The Deli Philly's Featured Artist(s) Poll Winner: Past Life

By: Alexis V.

July 28, 2017

When perusing through the members of Past Life’s interview answers, it’s easy to see how a musical gravitational force could have pulled Anthony Massucci, Alyssa Milman, Brandon Bauer, Justin Sterchele, and Dash Williams together. After all, the foundation had already been laid at an early age for most of the gang. With supportive music-friendly environments, providing influences that were tastefully far and wide, the band’s debut EP Triple Nothing provides a good jumping-off point for the fledgling indie/alt-rock outfit, bent on taking in and giving back to a city that has already provided them with so much support and inspiration. You can find out more about our Featured Artist(s) Poll Winner below.

The Deli: How did you start making music?

Anthony Massucci: I started learning music in fourth grade and took saxophone lessons for about 5 years. It wasn't until I started really getting into jazz in 9th grade that I actually started to make music.

Alyssa Milman: I took piano lessons from age 6 or something, until I was in middle school, and always liked singing. I picked up guitar and bass around the end of middle school, and took voice lessons in high school; then went to college for music with a classical voice concentration. I also wrote songs throughout college, but didn't play in a full-on band until about a year ago. Everything before that was a cover band or school of rock style band.

Branden Bauer: I started playing music with my dad because he played drums, also with my two neighbors in elementary school on our parents equipment as much as we could.

Justin Sterchele: Started that rock music when Dash played me American Idiot via AIM.

Dash Williams: I grew up constantly surrounded by music: My dad singing Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens songs on his acoustic guitar, my mother blasting and singing away to Nirvana and Radiohead, and my brother writing the poppiest songs on the piano. Eventually, I followed suit!

TD: Where did the name Past Life come from? 

DW: Back in high school, my friend Pat Cassidy (The Districts) and I skipped school, channeled our inner Mark Foster, and wrote and recorded this really, really synth-heavy, pop song called Past Life. When trying to come up with a band name, Justin and I were just going through the names of songs we’ve worked on in the past, and Past Life just sounded right.

TD: What are your biggest musical influences?

AMass: Some of my biggest influences would have to be Pink Floyd (I know it's cliché), Tame Impala, Jaco Pastorious, Kendrick Lamar, Victor Wooten, and Robert Glasper Experiment.

AMil: Honestly, a lot of my friends who make music really influence me and how I write! I can't really think of any like well-known or famous artists who I can pinpoint as big inspirations. I guess the artists who I put down as the people I currently listen to would count (especially those who I've been listening to for a while, like Tigers Jaw).

BB: Biggest influences are mewithoutYou, Homeless Gospel Choir, Listener, Kendrick, Yeezus, and Chance.

JS: The Strokes, The National, TWIABP.

DW: Oof, my list goes on forever. A few, for multiple different reasons, are The Strokes, Radiohead, Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Twenty One Pilots, La Dispute, and The Killers.

TD: What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?

AMass: I know I'm late, but I just discovered the album Songs for the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age, Charles Mingus, and King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizzard

AMil: Tigers Jaw, Title Fight, Alvvays, Best Coast, Tombo Crush, Kississippi, Nervous Dater, Sorority Noise, Hop Along, Harmony Woods, Coping Skills, Brand New, Now Now, Frankie Cosmos, Death Cab for Cutie, and so so many more it's hard to name all of them!

BB: Frank Ocean's Blonde Album, Why?, Forest Ranger, Denzel Curry’s The Ultimate.

JS: Hahahahaha…Nox on repeat, Kendrick on repeat. Prince Daddy on repeat. Sorority Noise on repeat.

DW: Definitely have been listening to You’re Not As ___ As You Think by Sorority Noise, DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar, Stage Four by Touche Amoure, Loaf by Nox, and Ti Amo by Phoenix like non-stop for the past week. While we were on tour, we listened to about an hour’s worth of Margaritaville covers, and I think I have serious brain damage from that because it’s always in my head.

TD: What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?

AMass: Ha…the first concert I ever went to was Styx up in the Poconos in this Union Transfer size gig. It was lit. The first album I ever bought was Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. 

AMil: First concert was Kelly Clarkson, and first album was maybe like a Britney Spears CD…lol…I don't really remember.

BB: First concert was Aerosmith or Britney Spears. First album was "Jimi Hendrix smash hit".


DW: First concert was John Fogerty at the Tower Theater, and first album was Dookie by Green Day.

TD: What do you love about Philly?

AMass: Everybody has each other’s back. When Branden and I moved in together, our block was all locals, and we didn't know anyone. Now, we know our entire block, and whenever we need something, they're there for us, and we're there for them.

AMil: It just feels like my home honestly; I feel like I belong here.

BB: I love the kindness of strangers that I don't find in other cities. I love the Art Museum and Kelly Drive.

JS: The people.

DW: I love that there’s a little niche for everyone here. I love going through Old City and being surrounded by so much history.

TD: What do you hate about Philly?

AMass: Parking is the worst and pedestrians crossing the street. When they have the right away to go they wait... then you're light turns green, and they decide to cross the street.

AMil: How hot it gets in the summer and some of the cosmetic changes that are happening - not because they're ugly or anything, but because it feels like aesthetics are being prioritized over things like the issues the school systems are having.

BB: I hate how savage some people are, I hate that Temple’s campus has ample security and lighting, but when you go past 20th, it's like the city doesn't give a fuck.

JS: The people.

DW: The trash. There is so much trash in Philly – I see people just throw it out of their cars all the time. Like, what’s up with that? This is our home.

TD: What are your plans for 2017?

AMass: Go fishin’ with ma buds, crack open some cold ones with the boys, and pump out some jamz.

AMil: Do this whole post-grad DIY music thing. I just graduated, I'm moving in a month, started a new job, and am looking for a second one, so it's a transitional period right now! But I'm gonna keep making music and saving up money for tattoos and stuff.

BB: My plans for 2017 are to catch the mist, catch the spirit, see my friends play music, potluck with Circle of Hope, dance with Shelby under crimson moonlight, laugh with Tony and the boys A LOT, and play on Georgy V's porch as much as possible.

JS: Tour! Shows! Write an LP! Send a single to Mars.

DW: Find a way to somehow ask my boss for a raise while simultaneously ask for more time off for touring, finish writing our first LP, learn trumpet, go to more shows, and tour!

TD: What was your most memorable live show?

AMass: Most memorable live show with Past Life was easily Fallston, MD. The nicest people I've ever met. Seeing people know our songs out of state is the coolest feeling ever. But one of the most memorable shows I've been to was Purity Ring because of their stage setup and lighting. They had lights raining down from the ceiling, and Megan James had these lights that would reflect off her gloves and into the crowd, and Corin Roddick would hit these lights that work as sampler type things. They just put on a great live experience.

AMil: The most memorable show I've played, in general, was probably the last night of Past Life's recent tour, when our friend, who runs the venue, Devon, asked us to play all 9 of our songs, and a lot of people were dancing and singing along! The most memorable show I've seen was probably last November when I saw Brand New in Allentown, and they played The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me straight through.

BB: Fallston, Maryland. They make it feel like Christmas...all year long.

JS: Our show – First time at Grateful Acres, kids out state singing our songs before we had real music. And that bonfire. Hellllll yeah. A show – Old Gray/Milo/Clique/Thin Lips at PhilaMOCA. That show made me want to create art with my friends again.

DW: Out of our shows, Grateful Acres in Fallston never disappoints me. Our closing show for tour was unbelievable and completely humbling. Out of shows I’ve attended, probably the first night of Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell tour at the Academy of Music – felt like my soul was leaving my body.

TD: What's your favorite thing to get at the deli?

AMass: Definitely that sausage egg and cheese on a plain bagel.

AMil: Those big black and white cookies are fun! Or if it's at the deli I grew up with on Long Island, I like to get an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese and an iced coffee.

BB: I like to get my custom sandwich from that deli on 17th. Waffles with an egg inside. I call it the "hell yeah Devon".

JS: 10 A smile ‘cause I only go when I'm sad.

DW: When we were in NYC on this last tour, we stayed at a friend’s house in Manhattan, and I got some sandwich called the Manchurian Candidate. I have no idea what was on it, but it was greasy and delicious, and I’m probably going to be searching for it again for the rest of my life.