About The Bands:
Straight outta Oakland, the Matches set the California music scene on fire last year thanks to twelve explosive, hook-injected songs recorded on the cheap in their basements and living rooms. Coupled with an unstoppable work ethic that included the band’s very own “Commotion Promotion” tactics, buzz on the quartet’s self-released debut E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals and the live shows that supported it spread like a virus to music enthusiasts up and down the Golden State and, as they toured small venues relentlessly, across the country.
Despite the ensuing hype that landed the interest of numerous label A&R execs, the truth is that the Matches wouldn’t be shit without contagious anthems like “The Jack Slap Cheer” or “The Restless.” It’s these songs, sounding like they were written for the bored and lonely kids loitering in bowling alleys and backyards across the fruited plain, that have sparked so much attention.
Formed as The Locals in 1997, when vocalist/guitarist Shawn Harris, drummer Matt Whalen and bassist Justin San Souci were early in their respective tenures at Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High, the group grew frustrated by the turn of the millennium at the lack of under-21 venues in the Bay Area. Commandeering a webcasting warehouse called iMusicast in their home city, they launched a show called L3: Live, Loud and Local. In an effort to promote these L3 shows, the band – now with guitarist Jon Devoto in the fold – initiated “Commo Promo,” accosting potential fans exiting concerts and clubs, student unions, dorms, high schools, malls and fast food joints, welcome or not. By performing these brief acoustic attack sets in the days prior to L3 gigs, word soon spread and the shows started selling out – without advertising or publicity.
Changing monikers in time to self-finance and release their February 2003 debut, the Matches mothballed their educational pursuits to focus on music. Veering from headlining West Coast All-Ages venues to touring opportunities with Reel Big Fish, Lit, and Zebrahead, the latter even asked Shawn, Matt, Justin and Jon to join them for a ten-day trek to Japan late in the year. Around that time a new tune, “December is for Cynics” appeared alongside Blink 182, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and New Found Glory, on the Immortal Records benefit compilation, A Santa Cause.
The group also aligned with Epitaph, walking away from the lure of those wide- open major label checkbooks. And now the energy and innovation of E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals is yours to behold, you lucky bastards.
If the Matches sound like they could be the next big thing in a way that nearly every other band only wishes they could, perhaps it’s the musical and lyrical ingenuity that steers “Eryn Smith,” an exuberant, irresistible song about falling in love with a punk rock girl. With the throbbing bass-line that launches “Dog-Eared Page” and the wry, quirky rocker “Chain Me Free,” the Matches have more hooks than your Grandpa’s tackle box. When they do tap their influences, such as the blend of Elvis Costello and the Faint in “Audio Blood,” it’s done tastefully, damn-near out of respect. And with tunes about dying for a new zipcode (“Borderline Creep”) or dying in slow motion at our own careless hand (“Sick Little Suicide”), these concise, communicable bursts tap a common nerve. Whether your memories of sneaking out a window to catch your ride to that not-to-be-missed show are from last summer’s Warped Tour or from the days when Green Day first exploded, the Matches take you back to those moments in an instant. Now that’s red-tipped Rock & Roll. Light ’em up.
MC LARS : The Graduate
“I want to be someone who people recognize and want to come to see, but stayed true to their art and message through their whole career. I want to be able to tour the world and play sold out shows. I’d love to have some mainstream exposure to subversively bring my ideas into the popular eye, as long as I don’t have to compromise what I’m doing for the sake of popularity. I want to work with more artists that I admire and be known for having one of the most fun live touring shows that has ever hit the road. I’d like to die having put out one of the most original greatest hits albums in the history of the popular music. That would be awesome. — MC Lars
It isn’t easy being a Post Punk Laptop rapper. You’re forced to lead a genre that doesn’t exist, navigate around cookie cutter superstars, push yourself to make music unlike anything else on earth and spend every penny of your own money to get it all done. You meet kids at every tour date who love what you do, yet turn on MTV and see homogenized puppets that regurgitate their genres and make piles of dough in the process. You push the boundaries of DIY and give major labels the middle finger. You hope — and know — that this will be all worth it some day.
MC Lars is a member of what he dubs the “iGeneration, a group born and raised in the time of the Ninja Turtles, cassette tapes and new wave music, who now live in the age of Desperate Housewives, Sidekicks and screamo bands. These are the kids who have grown up using the Internet as a part of their every day life. They can conveniently carry 5,000 songs in their pocket, but are faced with the glooming fact that the world’s oil supply and Social Security will both run out in their lifetime. MC Lars is the hero of this new generation, addressing their thoughts and every day struggles in his music.
Lars has spent the past two years building this group of fans, performing around the world with nothing but his laptop and lyrics. His indie EP has sold over 10,000 copies to a dedicated group of misfits, allowing him to pulse the mainstream through unexpected outlets like Rolling Stone and MTV News. All of this has led him to the decision to steer his own ship and to release the album on his own label (Horris Records) rather than fall into the major label glut. He sees little need for the traditional label trappings and would rather storm his own trail through the Internet, even encouraging file-sharing as a means of promoting his music. “I think I’ve shown that you don’t need to have mainstream exposure to get a dedicated fan base, especially when you have things like MySpace and LimeWire as creative ways of marketing yourself, he says.
The Graduate is an album chock full of wildly different subject matter, from playful and goofy to socially conscious and critical. The album opens with “Download This Song, featuring guest vocals by Jaret Reddick of Bowling For Soup; the song serves as complete manifesto on the future of music industry. “21 Concepts is a track featuring 21 different song ideas Lars rejected for the album, including an ill-fated jam about a fetus running for governor. He gives listeners a literature lesson on “Ahab, retelling Herman Melville’s class Moby Dick in under four minutes (to a Supergrass sample, no less). Lars collaborates with The Matches on a song about mallrat-infested Hot Topic and another with notorious rapper Ill Bill (Non Phixion) on “The Dialogue, a marriage that will surprise many. “The Roommate >From Hell teams him up with pal MC Chris, who is cast as Lars’ college roommate who is also, coincidentally, Satan.
The Graduate is a collection of songs that may very well be the time capsule for this generation. In a hundred years, iPods, MySpace and Hot Topic may be nothing more than a distant memory, but one listen to MC Lars’ music will bring people back to the iGeneration. The title may be a nod to Lars’ recent graduation from Stanford University, but the album also serves as a musical graduation, allowing Lars to move from sampling his favorite artists on his laptop to being able to collaborate with them in the studio. He adds, “I also like to hook up with older women like Dustin Hoffman does.