Covert Stations – Interview

PD:  How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?

Craig: Covert Stations is a full-fledged side project, yet taken seriously and more than “just for fun” as it does take serious time, dedication & money. For friends and acquaintances I’ve involved, I’ve so far heard noting back than them enjoying the process. Some of “us” collaborate much more than others outside of their own music, so for some it’s unique while others it’s familiar in doing so.  Most of the musicians involved save for one particular tribute song have never played with one another, let alone even met one another before. Which is a testament to everyone’s dedication and skillset as to the cohesion our chosen songs have gelled together, while being recorded in separate locales. That and the mix production which I’ve purposedly focused it all to with Chris Badami at what feels like a home away from home, Portrait Recording Studios. Since everyone involved so far has stemmed from original bands, it hasn’t felt like a “covers project” which it genuinely is. We talk shop like I’ve talked shop with members of my own bands, and they, theirs. Bands of many ilks with a common, familiar language.


PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.

Craig:  I’m from Northern New Jersey and love the NJ music scene as there very much is one—yet made up of diversified styles.  Our region is a highly trafficked area, a melting pot of styles pour into both born and bred from the area as well as filtering through from other regions as we have a highly tourable landscape. It’s been said in NJ you’re “two hours from everything” meaning all types of music, bars, clubs, venues, mountains, beaches, farmland, highways & cities. We’re smack dab between tow major cities, New York City and Philadelphia while having enough distance that one doesn’t encroach on one anther and have towns & cities of our own fostering healthy and developed music scenes.  Personally, I’ve played in many types of bands from post-punk/post-harcore to indie-folk, from heavy space rock to Americana and back around again. I’ve also collaborated with many musicians that have become close friends in all of these genres, and learn from everyone while nurturing them just the same.

My love for music without question stems from two points in my life, then developed so many roots and branches from there. My parents always had music playing, have owned multiple jukeboxes in the house overt the years. While my father is more passive with music, he’s a great support of my Mother’s affinity for it—she’s a record collector, has a record dealer to this day to help still seek out doo-wop oldies singles (“7-inches” usually, or as she refers to them “45s”). Together, they still go see live music monthly, if not weekly.  I think that trickled down to me and then in my high school years—boom—alternative rock broke through and showed me a world of underground music that just spoke to me. It wasn’t my parents music, it wasn’t my older brother’s mix of classic rock and hair metal, it was *mine* and the way it was off-kilter, angular, more imperfect and less showy (at the time) it just spoke to me. Having not played an instrument up until  that point (dabble with lessons a few times that never stuck), I found my calling in something I didn’t even now how to do.  Yet I was compelled to find my way into it. My place, my passion.


PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?

Craig: Typically, just absorbing the space around me. Issues big and small.  How I’m affected by them, how I react to them. I’m an over thinker, always making mental notes and challenging my own thoughts. I call it an “active mind” and don’t really know any other way. I think of it as both good and bad, as often I can’t just let something go. I have to have it make sense to me, feel right. I base so much off vibe and feeling. I react and am honest about my reactions. I just think my personality is often dueling with thoughts, internally and externally and music has been there for me to make sense of what’s around me, to vent, to escape, and to take back from.


PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?

Craig:  Just keep creating music and fostering ideas that feel pure, give meaning, help sift and compel me to keep on keeping on. I do love making albums, big and small and the full artistic experience that goes with them.


PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?

Craig:  Hmmm. Tough one. cherish moments big and small so in my mind, it’s not the size it’s the experience. Proudness in music could mean different things at different times for me.  Touring in other countries, overseas multiple times is hands down at the top of the list. Creating albums in general. The collaborative experience so diverse and being adaptable with many others in bands and projects is made up of multiple moments, yet I can sum up as a categorical item. There are too many specifics to be specific. ; )


PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?

Craig: I’ve never shied away from hard work in music and have more often than not, been the “homework” person in the bands I’ve been in. Frequently, yet not all the time, there is one other person also doing band deeds to be recognized and take steps outside of the music making. I’m linked to all facets to be honest, but it’s the only way I know having been so blue collar and hands on whether it be the earl days of self-releases through the days of working with independent labels (I’m one who cherishes each relationship, no regrets. I’ve built families of people because of these experiences. To back up a step, I have booked shows since legion hall days of my early twenties to tour dates and club shows from 20s thru now, leading up to the fact I book music at three spots that host music in my area. Booking music has been on the side of designing for music as for over a decade and a half I’ve been a freelance graphic artist and work primarily in the music field for musicians/bands/indie labels/show promoters and some venues…it’s what I focus on as it gives more to me than just a job. The connect to the musician on the other end is real to me. Relatable. I’m both empathetic to their plight while being excited along with them just the same. I love creating art for albums—timepieces and/or milestones to the lives of those I work with. I know how special that feels, so it’s very hands on to how they’re feeling while developing the look of their project. I think it all was nurtured from a D.I.Y. underground ethic of create something from nothing and find others you align with along the way.


PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?

Craig: This question is less applicable to this project as it’s studio based project by definition. Covert Stations isn’t meant to play live and with each line-up for each song different from one another, and vastly from different areas, it’s not something that would be conceivable. Also, it stems from myself never being a “covers musician” live by definition, so I don’t have the interest in doing a set of these studio renditions live even if I were to put together a band locally for it.  It’s just not something that compels me. Yet ironically, submerging into a song, learning it during the studio sessions and learning from it, does.


PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?

Craig:  Here we are in 2023 and I don’t mind streaming or downloading as I do both, yet I’m more of a hard copy guy when it comes to ultra fandom and I still buy records, release records, add record suggestions for gifts during an occasion, buy records for friends on occasions…   So, I’m a best of both worlds guy.  I’d be hypocritical to say I don’t like it or don’t find a sure for it. I find a use for it all nearly every day of may life.


PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?

Craig:  Feel a little odd about the question, I don’t know, I never really thought of a song that way.


PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?

Craig:  Funny, I’m going to tie this with two question ago. I don’t see it possible and less options of things doesn’t usually result in diversity or fair play, so totally take this with a grain of salt, and an off the cuff comment, yet this has come up many times.  If only friends had less options to listen to a suggested song.  Ha ha—hear me out. What I mean by this is that the options we have has fostered laziness.  If I want someone to listen to a new song, if I send a Spotify link, some have AppleMusic, if I send the other, then another friend says “just send it on Youtube” and I even have that stray friend that is a Pandora listener. Even if the receiver can easily see the artist of song title in front of them whether they have the app or not, I’ve received “I don’t have Spotify” or “I never watch YouTube” …sometimes they won’t even search it on their own common app. Many simply want to touch and go. I’m left scratching my chin into thinking it’s not like days of old. Positives and negatives of all times.


PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?

Craig: Currently, there are a few more Covert Stations series singles in the works for the new year. One is nearly tracked by everyone (this one has 6 people involved, topping the last borrowed single’s 5 members. It will go to mix in a week or two, yet the release date hasn’t been scheduled yet.  Then there are a couple more further out and talks of then a couple more. 

Outside of Covert Stations, I recently released a 12” EP with a band called The Atlantic Union Project. Though the album is now out a few months, we have a few more items up our sleeve like a video for another single and I hope to get some extra songs written with them, ideally, I’d like to gig as well. the challenge with us is, I’m in NJ, USA and the rest of the band is in Brighton, England. Where that band is very fast, post-punk, aggressive while remaining very melodic, I have a new band stateside as well. A second band which arose during the last couple years with so much remote writing, then getting in the room together to bond together. The sound of this band os quite opposite—slower, moody and very cinematic. We have a long-play EP at mastering right now. None one involved has mentioned it specifically just yet as we want to have everything just right for the introduction. Our aim is to take it to the stage in 2023. We’ll see what is to come in the months ahead.


PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?

This studio series:


Covert Stations links:
Band/Artist location – Boonton, New Jersey
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