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January 30, 2008 > Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands

Broken Winter; French Cassettes; Suspicious Package

By Mattie Carvalho

For forty-five years, the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) has hosted a contest, The Battle of the Bands, for a selective group of musicians. Out of more than 30 competitors who go through a rigorous audition process, only 12 bands are chosen by a panel of judges to participate in this year's event. The style of music that will be showcased ranges from Indie, Rock, and Alternative to Punk, Funk, and Reggae.

This year's event will take place on Saturday, February 9. Performances will include the 12 finalists and a special performance by Peaceable Jones. The event will be held inside the Chabot College Performing Arts Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. Pre-sale tickets are $8. Admission will be $10 at the door.

Leading up to the event TCV will focus on some of the participating bands.


Focus On:
Broken Winter

Broken Winter is a five-person band from Fremont. The band members are: Carlo Rafael- bass; Jonathan Tolentino- vocals, keyboard, & guitar; Josh Hoyt- drums and vocals; Adam Lamanna- guitar; and Ryan Hoyt- guitar. Their musical style is rock and alternative. Musical influences include Muse, Thrice, Hillsong United, Armor for Sleep, and Butch Walker


TCV: How long has your band been together?
Broken Winter: Going on 3 years now.

TCV: How was your band formed?
Broken Winter: Carlo and Jonathan used to be in a band together that had dissolved. They met Ryan and Adam at Ohlone College and discovered they were guitarists. Then they were introduced to Ryan's brother Josh, who agreed to help us out with drums, and we were on our way from there.

TCV: Where is your band's name derived from?
Broken Winter: We took our name from a lyric by the band named Armor for Sleep.

TCV: How would you describe your music?
Broken Winter: We play rock music. It's really hard to "genre-ize" ourselves. We're one of those bands that are "too hard" to play with "poppier" bands and "not hardcore enough" to play with harder sounding bands.

TCV: Where, if anywhere, have you performed?
Broken Winter: We've performed mostly around Northern California, including: Hayward, Fremont, San Jose, Campbell, Santa Cruz, Roseville, and San Francisco, etc.

TCV: Have you recorded any demos?
Broken Winter: We've actually recorded a full length CD entitled "Face Forward," an EP called "Before You Hit the Ground," and a demo in 2007.

TCV: Do you compose/write original songs?
Broken Winter: Yes. We actually have trouble covering songs, so we only do our own.

TCV: What are your songs about?
Broken Winter: Originally our songs used to be about problems with girls, like many bands...but over the past years our lyrics have gone to a more spiritual route, with more positivism.

TCV: Describe your show, visually/musically.
Broken Winter: Our show is always full of energy, whether there are a lot of people watching or not. Also, you're not going to get a set of music where all the songs sound the same, that's for sure.

To listen to Broken Winter, visit http://www.myspace.com/brokenwinter


Focus On:
French Cassettes

French Cassettes is a four-person band from Ripon, California. The band members are: Scott Huerta- lead vocals and guitar; Mac Bunch- guitar, keys, and backup vocals; Dan "the man" Carrico- bass and backup vocals; and Ben I.- drums, accordion, and tambourine. Their musical style is French pop, indie, and garage. Musical influences include The Mars Volta, Radiohead, Incubus, and The Lite Brites.

TCV: Have you participated or auditioned in the past?
French Cassettes: This will be the 4th year that Ben has participated.

TCV: How long has your band been together?
French Cassettes: In current form, the French Cassettes has been playing for 5 months. But Ben, Scott, and Mac have worked together for the past two years, with help here and there.

TCV: How was your band formed?
French Cassettes: We all went to high school together, and from there it eventually clicked.

TCV: Where is your band's name derived from?
French Cassettes: Cassette sounds French...

TCV: Where, if anywhere, have you performed?
French Cassettes: We have played many small venues, mostly coffee houses, and at our high school during lunch.

TCV: Have you recorded any demos?
French Cassettes: Our songs have been recorded one at a time, usually several months apart. We are about to record a new demo in a few weeks.

TCV: Do you compose/write original songs?
French Cassettes: Most definitely.

TCV: What are your songs about?
French Cassettes: The idea of God and religion in a neutral approach and human nature in its oddities.

TCV: How do you promote your band and shows?
French Cassettes: MySpace has been a lot of help. We also tell all of our friends when we are playing and they will go, and usually bring all their friends.

TCV: Describe your show, visually/musically.
French Cassettes: Our shows are built on energy, dancing, and improv.

TCV: How does music affect you and the world around you?
French Cassettes: It's the soundtrack to life....but we're pretty sure that's already a quote, so we'll just say it makes everything rock.

TCV: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
French Cassettes: Usually...it's finding something all members can agree on.

TCV: What's your band's "claim to fame"?
French Cassettes: We dance like puppets on stage. Also, Dan's hair.

To listen to French Cassettes, visit http://www.myspace.com/frenchcassettes


Focus On:
Suspicious Package

Suspicious Package is a four-person band from Castro Valley. The band members are: Andrew Balmat-vocals and guitar; Greg Jeter- vocals and guitar; Rick Kislingbury- drums; and Carlos Nevarez- bass. Their musical style is rock, funk, and alternative. Musical influences include The White Stripes, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Parliament Funkadelic, and Talking Heads.

TCV: How long has your band been together?
Suspicious Package: We've been playing together almost three years.

TCV: How was your band formed?
Suspicious Package: The band formed casually, just some friends and friends of friends playing together as something to do on a Wednesday. We got the opportunity to play a three hour gig at a (nudist!) party and took it--totally unprepared. We didn't know half of the songs. Fortunately we survived the dive into the deep end, and kept on swimming.

Playing for a nude crowd made it easier to picture them in their underwear. We might have been more nervous otherwise, considering the length of the show and how new the band was.

TCV: Where is your band's name derived from?
Suspicious Package: It's a double entendre. A comment on the "High Alert" status we all live in nowadays, and possibly a slightly naughty joke!

TCV: How would you describe your music?
Suspicious Package is just that, an odd packaging of many styles of music. Basically we do rock & roll, but we blend everything from funk to punk to surf to rockabilly.

TCV: Where, if anywhere, have you performed?
Suspicious Package: We've performed at many parties, The Castro Valley Street Fair, and local bars/clubs, like Paganos in San Leandro and The Bistro in Hayward.

TCV: Have you recorded any demos?
Suspicious Package: We have some live demos. They're featured on our website www.funkmusic.org. We are looking to go into a studio to get some higher quality recordings.

TCV: Do you compose/write original songs?
Suspicious Package: We started out as a cover band, but now we're leaning towards doing more originals. About an hour out of a three hour performance is original music.

TCV: What are your songs about?
Suspicious Package: They're just therapy, whatever comes into our heads, a comment on the world, or possibly a dream. Songs are just a glimpse into an artist's brain.

TCV: Where do you get your musical inspiration from?
Suspicious Package: Either internally, or externally. Often things that bother us are the best inspiration, unfortunately. We're also inspired by greatness, musical or otherwise. Even great athletes can inspire us musically.

TCV: Who are your musical influences?
Suspicious Package: We like pretty much everything, from the Beatles to Prince to Brian Setzer to Led Zeppelin.

TCV: Describe your show, visually/musically.
Suspicious Package: We try to create a musical flow that will work with the audience. The crowd tends to be a little shy at the beginning, so we present a rock thing at first for simple head bobbing. Later, when they are well "lubricated," we present more danceable material. We're not dancers, but we try to move enough to encourage the same from the crowd.

TCV: How does music affect you and the world around you?
Suspicious Package: We're always thinking about music. Andrew even chews his food in rhythm.

TCV: What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
Suspicious Package: Different visions and "artistic" temperaments mean that most bands can't compromise enough to make it work. Not only do most bands not get famous, most of them never get to their first gig before imploding.


To listen to Suspicious Package, visit http://www.myspace.com/suspishuspackage or www.funkmusic.org.

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