“From the Vault”: Ready the Cannons explodes with originality

    Combining influences of nintendo music, show tunes and heavy metal, Ready the Cannons burst into St. Louis’ music scene.

     Charley Svoboda, Dustin Kelly, Brian Jenkins and Jason Hackett formed the group in 2006. According to Kelly, Ready the Cannons’ namesake developed when Jenkins and he were creating a practice space.

     “Me and Brian were cleaning up all this old garbage that my dad had in this garage, and there was this huge wheel looking thing, like a spindle that rope goes on, and he was just like, ‘Ready the cannons,’ or something real silly,” Kelly said. “And we laughed about it for a long time. And nobody could agree on the band name, so it was an inside joke kind of thing.”

     This wrecking crew of individuals has a wide variety of influences that round out their inspiration and identity as a band.

     “We rock pretty hard,” Kelly said.

     “Like other bands, we combine all of our different influences, but unlike most bands, our influences are really, really different. Like nintendo music. Show tunes, that’d be Brian. Classical music. Jazz. Guns n’ Roses. Pantera…it’s like my iPod on shuffle. Anything from Bach to Pantera. I guess that’s what we’re like. If you give Bach a guitar,” Hackett added.

     “We’re all very stubborn in what we listen to, and none of us listen to the same thing, ever. And I think that’s why our songs sound interesting,” Svoboda concluded.

     After jamming together off and on throughout high school, the group came to its current form when Kelly returned from the Navy. Around the same time, the House of Rock had an open mic night. Ready the Cannons learned a few cover songs to play at the open mic night then began to work on original pieces.

     Perhaps, in part, because of the out of the ordinary stimulation for their songs, Ready the Cannons also have a different outlook on song writing. According to Hackett, the music is “purely selfish.”

     “We write music that we want to hear. The perfect combinations. So, it’s kind of selfish; it’s just for us. And if other people like it, that’s awesome,” Hackett said.

     As the lead vocalist, Jenkins writes all of the lyrics, though everyone contributes to the musical aspect of songwriting.

     “[The song lyrics are] usually just based on a collection of emotions that I have. I’m not a story teller by any means, I usually just write pretty vague lines about the way I feel; then I try to make them more specific to a certain situation,” Jenkins said.

     According to Kelly, an example of one of those situations relates to himself.

     “I don’t think he’s a very emotional guy. His lyrics may not make sense to me or anyone else in the band because he doesn’t talk about it. But I know they’re really deep in his mind…I think he even told me that one of the songs is written about me when he was mad at me. He won’t ever tell me what it is, I asked him,” Kelly said.

     Regardless of the motivation behind the lyrics, or the music, the versatility in their arsenal of musical knowledge allows Ready the Cannons to appeal to all types of music lovers.

     “I’ve talked to a lot of people. Some people that really love death metal, and metal people, I’d almost be afraid to show our music because it’s not that heavy, but there [are] a lot of people like that that listen to it, [who] actually, really like it. Then other people who really like poppy stuff like it too. So I guess we kind of snatch everbody,” Hackett said.

     “That was kind of the plan from the beginning, we just wanted everybody to like it,” Svoboda added.

     One word to describe Ready the Cannons was, unanimously, ‘fun.’ They started playing for fun. Play for fun. And will continue to play for fun. Record deal or not.

     “We roll as a group. This is for fun; this is because we’re friends. We’re gonna do it as long as we possibly can even if we don’t get signed. That was really never the goal, and now it’s starting to creep up through the cracks,” Jenkins said.

“From the Vault”: Last Nights Vice grips local music scene

     Last Nights Vice Lead Vocalist Brandon House described the band’s music to George Clooney as “a mix between Motley Crue and Frank Sinatra meets Daft Punk.” Clooney responded, “So, you’re telling me that you wear tight leather and croon like Frank Sinatra, and you have a drinking problem?”

     House, Chris Blake (Bass Guitar), Andrew Ghiassi (Drums), Joe Fitzsimmons (Lead Guitar) and Jordan Phoenix (Guitar) formed Last Nights Vice three years ago when Ghiassi and Blake’s former band, Blame Gary, lost two of its singers, and House served as their replacement. As the new group came together, the name for their band came up in a brainstorming session.

     “I heard ‘Last Night’s Fight’ in my head for some reason, and I kept seeing the color purple,” Blake said.

     “Violet,” Ghiassi corrected him.

     “[I thought…] violet sounds like vice, and I was like, “What is a vice, guys?” and they told me, and I said, ‘Last Nights Vice.’”

     According to House, their namesake also derives from the type of music they play.

     “We wanted to be a party band…we basically figured, if we’re going to be playing for crowds that are going to be…smoking, drinking, partying [and] having fun, we want to be the soundtrack to that.”

     Each of LNV’s members helps to personify the distinctive atmosphere they create.

     “We’re all like cartoon characters. You could definitely make a comic book out of us.”

     Since its formation, LNV has played in local venues such as The Pageant, Pops, Ciceros, and Old Rock House, which the band considers their home base. At least four of their shows have contributed to charities. One function, the Washington University Carnival, had House and Phoenix judge and announce a Guitar Hero contest.

     Contrary to a typical scenario where a singer/song writer brings a song to a band, LNV works collectively to put lyrics to a melody.

     “It starts with a small idea, and we keep playing it over and over…until new parts evolve from that idea, and then we make a song out of it,” Ghiassi said.

     “It’s like a big jam thing,” Blake added.

     “I just make jibberish up. Really, I literally sing about nothing. You’ll hear me talking about how a baby needs to go get gas before Sunday because the malls are closed…just to get the vocal melody down. Then I go into the studio and write the lyrics,” House said.

     Because the group does not gear its music to one specific type of fan, its audience stretches across a wide range of individuals. From outcast teenagers to elderly women, they have seen it all.

     “I work at Ted Drewe’s, I was scooping ice cream that night; the energy was vibrant. I looked out the window. What do I see staring in at me? A Last Nights Vice t-shirt. A 50-year-old lady. Anyway, I just kept scooping, and I smiled. It was really funny,” Ghiassi said.

     LNV’s music also reaches the entire St. Louis area through 105.7 The Point’s Local Show. “The Power Cosmic” and “All I” rotate on a bi-weekly basis on the show.

     One facet of their musical idiosyncrasies is that their sound cannot be classified in one specific genre. Pop/Rock and alternative are two potential descriptions, but LNV would rather have the debate continue than lock their music into one distinction.

     “My main goal is to take that CD and when it gets into the hands of the people that work at the music store, they don’t know where to put it. They’re looking at all those aisles and going, ‘Shit. Where do I put this CD?’” House said.

     Whether or not LNV really wears leather or croons like Frank Sinatra as Clooney proposed, one thing is for sure—they will kickstart your heart and bring out your wild side as fans are smokin’ in the boys room.

Last Nights Vice rocks Spirit Fest

By Kari Williams

Carnival rides operated, and children walked around with giant stuffed bananas that they won from various games at Lindbergh High School’s Spirit Fest. But more importantly, Last Nights Vice brought a hell of a lot more than spirit to the event.

Brandon House, Chris Blake, Andrew Ghiassi, Jordan Phoenix and Joe Fitzsimmons set the stage on fire with their live performance. Anyone who’s heard their music knows it’s lyrically and melodically remarkable, but the recordings themselves do not do Last Nights Vice justice.

Seeing them live cements the potential for their success to grow. They give 110 percent every time they play, regardless of the crowd size. It’s as if they come alive with the music.

The show started off with a couple newer songs from their upcoming CD—which is set to release later this summer—then switched to a few older songs such as “Lock and Key” and “Under Control.” For one of the songs from their “The Power Cosmic” EP, House did an intro in honor of Back to the Future, setting the scene where Marty McFly plays “an oldie where he comes from,” and went into classic LNV.

Throughout the set, all four LNV guys tried to incorporate the carnival itself in the show by talking and waving to the people on the rides and inviting them over to the stage. At one point, House called a group of children to stand in front of the stage. But the children had a different idea—a couple of them misunderstood House and ran onto the stage.

House ended the half hour show with their ‘ballad’ song “All I” to top off an electric set which is only the beginning of their sure to be amazing career.