Mighty Big Britches
Last month, Sean Anderson got the call he thought would never come. Ever since his Valley Stream-based ska-core outfit Simon Has No Pants made the finals of Yoo-Hoo's Warped Speed Battle of the Unsigned Bands last summer, Anderson had been anxious. In fact, the band had given up hope when, out of the blue, came a call from contest organizers informing the seven musicians they'd won.
"We thought we were getting the runaround because the winners were supposed to be announced weeks earlier," says guitarist Anderson, 19. "When I called to ask what was going on they kept telling me that there was some sort of a problem with the Yoo-Hoo website and the tallying of the online votes. As the weeks passed, I thought for sure that we had lost."
Simon Has No Pants went to lengths to earn its victory over 500 bands from across the country. The Long Islanders stuffed ballot boxes, promoted the contest at all their gigs and urged fans to hit Yoo-Hoo's website and vote for them. "Simon Has No Pants proved to be the next hot band," says Yoo-Hoo spokeswoman Kristin Krumpe. "They won with an overwhelming amount of votes."
For their efforts, the band members get to strut their pogo-inducing stuff at next year's Van's Warped Tour at Randall's Island. They'll also get $5,000 worth of studio time, a free pressing of 1,000 CDs and priceless publicity.
Finding a chance to record won't be easy. Most of the band members are away at college or, in the case of 17-year-old frontman Mike Mulieri, spending days at Valley Stream Central High School. The guys plan on hitting the studio during the Christmas break, possibly at Sabella's in Roslyn Heights. "Hopefully," Anderson says, "we'll have a 14-song full-length out by February."
Anderson says the band, which formed in 1994, will use the sessions to record new music but will also rework several of its older, more punk-oriented songs for the CD. Its winning submission, "Paper Bag," was recorded more than three years ago. "Even though they're old, those songs are still some of our best," says Anderson.
In the meantime, labels like the Chicago-based Victory Records have already shown serious interest. "They're basically a hardcore label," says Anderson. "But they're adding ska-core to their catalogue. This couldn't have happened at a better time."
Grow Your Own
In the stagnant musical landscape that is Long Island, some musicians have decided it is up to them, and only them, to stoke the "scene" so many have envisioned. Witness the first Long Island Palooza, set to take over both floors of the Swing Set in Bay Shore on Nov. 28.
The six-band event is being organized by Orion's Belt leader Elaine Genna, who aims to introduce people who might be fans of just one or two bands to a wider array of LI artists. Genna also wants the artists themselves to meet and make friends with one another, rather than concentrating solely on their own audiences. "There is a lot of talent out here," she says. "But I do think the reason that the LI scene is still relatively unknown is our fault, the musicians, just for the simple fact that we should support each other, but we don't."
In addition to the volatile Blondie-meets-Morrison-and-the-Cure sound of Orion's Belt, LI Palooza will feature the dark and foreboding new-wave stylings of the basals, the psychobilly of the Fritz O'Hara Band, the 10,000 Maniacs-cum-Sundays blend of Gone Again, the rough-edged rock of Stage and the power-pop of Iridesense.
Like many other local musicians, Genna says she has grown disenchanted with a scene that has too many greedy fishes dipping their fins into the pockets of bands. "By doing this, I'm also trying to cut out the middleman," she says. "Behind every corner there are eight thieves. I don't really trust anybody any more."
Finlandia Vodka and Miller Lite have already signed on as sponsors for the event, which will feature band booths, body artists, tarot card readers, caricature drawings and raffles and giveaways.
"There's power in numbers," says Genna. "If we all join forces, chances are if one gets noticed the others have a greater chance to as well."
Long Island Palooza $8.
3 pm Sun Nov 28 at the Swing Set, 60 Main St, Bay Shore, 516-666-2138.
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