Tsunami Benefit

Echofission Talks About Their Upcoming Benefit

Whenever tragedy strikes, local bands always respond quickly to the call. Benefits for 9/11 still continue to occur throughout New Jersey, several years after the attacks. After a tsunami struck Southeast Asia on Dec. 26, there has been no shortage of bands looking to aid the cause.

Saddle Brook, New Jersey's Echofission is now kicking out the jams to raise money to help victims of the tragedy, which has claimed over 150,000 lives and destroyed numerous communities in locations like Thailand and Sri Lanka. The band enlisted the help of the musical artists Souls' Release and Brian Fitzpatrick and hopes its regular routine of playing music for large crowds will bring some support to the efforts of the American Red Cross to help rebuild the affected region.

The Crossroads, 76 North Avenue in Garwood, NJ, jumped on board to provide the venue and on March 12 bands and fans will be able to join the cause while hearing some of their favorite local music.

Formed in Sept. 2001, Echofission features lead guitarist John Rango, lead vocalist & guitarist Gebhardt Zurburg, drummer Jon Abate, keyboardist Ken Sidotti and bassist Lou Verile. Recently, the band has continued to play shows while working on a new release in the studio.

Souls' Release has spent its time as of late touring the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest regions of the United States. About one-year after its inception, the band released the four-song EP "GO" in November.

The band plans to spend the early part of the 2005 at a secluded studio in northern New Jersey recording its debut full-length with veteran producer Bob Perry. The release date is set for mid-year. Artists such as Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel and Blues Traveler have recorded at the studio where the album is being made, according to Souls' Release.

Fans looking to catch the band before the benefit, can do so starting in mid-February.

Fitzpatrick, who will perform solo/acoustic at the benefit, officially released his latest CD, "Further Down the Line," in September. The West Milford, NJ singer/songwriter and former member of hardcore bands Nastasee and One4One has appeared at clubs like the legendary Maxwell's in Hoboken. Those looking to get a of preview Fitzpatrick's music can catch him on his regular touring schedule throughout New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

Chorus and Verse recently talked to the show's presenters, Rango and Zerburg, about their hopes and plans for the show, along with what it took to put it together.

When and how did the idea originate? How did the line-up come about?

John Rango: A few weeks after we heard the bad news about the earthquake and tsunami.

Geb Zerburg: The idea originated with John and I wanting to play a gig that we could set up with the bands we wanted at a place we loved. We have always wanted to play a festival sort of show. We thought that it would be very appealing to fans of all bands. So, we thought that since it might be a great draw, why not donate proceeds to the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund.

We can never know, no matter how much we empathize with their situation, so why not do what we can in the way we want.

How does it feel to be able to use your talents to support such a worthy cause?

Zerburg: Using music to support social causes like this feels really good. The world of music is many things at once: enlightening, exciting, fulfilling, as well as dangerous and ego-driven.

Echofission wanted to focus on the positive aspects, since we operate that way anyway. Attaching a social obligation to our talents is rewarding for everyone involved.

Rango: We all hope in some small way this will help make a difference. The bands are donating $500 to The American Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund. Additional money will be added the day of the show through a raffle. The rest of the proceeds are funding this event. It will be a great demonstration of helping people through music.

What type of set do you guys plan on playing? Will it be different from your normal one?

Zerburg: Our set will be long and diverse. The only differences between this show and previous shows is that we will be playing longer and we will have some special guests. We are giving the fans our core songs, new songs, and a couple of cool covers. Our special guests? Well, come check it out!

How supportive are your fans during concerts like these?

Zerburg: Our fans have reacted positively to this call. We have people contacting us for tickets and looking forward to be a part of this event.

Rango: Our family, friends, and fans are excited for this event. This is an evening of great original music for a good cause.

Can you tell me a little bit about how much work and planning has gone into the show?

Zerburg: The work and planning involved in putting this event together was challenging and exciting. We had to find a venue that would allow us to take control of the event and could accommodate our fans. We also have great people working for us like Kevin and Shawn taking care of web pages and promotional designs and production. In addition, the bands that are involved needed to be good and excited about the cause. We found that with Souls' Release and Brian Fitzpatrick, both NJ gems.

However, selling the tickets is the big task. Ticketmaster is supporting us, so we are doing this all ourselves. I really give John Rango, my band mate, a lot of credit for making the big push for this.

Do these shows help bring bands and their fans further together?

Rango: Each show we play, the crowd seems to grow and grow. This is the first benefit we have done and certainly our biggest event we have planned.

Do you plan to play other charitable events in the future?

Rango: The bands are always willing to play for any positive event. These are three popular original NJ bands that are just here to play great music.

Advance tickets for Sounds for Tsunami Relief are $15. They can only be purchased through the echofission web site, www.echofission.com. More information can be found at www.xxroads.com. Doors for the 21 & over show will open at 6 p.m. The show begins at 7 p.m.

[ Website: www.echofission.com ]

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.