Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Lycosa Guitarist “Tree”

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Six Questions with Lycosa Guitarist “Tree

by Asya Yanyo

 

So my next Person or Persons Unknown interview subject is someone I did not know very well before I decided to ask him for an interview, but I suppose that was the point of these: to shed some light on people not very many people knew much about. This one definitely qualifies. I first officially met Tree when his band Lycosa was having their Innervenus dual-release show with Grisly Amputation. Over the course of meeting all these new people, I would say that I am constantly surprised at how warm and friendly they are — which is a vast contrast to the mood and feel of the music that they play. No one surprised me quite as much as Tree — he’s sweet and kind and, just like my husband, you sometimes have a hard time hearing him because he really doesn’t talk all that loud (when he talks at all!). I have since gotten to know him slightly more speaking to him via Facebook messages and seeing him out at shows, and I am happy to now call him a friend. I hope you guys will find him as interesting as I do, and that you’ll check out Lycosa — maybe even venture out to Kent, Ohio, this weekend for a mini road trip to check them out. The band is great on CD, but even better live! Take it from me, it would be worth the drive from Pittsburgh.

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Annakarina’s Craig Hodgkins

Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Annakarina‘s Craig Hodgkins

by Asya Yanyo

 

Have you ever been going to an event somewhere, where you don’t really expect things to be different — you figure it’s totally going to be a fun night, but nothing out of the norm — then suddenly after you’ve walked in the door, something begins and BAM!, you are completely blown away?

Yes? No? Doesn’t matter, that’s basically the exact scenario of how I first heard Annakarina: I was attending a punk show with Eric in Charleroi, PA, last December. This show was about five minutes from our house — quite a change from our normal hour-plus drive, so I was happy to be attending for that reason — but with the inclusion of the word “punk” I didn’t expect to be hearing something that Eric later described to me as “Post-Mathcore,” but we did. It was seriously gorgeous in its expression of angst and precision side-by-side.

So Annakarina and their music really never left my mind after the show. Soon afterwards, I found out that someone had taped their whole set and put it on Youtube, and I’ve probably watched it like five times since then — needless to say, I was a fan.

Anyway, last month we were attending another punk show at the same venue — where as it turns out, Annakarina was going to be making another appearance — and on this day I happened to decide that I needed to drink A LOT of tequila before the show (and during). Probably because we were so close to home I was feeling a little more rebellious, I don’t know. Drunk or not, I was extremely excited to see Annakarina again, but this time I decided that I needed to talk to those guys. In my drunken stupor, I basically poured my inner fandom out for them, sharing the fact that Eric was a blogger, that we attend shows at least once a week in Pittsburgh, all sorts of stuff.

[Editor’s note: at one point, I recall she had told bassist Kurtis Kelley about the description I made up the first time we’d seen them. He seemed a bit puzzled, but then said, “Well, I know what post-hardcore is, and I know what math rock is, and — yeah I guess I can see that.”]

I’m sure they were like, who’s this crazy lady, but even so they were all very kind. I got introduced to them all one by one, and in particular I felt drawn to [guitarist/vocalist] Craig. In between bands I talked casually to him (or as casually as I could manage — remember I was very drunk) about his music, his friendship with the drummer and other bandmates, and soon I realized this guy was special pretty special.

In a way, I was feeling sort of annoyed that no one else we knew really knew anything about this band — because I’ve never seen them at any shows in Pittsburgh, and (I mean this in the nicest way possible) honestly they’re better then a few bands that we’ve seen playing other shows in the past. So I decided I needed to introduce Craig and his music to more people — so there’s the core reason for this interview. I think you’ll agree he’s quite a special guy — that magical combination of intelligence, wit, weirdness, awkwardness, and sincerity that you couldn’t fake if you tried. So here he is, pouring his heart out to you, via my six questions; I hope you will find him as endearing as I do, and I hope you will venture out to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg this Sunday to see his band playing a charity show benefiting PLEA. Trust me, Annakarina is a band you won’t want to miss, and this guy is one of the major reasons for that.

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Steve and Aaron Kaczynski of Jericho Theory

Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Steve Kaczynski (guitar) and Aaron Kaczynski (vocals) of Jericho Theory

by Asya Yanyo

 

Here I am again, writing another Person or Persons Unknown about another Pittsburgh band member, but this time I decided to change things up a bit. This time I am focusing on two guys actually: Steve Kaczynski and his son Aaron.

While I have never really had too much interaction with Steve in the past, I have seen their joint band Jericho Theory and was impressed with the chemistry and talent they both posses. I must admit, doing this particular article was one of the main reasons for starting these interviews. In truth, I have known Aaron for a while now, and I’ve liked him from the first time I met him. He’s got an infectious enthusiasm that you couldn’t fake if you tried. I have gotten to know him better through this journey of Facebook messages, attending shows together, and also attending shows that his bands have played. I am not sure if I have ever met a more honest and caring person in our music scene. He is that guy that knows all your songs, and knows what shows you’re playing; he’s the kind of fan that makes playing in a band in Pittsburgh worth it. I don’t even think people realize what a positive and caring member of this circle he really is. He has a way of making shows I attend with him more fun — even with my weird habit of buying him a PBR at least once a show — it’s more a level of comfort and happiness when I know he’ll be attending a show. He’s kind of turned into an unofficial little brother for Eric and me, and listening to him tell me at least once during each show that this is his favorite band or his favorite song makes me happier then I could ever state — because his influence has actually made me want to be a better fan.

So with that, I figured that this kid with his infectious nature and love of music had to have an amazing musical role model just like I did. Now that I have the ability to figure that out, I was on a mission to do so — hence the reason for this interview, so I could see if my inkling about him was correct. I am very proud to call Aaron a friend, and I hope after reading this you’ll want to be friends with him and his dad too, and I hope it will make you want to see them in action this Saturday, March 30th, at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern.

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Solarburn Bassist Tony Thomas

Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Solarburn Bassist Tony Thomas

by Asya Yanyo

 

    
The first step is admitting it, right? So here goes… “Hello, my name is Asya, and I am addicted to Solarburn.”  I have seen them numerous times, and will again soon; I had their CD in the CD changer in my car for a record 12 weeks straight, and for a long time it was the band that I would talk about every chance I got. It’s not as if I wish to be cured of my addiction or anything; in fact I’ve decided to just own it, and I am perfectly willing to help others get addicted too.

This pretty much is THE band for me, the band that opened up a whole new level of musical enjoyment in my life, and the band that I shamelessly promote every chance I get, quite like I am doing right now. Yes, if you haven’t seen them yet, you’re honestly missing (in my humble opinion) one of the BEST things about Pittsburgh! But you can fix that April 2nd when they open for Otep at the Altar Bar.

They are three of the nicest and most genuinely no-BS guys I have ever met in my life, and these dudes can shred like nobody’s business. So how did I just pick one of them for Person or Persons Unknown? As hard as it was (and honestly it WAS hard, because I am lucky enough to actually be friends with [guitarist] Mike [Stains], [drummer] Russ [Tompkins], and [bassist] Tony [Thomas]), I ended up choosing the person I connected with immediately in the beginning, at the first show at I ever saw Solarburn play — way back in August of last year. Immediately, I felt that Tony was more than just an awesome bass player, but that he also a had deep knowledge of music, which I respected and connected with. As you’ll see from this interview, that is definitely the case.

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Grisly Amputation/Vulture Guitarist Gene Fikhman

  
Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Grisly Amputation/Vulture Guitarist Gene Fikhman

by Asya Yanyo

 
 
My second Person or Persons Unknown is with Gene Fikhman, guitarist for Grisly Amputation and Vulture (one of my personal favorite bands EVER), horror and gore movie enthusiast, and all around cool and collected kind of guy. I must admit that I don’t know Gene very well, but in my personal interactions with him it has always seemed like he was the type of person who knew lots of information once you scratched the surface. I’ve had a lot of men in my life that are like this — in fact, I am married to one — and it’s been my personal experience that you are never disappointed when you get to know these kinds of guys. They are usually extremely intelligent, full of useless knowledge, helpful in all kinds of situations and hell to play trivia against. This is what made me want to interview him, not about just GrisAmp or Vulture, but about him personally so I could see if I was correct and I think you’ll see from this interview that I wasn’t disappointed. I hope you won’t be, either.

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Slaves BC Bassist Jason Cantu

Hey there, folks! I hope your week is going well. If it’s not, I guess you can be glad that it’s almost over! Personally, I’m just about totally recovered from last weekend’s Winter’s Wake festival, and sometime soon I’ll probably even start writing again.

In the meantime, please enjoy this BRAND NEW feature which will be running periodically here on Valley of Steel — courtesy of the lovely and wonderful person to whom I am fortunate enough to be married!

 
Person or Persons Unknown

Six Questions with Slaves BC Bassist Jason Cantu

by Asya Yanyo

 
Greetings and salutations! Many of you know me, or have met me, or at least know of me. My name is Asya (aka “Mrs. Valley of Steel“). I’ve been married to Eric (aka “Mr. Valley of Steel“) for about five years now — tomorrow [01 March] is our five-year anniversary, in fact.

I’m sure most of you have seen Eric‘s many posts about shows that are occurring in the Pittsburgh area. Well, he doesn’t just post about them; he actually attends — we both do, actually. [Editor’s note: at least, as frequently as physically possible!] Well, through the course of attending these shows, we’ve met some great people and it occurred to me that you (the general public) might like to hear a little bit more about these interesting people, the bands that they are currently in, and what brought them to the musical path that they are traveling down.

I will be doing these on occasion: they will always be six questions, just enough to give you a sense of the person and their tastes (as opposed to the same old stale band questions you’re always reading). So I hope that you will join me on this new journey in getting to know these wonderful and unique people, and — who knows — maybe you’ll find a new band that may change your life, too!

My first “Person or Persons Unknown” interview is with Jason Cantu, the bassist for Slaves BC, whom Eric and I have already seen three times this year. Jason, while just one part of this great band, has an infectious enthusiasm that really enhances their live show. His love and support of music in general is also infectious, and it has inspired me to do these interviews.

Everyone should have a friend like this: someone who’s always posting about records you’ve forgotten about, or wearing t-shirts you would kill for (specifically, I am referring to the Ten Years After shirt he sometimes wears), and someone who is supportive of not only his own band but all local and non-local bands. He is the type of fan that makes you want to be a better fan, too.

Check out his band Slaves BC on Bandcamp, and then come out to see them FOR FREE this weekend [Saturday, 02 March] at Kopec’s Bar. You will not be disappointed.

 
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