Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

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

Archive for the ‘Tiny Giant’ Category

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

Disc Deconstruction: Holy City Zoo – Nobody Sells For Less

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Holy guitar rock, Batman!  The Zoo (Holy City Zoo, that is) is back and bringing it full frontal with their new EP Nobody Sells for Less.  The only Crazy Eddie these cats evoke is Iron Maiden’s mascot, though.  What I mean is that this album is not a Ponzi scheme or some kind of tax fraud to off shore accounts, this is red blooded american hardcore.  Finally something I can clench my fist, bare my teeth and keep my chin upto.  Lets dissect this bugger.


War World 5?  Not sure, but I’ll say this: The build into the song is great!  A little guitar then forceful drums coinciding vocals, then like a stealth bomber she takes off!  The chorus rockets off with lead guitar that sounds like its out of an Ikari Warriors reboot for a game system that’s not out yet.  The bridge is a battlefield of guitar.  A lil calm vocal action then climax and it dies out…


… ONLY To blast back off with Afterburner’s hot riff!  She flows into the chorus with dueling vocals… or are they Mexican stand-off vocals? (If this album was made in Mexico they’d just be stand-off vocals).  Back to the riff, then we calm down for a build.  And lead guitar sounds like a dive-bomb at the peak!  Whoa!  Ending with a top off.  I imagine some kind of Blue Angels figure four deal fading into the sunset, Top Gun Style.

Paper Beats Rock

Spillpeak Media’s Al Vasquez put together a sick video of this song.   More reminiscent of HCZ’s previous EP.  Pay attention to the the flourishes between vocals on drum and guitar right before the breakdown.  That’s one thing about the Zoo, they give you a respite before utterly destroying your face with temperatures approaching absolute infinity.  They end it with a little piece of universal truth which is also the song title. And a hard stop.


This could be a b-side from Foo-Fighter’s first Album.  The lead-in is followed by a wheeling guitar part and a call/respond vocal part.  This is the album’s anthem for sure!  Theres a violent trade off on guitar and bass… a small break and a solid piece of drumwork then the fade out.  Nobody Sells For Less leaves you as classically as it entered.

So there you are kids.  One for the record books!  You can find this wonderful EP over at HCZ’s Bandcamp.

Written by rockertycoon

February 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Disc Deconstruction: IMPOSTER – Cicada Radio

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I have to assume that with Killing Horse Records recently picking up Cicada Radio and a new Release (possibly even a full length) is likely in the works if not at least on the mental horizon.  I’m interested to see what comes of it.  That said their IMPOSTER EP is long long over due for a deconstruction.  I described this album as Hardcore with Heart.  I’m gonna back up that statement now.  Contrary to the darker tones of this EP the Fellas from CR are actually pretty happy dudes, and from pictures I shot from Friday Night at Brick City Sound Riot They are Wrestling fans.  Chris D’Ambrosio seems to be the real ham off stage.  While Pat and Mike Keefe take center stage and Michael Kundrath lays down a heavy supporting role and breaks indie chick hearts with one flip of his luxurious hair do (Yea, maybe I’m a little jealous).  Since it’s an EP I’ll take the time to break down my thoughts on each song.  Download it over at and listen along.

1. Open Wide

This is my favorite song on the album.  If you listen closely you can hear what sounds like a woodwind instrument of some kind.  Thats actually backing vocals with a soft “oooooohhh”.  The pace is great for an opener and this song is the most approachable of their catalog.  Meaning you can dance to this.  I can actually still see them performing this live at 4th Street fest, complete with the backing “ooooohs”

2. Storm the Castle

This track can also be found on the Tiny Giant Comp Vol 1 + 2.  Drums lead and rhythm guitar come in to create a somber vibe.  By the chorus there’s a technical pick-up and you’ll see how they’ve created something really cool here.  While keeping to a steady and slow tempo there’s a drop off that proves how much is going on with a void of silence.  You can hear the metal influences and the alternative style inherent in Cicada Radio’s style.  The Breakdown at the end is especially great, with backing vocals coming in and recanting the moans a previous 20 seconds.

3. Throw it Away

Another one you can dance to!  It’s also the hardest.  We have some metal screams and vocals really strain out on this.  Wait there are those “Ooooooohs” again!  You have a really great organized chaos, with that signature void, followed by a manic entry to the breakdown.  Drums end the song with a flourish and a final strum on guitar.

4. Sleeper Hold

What a great way to end the album!  It starts with this raining sound and leads in with acoustic guitar.  This is a heavy song, lyrically speaking.  It’s on my “late night coming back from Jersey City at 4am to head home to Brooklyn” mix on my ipod.  It’s a perfect cooldown to the album.  “All I wanna do is hold you. Just not now, couldn’t anyhow.”  Fuck there’s a lot of feeling there.

Solid music all the way through with a nice range.  Two slower tunes and two more upbeat.  Cicada Radio is another Tiny Giant band.  A collective of local bands quickly encompassing North Jersey, BK and surrounding areas.   Expect more from TG as the months roll forward and While you’re at it and since you dig free music, pick up the compilations too.  In conclusion I have to say I haven’t hung out with these guys enough.  All four are total characters and I’m looking forward to their show on Dec 3 at Lamp Post with Holy City Zoo and Meet/Pause.

Written by rockertycoon

November 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Disc Deconstruction: Meet/Pause Cluster Cascade EP

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I always have my fears when I’m checking out new material.  Especially when I become really invested in a band.  There’s a fear that the new music just won’t resonate with me the way the old stuff did.  There’s a bit of a “getting to know you” period (I like to call this the game of who the fuck are you) that most bands’ new stuff evokes.  These feelings and fear where no different with Meet/Pause’s new Cluster Cascade EP.  So go to and download it for free (I’ll wait) and Let’s Break it down…

1. Cell Blocks & River Docks

The album starts out in classic emotive rock fashion.  A few notes some silence then we get into the meat and potatoes.  The album’s longest song by just over two minutes summons up a a pretty epic guitar love/hate ballad.  By the third line it’s getting pretty dark and rocking out, Scott’s vocals are accusing and assertive.  Graeme’s work on the skins is beyond excellent and really drives this song.  You can’t beat the chorus either! The song switches from manic to depressive and back again.  It feels nostalgic, maybe i’m just projecting my slap dash love life.

2. (Don’t) Get the F*ck Out of Jersey 

Oh I like this one!  This mad as hell and it’s not gonna take it anymore.  “If you can’t stand to be around (Then get the fuck out!)”  I can’t wait to see them live cuz I wanna yell that out in a crowded room.  I might just go to a restaurant and do it anyway.  Start with the drums and that fucking catchy guitar riff.  This song has it!  Whatever it is, more more more of this.  It’s the same feeling I get when I Hear Long Way down by the Goo Goo Dolls (when I listened to the Goo Goo Dolls).  and wait for the break down with the keys and bass!  Put that shit on a mixtape and send it off to your ex girl friend.  When she texts you that she doesn’t have a tape deck text her a picture of you flipping her the bird!

3. Cluster Cascade

The Title Track… the albums slows down for a little sing long.  Artifacts of Get-up Kids, Brand New, and Funeral for Friend come through.  This song has a great potential for live shows.  I’m not totally sold though, I think of this track as a sort of intermission to the album.

4. Lakes, Ladders, Laboratories

Back to the rock!  Guitar comes in hard followed by keys and lead guitar.  This is a bit more hopeful than the rest of their catalog.  Of all their songs this is the most danceable.  This feels like I’m in the fight/race scene from a sci fi movie set in the future where the vehicles are made of psychic projection and whatever it was in Ghost that made Patrick Swayze be about to move shit.

5. Coworkers

Someone has dipped his pen in the company ink!  And it went very very wrong.  Thats what I get from this song.  Or it’s about to get very wrong.  I’m not totally sure.  This is a perfect end to the album.  Get breakdown on keys, nice and simple with a little power guitar.  It’s the end of the movie song when the hero decides he has to choose between responsibility to humanity or banging Mary Jane and he (surprising) walks off into the sunset.

In summation, I was not disappointed.  On the contrary I was quite thrilled.  Meet/Pause still has it!  This is surely a herald of things to come.  One of the last unabashedly local “emo” bands does an excellent job of staying true to their sound and evolving as well.  I’ve labeled them as emergency rock.  Listen to the album, and you’ll see, it’s urgent it’s pleading and it’s tempo rises and falls at the right points.  It’s free too so if you can’t afford it/ your just being lazy.

Written by rockertycoon

October 16, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Posted in E.P., Meet/Pause, Tiny Giant

To Ben Franklin: A Farewell but Never a Goodbye

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Apologies if this comes out strange, it’s the first time I’ve had to write one of these.  Today I got some pretty heartbreaking news, and I’d be doing an injustice to both the band and the reader if I didn’t react in some manner to it.  As Rocker Tycoon, I’ve long walked a line with bands as a trusted friend and a trusted ear not to mention a journalist.  I wonder if my next step is the right one often, I’m hoping that, in this, I err on the side of friend over journalist.

Today Ben Franklin officially broke up.  Typing that last sentence was possibly one of the harder things I’ve done since I started this blog over two years ago.  One of the bands that really helped put my faith in this scene, they’ve all also been excellent friends and many times confidants to me.  I guess I should start by telling you about how I came across these kids.

It was at Boro 6 Fest at Teirney’s Tavern when I first met Billy Gray.  Totally enthusiastic, and had apparently been reading about what I do for some time, I gotta say I was still dealing with my new found rock blogger status and wasn’t quite sure what to make of him.

A month or two later he came and personally put his new LP in my hand.  I listened to it later that night and pretty much didn’t stop listening to it for a solid month.

Billy invited me to come see the Press and Ben Franklin at Public Assembly.  Barely acquaintances at this time I was just happy to get out and see some bands, and hang out with folks in a new social circle.  The fellas in the Press and I had several run ins and things were set up for a great night.  There wasn’t a hugh crowd (it was a Monday) but I can tell you I was screaming my heart out to this (at the time) threesome from Brooklyn.

In coming months Billy and Eddie invited me out to shows.  I met Billy’s girlfriend, now wife, Gonul.  And I continued to rock out at shows.  Many times inviting a date along too.  They met a lot of dates, and helped me put into perspective my love life when things took a wild turn or just didn’t work out.

I’d chat with Sarah and Eddie at shows about the scene and how we were all working on something so much bigger than we are.  Eddie would tell me about the scene on the west coast he was involved in and I would talk about New Brunswick during my time there.  They’d turn me on to new bands, and some old bands.  And helped me with ideas for the blog just by chatting with me about it.  Sometimes they were just a sounding board for whatever bullshit I was going through at the bar I was working at and how I was thinking about moving on and getting more involved with writing.

When Adam joined the band we became fast friends, his astounding love of geekery, an obvious compliment to mine.  Another action/emotion guy added to the band and my growing list of close friends by now in this scene.

When Eric Moeller of SPILLPEAK Media invited me to a show in New Brunswick to see them at McCormick’s I couldn’t turn it down, and I met several new friends in the Tiny Giant Artist collective.  Ben Franklin played their only show they didn’t end with Fren Banklin that night.

The list of intimate moments between myself and the band could go on for weeks.  I’ve written about every show I’ve been to of their’s.  That’s a sort of amazing blessing that I have the ability to look back and see this band grow over the last two years with me.

With the disillusion of the band we have Sarah going on tour to return one day on a white horse like Gandolf at the end of Two Towers.  Adam is in Black Water, a highly awesome band that is every bit as great as Ben Franklin.  That leaves my buds Billy and Eddie.  If this break sticks (and a lot of us are praying it doesn’t) I can’t for a second imagine that these two very talented, very dynamic fellows won’t continue making music.  I look forward to either option and they both know I’ll make their first shows come hell or high water.

So, here I am at the end of this and I’ll admit, I’m fighting back the tears.  In fact, I’m not really doing a very good job of that.  Adam, Sarah, Eddie and Billy I know I’ll see you all soon, together or separately.  I love you guys, I appreciate the hell out of all your support and everything you’ve done to inspire the rest of us in the scene.  I’m gonna miss those glances and nods you guys give me from the stage as I’m standing in the front singing along.  I guess I’ll leave you with a final note, keep in your hearts and minds how important your music was/is to a lot of us out there, not to mention each other.  When you look back at Ben Franklin, look back with pride, smile and see if you can still see me singing my voice out in the front.

I wish you all the best of Luck.   I don’t really know what else I can say….

Zac Clark, Rocker Tycoon

Written by rockertycoon

September 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Brick City Bios: Tiny Giant

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More many merely records Tiny Giant is a local rock support group (Hello, I’m Zac Clark and I’m a rockaholic).  Emcompassing, so many bands a list would be ridiculous, Brick City Sound Riot is as much a brain child of this community as it is anyone’s.  Although the homebase in located in the seedy depths of a New Brunswick basement, it’s tentacles reach as far as Brooklyn and even toward Philly.    Tonight they are releasing a compilation with 7 bands it goes live at 7pm get it while it’s hot!

Written by rockertycoon

August 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm