First/Last-The Danzas

April 7, 2014

“Together since birth and fueled by our shared love of bad jokes, good music, and Kung-Fu movies… We are The Danzas. We’re not pretty*, we’re not rocketing towards fame and glory, and we’re definitely not in it for the money – so why bother? We’d like to claim that we’re motivated by some high calling or that we’re a three-man armada out to change the world with our vision. We’d like to claim that but, due to current and binding legal agreements, we can’t anymore. But, that’s not the point. The point is that we’re driven by something it seems most bands around us have forgotten. We are in it for the fun. To quote one of the most refined and well-spoken orators of our time, Brett Michaels, “I need a chance just to get away and if you could hear me think this is what I’d say: Don’t need nothin’ but a good time, and it don’t get better than this.” (*Except for Joe. He’s a solid 7.)** (**Joe disagrees – at the very least he’s an 8.)”

Check out the band at their official Website, Facebook, ReverbNation, YouTube and Twitter. The Pittsburgh punk rock trio’s debut, “We’re The Boss“, was released last summer and as the band preps new music, I want to thank Joe Nadberazny (Drums/Vocals), Tim Emanuel (Guitar/Vocals) and Brian McGee (Bass/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?

Joe Nadberazny: The first album I ever OWNED was REO Speedwagon’s “High Infidelity”. The story goes that I was about two and a half and walking through the mall with my parents. ‘Keep On Loving You’ came on over the PA and my dad asked my mom if she knew what song it was or what band it was and she didn’t know. Apparently, I immediately chimed in saying, “Keep On Loving You, REO Speedwagon.” My parents looked at each other in shock, then turned and went straight to the record store and bought it for me. That was the first, but definitely not the last time I would prove to be a know-it-all smart-ass. I had a bunch of other albums and 45s on vinyl and I went through a phase in junior high where I bought a lot of cassingles, but the first full album I think I ever bought with my own money was Nine Inch Nails “Broken”. I don’t think you could get two more dissimilar albums if you tried. Tim Emanuel: The first album I really owned, that wasn’t borrowed or a hand-me-down, was probably the ‘Ghostbusters’ soundtrack. I really liked the movie and I think it may have been a Christmas gift. It was a big deal, having music that was just mine, that I could play for my friends and say, “Listen to this!” Not too much longer after that, the first album I ever purchased was “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot. I’m pretty sure I wore out both of those cassettes within a year.

Brian McGee: When I was just a little kid my parents got me my own record player for my room and I had some awesome kid vinyl. One of the first LPs I can remember as being “mine” was “Pac Man Fever” which I still have. It was either that or “The Smurfs All Star Show”. “Pac Man Fever” holds up better than the Smurfs, but I do blame ‘Froggy’s Lament’ (and ‘Ewok Celebration’) as my pseudo-introduction to rap. I’m sure it was supposed to be more ‘Convoy’ than Kurtis Blow, but keep in mind ‘Rapper’s Delight’ was only 3 years old when this came out. As far as the first album I ever bought with my own money? Most likely it was a ‘Weird Al’ album.

Your last album bought?

Joe: The last album I downloaded was “Wicked Love” from Gene the Werewolf. Does that count? It should. That band kicks ass.

Tim: I’m kind of a new music junkie, so over the last year I’ve really made a switch to streaming music via Spotify. I find new stuff all the time but it’s been a while since I bought an album. The newest album in my playlist is “Monkeys With Guns” by The Bones. I think the last album I actually purchased was an EP that my cousin’s band, Year’s Echo, put out a few months ago. Brian: Yeah. Since streaming has become a thing I don’t buy nearly as many albums as I did (or probably should). I do try to make an effort to support local/non-national bands though. The last full album I purchased was probably “Ordinary Silence” by Mixtapes. They’re a super awesome band out of Cincinnati.

Favorite album of all time?

Joe: “Led Zeppelin I”. It’s perfect. ‘Good Times, Bad Times’ has to be the best first track on a first album, ever.

Tim: That’s a really tough one because, honestly, I have a new favorite every few days. I find new stuff or fall in love again with an old favorite – it’s such a moving target. An album that had a huge impact on me early on, and is definitely an all-time favorite, was “Built For Speed” by The Stray Cats. I had a huge crush on an older girl who used to come over to keep an eye on me when my parents went out. She would bring over records to play on this stereo my parents had. The Stray Cats were one of her favorites and we listened to that album a zillion times. I remember being just blown away by the hugeness of that record.

Brian: Well… um… five way tie? Sorry, I know that’s cheating, but that’s what you’re getting. The Cure “Disintegration”, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin “God Fodder”, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong “Compact Jazz (Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong)”, Operation Ivy “Energy”, and They Might Be Giants “Flood”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

Joe: That’s really tough. I don’t know that I have a good answer, so I’m just going to say “St. Anger” because it’s a fun answer to give. Everybody piles a lot of grief onto that album so I’ll just toss another log onto the hate fire.

Tim: First thing that comes to mind is probably “Gold Medal” by The Donnas. The first four or five Donnas albums are just badass, start to finish. I remember being really psyched that there was a new album coming out and being really disappointed in that one. I should probably give it a re-listen but my hopes aren’t high.

Brian: Doesn’t everyone just say “Chinese Democracy”? That one brought me to my tra la la la la la la la knees. Seriously though, the thing that sticks out in my head right now is that last set of Green Day releases: “Uno / Dos / Tre”. For some reason I was really wanting and hoping that there would be at least one of those that would really capture the excitement they had in the early days. I sampled all three and they really sound more like a band pretending to be Green Day. Look, I know they can’t all be “Dookie”, but is too much to ask that Green Day put some punk back in their punk?

First concert attended?

Joe: The first real concert I ever went to was Live, Catherine Wheel, and Buffalo Tom at Hershey Park Stadium in 1995. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and I had just started my first band a few months earlier. I grew up in Harrisburg and when Live blew up out of York, it was a big deal. They were on the radio all the time. Just before that show, I saw an interview with them on MTV and Ed Kowalczyk said something like, “We used to go to one big summer concert in Hershey every year, and now this year, we’re going to be somebody’s big summer concert. That’s crazy.” I just assumed that of course, this is my big summer concert, in a couple years, we’ll be somebody’s big summer concert… That didn’t work out, but maybe this year we’ll be somebody’s big night out at Gooski’s.

Tim: I feel like there were bands I had seen before, but I think the first real concert I saw was the B-52’s playing on the ‘Cosmic Thing’ tour. It was in an auditorium and the Violent Femmes opened for them. The Violent Femmes took up a tiny corner of the stage and just rocked the bejesus out of the place. When they finished up, the curtain behind them fell and the rest of the stage was covered with tinfoil. The B-52’s were great and played for what seemed like hours and hours. They finished up, said goodnight and walked off stage. Everyone thought they were done and started to leave. In the hustle and bustle, the lights shut off and these insane spinning lobster-shaped stage lights came on. The band came back on stage and played a 15 minute version of ‘Rock Lobster’ – it was phenomenal.

Brian: My memories are a little fuzzy, but when I was a pre-teen (talking single digits here) all my cousins and I got into a commuter van with some of my aunts and came down to the Civic Arena to see Kenny Rogers. I remember having a good time with ‘The Gambler’ and being excited at the whole spectacle. That’s about all I can remember though, except ‘when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away and when to run’.

Last concert?

Joe: Since my daughter was born last February, there hasn’t been a lot of time for concerts. I think the last show I went to was with Tim. We saw Valient Thorr at The Moose back in June of ‘12. Great show, we had a blast.

Tim: I think that Valient Thorr show was my last concert too. They were as amazing as anticipated. The band that opened for them, Holy Grail, was a complete surprise. I hadn’t heard of them before the show, but they were fantastic live – really inspiring. I hadn’t seen a band in a while that made me want to go home and write songs after the show. I think my jaw was on the floor that entire night – except for when Joe threw a beer at me, but that’s another story.

Brian: Flogging Molly. I’m not sure they could put on a bad show if they tried.

Favorite concert ever?

Joe: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes at Star Lake in 2000. It was a 22nd birthday present from my future wife. That show was just amazing.

Tim: Probably seeing Bad Religion for the first time in 1992 or 1993 at Graffiti. I was one of two or three people I knew at the time who’d heard of them. The place was packed to the rafters. I couldn’t believe that I was going to see this band I loved with so many other people that were fans. I pushed and shoved my way up to the front of the crowd, and literally five seconds after the band started I got bowled over in huge wave of people. There were people piled on top of me and all I could see were ankles. Out of nowhere, this giant guy in a leather coat bent down and yelled, “Put your arm around my neck!” He yanked me up to my feet and then disappeared back into the crowd. I think I sweated every ounce of fluid out of my body, but stayed on my feet the rest of the night. I never found that guy again, but I’ve always wanted to say thanks and buy him a drink.

Brian: Every They Might Be Giants concert I’ve ever been to. For me, nothing compares to a TMBG concert. I’ve seen them both pre and post full band and they’re equally amazing. I’ve never had more fun at a concert. It probably doesn’t hurt that they’re my all-time favorite group. Unfortunately, I did not see them at the legendary Electric Banana show. Probably after TMBG would be The Cure on their ‘Wish’ tour out at Star Lake. Maybe it was an age thing, but that was a pretty magical show for being such a big venue. Everyone I went with was wearing a fresh pair of black Chuck Taylors and for some reason I distinctly remember that standing on those fold-down seats the whole time made my calves hurt.

Least favorite concert?

Joe: My wife has forced me to go to a number of Dave Matthews Band shows in the past, but there is one that sticks out as clearly the worst. Not necessarily because of the music, that was the same lite-jazz, Kenny G bullshit it always is, but because of one guy at the show. The guy sitting right in front of us had to turn around every five minutes and try to give me a high five. If security hadn’t taken the little Swiss Army knife off my key chain at the door, I probably would’ve stabbed him in the neck after the third song.

Tim: Hands down, Smashing Pumpkins. A friend had just turned me on to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins was opening for them on (I think) the ‘Mother’s Milk’ tour. We saw them somewhere in State College. I don’t know if it was an off night or what, but Billy Corgan kept insulting the crowd and throwing water bottles at the front row. The band was unenthusiastic and kept ending songs early – mostly so Corgan could yell at the crowd. He was really self-righteous and entitled – it completely turned me off to the band and I haven’t intentionally listened to them since.

Brian: I don’t know that I really have a least favorite as I don’t tend to dwell on negatives, but perhaps the most surreal for me was seeing Korn at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. This was back when Korn was one of the biggest bands out there. I think it was for the release of ‘Issues” and they played that album in its entirety. That isn’t to say it was a bad show as they really killed it. I was in the front of one of the balconies and I just remember feeling like I was on the ocean the way that thing was moving. It was also really crazy seeing all those Korn kids tromping up through Harlem with their make-up and pseudo goth-metal clothes. I always thought that a crowd like that which identified themselves as outsiders would be more accepting of people’s differences, but they didn’t really seem to be that night. Apparently, I was too square to be at that show!

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?

Joe: I think that my favorite Pittsburgh memory is probably the 2005 Super Bowl. I know that might sound cheesy, or whatever, but it was pretty intense. I didn’t grow up here, so I had never been in a city to experience a championship game atmosphere for any sport in person. So when I watched that game on the South Side with some friends, that was my first taste of that kind of mass euphoria. When everybody flooded the streets after the game and people were just singing and cheering and hugging strangers… it was just really cool to know that the entire city was experiencing the same thing at the same time. All of Pittsburgh was collectively celebrating as one. I’ll never forget that.

Tim: I think officially moving back and getting my own place. My family is from here, but having military parents, I moved around a lot growing up. Wherever we lived, we’d always come back to Pittsburgh. After a lifetime of spending vacations & holidays traveling to and from the city, I sort of built up a mythology around the place. It may sound stupid, but having my own address in the 15203 zip code was kind of the realization of a childhood dream. I honestly just can not imagine living anywhere else.

Brian: Wow, too many to pick from. We love this city, the people, the music… I like to think that The Danzas and Pittsburgh have this in common: We’re gonna do what we do whether millions of people are watching or absolutely no one. It’s great to get recognition (and Pittsburgh deserves it) but that’s not our motivation. I think this is one of those underlying reasons that makes Pittsburgh what it is and it’s echoed in so many things here, especially the music scene.

Thanks, dudes. Love that album title. Gotta have some sort of Alyssa Milano reference on the next release!