March 20, 2003

Count the Stars Forming a Constellation of Chicago Dates

By Randy J. Klodz

Pop-punk youngsters Count the Stars have been traveling relentlessly by van from their hometown Albany, N.Y., earning opening spots for bands like American Hi-Fi, Dashboard Confessional, Madcap and Voodoo Glow Skulls, and it looks like and end is nowhere near.

Count the Stars—which features Chris Kasarjian (vocals/guitar), Adam Manning (guitar), Clarke Foley (bass) and Dave Shapiro (drums)—will be making two separate stops in Chicago, in support of their February released debut album “Never Be Taken Alive.” The first stop was at Fireside Bowl on Mar.16 in support of Voodoo Glow Skulls, with the second stop being in support of Madcap on Apr. 12 at Metro.

With Manning being the eldest member of the band at 22, one may assume this foursome to be a bunch of musically inexperienced deviants, yet that is not the case. “We try to be pretty health conscious on the road,” said Kasarjian, 19. “We go out and we like to party, have a good time, but the most important thing is being able to perform and not be sick.”

With the current tour nearing the year-and-a-half mark, the band members have since moved from their hometown of Albany. Though Kasarjian tires of traveling in a van for long hours at a time, he remains optimistic. “We are getting used to it, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. The only problem about it is some of the funky smells that come out in our van. Every day is a new road trip with your friends.”

The 13 tracks of “Never Be Taken Alive” have a feel-good punk-pop bounce to them that screams radio-friendly—much like the sound of Jimmy Eat World—but the root of the song’s lyrics might not always be positive.

“The lyrics are pretty bitter,” Kasarjian said. “I’m a writer that is definitely a depressed writer. I get inspired when things are bad--discouragement has been an inspiration for our songs. The lyrics are bitter but they kind of have an optimistic tinge at the end.”

The album’s opener, and Kasarjian’s personal live performance favorite, “Brand New Skin” bounces along with the lyrics: “You can waste your whole life / you’ll never get the best of mine.”

If touring with several well-known acts during previous months isn’t enough, Count the Stars is scheduled to perform during a handful of dates on this summer’s Vans Warped Tour, where they will be playing amongst such bands as AFI, The Used, Glassjaw, Finch and many others.

Metro is at 3730 N. Clark St. Ticket information for the Metro show can be found by calling (773)549-0203. For more on Count the Stars, view

Count the Stars Photo: Christopher K. George