I just noticed the first website I every worked at on Down The Road Webzine has gone to a better place. This site gave me the opportunity, at just 16 years old, to write about music, interview bands and fall in love with journalism. It is sad to see them go but I thought I’d post my work here to keep it live. Also, this happens to be the ten year anniversary of this interview which is insane.
Can you introduce yourselves?
Ryan: My name is Ryan and I play guitar and sing.
Brian: My name is Brian I play guitar and sing.
I read in AP that if you hadn’t got the chance to be produced, you would have gone to different schools. Do you think you would be involved in music? And would the band have continued even though you were at school?
Ryan: It might have but it wouldn’t be the same that’s for sure. I mean we probably would have only played on vacations and at college and stuff. And it probably would have eventually become something as a hobby instead, and we really didn’t want to do that. Its just society tells you that you have to go to college, and you should go to college. [points to me] But yeah, that’s kinda what we assumed and that’s what we did, but we had the opportunity to have Brian Russell come along and help us out and it was awesome.
So were you going to different schools across the country?
Brian: We were actually going to stay relatively close in the Massachusetts to New York region, I went to college for two years in Boston.
Is it really different from being on tour?
Brian: College is definitely a lot different from being on tour, I mean you kinda live the same way, like haphazardly and shit kinda everywhere all the time. But you’re in one place, the tour is like the fun part of college.
Would your life still be involved in music still, with what you wanted to do in college?
Brian: Well, I was going to music school, so I don’t know, probably not. Usually at music school kids end up doing something else.
Ryan: I was going to school for English. I decided to keep music separate because I had heard stories like Brian, or people who just end up losing the enjoyment they had once they study it and learn the math of it and everything. And I wanted to keep my actual book knowledge of music is minimal due to the fact they kind of lump it in with everything else. So I wouldn’t have been studying music but if I wasn’t in this band I still definitely would be playing, absolutely.
Upon getting signed to Photo Finish Records was there any doubt in your mind about going on tour and pursuing this?
Brian: That’s actually the one thing that wasn’t a doubt because Matt Galle our booking agent owns the record label. So he kinda has his best interest to get out our record and keep us out on the road. He helps generate buzz and sell records, so that wasn’t a concern at all.
Even though the music industry is very harsh?
Ryan: It is and it isn’t. It’s not as bad as people make it out to be. I mean you kinda just have to weed out all the bad people from your camp and the people who work for you. And if you do most of the work yourself you know who they are and you can spot them and shy away from them. Yeah, I mean the whole concept of what we wanted to do and just by going on tour and doing it ourselves. Hanging out with kids, and selling CDs is really like, kind of deviating from any fears we have of the music industry. That’s why we did that that’s why we had done that initially and that’s why we are so eager to go on the road so we didn’t have to deal with the risks of depending on somebody in the music industry to do everything for us. Photo Finish is the perfect label for us, they work super hard for us and they have more of like a family type personality, so it’s good.
Were your parents in support of this at all?
Brian: For the most part, I think that everyone’s parents were pretty much… I think you were going to say the newspaper thing.
Ryan: It’s hard for parents to see it, I think they want tangible evidence of you doing something. You know, they see us in front of a ton of kids but they want to make sure that we can survive. But they get excited over funny things, like when we are in the newspaper at home. And they equate that with success, it’s kinda funny. They are all pretty supportive, honestly they know that and they realize that even if we were in school are minds would be on this anyway. And they realize that we are so busy and working so hard all the time that you can’t really criticize someone for doing what they love and putting everything that they have into it.
30 Seconds To Mars, was that your first tour?
After getting signed?
Brian: Signed, yes that was our first tour. It was our first formal and structured tour but we had done a week of random shows before that and then random ones up and down the east coast. But 30 was our first real structured tour with load in load out type stuff.
Were you nervous because they have a really dedicated fan base?
Ryan: I wouldn’t say we were nervous; we were more stoked to be out on the road in all honesty. We were just so excited so there wasn’t really enough room to be nervous. We’re pretty comfortable on stage and we love to play, so we weren’t too nervous.
Brian: More curious to how they were going to respond to what we were about. If people don’t like you, you can’t really get pissed or get down about it because there’s someone out there that likes your music. Luckily they were very receptive to us and some of them even have our symbol tattooed on them.
Why did you change your name from Writ in Water?
Ryan: It was just confusing for people because it came from a poet’s epitaph. This guy named John Keats, and his epitaph said ‘here lies one whose name was writ in water.’ The whole principle of the thing is kinda cool but people just didn’t get it and really couldn’t say the name and messed it up all the time. So we had a song called ‘Envy on the Coastline’ and we were sick and tired of looking for new names and we were used to that already because it was our song title so it just made sense in the whole scheme of things.
Did you ever play as Writ in Water?
Ryan: Well, we played a couple shows, but we never toured as Writ in Water.
On your Myspace blogs you talk about Jeremy’s ‘incidents’; has there been anything more with him or anyone else?
Ryan: He always has stuff happen to him, he’s just got really bad luck.
Brian: His stuff just explodes on him.
Ryan: He just had problems at the show yesterday with his amp; he just has super bad luck.
Brian: He blew up two amps on the Saosin tour. One was really bad, he was using Chris from Saosin’s bass ring and he had plugged something in that wasn’t supposed to be there and then he’s trying to play the bass and it just wasn’t working. Then all of a sudden their tour manager starts going, ‘uh, it’s fucking smoking.’ And we looked at his bass ring and his amp was literally on fire, so it was pretty nuts. He’s had to borrow bass equipment from other people and other stuff but he’s got bad luck, what can you do.
Ryan: But he’s fine though.
He’s always happy.
Brian: He is always happy. No matter what is blowing up onstage he is always happy.
What was it like going home after your first tour?
Brian: Weird, really weird.
Ryan: It was definitely weird. It was just weird being in my own house again after two and a half months. We were gone for two and a half months without seeing our own homes and I remember seeing a parkway and signs to New York was just strange because we spent most of our first tour on the opposite side of the US. Really strange, but it was good because we spent about a week back home and I was happy to see everyone but I was also eager to get back on the road. But it was good it was definitely a healthy thing.
Did people treat you differently?
Brian: No. Well, we’re not really at that point, I don’t know if we’ll ever be at that point where we’ll walk somewhere and people will be like “hey you’re so and so” and it’s not really a fan.
If you could play anywhere in the world, with anybody, who would it be with and where?
Ryan: Roseland Ballroom in New York City with Brand New. I grew up watching Brand New; I used to go see them at Roseland. I think I saw them three times, two or three times and after seeing them in twenty, thirty person venues. They came from my town. Watching them get to that level, I was so jealous of them. I used to watch them and go “I would do anything to play that stage and open up for them would be the craziest, it would just be such a trip. I would love to do that.
Brian: That one would be mine as well but I mean if I had to pick a different one, can it be any time period?
Brian: I would open up for U2 at Madison Square Garden during the Joshua Tree tour.
Any specific reasons for that?
Brian: That’s just like, I’m not a religious person but that would be like seeing, that would be like a religious thing. It’d be crazy, the Joshua Tree is such a huge album and people connect with it so much it would be cool to be a part of that. It’s between that or being U2, I don’t know.
How did you get into AP, the first time?
Ryan: The first time we were in AP was unsigned band of the month and I believe the guy who did it knew our manager. So I think Will hooked that up the first time before we were signed. The other ones I think were due to them liking us.
Brian: Well, one editor came to see us once, and they are more then generous with the amount of exposure they have given us. I think we’re in the new issue several times, it’s totally, totally weird. I remember in my first year of college, Sal called me and said that Kenny from The Starting Line was wearing our band’s t-shirt on the cover of AP, which is so weird. And I looked on the cover of AP and sure enough there he was, wearing our shirt. I think I was happier to see that then seeing my own band in AP, well that’s not necessarily true, but I mean it was really cool.
Did you guys get any bigger from that?
Brian: No. It’s weird because it was where they reversed the photo but the person stays the same but any writing on their shirt is backwards. Our t-shirt was reversed so I had to look at it for a while but it was our shirt.
How did he know about your band? Did he come to a show?
Brian: Well, Sal used to like stalk different pop-punk icons and make them listen to his band. Which is very ambitious of him but they were always very nice to him. And we would end up touring with them like, Midtown and Tom Delonge and Sal would be like ‘remember when I saw you at your show and I gave you my hat’ and I guess Kenny was one of them. He told me this whole story but I forget how he got the shirt.
When you were writing your EP what were your influences?
Ryan: Glassjaw, Incubus, Bjork, Johnny Cash, I mean we are influenced by so many different new bands in the past year, and opened up so many different styles of music. Queen, who I used to love a lot, Thrice, Brand New, Third Eye Blind we listen to a lot of stuff. We listen to tons of stuff.
Brian: We even listen to stuff people send to us.
Do you guys try to be influential to people?
Brian: Yea, we really try, we try hard to be cool, to look good, we even try to wear the right clothing, be seen at all the right parties and hang with the right people. No I’m just kidding.
[Ryan had to leave to give Sal his keys, so the rest of the interview is just Brian]
Brian: People say we suck, but it’s not a big deal. Are we doing something totally revolutionary, no, not at all, not by any means. But I think that we are good at what we do and people like it and latch onto it and that’s good. If people don’t like it they’ll find other music to listen to. We make music for everybody; it’s not to alienate anyone. I remember reading an article and the guy was shit talking bands that sound the same and that’s fine. But just think, that is someone’s favorite band, and they would live and die for them. And I think a lot of people forget that.
That’s like a lot of the 30 Seconds To Mars fans. They’re all dressed up to see them.
Brian: Yeah, they’re crazy they love 30 Seconds To Mars. 30 Seconds To Mars is a good rock band, they put on a great show. A lot of people might think ‘oh they wear makeup and a little outfit thing’ but that’s their thing. People love it and they don’t give a shit. Just look at all the people outside.
You’re traveling in your van still. Do you think it is important for bands to get the feel of touring small in a van before hitting it big?
Brian: Yeah, I do I think it’s important for bands to pay their dues in a van, playing shows for nobody, having kids not like you, not selling as much merch as you would like to, having your van break down, those are all important things to go through. So when you reach the pinnacle level of success you can look back at all the things and say wow, I really did earn my way I worked hard and I deserve this. I think that is the better feeling, than having someone hand you a million dollar contract, hopping on a tour bus and touring with people you don’t even know and playing for ten thousand kids. If bands have done that and are happy, good for them but it’s definitely important to pay your dues one way or another. The bands that don’t pay their dues tend to fall apart quicker and tend to not really appreciate the value of what they have and the opportunity. It’s the best job in the world, there’s just nothing that beats it and to not appreciate that and to not thank God every day that you get to do that is something that I would never do and I don’t see how anyone else could. I come into contact with people that don’t appreciate this, and take it for granted and it’s really a shame because there are tons of kids that would love to do it, and would kill to walk on stage to twenty people let alone two thousand. So, I think paying dues is very important and I’m glad our band is still touring.
People know who you are.
Brian: Yeah, that’s really cool. It’s weird because my little sister and brother, when I go home, go ‘people in my class know who you are, you went on tour with Angels and Airwaves, you met Jared Leto they know who you are.’ And they trip off of that, you know what I mean. I don’t, I go home and someone knows who I am through my band and I’m just like ‘Hey I’m Brian nice to meet you.’ I’m not weirded out by it and I don’t try and avoid people, I just take it for what it is and just watch out for people who want to get close to you or get close to people who are close to you get to you. Because everyone wants someone to see you’re in a position to help them do what they want to do that they’ll exploit anyone. That’s a weird thing and not that, that has necessarily happened but I have definitely noticed people talking to me differently, that wouldn’t necessarily talk to me. You just kind of have to look for it but I’ll make friends with anybody I don’t really care who you are.
You guys and Paramore are the most humble bands I’ve met.
Brian: I saw Paramore at Warped Tour and they had their signs up and were all doing their thing and trying to hustle and they did it and they are doing very well. I’ve yet to meet them and have yet to tour with them but I have heard very good things about them. We own their CD, and they are one of our guilty pleasures. Not that they aren’t a good band but they are just fun to listen to.
Paramore gets a lot of hate because it’s a girl-fronted band.
Brian: I don’t understand why, I mean Hayley’s got a great voice; she’s a good front person. She controls the crowd, she can speak, she doesn’t have any of her band members talk for her, she’s the shit, she’s the real deal she doesn’t fuck around, good for her.
She can probably sing better than half the guys out there touring with bands but people don’t want to give her a chance because she’s a girl.
Brian: For the past five years the whole mood of the music scene has been a little misogynistic. They wrote songs like ‘my girlfriend broke up with me, I hate this girl blah, blah, blah,’ and that’s not for every band but the majority of the “emo” pop-punk, you just can’t get around it, it’s just what they’re talking about. I can’t imagine what Hayley went through in the early stages of Paramore as far as playing for people who had never heard of them, because when you get a hype going kids will come to see you just to come and see you. When you’re on a tour where no one knows where you are you have to win them over. And when a bunch of dudes see a girl walk on stage and start singing in a pop punk band, they’ll be like what, what can she possible have to say, I can’t believe her, she’s a girl. All their songs are about the same thing in reverse, there about love and loss and I think she’s actually done a lot for music. It just shows a different perspective of what that kind of music can be and I think she’s a pretty cool role model for girls too. It’s cool because she’s kind of the only one out there doing it in this particular scene that we’re a part of. So props to her.
What do you think of “emo”?
Brian: Emo is a word that has lost it’s meaning a long time ago and now it’s just a generalization of any music that come out nowadays. Anything that comes out is emo. I don’t consider my band an emo band or a screamo band but we’ve gotten it so much it’s an excuse for people to not really dull into music and dull into the really important aspects of what a band is and what makes them different from the next band. Emo to me would be a band like Sunny Day Real Estate, Jimmy Eat World… a lot of old bands, Dashboard Confessional, all those guys were doing it before it was really popular and it’s something that people weren’t afraid to be stigmatized by. These guys were going up on stage and pouring their hearts out and emo is emotional but who’s to say who the original emo is. Johnny Cash, all of his songs are really emotional and very story based so I don’t know it’s something that is really stupid and puts a bad stigma on a lot of bands. It’s not fair, I hate people that automatically write off every band as an emo band but if people are going to classify me then whatever. If their into emo and they call me an emo band it doesn’t matter that much. But it’s just perpetuating that whole ignorance about the music. That’s how I feel about emo, it’s just a word, music is music.
Are you writing your record now?
Brian: Yeah, well not right now but we’re coming off this last tour and we are going to go home and write for December and January to see if we can get enough songs together and go into the studio for February and have the record done by early March. This is all very skeptical but we just confirmed for a really good tour that I can’t tell you about, well once this is off I can but now I can’t. But we just confirmed for an amazing tour with amazing bands that I’ve been wanting to tour with for a while and we’ll be out on the road forever and ever. And then we’re going to write another record and hopefully another record after that.
Coming back to Canada?
Brian: Yeah, definitely, I love Canada. I will say that Canada is one of our favorite places to play because everyone is really, really nice to you. The drinking age is nineteen, even though I’m twenty-one it’s cool that all my band members get to drink for free, well not for free, but legally. And there’s other really good stuff here that’s illegal in America that’s fun…
Where do you see yourselves down the road?
Brian: I can’t speak for everyone in my band but I see… that is a huge, huge question. I can tell you where I want to be.
Brian: I want to have a record that I’m really proud of and that brings our message as a band, which we’re still trying to slip by and find. I want to have a fan base that’s loyal to us for the right reasons; I want to still be involved with kids as much as I am now. I want to get a chance to go overseas, I want to go to Japan, I want to go to Australia. I want to go to Switzerland really bad, I don’t know if there is a really big scene in Switzerland but I want to go. I want this band to sustain itself and be enough for all of us to really stay with it, because nowadays it’s hard to stay in a band for a really long time, since they’re not making as much money as they used to. Not that I want fame or fortune or anything but I want the band to be financially successful to the point where we can be comfortable and be able to make the best album that we can without outside pressures. Maybe one day play a really huge show that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Solid Goal is just to have a really good record that people like and that inspires other people. That’s the most important thing to because if I didn’t have those bands for me…
[Tomo from 30 Seconds To Mars stuck his head in for a minute losing Brian’s thought]
Brian: I want to inspire other people to make music and keep that whole circle going because if kids get discouraged by being in a band that ruins the whole fun of it because that’s why I’m in a band.
Thanks to Ryan and Brian for having the interview. And again to Ryan who saved my friends from the horrible security at the venue.