Category Archives: Interviews

Sullivan Interview

(As previously published in Rag Magazine, 2007)

Hailing from the quaint college town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Sullivan has
only begun turning heads in the modern rock world. After being signed by Tooth and Nail Records, the band excitedly looks forward to their promising future. On June 5th, their debut full length album Cover Your Eyes will initiate and determine that future. Vocalist Brooks Paschal, guitarists Tyson Shipman and Jeremy Stanton, drummer Phil Chamberlain, and bassist Zach Harward are hoping to “take the world by storm.”

I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with vocalist Brooks Paschal regarding their current tour, the band Underoath, and of course their new album.

RAG: In your own words, how would you describe Sullivan’s music?
Paschal: For me, the word that I continue to use to describe the band is “tension.” I think that a lot of our music has a really cool tension to it. There is underlying darkness surrounding our music, but on the surface everything sounds so sweet and happy. That’s what makes it so interesting. There is this unidentifiable tension between those two elements. Musically, it’s very uplifting, but lyrically it’s pretty disturbed and out there.

You are slated to release a new album called Cover Your Eyes on June 5th through Tooth and Nail. What can everyone expect from the album?
Paschal: I think we really came to terms with our songwriting style on this album. Overall, it’s a really dark record. It sounds pretty angry and moody. It’s also an extremely honest record.

Tell me a little about the current Tooth and Nail Tour that you are embarking on. What’s it like sharing the stage with such a stellar lineup of artists? MXPX?
Paschal: It’s been really great! Everyone is so cool and the crowds have been amazing. We’re just so lucky to be surrounded by such great bands. We are learning a lot, and of course having a great time as well.

Briefly explain how Sullivan’s writing process works.
Paschal: It’s definitely different for us. For this record, we got off tour on Thanksgiving of last year. From then on, I completely shut myself off to the world to write. I wrote everyday for about a month. Tyson, our guitarist, had a bunch of ideas that he had brought to me as well. With this record, we really learned how to work extremely well together. We bounced ideas off of each other until we had the complete arrangements put together.

Who are some of your main influences as a band?
Paschal: As a band, it’s tough. How about if I base it off of live performance? Live we are very influenced by the band At the Drive In. Looking back at footage of that band live is just unreal. I think that’s what kids want these days. They want to see something live that they can’t feel on the record. They need something special. I think we provide them with that.

You guys are from Greensboro, North Carolina. How was it trying to make it as a band in such an area? What can you say about the local music scene there?
Paschal: It’s tough there, because North Carolina is not the “Mecca” of rock. A lot of good bands have come from the area, however. If anything, being from Greensboro made us build a better work ethic. Because there isn’t that much musical competition there, it allowed us to promote ourselves more and concentrate a lot on making our music the best it can be.

At what age did you start playing music? Playing in a band?
Paschal: I was nine when I started playing piano. I was a typical high school kid that wanted to play music and be the next Green Day, you know? I started playing in a band with the guitarist Tyson in 2000. Eventually, in 2003, we started Sullivan. We have been working really hard ever since.

What has been your greatest accomplishment as a band thus far?
Paschal: This record. It’s everything that we wanted. We didn’t have to cheat ourselves and we didn’t get cheated. Tooth and Nail gave us everything we wanted and we got an awesome producer, and we got our engineer. Everything was perfect. On a personal level, it has been a great achievement staying together as a band and keeping the drive alive throughout all of the good and bad times.

Your drummer Phil Chamberlain’s brother happens to be Spencer Chamberlain; lead vocalist for the band Underoath. Do you expect any collaborations or tours together in the future, or are the genres to different to accommodate anything like that?
Paschal: We’ve toured with them a few times already, so that’s never out of the question. It never hurts playing in front of a couple thousand people every night, no matter the genre difference. We’re really good friends with those guys, so you never know what is to come. I’m sure we’ll tour again at some point.

Being in Orlando, I am obviously very familiar with the organization and “To Write Love On Her Arms” and your involvement with them. What can you say about your experiences with such a promising organization?
Paschal: It’s awesome. I met (TWLOHA president) Jamie at last year’s Cornerstone Festival in Orlando. It’s amazing that such a sweet person can do so much. The organization is exploding and I am so happy for Jamie. He put so much time and effort into it and I am glad it is starting to take off.

Aside from the release of the new CD, what else is to come for the future of Sullivan? What are your goals?
Paschal: I think all bands hope for the same thing. I hope that we tap into a success that allows us to continue playing music. We can only wish that our music reaches a ton of people. If we simply can keep playing music and are able to support ourselves along the way, we’re going to continue to work hard and do this until we’re forty. I can only hope.

Saves the Day Interview

(Published in Rag Magazine’s April 2007 issue)

No matter what happens to them, Saves the Day always seems to make the most of it. After being bounced around from label to label and losing a beloved band member to cancer (just to name a few), the band always seems to make the most out of their misfortunes. With a new album entitled Under the Boards slated for a release in the fall, band members Chris Conley, David Soloway, Manuel Carrero, and the newly recruited Durijah Lang appear to be doing better than ever. After speaking with the band’s singer/songwriter, Chris Conley, it is obvious that they possess much different values and objectives than many other groups in the industry.

RAG: In your own words, how would you describe Saves the Day’s music?
Conley: We’re an upbeat band from New Jersey that just likes to have a good time. I think we’re simply just a fun band to listen to.

You are slated to release a new album called Under the Boards in fall. What can your fans expect from the album?
Conley: It’s somewhat of a departure from Sound the Alarm, but it’s still Saves the Day. It’s going to be the record that we want to make. We have about thirteen songs that we are really excited about right now. I think that our fans will enjoy them.

What about Bug Sessions: Volume Two? Are you doing that for your fans on the new tour? If so, what kind of goodies does it have on it?
Conley: Not for this tour but we will have it some time in the future.

Tell me a little about this spring co-headlining tour with Say Anything. What should everyone expect?
Conley: It’s going to be a good time. I personally love Say Anything. We have a few rotating acts coming on and off of the tour such as The Almost, Deerhunter, and Manchester Orchestra.
They’re all such great bands.

Briefly explain how Saves the Day’s writing process works.
Conley: On most of the songs, they are born while I am playing acoustic guitar by myself. Then maybe I will throw together a couple parts and show a fragment of a song to the rest of the guys. If everyone likes it, we’ll try to flush it out from there. All of the songs definitely start with some kind of initial backbone and we slowly piece together the body.

You recorded your 2006 release Sound the Alarm in the band’s own studio dubbed ‘The Electric Ladybug.’ Tell me a little about that decision to do it yourselves and more about the studio itself? It seems like you achieved some really big sounds from the room.
Conley: Yea, we were really happy with the recording. The Electric Ladybug is just a way for us to record our music for free whenever we want. We will be recording our new album there this summer.

The single “At Your Funeral” obviously ignited a great deal of your initial success back in 2001. Did the success of the song come as a surprise to the band at all? Was it overwhelming?
Conley: I thought it was cool. It wasn’t that explosive, though. It was only somewhat of a minor hit on MTV2, you know? It did fair decently for the underground scene, but it wasn’t anything huge for us especially since the song got pulled right after 9/11. It was really just a brief glimpse of the “big time.” I am glad we were able to get out of it with our sanity in tact.

Who are some of your main influences as a band?
Conley: We look up to bands like Radiohead, Pearl Jam, and Dave Mathews Band because of the way they conduct themselves. They are very loyal to their fans and they’re not trying to succeed in the realm of the record industry, but rather trying to succeed by making great albums. That’s the way it should be.

At what age did you start playing music? Playing in a band?
Conley: I started playing music when I was six years old. I started playing cello. Then, I picked up guitar when I was thirteen. I started a band right away, and four years later we became Saves the Day.

What’s your favorite song to play live?
Conley: It changes! I have a handful of favorites. I really like singing all of them. Currently, though, I like to play “Sound the Alarm” and “Where are You?”

What has been your greatest accomplishment as a band?
Conley: Our greatest accomplishment is remaining true to ourselves and not conforming to standards of the music industry.

I heard about Pete Parada leaving the band recently. Who do you have coming in as a replacement?
Conley: We’re going to have Deraja from Glassjaw coming out with us for the tour. We are not sure about a permanent replacement yet. We’re going to take it slow.

What do you think of the current status of the music industry?
Conley: I think that the only positive aspect of the music industry is that it is so negative that it has to get better.

So, you don’t like anything about the industry?
Conley: I like the fact that the music industry has become so void of substance that most bands have to take their careers into their own hands and just directly stay in touch with their fans through the internet. I think that is the true relationship that coveys what music is all about. There never should have been any middlemen involved.

I noticed that you have a personal myspace page with only several thousand friends. How has the development of myspace a

ffected your music and overall networking? Are you actually able to chat with your fans through it?
Conley: Yes. That’s why I started it. It’s more important for us to stay invested in our fans than to only be interested in succeeding in the industry. I’d much rather have our current believers stay with us than have a hit record. The fans are truly who I care about more than anything.

Buckcherry Interview

(Published in Rag Magazine’s March 2007 issue)

Having been through a multitude of dramatic turbulence in the recent past, it’s quite a pleasure to see the straight-ahead hard rock group, Buckcherry, on top of the rock world again. The band’s latest release, 15, has already been certified gold and has taken the charts, radio, and television by storm. Their latest successes can mainly be attributed to the power of their most recent hit single, “Crazy Bitch.” It’s obvious that frontman Josh Todd, lead guitarist Keith Nelson, bassist Jimmy Ashhurst, guitarist Stevie D, and drummer Xavier Muriel are having the time of their lives again. I had the great honor of speaking with guitarist, founding member, and songwriting backbone, Keith Nelson, right before the band’s highly anticipated national tour. He spilled the beans on just about everything including the band’s 2002 breakup, life without record label support, and his unexplainable love for bicycles.

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RAG: For anyone who has been in a coma for the last eight years, how would you describe Buckcherry’s music to them?
Nelson: High energy with an IQ! We’re just a real rock and roll band. Just five guys making music that we all love making.

Your new record “15” was actually released in April of last year. In October, it was certified gold. What do you attribute all of the album’s success to?
Nelson: There are a couple of reasons. I think everybody likes the underdog story and we were definitely the underdog prior to releasing the record. There was no record deal. I think we made a really honest record. There wasn’t a huge marketing campaign for it, so we did everything ourselves. I think it had a lot to do with all of those things coming together.

How does the album “15” differ from your previous two records?
Nelson: Well, we made the record ourselves. I produced the record with two other guys. We basically made the record that we wanted to make. Nobody was there telling us what to do and what not to do. It was a different vibe. We had nothing to lose by making this record.

Briefly explain how Buckcherry’s writing process works.
Nelson: They all start in different ways. Some start with a bassline; some start with Josh and an acoustic guitar; some start with guitar riffs. For instance, the song “Crazy Bitch” started with Josh calling me and singing the chorus. I took that melody and came up with the music around that.

The hit single “Lit Up” obviously ignited a great deal of your initial success back in 1999. Did the mainstream success of the song come as a surprise to the band considering what it was about?
Nelson: Absolutely! When we wrote the song, we never imagined it being played on the radio. The record company declared it as our first single and it quickly got the attention that it did. That single alone made that record gold.

In your opinion, what is the best song you have ever written?
Nelson: There is a song off of Time Bomb called “You.” I think that that is probably one of the best songs we have ever written. Sadly, that album was severely under-promoted. You can’t even buy it anymore. It’s actually out of print now.

What has been your greatest accomplishment as a band?
Nelson: Doing what we are doing right now. Starting with nothing and making a record that has gone gold and is still in the Top 200 of the Billboard charts.

In 2002, it was confirmed that Buckcherry had “broken up.” What exactly happened?
Nelson: There were no fistfights or drama or anything like that. After the tour following the release of Time Bomb, three of the band members had quit. We got back to LA and realized that there were only Josh and myself left. We were the two guys that started the band. We tried to write new material for a few months, but I think that ultimately the idea of not having a band really weighed on us. We decided to completely take a break from everything. It just wasn’t fun anymore.

Was it difficult beginning again? Did you fear that fans had forgotten about you?
Nelson: You never know what to expect. My greatest goal was to just come out with another record. We didn’t really have any delusions that the world was waiting for our new record. We made the best record that we could and slowly recruited everyone that wanted to do business with us.

I had heard a few years back that Josh Todd was “in the running” toward becoming the front man of what ended up becoming Velvet Revolver? I later read that you were actually given songwriting credit for the VR song “Dirty Little Thing.” The whole situation seems crazy to me. What exactly happened?
Nelson: There is not much to say about it. Velvet Revolver is a great band and now my band is back together. During the few months when Josh and I did not have a band, we had rehearsed a few times with the guys of VR. The situation didn’t end up working out, but I am really happy that those guys persevered. They are a really great band. They have a new record coming out this year. I think we all ended up in a good place.

What do you think about the newer bands / styles of music that are coming to life?
Nelson: There are some really awesome bands right now. I’m a huge fan of My Chemical Romance. I really like the All-American Rejects. There’s a
band called Black Stone Cherry that I love. I am a Shinedown fan. There is some really great new music out there if you are willing to dig for it. There are all of these emo bands with their weird haircuts and whatnot, but some of those bands are simply amazing.

What do you like to do when you’re not playing music?
Nelson: I like to get away from music. I like to ride a motorcycle. I like to ride bicycles, too.

Really? Bicycles?
Nelson: I know it’s probably weird trying to picture a big guy covered in tattoos riding a bicycle, but I really enjoy it.

What is to come for the future of Buckcherry? (New CD, upcoming tours, etc…..)
Nelson: There is probably going to be a DVD being shot over the summer for a winter release. There are some talks of doing a live record. Of course, there will be tons more touring and doing what we have been doing until nobody wants to hear us anymore.

Gym Class Heroes Interview

(Published in Rag Magazine; May 2007 issue)

Between the die hard hip-hop fans and the teeny boppers surrounding me in the large, dark, and mysterious structure of Orlando’s Club at Firestone, I wasn’t completely sure whether I had somehow ended up at either a 50 Cent or a Christina Aguilera concert. Throw in a cluster of art-alternative rockers (obviously in attendance to see the RX Bandits), and you have yourself quite a diverse audience.

With such an assorted blend of listeners, it was no surprise to witness every inch of the venue’s spaces being filled shortly after the doors opened. It was difficult to fathom that the newly-famous Gym Class Heroes (GCH) possessed the power to summon more than 1,000 screaming fans to a show, when only two years prior they were living humbly out of a battered bus.

The band’s recent success seems to have come out of nowhere following their recent re-release of the hit single “Cupid’s Chokehold” – a song that continues to not only conquer pop radio stations, but also MTV’s TRL. Prior to the re-release of the song, GCH seemed to be doing alright for themselves with their 2006 release entitled As Cruel As School Children. They also managed to congregate a large independent fan base with their previous full length Papercut Chronicles, which offered a rawer and more organic side of the band. Their unique blend of hip-hop, pop, and modern rock appears to be more prominent and more accessible to the masses on As Cruel As School Children. Their current success can easily be attributed to their more attainable sound, but their continued support from both Fall Out Boy and their Florida-based indie record label Fueled By Ramen does not seem to cause any detriment to their musical triumphs.

Despite their speedy success, GCH still know exactly who they are, and understand how to display that notion on stage. Classified simply as “great stage entertainers” by many music critics, band members – Travis McCoy, Matt McGinley, Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo and Eric Roberts have still managed to keep their feet on the ground while maintaining their signature humility.

RAG Magazine had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with the only two remaining founding members of GCH. Slightly hidden under his large hooded sweatshirt, MC/Vocalist Travis McCoy and the rather timid drummer Matt McGinley presented themselves to me with not-so-surprising smiles on their faces. It was obviously appropriate to assume that they are thoroughly enjoying every minute of their recent victorious journey to the summit of the modern music scene.

RAG: It has been quite a rapid leap to success for GCH. It almost seems like your mainstream success ensued overnight. Are you overwhelmed by everything that is happening to you?
McGinley: The only reason that I know we have become more successful is from people telling me that we have. It really does not feel like a whole lot has changed for me.

A lot of your recent success was mainly incited by the re-release of the hit single “Cupid’s Chokehold;” a song that also holds a spot on your previous record. Whose idea was it to release the song again?
McCoy: It was pretty much the people’s decision. They started playing the song on the radio in Milwaukee and requests for it gradually picked up. Other radio stations began to add it and the song eventually caught fire. We just figured we had to roll with the momentum of the song.

GCH obviously possess a unique sound. Did you set out to make something different or is the overall sound an end result of individual influences?
McGinley: We obviously wanted to do something as a band and a lot of us are deeply rooted to hip-hop. I think we naturally developed our overall style that way.

Who are some of your main influences?
McGinley: Bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, and 311. When I met Travis he put me onto KRS-One and the entire hip-hop scene and that had a huge impact on me as well.

Now that you are headlining your own tour, how do you go about developing an interesting lineup of opening acts that will complement your sound?
McCoy: It’s a really cool thing! We don’t really fit in anywhere, so now that we can pick who we play with, we decided on acts that offer a little something for everybody.
K-OS is super-charismatic hip-hop. P.O.S. is a more aggressive hip-hop act. The RX Bandits are just an insane rock band. It’s a pretty cool lineup!

Was it difficult for you guys to fit in on a bigger tour when you were one of those opening acts?
McCoy: It usually took the crowd a few songs to really get into us. But that’s how it always has been with us.
McGinley: I always found it exciting to play on such different bills and attempt to convert their crowd onto us.

What kind of bands do you think you mesh best with live?
McCoy: I don’t know. We’ve played with everybody: Run DMC, Mobb Deep, Rusted Root. They all went great!

What’s your favorite track off of the new album?
McCoy: For me, it has to be “Viva La White Girl.”

As Cruel As School Children offers a plethora of diverse facets of GCH. Explain the writing process for the record and how you develop the mood and vibe of each song.
McCoy: Before we made the record, we decided that we wanted to record a “summertime” album. A lot of the songs capture that type of energy. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re all just having fun. For this record, it was our first time working with producers and the first time we had a lot of time to work in the studio. We recorded Papercut Chronicles in three days. It w

as definitely a different experience for us this time around.

To quote the new album, Travis you said, “We’re still your favorite I-heard-about-them-first band.” What can you say to fans who may oppose your recent mainstream success?
McCoy: That concept is never going to change. I’ve been there! I’ve been that kid that’s been into a band and watched them explode and it has made me bitter. At the end of the day though, who doesn’t want to be successful? Nobody gets into this business not to make it. It’s a weird situation, but if you knew us personally, we are still the same people that we were two years ago.