Shipwrecked at The Shore Interview Series: Almost There

bill bodkin interviews the headliner for tonight’s shipwrecked at the shore music showcase at the wonder bar in asbury park…

Almost There will be headlining Pop-Break’s Shipwrecked at the Shore Music Showcase tonight at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. The band has come a long way since we spoke to them late last year — bringing in a new drummer, completing a new full length record and opening up for the Wu Tang Clan (you didn’t misread that). Bill Bodkin spoke with the band as they gear up for tonight’s show.

Pop-Break: A few years ago you guys won the Nokia ‘Artist Discovery Contest’ sponsored by MySpace Records beating out more than 9,000 artists. Can you talk about winning the contest? Did winning this contest change you guys as band and by that I mean did you feel by winning this national contest that you could take Almost There from a local Jersey band to the next level?

Almost There: Winning the Artist Discovery Contest was definitely insane. Aside from getting flown to Los Angeles and staying at the W Hollywood, we got to record in a crazy studio with an amazing producer and engineer.

I feel like that kind of experience alone brings things to a “next level.” There was definitely a positive change in the band after the contest. It seemed like we got the ball rolling, and we had a few other things fall into place. I also think the sound of our new album has a lot to do with how the tracks we recorded in LA came out.

PB: You guys just a released a new album this winter, can you talk about
how Almost There has grown in terms of sound, from your last album?

AT: Up until March, we’ve only released short EPs ranging from 3-5 tracks. Abandon The Sinking Ship is our first full-length album, and we worked hard to make it as complete as possible. There’s heavy rock songs, a couple of ballads, and just about everything in between. There’s definitely more emotion in the vocals than on our previous recordings, and we did a much better job capturing our live energy in the music. The arrangements are tighter and more complex, and I think we’ve really started to define our own sound. I may be slightly biased.

PB: You added a new drummer to the fold, what has he brought to the table?

AT: When Mike Seahawk became our drummer we felt a complete shift in energy. He’s technical and has plenty of chops, but most impressive is his ability to keep time. He sits back on the beat more than we were used to, and it makes all of our songs groove a little better. He puts on an insane live show, and has been working on three-part vocal harmonies with us. He’s very talented and humble, so he fits right in with us!

PB: You do acoustic covers every week on your YouTube channel. What have been some of your personal favorites and why? And which have gotten you gotten the best response to?

AT: I’m not sure if I can say in full confidence what my favorite weekly cover is, but I really loved doing “Above Me” by Rufio. That was a fun one to do especially since we used to jam on that song back when we were 15 or 16 and did a terrible job trying to execute fast, technical punk songs. We do so many different styles of songs though that my favorite one is changing all the time.

We’ve done a couple of covers that have gotten retweets from the bands. Those always get a lot of hits, like our Bayside cover of “Already Gone”. We did a cover of “You’re So Last Summer” by Taking Back Sunday, sitting in front of a fire. It was super corny, and it ended up on www.speakgently.com. It was intended to make fun of us but we ended up getting a bunch of good feedback on that one, and it actually got a lot of hits because of that site. I suppose we owe them a bit of thanks.

PB: There are so many independent bands out — why should people listen to Almost There?

AT: We take pride in what we do. We are genuine and passionate about making music, and I think our songs are unique and melodic.

PB: You guys recently performed at a Wu-Tang Clan concert at The Starland Ballroom — can you talk about how you got on this bill and how was the crowd reaction to a rock band at a hip-hop concert? Also, did you guys get to hang with the Wu and if so, who was the coolest dude from that group?

AT: Well we had been jamming with our friend Bert L’z who does hip-hop, and we started working on one of his songs with live instruments for a show that we were splitting with him. Bert ended up getting the Wu Tang show, and we decided that it would be awesome to do a full live set with real instruments. Most of the songs were Bert’s, but we sang a lot of the hooks and threw in a few things of ours. We got a lot of good feedback and made some new fans from the show. Unfortunately we didn’t get to hang with any of the clan. Most of them showed up 10 minutes before their set.

PB: You guys have been a part of the Asbury Park music scene for quite some time — what’s your overall opinion of the scene as we speak and its future?

AT: There’s a lot of history in AP, and a lot of good people working hard to promote local musicians. Some of the most talented bands and musicians I’ve seen have been from AP. I’ve seen local bands and venues do really well, but with so many good bands I think sometimes it can be a little competitive. Even so, it’s probably the biggest and best music scene in NJ. The last couple years it has been bringing in some huge festivals and national acts.

PB: Finally, what can we expect from Almost There for the rest of 2012?

AT: We’ve been filling this Spring/Summer with shows pretty quickly so it’s shaping up to be a busy season. We have a couple of really good shows that we’re working towards, but they’re not confirmed yet so we can’t spill the beans on them. We’re working on putting together some short tours throughout the year too. For as long as we’ve been playing together, we’ve never really been out on the road for a long
period of time, so that’s a big priority for us especially now that we’ve got our full length out. Also, now that Mike is in the band, we’re really anxious to start working on new material and release some new recordings. I’d also recommend that you subscribe to our youtube page *hint hint* http://www.youtube.com/almostthererock Did somebody say something about another music video?

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites