Burger-Joint Spawned Rock Band Shining Faces Release Poignant New Single “Worthless”

Westchester rock trio, Shining Faces, released their debut single, “Worthless” on Wednesday, September 28. The music group with origins in the Upper Westchester County area transitioned their involvement in the rock scene in New York City.

Shining Faces

A unique feature of the band’s start-up counts their spawnage from the upstate-based Pow! Burger joint. The collaboration between the burger restaurant and the rock band helps to carry the representation of the DIY cultural aspect of the Upper Westchester community. 

‘Worthless’ debut single cover art

The members comprising the band are vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Clinton Meekel, bass player Kevin Giachetto, drummer Austin Flynn and guitarist Nick Trujillo. The artists opened about their experience working at the independently-established Pow! Burger joint, their music career and the connection between the workplace they were previously employed at and the punk and surf rock performances made in the Metropolitan area that are supported by former co-workers from the Pow! Burger. 

Heather Occhino: How did the band meet? 

Clinton Meekel: So, Austin, Nick, and I met while working at Pow! Burger. Nick and Austin actually had a project together called “Block Tape”, and the three of us had a project together called “Anklebiterz”. Kevin and I had played drums a lot together growing up with Kevin’s brother, Justin. I had put out some stuff solo during COVID, but I really wanted to be able to play live. I put together a trio with Austin and our other friend, Sean. When we moved to the city, Austin moved over to drums, we added Kevin on bass, and Nick is our newest addition on a second guitar. 

HO: What inspired the band members to pursue making music? 

CM: I always grew up around music. My dad repairs guitars and collects records and just has a really extensive knowledge on all kinds of eclectic rock and punk music. I started playing when I was five years old and haven’t stopped since.

HO: What was the group’s reason for relocating to New York City?

CM: Basically, I moved here to finish college. It’s new and there’s a lot of awesome stuff happening down here musically. I used to drive down here all the time to go to shows and it’s really cool to be living in the midst of all of it.

HO: What influenced Shining Faces to add more contemporary-based punk-rock influences to traditional songs, such as Joe Cocker’s “The Letter” and Hound Dog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig”?

CM: I had listened to those songs a lot growing up, and I wanted to pay homage to those musicians. There’s something timeless about those songs in particular, and I love being able to take something old and mess around with it and make it fresh. Those songs translate really well live too, because people recognize the songs but maybe have forgotten about them. Then it creates an opportunity to bond with people over those songs too. People come up to us after shows and bring up The Letter, and it’s just really great to get to talk with new people about songs that we all love.

HO: When Pow! Burger was established, did the then-employees plan on choosing a direction toward music? 

CM: It was totally by chance that so many of the people who work there, who I now consider very close friends, were also interested in making music. But it definitely became a commonality for all of us there. There aren’t really any venues in Yorktown or record stores, so it’s hard to find any sort of musical community. I’m lucky that all my time at work could be spent with guys who do care about music and have a taste that aligns with mine.

My friend from Pow! Leapfrog Jones actually opened for us a few weeks ago at the Bowery Electric, and I just saw him play the other day at another venue. We all just kind of had bands on the side, but everyone is really supportive. Even the owner Dave, he comes to our shows. And Yorktown isn’t close, but he’s invested in our success. It’s honestly not very often you see a business owner who actually cares about the success and security of their employees beyond the workplace, so we’re all really lucky. And just to have this community of people who have our backs and are rooting for us. 

HO: What was the transition like leaving Pow! Burger and moving to the city?

CM: It’s a little bit crazy actually. We’re all friends, so I see the guys from Pow! all the time. They all make their way down to the city for our shows. I think some more of them might even move out here too, and I love having them on bills with us or vice versa. I remember overhearing someone after a show say, “What is this restaurant they all work at?” Because basically the entire staff was in the audience. It’s pretty awesome to see.

HO: As mentioned in the biography about Shining Faces, their aim is to find “authenticity in a world in a world where our lives are becoming increasingly commodified”. In which ways is this sentiment expressed in their musical work/artistic expression?  

CM: Punk has always been about rebellion. I’m really inspired by guys like Iggy Pop, the Sex Pistols. Punk has always been a vessel for counterculture. I think we and most other people in our generation feel like we’re getting screwed. We’re losing faith in our institutions. There’s so much pressure, especially with social media to make yourself marketable. To make every bit of yourself something that can become profitable. It’s easy to feel helpless. And we’re angry. So our aim is really just to create and give a raw reaction to what is happening in the world. We’re young and people want to dismiss us but we’re the ones who will grow up in the world that policies being passed right now are shaping. 

HO: What ultimate message/(s) does the band want to spread to their listening base?

CM: I think what we wanna get out there, especially with “Worthless” is just to not let the world get you down and cling to your passions. What we kind of pose in this song is am I worthless? In a world where everyone is supposed to be doing a million things at once, how valuable am I beyond what profit I can produce? Or is all of that worthless and the bits of the humanity within us are what is actually significant? We’re kind of grappling with things like “what is all of this for?” It’s a question that only yields more questions, but we’re going to keep asking.

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