One of the nicest guys in the scene is Jeff Terranova from Smorgasbord Records. Well, I never met him personally (but hope to do so when Windfall will tour Europe this winter), but every time we mail he’s so supportive and cool. So after he sent me the latest release of Windfall, the band he plays guitar in (besides, he’s still in the legendary hardcore outfit Up Front), I decided to do an interview with the band. Any of you should go to one of their upcoming shows later this year (I will post the dates as soon as they are confirmed). But before that you should check out the interview I did with the members of Windfall…
Hey everyone, please introduce yourself a bit!
Jennifer: This is Jennifer, the singer of Windfall. And at this moment I am a bit sore from my last race, but happy. Outside of Windfall I am a triathlete. My main distance that I train for is the Ironman(2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run) (Wow! – Stefan). It is my passion. Or at least one of them. During the day I work as a personal trainer, but mainly as a swim coach.
Jon: I'm Jon, I play guitar and I drive a tractor trailer for a living.
Jeff: I play guitar in Windfall and I am president of Smorgasbord records. So in a way, I am never away from making music.
Chris: Chris Wallin, bass player, general source of goofy humour, and amplifier carrying specialist. Apart from music, I'm sitting at my computer at work. WOO-HOO!!!
Let’s talk about your first full length “Loud with the windows open so the neighbors can hear” first which I like very much by the way. I think the sound of that album is really great and I was very surprised when I read that you recorded the whole thing in just two days live in the studio. How did you succeed finishing the recordings in just two days? Is that the live experience? Why did you record only two days?
Jeff: We recorded the new CD live in the studio for a few reasons. We did not have much time and money and we needed to record a new CD. We also wanted to try and capture the feel and energy of our live performance. Many people who saw us live would say that we were much better live than we were on the 'Awaken' CD. So we wanted to try and get that live, raw energy onto the new CD. We practiced the songs that we were going to record, actually, we were supposed to do like 4-5 more songs but the guy at the studio pressured us to leave because he had to leave, but that's a whole another story. We are all very happy with our performance and with how the CD turned out.
The info sheet says that the album is different to "all of the testosterone fed, teen angst filled songs" by lots of others bands. Which bands/sounds do you mean in particular, all those youth crew hardcore bands? What makes the album different from these other sounds in your eyes?
Jennifer: Well I am not going to name bands. I think that would be mean, but when it comes to this pathetic and boring anger and tough guy crap, the genre of music varies. It could be anything from mainstream pop, to alternative to hardcore. What is wrong with people and why are they so angry? Get over it.
Jeff: We were referring to the whining, angry, angst filled crap that has been filling the radio air waves for the past way too many years. I feel that Windfall are a breath of fresh air to all of the kids that have been force fed the bubble gum, over produced, cheesy garbage that has been on the radio and MTV the past 5 years.
Chris: I think that when we refer to "testosterone fed, teen angst filled songs," it means the Limp Bizkit's, Papa Roach's, and Korn's that are currently flooding American radio and television. It's kinda getting really annoying now that a lot of really great underground bands can't get the credit or exposure they deserve because aggro-rap-metal is big now. Bands with energy, passion, heart, and talent get brushed aside to make room for another rap-metal band writing the same old riffs, with the same old lyrical style, about the same old things. Can't even listen to commercial radio here anymore.
The cover of "Loud with the windows open..." depicts a live shot of the band. Did you choose a live picture and not a painting or other picture because of the semi live recording of the album or what was the reason for this?
Jeff: That is pretty much it. We recorded the CD live in the studio and what would be better than an awesome live photo of the band for the cover.
The album is dedicated to Terry Luttman, what does this dedication mean (I hope that's not too personal)?
Jennifer: Terry Luttman was the most selfless woman I have ever met. She was the mom of my best friend Ken. She was like my own mom. She had this way of seeing the beauty in everything no matter how hard things got. And anyone who crossed her path was richer for the experience. So the dedication was not only just for my own personal respects, but I thought it extremely fitting because this is what the album is all about, a celebration of life. Recognizing the problems and the joys and living life without hate and anger.
Before the album you released an EP in 1999 called "Awaken", also on Smorgasbord. Why did that release come out as an EP and not as a full length? What do you think about this EP today? Would you say that your sound has changed over the years and especially when you compare the EP and the full length?
Jon: I believe 'Awaken' remained as an EP mainly because I was new in the band, and I didn't know a lot the material at the time.
Jeff: We needed a debut release and at the time, like Jon said, he was new and we only had those 6 songs that were ready for the studio. So we decided, instead of waiting, we just went in and recorded the 6 songs and released them as an EP.
Chris: I still like the EP, but I think the new one blows it away. With our new drummer, the band has really come together and become what we've always wanted to be, a great live band. Which is also why I think the full length worked. We've gotten really tight as musicians and feed off of each other a lot. We were able to go into the studio and really crank through the music so well because we could all see each other and work with each other.
Are your releases also available on vinyl? What do you prefer, CD or vinyl and why?
Jeff: As of right now none of our releases are available on vinyl. I love vinyl, nothing beats a 12" x 12" LP jacket in your hand and the smell of new vinyl (right! – Stefan). It's just that it is very expensive to press vinyl and to ship vinyl overseas, plus there is not a huge demand for it anymore like there was in the past. If we had the money, I would definitely do a pressing on vinyl, but for now, it's CD only.
I heard Windfall was founded in 1996. How did you meet in the first place (I know this question is pretty lame, but I always hear from people that they want to know about a band's history)?
Jeff: Yes, Jennifer and I have been doing Windfall since 1996 and since then we have gone through many different line up changes. We recorded a 4 song demo tape back in 1996 with a different drummer and bass player. One of the songs made it to the "Awaken" CD/EP, another one of the songs we play out live but have not had the chance to re-record yet, one of the songs we dropped all together, and one of the songs we are still in the process of trying to perfect and play out again. The "Awaken" CD/EP came out back in July of 1999. Jon had only been in the band since that past January and we went into the studio in March/April. Soon after the CD/EP came out, our drummer quit and that's when we found Rob. This past July hit the two year mark that Windfall has been playing with the line up that recorded the "Loud with the windows open so the neighbors can hear" CD.
Chris: I saw an ad in a local musician's paper for a hard rock/hardcore band in need of a bass player. I had always been a rock bass player, and liked the 3 or 4 hardcore bands I knew of (Sick of it All and Quicksand. Okay, I guess I only knew 2 hardcore bands). I figured I would give it a shot.
So who was in Windfall before the actual line up and why are those people no longer in the band?
Jeff: I kind of just answered this one in the last question. The former members are no longer in the band because they either did not want to play with Windfall anymore or they did not have the time to dedicate to practice, recording, and touring. We are still friends with most of them and they actually come to our shows and support the band even though they no longer play with us.
The info sheet also says that the bond between the band members grew over the years. Would you go as far as to say that the band would break up if one member would quit or would you carry on anyway?
Jon: The core of this band is Jeff and Jen, and without one of these two, this band does not exist. However, doing this band without Rob or Chris would be painful and sad.
Jeff: I don't agree with Jon, he underestimates his part in this band. Jennifer and I are only the core because we are the only two remaining founding members, but all 5 of us make up Windfall. The band would not be the same if one of us decided to leave, but depending on the circumstances, I would do my best to keep the band going.
You come from NY, NJ and CT, right? How far are you living away from each other? Isn't it difficult to find the time to rehearse? I was wondering because the sound on the full length is perfect, so I thought that you must rehearse a lot...
Jon: I live in New Jersey and I'm the farthest away. We try to practice once a week. Everyone in the band practices at home as well, and that's what keeps us sharp and tight.
Bands like the Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Psychopunch and the Turpentines are mentioned the thanks list on "Loud with the windows open..." "just for existing." What do you like in particular about this Swedish/Norwegian sound and what about Turbonegro and the Hives?
Jon: I fully enjoy the stripped down, loud, aggressive rock and roll approach of these bands. These underground rock bands are so much better than the synthetic and sterile bands being played on NY radio. (Examples: Creed, Live, Matchbox 20, etc...) I haven't heard the other bands mentioned, but would like to.
Jeff: I have not heard those two bands either but I would definitely like to. I, like Jon, love raw, loud, aggressive, rock 'n roll and those bands that we thanked just happen to do it the best.
Chris: Finally cool to hear some actual riffs in rock music. Bands that aren't afraid to be punchy and hard, and BIG!!! No ballads from those guys. As for Turbonegro and the Hives never heard of em, but I'll pick up their CDs. (I’m quite surprised that none of you knows Turbonegro, ‘cause they were quite popular in the US before they broke up… - Stefan)
How many people come to your shows in the US and with which bands (which style) do you play there?
Jeff: That really depends on the show and on the night. We play all types of shows from hardcore/punk to metal to just us playing in a bar on a Friday night. We love to play and we almost never turn down a show. We are playing a show coming up with Another Day, who is ex-members of Drain sth and we are also playing with Kings X in October. We have played with Fast Times, American Standard, and a ton of other hardcore bands in the past.
Chris: Anyone who'll play with us. Noise, alternative, hardcore, punk, rock, anyone.
You have been over to Europe before, right? How was that experience for you? How many people showed up? Did you come over for a headlining tour or did you support another band? Which European/German bands do you know/like?
Jennifer: Europe was great. The crowd sizes changed. Vienna had 500 people and Illistrica Bistrica had 50. But that was not important. I met some of the nicest people in those smaller shows and definitely kept in touch. The band that I really was crazy about was Bambix. They are so fun and their CD rocks.
Jeff: Yes, we toured Europe for 3 weeks last November of 2000 and it was great. For the most part we headlined the entire tour and we played with a few great European bands like Driftnet, Bambix, and Nitrominds from South America. I love touring Europe, I have had the pleasure to tour three times with Up Front and once with Windfall.
You will come over to Europe again this November / December. What do you expect? Maybe to meet some people you already met during your first trip? Are you headlining this upcoming out or are you support?
Jennifer: Well I don't have lots of expectations. I will just take it as it comes. But I guess that the only one I have is that some of the people I met before and have kept in touch with come out and see us again.
Jeff: I think that this tour will be better than the 1st tour. We are trying to go back to many of the places that we played on the 1st tour and we are also trying to play some shows with some of the same bands again. I am unsure if we will be headlining or opening the shows because the tour is being set up right now as we speak and we do not have any of the confirmed dates yet.
Isn't it sometimes "difficult" to be on Smorgasbord because Jeff who runs the label plays in Windfall? I could imagine that it is pretty hard work for him. Would you say that the other bands on Smorgasbord could be "envious" because they might think that Windfall is better promoted?
Jon: The other 'working' bands on Smorgasbord are not short changed at all. Unfortunately for Jeff, he has a handful of bands that are defunct and not working. These bands don't realize what a good thing they had.
Chris: I can't imagine anyone on Jeff's label would have any complaint about him. He's bustin’ his hump everyday to promote every band on his label and to do everything he can to help them out. Passing info for shows, sending stuff to radio stations, promoting.
Jeff: If you knew me you would know that I am fair to all of the bands equally. Smorgasbord Records is my job and I am committed to all of the bands on the label. I think that being in Windfall helps out the other bands because I am making connections and we are playing shows to people who may not have heard of the other bands before. They buy a Windfall CD or come to a show, they get a Smorgasbord catalogue, visit the web page, and now they know about the entire Smorgasbord catalogue of bands. I also get the other bands interviews and occasionally licensing deals with European labels.
One of you guys supposedly was in the legendary Supertouch? Is that true?
Jon: Hi, I'm Jon Biviano and I'm the founding guitar player of 'Supertouch'. I wrote the music for 'Searchin for the Light', and wrote many songs on the 'Earth is Flat' CD such as Engine, Shame, Anything it Takes, Lock Out, What if, and Understanding. I also helped write 'Better' on the Anti-Matter CD.
Did you ever make the experience that people like your music but didn't like the vocals of Jennifer? I guess that would be pretty stupid, but I saw some people in the supposedly tolerant hardcore scene that don't like bands with a female singer just because of this.
Jon: The hardcore scene, worldwide, was built by men and women. Don't ever forget that! (I don’t, but some people are reacting that way, that’s why I’m asking – Stefan)
Jennifer: Well I can understand the scene for not accepting female fronted bands. Because I think most sound the same. As much as I like to support female singers, there really aren't many that stand out. But this is where the scene sucks. Guys won't even listen or go to a show that has a female singer, even if they have never heard them and hate them. But that is their loss because we rock and even though you might have heard the CD, the live show blows away not only the CD, but any man fronted band out there. And we have NEVER had the experience that some guy has not liked my voice. Most guys are left speechless. Even the toughest of tough guys.
Jeff: To be into the hardcore/punk scene and not like a band with a female singer is just plain stupid (That’s true – Stefan). I think that a female singing in a band is the most punk thing ever! Kids no longer know the meaning of "punk rock" and what it means to be "punk".
Please don't get me wrong, would you say that the female vocals also lead to different lyrics?
Jennifer: I completely disagree. I can't tell you how many songs are written about guys not getting over some girl or guys being upset about being misunderstood by these men fronted bands (I agree, and I also like it a lot when bands sing about how they broke up with a girl and stuff. One of my fave songs is “Rocks tonic juice magic” by Saves the Day – Stefan). I don't think it's about male or female. It really does come down to the individual. Windfall songs are not woe as me, boo whoo, cry cry, and sniff boy songs.
Jeff: Yes, I agree with you here. I used to sing and write lyrics in Up Front and my project band Trouble Is..., so I am no stranger to writing lyrics. I think that Jennifer's lyrics, though far from typical lyrics, come from a very unique perspective. 1/2 of that perspective is truly Jennifer as a person and the other 1/2 is Jennifer as a female and her female perspective on the world. Maybe I am wrong but women and men are not viewed or judged equally on this planet and that definitely effects the way that each of us view the world. I mean, I as a man will never know what it's like to menstruate, have a baby, have a strange guy at a bar stare at my ass and breasts and/or make rude sexual comments to me. I think that you know where I am going here and men and women have different perspectives from where they come from and how they view things.
Chris: Oh yeah. Sometimes, I'll stop and listen to the lyrics Jen is singing and think, "Man, these lyrics are totally about women." The song “Dessert” comes to mind. Very female oriented.
What did you think when you heard about the death of Joey Ramone?
Jon: Joey Ramone – R.I.P. What a great guy.
Jennifer: Well I never liked the Ramones. But whether it was Joey Ramone or the locale guy at the corner store was shot and killed, it was sad. But I believe there is a life beyond this so it is not too sad. It may be more sad for the people that think we just live and die with nothing else. That would be really sad.
Jeff: I am always sad when someone in the music community dies. In this case I was more upset because Joey was truly a great human being and he and his band were pioneers and opened doors for many of the bands that are around today.
Ok, I think we’re at the end of this huge interview! One final question for Jeff: What does the name Smorgasbord mean?
Jeff: A smorgasbord is traditionally a variety of foods, but in our case it's a variety of music. Thanks so much for the interview and for the opportunity to spread the word of Windfall. Please be sure to check out the web page at http://www.windfall-go.com and you can check the MAD web site to see our European tour dates at http://www.mad-tourbooking.de/