Refuelling the snarl: chewing the Sonick Plague flesh with Ken Cuccaro

Ken_RingMaster Review

Already this year, many old treats and classics which were lost to the radar of the many originally, have been unleashed again on the metal scene from decades past. Many of the bands are seeing a new lease of life and one certainly looking like re-igniting a previous blaze and more is West Virginian thrashers Sonick Plague. Linking up with Pavement Music, the band has re-recorded and re-energized their 1988 debut album What’s the Purpose, breathing new ravenous breath into it as it comes now as a self-titled proposal. We as so many missed the band and record first time around and were caught by surprise by the new release because of it. Now all we want is to hear and know more, so with thanks drummer Ken Cuccaro who kindly sat down to indulge our nosiness, we explored band, album, and plenty more…

Hello Ken and many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

The band has just re-released 1988 debut What’s the Purpose via Pavement Music; but not just set the same version free again or simply re-mastered it as so many old encounters being uncaged again are, but re-recorded it. Was there a particular reason for going down that route?

We really needed to. The first one sounded pretty bad, we lost the masters and really just wanted to start fresh again. It’s very much like giving the old stuff a shower.

SP_RingMaster ReviewDid you look at the songs any differently for the fresh recordings from first time around and they take on a new relevance for you when approaching them?

I wouldn’t say we looked at them differently, but as far as new relevance absolutely! Damn a lot’s happened in 30 years! I’m laughing my ass off right now because of how we approached them. Very carefully, like sneaking up on a gator. We had to make sure we could still play that stuff. Although we all kept playing over the years we’re older and beat up. Hell poor Sean had 2 broke feet when we first got back together.

Obviously technology has changed over the decades. Did you make particular use of modern possibilities in recording the songs or went for a more raw and organic approach to again and successfully ignite the same vital character of their first appearance?

We went for the more organic thing. We played live in the studio and really wanted to try to capture the energy again. There were definitely some modern amenities [the studio did have a great blender] we used but not too much. We didn’t want it to sound robotic and triggered, and all that shit. Not knocking anybody’s stuff, I just personally feel the metal and thrash stuff now is so electronic, click tracked, and feels the same. Some of these guys are awesome but everything sounds the same and is just so cut up. Again not knocking their musicianship there are so many great bands out. Right now there’s a guy reading this saying “these guys are so fu@#$kin old they don’t even know how to use the shit and they suck!” That’s ok; we probably could still kick your ass. I think the people that listen to this stuff want to feel that energy and little variations in the music, it makes it human. We recorded at the Carriage House Studio the place was incredible.

Apart from the obvious change in sound quality etc. did anything else brew up in songs when recording the new versions which maybe was unexpected or added something different to additionally enjoy?

I only know one way to play ‘em. Chuck and Matt put their own stink on it. I personally was shocked how well Sean’s voice held up over the years he can still belt it out. But all in all we kept it very close.

Obviously the original recording of the album was with guitarist Tony Teodoro in the band. Sadly he died a few years ago. Did you find there was some emotional intensity around the new recordings because of his passing and presence first time around?

Absolutely! Me personally whenever I get an ache or pain I think of what he went through, it kept me going. I don’t think anybody in the band didn’t think of him every day we were recording this.

It was his death, which the press release said, brought the three of you together again and talking music, the band eventually to full strength with the addition of Matt Dupre. Was that indeed the spark or were there already thoughts of maybe reuniting in maybe one or two of you?

No that was it. That got us talking about it again. It’s strange how a tragedy can change things.

The new album is simultaneously a reminder, revisit, and introduction to Sonick Plague for fans old and new. Is it also any sort of teaser to the new songs and sounds you guys are working on?album-cover-_RingMaster Review

Well sort of, we still got some tricks up our sleeves. That was kinda what we had in mind, turn some new people on to our old stuff and some of the old timers on to our new stuff. A lot depends on the listeners, if we’re lucky enough for them to like it we’ll do some more…Maybe in less than 30 years.

Can you give us any clues as to what you next release and songs will offer? Any spoilers?

I’m not going to tell you shit. It’s a surprise!! It’s definitely heavy metal rock and roll. You can get sweaty to it with your girl.

Between the two periods of the band, how musically were all your times taken up?

We all played in different bands, definitely kept playing and raising our kids. Myself I did a lot of hunting and a retreat in New Zealand where I was taught the ways of a true warrior killer. I had to do it for work. They wouldn’t use me as an extra on the Lord of the Rings set. I was sad about that.

Are these experiences you would say have impacted or certainly are spicing up the heart and nature of your new tracks?

The warrior thing yes. The guys are in constant fear of my wrath. I could snap any of their necks in a second for no reason what so ever. We all still have a lot to be pissed about and we’re broke. That’s what keeps us young and energized.

There is no denying something very familiar to the album yet that comes from the bands and releases filling ears and lighting appetites since the songs were first impacting on the thrash scene. Has it frustrated that some others have found greater recognition with a sound you all helped originate way back and which has obviously inspired them?

I’m asked that a lot. I wouldn’t say frustrated …yea let’s stick with frustrated. We worked our asses off, but it is what it is. I wouldn’t have minded making a living playing drums but things happen for a reason. I’m not pissed that other people “made it” I think it’s cool whenever anybody gets success in what they’re doing. I just find it extremely sad that nobody picked up any of the great bands in Connecticut back in the day. You had Liege Lord, Skeletal Ambitions, Disaster, Forced Reality, our old touring buddies Lost Generation, that’s not even scratching the surface. It seemed if you weren’t from the bay area they didn’t want to know you. It’s too bad there were some great music people missed out on. Maybe we should have switched to rap.

How did the link up with Pavement come about?

Chuck busted his ass hookin’ this stuff up. He’s the motor, our little energizer bunny. He never stops working at this. Pavement has been incredible, great bunch of guys.

SP2_RingMaster ReviewThe live side of Sonick Plague is as alive as the recording side?

Better! I always thought we we’re a workin’ man’s band. I love that energy you can only get from a crowd.

What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

We’ll see. It’s our middle aged crisis experiment. It really depends how the music sells. Hopefully people will dig hearing our old brand of thrash. I know we’re having fun playing again.

Once again thanks so much for chatting with us, anything you would like to add before we let you go?

YUP! Thank you so much to all the people who are still showing an interest in this band this has been really cool! I never thought in a million years people would even remember us. We wouldn’t be shit if it weren’t for all the great people in the metal community. Its guys like you who keep this stuff pumping. THANKS

https://www.facebook.com/sonickplague    http://www.sonickplague.com/

Read the review of the Sonick Plague album @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/sonick-plague-self-titled/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 30/07/2015

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The Since Monroe Interview

One year since their formation UK indie rock band Since Monroe have garnered a strong and enthused attention and just as eager acclaim for their energetic and punchy rock, punk, and garage rock sounds. The Birmingham band is one that whether on stage or with their studio recordings leaves one wanting more, something their debut EP Lost Generation which they released on their own label Younitee fully proves. Seizing on the chance offered to find out more about the band we had the pleasure of asking Since Monroe all about them, the EP and more.

Hey Guys, thanks for talking to us.

Thanks for having us!

Would you first just introduce the band?

Trig – Vocals, guitar (25)

Andy – Lead guitar (27)

Matt – Bass (19)

James – Drums (27)

How did you all meet and what was the inspiration to start Since Monroe?

Trig: Andy and James have known each other a while and they had some ideas to start a band with catchy riffs and also a pop element. They had previously been in a band together before Since Monroe (Paradise Valley). When James realised that his Alan Partridge style vocals were not happening, they asked me to join. I knew the guys through mutual friends. Matt joined when the original bass player Ben left to pursue his music teaching career. Andy and James are the riffs, Matt and I are the melody makers!

So Since Monroe is not your first venture as musicians?

Matt: We’ve all got a wealth of experience. James has been in several bands (Governors of California), as has Andy and they were in Paradise Valley together. Myself and Trig (who is my brother) were in a band called Wiseacre. I also have a solo acoustic project with 2 EPs to date.

Just a year old the band seems to have grown and drawn eager attention at a rapid rate from almost day one. How has it been and felt being on the inside?

Andy: It has been quite overwhelming so far. We cannot believe the speed at which things have picked up, long may it continue!

Tell us about the eye catching and thought inviting band name.

James: Well I thought “Monroe” would have been a cool iconic name for obvious reasons and the rest of the lads idolise her.  But we decided it needed another word to it and “since” was the most interesting one I could come up with rather than obvious one’s like “Dead Monroe” (which is a bit morbid anyways), and many terrible others.  I think there’s only one Since Monroe which gives us a major score on google’s search engine.

Your sound has a deeply varied flavour which sees different people calling it different things. How do you describe your music?

Trig: 90s rock with a modern twist of pop, riffs and melodies. We just want to be the new Weezer! (laughs)

What are the major influences that have helped shape your music?

Matt: Bands like Foo Fighters, Weezer, Nine Black Alps and Arctic Monkeys. We aim to get a mix of pop and hard rock in all of our songs.

And for your personal playing styles?

Andy: Face melter!

James: Loud and energetic.

Trig: Weird chords and lots of feedback.

Matt: Melodic Bass, but can crank it up when needed.

You have just released your impressive debut EP Lost Generation. How has the response been so far?

James: I’ve been impressed with the positive feedback and great reviews we’ve been getting (including the one from yourselves), we find out soon how we are doing sales wise, fingers crossed!

Tell us about the four songs that make up Lost Generation.

Andy: Well DJ was written just as Valley was finishing, the idea came about from overhearing a phone conversation as well as a viral campaign by a fuel named brand of jeans.  The actual meaning of the song is pretty dirty I’m surprised no one has figured it out yet or it may just be our warped little minds.  The rest of the songs are little digs at the state of music at the moment with likes of X factor.      

Where do you get your inspiration for the songs, especially lyrically?

Trig: I like to write fun lyrics, but I also like to have a pop at other bands, people in the music industry and make tongue in cheek remarks. Lost Generation is about how music reality TV shows are getting far more attention and critical acclaim than artists who write their own material, which I think is killing original music.

How does the song writing process work within the band?

James: Well we have different ways of writing, sometimes me and Andy will work through an idea and let that evolve into a song or other times Trig and Matt will bring an idea to the table and that’ll turn into something after a bit of a jam, the basic ideas are always structured beforehand though.  It’s very rare for all 4 of us to be in the studio at the same time and come up with a song.

What is the most often seed to your songs, music or lyrics?

Matt: Definitely music, but we still take writing lyrics just as serious.

Is the quartet of songs on the EP the first songs you have written? I ask as I know you are writing and working on an album now too.

Trig: They are four of many songs that we have written, but I would include them as part of our 1st era. I think the 2nd era will be a little heavier!

How did you record the EP, as a lot of bands do as live takes to get that raw and energetic power you have on it?

James: You won’t believe this but it was recorded over two days in a practice room at a studio in Birmingham between Christmas and New Year, we made it our home for two days solid, the tracks were done individually but we’re glad we caught the raw element still which is hard to do when you go into proper production.  We have plans in place to try it a bit differently with the next release so we’ll see how that goes.

Tell us about the EP cover, any meaning behind it or just a simple fun picture?

Andy: It was an idea I had and I made it myself out of plasticise, the bear is a bit of an in-band joke.

Does the EP give us a deep flavour of the album or will there be many more surprises and directions involved?

James: The EP is just a taster, the free track giveaway is probably more of an indication of where we’ll be going, the pop will still be there though don’t panic!

And a release date for the album?

Trig:  With how well things are going at the moment we hope it will be the fall of 2012.

As you mentioned you are currently giving away a free track off the forthcoming album. Tell us about that and where people can grab the great track.

James: You can get the free track by going over to http://soundcloud.com/altpr/matchstick-house

From the vibrant and energetic tracks on the EP one gets the impression live you leave nothing in the locker?

Andy: Absolutely! Gigging is the best part of being in a band and we go for it on stage. You find it can take days to fully recover, especially for James with how hard he hits that kit, he needs to calm down a bit!

You come from Birmingham and one assumes there is a healthy scene for new bands there. What is the reality especially in finding gigs to play?

Matt: You’d think so; however, it’s pretty quiet. Birmingham has always been known for its Metal bands and that is the main scene you get.  It’s relatively easy to get a show its just getting the support which is a great effort. There are some great venues to play though like the Academy and the Flapper and Firkin.

Where is the best place for people to find out your upcoming shows?

James: Best place for people to check is out bandage tab over at our Facebook page which you can find by going to http://www.sincemonroe.com

Other than working on the album what have you in store for 2012?

Andy: Just to get our sound out there as much as possible and keep playing the shows, it’s our best chance of doing anything musically anyways.

Do you set yourselves targets or just let things evolve as they do?

Trig: A bit of both really. When we first started we had targets such as writing and recording demos. Then that evolved into the EP and then the progression started and doors opened to other opportunities, i.e. radio play and a festival slot at Gosport on June 3rd.

Any bands you would especially like to share stages with?

Trig: Nine Black Alps and Biffy Clyro are up there. We have enjoyed sharing the stage with our friends the Plastic Glasses on numerous occasions.

Once more great thanks for talking to us. Any last words you would like to share with your fans?

James: Please buy the EP so I can get myself a new pair of jeans (just joking), on a serious note for anyone who has brought the EP we’d like to say a huge thank you and please come check us out at a show, empty rooms put frowns on Trig and Matts’s faces 😦

And finally leave us with a song that has inspired and lifted you the most no matter what the day and life brings.

Build me up buttercup…..

Read the review of the Lost Generation EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/since-monroe-lost-generation/

The RingMaster Review 24/04/2012

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Since Monroe: Lost Generation

One year since their formation UK indie rock band Since Monroe mark the event with the release of their stunning debut EP Lost Generation. In the short time of being a band the Birmingham quartet has firmly grabbed attention and acclaim with their energetic punchy songs and live shows that leave a breathless crowd gasping for more. Lost Generation though will make those early months seem like a breeze upon their talents once it gets its four irresistible claws of sound into the ears of the masses and much larger waves of furore comes their way.

The EP rumbles, taunts and lights up the senses with irrepressible melodies, barbed hooks, and an infection which no cure can alleviate, though once it gets its eager sonic grip around the ear there is only welcome submission to the incredible sounds on offer. With a blend of indie rock, punk, and garage rock each and every one of the four songs the EP consists of takes the heart on a vibrant and tumultuous ride, battering and serenading to equal effect. Released on Younitee their own label, Lost Generation is a deep feast of constant pleasure.

The release opens with all systems blazing and intensity notched to full. DJ swaggers in with hefty dirty riffs and a broad powerful sound. The bass of Matt Tregortha growls from first note to last, a beast awakened whilst the guitars of Trig and Andy Clifford rile up the senses with sounds pulled from the hottest garage pit. It is delicious; the intense building wall of dark grumbling sounds veined with impressive melodic vocals and all caged by the firm rhythms of drummer James Bradley is like a caged prize-fighter, tight, lean, and muscular. It is a mighty and impressive beginning.

Jack Kahuna Laguna takes over with the same intent to consume and exhilarate which it does to great satisfaction. The blues tinged guitars make contact first before the return of the weighty formidable riffs the band offer with the ability of seasoned veterans. As with the opener and the remaining two songs, the track is welcomed like a heartfelt friend, it has a kind of familiarity which enables one to jump into and join in with the catchy choruses and vein bursting energy. The riffs hold one down firmly to allow the other elements of the song to manipulate and pleasure.

Another strongly agreeable bass riff veins the title track. Like an unrelenting siren the fingers of Tregortha prowl and pounce upon the ear as they bring a deep addictive to the senses, his strings confident and sure of total submission to their dark charms. Lost Generation mixes up the pace and intensity to great and well written effect, allowing the ears to take a swift breath before once more thrusting enthused punk fuelled rock through them. The song builds to and ends with a climax that a media image would have one smoking a cigarette after, if you get my drift.

Three amazing songs down with Satellites left to try and complete the impressive release. The song is a lighter though no less lustful a track. Whilst the first three songs brought a sound which one could compare to a mesh of bands like Foo Fighters, The Libertines, and the Buzzcocks plus also The Psychedelic Furs which for no obvious reason kept coming into the head as the songs swaggered over the ear, Satellites has a definite Weezer influenced sound. With a coarse pop tone and caustic melodies the song shows a different edge to the band, a variety which engages just as firmly. The song does not have quite the power and grip of the previous trio but it still sets the band ahead of the majority of other bands around, many who have been trying to sound this good for years.

Lost Generation is a thoroughly impressive EP, and the mighty introduction to the UK of possibly the most exciting band to emerge in at least the past year.  Since Monroe with the EP has opened their door to a world of deeply satisfying and invitingly dirty senses teasing pleasure. You just need to walk right on through with Lost Generation.

https://www.facebook.com/sincemonroe

Ringmaster 19/03/2012

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