To say Calamity Menagerie is a diverse group with members from all over New Jersey may be an understatement. With a revolving line-up, this band never gets dull! Calamity Menagerie all began when Jamie (vocals/guitar) and Mike (bass/accordion) began performing acoustic sets at open-mic nights. From there, the band’s line-up grew, and they were soon joined by Stefanie (bass recorder/bass/keyboards/congas/xylophone/synth/harp/bass drum), Ryan (drums), Scruff (percussion/bass/vocals), and Allison (vocals/keyboards/ xylophone/bass drum/tambourine/synth), forming a diversely talented group. “I’m also part of The O>MATICS, and I wrote a ton of stuff that just didn’t fit in with the band, so Calamity Menagerie was my outlet for that, I guess,” Jamie says. Working with more than one band is not uncommon for the members of Calamity Menagerie, as many of the past/current members have been/are part of other bands. Jamie is currently part of Calamity Menagerie, the O>Matics, and working on a solo-project. Scruff is also currently a member of The Tea and Whiskey. “Sometimes it’s easier to be part of two bands, like when there’s a show we can play, and if one band can’t do it, then hopefully, the other can. And if I can’t play with either one, I could do a solo thing. So if I find a show I want to play, I’m going to play no matter what,” Jamie laughs. “Being part of two bands, a dog-owner, and a newlywed is a little hectic, so I don’t get to play as often as I’d like, but when I do, I always have a lot of fun,” claims Scruff. Calamity Menagerie are known for having upbeat, fun shows, drawing people of all ages in. “We’re not really profane. We have like, one song where we curse…and one that gets mistaken for cursing a lot,” the band jokes. “When we do an all-ages show, it’s the funniest thing, because you’ll have these families, like with the kids and the parents or grandparents, and in our song, ‘Happy Lucky Fun Duck,’ there’s a line that goes, ‘All I wanna do is fun, fun, fun, FUN.’ You just see these adults’ jaws…drop,” Jamie chuckles. “When we finish the song, I have to say, ‘I was saying ‘fun’, just, you know, by the way.’” “You just hear this collective sigh of relief, and then this huge applause,” Calamity laughs. Calamity Menagerie have struck a chord with adults and kids alike, much like their own influence, Oingo Boingo, struck with them. “Oingo Boingo is a band from the ‘80’s, and it’s fronted by Danny Elfman, who is a famous composer,” Jamie states. (Side-note: Most might recognize Danny Elfman as the composer for The Simpson’s theme song, as well as the singing voice of Jack Skellington in ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’) Calamity Menagerie is playing a Halloween show in which they will be covering Oingo Boingo (check out location and time on the band’s Myspace). On October 8th, they will be working once again with Jason Webley (accordion player). “He can transform a room by getting everyone into his music, and by the end of the night, everyone is singing with their arms around each other. “We got to back for him once, and I think that was a pivotal moment in Calamity Menagerie’s career,” Jamie laughs. Along with being musically-inclined, the band is also good on film (check out Tom Devil’s New Year). “I think we got all our profanity out of our system with that movie. It had like no budget,” exclaims Jamie. The band laughs, recalling the amount of cursing the movie involved. Calamity Menagerie is a band for the ages, and a sure delight! Check them out on Myspace (www.myspace.com/calamitymenagerie) and Facebook www.facebook.com/calamitymenagerie), and buy their EP ‘What Could Possibly Go Wrong?’ on Itunes now.
Jason Webley is like a character from a movie or a book. He travels the world with an accordion, acoustic guitar, and his hat. When he's at home in Seattle, he lives on a houseboat. He has shared the stage with the likes of The Dresden Dolls, The Avett Brothers, and more. Most recently he did a collaboration with Amanda Palmer in which they had a slew of special guests including Weird Al, Francis Bean Cobain, Tegan and Sara, and Gerard Way submit vocals to the album's closing track. Danny Says! sat down with Jason to ask him 11 questions (a number he seems to obsess over)
1. Which album of yours is your personal favorite?
JW: That is hard... they are all different sorts of albums, and each is my favorite in different ways. Even my least favorite, "Counterpoint" in some ways I am most proud of, as it was probably the most ambitious of them all. But generally I prefer the last two, "Only Just Beginning" and "The Cost of Living." I think they are both strongest in terms of songwriting and production. They lack whimsy a bit, but I think that actually makes them hold together better than the older records did.
2. On average, between touring, how long do you stay at your house boat?
JW: It depends. Sometimes a few days, sometimes a month or more. I was home for all of August which was nice.
3. How many countries have you performed in?
JW: More than eleven... let's count. Canada, US, Mexico, Ireland, UK, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Austria, Italy, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Austalia, New Zealand, Morocco. So twenty four, unless I am forgetting something.
4. Where’s been your favorite place to play?
JW: I guess I don't like to think in terms of favorites. I love places, all sorts of different places. I love visiting new places for the first time, and I love revisiting familiar spots.
5. How many times have you played in New Jersey?
JW: I'm not sure. The first time was opening for the Dolls in Asbury Park... I've probably been back 4 or 5 times since then?
6. Have you been able to visit the Jersey Shore between your shows?
JW: I have a couple times! Before that first show in Asbury Park, I spent a bit of time walking along the beach. It was there actually that the first seeds of the Evelyn Evelyn project were born.
7. Do you have any new collaborative records coming out?
JW: I just finished two earlier this year, but I have a few more coming down the pipe. I had hoped to have one finished this autumn, but just had my laptop stolen and am probably not going to make that deadline.
8. Who is your biggest accordion influence?
JW: I don't really have one. I started playing in a bit of an accordion bubble - not really having heard much of the music, and while I have grown to like a lot of different accordion music, not much of it has affected the way I play.
9. Who is your biggest punk influence?
JW: I liked the pop punk stuff that was happening in the late 80's... Operation Ivy, Crimpshrine, Jawbreaker. I was also into the DC Dischord scene... Fugazi, Jawbox. I'm not sure who the biggest "influence" was. The main thing that inspired me was the whole attitude that you can play shows and make records without really being plugged into any sort of industry.
10. What is your favorite non-curse word?
JW: You like favorites a lot.... there are so many nice words out there. Tergiversation. Dirigible. Transmography. I also like made up words... Sinceriously. Nongratulations.
11. And finally the question everybody needs to know: What’s your favorite vegetable other than tomato?
JW: Another favorite question! But this one is easier, because the artichoke is by far the tastiest, sexiest, thistliest vegetable that I am currently aware of. Do not pickle them and pizza them. Steam them and eat them with butter and salt.
The O>MATICS are releasing their fifth full length album "O>MATICS on Parade!" today on iTunes and various other online retailers. Their new album which has songs produced by Paul Carabello formally of The Ataris as well as by themselves in their home studio features a cavalcade of fourteensongs in a variety of styles. It opens with a new wave dance song called "Horns", which is reminicent of MGMT, DEVO, and The Killers at certain points. The second track "Blanket of Snow" recalls They Might Be Giants and Elvis Costello. "Make It Last 2.5", apparently a partial sequel to another song has Flaming Lips influence all over. The rest of the album recalls everything from Spongebob Squarepants (Peachy Keen), to Fountains of Wayne (Milltown), to Nada Surf (Distance Inbetween), to James Brown (Seymour), to punk (Not Up to You), to steel drum conga line music (Conga Inferno), to Eastern Indian sounds (Mysterious One). I'm told the online version of the album will also have three bonus tracks which are only available through iTunes and other online retailers. Tomorrow, September 15th at 8PM (EST) they'll be doing a live webcast from their site omatics.net where they'll be performing live. They are supporting the release all month with live shows all over including a 21+ record release show at The Loop Lounge in Passaic, NJ on September 17th and an all ages record release at HHVFW in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ on September 24th where everybody with a ticket gets the CD free. They'll also be playing September 18th in Yardley, PA, September 19th in Westville, NJ, September 25th in Freehold, NJ, and September 26th as a guest on the Jersey Showdown Regional Finals at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ along with Running Late, March Fourth, Rise of Razel, Overboard, Alter The Ending, and more.
There are rumors of the demise of Solfege Radio (twice featured band on Danny Says!) and this may just be fueling the fire but Statelman seems to have slid their drummer Dan over to guitar and added Solfege Radio drummer Donny and SR guitarist Jon. Whether this is a permanent thing or not we'll have to wait and see, Donny did play drums for them at Get Heard Fest back in June... Check out this video of the new lineup from the Union County Music Fest:
Standing outside a club in Asbury Park recently, an individual with a mohawk and a punk rock sense of style asked me what type of music I preferred. I said I listened mostly to punk and used some examples of my favorite bands that included the Bouncing Souls and the Descendents. Naturally, he knew of the Bouncing Souls. After all, we were in Asbury and unless you live under a rock in that area I’m sure you’ve heard of them once or twice (there is sarcasm in that statement). To my surprise, though, there was a blank stare as I spoke of the Descendents being one of my favorite bands. After having a very unsatisfying conversation with this individual, I turned to my friend and said, “This guy had no idea who the Descendents were.” My friend agreed and I went on one of my rants. My most current rant… Everyone dresses all punk rock, but really doesn’t know the music or has any passion for the scene. Try walking through the mall on a Friday night. You’ll see a bunch of “I’m so punk rock and cool” kids walking around. Why aren’t they at a show? At that age, I was at a show on a Friday night. Then there’s individuals who go to shows, but don’t actually watch any bands. They just hang outside. These are the people that get dressed up in their best “Hot Topic” clothes, pay to get into a show, and don’t watch any bands. It bothers me that so many kids don’t know the roots to our scene. If you like a band, read about their influences. It will open a whole new punk rock door to your life. For instance, if you love Green Day you should know that they used to be on a little label called Lookout Records and then you will discover Operation Ivy. If you are a hardcore fan, do some research on it’s history and you may just stumble upon a band called Minor Threat. And finally just for me… look up the Descendents! They have influenced some of the biggest pop punk bands of today.