Asbury Park based music site Speak Into My Good Eye had an ambitious brainstorm. Pick a Saturday and challenge any interested local musicians to come up with a new song, written and recorded from start to finish, within 24 hours for a compilation album. Would bands be up to the task? Could the bands write a brand new single, work out the lyrics and music in such a short span? The New Jersey bands answered with a resounding “challenge accepted.” The 1st Annual NJ 24 Hour Songwriting Challenge was born.
On September 20th, bands all across New Jersey worked all day and night in order to get their songs done. It is a true testament to the independent spirit of both Speak Into My Good Eye’s Mike Mehalick & Chris Rotolo and to the awesome bands of our great state that they were able to pull this off.
From the psychedelic vibe of Julian Fulton’s “Paris, Idaho,” the surf glam of the Glycerine Queens “Car,” the bluesy Roy Orbitron tune “Condoms in My Leather Jacket” to the punk of Hot Blood’s “Cop In A Tank” the compilation highlights many of the different sounds the musicians of New Jersey are creating. You can pick up the compilation at SIMGE’s Bandcamp page here. 33 songs for only $5.00 is a truly awesome deal. All proceeds go to benefit the Monmouth & Ocean Counties Arts Council.
Mike answered a few questions for us below:
How did you come up with the idea of a 24 hour songwriting challenge?
This summer was kind of a transitional period for me. I moved and was working a crappy job to pay the bills and was also keeping the site going. I wanted a project to get excited about and I knew I wanted it to involve Speak Into My Good Eye. Earlier in the year we had done a Queens of the Stone Age tribute compilation, so somehow this 24 hour idea popped into my head and it just kind of snowballed from there.
Were you surprised by the number of artists that wanted to be part of this?
I was surprised by some of the people who did respond who I had never heard from before which was really nice. I count a number of the bands on the comp as personal friends, but the outreach from the wider community was special. You look at the followers on your Facebook page and sometimes you think nobody’s catching what we’re doing, but moments like that are what fuel me to keep doing things like this project.
Were there any artists on tour that couldn’t participate but wanted to?
We had a couple of bands that couldn’t participate due to scheduling issues unfortunately. However, we did have some submissions from the road. I believe Joe Makoviecki’s submission came while he was in the mid-west with Thomas Wesley Stern.
What is it about the artists of New Jersey that makes them special?
I think it’s a mixture of things. Growing up in the shadow of New York, having that blue collar work ethic, and having the full spectrum of nature and the shore available makes for an interesting artistic background if you’ve grown up here or lived here for a long time. There’s a little bit of a chip on everyone’s shoulder because they genuinely believe in what they’re doing because they work so diligently at it.
I read you were hoping to put a film together of the day but had some mechanical difficulties. Still hoping to put a video out?
Yes! It may not be coming together as quickly as I’d hoped, but there will definitely be something culled together from the film we took and that was submitted by bands.
Can you tell us a little about the Monmouth & Ocean County Arts Councils?
Sure. The councils put together community art exhibitions & projects which are funded in part by charitable donations. A lot of it goes towards teaching kids about music, including programs with local musicians.
Do you plan to make this challenge a yearly event?
Definitely. Next year I’m aiming for 100 bands! We’ll announce the date early enough so everyone can lock it in. It would be cool to set up a place for bands to come together and collaborate as well. Maybe even have a show at the end of the day to celebrate. We shall see…
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