Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

The Rogue Rock Writer, Half in the Bag, Submersed in the Scene

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2012: A Year in the Life

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Quite a year.  Started it with my friends from the Press/Kntrlr/Bicycle Boys: Dave, Alex, Mike and Chuck.  We hung out at Chuck’s, where I met their various wives and sweethearts… I got to be the center of attention amongst a group of couples all the while, I never felt like the 9th wheel.  I know I can come off a bit boorish at times, certainly a loudmouth, thankfully I lack no amount of story telling. I think Alex, Alex’s girlfriend got the entire history of Rocker Tycoon and the Press (A tale that spans some 4 years now, and 3 then) over the course of the night. At around 1. I went home, relatively dry… I had a few, but aired out quite well. And I woke on Jan 1st hangover free.

Shortly into the year, I convinced Adam Copeland (Black Water/Meltdowns) and Gerry Griffin (Black Water/Meltdowns) to join me in creating a band. For a time Mike Horaz (I Am The Heat) stood in as our drummer. Eventually, Lloyd Naideck (Black Water/Meltdowns) settled in as our fulltime drummer. All the while Black Water was recording its second album Friendly Fire.

I practiced, overcame whatever minutia of stage fear I had lingering from childhood and we played our first show to friends in Jersey City with fellow bands, Holy City Zoo, Cryptkeeper Five and Black Water. Looking back I have to think, what an awesome line-up for my first show with Warface (our working name at the time). New friends I’d found in Holy City Zoo, old friends in Johnny and Jimmy of CK5 and my friends in Black Water 3/4 of which were in my band.

The show wasn’t exactly a packed house, but we had a blast. Played well and plenty of friends I hadn’t seen in a while came out. It was ideal to me.

Around March a new pal of mine and a Barback at my roomate’s bar, Dylan Hiester, convinced me it was time I start untapping again. I took his advice and did my first Tuesday Night Magic Draft of Innistrad Dark Ascension. I was made to feel welcome as I relearned a game I loved so well as a young adult. I remember playing Monique in round 1 or 2. She marveled at how quick I was progressing since my hiatus. “You’ve gotten better since last turn.” When I finally started doing things on her end step.

It was only a few months later I had built a deck, and began to play constructed… Two tournaments in I won the whole thing, to a very land screwed Rob Kofsky. The bug was full on! I was once again a Planeswalker.

Springtime. Warface played a show at Lucky 7 with I Am The Heat, Black Water, and Kntrlr. The Show was a rocket. Everyone had a great time and most of all we surprised some folks. “I had no idea you could sing!” was the exclamation most of my friends had. Hell to be honest neither did I!

Our next show was at the Pianoland Morgan Junction. We killed with They Live and Marvin Berry and the New Sound. I had a time so good I lost my voice the next day… Note to self: you might know the lyrics to the other bands’ songs don’t feel like you have to prove it.

Jersey City Bike Tour: Rained Out. But it’s here that we agreed a name change was in order. Adam and I agonized over a few weeks about whether we should or not then we just decided better now then later. Zac Clark and the Something… Adam argued under a small amount of protest by me that we should use what local celebrity I have in Jersey City and use my name in the band. I conceded that it’s easier to get folks out (especially after a year of promoting other bands) if they know the show is with my band. Zac Clark and the Griswolds was born.

A few weeks later we played a fundraiser for Steven Fulop for Mayor. Few rock bands have played the Zeppelin Hall beer garden in Jersey City. A 9 year old opened for Billy Alpha who opened for us. We ate chicken fingers and drank beer. We helped kick off a political campaign that I believe (no matter it’s result) will change this city for the better.

Right at the end of the summer. We released our first EP. This was momentous for several reasons. It was the first thing I’ve ever had to show for myself as a musician. Following in the footsteps of my forefathers. It was also a mark of success as a band. Now we wern’t just dicking around in the studio playing songs and then one shoting shows. Now we were recording music.

Summer fades. I begin writing Hipsters of the Coast. A blog that at the time detailed my return to Magic: the Gathering an has since become a sort of community forum. Like Rocker Tycoon, I’m now able to reach out to people in my hobby and I’ve since become good friends with my associates that help me on the blog by weighing in with their writings. Matt Jones, Li Xu, Rich Stein, Jess Lina and Giaco Furino have Renewed my thrill for writing and helped me feel like I’m making an impact locally. Even if it’s just a gaming blog.

Gerry Griffin leaves the band for the farmer’s life. We spend a few months looking for a new bassist. Someone who is into our sound, someone who digs Devo. Sam Fit the bill. He more than fit the bill in fact. I had serious concerns about the future of the band post Gerry, Lloyd and Adam assured me they were in this for the long haul. Or however novelty punk rock bands last. We officially welcome Sam in! Griswolds are once more a party of 4!

Fall comes. ZC&theGs played a show at the Lamp Post in Late Sept that really knocked it out of the park! Packed house a ton of friends and strong performances by our friends I Am The Heat, Tijuana Bibles and Secret Country. We’re all very excited and we booked a show with the Everymen for Halloween.

On the Magic front. Grand Prix Philadelphia comes up. I meet up with my buddy Stephano and new friends Brandon and Qu. We and my 20ss friends travel down to The City of Brotherly War (Magic Joke). I go 6-3 on day one narrowly missing day two. But doing super well for my first pro level tourney back. Hurricane Sandy cuts my Sunday short.

I spend the next few days playing cards with my childhood friend Harry. We play a lot of sealed (format of Grand Prix Philly) and then we decide to go to Lisbon at the end of November to play Magic!

Sandy ruins ZCGs for a month. Our studio gets robbed. And the Path makes getting to JC and Home a nightmare.

I finally get to BK. Something like Wednesday. The storm was Sunday/Monday.

November rushed through like bad Chinese food. I was busy with work and sparse Magic happened. Mid month I went on a date, and had a pretty excellent time. Her name is Victoria. We went on a few dates and corresponded during my trip to Lisbon.

Speaking of Lisbon… What a great time. Harry and I flew straight in and took a tour of the city with Taylor (our host and guide at the Oasis Hostel). This being Harry’s first time in another country, we wanted to get in as much of the travel experience as possible. Tours and drinking with locals, meeting new people! Great times, it’s been so long since I’ve been able to hang out with Harry like we did when we were growing up. There’s always some job or I’m traveling or working every weekend while he works the week. We end the trip with a huge Magic Tournament. GRAND PRIX LISBON. There’s a blog post about Lisbon that highlights my addiction to cardboard and energy drinks. So I won’t recant that here. Harry goes 4-5 (pretty good for a guy who plays a couple times a year!) and I go 5-4 not as good as Philly. Still not terrible.

I return from Lisbon, feeling pretty good about life. These trips remind me how good my life is. I’m in a rock band, I get to play games when I’m not working, and my jobs are pretty great! I’m bartending one of the coolest spots in Brooklyn. And I write for a Tattoo magazine as their travel writer.  Man, if I could go back and tell that to my 14 year old self he’d … Well let’s be honest he’d probably ask me if I made the pro tour yet. Next Year little buddy, next year.

So I’m back and I’m feeling good. And then I ask Victoria to be my girlfriend. She says yes! Which is a relief, for a few reasons. It’s hard asking someone to be your girlfriend when you’re 32. It seems like something teenagers do. Strange right?  Also she’s pretty awesome, and buys me cookies/ laughs at my terrible jokes.

That brings us to the present… Good Job, sweet lady that is content with her nerdy boyfriend and I’m playing some of the best magic I’ve played since 2000. Zac Clark and the Griswolds has a show coming up this New Years Eve with the Everymen at Lamp Post.

Things are looking mighty good, and nix all that crap about the Mayan apocalypse, I think it was most about a paradigm shift. Things are gonna start turning around for the human race perhaps. I hope things do at least. But not all at once, we need strife for the good music. There’s not much good music in the peace and harmony market.

That’s the year for me. Pretty wild when I look back to Jan 1, listening to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, to going on stage to sign off the New year. Good luck in the next one. Be safe, rock out, and always tap your land correctly.

Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

At the Mill Hill with the Cryptkeeper Five

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On the P.A.T.H. (the first leg of my journey to see the Cryptkeeper Five) I gripped the middle pole and dug down for the ensuing commute. I’m not one to nit pick other people’s train riding etiquette,(I mean, I didn’t invent PATH surfing I just made it sexy again!) but this fellow decides to lean on the pole and my hand! Now I’m a stubborn bastard myself, so I decided I wasn’t gonna move. So, he wasn’t moving and I wasn’t moving and there we were. Both of us locked in some kind of battle of wills. Finally, he moves away! I think I’ve won. Then with a new fervor he leans back onto my hand. Of course I’m too much of a gentleman to just speak up. I let go and and accept my defeat, a broken shell of a man. Time is 9:00pm.

Right! So I get onto the NJ TRANSIT north line from Newark to Trenton. The conductor scratches across the speaker some gibberish that I vaguely made out as English. Apparently there’s a train stuck in front of us, and for the rest of the ride the passengers will have to get out using the stairs. Just one door to get in and out! WTF! Time Check: 9:25. For once in my life I’m early for something. It’ll take about twenty mins to get to Trenton by my estimation. CK5 doesn’t go on until 11:15. So no worries there.

This is about the time when I realize that The North Line is alot like Dante’s Inferno. With Purgatory being Newark and Heaven,I guess, as New York City. The sexy electronic voice tones in, “This stop New Brunswick. Please check around you for all loose items and baggage upon leaving the train.” All the lecturers and alcoholics line up in a precession to their perspective circle of the Hell that is North Jersey. After about twenty mins of marching, the train lurches forward. 9:45, No prob still fine. Princeton: Liars and Prophets. Another 10mins, at least they were getting faster. 9:55. Hamilton: Sinners of Wrath and Sorcerors?! (IDK man, gimme a goddamn break! There’s a theme here. Just follow it!) At 10:05 I rolled into Trenton with the real deviants and mutineers. Trenton station on a Friday night is really no joke. Call me crazy, but the quack of the odd duck is apparent all about the place. As I’m waiting for my rendezvous, I see the whole sideshow. I think as I traversed the platform the greatest of these was a trannie applying make up in the station. Right there in plain site. I mean hey I’m all for the alternative lifestyle, but come on sister, making the “transformation” in public is a bit slapdash don’t you think? I phone my friend Dan Chung, whom I had conspired to meet for the show earlier that night.

Dan pulls up and we get to the Mill Hill. At first glance the Mill Hill is a corner bar, that on the inside looks much like a saloon should. We never ventured into the top level though. The venue itself is located in the Basement. Cover was $5. Which was more than acceptable.

Let me take this moment to say that I never ask to be put on a list or any of that nonsense. This is local music, if you can’t pay the five bucks to support the scene, I say go back home. This used to bother the crap out of me when I worked shows. A band shows up to a basement show with a guest roster the size of a spoiled nine year old’s wish list to Santa. BANDS: It’s your duty to make sure people come to the shows and pay that is why you were booked! Tell ’em to ante up! Ok, that rant is over. Sorry. Someone needs to say it! I had to step up.

Now, I was saying, upon entering the Basement of the Mill Hill I’m greeted with a huge Sign that reads in black and white, “MILL HILL BASEMENT, Underground Music, Underground.” Clever. I’d say that the place itself could hold something like 50-60 people if packed in like a sardine can. I give the Singer (Johnny) a text to let him know I’m here. As Dan and I are waxing Intellectual about the overall vibe of the place, Johnny comes over greets us warmly and I recant how I found out about the band. He introduces us to the rest of the guys as well. Jay West on Bass, Jimmy Ray Guitar and Vocals, D.T. Graves on Drums and Ceilidh “Blue” Madigan or Mr. “M” on the Sax and Vocals. It’s a weird thing meeting a band you dig and actually having a normal conversation with them. It’s hard to explain, I’m always afraid that I’m going to come of as this crazed groupie, worshipping the very ground they walk on. Somehow my dignity holds true and I manage to play it cool. The conversation ranged from the ride down to the venue itself. I explain myself (The RockerTycoon) to the fellas and grab a Hop Devil from the very cute very friendly bartender. I should mention the first band (Super Consumers) is just getting finished setting up, and sound testing. I give my equipment a test and loosen up to take a few shots.

As I go back for my bag to switch lenses I run into Tim from Honah Lee. I’ll Be interviewing Honah Lee in my next blog they’ll be at the IMAC in Jersey City on Friday. We exchange hellos as Super Consumers start up. I excuse myself and get to work. It’s been a little while since I’ve shot a band in a basement so getting light and exposure down is going to take a test. I say all that to say this, I like shooting bands other than just the one I came to see, some times you get something pretty cool and you almost always make a new friend here or there. I’m actually quite proud of this shot of the Super Consumers‘ Lead Singer. They play what seems like a limited sized set 6-7 songs I think. They threw in a cover of that Cranberries song “Zombie”! I always dug that song, and not just for the muted horror reference. They finish up we chat for a few as CK5 sets up and I let them know what I’m about. Hopefully this won’t be the last time you hear from those cats at Rocker Tycoon.

I decide thanks to my trusty mini tripod that I can just tape the whole show while I’m shooting. Which is great because it’s hard to rock out and video at the same time. About three songs in Johnny gives the a nod and they kick right into Incorruptible: The Death of Hope II. I’m pysched! I turn to Dan, I can tell he likes what he hears (this is within 5 hours of introducing him to the band). Johnny asks Blue if hes having a good time, Blue shouts out that he loves it, he could write a love song about it! Johnny Explains its a new one from their upcoming album record D.T. starts it up….. and they once again explode into rock! Meanwhile Jimmy Ray, Johnny, Blue and Jay all trade off vocals. Jimmy Ray and Jay throw some “OOOOOOHHHHH WOAHS!” out there and this continues for what really doesn’t seem longer enough.

Flashback to talking with the band right before the set; Jay and I were talking and I confessed that I was really hoping to hear “The Desperate Man……the Deadweight”, which had been a real anthem of mine since first hearing about the band while in North Carolina summer of 2005. Ian Harker a long time friend and rock confidant hit me up via the Myspace and told me about the band. That song was on their page and it really endeared me to their sound. Flashforward; four and a half years later and Jay lets me know in hushed tones that I won’t be disappointed! RAD!

Johnny informs a very charged crowd that they only have time for 3 more songs. I have to admit I was getting a little nervous about Jay’s promise. I’m not gonna leave you in suspense, the last three songs did include my request! They finished the set to a thundering of applause, yipping and hollering, I supplied my effort for the fanfare as well. This is what its all about, five guys sweating it out to rock N roll in a basement in Trenton!

The guys, Dan and I retired to the upper section of the Mill Hill (heh, how about that I was up there at one point!). I got this wonderful conversation on video between myself and CK5! It’s 12 mins longer and the focus gets dodgy in the middle for a sec, but the message being conveyed is well worth your time. It’s some of my best work yet. The pictures certainly are without a doubt!
OH man! I almost forgot… we finished the interview I look at the time and it’s 12:50! “So what!” You say to me in a tone that could only serve as punctuation to your ignorance to the NJ Transit North Line Schedule! Well, good reader, the Train leaves at 1:02am! THE LAST TRAIN! The 3:10 to Yuma, if you will. Dan puts the pedal to the metal as we get into the Danmobil, his Honda Element. RED LIGHT….12:55……Green light! RED LIGHT! 12:59. Dan looks ready to run it. I wave him off that notion, as I consider myself a man of chance, running the light would be like stacking the deck! Arriving at the station briskly at 1:03. I tumble down the stairs just in time to hear the chime of the closing doors. Like the defunct Indiana Jones I am, I dive into the doors and they close behind me. Of course the conductor looks at me quizzically and says “Nice dive, I would have opened the doors back up man.” The train rolls out. “Sure you would, man, sure you would!”

Written by rockertycoon

March 3, 2009 at 1:15 am