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What Music Means To Me: Jack McCann

Photographer: Credit To Original Photographer  (Please contact us)

Photographer: Credit To Original Photographer (Please contact us)

A transplant from California, Jack McCann has utilized their local DIY scene to create a new beginning - not only in music, but friendship, and moving forward! The singer, songwriter & instrumentalist is bringing back Pop Punk in Philly, something we’re all thankful for!

Check out what they had to say about music & what it means to them down below!

Jack McCann (Instrumentalist/Singer/Songwriter)

To me, music means community and self care more than anything. I have met all of my closest friends through our shared love for music. Ever since I was little, music has been the driving force of my life. I was always singing along to the radio or having barbie karaoke parties with my friends. When I was an angsty pre teen, my online community of other “fangirls” were my closest friends. When things get dark in my life, I always have concerts to look forward to, and new releases to keep life exciting.

Since I started playing my own music in Ready Now, I have met many people in the local music scene who have become some of my closest friends. I didn’t know anyone in Philly when I moved from San Francisco a few years ago, so getting involved with the D.I.Y community is what formed my social life here. I’ve also found many of my favorite artists through playing shows. I’m always inspired and moved by how many incredible bands I get the opportunity to play shows with. One of these bands is The Afraid Brigade from Iselin, NJ. I played an acoustic show at their singer’s apartment last April, and when they started playing “I’m In Hell” I teared up. I had never heard the song before that show, but hearing the crowd sing along with the acoustic rendition was incredibly beautiful.

Ever since that show, The Afraid Brigade has been in my regular music rotation.

Emily's Top 5 Songs For Feeling Spooky

It’s important to feel spooky during the spooky season - so we’re here to help.

October is a time for many things - pumpkins, ghosts, saying you like scary movies but still having to sleep with your roommate after watching The Conjuring, and the like! We’ve created a playlist that’s sure to make you feel extra creepy crawly as you go about your day!

Gods & Monsters - Lana Del Rey

An oldie, but a goodie. I included this one for two reasons - Lana Del Rey is one spooky ass bitch who I would like to kiss, and also her voice lends itself to spooky season in basically all of her discography, so if you don’t like this song, feel free to choose any other one and it’ll have the same effect. With a cameo in American Horror Story: Freak Show, the spooky levels are confirmed by Hollywood. With Lana’s vintage style & sultry, pepper voice it’s easy to get lost in “Gods & Monsters.”


Holding On - Jenn Champion

This is one of the most recent tracks on the list, having been released earlier this year. The track is indie bliss - and Champion’s voice is eerie and soothing all at once. The track is off of her 2018 album Single Rider, and outlines being in a relationship with someone who definitely isn’t the right fit; and, while unlike any of the other tracks on this spooky list, (because it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with anything spooky), the tracks aesthetic and mood fits in perfectly with this list - plus, feelings are pretty scary, so.


Halloween - Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth is, arguably, always creepy. So, we just straight up chose “Halloween” for this playlist because, ha ha, it says Halloween in the name! Of course, we also chose this song simply because it “slaps” as the kids say. The ethereal, ghost-like sound of Sonic Youth lends itself perfectly to prepping for that Haunted House you’re going to, or prepping for trick or treating with friends.


Cannibal - Ke$ha

An old school classic about eating the hearts of men by our Lord & Savior, Ke$ha. A perfect Halloween bop for getting ready for a party, making out with your ‘BOO’ for the night. We love the empowerment of femme folx, and we love pop so what isn’t there to love about “Cannibal.” The track is an easy listen, and a classic from the “Tik ToK” era - and for feeling spooky, this will get you there!


Rattlin’ Bones - Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Do ya like jazz? Well, we’ve got some spooky jazz for you. We feel it’s important to keep the list as objective as possible, and this rendition of “Rattlin’ Bones” is sure to make you feel some type of spooky way.

We want to give a special shout out to literally any song called “Halloween” and also to everyone who said that the list wasn’t valid unless The Misfits were on it (hah, they aren’t).

5 Stupid Questions With Triac

5 Stupid Questions for Kevin Bernstein of Triac. Kevin Bernstein plays guitar in Baltimore based Triac and runs Developing Nations recording studio, also in Baltimore.

Gene: Hey Kevin, I was wondering, would you want to do my “5 Stupid Questions” interview thing?
Kevin: I can think of a lot of other things I'd rather be doing. Is this really the first question?

Gene: My band is recording at your studio and I’m actually looking at your back right now. Do you work out? If so, how do you get your back in such great shape?
Kevin: I don't work out enough to say that I work out. My mom and dad both have good backs. Luck of the draw, I guess.

Gene: Aren’t you a bit old to be messing around with this music nonsense? When are you gonna get a real job? And maybe a haircut too?
Kevin: Listen bud, the only thing getting old around here are these dumbass questions. I will, however, probably cut my hair soon. Long hair is mostly an annoyance. Looking cool isn't worth the hassle. A real job does sound nice though. 40 hours a week doing something I hate is probably better than 50-60+ hours of doing something I sometimes enjoy but mostly still sort of hate. Thanks for the tip, dad!

Gene: What is your favorite record you’ve ever worked on, either as a musician or a producer?Kevin: Hands down, Genocide Pact's "Forged Through Domination" is my favorite LP I've ever recorded. Top to bottom, the entire record is fantastic. An added bonus is that, sonically speaking, I don't think I fucked it up too badly. They're coming back very soon to record a follow up LP, and I really hope they don't blow it. That sophomore slump can be a real killer. Other than that, most of the rest of my catalog is crap, but the new Ilsa LP coming out later this year is also quite stellar.

Gene: What if God was one of us? You know, just like, a stranger on the bus?
Kevin: I don't often ride the bus. Thankfully I live above the studio, as I really try to not leave my house. So I'd probably never run into this god person. Are they cool? Should I have them over for tea?

For more useless info, check out Triacs below!

Triacs: Bandcamp

5 Stupid Questions With Fuck The Facts

Melanie Mongeon does vocals for Ottawa’s Fuck The Facts, one of the world’s premiere Grindcore bands. Check out our 5 stupid questions interview down below!

Gene: I gotta ask, what is with the name? What did the facts ever do to you? Why are you angry at them? LMAO BET YOU’VE NEVER BEEN ASKED THIS BEFORE!
Melanie: Topon is the one that picked the band name when the band was still only his solo project. It is a song title from a John Zorn recording. For him, the name reflected a certain freedom in music styles he wanted to have with that new project. As for the facts in general, i like them and we need them. With the general overload of information and disinformation we are surrounded by in the various media forms, they are sometimes hard to find!  
 
Gene: Your band’s early material used Mullets as one of it’s central thematic devices. If you had to make your next album about a particular haircut, which one would it be?
Melanie: Still a mullet. Seriously, it is hard to beat. But if really have to pick another one, i guess it could be faux hawk. Someone needs to start a band called faux hawk. I googled quicky and found a Fauxhawk band.. too late for me I guess!

 
Gene:
You guys have free health care in Canada. Do you find that this makes you more reckless with your personal health? Do you get on a motorcycle and are just like “I don’t need a fuckin’ helmet, I got socialized health coverage, HIGH FIVE!”?I
Melanie: I can only speak for myself, I will keep on my helmet when on my bike. Free healthcare, I don't think it makes us more or less reckless and I personally prefer being safe. On the other hand I have always wondered, why are some people not wearing helmets on motorcycles in certain US states. As a Canadian, it blows my mind.
 
Gene: Full Disclosure: Fuck The Facts is one of my favorite bands and “Disgorge Mexico” is one of my all time favorite albums. What was the inspiration for that album, both musically and lyrically?
Melanie: Thanks! For the music, Topon and Vil wrote it together, and I added lyrics after it. It was just the 3 of us from the writing process to the studio. The artwork relates the tale of a travel from the canadian border to the mexican border.  
 
Gene: The only time I went to Canada I went to the Perkins in Niagra (Perkins is the Canadien version of Dennys). Have you been to that Perkins? If so, what is your favorite dish?
Melanie: Never been to Perkins, but we also have Denny's here. I went once to Denny's when i was younger and could barely speak english (i'm francophone). Back then, I figured that it was what the English Canadians liked to eat : just alright overpriced food. I haven't been since. But i have been to Waffle House in the US... nothing memorable there, but price was more in my touring budget then at Denny's.

Fuck The Facts: Bandcamp // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

5 Stupid Questions With Downtrodder

Downtrodder are a 4-piece from Philadelphia that play post-hardcore, but not that stupid mallcore crap. Check out our 5 Stupid questions interview with them down below!

Gene: First of all, as a band, as a group of musicians playing music with such passion and vigor, I have to ask: who let the dogs out? What is the prevailing theory you all have? 
Downtrodder: Our sense, based on a vivid remembering of a book we read in middle school, George Orwell's Animal Farm (the literal bible for folks who want to force an argument about politics in crowded basements while a band is playing), is that the dogs were actually enforcers of an illegitimate authoritarian regime and that the Baha Men were trying to warn any farm animals in the area that a raid was in effect. The idea that the dogs themselves were some sort of metaphor for authoritarian communist rule is incorrect however, as these dogs were literal cop-dogs. The fact the the song was such a hit speaks to the scientific value of  the Top 40 radio chart as a barometer for increasing "woke-ness" among the teenage population in the new millennium years (consider as well the contribution of Eiffel 65's "I'm Blue" to the advent of neoliberal disdain for green party candidates). Had memes been popular back then, we may well have experienced a full-on political revolution. 

Gene: Ketchup, mustard or mayo? No, you can’t be edgy and say “relish”. These are the only three possible answers. And don’t ask what you’re putting it on, that’s irrelevant.
DT: We don't eat food, sorry.

Gene: What was your favorite Playstation 1 video game? And why was it Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater?
DT: This is nonsense, Gene. The greatest game for the system you mentioned was, and always will be Toby Hank's Pro Blader 2. 8 wheels were always better than four in the scientific community we were all raised in. We constantly fought over who would get to play as Campbell Cream, and groaned whenever we had to settle for Bam Bam Marinara or Ryan NyQuil. 

Gene: I feel like you guys have gotten both heavier and more melodic since I last saw you guys in 2016. Has this been a conscious artistic decision or just something that came about naturally?
DT: I think it is a little of both. With our lyrical message becoming more and more direct and deliberate with every song, it seemed fitting to add a bit of depth and grace to the sound rather than stick to a kind of sonic assault. We try to make our songs more textured and pensive than the last and we're really happy with what we've been developing. Thanks for noticing!

Gene: When you buy a movie ticket and they say “Enjoy the movie,” do you ever say “You too!” and feel like an idiot?
DT: Yeah. All the time, and in many different scenarios. Especially when the woman at the front desk shouts that the Star Wars young adult novels I checked out are overdue as I woefully drag myself out of the public library after using their free internet connection to google all the nice things Pitchfork and Noisey are saying about our band. So embarrassing.

Downtrodder: Bandcamp // Facebook

5 Stupid Questions With Pig Destroyer

Below is an interview with Blake Harrison from Pig Destroyer, as our new interview series gets underway, check out these 5 stupid questions below! Blake Harrison does sampling and power electronics for legendary Grindcore band Pig Destroyer. He also used to play in Hatebeak, a Death Metal band with a parrot lead singer.
 
Gene: First of all, what’s the deal with airline food? Like, seriously, what is the deal?
Blake: This is a tough one. United just made Bobby Flay their caterer, so they decided to punish their travelers in a different way.
 
Gene: A few weeks ago I logged onto Facebook and saw that you were selling your beanie baby collection and noticed you said that “most of them still had the tags on.” My question is, why do those things still have the tags? Aren’t you too Metal for the tags?
Blake: By "Beanie Babies" I meant heroin, and by tags I meant "kilos."
 
Gene: Do you ever get so relaxed in public that you unwillingly let a fart loose, and then desperately try to ignore the smell, even though it’s very obvious that it has hit the nostrils of the people around you?
Blake: Doesn't everyone?

Gene: On the Pig D albums, how much input do you personally have over the noise and effects interludes? Do you have any influence over the actual songs or overall “arc” of each album?
Blake: All of the input, on the new one, I should have a more noticeable role. The arc of the record is kind of its own thing, it influences you, not the other way around, but I try to cater my stuff to fit the lyrics or the vibe
 
Gene: What ever happened to Fergie? She was so talented! How does someone disappear like that? Didn’t the Black Eyed Peas play the Superbowl halftime show a few years ago? Damn, time just flies.
Blake: The real question here, is has anyone ever seems Fergie and Guy Fieri in the same room?
 
Blake: Also, I'm still in Hatebeak.

Pig Destroyer: Bandcamp // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Artist Interview - Ecclesiast

Photography:   ©Eichelberger    Photography 2016

Photography: ©Eichelberger Photography 2016

After the release of their newest EP, Ecclesiast sat down with The Hook to talk about really cool stuff like what they're about, future plans, and what it's like to have a brand new EP under their belts!

Check out our interview with metalcore band, Ecclesiast, below!

1.  Congrats on the new EP! How has the reception been thus far? 
The reception for the EP has been incredible and better than we could have ever hoped for! 

2. Did you have any goals set in place for what you wanted to accomplish with your debut release?
With this release, we just really wanted to lay it all down on the line and show you all where our hearts were and what we were going through personally in our own lives, in hopes that the listener would be able to relate in some way, shape, or form.

3. What was the writing process like? How quickly did it take for the material to come together?
The writing process was honestly one of the best parts of this whole album. After various changes, we each just came to a good and solid conclusion on what the songs would be, what they would mean, and in turn, what the end product would sound like. Bouncing ideas off of one another has always been a strong suit of ours and we plan on utilizing that for the upcoming full-length album.

4. Ecclesiast may fit comfortably into the metalcore genre, but the band nonetheless has a unique approach, especially in your melodic sensibility. Care to divulge any prominent influences?
While each of the band members do have similar influences, ranging from Slipknot, to War of Ages, we each had our own take on the album and how we present our own musicality. I [Tyler] grew up on blues, jazz, and classical music, and with that, incorporated that into my own playing, for heavier genres.


5.  "High Horse" was a great single to introduce people to your sound with, but all the material on the EP stacks up as well. Do you feel "High Horse" in particular embodies what Ecclesiast is all about?
“High Horse” was chosen to be our single, for the sole reason that it indeed is what we’re all about. We’re all about compassion and change. We believe that an individual can always better themselves for the better of society, and the world, and that even if man has fallen so far behind, we can always get right back up on our feet.

6. All of your music has a really prominent message of redemption. Do you feel like you've dealt with that a lot in your own lives? 
As many people do in their lives, each of us have dealt with our own personal hardships and trials throughout our walk of life and have therefore been able to incorporate that into what we’re doing, to create very honest, very real tracks for you guys to listen to. Redemption was something that really resonated with each of the songs, because that’s each of us strived for at one point in our lives. Reaching for a better cause, a higher purpose.

7. When do you guys think you'll be working on more material?
While we’ll more than likely be keeping it under wraps for a good while, we’ve actually already been working on more material for future releases and are excited to share it with you guys in the future.

8. Can we look forward to any tours in support of this new material?
You can definitely expect a large amount of shows, as well as some out of state dates, in support of this new material in the future. But as for now, only time will tell.

9. We saw that you guys are playing with In Dying Arms, It Lies Within, and Sea of Treachery when they come through on their Fight The Parasite tour. What was it like getting in contact with them? 
Getting in contact with these bands was an awesome thing. Each of us actually really love the music that the bands on this bill have put out, and admire what they’re doing, so this show is sure to be one for the books.

10. What three bands, together or not, would you dream of touring with?
It would be an absolute honor if we were able to tour with Oh Sleeper, Gideon, and War of Ages. Seriously, that would be one stacked line-up!

Huge thanks to Ecclesiast for being super rad dudes who make heavy-hitting, powerful music!

Ecclesiast:  Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Artist Interview - Alive & Well

After the release of their most recent album, and a slew of shows and really great achievements, The Hook had the opportunity to talk to Alive & Well about how they're doing, what inspires them, and how they like their grits! 

Check out our interview below!

1. How’ve you been (Because it’s polite to start any conversation with checking in on the person you’re talking to.) 

Mike - We've been great! Our video for 'Addictions' just came out through New Noise magazine and we have a bunch of shows coming up! 

2. To get straight to the personal stuff, would any of you identify as a “cheese person” or “sugar person” in regard to grits? (Seriously, a person’s identity lies in the answer of the question.) 
Mike - Oh man, for grits? Salt and butter. Cheese is good basically all the time for anything though. String cheese, is a favorite because it's perfect for on the go scenario's, which I find myself in often. Sugar isn't really necessary to add to anything. Only add it to coffee if you're gonna pound it and get a fuel boost. Then add tons. I call that Space Juice. 

3. It seems that your music focuses on acceptance and freedom. If I could describe your music in terms of food, it would be sweet, maybe comfort food, but the best kind, like Oreos and Pizza. Would your music be encouragement to others to enjoy their lives as it is or is it a statement, telling the world that you will enjoy life regardless of your circumstances?
Mike - You have to find enjoyment in everything (especially oreos and pizza), but that doesn't mean you have to settle where you are and say ' yep, this is how's its going to be forever'. If things are rough right now, find something fun about it, engulf yourself in it, enjoy it, utilize it, because you're only going up and that one thing that got you by in that particular situation won't ever be there again. It won't ever have the same feeling the next time around. Everyone is always going up, so enjoy every step of the way. 

4. What inspired your song “259 Park Drive”?
Matt - 259 Park Dr. is about the house I grew up in. I had a single parent and my mom worked a lot and my friends and I took advantage of her not being there by having parties and hanging around since there wasn't much supervision. A lot of my friends who all have settled down and taken up careers, gotten married, had children, look back at that house and it represented wilder times in their lives. We all got our bearings on life there, made mistakes, drank too much, tried drugs, and had a blast as we figured out what kind of people we were going to grow up into. That song is a thank you to the people who were there as I use to have huge anxiety issues about being left alone, I still prefer being with a group but at that point in my life it was crucial to have people around in order to be comfortable. 

5. If you guys were still in basements and not at beaches, would you still make music? Would you still embrace the process?

Matt - The move from East to West was a monumental experience in all our lives and in different ways and it provided great content to write about. But our lives individually revolve around music so much that it doesn't matter where we ended up, I am pretty confident that we would still be making music no matter what. 

6. It says in your Facebook bio that you guys are collectively interested in “Enjoying the fuck out of life and what [you’ve] got.” That also seems to be a reoccurring theme in your music. Could you elaborate on why that, specifically, is important to you and the music that you create?
Mike - Kind of what was said in question three. Some days you have it all, some days you have nothing, but have fun. There's no point to any of this (life) if we don't have fun with it. Space Juice helps. 

7. Are there any topics that you’d like to use your platform to sing about in the future?
Matt - We have a lot of new stuff that's being written right now, as things progress were constantly being provided ideas for new songs. Mike is now a big part of the process of conceptualizing songs with me while Brozgold takes more part in the arrangements, but whenever Mike and I hang out we talk a lot about what we want to address. We consider ourselves spitefully optimistic so well continue to write songs that will hopefully motivate and encourage people to fight for things they believe in. But the commentary this band will provide ranges from civil rights, politics, and religion, all the way to partying, drug use, and debauchery.  

8. Your music also seems to discuss cyclical nature (drugs, seasons, day-to-day conflict and resolution). Could you elaborate on your reason for focusing on this?

Matt - The seasons being the most obvious one, my teenage years and early 20s I could anticipate aspects of my life based on the season it took place in. I was happiest in the summer where I could purely focus on music, partying with my friends, and traveling. I spent the fall still enjoying myself but in the back of my mind prepping for the inevitable seasonal depression that would kick my ass in the following months. Winter was miserable, broke, freezing to death in my van on my way to college classes where I was completely unmotivated to work due to my mental state. And then in spring I would dig myself out the mess I made and fix my life up. I repeated this for years before hastily fleeing for the west coast.  

The drug aspect is something that I think a lot of people wouldn't talk about with as positive of a connotation as I do. I am a careful, recreational drug user and I think that some of the experiences I have had under the influence have contributed to why I am such a positive and welcoming individual. If you're not religious and consider humans for what they are; animals that have evolved and adapted over time by chance and made up of a combination of chemicals, then its easier to accept that some folks chemicals aren't in in sync all the time and if you can take something that makes you feel better than you would with out it, why wouldn't you? Its a shame when some folks lose control while experimenting and its certainly not for everyone, some people have disastrous reactions and it ruins their lives but I personally use substances to alter myself into a better version. They help me act like more of who I believe I am, a more confident and overall happier individual. I'm not condoning it or even celebrating it but to not include it the songs is not addressing a large aspect of who I am. 

9.)   50 years is a long time to commit to music or anything or anyone for that matter. Do you see yourself committing to music and/or to each other for nearly as long as 50 years?
Mike - If the world doesn't cave in on itself by then then hell yeah! We'll be Alive & sort of Well. I'm sure our bodies will be in shambles though. 

10. If you could rock out with anyone who isn’t with us anymore, who would it be? 
Mike - Dime bag probably. Dude could head bang and the after party would be insane. 
Matt - Lemmy, the dude could party and Im sure he'd hate our band. 

11. What is your top five artists of all time?
Mike -  Every Time I Die. Vinnie Caruana (all his stuff). Sum 41. Springsteen. Alkaline Trio
Matt - Green Day, Billy Joel, The Chariot, Tom Waits, Every Time I Die

12. Are there any artists who you plan to work with in the near future?
Mike - All the bands we played with the first year we started. Those first few shows were crucial and helped us out a lot. So Light Years, Driver Friendly, Firestarter, Such A Mess, For The Win. And some new friends we've made a long the way I'd like to play with again. Post Season, Chasing Morgan, Crooked Teeth, Trophy Wives. 

Matt - I think we're a perfect fit with Hit The Lights, Four Year Strong, and Set Your Goals. I don't know how to make that happen but it would be awesome.

13. What, specifically, do you admire about those who influence you? 
Mike - The fact that they're just people. If I'm lucky enough to meet the artists or bands that influence me, they're always just a regular person. No rockstar mentality. 

14. Tell me about some of the projects you have lined up in the future. 
Matt - We want to end this EP cycle with a huge music video for 259 Park Dr, ideally I'd like to do it on the east coast with all our childhood friends and family in it because its a song about them. After that we gear up for our next release. 

15. How do fell about emotional vulnerability in art? 
Matt - I think its amazing, some of my favorite lyricists are people who pull the curtain back on their lives. The good, the bad, and the uncomfortable. I think it takes balls to admit something in a song that you might not even be comfortable saying in conversation and thanks to music shifting away from radio, where you had to be careful about what's being said, now I think you're getting a closer, realer look at song writers. 

16. Where do you want your band to be in ten years?
Mike - Every/ anywhere there's a stage. 

We want to thank Alive & Well for this really stellar interview, and if you're looking for more on these really cool guys, check out their social media below!

Alive & Well: Facebook // Website