Lately the Jersey Shore is known more for the fist-pumping guidos and guidettes than its legendary music scene. This month ESBMusic takes a look at one band who is rocking the coast, River City Extension.
The group hails from Toms River, NJ and is composed of Joe Michelini (guitar/lead vocals), James Ramirez (bass), Mike Costaney (drums), Jenn Fantaccione (cello), Dan Melius (trumpet/mellophone/vocals), Nick Cucci (djembe, aux percussion, vocals), Sam Tacon (lead vocals), Pat O’Brien (piano).
River City Extension defines their sound as orchestral, punk inspired world-beat folk-rock band. With this diverse range of musical styling, this band is a beautiful melodic anomaly. The octet has been described as “a smorgasbord of horns, strings, quick drum beats and infectious harmonies” as well having the “energy of a classic punk rock band, yet polished and sophisticated.” One thing is certain, the mixture of the group’s individual influences and ideas is indeed a recipe for greatness.
The band recently completed their debut full length album, The Unmistakable Man. The album, due out this May on XOXO Records was co-produced, by Eric Sanderson (Pela) and Joe Michelini (RCE). The Unmistakable Man is a must have for your playlist! Being lucky enough to live at the Jersey Shore and frequently partake in all the great performances in Asbury Park, I had the opportunity to see RCE at The Wonder Bar last month on S*ALT night and again the following week at The Stone Pony. They are AMAZING! Every member of this band is bursting with energy that transcends into the crowd and keeps the whole house rocking. If you have the opportunity definitely see them live!
Eat Sleep Breathe Music had the chance to sit down with guitarist and lead vocalist Joe Michelini to talk about how God and people inspire him to write, his split personalty stage presence, how the weather is messing up their tour, and what he loves best about playing at the Jersey Shore.
ESBM: RCE is a different than most rock bands in the area, how did you come up with the concept?
Michelini: There really was no concept. These are just my songs, these musicians they are my friends. We always strive to make something new and interesting, but what hasn’t been done already you know?
ESBM: Who writes your songs, lyrics, and music?
Michelini: I write all the songs, lyrics, and music. The parts for each instrument are split between my writing and the writing done by the respective musician based on the basic song structure.
ESBM:What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
Michelini: Hm.. I write about what I see. It’s hard for me to ever imagine about something I didn’t experience. I write a lot about God, I was raised super religiously, and still have some questions about that. I write about growing older, and life, the people I meet. I love meeting new people, that’s probably my biggest inspiration.
ESBM: Who are your musical influences?
Michelini: Oh man, definitely Paul Simon for one… Paul Simon, Modest Mouse, John Denver, Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s, The National, Pela, Okkervil River.. lots of different stuff.
ESBM:What is your favorite part of performing live?
Michelini: My favorite part about performing live is disappearing and letting my other self take over. I sort of just close my eyes and there’s a different person inside of me who feels like it’s OK to roll around on the floor with your guitar, even though you’ve been bleeding all over it, and then try to eat your strings onstage.. actually I might have kicked the string eater out of me. That happened once though.
ESBM: You have a new album coming out can you tell me about it and when it will be released?
Michelini: Yes, we have our first full-length album entitled ‘River City Extension and The Unmistakable Man’ coming out on XOXO Records May 11th. We’re all really excited, this is a huge accomplishment, especially since it’s really a collection of songs I’ve wanted to record for the last 3 years…anyone who has been following us in any way is excited. It’s in no way new material, it’s our first recording of the songs we’ve been playing live for years now. Some are newer than others; it’s just cool to see them come to life.
ESBM: What are some of your upcoming tours? Which ones are you most excited about?
Michelini: We had to cancel our most recent tour because of the weather, but we are rescheduling it for April, and that will hit the midwest, a little south, and then a couple dates in NY State. That should be a lot of fun.
ESBM: What is the best thing about being part of this diverse Jersey Shore music scene?
Michelini: There’s always something new. There are so many good bands here and no which one sounds like the others. We can share bills and keep the whole night interesting, as opposed to a straight up rock show, or even a straight up folk-rock show.
River City Extension will be at The Bowery Electric this Friday – March 5th, Arlene’s Grocery – March 18th, and Terrance F Club w/Los Campesino! – April 23rd. GO SEE THEM!