Well hello there. I know it's been a while since I contributed anything to the blog. Let's call it an unexpected hiatus. Luckily, you've been in the best hands possible with the rest of the crew. Anyway, I'm here now and I've got a doozy for you.
Johnny Roset Cervini is the front man for Just Visiting, and the founder of Black House Records. The former is an up-and-coming rock outfit from New York. Their press kit came our way and I was struck by two things: their music, which is a tuneful throwback to early 90s rock (I'll lovingly and nostalgically call it grunge), and Johnny's story. Cervini won a hard battle with crack and heroin addiction and is turning his experience into an awareness campaign via his band, label, and the #impactchange hash tag. Here's their current single, "Life In A Shoebox," with an additional interview excerpt added for good measure.
Wanting to know more about Johnny's projects, I sent over some interview questions. I'll post the entirety of that below. In the meantime, here's another video. Did I mention that Just Visiting is a bilingual band?
I'll let the music speak for itself. Actually, I'll let Johnny do the same.
kilter: Your press release mentions Nirvana and Audioslave, and I hear some other early 1990s influences. Who else would you list as inspiration? Do you draw from other bilingual and non-English-speaking acts?
JRC: I would say blues artists. I know that I studied a lot of Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Hendrix, and other artists whose foundation lay in the blues. I'd like to be well-rounded and say that I draw from non-English-speaking acts, but the truth is that I don't. I can appreciate artists like Mana and La Ley, but I don't feel the inspirational push that I might feel from an Alice In Chains song. My heart and musical soul belong to the dynamic that the Pixies created and Nirvana perfected.
kilter: I'm researching #impactchange and will definitely include it in my writeup. I'd like to hear more about it in your own words. What is the message you want to get out? Does your personal history inform your songwriting?
JRC: My songwriting comes exclusively from battles I've won and battles I've lost. The message I'm trying to get out with #impactchange is that drug addiction only defeats you when you are not informed. When I was doing NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings, I met a ton of people in their 30, 40, 50s, even 60s that were doing rehab for the ninth or tenth time.
Had someone exposed me to their stories as told in their own words before I picked up a crack pipe in 2004, I think I would have never done it, but since I wasn't exposed to the unholy brutality that hardcore drugs and their effects have on a person over decades, I just lost myself in the momentary high. I was lost there for five years and successfully quit on December 23, 2009.
kilter: You've started your own label, which can be a big undertaking. What led you to that decision? Did you work with other labels along the way who weren't receptive of your message/approach?
JRC: I started a record label because coming out of college, it was the only idea that captured my entire attention and ambition. I just had so much respect for people like Clive Davis, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Lyor Cohen and how they masterminded their labels from inception through expansion and ultimately success and visibility in mainstream culture.
I never worked for another label, but I did intern at a few labels. They were all crucial experiences when I was just getting my hands wet in the music industry.
kilter: How did Caspa Narkz get involved with Black House Records?
JRC: Well, growing up in the East New York section of Brooklyn, I was always drawn to the catchiness of certain hip hop songs. I started studying Diddy's business moves, and I had friends in the neighborhood that would be in studios. I started tagging along to see what the creative process was like. I was almost exclusively studying the motions of writing, recording, and releasing a hip hop song. I actually developed a true love for rock only after I had become obsessed with the full circle that encompasses hip hop.
kilter: Are you currently courting any other acts for the label, or do you plan to in the near future?
JRC: At the moment, we are quite comfortable with a two-artist roster. Just Visiting NYC and Caspa Narkz are a handful, but in time, and probably in 2013, we'll be looking for new talent to mold, manage and represent.
kilter: If you overheard someone talking about your band or label, what would you want to hear them say? What would you hate to hear them say?
JRC: I'd hate to hear them say anything negative, but that's just the Aquarius in me. If I heard them say something good, I would hope to hear that we consistently put out hit music, our videos are dope, and our live performances are awesome.
kilter: What does the rest of 2012 look like for Just Visiting, Black House Records, and yourself?
JRC: The rest of 2012 will find us (Caspa Narkz and Just Visiting) on the road separately rockin' shows and giving people their money's worth. We will also be releasing new material all the time and looking to secure respect from top blog, magazine, and industry publications. I want to get on Billboard and knock some other artists out of their boxes. Finally, and most importantly, I want all music from Black House Records to eventually be in heavy rotation on radio and the music videos on MTV, VH1, BET, Fuse, etc.
You can check out the label at blackhouserecords.com. You can learn more about the band at justvisitingnyc.com or on Facebook. Be sure to give them and Caspa Narkz a listen, and pick up their albums on iTunes.