Experiment 34 releases Charismanic 2.0 in Time for U.S. Tour

Written By Laura Curry

Experiment 34 at their Jan. 14 EP release party at Asbury Park Yacht Club. Pictured from left to right are bassist Johnny Zabe, guitarist Kevin Nenichka, vocalist-lyricist Matthew Makin and drummer Jack LaMonica. PHOTO BY ANTHONY VITO CONSENTINO

Experiment 34 releases Charismanic 2.0 in Time for U.S. Tour

New Brunswick’s own “psycho funk” band, Experiment 34, is riling up listeners with the recently released EP, Charismanic 2.0. It’s the amped up version of their debut EP, Charismanic, with three new hard-hitting tracks including “Mud,” “Willie Mays” and “Joey Crumb.” This EP adds more genres to the mix to create a tantalizing concoction of hard rock, hip-hop, rap, and funk sounds with psychedelic vibes that make an impact.

Charismanic 2.0 is out just in time for their first ever tour, which kicked off on Feb. 19 at Jamian’s in Red Bank for WRAT’s Alison Swift Birthday Bash benefit concert. Feb. 25’s Millennium Music Conference and Showcase performance at River City Blues in Harrisburg, PA marked their second stop on tour.

Experiment 34 heads back over to New Jersey on March 2 for WRAT’s Jersey Rock Showcase at The River Rock in Brick Township, and then they will boogie down South to Tennessee and Texas for the bulk of their tour dates. Highlights for the southern leg of the tour include playing a showcase on March 14 at Springwater Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee for SXSW Week, and performing on March 17 at Red Gorilla Music Fest in Austin, Texas. By March 24, Experiment 34 will be back in Jersey at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park for the Capacitor Records Showcase.

Cover of Experiment 34’s “Charismanic 2.0” EP. DESIGN BY JOHN SZABO

As for their new release, the cover art of Charismanic 2.0 is mayhem. You see various metal mixing tools, industrial plants in the background, fire, bizarre melting faces and a pit of struggling humans. Additionally, the horse drawn buggy makes you wonder if this is a dramatic take on the Industrial Revolution. It looks like the chaos of an experiment gone wrong and suggests that we’ve gone too far with blending together science and humanity. Some things are meant to stay separate. The drama of this scene ties in with the songs, since they explore the idea of madness vs. innocence. As far as the sound goes, some tracks make you want to jump around and dance, while others rile you up for a fight.

The original trio of songs, “Check Up,” “3 Days in the Chamber” and “144 Evergreen Place” explore the idea of control: whether it’s losing control of your mind, struggling to wake up from a nightmare or trying to maintain dominance over another person. While these struggles are occurring, your innocence and sanity are called into question.

Check Up” hits you with a psychedelic groove and funky rhythm that prepare you for Makin “spitting tracks” about being a “burning man.” The song builds up to a machine-gun style rap hook at the end, which parallels to a bad trip and mild psychosis.

“3 Days in a Chamber” is about having vivid nightmares that you can’t escape. The track has a harder southern rock sound and Makin switches between singing and rapping to fit with the energy of the lyrics. As the nightmares become more frightening, Makin spits verses describing the chaotic scenes. When confusion takes hold, Makin sings the verses I am not here/I’m over there/I think I’m lost around the bend. We hear screaming and manic laughter in the background and fear this person may never wake up.

“144 Evergreen Place” continues the hard rock vibes and intensity of the previous tracks as it describes a domestic disturbance. While it has a basic pop progression, elements such as Nenichka’s main guitar riff and his solo in the middle of the song convey the aggressive nature of the track. Listeners are gripped by the rage at the end of the song and hear the lyrics: pick up that ring now/put it back on. This signifies the escalation of violence, causing the neighbor to call 911.

Scenes from Experiment 34’s Jan. 14 EP release party at Asbury Park Yacht Club. PHOTO BY ANTHONY VITO CONSENTINO

The three “new” tracks have been in the works for a while. During a post-show interview with Pop-Break last May, Experiment 34 was psyched to head back into the studio to record these songs. The original plan was to record a 9-track LP before they headed off to SXSW in March. Although it didn’t happen according to plan, these songs pack a punch. They didn’t need 9 songs to convey their personality and sound to listeners—they covered all the bases in just 6.

“Mud” is a syncopated rock tune that prepares listeners for the intense emotions that they will experience throughout the EP. It’s all about the fear of getting stuck, which is relatable to everyone. Nenichka comes in with an extended guitar solo, which sets up the main conflict of the song: she’s armed with a knife in the kitchen. Perhaps getting stuck in the mud refers to anxiety, depression and unhealthy relationships.

“Willie Mays” is multi-faceted with flirtatious lyrics, funky bass lines, screaming guitar riffs, and Makin alternating between spitting verses and singing. This provocative track keeps you bobbing your head as you contemplate the lyrics that seem to be about making questionable decisions, but rolling with them without regret.

The third new track, “Joey Crumb,” is by far the angriest song on the EP. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to hear some heavy metal elements, from the menacing guitar riff and bass lines to the hardcore delivery of the furious lyrics. As far as the subject matter of the track, it’s about a scummy show promoter who enjoys scamming bands and taking their money. The song offers an important lesson for local bands—don’t ever pay to play, because you’ll get ripped off. This is definitely the song to listen to when you need to blow off some steam.

Charismanic 2.0 allows listeners to experience an array of intense emotions and sounds that result in a sensory overload that is hard to forget. Whether it’s a bass line, guitar riff or chorus, various parts of each song stick in your mind long after you’ve finished listening to them. The themes of madness, innocence and control are all thoroughly explored and leave you with much to think about.

Fans can catch Experiment 34 performing these songs at any of their shows on tour. Be prepared for some theatrical elements that will keep you on your toes!

Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.