by Lucy Leitner
In a rather unfortunate turn of events, Hollyburgh’s favorite band that is not led by a riot-inciting, cornrowed, reclusive, security guard biting victim of Tommy Hilfiger’s open palm is not stopping in Pittsburgh (the center of the universe) on this current tour. Instead, Warner Drive will be playing in Youngstown tomorrow night. I could call the Ohio “city” Pittsburgh’s anemic, club-footed, lazy-eyed imitator, but I already used that distinction to describe Toronto last week. A healthy fraction of Warner Drive is composed of Jews (like me) who are apparently taking the self-loathing thing too seriously and spending an inordinate amount of time in the Philadelphia area this tour. That may just be because the Steel City is not yet aware that the band has a Pittsburgh connection.
Though we at Hollyburgh are saddened by this turn of events because of the fantastic time had by all when Warner Drive played the Thunderbird Cafe in November, we would still like to support them by mentioning their Kickstarter campaign that will send them to Europe this summer. Hopefully they—band members Jonny Law (vocals), Jonny U (drums), Candice Levinson (guitar), Elvis James (bass), and Pittsburgh area native Ryan Harris (guitar)—have the crowdsourcing success of Scream Park.
I first saw Warner Drive by accident while attending a Steel Panther show on the Sunset Strip in 2010 with my brother, who bought their debut album, Fully Loaded, after the show. We listened to it on an epic journey from Hollywood Boulevard to Santa Monica, neglecting our purchases at the magnificent Amoeba Records for the band we’d never heard until the night before. We became infatuated with the song “Price Check on Aisle 5 for Love” that Jonny Law would later tell me is played in the key of A Minor.
While visiting my youngest sister in New York City last summer, I stumbled upon a Warner Drive show again, this time in Brooklyn where I first witnessed the disturbing trend of hipsters wearing Guns n’ Roses shirts. By the time of that show, I had purchased their sophomore album, the superior K-Go!, which has nothing to do with that indie band on treadmills. KGO is the name of a fictional radio station that has made the fantastic decision to play Warner Drive as much as our local stations play Puddle of Mudd.
The album shows a true progression in that every song is an improvement on those of the their debut. The aforementioned “Price Check on Aisle 5 for Love in A Minor” was the standout track on the previous album while every song on K-Go! is better than that. They don’t slip anywhere on this album. Power ballad “Miles Away” is superior to the earlier slower number “Broken.” Because of the distinct growth in just the few years between albums, it is abundantly clear that Warner Drive will continue to progress, unlike, say, Puddle of Mudd.
Warner Drive’s sound is dynamic, which is unfortunately unique in the brooding landscape of modern rock radio. Since when did post-grunge mean post-apocalyptic? Mainstream rock is currently dominated by bands with vocalists who are apparently just easing us into the state of the music industry when the zombies inevitably rise up and conquer. Things are so bleak that somehow the perpetually “just there” Foo Fighters have become one of the greats, proving that if you’re mediocre for long enough, you’ll be considered a classic.
Warner Drive is not mediocre. They are a wonderfully unique blend of punk influences—apparent on the apoplectic “Metal Bridge”—and the fun, hooky hard rock of years past that seeps through all their songs. They cover Golden Earring and Roxette at their shows. They have a song called “The Shocker,” an homage to our generation’s peace sign. They tour relentlessly, often traveling through the vast farmland of Kansas and thinking about the Wizard of Oz, prompting arguably their strongest, most original song “The Scarecrow.”
Helping the Kickstarter campaign is recommended if you wish this talented young band success, if you want to support the artistic endeavor or a displaced Pittsburgher, if you hope for something better on the radio, if you want to “take a stand because the music’s so bad” as Jonny Law suggests in the spectacularly catchy “Ok K-GO,” or if you just don’t like my people and want to send some Jews back to Europe.
Helping with Warner Drive’s Kickstarter campaign is a step towards putting an end to mediocrity.