Dating back to even the colonial days, Philadelphia has been on the forefront of the music scene. From classical and opera to R & B and Hip-Hop, the Philly sound takes a back seat to no one. Rock ‘n’ roll is no exception. In fact, some would even argue that it all started in the City of Brotherly Love when the sounds of Doo-Wop were heard right on street corners and, soon after, Dick Clark took his first step onto the American Bandstand stage.
Today, Philly is still host to many Rock, Pop and Indie bands frequenting joints like World Café Live, The Khyber and Legendary Dobbs. One such band who is no stranger to Philly is SPiN. This Indie/Power Pop four member ensemble released their first full-length album in 2010 titled BELiEVE. Songs on the record, “Not in Love,” “Hurt by You,” and “DoN’t Look DowN” have been heard on various shows including on MTV.
With a sound quoted by critics as a mix of Queen, Muse and the Cars, SPiN is sure to please you ear buds with harmonic melodies stirred with rock steady sound and heart piercing lyrics.
Members: Eric Rothenheber (Vocals), Jim Vacca (keyboards), Lou Chudnofsky (Drums) and Henry Cieplinski (guitar) have been currently working on their next album and have completed their latest tune “Hearts in Flames.”
I had a chance to talk to SPiN’s guitarist, Henry Cieplinski about the band’s recent success and their future projects.
McGuire: Let’s talk about how everyone met and SPIN came to be?
Cieplinski: Well, Jim and E (Eric) went to high school with my brother, and we all played together in a couple different projects. Then Lou came into the picture. We found him on a street corner pretending to be homeless.
McGuire: Where was your first gig? Tell me something about that night?
Cieplinski: Our first gig with Lou was Lou’s audition with us I believe. We kinda knew we wanted him in the band even before he played because he played in another band we knew, but that didn’t stop us from making him buy us shots all night.
McGuire: The band was originally called Spin the Bottle, why the name change?
Cieplinski: Spin the Bottle was primarily a cover band. The “plan” was to do covers to gain an audience and throw in originals, but that didn’t work. People who want to hear covers don’t want to hear something they never heard before, they want to hear Guns N Roses. When we decided to go all original, we needed to make a change, so we just cut the bottle thing.
McGuire: What would you say has changed in the Philly music scene in recent years?
Cieplinski: Not much. It’s increasing difficult to get people out because everyone is home on their iPads. Clubs open and close all the time. It’s hard to stay in businesses for bar owners with live music I guess.
McGuire: When did you first pick up a guitar and how soon after did you realize this is what you wanted to do in your life?
Cieplinski: I was 15. I can remember struggling to play “Iron Man,” but in my defense, I was playing it on my sister’s cheap ass guitar my parents bought her to play at church and the action sucked. (That means it was hard to play for the lay person). I still can’t play “Iron Man” on that particular guitar. The first time I played an electric in a music store, I knew I could make it happen. That was much easier. I knew I wanted to play music before I picked up the guitar though.
McGuire: SPIN magazine has threatened a lawsuit against the band citing trademark infringement claims because of your band’s name, has anything further come of that?
Cieplinski: No. We basically got a cease and desist. Then we did nothing. It was ridiculous. They wanted to scare us from using the name “spin”. I guess if there were a THE magazine, lots of bands would be in trouble. We weren’t worried. When you’re a broke ass, you don’t fear lawsuits. It’s kind of like being the ugly guy in a fist fight. You really have nothing to lose.
McGuire: The SPiN EP was released in 2007. How was the reception? You got to tour a bit for this record alone and opening for band like Puddle of Mudd and Halestorm. Tell me about that.
Cieplinski: The reception was great. We got a lot of great reviews and one which stated that we were the worst band ever. That was my favorite. Touring was great. Lots of fun, and a great experience. Opening for big acts was cool as well. We stole Wes from Puddle of Mudd’s beer and then ask him about song writing after the show. He was a pretty cool guy. We go way back with Halestorm. They opened for us and we opened for them. What a great band. The first time I saw Lizzy sing my testicles rotated and my ears smiled. Great guys, great band. Just a matter of time before everyone knows that.
McGuire: The track, “Home” seemed to be a popular favorite and made it to the charts. Tell me the background to the song.
Cieplinski: This sounds made up, but I spent some time in Mexico, came home and threw a lot of that down. Then when we did it for producer David Ivory, he wanted it done differently. He added the loop and such. Then I begged him to put the real strings on it. I think it came out great after all that.
McGuire: What is your favorite thing about touring? Share the most exciting moment so far with the band.
Cieplinski: Putting a scorpion in the driver’s seat of our tour van when it was Lou’s turn to drive was pretty cool. Playing little towns like Page, Arizona was awesome because our song was in rotation there and when we played the gig, people were singing the song along with us.
McGuire: Everything cool with the band? Getting along?
Cieplinski: No, I mean yes. I mean… what? No – things are good. We fight. We all write so we do disagree about things. But honestly, we couldn’t be better friends.
McGuire: Tell me about your other band mates and what they bring to the table.
Cieplinski: Well we all bring a different musical background and influence, which is cool, and we all have our own personalities. Lou brings a unique humor, E brings an intellect and tranquility and Jimmy brings a keen sense of what’s going on in the music industry. That and everyone is a real good musician. I’m the a-hole in the band.
McGuire: Your first full album “Believe” was released in 2011, and has gotten some recognition. “Hurt By You” was featured on both G4 and MTV. Tell me a bit about that track.
Cieplinski: Hurt was E’s baby. We were able to get a lot of individual influences on it though as is evident with Jimmy key licks throughout. Most of the time one of us brings up an idea in it’s early stages, then we all beat it up until it’s deemed SPiN worthy.
McGuire: There have been comparisons to Muse and Queen…not bad company?
Cieplinski: Not at all. Yeah, two big influences on all of us. We all have different influences, but these two we all have in common so it makes sense, I guess.
McGuire: Tell me about the new music and when we can expect to see the next album.
Cieplinski: Well, we’re almost done a 3 song EP were working on, and we have a couple other tracks half recorded including an original Christmas tune.
McGuire: Who has directed you latest video “Hearts in Flames”? Who is the actress in the video?
Cieplinski: A film director in London contacted us about an idea for a video for Hearts in Flames. The girl was a friend of his. Sorry, I’m bad with names. He has another idea for doing another video for one of the newer songs we just got done. Maybe I’ll learn her name for the next one. Maybe.
McGuire: What’s next for SPIN as far as touring? Where can people in Philly catch you guys?
To keep up with the latest news on SPiN, visit there website www.spinrocks.com. But for now, here is their latest tune “Hearts in Flames.”