Reviews

When We Break

Author: Ed Condran
01/20/2006 | Asbury Park Press | www.app.com | Live Show Preview
Many musicians can't imagine what they would devote their lives to if they had to choose another vocation. And then there is Stephen Pedersen.

The leader of the Nebraska-based Criteria would become a full-time attorney. In fact, Pedersen has been a practicing barrister since 2001, but the gig has only been a side job since he devotes much of his time to Criteria.

"I'm still involved with law," Pedersen said while calling from his Omaha home. "I help out (musician) friends with entertainment law. I do things by word-of-mouth. I keep my foot in the door, but the bottom line for me is that I love making music. I don't love writing briefs. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of law, but it doesn't give me a passport to get around the world for free. You don't get that intense gratification you receive when you play live. That feeling is so immediate and so intense as a musician. No one is screaming for you to play another brief while you're in your office."

Pedersen and his Criteria bandmates, guitarist Aaron Druery, bassist A.J. Mogis and drummer Mike Sweeney, should receive plenty of adulation when the band showcases its debut disc, "When We Break," tonight at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. The disc is full of urgent, anthemic, cathartic indie rock. Many of the clever, inspired tunes are visceral gems. Ten of the 11 tracks are short, compact, emotional tracks.

"Each side of me is covered in these songs," Pedersen said. "I'm a big fan of efficiency. The songs have that passionate side, which I get from my mother, who is Sicilian, and then there is the structured side, the very disciplined side, which I get from my father, who is Danish. The songs are like my fingerprints."

After performing in such bands as Cursive and White Octave since the early '90s, Pedersen can't believe that he's never played New Jersey.

"It's amazing that in my 15 years of playing out on the road that I've never been to Jersey before," Pedersen said. "I'm excited since I love playing new places."

Count on Pedersen to continue his balance of music and law after the "When We Break" tour ends.
"It's a challenge," Pedersen said. "As much as I love music, I'm not giving up law. I continue to pay my malpractice insurance and stay up with all that I need to in law. I'm just fortunate I can do two things . . . Most people would be happy to do one of them."
When We Break

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