Asbury Lanes reopens for its first full weekend on May 25 with The Cold Seas, gods and Wyland. The Cold Seas and gods chat about the high-profile gig and more.
When the chic rendering for Asbury Lanes first was released, New Jersey punks raged in horror at what gentrification had done to their fabled spot. But then the schedule was released, and an impressive mix of headlining local and well-respected national talent seemed to silence the brooding mob.
In the wake of a May 18 soft opening with Brian Sella, vocalist-guitarist of Asbury Park-based The Front Bottoms, the entire reopening weekend of Asbury Lanes features nearly all Jersey acts, most of whom are based in the City by the Sea. Kicking the whole thing off will be The Cold Seas, gods and North Jersey’s Wyland on May 25, followed by a salute to the two-piece with Brick & Mortar, Bone & Marrow and New York City’s Baba Sonya on May 26, and then Sandy Mack All-Star Jam on May 27 with Marc Ribler (Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul), Lee Finkelstein (Zen Tricksters, Blues Brothers), Arne Wendt (Jon Bon Jovi), Mike Falzarano (Hot Tuna), Tommy LaBella (10,000 Maniacs, Bruce Springsteen), Eric Safka (Colossal Street Jam, Billy Walton) and more.
About the focus on local talent throughout the Lanes’ reopening weekend and beyond, co-owner David Bowd of Salt Hotels said, “We are very committed to having an even mix of local and national bands at Asbury Lanes and have been contacting many locals and past performers of the Lanes to come and perform in this re-invented iconic space. We are all huge fans of the three bands — The Cold Sea, Gods and Wyland — and are delighted to have them perform at the Lanes. Ticket sales have been very strong particularly for local performers.”
At The Watermark above the Asbury boardwalk, guitarist Paul Ritchie and drummer Sam Bey of gods, as well as Parlor Mob, and guitarist Erik Rudic of The Cold Seas, who also will tour with Parlor Mob, chatted with me. They shared how they consider it to be an honor to play the first show of the reopening weekend of Asbury Lanes. They also laid out each band’s upcoming plans.
The Cold Seas, who recently released a video for the haunting synth-oriented single “Retrograde,” expect to do more of the same and may compile the releases into an album. They’ll also play Metuchen Art & Music Festival, June 9, with Lowlight, RocknRoll HiFives and Scott Wolfson & the Other Heroes and July 13 at Asbury Park Brewery with The LeMats. And vocalist-guitarist Chad Sabo will be a solo acoustic set, as will Joe Zorzi of Modern Chemistry, on June 7 at Langosta Lounge.
Meanwhile, gods will play North Face Base Camp, which is taking place June 29 and 30 on Hunterdon Mountain in New York’s Catskills with several other Asbury bands, including Von Mons, Gringo Motel and The Tide Bends.
And then there are Parlor Mob, who’ll drop a long-awaited album soon, tour behind it and chat with me more about it in a follow-up interview. But for now, they’ll also play June 19 at Mercury Lounge, New York City, and June 21, Ortlieb’s, Philadelphia, both with fellow Asbury rockers Deal Casino, as well as in Asbury with The Cold Seas on a date to be announced in June.
When not playing music, Ritchie records his own bands, as well as local acts, such as The Vice Rags and Lyons. He and studio partner, Rob Blake, soon will move and rename their Insidious Sound Studio to a larger and more state-of-the-art spot elsewhere in Neptune.
In addition to these plans, we also discussed gentrification, a thumb in the eye of New Jersey music scenes for the last 25 years. See what they think about that and more.
STREAM The Cold Seas “Retrograde”:
Question: What did you love and miss most about the old Lanes?
Erik Rudic: There was a certain vibe about it. When you walk in that place, it’s definitely old-school punk, and that was unique, especially during that time in Asbury.
Sam Bey: There’s nothing really like it except The Saint. I would go to the Lanes and not even care who was playing there. I wouldn’t even look at the schedule. I would just go and hang out because it was a good hang. It was big and open and has that vibe. The Saint has that vibe, but once you’re in, you’re in.
Paul Ritchie: It had a punk-rock mentality. The people who ran it, the people who hang out there.
Bey: It was a club that everyone was invited to be part of with that kind of punk-rock, DIY, loose but organized mentality.
Ritchie: We had a show there after my wedding. We had the whole wedding party there, and there was this surprise show that my wife put on for me, and my friends played. So there were a lot of special times there.
Q: How does it make you feel to be asked to play the first night of the reopening weekend? What does that mean to you?
Rudic: I feel honored.
Ritchie: Yeah, honored. It’s a brand new venue and hopefully, they bring back some of the nostalgic elements of the club. I know there are a lot of people who have bad things to say about it. I get it, but I’ve been in this town for 12 years. I’ve seen a lot of places come and go. The Fastlane was great. I didn’t understand why that place never opened up again. There’s a lot of cool shit that went on, but as people find opportunities to make money, things change. The town is growing up. You’re either going to grow with it or you’re going to be against it. As long as it supports live music, then I’m fine with it.
Bey: And that’s the thing. We like the music that we play or else we wouldn’t make it. For a place like that, we could take the rendering and poo-poo it or we can take our music there and continue to contribute to make it part of lives and part of town, the way that it was when it was the Lanes initially. I see us being part of the solution. We believe in the music we play. We think the music we play is good. We played the old Lanes. We contributed to that.
So if every good band said, ‘Screw that place. I’m not going to play there,’ you’re going to make that place into exactly what you don’t want it to be in the first place. Let’s all show up and give it that vibe again, make it part of the art community.
Ritchie: Have another great venue in Asbury Park that has local bands and has bands coming through town, but gives local bands the opportunity to open for great bands.
Bey: So when you think of it that way, it’s an honor to be able to show up that night and contribute.
Q: Erik, what were some of the other bands you were in that played there?
Rudic: New York Rivals, The New Volume, Scott Liss & The Sixty-Six, more than I can remember over the years. It’s cool that this venue is opening and shining a light on Asbury because there are people who are going to come check out this venue who wouldn’t normally be in Asbury or checking out that particular area who might come see us. So that’s the idea, too, to build a following, to gain fans. On that opening weekend, people will be coming out just to check out the venue, and they’ll catch some awesome bands and awesome music in the process.
Ritchie: If the idea is to stay in Asbury and never leave, you’re doing a disservice to your art by not sharing it with other people who potentially wouldn’t get an opportunity to see it.
Q: Has the Lanes’ schedule made up for the rendering?
Bey: I’ve seen it firsthand on the Internet.
Ritchie: I just think it’s silly to talk about an image. It’s just a picture that was not a real picture.
Bey: But I think Thursday sold out three nights now in a row or something like that over there.
Rudic: People said they wouldn’t go, but book good bands, and people will go and see it. I think that’s all they really have to do it to keep people quiet about it. Just book good acts, have locals open up, help the local band community, as well, and that will be OK. There are some great acts coming through.
Bey: Admittedly, I told myself I never was going to set foot in that place, then the schedule came out, and I’ll be there.
Q: How did you get that gig?
Bey: The Cold Seas asked us to play.
Rudic: The general manager, one of the bookers over there, just reached out to me about playing there, and I said we would be down for it. We set up a show with Wyland, but I hadn’t realized it actually was going to be the opening show. That was a surprise because it wasn’t discussed when he gave me the date. Then the lineup came out, and we were super psyched about it. It was us and Wyland, and we were looking for a third band, and we love these dudes, so we asked them if they wanted to do it, and they did. So now we have a sick lineup on our hands.
Bey: Erik plays in Parlor Mob now. And he played bass with gods two weeks ago (all laugh). And I played drums for Cold Seas once at Barclays Center.
Rudic: We did a showcase for Tidal.
Bey: It’s Jay-Z’s streaming service. So we’ve all played together.
STREAM The Cold Seas “Bad Dreams”:
Q: What new songs will you be playing at the Lanes?
Ritchie: I don’t know. gods is Sam and my side project to Parlor Mob, so we’ve been busy the last couple of months on the Parlor Mob album. We’re on the verge of finally doing a god album. We finished our Parlor Mob album last week. We probably won’t be playing any new songs, but we’ll see though.
It is a priority of ours to get our new record done for gods, but we haven’t rehearsed in eight months. We just get together and play shows. I know The Cold Seas have some new material.
Rudic: Yeah, we have some new tunes. We released a single and a video about a month ago for a song called ‘Retrograde.’ It’s kind of new to the set that we’ve been playing recently.
Bey: That song’s awesome. I love that song.
Rudic: Thank you. All of our newer stuff seems to be more synth-oriented. We’ve been messing around with that. We were a four-piece originally, but then our bass player moved to Portland, and we decided to continue as a three-piece, so (vocalist) Chad (Sabo) and I have been splitting the duties of keyboards, bass and guitar all throughout the show, which is really cool, challenging and fun, but because of that, our new songs are leaning more toward to being synth-oriented. We’ve buying all kinds of newer synths and vintage synths to get different types of sounds and tinkering with different stuff in the studio.
We’ve got a Moog. We’ve been messing with the Prodigy in the studio, but the one that we play live is the Little Phatty. That’s on ‘Retrograde.’
And we have two other songs that we’re probably going to play. One is called ‘Come and Gone,” again, more synth-oriented. It’s all in the darker realm, depressing. It’s all sad. We’re a bunch of sad boys (all laugh).
Laugh at my pain (laughs). It’s all about love and heartbreak, all that kind of good stuff, the things that everybody’s been writing songs about for centuries.
STREAM Parlor Mob “Can’t Keep No Good Boy Down”:
Q: Since I saw and heard gods, I wondered, why gods? It’s a much different band than The Parlor Mob.
Bey: That’s the point of it for Paul and I to explore something different.
Ritchie: Sam and I have been playing together for 18 years now.
Bey: We met when I was 16 in Red Bank. A family friend introduced us. I got interested in music. Paul was playing in a metal band, and I used to go watch his metal band play. I would get out of high school, and I would go down to their band practice and watch them rehearse.
My dad was a drummer, so I had drums around me. The first time Paul came over to my house, I had drums set up because my dad is a drummer. And he was like, ‘Oh, you have a drum set. Let’s jam.’ I was super nervous because I had never played with another musician before. I remember that feeling, like, he’s going to do this, and I’m going to figure out what I’m going to do. He was the first person I understood that with when I was 16 or 17 years old. And now we play music together every day.
Q: And gods has that kind of loose sensibility.
Ritchie: Yeah, Parlor Mob is more structured, and gods is more of an experiment for me to get more recording and production gigs. I was using it as a business card. I would record the stuff and give it away for free. If they liked it, they would contact me, and I would end up working with the bands.
And it was a way for Sam and I to experiment more. We were coming off a little break from Parlor Mob, and we were bored. We wanted to keep playin’. We took a break (form Parlor Mob) because we were burnt and we had issues with management and the label.
Bey: We have no issues now. But then we were so burned out from touring. Our management fell short. Our label fell short, and it all happened at the exact same time. We were touring nonstop for years. So we took a little break, and then we were like, ‘Let’s just start our own band, and we don’t have to agree with anyone but each other.’
Q: How did The Cold Seas get together?
Rudic: Chad was in New York Rivals, and (drummer) Nash (Breen) joined that band. Then Chad left the band, and I joined the band. It was that type of thing. We all knew each other and banded together. It came together because of turmoil in another band, wanting to get together after that common experience. And Chad had the songs. They made the move to Asbury Park. I was here already. They were scattered about North Jersey and Brooklyn, but they made the move to Asbury because that’s where we were recording.
Q: Paul, you said you’ve been in Asbury 12 years, so since 2006. Sam when do you move here?
Bey: 2005. I lived above Pizza Plus.
Ritchie: That was a real sketchy spot (laughs).
Q: Erik, were you here in 2006?
Rudic: I wasn’t leaving here, but I was playing here … at The Saint.
Ritchie: I think my first show as at The Saint.
Rudic: That was my first show as well. I’ve been playing Asbury ever since. That was 17 years ago.
Q: So you guys remember when Asbury was bad, but now in the face of gentrification, what do you think the local music scene can do to sustain and maintain its ground, not end up compromised, like New Brunswick and Hoboken and what’s happening now in Jersey City and Brooklyn?
Ritchie: Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m a musician. I don’t like to get political. I’m in it for fun and art and creativity. If you just focus on the art, all art should be all-inclusive. That’s where I keep my head. I try not to make too many statements on political or social issues just because I don’t know if that’s who I am. As long as people working at these venues want to keep the town pure as far as creativity goes, that’s’ the way to keep it going. If they see an opportunity here to make money, then that’s why the town has grown.
Q: That’s why the Lanes closed.
Ritchie: Yeah, and it happens pretty much everywhere. It’s one of the reasons that I left Red Bank and came here. Now I can’t afford to live in town, so I don’t live in town anymore. I can’t even afford to live here. I have two kids and a family. Rent is overblown. So whether it happens directly in this town or now maybe on the outskirts because people can’t afford to live here — but it’s all kind of Asbury — hopefully it continues.
The people who are making money are going to leave when they’re not making money anymore. All the artists just have to try to stick around I guess. It’s a tough question, a very tough question.
Bey: We lived in Red Bank, and we used to play there a ton. We used to do all-ages shows at Chubby’s and the Internet Café. The all-ages shows at the Internet Café in Red Bank were insane. Then you had the old Downtown before they renovated.
We went through this when we were younger. We left Red Bank and came here because we could afford to live down here and found even more places to play. You just keep trying to make art and music, and if you have to go again, you just go.
Ritchie: Hopefully, a lot of these places stay and continue to provide opportunities, and they’re inclusive to all people who want to attend shows. If not, maybe it will move down to Belmar or Bradley (Beach) or anywhere around this area. I think time will tell. If the people who move here want good art, and the artists continue to make good art, then I think it will be OK.
Rudic: I think there’s such a history here that those other places don’t have. You look at the posters in Convention Hall: Sabbath playing over here. Or the Stone Pony. There’s such a history here that I don’t think live original music will be forgotten.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.