My name is Shane Maziekien, I’m the drummer for the band With The Punches, and picking three records that changed my life is a nearly impossible task because I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am without the other bands that shaped the music I love and the way I play. So I decided to make this about my band and the three records that connected us in the beginning. With The Punches started with two sets of friends, our singer Jesse and his best friend Dustin who plays guitar, and me and my best friend Joe who was our guitarist for our first two EP’s and still occasionally steps on stage with us when the stars align. The songs that came out are as much a product of Jesse’s love of American Nightmare and Bane, Dustin’s of Bad Religion and Carry On (our namesake), mine of The Bouncing Souls and Rx Bandits , and Joe’s of H2O and Sick Of It All as they are anything, but something in the following three records gave us a focused direction.
The Movielife – Forty Hour Train Back To Penn
I still have hard time hearing the song “Jamestown” and if you’ve ever been in a van and gone off the road in a snow storm, had a close call with a pack of wild elk on the road in the middle of nowhere, or felt your vehicle’s engine seize on the road hundreds of miles from home with no backup plan, I’m sure you can relate. Vinnie Caruana’s voice is so expressive, and on this record it balances the sweetness and his ability to write a great pop hook against the raspiness and the fact that he is still a guy who came up in the Long Island Hardcore scene. Forty Hour Train Back To Penn has so much subtlety and brilliant melodic parts in the guitars, the solo (and really all the leads) in “Hey” is still a favorite. I go back to this record pretty often when we’re writing, because there is so much diversity. From fast punk beats and breakdowns, to wide open choruses with lyrics that feel visceral and cathartic.
New Found Glory – Catalyst
For me, this is the ultimate New Found Glory record. With Catalyst, the band found a balance between their pop and hardcore influences and did so in a way that didn’t feel gimmicky in any way (I wouldn’t find out right away that Toby from H2O and Freddy from Madball both did guest spots on songs). The first time I heard Intro, I was hooked, the lyrics, the gang vocals, I couldn’t have asked for more, and it feeds straight into the first single “All Downhill From Here”. This record still sounds so big to me, and Cyrus Bolooki’s drum parts brought so much to these songs and how they transition from section to section, I feel like he never really gets the spotlight like he should. This is one of those records I’ve poured over thousands of times, and I’m still noticing new stuff each time I hear it. When we were making our first EP I remember us sitting down with our friend Shamus who we were recording with and playing “At Least I’m Known For Something” and saying “This is what we want the double kick parts to sound like”. The record is so heavy and tight, and then you have a song like “I Don’t Wanna Know” which is a top 10 NFG song for me, the strings and the harmonies fit so well together, in a way I wouldn’t have thought could work if someone would have tried to describe it to me, but I think it was that balance that made it so important for me.
Lifetime – Jersey’s Best Dancers
“Operate on little to no sleep, caffeine and Jersey’s Best Dancers, this is the soundtrack that saved my life”. We spent a lot of time talking about Lifetime when we were starting With The Punches, and the first time Jesse sang that line in rehearsal the song sort of crashed and fell apart because everyone lost their damn minds. Jersey’s Best Dancers is the most polished version of Lifetime and came out just before they broke up, luckily I was too young in 1997 to know them or be effected by their demise, but I grew up in New Jersey playing punk and metal, so a record called Jersey’s Best Dancers was inevitably going to find its way to me (or maybe me to it). This record and really this band was such a different listening experience for me, because I came to it through Saves The Day after I heard someone say “Lifetime was better” in reference to them, so I grabbed this record and Hello Bastards. I loved every song, but my favorite parts are still the little talking bits before 25 Cent Giraffes (“Yeems, One, Two Three Four”) and How We Are (“I’m stuck to the floor!”), little stuff like that where you got to hear a band goofing off and joking is one of my favorite things on a record because it’s so humanizing, they cease to be professional musicians and are just friends in a room playing songs, which is what With The Punches has always been for me. Regardless of if we were on a stage or in the van or squatting in an empty house Jesse’s family owned, this band is just a group of friends who really fucking love each other and making music together. I guess I didn’t talk a lot about Lifetime in this paragraph. I don’t think I really know how, because they are a band you love or you don’t, the songs will make sense for you or they won’t. The music is fast, the lyrics are poetry, and if you aren’t familiar with it, spend an hour listening to it twice, and if you are familiar with it, also listen to it a couple times.
With The Punches is a punk band from Newburgh, NY, USA.