Thursday, April 24, 2008

Interview - Stay Sharp

Here it is: the first Go Sleeveless! interview. I sent out a handful of questions to Philadelphia area bands I'm friends with, or bands I really respect, and Scott, their bassist, was one of the first to respond. Stay Sharp is a fairly new punk band from Philly, and their recent recordings sound decent. On top of that, they have a killer show at Siren Records tomorrow, so consider this my endorsement for that.

1. Ok, you have friends in from out of town. What five places in Philly do you take them?
- Love park. Everybody I know has always asked about the LOVE sign. Invariably, I always will tell them how much Love Park sucks because you can't skateboard there anymore.

- South Street: South Street is always a hit because most of my friends like to poke around the stores there and take in Philly's own little Lower East Side, if you will. Most of them will always want to get a cheesesteak from Jim's. This is where I sigh because I don't eat meat and I have to make myself like their fries and or waiting in line for a thousand years. Always will stop by Repo because this will make my tour de philadelphia semi-interesting for myself since most people that visit me from out of town could give a shit about record diving.

- 6200 block of Osage Avenue. Normally people will say "Why are we driving to the ghetto?" Its a fairly simple answer. To show them the location where the PA State Police were ordered by then-mayor Wilson Goode to drop a bomb on a row home occupied by the MOVE organization (deemed a 'radical and terrorist' organization), which subsequently set an entire city block ablaze. Philadelphia isn't all cheesesteaks and LOVE signs; this usually has a nice jaw-dropping effect.

- Temple University. This was my alma mater. For people who haven't been there, it's great to show them this little part of my collegiate story nestled right in the middle of North Philadelphia. Besides the obvious self-indulgence this affords when friends ask me about my college experience, I also get to exaggerate when I field questions about what it was like going to school in the "hood."

- Fairmount Park. A breath of semi-fresh air in the middle of urban blight. Even though Fairmount park is teeming with violent sex offenders by nightfall, during the day its nice to take out-of-towners to show them the beautiful side of Philadelphia. If the regatta is going on that's a plus because then, again, I can make up answers about Temple's Crew team and pretend that I knew people on it and make up crazy stories involving me and Temple's Crew team members.

2. Favorite venue in Philadelphia to play? Favorite to see a show?
- The best show I've played in Philly was in a basement on 19th and Catherine affectionately dubbed "The Dust Pit." Stay Sharp played here in the beginning of April, and I thought that the 'dust pit' moniker was solely based around the fact that there's an excavation site (a byproduct of leveling a chruch - take that organized religion) across the street from the house.

I later find out that when amps are turned up to 10 and kids are dancing, drinking, and screaming along to songs, tons of (what looked like) asbestos dust mixed with fiber glass rains from the ceiling. It was awesome to play because the place was literally 10 x 20. Kids were smashed together, everybody was was awesome.

For the burbs, you can't beat Siren Records really. What they are doing for kids up there, collectively, is amazing because younger kids just starting bands will always get a shot to play with larger bands, so its awesome to see how cohesive the Doylestown scene has become recently because of how great this venue and the kids helping to organize things there have been. Everybody gets a chance to play. It's hardcore/punk rock personified.

As far as seeing shows? I'll usually default to the First Unitarian Church, maybe because that's where I've seen most of the shows I've been to in Philadelphia. I love a good basement show though. Plan B House was an awesome place to see bands too because the house was big enough for everyone to fit comfortably and the kids there were extremely nice and awesome to talk to.

3. Favorite all-time show(s) you've seen in Philly?
- The Explosion's last show at the First Unitarian Church - August 30th, 2007, I believe.
- Paint it Black's show in front of Sailor Jerry's (13th and Sansom Streets)- April 10th, 2008.
- The Dan Stone Benefit Show (Little League, Horrorshow, One Dead Three Wounded, Blacklisted) at the First Unitarian Church - October 22nd, 2006.
- Philadelphia Sound Record Release Party @ the Pontiac Grille w/ Knives Out (last show), Paint it Black, Go! For the Throat, The Curse. October 2002.
- Coalesce HellFest Make Up Date (w/Turmoil, All Else Failed) at the First Unitarian Church - August 2005 sometime.

4. Top current Philadelphia area bands?
Paint It Black, Let Down, War Pigs, Lighten Up, Amateur Party, Towers.

5. Top all-time Philadelphia area bands?
Kid Dynamite, Affirmative Action Jackson, Go! For The Throat, The Curse.

6. What records are you loving right now? (Not just Philly bands)
Cloak/Dagger - We Are
Paint it Black - New Lexicon
Mother of Mercy - No Eden
The Steinways - Unoriginal Recipe
Let Down - We're In This Alone
Title Fight - Kingston
War Pigs - No Hope, No Faith, No Point
Stereolab - Dots and Loops
The Weakerthans - Left and Leaving
Off With Their Heads - Hospitals

7. Best food in Philly. Which is your top spot for each?
Pizza? Well, Andrew, now that Pizzafuse has happened, I think I can say I fully support Lazaros on 18th and South.
Burrito/Mexican? La Cantina on Passyunk, Los Jalapenos on 4th and Moore streets.
Cheesesteak (vegan counts)? Govinda's Vegetarian/Gianna's Grille (Broad and South, or 6th and South respectively).
Chinese? Mai Lai Wah or Jade Harbor in Chinatown.
Other? Go grab a beer at the Pope on 10th-11th and Dickinson if you want a diverse selection of booze and a lower-key atmosphere. Run up somebody's tab at Sugar Mom's in Old City because they will forget to charge you for everything you order.

8. Closing up, what do you guys have planned for the near future? Shows/records/tours/etc?
We're playing with Paint it Black, Cloak/Dagger, and our boys in Lighten Up at Siren Records on April 25th. REALLLLLLY looking forward to that. I think there's talk of recording a couple songs for either our own 7 inch, or a split with somebody else this summer. Whether it will be put out by Monkey Wrench (our guitar player, Bryon, runs this label), or by somebody else is all a tossup. As far as touring, there are a few festivals I'd like to try and get us on in the fall - I don't think I have to really say which ones, but we really want to play a lot this summer. I'm looking forward to everything there is to come.

4/25 - Siren Records
S. Main Street/Doylestown PA 18901
Paint it Black
Lighten Up
Stay Sharp

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