Anything But Joey
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Anything But Joey

Band Pop Rock


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"Rock school: Ultimate Fakebook offers ‘major' advice to Anything But Joey"

Rock school: Ultimate Fakebook offers ‘major' advice to Anything But Joey
By Richard Gintowt (Contact)
Thursday, April 17, 2003

Ultimate Fakebook opening for Anything But Joey is a little bit like Pearl Jam opening for Creed -- the mentor playing second fiddle to the student. And though the bands are officially billed as co-headliners, there's definitely something sweet for ABJ about having enough leverage to ask UFB to open this Saturday's show at the Granada.

"It feels really good to be on the same level (locally) as a band that was so important to us when we were kids," said ABJ bassist Drew Scofield, who first saw UFB perform at benefit show his senior year at Shawnee Mission West high school. "What they were to us then we probably are now to some kid in some band that we've never even met."

The smell of success is on the tip of ABJ's nose thanks to an outpouring of support from 96.5FM, The Buzz. The Kansas City station has spun the band's song "Girl Roommate" over 600 times and no doubt encouraged the 500-plus draw that ABJ now has.

Inside Me Inside You
But before they trash hotel rooms and invade the malls of America, ABJ might want to consider the advice of UFB. The Manhattan-born trio (now quartet) found itself in a similar situation four years ago when their songs "Far Far Away" and "Tell Me What You Want" were hits on 105.9FM The Lazer. UFB signed a two-album deal with Epic/550 Music but left when the label dissolved just months into promoting their first record.

"Life on a major label is very short for most bands," said UFB drummer Eric Melin.

"Instead of trying to be all indie (ie cheap) about money, take as much tour support as you can; get as much equipment as you can. Because when you get dropped -- if you do -- then you have a whole bunch of shit to show for it."

"You only owe them money if you sell records. If you go gold, then you'll have to pay back what they spent on you. But if you don't -- and unless you have a hit song, you won't -- then you don't owe them anything and you're gone."

ABJ is well aware of the horror stories told by major label busts. The band shunned interest from megalithic super-label Jive Records, home to decidedly un-pop-punk acts like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

"It was so blatantly obvious to us that it wasn't going to work," said guitarist Bryan Chesen. "They wanted to own all the publishing rights to our songs, to the point where if we got dropped from the label, we couldn't even play the songs anymore."

Talks about the show with Anything But Joey...
Relates the story of one-hit wonder Dynamite Hack
Instead, the band has adopted a DIY ethic, hiring two professional radio promoters to get them airplay in regional markets and hustling to make contacts to help distribute their record.

"It's the whole punk rock ethic applied to mainstream pop punk," Chesen said. "We're not anti-major, we're just pro-independent."

Scofield added: "We don't want to be at the mercy of someone else's whims. No one's going to work harder for us than us."

"Review :: Anything But Joey, "Necessary, But Not Cool""

Review :: Anything But Joey, "Necessary, But Not Cool"

Monday, January 26, 2004

Before giving Anything But Joey's new EP a listen, go check out the photo section of the band's Web site.

You'll find a number of titillating categories to choose from, including, but not limited to: "Girls Kissing," "Drunken Stupor" and "Our friends!" The collection is a journey into the frat-like brotherhood of ABJ and their fans. 'Hey look, it's Matt with some hotties at Abe & Jakes! ... Whoa! Bryan totally slammed half a bottle of Jim Beam!' And be sure to check out "Bryan Humping Things." Down this whimsical path, you'll find frosty-tipped guitarist Bryan Chesen saddling up to a Chinese dragon, to a statue of Will Rogers, and to a big green dinosaur. 'Holy crap, is he really licking the ass of that bear statue!?'

By now, most any self-respecting music connoisseur would have deposited "Necessary, But Not Cool" into a trash bin hungering for a jewel case. But ABJ's brain-busting local popularity dictated not only that we review the CD, but that we review it fairly and impartially.

But how? I mean come on ... these guys are to local music what Jackass is to cinema. They want you to hate them. They want you to trash their record. Then when they sell 10,000 copies or sell out Abe & Jakes, who has the last laugh?

Well, here's the bad news guys: Your new EP's not that bad. In fact (insert big fat pride-sucking sound here), it's actually pretty good for what it is: silly pop rock with Weezer-inspired hooks and bounce-inducing choruses.

In fact, the four songs on "Necessary" are as good as any of the punk pop schlock clogging up the radio -- maybe even better. Heck, at least ABJ isn't moping about the girls that left them and the identity they're struggling to find. They're willfully immature, horny and they just want to party -- nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, no, unless you're actually looking for some substance with your listening experience. That's where ABJ comes up short, despite radio-friendly production and pitch-perfect harmonies and the addition of some ear-candy synthesizers. Pop-punk clichés are a dime a dozen in songs like "I Don't Mind," which begins: "Lately every movie makes me cry / Even warnings from the FBI / I think it's 'cause I had to say goodbye." Equally banal is "Sunburn": "How can I make you see? / Who do I have to be? / 'Cause all I am is me."

ABJ could take a hint from fellow local popsters Ultimake Fakebook and mix the hooks with some grown-up insight. Then again, maybe growing up would be a bad career move for a band that depends on teens for its fan base.

Perhaps ABJ sums it up best on "Better Than You," a kiss-off anthem to all its detractors that defiantly chimes (over and over again): "You may not like what I do / But I can do it better than you."

Indeed ABJ can, and who knows, it might just win them a Grammy or land them on MTV. (And if it does, don't forget to send us the picture of Bryan humping Kurt Loder!)


"Local pop-rockers Anything But Joey break into commercial radio with debut CD"

Local pop-rockers Anything But Joey break into commercial radio with debut CD
By Phil Cauthon (Contact)

Friday, October 25, 2002

Unsigned local bands NEVER make it into the exclusive playlists of commercial radio.

It just doesn't happen.

Sure, many stations have the obligatory local music show late at night where a few local favorites get some spins. But to get into corporate radio's prime-time rotation, artists need a big-time label giving them a big-dollar promotional push within the industry.

Without that, a band's new album will likely be lost among thousands of others instantly dismissed as 'local.'

Unless you're Anything But Joey.

The Kansas City pop-rock band is willfully unsigned, yet somehow broke into rotation on 96.5 FM The Buzz. In fact, the band's single, "Girl Roommate," has been that station's No. 1 requested song for weeks, edging out the likes of Eminem.

The Buzz's program director, Mike Kaplan, said that Anything But Joey is the likely only unsigned band from this area that has ever reached that mark.

But he said, he didn't feel like he was taking a risk putting them into rotation. "We saw the group's strong local following and felt their sound fit the radio station's target," Kaplan said.

At that point, Anything But Joey didn't even have an album out. Just a demo that found its way into the good graces of Kaplan, explains bassist Drew Scofield.

"Our Web site guy was an intern at 96.5 and he just pushed it to the right people long enough and they really liked it and it went from there.

"That song (Girl Roommate) was written years ago and it's been on a couple Thulium demo CDs," Scofield said, referring to the band's name before they changed it this summer to Anything But Joey.

"The recording we have now is quality enough to be played on the radio and we just finally put it on an album."

The band's full-length debut, "Come Out Fighting," will be unveiled Saturday night at the Granada. And, in the coming weeks, the band hopes its second single, "One," will get some spins on The Buzz.

Although the band's first taste of success has obviously put stars in their eyes, they're not going to jump the gun by signing a record deal or by moving to the rock-star breeding grounds of Los Angeles, Scofield said.

"We're going to try to do it ourselves as long as we can. The bigger we can get on our own, the better deal we can get when we have to get signed in order to go national," Scofield said.

"We're planning to move to Dallas at some point," and eventually to L.A., he said. "Right now, we're just not even ready for that."

Guitarist Bryan Chesen said that just a few months ago, before their music got on The Buzz, it was hard to imagine how the band would ever make it this far. He said since they formed in 1996, they'd been virtually ignored by the local music scene.

"Since we're basically mainstream, Top 40-style music, everybody hated us for it. Plus, at the time we were a little more clean-cut. We just really got rejected," Chesen said.

"We were set to move to Dallas because everybody we know is down there. We were like 'screw Kansas City, we're never gonna make it here.' But we decided to give it one more year because we love Kansas City and we don't want to move. Now we're getting spun. And The Buzz is only going to spin us more and we're only going to get bigger here."

Building on the buzz

The band started playing covers together in high school as Thulium. "Green Day, Live, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer. Whatever was popular at the time," said Scofield.

By the time they had several of their own tunes penned, the band began to falter a bit as some went to school and all of them began to wonder if this band thing was going work.

The critical break came last November when Chesen met Anything But Joey's eventual manager, Bryce Graves. Chesen was trying to book the Dallas band Flickerstick to play in Manhattan (Kan.), and when it looked like the gig might fall through, he was directed to Graves.

"I was told 'This dude can work it out. He can get Flickerstick to come up and play the show,'" Chesen said. "Bryce had never heard of us because we were nobody in November. He met us and he really dug our personal vibe, and our hooks were there but a lot of the stuff that's in our songs now just wasn't there then."

Graves worked with the band informally for a year and eventually hooked them up with producer Jaret Reddick (of another Texas band, Bowling for Soup).

"He just took the songs we had recorded and twisted them all around," Chesen said. "He was like, if this is going to be on the radio, it's gotta be like this. So the songs are dramatically different, plus the difference between spending $800 on the recording or $10,000. No one's going to put anything on the radio that sounds like ass."


"After ditching its old name, Anything But Joey has gained wider recognition, including a gig at the Warped Tour."

After ditching its old name, Anything But Joey has gained wider recognition, including a gig at the Warped Tour.

Story by Stacie Schmidt

Eight months ago, the band Thulium decided it was time for a change. They knew they were headed in the right direction as a band and were beginning to be recognized regionally. One small problem stood in the way of that success: their name.

So, Thulium became Anything But Joey, and the success followed.

The band will face the highlight of its existence to date when it takes the Lyman Says stage at the 2003 Vans Warped Tour in Bonner Springs on June 24.

For seven years, Drew Scofield (bass, second vocals, songwriter), Bryan Chesen (guitar, third vocals), Matt Groebe (vocals), Steve Nick(guitar) and Jeffy P (drums) have become regionally known for their pop rock sound, having played with bands such as Jimmy Eat World, Good Charlotte, OKGo, Breaking Benjamins, Smashmouth, SR-71 and The Distillers.

During those years, Anything But Joey has grown as a band and realized the hardships of trying to succeed.

"This industry is so complex because its one of the extremely few jobs you create something, sell it, perform it, receive public accreditation for, and can make an unlimited amount of money all while achieving success or failure overnight," Chesen said. "Really trying to grasp that and experience it forces you to drown or swim."

Anything But Joey is clearly swimming with their newest CD, "Come Out Fighting." The 11-song CD is showcases what Anything But Joey has to offer as the band ventures outside the Midwest music scene in search of wider recognition.

The Warped Tour begins at noon, and Anything But Joey will be one of the first acts to perform. In preparation, the band's incredible street team has begun its work, including fliers, movie theaters, campuses, high schools, radio ads and sidewalk chalking heavy walking traffic areas.

Even if a passerby doesn't come to the show, the name will be embedded in their memory the more they see the name around town.

Since they perform so early, Anything But Joey plans on doing most of their on-site promotion afterward. They will be staying all day and have a booth set up with a meet-and-greet and plenty of Anything But Joey merchandise. Chesen said the band members pride themselves on being out in the crowd and getting to know people.

Anything But Joey have already performed with some of the acts on the Warped Tour including Simple Plan, Vendetta Red and Bowling For Soup. Chesen said they are most excited to see The Used, AFI, Andrew W.K., and other bands that they haven't had a chance to see live.

As for Anything But Joey's future after the Warped Tour, it shows the band's cup-is-half-full outlook on life.

"Hopefully we'll make some new friends in bands (at Warped Tour) to play with and set up some more dates for next year's tour," Chesen said.

Three days after the Warped Tour, the band will be playing at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, and are looking to do more touring towards the end of this year.


Now that Ultimate Fakebook will soon join the ranks of local bands that have bitten the dust, fans of uppity rock will have to look elsewhere for angsty yet somehow fun sonic droppings. Though Anything But Joey has been shilling its three-chord valentines since 1996, the KC quartet has yet to earn the respect of local hipster elitists. Its new EP probably won't change that, which is too bad given that no local band has been more influenced by Fakebook's propulsive approach to pop-music trickery. "Sunburn" packs everything ABJ does best -- catchy hooks, twin harmonies and a monster guitar riff -- into three minutes of sheer bliss. The infectious "That Girl" is more of the same, crackling with energy and good fun. The lone misfire is "Better Than You," a bitter ode to the band's numerous haters. The song relies on grade school insults (You can bite it) that go nowhere. "Better" underscores the main problem with this four-song excursion, which is that primary songwriter Drew Scofield's lyrics lack the typically sharp blend of wit and insight that makes other ABJ songs more compelling than they should be. This point is underscored when digging into the half-dozen bonus MP3s that come with this package. Rough versions of three standouts from the band's Come Out Fighting full-length ("Girl Roommate," "One," and "Girls Like U") are pun-packed pop tarts that fully satisfy, even in stripped-down form. The new material is solid, but only the extras make Not Cool necessary.

"Anything But Joey cannot be ignored."

Loathed by hipsters and metalheads, adored by seemingly every teenage girl in KC, Anything But Joey cannot be ignored. The KC 5 piece is one of the few local acts with a large enough following to play two shows at the same venue on the same night. The early gig should be packed to the gills with ABJ's legion of squealing fangirls. The later should have ample elbow room for the curious. On hand at both will be copies of ABJ's recently issued EP, the cheekily titled Necessary, But Not Cool, which features four new tunes plus six bonus tracks from the archives. The recent material features keyboard flourishes (courtesy of vocalist Matt Groebe) but retains the group's signature mix of uppity rock and harmonic pop. The Hurricane shows will serve to launch a five-week tour that will take ABJ across the Midwest, an outing that should provide the band with a few more photos for the "girls kissing" section of its Web site.

"Best Annoying Hit :)"

Anything But Joey scored a local smash with its superslick single "Girl Roommate," a sugar-pop confection that left area scenesters divided. Some loved it, others detested it, but few could deny that it was a damn catchy tune -- perhaps a little too catchy. As with the musical Hades that was "The Macarena," one had to hear the sing-songy chorus of "Roommate" only a few times before it was permanently etched into the brain, like it or not. But the song's wry lyrics, which recounted the frustrations of sharing living space with a Victoria Secret catalog-subscribing über-tease, were dense with clever lyrics: The protagonist is charmed by the girl's too-cute frog stuff in the bathroom, and has a dream -- You know the kind that change your mind/About life, about love/And about you too, not the band but the friend I know. The audience at Memorial Hall last December, when Joey opened for Good Charlotte and Jimmy Eat World, sure liked it -- the 3,000 attendees sang every word at the top of their lungs, cementing this Kansas City quartet's reputation as a hot local boy band and annoying the shit out of everyone else.


The Granada is supposed to be sold out. On its way to joining the "secret club" (Anything But Joey's own term for the elite clique of successful locals such as the Get Up Kids and the Anniversary), the group has filled equally large venues, and tonight it teams with prominent co-headliners Ultimate Fakebook. Unfortunately, booking the Lawrence venue on an Easter weekend means playing while a good percentage of Lawrence's student population is away, and it doesn't help that rain is streaming down in unforgiving sheets. Though the 400 fans in attendance are die-hards and some waited hours to get in, the turnout is a bit disappointing.

But any mixed feelings about the gig disappear the second ABJ takes the stage. The band's concerts are a force to behold, a cathartic blast of youthful energy. Bryan Chesen brandishes his guitar like a fencer, bassist Drew Scofield bops along amicably and Jeff Polaschek is a study in perpetual motion while seated at the drums. But it's singer Matt Groebe who's clocking the most onstage miles tonight. He scales one of the Granada's twin speaker towers, sings a few bars and then leaps back to the stage with acrobatic ease. He hops to his feet, jumps onto the drum riser and back to center stage.

Near the end of the set, "Girl Roommate" provokes the largest response, unsurprising given that the song has aired more than 650 times on KRBZ 96.5. The success of the song still shocks ABJ; the group has included it in live sets for eons.

"That song was two years old when the album came out," says Scofield, who pens the majority of ABJ's songs. "I didn't think it was going to be the big hit."

The song's origin, he insists, is grounded in reality. "I had a girl roommate for three years. I was in love with her -- she was my best friend. I never hooked up with her, but I did get to see her naked a few times."

Success, however, can be a double-edged sword, and ABJ has gotten a bit tired of its local smash.

"It's a good song, but we've been playing it for three years," Polaschek says. "I don't hate it by any means, but because we have to play it now at every show, I wish we didn't have to."

The Granada set crashes to a close, and Groebe staggers backstage, collapsing on a nearby couch. He's under the weather tonight, plagued by a flu bug. The crowd chants ABJ, ABJ, and the band forms an impromptu circle. Normally, the band members eschew encores, but tonight they make an exception, partially to thank the devotees who braved the downpour to be here.

"Let's go," Groebe urges the others, "Let's not make them wait."

A week later, things are looking better at Rock for Hope, an annual benefit concert held at ABJ's high school alma mater, Shawnee Mission West. With more than 1,000 rabid fans on hand, the halls of the school overflow with teen spirit. The band's merchandise booth is doing brisk business, and a number of teenyboppers sport the group's T-shirts, one of which promises You're gonna need a towel.

ABJ's history runs parallel to that of Rock for Hope. In 1996, ABJ (known then as Thulium) was in its beginning stages, four high school buds looking to have a few laughs and meet girls. The outfit also assumed that it would be a shoo-in to play the first Rock for Hope but wasn't selected.

"We were too arrogant, and we didn't get in," Chesen recalls. "And we shouldn't have -- we were god-awful. So the next year, we tried out and we actually did make it. That was a good time. We got to play on the 'student' stage."

A year later, the band performed on the main stage alongside Ultimate Fakebook and Ruskabank.

"That was a big deal for us," Polaschek says. "It was our first crowd. It wasn't like our friends. It was actually a crowd of people. It's a very good feeling, for the first time, to have a bunch of people you don't know standing there screaming. We sucked back then, and we haven't gotten much better. It just happens to be on a bigger scale now -- we suck on a bigger scale."

"The most Energetic Live Show in Town"

It formed in a Johnson County garage. Its members are young, cute and play angst-ridden valentines that make teenyboppers swoon. It took a really bad name (Thulium) and changed it to one that's even worse. It's also fast becoming one of KC's standout success stories. No wonder so many people hate Anything But Joey. Those detractors haven't been paying attention. Yeah, its fanbase consists almost entirely of young girls (that's a bad thing?), but ABJ's music deserves to be taken seriously. The quartet writes memorable pop songs with head-rushing harmonies and more hooks than Peter Pan's nemesis. Dig into the lyrics and you'll find smart, self-deprecating humor beneath the heartache. Vocalist Matt Groebe is Woody Allen with a microphone -- a perennially unlucky-at-love crooner whose romantic mishaps are his muse. ABJ also plays more gigs every month than most locals do in a year, traveling the region, landing high-profile opening slots and regularly packing clubs in KC and Lawrence. Overexposure can be the kiss of death for an area act, but ABJ avoids the trap by putting on the most consistently fun and energetic live show in town.


Come Out Fighting 2001
Neccesary, But Not Cool 2003

Hear samples at:



With influences including Green Day and Blink 182, expect to hear lots of great energetic melodies in ABJ's music. Matt's amazing vocals, Drew's catchy lyrics, Steve and Bryan's powerful guitars and Jeff's awesome live performance behind the drums produces some unforgettable hooks and sing-a-long songs. ABJ has sold over 2500 copies of their debut album "Come Out Fighting" in less than 2 years with a great DIY attitiude. ABJ is also the only local band from Kansas City to have a song spun over 800 times on a Kansas City commercial radio station at KRBZ 96.5 The Buzz. ABJ has shared the stage with bands such as Jimmy Eat World, American Hi-Fi, Good Charlotte and Simple Plan and recently had 2 songs placed in National Lampoon's Barely Legal. With over 500 shows under their belt in less than 4 years, Anything But Joey is sure to hit a town near you and over 18,000 friends on can’t be wrong when they say “Anything But Joey is your new favorite band!!!