New York City, you made my heart swell and fill my chest with unimaginable warmth. Thank you for always being like a second home town crowd to us. ANd don’t think I forgot that goes for all you dirty Jersey kids, Philly homies and all the surrounding sectors. It was amazing to have got to meet so many of you wonderful people and extra love and respect to all of you who basically followed us up the east coast. RX has the best fans in the world, and together we create an energy unparalleled to any of which I have felt thus far in my existence. This sounds like some hippy shit but so be it it comes from a place of honesty. There have been times at some of these shows where we have felt as though band and crowd were no longer separate but merely there living and moving as one. We love you all and will miss you so…
When Matthew Embree sings, “She lives without emotion/It makes me better, but only for the night,” on the song, “Only For The Night,” the RX Bandits lead singer couldn’t be speaking any more directly about the way he is. He couldn’t have been speaking more poignantly about the way his band of 16 years is.
Each and every bit of music that these men play is charged with emotion, an energy that comes out of love and concern. It’s the sort of red, smoking hot passion that, if touched would scorch. You’d smell burning flesh, something like a disgusting hog cooking over a bed of charcoal. There are flares aplenty in the ways that Embree and his mates operate. There are all kinds of reasons to be agitated, to feel as if we’re being wronged and hurt. The Seal Beach, California, band began playing almost two decades ago, but turned a dramatic corner in 2001, with the release of “Progress,” an album in which they announced themselves as a significant band, with heady ideas and a sound that wasn’t merely a dabbling in ska and reggae sounds - the kind of trifle that any high school or college-aged pothead with an iconic Bob Marley poster up on their wall as an overseeing mentor - but was serious work of art. It was a record that was rock solid in its focus, its musical ambition and in its emboldened spirit. It felt a little bit like a minor revolution, and maybe it was just a personal revolution - some kind of awakening - but either way, we suddenly started hearing this band for something more than it used to be.
Matthew Embree Tours his ME & LP on West Coast with Good Old War - November
Matthew Embree’s project with Lisa Papineau called ME & LP will be joining friends and label mates Good Old War on all their headlining West Coast shows in support of their debut EP called Chez Raymond. Make sure to get tickets in advance and always check with the venues for exact start times.
GOOD OLD WAR / ME&LP
16 Nov – San Diego, CA @ Anthology
17 Nov – San Luis Obispo, CA @ Downtown Brew
18 Nov – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
19 Nov – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
Steve Choi to Fill in on Guitar in Zechs Marquise for December Shows
Zechs Marquise are touring with Thursday, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, and Native as well as headlining some dates in November / December. Unfortunately their own Matt Wilkson will have to miss the December shows. So our own Steve Choi will be taking his place playing guitar on all the December dates below 12/1 - 12/10.
ZECHS MARQUISE LIVE
11/15 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s - Upstairs
11/16 New Orleans, LA @ Howlin’ Wolf Den
11/18 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
11/19 Greenville, NC @ Tipsy Teapot
11/20 Washington, DC @ DC9
11/21 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
11/22 Allston, MA @ O’Brien’s Pub
11/23 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza $
11/25 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House $
11/26 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar $
11/27 Milwaukee, WI @ The Pabst Theater $
11/28 Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop $
11/30 Atlanta, GA @ The Loft $
12/01 Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theater $
12/02 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge $
12/03 Pontiac, MI @ iLounge (at Clutch Cargos) $
12/04 Rochester, NY @ Montage Music Hall $
12/06 St Louis, MO @ The Firebird
12/07 Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
12/08 Dallas, TX @ Bryan Street Tavern
12/09 Austin, TX @ Antone’s Night Club
12/10 San Antonio, TX @ Studio 13
$ w/ Thursday, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, Native
Bold dates w/ Steve Choi on Guitar for Matt Wilkson
Jambase Review: San Francisco - August 7, 2011
Orange County genre transcending band RX Bandits delivered an ear assaulting, heart tugging and cardio heavy last ever performance in San Francisco. This show was truly special, and everyone in attendance knew it as they belted out lyrics memorized long ago and collided with one another in the pit. This band has grown from a third wave ska band into a group with eclectic progressive rock, punk and world music influences, and they’ve amassed a giant following of loyal fans over 15 years of excessive touring. The intense energy of their live show has a magnetic pull that keeps bringing people back to experience their music again and again, and this was the last chance to be a part of a RX Bandits show.
El Paso prog rock outfit Zechs Marquise opened up the night with a set of heavy jams. Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, keyboardist for the Mars Volta, plays drums in this band alongside his bass playing younger brother, Marfred. Experimental rock juice must run through this family’s blood, as they grinded out song after song of complex drum parts, distorted muddy bass lines, metric guitar riffs, and melodic keyboard accents. All of these sounds intertwined with each other seamlessly, even while conforming to ever-changing time signatures. Zechs Marquise was a good choice to open the show, and the audience seemed to be in a trance while they nodded their heads to the multi-faceted sounds that came from the stage.
This trance was shattered by the time RX Bandits were about to take the stage. Chants of “RXB” melted away into cheers as frontman Matt Embree and the rest of the band took the stage and swung right into an adrenaline boosting set of songs pulled from their last three albums in mostly chronological order. “VCG III” and “Consequential Apathy” were played off of their 2001 release Progress, and they continued with a sampling of tracks off of the subsequent 2003 album, The Resignation.
The energy on the dance floor had been very high all night, but it got kicked up another notch during crowd favorites “Dinna-dawg” and “Decrescendo”. Fans yelled out lyrics in unison with Embree, and the dance floor grew more physical with the addition of many colorful mosh pit residents, including big shirtless sweaty guys, a couple who somehow could continuously make out while violently swinging each other around, and more surprisingly, a group of people that would daringly ballroom dance with each other through this precarious area when the floor opened up. I’ve always noticed that crowds at RXB shows are full of really friendly and happy people, and they create a very welcoming form of chaos.
AP NET Remembers: RX Bandits
When Fugazi came onto the scene around the tail end of the ‘80’s, they redefined punk rock onto a pedestal many will never be able to sit above, it turned a lot of heads for kids seeking progressive music from what they thought it was or could be. It was a band that for many, and still many of my friends years later, that defined how talented and forward thinking genres can be, but how reaching outside the box and being honest as a musician will make you sit atop the rest for a long time. “Legacy” is a word that over 80% of bands today will never reach. Possibly 90%.
That’s a fact.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Fugazi had that much influence on me as a listener when I was young. It was a band I didn’t discover until college and even begin to understand, analyze and realize the true worth until the last few years of my life. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the band I’m about to look back on will ever reach that level of broad influence, because time is yet to show us that. But picking up Progress by the RX Bandits for me was like others discovering Repeater. With each release and live show, I watched the RX Bandits band just stride when getting better and better and give birth to some of the best music that will forever stick with me and be passed down. It goes without saying that missing the band’s Hoodwinked set of Fugazi covers at this year’s Bamboozle will be regrettable for years to come. A tiny itch in the back of my mind.
To all of our wonderful fans, family, and friends: Thank you so much for making this such a wonderful tour; We are so fortunate to have been sent off with such love and passion.
LA Times: RX Bandits take a bow at final L.A. show at the Glass House
The Glasshouse in Pomona has long felt like a home base for the progressive ska sounds of the RX Bandits. Crowded in a thicket of floppy-haired, bearded twenty-somethings, the swelling chants of “RXB! RXB! RXB!” on Saturday night were loud enough to drown out the thought that this would in fact be the second to last show of the band’s farewell tour, following 16 years, six studio albums and endless rounds of touring. This last L.A. County show came on the heels of a previous night at the Mayan Theater on Thursday.
Emerging from darkness and manning their respective battle stations with a hired horn section in toe, the sputtering drum line of “In Her Drawer” from their 2006 album “…And the Battle Begun” caused an irreversible seismic shift in the pit. Molten with excitement, testosterone and flailing dance moves, hordes of front row fans compressed into a cluster of whirling energy silhouetted by the glow of flashing stage lights. Off to the side, shards of brass from guest saxophonists added the kerosene, revitalizing the band’s sound after the departure of saxophonist Steve Borth and trombonist Chris Sheets in recent years.
SputnikMusic Reviews: Southern California Shows
I must have seen her face before
I fell in love when I was born
Now they hide her with a whisper
If I were to list out all the bands that I’ve ever seen live and list them in accordance to how many times I’ve dragged my ass down to some dive of a venue to see them, RX Bandits would proudly sit atop that list. Since my introduction to them back when they were just a politicized 3rd wave ska act through their growth into one of the most forward thinking acts in modern music I’ve had the honor to see them one shy of a dozen times – but it was the last two shows, two of their last three shows ever (and last in the vicinity of their southern California home) that proudly affirm how special they really are/were. Their sets at the Mayan Theater in the heart of downtown Los Angeles and two days later at the Glasshouse a half hour inland in Pomona made the previous 9 RX Bandits shows that I have attended seem reserved in comparison, which is no easy feat.
Part 1: August 4th, 2011 @ the Mayan Theater
Check out New Track from Matt’s ME&LP album on RCRD LBL
Matthew Embree and Lisa Papineau, two musicians with quite the pedigree between them (Rx Bandits and Big Sir, plus contributions to Air and M83, respectively), have joined forces in the shape of ME & LP. An unexpected pairing with backgrounds that could have landed them anywhere on the map, the surprising result is all the more satisfying. “Bonnie Says (No Shitty Ride)” has a dance groove at its core, maracas and some well-placed plucking creating a nice foil to Embree’s seasoned crooning. Papineau’s part does much the same, offering an airy, playful flair with parallels to Thao & Mirah’s latest at times. And just as with that dream team, ME & LP showcase the mark of a worthy match-up, pushing each other successfully into new terrain. The LP, Chez Raymond, is out August 9 on Sargent House.
Rock Edition Interview: with Chris Tsagakis
Over the course of 16 years and 6 studio albums, RX Bandits have crafted an instantly recognizable sound. Their blend of ska, punk, and progressive rock has won over an incredibly loyal fanbase, and their dynamic live show is one of the few places you can catch audiences moshing one second and dancing the next. The band’s last album, 2009’s ‘Mandala,’ saw them at the height of their instrumental prowess, showcasing Matt Embree and Steve Choi’s speedy, skittering guitar lines and drummer Chris Tsagakis’ fluid grooves.
Now, RX Bandits are nearing the end of their farewell tour and the beginning of an indefinite hiatus. Before one of the band’s shows in Boston, Chris was kind enough to speak with Rock Edition over the phone about the tour, the hiatus, and his future plans.
How’s it going?
Salt Lake City Weekly: Interview - Show Feature
RX Bandits Play July 25th at The Complex, Salt Lake City w/ Maps & Atlases and Zechs Marquise.
“Steve Choi gives interviews like he’s a politician. The RX Bandits’ guitarist/keyboardist doesn’t speak like a hypocritical scumbag of a politician, but rather a doggedly idealistic one—a guy with unwavering views and PR-friendly answers to any questions that come his way. Choi is so determined to convey a handful of certain ideas that, during a recent interview, it seemed like he was actively conducting a two-part campaign based around the image of his Long Beach, Calif.-based band.
The first part of his platform insists that RX Bandits have never made a conscious decision in altering their style. Instead, he insists, everything’s been a product of gradual evolution. “We always keep the mentality that it could go in any direction,” Choi says. “We didn’t have any views on the trajectory or where it was headed or how fast it would be heading there. It was kind of like, ‘Let it happen and keep doing it as long as it feels good and right.’ ”
Later, he makes another statement that runs along the same lines: “I feel like we were where we were supposed to be at each stage in our progression.” Try to ask him a question about how the band might hypothetically sound in the future, and he won’t rattle off anything from his imagination, instead vigilantly sticking to his POV that everything is up in the air until the whole group converges in the same room.