Lounging not allowed
Pop punk band All is Well keeps you on your feet
Simply by chance, the five members of pop punk band All is Well have something in common. It’s a commonality that can confuse new friends of the band or journalists meeting them for the first time.
“Hi, I’m Joe.”
“You guys are probably gonna have to repeat that,” I tell them.
The members of All is Well may have alphabetical uniformity, but sameness is not something they’re after in the music scene. Two of the members are into hardcore punk. One likes gutter punk. One’s down with old Metallica. One member wears a tie (a bit ironically, of course); another sports a bihawk (that’s the two-spike version of a mohawk). But to stand out on the Reno music front, All is Well plays “emo pop punk” at all-age venues around town. While most bands go hard, they say, All is Well goes light—but light with kick.
“A lot of shows in Reno are hardcore or ska,” says lead singer Joe Harness. “I just wanted to start a band that didn’t sound like everybody else.”
“Plus,” he adds teasingly, “I scream like a little girl, so I can’t be a hardcore singer.”
And the screams aren’t just outlets for anger or self-derisive angst. All is Well members Harness, guitarists Josh Bonano and James McMorran, bassist Jeff Melewski and drummer Justin Deflores like to write songs their audiences can relate to, songs about everyday life. “Twelve Dozen” is about having a dubious relationship with Valentine’s Day. Harness wrote the song “Shadow Lane,” named after Shadow Lane in Sparks, while delivering a pizza to a house behind Reed High School.
All is Well is, in fact, very into audience participation. The band played at Innerchange, an all-ages venue at Crosswinds Church in Sparks, on a recent Friday night. By the time they were ready to go on stage, the room was filled with teens lounging on couches. All is Well would have none of it—even though they themselves had brought in many of the lounging amenities earlier. Before getting on stage, the band members carried away the couches.
“Nobody’s sitting,” they told the crowd.
And indeed, nobody sat, save for a few stragglers in the back of the room. The audience flanked the stage and fell into the rhythm. The band members themselves, caught up in the energetic pop punk melodies, jumped crazily on stage. On the last song, one guy shot up to the stage and began dancing willy-nilly, flinging his arms and legs out with abandon. The band thanked him gratefully for his excitement.
Craziness, the band says, follows them into their party lives. The band recently took a trip to the Silver Queen Hotel in Virginia City. They stayed in Room No. 11, a room where a prostitute once died and is rumored still to haunt. The band fully believes in the haunting. They heard “pounding” on the walls throughout the night. A dollar bill they placed in the bathroom moved mysteriously. While the band’s former guitarist lodged in the bathtub for the night, the other four members sought solace on the queen-sized bed.
“That’s the only time I would ever cuddle,” Melewski remarked.
Most of the time, it’s all about ecstatic leaping to the pop punk tunes.