The Takeover UK

J. Eliot DeGolia

The crowd, which was positively electric, almost immediately inched forward toward the stage, leaving just enough room for the drinks being brought up for the members of the final band.

There was certainly much anticipation for the third and final portion of the concert at the Brillobox. The main event was introduced by Satin Gum and Landline, two unique local sounds. The crowd, which was positively electric, almost immediately inched forward toward the stage, leaving just enough room for the drinks being brought up for the members of the final band. The chatter increased more so than before the other groups. Anyone could sense that the energy level had gone up.

the energy level had gone up. The Lawrenceville venue is a black and white neo-Victorian style room lined with counters and a red booth on one side. The small chandelier toward the front of the stage gives the place the perfect amount of class. The band got ready to begin their first jam. I’ve never been so sick before. You’ve never been dope sick before. I’ve never felt so sick before ‘cause I’ve never been dope sick before. And within the first few moments of music the drinks followed the energy.

When you hear the name The Takeover UK do you think of a band from Europe? If so, you’re sadly mistaken... sort of. In fact, you should think a little closer to home. The band’s original members - Nic Snyder, Mark Solomich, Josh Sickels, and Adam Shash - coined the name, after the Jay-Z song, in 2004 when they were finally reunited back in Pittsburgh. To Go & Crash Interviews!, the band said, “We wanted to name our band The Takeover but that was already a band. We’re into a lot of the older Brit bands who came to America and had to add UK to their name, so we did, as a joke, and it stuck.” All of the band’s members - including new bassist Derek White - hail from the Steel City and have been gaining an impressive local popularity over the past five years what with all the high octane performances at venues like the Brillobox and their addictively catchy lyrics that keep their crowds engaged. Interestingly enough, they do have just the right amount of Brit brash flavor emanating through their music, making the addition of UK more than just a joke.

Their association dates back to when Snyder, Sickels and Shash all attended Norwin High School together in the Pittsburgh area. Snyder, son of former Iron City Houserockers member, Gil Snyder, plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Sickels is notorious for playing as a drummer in various bands throughout Pittsburgh. He has sometimes fronted and has also assumed the position of drum duty. The position of Shash, former bassist for The Takeover UK, is now being filled by Derek White, who has certainly made a name for himself in the local music scene – he fronted the group Derek White and The Monophobics. Solomich plays guitar, keyboards and share lead vocals with Snyder. Solomich and Sickels met while in different bands in their youth. Solomich also played for Disturbed Youth, A for Arson, and 53rd Street. During this time he lived in Squirrel Hill and attended Central Catholic High School.

It was about a year and half ago when the band decided to quit their day jobs and make music full-time. At the time, Sickels delivered flowers, Snyder worked as a farm hand, Solomich was a banker, and Shash was a computer engineer. (You’ll be quizzed at the end so hopefully you aren’t already confused by the fact that their names all begin with “S.”) Snyder and Solomich, the band’s two singer/ songwriters, have definitely taken the term “fulltime” seriously. They’ve given the band over 200 songs, writing virtually every day.

On and off again, Solomich and Snyder would be dueling guitars, which worked out well since Mark, on the left, is left-handed. The two also really enjoy sharing their mics. Bassist White really stomps on the floor so as to permeate his notes even deeper into the room’s layers; of people or whatever. So much about this band is familiar but everything about them seems fresh and energetic. They had their first official release, It’s All Happening, an EP, in May of last year. Their first single and most definitely their most addictive song, “Ah La La,” prompted most of the audience to sing along - often louder than the band. It still is a gem and also has an accompanying video which can be found on YouTube. Their most recent label is their first full album, Running with the Wasters. The band originally wanted to release a double album since they have literally hundreds of songs ready for a label. But Rykodisc – the name on both the album and the EP – didn’t like the idea

The Takeover UK has certainly held numerous high voltage performances in many Pittsburgh locations, which explains the high excitement of their local listeners and audiences. The irony in TTUK is that their tour consists of many venues across the entire country, and yet they still haven’t traveled to Europe, or more appropriately the UK. However, the band is very eager to do so. The music of The Takeover UK and its members are deeply inspired by the UK’s indie scene. This influence stems from groups such as The Beatles’ classical beats and The Clash. They are also influenced by the original Punk Rock grooves of the Ramones and people like Phil Spector. Some other groups that TTUK like include Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, The Libertines, The Vines, Oasis, and The White Stripes (and of course Jay-Z). In an interview with Go & Crash, drummer Sickels said, “Our album is very diverse. From listening to our MySpace, you might think we sound like a lot of other Indie/Pop bands, but that’s not true. Running with the Wasters fits in well with the rest of it... We have everything from two and a half minute Pop anthems, to six minute songs with orchestras and trombone solos.”

The album, Running with the Wasters, is a rebellious collection that reflects the title exactly. To Go & Crash, the band explained the album has “Songs about drinking, and drugging, one night stands, and love lost. It’s a record for all the kids who don’t want to work a 9 to 5 job. The kids who don’t want to get married young and have the white picket fence and 2.5 kids at age 25. It’s for the people who have fucked up, and continue to do so... but thoroughly enjoy their lives. You’re running with the wasters now...” Much of it has a striking resemblance to the sound of The Fratellis but with its own tasteful ounce of back-country Rock. The bright and brash vocals make them sound youthful and edgy. With the addition of piano in several of their songs TTUK also adds a subtle dash of Ragtime and Blues, making it easy to dance to. Though, to be completely honest, their music reflects many different genres at various points throughout their album - Jazz, Big Band, Country, Rock, Punk, Classical, Pop, Ska. Coming back to Earth, they consider themselves to be Indie/Pop - emphasis on the Pop. “Pop is not a dirty word,” Solomich said to Go & Crash. “We love the art form. We’re chasing the perfect Pop single.” Oh, and did I mention that their lyrics and rhythms are so frickin’ catchy?

Editor’s Note: The Takeover UK is now in the midst of a name and lineup change, but stay tuned for more catchy jams from one of the Burgh’s finest.