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FRANCHISE enters the NJ market

FRANCHISE  is a four-piece alternative post-hardcore band from New Jersey. I recently sat down with the band’s bassist Mark Costa to talk about their origins, plans for the future and various stuff including beer koozies, their striking similarity to GLASSJAW and the band’s self-titled debut album recorded at Treehouse Studio in Jersey City, NJ with Frank Marra (THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM, GHOST THROWER, etc.) 

FRANCHISE is Tony Cincotta, Edgar Martinez, Mark Costa, and Corrado Rizzi. They brought their diverse influences and talents together in the winter of 2013 to create something powerful and fresh. Each of the members bring their own history and experiences to the table. Bassist Mark Costa was a founding member of the band ENDER on Eulogy Recordings, Drummer Corrado Rizzi also shines with a side project called DRIFT DIVISION Featuring Andrew Jordan of MATCHBOOK ROMANCE and Vocalist Tony Cincotta, formally of THROW THE HEAT, has been in the game since 1997 finding his way to the scene when his cousin and role model Vinnie Caruana started THE MOVIELIFE.

Hi Mark! Thanks so much for reaching out. How are things with you today?

Hey!

Things are good here, starting the work week :( A little tired…the weather is kind of screwing me up here haha it’s the Fall, it’s supposed to be nice and cool but, it has felt like summer and it’s been pretty rainy… Just counting down to Friday to get back to playing shows with the band.

Cool. It’s very nice to talk to another band from NJ area. There’s been a few of you so far :) MANALIVE, GOD FORBID, OLA MADRID, SENSES FAIL, DAY IN DAY OUT, COUNT TO FOUR, LOST IN SOCIETY, ONLY LIVING BOY, GATHERER, SIOS, THE MONGOLOIDS, CRUCIAL MACABRE, NINETY SIX, THE BEST OF THE WORST and FIGHT AMP! :) Haha, dude, your rock/punk scene is pumpin’! Are you all originally from New Jersey?

Some great bands right there! Had the pleasure to play with some of those guys. Actually played with THE BEST OF THE WORST about a month ago in New Brunswick, what a sick band!

We are all from New Jersey and have been involved in the music scene here for a while. Tony, our singer has been at it since 1997, Corrado, Mush and I have been playing out of Jersey for over 10 years. It’s definitely a great place to grow up listening/playing music…it was a breeding ground in the early 2000’s and I have a ton of memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. The Jersey scene is an ever changing beast, both good and bad, but for the most part the roots are still here.

So what was the reason and the inspiration behind starting this band? Have you all got other bands?

Well, I was touring with a band called ENDER (Eulogy Recordings) for about 2 years…the singer of that band left and we kind of went on a hiatus…a year passed and I missed playing and writing…

I had just moved into a new apartment with my girlfriend and I had just got some new recording equipment that I wanted to test out. I wanted to change some things up and play with people that I haven’t played with in a while…I reached out to Edgar “Mush” Martinez first. Him and I played in a band together called YOURS TRULY a few years back. About 5 years passed since the last time I talked/saw this guy…. so we were long overdue to catch up and I’m glad we did haha. He came by my place and showed me a few riffs he had written and I was blown away…these guitar parts were just so different, interesting and fresh, yet they reminded me of that early 2000’s period of music that I loved so much… so that nostalgic feel grabbed me instantly..

I showed Corrado (the drummer of FRANCHISE), who I’ve been friends with since we were like 10,….some of the stuff Mush brought to the table and I was like, man you HAVE to play drums for this project…he sure didn’t argue that request haha. I knew Tony from his former band, THROW THE HEAT…he was one of those front men that just always had my attention when I would see them live….I loved his energy and I knew he would enjoy this project. Tony actually tried out for ENDER a few months prior to starting FRANCHISE so we were already in contact and it just kind of was perfect timing.

Essentially FRANCHISE started as an experiment… we just wanted to try new things out with new people with no ties to labels or expectations from anyone… and it just clicked right away.. We had no idea what this band was going to do… we just wanted to write a sick record. The feedback has been really great and who knows what’s going to happen next… the beauty of this is the fact that there are no expectations or goals really… we just want to make music, so doing what we love has really been working out for us.

Sounds like projects from the past with FRANCHISE being the main one , right? Besides this new band, are you involved in some other activities? If yes, then how does your relationship with other projects tie into FRANCHISE’s goals?

Initially that wasn’t supposed to be the case but, it kind of took shape that way haha. I’m still playing with ENDER, we’ve been working on our follow up EP to our record “This is Revenge” that was released in 2010. We play shows here and there but ENDER isn’t a touring band anymore.

Corrado plays drums everyday haha he’s also in a band called DRIFTDIVISION which features Andrew Jordan from MATCHBOOK ROMANCE. He also fills in on drums for our friend, John Cusumano who put out a solo record last year.

The other projects haven’t affected FRANCHISE and our plans…we’ve kind of been going with the whole first come first serve deal when it comes to planning shows and recording schedules. FRANCHISE just kind of took the driver seat with things lately. Everyone in those other projects are good friends with everyone in FRANCHISE. There’s a great deal of respect amongst the members so it’s really nice to have that support in place.

Ok. So here you are, soon after the premiere of your debut album. You’re fast! Started posting stuff on Facebook in March and already celebrating a full length?! :) Are you guys happy the way it came out?

Haha it’s crazy to look back at this past winter and see the final product come to life. We started writing the record in January and recorded it in June. I think it moved along so fast because the process was just thought out and organized on top of the fact that we had no deadline or any set plans.. From the beginning if you asked me if we were going to release a full length I would of laughed at you haha. It was just every time we went to the rehearsal space it felt like we were writing something new…like it was an addiction and we couldn’t get enough, next thing we knew we had a full length..

We recorded the record in Jersey City, NJ with Frank Marra (GASLIGHT ANTHEM, GHOST THROWER) at Treehouse Sound. Frank became the 5th member of Franchise and pushed us hard. The hard work paid off and we couldn’t be happier with the final product. We wanted everything to sound raw while saving the quality of the recordings. All the drum tracks were of one solid take. We didn’t punch in anywhere and I feel like by doing that the songs just have a more natural flow.. We wanted it to sound true and have it replicate our live show. Personally, I love when bands play an album live and it sounds like the recording…nothing better than that and i think we accomplished that with this record. There was no sampling of snares, no sampling of tom hits or cymbals…whatever is on the record is Corrado’s Dark Horse kit. We took our time with it and made sure we were completely content with everything. We took the whole summer recording it and it was an experience I’ll never forget. It was the way a record should be recorded, it’s a recording of a time in our lives, a history per say, the first chapter in FRANCHISE.

Once we got the final mixes we agreed that we should get some fresh ears on the record so we sent it over to Kevin Antreassian who has worked with so many amazing artists (DEFTONES, COHEED AND CAMBRIA, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN) to master it. We just worked with such a great team and I wouldn’t of changed anything about the recording process of this record. It’s something I’m proud of and I know the other guys are too.

Yeah, it’s solid, yet very melodic. Was this a conscious decision or the organic process leading into this style?

Thank you! I’d say it would be 100% organic. When Mush and I started writing we really had no clue how it would come out…for all I knew it could of been a country song haha. It’s weird to make this comparison but, it was like we had a ton of random paint colors and we just picked a random blue here a random red there and kept adding to it until we thought it was finished. Mush would bring a riff, I would add a bass line and then we would take it to Corrado and Tony and they put there own flare to it. All these songs were put together in different stages and in different places. We wrote until it made sense musically and not to the point where it had a distinctive style.

There was no, hey let’s make this song sound like a DEFTONES song or let’s make this bridge something that sounds like an EVERY TIME I DIE bridge.. we just let the music speak for itself.  I love that it’s melodic.. We play in A# and Mush took a low tuning that could easily be pretty sludgy and made it sound light and pretty haha I think that’s my favorite part of this band… the songs have a lot of character and a lot of surprises.

Getting back to the recording process for a while, how did you end up at Treehouse Studio? How did you managed to get Frank on board?

We shopped around to find the right studio to work with. Once we realized we had enough for a full length we didn’t want to just wing it and work with anyone just to release some music… We called studios and paid some visits to the close ones. We got in contact with some pretty big names too, producer wise, including Tim Gilles who recorded TAKING BACK SUNDAY‘s infamous Tell All Your Friends. There are so many great studios in our area.. we’re close to New York City as well so the list was pretty long… took us about 2 months to settle on a studio.

Treehouse was always on our radar. I had a great experience recording the ENDER “This is Revenge” album there a few years back. The atmosphere is just awesome there…. musicians are always coming in and out… it’s just like a hang out. While recording the Ender record I remember eating dinner in the kitchen and then someone sits next to me at the table, I looked up and it was Ben Jorgenson, front man of ARMOR FOR SLEEP. There’s just a lot of history there, so many stories of the likes of THURSDAY having late night rehearsals and hangs there… if those walls could talk haha.

Frank was just an added bonus to recording there. He’s their resident engineer/producer. I knew we would click from the first time we met him… we rolled up to the studio and he was outside smoking a cigarette waiting for us, right off the bat he treated us like family. The studio is pretty close to our houses so it was an easy commute. Whenever we wanted to go in and tweek something it was just a phone call away. Treehouse became our home away from home.

Nice one. So… are you gearing up to sign a label deal sometime soon?

As of right now i don’t think so…we never shopped our record out to any labels..From the get go we just wanted to do everything ourselves on our time. If something comes our way, maybe we’ll entertain the idea? Who knows..

The record did pretty well on its own..and we’re just having fun. We’re just getting started.

Are there any decent record labels that follow a path similar to yours?

If we were to sign to a label in the states it would have to a small independent. I really like how Topshelf Records and No Sleep Records work. If there was an offer from either one of those I think it would be worth thinking about. Signing to a label can have it’s perks but, it also can carry a pretty hefty risk, especially for a band so new like FRANCHISE. I just don’t like the idea of owing anyone anything.

We released this record entirely ourselves with no headaches or hiccups. FRANCHISE is still testing the waters and seeing how people react to our debut. We ordered a short run of physical CD’s and  a short run of merch. Just trying to take a different approach with this project. Trying to take small bites instead of biting too much off to chew. It was always about “Hey lets get as much merch as we can and press 2,000 CDs” “Lets just drop a whole bunch of money on things we don’t need” haha. Things are different now.

With this project i think collectively we all are taking a step back and are trying to make smarter business decisions. We recently just got management and it’s really helping with the daily work load. It’s nice to have that extra set of eyes and an extra brain to bounce things off of. If anything I think a European label would benefit us more distribution wise and getting our name out across the pond. We’ll see what happens.

And what is it that YOU do to take it out? I saw your crazy merch items including a beer koozie! What the heck is this? Will it insulate my drink effectively? I haven’t seen it in a European store, you know?

Things have become much easier for DIY bands. There are countless resources to assist any artist in releasing material no matter if you have 5 fans or 50,000 fans. We ran all our digital distribution through CD Baby. CD Baby is a great company…basically the only thing you have to do as an artist is upload album art and mp3 files. They take all your information and release it to pretty much every digital distribution outlet in the states (iTunes,amazon,spotify).

CD pressing has come a long way as well. I was able to pick the style of cd packaging and design the layout right from their site…turn around was only about 2 weeks and they were delivered right to my house..

Haha a beer koozie. Well, it’s exactly what you thought it was. You just put the sleeve on your can of beer and it keeps it cool on a hot day.

When we were brainstorming for merch ideas koozies came up because the summer was coming and I had just got a new barbecue  for my apartment. I made them for me and my friends initially haha but they became pretty popular with our fans at shows. A lot of the merch ideas come from things that we all would want to wear…I’ll admit it, I wear my band’s merch a lot haha we aim to make things that we like and figure well, if we like it maybe someone else will.

Haha, cool. By the way that koozie, my initial guess was that it’s kind of a decorative addon, or something in the vein of those plastic and paper bags that wrap alcohol beverages in American movies ;) Shit, we don’t have that here either.

Haha well they are pretty decorative I’ve seen some rather creative koozies around. 

How about putting out a vinyl? How do you feel about the format?

As far as vinyl goes, I WOULD LOVE TO PRESS VINYL. Haha I feel like vinyl has always been a popular format with small groups of music lovers, but in the past year or so vinyl has become very popular with people here in the States. I was actually just having this conversation with Corrado recently. Yea, vinyl isn’t some new thing at all…. it’s been around for a very very long time and people have always bought vinyl,  but for some reason it’s really picking up some momentum with the music community. It’s nice to see bands actually selling music again and vinyl, in my opinion is a big reason for it…. there’s just something about getting a fresh new vinyl in the mail and opening it for the first time… it’s like Christmas morning haha. There’s something special about it and it’s something that the music industry needed, especially the small underground scenes.

The problem with pressing vinyl is that A.) It is expensive, especially for a brand new, small, DIY band like FRANCHISE and B.) Production takes a while and we wanted to release this record. Like I said before we’re still very new to the scene here… we’ve been playing a lot in the Asbury Park/Central Jersey scene and have just begun spreading out to other markets. The fan base is still in its developmental stage and we just thought that pressing vinyl right away was kind of a lost cause. We will eventually press vinyl, just waiting for a bigger audience to share it with.

By the way playing in the local scene. How many gigs have you played so far?

We have a little over 10 shows under our belts right now… we started playing shows this past April, we also took off June and July to record the album. We’ve been booked pretty much every weekend since getting out of the studio. I think we got a lot out of these 10 shows so far…I believe we established ourselves in one scene in the state and now it’s on to gaining a footing in another one.

What shows do you have lined up for the coming months?

I’m really excited about our upcoming dates…we are booked for every weekend in October and November… show offers are starting to roll in for December as well. I’m especially looking forward to sharing the stage with I AM THE AVALANCHE on November 4th in Asbury Park and with FULL BLOWN CHAOS in Middletown, NY on November 10th. November is going to be a really big month for this band. Like I said before, we have been hitting one scene pretty hard and now we’re starting to spread out… we’ll be on Long Island this weekend and upstate NY later in November. We are planning to be up in the Northeast region in December spreading out to the Boston/Connecticut areas. It’ll take a little while but we’ll get out to everyone soon enough ;)

Is it all for fun and the pleasure of writing and performing? Or will you try to spark a revolution in people’s minds? :)

It’s always fun to play and write. It’s a passion of all of ours and it’s been such a big part of our lives for so many years now…it would be almost weird to just stop playing and writing music… I’m sure it will be something that we will do for the rest of our lives. We started FRANCHISE because at the time all of our other projects were either broken up or on hiatus and we just missed playing so much… it sparked into something a little bigger and it has been growing everyday…

I don’t think that we’re reinventing the wheel in any way we’re just doing what we love and we’ll keep pushing as long as people are still listening. Would I like to spark a revolution with people? Hell yea I would, but would I be all upset because someone doesn’t like my band or Franchise never becomes some chart topping legend? Nope. We didn’t start this band for that reason…
We’re all so grateful for all the positive feedback and attention people have given to us already because I had no expectations of people truly caring I just wanted to make a kick ass record with some friends. We’ll keep doing this until it’s not fun anymore and until we don’t get pleasure out of writing FRANCHISE songs anymore.

You stated that the name “FRANCHISE” is a symbol of how important each member’s commitment and individual strengths are to creating the band’s energetic yet technically and melodically progressive sound. What do individual members contribute in terms of skills, strengths, and diversity?

Also, what is the song writing process in the band? Do you have a typical pattern for writing songs?

We look at this band as a sports franchise… and what do sports franchises look to do? They look to build their rosters as best as they could with certain people with certain skills to ultimately win a championship…. Same thing applies here with the band. Mush and I started writing and I was like ok now we need to draft a drummer and a singer that will lock up our line up. It was kind of like an idea to form a local super group of some sorts.

We’re all from different backgrounds of music with different skill sets and different experiences. It was really cool to see it come together and work so well… Mush comes from a more progressive/alternative music scene and he was part of the North Jersey scene when it was really strong. Tony has been playing in bands since 1997 and has a background in the pop punk scene as well as the local hardcore scene down in our shore area. Corrado is pretty diverse and plays a lot of different kind of music… we grabbed him as his project, DRIFTDIVISION which is an ambient rock band, was on hiatus and we were like how would you feel about playing some more aggressive stuff? He’s was definitely down with that haha he’s got a background in punk music as he grew up listening/playing that music. I have a background in the metal scene so playing with FRANCHISE is really cool, getting to meet new people as well as seeing some old friends. The best part about the fact that we all come from different styles and different scenes is that FRANCHISE appeals to a lot of different music fans… so our fan base is pretty diverse just like us :)

We try to keep the writing process as organized as possible. Mush usually comes over my place and we do some pre-production work at my house…. we’ll record it and send it over to Corrado so he can get an idea in the direction the material is going. Once Mush and I have our parts down we meet at the rehearsal spot with Corrado so he can add his flare. I love seeing Tony come in and put his spin on the songs… he studied music in college and has a lot of insight when it comes to flow and structure. We just like to have all the parts figured out before we meet as a full band. Once we’re all together it’s basically just to polish it all up and tweek a thing here and there.

Do you ever get offended for being compared to GLASSJAW?

Not at all… no reason to be offended, GLASSJAW is an AMAZING band. We actually got to see them a few months ago in Brooklyn, NY. Its was such a sick show… wow.

There is so much music out there… so many great bands, so many bands people have never heard of… it’s completely impossible for any band to not show any of their influences in their music. I’m glad that people see a GLASSJAW influence with this band… I’m honored haha. The funny thing is Mush, who writes a majority of the FRANCHISE material, never even heard of GLASSJAW before our record dropped… hahaha how he never heard of GLASSJAW is beyond me but… just proves that we weren’t out to replicate a sound.. it’s just what naturally came out.

What are your influences then and what do you find so inspiring about those artists, books, people, etc.?

Well, we all listen to all types of music both new and old. I think our music is inspired more from our real life experiences. Our writing is more emotionally driven, what comes out is what we’re feeling. Tony’s lyrics on this record are about growing up and getting a little older and just about staying positive and living life to the fullest, having no regrets. Our members are all over 25 and life is a lot different from when we were 16 and 17 playing shows and writing music… That is what I find really cool about this record. I can listen to this record we made 30 years down the road and it will remind me of what life was like… what we were going through how we felt. Frank at Treehouse made this point and it’s something that I will carry with me forever… he said, “Making a record is like writing a history book, a recording is an actual record of a time, a place, a moment in life, a moment in your personal history.”

FRANCHISE is inspired by our friends, enemies, home state of New Jersey and life itself. It’s genuine, its real, it’s what we feel.

Which albums caught your attention this year and why do you find them so captivating?

This year has been a really great year in releases… especially September… 3 of my favorites were LETLIVE‘s “Blackest Beautiful”, BALANCE AND COMPOSURE‘S “The Things We Think We’re Missing” and NIGHT VERSES‘ “Lift Your Existence”.

The new BALANCE AND COMPOSURE record is just pure awesomeness ha…they are such an awesome band…there’s just something hypnotizing about Jonathan Simmons’ voice. I love that band, just a solid record.

LETLIVE and NIGHT VERSES just completely are in a league of their own with that genre. No one will touch them… definitely going to be a hard record to top. I’m hoping it jump starts a revolution of aggressive post-hardcore. Im really stoked on the Night Verses material. It features lead vocals from former The Sleeping frontman, Doug Robinson. I always loved THE SLEEPING and I’ve become a huge NIGHT VERSES fan. I really hope that FRANCHISE and NIGHT VERSES get to share the stage soon.

Great! Mark, I guess that serves a nice introduction of your band. Thanks a lot for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for doing this Karol. Thanks so much again keep in touch! It was a pleasure talking to you.

Thanks! Best of luck, mate!

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derek@morsecodeproductions.com

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