As much as I would sometimes love to do away with social media, it’s a great source for finding new music. And that’s something this father of three depends on to stay current with the music scene. Late on a Saturday night last month, my friend Josiah (Karaoke, Running From Dharma) shared a song by The Give Take from Harrisburg, PA. I trust Josi’s musical preferences as we share a liking for many of the same bands. So I gave the song a listen, did a little digging, and found the frontman was also in The Virus, a punk band based in Philadelphia who recently reunited for a string of shows. There is a marked distinction between the two bands, and I liked the song’s pop rock inclination. I sent a message to vocalist Paul Sorrels that night. I asked for an interview and he responded just minutes later.
Even though The Give Take is relatively new to the scene, they’ve been together since 2012. The band took an unorthodox approach to being a band – write music, record an album, and then play shows. Thinking back to my old band’s first show, we played a 4-song set just because the opportunity was there to play. Perhaps we, and many other bands, could have benefitted from a similar approach. It clearly worked for The Give Take. Check out their debut album and hear for yourself.
Thanks to Paul Sorrels (vocals, guitar), Glen Charron (guitar), Ian Gordon (bass), Shea Saman (drums), and Michael Washkevich (recording engineer) for talking with us about The Give Take.
GLEN: The Give Take formed in mid to late 2012 when Shea, Ian and I began playing with another guitar player. He suggested we reach out to Paul and have him come check out a practice. I knew Paul as an acquaintance through my best friend Aaron who had previously played in the band Kamikaze Zero with him many years back. I have also been a Virus fan for many years. Paul luckily liked what he heard and stuck around.
PAUL: Initially, I was asked to sing in the band. We lost a guitar player and I took over rhythm and vocals. I knew Glen as he was a longtime friend of another guitar player I had a band with years ago. But he and I had only spoke at shows a handful of times.
IAN: I have known Glen and Shea for about 13 years. We have played in numerous bands together in that time period.
GLEN: We were all introduced through a mutual friend and have been playing together on and off ever since. Shea, Ian, and I recently had another rock project that never really did much but that gave us the drive to keep looking for the right people and the right sound. Prior to that band, Shea and I played together in the local band The Machetes for a few years.
SHEA: The Machetes was a four-piece punk band heavily influenced by bands like Social Distortion, Dropkick Murphy’s, and the Bouncing Souls. I also played in a punk/psychobilly band called Jaxy and the Three 57’s with some other friends of mine. Most recently, Glen, Ian and I were part of a short-lived project called Black Eyed Susan; a loud and fast rock and roll band. Initially, we carried a lot of that influence into The Give Take before we really honed in on our current style and sound.
IAN: My musical influences include Beatles and Ramones. Pretty much anything with a catchy melody and vocal harmonies.
GLEN: I am heavily influenced by a lot of Swedish rock bands like The Helacopters, Backyard Babies, and Gluecifer. Our sound is really different than them but I certainly bring a little of that into the mix. I am also a HUGE Guns n Roses fan and try to throw a little Izzy Stradlin into my rhythm playing. We have all been in the punk and hardcore scenes in the past and still love them dearly, but it is mostly a masculine crowd. We wanted to appeal to everyone and cross the boundaries of age and image.
PAUL: Like most musicians, our influences are all over the place. We are certainly not trying to write songs that fit a genre. The goal is to write music we enjoy that has a pop sensibility and a broad range of influences. So far those that have heard us have compared us to The Cars, Gin Blossoms, Paul Westerberg, Cheap Trick, Urge Overkill, Guns N Roses, and The Hives. I dig most of those bands, so I am cool with that. Lyrically there are a lot of songs about girls, relationships, and drugs.
SHEA: We share a common interest in writing good songs. In our minds, the songs don’t need to be complicated, but we still try to make them interesting and appealing. Strong lead and backing vocals are a constant focus of ours, and the more we write, the more we try and incorporate that element into each one. At most “writing” practices, we can usually put together a one or two new songs in draft form.
GLEN: We consider our first practice to be the first time we played with the current lineup. That night we solidified “Your Last Day” as our first completed song and I believe we laid the groundwork out for “Ten Pills” as well.
IAN: The first practice felt special. Paul tends to bring majority of the ideas to the table. We work on them together to put the finishing touches on the songs.
PAUL: From around 2008-2012 I did not play in any bands. I hardly played at all. I was focused on my business, which was quickly growing. I think that four years got bottled up, because lately every time I pick up my guitar I come up with something worth saving. I usually try to write 2-4 parts of a song and a melody. Lyrics usually come later, but sometimes happen organically. I record all my ideas to my iPhone. From there we arrange the song as a group, record it again at rehearsal, listen to playback between rehearsals, and continue to tweak it. The Give Take is a backup heavy band. I was excited to find out everyone could carry a tune at the first rehearsal. We try to write in backups, harmonies, and second melodies wherever we can. We rehearsed for two months as a five piece, and then twelve months as a four piece before we went into the studio.
GLEN: We took a bit of a different approach to playing life in the sense that we wanted to have enough songs to not only record a full length album, but also pick and choose our set lists. This allowed us to go into the studio knowing that although we had written 18 songs at the time the ones chosen to be recorded were the strongest. We wanted to hit the scene with a CD, shirts, and other merchandise in hand to show that we were serious about what we were doing.
PAUL: I have seen too many new bands hit the stage prematurely. Songs are not polished; they have little or no merchandise to sell. Being in a band is expensive, and the only way for a new band to make money to is sell shit.
SHEA: Our goal was to have an album in hand by the time we played our first show. We almost made it, but we were offered a few shows in the Spring that we couldn’t say ‘no’ to.
IAN: I’m glad we waited to play our first show for so long. I feel like a lot of bands get anxious and try to play out before they’re ready. Our first show was at the end of March at a local venue called Harrisburg Music and Arts Center (HMAC).
GLEN: We played with Betty Bolan, The 91’s, and The Line that night. Everyone put on a killer show and we had a blast. The highlight of the night was hearing feedback about the performance for the first time as well as seeing The Line back on stage.
PAUL: It was The Line’s CD release show, and Josh, their front man, is a very old friend of mine. Initially, we were going to wait to have the record ready to start playing out, but I was excited to play on the bill with an old friend. The Line killed it, but Josh told me later he thought we stole the show.
SHEA: For me personally, this show felt more like a reunion than anything; many of our close friends were there to support us, and we have a lot of good history with the other bands on the bill. We played our hearts out that night, and everyone seemed to have a great time, especially us.
PAUL: At our next show we will have CDs, shirts, pins, and stickers for sale. We also hope to find a label. It is impossible to do so without a decent recording.
IAN: We started recording our 10 song album in December. A friend and former coworker of mine, Mike Washkevich, engineered our recording. I recorded with Mike twice before in different bands, small 3 – 4 song EPs.
PAUL: The record was produced by Michael Washkevich and The Give Take. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Michael at MDW Productions in Harrisburg, PA.
MICHAEL: When I was first contacted about the project, it was a bit surprising, as I had not heard of them before. Usually, a band comes to me after they’ve established themselves playing in regional venues. Since I know all of the guys- having no idea something was going on was different than the norm. I came to find that they had never played a show. It was their mission to put together an album of great material and grow as a great band before they had even stepped out on stage. They knew from past experience you only get one chance to make a first impression, and the audience doesn’t want to be your guinea pigs while you figure it out. They wanted to have a body of work with which to make a strong debut.
GLEN: We started pre-production in early fall last year but didn’t actually get into the studio until November of 2013. We initially had 9 songs lined up but added a 10th just before heading in. We wrote something special and felt it would make a great addition to what was already set to be recorded.
MICHAEL: At the point they contacted me, they had been working out material in a practice room for a while and felt they were ready to move into the studio. Production for the record was actually very traditional. Their vision was to keep the production sparse enough to be replicated live. With that mission- it really guided us as to when a song was done, and kept additional overdubs to a minimum. This is very much a “real” rock record. The band isn’t edited to a grid. The drums are all real. No samples were used at all. It ebbs and flows like a real band and you can hear it in spots. It’s what gives it life and character. I’m not a fan of rock records that are note for note perfect. Humans in a room don’t do that, and if it doesn’t move and breath- then it just comes off as mechanical and lifeless. We began going over songs and tweaking things further once I got involved in September of 2013. The songs came to me in great shape in a rehearsal space. We just tweaked a few arrangements/ tempos/ parts to take it to the next level. Then production moved into my studio. We tracked the drums and bass for the whole record over a weekend at my place in December of 2013. We began work on overdubs shortly after and that continued into April 2014. I mixed the record over April and May.
GLEN: For me the most challenging parts of recording were guitar leads and backup vocals. I have never been a lead guitar playing in previous bands so it was something new. I am kind of learning as I go and this band is pushing me to up my game with every song I write. We are also a vocal heavy band with each of us contributing to back up vocals. They have never been my strong point in the past but I have finally become comfortable with these guys and everything seems to click really well.
MICHAEL: As with all new bands- they’re in a strong growth period. It’s inevitable in that case for them to progress into an even better band than they we’re when we first started the project. Aside from becoming a better performing unit- I know they’ve written a bunch of new material since we started. Good thing there is they’ll have a great bunch of songs to work from for their next record much sooner than most. As Paul has said, and I agree- “My favorite song is the next one”. With a group as prolific as The Give Take, they’re sure to keep fans wanting more. As for fans of The Virus, they’ll be surprised by The Give Take. They have a very accessible sound. That wasn’t my work- it’s all them. Paul is a great songwriter- not to mention a wildly underrated vocalist. Perhaps it’s just because he hasn’t been seen as much in a band where he can sing as melodically as he does with The Give Take. Folks are going to be surprised when they hear just how exceptional he is.
PAUL: The Virus is an aggressive street punk band, heavily influenced by UK 82 British hardcore punk. The Give Take makes pop rock songs. The only common denominator is me, but I think fans of The Virus will be taken back by what they hear me doing with The Give Take. I sing in The Give Take, whereas The Virus is mostly screaming. The Give Take is melody driven, The Virus is tempo driven. These two bands are night and day as far as style.
IAN: I was heavily into the punk scene through high school and I listened to The Virus when I would skate board with friends.
SHEA: I knew about The Virus when I was in high school, and I think it’s awesome that those guys have the opportunity to keep it going today. Somewhere, I have one of their albums; but ironically, I have never seen them play live.
GLEN: I was lucky enough to get out to a lot of shows in my teenage years and saw The Virus many times back then. I didn’t know Paul at that time but spent many nights at fire halls singing along to their songs.
PAUL: The Virus getting together has been a blast…but we are playing songs from 15 years ago. As a musician my fire does not burn to play songs from my twenties. I am flattered and honored that The Virus has retained so many fans, and that we still have the ability to tour and play shows. Every show is a blast, and the fans are die hards. Honestly, it has all been quite surreal. More than any of that though, I was glad that I had the opportunity to rekindle friendships with Virus bandmates. It is important to note that from 2004 to 2013 The Virus was disbanded. The Give Take started rehearsing in December of 2012, so this band was coming together before The Virus even discussed a reunion. Starting a new band is rad because you have a blank slate. There are no expectations, and there is little if any direction. There are no labels, or promoters, or booking agents…no website to maintain, no social networking to update. In short, it is just about the music…and that is a beautiful and rare moment for a band. That all changes quickly if you find even a small amount of success.
GLEN: At this time we have already done a limited release of 100 hand number copies. They are available at our upcoming shows. Our official CD release show is at Ted’s Bar and Grill on June 22nd where we will be playing with Highway HiFi. It is 100% self-released for the time being, but we intend on getting our press kit together and sending it to any label we think would be a good fit. We all have serious day jobs and families at home, but if the right deal is offered we would not hesitate to jump at the chance to make music for a living. I work full time as a Research and Development Test Technician for a company that builds parts for rail cars. I love my job and am very thankful that it allows me to provide for my family. I am blessed to have a wife that runs her own photography business (Little Lion Photography) which allows her to be at home during the day with our son and daughter while I am at work. That allows her a flexible schedule that we use to work in band practices and gigs.
IAN: I work in the IT security field. I have no problem juggling the band and family life. I have a supportive fiancé that plays drums in a cover band.
PAUL: The only way I do not go crazy or get into trouble is by staying really busy. My balance has always been to not stop moving. I have a 12 year old daughter, I ride in a sober motorcycle club, I have a large family I am very close to, and my wife and I own a 100 year old home that is in constant need of upkeep. My career entails owning/operating four tattoo studios and a tattoo and piercing supply company. We employ about 30 people. I often hear the phrase “I don’t know how you do it”. The trick to juggling such a variety of responsibilities successfully is to do so surrounded by quality people. Our work crew, the bands, the club, and most importantly my family all help to make my busy schedule not only manageable, but successful. The other ingredient is communication and organization.
SHEA: Everyone in the band has a pretty full plate outside of the band. I’m an accountant by trade, and I work for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. It can be a challenge juggling a busy job and a demanding band, but we are all committed to what we do and love doing it.
IAN: Everyone has contributed and supported one another in the process.
GLEN: I think we have a chemistry that takes some bands years to get, if they ever get it at all. We are all able to speak our mind without offending each other and that really helps make the songs the best that they can be. I think we really locked in a great set of songs for this first album that work together.
SHEA: I’m extremely proud of our first album, but at the same time, I can’t wait to record all of the new music we have been writing.
PAUL: We hope to find a label and get back into the studio. We have written 8 new songs that we are really excited about. We hope to play out of town as much as we can. I am working on shows in New York, State College, and Baltimore. Beyond that, we are all just going to see where the ride takes us…we are in for the long run.
Thanks to The Give Take and Michael Washkevich for sharing their thoughts on the band. For studio and recording information, please email Michael or visit MDW Productions on Facebook. In addition to the band, Paul owns and operates 717 Tattoo and Razorblade Products Inc. for your Tattoo, Body Piercing, and Medical Supply needs.
The Give Take is celebrating the release of the first full-length album on June 22 at Ted’s Bar and Grill in Harrisburg, PA. Click here for more information. Listen to, and buy, their new album on Bandcamp. Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook for the latest updates.
Thank you for reading and listening! Please follow SoCenPA Archives on Facebook. I have one more current band I’m hoping to interview this month before turning more attention back to some older bands.