot of different kinds of bands — BLINK-182, GREEN DAY, and stuff — and then eventually going to shows and being like, “Wow, that’s what I want to do.” And then realizing this is the only thing that I’m passionate about.

What would you say your band sounds like?

Brandon: We have a lot more distortion now, but it’s still “dancey” and catchy. [We had] a lot more clean tones [in the past], but this one is a little bit more gritty. I think there are a lot more yelling parts and more atmospheric stuff. I don’t wanna say it’s emo rock, because a lot of bands in this “emo revival thing” all kind of blend in, in a way, but I feel like we’re doing more straightforward rock. Stuff like MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA — real clean guitar, or like fancy parts or groovy parts. So really distorted guitars, but then there are cleaner parts that get kind of more jazzy and groovy.

cog 3If you could describe your ideal venue, what would it be like?

Joey: I really like house shows, and I really like when everyone’s like an inch away from you. Those kinda sets where you are an inch into the crowd. I guess for me, a venue where you’re just in there, and everyone’s around you, and you’re just like in a circle — like an arena. Pretty crazy, the whole kinda thing; everybody’s into it.

Brandon: So, like a circle pit, and you’re in the middle of it. … I definitely want space to be there, but I want there to be chandeliers. One chandelier above the band, and then a chandelier above the crowd. They’re not too high up. Basically it’s fancy, but they get really rough in there. Like really gritty and bloody/sweaty in there. And then there’s a dress code to the venue. I guess it’s like black tie optional, but you have to dress really nicely. So like more than semi-casual.  And then you can smoke cigarettes inside, because you can’t really do that anymore [anywhere]. I think there’s like one [venue you can smoke cigarettes inside that is] in the U.S.

Do you have any new music that you plan to release soon?

Joey: We’re gonna release two songs from the upcoming album onto Bandcamp for free around mid-February.

For more updates on CASTLE OF GENRE, please “like” their Facebook page, and visit their Bandcamp to listen to their latest single “Ghoul Noises.”

RAINTREE EMBODY VIRGINIA DIY WITH THE HELP OF FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS, AND ENCOURAGE GROWTH OF THE EMO SCENE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE

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INTERVIEW BY CHRIS SUAREZ

PHOTOS BY THE MODERN OWL PHOTOGRAPHY AND DESIGN

Earlier last month, I met with RAINTREE bassist Peter Sacco after a house show in Richmond. Driving down from the band’s hometown of Charlottesville, Sacco and I discussed the direction of the post-rock/indie/emo group in the months following their latest record, For A Little While, which was released last summer. The band has earned some recognition throughout the state. Some would say they’ve become one of the more mature and grown up representatives of Virginia’s growing emo scene — both in age and musical ability. Check out what Sacco has to say about their latest record and new material the band is currently working on.

What’s your name, and what do you do in RAINTREE?

My name is Peter Sacco. I mainly play bass, but in our newest stuff, I’m playing Tenor Sax and auxiliary instruments like bells and percussion, and I do some backing vocals.

Tell me about the history of your band. When did you guys get started?

Our lead guitarist [Drew Snell], singer/guitarist [Blake Layman] and his brother, our drummer, [Gavin Layman] all started out back in 2010. Shortly after, they added our current pianist Emmitt Spicer. That’s when they originally started working on the first release, When Men Were Made of Iron EP. I originally joined the band because they needed someone to fill in on bass for their first show, and I was a big fan because I had heard their stuff and was already friends with them, so they were like, “Why aren’t you already in the band?”

After that, we started working on our full-length right off the bat. It took us awhile because it was self-recorded, produced, mixed and mastered, which I did the majority of that work recording and engineering it. It ended up coming out sometime in 2014, but I couldn’t tell you when exactly, because we had it for so long. I also did the cover art for it too. It was really awesome because it was self-autonomous. We tried to do everything ourselves or have someone we knew help out on it. A friend of ours, Blake Melton, helped with engineering, and my brother [John Sacco] helped with the graphic design on the album. His wife, my sister-in-law [Emily Sacco] did the promo pictures and everything. It was really cool to have that sense of us doing it self-sufficiently.

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There seems to be such a sense of community and family with this band. There are brothers in the band, and you had much of your own family involved with the album’s production.

It’s interesting because the concept of the album is about people in Blake’s [guitarist/vocalist] life. Each song represents someone important in his life or a member of his family. There’s a sense of family amongst the band, and that’s heard on the album. I love it; I’m best friends with all of them. I’m always staying over at their house, and I feel like I’m part of their family as well. It’s great. It’s a lot more comfortable because there’s not too much passive communication amongst the band members. No one’s ever tip-toeing around matters; everyone’s real frank with each other. The Layman family is amazing, and their parents are so supportive.

What do you guys think of sometimes being labelled as an emo band? Do you guys see those influences people ascribe to you? Are there any bands within the genre you try emulating or are inspired by?

We definitely are rooted from bands like TAKING BACK SUNDAY and BRAND NEW. We all initially came together with that common ground. I remember I was in community college for a while, and that’s where I met Blake. One of the first things we started talking about was all early 2000’s emo bands that we love. There’s also the whole ‘Midwest Emo’ revival going on. We definitely pull from a lot of those bands like PRAWN, but for our newer stuff we’re taking influence from things like THE WINSTON JAZZ ROUTINE and GATES.

We take a lot of influence from things outside of the emo scene. We hate the term emo but like the idea. I think it’s often misconstrued, but I guess we’re more old school with that term.

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What have you guys been up to since releasing your record last June?

Recently, we went to a studio [White Star] near Fork Union, Va. We recorded a new EP that we’ll hopefully be releasing sometime in 2015. We’re waiting for it to be mixed and mastered, but we don’t know how long that will take. It’s going to be five songs. It’ll be a new sound; it’s going to be a lot more multi-dimensional with more instruments and sounds. It’s not going to sound as big as our last album; it’s going to be more subtle in its overall character. We’re trying to bring out more of our gentler, melodic sounds. We’re focusing a lot more on timbres than power.

We’re waiting to come up with the money and find someone more professional to mix and master it because we feel like we’re at that level now. I feel that I can only do so much with my experience as a sound engineer.

What are some of your other plans for 2015? Any possible tours, single releases, or anything of that nature?

I think we’re taking a little break. We’re all trying to finish school. Blake is currently living in D.C. and doing an internship there, so he’s going to be there for the remainder of the school year. Everything was really tense and stressful releasing the full length, so we’ve decided to take a short break to recharge our creative energy.

In the meantime, we’ll be promoting our stuff as much as we can and figuring out a way to put out this new album and have it polished. After that, I think we’re going to start playing in our local scene a lot more. We’ll definitely be playing a lot in Charlottesville. We hope to build our reputation there. We’re considering a full U.S. tour so that’s in our future, hopefully. We’re crossing our fingers.

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO RAINTREE’S LATEST RECORD

 

How was it working with a label for your last release? Any idea as to who you’d want to put out your next album?

We worked with Flesh and Bones Records; they’re only putting stuff out on cassette right now, but it’s cool. He’s a good friend of ours and is letting us try and release that record and the new one with anyone else we’d like as well. He’s helping us with distribution, and we’re helping him get the word out about his label. It’s a quid pro quo kind of thing.

Topshelf [Records] would be really cool, but I don’t know. If we could get anything, that’d be great, as long as it’s a label we believe in. I can’t think of anyone else we’d want to be with or any label we’d die to be on.

What’s the scene like in Charlottesville? Where are some of the cool spots putting on shows?

It’s a tricky place to be. There’s a lot of underground bands and good sense of solidarity amongst all the musicians there, especially in the underground because everyone’s friendly or already good friends. There’s a good support system on that end, but the scene is very fickle. Because it’s such a preppy college city with an older generation, there’s a desire for a specific sound, and it gets catered to mostly.

Twisted [Branch] Tea Bazaar is one spot we love and enjoy playing at. They’re really supportive of underground music and bands. There used to be a place called Random Row Books that was a cool place for DIY groups and was really good and had awesome integrity.

It’s tough. You can get good fans, but it can be hard to get people out, and there’s not a lot of places to play. We actually have hosted a lot of shows ourselves in the Layman’s basement. It’s one of those things where if we can’t find a place to play, we just set up shows ourselves. I don’t want to bash Charlottesville’s music scene because it is nice, but it could be a little more productive for underground bands.

Anything else you’d like to add or say?

I just heard the new S. Carey album, and it is mindblowingly good! [I’m] stoked about that. That’s probably something you might hear us drawing some influence from. I had to throw that in the interview.

For more updates on RAINTREE, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

MEMBERS OF HOLD TIGHT! SWITCH ROLES TO FORM TEEN DEATH AND WRITE “GET TO THE POINT DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO” PUNK SONGS FOR CRAWLING EP

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INTERVIEW BY ALEXIS PASCHAL

PHOTOS BY ALEXIS PASCHAL AND JAKE CUNNINGHAM

VIDEO BY CHRIS AVIS

Though little has been known about them until recently, TEEN DEATH have been making music and playing shows together for the past two years, and even longer as their pop punk band HOLD TIGHT!, which includes guitarist/vocalist James Goodson, who plays bass in HOLD TIGHT!, and drummer Eric Kelly, who plays guitar. They recruted their friend Zach Marson to round out the trio on bass. The band started as a joke based on a love for THE MISFITS and NIRVANA, but since things have slowed down for HOLD TIGHT! and they have signed to 6131 Records, the band has started to take their music more seriously, and are eager to get out on the road. We spoke with The band regarding their controversial namesake and their regrets due to unfortunate Google searches, touring and their fan base, as well as the dark sound they have created and honed for the release of Crawling.

Where did your band name come from?

James: When we first started out, we sounded a lot THE RIVERDALES, so we wanted a name that was a lot like that. We initially wanted something with the word “teenage” in it. We also have a lot of songs that involve death elements (laughs). And we thought, “What about Teenage Death or Dead Teen?” and then we ended up doing TEEN DEATH. After we started doing more stuff, a lot of people would be like, “Was that ever like a weird band name to have since it’s so dark?” (laughs) We didn’t even think of it like that. I feel like we talked about it on a more serious side — death of youth type stuff — and on a not-so-serious side — the grim reaper riding a skateboard, shooting off fireworks, and being a teenager (laughs). Just like… TEEN DEATH, it’s a cool name.

I searched you guys on Google to try to find more information and nothing came up; it was just a bunch of dead teenagers.

James: Sometimes, every once in a while depending on what in the news, it’s like “Ooh, I regret this name,” (laughs). Not a fun Google.

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How was touring up north? Where’s your favorite place to play?

James: It was cool. It was really short — just a weekend. We played New Jersey, Philly, and Alexandria and the last two shows were with SPRAYNARD and TIMESHARES. This band hasn’t really played a ton of places. The other stuff we’re doing — HOLD TIGHT! — has played a lot in the United States. I’ve always liked Philly. We’ve never had a bad show there, and everyone is so nice.

Do you guys think you have a big fan base? Does anyone recognize you when you play shows?

Zach: (laughs) No. We don’t really have any pictures out. People recognize James and Eric because they’re in HOLD TIGHT! — well more than anyone else.

Eric: HOLD TIGHT! was kind of the original thing with James and I. I play guitar in HOLD TIGHT!, and James plays bass. So we did this side thing, and we switched it up. None of us played our main instruments. I’m surprised this band stuck around (laughs). That’s kind of how we made our songs too because we are all just playing instruments that we aren’t good at. (laughs) So the songs are all very like, cut the fat, only the most simplified, get to the point do what you gotta do songs. I feel like it’s been a big learning experience. That was a big reason we didn’t really play a lot of shows when we started out because it was just like a fun whatever thing. But HOLD TIGHT! has been slowing down so we started doing this a lot more.

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What genre would you consider yourselves?

James: Punk-grunge, grunge-punk. I used to think bummer-punk, but then I saw some other bands using that recently. We sorta sound similar to them — it’s kind of the same 90’s poppy bummer-punk.

So would you say your biggest influences are punk bands?

Zach: Yeah. When we first started playing, before TEEN DEATH or anything, we mainly got together to play MISFITS covers (laughs). Pretty much old school punk bands like NIRVANA, WEEZER, and MISFITS. Just kind of trying to blend them. Especially NIRVANA because their songs were super simple and super in-your-face and dynamic. Definitely trying to have lots of different moods in one song, which we do not do. We’re pretty much just in your face the whole time (laughs).

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The new EP Crawling comes out September 16. Do you think it differs from the rest of your releases?

James: It differs from the first one we ever did. That was just straight up RIVERDALES, RAMONES, that kind of stuff, and it became more [like the] MISFITS. We were basically just trying to combine old school punk and heavy rock. We’ve been around for like two years, and we’ve probably played 30 shows. Before we even started being serious about it, we played like four or five shows. So just switching over to just a different kind of style wasn’t really like, “Ugh, that band used to sound like THE RAMONES, and now they sound totally different!” They’re just kinda like, “I’ve never heard of this band before!” Everything before we started being serious was self-recorded in a basement. Everyone who didn’t know us back then are really glad we’re doing stuff now. Nobody ever said, “Hey man, that was really cool,” after one of our old shows (laughs).

Is there a meaning of the name Crawling?

Zach: I guess it was just the first song on the EP. When we were deciding on names for it, it was either TEEN DEATH or after a song. The first track is called “I’m Crawling”, and were just like, “Let’s call it Crawling.” It’s a little darker. That song, and pretty much the whole EP is about being a pretty big fuck-up and kinda being pissed at everyone else that you’re such a fuck-up and being pissed at yourself for being a fuck-up. Just kind of feeling stunted and not acting your age. It’s not a happy record (laughs).

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO "I'M CRAWLING"

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO “I’M CRAWLING”

How did you guys get signed to 6131 Records?

James: HOLD TIGHT! was originally asked to play ZNels’ benefit show, but Alex was doing something, so TEEN DEATH ended up playing. It was super weird. Most of the people there were from ZNels’ church and not feeling us at all. Apparently Sean was into it though (laughs). And at this point, we were not very serious about the band. We were so shocked; we did not see it coming at all.

Would you say that you started being more serious as a band after you were signed?

James: (laughs) Definitely. Because at that point, other people were depending on us. We slowly started to do more stuff. We started playing more shows and travelled down for SXSW, which was our first real tour, and it was real rough. Right now we’re booking a tour for a week and a half to like Chicago and back.

For more updates on TEEN DEATH, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

THANKS: A “TWINKLY” BAND WITH A HUGE HEART

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THANKS

In the last few years, emo has had a massive resurgence in the form of “twinkly” emo, which Redditor Zzsuture describes as “lots of bright, pretty, harmonic arpeggios, tapping/pull-off guitar work, jerky drumming with lots of hi-hat love, vocals could be harsh or really indie and boring-like. This kind of music is today’s caricatures of ‘mid-west emo’.” That being said, the members of THANKS have captured that twinkly vibe, and the response to it has been outstanding. Since forming in 2012, the members started a new music venue that has begun to change the way shows are run in Virginia Beach, and they have made lasting friendships that have already helped them further their music careers exponentially. I had the chance to talk to guitarist Karen Estrella about being one of the few girls in the local music scene, what kind of beer they like, what they are most thankful for, and of course the Shaq.

You are one of the very few girls involved in the local music scene, and that seems to be a trend in punk, hardcore, and everything in between, but it seems like more girls are getting involved. What are your thoughts on that?

I wish there for more for sure. I love Sarah [from THE GREAT DISMAL], and I love that she is still doing music. I wish more girls would be inspired to pick up music, but it’s definitely getting better out there. I love bands like PITY SEX and SLINGSHOT DAKOTA. They are amazing female-fronted bands, but I wish there were more female-fronted bands locally.

Please tell me, how did THANKS get started?

George texted me in June 2012, ‘Hey you wanna start a twinkly band?’, and I still have that text in my phone (laughs). We went to see YOU BLEW IT at a house show in Richmond a few weeks before that, and we were really inspired by them. We have had a few lineup changes, but I love how we have it now. We hit up Ryan because we knew he played drums, and during our first practice in his bedroom we wrote our first song. After that, we decided we really wanted to keep doing this.

I know that your band and TRUST FALL helped the former venue That’s How I Beat Shaq get started. What did you think was the significance of what that venue did for the music scene in Virginia Beach?

So much more than we thought. We have met so many bands through friends from all over the country, and we formed our own huge community. All the bands that played there were generally people that wanted to play music and didn’t care about guarantees. The touring bands that played there were more concerned about getting gas money, and we tried to help them as best as we could. I think it really helped bring the divided scene together in a lot of ways, and it gave bands a chance to play that more established venues might not have if they couldn’t sell enough tickets. In fact, TRUST FALL booked their entire summer tour off of friends we met from shows at the Shaq, and for our spring tour, we want to try to do the same. It was really a venue made by musicians for musicians, and we are really proud of it.

Do you have any plans to open a new venue any time soon?

We are definitely on the hunt. We have found some spaces that are in our budget but that don’t meet our needs. We really don’t want to settle. I found one place that is great, but it’s a little outside our price range so I think George and I might go talk to them in business casual to see if they can reduce the price (laughs). We are hoping by early next year we can open a new spot because we still get emails constantly from bands wanting to play here, and I have been hitting up other venues like The Iguana to help get these bands shows. Hopefully we will get something soon.

Earlier this month you wrote the following Facebook post: ‘I’m writing up a bio for our band, and all I’ve been able to come up with so far is “Beer.”’ What beer does your band drink the most?

It’s gotta be PBR (laughs), but we really love Coconut Four Loko. They are very rare, and only certain 7-Eleven’s sell them. Just half of one makes you go wild (laughs).

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What is your personal favorite song to perform?

“I Hate It Here” because I really love the bridge part that people know the words to (laughs). It’s the best feeling in the world to have my friends sing along our songs with us.

Overall, what do you think about the quality of the Virginia music scene and the relationships between bands, fans, and promoters?

It’s really tricky. After Shaq, everyone started to see things how we saw them. Bands don’t have to pay to play or sell presales [for venues and for the scene to be successful]. We brought a different way of thinking, and I think that people are a lot more receptive to it now. The scene is getting way better. More promoters are willing to try to do shows the way we did, and there are more mixed genre shows. I love that pop punk bands are playing with hardcore bands. Also, I think kids that go to shows understand the business side of the music scene more and know more ways to help make it better.

As a band, what are some of the things you are most thankful for?

Each other. They are my best friends, and I would take a bullet for them. Also, all of our friends that come to see us, especially when we aren’t playing shows at the Shaq. Why are they paying $10 to see us? They could have gotten a burrito (laughs). Burritos are way cooler than us. We are also very thankful for the hospitality of our friends on our last summer tour.

Who are some of your favorite bands from Virginia?

Definitely TRUST FALL and THE GREAT DISMAL. They are our best friends. So many Richmond bands—SUNDIALS, HOLD TIGHT, CLOSE TALKER. RAINTREE are also good friends. There are a lot of Nova bands too. I did a split with a great band from DC called SOUNDTRACK TO SLEEP. Also, I cannot forget CARDINAL, AVERMAN, and COPPER & STARS. Those guys are also good friends of ours.

Any final words?

Rip In Peace Mini Couch.

For more updates on THANKS, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and check out their music on Bandcamp.

MAKESHIFT SHELTERS TO RELEASE DEBUT EP THIS WEEK THROUGH BROKEN WORLD MEDIA

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INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK

PHOTOS BY NOORAN MATTIES

Formed less than one month ago by members of CAUST and LOUD?, which includes guitarist Andrew Clark, bassist Phil Edfors, and drummer Paul Karcic, as well as vocalist Ella Boissonnault, MAKESHIFT SHELTERS have been on the rise with record speed. Their debut EP The Cautious End of Things is set to be released this week on November 26th, and they already have plans to tour overseas. Their EP is already receiving rave reviews for their infectious, catchy style of indie rock. I had the chance to talk to Phil about how the band got started, the secrets to their success, and their plans for the next year.

How did your band get started?

When CAUST got back from our East Coast Tour this past summer in early September, our merch guy Paul started jamming together. He plays drums, and I play bass. We’ve jammed together over the years, and we made bands on the side. This band had a few reincarnations before we decided to get serious about it. Andrew got really interested in joining the band after jamming with us. Originally, I was gonna be the vocalist, and we were gonna do more slowcore, shoegaze kinda stuff. But I realized that I can’t sing for shit (laughs), so we were trying to think of friends we knew in the area that could sing, and we thought of Ella, who also does her own singer/songwriter music under the name ELLA SOPHIA. She brought a lot to the table in terms of songwriting. When she joined the band, we scrapped everything we wrote before then, and started writing with her at the start of November. It wasn’t meant to be serious at first, but the songs turned out a lot better than we expected.

In a review of your debut single “The Cautious End of Things” by Under The Gun Review, they said that “feels more put together and advanced then just some random group of kids playing in their garage.” What are your thoughts about that?

It really stoked me out. I’m really glad it’s being well received. We practice 2 to 3 times per week whenever Paul doesn’t have work or school. We all come from punk and hardcore bands, and we really wanted to write more professionally sounding songs with better pop sensibilities than our previous bands.

What is the meaning behind that song?

The opening song, which is “The Cautious End of Things”, and the closing song, which is “Overflowing”, were both written by Ella so I don’t think I could do the specific meaning justice, but essentially, they are both cathartic songs about situations about to erupt. It’s like the climactic moments in movies that are just boiling with tension and emotion before something big happens.

Your band will be releasing your debut EP November 26th with Broken World Media, which has also featured other prominent indie and emo bands in the scene right now, including DADS, THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE…, and OLD GRAY. What is the story behind your relationship with them?

Myself and Andrew have been booking emo and indie shows in the NOVA and DC area for a while, and we have booked THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE, AND I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE three times here so we have developed a good relationship with Derrick, who is in the band and runs Broken World Media. Most bands these days just post their album up on Bandcamp, but we wanted to do more than that. So we showed the record to Derrick, and he was really stoked on it and offered to put it out for us. We are really excited to have their support and also to get good PR from them. He is really doing a lot for our band.

So have you guys signed a record contract with them yet?

Currently, it is officially unofficial (laughs). There is no paperwork signed yet, but there may be for our next record.

MAKESHIFT SHELTERS 2

I also read in the review of “The Cautious End of Things” that you guys are planning to do shows in DC and Virginia, as well as some weekend shows along the East Coast, but you also want to go tour in Iceland. Can you tell us more about why you chose to tour there, and when you plan on going?

Personally I am enamored with Iceland. I wanted to go by myself this spring break, but Andrew told me that he wants to come too. We are trying to convince Ella, but she needs to make sure that she can afford it. We are planning on staying at the Kex Hostel, which has shows all the time there. OF MONSTERS AND MEN even played there. It would just be a stripped, unplugged set and maybe some full band sets. Right now, we are 60/40 on it, but I am really pushing for us to do it.

What is the location of “N39° W76°”?

I’m glad you picked up on that. “Nov,5” and that one are the two interludes on the EP, and they are the date and coordinates of where I met my ex-girlfriend. The location is Towson, MD, which is a hell hole (laughs). I have nothing against the people from there except her. With these songs, we tried to evoke feelings of harping back to the happy moments in a relationship just before shit goes downhill.

What are your thoughts on the local music scene in Virginia?

It is constantly growing. I wish it was more connected though. Prince William County, Loudon County, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Arlington all have great bands, but it’s really scene divided. There could be a great show going on five miles away from you, but you wouldn’t know about it unless you were in that particular scene. And for the most part, the scenes never really come together. I wish there was some unifying force to bring everyone together.

Are there any other bands from Virginia that more people need to listen to?

Absolutely none, just us (laughs). Seriously though there’s a lot. RAINTREE is a great band from [Charlottesville]. They are atmospheric pop. Also, bigger bands like HOLD TIGHT! and SUNDIALS. They are killing it. The drummer of CAUST is in another cool band called SWAN OF TUONELA.

Do you think 2014 will be a big year for your band?

Absolutely! We have a lot of shit going on.  We will be playing Broken World Media’s holiday show on New Year’s in Connecticut, and THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE… will be playing that too. On January 11th, we will be a playing at the Kay Spiritual Center at American University with MODERN BASEBALL and HAVE MERCY. We are also planning to record and release an LP, and we want to tour in the spring and for a long period of time this summer. It’s gonna be awesome.

For more information on MAKESHIFT SHELTERS and their upcoming EP The Cautious End of Things, follow them on Twitter and “like” their Facebook page.