An Interview With Cristina Gargoyl

The success of a music scene doesn't only rely on musicians. From the early days of Asbury Park, this statement couldn't be truer.

That idea is evident in "Spirit in the Night," a track from Bruce Springsteen's first album, "Greetings from Asbury Park". In the song, the Boss pays tribute to many of those who, during Asbury's heyday, spread the word about and stayed loyal to the local scene.

While a tribute is only fitting to these people, Chorus and Verse wants to spread the word about TVC-15, an event put together by an area scene princess named Cristina Gargoyl.

Gargoyl hopes to pump life into the Asbury scene, which remains struggling in a questionable resurgence, by bringing three DJs into town playing music from a list of ingenious underground artists, including the Ramones, the Clash and the Stooges.

Spinning this music will be the Messenger, AT-RS3 and New York City's Charlie the Slut.

The event, which comes to Jimi's Nightclub (formerly the Hitching Rail), 106 Second Avenue, Asbury Park on May 25, will provide an alternative for those frustrated with the lack of expressive freedom due to domination of pop, mock punk and dance music on the radio and in area clubs.

Putting up flyers, event planning and choosing music has all been a part of the hard work Gargoyl has done, to bring this alternative into reality. Hopefully, others will see this and, in true scene spirit, not mimic but use it as fuel to keep creating new events.

'Cause that's what a scene is about: originality, creativity and, of course, music.

So, do us a favor and spread the word.

It starts at 10 p.m. and it's 21 and up.

How did TVC-15 originate? How did you come up with the idea?

Gargoyl: It all started because I wanted to throw a party in honor of a friend of mine who is moving away soon. My friends and I used to throw parties here and there, but I never had any control over the music or theme.

I didn't want this to [be] yet another one of those stale old techno parties. I wanted my friend to have a send-off he would remember.

This is where the idea came from, but it quickly snowballed.

After listening to my friends constantly complaining about there being "nothing to do," I realized what a void there is in the club scene down here. I've been to all the area clubs, from Paradise to The Saint, from Headliner to the Stone Pony to D'Jai's, and was never satisfied or happy with any of them.

Basically, the only choices you have down here are generic dance/house/techno, cover bands with Limp Bizkit-style hard rock played in between, or to see the rare decent band that passes through.

One night while listening to WRAT's Electric Ballroom, it seemed plainly obvious to me: Here is the longest-running show since the Rat came on-air, and it's on Sunday nights from 10-midnight, when most people are going to bed. There are obviously people out there who are like-minded and want to hear the music I want to play. Why not give it a shot and see what happens? Give them a place other than their car or their bedroom to listen to the music we essentially grew up on.

It was important, actually a requirement, that this happen in Asbury Park. I've been a part of the local scene in Asbury for a while now, and I know from the parties and openings I used to throw at the gallery I helped out in, as well as in the clubs around town, that there is a huge underground scene of some very hip people in Asbury just waiting for something like this to come along.

Asbury Park is on the rise, and I thought it important to put it back on the map musically with something different. Something that they alone will be unique and known for. I really think the edginess and underground feeling of the city perfectly suits a party like this. The people in the scene are just as edgy and very open to something different and out-of-the-ordinary.

How does it differ from other area events?

There are no other events like this in the area. There never has been.

We're not doing it for the money. We're not doing it to appease the generic masses, we're doing it to create a scene that didn't exist or maybe it does exist, but just has no outlet.

Who will be DJing and how did you find them? What types of music will be played?

The two local DJs are friends who have experience spinning at several other venues, but never quite like this. The Messenger (Shawn Butler) used to run the Eleven-Eleven parties and has DJed at several local events. AT-RS3 (Rich Siday) is another avid turntable-ist who has DJed several local events, including a few art show openings. He is also an established local artist.

They are both my age. We all grew up with the music we will be playing; they just never had an outlet to play it. When I told them my idea and asked them if they would spin, they were both really psyched about it, as generally people want them to spin different styles leaning more towards techno and ambient. Finally, they can play what they want to play and never could.

Charlie the Slut, I know from the NYC scene. He has DJed so many places I can't even name them all, from NYC to LA, and I think he's even been a guest at some places in London as well. I had asked him a while back if he'd be interested and at the time he was a bit skeptical, I think.

But, as time went on and I grew more and more passionate about it, I think my enthusiasm rubbed off on him because he said, "Yes," and is now as psyched as we are to do this. We are very lucky to have him involved. If you read his website's Mission Statement (, you'll see that he has as much scorn for the generic as I do! His irreverence and purist taste in good old-fashioned edgy punk and rock is exactly what we're going for, and we are lucky to have him.

What will you hear? Anything and everything. The Misfits, The Heartbreakers, Iggy and the Stooges, the Cramps, Devo, Bauhaus, the Dead Kennedys, The Pixies, the Clash, the Damned, the Sex Pistols, the Dead Boys, Blondie, New York Dolls, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and much, much more. A few industrial surprises here and there, a few things thrown in to mess with your head.

How important is it to play music that is not like the usual mainstream music we are used to hearing?

It is the heart of this event. I want to give people a place they can groove to something different, something they are not used to hearing outside of their own houses. You can go anywhere and hear house music or hard rock, but nowhere plays the old punk/glam/new wave classics we grew up on. Bands like the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Sex Pistols, etc., greatly influenced what we hear today, yet no one really ever knows it, as there is no outlet in our area for these bands to get the appreciation they have always deserved. It's time for people to realize where the roots of what we hear today came from.

What is your background with the local music scene?

I grew up down here and have been on the scene since I was old enough to go out. I was a regular in the old NJ hardcore scene way back in high school (in the mid-1980s) seeing bands such as Ripping Corpse and Underdog at Sandy's Arcade on the Asbury Park boardwalk.

During college, in New York City, I still came down to go to shows at the Fastlane and the Stone Pony, my time split between NYC clubs and spots in the local area. A few years back, me and some friends started throwing parties in Asbury, the biggest being Eleven-Eleven, an event that showcased local artists along with local DJ talent, giving both an opportunity to showcase their talents. Eleven-Eleven went on for years, even having one in London once. By this time, I was no longer involved.

Recently, I was involved in organizing parties and art openings at the now-closed Divine Madness Gallery; most of them being open-mic style jam sessions featuring local talent. To sum it all up, I've been around the local scene for years and years, everyone knows me but never for putting on my own event, much less anything remotely like this one.

What are your goals for TVC-15? Would you plan on future shows if it's successful?

It's funny, the whole thing, like I mentioned earlier, started out as just a party for my friends, yet the interest and enthusiasm people have shown have snowballed into quite possibly something altogether different. I never expected people to be so psyched for this! I have had offers from three different bands already to play for free, and I wasn't even planning on hosting bands. Looks like I may have to branch out!

My goals for TVC-15 are simple: give everyone a good time and re-expose them to the music that we grew up on and has gotten lost in today's commercial drive for the almighty dollar. Don't pander to the masses, but introduce them to music that is essentially the root of what we hear today on the radio. Do something completely new and different for Asbury Park's music scene and its reputation, give it something else to be proud of other than "The House that Bruce Built."

I never thought there would be this much response and interest in TVC-15, but the enthusiasm I've heard gives me confidence that this could possibly be something really special.

If I can pull this off, I would like to have the parties once a month. I work a day job at a NYC-based advertising agency, so at this point I wouldn't have the time to do it more often than that. If it gets big and word-of-mouth keeps it popular, then maybe in the future I would do it every other week. I ideally would like Shawn and Rich to be the resident DJs and have one special guest DJ each week. I already have a few lined up who are dying to do it, but I'll keep who they are a secret for now.

How have you promoted it?

I made up several hundred flyers, very DIY, and have been handing them out at local clubs and concerts, talking it up with every person I gave them to. I believe in this so passionately, I think that shone through to each and every person I talked to. I also gave a few stacks to the other DJs, who have been dropping them in local record and alternative clothing stores. I also hear that Electric Ballroom will be plugging it on the air for the next two Sunday shows. They should; after all, it's their audience that demands what we'll be laying.

Then I hit the Internet. I've got a link on my website for it and Charles put one on his announcement page, a page that gets a lot of traffic due to his popularity and heavy event schedule. I have posted the flyer on a few message boards as well as some e-lists that deal with local and scene-related happenings. I emailed a few local websites to be listed on their events calendars, and when a friend saw my flyer, he himself was so excited about it he went on his own and contacted a few as well, including Chorus and Verse.

I've been really psyched about the support Chorus and Verse has given TVC-15. It really makes me feel good knowing that other people believe in this as strongly as I do, especially a publication as prestigious as C&V. And that it is all going to be worthwhile when all is said and done.

A few people have asked me what TVC-15 means. It's the title of a David Bowie song. He wrote it about his television and how he can't live without it. We'll see.

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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 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.