Interviewer(s): Jeanine Woody (Station Manager) & Grace Twaddell (Social Media Director) Interviewee: Sergio & Jay Date of Interview: 10/22/2019 Location of Interview: Towers A1 Lounge Station Aired: 10/24/2019 at 8pm Transcribed by: Jeanine Woody (Station Manager) (Commentary)
Persei is an alternative rock band from Staten Island, New York. Their music is reminiscent of bands we grew up with but with a unique spin to make them more modern and relatable. The vocals are impactful, and the riffs are some you’ll be humming for days. We are super excited to learn more about them and their new EP Idle Moments. Grace: This is WCBG broadcasting from Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. WCBG. Small College. Big Voice.
Jeanine: So today I have some very special guests with me, and you guys are Sergio and Jay.
Sergio: We are in Persei and I play drums
Jay: I play guitar and sing lead vocals
Jeanine: Amazing! Nice to have you guys. Thank you so much for coming, we greatly appreciate it. And I know you guys are from Staten Island, so I was wondering how you guys became a band.
Jay: So, I actually started the project. all these songs are pretty much stuff I've written overtime and wanted to share it with friends and people and everyone and hopefully make this like a big– fulfill my dream kind of thing and originally the base player and the one of the guitar players of the band, Andrew and Mike, they were going to be in the band but our schedules conflicted a lot so it was hard to practice and stuff like that. So, I was at a party one night, a Halloween party, and me and Sergio— we’ve been friends for a while and he plays drums, so I was like what Sergio let's just get this together, let's go record an EP screw the other guys I don't care.
Sergio: I was not exactly sober during this event, but yeah, I’m glad it happened. He came up to me, I was actually I don't know why I for some reason I thought that like that you were gonna tell me some like bad news or something 'cause he called me when I was just like I was really really not sober. I was like “Oh something happened to Jay like a family member passed away or something happened and I was like there's no way.” And then “do drums in my band?” I was like “yeah yeah definitely” and that's how that happened but never think it was maybe like 2 weeks later we went we started tracking the first EP I remember that day that was the day that is not to be a bummer anything but that was the day that the guy on the West side of Manhattan actually like ran through all those people on the West side with the with the car, the bicyclists or whatever it was, the same day. I took I took the one train there which is a terrible 'cause he lives in Harlem as he was in Harlem at the time and so I think the one train to get there and the West side highway was closed down so everybody and their mother was on the one train that day and I was there with all my symbols all my drum stuff on a crowded ask one train and I wanted to legitimately end it all like that in that moment and then no yeah we just went up there we tracked everything a few months later we released it.
Jay: Like he was he brought up a friend Nick.
Sergio: My best friend Nick. I played many years with him and so we figured that we couldn’t continue just the 2 of us so he brought in Andrew and Mike.
Jay: Mike was originally a drummer, so I asked him to play guitar for us.
Sergio: So, there's a little bit of a transition but we worked it out.
Jeanine: I know you guys are from Staten Island—I’m also from Staten Island – so I was wondering what part you’re from.
Sergio: I'm in that weird in between of like Tottenville and Roseville like Charleston where like Home Depot is and by like the target yeah like I guess you could say I'm in Rossville, but I don't know.
Jay: I'm from Eltingville.
Sergio: Mike's in Tottenville, Nick’s in Rossville...Eltingville by like Annadale but he’s in Jersey now.
Jeanine: I read in the SILive article that you guys were in marching band; I was also a band kid, so I was wondering how that influenced you guys.
Jay: First of all, like I was saying before Andrew and I have known each other since middle school. We both went to I.S.7 and we were close friends and then him and Nick are both 2 years younger than I am, so they joined marching band and we became good friends messing around with them, doing all that crazy stuff. Mike is 2 years older than I am, we all just met through marching band.
Sergio: Believe it or not, me and Nick, are so much younger than Mike that we never were in high school with him at the same time. He’s the old man, he’s gonna be 26.
Jay: Nick and I were in a different band, we played shows together and stuff like that.
Jeanine: That’s really interesting. I was also wondering, how has growing up on Staten Island influenced your music style – if it has at all.
Sergio: That’s a good question.
Jay: Back in my day like you said this is sounding old (Sergio echoes “back in my day”) well before Sergio was really in bands I mean towards the tail and there was The Cup.
Sergio: I played at The Cup.
Jay: I know you played The Cup but like it was a different animal like all we were there every weekend watching all these bands play and I guess like seeing what they did and enjoying it— I don't know just got me into the music style that I am in.
Sergio: I caught the tail end of the scene. I mean I like it wasn't exactly at that point it was kind of like down spinning but it's still enjoyable. I mean now it's pretty much dead The Cup doesn't exist anymore-- they I think changed names once it was the Hashtag Bar, right now just straight up closed.
Jay: There’s not a lot of venues at all on Staten Island that allow you to play.
Sergio: When we were booking our release show, we had 2 options and one of them – I'll leave them nameless— but one of them was just like yeah, we're going to charge you like $1500 for the night and I was like OK we're going to go to option 2. Yeah get out of here. They're not exactly the scene’s kind of dead here on the island. We had to grind like I— in that article you mentioned before I told Victoria who wrote it up that on Staten Island it’s like really hard to get people together for a show and stuff like that, so we have really really had to market ourselves and grind. and we got like over 150 people there they really showed you the Dock St, but we had to work for that. And then recently it was last month we were in Philly at a college show at Temple [University] and there were just as many people there just because it's a Saturday night there's beer and music like it’s totally different it's night and day between here in places like Philly or other cities.
Jeanine: Can you describe your sound for me in three words.
Sergio: Yikes… early 2000’s I guess.
Jay: Early 2000’s alternative. Yeah, I think that's the closest.
Sergio: Yeah, a lot of people I mean one of the first shows that we played, somebody said that we sounded like Brand New. I mean that's his favorite band so I definitely would say there’s a slight resemblance.
Jay: But I would say My Chemical Romance is my favorite band.
Sergio: Really? Well you don’t show that. Early 2000’s. Mike and Andrew like a lot of the heavier stuff. Everyone kinda brings in a different type of little thing.
Jay: I wanna blow up Mike’s spot right now and say that his favorite band is Avenged Sevenfold. Sorry Mike.
Sergio: Everyone brings in something different. These guys like a lot of the heavier stuff. Me and Nick, in the tail end of that scene since we are much younger than them, we like pop-punk a lot more. I have a Blink-182 tattoo on my leg. Travis Barker—I’ve always loved all the ridiculous drum fills. I think it’s a mix of that heavier 2000’s alternative with a little bit of sprinkled in like melodic—like Nick with his leads, I’ll try to squeeze in as many fills as I can unnecessarily. It works. That’s a lot more than three words.
Jay: Early 2000’s alternative was our three words.
Sergio: But the three words doesn’t do it justice?
Grace: You said your favorite band was My Chemical Romance, which artist’s solo project was your favorite?
Jay: Honestly if I had to choose one song that was the best out of all of them, it would be when Gerard Way released “Baby You’re a Haunted House.”
Grace: I’ll take it.
Jay: That one’s my favorite. The Frank Iero stuff is awesome, but I jam that song so much that my girlfriend yelled at me about how often I’ve played it because it hurt her tinnitus.
Sergio: Is Melissa 70 years old? Like, what is that?
Jay: She has tinnitus, I guess.
Sergio: Gerard Way is so talented. I’m not a My Chem guy, but he did recently a Netflix show called the Umbrella Academy, that was flames. It was so good, I called out of work one day and I just watched the entire season in one day. It was crazy good.
Jay: I’m excited for the next season.
Sergio: Oh, hell yeah.
Jeanine: Did you read the graphic novel?
Sergio: Hell no.
Jay: I tried getting it, after the show released, and its like nowhere. Its all sold out everywhere, even now, it’s crazy.
Sergio: There’s no way. At the beginning of that season I was like Ellen Page is playing a nobody character, this can’t be right. They cast Ellen Page for this. And at the end of the season you’re kinda just like oh, okay, makes sense.
Jeanine: I was wondering if you could tell me about your EP.
Sergio: Idle Moments. That was a long long long journey for us I mean we started writing that shortly after 117 Whatever Street came out in January of 2018.
Jay: The first song that was written for it was “Failed to Sync” yeah, it's also the first song on the EP.
Sergio: So that one actually there was a lot of story behind that one. A lot of songs about depression and self-worth that kind of thing but as far as like recording and stuff like that, that was kind of an uphill battle for us. Our audio engineer did a fantastic job. He got into— I don't know if he's OK with me disclosing this but whatever— he got into a pretty bad accident at work.
Jay: He broke pretty much half his body.
Sergio: He broke a lot of bones and we were really really worried about him and this was in the middle of the project. He took a couple weeks I guess to recover, and he wanted to get right back into it I mean I don't really know 'cause to be honest like he was kind of like trying his best to come with that whole that whole timeline got kind of…
Jay: We got to drive him a couple of weeks after he got out of the hospital.
Sergio: He was absolute trooper about it. We brought him into the studio he insisted, and we were like dude you are no shape to be doing this, but he was really liked super supportive of our project and wanted to finish it. I'm not glad that he got hurt but I'm glad that we finished with him given the less than great circumstance.
Jay: And what Sergio said about self-worth and depression, and stuff like that…I've always looked at music I've been playing guitar since I’m 5 years old so I always looked at it as a vehicle to really help people out of things like whatever they're going through at that time so I try to exemplify that through my lyric writing and the stuff we collaborated with in terms of lyrics and stuff like that because I want to be able to help people with music the way that it helped me since I was 5 years old so like the money isn't really like the big thing it's more so just like maybe it helps somebody step back from that ledge one day
Jeanine: What is your favorite song off your EP?
Sergio: If you ask all five of us, all five of us will have a different answer.
Jeanine: That’s why we ask the question.
Sergio: *looks at Jay* What’s your favorite song?
Jay: “After the Storm.”
Sergio: My favorite song to play is “How Long” but I know that.
Jay: *looks at Sergio* Why is that your favorite you play nothing?
Sergio: I know. But it's so different it's like well that triplet feeling like I don't like something it’s so not Persei that I played in that song but “After the Storm” definitely is like the Best Song and I know my brain is like kind of separating from my emotions and my feelings of the EP. “After the Storm” is the Best Song even though I like playing “How Long.”
Jay: “After the Storm” is my favorite song. Everything about it— when I close my eyes is the first lyric. It literally is something that I was writing as I was falling asleep one night when I was living in Harlem; so, it means a lot to me. It was what was running through my mind at that time.
Sergio: Yeah, I remember he sends us a demo of that like I remember waking up at like 8:00 o'clock in the morning. I woke up and I see that he demo'd out an entire song like overnight and I was just like “Oh my God Jay” there’s not much that needs to be done. We just have to add parts. There was very little that changed from the original demo that Jay sent us to what we actually released, structurally speaking. “After the Storm” is definitely the best, that’s the one that most people know the lyrics to. There's like a like a gang chant section where the crowd sings the chorus so that was pretty cool at our release show to have 150 people sing that song, it was pretty dope.
Jay: There’s actually a Facebook Live video of my mom screaming “Oh my God” during that.
Sergio: Your mom screamed so loud during that. I haven’t heard your mom scream that loud since—this one time at band camp I remember – circling back to marching band. We had this game called “know that senior” so all the seniors would line up on stage and each one of them had a specific question about that person and they would call up a freshman individually and say which senior blah blah blah blah blah you have to pick the senior on stage that that question is about. If you get it right, you get to shove a pie in that senior’s face if you get it wrong, they get to shove it in your face. So, I don't even remember what your question was do you remember.
Jay: It was which senior dated around the friend group.
Sergio: Yikes, Okay, I didn't know that. This little kid, I’m not going to say his name, but he was a freshman at the time, and he got Jay’s question.
Jay: Before you say that, I forced them to give him my question.
Sergio: This kid, we had like a vendetta against him. So, he knew that he was going to get Jay's question. So I'm not even joking I saw him from like 50 meters back like it was an Olympic sport getting a running start with this pie and I see it in slow motion as it's happening his mom yelling Johnathan as it's happening and then boom the kid gets whacked in the face with shaving cream or whipped cream or whatever it was. That was crazy that went literally like when I watched a video of your mom screaming in that video like it brought me back to that moment. It's so bizarre I'm sorry that it's true.
Jay: It’s a 7-year-old story.
Sergio: That was 7 years ago. Wow time flies.
Jeanine: Are there any artists or songs that you’ve currently been listening to a lot?
Jay: Before I answer that question, that just made me realize in 3 years is my high school reunion.
Sergio: Who cares?
Jay: Anyway, I've been listening to a lot of Oso Oso right now and Tiny Moving Parts. Basically, their newest stuff. They both came out with awesome albums very recently.
Sergio: I've been rocking the new blink-182 album. It's pretty good; I think this the best way they’ve done with Matt Skiba. I've been listening to In Her Own Words—I don’t know if you've heard of them. They actually I think they've been opening for like some pretty big bands recently like Real Friends and The Wonder Years. And they, believe it or not, we both back in the day played a show with them. They toured through Staten Island. I think they were— I mean he was in a band called When it Counts and I was in a band called a Major Choice. I think they open for us and then you guys went on. I remember them being really good and I followed them ever since. They came out with a new album, I think Through pure Noise.
Jay: I forgot about that album the new album.
Sergio: Steady Glow? Yeah dude fire.
Jay: I told you to listen to it.
Sergio: And the fact that you didn't say it is like bothersome to me.
Jay: I completely forgot about it besides I like the past couple of days I've been listening to this album, The Dark Dark Bright by There Will be Fireworks. They’re a Scottish band. It came out in 2013 and I think it's the best album of all time.
Jay: That what I was listening to in the car.
Serio: I thought we were listening to Tiny Moving Parts in the car.
Jay: Yeah, I switched it.
Jeanine: If you could collaborate with any other artists, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Jay: Post Malone.
Sergio: Freddie Mercury. I went through a Queen phase after that movie and I'm not ashamed to say it. I don't care.
Jay: I think Post Malone is the most genius pop writer of all time—pop artist rather. I would love to collaborate with him.
Sergio: Yeah, with Posty? I don’t know man I feel like I can't resist the opportunity to bring somebody back from the dead though.
Jay: yeah but I would say the same about Jimi Hendrix and what am I going to do to add to the genius of Jimi Hendrix.
Sergio: Yeah that's true that's true. Oh, I totally I totally overlooked Travis Barker. I'm a clown. Now but to be fair yeah same thing, what am I going to do I’m not going to out-play him.
Grace: Speaking of dead artists, what do you think about when people release music that was previously unreleased after an artist has passed. What is your opinion on that?
Jay: I actually told my best friend if I were to die at any point, I want any unreleased music that I've demo'd out, I want them to continue playing it but with a different singer. I don't want anybody to hear my voice from the dead, so I feel the same way about hearing like the whole stuff like Little Peep or XX.
Grace: That’s where I got the question from!
Jay: I love that song “Falling Down” but I still think it's really creepy that I'm listening to 2 dead people.
Grace: I do too. I think I listen to it and I'm like you didn't hear this like you have not heard the final product. Would they be proud of it or maybe like ashamed of it?
Jay: Well that's the thing too. I'm sure from recording stuff like this but a lot of that stuff is just their demo'd vocals that they touch up but you could hear the imperfections in it still because it's not recorded properly it's not recorded in the right space so I don't want to be remembered as like this crappy recording of some vocal performance that which is auto-tuned the hell out of.
Sergio: That could definitely go South real quick.
Jay: I don't know what do you think about it?
Sergio: I don't know to be honest, it depends because like I wouldn't mind if somebody released something that I wrote after I was gone. The whole voice thing though I don't know it doesn't register with me I'm kind of team like yeah release it like it's my work like if I was if I was planning on releasing it while I was alive and I suddenly passed and go for it. I'm down with that. Jeanine: I was wondering if you guys could tell me a little bit about your future plans for the band.
Jay: Right now, we're trying to record some singles. A lot of the philosophy of how music is consumed today.
Sergio: Yeah, the streaming era.
Jay: It’s more so just like short 2 minute and 30 seconds songs and only one song at a time like it doesn't for a band that's really still working their way up it's more beneficial to just release more music— less music more frequently.
Sergio: I mean even now the new Spotify I mean, 'cause I take care of like all the administrative stuff for the band, and so the way that Spotify operates now is that you could submit to be on their official Spotify playlist but can only be one song at a time so that further pushes that idea that like less is more. Even with big bands they that's the policy across the board for Spotify. So definitely we're moving towards that that era of just like single, single, singles, and that's what's going to hit more. Then I guess once you develop more of a following then you can release albums because people do still release albums, EPS, all that so for now it's our mindset is singles.
Jay: Singles and shows. Sergio: I guess singles and shows definitely.
Jeanine: Where is your favorite place to do your shows?
Sergio: I don't know that's a that's a good question I mean we've never talked about that. We've played I think at like 6 or 7 different places, only one of them being outside of New York and that was in Temple [University] in Philadelphia. That was pretty lit.
Jay: I don't know my favorite place in New York is probably Amityville Music Hall. We've never played there but I played it in previous bands, and when I wasn't in the Staten Island scene the Long Island scene was a new home it was great but now, I heard it's like dying out just like here, which kind of stinks.
Jay: I'd probably say a Soda Bar at Temple [University] because that was by far the most fun, I've had since we started the band at a show just yeah that was awesome yeah.
Jeanine: Completely unrelated question, what is your favorite restaurant on Staten Island?
Sergio: Oh. I don't know what are you gonna say? *Looks at Jay*
Jay: Probably Giovanni’s
Sergio: You’re a clown.
Jay: I don't know I can't think of any other ones off the top of my head.
Sergio: I mean does it have to be like a casual restaurant or just any restaurant.
Jeanine: Any restaurant.
Sergio: Because like if it's a regular everyday restaurant I'd probably be like Town Deli 'cause like they offer a lot, and I work there.
Sergio: If we're talking about any restaurant that place that we went to for Mike's birthday Beso was hella good everything is good.
Jay: Everything over there is good, Bayou’s great.
Sergio: I spent like $50 but it was pretty good.
Jay: What about you?
Jeanine: I would say either Taste of India II or the dim sum place. I don’t remember the name of it. It’s like Ocean Palace or something. It’s across the street, it’s on New Dorp.
(Ocean Palace is a sushi place in Annadale. Jeanine was referring to Precious Island Tea Shop on New Dorp Lane)
Jay: New Dorp has some good down restaurants like that.
Sergio: Piece of Cake in New Dorp is dope.
Jeanine: I try to try every restaurant on the island that has four stars or above on yelp. There’s a spreadsheet.
Jay: I’m a land surveyor and we are going around the island very frequently and I would say like my favorite restaurant not restaurant but like lunch spot on the North Shore it's right by Port Richmond High School is that John's Famous Deli that's right there.
Sergio: Yeah there used to be one in Tottenville that was hella good too.
Jay: But the one by Port Richmond High School is specifically the best one on the island.
Sergio: Really, they’re the same thing.
Sergio: But they have the same name.
Jay: They’re not the same thing. The best shrimp parm ever.
Sergio: Yeah, some good shrimp parm’s hard to find. I love how we just went completely tangent off and just like talking about shrimp parm and John’s Deli.
Grace: I’m going to keep the tangent going. I see you have a Yankees hat on *looks at Jay*
Sergio: Don’t get me started
Grace: My question is how disappointed were you on Saturday night?
Sergio: Yeah yes don't get me started Saturday night.
Jay: Before he gets started, I have 2 reasons why I don't really have a voice right now why it’s a little horse. One is because I was screaming so loud when DJ LeMahieu who hit the two horn home runs, to the point where I was probably crying too and then two was…
Grace: I was gonna turn it off before he it that home run. I was like it’s done and then he kept coming up and they kept throwing him pitches and I was like its DJ I can’t turn it off.
Jay: Now the second reason is 'cause I was at the Jet game last night 'cause I'm also a diehard Jets fan. Unfortunately. Even though I'm very disappointed I still think that DJ hitting those home runs is one of my favorite Yankee moments.
Sergio: Yeah definitely I like the DJ home run DiDi's home run from the 2017 wild card game against the Twins. I was I've been to the last 4 times at the Yankees were in the playoffs I've been to like most of the home games. So going back to Houston in a bullpen game and losing Game 6 where we're supposed to be our strength broke my heart and I was depressed for at least 48 hours to the point where my family was yelling at me telling what is wrong with people this is a baseball team they don't feed you, you feed them. Literally like a 9-year-old and I didn't get over it, I'm still not over it to be honest so thank you for bringing that up because that's a lot of the like conversations in our band group chat are mostly about the Yankees. So, we have 2 met fans and they both like the rag on Masahiro Tanaka and it kills me I want to strangle both of them.
Jay: They ask us like 10 times a day about how much of a bad contract we think Giancarlo’s contract is.
Grace: Not as bad as Ellsbury’s.
Jay: That’s what I’ve been saying.
Sergio: He hasn’t played in 2 years. Nobody's even asking where he is and he's making 155 million dollars.
Grace: What did you think of the decision to put CC on the roster?
Sergio: I mean it's tough because my brain is saying you shouldn't because he's clearly hurt, can't play to have him there is one inning guy… I mean but my heart says CC’s a God Damn bulldog and you're going to throw him on that mound and he's going to give you everything he's got, and he did for about 4 minutes.
Jay: It's almost a very poetic way to go out. Yeah you literally gave it your all over your shoulder pretty much explodes.
Grace: Apparently it did.
Sergio: It is what it is.
Jay: So, you’re a die-hard Yankee fan too? [at Grace]
Grace: I feel like it was a move for posterity not logistics because this man is going to throw 18 pitches and his knee is going to start barking.
Sergio: And it wasn’t his knee. He's 305 pounds. I remember him saying it in ESPN like round table he was just like yeah when I'm pitching at 305 that's me pitching light. I was like what, 305 is light? Like he’s a big dude and his knees yeah don't hold up. Unfortunately. But what great Yankee. Great career. Hall of Famer.
Grace: The last Yankee’s question and then I’m done.
Sergio: No, we love this. Believe me this is not out of place at all.
Grace: Do you think they should have pulled in Romine?
Jay: I hate Gary Sanchez and I would have said not to sit him.
Grace: Even with the butterfingers? He was dropping balls back there.
Sergio: When he struggles offensively, he struggles defensively. My hope was that he's going to find it behind you at the plate and find it behind the plate. Romine’s only had 2 playoffs at bat in his entire career, so I don't really know what I'm doing putting him there. I think I ride it ride with Gary. I mean you had a home run against the Astros. I don't know he's that guy that eventually going to run into one. They had the same conversation last year and he had the game winning home run against the Red Sox and the only game that we won again against them. I ride or die with Gary. Ride the kraken baby. I’m with it. We very rarely find people that are like into the music scene and sports as well so I think that's one thing that's very unique about us 'cause like when we go play at shows and stuff like that it's like a like typical scene kids like the hair and the the gauges and all that kind of stuff and when Nick shows up in his Mets Jersey it's kind of what sets us apart a little bit. I think in the scene like our image and all that kind of stuff.
Jay: You just you just made me think of that time me and Melissa where in Cape May and we were in a brewery and the guy was like you're the first Yankee and Jet fan I've ever seen in my lifetime and I was like that's so weird how have you not seen the Yankee and Jet fan.
Sergio: Because you’re in Cape May, that’s why.
Jay: They’re all Philly fans.
Sergio: Exactly don't even get me started on Philly.
Jeanine: I’m glad Serena’s not here.
(Serena is a die hard Philly's fan)
Grace: That’s where Joe Girardi might be going.
Sergio: I don't know, I don't know, I think he should go to the Mets. I think he should and I’m a Yankee fan.
Grace: He should go to the Mets solely because they can’t support him on the Philly’s.
Sergio: I mean I shouldn't support him on either team because I mean I hate Philadelphia and I wouldn't root for the Mets.
Jay: You don't think he would go to the Cubs?
Sergio: No, they have 2— they set apart like 2 final candidates I think one of them I think one of them is on no one is David Ross the guy that was the catcher in 2016 when they won the World Series. The old guy that retired like right after they won. He's one of their final 2 candidates. I forget who the other person is but yeah. Joe Girardi. Mets manager. I don't want to say book it but if it’s not Mets it’s Philly’s.
Jeanine: So, I was wondering if there were any last words you guys wanted to say and tell our listeners.
Sergio: I mean I kind of wanted to get a little bit of air out. We recently entered this Bayside battle of the bands, I don't know if you saw that—it was what the article is written on. So basically the concept of it was a contest that Bayside started where they were about to go on a nationwide tour through 29 cities I think was 29-30 and they were going to have a voting contest for local bands in each city and the winner of the contest for each city would get to open for them on that date in their city. We entered and there was a little bit of controversy and stuff surrounding the whole thing 'cause there were several bands using VPNs and click farms and stuff like that and through bogus IP addresses and like spamming the vote. Originally the voting was not supposed to end until Friday; they cut it like 2 weeks ago because of all the cheating and stuff like that so we entered the contest. I'm I guess I just want for fans and those listening to this that we sent out a hard copy of the QR code and we would do giveaways and stuff like that for people that voted for us. Them cutting the thing short threw a wrench into our whole marketing plan. I mean in New York city it’s so tough because there's over 100 bands that signed up for that and I think once you subtract the cheaters—I mean if my math is right—we’d probably be in like 3rd out of 100 maybe 2nd. Other cities had 30-40 bands max. So, for fans listening to this I just wanted to say thank you if you voted for us, it does mean a lot to us. It's a shame that it got cut short 'cause I think we would have had a good chance at it but it is what it is. I'd rather it get cut short than somebody who cheated.
Jay: My motto was I'd rather lose honestly than win dirty.
Sergio: One of our friends I mean if my math is right, they probably won the contest and they did a lot of good things with it too. They raised money for breast cancer awareness and stuff like that, so they were doing a really good job, but I just thought it was a great way for this music scene so kind of revitalized and everything. Once again, the fans thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for voting. We did our giveaways so the people that won the give away they know who they are. I promise you I will mail out the shirts soon; I haven't gone through, yet I haven't been home, but I will get on it and thank you.
Jeanine: Thank you guys so much for coming in today, I know we greatly appreciate it. It’s great to have a band from Staten Island come in and talk about their experience and we would love to get your name out there. We do actually have a lot of listeners in Europe.
Sergio: So do we.
Jay: I wanna say to anybody listening. Thank you for having us first of all, second of all this might sound a little corny. I’m 24 and I’m still trying to do this, and make this a dream, come true so keep going at whatever you love, no matter what it is.
Jeanine: If you really enjoyed today’s interview that was Sergio and Jay from Persei. Persei is P-E-R-S-E-I. Please take a listen to their new EP, Idle Moments, available on Spotify. Thank you for tuning in today!
Interviewer(s): Jeanine Woody (Station Manager) and Grace Twaddell (Social Media Director) Interviewee: Max Becker Date of Interview: 10/9/2019 Location of Interview: Phone Call from the studio in the Towers A1 Lounge Aired: 10/10/2019 at 8pm Transcribed by: Jeanine Woody (Station Manager) (Commentary)
SWMRS is a band from Oakland, California that is taking the music industry by storm. Their new album, Berkeley's On Fire, reflects the influence of politics on a new generation. Each chord is perfectly constructed to create a new sound that incorporates aspects of punk, hip-hop, etc. The catchy songs help give an insight into the direction the band is hoping to go in. We were lucky enough to score an interview with Max Becker and talk about his love for School of Rock (which was filmed at Wagner) and learn more about the core values of the band.
This is WCBG broadcasting from Wagner College, the School of Rock. WCBG Small College. Big Voice. Hi, I’m Jeanine and I have a special guest with me here today, Max Becker from the band SWMRS. Max is one of the vocalists and he plays lead guitar.
*Cue “Hellboy” by SWMRS*
Max: Hi how’s it going Jeanine?
Jeanine: It’s good, how are you?
Max: I’m good, I’m good, I’m just…I’m actually on the east coast right now as well.
Jeanine: Oh, that’s really cool!
Max: Yeah, yeah, how’s your day going?
Jeanine: It’s pretty good, I’m working on my senior thesis so, it’s going.
Max: Oh s---, wow, yeah that’s a thing, cool.
Jeanine: So, we’re super excited to have you and we really appreciate you doing this interview with us.
Max: Yeah of course, no I mean, I’ve actually been on a kick lately of just trying to do, I’m trying to do more independent interviews any ways, so it’s really cool you guys reached out.
Jeanine: Of course, I know you guys are one of my favorite bands now.
Max: Oh sick.
Jeanine: Yeah, I actually got into listening to you guys over the summer it was in like a running playlist for like pop punk and then I was like oh okay this is really cool.
(Just to preface, Jeanine does not run, she was looking for upbeat music while travelling to her summer internship)
Max: Ohhhh. Sick, do you know what song it was? I’m always curious what they have on those.
Jeanine: I feel like it was “Lose Lose Lose”
Max: Yeah, that makes sense. Usually they’re like “Palm Trees”, “Hellboy”, or “Lose Lose Lose” for those kinds of things so it’s really interesting. I feel like “Lose Lose Lose” makes the most sense. So, rad.
Jeanine: So, I know you guys became a band because of the movie School of Rock
Max: Yeah, yeah, we did.
[1:48 Interview begins]
Jeanine: So, as you know Wagner College is where School of Rock was filmed
Max: Yeah, yeah, it’s so cool
Jeanine: Yeah, we were watching it and we were like oh my god that’s our dorm building, which was really kinda cool because I haven’t watched it in a very long time, but it was nice to see, and I was wondering what your favorite part of the movie was.
Max: My favorite part of the movie, there’s a lot of favorites, I mean I can quote pretty much every section of it. We used to watch it, first and foremost we used to watch it every weekend on our—because Cole and I, we’re brothers, we were on—our family did ski team in Tahoe, and every weekend we would watch a movie on the way up to Tahoe, it was either School of Rock or Holes so those are the two most quoted movies in my family. I’d say my favorite part is—I like the last show. I mean like there is nothing more inspiring then when you know Billy, the fashion kid, has to like—no he doesn’t do it on the spot. Like Gordon, I know even their names, so Gordon, is the lighting kid, he does a light show on the spot because he missed the file. That’s already crazy for a ten-year-old. And the you’ve got, everyone is wearing their uniforms because the outfits got messed up and he’s like that’s not a bad idea and then they’re like, you know they left school anyways, they got him out of his apartment, and they’ve played the show. Honestly, when I heard that song for the first time, I was like that was one of the greatest songs ever written. I was eleven, I was like wow, that like there more than any other part is probably what inspired our band the most. Is when they played the actual show at the Battle of the Bands.
Jeanine: That’s really cool. It’s pretty interesting how like that one moment was one of the things that really influenced you guys. I think that’s super, super cool.
Max: Yeah, I mean like it’s a ten-year-old movie you know. That doesn’t matter. Movies are supposed to make you feel something and it made us feel like we could do anything.
Jeanine: That’s totally true. I feel like when you’re young, it definitely sets a—kinda like a foundation for your future, in a sense. Kinda inspires you to go on track to do something.
Max: Yeah absolutely.
Jeanine: So, I was also wondering how growing up in Oakland influenced your music style.
Max: Definitely is a big influence on the music style. We have a lot of different things going on musically whether it’s the underground punk scene from Gilman Street, or the Hyphy Movement, or Hieroglyphics underground 90s rap. A lot of—I guess technically, there’s like a pop punk scene too, we actually didn’t—we kinda like landed in the pop punk in a really strange way. And then, actually we don’t really consider ourselves to be pop punk because we don’t really. I mean pop punk stems from like Blink-182 whereas what we do stems more from like The Clash. And I would say they are two separate things, but I’d say even though The Clash are from London, the Bay area in and of itself is more of a politics driven scene. So, you get more music like The Clash whether its obviously like Green Day or Operation Ivy or stuff like that. So just, I think what it mostly does, is being a musician from the Bay Area is—it gives you this sense that your music should be inclusive because the scene is based on inclusivity. Specifically, Gilman Street is based on—I don’t know if you know much about this venue but literally when you walk in there’s some rules on the door that say, “No Racism, No Sexism, No Homophobia.” They would probably expand it if they rewrote them now it was written in like 1987, they’ve stuck true to those values ever since. And that, that really sticks with you when you—we played our first show there when we were—Cole was thirteen. It really sticks with you, you know when you’re getting your chops.
Jeanine: I was wondering if you could describe your sound in three words for me.
Max: Sure. Don’t laugh, this is how I wanna—this is how I usually talk about it with the rest of the band. It’s more like the three goals we are going for. One of the words we toss around a lot is explosive because we wanted to feel like if someone is at our show or listening to our music they get up and do something. So just like, kinda like an explosion, an explosion is kinda happening in your mind or wherever. This inner fire to want to dance or to make a change or to be a better person or something like that. Explosive, I would say its punk for sure. Mostly because we tend to believe that punk is more of a feeling rather than a sound. And I feel like songs like Lose Lose Lose or Palm Trees or Figuring It Out we are talking about things that are punk values. But even songs that we have that are way not guitar driven like, let’s take April in Houston or Hannah, it’s like—I think those are punk songs because of the way it makes you feel. It’s a feeling of defiance. So, I’d say we are explosive, punk and I’d say dance. The reason I’d say dance is not like EDM dance, its more like our music is movement based a lot of, a lot of the show—I don’t know if you’ve seen us before but a lot of our show its like an hour and fifteen minutes of like nonstop movement for the crowd. And we’ve wanted that since we were, again ten years old, so once we saw School of Rock, and it’s a big, big part of how we write songs. So explosive, punk and dance. Those are the main three words.
(Prior to this interview, Jeanine was practicing the questions with Serena. They were discussing Hot Ones and when Serena answered this question pretending to be Max, she said their sound is “Explosive, fiery, and spicy.”)
(Jeanine has never seen their shows in person but would love to one day if they come to New York.)
Jeanine: Okay, that’s super, super cool. Personally, my favorite song off Berkeley's On Fire, is “Too Much Coffee.” I was wondering what your favorite song would be.
Max: Oh cool. Yeah, I—that’s really sweet, I spent a lot of time writing that one. I always like when people like that one, like ah it’s being appreciated.
Jeanine: It’s super relatable.
Max: Yeah sick, awesome. I think, the two—there’s like two. My favorite, I have like four favorite songs. But pretty much I think the pair of “Berkeley [‘s on Fire]” going into “[Too Much] Coffee” is something I’m really proud of. I think Berkeley—when Cole showed me the demo of that, so he wrote that one, I was like wow, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like this in my life. And I’m like so proud to be in a band with my brother, like wow, you’re amazing. And it kinda inspired me to write the intro of “Too Much Coffee,” because they’re actually in the same key, they’re both in D, but one of them is in Drop D, but they both start with harmonics on the guitar and so the way it was designed was to always be played back to back and we play them back to back live too. But if you play them back to back in the recording, you’ll see it’s like a transition into the next song. So, I like those two together, but I think the two most well-rounded impressive songs on the album are—I think the best song on the album, the best song Cole’s ever written is “Lose Lose Lose.” Only because I just think—it’s one of those, it’s hard to explain, it’s one of those songs, I think you play it for anybody and its really hard for them to find a reason not to like it.
Jeanine: Yes, that does make a lot of sense
Max: And then, yeah, I like “Trashbag Baby” a lot because when I wrote that riff I made it because I had this idea—we play a lot overseas, and what happens when you play in England, is they sing the guitar riff, and I really wanted our guitar riff for them to sing at our shows. So, like for example, like “Seven Nation Army” they go like *sings the riff from Seven Nation Army* its like being in a soccer game. So, I wanted to have a riff where we do that too. So, we go there and literally worked. Like we play in the UK and its like *sings the riff from Trashbag Baby* so those—I mean sorry that I didn’t put it in one song, but I’d say if I had to do one song its “Lose Lose Lose” but those four, I think I’m most impressed with us about.
Jeanine: And definitely, I agree. Honestly, the album is just a really good album in general.
Max: Oh, thank you.
Jeanine: And I know you write a lot of the songs, so what is your favorite lyric that you’ve ever written.
Max: Um…I’m most proud of the “Lose It” chorus. Just because it seems to keep growing even three years after its come out. The um—we get stats on Spotify and like all that stuff. That’s not what its about but its like really cool that Lose It, which was—wasn’t even supposed to be released and then it just kinda like we had in our back pocket and the label was like “do you have an extra song” and we were like yeah, we are kinda hesitant about this one because its kinda slow and it remains to be our most popular song so I’m really proud of the chorus lyric, which is tell me why’d you have to have such a damn good taste in music/if all my favorite songs make me think of you/I’m gonna lose it. I think the reason its last so long and the reason it keeps growing and streaming really well for us is because of that line. It’s just a relatability thing.
Grace: So, I noticed you mentioned about unreleased music. I wanted to know if you really had an opinion on this kind of trend that’s been in music of releasing artist’s unreleased music after they’ve passed away. Like, what is your opinion on that? Because they can’t really consent to being like this is my final product, this is what I’m proud of.
(Grace came up with this question on the spot. She thinks this will go down as one of the weirdest questions Max has ever been asked. Maybe it will be memorable.)
Max: Umm…true. I mean, I think…when you become a musician, you kind of enter this unspoken agreement that whatever you do is going to be—is going to exist in like forever. Because even songs that were written before recorded music have just passed down as like folk songs and ideas. So, that’s kinda why people do it. Like it gives you the opportunity as a human being to do something permanent and even if its something you’re not proud of obviously, unless you were like a racist lyric or something and they’re like oh, you know obviously I would imagine that no one wants to come out with that. But I would say like, sometimes musician’s most vulnerable song that they don’t actually release, I think its really special to hear them. And you know what, they’re dead. *laughter from Max and staff* It’s a sad thing to say, but I think like they’re not alive anymore, you know and part of what it is and I don’t know if you feel this about bands, but when I’m a fan of a band, it’s almost like it’s a messed up thing but it’s like, it’s almost like the band is an object and it belongs to you. And what we try to do with our band is we want to belong to our fans because we feel like we will exist longer in time if people can claim us as their band. And if—if one of my favorite artists posthumously releases a song, I feel like even though its their life, you know as a fan it belongs to me. And so, I would I think that’s the magic of music. So yeah, I’m all for it. Maybe that’s a controversial answer. *Max laughs*
Jeanine: What type of impact do you hope SWMRS will have on the music industry?
Max: I think, you’ll see this in 2020 from us, or perhaps the whole 2020's, is we really specifically want to change the way bands, mid-level bands exist in the United States. I think it’s really easy for us to do really well. It’s not really easy for us, its hard, we are tending to do pretty well in the UK and Europe and internationally, Australia, stuff like that. But the United States is massive, and its so, as you guys know its so polarizing, there are so many different opinions going on, and people can’t agree on anything so its really hard for bands to like figure out to, a way to get big anymore. And I think what you’ll see from us, is we’re currently working on something that I can’t really tell you about a way to approach the United States, in a different way and really I’d like to say that SWMRS will impact the United States music industry, for a lot of bands, to just inspire them that you can do it. And like, just because you’re playing rock music or whatever, doesn’t mean you should give up or be happy with a certain—making it to a certain level. You should—we wanna inspire people to pretty much never stop growing as musicians, and hopefully our impact in this next decade will do that for—on as big of a scale as we possibly can.
Jeanine: Okay, well I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to talk to us here and thank you so much.
Max: Oh, of course. Thanks for reaching out. I’m excited to see the article.
Jeanine: Bye! If you really enjoyed today’s interview, that was Max Becker from SWMRS, is S-W-M-R-S. Please take a listen to their new album Berkeley’s On Fire. Thank you for tuning in today. And stay tuned for our Staff Picks!
[17:07 Interview with Max ends]
[17:31 Staff picks begin]
Emily: Hi my name is Emily and my favorite SWMRS song is “Drive North” because I’m from California and it always makes me laugh because I really relate to the lyrics.
(Emily is from Sacramento and when Jeanine showed her this song she couldn't stop laughing about how true it is)
*Drive North plays*
Serena: Hi my name’s Serena and my favorite SWMRS song is “Berkeley’s On Fire,” because I think it’s a really upbeat and interesting way to tell the story of the Berkeley riots. And I’ve always loved how music can express real life events that might be crazy or tragic or weird in a way that everybody can enjoy.
(Serena loves saying Berk-ley's-on-Fire in the same intonation as the song. She wanted to change the words for the interview to say "why-he-so-fire?")
*Berkeley’s On Fire plays*
Grace: Hi I’m Grace, I’m the Social Media Director, and my favorite song by SWMRS is “Trashbag Baby.”
*Trashbag Baby plays*
Jeanine: Hi I’m Jeanine, I’m the Station Manager of WCBG, as I said in the interview, my favorite song off Berkeley’s On Fire is “Too Much Coffee.” We’re gonna throw it back to their first album released under their name SWMRS, Drive North. My favorite song off of it would definitely have to be D’You Have a Car? It’s definitely a super fun song to jam out to, I know I sing it around my house all the time. And it’s just something that—it’s just a fun song you get to listen to and… vibe with. So, thank you for listening! *D’You Have a Car? plays*
(Songs played during the interview: “Hellboy,” “Lose It,” “Too Much Coffee,” and “April in Houston.”)
If SWMRS is ever in New York, let us know we would love to have you visit us!