Rock And Soul Apparel

Philadelphia has always been known as a premiere city for politics, history, music and community. Now it can add up-and-coming fashion site to its resume.

Earlier this month, Rock & Soul Apparel, the enterprising fashion label of designer and graphic artist Tyrese S. Thomas, emerged onto the Philadelphia scene with the Self Authentication line, an eclectic collection of vintage t-shirts.

The plethora of attendees played to the strengths of Rock & Soul Apparel–diversity and individuality. From rockers to hip-hopers, families, media personnel and a variety of other supporters, the historic Perelman Quadrangle welcomed the mixed community of Philadelphia with open arms and a ton of rock and soul.

Traditionally dark and gloomy, the stateliness of Houston Hall’s Flag Room was not diminished, but enhanced by the colorful and lively atmosphere of Rock & Soul. Thomas commanded attention as he previewed the Self Authentication line as one of color and edge, just one part of the entirely diverse company he so desires to create.

Celebrity stylist to models and artists alike, Charles Gregory took the role of master of ceremonies welcoming Philadelphia’s own UCity, who performed a genuine set that was more than crowd pleasing, but explosive. Laying down R&B vocals over a classic/punk rock track very much expressed the idea of diversity that drives Rock & Soul Apparel. UCity was just the little extra needed to truly hype up the crowd and create the most appropriate air of suspense.

I love fashion, Gregory proclaimed. And after tonight, you will too.

With that being said, the spotlights were in place and energy comparable to a sold out concert blew down the runway in the form of the Self Authentication vintage t-shirt collection.

Conceived in 2006 and created in 2007, Rock & Soul Apparel has the ability to be so simple and yet so intricate. Taking a plain t-shirt and making it sing is a talent that few have. Tyrese S. Thomas is one of them. With his endless experience and business savvy, Thomas can make anyone eager to buy 50 of every shirt for two reasons: the products speak a genuine message and as a consumer, one can tell that those messages are wholly believed by the designer.

Say all you want about a t-shirt, but these holler out from the cotton. The clothes of Rock & Soul Apparel draw you in and make you want to be a part of such greatness. They reproduce not only images, but the feelings that accompany them. From a pale blue v-neck with markings that resemble tattoos to a baby pink scoop neck with purple butterflies soaring out of the mind like creative thoughts, Self Authentication is a line full of passion and intellect.

Thomas takes chances with his color patterns and it is easy to at least hypothesize about what he was aiming at with each piece. Boldness with red on orange. Contrast with red on teal. Shock with yellow on blue. Of course, much of this comes from Thomas and his brilliant imagination. But the end results also come from the world in which he lives–one of varied people and ideas that push life to the limits, confronting new frontiers around every corner.

After giving him a few days to recover from his ground-breaking launch, Campus Philly sat down with Tyrese S. Thomas to gain his perspective on the fashion industry, life in Philadelphia, and the future of his beloved Rock & Soul.

Campus Philly: What started your love affair with fashion?

Tyrese Thomas: I started out as a graphic artist and one day I started thinking about where I would take these images next. Why not put them on shirts. But I’ve always had an interest in fashion and loved every bit about it. And then Rock & Soul just dropped out of nowhere. But that love of fashion was always there. Always.

CP: You always acknowledge your family, especially your grandmother, for their love and support. What special gifts or advice did they give you to reach your dreams?

TT: My grandmother is my icon. She is my source. If I were to have a board of directors, she would be on that board. She is THE advisory board. She’s a very strong woman and educated. She knows her stuff. Her thing was, If you’re going to do it, do it right. Handle your business and know what your focus is. Have integrity, don’t play games and don’t treat this as a hobby. It’s a job.

CP: Your label is called Rock & Soul. Who are the bands or artists that inspired all this?

TT: Lenny Kravitz, Erika Badu, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, The Roots, Common, Jill Scott–that whole genre, they really, really, really move me.

CP: Were any specific pieces devoted to or inspired by them?

TT: No, not specific pieces. It’s more of a compellation. All their music contributed to all the pieces.

CP: Do you listen to any of them while you are designing?

TT: Very rarely do I listen to music while I’m designing. I’m in total silence. Maybe the TV will be on, but I like to focus on what I’m designing.

CP: Did these artists contribute anything to the music you have playing at your shows?

TT: You can definitely hear their influence in the music I play at my shows. When I was telling Jermaine Roach and Maine Design Music what feel I wanted for the show, I was very specific in what sounds I wanted and that was all he needed to come up with a sound that was perfect.

CP: You’re based out of Philly. When Rock & Soul makes it big and hits the mainstream, will you still operate out of Philly or will you abandon us for the bigger and better in New York City or Los Angeles?

TT: Because I’m from Philadelphia, I’m going to stay in Philadelphia. I’m a family and want to stay close to my mother and my grandmother. But this is not a Philadelphia company. I formally launched in Philly because I believe in staying true to my roots, but I have no intention of keeping Rock & Soul strictly local. I definitely want to branch out, because there’s so much more out there. I will always proclaim my roots. I’m from Philly, even if I’m in London.

CP: So you do see this label going international as well?

TT: I think I’m going to take a trip to London next year and hopefully Japan the year after. The diversity is crazy in London.

CP: Why did you decide to launch now, at this time?

TT: I took a step on faith. You never know what you’re capable of doing until you do it. I’ve always been the man to create things for others and make it work because I’m faithful like that. And now I’ve created something for me. This is really a blessing. Designing and creating this collection taught me how to work outside of a culture that I’m used to, what’s the norm to me. Now that I’m out, I don’t want to go back. Was the timing right? Yes. In bad times, people need something to cling onto because we’re emotional beings. Why not make something to cling onto then. But I couldn’t do this if I didn’t know anything about business. I read an article that talked about companies who start in a recession coming up successful. I’m very grateful that I have a business mind. But I’m still learning.

CP: You officially launched the Rock & Soul Apparel label on June 7 at Penn. What was so appealing about that venue?

TT: My thought was let’s bring something edgy to a prestigious place. It’s a beautiful location, very posh. And here I come with this loud music and crazy people. A dichotomy is what I wanted because you wouldn’t put the two together. If you think about a show at Penn you think preppy or high-end. I wanted to give the people something to think about. If i
t was too over the top, it would take away from what I wanted to convey. But the lighting, the atmosphere, everything forced you to have to pay attention to Rock & Soul; not the building. I wanted to bring that whole theatrical aspect to the show.

CP: How did you come to have UCity perform?

TT: One of my models is my friend Joshua. We went to school together and he’s also part of UCity. I love them. I believe in them and I wanted them a part of the Rock & Soul movement.

CP: You had Charles Gregory host your launch show. Should we look for any more famous people who are representing Rock & Soul?

TT: We’re working on it. We had the launch, and now it’s all about what happens after the show. And that’s positioning. We’re working on building up an online community so you can purchase the shirts online. We’re campaigning for the label a lot. We’re also looking into maybe giving away some complimentary items to let’s say artists who want to wear the shirts onstage to get Rock & Soul out there.

CP: The Self Authentication line is, as you said, all about color and edge. Can we see anything like black and white or earth tones in the future?

TT: Every collection needs to make a statement and bold color is definitely the signature of the line. I’ve already started working on the next line, but color is going to be pretty much it. But you will see some black and white because it will be what pulls you in.

CP: I loved the outfits that were put together for the runway. Were they handpicked to go with the shirts or were they the models own clothes?

TT: Priscilla Bowens, who has her own line coming out August 15, was the stylist on the launch and we handpicked everything. I wanted a certain look and I think we worked very well together and brought it together well. I didn’t want a regular look. I wanted something that was a little crazy but subtle. Or rather, something you can see someone wearing wherever you go. Christina Tavares did the make-up and for that I was looking overall for cleanliness, the natural look. With some collections the make-up is it. And you might see that in the next line. But for Self Authentication I just wanted it pretty simple.

CP: Are you looking to branch out from t-shirts to other apparel?

TT: My goal is to brand Rock & Soul. I am infatuated with branding. So it’s definitely going beyond t-shirts. I am open to all sorts of possibilities. Of course they’ll all connect to each other. You may see in the beginning of 2009 a few pieces for preview purposes.

CP: Can you give us a sneak peek into what the next line will be like?

TT: The shirts in the line are really going to say something–literally. They’re really going to talk, be really clear and pull your mind. I want to make people think, Wow, this is crazy. I want you to walk down the street in one of these shirts and have people stop and say, Wait…what is that?! You’re going to see more color. You’re going to see more consistency. The line is going to be really engaging, fun, sexy, laid-back, I’m buying 50 of those.

CP: Everything about Rock & Soul screams diversity: the name, the models, the music, the designs and even you. What got you so passionate about this idea of diversity?

TT: I love people. I love the combination of people. I never just wanted to know just my own culture. It started out in high school for me. I went to a very diverse high school and that’s when I started to think, ‘Oh, this is how it is.’ From then on, I’ve always wanted to expand my world. So when I started Rock & Soul, I knew immediately that it had to be diverse. It wouldn’t make sense to exclude any culture from the Rock & Soul culture because we live in Rock & Soul everyday. It’s not just clothing. It’s a habit. You can go anywhere and see individuals who live that Rock & Soul culture. Rock & Soul starts as a feeling and then it kind of shines out and that is what I wanted to capitalize on.

CP: Do you think diversity needs to be increased and improved in the fashion world?

TT: Absolutely. The fashion industry just needs to get away from this idea of just catering to on set type of person, one set individual. Diversity is in. Diversity is the new trend. Even the major organizations are understanding that now. It unifies. As long as God allows me to be a part of the institution of fashion, I’m always going to make a statement about diversity.

CP: When can we expect the next Rock & Soul event?

TT: We’re looking at the beginning of 2009 to be the next major show. I’m really trying to think about what happens next. It’s all about pushing product now so I have to multitask between that and designing. I can’t get all stuck up in the moment. I started designing the next line a month ago. I’ve got to keep moving. I know on the 29th of June at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Rock & Soul will be present at a fashion convention with M.M.M. Model Management which is one of the best modeling organizations ever, definitely in Philadelphia. We’ve got a major fashion show going on and I’ll be giving a presentation as well. And I think we might have one more show after that before we go away until 2009.

You can contact Cara Donaldson at

Victor Victor Band

The automatic genre generator on iTunes may say Blues, but there is nothing sad about Philadelphia based Victor Victor Band.

If taking chances and living on the edge is what being in a band is all about, then Chatterbox, the duo’s debut album, is as ripped and raw as any studio album can possibly get.

With very little polished production, Victor Victor Band bares its soul on 13 tracks of fun beats and sing-a-long lyrics. Recorded in their native Philadelphia at local legendary studios, The Fire and The Record Lounge, it is in sessions like these that the true heart of rock and roll lies. Others might criticize Victor Victor Band for releasing such a stripped down album, but I personally think it’s just what the world of music needs!

Add one part Oasis, two parts Southern Biker Bar and a dash of The White Stripes and you’ve got the style of Victor Victor Band. The swirling black and white mass that is the art of Chatterbox coincides with what you hear as soon as that laser hits the CD. It is, fittingly, a limited edition; only 400 were pressed.

Ranging from pure instrumentals like Hillbilly or a track solely devoted to tuning up, as is the case with I Just Got Ready to do Hillbilly, the brain child of Jamie and Danielle Victor is an endearing conglomeration that showcases the ability of Victor Victor Band to be eclectic.

Lost & Found, the second track from Chatterbox, is radio play ready with its soulful sounds and pseudo-vengeful, emoting lyrics that can usually be heard coming through the airwaves today.

The opening lines of Lady of the Night seem to pay homage to Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel in words, sound and attitude.

You can’t help but laugh and bob your head when Victor Victor Band showcases its humor with the 30 second Raj Peter Bhakta which is about…who knows and who cares! You’ll be singing it with your buds in no more than five minutes.

With the lighthearted silliness of Same, another instance of when the tape was left running during rehearsal, it is easy to see that the Victors have a real partnership and a genuine friendship only strengthened by the music they make.

My favorite moments from Chatterbox are also some of the shortest. Clocking in at a mere 37 seconds, “Saw It In The Lounge, had me smiling from the moment Danielle Victor played the first keys until they cut short to make way for the 80s-like ballad of East Is The Wind, which is heart melting in its own right.

Saw it in the Sky is the most gritty and serious of this album’s potential hits. Both playful in tempo and tune, Jamie Victor plays his solos with such love that the chords will still be vibrating through your mind for hours.

Unique, yet classic, the music of Victor Victor Band has the potential to inspire the most skeptical teenager or even make the toes of the grumpiest old-timer tap enthusiastically.

To hear more Victor Victor Band see them live during the Sunoco Welcome America Festival on July 2.

You can contact Cara Donaldson at

Hello Tokyo

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. The same saying can be true for an album. Just because the packaging is appealing, doesn’t mean that the band is good. Lucky for music lovers everywhere, that is not the case with Hello Tokyo.

When I saw the Brooklyn band’s silhouettes emerging from the CD cover, strong and tall, introducing themselves as Hello Tokyo in bold, hot pink, I thought, Wow! For a debut, this band is really making some serious statements. Let’s hope the music backs them up.

Not only do the eleven tracks of Sell the Stars, back up Hello Tokyo’s superstar photo shoot, they will definitely be the catalyst for making this band the next big thing on the scene.

The band’s first full length picks up where their starter album Don’t Cry in Public, left off, rekindling the fire that was left smoldering.

Standing out in pink from the rest of the track list labeled in white, I was instantly attracted to the song, “Sell the Stars.” The change in color must mean something exceptional. I quickly realized that Sell the Stars was distinct for being the title track of the album. Its rebellious nature and intriguing arrangement made this song extraordinary.

The raspy and passionate vocals of Kat Sugar Plum are reminiscent of a young, adventurous Chrissie Hynde. Like the treacherous water nymphs of mythology, Kat lulls her victims into a soft security and just as easily, releases the wrath that is the sheer power of her unique voice. We have seen this type of talent from the likes of Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson, but never before with the seemingly supernatural element that emits from Kat and the rest of Hello Tokyo on tracks like Alert the Authority.

Hello Tokyo brings a very raw, sincere and yet very singular expression to every song. It is not hard to hear–and for that matter feel–every emotion that each song is trying to convey.

The sultry guitar solos of double duty guitarist and bassist John E. Cheeseburger on songs like I Spy and The Affair are other worldly and only enhanced by Kat’s vocal mantras, quietly enveloped away and hypnotizing us by the minute.

The consistency of drummer Sam & His Sauce seems to keep Kat and her vocals on track and in check. However, if you listen very closely you can catch a moment or two where she breaks loose and positively growls and grinds her lyrics into nothing. You go girl!

But Hello Tokyo can’t be written off as a simple seductress just yet. Even though all their tunes are undoubtedly heartfelt, some like We Are Running and Your Majesty are considerably more upbeat and pleasant in their tone. And others, like Steady the Gun and Midnight Snack downright deserve to be called the next dance and mosh anthems.

The technique of distortion is one not lost on Hello Tokyo. Many if not all of Sell the Stars is complimented by echo, call and response or what sounds like a mournful Kat calling from across the sea with a megaphone. And yet, it is neither repetative nor annoying and only makes each song more memorable. And with the 2008 edition of new members Vinnie Split Lickity, master shredder (John now putting his full focus to his talents with a four-string), and Eavvon Oats and Honey, percussionist extraordinaire, there’s no stopping Hello Tokyo’s evolution.

Intimidate Me was the track that was stuck on repeat in my head for hours and Hands To Hold appealed to me the most lyrically, professing the idea that Nothing’s worth letting your soul decay.

Hello Tokyo can easily become the favorite band of anyone who is a big fan of small shows in even smaller venues and basements. And the next time this band plays in any basement, I will definitely be there.

Taking one more look at what Caroline Hoermann captured for the cover of Sell The Stars, I can confidently say that the spotlights outlining Hello Tokyo won’t be going out anytime soon.

You can contact Cara Donaldson at

Young Marriage

Brandi and John tied the knot on Friday night. They stood hand-in-hand in a garden-like setting and their families and friends watched as they were pronounced husband and wife. But what makes them different than the other couples married that night? Well, they are only 23-years-old.

Forever is a long time, especially when you’re young. Is it even possible to truly understand what forever means when you’re in your early 20’s? Sure it may sound good, safe and desirable, but if you’re honestly planning to stay with the same person forever, then what’s the rush?

Believe it or not, getting married right out of high school used to be the norm not that long ago. Today, getting married straight out of college is somewhat looked down upon. “Think about your career” seems to be what people say when speaking about marriage. There’s nothing wrong with devotion to you career, but if you have found the right person, then what’s wrong with making a devotion to that person? Where is it written that you can only have one priority or that a marriage automatically ruins a career?

Brandi and John had been dating six years prior to their engagement. Although they are young, Brandi suggested that if they had been older and in a long-term relationship, people would question his intentions. Because she is out of college and he will be done school soon and they are already living together, they felt that this was the, “obvious next step,” Brandi said.

“It worked for us,” John said. Both sides on their families supported their decision because they all knew it would happen and it was just a “matter of time,” John said. If they didn’t go through with it now, they would only be waiting to do so.

Just like everything else in life, there are advantages as-well-as disadvantages of their decision. The disadvantages of getting married young made everything, “more exciting and interesting,” John said.

Having doubts before getting married is common no matter what age you are. Right after John proposed to Brandi she got cold feet and worried because he was her first real boyfriend and thought maybe she was just settling. That feeling shortly passed and she does not regret her decision at all.

Getting married at a young age means that they have the option of having children young, which is what they originally wanted, or waiting and spending their time with each other without a major responsibility. They’re also able to keep many of their friends which is something they don’t think many married couples do.

For the most part, all newly-wed couples struggle. Now that they are married, they are done planning and budgeting and they’re able to move on. Since they got engaged last year they spent all of their time doing those things. However, Brandi and John will now have to spend all of their earnings paying off the wedding bills.

When they began planning the wedding, they were inexperienced in that area because they have not witnessed many weddings. They didn’t know what was going to happen or how it would turn out. At the same time, they were, “giving other people a chance to experience it,” John said because they were the first couple from their group of friends to make the commitment.

You can contact Shannon Keough at

Summer Solstice Celebration

No amount of college partying could prepare you for the Kimmel Center’s annual Summer Solstice Celebration, a tradition that has been in place since the building opened in 2001. Solstice is the one day out of the year where anything goes in the Kimmel Center to welcome in the summer season. This 15-hour party spectacular is jam-packed with every type of event you could ever imagine from live bands to theatre performances, free food and…animals? Yes, even animals. So take a nap, drink a cup–or five–of coffee and welcome summer in the best way possible.

This unique all-day, all-night celebration begins midday on June 21 and continues until dawn the next day. For just $10 and $5 for children under 12, you can experience the multitude of culture that the Philadelphia area has to offer.

It all starts with a pre-party kick-off so hot it closes down 15th and Spruce for five hours! You can buy anything from photographs to jewelry at the InLiquid’s Art for the Cash Poor, new to the Solstice Celebration this year. This block party style art show and sells nothing over $200!

After you’ve dropped some cash, drop some negative energy with Surya Namaskar, 12 postures of Yoga specifically designed for this sun salute.

The party then swings back home to the Kimmel Center, until the longest day of the year finally comes to a close.

Music is the center of celebration this year with a variety of genres present throughout the day. The Verizon and Rendell Halls are in full swing offering jazz, classical and operatic performances throughout the day, including one from the infamous Philly Pops!

Move and groove to the disco sounds of Baby Loves Disco or let your body feel the beat of native Aztec dance rituals.

Spend the afternoon with the animals of the Philadelphia Zoo. Or if fun and furry isn’t your cup of tea, show off your skills with Wii Bowling. Take a breather to hear great storytellers, see talented jugulars or just take in a modernized Tom and Jerry flick. Start the evening right with superb performances from Philadanco, Philadelphia’s premiere modern contemporary dance company and The Sangeet Society, performing the music and dance of Northern India, Native Nations Dance Theater, recreating the history and culture of Native American society, and The Swaray African Safari Ensemble’s beautiful African beats.

As night falls, the real party begins with Wes Felton and Philly’s own AAries, setting the bar with their unique blend of hip-hop and R&B. Music styles from all over the globe connect through such acts like Xande Cruz, JACK Quartet and Johnny Cruz.

Have an eye for fashion? Then The Kimmel Center will be your heaven for one night and one night only. New to the celebration this year, Showroom 77, Philadelphia’s first multi-clothing and accessory label wholesale/retail showroom, will be featuring Philadelphia designers like Walish Gooshe, Vintique & O di and more from both Philly and New York for all you fashion savvy individuals.

The true craziness of the night gets kicked off by The Brakes, a rock band that manages to entwine all styles of American music in their own soulful songs. After what is sure to be a raucous performance, head on over to play Quizzo with Johnny Goodtimes or take on your friends in this year’s amped up Guitar Hero III competition offering prizes like American Airlines tickets and a Wii Prize Pack. And if you’re really adventurous, check out the incredible Bob & Barbara’s Drag Show. Yep, it’s exactly what you think it is. Don’t be shy!

Finish the night out with two very different and yet extremely moving performances from the cast of The Color Purple and the one-woman play, Popsicle’s Departure, 1989.

But the fun doesn’t stop when the clock strikes midnight.

As any college kid knows, that’s the time when a party reaches its peak! Celebrating the end to an incredible day with turntables in hand are DJ Spinderella, formerly of the Grammy winning trio Salt N Pepa, and DJ Rahsaan & the Afrotaino Soundsystem, heading up the late-night dance party.

When you’re all danced out, check out the bands that give the term eclectic a meaning. Listen to the varied styling of The Sea Trio, BILLLL$, The Hydrogen Jukebox Circus Slideshow. But you can’t go to sleep yet! After 15 hours of fun, with the sun, comes the icing on the cake. Lead by master percussionist Joseph Tayoun with Al-Bustan and the Seeds of Culture, the drum circle welcomes in the dawn with rhythmic drum beats and chanting as the sun rises. B.Y.O.D (bring your own drum)–what constitutes as a drum is open to interpretation. Warning: this is no ordinary sunrise.

Without a doubt, there is definitely something for everyone at this year’s Summer Solstice Celebration. And if you think there’s nothing at The Kimmel Center that can please your complex tastes, then I guess you’ll just have to wait and see what next year brings.

For more information and a complete listing of events, please visit

You can contact Cara Donaldson at

Beach Survival with Style

Going to the beach or going down the shore? There are some discrepancies about which one is “right,” but who cares? Summer is here so it’s time to hit your feet in the sand and get high off of that ocean breeze.

The Jersey shore is ridiculously close to Philadelphia, so why not take a spontaneous trip on a gorgeous “beach day?” Whether you’re skipping a day of work and heading down the A.C. Expressway or you’re planning an extended vacation with family or friends, here are some tips that will make your trip unforgettable and less stressful.

Before you leave, limit yourself to how much money you’re going to spend. When you’re down the shore, money seems to disappear. Of course when you’re on vacation you’re allowed to splurge a little, but you don’t want to come home and realize you cannot pay the bills. The best way to save is to take cash and not use your debit or credit cards. If you are from Jersey, great! If you’re not, wait to buy your gas there because it’s a lot cheaper.

When you arrive (or even before you leave), buy some groceries. PB&Js are always a stellar lunch on the beach. Just watch out for those seagulls! Crackers and chips are also nice to munch on all day long. Other basic foods will help you get through the week so you do not end up spending all of your money eating out. It’s always fun to go out for breakfast or order food for dinner, but you also are not looking to come back with 15 extra pounds.

If you’re going to an amusement park, buy a bracelet; it’s much more cost effective when spending the day ride-hopping.

Parking down the shore is a nightmare! Remember to bring tons of quarters for the meters.

Sunscreen is critical; even on a cloudy day the sun is still beaming. Put sunscreen on when you get to the beach and reapply at least once. You’ll be happy at night when all of your friends are crying from the pain. Sunburn is not fun!

Things to bring to the beach: wiffle ball, volleyball, Frisbee, music, playing cards, board games. All of these items will ensure an awesome day at the beach! Books and magazines are also good when you get some downtime.

Packing. If you’re having some space issues, don’t bring down something you know someone else is bringing. Share blow dryers, straighteners, shampoo, etc. Also, check the weather before you pack. Having only shorts and tank tops isn’t convenient when the high is 47 degrees.

Remember this summer that you don’t need to go to some fancy island resort to have a great time. The shore/beach is the perfect place to kick back, relax and have fun under the sun.

Hottest Jersey Shore Points:


-Ocean City

-Atlantic City

-Sea Isle City

-Cape May

Other things to do down the shore:

-rent a surrey or bicycle

-visit the boardwalk

-play arcade games

-eat funnel cake, pizza, ice-cream

-go shopping

-stop at amusement parks/water parks

-play mini-golf

-see a fortune teller

-take old-time photos

-get caricatures

Don’t forget to pack:

-bathing suit

-iPod/CD player



You can contact Shannon Keough at

Twelve Twenty Review

It takes more than a catchy hook and tabloid-worthy antics to make it in the music industry these days. Instead, you need talent, perseverance, teamwork and passion to past the competition. For the members of local rock band, Twelve Twenty, these things are key focuses of the band’s dynamic.

Bassist Tommy Ciccone (the Jealous Type), rejoined former bandmates, Dayv Lord and Scott Frassetto to record some songs. What started as a simple recording project for an old friend turned into the birth of a new band to grace the Philadelphia music scene. After the session, the trio decided that the band would work and decided to book some shows; if you attended the first night of last year’s Brotherly Shove Festival, then you may recall their performance. Since then, the band has signed on to DPR Records and just released their debut CD, Hit with the Cool Ray.

Another key mark for a band is their name—their identity. While Ciccone played coy and danced around the question, he did say, “Well, 1220 reversed is predicted to be the end of the world and musically, this is the end of music.”


Well, for starters, Twelve Twenty has a refreshing throwback to some of your favorite 90s rock bands. I’m not talking bands who pretended to dabble with a rock chord every now and then. We’re talking rock that refuses to be ignored. Deep bass lines, raspy vocals, solos that will have you racing to buy a guitar—the end of music? I think not. It’s more like a blessing disguised in 12 tracks.

So what about this album? I’m declaring this one of the best albums this year. Don’t believe me? Listen. The opening track, “RZ” is not simply the opening song, it’s an experience with a perfectly-placed raging guitar solo. This is one you’ll find yourself replaying. While some of the tracks may have some “pop” traces, they’re easily overshadowed by fleshed out solos that will have you on your feet. “Strike Up the Bland” is a complete 180 from the rest of its predecessors; it’s a short but sweet instrumental that will have you checking to make sure it’s the same band. Skip to “Vanity,” you’ll hear the beginning of it and then the track restarts—yes, that’s not some prefabricated idea to make it seem more “authentic.” The whole CD was recorded with two takes per song. Yes, just two.

When asked why the band opted to only do two takes, Ciccone said, “Instead of trying to hit and falling short, it is what it is and if it hits, it hits. The idea of “one more take” will come on further records. The first record is going to be very honest and we’ll get into the bullsh*t later. I think that overproduction has to do with the “sophomore slump.” If you take it [the material] out on tour, and we have to use samplers or backing tracks, it’s sort of disingenuous. If you start form a place that’s very basic and real, you won’t hit a “sophomore slump.” On the second record, you have somewhere to go, somewhere to grow from rather than doing this overproduced thing and then doing a “back to basics” album. We did this and we have room to grown.”

For a few Sunday night sessions, the trio worked with producer Walt Bass to mold the album. When asked about the two-take method, Bass said, “Whatever comes out, comes out and that’s what we’re going to go with. A lot of other producers want it to be perfect…something that lives forever…what I wanted was to capture a moment in time.”

What he captured was not only three friends, but three bandmates acting as a whole. Listen to the way that the three pieces flow together seamlessly. It works—and that’s important these days. With the music industry being somewhat shaken up or in Ciccone’s words, “guerilla warfare,” it’s a simple Darwinian tactic: Only the strong will survive. That means, not only the powerful chords and catchy lyrics. It means a bond, an energy, a style.

Simply put, Ciccone said, “A band is a collection of personalities that are allowed to express themselves in a musical way.”

And that, readers, is Twelve Twenty.

Interested in checking out Twelve Twenty? For more information, tracks and show dates, visit their myspace at

Why are you still reading? Go listen now!

You can contact Brittany Sturges at .

Interview with Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels is the stud of the Phillies pitching staff. The 24-year-old has a career record of 27-16 with a 3.60 ERA. Now in his third season with the Phils, Hamels is looking for his best year yet. Campus Philly joined him in the dugout during batting practice to talk about the Mets, the curse of William Penn, cheesesteaks and more.

Campus Philly: You guys have been notorious in the past few years for getting off to slow starts. What’s been the difference this year in coming out much stronger?

Cole Hamels: I think it has a lot to do with how we finished last year and achieving our goals. We had set out to make the playoffs, and when you’re able to achieve that you get that positive sort of feeling going into the off-season. The acquisitions that we made and the type of players we brought in have extremely helped the team. I think we were a little more relaxed during spring training, which was a lot better. Most of the time in the past couple spring trainings it was a little more stressed in knowing that we had to get off to a good start. It’s never a good thing when you have to do something; it’s more like you want to. We’ve been able to do well and here we are in first place.

CP: What areas do you think the team needs to improve in at this point?

CH: I don’t know that’s tough! Our pitchers have been doing really well, our bullpen’s been doing well and we have tremendous hitters. I think we just need to keep the team healthy. When we’re able to have the top of our lineup back with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, I mean, we’re really potent.

CP: The Marlins have gotten off to a solid start, the Braves are struggling a little but you know they’ll improve, and the Mets are obviously strong again. Who do you think will be your main competition in the division down the line?

CH: I think it’s the Mets all the way just because of the types of players they have. They have players that know how to win and they’re the best of the best. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. With the Braves, they always know how to get the job done and they definitely have the key team players that know how to win and want to win. They’ll be tough competition as well as the Marlins. The Marlins don’t know any better and they’re just going to go out there and play as hard as they can. They’ve been getting all the wins and attention right now, and you can never count those guys out. We’re really going to have to wait and see at the All-Star break who’s really in the thick of it.

CP: The Mets made the big move in the off-season for Johan Santana. You guys are two of the top starters in the game right now. What were your initial reactions to that move, knowing you would probably be facing him a lot?

CH: I thought it was great that he was coming to the National League. From a pitcher’s stand point, it’s a little better to be in the National League because it’s more entertaining. You get to hit, and it’s a little easier if you’re a dominant pitcher to face another pitcher versus the DH. So I was very happy for him and I knew he was definitely bringing some good competition. I want to go out there and be the best and in order to be the best you have to play against the best. So I think it’ll help me take my game to the next level.

CP: It’s been a good run for the city’s sports team the past few weeks. The Sixers mad their run and the Flyers are still in it now. How has it been playing in that type of sporting atmosphere?

CH: It’s great. For me, I grew up in San Diego and we didn’t have a basketball or hockey team, so I didn’t know too much about those sports. I actually went to my very first Sixers game last year against the Spurs. Then I was at the game this year against the Cavs when they had that controversial loss. I’ve definitely taken a liking to the city. I’ve lived here the past two off-seasons and I’ve gone to Eagles games. I’ve seen the Sixers and I want to get to a Flyers game. It’s a city that has welcomed me in and I want to take part in the whole community and sports world that Philadelphia has to offer.

CP: A lot has been made of the curse of William Penn. I’m sure you’ve heard about that.

CH: No, actually I haven’t. I don’t know anything about a curse of William Penn. You’ll have to enlighten me.

CP: Well, basically, when City Hall was built, there was an agreement that no other building would be built higher than William Penn’s statue on top. Then, in 1987, they built the One Liberty Place skyscraper, which exceeded that height. Since then, no Philly sports team has won a championship, and that was following some pretty good success in the ‘80’s.

CH: That’s a pretty good observation. I never really thought about that. But curses are made to be broken. I think Boston definitely showed everybody that it can happen. I think the organization’s taken a great approach in developing players within the system and going out there and getting the other top-quality players. Especially when the city is behind us like it’s been, that gives us an extra 10th man on the field and helps us push through the tough times. When were in the playoffs, the type of excitement the city had was so special and we want to achieve that every year. We just really want to win a World Series for the city.

CP: What types of things do you enjoy doing in the city?

CH: Well, I’ve always been a big fan of history. I’ve gone and seen the Liberty Bell and I’ve seen Independence Hall. I’ve gone to the Art Museum and ran up the Rocky steps. There’s so much to do. Every off-season, a couple times a month, we’ll go into the city and check out something new. Most of the time I’m just kind of hanging out and enjoying life, hitting up the golf courses and doing that sort of thing.

CP: Do you have a favorite cheese steak place to go to?

CH: Well, you know, that’s a tough thing to comment on. There’s so many good ones. The last one I went to was Ishkabibbles. That was pretty cool just because of the name. Pat’s and Geno’s are definitely great. They’re pretty neck-and-neck. I really can’t pick out a favorite so far yet.

CP: Do you try to keep those to a minimum during the season?

CH: Oh, of course. Those things will sit in you. That’s definitely not what you need in your system during a game.

CP: What other sports do you enjoy playing besides baseball?

CH: Growing up, I played soccer. I’m a big soccer fan. But obviously watching it is a little more boring. I love football. I play fantasy football and I’m always paying attention to my home town San Diego Chargers. I’ve been going to Eagles games too, and they’re fun. I’ve become really good friends with A.J. Feeley. It’s been fun to hang out with him and every once in a while he gets some playing time. (laughs)

CP: Did you hear about the soccer team that’s going to be coming here in a few years?

CH: I have heard about it, but I don’t really know too much about it, whether they’re building a stadium for it or whatever.

CP: Yeah, they’re actually going to be playing in Chester.

CH: Chester? Well I’m over in West
Chester so that’s pretty close. Maybe I’ll attend some games.

CP: What’s your favorite city to play in besides Philly? San Diego?

CH: You know I really don’t like playing in San Diego as funny as that is. There’s too many people I know and it’s a distraction. When I play I like to just be able to focus in there, narrow my mind and play. But I feel like I always do well in Washington. So I’m very interested to see their new stadium. I hear it’s quite a remarkable park so I’m anxious to see that. I also love playing in New York just because of the rivalry and the booing.

CP: Do you have a favorite batter to face?

CH: The pitcher. (laughs) You know, it’s a little easier to pitch to them just because you’re supposed to have the upper hand.

CP: What about a least favorite batter?

CH: The guys that was always tough and I’m glad he’s out of the league, Cabrera. I had a tough time getting him out and I could never fool him. He always seemed to get a hit at the wrong time for us. So I’m glad he left the league because it makes it a little easier for me. Chipper Jones is a great hitter, too. He’s been a tremendous hitter for such a long time and he always does damage against us.

CP: What advice do you have for college students or just young people in general who are trying to achieve their goals?

CH: You know I like to say when you initially go into college and you set out all those goals you have, most of the time when you finish it’s not going to really end like you thought when you started. Always have a back-up plan. You go into something wanting that one job and it’s not always going to happen. You have to be open to other possibilities. Life’s not easy and it’s going to be a challenge, and there’s always going to be a time when you think you’ve hit the end of the road and you don’t know where to go. You always have to fight through.

CP: Did you have a back-up plan in case baseball didn’t work out?

CH: Yeah, I did. I was planning on going to college. Just because exercise came so easily to me and I was good at it, I was looking to enter an exercise physiology program. I would’ve been training and leading workouts and stuff like that.

CP: Last question – How’s your back been feeling?

CH: It’s good. I haven’t had a problem with it since 2006, which is so long ago. Obviously I’ve been going to a chiropractor. That’s always been something I’ve stressed and that’s helped me out. I’ve always tried to let people know that having a chiropractor keeps me sane. (laughs)

CP: Do you have anything else you want to add?

CH: I don’t know, I don’t know

Thrice at the Electric Factory

You typically do not hear acoustic guitars, layered synthesizers and screaming in the same concert. At the Electric Factory, Thrice showed their versatility by utilizing all these and more!

Thrice opened with some “Calm before the Storm,” then played a short snippet of the classical-piano driven “The Lion and the Wolf” before launching into “Firebreather.” The juxtaposition foreshadowed the rest of the show. Thrice undulated between their post-hardcore fist-pumpers and the more chilled out sound of their latest release, “The Alchemy Index,” which aims to personify in music the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth.

Fans that had a hard time adjusting to Thrice’s more developed sound on their latest albums still had a reason to be pleased. The band played multiple songs from their earlier albums, including “All that’s Left,” “Cold Cash and Colder Hearts,” “The Artist in the Ambulance” and “Deadbolt.”

Throughout the show, Thrice used a few unconventional. During “Broken Lungs,” guitarist Teppei Teranishi played a xylophone interlude. Lead singer and guitarist Dustin Kensrue shook a maraca into the mic during the Native American influenced “The Earth Isn’t Humming.” Kensrue also sang the entirety of “Digital Sea” into a handheld device resembling a World War II radio, sounding like a mega-phone.

“Of Dust and Nations,” from the album Vheissu, was one of the most engaging songs in the set. The song closed with a mesmerizing delayed lead riff played by Teranishi. An intensely somber tone overtook the crowd as all eyes watch Teranishi sway and rock with the cutting notes.

The emotional climax of the show was during “Daedalus.” The song is framed around the well-known Greek myth in which Icarus flies too close to sun, causing his wings to melt and sending him crashing into the sea. Thrice alluded to the story in the past with “The Melting Point of Wax.” “Daedalus,” written from the perspective of Icarus’ father. Kensrue was wrought with genuine distress as he sang the lines “Oh God, why is this happening to me? All I wanted was a new life, for my son to grow up free.” The crowd could not help but be moved, and it was clear that the rest of the band also felt this emotion. The song is not particularly heavy, yet they rocked out as hard on that song as they did on any other.

Another highlight came when the band played its latest single, “Come All You Weary” Kensrue dedicated the down-home acoustic number to his friends from mewithoutYou and Brand New, with whom they were touring when they visited the Electric Factory last December.

The band seemed to become more comfortable playing their new material since then. Throughout their career, Thrice has always been a band that tries to energize the crowd while playing at full volume and with full force. With the release of The Alchemy Index, they have been featuring lighter songs, specifically those from the Water and Earth discs. Last time, the transitions were a little stilted, but this time around the show was smoother overall. They had no problem transitioning from one of their older songs like “Stare at the Sun” into the synth-laden, Sting influenced “The Whaler.” The crowd also seemed more prepared for the shifts in sound.

In response to the crowd’s chant of “one more song” after the band left the stage, Thrice came back out for an encore and played two more. Kensrue and Teranishi first took the stage for a coffeehouse-like performance of “Moving Mountains.” Teranishi sat on a stool and plucked the song’s gritty acoustic notes. Kensrue shook a maraca and a tambourine while belting out the song’s refrain – “I don’t know the first thing about love” – in his raspy yet controlled voice. Bassist Ed Breckinridge and drummer Riley Breckenridge then joined the two on stage to close out the show with the stomping barn-burner “The Earth Will Shake.”

You can contact Matt Lettieri at