A veteran of a couple of touring bands, Mikey Pellegrino of the Asbury Park indie-rock trio latewaves chats about, among other things, returning to the Warped Tour to play July 14 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.
For now, all is right with the rock ‘n’ roll universe because Asbury Park-based indie-rock trio latewaves are playing the final Warped Tour on July 14 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, with fellow Jersey act The Stolen as well as Mayday Parade, Every Time I Die, Hatebreed and more.
Drummer Shawna Grabowski, singer-guitarist Mikey Pellegrino and bassist-singer Howie Cohen recently raised funds with a car wash and benefit concert at Asbury Park Brewery to record a follow-up to last year’s Partied Out, on New Brunswick-based Panic State Records. That label’s Jersey acts have included The Scandals, Lost in Society, The Moms and Sammy Kay. Producer-engineer Erik Kase Romero (The Front Bottoms, The Bouncing Souls, Deal Casino) is helming latewaves’ next outing.
Constantly on the road in support of the six-song Partied Out, the trio is winding down its touring, but Crossroads in Garwood also will host them on June 21, along with Spice Weasel, Champ, Old Currents and Map Of Rome.
While writing and recording, latewaves also will be home, playing some of AP’s hottest shows. They include Asbury Park Football Club’s World Cup Clubhouse, July 1 at Asbury Park Yacht Club, with Secret Mountain; Asbury Park Live, July 1 at First Avenue Boardwalk Green, with Have a Good Season; Aug. 19 at Asbury Lanes, opening for lovelytheband; and Indian Summer during the first weekend of Fall at Convention Hall.
The following is a chat with Pellegrino about where the band has been, where they’re going and what they’re up to right now.
Q: When and how did latewaves get together?
A: I found myself with the itch to start playing again, and Shawna, who is my fiancée’s sister, always talked about getting together to play. We both finally found ourselves available to commit, so winter of 2016, we got together in a garage and started writing what would be our first EP. Later in the year, we recorded it and started getting asked when we could play shows. Howie was a longtime friend, and we asked if he’d learn the set to play a few shows, and he ended up joining!
Q: What previous bands were you in, when and where?
A: I was in a bunch. Back in ’05 to ’08, I was in a band called Moraine that did a good amount of touring. After that, I was in the bands American Living and The Mosers. Shawna played drums for Broken by Production and Decades. Howie was in Ghost House and is still in Athletics. All of them Jersey-based, even though Howie is originally from Buffalo.
Q: What is a late wave, and is it related to a late drop and/or a secondary wave in surfing?
A: I never thought of it like that! We actually got the name because we would chill super late night on the beach in Asbury all the time and wanted to pay homage to that wonderful ritual we have.
Q: Do any of you surf? If so, how does the Asbury surfing scene compare to the rest of the East Coast?
A: We do not surf. I just float in the ocean, and sometimes I jump up and down in the waves. I’m pretty sick at that. I’d say that I’m friends with a ton of surfers, and they love it down here.
Q: You’ve toured a bit in support of your debut EP, Partied Out. How does the Asbury Park music scene compare to where else you’ve played?
A: Asbury is incomparable to anywhere. It’s an anomaly. In a few square miles, you have any kind of venue you want, any kind of music you want, and kids ALWAYS come to shows. Maybe not in giant herds at all times, but nobody plays to just the sound guy in AP.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of the AP scene and why?
A: I’d say the friendly competition. Everyone works their asses off and makes you want to keep trying your best. You can’t be lazy if you want to keep your name circulating around this scene.
Q: Is there anything about the Asbury scene that you don’t like, why, and can anything be done to remedy that?
A: My issue isn’t necessarily about the scene; it’s more an issue that we get offers to play all the time down here, and we ALWAYS wanna play. Playing more just makes you so much tighter. But you can’t oversaturate yourself in this area. The only way to remedy that would be for us to grow our catalog and fanbase and create the want to see us play different things in close time proximities, but that’s not necessarily what we need to do as a band. We need to keep touring.
Q: How does it feel to be playing the last-ever Warped Tour, and what are you looking forward to most about it?
A: It’s kind of crazy, I got to do a week of Warped in ’05 and remember wanting to be on the whole tour. I’ve been going to Warped since I was 13 when it started right here in AP. I’m very fond of everything about Warped so I’m honored to be even such a minuscule part of it. I am most looking forward to Every Time I Die’s set, though.
Q: How did you get that gig?
A: Our buddy Mark (Woodbridge) we were working with for a while submitted us and to our surprise, Kevin (Lyman, Warped Tour founder) said yes!
Q: Right out of the box, latewaves developed a big buzz. How did Panic State Records, management, previous band experience, friends within the Asbury scene, Mill Hill Basement, and the sound and style of your music help with that?
A: I definitely think that we’re all social people, so it kind of started with having a good support group of friends coming out in the beginning. And there was definite word of mouth, which is tried and true in the DIY scene. The cocktail of such an awesome label as Panic State and great venues in Asbury was just another piece of the puzzle that made everything start to roll a bit quicker than expected, but now is the hardest part; keeping it going.
Q: How did you hook up with Panic State?
A: That was another win from our buddy Mark. He put us in contact with them, and we were so pumped to find them interested.
Q: They are a New Brunswick-based label. Any plans to play the New Brunswick scene more, such as the Court Tavern or basement shows?
A: I grew up playing and hanging in New Brunswick. It was a huge part of my upbringing. My old band, American Living, played the Court SO many times, and I know Howie has in the past as well. We’d love to get back out there. I love basement shows! Book us!
Q: On what formats did you release Partied Out, and will you expand upon that with your next record?
A: We released digitally (iTunes, Spotify) and Panic State released CDs for us. We’d LOVE to get on vinyl.
Q: Will the next record also be on Panic State or will you be shopping it?
A: We are recording and love Panic State. As long as Bean likes the new songs, we’re down with that!
Q: To finance that record, you will have done a car wash and after-party at AP Brewery, which sounds like a lot of fun. Any other recording fundraisers on the horizons, such as additional events or a crowd-funding page?
A: Yeah, the car wash idea started off as a joke. I remember my friend’s high school did a car wash to fund their prom. I really didn’t think it’d get this far. Usually, slinging shirts is how we make our gas money, so we’re hoping to do well at the next few shows.
Q: When and where do you expect to record the next release?
A: We are going in with Erik Romero. He’s an amazing producer/engineer, and we can’t wait.
Q: What other details can you share about the next record, including new songs that you’re playing live?
A: I think we honed in on our favorite aspects of the first record: tongue-and-cheek lyrics over quirky simplistic yet big riffs.
Q: What else is coming up for the band in regard to performances and releases, including singles, videos and other promotional opportunities?
A: We’re super pumped on the summer. After Warped, we’re doing a couple real fun AP things in between writing and recording. Doing the APFC thing at the Yacht Club, AP Live on the beach, the Lanes with lovelytheband, Indian Summer. We’re sticking around to keep writing and will be back out on the road in the early fall.
Q: What is the funniest thing that happened to the band while on the road?
A: Oh God, I mean, there is a very consistent level of insanity on the road, a sort of cabin fever where everyone’s just saying those weird intrusive thoughts out loud and just going to strange places in our minds. But an actual thing I thoroughly enjoyed was while we were in Alabama, Shawna and Howie got too drunk to figure out how to blow up an air mattress and had to sleep in the van. The next day, they realized it wasn’t plugged in. I had a good chuckle at that one.
Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask on which you would like to comment?
A: Definitely come see us live! It’s our favorite part of being in a band. Thank you so much for interviewing us!
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.