FEATURE INTERVIEW with Brian Lee Skidmore of The Weird Beards

Interview by Corrine Jensen 
April 19, 2011

WC: So, you’re Brian Lee Skidmore… how awesome is that?
: It’s about as amazing as a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

WC: That is pretty amazing. What’s also amazing is your music. Recently you traveled up to Vermont and performed some solo gigs. How was that experience?
It was fantastic. It was just me and my Uke and everyone was just so kind and my music was very well received.

WC: Well, that’s cool. What knowledge did you take away from the shows?
BLS: It really showed me that I need to be on the road. I need to be out there making music. There’s a market for it. People want something original and creative, something just… different.

WC: Ha. Well you are certainly different! 
BLS: Yeah, it’s true. But different can be exciting and unusual and people need that. Some of these people, they don’t even know it yet.

WC: Speaking of things that are different and exciting and unusual, let’s talk about the New London music scene. Are there any New London bands out there that you’re digging?
BLS: Definitely Straight to VHS. Their passion and drive are constantly inspiring me.

WC: What would you tell up and coming musicians and bands emerging onto the New London music scene today? 
BLS: I would tell them that this city is absolutely the best place to start. This city has evolved so much musically over the years. New bands can survive here, they can thrive here. It is a good place to ‘come from’ but hopefully they can break out onto a larger scale.

WC: What do you mean by ‘break out onto a larger scale’? 
BLS: Just, New London is great, but if you perform in the same city over and over again people lose interest. There will always be the die hard fans, and I love each and every one, but the appreciation and interest in your style of music comes in waves. You need to keep it fresh.

WC: Speaking of, your band, the Weird Beards, are coming out of a 5 month hiatus. What did you guys do during that time? 
BLS: We’ve been working on our first full length album ADED (All Day Every Day) and practicing and lining up gigs.

WC: What’s up next for the infamous Weird Beards?
BLS: The big show coming up is the 4/20 Uke fest at the Oasis Pub. What started as a celebration of our bands birth (4 years ago) is now a New London tradition and this year the line up is huge. Everyone should come.

WC: I’ll be there!
BLS: Awesome. We’ve also been talking with the talented Chris Castle about a summer tour on the East Coast and Mid-West. We also plan on making some music videos this summer and will be looking for actors, models, dancers to partake. It’s going to be epic.

WC: So should we be on the lookout for the Weird Beards name on the Whalie awards ballot next year?
BLS: Definitely. We have big things looming in the future. We’re just constantly changing and evolving and growing with no end on the horizon.

Look for an upcoming full length from The Weird Beards titled ADED! Arreaka!

CD Review: A Honey Wagon - How Come Every Time We Get Kentucky Fried Chicken It Rains?

CD Review By Adam Wujtewicz

A song that’s both easy to listen to and artistic seems like an impossible feat in today’s musical climate.  Most people believe in order to make artistic music you have to be so abrasive that you alienate people from your sound.  Most pop music is watered down formulaic garbage.  Why is no one aiming for the bull’s-eye anymore?  Is it the artist or the audience?  Does any of this really matter?  How come every time we get Kentucky Fried Chicken it’s raining outside? by Honey Wagon proves that it does matter.  It’s equal parts Kinks and Exploding Hearts; it’s careless and fun without ever being sloppy and thoughtless. 

Terry Flynn (vocals & guitar), Chris Moore (bass) and Jay Curland (drums) have raw musical energy that they’ve crafted into beautifully produced, listenable pop rock songs.  Simple, energetic, four chord rock songs are usually turned into lo-fi recordings that intentionally sound bad in order to give them credibility.  Honey Wagon took pride in this recording and labored to get a fully formed product and layered sounds to fill in all the spaces that a live show can have.  The vocals are doubled and harmonies added with great care taken to add the correct effects rather than just slapping a huge amount of reverb on them.  The guitar may be thin and jangley (ala the Jam) but again with multi-tracking and proper application of effects it loses its abrasiveness and fits into the mix. 

With all that being said about Terry’s contributions to the record,  it’s the rhythm section that makes this record complete.  The bass lines are elastic and melodic and the drums play to the songs and really accent the performance.  Instead of just being the backbone of the band Jay and Chris are more like the entire body; receiving signals from the brain and actually making them reality.  The quality of this album is typified by "Sleepwalker" and "January 33rd".  These songs will stick in your head and show you what it means to really build a recording from the ground up.

CD Review: The Hempsteadys - The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street

CD Review by Adam Wujtewicz

Punk rock reggae enthusiasts rejoice... The Hempsteadys are releasing their debut EP.  It's been a long time in the making but when you have something like 6 million and 30 band members... booking studio time is difficult.  Well the wait is over and it was worth it.

Knowing their punk rock tendencies, The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street has surprisingly clean and polished production.  All the instruments are separated and panned and you can hear them all.  This is welcome change from the mush of sound you can sometimes get from 3 guitars playing at the same time, which this band often has live.  The dynamics show through with this kind of production so that you don’t lose the ups and downs of songs like "Bad Government".  With Isaac's vocals being as gruff and forceful as they are, this song could beat you over the head verse after verse... but it's not until 2/3 of the way through the song when the band builds to match his intensity then fades out at end of the song.  The "quiet-loud-quiet" dynamic of "She Only Loves Me When She’s Drunk" is something you wouldn't expect from a band labeled as a "party band" but the huge choruses with heavy guitar strumming and skankable bass line reminds you why they got that label.

The dynamics and production are all well and good but for my money, the best part of this EP is "Judas Priest".  What this song lacks in ups and downs it makes up for with raucous wall of sound that the rest of the EP doesn't showcase but their live shows are known for. This song is full tilt from beginning to end and is still sounds clean throughout.  The crack of Matt Covey's snare drum makes this song jump, then the steady thud of the kick brings it back to the floor.

The Beat That Moves Hempstead Street is everything you'd expect from a Hempsteadys EP but with more thought put into it than some may give it credit for.  These guys have done their homework within the genre often dubbed "dirty reggae" and deserve more credit than being labeled as just a "party band".



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