The Successful Failures
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The Successful Failures

Chesterfield Township, New Jersey, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Chesterfield Township, New Jersey, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Rock Americana




"Here I Am!"

‘I’ve been following the Successful Failures since I read about 2007′s Ripe for the Burning in the Big Takeover (best music mag on the planet, fyi). As a die-hard fan of chunky power pop bands like Superdrag and Sloan, the Failures immediately hit all my sweet spots. But what sets them apart is their lyrics. Writing about love and relationships is easy; Vikings, Mickey Mantle, China’s rise to superpower status, and the Civil War — those topics take a bit more inspiration.
The band’s newest album, Here I Am, gets you smiling immediately with the sly wordplay of How People Start Sentences. The cleverness continues throughout — I certainly never thought I’d be humming a song called The Rise of China. And just try to remove the addictive opening chant of Pig Tight Cattle High from your brain after the first listen.
Here I Am, like the Successful Failures previous efforts, is a near perfect blend of Replacements-inspired rock, some alt-country leanings (see Clifton Mills), and crunchy melodies that never lose their timelessness. It’s feel-good music. Go ahead and listen. - Jeremy Zucker Fresh Droppings Blog, Indianapolis, IN

"The Successful Failures - Three Nights"

“With Trenton’s Dipsomaniacs on extended hiatus, Mick Chorba’s “other band” has become his priority, and they’re even better. They replicate the Dips’ energy and melodic thrust, but the ‘Failures third LP again indulges a wider scope. Three opens with folk-pop, takes three more valid excursions into country-rock shakers (“College Scholarship Blues,” “All You Had,” “Any Ol’ Thing”), and kicks ass on a harmonica-blazing rave-up, “Scream”—reminding oldsters of that forgotten word “repertoire.” Beyond that, proving that 2007’s cheekily-titled Ripe for the Burning was no fluke, Three is another sweet treat for lovers of recent Sloan, Pleased to Meet Me Replacements, Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, Mike Ness, and Cheap Trick (whose “Surrender” lyric “Got my Kiss records out” is referenced cleverly on “Houston, We Have a Drinking Problem”). Besides, the ensemble’s arrangements (piano a plus) and harmonies allow for lighter touches to tickle backgrounds, even while one falls anew for the band’s bread ‘n’ butter bold ‘n’ bursting big guitar power-pop prowess, on hotfoot treats such as “Armadillo Boy,” “Fletcher,” and the buzzing title track. Take it from a long-ago native—New Jersey can rock.” (Jack Rabid in The Big Takeover March 2010). - The Big Takeover

"Captains of Industry"

The Successful Failures--Captains of Industry, Captains of War (FDR).
The finest pleasure for music fans is to watch great bands get even better, and Chesterfield, NJ’s The Successful Failures have perfected their already deeply respectable/respected craft on their new fifth LP, Captains of Industry, Captains of War (FDR). All their formidable strengths have been streamlined and crystalized on Captains; already one of the most dependable, refreshingly honest and smart rock ‘n’ roll bands in the U.S., they still seamlessly mix melodic classic power-pop, garage rock, and ageless rock ’n’ roll with more roots-inflected rock and winsome, harmonic pop. Now with Captains, they’ve arrived at a place of timelessness, not unlike Pleased to Meet Me-era Replacements, Cheap Trick (note Captains’ “O Carolina” nods to their 1977 In Color killer, “O Caroline”), and Superdrag—whose drummer, Don Coffee Jr., once produced them—or contemporary Teenage Fanclub, Sloan, and Nada Surf.
Like such stalwarts, listening to Captains, you don’t know what’s best: singer/guitarist/songwriter/FDR Records head/former Dipsomaniacs leader Mick Chorba’s stubborn, gripping hooks and thoughtful-as-ever lyrics, or the trio’s insistent yet smooth attack. Like 2012’s Here I Am, Chorba caresses or stomps out sticky, lashing licks on his guitar, bolstered by Ron Bechamps supple bass (and cool vocal harmonies) and Rob Martin’s powerful pounding. Pleasantly, they sprinkle in acoustic-built gems such as the elegiac, quietly heartbreaking, piano-fed “Falling Out” and “Meal” alongside sublime guitar rockers such as “Stagger Lee” (an original twist on the wicked protagonist of the 19th Century folk/R&B classic associated with Mississippi John Hurt, Woody Guthrie, Lloyd Price, and Wilson Pickett, with a prominent reference to a 1969 Neil Young LP), “Sunny,” and the evocative—of another American folklore archetype—“John Henry.”
Formed in 2005 and named for a 1901 Jack London short story, Minions of Midas, it’s significant that like The Replacements’ Pleased, Captains sees The Successful Failures slimmed down from a quartet to their initial threesome. Second guitarist John Williams “had to leave to open a running store,” explains Chorba,” bringing them “back to the original roots: a collection of songs I wrote that is band arranged. We wanted it to be an up-tempo rock ’n’ roll record,” he remembers. “I write a lot of songs, and some are more on the side, but we were picking through the ones that Rob could bash around a bit.”
“There still are a few in-between tracks,’ he allows. “But it’s a guitar record. We record live, no click track, so it has the right energy, at our studio FDR studio C. And after every best take, Rob would stand up and say, “F-ing rock,” and we’d know it was the one—you can even hear that once on the album.”
Meanwhile, fans will note something familiar about “O Carolina.” “Right, that’s a continuation of ‘Carolina (I’m in Love With You),’ a song on [2007 second LP] Ripe For the Burning, The earlier song was a guy in prison that married, based on a real story. And in this new one, he realizes she’s double-crossed him.” Likewise, in literary-minded Chorba fashion, “’Milwaukee’ is “written from the point of view of Pip from [Charles Dickens’ 1860 landmark] Great Expectations,” which he teaches as a New Jersey High School English teacher. “A lot of the songs are about someone setting off on a journey, he continues. “For instance, ‘Hit the Ground Running’ is about turtles racing to the ocean, a metaphor for starting out your own adventure in life, while all sorts of predators are trying to get you… It’s the only song I’ve ever written from the point of view of a turtle,” he laughs.
In addition to their new EP, Pine Hill showing their range by convincingly covering Old Crow Medicine Show, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams Sr., The Successful Failures often do special acoustic shows that include covers of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and Irish folk. Clearly they can do it all, with spirit, intelligence, determination, and sneaky power—and Captains is their finest statement of purpose to date.
—Jack Rabid, editor and publisher, The Big Takeover Magazine - The Big Takeover


  • 2006 The Successful Failures
  • 2007 Ripe for the Burning
  • 2010 Three Nights
  • 2012 Here I Am!
  • 2013 Snow Day (Christmas/Holiday limited edition vinyl ep)
  • 2014 Captains of Industry, Captains of War



No Depression magazine dubbed The Successful Failures as “one of the hardiest and most prolific outfits on the planet” playing “instantly infectious melodies that tread the line between power pop and Americana without wholly committing to either”.  With a name borrowed from a Jack London short story and an indie rock work ethic The Successful Failures burst onto the scene out of the NJ pinelands in 2006. TSF has released 5 full length albums full of songs about vikings, armadillos, old cars, murder, prison, fences, and girls.   The band continues to showcase their versatility, seamlessly marrying power-pop, garage-rock, classic country and un-affected rock n roll with roots-inflected rock and winsome, harmonic, pop. The band has shared the stage withSteve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Jeff Tweedy, Deer Tick, Dr. Dog, Strand of Oaks, JD McPherson, and many many more.  Most of all, the band’s infectious energy and love for what they do shines through in every live performance.  One fan put it this way, “SF could play on a small raft heading over the falls and still have a blast and crank out the best tunes this side of the Milky Way.” In the winter of 2015-2016 The Successful Failures will break from live performance to record their 6th studio album, then tour in 2016 to support the new effort.