The local scene was well-represented at Atlanta’s inaugural Wrecking Ball Fest last year. Kingston’s Title Fight, Scranton’s Petal and West Chester’s Spraynard all played the two day festival alongside acts like Coheed and Cambria, The Movielife, Descendents and Glassjaw. This year, Wrecking Ball will welcome Scranton bands The Menzingers and Tigers Jaw to the Peach State, along with Wilkes-Barre band Spur.
When Spur formed two years ago, their aim was to create music inspired by ’80s hardcore punk. The band’s drummer, Fabrizio Marra, sent the group off their charted course when he introduced guitarist/vocalist Toni Pennello to the less aggressive side of underground rock music.
“Fabrizio introduced me to Lush and Haze and we decided that was more the route we wanted to go,” Pennello said. “We wanted to be dreamier, but we still have hardcore influence every once in awhile in our music. We have a song with a breakdown. It’s pretty eclectic.”
Spur released a two-song EP in August 2015 and followed that up with a three-song demo in February. Pennello said they’ve been inactive, but with Wrecking Ball in August and an as-yet untitled full-length coming later this year, Spur (Pennello, Marra, guitarist Andrew Mickowski and bassist James Jaskolka) have sprung back to life. Pennello juggles her role in Spur with her education at Wilkes University, but the 19-year-old learned the prerequisites needed at rock ‘n’ roll high school.
“I was a member of the School of Rock and that’s how I started playing shows and learning how to play in a band,” Pennello said. “You go there for lessons on your instrument and you also get to play in an ensemble with other people, so you start to learn how to play in a band. It’s a great way to learn how to do that stuff. Everybody doesn’t have to do things like that, but it definitely helps.”
Her scholarship in rock further bolstered the interest passed down to her by her musician parents and the lessons she received since she was 7; first on piano, then on guitar. Along with teaching her the latter, Pennello’s father introduced her to the no-frills world of heavy metal.
“Growing up my dad was really into heavy metal and stuff like Rammstein, so when I was 5 years old I was jamming out to Rammstein,” Pennello said. “My parents got me into Queen, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin … stuff like that.”
As Pennello grew up, she began exploring rock’s alternative options like Radiohead and Muse. She described her current playlists as “dreamy,” going back to bands like Lush and Haze. That dreamy sound has influenced Spur’s current aesthetic, and this August they’ll share their songs with the crowd at Atlanta’s Wrecking Ball Fest alongside Thursday, American Football, Dinosaur Jr. and the rest of the festival lineup. As far as recent reactivations go, Spur knows how to pick their moment.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts