A Game of Darts With Ceramic Animal

By Rhiannon Levengood
Photos by Rachel Meyers

A group of four men dressed in matching wine-colored, three-piece suits may seem like they’re the lost part of a wedding party to you, and usually you’d be correct. Even the immaculately slicked-back hairstyle would fool you. However Warren, Elliott, Erik, and Dallas actually make up an alternative pop band called Ceramic Animal.

Their carbon-copy fashion is not the only thing that catches the attention of their new fans because their sound is equally as, if not even more enticing. With their first single “So Familiar” from their upcoming sophomore album, Ceramic Animal brings forth a psychedelic vibe to take us on a trip back to the late 60s. The track is innovative and surreal, slow and relaxing, and extremely difficult to compare to any specific artist, which makes Ceramic Animal truly a distinctive band. The lyrics explain the familiar feeling of falling in love with someone for the first time, and how welcoming that feeling is. But this is all only a taste of what’s to come, which the group‒in very few words‒hints at their next record being unlike anything they’ve done before.

Luckily, I had the chance to speak one-on-one with these guys during an experimental interview. They showed me their darts skills while giving me an inside look at their goofy personalities and at their lives as up and coming musicians.

Please introduce the other band members and describe them in a single word.
Dallas: That’s Warren, that’s Elliott, and that’s Erik. And handsome, handsome, and handsome.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Elliott: The wilderness. I listen to exclusively Celtic music. That’s it. Celtic music and Ceramic Animal to pad the stats on Spotify. I don’t need anything else. But inspiration? I pull that from my brothers. My friends. See, it’s really important to write good songs. To be inspired to write good songs. But getting the inspiration to keep on truckin? Woo boy, that’s the important thing. That comes from family, from fans, from friends, and from each other.

What are you most proud of in regards to Ceramic Animal?
Rik: Just a couple weeks ago we found out we got an official showcase at SXSW‒a week later we were featured as “Artist of the Day”. Totally out of the blue, but something we have had our eye on for a while‒and are thrilled to be a part of.

What have you discovered about yourself since joining Ceramic Animal?
Rik: Writing stuff down is powerful. Frequently when we are together we write things down that we want to do or accomplish. Some big things, some small things, but at the time it can feel intimidating‒you don’t know how you’ll be able to get all that done. It’s crazy to come across past lists we’ve made and see that we did everything on them. Luckily we keep making new lists.

Elliott: You look back on these once-daunting goals and you’re like…”really? That was keeping us up at night? We crushed that.” It’s like going to watch your younger brother play rec league intramural basketball when you’re 12 and he’s 9… You’re watching some real cracker jack athleticism. It’s bad ball. As a 12 year old, there’d be no contest for you out there. But when you’re 9 and in the moment, it’s scary. You don’t have the context. Gotta keep pushing.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Warren: No one is going to do it for you, and you shouldn’t want them to anyway.
Elliott: Right, because no one really knows what they’re doing. There’s a good Steve Jobs quote about how the frameworks that are set in stone for how all of us live our lives were created by people that weren’t any smarter than we are…I’d Google it. It’s a real barrier breaker.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see the band?
Elliott: At some point I’ll probably sell out, cash it all in, and start a puppy farm.
Rik: I see what is going on in automation, and it’s thrilling. I’m hoping to save up enough money and invest in some sort of high-tech “Key-Machine” or “Board-Bot” to take over for Elliott. That way he can chase down that puppy farm dream he is always talking about.

What is a typical day like for you?
Elliott: I wake up around 6 without an alarm. I make the bed. Then I drink at least 16 oz of room temp water. Sometimes I throw a pinch of Himalayan salt and a squirt of lime in there‒early morning for me is all about the alkalinity; flush the body, get the system lubricated. If you’re having a tough day, then you’re just not hydrated. Sometimes I’ll have some coffee with some butter, but not until close to 9. I love taking my time in the morning‒that’s what they’re for. I’ll look at the band email, check some social media accounts‒see if there’s anything we can respond to. I don’t eat breakfast until 12 or 1. I’ll get some kind of physical activity in. The band gets together sometime late afternoon. We let it rip until about 9 pm. Whatever we need to do‒rehearse, record, rehash. If we know people playing that night we’ll snake some big delicious beers and bop out for some live music. The rest is private.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your musical career so far?
Dallas: Gettin’ that paper.

How did you get into music?
Elliott: I was pressured into it by my parents and brothers.
Rik: I took up the snare drum in 4th grade because my friend said, “drummers get chicks” [It] took a few month to realize this rule for whatever reason didn’t really apply if you are only playing a snare drum‒but I had just bought a 12 pack of sticks so I kept with it.
Dallas: My dad is a guitar player. He is the one that really got me into it. I play bass and my twin brother is a drummer, we have played together most of our lives. We have been in bands together off and on, too. I actually met these guys while I was playing in one of those bands.

What instruments can you play?
Dallas: Bass, Guitar, Keys, some drums and hand percussion. I can get by on a lot of things after just playing around for a bit.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your musical career so far?
Warren: Hearing from people who find our music, and how it impacts them positively. When we hear that something we made has helped someone get through a tough time, or it’s a song they share with someone they care about, it’s an awesome feeling.

Besides the release of your second record and mini summer tour, what are you looking forward to most this year?
Elliott: SXSW‒that’s gonna’ be a good time. I’m excited to see what this year brings. Every day there’s some kind of nugget worth appreciating. Want to make sure I’m staying in the moment.

What’s the earliest memory involving music that you can remember?
Warren: An early memory involving music for me that got me to start playing guitar was watching a Led Zeppelin live DVD that I got as a gift when I was 10 or 11. It might have just been called “Led Zeppelin DVD” or something generic like that but it had a few shows from different venues they played through the years‒all of which were pretty incredible.

Where is your favorite venue?
Dallas: To see a show in Philly, World Cafe Live, Johnny Brenda’s, and Union Transfer are great spots.

How would you describe your next album in 5 words?
Warren: Three words: Cowboy Sneaker Boot.

Would you change anything about your journey so far?
Elliott: Nope. Wouldn’t even consider it. If things didn’t go the way they went, we wouldn’t be where we are now. I love where we are right now…I loving knowing what I know. I appreciate the mistakes we’ve made‒and I’m glad we made them. I also appreciate the things we (sometimes accidentally) got right. The grass is only greener on the other side if you aren’t cultivating your own yard. You never know what (or how) decisions will impact your trajectory down the road. If you don’t learn to be happy where you are now, nothing can change that for you, not permanently.

How do you deal with a creative block?
Warren: Gotta power through. Power through the tough days and take advantage of the easy ones.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Rik: Don’t expect anyone to do it for you. Create as much of your own opportunity as you can. When people are willing to genuinely help you along the way, it is a wonderful thing, cherish those people. We have been lucky to run into some people like that, but you can’t rely on it as the rule. Learn to enjoy figuring out stuff on your own, surround yourself with good people. Have some fun.

What is your dream venue to play?
Warren: A sold out Wembley always looks pretty fun. I’ve never been to Red Rocks but it is supposed to be great, so playing it would be a great excuse to go.

What’s an instrument you’d like to learn?
Dallas: Trumpet.

Waffles or pancakes?
Warren: Ahh this question always has me wafflin’.

Who is your most played artist on Spotify?
Rik: T. Rex or The Kinks

Which artist would you most like to tour with, dead or alive?
Dallas: Otis Redding or Queens of the Stone Age

What is on your tour rider?
Warren: Baby wipes
Elliott: Hair Tonic
Rik: Saltwater Taffy
Dallas: Mayonnaise

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Rik: Don’t worry so much‒take action quickly rather than delaying.

What would your spirit animal be?
Rik: Dolphin.

What was the last tv show you binge-watched?
Elliott: One Punch Man
Rik: The End of the F****ing World on Netflix

How do you take your coffee?
Warren: Black
Elliott: Scoop uh’ butta’, scoop uh’ coconut oil
Rik: Black, sometimes a splash of cream.
Dallas: Wawa 12-ouncer

What’s your go-to drink?
Elliott: My sleeper choice is an ice cold can of Hamm’s Special Light Beer.
Rik: Magic Hat #9

Favorite sweet?
Rik: Tootsies and Necco Wafers

If you were stranded on a deserted island, which fast food place would you crave the most?

Favorite kind of pizza?
Elliott: Momma’s homemade pizza pie‒made from scratch

If you missed their last show in Philadelphia, PA, you can catch their next show on May 17 at Union Transfer with Low Cut Connie. Tickets available here.

​Crown The Empire and Friends Crush it at Their NJ Tour Date

By Rachel Meyers

Crown The Empire brought their tour through GameChangerWorld in Freehold, NJ on July 19, 2017. Accompanied by Out Came The Wolves, Palaye Royale, and I See Stars, these bandspacked the venue with fans of all ages (including a crowd surfing 8 year old!).

The night started out strong with the Minneapolis rockers, Out Came The Wolves. Led by vocalist Cameron Burns, the band got the crowd moving and rocking out! The music was flawless and although Cameron took a bit of a fall towards the end of their set, he rallied like a champ and finished out their set stronger than ever.

Following the outstanding openers were 2017 APMA nominees for Best Underground Band, Palaye Royale. This fashion-art rock band came on stage with truly unique style and kept the crowd involved as they performed their own music, as well as a cover of Teenagers by My Chemical Romance. Throughout their entire performance, Palaye Royale interacted with the audience, climbing over the barrier and leaning into the crowd, as well as vocalist Remington Leith completely entering the crowd for a verse of an original song.

I See Stars continued the night with their Electronic Hardcore music, beloved and well known by the vast majority of the crowd. While many fans wore I See Stars apparel, others moshed and crowd surfed to the band’s music, the first crowd surfer of the night being an 8 year old girl. This popular band incorporated their synth with their otherwise hardcore sound perfectly, making no mistakes throughout their performance.

Lastly, closing out the night were headliners Crown The Empire. Vocalist Andy Leo took the stage with unbelievable energy and kept that stage presence up throughout his entire performance. The crowd sang along, screamed, moshed and crowd surfed from the beginning to the end of Crown The Empire’s set. These Dallas, Texas natives played their new songs throughout their hour on stage, as well as including some of their previous hits. By the time this set was over, every single person was drenched in sweat and many had lost their voices.

It was a rowdy night overall, and a very fun one. Each band left their mark on the crowd and kept the fans moving. This was only the third date of their tour, so there is still plenty of time to catch them as these bands pass through your area! Find tour dates and tickets here.

Warped Tour Celebrates its 23rd Year as Summer’s Biggest Touring Festival

Written by Mario Corsaro, Photos by Rachel Meyers

Yet another Vans Warped Tour at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden is in the books, and what a day it was.

The Kevin Lyman founded festival, now in its 23rd year, was full of memorable moments.

Early in the day, the all-female California punk rockers, Bad Cop / Bad Cop, brought back the spirit of Warped Tours of the past, with their infectious stage presence and So-Cal skate punk sound. Tour veterans Memphis May Fire and newcomers I Prevail both had a nice early afternoon draw and were among the standouts of the metal acts on the day.

One of the largest crowds of the day was for Beartooth, a band that has seen rising success in their genre over the last few years. Fans rushed towards the Journey’s Right Foot Stage, turning the packed amphitheater floor into a sea of moshers and crowd surfers.

Another big draw was founder and vocalist of Black Veil Brides, Andy Biersack, and his solo project, Andy Black. Straying away from the hard rock and heavy metal roots of Black Veil Brides, Andy Black attracted a more diverse and younger crowd with their pop rock approach.

Municipal Waste, adding to already surprisingly loaded list of ,metal bands on this year’s tour, tore up the Hard Rock stage with their thrash sound, more comparable to bands one would not associate with Warped Tour such as Slayer, Exodus and Anthrax. After, the female-fronted New Year’s Day ripped it up on the Journey’s Left Foot Stage, combining their gothic, macabre look with raw guitar sounds and powerful vocals by Ashley Costello.

It was a homecoming for CKY,  natives of the West Chester/Philadelphia area. Known for drummer Jess Margera being the brother of skateboarder and reality star Bam Margera and their music being included in the likes of Viva La Bam and Jackass, many anticipated seeing the band play on the tour for the first time since 2000. Parents April and Phil were in attendance, watching from the side of the stage and receiving an ovation. Bam joined the band on vocals midway through their set to perform a cover of “Bite It You Scum” by GG Allin.

Silverstein, playing their eighth Warped Tour, had a nice surprise for the crowd at the end of their set. Beefcake the Mighty, bassist of shock rock legends GWAR, “killed” bassist Billy Hamilton, taking his place on stage.

As the sun set and Hatebreed took the stage, a strong wind began to pick up and following the band’s opener, “Destroy Everything,” a massive storm ripped through the area. As if the band had controlled the weather themselves, the pouring rain created an aesthetically pleasing sight of headbangers and circle pits, befitting of their aggressive, heavy sound.

One of the most unique acts of the day was GWAR. Those lucky enough to be in the front of the pit were baptized in fake blood, spraying from a stage prop designed after President Donald Trump. Accompanying the ‘execution’ of the president was a cover of AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood.”

The tour continues its summer trek across the United States. After Friday’s stop in Camden, many are already looking forward to next year’s tour. Let the speculation begin. Too soon?

Don’t miss the 2017 Warped Tour date near you! Tickets and dates available at http://vanswarpedtour.com/dates/