Q & A With Joe Michelini Of River City Extension

September 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment
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Joe Michelini of River City Extension 07.19.09 @ M Room Philadelphia

Joe Michelini of River City Extension 07.19.09 @ M Room Philadelphia

Back in July, Joe Michelini of River City Extension played and amazing solo set at our Bag Of Songs night at The M Room. This week I caught up with Joe via email to ask a few questions in advance of River City Extension heading to Philadlephia next Monday night September 7th for what’s sure to be an outstanding show at The Fire.

BOS: What inspired you to start the band?

JM: Funny story actually. I was always writing songs, and was playing out for a while before it got serious; I had a River City Extenstion before this one, and it consisted of just me and two female singers. One of them was my girlfriend at the time, so that was my first mistake. The other singer Desiree kept singing with us for a while, even in the reincarnations of the band that have happened since, but we eventually had a very amicable parting with her. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, for a long time I had two minds about it. Late summer 2007, my dad had somehow received free tickets to go to any show he wanted at PNC Bank Arts Center (which is about 40 minutes north of me, not even). He had 4 of them, and he wanted to pick something that I would be into. He ended up picking the Projekt Revolution tour that Linkin Park was headlining that year, and even though I’m not a huge fan of them I was secretly dying to see Taking Back Sunday live (as my freshman-year-of-high school dreams had still not yet been fulfilled). So we go and there’s a smaller stage set up outside the arts center in the parking lot, where a couple of better known-lesser known bands are playing (MSI, Saosin, etc). The first band that was on and I’ll never forget this was this band called Madina Lake. They were a pretty generic hardcore/emo band, except that the lead singer looked a little like Barry Manilow. Regardless of style or sound when I saw the stage and hear the music I almost froze. I’d never been to a concert this big, and I really thought right there some Madina Lake tears were about to be comin’ down. I knew right then that was what I wanted to do with my life, forever.

BOS: Who are your biggest musical influences ?

JM: That depends. I’m not influenced really by guitarists or pianists so much as I am by different writers and really original voices. To keep it simple I’d say Isaac Brock is probably my biggest influence vocally, while people like Yoni Wolf (Why?), John Denver, Jim Croce and Ian Metzger (Dear and the Headlights) inspire a lot of my writing.

BOS: How does the songwriting process work with River City Extension, do you write the songs and bring them to the band or do you write together as a group ?

JM: Generally I write the songs and bring them to the band, and then it’s just a matter of arranging a part that fits for each instrument.. which has really become a group thing recently.

BOS: You guys have been playing a lot of shows recently what’s been your favorite moment among them ?

JM: Haha that’s a hard question! Hm.. I’d say probably Hartford, CT. That’s always the best show. There’s a house we play in Hartford every now and then; the sound is terrible, it’s tiny, and the beer is cheap, but it is honestly the best time we’ve all ever had playing a show. We’re starting to develop a following, and that’s really one of those “punk houses” so it’s kind of cool. There’s a part of me that wants this band to just get a solid nod from the punk community, and then keep moving on to do whatever we do with our sound. I won’t lie I really want to be in a punk band though.

BOS: What’s been the hardest part of being in a band? Easiest part ?

JM: The hardest part of being in a band is probably money. You need a lot of it, and no one ever has it. It’s a real shame that it works that way, but it’s not like the 70’s- you just don’t get this big record contract dropped on you of 100 grand to do whatever you want with it. Everyone gets paid back, and then some. It’s kind of sick actually, and I know it’s inspiring bands to start their own label. The only problem with that is.. well you guessed it. The easiest part of being in a band is drinking and smoking weed for free. I will not lie to you. That’s all, the rest of it is hard.

BOS: Any relatively unknown bands you’ve shared a bill with that impressed you ?

JM: Oh sure, all the time. The market is oversaturated because it’s so hard to determine how “good” someone actually is over their myspace page. This is causing a lot of talented writers and musicians to go unnoticed. I think number one for me would be Brook Pridemore. Brook writes music like no other person around, and his lyrics flow beautifully and allow so much room for thought. A part of me thinks that Brook might also, secretly want to be in a punk band. I’ll have to talk to him about that.

BOS: Where’s your favorite place to play and why ?

JM: Oh man.. feel like I might have already answered this. Venue kind? The Stone Pony, or The Fire in Philly. Everyone in the band loves those venues with a passion. They’re probably our overall favorites.

BOS: What music are you listening to lately ?

JM: Frank Sinatra, I just started getting into Frank Sinatra. The Pixies, U2, Why?, The Magnetic Fields, Frightened Rabbit, The Gaslight Anthem, Dear and the Headlights, Cake.

BOS: How would you define the ultimate success for a band in the era of internet/collapsing old school record industry ?

JM: I think ultimate success, for a band like us, is a cult following. Think about it, if Kelly Clarkson had a cult following, it wouldn’t work. But take for example Amanda Palmer, who has seen little to no money over the enormous sales of the Dresden Dolls records. Is she successful? Yea! She’s also broke, but she’s successful in the way that there are people who will still buy her hand made t-shirts online and spend hundreds of dollars to travel and see her and listen to her songs everyday. That’s success, that’s connecting with people and that’s the important part.

BOS: Do you think radio is still an important outlet for music ?

JM: Yea, but if we weren’t getting airplay, like 3 months ago, I probably would have been bitter and said no.

BOS: What one thing do you never get asked about the band that you would like people to know?

JM: I think one really interesting thing that people never ask is if we get along. The long and short of it is, no, but yes, but no. There are 7 people in this band, we’re bound to fight. We’re a misfit collective, everyone is coming from a different musical background and we each have something really different going on in our lives. Danny and Nick have established careers, James has a kitten, it’s not always easy arguing over who’s commitment is bigger than the next persons. Who is going to take off work for practice so someone else doesn’t have to? We’ve come to accept that though, and we like it that way. I’d rather know things are messy than have things be perfect and just be waiting for something to go wrong. The songs on our new album are an awkward collective of different genres, feelings, place and people, just like us. It’s one of those things where we bicker all the time, but if anyone ever tried to attack us from the outside we’d form a strict, tight group pretty quickly. Deep down we all respect and love each other very much, that’s something everyone should know.

A huge Bag Of Songs thanks to Joe Michelini for taking the time to answer our questions. River City Extension heads into the studio in a couple of weeks to start work on a full length record, due out in early 2010 on Criminal Records Limited. I’ll be anxiously awaiting it for sure.
Head on out and catch them at one of their upcoming shows.

River City Extension – Clever & Quickness
Buy Nautical Sabbatical

Joe Michelini – Bone Marrow Twist & Shout (Live At The M Room 07.19.09)
Mucho Kudos To Emma at TWIAPC

Upcoming Shows
Sep 4 2009 8:00P The Whitney House Hartford, CT
Sep 5 2009 3:00P Safe To Swim Weekend 2 Danbury, CT
Sep 6 2009 8:00P 4 & 3 Music Fest (The Dragonfly) Harrisburg, PA
Sep 7 2009 7:00P The Fire w/Ice Palace Philadelphia, PA
Sep 8 2009 8:00P Wonder Bar w/Ice Palace Asbury Park, NJ
Sep 25 2009 8:00P Northstar Bar 21+ Philadelphia, PA
Sep 26 2009 7:00P Java Joint w/Grand Alto, Secret Mountains and more! FREE! Toms River, NJ
Oct 2 2009 9:00P Dewey Beach Music Conference @ Bottle & Cork Dewey Beach, DE
Oct 17 2009 6:00P Private Party Annapolis, MD


Dinosaur Feathers And Joe Michelini of River City Extension @ The M Room 07.19.09

July 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: photos 

A few photos from last night’s show at the M Room which featured an amazing performance by Dinosaur Feathers and an absolutely captivating solo set by Joe Michelini of River City Extension. Big thanks to the bands, everyone who came out, and especially to Emma of The World In A Paper Cup for co-hosting the party. If you weren’t there you missed some fantastic music.

UPDATE: Read Emma’s excellent show review here

Dinosaur Feathers

Joe Michelini Of River City Extension

BOS & TWIAPC Present River City Extension & Dinosaur Feathers 07.19.09

July 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Come on out to the party this Sunday Night at M Room in Philadelphia when Bag Of Songs along with our new friend Emma from The World In A Paper Cup bring you two amazing bands.

First up, Emma’s pick is Brooklyn’s super cool Dinosaur Feathers who whip up a mix of layered percussion, acoustic guitars and keyboards, along with overlapping harmony vocals that’ll have you hooked from the word go. If you’re digging bands like Animal Collective, Yeasayer, Fleet Foxes, or Grizzly Bear, you’ll want in on the Dinosaur Feathers action for sure. 

My pick for the evening is New Jersey’s River City Extension, who I first caught as The Broken Bell‘s pick in the May Battle Of The Blogs at The North Star Bar. Their frenetic live show made me an instant fan, and has been earning them well deserved comparisons to bands like Gogol Bordello, Man Man and The Avett Brothers. A category defying blend of folk,gospel blues, country,even a little punk and pure unadulterated bliss. it’s music guaranteed to make you move, or at the very least it will move your soul.

Dinosaur Feathers – Know Your Own Strength
Buy Ltd Edition Single

River City Extension – Clever & Quickness
Buy Nautical Sabbatical

Bag Of Songs & The World In A Paper Cup
River City Extension (NY)
Dinosaur Feathers (NJ)
Sunday July 19th
$5 | 8PM | 21+UP
M Room
15 W Girard Ave Philadelphia PA

It’s Cool, Get Your Robes On

May 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Robes @ North Star Bar 05.21.09

Robes @ North Star Bar 05.21.

River City Extension @ North Star Bar 05.21.09

River City Extension @ North Star Bar 05.21.

The Shots @ North Star Bar 05.21.09

The Shots @ North Star Bar 05.21.09

Finally bringing you the answer today to the question, “Who in the hell won last week’s Battle Of The Blogs ?” Up against a smoking, but abbreviated set(if you were there you know what I mean, I’ll say no more) from BOS representatives The Shots, and an absolutely amazing performance from The Broken Bell‘s pick,River City Extension, Girl About Town‘s band of the night, Robes racked up the vote count to take home the winning title in the first round of Battle Of The Blogs, last Thursday Night at Philly’s North Star Bar.

Riding an amazing buzz right now in the Philly scene, Robes sound is steeped heavily in the influence of early eighties bands like Joy Division, Depeche Mode and Bauhaus but without the cold harshness of other current bands mining the same genre, like Interpol or Bloc Party. Their current release, The Breaks EP, is available for free download from their myspace page and they’re heading into Miner Street studios with Philly’s resident production genius Brian McTear to record the followup. If Brian’s recent work on the likes of East Hundred’s Passenger & Canadian Invasion’s Three Cheers For The Invisible Hand are any indication, it will be one of this year’s stellar records.

Robes :
Gregory- Vocals
Ryan- Guitar/Vocals
Kevin- Drums
JJ- Bass
Dan- Guitar

Robes – Another Drink
Robes – Fishtales

Download The Breaks EP

Upcoming Shows
June 5 2009 The First Unitarian Church with Denali Philadelphia, PA