Keeping NEPA Strange an Interview w/ Josh Balz by Emily Sulkowski

 

Being odd is typical for artists. It’s what makes us all unique. Josh Balz took the idea of odd and amplified it. Owner of the Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor in Kingston and Philadelphia, PA, Josh has certainly added a little gem to the often dreary North East, PA. I sat down with him to talk about how life has been after his transition from being in a touring band to running his store full time.

I started by asking if the transition from touring to being grounded back in PA was strange?

“ I love the area, I grew up here and always lived here.” He says.

He certainly thought the transition was strange, since the hectic touring life took a lot out of a person, “ I never felt busy, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, since I was only running the store, not doing both.” He said while talking about reconfiguring his life after leaving his band.

I asked about his music, Strange Kids, which he’s released two singles under, and more importantly if he was releasing more music, “ I’d like to, it’s more of a hobby right now.” Genre wise, Strange Kids and Motionless in White are very different. Josh said, “ It’s all based on my emotions, what I’m feeling at the time.”
In NEPA, Josh is somewhat of a hometown hero. I asked him if support from local fans had ever changed after coming home. “ I think there’s more support now. The store and Motionless have the same vibe. It goes hand in hand.” His employees at the store said his fair share of fans still come in, excited to meet him. Fans and locals alike still love the shop, enjoying how different it is among the repetitiveness the Valley seems to see often.

Owning a store like this comes from a love for weird things. “ I always enjoyed them (oddities). The stuff comes from all over. A lot of vintage taxidermy” He said when I asked how he finds his unique items, “ It’s definitely a process.”

In a town full of pizza shops, I wondered how a shop selling human bones and spell books does so well, “ I wanted to do something different here,” Josh said when I asked what inspired him, “ Everyone told me I was going to fail.”

Balz said that the shop does very well, being able to sell such unique, incredible items and still stay afloat, where in a huge city it would be difficult. Having the backing he did, it’s no surprise the shop is well loved and received. While wrapping things up, I asked him how it feels to know his music and his parlor help so many people. Being weird isn’t always easy, and he’s always made people like him feel a little less like outsiders. I asked if he ever wanted to have that effect on people. “ Always. I’ve always been a very supportive person. I love helping other people.”

Josh has always encouraged people to be themselves, and be interested in unique things. He’s very proud of who he is, and everything he’s built. “ I hope people come in, to see the shop and try the cafe.”

The Strange and Unusual Oddities Parlor sits at 467 Wyoming Avenue in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Now boasting a Harry Potter themed cafe called Steamy Hallows, serving cookies, Butter Brew coffee and hot chocolate covered in glitter, The Strange and Unusual is a little gem in a town that people seem to forget. Give the shop a visit, buy a skull or two with your coffee, and never be afraid to be a little weird.

Interview courtesy of Emily Sulkowski  | SHOP NOW :  The Strange and Unusual

Follow Josh Balz here

 

 

The Rockstar Disrupt Fest Unleashes in the United States | Top 5 Anticipated Sets

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With the Vans Warped Tour coming to an end in 2018, a lot of us were wondering what we would do to fill that void. Well, the Rockstar Disrupt Fest was announced, and it is a game changer in the scene. Unlike a lot of festivals, you get the best of both worlds. The event starts off on an outdoor stage on the festival grounds and then shifts into an amphitheater concert at night. And unlike other festivals, there will only be one band performing at a time, so you don’t have to pick and choose which bands to see. The lineup is absolutely stacked, and bands include: The Used, Thrice, Circa Survive, Sum 41, The Story So Far, Atreyu, Sleeping With Sirens, Andy Black, Four Year Strong, Memphis May Fire, Trophy Eyes, Meg & Dia, Juliet Simms, and Hyro The Hero. Lineups differ from date to date so make sure to check your date on rockstardisrupt.com to see what bands are playing. The festival kicks off in exactly one week, Friday, June 21st, in Dallas, TX, and tours the country for over a month until Sunday, July 28th, in Albuquerque, NM. Two of our photographers will be attending the tour, and each have listed their top 5 most anticipated sets to see on the Rockstar Disrupt Festival.

Laura’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Sets

  1. Super stoked to cover Atreyu for the 2nd time. I had the unique experience of being a part of The Photo Odyssey with Porter McKnight (bassist of Atreyu) exploring downtown Denver with our cameras. That evening I sat through their sound check and photographed their set.
  2. Sum 41 were my middle school heroes and during one of their shows in 2012 was when I first crowd surfed. That night is one of my all-time most memorable shows I’ve ever attended.
  3. Memphis May Fire blew my mind when they toured with Atreyu last year. Their stage presence was a blast to photograph and I can’t wait to see them again!
  4. Sleeping With Sirens is with no doubt going to bring a contagious energy to the crowd that I cannot wait to capture through my lens.
  5. The Used is one of those bands that makes you sing along to all of their songs. It’ll be my first time seeing them play live and I already know for a fact I’ll “savor every moment of this” set as they close the night.

Jamie’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Sets

  1. Atreyu has been a band I have been listening to for several years since their song “Ravenous” was on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. The band has released nothing but excellence in their 7-album discography, with a perfect blend of metalcore, hard rock, and post-hardcore. I am thoroughly excited to see them finally and to photograph their set.
  2. Circa Survive was yet another band I got into from playing Rock Band as a kid, specifically through their song “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is The Dose” from their 2007 album “On Letting Go”. Throughout their career, Circa Survive has garnered a large following and has continued to evolve their sound, which is a mixture of post-hardcore, progressive metal, progressive rock, and indie rock. They are a unique blend and I cannot wait to finally see them.
  3. Sleeping With Sirens was one of my favorite bands in the post-hardcore and hard rock scene for quite some time. While I haven’t been a big fan of their last two albums, I cannot wait to see them again after several years and finally photograph them. Kellin Quinn’s distinct vocal range is a powerhouse to have in the scene and I cannot wait to see him showcase it again.
  4. Hyro the Hero is the first band on the lineup that caught my eye, since I had just seen them open for Nothing More, Of Mice & Men, and Palisades at The Belasco in February. The band is named after front man and rapper Hyron Fenton but includes a lot of musical talent from bassist Dave Gracious, drummer Troy Wageman, and guitarist Matty Mac. This four piece is going to be such a great way to kick off the Disrupt Fest with high energy and I cannot wait!
  5. Memphis May Fire has been a regular band in my daily rotation for several years. Their powerhouse metalcore sound resonates with me and pushes me through my daily life. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of their newest album, their discography as a whole has been impressive to me and have helped shape my musical taste over the years. They always have an incredible stage presence and I am stoked to finally see them again!

The Rockstar Disrupt Fest looks to be an exciting event and will help fill the void other tours once stayed in. The tour will also cover new ground with the festival and amphitheater mixture idea. Check out the dates below, pick up your tickets at the link below, and keep up with the festival by following their socials!

DATES

FRI.  JUN 21

DALLAS, TX

SAT.  JUN 22

AUSTIN, TX

SUN.  JUN 23

THE WOODLANDS, TX

TUE.  JUN 25

WEST PALM BEACH, FL

WED.  JUN 26

TAMPA, FL

FRI.  JUN 28

ATLANTA, GA

SAT.  JUN 29

CHARLOTTE, NC

TUE.  JUL 2

SYRACUSE, NY

WED.  JUL 3

TORONTO, ON

FRI.  JUL 5

MANSFIELD, MA

SAT.  JUL 6

HOLMDEL, NJ

SUN.  JUL 7

HARTFORD, CT

TUE.  JUL 9

BRISTOW, VA

WED.  JUL 10

CLARKSTON, MI

FRI.  JUL 12

TINLEY PARK, IL

SAT.  JUL 13

THORNVILLE, OH

SUN.  JUL 14

NOBLESVILLE, IN

MON.  JUL 15

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO

WED.  JUL 17

DENVER, CO

SAT.  JUL 20

IRVINE, CA

TUE.  JUL 23

AUBURN, WA

WED.  JUL 24

NAMPA (BOISE), ID

FRI.  JUL 26

CHULA VISTA, CA

SAT.  JUL 27

PHOENIX, AZ

SUN.  JUL 28

ALBUQUERQUE, NM

Go buy your tickets here!

Keep up with Rockstar Disrupt Fest on social media! Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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ANDY BLACK | The Ghost of North America Tour 2019 ft The Faim and Kulick

 Kulick

The Faim

Andy Black

Photos courtesy of Madison Boyce

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Upcoming Artist MEÏA’s ” Down by The Water” Music Video OUT NOW!

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 MEÏA is a singer-songwriter from Barcelona recently relocated to NYC. She won over the hearts’ of her audiences’ by singing in her own unique way. She’s an eclectic songwriter whose themes explore love, dreams and social issues embracing both an introspective and an electric performance.  You can find her songs in both spanish and english.

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Interview with Kathana

What inspired you to start a career in music? 

My life has always revolved around music. I never even considered another career path. I started singing at a very young age and enjoyed it so much that I just kept going with it and never looked back.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

My music is a mix of electronic sounds and organic instruments. My producer and I like to lean towards EDM so people can dance and sing along easily, and we always try to add in our own unique flavors by using trumpet, electric guitar, and a lot of sampled sounds that we find ourselves. Sometimes we throw in some sprinkles of other genres like hip hop, jazz, Latin, or swing just to push the boundaries of pop music and make our songs sonically intriguing.

 To a new listener, what song would you suggest they listen to?

Check out Show Me Love. It’s a fun, easy to dance to song with a meaning that I think a lot of people could relate to.

What is your biggest goal for this year, musically and personally?

My biggest musical goal this year is to reach more people with my music. Personally, my goal is to have developed more self-love by the end of the year. Self-love is so important, because the way we perceive and experience the world depends on our mindset. And when our “cup” is full, it overflows and we can give more to others.

What is the meaning behind your most recent release?

My newest single “Running Wild” will be released soon. Follow me at @kathana.music for updates and the release date, (TBA).

“Running Wild” is about dealing with anxiety while being a relationship.

What inspired the song Show Me Love ?

My sister was going through some relationship issues, which inspired me to start writing the song. The guy she was with was very unpredictable. One minute he was there for her, and then would suddenly disappear, and this went back and forth over and over. It reminded me that I had experienced the same thing, and the song quickly became a story of my similar experience.

Will there be any upcoming new releases or tour dates in 2019?

There are no official release dates yet but as I mentioned “Running Wild” will be released next and there are plenty more to be released this year.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m a delegator extraordinaire. Need an itinerary? I will have it planned and mapped out down to the minute. I also swing dance, and I can identify almost any fragrance in food. Boom! Next question 😜

 Something you want your fans to know?

I love getting to know more about them and building true friendships through social media.

Have you faced any hardships being a women in the music industry / What advice do you have for other young ladies getting there start in this male driven industry?

Yes, I’ve definitely faced hardships. I encourage other young female artists to stand up for themselves and set boundaries, and know their worth.

Kathana’s social : Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | Soundcloud

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Interview by Cristine Trimarco

 

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus w/ Demon In Me | Mini May West Coast Tour | 5/8/19

Demon In Me

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus | Demon In Me

Photos courtesy of Jamie Kaufman | Instagram

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Interview with Times Like These

Times Like These is a 4-piece pop rock band from Long Island, New York, consisting of vocalist Mike Acampora, bassist Zach Dyer, guitarist Eddie Giuffo, and drummer Cody Omage, have toured throughout the East coast, finding new fans everywhere they go with their energetic and intimate live performances.

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What was is like working with Hope ( Vista), while covering Panic ! At The Disco ?Hope is amazing! She’s super talented and her band is phenomenal! Working with her was amazing and we would love to work with her again.  You can view the cover here.

You worked with Rian Dawson ( All Time Low ) on your song, “Take me Home “.  How did that go ? We clicked with Rian and his assistant Dan right off the bat. It was such a smooth process and it honestly couldn’t have went any better. We can wait to work with them again.

Where did the band name come from ? Did you have any others chosen first ?
Times Like These actually comes from a lyric in the old All Time Low song “Noel”. We had a few other names in mind but we didn’t like any of them as much as we liked TLT. Two that stick out to me are Sound The Alarm and Easy Target.
What was the very first show you played, who was it with, and how did it go ? The very first show we ever played was in our friends backyard and it went pretty well for our first show. Our friends in Break Down The Walls and Suburban Zombie also played. Everyone killed it that night.

Out of all of your releases, which is your favorite song, and why?
My favorite song we’ve ever put out at the moment is Take Me Home. Writing it came so natural and it’s so much fun to play live!

Times Like These | Interview questions by Madison Boyce

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