Noisy Basements & Bars
New Brunswick Music Scene Documentary:
NOISY BASEMENTS AND BARS – A Scene within a scene
2.16.16 – In High School in 1987 I saw my first show in New Brunswick in the basement bar in the Rutgers recreational center that was a benefit for WRSU that featured a Westfield band called Animation, Opium Vala (Matt Pinfield’s band) and a few other local Jersey bands. We had our scene running for two years called the Radical Rock Reactionaries in high school at WHS and had SST’s Das Damen, Tiny Lights from Hoboken and a bunch of local bands like Animation, Spiral Jetty, Whirling Dervishes and New Brunswick’s DUH among others play for us. The benefit we went to support that night was for WRSU longest running radio show called Overnight Sensations (now hosted by Mr. Frank Bridges).
This radio show was our beacon into a very cool music scene and I could not wait to become a part of it someday. Fast forward to 1991 and I’m playing my first show at The Court Tavern and the side bar at The Roxy in the prog-funk-alt band Mr. Thumb with Butthead (AKA BUZZKILL). A year after that we would be headlining rock clubs with amazing talent like them and that thrill seemed like it would last forever.
I published two fanzines. One called DIGESTOR and another GIMP, wrote articles for a couple other music zines (including Jersey Beat & Splatter Effect) then eventually was one of the first fanzines to go online as slashandburn.net and then the music blog reviewstalker.com; which still manages to published periodically.
On top of all that “music writing” I played and wrote music in a slew of bands in a very short period of time in the 90’s to 00’s to present day after Mr.Thumb. Which included playing shows, touring and making records with my friends in the throng-melodic core of BubbleGum Thunder, the art rock of Suran Song in Stag, the noisy pop of Aviso’Hara and then my longest running band Eastern Anchors with my best musical brother Walter Verde.
The fact remains I still love music, playing when I can and I’ve never really made fucking dime. Ok maybe a few dimes but the return on the investment is terrible but as a artist I still do this fucking thing even though you can’t hang the experience on wall. The memories exists in people’s minds so why not capture it on film? This is the reward for me to hear the playback so it’s not a total loss.
When I took a long look back at the 30 year mark and what sort of documentation there was for an amazing legacy of Central Jersey bands it felt very thin to me and to be honest it was patch-work at best from a film and documentation perspective. The body of work and 10,000’s of band and releases were there but no story. No deep liner notes to help tell the tale.
In this film, NOISY BASEMENTS & BARS a scene within a scene, I want to show the story of a the golden era of music in New Brunswick, New Jersey starting from the 1980’s to present day. How it was eaten by progress and affected many lives and careers and somehow bands still manage to produce and come out of central jersey and claim the Hub City as their own. It’s hard to describe the scale of a giant scene that I’ve watched disappear before my eyes and ears, only to re-appear and still retain it’s roots. The music scene has migrated and become just as obscure to me when I was 15 and first discovered WRSU and WFMU on the left of the dial; respectfully as well City Gardens and shows at CBGB’s.
Radio really opened a whole world of local music, fanzines and just making noise when the opportunity was there. We relied on word of mouth or flyers we would find in our local record stores. In this journey I’ve been meeting a lot of people and heard lots of folklore and funny as fuck stories which I’m all too excited to share.
Local record stores have mostly gone out of business or even burned down as is the case with Sound Station in Westfield. I started asking myself where in hell are kids going to discover culture first hand that is not on the internet? How is this affecting music, Art and creativity? Has major media won and youth are just a bunch of mindless trolls and FAPers? When a place of cultural exchanges gets knocked down does anything replace it? What happens? Where does art go? Asbury? I don’t know. Back to the basement?
Over the next year or so I’m going to be answering these questions interviewing club owners, DJ’s, Booking agents, label folks, people who made it or didn’t and the local band folk and scenesters who made it all happen. I want them to help me define exactly what I mean when I say the phrase NOISY BASEMENTS AND BARS out loud. People who were part of scene and are still perhaps trying to keep it alive in their head. The subject is very dear to me as it defines part of who I am today artistically. I don’t know why I care care for some odd reason so just chose to accept and do something about it.
Some of you whom I know and other are just a liner note or anecdote at bar. I wanna talk to you. The clock is ticking and I’ve given myself one year to get my giant wish list of people aligned and interviewed.
If you want to be involved in some part in this project just get in touch. Email me [vivalahara @ gmail dot com or call me 732 768 32 36.] I’m looking for interns for production, content and Co-Producers. Send me a dropbox of your favorite photos or if you have a great clip of some awesome band send me a link.
Ok enough of my yammering.