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VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton pop punks Anytime Soon visit Castle Bam before ‘Holding My Breath Through the Lehigh Tunnel’

VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton pop punks Anytime Soon visit Castle Bam before ‘Holding My Breath Through the Lehigh Tunnel’
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The music of Anytime Soon often captures the sound of growing up on early 2000s punk and emo tunes, Vans Warped Tour, MTV, CKY DVDs, “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,” “Jackass,” and “Viva La Bam,” so when it came time for the Scranton band to search for shooting locations for their next music video, what better place than Castle Bam, the illustrious second home of iconic skateboarder, prankster, daredevil, and TV personality Bam Margera?

“One of the hardest parts of creating a music video is coming up with an original idea and a cool place to film. We had seen Jess Margera, drummer of CKY, had begun recording bands at Castle Bam in West Chester. Although we didn’t require any recording at the time, we thought that might be a cool place to shoot. The location was plastered over MTV in the mid-to-late 2000s between ‘Jackass,’ ‘Viva La Bam,’ ‘Bam’s Unholy Union,’ and ‘Nitro Circus.’ We figured it might be a fun recognizable venue to shoot a music video at, so we talked to Jess and he liked the idea and it all fell together,” vocalist/guitarist Mitch Evans told NEPA Scene.

“Bam was not present or involved in the production, but we appreciate him for allowing the use of the property. Jess was there the whole time and gave us free reign of the property. Jess was cool. He reminisced about the good and bad times they had on the property. We talked about the difficulties in playing out and how he had been recording other bands in West Chester since no one was able to tour. We asked him about Scranton, and he said he remembers Tink’s. He has seen bands there such as the Misfits, and he also remembers playing there with CKY.”

Fellow Pennsylvanians will also recognize Dunnier’s Country Store in Clifford, M & J Tire in Lake Ariel, the East Side Hose Company No. 4 in Archbald, Burger’s Farm Market in Drums, and Eckley Miners’ Village in Weatherly in the new video for “Holding My Breath Through the Lehigh Tunnel,” which is premiering today exclusively on NEPA Scene.

“‘Holding My Breath Through the Lehigh Tunnel’ is about the drive between Philly and Scranton. Between moving friends and family in and out of colleges, visiting friends, going to concerts, then eventually playing shows there, the trip is very familiar to us, so naming it after a landmark on that drive seemed perfect and a good opportunity to add some local color. It’s always a relief to go through the tunnel because it meant you were on the home stretch,” Evans explained.

For this project, Anytime Soon once again teamed up with director Eric Iyoob, who shot their previous video for the song “Jelly Donut Season” on 35mm film, a process they used one more time for “Holding My Breath.”

“Eric Iyoob is pleasure to work with. He has a great work ethic and great vision. We would not hesitate to work with him again. We were very pleased with ‘Jelly Donut Season’ and were excited when he approached us again – we were more than willing to hear his thoughts,” Evans emphasized.

“Shooting on 35mm makes it a true art project and sets the work apart from everyone else. We may never get the opportunity to find someone willing to work with film – might as well take advantage of it. Being in a band has opened so many doors to express our music – might as well take advantage of these opportunities. Music video and film is just another media to differently express the music, like another perspective of it. You can look back in 30-40 years and say that was awesome that we did that. Because of the cost, though, we would be reluctant to use it again.”

Going back to their childhoods was much easier as the 28-year-old singer and crew were hit with a wave of nostalgia during filming.

“I think it’s safe to say we were all familiar with ‘Jackass’ and ‘Viva La Bam’ growing up. I feel like at one point they were household names to anyone between 20-35. Then playing ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’ and ‘Tony Hawk’s Underground’ introduced us to a bunch of music we wouldn’t have been exposed to anywhere else at a young age. You had to figure there was no social media back then, so as middle school kids, you learned about stuff like that through TV, radio, CDs, and video games,” he recalled.

“I wouldn’t say we were starstruck, but just very humble and appreciative to be invited to work on such a cool project. Like never in middle school or high school would we have thought we would be able to be a part of that universe. Just walking around the property felt like B-roll to an MTV show – I had CKY’s ‘Lost in a Contraption’ playing in my head.”

Even “Jelly Donut Season,” which premiered on NEPA Scene in November of 2020, had a bit of that skate culture/amateur stunt performer influence in there.

“Although we had put a small clip of the ‘CKY4’ movie at the intro of the ‘JDS’ video, it was kind of an Easter egg and we didn’t expect anyone to recognize or pay much attention to it. We did not expect to have the opportunity to film at Castle Bam at the time. I wouldn’t say that Bam and CKY were the sole influences for the video, but the much larger punk culture. Both the videos were meant to be light and funny. I think they’re parallel to other bands in our genre,” he said, nothing that this music also had an effect on his band’s sound as well.

“Between watching ‘Viva La Bam’ and playing ‘Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater,’ they introduced me to many bands. There are episodes of ‘Viva La Bam’ that have appearances by Slayer, GWAR, HIM, the Bloodhound Gang, and Cradle of Filth. Then CKY tracks were used on the CKY video series, ‘Jackass,’ and ‘Viva La Bam.’ CKY’s ’96 Quite Bitter Beings’ is iconic. Then the ‘Tony Hawk’ series exposed me to bands such as Goldfinger, Bad Religion, Millencolin, Lagwagon, Papa Roach, Alien Ant Farm, AFI, and NOFX.”

As a longtime fan, one thing he didn’t count on was having to change and edit certain shots in the “Holding My Breath” video to please HIM’s management, as the Finnish band’s famous heartagram logo hangs prominently in Castle Bam.

“I think it’s worth mentioning our struggles with the management of HIM over the usage of the heartagram trademark. We feel like it’s not necessary to pick on the small artists, as if we don’t have it tough already. At the same time, though, it’s kind of funny as an adult the thought of potentially getting sued by a band you used to watch on television growing up. Talk about problems you never thought you’d have,” Evans laughed.

“Eric Iyoob was in contact with filmmaker and cinematographer Joe Frantz during the whole shooting of the video. Frantz is known for his work on the CKY video series, ‘Viva La Bam,’ ‘Jackass,’ ‘Bam’s Unholy Union,’ and music videos for HIM, CKY, and Clutch. Although he wasn’t on set, it was cool for him to have been part of the process.”

The struggle of independent artists includes the limited number of shows they can play these days, especially locally.

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to play as much as we used over the past two years. It feels like most of the places we used to frequently play were not able to survive COVID. The terrain has changed – we’re creating more online content rather than playing as a cover band every week,” he admitted.

“No memorable shows lately. The closest thing is maybe an acoustic gig around St. Patrick’s Day 2021 at Thirst T’s in Olyphant. Many friends and fans came out. Even though it was a stripped-down acoustic show, it felt like old times. Unfortunately, Thirst T’s has closed since then.”

He feels this hasn’t made the group, which includes Jordan Lupini on drums and Christopher Benitez on bass, more pessimistic about the new year – just more practical.

“I think we are just realistic in 2022 and indifferent to the things that are out of our control. On a large scale, we have seen tours get canceled because of COVID. And on a smaller scale, we see the damage to the local economy. Most places we used to play are closed now; new places don’t exactly pop up. We were supposed to play a festival last summer that was canceled as well.”

Both “Holding My Breath” and “Jelly Donut Season” are featured on “Variables,” a five-song EP released last May that Anytime Soon haven’t been able to promote much live, but the track “Dead as a Doornail” did afford them the opportunity to work with TJ Bell of Motionless in White and Escape the Fate fame.

“Working with TJ was fantastic. I had met TJ from going to shows locally. I’m a Motionless in White fan, so I had seen them start out playing places like the Jessup Sports Dome. I am also a huge Escape the Fate fan. I had this song and didn’t feel comfortable with screaming vocals, so I thought about featuring someone. I saw TJ had toured with Motionless during the last cross-country Warped Tour and he supplied all backing vocals, and they were able to play old songs the way they had originally been played. I figured I’d shoot my shot and it ended up working out; he brought exactly what I needed to the song. He had some great ideas we implemented and used his screaming vocals and layered his clean vocals in the final chorus. It’s awesome to have collaborated with a musician that had been in two of my favorite bands. Plus, it introduced our music to a fan base where ATS might not have been on their radar. We worked so well together that we worked on some additional material for another project, but that’s another story. It’s also worth noting that TJ is a big CKY/Bam fan and has a heartagram tattoo.”

Looking back on the recording of the EP overall, he said it was frustrating to start and stop the process constantly due to the pandemic, but it was a big relief when it was all finally finished.

“I think it was received well. We took some risks, but I think it showcased some other sides of us people had not previously seen. For example, the intro to the album, ‘Electric City Shuffle,’ was an electronic beat that progressed into a full band breakdown. It was meant to throw people off, but in a fun way. It was inspired by Warped Tour-era bands such as Four Year Strong, Of Mice and Men, Attila, and 3OH!3. Then that song goes directly into ‘Jelly Donut Season.’ We did that again with ‘Holding My Breath Through the Lehigh Tunnel’ going into ‘Dead as a Doornail.’ We feel like not many bands create EPs and LPs as a whole anymore, just releasing music as singles, so it was cool to have an EP that flowed. ‘Dead as a Doornail’ was a fun one to release too because its heavier than anything we’ve previously released, but we felt it was still cohesive to the genre. It took inspiration from bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Deftones, Escape the Fate, and Motionless in White and added our own zest. It’s more on the heavier side of the spectrum of pop punk.”

Now, Anytime Soon is recording another album full of unreleased material and acoustic versions of their songs produced and engineered by Matt Jenkins of Scranton emo rockers The Maguas. Before letting Evans get back to it, there was only one thing left to ask – does he still hold his breath going through the Lehigh Tunnel?

“It depends how fast you are driving! If you get stuck behind someone driving slowly, you’ll never make it!” he exclaimed.

“Also, I want to give a special thanks to Eric Iyoob; Joe Frantz; Andrew Mason; Gepetto Daniels; Mike Howells; Kevin Wade; Justin Willis; Arielle Andreoli and the East Side Hose Company No. 4; Jess Margera; Bam Margera; Lenny Burger and family from Burger’s Farm; Pat Myers; James Cole and Dunnier’s Country Store; Bode Morin from Eckley Miners’ Village; Jack, Ian, and Haley from the Metropolis Post; Darla Rae; Mike Santulli from M & J Tire; Jeremy Saltry; Phillip Sheldon; Steve Crossman; Edward Karamshuk; John Tashiro; Steve and Jeffrey Gal from Du-All Camera; Steve Tito; John Rebarchak; Matt Jenks; and Bill and Patricia Iyoob.”