News Bands 1QI: The Rackatees, Paul Needza Friend, Toxic Pop Records, Low

1QI: The Rackatees, Paul Needza Friend, Toxic Pop Records, Low

Posted May 19, 2014, 5:34 a.m. in Bands by Cheryl
1QI: The Rackatees, Paul Needza Friend, Toxic Pop Records, Low

One of our newest features here at Scene Point Blank is our semi-daily quickie Q&A: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook or twitter and we'll post one interview every Monday-Thursday. Well, sometimes we miss a day, but it will be four each week regardless.


After our social media followers get the first word, we'll later post a wrap-up here at the site and archive 'em here. This week check out Q&As with The Rackatees, Paul Needza Friend, Toxic Pop Records and Low.

Kolin (The Rackatees, drums) 

SPB: What is the longest (in time) that you have been on tour? Would you do it again?

Kolin: Our nine-day tour throughout the Southeast U.S. last September is the most consecutive days we've toured thus far. We know that's not much at all, but we try to make up for that by mini-touring as much as possible. We played about 25 shows on the road in 2013 outside of that nine-day tour, mostly in the Midwest (Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Denver, etc.). We will definitely tour again. We plan on hitting the road pretty heavily in 2014 after we record our new album in January.

Paul Needza Friend

SPB: What do you think of band’s playing a record in its entirety for a tour concept?

Paul: I suppose that depends on the integrity of the album in question. If there's only a couple choice tracks on the latest record, then maybe the band should consider performing their "Best Of..." album, if they even have one :P Then again, aren't most concerts really just a "Best Of..." album played live with the track order shuffled and maybe one or two bonus cuts from the latest record?

Which also primes one to take into consideration whether or not the order of songs on a given record would translate properly in a live situation. I would think that concept albums or "rock operas" might fare a bit better in such cases, since from their inception the songs were written to be played in a specific order.

Most new bands only have one album's worth of material anyway, so they wouldn't really have a choice but to play that only album in its entirety when they are on tour. Normally, the order of the songs must be changed to suit a live situation anyway. Not only is producing an album and playing live two completely different art forms, but I know from having toured all throughout Europe and North America, that you need to be able to tailor your set list to the audience on the fly in order to invoke the optimal enthusiasm from the crowd. 

Although, there are certain predictable patterns that apply to almost any crowd, one should be on one's toes. When I first started touring, I made the mistake of trying to perfect a set list and then play it the same way every night. Consequently, some nights I would blow the crowd away, and other nights I heard crickets. It didn't matter how well I sang. That's because the "one size fits all" (or one setlist fits all) approach doesn't pay off in the long run. It wasn't until I figured out how to tailor my setlist and performance to any given night's specific audience that I started being able to ignite audiences with reliable and predictable consistency.

I suppose if I were to do the kind of tour you are asking about, it would have to be a concept record with some sense of theatre involved.

Mike Riley (Toxic Pop Records/Firestarter Records)

SPB: While the meaning of Toxic Pop's name is fairly obvious, how has its meaning changed to you since the label was first formed?

Mike: The label was formed in 2007 as a "sister" label to Firestarter Records, which I had been running since 2002. The first release, the Sick Sick Birds - "Chemical Trains" 7" EP, was originally planned as a Firestarter release, but the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that Firestarter had a respectable following as a label that released solid records for fast hardcore/punk bands and it might be quite a curveball to those dedicated consumers of that sub-genre to offer them an indie-rock record, so I decided to start Toxic Pop which would focus on all my other interests, namely pop-punk, indie-pop, alt-country, and everything else not short, fast, and loud. The name of the label is basically a play on the legendary pop-punk label, Mutant Pop Records, with a twist and a nod to my home state of New Jersey and youthful fascination with the Toxic Avenger movies. In another instance of paying homage to another legendary punk label, I came up with the tag-line "Making pop a threat again", which is a play on Profane Existence's "Making punk a threat again". Clever, eh? I guess my thinking behind the name and the tag-line came from the boom that classic Lookout Records-style pop-punk was having at the time, but within the midst of all that there were all these great bands that were putting new spins on the genre or taking influence from bands beyond just The Ramones, The Queers, and Screeching Weasel, yet they were still definitely a part of this resurgence, and those were the bands that were exciting me the most. So in that sense, I don't think that the meaning behind the name has changed for me. Poppy and catchy music can still have integrity and fangs (ie: Dead Mechanical, The Capitalist Kids), there are still bands finding new ways to bend, warp, and mangle the genre (ie: Tenement, Vacation), and there are still bands keeping traditional sounds fresh and exciting (ie: The Ergs, Sick Sick Birds, Sundials), and as long as those three things hold true and those bands are interested in having me release records for them, I'll keep doing this.

Alan Sparhawk (Low)

SPB: What's a record you love that would surprise people?

Alan: Barbara Streisand's Greatest Hits 

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