Here’s a music quiz for all you hardcore New Jerseyans out there. In the ’90s while groups such as Rage Against The Machine were surfing on radio waves with the musical style known as rapcore, what underground New Jersey band gained a large and devoted following by coupling rhymes about food stamps and abortion with manic distorted guitar riffs and adrenaline heavy drumming? If you guessed the Garden State’s own E-Town Concrete, you’re right.
It started as a joke band during the high school years of vocalist Anthony “Ant-Money” Martini and drummer Theodore “Ted P.” Panagopoulos back in 1995. Two friends coming together to jam out, and nothing more. Even the name was meant to be “corny” according to band members, a temporary moniker that just stuck. But what started as a gag matured into a ten year career for E-Town, with five albums released, tours held around the world, and appearances on iconic music channel MTV.
After some lineup changes over the years, final band members included guitarist David “DeLux” Mondragon and bassist Eric DeNault. Incorporating a style that was a mixture of rap and metal, the band developed a sound that was truly their own by doing something no other rapcore group did at the time – by keeping it Real (with a capital R). With vocals touching upon such issues as poverty and desperation, E-Town’s music inspired those who suffered the same ordeals. And that number was many, as fans poured out in support of the local band.
After many years together, members of E-Town decided to part ways in 2006. In 2009, however, the band reunited to perform a handful of shows labeled as “The Return.”
Now employed as a music manager for Crush Management, one of E-Town Concrete’s original founders, Anthony Martini, spoke to The Aquarian Weekly while making his way to Philadelphia to catch one of his artist’s shows. Objective? Show promotion for E-Town’s upcoming Valentine’s Day Massacre show at the Starland Ballroom on Feb. 13.
After breaking up, E-Town returned for some reunion shows in 2009 and now you are coming back again for the show on Feb. 13 at Starland. Why the comeback?
Well, when we did the original reunion or whatever, we kind of just did it for fun. It went well, so they asked us to come back. They were like, ‘Why don’t you come back and make it a yearly thing or like once every couple years.’ So it was like this year, and it’s just one day. So it’s fun to not have to be a part of the real world for one day and be a rock star [laughs] and make some money.
Does the fact that you’re playing at Starland hold any significance for you?
Yeah, that’s our whole thing. We’ve always been quintessential Jersey dudes or whatever. Not necessarily music wise. It’s just we always represent Jersey just because we feel like Jersey gets shitted on by most people, especially because we’re in the shadow of New York. So, you know we’re all from Jersey and we’re all proud of it. I think that’s the attitude the band’s always had. When we used to tour, we always had a chip on our shoulder about that and being proud of being from Jersey.
So it just makes sense [to play at Starland]. I mean, obviously we always had the biggest fan base in this area. So we wouldn’t really play anywhere else. We could probably play New York City, but then again, that would probably piss off a lot of our Jersey fans. So we figured we’d just do it at Starland. You know, it’s a big enough venue, and it’s convenient enough for everyone to go home and hang out and all that stuff.
E-Town is scheduled to play with Ill Bill, Reign Supreme, and others. Why bill with these artists and how does their music relate to E-Town?
Well, I wanted to put together something a little bit different, somewhat of a diverse bill. You know, Ill Bill is a rapper. But you know, he kind of has the aesthetic of the whole hardcore thing. I guess back in the day he used to be a metal head. But now he’s a rapper. I just kind of wanted to do something, throw some hip hop stuff in there. So I wanted to add him.
And I wanted to put some younger bands on because the last time we played – well, every time we played in Starland recently – when things are winding down, we always put on the bands we always use to play with back in the day. So most of those bands are old and a lot of them don’t need shows anyway. So I want to kind of have a fresh line up for this one, and there are some new bands out there that are good. Just to bring some younger kids in and just kind of freshen it up a little bit instead of having the same old bands every time.
Any plans on E-Town coming back together to produce more music?
Yeah. We’ve talked about getting some new stuff for this show. Maybe just putting out a release with all our old demos that are rare and hard to find, and maybe put some new songs on there. We still actually might do that. We’ve been rehearsing and the guys have written a couple of new things for this show, so we’ll see. Hopefully we get a fifth album together. Things are so hectic, it’s hard to sit down and write stuff anymore. That’s kind of why we stopped doing it anyway. It’s just like, life started getting in the way, you know what I mean? That’s just it. But we all want to make new stuff, and I think we might have a couple of new songs for this show.