Today we bring you The Alleys , some good tunes that will get your day started in the right direction. I like the voice a little Lou Reed meets Leonard Cohen kinda thing going on. The production of the singles is excellent, cool harmonies, music is tight, has a alternative rock vibe running throughout, well done. The cool guitar work, will keep you tuned in , wondering what’s coming next. Give a listen today and help spread the word about, The Alleys.
I’m not one who is prone to put up Band Bio’s but before your read The Meet The Band, read this, after I read this a few weeks ago, I reached out to the band, I love stories like this, getting a chance to do things over is always sweet…
It was in Orlando that the recently formed Alleys, as the opening act for Wayne Kramer (of the legendary proto-punk band MC5), blasted through their set straight into a wild backstage party. It was during this time Kramer commented offhandedly to the Alley’s bassist that their band leader Nick Kulikowsky, ‘will never make it to see 30 years old’. Wayne Kramer helped write the book on Rock and Roll excess – and anyone would heed a warning from a veteran/survivor with Kramer’s resume. Yet Nick K recalls, “When I heard about it, I took it as a compliment… if anything I ramped it up a bit.”
In the later 90’s, the music scene was mostly divided into two camps: radio friendly pop punk and an industry mutated alternative. A&R reps were mining Orlando for any band that sounded like Pearl Jam. “You had your bands like Creed and Matchbox 20,” Nick explains, “To me, they were mediocre heavy metal bands who cut their hair and pierced their ears.”
It was in this musical climate that Nick, joined by longtime friend John Bearor, went into the studio and tracked what was to be their debut EP, ‘Road to Shotsville’. There was no real band line up at this time. “I had songs written out and just needed the right people to help me execute them. I wanted to work with people who were as familiar with Waylon Jennings as they were Pavement.”
Once the record was released finding a line up was easy and the first single, ‘Everything’, was getting heavy rotation on college and looser format stations. In Orlando, and a few other cities, the Alleys ‘Road to Shotsville’ was getting good reviews from the right critic and they had some influential DJs on their side – but the A&R guys were still out scooping up bad copies of Pearl Jam like shoppers on Black Friday.
It was at the live shows the band worked out their frustration and steadily built up a cult following. Nick smiles, “I remember from my hotel room down to the venue. I saw this line of people wrapped around the block, so I wanted to find out who people were waiting for… I asked some random girls, and they were like, ‘the Alleys are playing!’…I thought it is all working out”
“In a way, I was living a double life. On the weekends, I was signing autographs and during the week mopping some crummy kitchen floor. But we refused to fall in line.” The frustration was compounded by the radio-only single the Alleys released, ‘Saddest Silence’. With better reception than even the Shotsville single, the band gained a management deal and booking agent. “Then…we started making mistakes.”
Instead of promotion, they doubled down on self-destruction. Trips to detox and jail were typical, as were divorces and poor decisions. “I kept writing but things were collapsing around me. We started missing important interviews and wasting what ever money we had. Guys were losing it, one got shot in the hand over a bad drug deal, one ran off with a stripper an overdosed, and another simply felt he needed to drive himself to the loony bin…many times it got back to just me and John.”
But as these stories of hard living filtered out to the diverse fans, it only added to the allure of the band. The fans knew the band was authentic and put on a good show. For awhile they were explosive. “I thought ‘street cred’ was all the currency we needed.”
Hard living, however, was catching up – the band was exhausted. “One particular show…it was a very important one. We got the right label guy to show up on the last show of a tour – not a good idea. By then we were burned out, semi-suicidal and devoted addicts. It was a nightmare. I kept breaking strings and the other guys were despondent. We just wanted to go home.”
And they did. Nick went into seclusion and got rid of his guitars. John and Nick would reunite for an acoustic gig once in awhile – but by then they were struggling to come to terms with life and old demons. Nick recalls, “I remember sitting at a bar and someone recognized me. The dude says, ‘what happened to you man?”
It could have been the end of the story for the Alleys and for one of them it was. Nick had by chance made contact with an executive producer. She challenged Nick to write a song after years of silence. Without even a guitar, he called Michael Oneal and asked for some spare studio time. “I had no reason to think I could even do it after all these years. I came in with some words scratched on a paper and a few chords. But by the time we mixed it, we had a real song.”
Within a few weeks, Nick was given a small advance to resurrect the Alleys. The first order of business was a digital release in late 2013 of the first EP ‘The Road to Shotsville’ which included the lost radio-only single of ‘Saddest Silence/ I Don’t Care’. With that in order, a second advance came to record a new album. The Alleys were back…then tragedy struck.
I took a quick trip to Europe to meet my contacts and flew home the day before Thanksgiving loaded on positive energy and great news for John and me. It was early the next morning I woke up to a text message – John was gone…”
With half a record nearly complete, Nick was paralyzed with grief. Michael Oneal acting as a producer refused to let things fall apart and remasterd songs John played on as well as new material.The end result is a full length album released in early 2014 titled, ‘Girlfriend Vanity Project’. The eclectic songs provide both retrospective and hinted the new course for the Alleys.
The Alleys are playing shows with a new appreciation for life and partly finished with a new record. Their live shows are still as loose and reckless but they are undeniably wiser. When reminded of Wayne Kramer’s fatalistic comment, Nick laughs saying, “I proved him wrong but I missed his point – “street cred’ isn’t worth much if you aren’t around. It just took awhile to understand…and enough ghosts around to make sure I don’t forget.”
Hi our name is….
People say we sound like….
Everything from ‘heroin chic for the 21st century’ to simply rock. We got Nick Cave meets the Replacements once…I’ll take that.
My name is Nick Kulikowsky. I am the only constant member of the band. Right now, I have Michael O’neal from Uncle Traveling Matt, Reuben Dye from the Humdingers, and Eric B. on drums. People have come and gone over 15 or so years. Some have passed away. In the studio right now, It would typically be just me and Mike.
We are from….
The Alleys started in Orlando and now are based in West Palm Beach. Two of the guys live in the Treasure Coast area.
Who are some that have an influence on you…
This is a hard question for a musician. We would have to start with Hank Williams Sr. and work through The Beatles, Stones, Johnny Thunders, The Ramones, Bob Mould, Dinosaur Jr. On the album we are working on now we into the Hollies, Big Star, and Teenage Fanclub as our compass.
How old were all of you when you started to play and who plays what in the band
I played drums in middle school but wanted to write songs so I picked up guitar by my early teens. For most of the people I work with the early teens seems to be common. The live set up at the moment is myself on guitar and vocals;Mike on lead guitar, keyboard, and vocals; Reuben on bass and vocals; And Eric on drums. We have three vocals up front because we like harmony. I am have a low dead pan voice and the other guys fill around me.
Can you tell us about the process you use, from writing the songs all the way through getting the songs out
The traditional process for the Alleys song writing is that I would write a song, record it with whoever and then tell the live guys to learn the recording. Recently, I opened up the process and worked on songs actively with Mike O’Neal. I think at least two on the upcoming record are written by him. From there we sort through the songs and make sure they fit with the loose theme, possibly fix little things, then off they go out to the world.
what are some of the challenges you face as musicians and how have you overcome those challenges
Life itself is filled with challenges and trying to keep music central to your life is even more of a challenge. But you learn to enjoy the challenges. You thicken your skin. And most importantly, you never forget why you do it in the first place. For me, it is that I have something to say and I want to do it through music. That is how you overcome the never ending obstacles and challenges.
If you could pick any time to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it …
Without a doubt I would go back to 1968 or ’69. I would find Nick Drake and tell him to hold on…one day he will be recognized for his genius. I would find Syd Barrett and hang out with him. There would be a lot of legends in the making in that time period. Musicians who would change the course of my life 20 some years later.
Who are all of you currently listening to ….
I stick with the songwriters I know: Evan Dando, Paul Westerburg, Freedy Johnston. I like the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I am not inclined to search to hard. Mike will find things and he will make me listen to it. I trust him as a filter. Really, I don’t want to know what most of my peers are doing. I don’t want to sound like them if i can help it.
If you could open for any Band right now who would that be and why?
Arcade Fire! I don’t know more than two of their songs but their shows look epic. Talk about tour support! Oh, and the Flaming Lips. Every show seems like a party.
My youngest son is 13 and in a Band, what advice would you offer him…
Stay away from the dope. If it is what you really want to do then never ever give up. Be like Johnny Ramone and run the band like a serious operation. This is all advice I wish someone had told me – not that i would listen to most of it.
your thoughts on the state of rock ‘n’ roll in 2015…..
That is literally the million dollar question of our time. After the traditional music business imploded, we are in something of a chaotic time. Pop and mainstream country are worse than ever. The way money is made is different. In the chaos is opportunity but the big problem is the sheer volume of bands and no cohesive underground movement. Regionalism is happening right now which is not necessarily bad. The radio is awful but satellite radio is a good thing. It is crazy…if you figure it out, let us know 🙂