Crash Chords Podcast Episode 2 Featuring the Wall Street Playaz

Posted in Albums, Bands, Events, Interviews, Music In General, Podcast, Songs, Tours and Live Shows on July 10, 2012 by mattstorm

This week we talk about the world’s largest drumsticks, a review of Cage The Elephant’s latest, we get up close and personal with the Wall Street Playaz and much more. Enjoy!

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Crash Chords Podcast Episode 1

Posted in Albums, Bands, Music In General, Podcast, Songs on July 3, 2012 by mattstorm

Hey guys and gals! It’s our first podcast. We talk new Linkin Park, technology, its effects on the music industry, music in general and much more!

How Eve 6 Saved My Life.

Posted in Albums, Bands, Music In General, Songs on June 22, 2012 by mattstorm

This isn’t some story about how Eve 6 collectively saved me from a burning building or anything. It’s about how a band I’ve loved since the late 90’s have gotten me through when things have been both at their worst and at their best. I remember it like it was yesterday the day I first heard them. It was back in high school.  I remember sitting at home bored one day after school and I was flipping channels on my T.V. It  was a time when MTV meant music television and they actually play music videos on t.v.  I was flipping and I stopped on MTV just as the video for “Inside Out” started playing.

I stopped and watched.  I was hooked. I went out the next day and bought their self titled record. I listened to it non stop for 2 weeks straight on my CD player.  The song “Inside Out”  has become a Rock Band and karaoke staple for both me and my girlfriend. My favorite song to this day on that record is “Open Road Song” which is always the first track on any mix CD I make specifically for long drives.  That first album was probably one of the major soundtracks of my young music life. I actually much later on in life had to buy a second copy because I wore out the first one.

I have a very close friend of mine named Tovah. We have often talked and reminisced through music. One of my fondest memories of time spent with her during one summer is completely attached to the song “Here’s to the Night” from their second album Horrorscope. It was a wonderful summer where we spent away with the rest of our Jewish youth group called USY. Every time I hear that song I always remember that time and all the fun we had that summer. A song that will always bring me happy tears every time I hear it.  It seem a long time ago but I will never forget it.

I have a friend Jonathan who I helped make a demo for back in college. Very talented guy. He played a bunch of live shows back then and one of his go to cover songs he would play was an acoustic cover of “Think Twice” from their third album It’s All In Your Head. Every time I hear that song it reminds me of how awesome those shows were and how much fun I had at them.

Right at this moment I’m unemployed and looking for work. I’ve been extremely depressed and Speak in Code their 4th album has come out just in time to pick me up. The song “Lost and Found” has become an anthem for me and keeps me moving forward.  Eve 6 is one of the few bands that I can always listen to. They fill me with happiness.  They break me down to cry. They make help me vent anger. They make me think. This band saved my life.

Wanna know more about Eve 6 check them out on Facebook here, on Twitter here and on the web here.

Song Shots: Wall Street Playaz – The Bear

Posted in Albums, Bands, Music In General, Songs on February 25, 2012 by mattstorm

“We roll in lincoln town cars, drink in downtown bars, well known from here to Mars, stock trading super stars”

Back in November I had the pleasure of being on hand for the video shoot of the Wall Street Playaz new single “The Bear” from their record The Prospectus EP.  It was a hectic and fun one day shoot that took us all over from the wooded back roads of Staten Island to New York City and Wall Street itself. The video was Shot and Directed by Geoff Celis.  The vision of the video thou was a true collaboration of the artist and the director with tons of ideas getting thrown around, even a few of my suggestions made the final cut. One of my biggest highlights of the day was when they were shooting the final dance party scene. We actually drew a huge crowd who ended up participating in the final shots.  I want to give a big thank you to the Wall Street Playaz and Geoff for letting me be a part of this.

I took a ton of pictures during the shoot you can find them on the Crash Chords Facebook page here

For more on the Wall Street Playaz you can find them at their website here, their Facebook Page here and their Twitter here

Band Bonding: An Interview with Schäffer the Darklord

Posted in Bands, Interviews, Music In General on February 14, 2012 by mattstorm

Photo by Ben Trivett

I had the wonderful pleasure of sitting down with Schäffer the Darklord recently for an interview. He is truly a sweet, nerdy, and down to earth guy and we got to talk for quite some time about many different things and I discover as a fan myself that we had a lot in common from music to video game to movies and more.  I am very thankful that he took the time out to meet with me and talk. I hope you guys enjoy reading this at much as I did doing it. Enjoy!

Me:  How young were you when you first started having an interest in music?

Schäffer the Darklord:  The very earliest memories as young as possible. My dad and my older brother were both big into music and my mom too.  My earliest memories growing up were learning lyrics to The Beatles, The Doors and Led Zeppelin.  I’ve always had an interest in music.

Me: In school were you in the choir or anything like that?

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh yea I did the whole bit. I was in concert band, marching band, musical theater, chorus and jazz band. Any of the sort of music curriculum’s in high school I could do I did.

Me: My follow up to that question is did you always want to be a musician or did you have other interests at first?

Schäffer the Darklord:  When I was young and all of my friends wanted to be things like astronauts, you know those early really idealistic ambitious when I grow up type of things? The first thing that I remember wanting to be is a special effects artist for horror films.

Me: Wow that’s really specific.

Schäffer the Darklord: I just remember seeing movies possibly the Star Wars movies even before watching horror films and that’s what I wanted to do.  Then when I was in grade school I wanted to be a comic book artist. It was always dorky pop culture stuff. It was probably middle school/high school when I decided yes I want to be a musician.

Me: Did you always have an interest in hip hop?

Schäffer the Darklord: At first it was an interest in heavy metal I had always wanted to be a heavy metal drummer and I was for several years.  I played drums in a bunch of hard rock/metal/noise bands over the years.

Me: Did you have the long metal haircut?

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh god yes and I used to play shows and have large chunks of drumstick in my hair. Oh yea the whole bit.  I always enjoyed hip hop but my more directed early aspirations were to be a rock and roll drummer.  I didn’t try to start creating hip hop till I was in college but I can definitely say I always wanted to be an entertainer and music would be a part of that.

Me:  When I saw you perform live I noticed you are true and true a performer on stage. Yyou work the crowd, you were very funny like when you perform “Do Sex” and there is a lot of fan interaction.  I think that’s great. It’s always nice when it’s a give and take.

Schäffer the Darklord:  I cultivated that because I felt that when watching an energetic rock band there is always something for you eyes to look at like if you get tired of staring at the singer you could always look at the guitarist or the drummer and there is a lot more going on visually.When I started doing a one man rap show with pre recorded tracks I always felt self-conscious like this isn’t enough and that it might not be entertaining enough and it has to be big, there needs to be something for them to look at so I just gave them my arms waving them all over the place, pointing and gesturing wildly because I was like this will work if I exude a ton of energy they won’t get tired of watching. I wanted to do something that I wouldn’t get tired of watching. When I first started doing it is when I moved to San Francisco and I had already been recording rap songs but didn’t think the songs themselves  were enough so on top of cultivating this hyper energetic persona I also did a lot of standup comedy open mics just so I could not necessarily just be funny but more so get used to working with transitional material to keep the audience engaged because I would get so bored when I would go to see rap acts and they would be like song, intro, song it was more of a recital than a performance.

Me: I mean yeah if you want to hear song, intro, song you could just listen to the album.

Schäffer the Darklord: Yea if people wanted to be watching someone standing in place they could just see a DJ and watching someone playing the songs when they could just be listening to it.

Me: Apart from music what do you when you want to relax or unwind?

Schäffer the Darklord:  Pretty much everything, I’ m a collection of stereo types, you could look at me and pretty much tell I like watching movies, playing video games I have a PS3, I read comic books.

Me: Impromptu question who is your favorite superhero?

Photo by Ben Trivett

Schäffer the Darklord:  It’s Batman. How could you not even with all the bad material out there is so much content that it just gets drowned out.

Me: Have you played Arkham City?

Schäffer the Darklord: Of course!

Me: When you’re writing what comes first the music or the lyrics?

Schäffer the Darklord: It’s different every time. There  isn’t just a formula. Often times I’ll write lyrics that I’ll just sleep on for months.  I’ll get this great idea for a song but just wait on it because I don’t have the right beat for it and then right beat comes along and it works.  Sometimes I’ll get a beat and immediately be inspired and then I’ll get the lyrics for it. Sometimes I’ll get down to the end of the barrel and I’ll just have some loose ends here and there like here are a few verses I wrote towards a concept and  a chunk of a beat that I haven’t used yet and I’ll start shoving things together till something works.  Sometimes that really works out and I end up with a song that I wasn’t expecting. Most of the time though it just ends up as a filler track on the record but yes every time is different.

Me: What is your favorite album of all time?

Schäffer the Darklord:  If I had to pick just one it would be Check Your Head by the Beastie Boys. I know even among hardcore Beastie Boy fans it’s not a popular answer. Check Your Head was the first one where they really did that combination of experimental hip hop with combined instrumental stuff and it still really felt kind of raw. I like a good record where it sounds like the artists don’t really know what they’re doing going into it and they’re figuring it out as they go. I feel like after Check Your Head it became a formula. Subsequent albums they were like “well we have X number of rap songs and X number of instrumental songs and  we have one good punk rock jam and one good kind of somber instrumental.” With Check Your Head it felt so urgent and real and I’ll just never be able to get enough of that record.

Me: How did you get involved in the nerdcore scene?

Schäffer the Darklord: I feel they adopted me. I had already been doing my act for a few years, I had put out my first record and done some modest touring to hand full’s of people who didn’t like me and were just strangers in dive bars across America just sort of chipping away at it. There was this old forum of torrents in the early days of nerdcore where all aspiring nerd rappers were posting stuff and some body on one of those forums had posted a link to something of mine and was like hey I think this guy counts cause I had glasses and I was singing ridiculous songs about Satan. I mean let’s face it even the hardcore metal bands like the black metal bands that wear all the Goth make up and they pose in the forest at night for black and white photographs are such dorks when it comes to that stuff. It’s all nerdy fantasy.  I feel some savvy early nerdcore fans pick up like that guy counts and I just found out that they had been discussing me on these forums.  I think MC Frontalot taking me on tour with him and playing for a bunch of his diehard fans across the country really drove it home.  I never had to come out and declare “Hey guys me too!” they decided for me and they were like “No you’re one of us.”

Me: What’s your favorite kind candy or chocolate bar?

Schäffer the Darklord:  I would say Hersey’s Special Dark. I love dark chocolate I know it seems like the obvious thing to say because of my stage name but I do love it. That’s my jam!

Me:  My favorite happens to be Kitkat.

Schäffer the Darklord: Kitkat’s are also awesome.

Me: Was there a specific musician or band that has influenced you and your music most?

Schäffer the Darklord: Probably the Beastie Boys. I remember being 10 years old when MTV premiered the video for No Sleep Till Brooklyn and it’s one of those things that if someone were to do a bio film about my life that would be a scene.  Me just watching it with my jaw a gape “there’s like electric guitars in this and heavy metal drums and they’re are just a bunch of goofy white guys rapping about bullshit and having fun and one guy is wearing a suit of armor!” It just blew my mind and I feel like I ended up doing what I do not just because the Beastie Boys but also because of that moment and that video. It had such an effect on me and I’ve remained a fan of them ever since.  I’ve seen them live a bunch of times. A couple of their shows still remain some of the best live music performances I’ve ever seen.  They are the closest thing I have to religion.

Me:  I have a Fan Question from Mary she would like to know Which darklord inspired your stage name?

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh! Darth Vader the Darklord of the Sith. In the original movies they never refer to him as the Darklord of the Sith but there was a picture book that came out for one the movies and it was in that where they refer to Darth Vader as the Darklord of the Sith and I never forgot that I was like “Yeah that’s badass!” So I hung on to that because I frickin love Darth Vader since I was a little guy. Yea it’s been one of my consistent interests since childhood, Darth Vader and Batman. I’ve never stopped being enamored by those characters.

Me: For me my favorites are Boba Fett and The Joker

Me: Is there anything new coming up you want to let your fans know about?

Schäffer the Darklord: I am working on a new album right now. I hope to have it out by the end of the year. We’ll see out it goes because I’m not just recording but I’m still writing. I’m on a more focused regimen now to try and get the a fourth record out this year. So I’m still writing so I’m chipping away at that and I’ll probably shoot  a couple of music video this summer and then when the record comes out there will be touring because that’s the thing fans give me a lot of grief about if I put anything on facebook on the Schaffer the Darklord profile anything like “Oh my god you guys this orange juice is delicious” there will be at least one person “come back to South Carolina!” all the time and I don’t slight them for that because I understand and I’m touched that they want to see me so badly and I understand it’s got to be frustrating when a lot of the other artist they like come through every 6 months or so and I don’t. I tend to keep my tour focused when I have a new album to support.

Me: Did you grow up in New York?

Schäffer the Darklord: No I grew up in rural Iowa and then I moved to California, I lived in the bay area for several years and then moved here.  I have only lived in New York for eight years so I’m still pretty new to New York. I mean I don’t feel like a tourist anymore but I know that I’m a bit of a newbie.

Me: What was it like in rural Iowa?

Schäffer the Darklord: We only had 1,800 people in our town. No stop lights and trackers driving on main streets.

Me: Do you miss it?

Schäffer the Darklord: God no! I miss my family. I go back and see them every couple of years but I’ll stop in Iowa on tour in the college towns in Iowa City which is on the other side of the state and still not see my family because it’s four hours away.  I don’t get to make it back to my little corner of the state very often. I went this year and it was great to see my family. Whenever I go back I just think how can I be a rapper living in new your when I grew up here?

Me: Tomgirl happens to be one of my favorite songs.  I can relate to it. What inspired you to write it?

Schäffer the Darklord: It very much is a true story. It’s a personal experience. I’ve always felt like since I’m a little bit weak and I’ve never been stereotypically macho or into typically macho thing and I don’t just mean I like comic book not watching professional football it goes deeper than that.  I felt like I spent most of my adult life smirking at rumors that I’m gay which I’m not but friend of mine had a term for it something like ” I’m not gay I just have sugar.” and I always liked that but it wasn’t quite right. I felt like I’m not the only guy that must feel like this and it was very common to hear growing up “oh that girl doesn’t like to wear dresses and she wants to play in the mud. She’s a tomboy” but never really heard it said the other way and thought that wasn’t fair and there had to be others out there who were heterosexual men who just happen to be pretty effeminate and into stereotypical girly things. I also felt this song was great opportunity to poke fun at things that are masculine and feminine. These things are all insignificant and don’t really matter like in the song I mention the I love watching America’s Next Top Model and I do I love that show but it doesn’t mean anything.  I love that show so frickin much it’s like sports to me! It’s just poking fun at if you like “this” but don’t like “this” your somehow non gender conformist. I had gotten fascinated with the idea of gender politics and I thought I’d write a song for people who felt similarly. I felt that giving it a title gave me the ability to poke fun at it.

Me: What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Schäffer the Darklord: Empire Strikes Back.

Me: Without a second thought!

Schäffer the Darklord: I feel like I should even say it because it’s so cliché to say but I’ve been saying that since I was kid that’s why it’s so well rehearsed.  I don’t know if it can truly be considered one of the greatest movie of all time because it’s hinged on two other movies and doesn’t stand alone. Within that universe of films it’s just amazing. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking.  If I had to choose outside of that I wouldn’t say this is the best movie but it definitely deserves more recognition than it got. From Dusk Till Dawn. I love that movie so much and in college I worked in a video store and it blew my mind so I forced upon all my friends. Even customers I would be like “You’ve got to see this!” to all of my friends. Unfortunately so many of them were just disappointed and thought it was garbage. I could watch it all the time and I would never get tired of it. It’s just so well paced, fun, exciting and weird. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite movie of all time but it’s one of them and definitely under appreciated.

Me: For me it’s Scott Pilgrim Versus The World.

Schäffer the Darklord: Scott Pilgrim is also a hard contender as well.  Me and my girlfriend saw it in the theater last summer and just walked out of it with our minds kind of blown and then she’s such a sweetheart she bought it for me for my birthday on DVD and we’ve probably watch a dozen times.

Me: My girlfriend had to tell me to stop at one point because I was watching it at home, on my iPod and I was listening to the soundtrack all the time.

Schäffer the Darklord: Oh my god! Me too! I was watching all the time.

Me: Do you believe social networking has hindered or helped you to connect with the fans? As well the music industry itself?

Schäffer the Darklord: It has only helped my connection with my fans. I feel like I would be nothing without the prevalence of social networking. It allowed people to share my songs which turns other people into fans and it allows me to connect with them so I can get back to them and actually interface online. I feel social networking has built my notoriety. As far as the music industry is concerned I feel social networking has all but destroyed the music industry. We don’t need it anymore. Artists can now release their stuff on their own and get it directly to their fans without the need of big labels. By enlarge we don’t them anymore. Record labels barely have a relevance except for the major labels but the smaller and middle level ones don’t really have a place anymore because of social networking.  It used to be a thing the dream was to get signed by a label but that not something anybody even really says anymore.

Me: What was the video shoot for “The Bender” like?

Schäffer the Darklord: Brutal!

Me: Really?

Schäffer the Darklord: Yeah we shot it over four days.  We did two days over a weekend and then shot the rest of it a month or two later.  There was a big break between shoots and they were just long days,  twelve hour shoots and multiple locations. It was exhausting and I suffered some injuries on it.  The bit at the end  when I’m flying around on the glowing box, I’m tethered into the back of a pickup truck and we’re just doing donuts in a parking lot in Red Hook at like three in the morning at the end of a day of shooting all day long.  Yea I definitely got beat up a bit.  The director Burke Heffner abused me a bit but it all worked out in the end. The shots where it’s close up on my face and hands are just handing me things. The pills aren’t real but all the weed is and we shot that for like 4 hours.  He told there was an alternative that we can burn that looks like smoke but I’ll be upfront I’m a total pothead so I was like we’ll do this for real.  It was a lot of fun to shoot. All of those people we great I got so many of my friends from the New York Burlesque scene. They all came out and worked the long hours and gave great performances. Burke was amazing and did a really great job. He’s a very talented filmmaker and I felt really lucky that he was interest in doing a project. I’m completely happy with how it came out but I had a rough couple of weekends. I remember the fake cocaine scenes that had people just dumping pounds and pounds of this baking soda on top of me and then going home and showering it just being everywhere.

Me: My last (and kind of cliché question) is do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring musicians?

Schäffer the Darklord: That’s a good question. I would say learn your craft before you try to make a name.  I know there so many people who just learn the very basics of an instrument or get a group together with only a couple of songs and then immediately go out and play a show and it could be because of our social network/instant gratification generation but they play one show and they’re already trying to book more shows, design a logo and make t-shirts and stickers when they would just get more benefit from spending some more time learning their craft. I feel this translates especially well to nerdcore rappers because I wrote songs on my four track for years and years before I ever did a show. I must have recorded 40 or 50 songs before I ever did a live show and they were terrible and no one will ever hear them and there are people out there who want to but most fans are never going to hear that shit and shouldn’t because I feel like there are a ton of people who have been inspired by MC Frontalot and other nerdcore rappers and they take a quick tutorial on garage band and make a song about their favorite video game without knowing how to rap yet.  Maybe go out write a ton of shitty rap songs first before you do the ones about the stuff you like and shoe horn it into the flavor you want.  I feel like learning to create your art before booking an act is key.  Get some chops before you start putting yourself out there.

For Schäffer the Darklord’s Facebook Fan Page click here

For Schäffer the Darklord’s Twitter click here

Listening to Life: New York Comic Con 2011 and Arkham City Panel

Posted in Bands, Events, Music In General, Songs on October 28, 2011 by mattstorm

I had the pleasure of going to NYCC 2011. It was from October 13th through the 16th.  This event had a soundtrack all its own.  There is the obvious music of the video games being featured– like Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2, which succeed or fail purely based on if the soundtrack is varied enough for dance fans of all kinds to enjoy. Then there are the less obvious sounds of background music from the many other types of games being shown from the familiar chime of the finding a treasure chest in the new Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword to the more classical sounding period piece music from Assassins Creed: Revelations.  These sounds being mixed with that of movie trailers playing, people chatting, and much more gave the convention a soundtrack all its own. A completely unique to this experience. During the course of NYCC 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting the guys from Kirby Krackle who were super nice and gave me their info so I could interview them.  More to come on that in the near future. Here is their Facebook to check out.

Here is one of my favorite songs by them called “Ring Capacity”

One of the things I got to see at NYCC 2011 was the panel for Arkham City.  The panelists were Game Director Sefton Hill,  Audio Developer Nick Errandale, the voice of Batman himself, Kevin Conroy, and the lead singer of Coheed & Cambria, Claudio Sanchez, who worked on the song Deranged for the soundtrack of the game. It was great to hear these gentlemen talk about one the most anticipated superhero games ever. What struck me as most interesting was listening to Claudio talk about Batman not only as someone who worked on the soundtrack but also as just a fan of the character. I could go on about what they talked about as far as the game goes, but there are other articles who have done that plenty of justice.  I want to talk in detail about Claudio and Nick’s involvement in the project. The song “Deranged” by Coheed and Cambria is the featured song on the soundtrack. Claudio talked about how excited and nervous he was when he first got offered this because he was such a fan of the content. He wanted to write this song from the perspective of The Joker and write a song that best reflected the constant struggle between The Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime and the symbiotic relationship between these two characters. Nick also talked about the symbiotic relationship between Batman and his rogues gallery of enemies; when he was developing the main theme for Batman and the other villains, the player can hear that they are only a few chords off from each other. They sound similar without being the same to play on this symbiosis between the characters.  Nick went on to talk about how some of the most iconic sounds from the universe were some of the most stressful to create, like the sound of Batman’s cape as he opens it to glide (a “wachunk” sound as he specifically called it).  Listening to the main theme now, as I write this article having completed Arkham City, brings back a rush of emotions I felt playing the game and makes want to run over to my Xbox 360 and pop it in again. That is powerful song writing.

Here is “Deranged” check it out:

And this is the Main Theme of the game:

All in all, New York Comic Con 2011 was an amazing experience and I very much look forward to being there again next year.  I’ll leave you with this picture of my friends and I cos playing as some of the cast from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. 

Song Shots: Blink 182 – Up All Night

Posted in Albums, Bands, Music In General, Songs on October 2, 2011 by mattstorm

“Let me get this straight, do you want me here? As I struggle through each and every year. And all these demons, they keep me up all night.”

Blink 182’s new album Neighborhoods is out and the new single “Up All Night” is music to my ears. Pun intended.  I love this song.  The heavy drums rev you up and the melody and lyrics keep you hooked.  It’s different from what you would expect from Blink initially but for me personally it’s a welcome change. Their sound has sprinkles of the best parts of the Blink’s style both past and present. They have big shoes to fill with their first studio album in 8 years but this song is definitely a great sign of what’s to come.