downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 • Issue 22 | October 13 - 19, 2006

Music

Save for Johnny McClay, left, Program the Dead’s original bassist who has since been replaced by Tom Kafafian, the band’s lineup remains the same: lead singer Matt Koruba (center), drummer Dave Murga (in back), and guitarist Nico Constantine.

Program the Dead breathes some life into rock n’ roll

By Lori Haught

Their music is gritty and it gets your blood pumping, like you can take on the world. And when you hear Program the Dead live, you feel as though you’ve actually seen a rock show — a rare event now.

“We’re trying to bring back meat and potatoes rock and roll,” said Nico Constantine, the band’s guitarist.

He said that the band occasionally feels alone in that task. The genre has become so divided by sub genres like punk rock, goth rock, and more that there is barely a true rock and roll scene left.

Lead singer Matt Koruba dances in a way he described to one concertgoer at their Oct. 5 Knitting Factory show as the chicken dance, which is obvious once the fact is pointed out. Drummer Dave Murga hammers out the infectious beat while guitarist Constantine and bassist Tom Kafafian round out the songs with classic guitar riffs and a cool bass line.

One wonders why they aren’t signed and touring on lavish busses with crowds of millions waiting in grand stadiums for their performances.

In fact, they were signed, and it didn’t work out. The band was recently released from their contract with Atlantic, following a tour last spring with the 69 Eyes, from Helsinki, Finland — a big name in the European rock scene.

Constantine said the band was a casualty of a major label.

“I really believe they had every intention of promoting us, but we got lost in the shuffle,” he said.

The tour with the 69 Eyes, however, opened up the band members’ eyes to just how arduous a task it can be to make it in the music industry.

“They were an inspiration,” Constantine said of the 69 Eyes. “They have a legacy that’s going to last beyond 10 years and they were just now able to break into the America. It shows that [breaking into the music industry] is a slow build.”

PTD, as Program the Dead is referred to by many of their fans, is taking what savings they have to record a new album here in New York. They are playing all over the city while sleeping in their rehearsal space in Brooklyn.

“We don’t have much to do but play a lot,” Constantine said of their limited funds and accommodations, “I think it’s furthering the cause.”

His sentiment is a perfect example of how PTD turns their tribulations into opportunities. Despite the loss of their record deal and their old bass player, Johnny McClay, due to “family problems” the band keeps pushing onward.

Their new bassist, Kafafian, hails from New Jersey and has been keeping the band comfortable with pillows and blankets. Although he is close to home, for the sake of unity, he too has been staying in the rehearsal space.

“He’s working out great,” Constantine said of Kafafian. “He’s a dream for us. He is very in love with music and it’s contagious.”

The band has worked with him in the past; Koruba and Constantine co-wrote some songs with Kafafian during a roundtable session a few years ago.

“He’s going to be with us now for the long haul,” Constantine said.

If you want to check out a show like you haven’t seen since the heyday of rock and roll, come check out PTD at Arlene’s Grocery at 95 Stanton St. on Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m., or at Snitch, 59 W 21st St., on Oct. 26 at 10:30 p.m.



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