Project Charlie
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Project Charlie

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Apr
24
Project Charlie @ Connolly's Klub 45

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Apr
10
Project Charlie @ Alphabet Lounge

New york, New York, USA

New york, New York, USA

Mar
28
Project Charlie @ Arlene's Grocery

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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Interview with Peter Smith of Project Charlie


We realize many of you have never heard of Peter Smith. Actually, being the common name that it is, you probably know one. This Peter Smith, however, is anything but common. He is one of the lead singer’s of the up and coming rock ‘n roll band, Project Charlie, the band that is “making rock & roll music the way it was meant to be”. Peter is a born and bred Manhattanite, and has a pretty large following of hipsters, socialites, and Rock ‘n Roll groupies (read: everyone that goes to Bar Martignetti’s). He has his ex girlfriend to thank for many of his angst filled lyrics, and is set on spreading “warm fuzzies” throughout the world. Oh, he’s also single ladies, and though feels he is “doomed in love”…is still holding out hope. Here is a glimpse into the life of a rockstar trying to break free.

What were the best and worst parts about growing up in Manhattan?
I’d say growing up in the City is a bit of a Catch 22. It’s certainly one of the most cultural places in the world and one gets exposed to a lot. Yet you also grow up a lot faster because of this. I remember going to my first bar in 9th grade. Granted that bar was Chihuahua’s, and was more of a third rate Mexican restaurant, but we were being served at 14. That really put me off tequila for life. But beyond alcohol consumption there is so much to do in the city if you take advantage of it. I also love how the city really has a pulse that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. It’s like every corner, block and neighborhood has its own thing going on. So much can be happening in one square block it still amazes me how alive this place is. That being said it’s hard to live anywhere else after growing up in the city. I mean where else can you find a great slice at four in the morning.

What music did you listen to growing up?
Part of me was definitely shaped by the effects of MTV, raised on crap and rap (yet not as bad as what’s coming out today.) But there was great stuff being recorded in the 90’s as well. I listened to my fair share of Nirvana, Sublime, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers. But I had my first love affair with the Grateful Dead. My sister gave me “In the Dark”, which wasn’t their best album but good enough to wet my appetite. I was always into the Beatles and Classic Rock in general, but I think it was the Dead that really got me into music.

Where did you go to high school, and what was college like at
Franklin & Marshall, have you kept a lot of your childhood friends?
My high school experience was the product of my rambunctious and misspent youth. I went to Choate for high school at the insistence of my parents and for the most part I did not enjoy it. I grew up in a fairly relaxed household so I didn’t really appreciate being told I couldn’t smoke or go into a girl’s room by a complete stranger. In addition I wasn’t thrilled about having to leave the City for Wallingford C.T. Franklin & Marshall was a breath of fresh air compared to boarding school but even that soared after a while. Although I did start writing music seriously at Franklin & Marshall due to a not so amicable break up. It was such a tiny school that it was kind of shoved in my face everyday so I vented by writing songs. Most of those were really spiteful and angry so they’ve been retired. But that got me to a place where I could realize my creativity and then use it to deal with stuff. I almost want to tell her thanks for the heartbreak it lit a fire in me. But beyond music, I’ve gotta be honest I really enjoyed learning at F&M. It was the first time in my life I took my studies seriously and I really got into it. How lame does that sound?

“Project Charlie is making Rock and Roll music the way it was meant
to be” How was rock and roll meant to be made and how is that
different from the other bands of this genre?
Old Remington St. James wrote that so I’m not sure how he meant it, but I think there is a tendency to play follow the leader in music. You saw it a lot when the Strokes broke into the scene and suddenly every band sounded like they wanted to be them. We don’t have a particular “sound” or even a genre for that matter. One critic recently described our soundscape as being “punk rock to roots rock and roll, prog and jazz.” I think we also write about a lot of topics that aren’t necessarily typical to rock n’ roll. We’ve written songs about the Hell’s Angels, Ed Norton’s character in 25th hour, and even story songs like “Holy Roller”. We don’t like to be pinned down to subject matter or perspective and I think our music represents that.



Why the name Project Charlie?
It was a program I was in during Kindergarten. I know other schools had it as well because every now and then somebody gets the reference. It was primarily an anti-drug program but there was an aspect that was aimed at teaching kids how to deal with each other. They had these catch phrases like “give warm fuzzies not cold prickilies,” w - Guest of a Guest


This is an extremely unique disc. For one thing, these guys seem to refuse to be tied down to one musical style. They are all over the soundscape from punk rock to roots rock and roll, prog and jazz. It’s all done with a rather unique garage sensibility. I’d have to say that one of my favorite aspects of the music is the lead guitar soloing which isn’t content to sit in one little pocket of a song, instead preferring to show up here and there throughout. That’s something I’ve always loved in music and you really see it less and less these days. While I wouldn’t say that I’m “in love” with everything on this album, I would say that it never fails to entertain and that it’s got a great sense of originality and adventure. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of classic rock and alternative rock


Track by Track Review




Be: The riff that opens this really reminds me of Cheap Trick’s take on “Ain’t That a Shame.” When they turn out into the verse section, though, it feels more like a stripped down punk rock, though. The chorus has a bit of a Black Crowes feel to it with an accessible, if a bit quirky, arrangement. This is a catchy track that shows off quite a few different textures, making it rather hard to pin down. We even get some Beatles-like vocal sections.



Complications: Far more punk oriented, this one’s a little weird. It doesn’t work as well as the previous piece, but definitely has its moments. It has quite a bit of garage band chic.



Cool Ryder: Here the group really show off their diversity. This track has a slow groove that calls to mind classic 1970’s styled rock quite a bit. It can’t place a certain band or song, but this definitely has that sort of texture. There’s also bits of Stiv Bators on the vocal delivery.



Holy Roller: An acoustic based jam with a bouncy sort of old school rock and roll texture is the order of the day here. This one is actually one of my favorite cuts on the disc. It’s still quirky, but just seems to work a bit better to me. There’s even an intriguing, jazzy sort of segment later in the number.



Everybody Needs Something: In some ways this one doesn’t differ a lot from the other music on the disc. On the other hand the high profile usage of piano and the more sedate arrangement give it a fresh and unique flavor.



Rumors of War: Symphonic instrumentation lead this off for a major change of pace, then the group launch into a stirring wah-guitar take on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” The vocals come over in a distorted, angry way. After the verse they work this out into a more mellow motif that carries the chorus. They include a great progressive rock oriented section later and this is without question my favorite track on show here. This is a smoking tour de force as it works its way through reiterations and reworkings of its various motifs.



Higher Ground: Here we get another high energy introduction. This has less of a punk and more of an alternative rock feeling to it. They pull in a few changes and twists on this arrangement, too. It’s another that has some minor Beatles leanings from time to time.



Queen of Spades: This hard rocker is another highlight of the disc. It has a great retro texture with elements of modern alternative rock thrown in for good measure.



Baby Steps: The acoustic guitar flourish that starts this off reminds me a bit of Steve Howe, but they quickly shift out into a more hard rocking sound for a short time. Then we get sounds that are mellower and feel just a tiny bit like Pink Floyd. This track is dramatic and powerful in an understated way and is another standout on the CD.



Pura Vida: This is a mellower, bouncy sort of cut that’s interesting and a good change of pace, but not really a standout. It’s a bit jazzy in an acoustic way.



All In My Head: This hard rocker is one of the punkier tracks on show here. It’s also one of the cooler ones. I like this one a lot.



Closer: First off, what a great (if obvious) title that is for the final cut on the CD. This is also one of the highlights of the disc. It has less of that awkwardness that shows up on some of the other songs. It’s a killer, nearly prog rock oriented, excursion that alternates between mellow jazz, jam band and other sounds in an enchanting journey that serves as a great conclusion to the disc. At almost five and a half minutes this is the longest cut on show here. - Music Street Journal


Discography

"These Days" (2007) on Romulus X Records

Photos

Bio

Heralding the end of the plastic pop explosion of the past decade, a New York band, Project Charlie, is making Rock and Roll music the way it was meant to be. Like an iron fist in a soft-bellied world, Project Charlie’s music unabashedly tackles everything from war, to sex and life with a sound as diverse as it’s members. Founded by Peter Smith (Vocals, Rhythm Guitar) and Neill MacCallum (Bass Guitar, Vocals), two friends who grew up playing music together in Manhattan, the bands lineup has grown into a crew of musician’s musicians who came together through the movements of the great magnet. Neill stumbled upon drummer, Alec Menge, playing with a jazz troupe in Central Park. As Neill made his way home it started to rain forcing him to find shelter under a bridge where Alec had set up his kit and continued to drum. The rest as they say, is history. Jay Comer (Keyboards) was introduced through a mutual friend Peter met while surfing in Montauk, while their newest addition, Darren Korb (Lead Guitar, Vocals) a veteran of the band Iccarus, became involved after sitting in on a mixing session. Recently signed to Romulus X Records by Kenneth Colgate after years touring the New York Music scene as well as venues from Boston to Delaware, they have finished work on their first studio album “These Days.” With songs that range from the satiric and romantic to the raw, unapologetic grit that snaps through the spine of today’s desiccated music scene, the Project’s sound pegs you square in the viscera and then brings you to your knees to shake you down again like some backalley sadist. Refusing to chain themselves to an ideal or genre, each members influence combines to create music as wild and organic as it was in the early days of Rock, when mother’s tied their daughter’s into bed each night to protect them from the virile and dangerous allure of wanton behavior and electric sex.