When they were going to high school in Hamilton, Jim Gaven and Dave Sanchez never really talked to each other. Well, maybe once or twice, but they certainly weren't friends. So what are they doing together in the band Postmark Twain? Making extremely smart pop music that's what.
Postmark Twain is a play on the legendary Mark Twain's name. Both of the guys are big fans of the author and Gaven even used to live on a Mark Twain Drive in Hamilton, but mainly the name stems from the type of music they want to create.
"We're both just almost in awe of everything Mark Twain has done," said Jim Gaven. "The stuff that he's written is like timeless and that's what we're trying to lean towards in our writing. It's just amazing if you were able to write something timeless. And we want to have that kind of impact.
"At first we were just throwing names around and said 'Mark Twain' but we were like we can't call ourselves Mark Twain because that's an author. It's totally ripping someone off. So we were like what is something you could put a place in time, something to mark a date or something. And we came to Postmark Twain."
The two have been getting quite a lot done in a relatively short period of time. Officially, the band didn't even get started until January of 2006. Since then they've been busy scheduling live shows throughout North Jersey and New York City, wrote well over 40 songs, earned a production deal, released a 5-song EP, have been promoting themselves heavily on the Internet through sites like purevolume and myspace, and just might be sealing the deal to score a feature motion picture film!
Their 5-song demo EP was produced by veteran producers Shep & Kenny (Head Automatica, Cute is What We Aim For, Bayside) as part of a production deal.
The record was recorded with several studio musicians, but live Postmark Twain is just Dave and Jim. They've been booking shows in clubs, coffeehouses, wherever they can find work. Unfortunately, there's not many places to play in their backyard as Trenton's club scene is pretty non-existant at this time. Their one local show coming up is a date at the 449 Room in November. Other shows will most likely be scattered across North Jersey where Jim used to play while going to college at Seton Hall University.
It was during one of Jim's solo shows last December that Dave Sanchez first approached Jim about the idea of working together.
"He said he really liked what he heard," recalled Gaven. "He liked the way I pushed myself vocally and how passionate I was about music because he's the same way. He was in a band called Raleigh St. Clair that broke up. They were also from the Trenton area. He just came up to me and said, ' I really like what you're doing and I know that you work your ass off. Would you like to write stuff with me?'
"I was a fan of his band for a while and I loved what they did. I knew they were really hard working and that if I hooked up with him we could make a lot of progress very quickly. And that's what it's been like."
Postmark Twain has definitely been making a lot of progress within a short period of time. One of the best moves they made was purchasing the front page ad for Purevolume.com for one week in August. This led to their songs being listened to nearly 4,000 times per day. In fact, they were ranked as the number one acoustic indie and pop artist for about four of the seven days they were on the front page. This led to thousands upon thousands of people learning about the band and some much needed exposure.
"It's all about the songwriting and that's what Dave and I really pride ourselves on - crafting nice songs lyrically," said Gaven. "If it's good music, it's good music."
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.