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Beyond Gravity: A gateway into ‘90s alternative rock

This RI-based rock band asks bold questions such as: When is it too early to celebrate Halloween? Is October 8 too early? (no). And, should a band sell socks as merch? That’s a resounding YES in my opinion! 

Beyond Gravity’s Eddy DeMelo (guitars) and Dustin Oerman (vocals and guitars) discuss managing being family men and musicians while blending ‘90s rock riffs with storytelling lyrics — all of which might make you reach for your flannel shirts.

Eddy DeMelo: Don’t say anything that will incriminate you, Dustin!

Mayte Antelo-Ovando (Motif): Oh, that’s already recorded, so…

ED: Oh no, what have I done?

Dustin Oerman: Haha!

MAO: To start, let me say I watched your “Between the Notes” show (a Motif Podcast) at the Parlour and learned a lot about your band! You mentioned your debut EP release, The Nature of your Game, the fact that y’all had been together (alongside bass player Walter Canavan, and drummer Rob White) about 2 years, and that you were hungry to get in front of crowds since Covid prevented that… so tell me what’s happened since April?

Photo by James Lastowski

ED: We’ve just been doing a lot of writing and rehearsing for the most part. Summers are always tough, because we all have kids and they want to go on vacations (this dad rock band has kids ranging in age from 3 years-old to college-age). So it was just a lot of writing and practicing when we were all in the same state.

DO: And we focused on our video for “Got Nowhere to Go”. We’re pretty excited how that came out, actually.

MAO: Say a little bit more about the video because I watched it, and I had questions! I’d love to hear what the storyline was in that video.

DO: Well, it’s about two friends — kind of hanging out in the beginning. Then one friend gets killed – he gets mugged. But really the song is about friends moving away and kind of losing track of each other — and we thought it would be really impactful if we threw a crazy twist in there, and tried to show the emotion within some of the lyrics. In the end he’s got nowhere to go, as he’s sitting on a rooftop by himself.

MAO: Since you’ve now been able to perform and share your EP, what kind of feedback have you gotten?

ED: We’ve had a great response in the last couple shows we played. We have probably almost another full-length album’s worth of songs, either fully written or just about done. We’ve gotten to play those for some folks, and the response we’ve received has been good so far, which is pretty encouraging.

DO: We’re excited- we probably have about eight or nine songs that we could go to the studio right now and record… everybody seems to be releasing singles lately so we may want to do that.

ED: We have one single that didn’t make it in time to the EP, but it’s just about done. It’s just being mixed. Now, everything’s tracked- we had to re-track it and hoped to release it in April but it’s still not done.

MAO: Oh yes, the single you mentioned at the Parlour was “Paradise”, is that it?

ED: Yeah, you were paying attention!                                                 

MAO: Yes, haha, I was. There was something y’all said that I wanted to revisit. You’re all married and have children of varying ages. You mentioned that when you love something you stick with it — it being music.

ED: I don’t think that’s changed in any of us… when you’re a little bit older, and you’ve got kids and careers, you go through seasons where you have more time that you can dedicate to it and others where you wish you could, but you can’t. I don’t think it’s ever for a lack of passion or lack of wanting to do it. I think if anything, it’s just that sometimes there are other responsibilities that take precedence.

DO: It’s an interesting dynamic, having a family, being married, or being in a relationship, trying to be a homeowner, grow your career — and still have your passion for music on the side — trying to put 100% into it. I find that I go through stages where life can be overwhelming but then all of a sudden, I sit down and I play my guitar — write a new song and I’m like, ‘oh, man, I gotta get this to the band!’ And then the passion starts all over again. It’s funny, my father-in-law had this belief that people kind of lose their artistry or their drive as they get older, maybe the creativity in a way — but I haven’t found that… Responsibilities change but when I take the time to sit down and find my creativity, I feel like I still have a lot to say. I think we all try to live life to our fullest as dads with our families, and then still try to put as much as we can into our music.

As the conversation continued Eddy and Dustin highlighted that even when the bandmates are not in a room together, they create new songs, melodies and parts that are then shared among them via text.

ED: Rob (drums) doesn’t really sing or write music, but he’s great at just coming up with ideas and melodies. He’ll just sort of speak or hum it into his phone, and we’ll get a voice text and then I’ll grab a guitar and work on it. Even when we’re not really practicing, it’s something we’re always thinking about. I think it’s an outlet for us — to [write music]. We all have our family and work responsibilities and this is something that we do- really just for us. It’s great that people have been encouraging and supportive. But I’ll be honest, if everybody heard it and was like, “It’s terrible,” I’d think, “I’m still having fun, so I’m gonna keep playing it.”

MAO: The process of creating something is what drives all of you.

DO: Yeah, I was always a singer-songwriter, originally from Pennsylvania. I moved up here for a small sales job, but really to play at open mic nights because we didn’t really have them where I was from in PA. When I had an opportunity to move up to RI, I said, “Why not?” The music scene where I was from in Pennsylvania was very rural: Not many places to play. New England is famous for open mic nights so I would play by myself, but I always found it more enjoyable to write music with others… that aspect of being in a band and writing music together; something about that is just addicting.

ED: And, it helps when there are no real egos in the band either. Nobody’s afraid to throw in their two cents.

MAO: I’m sure. So, Dustin, I watched the video for “Got Nowhere to Go” and then saw the Parlour performance and noticed you playing acoustic guitar instead of electric — I loved it!

DO: Oh, awesome. I wrote that song with my acoustic originally, and then brought it to the band. And once again, expanded the idea and made a full-band version.

ED: Up until recently, Dustin didn’t even play electric guitar in the band. If there were two guitars, it was my electric and his acoustic and it’s only now that we have the dynamic of actually having two electrics in the band, which has been fun.

MAO: Is there anything else you want to share with people that maybe don’t know y’all or haven’t been able to go to one of your shows?

DO: I think the biggest thing about us is that we like to write music that people can latch on to and find some kind of meaning in and really enjoy listening to; we all grew up in the 90s and early 2000s and play music influenced by that, but with a little bit of a modern twist on it, I’d say.

MAO: Next Show?

DO & ED: PEM’s Halloween Rock Party at Fete Music Hall, Oct 8, 2022!

See? It’s never too early to celebrate Halloween with rock bands. The Beyond Gravity dudes and dads say so. If you’d like to follow them and see what’s next for them go to:beyondgravityband.com or follow @beyond_gravity_band and watch their newest music video: youtu.be/fYn6ANxVctA




Album of the Week: Stardeath and White Dwarfs’ Wastoid

stardeathIt can be a daunting to be related to a music superstar. Enter Dennis Coyne, nephew of Wayne Coyne, the insanely enigmatic frontman of acid-punk act The Flaming Lips. Dennis’ band Stardeath and White Dwarfs have a new album out called Wastoid and you can see the influence of his uncle throughout each track. What sets this act apart is the heavy fuzz from the bass and guitar distortions that can make your head spin. It can be tough living up to someone else’s fame, but Wastoid shows that Stardeath and White Dwarfs are looking to forge their own path.

If you have heard the Dark Side Of The Moon cover album Stardeath and White Dwarfs did with The Flaming Lips, Peaches and Henry Rollins back in 2009, then Wastoid should show a lot of similarities. There’s a great psychedelic presence on the album with each song taking you from one place to the next. Each track provides a different experience but each is a pleasant one. Staying true to their crazy and weird Oklahoma roots, Stardeath and White Dwarfs never cease to astound from start to finish with their new album. It’s groovy, fun and trippy with a taste for the abstract that comes together to form something unique and wonderful.

So the World Cup is finally over. Since a portion of your day is all the sudden freed up, dive into my top tracks off of the Album Of The Week. Maybe it’s not as fun as watching a bunch of dudes run around for 90 minutes, but it surely won’t be boring.

The jungle beats and the raw riffs of “Frequency” make it a funky number at the start and then it gets all acoustic with Dennis strumming on his six-string. It reminds me a bit of mid-90s era Blur. A wonderful example of the fuzz is “Guess I’ll Be Okay;” the guitars hit you like a stick of dynamite over a nuclear power plant and it’s my personal favorite off of the album. Cool psych-jazz goodness is all over “Sleeping Pills and Ginger Ale,” a very entrancing song that features piano chords giving it a full body.

Stardeath and White Dwarfs will be performing at The Wichita Psych Fest in Wichita, Kansas, on July 19 and at The Center Of The Universe Fest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on July 26. If you’re willing to make the road trip to one of these festivals I highly suggest you do. Hopefully they make it up to New England soon, but until then grab yourself a copy of Stardeath and White Dwarfs’ Wastoid. It’s the perfect album for the person who lives in another state of mind.

Stardeath and White Dwarf’s Website:  stardeathandwhitedwarfs.com




Album of the Week: The Orwells’ Disgraceland

disgrace

Rock ‘n’ Roll from Chicago

What do you get when a group of kids in their late teens and early 20s grab a bunch of instruments, turn the amps up to 11 and join forces with a lead singer who looks like Robert Plant? You get a rip-roaring, brain-melting rock ‘n’ roll band from Chicago called The Orwells. They have their second album, Disgraceland, out this week and it’s a doozy of a record. Each track has the right amount of grit, angst and devil-may-care attitude to give your ears exactly what they need. If Disgraceland doesn’t kick popular music on its ass in 2014, I might actually lose faith in humanity. It’s that good.

Despite being so young, this quintet has been making music together since high school. Seven years later, you could consider them music vets even though they can’t legally drink. What impresses me the most about The Orwells’ new album is the perfect combination of production quality and powerful songs. Ranging from tales about innocent teenage love, to dramatic suicide and one night stands, Disgraceland is as rock ‘n’ roll as it gets. After listening to this beauty, I can’t imagine a better album coming out in 2014.

Racist owners of sports franchises, angry middle-aged men throwing rocks at Ferraris, neo-Nazi reality TV one-hit-nevers and people talking about how World War III is going to happen by the end of the decade. We live on a pretty crazy, messed-up planet. Take a break from all the madness and ease your mind with the top tracks off of my Album Of The Week. It might not stop the impending apocalypse, but at least it can serve as the perfect soundtrack. Anyways, here goes something:

If you have long hair and you don’t plan on cutting it anytime soon, “The Righteous One” is your ideal jam. This is an anthem for youth rebellion that will have you going crazy in an instant; once you hear that hook you won’t be able to stop. Another rocker on the album is “Let It Burn;” the drumming is simply seismic as the backbone for a song about lighting up a cigarette after a one-night stand. I always love the deep tracks of an album and “Gotta Get Down” is an exception. Those dueling guitars electrify the whole song by getting louder and louder with each riff. Disgraceland is a complete masterpiece from front to back.

The Orwells will be one of the premier acts to see at Riot Fest in the band’s hometown of Chicago between September 12 and 14, which is a perfect way to finish off your summer music festival season. They’ll be going on tour with New York City punk act Skaters this fall with a stop at Brighton Music Hall in Boston on October 9. Hopefully The Orwells come down to Providence sometime and show us music fanatics what rock ‘n’ roll is all about. Until then, get yourself a copy of Disgraceland. It’ll blow your music taste away to new heights and you’ll never want to come down.

The Orwells’ website: theorwells.com



Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll! Prom in July

From Punk to Funk to Hard Rock at Dusk

Here’s where it’s at, kids! The Gentleman Sound System is presenting their second Prom Show, and this year it’s a little different. This year, DJs Tom Butts, Miles (aka Skunk), Suicide King and a couple TBA guest DJs will be spinning a vast collection of hits spanning more than just the ’80s music scene they usually cover. This year they will cover everything from punk, metal, OI!, funk ‘hard rock’ ska, and rap to everything in between.

But on top of this amazing group of DJs killing it as usual, also performing is Nailer, a multi-level slash textured sleaze band from RI with a couple of twists. Sleaze rock is the bastard child of heavy metal, a musical genre that has almost as much to do with attitude as music. The music itself is rebellious, aggressive and downright nasty. The PMRC hates it, as do your parents. They are at the top of their game when playing incredibly loud, abusing drugs and alcohol, and having sex with your daughters or wives. Their long hair that looks like it’s been washed with used motorcycle oil, black leather jackets and tight pants, and tattoos proudly displayed from head to toe are all trademarks of Nailer. They truly are the outlaws of rock ‘n’ roll.

Manning the engine room on drums is Brutus Gash, a longtime gun for hire in the New England music scene with a backbeat that combines the best of Krupa, Bonham and Aldridge. His favorite pastimes are Bud Light and Marlboro Reds. Bringing the Thunderous Bottom End is Marky RÖkker. This dude knows what time it is and the time calls for some serious rhythm. Coming from the Dirty South of RI, he’s looking for some cheap thrills and fast ladies. The Riffmaster General (aka Big Bad John) wailing on the lead guitar while providing some sweet backup vocals hails from the sleazy bordertown of Attleboro, Mass.. To get the true ’80s metal sound, you need an axemaster from that time period and he is the perfect time capsule! Fearless leadership is provided by the formidable Adam Bomb, bringing the outrageousness straight outta South Central Los Angeles. This tattooed wildman is a combination of David Lee Roth, Jim Dandy and Paul Stanley. With that wicked Flying V of his, he leads Nailer to slaying the New England crowds.

NAILER played their last show on August 6, 2013, and will reunite annually to decimate the crowds and show all the lesser bands how to RAWK! So clear your calenders, because on July 31, Nailer and Gentleman Sound System invade Dusk on 301 Harris Ave. in Providence to ensure that everyone who is in attendance leaves with their minds blown and a longing for the return of Gentleman Sound System and the almighty Nailer. Prepare thyself!

 




Album of the Week: Clear Plastic Masks’ Being There

clear

Garage Rock from New York

It’s always refreshing when you stumble upon an album by a band you never heard of and it rocks your socks off. The other day I got to listen to one from a group of Nashville garage rockers by way of New York — Clear Plastic Masks. Their debut album, Being There, is hitting record store shelves and (legal) music download websites all over the globe and I can safely say it’s one of the best releases I’ve heard this year. It’s a tad bit of punk and a touch of old-school soul thrown in a rock & roll sundae, and then you have a rhythmic cherry to put on top to make one hell of an album. It’s ideal for the hopeless romantic who wears their heart on their sleeve, so scream your heart out and get ready for a wild ride.

Andrew Katz’s howls mirror an amalgamation of Iggy Pop and Tom Waits — heart-trembling sounds that will hit you like a wrecking ball to the mind. The drumming from Charlie Garmendia is on point as well; endless amounts of power and vigor pound through each track. Vintage and timeless in its own right, Being There is bound to astound you by not letting up at all in its intensity. Clear Plastic Masks and their brand new debut is definitely going to make sure that rock & roll is here to stay.

And now for my favorite tracks off the album:

Katz starts getting philosophical on “In Case You Forgot” about life realizations and broken hearts, saying that we truly are nothing and everything. The bluesy fuzzification (is that an actual word? Because I don’t care.) of “So Real” pretty much sums up this album in a nutshell — an injection of rock & roll into a musical vein will cure any ills. Getting you high and letting it fly, “Pegasus In Glue” is groovy as hell with infectious riffs and psychedelic tinges. Being There from Clear Plastic Masks is bound to have you in a trance as soon as you press play.

Opening up for Spanish Gold, which features My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan on drums, at T.T. The Bear’s in Cambridge, Mass., on May 30, Clear Plastic Masks are bound to put on one hell of a show. If you’re in the Boston area, you’d better go. While you’re there, grab a copy of Being There. It will electrify you in a way a police officer’s tazer could never do.

Clear Plastic Masks’ Website:  clearplasticmasks.com




Mike D’s Top Five — Can’t Miss Shows of December

Five of the biggest concerts happening in RI this December

1. Saturday, December 7: A Wilhelm Scream (Partycrasher CD release!), Half Hearted Hero, The Holy Mess, The Down and Outs. $12 advance / $14 day of. 7 pm doors / 8 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. New Bedford’s own A Wilhelm Scream’s new album Partycrasher is their 6th album and is out now! This is the party to celebrate their fantastic record. A Wilhelm Scream have been at it for what feels like forever (16 years? the line between Smacking Isaiah and AWS is blurred in my head) and have been touring the world making a name for themselves as New England’s finest melodic hardcore act and influencing numbers of great bands on the way. Count New Bedford’s Half Hearted Hero and Providence’s The Down and Outs as two of them. Also on the bill, The Holy Mess, a punk rock act from Philly that reminds me of American Steel at times.

2. Monday, December 16: WBRU Birthday Bash with Grouplove, J Roddy Walston & The Business, Bear Hands. $25. 7 pm doors / 8 pm show. All ages. Lupo’s, 79 Washington St., Providence, RI. It was unfortunate in November when Grouplove postponed (all tickets will be observed, by the way), but the blessing in disguise was the new support! J Roddy Walston & The Business have been cutting their teeth across the country as support with the Drive By Truckers, Shovels and Rope and hometown heroes Deer Tick. They now seem poised to make the jump forward. Check out their video Heavy Bells on YouTube; it’s sort of a mix between a stoner’s idea of the NFL play 60 campaign and a Providence West End cult after party. Brooklyn’s most underrated indie rock ever is Bear Hands. Check out their old album Burning Bush Supper Club or request their new song, “Giants,” on WBRU. Killer show, WBRU!

3. Saturday, December 21: I Am The Avalanche, Hostage Calm, Raindance, Foreign Tongues. $11 advance / $13 day of. 7 pm doors / 8 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. The Rhode Island return of the pop punk veterans I Am The Avalanche is finally here. The last show was two years ago in a snow storm, right around the release of Avalanche United, their second album. While it took six years to release that, word on the book is that their new album is in the can and should be out early 2014! This show marks the final show of Mike Ireland, who is leaving the band to focus on Brooklyn’s finest bar The Three Diamond Door. If in Bushwick, make sure to stop by and ask Mike how often he parties. CT’s pop punk upstarts Hostage Calm, Ma’s hardcore act Raindance, and NH’s fantastic Foreign Tongues round out the bill.

4. Sunday, December 22: Math The Band, Jeff Rosenstock (of Bomb The Music Industry), Lyra, Malportado Kids. $6. 9 pm doors. All ages. AS220, 15 Empire St, Providence, RI. This show not only celebrates the release of their new record, Stupid and Weird, it’s also their 1,000th show?! By my math, my brain tells me that’s 83 shows a year, and I have only caught two of these. I am going to try to make it three. For those not familiar, the band aptly describes their new album as a vintage analog synth spazz punk odyssey. Jeff Rosenstock, songwriter for DIY punks Bomb The Music Industry is direct support. With the announcement of Bomb breaking up in early 2104, I would expect some new material for this show. Providence’s hardcore act Lyra and casio jamz band Mal Portado open.

5. Tuesday, December 31: New Year’s Eve with Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons, JP Harris & The Tough Choices, Smith & Weeden. $15 advance / $20 day of. 8 pm doors / 9 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. And Bad Rabbits, Bearstronaut, Brek.One. $30. 8 pm doors / 8 pm show. 21+ only. The Sinclair, 52 Church St. Cambridge MA. These are two great shows. I would go see Joe’s return from Nashville. There is a lot of entertainment going on everywhere, but why go downtown and see balloon animal artists and freeze your ass off looking at fireworks when you can go see live music and dance your ass off? I hear the Silks and Hope Anchor are playing on New Year’s Eve at the Parlour, but I can’t find that anywhere online so it might be fictional. Anyway, have a happy New Year!




Mike D’s Top 5 — Can’t Miss Shows of November

Top November Alt Shows in the greater RI area

1. Friday, November 8: Tim Kasher (of Cursive/The Good Life), Laura Stevenson, Littlefoot. $12 advance / $14 day of. 8 pm doors / 9 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. Tim Kasher is one of my favorite songwriters.  His songwriting themes of love, loss, substance abuse and the pursuit of whatever happiness is while having an amazing amount of self awareness makes him a modern day Bukowski. After splitting his time over the last decade-plus as lead man of Cursive and Good Life, in 2010 he released his first solo record, The Game Of Monogamy, focusing on the nuances of relationships.  His new album, Adult Film, is out now.  Laura Stevenson and one of my favorite new local bands, Littlefoot, round out the bill.
2. Sunday, November 17: Johnny Gates & The Invite. $10 advance / $12 day of.  6 pm doors / 7 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. What a journey for Johnny Gates & The Invite.  Having formed in Rhode Island in 2005 right out of being high school classmates, the band was one of the hardest working bands in the Providence indie / emo music scene, constantly playing The Living Room and Lupo’s.  After flirting with major labels and grinding to get on national tours, the band moved to Nashville in 2008 and retooled. The game changing moment for them was meeting with producer Nathan Chapman (who is known for his production work with Taylor Swift) who took the band under his wing and found them a major label and major booking agency.  Having left the pop element, the band now is a bit more  in the vein of The Wallflowers.  It was a bit of a learning curve for the band, to go from songwriting in their basement to the Nashville big business way of going in a room with a popular songwriter they have never met and collaborating. The show at The Met will be their first New England show in five years since their departure for the south.  Look for their major label debut in 2014 on Warner Records.
3.  Thursday, November 21: Boo City, Ravi Shavi, Ian O’Neil (of Deer Tick). $8. 8 pm doors / 9 pm show. All ages. The Met, 1005 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. Here is a co-bill of two of Providence’s funnest and best live acts.  Boo City is self described “Black Country Soul Rock Steady,” in other words an all-the-fuck-over-the-place party band.  While the band’s songs sound great on record (Google Boo City and Bandcamp), vocalists Tai Awolaju and Andrew “Moon” Bain’s songs really come out live. The show will also be Boo City’s world premier of their video “Nobody Knows.”  Ravi Shavi, Providence’s premier upstart garage rock band, are unstoppable when they are on their A-game. And Ian O’Neil, who is currently jetsetting around the world behind his band and Rhode Island’s own Deer Tick’s 5th record Negativity, opens what should be a great night of Providence music in Pawtucket.
4. Saturday, November 23: Bad Swimmers (Record Release Party), Little Big League, Bloodpheasant, Steve Layman, Darklands. $5. 9 pm. All ages. AS220, 115 Empire St., Providence, RI. Sean Murphy (of Rhode Island hardcore vets Verse) new project sounds like a bit more lo-fi and punk Superchunk, and that’s more than fine with me.  This show celebrates the release of See You, a new 10″ record coming out on Atomic Action.  Philly’s Little Big League remind me a lot of a more mellow Pretty Girls Make Graves.  Providence’s Bloodpheasant are on the top of my Providence bands I haven’t seen, but want to, describing themselves aptly as doom folk.  Steve Layman and one of Rhode Island’s several bands called Darklands round out the bill.
5. Saturday November 23: Blowfly, Tinsel Teeth, DJ Dave Public, The New Lewiss and his BIG BANG. $10. 9 pm. All ages. Machine With Magnets, 400 Main St., Pawtucket, RI. Where does one start when describing what Blowfly is about? My introduction was laughing at this dude’s outrageous album covers before I knew who he was.  Blowfly (born Clarence Reid) was originally a writer and producer having worked with Sam & Dave, Bobby Byrd, and KC and the Sunshine Band. He would rewrite popular hits with new, not-so-subtle sexual innuendo. What started as a spoof and side project became an underground phenomenon and was definitely an influence on future rappers such as Kool Keith and 2 Live Crew. Worth going to just to see what costume he’s wearing. Providence’s entertaining noise mongers Tinsel Teeth open.