On December 16, 1999 I went to my first concert to see Blink 182 at the Electric Factory. I remember sneaking in a disposable camera to take photos of my favorite band. Obviously, they turned out god awful, but I still have them and they bring back good memories. I figured that was the only time I would ever “photograph” Blink 182 live. Forward to September of 2013 where I find myself at the will-call window of Sands Event Center in Bethlehem picking up my photo pass. While I’ve since moved on as far as my musical tastes go, I felt very excited to finally get up close to my former idols and photograph them.
Blink 182 started their 22-song set with the 2003 hit “I’m Feeling This” from their Self Titled album. They played a solid mix of songs from every single album they’ve released, including their most recent EP ‘Dogs Eating Dogs‘. It had been a very long time since I saw them, but their performance was as on-point as it was during their prime. The only difference now was the less frequent immature banter about boobs and dicks, which I was glad about because I didn’t feel like watching guys in their late 30’s and early 40’s talk like 13 year olds. They played some older fan favorites, like “Carousel” from their first full-length Cheshire Cat and my personal favorite, “Josie” off of their major label debut Dude Ranch. Despite having to deal with their pretty terrible crowd of fans (which about 75% in attendance seemed to maybe almost be juggalos), I certainly enjoyed reliving my youth for an evening. View the set list here.
Words + Photos by BTS’s Jon Van Dine
The Worcester, Massachusetts based band Four Year Strong took the stage second and turned the intensity up with their mixture of melodic hardcore and pop punk. They mostly played songs from their 2010 album ‘Enemy of The World‘ and played a solid 30 minute set. It seemed that at first, the crowd wasn’t too sure what to make of them. However, by the end of their set it seemed like most people had become fans, although I will never forget the few kids standing at the front of the barricade laughing and pointing at anyone who fell from crowd surfing during the set. Kids these days.
Opening the show was the LA-based band New Beat Fund, the most recent addition to the Red Bull Records line-up. They blend many styles of music ranging from punk, reggae, and hip hop and the result is something quite unique. They recently released their first album ‘($) Coinz‘. While a very young, unknown band, their stage presence made it seem like they’ve been doing this for a very long time. Before the show, I was able to spend some time with a couple of the members for a quick interview, which can be read below the following photos.
INTERVIEW W/ NEW BEAT FUND
Jon BTS: Hey dudes, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with me and talk about the band. First things first, can you tell our readers your names and your roll in the band?
Snapz: I’m Snapz and I play bass.
Button: I’m Button and I play guitar.
Jon BTS: I spent some time trying to find the back story of your band, but your history is fairly secretive. You must have been in bands prior to New Beat Fund. What’s the story?
Snapz: Well, we’re from Los Angeles, California. It all started when I came out of the womb. My brother is also in the band and we high-fived right after I came out of the womb. He handed me a bass and I immediately played the Seinfeld theme song. And we were like, “Alright, this seems to be going in a good direction”, so he started playing guitar. The first song he learned was “Dammit” by Blink 182. We then met Button here, over a rare piece of tri-tip… sliced, with some breadsticks, garlic mashed potatoes, barbecue sauce, and gorgonzola butter. Then Silky, the drummer was on top of a mountain, sipping a glass of pino grigio, wearing a silk burgundy robe and playing the tablas.
Button: We forgot the most important thing…
Snapz: He had a handlebar mustache and it seemed like a really good idea for him to join the band.
Button: It was pretty instant on that one.
Snapz: So then we decided to join forces and start a band together.
Jon BTS: And now you have an album called ‘($) Coinz’ out on Red Bull Records. Tell us about that.
Button: We worked on our EP ($) Coinz, which is about a year and a half old. We did it all ourselves – we recorded, produced, and wrote everything. We do everything by ourselves. We recorded it in our houses, bedrooms, parents houses, basements, a garage, and basically anywhere we could.
Jon BTS: Does the band take a democratic approach to songwriting, or is there somebody who is the primary songwriter?
Snapz: My brother, Bernie does most of the melody stuff. Ideas can come from everyone, but usually melodies come from him. Lyrics- we usually collaborate, and then Button here will add his ideas to it.
Button: Overall, we’re kinda like a team. Since we don’t use producers or anybody outside, it’s really just us four kind of sculpting and building together and building off of each others energy. Everything you’re hearing is just a really honest representation of what we love and what we’re putting out together as a unit. And that’s probably why people like it, to be honest.
Jon BTS: Being a musician myself and in a band that really spends a lot of time working on the production-side of things, it’s really awesome getting to listen to your songs and hear so many different sounds and production techniques across the entire EP. What is the writing process like?
Button: I kinda look at our process and compare it to a painter, kind of. When you get a canvas, the first thing you do is you sketch your early ideas onto the canvas. Then you start doing base coats and adding stuff to it. You add more colors and details as everything plateaus up. It all builds from a skeleton.
Snapz: So an idea can start with a bass line, maybe a chorus idea on the acoustic guitar, or maybe just a beat. It really depends.
Button: Every song is completely different and we look at all of our songs as completely different things. One thing we probably do a really good job of is just creating a completely different mood from song to song.
Jon: That’s what I was going to say, it seems like every song has many different influences that you can identify specfically, however it all comes together into one cohesive feeling. Then the next song has a different mood, with a whole new set of many influences. It’s something most bands cannot do, but you seem to have a common thread in each song that makes the song keep itself together.
Button: That’s because we do it ourselves. Traditionally, you write songs, then you work with a producer who puts his thumbprint on it, and then as the artist, you’re just the voice of many different people involved in the process. But this day in age it’s more about a total package of knowing all these things and putting them together. And i think probably, we do a really good job- that’s what we do best, is just putting everything together and doing it all ourselves. That’s why we have such a unique sound, because we don’t have a producer putting his thumbprint on it.
Snapz: Nor do we have a producer who takes our skeleton of a song and takes it in his own direction.
Jon BTS: So did you guys sign with Red Bull right off the bat, or did you have the album finished before signing?
Button: The album was finished before we signed. Those songs were pre-existing and we rocked it DIY for a long time- as long as we could, actually.
Snapz: We played all over LA, Hollywood, So Cal.
Button: Just hustling, slinging CDs, giving away CDs…
Snapz: Actually, one of the first places we went to promote, the transplants played at the Roxy and we decided to go there and hand out our EP after we finished it. It was very grassroots… The DIY punk idea that we all grew up thriving on. That’s what really drove the band at the earliest stages.
And we do all of our own artwork and stuff. Bernie went to art school and is a graphic artist. So he does all of our graphics.
Jon BTS: I could tell there is a very huge emphasis on the branding or visual identity of your band.
Button: The visual aesthetic is just as important as the music.
Jon BTS: Agreed! So what’s next after this tour?
Button: After this tour, we are going on tour with 3OH!3, The Summer Set, and Wallpaper. That’s gonna be nationwide starting October 16th and it’s going all the way up to thanksgiving. So we’ll be hitting the country for the third time this year.
Jon: And any releases for next year?
Button: We’re going to ride out ($) Coinz for a bit. It’s really new to everyone, no one knows about it. Pretty much no one knows about us. We’re trying to raise awareness.
Snapz: Our single, “Scare Me” just got added to MTV U.
Jon: Last question: What are your favorite Seinfeld episodes?
Button: Ooh, that’s a hard one. Probably the episode where Elaine dances.
Snapz: I like the one where Kramer lives next to the Fried Chicken place.
Jon BTS: Haha, the Kenny Rogers episode! Also my favorite.
Button: I also really love the episode where Kramer installs the garbage disposal in his shower.
Jon: Well thank you for your time, dudes. Any last thoughts you’d like to say for our readers?
Snapz: Keep an eye out for more future tour dates. You can find us on Facebook, twitter, instagram, and all of the other social media outlets.