Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Berwanger Interview: "Handclaps are fun."

Josh Berwanger doesn't need much of an introduction around these parts.  You loved The Anniversary.  You loved The Only Children.  And now you'll love his new project: The Josh Berwanger Band (often billed as simply Berwanger, which is our personal preferred nomenclature).  

Perhaps you heard him rocking some of the new songs live on KJHK last night and turned it up so fucking loud the neighbors were displeased.  Or maybe that was just us?

And this Friday brings the big LFK record release show at the Replay with opening act The Dead Girls.  You'll explode in a pure rock frenzy or your money back.*

[*Statement not endorsed by Replay Lounge.  They're almost certainly keeping your $3 no matter what].

Check out Berwanger's official website here, give him a "like" on FB here, and enjoy this interview in which we talk about his new sound, Tom Petty, the punks who recently stole all his shit, CMJ, the importance of hand claps in rock music, and much more.

Richard:  You’ve been part of some pretty high-profile local bands in the past, and it’s interesting that the new band name is simply Berwanger.  What does this mean?  Does it suggest that only now we have discovered the REAL Berwanger? Or is it just because Berwanger is a damn fun name? Also, how would you describe “the Berwanger sound,” ideally in some unusual fashion.

Josh:  It's hard having a cool, original band name these days, and when you finally come up with one there are already ten other bands with that name. I also feel if you have a band name you should be a band. I've seen bands come through town multiple times over the years and they always have a new member or have replaced someone with someone else. Calling it by my name was the easiest way to go.

Our sound is rock n' roll music. For this first record, Strange Stains, we really worked on keeping the music upbeat and direct. Imagine Spuds Mackenzie walking into your favorite bar: once he sets his first paw in the door you know its going to be an out of control rager!

Chip:   Tell us about the CMJ experience.  Were audiences receptive, or was it just a bunch of scenesters scowling at you and wishing you’d play some damn Anniversary tunes?  Also, tell us about getting your equipment stolen, and feel free to use this space to call the thieves a bunch of pussies.
Josh:  Yeah, there were some Anniversary fans there. Anniversary fans fucking rule and are so receptive to all the new projects each ex-member is working on. Anytime I get a chance to talk to one of them they express how excited they are to hear the new stuff. People seemed to dig our set. Maybe they were refreshed by the real humans playing instruments–it seemed most of the other bands had laptops on stage and played to backing tracks. There's a great article Dan Ozzi wrote about this year's CMJ that sums it all up quite well.

When we were in the club in D.C. it was daylight.  Our photographer, Sid, went to get something from the van and it was broken into. Two laptops, a digital SLR, video camera, prescription glasses and a few other personal things were gone and they also got half of Sid's camera equipment. More importantly they stole my Stephen Pearcy book, Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll. Honestly, I am thankful I get to tour and play music, plus I'm fortunate I am able to afford a computer. I don't want to call the thieves any names. I'll meditate on it and hope that one day they change their way of life. 
Richard:   One of the things I love about these songs is that there are plenty of handclaps included.  It just makes you happy to hear it.  Want to expound on the importance of handclaps on this record?  Also, do you have much luck getting crowds to clap along?
Josh:  Handclaps are fun and we all learned that from the new hit television show Friends' opening theme song. When trying to get the crowd to participate we have the best luck getting them to check their cell phones.
Chip:   I’ve been listening to "Baby Loses Her Mind" at least six times per day since I first heard it and I haven’t gotten tired of it yet (to be honest, I thought it was a Tom Petty song for the first few dozen listens).  Is this Jenny a real chick, or is she based on a real chick, or is she a composite of a bunch of crazy chicks?  What’s the story behind this catchy damn thing?
Josh: Thank you! Being compared to Tom Petty is very, very flattering. Jenny is just a name I used and she could be anyone. The theme is simple–a relationship. Trying to make one work, the doubt while in one, and the death of one.
Richard:   Leave our readers with a blurb that convinces them that they absolutely MUST attend the Replay record release show, and keep in mind that most of them are going to be hungover as shit because it’s the day after Halloween. 
Josh:  Usually for our shows the excuses people have is we aren't hip enough and they would rather sit at home and watch Moesha on TV. It has nothing to do with being hungover. At least people are honest though. We've just come off tour, so those who can afford to miss one episode of Seinfield will experience a tight, high-energy performance of "Dad Rock," replete with ripping guitar solos, thundering drums and vicious bass slaps. I also may or may not be wearing my Chief's Zubaz pants and there have been rumors of free Zima and Butt.


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