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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 something special."

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 back burner."

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 on life.

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!

-Rachel Fredrickson


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