foto: james niche
werd: james niche

I must have been dreaming.

Last night, legendary hip-hop DJ ROC RAIDA, took over the PA at Dub Land Underground. You can thank Drew Nye for this one.

If you want to know more about ROC RAIDA’s background you can check out the article I wrote in the archive recently, but he has been making moves on his own since the split of the X-Ecutioners and I was humbled to be able to spend some time with ROC before the show.

He sat down with me and talked about his entrance into the music world without the X-Men, his new album in the works and a few other questions I had up my sleeve you may find interesting.

I rarely get star-struck, but doing this interview and spending time with this man is probably one of the biggest highlights of recent times in my life.

I hope you all enjoyed the show as much as I did, and if you didn’t make it I hope this interview makes up for that.

Ladies and germs, I bring you ROC RAIDA.

ACT:LIVE: A lot of people know you started at a very young age DJing, but what were your favorite records to cut back and forth? DJs want to know.

RAIDA: I’d have to say "Mardi Gras". "Take Me To The Mardi Gras". Everything back then was like break beats, so I wanted to have them all, like, Good Times and all that back then. Mardi Gras was by far my favorite to go back and forth with.

I started when I was like ten years old, so as soon as I got a set I was on a hunt to find "Mardi Gras". It took me a while because it was a break beat, I would have to go downtown by 42nd Street. I forgot the name of the record store, but Biz and everybody used to go down there and get all their break records from this store.

ACT:LIVE: You grew up in Manhattan right?

RAIDA: Yep, Harlem.

ACT:LIVE: Who are some of your influences?

RAIDA: Obviously my father, who was with Mean Machine, but he wasn’t a DJ. My influences there are like Grand Master Flash, Grand Wizard Theodore, Wiz Kid, Jazzy J, Kold Krush 4.

ACT:LIVE: That’s amazing that these influences came from right in your backyard, these are legends to the world now.

RAIDA: Yeah, people hear that I’m a Grand Master and I have to remind them I’m not that old, but I was just really young when I started. I was 9-10 years old at the time, so I got a really early start.

ACT:LIVE: One of my guys wanted to see if you remembered “Tales From The Flip”, and he wanted to know if he was the only one to pick up that series from ’92.

RAIDA: Ohhhh, man. That was me and DJ The Boy. (laughs) Yeah, that’s my boy. I forgot all about that. That was a while ago. I think that was two mixtapes.

No, he wasn’t the only one, a lot of people bought that tape. People really dug that one.

DJ The Boy is a sound engineer I used to work with.

ACT:LIVE: So are you traveling solo a lot now?

RAIDA: Well, since the group split up, I have been just doing my own thing. I mean, we’re all still friends; I practiced with the guys yesterday actually because we are doing an Australian tour together in October.

But, I just want to kind of stand on my own two feet for a while. I have always been known as one of the X-Executioners, so I never really had my own career by itself. I just want to do my own thing for a while.

We all decided after our “X-Pressions” album that we all kind of wanted to do that.

We didn’t say we wouldn’t get back together; we just want to work on our own careers.

I have an album that’s going to be coming out early next year that I just shot a video for last week. I’ll be pushing that and the album at the top of the year.

ACT:LIVE: Who are some artists you’re collaborating with on this record?

RAIDA: Yeah, I got a bunch. I’ve got Juelz Ortiz, Smiff ‘N Wesson and I’m actually working on Talib. Kool G Rap, Yeah, I’ve got quite a few people on the album.

ACT:LIVE: So, who are some producers and MC’s that you are really feeling right now? Are there underground guys that you think people should be listening to?

RAIDA: Black Milk, I’m feeling Black Milk right now. You know him, he’s from the J Dilla camp. He’s a producer and MC.

I like Guilty Simpson and Sean Price too.

What I always like about them… is they always go back to hip-hop. Everything they do they try to keep to hip-hop. I like producers like that.

Like Just Blaze, Pete Rock (of course) and Primo. I’m a producer too, so I’m kind of picky on that.

I even think some of Kanye’s stuff, well, it’s ok.

I like that he understands the importance of a DJ in his show.

ACT:LIVE: Yeah, I think what A-Trak and Craze have been doing for him has taken him farther than he would be on his own.

ACT:LIVE: Who are some of your favorite MCs by the way?

RAIDA: It’s hard to say, I like so many. But guys that I really like, well, they’re not old, but they have been around for a minute. Like Talib, he really impresses me and he has some great music. He needs to be on a bigger platform.

It’s hard to get past commercial radio. If they could get the same music on maybe things would be different, but if you hear “Lollipop” a million times a day, you’ll end up liking it. It’s all marketing.

ACT:LIVE: You have been all over the world and worked with some of the biggest names in music, what keeps you grounded? Being a Manhattan man, I’m sure it doesn’t take much to keep you close to earth, but it’s refreshing to see you still humble and human.

RAIDA: First and foremost, I’m just a hip-hop fan. As crazy as it sounds, my intentions were never to make money or be famous, I just wanted to be a hip-hopper. I just wanted to be a DJ.

I’m honored to be doing what I’m doing. I see some DJs get excited to get up and have people treat them special and all that but, for me, it’s just about being a hip-hop fan first. Everything else is secondary.

I feel that if everything you’re doing is true to you and you just work hard all the rest will come to you. You don’t need to be worrying about money and whatever else is going to come.

ACT:LIVE: I totally agree. That’s what I try to express to a lot of young artists I know.

ACT:LIVE: I know you’ve been all over the world doing what you do, what are some of your favorite places to play?

RAIDA: I’d have to say Australia, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney and then there’s Japan, Germany, Switzerland.

Germany has always been a real official hip-hop place too.

It’s funny because I just did some cuts for some guys in Germany and to get the translation down and cutting to this stuff is funny. (laughs) I had to write down all the translations where the cuts were because I didn’t understand a thing. I struggled doing cuts in German.

I love traveling in general, but those are some real cool spots outside the US.

ACT:LIVE: I don’t have much more time with you, so real quick…two more questions. What’s your favorite cereal and what’s your superhero name?

RAIDA: Applejacks, for sure. My superhero name would be Daredevil.

I thank ROC RAIDA for spending some time with us and it's nice to see a guy with such status still grounded and one of us.

Last night was a blast and really still hasn't sunk in.

RICRUDE and Tim Tones opened up the evening with a few songs from the new Soul Slingers CD and ROC RAIDA had a great set with a fairly good crowd in the Dub Land basement, but what made my year was, at two thirty in the morning I participated in an old-school scratch relay with Tim Tones and the Grand Master ROC RAIDA.

It's been a while since I've been on the wheels, but I will never forget that. Thanks a ton to Drew Nye for bringing in such a great party and all the staff at Dub land. RICRUDE and Tim Tones get a big thanks as well.

I have the next issue with Build Parsells on the cover coming this Wednesday morning kiddies! Till next time...peace.

- Games

ROC RAIDA Winning The DMC 1995

Soul Slingers (Tim Tones & RICRUDE):
Native of The City (produced by Optix)
Directed by Mike Dispenza

This guy pays some bills:

Right now we're listening to:

Gangstarr "New York Strait Talk" ("Moment of Truth", 1998, Noo Trybe/Virgin)

This Coming Week On ACT:LIVE

werd: james niche

Hello again kiddies!

It's been a little while since I have gotten some good content on here, mainly due to illness and a little show maybe some of you caught at Dub land.

A little show, that was arguably the best local hip-hop show for 2008, in Rochester.

I will be writing a thank you piece next week that will include video, photos and more. Props go to Al Fox of FOX_Photography for taking hundreds of great photos, Patrick Gaffney(djb) for getting great footage and Mike Dispenza for coming through with some great video work as well.

The biggest credits go to the performers involved, but also to everyone of you that helped out in any way, shape or form. I will be sure to thank every one of you in the next article about the show.

For now, I would just like to let you know what's coming up for this next week on ACT:LIVE.

The movie trailer at the top is about a film called "Smoking Laws", by local filmmaker Matthew Ehlers of Eggwork Productions. He is premiering the film in downtown Rochester, September 7-10, next to Abilene on Liberty Pole Way.

Matthew has been making films in Rochester for the past fifteen years and I will be speaking with him about what he does, where his inspiration comes from and his hopes for this film.

This upcoming weekend, Coach Build Parsells aka The Coach aka Build will be attending the Million DJ March at The National Mall in Washington, D.C. And no, it's not at a mall, the National Mall is huge property in the monument district.

I will be speaking to him about his trip down there, his role in the movement and what he has been up to in the hip-hop community in Rochester.

I also stop into Look Ah Hookah, the hookah smoke lounge in Henrietta. They have a back to school event going on next weekend and I'd like to let you know what the joint is all about.

Till then, I'll be getting these stories ready and getting over this bad ass cold.

Keep in touch kiddies and stay posted, I'll keep you informed.

Until Sunday, Peace.

- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Apex Theory "That's All!" ("Topsy Turvy", 2001, Dreamworks)

ROC RAIDA (X-Ecutioners) Appearing At Dub Land Underground

werd: james niche

Drew Nye pulled off a good one for Dub Land Underground and Rochester.

Next Saturday, the 29th, DMC World Champion and DMC Hall of Fame Inductee, ROC RAIDA makes his way into the basement on Alexander St.

New York City born and raised, he is a founding member of the New York super-group, The The X-Ecutioners, a DJ based hip-hop group.

The group is very similar to the DMC repeat offenders and west coast counterpart, The Invisibl Skratch Picklz (Apollo, Q-Bert & Mix Master Mike), in the sense that they formed a musical group that relies solely on live scratch routines that combine to create new mixes live.

For those of you that don't know much about the DMC competitions or want to know more, here's a little information for you.

In 1985 the Disco Mix Club (DMC) was started in London as an event for club DJs to showcase their mixing skills and see who can keep a party moving the best, basically.

In that time it was not about turntablism, in fact, not a scratch was made at the first competition.

The following year, DJ Cheese introduced the "What Is It?" scratch. He then scratched his way to the title in 1986.

It was in years to come that it became extremely popular throughout the US, and regional and local events started to sprout.

During the late eighties, a group formed unlike any other to be seen in the music community. A group that only used turntables for instruments, manipulating records as a team over six Technic SL-1200s.

The Invisibl Skratch Picklz (Apollo, Q-Bert, Mix Master Mike) blew people's minds. They went on to win so many DMC Championships that they were politely asked not to compete anymore.

That brings us to The X-Ecutioners and ROC RAIDA.

ROC RAIDA followed in the same footsteps and in 1995, he captured the DMC world title. I put up a video for you guys to check out. It is ROC RAIDA's winning performance from that year.

I can't wait to see this guy next weekend. He is a legend that has performed along the biggest names in pop music, all over the world.

It will be humbling to see him in the Dub Land basement for sure.

Tim Tones and RICRUDE warm up the crowd that night.

Friday, August 29th. Dub Land Underground 315 Alexander Street.

Enjoy the video kiddies, we have a busy weekend, but there's lots more to come from ACT:LIVE in the next few weeks!!


- Games

This guy pays some bills:

Right now we're listening to:

Open Hand "Pure Concentrated Evil" ("You and Me", 2005, Trustkill Records)

ACT:LIVE Presents The Reece Q(uotable) "Quote To Self" CD Release Party/Ben Steele B-Day Bash/Hip-Hop All-Star/Grafitti Art Show!

werd: james niche

It doesn't matter how you see it, the show is going to be dope.

ACT:LIVE has put together a hip-hop and art show to be remembered for a long time in Rochester.

ACT:LIVE artist Reece Q(uotable), along with the GOONIES and Sam.I.Am, has been working hard for the past year to put his notebooks and thoughts down into his debut CD "Quote To Self"; to be released for the first time in it's entirety August 23rd at the Dub Land Underground.

"Quote To Self" is a "post-it note" type of debut, featuring experimental songs from the past year and a somewhat jazz based introduction to who he is and where he's coming from.

Reece Q is backed up by Sam.I.Am. and DJ NUGZ live, and the three of them have more energy combined than RG&E.

They blew off the doors at High-Fidelity last month and are bound to bring even more power to their set on the 23rd.

An act you do not want to sleep on.

You can hear the album live and first-hand at the show, but to quote DJ NUGZ:

"It's one of the best CDs to come out of Rochester, independently".

This album will be available at the show for $5 and at all local record outlets in Rochester.

Opening up for the evening will be WOODY of the Rochester based production crew, the GOONIES

WOODY is going to be spinning some party music to get the crowd warmed up and also premiering some of his own music. He popped out some of his new material at the High Fidelity show and it was all slick. He's got some great drum tones and if you like old school hip-hop breaks, he's got your jam.

Following WOODY will be PyInfamous and Sam.I.Am.

PyInfamous is traveling all the way from Crystal Springs, MS to get the word out on his new CD with local Sam.I.Am., "Intelligent Discussion".

PyInfamous is also of the duo, EBB & FLOW, with partner Demo; out of Boston.

Sam.I.Am. is a local producer, who at a young age is making some serious connections and displays a great work ethic. These guys have a very bright future ahead of them.

Next up is Ajent O from Buffalo, NY. Hip-Hop originator and party proper MC.

This man has been kicking it for a while in Buffalo and knows how to keep a party rockin'. He's got incredible stage presence and a killer attitude.

He's definitely going to be a lot of fun and he'll be coming with his DJ.

What else can I say about the next artists on the line-up that hasn't been said in their review earlier?

The Soul Slingers are on the stage August 23rd.

They just released the mix CD, just finished the video and have been on fire here in Rochester.

Get down and see these guys. Tim Tones and RICRUDE are another act not to be slept on at all.

RICRUDE is well known for his work with Filthy Funk over the years and Tim Tones is well known all over town for towing his tables around like a security blanket. (The man is everywhere with the 1s and 2s)

Right before Reece Q, Mr. Mumblz(hip-hop, turntablist ninja), will be lighting up the SL-1200s with a turntable set that will set you right for the night.

Reece Q(uotable) will be closing the evening but that's not all that ACT:LIVE has in store for the evening.

There will be food and drink specials for everyone, but more importantly, there will be some killer art on display and for raffle.

Local graff artist Downer has painted an amazing stage design for your viewing pleasure and artist Ryan Smith will be displaying his unique brand of modern art as well.

The painting below is a 5'x3' painting done by GAMES for the Reece Q album photo shoot.

This painting will be available by raffle at the show.

The tickets will be priced at 1/$2 or 2/$3. Look to the merch table for tickets and information at the show.

Alexandra Fox(above), of FOX_Photography, will also have a few pieces available for viewing and purchase at the show too.

And I can't forget Ben Steele and The Super Negro Brothaz. Ben Steele is celebrating his birthday that evening and The Super Negro Brothaz will be entertaining the crowd mid sets and keeping you busy.

All in all, a lot of artists and musicians have been working long and hard to ensure an amazing show next Saturday.

ACT:LIVE will be presenting more events in the future, but this is the first one. The birthing event, if you will.

In the future, we want you to know that when you see the name ACT:LIVE attached to an event, you know it will be good.

We're bringing hip-hop back people. Real hip-hop.

Rap - Lies = Hip-Hop.

For more information go to any of the pages linked here in the article or contact us at

18+ $5/$7

Peace kiddies, we will see you at the show!

- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Wu-Tang Clan "Hellz Wind Staff" ("Forever", 1997, Loud Records)

This article is powered by:

Marc Stretch, Prozack Turner & Foreign Legion

werd: james niche

"Life's as good as you want it to be/I ain't no thug, I'm a man of the streets"

- Prozack Turner (Man of the Streets, The Secret Knock)

"I hate your record/You're a fraud and you're faker than a no blood for oil bumper sticker on a Navigator/I love music, I hate the music business/It's more depressing than an orphan on Christmas"

- Prozack Turner (Piano Banger, The Secret Knock)

It's the attitude and lyrics like these that have kept me listening to these guys for years now.

I know they aren't from Rochester, but with the help of ACT:LIVE, Foreign Legion will be crashing the Rochester hip-hop house party within the year.

Fresh off of a European tour and in the process of promoting their new label, Hunger Strike Records, Foreign Legion (Marc Stretch & Prozack Turner) have released "The Secret Knock" EP to hold everyone over until the release of their "Night Moves" LP.

If you go to their website, they are offering a free copy of the vinyl to anyone that gives a good review of "The Secret Knock". I couldn't care less about that. (even though I rocked the "Kidnapper Van" vinyl, from 2000, until it broke)

I care more about getting the east coast informed on one of the most talented and hard-working duos in hip-hop. West coast style.

I first picked up their 2000 release, "Kidnapper Van: Beats To Rock While Bike-Stealin'", at Skyehigh while record shopping years ago and loved that vinyl ever since.

It's not only the presence that these guys possess, but the lyrical content and subject matter is something everyone of you in the game can relate to, just take the lyrics to "Full-Time B-Boy", for instance:

"Prozack was rocking mics when Michael Jackson was still black/way back/before it was hip to flip scripts/And kids who packed heat in the street, well, they were suckers"

"Another day/searchin' my ashtray for change/my neighbors see me broke as they look at me strange"

"They don't understand it takes more than mic skills/and rhymes don't mean a thing if you can't pay your bills"

Lyrics to make you laugh, lyrics to live by in the hip-hop game.

They have had a couple different DJs in their reigns over the years like, DJ Flip and DJ Design, but these guys have stood strong on their own through lost label offers, empty promises and the ups and downs of life in general.

Fast forward from 2000 to 2008, when they opened the doors of Hunger Strike Records to the world.

They have seen record label offers come and go, they have seen the same labels rise and fall, so they decided to do their own thing. I think that was the right decision for sure.

"The Secret Knock" is no exception to their witty writing style and message to the music world that this game is nothing about glitz and glamor, but more about hard work and staying true to your roots, friends and art.

Foreign Legion is a great example to all you hip-hoppers in the game on how to stay up, work hard, do it yourself and most importantly, have fun and don't take yourself so seriously.

I'm looking forward to hearing the new album, "Night Moves", but until then you can go to their website and download "The Secret Knock" and get your FL on. It's a great CD produced by G.Koop, IntroBeats and Prozack Turner.

Here's a little bit about Marc Stretch, straight from Hunger Strike Records.

"Imagine one of those little circus clown cars that seems to have an infinite amount of interior space. If you could stuff Rick James, Biggie Smalls, Richard Pryor, Stevie Wonder, Redman's Uncle Quilly, Malcolm X, Sho Nuff (of The Last Dragon), and Lando Calrissian inside... what would a conversation in that car sound? Sit down with Hip Hop's Rubik's Cube, Marc Stretch, and you may just find out.

Grandson of a hog farmer... son of a U.S. Army sergeant... Stretch is no stranger to hard work or bacon. As a true member of Hip Hop culture, Stretch has been an active practitioner of all the elements. A B-boy, graf writer, M.C., and [most recently] a D.J. Whether it be rocking a circle or rocking a stadium crowd, Marc Stretch comes to play hard.As a member of the Northern California super-group, Foreign Legion, Stretch has managed to go further than any of his therapists or guidance counselors ever thought he could. He's rocked a myriad of events and locations, both at home and abroad. He's graced the stage with such greats as Gangstar, KRS One, Ice T, Masta Ace, Pete Rock, Sheilds & Yarnell, Willie Tyler & Lester, Gallagher and Charo, just to name a few. Rumor has it that he was actually supposed to be the original Arnold Drummond but had to drop out of the role after a big wheel stunt went freakishly wrong.

Fast-forward 20 years later… after a whirlwind set of world tours with Foreign Legion and The Fabulous Legionettes, Stretch took the time out to devote his energy to another passion of his ... women straight of the penetentary that wear doo-rags... after he was done with that, he decided to add djing to his repertoire. Always a student of Hip-Hop, Marc quickly began to show prowess and skill with that as well.And this brings us to present day. As a member of many different groups, Marc Stretch has proven to be one thing... consistently excellent. Whether it's rocking a mic or ripping the wax, Stretchito will give you what you need or your money back."

And a little bit about Prozack Turner straight from Hunger Strike Records.

"When the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson made his famous comment about the music industry being a place where "good men die like dogs," he struck a chord with a long list of musicians who had every reason to be resentful over how frustrating the industry can be at times. There are many sad stories on the music industry's boulevard of broken dreams -- the aging R&B songwriter who winds up working for an HMO because he isn't getting the royalty checks he should be getting, the folksinger who thought she had it made until her label hired a new A&R person who didn't share the previous A&R person's enthusiasm for her work. But thankfully, many talented artists keep plugging away despite major setbacks. For example, California rapper Prozack Turner (of Foreign Legion fame) was dealt an unkind blow when, in 2003, the Universal Music Group acquired the music division of DreamWorks (which he was signed to at the time) and his solo album, Death, Taxes, and Prozack, was shelved (although bootleg copies were circulated in hip-hop's underground). Despite being understandably soured on the music business, Turner went on to record another solo project, Bang a Thon, and released it on his own label, Hunger Strike Records, in 2006 -- and it's a good thing that he did because this is a solid hardcore rap/alternative rap outing that shows a strong affinity for the b-boy experience of the late '80s/early '90s but does so without sounding dated (by 2006 standards). Turner has been quoted as saying, "I like to write songs rather than just rhymes," which is an accurate statement because instead of simply flowing aimlessly, the West Coast MC usually tells some type of story whether he is rapping about the challenges of touring ("I Wanna Go Home"), social problems ("World's an Uproar") or adult film star Adriana Sage ("The Ballad of Adriana Sage"). The latter isn't raunchy; instead, Turner's ode to Sage is surprisingly thoughtful and finds him wondering what she is like as a person off-camera. Actually, the tune's thoughtfulness is not out of character for Turner, whose healthy balance of fun and intelligence serves him well on this memorable solo disc."

Foreign Legion has had a slue of videos and singles over the years, so I thought I would leave you all with a little taste of that.

These guys will be all over the US for the next year, DJing, MCing, smashin' your girl and crashin' the party; all to promote the new label and new projects in the works.

ACT:LIVE was working on bringing them here for an October date, but that will be pushed back to the winter or spring for a big show here in the ROC.

I urge you all to check out their MySpace pages for music and check the label out online before they come. Those links have been highlighted above in the article.

The music video "Hungry" from Prozack Turner's album "Bangathon"

This is the single "Full-Time B-Boy" from Foreign Legion's album "Kidnapper Van"

Here's an interview with Prozack Turner you should find interesting:

Hope you like it kiddies...peace.

- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Reece Q "Acid Key" ("Quote To Self", 2008, ACT:LIVE MUSIC)

This article is powered by:

For advertising information contact us at

Soul Slingers The RICRUDE Mix CD: Review

werd: james niche

Last month DJ/Producer Tim Tones and MC RICRUDE unleashed the fury of the Soul Slingers Mix to the Rochester hip-hop community and let it tear up the yard.

This CD is 25 tracks of the most intelligent, well put-together, street beating, wax-cutting, blunt laced tracks I have yet to ever hear out of the ROC.

Mastered by Tim Tones but produced by Rochester's dream team, it features songs from the most intelligent minds in hip-hop this city has yet to hear in the hip-hop community.

WOODY, Optix, Husky, Pasadena, Tim Tones and more round this mix out to the perfect circle it forms.

Favorite tracks include "Native of the City", "Joy Ridin'", "Now or Never" and the intro.

It's a well balanced blend of local producers and mixes and cuts by our man Tim Tones. Tim did a great job of keeping the CD upbeat and constantly flowing north, just like the Genessee.

There are a few live tracks recorded with Filthy Funk at the end of the disc that really highlight RICRUDE's live abilities as well.

In some ways, this CD has been years in the making and it has been well worth the wait. The Soul Slingers mix is everything I have wanted to hear out of a hip-hop production here in Rochester, and more.

There are creative little interludes in the mix like all the local artists that call up and give shout outs between tracks and the interludes also highlight the turntable skills of Tim Tones. This CD is Rochester. Period.

I cannot think of a mix that better represents the ROC or the people working hard in this city to make musical magic happen.

I rate CDs on a scale of 1-5 elements, as in Chinese lore.

Wood, Earth, Metal, Fire and Water.

This CD rates at 5 out of 5. It has every element. Especially the element of Fire.

You can pick up this CD at The Reece Q CD release party and anywhere else Soul Slingers are performing. They can also be purchased at The Record Archive and online.

Big, HUGE props to everyone involved in the mix and especially to Tim Tones and RICRUDE for pouring their heart, soul, lack of sleep and honesty into this production.

This CD needs to be heard nation-wide. Period.

Go out and get it today. Peace.

- Games

Soul Slingers in association with Filthy Funk hooked up the new "Native of the City" video. This video is off the hook for a local video. These guys are killing it across the ROC. GET THIS DAMN CD!!

This article is powered by:

Right now we're listening to:

PyInfamous/Sam.I.Am. "Greetings" ("Intelligent Discussion", 2008, Indie)

The Dead Catholics Interview Part 1 (yeah, they're that cool)

werd: james niche

Lest we be damned: Practical innovations in destroying fingertips and hating. Everything.

That should be the title of the new CD by The Dead Catholics. Rochester's newest bishops in the diocese of grunge.

However, it is not. "ROC FLOUR" is the title and I'm sure it's either a name dedicated to the city from which they formed or a twisted homage to the status quo rock bands swarming the airwaves.

It's grunge, it's stripped down and minimalist. Imagine Steve Albini from the mid-nineties meets Ric Ocasek and The Cars. Progressive grunge. No, seriously.

Listening to these guys and imagining the live show takes me back the old days of unwashed hair, torn flannels and homemade t-shirts with "Flipper" scribbled on them.

Those were the days. The days of carefree guitarists and wacky vocals that somehow made you bang your head to the angst emitting from the amps.

Singer and guitarist Jacob Richard, Drummer Ryan Z. and soon-to-be ghost bassist Justin Willoughby all sat down with me for a tender heart to heart on how they really feel about things as well as the new album and the show the CD release party at Monty's Krown on the 16th of August.

This interview was so much fun and these guys...well, actually just Justin, had so much to say that I am breaking this interview into two parts. This is the collective band interview, and coming up in two weeks is the "I Hate List" from Justin Willoughby and gang.

Enjoy it, if you like you can have a doggy bag if you can't finish it.

Justin HATES it.

ACT:LIVE: Let's roll boys. Let's get some introductions.

Jacob: I'm Jacob, I play guitar and sing in The Dead Catholics. I'm originally from Webster.

Justin: I'm Justin and I used to play bass. Well, I still do for the time being until the release party. I also recorded the album with them. I technically already left but I'm going to stick around for the release, I also made the flier which is awesome.

Ryan: I'm Ryan and I play drums. I'm also from Webster, I grew up with Jacob. We've known each other a long time.

ACT:LIVE: How did you guys hook-up, the three of you?

Ryan: Well, we had always hung-out even after high school, then I started playing drums about six years ago and Jacob wanted to start a new band; things evolved from there.

Jacob: I primarily played bass before this and Ryan was playing guitar. Once he switched over to drums, I started also getting bored with dead-end guitar players in Rochester, so I would end up writing songs. You run into guitarist problems a lot here.

Ryan was always there for the good times and the bad. If we were gay it would totally make a lot of sense. (laughs)

ACT:LIVE: How was the writing flow as you got together? I take it this was a good click for you Jacob.

Jacob: It was pretty good, I had pre-written a few songs, so we gave those a whack to see how they would turn out. They came out good, we didn't think they could get any better so we called it a day.

It all sounded just like it does now, just sloppier.

We tried to raise the bar in a few places without letting anybody know it. We like to keep the expectations low, if you know what I mean. We figure somebody out there is going to like it if we do.

ACT:LIVE: Why are you leaving Justin? You guys seem like you work well together.

Justin: I've been playing with them since February 2007 which just seems like forever with these guys. They fired their last bassist a week before they had a show because they are so awesome like that. That's where I stepped in.

I'm stepping out now because I HATE these guys. It's such a pain in the ass driving all the way out to practice.

Kidding aside, I'm trying to start a company and finishing school so the time I can devote is slim to none. I'm also trying to film a skate video, things are just ridiculous.

ACT:LIVE: Who's in the skate video?

Justin: Just me and a few of my friends. We made a video for the Krud Co. film festival and we won best soundtrack. It doesn't mean it was the best on the world, but it was pretty sick.

It was at Extreme Skate Park in East Rochester and Krud Co. had the place shut down for the day for a couple hundred people to skate, watch videos and have an awesome time.

ACT:LIVE: You guys still looking for a replacement bassist, because this guys a prick. (laughs)

Jacob: There's a couple guys that we want to try out, but it's just a matter of finding the time to connect with them.

It's a shame because we really are going to miss Justin. I probably shouldn't say that though. I kind of regret it now.

We've been busy working on the CD and I've been working a stupid shift all summer, so it has taken a lot of time away from me to take care of things like finding a new bassist. That will all be changing soon. I'll be able to put more focus and time into the band the way I would like.

ACT:LIVE: It's been tough enough just to find time to sit down with you this week, I can imagine the auditions time is even tougher.

Jacob: I think we've had maybe one rehearsal together in the past month.(laughs)

I think all we're going to have a is a quick warm-up that day. We hope to remember our parts.

Justin: We spent so long recording that album that when we get together it just happens now. We don't even have to rehearse. We know it's as good as it's going to get. We'll play a song half-way through and figure that sounds decent.

It's so loud at the show, so even if it doesn't come off decent, no one will know.(laughs)

No one brings earplugs so you know if they say it sounds good, they're lying.

ACT:LIVE: What did recording entail for you guys? Where did you record?

Justin: We recorded at 4th Floor Studios, which is actually on the 3rd floor.

It was at this dude's house, it was a pretty sick attic set-up. The floor boards were pretty sketchy too, like a punk band was kicking the shit out of the floor. Somehow the nails in the floorboard underneath carpet were coming up, which means you would really have to go out of your way to screw that up.

Jacob: It was at Paul Rusinko's house. He's one of our friends on MySpace.

We should be getting all the rest of the material, like artwork, this week.
We only have a few days left and I'm starting to realize we need that stuff soon.

Justin: It might be a "make your own cover" CD and we'll sell it for half price.(laughs)

ACT:LIVE: How many tracks on this album?

Jacob: We've got ten tracks and it's about fifty minutes long.

ACT:LIVE: Did Paul Rusinko do all the mixing and mastering?

Jacob: Yeah, he did all that. We were pretty happy with the way things came out. All the songs have a nice presence but they didn't sound too polished and that's what we wanted. We wanted it to be a little rough around the edges.

ACT:LIVE: Who did the artwork for the CD?

Jacob: Justin and his wife primarily.

Justin:What did he ask?

Jacob: He asked about the artwork, tell him about the artwork.

Justin: What am I supposed to say?

Jacob: He and your wife, you worked on the artwork...and...well, anyways, the cover has a picture of a smashed up car.

Justin: Oh, yeah.

Jacob: Most people don't get it at first, what the picture is.

ACT:LIVE: What was the image you were going for?

Jacob: We were going for a dingy, bland thing. We took a few photos in the old subway.

Justin: Because if you are band in Rochester, you have to do at least one shoot in the subway.

ACT:LIVE: Who are some of your influences as musicians?

Jacob: (lights his cigar) I guess Type O Negative. I'm a true fan because I'm afraid to admit they are my favorite. I'm obviously influenced by Nirvana, but I really like Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. I've also been listening to a lot of Mars Volta. As far as singers that influence me, Joe Cockers back up singers. I don't know what I just said.

I also like Anal Cunt.

Justin: The kind of stuff I like is ridiculous. I'm going to say it, but you won't believe it.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, KC & The Sunshine Band, Peter Gabriel. It's funny because I hate way more music than I like, the stuff I like is so random. I even like gangster rap like N.W.A., old school shit like that.

Jacob: Justin is more of a jazz musician than a bass player. Does that make sense?

Jazz musicians, by default, are always awesome bass players.

Justin: Yeah, a lot of times I like to put the bass out there in a song where the rhythm guitar part might be.

Ryan: As far as musicians that inspire me, the drummer from TOOL and A Perfect Circle, those two are big on me. I listen to a lot of Failure and Mars Volta too. Jake and I like a lot of the same music.

I like more metal stuff too, like Cradle of Filth and Lamb of God.

I've only been playing for six years, so playing on that skill level has been difficult because drumming is so physical that if I had started earlier I would be a lot better. If you start younger you are trained into the motions.

Justin: You have to remember that Ryan is also 93 years old.

Ryan: I definitely like music that's darker and varies in timing. I like to get away from the 2/4 rock beat.

ACT:LIVE: What was the last show you guys have been to, local or otherwise?

Ryan: The last show I went to was a local show, it was one of my co-workers sons was in a band and I wanted to check them out. Sad thing is, we left before he even played because we had him confused with another guy in a different band and thought that was the show. Oops.

A lot of the bands were emo-punk ish and I'm not really a fan of the whiny radio stuff. The music is ok, but the singers are always whining about something.

ACT:LIVE: Is it tough getting people into your retro grunge style? Today's music is so stylized and pretty in a lot of ways. Commercial rock is, anyhow.

Ryan: Yeah, it is hard. That music is what's popular now, the only people checking those bands out anyways are high schoolers. That's the majority of what I see.

At the same time, music is so subjective and people like what they like. We have a crowd that really likes us and that's cool to me.

From an indie perspective, I think our band is something that a lot of people like because it doesn't sound like anything you would hear on the radio. It comes through that we really do appreciate music. It's not always predictable.

We're all artists and we all love the art of it. We make music that we will enjoy.

Justin: I genuinely hate my music. I generally hate everything. Find something, anything, I bet I won't like it. (laughs)

ACT:LIVE: I'm almost running out of time for this session, so let's get that album plug going...when is the CD release?

Jacob: August 16th at Monty's Krown. We are playing with Travelator, another Rochester band. I recommend you check them out at the very least. That band is really good..

All right fellas, I'm giving you a shout out and thanks via the web here. That interview was really fun and I can't wait for part two.

Check out The Dead Catholics and Travelator at Monty's Krown on Monroe Ave, August 16th and pick up the new CD from The Dead Catholics "ROC FLOUR".

Part Two: The Justin Hates List, is coming in two weeks kiddies!

Coming up this week is the Foreign Legion "Secret Knock" EP review and the Soul Slingers MixTape CD review. I also sit down with Sarah at Utta Clutta on Park Ave, catch a buzz and discuss the current state of Rochester and the arts. Till then kiddies...PEACE!

- Games

Right now we're listening to:

Nirvana "Very Ape" ("In Utero", 1994, Geffen)