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APRIL 2014

ISSUE#2

DIVIDED FRIDAY BY

Modern Baseball | Top Shelf Lickers | In Hearts Wake | Maysa Askar + More

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STAFF Founders Penelope Martinez Mariana Patino

Editor-in-Chief | Designer Penelope Martinez Co-Founder | Art & Managing Editor Mariana Patino Content Editors Lori Gutman Roxana Osorio Writers Mariana Patino Luzzei Tsuji Nicholas Turner Photographers Leah Dirckerman Lori Gutman Penelope Martinez Connect focuszine.com facebook.com/focuszine focuszine.tumblr.com @focuszine Contact Us info.focuszine@gmail.com THANK YOU JOEL DUNN, DIVIDED BY FRIDAY, MIKE CUBILLOS, EARSHOT MEDIA, IN HEARTS WAKE, TOP SHELF LICKERS, GABY ALVAREZ, BRIXTON AGENCY, MODERN BASBALL, THE AUDIO DEAD, STEPHANIIE MARLOW, BRIDGE 9, REY ROLDAN, BAYSIDE, NATALAIE BISIGNANO, EQUAL VISION RECORDS, MAYSA ASKAR, CARLY HOSKINS, OUR STAFF AND YOU!

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WHAT’S

INSIDE FOCUS MAGAZINE | 4


INSIDE EVERY ISSUE

6......................Artist of the Month 12.........................Behind the Band 14......................................Arts n’ Stuff 16...........................Upcoming Tours

FEATURES

18............................Top Shelf Lickers 22...........................The Audio Dead 24..........................Modern Baseball 26...............................In Hearts Wake 30........................Divided By Friday

REVIEWS

38....................................................Album 42.....................................................Show

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Artist of the Month Maysa Askar is a Music and Creative photographer from South Florida. She has made her name known in the music industry through hard work and dedication. Everyday, she sets out to not only help other fellow photographers, but also to make new friends and take her work to the next level. 1. What was the first show you ever shot with a photo pass? The first show I ever shot with a pass was the Rock Yourself To Sleep tour back in 2010. The lineup included Every Avenue, The Secret Handshake, There For Tomorrow, and Sing It Loud. 2. How did you get started with concert photography? What made you want to pick up a camera? When I was about fourteen years old, I came across some of Taking Back Sunday’s old promos and instantly fell in love with them. I was thinking about how cool it would be to take photos of bands I looked up to, so I researched a good starter camera and decided on a Canon Rebel XT. I spent my freshman year saving up my lunch money for it and later photographed a ton of local shows. By the end of high school, I had one goal in mind and it was to photograph the Vans Warped Tour. I made a portfolio of all my photos and sent them out to a ton of publications and heard back from two. I photographed Warped Tour that summer and now I’m where I’m at today! 3. What’s your favorite part about your job/hobby? Least favorite? I really love making the subject of my shoots and shows happy. I met up with Anthony Green before a show of his once and showed him a photo I took of him biting a microphone. He freaked out (in a good way). He was talking about how he’s seen that photo everywhere and tried to figure out who took it since he loved it so much. I think my least favorite part about the job is the fact that some people won’t take photography seriously. People think things along the lines of ‘everyone is a photographer these days, why should I pay someone to take my picture?’ and, sure, everyone is a photographer these days with all this new technology (camera phones, editing apps, etc.). But there’s a huge difference between being a photographer and being a professional photographer. Professional photographers know quality and how to network, and they just overall know how to market themselves within the business while photographers just… know how to instagram. 4. What brought you to the music industry? When I started photographing shows, I was mostly shooting for my town’s newspaper and didn’t really take it seriously. They had to start cutting shows and I immediately panicked and realized that I really wanted to continue on with music photography. I was telling my friend, Matt Vogel (http://www.mattyvogel.com), about what was going on and he connected me to Zack Zarrillo, who runs a music news website called PropertyOfZack (http:// www.propertyofzack.com). I did a test show for him and he enjoyed my work and I was eventually added to the staff. Since I’ve been added, I’ve connected with a lot of publicists and labels and continue to network a bit when I travel to festivals all around the country. 5. Where would you like to work in the future? Hopefully I’ll be a tour photographer or just working on a record label with photography on the side. As long as I’m part of the music industry, I’m happy. 6. Who has been a great influence on you? Tom Barnes. He’s an amazing portrait/music photographer based out of the UK that I’ve looked up to since I first started. His work is really clean and simple but powerful at the same time.

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People think things along the lines of ‘everyone is a photographer these days, why should I pay someone to take my picture?’ FOCUS MAGAZINE | 7


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7. What's been a proud moment for you? I had two proud moments during my career: 1) photographing My Chemical Romance, and 2) finally having one of my photos published in Alternative Press. I grew up with both of these things in my life, from entering middle school to graduating college, so they were both a pretty big deal for me. 8. Seeing as how you're the head photographer over at POZ, what is that like? What are your responsibilities there? It’s great! I take care of any photo requests that the staff photographers need help with, make sure photos get in on time, bring in new photographers, organize the photo section... little things like that. As head photographer, I get first pick on tours and pretty much cover any of the festivals we sponsor. 9. Comparing your first show to now, how do you think you've grown? Who has helped you along the way? I think I’m finally above the level of terrible now! I’m much better at postproduction and just have a better eye for shooting overall. A mix of photo classes, knowledge from other photographers, and online tutorials has definitely shaped me into becoming a much better artist. 10. Advice for anyone who wants to do photography? Take any advice given to you by older mentors that have gone through it all. Sometimes we brush these people off because we’re either too embarrassed to ask for a few pointers or just want to figure out things ourselves. I promise you’ll thank me in the long run for speaking up and asking questions. Another piece of advice is to stay level headed and only create work that you want to make, not for a thousand likes on social media.

Stay Connected with Maysa:

http://www.maysaaskar.com http://mamamaysa.tumblr.com http://flickr.com/thenmaysuhsaid http://500px.com/maysaaskar @MamaMaysa Interview |Penelope Martinez All Live Photos | Maysa Askar

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B e h i n d T h e B a n d INFO CARD

Carly Hoskins aka Chuck NAME_____________________ Tour Manager/Merch JOB TITLE__________________ Person, Photographer, Chuck

___________________________

Dads, Run Forever

RESUME_____________________

Carly Hoskins How long have you had this job? I’ve been with Dads for about a year and a half now. How did you begin working in the music industry? I went to a lot of shows and started bringing my camera and taking photos of the bands I was seeing. I ended up shooting some promo photos and album artwork for a few bands in my area. Eventually one of them invited me on a tour they were doing. It was six to eight weeks long but I only did two because I was still in school. Shortly after that, I hopped on another week-long tour before fall semester started. I met Dads on that tour, yada yada, now I’m typing this in the van with them at SXSW. What’s your advice for those wanting to become a tour manager as well? I kind of happened upon the position accidentally so it’s kind of hard for me to advise here. People are more likely to want to work with you and continue working with you if you’re easy to work with. Go with the flow and help solve any problems that arise. What do you do besides being a TM? Everyone involved with Dads takes on multiple roles. Aside from tour managing them, I’m their merch person and photographer and I have done some more design-related things for them. I kind of do everything other than play an instrument in the band. Best and worst thing about your job? Another touring person recently told me that he didn’t know how I could stand tour because the only thing that made it worthwhile for him was that he got to play a set every night. The equivalent of that for me is photography. Spending hours confined to a van, not being able to shower every day, and sleeping on floors are all less than ideal, but I love to travel. I typically don’t seek out places where I can’t quickly and easily access good vegan food, but touring takes me to a lot of places where that is the case. Touring also takes me to a lot of cities where I’m able to go to awesome vegan restaurants I never otherwise would have been able to try. I’ve met so many wonderful people I never would’ve met if I weren’t doing this, but I also rarely get to see those people. I spend much more time texting loved ones than I do hanging out with them in person. Tour is comprised of a lot of things I dislike, but the good far outweighs the bad.

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What’s a typical tour day? We wake up somewhere between 8 and noon, either at a friend’s house or at a motel, and we get in the van and drive to the city where the next show is. Usually we’ve decided the night before where we want to go eat—often a vegan restaurant we’ve been to before and know we enjoy. We grab some food, head to the venue, load in, I set up my speedlights if I can/want, John and Scott play, I sell merch. After all that, we load out and drive to another friend’s house or drive halfway to the next city if it’s a long drive. What happens on off days? We don’t have off days very frequently. If we do, it’s usually after we’ve had a lot of long drives and really late nights so we just want to rest and have a nice meal. Almost all our off days on the last tour were filled with shows or fourteen hour drives. The Minneapolis show was unfortunately cancelled due to illness so we just drove to Chicago early to hang with our friends and eat at Chicago Diner. Favorite tour so far? I would say the run we did with Run Forever last April, but it was, regrettably, far too short. They’re some of our best friends now and we all love their band. The tour on which I met Dads was one of the most fun weeks of my life. Britty from Pity Sex rode with us for most of the full US tour we did with them and that really made the tour memorable for me. The tour we just finished with Reggie and the Full Effect was a lot of fun. James is wonderful and Jenny Douglas ,who TMed, is the absolute best. What are your pet peeves on the road? People who are decidedly not vegan eating the vegan food when it’s scarce. Venues that allow smoking. People who put drinks down on records/zines. People who are totally oblivious and stand in the way when we’re loading. Promoters who don’t understand what it means to be a promoter. Any bad experiences you’d be willing to share? Most of the bad times I’ve had on tour were because of something going on in my personal life. This is kind of silly and very minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s one that sticks out in my memory. We went into Canada for a festival last May and one of my favorite bands happened to be playing on the same day that we were there. They were at a different venue but the times all lined up so I could make it for their set. By the time I got to the venue, it was at capacity, and, for some bizarre reason, none of the bands playing that venue were given guest lists. So, despite someone from the band I wanted to see and someone from the headlining band both trying to help me out, I couldn’t get in. I ended up standing outside listening to their set. Once they finished, I walked back to the venue Dads was playing and sat in our van for the rest of the night. Most important lesson you’ve learned so far? The most important thing I’ve learned is to be firm and not to let people walk all over you, because they absolutely will.

Stay Connected with Chuck http://thisischuck.org @CarlyHoskins

Interview | Penelope Martinez 1st Photo | Brandon Andersen 2nd Photo | Ryan Azada

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f f u t s ' n arts

With prom and graduation season coming up, a lot of high school seniors are running around trying to find the cheapest furniture and prettiest clothes. While not many students will go away to college, if you’re one of the few that will, maybe having a little bit of home with you will help you. This tutorial will show you how you can make a quick decoration for your room, without spending a lot of money. You will need:

Finished Product

Picture frame Colored propaganda White Shear Paper Scissors Pencils (optional) Ruler Writing Utencil (preferrably pencil) Tape (not pictured)

1. Cut the paper into the size of the picture frame. I had a frame of 8.5in x 11in. Use the ruler and be careful so you get the right measurements.

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2. Outline the figure you wish to show, I chose the state line of Illinois. You can do this by putting the paper on your computer and simply tracing it.

4. Put this aside, and take a sheet of propagand paper. Wrap the paper around a pencil, so you can make a cylinder shape. You can do it without the pencil if you choose. Only use a strip of paper though, if you use too much, it can get bulky. (NOTE: If you use the pencil, remember to push it out of the paper) Tape the paper tube so it doesn’t come undone.

6. Take the paper pipes and tape them all together.

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7. By the end, it should look like this. Once you’ve taped it down, place the back of the frame and secure it. (NOTE: If it won’t close, don’t force it! The glass on the frame can break, thus hurting you. Go back and make the paper pipes thinner. You may have to make more if this is the case.)

This should be your result! Now you have a cool piece to hang around your home.

Money Spent: Time Spent: $6.23........Fra me

1hr 30minutes

$6.23 Total Try it yourself and put your own touch! Tweet or Instagram a pic and tag us so we can see! Mention us @focuszine and tag #focusart

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upcoming tours p blessthefall Apr. 08 - May.08 w/ Silverstein, The Amity Affliction, Secrets, Heartist

Dance Gavin Dance

Apr. 16 - May.17

I See Stars

Apr. 22 -May. 17

w/ Capture the Crown, Palisades, & Beach Blonde

w/ Like Moths to Flames, Razihel, Miss Fortune, Ghost Town

Pennywise Apr. 23 - May.05 w/ Teenage Bottlerocket

Hands Like Houses

Apr. 23 - May.07

Escape the Fate

Apr. 10 -May. 22

Architects / letlive.

Apr. 23 - May.21

w/ Slaves, Miss Fortune, Alive Like Me w/ Pop Evil

w/ Glass Cloud & I, The Mighty

Old Gray May. 22- May. 26 w/ Frameworkds

Seahaven May. 08- June. 05 w/ Foxing, Adventures

Failure May. 10- June. 01 w/ Unkown

Deftones May. 25- May. 30 w/ unknown

Man Overboard

May. 20- June. 21

w/ Transit, Forever Came Calling, Knuckle Puck

Foxy Shazam May. 27- June. 28 w/ Larry and His Flask

August Burns Red

June. 07- July. 21

Plain White T’s

June. 12 -Aug. 23

w/ unkwown

w/ Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry

Familiars June. 25- July.17th w/ The Antlers

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TOPSHELFLICKERS There are punk bands and then there are punk bands. Then you have the Top Shelf Lickers, a band that retains the fun-loving spirit of punk without getting held down by its three chord ceiling. INTERVIEW | PENELOPE MARTINEZ PHOTOS PROVIDED

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Q| How long have you been playing music? I’ve been playing music for a little over fifteen years. I am self taught and started a band with my cousin the day we got our instruments. Q| Tell me about the how the band began. How did you pick your band name? I started Top Shelf Lickers in around May of 2010. I had moved to Chicago from Cleveland and was still trying to recruit people to play in my current project, Neil Turk and Intentions, which was more singer/songwriter style rock and roll. I played with several musicians for about a year and nothing really stuck. Then I decided that I wanted to get back to playing the music I was most comfortable with—punk rock—so I started a brand new band. I found a good bass player and a drummer and we started jamming. Shortly after, I added a lead guitar player and booked studio time, and we recorded our first record. Although we have gone through several drummers and guitar players, the band currently has the strongest lineup and best material to date. As far as the band name goes, I knew I wanted something bar or alcohol related because I’ve been a bartender for many years and I’ve always worked in the industry. I tossed a couple of silly names around but nothing stuck. One day, I was back in Cleveland at a studio working on a demo and the engineer suggested Top Shelf Lickers... but not the kind you drink. I instantly liked that idea and immediately googled the name to check and see if the dot com was available. It was, so I stuck with it. I like the name because it can have many meanings depending on how you think about it. The irony of the name is that this was the band I started after I got sober, and I haven’t had a drink since I started Top Shelf Lickers. Q| What is your vision regarding music? What message or goal do you hope to convey with it? My vision with music is to always have fun and continue to keep putting out records. I want to start getting out of Chicago more. I’d like to see us exploring the country, starting simple with little weekend trips that will eventually lead to longer trips. The message I hope to convey with my music is to believe in yourself and what you do. Don’t let people push you around. Be true to yourself and have fun. Weed out the “bull-shitters” and fake people. I still play the kind of music I listened to fifteen years ago. Punk rock is the music that changed my life and it’s still in my heart. Music is my release. It’s my drug of choice these days and it’s how I deal with life. Q| Where do you usually gather song-writing inspiration? What is your typical songwriting process? I gather song-writing inspiration directly from my life experiences. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes and write

from their perspectives sometimes, but it’s much simpler to just write from the heart. I usually write lyrics first as they come to me. It could just be a phrase at a time. Then I sit down and try to place music to it. Sometimes it’ll just be a few words or a little hook that I have and I’ll keep going over that part and then I build a song around it. Sometimes I start and finish songs in a matter of days, and other times I have a partial idea that takes months or even years to get back to and complete. I present a practically finished version of the song to the band and we rock it out. Q| Who do you have to thank for your success, besides yourselves and your fans? I have my family to thank for getting me my first guitar and amp. Without them, none of this would be possible. I also have to thank the random people that inspire these songs. Some of them I hate, and some of them I love. Either way, songs came out of my life experiences with them. Q| What was it like to record your last album? Did you have any difficulties? It was an amazing experience recording our last album at Atlas Studios! Going into this, I was more excited than I have ever been to be in the studio because I knew that some of my favorite bands—Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms, and The Menzingers—have all recorded at Atlas. It went really smoothly. We gave ourselves plenty of time so that we could get the product we really wanted. Justin Yates was an absolute pleasure to work with. He was super patient and we did things until they were right. I wouldn’t go back and change anything, and that is the first time in my life that I can say that about recording my music. With help from a successful kickstarter campaign, we were able to press our new record on 12” white vinyl! Q| What are your fondest musical memories? One of the fondest memories that I have is counting down the days every week to get to Friday so I could get out of school and go to band practice at my cousin’s house. It was the most fun thing in the world to us. That was what we lived for. Eventually we had to start getting jobs and the real world wouldn’t allow for simple innocent pleasures like playing music in a basement all weekend. Looking back at all the shows I have played, they are all fond memories too... at least the ones I can remember. Another great memory that changed my life is my first concert, which was Green Day and The Riverdales. To this day, I have never been so excited to go to a concert. It was unreal! Q|Besides music, what other responsibilities do you guys have? We all have full time jobs and the other guys in the band play in different bands as well. Two of the members have

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kids so there are all the responsibilities that come with that as well. I just bartend and play with Top Shelf Lickers—no kids that I know of—so life is pretty fun for me!

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Q|Who are your musical influences? My musical influences are still the same punk stuff I grew up on, like NOFX, Green Day, The Queers, etc. I am also into Tom Petty, The Beatles, Dylan, Sam Cooke, and stuff like that. I write more mellow stuff and play acoustic guitar and harmonica too, but I don’t really use those songs for the Lickers. The other guys aren’t as influenced by the punk stuff as I am. They are more well-rounded and are into a little bit of everything, ranging from blues to jam band stuff. I think those different influences are good for bands to have so that everything doesn’t come out sounding the same.

Despite the difficulties, we just keep playing music because of our love for it. The feeling I get from music is a priceless reward in itself and I am very grateful for the gift of music. I would be lost without it.

Q|What would you say have been the hardest parts about being in a band at the moment? The hardest parts about being in a band nowadays are just getting people to stop and listen and maybe buy your music. There are so many outlets to get music for free and so many bands out there to compete with. With the digital world moving so fast, it’s really easy to overlook bands and not take time out to discover new music. That’s why we pressed vinyl. I wanted to slow things down and keep it real and tangible. Another difficult thing about being an original band is that it can be very hard to get paid or even make gas money. You have to go into this knowing that you are going to lose money a lot of the time or, at best, break even. Especially in a city like Chicago, lots of clubs and festivals want cover bands that can play threehour sets. Cover bands may be where the real money is, but then you’re playing other people’s music and that kinda sucks in my opinion. It took a while to find guys that were willing to learn and play my songs without the expectation of money. When we get paid, it’s a bonus, but that’s not why

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Q|What hopes do you have for this year? The hopes I have for this year are fairly simple… I’d like to land a couple of good opening spots for national tours, do some more out of state gigs, get some good album reviews, and have fun!

we are doing it. Despite the difficulties, we just keep playing music because of our love for it. The feeling I get from music is a priceless reward in itself and I am very grateful for the gift of music. I would be lost without it.

Stay Connected with Top Sehlf Lickers: https://thetopshelflickers.bandcamp.com http://www.facebook.com/topshelflickers

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Q|Who are the members of the band and what are their roles? Jordan plays drums, Sam plays guitar and does vocals, and I play bass and do vocals as well. Q|What are the origins of “The Audio Dead”? How did you all meet and decide to play in a band? Jordan and I went through about a year’s worth of trial and error with different guitarists and set-ups until Sam gravitated back into our lives and was the perfect fit for this band. That’s the spark notes version of the actual story, which is a lot longer and much more dramatic. Q| What’s the story behind the band’s name? The name is derived from a B-rate horror film called “ The Video Dead.” But the name is really about playing and reviving a style of music and an attitude that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages. Q| What are your biggest influences for your music either lyrically or sound wise? (Anything from musical groups to TV shows, etc.) Musically, we try and vibe towards a combination of young Elvis meets The Ramones/The Misfits with a little bit of hardcore-styled positive aggression and high concept sprinkled on top. Lyrically, it’s been a mix of our own story and our own struggles in junction with horror themes and dark story telling... So think H.R Geiger, J.D Salinger, and Stephen King. Q| I noticed that you guys have played a lot of house shows, but you’ve also played at traditional venues. Which do you prefer? The “no rules” environment of D.I.Y. shows creates a really carefree atmosphere which gets people moving, and we’re definitely really into that, but there is also something to be said for playing on stages we’ve seen our heroes perform on. At the end of the day, the room is irrelevant. The show we prefer is the show with the most energy and crowd participation. Q| What is the most memorable show you guys have played and why? That would probably be the first time we played at The Brauer House. Kids got fucking wild and the spirits of rock and roll moved me to smash my bass at the end of the show. It was more intense than words can even express. Q| What do you think are some of your biggest struggles as a local band? There are none. Playing shows and writing tunes is rad and, in the end, it’s worth any hardships we have to face along the way. FOCUS MAGAZINE | 22


Q| Chicago seems to have a reputation as a place where bands get their equipment stolen. Have you guys ever had to deal with that? We cherish our gear and guard it with our lives. If you’re going to try and take our stuff, you’re going to have to get through a storm of leather jackets and switchblades first. Q|Which bands, still existing or broken up, would you most like to play a show/tour with? Aiden. Seriously, man. Q| Is there anything else you would like to add? Believe in Rock & Roll and Rock & Roll will believe in you. INTERVIEW | MARIANA PATINO

Stay Connected with The Audio Dead:

https://www.facebook.com/theaudiodeadrock https://soundcloud.com/the-audio-dead

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Q. You guys are currently on tour with The Wonder Years, Fireworks, Citizen, and Real Friends. How has this tour been for you guys? It has been incredible! Every night has been so great for us and everyone on the tour is just so nice and talented. We couldn’t ask for a better tour! Q. What’s the response you’ve gotten from people on your new record? What is it based around? We’ve been getting a ton of positive reactions to our new record, You’re Gonna Miss It All. We’re really happy that people like it because we are so damn proud of it. It has received a ton of great reviews and there are a ton of kids singing the new songs at shows. These responses make us just the happiest lil pups.

(our drummer) always seems to have bad luck. He once got so sunburned he couldn’t move right for a week. He almost lost his finger when Ian, our bassist, slammed it with the van door! That was pretty scary. It’s all good, though. We went to CVS to get his finger fixed. Q. When touring, what do you do in your downtime when you aren’t driving, loading in, or playing in front of people? We just hang out with the rest of the bands… maybe catch up on some work or do some light reading. Not really, although reading is cool...

Q. What cities would you love to play in? Are there any cities that have been really memorable for you guys so far? This year is a huge year for us. We get to do a full U.S. tour and then tour the UK and Europe, so we’re really excited to just be traveling in general, haha. We would love to go to Australia just to hang with kangaroos and cool animals! We really enjoy the West Coast, specifically Portland and Seattle. They’re really cool cities. Q. What are you most looking forward to in 2014, with your band and within the music industry? Are there any albums that you are impatiently awaiting? We’re really excited just to be touring this year. School has hindered us from touring in the past so we’re excited to make the most of it after taking the semester off. We’re all VERY excited for the new Menzingers record. It’s gonna melt faces, ya feels? Q. Sticking with the personal preferences, what have you been listening to lately? Anything that fans should definitely check out if they haven’t already? I’ve been listening to a lot recently, but standouts are definitely the new Manchester Orchestra record, the new Fireworks record and a band called Frankie Cosmos. These are all really good bands that are super easy to listen to and get into. Q. You have probably had some odd experiences on tour. Anything that stands out as strange or downright horrifying? We have actually been pretty lucky on tour, but Sean

Q. This question is more directed towards Sean: recently you posted a link to share the “foursquare of craft beers.” Do you have a preference when it comes to beer? Favorite breweries? What’s your favorite beer? I’m definitely the biggest fan of Belgian Ales and Stouts. We are lucky to have such a great beer scene surrounding Philly, so some of my favorite breweries available would be Philly Brewing Co, Great Lakes and Franziskaner. My favorite beer in the world is a Red Ale called Revolution Red out of Smithfield Dublin. BY | NICHOLAS TURNER

Stay Connected with Modern Baseball:

https://www.facebook.com/ModernBaseball https://modernbasballpa.bandcamp.com http://modernbaseballpa.tumblr.com @modernbaseball FOCUS MAGAZINE | 25


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INTERVIEW | PENELOPE MARTINEZ PHOTOS PROVIDED FOCUS

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While many artists write about past relationships, life, and hope, In Hearts Wake breaks out of those boundaries and attempts to create a new way to bring awareness to people about the environment and how we are impacting it. They use music to get people to listen what they believe is important. These guys are set out to do great things not only in the music industry, but also for our planet. Q| How long have you been playing music?

I’ve been playing music since I was about six years old. My Dad was always playing music around the house and I guess that really rubbed off on me. He bought me my first instrument, a piano accordion (believe it or not!). From that point on, I got really into playing piano and I was getting pretty good until I was about fourteen. Then I began learning the guitar and I started my first band.

Q| Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process? Is it a collective effort or mainly a few members?

We gather inspiration from our surroundings to current issues we feel strongly about and anything in between.

Q| Tell me about the how the band began. How did you pick your band name? What were your hopes back then and what are they now?

I wasn’t in the band at the very beginning, but during high school the guys used to get together and jam at Ben’s house on weekends. They eventually wrote a few songs and decided to enter a battle of the bands competition. That was the first time they performed together on stage and they were hooked straight away. Now I’m here and we still love it just as much today. The name “In Hearts Wake” came about because they needed to put a name on the application form for the battle of the bands competition. They all wrote down a whole page of ideas and this was the only name that really stuck with them. Our goals really haven’t changed too much since then. All we ever really wanted to do was play music and see the world, and that hasn’t changed at all.

Q| Since you first started, your music has mainly revolved around the environment and trying to better our customs for it. Where did this idea come from? Was it a specific event that made you come to a realization? I think growing up around the Byron Bay area influenced us. Having all the beaches, rainforests and waterfalls around really helped us grow up with an appreciation of how beautiful the earth is. All the touring we’ve done around our beautiful country, Australia, also plays a big factor. We have experienced so many amazing places and I think that really drives us to take the initiative and stand up to protect our environment. FOCUS MAGAZINE | 28

Then, drawing from the emotions these inspirations give us, we try “putting it to paper.” It’s a very personal thing when it comes to what inspires you to write music, but, for some reason, all of ours blended together creates a pretty tasty smoothie. Normally the songs start with a few riffs that Ben has been jamming. From there we all play a part in putting our heads together and molding it with our creative fingers into the finished product. It’s a team effort! But generally it starts with the bearded wizard himself (Ben).


Q| Who do you have to thank for your success, besides yourselves and your fans?

All our families have been really supportive of the band over the years, which has been a massive help. Also anyone who has helped us on tour by giving us a place to stay and shower has also been a huge help. There was one time our car broke down on our way to a show in Dubbo and half of us had to hitchhike there, so a big thank you to the legends who helped us get to that show on time!

Q| Your new album coming out in May… How do you think you have grown since Divination?

Musically, we have all improved with our instruments. When we approached the writing process for the upcoming record, it just felt a lot more natural and fluid. We didn’t have to force anything. We have all grown up and matured a lot since Divination and I think this led to a much more mature sounding record. This time we weren’t scared to try new things and we really pushed ourselves to create something different and interesting.

stage. Another fond memory is the time our guitarist, Eaven, got lost in Munich and missed our show. Hopefully there will be many more memories to come!

Q| What are your immediate music career goals? Long-term goals? Our immediate goal is to take In Hearts Wake to the next level with Earthwalker. In the long term, we want to create an experience that our fans, friends, and family can sustainably be apart of.

Q| How does it feel to work with Carbon Neutral? How did this relationship begin? What do you hope to achieve with them? It’s been really good and they’re doing great things for the environment. Even before we began writing Earthwalker, we wanted it to be a part of a bigger picture. We eventually came across Carbon Neutral, and they were the perfect fit for what we wanted to achieve.

Q| Besides music, what other responsibilities do you guys have?

We all still have jobs at home to pay the bills. We don’t really have too many other responsibilities at the moment. In Hearts Wake is definitely our main focus.

Q| Do you have any other plans besides planting a tree for every pre-order of your album? If so, what are they?

One of the main things we wanted to do was raise awareness about what’s happening to our environment and put our money where our mouth is. We are also putting on a hometown show in Byron Bay where every ticket sold will plant a tree. Our aim is to create a forest, and we’re getting there bit by bit!

Stay Connected with In Hearts Wake

https://www.facebook.com/InHeartsWake inheartswake.com @inheartswake

Q| What are your fondest musical memories?

There are too many to list, but there are definitely a few that stand out. This year we got to play Soundwave, a heavy music festival that tours every major city in Australia. Growing up, I attended the festival every year so it was an honour to be able to play on that

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DIVIDED F

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Pop and soul

are two types of genres that are rarely seen in pairing in today’s mainstream music scene. One such band who is beginning to bridge that gap is Divided By Friday, which is comprised of Jose Villanueva (vocals, guitar), Matt Morgan (guitar, vocals) and Al German (drums). Growing up in the South has rooted their sound with gospel influences. On the heels of their debut album which was released by Hopeless Records in 2012, their newest EP, Modern Memoirs, combines elements of pop, alternative, soul, and R&B. Divided By Friday formed while its members were still high school around 2006. Their earlier sound was more pop based. A few years after becoming a band, they were signed to Hopeless Records. “[Hopeless] found us on Myspace, just before it kind of died out. It’s been a struggle, we’ve seen our ups and downs, but we’re growing and having a good time,” says front-man Jose. With their latest EP, they were able to explore more of the style of music that comes natural to them. Right now, the band is definitely going through some high points in their career. Earlier this year they had toured with Mayday Parade across Europe, gaining exposure to a whole new audience. In regards to how they have grown from the start to now, Jose says that “we’re definitely better performers, and more comfortable in front on people. We’re confident in our set and I think we’ve discovered how to portray that to the audience.” The band also has just completed a tour with Breathe Carolina, which Jose adds has been amazing due to sold out shows and the crowds being very receptive. They aren’t planning on slowing down this momentum anytime soon. They’re currently starting to work on a new album.

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“It’s been a strug our ups and do growing and h tim FOCUS MAGAZINE | 34


ggle, we’ve seen owns, but we’re having a good me.” FOCUS MAGAZINE | 35


The writing process is different for every band. For Divide By Friday, Jose tells us that because of the convenience “writing at home is easier, but we often stumble upon inspiration for songs while on the road.” Their true sound comes down to being pop and R&B. Jose stated that some of their influences for this upcoming record are old Craig David, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, and Mario, among other artists similar to that. Some of their goals for the next record, before it’s released “we hope we can gain a bigger following and new fans” and after its release “we want to see as many people with their hands on it as possible; just overall growth.” When asked if they have had any weird fan experiences as of yet, Jose responded with “weird has become our normal, so it’s hard to think of anything [specific].” Whether it’s in regards to fans or them as individuals, Divided By Friday has grown immensely over the past few years. With their dedication of staying true to themselves and having honest music, they will continue to grow. These guys have something unique to offer music listeners. Their influences and background in R&B and soul, deliver a fresh, new sound in their scene. Be sure to check out Divided By Friday on their next tour with Mayday Parade at the end of April into early May and pick up their latest EP, Modern Memoirs.

Stay Connected with Divided By Friday:

https://www.facebook.com/DividedByFriday @dividedbyfriday

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Interview + Story | Leah Dickerman Posed Photos | Penelope Martinez Live Photos | Leah Dickerman


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ALBUM FOCUS MAGAZINE | 38


REVIEWS FOCUS MAGAZINE | 39


Taking Back Sunday

Happiness Is

It has been over 10 years since Taking Back Sunday released their iconic LP “Tell All Your Friends”. In these years, there have been numerous lineup changes and a continuous change of sound. However, in 2010 the original lineup came together and produced a self-titled album with mixed reviews and a more adult sound. Just under 3 years of the release of their self-titled album, Taking Back Sunday released a new album, “Happiness Is”, on March 18, 2014. This new album encompasses elements of Taking Back Sunday’s past but in a more mature sound that focuses less on teenage angst and pessimism. “Happiness Is” is seen as Taking Back Sunday’s most honest album by the straightforward lyrics that are not hidden behind unclear metaphors like in their previous albums. For the first time, Taking Back Sunday have included a “Preface” song that gives an ominous introduction that builds a sense suspense that leads perfectly into the hard-hitting song, “Flicker, Fade”. Even though their up-tempo and melodic song “Stood A Chance” is a song that you can dance to, the lyrical content does not exactly portray that same vibe. With lyrics like “where you’ll get torn apart” and “fat and happy straight to hell”, this song still displays some dark lyricism but in a very catchy delivery that you can’t get out of your head. Another stand out song on the album is “Better Homes and Gardens”. Filled with passion and recollective lyrics, this song brings on feelings of heartbreak and loss that goes beyond the typical high school romance and into a more adult scenario such as engagement and marriage.

Just the way the album starts with a dreary feel, the last song on the album “Nothing At All” brings these same emotions back and concludes the album in a similar way it started. This brings the album, in a way, in a complete full circle. From start to finish, this album is a collective piece and not just individual songs that don’t piece together. Each song does not just stand on its own and feel disjointed from the next, they all come together to tell a story that is filled with highs and lows. Overall, “Happiness Is” is not an album that signifies the end of Taking Back Sunday, it brings on optimism for the future that leaves fans wanting and waiting for more. by | Luzzei Tsuji

Originally, I had planned on not purchasing this album because I heard “Glowing Crosses” and was thoroughly unimpressed. But, in my opinion, that happens to be the worst song on the album. The rest of the tracks are phenomenal, and the album is different from their previous records. In many ways, Oh, Common Life surpasses Gospel. It has an emotional backing, it has lyrical depth, and the music is vastly different. “Bed Sores” is one of my favorite songs on the album, and the only word to describe it is groovy—not the 60’s and 70’s groovy, but the groovy that makes you want to move and dance and be upbeat. This album also has darker tones to it, with themes of death and breakups (for the people who like that kind of stuff—I do). Some songs have a real pop-punk feel, while others more resemble slow rock ballads. Overall, Fireworks blew me away this time around. Oh, Common Life has so many minor details, and the only way to appreciate them is to pick up this album. Buy the album. You’ll enjoy it. It’s different from their previous albums, but there’s still something very Fireworks about it. Favorite Songs: “Run, Brother, Run,” “The Hotbed of Life,” and “Bed Sores”. Least Favorite Songs: “Glowing Crosses” and “The Sound of Young America” by | Nicholas Turner

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Fireworks Oh, Common Life


La Dispute

Rooms of the House

I know that you should never try and compare new art to its predecessors, but I find that very hard to do with music. La Dispute creates art; they lyrically paint worlds that you can easily inhabit. That being said, I tried to judge Rooms of the House separately from Wildlife, but I will admit that I am too accustomed to Wildlife and the music La Dispute produced for that album. Rooms of the House comes across as more mellowed out, but semantically more put together. It has all of the lyric attractiveness, but not much of the emotional connection. Technically speaking, this album is extraordinarily different. It is more difficult to get into. There are some gems on this album, but after a full listen through, it sounds like one long song. If that’s what you prefer, then this album is for you; if it’s not, you may not enjoy it. I can relate to the latter of the two. Some of my favorite songs on this album are “First Reactions After Falling Through The Ice” and “Stay Happy There.” Some of my least favorite songs on this album include “SCENES FROM HIGHWAYS 1981-2009,” and “THE CHILD WE LOST 1963.” I had high hopes for this album after listening to Wildlife, but, in my opinion, it fell flat. Not much on this album stood out and grabbed me emotionally.

by | Nicholas Turner

Memphis May Fire aims to be the voice of the Generation. After three albums and two EPs, they have released, what I believe, is one of the best albums of 2014 so far. “Unconditional” has topped off Billboard Top 200, debuting at #4, compared to their last album, “Challenger” which came out at #16. The album starts off with “No Ordinary Love,” which encompasses a feeling of forgiveness and loyalty. Although the sound of this album is very similar to their last one, the lyrical content and song transition makes it unique. They stick with their theme of inspiration and finding hope, even talking about some stories fans have shared with them. Matty Mullins uses the song “Need to Be” to express how he can relate to fans and what they’re going through, and to explain how fans help him, “But you see the beauty in my flaws; you pick me up when I fall, show me the way when I am lost. In the eye of the storm you show me I’m not alone and give me strength to carry on!” They finish off the album with the song “Divinity,” giving fans the glimpse of hope they want to find. Memphis May Fire is able to show them that they are not alone, “We all have divine purpose to be nothing short of a miracle story. You are special. You are loved!” This album is something any listener can relate to. From anger to hope, it will catch the attention of anyone willing to listen, and fans can definitely find inspiration in the lyrics.

Memphis May Fire

Unconditional

by | Penelope Martinez

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SHOW

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Gre

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eat American Cult I have been a fan of Bayside and Four Year Strong ever since I went into high school. Sadly, I had missed Bayside at Riot Fest last year. I was so happy when they announced this tour, especially because the lineup was so great.

Tour

I had seen the opening band, Mixtapes, back on their tour with Real Friends last fall, and I knew that they were going to start off the show with a bang. Although not many knew their songs, the crowd seemed to be enjoying the music. As soon as their set was done, many people began to make their way to merch to snag a copy of their music.

Next was Daylight, or as they are now called, Superheaven. They calmed the crowd a bit and played a heavier set of songs. I enjoyed parts of it, but seeing as how Mixtapes had put so much energy in their set, this was seriously bringing down my levels of energy. That wasn’t a very big negative though, because that meant I got to relax while listening to some great music, and I would have more energy for Four Year Strong, who was up next. When they hit the stage, everyone was able to go back 7 years into their lives. They began their 10-song set with their great song, “What the Hell is a Gigawatt?” off their old album, ‘Enemy of the World.’ There was not one person who wasn’t jamming along to their set. I made my way to the back to be able to watch the whole set without having to go on my tippy-toes. I began to hear Dan say that the next song had saved his life and I was just hoping he was talking about ‘One Step at a Time.’ Luckily, I was right. Hearing this song live brought memories back for everyone and tears to my eyes. Since FYS had set the bar pretty high, Bayside had to really step up. This wasn’t an issue at all though, the venue was filled with die-hard Bayside fans. Opening up with “Big Cheese,” Bayside made it known that they still had the energy and passion for music, as they did ten years ago. It was a sold out show, and from the looks of it, everyone that had a ticket was able to make it. People were screaming the lyrics and crowd surfers made the bodyguards sweat, some people weren’t even caught in time due to the number of people doing it at the same time. By the end of the night, Anthony Raneri commented about how he recognized some faces in the crowd, jokingly mentioning how young they looked the last time he saw them. This show was definitely one for the books. Those who slept on getting tickets should really be kicking themselves because a lineup this good is hard to find. Catch Bayside and Four Year Strong playing at Warped Tour this summer and Superheaven on tour with Basement. REVIEW & PHOTOS|PENELOPE MARTINEZ

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The Reunion Tour After hearing a lot of hype surrounding We Are The In Crowd in regards to their new album and comeback after taking some time off to record Weird Kids, I was really excited to witness what this band could do live. I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. The Reunion Tour was the perfect set up for their very first headliner.

The show began with a few songs by a new up-and-coming female fronted band, Candy Hearts. The crowd seemed to enjoy what they had to offer. I noticed a few people singing a long while many others were bopping their heads and seemed to be enjoying themselves. Their set was a cheerful way to start the night off. The crowd started to get restless as they waited for State Champs to take the stage next. I was looking forward to seeing what they had to offer for a live show. Out of the five bands that played, they definitely had the most wild set. They played in one of the smallest venues I’ve ever been to, but that didn’t stop a few people from trying to crowd surf. That might not have been the best idea, but it’s the thought that counts. Nevertheless, State Champs have an incredible ability to get everyone up on their feet and moving. The momentum didn’t slow there. Set It Off was up next and well, they certainly set it off (I had to!). Previously I had seen their name on Tumblr, but that’

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was the extent of my knowledge on them. They definitely won me over. Their stage presence was also amazing. I loved the fact that they told a story through the songs they played, connecting them together. I was definitely impressed and can’t wait to see them again. William Beckett rounded out the last of the openers. His set rounded out the last of the openers. He set very laid-back and relaxing, yet still entertaining. Finally, when We Are The In Crowd took the stage, it was surprising that this was their first headliner. They took control of the stage with their lead single “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)” off their new album Weird Kids. They played an even mix of songs off their first EP and introduced fans to some of the strongest tracks off their newest record. They slowed it down in the middle, doing an acoustic rendition of “Lights Out” before performing a new song “Windows In Heaven.” The latter was emotional and heartfelt. We Are The In Crowd proved that have lasting power and will be here for a long time to come. In case you missed The Reunion Tour, We Are The In Crowd and State Champs will both be on the Vans Warped Tour this summer!

REVIEW & PHOTOS|LEAH DICKERMAN


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Breathe Carolina recently hit the road to promote their new album, Savages, which drops April 15th. For support, they brought along Jonny Craig, Divided By Friday and Ghost Town. Both Divided By Friday and Ghost Town were able to get the energy up close to what it was during Breathe Carolina’s set later that evening. On the other hand, I think that Jonny Craig managed to bring the energy level down in a negative way. Most of his songs had a slow tempo, and I found myself bored during his set. The lack of excitement didn’t last, however. Once the lights went down and Breathe Carolina came out on stage, everyone in the crowd picked up exactly where they left off. The band seemed to feed off that energy, and they gave it right back to the fans in order to keep the party going. Being at this show felt like going to club and just letting go of everything. On this tour, roughly a quarter of Breathe Carolina’s set contained songs off the new album. They played “Bury Me,” “Savages,” “Collide,” and “Mistakes.” They performed some old fan favorites as well, including “Hello Fascination” and “IDGAF.” The mixture of older and newer songs really got the crowd going and gave the fans a chance to get lost in the songs they’ve known for years, while simultaneously enjoying and getting more familiarized with the newest ones. This was one of the first tours without the other original member, Kyle Even, and David Schmitt proved that he could hold his own and take full control of the stage. The guitarist, Tommy Cooperman, was able to provide some back up when needed. Unfortunately, his attempts at singing Even’s high notes fell flat. Even’s voice is incredibly unique, though; it seemed like there was some overcompensation for his absence. Despite this, Breathe Carolina put on a really fun and energetic show. In case you missed them on the We Are Savages Tour, you can catch them on the Vans Warped Tour this summer! REVIEW & PHOTOS|LEAH DICKERMAN

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We Are Savages Tour

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When the Break Down the Walls Tour was announced, I was so excited and knew I had to go. Not only did I miss We Came As Romans’ set during warped, but I also missed their last tour. Apart from that, I had missed all the other bands every time they rolled by Chicago. The show was surprisingly early; doors opening at 3:30 and the show beginning at 5:30, so the line of fans waiting when I arrived was non-existent. The first thing I noticed was how many adults were wearing Asking Alexandria shirts. Not only were they spread out in the balcony and by the bar, but there were a few that had made their way to the barricade. As soon as the curtain went up, Crown the Empire took the stage and fans began cheering. Singing along to most of their songs, Chicago showed the guys in CTE a lot of love. Up next was Born of Osiris, they showcased their talent and made an everlasting impression on those who had never seen them live before, including myself. We Came as Romans was next and I was extremely excited. Recently having dropped their album, Tracing Back Roots, they had a lot of fans waiting to see them play. Starting off their set with their song “Tracing Back Roots,” they successfully showed everyone in the venue that they had some of the most loyal fans in the room. As soon as Kyle Pavone made his way to the stage, everyone was off their feet and singing along to every song. Sadly, they only had an 8-song set; but within those eight songs, they shook things up a bit and played “Glad You Came” which was covered by them in Fearless Records’ ‘Punk Goes Pop 5.’ They finished their set with “To Plant a Seed,” and left the fans wanting more, many even saying they should play one more song. Not to worry though, because August Burns Red was next. They were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. Not only did their vocalist, Jake Luhrs, have a great interaction with the crowd, but bassist Dustin Davidson and guitarist Brent Rambler did as well. Everyone in the band showed their love for music by the way they played and acted on stage, all smiles and complete concentration, while having fun of course. Finally, the band everyone was waiting for, Asking Alexandria. I forgot to mention, the Chicago date was April 1st, so when the stage manager began to bring out three stools on stage, I thought the band was doing an April Fool’s prank. Danny Worsnop came out with a beer in one hand and mic in another, followed by Ben and Cameron. They all took a seat and began to play ‘Someone Somewhere.’ Everyone was singing along, and to be honest, I loved being able to hear this acoustically. Afterwards, they explained to the fans that they were having technical problems, to which everyone responded with a laugh. They played a second song, acoustically again, and left the stage saying they would try to fix everything to play the show. After 15 minutes of waiting, it was clear that they weren’t doing a prank. As more time passed by, fans began to get upset and started to throw items, hitting security and other fans. The band finally came out and explained the situation, promising to come back really soon for another show exclusively for the fans there. The response they got was surprising. No one whined or complained, they simply accepted the fact they weren’t going to get to see them play live and made their way to merch. Overall, the bands that played did an amazing job. I had never seen opening bands get such a positive response by the crowd, like I did with Born of Osiris and Crown the Empire. Although Asking Alexandria didn’t play, I’m looking forward to the show they have planned and hope to see all these bands really soon. REVIEW & PHOTOS|PENELOPE MARTINEZ

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BY|LEAH DICKERMAN

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BY|PENELOPE MARTINEZ

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Issue 2  

Featuring Divided by Friday, In Hearts Wake, and more

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