The Everymen make rock and roll rooted in the Pinelands, baptized in the Raritan, and raised on the Shore. It makes music that is indelibly New Jersey. And this isn’t something the eight piece is particularly coy about: The band’s gut punch of a debut, New Jersey Hardcore, puts its allegiance right up front. “If you can’t be proud of where you come from, you can’t be proud of nothing, man,” frontman Mike V. told BYT in an interview over the summer. But for the Everymen, this pride informs their music more than a generic sense of place, as he went on to explain:
“[Our] Jersey roots are as important to our songs as the parts themselves. These songs are about being a kid and being in love and being devastated and being low and being high and being scorned and getting laid and throwing your arm around your best friend and and one day watching that friend’s casket lower into the earth and telling everyone how much you love them and being a man and being a kid. Those things happen everywhere, but for me they happened in New Jersey. So these are Jersey songs.”
The Everymen travel down I-95 next week for a brief tour that stops at the Black Cat on Wednesday. To get into a Jersey state of mind, we asked Mike V to give us a brief, personal tour of his home state’s musical legacy.
I’m not going to get into my whole “In Defense of New Jersey” rant here. But you can rest assured that it is long, vitriolic, passionate, and incredibly well informed. That’s only because I’ve spent about a lifetime defending my home from the haters. But for all I know, you love Jersey.
You love how it’s smack in between the Greatest City in the World (NYC), one of America’s birthplaces (Philly) and the center of the free world (DC), how it’s home to some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches on the East Coast, and how it’s chock-full of historical import. You love how friendly the people really are even though they’re depicted in such ill-advised ways on television and in movies. You love the boardwalks and the Italian food. You love how even though you can get from High Point (the north tip) to Cape May (the south tip) in less than four hours, and at it’s most narrow (Bordentown to Manasquan), you can drive across the whole state in forty minutes, North Jersey, South Jersey and the Jersey Shore are almost three different pseudo states. And you love how all three of those pseudo states talk endless shit about the other two until someone who isn’t from New Jersey talks shit and those pseudo states are immediately unified in defense of our beautiful stomping grounds.
But I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna go on my Jersey rant. Because I’m here to talk about music. The music of New Jersey, to be more specific. When you come from a place that has musical sons known simply as The Boss and The Chairman Of The Board, you know it’s hard to be fucked with. Here is a (very short) list of ten radical songs from The Garden State.
1. Frank Sinatra: “Come Fly With Me” (Hoboken)
Any list about Jersey has to start with Frank. I think it’s actually a state law.
2. Connie Francis: “Fallin’” (Newark)
Connie. One of the purest voices in music. She was one of the rare talents that could mix melancholy and joy, sorrow and exaltation all in one note. I always thought she was a white Aretha. She had that kind of voice, that kind of pull. Of course there’s only one Aretha. But Connie comes pretty close.
3. The Shirelles: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” (Passaic)
A quick listen to The Everymen would tell you that we’re big, big fans of 60s girl groups. The simplicity, yet the perfection of so many of these songs. The feelings and the timelessness they evoke is just perfection. We tend to write two types of songs: The long, rocking burner which, in my mind, lives somewhere in between Bruce and Crazy Horse and the quick hitter, 2 minute pop song. When I write those pop songs, I’m always trying to cop a bit of The Shirelles.
4. Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons: “C’mon Marianne” (Newark)
What a lot of people get wrong about The Four Seasons is that they were a vocal group. That’s not how I see them. Yea they’ve written and recorded some of the most recognizable vocals of all time, but what needs to be recognized is that the Four Seasons were a mean band. Listen to the groove on “C’Mon Marianne.” For my money that song is about as heavy as anything Cream ever wrote.
5. Parliament Funkadelic: “Give Up The Funk” (Plainfield)
One thing Jersey does about as good as anyone is cut loose and groove. Something about Jersey bands, they all seem to know exactly how to hit that cosmic groove that gets your hips shaking. It’s soul. It’s heart. It’s sex and it’s love. It’s a Jersey thing. It’s a Funkadelic thing.
6. Bruce Springsteen: “Out In The Street” (Freehold)
Jersey’s son. Unless you’re from New Jersey or know someone from New Jersey, you can’t really explain Jerseyans connection to The Boss. It’s deep and it’s next level. However I picked this song not because of Bruce but because of Clarence’s solo. Most people would say that The Big Man’s best moment was his timeless and era-defining solo on “Jungleland” but being the contrarian that I am, I think Clarence’s best solo came here.
7. The Misfits: “Skulls” (Lodi)
Unless you kind of know your stuff, The Misfits aren’t usually immediately associated with New Jersey, which is a travesty, I’d say. These guys were North Jersey to the core. And this is arguably their greatest tune. I’ve longed dreamed of closing our set with a Skulls cover. Maybe this will be the day.
8. The Fugees: “Manifest/Outro” (South Orange)
I’m not a HUGE fan of rap music. I dig the classics. I dig some of the newer stuff. I like a good rap song when I hear it but I would never venture to claim that I can hold my own in a conversation about rap music. That said, I think that Lauryn Hill’s verse on this song is probably the fiercest thing I’ve ever heard. It makes me shudder every time I hear it. It’s harrowing.
9. The Gaslight Anthem: “The Patient Ferris Wheel” (New Brunswick)
The most recent band to be inextricably tied to the Garden State, these guys are writing some of the best rock and roll songs around. No bullshit. No posturing. Just some dudes, some rock music, some attitude, and a story to tell.
10. The Everymen: “Boss Johnny and the Get Lucky” (Tuckerton)
You know, we’re not even close to any of the aforementioned bands in stature, but we all share the same traits that make us inherently Jersey. We’re the fighters. The underdogs. The scabs on our knuckles prove that we’ve kicked and punched for everything we have. And the sweat dripping down our faces prove that we’re nowhere fucking close to giving up.
Bonus: Download The Everymen’s free Christmas EP, A Very Everymen XXXmas, here.
The Everymen photo courtesy of Steve Newman.