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"Pop Music For Picky People"

Lincoln-based quartet Stalemate host their CD release party at the Blackstone on December 23 in honor of their sophomore effort, We Will Carry You Out to Sea. The newly-solidified lineup continues to make the rounds throughout Rhode Island, having played close to "100 shows if not more," keyboardist Matt DeMello told me earlier this week prior to another sold-out show with frequent co-performers Roz Raskin and the Rice Cakes and Prayers For Atheists. DeMello shares vocal duties with guitarist and co-founder Cory Waldron on We Will Carry You, a "genre-flipping, thoroughly experimental yet undeniably pop record," as accurately promoted on their site ( Works for me because I don't know what to call it. It's seriously unique alt-pop that at times sways from Hall and Oates ("When I Sing") to early Jimmy Eat World ("Maybe Tom Cruise Had a Point").

"Our guiding principle is eclecticism," DeMello said, "but it wasn't like, 'Oh Jesus, how do we succeed in combining rhythm and blues ballads with noisy punk riffs?' It was more just formulating the ideas we had already sketched out."

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Waldron elaborated: "We want each song to be as identifiable as if you were to hear Marvin Gaye, Billy Idol, the Replacements, and Elton John on the radio, in that order."

We Will Carry You Out to Sea was recorded over two 10-hour studio days, but took another 18 months to finalize, with Michael Lamantia of Makeupbreakup eventually taking over production duties. Stalemate seem to be rolling in good company, garnering dues mostly on the live circuit. Rice Cakes drummer Casey Belisle worked the kit for Stalemate's debut Grand Experiment before Kevin Pereira stepped in full-time, and Sam Brunner recently signed on as bassist. The band will continue to play out locally through the winter behind the new album.

"I've known these guys for a long time and they continue to impress me," Raskin emailed in support. "They have genuine lyrics and song structures that I believe are hard to find. And they always put on a killer, energetic show."

Said Prayers For Atheists frontman Jared Paul, "Stalemate work their collective asses off promoting and performing. We love playing out with those guys."

We Will Carry You Out to Sea taps into multiple platforms; on the standout cut "You're Not a Morning Person Are You," a cozy sax solo gives way to Waldron's gnarled and distorted guitar chops, leading into the blue-eyed soul of hammed-up ballad "When I Sing." On the other hand, the hook on "Maybe Tom Cruise Had a Point" is upbeat spazz-rock and should be an entertaining highlight on the band's next wave of gigs.

"I refer to our sound as 'pop music for picky people' — it has a nice ring to it," DeMello told me. "Before that I'd say 'power pop' only because we own distortion pedals and love Prince."

STALEMATE + ROZ RASKIN & THE RICE CAKES + BEAT SURRENDER | Wednesday, December 23 @ 9 pm | The Blackstone, 1005 Main St, Pawtucket | 401.726.2181 - The Providence Phoenix

"Stalemate Rock the Space"

By Elle Sievert

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Published: Sunday, October 18, 2009

Updated: Monday, October 19, 2009

Elle Sievert/The Quad News


Elle Sievert/The Quad News


Elle Sievert/The Quad News

A Stalemate performance is unforgettable. Whether listening to the band transition from a reggae inspired song to something more pop-rocky, or just watching the keyboardist/vocalist Matt Demello hop around in his socks and perform dance moves like Iggy Pop, these guys put on one heck of a show. And their music isn’t too bad, either. Defying all stereotypes, Stalemate is making its way in the music industry one shoe-less step at a time.

Stalemate got its start in Rhode Island. Demello and guitarist/vocalist Cory Waldron started making music with what they describe as a “circus of people”. Together they put out their first album, appropriately titled “Grand Experiment.” Now six years later, the band, which has gained the talents of Geoff Rush on bass and Kevin Pereira on drums, has a new album almost ready to hit the market. The new LP will be called “We Will Carry You Out to Sea.” According to Demello, a QU alum, the recording for the album has been done for about a year and a half, but with delays in mastering and getting the album art done, it looks like it will be released sometime in mid-November in the bands’ home state of Rhode Island.

Stalemate’s sound is not entirely definable, which is something the band has worked hard to accomplish. “We sound like a mix tape someone made,” Waldron said. “We just love so many kinds of music, we wanted to put out something different”; and that they did. When asked to describe their style in one word, the guys look at each other, and laugh. What they came up with was “fungletunglerock” or what they called “friend-rock.”

“When we play a show, we make friends with the people in the audience, that’s friend rock” Demello said. “Because we do something different, people listening sometimes go ‘what?’ and then they listen more and get it.”

“It’s really pop music for picky people,” Demello said, “And we are those people.”

The guys are booking any shows they are able to right now, but it’s a bit difficult with all their different schedules and commitments. Once winter comes around, the guys have a break from school and work, they’re going to try and tour a bit farther away. Last spring the band did a mini-tour of five shows across four states. Right now they are playing all over New England on the weekends.

It is a bit out of the norm for a high school band to last as long as Stalemate has, and even the band-mates are surprised they are still together and making such progress. But Waldron puts it in perspective. “It’s what we wanna do. We wanna sound like real people making music. We just do it in our own way.”

The guys all come from different musical backgrounds, which attributes to their unique style. But they all have one trait in common. “People have such short attention spans today. Almost nobody listens to a whole album anymore,” Demello said, “But we have four people who listen to albums.” This may seem like a minor detail, but to Stalemate there’s meaning in patience when it comes to listening to a record start to finish and giving it a fair run. That translates into the band itself.

The band is its own mini-business, with the guys doing all the work themselves. Their least favorite parts, according to Demello, are things like dealing with layouts and all the technical aspects. But as they put it, “That’s the monster we are living with. We have to do all the work and just keep going.”

And they are certainly going. They already have half of their third album written. But for now, until the second one gets released, the band has a message for their ever-growing fan base: “Keep you ears open. It’s coming, I promise!” - Quad News


If you were born between the years 1983 and 1990, here’s a quick history lesson to bring you up to speed on where we stand. We’re called Millennials, though Evan Wright’s monsters might become popular when history books are actually printed up. We were born to Baby Boomers, bred on GenX-ers, and all along the way told with the new information super highway the world was at our fingertips and the new American Century would be one full of flying cars and orgasms. I’m not really sharp enough to tell you when that all turned on us, but before long we were taught to fear guns and pipe bombs going off between class periods, our parents slipped Ritalin and Adderall into our Coco Puffs, and TRL slowly but surely turned us all sterile. By the time the Y2K did come, we were waiting on the 360 of that promised future we were told was coming around. Instead came the time when we lived in the post 9-11 days of America. You stood for the pledge every morning, watched gas prices yo-yo day-to-day, and were told “You’d better make some decent money in life if you don’t want to starve in this day and age.” So ended our promise.

For all our good and ills, like every generation since the last Great War, we deserve solid musical representation for our years. This however becomes a more difficult task than it was for our parents and older siblings for quite a few reasons, the first of which being the music business is currently in the bleeding-out stage of its existence. Any music that exists or will exist in the future is currently available for free in one digital form or another. Even the top of the charts have seen a multi-million dollar slip in sales over the last three years. This leaves us free to do whatever it is our little hearts desire, but leaves us without a wizard behind the curtain to give us a big push into definition. Beyond the lack of marketing, the cracks in our scenes are big enough to fit Pluto. Once the turn of the century came we divided and never really found our crossroad. There were the suicidal Johnny Knoxville groupies, the testosterone-filled Nu-metal mutants, the slit-wrist valentines, the indie darlings, and the Otaku nerdcores all thinking their day was coming. This twisted little knitting makes it hard to think that a defining sound could come out to label the group now entering mid-to-late twenties. Yet in the small New England state of Rhode Island, somewhere between the Coca-Cola plant and the Carvel factory, lives Matt DeMello, Geoffrey Rush, Corey Waldron, and Kevin Perreira, who make up the band Stalemate, and possibly the equal sign to our generation’s equation.
As far as musical talent goes, Stalemate falls firmly on the professional level. Their songs are tightly written and complete with beautifully placed musical interludes, solos, and the occasional Benzedrine (if my guess is right) fueled rant/beat poem. Their first album, “Grand Experiment” is as ambitious as one can get using Garage Band. But these aren’t the reason they’re worth spilling ink over. Any band can tighten the screws, and ambitious can be defined as your cousin playing violin on track 2. What’s important is the music itself. Stalemate can be called, if nothing else, a truly honest band. While most musicians of the day either deny the time period they where born in or strangle the current scene for everything it’s worth, Stalemate takes the balance. There is no denying the modern influences that shine through in their songs. Such songs as “Running” off their first album include the patient Victory Records deep throat scream choking out the lyrics “Trust me/ It could have been worse/ I could have been running with someone else/ when I’m better off with you” They could have stuck to this formula and easily followed as the next Hawthorne Heights or Brand New (especially with Demello’s work on the keyboards). However they rise above this with a collection of socially-conscious songs including “Maybe Tom Cruise has a Point”, an all around Pattie Smith-influenced tune of this generation’s exposure to behavior drugs. The rest of the song’s subject range from sex, living with cancer in a family, suburban hopelessness, mental stagnation and over-stimulation, and anything else in between.

The live shows lack no luster due to the complex nature of the songs. They are profound events but are not devoid of humor. Matt DeMello dances around his area of the stage wearing anything from New Wave Devo glasses to a full-blown cowgirl outfit. Corey Waldron wails on heavy metal-style solos that remind the public why the guitar gets you laid. Geoff Rush bends himself into a human pretzel and demands attention that defies the bass guitar’s usual backdrop role. The whole thing is held together by Kevin Perreira drumming, which bleeds Bonzo volume and steadiness. The set lasts between 45 minutes to 2 hours (a personal experience of mine) and includes cover songs that range from To-To’s “Africa” to Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade”. The shows are loud, sweaty, fulfilling, and I have yet to see them not asked on for an encore.

With a resume like this there seems to be very little holding the boys back from the limelight. Their location is an excepted problem, with Providence not making anyone’s best or worst town’s list (either will work for the next big thing). For this I recommend an outpour of support from Boston to grab the boys while we can, lest we repeat the mistake we made with That Handsome Devil and let the New York scene swallow them whole. It is important not to lose these boys. Not because they are my personal friends, not because we need to be the celebrated hipsters who knew them before they where famous, but because if my guess is on, these boys can tell the story right. When it is asked by whatever rock and roll history scribe of tomorrow “But what did the Millennials ever come up with?” we can for once answer, “This.” -

"Friend Rock"

A hush fell over the congregation, as the keening preacher’s wail of Stalemate singer/pianist Matthew Demello thundered through the dark confines of TT the Bears Place. “You’re all a part of Friend Rock now. This is where it all begins.”

With his arms raised up in a gesture of blessing, Demello maintains the rapt attention that he and his group from Lincoln, RI have kept so well since they took the stage. He beckons his flock to put all their hands in the center: “Go forth, makes friends with our friends, and continue what we have begun here.”

But what exactly was it that was begun at TT the Bears on January 14th, a place where bands play seven nights a week and where rock music is anything but uncommon?

The show in question, also featuring up-and-comer local groups Hello Ninja and The Young Leaves was something of a rock n’ roll anomaly, where a dividing line between navel-gazing third generation Joy Division ripoff “indie rock” and bombast vapid “Corporate rock” has made the concept of, “a good time, guaranteed for one and all” something of a scarce species in millenial rock music. Unlike the Dodo or the Passenger Pidgeon however, rock n’ roll has a habit of cropping back up when we least expect it, as was the case on the night of the 14th.

UMass Dartmouth’s the Young Leaves were first on the bill, bringing their anthemic revival of early 90s underground guitar pop. A brief glimmer of hope in rock music when they originally debuted in 2007, the Leaves initially had released one album before dissolving at the end of that year. Recently regrouping with a decidedly thrashier intent, the Leaves played a pogo-worthy set featuring a selection of older favorites such as “Look Sharp, Die Young” and newer exercises in sonic brutality such as “Life Underneath” and “Call me Cal”. “Listen to ‘Adrenaline’ or ‘White Pony’ by Deftones,” 6'7? frontman Christopher Chaisson joked with the crowd on Tuesday, “if you want to hear where I stole all my riffs from.” The Leaves are finished off by bassist Andy Hume and drummer Simon Jay.

Riffs and solos were also on the agenda for Boston-based Hello Ninja, delivering a pleasing blend of rousing roadhouse rock and frantic dancebeats, powered forward by the frantic Keith Moon-influenced pounding of former Reaganauts skinsman Anthony Geehan and the soaring lead vocals of twin towers Cat Basile (bass) and Willard Deeks (guitar). Of the three groups playing that night Hello Ninja proved to be the most infectious, inspiring the small core of those present to shake their tail-feathers in sheer bliss, culminating with their infectious “Mercy”, which saw rhythm guitarist Ian Sears (his last show with the Ninjas) leaping off the stage and bouncing amongst the attendees gleefully.

Finishing off the night was Providence, RI’s secret weapon: Stalemate. Bringing their unique blend of millenial anthem rock to the Boston stage for the first time, Stalemate wowed onlookers with an ecstatic performance that combined the edge-of-your-seat theatrics of Demello with the inspired guitar heroics of singer/guitarist Cory Waldron, and the supple rhythm section of Geoff Rush (bass) and Kevin Peirra (drums). Although the room had cleared out some after Hello Ninja’s set, Stalemate played it like U2 on the Joshua Tree tour. “They’re really something to see,” said Friend Rock regular Molly Heintzelman, “No matter who they play to, they tend to win the room over.” The sentiment seemed to be echoed in the remaining concertgoers, who showed their enthusastic support and called for encores up until the very end.

“Boston definitely let us get our foot in the door a little,” remarked Demello after the set, “but this is only the beginning.” -


The Stalemate Discography:

Grand Experiment- Our first LP released in 2005, available for sale and streaming on the Stalemate myspace.

Northeast Live EP- A Live EP we give out free at Live shows with a purchase of any LP release. Released in June 2009.

We Will Carry You Out To Sea- Our second LP due for release in late August 2009. Tracks off this record ("Will 4 Prezident", "Morning Person", "10 Dollars") are featured on the Stalemate myspace.



Welcome to the New Millennium. We’ve got it all: robots, flying cars, talking animals, and brand name theme parks located in craters on the moon. Could there be a better soundtrack to this hopeful future than the music of Stalemate? Culled from the finest ingredients hand-picked fresh from your favorite dusty .45s and late 90s brick-sized mp3 players, Stalemate captures the epic pomp and circumstance of the late, great rock n’ roll while romping happily in the fecal remains of all the subgenres that came after. What was it that Cole Porter said? “Make the new sound familiar, and the familiar sound new.” This, surely is Stalemate.

Rising from ground zero of some new teen beat movement in the thriving metropolis of Lincoln, RI, Stalemate is the brain-child of the childhood friends, guitarist Cory Waldron and pianist Matt DeMello. On the one hand, you have Waldron who is the calm and collected Yin to DeMello’s raging yang. With his soulful croon juxtaposed by schooled metallic shredding, he fits European Fantasy Speed Metal epics into tasteful melodic guitar solos that instantly demand “the guitar face” while delivering plenty of shock and awe. Think Ingmar Bergman directing a Michael Bay summer blockbuster. On the other hand you have DeMello, the raging righteous Mr. Hyde to Waldron’s well-healed Jekyll. Part suburban boy-prophet, part thoughtful post-De La Rocha generational town cryer, DeMello gathers all to the street corner to preach the word of the Brave New World. Equally willing to stand knee-deep in the shit with the rest of us as he is to intellectualize tragedy’s aftermath, DeMello lets all loose with thoughtful prose switching from a soft murmur to a tuneful howl.

All of this would fall flat without the supple and schooled rhythm section of Samuel Brunner and Kevin "Kdawg" Pereira. The former is (what would appear to be) a comely, soft spoken, gentle giant. Which is to say, until he has a bass solo... or his floating, hydrogen inflated harmonies soar above a subtle R&B arrangement... or when he swaps instruments mid-jam with Waldron or DeMello. Seemingly without straining effort, Brunner's unassuming grace can shame even the most ego-driven of frontmen. The Dave Grohl in this equation is the Bonhamesque "K-dawg"; an artist whose prowess is in his subtlety. Take for instance the probing, rumbling build Pereira builds behind Peter Gilli's excellent saxophone solo in "You're Not A Morning Person, Are You..." An incredible crescendo from a consumate engineer of suspense that releases into the all-hell-breaks-loose of Waldron's rolling, metallic, guitar frills. Did I mention he's humble as apple pie? K-dawg is one lone levelheaded dude in this batch of too-hip-to-quit queens... and probably the guy in the band you could actually see yourself grabbing a beer with after the show. Switch hitting between the toe-tapping syncopated grooves of mid-70s funk and the fast paced chug of modern metal and hard rock, Brunner and Pereira remind us all that complex time changes and fierce rhythmic propulsion are not mutually exclusive terms.

So far this has been a lot of sloganeering for the individual talents, but what about the whole? The product? The very reason for being?

Packed with an arsenal of future hit singles, Stalemate is set to annihilate the competition with We Will Carry You Out To Sea, a genre flipping, thoroughly experimental, yet undeniably pop record set to unite the warring factions of rock music's tribal citizens. It fulfills the promise of the most bombastic, esoteric art rockers of the last quarter century, while still trafficking in that oh-so-important medium of the three minute nugget that has sustained popular culture since Buddy Holly wrote "Peggy Sue". There is something on this record to please everyone, and those who can't find anything are surely the very same sort who also share a dislike for The Muppets, Baby Animals, and Shirley Temple. As for the rest? Stalemate awaits you. New... and familiar.

-- Stephen Bailey, RI 2009