The Wag in Concert

Photo by Jeff Crespi

The Wag: Rockin’ Out in the New Decade

View the article on Examiner.com: The Wag: Rockin’ Out in the New Decade

The Wag is a name to watch for in 2010. The Middletown, New Jersey-based quartet are not newcomers to the music scene.  This hard-working traveling band have been together for over eleven years. They are seasoned professionals who have opened for a long list of rock and roll notables such as Rick Springfield, Ex-Monkees’ Peter Tork, Jefferson Starship, and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band twice at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. They continue riding the wave of success; making the rounds on local TV and radio appearances and playing in clubs, theaters and festivals. Their newest CD is entitled “Returning Traveler.” It’s their full-length follow up to their previous CD, “Soundtrack to a Silent Movie” on which Alicia Van Sant graces the cover with her viewing a filmstrip with popcorn spilling on the floor!

The new album features the artwork of artist, calligrapher and cartographer Daniel Reeve, (www.danielreeve.co.nz)  who is famous for his impressive work on “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy.  Alicia and Brian O. were headed to New Zealand for a week for a “The Lord of The Rings” tour.  Before they went, they e-mailed Reeve to ask him if he’d like to help them out by supplying the artwork for their new CD and he agreed!  “We told him that we were an unsigned band from NJ, and asked if he’d like to help us out with our new CD. He said yes!”  “We were very pleasantly surprised.” “Another different and interesting thing about this new CD is that, there are a fair amount of acoustic songs on “Returning Traveler“, which is great because we are currently focusing on acoustic shows.”  Van Sant stated.

With three alternating lead vocalists, there’s a diverse feel to every song. The Wag features Brian Mowery (Drums), Alicia Van Sant (Vocals/Keyboards),  Dan Corboy (Guitars/Vocals) and Brian Ostering (Bass/Vocals). The band will be filling up their calendar in the new year; currently on their schedule to close out 2009 is a Christmas show this Tuesday December 22nd at 7 PM in their hometown of Middletown, New Jersey, at the Middletown Arts Center.

Alicia is the only female member in the band. She said it has its advantages being a role model for female fans. “From the perspective of the four of us, I don’t think it would make any difference what gender any of us were, as long as we could do our jobs in the band.  “From an audience standpoint, there aren’t many bands that are all male with the exception of one female, so that makes things interesting.” She continued,  “I’ve had lots of girls – little ones, especially – come up to me & tell me how much they liked seeing a girl singing & playing in a band.  If I can be any kind of inspiration to a little girl (or anyone!) who wants to be in the arts, I’m all for it!”

Their unique sound has been compared to the likes of progressive rockers; The Grateful Dead, The Moody Blues, and ELO. Still, the band manages to maintain their own individuality. “I don’t think we’re a cross between any 2 bands; we have our own sound, that’s for sure!  When people ask us what style of music we play, it’s really hard to answer, because it’s sort of all over the place.  We have some pop songs, some rock, etc.  We kind of cover most genres.”

Van Sant and Ostering met in college where she majored in music. “I come from a musical family.  My bandmates were all previously in bands, and I know that at least Brian O. also comes from a musical family.”

Ostering was already in a band at that time, but eventually that band split up and that’s when they decided to start a new one. They placed an ad in the local paper and recruited current bandmates, Brian Mowery and Dan Corboy. So how did The Wag get its name? “Our guitarist’s wife, Jen, came up with it.  Van Sant explained. “When we first got together, we had a gig booked but still didn’t have a name.”  “We needed one ASAP, but couldn’t agree on each other’s suggestions.”  “Finally, Jen suggested The Wag;  and it stuck.”

Each member contributes to writing and performing their music. There is no official band leader in the group, but they joke that Ostering is the top of the chain of command. “He does the bulk of the work as far as promotion, booking, etc.”  “Brian O. & Dan are the main songwriters. Van Sant said.  She added, “Brian M. also writes, but his main thing (besides playing the drums, of course) seems to be arranging.  I think my main strength is harmonizing vocals.”  “I have written bits & pieces of music & lyrics, but never a full song.  As far as decision making, no matter what the subject is, it’s democratic.”  “We vote on everything (which can be difficult since the band has 4 members!) and everyone has one veto they can use for each decision.”

Van Sant is an avid Moody Blues fan. When asked who she would like the band to open for next, The Moody Blues were at the top of her list. “Any major act is great to open for, providing our music is complementary.  My personal favorite is the Moody Blues, & I could die happy if we got to open for them.  I’d love to open for Rick again – he was a real sweetheart when we opened for him.”   “Really, anyone with the same style of music would be good to open for.”

In terms of what she thought was the band’s best material, it was difficult to determine that. “I have songs that I like better than others on each one.  On Limited Edition (no longer in print): What You Get or I’ll Be the One; on Eighteen Months (also no longer in print): Short DaysYou’ll Hold On, and Yellow Admiral; on Ordinary Day: Queen for a Day and I Still Love You; on Long Story Short: I Got the Girl, Paper Cup, University Bookstore, and To Be With You; on Soundtrack to a Silent MovieI Know Now, Things You Call Your Own, and We Are Here; on Returning Traveler: Your Eyes, Don’t Feel Sorry For Me, The Deal, and To Be With You (same song as on Long Story Short, different version).  See, I told you it was hard to pick!!  Really, I love all of our songs, but those are my top picks from each CD.”

With 2010 rapidly approaching, the Wag’s New Years’ resolution (even though they don’t make them) is to sign with a major or independent label so they can concentrate on their music.  Alicia had some advice for aspiring musicians. She emphasized that “Practice makes perfect!”  “I hate practicing.  But you’ve gotta be good at what you do, or no one will want to listen to you.  It’s very hard to find places that will have original bands, too, send out tons of press kits, & promote yourself everywhere you can.  But don’t be annoying.” With the dawning of the internet age, the band markets themselves on the internet. “We’re on YouTube, Facebook, MySpace & Twitter; we’d love to sign with a label, but everything seems to revolve around money & how many people you can bring to a club before you generate any label interest.” she said.

The band’s next move is to continue making great music and win over new fans. “As long as it’s fun for us (and it has been for over 11 years), we’ll continue, and hopefully a label will take notice so that our music can go even further than it has.  We’d like to reach as many people as possible.” Vant Sant said.

For more info: http://www.thewagband.com