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.
When we last left our Hero, Mr. Altier was chomping at the bit to get out of the house and go catch his Dolphins playing. But we had just gotten to the meat of the interview. We had discussed why Slider left Brand New Sin and we were delving into his reasons for leaving/getting kicked out. And hell, we’re 30 minutes into the interview and haven’t even really talked about the new band ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN, so here you go… (If you haven’t read the first half of our interview with ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN’s frontman and former Brand New Sin frontman, click here.)
AWAY-TEAM: And that was when about the time you were on your way out (leaving/getting kicked out of Brand New Sin)?
Joe Altier: Yeah, yeah, pretty much. You know it was in ’07. It was after the Tequila (BNS’s third album) cycle had ended I think we started speaking a little bit before that, we didn’t really start striking our friendship (Joe and Slider BNS and ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN’s guitarist) back up again until that time. I didn’t really know what the hell I was going to do. I didn’t realize I was going to end up leaving Brand New Sin. I didn’t think I was leaving Brand New Sin right up until the moment of the night I walked into that room and left. In the back of my mind, how hindsight tells me, yeah there was a lot of things that was showing me that I definitely didn’t want to be in that band anymore. But I didn’t think I was not going to be in that band until January 8th of ’08. I said ok now I’m leaving after the conversation that we had that night, the argument, and the yelling at each other, and realizing that I wasn’t happy there. And they weren’t happy, so I was, ‘If you guys have a better vision of where you’re going and you’ve got plans and I’m holding you back,’ Because that’s basically what I was told was that I was holding the band back then, and I wanted time off. I had suggested time off for everybody, I think we all needed to get our heads on fucking straight you know? I have a drinking problem and a slight drug problem and we’re all broke and my father just fucking died and my life is completely upside down I need some time off! And that’s what I asked the band. I asked the band for an indefinite amount of time off, I said we can still get together and write but I don’t want to be gigging. I don’t want to be running forward, we don’t have a record label or have any tours, what’s the fucking hurry? Why don’t we just take some fucking time off? And they didn’t feel that way. They felt that they needed to move forward at a hundred miles an hour and I’m like alright well then, ‘good luck to ya! See ya later; I’m fucking out of here!’ For me to get accused of being selfish and being the one that’s holding the band back from success then you know if you really think so then I will leave. For a long time I didn’t really speak about that cuz I didn’t want to live…the emotions were very raw and I didn’t want to bad mouth anybody. But it got to a point where I was just like, ‘Now I’m ready to talk about it!’ I don’t really give a shit what they think because they’re going to have their opinions too, but I’m telling you pretty much word for word what happened in that meeting. And I told them….I started getting a laundry list of things being told to me that what I did over there, ‘on this tour you did this, and you chose to do this over that, and one of them was you chose to work a piano gig making money other than going to open up for Drowning Pool!’ And I’m just like we never got offered a Drowning Pool show so I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. ‘Well they played it in Watertown and we had an offer’ I’m like we never had an offer, if we had an offer I might have gone through with it. And on top of that until fucking Brand New Sin can fucking pay my goddamn cell phone bill and my bills then I need to take some work over some gig sometimes I’m sorry! They called me selfish, and they said that I wasn’t in for the business, and yadda yadda yadda. It was a personal attack on me at first. In my mind I was like how dare you?!?! Man, my fucking father… I just found my father fucking dead like 2 months ago and you guys are going to fucking start getting on me about this? Fuck you! Especially when two guys in the band had already fucking lost their fathers as well so they know. Then when they started accusing me of shit, I wanted to be like alright well if you want to start making a laundry list let’s start going around the room… Ok Chris (Weichmann) let me make a list, how many times you did this, how many times did you throw a temper tantrum and not fucking do something on stage? Kevin Dean How ‘bout this? How ‘bout Chuck Kahl falling over? You know I mean we could sit here and do a laundry list of things that everyone else did too you know? But at the end of the day I finally am like I’m not going to sit here and do this. Obviously you guys have a plan; obviously you want me to go, so I’m leaving. And I think 3 years later the position that I’m in compared to the position they’re in speaks volumes of what…of what’s really happened.
Joe Altier: I think we are you know?
AWAY-TEAM: Are you?
Joe Altier: We talk to each other when we see each other but we’re not calling each other up ‘hey man you know wanna go hang out?’ Nah we don’t do that anymore. When we see each other we talk and we’re friendly and cordial to each other but I mean after everything we went through it’s like almost like being in a war. You know in Vietnam with somebody and then not talk to somebody but you still have a connection because you went through some pretty fucked up shit together and had that bond. But we’re friendly. Me and Kenny Dunham actually talk more than I do with anybody else in that band but Kenny’s removed from that band as well so you know I talk to him, and I mean I’m still in contact with everybody. On some levels I got to do some business shit that still involves those guys. There’s still checks that come from Century Media once in awhile so we have to speak, but you know I’ve never seen them play since I left the band, and I really got no interest to be honest with you. It’s no offense to them I just got no interest. I think if they were called fucking John Brown’s Toe or whatever I would go and be a huge fan but that’s not Brand New Sin to me.
AWAY-TEAM: Well you and I had talked about it a little bit prior to this, about how they’re not bad. I went and saw them when they were here in town and it’s not Brand New Sin. And I wish them much luck and the stuff they were doing, the new stuff for what it was, was good. But it’s not Brand New Sin. At some point you know you went from God Below to Brand New Sin because you made this major change (music style and vocalist change). Well you just had another major change your style is different, your singing is different, your singer is different, and you don’t have a Joe wannabe after Joe left so you probably shouldn’t be the same name.
Joe Altier: Right. I think that’s just them, I mean I really think that some people in that band think that they should keep riding on those things, but the true fans are… I mean there’s some fans that have stuck by and there’s always going to be fans. There’s fans from Anthrax that are still fans of John Bush and Joey Belladonna and they’re fans of both but you know there’s COC changed a million times you know from their sound and stuff like that. I really think that honestly if you wanted to ask me what my biggest guess was for why they stuck with it is because they fucking… Chris was like ‘well you know COC changed from a punk band to a punky rock band to a fucking rock band and changed singers along the way why can’t we do the same thing?’ Whatever, I mean they can call the band whatever they want.
Joe Altier: Yeah, absolutely. But you can’t drastically change the sound of a band and expect the fans to be there. I mean I think Elephant Mountain sounds more like Brand New Sin than Brand New Sin sounds like Brand New Sin. And I’m not really trying! I think really Elephant Mountain doesn’t sound like Brand New Sin but it sounds more like Brand New Sin than Brand New Sin does today I should say.
AWAY-TEAM: Fair enough that would be more accurate.
Joe Altier: It’s cool, I don’t wish any ill will on them, and I hope that things turn around for them and stuff like that. But I see where things are going and it’s just, if that’s what’s making them happy then fucking so be it. I know I’m happy on my end and as long as they’re happy on their end and my opinion doesn’t matter you know at the end of the day.
AWAY-TEAM: So you guys went through a lot of label shit throughout that time and looking back on it now, how much do you think that actually hampered you guys and added to the stress and the issues? And how do you think it could have been avoided or could it have been avoided?
Joe Altier: You know I think it hampered quite a bit. I mean we got in and we’re pretty much playing the game, we played the fucking game! When you’re in there and you gotta play the game you gotta play by some certain rules, and some people in the band didn’t want to play by those rules. We had labels telling us different things, we wanted to call certain things, we wanted to call the record The Tequila Record, they wanted to call it Tequila. We’re like, ‘No it’s The fucking Tequila Record!’ They’re like, ‘No, Tequila!’. So it’s things like that that happen to every band and the changes between labels and the lull between the first record and the second record I really think contributed to Slider being kicked out. I think if we had if Now or Never (BNS’ first label) stayed intact or if we immediately went to Century Media (BNS’ third label) instead of going to somewhere else, cuz we had the offer to go to Century Media right away, I think Slider would have weathered that. Obviously without getting further or going through more examples it absolutely did hinder us because that lull between the two albums we lost a member and it sent us on that path that we were on, and it changed things. I just think that… I wish… I don’t wish we could change anything else because there wasn’t anything we could do. I mean everything that I got now I’m learning not to do you know? We made a lot of mistakes along the way on the way we handled our band and I think we entrusted other people to do things. Not that those people weren’t competent, I think we should just have been more involved and more educated on what we were doing, and maybe not so fucking drunk all the time how’s that sound? You know, I mean it’s cool to play rockstar and get drunk and stupid BUT…
AWAY-TEAM: Well you know I was talking to Brian Fair from Shadows Fall about that and musicians are musicians for a reason. A) They’ve got talent. B) because of that talent and because of the time spent in the garage or in the bedroom practicing they didn’t study a lot in school, they’re not necessarily you know rocket scientists and they don’t study business and they never had to although maybe even as far back as the 70s they probably should have. But that’s why you have managers and accountants and agents and shit because they’re the ones that are hopefully working for you. But today starting out because you don’t have the big machine that you used to churning out these bands, labels etcetera… as a band you have to do everything! You have to be your own manager, you have to be your own accountant, you have to know how to read a contract and know what it means and fight and negotiate for what you feel you need to get out of it, and you haven’t had to do that in the past.
Joe Altier: And that’s really where I’m at now, it’s like these kids nowadays are going to have to educate themselves and not just going to be a guitar player. They’re going to have to learn how to do accounting for their band, they’re going to have to learn how to talk to merchandise companies, they’re going to become… you’re going to have a graphic designer in the band, you’re going to have someone who can engineer your record, you’re going to have a lot of things. You’re going to become a multi-faceted person, that’s how you’re going to become successful. And we don’t come from that, we just missed it by two years and we’re still learning and Shadows Fall are doing it themselves now.
AWAY-TEAM: Yes a hundred percent.
Joe Altier: I went and saw them and visited with them when they were in town and they’re old friends of mine, and it was really cool, but it was funny to watch them now than it was 6 or 7 years ago. They’re still out and they’re back out selling their own merch they’re taking turns ‘hey Matt it’s your turn to be at the merch table.’ Somebody’s taking care of merch, someone’s doing this and someone’s doing that. I mean they still have a guitar tech and they still got a tour manager and stuff like that but they’re a business now and they act that way because they know if we want to make it that’s what we have to do.
AWAY-TEAM: And it’s not so much even about making it, it’s about protecting yourself. You know it’s not about becoming the next Metallica. It’s like you said, it’s about paying my goddamn cell bill, it’s about making sure that at the end of the day we have something to show for this other than some kick ass music. We still have to pay bills, if you are smart enough to be able to control your band then you can do it, but unfortunately you are the one that has to do it now.
Joe Altier: Yeah you know and that’s really what I kind of did the past two and half years educating myself. I got away from the business, and I kinda fell back in love with music and playing covers and found myself again and figured out what I wanted to do. I don’t have to sell, I mean do I want to sell a million records, fuck yeah that’d be cool! But if I could sell 20,000 records of my solo record 20,000 records of Elephant Mountain and do it on my own, play some shows here and there, I’ll make a good living. I’m making a good living now and I’m not even selling 20,000 records. And I’m investing my own money so I don’t have anybody to yell at other than myself if something doesn’t work. I don’t go to the label, ‘Oh my god you motherfucker! You cut me off from tour support! You did this you did that.’ I use Just Joe… Just Joe playing covers is how I fund my record label Just Joe. It’s a help fund as part of the funding of Elephant Mountain. I help with that, it’s completely how I fund my solo shit. So you know some people like ‘well you know don’t you want to…’ I don’t want to play covers but it’s how I fund things because it’s easy, because I get to go play for 3 or 4 hours and I have another 20-21 more hours in the day to do my other shit….for now. It’s not where I’m going to be 4 or 5 years from now playing piano bars.
Joe Altier: I don’t mind it and if that’s really where my life ends up and I just end up selling a couple thousand records and I’m still traveling around the United States playing in piano bars and playing it, that isn’t even so bad. That ain’t even a bad backup plan in my mind. So I think I’ve set myself up for a really good life in this business whether it’s gonna be all originals or small covers or more covers and then some originals. Either way I’m happy, I’m playing music, I’m still traveling, on a much smaller level, but I’m still traveling so I’m happy dude, completely happy.
AWAY-TEAM: Very cool. I have this song from a band and I won’t mention the band (Brand New Sin) but they covered Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd and it blows Shinedown’s version out of the water. Why was it recorded and why was it never released?
Joe Altier: It was recorded because the second label we were on… instead of Now or Never we were on Barter Records which was a Sony imprint. They asked us to start doing some covers cuz they figured well maybe we’ll release a single of a cover, of you guys doing a cover in order to launch you guys. Van Halen did it; I mean a laundry list of people who ended up getting careers after they did a cover song… I mean Shinedown… that’s really what broke Shinedown. So me and Slider had always played around with it and we’re like alright let’s record it. It’s a much simpler version, no pun intended, but there’s two verses missing and we did it as a demo to show the label what we could do. We’re like alright let’s do this, we’ll shorten it down a bit one chorus, one solo, out. We don’t need to record the whole song, why do that if it’s only a demo. So we did it, we did it real quick, we sent it to them. And they basically said ‘we don’t know if this would really work, we don’t know if this is tangible, we don’t know if people remember who what song this is.’ And six months later fucking Shinedown sells a million records because of Simple Man and now I mean it really jump started their career and everybody knew who Shinedown was and then all of a sudden they re-released the singles that happened before Simple Man Fly From The Inside and 45 and then it was dude it was really a catalyst! If anyone would argue with me differently I would call them stupid. Simple Man was everything for that band. I mean I don’t know maybe it wouldn’t have worked for us at all, maybe it was Shinedown’s moment, but it would be interesting to see what do you think Shinedown would have done it if we went for a full radio campaign? If we fucking released it before they did? I don’t know man I don’t know. But that’s why we recorded it and we recorded a few other covers at that time we actually recorded Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell which I’ll have to send you sometime too.
Joe Altier: It kinda got shelved and then we went through this whole process with that label and we just kinda went nowhere and then we ended up with Century Media a year and a half later so that was why it was recorded and why it was never released they didn’t think it was gonna work. ‘Oops’
AWAY-TEAM: Did you go back to them and say, ‘Ummm….’
Joe Altier: Absolutely like. ‘Jesus man way to go!!!’
AWAY-TEAM: So who are your musical influences or is that what Just Joe is? Is Just Joe where you sing… or is it kind of an example of your musical influences?
Joe Altier: Yeah I take… it’s everything… I do 1200 songs, just about 600 of them I don’t ever want to play, but I do because I just got to do it. And there’s about 600 I really love. My interest in musical influences go from Otis Redding all the way to Metallica. I mean if I made a list my biggest influences it’s fucking mindboggling, right now I’m listening to Zac Brown Band and I love it so. But it kinda encompasses a lot of things and a lot of genres: Skynyrd, Metallica, Pantera, The Eagles, are probably some of the biggest ones and Social Distortion.
AWAY-TEAM: So how did Elephant Mountain come about? How did you and…you and Slider obviously apparently started talking again…
Joe Altier: Yeah, we started talking again. We talked about writing some songs together and then my guitar player John suggested. ‘You and Slider and me and Luke (our drummer) should get a bass player and we should just jam together.’ So it kind of organically came from me and Slider talking about writing together to John forcing us to kind of jam together. And on a cold night in January of ’09 we got together and we started jamming and in a nutshell that’s how Elephant Mountain was born. We got a buddy of ours from Cortland to play bass and then we ended up getting a B3 player a year later in January of this year and voila here we are here’s Elephant Mountain.
AWAY-TEAM: So you have a full-time B3 player?
Joe Altier: Yes he’s in the band. He’s a grandfather he’s 55 fucking years old! He’s been around for years. He played in a band called Bloodline that was signed to Columbia which was Joe Banamassa and yeah it was just a bunch of guys that were all bloodlines of guys from the Allman Brothers and The Doors and everything else. Lou is the B3 player of that band. He’s had a history of being in bands in Syracuse and nationally for years.
AWAY-TEAM: So who is Joe Banamassa a bloodline of?
Joe Altier: Joe Banamassa senior… nobody famous (laughs)…he’s a wicked guitar player.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh yeah I know who he is, I’ve seen him a few times, I just… cuz you were talking about being bloodline of stuff and I was trying to figure out who the hell he belonged to.
Joe Altier: He was just a wicked guitar player as a young kid and he’s from Syracuse area he grew up around here.
AWAY-TEAM: Oh I didn’t know that.
Joe Altier: Yeah he’s a local cat, that’s how Lou ended up in the band because Lou played in his solo band so…
AWAY-TEAM: So for those that don’t know Brand New Sin and don’t know Elephant Mountain how would you describe your sound?
Joe Altier: Pure rock ‘n roll motherfucker! That is the best way man! I mean I think we sound like a lot of different things, and I just think we sound like just straight up rock ‘n roll a very classic style. I think Brand New Sin was a very classic style of rock ‘n roll and metal and I really think that Elephant Mountain is a real classic style of rock ‘n roll I think we sound like a band that should have been around in like 1977 more than 2010 but we have a twist obviously with my vocals. I think that’s the best way to describe our sound it’s just rock ‘n roll, no frills.
AWAY-TEAM: You just released The Last Days of Planet Earth which is the first album for Elephant Mountain and how can people find it?
Joe Altier: So since we don’t have our proper website built yet you can find us on Facebook and that will lead you to CDBaby and you can find all our stuff on CDBaby. iTunes. And eventually we’ll have our own, we’ll have our website built it’s actually in the process right now. That’s the best way to find us is on Facebook and then we actually have a MySpace page you can find us on there and then both of those places will link you to how to buy the record. You can actually buy it physically or you can download it for real cheap. The actual physical CD is a little bit more because of shipping and everything else but you can get the download for like 8 bucks 8 or 9 bucks and if you actually find me in person or you’re in Syracuse you can buy it for 8 bucks.
Damn, we talked forever! There you have it. No holds barred. You want the straight shit, you go to Joe and ask a question, and the straight shit is what he is going to give you.
My thanks to Joe Altier for taking time out of a Dolphins game to talk for 90 minutes to me about EVERYTHING.
You know that ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN’s The Last Days of Planet Earth was in my top 10 of 2010. So go here, or here, or here to get yourself a copy of it. You’ll thank me for it later.
And my thanks to Melissa Dolak who went above and beyond editing and transcribing the interview from hell.