C.I.C.A.D.A. is a group of true hometown boys for AudioXposure, coming from right here in Pottstown! According to one member of the band, their music is, “…diverse, [ranging] from heavy metal to alternative to everything in between. Our name says it all Chaotic Impulse Centered Around Distorted Audio.”
Mike, the founder, songwriter and rhythm guitarist for the group, put together some awesome talent. C.I.C.A.D.A. took a while to solidify their lineup, starting in September of 2003 with Mike and the group’s drummer, Dan. What started out as simply a birthday party for Dan’s younger sister, quickly turned into the making of the band you’ll see today. It wasn’t long before Lu was added to the roster, on bass, and only two weeks later the three were in the studio recording their four-song demo. One problem … no vocalist. Enter Jeremy (J). After several failed tryouts, during the following March, Lu approached J about auditioning with the band. He blew them away from day one, and only a few practices later he was in the studio laying down the vocals. While the current lineup wasn’t quite solidified at this point, let’s pause.
It was late 2004 when I first became acquainted with C.I.C.A.D.A. I heard about the band from a co-worker of J’s, and got a copy of their demo to check out. I subsequently had a few brief conversations with J. (This was before the plans for AudioXposure had been finalized, and I was interested in them predominantly as a publicist, which is my “real” job.) We decided to all get together and talk about the guys’ plans and the direction they were taking. Like most independent artists, the guys wanted to go about things the right way, had lots of plans for where they wanted to be, but they didn’t necessarily know how to get there.
Here’s where the brick wall went up. After talking with J, meeting with the group, and later talking with Mike, it was obvious that the guys wanted to do big things, and they wanted to do them soon. By this point, I was starting to scout talent for AX, and I offered the main spot in the first issue to the band, under the assumption that they’d have taken a few steps over those following months. There was never any secret that I loved their sound. I did from day one, and still do. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe that these guys are from this little half-assed backwards town. Now, the problem …. I felt like I was putting a lot of time into the advice and research I was providing to these guys. I knew I loved them. I knew they wanted to do big things. But nothing was happening. There comes a point where maybe you feel like your time and energy are being wasted. That’s how I felt. I was gearing up to do a big feature on a band, a feature that may have set the basis for the future issues to come, and these guys simply didn’t have anything going on. I thought, “Hey. How the hell am I supposed to feature a band who’s waiting around on a studio, not playing any shows, not seeming to gear up for their new release, and who apparently doesn’t plan to start doing any of this at all anytime soon?”
OK. So by that point, I’m starting to get bitter. (Being a woman, I reserve the right to be bitter and pissed off wherever and whenever I please.) I knew J was working on the band’s new website, and he was putting a lot of time into it. J was never the target of my frustration. Neither were Lu or Dan for that matter. That honor went to Mike. I had made some kind of a comment that wasn’t necessarily meant to come across as rude or accusatory, but Mike took it a little worse than I had anticipated. So, there we were, clashing personalities and all. It finally came down to this … either the band’s gonna be ready for a feature in January, or they’re not. What’s it gonna be? … Although it was a mild pain in the ass at the time, I had to respect Mike’s honesty in admitting that they simply weren’t going to have all of their s*it together by the time they’d need to. I got over it reasonably quick though, and picked up looking for new talent (and ended up with two quite incredible bands that were featured in January by the way – AAL and Stillframe.)
After that, there was really nothing left to talk about with these guys. We just dropped it, and that was it. Now, don’t get me wrong here. As pissed as I may have been at one point, I know these guys are all awesome people, and amazingly talented. It was really just the personality clash and some miscommunication at play, and things worked out perfectly well on all ends. Yet, imagine my surprise when I’m sorting through e-mail from artists mid-January, and I see one from Mike. I figured I could either just be a bitch and delete it, or I could read it out of pure curiosity. I opted for the latter.
Mike passed along a few updates about the band, including the addition of the member I previously left unmentioned – Todd, on lead guitar and backup vocals. He also let me know that the guys had finally gotten out to play some shows, and that they wanted to plan a show to benefit the victims of the recent Tsunami disaster. He needed help. Now, coming from a background dealing with predominantly non-profits, I found the concept mildly intriguing, and very difficult to try to refuse. And after one line of his e-mail, refusing was impossible. It was when he said, “…if you made it this far, you have not lost faith in us.” And he was right … I hadn’t lost faith in them. I still knew these boys could be big. I still loved their music. And I still knew they were decent guys beneath it all. If anything, I found myself with a newfound respect for the band, and especially for Mike. I agreed to help them out, but I made it clear that I was still a little bit uncomfortable about working with them, for fear that we’d have a repeat performance, or maybe lack thereof.
Now, on to the show! On February 18th, C.I.C.A.D.A. held their benefit show at Kate’s Kafe, in Phillipsburg, NJ. There were several times during the planning where I really had a lot of fear about whether these guys, or any of the bands for that matter, were really going to come through and put the work in. Although it was Mike that contacted me about helping out, the show was predominantly J’s baby. Dealing with J, and Lu early on, proved to be a lot less stressful than I had anticipated. The guys proved to me that they were serious. I was very much impressed with the amount of time they put into everything. They were all business, and they put in more effort than I allowed myself to expect. I was, and am, extremely proud of them for doing so much in so little time, and actually taking the initiative to put this together. You won’t hear me say this much … I was wrong. I was completely wrong to doubt these guys for a second, and I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong.
The benefit show was held to raise funds for UNICEF and, in addition to C.I.C.A.D.A., featured Settle, Man vs. Machine and Hype Unit. We didn’t quite get the crowd we had been hoping for, but I hope that they’ll see it as a learning experience and continue to use their music to help out worthy causes. If they continue to be leaders rather than followers, I think we’ll be seeing great things from them, and hopefully not too far down the line.
Aside from the benefit not being as big as we’d all hoped, I still was anxious to finally see the guys play live. And, at the end of the night, I had my chance. I have been so incredibly fortunate that all of the bands I’ve recently checked out live have been amazing performers. C.I.C.A.D.A. was no exception. There was a part of me that was completely astonished, and a part of me that really expected nothing less. I tend to think of J as being a bit reserved, so the way his personality and energy just explode in front of a crowd was pretty cool to witness. I saw Mike demonstrating a dedication to what he does, and it did nothing but increase my respect for him. Dan, the baby of the group at only 19, was another energetic performer, and Lu is obviously the kind of artist that completely surrenders to his instrument when in front of an audience. This show was also my first chance to check out the new guy, Todd. Todd’s definitely one of the livelier performers that I’ve had the opportunity to see lately. He became acquainted with the rest of the band as a producer for Studio 210, where the guys record. His lead guitar and backup vocals really round out C.I.C.A.D.A.’s sound beautifully, and help to add another dimension to the group’s collective work.
I was able to talk to J about where C.I.C.A.D.A. is going, and here’s what he had to say: “We will continue to grow and tune our sound to perfection. We would like to play out more and be heard by 1000s of people. Our short-term goal is to create a large enough fan base to carry us to the top. Our [ultimate] goal is to create a sound no one has ever heard before. We will continue to play until this task is completed and appreciated. We will rise. We have been working on the business aspect of music, meeting important people, building connections and learning something new everyday. [We want to use] our past backgrounds and experience to help us gain a national status with no label or major corporations changing and molding us into everybody else.”
C.I.C.A.D.A. is definitely a performance band, and with a little more time, they’ll be performing far beyond this area. According to J, the guys want their fans to “feel [their] music and appreciate the difference in every one of [their] songs.” There’s no better way to do that than to check out a live show. And, as luck would have it, the boys have a great show lined up on March 19th, at the Manatawny Club in Pottstown. You can check out the event calendar or C.I.C.A.D.A.’s website, at www.cicadamusic.net for more information. So, do yourself a favor, and check out this show. You’ll wanna give yourself a great big pat on the back just for taking the time. … Go ahead. … We won’t tell.