Artist Name: Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen
Song Title: Everybody Tells Her That
Release Date: 7/23/2018
Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen – Everybody Tells Her That
Modern sounds in rockabilly music: Based out of Philadelphia, PA, Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen is the latest musical project from collage artist and musician Joe Castro (ex-The Situation).
Heavily influenced by the sound of rockabilly as well as ’50s rock-n-roll and doo-wop, the band takes that vintage rock and roll sound but updates it with a modern lyrical approach and a healthy dose of post-modern guitar effects. Consider it a house that resides at the crossroads where Sun Records and Creation Records meet.
The Gravamen were formed after doghouse bassist H00V3r reached out to Castro about forming a new band. H00V3r enlisted Dallas, his bandmate in Philadelphia punk rock legends Thorazine, to play drums and later found hot-shot lead guitarist Michael Stingle floating around Mount Airy.
The full band held its first practice together in January 2018 and shortly after recorded their debut EP, “Wake Up, You’re Rockin’!” that May with Grammy-nominated producer Jim Salamone at Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philadelphia. The 4 song EP was released in July of 2018, followed by a limited edition vinyl 7″ in October 2018.
According to Joe Castro – “We define ourselves primarily as a rockabilly band because the term rock and roll these days has become so broad that it’s completely meaningless. But I consider us to be a rock-n-roll band in the truest sense of the word, in the tradition of the pioneers of the genre like Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley, and Johnny Burnette. My Dad grew up in Brooklyn in the 50s and would tell me stories about going to the Alan Freed shows at the Paramount and seeing Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly. As a kid, those guys were legends to me. Couple that with being taken to the drive-in to see films like American Hot Wax, American Graffiti, and Grease – that beat was in my ears from a very early age. It’s in my blood. I’ve always loved it.” Influences include Sun Records, Stray Cats, The Cramps, Buddy Holly, and Richie Valens, combined with elements of punk and shoegaze with a lyrical influence of Morrissey, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Bob Dylan.
Discuss the relevance of social networking to music.
Like in all other aspects of everyone’s life, social media is a blessing and a curse for musicians. It’s easy to get your music out there to people but, at the same time, you have to keep creating content for a machine that has no attention span. And so the hamster wheel keeps on turning. It’s just another part of the game at this point.
Go into detail on why you decided to choose music as a career.
I have been making music and creating visual art since I was a little kid so I don’t really look at it as a career or even a lifestyle. It’s just what I do. It’s what I’m passionate about. I love it.
Brief us the feedback you are getting from fans on your music.
The feedback so far has been incredibly positive. Our music is heavily influenced by the pioneers of rock-n-roll, the sound of rockabilly, and the soul of doo-wop – what I would consider the foundation of modern rock. So it’s easily accessible to everyone – the punk rock guys can relate, the heavy metal fans can relate, the blues and folk fans can relate. Everybody loves rock-n-roll.
Tell us how you record your song.
The song (along with the rest of our debut EP) was recorded at Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philadelphia over the weekend of May 4 – 6, 2018. It was engineered by Grammy-nominated producer Jim Salamone and Todd Mecaughey. The tracks were mixed at Cambridge on June 11th and 13th by Jim Salamone and the band.
Tell us the story behind the song.
The song is about overcoming tragedy in your life, which is often easier said than done. Life is tough and it’s hard to grow – not every seed will push itself through the cold grown. Here are the lyrics: Everybody Tells Her That (music/lyrics by Joe Castro / ©2013 mightyjoetunes) packing tape can’t suffocate his voice from memories nor chase his ghost away from this room she never leaves but it’s not a home – it’s part museum and part shrine a roadblock is all he’s left behind and everybody tells her that, she’s gotta move on sun-faded photographs from golden summer days boxes of letters from a devoted fiance recall a time when nothing could bring her to her knees and grief was only make-believe and everybody tells her that, she’s gotta move on but in her prime, she used to dance along the cracks of broken dreams so dangerous yet ever so serene objects of veneration honor all regrets from one night in Riverside, she swears she caused the wreck and like twin paper lanterns abandoned to the rain her eyes just never shine the same and everybody tells her that, she’s gotta move on…
Tell us how long it takes to complete a song from the start.
On average, I would say two to three months, sometimes longer. Honestly, the chords and the melody usually come fairly easy, something that just pops up while playing around on the guitar. In the beginning stages, the lyrics are just throw away. It’s like getting to know a person – at first, the conversation is superficial, it’s about the weather and other generalizations or formalities. After you spend some time with it and get to know each other – then you can really find out what it’s all about. It just takes time. At least for me.
Go into detail on how you develop your lyrics and melody.
There’s no real secret – it’s just a matter of work. Creation comes from work, not inspiration.
State your favorite genres of music.
I don’t believe in genres – I believe in musicians, bands, and artists. And most musicians and artists will move between many genres and styles.
Describe the chemistry between you and your fans during a live performance.
They like to dance and we’ve got the beat.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, Gravamen is “the part of an accusation that weighs most heavily against the accused; the substantial part of a charge or complaint.” I’ll just leave it at that.
Discuss your rehearsal.
We take it very seriously so everyone shows up to work. We’ve all got busy lives and are juggling various family situations so when it comes to rehearsal time, we’re very focused. The fact that we all want to be there and look forward to it every week makes it easy.
State your favorite musical instruments.
I like all musical instruments and they all serve a purpose. One crayon is not better than another crayon so why limit yourself.
Discuss your personality in full detail.
Discuss your music career.
I’ve been playing in bands for over 25 years. I started out in the early 1990s primarily as a guitar player in a Delaware-based alternative rock band called Nero (formerly Obese Pharaohs of Funk). We released three 7″ singles and a full-length album on various local labels. After that, I played guitar in another Delaware band called Swingline. After moving to Philadelphia in 2000, I spent six years as the guitar player in The Situation.
Formed in 2001 with singer-songwriter Christopher Tucker, The Situation signed with Elephant Stone records in 2004, releasing The Reece Nasty EP, followed by our self-titled full length in 2006, both garnered critical praise from Pitchfork, The Big Takeover, Skyscraper, Magnet, and the Philadelphia Weekly, who labeled the band’s music as “absolute fucking pop genius”. We toured the states and opened for bands such as The Strokes, The Libertines, Nada Surf, BJM, The Make-Up, and Arthur Lee & Love. Our music was featured on shows for both MTV and Fuel TV. The group disbanded in 2006. Christopher Tucker passed away in 2008. After a short break to focus on my art career and family, I formed The Lift Up with John Paul Travis and Larry Zappaterrini (both from The Situation). We recorded a full-length album in 2013 entitled ‘Without Dreams We Are Only Sleeping.’
The group disbanded after bassist Zappaterrini got a job working for Disney (when the mouse calls, it’s hard to say no). Following a few false starts with some other music projects, H00V3R, our doghouse bass player, reached out to me and suggested we play together. The chemistry was there right away so he brought in his friend Dallas (Dallas and H00V3R are also the rhythm section in Philly punk band Thorazine) and later found our guitarist Michael Stingle on Craigslist. Honestly, it all fell together fairly easy, which I took as a sign.
The full band’s first rehearsal was in January of 2018; we recorded our EP five months later and then released it that summer. We’re working on more songs now for our full-length, hopefully, to come in 2019. In the meantime, we’re trying to play as many shows in front of as many people as we can.