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LOVE FROM AFAR: 722's sound is "very different than other rock," according to Haiping Ge, corporate president of International Special Attractions.
Photo By: Hanan Saleh

What is Philly band 722 doing in China?

by A.D. Amorosi


From their Fantomas-meets-No Doubt sound to their silly, sweet lyrics, you'd be right to call Philly band 722's aesthetic fresh.

But when Haiping Ge, the corporate president of International Special Attractions Ltd. (ISA), thinks you're down, you're down.

"Their rock music style is kind of unique to [the ears of] the Chinese people," says Ge from Shanghai, through an interpreter.

He thinks so highly of 722 that he's booked the foursome, virtual unknowns here in Philly who've only been playing together since 2002, for two weeks worth of shows for The Shanghai Pudong Music Carnival and Festival, an event organized by the Pudong Culture, Film and Broadcasting Bureau, aimed at promoting international music for the local people as well as celebrate the Labor Day festival during the first week of May each year.

"ISA's been the exclusive company responsible for collecting all the performing groups for the festival," Ge explains. The committee was in charge of curating acts from various genres: country, rock, African music, Irish music and pop. Ge, who picked 722's CD out of a pile of international applicants, found them to be "very different than other rock."

Ge doesn't know the half of it.

Composed of graduates of University of the Arts with majors in music, theater and musical theater, 722 is an infectiously melodic mess, a crowded house full of Sparks-soaked individualists loudly rattling off their influences. "Laughter, dancing, pondering, breaking into the robot, banging your head, that's us, " says Nero Catalano, 722's leader. The four — guitarist/singer Catalano, drummer Jameison Ledonio, bassist/singer Davy Raphaely and vocalist Sarah Linebarger — share a South Philly home. You can hear the bubble of their fish tank through the mad crackle of the title track on on their latest CD, We're Taking Over. "Almost all of our songs were written about the fish tank that resides at the 722 household," jokes Linebarger, a redhead familiar from tending bar at El Vez. Silly, no? You'd expect nothing less from the brassy musical theater major who infiltrated the 722 brotherhood first by working with Raphaely on a dance presentation while at UArts, then moving next door to the band, where they shared a courtyard and all-night jam session parties.

While their storyboarded tales deal with bushy-tailed optimism ("Tomorrow's Now"), addictions both literal ("I Quit") and figurative ("Stubborn Game"), as well as "Foxes" ("just girls look foxy in the wintertime all bundled up with sweaters, jackets and hats," sings Catalano), it is 722's music that's insistently askew.

"The harmonies that Sarah and I do, Davy's animated voice — it's all so explosive," Catalano says. He throws banjo, sitar, keys, cowbell and bouzouki into the guitar-strewn rock rabble, much as he does in another local band, Bebek. "Davy and Sarah have really taught me to get into the character of each song, because we are not the same people in every song, even musically."

Says Linebarger in one breath: "It's as if rock and theater had a child. Not a cute little kid but a crazy hyperactive one with ADD that you don't know what they're gonna do next."

Next up for 722 is that gig at the Shanghai festival. "My voice teacher's sister works for ISA, and they were looking for bands to play a beer festival in Asia," explains Linebarger, who sent music and video clips to ISA and didn't hold her breath. "The day after Christmas, I received a funny message about China and if would we play there."

After tons of phone calls, e-mails and government approval, 722 were Pudong- bound.

"We thought this could be good and interesting," Ge says. "I hope they will have a good time in Shanghai and that the people here enjoy their music."

- A.D. Amorosi


“Experimental and brave, but still undeniably poppy, We're Taking Over is a completely bizarre ride through the mind of an extremely frustrated generation, desperate for change. This is a fascinatingly far-reaching album, easy to listen to, but never obvious or, really, anything less than complex. While the peculiar arrangements and playful voicings and sonicities are what really bring this album to the top of the pile, the star is no doubt Sarah Linebarger's coy, confident, and precise voice. Ms. Linebarger has a pretty excellent sound, and with her obvious, widely appealing talent against this unsubtle, post-punk Warhollian musical canvas, 722 could easily prove to be a very important band.”
- Origivation Magazine (11/05)


"..intelligent and amusing...interesting male and female harmonies...they have intriguing arrangements and I would be interested in seeing them live." - Mike Brennan


“They’re too complicated to be a punk band and too awkward to be pop. Instead they use a wide variety of genres to create a method of rock superiority... With a do-it-yourself punk rock attitude, the record displayed 722's tight instrumentation with Ledonio giving a drum-and-bass element to Raphaely’s off-beat bass style, Catalano’s unruffled guitar and Linebarger’s vocals from heaven. They’re rock–n-roll with a sense of humor.” - Scott Frost


“Thursday January 22nd was the first show. There were several good bands this night, but it was obvious by the crowds reaction as to the ones that stood out. 722 arguably ruled the evening. They were a four piece consisting of a female vocalist, bass, drums and guitar. They were very rehearsed but yet somewhat spontaneous. All of their songs and actions had a theatrical quality to them. You may or may not like this band, but either way they are sure to keep your attention.” - emegenza.net


"Art rock Philly foursome use quirky pop vocals with dramatic edges to charm their sharp-witted musical delivery from their brand-new "We're Taking Over" LP - Scott Frost


I like the way the song starts off with the chorus. You've got so much energy with this progression and the dual vocal kicks ass.
The male vocal has a whimsical sound, which actually sounds great for this song. The female voice comes in and kills. This song has a B-52's sound on steroids, which is really good. - Song of the Year.com


This a cool mixture of detached Pop or rock lyric hip vibe, mixed in with the kind of specific imagery & story details that would make any top Nashville country lyric wordsmith proud. A very intoxicating combination. Cool, specific individual lines like "The cupboards are open and the dishes are in the sink," or "I look at you now and all I get is blank stares," would be as much at home in Nashville as in New York or London." - Unisong.com


Discography

722 - We're Taking Over
722 - Self-titled

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Imagine if a theater cast and a rock band joined forces. Well that’s exactly what 722 does. Composed of graduates of the University of the Arts with majors in music, theater, and musical theater, 722 is an infectously melodic mixture of guitar driven rock, fresh female/male vocal arrangements, and unstopable grooves. 722's uninhibited sound is both articulate and rugged. The band is just as at home performing intricate passages as it is exploring uncharted improvisational frontiers. The lyrics explore everyday issues delivered by Sarah’s brassy voice supported by the brother’s harmony, and Davy’s animate interjections.
The band’s eclectic sound is augmented by the theatricality of their stage presence. 722 has combined the theatre aesthetic with music since the band’s genesis at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival where Nero and Davy presented riffs from household jams(722 -----St, Phila). As the number of gritty songs like “Parasite” grew, so did their popularity as a seasoned house party band. In May ‘05, the band travelled to China to perform 21 shows at the Pudong Shanghai Century Park International Music Carnival. Locally, you can catch 722 at Fergie’s Pub the first Saturday of each month.

Venues:
Philly - Trocadero, World Café, the Khyber, NBNW, the Fire, the Grape Street Pub, the Rotunda, Yards Brewery, 15st /Sansom St, Fergie’s Pub, Pontiac Grille, the Five Spot
New York - CBGB’s, The Knitting Factory, Galapagos, the Continental
Shaghai - Century Park International Music Carnival
Washington, DC - the Velvet Lounge
The rest of PA - John & Peter’s, Gulifty’s Underground, Mechanicsburg G-man

Film:
Nero Catalano appears in New Market Films - “Rock School”

Television:
TLC’s A Dating Story

College Radio:
KHNS HAINES, AK; KTOO JUNEAU, AK; KVCU BOULDER, CO; KDNK CARBONDALE, CO; KOTO TELLURIDE, CO; WRGP MIAMI, FL; WVVS VAL DOSTA, GA; KKCR HANALEI, HI; KULT CEDAR FALLS, IA; KWLC DECORAH, IA; KRNL MT. VERNON, IA; WRDP CHICAGO, IL;WGBK GLENVIEW, IL; KBTL EL DORADO, KS; KXUL MONROE, LA; KMSC-1 MOOREHEAD, MN; KMNR ROLLA, MO; KYMC ST. LOUIS, MO; WZMB GREENVILLE, NC; WSCA PORTSMOUTH, NH; WCCM RANDOLPH, NJ; WDWN AUBURN, NY; WGCC BATAVIA, NY; WHRW BINGHAMPTON, NY; WCWP BROOKVILLE, NY; WICB ITHACA, NY; WSVA NEW YORK, NY; WBMB NEW YORK, NY; KEOL LA GRANDE, OR; WEXP PHILADELPHIA, PA; WCLH WILKES-BARRE, PA; KTSW SAN MARCOS, TX; KZMU MOAB, UT; WRIR RICHMOND, VA; KGRG AUBURN, WA; KAOS OLYMPIA, WA; KZMU PULLMAN, WA; KWCW WALLA WALLA, WA; KUWS SUPERIOR, WI; WORT MADISON, WI; CFUR PRINCE GEORGE; CHRW LONDON, ONTARIO; CHRY TORONTO, ONTARIO; CISM MONTREAL, QUEBEC;
CJUM WINNIPEG, MANITOBA

Internet Radio:
Pulserated.com’s Hot Trax & Pulse Lounge, Fearlessradio.com’s Love Bytes, Cityzen.tv, Wolfradio.com

Special Guests:
Brownske - dj, Brandy Butler - flute, Maxfield Gast - saxophone, Sigmund Washington - saxophone

Members of 722's Other Projects:
Saigon Slimm, Bebek, Fred F. Hopper, Franz Schubert, Sensi Star

Shared the Stage with:
Laurie Lewis, The Paul Green School of Rock, Moonraker, Metagroove, Welcome to My Face, The Kissers