Monday, June 17, 2013

Pheaturing Melissa Marchese From Weekend Riot Club

Hello, welcome to the Phile, how are you? I am okay, but have a slight headache and feeling a little grumpy. Which is unusual, as I am normally feeling a lot grumpy. Maybe I should exercise. My exercise routine usually consists of doing diddly squats.  This is the third entry in three days, and I cannot believe I forgot to mention this... Quarterback Tim Tebow has signed with the New England Patriots. So the good news is that Tebow got a job. The bad news: Now he’s associated with the word “patriot,” and he’s being audited by the IRS. Nobody knew about this. It was a top-secret deal. The only people who knew were Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Tim Tebow, and of course, the NSA. They were listening in. So it looks like Tebow will be playing in New England. Let me rephrase that. It looks like Tim Tebow will BE in New England. The Patriots were able to lure him with a brand-new state-of-the-art bench.   The guy who blew the whistle on the NSA scandal is a former security worker named Edward Snowden. He is a high school dropout. He was making $122,000 a year. He lived in Hawaii. He was engaged to a beautiful former ballerina. And he gave it all up. So not only is he a whistleblower. He's also a moron. Just kidding, I think what he did was cool... I wouldn't have done it if I was him, but that's just me. Do you mind that the NSA is opening your mail and listening to your phone calls? I don't care. It's like the lady that tells you the directions in your car. At first I thought it was annoying, and then I realized it's just like being married.  President Obama said he welcomes a national debate over our surveillance policies. He said that's a debate we wouldn't have had five years ago. Five years ago? It's a debate we wouldn't have had two weeks ago if they all hadn't gotten caught.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on Twitter. A politician on Twitter... what could possibly go wrong?  In March, Forbes magazine put out their annual list of the world's richest people, and one of the people was a Saudi Arabian prince, and he is furious about it. Forbes estimated his net worth at around $20 billion, and he claims he is worth $30 billion, so now he is suing Forbes. I love the premise: Say I'm more rich or I'll sue you.  I didn't know the NSA had a logo, but I guess they do. Have you guys seen it?

I guess it's sponsored by Verizon. I was thinking, they didn't hear my calls, I have AT&T.  Speaking of Verizon, they have a new ad...

That's the worst photoshop picture I have seen in a long time. That's awful! And what's with the dog in the corner?  I have mentioned the last two days that Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, is releasing some of their classic animated films with the origin al titles. Why? I haven't the foggiest. So far I showed you Beauty and the Beast was supposed to be called Stockholm Syndrome, which I don't get and The Lion King was supposed to be called Hamlet With Animals, which I totally get. Here's today's...

LOL. That one I definitely understand. It's funny.  So, yesterday my son and I went to see Man of Steel.
I was surprised they were selling Superman inspirational posters at the movie theater. I was even more surprised at what it said.

Anyway, I'll review the movie in a minute, but I was crazy at who they chose to play Superman.

I mean, look at that sour look on his face.  A few weeks ago it was Bad Wolf Day... if you don't know what Bad Wolf means, then you are not a "Doctor Who" fan, and shouldn't be reading this blog. Just kidding. I need all the readers I can get. I asked you to write Bad Wolf down on a piece of paper and Twitter it, or send it in and some of you did that, and took it to the next level. So, here's another Bad Wolf picture.

That was great, and as they couldn't find an 'O', look what they did. Very cool. Some of you got it. Others, I'm not so sure. Look what else someone sent me...

Nice try. Oh, yeah!

Born amazing, his Kryptonian genetics a crushing rebuke to all Earthling bench press efforts, the mighty Kal-El (ain't calling him Superman just yet; the movie barely wants to do that itself) isn't cut from the same cloth as the tortured Dark Knight. In fact, most representations we've seen of this mega-person from comic books to TV shows to films have presented him as fairly delighted in his own prepubescent abilities to lift cars and boulders and stuff. He changes clothes in clear glass phone booths. He's not exactly shy. He's bright primary blue and yellow and red. He's the best and proudest and strongest and most morally correct guy this side of a deity. Until now, of course. It's 2013 and he's kind of neurotic.  Dark times call for lone lions who come out of nowhere with the power to fix what no army, corporation, government or religious body can. The closest we get to a group effort on behalf of goodness these days is the bickering, dysfunctional family of the Avengers, and they aren't exactly reaching out beyond their ranks to encourage you to personally lend them a hand. More to the point of this reboot, dark economics at the box office demand lone superhero movies to singlehandedly save a studio's summer release schedule. So just a few short years after the wildly anticipated (and now considered a misfire) Superman Returns, Superman has returned. But please, call him Kal.  Henry Cavill stars as the gun shy adult Kal, a man raised by the Kents (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane) in Smallville and repeatedly told by them to remain small. The world's not ready for you or your ability to turn railroad tracks into bendy straws just yet, they tell him. Even when young teen Kal (Dylan Sprayberry) springs into action to thwart a devastating local accident, Costner's more worried about the boy's difference being exposed than about the deaths of other Smallvillians. In other words, the adoptive Earth parents have drilled some good old-fashioned fear and shame into their superkid's head. He's got some coming out to do.  Enter Lois Lane (Amy Adams) to uncover Kal's secret identity, surviving Kryptonian General Zod (Michael Shannon, yelling just the way he should) to start a cruel, murderous fight and the U.S. government to run around flailing. And once Zod's evil plan gears up you've got the makings of a post-9/11 showdown with the fate of the entire planet in the balance, one depicted so aggressively and violently as to rival all the other tentpole movies that also employ/exploit 9/11 imagery to jolt our deepest fears (been paying attention to that? They pile up quickly). The battles are tough and visceral, the effects, sound and editing are pummeling. And throughout, Cavill is stoic but not a blank slab of concrete, conflicted but not crazy and, thanks to the threat all around him, steadfastly refusing to toss out any Iron Man-esque one-liners. It's a balance that's tough to pull off and he's the right man for the job. Meanwhile, thanks to director Zack Snyder and, probably more importantly, producer Christopher Nolan, this is Superman at his darkest and definitely most furious. Even his cape is blood red.  It would be an act of movie fan dishonor to hint at the outcome, but it's in the final act that this most recent chapter in the evolution of The Last Son of Krypton turns a corner into some truly new territory. It lays down a blueprint for future films and a lot more future wars, whether fought with the collective Justice League or alone, the way this brooding hero would probably prefer. But matter how he does it, this is the right Superman at the right time, the return that feels most welcome. From 1 to 10, I give Man of Steel a 7.

I had quite a few emails asking about a phriend who has been on the Phile a few times but not recently. Well, she's here on the Phile today, kids. Please welcome back to the Phile, the one individual who shoots from the hip, heart, camera, gun, sling-shot, tank...

Kicking back on the doorstep drinking slushies enjoying the sun with dad, and dad breaks out into an epic air drumming solo, and makes every sound hahaha of Sabbaths "Supernaut", just because he woke up with it in his head and needed "to bust it out." HAHA! I've always been STOKED I have a dad who has epic taste in music. Then dad spent the next few minutes laughing that Bill Ward can't keep up with drumming in Sabbath now, only my dad could make me laugh about that fact, but anyone else make a joke about it and I'll punch you the fuck out.

I'm not saying a word about it. Debbie Boldacious, everyone. Alright, now for the 27th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. It's a book I wouldn't normally read or have anything to do with, and something very different amongst all the other books I pheatured here. Here we go, and don't laugh. They approached me.

There's underwear in the title, so I was hooked. Alexis Asbe will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's pheatured guest is the hot singer for the Canadian rock band Weeekend Riot Club whose debut album "Psychotropia" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Melissa Marchese.

Me: Hello, Melissa, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Melissa: Hey man... if I were any better I'd be twins!

Me: I have to admit, you are the hottest lead singer I interviewed for a band in a long time. Anyway, you are in the band with two guys. Who are those guys, Melissa?

Melissa: Thanks. Hotness is as hotness does. The dudes names are Paul Fontes (drums) and Mike Chetcuti (guitars). They're pretty hot too.

Me: No, they're not. LOL. Who came up with the name Weekend Riot Club. It's very cool sounding, Melissa, and sounds like it could be the name of a band from the 90s.

Melissa: Yah, we're all three of us pretty heavily influenced by 90s music. We came up with it one afternoon over coffee I think, definitely a team effort. We were hoping for a name that could describe the energy of our live show while makin' sure people know that this is not just about us, but everyone. 

Me: You're from Canada, right? What part?

Melissa: We all hail from the legendary rock n roll town that is Hamilton, Ontario. Halfway between where I grew up, Niagara Falls, and Toronto. Lots of great shit going on in this town... music... art... comedy.. there's a kind of renaissance happening in our city right now. It's really exciting.

Me: I ask every Canadian I interview if they are fans of one of my favorite bands... Barenaked Ladies. Are you?

Melissa: Hah yes! Funny I was in a huge BNL stage right when we started Weekend Riot Club. We got to check them out in Buffalo, New York a few years ago. I totally made a fake backstage pass out of a pack of gum and stapled it to my shirt. Surprisingly it actually got me pretty far... not far enough though! Later we met Steven Page when he played solo at a winery in Niagara. Back then I remember being super awkwardly starstruck. I could barely put together a sentence...

Me: Cool. I got to interview Kevin Hearn here on the Phile. What bands are you influenced by or listened to growing up?

Melissa: Man oh man... so many! Growing up I listened to everything from Shania Twain, to Alanis, to Roy Orbison (my daddy's fav). I've always been a huge Joss Stone fan too... When we started Weekend Riot Club I really started getting into 90s grunge. When we're chillin' with the band you can usually find us listening to Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Incubus and the like...

Me: It seems that recently every Canadian musician I interviewed knows Adam Bentley, who was on the Phile a few times, and his band The Rest. Do you know him as well, Melissa?

Melissa: Yes! Adam is a gem in our Hamilton music community and a wealth of knowledge! He's been a huge help and mentor to us. Have you seen their new vid?? Awesome!

Me: Okay, let's talk about the formation of the band... you were introduced to Mike by a mutual friend, and you both started to write music together, am I right?

Melissa: Yah, pretty much. A friend of his and I started jammin' together and then the three of us got together with Mike. I actually wasn't part of the writing process then. Mike sneakily wrote secret love songs to me that I ended up singing and at the time, had no idea they were directed at me! Pretty barfy-romantic I know!

Me: Did this mutual friend know you could sing and was thinking you two could work together musically, or were you set up to date Mike?

Melissa: Nah, the mutual friend and I were jamming a song that Mike had written for their previous band, so we all got together in hopes that I could do some sweet vocals on it. He definitely was not setting us up... he was pretty pissed when we got together actually.

Me: You two did both, date and work musically together, right? What came first?

Melissa: The music for sure was first. It always is, even now, almost 5 years later. It's pretty weird actually... But I wouldn't have it any other way. It's kinda like we do most of our relationship communication through the music.

Me: I have to give Mike credit, he has some balls. He wrote love notes to you, made them into songs, and had you sing them. Fucking clever. Did you think it was clever?

Melissa: Yah! What a smooth fox! I was pretty taken aback at the time, I really had no idea. He didn't really let on in any other way (that I could pick up on anyway).

Me: How did you find out what he was doing, Melissa?

Melissa: He told me over the phone in a super cryptic way... When he kissed me though, I put two and two together... LOL.

Me: And when you did find out, how did you react?

Melissa: Warmly :)

Me: So, where did Paul come in on this? Did he feel like an outsider?

Melissa: Nah. Paulo Fontes never feels like an outsider. One night we were at an after party for the Hamilton Music Awards, and were chatting with this guys named Joe. We were explaining how we really needed a sweet drummer. He mentioned he had a friend but would only introduce us if we were serious and had our shit together! We did, so he did... and Paul joined up in January 2011. He is the heartbeat we were dreaming of.

Me: Q: I love your single "Things Are Looking Up". Did Mike write that song, Melissa?

Melissa: Yes, Mike wrote it all on his own.

Me: I should ask him what he was thinking when he wrote that song. What was looking up, if you know what I mean?

Melissa: Oh man... so much... It was like there was this feeling of hope that surrounded us, almost everywhere we turned. I'm sure it had a lot to do with us discovering the Hamilton arts scene at the time.. He grew up here and it was really only known as an old steel town years prior. Lots of people still see Hamilton as this dirty dark place, but the people who are workin hard in this city know that we are in the middle of that renaissance that I was talking about. It also has a lot to do with the world we live in now... there's so much bad shit that gets so much attention in traditional media, but with the internet boomin' it's very clear you can find like minded people and a general sense of goodness is more and more evident among people every day. You can't squash the love...

Me: You guys look like a hard rocking band, but in an early publicity photo you had a different look. I have to show it here.

Me: It looks like you all wore heavy make up and your hair was more fluffed up. Did you decide to go to the more natural look to match your music better? Good idea, Melissa. You all look so serious in your photo's though.

Melissa: Yah, that photo you're referring to is the first photo shoot we ever did. I was a Catholic school teacher in that picture! I didn't know which way was up, my life was changing so fast so I guess I was still trying to figure out who I was. Now I guess I just give less of a shit about what I look like... the music is the only thing I try to worry about now.

Me: You just released your debut album "Psychotropia". I have no idea what that word means, what does it mean?

Melissa: Our producer/engineer has a studio called Psychotropic Studios and while we were recording the album there was always one of his Mix magazines on the back of the potty with his name and the name of his studio printed on the address label. The word 'psychotropia' just came about and gave us all the feeling we were looking for to describe the album. Think psychotropic drugs... think utopia... think about what's goin' on in the world today.

Me: What can you tell us about the album, Melissa? Who produced it?

Melissa: We're really proud of the album and how it turned out. Nick Blagona produced and engineered the album. This man is a legend and I am still scratching my head about how we ended up getting to work with him. He's worked all over the world with bands like Deep Purple, The Police, Bee Gees, Alexisonfire and tons more... He is a treasure and he happens to call Ontario his home! When we went into the studio, we were originally just going to record a few songs. It wasn't until Nick heard us quickly jam some other tunes we had that he insisted on us recording them all. We ended up with 12 tracks, 11 plugged in and a nice little lullaby at the end. Nick really led us through the process... and the approach was how he'd made records back in the day... a few quick takes then move on to grab the emotion in the room.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions. You ready? What are the redeeming qualities of the person you most dislike? Man, that's a hard question, isn't it?

Melissa: I'd like to quote my good friend and guru, Hamilton stand-up comic, Zak McDonald, and say, "I love everyone."

Me: Good answer. Melissa, thanks for being on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your website and please come back again soon. Take care.

Melissa: Dude, thanks so much. The guys and I really appreciate it. You can connect with us at, @WeekendRiotClub on Twitter and Instagram, and

Me: Thanks, Melissa. "Psychotropia" is available now. Get it.

Well, that about does it for this entry. Thanks to Debbie Boldacious and Melissa Marchese. The Phile will be back next Saturday where we kick of Summer with Neil Sheasby, the bass player for the British band Stone Foundation. Then on Sunday it's the guys from the band Ten Foot Polecats and a week from today is Phile Alum Alum Joy Ike. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let alligators and snakes bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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