Monday, April 18th, 2011

Emerging Artist Interview: Blacktop Kids

Blacktop kids are a punk band based out of Monroe Township, New Jersey. Its members include Max Giaccone on vocals, Sam Maynard on lead guitar and vocals, Steve Blish on bass and backing vocals, and Dylan Maynard on drums. Blacktop Kids formed in February of 2010 with a true passion for music and the punk genre in general. With influences such as Lifetime, The Loved Ones, The Bouncing Souls, and Paint it Black, The Blacktop Kids are committed to making their presence felt on stage and bringing the old school feel back into the punk scene. Whether it is playing basement shows in New Brunswick or in the local VFW hall. Blacktop Kids bring it every time. 
Blacktop Kids have just released their first album, “Right In The Street”. It was recorded at Little Eden Studios in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was recorded and mixed by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls. The album artwork was done by Zak Kaplan. 
1. What was the first record/cassette/CD that you owned and how did it change you?
Max: It was the SpaceJam soundtrack on cassette. I really don’t know how it changed me. I got it for Christmas and played it over and over. The first CD I bought though was Sum 41’s “All Killer, No Filler” and that got me into the music I’m into today. 
DYLAN: Well, I can remember buying the Marshall Mathers LP (Eminem) in 2nd grade. I didn’t really understand most of it and the actual controversy behind it, but eventually it taught me the impact one person could have with words or music. Eminem got the entire world to pay attention to him and remains to be one of the greatest artists living. The album is also my favourite rap album of all time.
SAM: - Most likely the same as Dylan’s answer
Steve: Coolio/Gangster’s Paradise single. I asked my father if was ok to curse because Coolio did in his song. He said no, so then and there I knew it wasn’t appropriate to swear in public. 
2. If you could pick any musician's brain over a beer, who would it be?
MAX: That is an extremely tough question. I have so much respect for so many different musicians. I would probably go with Jesse Lacey though I think I’d be at a loss for words with him. I just think the way he writes songs is amazing. You have to really dig for some meaning, but can still relate to it on a personal level. If not him though, then probably Tom Waits.
Steve: - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
DYLAN: I would definitely want to pick the brain of the late Johnny Cash. The fact that he made music from the 1950’s up until his death in 2003 is amazing. He’s definitely one of my all time favourite artists.
SAM: - Probably the legendary Boss. He has a very majestic writing style that is so simple and at the same time very poetic. I mean this musically and lyrically. He has always been a huge source of inspiration in my writing and my life in general.
3. What would the name of your band's biography be?
MAX: The Tank Top Kids.
SAM: Blacktop Kids: 50% poor, 25% bearded Italian.
DYLAN: I’m not quite sure what exactly it’d be called, but I’m sure it would have to do with us being Friends, from NJ, and poor; maybe “The Poor New Jersey Friends that started a Punk Band” is that long enough for a title?
Steve: - Bearded Twin Love
4. Which musician would you be most comfortable dating your mom?
MAX: Well, she loves Steven Tyler and that’s why my middle name is Tyler. So, I’ll just say him. 
SAM: - My mom is happily married.
Steve: - Dave Grohl
DYLAN: My father, he has sung in countless bands all his life and he already dated my mom, and married her, although my mom would probably answer Springsteen ha.
5. Name your dream tour: up to 5 bands, dead or alive.
MAX: I would want the set to go from bottom to top. It’d be epic.
Explosions In The Sky.
Brand New.
Tom Waits.
The Bouncing Souls. 
Against Me!
Steve: Rx Bandits. Against Me! Dispatch. The Beatles. At The Drive-In.
SAM: - Paint it Black
 Bouncing Souls
 The Loved Ones
 Rancid ( I’ve seen Rancid once and have come to terms with the fact that I’ll never see them again even though I love them so damn much)
DYLAN: This would be an interesting line up
Paint It Black
Kid Dynamite
Bouncing Souls
Johnny Cash
Rx Bandits
6. How would it feel to play with your favorite band?
MAX: To step on the stage knowing I am opening for The Bouncing Souls. I don’t think there really is a word to describe it.
Steve: Cool.
DYLAN: It would be the highlight of my life.
SAM: - Well it depends which favorite band. My top 2 are Paint it black and the Souls. With PIB it would be pretty intimidating because their music is so refined and intricate. I would definitely have to be in the zone to jam with those dudes. With the Souls it would simply be awesome in every sense of the word because their music played a pivotal role in my youth (and still does).
7. What's the funniest moment your band has ever experienced?
Steve: Every time the Sam Maynard Band rolls through practice..
SAM: - There are quite a few moments where we all have a good laugh. It’s usually at each other’s expense but we all just kid.
MAX: What Steve said.
DYLAN: Probably when we had our friend Todd took some photos of us. Steve (our bassist) couldn’t shut up and we all kept cracking up and being jerks. I’m pretty sure Todd hates us now ha.
8. ? the craziest/most bizarre?
MAX: I think this whole experience is crazy. We’ve been a band for just over a year. We’ve already recorded with the guitarist of our favorite band. We’ve played the Asbury Lanes. We’ve met some great people through all of this. If you told me this would be where we were at February of last year. I would have laughed at you.
SAM: - Just being in the Bouncing Souls museum that is the basement of K8’s house and having the opportunity to work with someone that we all look up to as a musician. (Pete Steinkopf)
DYLAN: Well probably when I found out we were going to record with Pete Steinkopf. I was completely speechless and so stoked. We all have been listening to the Souls since grade school and they’ve been our favourite for a long time.
Steve: When our music actually sounds good.
9. Who are you musically influenced by that no one would ever guess by listening to your music?
MAX: I think Tom Waits in one of them. He’s an amazing song writer on all accounts. Also, even though there are no words in their songs, “Explosions In The Sky” has had a huge influence on me. They are just pure fucking emotion and nothing more and that is what I look for in song writing. 
Steve - Billy Joel
SAM: - I really like blues music in general, and have always been fascinated with that style of guitar playing. It’s something that you can’t really learn, but have to feel. I guess to put a name to it would have to be someone like John Mayer.
DYLAN: I don’t know if anybody would guess this but I was taught a lot of jazz by my old drum teacher Paul Christiansen. I have been listening to Coltrane, Davis, Max Roach, and all of the Jazz greats for a long time and they really influence my drumming.
10. Tell us about the most unique member of your band and why he/she has earned this title.
MAX: Dylan because he tries to be European.
Steve: Max. His Magnetism, combo his beard earns him this title.
SAM: - Well, I like to think we all have our unique traits, but Steve is all right at basketball. (But he cheats)
DYLAN: I don’t think we have one unique member we are all pretty weird. I know Max is notorious for his bearded screaming and we get on Steve for being really buff and jumping around on stage. My brother is a pretty weird dude also, at practice he’ll just break into a solo like he’s in some kind of hippy jam band. As for me, we’ll see what the others say.
11. If someone invested a million dollars into your band, how would you use the money? 
MAX: Put on an amazing concert. Press vinyl. Buy a van. 
Steve: To set up the most epic, electrifying, memorable rock concert to date.
DYLAN: I would love to put on a fest type event and have countless punk bands play in NJ or Philadelphia. Also I’d buy a ’64 Stratocaster in Classic white with triple single coil pick-ups and a whammy bar.
SAM: - We would argue too much and never end up spending it.
12. How do you feel being on stage when the audience is having an amazing time?
MAX: You have to experience it to know that feeling. I always said the one thing I want in life if for people to be screaming the things I wrote back into my face with me. It’s finally starting to happen and that experience is priceless.
SAM: -  I feel energized and encouraged to play well. If I am not having fun on stage unfortunately, I tend to show it.
Steve: There is no word to describe that feeling.
DYLAN: That’s the one thing we love more than anything. I think I speak for all bands when I say when the people watching you are having a blast and digging our music, it makes us play infinitely better.
13. Which 5 songs would you cover if you had a cover band?
MAX: Another tough question. These will not work with each other at all, but I’m okay with that. San Diego Serenade by Tom Waits. That is easily one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Birth and Death of the Day by Explosions In The Sky. That song is the biggest rollercoaster of a song ever. Then it’d be You Won’t Know by Brand New. True Believers by The Bouncing Souls. Sink Florida Sink by Against Me!
-Billy Joel/Scenes from an Italian restaurant.
- Rx Bandits/And the battle begun
- Bouncing Souls/True Believers
- Manchester Orchestra/The River
- Dispatch/ The General
SAM: - Bruce Springsteen-Glory Days (All 5)
The Man Comes Around- CASH
Past Tense, Future Perfect- Paint It Black
Cliché Guevara- Against Me!
A Soulful punk tune about a working class dreamer- The Holy Mess
Birthday- Token Entry
14. If you swapped ipods with other members of your band, what's the most surprising music you'd find?
MAX: After being friends with these guys for so long, I don’t think much would surprise me anymore.
SAM: - It’s not surprising to us, but Steve likes generic mainstream rap, like Kid Cudi. Mine is actually relatively narrow in terms of genre (lots of punk and HC)
DYLAN: Uh I’m not sure. If I swapped with Max I’d probably find the widest variety of music. But If I swapped with my brother I’d probably find like DJ Pauly D or something he loves Jersey Shore.
Steve: Showtunes on Dylan’s ipod.
15. Name the place you'd most like to play a show, anywhere in the world.
MAX: Australia.
Steve: The pacific side of Costa Rica.
DYLAN: That’s a tough one. Every band that goes to Australia says that it is a complete blast to play. We’re not even close to being that popular but it would be awesome to play there. Also Philadelphia, because it is my favourite place to see punk shows.
SAM: -Barcelona (up the Spanish punx)
16. What's the most memorable musicial moment of your life?
MAX: I’ve been to so many shows. But my Mom taking me to see The Who at Madison Square Garden was amazing, but also Seeing Paul McCartney come on stage with Billy Joel and play Let It Be to close out Shea Stadium was a phenomenal thing.
SAM: - Seeing the souls at warped 2004 playing “Gone.”
Steve: My brother teaching me the bass riff to, “As the footsteps die out forever,” on the guitar. I was hooked after that.
DYLAN: Definitely recording with Pete. It was by far the most exciting thing that ever happened to me musically. We’re planning on going back to him this summer to make some more music. 
17. If you got a band tattoo, which band would it be?
MAX: I have two Bouncing Souls tattoos, a Brand New tattoo, and I have the Bayside bird tattooed on my arm. 
STEVE: Done. Rx Bandits.
SAM: - I have a Bouncing Souls tattoo.
DYLAN: Haha. Well to get a tattoo I’d have to care about the band a lot so probably a Souls tattoo because they’ve been in my life for so long and I’ll always be a true fan, or a Paint It Black themed tattoo because that band is also really important to me and they stand for some very strong principles that I agree with.
18. Tell us a situation where another band really helped you out.
MAX: I think Lost In Society as friends have just helped us out in general and vise-versa. They’re a bunch of great dudes, but theres been a bunch of others. I think this whole community of punk bands is ever helping each other.
DYLAN: Well, our good friends in Lost In Society are booking a stage for a music festival and they’ve kindly given us a spot to play. Lost In Society are really good dudes we’re lucky to have them as friends we constantly play shows together.
SAM: - We are lucky enough to have great friends in a band called Lost in Society. We always help each other out in terms of equipment and shows, as well as members from time to time.
STEVE: I’m thankful for all the bands that played in a benefit concert for my late brother, DJ.
19. What moment has made all of the hard work being a musician worth it?
MAX: That whole thing I spoke of before. Having people yell the words I wrote back into my face. Regardless of the music aspect though, getting out there and meeting so many new people, being able to record a record with the guitarist of your favorite band, playing house shows with your friends. It’s all worth it. I really love it all. Even the stressful parts. 
STEVE: Every time we play our music.
DYLAN: Honestly, just playing in front punks that enjoy our music as much as we do. Every time we play live makes it worth it to me.
SAM: -We love punk kids like us because they just love angry fast music and self-destruction. (In no way am I advocating self-destructive behavior)
20. If your band was a comic, what would each member's super power be?
MAX: Well they will think of some beard power for me guaranteed. Steve already is a super hero. Sam would probably have the ability to control peoples minds and Dylan would be able to transform into Cristiano Ronaldo whenever he pleases. 
SAM: -I’m just gonna say laser vision because I can’t think of any creative individual powers that each of us could have.
STEVE: Sam would see through walls. Dylan would have impeccable endurance. Max would be able to choose any beard length at all times. I would be able to shoot fire balls like Mario.
DYLAN: Haha well I think Max would be able to light his beard on fire, making him ten times more scary when he recites the demonic screaming that is our lyrics. Steve would definitely be like superman or something everyone loves him, and Sam would be like the robot hero because he moves around like C3PO from Star Wars. As for me, I’d have the ability to play drums well.