North Jersey Notes: Division 1.1, Bad News, Blue Food and More!

My bud Michelle Denholtz recently turned me onto this new band out of Middlesex, who call themselves Division 1.1. She told me that singer Rob Middleton is a longtime friend of hers, so I figured I’d give them a listen. They reminded me a lot of Mike Portnoy’s new band, Adrenaline Mob, which really isn’t a bad band to be compared to because they rock! Middleton’s vocals on songs like “The Score,” “Bring It On,” and “Lust” displayed a strong ‘80s rock influence surrounded by mean guitar riffs.

Division 1.1 consists of a few veteran rock and metal songwriters and players, whose musical backgrounds are very diverse. They have the speed, power, and aggressiveness of a well-oiled metal band, maintaining elements of prog rock mixed in with topical lyrics and a catchy melody. Singer Rob Middleton has been in the music scene for about 20 years singing only original material wherever he went. Guitarist John Barone is a New York native who grew on everything from disco to death metal—so it’s no wonder his mean guitar riffs are so interesting. Bassist/keyboardist Steve Ratchen, who has been compared to Dream Theater’s John Myung and Rush’s Geddy Lee, is no stranger to the music scene either, as he’s known for his work in the prog metal band, Alchemy X. And drummer Brian Brennan provides the power behind Division 1.1.

It took Division 1.1 about two years to find Ratchen and now that they have him, they don’t plan on letting him go. The band already has plans to head back into the studio this month to record their latest opus, which they hope to have available for download in late May, early June. According to Middleton, Division 1.1 will be performing all of their new songs live at their Debut Breakout show on June 9 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen, NJ. For more info on Division 1.1, log onto


Jimmy Forest, one of my favorite young songwriters in Jersey, has finalized his lineup for his new band and he’s even come up with a name for it! He’s calling the band Bad News, and they are awesome! Jimmy, who some might remember as the lead singer of Beatrix Kiddo, has teamed up with Hollander guitarist Jimmy Franklin, bassist Travis Smith, and drummer Jeff Strahle. Their songs “Keep The Faith,” “Love Song,” and “Set The Sails” are simply fantastic! Jimmy and his Bad News cohorts debuted the band last weekend at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ with an opening slot for ZO2. You can catch Bad News live again on May 19 at the Legendary Dobbs in Philadelphia, PA. Can’t make that show? Then log onto to give these guys a listen.

The boys from Blue Food are doing something that is very, very cool! On the band’s website,, they’re soliciting for fans and friends to help them record the chorus part to their song, “Engines Of The World.” The track is off of their upcoming debut CD, Engines. The band says, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you can sing, your energy is what matters.” They even make it super easy for you to do, by setting up a ‘record’ button right on their website with a set of lyrics to read, and a guide track to sing to. This is an amazing idea! If you want to be a part of Blue Food’s debut CD, Engines, check out their website to record your vocal track!

And finally, I’ll be taking my new band, BlackOcean, into NYC this weekend (5/12) to make their NYC debut. It won’t be my first NYC performance, but it will be the band’s first! So, if you haven’t seen my band yet, now’s your chance, as this show will be a part of the Gotham Rocks New Blood Showcase series at The Delancey. If you’d like to give BlackOcean a listen, log onto

That’s all for now! If your band is from North Jersey, and you want some exposure, send your press kits to Arts Weekly, c/o Tim Louie P.O. Box 1140, Little Falls, NJ 07424, or you can email me at, where you can also let me know where you’re performing next!


Just remember….We’re all in the same boat, so every little bit of exposure counts!

Tim Louie is the Author of S**t Happens.

NJN Concert Calendar:

5/9—Steve Brown—Willie McBride’s, Branchburgh, NJ

5/10—Ghosts For Heroes/Voodoo Terror Tribe/The Plot Thickens/Tomorrows Past—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ

5/11—Condition Critical/D.R.I./The Zombie Mafia—The Backstage at Championship Bar, Trenton, NJ

5/11—The Hollow/Eve 6—Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ

5/12—BlackOcean—The Delancey, NYC

5/12—Voodoo Terror Tribe—Jugs-N-Strokers, Merrick, NY

5/12—King Kelly/Audio Insight/March Of The Mannequins/Hybrid None—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ

5/14—Sanitarius/Loudness—B.B. Kings Blues Club and Grill, NYC

5/16—ZO2—Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY

5/18—Midnight Mosaic—Le Grand Fromage, Atlantic City, NJ

5/18—Joe Lynn Turner/Cookiehead—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ

5/19—A Lesson In Violence—The Blue Room, Secaucus, NJ

5/19—The Bad News—The Legendary Dobbs, Philadelphia, PA

5/19—Lower The Veil—Aztec Ocean Resort (Seaside Music Festival) Seaside Heights, NJ

5/19—Julius Seizure/Betrayus/Visions Of The Vanished/Ashes Of Amber—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ

5/22—Our Black Friday/Adelitas Way/Art Of Dying/Redlight King/Velora—Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, NJ

5/24—Lionel Pryor/Hollywood Kills/Gyre—Dingbatz, Clifton, NJ

5/26—The Brimstones/The Trash Mavericks/Monster Rat—7 Days Bar and Grill, Union Beach, NJ