Actually it was just one of those things where we all formed in high school. I started the band and so everybody goes through that college "what do I want to do with my life" phase. You find out who really wants to do it and who first wanted to do it in high school so that was the case scenario of what happened. Everybody had spread different ways and so we would just keep getting new members. We have a really great group of guys right now. I'm super blessed to be with them and we all have a lot of fun together. We enjoy making tapes together.
You guys are a trio right now but you're looking for a fourth member.
Yeah, we've always been a four piece band but the last year and a half we've been looking for a new guitar player. We've flown just tons of guys in. Over 30 guys from the States and all over and just haven't found the right guy. The last six months or so we've had Jaime Aplin playing with us. He's a buddy of mine from a band I used to work with that I was bringing to our label. They ended up breaking up so he came out and he's been working out awesome. Things are going really well. We're just still trying to figure out what's up with that.
You guys got signed to Tooth And Nail Records. How's that going?
It's been very, very cool to be honest. They're super passionate about the band and passionate about music in general so they've been very, very cool. We had been talking to separate labels at the time and they're really the only label that we really felt actually cared other than just numbers and money. It was very cool.
Seems like music is big business these days.
It is indeed. It's funny how much of it is business. Almost more than music these days but it's all good.
Is Phenomenon your first major release?
Yeah, in a way it is. We had two independent records before that and one of them had distribution in Canada and the U.S. but not as widespread as Phenomenon. It's our first time actually having full distribution through EMI in Europe and Japan as well.
The guy who helped you produce it is Aaron Sprinkle who worked with MXPX.
Yeah, he did those guys and quite a few other bands. We got hooked up with him through the label and actually just hit it off. He's just a good buddy of mine now. He was great. He was fun to work with and he's a talented guy. We had fun.
How does Phenomenon differ from your other two releases?
I think it's a little more of a focused rock record. We wanted to make something that was in its own way genuine. We used to mess with using hip-hop and rock a whole bunch back in the day. Six years ago. We had a ton of fun doing it and at the time really Rage was the only band doing it and maybe Chili that everybody had heard of. That just became this huge scene now where there's 200 bands come out that all sound the same. We really didn't want to get thrown in that category so we just chose to refocus and try to do something fresh and new.
That is a problem. A lot of bands are rather homogenous. No one has any real individuality. I grew up in the 70's and 80's. You knew who Gene Simmons or Vince Neil were. Now it's hard to distinguish.
True. You have your figurehead bands and then you have 20 bands that sound just like them. That's the way it rolls I guess.
Do you write most of the lyrics?
Yeah, I write most of the stuff on just an acoustic at home. Then I'm very blessed to be in a crew with a bunch of really talented musicians as well. We have a lot of fun together.
I thought it was cool when you said you like to sit on the hood of your car with an acoustic guitar and some candles.
It's just one of those things. I love to do that whenever I get a chance. That's where most of the record was developed.
I think atmosphere has a lot to do with it.
Totally for sure. It has a lot to do with it even in the studio to capture certain performances and the vibe of certain songs. It can make a difference between something that you can really feel and just another take.
You have a lot of fans who e-mail you and confide personal problems to you.
Right. That's a bit of a shocker actually from this record. We've gotten quite a few e-mails and calls about different kids dealing with everything from suicide to child abuse and a lot of really serious issues. It's been a real privilege I guess you could say to even have the platform to talk to them and hopefully through the music and through our hearts just to maybe leave them with a little something that might possibly help them in their lives. We definitely don't claim to have all the answers or anything like that at all. All we can really do is just share our hearts and what we believe with them and try to encourage them. It's been kind of shocking. It's been a bit of an eye opener I guess you could say, how many kids out there and they're not just kids even, whatever ages of people that just don't really realize that they have hope. That there's anything else out there. When someone like that e-mails you and says you're the best friend they have and you only met them for 15 minutes at a show, it's definitely an eye opener. It makes you thankful for the friends and the surroundings that you do have.
I've noticed lately that kids seem to have a darker, bleaker outlook on life and their futures. I suspec that the political atmosphere right now plays a large part in that.
Right, I agree. With music too. We've been blessed to have a bit of a platform to speak our minds and speak what's on my mind through music to kids and to whoever. That's just a real privilege and something that we don't take very lightly. We love to have a good time and that's what we're about but in the same sense I think there are a lot of artists that misuse their privilege and don't maybe fully understand that. Not everyone but there's a large group of people out there that take exactly everything they're saying seriously even if they're just doing it for fun.
In a way that's kind of scary because you really shouldn't get too intense on other people. I've heard people say this actor said this and that musician said that and they just take it to heart. I wonder if you really should have that kind of idolization of another human being.
That's the thing. We're all human so I don't know that that's a good idea. I guess we can just do what we can do. Try to make even a small impact if we can.
When I grew up of course there were teenagers who committed suicide but teen suicide and depression seems to be a lot more common now.
Yeah, I think it totally does and that was something that was pretty evident to us. It was a nice touch to at least be able to touch on some real life issues on this record. Our past stuff has been more of party records. It's sweet. We love that stuff and I think this record still has a lot of fun and a lot of energy to it but at least it allowed us to evolve a little bit and allowed me to talk about some stuff that was just in my heart and on my mind.
Tell us about Lamplight.
Lamplight is a company that we just got in touch with and actually Steve, our drummer from TFK, was the one who first got connected with them. It's a company that's just based around being there for kids who are suicidal and contemplating suicide or who have problems with even thoughts of that or whatever the case may be. They can call or go to www.lamplight.com. There is a phone number on there that you can call any hour of the day and talk to these people. That's their profession and what they do so it's a pretty awesome thing. When you get calls like that or someone e-mails you and says they're going to commit suicide tonight or tomorrow and what can you say to change their mind, like I said all we can really do is tell them our heart and try to encourage them and we're definitely not professionals on the issue so at least we can pass them on to someone who is.
Tell us about the new album.
Phenomenon has got a variety of music on it stylistically. It's definitely a rock record and it's got a lot of heavy groove based songs on it. That's something that we're big into. It's even got a ballad that sticks out a little bit on the record but overall we're really happy with it. It's a little taste of what we wanted to do and I feel good about the songs. We've been really excited about the response that it's been getting and we feel blessed for sure.
Is that a direction that you're going to keep going in or are you going to try something different next time?
I think so. Direction wise I think we're always going to try to do something fresh and something new. That's our goal anyway and we'll always strive for that. I think we found at least a direction that we feel most comfortable with at this point. As a writer I enjoy writing a lot of different styles of music and that might also come out a little bit on the next record. It's hard to say.
You guys wanted a matrix style CD cover.
It actually got misconstrued. What that was supposed to mean, where that came from, was the name Phenomenon actually. The whole meaning behind it was more so just to represent almost a matrix style subculture of people who just have faith and believe in the power of the unseen. That was the whole idea behind it.
You guys have a side band called FM Static.
Yeah, we started it a year ago. I started it with Steve Augustine, our drummer from Thousand Foot Krutch. We're both in it and we have a couple of other friends that play with us. It's been super fun. We released the record about eight months ago. Our second single just got released but both of them have been doing pretty well and we're stoked about it. It's something we just did for fun and I had written a lot of the songs actually already and wasn't sure what to do with them. We had a chance to do it and it was just a fun musical adventure. It's completely different than Thousand Foot Krutch though. Just allows an artistic way to do something different. It's been really rad. Just the response that we've gotten from that as well and we've been having a ton of fun. We've done a lot of tours actually with both bands. We just always have to make it with a band in between so we have a breather and we can change clothes and instruments.
You have a clothing line called Reakt Clothing.
Yeah, I'm really excited about it. It's called Reakt Clothing and you can check it out at www.reaktclothing.com. It's been a lot of fun. We started this year and we're still seeking distribution actually in Canada and in the U.S., trying to get that sorted out so it's mostly online right now and at our own shows. It's been doing really well. We do everything from tees and hats and patches to we're going to do skate docks and guys/girls stuff and belts. We endorsed Thousand Foot Krutch and FM Static and then Three Days Grace actually. They're friends of mine from our home town. We actually used to have a house together and do a lot of writing and messing around together. It's good to see those guys doing so well. We've been having a ton of fun with it so you'll have to check it out.
Your drummer has a production company called String Noise.
Yeah, they're actually doing the production for this tour that we're on right now. It seems to be going well.
You guys are pretty much doing your own thing without having to rely a lot on other people.
It's the way we like to do it. It's been a blessing. I think we're able to do a lot of those other things because of the band. It opens the door. Why not take advantage of it?
You guys are on tour right now.
Yeah, we're just a couple of weeks into a two month U.S. tour. It's been going great. It's been awesome. We've been having a ton of fun. All the bands get along great and I think three quarters of the shows so far have been sold out so that's been nice. We can't complain.
Where have you guys been so far?
We did a week in Texas. A lot of shows in Texas. A lot of Mexican food. We went from there to Arizona. We've been to Colorado. San Diego yesterday. We have a day off today actually in L.A., sort of a day off. Tomorrow we'll play in Redding, CA. We just keep moving.
Are you guys touring the whole country?
Pretty much, yeah. We're pretty much hitting as much as we can. I think we have 46 shows in 50 days or something crazy like that. It's nutty but it's fun.
Any overseas dates?
Yeah, we actually had a couple of weeks planned out there about a month ago before this tour and it got rain checked. We had to postpone because one of our guys didn't get his passport in time. We're hoping to do some stuff fairly soon both in Europe and Japan actually.
Any other thoughts or comments?
I think we covered everything. That's awesome. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Thousand Foot Krutch