RAPEWHISTLE issues debut EP

Photo by Meagan Gregg

Adam stood front row screaming lyrics with the band RAPEWHISTLE in cathartic release through a modern-day art form.

“I thought that RAPEWHISTLE put on a great set; they really know how to liven up a crowd” said Insufficient Funds’ vocalist Adam Shannon. “A lot of their songs are very personal but I feel they still convey in a way that vicariously picks up the rest of the crowd and really gets the energy going.”

Along with Shannon, dozens of more show-goers attended a well-known practice building at 384 N. Midler Avenue in Syracuse on Saturday, in celebration of the debut EP release “Having Problems” by RAPEWHISTLE. The event was an all-age show free of charge in effort to promote independent music and local playing spaces, headlined by two crowd-drawing groups; SSWAMPZZ (Syracuse) and Dumb Talk (Beekman).

RAPEWHISTLE began when founding members Matthew Jaime and Nathanael Larsen finished a work study shift at Syracuse University. Sharing each others passion for punk rock and independent music, the two united in writing a song while perched on the hood of a car in Barry Park last October. A policeman pulled up and asked them what they were doing. They responded, saying they were writing music. The authorities praised their endeavor and drove away. Jaime then invited

Larsen to a local show that night where their idea of creating a band together surfaced into a serious effort.

Immediately afterwards, the two originators took on two additional members who were close friends of theirs, also attending Syracuse University at the time, solidifying RAPEWHISTLE as a four-piece group. The core members of this quartet from the very beginning include: lead vocalist Jaime, guitarist and vocalist Larsen, bassist John Newland Jr. and drummer Spike Anderson.

RAPEWHISTLE describes their name as something with intended shock value. It comes as tradition for a genre of music that uses social satire to convey hard-hitting issues. The name had been thrown around as an idea but never actually used until the night they played their first show. Larsen’s brother had used the title previously as a joke, so as a quick fix the band used the name for anyone who was wondering who they were, and the tag stuck. The band guarantees that there is no subliminal message involved and are quick to say that rape whistles help people.

“It’s not supposed to be offensive in any way,” Newland said. “It’s shock value but very much so a helping [aid to people].”

The band strives to express life through their lyrics and music in an aesthetic way that everybody can relate to. Many of the lyrics are very personal for vocalist Jaime and touches on subjects ranging from love, suicide, death, hope and lack of hope. A lot of the meaning comes from specific events in the band members’ lives.

“[We] try to get kids to have fun even if they’re not into punk and hardcore,” Jaime said. “What I want to do is get [people] to understand what the community is about. It’s about getting through things together and not about violence at all. It’s about peace.”

The group’s debut release is also intended to shed insight on current social issues within the local music scene and promote kinship. They want people to feel welcome at underground shows and comfortable being themselves. They explain that being associated with inhabitants at Syracuse University, that people often come to shows who have never listened to heavy genres of music or have never come into contact with such a sporadic environment. It is exciting for them to see people experience it for the first time.

“I remember my first punk show,” Larsen said. “One of my favorite things about it that got me into punk is when you get in the pit and you’re jumping around and crowd surfing. If you fall down, anyone is willing to help you up. It’s a community and it’s a family. That’s what I love most about it.”

RAPEWHISTLE recorded and produced their own work under the assistance of Gregory Lifanov, who opened up a studio in his house. It was a group collaboration, but the band praises Lifanov for stepping up and playing the role of a producer to achieve their goals. The recording process was accomplished in a minimalist approach and the equipment was said to be very basic. The band prides itself in their lo-fi quality recordings and perpetuate a rough independent sound. Their method steers away from unnecessary added flare and emphasizes their live sound.

“I listened to it and I enjoyed it way more than I did live,” said freelance writer Thomas Charles. “I don’t know if that was me personally, which I think it is, but it is actually a really killer EP.”

RAPEWHISTLE’s debut album, “Having Problems,” was distributed on Saturday at the Midler practice space. Each compilation and additional merchandise was purchased by a simple donation by choice of the buyer. All proceeds went to the band in support of their album.

Editor-in-Chief Jeanette Wall, representing the independent online magazine “The Miscreant,” shared her thoughts on RAPEWHISTLE and Saturday’s gathering.

“I think that they’re a big part of the revival of the scene and [contribute to] integrating these bands that are playing at [Syracuse University] and bands that are playing locally, and it creates a great marriage between those two scenes,” Wall said.

As the creator of “The Miscreant,” Wall uses the magazine as a supplemental promo for Miscreant Records, which previously featured the headlining bands SSWAMPZZ and Dumb Talk at Saturday night’s performance. The magazine is in the process of producing its 17th edition and has already included a review of RAPEWHISTLE. Her endeavor is completely contribution based, focusing on album and music reviews along with interviews of musicians congregating the local scene. Miscreant Records plan to collaborate with these bands on a more regular basis and will include RAPEWHISTLE on the bill for future shows.

“I think all the bands here totally fit the same aesthetic, they have similar goals and they’re all great dudes,” Wall said.

RAPEWHISTLE has hopes of touring in the future, but for the time being they all have work and college-related commitments. The four members come from various parts of the country and continue to work through the challenge of collaborating in a team effort. They said they will be playing a show in North Syracuse this weekend at a venue known as Fusion. Other future shows include opening for the distinguished band D.R.I. in March with dates still pending.