Cyclone Static, a punk rock trio comprising James Salerno (guitar/vocals), John Mathias (bass), and Jonathan LeVine (drums), harnesses the raw energy of late 70s punk, mid 80s hardcore, and early 90s alternative rock. Their debut album "From Scratch," shaped by producer Stuart Richardson, blends crashing guitars with emotional depth. The EP "Cavepop: Songs for Primitive Ears" expands their signature sound with rhythmic prowess. Having shared stages with punk legends like The Deadboys and The Vibrators, Cyclone Static captures a nostalgic essence reminiscent of Jersey's past in their music, earning accolades from musicians like Thursday's Geoff Rickly and AFI's Davey Havok. We caught up with lead singer/ songwriter James Salerno to find out more about the band:
Q: In your opinion, what are the essential qualities that make a “good songwriter”?
I feel a good song writer should be able to convey a message/story or feeling without hitting you over the head by being so literal. Not sure how well. I’ve achieve that in my own writing but I just try to write songs I would like to listen to.
Q: What is the basis for writing attention-grabbing music in the year 2023?
I suppose an artist can try to be innovative and create a new genre, but we are more focused on good song writing and conveying our live energy. We aren’t so focused on reinventing the wheel.
Q: What has it been like working with an indie record label as opposed to working on your own?
Working with an indie label is great. We wouldn’t want to do it on our own as there is so much work involved. Our label gets us on all streaming platforms, helps with getting press, shows, promotion and involves us in a community of other musicians for support. It provides many services that we couldn’t do on our own.
Q: Can you pinpoint some specific songs and songwriters that changed the way you write music?
The Beatles have definitely influenced my song writing early on. I obviously never felt like I could write as well as them, but when I started listening to bands like Nirvana and STP I was like,…. oh, I might be able to do this and start a band. It showed me that songs (3 piece band) can be simple but still have a big impact and be meaningful.
Q: Do you find it hard to be inspired by artists that are younger than you, or are you motivated by their energy?
No, an artist age doesn’t bother me. For example my son Griffin has a band called Specter (he’s 15). They write songs and I often get inspired by some the things they’ve been working on.
Q: Can you name any new artists you find inspiring?
I am honestly not listening to anything new at the moment.
Q: For your new album, what inspired the lyrical content, album title, and overall vibe?
I’ve been focusing on lyrics that are positive (nostalgia, Love, hope). I guess that’s a result of going through a pandemic. I just want to feel normal.
Q: Do you find that you deliberate over writing songs and hold on to them for a long time before including them on a record? Or do you prefer to write them, release them, and be done with them? Do you ever re-visit old material to do a re- write or once it’s done it’s done?
It depends. Some songs come together quickly and need less work. Others could take years to finish. We have a few that we’ve been working for a while. Once we release a song we try not to mess with it.
Q: Were there any lessons you learned in the writing and recording process for your current release that you will take with you into your next project?
Not really. I feel we were happy with the process and the studio we worked with (cocoon studio in Jersey City). We planned it out well and it all seemed to come together in the end. I feel we went in with a relaxed attitude. We were just going to have fun with it.