Created in West Philadelphia, electrified, and brought to life, Conversations with Enemies sings songs of love torn apart by death, zombies, and deals with the devil. The story is dark, but this five-piece, which features charming harmonies, rousing sing alongs, and "a criminal number of unabashed smiles," is anything but brooding. Combining "feel good indie pop" together with surf rock and gypsy folk, Conversations with Enemies has been described as a "shaggy, Dr. Dog-like, West-Philly-to-Fishtown quintet that makes easy, breezy, summery pop with a rough-and-tumble feel." On their debut concept album, Nowhere, OK, they sing raw-knuckled tales of zombie love, vampires and devils' doings like nobody has since the first Roky Erickson and the Aliens album. And don't worry about grabbing a coffee or a vodka-redbull before their show, they've got enough energy to share. Add in some rich, full-moon gypsy folk interludes and you can almost see the wolf bane blooming over F-town.
Josh Craft - Guitar / Vox
Jessica McKay - Drums
Seth Sheffler-Collins - Trumpet
Paul Montgomery - Guitar
Kristen Seavey - Horns/ Vocals / Keyboard
I Still Have My Claws, You Have Your Teeth (March 2009- EP)
Nowhere, OK (August 2010 - Full Length)
Night of the Living Dead (single - radio airplay)
Christmas Hits ( December 2011)
The Good Times ( August 2012 - Full Length)
Collision Corpse: For zombie lovers Conversations with Enemies, it's the most wonderful time of the year
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The first rule of being a zombie-themed indie-pop band: A huge Halloween weekend is a must. Fish...The first rule of being a zombie-themed indie-pop band: A huge Halloween weekend is a must.
Fishtown sextet Conversations with Enemies deliver with a weekend most undead. Friday they headline at Millcreek Tavern in West Philadelphia, performing songs and skits in festive attire. And Sunday they're part of the massive Murder Show festival at the Ukie Club in Northern Liberties, with a dozen other local groups.
But band leaders Josh Craft (vocals/guitar) and Jessica McKay (drums) want to be clear: Their act isn't seasonal. Nowhere, OK, the band's narrative album/comic book telling a love story of the damned, came out in August. A regional tour is planned for JanÂuary. They first emerged in spring of 2009. Conversations with EnÂemies is a zombie band the whole year 'round.
"I like zombie movies," Craft explains. "We both like horror films, all genres, good ones as well as bad."
McKay offers the relentless Saw series as one of their fixations, before detailing how their movie tastes met with music.
"We were messing around in our basement and came up with this really terrible song," she recalls. It was a three-chord pattern and lyrics to the effect of "I'm a zombie and you look good to eat/ Why don't you come over and I'll have myself a treat."
"It was really bad," McKay says.
But it was also lighthearted and fun to play, Craft says. The duo decided to recruit some friends and see what might happen if they took this zombie idea more, um, seriously.
A year and some later, Conversations with Enemies released the completed Nowhere, OK, a 10-track romp echoing the sprawling shout-along pop of collectives like Architecture in Helsinki and Los Campesinos! It just as easily recalls the campy theatrics of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Craft says the latter parallel is no accident.
"Both of my parents were in traveling theatrical productions," he says. "It's how they met." In elementary school, Craft even had a bit part in the Broadway revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. "I grew up surrounded by theater, it's something I would eventually like to do," he says.
Nowhere, OK's tragicomic through-story would certainly lend itself to a lively low-rent production, something akin to what their Philly peers The Extraordinaires did with Ribbons of War in 2005. A cowboy named Billy and his girlfriend, Desiree, look to escape their tumbleweed Old West surroundings, but she's killed in a shootout. Billy makes a deal with the devil to bring Desiree back, but she returns as a zombie — and will not be made human again until our hero does the dark lord's bidding.
If it seems like Craft took a bunch of B-movie tropes and puréed them in a blender, well, he kind of did. If that's not your thing, most the songs stand well outside the concept. Sure, the standout "Night of the Living Dead" is indisputably horror pop, but it's a blast to dance to. There's not much question what album closer "Reanimated" is about, but its arrangements and melody are killer. And were it not included in this song cycle, the mariachi-rocker "Road to Nowhere" could be a song about any couple, living or undead, looking to escape their busted one-horse town.
"You can interpret the songs in different ways," Craft says. "A lot of people think 'Brains' is about having sex. You listen to the lyrics about feeding off of each other ... "
" ... but you don't enjoy the taste," chimes in McKay.
"Exactly," continues Craft. "If the song wasn't called 'Brains,' people might think it was about something else."
Retaining some degree of ambiguity (however minimal) lets Conversations with Enemies stretch its zombie act into the off-season. "When we first started, we were like, we're a zombie band, we're dressing up for all our shows," McKay says. "And then a couple people said to us, you're not a gimmick, you guys are good enough that you don't need to be doing this."
So the costumes gave way to casual clothes and the stage antics became less skit-based. But restraint naturally goes out the window when Halloween rolls around. For this weekend's shows, the band is asking folks who picked up their album to bring along its companion comic book. They'll be able to follow along with the stylized illustrations by local artists Kit Layfield, Kristyn Fayewicz, Jessica Lowe and Eric Remer. Meanwhile the six people on stage will be belting the story out in full spectacle mode.
"I guess it doesn't bother me being known as a zombie band," McKay shrugs. "But we want to be taken seriously also."
The Key Studio Sessions: Conversations With Enemies converses with the undead
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The Key Studio Sessions: Conversations With Enemies converses with the undead October 27, 2010 | 9:...The Key Studio Sessions: Conversations With Enemies converses with the undead
October 27, 2010 | 9:41 AM | By John Vettese
THE KEY STUDIO SESSIONSFILED UNDER: Artists, Downloads, Events, Recordings, Conversations With Enemies, The Key Studio Sessions
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Photo by Brian Beiner
Last night was a late one here at The Key Studio Sessions. In anticipation of Halloween, we invited Conversations With Enemies—Philly’s premier zombie-themed indie-pop quintet—to perform songs from their debut, Nowhere, OK. To our delight, they turned their set into an olde-timey radio play, complete with narration, sound effects, and skits reenacting the album’s story (which deals with the Devil, love among the undead, and other seasonal delights). The aftermath is still being sorted out, and you’ll be able to hear the performance broadcast in its entirety on Thursday, October 29th, at 10 p.m. during the Philly Local Second Shift on Y-Rock on XPN. For now, check out three of the songs, and one of the skits – and consider spending your Halloweekend with these kids. They’re playing Millcreek Tavern on Friday the 29th, and the Ukie Club on Halloween itself (part of the massive Costume Ball and Murder Show we told you about last week).
Behind Enemies' Lines
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There’s a lightness of spirit inherent in almost every aspect of Conversations with Enemies. Even in...There’s a lightness of spirit inherent in almost every aspect of Conversations with Enemies. Even in interviews, a self-deprecating giggle accompanies many of their statements, as if to make sure they don’t start taking themselves too seriously.
Their self-released debut, “Nowhere, OK,” is a concept album — the concept being a zombie apocalypse love-triangle. Lyrically at least, there are plenty of intentional giggles along the way, but that doesn’t mean CWE is interested in creating an all-out spoof. Rather, they use lighthearted themes to play with genre and structure.
“One song might sound like the Beach Boys, and another may have an Eastern European thing, or a folky-Gypsy music sound,” explains the band’s songwriter, Joshua Craft. “We were playful with styles, but I think the record flows pretty well from one song to the next.”
With all the smiles and laughter, it’s easy to miss the fact that CWE is one of the hardest workin’ bands in Philly. “Nowhere, OK” is packaged with a 15 page self-published graphic novel, which follows the album’s narrative — a project almost as time consuming as making the record. Four local artists contributed to the book, and the band paid for all of the printing out of pocket. “The graphic novel came about because of our friends, really,” says Craft. “We’re friends with a lot of artists, and we were trying to decide on the cover art for the album. It just kept getting bigger and bigger as we talked about it.”
Show Review: Conversations with Enemies at Johnny Brenda's
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I’ve been to a couple of Conversations with Enemies shows before; they are always very energetic and...I’ve been to a couple of Conversations with Enemies shows before; they are always very energetic and full of smiles. But the show at Johnny Brenda’s the night of 8/21/10 was something special. I covered the Extraordinaires show the week before that. Turns out Jay, the lead singer of Extraordinaires, opened the CWE show on the 21st as a solo act, singing songs and talking about Zombies. It was interesting. He had some friends of his come on stage at the end of his set and he shot them up with a nice boomstick. I’m a sucker for anything Zombie related so it was right up my ally. I could tell some of the audience was trying to understand what was going on during his set but I think for the most part the audience was with him. There’s defiantly enough of a zombie following for what he was doing out there and I applaud him for trying something new.
In ways the CWE and the Extraordinaires are similar. CWE also are zombie fans, which comes out in their lyrics, Night of the Living Dead being one of my favorite songs that the do. I’m a sucker for Trumpet and both these bands gave me a nice helping of the lovely brass instrument. CWE have a ska feel for certain songs with the trumpet tooting along, it brings up some nostalgia for the bands like Reel Big Fish from the 90’s. At other times I felt as I did at the Extraordinaires show the week before, like I was out at sea for 10 months letting the salty air hit the back of my sun beaten neck and I just arrived home to drink lots of whiskey, blow into jugs, and sing the songs I learned out on the ocean with my fellow shipmates.
CWE is fueled by love, so many smiles from each band member to each other and to the crowd. Just having fun, doing what they do. Josh, the lead singer, even announced to the audience about his recent engagement with Jess, the drummer of the band, it was nice to be a part of that moment. During the last song, CWE showed their love to their fans and invited everyone from the audience on stage to sing with them. Please, support great local music and go to their myspace and check out their stuff, you even get a graphic novel they had made up with the help of local artist when you purchase the CD.
Music Picks: Conversations with Enemies
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CwE is a shaggy, Dr. Dog-like, West-Philly-to-Fishtown quintet that makes easy, breezy, summery pop ...CwE is a shaggy, Dr. Dog-like, West-Philly-to-Fishtown quintet that makes easy, breezy, summery pop with a rough-and-tumble feel. There's lots of screeching girl/boy harmonies and squelchy rhythms and blaring trumpets. On occasion you can hear waves under the old-school surf pop. And the live shows are shambolic. On their debut concept album, Nowhere, OK, they sing raw-knuckled tales of zombie love, vampires and devils' doings like nobody has since the first Roky Erickson and the Aliens album. Add in some rich, full-moon gypsy folk interludes and you can almost see the wolf bane blooming over F-town.
Artist(s) Who Deserves Your Friendship
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With songs that reference murderous thoughts, Greek mythological creatures, zombies and vampires, yo...With songs that reference murderous thoughts, Greek mythological creatures, zombies and vampires, you’d think Conversations with Enemies might be the next bad death metal band. However, they manage to weave these topics into feel good indie pop for the hipster who might tend to be unlucky in love. It’s endearing like an old friend trying his/her best to cheer you up after a bad breakup. Created in a West Philly basement from parts of The Bee Team, Sailboat!, The Wayfairs, The Fourelles and Living/Breathing/Singing/Screaming, Conversations with Enemies have already been making their rounds at your favorite local music venues, art galleries and underground house parties as well as plans for a summer tour down south which is a good sign that this might not be just another side project.
Brains, Barnfests, And Zombie Revolutions
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As they head to the studio this month to record their first full-length, Conversations with Enemies ...As they head to the studio this month to record their first full-length, Conversations with Enemies gave us a preview of what’s to come in 2009 and a look back on where their conversation started.
The Deli: When did Conversations with Enemies come together?
CWE: Our story began a town much like this, with bar brawling cowboys and gun slinging hoodlums. Jessica and Josh decided the world should hear a story of love, zombies, vampires, and the old west, and thus Conversations with Enemies was created. Add a little beer, some crazy adventures and songwriting marathons, and soon we were Jessica (drums), Josh (guiar/vox), Jen (keys/vox), Chris (bass/vox), and Adam (trumpet/vox). Now, with our powers combined….we are….CONVERSATIONS WITH ENEMIES!
TD: What are your biggest musical influences?
CWE: The Beach Boys and Beatles are our Bible. Wilco, Dr. Dog, and Weezer our New Testament. Everyone in the band is also in, or has been in, other bands from very different genres – including folk, garage rock, bubblegum pop, and pop-punk - so we are all bringing pretty diverse musical sensibilities to the mix. Most practices start with us listening to old vinyls. And more often than not, band practice disintegrates into all-out sing-alongs of Rolling Stones or Saves the Day tunes.
TD: What’s your take on the Philly music scene?
CWE: From the perspective of a new band, Philly is a great place to be starting out. There is a lot of support for homegrown music from blogs like the Deli and Phrequency, and promoters like R5 and Cloud Entertainment. There are a lot of opportunities to play different kinds and sizes of venues – everything from festival stages to house parties to bars and clubs – and playing in different environments for different audiences can really help a band grow and develop. And there’s a lot of cross-over between bands and musician-sharing, so it really does feels like one big “music scene,” as opposed to the “rock scene” vs. the “punk scene” vs. the “indie scene.” We go to our friends’ shows all the time, and vice versa. It’s also a great place to tour from, either up or down the coast. Of course, our favorite place to play is the Millcreek Tavern in West Philly – the sound tech is awesome, the drinks are super cheap, and shows are free on Wednesdays.
TD: What are your plans for 2009?
CWE: We’re in the studio at the end of July working on our first full-length album. We’re also designing a graphic novel to package the cd in. Our songs follow a story line of zombies and vampires, so our cd package will give the listener a full visual and audio experience. Our CD release will be this September! We’re also planning on doing a short tour down to Asheville and working on planning a barn fest in November. Zombie Revolution!
TD: What’s your most memorable band moment?
CWE: There's no doubt that the biggest adventure and most memorable moment was our two week tour to SXSW. We had to survive the stomach flu, almost missed a show because New Orleans is such a crazy city, stole campsites, were pulled over twice, and barely made it home with enough money to put gas into our 9 MPG monster RV. But every show was amazing and we met so many great friends. Everything is a great memory now because we can laugh about all the good and bad things that have happened in our short time together.
TD: What's your favorite order at the Deli?
CWE: Brains on wheat with pickles and fries and of course a MD (Mountain Dew).
Read more: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=429704784&blogId=500262338#ixzz0tadyXZLU
The Clues Stay Under The Radar
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Early shows at The Barbary are a catch-22. On one hand, the bands play short, tight sets and set-up ...Early shows at The Barbary are a catch-22. On one hand, the bands play short, tight sets and set-up between acts is pretty short. On the other hand, the shows never last much more than two hours and you’re out of there before it’s even dark out. But, the short sets worked Tuesday night at The Clues show for newer bands that have great material, just not a whole lot of it.
“All our songs are about zombies and vampires,” declared Philadelphia’s Conversations with Enemies. If there’s a dark undertone to their bouncy, sing-along pop sound, it’s hard to hear. Conversations mixes a ton of styles together – from harmony-driven surf rock to Eastern European gypsy folk complimented by a mini-trumpet. And it’s their ability to blend those sounds within one song that sets them apart.
Lead singer Josh Craft gives every song a slightly rougher feel and the scratching, acoustic sound from his electric guitar only toughens up a lot of the songs
Icepack: Amorosi on the news, nightlife, gossip and bitchiness beats.
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My idea of tricking and treating Oct. 31 is this: Go early to zombie-power-pop-locals Conversations ...My idea of tricking and treating Oct. 31 is this: Go early to zombie-power-pop-locals Conversations with Enemies' CD preview-release block party with a tiki bar and monster drinks in a lot next to Enemies Central (219 Mercer, 1 p.m.) with Toy Soldiers and The Great Vibration (if you miss TGV, check their bomb-psychedelia Nov. 6 with Cheers Elephant at Danger Danger). Early eve = Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity/Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority-Omega's Diamonds and Pearls Masquerade Ball at the Please Touch Museum, 8 p.m. Finish with the big bang of Henri David's hallowed Halloween Ball at Sheraton City Center (16th and Race) and wait for something decadent to happen.
Philly Invades North Baltimore
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Winter weather couldn't break Philadelphia-based bands Conversations With Enemies and Band Name's da...Winter weather couldn't break Philadelphia-based bands Conversations With Enemies and Band Name's date at Golden West Cafe Monday.
By the time the show was supposed to start the snow had devolved into a wintry mix, so everyone was nervously peeking outside to see if any of it had frozen, and if so, how much.
Conversations With Enemies opened with a set of bouncy, summery surf pop, much of which was drawn from their debut concept album, “Nowhere, OK.” According to singer and guitarist Josh Craft, this was their third show in Baltimore. “We love it, it's awesome,” he told the small but appreciative crowd. “Our friendly neighbor to the south, some might say.” Craft said during a break that they'd played the Sidebar last time, but they preferred Golden West because Hampden “is nicer to walk around in.”?
Band Name played second, and brought a much rowdier, punkier sound. Their introduction claimed that their music “might make you want to dance and get pregnant.” The test I bought on the way home came up negative (can't be too careful), but the stuff about dancing was certainly true. Band Name has a lot of the same contagious energy that early Bay Area punk bands had, and that bands like Chicago's Daylight Robbery have now. They also hacked around a lot, threatening to not begin a song until someone in the crowd guessed how many snowflakes had fallen since they'd started playing.??
Local band Let's, who share members with Pansori and Army of Kashyyyk, closed out the evening with a short, heavy set that reminded me of a sloppier Cap'n Jazz. That's not intended as an insult; I saw Let's open for Big Kids and 1994! last July, and they've definitely improved since then. They also, if their post-show conversation with Band Name's Greg Labold was any indication, seem to know a lot of Philadelphia punk bands.
Photo Recap from Northern Liberties Festival
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Conversations with Enemies pumped up the crowd via its tropical essence and touch of ska. The band h...Conversations with Enemies pumped up the crowd via its tropical essence and touch of ska. The band had the audience getting physical by throwing a life-size inflatable cactus into the crowd as if it were a beach ball. The cactus stayed afloat of hands as Conversations with Enemies emitted a bunch of new tracks. Towards the end of the set, and after invitation, three fans joined the band in dance and song on the stage for “Hoist the Sails.”
Conversations with Enemies opens up for Allison Weiss
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This winter has certainly been having a bit of an identity crisis. One day it’s an oddly beautiful s...This winter has certainly been having a bit of an identity crisis. One day it’s an oddly beautiful spring day, and the next you are bundled up like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. Well, with a band like Conversations with Enemies laying down their groovy, bouncy rhythms, surf rock riffs, and joyous horn section, you might be transported to those lost summer days with your best pals and not a care in the world. They are playing host tonight at PhilaMOCA to former Athens, Georgia resident and now Brooklyn native Allison Weiss backed by a full band. Also on the bill are Mitten and Former Belle. PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., 8pm, $8, All Ages (Photo by Q.D. Tran) - H.M. Kauffman
New Tracks: Conversations with Enemies
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Conversations with Enemies are recording a new release that is schedule to be out this spring. The u...Conversations with Enemies are recording a new release that is schedule to be out this spring. The upcoming concept album will once again be accompanied by a comic book. You can check out the track “Hoist the Sails” below as well as a couple of other songs that were posted as a Halloween treat HERE.
Featured Client: Conversations with Enemies
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Conversations with Enemies is an indie-folk/ rock band from Philadelphia, PA. We caught up with foun...Conversations with Enemies is an indie-folk/ rock band from Philadelphia, PA. We caught up with founding member and principle songwriter Josh Craft to discuss his experiences and his upcoming projects w/ Conversations with Enemies and beyond:
How did you get started in the music industry?
I started out in high school writing songs for punk and ska bands. Throwing events in local VFW halls, grange halls helped build a strong understanding of how to promote your music and get people out to events. I studied the business of the music industry at Drexel University and quickly realized my love for songwriting. I interned with my songwriting teacher Phil Roy who wrote for Ray Charles, Mavis Staples and Joe Cocker.
During this time, I finished up my first full-length album with The Bee Team entitled Hot Times USA. This was my first time writing music for a folk band. During high school and college my writing style changed seasonally from punk to hardcore and then to folk. The changes of styles of music helped me understand different chord and melody structures. Challenging yourself is the best thing you can do as a songwriter. I took a turn from writing about personal experiences and started writing stories.
My most recent project, Conversations with Enemies is a way for me to write about zombies, werewolves, pirates and ghosts. All of the albums are conceptual and tell heart-felt stories about love triangles between zombies, cowboys and Satan. Each album is another way for continuously challenging myself and re-inventing the sound.
What has been the proudest moment in your career?
There has been so many awesome moments, so it’s really hard to pinpoint one particular moment. The one that holds a personal attachment would be the Conversations with Enemies record release last year at Johnny Brenda’s. Of course, celebrating my band’s debut release is a huge deal, but even more so I just got engaged to our drummer Jessica Mckay and had not yet told it to the masses. I announced our engagement to a crowd full of friends and family, and it could have not been more of a life-changing moment.
What inspires you as a songwriter?
A song should tell a story. Everyday I am surrounded by some of my best friends and a community of people that support my vision. I am the assistant director at a music school called Rock to the Future. The program is an after school program that provides free music lessons to lower income families in the Philadelphia area. We teach the kids how to write their own original music and the students form bands inside the program. We even line the kids up with concerts and events inside of the community.
Working with kids and helping coach them in writing is the most inspiring thing I could do. While most kids write songs about how much school sucks, there are a handful of them writing songs about zombie hamsters and infatuation with eating cake among others. Inspiring others to write in return helps me find that perfect melody for a song.
I find myself writing short stories and constantly recording melodies that pop into my head. I always keep my notepad full of ideas and bring them down into the dungeon to record the next big hit.
You belong to ASCAP. Why did you choose them?
After doing some research I found that many of my favorite artists were on ASCAP including: Paul McCartney, some of The Beach Boys material, and Weezer. After going through the website’s functionality and talking with some songwriters, I made the choice.
What projects or events are coming up for you that the Songtrust readers should know about?
I just release my first solo album. The album is a collection of basement demos that have been on my computer for over 4 years. The album features a collection of material I have been writing for musical groups The Bee Team, The Best Westerns, Conversations with Enemies and many others. If you email me a photo of your smiling (and $10) , I will send you a personal CD with a picture of you smiling in it.
Conversations with Enemies will be releasing their sophomore album this summer. The album is a bit more polished and mature then our debut album. You can expect a another conceptual comic book to come with the new album. For this album we went back in time to tie up some loose ends. This is my first time writing a prequel and I could not be any happier with the production and artwork on this new album.
Road to Nowhere
Waves of Color
My Place or Yours
A Place to Go
Night of the Living Dead
There are no upcoming dates at this time.