Bamm Hollow
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Bamm Hollow

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The best kept secret in music


"the Aquarian -East Coast Rocker"

BAMM HOLLOW - Love Playing Live
by Bob Makin
East Coast Rocker, May 28, 2003

The following chat with Mike Massa, co-founding vocalist-guitarist of the funky Middletown-based improvisational pop band, is part of the prize for winning the The Great Bamboozle Jam Session, which also enables them to play with national acts on Saturday during the art and culture festival at The Stone Pony, Asbury Park. In addition to the Bamboozle gig, we chatted about the band’s evolution and plans.To find out more about Bamm Hollow—also guitarist Joe Magrino, bassist Frank Ulatowski and drummer Jerry Keating—visit www.bamm

Bamm Hollow have been around quite a long time, since a very young age. Comment on how that experience helped to win the Bamboozle band contest.
We’ve played shows packed from the front door to the back bathrooms, and shows where it was the bartender and our girlfriends, and that’s it. So we’ve run the gamut of experiences, and it just makes us prepared for whatever that night is going to have in store. At the Bamboozle (Jam Session), I thought there were a few bands that were definitely going to take the prize that night and not us.We played a very straight set and threw in at the last minute a cover of The Allman Brothers’‘In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed,’ which no one really ever covers, and jammed the hell out of it. The audience really got into it, and I think that’s what put us out in front. But every band was great that night.

Comment on how The Great Bamboozle has given a great opportunity to Jersey bands with an extra stage dedicated to them.
It’s really given an opportunity to reach as wide of a local/regional audience as possible.You don’t normally get to play in front of a few thousand people. It’s a great challenge to have to win the crowd over.These are going to mostly be people who have never heard of us before, so it’s fun to get a little nervous about how they’re going to react.We are a live band and are really confident in our live shows, so it should be great.

Bamm Hollow take a creative, business-like approach to. Comment on how this has worked in your favor.
You have to love playing live.You have to earn people’s desire to hear what you’re doing. The only way you can do that is by playing shows anywhere and everywhere.That gave us the knowledge of how to perform for different audiences and how to get people into our music. The so-called brass ring, if it comes, would be the proverbial icing on the cake to what we have accomplished on our own. The business of running our band comes from the fact that some of our day jobs are in the corporate world, and keeping things in
order, with contacts and bookers and so on, is imperative to our collective efforts, which our day jobs have taught us.We have never had anyone help us.You have to rely on yourself to get things done and not wait on others to do it for you, which in the end made us a lot stronger and smarter as a band.

You’ve released several EPs in the wake of your 2000 full-length, Three Days? When will the next full-length be released and how does the potential material compare to the debut?
We are finishing up 20 new songs...we’ll work over at our shows. We’re looking into the early fall to go back into the studio...Hopefully the early winter we’ll have a new full-length ready.The new material is a lot more about vocal harmony and using all our assets as individual musicians to our own benefit.The new songs are more aggressive.We hate repeating ourselves.

Is Bamm Hollow a jam band?
We were never really considered a ‘jam band,’ more a band that improvised when playing live. If you listen to our album and EPs, you wouldn’t really find any jamming, except on our first album.We stopped caring about fitting into someone’s genre box.We all just love music in general, and if we feel like jamming, we jam. If we feel like rocking out ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard’ theme song, that’s what we do.We don’t pigeonhole ourselves.

How has the band’s sound evolved over the years?
It’s more concentrated on the song and the ‘less is more’ philosophy.We used to put the most intricate parts we could come up with in every song, trying to display as much ability as possible with each chorus or bridge. But we all learned that being flashy and pulling out your entire arsenal of techniques and so on was not as conducive to the greater whole. It’s always more about trying to do your part of the song as well as you can, to make it more musical as a song in its entirety, not showcasing yourself and saying, ‘I can solo, look at me!’ So we have grown up a lot as far as musicianship is concerned.

What inspired the band’s name?
It’s the name of the road in Middletown where I lived with my family when we started playing together in high school.We had gone over a bunch of names, and Joe had been looking at the sign in front of my house and offered it as an option.We agreed it was a great name, and since we began our lives in a band together in my parents’ garage, and wrote and recorded our first material there, we thought it was as good a name as we could get.

What other plans does Bamm Hollow have?
This summer we’re booking mostly festivals in and around the tri-state area like the Siren Festival in Coney Island and The Pop in the Park Festival in Bensalem, PA.We are finalizing our summer tour schedule and demoing new songs. Along with a re-launch of our website within the next few months, and some more promo stuff, like T-shirts, and stickers, we’ll be pretty busy.

You lost a band member to drugs. How did John’s death impact the band?
John’s loss was really hard to bear. He was the youngest of us, and was like our little brother. John was a very integral part of the way we used to sound. He was an open pipeline of musicality with everything he played. It would just pop out of him. So after he passed, and Frank came in, who was filling in for John in the months prior to his death, we had to change our whole way of doing things. Our song structure changed and our writing turned a different corner.We became a different band. If you hear our album and listen to our stuff now, you can hear the change.We are really excited about our new material and how far we’ve come from Three Days, but are still very proud of what we did with John.We are setting up a memorial page for John that will have some really great pics of him.
- Bob Makin


2003 - This is where were from 4 song EP – 2,315 copies
2002 - For John 4 song EP – 1,903 copies
2001 - Lookout, here they come! 4 song EP – 1,500 copies (sold out initial pressing)
2000 –Three Days – 2,750 copies to date (sold out 1st pressing)
1998 - White Tape – 200 copies (out of print)
1997 - Green Tape – 500 copies (out of print)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Bamm Hollow began in 1993 when, at the ages of 16, Michael Massa and Joe Magrino started writing and recording songs together. With mutual enthusiasm for their music, they recruited other musicians and officially founded Bamm Hollow. In their early career, the band played as many shows as they possible could. From backyard parties, colleges, to clubs, they played whenever the opportunity was offered. As time went on, playing predominantly in the NJ area, they garnered a reputation as one of the most promising local bands in the tri-state vicinity. Based on their generated buzz, the band was steadily booked for numerous opening slots for national touring acts as they came through the area. With the increased demand, they started to travel more frequently to NYC playing shows in The Village at venues such as the Acme Underground and The Elbow Room Theater. Known for there relentless energy, extensive musicianship and packed shows they continued to impress fans and onlookers alike. Bamm Hollow had established themselves on the local Tri-sate area circuit as a band that was widely received for their ability to play, write, and perform stylistically different from their competition. As their popularity grew, and income from shows increased, they started talking about recording a full-length album.

In 2000, Bamm Hollow now consisting of Massa, Magrino, John Swint, and Jerry Keating recorded what was their first independent release entitled "Three Days". Recording on a shoestring budget, producing the album, overseeing the mixing and mastering, and engineering the entire album themselves along with studio owner and engineer Joseph Demaio, they left the studio with 11 songs and an album they were immensely proud of. This endeavor lead to an initial CD run of 2,500 copies.

In April of 2000, they celebrated the release of their CD at one of their favorite local clubs, the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, NJ. To a sold out audience of friends, family, and fans they played for two straight hours. With a local summer tour already in the works, and successful sales of "Three Days" things were looking bright for Bamm Hollow’s future.

Entering into the fall and winter of that year, bookings for Bamm Hollow shows increased. At the height of their continuing successful 8 years, the group ran into troubled times. The band came face to face with their bass player John Swint’s personal battle with drug addiction, causing their live shows to suffer. Shortly after, he left the band, and entered into a series of rehabilitation sessions.

Sadly, in June of 2002 at the age of 22, Jonathan Vernon Swint passed away from complications due to his years of drug abuse.

Frank Ulatowski, a well-known bassist in the area, and friend who had previously filled in for John Swint while he was hospitalized, now became a permanent member of Bamm Hollow. Frank’s ability on the bass, along with his knowledge of music and diverse instruments added a new dimension to Bamm Hollow. With Michael Massa, Joseph Magrino, Jerry Keating, and Frank Ulatowski, the line up was complete.

As Bamm Hollow embarks into a new dimension, the future again looks promising. Ten years of success, heartbreak, changing members, backyard parties, colleges, clubs and studios Bamm Hollow is still doing what they set out to do from the very first time they played, to make original, great music…