Git er done…. Oh wait this is a different kind of Blue Collar Man. The kind whose hard work and determination gained him multi-platinum status as a solo artist, yet still made the gamble of a lifetime 14 years ago by joining the legendary STYX. A gamble that was sure to pay off, as the frontman in the longest running line-up ever for STYX, Lawrence Gowan is living the dream that even the most successful musicians still dream about. Recently, I caught up with Lawrence during a tour stop in San Antonio, TX (just like the famous song), where we spoke about everything from Chuck Panozzo to Children of Bodom. Oh, and don’t worry about having to actually read this time around, just click the play button below, sit back with a frosty one, and enjoy…
For more info on STYX, including Tour Dates visit the band’s official website here. Special thanks go out to Lawrence Gowan for so graciously giving me his time, and to Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making it all happen.
As I sit here trying to preface one of the best interviews I have conducted in a while, I am met with an eerily familiar foe… writer’s block. Perhaps it is because there are no words to describe the remarkable success RAINS has achieved sans the help of a major label. Perhaps it is the fact that the stories behind the “Stories” are impactful beyond words. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve consumed one too many Captain and Cokes. Whatever the reason is, you’re probably asking yourself “What the fuck kind of title is that?”. Well sit back, pour your own damn cocktail, and relax as we delve into the mind of a remarkable talent who, next time we talk, will undoubtedly need no introduction. Join me as we talk with Jeff Rains about everything from panhandling-to-pirating music-to-you guessed it, eating shit. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Neither artist, nor author have ever taken part in eating shit. No shit was harmed during the making of this interview.]
AWAY-TEAM: First I’d like to congratulate you on the success of your album, which by the way is fantastic…
JEFF RAINS: Well thank you!
AWAY-TEAM: …also the current single “Look in My Eyes”. As we speak now, you’re on the current leg of the Share the Welt Tour with Five Finger Death Punch, All That Remains, and Hatebreed. How’s that been going thus far?
JEFF RAINS: It is phenomonal. Ya know, we were a little bit nervous about it because, you’ve heard our album, and all of the other bands on the tour are so much heavier than us. So we got offered the tour, and we had alot of reservations about it. We weren’t sure if we should take it or not, but we did alot of research and basically everybody that we talked to said ‘That’s the tour that you need to be on. That’s THE tour!’ So we ended up taking it, and it was a big risk, but we’ve been accepted and it’s going great. The bands are all phenomonal to us, the crew is great to us, and it’s just awesome.
AWAY-TEAM: Very cool! So when di you first decide that you wanted to write and record music for a living? And what was the driving force behind it?
JEFF RAINS: I was, I think 16 years old, I was brought up on the whole 70′s music scene. My dad was big into Led Zeppelin, CCR, all that stuff, so I grew up listening to that, and then I also grew up listening to alot of Country music. And first Woodstock ’94 happened, and my brother and I were not allowed to watch MTV but we had this little 10 inch TV in our bedroom, and when our parents would go to bed we’d turn it on and turn on MTV and they’d be showing clips from Woodstock, like Green Day and the mud fights and all that stuff. We were like “What in the hell is this?” It was amazing, we’d never seen anything like it. So then I started looking into it a little more, and I stumbled across, well I guess you wouldn’t say stumbled across because it was right in my face the whole time, but the whole Seattle, ya know Alice in Chains-Pearl Jam grunge scene. Right then it was like, it wasn’t even a choice, it was just ‘This is what I’m doing’ ya know. If you listen to the album, I’m just so influenced by that whole Seattle scene, and I still am. I mean, everyday before we go on stage, on the bus we’re listening to either Alice in Chains, or Soundgarden, or Pearl Jam. Then our intro to our show is “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, ya know, so all of those influences are still there and I really like that.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned earlier that you’re band is a little bit different sounding than the other bands on the tour. You’ve been compared alot to bands like Default, Nickelback, and I’ve even heard Staind. If you had to describe your sound to someone that has never heard your music before, what would be your answer?
JEFF RAINS: I’ve been asked this question alot, and the best answer I can come up with is I think it’s a modern day, 90′s Seattle grunge scene sound. The record’s called “Stories” and I really got sick of the cookie-cutter BS that was on the radio. Bands singing about drugs, and drinking, and whatever they sing about. I just wanted to do something real, and something honest, and tell some real stories. I think it’s paying off for us, and people are connecting with it. It’s really cool to see.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you mentioned the album is called “Stories”, the story telling aspect of your songwriting has more of a direct approach than the average artist, I know we touched on it a little bit earlier, but who are some of the artists that influenced that aspect?
JEFF RAINS: I think the story telling part comes from listening to Country music. I mean, I listened to alot of Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and stuff like that. I don’t know, as I’ve said I’ve been obsessed with that whole Seattle scene, I don’t know if that had anything to do with the story telling or not, but I would attribute it mostly to listening to Country music. Because Country music, I don’t know what it is now because I don’t really listen to it anymore, but back then it was story telling. All these Country artists would tell these amazing stories during their songs and I thought that was so cool. So, yeah I think that’s where it mostly came from.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s actually one of the things that I love about your album.
JEFF RAINS: Right on. And I think that’s one of the things that people connect with the most, ya know. People are so used to the current music scene and where it’s at, and they’re just expecting these cookie cutter songs where ‘We’re up all night partying..’ Whatever. It is what it is. So I think when people hear us for the first time, they’re more taken aback than anything, like “Wow, this is actually real music for once. Real stories, about real people. This is cool!” I actually read a really cool article the other day, I don’t even know where I found it, I didn’t interview with them or anything, they just wrote it about us, and the subject said “RAINS-The Band That’s Bringing Back True Rock n’ Roll” I was like “Holy crap! That’s awesome!” That’s what I feel like I’m trying to do.
AWAY-TEAM: Being that the songs on the album are a collection of stories, what song on the album had the most profound meaning in your personal life?
JEFF RAINS: I think the song “Hurricane”. “Hurricane” was really cool, because I was in Austin, TX, before I was really pushing the music thing I was working for another company. And I was walking down the street, and some homeless guy came up to me and asked me for $3.96. I didn’t have any cash on me, and I said “I don’t have any cash on me.” and he was like “Yeah, I get that all the time. Whatever.” I said ‘Well, what do you need it for?” and he said “I need to buy a 40, and one cigarette.” I said “OK, thanks for being honest with me” and I sat down with him and I said “Can I hear your story? I don’t wanna impose or anything, but do you mind filling me in a little bit?” and he told me his whole story. As soon as he was doen, I went to the ATM, took out $20, handed it to him, and said “Buy whatever you gotta buy, but make sure you at least get some food too.” The song “Hurricane” is his whole story, and it’s a very sad song, but in that song I felt like I finally hit where I wanted to hit in the songwriting. I felt like that was where I finally told a story the way I wanted to tell a story. It was awesome, I was just in Austin like two days ago, and that’s all I kept thinking about the whole time. I was like “This is the place.” I actually stood right where I talked to the guy, it was really cool.
AWAY-TEAM: Wow. That is awesome! Many of the songs on the album seem to also be almost interconnected as part of a bigger story. Can you kinda briefly take us throught the album and give us sort of an abridged version of that story?
JEFF RAINS: Well, I’ve been married for almost 8 years, and during the writing for the album my wife and I seperated for a bit, and the majority of the songs on the album are about that. I think every song with the exception of “Hurricane” is a song directly from my own life. I mean, I wrote about what I was going through every day. Ya know, it’s great to be able to put yourself out there, and put your life out there, people respond to it. Luckily the response has been great, so. Yeah, if it seems like there is a story within the “Stories” record, that’s what it is. It’s the story of that time period in my life, and everything I was going through.
AWAY-TEAM: And you’re still married now?
JEFF RAINS: Oh yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: So how’s that work when she hears a song like “Hate”? (laughs)
JEFF RAINS: (laughs) That’s been a bit of a sore subject. She’s over it now, but when I first wrote it… yeah, didn’t go over too well. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well, I’m glad to hear everything worked out for ya.
JEFF RAINS: Yeah, everything worked out great. Like the song “Liar”, I don’t know how people interpret that song, but… that song is completely referring to myself. I just wasn’t doing the right thing in my marriage at the time. So alot of that stuff is completely personal reference. It’s basically me dogging myself the whole record. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Hey, that’s what makes it genuine.
JEFF RAINS: It worked, so. (laughs) It is what it is. It was definitely a sore subject for a while though. (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: The way this album was written reminds me alot of Sixx A.M.’s “The Heroin Diaries”, in the respect that it could easily be a sountrack to someone’s life. If you could write the soundtrack to the biography of any one musician’s life, who would it be?
JEFF RAINS: Oh man, that’s a tough question. Probably Layne Staley, or Scott Weiland, or Maynard from Tool. Or even Phil Collins, I don’t know, I have alot of artists that have influenced me alot, so that list could go on for days.
AWAY-TEAM: Your day job at one time was actually as a tattoo artist?
JEFF RAINS: Correct.
AWAY-TEAM: What’s the funniest, weirdest, or coolest tat you’ve ever done? Cuz I’ve seen some funny shit out there.
JEFF RAINS: I tattooed a piece of shit on someone once…
AWAY-TEAM: (Laughs hysterically)
JEFF RAINS: ..and here’s the fucked up part. I tattooed a piece of shit on them because they supposedly won a bet. The bet was if he ate shit, he got paid $100. So he ate the shit, got paid $100, and then came and spent the $100 on a tattoo of shit!
AWAY-TEAM: (laughing) What the fuck?
JEFF RAINS: (laughing) I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding you.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh my God!
JEFF RAINS: Yeah. And another weird one, this guy was… I’m not even worried about him reading this, I’m not gonna say his name, but if he ever learned what the internet was, he’d know it was him. But, every Friday the 13th, our tattoo studio was called Studio 13, so every Friday the 13th we would do $13 tattoos. We’d just have these sheets of little 2″x 2″ tattoos, nothing crazy, but one of the tattoos one day was, you know the “Calvin” cartoon pissing?
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, yeah.
JEFF RAINS: So this guy had his ex-girlfriend’s name tattooed right behind his ear, so then on his neck he had me tattoo the “Calvin” cartoon pissing on his ex-girlfriend’s name.
JEFF RAINS: (laughing) And when I did it I said “Do you really want this on your neck forever?”, and he was that type of guy. He was like ”Hell yeah dude! This is gonna be fucking awesome!” I was like “Ok, whatever.” (laughs) But yeah, that’s why I stopped tattooing. I hated it. I hated that part of it, because people are, I don’t know how to put this diplomatically. Some people don’t follow your recommendations as a tattoo artist, and they’ll get the dumbest shit in the history of the world tattooed on them. And I just got so jaded, I was like “I didn’t sign up for this.” I signed up to make art, not a Calvin cartoon pissing on a girlfriend’s name, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Your success, has been found thus far through the independent release of your album. There’s been a recent trend of bands trying to get out of their major label deals and back to basics. Does that sometimes deter you from seeking the support of a major label? Or do you kinda take the approach that it works for some and not for others?
JEFF RAINS: From day one, I have said that I wanna be independent. It’s gonna take a hell of alot for me to sign with a major label, or with any label. We’re on our own label, we handle everything ourselves, we have our own PR team, we have our own radio team, we have our own distribution, so. With the record industry the way it is right now, the only way you’re gonna make, and I don’t give a shit what any other band says “Yeah we wanna do it for the music” What the fuck ever, you wanna get paid! You start out wanting to do it for the music, but then when you’re $400,000 in debt, it’s like “OK, I kinda need to get paid at some point.” The only way to get paid these days, is to be independent, and be your own record label. So, I guess to answer your question, at no point in the immediate future or the far future will I be seeking out label support. And I’m very proud of that, and all of the bands we’re on tour with are on major labels and they’re just astounded that we’re doing this on our own.
AWAY-TEAM: That blows my mind too. The success that you guys have had being an independent band, it’s really kinda refreshing to see.
JEFF RAINS: Well I thank you for that. I’ll take that as a compliment. It’s refreshing to be in this position, to be honest with you, because we aren’t getting screwed out of evey penny we make. We make every penny we make, it goes straight to the band. So we’re able to be on a tour bus, we’re able to be on these big tours, we’re able to finance the things we’re able to finance because, believe it or not it takes a hell of alot of money to be in the music business. It’s not like, your playing some crappy bar and some A&R guy is gonna find you and sign you that night on a paper napkin. That’s not how it works. this business is so much about numbers now, and I’m just so happy to be where we are. Being independent and not having to depend on anyone else, and not have to pay everything we make to everybody else, ya know. It’s a really good feeling.
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of the record industry, there’s been recent rumor of the demise of the CD. Do you think that’s a good thing for the industry? What are your thoughts on that?
JEFF RAINS: I’ll give you an example, last night we played a show, I think there was 5,000 people there. One guy came up to me and he said ”I’ve been listening to you guys for two years straight. I’ve been obsessed with you guys. I’m gonna be honest, I downloaded your CD off the internet.” But he had 5 copies of the CD in his hand that he had just bought from the merch table. My approach is, if people want free music, let ‘em have it. The whole goal is to spread the word right? So it they’re still coming out to concerts, and still paying for those concert tickets, and still buying our merch, what the hell do I care? It served it’s purpose, I mean the guy was standing there with 5 CD’s. So he downloaded one for free, great, he paid it back to us ten times over at that show last night. And that’s normally how it goes. Alot of bands aren’t like this, but I encourage people. If you can find my CD for free, download it. Don’t even call it stealing, call it my gift to you. I just want people to hear it, and hopefully they like it. It will pay off at the end of the day, whether the record labels say it will or not, I know personally that it will.
AWAY-TEAM: Well hey Jeff, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a great pleasure.
JEFF RAINS: Right on. Thank you man!
AWAY-TEAM: Best of luck in everything you do, and hopefully I’ll catch up with you next time you guys make your way through Florida.
JEFF RAINS: Definitely.
AWAY-TEAM: Alright man, we’ll talk soon.
JEFF RAINS: Alright, thanks alot man! Bye.
For more RAINS including, music, merch, and tour dates visit the bands official website here.
Special thanks to Jeff Rains for so graciously giving me his time, and also to Doug Weber at New Ocean Media for making it all happen.
My first introduction to Wayne Static came back in 1999 in the form of “Push It”, the first single off Static-X’s platinum-selling debut album Wisconsin Death Trip. I was an instant fan. Never before had I heard such a unique and deliberate stylistic approach so neatly melded with an industrial rock sound. It was born, Wayne Static’s mad genius had created the Frankenstein that would become known as “Evil Disco”. Twelve short years later, that brazen young newcomer has transformed into solo artist, CEO, and the godfather of modern industrial rock. I recently caught up with Static to talk about everything from rap-to-the recording industry-to-rusty Oldsmobiles. So relax, have a seat, and get ready, your consultation with Dr. Pighammer is about to begin…
AWAY-TEAM: First, I’d like to congratulate you on the release of Pighammer, your first ever solo project which was just released on your own label Dirthouse Records…
WAYNE STATIC: Thank you!
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to talk to you a bit about that later. But first I’d like to know, when did you decide that you wanted to do a solo album? What was kinda the driving force behind that?
WAYNE STATIC: Well, I actually first wanted to do it back in 2001. It was when I was finishing up writing the Machine record, and realizing that it was just kind of me, writing everything by myself, while the other guys partied and did whatever they wanted, did their own side projects. Then they’d come back, and I’d have to compromise and argue with them about this and that. By the time we recorded the record, I was already sick of all the songs, and felt that some of the original energy and excitement was lost from the songs. So, it’s been in my head for over ten years, but I kinda had to wait for the right time because for me to do a solo record it meant I had to put Static-X on the shelf for a while. I knew that we still had a lot of stuff to do, so after the 2009 tour was done I felt like it was the right time to do it. Everyone was kinda ready to take a break from the band and do their own thing, and I was definitely ready to take a break and do my own thing, so here we are.
AWAY-TEAM: There’s actually a bit of a story behind the Pighammer character, explain that to me.
WAYNE STATIC: Well, the theme of the album is transformation, and we were trying to think of a cool way to depict that. It’s sort of a dark comedy type of thing where, I’m this mad plastic surgeon who changes my wife into a pig with this Pighammer surgical tool that we made up. Some people try to take that too literally, and try to read into what it is, but it’s really just sort of a humorous look at transformation.
AWAY-TEAM: I know you were once featured in the Eternal Descent comic book series, is there any chance we see Pighammer in a similar situation? Or maybe even a movie?
WAYNE STATIC: I’m always open to that kind of stuff, ya know. The last comic book thing, the Eternal Descent thing, kinda came my way through the guitar company I was working with for the last few years. I think it’s cool, I think my look lends itself very well to that sort of animation. So any time anyone makes me an offer for that sort of thing, I think it’s cool, I like to see the way it comes out. So if you wanna make a movie that sounds cool too.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I’ll get working on that! (both laugh)
WAYNE STATIC: Alright let’s do it!
AWAY-TEAM: I understand that prior to making this album you and your wife sold your house in L.A. and moved out to the desert, what prompted a move like that?
WAYNE STATIC: Ya know, we both grew up in small little farm towns, and then we both ended up in the city… and Tera never liked L.A. she just came there for me, and I kinda grew to hate it there too. There’s just too much traffic and congestion, and we’ve had the house out in the high desert in Joshua Tree for a long time, and we used to just go there for the weekends. We were like ‘Well, what if we just moved out there and forget about L.A.?’ So it worked out pretty well, we love it, it’s kind of come full circle. Ya know, we live in the middle of nowhere, just like where we grew up.
AWAY-TEAM: Back to basics. Now, the first single “Assasins of Youth”, the video for which by the way is visually brilliant, I have to commend you on that…
WAYNE STATIC: Thanks man.
AWAY-TEAM: …that song is actually about your last days of drug use, and it took several years to write. You actually wrote the first part during a bit of a bender, tell me about that. And when you perform the song now is it more of a ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ feeling? Or is it more of a liberating reminder of what you’ve overcome?
WAYNE STATIC: That song, and the whole album, was written and recorded while we were getting off drugs, and withdrawing, and going through these changes. So that’s really like the biggest transformation of all, so that song in particular I thought was a great first single because it kinda sums it all up. Ya know, I started writing that song in 2007, and finished it up during the Pighammer recording sessions. But in general, the whole album deals with that. Ya know, we didn’t go to rehab or any crap like that. I still drink alcohol, I’m not a quitter.
WAYNE STATIC: There was a point where we kinda realized that it wasn’t fun anymore. For me, it was just not healthy, so while we were actually making the record we spent some time cleaning up. So that’s really what a lot of the record is about.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned that you still drink alcohol, it’s funny you said that, because I had read an article a while ago about Scott Weiland and he still drinks. And I had always wondered, is that something that kind of let’s you say ‘Hey, I do have some self control’, is that an accurate assessment?
WAYNE STATIC: Ya know, I think people that have to go to rehab, maybe they don’t really wanna quit doing drugs, ya know. For me, it was a choice, and it’s not easy but when you know you gotta do it, and you wanna do it, you just deal with it. I don’t see any reason to quit drinking. Fuck, I’ve been drinking since I was 20, I’m 45, I’ll be 46 next month. So I’ve been an alcoholic for 30 years now, so why should I quit drinking? (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: Amen to that! (both laugh) So back to the “Assasins…” video, was it hard shooting a video with a full time chub?
WAYNE STATIC: (laughs) It was a fun and difficult shoot at the same time. It was a lot of fun, cuz the video is supposed to be funny, if you take it too literal then some people have problems with it. I knew it was kind of a risky move to do something like that. But it was kinda tough, because we did it with no money, and we kinda did it guerilla style. A friend of ours, Matt Zane, shot it by himself with no help. We were at this little hotel room, up in the high desert, and they didn’t know we were shooting it, because we didn’t wanna spend any money on the video. And it was the summer time, so it was like over 100 degrees in the room, and we were there for three days, so it was kinda brutal in that respect. But I think the video turned out great, and it seems like everyone really digs it. It’s a really fun, kind of different video.
AWAY-TEAM: I was really impressed with it. So being on the road and trying to maintain a sobriety is a bit of a daunting task. What kind of support system do you have with you to keep you from the temptations of the road?
WAYNE STATIC: I’m not even tempted anymore. I mean you could chop up some Oxycontin and put it right in front of my face, and I wouldn’t do it because I just don’t want to. I mean, I’ve seen the dark side of drug addiction and I don’t ever wanna be there again. So I don’t need a support system, I’m just over it, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: That’s great!
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of your wife, the first single from the last Static-X album was “Stingwray”, which is an ode to both your wife and her car. There’s another song on the album called “Z-28″ , so one can only assume that you’re a big car fanatic…
WAYNE STATIC: Definitely. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: What was the coolest car you ever owned? And also, what was the biggest piece of shit you’ve ever owned?
WAYNE STATIC: The biggest piece of shit was definitely my very first car. Which a friend gave to me, because it was a worthless piece of shit. This was back in the 80′s, it was an old Oldsmobile Delta ’88. It barely ran, it was all rusted through, so I spray painted it black, and spray painted the KISS Army logo on the back of it, put a plastic machine gun in the window, and got pulled over all the time because the cops thought I had a real gun in the window. (both laugh) So that was definitely the biggest piece of shit. When I moved to L.A., I couldn’t give the car away. I drove it to the dump and they gave me $80 for it, so that was a sad day. (laughs) Probably the coolest car, ya know it’s hard to say, we’ve got a bunch of old muscle cars, and a couple cool little trucks. I guess I’d have to say the 2008 Challenger SRT8 that we got. It was the first edition numbered car, one of 6400 made, 450hp from the factory, just a badass car. We used to take it out once or twice a month and drive it, and keep it in the garage most of the time.
AWAY-TEAM: Wow! Yeah, when I heard “Stingwray” , I’ve wanted a Corvette ever since I can remember, so I said I gotta ask him about that!
WAYNE STATIC: Yeah, Tera’s car is awesome too, it’s all original. It’s a ’79, original paint, original interior, so it’s really cool. Before we got the Challenger, my Z-28 was my favorite car, but after driving 450hp with traction control and ginormous brakes so you can go fast and stop when you want it to, we don’t even drive the other cars anymore. (both laugh)
AWAY-TEAM: Also on the Static-X front, what are the future plans for Static-X?
WAYNE STATIC: I don’t have any plans right now. I haven’t even talked to the other guys in the last couple years. Everyone’s doing their thing, I’m having a great time. I’ve got my band together, we’re finally on the road, my album’s finally out. So for me it’s just kind of the start of this whole new journey, and that’s all I see in the near future. I’m not opposed to putting Static-X back together at some point, but right now I’m gonna see this project through.
AWAY-TEAM: Okay. Now you recently received the “Best Metal Frontman”, award, deservedly so, at the Vegas Rocks! Awards. I look at something genuine like that, and then I look at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They’ve snubbed some of the greatest musicians of all time, and then I just saw recently that the rap group Eric B. & Rakim are nominated for this year’s class. What are your thoughts on that? And if they came knocking, say ten years down the road, would you accept the honor?
WAYNE STATIC: If anyone wants to recognize something I’ve done, of course I will accept it. But I agree with you that the Hall of Fame, as much as the Grammys and all of that is just a political thing. People like us, we realize that, but alot of the rest of the world doesn’t. When I was younger I didn’t realize that the Grammys weren’t real, ya know. (both laugh) I mean I would definitely graciously accept any award like that but, it is what it is, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve been in the music industry long enough to see the evolution from cassettes-to-CD’s-to-MP3′s, now the latest wave of the future is streaming. There seems to be mixed reviews on that, some think it helps sell records, others think it takes away from sales, what are your thoughts on streaming and it’s impact on the artist or label?
WAYNE STATIC: Well, in general, I hate the internet. I wish it would die, I wish it would go away. I think it ruined a lot of things. It ruined music, it ruined people’s social skills, it ruined print, it ruined the world in my opinion. (laughs) It’s fucking Skynet from The Terminator, it’s gonna be the demise of civilization as we know it. But, having said that, it is here to stay, and I use it to promote myself, because that’s just the way it is now. As far as streaming, I think it’s cool. I had my album streaming for an entire week before it came out, because if it’s good people are gonna talk about it. The people who really go andd buy CD’s are gonna buy it, and the people who don’t buy CD’s are not gonna buy it either way. So I’m all in support of it, obviously the streaming thing is a lower quality audio, and you can’t download it and all that crap… I mean, I’m sure you can, I’m sure they make programs for that… but it still sounds like shit. So the people that are gonna buy the CD are gonna do it, and I think letting people hear it, they’re just gonna talk positive things and more people will end up buying the CD in the end.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, there’s no such thing as bad promotion. Last, but not least… I know you’re probably sick of hearing this, but obviously over the years you’ve been compared to the dude from the Slim Jim commercials…
WAYNE STATIC: Not so much lately. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) …Well that’s a good thing! So much so to the point that there were rumors that you were asked to be the spokesperson. I want you to set the record straight, is there any truth to any of that? And if not, can we give the people who still refer to you that way one final ‘Shut the fuck up!’?
WAYNE STATIC: It’s true that they did approach me at one point to do some promotional stuff for them, and I turned it down. Because I don’t think the way I look is a joke. I look the way I look, because I think it’s cool. I mean, I realize that some people think it’s a joke, but whatever, the reason I did it in the beginning is so that people remember me. If you think I’m dumb looking, if you think I’m cool looking, either way people will remember me. I’m one of the most recognizable rock stars that there’s probably ever been.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely, you’re like a fucking brand!
WAYNE STATIC: (laughs) Right. But I did turn that down.
AWAY-TEAM: Good for you! I see the reasoning behind it, and I definitely can appreciate that. Wayne, thanks so much for your time. It’s been a great pleasure and an honor. Best of luck with the new album, the label, and everything that you do!
WAYNE STATIC: Thanks man! It’s been nice talking to you.
AWAY-TEAM: You too, take it easy.
WAYNE STATIC: Bye.
For more Wayne Static including tour dates and to purchase music visit his official website here.
Special thanks to Wayne Static for so graciously giving me his time, and to Sammy Mazur at VQPR for making it all happen.
Interview: MACHINE HEAD’s Dave McClain – From Gaga to Dub Step to the heaviest fucking metal Machine Head has made
Away-Team: I’m sitting backstage at Mayhem Fest with Dave McClain from the Bay Area’s Machine Head. Thanks Dave for your patience while we navigated through the ridiculousness that was the venue trying to get the gates open an hour late. Let’s just get right into it shall we?
Dave McClain: Absolutely man, no problem.
Away-Team: Machine Head released The Blackening in 2007 to critical praise. To many, myself included it was the album of the year, and again for myself it was the best album Machine Head has ever put out.
Dave McClain: Awesome, wow! Thank you.
Away-Team: There was a ton of press overseas that embraced you and the album and sang the praise of Machine Head and The Blackening. While the US press didn’t seem to even acknowledge Machine Head even existed. It seemed to me that you guys couldn’t even get arrested here. What is it about Europe and their fans that seem to embrace metal so openly and fully, and yet the states can seem to be bothered with it? What I’m asking is… Is it the fans that feed the media over there or the media embracing the music and opening up the fans to it?
Dave McClain: It’s something you really can’t put your finger on here. You go anywhere else in the world and it’s the same mentality as when we were all kids getting into metal. When I started getting into Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal back then… I think it’s the same thing here now, it’s a sub culture a community of misfits that latched on to this type of music and to this day around the world people simply live for this music. There are so many different things going on in the States to take your time and attention. It is so big over here territory wise that it’s harder to get to everyone or get everyone together for larger shows. Where Germany is the size of Texas and we can spend a week just in Germany hitting thousands and thousands of people, where in Texas there is a lot of empty space between towns and we’re playing to hundreds of people instead. There are so many types of music pushed here in the states and so many of those avenues don’t promote metal, I think Revolver is pretty much the only US magazine that promotes metal. And they are warming up to Machine Head now which is cool. There definitely was a while there in the US before The Blackening even where we couldn’t get any attention at all. We were sitting there like, ‘come on man, we’re right here!’ and they were just, ‘No thanks we’re going to go cover hip hop’ or whatever. So now, Through The Ashes was the record that finally kicked the door in a little and got our foot in. And The Blackening was the one that re-established us. It is getting better here; we are definitely NOT giving up on the US. We’ve never been that band in the US that’s just exploded! It’s always just been a fight for us, and that’s cool to us. Back in the day when gold records mattered we’d still be playing the same size venues as bands that had gold records. But it is coming around again now. Thank god for festivals like this. That are really band friendly and people like John Reese the guy that puts this thing on (John Reese is co-creator of Rockstar Mayhem Fest) loves metal, he tours with the festival, gets the bands together and has theme parties during the tour for the bands. It’s very cool to have the organizer be that involved with the tour and with the bands on that level. And then today with the internet the way it is, any interview you do can go anywhere, be read or heard anywhere in the world now. So that helps a lot in getting the word out about Machine Head.
Away-Team: So to you what is the main difference between US festivals like Mayhem and the European Festivals?
Dave McClain: Well mainly the festivals over there are just like for a weekend, where these are tours. It’s a lot of camping out over there, tent cities and stuff. They’re like the super die hards there. You’ve got some popping up here now like that, like Bonnaroo and Coachella. It’s really just a matter of time I hope before you see Metallica do like a Sonisphere over here you know? Just have a two day festival and do four or five of them around the country. And over there the festivals are pretty diverse music style wise.
Away-Team: You get a little bit of everything in a two day festival there. More of a “Lollapalooza” feel over there.
Dave McClain: Right, exactly. And this, while it is a tour, it’s different. Because for us, well, for the side stage bands, that’s the crowds we’re used to, the kids are flying around, the dirt is flying around, and everything is going crazy. Then you come over here to the main stage and you’re playing to a lot of people that don’t even get here till six o’clock and could give a shit about Machine Head or even Megadeth or Trivium. They’re just here for Godsmack or just Disturbed.
Away-Team: Those would be the people telling me to sit down and shut up as I’m trying to enjoy the show and your set.
Dave McClain: Right! Right. And we’re trying to win them over. And it is a great feeling really, because it’s just as good as having your crowd on the other stages in front of you, as having a new crowd being won over as they start to stand in their seats as our set goes on. We and Trivium have been doing this… and some days you come off the main stage and you’re just like ‘Fuck, man, those people could just give a shit about us.’ But then the days you do win them over, it is like the best feeling in the world.
Away-Team: You are getting ready to release Unto The Locust next month (out September 27th!!!), what can we expect from the new stuff? Is it a progression from The Blackening? Is it a foray into a new Machine Head sound? Have you finally gone Dub Step to get on the radio?
Dave McClain: (laughs), Yeah! That’s it! Really, we just definitely challenged ourselves going into it. We were in no way going to make The Blackening II. From Through The Ashes Of Empires to The Blackening to now, there are the same feelings going on and we’re just pushing them further. The main difference is that we now have total musical freedom; no one is looking over our shoulder. Roadrunner is just like, ‘Just give us the record and we’ll run with it.’ We’ve tried to challenge ourselves as musicians. The first song we wrote called This Is The End, Robb and I got together one day after everyone had taken a couple months off and he’s like, ‘It’s not complete yet, but I’ve got this song here…’ and he goes into this classical guitar thing that he couldn’t really play that well yet because he’d just gotten into the classical guitar thing. Then the song just goes into this super blast beat thrashy thing and we were just, ‘FUCK! It’s the first song and it is already a super hard one to play!’ And that just set the tone for the whole album writing process. On this new album we have the hardest, fastest, most brutal stuff we’ve done. And then we have the song Locust which is middle of the road, like almost a rock song for us with groovin’ beats, it’s just really weird. We’ve got some super dark stuff on there and then some mellow stuff that gets heavier, but over all just super dark theme wise. Robb Flynn went up to New York and started taking classical guitar lessons from this guy at the same time he was taking vocal lessons from Lady Gaga’s vocal coach. It’s all just us trying to push ourselves into a new place.
Away-Team: According to your bio, you are originally from Germany, yet speaking to you, you have no accent.
Dave McClain: Well I was born there; my dad was in the military…
Away-Team: Ah, that explains that…
Dave McClain: Yes, I am not a German. (laughs)
Away-Team: So how did you end up in the Bay Area and in Machine Head?
Dave McClain: I joined Machine Head in the end of 95 and I moved there in January of 96.
Away-Team: I know Machine Head went through something like 3 drummers in one year…
Dave McClain: Yeah, by the time I got to them they were pretty sick of drummers!
Away-Team: They were through playing Spinal Tap?
Dave McClain: Totally! But instead of their drummers dying there were just… ah, never mind, I’m not going there…
Away-Team: Ok, moving on!
Dave McClain: Yeah, moving on (laughs), so I was in a band called Sacred Reich out of Phoenix,
Away-Team: Yes, I am very familiar with Sacred Reich!
Dave McClain: Awesome! So a mutual friend of ours, who worked for Century Media at the time, knew they were looking, so he was helping them find a drummer, and he called Igor from Sepultura who also lived in Phoenix at the time. Igor was like, ‘Call Dave man.’ So Robb called me and at first I said no thanks, I was going to stick it out with Sacred Reich. That day I was laying in my bed and I was like, ‘What am I doing?!?’ Don’t get me wrong, I love Sacred Reich, but they were notoriously kind of lazy, and talking to Robb and only hearing Burn My Eyes once or twice… Just talking to Robb and hearing his passion and determination I was like, ‘What am I doing? These guys are where I’m at we’re like on the same wave length here.’ So I called Robb back and I’m like, ‘Hey man, I thought about it and I really want to do this!’ So he said to come in and audition. So I went out and auditioned, we played the whole Burn My Eyes record a few times and I could tell they were really into it, we were jamming really good. Then they kind of left me hanging as they went through the audition process for another week or so. And they called me up and told me to move out.
Away-Team: You were out on the road with Metallica for like a year, year and a half off and on. What are the pros and cons of supporting the biggest metal band in the world?
Dave McClain: There were definitely way more highs than lows on that tour. When they first asked us we had to tell them no! We’d already committed to doing the Slipknot tour over in Europe. They said, ‘That’s cool, we totally respect that, we’ll be touring for a while so we’ll work something out.’ Then they offered us all these dates and…
Away-Team: Yes, you were basically on the second leg of the Death Magnetic Tour correct?
Dave McClain: Yes, we did the US, Europe and then other countries like Poland and a bunch of little weird countries too. And with them being the not just the biggest metal bands, but being one of the biggest bands on the planet… the way they treat bands is fucking amazing! They are at the point where they just take bands out that they want to take. I mean they didn’t need us. They didn’t need The Sword, or Lamb Of God, they didn’t need Mastodon, but they WANTED us and them. They just take really good care of everyone. Like once a week they’ll take the bands out to a restaurant and just hang, and eat and drink. They took us on their jet for a show and, just made sure we were taken care of while we were out with them. The one thing about opening for them is that everyone in that crowd is there for them. Metallica didn’t need us to open, and the crowd didn’t fucking care that we were there (laughs)!
Away-Team: I can totally see that here in the states than Europe because they tend to be much more open minded musically there…
Dave McClain: Yeah, but still you get the Metallica die hards that follow, literally follows them around, go to multiple shows and it was hard. We were on the stage in the round and all the people on the floor are like fan club people and die hard Metallica fans, just rabid fans and you end up playing to the people way up in the stands that are actually into you. And you have those same nights where you’re, ‘Fuck man, we just couldn’t get it going tonight!’ It’s just very frustrating, then other times you have the crowd and it’s just killer. You don’t have them like Metallica has them, but you have a part of them. Probably THE best show we did on that whole thing was in Paris and it was like that was our crowd, everyone in the crowd was into us and they were all singing along like it was our own show, our own crowd.
Away-Team: Is that the show that Metallica released a DVD of?
Dave McClain: No, this was a different show. As amazing as that set was for us, when Metallica came on it was like being on a movie set and the director is like, ‘I want everyone to act as crazy as you have ever been!’ and yells action as they take the stage (laughs).
Away-Team: 2002 was a rough year for you guys; you had just released Supercharger and a video a few weeks after September 11th, 2001 that depicted falling buildings. It seemed everyone even your label stood against you and pulled the plug on the band. You negotiated out of your contract with Roadrunner. How close where you guys in the band to pulling your own plug?
Dave McClain: We were real close man. It was a super bad time and we were just so pissed off about everything that had happened. We weren’t working the record and we just felt like we were at an end, with Roadrunner and with the band. But after Roadrunner, we went out to test the waters with other people that had always been there for the band in the past, ‘you know, anytime you need anything, we’re here for you.’ Well we needed something, and nobody was there for us. They all disappeared. ‘Well we’re here now, you know?’ ‘Oh, yeah, well… ya know? Um…. ‘
Away-Team: ‘Had you come to us six months ago…’
Dave McClain: Right! ‘Who’s this? Prank call! Prank call!’ (laughs) I told our guitarist at the time, to basically leave the band. He was wanting to do a side project, and having us stick around funding his side project so I was like, run, go, do it, get out. It was bleak man. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to do it anymore; it was that we had no avenues TO do it anymore. So we started writing a couple of songs. Just trying to do something. And it was pure shit. It was bad. And it WAS fucking shit, and it felt horrible. We had a band meeting and I told the guys, ‘You know this fucking sucks. This is shit; this isn’t why I play music. And if we’re a heavy metal band, and we’re going to write an album. Let’s write the heaviest shit man. Let’s just write for ourselves. Let’s just take all this and put it into writing.‘ And that became Through The Ashes…
Away-Team: Which explains all the piss and venom in it…
Dave McClain: Yeah! It was definitely an angry and a dark record but Roadrunner UK never wanted to let us go, and they were still there quietly supporting us, and it turned out to be a great thing, it turned out to be more of a licensing thing for us which at the time was great. We were about to sign a deal with an American label for the US and Roadrunner US came up and came to us and said, ‘We want to be a part of this again!’ It made us all real happy, because it was a clean slate at that point.
Away-Team: Well at that point, with that album in the can ready to go, you kind of have them over a barrel, and you can say, ‘Well you want us? Here’s what it is going to take to get us back!’
Dave McClain: Yeah, but more than that, there were people there genuinely behind us again. There were people that cared about us and about the band. For us we never wanted to leave in the first place, we just wanted things to be right you know? And since then everything has been great. Not that we don’t go back and forth with Roadrunner on some things, but its constructive, it’s a good thing.
Away-Team: Great! So once Mayhem is done, what does Machine Head have on its plate? You’ve got Unto The Locust coming out in September, what are the current tour plans for that?
Dave McClain: We’ve got a month off after Mayhem. We headline the Soundwave Revolution metal stage.
Dave McClain: Yeah, it is. It’ll be awesome, and we’ll get to see Van Halen! (laughs) We’re just as excited about seeing them play every day as we are to headline the metal stage! Then we’re doing our first headline run of South America since I’ve been in the band. We’ve got Sepultura there for the shows which is awesome. And then a headlining run of Europe with Bring Me The Horizon, DevilDriver, and Darkest Hour. First quarter of next year our main priority is doing a headline run here in the states.
Away-Team: You guys are definitely due.
Dave McClain: Yes, it’s been over four years we are so ready for it.
Away-Team: Well congratulations, and good luck on the new album, I can’t wait to hear it! And hopefully we’ll get to see you in 2012 in a theater or large venue around here soon! Thanks again Dave!
Dave McClain: Thanks! See you soon!
There is a long list of people to thank for making this and all of our Mayhem Fest interviews happen, so, forgive me if I forgot anyone, but thanks to Lilly at Roadrunner, Bill at eOne Music, Rikki, Natalie, and Jessica at Adrenaline, and Laura Jean with Mayhem.
Interview: MEGADETH’s Chris Broderick – From noodling to embellishing, he may be MEGADETH’s strongest guitarist to date
Away-Team: Alright so I’m here with Chris Broderick the guitarist for Megadeth. Hello Chris, thank you for taking the time to do the interview with us today. Appreciate it. So you were in Jag Panzer before Megadeth…
Away-Team: And you played live with Nevermore for a couple of years?
Chris Broderick: Correct.
Away-Team: Didn’t actually record anything with them just kinda filled in, is that correct?
Chris Broderick: Right! Right, I did do Year of the Voyager the DVD with them.
Away-Team: Ok so Jag Panzer very intricate very tough stuff to do guitar wise very impressive work, Nevermore was no slouch musically there either doing the two of them at the same time, you just a glutton for punishment?
Chris Broderick: No! (laughs) I mean you know it’s just part of the reason why I do what I do. I love to play music and I love to play out. With Jag Panzer all the guys are awesome but they couldn’t always get the amount of time they needed to tour quite often and so I had always wanted to play out as much as possible and the opportunity arose to tour with Nevermore as well so I took that. And then there were cases where I had to pull double duty and play with both bands at the same festivals!
Away-Team: Nice (laughs). Makes for a long day no?
Chris Broderick: Definitely(laughs)!
Away-Team: So how did you end up with Megadeth coming off of Jag Panzer?
Chris Broderick: Well it was really Glen Drover, you know the guy that I replaced, him and his brother Shawn had recommended me to Dave who had also seen some of my YouTube clips online as well and so that’s how I got the call I guess a fairly short casting call for that. Then from there we just talked about what each other expected, what the roles would be, and stuff like that. And I just got to work because there was a tour coming up and I had 22 songs to learn in less than a month! So I didn’t even have time to consider that I was joining such a great iconic band it was just ‘let’s get to work’ you know.
Away-Team: For the readers that don’t know, YouTube Chris and check out some of his work online. You’ve got some amazing videos out there… some great, great guitar work… just blows people away. So you recorded parts of the Endgame, were you actually part of the writing process or was it pretty much complete when you came in?
Chris Broderick: No. No, we all submitted material and at the end of the day it’s just the process of going through and making sure it fits the Megadeth sound. I did get a small writing credit on Endgame and it was awesome to be able to get that on the record. And then of course also a lot of things that we do that don’t necessarily…you know there’s only two things that generally warrant writing credit on a CD – there’s the lyrics and there’s the main rhythmic component the music side of the song and then everything else is just considered I guess ‘embellishment’ over the top. But I think all of us have a lot to do with that embellishment whether it’s the melodies or counter melodies or guitar solos all kinds of things that you can do to add a lot of character to a song.
Away-Team: From Endgame to TH1RT3EN which is coming out reportedly November? Is there actually a street date yet?
Chris Broderick: Not that I know of…what they’ve told me as the tentative date is November 1st, so that’s…
Away-Team: What you’re going with for now?
Chris Broderick: Exactly, you know my guess is as good as yours beyond that.
Away-Team: So did you get more as you call it ‘embellishment‘ on TH1RT3EN? Was it more interactive between you guys because you had a little more history together now a little more comfortable with them?
Chris Broderick: You know this CD came together completely differently than Endgame did. It came together really fast. It’s the fastest CD I’ve ever been a part of to tell you the truth. From concept to finished product it was really just a lot of riffs that were written in the last two years and stuff like that brought togethe. Put it on the table right away and then we started looking at how you develop it, choruses, the bridges, the pre choruses all of that stuff, and the arrangement. And then from there we went onto our roles as individuals writing. For me it’s writing the melodies and counter melodies on the guitar and solos of course.
Away-Team: So Dave being no slouch on the guitar himself, getting the two of you in a room together must get pretty nuts at times? Pushing each other, trying to come up with a better riff a faster riff?
Chris Broderick: I don’t know if there’s ever a competition like that (laughs) but it is one of those things where we will play off of each other a little bit. If I present a riff he’ll be like ‘oh yeah, yeah that’s really cool but maybe you could straighten that part out.’ So it’s very back and forth I think sometimes when we play together that’s the cool part about it.
Away-Team: Absolutely! Dave also stated for the sound for the new album that it’s something completely un-Megadeth, it’s a sound Megadeth has never done before the guitars are completely different sounding. He actually hearkens back to, I think it was… I forget what album he kinda compared it to, but he said sound wise it was something that Megadeth had never done before.
Chris Broderick: I would agree with that as far as the mix and the mastering component absolutely this album sounds huge and just very raw in a way because we did put it together so quickly I think it’s got a raw component to it. But also with Johnny K producing I think it just has a much bigger sound to it so in that concept I agree. But I’ve always likened TH1RT3EN to almost like a cut in time from each CD of the past Megadeth discography so you know it’s got stuff that hearkens back to Peace Sells all the way up to Countdown to Extinction to Endgame so you kind of hear aspects of the whole timeline and that’s why I like it so much.
Away-Team: Speaking of Peace Sells, the band is celebrating the 25th anniversary of that. Which would have put you at 15 years old maybe? You’re the youngest guy in the band now right?
Chris Broderick: What was that ’84 right?
Chris Broderick: So I would have been 14.
Away-Team: 14. So do you count that as one of your inspirations as one of your…?
Chris Broderick: You know what’s funny I always heard the title track from MTV and stuff like that.
Away-Team: When they played videos?
Chris Broderick: Yeah back when they actually played videos (laughs). But I didn’t really start getting into Megadeth until Rust In Peace which is when Marty came in and that’s the whole reason why you know I’ve always kind of come from the guitar shredder root kind of thing. I was huge fan of Jason Becker and Paul Gilbert and all those guitar noodlers and still am to this day so when I followed Marty Friedman into Megadeth I was like ‘oh well what’s this all about’ and that’s when I got into the rest of the CDs.
Away-Team: So how’s Mayhem treating you guys? Dave had posted towards the beginning of the tour that there was a lot of problems, he had never contemplated walking off a tour before and then he posted a couple of days later thanks to whoever, whatever problems there were, were fixed…
Chris Broderick: There were some issues; they were mainly technical issues and stuff like that. I think once we got the right people notified they handled it really well and things were taken care of like that. So it was I think a minor glitch but once the right people were notified it was good.
Away-Team: You guys recently toured in support of the 20th anniversary also of Rust In Peace you guys were playing it in its entirety you’re now on the 25th like I said for Peace Sells. Do you guys have plans of possibly doing the same thing with Peace Sells that you did with Rust?
Chris Broderick: We had talked about it but I think because we’re coming off with TH1RT3EN that it may not happen because we’re definitely going to want to support TH1RT3EN in its…
Away-Team: Do a true cycle for that album?
Chris Broderick: Yes exactly, but you never know we might do something in tandem. I think that’s a really good idea we kinda did that with Rust In Peace and Endgame a little bit.
Away-Team: Did the first leg supported the album second leg you did that plus like a greatest hits afterwards type of thing at least knock out a DVD for the fans of you guys playing it live. So you talked about Rust In Peace was kind of your intro to Megadeth, what do you cite as your main influences?
Chris Broderick: Well it definitely it started with Eddie Van Halen of course! And then from there it quickly went to Yngwie and then onward to Jason Becker, Greg Howe, Paul Gilbert, you know all of those guys… Richie Kotzen, I mean I could go on and on and on. But as far as bands go during that time it was also like Queensryche and King Diamond.
Away-Team: So you’ve always had that kind of progressive lean towards at least what you like, what inspired you…
Chris Broderick: Exactly yes!
Away-Team: And with Jag Panzer and even Nevermore you still had that progressive lean, do you feel you’re getting that, you’re bringing that to Megadeth?
Chris Broderick: I don’t know if I would turn the ship that far that’s for sure. There are things I’ll want to try sometimes where they’re like ‘mmm nah that’s a little too progressive’ you know, but that’s ok. (laughs)
Away-Team: ‘Save that for the solo album in a year or two‘ …
Chris Broderick: I’m fine with that. And you know for me this is all a learning experience as well. And I love trying to be able to acquire new styles and new genres and thrash is definitely one of those!
Away-Team: So what was the worst name of a band you were in?
Chris Broderick: The worst name?
Away-Team: The worst name of a band you were in…
Chris Broderick: Oh, the first band I ever joined with my best friend was a band called Slaymaker and I have no idea what it meant…
Away-Team: Funny usually when I ask that question everybody always says it’s the first band they were in …
Chris Broderick: Well, you know, you’re young.
Away-Team: Because that’s your garage band you throw on some stupid name that you think sounds cool and gets attention and 20 years later you’re like what the hell does that mean?
Chris Broderick: Right (laughs).
Away-Team: So after Mayhem you guys are doing the Big Four in New York, Yankee Stadium a month or two after that in theory TH1RT3EN comes out what’s next for Megadeth tour-wise?
Chris Broderick: Then we’re going to do like a three week maybe a little over a three week tour down in South America which is will be the first tour where we actually support TH1RT3EN. So I’m really looking forward to that! And then we’ll probably take the holiday season off and then come the new year we’re going to look at gearing up for the whole tour cycle on TH1RT3EN.
Away-Team: Ok sounds good well I appreciate it Chris. I appreciate your time Chris and good luck with the show I haven’t seen you perform with Megadeth yet so I’m really looking forward to catching it tonight. And for everybody out there stand by because TH1RT3EN is coming soon pick it up when it does!
Chris Broderick: Thanks man!
Away-Team: Thank you Chris, appreciate it.
There is a long list of people to thank for making this and all of our Mayhem Fest interviews happen, so, forgive me if I forgot anyone, but thanks to Lilly at Roadrunner, Bill at eOne Music, Rikki, Natalie, and Jessica at Adrenaline, and Laura Jean with Mayhem.
For more MEGADETH click here.
Away-Team: I’m here with Corey Beaulieu from TRIVIUM, thank you Corey for taking time to talk with us today! So you were born in Maine, and TRIVIUM hails from Florida, how did you end up hooking up with them?
Corey Beaulieu: After I graduated High School, I needed something to do. I always wanted to be in a band, but up there I didn’t have a band, there just wasn’t anything going on up there. I couldn’t find any musicians. Up there it isn’t really much of a metal scene…
Away-Team: You mean Maine isn’t the hot bed for metal in America?!?!?!
Corey Beaulieu: You’d think… but no! (laughs) it was very hard to find people that could actually play the kind of music I wanted to play. So after I graduated High School I needed to do something and I was always interested in recording so I moved to Orlando, Fl and went to Full Sail for recording. And before I even started classes, I heard about this club right around the corner from where I was living that had a metal show. I went there and TRIVIUM was one of the local bands, they were a three piece at the time. And when they played I was like, ‘Wow, these guys play the same kind of shit I am in to.’ I ended up meeting Matt’s Dad who was managing the band at the time. He gave me some info on the band and said they were playing this thing at Full Sail the next week so I went there. I got introduced to Matt, we became friends, emailed back and forth, I’d see him at other metal shows and whatever. Then a year later I saw on their website they were looking for a second guitar player so I hit them up and told them I was interested in trying out. He knew I played guitar, but he had never seen my play guitar he just knew we had some of the same influences. I went over to his house one day and we jammed, I had learned a few songs of theirs before I went there and we just jammed. After that he asked me to come jam with the band, so I jammed with the band and they were like, ‘you wanna be in the band?’ and that’s all I’ve been doing ever since.
Away-Team: Did you complete Full Sail or just blow it off for the riches and fame of TRIVIUM?
Corey Beaulieu: (laughs) I joined the band about a month before I graduated, so after I graduated I just went full on with the band. And eventually it all took off and did what it’s done and we are lucky enough to make a career out of it. Luckily I didn’t have to go schlep around for a job, because a job in that field that I went to school for is every difficult to find a job today. Since there’s no studios, the only people that have studios anymore are like in their own homes or whatever. Nobody goes to traditional studios anymore. Even people I went to school with at Full Sail seven years ago, nobody has a job in that field anymore. I was very fortunate that even going down there to do that, I was able to actually do what I wanted and that was be in a band. I always say I paid $35,000 to join a band (laughs).
Corey Beaulieu: Yeah, well, no one’s ever hit me up from there. (laughs)
Away-Team: You and Matt share lead and rhythm guitar duties in the band. While not the first time for a band, it is definitely unique. How did you come up with this style for Trivium, and how does it benefit you and the band?
Corey Beaulieu: Well….
Away-Team: I mean, you normally have two guitarists, and your lead guy is the shredder, he’s the one that stands out and rips out a solo as guys throw horns into the air and girls throw their panties on stage… You have some great licks; you have a great talent on the guitar…
Corey Beaulieu: Wow, thank you…
Away-Team: Does sharing that with Matt take away from that ‘guitar god’ status a little bit? Do you lose a little individuality when you share lead guitar with another guitarist?
Corey Beaulieu: Not Really… We both have different styles of playing; we both like playing lead, so we chose to both do it. We just divvy it up evenly as much as possible. And it is cool because we have different takes on playing lead so there are different dynamics within the song and within the solos by trading off. Ever since I joined the band as he was the only guitar player, since I could do lead also, just right out of the box we said let’s both do it. It was a natural thing for us, so we just did it, and a lot of our favorite bands growing up except for Metallica had that, Megadeth was Mustaine and Friedman, Slayer both play lead, Iron Maiden had… well they have three lead players now. I just always liked the multiple lead guitar thing, especially when you have one guy with a monster solo and it just leads into another solo by the other guy… It’s just always been a natural part of our sound. I think now on the new album too it has really worked out because Matt just found the sound that thing he was going after on it, a certain style and feel, and what suited his playing the best. He’s doing more melodic old school, kinda simplistic solos, and I’m doing the melodic slash shreddy stuff. It is very easy to decipher who’s playing which solo because our styles on this album are so different and distinct. We’re not treading the same waters playing the same fast crazy shit all the time. Since we both like to play lead that has just always been our signature sound and part of our songwriting.
Away-Team: Your musical style has changed over the years, you are no longer thought of as metalcore, which I never pegged you as, but more straight forward thrash. Was that a conscious decision on your part, or was it just maturing and stretching as musicians?
Corey Beaulieu: We just play every record as we just play whatever we feel like playing. It’s all very natural for us, we don’t go, ‘oh let’s do this record this way, and then we’ll do the next record sounding like that.’ We just start writing the songs and in that moment and time it just takes its own shape and sound. The style just dictates itself we don’t consciously decide, ‘oh on Crusade we’re going to do this.’ Musically it just came out naturally. We always find new influences to incorporate into the new album; we don’t want to keep churning out the same shit every album, so we’re always pushing the boundaries of what we can do with our songwriting. This last album (In Waves out now!), we decided we needed to define our sound. Because the last couple of albums we were experimenting with different tunings, different sounds, and different styles of songs and just seeing what we could do. On this record we just knew what the record had to be and we just wanted to write a record that was a career defining moment. Just put our foot down, like we’re fucking serious here, this is a serious fucking metal album, and just solidify our sound. So you’re like, ‘oh, that’s TRIVIUM! That’s their sound, that’s what they are all about.’ The other thing we wanted was to make the album sound cohesive, we wanted the songs to flow, to have the same style and sound, so that none of the songs were like an odd man out and didn’t fit the record, they all have the same…. vibe or sound or feel to them, that they belonged on that record. We just wrote a lot of songs and made sure that the songs worked well and fit with the other songs on the record. And we also made the heaviest record we have ever done. The heavy stuff is heavier and more intense than anything else we’ve ever done.
Away-Team: The band came out after Shogun, and said that it was what it was, that you couldn’t describe what/or who it sounded like. It was Trivium and it stood on its own. Were you guys really that concerned about the comparisons to Metallica or other bands then? Isn’t there some sense of flattery of being compared to one of the biggest metal bands in the world?
Corey Beaulieu: When people listen to music, they are always gauging shit, always comparing them to someone else. If you read a review it is always, ‘for fans of this,’ or ‘if you like this band you’ll love this.’ I guess being compared to the biggest metal band of all time is not a bad thing I just felt it was kind of limiting as far as… Take The Crusade record, I listen to that and there are influences on there, riffs, songs, tones, styles, that are just in no way comparable to Metallica. And Matt’s vocals may style wise remind you of James, but he doesn’t sound like James. I just think a lot of the songs and riffs on that record are just very Un-Metallica. I think Shogun stepped away from that more and this record (In Waves out now!!!) that , ‘oh they sound like Metallica clones’ has been put to rest, at least by us. If people say that now, then they are fucking idiots. You’re obviously not listening to what we are playing. Don’t get me wrong, they are obviously a big metal influence, but so are Megadeth, Testament, Slayer, and Iron Maiden. There are a lot of stuff in there. Over the years we have found a way to take those influences, with other elements outside that style of music, and put our own twist on it, so that now what you hear is TRIVIUM only. I think In Waves sets us apart from other bands out there today, it ensures that we don’t sound too much like anyone else, it sounds like TRIVIUM in vocals, and in guitar riffs, so that if we are to be compared, it is them to us.
Away-Team: On a festival like this, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, you play about 35 minutes, what do you do the other 23.5 hours of the day to keep from being bored out of your mind or trapped on the bus?
Corey Beaulieu: We try to catch a lot of the bands on the side stages, just hang out and watch them perform. We try and do a lot of press, and there are a lot of people on this tour, so it’s always a lot of just hanging out with other bands. There’s always something going on. After our set, we shower, dinner, and then go watch Megadeth. There’s always something going on, a party here and there, enough people to make something happen all the time.
Away-Team: In Waves comes out next week (at time of interview… In Waves came out last Tuesday! Go. Get. It.), Mayhem ends in a few weeks, what’s next on the horizon for TRIVIUM?
Corey Beaulieu: Yes, In Waves comes out, go pick it up! After Mayhem we have about a month long tour with Dream Theater from mid September to October. Then Europe from early November through almost Christmas. We haven’t properly toured over there in fucking ages so that should be a blast! We’re touring there with In Flames so that should be killer. Then next year is Australia, South America which hasn’t been announces yet.
Away-Team: Is that headlining?
Corey Beaulieu: No! We’ve never been there before so we are going with some other bands that have. We felt the safest route was to go with someone who has done it before, instead of going on our own and guessing and making huge mistakes. We’re going with two other bands that have been down there a few times before, and we have a lot of demands to play down there and a lot of fans down there so we are really looking forward to that. Hopefully in the spring we’ll be back in the US touring again. Yesterday our first active rock radio single went out to all the stations, so hopefully that takes off soon, some stations already have it in full rotation and hopefully more pick it up. And if it really takes off on the radio and gets us new fans it could really change the landscape of what we do tour wise in the spring. Call your local rock radio station and fucking request some TRIVIUM!!!
Away-Team: Yeah DAMNIT!
Corey Beaulieu: Yeah, we need that shit! (laughs)
Away-Team: Good luck with the single, new album, the tours, and continued success Corey, and thank you again for taking the time to sit in this wonderful 100 degree heat and talk with us!
Corey Beaulieu: Thank you, the album is out, you can check us out online, if you like what you hear buy it please! And support music!
Away-Team: And… Trivium sounds like… Trivium.
Corey Beaulieu: Yes… Heavy Metal Baby!!!! (laughs)
There is a long list of people to thank for making this and all of our Mayhem Fest interviews happen, so, forgive me if I forgot anyone, but thanks to Lilly at Roadrunner, Bill at eOne Music, Rikki, Natalie, and Jessica at Adrenaline, and Laura Jean with Mayhem.
For more TRIVIUM click here.
ALICE ANNA INTERVIEW
Away-Team: Marcy Royce
Alice Anna: Daniel Strauch, singer/songwriter
This is Marcy Royce with away-team.com speaking today with Daniel Strauch from ALICE ANNA.
AWAY-TEAM: I’m glad you had the time to talk with me this evening.
DANIEL STRAUCH: For sure. I appreciate you having me.
AWAY-TEAM: Tell me a little bit about yourself. I was just introduced to ALICE ANNA about six to eight weeks ago.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Ok. To make a long story short it was about six years ago when I moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Jacksonville, Florida and joined a band, The Secret State. My guitarist, Josh Jones, from ALICE ANNA and we began touring from scratch and built up a big fan base. Then we started touring regionally, then nationally and after that we started opening for national acts. Things started to get really exciting. Then before you knew it we got interest from label, and then we got dropped. (laughs). It was a five year process. Things got pretty intense. Then the whole band decided it was a good time to go in different directions and for me, my safest bet was to return to Baltimore because I needed to get away and home was a good place for me. So I moved back to Baltimore and I had a lot of experiences to write about and I wanted to let those feelings and emotions go. So I called up our producer that use to work with our old band and said, Jeremy I wrote an album on the p and o, just an ep. Would you record it for me? I went to the studio and we laid down five tracks and I was just going to use it as more of a cathardic process for me. Something to where I could help myself feel better about the whole situation. But, it ended up coming out really well. I only played it for close friends and family and fans from the other band. People started telling me I was crazy if I didn’t do something with it. So a year ago I put together a band, found the right parts, and literally in a years time it’s been insane what has happened. Now here we are as Alice Anna and it has started to get a lot of attention and it’s something I’m really proud of. We just shot a very cool video. Life is exciting. Life is good.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, this last year, has it been more exciting than those last five or six years you were with The Secret State?
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s been crazy! It has. And very different experiences also. This one, because I got so much experience from the last band spending five years learning kind of what to do and what not to do in the industry, kind of learning how to swim through all the b.s. people feed you. I ended up making really good contacts from it and I never let those contacts go. And when I started writing for this project I started getting my music out there and people kind of attached themselves to it and we started getting one hit after another and one phone call after another. People were wanting to know more and inviting us to showcases and us playing showcases in Baltimore. Honestly, this year has been more exciting for one year than I’ve ever experienced.
AWAY-TEAM: So you feel you are at warp speed this last year?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Very much so. Warp speed and then sometimes a dead halt. It’s insane how much of a roller coaster it is. Because you get fed all this information at once and then you try to figure out what the hell to do with it. For me it’s really hard. I have so many people telling me different things to do and what I need. What their strengths are and what these people are looking for. This person is interested in you so you need to do this, this and this. I just want to play music and I just wanted to write. I’m not writing to write hits, I’m writing music because I love it and the way that it comes out is just me. Obviously I want to pay attention to what people have to say because working with someone like Shauna is great. She is amazing. She doesn’t feed you any b.s., she tells you how it is and is a good person. So in that sense I’m lucky. But then you deal with these a&r reps and people like that. They kind of get you all excited and then tell you what you want to hear. And then they leave you wanting more. And I’m now learning to deal with that better now than I have in the past.
AWAY-TEAM: You said that the exact way I was going to say it. Those people tell you what you want to hear then they drop you off a cliff.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s insane. And what I’ve been told is some of the best advice. It actually came from Shauna. If someone is going to sign you right away, they are probably full of shit. It’s the people that take their time and scout you and sit back and watch you do your thing and see how much you evolve. Those are the people that matter. There are people we are working with right now that are doing just that and we are in the middle of that process. It’s really exciting, it’s just that I’m very skeptical because of what has happened in the past and so I’m trying to remain focused on what I’m really doing it for. It’s for the music, not just to get signed. The only reason I want to get signed is that I want the ability to have my music reach millions of people so that they can connect to my music. There’s not money in music anymore, so if you think it’s about the money it’s not.
DANIEL STRAUCH: I want to be able to play and play for the next 10 to 15 years. And be successful. And I don’t know exactly what successful means yet but I want things to keep going in the direction that they are.
AWAY-TEAM: The success in your mind is different than the success in other people’s minds as long as you, in your mind, feel that your successful is all that matters.
DANIEL STRAUCH: That’s very, very true! It’s just that I don’t know what or when I’ll be successful or if I’ll ever be satisfied. I don’t know what kind of level it is that determines success. I just get really hungry for the stuff and I just want the opportunity to kind of expand on it. I want to go overseas to Europe and other places and connect with fans over there. It’s insane watching some musicians go to different countries where the fans don’t speak a lick of English but they sing every word to every song.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s awesome. I want to experience that.
AWAY-TEAM: The problems that you’ve experienced in the past and some of the road blocks that you sometimes face even today is nothing new to the music industry.
DANIEL STRAUCH: No. It’s not. Definitely not. And I understand that and people tell me to calm down and that I don’t want to be a product of them. I need to take time and exercise patience. And understand it doesn’t happen all at once. I’ve been give examples of tons of bands who’ve taken 12 or 13 years to even show up on the radar and then all of a sudden, BAM! There they are.
AWAY-TEAM: I’m familiar with a band that had some same experiences as you. They went through the same stuff with being fed b.s. and not making they money they should have been. And that’s how I learned how things are crap. It’s all about the record label, how they sign you, how they make their money, and then throw the band to the curb.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s amazing how disgusting of a process it really is. But because of bands like that, unfortunately for them, a lot of bands are learning now you don’t do ANYTHING unless you have a lawyer that you can trust next to you. Guiding you through the process just because if you get screwed on a bad deal there is chance you are going to be spending the next 10 years paying it back if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.
DANIEL STRAUCH: When you get signed now you’re going to get a bank loan. You’re not getting an advance. It’s not like oh my God I’ve got $600,000 to spend on houses and cars. No. That goes to your recording, a video, and touring expenses. And by the way, you owe it all back to them.
AWAY-TEAM: I remember reading some information on one of my favorite bands, Def Leppard, how they made one of their albums and they owed back so many millions of dollars and how they were sweating bullets figuring out how they were going to pay it back.
DANIEL STRAUCH: I watched a special on that. I was blown away because they were huge. And they were broke.
DANIEL STRAUCH: The Goo Goo Dolls went through the same thing. So many bands have done it. And there has even been some hip hop artist even. These labels come and say, here’s this money, and they put it in your face and you forget that you need to read the small print. You get excited by it and all. Most of these people that sign these deals are young and they don’t know. And they’ve never seen money like that before. But like I said, I think people for the most part have learned their lesson.
AWAY-TEAM: Yes, you’re right. So much more educated today than before. And that’s good! I’m glad you have a good grasp on reality and moving forward you have learned from your experiences in the past from your other band, The Secret State.
DANIEL STRAUCH: For sure. I definitely have. It was a brutal process because we got screwed but at the same time if that had not happened I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now. And I’m so much more content with that. And it may be a dumb adage but, I do believe everything happens for a reason.
AWAY-TEAM: I agree 100%.
AWAY-TEAM: You mentioned earlier about showcase shows. You’ve just done two in the last few months, correct?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah. We did one for a guy by the name of Bruce Tyler. He was the executive VP of Sony for five years. It started by a friend of mine from high school. She told her father, who is the Senior Vice President of Radio One which is runs the top 50 hip hop stations in the country. Obviously I’m not in hip hop. But he heard the stuff and contacted me. He told me I had great stuff and he told me he has always had a lot of connections in the industry and to let him see if anyone is interested. He told me he couldn’t promise me anything. He said all that one day and the very next day he called and told me he gave my music to one of his good friends, Bruce Tyler. He told me about Bruce’s resume and all that he’s done. This guy was like a big part of building The Fray and getting their stuff on Grey’s Anatomy. He’s worked a lot with Train. So he’s worked with a ton of bands. But either way he heard one of the songs and he asked what it was about. So I wrote in an email describing the song and he got in touch with me and said he thought the stuff had a lot of potential and he’d like to see me play. So we set up a showcase for him and he is actually now taking one of the songs called Helena Rose and trying to use it as a co theme song for the show Teen Mom.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I kinda heard about your song and Teen Mom.
DANIEL STRAUCH: The new season starts in the fall so we are waiting to find out what exactly is happening. He said to have patience because they loves our stuff. I don’t really know what all of it means but he has no reason to b.s. me. He told us he wants to take us under his wing. So we have a couple shows coming up at the end of the summer. He is actually going to fly down Don and Jason Ienner. Don Ienner was the chief of Sony when he was Bruce was executive Vice President. Don and Bruce are good buddies. Don owns one of the biggest management companies in the world. Bruce is going to showcase Alice Anna to them this summer and it’s very exciting. We also had a showcase in Florida where we got invited by the ap’s of Atlantic, which is very cool. He set us up to play at the Florida Music Festival in front of 3,000 people. We played just before Better Than Ezra. He even pulled us off stage afterwards and told us that we exceeded his expectations and that we were awesome live and that when we have our showcase later in the summer to let him know so he can personally fly in for it. Obviously since then I’m done my best to keep in contact with him so we will see how it goes.
AWAY-TEAM: It already seems to me that you understand the importance of cultivating good relationships. I can tell.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Absolutely. That’s a huge part of it. I think the best part of it for me is that these people have come after us because they like the music. So I don’t have any reason to b.s. them. I say, this is what we’ve got and ask them to tell me if they like what they hear and tell me what else we need to do to show you that you can trust they we’re going to be a good business move. I just want the opportunity to play in front of lots of people and I want to get the stuff on the radio somehow.
AWAY-TEAM: Is your show next month in Baltimore another showcase show?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah. We’re going to do it for Don and Jason Ienner. Also for Jeff Whitlow. He’s a big radio guy in New Orleans. He heard our stuff through Shauna and he got pretty excited about it also. He works with Littman Entertainment which does Matchbox 20, Rob Thomas, Maroon 5 and bands like that. He feels they would be a really good fit for us so he was talking about flying up for this show as well. Honestly, there’s a lot of leads like that it just depends on who comes through and who’s really interested. You know what I mean?
AWAY-TEAM: Right. I do.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s exciting. We’re going to just play. There is nothing like playing live.
AWAY-TEAM: I know. That’s your biggest high as a musician. To play live for people. And then for those people sing the lyrics back to you. It’s like the energy goes back and forth from the stage to the crowd. And then from the crowd to the stage.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Honestly for me there’s not a feeling like that. You can’t replicate that feeling anywhere else. It’s the most natural high. Granted, it feels better when you’ve had a glass of whiskey. (laughs)
DANIEL STRAUCH: But either way, there’s nothing that takes the place of watching the fans give back what you give to them. That’s why I love Baltimore. We are lucky. There is a great Indie scene here but we’re a little bit more mainstream. So we’re kind of on our own, which is great. I love Baltimore!
AWAY-TEAM: I’m just north of you guys in York, Pennsylvania. I’m down at Rams Head Live a lot and I photograph bands there. You’re right. The music scene in Baltimore is great.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It is. It’s fun. People have really good taste for music in Baltimore. It fairly unique. A lot of people will talk about D.C. when they talk about music but Baltimore is definitely an up and coming city in my opinion in terms of music. So, we probably have just been confirmed for September 23 at Rams Head Live. A Friday night in September so that is very exciting.
AWAY-TEAM: Very nice. That will be just over a month after you’re doing the Power Plant showcase show.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Exactly. So we don’t think it’s good to stack too many shows on top of each other in the same area because if you think about your favorite bands you see them once a year when they go on tour. We don’t want to play month after month, I don’t want us to beat Baltimore into the ground. But, playing two different really exciting venues it will be worth it. We haven’t played since April so I’m going crazy.
DANIEL STRAUCH: We just wrote a new ep and I’m excited to release that. So, things are moving.
AWAY-TEAM: How many songs are going to be on the new release?
DANIEL STRAUCH: We have six but we are going to release three at a time. My goal is to release three songs every three months. I want continuous new music to come out. But I don’t want to rush anything. We have three songs that are ready to go and three songs that are halfway developed. Stuff is recorded but we can go back and kind of tweak it. I don’t want to throw it onto an album and be like here’s a six song ep. We talked about it as a band and we’re going to do three songs at the beginning of August and then a couple of months afterwards we’re going to release another three songs.
AWAY-TEAM: You just recorded the first three songs the end of April, beginning of May?
DANIEL STRAUCH: It was actually at the end of May in New York. And about two weeks ago I went back up to do another song on my own. I had some stuff happen in my life that I wanted Jeremy, our producer, to help me record a song. He’s so busy, so booked. But he had one day for me to do this one song. Everything was done within an eight hour period. And it was done. It was bad ass and I’m excited.
AWAY-TEAM: Did Michael, Josh and Hunter go along with you? Or was it just you?
DANIEL STRAUCH: For the rest of the ep it was everybody. For just this one, it was me. It was something really personal and I wrote it on my own. I asked the band before I did it if they would mind if I went and did this personal song on my own. And they were really cool about it. It’s a very open process. I played the drums, the keys, string arrangements and I did vocals. Our producer did the bass and the guitars. So it’s a lot of fun for me because I love going to the studio. I grew up on the drums so it’s cool for me to get behind them every once in a while.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s good to get that feeling back again.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Nothing like being in the studio when you’re playing to a click track. It’s a lot more nerve wracking then when you’re letting it all go on stage but I had to do it.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s one of those needs that you have as a musician.
AWAY-TEAM: I want to ask you about the song Standing In The Rain. What is it about that song that you want to tell me to let people know out there that haven’t been familiarized with Alice Anna?
DANIEL STRAUCH: First of all that song is very personal to me.
AWAY-TEAM: I read about is on the Alice Anna website. And I view the video there as well. And I found out it’s about your brother.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah. It’s about my younger brother. He was adopted when he was around five. And he’s had a tough life. His original parents were drug addicts and he started his life without much of a chance. He’s been in and out of trouble his entire life. We’ve always had a close relationship but things have happened. Having to do with the song, he called me one night after he had gotten out of jail. I had already made a pact with my parents with this situation. It’s been about five or six years of him promising he will get better. And the same things kept happening. So at this point after we’ve made this pact, it was time for it to be used. If my brother asked for help he was going to need to figure things out on his own. He was in a halfway house and called me one night at midnight from a pay phone in a questionable part of Baltimore after he left the halfway house. And it was pouring outside. He asked to come crash at my place for the night and told me he would figure out what to do in the morning. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but it’s one of those things where, at this point, it has been happening over and over again. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is tell him I love him but I couldn’t help him and he had to figure it out on his own. It’s the only way he is going to get better. I told him to go stay at a shelter. To this day it’s been something I’ve not been able to get over. It was only two years ago but I ended up writing a song about it. I couldn’t sleep that night, I felt I so incredibly guilty. It was a tough situation. I love the guy. The director for the video sat down and I talked to him about it. He saw the vision I had writing the song. He took that vision and developed the video and I’m so proud of it.
AWAY-TEAM: The video is awesome. I’ve watched is several times.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s different. It captured what I wanted and it’s amazing the amount of email, text messages and phone calls that I’ve gotten from people that have told me they cried when they watched it. Everybody has someone like that in their life that they can relate to the video and the song. Whether it’s that person or someone they know. In that sense I’m really happy that people have connected so much to it. I never had an intention of writing the song and making a single and shooting a video for it. It ended up being a really good song with a good message.
AWAY-TEAM: So when people were contacting you and telling you these things that you are connecting to them, right there it tells you that you are being successful. It’s just another way for you to measure your success. That you are reaching people and connecting to them through your music.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s the most gratifying thing as an artist. It’s the best thing that you can get. When someone tells you that they listen to that song before they go to sleep at night and it takes them to a different place. I think about songs that have done that for me and I’ve become a lifelong fan because of that. Music captures emotion that other things just can’t. Takes you to a place that nothing else can. Whether it be good or bad, it still gets ya. I’m incredibly proud of the song and I think that’s why I really believe we have an opportunity. That this song has a chance to go viral and get out to a lot of people that they can listen and connect.
AWAY-TEAM: Does your brother know about the meaning of the song?
DANIEL STRAUCH: He actually doesn’t. But when he does know, I don’t think he will be upset or anything. He will remember the time that it was. The message isn’t a bad message whatsoever.
AWAY-TEAM: No. I don’t look at the song that way either. It tells me about a person’s trial and tribulation in dealing with that type of subject.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Definitely. I remember when I was talking to the director about the song. He told me he had some old 8mm film footage of two brothers playing together that would translate well into the meaning of the video. And I think it turned out great. To me it just shows the genuine meaning of the song and those two brothers having a meaningful relationship. And then to the point to where that relationship is now.
AWAY-TEAM: I think the producer did a fantastic job translating your song to video. It speaks volumes to the viewers of the video.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah, it was done well. We are all proud of the video and the song.
AWAY-TEAM: What is the biggest thrill for you, the ultimate high as a musician and a singer/songwriter?
DANIEL STRAUCH: There’s a couple different ones for me. I’d have to fight over which one I like more.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Walking out on stage and getting the rush of a live show. It’s really hard to beat that. But when you write a song and watch it develop in the studio. I think that is probably the best feeling I’ve ever had. Just to see my product come out the way that it does. When you write it at 2 am on a Thursday morning when you couldn’t sleep. Then to see it develop into your lifelong work. I just LOVE going to the studio and especially because the producer that we work with is incredibly talented. He makes it a very easy place to be. We all have fun together when we are there. Nobody is stressed out. Recording is not an easy process and there is a lot of money and time involved in it. You want to be sharp but you want to be comfortable when you are in the studio too. If I had to choose one over the other, it would be the recording process. Just because I never want to leave when I am in the studio.
AWAY-TEAM: You’re hungry to be in one of your favorite places. I can totally relate to that!
DANIEL STRAUCH: I just could stay there forever and just write. I could do so much material, it just costs so much money.
AWAY-TEAM: I know it does. Time is money.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yep!
AWAY-TEAM: You and Jeremy are such good friends, do you share the same musical inspirations?
DANIEL STRAUCH: We’ve each had a lot happen in our lives, and I think that is how we connect. We’ve been friends for the last 5 years, at least. He did the first ep of The Secret State when he was just starting to take off as a producer. Now he’s done hundreds and hundreds of bands. We have such a different relationship, and I don’t know how to explain it. We just get each other. And we are there for each other when shit happens. And the other can understand it,
AWAY-TEAM: Do you both seem to ground each other?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Well, we are miles away from each other but we are only a gmail chat, text message, or phone call away. We are always making fun of each other but when we need to be serious, it counts. He is one of my best friends, I love the guy.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s wonderful to start as a business relationship and have it develop into a personal relationship that you value very much.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yes. I’m very lucky in that sense. He tells me often I’ve got to stop paying him to hang out in the recording studio. (laughs)
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s really funny. Most of the time that I see him he’s so busy and I am too. We’re in the recording studio and if he doesn’t stay up there we get off track. It’s funny to think about.
AWAY-TEAM: Does Jeremy ever get a chance to come out to any of your live shows?
DANIEL STRAUCH: He’s tried to come to a couple of showcases but he’s just so busy. One example, when I wanted to come up and do a song one time, he told me he had a two day break then he’s booked until the end of November. He works seven days a week. I don’t know how he does it.
DANIEL STRAUCH: He’s going to attempt to take some time off in September and come down to Baltimore to one of the Ravens games.
AWAY-TEAM: It would be awesome if the two of you could just go and do something like that.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Exactly. He needs to escape. He works a crazy amount.
AWAY-TEAM: So he’s in big demand?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Oh my God, yes. He’s done a lot of bands and he’s making quite the name for himself
AWAY-TEAM: That’s great for you that you have that experience in a producer, and a friendship also, with someone so talented. You guys can bounce stuff off each other, be honest and up front.
DANIEL STRAUCH: He’s the best musician I know. He makes me look like an idiot. And I trust him. There are others that say stuff, or recommend, and it doesn’t work. But with him when I do it, it works and it makes sense. He gets me and he knows what I’m going for. I just love working with him.
AWAY-TEAM: How much have Michael, Josh and Hunter been in the studio with Jeremy?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Josh was a former member of The Secret State so the two of them are really good friends as well. Mike just met Jeremy for the first time in May when we went to New York and they hit it off right away. But it’s not hard to hit off with Jeremy, he’s such a great guy. Hunter, too. Hunter’s great. He’s such a corky guy, he’s hilarious. And I couldn’t be happier about it all and how the music has turned out.
AWAY-TEAM: Is there anything you would like to specifically tell me about the self-titled cd with those first six songs?
DANIEL STRAUCH: In terms of the work that I’ve done so far in my career, it’s definitely the most personal and the most gratifying music for me. It’s more my style. I really enjoyed writing in The Secret State but this is just so much more cool for me. And now people aren’t jealous or upset from where the songs come. Every one works really well together in terms of writing the songs. I’m able to share my personal experience through music and it comes from sitting down at a piano and playing a couple of cords and figuring it out. This ep is really personal. And I think in general everything with Alice Anna is going in the direction I want it to as opposed to the times of the past. In the past I had to fight more for it, which is ok. But now I’m very happy to head the project, if that makes sense.
AWAY-TEAM: It makes perfect sense. Now, the three songs that you’re going to release in August or September, the one that you worked on in the studio in May, how much did Michael, Josh and Hunter have to do with the writing process with those songs?
DANIEL STRAUCH: All of them were huge for Standing In The Rain. Any song that we’ve all done together they are all big in the writing process. The next three songs that are coming out we all wrote them together. We went to the studio and each person individually worked with Jeremy on their parts. The basis for the songs comes from me writing them on the piano but in terms of the guitar parts, the drum parts and the bass parts, that was those guys. They are the ones ripping it up.
AWAY-TEAM: Can you tell me the name of those three songs yet or is that still under wraps?
DANIEL STRAUCH: One of the names of the songs I’m not sure what I’m going to call it yet. I’m kinda on the fence about what I want to call it. It’s all done, but sometimes I struggle with names because I try not to be too generic with them. It’s kinda hard not to be because most of the song is pretty obvious of what it is about. We have a new song called Awake and another called Look Into These Eyes.
AWAY-TEAM: The video for Awake is on the websites home page, correct?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Well, it’s half the song. (laughs) It’s a video clip from when we were in Florida for that showcase.
AWAY-TEAM: I’ve watched it several times, as well.
DANIEL STRAUCH: I love that video. The guy that does our videos is just a super talented guy. And he came to Florida with us and videotaped the trip. It was a very fun experience.
AWAY-TEAM: Are you going to release those songs so that we can download them on iTunes?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yes. We’re going to release them the first week in August. I’m super excited for that.
AWAY-TEAM: Good. I’ll be downloading those songs.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Awesome! Only a couple weeks away. And I think we will probably wait until we release the next three to do a physical cd and then we will just put six more songs on a physical copy. But for downloadable versions we’ll do three at a time.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, for the fans that come out to see you guys live, especially after they see this interview on our site www.away-team.com, are you going to have any physical copies of your first release for sale?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Our first cd we already have for sale at all of our shows. So when people come out and they don’t have a physical copy they can get it. I recommend a cd over a mp3 file only because I feel like the quality of sound is better. And there’s something about having a cd. It’s sad that cds have been lost and people just download individual songs now because your missing, or could be missing, some of the best songs on the album. I beg for that time to come back. I remember buying albums in the 90’s and listening to the entire cd and thinking that it sucked. Yet two weeks later listening to it again and thinking Oh My God this is the greatest cd I’ve ever heard.
AWAY-TEAM: Exactly! It depends on your day, your mood, your mindset.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Exactly! And when you download one song your not capturing everything that is involved. A very cool part of each cd is that a lot of them are stories. From the first song all the way to the last song. You can’t pick that up if you only listen to one song.
AWAY-TEAM: Then you have other bands and their cds have no stories to them. The songs are just thrown on there. And honestly, in my opinion, those are the cds that have the ability to have the suck factor. Maybe.
DANIEL STRAUCH: That has happened plenty of time, too.
DANIEL STRAUCH: The music industry has signed a lot of bad bands in its day. But you’ve got to learn somehow I guess.
AWAY-TEAM: Even they take a licking when they make bad decisions.
DANIEL STRAUCH: What really sucks is when the band is success but the music is bad. More power to them. But who am I to judge, right?
AWAY-TEAM: In this short amount of time that we’ve had together here, you seem to be the type of guy that strives for only the best. And only put your best out there because then you know that you have been successful in your own mind.
DANIEL STRAUCH: To a point, yes. I appreciate that. I still that what I’ve done so far has built a good bridge. I still only feel that I’m a quarter of the way there. I’m excited to go on my first national tour. Without setting it up myself. And also to be able to go to Europe. There’s steps that I need to take, I guess, to consider it a success.
AWAY-TEAM: You have your own certain levels that you need to get to personally. I get that, I understand.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yes. My own agenda that I have to check off. My big bucket list!
AWAY-TEAM: That is a good way to say it!
AWAY-TEAM: You stated previously how well Shauna has done for you. How did you get hooked up with her?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Our previous drummer from The Secret State was a drummer for another band for two years. He would always talk to me about this bad ass publicist they had. She did a lot for that band. She was great at putting them where they needed to be. She helped them become successful. He would talk to her about me because he believe in my project. He told me I should email her and get in touch with her. I had no idea what to expect. So he ended up sending Shauna a couple of our songs and one of our videos and she got in touch with me immediately. She wanted to work together. She does so much for me without asking for anything in return really. I just thank her as much as I can. She is so awesome. She makes me feel comfortable in a very uncomfortable industry.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s wonderful. It is hard to feel comfortable in this fickle industry.
DANIEL STRAUCH: It is! And she has no reason to b.s. me, she’s just trying to help. She believes in it and that to me says something. She’s willing to push the product to people and she is willing to put her name on the line for it. That means more to me than anything especially when she’s doing it for the love of the music.
AWAY-TEAM: Shauna approached me and sent me some links to music, videos and other things about Alice Anna and yourself. She asked if I would be interested in interviewing you. And just like we said earlier that everything happens for a reason. It’s true with this. Alice Anna and yourself really spoke to me and I asked her for fulfill that interview request.
DANIEL STRAUCH: I appreciate that. I hope lots of people get that feeling. That would be great.
AWAY-TEAM: She’s a really awesome gal, in the brief time that I’ve dealt with her.
DANIEL STRAUCH: She does it because she loves music. And she’s terrific at what she does. Many people do it for money or for the wrong reasons. She tells me that she will get me where I need to go and means every word.
AWAY-TEAM: She believes in you.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah, she just does. You need people like that in your life.
AWAY-TEAM: I really like your music. And I want to get Alice Anna out there to people. I want to let them know they need to listen to your stuff. Especially to those who don’t already know you and haven’t ever heard of you before. I want to help you build Alice Anna.
DANIEL STRAUCH: We are a very, very new band. And we could use that. Thank you! We don’t even have a year under our belts. As much attention as we’ve received from industry people, we still need to build a much bigger fan base. I love to write music. I love to record. I am trying to get people involved with facebook, the website and may even start a blog. I’m doing the best that I can to get that fan base built.
AWAY-TEAM: What do you most enjoy about your fans?
DANIEL STRAUCH: The personal responses to the music. I love it when people contact me and say that a song means something to them. When I go on our facebook fan site or on my personal page and I read through the notifications and I’ll see people post song lyrics for their status updates and it includes the lyrics from our songs. I love seeing people connect to the music. And when I catch that glimpse, it makes me feel like we’re doing something right.
AWAY-TEAM: Am I correct in saying the facebook page for Alice Anna has 5,800 fans?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yes it does!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s wonderful!
DANIEL STRAUCH: It’s grown fast and that is very good. We were only at 500 a couple of months ago. So something is going right.
AWAY-TEAM: This means only good things.
DANIEL STRAUCH: I hope so.
AWAY-TEAM: And with having Shauna on board helping to push you guys, it can only get better.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah. Shauna had me in something like ten interviews in the last few months. She just called me two days ago. She was at an event, doing an interview with Rob Thomas, and this party had a ton of industry people in attendance. She got in contact with a guy that has a large production company in LA. She sent him our stuff and he emailed her about how great our song and video was to him. He wanted to know more. Stuff like that is priceless because the more that it happens Alice Anna’s name will be passed around and you can start to grow.
AWAY-TEAM: Has she put Alice Anna to any of the local radio stations?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Most of the interviews have been either magazine or internet radio stations. The local rock radio station, 98 Rock, has heard our stuff by way of the producer. He came to our last show. So before we do this show in August we’re going for a prime radio spot and they are going to play Standing In The Rain and do an interview.
AWAY-TEAM: Very good. That will be great exposure for Alice Anna.
DANIEL STRAUCH: You bet!
AWAY-TEAM: And there is no better feeling I have about a bands fans then when I photograph a band doing what they love, LIVE! And the fans feeding that energy right back to the band onstage. What a high for me!
DANIEL STRAUCH: I love photographers. Especially ones who know and understand how to capture those energy-filled moments. Like one photo I’ve seen of me with my fist in the air and the fans have their fists in the air too. It was shot from the side of the stage, a perfect view to get it all. What a great moment captured by a photographer who knew how to capture that moment and convey the emotion of it. I love photographs. I can’t do it myself, but I love them.
AWAY-TEAM: I love shooting from the side of the stage. It’s a view not usually seen by the fans or the band. I also like shooting from behind the drum kit. Looking out over the band and into the faces of the fans.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Those are some of the best shots! And I love when photographers are on stage and behind the drum kit. I don’t even care if you shoot from behind me. Just watch out though! We get a lot of energy going and I don’t want to knock you down!
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) And ya know not all bands allow that photography.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Yeah, I know. But it still is some of the best views to get all that energy and emotion.
AWAY-TEAM: You bet!
DANIEL STRAUCH: And ya know, I need that emotion and energy from the fans. I’ve been given shit before about how I move around too much on stage. I don’t care, that’s what I love to do and people enjoy it. I hit my notes. I don’t have an issue with moving around. If I’m exhausted, so be it. I need that emotion and getting the crowd to get up and down. It’s amazing when people come up to me afterwards and tell me that it was the best show they’ve ever seen in ten years. We hear that all the time when we play. You can’t fabricate something like that. People have to believe when they are watching you. Know what I mean?
AWAY-TEAM: Yep. I sure do.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Some vocal coaches will tell you, don’t move. Catch your breath. You gotta last night after night. When you move as much as I do and I lose my breath, I just try not to strain my voice. So I’ve tried to learn ways to breath correctly, stretch correctly, for when I’m on stage going crazy so I don’t wear myself out every night.
AWAY-TEAM: You do need to think about it. It is a mental process.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Absolutely!
AWAY-TEAM: You do need to take care of your voice as a singer. You, as a frontman, need to take care of your voice. You ARE the voice of the band onstage.
DANIEL STRAUCH: You got it!
AWAY-TEAM: My final question for you today is this: Is there something you want to say to people about Alice Anna that maybe they don’t know? Is there a question that you’ve always wanted to answer but have never been asked?
DANIEL STRAUCH: Honestly, one thing that I would want to say we as a band are genuine. What you are hearing is us. I comes from the heart.
AWAY-TEAM: You’re not doing it for the money, you’re not doing it for the record label. You guys are doing it for you guys.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Exactly. And that is what it is. I guess what my biggest thing is that I want people to connect to the music. Relating to the music, it means different things to different people. But yet people can still connect. And that is the goal at this point. Time will show how those opportunities will happen.
AWAY-TEAM: I think you are heading in the right direction. And as busy as you say you’ve been in the last year, I would venture to say by being connected with Shauna and the things that you’ve told me here today, you’re going to skyrocket.
DANIEL STRAUCH: I appreciate that! I sure do hope so. Thank you so much for having me.
AWAY-TEAM: My pleasure. And thank you for taking your time today to chat. Thanks Dan.
DANIEL STRAUCH: Take care. Bye.
Video for Standing In The Rain:
Check out all that is ALICE ANNA at their site: http://www.aliceannamusic.com/
Special thanks to Daniel Strauch for taking the time to speak with me, and to Shauna O’Donnell at MUEN Public Relations and Promotion for helping to make it happen.
Is there life on other planets? With the introduction of the hard rockin’ quartet MESSAGE TO VENUS we just may find out. Jandre Nadal, John Feliciano, Edgar Ramos, and JuanMa Font are just beginning to unleash their wrath unto the masses, with a style that’s both melodic and metal, that will no doubt be played loud enough to invoke a visit from the planet next door. So fasten your seatbelts, stow all carry-on items in the overhead compartment (don’t worry no unecessary pat-downs here), and join me as I get the chance to catch up with John Feliciano, M2V’s aspirational axe-man, to get the story behind rock’s next great tympanic treasure.
AWAY-TEAM: I’d first like to congratulate you on the release of your killer E.P. The Envelope, and perhaps even more importantly on the upcoming release of your first full length album Victims and Villains.
JOHN FELICIANO: Thank you so much man!
AWAY-TEAM: I’m excited to hear the whole album. I know there’s not a set release date yet for Victims and Villains, but can you give us an idea as to when we might see it?
JOHN FELICIANO: Well right now, today, the singer is actually in the studio working on another song. We have four songs left to record, and the album is done. Then it will go, of course, to mixing stages and mastering. We’re hoping that the album will be finished by around October of this year. In terms of when it will be released, we are working with management to see what route we will be taking, because we have the option of releasing it independently like we did with The Envelope, but we are also open to the possibility of maybe having a record label involved. Ya know partnering up with them to release that album to maximize it’s release. So we have our options open, but in terms of a release date, we would love to see it released early next year, but there’s no set release date, as of yet.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, how did the band all meet and get started?
JOHN FELICIANO: Well, JuanMa and Edgar, they are the drummer and bassist, they’ve been friends for many, many years. I went to the same University that JuanMa went to; I’ve been involved with bands for about 14 years now, and in the local scene we knew each other. JuanMa and Edgar played in a band together, I played in another band, and Jandre, who is from the west side of Puerto Rico, had a pretty good local following. So we knew each other from the music scene. But basically, in 2003 I started a band with a couple of friends and we needed a bassist, so I called Edgar. Fast forward to 2006, bands change and go through different stages, the drummer that we had at that time quit. So we called JuanMa who I’ve always wanted to play with because he’s a very technical drummer, and he has pretty good chops, and I always wanted to have a project with him. Edgar, being a good friend of JuanMa as well, it made complete sense. So JuanMa joined the project, which wasn’t this band, but we all decided that we wanted to move to the United States in the future, because if we really wanted to pursue this we had to make that jump. Maybe not now, but that would be the ultimate goal. So we decided to go into the studio and record a three song demo with the band. The producer Leo Alvarez tells us, “You know guys, you should really start recording a full length, before you do anything. Because right now you have the means, and that would be really good to have up your sleeve” So we start recording this full length album, but then in the process of recording it the singer that we had at the time; for personal reasons, he’s a really good friend, he decided to leave. So that’s when we got the opportunity to call Jandre to join the project, and work with him in the studio with Leo Alvarez, the producer, to make this record that will be Victims and Villains. So it’s basically an evolution of bands, ya know, and a process of natural selection that we got together. Because in this business, there’s some people that are really good musicians, but they get married, they have kids, and they decide to take another route with their lives. But the four of us, we’ve been very focused and this is what we wanna do. The music was already recorded when Jandre joined the project, and it has been a challenge for him, but so far it’s been great. And being that we already knew each other for at least 5-6 years it’s even better, because you already know the person on a personal level and then to be able to create music with them, it’s good. There’s no surprises in terms of friendship, ya know. We’re friends first, and bandmates second.
JOHN FELICIANO: The name of the band comes from a song that Jandre was writing, lyrics that he was writing, in that song he was talking about life on another planet. Possibility of life, and we are not alone or whatever, in a part of the song he mentioned “Message to Venus”. The song never worked, as a song, but he always found that phrase very interesting, because it’s kind of open to interpretation. People might say “Message to Venus” is a message to the women, or it’s a message to another world, or it’s something out of this world. So we incorporated it as the band name because we felt that it’s a name that allows us to explore, in the musical aspect. We can be heavy, we can be subtle, and the lyrics of the songs are like short stories. We have a beginning, an end, a climax and you can hear that in the songs. If you really listen to the songs, they have characters. Like for example, in “Cold and Grey” you have this person that basically is a psychopath, and is obsessed with this woman, and he’s basically telling her “If I don’t have you, no one will.” That’s why it’s called “Cold and Grey”, if someone else is gonna have you, he’s gonna have you “Cold and Grey”, ya know. It’s kinda harsh, but it is what it is. So you have characters, you have the psychopath, and in a part of the song you have this girl screaming “Let me go”; and in the songs, that’s how Jandre, and Edgar go about creating lyrics, they’re basically short films. So that’s the story behind the name, we’re comfortable with it because it allows us to explore with our music, and gives us the flexibility.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, Puerto Rico is not typically a place that you associate with Hard Rock music. Usually when you think Puerto Rico, you think Salsa, or Merengue, or Reggaeton, anything but Rock music…
JOHN FELICIANO: Ricky Martin! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah. (laughs) …is that just a misconception? Or are we missing out on alot of great bands? What’s the Rock scene like in Puerto Rico?
JOHN FELICIANO: In terms of an industry, and let’s talk about the local scene first. You have the full spectrum of rock, over in Puerto Rico, you have from the very light alternative, pop band, to the very heavy death metal. But in terms of a local scene, and a business, the island doesn’t support it. I think it’s a mixture of cultural, and size. If you play in San Juan, how many times are you gonna play in San Juan? You know what I mean? So it’s really not the ideal environment, for a local scene to develop, and bands to be able to be successful. Because you can measure success in many ways, but for this example let’s measure success by a band that is able to meet their means by playing music. Unfortunately, at least that’s my personal opinion, the conditions are not there in terms of the business aspect. But of course, you have many, many talented bands in Puerto Rico that… ya know, we have really good friends in all the genres. You asked if we’re missing out, and I think the world is missing out on the talent that is there. There’s some really, really good bands from the island.
AWAY-TEAM: Well maybe you’ll help shine a light on that!
JOHN FELICIANO: Hopefully! We really hope to make it! We’re doing the part that is our responsibility, that is we’re working hard, and it makes us feel proud because we’re working hard for what we really love. Another thing I was gonna tell you, in Puerto Rico there’s many rockers. Iron Maiden was there a couple of months ago, 30 Seconds to Mars was there like a month ago, and Van Halen sold out show, Paul McCartney sold out show. Ya know, there’s many people that like rock music, but those bands are already established, they have already gone mainstream. They have been fortunate enough to have the means of letting themselves be known, but for a band that is starting, and starting in Puerto Rico the conditions are not there, for the reasons that I already explained to you, to be successful, measuring success as financial success.
AWAY-TEAM: So how did you first get started plating guitar? And what was the first song you ever learned to play?
JOHN FELICIANO: Wow… I got an interest in music when I was around 15, I had a friend that had a guitar, you know I think it’s always like that, that’s the cliche! I had a friend that had a guitar and he knew how to play a couple of things, and I was like “Wow, I really would like to play guitar!” So then for Christams, I asked for, and received a guitar. I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to tune the guitar, what to do with it, but I played with it. Even though I was doing nothing that made sense, but I played with it for hours. Then I moved schools, and I made friends with a guy that knew how to play guitar. He taught me a couple of chords, what to do with the guitar, how to tune it. And that’s how I started playing something that actually made sense. I don’t remember exactly the first song, but I think it was “About A Girl” by Nirvana. That was the first song that I could play, put two chords together, E-minor with G-major. I never took classes, never. I would just spend hours, and hours, and hours playing. And at that time, we’re talking about maybe 1995, the internet was really a blessing, because you were able to download these tablatures, and everything. So you could basically go home for hours, and learn a song by reading tablature. Really early on, like maybe a year into playing guitar, I knew I wanted to make my own stuff. I just felt it pretty quickly, I put learning to play other people’s songs to the side and starting writing my own things. Of course this was a long time ago, it’s not really what we write today, but I had that urge really early on.
AWAY-TEAM: So what was your parent’s reaction when you told them you were moving to Miami to become a rock star?
JOHN FELICIANO: (laughs) Well, in Puerto Rico I think we tend to be a little bit more conservative about those things. But, I really have their support, my dad and my mom support us all the way. And we are fortunate that the rest of the band has parents that are the same way. Their really supportive, and they really believe that you have to make life what you want it to be. One of the worst things that I think can happen to a human being is getting to the last phases of their life and looking back and saying “Gee, I never tried it. Maybe I had a shot!” I prefer to fail, but at least I tried. Because if I don’t know, I think I would go crazy, I would go completely nuts! Wondering what could’ve been, what if… that would drive me crazy!
AWAY-TEAM: So why Miami? What made you choose Miami over an L.A. or a New York?
JOHN FELICIANO: You know I had a… you know like any person, we have to work, and it basically fell in my lap. I had the opportunity to relocate, and I didn’t even think about it. I had my girlfriend back in Puerto Rico, who is now my wife, and I thought “This is the chance, this is it! I’m moving, I’m taking this step.” I was given the opportunity on Friday, and by Sunday I was already in Miami. It was super fast. I said “This is what I have to do.” I told my girlfriend, not to worry, we’re gonna make it, I’ll find a way; and now look, a couple of years later we’re here and settled, we got married. I think if there’s a will there’s a way, ya know what I mean? We hadn’t even finished tracking the album yet when I moved, so I flew back to Puerto Rico and finished my part of the album in one weekend, three days of like 16 hours apiece. Basically, the opportunity came in Miami, and it’s pretty strategic in terms of it being on the east coast, and you can get to Puerto Rico pretty easily, and to other parts of the nation.
JOHN FELICIANO: (laughs) Ha! Oh my God… Yeah, you know, the company is a human resource recruiting firm, and they were doing a story on illegal immigration, and illegal immigrants working in the United States. It was a hot topic. You know there’s a lot of federal agencies that go into Puerto Rico to find talent, especially bilingual talent, because Puerto Rico mainly speaks Spanish, but educated people are bilingual. They wanted to do a story on companies going to Puerto Rico, and why it would be good for a company to look at Puerto Rico as a good source of talent, etc. etc. And since I’m in that business, I don’t know why someone referred me because I’m Puerto Rican, and they were talking about Puerto Ricans, but… I live in Miami, and CNN in Miami called me to do an interview with CNN en Espanol. So I went there and did that. It’s crazy because you see the studios and you think that they’re very big, it’s not. It’s like a closet. You’re in a closet with a camera there, and no one else with you. The reporter is in like Atlanta, and that’s it. It’s just you inside a closet with that camera. It’s pretty funny.
AWAY-TEAM: The Envelope contains a really great cover of the Depeche Mode classic “Stripped”. Who were some of your strongest influences growing up?
JOHN FELICIANO: I would have to say that one of my main influences is Tool. I love how they evolved, you listen to the first E.P. Opiate, and you listen to the last one 10,000 Days and it’s great. It has technical, musical value, and it also is entertaining. I could hear a band that makes something difficult, but I don’t like difficult music just for the sake of being difficult. I like technical music, that might be pretty challenging to play, but it has to be entertaining, it has to catch my attention and I have to be entertained. I have to feel that there’s some sentiment being transmitted through that song, and I feel that with Tool. Of course, you can branch out to A Perfect Circle, in which you have a different set of musicians. You have a great drummer, great guitar player, bassist, and of course Maynard from Tool. Another band that I was really into, at the time, was Nirvana. That was like my favorite band, at that time, like in 1994-95. What I liked about Nirvana was their energy, you know the music was simple in terms of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-interlude-chorus, but it was powerful, entertaining, and straight to the point. I think my biggest influence has to be Tool, but if you want to include other bands I would say, from my early years I would say Nirvana, and right now I listen to alot of music. I like heavy stuff, I like 36 Crazyfists, I like Pierce the Veil, I like Nonpoint, Puya, Pantera, all of that.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s funny, I knew you were gonna say Tool, because I hear quite a bit of Tool in “Change”. The guitar work on that is very Tool.
JOHN FELICIANO: Yeah, it’s got that oriental scale.
AWAY-TEAM: “Universal You” debuted on Music Choice yesterday, and “Cold and Grey” is being played on Sirius XM’s Octane. I understand that Jose Mangin of Sirius XM said that you guys were the first band from Puerto Rico to be played on Octane…
JOHN FELICIANO: Yeah, I don’t know if it was Jose Mangin, the DJ at that time, but the DJ that was on shift said that was the first band coming out of Puerto Rico to be played on Sirius XM Octane which was very flattering for us, ya know. We are very proud, but at the same time we feel very humbled, because it’s a big weight to carry on your shoulders to be the first one.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, that kinda makes you guys like the godfather’s of the Puerto Rican rock scene. (laughs)
JOHN FELICIANO: Yeah, at least in the Active Rock/ Hard Rock scene. Because you have Nonpoint which has it’s roots or beginnings in Puerto Rico, and I’m not talking bad about them I love that band, that’s one of my favorite bands, but they really were made here in South Florida. It started over there, but the people that were the original ones from Puerto Rico are no longer with the band. The original, original member is Robb Rivera the drummer. So I think that’s what they were talking about, a band that was formed in Puerto Rico, and coming straight out of Puerto Rico. And we feel very proud about that.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have played alongside many great bands, Anthrax, Puya, Ill Nino to name a few. What was the most memorable of those shows?
JOHN FELICIANO: Just to be clear, that was from our personal experiences in other bands. It wasn’t with MESSAGE TO VENUS. For me the most memorable one, is when we played a show with three great bands in one night. It was Ill Nino, Ankla, and Nonpoint. That was the bill, and then us with the band that I had at that time. That was a great experience to play in front of many thousands of people, and people that don’t know you that were like “Wow, you guys played great! I really loved your band.” That was amazing.
AWAY-TEAM: I think I know the answer to this, but if you could make anyone live or dead a fifth member of the band, who would it be and why?
JOHN FELICIANO: Alive or dead… ya know, I would really love to have Tool’s guitar player Adam Jones. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: That’s where I thought you were going with it. (laughs)
JOHN FELICIANO: I would really love to be able to collaborate with that guy. He has a certain style of playing, which is kind of dark, but at the same time it doesn’t go to that point of no return. It’s still energetic, it’s still listenable. It’s not simple, in terms of being easy, but he makes music that’s not complicated for the sense of being complicated. It flows, you know what I mean? The patterns might be odd, but it flows as a composition, as a whole, as a song, as a story. It would be amazing to be able to drink from that fountain of knowledge.
AWAY-TEAM: With Victims and Villains on the horizon, what new song do you most look forward to playing live?
JOHN FELICIANO: There’s this song called “The Unknown”, the reason I look forward to playing that song is, not only that I live the song, but in the middle of the song when it’s in it’s climax there is a chorus of people. We brought 20 of our closest friends into the studio to sing a part, they sing ‘We are not alone.’ So I really look forward to playing that song and getting that reaction from the crowd, having the crowd sing that part. You’ll be able to hear that part on the album, but being able to hear the crowd sing that part back to you, that would be amazing.
AWAY-TEAM: So last, but not least… Captain Morgan or Bacardi?
JOHN FELICIANO: For me it’s Bacardi. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: John, I wanna thank you for your time. Best of luck to you, I know you’re probably not gonna need it, you guys are solid as they come. I know you’re destined for great things. Hopefully next time we talk, we’ll be talking major label release.
JOHN FELICIANO: Hopefully! Thank you so much.
AWAY-TEAM: Talk to you soon buddy.
JOHN FELICIANO: Definitely, we’ll talk soon. Bye.
Special thanks go to John Feliciano for so graciously giving me his time.
Not too many bands take the path that Crossfade has taken and still manage to find success. The South Carolina natives exploded onto the scene back in 2004, with their hit single “Cold”. They then further established themselves on the rock radar with the follow up singles “So Far Away” and “Colors”, propelling their self-titled debut to Platinum status. Two years later the band’s sophomore effort “Falling Away” was released to mixed reviews and mediocre sales. From there, Crossfade virtually disappeared, it was rumored that the band had been dropped by their label Columbia Records in a disappointing end to a promising career. Here we are five years later and Ed Sloan and Co. are back with a new label, a new album, and a new lease on life. I recently had a chance to catch up with Ed to get the skinny on the aptly named forthcoming album, so sit back and join me as a rejuvenated rockstar reminds us that “We All Bleed”.
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to first congratulate you on the new album “We All Bleed”, which is being released on June 21st. The album is a little bit of a departure from your signature sound, and the Crossfade that we’re used to. I noticed that Les had alot more songwriting duties this time around, do you feel like that contributed to your new sound? What ultimately led you in the direction that you took on this album?
ED SLOAN: Well, I think you definitely hit the nail on the head right there with Les. Ya know, he really writes alot of dark music, orchestral music, and that definitely added to the darkness of the record. Plus I think the lyrics are a little bit darker than our typical albums, coming out of a three year touring haze I think made the lyrics come out a bit darker. But definitely alot of Les in there makes the album much darker than usual.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s been quite a while since you’ve toured full-scale, I actually had the pleasure of seeing you play a free show outside the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa back on April 1st. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Is this an April Fool’s joke?’ I mean, there was about two dozen people in attendance, and about a dozen full sets of teeth… (laughs)
ED SLOAN: (laughs) Yeah, you’re right.
AWAY-TEAM: …it was definitely a rough crowd! Anyways, aside from that debacle, which to your credit you guys rocked the shit out of as if it were 30,000 people, then of course you just played Rock on the Range, how has the reception been after being gone for so long?
ED SLOAN: Actually it surprised us all, I mean we’ve seen fans from four years ago when we were last on the road. I’ve seen hundreds of fans that I remember from back then, and a large amount of new fans. It’s been great, all the shows have been great, and everybody’s just super pumped to hear the old stuff, but also with the new stuff it’s almost like they’ve stolen the record already or something. (laughs) It’s been received very well from what we’ve seen so far. After every show we do a signing of course, and there’s been a line out the door for that. It’s almost like we never left!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s gotta make you feel pretty good.
ED SLOAN: Yeah, no doubt it does.
AWAY-TEAM: Your debut album went platinum, your sophomore effort only sold about 200,000 copies, and then not long after that you were dropped from Columbia Records. When you first got the news that you were being dropped, what was your initial reaction? Was it kind of a sense of defeat? Or was it more like ‘Ya know what? Fuck You. I’m gonna take my shit and go kick ass somewhere else’?
ED SLOAN: It was actually our decision to leave Columbia. Everybody thinks we got dropped, but they just gave us some stipulations that we wouldn’t deal with. So we said ‘Screw you!’ and we got out of our contract. It was definitely a ‘Fuck You’ to them because they were just, at that time the industry was going to shit, and their whole staff was going to shit, and we didn’t want to have to deal with it anymore so we were just elated to get out of our contract with them. They wouldn’t do shit for us, all they were doing was working to pimp like Beyonce or whatever the big act was they were working with at the time. That was all they could focus on, they didn’t have the money anymore, or the manpower, so we were glad to get the fuck out of there.
AWAY-TEAM: You were quoted as saying “Music has always been my escape, a friend, but then music became my enemy.” Elaborate on that for me.
ED SLOAN: Well that was after three years of touring, on two records, and being on that record label, and then us leaving them, or them dropping us, however it’s looked at. Coming home it was kind of a shocker, after three years you gotta piece your life back together. You gotta find a new place to live, and you realize it’s gonna be another two or three years to write another album, and find a new label to put it out…knowing that I didn’t wanna stop. It just seemed kinda daunting knowing that what lied ahead of me was two years of writing another record, and finding another label, and all that kind of stuff. So music just kinda became… for a while there music became something that I didn’t enjoy. I couldn’t get to my happy spot when I write music, but that only lasted a year or so and then I snapped out of it. That’s kinda why the album took a little while to get out, but we all got through it together.
AWAY-TEAM: Addiction and personal demons kinda seem to be a common theme on the album, obviously spearheaded by “Dear Cocaine”. I may be a little bold in my assumption, but we all know “art imitates life”, so what was your “rock bottom” moment? What prompted you to break from the doldrums of depression and drugs, and whatever else was bothering you at the time?
ED SLOAN: I think it was, I was just not focusing on music at all. I was just laying around depressed, and not doing much meaningful. You know, I really don’t know how to answer that because “rock bottom” comes the same for everybody, once you hit it it’s, ya know… well I guess it’s not the same for everybody but for me it turned out to be that I just wouldn’t do shit, just laid around and did anything to keep music off my mind, or my future off of my mind, so…
AWAY-TEAM: When did you realize it was time to get up and get back to work?
ED SLOAN: I think as soon as the other guys got in gear. Ya know, they were all taking time off for other reasons; family, getting their lives back together. I think as soon as… I lived at our studio where we recorded all of these albums, and I think it was Les started coming in every day and working his ass of ’til like 6:00, putting in like 18 hour days. Slowly I started hearing some of the stuff he was writing, and it just started to infuse into my soul, and started to wake me up. Finally I said “This is enough. I’m enjoying what I’m hearing.” so I joined in and started writing songs. So I think it was just my bandmates kinda kicking me in the ass, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: Well we’re glad they did it! So now you’re on Eleven Seven Music, a label which Nikki Sixx presides over. How long did it take you to land a deal with them? And how did it happen? Was it through an A & R guy? Or was it Nikki, being ever the opportunist, realizing there was a band of your caliber out there without a label?
ED SLOAN: Well, actually it was Allen Kovac, who is the CEO and Founder of that label. Literally within like two weeks of everybody knowing that we weren’t with Columbia anymore, he called our manager at the time and said “Hey, I’m interested in signing the boys…” At that time, we were like “We’re not even gonna have a record ready for like a year.” ,which wound up being three years. But Allen Kovac called at least like 6 times a year to find out how the progress was going, and he was very persistent. Then when it was finally done, obviously he heard the whole record and still wanted to sign us, so it was definitely his persistence that made us realize that they were gonna fight for us and it was gonna be a good home for us. So his persistence paid off, for them and for us.
AWAY-TEAM: I know you’ve always produced your own albums, on this album you had a GRAMMY-winning super producer in Ben Grosse doing the mixing duties. Did you guys pick his brain at all, from a kind of student-mentor standpoint?
ED SLOAN: Oh yeah! (laughs) Yeah, he’s a great guy. We were only supposed to be there for like two weeks, and he actually gave us two months. We’d slowly start to ask him… we recorded the album ourselves, so anytime you get to see a master doing his work, we kinda try to suck the brains dry! He was very forthcoming with alot of his tricks and gadgetry that makes his records what they are. So we definitely learned alot from him technically as far as recording.
AWAY-TEAM: Will Hunt was brought on in 2009, many thought he’d end up being your permanent drummer, what happened there? Was he supposed to just be a session drummer? Or was the intention for him to become a permanent fixture? What’s the story behind that?
ED SLOAN: I think in the beginning, all throughout the writing of the album, you know we wrote the album with digital drums, and then we were like “Okay, at some point we’re gonna go into the studio, and at some point we’re gonna go on tour. We have to get a full time drummer.” And that drummer was gonna be in the band, and Will was down with it, but he’d always have side projects. Ya know between Evanescence, Black Label Society, Dark New Day, just all these different bands he plays with so the timing wasn’t right. So he was able to come in and record the album, but because it was shelved for 6-8 months I think Will had to make a decision. Ya know, “I’ve gotta go out and make money. I gotta do what’s right for my family, so we’ll see what happens when the record comes out.” During that time, we started auditioning new drummers knowing that Will probably wasn’t gonna be able to do it, and we found Mark Castillo from Boston who’s in the band now and plays live with us. But it was completely amicable, it was just because the record was taking so long to come out that he had to go do his thing, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: Right. Mark was brought into the fold last year, and I understand there’s a bit of a funny story as to how he was welcomed into the band. Tell me about that.
ED SLOAN: (laughs) Well he drove 18 hours down from Boston, or 12 hours, whatever it is, and we hung out with him for a couple of days, and played 3 or 4 songs with him, jammed with him as far as auditioning him. And we had him film himself coming down here, and we were like “Look man, if this works out we’d like to have some footage of the trip down.” And when he left, he filmed himself the whole way back. So when we’re in the editing room making the webisode, we’ve got Mark coming down and him playing, then we’ve got Mark driving 18 hours back up to Boston, and then he pulls into his driveway saying “Thank God, I’m finally home!” and then at the end it shows “Welcome to Crossfade Mark Castillo. If you ever try to leave us, we will kill you!” And I believe we said “Hey man, there’s a new webisode out. You may wanna go to your computer and check it out.” Right when he got home he found out he was a member of the band that way, and I think he got kind of a shocker out of that instead of us just calling him to tell him he was in the band. (Scroll down to see the webisode)
AWAY-TEAM: (Laughs) That’s great, I love it! You in particular have listed James Hetfield and Metallica as one of your greatest influences. So based on content, compare your albums with their closest related Metallica album.
ED SLOAN: Our first record, to me anyway, I think is alot like The Black Album, because the messages were real dark, and it’s also got alot of heartfelt songs and lyrics on it. And I think this new album is a little bit more like Master of Puppets, it’s darker and heavier, and still the same type messages that Metallica and Hetfield have always had. But you know how Master of Puppets was a little more layered, a little tighter, a little more musicianship going on. I think this one is comparable to that. I mean I would never compare our stuff to Metallica’s integrity wise, I mean I would but… (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well don’t take offense to this, hear me out on this one. I think this one is closer to a St. Anger, and it’s not just, ya know, I think it’s a shitty album. I think that you can draw some parallels to James just overcoming some of his personal demons, and the change in the signature sound, it just seems to have that parallel.
ED SLOAN: I got ya. I can feel you on that. You know that was definitely a 180 for them, ya know. I don’t think we’ve quite done a 180 on this one, but I do feel you on the similarities of that change. I guess, sonically their change was so crazy, such a 180, that’s the only thing I would differ with on that statement.
AWAY-TEAM: On that same tangent, I think you may have answered this already, but do you worry about rejection from your die hard fans?
ED SLOAN: Not at all actually. Because I don’t think that it’s changed dramatically, I think it’s just been elevated. It’s still Crossfade, it’s still the things that I think attracted people in the first place, I think are on this album. It just may be a little heavier, although we do think that the messages, and the feeling, and the soulfulness and the darkness is still what people associate with Crossfade, at least that’s what I think. Songs that are backdrops to their lives, songs that you can ride around in the car and be pissed the fuck off, and I think that’s the same with this album. Ya know every album you lose fans, you gain fans, but I think we’re gonna have a winner here, so.
AWAY-TEAM: You landed your first deal through an online A&R firm called TAXI, you had actually gotten to the point where you were actually submitted country music on there in the hopes of getting signed. Were those some of the songs that we now know as Crossfade? Or do you have some hidden gems, and a future as a country songwriter?
ED SLOAN: (laughs) Yeah, actually I’ve got 40 or 50 songs that I’ve written that would never be qualified as Crossfade songs. (laughs) I’ve written almost an entire country album, I wouldn’t call it country, it’s more some of it’s pop… well ya know, it’s pop, it’s country, I mean I’ve written everything. During those years I was actually sort of a musical slut, I’d write anything I could just to get the attention of somebody, anybody. So I’ve definitely got a catalog of all kinds of strange music, including country. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Well there’s another case where the persistence paid off huh?
ED SLOAN: Absolutely.
AWAY-TEAM: Well Ed, it’s been an extreme pleasure. Thank you so much for giving me your time. Best of luck with the album. It’s great to see you guys back out there doing what you do best. I look forward to seeing you next time you make your way back through my neck of the woods.
ED SLOAN: Thank You! I appreciate you including us in your thang!
AWAY-TEAM: Well thanks again. Hope to see you soon. Take care.
ED SLOAN: Sounds good. Bye.
Crossfade will be part of the Rock Allegiance Tour with Buckcherry, Papa Roach, P.O.D., Puddle of Mudd, Red, and Drive A which kicks off this August. For all things Crossfade including tour dates and to purchase music click here.
Special thanks to Ed Sloan for so graciously giving me his time, and to Tim Tatulli at ‘Stache Media for making it all happen.
May 19, 2011
Away-Team writer: Marcy Royce
Pop Evil members: Tony Greve and Matt DiRito
I became a POP EVIL fan in August 2009 after catching their live show at Merriweather Post Pavilion when they were the support act for KIX and JUDAS PRIEST on the British Steel Tour. And I have been following them ever since. Their music is that good to me. I was excited to know that I would have the opportunity this night to interview two of the members of POP EVIL , Tony Greve, guitarist, and Matt DiRito, bassist. Both joined the band in 2007, just months apart.
Now, let me prefaced the following with this: I have NEVER, and mean NEVER, had so much fun doing an interview as I did with Tony and Matt. I’ve never laughed so much in between questions and I’ve never been sidetracked with so much fun. Read on to see what these guy had to tell me about POP EVIL , their new upcoming release; War Of Angels, their management team and being on the road.
And just for the record, 7.5 ounces will live on, forever. You would have had to been there to understand this. Too funny! Thanks guys.
This is Marcy Royce with away-team.com speaking today with Tony Greve and Matt DiRito from POP EVIL .
AWAY-TEAM: I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do this interview with you guys. I’m with away-team. com and I’ve been with them for over a year now.
TONY GREVE: It’s cool that this worked out and you could come in and chat and do this interview. It works out both ways, it’s good for us too.
AWAY-TEAM: How was the trip last night from Indiana?
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, it was easy. I slept the entire way. Not a big deal for me.
TONY GREVE: It was a pretty easy ride. It’s crazy though. We will pass out in one city and wake up another city.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Good to have a dedicated bus driver.
TONY GREVE: Definitely!
MATT DIRITO: That’s why we have to take care of him and make sure he gets good sleep. I think he’s in his hotel room now sleeping.
TONY GREVE: That definitely helps out. He’s gotta be well rested, that’s for sure. He’s got everybody’s lives in his hands.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys just did Carolina Rebellion almost 2 weeks ago, and this weekend you are doing Rock On The Range. And next weekend you are going to Rocklahoma.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. Lotsa rockin’!
TONY GREVE: Holy shit yeah!
AWAY-TEAM: How do you feel about all these being packed into one month?
TONY GREVE: It’s kinda cool, ya know. We’ve already had how many festivals we did. We did U Fest in Arizona, Carolina Rebellion, there’s been so many festivals going on. That’s the cool thing about summer, all the big outdoor festivals that they put on and we get to be a part of.
AWAY-TEAM: Do you like the outdoor festivals better than the other places you do in the winter when you are inside confined in a building?
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. I do. I look forward to it all year and we know that these things are booked so far out because so many bands are going to be there. It’s crazy. We’re looking forward to it all year and all of a sudden it’s here. We’re like, oh, that’s next weekend already. Shit man! And they are all right in a row, too. It goes by like a flash. But just last weekend we did 3 outdoor festivals in a row. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Every single one of them were cold and rainy.
TONY GREVE: I’m talking pouring rain. It was raining sideways.
AWAY-TEAM: I saw that on POP EVIL’s Facebook Page. Day 2 of rain, cold.
TONY GREVE: It’s still raining. We can’t get away from it, dude!
MATT DIRITO: I know dude! It sucks.
AWAY-TEAM: You just can’t get away from it.
TONY GREVE: It’s following us.
AWAY-TEAM: We’ve been dealing with it since Sunday in this area. I don’t know how long you’ve been dealing with it? It’s been awful here.
MATT DIRITO: It started in Denver for us last Tuesday and hasn’t stopped.
TONY GREVE: Everywhere we go, all the outdoor shows are rain and cold.
AWAY-TEAM: How have the fans been with it all? Are they still packed in?
TONY GREVE: Yeah!
MATT DIRITO: What’s cool about it is, and I think it’s kinda fun is, that you get the really hardcore fans that come out.
TONY GREVE: They’ll be out there in the rain, soaking wet, and just rockin’. It’s awesome!
MATT DIRITO: Covered in mud, and shit. They’re just like…
TONY GREVE: Remember that one guy that stopped us and asked to get a picture with us. He was covered in mud. Dude, was he rolling around in it or what? (laughs). From head to toe he just looked like a mud monster.
MATT DIRITO: It looked like Woodstock.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, it did! (laughs).
AWAY-TEAM: Wonder if he just fell into it and he just said, eh, screw it I’m caked in mud. Who cares? I’ll just shower later. (laughs).
TONY GREVE: That’s cool to see the fans that are that hardcore and dedicated to just stick it out. You’re talking festivals that go from noon until ten o’clock at night or even midnight. And they’re out there the entire time.
AWAY-TEAM: For hours!
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. It’s kinda insane.
TONY GREVE: I like to call them rock and roll soldiers. Man, they’re definitely sticking it out.
AWAY-TEAM: Absolutely. For hours upon hours they muster through hot sun or cold rain. The fans are going to get the gamut with those festivals when it comes to the weather. You never know what you’re gonna have. You guys are protected on the stage, somewhat. Do you guys have side protection at all?
MATT DIRITO: Sometimes. It always seems if it’s raining it’s going to get everywhere.
TONY GREVE: Dude, the stage was soaked in Rockford, Illinois. I remember that. I walked offstage and my feet were soaked, soaked, soaked.
MATT DIRITO: Slipping and sliding.
TONY GREVE: Yeah.
MATT DIRITO: This was kinda cool. I was playing and my bass amp was vibrating on the stage around me. Puddles were vibrating. (demonstrates to my laughter). Like Jurassic Park. You could see the ripples in the water, you could see the ripples on the stage. It was sweet! YEAH! (shows rock horns).
AWAY-TEAM: The first time
I ever saw POP EVIL was at Merriweather Pavilion in August of 2009 when you guys were with Kix and Judas Priest.
TONY GREVE: In Baltimore?
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, Baltimore kinda. It was Columbia, MD.
TONY GREVE: Is that when Kix played, that show?
TONY GREVE: Dude, that was one show wasn’t it?
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, that was the one.
TONY GREVE: (goes into singing the chorus from Don’t Close Your Eyes). Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: Exactly! That’s when I saw you guys for the first time. I had never heard of POP EVIL before that.
TONY GREVE: Before that show?
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah. And I’ve been following you since.
TONY GREVE: Really?
AWAY-TEAM: I was really, really impressed with you guys that day.
TONY GREVE: That is SO awesome! Thank you. (gives me the high five).
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, that’s cool. That was almost 2 years ago.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, that’s crazy.
AWAY-TEAM: And honestly, I have seen you guys grow so much in that time. You’ve solidified things, you’ve really moved forward and I am SO EXCITED for War Of Angels.
MATT DIRITO: Can’t wait for you to hear it.
AWAY-TEAM: I’ve read somewhere online that the release date is in June, not sure how true that is. However, I’m more than ready. POP EVIL is having this big announcement on Sunday at Rock On The Range, just under 70 hours or so and I’m interviewing you a few days too early. Damn! I know you can’t tell me anything.
MATT DIRITO: I don’t even know anything for sure. There’s still a bunch of stuff that is going on pertaining to the release of War Of Angels.
TONY GREVE: We’re always trying to grow and push forward, ya know.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. I think if we weren’t we’d be going down.
AWAY-TEAM: I can tell as a fan, you guys have definitely risen by leaps and bounds since the first time I saw you. I mean, you were good then in 2009, enough for me to take notice and for me to start following you. Getting Lipstick On The Mirror and really play it, dissect it in my iPod. I use it for my workout at the gym, too. Hero is one of my go-to tunes for my ab workout.
TONY GREVE: Nice!
TONY GREVE: I’m the kind of person that thinks like I’m never happy no matter what situation I’m in. Ever. It doesn’t matter. So unless something is constantly changing or growing or moving in one direction or another, either way, I just can’t be stagnate and still. Ya know? Some bands are just like okay with where they are at. We’ll never just be okay with where we’re at.
MATT DIRITO: It’s good to have that drive, ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: If you lose it, that drive, then things are going to change. And they are not going to change for the best either. You’ve gotta have that drive for the position you guys are in. I mean, you are really working your way up the ladder, you’ve got to keep putting your hook into things. Already I can see that.
AWAY-TEAM: I was on YouTube in the last week or so and I saw the teaser video for 10 tracks from the War Of Angels cd. I have watched that so many times. I’m trying to pick up the lyrics, pick up the riffs, pick up the hooks, pick up whatever is in there. I keep trying to really dig into it. I really want to get my hands on the cd so I can review it for www.away-team.com. I know the beginning of May you interviewed with a guy from another publication and I keep reviewing his interview. He already must have had War Of Angels and reviewed it. He was specifically talking about things in each track.
MATT DIRITO: We’d love to have you do a review of it.
TONY GREVE: Listen to the entire thing ahead of the release date and give us your feedback.
AWAY-TEAM: I can’t wait to hear more than what is on that video. I know that guy asked each one of you which song you like to play live the most from War Of Angels.
TONY GREVE: Yes, yes he did.
AWAY-TEAM: Both of you said Boss’s Daughter.
TONY GREVE: It’s like a rock and roll song, ya know. It’s all about rockin’. It’s all about the party. It’s all about the Boss’s Daughter. Who doesn’t want to bang the Boss’s Daughter, right?
MATT DIRITO: Like the chick yesterday. Right? (laughs).
MATT DIRITO: You just don’t want to trip over your own feet.
TONY GREVE: Yeah. And it’s just a heavy hitter. It’s a good rock and roll anthem. Cool thing about it, I got to cowrite it with Mick Mars. Mick and I wrote the music to it. Guitar parts, the riffs and stuff. I went and spent the day at his house, we sat down and played guitar all day. What we came up with was the music for the riffs. The meat and potatoes for Boss’s Daughter.
MATT DIRITO: We put the lyrics to it.
AWAY-TEAM: How did that opportunity come up with Mick Mars?
TONY GREVE: Well, at the time we both had the same publishing company.
MATT DIRITO: He owed me money so I was like, Mick you owe me money. So let’s just hash this out…
TONY GREVE: Let’s just do this and call it even. (laughs).
MATT DIRITO: That’s a joke. That’s really just a joke.
TONY GREVE: That publishing company is always looking to get people together to write and see who comes up with what. Our manager called me and said, guess what, guess who you get to work with? I said, I don’t know. Slash? He said no. But then he said Mick Mars. I said, that’s even way f’in cooler. He’s one of the most underrated guitar players, EVER!
MATT DIRITO: He really is. He’s a great player.
TONY GREVE: Being as f’in awesome as he is. He’s so good, it’s unreal.
AWAY-TEAM: So how long did you spend with him?
TONY GREVE: An entire day almost. Noon to midnight pretty much. He looks like he would be quiet and shy, and he’s none of that. He talks a lot and likes to tell stories. It was great, he was very talkative. You can tell he’s had his share of health stuff going on, but he was much better than I expected.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s really cool that he worked with you on Boss’s Daugther. And I really do like that track off War Of Angels. And it’s one of my favorites off the teaser video.
TONY GREVE: We had none of those riffs for Boss’s Daughter before we went in. We just sat down and we came up with all of it. It was way cool!
AWAY-TEAM: What other songs did he work with you on?
TONY GREVE: Just that one, that’s it.
AWAY-TEAM: Did you work with anyone else on any of the other songs?
TONY GREVE: I did not personally.
MATT DIRITO: Well, there is that song with Jack Blades.
TONY GREVE: Jack Blades, yeah. From Night Ranger. That was more Leigh and Jack working on that. There’s a song on the album, well, maybe it will come out on this version of it or it may be a special bonus track in the future. I’m not sure. But we did a song called The Good With The Bad with Jack Blades. And that was pretty cool and he’s very awesome, too.
AWAY-TEAM: I know the big thing right now is the upcoming release of War Of Angels. I’ve read another interview you had at the beginning of May and also listened to the radio studio stuff with Carson earlier today from 105.7, The X. And with War Of Angels, there are 10 songs on that teaser video. Is there going to actually be 12 songs total?
MATT DIRITO: We don’t know yet. That’s something we’ve got to work out.
AWAY-TEAM: I downloaded the song from POP EVIL‘S Facebook page, Save The World. And I like that too.
MATT DIRITO: There’s another one that you can download, too. It’s an acoustic version of Monster You Made.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, yeah. Have you heard that one yet?
AWAY-TEAM: POP EVIL played with Rev Theory at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore in March of this year. And I was there covering them and I also photographed you guys as well.
TONY GREVE: Oh, awesome!
AWAY-TEAM: Your photos are on my Facebook page, my Flickr page as well as on the Away-Team page under the photos section. There is also a brief review of you guys in the show review for that night.
MATT DIRITO: Sweet!
AWAY-TEAM: And Tony, you have a lot of flying V’s.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, the Dean Guitars. I’m a Dean Guitar player. And I’m branded for life now. (shows me his Dean Guitar tattoo on his wrist). I love the way those guitars are shaped, they’re so awesome.
AWAY-TEAM: And Matt, you are on the Spector Bass website. A photo of you is there.
MATT DIRITO: I am on the Spector website.
AWAY-TEAM: Matt McCloskey of Rev Theory saw my photos from that show in Baltimore in March and contacted me about 2 particular photos that he liked. He wanted permission to send them to Spector. So one of those photos is just below yours on the left hand column.
MATT DIRITO: Oh. You shot that one? That’s awesome.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, thanks! Do you play Dean as well as Spector?
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, I do play Dean.
AWAY-TEAM: I noticed the head stock on the white one. Is there more than one?
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. Right now I use all Deans. I think I probably used a Spector about a year ago. It was just kind of a fill in bass here and there. But right now I only used Dean. But Spector still has me up on the website. I still talk to the guys over there. They are really cool at Spector.
AWAY-TEAM: Well, with you guys moving farther up the ladder as a band and becoming bigger and bigger, Spector wants you on that site. They want you to help promote Spector. So as long as you are okay with it, they are okay with it.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. Anything that gets us out there, you know.
AWAY-TEAM: And Matt, you are a joy to photograph. Let me tell you.
MATT DIRITO: Oh, well, thank you!
AWAY-TEAM: It’s the hair, it’s the moves, it’s your stage presence, it’s…
TONY GREVE: He’s a joy to party with too. (winks).
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs). I wouldn’t mind doing that! (laughs).
TONY GREVE: Well, ALRIGHT!
MATT DIRITO: YEAH!
TONY GREVE: You just opened a whole new bag of worms! (gives me another high five).
Sidenote: Much laughter and off subject material happened here. Sorry. Just had to be there. I laughed so hard! Now back to the interview… (ha ha).
AWAY-TEAM: Who’s idea was it to market Last Man Standing to the NHL, the NFL, auto racing, the boxer, Mir? How did that all happen?
TONY GREVE: It was just kind of a no brainer, really, for us to pitch it to all of those guys.
MATT DIRITO: Good management.
TONY GREVE: Great management! You listen to that song and that song is a battle anthem. Going head to head, can ya handle it?
MATT DIRITO: We wanted to get it out as many ways as possible. It’s even on a video game now too. It’s on NX vs ATV, or something like that. It’s an off road racing game. Last Man Standing, YOW!
TONY GREVE: It’s a battle anthem song that gets you pumped up. Whether you’re playing sports or MMA fighting, it’s gonna get ya!
AWAY-TEAM: I heard that song on Nascar one day and thought, I know this song.
MATT DIRITO: That’s awesome! So cool!
TONY GREVE: It’s great management too. Those guys really push us and work hard at what they do and they really care about this band. And it shows.
MATT DIRITO: They’re really good looking too!
TONY GREVE: Best looking managers out there.
MATT DIRITO: George and George, man. G and G. Get between 2 slices of George bread, ahhhh.
TONY GREVE: Make a little George bread pie.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah!
AWAY-TEAM: How often do you guys see them?
TONY GREVE: They come out quite a bit. George Jr. was just out with us a couple days ago. Yeah, they’ll come fly out and stay a few days or a week or for however long.
MATT DIRITO: They’ll be at Rock On The Range for sure.
AWAY-TEAM: So they’re very supportive, they’re very interested in you and pushing you and taking you to new levels.
MATT DIRITO: Anytime, day or night, we can talk to them.
AWAY-TEAM: So you can call them at 2 in the morning and they’ll answer?
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, I can call them right now. We can drunk dial them later, ha ha!
TONY GREVE: Oh my gosh, YEAH!
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs hysterically). How often do you do that?
MATT DIRITO: Every once in a while. Maybe you don’t want to put that in the interview. Sorry George! (waving). He’ll just tell us to go focus on the next hit. And ask me when I’m gonna give him the next hit.
TONY GREVE: Please don’t show him this. (laughs).
Sidenote: I’ll stop at the boys request. However, they did share interesting tidbits.
AWAY-TEAM: Talking about how great G & G is, I know that you can’t say a lot about Universal but what can you tell me? How bad did they “f” you over? Because you’re going with a new label now for reasons.
TONY GREVE: I almost want to wait to answer that comment. Wait until everything is complete.
MATT DIRITO: Until we make the announcement. The new label is not going to “f” us over. We’re going to keep doing what we do not matter what.
TONY GREVE: That’s true.
MATT DIRITO: But I’m pissed that it ended up affecting the fans with the release date of the new album and everything. That’s what makes me mad. It’s everywhere we go, it’s every night, everyone’s asking us when the album is going to be released. And I have to say I’m sorry. They sometimes get mad at us.
TONY GREVE: They just don’t realize.
MATT DIRITO: I’m on their side, too. I’m angry that it’s not out.
TONY GREVE: We want it out, too.
AWAY-TEAM: From a marketing standpoint I think it’s helping you in a way for the fact that they know it’s not you, but yet you’re playing stuff from it live, it’s bringing the fans out more to your live shows than maybe they had been. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell with different fans and different reasons those fans may or may not have. I think it’s helping you. It’s building momentum, it’s really creating…
TONY GREVE: You think so?
AWAY-TEAM: Me, I’m salivating for it. I CAN NOT WAIT!
TONY GREVE: I think it is, as long as you don’t wait too long. There comes a point where you build the hype and momentum but if you don’t put something behind it, the momentum will die.
MATT DIRITO: You can’t have too much space in between.
TONY GREVE: It’s gotta come out.
AWAY-TEAM: It was supposed to be released in February, correct? And Last Man Standing was released as a single last fall.
TONY GREVE: Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: So we are 3 months, almost 4 months past that original date. Sometime in June?
MATT DIRITO: Before the end of summer it will be out. Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: I cannot wait.
TONY GREVE: Us either. We’re ready to get this thing out and be able to tour on it, and play on it. And have everyone know the songs and sing them back to us.
AWAY-TEAM: Since you are playing the songs now, what is the percentage of songs from Lipstick On The Mirror to War Of Angels is there?
MATT DIRITO: It’s 50-50 pretty much. As far as the set goes.
AWAY-TEAM: So it looks like you are doing 12 songs tonight for the set. That’s awesome.
TONY GREVE: It will be a good show.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, I’m going to be exhausted. (laughs). It’s been awhile since we’ve done a set that long.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, we’ve been doing these tours with Drowning Pool, Papa Roach and we’re only used to doing 6 songs in the set during those tours.
MATT DIRITO: It’s no longer than 30 minutes for the set.
AWAY-TEAM: You just get warmed up… and you’re done.
TONY GREVE: Yeah pretty much.
AWAY-TEAM: You’re really into it, you’re hitting your groove. And you’re done!
TONY GREVE: This one is going to wipe us out tonight! (laughs).
MATT DIRITO: It’s kinda like when I have sex. You just get into it and, bam, it’s done. It’s over before you know it.
AWAY-TEAM: So the new label you guys are with, they are more inline with where you want to go as a band? With your goals?
TONY GREVE: There going to stand behind us.
MATT DIRITO: We think so. Their already doing good stuff for us. Just showing interest in how we present ourselves and stuff like that. It’s cool. The entire time we were with Universal I had no contact information for anybody even at the label. If I wanted to go talk to someone, like an AR rep or anyone who represents us from publishing to marketing, I didn’t know who to talk to.
AWAY-TEAM: Totally disconnected. Unreachable.
MATT DIRITO: I didn’t have any emails. Nothing from nobody. The only people’s names I know are the presidents of the label. They were the only ones we met really. Well, we kinda met everybody once but I wouldn’t have known who to talk to. These guys from the new label are already showing interest in being hands on with us. We’ll be able to tell you more in year or so.
AWAY-TEAM: After you’ve been through the honeymoon period with them. Everything gets worked out. You get used to them, they get used to you.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. We never got a honeymoon period with Universal. They kinda f’d us in the ass and left us on the curb.
TONY GREVE: (laughs). That’s a great analogy! Awesome dude! That’s true though.
MATT DIRITO: There was no wining and dining, bro.
TONY GREVE: No phone call, no nothing.
MATT DIRITO: Not even a damn reach around.
TONY GREVE: They didn’t even have the common courtesy to give that guy a f’in reach around. (laughs).
MATT DIRITO: What the f*^#!
AWAY-TEAM: So how long have you been working with G & G then?
TONY GREVE: We met them before Universal.
AWAY-TEAM: So they’ve been with you through thick and thin.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah. All the success that we’ve had up to this point it due to George.
TONY GREVE: All credited to them. Universal never got us one radio ad. Never one radio play. Nothing. It’s been George, he’s done everything.
MATT DIRITO: After all this time, people at Universal didn’t even know we were signed to their label. So the people that were supposed to be working us to the radio didn’t even know we were signed to the label.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s messed up. So it’s very good that the band has moved on to a different, and better, label. It sounds like they are going to take you where you need to go just from what they’ve already started to show to you guys. Along with G & G. And are the new label and G & G married together to making POP EVIL what it needs to be in the future?
TONY GREVE: G & G are in the thick of it.
MATT DIRITO: They’re in the trenches taking grenades right now.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, they are.
AWAY-TEAM: As a fan, I really want to see you guys rise to the level of Motley Crue, Poison, Guns & Roses. I really want to see POP EVIL do arenas. On your own, headling. Not opening for anyone.
TONY GREVE: We’re trying.
MATT DIRITO: That would be bad ass!
TONY GREVE: Maybe some day. Right? We’ll just keep pushing this f’in train forward.
AWAY-TEAM: So, the order of the tracks from War Of Angels, do they have a progression of a story or are you trying to say something with the way they flow?
MATT DIRITO: We tried to set it up that way. I think the goal was to really do sort of a theme album. And I think we are close to it. That’s just my opinion. So when I think of theme albums I think of Pink Floyd, The Wall.
TONY GREVE: Or Dark Side Of The Moon.
MATT DIRITO: It literally tells a story, from start to finish. It’s like you can see a movie happening in your head. I don’t think ours is that crystal clear but it really does show a lot of what we’ve been through in the past few years as far as the transition from doing this part time, having day jobs, to where we are at now. Getting used to touring and being on the road. And how people respond to you and react to you. Dealing with management and other bands, just everything that comes along with it. So I really do think it tells the story of all that and we did try to put it in order that way. It is interrupted in a few spots with a song that might be about getting a broken heart, somewhere in the middle of that. Sorta like you wouldn’t really know how it relates to us unless you sat down with us and went through it song by song, I guess.
AWAY-TEAM: Which one is the broken heart song? I don’t want to guess and be wrong.
MATT DIRITO: You can guess. That’s actually what’s cool about it. A lot of these songs can be taken in so many different ways. Like our next single, Monster You Made, to us, and to me personally, is a song about how our skin has become thick by being on the road, working with the record labels, and how the industry is. And about how it’s a horrible time to try and be breaking into this industry. It’s kinda changed us. I think people always change. If you’re not changing you’re not growing and becoming better. If you’re just staying the same, it’s just not good.
AWAY-TEAM: Did POP EVIL pull for these songs on War Of Angels, any influences
you may have from bands of the 80’s? It seems to me like a lot of flavor there from 80’s bands.
TONY GREVE: One of the coolest things is that, for me, music that has influenced me from the 80’s have been Slash, and many of those guitar players. I’m really not influenced by anything modern so the way I play would naturally come off that way. Slash and Dimebag…
MATT DIRITO: YEAH! Tony and I kinda grew up on that music. We grew up on Queen.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, Queen, Zak Wilde, Randy Rhoads and others. That stuff just has rock and roll heart and soul.
MATT DIRITO: Tony and I are the youngest guys in the band but we’re probably the most 80’s influenced.
TONY GREVE: Kinda funny how that works out. We are pretty much the same age.
MATT DIRITO: We’re twins, separated by 3 minutes or so.
TONY GREVE: Yeah. Three minutes apart.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs). So, ha ha, if you are ‘twins’, how much do you find yourselves being alike and thinking alike?
TONY GREVE: I just look at him and I already know what he’s thinking.
AWAY-TEAM: You’ve been together that long that you can do it?
TONY GREVE: I can just tell by his face and be like… Yeah, me too!
MATT DIRITO: Oh yeah!
TONY GREVE: We don’t even have to discuss what it is. I just say, yeah, I feel the same way.
MATT DIRITO: It’s true, that actually does happen. It really is true.
AWAY-TEAM: Is there anything else you guys want to tell the fans, tell me. Anything else you want to be know about this tour and War Of Angels?
TONY GREVE: Yeah. We want to thank the fans for everything, ya know. We really appreciate everything they’ve done and been through with us and for supporting us. We always, always want to thank the fans. Without them there is no band, no show. None of this even matters without them. We wouldn’t even be having this interview right now.
AWAY-TEAM: You are so right.
TONY GREVE: So thank them, God bless them for everything. For this opportunity to do this. To be able to write and perform this music that we love so much. And sharing it with all of them means everything to us.
AWAY-TEAM: With War Of Angels, I really think POP EVIL is going to hit gold with this. It is so awesome from what I’ve heard so far.
TONY GREVE: I just want to move the fans. From in here (clutching chest). Ya know.
AWAY-TEAM: Like you said, it talks to everyone differently. Everyone has a different situation. But yet everyone can relate to the songs in their own special way. One song, different meanings to everyone.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, exactly. That’s what is so cool about it.
MATT DIRITO: It’s like my favorite albums that I listen to. If they get too specific on something it’s like you can’t always relate to it. But the songs that really hit home are the ones that are open to where you can apply it to your own life. They may have not be written like that but it’s how they are used. It’s how the meanings are taken from it.
AWAY-TEAM: Tony, you started Purple, right?
TONY GREVE: Yeah. It started with a friend of mine. We both got matching flower tattoos on our shoulders that are purple so I started writing it about that. Then Leigh took it to a whole new level with a new mindset, new mindframe.
AWAY-TEAM: And all of you contribute to every song?
MATT DIRITO: Not all the time. Sometimes it might be more Tony, sometimes more me.
TONY GREVE: It’s always different.
AWAY-TEAM: But everyone is comfortable where everyone else is with sharing of things.
MATT DIRITO: Yeah, we work on it.
TONY GREVE: It has to come to an agreement at the end of it.
MATT DIRITO: We all just want to have the best songs for our band and to move it forward with that. So it’s not really an issue.
AWAY-TEAM: Well guys. I think that is about it. I want to thank you for your time tonight. Away-Team is grateful for this opportunity to speak with you both. And I look forward to see you again soon in the near future.
TONY GREVE: Yeah, Marcy, it’s been fun. A blast!
MATT DIRITO: Sure. We’re glad you were here.
Check out all that is going on with POP EVIL at their site: http://www.popevil.com
Also check these sites:
And for really cool stuff: www.evil-nation.com
YouTube videos you should check out:
For War Of Angels Last Man Standing: http://youtu.be/4YB6H5q_gyU
Teaser Video for War Of Angels: http://youtu.be/2Ptq4jMH5OM
For Lipstick On The Mirror 100 in a 55: http://youtu.be/DcfmwfY2GOE
Take it from me, you MUST go see these guys if you haven’t already. If you have seen them, you MUST see them again. They just keep getting better and better. And on June 28 be sure to get your own copy of War Of Angels through your favorite retailer or on Amazon or iTunes. This new album will kick your ass!
Special thanks to Tony Greve and Matt DiRito for taking the time to speak with me, and to George Cappellini at G & G Entertainment and Chris Iteen, Tour Manager, for helping to make it happen. It was a great pleasure and a thrill to do this interview.
My first introduction to Egypt Central came in the form of “Taking You Down”, off of their long awaited self-titled debut. I was immediately entranced by the strong vocal presence and riff heavy melodies, accompanied by a stellar rhythm section that was well worth the five year wait for the album’s release. John Falls and company showed an impressive musical cohesion, that would be sure to set them on the path to greatness. Fast forward three years later, the band’s sophomore effort lands on my desk and prompts me to write my most enthusiastic proclamation of greatness ever. White Rabbit is a cover to cover musical masterpiece of biblical proportions. So it should come as no surprise that I instantaneously requested the chance to get inside of the minds behind the album. Fasten your seatbelt, and keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times, as we dive down the hole with Egypt Central’s fearless leader and immerse ourselves in the twisted world of the White Rabbit…
AWAY-TEAM: First and foremost, congratulations, you really nailed it with this album. I think I was most impressed by the fact that, usually on a great album you’ll find one or two songs that you can sort of live without, on White Rabbit there is really no weak spots. I very rarely give out perfect scores when I review an album, but congratulations you guys earned it.
JOHN FALLS: Thank you very much man, we read your review and it was amazing! And flattering to say the least dude. I mean your writing is unbelievable man, the way that you tied everything together, and lead it through and made it just like a story is so similar to the way that we try to do things for the fans. It just makes it all makes sense. I was just blown away, Joey and I were reading your review as we left Memphis the other day, and thank you very much man! It was awesome to see an earnest response like that from someone who listened to the record and they got it, ya know. (Read said review here )
AWAY-TEAM: Well thank you, I appreciate that. There’s actually more than meets the eye to the title of this album. Explain that to me, what exactly is the White Rabbit?
JOHN FALLS: Well, the White Rabbit represents one side, it’s like the White Rabbit becomes this army of whatever is the black cloud that’s been over the band. This character Fatty Arbuckle is at the helm, and just constantly trying to manipulate, maneuver, and control the band. And our lives. We just went through that so many times, and it’s almost like people see you and see what you’re doing, and they attach themselves to it. Ya know, that’s what this industry does to you. If people see something that they think they can make money off of, and ultimately if people think that they can’t make money off of you they won’t take a chance at what you’re doing. So it’s kinda like six in one hand, a half dozen in the other. You get some people that just kinda try to keep a blanket over you, and keep you all to themselves, for fear that they don’t bring enough to the table to get you to the next level I think. I feel like people won’t stop at anything, ya know, they’ll go to the furthest length to put this wall up around you, and paint this fake world of everything’s kosher, and everything’s great, everything’s going as it should, but in reality nothing is as it seems. It really is our awakening that we’re talking about on this record, as well as any other life lessons, and tragedy, and just ups and downs that we went through in between the first record and the second. But going back to the story of the White Rabbit, when we first wrote the song it was a song about a specific scenario, and specific people, we were getting it off our chests, ya know. All the other conceptual things that attach to the song to go further in depth to actually tell the fans the story came when we started saying ‘Man, we can do some other stuff, other than just music on this record, to really bring it to life. We can do this comic book, and tell this story in depth, but give it an obvious elaborate twist to make it a fun read, like a comic book.’ We’ve all been fans of comic books and things like that, growing up. We’re way into movies and stuff, so we wanted to take the opportunity to show some other creative sides of the band, and attach that to this record. So we’re working on that diligently, around the clock. The fans will be getting four panels in the record, when they buy the record, but there’s also another eight panels as well that Joey also did with a little bit of a story. A little bit of a poetic rundown, from the birth of Fatty Arbuckle to when the band encounters this evil character. We’re gonna start debuting those in a couple of days, on a twleve day countdown to the release of the record.
AWAY-TEAM: That should be pretty cool. I think you kinda touched on this already, but, the record is sort of a concept album, but not in the traditional aspect, were the songs written prior to the concept? Or were they written specifically with the White Rabbit concept in mind?
JOHN FALLS: No, no, that’s the thing… I don’t wanna say that we’d never do a concept album, but the music is the music. It has to be real, it has to be something that you’ve lived, and that’s what makes it relatable. That’s what makes it honest to the fans, and what makes it honest for yourself. First and foremost, you have to be honest with yourself, and get things off your chest. You have to bring things that are in the basement out, and that’s what’s great about music, is that it’s kind of a self therapy session when you’re able to just express yourself like that. So the music was done. It wasn’t until after the record was done that we decided to start playing with some ideas that were concepts. The concepts have nothing to do with the writing of the music. We found a cool way after the record was done, to go back and tie it all together. Cuz, ya know in the writing of it, we basically were just going back and telling the stories of things that happened over the last couple of years from when we released the first record to when we began recording this one. So naturally, there being stories there, it was easy to go back and put together a storyline that connected song to song.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, it’s art imitating life.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, it was all lived in that gap.
AWAY-TEAM: Back to the comic book, is it a little weird the first time you see yourself drawn in comic book form?
JOHN FALLS: Yes and no. It’s actually really cool, cuz I was way into comics growing up. And Joey’s drawn the band before in a couple of different ways, so it’s always been… ya know, the first couple of times I was like ‘Holy crap! Look at me’ (laughs) But in this sense, it’s telling a story where we actually go from what we are in the storyline, to what we actually have the potential to be, and taking on that role of the uncommon superhero is really cool man. And we’ve found a way to connect it to some neat stuff. I think people are gonna really enjoy it. We actually are picking up our new merch guy today, who’s one of our best friends for many years, and he’s been Joey’s best friend for a long time. He’s also an artist, he did the album artwork for the first record, he and Joey did. So we’re gonna have him out here as well working on this thing, so we got the green light to go ahead after we finished these panels this last month, to start working on the full length comic, or graphic novel, or however it comes out in the end. So we’re willing to push it as far as fans go. If it comes out and fans are liking it alot, and it really goes that far, who know’s, the sky’s the limit with how far we take it.
AWAY-TEAM: Well I can’t wait to see it. One of my favorite tracks off the album is “Down in Flames”, which is sort of a call to arms to an entire generation. What was the inspiration behind that song?
JOHN FALLS: Well, I mean, you said it right there. It’s one of those things that, we live in the world, I mean we consider ourselves to live in one part of the world, but humanity as a whole. With everything that’s been going on in the world, with natural disasters, and wars, the economy… everything, all the issues that we have as a race, needs to be addressed. The only way it’s gonna be addressed, is if we all come together and decide to (pauses)
AWAY-TEAM and JOHN FALLS simultaneously: Wake up.
JOHN FALLS: …and truly try to change what’s been going on in the world. Because no one’s gonna do it for us. As long as we continue to keep barriers up, and we continue to get distracted by, ‘Oh hey, let’s watch prime time TV, because this is cool, this is entertaining let’s forget about the fact that we have people dying all over the world. Let’s see who’s gonna be the next American Idol’! Ya know, ‘Let’s see what’s going on with Charlie Sheen and Two and a Half Men’
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, we’re not focusing on the real problems.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah. Ya know, one thing covers another. I mean, we’re not political, we’re not gonna talk about politics, or religion, or anything like that because that’s to each his own. I don’t think that that’s something that we would choose to take on, with our music or our opinion. I feel like that’s exactly what it is, and everyone’s entitled to their own. I will say that when you have tragedy, there’s no good that can come out of people killing one another. And that gets covered up by another scenario, and you have the thing in Japan, and then that gets covered up by something that happens here. Then you got Alabama, and that covers up Osama Bin Laden. Whatever’s the hot new thing, it covers up another issue, and we stop addressing the things. We get distracted so easily by what we’re being fed in media, that we have to take the extra time to stay involved with what’s going on on our planet! And try to work together, and it truly is a wake-up call that the next generation that’s coming up is gonna have a whole seperate set of issues than what anyone in the history of this world has ever had to deal with. We’re trying to do our little part to make sure that maybe we get a few of them to smell the coffee, and get out of bed. (laughs) And start working towards a better future.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) You’ve enlisted the services of mega producer Skidd Mills to produce this album, which I found to be really evident in a song like “Backfire”. Other artists that I’ve spoken to that have worked with him have told me that he is a pretty passionate hands-on type of producer. What kind of suggestions did he bring to the table to help make this thing the monster that it is?
JOHN FALLS: He had tons of input on it. I mean he was there for the whole thing, which is what made it awesome. That’s why we went with Skidd, is that we wanted someone who would really get in there and be a part of it, who would believe in the band and see where the band could potentially be if someone really got in there and put in the work that we were putting in. From everything to co-writes, to ideas of us playing with different sounds. It was just going the extra mile to make this record what it had the potential to be. He didn’t fall short on anything. He didn’t take any shortcuts of any kind. He put himself into the record as much as we did, and through that truly became our brother in arms on this thing. He’s an awesome human being, outside of being our producer, and our friend, he is a great family man. We all have that in common with him, so there’s alot of passion on here that you can feel from him, and from us. Even if you listen to the mixes, you can tell that he was in there just rocking out the whole time.
AWAY-TEAM: Well you guys certainly make a great team.
JOHN FALLS: I think so also. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: I had read that you were influenced by a pretty unlikely source in Garth Brooks. Who were some of your biggest influences growing up, and when did you first realize you wanted to be a singer?
JOHN FALLS: I don’t know, I’ve always liked music growing up, and I’ve listened to alot of different things. Not so much even rock, but it wasn’t until… I mean I always liked singing in the car, I’ve just always had a passion for music as long as I’ve been alive. It wasn’t until though, I was riding around in a car with Josey Scott from Saliva, and we were just jamming out listening to some tunes, and he was like ‘Man you really gotta start a band, ya know things are taking off for me, and I’ll help you in any way I can. I just think you have a really cool voice, and I think people will like it.’ And I was like ‘Aww,Shut up dude! Don’t play like that man! I don’t even know anything about music. I don’t know how to play an instrument!’ I think I played trombone for a little bit in junior high. I was like ‘No man!’ (laughs)
JOHN FALLS: I was like ‘I don’t know about all of that man. I’m not you…’ He said ‘No man, you really should. I think you could bring something to the table’ Then a couple weeks later we were riding around in a car with a friend, and it was Josey, and I, and a mutual friend of ours, and he just kept going ‘You need to hear John sing. You need to hear him sing’ He kept pressuring me, so we sang a couple of songs and stuff like that. Then after that I thought maybe it’s not such a terrible idea. Then we were hanging out and I met some of the guys that were eventually gonna be in the band through that, and I was like ‘You know what I’m just gonna swing for the fences, and give it a try. Make a complete career change, and give it a shot’ And then when I hooked up with Blake, and Blake brought Joey to the table, I was like ‘OK I got my musical mastermind in Blake, I’ve got my lyricist that could write about friggin’… a frog on the wall.’
JOHN FALLS: I mean he can write about anything. He just has a gift for it. It’s just unbelievable to watch. What’s awesome is that at the same time that he can do that, he’s also open to anybody’s ideas, and everyone writing. On the first record we did tons of collaborating, everyone in this band is such a team player, it’s not like ‘Hey this is what I do…‘ At the same time you know that certain people have an expertise, so people also stay out of each other’s way, and let someone run with it when they’re just on fire. We’re all truly brothers. We’ve played together, lived together for almost ten years and so we’re all sort of like family. We’re not one of those bands where the singer found the guitar player, and they got a record deal. We are a real band that started from the ground up, in a hole in the wall room in Memphis, TN and just did everything together. Grew up together, learned about life together, fought with one another. We’ve been through it all, and we really are a family who’s out here doing this together.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys were originally signed to Lava Records back in 2003, but ran into some issues with the label and the album didn’t see the light of day until 2008. I had spoken with Sean from Smile Empty Soul, who had the same thing happen to them when they were signed to Lava, the only difference is that they had already put out an album prior to that. Being your first album, and having such a terrible experience with it, how did you perservere and keep focus for all those years? Did you ever consider just giving up?
JOHN FALLS: Well I think that there’s days, naturally, when you’re faced with something like that, that you look at yourself in the mirror and kinda start to question, but. There’s two kinds of people in the world, there’s the kind that when you tell them they can’t they believe that they can’t, and there’s people that when you tell them they can’t it pisses them off and they’re like ‘I can!’ We’re all fighters in the sense that we don’t give up, ever. Which has raised some crazy, early, youthful arguments and events. (laughs) Cuz we all have that fire in us, none of us are scared to take life on head first and no matter what it throws at us we take it, and just keep going. We always believed in the music, so no matter how many doors got slammed in our face, no matter what the misfortune was, or what got in our way, it was never ‘Ya know what? Let’s just give up’ People were like ‘Change the band name, write a new record, do this do that’ It was always like ‘You know what dude…Kiss my ass!’ That’s just how we felt. No matter what you say or do, this is our music! We made this! And as long as fans keep coming up to us and telling us things like ‘This song helped me out at a time when I was suicidal. It saved my life.’ Or ‘This song helped me get through my divorce. This song helped me when I was at a low point.’ Or ‘This song gets me pumped up when I’m having a bad day.’ As long as it’s affecting people’s lives… if we were changing ten people’s lives who had been in the dark places that we had been in, we were willing to keep fighting. For them. Because we have the ability, and we are blessed to be able to make music and do it for a living, and other people can’t always express themselves that way. So we always just kinda felt that kinship with the fan, that ‘You know what? We’ll say it for you. And we’ll keep fighting, as long as you keep believing.’
AWAY-TEAM: I know you guys, and Joey in particular, are constantly listening to new music when you’re out on the road. When you’re in the songwriting process, do you find it hard to keep present day influences out of your songwriting so as not to sound like everyone else? Or is it something that is welcomed?
JOHN FALLS: Well, I think when we go into the studio, and we’re writing, and we’re recording, we shut the whole world out basically. There’s nothing that exists except Egypt Central. So when we’re in that mode, we’re writing, and we’re listening back, and we’re taking what we recorded that day home and we’re working on it. We’re constantly doing it that way, and not listening to the radio, not necessarily to block it out or anything, but it’s that we’re so obsessed with what we’re doing and making our music the best that it can be. So I think that through the process there’s just not enough time because we’re so focused on our stuff. When we come out we just go right back to listening to what’s out there.
AWAY-TEAM: Well it shows man. Speaking of being out on the road, you guys recently had some trouble with your RV, and ended up having to cancel a few shows because of it…
JOHN FALLS: Man, you did your homework homey!
AWAY-TEAM: Well you know… (both laugh) You now have a brand new tour bus, a pretty nice one I might add, and you’re planning on having all of your fans sign it. Tell me about that, how is that gonna work?
JOHN FALLS: Well, we’re gonna pull in, park it, grab your Sharpie and write something awesome and sign your name!
AWAY-TEAM: That’s really cool!
JOHN FALLS: We wanted to do something for the fans that would be a unique experience. Something that they probably never have seen before, or had an opportunity to do. Ya know, we sign stuff for them any time they want us to, but it’s like you can leave your mark and say ‘I was there.‘ Then when we’re done with this leg, and this bus, we’re gonna take tons of pictures of it, and then it’s probably gonna cost us alot of money to have this thing repainted. But hey, it’s fun for us and the fans, and ya know, alot of bands say ‘It’s all about the fans. It’s all about the fans. It’s all about the fans.’ Yeah well that’s because your publicist told you to say that. For us it really is about the fans, because we were cutting up Big n’ Tasty’s four ways just to feed ourselves. We were splitting hot dogs, one bite apiece for six-seven years just to keep doing this, and the only thing that kept us going was the fans. For us it really is about the people that believe in us and we believe in them. So it’s all about us connecting and coming together as one movement to get the music out. And they work with us on that, they’re proud, and that’s the one thing that’s really cool about the die hard Egypt Central fans. They’re proud to be Egypt Central fans, they’re proud to show you what they call “Their Band’s music” and it’s awesome for people to call us “Their Band”. It’s not just flattering to us, but it also let’s us know that we have this huge clique of people that are our people, and see the world the way that we do.
AWAY-TEAM: I think that’s one of the coolest gifts you can give back to the fans, because yeah it’s cool to say ‘I got my picture taken with John Falls.’ but to say ‘I actually signed their tour bus.’ That’s pretty cool.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, it’s different. I mean normally if you walk up and sign someone’s tour bus, you’re looking at some jail time. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah…
JOHN FALLS: But with this, we want everyone to come and have fun with it, ya know. Don’t do anything so stupid that we have to cover it up, because just remember there are fans that are underage. Don’t put anything that’s too inappropriate. Have fun with it, but at the same time, keep in mind we gotta take care of the little people out there too, okay.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) The band takes their name from a street in your hometown of Memphis, have you been back to Memphis recently to see the effects of the recent flooding? Are there any plans for Egypt Central to put on any kind of a benefit concert to help the victims?
JOHN FALLS: We actually just spent some time in Memphis. We actually limped into our hometown with the RV, to play Memphis in May, and then it just crapped out completely. So we put it in the shop and they didn’t have a high enough turn around to get it back on the road to make it to Florida to do the last couple shows on the tour. So we were just stuck at home, which is nice because you get to see your family, but we were gonna get about a week off anyway after the Florida dates. So it kinda sucked, but we’re gonna make that up and get down to Florida. We love our fans there, and we’re gonna get back down there and make that up. It was crazy though, they were talking about cancelling it (Memphis in May), the RV was parked on the path down at Tom Lee Park and the river was coming up into the grass, almost hitting us that day. It was on watch all day, it could’ve come up another foot at any time, and if so it would’ve just flooded. With all that electric stuff, it would’ve been a bad day for everyone. Fortunately we got through Music Fest OK, and over the next couple of days at home downtown just got reamed, and not just downtown there are so many areas that are underwater. It’s a tragedy, not just for Memphis, but everyone that’s been affected by the Mississippi River. Zach Myers from Shinedown is from our hometown as well, and has been a long time friend…
AWAY-TEAM: He’s a great guy!
JOHN FALLS: Yeah! He’s currently trying to put together a benefit right now, which we’re hoping that our schedule is going to allow us the time to get back home to do. We’re working on that right now, trying to squeeze it in for the date that he’s looking at. But whether or not we’re able to do that, we’re gonna set up to take some type of donations where 100% of the proceeds will go to the flood victims in Memphis. It’s definitely a blue collar town, and there’s not alot of things set up to help with this. So we’re gonna definitely do our part to try to bring some relief to the people that are in need right now.
AWAY-TEAM: I love to see artists do things like that.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, at the same time it’s one of those things where we want people to know that we’re gonna do what we’ve gotta do for our hometown, at the same time if you guys need us in Alabama just pick up the phone and call. We understand what they’re going through as well, and it’s unbelievably tragic. I can’t even find the words to imagine what they’re going through, and I just don’t want people to forget that Alabama, alot of it was just left in ruins, and alot of lives were lost over this. We have alot of issues that are going on right now that we have to come together and help out with. So it’s gonna take everyone working together to make that happen. Not to go back to it, but we just have to remember that there are a ridiculous amount of people in Japan right now, who when we had Hurricane Katrina come down on us, bent over backwards to try to help us. We need to continue to try to focus on them right now, and keep helping them out.
AWAY-TEAM: It goes back to what you said before, one thing makes you forget the other.
JOHN FALLS: Yeah, let’s not let the blanket cover up the people that need to be helped man, ya know. Let the politicians take care of the political stuff, and let the other things just filter themselves out. Let’s work on what we can work on together. It’s one of those things, I know everyone’s broke right now, the economy sucks, but if you’ve got that extra five dollars that you were gonna spend to rent a movie tonight, take that extra five dollars and send it to somewhere good. I know people go ‘Oh it’s five dollars, how can it help?’ Your five dollars by itself can’t help, but go and tell your friends to give five dollars because if you do that, and the entire country can do that, we can alleviate alot of the issues.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh dude, I know that first hand. I actually have some business relations in Tuscaloosa, one of which lost her entire house, and we were part of a big drive to aid them, and you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that was being donated. I mean brand new chainsaws still in the box, hundreds of dollars worth of goods from single donors. It was unreal to see how people come together in a time of need like that.
JOHN FALLS: That’s the thing, is that what’s amazing about our country is that we band together like no other during a time of need. The problem is that there’s so many needs right now, that we don’t need to forget about any of them. They’re all important, and we just need to attack it man. We need to attack it with extreme prejudice and help these people out.
AWAY-TEAM: The Grand Ole’ Opry sustained some pretty bad damage with the flooding in Nashville last year, do you know how safe places like Graceland and Beale St. are from the current disaster?
JOHN FALLS: It seems like everything, I mean barring a tragedy like a levee breaking, it seems like we’ve gotten out of the fear zone. When I left, that was a couple days ago now, I had gotten word that they’re worried about it continuing to rise at this point. I think that their fear is that if it rises above the level of the levee, what could happen is it could topple. I’m not really sure because I don’t claim to be an expert on that, I’m really pretty ignorant on the matter, I don’t really understand what the dangers really are, and what you would do to prevent it at this point. But, I know that they’re taking every precaution they can to make it as safe as possible. The thing is that, downtown kinda sets up on a bluff, so if it came up over that and then went down, I can’t even imagine what the damage would be. But it’s some of the other low lying areas that aren’t up on the bluff that are being affected. I mean the casinos bring so much business to the area, and them just being shut down, and the damage. I mean, I saw a picture before I left where it had a sign that was like 7 feet or something like that, it was one of those PVC bars that designate height clearance in the parking garage, and it was floating up, like feet above. So far as I know, I read a statement that they made in Memphis, I can’t remember who made it, but he was like Graceland is safe. He said something about like running into hell, or he would do something crazy like that to save Graceland. It’s a huge tourist thing, not just for our city, but for music fans around the world. It’s something that I think people would lay down in the streets to keep safe. They would hold themselves together like sandbags to keep water out of Graceland. I mean it’s the second most visited house in the world, I didn’t know that, but it’s second only behind the White House. It has alot of value in that Elvis, even still to this day keeps people believing in music, especially rock music, and I for one thank him for all of his contributions in life and in death still to this day. Keeping the faith alive.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh dude, I’m a huge Elvis fan. I know where you’re coming from.
JOHN FALLS: Me too dude.
AWAY-TEAM: Alright man, I know your answer about who’s gonna win, but Game 7 today, Grizz by how many?
JOHN FALLS: Actually, I think it’s gonna be a tough game, it’s gonna be a very physical game. They’re both very young teams, but I think that we have a veteran leader in Zach Randolph, and we have a guy whose heart is bigger than the city of Memphis in a guy like Tony Allen, and in Shane Battier. I think that they’re carrying the weight of the city of Memphis. Memphis has just gone through so many things over the last couple of years, in the last decade even, that through their success they’re making Memphis believe. Everywhere you turn there’s a Grizzlies sign that says ‘Believe Memphis’, and it’s got Memphis believing in itself again that we can take our city back to where it once was. I feel that they now know that they’re carrying that weight, and that’s something that when you go into a ten round heavyweight championship fight like what’s gonna go on today, they have a passion going into it that’s not about winning a championship, it’s not about just playing to win. They’re carrying such a heavy load that I feel like these guys are gonna get out there, and they’re just gonna deliver for four quarters, and I think they’re gonna have a huge victory tonight. I couldn’t speculate as to how they’re gonna do it, and in what form, but that’s what’s great about us. We’re a blue collar town, with a blue collar team. We don’t depend on one or two players to get it done, they depend on one another, and for me that’s what makes me love the team even more. I feel like they’ve gone through their adversities the same as Egypt Central has, and they better hope that my set time is not during that game tonight, because we may be missing a show. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Well I’m pulling for the Grizz too, now that my Celtics are out, so we’ll see how it goes.
JOHN FALLS: Awesome. Go Grizz Baby!
AWAY-TEAM: John, thank you for your time. I really appreciate the kind words too.
JOHN FALLS: It was awesome man. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I’m glad that you connected with it the same way that we have. We listen to it the same ourselves, so thanks.
AWAY-TEAM: Good talking to you. We’ll have to make sure to get together when you get down to Florida.
JOHN FALLS: Oh yeah we’ll definitely have to hang. We’ll do lunch or dinner or something. I’ll be in touch.
AWAY-TEAM: Talk to you soon brother.
JOHN FALLS: Bye.
White Rabbit hits stores May 31st. For more info on Egypt Central, including tour dates and to pre-order the album, visit www.egyptcentral.com
Special thanks go out to John Falls for so graciously giving me his time, and to Amanda Cagan at ABC PR for making it all happen.
Bowling For Soup first graced our eardrums back in 1994 with their eponymous debut album, seventeen years and several hits later the boys are back. This time around they deliver what is perhaps their best work yet with Fishin For Woos, the band’s first studio album in two years, and more importantly their first sans label. Being the humble superstars that they are, it was no surprise to me that bassist and founding member Erik Chandler took time out of his busy schedule, on the day of one of his band’s proudest moments, to chat with me about everything from “Fishin’” to Phineas and Ferb to football. So sit back, grab a cold one, and enjoy…
AWAY-TEAM: Congratulations on the release of Fishin’ For Woos, which hits stores today. I actually had a chance to listen to it, and was very impressed.
ERIK CHANDLER: Thank you so much man, ya know we’re really excited about it, really happy with the way it turned out. This one kinda… ended up being greater than the sum of it’s parts. Because we actually, for the first time in a while, didn’t have the opportunity to overthink anything, and so it just kinda is what it is, and it turned out really well.
AWAY-TEAM: Now, Fishin’ For Woos is an interesting name, and you guys have always been known for being a little comical, where did that name come from?
ERIK CHANDLER: It’s actually just kind of an inside joke with the band… there’s some things that bands will say from the stage that are designed to elicit a certain response from the audience. One night on stage, something was said, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it got one of those ya know crowd wide screams, and Jaret walks up to the mic and says “OK, well I wasn’t fishin’ for woos, but I’ll take ‘em” So from that night on, that became a running joke for us, that we’re going fishing for woos.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) On this album there’s alot of songs, such as the first single “S-S-S-Saturday” and “Here’s Your Freakin’ Song” which scream classic BFS. But then you have your softer side coming out in songs like “Turbulence” and “Guard My Heart”, the latter of which you, yourself actually wrote 14 years ago for a movie. What went into the decision to finally include that song on an album after so many years?
ERIK CHANDLER: I wrote that song and it wasn’t… especially 14 years ago, there was no way we could’ve included that song on a Bowling For Soup record. At that point we weren’t really putting non-high octane rockers on our albums. We had gotten approached to do a song for this independent film called Sardines that actually never really did anything, and ya know we went in the studio and did a really quick version of it, and we were never really happy with it so we didn’t ever release it or put it out to where people could get it. But Jaret and I did the song at a couple of acoustic shows, and some fan videos started leaking out around the internet, especially here amongst our street team. Word of it kinda spread and it was, ya know the “secret song” that wasn’t ever recorded, but here’s a little bit of evidence of it’s existence. So people, for years now, have been asking us to play it at shows and we never really played it as a full band. And then, just because the fan response to this “non-existent” song was so great, we finally decided to give it to the hard core folks, ya know. So that was more of a gift to our street teamers.
AWAY-TEAM: Now this is your first album without a label, being now free of the label and being able to call your own shots, what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but never have been able to, but now that you have the freedom, you plan to do?
ERIK CHANDLER: We did it! The first thing, when we were finally free and clear of the whole Jive Records contract, immediately the first thought was ‘We’ve gotta get into the studio and make an album, like right now!’ And for the very first time ever, there was zero input from outside the band. It was all us. Our managers… one of our managers came by the studio while we were in the recording process, but he didn’t even go in the control room, didn’t even listen to anything that we were doing, and it was so awesome not to have that. Ya know, people from record labels come around, and these are business people, they’re not musicians and all of a sudden they start trying to throw their two cents into the studio process and the creative process, and when they’re in positions of authority you kinda feel an obligation to appease them. When it comes down to mix time and everything, everybody’s got an opinion, and for the first time this was all band. The only input that was there was us, and the producer, and I think that honestly speaks to why we love the album so much.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s gotta be a great feeling, after so many years being pushed in different directions.
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah, ya know, I mean I was saying this earlier today, but you spend a certain amount of your career attempting to get into certain situations, like label contracts and what-not, and then you immediately spend the next portion of your career trying to get out of those relationships to get back to work for yourself. (laughing) And it’s great because, we actually have a record label in place, it’s just we get to be in charge of it now, it’s not like we’re running down to the Kinko’s and making the CD jacket copies ourselves, and what-not. There’s actually a record label there, and real distribution and everything, it’s just we get to be in charge now, and we’re the be all end all, and get the final say in everything.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have been involved with the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb, which my daughter and I love, how did that come about? And what was the initial reaction when the opportunity arose?
ERIK CHANDLER: The guys who created that show worked together on The Simpson’s, and evidentally in the Writer’s Room at The Simpson’s, I don’t know if it still happens now, but back then they liked to play Bowling For Soup in the Writer’s Room. Fast forward down the road, they’re doing this cartoon, and they had the 30 second theme song written, and they wanted to turn it into a 3 1/2 minute kinda radio single song, and we were the band that they wanted to do it. So they actually sought us out and asked us if we would be interested, and the took Jaret and flew him to L.A. and showed him some of the unfinished first few episodes. He came back and said “You know what, I think this cartoon is gonna do really well. It seems really funny. Let’s do it.” We jumped in the studio, and two days later sent them back their song and they loved it. That afforded us the opportunity to do a few more songs for the cartoon, and they animated Bowling For Soup into an episode. It’s really cool, alot of fun working with those guys, good folks too.
AWAY-TEAM: I did see that they are actually coming out with a full length movie. Are there any plans to include you guys in that as well?
ERIK CHANDLER: Jaret has written, at least one song for the movie, and I don’t know as of yet if we will be recording it, or if someone else will be recording it. But he will be involved, at least in that part of it.
AWAY-TEAM: One of your biggest hits was the song “1985″, which you wrote with Mitch and John Allen, who are friends of the site. If you could go back in time and could’ve written and performed any song from that era, what would it be?
ERIK CHANDLER: Oh wow!…from that era…hmmm. You’re actually throwing me for a loop here. How about Alex Chilton from The Replacements.
AWAY-TEAM: Wow, interesting choice!
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah that’s that era-ish. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: So, obviously you guys still live in Denton, TX, and sort of pride yourselves on being just regular guys. After nearly 20 years of fame, in which you’ve stayed grounded and stayed in your hometown, do you still get around town swarming you for pictures and autographs? Or do they kinda get it and say “Yeah that’s Erik, he’s just a regular guy with a really cool job“?
ERIK CHANDLER: In Denton, that never happens! It rarely ever happens, because that’s the attitude around there. It’s like, everybody’s a musician, some people happen to be doing it on different levels than others. So it’s no big deal, all people are in the music scene, you know who drinks at what bar. You know who you’re going to find at what restaurant on Tuesday nights, because that’s where they go every Tuesday night. It’s a small town, and a pretty close community, as far as the music scene goes. When you move a little further south, like down into the Dallas area, that’s when stuff like that starts happening. Ya know, the staff at a restaurant wants to all at one time come and get a group picture. Which is really cool, but at the same time everybody else in the restaurant wonders why all the service has stopped, and everybody is standing around your table. It’s like “Who are those guys?” that everybody’s over getting their picture taken. That can be a little bit weird at times, but it’s a really cool problem to have.
AWAY-TEAM: I think it’s cool that you can go home and maintain a bit of normalcy as well.
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: You and Jaret both have other bands that you’re involved with as well. So when you’re going through the songwriting process, do you ever find yourself struggling with whether a particular song might be better suited for BFS or The Mulberry St. Socialites?
ERIK CHANDLER: Me, not so much. I can remember one song that was kinda in between from my stuff, and I had written it, and I was really stoked and I had sent it to Jaret, and he’s like “Hey man, this might be a really good Bowling For Soup song” I thought that’s cool, that’s great, let’s wait and see, and when it came down to time to nail down the Bowling For Soup songs, he was like “You know what, why don’t you just keep it for your band.” I was like “OK”, and I wrote for the rest of the year, I guess until November for the album, and the song didn’t even end up making my album. (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: It didn’t make the final cut, it din’t quite fit the vibe of everything else. But I’ve still got it, and we’ve actually discussed possibly putting it on the next Bowling For Soup album, so.
AWAY-TEAM: I was gonna say, it may be another one of those songs you release 14 years later. (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: Right, right. (laughing) The thing with our solo, or extracurricular projects if you will, they’re so different than Bowling For Soup so there’s not really that trouble of which does this go to. Ya know, it’s either a Bowling For Soup song, or it’s for something else.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys have been known for playing some really crazy, off the wall covers over the years. With that being said, how do you feel about Prince’s recent comments, that he doesn’t think that anyone should be able to cover another artists song because it detracts ownership from the original artist? I mean, I have tremendous respect for Prince but I find that slightly hypocritical, given that he covered the Foo Fighters just a couple years ago during the Superbowl. What are your thoughts on that?
ERIK CHANDLER: I think that’s completely… I think that’s just bad all together. I think he’s probably upset that Sinead O’Connor’s version of “Nothing Compares to You” was much bigger than his version of it.
ERIK CHANDLER: It’s really cool to me to hear other people’s interpretations of songs. Especially a situation where somebody can take a song and go completely the opposite direction with it, than how it was originally recorded. It’s like wow, this is awesome, this is a great reimagining of the original idea. But then, if a cover is too close to the original, that doesn’t do much for me. But if you’re able to throw a different spin on it, I think… I mean isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery?
AWAY-TEAM: You hit it right on the head. I mean, to me, I think you’re bringing attention to the artist’s song. So ya know, I may hear a cover, and say “Wow, I haven’t heard that song in a long time!” And guess what I’m doing, I’m going right to iTunes and downloading the original, because I had it on cassette or vinyl! (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: Yeah, yeah! I mean it’s like, I think it’s a cool thing for artists to be able to say “Hey, this song influenced me.” And I’m putting my stamp of approval on whoever it may be!
AWAY-TEAM: Right on! So have you guys ever thought of releasing an entire album of cover songs? And if so what is the one song that MUST be on there?
ERIK CHANDLER: We have discussed it actually. Just because we’ve done so many in the past. Every tour we slave over the fact that “OK we have to come up with something new. We have to come up with something that has never come up in the past, that would be really cool, that no one would ever imagine us doing, but we could make it perfect in the Bowling For Soup style.” So we’ve ended up with just a giant catalog of those. But I can’t think of one that…. uh, ya know what… “Surrender” by Cheap Trick.
AWAY-TEAM: That’d be a cool one!
ERIK CHANDLER: We actually demoed that. We were gonna put it on an album, a couple albums ago, but we weren’t really happy with the way the demo came out. So we kinda scrapped, in our minds we’re not gonna do it, but… that was the very first cover song that we learned to play in June of 1994, and we’ve been playing that song in sound check for 17 years. Every once in a while, when we’re feeling saucy (laughs), we’ll play it at a show. In 17 years, we may have played it at 25 shows, which is not alot in the grand scheme of things.
AWAY-TEAM: Living in Texas, it’s gotta be almost a requirement that you love football, correct?
ERIK CHANDLER: It’s kinda bred into us down here for some reason. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) So what’s you’re opinion on the NFL lockout? I know we just got some encouraging news yesterday, but we’ve got a long way to go. If we don’t have a season for some reason, what do you think America should be tuning into on Sundays? What should they put on TV in football’s place?
ERIK CHANDLER: I think they replace the NFL on all the major networks with that Lingerie Football League. (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: Dude, I knew you were gonna say that! (laughing) When I compsed the question that was the first thing that popped into my mind as a possible answer! (laughs)
ERIK CHANDLER: (laughs) I can’t say honestly that I’ve ever seen one of the games, but I’m fairly certain that the action’s not gonna be quite as good, but that’s a decent replacement as far as I’m concerned.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Agreed. That’s exactly what I would’ve said too.
ERIK CHANDLER: Maybe we can get Vince McMahon to bring back the XFL! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) There you go! Well hey, Erik, it’s been a real pleasure talking to you. Best of luck with the album, and I know you’re kicking off a tour in a couple of days, so again best of luck. Hopefully we’ll get to talk again soon!
ERIK CHANDLER: Right on man! Thanks alot, I appreciate it!
AWAY-TEAM: Take it easy.
ERIK CHANDLER: Bye.
For more info on Bowling For Soup including Tour Dates, and to purchase music, visit http://www.bowlingforsoup.com/main.php
Special thanks go to Erik Chandler for so graciously giving me his time on such an important day in his career, and also to Tim Tatulli at Stache Media/Sony Music for making it all happen.
Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy Osbourne… aside from being iconic figures in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, what do they all have in common? They’ve all had the honor of calling Tommy Clufetos their drummer. Ever since he picked up the drumsticks at the age of seven, Tommy Clufetos has lived and breathed rock ‘n’ roll, doing more in ten years than most people dream of accomplishing in a lifetime. It’s that kind of dedication that has brought him from keeping time for the Motor City Madman to tearing through the Diary of a Madman. Recently I had a chance to speak with Tommy about what it’s like to play with rock royalty, covering everything from the Prince of Darkness to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. So sit back, grab a cold one, and kick up your feet as we delve into the mind of one of rock’s great stickmen….
AWAY-TEAM: I’d like to start by congratulating you on the success of the current tour, and on semi-recently being named the new full time drummer for Ozzy Osbourne.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Thank you.
AWAY-TEAM: You guys are currently touring with Slash as your supporting act, I know you’ve had the chance to play with him before, how did that come to be?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You mean how did it come with me jamming with Slash before?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I was doing this thing with Alice Cooper, not when I was in Alice Cooper’s band, he just asked me to help him out and do this thing called the MAP Fund, which is affiliated with the Grammy’s and it helps those with substance abuse addictions. So we played at this concert, and Slash jammed with Alice when I was playing drums, I think he played “School’s Out” or something. So we played together then, and he just asked me to jam with him a couple times out of that. He’s a total gentleman, Slash, I love his guitar playing. Ya know he’s one of the last guitar hero rock stars out there, so… I can’t say enough about that guy, he’s such a great guy, and great musician.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, he’s legendary!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Right.
AWAY-TEAM: Now I spoke with Gus G. a few months ago, and he hadn’t yet met Slash, and I asked him this very question, but he didn’t have the answer yet. So now it’s time for an update… have you guys played any songs on this tour with both Ozzy and Slash on stage at the same time? I know they played together on Slash’s album.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Ozzy sang on Slash’s album, yeah. But they don’t do that during the concert, because we fly in and out of the shows, so it doesn’t really leave much time for us to… ya know, sometimes we’ll get there when he’s already on stage, and we have to get ready, so. The schedule is quite compact, so I don’t think it technically leaves room to do that. But that would be cool.
AWAY-TEAM: Sure would.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: But the package of Slash and Ozzy together is going over really well, and I think it’s a great thing for fans. Alot of tunes that people are familiar with, and alot of tunes where people go ‘Oh, I forgot about that song’, so it’s a great night of rock ‘n’ roll hits for everybody.
AWAY-TEAM: I think the great part of it, is we haven’t seen something like this in a long time, and I’ve said this before, it kinda brings you back to the days of the old Monsters of Rock tours and things like that.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Yeah. I mean Slash is just an icon, and so is Ozzy, so it makes for a great night for everybody.
AWAY-TEAM: Right. So how did you get the gig with Ozzy? Did you have to audition? Or did they call you and say “Hey, what are you doing? We want you to play with us”? How did that work out?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I was kinda in the right place at the right time. I was brought in to help out during Gus G.’s audition, he came in from Greece, and their drummer at the time couldn’t make it, so I was asked to do it just so Gus could be comfortable and focus on playing guitar… and the music would be solid. So that’s what I came in to do, and then they asked me to play at a thing called Blizzcon in California, which again Mike Bordin, who’s an amazing drummer, could not make due to commitments with Faith No More. They asked me to do that, and out of those couple experiences they asked me to join the band. So I was very lucky, and excited, and so ecstatic to say ‘Yes’.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you left Rob Zombie’s band to take the gig with Ozzy, I understand Rob was a little bitter when you left him. Have you spoken to him since, and managed to salvage your friendship?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I have not spoken to him. But I have nothing but great things to say about Rob and my time spent there, and ya know I base our relationship on what I saw when I was there and I have nothing but great things to say about that. I wouldn’t say anything negative, just because of a couple statements in the press. So, no hard feelings on my end. I wish him, his wife Sheri, and all the guys nothing but the best. I still think the world of all of them. So, that’s how I feel.
AWAY-TEAM: These days Ozzy seems to be a bit more energized than he has been in the past few years. I’m sure in part it has to do with some of you younger guysbeing around. With guys like yourself and Gus being closer in age to Ozzy’s kids, than the man himself; do Ozzy and Sharon treat you with more of a parental instinct? Or are you still just one of the guys?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: The age thing doesn’t really come into play. We play in his band, and it’s business. But this is more like a family than anything I’ve ever been involved with. They’re super cool, and super nice, and ya know we just played an L.A. show and Ozzy’s whole family was out there. They couldn’t be better to us, they treat us all great despite the age. Whether you’re old or young, it’s all the same thing.
AWAY-TEAM: It’s all rock ‘n’ roll. And speaking of that, Ozzy’s still going at age 62, where do you see yourself at age 62?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I’ll still be rockin’ n’ rollin’ my friend!
AWAY-TEAM: Kick ass!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I just hope I die on stage. That would be… not too soon! (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Yeah. Let’s not rush it!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I can’t stop. So I’ll probably be that dude up there that people are saying ‘Why won’t he quit?’
TOMMY CLUFETOS: At least I know it right? (laughs) I’ll probably still be taking my shirt off when I’m a fat guy!
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) I gotta ask this question… the whole metal world let out a collective ‘What the fuck?” when we first heard that Ozzy was working with Justin Bieber, in fact I even read somewhere somebody said ‘I hope Ozzy bites his head off’ (laughs)
TOMMY CLUFETOS: (laughs)
AWAY-TEAM: How did the guys in the band feel about it, see when we first heard we didn’t know it was a commercial, we just heard they were working together so it obviously created a bit of a storm in the media. So how did you guys feel about it? I mean did you bust his balls a bit?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I mean he’s doing a Super Bowl commercial, so who wouldn’t be in a Super Bowl commercial? It’s like the biggest thing in the world, and I mean he’s Ozzy Osbourne he can do whatever the hell he wants. So I think it’s great, Ozzy is more than music, he’s a cultural icon! He’s like Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is just fucking cool, and so is Ozzy. So, I mean we go up on stage and Ozzy just rocks balls! Harder than anybody out there, harder than any punk kid. He’s the real deal, so whether he’s in a commercial with Justin Bieber, or in The Osbourne’s, he still IS rock ‘n’ roll. He’s the definition of rock ‘n’ roll, and he proves it when he gets on the stage, and we’re there to back him up on it!
AWAY-TEAM: Speaking of backing him up, current band not included, if you could pick an all-time, all-star lineup for Ozzy, consisting of former band members who would it be?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Oh man, that’s a tough one. He’s always had such great bands. The No More Tears era was a great band, of course the Blizzard era was a great band, ya know I just feel honored to be in the Ozzy Osbourne band legacy. That’s what I feel lucky about. My name is in those ranks, and that’s just a great feeling, because he’s always had and always found the great musicians. Ozzy’s so good at getting great musicians in his band, and he can see talent, so I feel blessed and honored to be in that category. I’m not saying I’m in that category, but just to be mentioned with the same guys is a great feeling.
AWAY-TEAM: Yeah, I think Gus put it really well. He said you guys get to “…go out there every night and play the Bible of Heavy Metal” That’s pretty fucking cool!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: When we played in Los Angeles the other night, Tony Iommi was out there and Bill Ward came into our dressing room… sweetheart of a guy, total monster, amazing drummer. So it was great to meet those guys and have ‘em at the show.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s awesome. So how did you get started playing drums?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: My father was a musician, and I got drums for my 7th birthday, and from that moment on I’ve known what I was gonna do with my life. So it was full on instantly, blinders on, to get to doing what I’m doing now. So it’s been an endless, relentless pursuit of quality and determination to get where I am now.
AWAY-TEAM: What was the first song you ever learned? And who did you idolize, or style your play after growing up?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Wow, first song I ever learned (pauses) I think it was, my dad was a musician, so I think it was growing up a song called “C-Jam Blues” which was a Duke Ellington thing. Kinda like a little swing number, and it had little breaks for me to do some fills in, and stuff like that. That’s the earliest thing I can remember doing. I started so early, it just sort of came easy for me. I could just play tunes instantly, so um, ya. Once you look back it’s kinda funny how quickly it goes by.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I idolized my parents. Ya know, as you get older it’s harder to have idols, but my parents; I give them the greatest credit for me doing what I’m doing now. They never told me I couldn’t… I mean my mom, I can’t imagine the noise she had to deal with for 20 years in the house, at all times of the day blasting music and playing drums. And my dad always made sure I had drum stuff, and took me out and saw music, and put me in his band, so. The support was always there, and they always told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put the effort in. So they gave me the tools to have the confidence, in order to go out and do what I do. That’s really who I’m gonna give credit to. To do music, ya know, you gotta have that right mindset. Being able to play your instrument and be good at it is almost the easy part. Your mind has to be together, and you have to understand your place and your role. So it’s very easy, ya know we’re staying at the Four Seasons Hotel and just got off a private jet, it’s easy to start thinking you’re a big shot. But you gotta remember where you came from, and remember why you’re there. You gotta stay grounded, and I credit that to my parents for instilling those values in me. Ya know, when I did wrong, they put you in your place, when you did good, you got credit for it. So I carry those lessons with me to this day.
AWAY-TEAM: Now you got your first real big break with Ted Nugent, how did you end up playing with him? Had he known you from the Detroit scene?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: I got to first play with Ted, a guy in Detroit, a great sax player named Alto Reed whose played in Bob Seger’s band for the last 30 years, asked me to play on a movie soundtrack that he was putting together. Ted Nugent also played on it. So I first played with Ted during that, and didn’t have any idea of what music we were gonna play, he just sat down and wrote a song, and I immediately followed him. We did one take of it, and we cut it. Then we did another one in one take, and I think I impressed him because he called me the next day to go on tour with him. So, ya know, you get certain moments in life where you go “This is my shot.” If I didn’t buckle down and kick ass, Ted Nugent is not gonna give me another shot. You can work for ten years busting your hump, and eventually your break will come in a round about way, and you get that one opportunity to go to the next level. And I knew that was my moment, my one moment. I’ve had numerous moments like that, that have led me to where I’m at. But you don’t get those moments without the years and years of hard work and preparation in order to lead you to be prepared to take advantage of that moment.
AWAY-TEAM: Right, it’s all about what you make of it. So being with a guy like Ted, it’s almost a requirement to be into guns…
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You know what, Ted doesn’t give a shit. Ted only cares about you working your ass off, and being professional, and doing your job. Of course he’s gonna take you to shoot guns, but he doesn’t care if you’re a vegetarian, if you’re black or white, as long as you kick ass and do what you do to the best of your ability, your his best friend.
AWAY-TEAM: So what’s the sickest weapon you ever shot with him?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Oh my god. We went out in Texas, he would fly us out to these hunting ranches for his birthday and shoot like, I don’t even know what they’re called. But like insane crazy machine guns, like you’d see in movies, like in Red Dawn. Just stupid, stupid stuff. I’d be firing these things and be like “What am I doing right now!” For me it was crazy, being the city guy, ya know?
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Right. Having played with so many greats over your career, do you ever get jaded? In other words, let’s take someone I know you’ve never met, at least I hope you’ve never met! Elvis walks by, is it ”So what it’s Elvis he’s just another guy like me”? Or do you still get a little starstruck?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: You picked the one guy, I mean I’m an Elvis nut…
TOMMY CLUFETOS: …so if he walked by, I’d really be going crazy. Second of all, I would have loved to play for Elvis, that’s one guy I would’ve loved to play for. I am an Elvis fanatic! To me though, we’re people. Elvis would be the one dude that I would freak out about though. But, we’re all people, and at this point you’re either an asshole, or you’re not an asshole! (laughs) So sometimes you meet famous people and they’re fucking assholes, sometimes you meet famous people and they’re the greatest people in the world. So, ya know, we’re all just people. I don’t really let anybody freak me out, cuz who cares. You can’t be intimidated by people either. You can be excited, and have a certain charisma that makes you excited to meet them because they’re exciting. But it’s not just because they’re a star, ya know. Like Ozzy has a certain charisma, where you’re like “Oh my god, this is Ozzy“ It’s fucking cool! But it’s not just because it’s Ozzy, it’s because he’s a cool person. If that difference makes sense.
AWAY-TEAM: I know exactly what you mean!
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Like there’s certain guys I’ve played in bands with where I go “Oh my god, this guys a douchebag!” But the guys I play with now, everybody is so cool, everybody is on the same page, and so professional, it’s just a joy to be around. We’re having a riot out here…Blasko, Adam Wakeman, Gus G, Ozzy…all top notch supreme gentlemen, and highest level musicians.
AWAY-TEAM: Of all the legends that you’ve played with, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Ozzy, what’s the best advice any of them has ever given you?
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Best advice anybody has ever given me… that’s a tough one. (pauses) I have no idea. I learned alot from Ted Nugent, he gave me my first big break, we’re both from Detroit, share alot of the same influences, come from the same place and look at things the same way so I learned alot of things from him. But most of the stuff, my parents gave me the tools, I knew what I was doing. I was ready when anything came down the pipeline. I’m talking emotionally, and mentally I was ready. The best advice I can give somebody, if they wanna do this, is to keep the music number one. If something else comes in front of your music, or whatever you wanna do in your life you will not make it. Everything I do during the day has to do with me wanting to play music for the rest of my life. And when you get away from that, when you start getting into drugs, and start drinking, when the partying becomes too much eventually, it may take years, you’re gonna fall. I don’t care who you are, when you stop practicing as much you will lose your chops. You will lose it, I’ve seen so many drummers that are like “Oh yeah, I don’t really pick up the sticks in between tours.” WHAT? You don’t pick up the sticks? I have to pick up the sticks, I have to play, I have to stay hungry for it. Or year, after year, after year you will become dull, and you will lose it slowly. You gotta keep the hunger, and you gotta keep the music number one. So that’s my biggest advice, and everybody who I’ve worked for, that’s what they do and they have 42 year careers because of it. So they may not say something, they may not say the advice, but if you’re smart enough and perceptive you can pick it up on your own. Watch and learn.
AWAY-TEAM: Very true. Excellent pearls of wisdom. Tommy, thank you for your time, it’s been a true honor.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it, and all the best to you!
AWAY-TEAM: Same to you. Best of luck with everything, and I look forward to seeing you behind the kit for many years to come.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Appreciate it. all my best.
AWAY-TEAM: Thanks buddy! Talk to you soon.
TOMMY CLUFETOS: Bye.
Special thanks to Tommy Clufetos for so graciously giving me his time, and to George Vallee at Sumerian Records for making it all happen.
Following BUCKCHERRY since their early days and really diggin’ their 2006 release “15” after they reformed in 2005, I was elated to know I was afforded the opportunity to have a discussion with Keith Nelson (lead guitar, rhythm guitar and backing vocals). Based out of Los Angeles, California, BUCKCHERRY has been a mainstay in the world of rock and roll. Known as “the Crazy Bitch band”, they are so much more than that. Working hard and paying their dues along the way, BUCKCHERRY continues to be one of the leaders with the in-your-face rock and roll bands, having fun and delivering their best every night to you, their fans.
Read on to see what Keith had to tell me about the Jagermeister Tour, their music, what 2011 holds for the band and Steelers football.
This is Marcy Royce with away-team.com speaking today with Keith Nelson from BUCKCHERRY.
AWAY-TEAM: Hi Keith, how are you?
KEITH NELSON: Good, how are you hon?
AWAY-TEAM: Great, thanks! I hear you are in Denver tonight. How cold is it there compared to Pennysylvania?
KEITH NELSON: It’s actually not that bad out here today. Where are you in Pennsylvania?
AWAY-TEAM: I’m in York, just south of Harrisburg.
KEITH NELSON: Yeah I know it, I know it well.
AWAY-TEAM: And you’re from Pennsylvania as well.
KEITH NELSON: That is correct. Western Pennsylvania.
AWAY-TEAM: Glad to know you’re familiar with the state more than some other people are.
KEITH NELSON: Yeah. I’ve spent some time in Indiana, Pennsylvania as well. So, I know it.
AWAY-TEAM: Thanks a lot for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me today. I really appreciate it.
KEITH NELSON: No problem. My pleasure.
AWAY-TEAM: I’ll get to my questions as to not keep you too long.
KEITH NELSON: Alright babe.
AWAY-TEAM: You’re coming back my area, Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, February 12. And since BUCKCHERRY performed at the Raven’s Kickoff Party in August of last year, what is it that you and the band like about Baltimore?
KEITH NELSON: Well, Baltimore really has been one of those cities that’s always just welcomed us with open arms even from the very early, early days of the band, ya know. It’s such a rock and roll town and the response has always been awesome. We’ve gotten a lot of support from the radio station there and some really loyal fans. It’s really been a great place for us.
AWAY-TEAM: We are so glad BUCKCHERRY is coming back!
KEITH NELSON: Right on! It’s gonna be a good time.
AWAY-TEAM: How did this Jagermeister Tour come about for you guys?
KEITH NELSON: They approached us with the idea of doing the tour and packaging up with some really cool bands. We started talking to them and HELL YEAH got on board, and then ALL THAT REMAINS and THE DAMNED THINGS kinda confirmed as well and it really started to pick up momentum. It’s just a cool opportunity for us and Jager has been a really good sponsor. They’ve provided a lot of things for us and it’s really been a good thing. They did a really successful tour with ANTHRAX and MEGADEATH and a couple of the heavier bands last year. We actually went to see one of the shows because we’re friends with the ANTHRAX guys. So, it’s been a good partnership .
AWAY-TEAM: And you’re just on the front leg of this 26 U.S. tour for Jagermeister so I’m sure your raring and fresh and ready to go.
KEITH NELSON: We’re always raring and fresh and ready to go.
KEITH NELSON: We are about 80 shows into this tour in support of our new release, All Night Long, and it’s a good way for us to spend this winter.
AWAY-TEAM: I really do like your new release, All Night Long. I did review it for Away-Team.
KEITH NELSON: Nice!
AWAY-TEAM: And it has grown on me. At first I was wondering, do I like it do I not like it? The more it spins in the ipod the it’s doing well in my opinion.
KEITH NELSON: Well, thank you!
AWAY-TEAM: You’re welcome.
AWAY-TEAM: What is different about this Jagermeister tour from other tours that you’ve been on?
KEITH NELSON: Well, first of all four bands, four kick ass bands. That’s been a big difference. Usually you have one or two bands out with you. But you’ve got four bands. It’s a very, for your entertainment dollar, there’s really a lot of entertainment. So thankfully we’ve been able to, with our partnership with Jager, keep ticket prices low and really just give people the most bang for their buck.
AWAY-TEAM: I think you are definitely doing that! Us fans thank you.
KEITH NELSON: Well, it really is all about the fans. If we can’t provide something for the people that support us and hear our music then why are we doing this in the first place. It’s been very much at the forefront of our thinking. Keep the ticket prices low, keep the merchandise prices low, and just provide an evening of entertainment.
AWAY-TEAM: Thank you. We all appreciate that. I went to see SEVENDUST, DISTURBED and KORN on the Music As A Weapon Tour last week and Lajon said the same thing to the fans. He said without you we don’t have a job.
KEITH NELSON: Yeah. We just did some shows with SEVENDUST. Great guys, love Lajon, there all really good peeps.
AWAY-TEAM: They are one of my favorite bands out there. They definitely, just like you guys, put on one hell of a show.
AWAY-TEAM: What do you like so far the most about this tour and how does it feel to be headlining again?
KEITH NELSON: It’s fun to be out with the HELL YEAH guys. We played with then before. ALL THE REMAINS is a band that we really weren’t all the familiar with, but they are going over really well and they’re really good guys. The biggest surprise has really been THE DAMNED THINGS. I don’t really know that anyone knew what to make of them based on the bands that these guys came from. But they’re really just kick-ass rock and roll band. It’s been really, really fun to go and watch those guys play every night. The thing that I am really enjoying the most is that we are finally doing a headlining show where we are playing for an hour and a half and we get to really dig deep into our catalog and play some stuff that we haven’t got to play in a few years. And we can dig deep into the new record and play a few songs that we might not normally play when we play a shorter so. So that has been fun.
AWAY-TEAM: I’m one of those fans that like to hear the deep tracks. Glad to hear some of that is going to be in the set. Especially when I see you guys in Baltimore in a few weeks.
KEITH NELSON: Right on!
AWAY-TEAM: What is it that you want the fans to take away from this Jagermeister tour about BUCKCHERRY? Maybe some of them haven’t seen you guys before or they’ve only seen you once or twice.
KEITH NELSON: Ya know, I think that we look around at our peers and the people that are out there touring successfully in this day and age, I think that we’re one of the only few real rock and roll bands that are out there. Not saying that we’re the only one but there aren’t many and we really want fans to walk away from that thinking there are five guys making music on stage, there’s no backing tracks, there’s no smoke and mirrors. Just five guys making music.
AWAY-TEAM: Pure and raw.
KEITH NELSON: Just the way nature intended it.
AWAY-TEAM: Right! (laughing)
AWAY-TEAM: I do have a question about your set list. Is there a song that all of you agree must always be the show opener?
KEITH NELSON: No. Ha ha ha ha. We always disagree what song should be the show opener. But we disagree mildly. There are so many good choices for that. We’ve decided on one song that we will open with on every date of this tour. We’ve never opened with that song before. So we all definitely agreed on this one.
AWAY-TEAM: Good, that’s great. I can’t wait to see it, to hear it, to feel it. Because you guys definitely have the energy that I love to take in.
KEITH NELSON: Right on, thanks for that.
AWAY-TEAM: I have a question about your dream tour. Who would be on the bill with you guys, of course with you guys headlining.
KEITH NELSON: Well, I would probably be with something like Led Zepplin and the Sex Pistols and we would be sandwiched in between them somehow.
AWAY-TEAM: (Laughing) You would want to be in between instead of headlining?
KEITH NELSON: Oh yeah! We’re gonna let Led Zepplin headline, come on.
AWAY-TEAM: Well they are the epitome, one of THE best bands that everyone look to. You’re right.
AWAY-TEAM: What are the plans for BUCKCHERRY when the Jagermeister tour ends in February?
KEITH NELSON: Well after that we go up to Canada for three weeks and we’re taking Papa Roach up there with us. Continuing another leg of the Jagermeister tour. I know we are looking to getting over to Europe again in the spring and summer, playing some festivals over there. And some of our own shows. Really just spreading the word on this record and taking it out there and playing it for people.
AWAY-TEAM: The new release has been out since last August. How are the sales both physical and digital?
KEITH NELSON: Well, ya know, sales of records these days is really a weird subject because the bar keeps getting lowered and lowered. You can see that about two weeks ago the number one record on the billboard chart only sold 40,000 units. That’s unheard of. That wouldn’t even get you into the top 20 three or four years ago. So, sales are definitely declining across the board and I think given that we’re at a really good place in the market with where our record is. I think judging your success as a band based on solely on record sales is a big mistake. Because records just don’t sell by themselves. In 2011 we’re earmarked to play for more fans than we’ve ever played for and in more cities and more countries than we’ve ever played. So overall things are really good, really healthy with what’s going on with us.
AWAY-TEAM: That’s great to hear you have that many shows in 2011. That is awesome!
KEITH NELSON: Yes, it is.
AWAY-TEAM: If you were able to cover one artist in your set, who would it be?
KEITH NELSON: Wow! If you would ask the five of us, you would get five different answers. I always wanted to do God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols. I just think that is a song we would do really well. That would get my vote.
AWAY-TEAM: Have you ever done it for soundcheck?
KEITH NELSON: No.
AWAY-TEAM: Do you think it would go over with the other guys?
KEITH NELSON: I think they would be into it.
AWAY-TEAM: Well, maybe toss it out there sometime.
KEITH NELSON: You never know.
AWAY-TEAM: I’m interviewing you but if you could interview any one musician, who would it be?
KEITH NELSON: Ahhhhh. Steven Tyler. I would want to talk to him and get inside his head and ask him some questions.
AWAY-TEAM: I’m sure there’s a lot of shit floating around in his noggin’.
KEITH NELSON: Yeah.
AWAY-TEAM: And what are the top tunes in your ipod right now?
KEITH NELSON: All my favorite records are 20 or more years old. Ha ha ha. It’s crazy. Top tunes would be Horesehead by the BLACK CROWS, Seven Nation Army by WHITE STRIPES and Mannish Boy by MUDDY WATERS.
AWAY-TEAM: Some very good choices!
AWAY-TEAM: Last question Keith. You’re a Steelers fan. What do you think about the Superbowl?
KEITH NELSON: There’s only one way to think. Ya know, I think the Steelers are gonna win. I’m also lucky enough to be a Steelers fan AND a Ravens fan. It was very hard to watch those guys square off against each other. So I’ve kinda go neutral on that day. But, I’m a big Ravens fan as well. I think the AFC is going to prevail.
AWAY-TEAM: Amen. I think so too. I’m rooting for the Steelers even though I’m a Redskins fan.
KEITH NELSON: No doubt.
AWAY-TEAM: Gotta go with the PA team!
KEITH NELSON: That’s right.
AWAY-TEAM: Thanks so much Keith for all your time and your patience with this interview. And I’ll hopefully see you in Baltimore.
KEITH NELSON: Alright hon. Take care.
AWAY-TEAM: You too!
Check out all that is ‘pure and raw’ with BUCKCHERRY at their site: http://www.buckcherry.com/
Here is the 2011 Jagermeister Music Tour schedule:
Wed 19 Jan – San Diego, CA @ 4th and B
Fri 21 Jan – Anaheim, CA @ The Grove of Anaheim
Sat 22 Jan – Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint
Sun 23 Jan – Reno, NV @ Grand Sierra Resort
Tue 25 Jan – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Great Salt Air
Thu 27 Jan – Denver, CO @ Fillmore
Fri 28 Jan – Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theatre
Sat 29 Jan – Des Moines, IA @ Seven Flags Center
Mon 31 Jan – Peoria, IL @ East Peoria Civic Center
Tue 01 Feb – Chicago, IL @ Congress Theatre
Wed 02 Feb – Waterloo, IA @ McElroy Auditorium
Fri 04 Feb – St Louis, MO @ Pop’s
Sat 05 Feb – Minneapolis MN @ 1st Avenue
Tue 08 Feb – Youngstown, OH @ Covelli Center
Wed 09 Feb – Louisville, KY @ Expo 5
Fri 11 Feb – Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
Sat 12 Feb – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
Sun 13 Feb – Sayerville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
Tue 15 Feb – New York, NY @ Best Buy Theatre
Wed 16 Feb – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena
Fri 18 Feb – Albany, NY @ Northern Lights
Sat 19 Feb – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Sun 20 Feb – Manchester, NH @ Verizon Wireless Arena
Tue 22 Feb – Charlotte, NC @ Fillmore
Wed 23 Feb – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
Thu 24 Feb – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
The 2011 Jagermeister Music Tour will feature Jagermeister custom tour prizes from Schecter Guitars and Peavey Electronics. In addition, Jagermeister will be hosting nightly text-to-win giveaways including tap machines, tee shirts, hats and other branded POS.
Special thanks to Keith Nelson for taking the time to speak with me, and to Pavla Mikula at ‘Stache Media for helping to make it happen.
Have you ever been entranced by a band at first listen? Knowing that, even though you can’t pinpoint it, there’s something special about that band? Revelation Theory, as they were known then, first took our ears by storm back in 2005 with the hit single “Slowburn”. I remember being taken back by the soaring vocals of Rich Luzzi, backed by the harmonies of Matty McCloskey, and the heavy riffs of Julien Jorgensen, and having just that feeling. Turns out I have good instincts. Since then, they’ve added more fuel to that “Slowburn” with the addition of killer axe man Rikki Lixx, an abbreviated name, and a sophomore album that produced four hit singles. Six years later, as Rev Theory prepares to release their third major label effort entitled “Justice”, I had a chance to chat with guitarist Julien Jorgensen about everything from producers to presidents. Keep reading, but be careful… my theory is that this “Slowburn” is about to become an inferno!
AWAY-TEAM: First off I wanna congratulate you on the upcoming tour, and the release of your new album “Justice”, which hits stores Feb. 15th. It’s an amazing piece of work.
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Thanks bro!
AWAY-TEAM: Your last album “Light It Up” was a tremendous success. This time around you’ve enlisted the services of super-producer Terry Date. Aside from his stellar resume, what made you pick a guy like Terry?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Umm, I think it was just obviously, like you said, we’re such big fans of all the records he’s done, and the bands he’s worked with. And ya know, I talked to my A & R guy in Kansas City, we were playing Rockfest in 2008 I think it was, we were in the middle of the cycle for “Light It Up”, and… I’m sorry 2009, and he had said to me “Man, to capture the sound and energy of you guys live…”, which is what we wanted to do, “I think Terry Date would be perfect”. I looked at him and was like “Absolutely”. So he reached out to Terry, and Terry was interested, and we felt like it was just the right fit. Definitely the right guy for the music, and the record we were making.
AWAY-TEAM: Was there a certain quality that you feel like Terry was able to bring out in you this time around? I mean, what was the recording process like?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Terry is great at capturing the true essence of the band. And ya know, he’s really great at capturing the character of a band. I think that’s why his records stand the test of time. Recording with him was awesome, he pushed us to… basically we recorded the bass and the drums live off the floor. The record was really raw, and it was a really good experience. We didn’t take any shortcuts, we really dug into the parts, and he was just a wealth of knowledge. So the whole process was awesome, from stories from what he had done before, to all the little tricks he had up his sleeve, the whole thing was just a treat man. It was a good time.
AWAY-TEAM: On first listen, the title track “Justice” gives you the impression that the song was written for a certain someone in Washington, D.C. The video for the song even further supports that belief. Is that a correct assumption to make?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Well, I think ya know, we had written the song a while back with some good friends of ours… our intention was kind of a bit political, we were a little bit upset about what was going on in the country at the time. We’re really not a politically driven band, so we weren’t really going to use the song, and it sort of brought itself back into the fold when we were writing this record. We just felt it was indicative of a lot of things we were going through. Ya know, socially, stuff that we were pissed off about in our own industry. Just a little frustration going on in the music industry in general. So we felt like it was the perfect song, it says a lot about our fight, what we’ve been through the last eight years as a band. It also encompasses the full body of the record as a whole, so we felt like it was the right song to use as the title track.
AWAY-TEAM: The song “Hollow Man” features your bassist, Matt McCloskey singing leads. How did that come to be?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: It was just… Matt had actually written that song when we were on tour, probably a year and a half ago. It was just one of those that came out in the back of the bus, and literally made it all the way through. And I think it made it because it was just a real honest song, and Matty had sung it originally and just kinda did it on the record as well. It was from him, and from his soul it sounded great with him singing.
AWAY-TEAM: So was this just a one shot deal? Or is this maybe the start of an Alice in Chains type thing where, as Jerry Cantrell would put it, you have two lead singers?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Well, I mean we’ve sort of felt that way for a long time, we just never had the right opportunity to showcase it. I think that this record we do alot of sort of, I mean obviously we’ve done alot of harmonies in the past, there’s alot of counter-melodies and counter-vocals in there. We just try to feature Matty as much as possible, and we feel like this song is definitely the stepping stone…
AWAY-TEAM: With the last album, the WWE took notice. They actually made “Light It Up” the theme song for Wrestlemania 24. Then you went on even further to work with them, giving them “Hell Yeah” and “Voices”, and you were even part of a WWE skit?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Yeah, we did a couple of skits with them backstage. It was actually pretty funny, we’re big fans of Festus and Biscuits and Gravy…Jesse & Festus, they’re funny, they’re characters. So we actually got to do some skits with them backstage. It was fun.
AWAY-TEAM: Cool! Now “Enemy Within” seems like a song that’s tailor made for the WWE. What inspired that song? And are there any plans for the WWE to use any of the songs off of “Justice”?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: That song was written as a full collaboration with the whole band. I’m really proud of that song. It’s just a sort of “Take the world over” song, and “take a look at yourself in the mirror”, and all that type of thing. We felt like it was a bad-ass tune, I mean if you think it could be for the WWE that’s cool. We wrote it kind of for ourselves, and it’s fun to play live so we’re excited to put that one in the set for sure.
AWAY-TEAM: As we speak, you guys are on the road making the 20 hour drive up to Denver. You guys have toured relentlessly, and with a new album to kick off 2011, there appears to be no end in sight. When you’re out on the road like that, how do you escape and find solace, just to keep from going insane?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Well this one’s a little.. we’re on a radio tour right now, we’re in a van and it’s really close quarters. We’re actually having a bit of fun with it, because we haven’t done something like this in a while. We’d been fortunate to have a bus during the last touring cycle; we’re all taking turns driving, and so we haven’t had much time away from each other in the last two weeks. When we are on the road in the bus each of us have things we do during the day to kind of… we have our own tour regiments, ya know, some of us like to go to the gym and at least get a shower, and other guys just chill in the back, play video games, and watch movies. Ya know, write songs, nap… some guys nap a lot, ya know what I mean? (laughs)
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Everyone’s got their own thing, and when it comes to like an hour and a half before gametime, before the show, we all start getting in the same mode. We have a pre-game warmup that we all rock out to, and we put a playlist together, and the cameraderie kicks in, and we take the stage together. So when it’s like an hour out, we’re ready to go.
AWAY-TEAM: What do you do to get amped up for a show like that? Is there a certain song or album you listen to?
JULIEN JORGNSEN: Yeah. We have a ton of go-to’s. I mean, on the last record, the last cycle we had “Whiskey in the Morning” by Buckcherry, some newer stuff from Filter, we had some Avenged Sevenfold, some Pantera on there. Followed by some Jäger and some Monster Energy Drinks. We have the Matty Mayhem special cocktail, which consists of Monster Energy Drink, and the Monster shots (The Hitmen), and Jäger. So we usually pound a few of those before we go out there.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Sounds like you’d have to pound them! Holy Shit!
JULIEN JORGENSEN: (laughing) It’s a good time brother, it’s a good time. Well back in the day we used to drink Jäger and Monster out of a bowl. Cuz we didn’t have cups, ya know we drank them out of those cereal bowls.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughing) Lap it up!
JULIEN JORGENSEN: (laughs) We’ve graduated to shot cups that Jäger gave us.
AWAY-TEAM: (laughs) Despite the tremendous success of “Light It Up”, ya know, aside from the wrestling fans and the true rock fans, to the casual fan Rev Theory is still a bit of an unknown for some reason which is a sin. Is that a role you’re comfortable with? Or crave? Ya know, cuz some bands don’t want the spotlight if it means sacrificing who they are. Or is that something you’d like to change?
JULIEN JORGENSEN: I mean, we wanna get our music out there to as many people as we can. Ya know I think that the last record was a great stepping stone for us. I think it got our music out to alot of people, and I think that we’ll be able to kinda build on the success of that, and I think this record is that record to do it. I think it’s a defining record for our band, and we’re really proud of the whole record. We’re really excited to present this, I think that if we can get it to the people’s ears, they really gonna dig it. It’s not that we love the spotlight, but we’d definitely love to grow the band, and grow the listenership because we feel like we have a really great record.
AWAY-TEAM: I agree. I think after this one you’ll be drinking outta pint glasses. (laughs)
JULIEN JORGENSEN: (laughs) That is awesome. I hope so brother, I hope so.
AWAY-TEAM: Well hey man, thanks for your time. It’s been a great pleasure. Best of luck with the new album and the tour, I know you’re gonna do great. Look forward to seeing you when you make your way through Florida, and we’ll do this again.
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Yeah man. Stay in touch. Come out to a show.
AWAY-TEAM: For sure. Thanks again Julien, talk to you soon.
JULIEN JORGENSEN: Be good. Thanks Jason. Bye.
Rev Theory’s latest album “Justice” hits stores February 15th, and the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour featuring Rev Theory, Pop Evil, Hail the Villain, and The Black Cloud Collective kicks off February 16th in Phoenix. For more info on Rev Theory including tour dates, and to find out where to purchase music and merchandise visit http://www.revtheory.com/