IN TRANSITION WITH THE BERLIN PROJECT: An all new interview with John Garrighan!

Updated: 07/09/00


The Berlin Project is not from Germany at all, but a group of guys hailing from Pennsylvania who play a user-friendly brand of punk and ska. With catchy songs such as "Faded Memories" and "Taco Bell World," the band is out to give the Blinks and the Machines and the Big Fishes a run for their money. Pay attention, cuz these guys are gonna be huge…

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in The Berlin Project.

John Garrighan: My name is John Garrighan and I play guitar and sing in The Berlin Project. And I do a lot of the writing – but the writing scale is more of a joint effort. We all work together on that.

HD: Where is the band from and how long have you guys been together?

John: We’re from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And we’ve been working together in one form or another for almost five years now. I guess The Berlin Project has been around for three and a half years.

HD: What is the music scene like in Pittsburgh?

John: The music scene in Pittsburgh is really nice. The kids come out to the shows and are real supportive. We have a thriving local scene. Anti-Flag are from Pittsburgh and they still do a lot of shows around here. A lot of good groups are coming out of here now. Some of the more mainstream groups have signed some record deals. I know a band called Seventh House recently signed to Atlantic and the local commercial radio station is very supportive of local music. It’s definitely good for the scene.

HD: What made you decide on the name The Berlin Project?

John: I love that question! It comes up a lot! Actually, The Berlin Project was an old computer program that was made to be a nuisance to some of the major online service providers. Everybody’s very familiar with America Online now, but I would have to say about six or seven years ago, Prodigy was probably bigger than American Online. And it was a program made to hack Prodigy. And for a few of us, computers is a side hobby. It’s pretty strange for punk rock groups to be into computer programming, but it was a hobby back in the day. And we thought, hey, good name for a group!

HD: So what are you guys trying to hack?

John: Musically or on the world?

HD: Both…

John: Our mission, I guess? Personally speaking, I like to entertain people. I like to look out and see hundreds of kids having a good time. And I guess that’s my mission – to be able to entertain as much as possible to as many people every night of my life.

HD: What made you decide you wanted to be in a punk/ska band? Have you always been into this kind of music?

John: My earliest I can remember – I can remember being ten years old and listening to Ramones tapes. And then you kind of move on, you start discovering new things. Green Day put out Dookie about five years ago and got me into the more punk/pop stuff. And that was a good album production-wise. It brought the punk more to the mainstream audience. And I’m an old Mighty Mighty Bosstones fan. And I’ve been into Operation Ivy for as long as I can remember.

HD: Where do you get the ideas for some of your lyrics?

John: Our lyrics have varied so much over the years. We have a few songs written about girls -- what boy group wouldn’t? The band is made up of all males – we did have a girl sax player once briefly. For a while when we did Culture Clash, we tried to put a message behind all the songs – what’s right and what’s wrong – semi pseudo-political is what you could say. Just personal and anti-racism songs – we’re big supporters of that. We do a lot with the Pennsylvania anti-racist action, which is definitely a good cause. (We write about) life experiences – what you’re thinking at the time. My opinion of music and how to write music – you can take all of the music theory classes in the world; you could study as much music as possible – but if it’s not coming from the heart then it’s not real. That’s my best advice that I could give to a lot of up and coming groups around here – write from the heart.

HD: With so many people from the band, what kind of scheduling nightmares do you have?

John: (laughs) You better believe it! But, at the same time with so many people in the band, it can also be a great help. Because you can do a practice and if one or two members isn’t there, you could still have it. If we’re taking off time from live shows to work on new material, we’ll get together twice a week. We pretty much have a steady Tuesday and Thursday that everybody sets aside – we’ve been doing it for a long time. We work together pretty well there. We have two guitar players – and over the years I’ve pretty much learned how to handle everything in case of an emergency. Brad, the bass player and I have been best friends since we were kids – we’re pretty tight – he never misses anything. We’re always around. We’ve had a lot of drummer problems over the past few years – not very reliable. If you can’t put your whole heart into this, then it’s not worth doing.

HD: Who are some of the bands that you’ve opened for and did you get to meet any of them?

John: Oh, yeah! We played with Goldfinger, Reel Big Fish, Letters To Cleo. We’re doing a big festival coming up with The Stone Temple Pilots, Everclear, Stroke 9 and a lot of big bands. As for ska/punk bands, we’ve played with the Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Hippos, and Catch 22 who are great friends of ours. We’re doing the Warped Tour in Pittsburgh too!

HD: In the end, would you rather be signed to a major or an indie label?

John: It’s a tough call. When you look at it – they both have their benefits and they both have their perks. On an indie label, I’d like to think you’d get more attention there – if you get the right indie label. It’s fun to keep it real. You don’t want to sell out. I really hate that term though. I really don’t like it when a lot of young kids these days go out to these shows and they rag on bands that are doing well for themselves. For example, the Suicide Machines’ new record. People have been saying they’re selling out, but they’ve been working hard for years. Their sound is more applicable to commercial radio and they’ll get themselves to other people. When they play live, they still do their old stuff. It’s just now, they’re sharing their people with a broader audience.

The Berlin Project have an album called Culture Clash to share with the world – their second recording and one guaranteed to get them noticed in a big way! Don’t forget to check out their web page for all the latest news on this cool group of musicians!


THE OFFICIAL BERLIN PROJECT HOME PAGE: All the news on The Berlin Project!
MAELSTROM MUSIC: The publicity company for The Berlin Project! Lots of cool bands on this page!
THE HIGHWIRE DAZE HOME PAGE: Return to the Main Page!