Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Living Laser interview vocalist: Jay. February 15th. 2012.

Vista: Just the basic stuff: Who's in the band & who's doing what?
Jay: Four dudes - Casey (bass).  Jay (vocals).  Mike (guitar). Jeff (drums).

Vista: Give us some details of how the band came about? Year formed, what has been released so far & what's still available? I know you guys released some songs on cassette ( and digital download} which is awesome. Talk a bit about the ideas & reasons for a cassette release over a cd release? Are there any plans for a cd release? How many cassettes were pressed so far?

Jay: Hmmmm…maybe we first played in April 2010? Not sure. Pathetic, I know. We recorded our first set of songs before we had played our first show and that eventually became the "Ragged Glory" cassette. We wanted to do a cassette because we felt it went with the “feel” of the band. We grew up on cassette demos and had tape mixes from bands we loved, so we wanted to have that experience back. Not exactly sure how many have been pressed…but, I believe there were only 100 of the original yellow cassettes. No plans for a cd release unless some person/label wants to pay for one. 

Vista: Talk a little bit about the lyrics you are dealing with? What are some topics & are they just personal-type things going on or are they political stances or just outer space thoughts? Ha! Also, are all you guys involved in the writing of the lyrics or do just one of you guys handle that end? 

Jay: I write the lyrics. The tones of the songs def have a personal, social/political theme to them. As far as the political tone, I’m hoping they don’t have any specific partisan association to them. I write more about the socioeconomic world of “haves” and “have-nots.” The talkers and the workers. Many of the song themes definitely have a pro-labor, pro-workers rights message, but I want some interpretation to be in the hands of the listener. We also have many songs just about my life or our rad friends, I even wrote one about my dog, Lucille. 

Vista: Musically, how do you guys go about writing the music portion of songs? Are there main writers for the band musically? To me, it sounds like a lot of free-flow ideas going on both musically & lyrically? 

Jay: Usually the dudes work on song ideas and then toss them my way to write the lyrics. Everyone helps create the songs, but I think the other guys would agree with me in that its def Mike’s original vision. The original idea for the band was Mike’s and he def writes most of the parts…especially good mosh riffs. The sound is overall free-flowing, although it comes from a specific “golden-age” type place. 

Vista: I know you guys just got done with an e.p. titled "Versus Pigs". Where did the title come from & what does it represent { if anything}? Tell us about these songs, how many are on them & what format are you guys gonna release this on? Where did you guys record these songs & how long the overall recording take?

Jay: I was worried the title would be specifically associated with cops. But, its more than that, who I am really referencing are the fat rich pigs that have always, and will continue to, run business and our government.  Its under 10 minutes of music. It rocks. It will be coming out as a 7inch on Trip machine Labs. We recorded the instruments at Jeff's and then was sent it to the great Dean Baltulonis of Wild Arctic studios, who produced and mixed it. 

Vista: Where did the sample come from in the beginning of song, "Versus Pigs"?

Jay: It's from a Twilight Zone episode called "the obsolete man".

Vista: Who are you guys influenced by - both musically & lyrically? I definitely hear a Bad Brains influence which is great! But tell us about the influences you guys are pulling from? Also, speak a bit on behalf of the other guys in the band...Who are they influenced by musically?

Jay: Lyrically I’m influenced by the writings of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky. Musically, for me, def HR from Bad Brains, Fugazi, Eddie Sutton from Leeway, Sting’s Police stuff, Paul McCartney, Brian from Robots And Empire, Chaka from Burn, Chuck D. I know Mike, at least for Living Laser, is influenced by Bad Brains as you said, Cro-Mags, Gorilla Biscuits, Black Flag, Supertouch, Minor Threat, Burn, Fugazi, Inside Out, 108, Suicidal Tendencies, 90s bands from Poughkeepsie, NY and Orange County, NY…random skate hc/punk style bands. We all love Public Enemy a lot too. 

Vista: I know you have been in a handful of bands over the years. Mention those bands & also the other guys as far as past projects? 

Jay: Many bands I’ve been in, and the other guys bands, all have members that overlap and are in each other’s bands too. We have a group of “go-to” musicians and we are all huge fans of each other as people and artists. Some bands we’ve been involved with are "Robots And Empire", "Casket Architects", "Shall Destroy", "Spare Parks", "Glass Half Empty", "Medallions", "Document", "Forefathers", "Pool Party", "When Dreams Die", and my 90s chug band, "Elevate". Oh wait! One you probably know is "Pimp-Style". 
Vista: Locally, what are your thoughts about the local scene? What are some good things locally & some bad things? Also, where are some of the better clubs or VFW's that you like the most to play?

Jay: We need more young blood! Everyone needs to go to all the local shows, even if you don’t like some of the bands, go to hang and make it a community vibe. Old dudes, don’t hate on the young, instead take them under your wing and teach them the history. If you get moshed at a show real hard, don’t fight a dude, instead just mosh like you’re in the Vietnam War also. Take it and give it. Don’t hate on woman at shows, I used to hate the sausage parties of the mid-90s.  As far as favorite clubs, I miss the Polish Club and the Avalon. 

Vista: "Living Laser"? Where did this name come from & is there any meaning behind the name at all? 

Jay: Comic book readers know the answer to that question.

Vista: You guys have been pretty active as far as playing out & recording. What are some of the best shows you have done so far? I think I had seen a flier for a show that you guys did in Connecticut with Underdog & 100 Demons? That must have been awesome? What are some stand-out shows?

Jay: "Supertouch", "Word For Word", and "Apes of Wrath" also played that show. That show rocked hard. Brass City Boss Sounds shows are always insane."100 Demons" rule both as a band and as dudes! I felt like someone was going to die in the mosh-pit when they played, it was awesome. Noble Destro shows in BK are always great, love playing the Wherehouse in Newburgh. Playing w/ "Shai Hulud" in a basement in Wappingers {NY} was pretty crazy. We played a really shitty house show in New Jersey once that stands out. 

Vista: Speaking of playing shows, are there any plans for touring? Are you guys able to take time out of "real life" & do any touring or are there plans for long weekends and stuff like that?

Jay: We can’t take time out from real life. We have families and real jobs/careers. We are def down to play weekends and even go on the road for a little longer possibly if the shows were worth it. We’ve all gone into debt so much touring with other bands and getting nowhere, although you’re having massive amounts of fun while doing it, these days I’m responsible for a lot more than just feeding myself. 

Vista: You have another band {Winterlong}. You play drums in that band. Which do you prefer, playing drums or fronting a band, singing? Both are literally the opposite!? Thoughts?

Jay: In "Winterlong" I sing and play drums. I prefer neither singing nor drumming surprisingly. Both expressions come naturally. 

Vista: What has Winterlong released so far & describe the style of the band. Also, who's in Winterlong? Have you guys done many live shows? 

Jay: We have a 2 song single on the internet and are currently recording a 5 song 10inch coming out on Glacial Records. Winterlong are my best friends, Nick and Greg, and I. We all sing and play an instrument in the band. We rock REAL hard.  We are a rock band, with elements of math, post-punk and shoe-gaze. We’ve played only a few shows. 

Vista: Give me your favorite bands from the following genres. Just one per genre!

Jay: C’mon John! I can’t do just one, I could do a hundred for each!
David Bowie. Motley Crue.
Metal/Thrash: Black Sabbath. Death Angel.
Rock: Queen. The Police. Pink Floyd. Beach Boys.
Pop/Top 40: Foo-Fighters. Prince. The Beatles. Hall and Oates.
Punk: Bad Brains.
Post Hardcore {shoe-gazer}: Quicksand. Fugazi. Failure.
Pop-Punk: Hate it. Post-Punk? Joy Division and New Order.
Rap: Ghost and Rae. MOP. Public Enemy. Black Star. Nas. Cormega. KRS. Boot Camp Clik. I could go forever…
Hardcore: Burn.
Metalcore: Deadguy. 

Vista: Again, you have done a good handful of bands over the last decade {and more!}. What advise would you give to any kid out there looking to start a band.

Jay: Have fun! Don’t argue over stupid stuff. Play in front of 3 people like they’re 3,000. 

Vista: Settle an argument for me. I love the Living Laser shirts you guys printed but I am in an argument with my girlfriend...Is the orange print on the blue shirt the color of the NY Knicks or the NY Mets!? Please, where do you stand on this!? Pick one to settle the argument.

Jay: Knicks!!! If the Mets ever started doing good again, then…Mets too! I know you’re a Yankee fan, but I love the Mets. I know the Mets are the worst ever, but I gotta stay true. So it’s the color of however you’re living!

Vista: What bands are you guys into these days that we should be on the lookout for, both locally or out of the area?
Jay: The only “newer” band I can think of is The Life And Times, check these dudes out if you like space rock.

Vista: As far as the writing of the songs go, do you write the music first or is the music based around the the lyrics? Is there a "set" way you guys go about this process? What is the general process as far as the creation of songs?

Jay: Nothing special, first the music, then the melodies and lyrics. 

Vista: Do you guys do any cover songs live, or just messing around at practice? Is so, what have you guys done?

Jay: We used to cover “Time For Living” by the Beastie Boys. We’ll see what else happens in the future. 

Vista: Outside of band stuff, what are some of your interests and hobbies?

Jay: Reading, playing sports, hanging with my family and friends. Believe it or not, I love my job also. 

Vista: Jay. Thanks so much for your time. We have been friends forever now and I'm happy we're both still here, still active in the music scene that we love the most! Always great to see you. Best of everything for the band & outside the band stuff.  Any final thoughts? What can we hope to expect from Living Laser for the spring/summer of 2012?

Jay: John, you rule and if it wasn’t for bands like Inner Dam and so many other locals Living Laser wouldn’t exist! I hope all is well and I get to see you soon! Living Laser will be playing and recording all summer. Book us please! – Thanks so much for the interview.

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