Neutral Ground

Neutral Ground


Take the feel and grandeur of a band such as U2, mix in the bluberries of The Police. Throw in the dirty strength of a sugary Crunch bar that is every Metal Band. Lastly, mix in British Pop Rock, Experimental, Punk, Reggae, Blues, and in general, bands that are just cool in their own right.


Writing a biography is close to one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It almost feels awkward to write it; we are all barely in our twenties, and yet I can recall so many lineup changes and evolutions to our music’s style and substance. This band has been around for over four years now and we have yet to get a record deal. Nor have we played in a grand festival in the league of events like Lollapalooza. The greatest achievement I can muster is that we’re still making great music.

That’s all I could ever ask for.

Seemingly enough that sounds more like an ending than a beginning. But sometimes you have to look at where you are now to realize where you began. So…here we go.

Neutral Ground can trace its roots back to the year 2004. In Brooklyn Technical High School, a production of The Who’s Rock Opera Tommy was in the making. It was there where NG frontman Anatole Rahman met drummer Daniel Alicea while rehearsing for the coming show.

A short talk one day soon turned into a deep discussion of musical backgrounds and ideas. Anatole was a huge, die-hard fan of U2. In spite of that, his tastes were extremely eclectic, ranging from Afroman to Depeche Mode to The Beatles. Dan, on the other hand, grew up on Punk, Ska, and Reggae, especially the genre-bending So-cal band Sublime.

A few poorly covered renditions of ‘Santeria’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, and ‘Two Princes’ later, the two began to slowly take things more seriously, with Dan’s garage as the focal point of their writing songs.

Anie and Dan worked with a few guitarists, although I can safely say the first serious guitarist was Jimmy Asciolla Jr., a close friend of Anatole. Jimmy’s influences reigned heavily on classic rock bands, and only fairly recently where his passion for Metallica, Van Halen and other legendary guitar shredders became a huge part of him.

Soon enough the three met with a fourth member of the band, Munif, the bass player. Munif had fairly similar affinity to Metallica as Jimmy did, and it was not long before the quartet began to make songs. Several songs were already in the works, and it was only a hop, skip and a jump before they had enough songs for a setlist. Anatole’s passionate singing and desire, Jimmy’s technical prowess, Munif’s love of a groove, and Dan’s bottomless well of energy made for fairly interesting tunes.

Eventually the band as a whole decided to try and make a demo CD. Fortunately for them Jimmy knew someone with a recording studio and was willing to do it at an affordable price. The recording of the band’s first demo in 2005 led to the learning of many lessons on being a band:

1) You get what you pay for. Although we got a nice, healthy discount from the producer, the final product was fairly overproduced and not of great quality.

2) Things rushed rarely lead to quality. With the affordable price came a lot of time constraints. We had roughly 20 hours to record 7 songs. That’s less than 3 hours to a song to get right. Time was surely a luxury, and the result would have surely been better given more time.

3) We were still young. The whole band then had been playing together for less than a year, and none of us (except for Jimmy) have ever recorded a song before. Dan was not used to a metronome or a set of electronic drums. Our inexperience was clearly heard in the songs we recorded.

With the demo done, Anatole sent the CD out to many record companies, and a similar reply came from each of them: “We need a better quality demo.” It was a rather discouraging thing to hear given the work we put into it, but we had to take what we learned and move on.

The months that followed the demo, unfortunately, were not much better. Munif, wanting to pursue college, left the band in the fall of 2005. The band was left to a trio, with Anatole putting down his Rhythm Guitar and taking up a Bass. It was not until November when Neutral Ground decided to take their hand at playing gigs. By this time, tensions began to rise between Jimmy and the other members.

Any tension that was there at the time was washed away when the three wrote “The Shape of Things” one day in Dan’s garage in 2006. The process in making the song was nothing short of magic. What started with a unique, fun Bass line soon grew into a Reggae-Indie-Rock-Pop Anthem…which was over 7 minutes long. But the length didn’t matter to those who listened to it; in fact many said that the song hardly felt like seven minutes. That, certainly, meant we were up to something.

Realizing the potential the song had, we went to see another recording studio, this one owned by friends from high school. Over three days we recorded The Shape of Things, and we were all there to make sure that everything was just right. Surely enough, we finished it, and every second of that song, although not perfect, was pure, unadulterated greatness.

Unfortunately, as amazing as SoT was, our tension with Jimmy soon came


Start Again

Written By: Anatole Rahman

Laughter had englulfed me in
Lost my head in misery
In their eyes there's blue
But in their hearts only green
Gave me a home of my own
Next to a friend who'd murder me
In their eyes there's blue
But in their hearts there's only greed

And I know where I belong
And I know it won't be long
And I know just who is right
Can't let anger cloud my sight

And I know it's time to start again
Find our way out from the dark
Time to show that we will build again
All eyes on us to play our part
And I know I'll find myself again
If I don't go in the dark
And I know I will be strong again
If I hold on to my heart

And they try to bring me down
With their sights and their sounds
My will stronger than their might
Can't let hunger cloud my sight

Set List

Average Set Time: 30-45 Minutes

Original Songs:
Not This Time (5:20)
Start Again (4:30)
Shadows In The Rain (4:30)
Indy Goes West (3:10)
Singing In My Ear (4:20-4:50)
Divine (4:30)
Where's Love When You Need It (4:30)
The Shape Of Things (7:00)+