Interview: The Haunt

Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alt-rockers The Haunt just wrapped their European tour. Teenage siblings Anastasia Grace and Maxamillion Haunt merge together for an eclectic sound, combining alternative, indie, rock and roll, garage, and blues. As a victim of bullying, Anastasia had a vision for their music video “All Went Black” which went viral with over 100,000 views. The group partnered with the Stop Bullying Now Foundation to help contribute to putting an end to the epidemic of bullying among today’s youth, empowering them through counseling, life skills training, open communication, and creative outlets. Next up, The Haunt will release “Why Are You So Cold?,” a powerful song that summons the band’s notorious haunting eeriness that burrows into your soul. To learn more about this captivating group, read what I asked them below:

You recently toured Europe. What was your favorite destination and why?

The Haunt: I think collectively our favorite destination was Milan, Italy. We have Italian heritage, so we were already very interested in the country, but when we got there it exceeded our imaginations. It’s a truly beautiful place with lively, wonderful culture and warm-hearted people. Anyone who gets the chance to visit Italy should definitely take up the opportunity.

Where do you plan on touring next?

The Haunt: We’re open! Right now, we’re working on a bunch of different things, such as recording music and videos, writing, and all that jazz, but we’d love to tour anywhere that would have us. We’re dying to visit Asia – Japan specifically.

What’s it like being so young and touring other countries?

The Haunt: It’s not all that different from touring in the U.S., honestly. The biggest difference, aside from the slightly increased energy in some European crowds, is the fact that we lost weight on the European tour, whereas we gained weight in the U.S. LOL. I can’t tell you what the reason is for that, but it’s a thing.

What’s like being a young musician?

The Haunt: I’d say that people automatically want to look down on you just because you’re young. Some other bands think they know more about this business than we do just because we’re young, but the truth is we’ve been doing this for four years, which is much longer than most other bands can say for themselves. It’s really fun winning people over, proving to them that we’re genuine musicians and not some gimmick. I think over the recent years, the climate has changed on young musicians, and it seems like now is one of the most accepting times in the general public for younger acts, and we’re really excited to be coming up in this time period.

What’s it like working together with family?

The Haunt: Exactly as you’d expect it to be. Lots of arguing and fighting but just as much love. It’s not always easy working on something as personal as art with your sibling, but the process has led us to become best friends, which we definitely were not before the band started.

Do you guys play any instruments?

The Haunt: Anastasia plays piano, ukulele, and, of course, sings. I (Max) play piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, synth, and also sing. We’ve been taking music lessons since we were really young, about five years old.

Your self-titled EP was released last year and is spectacular! What can we expect from your upcoming music?

The Haunt: Thank you! The EP was a blast to make, and we were really excited at the response it got. We have a new album on the way. It’s currently titled AREA51, and we’re really excited to share the first single “Why Are You So Cold?” in the next few months. It’s something new and different, so look out for it! 🙂

What do you like to do when you’re not making music?

The Haunt: I (Max) draw a lot, and write short stories. It’s my second passion. Anastasia loves musical theater and has been in a few school musicals, including being Wednesday Addams last year.

Who are your favorite artists to listen to?

The Haunt: We have a really diverse music taste. I’ve always loved more modern rock stuff, like Catfish and the Bottlemen, Royal Blood, K. Flay, Arctic Monkeys. Anastasia’s always loved older classic voices, such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, and others. Our favorites mix in bands like The White Stripes, The Kills, Cage The Elephant, The Dead Weather. Bands that make modern versions of blues rock. We love that stuff.

What’s the music scene like in Fort Lauderdale?

The Haunt: The music scene in Fort Lauderdale is better than you’d expect. Collectively, the music community here was really good to us. There’s a lot of talent here; the sounds that come out of South Florida are very diverse, and that definitely helped us shape who we are as musicians.

The masks for your “All Went Black” video were terrifying and unique! Where did you get the inspiration for that?

The Haunt: Terrifying and unique is a good assessment. The masks are symbolic of an adolescent society that has been less than kind to each other through recent years, leaving young people feeling insecure, judged, ridiculed, and fearful to be themselves during a time where it’s most important for them to find their value. We wanted to shine a light on that aspect of adolescence and hope to do whatever we can to improve that reality.

To listen to more of The Haunt’s music, click here.

Article on Stars & Scars mag: Stars & Scars

Beach Goons/Super Whatevr

Knitting Factory, Brooklyn

It was a perfect fall day in New York City. A perfect day to walk about Brooklyn and go to a show. Beach Goons, from San Diego, California, and Super Whatevr, from Costa Mesa, California blessed our ears with a fantastic show. It was Beach Goons first time here, and they did not fail to bring their Cali swag to Brooklyn. The three-piece band consists of guitar/vocalist Pablo Cervantez, bassist David Orozco, and drummer Chris Moran. If you’ve never heard of Beach Goons before, your earbuds are truly missing out. Their sound is a mixture of surf punk, with their latest album including more of their Hispanic roots. I first heard of them in 2017 and instantly was obsessed with them, playing their one album over and over again.

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The trio played a mixture of songs, old and new including Tar, Grimey, She’s Dead, Reservoir Dogs, and Anirak from their 2016 album, Boisad. From their new album that they released this August, they played hits like A.M., Hrsb, The End, and Miedo. Although the venue was small, the crowd was able to get very close to the stage with plenty of room to dance about. Beach goons were so pure in that they wanted everyone close and dancing and singing along with them, like with the song, The End, Pablo told us the lyrics so we could sing along with him. I highly recommend seeing them live, and you still can catch them on tour here.

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Super Whatevr is an emo-punk band also from California, so although they weren’t the same style as Beach Goons, they were sweet in personality and humble, yet packed a punch when it came to performing. Guitar/vocalist Skylar McKee has the voice of an angel, sounding so crisp, clean, and articulate during their set. He would stand on his tippy toes at some moments and it was awe inspiring. Skylar showed his spirit through the band’s performance and not many musicians show that vulnerability while on stage. Sure, you get great stage performance and sound, but not all musicians open up like Skylar did.

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Guitarist Nick Wickander and bassist Josiah Beason had great energy throughout their set as well, jumping around on stage and thrashing about at just the right times. Not to leave out drummer Josh Gomez, who also was full of high energy and throwing those arms at the drum set. They played songs like Benjamin Alphabet, Someone Somewhere Somehow, Bloomfield, and more from their latest album Never Nothing. What was beautiful about Super Whatevr’s set was that they were playing dark songs and embracing it completely. You would think that this would make the crowd feel sad, but the energy was not that at all. It was inspiring and moving, full with life. If you were somebody struggling with anything and saw Super Whatevr live, you would feel something within you awaken and make you want to battle your inner demons. Catch Super Whatever on tour here.

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Diet Cig at Elsewhere

‘Twas the first day of March, but rain took plunder.

Diet Cig was the headliner, and they took the thunder!

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Alex Luciano, Diet Cig

Great Grandpa was one of the openers for the sold-out show, originating from Seattle, Washington. With grunge influence, vocalist Alex Menne sings and screams their “snack rock” sound complaining of social constructs, entitled guys, and zombies. Menne introduced a song by feeling the need to tell the crowd not to touch anyone without their permission. These “words of wisdom” had the crowd silent, with only a few people vocally supporting the gesture. Knowing that this was a standing show and people would obviously be touched was an unnecessary ploy to shove down people’s throats.

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Great Grandpa

The band played songs like the slow, melodic tunes of 28 J’s L8r, a song explaining Menne stopped smoking weed because she thought her friends were zombies going to eat her to good old-fashioned grunge jammers like Teen Challenge with lyrics: “And I drip when I swell/out in my empty room/I only wanted you so bad”. Alex’s vocal range was impressive, from soft soprano to shrieking from yelling, all smoothly transitioned into one another.

Other band members include guitarist and vocalist Patrick Goodwin, bassist Carrie Miller, drummer Cam LaFlam, and guitarist Dylan Hanwright. Great Grandpa’s songs are all completely different from one another in sound either in tempo or mood, but the differences from one song to the next to create some sort of beautiful planned chaos: but that’s grunge isn’t it? Their newest release, Plastic Cough came out July of last year and can be found here. There’s still time to check them out on tour, playing in Philly on Saturday.

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Diet Cig took the stage and spoke of being consensual, friendship, love, and telling your ex off. Alex Luciano, vocals/guitar, was covered with so much glitter, you could see it all the way from the back of the venue. She posted on the band’s Instagram about bringing extra glitter for her-she wasn’t kidding. Luciano began the show with Sixteen, a song about her boyfriend at the time with the same name as hers and how he slut-shamed her. She danced around on stage with her infamous high kicks, yelled at the lights tech to let her see the crowd’s “beautiful faces”, and sang with so much soul you can feel it.

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Diet Cig

Diet Cig is a pop-punk duo from New Paltz, New York, with Noah Bowman on drums and Luciano on vocals and guitar founded in 2015. Their first EP, Over Easy, was released soon after, with songs of the scene days and problems young adults face. The band’s message is about empowerment, rebellion, and vulnerability. With cutesy delivery, you would think that young women and teenage girls would be their main demographic, but at least half of the crowd at Elsewhere was males, if not more. Luciano criticised the white-cis-male multiple times throughout the night. She seemed to throw feminism into everyone’s face.

Both bands’ stage presence was impeccable.They had high energy, commanded your attention, and criticized the bad in the world from being touched inappropriately to our politicians’ corruptions. What these bands stood for was having fun with rock and roll while not taking shit from anybody. Though both Great Grandpa and Diet Cig were excessive with their feminism and peace agendas, their performances were sensational. Catch them and Spook School until March 3 at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Tickets can be found here.

To see videos from this show go check out Stars & Scars!