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Press & Reviews

TONY MECCA

Philadelphia Rowhome Magazine

“People don’t starve for their art so they can make money, they starve for their art because they love it.” It’s a muggy late August afternoon – the pavement outside is damp, steaming with a fresh coat of rain, and my right ear is buzzing.

The charismatic ringleader of Philly pub-rockers Tony Mecca and The Heavy Mental Gypsys is exuberantly doling out personal recollections from his four-decade tenure as a Philadelphia musician. Occasionally he waxes philosophical: “As long as you keep in mind the work is the reward, you’ll never go wrong.”

Mecca has lived by these words and as such, he has no shortage of vivid memories playing on stage, interacting with fellow musicians, soaking in Philadelphia’s manic musical landscape. He’s been able to do it all while holding down a successful 34-year career, and, along with his wife, raising five children. This guy is no slouch.

Jump back to 1989—hair metal is in full-swing; the biggest band in town is Cinderella. Mecca has two bands: Habits and Mecca, and he’s come to that pivotal fork in the road most musicians are aptly familiar with: commit to being a professional musician or switch gears to a steadier occupation. The choice becomes easier after being offered a financially underwhelming recording contract, which he declined. “I couldn’t go on the road for $150 a week.” With a young family at home, he chose the more pragmatic approach.

This isn’t the end of the story though—just a brief intermission.

In 1991, Mecca purchased the Opera House, a dilapidated rehearsal space he would eventually transform into a fully functioning recording studio. For the next two decades, this pet project would allow him to keep music at arm’s length, while providing an opportunity to see the business-side of the industry. Slowly, but surely, Mecca started dabbling with his own songs. It wasn’t until 2007 that the first iteration of the Heavy Mental Gypsys would assemble. At first a trio, over the course of several years, The Gypsys would expand into a much larger and diverse ensemble. The current lineup consists of singer and clarinetist Stephanie Davis, Joe Pettit and Steve Wiggs alternating on guitar, keyboardist John Merlino, drummer Jim Drnec, Angelo Esposito on bass and Michele Davis on violin and vocals. This might seem like a random scrawl of musicians but it gives live performances a gypsy-like mystique. And there’s no telling how many more Gypsys might join the lineup: “There could be a hundred Heavy Mental Gypsys, doesn’t matter to me.”

Mecca has released a commendable quantity of material. Since 2003, he’s released five full-length albums, as well as a slew of singles. In 2018 he released remixed versions of his first two albums Purple Monkeys (2003) and Princes of the New Dark Age (2005), as well as two fresh singles: “Terrifying Lies” and “The Dark Side of Love.” His music is available on both iTunes and Spotify. A schedule of his upcoming performances as well as links to his music is available on his website: www.tonymecca.com.

Tony Mecca fits cleanly within the singer-songwriter tradition of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. His music incorporates a hodgepodge of styles ranging from hard-edge rock bangers to sentimental pop songs, interlaced with patches of folk, soul and blues. He uses this eclectic mix of sounds to tell stories about a wide range of characters such as “Plain Jane and Average Joe,” “Annie Crime-Fighter” and “When Eileen Dreams.” As Mecca explains, “I’m an urban guy. I talk about real situations, sometimes surreal, but it’s gritty hard-edged music, so that’s why I have to inject a little bit of humor.”

Bryan Culver - Philadelphia Rowhome Magazine (Oct 23, 2018)

FUN (2011)

"One of the finest singer/songwriters in Philadelphia today is Tony Mecca. I don't often review independent artists, but occasionally I will stumble upon one that is worthy of recognition. Tony Mecca is one of those artists. This album is some of the best music I've heard in quite awhile. If you like Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello or rock music generally, there is truly something for everyone on this disc."
(5 of 5 stars) ... Johnny Boy / AMAZON REVIEW 3/15/11

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"I've had the privilege of getting Tony Mecca out to perform at some of the Cabaret nights I run in Philadelphia. His music is never less than completely enchanting. He has the incredible ability to grab an audience from all walks of life. I've watched as people from the ages of 9 to 89 lean forward as he attacks his music. I've just begun listening to his collection of CDs, and find them provocative and challenging. I'm honored to have met this man and his music."
(5 of 5 stars) ... Ken Bingham / AMAZON REVIEW 6/28/11

HELLO, GOODBYE & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN (2007)

"Beautiful east coast Romanticism! "HELLO, GOODBYE …" recounts tales of life and love in the blue-collar South Philly, Irish/Italian neighborhood where Mecca has spent his life. “Americana rootsy” w/ lyrics reminiscent of Springsteen or Cohen but with a gritty Philly twist. A wonderful effort - Highly recommended".
(5 of 5 stars) ... James MacMillan / AMAZON REVIEW 10/12/07

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HELLO, GOODBYE & EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN is the Everly Brothers, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp from a blender, poured into melodic Americana via street-level tales of everyboy and everygirl loving, longing, working and watching life play itself out. Genuine innocence - whatever became of it? Mecca and friends turn back the clock keeping it sweet and simple via tunes like "An American Kid," "Annie Walks Through Town," "The Night We Danced" - pretty much any of the 22 tracks offered here. A great slice of Americana!"
(12 of 16 stars) ... John Collinge / Progession Magazine
Lowell, MA 6/20/07
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"I'm going to stop at 'Plain Jane and Average Joe' because I'll write forever. “Just two unknown faces in the book of so and so” – Like just another dreamer dreaming about everyman. I thought Tony Mecca’s new CD was four stars, and I thought his live concert was even better. I have paid good money for bigger names and received far less. As I exclaimed that night – BRAVO!"
Jay Schwietzer - Pine Island, New York 6/2/07


 

Album Reviews

HEAVY MENTAL GYPSIES (2016)

Louis Greenstein/AMAZON.COM REVIEW 2/15/16

"Tony Mecca has a love affair with Rock and Roll music. If you're fortunate enough to catch his band, the Heavy Mental Gypsys live, or to sit down and give a good listen to his latest CD, you will fall in love too. From the opening track, the Mecca-penned "The Farmer," through nearly two dozen songs, Mecca's gravel-voiced authenticity, his emotionally honest lyrics, catchy refrains and rousing choruses, along with the band's effortless rhythms and fun-filled hooks are guaranteed to lift your soul and make you grin.

Lovingly composed and masterfully produced, Heavy Mental Gypsies belongs in any serious music lover's collection. Mecca's music is like the Broad Street Subway: Deep, thunderous, rattling and direct. It's quite a ride. It will get you there." (5 of 5 stars)





 

PRINCES OF THE NEW DARK AGE (2005)

"Philadelphia balladeer Tony Mecca might best be described as an "undiscovered talent" who, in the hands of the right production team, could generate ripples on the Pop/AOR front. These CDs are rootsy pop a la Bruce Springsteen/Billy Joel/Tom Petty, etc., that is melodically accomplished, catchy and fun to listen to. In fact, the material on these two self-produced discs is strong enough to question why some label hasn't snagged the guy and given him a shot at wider audiences.

Mecca has a slightly rough voice that fits the lyrics well - ruminations on friends, loves, growing pains and life's ironies. Pick most any track from these two albums and you'll find a ditty worth sinking your teeth into. A gem like "Say Goodbye to Judas," (from Princes... ) for instance, might leave you wondering what radio station you heard it on first.
(11 of 16 stars) ...  John Collinge / Progression Magazine
Lowell, MA 12/9/06

PURPLE MONKEYS (2003)

"Philadelphia balladeer Tony Mecca might best be described as an "undiscovered talent" who, in the hands of the right production team, could generate ripples on the Pop/AOR front. These CDs are rootsy pop a la Bruce Springsteen/Billy Joel/Tom Petty, etc., that is melodically accomplished, catchy and fun to listen to. In fact, the material on these two self-produced discs is strong enough to question why some label hasn't snagged the guy and given him a shot at wider audiences.

Mecca has a slightly rough voice that fits the lyrics well - ruminations on friends, loves, growing pains and life's ironies. Pick most any track from these two albums and you'll find a ditty worth sinking your teeth into. A gem like "Say Goodbye to Judas," (from Princes... ) for instance, might leave you wondering what radio station you heard it on first.
(11 of 16 stars) ... John Collinge / Progression Magazine
Lowell, MA 12/9/06

Interviews

Salisbury Daily Times (Go! Magazine) – September 15, 2011
Tony Mecca Interviewed By Josh Davis 

Josh Davis:
A lot of musicians credit parents who had a great record collection or a hipster older sibling as being the catalyst for becoming interested in music -- what's your story?  

Tony Mecca:
My father was a professional musician, an excellent singer of “popular music” – The radio was always on in the car and I suppose the station he listened to eventually played a few things that I liked. It certainly sent me searching the airwaves for stations that played music more to my liking. However, seeing the Beatles, Monkees and others on TV was probably the biggest factor in my desire to learn to play the guitar.  

Josh Davis:
Your (brilliant!) singing voice has mountains of character, the way people like Dylan, Waits, or even Mark Sandman from Morphine do. Do you remember what the reaction was the first time you sang in public? 

Tony Mecca:
Thank you for kind words. Most folks that witnessed my first show where friends and family. They had a hard time believing that my singing voice sounded “so much different” than when I spoke – Many singer are like that – In fact, on some of the softer songs my voice adapts a cleaner and less “gritty” quality. It all has to do with range and how hard I push. It’s tantamount to an electric guitar moving from a clean texture into overdrive.     

Josh Davis:
The subject matter in your songs tend to revolve around an interesting collection of misfits -- can you talk about your songwriting and subject matter? 

Tony Mecca:
When I was younger my songs were more concerned with worldly issues. But since my reentry into the music business in 2003 with the PURPLE MONKEYS album, I have become much more interested in local subject matter. People, personalities and the social/psychological conditions and processes that may (or may not) direct our lives – Rock ‘n Roll Psychotherapy. Of course most all of the stories and folks that show up in my songs are real and true. Occasionally a name will be changed or an incident embellished, but there is absolutely more truth than fiction. It is imperative however, to remember that the truth is from my perspective. 

I’ll tell you a funny story about the song “Charlie Jones” from the new album (FUN). I met Charlie in a bar one night and we spoke casually for an hour or so. I had known him on a hello/goodbye basis most of my life, but we never had the occasion to speak. When I left the bar I knew immediately that I wanted to write a song about Charlie Jones. I formulated my opinion about the type of person Charlie seemed to be, and filled in the blanks for the things I didn’t know. Wouldn’t you know that the first time we play the song live a girl in the crowd screams out (good-naturedly) “you don’t know Charlie Jones very well”.  There were a couple of other comments from the crowd that drew laughter, but the song was very well received. Perception is a fickle beast. Truth be told, when you really get to know us - most human are misfits (your word). 

Josh Davis:
You've described your music as "Urban American Heavy MeNtal" - what does that mean to you and what do you want to average person's reaction to be to that kind of label? 

Tony Mecca:
A little background on the origin - No artist or band likes to be labeled or rounded-up and herded into some musical category. However, and most artists do get it, both industry folks and music lovers like when they can easily/quickly compare you to another artist/band or file your sound under a particular genre or style. I’ve heard so many descriptions of what I play that even I’m confused (so please send me your opinion of what I play). With this in mind, a few years ago a writer referred to my music as “Americana from a city boy”. About a week later, a fan (who I later learned is an English professor at a local university) approached me after a show and said “man, you’re a deep thinker”. Well, I don’t know how deep my small brain can delve, but it did get me thinking. All I did was add the “urban” to the recipe. Anyway, I had concocted or stumbled upon my own style/genre. On to your question... 

…I play rock music slightly altered by elements of folk, blues & jazz. That’s how I would define Urban American. The lyrics are the main focal point, and often present the subject matter from a slightly different trajectory from what is usually expected in popular music. That would be the Heavy MeNtal. The silly big “n” means that most of this stuff is really fun and/or funny. As far as “what I want a person’s reaction to be” - I’d want people to become curious enough to listen to the music and come to their own conclusions.      

Josh Davis:
Can you talk a little about "Fun"? Where was it recorded, and what was the process like compared to previous releases? 

Tony Mecca:
FUN was recorded at The Opera House Recording Studio in Philadelphia, PA, and the recording process was very different than with my first three albums (Purple Monkeys / Princes of the New Dark Age / Hello, Goodbye & Everything in Between). The biggest difference was that I had been playing out live for a year prior to going into the studio, and during the entire recording process. I was not a performing musician during the recording of the first three albums. Many of the songs on FUN had been staples in our live set for nearly two years. That’s good from the performance standpoint because we really had those songs down – but the pressure was on to record what was to be the final version. Another change in the recording process was that I now had a band (Tony Mecca & The Heavy MeNtal Gypsys) and everyone made contributions. The other albums were just me and my dear friend Davis Decca with minor contributions from one or two outside folks. 

Josh Davis:
What kind of band do you take into a venue like Common Grounds? Can you fit a full band setup in that room? 

Tony Mecca:
We’ll play Common Grounds (as we did back in June) as a Quartet. We leave the drums and bass at home. We do about half our shows as a quartet so we’re used to that configuration. It’s cool because it gives us a chance to play a few more of our delicate things. We will be bringing the full band down to play the Green Turtle in Salisbury on November 5, 2011.    

Josh Davis:
What do you want people to take away from your live shows? 

Tony Mecca:
Mainly we want our audience to have fun - to laugh, dance and get involved. It’s also cool when they ask questions about the songs or characters in the songs. Our priority is to always play hard and with a great passion for anyone that takes the time to listen to our music.  

Josh Davis:
What are you working on next? 

Tony Mecca:
We’ll start recording some new songs in November. We’ve been playing three or four of these songs in our live set for the past few months, and we’re very excited. We’re also going to be some interesting things involving video. Stay tuned for more on that in the near future.  

If You GO! Tony Mecca & The Heavy MeNtal Gypsy Quartet
September 17th, 2011 -  7 p.m.  - Common Grounds
701D East Naylor Mill Road / Mill Pond Village Plaza
Salisbury, MD  ... www.tonymeccamusic.com

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Underneath Magazine – November 2011  
Tony Mecca Interviewed by Ryan Groves
   

Ryan Groves:  
So what made you decide to get into music?   

Tony Mecca:  
Like most kids discovering pop music on the radio and TV, I emulated my early rock & roll idols. Of course there was the Beatles and The Stones, but the Rascals and Doors probably moved me a bit more and eventually would have a more profound influence. Then there was my Dad who was a professional musician. He was great singer of popular music, which for most of my youth, I didn’t get.   

Ryan Groves:  
Do you think that the internet and social networking has helped or hurt the music industry? What about in reference to your career?   

Tony Mecca:  
Both - For the major artists selling millions of album/CD units per year (and their associated record companies, publishers etc), the damage done by the music sharing internet populace - in terms of loss of income - is incalculable. On the other hand, the internet has open many other once unconsidered streams of potential income producing vehicles for those same artists. Social networking (which to me also includes YouTube) is just one invention that can really spread awareness about older established artists to newer fans, and also intensify the buzz on a new act to a fever pitch almost overnight   

As far my career as an independent musician, it’s hard to imagine how I could do without it. In my mind the primary concern of the independent performing/recording artist (or any artist for that matter) is to find “music lovers”, perform your music for them and determine by their reaction and/or feedback whether they fancy what you do. If they like you, and hopefully start spreading the good word about you and your music, then it becomes important to be able to connect with those folk and give them a place to buy your music and communicate with you. Now you are in the music business, an entrepreneur. Whether you like it or not, you’d better have (or be ready to acquire) some computer skills, marketing skills, business and communication skills - The list goes on. Once you’ve learned these skills to some degree, the internet is the one tool that allows you to take your business global.       

Ryan Groves:  
Is there a message in your music (social, environmental, etc..)? If so explain.   

Tony Mecca:  
Absolutely! I write story songs about people, personalities and life situations. Whether its growing-up, having your heart broke or dating a teenage witch, all potential origins of social neuroses are explored extensively. Rock ‘n Roll Psychotherapy 101, baby!   

Ryan Groves:  
Tell me a little bit about your music (album or release)? How would you sum it up for our readers?   

Tony Mecca:  
I’ve released four albums: Purple Monkeys (2003), Princes of the New Dark Age (2005), Hello, Goodbye & Everything in Between (2007) and Fun (2011) – In the press it’s been called everything from “vibrant, intelligent, fun rock” to “adventurous singer/songwriter” to “random old school rock” – My sound has been compared to Springsteen, Elvis Costello, The Smithereens, Cat Stevens. Smash Mouth and many others that I find very fascinating – I’ve been called “the bastard son of Huey Lewis and Joni Mitchell” and “John Prine fronting the Who” – But the biggest compliment comes from the folks who listen to the albums and come to our shows – They just say “Your music is, ah … really different from the other bands that usually play here. Its fun and I can relate to all of those stories” – This is what I hear the most, and what I enjoy hearing more that anything.   

Ryan Groves:  
Where do you see your music career going? (Please share some experiences, stories, shows, or people you've met through your music that otherwise you wouldn't have)   

Tony Mecca  
We’re building a following brick by brick. We play primarily in and around our hometown, Philadelphia. This year our goal was to get out-of-town – Mission accomplished - We’ve played New York City - North & South Jersey – Wilmington, Delaware - Salisbury and Westminster, Maryland - Washington DC. We now consider ourselves a bit more regional, and we are proud to say that we’ve been asked back to all of those locations, and will be revisiting those venues over the coming months. We are really looking forward to seeing our new friends.   

We hope to continue to grow our fan base via our live shows and albums. Also, and this can really help spread your music, many of my songs are signed with various music publishers, and some of those songs are currently under recording consideration by other artists, film and TV production companies.   

Ryan Groves:  
What are the three albums, songs, or musicians that influenced you to make music? And why?   

Tony Mecca:  
Too many to mention, but I’d have to say I’ve taken a great deal from Frank Zappa. His body of work is remarkable and is with me at all times. The original “independent artist”, he was so very clear about who he was and what he wanted to accomplish. He was truly an amazing and intelligent man that always kept the “status quo” in check – I still miss him. Choosing my three favorite albums would be also be a near impossible task, so I’ll give you three of my favorites: Morrison’s Hotel by The Doors / Octopus by Gentle Giant / Performance: Rockin the Fillmore by Humble Pie – Pretty eclectic, Huh?    

Ryan Groves:  
Any message you have to the fans and the readers out there?   

Tony Mecca:  
Give all types of music a fair chance to permeate your being. Don’t just listen to what others think is cool. Cool is much more attractive as a literal description of the temperature. After all, you eat what tastes good to you, not what tastes good to others.   

For those who have purchased our CD’s and come to live shows, we can’t thank you enough for your support. Please email us, get involved – Interaction is what it’s all about. For those of you who have no idea who we are, visit us at (www.tonymecca.com) and request our free CD sampler – we’ll even pay to send it to you. There are 2 songs from each of our four CD’s. That’s 8 songs for free! See you “out there”!

Underneath Magazine – November 2011  
Tony Mecca Interviewed by Ryan Groves   

Ryan Groves:  
So what made you decide to get into music?   

Tony Mecca:  
Like most kids discovering pop music on the radio and TV, I emulated my early rock & roll idols. Of course there was the Beatles and The Stones, but the Rascals and Doors probably moved me a bit more and eventually would have a more profound influence. Then there was my Dad who was a professional musician. He was great singer of popular music, which for most of my youth, I didn’t get.   

Ryan Groves:  
Do you think that the internet and social networking has helped or hurt the music industry? What about in reference to your career?   

Tony Mecca:  
Both - For the major artists selling millions of album/CD units per year (and their associated record companies, publishers etc), the damage done by the music sharing internet populace - in terms of loss of income - is incalculable. On the other hand, the internet has open many other once unconsidered streams of potential income producing vehicles for those same artists. Social networking (which to me also includes YouTube) is just one invention that can really spread awareness about older established artists to newer fans, and also intensify the buzz on a new act to a fever pitch almost overnight   

As far my career as an independent musician, it’s hard to imagine how I could do without it. In my mind the primary concern of the independent performing/recording artist (or any artist for that matter) is to find “music lovers”, perform your music for them and determine by their reaction and/or feedback whether they fancy what you do. If they like you, and hopefully start spreading the good word about you and your music, then it becomes important to be able to connect with those folk and give them a place to buy your music and communicate with you. Now you are in the music business, an entrepreneur. Whether you like it or not, you’d better have (or be ready to acquire) some computer skills, marketing skills, business and communication skills - The list goes on. Once you’ve learned these skills to some degree, the internet is the one tool that allows you to take your business global.       

Ryan Groves:  
Is there a message in your music (social, environmental, etc..)? If so explain.   

Tony Mecca:  
Absolutely! I write story songs about people, personalities and life situations. Whether its growing-up, having your heart broke or dating a teenage witch, all potential origins of social neuroses are explored extensively. Rock ‘n Roll Psychotherapy 101, baby!   

Ryan Groves:  
Tell me a little bit about your music (album or release)? How would you sum it up for our readers?   

Tony Mecca:  
I’ve released four albums: Purple Monkeys (2003), Princes of the New Dark Age (2005), Hello, Goodbye & Everything in Between (2007) and Fun (2011) – In the press it’s been called everything from “vibrant, intelligent, fun rock” to “adventurous singer/songwriter” to “random old school rock” – My sound has been compared to Springsteen, Elvis Costello, The Smithereens, Cat Stevens. Smash Mouth and many others that I find very fascinating – I’ve been called “the bastard son of Huey Lewis and Joni Mitchell” and “John Prine fronting the Who” – But the biggest compliment comes from the folks who listen to the albums and come to our shows – They just say “Your music is, ah … really different from the other bands that usually play here. Its fun and I can relate to all of those stories” – This is what I hear the most, and what I enjoy hearing more that anything.   

Ryan Groves:  
Where do you see your music career going? (Please share some experiences, stories, shows, or people you've met through your music that otherwise you wouldn't have)   

Tony Mecca  
We’re building a following brick by brick. We play primarily in and around our hometown, Philadelphia. This year our goal was to get out-of-town – Mission accomplished - We’ve played New York City - North & South Jersey – Wilmington, Delaware - Salisbury and Westminster, Maryland - Washington DC. We now consider ourselves a bit more regional, and we are proud to say that we’ve been asked back to all of those locations, and will be revisiting those venues over the coming months. We are really looking forward to seeing our new friends.   

We hope to continue to grow our fan base via our live shows and albums. Also, and this can really help spread your music, many of my songs are signed with various music publishers, and some of those songs are currently under recording consideration by other artists, film and TV production companies.   

Ryan Groves:  
What are the three albums, songs, or musicians that influenced you to make music? And why?   

Tony Mecca:  
Too many to mention, but I’d have to say I’ve taken a great deal from Frank Zappa. His body of work is remarkable and is with me at all times. The original “independent artist”, he was so very clear about who he was and what he wanted to accomplish. He was truly an amazing and intelligent man that always kept the “status quo” in check – I still miss him. Choosing my three favorite albums would be also be a near impossible task, so I’ll give you three of my favorites: Morrison’s Hotel by The Doors / Octopus by Gentle Giant / Performance: Rockin the Fillmore by Humble Pie – Pretty eclectic, Huh?    

Ryan Groves:  
Any message you have to the fans and the readers out there?   

Tony Mecca:  
Give all types of music a fair chance to permeate your being. Don’t just listen to what others think is cool. Cool is much more attractive as a literal description of the temperature. After all, you eat what tastes good to you, not what tastes good to others.   

For those who have purchased our CD’s and come to live shows, we can’t thank you enough for your support. Please email us, get involved – Interaction is what it’s all about. For those of you who have no idea who we are, visit us at (www.tonymecca.com) and request our free CD sampler – we’ll even pay to send it to you. There are 2 songs from each of our four CD’s. That’s 8 songs for free! See you “out there”!

Underneath Magazine – November 2011  
Tony Mecca Interviewed by Ryan Groves   

Ryan Groves:  
So what made you decide to get into music?   

Tony Mecca:  
Like most kids discovering pop music on the radio and TV, I emulated my early rock & roll idols. Of course there was the Beatles and The Stones, but the Rascals and Doors probably moved me a bit more and eventually would have a more profound influence. Then there was my Dad who was a professional musician. He was great singer of popular music, which for most of my youth, I didn’t get.   

Ryan Groves:  
Do you think that the internet and social networking has helped or hurt the music industry? What about in reference to your career?   

Tony Mecca:  
Both - For the major artists selling millions of album/CD units per year (and their associated record companies, publishers etc), the damage done by the music sharing internet populace - in terms of loss of income - is incalculable. On the other hand, the internet has open many other once unconsidered streams of potential income producing vehicles for those same artists. Social networking (which to me also includes YouTube) is just one invention that can really spread awareness about older established artists to newer fans, and also intensify the buzz on a new act to a fever pitch almost overnight   

As far my career as an independent musician, it’s hard to imagine how I could do without it. In my mind the primary concern of the independent performing/recording artist (or any artist for that matter) is to find “music lovers”, perform your music for them and determine by their reaction and/or feedback whether they fancy what you do. If they like you, and hopefully start spreading the good word about you and your music, then it becomes important to be able to connect with those folk and give them a place to buy your music and communicate with you. Now you are in the music business, an entrepreneur. Whether you like it or not, you’d better have (or be ready to acquire) some computer skills, marketing skills, business and communication skills - The list goes on. Once you’ve learned these skills to some degree, the internet is the one tool that allows you to take your business global.       

Ryan Groves:  
Is there a message in your music (social, environmental, etc..)? If so explain.   

Tony Mecca:  
Absolutely! I write story songs about people, personalities and life situations. Whether its growing-up, having your heart broke or dating a teenage witch, all potential origins of social neuroses are explored extensively. Rock ‘n Roll Psychotherapy 101, baby!   

Ryan Groves:  
Tell me a little bit about your music (album or release)? How would you sum it up for our readers?   

Tony Mecca:  
I’ve released four albums: Purple Monkeys (2003), Princes of the New Dark Age (2005), Hello, Goodbye & Everything in Between (2007) and Fun (2011) – In the press it’s been called everything from “vibrant, intelligent, fun rock” to “adventurous singer/songwriter” to “random old school rock” – My sound has been compared to Springsteen, Elvis Costello, The Smithereens, Cat Stevens. Smash Mouth and many others that I find very fascinating – I’ve been called “the bastard son of Huey Lewis and Joni Mitchell” and “John Prine fronting the Who” – But the biggest compliment comes from the folks who listen to the albums and come to our shows – They just say “Your music is, ah … really different from the other bands that usually play here. Its fun and I can relate to all of those stories” – This is what I hear the most, and what I enjoy hearing more that anything.   

Ryan Groves:  
Where do you see your music career going? (Please share some experiences, stories, shows, or people you've met through your music that otherwise you wouldn't have)   

Tony Mecca  
We’re building a following brick by brick. We play primarily in and around our hometown, Philadelphia. This year our goal was to get out-of-town – Mission accomplished - We’ve played New York City - North & South Jersey – Wilmington, Delaware - Salisbury and Westminster, Maryland - Washington DC. We now consider ourselves a bit more regional, and we are proud to say that we’ve been asked back to all of those locations, and will be revisiting those venues over the coming months. We are really looking forward to seeing our new friends.   

We hope to continue to grow our fan base via our live shows and albums. Also, and this can really help spread your music, many of my songs are signed with various music publishers, and some of those songs are currently under recording consideration by other artists, film and TV production companies.   

Ryan Groves:  
What are the three albums, songs, or musicians that influenced you to make music? And why?   

Tony Mecca:  
Too many to mention, but I’d have to say I’ve taken a great deal from Frank Zappa. His body of work is remarkable and is with me at all times. The original “independent artist”, he was so very clear about who he was and what he wanted to accomplish. He was truly an amazing and intelligent man that always kept the “status quo” in check – I still miss him. Choosing my three favorite albums would be also be a near impossible task, so I’ll give you three of my favorites: Morrison’s Hotel by The Doors / Octopus by Gentle Giant / Performance: Rockin the Fillmore by Humble Pie – Pretty eclectic, Huh?    

Ryan Groves:  
Any message you have to the fans and the readers out there?   

Tony Mecca:  
Give all types of music a fair chance to permeate your being. Don’t just listen to what others think is cool. Cool is much more attractive as a literal description of the temperature. After all, you eat what tastes good to you, not what tastes good to others.   

For those who have purchased our CD’s and come to live shows, we can’t thank you enough for your support. Please email us, get involved – Interaction is what it’s all about. For those of you who have no idea who we are, visit us at (www.tonymecca.com) and request our free CD sampler – we’ll even pay to send it to you. There are 2 songs from each of our four CD’s. That’s 8 songs for free! See you “out there”!

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Junior’s Cave Online Magazine  
Tony Mecca Interviewed by Isaac Davis Jr   

Isaac:  
It’s an amazing time to be a DIY artist/performer. What do you enjoy the most about being an indie performer?   

Tony Mecca:  
The opportunity for total creative freedom and depending on your goals and work ethic - the possibility to go as far as you want to go.   

Isaac:  
If you had an opportunity to sign with a major label, would you sign now knowing you may have to give up some of what you have build up over the years about you in the process?   

Tony Mecca:  
I'd be a liar and a fool to say that I wouldn't if the label, money and terms were beneficial to me, but at the very least I would know what questions to ask and how to contrast the offered benefits against where I am and what I have right now. As a younger man playing for that ultimate prize I would have signed anything.   

Isaac:  
I remembered Simon Cowell from American Idol talking about the “it” Factor that makes a musician/band stand out. What do you think is your “it” factor that makes you stand out from others in the music business?   

Tony Mecca:  
I write and perform story songs that most "everyman/woman" can relate to. I deliver those songs with great energy and passion because I feel the pain and joy of the characters in the songs. I believe it translates very well and that's what makes it special.   

Isaac:  
Why should music fans listen to your music? Describe what they are going to get when they listen to your music?   

Tony Mecca:  
Depending on the song, you'll either laugh, cry, think or dance - If these are the emotions you are trying to stimulate when you listen to music, I think you'll like what I do   

Isaac: 
Briefly describe your humble beginnings that led you to where you are at musically now.   

Tony Mecca:  
After retiring as a performer in the early 90's, I spent 10 years raising my young family and producing, arranging and mentoring young rock bands - At the urging of one of those bands, after hearing some songs I had started writing for fun, I recorded my first set of new songs in over 12 years in 2002. Those recordings became "Purple Monkeys" which I independently released in 2003. I've recorded three more albums since that time - Princes of the New Dark Age (2005) / Hello, Goodbye & Everything in Between (2007) / Fun (2011) - and have been playing live since 2007   

Isaac:  
You have some strong iconic influences. Of these influences, which artist/band do you relate to the most and why?   

Tony Mecca:  
There are several but I think Frank Zappa is most prominent in all aspects of my operation. My songs are very different than Zappa in style and texture, but I believe the humor and cynicism in the songs, and my general approach and willingness to try any style of music runs parallel to Mr. Zappa's eclecticism.   

Isaac:  
Do you feel that Indie music gets the respect it deserves? Why or why not?   

Tony Mecca:  
From who(m)? Probably not, but remember that "who(m)" is precisely why there is an independent scene.    

Isaac:  
If you could change one thing about the music business, what would it be and why?   

Tony Mecca:  
I wish publishers, music supervisors, and anyone making a decision about which music gets "placed" on TV, Radio, Film, CD - wherever - all had a mind of their own. The majority are like politicians. They start off pure with a vision of how they are going to change the world with original and exciting new music and artists. Then at the end, in order to keep their jobs, they find and pitch the same thing everyone else has found in whatever trend happens to be dominating the market at the time. I do sympathize because I know everyone has to earn a living. But if they stuck to their guns a little longer and pushed some new or different styles into the mainstream, it would keep the music scene fresh and offer variety instead of bogging the industry down with the same stuff for years. Take Country Music, which to me is more a Rock/Pop hybrid performed by folks who might have become "Country artists" because of their geographical roots. These people are incredible singers and musicians, but if I hear one more of these bombastic hooks that have dominated this genre for years now, I'll run my head through a passing car's window. Sorry 'bout that.    

Isaac:  
Do you think in the near future that DIY artists/bands will be the norm and big record companies will be very limited?   

Tony Mecca:  
Big record companies are very limited right now, but they will always find a way to reinvent them selves and survive. And that's not a bad thing. Perhaps they will learn from the independent scene to be a bit more experimental like back in the late 60's/early 70's. But of course back then they only experimented to find out what the kids would buy. Once they discovered that, the research and development department shut down and arena rock was born.   

Isaac:  
What type of feedback have you been receiving about your music from fans and music critics?   

Tony Mecca:  
Well of course my fans like the songs. Some like the funny ones, some like the sad ones. The critical response has been really good too. Many reviewers and interviewer are taken by the stories. They comment that the music and approach is very different, especially the younger writers. It's almost like they haven't experienced songs that talk about people and life situations other than relationship songs.   

Isaac: 
If you knew that you would never gain fame and fortune with what you are doing now, would you continue to make music?   

Tony Mecca:  
I do know that the probable outcome of my enterprise is not fortune and fame, and yes I still make music. Listen, as an artist you must first understand that the work is the reward. If what you are doing is really good and it happens to intersect with the "music industry/public tastes", and you promote yourself really hard, then the business side of your operation stands a good chance to be profitable enough for you to sustain an income that may allow you to "quit your day job".      

Isaac:  
How do you handle negative feedback or negative energy about your music?   

Tony Mecca:  
I experience disappointment like everyone else, but I understand that music is very subjective and that some folks are just not going to like what I do. We all have our personal preferences.   

     
Isaac:  
What role do your family and friends play in the equation of your pursuit of a music career?   

Tony Mecca:  
I've always had the total support of my family and friends - never any detractors. That's where it has to start.   

Isaac:  
What is the best site/s that you can be found on the Internet? The floor is yours; final words…   

Tony Mecca:  
www.TonyMecca.com
Isaac, thank you so much for taking the time to listen to my views and opinions. I write songs about people and life situations. Most of my stories are half true. Unlike most singer/songwriters, I do not let the music drag no matter how heavy the subject matter. Visit my site and sample the music, words and culture of what we do. I think you'll love it!