Hero Pattern

Live, Electric And In Stero

When the Northern New Jersey-based quartet Hero Pattern recorded the video for their single "Monster," from their debut CD "Cut You Out," the shoot started at six in the morning. While such an early-morning hour is usually the end of a rock and roll day, the band sought to capture a New York City sunrise as the backdrop of their live performance footage. So, while the neighbors might have not enjoyed the unexpected wake-up call ringing through the morning air, the band's fans had a great experience. Then, the cops showed up. More on that later.

Founded in their hometown of Sparta, NJ, by singer/guitarist Jason Kundrath and bassist Rob Fitzgerald, and later joined by Jay's brother's Mike on drums and Pete Marceau on lead guitar, Hero Pattern have become regulars on their northwestern New Jersey music scene, breaking out to plays gigs and showcases in Boston and other areas of the Northeast. Becoming recognized as one of the top acts on the circuit, they combine a pop sensibility mixed with an in-your-face teen-angst-charged fire that makes you step back to avoid the heat while leaning in to avoid missing a single note.

After their initial release (a split EP with scene colleague Val Emmich), the band followed-up appearances at the Midwest Music Summit, NEMO Music Conference and 2003 CMJ Music Marathon with "Cut You Out," ten tracks sans filler, on Boston-based label Lonesome Records. The album was officially released at Hoboken's Maxwell's in September 2003, and continued to raise the band's profile and generate interest in several of the album's radio-ready tracks, including "Monster," "Cut You Out" and "Invincible".

Now having written the material that will comprise their eagerly-anticipated sophomore effort, the band is planning a final round of shows before making like "hermit-types" to put the finishing touches on the new songs and head back into the studio. But, before they do, the band's primary songwriter, Jason Kundrath, spent time answering these questions for Chorus and Verse about the video shoot for "Monster" and their first few years developing as a band. With all of the potential and polish they have displayed right out of the gate, it'll be fascinating to see where they can take it from here.

Big news with the band is the production of a music video for your song "Monster". How did everything go for the video shoot on March 7th, and what was the experience of putting together the video and getting the fans to come along and be a part of the day like for you?

Shooting the video for "Monster" was an unforgettable experience. We had just played to a sold-out crowd at Maxwell's the night before with Skyline Rodeo, Dibs and CleverHans, but all post-show partying was strictly forbidden. The shoot was set to begin the next morning at 5:00 a.m.

Our friend, Tracy Pamperin, had offered us the use of her Weehawken home for the video. So I crashed there after the show and tried to get as much sleep as possible. I had no idea what to expect. I woke up at 4:15 and braced myself for the unknown. Precisely at 5:00, Tracy's house started to fill up with crew and equipment.

Soon, we were setting up our drums, amps and guitars behind her house for a live sequence. Around 6 a.m., some of our closest friends and fans showed up, dressed for a rock show. They were to be our loyal, early-morning audience. Cameras began to roll, and we were playing "Monster" with an actual New York City sunrise as our backdrop. It was surreal.

We ran through the song a handful of times. The cops eventually showed up, but they were very cool about the whole thing. We explained that we only needed a few more takes, and they said they'd hold the complainers at bay. They even wanted to know when they could catch our next show.

Despite the less-than-ideal temperature for an outdoor performance, everyone had a great time, and we got some great footage. After we wrapped the live shots, we went on to shoot the narrative sequences. I won't give away the plot, but these scenes revolve around three different couples who are each experiencing a terrible strain in their relationships. As you might expect, high drama ensues.

The whole process was exhilarating. And it was all over in one 13-hour day. We look forward to seeing the final edit.

You've announced that the video is being produced by an up-and-coming director whose work has been on MTV, MTV2 and other outlets. Who is going to be directing the video for "Monster," and what are some of his previous works? How did the opportunity come about for you to work with him?

The director's name is Matthew Schuman and we were introduced to him through his work with fellow NJ artist Val Emmich on his videos for "Shock" and, most recently, "Privacy Attracts a Crowd," which aired on MTV's Advance Warning and MTV2's Subterranean.

We had been e-mailing back and forth with Matt over the prospect of shooting a video for "Cut You Out." But after Matt Pinfield spun "Monster" on 92.3 KROCK's "The Buzz" we decided to draw up a treatment for a video for "Monster" instead, and we put the call out to our family, friends and fans for support. We ended up raising the exact amount of money we needed.

What are the prospects for getting airplay for "Monster" on MTV networks or elsewhere? Are there any plans to make the video available to fans on the website, via DVD or as an extra on a future CD?

MTV airplay is a longshot, but we're certainly going to explore every avenue. Regardless, we're thinking about working with a music video promotion company to get it seen by as many people as possible. It very well could end up on the website in the near future. Anything's possible.

Your first release, "The Reception," was a split EP with fellow Jersey-artist, Val Emmich, who's now preparing for his first release with Epic Records. Does his success make you more optimistic that additional success will come your way, and do you feel that the New Brunswick/Northern New Jersey scene is getting greater attention now from major labels?

Val Emmich is a major talent, and I couldn't be happier about his signing with Epic. Getting to watch Val's career grow from his days with Ben Trovato and Awake Asleep to the early stages of his solo career has shown me that hard work and dedication really can pay off. That knowledge drives me harder towards my goals. With any luck, Val will make a mark on the record industry and bring further attention to the Garden State.

As of now, however, I haven't been bumping into too many A&R types around here.

Speaking of your local scene, you've been a part of the Artist Amplification compilation CDs, and played at a lot of shows promoted by Artist Amp. How did you first meet Andy Gesner, and did your involvement with Artist Amp help with the promotion and development of the band?

Andy Gesner and Artist Amplification has been absolutely critical in my development as a musician and performer. When I started at Rutgers College in 1998, one of my floormates, Jacklyn Bertsch, began interning for Andy, who was then working along with Mike Doktorski as part of the New Brunswick Underground. Andy and Mike were booking shows at the Budapest Cocktail Lounge, the club where I first saw acts like Evelyn Forever, the Milwaukees and Ben Trovato play.

Bassist Rob Fitzgerald and I, who were playing in a different band at the time, got our first shot at club crowds at the Budapest because Andy gave us a chance. Though I can still hardly believe it, Andy essentially booked every show we played in those years. He stuck with us through the demise of our then-band and the formation of Hero Pattern. I can honestly say I don't know who I'd be today if I hadn't crossed paths with Mr. Gesner. Artist Amplification continues to be a great resource for New Jersey-area bands.

What's the state of your local scene these days, and what venues have you found the most fun to play at? Have you sensed any changes since you first started playing together a few years ago, and do see a trend of more or fewer fans coming out to the shows and supporting live music?

The New Jersey scene is pretty admirable, if only for the fact that tons of bands continue to slug it out when there clearly aren't enough decent venues to sustain us all. But, there are a handful of amazing bands on the circuit: Spiraling, the Milwaukees, dibs and Evelyn Hope, just to name a few. But, it's tough to keep your head above water around here.

As far as Hero Pattern is concerned, we've been playing the vast majority of our shows on the road, and playing our home state only once every couple of months. When we do, however, we like to play Maxwell's in Hoboken. Their stage has been very kind to us. It's really the premier venue for live music in the state. And, thankfully, we've seen an increase in the number of fans coming to our shows.

Your debut full-length CD, "Cut You Out," was self-produced at Mad Moose Recording in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Did you enjoy the recording process, and spending time in the studio? Would you like to continue to self-produce and stay intimately involved with the recording process, even if you were to become more successful and work with a label in the future?

We all had an excellent time recording "Cut You Out". Entering the studio, our guitarist Pete Marceau had a notion of the particular sonic palette he wanted to achieve with the record, and chief engineer Jay Kahrs really gave us free reign to get the sounds we were looking for. It was a priceless learning experience.

On the next record, we plan on working more closely with a producer, as we're curious to see what we could accomplish with a fifth set of ears and ideas. But we'll always remain involved with the sound of our recordings.

You might be one of the only bands that came together as a unit through the use of Hallmark cards. Want to recount the story for our readers of how Pete and Michael were asked to become permanent members of Hero Pattern, and do remember what the cards said that you bought?

Sadly, I cannot recall the exact wording of those cards. But, suffice it to say that we were all fairly smitten with one another - in a strictly plutonic, musical sense - in the early days of the band. The Hallmarks were very appropriate. And pretty funny, too.

What is the songwriting process like for the band? Who typically comes up with song ideas, and how are they developed by the band as a whole? Does everyone tend to come up with ideas and their musical parts on their own, and bring them together later on, or do songs get developed when the band is together jamming?

Typically, I'll come to the band with an idea for a verse and chorus progression. We'll ride on it for awhile, and each come up our own parts. Eventually, it starts to take shape, and I'll let whatever mood develops inspire a vocal melody. Maybe I'll even get a lyric or two out of the energy. It's a very frenetic and exciting process. Somebody writes a bridge. We run a preliminary structure a few (hundred) times.

I'll take it home and complete the lyrics. Road test to taste.

Now that the video is over, what's next on the agenda for Hero Pattern? Are there any plans to record a follow-up to "Cut You Out," hit the road for an extended tour somewhere, or pursue any other projects that fans should watch out for?

All the songs for our second LP are done, but we don't have any definitive studio plans as of yet. We are, however, playing April 30th at Maxwell's. It's a big, wonderful show with our friends the Milwaukees, Spiraling and Planet Janet. Hope to see you all there.

[Website: www.heropattern.com ]

Matt Mrowicki

Matt Mrowicki founded Chorus and Verse in 2001. He is a rock star designer and technologist, Internet professional, content creator, and entrepreneur specializing in web development, IT consulting, branding, social media and online marketing. www.imprtech.com