WESS MEETS WEST - SOFIA ST JEAN - THE PARANOYDS
SPENDTIME PALACE - HOW TO START A ZINE - WEST FEST
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A “PUNK” IN 2020? BY STEVEN KEEHNER
CONTENT Punk in 2020 . . . 2 Sofia St Jean . . . 3 Wess Meets West . . . 4 Spendtime Palace/The Paranoyds . . . 8 Zine Guide . . . 9 West Fest . . . 10
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That Punk Zine #1 Staff Editor-in-Chief: Steven Keehner Associate Editor: Francesca Simone “Super” Jack Seda-Schreiber Jennifer Velasquez
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Prior to that realization, however, I stumbled upon defines “punk” as “a style or another track by Fleas and culture popular among young Lice entitled “Up The Punx,” people, esp. in the late 1970s, which really sold home me expressing opposition to starting this project, “I don’t authority through shocking care if you got a mohawk or behavior, clothes, and hair, two, what counts is in your and through fast, loud music.” head. I don’t care if you’ve got piercings or tattoos, what counts is in your head.” While this technically isn’t wrong, there’s a bigger picture that’s often overlooked when That, to me, is the true we generalize terms and ideas. definition of what it means to Like any subculture, it evolves be a punk. It really is a case of what’s on the inside; to be to meet the new challenges that need to be met. Punk is no unapologetic while not being a dick, to be respectful of those different. who aren’t harming anyone by being themselves, to be understanding, and always When typically asking people question everything. That’s the name of the game in my eyes. who don’t identify with the subculture to explain it, the answers usually follow What it means to be punk amongst these lines: “white guys on drugs who play angry might look and sound different today than it once did, but it music.” still follows those same core ideals. That’s why I started Within stereotypes of certain this. I wanted to share stories subcultures comes some truth. of cool music and subsequently cool people too. Even in the simplest way of If anything about the viewing punk rock, it’s no subculture has remained the surprise to imagine how, for same, it would be that, outsiders, generalization sometimes, it works better to becomes easy to rely on. just do it yourself. At one point, there was a lot of truth to those stereotypes, too. But as mentioned, punk has had the ability to evolve and adapt. Groups like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, and Bikini Kill reinforced this idea. I originally wanted to call this zine “Up The Punx” after the Joyce Manor track, before unfortunately discovering that another zine had already taken the name.
So thanks for reading this. I really hope you enjoy the time and effort of everyone who contributed to this. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without a team of people who believed in my blabbering. Should you take anything from this, I can only hope that it might be to do what makes you happy, whether that going to a gig, starting a band, or creating a zine with a bunch of your friends.
ELECTRIC TASTE: SOFIA ST JEAN BY SUPER JACK Sofia St Jean is a force to
her debut single, “Letting You.” Recorded in a day, behold. Coming straight out of Sofia laid down her Maryland, Sofia’s talent as a vocals, guitars, and synths musician sees her take on many and then let session roles, but her two main musicians do the rest. The attributes are her guitar playing song is a landscape and her voice. crowded by many textures yet oddly feels spacious Taking inspiration from Laura and roomy. Mvula, M83, The 1975, Metric, Kings Of Leon, Nina Simone, and Washed Out, Sofia’s music When the hook hits, it feels like you’re floating away into space, defies genre boundaries. getting lost in all the Elements of indie rock, neoreverberation that accompanies psychedelic, electronica, and Sofia’s voice. soul cloud around Sofia’s belting voice. And when I say belting, I mean belting. Sofia’s “‘Letting You’ is about finally voice can go from gorgeous recognizing who you are and gospel to indie singer/ allowing yourself to love songwriter in no time at all. someone. I didn’t write it specifically for myself, but I feel like when you stop trying Growing up in a Haitian family, Sofia has wanted to make music to be someone else, you can truly open your heart and allow from a young age. “Music has always been a staple of my life. love to be reciprocated. I wrote it a year or two before it got No matter what I’m doing or where I am, there is music, and recorded on my bed with an acoustic guitar, and then I I wanted to create the same feelings that it gave me. In my completed the lyrics when I recorded it for a single.” day-to-day life, I can’t be
“I am a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist means you’ll take a lot more time to do what you want to do. However, when I finish them, I am way happier. I understand the complete track, I know what I’m doing, and I’d rather have that than me just throwing everything at a wall and seeing what happens.” “‘Surreal Reality’ is a movie. The album is not just the sonic part, from the sonic you will see the visual, but to me, it’s a movie. When I get the chance, I will work, and it’s going to become a movie.”
Sofia St Jean’s debut single, “Letting You,” is out now on all without music — it explains my platforms. Her debut album, emotions before I have the Sofia is still working on her chance to know what they are. debut album, “Surreal Reality.” “Surreal Reality,” will be out in the near future. Whether that’s in writing or just Spending all her free time in hearing a chord, anything. Mercy College’s studio, she is Before I know how I feel, my relentlessly working to make music will tell me.” sure her debut album checks all of her boxes. A while back, Sofia released
THE BEATLES, GROWING UP, AND THE PURPOSE OF MUSIC: A CONVERSATION WITH SAM STAUFF OF
WESS MEETS WEST By Steven Keehner
I first met Sam Stauff in September 2019. I was wearing a Real Friends shirt and he asked about the
band. I quickly realized how nerdy it was to wear a pop punk shirt in public. I also realized that he was a pretty cool dude. Humble, humorous, and seemingly always busy, I was excited to get the chance to interview him. A veteran in the northeast music scene, Sam has been a part of projects including Eager Sails, Wide Waters, Port George, and most notably, Wess Meets West. Creating music that varies from in your face to in your head, it’s hard to find a project that doesn’t appeal to you. Along with that, he is currently working with the legendary Blue Öyster Cult on their upcoming record. When I do interviews, I always like to start with a personal question. What was your first notable music-related memory? Oh, man. Music was always around me growing up; nobody in my family was a professional. Maybe “pseudo-professional” would be a better term. My immediate family wasn’t; my Dad had a guitar, and I found it, so that was my first real connection to it. My grandma is a pianist and organist. She played at churches and stuff like that. My uncle plays music pretty professionally on and off, he’s an amazing pianist. But he really wasn’t around that much. But yeah, I found my dad’s guitar and was like, “This is pretty cool. Let me fuck around with this.” I can relate to that. I didn’t grow up in a “musical” household, but
music was a massive thing for all of my immediate family growing up.
What was your first music-related memory? Oh boy. I noticed on your Audiotree performance, you turn questions around often. I really respect that, like, “Me, you want to hear from me?” On that performance, when I did that, and I asked him about his favorite album and he responded with “That’s a good question,” it took everything in my being to not be like, “You came up with the question?”
you also talk yourself into trouble a lot? A lot. But please tell me what your memory was, I keep cutting you off. If we’re talking about playing, I’ve only been playing an instrument for about eight months. What do you play? Guitar. Okay good. You’re super fresh. That’s awesome.
It’s been great. If we’re talking about musical experiences, my mom and dad were always playing stuff around the house. So I grew I don’t remember what I said, but I could’ve been a dick, but of course, I up listening to a lot of music. don’t want to be a dick. My sense of But one time, my fourth grade humor is like that. music teacher offered us to come into her classroom and listen to I’m the same way. I’m guessing
The Beatles during lunch, and my friends were like, “Dude, let’s go do it!” So I just tagged along; when she played “Hey Jude,” that was it, the start of a greater love. So you’re a fan? Very much so. I wouldn’t call them my favorite band anymore, but I think they’re the greatest band ever, at least legacy-wise. Musically, that’s a different conversation. That’s interesting. There had to be someone, you know? They really came at the right time with the right technology. I didn’t listen to The Beatles until I was in college. How? I had heard of them; my mom was a big fan of early Beatles’ work, my dad was much more into Phil Collins and Frank Zappa. It was always there on the back burner, but it just wasn’t this huge thing. The Beach Boys were more of a thing for me. I knew of them, their biggest hits. But I was always more interested in the music happening at the time. You know what I mean? But when we spent a few weeks on older music and The Beatles, I was like, “Fuck. This is nuts.” They covered almost every genre.
It’s funny you say that. I think yes, a lot of people would. That generation is retired, probably, and they go to concerts and spend money. Hear me out: these legacy acts are really in right now. I’m in a band that’s been together for over a decade which feels weird. So with The Rolling Stones, do I care if they drop a new record? Probably not. But I don’t know; I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan, I’ve always wished they could put aside their beef and just do something like a concert.
Monday through Thursday at night, go to class at Purchase College, then be with the band Friday through Sunday. I did this for four years. It was crazy; I didn’t even realize at the time how crazy it really was. I was flying first class and being treated awesome because you’re with this cool rock band.
It’s been great. Their Tour Manager, Steve La Cerra, a teacher here at Mercy, works here during the weeks and then during the weekends works with them. When I graduated, it
You played the cowbell for them?
It’s nerve-wracking though, you realize that the band is depending on you to show up and bring the gear; we played for 40,000 people with Deep Purple in France. I also had to You mentioned working with Blue introduce them on stage and play Öyster Cult. How has that been? cowbell.
I hate to bring it up, but did anything ever happen that was like, “Oh shit, I’m fucked?”
started like, “Hey, you want to come sell merch for a show?” I remember the first show, it was at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, and I did just that.
Weeks or months later, Steve was asking if I could fill in for a couple of shows. I remember we drove down to Washington D.C. and that I have a rule, too. You know how was my first show as a music tech you can’t be President more than for them. No one really tells you twice? If you’re a band, you can’t have more albums than The Beatles. what you’re doing, you have to just figure out setting up guitars and You know what I mean, because fuck you. C’mon, you can’t do that. amps. I did that and began filling in pretty regularly; it just became So what do you think about legacy common at one point. Then it’s like, bands? I think about this all the “Oh hey. Can you do the next six time: look at groups like The months of shows?” Rolling Stones or AC/DC. Does the world need another new album, I would do monitors and all of this does anyone give a shit? other stuff. I was in grad school. I would work at Mercy part-time
Offstage. There were only three of us on the crew, and Steve was one of them. Onstage, there was the band and then two crew, which isn’t a lot. If anything goes wrong, you and this other person have to go fix it. Broken strings, amps, drumheads, anything.
Well, the average day would be like this: you’d wake up at three or four in the morning. Get to the airport; we’d play on the west coast and middle of the country a lot, I’ve been to almost every state except maybe 10. You get to the venue by the early afternoon, do soundchecks, somewhere during that you’d get food, and get everything else in line. It’s like a 22-hour day. Then you’d do it all again. So much of that is just worried about not fucking up. But we had so much fun. Those guys are amazing dudes. But sometimes, you get there and the venue fucks up something. Or airplanes would be late, and you’d miss a soundcheck. Or you’d lose bags; there’d be times members couldn’t get to the gig. You’re more
dealing with life than anything. Stuff happens. Here’s a story. The drummer’s kick pedal broke, and I was trying to fix it, but he’s still playing. It’s loud, and he’s just telling me to fix it. I’m not even a drummer. This was early on, so I didn’t know everyone that well. You learn quickly.
THE BEATLES, SELLING OUT, AND THE PURPOSE OF MUSIC:
But I did that for four years. I got to go all over Europe: Wales, France, Greece. It’s like, “What? Who gets to do those things?”
A CONVERSATION WITH SAM STAUFF OF
_____________________ I’ve read a lot about younger bands who were so focused on just playing gigs, that the production process is just non-existent. Not as much of the creative process, but the focus just became to get in and get out with recording.
Well, we were just so poor. I just had this conversation yesterday: I told a band I’m working with that if they know their songs really, really well, we could knock out the record in a weekend. All my bands in high school and college had no money; we’d book one day in the studio, everything got done. We didn’t even want to go in and until we knew how to play the song. We would literally do strumming practice and make sure that every pause was perfect, so by the time you’d get in the studio, you were good. But we didn’t have any money, man. That’s why I started recording, myself. This stuff is so expensive. How many instruments do you play? Well, none actually. I play guitar, but I’m only okay. Like if someone asked, I’d say that I produce records. (Editor’s note: Sam’s an excellent musician. And also a liar, apparently) I play guitar, I can mess around on bass, keyboards, and drums. But I think some guitarists would laugh if they heard me play. I’m a very texture-based player. I can play my songs. I’m all about making a space.
just want to do it themselves, you know?
That’s really why I wanted to start a zine. Newspapers are great, but there’s no room for art, poetry, or any other creative outlets within it.
It has to, you know? What I’ve learned is that no one is going to do anything for you; there was a long time where I was waiting for someone to want to help my bands or As a musician in an instrumental myself succeed, no one’s going to do band, we don’t really use language in that for you. our art. One time, a journalist from some New Haven magazine That’s why we’re throwing West described our work as “defiantly Fest. There were no festivals for my optimistic” which is as good of a bands to play at in Westchester, so description but he also used we’ll just throw our own. Even “beautiful, in a romantic kind of before Audiotree, we recorded our way. For all its complexity, Wess own music videos at Mercy; you Meets West is music for taking a have to just make it work for long trip in a fast car in a part of the yourself. country you’ve never seen before, or for standing on a high peak, or even, Moving into Wess Meets West a dare I say it, falling in love.” bit more, was that your first experience playing in a group that Like, what? I remember reading that didn’t really rely on vocals? while working during the Olympics, Yeah, my past bands would have I was almost crying. He’s talking instrumental moments and jams, but about my music? With journalism, you and him can take words and turn they were all vocal-based. Now, I do vocal-based music with Eager Sails. them into something humbling, I love vocals, I love lyrics, but I’m while also understanding exactly not a super confident singer. I’m what we were going for. getting better. I just love the With journalism, and zines instrumental genre. specifically, I feel like there’s so much untapped potential to tell How is the creative process stories through this mode. different when you know that Obviously, they were done a lot in there won’t be vocals involved? the past, but there’s still so much that can be done. Well, you have to find a way to keep everything interesting. That’s one of Unfortunately, it seems like that kind my biggest pet peeves about of stuff has died off. So it’s cool that instrumental bands, although I’m you’re doing it. sure some might listen to my stuff and complain, too, but Wess Meets I wouldn’t say so; I feel like D.I.Y West tries really hard to make it culture is actually making a interesting; I’m not into jam bands, comeback. I think a lot of people so every note you hear us play is
crafted on purpose. It’s all really rehearsed. We can watch a live performance and pick out all the moments we mess up. Opposed to some bands that just jam out, we don’t do that. It made us stand out from other bands in the area, but early on, I think it was in. Fewer people understand it now than they did, say, 10 years ago. I don’t think we’ve peaked, well maybe we’ve had, but at one point, people were supportive of it, but now, we see fewer people at shows, but we do much better online. It’s where a lot of this stuff seems to be heading toward. Yeah, now we’re really picky with what kind of shows we do. It just costs so much money to play shows and to travel. We’re going to London, in August, to go play in a festival, but it will cost us a lot of money to do so. But it’s also good exposure and PR for us, and who doesn’t want to go play overseas?
but you get other opportunities that give you more money. You’ll get offers to record a bands’ recordAnd you’re still getting that musical experience. Exactly. Wess makes a little bit of money, but not enough to stop all of my other income. It’s just being really about it. It’s a passion project. There’s also not as much pressure working with other bands: I know my role when I’m in the room. But with Wess, I’m responsible for a lot more. I just love to play music though. That’s why I have so many other projects. Eager Sails is vocal-based, and Wide Waters is very ambient. I could’ve thrown them under Wess’ name, but you have to respect the other guys in the group.
Wess is the biggest, though. That’s great, but with that, come expectations. We’re on a label, we have steps we need to follow through with. There are different pressures that come with working How has Wess evolved from being with a band that’s been around for so a group of college kids to adults? much longer. It’s pretty interesting. At one point, in the beginning, we were called a metal band on our first record, I guess it was slightly right, we were pretty heavy. But we’ve always tried to channel that feeling of dread and hope with our music.
The more time I spend in the music industry, the more I don’t know. Everybody does their own thing; there are people who do their own thing that’s very old school, but maybe some bands have the money to do it that way. It’s all still very D.I.Y and out of On our new record, there are pocket. I hope that moments of joy and darkness, which musicians is something we’ve always tried to understand the emulate. amount of work that it takes to make it. But with one member of the group, I’m sure journalism Andy, he doesn’t live close enough is the same way. for us to work in person. So we’ll What are you going send each other Pro Tools files -- it’s to do after you a lot harder to do it that way, I prefer graduate? for everyone to be in person, but you have to respect where we’re all at. I wish I knew. He just had a kid who’s like six months old. I’m going down that What I’ll tell you is route too, so we have to find ways to this: immerse make music and have it work. yourself. There’s so much in what you’re We were the band that practiced and passionate about; performed every week. But as you you’re 20, you may get older, you get other intern and work for responsibilities. And I hate to say it, free. But at some
point, you need money. You have to just immerse yourself. I started with going for an accounting degreeWell, it’s nice to see that that worked out. I started my MBA, but it took away from my music so much, that I said “Fuck it, let me double down on this music thing.” You have to be open to opportunities. I will not say that luck doesn’t play into it, but I don’t like luck, I like being prepared to say ‘yes.’ You’re taking advantage of things happening, even with West Fest. It took guts to put yourself out there. No one asked you to do this. Many people wait for opportunities, I’m guilty of that myself sometimes. I tell artists that if they aren’t willing to put the money down, how badly do you really want it? A lot of the money I make goes right back into my art. It’s a lot to juggle everything, but you have to wear multiple hats. When you get a cool opportunity, you have to just say yes.
By Jennifer Velasquez
SPENDTIME PALACE AND THE PARANOYDS PLAY LOUD AND PROUD FOR BROOKLYN mustachioed musicians got the crowd moving with a strong set that featured a diverse spread of music throughout their catalog.
By Steven Keehner and Super Jack
With the recent emergence of
echoing soundscapes in alternative music, we don’t really get a lot of loud rock anymore. Despite this cold reality, two bands are making it their goal to change it. They are California’s very own, The Paranoyds and Spendtime Palace. The festivities took place at Baby’s All Right, a retro bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Full of nostalgia, Baby’s is unique. Past the doors that brought you to the music venue side of the building — this featured a very intriguing setup.
Between funky electric piano riffs that made you want to dance to guitarheavy outbursts of punk rock, Spendtime Palace created such an incredible and unique sound, that describing the band in one word would be disrespectful to the work they do. You could tell that the band was having a blast on stage as they jumped around, knocked each other over, spat bad jokes, and murmured introductions at the audience — which the audience took very well. Tossing the occasional beer (or joint) to the band throughout their set, the band was as laid back as they appeared.
undercurrent of droning noise. With an unapologetic combination of punk and alternative elements, the group provided a sound that left you with a familiar feeling but also begging to hear more. Going from something you’d hear at a garage show to something you’d hear on the radio, the band was unapologetic to the music they wanted to play. There was a lot of love in the air, which must have been nice for the group because they seemed thrilled to be there. Staz Lindes, the lead singer and bassist, mentioned how they not only drove all the way up from LA to be here but how incredible it was to perform at a venue she at one point went to when she was younger. Overall, it was a spectacular night, and to see both bands before they inevitably play in much bigger places was incredible. The future is only looking up for both The Paranoyds and Spendtime Palace.
While many (wrongly) claim that rock is a dying breed, bands like Then after them came the headliners these two not only continue to carry of the night, The Paranoyds. The the legacy and influence of the Los Angeles-based quartet carries a artists that came before them but sound that shows the importance of give the inspiration to do it yourself, It included a colorful display of being able to take what works for glass lights accompanied by two which is bigger than anything else. large toothbrushes behind the bands. one’s influences and make it even On the right side of the stage was a better sounding. small old school television monitor which played “The Matrix” on mute. Having three of the four members as singers, the lone non-singer of the band sat behind The opener, Spendtime Palace, hails the drums. from the small surf town of Costa Mesa. Spendtime’s origins as a band Raw and fastdate back to their childhood, where paced was the they bonded as friends over the name of The course of their school careers. Paranoyds game. Featuring two guitarists, a bassist, With bass that synth player, and drummer, the band was loud and in began playing, and it all emerged your face, guitar from there. playing that oozed with feedback and With a sound that held an attitude off-kilter riffage, like The Strokes and a melody like and synths that The Beach Boys, these five (mostly) laid down an
By Steven Keehner 1. Pick something you’re interested in. Make sure it isn’t something stupid,
like punk rock. 2. Find some friends and assign
the name of your zine.
8. After you find out that your brilliant name
3. After most of them drop out, find some
is taken, find another one.
9. Look at other zines, posters, and
4. Get access to a program such as InDesign,
publication-related stuff. There’s no shame in
Microsoft Publisher, GIMP, or even Google
taking inspiration from other people. Just
Docs. Remember, the key here is to be as
don’t be a dick and copy/steal their work.
cost-efficient as possible.
10. Begin creating your content. There’s no
5. Decide what your content will be. Art,
real limit on when it has to be done, but
interviews, opinion pieces, whatever. There
keeping yourself to a certain time frame
aren’t any rules to this.
ensures that your idea becomes a real thing.
6. Choose a name for your zine.
11. Start plotting out your content. Make sure
7. Spend way too much time contemplating
it makes sense to the reader. I suggest
FRANKI’S ISSUELY PIECE OF HELPFUL AND NECESSARY ADVICE:
designing each page in sets of two, compared to one, as that’s what your reader will probably see, which’ll let you keep it interesting from a design perspective. 12. Once your zine is finalized, maximize the number of zines you can print. If you can get away with not spending your own money, do so. Try to get an online version too, because that’s always convenient.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that ice cream and/or pizza can’t be had for breakfast.” -Francesca Simone, 2020
13. Distribute them. Cafés, music shops, libraries, wherever. It may take more labor, but it is what it is. Promotion is everything. But have fun! 14. You did it. Good job.