Bringing A 'Poker Face' To The Political Table From Merge

Post anything thoughts/comments you may have related to our music. We have four discs out; Made In America, Sex lies and Politiks, Next!, and Game of love. We would love to hear from you....
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Bringing A 'Poker Face' To The Political Table From Merge

Post#1 » Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:41 pm

From ... dshead-hed
Bringing A 'Poker Face' To The Political Table
Bethlehem-based Poker Face is serious about their political rock, but they find their music has a better audience outside the Lehigh Valley.

Katie Strzeszewski
Special to MergeDigital

Politics have always divided America, and people express their political views differently: some folks march, others rally, others protest and a few campaign. But people like vocalist/guitarist Paul Topete, bassist Dennis Beidler, guitarist Brett Griffiths and drummer Rich Valentin choose to convey their political ideas through their music.

Collectively known as Poker Face, the Bethlehem-based quartet first started working the Lehigh Valley music scene in 1989, back when their music was more commercially oriented.

"We started out being a boy-girl-pop-love-rock band," said Topete, one of the band's founding members. "Somewhere in the spring of 1994, the attitude changed from boy-girl-pop-love-rock to caring about our human rights being violated, whether it's by another individual or by the government."

For almost 12 years, the switch to a more political nature helped drive the band toward independent success and a common goal of making people more aware of their political surroundings.

"There's a certain camaraderie here that you wouldn't have in a band that writes the boy-girl stuff," said Griffiths. "If it's not the message, there's no interest. I single-handedly couldn't change things, but I can sing in a rock group, play guitar and be a minuteman of that sort."

While most local and independent bands search for some sort of major-label home, Poker Face knows that in order to truly succeed in voicing the band's unadulterated message, they need to stay independent.

"If you want to put the message out there, you have to decide that you're not going to be a mainstream band," said Topete. "We've had a lot of label people come out and say that the live show is great and the music rocks…"

"…but you have to tone down your political message," Beidler finished. "The machine doesn't reward those who bring light to the problems because they are part of the problem. They make sure the message doesn't get out."

Though they're not part of the corporate machine, Poker Face gets their message out through four full-length albums: Game of Love; Next; Sex, Lies, and Politiks; and Made in America. Their edgy, dark, driving rock, which borders on heavy metal, effectively conveys the band members' intense political views. Lyrically speaking, Poker Face makes observations and speaks objectively, which gets the band's ideas across without being forceful.

On November 19, the band returned to the studio to work on a fifth independent album, as yet untitled. This album, like the ones before it, will remain political in nature: Bush, police states, freedom and spirituality are among the targets for the material that the band will record. Once the band finishes album number five, they will hit the road again. "We don't really play around the Valley too much," said Topete. "We play out-of-state more than we play at home."

"It's where the political events are," said Griffiths. This point stands strongest with a quick glance at the band's tour itinerary over the past year; most Valley-based shows were standard performances, while shows in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Virginia, Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky all supported political events.

While most bands would have given way to what the man and the machine have to say, Poker Face's desire to get their message out and encourage others to learn about politics sets them apart from other bands - not just in the Lehigh Valley, but across the nation as well.

"It's a very special trip that this band is on," said Griffiths. "It's unique; unlike anything else I've been a part of."

"We're the voice of the little people," said Topete. ... dshead-hed


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