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"Regional Roundup with The MESS"

Regional Roundup with...
By:Mike Staugaitis
Shinbone Editor

What are the names, city of residence, how long they've been in the band and responsibilities of each member?

Our members are: Janson Harris from Wilkes-Barre on lead and rhythm guitar, and backing vocals. He's been with The MESS for three years.

Shawn Alan from Wilkes-Barre on drums and percussion. He's been with The MESS for close to a year.

Brian Stritzinger from Plymouth on bass. He's been with The MESS for close to a year.

Myself, Jay Luke from Throop on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. I formed The MESS back in 2003.

Give us a brief history of The Mess.

When The MESS was born in 2003, we had full intentions of forming an all-out fresh exciting rock band. The problem we came across was that my partner at the time, Jon Moli, and I were lacking dedicated members for our project. They say everyone wants to be in a band, but no one wants to practice or work at it, y'know? So after we had enough with the auditioning and stuff we decided that we would just go out and do some acoustic shows on our own as a duo. That way we could find some members while out playing clubs. We did a mix of our own songs as well as the rarest and hardest cover tunes we could think of.

As things progressed, we got some airplay on college stations, but eventually Jon left to pursue other projects. And that is when Janson Harris came into the picture. We had a mutual love for bands from Finland and we were both at a show in Philly when we started to talk about music. From there he and I started writing to one another for awhile and I mentioned I was looking for a guitarist, so we ended up working together and it's been one hell of a ride for us. His playing and songwriting have been an amazing contribution to our sound. We've accomplished some incredible things in our short time together. In 2007, our single called "With Me Tonight" was featured on Illumina Records' "Rockers For Life" project. So our collaboration has been the most successful one I've ever been involved in. This year Janson brought in some friends, Shawn Alan and Brian Stritzinger, to fill out our lineup earlier this year on drums and bass. Shawn & Brian have been in a bunch of bands that were always cool with us ( MEDICYNE, The CHUBBS, etc.) so we've been getting along better than ever. And that's where we are at currently.

Do you play all original music, covers, or a mixture of both?

We always focus on our originals the most, but we do a mix of covers as well to throw at the crowd. Stuff like Judas Priest, Anthrax, Guns n Roses, and David Bowie. I think we get our best reaction to a cover song with Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon," just because the guitar playing is so out of control. Everyone is usually shocked to see how well Janson handles the solos. But like I said regarding the cover songs, it's always stuff no one else is doing — we hate to be like everyone else. Our original songs are where our passion lies.

What do you think are some of the unique aspects about The Mess that sets you apart from other bands out there?

I think our sound is very different than most other bands out there now. We don't really aim to match any certain genre, so that's been more of a blessing than a curse as most people might think. In today's scene a lot of people always ask, "Well who do you sound like?" or questions like that, but we're perfectly happy to sound like ourselves. Drums, bass, rhythm guitar, blazing leads and passionate vocals, y'know? We don't really want to copy anyone or paint ourselves into a corner by playing only one particular style. Music is too great of a thing to limit. So we like to think that when we write a song there are no limits on what we can do. We find when we do shows with other bands we're always the odd band out as we don't look like the others or sound like them, but that's all part of what makes us unique. Our influences are all so eclectic that we combine them all together like a Molotov cocktail and the result is The MESS.

What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of your local music scene?

I think the one strength about the local scene is that there are a lot of good musicians out playing. The problem is that most of them don't get the credit they deserve because there's always a bigger draw for Top 40 cover band, which is a very sad thing. So many of us just try to stick to our guns while everyone else is out there covering whatever's the popular flavor of the week. We're trying to make a difference and not be like everyone else, and I'd like to see the bands that are doing their own thing get a little more recognition as there's a wealth of talent around here.

What can someone expect when they come out to see you live?

When you see The MESS you can expect the most honest and sincere performance we can give. We put it all out there each time 110 percent. I think music fans are smart and can spot a fake from miles away and we like to keep it exciting, letting the music and the show do our talking for us. Our shows are fun, high energy rock 'n roll, simply put. I think it is summed up best in the lyrics to a Cult song: "You've got to bleed a little when you sing, lest words don't mean a thing."

What is one of the craziest show experiences that you had?

The one that always stands out the most for me was in like 2004 or so, we were still doing the duo thing and as we were setting our equipment up a very drunk man with a thick Russian accent kept insisting we let him play our guitars. We weren't having any of that as he was clearly unfit to play our stuff. So we said "no way" in the politest form we could. His response to us was, "Well, I'm going out to my car to get my gun," and he proceeded to leave the bar. Luckily the owner of the club had phoned the police, who were already nearby, and we managed to get by unscathed. But to say it wasn't a jarring experience would be a lie. We thrive on nervous energy and that fueled us right up for a good show. A lot of other cool and funny moments happen at our shows but that was one in particular that always stuck with me. We could've been gunned down onstage almost like Dimebag Darrell of Pantera was.

What are future plans for The Mess?

We're hoping to take our songs into the studio and cut an album. We've waited so long to get the right lineup and I think that we're finally ready. Janson and I have a ton of material so we're excited to have Shawn and Brian to help us mesh it all together. Outside of that we're just gonna keep on playing out and hopping onto any gigs we can until the right eyes catch us and offer us some sort of deal.

On the Lighter Side with Jay Luke

Who would win in a fight to the death, the Grinch or the Heat Miser?

I think hands down the Grinch. If I was fighting the Grinch and he came out with that badass theme music, I know I'd be intimidated.

What is the better Christmas gift: a bucket full of coal or a fruitcake?

Coal, please. It helps keep heating costs down and gives a justifiable reason to be bad. Save the fruitcake for all the fruitcakes.

What are you getting your fellow band mates for Christmas this year?

Hmm, we're always broke, but if possible, I'd like to get us together and have us all drink down some dinner of delicious imported beer at some nice hole-in-the-wall bar. Merry Christmas, guys!

What movie family would you rather spend the holidays with, the Griswolds from "Christmas Vacation" or Ralphie's family from "A Christmas Story?"

The Griswolds, without question. Chevy Chase rules the holidays for me.

Christmas music: you can listen to it all year long or you are so sick of it by early December you could drive a nail through your skull?

I like a few songs, but I don't see myself jamming out to them during the summer or whatever. That would just be ridiculous.

- Shinbone Magazine Dec. 2008

"hangin' with The MESS"

CUSP:What are some of the worst jobs you've ever had.
Jay Luke: Hmm probably washing dishes
Janson Harris: Ha ha all of them

CUSP: Do you have any stories about your experiences? Anything funny or outrageous happen to you yet?
Janson Harris: Wow.....I do not even know where to begin with this question
Jay Luke: Musically it's funny cause you kind of grow up alittle faster when you play out alot. We've met some amazing people, some crazy fans, stalkers and were once even threatened by a gun wielding club goer. So we take the good with the bad hoping when we're gone people remember us y'know? I've said it before but the way we see it is each day is like a blank canvas and any painting can be made because our music is the paint and we're the painters y'know?

CUSP: Name a band with whom you'd kill to share a tour bus.
Jay Luke: Well I would absolutely kill to share a bus or really anything with Finland's legendary Hanoi Rocks. My favorite band ever. Now that I think about it I'd love to share a bus with W.A.S.P. too, so I can tell Blackie Lawless
how much his songwriting has influenced me.
Janson Harris: Childen of Bodom!!!!

CUSP: Does your band fight about anything? If so, what?
Janson Harris: No
Jay Luke: Luckily with Janson we get along better than almost any other band I can think of. When he joined I not only gained one of the most gifted musicians I'd ever known, but I also gained a best friend. Previous MESS members just had different visions than I did and God love them I hold no ill will at all. I just stay on my own path. The one thing I refuse to ever do is quit, I told myself along time ago that giving up is like surrendering all hope for the rest of my life. And music is my life. If Janson and I argue it's probably over who does a better Rick James or Stewie Griffin impression, haha.

CUSP: What were your childhood nicknames?
Jay Luke: Pretty straight forward ones. Jay, Jason. I always enjoyed being called Luke Skywalker though.
Janson Harris: Elmo, Harry, Jansbomb...hmmm....can't think of any thing else

CUSP: Pretend you're not allowed to play music anymore. What's your new pastime/job?
Janson Harris: I have no's never happened and never will ha ha ha
Jay Luke: Oh man no more music? That sucks. Well aside from music I do alot of writing. Not just lyrics but stories and such. I've been working on a novel in my spare time I guess I'd do more writing as well as painting and working on art in general. One other thing I've always wanted to try my hand at was Archaeology, but for the time being I'll stick with music first and foremost. Haha I'll get to live out my Indiana Jones fantasy someday.

CUSP: What food or beverage company would you choose to sponsor you? Why?
Jay Luke: Well I would love to get an endorsment from Guinness Draught, mainly because I feel I've spent enough money on it and feel they owe me Haha.
Janson Harris: Coke and ANY energy drink!!!!! Food I have no idea. I like too many things ha ha Why? Because I'm Janson Harris! ah ah ah

CUSP: Have any weird items been tossed to you while you were on stage? Please describe.
Jay Luke: Nothing too out of the ordinary. A few wedding garters, hats, the occasional funny cigarette and phone numbers, but mainly just bad song requests.
Janson Harris: This one time, no lie here axe!!!! ask Fab-D

CUSP: Are there any local bands that you admire/love playing with?
Jay Luke: In our local scene of Northeast PA there are alot of underrated bands working their asses off. Unfortunately it's an area dominated by top 40 cover bands. So the bands we respect and admire are Sorrowsun of course, Lugosi's Morphine, Dealer In Wares, The Graveyard Rumblers, 1428, Slapjaw, Barbarian Lord, MANOS, Ambulance Driver and anyone else that stays true to themselves.
Janson Harris: SORROWSUN!!!

CUSP: What are the band's goals?
Janson Harris: To take over the Earth with Rock!! ahhhhh
Jay Luke: Yeah, I'm with Janson we're looking to dominate the globe and single handedly destroy bad music haha. Honestly though we just want to play as long as we can to anyone who'll listen. It doesn't matter if it's a crowd of 3 people or 30,000 really. I mean people can catergorize music however they want to but it comes down to it being either good or bad. Thumbs up or thumbs down y'know? So as long as we feel the music to be good and of substance then there is no reason to ever stop.

CUSP: Imagine you've sold out Madison Square Garden. What are your dressing room requests?
Janson Harris: One small pony, 3 red M&M's (all facing up), 609 clouds no 610 clouds, a cell phone made out of fish, a talking fish, 875 cans of cans, a new color, and.....some big league chew.
Jay Luke: Wow I am still laughing at that answer, I remember hearing David Lee Roth once say the dressing room requests were essential to see if people were really paying attention to the band. So they used to say no brown M&M's. If they found any they'd destroy the room. The moral is if they forgot the brown M&M's who's to say they wouldn't forget an important piece of gear or something y'know? Good lesson, thanks DLR. I guess I'd want 3 cases of Guinness, 2 bottles of Pinot Noir wine, the entire musical catalogs of the Stones, Hanoi Rocks, The 13th Floor Elevators, and W.A.S.P., oh yeah and naked pictures of the old lady who did those "Help I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials. haha

CUSP: What's your favorite song you play and why?
Janson Harris: "Trainwreck" because it's the most rocking, also the first song I heard by Jay
Jay Luke: Well each song holds a special place in my heart but at the moment "Trainwreck" is my favorite as well because it was the first song I had ever written.

CUSP: What's your signature dance move?
Janson Harris: The Moonwalk
Jay Luke: Dance move? hmm I don't really have any. Just some pelvis shaking
ala Elvis Presley that's about it.

CUSP: What movie(s) can you recite from start to finish?
Jay Luke: ummm Spaceballs, Caddyshack, Star Wars, The Goonies, and the Andy McCoy biography
"The Real McCoy"
Janson Harris: Goodfellas and Lord of the Rings

CUSP: Who would be your celebrity (dead or alive) dream date and what would you do?
Janson Harris: That would be Athena- goddess of love and war. And I would, well what do you think? haha
Jay Luke: umm I find Shirley Manson of Garbage, Shakira, and Nancy Wilson of Heart to all be attractive because for one they all look good but also because they know how to rock harder than most guys do. What would we do? Who knows, record one crazy ass song perhaps.

CUSP: Would you say that you have some groupies at this time?
Janson Harris: oh man like 50,000,000
Jay Luke: There are women who can sure be crazy for musicians that's for sure. We've seen them drive from obscene hours away, some have asked for my clothes, some are mothers and daughters which is very strange, but the more I think about it the more I consider some of the stalkers than groupies haha. I worry about people looking in my window at night.

CUSP:ho comes up with the artwork for your merchandise and your CD covers?
Janson Harris: George Lucas I think..ha ha No Jay takes great care of all that.
Jay Luke: Yeah I have a degree in Graphic Design and I try to cut out the middle man by doing all of the artwork on my own. We're a very do it yourself type of band. Anyway we can do things on our own we do.

CUSP: What's your favorite style of underwear?
Jay Luke: I haven't worn underwear since 1994, so any fans reading this please don't send me any underwear as a gift, it's a kind gesture but I have no need for them.
Janson Harris: Free balling!!!!!!!

CUSP: What did you do on/for your last birthday?
Jay Luke: Everyone always gets wild and crazy drunk on their birthdays, not me. I usually hide out. I party like it's my birthday enough for the rest of the year soon my birthday I like to have my alone time.
Janson Harris: Drank alot!!!!

CUSP: What's the first album/tape/CD you ever owned? Do you still like it?
Jay Luke: I am fortunate enough to have a great mom that has allowed me to
listen to rock n roll from as early as I can remember. The first 3 tapes I distinctlyremember wearing out as a kid were Motley Crue's Theatre of Pain,
Van Halen's 1984, and Quiet Riot's Metal Health and yes I still like them all. They made me what I am today.
Janson Harris: Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack.....yes i still like it

CUSP: Do you have any tattoos? What are they and where are they? Who in your band has the dumbest tattoo?
Janson Harris: Yes, one is an upsidedown cross (from the band Dissection)
Two is just a trible-like piece that was made for my mom. I dont think anyone
in the band has a dumb tat.
Jay Luke:I have 2 Tattoos, one is a Sun on my left shoulder, and the other is one I designed of my name that reads the same both right side up and upside down. It's a form of art called an Ambigram, and took me forever to design, but it looks pretty cool.

CUSP: 50 Cent has Formula 50 vitamin water. What would your vitamin water be called?
Jay Luke: Oh man I hate those commercials for Vitamin Water on TV. What would mine be called? How bout Luke-a-delix 3000.
Janson Harris: Janranium8

CUSP: What would you do if you were hit in the face with a large salmon right now?
Janson Harris: Fist fight the salmon then take his wallet ha...take that fish!
Jay Luke: Wow I have no comment Janson said it all there. I'd back him up on that.

CUSP: Have you ever had a polygraph test? Are you lying right now?
Janson Harris: ha ha yes i did 6th grade field trip to the prison.

Jay Luke: I can honestly say I've never taken one, haha now this is true.

CUSP: Ninjas or Pirates?
Jay Luke: I have to go with Pirates on this one because all of my rock n roll heroes look like them (Keith Richards, Johnny Thunders, Andy McCoy, etc.)
Janson Harris: Ninjas made out of Pirates

CUSP: What's the best Halloween costume you've ever worn? Have any good stories behind it?
Janson Harris: Ha ha that would be my self made one, The"Swedish Ambassador" It was made out of household items, insulation, and food
Jay Luke: Well KISS took over most of my childhood life and I would have to think I was a KISS member for at least 6 Halloween's in a row. Gene Simmons owes me my youth back damn it.

CUSP: Do you want to cross over from musician to movie star? What type of movies do you want to be in?
Jay Luke: Well Janson and I are in another band called Sorrowsun and we're
in a film called Cravings, but aside from that I really don't think much about
acting, although it would totally kick ass to be on the Family Guy someday.
Janson Harris: Action, Fantasy or Family Guy

CUSP: Are you a music snob? Do you listen to the radio?
Jay Luke: Some people might think I'm a music snob. I am selective in what I like. I can spot a fake a million miles away and I like sincerity in my music, so I
tend to avoid the radio like the plague, I can't be forced into liking mainstream
stuff just because it's force fed in my ears all day long. I like stuff that has soul,
depth, and heart. We have a soft spot for bands from Finland though. Some
incredible artists and songs come out of that country.
Janson Harris: Snob? Hmm no I dont think I am, but no i do not listen to the radio. Not because i hate it or anything I just have waaay too many CD's.

CUSP: How do you like your eggs?
Janson Harris: Very far away from me ha ha ha I hate eggs
Jay Luke: Same here, not an egg lover. Like George Carlin once said
how come when it's a human we call it an abortion but when it's
a chicken we call it an omlette? haha ah sorry if that grossed anyone out
blame George for that one.

CUSP: Do you consider your band successful? What do you consider to be a success?
Janson Harris: Yes VERY!!!! When you can get along with your band mates, and make awesome music that you are all happy with, that is success.
The fame and money are just bonuses.
Jay Luke: Well success is different to every person you ask. To me success isn't about a million dollars and being pampered or what not. Success is writing good music having good friends as bandmates, and connecting to your audience.
Whenever you see people in a crowd singing along to a song that you've written that to me is success. No better feeling in all the world and I feel blessed to have the opportunity.
- CUSP Magazine

"Reader's Choice Awards 08"

The MESS were awarded Indie Band of 08 - The Weekender

"What's in a name?"



"In 2003 Jon Moli and myself (Jay Luke) formed a 2 man acoustic punk group since we couldn't find anyone else who was dedicated to playing out and playing what we wanted to without compromising rather than following what everyone else was doing. So after searching for members to build the full blown rock band we settled down with just the 2 of us on acoustic guitars. Once we decided that we were going to do an acoustic duo, we knew we had to be different from everyone else. The way we set about that was that we had a love for underground rock n roll and punk music, and as far as we knew there were no other bands were out there covering Clash tunes, Johnny Thunders tunes, and Cure tunes sprinkled with their own unique feel.

We went with a simple philosophy that if we liked a song then we should play it. No need to worry about if the club owner likes it, no need to worry about who likes it because if we don't like it and we play it, our sincerity wouldn't be there and we'd shortchange the crowd in delivering 100% live when we're not into it ourselves. A crowd may not notice alot of things but the one thing they can spot a million miles away is a band that is faking it.

We never wanted to paint ourselves into the type of trap where we had to play what everyone else is out there covering and beating to death live. To us the harder a song was to play acoustically the better off it would sound when we got our hands on it and MESS'ed it up a bit. Take "Mr. Brownstone" by Guns N Roses for instance, the song was played acoustic by the original GNR lineup maybe once at CBGB's in the late 80's, we figured it would sound incredible if we could pull it off as a 2 piece and that was really the beginning of what was to be a very exciting ride for Jon and I.

So with all of our songs and setlists together we were ready to go out and play the smoke filled clubs and begin the long process of what they call "Paying your dues." There was one thing missing, and that was a band name. Anyone in the music scene knows how difficult it is to put together a name everyone could agree on. We looked at all of the bands we liked: The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, The New York Dolls, The Clash, The Misfits, The Sex Pistols, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Suicide Twins, The Bouncing Souls, etc. we kept noticing that all of these bands started with the word "The" and we wanted something similiar to that as well.

So the search was on for us to become "The_____" and we initially wanted to be called "The Lethal Doses" that was a working title for a few weeks and then by sheer chance while I was walking into a bar that was remodeling I caught a sign on the door that said "Pardon the mess" it was like I was hit by a bolt of lightning. So we imeadiately agreed on "The MESS" because it could be both blatant and vague at the same time.

We've been known to have our bad habits and it wasn't uncommon for either myself or Jon to be called "a mess" from time to time and to us we thought it was a perfect fit for what we were going for.

So on and on it went. Jon has left us earlier this year to pursue his own musical project, and I am still trying to fly the flag with some good friends:
Mark Zinskie on Percussion and Dave Zaus on Bass.

So there you have it, a band that has truly earned it's name show after show, and shot after shot."
- Word of Mouth Magazine 2006

"A Fine MESS"


Mark Uricheck Music Contributor

NORTHEASTERN, Pa. - "We do what we want to without compromising ourselves as artists" - vocalist/guitarist Jay Luke commenting on his band, The Mess.

This statement sums up the originality, personality, and fiercely independent vibe of The Mess, a Scranton based rock/punk/metal acoustic duo featuring Luke and fellow guitarist Jon Moli. The band, which Luke and Moli formed two years ago, became a duo out of necessity really. Luke says that The Mess was intended to be a full-blown rock band, but getting the right combination of personnel together proved to be problematic.

"My partner and I were the only ones who were truly dedicated to this effort" says Luke. After playing a few shows as a duo, incorporating material from The Rolling Stones, The Clash, Stone Temple Pilots, and Guns n Roses, the guys starting to come into their own and began to be less concerned with recruiting new bandmates. "We continually got more and more comfortable doing what we wanted to do and stopped worrying about other members wanting to join. So here we are now, two years later and we're very happy to be at the point we're at right now."

The Mess is not your typical NEPA club type band. From the get go, Luke and Moli wanted to avoid the Top 40 material that cover bands are expected to churn out. Instead, they chose to focus on songs that they themselves were fans of, and worked them into a style befitting a guitar duo. "It could be a Cure song, Social Distortion, Johnny Cash, H.I.M., Billy Idol, The Ramones or The Clash, we try to add a little bit of our own style to them all" says Luke.

Triumph of personal conviction over the flavor of the week' is of great importance to Jay Luke and Jon Moli. They point out the saying "you have to bleed a little when you sing, or else the words don't mean a thing" as evidence of this. "If we were to start playing whatever mainstream songs that are hot, out there now we would be shortchanging the audience because we would play them without feeling. That is why we play the songs we do because we put the passion behind them that we feel is necessary to make it work" Luke says. They point out that honesty and sincerity show, and conversely when you're faking it, that shows as well.

The guys state that first and foremost they're fans of music. They say what sets them apart from other bands in the area is their eclectic musical influences and the way that they translate those influences into their own music. "When you see us, understand that we pour our souls out through our music" Luke says. "We cram as much heartfelt music as we can through our 2 guitars and microphones each time we play. I sing with a voice as much as I do with my heart sometimes and Jon will be playing some of the best blues driven guitar to coincide with that whole feeling".

That feeling appears to be translating to live audiences, because the response to The Mess "couldn't be better" according to Luke. "It's so much fun seeing people's eyes and reaction when we play a song that you'd never expect 2 guys with acoustic guitars to pull off" he says. For each Mess gig, new songs are added for a spontaneous vibe. The guys say it's that nervous energy that keeps things fresh and fun. With The Mess, it's got to be fun. "No one wants to see a band moping around and being miserable y' know?"

Aside from the atmosphere of positive energy and the guys getting to meet new fans, there have been some interesting incidents at The Mess shows. Jay Luke has got a golden story that he's sure to remember for a long time. "Last year while setting up, a very drunk man with a heavy Russian accent suddenly decided it would be alright for him to play with our gear. We were very firm about not letting this happen because it can easily turn into a mess, no pun intended, and we didn't need to have a nightmare up there before the show even started. Well long story short, the man was thrown out of the bar yelling loudly to us he was going to return from his car with a gun. The authorities were called and we had this never-ending nervous excitement for the show to say the least."

Of course, most audiences at The Mess shows have behaved in a less threatening manner. The guys have nothing but kind words for the fans who've supported them. "We appreciate each and every one of them, there's not enough space to show our gratitude" says Luke.

Currently, The Mess is planning a CD under the working title Pardon The Mess. The band has several songs fleshed out that they're planning for the record. "Our newest single that we wrote is called Soo Good...Soo Bad we're pushing it to local radio at the current time. It can also be heard on our web site along with some other tunes randomly recorded at shows" Luke says.

So what does Jay Luke want people to know about his band? "I'd like people to think of us as a really honest, fun, rock n roll band, and a unique one at that". He says that there are so many ways to categorize music and ways to separate it from other music. It all comes down to two main types at the end of the day. "Those two types are good music or bad music. I would like to think that I know a few things about both types and that we're definitely playing the good music!"

So there you have it, The Mess. It's music that has a great excitement about it. It's loose, fun, and perhaps most importantly there's no pretense or false attitudes about it. It's two guys with guitars, putting their music out there for a crowd to enjoy. You never know just what you'll get with the band, but that's when rock n roll is at it's best. Jay Luke says "I think Jon and I are both driven to continue and march forward with the idea that tomorrow is a blank canvas and any painting can be made, because our music is the paint and we're the painters."

Keep up with The Mess at - 2005

"I'm with the band"

I'm With the Band
By Sarah Stachura ELECTRIC CITY magazine 12-21-06

Life is piled high with choices. In particular, the world of music has a veritable bounty to pick from. People nurture and develop certain tastes in music, and therefore choose not to indulge in certain other genres. But since there is such a stocked buffet right in front of you, why not sample every potential palate-pleaser.

Such is the philosophy of local musicians Jay Luke and Janson Harris of The Mess. Last Friday night, the duo played three electric sets at the New Penny Lounge in North Scranton. 1980s metal, punk, grunge, and classic rock were all on the menu, making it clear that the band's influence is all over the rock 'n' roll spectrum.

Aptly named, The Mess is made up of two guitar players: Luke on vocals and rhythm guitar, while his silent counterpart Harris sports a Flying V lead guitar. Over the past few years, The Mess has counted on the support and talent of musically inclined friends. Among a rotating ensemble of others, local musicians Dave Zaus and Phil Layland have assisted the boys on drums and guitar, respectively. However, this pre-holiday show featured only Luke and Harris, who stomped through the evening's music with a get-up-and-go energy that never lagged for a minute.

Luke's vocal style is punk-influenced, bringing to mind the likes of Michael Monroe (of Hanoi Rocks) and Joey Ramone. It was interesting to see Harris slink off The Mess's garage-esque soundstage now and then, and let Luke handle such songs like "Ziggy Stardust" on his own, but the two would collaborate for most of the night's music.

The Mess supplements its double guitar players with quite a distracting array of gear, including a giant poster of the band's skull-and-guitars logo, a drum machine, and several effects pedals. A large, continuously flashing colored light setup was also positioned onstage, bathing the boys in several disorderly shades of red, green, blue, and yellow.

The New Penny Lounge's '70s-style red-quilted-vinyl barstools, gold tinsel, and red-velvet Christmas décor was an atypical setting for the cluster of young music fans and older customers sitting around the bar. This Friday gig had special meaning for The Mess: Luke announced that the show was dedicated to the memory of a friend of theirs, Stephen Krajewski, who had died the night before of a gunshot wound in nearby Archbald. Energetic hoots, cheers, and encouragement were directed towards the boys at all times: it's apparent that The Mess has its own supportive fan base. Peppering the bar were numerous flyers advertising The Mess's next few gigs, and during set breaks a grinning Luke worked the small crowd, acknowledging friends, chatting up the bar's patrons, and handing out CD singles.

The Mess offered a cache of songs that were difficult to follow. Kudos to Luke for attempting to display his rocker vocals dry, without the dressing that standard-issue reverb effects provide. The classic Billy Idol tune "Rebel Yell" was done with muscle. However, raw vocals always have the possibility of thinning out fast. Luke's voice was lost when his guitar work would travel further away than was necessary. An accelerated, punked-up version of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" definitely gets points for originality, but the boys were in such a hurry to get to the next item on their agenda, discordance reigned and The Mess was playing two different songs at the same time.

Harris' Flying V got a workout akin to a four-hour session at any gym: The quiet musician played with his head thrown back and a continuous, dreamlike smile. He shredded in his tricky riffs and licks as much as he could (songs like "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Sympathy for the Devil" got more than their due of screaming solos), with oodles of applause from the audience in return.

A Mess original, "With Me Tonight," was distinguished as Harris filled in the gaps and tried to weave his melody around the song.

It is evident that Harris and Luke have a concrete point in mind when it comes to their Mess: they want to provide something new and different that reflects their vast musical tastes.
- Electric City Dec. 06


"Soo Good...Soo Bad" "Sweet Kiss" "Final Word" "With Me Tonight" & "Trainwreck" have been spun in heavy rotation on, VMFM, Radio I.B.I.M.W., Bonestarmusic, WSFX, Kings College radio, & WESS in E. Stroudsburg and the band have done several interviews on the stations.
Their song "With me Tonight" was picked up by Illumina Records from Boston as part of an anti-drinking and driving campaign called "Ground Control's ROCKERS FOR LIFE"



The MESS formed in 2003 as a duo with all intentions of being a full blown rock band, and for the next 4yrs they have accomplished some amazing goals as a 2 piece act. Landing a few magazine covers, radio airplay, local awards, interviews and the chance to play with alot of our musical heros. When they finally filled out the full lineup with the right dedicated players in 2008 they haven't looked in the rear view mirror once.
Having a very wide spectrum of influences, The MESS try to blend them all together which has created their our own unique sound.
All in all The MESS is made up of Jay Luke, a very charismatic lead singer, songwriter on rhythm guitar, Janson Harris, the virtuoso lead guitarist. Shawn Alan, the powerful percussionist, and Brian Stritzinger the thunderous basslines.
They were recently voted The WEEKENDER's Best Indie Band of 08 by the readers of the local newspaper. Their acclaimed action packed Halloween gig of 2008 was aired on local TV station Electric City TV as part of their Sounds of Scranton program.
any other info, music, pictures, videos, etc. can be found at