The Vinyl Addicts
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The best kept secret in music

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"Brian Murray is addicted to vinyl"

Fordham sophomore tries to make it big in NYC's music scene

Brian Murray sits relaxed on a red couch, wearing a pair of old jeans, t-shirt, and baseball cap, trying to sip tea from a Barnes and Noble travel mug, which has kept the contents a little too hot for the moment. He sips; it’s too hot, but he dons a boyish smile anyway. Murray’s just your average Fordham student, but behind his coolness lies an intensity and propensity for musical creativity.

Murray, FCLC ‘07, is the lead singer of a piano jazz rock band the Vinyl Addicts, a simple duo with his long time friend, Benny Gammerman. The pair have been writing songs and playing music together since tenth grade. “We were in the same music theory class, and we had an assignment to compose something. And it didn’t have to be anything that complicated, you know,” he explains, his hands moving about as if he is writing on air, while trying not to spill his tea. “It only had to be sixteen measures. But we didn’t just want to write only sixteen measures ofrandom chords, so we decided to write a song together.”

Since then the duo has been writing music and performing a lot, having formed one band known as ATV (Assess the Validity), which included a cellist and guitarist. And while they have been enjoying performing, Murray remembers feeling out of place in the punk dominated Long Island music scene. “We would play shows where the bill was punk band, punk band, punk band, punk band, piano-cello-guitar, punk band, punk band, punk band,” he explains, eyebrows and shoulders raised.

In spite of feeling alienated, and despite the eventual breakup of the quartet, Murray was determined to continue in his art. He and Gammerman have continued writing and producing songs including a 14 track CD entitled “Live from Millpond,” recorded in Gammerman’s house, and have also been playing shows all over the city including shows at Sine’, the Lizard Lounge, Pianos, and CBGB’s Gallery. “I just love performing,” says Murray, his fingers outstretched to mimic Gammerman’s piano playing. “We started performing because we liked to and because it was fun, and when we both moved to New York City for college we figured we’d just keep performing.”

And they put on quite a show. There’s a lot of energy coming from the duo that one would not expect walking in to a club and seeing a skinny boy standing next to a microphone and his friend sitting at an electric keyboard. The Vinyl Addicts live performances reinvigorate hope into the genre of piano-rock. But it’s not merely the performance that will have you hooked on the Addicts. The piano arrangements are eloquent and powerful, carrying a compelling weight. Mix this with efficacious lyrics such as “She said I’d be hers forever/ I guess forever ends in time” from the song “Adriana,” and “She always wants she only needs” from “One More Song,” and you have the ingredients for success.

The allure of the rock star life notwithstanding, Murray just loves music and performing. “I would love to some day be a big rock star, but I would be pretty happy just playing and making music and making a living off of it,” Murray says. “I don’t need to be the next Britney Spears. I’m not gonna lie to you, it would be pretty cool to be, but I don’t need it. I just like performing.” With a natural aptitude as a lyricist, a commanding stage presence, and a desire to perform and play music, don’t be surprised if you hear the name Brian Murray or the Vinyl Addicts more and more as the 19-year-old matures and becomes a standard in the New York City scene.

By Enrique Ollero, Staff Writer - The Observer


"Looking back on life at ripe old age of 18"

September 10, 2004

They play melancholy, piano-based songs about drinking, smoking and looking back on life with regret - and they're only 18.

Pianist Benny Gammerman and vocalist Brian Murray are The Vinyl Addicts, a precociously talented duo from Huntington whose songs are loaded with bittersweet chords and richly detailed lyrics. With their fresh faces and aching lines such as, "I ain't got no cigarettes/And I ain't got no reason to dream anymore," the two teenagers come off as a cross between Ben Folds, Tom Waits and "The O.C."

At the moment, their only disc is a homemade demo titled "Live at Millpond," recorded in Gammerman's house on Millpond Lane. It features 14 songs, many of which they played Monday night at (fittingly enough) Pianos, an out-of-the- way nightclub on Manhattan's Lower East Side. With Gammerman playing an upright and Murray standing at a microphone - and occasionally busting out a harmonica - the two put on an uneven but thoroughly charming show. (Murray, too young to chug beers on stage, brought a mug of tea.)

The Vinyl Addicts are in love with innocence and experience. On "A Little Softer," Murray romanticized his youth, sighing, "I can't help but be this young and this destructible." But on "Mr. Composure," he played the wise old barfly, counseling, "Life is about sex, cigarettes, booze/ And trying to get your baby back." Gammerman sprinkled his wistful tunes with boogie- woogie rhythms and an occasional splash of glissando.

The duo is still working out the bugs: Murray's voice was sometimes powerful, sometimes unsteady, and Gammerman's backup harmonies were often sharp. But the exceptionally strong songs showed through, particularly the moody "Astronaut" and the lovely narrative "Adriana" ("She said I was hers forever/I guess forever ends in time").

Rafer Guzman - Newsday


"The Vinyl Addicts Speak From the Heart of the Bottom of Manhattan"

Almost everyone has a friend from high school that was in a band; many can remember those few gigs rife with misbehaving equipment, poor amplification, and even poorer crowds as bands played their hearts out for shows that never paid. Most of those high school bands begin with the greatest intentions, and end with little more than a sliver of satisfaction. While The Vinyl Addicts began from basement practices, open-mic nights, and pro-bono performances, the dedication to broken hearted love songs, rollicking piano rock, and Dylan-esque harmonica solos have propelled the band into the limelight of Greenwich Village's new music scene.

"I'm so psyched to be here," said Pianist/Singer Benny Gammerman, the second half of The Vinyl Addicts' songwriting duo completed with vocalist Brian Murray. After years as a duo, the band included Drummer Sean Perman and Bassist Anthony DeFeo for what was arguably the biggest show of their career. Headlining Gallatone Records' Volume 2 compilation show at the historic Bitter End club in Greenwich Village, the newly expanded group steamrolled through ten songs about love, heartache, nostalgia, and a bit of partying. In front of a standing-room only crowd, The Vinyl Addicts showed their mettle as an emerging band with songs and melodies that surpass expectations.

With songs rich in style, substance, and harmony, The Vinyl Addicts provided songs with both emotion and musical crescendo, and emotions anyone could empathize with. Murray and Gammerman sang songs alluding to pain and loss wrought from years of a misled life, even though the duo are not even old enough to walk across the street after the show to drown their miseries in a bottle of booze.

During "Interview," Murray sings, "I ain't got no cigarettes... And I ain't got no reason to dream anymore" with the resignation of a man twice his age. Throughout the night, The Vinyl Addicts both played and sang with the talent and insight that surpasses their age, showing incredible wisdom and experience unexpected for an age marked by naivety and fleeting love, at one point singing "It's not about who you are, but who you've had."

Though many songs from The Vinyl Addicts dealt with nostalgia and resignation, the set list was not without its moments of tongue-in-cheek jabs at the mundane and unnoticed aspects of existence. Through even the most serious songs, Gammerman and Murray never lose sight of the thrill that lies in performing.

"God damn that is so cool. Wowie," Said Gammerman, after hearing the songs he and Murray worked so many years ago in their hometown of Centerport, Long Island.

The songwriting duo met through the drama programs in both middle and high school, and after years of casual acquaintance the formation of an earlier, similar band brought the two together as songwriters for an adaptation of the play, There's Something Rotten in the State of Denmark. Spending the better part of a summer together working on the show, the duo began writing songs for their own performance in earnest.

After riding out their last years in high school playing gigs with local punk bands, and smaller gigs in New York City, the duo was able to escape the ill-fitting punk-rock shows they would appear at during high school, and began playing in Manhattan, landing various shows in venues such as Piano's, and CBGB's 313 Gallery. Through these performances, the duo landed articles in Newsday, and the Observer, and a strong following at New York University, and Fordham University, where Gammerman and Murray currently attend school.

Though managing workloads for their majors, Gammerman a Musical Theatre major, and Murray a Theatre major, the two still find time to write, record, and publicize their band throughout New York City. The work, albeit arduous at times, is proving rewarding for the two, as their songs of love, loss, and the occasional kegger speak to audiences across the bars of Manhattan.

By Brian O'Connor - The Quadrangle


"Addicts grow up and out"

November 17, 2005

It was about a year ago that The Vinyl Addicts, a precocious Huntington duo, played at the Manhattan nightclub Pianos. At the time, pianist Benny Gammerman and singer Brian Murray had recorded only a homemade demo. It was decidedly lo-fi, but the sophisticated, literate tunes showed plenty of promise.

Earlier this month, the group released its proper debut, "One More Song." The Vinyl Addicts are indeed a group these days, having added Anthony DeFeo on bass and Sean Perman on drums, freeing Gammerman and Murray from having to fill every musical gap themselves. The use of a proper studio has helped as well.

"One More Song" is a mix of new material and reworked songs from that initial demo. The result is a fully-realized batch of melodic, piano-based pop in the vein of Ben Folds Five, with splashes of boogie-woogie, jazz and cabaret. Still, what stands out are the dense, detailed lyrics, like little novels set to music.

The disc kicks off with the title track, a rollicking anti-love song: "She needs me to tell her that she will be fine, but I can't," Murray laments. "I start to ponder which disasters will apply." The pensive ballad "Gracie" isn't a cover of Ben Folds' ode to his toddler - it's about a grown, and clearly troubled, woman: "What's that you're taking now? Does it lift you up? Does it make you feel beautiful?" The standout track, "Mr. Composure," reveals a father's vulnerable side.

The Vinyl Addicts occasionally reach beyond their means: Murray's soulful vocal riffs can't always match the emotion that drives them, and some of the more somber songs aren't as weighty as the band might think. Still, "One More Song" is a true gem, filled with characters and romances and evocative melodies that remain vivid even after repeated listens. - Newsday


"It's not hard to get addicted to "Vinyl""

October 27th, 2005

There's something special about a young band that reminds one of the possibilities present in music nowadays. It is, however, getting tough to recognize these innovators, as they are hidden behind the surplus of mediocre bands singing about the same stuff in the same way. Lucky for Fordham, we didn't have to look very far. The Vinyl Addicts, comprised of Brian Murray on vocals, Benny Gammerman on piano and backing vocals, Sean Perman on drums and Anthony DeFeo on bass, bring new meaning to piano-rock. While the content of their songs on their upcoming album titled One More Song may resemble that of a typical angst ridden and green band, their approach sets them apart from the ordinary, and displays a sense of maturity while writing about classical coming-of-age issues, namely the struggle of new love. More importantly they have a great sense of humor, which allows their fans to relate to their deeply personal lyrics. This comes out in their live performances as they use this ability to connect so well with their audience. In person, these four musicians are just as engaging.

The Vinyl Addicts started out with Murray and Gammerman working as a duo. "Last year we started off on a dinky Roland keyboard," Murray said, looking back to their rough start. Then the pair decided to improve the dynamics of the band by adding an old high school friend Perman on drums and Anthony, a young bassist who is now Gammerman's roommate at NYU. "I knew them for years and they still made me audition," Perman shared as Gammerman and Murray revisit awkward memories of their experiences auditioning other musicians. It was quite clear however to all four band members that they had something special from the start. "We had been playing for nine days together before out first show," said Murray. His look of suprise is appropriate considering how hard it is to get a band together and do that successfully in such a short amount of time.

"One thing we need to mention," Gammerman points out, "is how far we've come since we first started." To say that they've made fast progress is an understatement. Since the time that the members doubled in February of 2005, they have mastered their live performances, built an impressive fan base, and recorded a full length album on their own.

Sure these guys are young, but they are savvy enough to realize that hard work does pay off. When the four entered Threshold Studio in May 2005 to record their album, they were prepared to work ten hour days, fundraise when they ran out of money, and do whatever else was needed to get a product that was truly their own. Their recording technique really reflects the band's creative and courageous musical chops. "We wanted it to have a live feel because we have so much fun playing live...we didn't know how to go into a studio and make a studio album," Murray said. "But, the fact that we had such a supportive fan base without having a studio track, kind of told us that we should incorporate our live show into the album." The rest of the guys agree "What you hear on the album is what we played in a room altogether," Perman added.

The writing is in fact something that needs to be heard in order to really appreciate the intelligence and quirkiness of the Vinyl Addicts. "We wanted the vocals raw and in front of everything," Murray continued, "because we all hate rock records where you can't understand what they are saying." These boys certainly have a lot to say, mostly about, well, girls. "We were talking about CD titles," Murray laughed, "the first one we came up with was 'Songs About Some Girls We Know,' but we decided that was too emo." Too emo, yes, and well not them! They've successfully compiled a CD about the heartache of growing up without being too melancholy. What helps is that they are so passionate about their own music. Gammerman and Murray share the role of songwriter for the most part. "I admire the lyrics that they have written," DeFeo proclaims, "just because they are so relatable." Getting fans to relate to their music is something every band struggles with, but the Vinyl Addicts seem to do so with ease.

How their fans receive their CD is extremely important to these guys. Murray expressed the importance of their fans, especially their "Fordham Crew." He goes on to say, "It was nice to take these songs that we had been playing for a while, that they loved so much and that they support so much and just really do them justice with an album." "One More Song" is essentially an ode to their fans, and a process that may have only taken eight days to record, has required years of writing. "We would hate to toot our own horn, but these really are our best songs of the last six years." Gammerman said. "This is the greatest hits album of the past six years, except it's our first album." Perman added.

Countless references to "Anchorman" and several Christopher Walken impressions later, my time with the guys is almost up. We speak a bit about their upcoming release party at the legendary Knitting Factory on November fifth and they are ecstatic to share theirmusic with their fans. They definitely have a few things up their sleeves for the event. "Suprises all around!" Gammerman shouted. "Bring everyone you know. Bring everyone you don't know!" Finally, when I bring up the future for the Vinyl Addicts, I am astonished at how collected they seem and unlike most up-and-comers, getting signed by a label is not a priority. "Put it this way, we're not gonna sign to a label if it's going to change our music." Their plans are simple, but the intentions behind these plans display their sincerity and love for their art. As Perman puts it, "we're just gonna play music." - The Observer


"Album Review"

The debut album of The Vinyl Addicts entitled, One More Song is driven by charming piano melodies intertwined with witty and clever lyrics that display their musical chops well, without making them seem pretentious. Amazingly enough, very few takes were used for each track, which avoids a mechanical feel. According to one of their own songs, "Call Me Crazy," they are "too young to sing the blues," however this debut album proves otherwise. They may be young, but they seem to be wise beyond their years. Check out the studio tracks on myspace. Sounds Like: Ben Folds mixed with showtunes. - The Observer


Discography

"One More Song" LP Recorded at Threshold Music in NYC by Kato.

The Vinyl Addicts, 8.04 Live EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Newsday named The Vinyl Addicts debut album the "#2 Album of 2005 for Long Island bands."

The Village Voice picked The Vinyl Addicts' Feb 4th show at The Knitting Factory for one of their featured listings.

Videos @ www.etc-entertainment.com/video

“…precociously talented… whose songs are loaded with bittersweet chords and richly detailed lyrics… a cross between Ben Folds, Tom Waits and ‘The O.C.’”-Newsday. If you knew Brian Murray and Benny Gammerman in high school, you’d know that The Vinyl Addicts were once two skinny white boys with a dream. Starting off in their high school music theory class, they turned a simple composition assignment into a songwriting partnership that has continued to develop over the past five years. Now a four-piece ensemble featuring Anthony DeFeo on bass and Sean Perman on drums, The Vinyl Addicts sport live shows that “reinvigorate hope into the genre of piano-rock”(The Observer) and have garnered the loyal following of collegiate misfits across Manhattan. “[Their] dedication to broken hearted love songs, rollicking piano rock, and Dylan-esque harmonica solos have propelled the band into the limelight of Greenwich Village's new music scene.”(The Quadrangle) After a stint of live shows at Sin-e’, CB’s 313 Gallery, Pianos, The Lizard Lounge, and The Bitter End in 2004-2005, the band released their debut studio LP, "One More Song," in November 2005.