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The Groundbreaking Ceremony – Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do
Being an independent artist is one of the toughest jobs in the world. To have the strength to follow your dreams day after day and put it all on the line takes courage. It’s hard for them to make a living and follow their dreams. What’s even harder is standing out in a sea of talented musicians. Of course, every once in awhile a band will come along with so much drive and determination they just can’t be ignored. Labeled the “Hardest Working Band” on the 2011 Warped Tour by the band Less Than Jake, The Groundbreaking Ceremony (GBC) strives everyday to chase their dreams of making music and touching lives.
Shortly before the Warped Tour set out for the summer the band released their sophomore EP, Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do. With top-notch producers such as Paul Leavitt (previous credits include work with All Time Low) and John Naclerio (My Chemical Romance, Brand New), the new album is a testament to how far GBC has come. Each track demonstrates their unique sound of pop/punk with harder guitar sections. Overall, from beginning to end the album feels like a cohesive unit and GBC is cementing their place as legitimate musicians.
While each track feels more polished and professional from the previous EP, the overall feeling is very dynamic. The album starts with the upbeat song “Eleventh and Bleeker.” With a fun summer vibe, the song mixes catchy melody with edgy guitar riffs. The song is an anthem to anyone who has believed in his or her dreams above perceived normal expectations. It appeals to teenagers everywhere as it sends the albums title message, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” The lyrics are honest, heartfelt, and inspired.
“And I’ll give it all I have
Cause this is the life for me
I know the odds are overwhelming
I don’t care if you disagree
I know nothing comes for free.”
“Don’t Be a Dream,” the album’s second track leans towards the pop side of pop/punk. It’s upbeat and fast paced with a great flow from the intro. It has numerous tempo changes and will be stuck in your head after just one listen. It tells the story of young love and is completely relatable.
For those looking for something with a little harder edge, “19:35” has a faster pace and a more solid rock vibe. “Psalm 51”, a song Baker wrote for a friend who passed away, demonstrates the ups and downs of grief as its pace changes from slow to fast and back again. Baker also wrote some extremely poetic lyrics for the track “The Burden of Goodbye.” It conveys pain and suffering with great chants through the bridge that portrays the eerie, empty feeling of saying goodbye.
The final track on the album, “Sometimes It’s Not Enough” is a stripped down acoustic song that beautifully brings the listener down for the high-energy ride they’ve been on throughout the album. It speaks to the end of an era as a catchy anthem and rock ballad. It was written as a testament to the band Honor Bright, a group that GBC attributes to helping them in their early stages.
The Groundbreaking Ceremony has worked hard to be where they are today by networking with other musicians and grabbing opportunities as they come their way. They aren’t above being hired as part of the Van’s Warped Tour crew just for a chance to play when an opening arises. As they follow the tour this summer they will undoubtedly make new fans by connecting with people on a personal level. They know how to get out in the trenches and work for every album sale during the summer mega tour. Of course it doesn’t hurt when your EP is catchy, well produced, and a great testament to whom you are as a band.
Recently IMR had the opportunity to interview Jonnie Baker. Here are some of the highlights from that riveting conversation.
IMR: So what set’s Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do apart from the debut album?
JB: The debut album is really us sorting through who we were as musicians and what we were trying to do. I think we were trying to find a direction. We all had different eclectic music branches. So for us to write one cohesive record, it was a struggle to find a way to balance the pop/punk elements that we liked and then those heavier elements that we liked with crunchy distorted guitars…
…Luckily we are one of the bands who walked in and we have a message to spread and its all positive. I think this record comes through and shows that. It seems pessimistic in parts but in reality it’s just very real.
IMR: Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do seems to tie in well with your motto of “Make Things Happen.” Why does that saying seem to resonate with you and with the band?
JB: We actually had been talking about the idea of calling it “Make Things Happen” because we had already been running with that theme from the year before. It is all about living your dreams and doing what you want to do or what you believe you’re meant to do. It’s about searching inside yourself to find the best in you, what you’re here for, what you’re suppose to be doing, what feels right to you and what it is about your life that is you doing what you do best. “Make Things Happen” was our way of saying, “Come hell or high water we are going to make things happen!” It is all happening and our fan base is expanding and it’s not necessarily because of us promoting on Facebook. Releasing the new record, it’s viral and it’s happening because these kids are really reaching out and latching on to the things that we’re saying and the things that we’re doing…
… We are ready to claw and kick and bite and scratch our way to the top. You have to have that dog eat dog mentality and still maintain a sense of community and family with the other bands you’re out with. They are indirectly your competition but you have a few drinks with anybody out on the tour and you’re pretty much best friends with them because you realize you’re all on the same sh*tty side of the music industry…
… For most of us it’s just about playing the show and being there to reach out to the fans personally so that they can feel an attachment or a commitment to your band. You can gather a fan base in a very grassroots, guerilla manner.
IMR: So you recently rounded off the line-up with additions to the band. What have they brought to the band and how have they affected the dynamic?
JB: We have Nick Walters, our new bass player, and he was actually in the band before as the rhythm guitar player. He and Scott are actually pretty much the exact same person. They’re both 15 years old at heart so they get along really well. It’s funny cause they never met each other and when Nick introduces himself he says, “Oh yea, I used to be the rhythm guitar player. He took my spot,” and he points to Scott. Everyone always asks, “Is that awkward?” and it’s actually the furthest from awkward that it ever could be. Nick and Scott getting along really well is an interesting dynamic because between the two of them and Dirk, that’s our entire rhythm section. They are so highly in sync with each other that you never have to worry about them cause they’re so eager and ready to feed off each other. That is why the record came together as well as it did and as smoothly as it did.
IMR: Do you have any advice for artists out there trying to do what they love? Things that you learned on the road that you feel you should pass on?
JB: At the end of the day it comes down to love of the art. It has to be an art first and a business second. You have to enjoy doing it for what it is and then if you do you are already off to a great start. The second part of that is that if you want to be bigger and better, that’s where you have to start turning it into a business…
…It’s not enough to just press t-shirts on your own in your basement with a crappy one-color design. If you do it, it has to be a genuine, worthwhile artifact that people are buying. Every time they buy something, they’re buying a piece of your band in the history of music. Whether or not you end up being as big as Quiet Riot or The Beatles, you are still a part of the legacy to one person’s life. That’s why everything has to be special, unique, and mean something…
…At the end of the day, you just have to love what you’re doing and if your not having fun doing it anymore then you need to consider alternate routes or doing something that makes you love doing music again.
[Editor's Note: The music player is from the band's previous album. For a sample of their latest and greatest, check out the Youtube video below.]
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Album Name: Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do
Date Released: June, 2012
Genre: Pop Rock/Pop Punk
Location: State College, PA
Band Members: Jonnie Baker, Scott Southlea, Nick Walters, Dirk Smith
About Jen CarrollAll I've ever wanted to do is work in the music industry. Music is a passion and a way of life. Currently I'm a student at Full Sail University majoring in Entertainment Business. I'm a concert-aholic and love to surround myself in everything artistic and creative.
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