Showing themselves: apathetic on their new EP

img_2165By Emyle Watkins

Features Contributor

BUFFALO – Make sure you review your static night vision cameras. That’s right, boys, we’re going in!

Really though, who is out there trying to instigate communication with Billy J. Weiner, the ghost of a man who hung himself with twelve raw hot dogs in Hamlin Park?

Four kids from Springville, New York – that’s who. While they’re at it, they’re also making some punk-rock music for all those days you feel like a god-awful friend.

This is apathetic, a group of twenty-somethings, starting up a new wave of “alternative ghost rock” (emphasis, on the ‘ghost’) in Buffalo. Recently, they saw the release of their second EP, “Show Yourself,” along with their music video and single for “Hey Elliot.”

So, what’s the first thing you should know about apathetic?

“One thing… we gotta put on the table is that we are all huge fans of the show Ghost Adventures,” apathetic’s drummer Brett Ballachino said.

The band’s music video for “Hey Elliot” runs the majority of its plot and inspiration off of the show Ghost Adventures. The video opens with the band, acting as the pseudo-cast of Ghost Adventures, investigating the death Billy J. Weiner, who died in the ‘Hot Dog Household’ after killing himself with twelve raw hot dogs. Kody Fintak, apathetic’s guitarist and vocalist, said this was largely inspired by their wifi network, which is also named ‘Hot Dog Household’.

Fintak also added that it wasn’t just the band’s music video that was inspired by a television show about “a bunch of college ‘jabronies’ that try to… find ghosts.”

“[On Ghost Adventures], they’re like, ‘is there really a ghost in here? Show yourself! Show yourself! Come out in this room and punch me in the face right now,” Fintak explained, referencing an episode of the show.

This moment in Ghost Adventures would lead to the name “Show Yourself” for their second EP, which was released on January 27.

“We were all like, ah, that’s a funny, dumb joke, because of Ghost Adventures, and then we were like yeah, that’s actually kind of, like, a sick phrase,” Ballachino added.

Ballachino and Fintak are both 2012 graduates of Springville-Griffith Institute CSD, located in Springville, New York. Their bandmates, Jeremiah Anderson and Nick Benstead, who play guitar and bass respectively, as well as sing in the band, are also graduates of Springville-Griffith, graduating the year after Ballachino and Fintak. For four small-town boys who traversed adolescence together and went on to play music together as they complete college, “Show Yourself” as a collection of songs is an homage to where they are in life and the things they are coming to terms with.

“Nothing was really intentional, but there’s just so many changes in our life right now,” Fintak said, speaking to the fact most of the band is graduating, or has graduated, college, and now are dealing with “early twenties nonsense.”

While each song does have its own meaning, it seems to be the theme of the EP really draws on stories of admitting where you are in life, and learning to have honesty with yourself. “Waiting at the Door,” the first song on the album, sums this mindset up with the lyric, “I have to be more honest with myself.”

Ballachino, who created the cover art, also described how the image of the car window tied back to “Show Yourself”.

“I think, like, driving back and forth, like to and from, is just a time for you to think about just bulls****, just, like, anything that comes to mind. I feel like that’s always times when I’m like, ‘yeah, dude, just, like, really prove that, like, you can do this, or just show yourself,’” Ballachino said.

Currently, three members of the band reside together in Buffalo. Fintak is in the process of completing his Bachelors in Computer Science at the University at Buffalo, and Anderson is also studying Computer Science, however, at Canisius College. Ballachino graduated last year from Buffalo State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and currently works at a deli between touring with bands, such as Cute is What We Aim For, as a concert photographer. Benstead lives an hour outside of Buffalo, studying at SUNY Fredonia, where he majors in History with a concentration in Russian History.

Their songs, which are mostly written by Fintak, Anderson, and Benstead, not only also draw inspiration from real life but also have just as many unique stories as the name “Show Yourself” did.

“Well, to be quite honest, I was very drunk, and I had just finished watching Scrubs all the way through. [I] sat down with a guitar and played it,” Benstead added over speakerphone, in reference to their song, “Hey Elliot”.

Since the inspiration spurred from Elliot in Scrubs, the band also considered shooting the video at Sisters of Charity Hospital of Buffalo; however, that’s not the easiest feat for a group of college-aged guys to accomplish.

As creative as their sound, stories, and band are, apathetic also has truly original roots. Fintak and Ballachino, who have known each other since childhood, jumped into the music scene with their first band, “BK Fries,” as young teens.

“Our MySpace photo was the Burger King logo, but we just crossed out ‘Burger King’ and wrote ‘Brett Kody’ over it in Paint, and then I wrote ‘fries’ underneath it,” Ballachino stated.

According to Anderson, connections between the now-members of apathetic began to form in high school, when he and Ballachino began to play music together.

“We were in three different, like, completely different bands, like stupid bands. One was a hardcore thing, one was pop-punk. Those never really went anywhere, but we were always trying to do something more serious,” Anderson said, recalling his initial times playing with Ballachino.

Fintak became involved with the band when Anderson and Ballachino realized they all enjoyed similar music, and formed the band “Outlive” during their senior year of high school. At the time, they played with a different bassist, Dylan Zalikowski, another Springville student.

However, as Zalikowski became more busy with musicals, the band invited Benstead to play a show with them.

“And then our band just sounded different,” Fintak recalled.

Benstead began writing songs for the group and became an official member of the band. With Zalikowski out, the boys decided to rename the group. Well, everyone besides Ballachino.

“I think our band name– I just want to say, on the record, that I think our new band name is so dumb. I like our old one better,” Ballachino remarked.

When asked why they chose the name apathetic, the boys had this to say:

“Ooh, yeah! Ask these f****ing guys!” Ballachino exclaimed.

Anderson then jumped in, saying, “We had other people around the same age as us like, acting all serious about trying to be bands and stuff, and we never had that drive. We took our music seriously, but it wasn’t like we took ourselves seriously.”

“We took our songwriting even more seriously,” Fintak added, as Anderson continued, “Yeah, but everybody else was trying to be this big person in the scene.”

“Yeah, we never gave a sh** about that,” Fintak replied.

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