Paparazzi Death Squad
Band: Paparazzi Death Squad
Members: Jason Robison, vocals; Mike Steeley, guitar; Nathan Minnich, guitar; Warren Anderson, drums; Emmanuel Tsogas, bass; Reese Harlacher, guitar (added for reunion show)
Who we talked to: Tsogas
How did you guys get together? I would say it was junior year of high school in 1997. It started off as a regular garage band, and it kind of went from there. It was just a learning experience in the beginning. (We went to) West York (Area) High School. Before we started the band, most of us had been playing for a couple years . . . and this was our first serious band. (We were together) from 1997 to about the year 2000 . . . when we broke up. This is going to be the 10-year reunion show.
Where did the name come from? At the time, it was around Princess Diana's death. (The word "paparazzi") was being thrown around in the news a lot. We took that and added death squad to it because at the time, we were into a lot of death metal music.
Who were your influences? Between all five of us, we listened to a big variety of music. It was a lot of early- to mid-'90s hardcore bands like Converge . . . and then, like, classic punk bands like Black Flag, the Misfits (and) Dead Kennedys.
Describe your sound and style. It was like a mixture of heavy metal and punk rock and hardcore. At the time, we were still learning how to play our instruments, so it kind of sounded like a band conglomeration of the good stuff we listened to.
Did you go to a lot of shows back in the day? We kind of came up in the local punk rock scene, so a lot of the shows we went to . . . were friends' of ours. That was inspiring just to see your friends play and just to realize that you guys are doing it together and learning the ropes as far as music goes. As far as bigger concerts and stuff, . . . I think we went and saw Ozzy (Osbourne) at the York Fair in 1995.
Any crazy stories? Our singer, Jason, is kind of a nut. People around here knew him and knew his antics. But whenever we would play out of town or out of state, people usually were just confused or mesmerized by his stage antics. He's comparable to the lead singer of Bad Brains. He jumps around a lot and gets really into it (and) climbs things. He's anywhere but on the stage.
What was the York music scene like back in the '90s? There was a lot of talented kids playing a lot of good music. There (were) people involved in promoting shows. It was a tight-knit community of kids doing it themselves and having shows in basements and fire halls and rec centers and just operating outside the bar and club scene.
What's changed for you guys? (We're) getting older, getting married and having careers. (Laughs) Sometimes, I'll see the people who I knew back in the day, and they're just older and starting families and starting careers. But I still see them as the people I grew up with playing music and going to shows and stuff.
How has the music industry changed? We didn't entertain any thought of rock stardom or tour buses and this and that. We put our own money into it, but we also learned how to do everything ourselves. With the way things are going nowadays, bands are more interested in hitting it big or being famous instead of writing good music.
Why did you guys decide to break up? Our drummer actually was moving to Philadelphia. He joined another band down there, so it kind of made practicing . . . a little hard. Then, our guitarist, Mike, his equipment was stolen out of his car. So it just seemed like a good point to stop there. (Laughs) We had a lot of fun doing it. It was a little hard, but life moves on.
What made you guys want to get back together for the reunion show? Personally, I didn't want to do it, but the other guys convinced me to do it. It was something that would be fun. We're all still in touch. Even after Paparazzi Death Squad broke up, myself and some of the other guys continued in some other bands together.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF