It sounds like a dream for any up-and-coming band: the opportunity to discuss your music on TV with The Wildfires Projekt’s songwriter Johnny Zirkel. Then, you get to play for all of the alt-rock fans who are watching. But it’s a reality for those who make it on to Sounds Of The Undergrounda CBS show dedicated to showcasing rising acts along with established artists. AltPress is exclusively showing the second episode. Spoiler: Frank Iero And The Future Violents perform “Basement Eyes” from their 2019 album, Barriers.   

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Having just released their debut EP, Desert Daze, this last July, Sleeptalk sat down with Zirkel to talk about the creative process behind the project and the formation of the band. They traveled to the desert together—specifically Indio, California—to record the EP. 

“Sometimes, we like to plan out a specific time when we can all get together just because it’s a different vibe when you write with everyone,” bassist Paul McGill says. They recorded, produced, and engineered the project themselves and later took the stage to perform “dontbesoblue” off the EP. 

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The Skints, a U.K. reggae-influenced band, also made an appearance on SOTU and discussed the shift in their lyrics. The band have played a handful of covers. But lead vocalist/guitarist Joshua Waters Rudge explains that everything about their music is original. “We’ve always come from a personal place, no matter what we’re talking about,” he says. “We’ve written politically and from the heart.” 

Rudge went on to share that on their latest album, Swimming Lessons, released this last May, approaches a darker mood. “There [are] no happy songs about London,” he says with a chuckle. “We’re constantly evolving.” The Skints performed the synth-heavy “Restless” from their album. 

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California’s very own new-wave, alt-indie band the Active Set were also on the episode. Zirkel and crew discussed the early days of the band, who originally formed in Los Angeles in 2007. Wanting to make his own music, Matthew Stolarz left his position in punk band the Briggs and founded the Active Set as the lead guitarist/vocalist.

“It was about assembling the team and getting a good group of guys together,” he says. When it comes to being a part of the L.A. music scene, they know they’re aware of the long list of bands trying to make it big. “Kind of a garbage place to have a band because it’s fierce competition,” Stolarz says. “But it works.” After the conversation with Zirkel, they took the stage to perform a slow head banging rendition of their unreleased track, “Difficulties.”  

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On SOTU, Frank Iero made an appearance toward the end of the episode to talk about his band (and its ever-changing name), Danny DeVito and Taylor Ham. While proclaiming his love for his home state of New Jersey, Zirkel made mention of its holidays for actor and NJ native DeVito. 

The guitarist later compared the actor to the state’s beloved Taylor’s Prepared Ham—a processed pork-based meat made in state. “Danny DeVito is the Taylor Ham of nature,” he asserted with a grin.

Zirkel and Iero discussed his career with Future Violents, formerly the cellabration (2014) and the Patience (2016). “I love that excitement in naming [a band], who is going to be in it, what it’s going to sound like, what the aesthetic behind it is,” Iero says. “It’s just so much fun.”

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Iero admitted that it’s taken 20 years for him to arrange the band. He recalled seeing current members Tucker Rule, drummer for Thursday, and Matt Armstrong, former bassist of Murder By Death, for the first time when My Chemical Romance, Thursday and Muder By Death all initially signed to Eyeball Records before he and the Future Violents took the stage to perform an acoustic take of “Basement Eyes.” 

Check out the second episode below. You can submit your band to appear on the show here and catch their upcoming episodes here.

What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below!