Interview with Framing Dakota: The Psychedelic Love Pop Band by Nick NJ

 photo framingdakotaMED_zps68cfdddb.jpg
An interview with Framing Dakota conducted by our guest writer, Nick NJ 
Yes, the above is true. Psychedelic Love Pop, and that’s the best description of the amalgamation that is Framing Dakota. Taking it’s influence from a myriad of musical influences, from 60’s icons such as The Byrds and The Doors to crooner Tony Bennett, the current lineup consists of Glen Vistica (vocals), Stephen McManus (12 string guitar), Patrick Carbone (6 string guitar), Walter Ullrich (bass), and Scott Wilson (drums).  

Formed in the early 1990’s, the group has withered a near record deal, the changing tide of musical trends, and a breakup. However, after reconciling a few years ago after a ten year hiatus, the New Jersey based band reunited and discovered their passion for music, touring, and each other. With an EP available as a digital download thought their website and club dates on the horizon, I recently caught up with them at a band rehearsal to explore the origins of this (nearly) lost eclectic band. 

NJ: Where did the name come from? 

GV: I wanted to name it Dakota. But it didn’t sound hard enough. 

SM: We arrived at Here’s the Bullet, but what happened was in the mid 90’s, this guy on the Empire State Building shot these people. And the press was all with this guns and bad stuff, and we were called Here’s the Bullet. And we thought, “This is bad. This is just bad.” True story. We decided, at that point, to get rid of the bullet name. We were changing sounds.

SW: We used to sound more heavier, really heavy.

GV: Well, that was a different band.

SM: We were getting more with the twelve string, the lighter stuff, more melodic. And that’s what really drove us into morphing into Framing Dakota.

GV: I found the name in a book (based on Native Americans). I wanted to play off that, that Indian spirit. We got back together, everyone agreed, and it felt great, it felt fantastic. We all discovered how much we missed the music, and the love we have for each other. So that was four years ago, and then we started to write again.

NJ: How does the writing process work? 

GV: Usually, one of these two guys (Stephen and Pat) has a lick, we go off of it with a verse and a chorus and I rearrange it.

SW: Our songs change a lot. 

GV: I usually end up writing the lyrics, but everyone contributes to the music. Some of the songs were written fifteen years ago, and they sound better because we sound better.  
SW: There’s a lot of creative freedom.

NJ: What would you call your sound?

PC: Psychedelic love pop. 

GV: We can’t really describe ourselves, what we sound like. I usually say 60’s meets 80’s and 90’s. It’s tough, it’s really tough to categorize what we sound like. 

SW: Reviewers have said that, that (our sound) is tough to categorize. 

NJ: What are your musical influences? If you had to pick one that influenced your sound, who would you pick?

SM: The Byrds.

PC: Neil Young, Steven Stills, The Church.

SW: There’s so many great jazz drummers, but musically, a lot of 70’s bands.

SM: Y’know, if there was one decade that fired all of us up, it was the punk stuff, the energy of that. That’s the fuel.

PC: It’s almost like Method acting when we play, and that’s why I like it (the band), you get a wide range. Sometimes we can play soft, and then other times we can really kick it. 

GV: Tony Bennett, Chris Isaak, Bryan Ferry, Raul Malo of The Mavericks, Jim Morrison, Ian McCulloch, y’know, people we grew up with. Morrison was a big influence on me.

PC: We all have influences, and some of them are similar, some of them are different, but really it meshes together and it’s its own animal, and that’s Framing Dakota, it’s own thing. 

NJ: You guys have played a variety of venues: The Saint in Asbury Park, Northern Soul in Hoboken, and even Macy’s. 

SM: And hospitals. 

GV: Yes, we dig playing benefits. As long as we like the cause, we’re all for it. But yeah, we’ll play almost anywhere that has the cred.

NJ: You play mostly in Jersey?

SM: We’re definitely Jersey based, but we’re looking into expanding into the neighboring states.

NJ: So you have an EP that was released last month?

GV: Yes, last month, digitally. And the physical copies soon.

PC: That’s for the download or our regular website, which is 

NJ: How do you feel about the years you’ve all been together, then the layoff, and the reunion? Do you feel that layoff helped you musically?

GV: Yes, we sound a lot better and we’re a lot better with our craft. We loved playing back then, but we had someone representing us to get a record deal, so it got cloudy at times. Now, if something happens, great, but we keep playing. We love to play. I think that’s what makes us, the emotion, the charge, the energy.

PC: I loved playing bass back in the day with the band, but I really love playing guitar with this guy over here (SM). I think me and him got something special going on together, the way we kinda weave the guitar lines around each other. We’re both doing a lot of cool stuff, but we’re not stepping on each other’s toes. We keep it interesting while we’re playing. I dig what we’re doing.

SM: Yeah, and create songs, new tones and compositions. 

NJ: I notice when you guys play, you play with the same level of energy all the time.

GV: I don’t think we know any other way to play. Some nights, someone might be tired and it changes things a little bit.

SW: From my experience too, being with a lot of bands, including this one back when we were first together, I pulled back depending on the venue if it called for it. Never worked. It came across better and plays better when you put more emotion into it, even if it’s a little on the loud side or something. You let go of that and just play, you get better results. 

GV: I think it’s natural to feed off the energy. If people are digging the set, like at our last show, then we connect with the people. That’s what’s really special. 

WU: I’ve known Pat for 39 years, and these guys are great. I enjoy the music. I liked it before I played it, and I’m having fun. 

Framing Dakota is a step outside of the box, yet is firmly rooted in the familiar world of rock n roll, just with their own aura. It’s not just about the music; it is also about the fans, the emotions, and the love. 

Next up, they’ll be playing Rock to Stop Diabetes, a concert to benefit the American Diabetes Association on November 15th. For more dates and other news, visit their website at

by Nick NJ

Sweet Fix and Tim Jacobus Reveal New Artwork!


Usually, I’m not one to get a lot of phone calls. Although, not too long ago, a phone call came in from Ivan Anderson, guitarist from the band Sweet Fix that I reviewed here recently. Any time I’ve spoken to Ivan he always has a very enthusiastic tone and I appreciate that. He’s got such a passion for his music and also for pop culture stuff in general. This has lead him to read The Sexy Armpit on many occasions. He noticed our post about New Jersey native Tim Jacobus’ “It Came From New Jersey,” during the 2013 Halloween Countdown, and he called me without hesitation. Hmm, did he want to invite me to an upcoming Sweet Fix show? Did he want to challenge me to a public debate about the role and impact on society of ’80s sitcom neighbors? WHAT WAS IT? Now I needed to know, so I actually had a real live phone conversation with him.

“You’re never gonna believe this…” Ivan blasted. When he started mentioning the post I wrote about Goosebumps artist Tim Jacobus, he thought it was such an amazing coincidence that the news he was about to break to me also involved Mr. Jacobus. Strange and eerie things must have been afoot during the Halloween Countdown!
Ivan finally cut to the chase. His band Sweet Fix had enlisted none other than legendary artist Tim Jacobus to do a balls-out piece of art featuring the band in Goosebumps style. Mind blown!
It was difficult figuring out what was more amazing, the news about Tim’s Sweet Fix artwork OR the fact that this came into play right around the same time that my post went up. And we did not coordinate this effort in any way. 
Since Tim’s artwork of the band had been done for a while now, all that was left for Sweet Fix was to unveil it somehow. Sure they could’ve just threw it up on their website and had everyone click LIKE or comment “Cool!,” but they wanted to do something a little more elaborate to commemorate it. 
The band knows that I am a New Jersey Pop Culture maniac, so this was the reason for Ivan’s call. The logistics were set, the time, the place, and all we needed was for Tim to be on board. Being the awesome motherf*cker that he is, he was happy to be a part of it. The “It” that I am referring to is the  video we filmed to discuss this incredible collaboration.
Posted above is my conversation with Sweet Fix and Tim Jacobus, filmed by Mike Wirth (@idiotatplay on Twitter) at the Union Plaza Diner in Union, NJ (naturally a diner, we’re in New Jersey!) In it we talk all about the album, Tim’s Goosebumps covers, and of course, we unveil Tim’s artwork of the band. Enjoy!

KISS Slot Machines Now In Atlantic City, NJ!

 photo kissslotmachineACNJ_zpsb37e2abc.jpg

For a while Miss Sexy Armpit and I thought that we’d have to go back to Vegas to play the new KISS slot machines, but this weekend we were proven wrong! It was a big surprise to see them at Harrah’s resort which was awesome.

Visually the machines look badass. The game play itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but naturally, it’s KISS-ified. There are a few different bonus games, but after playing 2 different machines, none of them popped up! BOO! One of the neighboring machines had a few bonuses so we were able to check them out. They were pretty cool and showed some concert footage and had you choose from various album covers to unlock more credits or another bonus game. The game plays a few KISS songs. The ones we heard included “Detroit Rock City,” and “I Was Made For Loving You.”
I’m happy that KISS is finally represented in Atlantic City. So far we’ve got Batman, Ghostbusters, The Phantom, Playboy, and now KISS. Not too many more left – I’m pretty happy with the selection!

Sleigh Bells Detonate House of Blues in Atlantic City

Video I shot of “Rill Rill” – skip to 1:59. Where Did Alexis Go?
‘Twas the night of May 12th and all through the House of Blues, not a creature was stirring until their tickets were scanned. And Miss Sexy Armpit gambling at Showboat and I in the chilly venue without a coat waiting for Sleigh Bells to take the stage. 2 opening bands failed to impress me. The first berated us with chaotic screams and the other made me doze off, both of their names escape me. Fortunately, I wouldn’t have to wait much longer to hear the ringing of the Bells.

Finally at almost 11 O’Clock there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my seat to see the spectacle on stage. The colored lights cut through the fog and beamed on the breast of a retro raven haired siren. With her kinetic energy and ability to arouse, I knew in a minute it must be Alexis Krauss. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a wall of Marshall amps and 2 blazing guitarists, Derek and Jason.


Every song dropped a barrage of beats provided by a DJ on the side of the stage. The songs pumped into me like bullets. Sleigh Bells blasted into tracks from both of their albums Treats, and Reign of Terror, including the head bopping “Kids,” their latest track, “Comeback Kid,” “Tell ‘Em,” “Treats” “Infinity Guitars,” “Rill Rill,” and “Riot Rhythm.”

The band amped the crowd up with these supercharged songs. During “Rill Rill,” after basically falling off the stage trying to get down from it, Krauss dove onto the raised hands of the audience as they floated her around for a bit. After their last song, Krauss got back on the mic and thanked everyone and also threw in a little tongue in cheek tidbit about herself for those of us keeping track, “This is the first first stage I ever fell off…” I say make the t-shirt! I WAS THERE WHEN ALEXIS KRAUSS FELL OFF THE F’N STAGE AT H.O.B ATLANTIC CITY!

Sleigh Bells LIVE sounds even better than on an iPod. It’s hard to capture their juxtaposition of madness and etherealness merely via earbuds. Sometimes bands’ live performances are disappointing when you go into a show expecting to hear the songs the way you know them from their studio album, but Sleigh Bells replicates their songs flawlessly. Krauss’ dancing, the barrage of lights, and all the guitar shredding only served to enhance the songs and create a totally exhilarating experience.

If you can only wrap you’re head around music from the contestants of American Idol, then Sleigh Bells may not be for you. The band skillfully mixes pure modern pop hooks with an enormous rock sound and an electro hip-hop cheerleader vibe. You get all that?

Do you remember hearing Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Beastie Boys and Nirvana for the first time? All very different bands, but they were huge game changers. They made you take notice, they made you want to listen to the same album over and over and over again. Sleigh Bells has become the most recent band to make me want to listen to their tracks on loop. Their musical approach is fresh and surprising. Their two albums are constructed with a zigzag of minimalism, melody, and riffs, all layered with lush harmonies throughout.

After their show at House of Blues in Atlantic City, seeing Sleigh Bells LIVE again is a must, but I’ll have to wait until to they come back to New Jersey! Chances are, they will be back again sometime soon since Krauss is a Jersey girl and a future Garden State Playmate, no doubt!

Before the traditional ending, let me say that House of Blues A.C is one of the coolest venues to see a show in Atlantic City. It’s right on the boardwalk and has a real rock and roll vibe where Sleigh Bells knocked me out with their brilliant high powered stage show. They are on tour now so I recommend checking them out next time they come to your area, and until then…to all a good night!

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 90: The Misfits For Christmas!

The Grinch is a mean one…and a FIEND!!!

It’s never been depicted on a map and Santa Claus isn’t even aware of it, but right beside the Island of Misfit Toys lies the Island of Fiends. Everyone who resides there is covered in ghoulish fiend makeup and Misfits songs are piped through speakers all over the island. During Christmas you might see a lot of people wearing these holiday themed Misfits t-shirts. The first one features a fiendish creature who bares a resemblance to The Grinch and is rocking a skeleton jacket and gloves. We know The Grinch is a humbug, but who knew he was such a punk?

The Misfits Santa T-Shirt
What do you think this scary Santa will leave for you under your tree? Maybe The Misfits latest album The Devil’s Rain? I’d like to have The Misfits record a cover of “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year” from the scene on the Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer specifically for me!

Steel Panther’s Stix Zadinia, A Jersey Drummer!

Steel Panther are the Viagra addicted, horny hair metal sons of Spinal Tap. The band has been on a tear since 2003’s Hole Patrol, and 2009’s Feel The Steel. Just a  few weeks ago Steel Panther released their latest album BALLS OUT available through iTunes, Amazon or wherever you BUY music. Don’t illegally download this album because these m’fers need the money. Especially Stix cause he’s obviously been in therapy ever since missing out on the chance of drumming for Bon Jovi. Read all about the Jersey drummer in his bio pictured above that appeared in  Feel The Steel‘s CD booklet.

The Sexy Armpit Theme Song Is Soooo Sexy!

Lipstick and Cigarettes Premiered The Sexy Armpit Theme Song LIVE on 11/4!

If asking a band to write a theme song for you sounds like an egotistical stunt, it probably is. But in the case of The Sexy Armpit, we needed an original theme for the intro of our upcoming YouTube show.  I had a very specific sound in mind and when I approached one of our favorite NJ bands, Lipstick and Cigarettes, during one of their rehearsals (wearing a ski mask and a gun in hand), first they were alarmed, but they grew very receptive to my scheme.

Lipstick and Cigarettes played a show at Frankensound Studios in North Brunswick on Friday night November 4th and they mentioned that they would have a little surprise in store for us. As a little preview to the final recording, L and C premiered The Sexy Armpit Theme Song LIVE! Check out the video above!

Lipstick and Cigarettes’ Sexy Armpit Surprise!

Lipstick and Cigarettes

No plans tonight? C’mon, it’s Friday! My typical Friday night usually involves eating pizza and passing out on the couch, but tonight will be different. Sexy Armpit favorites Lipstick and Cigarettes are performing at Frankensound Studios in North Brunswick tonight. There’s a rumor that the band has a special surprise for The Sexy Armpit! I wonder what it could be? Be there tonight to find out!

The fresh retro/new wave inspired Lipstick and Cigarettes have an EP available on iTunes and they’re presently working on new material. Also performing tonight are The Amboys, Red Wolf Forest, Indiana Bones, and Elevator Art.

Frankensound Studios
832 Ridgewood Ave.
North Brunswick NJ 08902

Slippery When Wet’s 25th Anniversary

PhotobucketMany readers of The Sexy Armpit who don’t know me in real life think I’m always bashing Bon Jovi…and I am. The thing is, I’m a huge Bon Jovi fan at the same time. You see, Bon Jovi is not the same band as they were when I was growing up. The cool rock stars from a few miles down the road who lived and breathed rock and roll are long gone. I guess sitting on billions of dollars sucked all the coolness and rock and roll out of them too. The guys hungry for stardom who worked with famed songwriter Desmond Child in Richie Sambora’s basement once upon a time creating what would become one of the most iconic rock albums of all time have taken a wrong turn on the road to rock.

I want none of this “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” crap or this “(You Want to) Make a Memory” bullshit. The modern Bon Jovi completely ignores the hard edged pop rock they once produced because they believe it isn’t lucrative anymore. Let’s be honest – I think Bon Jovi would become even more popular than they ever were if they released a really kickass hard rock song with a catchy chorus like they used to do back in the ’80s. People worship those songs. Do you really think people hanging out in bars 20 years from now are going to be sliding dollar bills into a space age jukebox to hear “When We Were Beautiful?” F-ck no. They want to hear the good stuff!

It’s simple, if you want to relive some of Bon Jovi’s greatest musical achievements then go into your iTunes and listen to their 1986 album Slippery When Wet in it’s entirety. It’s one of the greatest rock albums of all time and it’s sold 28 million copies worldwide. Even if you’re not a Bon Jovi fan, respect must be given to this album for it’s prominence in pop culture. Go to a wedding, a beach bar, a barbecue, or sporting event and chances are you will hear a song from Slippery When Wet. You know them whether you like to admit it or not, here we go: “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Never Say Goodbye,” and of course the song that’s almost as popular with drunk women as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” – “Livin’ On a Prayer.” Oh and I can’t forget one of my personal favorites, a song I share fondness for with Barf from Spaceballs, “Raise Your Hands.”

And now, easily one of Bon Jovi’s greatest tracks:


NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 75: Lipstick and Cigarettes

Lipstick and Cigarettes covering Duran Duran’s “Rio”

Lipstick and Cigarettes performed last Friday night at The Saint in Asbury Park and The Sexy Armpit was in attendance. L&C are quickly becoming a fixture to the NJ pop rock scene which is awesome. The band’s music (which is available on iTunes and elswhere) is a modern take on the ’80s new wave pop rock style. Their hard work is paying off since they’ve been in rotation at local college radio stations and they’re playing some great gigs in the coming months. I recorded their cover of Duran Duran’s “Rio” which was chosen by the winner of their T-Shirt contest they held at their Facebook page. You can see them live at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick on Saturday, April 16th.

Their first official T-shirt is now available at ALL Lipstick and Cigarettes shows!
Lipstick and Cigarettes are also featured in: