"We never let starvation or icy roads get in our way", muses Max Bernstein, singer/guitarist of The Actual.
Indeed, the ultra-literate punk-pop combo, rounded out by guitarist + singer Ben Flanagan and brothers Jeremy and Aaron Bonsall on bass & drums have covered many a mile on little more than a healthy dose of we-think-we-can and an '82 Econoline that thankfully shares that sentiment. Shortly after their first show on Easter Sunday of 2001, The Actual have spent most of their time on tour playing pretty much to anyone who would listen at just about any place that would book them, sometimes with questionable results. "We played to a room full of angry bikers in Idaho once. That caused me to rethink my booking policy," says Max.
Thankfully, people DID start to listen, and one of those people was rock legend Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, who promptly signed the band to his new RED/New West/SonyBMG co-venture Softdrive Records. Scott took the band out of the bars and basements and onto a string of arena shows with Velvet Revolver, and co-produced the bands new album. Max adds: "We played a hotel bar in Nevada to 12 people one night and the next night pulled our van up to the Aladdin in Las Vegas and played to 4,000 people. It was pretty ridiculous."
The album In Stitches, produced by Douglas Grean and co-produced by Weiland, is a fantastic 13-song juggernaut of smartypants punk-pop that while sung from the heart is obviously carefully filtered through a serious set of brains (Max is the son of writer Nora Ephron and Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein the band's literary complexity is pretty unavoidable.)
The leadoff single "This Is The Worst Day of My Life (Do You Want To Come Over)" might be the catchiest song since "It's a Small World" until it morphs into a grandiose Queen-esque outro. "Dancing On The Perimeter" channels Placebo, The Go-Gos and Husker Du into a dance-punk anthem about being afraid of dancing. "Stay In My Rectangle" sounds like Alkaline Trio taking a shot at Dinosaur Jr.'s best work. Aaron's quick-wristed drumming and Jeremy's staccato lines weave around Max's raspy voice which is thankfully nothing like the typical over-earnest emo whine that has become inescapable.
Listen up for The Actual stopping in your town this Winter and bringing you In Stitches in May 2007.
"...he knows his way around both a melodic hook and an understated chorus"
Law of Inertia "If there's any disc in the world that proves pop-punk is still very much alive and a viable source of enjoyment, let The Actual's debut full-length be the harbinger of such greatness."