The Enemy Of The Three-Minute Jingle

Are you tired of the unintelligible barking vocals backed by a detuned, cacophony of uninspired music, devoid of guitar solos? Sick of the synchronized headbanging of the Nu Metal acts or the copycat syndrome that plagues today's so-called "hardcore" scene? Disillusioned by the 90s-era bands that were going to save rock and roll - only to become some babbling broken record of their former selves? Well, L.A.T.C.H. has certainly had all they can stomach of all of the above.

Although they are not as cynical as I am, L.A.T.C.H. is doing what they can to avoid the trappings and trends of today's music.

"It gets tiring, seeing a bill of bands and everyone sounds the same. Everything is detuned or distorted," said Patrick Angeloni, the band's guitarist. "At this point in our career, we can actually say we have an original sound and we worked for years to get to it."

The results of L.A.T.C.H.'s diligent quest for originality can be heard loud (and clear) on their latest EP, "Horizons". The three-song disc was recorded at Upstart Studios in Hoboken and produced by Chris Gibson, who has recorded numerous New Jersey bands such as Stem and Ropetree.

"If there is any scene in Hoboken, Chris is at the center of it," bassist Rob Choe said.

Not only did Gibson handle the recording, mixing, and mastering of "Horizons," he offered his 20-plus- years experience in the music industry to L.A.T.C.H. by suggesting they rework the song "Beyond Me."

"Chris heard it more as a catchy pop tune," Choe said. "We played it more progressive and intricate, before he suggested changing it."

"Chris called it R.E.M. with some serious balls after he heard the revamped version," vocalist/lyricist Kevin Janosz chimed in.

The making of the "Horizons" EP did not come to life problem-free. The most challenging part about recording this EP was a very personal one. Two members of L.A.T.C.H. lost family members around the time the band was scheduled to begin recording.

"We really pulled it together and were able to focus and put that emotional stress down on tape," Angeloni said. "It's a great feeling to look back and listen to this EP and not only recognize great songs, but recognize what was going on and how strong one would have to be to accomplish amazing results. The record was called "Horizons" for this reason."

"Election Year" and "A Given" are the other two tracks on the EP. Bassist Rob Choe wrote the music for "Beyond Me" and "Election Year," and guitarist Angeloni wrote the music for "A Given."

Choe and Angeloni have diverse songwriting techniques, but the blending of their two styles makes for some interesting results. Choe usually writes on the bass with the guitar parts and chord progression in mind.

"Patrick is into the minor chords, while I'm into the bright chords, such as U2 bass lines," Choe said.

Minor chords are nothing new, but Angeloni's guitar sound is definitely an eye-opener. It is a guitar sound, which is unusually clean; both on record an onstage.

I went to L.A.T.C.H.'s show at the Whiskey Bar in Hoboken, NJ in early January and I was surprised to hear such a clean guitar sound. The band has an extremely uncluttered live sound, allowing for Janosz' vocals to soar over the music. Jay Fritzsch's drums cuts through it all instead of being lost in the mix because of a distorted guitar or overpowering bass. Their prowess in the studio certainly carries over to the stage.

"I run a clean channel at all times so there's clarity with my overdrive," Angeloni added. "This way, you can hear all the tones and the clean channel is nice and full. I don't want to stray from the sounds that I've gotten on our recordings. A lot of bands seem to just layer guitar tracks and when you see them live, something's missing. I'm not going to make that mistake."

Talking to the band after the set, I found out just how far removed they were from today's music industry trends. This band is thinking way beyond the horizon of their new EP.

"We're a record band and I notice that a lot of bands these days have great songs and maybe two or three hits, but the record doesn't flow and their set doesn't flow," Angeloni said. "We're going against the grain and really focusing on playing a great-flowing set from top to bottom, each song backing up the previous one, and giving people a constant sound that is L.A.T.C.H."

Maybe Angeloni is as cynical about the music business as I am, perhaps even more so.

"It seems like everyone is interested in making a hit or making one song that will get them signed or what I like to call a three-minute jingle," Angeloni said. "I think we aren't about that at all."

L.A.T.C.H. realize what an uphill struggle it is for a band to get signed, but they are up for the challenge. Angeloni has been banging on doors now for five years. He was elected to represent the band because of his tenacity for getting their music into the hands of those that actually listen to the songs and not use the disc as a coffee coaster or table stabilizer.

The band is excited about "Horizons" and this may be the year people answer the door.

"All of us believe in our music," Janosz said. "If we didn't believe in it, what's the point of shopping it around?"

Maybe cynicism and the ability to look beyond your first record are the keys to getting ahead in the insanity of the music business. Solid, original tunes help as well, and L.A.T.C.H. already has that department covered.

[ Website: www.latch.tv ]

Chris Bade

Chris Bade is a Contributing Writer for Chorus and Verse.