The Positive Spin on Drums
by Chris Belin
March 2012 Publicity
This morning for breakfast I started my day as usual; coffee, cinnamon toast, morning drumming. Then after finishing my originally planned blog for this week I decided to check my email before posting. After re-reading the awesome 4.5 out of 5 star review for The Satin Hearts record, I stumbled upon The Woodpile article from ThePghMusicReport.com. I discovered a link to a really cool promo for the band in the local spotlight section. Bob tells the story of The Woodpile plus adds some good insight on being in a band, as well as real perspective on the Pittsburgh music scene.
So after reading all of this I decided to repost both, holding off on my initial blog plan, which will no doubt be saved for a later date. I’m really proud of my performances with both projects so receiving positive feedback put a smile on my face all day! Please click the links below to view the full pages each article originally appeared on. Hope you all enjoy!!
March 8th, 2012 by hux
The Satin Hearts–Living On Overdrive: Full throttle rock and roll with over-driven guitars highlighting Fran Rifugiato (Francis Kidd of The Fingers and The Features) drives through this album with a punk anthem. They wrap the album up in a bow using a rhythm section that employs sounds original to Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. The throwback sound is showcased on the title track “Living On Overdrive” with rockabilly galore featuring 1950s guitar sounds. “Wild Child” is more akin to a ska beat with jangly guitars and the one acoustic song on the album, “Untied,” is a welcomed break from the fast paced, in-your-face anthems.
4.5 McRiprock’s www.thesatinhearts.com
SATURDAY, MARCH 24, 2012.www.PghMusicReport.com
Local Spotlight - The Woodpile - March 2012 - Pittsburgh
Our local artist spotlight for the month of March is The Woodpile. The band just recently completed their debut LP, Life Vacation, which you can download for free from their bandcamp site. The band was kind enough to answer our normal 'spotlight' questions. You can find their album throughout the interview with links to their sites at the bottom.
How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school?
My old band, The Douglass Brothers, broke up. We could never really get it together, but I didn’t want to abandon the sound that I thought we should have gone for. So, in early 2008 I wrote about 20 songs and hired a band to rehearse and record what would become Life Vacation. I have known Steve Whooler, who played guitar in TDB, since we played in a couple high school bands together, and his metal style was a big part of what I envisioned for the project. Chris Belin handled the drumming. He was a go to guy on the skins when a drummer flaked (happened all the time), so I worked with him on and off over the years. A word of advice to someone starting out who wants to earn a living playing music…learn the drums. If you can show up on time and learn your parts before rehearsal you’re miles ahead of most. Anyway, Big Cat Lynch did a lot of vocals on the record. His musical talent is rather diverse and he’s a friend I have known since college so he was a clear choice. Lastly, E Graham played guitar and did background vocals. He posted a Craigslist ad that simply said something like “e-mail if you’re not a p*ssy.” I instantly knew what he meant so I hit him up. We got on real well and the timing was perfect because I had just finished the demos and was in the process of gathering the band.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
I still don’t have a very good answer for this question. Maybe after more people here the album and we get some feedback it will be easier. From the first rehearsal to release was about three and half years and during that time no one heard anything, not even the guys involved. Besides the first weekend where we cut the drums and some rough guitar tracks all recording sessions were periodic one-offs with each member. So they ended up hearing the finished product about one week before it was released. It seems like new genres are popping up constantly these days, but I don’t think any of that’s necessary here, it’s just rock music.
Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?
Everyone is from the Pittsburgh area. Besides Lynch, who grew up in the south hills, we’re all originally from the eastern suburbs.
Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture?
Chris Belin’s traveling drum school has been freaking parents out in their own homes since 1999 and he does freelance gigs and studio sessions, so he’s been fortunate enough to pay the bills that way. The rest of us, to a varying degree, are giving it go, but we’re certainly all still punching the clock.
Do you have day jobs?
Whooler is in charge of keeping produce fresh as a manager at a local chain supermarket. Graham worked at a piano store, but apparently it’s hard to make a living on the commissions from sales of $30,000.00 pianos since no one has the money to buy one. Lynch most recently worked for a software company, and I trade bonds at a large financial institution.
How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?
It varies. I like to sit with the bass or guitar and just jam. If something comes out that I like I’ll lay it down. Sometimes it builds on itself right away and other times it doesn’t, but either way I try not to force it. Many times I’ll come up with something much later and realize that it happens to work well with an older riff, and that can happen a few times and then there’s a song. A lot of lyrics pop into my head while I’m at work or some other random place. It usually results in a chorus or a couple of verse lines I like, and then that becomes the topic of the song.
What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?
That really depends. I would love to rehearse all the time and play a bunch of shows and go on tour. I’m ready to throw it all down on a moments’ notice, as I always have been. But the saying that you’re only as strong as your weakest link is so true when it comes to a band. The opportunity cost is too high for me to spend any time in a project where everyone involved doesn’t take pride in what we’re doing. I want to be the guy who cares the least. I wouldn’t lose any sleep if no one liked us, as long as we’re tight. The dudes involved in this case are all solid, so it’s feasible that we could pull it off, but it’s been so long since we started making the record that I need to sit down with everyone and see where they are in their life. I’d be open to having a label release Life Vacation on a larger scale, but it’s not something I’m actively pursuing.
What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?
I’m definitely not the person to ask that question to, but I could tell you quite a few things not to do. How much time do you have?
Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?
Whooler and I toured regionally with TDB. I booked all of our shows and we played a bunch of cities, Cleveland, Buffalo, Ithaca, Syracuse, NYC, Philly, just to name a few. It was very ambitious, but never resulted in much because we weren’t where we should have been as a unit. We had a great time though, and have a lot of memorable stories that will be told for years to come.
Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?
There are disadvantages and advantages of every city or town. It comes down to how you make those things work for you or against you. I lived in Fishtown in Philly for a time and the scene there was pretty robust. There were so many bands/studios/venues operating at a professional level. Was it easier to get noticed or easier to get lost in the shuffle because of that? I don’t know.
What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?
Many regional and national touring acts seem to skip Pittsburgh, so not as many people get into the routine of going out to smaller club shows on a regular basis, which I think would have a positive trickle down effect for local bands. That being said, I think there have been some small improvements in that area over the last couple of years and that it will continue to get better.
What are the positive benefits of being in the area?
People here are loyal and they know what they like. Those are positive qualities. Bands that have a loyal fan base, even if it’s not that big, will be better off than some buzz band from a bigger market. Additionally, I believe Pittsburgh is on the up and up in general. There was a brain drain here for years, but many people I know who moved away after college were able to find a good job here and move back. I’m one of those people.
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
Club Café is a nice club and always very accommodating. The Rex Theater is good for a louder band like those I’ve been in because the sound system and size of the venue, but only if there are 100+ people. I really like the setup at Howlers, and it’s the perfect size for local and smaller touring acts.
More information about the band can be found at these sites: