Published on August 12th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
These People’s Tj Penzone On New Song “A/B Vision,” Living In Long Beach & Post-Major Label Life
When everyday people think of “the Long Island music scene,” odds are that they think of Billy Joel, Public Enemy and/or The Stray Cats. But the reality is that Long Island, New York has been a hotbed of internationally-known musical talent for decades. You name the genre and I can name influential artists — past or present — who have been associated with the counties of Nassau and Suffolk.
When attending this year’s Long Beach International Film Festival, I encountered veteran publicist Rick Eberle shortly before leaving. He had introduced me to his friend “Tj” at this time. Making small talk, I quickly realized that this “Tj” was none other than the frontman from the band Men, Women & Children, Tj Penzone. That band — which featured former members of Glassjaw, The Reunion Show and Descendre — and signed to the Warner-affiliated Reprise Records not too long after forming. Men, Women & Children would ultimately tour alongside the likes of Gang Of Four, Metric, Head Automatica, The Format, Snoop Dogg, Brand New, and the Rx Bandits.
In the years since Men, Women & Children disbanded, Tj Penzone has relocated to the Long Island town of Long Beach and stayed active via the musical project known as These People. The live band of These People has a rotating lineup but the songs are primarily written, recorded and produced by Tj, with additional contributions from his brother Rick Penzone, who was also part of MW&C.
The latest song by These People is “A/B Vision” was co-mixed by Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw, Head Automatica, Color Film), and has Walter Schreifels (Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand) on backup vocals. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tj Penzone about “A/B Vision” and plenty more. Additional info on Penzone and These People — including upcoming shows — can be found at www.thesepeople.org.
To me, These People sounds very little like your old bands. Is that on purpose? Or more of a sign of your evolution and changed influences as a musician?
Tj Penzone: This is just the most natural thing for me to do. It’s not intentional, it just comes out when I sit down to write. My previous endeavors were always more of a traditional band set-up, where as this is my project. On recordings though I do have a hand from my brother Rick, who’s a multi instrumentalist, and my friend James Usher who adds a lot of beautiful soundscape guitar stuff. They’re a big help.
You last released an album with These People in 2012 and in 2019 you have released 2 singles with an EP coming in September. Were a lot of songs written for the EP? Was there a big backlog of material?
Tj Penzone: Yeah, I took a long break from releasing music. I was more focused on producing other people with my friend Daryl, but I never stopped writing and recording my own stuff. There’s a bunch of material that exists. The EP was originally a full album, but I’m just gonna release everything in smaller pieces for now.
Daryl Palumbo helped mix “A/B Vision” while Walter from Quicksand sings backup vocals. Are you still in touch with a lot of people from “the scene?”
Tj Penzone: I’d say my old friend Christian McKnight I talk to pretty often. He promoted many of the shows out here when I was growing up. Other than that I do see a bunch of people randomly, it’s a small island.
What inspired you to move to Long Beach?
Tj Penzone: I figured If I’m gonna live on Long Island, I’d like it to resemble vacation as much as possible. Not to mention it’s inspiring to be surrounded by the ocean. I really do enjoy it. Any time I have to go anywhere else on the Island, it’s usually under protest.
Do you do all of your writing and recording in Long Beach?
Tj Penzone: The majority of it, yeah. And although I’ve had ocean themes in my songs before, I can hear the difference in what I’ve been writing since I moved here.
EP release aside, what do the next few months look like for These People?
Tj Penzone: Booking shows right now to support it, and working on making a few more videos. Then onto the other stuff I have ready to release.
Any artistic pursuits going on for you beyond These People?
Tj Penzone: Aside from more music production, I’ve been working on a cartoon based off experiences I’ve had when I was signed to a major label, and watching the music industry shift so drastically. Except I’m replacing the characters with animals. It’s very literal. I can’t give away more than that right now, but I will sometime soon.
Finally, Tj, any last words for the kids?
Tj Penzone: Put a lot of time into something positive that you find happiness in. It could be good for you.