By Heather Harrington
Being from Long Island, it feels as if everyone knows everyone and everyone knows someone who is/has been in a band. The music scene on the Island is a close knit group; you don’t just go to a show on Saturday night to see the bands, you go to see your friends. Possessing a deep “DIY” ethos; Long Island bands book their own shows, promote their own shows, and if they want something to happen they don’t wait around for someone to hand it to them-they go out and make it happen. There’s no way to determine which Long Island band is on top; there are so many great underground bands littered all over and each band brings their own specialties to the mix. Despite what many people think, the best thing about this scene is that there is no competition: every band looks out for one another, every band supports the other. Long Island isn’t just a music scene– it’s a family too.
Recently, the largest trend in the Long Island music scene seems to be indie rock and hardcore. These two genres couldn’t be farther from each other on the musical spectrum; indie rock is that kid in the thick rimmed glasses and sweater vest, whereas hardcore is the kid with the big Doc Marten boots who always looks really angry. Long Island has really been put on the map in the past few years with bands like Brand New, Taking Back Sunday and Glassjaw. These bands have paid their dues to the scene and have battled their way to get to where they are; now that they’re on top, it’s time to pass the torch to a few other Long Island bands worthy enough to keep the scene alive:
Patent Pending: Formed in 2000 as a ska band, Patent Pending really are the underdogs of the Long Island scene. They’ve gone through numerous members changes (most recently singer Michael Ragosta left the band to pursue his own project, This Good Robot, being replaced by brother/guitarist, Joe), and label issues without batting an eye. Now a pop-punk powerhouse, the band has sold thousands of CD’s and DVD’s, toured relentlessly and released the much anticipated EP, Attack of the Awesome this past summer. They’ve also got a cult-like following that call themselves P-Unit and frequently bust out into choreographed dance moves on stage. You can catch the band playing their next show at the Smithtown East High School on Nov. 13.
Love, Robot: Originally a 3-piece hardcore act, Love, Robot has come a long way and developed their own sound that is really a change of pace for the scene. A dual male/female vocal adds interesting twists to the song dynamics, almost giving them a he-said-she-said perspective. The band also incorporates ska, pop-punk and hardcore breakdowns into their music to keep fans listening to different things, they’re not just pigeonholed into one genre. In their short time as a band, Love, Robot has made notable accomplishments: they were featured on the compilation Rock 4 Life; they were selected by Greenlight Firms to record a song with them, and have played with such acts as Sing it Loud and A Rocket to the Moon. Love, Robot has even placed in the finals in Band and Venue’s Battle of the Band’s and has won Club Loaded’s Unsigned Band Festival. The band, who has accumulated an ever-growing fan base, is currently working on a new EP that is sure to get the hearts of pop-punk kids a-fluttering.
Casari: Formed in 2007 out of the ashes of another post hardcore/screamo band, Death Within The Hour, Casari really has taken the scene by storm. In the few short years that the band has been together they’ve left no stone unturned. Casari has dropped two EP’s, independently released their 2008 debut, A Sinking Feeling (which they’ve sold over 800 copies), have toured not only locally but statewide and played a date on the Van’s Warped Tour. Casari has recently released their second full-length, Semblance, which can be downloaded for free off the bands MySpace. The band will be playing the Battle of The Bands at Broadway Bar in Amityville on November 21st.
Bomb the Music Industry!: When you think of DIY bands on Long Island, this ska collective definitely takes the cake. The band consists of Jeff Rosenstock and a constantly changing group of musicians. Rosenstock, formerly of the Arrogant Sons of Bitches, continued writing and recording music on his parent’s computer after ASOB broke up, and most of the revolving door of musicians is friends and contributors that help with the touring and recording process. BtMI! is DIY right down to their small, donation fueled record label, Quote Unquote Records. The band operates in a very anti-music industry manner and prides themselves on their work ethic. Rosenstock didn’t want to invest his money into pressing CD’s and shirts when he wasn’t going to see any of the profit’s back, so instead he offered up his music on MySpace free of charge, only asking for voluntary donations in return. Keeping with the DIY ethic, the band has been known for bringing stencils and spray paint to shows to let kids create their own merch, and encourages fans who know BtMI! songs to perform with them onstage.
Crime in Stereo: This is a band following in the likes of Gorilla Biscuits and Strike Anywhere. Their first debut onto the scene was their 2003 split with fellow New York hardcore act, Kill Your Idols on Blackout! / Brightside Records. After a few more labels and a few more releases, the band landed on Bridge Nine Records and toured relentlessly. The band took a short hiatus (where one of the members even became a teacher) but soon came back in full force with their album Crime in Stereo is Dead in 2007. The band is currently working on a new CD which should be out sometime in February.
Incendiary: The one thing you can say about the Long Island scene is how well we share things. Incendiary, made up of members from fellow LI band Soldiers, formed in 2007 and is heavily influenced by mid-90s hardcore acts such as Snapcase and Strife. The band has a way of capturing the heavy, straight-forward breakdowns that is very reminiscent of old New York hardcore without it seeming dated. Incendiary’s honest, intellectual and insightful lyrics are also a fresh welcomed change in today’s scene.
Soldiers: Soldiers is a hardcore band formed in 2006 as a side project of Rick Jimenez and Dan Bourke of This is Hell. After playing a handful of shows, the band caught the eye of Five Point Records which re-released the bands EP The Tombstone, which set the band up for a full Northeastern tour. The band almost signed a deal with Eulogy Records, but went with Trustkill Records instead and released their full length End of Days in 2007. The members of Soldiers have been around for a while, they take their experiences and express their opinions in a non-traditional way, they represent the new sound of LI hardcore, and they are ready to fight for the scene they believe in.
This is Hell: As previously stated, Long Island loves to share and This is Hell especially loves to share. Many of the members of this hardcore band spawned off their own bands (see above), but always come back to their roots. This is Hell formed in 2004 after members of The Backup Plan, Subterfuge, and Scraps and Heart Attacks began playing together after their bands broke up. After their formation, the band began playing shows and let out a four song demo. The band started gaining popularity and released a self-titled EP through State of Mind Recordings. This is Hell then toured in support of their EP, and signed with Trustkill Records in 2005. In 2006, the band released their record Sundowning, which got them noticed by magazines such as Alternative Press and Rock Sound. After spending much of 2006 and 2007 on the road, the band released 2008’s Misfortunes and mutually split with Trustkill. The band didn’t let the split hold them back; they released their newest EP on both 7” and digital download this past summer on Think Fast! Records. This is Hell recently signed with Rise Records and should hopefully be putting out a new full length in the spring of 2010.
Stray From The Path: 2001 saw the inception of one of L.I.’s most popular and groundbreaking hardcore/metal acts to come out recently. Stray From The Path strives to make their music unlike any others in the scene today; they fuse together hardcore, metal, jazz and other intricate sounds. Aside from the different styles they bring to the table, SFTP’s unpredictability sets them apart from other bands. The band started playing shows after only a month of practicing and soon found themselves in the big leagues, opening shows for such acts as As I Lay Dying and Misery Signals. This exposure helped them get noticed on a larger scale and develop a steady following. The band has been grabbing the attention of listener’s since their DIY ethic first broke them onto the scene, their much anticipated new release, Make Your Own History, is slated to hit stores this month.
Nightmare of You: They always say that when one chapter of your life ends, another begins. This sentiment rings true for Brandon Reilly, who formed Nightmare of You in 2004 after his old band The Movielife disbanded. The band has toured US and Europe as a headlining act and in support of bands such as AFI, The (International) Noise Conspiracy and Brand New. NOY have been nominated for mtvU Woodie Awards for Best Tour and Most Downloaded, and have won Yahoo! Music’s “Who’s Next?” competition in 2006. The band released their first record on their own label, The Bevonshire Label, and then licensed it out to East West Records in the US and the UK’s Full Time Hobby. Nightmare of You has come out with numerous videos, all of which have gained popular airplay on Fuse’s Steven’s Untitled Radio Show and Oven Fresh, and one of the band’s songs, “Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf” was featured in the EA Sports video game FIFA ’07. The band recently released their second full length studio album, Infomaniac, this past August. Nightmare of You will be playing the Studio at Webster Hall on November 27th.