Position: Contributing Editor
HQ: Warrensburg, NY
My lifelong obsession with music began at the tender age of 6, when by some miracle of manipulation I convinced my mother to purchase my first vinyl album: the Kiss opus Rock And Roll Over. By that point I already had Kiss dolls, a Kiss lunchbox, a Kiss guitar and yes, the original Kiss comic book, which contained droplets of their actual blood. (Ace Frehley’s blood was really more alcohol-based than plasma). I sat in my room cranking “Calling Dr. Love” and “Ladies Room” on my little turntable, completely unaware of the sexual voracity happening in the lyrics. I just figured Gene Simmons had something important to discuss, and the “Ladies’ Room” was the only quiet place for a chat.
Fast forward to my impressionable early teen years, and that love of theatrics and pyrotechnics (aside from blowing stuff up in my backyard) propelled me headfirst into a manic fixation on heavy metal, starting first with the classics: Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne/Sabbath and Mötley Crüe, primarily. I had mom run out to the store again – this time to purchase my first electric guitar, a cheap black and white Hondo knockoff of a Fender Strat – which I adored, and played until I couldn’t bear the pain another second. Then I discovered a little band called Metallica, and my whole world changed: Suddenly all the other metal just seemed kind of silly. Cassettes by ’Tallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, Testament and all the other great thrash bands dominated my playlist from that point onward.
I started playing in local garage bands, often alongside my old pal Gary Bennett (who later played in some great hardcore bands, most notably Kill Your Idols). We learned Slayer and Metallica riffs—lots of them, and terrified people at our school talent shows. I grew up on Long Island, which at the time was nowhere near as cool as it is now, musically speaking, but there were always lots of shows. Metal bands such as Overkill and Flotsam & Jetsam would play, as would NYHC icons like Sick Of It All and Biohazard, or Alice In Chains would roll into town, opening for hair-metalers Extreme. It was very random. I spent virtually every single weekend sweating my ass off in packed houses, and looking back, it was one of the most amazing times imaginable.
Post-high school, I retreated into that typical THC-fueled classic rock stage so many college kids experience. I rekindled my love for the groups that my mother raised me on – the Beatles, Pink Floyd, CCR – in part because I was so tired of people cutting their hair like Eddie Vedder and buying nice new flannel shirts at Kmart. Luckily, Weezer and Green Day came along and saved me from a complete pop music hermitage. After just one listen to Dookie, Kerplunk! and The Blue Album, my faith in new music was restored. I delved deeper into punk, hardcore and ska and became addicted to bands such as Rancid, Sublime and Bad Religion; I attended my first Warped Tour in 1996. I have been a scene “lifer” ever since, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank the universe for not going the other route, and making me a Dave Matthews fan. That would suck.
Toward the end of college, I started interning at a local Long Island music paper, Good Times, just as a fun aside from my major (anthropology) and a way to scam free CDs and concert tickets. Two of the first reviews I wrote were albums I still adore to this day: Deftones’ Adrenaline and Dance Hall Crashers’ Lockjaw. The first major feature I wrote—and my first in-person interview, to boot—was with No Doubt, right after the release of Tragic Kingdom. I left that interview with a skyscraper-sized crush on Gwen Stefani, and knew at that moment that this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Over the years I’ve written all kinds of stories for all kinds of publications. Some were fun, some were just to pay the bills, but as I sat in my apartment on Long Island and watched the Twin Towers fall, I promised myself I would never waste my time again writing about things I didn’t care about. So I left an extremely lucrative gig doing business writing, in order to become lifestyle editor for a new paper forming called the Long Island Press, and that single decision has changed everything in my life that’s followed. Working alongside some amazing fellow writers, I soaked up all I could, and started contributing to the paper’s ever-strong music section. It just so happened that at that time, LI music was blowing up on an unimaginable level—Taking Back Sunday and Brand New had just released their debuts—and from that point onward I was there for it all, notepad in hand.
Ultimately, my location at ground zero for the “new Seattle” that was Long Island, paired with a bursting clips file, and my incessant pestering of Alt Press editors with my pitches, finally attracted AP’s interest. I was assigned my first feature for them in 2006, on Nightmare of You, and was honored with a cover assignment that June, on Head Automatica. I rode in a van to Cleveland with the boys, had a totally amazing time, and decided that writing for AP was the best gig I could ever imagine. And it still is.
Since then I’ve penned multiple cover stories, oral histories and features for AP, along with countless reviews, and have been managing the DIY section as a contributing editor for the last two years. Not a day goes by that I’m not overwhelmed with thanks for being able to be a part of this “scene” on such a level, and I can’t wait to continue to take this journey along with my colleagues and you, the readers. So far, it’s been one hell of a ride!
TOP TEN ALBUMS EVER (IN NO ORDER)
1. Green Day – Dookie
2. Weezer – The Blue Album
3. Iron Maiden – Live After Death
4. Metallica – Master of Puppets
5. Thrice – The Artist In The Ambulance/Vheissu (TIE)
6. The Beatles – Abbey Road
7. Sublime – 40 oz. To Freedom
8. Rancid – …And Out Come The Wolves
9. Testament – The New Order
10. Jeffrey Gaines – Self-Titled