The news took most fans by surprise when they checked their email and learned that New Blood Revival was breaking up. NBR was one of the most popular bands in the Central Jersey area for several years. They had signed a deal with Atlantic Records and appeared to be poised for bigger and better things. Unfortunately, the record pretty much got shelved by the record company and as NBR played out their last few farewell shows, another chapter in New Jersey music history came to a close.
Enter Death Threat Radio - the next chapter in the story of Matt Witte, the talented songwriter and performer from the Jersey Shore who made a name for himself in the bars of New Brunswick. Death Threat Radio is Matt's new band.
"It's definitely different," said Matt Witte. "It's not like the old band. It's not like the stuff I was doing six or seven years ago. It's a bit more R&B now. When we play out we try to stay in the same vein and not be so diverse where before we kind of got lost."
The experience with New Blood Revival, the record deal, and touring across the country has taught Matt a few lessons about the industry. One thing he learned is that it's hard to tour with a lot of people. So, instead of going with another large band, Death Threat Radio is a more manageable three-piece unit.
"It's three guys and they're all fucking cool guys," said Witte. "We're going to have some sampling and in the studio we're going to have a lot of string arrangements that will be run through the computer and that will basically be the fourth member of the band. We're only going to keep three guys in the band. The music is real laid back. Most of the stuff is pretty dark."
"The energy's real cool, I think. We all get along - not that the other band didn't get along, it's just a lot less people to deal with. I think that last time it didn't enable us to take so many people on the road and be comfortable. This time I would want to make sure everything was laid out."
Another thing Witte learned is that he absolutely loves being on tour. He loves the road and can't wait to go back. Death Threat Radio, which only started a little over two months ago, plans to start playing out locally and eventually moving to shows across the northeast. You can currently see them in places like New Brunswick, Asbury Park and New York City. In fact, the Bitter End - a very important NYC club - has been the site for several of the band's earliest shows.
"We did three weeks there," explained Witte. "We did once a week for three weeks. We didn't really expect that to happen. We got together real fast, had everything kind of mapped out for the most part but we didn't expect to get that far that fast."
Part of the plan includes heading into the studio sometime in the next couple of months. After the band has a record, the touring will move to new areas. There's a big base of support built up from the NBR days, so Death Threat Radio has an opportunity to take advantage of the NBR following.
New Blood Revival finished off with a pair of farewell shows in November at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick and the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. If you missed those shows keep your eye out for one final reunion which should take place in 2006.
"The Court show was so much fun, it was great!" he said. "We didn't have our original bass player - he was actually at a wedding so he couldn't make the show - so we're going to do another show with the old band in the next 6-12 months. It'll probably be at the Court."
You can catch Matt's new band, Death Threat Radio on Saturday, December 10th as part of the New Jersey Music Hall Of Fame's "Artists On The Brink" show at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.
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 email@example.com.