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Andrew Paley. The Static Age (US)

Andrew Paley. The Static Age (US)

The foundations

Marie Whiteford (keyboards, high school friends with Andrew Paley) initially played on the band's demos. The Hemlock Verdict evetually split into The Static Age and My Revenge. Adam Paley and Bobby Hackney played together in a high school hardcore punk band In Reach.

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The name

This post punk band (initially from Burlington, VT, moved to Chicago, IL) started out in 2002 and took its name from the Misfits' long-unreleased first album.

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The sound

Emerging from the idealistic side of punk rock and inspired by the last 30 years of alternative music, The Static Age have evolved their own sound.

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In a surrealistic move, "Blank Screens" December 2007 - March 2008 saw the band release a series of internet videos that do not feature the band at all.

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The band members also increased their collective influence through their relationship with the short-lived-but-influential Tarantulas Records, and a reputation for being both "art-centric" (a phrase originally used by Tarantulas) and fiercely independent, being very punk in spirit and attitude.

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Andrew Paley is also an artist and a writer. In addition to creating much of the band's imagery and artwork, interviews in mid-2007 suggested Andrew Paley was also working on a book, perhaps a novel. There were suggestions of illustrations. Not much has been said since.

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RiCo @ CZB: You started the band a year after 9/11. What were you doing when you found out about this tragic event and how did you feel about it back then?

Andrew Paley @ Static Age: At the time, I was in class at school in Vermont. I remember getting out of my morning class and rushing to the television in our school cafeteria. I sat there for the next 6 or 7 hours, just absolutely shocked by the day's events. It was the same the next day, and the next. Watching it all unravel and how the media pieced it back together was equal parts fascinating and horrifying. A week later I happened to drive through NYC and saw the rubble -- still smoldering -- from a highway bridge entering the city.

Our first recordings were heavily influenced by all of the shock, horror, dread that came out of that -- the song The Blackout in particular. It also influenced much of the early artwork of the band and even the name we chose.

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CZB: River City Rebels and The Hemlock Verdict were two short lived projects. What was it that made The Static Age different from the first two projects?

Andrew Paley (Static Age): Well, the River City Rebels was never my band -- I was mainly a touring member for only a matter of months while I was still in school before The Static Age started. At the time, we were just a bunch of kids in punk bands in Vermont, so I knew those guys from seeing them at shows. They needed a guitarist for a bunch of summer tours, so they called me up and asked what I was doing for my summer break from school -- I had no plans, and I joined up for the tours. All along, I was planning for and writing the songs that would become the first recordings from The Static Age, so I stopped touring with them to focus on that as soon as The Static Age was ready. It was a fun summer, but I had other things I wanted to get to.

As for the Hemlock Verdict, that was actually the precursor to The Static Age. We were a four-piece, and three of the members would go on to form The Static Age -- the drummer, Bobby Hackney; the bassist, Adam Meilleur; and then myself on guitar and vocals. In The Hemlock Verdict, I sang backups and played guitar, but moved to lead vocals when we parted ways with The Hemlock Verdict's singer (he went on to form the hardcore band My Revenge). We then added my childhood friend, Marie Whiteford, on keyboards to complete the first lineup of The Static Age.

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CZB: Why the move from Vermont to Chicago?

Andrew (Static Age): Well, in between Vermont and Chicago, I lived in Los Angeles and then New York City. Once I was done with school, the band toured so heavily from 2005 on that I gave my apartment in Vermont and lived out of the van or our label's house in Los Angeles. Once we decided to focus on building a studio and recording, I moved to Brooklyn, NY and started to piece equipment together. Finally, I moved out to Chicago last year to attend Northwestern University for a master's degree in journalism -- but I brought the studio with me, and started practicing/recording with The Static Age's new drummer, Joe Sowinski out there. Those sessions became In the City of Wandering Lights. And now that I'm done with my master's, we're back on the road.

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CZB: You have album titles such as Neon Nights Electric Lives and In the City of Wandering Lights ... do you believe in social awareness events such as Earth Hour? What are similar social or environmental actions you are actively taking part in?

Andrew (Static Age): I consider myself to be a social and political progressive. After all, I spent much of my childhood in Vermont -- a very progressive state in the US -- and have been involved with political and social activism there. I think that identity permeates a lot of what the band does.

More recently, I currently sit on the board of a nonprofit foundation in Massachusetts -- another US state -- called Rise Above that gives foster children small grants to engage in extracurricular activities (music, art, sports, etc) that they wouldn't otherwise have access to because the foster care system doesn't provide for much more than basic necessities. If you're interested in checking that out, visit

I'm also a vegetarian, and a big proponent of that lifestyle for health, humane and environmental reasons (though the other members of the band are not).

Another recent example: I was present for a few days of the recent protests in the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. It was one of the most inspiring events I've been privy to in years (or ever). The chants of thousands of people from all walks of life swarming the ornate rotunda and refusing to leave under threat of arrest or detention was just incredible. A couple of friends and I spent one night ferrying pizzas through the a bathroom window to keep the protesters, who opted to sleep inside, fed -- and then the police nailed the windows we were using shut.

Solidarity is an awesome thing.

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CZB: You spent two years touring America, living and sleeping in an RV, recording Blank Screens on the road. Then you spent another two years on the road before you took a break. What is one of the fundamental lessons you have learned as an artist from this experience?

Andrew (Static Age): Your band becomes whatever you're willing to make it.

Also, if you're loud, wear earplugs. And pack a towel.

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CZB: Can you find a sense for the repetitive signs and shopping malls, square buildings and large cement and asphalt intersections that seem to be copy-pasted from the Atlantic to the Pacific across the whole US?

Andrew (Static Age): Yes. What's especially strange for me is that I started touring when I was 15 years old, so I've had over a decade to watch the country change. I still remember a time when that "copy-pasting" wasn't quite so bad… when smaller cities in America weren't just collections of strip malls with the same big-box stores as every city dotting the highway before and after. Convenience has that way of trumping character.

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CZB: You've coined the phrase "art-centric" and have proven yourselves very punk in spirit and attitude. Was it hard or easy to replace the older members of the band in order to get the right people behind your project?

Andrew (Static Age): Actually, Tarantulas coined the "art-centric" phrase. As far as replacing older members: It's not always been easy, but I think the people who've joined up with The Static Age (and we've kept around for more than a tour) have always understood what the band's spirit is about. And I think that it helps that we've always been a big tent -- we've had a handful of different characters tour with this band over the years, and each lineup has clicked. Even on this tour, our lineup is a mixed bag -- each member brings something totally different to the table, but it works.

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CZB: You consider 21st Century man as being an input-output machine ...

  • Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936)
  • George Orwell's 1984 (1948)
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall (album 1977, movie 1982)
  • Twitter (2006)

Why do you consider man lets himself be dominated my machines, giving up on his social needs, although man has foreseen and been warned that this would be a long-term problem?

Andrew (Static Age): I don't know as if man is necessarily dominated by machines (hey, at least not yet). But what I think you're getting at is largely because of the intoxication of individual power. "Individuality” is basically a marketing term at this point -- and machines/software can be designed to respond to our delusions of individual power. And while "the power of choice" in entertainment media (television, video games, social media) satiates a deep-rooted human desire to feel in control or important, in so doing it begins to train us to think like machines in our conversations and relationships. There's a fantastic book that just came out last year called You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Larnier that argues that software design is quietly changing the way we think about ourselves and our relationships in unexpected and, sometimes, drastic ways -- I think it's worth a read.

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CZB: What is the message you are promoting on In the City of Wandering Lights and do you consider it somethink like a concept album?

Andrew (Static Age): I don't know as if I'm promoting a message, but I do think the new record has a cohesiveness to it. The album touches often on themes surrounding failure and the fear of failure. And not just in a personal sense -- social, political and ideological failure, too. I guess it's really about disconnects between what is and what could be.

But I think it's also an album about hope -- about what keeps us pushing into and through headwinds, and about how we bridge those disconnects.

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CZB: What are the two new touring band member's full names and how did you choose them to partake in the European Tour?

Andrew (Static Age): Well, Joe Sowinski -- the drummer -- and I have been playing together out in Chicago for over a year now. He recorded many of the songs on the new album as well. We actually first talked to him about drumming with us back in 2007, but the distance between Chicago and New York was too much at the time. Once I was set to move to Chicago, however, he and I began to discuss ideas -- originally for a side project, but then we were working together so well, I opted to include him in TSA's new lineup.

As for Bryan Wilkinson, the new guitarist: he's actually from Vermont but relocated to Chicago by way of New York to play with another band. So, he used to see The Static Age play shows in our earliest incarnation. When we decided we wanted a second guitarist for these tours, we started to look around, and the timing just clicked between us and him. He started playing with us a few months ago as we began preparations for touring.

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CZB: When is the Andrew Paley (the former Paper Tigers project) Songs for Dorian Grey album coming out?

Andrew (Static Age): As soon as I can make the time to finish the album properly. I've had 40 to 50 demos tracked for a few years, but so many other projects have come up that it perpetually gets backburned. I'm hoping to revisit it this summer, but it's just a matter of getting the time.

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The Static Age, 2010

  • Andrew Paley - Voice, Guitars, Sequencing, Keyboards
  • Adam Meilleur – Bass
  • Bryan Wilkinson - Guitars
  • Joe Sowinski - Drums

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Albums

  • The Blackout Demos (2002, Self Released Demo)
  • The Cost of Living (2003, Primary/Red Dawn Records)
  • Neon Nights Electric Lives (2004, Tarantulas Records, later on Fontana, 2005)
  • Blank Screens (2008, ReIgnition Records)
  • I/O (Primary Records/Highwires on Digital; Flix Records on CD, 2009)
  • In the City of Wandering Lights (Flix Records, 2011)

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In the City of Wandering Lights European Tour

  • April 15: Kamen, Germany @ JKC w/ Cancer
  • April 16: Monchengladbach, Germany @ Roots Club w/ Spanish Gamble
  • April 17: Wambrechies, France @ La Peniche
  • April 18: London, UK @ South of the Border w/ Spanish Gamble, Brothers, OK Pilot
  • April 19: Birmingham, UK @ Scruffy Murphy's w/ Brothers
  • April 20: Exeter, UK @ The Globe Inn w/ Brothers
  • April 21: Stamford, UK @ The Voodoo Lounge w/ Brothers
  • April 22: Huddersfield, UK @ The Parish w/ Brothers
  • April 23: Dorking, UK @ The Lincoln Arms w/ Brothers
  • April 24: Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Winston Kingdom
  • April 25: Mons, Belgium @ Cafe Du Parc
  • April 26: Basel, Switzerland @ Sommercasino
  • April 27: Koblenz, Germany @ Apparat
  • April 28: Stuttgart, Germany @ Kap Tormentoso
  • April 29: Nunchritz, Germany @ Kids in the Pit Festival w/ Just Went Black, others
  • April 30: Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic @ La Putika Club
  • May 01: Babice, Czech Republic @ KD
  • May 02: Kosice, Slovakia @ Colloseum
  • May 04: Novi Sad, Serbia @ CK 13
  • May 05: Arad, Romania @ Club Flex
  • May 06: Bucharest, Romania @ Control Club
  • May 07: Cluj-Napoca, Romania @ Booha Bar
  • May 08: Timisoara, Romania @ Manufactura
  • May 09: Wiener Neustadt, Austria @ Proberaum
  • May 10: Wurzburg, Germany @ Club L
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