BloodMakesNoise Playlist: Mint 400 Records Spotlight (PENCEY PREP & THE RACER) 12/4 By Neil Sabatino

So full disclosure I run a record label and I’ve come to an agreement with Blood Makes Noise to let me promote releases every week. The idea is every week I will present a playlist with some new Mint 400 Records music and what I think inspired our songwriters. This week is an odd playlist, so it’s going to work a little different. Even though the playlist starts with the Pencey Prep stuff I’m going to talk about The Racer first. The Racer is an indie pop band from NY State and their music reminds me of so many different bands but at the core it has major elements of Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Coldplay but all the while with their own creative spin. I like to say this a lot with bands on my label that they don’t sound like they are influenced directly by the bands I mention, it’s more of that they share influences with those bands to come to a similar result. So when I made this playlist I made the obvious connections but I think The Racer has much more broad influences than pigeon holing them to Radiohead & Coldplay. You should judge for yourself. 

Now onto Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep was a band I was in 20 years ago with Frank Iero who ended up in My Chemical Romance and John McGuire who played in my band Fairmont and he as well wrote music with his pirate themed band Brine & Bastards. The other musicians were artist Tim Hagevik and comic book author Shaun Simon. What I thought would be cool to do today is to contrast the songs that each of us wrote for the Pencey Prep album up against a song that we wrote much later in our musical careers. With Pencey Prep here is the story and some quotes from the band about: 

It was the summer of 2000 when Frank Iero had left his band Sector 12, his first real punk rock band and started Pencey Prep with John McGuire and Shaun Simon. Through friends at a party they found drummer Tim Hagevik and through previous hall shows together guitarist Neil Sabatino. All the pieces were in place as the band began to write their epic tale of teenage heartbreak, which would be aptly titled “Heartbreak In Stereo”. The band had just witnessed in a garage in Westwood New Jersey, the band Thursday in an electric performance to a crowd of 20 people as they began to mold their sound which was a mix of rock, metal, punk, hardcore, pop and indie. They didn’t realize only months later they would be joining them as label mates. 

Pencey Prep landed on shows with note-able bands like Nada Surf multiple times, The Strokes, New Found Glory, Midtown, Brand New, Thursday, Atom and His Package, My Chemical Romance and even Jack Antonoff of Fun’s old band Outline all before some of those bands were big names. The band played classic spots like CBGB’s, Maxwells, Asbury Convention Hall just to name a few. As Pencey Prep began and ended in only a short time and as Frank Iero joined My Chemical Romance their fans gave new life to the long forgotten Pencey Prep album. A cult favorite for the last 20 years that was big with the MySpace crowd and then forgotten again as their old label went defunct. 

For the first time in years the album is available again on all streaming services and mp3 outlets worldwide. The band Pencey Prep for fans of the North Jersey scene were definitely a bridge between Thursday and My Chemical Romance and hopefully all these years later this emo epic of teenage hopelessness and sorrow with plenty of Catcher In The Rye references is still as potent as when it first came out. 

“I’d like to take a quick moment & thank everyone that was involved in the pencey release and to all of you that have loved that record for so long. it’s a crazy amazing feeling, & I’m so happy we were able to celebrate what my friends and I made all these years later.” – Frank Iero 

“Today has been a day I’ve been hoping would come for a long time. I know what this album means to me, and it is genuinely humbling that it means so much to so many others. I’m really glad the people who wanted to hear Heartbreak In Stereo again finally can.“ – John “Hambone” McGuire 

“Heartbreak in stereo was such an amazing time in my life. Just a group of friends making music together. Who would of thought years later the fan following it would have. It’s those people who are still hungry to hear pencey prep that makes this release so amazing. Thank u to everyone who made this possible.” –Tim Hagevik 

“I am very grateful that after 20 years so many people love this record that I was a part of and also the album art has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. As an artist being seen and recognized is the best you can hope for. Through the years I have collaborated with many musicians but Pencey Prep was the foundation for everything that I have done since and was by far a uniquely great band experience.” – Neil Sabatino 

Shaun Simon said if he thinks of something he’ll tweet it out.

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