The New-Jersey-based collective flex their musical muscles with the release of their highly anticipated ‘High Charisma’ LP.
In the musical realm, the genre of swing has long occupied a mystical position. Swing is an enigma that defies definition; it thrives on individual interpretation, eludes genre constraints, and slips through the cracks of convention. Attempting to capture it is like grasping at smoke, and yet,
The Extensions, a five-piece band from Asbury Park, NJ, have managed to infuse swing into their indie rock DNA with astonishing skill and finesse. Their new LP, “High Charisma,” showcases The Extension’s ability to infuse and channel the elusive swing to the highest degree. The sky is truly the limit if it’s any indication of the type of music we can consistently expect from them.
Initially a side project for its members, The Extensions has since evolved into a force to be reckoned with. Since their debut EP, 'Bellicose,' released in 2019, The Extensions have relentlessly honed their craft and established themselves as consummate professionals behind the scenes and electrifying, must-see entertainers on stage.
Mint 400 Records recognized their immense potential early on and welcomed them into their illustrious roster, and they haven’t looked back since. While the Covid-19 pandemic would prove a monumental roadblock for many, The Extensions instead found the time to craft a masterpiece in their “High Charisma” LP, and they continue to push their musical limits every time they step in the studio or on the stage.
“My Turn,” one of the new offerings on 'High Charisma,' provides listeners with an exciting segway into “The Extensions” musical universe. Over upbeat vocals that channel the spirit of swing (surprise!), lyrics like “I tried love, I tried sex / I tried listening, I tried my best” are delivered with a careful ease that combines with the instrumentals that create an irresistible groove that’ll have you wanting to dance.
Will Blakey - bass
Becca Cristino - guitar, vocals Brian Erickson - vocals, guitar, songwriter Lisa LoVell - keys, vocals, percussion Pete Stern - drums, percussion
Welcome to BuzzMusic The Extensions, and congratulations on your latest single, "My Turn." This single is so vibrant and groovy. Can you take us through the creative process of putting that track together?
Brian: Lyrically, it’s a song about entitlement and what we think we deserve if we wait for something to happen. Then we get angry, and we point fingers, etc. And eventually, hopefully, we can be introspective enough to learn the lesson. Musically, “When I Get Home” by The Beatles and “Jackie Dressed in Cobras” by New Pornographers were big inspirations. I love when vocals trade off and Lisa and Becca absolutely nailed the assignment! They took the lyrics off the page and made the emotions their own. And, so far, this is the only song I’ve ever written that starts with the chorus. I always wanted to do that!
How did the members of The Extensions meet, and was it love at first sight?
Pete: Brian and I met at a basement show in New Brunswick, NJ, in 2015; we reconnected at a Scharpling & Wurster show in Philly and then finally talked about starting a band together at the Inkwell Coffee House (RIP) a year later.
Lisa: I was with The Viewers Like You, and Brian filled in on bass for a show at The Saint. Pete, Brian, and our original bassist Kevin played that show, too. I got drawn into The Extensions because it was a place where I could finally be creative and collaborative with my ideas.
Becca: The band was already going strong when they decided to take me in. I was an enamored local fan already, and I learned the whole Bellicose EP hoping they might let me join.
Will: I was being attacked by a group of rogue titans, doing my best to hold them at bay, when The Extensions heard my struggle, jumped in, and loaned a hand which allowed me to turn the tide.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
Will: It’s music without borders. Nobody puts Baby in the corner, and nobody puts The Extensions in a box!
Pete & Lisa: Not trying to be pretentious, but it’s hard. There’s so much variety song-to-song, but if we were pressed, maybe indie/pop/alternative.
Apart from “My Turn,” are there other songs from High Charisma that you’re especially excited to share with fans?
Will: “Charm Offensive.” I’m all about songs with a drive, and that’s got such a good one!
Lisa: “Casual Day” has a unique time signature, and I get to play percussion! Also, I will mention “Isn’t It a Party” because it’s my first solo vocal song on a record, and I got past a lot of anxiety to make that one happen.
Becca: The boundless nature of the studio really let us get as eerie and atmospheric as possible with “Typical Amerikan,” and I’m beyond excited to have that one out in the world finally.
Pete: “Big Tree” is a live favorite, and I always get excited about how those songs turn out on record.
What’s the best part of seeing your first full-length LP come to life?
Will: For me, knowing that the songs people have come to enjoy at our live shows can now be taken home with them. Then, when they come to the next show, we’ll see them singing our songs right back to us.
Becca: It’s surreal to realize that I’m now a part of something I always viewed as magical when I was a kid. The process of making and releasing an album always seemed like a far-off daydream, something only my childhood rock and roll heroes did. But it turns out the magic is real, and it exists in local music and DIY scenes; it’s made by regular humans, by artists. You can get out there, work, and make it happen!
Lisa: Making this LP lets us showcase everyone’s talents and how well we work together to create these badass songs.
Pete: We’ve been talking about this in some form since 2019, so the fact that it’s real is gratifying. It's the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.
What do you hope listeners will take away from listening to the album from front to back?
Pete: How much work went into it, how much fun we had writing and recording it, and how well we all work as a collective unit.
Lisa: That we ebb and flow creatively. One minute you’re dancing; the next minute, you’re rocking out.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout out for helping the band get to where you are now?
Pete: Our original bassist, Kevin Newcomb, who was a key part of creating several of these songs
Lisa: Brian, for pushing me. Even if he was a pain, it got me out of my comfort zone, and the music speaks for itself.
Brian: Hahaha! Sorry ‘bout that, Lis! I’m going with Kevvy for the same reasons Pete gave. Also, Neil Sabatino from Mint 400 Records signed us in 2019 before we had any music. Pete and Lisa for being part of the Founding Members Club, and Becca and Will for flying in and completing the puzzle.