Halloween Eve in a city like Kansas City normally
means you're surrounded by ghouls, goblins, an assortment of Tom
Cruise look-a-likes and if it's this year - various Jersey
Shore characters. However for this Eve, the small wood-lined
venue (found slightly off the beaten path) has one surrounded by
kids closer to mid-twenties, sans costumes, but draped in anxiety
for a rock show. The rock show will feature a gentlemen who himself
has been working through a selection of "characters".
Fred Mascherino is most likely well know for his four-year
run with Taking Back Sunday, but that's really only the beginning
of his story; well, actually, the middle. If you track it back,
you can pinpoint Fred's start to the band Brody. After a
full-length was released, the band parted ways and things moved
to Breaking Pangaea. Another full-length and an EP later
and THEN the story moves to TBS. But it's now October 30th in 2010
and none of the previous bands are the reason why the 35 year old
is sitting next to me on a rather chilly venue step. Instead, he's
here because the tour to support his recent endeavor Terrible
Things has brought him here. Through the slight shivers, post-set
bandmate chatter and background sounds coming from M.A.E.
we chatted through the ins and outs of his music.
The conversation starts with an explanation - where exactly did
Terrible Things come from? Turns out it all stemmed from wanting
to take the post-TBS career to the next level. More specifically
what was next after The Color Fred. Mascherino explains,
"The Color Fred was an album that I did while I was in TBS
and I never intended it to be a full time thing. But when I left
the band unexpectedly it was what I had. So I did that for two years
and then I said to myself 'I wanna do something but I'm going to
take my time and do it right'."
And do it right he did, but in order to take these new sounds to
the appropriate level he needed a few new comrades. For the new
band members Fred sought after musicians he's always respected,
"At that time I ran into Andy (Jackson from Hot
Rod Circuit) and he was like 'man, I've always wanted to play
guitar with you' and I said 'well same here, would you like to hear
my new demos?' and I let him hear it and he was like 'I'm in, lets
do this'. It happened pretty quickly after that. Andy is a very
motivational guy, so as soon as I met him he was calling people,
calling bass players and drummers. Josh (Eppard from
Coheed And Cambria) was an old friend of mine and I knew
he would be perfect."
With the elements in place a new album was written. Self-titling
made perfect sense for their debut as the album speaks personally
to the fires that happened in Fred's hometown and the "fear
and frustration and anger that happens when you're living in a town
that's under siege." It may be a taking on very personal experiences
but for Fred it wasn't all about the fires. "I hate saying
that it's a concept album where there's like a specific story line,
but I like to say that the fires in my town that happened 2 years
ago were the backdrop to the songs. The inspiration was also about
the town, not really being able to run itself well enough to figure
it out after four fires". The songs also take a look behind-the-scenes
of these horrible times and the investigations going on: "They
started to figure out that there was an epidemic in December when
there were 12 fires. They arrested two 19 year olds in February
and they told us this was over, they confessed, it's done. Two nights
later there was another fire. Eventually they arrested a fire chief
and when they did that it finally stopped. So there was talk of
conspiracy, were these other guys linked to him. That's why I wrote
the song 'Conspiracy'." The anger that fueled the song "Conspiracy"
could've easily yielded a gut-wrenching, hate-the-world number.
Instead the result was the danciest tune on the entire album. "I
didn't want to write a depressing album, but more importantly the
fact that I meant so much to me actually brought us together."
The song is complete with extremely catchy lyrics and a melodic
theme; it was a good energy boost for the live show. Not that it
needed one that night.
Even with a new band and a new look on life, the approximately
150 people in the venue that night were most likely excited to hear
something from the ex-Taking Back Sunday guy. And that's to be expected,
in fact Fred embraces it, "It's something that's always in
me; I hope maybe it shows what I added when I was in that band.
And they can appreciate that." Part of it he also believes
comes from the fact that the music people listen to in their earlier
years influences their likes now. "I feel like everyone (in..the..world),
the stuff that they listened to from about senior year of high school,
to say three years later, is what they're gonna love for the rest
of their life. They're always going to like other stuff, but it
seems to make a big impression." And for most of their fans
this is a good explanation why each listen to Terrible Things will
boast a liking to TBS. "I realize that Taking Back Sunday and
Coheed And Cambria were things that a lot of people listened to
when they were that age. And so what we're trying to do is offer
them what's next for those people. But we also have this side goal
that we want to bring real rock back."
The goals that they've given themselves are mighty - the next steps
for fans of TBS and Coheed to doing rock in a different way. "I
mean almost every song on our record has a guitar solo and that's
almost unheard of throughout the last 10 years. Actually playing
your instrument as hard as you can. I feel like that's who I tried
to put together."
However, being a realist, Fred is already coming to grips that
these changes aren't going to be easy, "My writing will still
always sound like me. So I'll be like 'hey I wrote this song, it
sounds just like Tom Petty' and then I'll play it for people
and they be like 'it sounds like you' and I'm like 'ahh man, I was
going for Tom Petty'; but that's ok." Tom Petty or not, going
more rock is at least one thing that he and his bandmates agree
on, Josh especially, "I think our next record needs to be less
Taking Back Sunday and more Terrible Things. I believe in Fred and
I think Fred needs to crawl out of his own box with me and make
With the future of Terrible Things filled with videos, tours and
such, one can't forget The Color. "Well it's gonna be
what it's meant to be, which is a solo project. The thing is we're
going to be touring the whole next year. So that has to be on the
The sentiment of the night was cheerful, as it brought a huge smile
across my face to see Fred behind the rock guitar again. His talent
is incredible and he matched it perfectly with the fellow musicians
he invited on his new journey. Even the newbie Brian Weaver
(formerly of Silvertide) seemed chock full of energy and
eager to help Terrible Things gain new success. Even though their
name (and band theme song/title track) actually comes from taking
the past and pushing forward, "this band really became about
all of us proving ourselves and "we are doing terrible things"
was because people were so mad at us for quitting our old bands.
We came back with 'hey look there's life after this'." The
band had nothing but pleasant things to say and a hopeful outlook
So for the expert guitarist and all around awesome musician, Fred's
got a few things on his plate and a few personal goals. All of which
flow around the same common idea "do something the former bands
couldn't". Doing good guys, doing great!
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