The McNaughstys: High-Voltage Irish Punk
The McNaughstys: High-Voltage Irish Punk
The McNaughstys: High-Voltage Irish Punk

Written by Jeremy Copp

Crafting a good pop song is an art form. Making pop interesting is even more difficult. That’s why for every artist with longevity like Beyonce, there’s a thousand one-hit wonders like Carly Rae Jepsen. Good pop requires a fine balance of catchy melodies with intriguing chord progressions and rhythmic dynamics. The guys in A Violet Sun, a pop-alternative rock band from the Inland Empire in California, seem to have an innate understanding of this concept.

A Violet Sun is the brainchild of lead vocalist/guitarist Jay Valdez. Now 28, he has been working in bands since he was a teenager in the pop-punk band Recycled. In the early days of the band, Jay described his songwriting process as something akin to finding a good melody to go over a Beatles-like chord progression. But the band is so much more than that. The song “A Shape of Mind” has an undeniable hook, but the rhythmic structure is almost frenetic in pace, and the chord progression is reminiscent of a happier, breezier version of The Mars Volta.  Jay is rather frank about the evolution of his songwriting, saying that it has improved by “playing with people who are better than me, and all of the musicians in A Violet Sun are better than me.” His brother, Matt Valdez (guitar/vocals), says that Jay will bring the basis of a song to the band, but he takes feedback from everyone. As such, Matt refers to Jay as the quality control of the group.

Rounded out by Robin Laliberte on bass and Sid Suarez on drums, the guys in A Violet Sun have rather disparate musical backgrounds. Robin was previously in a death metal band, and Sid was in an honest-to-goodness boy band. However, the guys have come together for more than just a love of the music they are creating. They all have a strong environmental conscience. A Violet Sun try to lead by example, using recycled materials in their CDs and merchandise, and they are currently converting their touring van into a bio-diesel vehicle. Jay claims, “We want to make a difference, even if it’s just us.” They don’t want to preach, but they definitely want to get the message out to their fans, and they tackle the subject of trying to keep our world clean in the song “Home.”

While the band has worked hard to create their own brand of pop rock, they are also proud of other aspects that they are known for, such as being a quality live act that delivers a reliably good performance and promotes their shows hard. Their reputation for professionalism has paid off by getting them the opening spots for such national touring acts as Korn and Story Of The Year. In fact, Sid’s first show with the band was in front of hundreds of people when they opened for Moving Units. He admits to being nervous at the time, but is excited by the band’s successes, exclaiming “I never thought I’d be in this position, but it’s awesome. You just never know until you get there.”

The guys in A Violet Sun admit that being creative in a pop song is difficult. But they seem to be mastering the craft. You can judge for yourself at Groove International’s Sunday Funday event at the House of Blues, Hollywood on August 10.

For more information on A Violet Sun, visit:

The McNaughstys: High-Voltage Irish Punk from LA

Written by Jeremy Copp

When one thinks of the Los Angeles music scene, Irish punk is most likely not the first genre that comes to mind. Or the second, third or fourth, for that matter.  A quick Google search of “Los Angeles Irish punk” returns Flogging Molly in the first couple of hits, and that’s it. Enter The McNaughstys, a band that is poised to change all of that.

The McNaughstys originated in Baltimore. When founding member and vocalist/guitarist Shawn Callender left the East Coast for Los Angeles in 2013 for a job in music production, he thought he had left their music behind. However, as he played the tracks from The McNausghtys 2012 EP “Scraped Knuckles and Natty Boh’s” for friends and acquaintances, he became convinced that there was a place for his brand of Celtic rock in the LA scene. Finding musicians to continue what he had started in Baltimore involved a fair bit of luck. As Shawn tells it, “We saw Troy (drummer Troy Tucker) at Taco Bell with a Celtics jersey on and drumsticks in his back pocket.” Of course, Troy was a perfect fit.

Named for Shawn’s alter ego that rears it’s inebriated head after he’s indulged in a pint or three, The McNaughstys bring a super-charged energy to their live shows that is fueled by whiskey and a punk-rock ethos. Rounded out by Alexei Acosta on bass, Seth Hansen on violin and Max Gillespie on bagpipes, the band melds folk and medieval sounds with rock into a high-octane blend that connects extremely well with the audience.  Max explains that the band “is unique, but not so exotic that people won’t get it.” And he appears to be right, as they are gaining followers with every show they play.

Given the opportunity, they’ll convert you, too. In fact, they’ve energized the most unlikely of crowds. Once, at a traditional jazz club, they had audience members with their fists in the air chanting “Hey!” and “Ho!” at the tops of their lungs. As Seth recalls, “we won that crowd over.”  Groove International’s talent buyer Jon Avila was so impressed with a recent performance that he offered them the opportunity to play the main stage at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip later this month.

For the time being, the McNaughstys have no plans to enter the studio. They are content to ride out their EP for as long as possible and to expand their audience by playing live as much as they can. As Shawn states matter-of-factly, “Come see us live. If you want to get your head blown to the back of the auditorium, we’ll definitely oblige.”

It might seem cocky, but they have the live chops to back it up. Give them a chance. Go see the McNaughstys, and there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be collecting your head at the back of the auditorium by the time the night is through.

For more information on the McNaughstys, visit:

The McNaughsty’s will be playing Groove International’s “Sunday Funday Bash” on the Main Stage of House of Blues Sunset Strip on Sunday, July 13th, 2014. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook!


Groove International is proud to announce that we are officially expanding into Orange County! As our company continues to grow, we are making it a point to work solely with the best venues along the California Coast; and we could think of nothing greater than the prestigious House of Blues in Downtown Disney.

On Thursday, June 26th, 2014, Groove International will host our highly popular event “The Pirate’s Booty Ball” at House of Blues Anaheim (All Ages Event). Brace yourselves for a wild night filled with live-bands, DJs, dancers, models, photographers, and everything else we can toss into the mix!

Whether you enter the club to be entertained by your favorite DJ, live-band, dancer, or celebrity; Groove International lets you interact with our performers on a completely different level than any of our competitors. No audience member should be limited to watching a show in front of their favorite artist, when they can watch the show with them.

Attend. Watch. Interact. Party WITH your Rock Stars.

Book Your Band on This Event | Model for This Event |


Editors Note: A few years ago, Groove International worked with the highly controversial metal band Butcher Babies on more than several events. To say that this band was going places was definitely an understatement.

Written by Jason Nauman

I am terrified of Butcher Babies.  No amount of money or alcohol would make me confident enough to approach their female vocalists and attempt to start a conversation.  It would only end in both of them ripping my head off, throwing it in a wood chipper, and spitting on the shredded pieces that fly out.  This is actually a good thing, because if your metal bands aren’t evoking some kind of fear, then they are not doing it right.

That’s not to say the ladies are scary to look at – both vocalists have both spent time working with Playboy TV – but the second the music starts, the pretty faces are replaced by snarling vocals, thunderous breakdowns, and wicked guitars.  Self proclaimed as “slut metal,” the group combines metal and thrash to accompany the hooks sung by Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd.

Attractive girls bellowing gloomy metal lyrics may seem like a gimmick at first glance, but the instrumentalists in the Butcher Babies ban any such thoughts, delivering their own brand of tightly wound metal fury.  It’s as if they are out to assault your senses from every possible angle.

The Los Angeles based group’s first EP was self released in 2011.  They used creative tactics to promote the eponymous debut, tapping into the writing talents of singer Carla Harvey to create a Butcher Babies comic book and releasing it at San Diego’s Comic Con that summer.  Later that year, they also posted a YouTube video of the band performing Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile” live in Anaheim, drawing further attention from the metal community.

The success lead to a supporting slot for Marilyn Manson’s North American tour in 2012.  The group was then signed to Century Media Records that Fall, which released the Butcher Babies first full length album, Goliath.  The full length promptly went number one on Billboard’s US Heatseekers chart.  2014 is already lining up to be another successful year, as they were tapped to take part in the Hell Pop II tour and join The Defiled for a run of shows in the UK.

Despite only being a band for a few years, they already have a comic book, record deal, and tours booked in multiple countries.  They are beautiful, they are terrifying, and they are awesome.


Written by Jeremy Copp.

Ask any musician, and I’m sure they’ll agree… Rockstars and beautiful women were meant to go together. Like chocolate and peanut butter, or bacon and just about anything, the pairing of rock musicians and models just makes sense. On Saturday, November 23, the two got together for a rather noble cause, The Sweethearts Salute/Wounded Warrior Project Benefit hosted by Groove International at House of Blues in San Diego.

Sweethearts Salute is a non-profit organization founded with the sole purpose of giving back to our nation’s veterans. Started in 2011 by photographer Victoria Ortega-Allen, the pinup project sells calendars, skateboards and iPhone cases featuring pictures of their models, all of whom donate their time and energy to the cause. T-shirts, tank tops and hats with the Sweethearts Salute logo are also available for purchase. All proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project. Victoria and her husband Marc, who is currently serving in the Navy, fund this endeavor completely out of their pockets.

From the soulful, bluesy alt-rock of De Novo Blvd to the crunching, in-your-face metal of No Name Gang, there was a little something for everyone in the rock-n-roll genre. No Name Gang is a San Diego band to keep an eye on.  Formed in 2012, their crunching riffs and energetic live shows are starting to build quite the following for the band. And of course, they are not far removed from the underlying theme of the night, as vocalist Justin Hendrick is currently serving in the Navy.

At its heart, San Diego is still a military town. As they continue to host shows at the House of Blues in San Diego, it is easy to see how the people of Groove International would continuously work with either current or former members of the military. The stage manager for the night was a former Marine. One of the models of the evening, Erin Fischer, was very adamant about being a part of the event. Her mother suffers from PTSD after two tours in Iraq and helped set up a division of Wounded Warrior at Camp Pendleton. Erin lamented the lack of awareness of PTSD and Wounded Warrior Project. Groove International founder Jon Avila agrees, noting that they have already hosted two such events this year and plan to host several more next year.

For one night, Groove International proved that musicians and models are capable of getting together to promote ideals more worthwhile than sex, drugs and rock and roll. With such dedication from those putting their time and energy into the cause, you better believe that it will continue in the future.



Editor’s Note: Upon leaving a Groove International event with our staff in Downtown Long Beach, we couldn’t help but notice something strange. A man. Dancing like no one was watching. Outside of a club. Here’s our story.

Dear Long Beach Pine Avenue Shuffler,

This is what I have decided to call you, considering that neither my staff nor I know your name. We don’t know your story, where you are from, or the method to your madness we saw on that incredible Saturday night in Downtown Long Beach.

All we know is that you were ENTHUSIASTICALLY dancing in an alleyway outside of an unknown club in Downtown Long Beach. You were moving with every ounce of energy in your body, and you never stopped dancing or smiling. And the best part of it all, you had the ENTIRE crowd on the other side of the window dancing with you.

I would like to think that you were kicked out of that club for some unfortunate misunderstanding. My guess is that you were there to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and the bouncer gave you a hard time for wearing jeans as opposed to slacks. Or perhaps the club didn’t allow baseball hats and never gave you the chance to put yours in your car before entering the club.

Regardless of what happened, I would like to think that you left the club peacefully, walked around the corner, went up to the window where all of your friends were partying, and stopped as if to say, “F*ck this. I want to dance.”

And dance you did. I was simply walking one of our models to her car, and as I approached the alleyway, all I could see was a sea of people inside of the club dancing to the smiling guy outside of the club. The more you moved, the more they moved, and the more you smiled, the more they cheered.

Bravo sir. Regardless of who you really are or what you were really doing, you have inspired me. Don’t stop shuffling and don’t stop moving the crowd. Remember that regardless of how big and powerful other people may be, they will never be able to take our smiles or cries away. Those belong to us and us alone.

You are the light. Best regards,

Jonathan Avila


Written by Jason Nauman.

Playing in a band is a lot like gambling: you can make the right moves at the right time, but if luck doesn’t come your way on a given day, then it‘s usually a sign to cut your losses and walk away.  Had Anaheim, California’s New Years Day called it quits five years ago, I don’t think anyone would have blamed them.  The band’s former label, TVT records, went belly up in 2008, prompting their then debut album My Dear to be left under promoted.  An album that should have taken the band to the next level in the rock stratosphere instead ended in the band imploding, losing multiple original members and putting their musical future in jeopardy.  It seemed as if the deck were stacked against New Years Day.

Lesser bands would have collapsed under the weight of that setback, but the remaining members of New Years Day stuck together and continued writing new material.  The resulting album, the appropriately titled Victim to Villain, shows the band taking advantage of a fresh start to create a new direction for themselves.

Stylistically on Victim to Villain, the group keeps their pop sensibilities intact from My Dear and layers in alt metal riffs and haunting choruses.  The resulting sound is something that’s equal parts catchy and rocking.  It’s a balance that serves the band well, giving equal room for singer Ashley Costello’s voice to soar and the well executed hard rock to be fleshed out  from band members Russell Dixon (drums), Jake Jones (guitar), Nikki Misery (guitar), and Anthony Barro (bass).

Whatever momentum was lost in the TVT records debacle seems to have been regained with their new single “Angel Eyes” and its accompanying video.  Chris Motionless, from the band Motionless in White, lends his vocal talents to the track, diversifying the song during the breakdown portion.  “When it came time to need a guy to guest vocal on the album, there was no better fit than Chris,” says Costello.  “I always really liked what he and his band stood for.  It felt very similar to myself and I felt I could relate to it.”  The choice of guest vocalist was a good one, As the polished song benefits from his inclusion and the transition to his vocals seems natural.

“I’ve been out to prove something since the day I was born – revenge,” Costello says, and it certainly shows over the X amount of tracks laced with anger and passion.  Victim to Villain shows the band planting their flag in the rock and roll landscape, triumphantly announcing their return and getting their long sought after revenge.