Streetlight Manifesto performing at the Mayan Theatre in 2012. Left to right: Kalnoky, Thatcher, Brown, Conti, Nirenberg, McCullough, and Stewart.
|Origin||New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States|
|Genres||Punk rock, Ska Punk|
|Labels||Victory, RISC, Pentimento Music Company|
|Catch 22, Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, Toh Kay|
Streetlight Manifesto is an American punk rock band from New Brunswick, New Jersey formed in 2002. They released their first album, Everything Goes Numb, which was distributed by Victory Records, on August 26, 2003. The band headlined and sold out their first concert at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on December 9, 2003. Several of Streetlight Manifesto's members were well known in the New Jersey third wave ska community for their roles in past ska punk bands from that area, primarily Kalnoky's Catch 22 and fellow New Jersey band One Cool Guy.
Kalnoky, Ansley and Egan (also from New Jersey) had previously been members of Catch 22. In 2002, Kalnoky gathered a large number of musicians--including Ansley and Egan, several members of One Cool Guy, his brother Achilles, and several of Achilles' orchestra friends--to perform on the Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution EP, A Call to Arms. Included on the five track independently released CD is "Here's to Life", a song which Streetlight Manifesto reworked and included on Everything Goes Numb, and a new version of Catch 22's "Dear Sergio", which included a new verse. Both Streetlight and the Bandits are members of The RISC Group, a collaboration of artists to self produce and retain rights to their music.
Streetlight Manifesto's first recording consisted of a four-track demo EP[clarification needed], featuring the songs "Everything Went Numb", "Point/Counterpoint", "The Saddest Song" and "We Are the Few", all of which were re-recorded for their debut album. The line-up that recorded the demo consisted almost entirely of musicians from Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution: Josh Ansley (bass guitar), Jamie Egan (trombone and trumpet), Tomas Kalnoky (guitar and vocals), Stuart Karmatz (drums), Dan Ross (alto and baritone saxophone) and Pete Sibilia (tenor saxophone). The band was signed to Victory Records, the same label as Catch 22.
After the demo was recorded Karmatz left and was replaced by Paul Lowndes and Jim Conti took the place of Pete Sibilia. This line-up then recorded Everything Goes Numb, but changed again before the band could perform any live shows, Jamie Egan played both trumpet and trombone, but as he would not be able to do this live Mike Soprano joined on trombone. Paul Lowndes had no intention to tour and was replaced by Chris Thatcher.
In September 2004, Ansley announced his departure to pursue an acting career. The next departure was Egan, who left on January 22, 2005, before Streetlight Manifesto began the Ska Is Dead 2 tour, headlining alongside MU330 and the Voodoo Glow Skulls. Delano Bonner came in to play trumpet starting on January 25, 2005, performing at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Dan Ross had planned to leave after the Ska Is Dead 2 tour to pursue a business career, and was forced to leave early just before the end of the tour due to a family crisis. He has been replaced by Mike Brown, whose first concert was at the start of the European tour. Brown's first concert in the United States was on May 31, 2005 in Baltimore.
In April 2005, the band headed overseas to Europe for their first tour outside North America despite personnel difficulties, including visa trouble for various members. Then in October 2005, in Jacksonville, Florida, the band's van was broken into; in total around $80,000 worth of instruments, merchandise, and personal belongings were stolen. Following the burglary and theft, the band was forced to cancel their following four shows. In November 2005, they were robbed again, in Paris, France, and the band lost "the one expensive piece of equipment that wasn't stolen in last month's debacle, a 24 track hard drive recorder we've been using to document our live shows." Sometime between December 3, 2006 and July 3, 2007, Delano Bonner left the band. Sometime before the recording of Somewhere in the Between, Matt Stewart took over for Bonner.
99 Songs of Revolution is a collaborative project that consists of two full-length CDs by Streetlight Manifesto, two full-length CDs by the Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution; as well as four other albums, two each by two other Streetlight-related artists. The project consists entirely of cover songs. Volume No. 1 of the project was released by Streetlight Manifesto on March 16, 2010.
On August 22, 2012, the band announced that their new album would be called The Hands That Thieve. It was originally set to be released on November 6, 2012. On October 23, however, Tomas addressed the fans of their Facebook page, apologizing that he would need to set the release date back to sometime in January 2013. On February 1st 2013 at 6pm CST, Victory Records was slated to issue the release date, but did not follow through on the given date. On February 15, it was announced by Victory Records that the album would be released on April 30, 2013. An acoustic version of the album was released by Toh Kay on the same date with the name The Hand That Thieves. The album was leaked on April 19, 2013. The album has received positive reviews.
In February 2013, Victory Records allegedly withheld all copies of The Hands That Thieve from both Streetlight Manifesto and those that had pre-ordered the album through Streetlight's web store, and barred Streetlight Manifesto from releasing the Toh Kay album. The album was available via Victory Records' website, along with all the major physical retailers. The band called for a boycott of all merchandise and music purchased from Victory Records, be it through online sources such as Amazon.com or through traditional methods of buying physical CDs. They instructed their fans and customers to instead buy merchandise from their website, such as shirts and stickers. Despite the fact that Streetlight allegedly had no physical copies they had been continuously taking pre-orders for the album, which culminated in the band asking customers not to ask for a refund and rather accept an unspecified gift sent instead of the actual album. On May 16 it has been announced the mystery gift to be a blank CD-R with a digipack case and 24 page booklet.
On March 1, 2013, Streetlight announced plans to dramatically cut down on touring within the next year:
"We've solidified plans to tour our well-traveled asses off for one last year, until the end of 2013, at which time we will be not necessarily be moving on from the band, but changing our approach to what we do with the majority of our time. More specifically, we will no longer be touring year round, nor will we be touring much at all anymore.
Streetlight is not actually breaking up, and we have no plans to ever do so, really. As of now, we still plan to play festivals, both in the US and overseas, occasional one-off shows here and there and even sporadic short-run tours. Hell, we may even do an extended tour a few years from now, who can say? One thing is certain, though: we will still make music together. We've recently submitted an album (The Hands That Thieve) to the record label we've been under contract with since the beginning, and with that, we are now free of a very contentious, very unhappy relationship (you may have heard, ha!) that has caused us much frustration and anguish over the years. We have no plans to ever sign with another label and we will happily continue to release records, on our own and on our own terms."
They continued by announcing their End of the Beginning Tour, a multiple-leg outing that will last until the end of the year. On May 16, 2014, the band announced its only tour for the year, the Once More Into the Fray Tour, a six-show tour of the North American North East, with support from Dan Potthast and Chris Murray.
On October 20, 2015, after years of poor relations between Streetlight Manifesto and Victory Records, media outlets reported of a $1,000,000 lawsuit filed against Kalnoky. The lawsuit was filed in regard to the band not fulfilling their record deal of four studio albums to be released under Victory Records. The band released five albums under Victory Records however, Victory claims that "... the band agreed not to count this album as one of the four albums under its contract to receive a $10,000 emergency advance." Victory also claims that the album 99 Songs of Revolution: Vol. 1 does not count towards the contract due to it being a covers album. The lawsuit claims the $1,000,000 is to be paid for Streetlight not fulfilling their four-album record deal, as well as damages for copyright infringement relating to the release of their last album The Hands That Thieve in which Kalnoky released an acoustic version of the album under his pseudonym Toh Kay titled "The Hand That Thieves". Kalnoky took to the bands Twitter account to comment on the removal of the Victory catalog from streaming service Spotify:
"Ironically, @victoryrecords hasn't paid us a cent in royalties in over 2 yrs. More info soon. #irony #douchenuggets"
The band have recently[when?] been publishing over various social media outlets, showing their disdain towards Tony Brummel and his label. On October 23rd the band uploaded the following statement to their social media:
"THE REPORTS ARE SIMPLY NOT TRUE. Tony Brummel / Victory Records are NOT suing Tomas for $1 Million... ...He's actually suing Tomas for FIVE MILLION DOLLARS."
During the second leg of The Last Good Fight tour, it was revealed that Dan Ross had returned to the band, now playing alto and tenor saxophone. It was also revealed that Nadav Nirenberg had parted ways with the band and been replaced by Karl Lyden.
On April 19, 2017, Streetlight Manifesto and Victory Records issued a joint statement that the two parties had reached a settlement under which the band left the record label, and the record label sold the band all master recordings for an undisclosed sum.
Kalnoky writes the band's songs on an acoustic guitar and then fleshes out the song structure on the computer and hums basic hornlines, after which the rest of the band comes in and adds their parts. He has cited the soundtrack of the film Stand By Me as his biggest musical influence, and stated that he looks to the 1950s and 1960s for inspiration when writing. For Somewhere in the Between he sought to "branch out in different directions", adding "eastern European and gypsy sounds" to give the album "a world influence".