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Experimental songwriter SAD Marquise iPhones it in

October 31, 2018

Pop Life

Text by John Morrison. Image by Charles Shan Cerrone.

It was an expensive inconvenience and a meeting with a budding rap superstar that led Philly singer/songwriter Marquise Miles (aka SAD Marquise) to a key development in his  career. “I met Chance the Rapper at a Made in America after party. We were chilling outside of the venue, and I lost my phone and all my music at that time. I asked him if he saw it. He didn’t, but I got a new phone with GarageBand on it.”

Referring to himself as an “iOS musician,” Miles explains, “I make my music solely on my GarageBand app using my phone’s mic.”

Born and raised in the Toby Farms section of Brookhaven, Miles had a musical youth, joining the Chester Children’s Chorus around age 12. Raised on a diet of R&B and soul, Miles began writing his own songs. “At the time I was inspired by Beyoncé and Brian McKnight vocally. Prince was big for me because he did it all himself, too. Legendary.” It’s telling that Prince’s D.I.Y. practice of writing, composing and creating his music on his own would serve as a key influence on SAD Marquise’s homemade aesthetic.

After releasing an EP, The Times, SAD Marquise followed up with his masterful debut full length, iPhone Pop.

Closing out iPhone Pop is “Pink Floyd,” a luminous piano ballad that clearly demonstrates Miles’ gift for constructing songs that exist as their own distinct worlds of colorful emotion and sound. In the song, Miles escorts us through a journey of pain and existential dread. “Half the world is a bastard. I preach things that I’ve yet to master,” he croons in a powerful, vulnerable tone that is part Frank Ocean, part Rufus Wainwright. The song is a fitting end to a collection of songs that exist as an ode to modern love, heartbreak and the emotional wreckage left when the two collide.

In October of last year, Miles released the Sea World EP, a gorgeous collection of futuristic love songs. Both projects were completed and released in 2017 as part of a furious outputting of creative energy and effort. “iPhone Pop took about two months to make, and it came about after I made my first EP, The Times. I wanted to make a project that was like an extended phone call through a colorful, and a little trippy, lens. Sea World was made in a few weeks. I was very inspired by the sea and its relation to sadness and emotion,” Miles explains.

Despite the downcast atmosphere that his work conjures, the music Miles creates is not hopeless; in fact it is the opposite. This is the sound of a young person wrestling with the gravity of fear and love in an age of alienation and disconnect. “I’m very into the idea of sad or melancholy songs with more lucid-feeling beats. It feels good to just say things out loud that let you tap into the hurt, but have fun with it. My upcoming mixtape, Yellow Tape, is more upbeat and light to contrast that. All my songs aren’t sad, but I am trying to create a sonic and emotional space for myself that I call my own.”

No Shame: After a mental health struggle, Petal’s Kiley Lotz is a light for others

October 31, 2018

Text by Lauren Silvestri. Image by Rachel Del Sordo.

The triumph of Kiley Lotz, better known by her stage name, Petal, seemed unimaginable only a few years ago. After relocating from New York City to Philadelphia, she returned to her hometown of Scranton early last year to enter treatment for her major depressive and panic disorders.

During treatment, she finally summoned, at the age of 25, the courage to admit to herself and others that she was queer.

“I think I always knew… but I didn’t really have examples of people who weren’t straight living their lives very publicly,” she says while sitting at a small table at Steap and Grind in Fishtown. “I just hit a breaking point where I was like, ‘If I don’t talk about this soon, I think it’s going to continue to negatively impact my life.’”

In her latest album, Magic Gone, a collection of mid-tempo pop-rock songs and contemplative ballads that she wrote over a three-year period before, during and after treatment, she wrestles with these internal struggles.

“I could have put out the record and not been specific about what [the songs are] about or what the topic is,” she explains, “but I made a conscious choice to talk about the content because I feel like it’s a universal struggle for people, and I want them to [feel] less shameful to talk about.”

The frankness of Magic Gone diverts from her previous and debut album, Shame.

“The album is so real,” states her friend and producer Will Yip, who also produced Shame and has witnessed Kiley’s evolution as an artist. “I can go on for days how she’s grown as a performer, writer, instrumentalist and singer. I don’t even consider it the same project. She’s a different beast now.”

Yip recalls how Lotz insisted on performing all the instruments on Magic Gone and recording vocals on full takes that showcase her emotional rawness and honesty.

“She’s growing into her true self, and it was a pleasure to capture on record,” he says.

Like the album cover for Magic Gone —which features Kiley crouching between a pale pink and cherry red backdrop—the songs capture a duality between more elaborate, produced songs, like the up-tempo “Better Than You” and the smoky, jazz-inspired “Shine” vs. the  more stripped-down, simple tracks like “I’m Sorry” and “Stardust.”

“They all equally strike me, but in different ways. You feel how crushing the vocals are,” says Yip.

Lotz’s big blue eyes widen with excitement when she discusses her recent tour in support of Magic Gone, which she kicked off at PhilaMOCA in June with Australian trio Camp Cope.

“The energy of the shows just felt really positive and safe and affirming for hopefully all kinds of people to come and have a good time,” she says, describing the mix of ages at the shows and the large amount of queer attendees. “I want to see how I can bring all different kinds of people together in the same space, and I feel like we were able to do that every time,” she continues.

While the album has been hailed by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, Lotz is most concerned with how others struggling with similar issues identify with the record.

“On this tour I had a lot of young women approach me and say they read about my story and listened to the record, and it helped them come out to their families, and that felt pretty surreal. I don’t take that very lightly at all,” she says. “The state of things in the world and in our country are just so bad right now, and anything I can do that contributes to hopefully making it a better, safer place for myself and others is all I can hope for,” she adds.

Now 27, Lotz has not only accepted herself but learned to like who she is.

“It’s the best [feeling] because at one point there was a very strong possibility that I wouldn’t get that opportunity,” she says.

She emphasizes though that it’s “not a linear process,” and she expects to have ups and downs throughout her recovery.

“Instead of avoiding feeling pain, I just let myself feel sad. I don’t have to react to the sadness, but I can live in it and ask for help or just go about my day. Actually feeling heartbreak for the first time was really kind of amazing,” she says.

Now refocused on her music career, Lotz refuses to become complacent with what she views as oppressive structures in the music industry. She laments the uphill struggle for women and queer people, as well as the lack of healthcare and limited resources for musicians. When she sought treatment for her mental health disorders, she had no healthcare at the time. Fortunately the nonprofit MusiCares gave her a grant.

“It literally saved my life,” she states.

As she explains the problems in the industry, she speaks faster and with steadfast determination, her expressive face lighting up.

“If you’re not actively trying to make something better, it’s going to be the same,” she says.

Lotz recently moved to Fishtown, and the Philly community inspires her activism by the active dialogues about gentrification and how to make Philly a better place for everyone. She notices the rainbow flag everywhere and says “it’s really special.”

While Lotz prepares to go overseas supporting Shakey Graves this fall, she continues attempting to find preventative solutions to issues regarding assault, addiction and healthcare in the music industry, as well as breaking down barriers for women and queer artists.

Because of her troubled journey, she understands the value in confronting those obstacles. She realizes she needs to take care of herself, and does not have to be perfect.

She offers some words of advice: “At any point you’re unhappy, you have every right to try and change that.”

Less Than Zero: Nothing Look Back and Push Beyond

October 10, 2018

Words by Emily Kovach. Photo by Gene Smirnov.

Coming in through the back door of Ortlieb’s, the legendary jazz club-turned-modern music venue in Northern Liberties, is a disorienting experience. The mid-afternoon sunlight is quickly swallowed by the club’s windowless dark and the Lynch-ian red velvet draped behind the stage, which is weakly lit by a string of party lights. The city noise is muffled, and the recycled air is tinged with stale beer and body odor. Sun spots drift around my vision as my eyes adjust, focusing first on an ’80s arcade game in the corner called “Narc” and next on a creepy stuffed cat sitting on the window of the soundbooth.

On the low stage, the guys in the band Nothing are breaking down their gear after a practice, cracking jokes and reminiscing about old Eminem songs and his connection to 50 Cent. Their conversation is awash in reverb, ghostly little echoes picked up by a vocal mic someone forgot to turn off. “What was it, nine times, that he got shot?”   

The band is moving slowly, tired after a long morning rehearsal in the cramped space. Thanks to an ongoing arrangement with the club, Nothing has been allowed to use the room for the past few years during the club’s off hours. Today, though, they’re not packing it up until the next practice—this load-out is the unofficial start of a month-long U.S. tour spanning September and part of October; November and December will find them playing a few dates across Western Europe.

The JUMP photographer is setting up for a photoshoot, and front man Domenic Palermo announces he’s going to get changed first. “I should probably be in a shirt I haven’t been sweating in for the past four hours,” he muses. It’s a small moment, but one that points to something larger: Even without a publicist on-site, or the tour manager who will soon clear the way through the ups and downs of life on the road, Palermo knows, all punk cred aside, it’s probably best to not look a sweaty mess in a magazine cover photo. People are paying attention.

And they are. Though Nothing has been steadily gaining momentum in its seven-year run, the newest record, Dance on the Blacktop, released by Philly label Relapse Records on August 24, is pushing them ever-closer to that elusive moment of “blowing up.” Press coverage, from Revolver to NPR, has been glowingly positive (the new record was scored a 7.1 on Pitchfork, if you care about that sort of thing), they’ve got close to 93,000 monthly listens on Spotify and will almost surely sell out Union Transfer (which they call their “home venue”) on October 6.

Tour is a topic that nearly all bands have conflicted feelings about, and Nothing is no different. Yes, of course they love playing live, meeting new people, seeing old friends, experiencing different landscapes and getting a change from their regular routines. But there’s also the boredom backstage, the endless days in the van (which they’ve put 140,000 miles on in the five years since buying it), the missing of creature comforts. But ultimately, it’s a job, as Palermo points out. “We literally run ourselves to E financially when we’re doing this, because to do this band at this speed, there’s not a lot of time for anything else … we put everything into this,” he says. “[So, after tour] it’s obviously nice to not be poor for a little while.”

Looking around the table while we chat, I’m struck with the incongruence of the bands’ collective appearance and vibe and their sound. They are all heavily tattooed (Palermo has so many tattoos on his chest, it looks like he’s wearing another shirt under his clean button-up), with the aesthetic of skateboarders who know how to party; foul-mouthed ball-busters with a collective energy that borders on misanthropic.

Then there’s their music, a sort of shoegaze/grunge blend that, while maintaining a certain intensity and edge, would make a perfectly acceptable soundtrack to make out to. Most of the members of the band do, in fact, come from punk and hardcore music scenes (Palermo, notably, fronted the Philly hardcore band Horror Show), and maintain their connections to those roots through their bizarre, usually unsettling music videos (including the recently released “I Hate the Flowers,” directed by London-based videographer Matt Newman), emotionally raw and dark lyrics and their ridiculously loud stage volume, by now one of their signature calling cards.


There are also stints of bad behavior, both on record (Palermo served a two-year jail sentence starting in 2002 on charges of aggravated assault) and off (rumors that the band has thrown guitars into the audience during shows), though it can’t be denied that the guys have sweet sides. For example, guitarist Brandon Setta says that a watershed moment for him with the band was their sold-out show at Union Transfer on their last tour. “That’s a show I’m glad my mom was there to see,” he says. “All our families where there, all our friends were there, huge guest list … that was a defining show for me.”

Nothing is also community-minded: To celebrate the release of Dance on the Blacktop, they threw a block party in Port Richmond, near where Palermo grew up, as a sort of thank-you gift to the city. They’ve been involved with groups like Rock to the Future and are turning their record-release show in October into a fundraiser for the Philadelphia Prison Society. Palermo is also the founder of Belly of the Beats (BotB), a new nonprofit that will work toward prison reform and help families of people in the system. Through an ongoing partnership with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, the goal of the organization is to provide funding and volunteers to inmates with legal needs, assistance to their families and support during inmates’ transition to society once their sentence is complete. A core value of BotB is the belief that “reforms for inmates and an involved/informed community with the correct resources can help enact positive change, creating a domino effect to reach the youth.”

Nothing’s record label, Relapse Records, stacked with metal bands like Pig Destroyer, Obituary, and Obscura fits more closely with the band’s hardcore past. Bob Lugowe, the director of marketing and A&R at Relapse, says Nothing embodies the label’s aesthetic of “being dark, heavy and distinctive,” and “shatters conceptions on what an indie rock band can look and sound like.” The folks at Relapse originally discovered Nothing through Jeff Zeigler, a Philly producer who worked on the band’s 2014 album Guilty of Everything.

“Jeff raved about the band to us and soon as we heard [the album], we were hooked,” Lugowe remembers. “We all came out to see them open for Deafheaven at The Barbary when both bands were relatively unknown. That show sealed the deal.”

Though their live performances are epic, specifically thanks to a volume level that threatens to swallow you whole (in a good way), the band members uniformly agree that recording is their favorite mode of creativity. “You finally eventually hear your [lousy] demo turn into a huge studio sound, and it gets you more excited to work on it in a bigger way than in your bedroom,” Setta says.

Dance on the Blacktop was recorded in the late fall of 2017, in the legendary Dreamland Studio, inside a gorgeous 1896 church in Woodstock, New York, with producer John Agnello, who has worked with artists like Kurt Vile, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. The experience was immersive, a temporary floating Nothing Island.

“We had our own house, [we were] getting [wasted] the whole time, making music, and no one could bother us,” Palermo reflects. “Don’t get me wrong, I like playing in front of people, but recording is so much more personal … you’re in your own space.”

The result of life on the island is the nine-song full-length, headed up by the record’s first single, “Zero Day.” While unconfirmed that the song title is a nod to the Smashing Pumpkins, the first few riffs of the song channel ’90s grunge without flinching. The whole album is as awash with nostalgia as it is with distortion. The song “Us/We/are” sounds like something from a 1993-era Thom Yorke and Kurt Cobain supergroup, and, run through a different sequence of pedals, the melancholy opening notes of “The Carpenter’s Son,” a song about addiction, anger and death, could easily be mistaken for early Soundgarden.

Palermo readily admits that the album is informed by the bands he and the others loved in middle and high school, Seattle grunge, shoegaze bands from England and Boston, Britpop, and some punk and hardcore. But for him, the nostalgia goes deeper, gets personal. “Our songwriting has always been influenced by what’s going on around us, life-wise,” he says. “So, this record has that ’90s nostalgic sound and has me speaking on so many things, lyrically, from my time growing up in the ’90s in Philadelphia.”

“Zero Day,” is blanketed with a bleak claustrophobia, a feeling of being trapped, stuck, withering, as illustrated in the video, where Palermo is carried in a coffin by a group of men walking under the El train. “Light abandons me/I guess/I wasn’t meant to see/Hostage of/Unspeakable mistrust/Motionless/Emotionless/Empire of rust,” he sings in that quiet-but-tortured way of so many grunge rock front men before him. “Hail on Palace Pier” is an eerie ballad, a song for the half-feral kids running amok in the parts of the city untouched by tourism and economic progress. “Lost and found and lingering/Vapor angels climb from sewer holes/Young and dumb and full of tears/It’s never a true love until it goes,” he sings at the song’s start.

Philly is important to the band, wrapped up tightly with its identity and its history. But for Palermo, especially, it is tangled in ambivalence about his tough childhood and the weariness that comes with being a native of a place it seems no one can truly escape from. He and Setta moved to New York three years ago (the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, respectively), but somehow, Philly keeps its claws in them, pulling them back again and again with its hometown tractor beam.

“You can’t manage to get out of Philadelphia no matter what you do … no one in my family ever left,” he says. “New York doesn’t even seem like a real move.”

And so as Nothing departs for tour, crisscrossing the country, unloading at different clubs each night to play in front of bigger crowds than ever, staying in nicer hotels then ever and then heading out again each morning to do it all over again, they embrace a specific tension—a very rock and roll kind of tension—between nihilism and hope. Their name implies a void, an inevitable defeat. And their music is fatalistic and dark, dreamy in an almost-nightmare way.  “Our World is Nothing” reads the banner that hangs behind them onstage each night, but this is belied by their forward progress as a band, and the victories they’ve seen in spite of all their struggles. In their songs and videos, Nothing’s world may be full of heartbreak and chaos, but the real world is opening up for them.



Death metal quartet Horrendous’ arduous path to prog-metal greatness

October 10, 2018

Idol Hands

Words by Vince Bellino. Photo by Scott Kinkade.

The progressive death metal world is abuzz over Idol, the fourth album from Philadelphia’s Horrendous, and according to the band, the experience of recording it was excruciating.

It began in 2017, when Horrendous convened in Washington, D.C., at guitarist/vocalist Damian Herring’s own Subterranean Watchtower Studios. The setting proved to be both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, they had all the time in the world to add layers and layers to the new album. On the flip side, they had all the time in the world.

“It was a very tedious project, especially at certain points, and it’s just a very technical and difficult record in general,” Herring says. “[It was] basically pushing our abilities as musicians, so that in and of itself is gonna result in a lot of redos and trying to fix things. Just a challenging process altogether.”

Drummer Jamie Knox describes the process as painful, with many weekends spent recording his parts and having to throw them out because they didn’t meet the lofty standards Horrendous had set for themselves.

“I remember the first weekend, we were driving home—I think I did three songs that weekend—and we listened to them in the car and I just wanted to cry,” Knox says. “In my head, I was like, ‘We’re not gonna keep any of these.’ ”

As painful as the process may have been, the band’s musicianship and attention to detail—and Herring’s skilled ear as a producer—shines through on Idol, from the cleanly sung vocals on “Divine Anhedonia” to the serpentine riffs and blistering guitar solos found throughout. The ominous introduction “…Prescience” sets the tone before making way for the pounding drums of the lead single, “Soothsayer.”

Obituary bassist Terry Butler, who shared the stage with Horrendous nightly on the Decibel Magazine Tour in 2017, also took note of the death metal phenoms’ meticulous riff craft.

“I thought they were a perfect blend of death metal and progressive death metal,” Butler recalls. “Killer riffs and cool time changes. They were very tight and showed lots of energy when they played.”

Though it’s been years since Horrendous really fit neatly into the old-school death metal revival category, there is no going back with Idol. With the release of a King Crimson-inspired album that pushes boundaries for both the band and the listener, they are counting on listeners investing their time in the record.

“I definitely hope that people give it some time to simmer,” Herring says. “It’s such a dense album, and just knowing how much time that we spent on it… even when we listen, it’s almost like we’re rediscovering things that we put in there that we didn’t remember. I just feel like if you don’t take care when listening to it, for certain people it’s almost gonna go in one ear and out the other.”

Red Flag Media adds Philadelphia music magazine JUMP to its roster

October 8, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 1.14.13 PM

Red Flag Media, the publisher of of Grid and Decibel magazines, is happy to announce that it recently acquired Philadelphia music publication JUMP. JUMP will now be published monthly as a music section in Grid, highlighting stories about sustainability, health and wellness, music and culture in Philadelphia. Though all Grid and JUMP content will be published in the same magazine, readers will see two different covers at distribution points around the city.

“While we know that there is an overlap between Grid and JUMP readers, we are confident that there is a great opportunity to reach more people in this cross-pollination,” says publisher and editor-in-chief Alex Mulcahy. “Both publications boast a dedicated readership, strong cadre of writers and photographers and longstanding partnerships with local and national brands.”

The first issue is currently available, and features a JUMP cover on Philadelphia shoegaze group Nothing and a Grid cover story on integrative medicine.

Made in America: Day 1

September 12, 2018

Text by Melissa Simpson. Images by Rick Kauffman.

As I enter the Parkway and look around at the sea of twenty-somethings clad in red, white and blue, flanked by two towering amusement rides, I have to find my bearings. Made in America 2018 is a concert, but it is also a spectacle.

The fresh-faced Jessie Reyez, a songstress hailing from Toronto, Ontario, sets the tone for the day with her brash and unapologetic performance. Between songs like “Figures” and “Apple Juice,” Reyez makes time to address the #Metoo movement and even asks the crowd if they have ever had to dodge negativity, phone calls, text messages and “dick.” Before leaving the Rocky Stage, the squeaky-voiced Canadian plays a few snippets from “Nice Guy” and “Good Guy” – two songs that she is featured on from Eminem’s surprise album Kamikaze that was released the day prior.


Shortly after the Reyez’s performance, Sabrina Claudio appears on the Liberty Stage. Backed by a four-piece band, the Cuban and Puerto Rican woman, clad in a burnt-orange halter top, performs fan favorites such as “Confidently Lost” and “Stand Still.” Claudio moves across the stage, body rolling and belly dancing with a soft and sensual ease that pairs perfectly with her laid back style of R&B.

Up next is 6ix9ine, or is he? He’s slated to perform on the Rocky Stage at 4:15 but is nowhere to be found. Instead of the controversial New York rapper, the eager crowd is met with a performance from the Atlanta-based rapper Trouble. The crowd, who was expecting a rowdy performance from 6ix9ine, take a while to warm up to Trouble’s southern sensibilities. Eventually songs like “Come Thru” have the audience jumping and waving to the gritty trap music.

Back at the Liberty Stage, another Atlanter rapper by the name of 6lack, takes to the stage. His mild manner while performing matches his style of singing/rapping blase’- think Drake but more singing and more chill vibes.

The MIA phone app then confirms that 6ix9ine will be performing at the Rocky Stage at 5:45. Once this is realized by the masses, a stampede of young people runs full speed to the stage. 6ix9ine performs songs from his 2018 release, Graduation Day, while running across the stage in a cloud of rainbow hair—sometimes while standing on audience members, other times while wearing only a pair of grey boxer briefs and countless “69” tattoos.

Right after 6ix9ine exits the Rocky Stage, the Terror Squad figurehead, Fat Joe, takes to the stage. He performs hits from both the aughts and from this decade, including “All the Way Up,” “What’s Love” and “Lean Back.” The crowd excitedly sings along to all of his timeless throwback.

Next up was Janelle Monae on the Liberty stage, and her set pulls heavily from this year’s Dirty Computer, and 2013’s Electric Lady.”  In previous years, Monae was known for wearing black and white suits as a nod to her working class roots. For MIA Day 1, Monae mixes things up with outfits ranging from red and white pleather jackets to sequin pants to an exaggerated military epaulette. Her hour-long set is full of women’s empowerment messages with songs like “Pynk” and “Django Jane.”

Almost immediately after Monae’s stage goes dark following a James Brown-inspired playfully vanglorious closing, floodlights and bass, coming from the Rocky Stage, fill the Parkway. Philadelphia’s prodigal son has returned: MIA is Meek Mill’s first performance in his hometown since being released from prison in April of this year. His performance, which was the highlight of day one, begins with the self-aggrandizing “Millidelphia.” This new anthem is followed by his 2012 release “House Party.” Despite the song being six-years old, the crowd does not miss a beat when rapping back the lyrics.

Throughout his performance, Mill makes sure to highlight the people who stood with him through his recent incarceration and release including Jay Z, Rock Nation COO Desiree Perez and the Philadelphia 76’ers co-owner Michael Rubin. The Philly rapper goes on to say that he is “dedicated to prison reform.”

Of course, a homecoming would not be complete without Mill showing some love to other Philly acts – rising talent Tierra Whack and PnB Rock were invited to the stage to perform short sets.

Mill also takes a portion of his set to honor recently departed loved ones and celebrities. This homage includes Aretha Franklin, Trayvon Martin, Mike Grant and XXXTentacion.

He caps off his performance with the unofficial Philadelphia Anthem “Dreams and Nightmares.” When Mill asks his DJ, DJ Bran, to pause the song, the entire crowd continues to recite the song. Once the song is replayed, his Philly fans rap along until Mill exited the stage.

Next up on the Liberty Stage is German-Russian EDM DJ Zedd. His performance is full of lasers, smoke and pyrotechnics. Zedd’s pulsing synths pair with the extravagant stage effects made the audience feel as if they had been transported to a beach in Ibiza.

The last person to take the stage for the night is 23-year-old Syracuse, NY native rapper Post Malone. Shrouded in a yellow light, Malone performs fan favorites including “White Iverson,” “Rockstar,” and “Hallelujah.” Although Malone has the entire Parkway rapping along to his song, the chill vibe of his music is an excellent wind down to a day full of excitement and energy.  

Thunderpussy: “We’re Sort of Reinventing Our Little Corner of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

May 14, 2018


Thunderpussy puts a new spin on the that classic rock sound and their stage show evokes the 70s theatrics of their heroes – Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and that ilk.

Frontwoman Molly Sides struts and spins and thrusts at the audience. Ruby Dunphy pounds on the drums. Bass player Leah Julius and guitarist Whitney Petty drive the sound that has been making crowds go crazy since the Seattle foursome launched three years ago.

We spoke to guitarist Petty about the band, their brand new album and their live show.  

How did you all come together?

Some things just work out. Seattle has a really vibrant music scene. There has been one for many decades now. We all kind of met in the arts community. Everyone was in the right place at the right time.

You all come from different sounds. Your previous band has that more hard sound. Leah’s band sounded more like an indie band. Molly’s previous band had a far out, different sound. So, are you leading the sound for Thunderpussy?

You could say that. From an outside perspective, it probably looks like that. For me, I’m so in the middle of it that it’s hard to separate from the process. When we go to the studio, it’s like, “Here’s some riffs.” Then we all work on it. Everybody brings those different influences to the table.

There are a lot of other influences that are not that obvious. Leah is really into pop punk. Ruby is studying jazz in college. She’s an amazing jazz drummer. So there is definitely a fusion going on and I think that makes for a really original take on a kind of old music. We’re sort of reinventing our little corner of rock ‘n’ roll.

Pop punk is so emo. What you guys are doing sounds like raw aggression.

There’s a lot of guttural, raw feeling coming out in the music. I got into playing guitar to kind of let that aggression out, especially when I was playing drums with The Grizzled Mighty. That was very much, “How hard can I hit these drums?”

Now, we’re all chasing a feeling, which is why we are such a great live band. The album, we’re very proud of it, it was really fun to make and even a little terrifying at times. But really, our bread and butter, is being on stage, live. We really love connecting with audiences. There’s a sort of catharsis that happens when we’re all four on stage.

You guys have been performing together for a few years, right?

I was posting stuff on Facebook and a memory popped up. I think we’re at the three year mark from our first show, almost to the day.

Why did it take so long to get the album out?

The whole thing has been a real process. We’ve been very fortunate but we’ve also been very stubborn and tenacious about our vision for it. Molly and I always had this if-it-ain’t-broke, don’t-fix-it kind of attitude towards the music business. We’ve modeled Thunderpussy on an archaic model of 70s rock ‘n’ roll. We’re super into the album-oriented rock of that era.

It took us a long time to find Sylvia Massy. We’ve worked with a few producers in Seattle, and we really wanted a producer who could guide us, steer the ship and be a leader. We couldn’t really find the right person. We randomly found Sylvia through a random phone call. They asked if we could do some thing with this producer, here’s her name. We were like, “Her?” A female producer? I didn’t even know that was an option. It’s such a male dominated industry.

We met her and fell in love. She said, “You don’t have even close enough songs to make an album. Go back and write 30 more.” We did.

When we finally made that record, we didn’t just want to throw it out. We wanted to do it right. You only get to put out your debut album one time.

You have a new take on an old sound. You’re doing a full album project in the age of singles. What exactly are you guys trying to do?

We’re just trying to do what we love instead of what the market dictates, I guess.

We found a certain producer who helped us make the album we wanted that plays from start to finish with a vibe that runs throughout. It’s just not a singles-driven project.

It was our first record. It was really important for us to do what our heroes did.

Who are your heroes?

Led Zeppelin. Aerosmith. Thin Lizzy. Black Sabbath. The pillars of rock ‘n’ roll, the ones who put on a great live show and had really great records.

We have such a great live show and everyone kept saying, “You just have to capture that feeling on the record and you’ll win.” I don’t think that’s what we want.  Putting out a record is completely different from doing a live show.

The last show we did in Seattle was our masterpiece. We’re not really able to do on the road what we are able to do in Seattle, because we have all the resources here. We had 12 back-up dancers; we brought out a jazz band and did a rock fusion set; we brought out guests; we had platforms built; we had fire dancers. We were able to orchestrate this thing from start to finish.

What should people expect from this tour?

If you come to a Thunderpussy show, I hope you’ll leave feeling fucking incredible. Really uplifted and empowered. Buzzing a little? Maybe vibrating on a higher frequency because you’ve seen the pinnacle of a rock ‘n’ roll show.

DJ Logic and Friends @ Ardmore Music Hall.

February 28, 2018


Text and images by Chip Frenette.

On Saturday night, DJ logic was joined at Ardmore Music Hall by musical guests Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits, Break Science’s Borahm Lee, Michael Travis of String Cheese Incident and Rob Compa from Dopapod.

There wasn’t much elbow room in the venue on Lancaster Avenue. As soon as DJ Logic took to the decks, the crowd moved and swayed together. The lack of elbow room wasn’t of consequence.

DJ Logic played an eclectic mix of trip-hop and R&B littered with jazz samples from one side of his mixer. One the other side was contemporary electronic sounds that set the tone for the jazz inspired set of Jamtronica that was to follow.

From the start, Lee’s keyboard solos in the jam session were prevalent. Twisting knobs and pressing keys with a graceful yet furious pace. Lee and his keyboard produced sounds that mixed with the samples from Logic’s turntables.

The night also included some guitar work from Compa.

“I have never heard him (Compa) shred like that.” said Mark Draer of Washington, D.C. “I am really glad we made the trip up 95 tonight.”

DJ Logic will continue touring, heading to New England and his native Brooklyn, before heading out west to Colorado.

Brownstein and the Disco Biscuits will begin touring in March and return to Philadelphia for three nights at the Filmore, starting on April 19.

Creepoid: “This Project Has Run Its Course.”

February 13, 2018


Text by Mike Bucher. Top image by Brandee Nichols.

The symbolism was there if you looked for it.

During their Audiotree recording in Chicago last year, the Creepoid bandmates talked about drinking lots of water and feeling old at SXSW. They played a sludgier version of “Waste,” where bass player Anna Troxell repeatedly cries “I don’t wanna waste your time.” They lacked that wildfire energy their fans crave.

It was the last day of what would be their last tour together but that doesn’t mean it was a failure. Like the end of every show, amazing or not, the house lights brighten, equipment gets packed away and everyone goes home.

Artists are successful if they make people feel something with their work. Creepoid’s unexplainable spark took them back and forth across the country because its intoxicated fans kept calling them back.

Now, fans are showing the hardscrabble Philadelphia band how meaningful that feeling is, including cross country pilgrimages, to see them off one final time – at Union Transfer on Saturday.

“This show has been a hypothetical for a while,” said Sean Miller, singer and guitarist. “To see the people who have come out so many times to support us, to have some closure, it’s really a great privilege”

The group formed out of friendship from high school together in Willow Grove. They practiced, recorded and played shows on nights and weekends while they worked – drummer Pat Troxell as a mover and music promoter, his wife Anna as an adjunct professor, Miller as a printer, and Pete Urban as a farmer.

In January 2011, they released their first full-length album, Horse Heaven, followed by their self-titled album in March 2014 and a Record Store Day EP the following month.

At that point, demand for Creepoid forced the band to seriously consider going full-time.

“We feel like time is of the essence while people are interested,” Miller said back in 2014. “While people are looking and listening to these new releases, this is the time we really need to make that move.”

So they quit their jobs, packed up everything and settled in Savannah, Georgia without Urban, who had other plans at that point in his life. The band had two weeks to settle in, break in a new guitar player, and relearn how to pack their van without Urban before a three-month tour opening for Against Me!.

They learned a lot touring but going full-time was taxing for the self-motivated group. To keep the money coming in, the band hit the road hard, playing more than 200 shows a year.

“We kept calling ourselves sharks because sharks only eat when they swim,” said Anna Troxell.

They crisscrossed the country, converting new fans along the way, but it was back in Philly when the band met Geoff Rickly, who eventually signed them to his new label, Collect Records. At a later stop in Brooklyn, the bandmates said they were suspiciously wined and dined by the label. So they signed with them, fulfilling a long-time goal and financial security.

“If someone is coming at you with endless amounts of money,” Anna Troxell said, “you should probably figure out where that money is coming from.”

“The thing is, ‘endless amounts of money’ in our world is a very modest amount from a label,” added Miller.

When they signed, the label produced their final LP, Cemetery Highrise Slum, put them on a three-week U.K. tour with a sprinter van and rented equipment. But where the money was coming from turned out to be at serious odds with the band’s morals. The bandmates said they heard rumors that an insidious character contributed money to get a band member out of jail. They asked their manager to get to the bottom of the funding and discovered it was Martin Shkreli, the hated pharma bro who raised prices on an AIDS and cancer treatment drug from $13.50 to $750.

“We found out a super villain played a trick on us and put out our record,” said Miller.

Horrified, they terminated the relationship and, with it, all the financial support they were getting.

“It was a rough pick-yourself-up moment,” said Pat Troxell.

Back in Philly, and reunited with Urban, some members moved into a standalone two-and-a-half bedroom house in Fort Washington, where they practiced and recorded their EP, Burner. They toured on the record but things weren’t the same.

Before their last show in March 2017, in Cleveland, they discussed ending the band.

“This project has run its course,” Pat Troxell said flatly. “There are punk bands that go out and tour for years and then as soon as people stop caring, they just go away.”

Instead of going away, the band made a two part announcement in December shocking fans: they were breaking up and they are throwing one giant farewell show.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Pat Troxell about the upcoming show. “As soon as we announced it, we were blown away by the response of people buying tickets. Then we were like, ‘Holy shit! A lot of the people are from nowhere near Philadelphia.’”


Photo by Mike Bucher

From Alabama to Los Angeles – only the tip of the iceberg, fans on social media are announcing their travel plans to see Creepoid one last time. A husband is flying with his wife to Philly from Colorado for the show as a Valentine’s Day present. Another couple are driving from South Bend, Indiana.

Opening sets by hometown acts An Albatross, Mannequin Pussy and Night Sins, plus DJ sets from Bushy and Nicky Money, only amplify what’s sure to feel like a jubilant neighborhood block party.

What a way to go out, with your most ardent fans flocking together for one last curtain call.


Creepoid by Brandee Nichols


Hot Leather @ The Pharmacy

January 22, 2018

IMG_7950.jpgText and images by Andy Polhamus.

Hot Leather, the musical project of Boise area-based meme artist Clyde Webb, brought a caffeine-fueled display of millennial angst to Philadelphia for the first time Jan. 13 at The Pharmacy.


Tomorrow is my first Philadelphia show!!

A post shared by Hot Leather (@kornfan420) on


In a 20-minute set, Hot Leather, which consists of Webb armed with nothing but a couple of pedals and a YamahaQY700 sequencer, burned through a string of synth-pop masterpieces sweet enough to make even the most jaded listener pine for the days of MySpace.

“I like lots of dumb things. They’re corny, but good,” said Webb, 25, who first rose to popularity on Instagram with the meme page kornfan420.

His songs, like his memes, convey a bitter suburban ennui familiar to anyone who grew up on Mountain Dew and Doritos. Trashy pop culture references abound on Hot Leather’s debut LP, Do You Remember Your Friends, which rapid-fires an avalanche of weird sex, shamelessly juvenile humor and a disarmingly sincere portrait of depression, all in a series of perfect pop songs. Over the course of 16 tracks clocking in at well under half an hour, the listener is transported to an alternate universe where Hellogoodbye opted out of love songs and switched to pop-punk tunes about being too sad to commit suicide and eating trash.

“I was conceived at a Meat Loaf concert/I was congealed in a sewer full of vomit/I was raised by a television,” Webb sings in the album’s opener, “Congealed.”

The longest song on the album is a paltry two minutes.

“All my songs are a minute long, and if they go over a minute, I’m like, god, is this ever going to end?” Webb said. “I just love writing catchy music. Why write anything if it’s not going to be super catchy?”

Still, even on an album where he expresses an insane wish to house his soul in a city of Juggalos when he dies, Webb shows a striking earnestness. His sister drowned in an accident when he was 13, and he’s been plagued by anxiety and depression since adolescence. His darker lyrics waste no time with metaphors; in several songs he states outright that he’s too unwell to function.

“I’m pretty sure depression is always going to be a part of my life,” he said.
But it’s not all nihilism and despair. Underneath his candy-coated chord changes, Webb revels in the tiny blips of joy that break up a monochrome landscape of depression.

“When we met in Seattle was the best weekend of my life,” Webb sings on his shockingly romantic ode to video chat, “Facetime.”



Webb played a second Philly show at a house venue before moving on to Boston. He was planning a move to Los Angeles, set for February. Hot Leather was born with a small built-in following from the meme page, and although he lost some followers when he pivoted to music, Webb had enough support to play a series of one-off shows scattered across the country.

“Generally, if you do anything online, people are going to hate you no matter what you do,” he said. “But people wouldn’t be into it if it wasn’t at least kinda good.”

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