Party ‘Laws’

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First Posted: 4/23/2014

The Great Party crowdfunded their debut EP before they had even played their first show. The Scranton-based “Ameri-pop, style-rock” act filled a school bus full of fans and drove them to a gig in Philadelphia and back. They received a Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Grant to fund their cinematic video for “Hecho en Mexico” and an educational release party that taught attendees about the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday on which the song is based. Their moniker only begins to describe the imaginative fun they’re having.
So after three years of exceptional feats and performances, the quintet – Rosaleen Eastman on keyboards/vocals, Michael Eastman on guitar/vocals, Michael Nordberg on keyboards/guitar, Matthew Mang on bass, and Matthew Thomas on drums – will release their first full-length album, containing some songs they’ve worked on even before their inception as a group.
“It’s been a lot of work, I’d say. It’s good; it’s really good. Our new album has been a big process,” Rosaleen began. “It’s going to be so wonderful to have it come out and have people hear what we’ve been working on for a long time. Some of these songs Nordberg and Michael wrote years ago, but then Nordberg and I redid them before Mang and Thomas were even on board, so it’s going to be great for people to hear them.”
“With the EP, a lot of the recordings were done a little more hodgepodge, and with this, everything was thought of beforehand to keep a more consistent sound from beginning to end,” Nordberg noted.
“I think we’ve tightened up. I think we have more of a defined sound now,” Mang added. “On the first EP, we still think they’re all great songs, but one song to the next could sound like two almost totally different bands in a way. Now, I think this album sounds more cohesive.”
“I think as a band we’re more comfortable,” Michael Eastman affirmed.
It helps that the 12 tracks on “New Laws” were all recorded in Nordberg’s home studio with an intentional flow from one song to the next that will deliver a sound best experienced on vinyl.
“It’s been a long time coming because Mike took the time out. We used extremely hi-fi, major analog, high-tech stuff that Mike has – he’s got so much stuff it’s beautiful. The ultimate goal this time around is that we’re going to put it on vinyl, so we wanted to make the record quality really, really high. Mike not only is a collector of these things, but it’s just a gift for us to kind of express music that sounds so good. It’s going to be amazing on vinyl,” Michael Eastman explained, pointing out that each record will be made of recycled vinyl featuring random multicolored patterns and surrounded by “Magic Eye” cover art, adding to the overall experience.
“I’ll download stuff and listen to it if I need it mobile, but I much prefer listening to records at home. It’s much more of a rewarding experience, I think, as a listener and as a creator of music,” Nordberg acknowledged. “I get a CD and it becomes a coaster within a week.”
“15 years down the road, you could take out a record and still put it on,” Thomas agreed. “Downloads are just disposable.”
Though after about a year and half of recording on and off and mastering by Eric Ritter of Windmill Agency Recording Studio, those who choose to purchase the album on CD or as a digital download aren’t likely to toss these songs aside so easily, as each is a polished example of the “pop, style, and substance” they’ve come to be known for, never shying away from where the music takes them.
“I don’t try to write anything. What comes out comes out, and if these guys like it, then it becomes a Great Party song. If it doesn’t, then I just keep it for something else,” Nordberg said. “I write whatever comes to me.”
Lyrically, Rosaleen traversed though some darker themes this time around.
“This sounds really silly, but whenever I had written song lyrics in the past, I was single or going through breakups or being happy in love and then things are normal and then breakup again, so I got married and it was just like, ‘What the hell am I going to write a song about?’ So apparently I started writing about death,” she concluded with a laugh.
“Because death do us part!” her husband Michael interjected with a chuckle.
“A lot of them have a lot of heavy ideas in the tracks because I usually draw inspiration for lyrics from current events,” she continued, noting that “Flowers” is about the Ariel Castro kidnappings.
“I have a lot of death-themed songs. They just keep amassing.”
“She’s Unbelievable” used that phrase as filler until it became a repeated lyric in a song about infamous Nazi Ilse Koch, widely considered one of the most evil women in history.
“At the time, I was reading about the most evil people that ever lived. Michael would yell at me at night; I’d be on the computer reading until 3 a.m. about the most horrendous people that have ever lived. I was reading about her at the time when we were kind of throwing that song together at practice,” Rosaleen recalled.
“We were Ameri-pop. Now we’re death-pop,” Michael Eastman joked.
“We’re not just a Great Party – we have this kind of depth,” Rosaleen said. “We’ve got big ideas.”
“All Good Things” is about Robert Durst, the millionaire who allegedly got away with murder more than once, and “Grey Lady” is about Rosaleen’s grandmother passing away, but listeners are free to interpret the music however they like.
“’Volt’ is great because if you don’t pay too close attention, it just sounds like a breakup song because that’s what I thought it was when I first heard it,” Mang said.
But it’s actually about electrocution, though not all the songs on the album are morbidly inspired. “Paws” is a wedding song filled with pop culture references, and “Marionettes” was also written for a friend’s nuptials. “Don’t Be Silly” is just nonsensical fun, and every track – dark or light – is crafted with care – deceptively catchy, energetic, and pleasing to the ears.
“It’s a good party soundtrack for the summer,” Thomas suggested.
“I always equate songwriting to cooking. You want to have somebody over and make them a great meal, and you sit there and watch them. ‘Do you like it? Is it good?’ It’s kind of like that. I hope they really like the nice meal we made for them,” Rosaleen mused.
“We put a lot of hard work into it, a lot of elbow grease. We all have dirty aprons.”
They’ll clean up nicely for what they promise to be their biggest concert yet at O’Leary’s Pub in Scranton, an album release show that starts at 9 p.m. and will serve as the debut of at least three never-before-heard songs from the new record. Some songs even feature Mang on the upright bass.
“This show is going to be just us playing all night because we’re very conceited and just all about ourselves. We don’t want to share it with anyone else. We’re going to bring out all the big guns,” he cracked.
“O’Leary’s is a really cool venue, a nice big stage and big sound system and light system. There’s plenty of tables and chairs, but lots of room for dancing. It’s just a great venue for it, and a lot of people haven’t been there yet and don’t know about it, but we’re trying to spread the word because we played there once before and we loved it. It was great.”
“It’s finally here, and we’re very excited about it,” Michael Eastman enthused. “We feed off each other and have a fun time.”
The band’s chemistry is obvious throughout their interview in the Weekender offices, smiling and laughing the entire time. When asked to recall their favorite moments together, from playing rainy bonfires to Brooklyn bars filled with Belgians, Thomas simply can’t choose one.
“Every time we play, for me, is just a blast. I always have fun.”
“New Laws” established by The Great Party (if they were in charge)
• Potholes must be filled “with something” within 24 hours.
• No work before noon.
• The sale of puppies is illegal in stores.
• You are allowed to hit one pedestrian per year if they walk out in front of your car.