Friday, July 22, 2016

Building issues lead to an earlier-than-expected closing for Altar Bar

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Cello Fury performs at Altar Bar as part of the 2016 Strip District Music Festival - PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photograph by Aaron Warnick
  • Cello Fury performs at Altar Bar as part of the 2016 Strip District Music Festival

Back in June, we reported that Drusky Entertainment's long-tenure at Altar Bar would be ending, as the concert promotion company's lease was running out, and the building was being sold.

Yesterday, it was announced that, because of unspecified building issues and safety concerns that came up during the building's sale, the desanctified church's life as a music venue was cut even shorter than expected, and has been closed as of July 15. Drusky had originally planned a series of farewell concerts which have all been moved to new venues or canceled. The schedule changes are below:

July 15: Los Lonely Boys (CANCELED)
July 16: Dark Side Of The Moon (CANCELED)
July 18: Intronaut (Moved to Cattivo)
July 22: Amy Winehouse Tribute (CANCELED)
July 23: Descendsion, Silk9, Shroudned In Neglect, Dimlite & Fiveunder (CANCELED)
July 24: PVRIS (Moved to Rex Theater)
July 25: August Burns Red (Moved to Rex Theater)
July 26: August Burns Red (Moved to Rex Theater)
July 27: Jon Bellion (TBA)
July 28: Daily Grind (Moved to Cattivo)
July 28: Emo Night Live Band Karaoke (CANCELED)
July 29: Punchline (Moved to Rex Theater, September 30)
July 29: Drake Vs. Kanye (CANCELED)
July 31: I Prevail (Moved to Rex Theater)

"We’re all very disappointed that we were unable to have one last hoorah," Drusky vice president Josh Bakaitus, who has personally been booking shows at Altar Bar for eight years, wrote in an email to CP. "All of the staff and bands were excited to go out with a bang but unfortunately it is what it is. We’re again thankful that our friends at the Rex have helped us find a home for a lot of our shows and some of our staff.

Bakaitus, who names The Dead Milkmen and Imagine Dragons as some of the most memorable shows he witnessed at the venue, acknowledges that the space elicited mixed feelings from concert-goers. "Altar certainly had its strengths and weaknesses," he writes. "We all know that. A lot of really good people put their hearts & souls into that place to help it improve and succeed. I think whether you hated the poorly designed staircase in the middle of the floor or loved the intimacy of the space, most importantly it impacted you in some way and it was a driving force in the Pittsburgh music scene. I’m very thankful for the time I was able to spend there with the amazing people that grew to become family." 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Listen Up! July 20

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 5:26 PM

Every Wednesday, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section. Listen while you read!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Brief conversations at Warped Tour 2016 with Less Than Jake and Real Friends

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Mayday Parade perform July 15 at First Niagara Pavillion. - PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Mayday Parade perform July 15 at First Niagara Pavillion.
The one, the only Vans Warped Tour made its annual stop in Pittsburgh (really Burgettstown) Friday, July 15. CP got to sit down and talk to members of ska veterans Less Than Jake and the chart-topping pop-punk unit Real Friends. 

Buddy Schaub, trombone, Less Than Jake

I saw the Make Warped Tour Great Again video you guys put together and it's really funny. How did you come up with that and are you as a band against Donald Trump?

It’s not actually about any political candidates. What we’re doing is, instead of being on the Warped Tour, we’re on the campaign trail to Make Warped Tour Great Again. Since it’s an election year, we thought it would be funny to have this whole spread. ... If you wait until the show, you’ll see [frontman Chris DeMakes'] presidential look ... It has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Less Than Jake played a show at Duquesne University, my alma mater, in 2012. Do you remember that show or anything about it?
Joe Taylor of Knuckle Puck performs July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion. - PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Joe Taylor of Knuckle Puck performs July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion.
I’m trying to remember what happened.

From what I heard, there was a clash between security and kids moshing.
Is that the one with the big cross? … Part of that is because we got the Prince song [that starts out with,] “Dearly beloved we are gathered…” and we came down to that. The first song started and the security guards all came in and were all like, “What’s going on?” and we were like, “Whoa, whoa, we were supposed to be able to do some [wild] stuff.” So there was a little bit of an altercation. We’ve had way worse things than that. It was a little bit of a straightening-out of what was allowed and what was not. Everyone was cool. It was fine. It sorted itself out. Whatever it became in your hometown, I don’t know. It’s legend now. Duquesne? Do can’t.

I didn't realize you were just in Pittsburgh, doing the full-album shows.

We re-released Hello Rockview and Losing Streak and we did a little tour to play both those records. We would do two nights in each city, and Pittsburgh actually got added because we were doing them on the weekend and in between we had this time where we were like, “Do we go home or fit something in and drive to New York?” We decided to add Pittsburgh in the middle and play both records in one night, which we did, but by the end of the second record we realized it was probably a disaster. I had a few too many vodka drinks. But we made it through and had to get into the van and drive like six hours to New York. It was a little disturbing. ...

But it’s fun to do those tours like that, where we just do two weeks here and there, or between two places where we get a rental van and drive around, because it’s reminiscent of when we used to be in a van. It’s kind of fun to get on the road and do it that way.
Deryck Whibley of Sum 41  performs July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion. - PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 performs July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion.

Kyle Fasel, bass/ founding member of Real Friends
Kyle Fasel (center) and Dan Lambton (right) of Real Friends perform July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion. - PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Kyle Fasel (center) and Dan Lambton (right) of Real Friends perform July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion.

I remember listening to the 2012 EP Real Friends put out, and now we're two albums after that, with both charting around 50 on Billboard. What has this whirlwind of the last two years been like for you?
It’s still crazy. It’s tough to get used to something like that. When you’re on tour, it’s really easy to get caught up in everything ... But it’s when you have time off, you really appreciate it. When I’m home and have like two months off and I wake up in the morning and get coffee and I kind of think to myself, “I get to play in a band. That’s my job. It’s weird.” [Laughs.] It’s a good thing, but also to reflect on being on Billboard in the top 50 albums and all that, it’s all surreal. We never expected to do anything with the band. ... [Y]ou mentioned an EP we put out, Everyone Who Dragged You Here. When we wrote those songs, we were just like, “Oh, this is fun.” We weren’t like, “Hey, let’s write these songs so we can get on a tour or quit our jobs or do anything,” we were just like, “These songs are cool," and that was it. It’s kind of weird, you know. Because some people are put in positions where they are like, “OK, we’re gonna get signed and gonna do this,” and I’ve been in bands like that and it never works. When I was in a band where it was just like, “This is fun,” then it worked.

One of the lyrics in the song "Home For Fall" says "we could listen to American football / or talk about high school / just like we did the years before." I find that so honest and open and it seems like you're not trying to hide behind phrasing or metaphor.
I think sometimes with bands, there’s right or wrong answer with art, but to me there is a point where you don’t want to try too hard. I think when people really enjoy music and want to connect with it, maybe they’re not feeling that great. Maybe they’re sad or mad, or whatever it might be. When you’re sad or mad, you don’t go and look up in a thesaurus a different word for “this.” So I try to keep my writing to that as well. Like very, “Hey, if I feel this way, I’m gonna say this. I’m not gonna think too much about it,” and I think that’s what keeps it relatable.
Bradley Walden of Emarosa performs July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion. - PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • Photo by Aaron Warnick
  • Bradley Walden of Emarosa performs July 15 at First Niagara Pavilion.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

MP3 Monday: Uncle Fresh & Shem the Pen

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 12:45 PM

This week’s MP3 comes from’90s-throwback-ish hip-hop duo Uncle Fresh & Shem the Pen; stream or download the catchy, goofy, sample-heavy “Bachelor Therapy” from their new record, Duck Logic, below. 

To download, right-click here and select "save as."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Faced with steep renovation costs, Pittsburgh's James Street Gastropub launches #SaveJamesStreet campaign

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 1:56 PM

The Nox Boys perform in the upstairs ballroom of the James Street Gastropub as part of the Deutschtown Music Festival - PHOTO BY LUKE THOR TRAVIS
  • Photo by Luke Thor Travis
  • The Nox Boys perform in the upstairs ballroom of the James Street Gastropub as part of the Deutschtown Music Festival
James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy has hit a bit of a rough spot in recent days. The popular venue/restaurant has a long history of hosting live jazz, going back decades to when it was the James Street Tavern. The multi-floor venue hosts around 300 musical events a year, and it was a key venue for last weekend's Deutschtown Music Festival. But the show there, which featured a lineup of ten bands, was cut short by a noise complaint — odd, some attendees say, considering that there were no complaints about noise being generated at the main stage just a few blocks away. 

Now, general manager Kevin Saftner writes in press release, extensive renovations need to be made to meet Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board noise requirements. "The law does not allow for the sound of amplified music to be heard beyond the licensed premises’ property line," he writes. "Step off the sidewalk, hear music, and we’re in violation. Penalties include stiff fines, suspension of the liquor license, business closure due to being a 'nuisance bar,' even jail time."

An IndieGoGo campaign has been launched, with a flexible goal of $5,000.

The LCB doesn't seek out establishments violating the noise ordinance but according to its statutes will investigate neighbors' complaints of "loud music or entertainment by amplification or noise from entertainment emanating from the establishment." Saftner tells CP that the LCB was "not wrong" in issuing the citation, but "it's just disappointing that it happened to us." 

Shawn Kelly, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board called CP Friday morning, to clarify that despite the statement from James Street, LCB did not cite the bar. Kelly said the noise statute is part of the state’s liquor laws and enforcing those laws falls to the Liquor Control Enforcement arm of the Pa. state police. The only action the LCB could take agaisnt any establishment would be not to renew the bar’s liquor license or to renew it with conditions. “I think a lot of people think we wnforce liquor laws, but it’s not us,” Kelly said.

As the fundraising webpage says, "With your help you will not only help us keep our 30 employees and their families fed, but you will help Pittsburgh musicians, artists & many others too. James Street is honored to host the Legendary Roger Humphries' weekly Jam Session. It would be terrible to have this tradition end because of the issues we are facing. We are also honored to work with young up and coming musicians such as the Bleil Brothers, Anton DeFade, George Heid III & countless others. Again, nothing would be worse than having these aspiring artists lose yet another venue to perform at. James Street is not merely a music venue though. We host Drag Brunch, Burlesque shows, Private events, Swing Dances, Church Groups & so much more. There would be nothing worse than closing our doors to all of these amazing people.

"...In order to #SaveJamesStreet we need to raise approximately $30,000. This money will go to sound proof the Ballroom as well as to install air conditioning and new electrical work. We are asking you who to help us with just a small percent of the total cost."

The venue also plans to host a series of fundraising concerts. Keep an eye on the James Street website and/or Facebook for further updates. 

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Listen Up! July 13

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 4:05 PM

Every Wednesday, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section. Give this week's extensive offering a listen, below:

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An extended conversation with Gillian McCain, co-author of Please Kill Me: The Uncensored History of Punk

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 11:59 AM

Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain provided the first detailed document of the New York punk scene with Please Kill Me: The Uncensored History of Punk. Beginning with the Velvet Underground, and continuing with the likes of Richard Hell (whose infamous t-shirt inspired the title) and the Ramones, it chronicles the story in unfiltered quotes from the musicians and friends who were there.

As the authors mark its 20th anniversary, with an edition that includes a new afterword, they will visit Pittsburgh for a reading at the Ace Hotel on Monday, July 18. City Paper spoke to McCain, before a reading in London two weeks ago.

How did the book come to life?
Legs [McNeil, co-author] had been doing a book with Dee Dee Ramone and had suggested to Dee Dee that they do it as an oral history because Legs was such a fan of the book Edie by Jean Stein and George Plimpton. So they started it. But Legs was also interviewing [music publicist/journalist/Ramones manager] Danny Fields and Richard Hell and kind of cut it together with Dee Dee. And Dee Dee was getting a little hard to work with. I was reading all these transcripts and I said, “This story is so much bigger than just the Ramones. You should do an oral history of punk.” He invited me to do it, and I knew if anyone else did it with him I’d be really jealous when I read the book.

When was this that you started working on it?
He worked on it for a year or two before me. And I jumped on the last year before it got published. I think I started working on it in 1994. He started working on it in ’92 or ’93.

He had also done a lot of interviews for Spin and Punk Magazine. Some of the interviews [we] used came from his archive. But mostly they were original interviews done at that time. We did about one-third of the interview together.

Was anyone reticent about being interviewed?
[Long pause.] No. Because I think by the time period, there was just no interest in punk whatsoever. As Legs says, he thinks most people didn’t expect the book to get published! [Laughs] I think it was just a time period that people were ready to talk. It had been 15 years and maybe people were getting nostalgic for that time in New York. Because that was when New York really started to change, in the early ‘90s.

The books is really the first chronicle of that whole era, wasn’t it?
Our book is kind of a continuation of the book Edie, which is about the Warhol Factory. Edie [Sedgwick] is this socialite who becomes a superstar. But it branches out into all assets of the ’60s. Because ours starts at Warhol’s Factory and the Velvet Underground, I think our book is a continuation. And [it covers] the Stooges [who] started in the late '60s. Trans love commune, and MC5.

That early period seems like those might have been fun times but dangerous times too.
I really knew nothing about the MC5. We did those interviews near the end. So I got to be in co-interviews with them. And that was such a fascinating time, with the whole urban guerillas, White Panther party. There was so much humor to it. [Laughs] But that’s just looking back.

[Detroit activist] John Sinclair actually went to jail for cops finding some pot on him. For a few years! It was crazy.

But I liked all those people a lot: John Sinclair, [MC5 members] Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson. They were really fun. And great interviews!

We left Iggy [Pop] to the very last because we wanted to know what the book was [about]. We had ideas about where we wanted to put him in, so that made the questions more specific. We wanted to present to him, [by saying], We know your story. Legs started out, “Okay, you go to see the Doors at the Yost Field House. You’ve got a student ticket because of this. And you see them play, and Jim Morrison does that. Dot dot dot.” And Iggy’s like, “Woah! You’ve got a lot of detail there!” Well yeah, because we had done so many interviews with other people. So we could tell anecdotes that lead to questions that made his mind work in a different way. When people are celebrities they get their interviews down pat. I think we got a pretty original interview with Iggy. He definitely was not phoning it in.

Who stands out as the most memorable interview?
I really liked Wayne Kramer. He was really articulate and honest and forthcoming and funny. He was definitely one of my favorites. [Kramer speaks candidly in the book about his arrest for theft and drug dealing.]

Danny had been interviewed by Legs before I jumped on. But that’s kind of the reason I jumped on. I was getting up early to go to work and reading these transcripts of Danny. I said to Legs, “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. This has got to be as big a part of the book as Dee Dee.”

I wasn’t in that interview but Danny would have been my favorite. And now we’re close friends. We’re in London together right now. We’re doing to read together at the Ace Hotel here in London on Friday. He’s my special guest. Unfortunately Legs isn’t here because he doesn’t fly.

We did a reading in Asbury Park. We did it kind of multi-media, because we produced and wrote, with Michael Des Barres, a radio show that’s been playing all over.

If you go on the Please Kill Me website there’s a list of stations that it’s played on. We used the real voices from the interviews. We’re starting in New York, we’re going to mix some of the voices with our reading. We’re also going to have a slide show with photographs.

I guess it could be kind of emotional too.
We always pick the funny parts. That’s the audience pleaser. We certainly wouldn’t pick the Jerry Nolan chapter [which chronicles the death of the New York Dolls drummer].

  • Photo courtesy of Grandstand Media
  • Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil
Nolan’s death ends the book on a note that doesn’t attempt to give things a romantic ending. Was that intentional?
I think it was just intuitive. We were wrapping everyone’s life up. I remember reading that Jerry Nolan interview in the Village Voice when it came out. It was done by Doug Simmons. I was incredibly moved by it. And I wasn’t a New York Dolls fan.

Legs got permission from Doug Simmons for us to use that interview. I think we were just wrapping up Johnny [Thunders, New York Dolls guitarist, who died under mysterious circumstances]. It seemed like Jerry was the natural person to go after that. We knew we had such an impactful ending with that. It’s almost like a vortex. You start with Lou Reed saying “Come over and let me talk to you,” and you end with a hole in someone’s shoe. [Nolan recounts an Elvis Presley concert, where the future king has a worn-out footwear.]

Did it take long to find a publisher?
Well, again, punk wasn’t popular. And oral history was not popular. We had offers from three publishers. Grove gave us the best offer. And I don’t think Grove has expected it to do as well as it has. I could be wrong.

Do you feel like you set a standard for books like this?
There’s a really good article done by a guy for a Santa Cruz newspaper [Good Times]. It’s interesting about how he said we kind of revolutionized the publishing world. There’s oral histories of everything now. So I’m very proud of that. The new 20th anniversary edition, Legs and I wrote an essay about technique and how we do oral history.

You were around during the punk era, right?
I wasn’t. I was born in ’66. That had been my fantasy that I was there. Doing the book was kind of living it out. The way they worded [my bio on the book], they made it sound like I was there [during the ‘70s].

How do you think of music today compares to that era? Do you keep up with new bands?
No. I just listen to the old stuff. I mean, I’m open to [new music] but I don’t read music magazines or listen to the radio anymore. I’m really out of it.

What does that music have that today’s doesn’t have?
I don’t know. Maybe I heard it when I was at the right age. I went to see at the Saatchi Gallery [in London] to see the exhibition about the Rolling Stones. Oh my god! They were the best band ever. How can you beat them?

PLEASE KILL ME: THE UNCENSORED HISTORY OF PUNK 20TH ANNIVERSARY BOOK TOUR 8 p.m., July 18. Ace Hotel, 120 S Whitfield St., East Liberty. Free. 412-361-3300 or 

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A conversation with Shakey Graves

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Alejandro Rose-Garcia, a.k.a. Shakey Graves, makes Americana folk rock that’s full of nostalgia.
“I think it’s as powerful as anything, as writing a love song or protest music, or anything like that," he told City Paper by phone. Last year, he won the Emerging Artist of the Year Award from the Americana Music Honors and Awards and has his own day in his hometown, Austin, Texas. He’ll be performing July 15 at Mr. Smalls Theatre. 
  • Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Publicity
  • Shakey Graves

Do you remember when you first realized that you loved music?
It was probably listening to the Phantom Of The Opera soundtrack when I was three. ... It's got over-the-top '80s drums and then a symphony. It's very dramatic music. But that used to really, really get my goat. ... I still definitely bring the aesthetic of that specific song into a lot of what I do — you know, a lot of minor keys, hooky stuff and swells. A little over-dramatic, if you will.

In the past, you've talked about how you hope your music is healing to people. Have you seen examples of that happening?
Yeah, I have actually, a lot. ... I've gotten feedback everywhere from people not committing suicide, or my music being something that helps people get through really dark thoughts like that. I had a guy come backstage, a really sweet dude, and he was like, "I just got to tell you, I can't thank you enough. [My brother] is here today because of your music." It was like, "Man, this is so crazy."

Does that make it all worth it?
Yeah. ... The first time that I heard somebody ever say something along those lines, I was pretty much good. ... And I have a lot of those, and they matter a lot to me. To imagine that somebody thought of me like that was a little like being in love, I guess — to know somebody cares so much about you. And I may not know them directly, but the thing that I produce out of love and circumstance and hard situations produced a feedback loop in that way. That's pretty much as satisfying as it gets.

The most exciting thing is, this tour we're about to be in on is the last official tour we're going to do for a while. Then I'm going back to the Batcave. ... We're basically going back to the lab for an undetermined amount of time and won't come out until we have the new sound. So I'm very excited about that.

The first track of And The War Came is an old-sounding recording of a person speaking — where did you get that?
We found these two total strangers talking on a reel-to-reel tape machine that we bought. ... It sounds like they were in high school or in the early stages of college. And as far as I can tell, they're doing a Cosmo [magazine] quiz on each other. And it's just them dicking around ... But I thought it was really sweet, it's those little slices of life that you find on a home video of people talking.

Compared to other musicians, you seem sort of private online. Was that a strategic move to be more withdrawn?
It's something I always intended to do. ... I'd rather just let the content speak for itself in a lot of ways … But back in the day when I started, I didn't really have that option, and I didn't really have any credentials. I could've sat and talked about my idols and stuff like that, but it didn't seem applicable. So my goal was sort of an anti-marketing scheme of really putting no information about myself out when I put my music out. Because, just like finding the tape with those girls talking on it, it's that same concept essentially. I'd rather have people make up what they think I am, or fit me into places in their life I'm not trying to power my way in. And I think a little bit of mystery and that experience of feeling like you've found something unique is something that really bonds the listener and the musician together in a way that you can't buy.

Are you going to come back from your hiatus as Shakey Graves, or do you think it'll be something else?
I don't know. I've thought about that a lot. I think it depends on what it sounds like. I think I'll always put out Shakey Graves music, but I always also like side projects and strange stuff. So I'm certainly not opposed to that concept. So it is to be seen; that's the thrilling part. Who knows?

SHAKEY GRAVES with STREETS OF LAREDO. 9 p.m. Fri., July 15. Mr. Small's Theatre. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. Sold out. 412-821-4447 or

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Monday, July 11, 2016

MP3 Monday: Come Holy Spirit

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 2:55 PM

This week’s MP3 comes from Pittsburgh’s well-loved mystic-avant-psych three-piece Come Holy Spirit. Stream or download the title track from the band's cathartic sophomore record, Grand Island, below. 

To download, right-click here and select "save as."

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Dave Matthews Band's Boyd Tinsley talks about longevity, playing Pittsburgh and the group's 25th anniversary

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 5:56 PM

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Dave Matthews Band. Since forming in 1991, DMB has sold more than 30 million records worldwide, and they're the only group to have six consecutive studio albums debut at number one on the Billboard chart. 

Boyd Tinsley, second from right - COURTESY RCA
  • Courtesy RCA
  • Boyd Tinsley, second from right
Over the years, the band has become known for its annual summer tour where they visit dozens of cities across the United States. But this summer could be the last chance for fans to see DMB in concert for awhile since the group announced it would be taking next year off. 

In advance of tomorrow's Pittsburgh show, City Paper interviewed violinist Boyd Tinsley by phone. For the past two decades, the 52-year-old musician's electric presence on stage has made him a fan favorite.  

How do your concerts today compare to concerts two decades ago?
As a collective, we're expanding our whole musical realm and sort of reaching beyond. So some really cool stuff is happening on stage, all around, from all of the musicians, and it's really fun. It feels like the beginning years when everything was new because it is kind of a new time right now. It's a time when everyone is really digging deep. LeRoi Moore, the saxophone player who passed away [in 2008], he used to say every night, "Let's take it to the next level." And that sort of became our motto, something that was ingrained upon us. It doesn't matter what you did yesterday; it's all about what you do today. So we always strove to take it to the next level, and we're still doing that today.

You've been known to play new songs, that haven't been released, on tour. What do you like about playing new songs for the fans? 
At some point we'll make another album, but these are just some of the songs we started writing and we thought we'd break some of them out on tour this summer. And we've really been having a good reaction from people. It's really fun to play a song live because they evolve and change. It's something new and something fresh. We just sort of play them, and they evolve and we find the songs.

How do you plan to spend your time off next summer?
After 25 years, we all kind of thought it was time to take a little time off, spend the summer at home. And also it gives people a chance to work on other projects. I've been working with a band called Crystal Garden. I put them together, produce them, and now they're starting to do some shows. Things are going really well for this band. They have great music, great charisma, and I'm having a blast working with them. 

To what do you attribute the band's longevity?
We laugh a lot, joke a lot, stay positive. The whole organization, everybody's cool, everybody works together, everybody's very talented. So when you're in an atmosphere like that, you want to come back, you look forward to the summer tour.  And it's the music. We take the music to different places every night. Every night's an adventure. Some bands approach it differently: They play the song pretty much the same way every day. For us, we let the music carry us where it's going to take us, and that journey every night is really fun. I think it's what's kept us together this long.

We also have a dedicated fan base, and we've had a dedicated fan base from the very beginning. Some of them come up to me and say they've been to over 300 shows, which is just amazing. We owe so much to the fans and the fact that they show up is a big part of why we stick around.

Is there anything unique about Pittsburgh DMB fans?
I love Pittsburgh. The fans there are truly dedicated. I'm on Twitter a lot, and I get a lot of fans from Pittsburgh tweeting me all the time. I remember when I did a movie several years ago called Faces in the Mirror. We took it around the country to a few places, and we had screenings. One of the very first ones was in Pittsburgh. I went to the theater, and I had no idea how many people would show up. And I walked in, and it was packed. It was overwhelming honestly, and I'll never forget that. It was an incredible expression of love, and I appreciate that.

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